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Of Candles and Bits [Bannhammer, Remedy]


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There was a pause as Max mulled ver what had just been said. Bastion was correct, but Maximilian had a different approach in mind.

"I don't wish to cover up the stone, Bastion, I wish to destroy it. That legacy should be brought to light and then eradicated without mercy."

Passion sparked in the Rockefilly's eyes, and for a split second he allowed his own sense of righteousness and repentance consume him before forcibly moving it back to his deeper depths. Once the fervor subsided, the rich Unicorn looked at Bastion blankly.

"What were we...?" He facehoofed. "Ah yes, the ticket. Well Bastion, I appreciate your humor, but this ticket will be in every pay check you receive. It is not that I wish for you to leave, I just believe that I should be fair about this. At any time, you can pack up and leave."

"Of course, you'll still need to at least make the trip to Stalliongrad to kick off my newest project. The journey will unfortunately take longer than it should, mainly because of the modest rail system we have. That's what we're going to fix, Bastion. The future of this country is in its rails, believe me." 

Maximilian looked around. "Once we finish this problem, the Equestrian railroads will be the veins of this world." His eyes glazed over, as if he was staring into the future itself. It only lasted a moment before he shook his head and chuckled.

"But listen to me, rambling about business when we've still got time to spend here in town."

Maximilian looked at Bastion. "So I assume you don't want the ticket?"

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Bastion slowly shook his head. "I don't think having a ticket in each of my paychecks is fair at all." He huffed and began walking somewhere, anywhere. Maybe towards Madame Bistro's. He stopped and looked back at the Rockefilly. "We have more sight-seeing to do, yes?"

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Max nodded. Whether or not Bastion liked it didn't matter, the Rockefilly felt that it was only fair to give the stallion a choice. He would have liked to qualify his position, but Bastion stormed off in a hurry. Maximilian quickly followed and caught up to the younger stallion. "I hope you understand... I only wish to offer you a fair chance to leave if circumstances change."

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The pony blinked and looked at him squarely. "If circumstances change, I would be honest with you. Giving me the opportunity to pack up my things and leave whenever I want makes it seems like you're trying to get me to second guess my decision." Perhaps he was diving too far into this topic. It wasn't often that he over-analyzed things that shouldn't matter, but it made him think Rockefilly was insecure; that it would be easier for him if Bastion left quietly and never came back. The white stallion shook his head free from those deductions.

"But do what you will. I am here to do as you ask."

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Max stopped and looked at Bastion. "I am merely presenting you with the chance to do as you please. If you, like so many other ponies in my life, decide that they would rather leave than stick around, then I will present no challenge to your desires."

The stallion sighed and continued on. "If you think that I am pushing you away, then that is once again my fault. You may be here to serve me, but that does not mean that I will not respect you and your wishes. I will continue to put that ticket with your paycheck, and you may refuse is as many times as you like. If you ever feel the need to leave, I will not stop you."

With a disgruntled sigh, Maximilian passed Bastion and headed away. "I think you may have questions for me, so ask them."

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Was this conversation over yet? It was starting to annoy him. "No questions, sir."

Bastion followed after the other pony, walking in stride next to him. His wings were beginning to droop. He corrected it once he caught himself and held those feathery appendages tight against his body. The pony looked ahead at the other buildings and spoke into the air. "You'll get stronger. Then you won't have to be so insecure." His eyes came back to Maximillian's blue eyes. He just gave a gentle smile. That line may have been harsh, but he figured the Rockefilly would be able to handle such comments.

"I've talked more honestly with you than I ever have with anyone at the Academy." The pony relaxed. "A steward should be their master's silent second shadow... That's what I was taught. I never cared for that rule, but that's what they wanted. It was the one thing there was no loopholes around, it seemed." He blinked again, and turned to the road ahead of them. "I made it through with few words, and now I am here, using my tongue more than I am accustomed to. However, you asked me to speak my mind. For that I am grateful. If you hadn't told me to, I'd probably be as silent as a, well..., a shadow."

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Max's ears flattened a bit at Bastion's comments. He had never really thought of himself as insecure, he just considered it a sense of realism, if not cynicism. The words stung, but the Rockefilly quickly shrugged them off and continued on. He wouldn't hold it against the stallion for saying that, rather, he was glad that at least this pony was willing to speak honestly with him.

"Bastion, in the coming months, you'll learn that I am not the usual pony. Speak when you wish, do not silence yourself merely because you were told that it was a rule. As you'll come to know with me, there are always loopholes." Max smiled and lead on, looking for anything of interest.

"Well, I suppose we could grab a quick cup of coffee, that would be nice..."

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Bastion noted the reaction he got, and was relieved that the Rockefilly didn't get offended by it. This was a relationship that was going to be an interesting one, for sure. A nod later and they were on their way once more. The sky had turned a warm shade of orange since they left, but it was by no means near nightfall. "Coffee does sound wonderful. Though I'm more of a tea pony, myself."

As they came closer to their destination, the white stallion trotted ahead and held the door open for Maximillian. He could smell the wonderful things wafting out of the doorway of Madame Bistro's. He could tell this was going to be one of his favorite places.

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Max nodded as he entered. "Thank you, Bastion." The Rockefilly moved towards a table for two, trotting slowly, but with a certain air about him. The few ponies that were also inside tipped their hats to the pair, and Max took a seat off to the side.

Maximilian waited for Bastion to take a seat, and he motioned for the waiter to approach. Once his employee was comfortable, the rich Unicorn placed his order.

"Coffee, strong, hot."

The waiter nodded at Maximilian and turned to face Bastion for his order.

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"A hot citrus tea if you have, two lumps. Also, may I have some honey in that as well," he smiled to the waitress and slipped into his seat. "Coming right up, sirs!" she immediately left to place their order. It was odd indeed to be sitting across from his employer, but this kind of informality was to be expected of the other pony by now. He wasn't going to complain either. It was delightful to be treated like a living, breathing pony for once in this position, not that he never got used to being treated like a doornail. Quite frankly, he expected it. So with all of this coming into view, a pony might be able to understand how boggled he was. Still, he kept his calm demeanor.

"You must come here often," he let his eyes wander around the small cafe and made sure to smile at every pony who glanced in their direction. The waitress took only a few moments to gather their hot beverages. She placed the orders in front of their respective pony and stood around a moment longer, "Would you sirs like anything to eat as well?"

The white stallion smiled at her and shook his head politely. "I'm fine, thank you." The waitress smiled and looked to Maximillian for his reponse.

Bastion turned to his teacup and admired its decoration. This was the last place he'd expect to find anything intricate. Then again, Maximillian Rockefilly lived here. The thought made him chuckle slightly, and he lowered his muzzle to the rim of the cup. The brew was delicious, with just with the right amount of honey and sweetener.

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The beverages arrive, and Max looked at the waiter as she asked them about any food they would like. "I'd love a frosty cream puff." With that, the waiter left and the two stallions were alone again.

The Rockefilly had heard Bastion's comment. "Why yes, this is the place where I go every morning for a cup of coffee." He levitated his mug up towards his mouth and took a gulp of the black elixir.

"Strong, just how I like it." Max set the cup down and grinned at the pony across from him.

"Did you know that Madame Bistro is from Manehattan? She's a nice mare... The first one to support my project here in Appleoosa. I guess visiting here all the time is my way of repaying her for that."

"Do you have any idea of what I'm trying to do, or have I not clued you in yet?"

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Another pony from Manehattan was here? It would have been hard to believe at first. They must be crafting some really humble ponies in the big apple recently. He smiled.

"You haven't told me the details of your project, sir. You merely hinted at it in a few words, but even with that I couldn't figure it out. So, what does my humble master have up his fine-pressed sleeve?" He continued drinking his tea, leaving a few minutes between each sip.

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The rich Stallion sipped his coffee and grabbed a nearby napkin and pulled out a pen from the inside pocket of his Tux. He scribbled a map of Equestria and drew a few lines crisscrossing it.

"This is our country." Max pointed to the lines on the napkin. "And these are our railways. A few sporadic lines of steel that span short distances and serve as nothing more than transportation for those unwilling to go by carriage."

"Appleoosa is out here, on the periphery, and the entire western half of Equestria is isolated from the more advanced, and therefore more prosperous, East."

"I came here to Appleoosa, because I saw potential. A gateway to the west and the gryphon lands through which the products of Stalliongrad could flow through. Of course, there is one problem."

"Appleoosa isn't connected to Stalliongrad. Even if one were to use the twisted system, one would have to make many stops and transfers, simply to get from one place to the other. These are passenger rails, not fit for freight."

"My goal is to create a new rail system, spanning the entire country and finally linking up the farthest east to the farthest west. The products of Stalliongrad will finally reach the west, and the food of the west will nourish the ponies of the east. And, to top it all off, I plan to tunnel through the mountains to connect us to the gryphons at Rockwington."

"This is the most audacious project anypony has undertaken. This is why I need you to go to Stalliongrad and deliver that letter. I can't do this alone, and I need the help of the big industries."

"And that is what I have up my sleeves."

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As the pony listened, observing the napkin, he didn't realize how far forward he had begun to lean. A part of him was stricken with disbelief, and the other part, amazed. "I didn't know you were such an entrepreneur, Sir. What's your doing is going to be astonishing. I'm honored to be a part of it." Bastion smiled and sat up straight in his chair, finishing off the tea with a final sip. "Count on me to get the envelope where you need it to go," he tilted his nose into the air, "Did you say you needed me to present it?"

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Maximilian smiled and sipped his coffee, happy to hear what Bastion had to say. "You know what they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained." The Rockefilly put the mug down and looked at the other pony with a wide smile and bright eyes. "I'm quite pleased to know that I'll have a dependable pony assisting me in this."

"And yes, you will need to present it. You are going to the anniversary celebration of Northern Storm Industries, there you will find and greet the Snowfall, the CEO. You will politely inform her who sent you, and why you are there. Once you have the floor, you will read the note aloud. Then... then we see what happens from there."

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