Chapter 7: Visitors
While the Ponyville Post was being produced on the press downstairs, the two ponies had dinner. Since their toaster was a bust, they ordered a toasted bermuda sandwich to go from the diner. During dinner, Headline asked Inkblot how Canterlot was and about his new cutie mark. Most of what Inkblot told him was technically true due to his bending of the truth, a skill he had acquired from the HPIRT business. For instance, when his dad asked if he saw the show, Inkblot answered with "The show was cancelled. Some magic accident happened." Or when asked what his cutie mark meant, instead of lying with his rehearsed story, he just said that he wasn't quite sure.
The next morning, all the papers were printed. After hearing about the robbery, Snapshot recruited one of her friends named Pipsqueak to volunteer as a paperboy. Usually it was Inkblot's job to deliver papers, but he was more than happy to give it up to the little colt.
As soon as he woke up, which was hours after Pipsqueak delivered the papers, Inkblot went straight for the laptop as if he hadn't just woken up from a 12 hour slumber. He was just too interested in what the response to his article from the HPIRT would be. With breakneck speed, the now experienced unicorn opened and powered the laptop using magic muscle memory, so to speak.
The screen showed where he had left off, CamSystem. He moved the cursot to the bottom and clicked on Gmail, which opened, revelaing a pair of new messages. He started at the bottom bolde messages, since he had learned that the newest were on top, where it said:
"NOTIFICATION: MEMORY SUPPRESSANT DISPENSED
SUPPLIED TO: ID4672
THE SUPPLY OF MEMORY SUPPRESSANT HAS BEEN COMPLETELY DEPLETED. PLEASE RESUPPLY."
This news was good and bad for Inkblot. The good news was that they were out of suppressant. Now nopony else would get a memory wipe after this. The bad news was Hopkins drew it, and he drew enough to make Inkblot forget everything after the Ursa attack. Including the kiss. But one thing puzzled him to no end. What was "Goodbye"? Was that his codename or sonething? Was he saying goodbye? If so, then who was he saying goodbye to? Maybe he'd get answers later. Because he seemed to always get his questions answered.
He moved on to the email before it. It was labeled "Problem", and it was from "You" to "Thiessen". So it was Hopkins. Inkblot started reading again.
"I'm currently at the HPIRT base in Equestria, and I found who the spy spotted. He goes by the name of Hearth, and he claims he has no idea what we're even talking about. He doesn't know what it is, much less where it is. Believe him. He's the wrong pony. He doesn't even match my description.
This means that there's still a pony out there with the laptop. Whoever this pony is, I didn't think he'd take a pony's identification and let some other pony take the fall. He's clever, that's for sure.
Anyway, we have another problem at hand. I was going to get some memory suppresant when I got a nice little message from the notification service. It turns out someone took the last of it! We don't have any more of it, and we don't get stocked for another week. Since the suppressant doesn't work very well, We'll have to dipose of the "Hearth" somehow. In any other instance, I'd kill him, but he appears to be the owner of a hotel in Canterlot, and who knows how much press he could have following him. We can't release him for the same reason. Do you recommend the Power Leaf mixture? The HPIRT are telling me that's an option, but they won't tell me what it is.
Just respond to me as soon as possible.
PS The target on the notification about the memory suppressant was "Goodbye". What does that mean? Is someone leaving the team mid-mission?"
Great! More questions! If Hopkins wasn't ID4672, then who was? Whoever it was, he's the one who wiped Trixie's memory. And now he has enough memory suppressant to wipe his memory clean of anything HPIRT-related. What was Hopkins going to do to Hearth? Would he just kill him anyway? And if they don't get stocked for another week, would that suppressant save their lives? Finally, what's the Power Leaf mixture? If it was an alternative to death, it had to be something important.
Well, his day was open, so he could hunt for answers. Inkblot started with the Power Leaf thing. He had a feeling the Power Leaf was something found in Equestria, so it's information was probably recorded somewhere. The unicorn shut down the laptop as he headed to the library. That librarian seemed quite friendly, so she was probably willing to help.
He headed down the stairs, but was interrupted at the doorway. As he opened the door, we was almost hit in the face by somepony who was about to knock.
"Whoops! Sorry about that!" Twilight said cheerfully. The purple pony smiled at seeing Inkblot, who was surprised at her prescence.
"Oh! Hey Twilight! Funny, I was just about to head to the library. So what're you up to?"
Suddenly, Inkblot heard a voice behind him. "Well hello there. Who's this, Inkblot?" It was his dad.
"Oh, uh, dad. This is Twilight Sparkle. She's the librarian here." he said a Twilight extended a hoof.
"Pleased to meet you. You must be Headline," she said in her friendly voice.
"That's me. Pleasure to meet you, ma'am. So what brings you to our humble abode?" Headline asked after shaking the mare's hoof.
Suddenly, Twilight gave an anxious laugh. "Actually I need to talk to Inkblot. In privacy. If you don't mind."
Inkblot's father responded to her request by looking at his son with raised eyebrows. Being his son, Inkblot learned how to read Headline's looks. This one said, "Lucky colt. You must've caught yourself a nice one in Canterlot." Fortunately, while she was a librarian, Twilight couldn't read his looks. The pale colt just hoped she couldn't guess what it said from how red his cheeks were.
"Sure, you can use Inkblot's room. I'm sure he wouldn't mind it, right?" he said suggestively.
Inkblot gulped. His laptop was still out. "That sounds like a great idea. But I just got up and I really have to make my bed. You know, spruce the room up a bit."
"No you don't. You're gonna be getting back in it," Headline whispered jokingly.
"What'd he say?"
"Nothing!" they both said at the same time. Inkblot picked up the conversation to avoid awkward questions. "Hey, I'm gonna go make the bed." With that, he left Twilight alone with his dad. He was unsure if that was a great idea, but his top priority was to hide the laptop.
The pony's room was messy, to say the least. It was more than likely the bed that gave this impression. He hid the laptop in a drawer as a temporary hiding spot until Twilight was gone. Then he used his magic to make his bed. Again, he wasn't one to lie. He just had a knack for stretching the truth.
Rushing to ensure that his father wasn't telling Twilight any embarassing information about him, Inkblot arrived to the bottom of the stairwell where the pair of unicorns were talking. "Hey! Made the bed!"
"Oh good, let's go!" she said anxiously running up the stairs, leaving Inkblot behind. The two colts were left surprised by the sudden dashing away.
There was a brief silence before Headline gave his son a nudge. "Go get 'er."
"Dad! You know it's-"
"I know, I know. I only tease. But be careful. When mares want privacy with a stallion, then that stallion's in for somethin'-"
"Yeah, yeah. Got it," he interrupted. He didn't want to think of that possibility. He still liked Trixie, and didn't want any drama.
Inkblot entered his room to see Twilight waiting for him. "So what'd you come over for?" he asked as he shut the door. The second the door shut, he felt his four hooves become attracted to the door. By the time he noticed that the purple unicorn's horn was glowing, he was pinned to the door. Unable to move, he merely struggled as the mare moved closer to him. He tried using magic, but her more powerful magic blocked his ability to use it. He nearly yelled the first thing that came to mind. "I have a fillyfriend!"
This made Twilight back away, blushing. "Oh! I wasn't going to, uh, you know, do THAT!"
"Oh. Well, could you, um, let me down please?" he asked, trying to break free of the awkward tension.
"Do you promise not to run away? No matter what?"
"Depends on what you're about to tell me," Inkblot answered, trying to get the information out as soon as possible.
The purple mare looked around, as if to see if anypony was watching. Then she sighed, seeming to brace herself for however Inkblot might react. "It's about your article in the paper."
Sensing where this was going, he decided to play dumb. "You did all this just for my article? What is it, some-"
"There was no anonymous source you got that from, was there?"
Inkblot tried again to move, but kept the grunts to himself. He continued to stretch the truth by simply avoiding it? "Why do you care about the source so much? Is he some sort of target for-"
"Inkblot!" she nearly shouted.
"Can you please let me down?"
"Not until you tell me where the laptop is!"
"You're part of the HPIRT! Aren't you?"
"Listen! There's no point in lying! After Hopkins chased you halfway up the mountain, he sent out a description. A description of you! And now you're posting about the HPIRT in the paper! It's obvious you're up to something and I am NOT letting you go until you tell me what you're up to!" she spilled. The mare said it herself. There's no point in lying, and she followed that credo by telling him all of this. Inkblot was worried about how he might get his memory taken, and felt dumb for telling her so much about him.
Inkblot, still pinned to the wall, gave a large sigh, hanging his head. "I'm losing my memory, aren't I?"
"Actually," Twilight suddenly released him as he fell to the ground. "You get to keep your memory. This little encounter will have never happened."
Inkblot lit up, but still held a sarcastic tone. There had to be a catch. "Let me guess. In exchange for the laptop."
"I just want to know what you're up to. I'm not a part of the HPIRT division of the show, but I do know that you'd have to be crazy to actually call them directly to you."
She just wanted to come by to see why he put out the article? It seemed suspicious, but hey! Telling her would work just fine with his plan.
"Well it's a pretty simple plan," Inkblot started humbly. "The HPIRT will read the article, and try to find out who the anonymous source is I mentioned in the article. So they'll come into my room and question me. At that point, I'll show them I'm the pony with the laptop, and exchange the laptop for something I need."
"Well, what do you need?"
"A password. A password that shows all of the recordings from the cameras. If I could see that, then I'd be able to find whoever robbed our house."
Twilight frowned, preparing to give bad news. "It only records footage necessary to make episodes. You won't find whoever robbed your house on the cameras."
Well, that did it for his plan. "Perfect," he said with a clear sarcasm. "So now I just put up a sign in the paper telling the HPIRT to come and get me?"
There was a silence. It rang through the room as the two unicorns reflected on Inkblot's failed plan. In fact, the plan backfired. He could still always trade the laptop away for something else. Maybe just to keep his memory, or as a way to save Hearth. Or both. Inkblot broke the silence. "So, you said you're not a part of the HPIRT. What do you do?"
"I'm a main actress. Basically, the show revolves around the life in Ponyville for me and my friends," she explained as she layed down on top of the bed he made. The colt thought that it was a dumb idea for a show, but he didn't have the heart to tell her.
"Promise not to talk to them about this?"
"I've been keeping secrets for a good amount of time already."
"Let's see. First, there's Applejack."
"The earth pony from Sweet Apple Acres?"
This surprised Inkblot. He never really saw the orange pony as the star of a show. Then again, he didn't know her that well. He just saw the pony bucking apples every so often.
"There's Rainbow Dash."
"Don't know her," the black-maned pony responded as he walked over to the bed Twilight had layed down on.
"Oh! Yeah! She seems showy, like she'd be center stage." He remembered going to Carousel Boutique once to fix one of his father's suits. Calling her showy was an understatement. In fact, he felt like he should watch the show to see if she was being dramatic for the camera as she fixed the suit.
"Fluttershy is one of them."
This made Inkblot laugh out loud. Fluttershy?? The pegasus who takes care of the animals? "You're joking, right?"
Twilight joined in with the laughter. "Actually, no. I'm serious. She's a part of it."
The colt's laugh died down. "She couldn't put herself in front of a camera if she tried."
"Well, believe me, convincing her wasn't easy. We had to tell her that the people watching would never meet her, and that they would all love her."
"I don't know. It's still a new show. The first episode of it just aired on television."
"Oh, it's like a little box that shows movies on it. The humans have it in their home."
Suddenly, the purple mare got up from the bed. "Well, I'm done here. I did what I need to do, and as much as I love talking to you, there are just other things to do, you know."
Inkblot followed her as she approached the door, opening it for her. "Of course. So long."
"Bye," she said, waving as she went down the hallway, toward the stairs.
Suddenly, Inkblot remembered something that he meant to ask. The reason he was about to leave for the library. "Hey! One more thing! What's a Power Leaf?"
The librarian stopped in the hall, speaking loudly to ensure the colt with the black circle around his eye heard her. "It's a magical herb put in mixtures to intensify its effects. Very very powerful."
With that, she was off, leaving Inkblot to wonder what in the hay the Power Leaf would do. It was probably for the memory thing, so it just made the memory erasers stronger. Is that what they were going to use for him? Only time would tell.
The remainder of the day was uneventful. Inkblot expected somepony in the town to maybe talk to him about his article. He assumed that everypony thought it to be a dumb conspiracy (if they actually read it), which was good. Nopony believed it so nopony would get their memory wiped.
The night was much more eventful. Mainly because he had prepared to defend himself against any HPIRT members that would have reacted to the article. His original plan was to beat up whoever came in, tie whoever came in to the bed, take away any of the memory suppressant they could be carrying, then negotiate a trade where he got the camera's password in exchange for the laptop. Now that he knew that the cameras didn't cover the robbery, his plan was the same, except less negotiating and more improvising. He predicted it would fail miserably against his favor, but if it did, it wasn't like he'd remember such a failure anyway.
The unicorn spent the first half of the night awake, listening intently for any sounds. Since just sitting there was boring business, he pulled out the laptop to get another look at its capabilities. During his couple hours of tinkering on the laptop, he found a pinball game (which he found himself playing for a majority of his time), and a game called Solitaire. It had a bunch of cards along with a set of rules. As interesting as it seemed, the rules were simply too hard to follow. He stuck with pinball.
Every so often, Inkblot would hear a sound from outside, such as the wind blowing twigs around the street, and immediately panic, hide the laptop, and snuck himself next to the window, ready to strike. After waiting five minutes and not hearing another sound, he groaned and returned to pinball.
Later in the night, he heard another sound. The thing that made this sound different was that it came from the inside of the house. It was the sound of his front door opening. This had to be the HPIRT. They could probably open the locked doors that guarded the journalist's home. As he could hear the steps ascending the stairs, the tension rose. Who was it? Was it going to be Hopkins? Was it going to be ID4672? He had to know as soon as possible, and he was ready to find out with his legs bent, ready to buck.
The second he saw something enter his room, he bucked. Eliciting a sharp "oof!", the human fell over to the ground. Inkblot's mind raced as he nearly slammed the door. Fortunately, his father was a very heavy sleeper and didn't wake up to see this.
Inkblot, whose mind was scrambling to the next part of his plan, followed instinct and tried to repeat what Twilight Sparkle did to him earler that day. Unfortunately, it proved to be harder than he expected, giving him enough power to only pin the invaders hands to the ground with magic. It would have to work. He used magic to scour his pockets for any memory suppressant. Finding none, he began questioning. "Who are you, and why are you here?"
The frail human coughed as Inkblot got a good look at him. He was a very skinny human, with a short patch of brown hair on top of his pale head. His eyes were as brown as his hair. One thing for sure was that he was very frail and weak. Pinning him to the ground was probably far from any difficulty any other human would've produced.
After a couple brief coughs, the voice spoke. "My name...Franklin. And I have a m-message for Inkblot."
Franklin! He had been helping him get used to the laptop and helped him out against other members of the HPIRT. Still suspicious that he had just snuck into his house to deliver a message, he responded. "That's me. Who's it from?"
Franklin, probably not used to being pinned down, choked out the word. "Left...front...pocket..." as he looked over to a leather bag he had walked in with. Quickly, but without releasing the human, he opened the bag and pulled out a small book. He had seen it once before, and always wondered what it said. Now, it appeared he was going to find out. The book was labeled with the word "DIARY".
It belonged to Trixie.