A summer evening
Hollyhock, Screenplay, Nomad
Evening has come, and here, high in Cloudsdale, the light lingers on while the first darkness of night touches the ground beneath. The last fingers of Celestia's sun touch the cloud spires of the buildings, and tint the walks and boulevards pink and red. It's an easy time, ponies have returned to their homes and only a few out enjoying the cool of the evening, and the luminous sky, or make their way out to enjoy an evening's entertainment after a hard day's work. But what's this? It seems there's at least one pony still laboring away. Could it be? Yes, it is. Here comes Hollyhock, straining and flailing, looking like she's pulling for gold in the arial relay, but for all that work she's creeping along most pitifully, just making the edge of town before she lands, heavily, swearing, but too out of breath to make a good show of it. Mostly she just hugs the clouds and pants, remaining there for some while before she shakily pulls herself to her hooves, and starts into town herself, glancing this way, then that. Mostly she just hugs the clouds and pants, remaining there for some while before she shakily pulls herself to her hooves, and starts into town herself, glancing this way, then that way, self conscious, wondering if anypony saw.
As night falls, a new world awakens above Equestria. Lamp lights flicker on as a strange, alternate existence of Cloudsdale comes into being, with restaurants and theatres basking in an oil-scented glow. In the distance can be heard the rustle of leathery wings building to a crescendo amidst the cold winds. Dark shapes prowl the edges of vision as the central buildings of the city, the hallowed halls of state, bustle with new activity. Much closer to viewing is a bright spot of many colors situated by some kind of bistro or pub, sipping carefully from a bottle of sweet cider. Rainbow Dash sighs and leans back into her chair, wearied by the affairs of the day.
Hollyhock pulls a big red bandana from under her left wing, and wipes over her face, the back of her neck, and after pulling off her hat, she wipes down the sweatband inside before pulling her hat back on. She snuffs, rubs her nose with her bandana, takes a moment to glare at a gawker before tucking the kerchief away, and stands up again, legs a little more solid under her now, and she's breathing more easily as she starts into town at an easy pace. She turns into the main way to the center of town, passing between pools of lamp light, her hat pushed back on her head a she looks side to side - she's not in Cloudsdale that often, and it still impresses her every time she comes. And, say, is that a saloon? She'd never noticed it before, or maybe she just hasn't come this way before. Again she turns off the road, in towards the pub. Might could do with a drink.
Rainbow Dash finds herself gazing nonchalantly at the familiar fixtures of town: the antique-looking lamps made a scant few decades ago, the bright signs written in both common Equestrian and Old Pegasi, the cowpony ambling along the lane at the far- hey, wait a second. "Yo! Hey!" she shouts, waving at the familiar face.
Hollyhock is humming a little song to herself, murmuring odd snatches of lyrics to herself under her breath as she moves along, beating time with the tip of her tail as it twitches back and forth like a metronome. All this stops as she hears someone calling out. Are they talking to her? She glances behind her to make sure there's no one else before she lifts a hoof and waves to Dash, looking confused. Confused at least until she realizes who this is, and then the confusion fades while a big smile replaces it, "Oh, hey! Reckon I know you! Howdy! What's news, Mizz Dash?"
"What's news? I'm chillin' out, is what!" Rainbow Dash states, grinning and sipping her cider. "You checking out Cloudsdale, huh? It's not as big as Manehattan, but I say it's got a lot more character and awesomeness."
Hollyhock trots up and has a seat next to Dash, bold as you please. She nods in answer to the question, "Yup. Get up ere now'n again. Reckon it's heaps better'n Manehatten. Been there twice now with this friend'a mine, an I don't rightly care f'r it. No ma'am."
"Don't get me wrong; it can be a totally happening town!" Rainbow Dash clarifies. "But Cloudsdale floats in the sky and Manehattan doesn't, so there." Content with this succinct analysis, she takes a coaster and slaps it on the table in front of Hollyhock. "You gonna have a drink or what?"
Hollyhock scrunches her mouth up in a most eloquent eloquent expression of distate, "Yeah. Happenin'." She snorts, then looks around, "An' they don't got none've these fancy lights a'tall! An' the cloud thing I guess." She's looking at the street lamps as the coster is slapped down on the tabletop, and the sound makes her start, head snapping back around, eyes big, before she realizes what it was and blushes just faintly. She nods quickly, "Reckon so. Might parched from th' trip up. They got root beer?"
Rainbow Dash chuckles. "Why wouldn't they? They kinda got everything up here." Reaching forward, she pries the drinks menu from the central holder and lays it open in front of Hollyhock. There's the usual variety of drinks, from various wines to, of course, root beer, but there's also some odd exotic ones like 'ouzo', and every item seems subtitled in Old Pegasi, a language which doesn't even use the same alphabet. "Anyway, how's life in Ponyville? Kinda been out of the loop because of training."
Hollyhock flips through the menu, skimming over the text with the tip of a hoof, and when she finds 'root beer' she taps the laminated paper and whistles, impressed, "Three kinds! Shoot. Gonna make me choose b'twixt'em hey?" She leans in a little closer, squinting at the text, seeing if there's anything more written about them besides the brands, but only finds the Old Pegasi, "Whazis? These dingbats an' whatnot?"
Rainbow Dash cocks an eyebrow, seemingly bemused, but she smiles soon enough. "Yeah, you're not the first pony who's reacted like that. I mean, most Equestrians don't even know we had our own language. Still do, kinda."
Hollyhock scrunches her mouth up just a little before nodding, "Huh. Reckon I ain't ne'er heard 'bout that." She snuffs, and looks around for a waiter or something, trying to flag somepony down as she talks, "M' gramma - m' dad's mom, she talks funny. All them thees an' thous an' ye's an' all that. Dad said all t' old folks from where he's from spoke like that. Donno nothin' 'bout it though."
Rainbow Dash gesticulates meditatively with a hoof as she remembers something. "Hmmm...yeah, that kinda sounds like Noniopolis colony to me, but, like, really far removed. Where did you say your parents were from again?"
Hollyhock looks back at Dash and frowns just a little as she mouths that word. Noniopolis. She shrugs, then shakes her head, "Reckon I donno what that is. M' mom's from Salt Lick, dad's from this place called Colonia Caballito. Ain't but been there once're twice. Funerals mostly."
"Oh!" Rainbow Dash states. "Yeah, never heard of those places. Probably pretty cool, I guess, uhh..." She taps her hooves together in awkward silence for a second or two. "So what've you been up to in Ponyville? You work at Applejack's or something?"
Hollyhock manages to flag down a waiter and place her order before she adds, "M' parents ain't pegasi, so, uh, guess mebbe that's why? Them places ain't that big really. Wohl, not big compared t' out here." She snuffs, then shrugs, and rubs her nose with a hoof before shaking her head, "Nah. Ain't really much inna farmin' way. All that diggin' an' whatnot. Was - uh - helpin' a friend'a mine. One from Manehatten, she does like fancy soaps an' whatnot. Helpin' her out with that, but now I'm helpin' this lady - Red Velvet? Donno if y've heard'a her. Kind'a a goffer f'r her."
Rainbow Dash nods in idle acknowledgement, wondering if she's been told the same story before but had forgotten it. "Wait, you're doing bodyguard work for Red Velvet? That's a pretty cushy job there!" I mean, really, who would want to go after a publicist or whatever Velvet actually does? "Yeah, I've heard of her, mostly on the rumour mill though. Something about being possessed by an evil ghost or something? But that's really the worst part. She's not really in my social circle if you get my drift."
Hollyhock flushes just a little, "Donno 'bout bodyguard. Mostly j'st run errands an' make apointments an' suchlike. Reckon if th' occasion come up I'd get t' kick some heads, too, but..." She shrugs and trails off, idly paging through the drink menu, "But yeah. Know what'cha mean 'bout social circle. Bit outta m' depth sometimes." She smirks, just faintly, and shoots Dash a sidelong glance, "Gave me m' job 'cause I got sore with'er an' started yellin' 'cause she cut in line. 's a first f'r me."
Rainbow Dash blinks. "Wait, wait, you got a job because you let her have it? What?" She chuckles in disbelief and awe. "Wow, that's something else! What else does she have you do, whisper in her ear to remind her she's not perfect?" She smirks, obviously having a bit of fun here.
Hollyhock looks down and away, faintly embarrassed as she rolls her shoulders into a little shrug, "She ain't asked me t' do some'at like that." She shifts a little uneasily on her cushion, "S'prised me. Cut in front'a me f'r cider, an' I said it weren't fittin' - didn't matter if she were gonna but e'eryone a round. Cain't fix things by throwin' money at'em, an' next day I get a letter sayin' she wants t' hire me." She shrugs again before looking up and over to the waiter who's coming back with her drink.
Rainbow_Dash leans her head forward towards Hollyhock and cocks an eyebrow again, this time in bemusement. Probably nothing, she decides. "Huh, that's kinda weird," she comments. "I guess I can't really judge since I don't realy know her, but hey! You got a job and that's cool. So... you gonna order, or what? You've kinda been staring at the menu a lot."
Hollyhock looks up at Dash, her coin purse dangling from her teeth. She blinks a few times, looks at the waiter standing there with her drink, then back, "Uh, yeah. Reckon so." she clears her throat again, opens her purse, and fishes out enough to pay, and a fair tip before turning to the waiter, "Root beer?" The waiter blinks, trying to hide his amusement as he hoofs over the bottle with a 'Right away, miss!' Then he accepts payment, and bustles officiously way. Holly doesn't look at dash just yet, instead busying herself with tucking her money back into her saddle bags, "Jobs're always nice t' have, yeah."
Rainbow_Dash sips up her cider and is disappointed to discover that she's finished it all. Ah well. "You know, unless I forgot again, I don't think you told me why you moved in town...?"
Hollyhock finally closes the menu, pushing it away from her before she leans forward and takes a pull of her drink through the bendy straw sticking out of it. She rolls the root beer around in her mouth for a second like a connoisseur before swallowing and looking to Dash, "Why I come? Ain't nothin' special. Lookin' f'r work, is all."
Rainbow_Dash slides her glass aside and leans back; that was the same reason she'd given to her other friends for moving into town, back before she really got to know them, so she decides that this answer is satisfying enough. "Ponyville's definitely a growing town," she reflects. "I mean, every year I see new ponies that I've never met before, and that's just in the parts of town I see a lot."
Hollyhock slowly turns the bottle around on the table, watching it as she listens to Dash, her ears twiching slowly to show she's still paying attention. She's slow to respond, and there's a fair silence before she opens her mouth again, "Reckon that's the most've it. Growin' town means jobs, an' jobs what ain't gonna tear me up 'fore my time are alright with me." She looks up, smiling faintly, "Movin' cattle ain't th' safest thing inna world. Rather not end up broke 'fore I'm due, yanno?"
"Yeah I totally hear ya," Rainbow Dash answers. "Still, you gotta know when to chill and let lose, but I got a feeling that you've got that department covered."
Hollyhock grins right back before lifting her bottle of rootbeer in a little salute, and winking back, "Ain't got no problems lettin' m' mane down, if that's what'cha mean."
"Same here!" Rainbow Dash declares, raising her hoof in lieu of a toast given her empty glass. "Like, ponies don't get how tough being a Weather Patrol leader actually is. I work hard, so I play hard too, you know?"
Hollyhock's eyes open a little wider as she hears those words: Weather Patrol Leader. "Hey! That's right. You were in charge've th' weather f'r Ponyville's Winter Wrapup!" She shifts a little in place, trying to surpress her wings as they threaten to open in excitement, "Reckon that's gotta be a real fine job, workin' weather." She nods slowly, trying to play it cool, "Real nice."
Rainbow_Dash grins. "You know, we could use a few more volunteers in our reserve billets," she states suggestively. "Thinking of trying out? I think you've got the right stuff!"
Hollyhock's eyes only open wider as she loses all conscious control over her wings, "I - r-reserve? That's - that means I'll - I'd get t' work?" Then there's that word, and her ears splay out, as her wings wilt, "Tryouts. Donno. I - " She presses her lips into a tight line and looks back down at the bottle between her forehooves, "Yeah. Donno."
Rainbow_Dash represses the urge to giggle at Hollyhock as she contorts herself in various shapes of nervousness. "C'mon, chill out! It's not /that/ bad. I mean, sure, you gotta be able to shove a nimbostratus 100 feet all by yourself but that's just foal's play, you know?"
Hollyhock grunts quietly, "Reckon I ain't got no problem haulin' things. Look here." She pushes her root beer away from herself and tucks her head down to where she's dropped her saddle bags, and when she pulls her head up again she has her rope between her teeth. It's the work of a moment to tie a hondo and make a loop, and then she's looking around for a viable target. That only takes a second more, "See that bottle o're yonder? No. Not that one. Further on. T'wards the fence. Watch this." She doesn't even get up, just plays off a little rope as she takes the loop between her teeth again, twirls the rope 'round once, and lets go. Once released the rope flies straight and true, with the bight almost coming closed before it hits the bottle, then there's a deft tug as Holly pulls the loop entirely closed, leaving the bottle wobbling on the table yonder. She snorts, then drops the rope, "Ain't catchin' an' haulin'. That I can do. Ain't different than movin' cattle. It's just -" Again her mouth scrunches up, reluctant to say it, but when she does the word comes out there's real venom there, "Flyin'."
Rainbow_Dash's cheery expression fades as Hollyhock suddenly opens up about some personal issues. "...Right, right, I can see where you're coming from," she utters, almost perfunctory in her intonation as she tries to deal with her own discomfort. This conversation is rapidly going into some iffy territory for her. "Well...you could fly pretty good back in Winter Wrap Up, so I guess it's not too bad...?"
Hollyhock doesn't like exposing her personal issues much either. She doesn't want to come across as a whiner. So instead of answering right away she excuses herself and goes to collect her rope. She's noticed the waiter eyeing her with disapproval. Lassos aren't polite at the table, and she doesn't want to risk hauling the bottle back in. The walk give her time to think, and as she comes back, coiling the rope as she goes, she's cooled down enough to talk civil, "Ah, I c'n fly. Got here, yeah?" She smiles, though it doesn't quite reach her eyes, "Inefficent, unothodox, possible danger to herself and others." It sounds like a quote.
"That sounds like something somepony wrote about /me/!" Rainbow Dash declares. "Look, stop being so hard on yourself. You'll only know if you give it a try!"
Hollyhock grunts again, "'s what they put on m' r'jection when I tried out in San Palomino. Tried again in Appleloosa. Didn't want me none either." She shrugs, and takes a slug from her bottle, like it was something harder than root beer, "Figgered a weather mark'd be a'nuff. But them folks wanna know how I did in flight school an' then shake their heads when I say I ain't been."
"I know a couple of ponies who've /been/ to Flight Academy, did even worse, but they're still doing a-okay," Rainbow Dash counters, trying desperately to lift Holly's spirits. "There's also an equivalency program running up here: you can get Flight Academy certified based on prior flying experience. It's free too!"
Hollyhock lifts her eyebrows, looking up, "Free?"
"Like rainwater," Rainbow Dash states. "They want every pegasus in Equestria to be able to take to the skies. And if you fail (and you won't!) you can try again in a month or so."
Hollyhock scrunches her mouth, "Donno. Back home you pay y'r alotment when they schedule th' rain." She tries to keep looking sour, but the corners of her mouth won't keep pointed down, and as her smile grows to a grin she nods, "Reckon I get'cher meanin' though. Reckon m' jefa'll give me a bit'a time t' work on it. Cain't hurt, yeah?"
"Definitely not!" Rainbow Dash says, nodding in agreement to Holly's brief resolve. "You don't have anything to lose and a whole lot to get, if you know what I'm getting at."
Hollyhock nods agreement, "Reckon I catch y'r drift, yeah. Built t' fly. Ain't no reason not t' do't good." She nods again, firmly, then squints her eyes a little, wondering, "They ain't gonna put me in with th' foals, are they?"
"Course not, that'd be stupid," Rainbow Dash assures. "It's remedial for grown-up pegasi, so its just, you know, grown-ups. Also...what were you sayin' about 'allotment'? Is that how they assign the patrols where you're from?"
Hollyhock grunts again, seemingly satisfied with the answer, "Good a'nuff. J'st, yanno, don't wanna be shown up by some winged wonder, yanno?" She smiles crookedly, then, perks at the question, happy to have a reason to change the subject, "Yeah, donno how they do th' patrols, but how th' water works goes back t' when there weren't but earth ponies there. Built dams an' cut cannals, an' t' do all that they formed co-ops. You bought shares in th' system an' got water accordin' t' what'cha bought. Still kind'a like that, in that they draw th' water from the reservoir, an' e'eryone with a share in th' project pays a mite e'ery month're so f'r upkeep an' suchlike. What'cha draw is y'r alotment."
"Huh, interesting system you got there!" Rainbow Dash muses aloud, tapping her chin. "Up here they used to have /food/ by allotment, until the unicorns figured out a way to keep the food from falling through the clouds. Yeah, that was a real interesting time. Course, you could've just...flown down to an earth pony town and bought food there, but the whole 'buying and selling' thing was kinda considered to be too...not pegasus. Yeah, it's silly, but that's how things were."
Hollyhock opens her eyes up wide, "Fallin' through th' clouds? Shoot. That sounds right inconvenient. Get what'cha mean though. Some've th' old timers out were I'm from're still sore 'bout bein' in Equestria. I donno what th' fuss is about, but they seem t' mind it. somethin' aweful.
Hollyhock shrugs a little, "As f'r the projects, wohl, there weren't no pegasi down there in them days, so folks what was there made do."
"Wait, sore about being /in/ Equestria?" Rainbow Dash queries in disbelief. "Where you did you say you were from again?"
Screenplay comes flying over and seeing ponies she flies over landing on a cloud She stops to listen.
Hollyhock mmhmms, nodding to Dash, "Story was th' folks what settled out there went there 'cause they - whol - yanno hearthwarmin'? Th' tribes split up an' went their diffrent ways, only t' find they all ended up in th' same place an' took t' feudin' again? Wohl, some'a them ponies, earth ponies gone south f'r a place what noone else'd e'er want." She shrugs, and takes a slug of her rootbeer, "Donno if it's true, but I know some'a them families out there're old, and grumble from time t' time." She nods, then waves with a hoof, southward, "Ranch outside'a Gallop. 's j'st a whistlestop b'twixt Albuckerque, an' San Palomino. Hit the badlands an' keep goin' south a good piece."
"Huh!" is Rainbow Dash's concise response to the whole concept of earth pony separatism. "Past the Badlands? That's...I didn't know Equestria went that far! That's..." Well, she definitely had to see that place for herself. Maybe. Eventually. "Say...you ever have any stories about an...Apple family that left your town?"
Screenplay says "waits to see what's going on first beforte coming over waving. "Hey there, what's going on"
Hollyhock mmhms, "Does go that far. Some Eqestrian folk gone down there, lookin' t' mine an' ranch an' whatnot, an found the ponies what was there. Was a bit've a flap, like what they had out t' Appleloosa couple years back, 'sept there weren't no bison involved. Ponies on ponies, some pronghorn too. Deer. Burrios from futher south. Heard stories m' uncle told me. His dad was there, an' m' mom's dad was part've the force what was sent south t' keep peace." She smirks a little, and flutters her wings, "An' that's where these come from." She finishes her root beer and pushes it aside, "Anyhow. You don't wanna hear none've that stuff!"
Rainbow_Dash leans forward and hears out Holly's exciting tale. "Wow, sounds like something they should make a talkie from! Like...it has all the elements of a great film adventure: rustlin' and fightin' and, uh, 'hootenanny' in the Deep Frontier!"
"A Talkie.. They been making movies for a long time.. To call it a talkie is outdated.." Screenplay says as she comes forard..
Hollyhock grins big, "Heck. I'd pay t' see't. M' uncle's stories're good'uns. Raidin' supply trains an', rustlin' cattle, an' scootin' back off int' the brush. Good stories." She looks like she's about to go on, but finds her train of though interupted. She squints over at Screenplay, then looks back to Dash, her expression seeming to ask 'you know her?' Then there's a pause as she recollects herself before speaking again, "T' answer y'r question, I donno if there were any Apples down there. Apple orchards sure, but donno if there were any ponies by that name. Have't ask m' uncle. He knows all'a that. If there were, like as not I'm related somehow're other."
"That'd be real funny if you were," Rainbow Dash quips, remembering how Pinkie and the Apples went on that grand geneological adventure a while back. When Screenplay interjects, though, she's visibly miffed. "They were called talkies when I was a filly," she retorts. "Who are...oh, you're that moviehouse mare." She doesn't seem too thrilled to see her.
Screenplay nods to Rainbow Dash as she says "Yea came up to see what was going on up here.."
Hollyhock smiles a little, "Reckon if I were t' round up e'erypony I was r'lated to it'd be big heard. Ain't met most've though. J'st m' uncle, grandparents, some cousins, is all. Don't hardly get out t' see them. M' mom's sisters 'come 'round fairly regular like, but they - wohl, that side's Equestrian." She nods, then looks back to Screenplay again, "Folk where I'm from call'em talkies too. Don't get many come though, though. Easier t' cart a projector an' pay someone t' play piano, or some'at f'r silents. Been t' a talkie though! In Saltlick!"
"Yeah, I heard that they're working on making them coloured now. That'll be totally swell!" Rainbow Dash smiles; they'll finally be able to show her, uh, true colours on screen when they so those Wonderbolt promotionals! "Anyway...I wish you the best for your flying test. I really mean it."
Screenplay smiles as she then looks to the rainbow colored pony. "So anyway when is the next storm?" She sits on the near by cloud.
Hollyhock whistles, impressed, "Color picture. Shoot. Reckon there ain't nothin' folks c'n do these days." She nods slowly, pondering the glories of color cinema before looking up again, and smiling slowly to Dash. She touches the brim of her hat, "Much obliged."
Rainbow Dash glances idly at Screenplay. "You know, all that's written in the daily forecast, right?" She quickly turns to Hollyhock again. "Anyway, if you have any Weather Patrol-type questions, just send me a message. I'm kinda in the middle of something up here, s'why I'm not around town lately."
Screenplay ohs as she nods as she then flies off for home; she waves good bye as she does. "I'll check it..."
Hollyhock nods, "Reckon I c'n do that. Come up 'least once a week, dropin' a message f'r you shouldn't be no problem a'tall." She nods, hoists her root beer bottle and gives it a shake to see if somehow it magicall refilled itself while sitting there, "What sort'a things they want'cha t' do? 'sides wrangle clouds."
"A whole bunch of cool stuff!" Rainbow Dash states excitedly. "Like, you gotta learn how turnovers work, so that you get the wind blowing through the right parts of Equestria between all the different teams; s'like how we did it in Winter Wrap-Up. You gotta learn how to help the town with emergencies like fires, 'cause it's kinda handy having pegasi around to dump water on stuff. Oh yeah, you gotta learn how to mount self-defence against harpy and gremlin attacks, but that's not something that we do a lot anymore."
Hollyhock nods slowly as she listens, ears giving a little twitch at each point, "Wohl, reckon that don't sound TOO hard. Already helped with th' one, I s'pose, an' - wohl, fire fightin's good t' know." That last point makes her brighten up quite a bit though, "Donno if I need t' learn no self d'fence. Reckon I c'n do that!" And then there's a knife. Big ugly heavy thing she hauls out from a sheath beneath her left wing with her teeth. She flicks it point down into the table and looks really pleased with herself, "I c'n take care've m'self!"
Like a leaf on the breeze, as gently as fresh falling snow, graceful and fluid like water arcing off the top of a fast-flowing fall. None of these things describe Nomad, who just misjudged the updraft by the landing pad and faceplants with a solid *WHUMF* into the cloud surface. He lies there a moment sprawled in awkward embarrassment with his wings splayed out on the cloud base and his flank in the air before getting to his hooves. And to think that particular dork is a flight instructor. He folds his wings and brushes himself off like he meant to do that, and glances around to make sure nopony was watching.
Rainbow_Dash gawks at the knife. "Whoa, whoa, you can...yeah, it figures you would," she utters, both in shock and in admiration. Yeah, Holly is definitely a knife type of pony! "It's mostly anti-air tactics rather than hoof-to-hoof, so-" And then Nomad splats onto the clouds beside them. She blinks. "...You OK there?"
Hollyhock looks pleased with herself, and takes the knife up again, to tuck back away, talking around the handle, "Reckon I donno much air t' air though, might be a good..." She pulls her head out from under her wing, trailing off as she watches Nomad faceplant. She blinks quickly, glancing to Dash, then back, "Er..."
Nomad does his VERY best noble desert pony look while shaking bits of cloud out of his mane. "Yes yes of course. Fine. Clouds are soft and I have a thick sku.. no. I meant to do that. I'm testing ..uh. My ability to quickly spin a cover story on top of an embarrassing flop. Needs a little work, don't you think?" Cough cough. Way to go there, Captain Smooth. He pauses and glances around, then stuffs his head back into the cloud and comes up with a lunchbox. A brief check inside. "Oh good, the sandwiches survived. Nobody likes smushed nopales. Anyway sorry to interrupt, there. I just, uh, don't land on clouds much."
Rainbow_Dash tilts her head as she slowly works through old memories. "Hey, I know you! You're that weather survey stallion! How's it hangin'?"
Hollyhock flicks her tail slowly back and forth, watching the newly arrived pony, keeping quiet for the moment. Though, she does perk her ears at the word 'nopales.'
Nomad pauses on that. "Yes! Weather survey, that would be me. Mister desert glider, air-column rider etcetera. You know we don't keep a lot of clouds out that way, I always forget how the air moves around the big cloud cities. So weird, pressure front blending. I'm good, though, anyway. Doing well, in town for the usual monthly reports stuff. How about you?"
"Just taking a break from my Flight Lieutenant Qual. It's taking /forever/ and I kinda want to go back to Ponyville soon, but hey, orders are orders. Oh! You should meet Hollyhock here. She's hoping to get into the Weather Patrol someday." She gestures graciously with a hoof.
Hollyhock bobs her head politely as she's introduced, lifting a hoof to touch the brim of her hat, offering a simple, "Howdy."
"Oh, weather patrol. Good stuff. If you need high altitude work for whatever reason, look me up." Nomad smiles brightly. "I'm not so good at this low altitude stuff, but get up where it's thin and cold and you'll find me." He laughs again, sort of reflexively. "Nice to meet you, afraid I'm not much help with clouds and stuff though."
"Don't expect ya to be!" Rainbow Dash says. "You know, I've been hearing a lot about some kinda dust storm near Appleloosa. Was that actually a thing?"
Hollyhock gives Nomad a nod, "Gonna try anyhow. Someone's gotta do it." She nods again, and rubs her nose with a forehoof, "Donno nothin' 'bout high altitute stuff though." She's not sure what else to say. Certainly doesn't know about dust storms near Appleloosa.
"Well high altitude is outside the usual weather patrol stuff, so I doubt you'd need anything from me." He gives Dash a nod. "Dust storms in Appleoosa. I haven't been over that region but they were due for a good hard dry spell to kick the cacti into bloom, so it wouldn't surprise me."
"Sounds about right," Rainbow Dash opines. "Yeah, there's a stallion from Baltimare in my serial, and /he/ says that they were ready to send some rain that way, but then their Patrol Leader got talked to by some big brass and the whole thing was shelved. It's kinda weird."
Hollyhock nods again, slowly to Nomad, offering a quiet, "Reckon not" before she lapses back into silence, though what she hears makes her furrow her brow. She looks down at the table in front of her, shuffling a hoof against it as she frowns to herself. There's a bit of internal debate, but eventually she does speak up, "Don't them folks down there have crops what need water? Gets dry like that it'll blow off all'a top soil an' that ain't no good a'tall."
Nomad nods. "You have to know a thing or three about cactus, really. They don't bloom in the rain. I could go on for hours about all the ways desert stuff is totally backward from what you'd imagine, but some bloom seasonally and others only after a hard drought. They just need to make sure that when it is time to send some rain over, they don't thunderstorm it too hard and flash flood anything important." Fortunately he catches himself before really starting to prattle on about subclimates and microsystems, and the flash flood frogs. "They do, and you're right. But they need to work their crop cycles into the rythm of the local climate. Beside that, they have irrigation and know soil management so when a dust storm does blow in all it does is add a little more dirt and drive up sales of window cleaner."
Rainbow_Dash squirms in her seat as she tries to resist her eyes glazing over. Science? Ugh! Nomad keeps it blissfully short, thank Celestia, so she quickly takes the opportunity to contribute. "Make sense, I guess?" she says, trying to wrap her head about the concepts as presented. "So...yeah, good to hear about...all that. Heh." OK maybe not.
Hollyhock narrows her eyes just a touch as she receives a lecture on desert living, her mouth scrunching up. There's a retort brewing in the back of her head, barren land made to blossom, irrigation and hard work, all the things she's heard from her uncle, but she holds back. Instead she just rubs her nose again and grunts, "Huh."
Nomad tries not to science too hard. He's not even at work! It just. Well it happens. Far, far too much. "Yyyyyyeah it's definitely a. Uh. A thing." He's trying really hard to change the subject. He really is. It's just that his whole frame of reference is the desert, and not the generally habitable-by-ponies part. "So flight lieutenant qualification you were saying?"
"Yeah," Rainbow Dash says, piping up and sitting up straight as, finally, somepony asks something interesting. "Technically I wasn't up for another year or so, but ever since that whole Tyrek thing the high command's been, like, you know, really worried and stuff. So, here I am, learning how to be a leader. Yep."
Hollyhock lapses back into silence, working her jaw back and forth as she listens, frowning at her forehooves. She remembers the Tyrek thing, and is glad someone's doing something about it, but she hasn't much to say on the issue.
"Oh, yeah the magic eating guy. I heard about that." Heard about that. That's what he said. "It, uh, never actually effected me or my team. Then again we WERE in the Badlands several days flight from anywhere even remotely civilized so I guess I don't blame the guy for not bothering to come out." Nomad gives a little shrug. "It's great for you though, early promotion and such. Well it was almost terrible, you know with the magic. But you and your friends did the thing. With the rainbows." He has no idea what the yay he's talking about. Not even a little slice of a clue. Nnnnnope.
"That we did!" says Rainbow Dash, smirking and amusing herself with Nomad's awkward diction. "Yeah, it's totally awesome how it went down. There was the 'FLASH' and the 'ZING' and the 'WOOHOHOHOOHA' and...everything!" How very descriptive of her.
Hollyhock quirks one corner of her mouth up into a crooked little smirk, glancing over at Dash while she provides the sound effects, "How'd that go again?"
Nomad is with Holly on that. In fact, he stands somewhat nearby her in a spectator-like fashion. "You would know, I mean you were there! /I/ heard Discord cried like a foal, too."
"Well he better have!" says Rainbow Dash, as if her connection to those events was only peripheral. "But yeah, some Canterlot newspaper printed a centrefold feature about it; I could send a copy to each of ya, if you want."
Hollyhock whistles softly, impressed, "Donno if I e'er met a pony who'd got her name inna paper." There's a reflective pause, and the an ammendation, "Whol, not a Canterlot paper anyhow."
Canterlot ... paper. Note to self, read that sometime. Nomad kind of gives a little nod. "Oh I'm sure the paper is well and properly backed up at home since I'm never there to pick it up. Most of them go straight to the outgoing bin anyway." He stops as a little light goes off in his head. "Oh! Speaking of paper, I actually came into town because of paperwork. I probably ought to go tend to that. Nice seeing you!"
Take care, Nomad!" Rainbow Dash says, waving goodbye as he bears off. "You know, I need to have a drink with him sometime." She looks over at Hollyhock. "I've kinda been in the papers a bunch of times already. It kinda goes with the territory."
Nomad takes off for the long journey toward Nomad's meandering cloud home.
Hollyhock waves good bye too, though she doesn't say much of anything until Nomad's gone, "Hrm?" She looks over at Dash, blinks a few times as the other mare's words work through her private thoughs, "Oh! Yeah. Reckon so. Remember readin' a copy've Wing an' Flyer, had a picture've you in there. Best Young Flyer, yeah?"
"Sweet, you read that one! That's a classic," Rainbow Dash says. "And it was a classic moment for the fastest pony in Equestria, heheh." She puffs out her chest and pats it with a hoof, so very proud of herself. "Hey, maybe you'll end up on a picture with me someday! 'Local pegasus joins forces with Our Heroine'"
Hollyhock mmhms, nodding, "Did. Was a mite dogeared an' greasy by th' time it come 'round t' me, but yeah. Did read it. That all true? 'bout them wonderbolts an' that show-off unicorn what nearly kilt herself?" Stroking someone's ego isn't a bad, thing, is it?
"Hey, she's a great show-off unicorn!" Rainbow Dash retorts, feeling a bit defensive. "Yeah, Rarity can be a bit much sometimes, but I'm not gonna rag on her for wanting to be the best at what she does."
Hollyhock ducks her head, lifting a pacifying hoof, "Woah, woah there. Didn't know you was friends with her. I - uh -" She clears her throat, "Didn't mean no offence a'tall."
"She and I go way back," Rainbow Dash explains. "Plus, she /is/ one of the Elements of Harmony, in case you didn't know." Regardless, she relaxes, no hard feelings.
Hollyhock lifts her eyebrows again, "What was her name again? Charity? Rarity? Where've I heard that name b'fore..." She furrows her brow, and shakes her head slowly, "Didn't know she was... Oh! She's that unicorn m' friend was thinkin' 'bout gettin' t' make a weddin' dress from. Don't think't worked out, 'cause she's gettin' 'em made in Manehatten. Coco some'at."
"Yeah, Coco Pommel," says Rainbow Dash. "She works for Rarity now, actually! It's kinda a big deal. Anyway..." She glances at her watch, her eyes widening a little. "I'm almost late for my curfew!" she declares. "I gotta jet; it's been great chatting with ya!" She lifts up into the air at once, and then, with a final, salute-like wave of farewell, she zips off into the night sky.
Hollyhock huhs, "Small world! Did great work, from what I c'n tell. Good stuff." Though what Holly knows about dressmaking could probably be written on half a 3x5 card. She might say more, but we'll never know, as instead she waves good bye to Dash, "Good t' see ya! I'll check them courses out!" And that said, she picks herself up, leaves payment for her drink, and trots back out into the street.
Monday, July 14, 2014