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One-way Ticket · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 1000–25000
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Pipsqueak the Valiant's Adventure Journal!
23rd Loyalty, Daybreak Sun

Salutations, Adventure Journal!,

Today I started the first day of school. We were allowed to wear anything we wanted so I wore my captain’s getup, with the hat and coat and eyepatch and everything. It was really cool except that it was warm and made me sweat around the collar, so maybe that cancels out.

We have a new teacher called Miss Lucky. She has a shorter mane than Miss Buttermilk. Devon Dale said that it was because she was trying to look younger although she wasn’t, and then he was tole to write fifty lines of I Won’t Make Smart Comments at My Elders, without magic. Maybe that’s why he was in such a bad mood after school but oh well.

For class we had maths and history. Maths was okay but history was fun, at least until Water Apple started calling me a relic and a museum escapee, whatever that means. Miss Lucky then asked me to explain to the class what my uniform was and I told them. When I finished telling them Miss Lucky tole the class to clap their hooves so they did. It was the first time I got clapped at by the class.

For history we learned about how Trottingham was formed. There were a lot of dates and names and the only one I can remember is Celestia because everypony knows her. There were pirates in the story though so I’m hoping that we can learn more on that.

I think this year is going to be very good. Maybe we might even have a real adventure instead of the play ones, not that there not fun but it would be cool to find real gold and diamonds and swords instead of funny rocks and big sticks, even though they’re cool too. Just not as much.

Mummy is really happy that I’m happy. She said that my dad would be happy too but when I asked her how she could tell she just said Nevermind.

Maybe I might meet my dad this year. We can go out to sea together like in the pictures.

25th Loyalty, Midday Sun

Salutations, Adventure Journal!,

Today Miss Lucky talked about pirates! It was cool although I think she’s not telling us everything. That’s because Devon Dale asked her What did they do to mares that they caught? And Miss Lucky replied, Pirate things. When Devon Dale wanted details Miss Lucky said Wait till you’re older, which is grown-up talk for I’m Not Telling You Everything Just Because. I know that because Mummy says that to me everytime I ask her about dad, but she gets all sad so I stop asking and trust her.

After school we played Captains And Pirates. We drew pictures of what our costumes looked like and we played Sail Ship in the big tree. We actually found a real crow’s nest up there!!! but the crow wasn’t very happy that I was sitting in its nest so I had to leave. We didn’t find any cool-looking pebbles or big sticks but the crow’s nest made it a success.

Devon Dale was sitting on the bench next to the big tree by himself and he made a face at me when I was going home. Mummy says to ignore bullies so I did, but he said something about dad being a pirate so I asked him what he meant. He said that my dad was a pirate who did a lot of bad things. I said he wasn’t. He said he was. I said he wasn’t. He made another face at me and that’s when Red Jacket came and hit him. There was a lot of crying and shouting and I don’t know what happened next but I got back home, and Mummy asked me what had happened, so I told her. And she said Next time somepony talks about your dad, don’t listen to them at all, because they can’t be true, and only what she says is true. Then we had a hug.

I don’t know if I like hugs. They’re icky and Devon Dale and some of the bigger ponies laugh at hugs. But they make Mummy happier.

34th Loyalty, Latenoon Sun

Dear Adventure Journal!,

Salutations is a really long word. Maybe dear is enough. It’s not like I’m showing this to Devon Dale so I don’t have to worry about how icky it looks.

Devon Dale and a few others have started to pick on us littler ponies. They tease us and laugh when we play Sail Ship and it’s really distracting, because it makes the others not want to play, even if we have a real crow’s nest and shiny pebbles. They sort of become embarrassed.

Today we moved on to government. It’s all boring names and there’s no pirates or captains in it. Instead there’s a lot of tax and settler ponies and economy, which is fancy for money matters. Trottingham is a small place but apparently a lot of ponies came here to trade, because it was a port. It still is, but there aren’t that many ponies. Or maybe there are. Mummy doesn’t let me go down to the docks.

Miss Lucky told us to write an essay on our favourite part of Trottingham history. I’m definitely going to write about the captains! If only Mummy would tell me more about dad then I could write a really good essay and get lots of marks, but she won’t, and I don’t want to go down to the library. The only books that they have about pirates and captains are under Sailor’s Logs and they’re all written in bent slippy hoofwriting that I can’t read. And there are so many of them, and I don’t know what to look for. I don’t dare to ask the librarian. He’s a crusty old coon with one bad eye, and he looks at you funny, like he wants to scold you but can’t because you haven’t done anything wrong yet.

Anyways only Red Jacket and Whistly and Track Record play with me now. Sometimes Cherry Pip joins us but Devon Dale calls us lovers because we both have Pip in our names, and sings the lover song everytime we play together and so I don’t want her around. I’m not sure what’s his problem. I’m just glad to have Red Jacket around. He’s almost as big as Devon and he’s really strong. He helps his dad down at the seaweed farm, pulling nets and things. He doesn’t say much, though, but I let him be captain every now and then because he deserves it for being so nice. And I think Devon’s scared of him since he got bucked by him last time, even if Devon has magic and Reddie doesn’t.

Devon said that most ships are built for unicorns, whatever that means, and that I don’t stand a chance of being on one. Dad is a pegasus and he’s still sailing, so that means Devon is lying. When I get older, I think I’ll build the first ship meant for Earth ponies, and then I can sail and look for dad so that we can have adventures together.

9th Laughter, Daybreak Sun

Dear Adventure Journal!,

Something very weird happened today at school. A bunch of stallions burst into the school looking for Miss Lucky even though she had left a few days ago. They looked really scary, and they all had knives, and not the small ones used for bread and butter. They began knocking down doors but they couldn’t find Miss Lucky, because she had left. They asked Miss Buttermilk where she had gone, and Miss Buttermilk said I don’t know, she didn’t tell me. Then thy threatened to hurt Red Jacket if Miss Buttermilk didn’t say. So Miss Buttermilk said She said something about going back to her old village in Whitethorn, way up north. The stallions said that if she was lying, she’d get it bad, and then they ran off.

Later, a whole bunch of parents came up to Miss Buttermilk because they were curious, although many of them looked more angry than curious. They went into the town hall and closed the doors, so we went to the back where the wall boards are looser to listen.

Miss Buttermilk said that Miss Lucky’s full name is Lucky Die, the infamous gambler. She was on the run for winning lots, which isn’t a very good reason if you ask me. The stallions were ponies who lost lots to her, which means they’re sore losers, and need to stand in the corner, but they have knives and are grown-ups so maybe that changes things. Anyhow, Miss Lucky (or Miss Die) went off somewhere that isn’t Whitehorn, and Miss Buttermilk lied even though she’s not supposed to. Some of the parents suggested they write a letter to the Princess (we’re supposed to use capitals, even if nopony’s looking, says Miss Lucky) and the other parents suggested that yes they should. There was a lot of grown-up talk after that so we went and played Sail Ship.

We went deeper into the forest than we usually do. We found a bunch of good strong sticks and we fought the Dangerous Leaf Ninjas on the lower boughs. Red Jacket was tall enough to hit all of them but then again so am I, almost, if I jump. Cherry Pip accidentally hit me so she had to walk the plank, for mutiny, but she cried and we felt sorry so we decided that all she had to do was mop the decks. Then she stopped crying.

When we came back out the forest, a lot of daddies and mummies were waiting for us and they started scolding us for hiding or something, even though that’s what we always do. It was really noisy, but a lot more fierce, like Trading Day down at the docks. My mommy just gave me a hug so I was lucky.

Today was really interesting because we got to see an adventure!, a real one too! But it wasn’t ours, it was Miss Lucky’s. I hope she manages to get to wherever she’s going. It should be alright though because the good ponies always win, and I’m sure Miss Lucky’s the good pony because the stallions have knives and were rude so they must be the bad ponies.

13th Laughter, Evening Sun

Dear Adventure Journal!,

Should I underline your name? It says PIPSQUEAK’S ADVENTURE JOURNAL! on the cover but I don’t think I’m supposed to include everything. I did include the ! though. I guess you don’t mind either way because you’re a book.

Today we learnt about how Trottingham’s name came to be. Some captain called Captain Chocolate discovered the land after trotting around the bank. Actually we didn’t learn how Trottingham was called Trottingham, because Miss Buttermilk talked about “summary”. But that’s okay. I’m sure he had very good reasons.

More importantly, Red Jacket tole me that there are new ships ahoy! He said that his dad and his friends saw them on the horizon when they were fishing. The ships didn’t have any flags on them, just plain black, so that means they could be anypony. He said that they might reach here in a few days, depending on the wind. The Canterlot pegasuses are slow in coming this year, so weather is unpredictable, says Red Jacket’s dad, and a lot of bad words, says Red Jacket. I asked him how did he know that they were bad words. He said that it was common sense. I said I didn’t know what words were bad, and if stupid was a bad word. He said that it was stupid to think that stupid was a bad word. I said that it was, and that he had used it twice. We sort of got into a fight but Track Record broke it up with a stick, and said that both of us should walk the plank, because he mutinied and became the new captain. So we did. Then we joined forces and claimed Du-wal Captainship, the first ever in Equestria, and made him walk the plank.

Then we talked about cutie marks. Red Jacket’s got his, which is a net, and Whistly’s got his, which is something called a “quartet”. It’s a straight line with a head and a hook-like tail. He said he got his one day when he was practicing whistling by himself in the woods. It’s funny because he’s the only one that can and he doesn’t need to practice but he does anyways. Track Record and me don’t have ours.

Red Jacket has his because he’s working in the family business, and Whistly has his because of his name. I wonder where that leaves us. Track Record says that it could be either running or playing music with those old gramaphones, but he doesn’t like being sweaty and thinks that gramaphones are dusty old things. I’m not in a family business and I don’t like to think what my cutie mark would be if it was something to do with my name.

I want a cutie mark of captaineering, or at least sailing. That’d be good, though Mummy might not like that very much. I don’t know why, I just think so.

Mummy’s cutie mark is three pots. I don’t know what dad’s cutie mark is. The photos are too small.

Maybe I could go with Red Jacket the next time they sail, if only Mummy would let me. Then I could discover my cutie mark like Captain Chocolate did with Trottingham.

16th Laughter, Daybreak Sun

Dear Adventure Journal!,

It was really rainy today, as usual. Mummy says it’s “freak weather” and I was tole to stay at home all day.

There wasn’t much to do so I played Sail Ship by myself. It wasn’t very fun. I almost fell from the tall rocking chair, the one nopony sits in, so I went to see if I could help Mummy with whatever it is she was doing.

Mummy makes pots. She has a spinning wheel machine and a lot of clay at the back, and it whirs the clay around and around to let her mold it. I asked her if I could help and she said Yes. She tole me to get a lump of clay and squish it up so that there wouldn’t be any lumps inside. We have a tall box to squish the clay in, so that it doesn’t fly out. So I squished clay until I got tired, and then I asked if I could mold instead and she said Yes.

It was really fun, pressing the pedal that made the machine plate spin. Controlling the clay was a lot harder though. I pushed the sides in a lot so I had to redo and redo. I managed to get the hang of it though, and now I have my very own pot. It’s half your size, Adventure Journal!, and I use it to hold my pencil. It looks neater that way.

After that, I took out one of dad’s old journals to try and have a read. His hoofwriting is really bad, too, though, so I couldn’t make much sense out of it. He writes the dates and the weather as well, but no “Dear Journal”. Hmm.

I wonder how the black sail ship’s doing in this weather. Dad’s probably in some faraway sea so it shouldn’t affect him, right?

17th Laughter, Rising Sun

A lot of weird stuff’s been happening around town. Even early in the day, there were a whole lot of ponies by the docks, crowded around and talking. Even Miss Buttermilk didn’t seem keen to teach, but she did anyways.

We went down together after school to have a look, when there were less grown-ups. There were still a bunch though, walking around with knives on their belts. I think they were guarding the place. They looked fierce so we didn’t push too far up ahead. We went to the far end of the docks and got on a sand bar.

Red Jacket let me get up on his back to see what was going on. It was amazing -- there were bits of wood and metal all over the shores, floating about in the sea. There was even a bunch of colourful clothes, which meant that the ship was carrying valuable stuff, because only rich ponies and captains wear that sort of clothes, and you can’t have a ship full of captains. They would have fights really quickly and everypony would be walking the plank and nopony’d be left.

I tole them that it was a shipwreck. They just nodded. I guess they could see it for themselves. Whistly did that high-and-then-low whistle of his. He shouldn’t have because a couple of grown-ups saw us and came walking towards us.

You shouldn’t be here, said one. This isn’t a place for foals.

It’s just a shipwreck, said Red Jacket. I know he was being careful with his words, because he spoke slowly.

And you’re just foals, said the other one.

My father’s Salty Set, said Red Jacket.

Will you hark at the foal, said the first one. Your dad’s gone off shift. Besides, he tried to look for survivors. Then he spat on the ground.

There are ponies out there? asked Whistly. Shouldn’t we help

Nopony’s to help them, warned the second one. They’re pirates, y’hear? Pirates! What are you, idiots?

Look, said the first one. Shut up. Then he said to us, These pirates are bad ponies, okay. They’re getting what’s coming to them. Don’t you know? They rob and steal and sink our ships and, er, do bad stuff to the mares in special. Now’s just justice being done.

Then he looked at me funny and asked, Wait, aren’t you Napsack’s kid?

I didn’t know who Napsack was, so I tole him. I said that my dad was a captain but he’s been gone out to sea for a really long time.

The second one muttered something like Good riddance, but the first one gave him a look. Then he tole us to run along and wouldn’t stop looking at us until we did.

I went home and tole Mummy that there was a shipwreck. She asked me what colour the sail was, and I tole her. She said she wanted a moment and then sent me to my room.

I wonder who Napsack is. He’s probably a bad old pirate with a wooden leg AND an eyepatch. Maybe dad beat him in an adventure. I should ask him when he gets back.

8th Kindness, Midday Sun

Mummy said that we’re leaving Trottingham in a week. We have to pack up our things and go away. I don’t know why. I asked her and she said It’s not safe, There are more and more bad ponies going about in town and This isn’t someplace you should grow up in.

I don’t know what made her think that. Maybe it’s Devon Dale. I tole her that Red Jacket could handle him and she said Not the ponies I’m talking about.

I haven’t seen Red Jacket in a while, to be honest. He isn’t coming to school that often. He says that he has to work more now that his dad taught him how to row a fishing boat, to make up for losses. He says that the pirates are attacking more frequently, and that they’re getting desperate. When I asked him who, he said Both us and the pirates. He says that they’re going after any trade ship they happen to come across, instead of just picking on the little ones, even though it’s real dangerous for them. It’s driving his dad crazy because he pays a lot of money to have his produce shipped by a well-known guild, not for the guards to turn out to be cowards that jump ship.

I tole the others about this and they said that they were sorry to see me go. Track Record’s parents, he said, were thinking about it but hadn’t actually made any decisions. Whistly’s staying for sure, though, because he doesn’t have anywhere else to go. He’s trying to figure out what sort of job he can do with his special talent. Cherry Pip just went all quiet, and stayed on until the others left. She asked me to stay back in the forest and... oh, I really hope nopony reads this...

She asked me if I could stay, that she’d miss me a lot. I said Is this a joke and How much did Devon Dale pay you. She looked shocked for a moment, then ran away. I hope she’s okay. I didn’t feel good so I gave her mum the fanciest stone I had, the crystally one with a dark swirl that shows up in the sunlight, and asked her to give it to her. Perhaps that’ll work.

Come to think of it, I don’t want to leave. Wherever it is we’re going, it may not have a tree as big as the one we have. And the ponies there may not know how to play Captains And Pirates. Maybe they’re all grown-ups, or bullies. But I know that there definitely won’t be Red Jacket, Whistly, Track Record and Cherry Pip (maybe Track Record though).

Come to think of it, I have quite a few friends. That’s nice. I wish I could keep them though.

18th Kindness, Setting Sun

Dear Adventure Journal!,

I’m on my first adventure! I’m writing you on a train as I, er, write. We’re going on a long journey away to someplace new, me and Mummy. It’s what an adventure should be, except that it isn’t as fun and there’s not much fighting, only a bit of scuffling when we line up.

We’re in a crowded car, sharing the bench with two other ponies. Opposite us are four more. These ponies look like nothing I’ve seen in Trottingham before, and three are dressed in thick fur coats. I don’t know why, since it’s so warm in here. There isn’t even enough room to scratch your back, that’s how cramped it is. Mummy’s gone out for a while which is why I’ve got enough elbow room to write you.

We’re going to a place called Ponyville, to an aunt’s place, Aunt Carrot Top’s. I’ve never met here before, but Mummy says she’s nice, and the letters she writes make Ponyville seem like a really nice place too. There are a lot of ponies my age, and the Princess’ student is there too, the Element of Magic or something like that. Wow!

It’s a bit hard writing with only one hoof to steady you. That’s because I have to hold on to my ticket. Mum says that our tickets are one-way only, because we’re not going back to Trottingham for a long time. It’s a bit worrying, but maybe when I grow older, Mummy will let me go back. I can play with my friends again, and go down to the docks, and if I’m lucky dad will be waiting there for me.

Aunt Carrot Top says that there’s a special celebration going on called Nightm

[The writing trails off in a squiggle]

Mayor Mare scanned the office nervously. The bookshelf had been dusted, the potted plants watered, the floor swept and the desk unusually empty after a fresh round of organizing. Yes, everything was as it should be. First impressions were important, and even though they were on first-name terms, Celestia’s own pupil was the pony to impress.

The door swung open gently. “Mayor Mare, you--”

“Ah, Twilight! Yes, please do come in,” said Mayor Mare quickly. “Have a seat. May I offer you some water?”

“Oh, no, I’m fine,” smiled Twilight. “What’s the matter? Bon-bon said it was important, so I dropped what I was doing and came over.”

“Right. Well, as the Ponyville librarian, you have access to the Northern registar, don’t you?” asked Mayor Mare.

“The Northern registar... that includes Trottingham, Haysville and the Whitewoods region, right? Yes I do,” answered Twilight. “I don’t read it much, though. It’s just a list of names.”

“Right. Now, do you know Pipsqueak and his mother, Potsherd?”

“Pipsqueak... yes, I met him last Nightmare Night! He’s a sweet little guy, isn’t he? Pinkie Pie calls him ‘chap’ all the time. I think it’s some northern word,” rambled Twilight.

“Yes, about him. Could you check the registar for his father’s name?” said Mayor Mare carefully. “It’s under the Trottingham list, if it’s still around. Just look for ‘Pipsqueak’ and search up the directory for his father.”

“Oh, you don’t need to do that,” laughed Twilight, waving a hoof. “I know what you want.”

“You do?”

“Oh, yes. You’re just shy and you don’t want to ask them.” Twilight leaned forward, with the air of somepony who has read about “conspiratorial gazes” and is eager to try it out for herself. “Don’t worry, I used to be like that. But it’s okay, I’m sure they won’t mind--”

“Twilight!” snapped Mayor Mare. “I mean, Miss Twilight Sparkle. I’m afraid you don’t know the gravity of the situation.”

“What situation?” trailed Twilight, looking hurt.

“That Pipsqueak is the colt of a renegade captain,” said Mayor Mare, exhaling deeply. “Or at least I think he is.” She waved a hoof irritably. “No, wait. Sit down. I’ll tell you the story. You see, several years ago, there was a captain called Copper Mast. He made a name for himself by fending off the pirates in the Trottingham seas from busy trade routes, in Her Royal Highness’ service. Even so, there was not much pay for sailors, and it’s a rough life. You spend weeks, even months away from home, drifting along endless sea, seeing no action for long stretches and fighting for your life the next...” Her eyes glazed over. “Whatever the reason, he turned against the marines and went rogue.”

She tried to read Twilight’s face. It was a mix of disbelief and curiosity, her mouth hanging slightly open. At least she was listening.

“It’s been said that he left behind a wife and child, sending back to them without fail six pounds of gold every fortnight. It became a legend of a sort, and that sort of legends tends to attract the wrong types of ponies.” Mayor Mare sighed. “We have it so good here, because we’re close to Canterlot. Beyond in the wilder regions, though, where the princesses’ influence is weaker...”

“So you’re saying that Pipsqueak...”

“I’ll be blunt. They pose a certain threat to our town,” said Mayor Mare. “I need you to make sure that I’m wrong.”

The look of confusion in the young mare’s eyes made her writhe inside. Seriously, the standards of education these days, even under Princess Celestia’s tutorage...

“I’m sworn to look after this town and the well-being of its citizens,” sighed Mayor Mare. “That means checking up on every new pony that comes in. If they pose a threat to the peace, I have no choice but to do something. I’m duty-bound. It’s my responsibility. Do you understand?”

“Yes, but--”

“I want them to stay, Twilight Sparkle. I really do. Help me and show me that they can. Go and, you know, check with the registar, under the Trottingham list that may not be there anymore, that Pipsqueak’s father is not Copper Mast.”

“I-- oh.” It was, Mayor Mare thought later, like watching the moon rise. It took a while, but when it did happen, it brought a sense of relief, knowing that what needed to happen has happened. “Oh. I, um, see, Mayor Mare.”

“I’ll need your signature at the bottom of this form when you’ve checked,” added Mayor Mare, winking just in case. It made her want to moan dramatically. “Proof that you’ve checked that the following, Pipsqueak and Potsherd, are certified to be viable and proper citizen material. And yes, this is the registration form for the official documents they’ll need to conduct any business in Ponyville. Buy, sell, rent, whatever.”

Twilight nodded, returned the wink, and left.

Mayor Mare waited for the last of the hoofsteps to die down. From the vantage point of Town Hall’s highest room, she waited until she could no longer see the lavender dot. She relaxed a little and took out a bottle from a drawer, followed by a pair of brilliant red dice. It was not particularly special -- the one that was, she kept under the floorboards of the stage where it was safe from pegasi antics and Pinkie Pie -- but it was comfort enough. With some difficulty, she uncorked it and poured a generous measure into the silver mug on the desk, nursing it like an old friend.

“Well, well, Pipsqueak,” muttered Mayor Mare to herself. “I wonder if you can still recognize me after so long. Hopefully not. I wonder if you’re still spelling ‘told’ wrong.”

She gave the dice a roll.

“Two fives. Hmm.”

An idea lurked in her mind. What was it? Ah, yes, the one-way ticket. She still had that somewhere in the drawer as well. Unlike most ponies, though, she had a collection of them. All going away, none turning back. The refugee’s expression of optimism.

Mayor Mare was many things. She was considerably lax with her duties, which was something, considering all she had to do was paperwork. She was the amicable albeit impotent authority figure in a town directly under the gaze of the most powerful being in Equestria. She was the silent, unsung benefactor of the many refugees that sought asylum from the world beyond. She was, at one point, a legend herself, though fat lot that had did for her.

The one thing that she would not be today, she decided, was the pony that denied Pipsqueak and Potsherd a second chance, whatever their reasons. She had had her share of those, and being stingy was just asking for bad luck. And that was something she definitely did not want.

She drained the mug and began filling out forms.

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