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September 13, 2012
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⠠⠱⠻⠑ ⠊⠎ ⠮ ⠛⠊⠗⠇⠦

⠠⠱⠻⠑ ⠊⠎ ⠮ ⠋⠥⠉⠅⠬ ⠛⠊⠗⠇⠦

⠠⠁⠝⠎⠺⠻ ⠍⠑⠖

"-Answer me!"

"...She's gone!"

"What do you mean 'she's gone?'"

"She left..." I mouthed.

It didn't take him long to find half of the note. He scooped it up, and then quickly located the second half as well. He pieced them together and scanned them. I approached the cupboard and took out a glass, holding it under the sink and then pouring myself a drink. I gulped it, hiding behind my action to avoid having to communicate with Mr. Orange's thug. But soon he had finished reading, and when he looked up, I could see anger and resentment burning in his eyes.

"She's gone back to her fucking father?" he snarled, screwing the bits of paper up. "Shit!" he then cursed, shaking his head from side to side. I remained silent, not knowing how he was going to react towards me. The letter had said some things that I hadn't wanted him to see. I kept my distance, ready to run to the other side of the kitchen should he attempt to attack me.

"How did this happen?" he growled. "You were supposed to be keeping an eye on her!"

"Hey, I was the one who told you not to leave her alone here!" I barked. "You were perfectly happy to leave her here when you wanted to show me the factory!"

"The factory..." he sighed in frustration. "So what, the little bitch doesn't want to work at the factory?"

"She just wanted to go home," I said.

"And what's this shit about being in danger? What did you tell her?"

"She must have worked that out herself!" I spat. "You don't have to be a genius to know that travelling with armed stallions isn't safe."

"Shit..." the stallion exclaimed again. "When did she leave?"

"I don't know," I said. "Between this morning and 16:00. I wasn't here."

"That's right - you weren't here," he said bitterly. "-And what the fuck is this about Canterlot? What deals were you making there?"

"Nothing," I said, shaking my head. "I went out for lunch with an old friend. It wasn't a deal, really."

"Whatever," the stallion shrugged. "Have you been to the station?"

"I only just got back and saw the note," I said.

He took a deep inhale of air and then rushed towards the door. I followed after him, although he was quicker than I was. I manoeuvred around the carriage and the drivers outside the door and gave chase towards the station, passing by the residents of Ponyville, who were shocked to see two clothed individuals frantically bolting through their town. At the station I saw no train, and I located the stallion after a quick search; he was standing on the platform, looking both ways. I approached cautiously, although kept my distance once again. I remembered my first meeting with him, and how he had threatened to drown me; he could easily push me onto the tracks.

"She's gone," he said darkly. "The Manehattan train left over an hour ago. We ain't catching up to her now."

"So she's going to arrive in Manehattan soon, and then go to her father..." I breathed. "What will that mean?"

"It means that my employer's business plan is compromised," he said, turning to me. "We have no choice - we're going to have to report this to him."

"We?" I questioned. The optimistic side of me had hoped that he'd go off on his own, and that I'd be able to board another train to Canterlot, and escape from Mr. Orange's wrath entirely until Mr. Dorimant had dealt with him, even without Farleigh by my side. Being taken to Mr. Orange was the last thing I wanted, and I instinctively started to back away from the stallion. He noticed, and moved towards me, his head low and his hoof moving to his side.

"If you try and run away, I'll shoot you where you stand, you piece of shit," he said. "We're going. Move."

I had no choice but to obey. I'd hoped that someone else had been around to hear him, but Ponyville's station had been unusually quiet, and there was nobody who would speak out in my defence. I walked quickly, although he pushed me forwards all the same, impatient as he was. Several times he bruised my back with his strikes. Outside the boutique we approached the carriage he had arrived in. The drivers remained still and silent, and after snarling something to them the thug opened a side door, pushing me into the carriage with great force. He climbed in after, sitting opposite me, just as before.

The drivers wasted no time in setting off, travelling far quicker than we had before. The stallion before me swayed slightly from side to side, his expression lifeless and cold. I attempted to speak but he silenced me by clearing his throat, and then he produced a gun from his side. I froze and he pointed it at me, although he retained his usual icy disposition. He said nothing, but kept the gun on me, ensuring that I wouldn't move.

"L-Listen!" I said timidly. "Can't we work this out? I didn't mean for her to escape!"

⠠⠝⠕⠹⠬

"We can get her back! We can force her to stay at the factory!" I argued. "Things don't have to end like this! Mr. Orange will vouch for me: I'm loyal!"

⠠⠝⠕⠹⠬

"Hey! Speak to me!" I wailed. "Come on!

I wished that I had learned his name. I couldn't get him to respond to me. I should have encouraged Farleigh to press him for his name!

"What were you even doing at the boutique, huh?" I suddenly challenged, growing desperate. "You told me that we had two days! Two days, you said! We still have until tomorrow! That means I can go and get her back! You weren't meant to see this! This is just a blip!"

⠠⠝⠕⠹⠬

"Can you get your fucking gun off me?" I panted. "Just...put it away!"

He moved, and I wondered what he was doing. I became stiff as a board, contemplating if I'd be able to push by him, open the door and roll out of the moving carriage without getting shot. He pulled out a pipe, which he lit and started puffing away at. All the while he kept the gun pointing at me, although he retained his silent demeanour. It was unnerving; it was as if he thrived upon making others squirm. For the duration of the journey he said absolutely nothing, instead merely chewing on his pipe and coughing occasionally.

We approached Manehattan; I could see from the size of the buildings that we were entering the wealthy part of the city. Several hours had passed and he still hadn't changed his attitude, or allowed a single expression to spite his face. Navigating the streets took a long time, and I once more debated pushing by him, for I couldn't imagine that he'd fire a shot in a busy city such as Manehattan. I couldn't pluck up the courage, however, and I remained sitting on the chair, contemplating what in Equestria might happen to me.

The carriage pulled into a small area outside a glass building; I thought at first that it was the Glass House, but as the doors opened and I got a better look, I could see that it was an office of some kind instead. He pushed me from the carriage and the drivers unshackled themselves from the apparatus. I hoped that they might say something, but they were clearly being paid to look the other way regarding dodgy dealings. I was pushed forwards, and his gun prodded into my back, the metallic cylinder making a painful indent into my hide. For the last time I contemplated fleeing, but I knew that he would shoot me before I would be able to make any form of escape.

The building inside was white and cold. Everything was polished precisely, and in the lobby were a series of white, pod-like chairs. There was a receptionist, although she appeared as little more than a cardboard cut-out to me, as she barely even acknowledged the stallion and his prisoner. Several other stallions passed us by, and I attempted to reach out to one, but the stallion behind my back pressed the gun against me with greater pressure, and I was forced to keep my mouth shut. He took  me upstairs, to a long, white corridor that had barely seen a speck of dust. At the end of the corridor – the walk through that passage felt far longer than it must have been – we turned to the left, where I finally saw some colour - a green plant in a pot, which contrasted heavily with the independence of the otherwise white walls.

Outside the door I stopped, and so did he: the gold letting upon it told me that it was Mr. Orange's office. I hadn't expected him to work in a place so clean and tidy, but then again, he did attempt to portray himself as a respectable individual. Only those who knew him well knew otherwise. The stallion stepped forwards and knocked on the door. We received a grunt in response, and, with that, the door was pushed open, and I was taken through into Mr. Orange's lair.

"Gidrán," Mr. Orange said, looking up from behind his desk. "What have you brought him here for?" He paused for a moment. "Why do you have a gun on him? Put it away."

The stallion – his name being 'Gidrán', apparently, which I had not expected – reluctantly pulled his gun away from me, stepping back to close the door. He stood in front of it, blocking any escape from the office. The office itself was oddly small for a stallion as wealthy as Mr. Orange; it boasted only an impeccably tidy desk, two chairs against the right wall, a stand to hang clothing upon and a few filing cabinets. It was otherwise featureless.

"What has happened?" Mr. Orange asked bluntly. "Gidrán, speak."

"The girl has gone," Gidrán said, pointing an accusing hoof towards me. "-This fucker was in Canterlot earlier today and she took the opportunity to escape from the boutique. She boarded a train here several hours ago now with the intention of finding her father."

"I see," Mr. Orange said, having taken a few seconds to evaluate the information. "Did you check the Ponyville station?"

"Yes," Gidrán said.

"What about the Manehattan stations?"

"I came straight to you," he said. "She wouldn't have hung around at a station for long."

"Do we know if she has yet made contact with Cross?" Mr. Orange asked.

"I don't have that information," Gidrán said apologetically.

Mr. Orange sat up in his chair and folded his front legs. He clicked with his tongue, deep in thought, and started to hum a tune that I faintly recognised - it appeared to be a segment of the Symphony of Seven Paladins, although I couldn't have guessed which. At last he sat forwards in his chair, looking to me rather than Gidrán.

"Without Farleigh Cross, you're useless to me," he said, opening a draw on his side of the desk. I feared what he was about to do and quickly stepped forwards, which was enough to make Gidrán spring into action behind me. He grabbed me around the neck and pulled me back, perhaps predicting that I would harm Mr. Orange.

"Let me go!" I choked, and I saw Mr. Orange allow it through my struggling. Gidrán did as he was told and I shook myself, straightening out my jacket.

"I'm not useless to you," I panted, stepping towards Mr. Orange in a slower fashion. "You need me. I have a degree of control over Farleigh...and I'm loyal to you."

"Loyal to me?" Mr. Orange questioned, moving his head to the side to catch Gidrán's gaze. "What do you think, Mr. Reyes?" he asked snidely. "Is this stallion useful to me? Is he loyal?"

"He'll run out of your service the first chance that he gets," Gidrán said. His words stabbed at my back, and my heart sank.

Mr. Orange stroked at his chin, pondering over his next movement. "-So what should I do?" he asked himself aloud. "I could give him a chance to redeem his failure today, or I could have him shot."

"Shoot him," Gidrán said. "He'll only cause problems further down the line. You need loyal stallions on your side, boss, especially with what's coming for us. This guy was in Canterlot earlier today; he ain't loyal."

"Canterlot, you say?" Mr. Orange questioned, returning his gaze to me. "What were you doing in Canterlot?"

"I was eating with a friend," I said. I could feel my brow sweating, and I had no doubt that he could tell I was lying.

"Doesn't seem like the truth to me, boss," I heard Gidrán say. "He was planning something. The girl left a letter saying as much. Let me deal with this fucker. Then I can go and find the girl and bring her back. Even if she's staying with her daddy again, I don't think it'll be a problem to get her to come back to us with the right level of force."

Mr. Orange looked up to me, and then revealed his own weapon from inside the drawer: it was a smooth and sleek pistol, a bit longer than the one that Gidrán was carrying. He fingered it slowly, tapping the table with his free hoof.

"Am I to murder you here?" Mr. Orange asked me. "Or will you show me honesty?"

He pointed the gun towards me. "Last chance to tell me the truth," he said.

"...I was in Canterlot meeting with a stallion called Lusitano Dorimant," I said coldly. Mr. Orange moved his weapon away from me.

"He invited me to speak with him," I continued, "but he wouldn't say what it was about. I didn't want to ignore a message from such an important pony – I've known about The Dorimant Family and their quality products throughout Canterlot for some time – and so I travelled to Canterlot to meet with him."

"And what did he say to you?" Mr. Orange asked curiously. I knew that he could still kill me with one movement, and so by that point there was no use in withholding information.

"He said that he wanted revenge on you for killing someone close to him," I said. "He wanted me to join his side against you, but I said no. I was returning home to tell Farleigh that things might be getting dangerous due to an incoming war between you and Mr. Dorimant, but she was gone."

"Bullshit," Gidrán spat. "Boss, he's lying. The kid's letter said they perceived they were in danger before he went. He would have told Dorimant everything about you."

"That's not true!" I shouted, turning to Gidrán.

With that, Mr. Orange silenced us with a sharp whistle, which caused us both to stop in our tracks. "You listen to me," he said to me. "I need that girl back for more than just her dress-making talents. If she goes back to Friesian Cross it'll put him into a position of strength, which is something I cannot allow. So I ask you: what are you going to do about this?"

He was talking to the both of us by the end, but Gidrán did not speak. I cleared my throat, seeing little alternative: "I'll do my best to bring her back."

"You will," Mr. Orange said resolutely. "Gidrán will explain to you what will happen next. We may still be able to undo the damage that has been caused here."  

I was ordered to wait outside while Mr. Orange and Gidrán discussed something. They knew that I wouldn't attempt to escape again; I would be stupid to even try. I stood out in the corridor, both ways appearing to lead to areas even more blank. My eyes caught a clock hanging on a wall further down the left corridor, although it was displaying the wrong time. I approached the clock, and carefully used a hoof to open up the glass panel. I knew roughly what time it would be now, and twisted the hands of the clock until they were at least more accurate than they had been prior to my involvement.

When Gidrán emerged from the room I felt hateful towards him, but at least I was being kept alive, which was the most important thing. I felt tempted to speak with Mr. Orange alone – his company seemed somehow more welcoming than that of Gidrán – but the stallion hurried me along, and I was forced to go with him.

Outside I climbed into the carriage on my own accord, while Gidrán said a few words to the drivers. He climbed into the carriage opposite me once more, letting out a deep sigh.

"Well, congratulations," he said. "You get to live a little bit longer."

"Where are we going?" I asked, ignoring his comment. "Mr. Orange mentioned that you'd give me an explanation."

"Don't get too comfortable," he uttered under his breath, and then he pointed out of the window with a hoof. "You're going to be taken to Mr. Cross' place to negotiate with the girl. I highly advise that you don't try and escape."

"How can I with you here?" I asked.

"I'm not going to be here," he said. "I'm getting dropped off at the station. I've been given a different task to do."

"Where are you going?"

"Canterlot, if you must know," he said, and my eyes widened in alarm. "Your story doesn't check out to me. I'm going to speak to Dorimant and his boys. And when I find out that you mean to betray the boss, I'm going to come back here to Manehattan and shoot you in the head."

"If you don't trust me, why don't you just kill me now?" I spat. Gidrán rolled his eyes.

"Apparently the boss is testing your loyalty," he said. "That's why he's letting you make up for losing the girl by bringing her back by yourself. Loyalty is everything to the boss."

"So what? This is some sort of test?" I asked, and Gidrán nodded, although he was clearly angry that I had been given a second chance.

At the station Gidrán climbed from the carriage, closing the door with a strong movement of his hoof. He expected me to stay inside, and as the carriage set into motion once again, I did sincerely debate on if I should leap out into the streets of Manehattan and make a run for it. But I assumed that the drivers would be armed, working for Mr. Orange as they did, and I didn't know where I would run to; they knew where I lived, after all.

Instead, my mind drifted to what I would do regarding Farleigh. We assumed that she had returned home; that had been her plan, and, unless something had blocked her path, I knew that nothing would have stopped her from enacting it. She had been genuinely concerned for her father, and, if she returned home, she would be able to clear his name - no longer would the news print stories of him murdering his own daughter and wife in a sinister plot. Instead, they would once more print that his wife burned in an unfortunate fire.

But, more than that, they would print how Farleigh was kidnapped by Mr. Orange and myself. I could see now how some disgusting media mogul would exaggerate the story. I could only hope that Farleigh would speak of me in the most positive of lights; I could feel the impending problems that I would face if she for some reason gave the response that she was forced to stay with me at the boutique. I would be called a foal-fiddler, and a sexual deviant of all persuasions, which I couldn't allow to happen. Now that I thought about it, Farleigh running away was the absolute worst possible scenario. Rather than trying to come up with a plan to save her, I should have forced her to go to the factory; then I would have been free from all of this.

But, of course, my emotions had gotten in the way, and my fondness of Farleigh Cross had clouded my judgement. I had chosen to be sympathetic towards her, when she wasn't mine to show sympathy to. Her appearance in my life should have meant nothing to me, but once again, investing in the life of another had caused me all kinds of grief. As the carriage made its way towards her home, I couldn't help but shed a tear for the futility of it all - I knew that attempting to convince Farleigh to return would be pointless, and if I came into contact with Mr. Cross, I had no idea what I would say. On top of it all, Gidrán had been sent to prove me the guilty culprit, and I half-expected that he would murder Mr. Dorimant after hearing what he needed to hear.

The idea of finding anywhere safe was thinning, as were the roads as we entered the rural part of Manehattan, nearing the home of Mr. Cross that I hadn't burned to the ground.
Chapter 14 of My Little Pony: Orange-Cross Empire, (OCE), entitled The Crux.

OCE is the spiritual successor to Hospice, which can be found here: [link]

While it is not required that readers check out Hospice first, it is advisable, simply for the fact that it establishes a lot of what will be elaborated upon in this narrative. However, it is still very possible to view Hospice as a singular work, as its particular themes are concluded by the Epilogue. In addition, efforts have been made to ensure that OCE can be enjoyed by its own merits and content.

OCE follows the lives of two very different individuals, and how they are brought together through a common interest. In addition, the corporate world around them begins to spiral out of control, consuming all of Ponyville and, ultimately, Equestria in its wake.

Artwork by *Polar59
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:iconturkeysm:
TurkeySM Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
So the narrator's been caught already. Pity, I thought this would last longer.

The Crux, hmm, sounds like cross. Mr. Cross. Am I getting warmer?

I'm still uncertain what the purpose of the braille is. Perhaps the narrator or some other pony is "blind" in a way to what's going on?

Gidrán is always an interesting sight to see at work. It contrasts so much with his home life with his daughters. Well I guess he's gotta pay those bills somehow. And while he is very indicative of loyalty, I'm not so sure how loyal he'll be in the future. I feel that there's going to be that twist where he leaves Orange due to something bad happening to his family. Time will tell as always.

Ok, here's the big chunk of the chapter for me, Mr. Orange's stuff. His office, his clock, his plant, his gun, his everything. All of it seems rather symbolic, and perhaps his work building reflects him as Mr. Cross' now burnt-down home reflects who he is. While Mr. Cross had a decorative and old-fashioned home, Mr. Orange's office is like his personality. Bare, but mysteriously so. His white walls are eerily ironic as they are as clean and tidy as his soul isn't. And it's also funny the building is a glass one, as Mr. Orange is far from transparent. The plant is perplexing for me. It contrasts with everything else and yet I can't figure out how it relates to or reflects some aspect of Mr. Orange. If it has meaning, it is lost on me. The neatness also reflects a neat-freak mindset, which then is not too different from a control-freak, and Mr. Orange is definitely a control-freak. Can't wait for both his desk and Orange himself to get messed up and down and dirty.
The gun is interesting because it's the first display of Orange being personally committed to doing an act of violence. It seems he is capable of getting his hooves red, though I feel this might be a rare situation, with Farleigh missing greatly upsetting him. Also, it's funny how loyalty is supposedly everything to Mr. Orange when he controls by fear more than by respect, and respect tends to maintain loyalty much better than fear can. Of course, I haven't seen how other ponies who work for him besides Gidrán and the narrator interact with him, so I may be wrong there.

As for the narrator, his actions and thought process bring to mind the latter part of 1984. Where he was first happy and hopeful in secretly resisting Orange, he is now caught and spilling the beans and is betraying Farleigh and Dorimant verbally and mentally like a man with a rat cage over his head. I guess this is where the ugliness of humanity, or in this case, pony kind comes to light. When pressured with the threat of death and physical pain, betrayal and weakness are imminent. The narrator contrasts greatly with those rebellious rebels who defy the dictator to the torturous end in those war/revolution stories. But I can't blame him for fearing death and pain, and at least he has the guts to snap at Gidrán sometimes. Still, the rapidity of how he turns on Farleigh mentally is rather disturbing. Maybe he'll end up burning what meager relationship he has with her to the ground too.

The paragraph where he thinks about how he'll be viewed badly is rather odd, as it doesn't seem like something one would think of when the fear and threat of death is nearby. The narrator certainly has interest priorities. And of course, the whole thing is reminiscent of cloppers, rule 34'ers, and porn fans galore. It was very subtle and took me quite some time to figure it out. A very long time. Joking aside, him forcing her to go the factory is like cloppers forcing kids to see their clop. Innocence is lost everywhere. How delightful.

Great work as always! I'll get to the next one in due time.
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:iconcuddlepug:
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012
The Crux definitely sounds a bit like 'Cross'; the braille is there to show blindness, as you say, and alienation.

There's a big focus on mise en scčne in this chapter, as you have pointed out: the focus on Mr. Orange's workplace as being reflective of his personality is definitely intentional. So, as you point out, we have the clinical whiteness of everything, and the odd scarcity of items adorning things. If this was Cross' office, we would expect to see far more in the way of decorative spoils. The plant is an odd contrast to everything else, as if Orange wished to put a little bit of colour into his otherwise blank and mysterious world. It was out in the corridor, along with the incorrect clock; he keeps these elements of colour nearby, but doesn't internalise them, for they aren't inside the office, but remain outside in the halls.

I'm really glad that you picked up on Orange's gun. Usually he gets others to do the shooting for him, and yet here he appears willing to kill the narrator himself. Then again, remember that gun - it will be coming into the story again, and it might serve to explain why Orange had the gun at that time. Orange certainly does have a network of crooks outside of Gidrán, although for the bulk of OCE, the focus will be on Gidrán as the most vital member of his organisation.

As for the narrator, in his desperation he's proving himself to be anything but loyal - while he attempts to convey to Orange that he's loyal, he's proving his disloyalty by betraying both Farleigh and Dorimant. We very much get the feeling that he would be happy to see Farleigh go into the factory if it ensured his safety; he's always been a selfish individual, and such traits are really starting to emerge now. There's very much a sense that the narrator will say anything to stay alive; it'll be interesting to see if Farleigh would do the same under the same conditions.

As for his concern for what might happen to him, the narrator's thought processes have always been oddly focused on relatively insignificant things. In Hospice he once spent several paragraphs musing over water dripping from a tap; he's not a particularly rational mind, and his irrational tendencies come through when he's under stress. That's when he starts directing his attention towards things that might not seem to be at the top of the totem pole in terms of priority.

Thanks for the big comment again, bud. Enjoy the next chapter!
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:iconcatnipfairy:
Catnipfairy Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What does the clock mean?!?
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:iconcuddlepug:
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2012
Every detail has a great purpose ;3
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:iconrated-r-ponystar:
Rated-R-PonyStar Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
Dun dun dun
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:icondoctordapples:
doctordapples Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012
yo, mr. orange

This is coming together pretty damn well. It seems like its all beginning to reach a boil. The office scene made me think of Miller's Crossing.

Still four eps behind on Breaking Bad, btw.
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:iconcuddlepug:
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012
:iconjessepinkmanplz::iconsaysplz:"Yo! Early Coen Bros., bitch!"

But yeah, thanks for saying so. While the story had a slow start - a deliberate move to introduce some vital points - from here on in it's pretty much going to be non-stop cliff-hangers and twists. I'm pretty excited to get to some of the ideas I have for the future of the narrative.

As for Breaking Bad, you're on Season 5, then? The 8th episode mid-season finale will blow your mind.
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