Chapter 9 - The Fastest Pony on Earth, Duo (Part 1)
"You stupid MORON!"
"Go to hell, Sophie! Why are you even here!? To walk your mentally disabled ponies?"
"To kick your butt, Britt the turd!"
"Eat my dust, mole face!"
This last qualification race couldn't have started any differently. Brittany, Hemlock, and Nightshade got gate number one, and Sophie, Morning Star, and Moonlight got gate number two. As soon as the race started, the two carts slammed violently into each other without causing any serious damage. It had to look like an accident, or else both teams risked disqualification.
Of course, Brittany had instigated the contact because she had a perfect reason to do so. Her team was already qualified for the Triple Crown races, and today's race would only determine what gate number she would get during the three events, which wasn't that big of a deal. However, in Sophie's case, if they wanted to have a chance to be part of the Triple Crown, thanks to their average performances so far, they would have to finish fifth today, or their dream of saving Penny's stable would be over. So, obviously, it was only fair that Brittany wouldn't help them with their quest.
Being the least experienced pony, Moonlight had lost her cool and immediately fell out of sync, distracted by the word war between the two anger-filled drivers. While Brittany followed the pack with her focused pink ponies, Sophie's team quickly fell behind.
"Moonlight! Focus! Forget about them! Follow Morning Star! Remember what I taught you."
The young pony wasn't a veteran by any stretch of the imagination, but she had made outstanding progress since her little trip in the desert and her improbable rescue. After what Tiantang Zhi Ma had put her through, she was left with the impression that she could achieve anything, including learning. Even though it was very late in the game, Sophie had trained her relentlessly between each exhibition race to bring her to a more professional level.
Like a sponge, Moonlight had absorbed every fluid ounce of knowledge that Sophie had made her drink without arguing a single time. She had placed all her trust in her trainer and her racing companion, Morning Star. She had fully accepted her absence of racing knowledge and that her body would be used as a machine in any way Sophie would see fit.
It was no longer about herself. It was all about the reason she had been lent to Penny's stable, winning for a cause bigger than herself.
After the humiliating performance of their first exhibition race, and after Penny had miraculously convinced the board to let them run again, things only went uphill. Sophie and her two ponies had finished last in the two next races but ran with the pack all the way to the end. And then they finished third, fourth, fifth, and third again, which was consistent enough to accumulate enough points to be eligible for the final three Triple Crown races, the one that counted the most.
But today, they were in trouble very early in the race, which wasn't part of the game plan. There wasn't a single weak team ahead of them, and catching up after falling behind so soon was almost impossible, particularly because they would have to pass all the other ponygirls from the outside lane.
Yet, Moonlight got back into it and resynced her hooves with Morning Star's, which allowed the team to regain its cruising speed.
"Good! Good! Moon! You got it! We are not dead yet!"
Thanks to the 3000 meters race, there was still plenty of time to attempt catching up. And since that giant single lap race was extremely demanding, it was certainly possible that some of the teams would suddenly drop behind because they had tried too hard too early and exhausted their athletic legs.
Still, they were in trouble. Being this far behind so early in the race meant that, overall, it would take a lot more energy if they wanted to finish fifth and qualify for the Triple Crown.
As they entered the first long turn, things didn't seem too bright.
"Crap! They are all so good. I hope you had a good breakfast this morning because we will need to make an early sprint. I know you want to go faster right now but don't. Keep that pace, Morning Star. Moon, conserve as much energy as you can. It's going to be a tough one. I'm counting on you."
It was a surreal experience, such a dramatic moment, and they felt like they were alone on the track. The others were too far ahead to be heard, and it didn't feel like they were competing in the same race.
As they exited the first turn, Sophie observed what was going on with the other teams. The leading ponies began to slow down as they had engaged in a useless early battle for the railing. That was one team they would potentially manage to beat, placing them in the seventh position. Then there was the last team who actually seemed to have a very bad day. Their two ponies seemed nervous, and they, too, needed to finish in the fifth position to qualify for the Triple Crown races. It seemed that the pressure was too high and that their ponies were struggling to keep their emotions at bay. Sometimes wanting something too much could bring the opposite result. If Sophie managed to beat those as well, then she would be in the sixth position.
She only had one more team to identify in order to implement a final strategy. But while using her expert eyes to analyze the remaining racers, she noticed something bad… really bad. Something that made her blood boil.
"That creature of hell! I'm SO going to punch her in the face!"
It was as shocking as it was unsurprising. Brittany and her pink ponies were locking the fifth position, the one Sophie needed. On purpose, she slowed down the team in the sixth and seventh positions to create a gap with the teams in fourth and up. Since Brittany was already qualified, it was understandable that she wouldn't push her ponies too hard, but doing what she was doing was totally to prevent Sophie from qualifying.
Hemlock and Nightshade were the strongest competitors on that track. As soon as Sophie would get close to them, which would be toward the end of the race, Brittany would push hard to prevent Penny's stable from achieving their mandatory objective. This scheme was motivated only by hatred and vindictiveness.
But it was fair.
It was a competition. Without fully realizing it, Sophie and Brittany had provided each other with those ridiculous challenges founded on ill intentions during all their careers. Doing this over and over, increasingly intensively, had made them better. Much better. It made them the best. Nobody raced for a medal. Nobody raced for a trophy. Outside the necessity of making money, nobody ran for that either.
A true race had no relationship with the final prize or a position number. It was all about the challenger and the will to beat it. No. It was only about reaching deep down to find the strength to achieve the unachievable and accept a rational challenge.
And this one was exactly that, a real challenge. Brittany may have been the rough driver on the track, but she wasn't stupid. She knew very well that Sophie would quickly discover what she was doing and understand that there was no way around it. This confrontation had to take place, no matter what.
"Star, Moon. Forget about the race. We are going to beat Brittany and her slut ponies! You got me?"
Not too sure about the why of this sudden statement, Morning Star and Moonlight briefly looked at each other and nodded. Moonlight thought it was actually simpler that way, no matter what the reason for this decision was. She knew Sophie had a strategy, and it was as easy as listening to what she wanted. Doing so should be enough to provide a good winning chance.
Sophie passed the team in the seventh position as if they were nothing more than an invisible enemy and then shared her plan.
"Listen… We are going to trick them. When I say go, you will sprint, but no more than ninety percent of what you can do. That should be enough to throw them off balance, and at the very end, you'll give all you've got to surprise them. We only have one shot at this, so be patient and don't mess up."
The long straight line leading to the second long turn was long. As expected, the cart in the first position had slowed down and headed toward the end of the pack, but it was inconsequential. Brittany still firmly locked the fifth position and wouldn't change her strategy in a lifetime. Keeping her ponies fresh, she allowed Sophie to get closer, but not too close. They were not at an insulting range just yet. She hugged the railing as she had no intention of letting Sophie take the inner corridor. Every little thing she could do to exhaust her enemies would have to be applied. There was a risk in allowing Sophie to get closer to achieve an ultimate humiliation, but she was not a fool either. Brittany knew very well how strong Morning Star could be and how much potential the elusive Moonlight had. Were they stronger than Hemlock and Nightshade together? That was unlikely, but it was still worth considering in terms of risk management.
Halfway in the last turn, Sophie unleashed her ponies, hoping that they would remember what she had asked from them. On purpose, clearly wanting Brittany to hear her, she yelled as loud as she could to make her react to her trap.
"GO GO GO! MORNING STAR! MOONLIGHT! GIVE ALL YOU'VE GOT! LET'S BEAT THAT STUPID TEAM!"
Right away, Sophie noticed Brittany turning her head to see if that early sprint was really happening or if it was just some bait, and then yelled at her ponies in return once she had confirmed that the threat was serious.
"YAAA! HEMLOCK, NIGHTSHADE! GAME ON!"
Using her head start, Penny's team rapidly reached Stardust's team. They weren't side by side just yet, but now they were definitely within insulting range.
"Die, Sophie! Die! You'll lose your job, and we are going to purchase Morning Star so we can send her to the slaughter plant!"
"Shut up, Britt the turd! Maybe you should get breast implants like your ponies. At least you'd get something interesting to look at."
"I can't wait for Penny to go bankrupt. You can feast on her cold corpse when this is over."
Being insulted was one thing, but Sophie never liked it much when Brittany attacked Penny. She couldn't help but swing her riding crop at her rude opponent, missing her face by only one inch.
"Hey! I'll hit you with my crop, too! See if you like it, you imbecile."
Brittany responded by trying to hit Sophie in return, which quickly turned into a highly unusual fencing cross-carts competition.
A riding crop wasn't a toy. It hurt a lot. Hitting each other on the arms like this was going to leave some nasty bruises.
Meanwhile, the ponies in both teams understood that they no longer had a driver to rely on. Perhaps Sophie and Brittany had taken their feud a bit too far this time. Fortunately, they had all they needed in terms of instruction to finish the race unassisted.
Now wheel against wheel, the two carts were almost touching. Not wholly clueless, Hemlock and Nightshade understood that their opponents were not giving their all just yet. It was suspicious at best. Unfortunately, ponygirls wore bits, and it was impossible to relay that information to Brittany, who was too busy hitting and getting hit anyway.
With the finish line quickly approaching, Nightshade signaled her partner that it was time to finish this at full speed before getting fooled by a deceiving team.
And Morning Star saw that coming from a mile away and did the same.
There was nobody else on the track anymore. There were only two teams, and the only objective was to beat each other.
Nightshade gave her all. Hemlock gave her all. Morning Star gave her all. Moonlight…
Moonlight just followed casually.
Inexperienced, she trusted her partner to do the right thing.
But she just followed casually.
She stayed in sync with Morning Star, who clearly knew what she was doing.
But still… she just followed casually.
There was no reason not to win this. Why was this supposed to be that hard? It wasn't. What was hard was to hold back and keep the strategy alive. Sure, Moonlight had experienced firsthand what would happen if she didn't obey.
What if, just for once, she just took the lead, just to unleash her real power a little.
Today seemed like a good day to try something like this. Sophie was busy whacking her friend, Morning Star was clearly at her maximum speed, which seemed unimpressive today. So… why not? She only had to let her team know of her intention, and perhaps they could win this. What was there to lose? The pink team was already slightly ahead of them, and the finish line was so close.
Whatever would happen next would happen. Moonlight had committed and screamed through her bit, something she had never done before. It would be up to everybody else to adapt to her for once.
This behavior was so shocking and wild that the two drivers stopped fighting for a second.
Sophie sank into her seat, and Morning Star almost tripped. She rapidly increased her pace to avoid crashing, which was only possible because it felt like she was running on an air cushion. Moonlight was the one pulling all the cart's weight.
It only took a few strides for Sophie's team to jump in ahead of Brittany's team and cross the finish line in a solid fifth position, puzzling everyone who had remotely paid attention, including a roaring crowd who had undoubtedly appreciated the heroic move.
Without clear instructions, the two teams stopped next to each other, ponies panting and drivers angrier than ever. It would have been better to separate those two, but with wrists cuffed to their waist, it was not in the ponies' power to do so. Morning Star just figured that, as usual, they would sort things out themselves, so she just jogged in place with Moonlight, happy to have officially qualified for the Triple Crown.
But on the drivers' side, it got ugly. Both Sophie and Brittany were covered in bruises due to the intense crop whipping, and the latter jumped from her cart to Sophie's and started punching her, which only motivated Sophie to return the aggression in the same ungraceful manner.
"NO! YOU DIE MORE!"
"I said no. You stay in jail. You are no use to me anyway because you got suspended until further notice by the Triple Crown committee."
"STARDUST! You can't do that to me! Who will drive Hemlock and Nightshade!?"
"In any case, not you. I'll figure it out. You are off the team until we sort that out, Brittany. Your behavior was beyond disgraceful!"
"DISGRACEFUL!? IT WAS SOPHIE'S FAULT! She hit me with her riding crop!"
"After you slammed your cart into hers intentionally."
"Pfff… She just had to stay behind us."
"That's not how it works. There are rules, and you broke them. I can consider myself lucky that they didn't suspend Hemlock and Nightshade as well. Anyway, the sheriff put you in jail for potential assault, so that is quite something. They think this was beyond the context of a sporting event. You can't say you didn't cross the line this time."
Indeed, it was quite something. Racing in front of thousands of spectators in a race broadcasted on national TV came with the disadvantage of not being able to pretend bad things didn't happen. Not only Brittany got suspended, but on top of that, the police were waiting for her outside the race track. They had determined that she presented a danger to society and would put her in jail at the local police station until they finished investigating the case. A furious Stardust had, obviously, refused to bail her out.
On the opposite side of the same jail cell, hugging her knees in the far corner of the bed, was Sophie, smirking.
"Ah! Stardust, you are the owner of one fine stable. Maybe you need a new driver!"
"SEE! SEE! SHE IS A BITCH!"
Brittany didn't like Sophie.
"Calm down, Brittany. And you, Sophie. Penny actually gave me a message for you."
"She… she is not coming?"
"No. She said she had better things to do. She was beyond disappointed. So you are going to stay here overnight as well."
"WHAT? That's not fair! Brittany started it all."
"ENOUGH! You two, you are sick in your head. You are going to stay in that cell until further notice. And too bad for you, that is the only one they have in this little town, so you have to share it. And if you dare pick another fistfight, that's going to make your life much worse. So think hard about it before you punch each other again."
At least there were two beds, so Brittany returned to hers, and similar to what Sophie was doing, she hugged her knees. They both had messed up big time, and they knew it. But Stardust's little speech was also painful to endure.
Sophie and Brittany stuck together in a jail cell; that was not something anybody could have predicted when the rooster crowed this morning.
"What are we supposed to do without Sophie, Penny? We are screwed!"
"Maybe, but she deserves it. She will stay in jail to reflect on her actions. She and Brittany's lack of sportsmanship today exceeded anything I've seen in my long life, and God only knows how many things I've seen. It is unacceptable, and it's important that she learns something out of it. Anyway, there is nothing we can do while the police are reviewing their case."
"But, we can't race without her!"
"Have you lost the use of your legs, Morning Star?"
"And you, Moonlight? Do you think it's over too?"
"Oh, I don't know. I don't know much about pony stuff."
"Right. You only know about stealing cookies and getting lost in deserts. Yet, you managed to win today's race without Sophie telling you what to do. I saw everything, you know."
Penny had indeed not missed a thing. Left to themselves, the ponies from both teams had to make a judgment call and execute their instinctive plan without any direct command from their busy driver. And right before the finish line, Moonlight had even allowed herself to unleash some of her hidden power.
"Star, we will find you a temporary driver until Sophie's situation is sorted out. We made it to the Triple Crown, and we are not going to abandon now."
"… But, Penny. We don't know anybody as good as Sophie."
"Oh, I know one, but she is in jail too."
"I don't want Brittany to be our driver. She is strange. And Sophie said I would get bacterias if I got too close to her."
"She won't. I have a couple of people in mind. Let me make a few phone calls. We will see if I can convince one of them to help."
"What are we supposed to do without Brittany, Stardust? We are screwed."
"Well, too bad, Hemlock. Her behavior was unacceptable, so Penny and I agreed to let them simmer in jail for a while. I've never seen such behavior in my entire life. Anyway, they are suspended, so we need a contingency plan anyway."
"What plan? Only Brittany can make us win. There are no other drivers as good as her."
"Well, you have to accept it, Hemlock. But leave that to me. I know just who to call, and you'll have to love it because it's not an option."
"Who is it?"
"You'll see when she gets here."
"So, are you proud of yourself now?"
"Don't talk to me, Brittany. We know whose fault this is."
"MINE!? You slammed your cart into mine not even twenty meters after the beginning of the race, and then you tried to block us on purpose out of evilness."
"Grow up. It happens. It's racing."
"Yeah, it only happens when you are next to me."
There was not a lot of common ground between Brittany and Sophie. Being stuck together in a cramped cell of a small police regional station felt like being in a room full of poisonous snakes, just worse. Both drivers were sitting on their respective beds, hugging their knees and hating their life. All the bruises they inflicted on each other while whipping the hell out of each other with riding crops weren't making things any better.
But the physical pain wasn't the worst thing. Based on what Stardust said earlier, both Penny and she agreed not to lift a finger to help them. Despite blaming each other for this humiliating fiasco, Sophie and Brittany knew they had messed up big time inside their hearts.
On her side, Sophie had lost her cool like never before, and the consequences of her bad behavior were way too heavy to carry. Because of her, the chances for Penny's stable to win the Triple Crown were pretty much zero, and Penny would have to sell everything. What would happen then? She would lose her job, but who would hire her back knowing she had caused such a disaster? The answer was simple, nobody. And what about Morning Star and Moonlight? Morning Star wasn't that complicated as she just loved to run and win. It wouldn't be too hard to find a different stable to continue her career happily. But what about Moonlight? She had Tiantang who would take care of her, but since she wasn't too much into pony racing, there was no telling what a Triple Crown humiliation would do to her. Only a week ago, the young girl had abandoned everything before miraculously coming back in the oddest of ways. She could do it again. Despite how physically strong she was, Moonlight's heart hosted a certain fragility.
For Brittany, things weren't much brighter. Training Hemlock and Nightshade was the only good thing she had going in her life, so being unable to do that was depressing. But in her case, there was more. After being banned from the Super Cup circuit, the last thing she needed was to receive the same treatment on the Triple Crown one. If she were to get evicted from that one as well, her career as a driver would be truly over. What Stardust thought of her was not important. Only Hemlock and Nightshade mattered, and maybe Cassy a little bit because she had never been a bitch around her.
Staring at each other from across the cell, the two girls didn't know how to behave. If they were to open their mouths again, it would be to fire some more insults, which would quickly escalate again. As Stardust said, picking a fight at the police station wouldn't do them much good.
Yet, Brittany risked a question, this time with less ill intention. Despite the drama following the race, one very specific thought had not left her brain since.
"So… How did she do that?"
"Uh? What are you talking about?"
"Moonlight. How did she manage to pass us at the last second like this?"
"Because your team sucks, Brittany."
"You are an imbecile!"
This time, Brittany wasn't wrong. As soon as Sophie replied to the legitimate question with an insult, she kind of felt guilty. She, too, had asked herself the same question, after all. Her desperate strategy had failed, and they were not supposed to win the duel. Hemlock and Nightshade were extremely strong, and what had happened in the end wasn't normal. Moonlight had taken on herself to win… somehow.
"I don't know."
"… You don't know? Isn't Moonlight your ponygirl?"
"Yeah, kind of. But I don't know her much… She is the less typical racer I've ever met. She is not supposed to do what she does."
"Yes. I was present during her first race when she rammed the gate."
"That was embarrassing."
"Yeah, but who cares. She won her second race even if you held her back like crazy."
"So, you saw all that from the stands, Brittany? You might be more intelligent than I thought, after all."
"I know my shit."
Who would have thought that two enemies would have made peace just long enough to appreciate their professional skills? It wouldn't fix anything between the two of them, but at least they had something other than hate to discuss while waiting for the sheriff to work on their case. Where was he anyway?
But Brittany's question remained unanswered. They had performed an observation of the young ponygirl that had explained nothing, and it was kind of hard to leave it at that. So Sophie dropped a single word, the one that would summarize Moonlight the best.
"Did I punch you too hard, or are you going to tell me what it means?"
"… Blocks. Seven blocks."
"Ah! Hemlock did that too."
"She did a full lap of the paddock while pulling seven concrete blocks."
That was enough to catch Brittany's attention. During a charity event, Hemlock had pulled a sled with seven concrete blocks on a short distance, a few meters, but it had been considered an exceptional feat of strength, and it had required such intense training, something a rookie would never have been able to achieve. So if Sophie was telling the truth and Moonlight had really dragged a sled with seven blocks around a standard-sized paddock, it only meant one thing.
"That's not possible, Sophie, and you know it."
"She did it. Morning Star was there too and saw everything."
"She is strong, Britt. Impossibly strong."
"I knew she was… but… if this is true… It would mean that…"
"… yeah. Exactly… If Moonlight awakens, Morning Star and Hemlock will never win another race again."
"Moonlight, Morning Star. Meet your new driver."
Penny had given a few tasks to keep her ponygirls occupied. Since Sophie wasn't around, a lot of work wasn't getting done. At least Penny was taking care of their food because it would have been a catastrophe. Morning Star, who probably didn't even know what a spatula was, wouldn't have known where to start with cooking.
As they were in the process of replacing the hay in their stalls, Penny arrived with a guest… a rather familiar one.
"Hello, Morning Star! Hello, Moonlight!"
It wasn't possible. Sure, Ivory was small and light, a perfect driver weight, and yes, she had a lot of experience in teamwork, but she wasn't a driver. She was a ponygirl too… A SHOW ponygirl who knew nothing about racing.
"But, Penny… Ivory can't be our driver."
"You don't like her?"
"I do like her, but she is not a driver."
"That's exactly why I asked her to be your driver."
"… I don't understand."
Morning Star scratched the back of her head. She didn't want to insult Ivory, but even she probably knew that she wasn't qualified for this job. An inexperienced driver at the Triple Crown? It would be nothing less than suicide.
"Calm down, Star. I picked her because she is small and she knows you. She doesn't need to know about driving because you are going to do all the work for her."
"Is that a problem?"
"YES! I'm… I'm a pony! I can't manage a race. Sophie is the one who watches the other teams and decides on a strategy to win. I… I can't do that. I'm too busy running."
"Good, because that's all you'll have to do."
"Uh? Moonlight! Tell Penny she is wrong… I… I can't do Sophie's job!"
"Mmm… I don't know, Star. I know nothing about pony stuff. I mean, we did decide to sprint during the last race because Sophie was too busy trying to decapitate Brittany."
"That wasn't the same. It was the end of the race. We always sprint at the end of the race."
It was definitely a bad idea. Morning Star's reasoning wasn't flawed. A ponygirl was a ponygirl, and a driver was a driver. Once her bit was in her mouth, she was trained not to think and only focus on running and breathing. What Penny proposed was insanity.
Ivory cutely walked to Morning Star and wrapped her arms around her waist, pressing her cheek on her chest.
"Star, you are amaaazing! You'll win everything!"
"That's not the point, Ivory. You don't understand. I can't come up with racing strategies as Sophie does."
This time, Penny put an end to this arguing.
"Stop panicking and listen."
"Do you know how to run?"
"Do you know how to sprint?"
"I do, but…"
"That's all you have to do then. There won't be any strategies until Sophie comes back. You'll run, and when you feel it's time, you'll sprint."
"Racing… without strategy?"
"Yes. No strategy is better than a poor strategy. If I were to get you another driver, they would try things that will throw you off balance. We don't have time to teach you a new style. So Ivory is going to sit in that cart, and you are going to run and sprint. End of discussion."
"And you Moonlight, any objection?"
"No. I'll just follow what Morning Star is doing."
"Good. Come on, Ivory. I'll show you how to attach the cart to their harness. You'll have to do it by yourself on race day."
"Yay! I'm going to learn how to tie up Morning Star! Can I wear a small helmet like Sophie?"
"Yes. It's mandatory."
"Oh? Is racing that dangerous?"
"Cassy! You are always so delicious."
With a bit between her teeth, Cassy rested on her haystack, fully dressed as a pony. In her case, that included that fantastic green suit with open boobs that Brittany had carefully selected for her. Her restraints were also the reason why she couldn't do anything but moan at the moment. Hemlock and Nightshade laid next to her and had been nibbling on her tits for a while now. What had happened earlier was very dramatic, but for the two elite ponies, it was not a reason to stop having sex with their favorite helper.
While Nightshade rubbed Cassy's firm belly, Hemlock fingered her to keep her in that beautiful state of excitement. With her hands attached to her waist, there was nothing Cassy could do to stop them, but since her role was to keep the ponies happy, she had no issues enduring this pleasant treatment.
When Stardust purchased Paul's stable and invited Cassy to be part of the adventure as general help, she had not expected to be transformed into a sexual distraction. It was far better than just carrying water buckets all day and doing boring paperwork. To be treated and pushed like this at any time of day and night made her so incredibly happy. Why didn't this happen earlier in her life? She would have dropped her unsuccessful racing career way earlier if she had known that she could have made people happy this way.
"Oooh! Cassy came hard again. We are getting good at it."
"Yes, and it was my left hand too."
"Let me try with my tongue."
It was always the same. Hemlock and Nightshade totally disregarded the fact that she may have needed a break, and that was the best part. Every time she felt like she was done, those two found a way to push her over the edge again. At that relentless pace, her mind would become blank, and she would turn into a mere orgasming body with no trace of humanity left.
May this day arrive sooner rather than later.
As Nightshade buried her face in Cassy's crotch, a repulsed voice interrupted everything.
"EEEWWW! WHAT IS THIS!?"
Everybody turned to the door and saw the most improbable person ever standing next to Stardust.
"Yes! But what in the world are you doing!? Since when are orgies in stables allowed? Grooosss!"
"Oh, it's not an orgy. Hemlock and I are a couple."
"Then why did you have your face buried in this girl's crotch?"
"Oh! That's Cassy. She is our helper. We just use her for sex. Hemlock and I love it. We can do everything we want with her. Stardust said so."
Xiuying stared at Stardust for a moment, and the latter simply shrugged before returning to a more serious topic.
"Hemlock, Nightshade. Xiuying accepted to be your replacement driver."
"But, she hates us…"
"She doesn't hate you. She hates Brittany."
"Mmm… But she is not Brittany."
"Obviously not, but she is very talented and will do a great job until Brittany comes back."
"Only Brittany knows how to lace my boots the way I like."
"Hemlock, you don't have a choice."
Of course, Xiuying wasn't Brittany, but for Stardust, having managed to pull that one off was the best thing that could have happened. There were only three drivers on the circuit that stood out, and Xiuying was one of them. Since there weren't any Super Cup races at the moment, the Asian driver had accepted the contract. She didn't come cheap, but Stardust was willing to spend what she had to in order to give her ponies an opportunity to succeed.
That said, she would demand a good return for her money.
"Alright, you two. Get up and go train right now. You have some chemistry to build with Xiuying, and there is not a lot of time left before the first Triple Crown race."
"Okay. We will finish playing with Cassy, and we will go run."
"No, now. You've played enough with her already."
"She only came twice… We wanted to try another way of…"
"I said, now!"
"Aww. Okay, okay!"
Pinching Cassy's naked nipples one last time, the two pink ponies stood up and exited the stall, passing by Xiuying, who was seriously scratching her head. She knew these two pink ponies were sexual in nature, but that was something else. She just followed them silently. Perhaps some racing would help her erase what she saw from her memory.
Stardust also followed them to return to the house. On her way out, she told her helper to get off her butt.
"Cassy, now that you are done playing, I want you to go back to the house. I need you to prepare their food."
What Stardust had not noticed before leaving was that Cassy's bridle was attached to the wall ring. With her hands fastened to her waist, there was no way she would be able to go anywhere anytime soon. She just let herself fall back in the hay. At some point, someone would probably notice she was missing and come back to free her.
"Aaah! You are going so fast!"
"It's so scary!"
The good news was that Ivory had learned how to use the racing gears very quickly, which was not too surprising since she was also a ponygirl who dressed up by herself every single day, but the less good news was that she wasn't remotely used or comfortable with the inhuman speed they were going on the track.
Ivory's role was supposed to be simple. Sit in the cart, learn to make the ponies go left and right, and that was it. As Penny explained, there would be no race management, no strategy, no nothing. Perhaps small words of encouragement would be good as well. But right now, the only thing that came out of Ivory's mouth was terror.
The white show pony knew that Morning Star and Moonlight were very strong, but she did not expect their full speed to feel like this. There was no comfort as the cart rattled violently on the poorly groomed practice track, it was much harder than she thought it would be to keep balance on the small seat, and little rocks and dust flew left and right, threatening her cute face.
For a little show pony used to looking pretty, this was far from a relaxing experience.
Morning Star and Moonlight had enough of the high pitch screams, so they stopped on the side of the track to give Ivory and their ears a break.
Ivory climbed down the cart and used her wobbly legs to reach Morning Star and give her another big hug.
"Aaaah! It's going to be so hard! I didn't think it would be like that."
"Oh, right. Your bit."
Using her little fingers, Ivory untied and removed the bits from the two panting ponies.
"There you go. You did so well, Morning Star! You are amazing."
"We didn't do well at all."
"We couldn't go too fast because you were screaming too much. It hurt our ears."
"Oh, but that was scary. You were going so fast."
"We didn't even sprint."
"What? You can go even faster than this!?"
"Awww… I'm sorry. This is new to me. I didn't know it was going to be this hard."
"Sophie also gives us water when we take breaks."
"Oh, right! Let's go to the house then. I'll give you a glass."
"Sophie usually has a bucket with a ladle."
No, Ivory wasn't Sophie, far from it. Racing ponies had nothing in common with those delicate show ponies who refreshed their makeup between two acts. Sure, what these colorful women did was impressive during a show, but they were not powerful machines like Moonlight and Morning Star. Racers needed to be treated very differently to give them the best chances to express their skills.
But here and now, things didn't seem too promising. What was Penny's plan exactly? The older woman had extensive experience of the racing pony world, so why did she think it was a good idea to ask Ivory to be their driver for the Triple Crown? She could have selected any other drivers from the amateur class, one who, at least, wouldn't have been terrified to sit on a racing cart. If the goal were not to use any strategy, it would simply have been a matter of instructing the driver not to implement one.
Moonlight was incredibly silent as if she didn't share her teammate's distress. Her racing knowledge was poor, but she could still clearly see the skill difference between Sophie and Ivory. That said, her recent adventure with Tiantang in the desert had changed something inside her. Everything seemed possible. To her, if Penny had decided to take that route, who was she to argue with someone possessing such vast experience.
Additionally, the plan was simple. Run, sprint, and win. Repeat three times and save Penny's stable. The young girl liked that language. There was no obscure discussion about what it meant to be a ponygirl, no discussion about race management, no discussion about racing psychology that could be used against their opponents.
Run, sprint, and win. Simple and efficient. She could do these three things.
Moonlight nudged Morning Star with her elbow.
"Let's try again. I don't need water."
"Okay. But Ivory will scream again. I can't focus."
"It's okay. I have a plan for that."
"What is it? I don't think we can do anything about it."
"We will run until she stops screaming."
"Oh? That might work."
Yes. Sometimes, the most idiotic and straightforward ideas were the best.
"Holy crap, You two, perverts, are good."
"Brittany trained us well."
"I see that, Hemlock. She might be a moron, but she obviously knows a thing or two about training."
"Xiuying. We love Brittany. She is not a moron. It makes her sad when people call her that. That's why she isn't nice to you."
"Alright, alright. I'm sorry. Give me your other foot now."
"Brittany doesn't remove my boots before my harness."
"Well, I'm not her. So give me your foot."
The habits of a ponygirl were not easy to break. During all their career, Hemlock and Nightshade have been used to a very specific routine, and for the first time, they faced a different one. Something as simple as the order they took their gears off was enough to cause anxiety.
Hemlock moved her foot forward and placed it in Xiuying's hands. She couldn't help herself but look sideways. It felt as if she was betraying her real trainer, who had spent years getting her to that point in life.
"Would you relax, Hemlock? I'm not here to take over. I'm here to help you."
"I think you two have a serious chance to win the triple crown."
"Well, you do not lack self-confidence. That's good."
"Are you going to make us lose?"
"Uh? Why would you say such a mean thing?"
"You are friends with Penny's stable. You want them to win."
Xiu looked up at Hemlock, who was still looking away, before returning her attention to the boot she was unlacing.
"Look, Hemlock. Penny called me to replace Sophie. I declined because Stardust offered me more money. I'm a professional. I don't let my emotions get in the way of my job."
"You… you did?"
"Yes. I did. And honestly, I would have declined Penny's offer anyway. I have a reputation to preserve as well. Morning Star and Moonlight have a great potential to win, but they also have a great potential to fail miserably. The last thing I want is to get labeled as the worst driver in Triple Crown history."
"But, isn't Moonlight your ponygirl? You lent her to Penny. Shouldn't you support her?"
"Yes, and I believe in her and wish her the very best. She has insane potential. She could beat us if she decides that she wants to. But right now, and maybe I'm wrong, I believe that you and Nightshade are the best and most consistent team out there."
"You… you do?"
"Yes, and I'll do my darn best to push you beyond your limits. And if I hear you whine about it, I swear, I'll push you even harder."
"I never whine, or else Brittany punishes us."
"Hehe. So, are you willing to work with me and try to win this thing?"
"Yes. But you laced my boots wrong. Brittany does it better."
"Hahaha. That's fine. I can accept criticism."
"What did you do to her?"
"We made her stop screaming."
"Yes, but she is all green now."
Penny applied a damp cloth to Ivory's forehead after Morning Star laid her limp body down on the bed. The white show pony didn't look so good. Her eyes were vitreous, and her skin tone was even paler than usual.
Moonlight's plan had worked great. They ran hard for so long and sprinted so fast that the cart drifted sideways more than once. Poor Ivory sitting in it had screamed her lungs out, but she never managed to make them stop. After a while, she stopped being afraid and just got sick instead, which was a step forward. At least she was no longer a distraction, and that had allowed the ponies to get an excellent workout out of this exercise.
Not used to operating without a driver, and with Ivory unable to move anymore, Morning Star decided to ride all the way from the training track to the house, hoping Penny would notice them and provide assistance, which she did.
"Ivory? Are you okay?"
"… So… So fast… So scary."
"I know. Morning Star and Moonlight are running very fast. But we need you."
"… I don't knooow, Penny! I never thought it would be like this. Watching races from the stands was nothing like this."
"Yes. You can only appreciate the speed when you are sitting in the cart they pull. But you'll get used to it."
"Why… Why me?"
"The ponies trust you, and I have no money to hire a competent driver. All I'm asking you to do is to sit in the cart and encourage them. Can you do that for me until Sophie comes back?"
"… I… I'll try… but… can they run slower?"
"We will have three days before the first Triple Crown race. You'll get used to it."
Ivory covered her face with the pillow. Three days didn't seem like a lot of time.