Really Useful Engineers
Based on "Stop Thief!" "Mind That Bike," "Fish," and "Triple Header"
One day, Thomas and Twilight Sparkle stood at the top station in Ffarquhar. They had run their engine round their usual coaches after the morning journey and they, Annie, and Clarabel were enjoying a nice, short rest before the run back down the valley. The passengers knew that the train had arrived early, so they didn't mind the extra wait.
While Thomas stood beside the engine's cab, talking to the conductor, Twilight got a call from her cellphone.
Twilight: Hello? *beaming* Shining Armor??? Hi, B.B.B.F.F.! How's Cadence? How are you two doing together? *pause* Really? What kind of surprise? No, wait. *giggling* Wouldn't want you to spoil it for me. Besides, I'm due to leave Ffarquhar in about a half hour. *pause* Okay. When the day's work is done. See you later, Shining Armor.
No sooner had Twilight hung up than she overheard the conductor telling Thomas some startling news.
Conductor: I've just received word that the Stationmaster's house was robbed last night.
Twilight: *startled* Huh?
Thomas: Really? I never knew he had anything worth stealing. What did they take?
Conductor: You'd be surprised. The Stationmaster has won some cups for gardening. First place. Five years in a row. Every single one snatched, and the scoundrels had the cheek to pinch his car to smuggle them away in!
Thomas: *gasp* Not that new one he's so proud of?
Conductor: *nodding grimly* Cost him about 10,000 pounds. One might mistake it for Sir Topham Hatt's own car. They're of the same design.
Twilight: We don't get many burglaries in Sodor nowadays. It's such a small island, I guess that most just abide by the law.
Thomas: I wish we could teach those thieves a lesson.
At that moment, the signal rose to show that the line was clear. Twilight and Twilight got in the cab, the Conductor blew his whistle, waved his green flag and got into the rear coach, and off they went.
By the time they went through the tunnel, the train was running nicely. Road and railway were beside each other here, with only a stream between them.
Thomas: Say, Twilight. Remember when Bertie and I had that race?
Twilight: How can I not remember? I was there in the cab with you. The only reason we won was because we could go right through the hill while Bertie's bus had to climb over.
Thomas: Indeed. Good thing that bus of his couldn't fly. That would be rather ridiculous.
Twilight: *giggling* You'd have to get it to transform into a plane.
A flash of color caught Thomas's eye.
Thomas: What the?
He looked along the road ahead and saw a familiar looking red shape.
Thomas: Isn't that the Stationmaster's car?
Twilight: Oh, Thomas. Lots of cars look like that.
But just to be sure, Twilight opened the regulator and the train began to draw level. She wanted a good look.
Twilight: So far, I see a man in there... and a dog.
And she was right. At the steering wheel was a man wearing a long blue duster overcoat, long red gloves, a large striped hat with driver's goggles attached, and a handlebar mustache. Beside him sat a canine who appeared to be of mixed breed: bloodhound, pointer, Airedale, and hunting dog.
Twilight couldn't tell what the driver was saying, but from what she could tell on his expression, it was sinister.
Dick Dastardly: *cackling evilly* This is the most despicable, diabolical scheme I've come up with yet! Even though I may not win any trophies in the races, I can still have some stolen cups to compensate for these shortcomings. And with the Mean Machine waiting in the mainland, no one will suspect us. Eh, Muttley?
Muttley: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. *snickering wheezily*
Dick Dastardly: We've got plenty of fuel to reach the next ship at Brendam. I'll wager the coppers think we're heading the quickest way via Knapford by now. *cackling again*
Just then, the fiend known as Dick Dastardly spotted the train running adjacent to the road.
Dastardly: Stick your head out the window, Muttley. And be sure to stick your tongue out. That should help throw the locals off our tail.
Muttley: *grumbling to himself* Sassafrassarassum Rick Rastardly...
As Muttley did as he was instructed, Dastardly increased the throttle on the car.
Twilight: That's the car alright, Thomas, and those two must be the thieves.
Thomas: Quick! We've gotta catch them!
Twilight: But how? They'll be gone long before Haldenbeck and my cellphone's out of power, so we can't call for help.
Thomas: Mine too. We should've recharged them last night...
Just as Thomas was about to give up, an idea flew into his head.
Thomas: A signalbox's up ahead! If we write a message in some container and throw it, the signalman can call the police.
Twilight: Great idea. *pulling out a pencil and paper from her backpack* Luckily, I've brought these along.
Thomas: And I've got this empty soda bottle to put the message in.
Twilight: Actually, Thomas, my lunchbox's empty at the moment and since it's much harder to break than a glass bottle...
Thomas: Brilliant! Now let's get to work.
So Twilight wrote out a message and put it in the lunchbox. Drawing ahead of the car, Thomas blew the engine's whistle to get the signalman's attention. They slowed so that Twilight could throw the lunchbox up to him.
By then, the stolen car had gone well ahead, and Twilight and Thomas didn't see it again. But the signalman immediately telephoned police headquarters.
Later, ten miles farther down the road, the fortunes of Dastardly and Muttley were about to change.
Dastardly: We're nearing Elsbridge. Might as well find a good place to stop for lunch. And who knows, Muttley? They might even offer you a bone.
Muttley: *excitedly* Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
As they rounded a bend, however, they suddenly saw something blocking the road ahead.
Dastardly: Drat! It's the bobbies!
Muttley quickly jumped into the backseat, hiding from plain sight.
Dastardly: Calm down, you air-headed Airedale. I'll handle this...
Feeling confident,, Dastardly stopped a few feet from the roadblock and the police cars. He popped his head out the window to speak to the nearest constable.
Dastardly: *giving his most charming smile* Excuse me, officer, but is there any construction going on? I need to get to Elsbridge. It's been a busy day and I'm looking for a fine establishment to dine at. Can't go home on an empty stomach. *chuckling lightly* Unless you know an alternative location?
Constable: May I ask why you're driving the Ffarquhar Stationmaster's car, which was reported stolen?
Dastardly: *feigning surprise* Stolen? But the man who sold it to me said it was brand new. Are you sure?
Constable: If you have indeed purchased it, good sir, then let me see the papers.
Dastardly: *sweating* Papers?
Constable: The receipt.
Dastardly: Oh, yes... The receipt. *nervously laughing* Let me just check my...
*Dastardly's sentence was cut off by a muffled thud at the back of the car, making Muttley give a startled yelp. Seconds later, anther policeman—an inspector—came alongside his fellow lawman. He carried a large brown sack in his left hand.*
Inspector: *firmly* That's alright, Mr. Dastardly. We have all the confirmation we need right here.
Dastardly: *gulp* Have... have you been watching my races, Inspector?
Inspector: More than I care to admit. And I'm not here to ask for your autograph. I hereby arrest you and your dog on the charge of burglary, littering the highway, and obstructing traffic.
Dastardly: *furiously* Drat, drat, and double drat!
Muttley: Sassafrassarassum fuzz...
Inspector: *writing down in his notebook* I think I'll add "grumbling at an officer" to the list of charge.
Muttley: *giving his usual wheezy snicker*
That afternoon, Sir Topham Hatt traveled in the front coach of Thomas' train to Ffarquhar. As soon as he arrived, he and the Stationmaster climbed onto a porter's cart. They told the passengers the entire story, and the Stationmaster thanked Thomas and Twilight for their quick action.
Stationmaster: I don't know what I would've done if you two hadn't recognized my car. The wife is sure to invite you all to dinner for this. *chuckling* So would I, if I'm honest.
Twilight: *modestly* Actually, Mr. Stationmaster, Thomas spotted the car before me. And it was his idea to get that message to the signalman. He deserves most of the credit, if not all.
Thomas: Now don't be so humble, Twilight. You're the one who suggested that we use the lunchbox.
Twilight: *muttering under her breath* Which the signalman hasn't returned to me yet...
When the story was finished, the passengers cheered loudly, and applauded even more when they heard that the Stationmaster's gardening cups had been found undamaged. Indeed, the cups were being presented on the cart for everyone to see.
Sir Topham Hatt held up a hand for silence.
Sir Topham Hatt: Long ago, Thomas Billinton proved himself an invaluable asset to the North Western Railway. Today, I am proud to say that he has continued that legacy and that he and his intern Twilight Sparkle are Really Useful indeed.
The crowd gave the heroes of the day three cheers.
While Thomas was lost in the overwhelming numbers of lady admirers, Twilight slipped away unnoticed. Unlike Rainbow Dash, James, and Gordon, she wasn't used to being in the spotlight. No doubt the main line engineers would be jealous when they received the news.
As she made her way to the cab of the engine, she met up with Song Cue, who had come to congratulate her too.
Song Cue: Oh, well done, Twil! I'm so proud of you for managing to catch those thieves.
Twilight: Oh it was nothing, Song Cue. It was actually Thomas who saw the car before me and came up with the idea. He deserves the credit more.
Song Cue: But you still took part in the chase and caught the thieves. I wish I could do something as heroic as that.
Just then, they spotted a car driving into the station.
It was a dark purple Rolls Royce Phantom V model with white trimmed tires, and golden fittings. On each of the front doors was a blue crystal heart.
Excited, Twilight and Song Cue instantly recognized whose car it was. They ran down the platform over to the parking lot even before the chauffeur let his employers out.
Twilight: Shining Armor! Cadence!
Sure enough, it was Shining Armor and his wife, Princess Cadence. They reached out and pulled Twilight into a long, loving embrace.
Song Cue: Oh, Cadence! *joins the hug* Hi, Shining.
Shining Armor: Hey, girls. Good to see you.
Cadence: How's my favorite student and sister-in-law?
Twilight: We're both doing good. What are you doing here? I thought we were going to meet after work.
Cadence: We heard about what happened and decided to surprise you with an early visit.
Song Cue: That was my reason too. You did read the text I sent earlier, right?
Twilight: I've been rather busy and didn't check.
Shining Armor: We're all so proud of you, sis...
Twilight: *blushing* Thomas' the the real hero. I'm just a regular old intern...
Cadence: *kindly* You are anything but a regular old intern, Twilight.
Song Cue: Say, Cadence, you and Shining phoned me and presumably Twilight about a surprise.
Twilight: Yeah. What is it?
Shining Armor: Well... there's somebody we want you to meet.
Twilight: *confused* Huh? Who? Do I know them?
Cadence: I think you'll find whoever our someone is... in here.
With a warm smile, Cadence placed a hand on her belly.
Song Cue started jumping up and down.
Song Cue:*excited* Oh my gosh! You're going to be parents?! What is it? Boy or girl? What are you going to name it? Have you got a room ready for it?
Shining Armor: We don't know if it's a boy or girl yet. We're hoping to find out soon. *to Twilight* Yep. This someone's dying to meet you... Aunt Twilight.
It took a few seconds and a little effort for Twilight to get these very words out.
Twilight: *dumbfounded* You mean... you're going to have a... baby?