Deferment (Day 472) - Different format
- It’s the summer sun Celebration again. The situation couldn’t be any more different around here though. Many of the surrounding states and bits of Canada have had much of their population transformed. Probably around 85% in those regions. Battles have been relatively few. We’ve hit some of the larger population centers with bombs. Many of the other smaller towns agree to surrender. Not so much out of fear of any sort of battle but pity for those who’ve already lost. It’s not just Equestrians that’ll die out but a sizable number of ex-humans now. It’s a lot harder to condemn someone to death when its someone that you know.
- Not to say there aren’t any perks to giving yourself up. When you surrender you get the benefit of having ponies watch over your transformation. It’s not quite as comfy as it was back at camp, quickness is an issue due to volume, but it’s better than being bombed. You get to influence the process more as well. The bombs favor Earth Ponies over the other two. Hard to get an exact number but it’s probably close to 50/25/25. I guess it’s a necessary evil at this point. Everyone who picks goes for one of the other two. There would be a problematic dearth of Earth Ponies who are really needed to help grow the food. Our tech has been knocked out for the most part we need every advantage we can get.
- Of course those that want to remain human don’t have a terribly hard time avoiding it. As long as you hide well enough or keep moving its hard to track down small groups. Quite a few are still drifting around. Human settlements are unlikely to rat them out. We’re not concerned in tracking down every human. They’re pretty useful to the settlements as well, nice to have a pair of hands every now and then I suppose. I’m guessing most have settled down for the winter.
- It’s not quite as empty as it was last year during the Celebration. We are at war after all. Many of the non guard ponies have left but there’s still a few stragglers. I know Rarity stayed behind though she’ll be watching the sunrise when its closer to the right time. I’ll actually try to make it too. Won’t be quite the same view as they’re getting in Canterlot but still worth the trip I guess. I don’t think I’ve seen an Equestrian sunrise before.
- Though considering the weather I don’t know if I’m going to make it. I really do hate the cold. It’s so cold. Not only that but it’s snowing and seems to be getting worse and worse. Yeah we have more Pegasai now, but winter management doesn’t seem to be a high priority. I suppose the cold is even worse when you hundreds of feet in the air trying to move frozen clouds around. Still I’ve made it pretty far. Only a mile or two to go until I reach the edge of town. Road is still in pretty good condition even though it’s under half a foot of snow. Guess no traffic means less wear and tear.
- Suppose I should have gotten a pair of skis or something at some point. Then again I never expected to receive a message like I did. It was mid afternoon yesterday when a Pegasai from the town delivered a letter to me. I mean I occasionally head out there but I wouldn’t say I know any of them all that well. Maybe it’s not such a good idea after all. Following a strange note that told me to come to a random building in town and to come alone would normally be considered a stupid maneuver. However there was something that told me it was safe.
- The town is actually doing really well. Its proximity to the portal means it gets a lot of support. Give it a year or two more and it’ll be a regular Equestrian town, aside from the buildings of course. Those will probably last a lot longer. No reason to build new homes when the old human buildings are still mostly serviceable. Still there’s a bit of a rift between them and the Camp. That kind of trust lost can’t really be bought back. They’ve been blindsided more than anyone.
- Finally reached the edge of town. I didn’t realize it earlier but I worked up more of a sweat than I should have. Dampness precludes death in cold weather or something like that. I don’t remember the exact phrase. Cold + Wet = Hypothermia. There that works. I hope there’s a fire wherever I’m going. A lot of the families in town are actually sharing houses for the winter. That way it’s a lot easier to provide enough heat for everyone. I suppose that sounds kind of cozy actually. We didn’t really get that kind of closeness before the war.
- I pass by the mall, long abandoned, on the way to my destination. I think back to Willow’s birthday that we celebrated over a year ago. I kind of wish things could have stayed that way. Where my greatest concern was to bring our two cultures a little closer together. Now it’s more fighting for the survival of Equestrians and the transformation of humanity. Maybe there’s a sport shop in there I could get some skis from. I’m sure nobody would miss them anymore. Feet are a rarity in this region. Not much for light in there though. Without the place being heated snow has covered up the skylights.
- I reach the house a few blocks from the old elementary school in town and knock on the door. I notice some movement from the windows alongside the house before I hear a mixture of hoofsteps and footsteps on the other side of the door. A female pegasai opens the door and quickly hurries me in taking a quick glance around outside before closing the door behind me.
- A few ponies were clustered around a fireplace. A younger colt was reading a book underneath what appeared to be a blanket/couch cushion fort while a unicorn filly seemed to be playing with the embers of the fire. I glanced around the room looking for the source of the footsteps I could I had sworn I heard earlier.
- The pegasai latches the door behind me before calling out “All clear” to the room. I hear the footsteps again this time from deeper in the house. Before I know it a heavily bearded man walks into the room and waves to me. “Hey man. Good to see you. Been a long time hasn’t it?”
- “Two years since we last talked, at least four since it was in persion. That was when you came back home to see your buddy off join the army if I remember right.” I mused as I reflexively stroked my chin. His beard was even more unruly than the last time I saw it. Made me a little itchy just looking at it. “Kind of surprised you didn’t sneak up and smack me in the back like you used to.”
- “Might have, but you’re wearing all that padding. You look half frozen. You should sit by the fire. The Jamesons have been nice enough to let us crash here. I’m sure they won’t mind.”
- The Pegasai who had locked the door moments before had already moved back closer to the fire by her son in his couch fort. “Of course it’s not a problem. Issac and his friends have been such a help since they got here. Not to mention the tea leaves they brought us. I had almost given up on getting some real strong tea since well… you know.”
- I nodded. Most people had accepted it but it still wasn’t a subject ponies liked talking about. Dealing with it and accepting it are two different things. I moved over to meet my old friend on the couch. The cushions weren’t there, they were part of the fort, but it was still a bit better than the floor and warmer. I peeled out of the top layer of my winter clothes and just basked in the heat of the fire for a moment.
- “So how did you manage to find me? I didn’t think anyone knew I was out here. Nobody who would recognize from before me anyway.”
- “We got lucky. I guess you know how things went in Detroit. One day the town wakes up and everyone is a Pony. We were just on the edge of it.”
- Detroit was pretty closely packed. It had been decided that it would be best to bomb the city. Safer for everyone that way. Something else was odd about his statement though. “We?”
- “Yeah. There’s a couple of us here. We grabbed what we could and got out of there before it got any worse. Headed north until we crossed into Canada. We hid out there for a few months. Found an abandoned museum that was really comfy actually.”
- “A museum? That actually wouldn’t be too bad I guess.”
- “It wasn’t. We only got to stay about 2 months before ‘they’ showed up again. The town decided to surrender. One of us stayed behind there. The rest of us didn’t like the idea. We didn’t know that the EMP’s were a constant thing at that point. We thought the Russians would nuke them or something.”
- I nodded as I listened along. As time went on a lot of the secrets got out either through sympathizers or transformees who had a change of heart sneaking back across. We didn’t know how far the word had spread exactly but many people knew about the fact that it was Equestria that shut down the worlds electronic capability.
- “So we walked west along the border for a while till we reached the UP. Most of the people already had been transformed. Still, we ran into a few people every now and then. Most of ‘em had managed to hide or be in the right place at the wrong time. Most were heading further north though. They figured the population up there was sparse enough nobody would come looking. We’re actually thinking about doing the same when its spring. I was hoping to catch you down here. Though I would’ve thought I’d need to go a few towns further.”
- “About that…” I started. It was getting to the uncomfortable point I knew we’d reach. The elephant/Ursa in the living room.
- “Original plan was to just trade a little and move through this town.” He interrupted me before I could start. “A little close for comfort and all. Got a little surprise when your name came up though. I asked Mr. Jameson if any other Humans had come through lately. Said you were the only one. So I sent the letter. So how about you. My plan was to get in touch with pony you and see if you wanted to come with us. You’re looking pretty human though, what’s your story?”
- “What have you heard?” I responded a little nervously. Usually Isaac was pretty easygoing but there was a hint of coldness in his last question.
- “I’ve heard there’s a human who’s been working with the ponies since the beginning.”
- “It’s not like that.”
- “Oh? So you haven’t been working with them?”
- “Well no, I have, but none of us saw this coming.” I said gesturing to the ponies in the room. ”Not even most of the Equestrians.” The mother had looked up. I wasn’t sure if she had noticed I was referring to them or had she been eavesdropping longer.
- “So then what?” Issac pressed.
- “What do you mean?”
- “After the attack. You must have known what was going on then.”
- “Well yeah. But they’re not all bad you know and I couldn’t just leave them like that. And now there’s so many of us involved too. It’s just. Impossible I guess.”
- He stared at the fire for a bit, likely thinking over my answer. It probably didn’t do him any good. I’ve spent the past 9 months thinking about it and still haven’t reached any satisfying conclusions. “So what are you doing now?” he asked.
- “I don’t know. Helping I guess. I just want this to be over, you know. Or go back to how it was. It was good when we were just transforming people who wanted it.”
- “You were part of that too?”
- “Yeah. Those people wanted it though. They’re mostly happy with the change. Gave them a fresh start and all. Some are pretty upset about what’s going on here though.”
- “They’re in Equestria, on the other side then?”
- “So what you go and spy on cities or…”
- “No it’s not like that.” I interrupt him. “It more like I go in and talk or act as a…”
- There’s a knock on the door.
- The pony from before jumped up and ran to the window before peering through the tiny gap in the curtains. Isaac had already bolted for the hall. The pegasai takes a step back before mouthing to me something I can’t quite understand. Gesture wildly over at the doorway. I’m not quite sure what they want but I head to the door and try to peek out the upper window before realizing that Rarity can see me just as well through it as I can see her.
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