PPPP, Thread #1: Purple Pony's Puzzling Pregnancy

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  1. >You are Twilight Sparkle, librarian, royal attaché, and magical savant.
  2. >Spread out in front of you are dozens of sheets of paper, covered in numbers, calculations, scribbled notes, and arcane symbols representing magical concepts.
  3. >To the laypony, it's just random scribbles, but you can see the elegance and utility behind it, like another kind of math.
  4. >"Are you sure this is safe?" asks Spike, bringing you a plate of pickle slices. "I mean, you–"
  5. >You groan and turn around.
  6. "I'm what, Spike? Pregnant? Did you think after almost nine months I'd just forgotten?"
  7. >Indeed, your daughter, 34 weeks old by your closest guess, lay curled up snugly in your uterine embrace. She stirs slightly, possibly sensing your agitation.
  8. >Spike's eyes widen at your response. "I was just worried about you, and the foal. I wouldn't want to see either of you get hurt!"
  9. >You sigh, and force a smile.
  10. "I'm sorry, Spike; I didn't mean to snap at you. I'm just a little tense from my new studies."
  11. >"I'm sure the hormones aren't helping either." mutters Spike.
  12. "What was that?"
  13. >Spike jumps slightly. "Uh, nothing!"
  14. >You flick some beads on your abacus, making a few final adjustments, and the foal within you stretches, possibly yawning.
  15. "Celestia moved me to the next level of my studies because she thought I could handle it. I don't want to let her down!"
  16. >Spike sighs and tentatively approaches you. "She just wants you to start writing new spells instead of getting then all from old books. You've already proven yourself, Twilight!"
  17. >You glance up to the most recent addition to your award shelf, the 1009 Neighbel Prize in Magicology, and shake your head.
  18. "That doesn't count, Spike. I added one line to a mostly-completed spell, and it wasn't even a useful one! What good is a spell that only works on the Keepers of the Elements?"
  19. >Spike rubs his forehead with the heel of his hand. "We've been over this before. You earned that award, Twilight! You finished a spell that's gone unfinished for thousands of years!"
  20. >You groan and set your pencil down.
  21. "And how many of those years was it sitting forgotten in some dusty old archive? It's not like it was that hard to finish; the Magic of Friendship is common knowledge in Equestria!"
  22. >Your daughter rolls over inside you, shifting to a new position.
  23. >Spike persists. "You're the smartest, most magical unicorn I know. I'm sure Princess Celestia would understand if you took it easy, at least until your foal is born!"
  24. >You shake your head.
  25. "This isn't just about Celestia, Spike! As a scientist, it's my duty to expand the collective knowledge of ponydom."
  26. >Spike raises a claw to object. "But you'r–"
  27. "For the last time, Spike, science isn't about the subject matter; it's about how you approach the subject matter!"
  28. >You lower your voice. Ugh, Spike can be so thick-headded sometimes!
  29. >"Plus, I'm also doing it for myself; it's something that's rewarding, and kinda fun!"
  30. >Spike raises an eyebrow. "You think math is fun too. You're weird, Twilight."
  31. >There's a kick from your foal that causes a small ripple in your taut belly. You stick your tongue out at Spike.
  32. "Aw, thanks! You're so sweet."
  33. >You grab him in your magic and rub his cheeks together, before setting him down again.
  34. "Now, could you give me some concentration space? I just finished the spell, and I'm ready to cast it."
  35. >Spike nods and backs away. "Okay, if you're sure."
  36. >You nod and turn back to your notes, giving them a final skim. Standing up, you light your horn, using your internal biomagical field, channeled through the lavender-tinted alicorn of your horn, to arrange the magikons (a boson that acts as a force-carrier for the amicomagical force) into a novel configuration. If your calculations are corre– Ow!
  37. >You rub your forehead. Okay, the headache is probably a bad sign. You decide to abort the spell and try ag–
  38. >Ow, ow, ow! The spell isn't stopping, and the headache is only getting worse.
  39. >You put your hoof to your forehead, just beneath the base of your horn.
  40. >You fall out of your chair and collapse onto the floor, clutching at your head, breathing heavily, vaguely aware of a very concerned dragon rushing towards you.
  41. >If you were thinking straight at the moment, your last thought before blacking out would likely be one of embarrassment, and anticipating an "I told you so!" from your assistant.
  42. >However, at the moment, your only thought, if it could even be called one, would, if put into words, be something along the lines of…
  45. *===*===*===*
  47. >You come to slowly, and distantly hear Spike's voice calling to you.
  48. >"Twilight… okay? … Please … the … fell and…"
  49. >You blink a few times, and slowly come to your senses. You're laying on the couch in your basement study, with an ice pack around the base of your horn and a blanket draped over you.
  50. >Just as you come to, there's a sudden flurry of activity in your womb, causing you to double over.
  51. >Your foal is kicking wildly in every direction, much more so than you're used to.
  52. >"What's wrong‽" asks Spike, resting a hand on your roiling belly. The foal seems to settle down from the pressure of his palm, almost instantly in fact. There's a small kick against it, and then nothing.
  53. >You pant, catching the breath your daughter had knocked out of you.
  54. "I'm… fine. The spell… bad headache."
  55. >You take a deep breath.
  56. "And then when I woke up, Glimmer started kicking up a storm."
  57. >Spike nods. "Well, you should probably see a doctor just in case, and hold off on the experimental magic for a while."
  58. >You nod back, fighting to suppress a blush.
  59. "Will do, Spike."
  60. >Just then, your filly starts kicking again, more rhythmically this time.
  61. >Kick.
  62. >Kick.
  63. >Kick kick.
  64. >Kick kick kick.
  65. >Kick kick kick kick kick.
  66. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  67. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  70. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  71. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  72. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  73. >You groan, and rub your head, and then your belly.
  74. >"Do you want to lie down for a bit?" Spike asks? "I mean, you don't look so good."
  75. >You take a deep breath.
  76. "First of all, I'm very good. I don't feel [i]well[/i]. Second of all, I think I'll take a walk, actually. Glimmer seems pretty restless, the rhythmic motion might calm her down, and the fresh air should help me clear my head."
  77. >Spike nods, and helps you get onto your hooves. "Okay, but I'm taking you to a doctor the next time you pass out like that."
  78. >You chuckle and give Spike an affectionate noogie.
  79. "Okay, it's a deal."
  80. >Out of habit, you grab your saddlebags and swing them over your back.
  81. >You start to light your horn, but think better of it and open the front door with your mouth.
  82. >"So, where to?" asks Spike.
  83. >You take a deep breath of the fresh spring air, and pause to think.
  84. "I was just going to meander aimlessly, but I've got a craving for strawberry shortcake."
  85. >Spike chuckles. "I'm not sure that counts as a craving, Twi. You've always loved strawberry shortcake."
  86. >You blush.
  87. "Okay, sure. But it's a pregnancy craving this time; I promise!"
  88. >Spike rolls his eyes. "Okay, sure. I guess you're lucky it's not one of those weird cravings."
  89. >You nod.
  90. "Mm-hmm. It's nice to crave something I already liked for a change. Let's go."
  91. >You start walking, taking the scenic route to enjoy the feeling of the sun shining on your coat after hours of working in the basement.
  92. >The foal starts kicking again, albeit more slowly.
  93. >Kick. Kick.
  94. >"So, what was the spell you were working on anyway?" Spike asks, trying to make small talk.
  95. >Kick. Kick. Kick.
  96. >You blush, not wanting to seem like a braggart.
  97. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  98. "Well, it's sort of a 'what-if' spell; it lets you look into possible worlds."
  99. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  100. "So if you want to know what Equestria would look like if Nightmare Moon had won, it sort of lets you 'see' that alternate reality."
  101. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  102. >"Wow, that's amazing!" Spike exclaims. "So I could see what my life would be like a pony, or if Rarity were a dragon‽"
  103. >You nod and try to be modest.
  104. "Yeah, but it's not [i]that[/i] big a deal, Spike."
  105. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  106. "I just took some principles that are used in spells for looking into the past, or predicting possible futures, and applied them to the fifth dimension instead of the fourth."
  107. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  108. >Spike just gives you the nod and blank stare he always gives you when he knows it's polite to just pretend to understand (and when he wants to avoid a long, enthusiastic explanation of something complicated he doesn't really care about.
  109. "And before you ask, that's not a spell that should be harmful to cast while pregnant. You don't, like, physically teleport to the other dimension and leave the fetus
  110.   behind; it's entirely mental."
  111. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  112. >"Uh-huh." Spike doesn't seem entirely convinced, but he decides not to press the issue. "So… has the walk helped at all? Are you feeling better?"
  113. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  114. "Well, I guess? The headache's gone, and I feel okay, but Glimmer hasn't calmed down. If anything, she just seems more insistent.
  115. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  116. >"Well, do you think something's wrong?" he asks, half out of concern and half as an attempt to brainstorm.
  119. >You shrug and pick up the pace.
  120. "I honestly don't know."
  121. >You turn the corner to see the familiar sight of Sugarcube Corner.
  122. >"Is there a spell you could use to find out, like a checkup spell?" he asks, still spitballing.
  123. >You shake your head.
  124. "I don't know much medicinal magic, especially not any fetal diagnostic spells. And I'm not so sure that'd be a good idea even if magic [i]hadn't[/i] started this mess; I'd rather leave that to the professionals."
  125. >Spike sighs in disappointment as you swing the bottom of the stable doors open and walk inside, smiling at the pink party pony pronking behind the counter.
  126. >"Hey, Twilight! Another pregnancy craving?"
  127. >You nod.
  128. "Yeah, could I get a strawberry shortcake?"
  129. >Pinkie raises an eyebrow, and then her eyes widen in comprehension.
  130. >"Oh, right, one strawberry shortcake coming right up for your 'craving'." You think you see her wink at you.
  131. "It's really a craving, Pinkie! It's not just an excuse to eat strawberry shortcake!"
  132. >Pinkie raises her other eyebrow this time. "Why would you need an excuse to eat strawberry shortcake? It's delicious!" She pauses. "Is something wrong?"
  133. "Huh? Why do you ask that?"
  134. >Pinkie let's out a gigglesnort. "My special talent is making others happy. Did you think I wouldn't notice when one of my five bestest friends had something on her mind? Just spill the beans already!"
  135. >Pinkie's cheer is contagious and you can't help but smile back.
  136. "It's a long story, but I casted a new spell and now Glimmer is acting funny."
  137. >Pinkie gasps and crouches behind the counter. Though it goes all the way to the floor, she somehow seems to climb under it, popping out on her back underneath you.
  138. >"Aw, is widdle Gwimmy getting into twouble?" she asks in a singsong babytalk voice.
  139. >Glimmer stirs again and you feel three sharp, quick kicks from inside your womb.
  140. >Pinkie giggles. "Aww, she likes me! I can't wait to meet her."
  141. >There are three more kicks, these firmer, and longer.
  142. >You're grateful that the patronage of Sugarcube Corner is used to Pinkie's antics, or else this would be very awkward.
  143. >You chuckle politely back at her.
  144. "I was thinking of going to the doctor's, just for a checkup. I want to make sure everything's alright."
  145. >You feel three more of the sharp, quick kicks.
  146. >Pinkie springs out from underneath you and grabs a paper bag, seemingly from thin air.
  147. >"She feels strong and healthy to me! Maybe she's just cramped and wants out." She giggles at herself. "Not that I'd want out. Can you imagine how cozy it must be in there?"
  148. >You toss her a few bits and take the bag in your mouth, carrying it to the nearest table.
  149. >Spike is the first to talk. "But I thought you said y–
  150. "Yeff, putt…"
  151. >You swallow your current bite of shortcake before continuing.
  152. "Yes, but that was before the walk didn't work."
  153. >You take another bite.
  154. "I just want to be safe is all. I don't to find something out too late."
  155. >You scarf down the first of the shortcakes as Spike responds. "Yeah, that's what I said from the start!"
  156. >You lick your lips and burp slightly. "Mm, excuse me. Anyway, yeah, you were right, as always. I just had to clear my thoughts first."
  157. >Spike smiles. "I'm glad I could be your voice of reason."
  158. >You giggle and sop up the remaining strawberry syrup with the remaining shortcake.
  159. "Yeah, I'm glad for that too."
  162. >You swallow the last of the shortbread and lick the plate clean on your way to the counter, Spike in tow.
  163. "Thanks, that really hit the spot!"
  164. >Pinkie smiles and flicks the edge of the plate up with her nose, sending it flipping through the air to land squarely onto a tray on her back.
  165. >You smile, and the commotion in your womb starts up again.
  166. >Kick kick.
  167. >"No problemo, good luck at the doctor's!"
  168. >Glimmer stretches and turns a bit, returns to the fetal position.
  169. >You sigh.
  170. "Okay, let's go to the doctor."
  171. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  172. >Spike nods, and you start walking in the direction of the Ponyville General Hospital.
  173. >"What do you think is the matter?" Spike asks, trying to pass the time.
  174. >You shake your head.
  175. "I'd rather not start speculating, Spike. We'll have an expert opinion in a few minutes."
  176. >Kick.
  177. >"I hope she's okay."
  178. >You nod.
  179. "I'm sure she is. I'd hate to have hurt her."
  180. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  181. >Spike puts a comforting hand on your shoulder. "She can still kick, so that's a good sign."
  182. >You smile.
  183. "Yeah, that's a good point. She seems pretty strong still."
  184. >Kick kick.
  185. >"You're sure the spell wouldn't…"
  186. >You nod.
  187. "It was a mental spell, Spike. There's no way it could've harmed my unborn foal."
  188. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  189. >"Oh, okay."
  190. >There's an awkward silence for the rest of the walk.
  191. >Kick.
  192. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  193. >Kick kick.
  194. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  195. >As you walk through the hospital doors, Nurse Cottonball's eyes widen in shock.
  196. >"T-Twilight? Your next appointment isn't until Wednesday. Are you… in labor?"
  197. >You shake your head.
  198. >"No, I'm not. It's just something had come up, and I thought I'd go for a walk-in, just in case."
  199. >The nurse nods. "I see. You can never be too careful, I guess. Have a seat and I'll contact Nurse Redheart."
  200. >You nod, and pick up an old magazine. It appears to be advertising shopping opportunities in the Crystal Duchy. You skim though it disinterestedly, trying to distract yourself from the incessant, rhythmic kicking of your unborn daughter.
  201. >Kick kick kick kick.
  202. >Kick kick kick kick kick.
  203. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  204. >You groan, but she actually seems to settle down. She curls into a little ball, and…
  205. >Nope.
  206. >Kick kick kick kick.
  207. >You put a hoof on your belly, and shush the little bundle of excitement inside you.
  208. "Shhh, it's okay. Mommy's here."
  209. >Kick kick kick kick kick.
  210. >"Twilight Sparkle?" calls out a familiar voice.
  211. >You turn and grin at the pure white mare with the light pink mane.
  212. "That was fast! I just wanted a checkup."
  213. >She nods, and gestures for you to follow her back to her office. You oblige, after convincing Redheart to allow Spike to follow you back.
  214. >Kick kick.
  215. >Kick kick kick.
  216. >You arrive at your destination, and she closes the door behind you. "What seems to be the problem, Ms. Sparkle?"
  217. >You scratch the back of your neck.
  218. "Well, uh, I was experimenting with a new spell, and when I tried to cast it I had a splitting headache, and blacked out."
  219. >Kick kick kick kick kick.
  220. "After I came to, Glimmer started kicking around like crazy, and then she started kicking again, but more steadily."
  221. >A concerned look spreads across Nurse Redheart's face as she applies the gel for an ultrasound.
  222. >"Experimental magic while pregnant?"
  223. >Kick kick kick.
  224. >You sigh.
  225. "It was totally safe, purely mental magic! Forms a bubble around me to prevent outside interference, and allows me to expand my consciousness to observe parallel worlds."
  226. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  227. >Nurse Redheart nods and places the probe on your belly, rubbing it into the gel, and watches as the image slowly comes on the screen.
  228. >There's no kick in response from your foal; she just curls up yet again.
  229. >"Well, all of her vitals are within acceptable parameters. Her heart rate is slightly elevated, and I'm picking up some elevated brainwave patterns, but nothing that suggests she's in any danger."
  230. >Kick kick.
  231. >Nurse Redheart smiles. "See? She's in the prime of health. I'm not an expert on unicorn magic, but if I had to guess I'd say you overexerted yourself and collapsed, which spooked her."
  232. Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  233. >"In any case, the fetus has not been physically injured as far as I can tell, so I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about the kicking."
  234. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  235. >You bristle a bit at her calling your daughter "the fetus", but it's a medical setting, so medical terms are to be expected.
  236. >"That's something plenty of expectant mothers have to put up with, so I'm sure you can handle it." She gives you a comforting smile.
  237. >Kick kick kick kick.
  238. >You smile back. "Thanks."
  239. >Spike chuckles. "At least that's one thing you can stop worrying about."
  240. >Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick.
  241. >"While you're here, I'm going to record some of your vitals too, just for the sake of being thorough."
  242. >Kick.
  243. "Sure, go ahead."
  244. >She removes the probe and wipes away the gel before leading you about, taking your height, weight, blood pressure, and so forth.
  245. >Kick kick kick.
  246. >You're glad Glimmer is healthy, but something's still niggling at the back of the scientific part of your mind, the one that looks for patterns and can't stand to leave a question unanswered. Something's still off, and that something is agitating your daughter, so your maternal instincts are kicking I as well.
  247. >Kick kick kick kick kick.
  250. >Redheart finishes her measurements and wishes you good luck.
  251. >You wave farewell and thank her for her time, but your mind is elsewhere.
  252. >Walking home, you're now in a place you're more comfortable, correlating new data and looking for patterns.
  253. >Your mind flicks back to Redheart's comment about elevated brainwave activity.
  254. "Spike… I think Glimmer might be awake."
  255. >Kick.
  256. >A look of confusion crosses Spike's face. "Is that possible?"
  257. >You think over the books you'd read on prenatal development.
  258. "Not… not normally, no. That kind of thought doesn't come until about a month or so before or after birth, and I'm not due for two months.
  259. >You open the door to your library home and close it behind the two (well, three) of you.
  260. >Spike nods. "Then what makes you think she's awake?"
  261. >You scratch the back of your neck, trying to organize your thoughts that had led you to your first hypothesis.
  262. "Well, it seems to fit the data. What would [i]you[/i] do if you woke up inside somepony's uterus?"
  263. >Spike seems grossed out, but thinks for a moment. "I'd probably freak out!" he exclaims.
  264. >You nod.
  265. "And then what?"
  266. >Spike puts a claw on his chin and follows you into the basement.
  267. >"Find a way to let her know I'm awake?"
  268. >You nod, smiling as he catches on.
  269. >"But then why doesn't that happen all the time in the month before birth?"
  270. >You stop dead in your tracks.
  271. "Hmm, that's a good point. I guess because it's all they've ever known. Okay, so it's not a perfect hypothesis."
  272. >"Uh-huh. So why else do you believe it then?"
  273. >You reach the landing at the bottom of the stairs and switch on the laboratory lights.
  274. "Well, when Redheart mentioned heightened brain activity, I remembered back at Sugarcube Corner, I felt three kicks that were longer than the rest."
  275. >Spike nods. "So?"
  276. "Think about it, Spike. If you were trapped in somepony's womb, how would you try to get their attention, to communicate?"
  277. >Spike ponders your question. "Hmm… All I could really do would be to kick." His eyes widen. "You think Glimmer was trying to communicate with us?"
  278. >You nod.
  279. "Possibly. The longer pulses suggest it's Horse Code. If I recall correctly, three dashes are the letter O."
  280. >Spike stops in his tracks this time. "Where would she have learned Horse Code?"
  281. "Now where did I put… ah!"
  282. >You find a plug and stick it into a socket on a big printer, push some buttons on the connected device, and the printer churns to life, drawing a line like a seismograph.
  283. "Like I said, it's not a perfect hypothesis. I also don't know why she only started freaking out when I was awake; I hadn't moved yet at that point."
  284. >Spike nods. "If she's awake, could she hear us?"
  285. >You think back to your pregnancy books yet again. "Foals already recognize their mothers' voices when they're born, so she can probably hear me. I don't know about you, though."
  286. >Kick.
  287. >Spike grunts in understanding and points at the long strip of paper collecting on the floor. "So what's this?"
  288. >You press a button on the printer and it stops, the printer head returning to its standby state with a final whirrrrr, and a blade cutting off the end of the paper.
  289. "It's a kick counter, based on a spell I'd set up a couple months ago out of curiosity; remind me to explain how it works later."
  290. >Spike nods, but you know he has no intention of reminding you.
  291. "Anyway, I thought I'd use it to try to deco… Hmm, okay?"
  292. >"What?" Spike asks, glancing over at the paper.
  293. "I don't think this is Horse Code, Spike. A lot of the groupings are way too long to mean anything, and most of the kicks are the same length; Horse Code should have an even mix."
  294. >You spread out the chart in front of you.
  296. >>
  297. >> _
  298. >> :
  299. >>
  300. >> ~
  301. >>
  302. >> •
  303. >>
  304. >>
  305. >>
  307. >You tear away the first part of the strip; it's just showing normal, sporadic movement that seems to correspond to before you'd cast the spell.
  308. >There's a long gap, and then things get interesting.
  310. >> _:.::•~:–:
  311. >> ::::~••
  312. >>
  313. >>
  314. >> .
  315. >> .
  316. >> ..
  317. >> ...
  318. >> .....
  319. >> ........
  320. >> .............
  321. >> .....................
  322. >> ..................................
  323. >> .......................................................
  324. >>
  325. >>
  326. >>
  327. >> ..
  328. >> ...
  329. >> .....
  330. >> .......
  331. >> ...........
  332. >> .............
  333. >> .................
  334. >> ...................
  335. >> .......................
  336. >> .............................
  337. >>
  338. >>
  339. >>
  340. >>
  341. >> •••
  342. >> — — —
  343. >> •••
  344. >>
  345. >> ..
  346. >> ~
  347. >> .......
  348. >> .
  349. >> ........
  350. >> ..
  351. >> ........
  352. >> .
  353. >> ........
  354. >> ..
  355. >> ........
  356. >> ....
  357. >> .....
  358. >> .........
  359. >>
  360. >> ....
  361. >> .....
  362. >> ..
  363. >> ...
  364. >> .....
  365. >> ...
  366. >> ......
  367. >>
  368. >> ..
  369. >> ........
  370. >> .......
  371. >> ....
  372. >> .......
  373. >> .
  374. >> ...
  375. >> .....
  376. >>
  377. >>
  378. >>
  379. >>
  380. >>
  381. >>
  382. >>
  383. >>
  384. >>
  385. >> •
  386. >>
  387. >>
  388. >> •
  389. >>
  391. >The chart stops at this point; it's caught up to when you printed it.
  394. >You look over the pattern of kicks, mumbling to yourself as you count them out.
  395. "Let's see… 1, 1, 2, 5, 8, 13… That's the Fibboneighcci sequence!"
  396. >"The Fibbo-what-now?" asks Spike, scratching his head.
  397. "Each number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two; it's a pattern that shows up a lot in nature."
  398. >Spike nods. "Okay, so…"
  399. >You turn back to the paper.
  400. "2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17… Spike, the next set of numbers is all prime!"
  401. >"Uh-huh. So your foal is a math nerd? I guess she takes after you."
  402. >You groan and roll your eyes.
  403. "Let's see… Aha! Three dots, three dashes, three dots. That's an SOS!"
  404. >Both of Spike's eyebrows raise. "Like, a call for help?"
  405. >You nod.
  406. "It would seem so."
  407. >"And the rest?"
  408. "Hmm, 2… 7, 1, 8, 2, 8, 1, 8, 2, 8… those are just digits of the decimal representation of [i]e[/i]."
  409. >Spike raises an eyebrow. "Um, E is a…"
  410. >You roll your eyes. "[i]e[/i] is a number, Spike. An irrational one. It's the base of the natural logarithm."
  411. >"Okay, more math stuff. So why did she switch to Horse code in the middle there?"
  412. >You put a hoof under your chin and think.
  413. "Well, that was when Pinkie was under me, and those kicks were harder, so maybe she was trying to reach her."
  414. >Spike face lights up. "Does that mean she can hear more than just you? And she can understand us?"
  415. >A grin crosses your face.
  416. "That's a reasonable hypothesis. Let's test it."
  417. >Before Spike can respond, you turn to your belly.
  418. "Glimmer, can you hear me? Kick once if you can."
  419. >Kick.
  420. >Spike sees the slight ripple in your belly, and his eyes widen in shock. Yours do too.
  421. >"C–Can you hear me too?" he asks with some trepidation.
  422. >There's another, softer kick. You take a guess at its meaning.
  423. "Not as well."
  424. >Spike walks up to you, and you lie on your side to allow him to place a hand on your belly. "She… She can hear us? She knows what we're saying?"
  425. >You nod, meeting his hand with your hoof.
  426. "It would seem so."
  427. >"That's… really weird, right?"
  428. >You nod in the affirmative.
  429. "Yeah, pretty weird."
  432. >"So what do we do now?" asks Spike, clearly outside of his comfort zone?"
  433. >You fold up the chart and tuck it nearly down the side of a nearby recycling bin with your magic.
  434. "Frankly, I'm not sure; I think I'd want to consult with an expert before doing anything else."
  435. >Spike nods. "There's the mare with the, uh, the surrogacy services. Bundle Joy, right? She's had a lot of experience with pregnancy."
  436. >You shake your head.
  437. "BunBun's had experience with [i]normal[/i] pregnancies. I mean, they're bigger ones, and they happen more often, but I don't think she'd be much help with solving this rather unique puzzle."
  438. >Spike seems to understand, and his face shows part understanding, part disappointment, and part confusion.
  439. >"So who do you think [i]could[/i] help?"
  440. >You think for a moment, and turn to him.
  441. "We need an expert in magic to help us get to the bottom of this, somepony who's good with high-level experimental spells."
  442. >Spike grins and pulls a quill and parchment from wherever he stores that stuff. "A letter to Celestia? I'm way ahead of you! What should I write?"
  445. >You organize your thoughts, and start to dictate your letter.
  446. "Dear Princess Celestia,
  447. While continuing research on new forms of magic, I have accidentally awoken my unborn foal two months before she's due. Don't worry; the situation is stable and there isn't any urgent need to defend Ponyville or Equestria at large from a rampaging hyper-intelligent fetus. I am merely asking for advice on how to proceed."
  448. >A smug grin appears on Spike's face.
  449. "Yes, Spike, I do realise I already ignored your advice and that that's what got me into this situation. You didn't need to write that. Oh fine, just carry on."
  450. >You roll your eyes.
  451. "Glimmer is both capable of hearing myself and others, and understands spoken Equestrian, but is unable to speak, likely due to the fact that there's very little air in there with her. She also somehow already knows Horse Code, so further communication will likely be done in that from her side. Which would be inside, I guess."
  452. >Spike nods, faithfully taking down your words.
  453. "To summarize, my unborn child is conscious and that's made me fairly confused. Your faithful Student, Twilight Sparkle."
  454. >Spike finishes transcribing the letter with a flourish and rolls the parchment up in a red ribbon.
  455. >As you watch his dragonflame incinerate the paper and carry it out the door, you turn back to Spike.
  456. "Okay, it's sent. If anypony can help us, it's Celestia."
  457. >You take a few deep breaths and try to calm your nerves. You aren't too successful, as you still jump when Spike burps out the reply.
  458. >You grasp it in your magic and unfurl it, reading it aloud.
  460. >From the desk of HRH Princess Celestia, [i]regis diurnus[/i] of the Kingdom of Equestria
  461. >
  462. >To my dearest, most faithful student, Twilight,
  463. >
  464. >You do seem to have a knack for getting yourself into these kinds of situations, don't you? This is indeed a highly unusual circumstance; in my long life, it's a shock to come across something new.
  465. >I am glad that your gravid state has not hindered the passion with which you are pursuing this next level of your studies. However, I feel I must remind you that caution is a virtue.
  466. >I am afraid that without knowing the exact details of the spell you cast and the surrounding circumstances, any explanation I could offer you would merely be speculation. However, the fact that your foal is already acquainted with the Equestrian language and Horse Code would suggest that whatever has happened is more than simply a "premature awakening".
  467. >Are those two the only unusual aptitudes your foal is displaying? To what extent have you communicated with her? She may have information that I do not.
  468. >I am glad to hear that you are both healthy, and wish you the best of luck in your quest for answers. As far as advice for your next step, I am unsure as to what you are asking. I would simply suggest you keep this unusual set of circumstances in mind when making decisions. Perhaps this could also be an opportunity for some prenatal parental bonding?
  469. >
  470. >All the best,
  471. >Princess Celestia of Equestria
  473. >You finish reading the letter and roll it back up, stashing it with the rest.
  474. "Well, that wasn't the [i]deus ex machina[/i] I'd been hoping for, but it's a start."
  475. >"So what now?" asks Spike.
  478. >You walk towards the door and motion for Spike to follow you.
  479. "Well, I think Celestia had a good idea when she asked about what else Glimmer knew."
  480. >Spike closes the door to the lab behind you and jogs a bit to catch up. "What do you mean?"
  481. >You start up the stairs, your girth swinging slightly under you with each step.
  482. "I mean, she doesn't just know the first several prime numbers and the beginning of the Fibbonacci sequence. Those are mathematical constants; anypony could derive them."
  483. >Spike nods and looks at you blankly. "What do you mean?"
  484. >You sigh and start up the next flight of stairs. Do you really need to spell it out for him?
  485. "Those aren't culturally contingent; they're universal. But she kicked out digits of [i]e[/i] in a decimal representation. Why? Even if she were a supergenius and had rederived modern mathematics in her head, why not use hexadecimal, or dozenal, or octal?"
  486. >Spike's expression reveals that he only vaguely understands, but it's close enough.
  487. >"I guess that is a bit weird. And how did she know Horse Code?
  488. >You open the door to your bedroom, and Spike enters ahead of you.
  489. "I guess we'll have to ask her."
  490. >"Ask her?" he asks, somewhat concerned. "If she has to answer in Horse Code, that could take forever! Aren't you getting a bit sore?"
  491. >You carefully climb into bed and shut the door with your magic, rubbing a hoof across your large belly.
  492. "A little, but I have to know. Something strange is going on, and I have to figure this out!"
  493. >Spike smiles and climbs onto the bed, curling up with you such that his head rests on the right side of your belly. "I can't believe you're about to hold a conversation with somepony who hasn't even been born yet."
  494. >You chuckle in agreement, and turn to your belly.
  495. "Glimmer, can you still hear me?"
  496. >There's a kick in response.
  497. >You wince slightly and knead your belly with your right forehoof.
  498. "Could you kick somewhere else? Mommy's getting a little sore right there."
  499. >There's a shuffling feeling inside your womb as she turns, and there's another, softer kick to the left side of your womb.
  500. >You let out a satisfied sigh.
  501. "Mm, that's better. Okay, how do you know Horse Code?"
  502. >"Did you hear her?" Spike asks after some time has passed.
  503. >You feel two quick, sharp kicks inside you and a smile appears on your lips.
  504. "She was just thinking it through."
  505. >You feel two more kicks, these about three times as long.
  506. >You try to focus solely on the movement within you, not wanting to miss a single kick, tuning out any distractions.
  507. >There are two more quick kicks, and then a long one.
  508. >Spike rubs your belly almost reverently. You try to ignore it.
  509. >You lay there in silence, waiting for her to finish.
  510. >Eventually, you break the silence.
  511. "Is that it?"
  512. >Wanting to avoid an ambiguous response ("Yes" versus "E"), you quickly add an additional instruction.
  513. >"Um, two simultaneous kicks for yes, and two of those double-kicks for no."
  514. >You feel a hoof press into the left side of your womb as another presses into the right side.
  515. >Spike looks up at you expectantly. "That was it? What'd she say?"
  518. "She said 'IMU'."
  519. >"Wait, what?" asks Spike. "Isn't that a kind of bird?"
  520. >You groan and shake your head.
  521. "That's an [b]emu[/b], Spike!"
  522. >"What does it mean?"
  523. >You give it some thought. You're pretty sure it's not a word, at least not one you're familiar with.
  524. >It could be an acronym, but the seven-dot pauses between the letters imply they're separate words.
  525. "'I-M-U'… It could mean 'I am you', I suppose."
  526. >Uh-oh. You turn back to your belly.
  527. "Glimmer… are you saying you're me?"
  528. >There's an enthusiastic double-kick in the affirmative.
  529. >Shit. Shit shit shit.
  530. "Oh no…"
  531. >Gears start turning in your head and you leap off the bed, rushing down the stairs.
  532. >It's not a theory you like, but all the evidence seems to back it up.
  533. >She'd known math and Horse Code, because [i]you[/i] knew it.
  534. >You should've expected as much when your cravings had suddenly changed to foods you'd already liked.
  535. >Once your worried assistant catches up to you, you're already buried in your notes, frantically making calculations and muttering to yourself.
  536. "Of [i]course[/i]! How could I have been so [i]stupid[/i]‽"
  537. >Spike approaches you cautiously. "What? What's wrong?"
  538. >You point towards the papers.
  539. "Ugh, I can't believe I didn't see it before!"
  540. >Spike looks over your shoulders at the symbols scribbled across the parchment. "Um, see what?"
  541. >You groan and make a mental note to teach Spike at least the basics of magical notation.
  542. >Pulling out a (mostly) blank sheet of paper, you sketch a rough visual diagram of yourself, a pony with an elliptical body and stick legs.
  543. >In the oval body, you draw a smaller oval with a tiny stick-pony inside to represent your unborn daughter.
  544. "Okay, so here I am, and here's Glimmer."
  545. >You use the quill as a pointer.
  546. >Spike very poorly suppresses a snicker.
  547. "Oh, give me a break; I'm not an artist. It gets the message across, which is all a technical diagram is supposed to do."
  548. >Spike regains his composure. "Sorry."
  549. >You nod, and draw a squiggly circle around the diagram.
  550. "Now, the spell sets up a magical barrier around the caster to prevent outside interference."
  551. >You draw some wiggly lines and show them bounce off the outside of the bubble.
  552. "But it's a basic two-way barrier sphere, and I put it around my whole body, so of course Glimmer was in the field too."
  553. >You draw similar lines coming out of your head and bouncing around inside the bubble.
  554. "For the spell to work, a unicorn has to expand her consciousness in order to perceive alternate realities. The bubble keeps it from escaping, but…"
  555. >You draw lines curving inwards towards Glimmer.
  556. "Glimmer's mind is much more of a blank slate than mine, so some of my conscious energies were drawn to her, kind of like osmosis."
  557. >You finish the diagram by adding long, curved arrows, some from your head to Glimmer's, and some in the opposite direction.
  558. "I'd set up the perfect conditions for a psychic resonance feedback loop, and I didn't even notice! I didn't even [b]recognize[/b] it! Celestia was wrong; I'm not ready!"
  559. >Spike tries to calm you down. "Twilight, there's no way you could've know–"
  560. >"[i]Of course[/i] she didn't react until I was awake; we were knocked out by the same thing! Of [i]course[/i] she freaked out! From her perspective, one moment she blacks out from casting a spell, and the next thing she knows she's in a dark, cramped place."
  561. >You can feel tears welling up in your eyes. You put your head in your forelegs, not caring about your tears smudging your work.
  562. "The clues were all there, Spike! How didn't I recognize the Fibboneighcci sequence?"
  563. >You can't see Spike, but you can hear him. "Twilight, it's okay. You ju–"
  564. "No, Spike, it's [b]not[/b] okay! I was careless with my magic, and turned my own daughter into a copy of myself!"
  565. >"Sounds like you're just another typical mother."
  566. >You turn to shoot Spike an angry glare, but can't help but crack a weak smile.
  567. >Spike sees this, and seizes on the opportunity. "You'll get through this."
  568. >You dry your eyes and let out a dry chuckle.
  569. "Hey, not all mothers are like that. One of the nice things about having Celestia as something of a second mother was she let me follow my own passions; she encouraged me to find my own path never expected me to follow in her hoofsteps."
  570. >Spike let's out a more sincere chuckle. "Yeah, but what was she supposed to do, manipulate you into becoming an alacorn princess?"
  571. >This earns a sincere guffaw from you in return.
  572. "Pfft, Princess Twilight Sparkle. Nah, no thanks. 'Professor' makes so much more sense."
  573. >The two of you burst into a refreshing round of vigorous laughter that lasts for what feels like several minutes.
  574. >You both eventually finish, one you're out of breath.
  575. >Spike smiles, glad to have brought you out of your slump before you'd gone into crazy-mode.
  576. >You can tell he's holding back a comment about the possibility of a frequently crazy princess. You give him a look that says you somewhat agree with his unspoken remark.
  577. >Spike looks almost reluctant to bring the topic back up, as if it had been forgotten, but gathers the courage to speak up after he's caught his breath.
  578. >"So… I guess you're your own mother?"
  579. >You nod, your demeanor suddenly a bit more solemn.
  580. "Well, not technically. But in a manner of speaking, I guess I am."
  581. >Spike drops his smile to match your tone, but seems pleased that you don't seem as depressed as before, and aren't blaming yourself.
  582. >"Right. So… what now?"
  585. >You run a hoof over your belly and take a deep, calming breath.
  586. "Well, the situation seems stable, so there's nothing urgent that has to be done. I think the best thing for the two of me to do right now is take some to relax."
  587. >Spike nods in agreement. "Good idea. Make yourselves comfortable and I'll get some snacks."
  588. >You thank Spike and turn to address your mental doppelgänger.
  589. "Well, Horse Code isn't the most efficient communication scheme, so we should probably decide on something faster. Could you do me a favor and kick to the left?"
  590. >You feel a small bump against the muscle of your uterine wall.
  591. "Good. Okay, now to the right."
  592. >There's another kick on the opposite side. You smile.
  593. "Okay, good, I can distinguish which side you're kicking on. Now kick downwards."
  594. >You feel a third kick, at a position τ/4 radians away from the line between the previous two kicks.
  595. "Okay, now I'll need you to orient yourself so you're lined up with me."
  596. >You get to your hooves and tap the front of your belly with your left forehoof.
  597. "I'm pressing into you at the front side of my womb, and you should be able to feel which direction gravity is. That should give you enough information to get yourself oriented properly."
  598. >You have to suppress a giggle as you feel her tiny legs move about inside you, pushing off of your womb and doing an awkward kind of summersault get herself pointed in the right direction.
  599. "Thanks, that's great. Okay, now instead of kicking in dots and dashes, you can kick left, right, and down, like the keys on a typewriter. Got that?"
  600. >Glimmer starts kicking out her reply, and you mentally translate the "keystrokes" as you feel them.
  601. >> Y-E-S-space-I-space-F-I-G-U-R-E-D-space-S-O
  602. >A blush appears, your lavender cheeks turning a more violet hue.
  603. "Oh, right, you're me. Of course you knew what I was getting at; you probably had the same idea."
  604. >> C-O-R-R-E-C-T
  605. >You chuckle.
  606. "Wow, it's going to take some time for me to get used to this."
  607. >> YOU HAVE IT EASY
  608. >You smile and rub your belly tenderly.
  609. "Of course, you've got a lot more to get used to. It must've been so terrifying, waking up and finding yourself inside your own womb. I hope you're not too cramped.
  610. >There's a pause before Glimmer's response comes.
  611. >> IT IS COZY
  612. >You lay back down and press your right forehoof against your womb, as Glimmer pushes back.
  613. >You feel a swelling of maternal pride at being able to provide such a safe, comforting environment for your growing foal.
  614. >Spike swings open the door with his right foot, carrying a tray of hayburgers, some napkins, a water bottle, and a tall glass of lemonade with a bendy straw.
  615. >He sets them down in front of you, and sits next to you, resting his back on your belly. "There you go, a hearty meal for two! I trust you're both comfortable?"
  616. >You turn your neck and nuzzle your assistant before taking a long drink of the refreshing, ice-cold lemonade. "Thank you, Spike. Yes, we're very comfortable. It's nice to finally be able to lay down and take a breather now that this crazy mystery has been solved."
  617. >Spike nods and takes a drink from the water bottle he'd brought for himself. "So, are we still calling her Glimmer? I mean she's you, right? Shouldn't she be, like, Twilight II?"
  618. >You chuckle, and take a moment to think.
  621. >It's a tough question indeed. She's used to being called Twilight, but that would undoubtedly cause confusion.
  622. >You take a deep breath and let it out as a sigh.
  623. "I think we should keep calling her Glimmer. That's what everypony already knows her as, and it'd be a weird change to try to explain. Besides, it won't be the only change she'll have to get used to. At least she's still a female unicorn, but…"
  624. >Spike nods in understanding. "Yeah, you have a point. I hope she doesn't have too much trouble getting used to life as a baby."
  625. >You rub your belly and coo lovingly to your unborn foal.
  626. "I hope you're okay with that, Glimmer. I'll try to make this as comfortable as I can for you, but some changes you'll just have to get used to."
  628. >You breathe a sigh of relief. You'd expected her to understand, but you hadn't been sure; a pony's reaction to a decision can change depending on which side she's on.
  629. >You finish your hayburgers and turn your attention to the lemonade, even more appreciative of the refreshing taste after such a stressful day.
  630. >> I AM BORED
  631. >You blink at Glimmer's unexpected message, and it takes you a moment to process it.
  632. "Oh, right, I can imagine there's not much to do in there. Give me a moment and I'll try to think of something to keep us occupied."
  633. >You consider a few of your options. Glimmer is in a unique position to do experiments, though it'd take some time to come up with some.
  634. >You could make up some math problems to solve, but you're not sure how you feel about busywork.
  635. >It also occurs to you that it's a lot easier to have fun with friends, but that's involve letting at least one of your friends in on your little secret. Then again, can you really lie to them forever?
  638. >You take a deep breath and take a moment to gather your thoughts.
  639. >You don't have to rush to make a decision about telling your friends; you've got plenty of time.
  640. >You focus your attention instead on providing mental stimulation for your unborn foal.
  641. >Reading a good book always scratches that itch for you, so it stands to reason Glimmer should enjoy having one read to her.
  642. >You feel a twinge of regret that the early-reading books you'd bought for Glimmer will go unused, but shake it off and turn to Spike.
  643. "Spike, could you fetch me [i]Genetic Determinance with Respect to Spectroscopy of Photonic Emissions from Magikon Coalescence[/i]? It should be on my desk."
  644. >Spike salutes you before running off to fetch it, and you turn your attention to your stretched belly, slowly running your forehooves along your belly.
  645. >You make a mental note that you should probably pay a visit to the spa to have a professional massage out the tension and soreness in your belly.
  646. >There's also a niggling worry at the back of your mind that you're entering uncharted territory. You'd of course read all the pregnancy and parenting books in the library, but now…
  647. "Thanks, Spike. Just set it down there."
  648. >Spike sets down the thesis, and you lift it to you with your magic, opening it to the last bookmark.
  649. "Hey, could you do me a favor?"
  650. >He nods.
  651. "My belly could really use a massage. Do you think those hands of yours are up to the task?"
  652. >You let out a relaxed sigh as he gets to work, kneading the heels of his hands into the top of your belly, just above the navel.
  653. >"Like this?" he asks.
  654. >You smile and nod, turning your attention to the paper in front of you, your eyes scanning for the point at which you'd left off.
  655. "The production of these photons are of course a well-documented phenomenon, and occur wherever large quantities of magical energy are brought together, especially, when the magikons are arranged…"
  656. >You let out a contented moan as Spike moves his hand apart, massaging opposite sides of your belly simultaneously.
  657. "…arranged into an organized structure, such as a magic spell, a phenomenon whose manifestation is familiar even to the laypony as a colored…"
  658. >Mmm, that's nice. You roll onto your other side to give Spike better access.
  659. "… as a colored glow or 'aura' around a unicorn's horn. When the energies are controlled by a living organism, the specific wavelengths of this radiation are unique to that organism; this is the principle behind…"
  660. >You can feel your muscles relaxing, your tight belly loosening slightly and expanding at his touch. Your concerns about motherhood are washed away like writing in the sand.
  661. "…the principle behind many magical locks, as it is impossible to force the spectrographic signature another pony's magic. In 647, Max Flanck's Neighbel-prize-winning discovery that this…"
  662. >You arch your back slightly, pressing your belly into Spike's magic hands, which are rubbing at the points where your belly meets your sides, giving relief to the stretched muscles, working his way away from your chest.
  663. "…that this phenomenon also occurred around Pterippi and Terrans was the first major empirical evidence for the use of magic by non-Unicorn equines. The fact that the wavelengths of these emissions occurred within very specific…"
  664. >A shudder goes through your body and you have to fight to not just fall asleep as your troubles melt away, reminding yourself
  665. "…very specific ranges (310 – 370 nm and 810 – 950 nm, respectively) has long been seen as evidence of a genetic component to these organism-specific frequencies. And in fact, as is detailed in these findings, my colleagues and I seem to have isola– [i]eep![/i]"
  666. >You jump slightly and drop the papers onto the floor as Spike brushes against one of your swollen teats, causing it to leak a small amount of colostrum.
  667. >"Oops, sorry!" Spike says, holding his hands in the air.
  668. >You shake your head and try to hide your blushing cheeks.
  669. "It's okay, Spike; that sort of thing is to be expected when you're pregnant. Just pick up where you left off."
  670. >Spike seems embarrassed, and hesitant to start again, glancing at the small beads on the polished wooden floor by your belly.
  671. >Having lost your flow without the calming effect of his administrations, you sigh and start rubbing your belly yourself, your hooves no replacement for his dextrous palms.
  672. >It really isn't such a big deal, you remind yourself. In fact, now it's pretty much the only normal thing about your pregnancy, your body preparing to nourish your foal even after birth.
  673. >That's certainly going to be awkward, nursing a foal who's literally as smart as you.
  674. >In fact, most things will be awkward. Your previous concerns come back to the surface, as if they hadn't been washed away at all, but just temporarily covered up.
  675. >"You alright, Twilight?" Spike asks, concern in his voice.
  676. >You blink as you're brought back to Earth.
  677. "Yeah, I'm just… worried. How is this supposed to work, parenting a genius child? Should she call me 'Mom'? Am I in charge, or should I treat her as a peer? She's so young and small, and I want to protect her, but… I know I wouldn't want to be babied. Should I try to keep her intelligence a secret? I don't want her to get too much attention, but I can't imagine being forced to act like a baby all the time in case somepony is watching. This isn't in any of my parenting books, and I'm not used to not having all the answers!"
  678. >Spike sighs and rests a hand on your belly, absentmindedly massaging it. "All parents have to make tough decisions, Twi. I'm sure you'll figure it out; you're a smart pony."
  679. >You nod, and start weighing the questions in your head.
  682. "Well, I'll obviously have to take her intelligence into account; I know I wouldn't appreciate being babied. So I really should treat her as a peer, but…"
  683. >Spike gets up close to you, and rests a comforting hand on your belly, kneading it absentmindedly. "It's okay. Go on."
  684. "But she's so tiny and defenseless! I know she's me, but she's still my daughter, and I can't help but want what's best for her, even if I'm not completely sure what that is anymore."
  685. >You take another sip of your lemonade. It's warmed up slightly, but a quick refrigeration spell fixes that problem.
  686. "I'll want to know she's safe, and I want her to be able to have a normal foalhood, if there even is such a thing."
  687. >You take a deep breath and sigh.
  688. >"I just don't have enough experience to plan my next course of action. I think we should write to Celestia again and tell her what we've discovered. Maybe she'll have some suggestions."
  689. >Spike smiles and pulls out a quill and parchment, nodding at you to begin.
  690. >You take a deep breath, and start dictating the letter.
  691. "Dear Princess Celestia,
  692. Thank you for your reply to my previous letter. Your suggestion to ask questions of Glimmer proved invaluable in determining the cause of her strange behavior. The explanation is bizarre, but all of the math checks out."
  693. >You mentally brace yourself, and go on to recount your discovery.
  694. "In checking the safety of my spell, I'd checked ways in which the spell could've harmed Glimmer, and ways in which Glimmer could disrupt the spell, but I overlooked the possibility of a bidirectional interaction."
  695. >Your eyes water slightly as you're forced to face your failing, but you power through it.
  696. "Unfortunately, a spell is a complicated system, and it's nearly impossible to foresee how every component will interact with every other component. The multiple components of the spell had combined to produce a psychic resonance feedback loop between Glimmer and myself; it is the mental strain of this event that caused me to black out."
  697. You take another sip of your drink to calm yourself down.
  698. "The end result of this, however, was that Glimmer's nascent mind was imprinted with a carbon copy of my consciousness at the moment of the PRFL. Our minds are no longer connected, but Glimmer now has all of my thoughts, memories, and personality up until the moment when I casted the spell."
  699. >You rest a hoof on your belly and rub in slow circles, trying more to calm yourself than your foal.
  700. "She is aware of this fact on an intellectual level, but I believe she still thinks of herself as Twilight Sparkle; from her perspective, she blacked out and woke up as a fetus. We have agreed, however, to continue calling her Glimmer, in order to obviate potential confusion."
  701. >You feel a very gentle kick from Glimmer, urging you to continue.
  702. "I want to do everything I can to make this a comfortable transition for her. I know she's as smart as I am, and I don't want to belittle or underestimate her, but she's still a foal, and I'm still her mother, and I feel like that still has to count for something."
  703. >You take a few slow breaths and pause to collect your thoughts.
  704. "I am at a loss as to how I should proceed with my mothering duties with a foal who is my peer in all ways but age. Any guidance you could offer with regard to this dilemma would be greatly appreciated. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."
  705. >Spike rolls up and seals the scroll before setting it alight and sending it on its way. "There! Don't worry, Twilight. I'm sure Celestia will give excellent parenting advice; she did a great job with me!"
  706. >You smile and give Spike a gentle noogie.
  707. "A better job than me?"
  708. >Spike blushes and backs away slightly. "H-Hey, that's not fair. You can't make me pick favorites!
  709. >You just chuckle and pull him into a hug.
  710. "Calm down, Spike; I was just teasing you."
  711. >Spike straightens his spines and gives you an irritated look. "Well, you've got that part of mothe– [b][i]burp[/i][/b]"
  712. >A scroll materializes in the air and drops to your feet. You levitate it off the ground and unfurl it, your eyes scanning past the letterhead to find the beginning of Celestia's reply.
  714. >To my dearest, most faithful student, Twilight,
  715. >
  716. >My, this is certainly a unique state of affairs. I must applaud your diligence in investigating Glimmer's anomalous behavior, and congratulate your discovery of the cause. I trust you will be more careful when experimenting with magic from now on; unintended side-effects are par for the course on the frontier of any area of research.
  717. >I am relieved to hear that nothing serious is wrong with Glimmer. If you find yourself feeling guilty about the situation, try viewing it not as a loss, but as an opportunity, [i]i.e.[/i] a head start; if she has the knowledge of an award-winning academic before even leaving the womb, just think what she'll be capable of by adulthood. I know that I owe my wisdom to my many, many years of experience, and you've given your daughter several years of experience for free!
  718. >However, I would like to keep the two of you under observation, mainly for research purposes. This is entirely optional, but I assume you and Glimmer both understand the enormous potential for scientific insights to be gleaned from these novel circumstances.
  719. >As far as parenting advice, I'm afraid that that is something you will have to figure out for yourself. I cannot parent your daughter for you; a large part of the job of a mother is to respond to situations using her own judgement, so I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't allow you to make your own decisions as to what is best for your daughter.
  720. >You shouldn't expect perfection from yourself right away; indeed, there is no such thing as a perfect mother, but you will get better with practice. However, I will give you a suggestion to start with: the Golden Rule applies now more than ever. When you are interacting with Glimmer, consider how you would want to be treated if you were in her horseshoes, as, in a way, you are. If you want more specific parenting guidelines, I would consider listing the things you liked and disliked about how your own parents raised you.
  721. >If Glimmer and you choose to allow me to study your condition, I will send a chariot to escort you to my personal laboratory at the School for Gifted Unicorns. If you have not yet informed your friends and wish to do so, it would be best to do so before departing for Canterlot.
  722. >Whatever you choose, I wish both of you the best of luck on the road ahead. I am confident that you will ultimately choose wisely.
  723. >
  724. >All the best,
  725. >[i]Princess Celestia[/i]
  727. >You take a deep breath and roll the letter back up, carefully filing it with the rest.
  728. "Leave it to the Day Princess to send a response that raises more questions than it answers."
  729. >Spike shrugs sympathetically. "Oh well. So, are you gonna go to Canterlot? And what about your friends?"
  732. >You take a deep breath to collect your thoughts.
  733. "I don't know about Canterlot. I mean, my scientific instincts are telling me to jump at the opportunity, but… I don't want to be stuck there long-term, and Celestia didn't say how long she wanted to observe us for."
  734. >Spike raises an eyebrow. "If she's letting you decide whether to come, I'm sure she'll let you decide when to leave."
  735. >You smile and nod.
  736. "Yeah, probably. Either way, I should bring my friends up to speed first. Could you get them all together in the library? I'd rather only do this once."
  737. >Spike nods and salutes, marching out of the room to summon the other five Element Keepers.
  738. >You sigh and turn your attention to your neglected belly, stroking it tenderly.
  739. "I haven't forgotten about you, Glimmer. I think now is a good time for some mother-daughter bonding."
  741. >You smile and give your belly a teasing poke.
  742. "Heh, right. We know each other pretty well, and we're literally bonded to each other. What I meant is we need to get used to the mother-daughter relationship."
  743. >You stroke your belly and start cooing.
  744. "I know you wouldn't like baby talk, but I'm your mother, and I love you, and I want to keep you safe and happy. Remember that."
  745. >> THANKS MOM
  746. >A small smile flashes across your face at being called "Mom". You'd already been correcting ponies who'd called you a "mother-to-be" in the name of scientific accuracy, but feeling the word kicked out by your daughter gave you a full emotional understanding of something you'd previously only acknowledged intellectually.
  747. "I hope the transition isn't too jarring for you. I'll still let you do research, but… I can't guarantee your magic will be as strong."
  748. >There's a pregnant pause, and then Glimmer responds.
  750. >Oh, right. That's probably crossed her mind already.
  751. "I'll help you with that as much as I can. I'll help double-check our spells for redundancy and wasted energy. I'll research safe ways to expand a pony's reserves of magical energy. I'll do everything I can so that you…"
  752. >Your voice trails off as you feel a stirring inside you, the slight tickling of a hoof running across your uterine wall.
  753. >Glimmer must've heard your heart rate go up.
  754. >> IT IS OK
  755. >You take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that Glimmer had probably had this realization a while ago.
  756. "You're right; it's not my fault. I just want you to be the best you can be."
  757. >> I KNOW
  758. "Don't overexert yourself right away, though. You shouldn't be channelling high levels of magical energy this early."
  759. >> OF COURSE
  760. >You sigh, and try to remind yourself to calm down, that any warning you could give Glimmer she could deduce on her own.
  761. "I'm sorry; I'm just worried about you. It must be the hormones."
  762. >You both know that this is an excuse, that worrying is hardly an abnormal thing for you, but Glimmer doesn't call you out.
  763. "You've been pretty calm about this whole thing, actually. I'd be pretty upset."
  766. >You chuckle and hug your belly with your forelegs.
  767. "Well, enjoy it while you can, because there's no way I'm gestating you forever. You're getting evicted in ano–"
  768. >Knock-knock
  769. >Your ears perk up and you roll over onto your hooves.
  770. "Oh, they're here. Well, here goes nothing."
  771. >You carefully descend the stairs and open the door, revealing a very concerned-looking pastel yellow mare.
  772. >"I came as soon as I heard! Spike said you needed to tell us something about the foal? Is she okay?"
  773. >You smile and wave for Fluttershy to come inside.
  774. "Glimmer's perfectly healthy, but something's happened that I thought you girls should know about."
  775. >Fluttershy visibly relaxes when she hears this.
  776. >"Oh, that's a relief! So what'd you wanna tell us, then?"
  777. >You pause for a moment before answering. You'd been planning to tell all of your friends at once, and you'd rather not tell the story five times.
  778. >But then again, you'd rather not keep Fluttershy in suspense.
  781. >You sigh and shut the door behind Fluttershy, gesturing for her to take a seat. You follow after her and curl up on a nearby seat.
  782. "It's… complicated, Fluttershy. I'd rather wait until the others get here so I only have to explain it once."
  783. >Fluttershy nods, absentmindedly scuffing a hoof across the floor. "O-Okay. She's alright, though? Not sick, or in any danger?"
  784. >You smile and nod your head. "She's as healthy as a horse, Fluttershy."
  785. >Fluttershy sighs in relief and sinks into her chair. "Oh, thank goodness."
  786. >You run a hoof over your gravid belly and let out a contented sigh.
  787. "Fluttershy's here now. We just need to wait for the other four."
  788. >"Aww…" Fluttershy smiles. "That's so cute. You know, foals can recognize their mothers' voices when they're born. It's great that you've started talking to her more."
  789. >You just smile and nod. You can tell her with the others.
  790. >"Umm, Twilight? Can… Can I touch it? There are too many animals in my house for me to have a foal right now, but I've always thought pregnancy was so beautiful, and…"
  791. >You lift a hoof to stop her, and nod your head.
  792. >A huge smile appears on her face and she hops off her chair, slowly walking to your chair and resting her head on your rounded belly.
  793. >"Awww, I can feel her moving. I'm so happy for you; you're finally going to have a daughter of your own."
  794. >You smile and shake your head. "Sorry, but I have be pedantic here. I already have a daughter; she's kicking you. Thanks for the congratulations though."
  795. >Fluttershy's eyes go wide and she blushes. "Oh, nonono, I didn't mean to imply… Oh dear. I just meant tha–"
  796. >You put a hoof up to silence her and give her a reassuring smile.
  797. "I know what you mean, and I said I appreciate the sentiment."
  798. >You give a small, polite chuckle.
  799. "If anything, I should be apologizing for being a smartass."
  800. >Fluttershy gives a barely perceptible flinch at the curse word, but the joke earns a chuckle from her, and she visibly relaxes again, sighing and laying her head back on your belly.
  801. >Kick kick kick-kick kick
  802. >Kick kick.
  803. >Fluttershy lifts her head from your belly and looks at you with a raised eyebrow. "Was that 'Shave and a Manecut'?"
  804. >You make a mental note to give Glimmer a stern talking-to as soon as you get the chance.
  805. >Then again, you can't blame her too much; she does get it from you.
  808. >You sigh and shake your head.
  809. "That's… part of what I wanted to talk to you about, so it'll wait until the others get here. The eight of us have a lot to talk about."
  810. >Fluttershy's mouth moves slightly as she counts in her head. "Wait, eight? Wh–"
  811. >Shit, better change the subject.
  812. "Hey, are you thirsty? Spike made me some lemonade, and I'm pretty sure he made a whole pitcher."
  813. >Fluttershy nods. "Oh, of course, if it's not too much trouble. I am a little parched from the walk over here."
  814. >Fluttershy removed her head from your belly as you heft yourself off your chair and make your way to the kitchen.
  815. >You return after a moment, a pitcher of lemonade and two glasses with straws held within your magenta aura.
  816. >You pour two glasses and set one next to Fluttershy, who sips at it gratefully and sighs contentedly.
  817. >"Thanks, Twilight. I'm glad to see you're handling the pregnancy so well, especially…"
  818. >You shake your head and raise a hoof to stop her. "That's in the past. Glimmer is my daughter, I love her, and that's all that matters."
  819. >Fluttershy blushes slightly and nods. "Oh, of course. I'm sure that you're going to… I mean, that you are… a great mother."
  820. >You give Fluttershy a reassuring smile.
  821. "Thanks, Fluttershy. I th–"
  822. >There's another knock on the door.
  823. "It's unlocked. Come in!"
  824. >The door is enveloped in a soft bluish-white aura and opens to reveal a radiant white mare with an expertly coifed royal purple mane and tail.
  825. >Rarity smiles as she surveys the room. “Hello, girls! Twilight, there was something you wished to discuss?”
  826. >You nod.
  827. "Yes, something about Glimmer. It's nothing urgent, but it's complicated, so I'd rather wait until the rest are here and explain it once."
  828. >Rarity smiles and approaches the two of you. “Of course, dear. Do you mind if I…?”
  829. >You smile and pour Rarity a glass of lemonade.
  830. "Help yourself."
  831. >"Glimmer's fine, Rarity. I felt her kick, and she's very strong."
  832. >Rarity nods as she swallows a sip of her drink. “Yes, I figured as much. If something bad had happened to her foal, she would be distraught, and she seems quite calm about the situation.”
  833. >Fluttershy smiles and lets out a small chuckle. "Right, I should've realized that. She cares so much about her foal; if anything had happened, she'd be heartbroken."
  834. >You nod awkwardly.
  835. "Yeah, well, she's my daughter. Of course I love her."
  836. >Rarity takes another sip of drink and sits down in front of you and Fluttershy.
  837. >“Of course, but you'd be surprised how many mares don't appreciate the reality of their motherhood until the foal is actually born.”
  838. >This doesn't surprise you at all, actually. You're well aware of this phenomenon, of the cocktail of hormones released during foaling and nursing that encourage bonding between a mare and her foal.
  839. "Emotionally, yeah, but I'm working off of facts. Ponies don't reproduce by budding, Rarity; we use usual, standard, run-of-the-mill mammalian reproduction."
  840. >Judging by the looks on their faces, they didn't quite understand your point.
  841. "We reproduce sexually, so the offspring is created by the fusion of the male and female gametes. That new organism then goes through a continuous process of growth and development until sexual maturity, at which point the aging process…"
  842. >You sigh, searching your brain for a more succinct way to make your point.
  843. "Life begins at conception."
  844. >Looks of understanding dawn on both of their faces.
  845. >Rarity nods. “Well, of course it does; that's grade school stuff. But the role of a mother changes drastically when her foal is born, and many mares take a more… passive approach before that point.”
  846. >You chuckle.
  847. "Well, gestation is a very important part of a pony's devel–"
  848. >Knock knock
  849. >You open the door with your magic this time and decide to leave it open a crack this time, to signal to the other two that it's okay to just come inside without knocking.
  850. >"Hey, there!" says the orange farmer in her distinctive Southern twang. "Care t' tell me what ya called us here fer?"
  851. >Before you can respond, Fluttershy speaks up. "Oh, um, Twilight said it's complicated, so she'll explain it once everypony is here."
  852. >Applejack nods and walks towards the group. "Right, gotcha. I hope it won't take too long, 'cause the cider cellar ain't gonna reorganize itself."
  853. >You give her a reassuring smile and offer her a glass of lemonade, which she politely declines.
  854. >"Ya got any apple juice? Ah'm parched, an' that stuff's so much more refreshing."
  855. >Fluttershy has rested her head back on your belly, and you're not sure you want to disturb her again, but Spike hasn't returned to the library yet.
  858. >You suppress a sigh and smile at Applejack.
  859. "Sure thing! Just gimme a second."
  860. >You light your horn and feel around the kitchen with your telekinesis.
  861. >It's crude, but grabbing air feels different from grabbing a solid object, and you can judge an object's weight by how difficult it is to lift, and you also have your mental map to work off of.
  862. >You quickly locate and open the ice box. After a moment, you find the juice carton inside and hold it securely in your telekinetic grasp, floating it towards you.
  863. >You feel a slight bump, and slow down.
  864. >[b]*CRASH!*[/b]
  865. >Startled, you drop the carton.
  866. >"Eep!"
  867. >Fluttershy jumps up, a worried expression on her face.
  868. >A furious blush spreads across your face.
  869. >You groan and push yourself up off of your seat.
  870. "Oops. I'll get it!"
  871. >You trot over to the kitchen and your friends follow behind you, curious to see the carnage you've caused.
  872. >There's a layer of leafy greens spread across a large area of the floor, mixed with bits of carrot and onion and shards of broken glass, evidently the remains of a bowl of salad.
  873. >Laying on its side in front of the open icebox is a juice carton.
  874. >Applejack raises an eyebrow and makes her way over to the carton, watching each hoofstep to avoid stepping on broken glass.
  875. >You sigh and grab the broom and dustpan in the corner.
  876. >"Uh, Twi?" Applejack says with a chuckle. "Ah don't think this was yer only problem."
  877. >She tips the carton right-side up, and you read the label.
  879. >You groan and apply your hoof directly to your forehead.
  880. >"Y'know, Ah've got hooves. Ya could've just asked me ta get…"
  881. >You become aware of some poorly-stifled giggles coming from behind you, and the four of you turn around to face the source.
  882. >Rainbow Dash is standing in the entrance to the kitchen, observing the situation with the biggest grin on her face. Spike is standing next to her, concern on his face.
  883. >Rainbow smirks. "I just want to get it on the record that it was like this when I got here, okay?"
  884. >You groan and roll your eyes.
  885. "How long have you been here? I didn't hear you come in."
  886. >Rainbow unfolds her wings and flaps them a couple of times. "These babies don't make hoofsteps. I was at the door when I heard a crash, and when I came in I heard commotion in the kitchen. I'm just glad the destruction isn't my fault this time."
  887. >Applejack's response is more sarcastic and snarky. "Ha ha ha. Very funny, RD. Ya gonna help us clean up or what?"
  888. >Rainbow Dash shrugs. "I figured Twilight was just gonna tidy up with her magic, but I guess I could lend a hoof."
  889. >You start picking up the shards of broken glass and placing them in a pile off to the side, hoping the bowl is salvageable.
  890. >Spike runs off and quickly comes back with a cardboard box which he tosses them into, his scales rendering him impervious to their sharp edges.
  891. >"Gee, Twilight. I leave you alone for ten minutes…"
  892. >You sigh, sweeping up the leaves as Spike holds open a bag to dump them into and Rainbow Dash puts the orange juice back in the icebox and closes the door.
  893. >You do a quick mental head count and turn to Spike.
  894. "Hey, Spike, where's Pinkie?"
  895. >Spike turns to you as Rarity closes the box of glass and lifts it carefully onto the countertop.
  896. >"Huh? Oh, right, she'll be on her way; she said she had something to finish up first."
  897. >You nod, tying off the bag of floor salad and setting it by the door to be composted. "I hope she's done soon; I don't want to keep you girls too long."
  898. >Rarity shakes her head. “Perish the thought, Twilight. If it's important enough for you to call us all here, the least we can do is stick around. I'm sure we can make the time.”
  899. >You smile and light your horn, the residual detritus on the floor vanishing in a flash of magic.
  900. >"What exactly [i]is[/i] this important thing you wanted to tell us, anyway?" asks Rainbow Dash.
  901. >Rarity answers before you can. “Evidently, it's something complicated, and she only wants to explain it once, to all of us.”
  902. >Rainbow Dash groans. "So we're just supposed to sit around until Pinkie gets here? It's about the foal, right? Could you give us a clue, at least?"
  905. >You sigh, wishing Pinkie would show up already so you could stop dancing around the issue.
  906. "Glimmer is turning out to be very perceptive and quite perspicacious."
  907. >Rainbow Dash rolls her eyes. "Could you try that again, in Equestrian this time?"
  908. >You shake your head. "Let's just say the eight of us have a lot to talk about."
  909. >"Wait, 'the eight of us'?"
  910. >Fluttershy sighs. "She said the same thing to me, and I was interrupted before I could ask. We should just wait for Pinkie to get here, and then I'm sure everything will make sense."
  911. >Rainbow Dash groans. "I [i]hate[/i] waiting! Can't you just teleport us to Pinkie, and we could help her finish whatever's holding her up?"
  912. >You shake your head.
  913. "Teleportation is too dangerous a spell for me to attempt while pregnant, and I don't know where she is anyway."
  914. >"I'm right here!" says a jubilant, high-pitched voice.
  915. >You almost jump into the air in shock, and Fluttershy looks like she almost had a heart attack.
  916. >"Where'd you come from?" Applejack asks in surprise.
  917. >Pinkie let's out an adorable gigglesnort. "Well, one day Momma Pie and Poppa Pie got togeth–"
  918. >Rarity clears her throat. “We are well aware of the details of sexual reproduction; Twilight gave Fluttershy and me that lecture just recently. I believe what Applejack is asking is how you got [i]here[/i] so quickly, and without any of us noticing your arrival.”
  919. >Pinkie raises an eyebrow, not understanding the question. "What do you mean? I walked, and came in through the door. How do [i]you[/i] get places?"
  920. >Rainbow Dash sighs. "What took you so long, anyway?"
  921. >Pinkie smiles. "Oh, I had a bun in the oven." She glances at you. "Not like Twilight, of course! It was a strawberry bun, and I had to watch it while it baked to make sure it turned out [i]juuuust[/i] right! I rushed over here as soon as I could."
  922. >Rarity steps out of the kitchen and beckons the rest of you with a hoof. “Well, since we are all here, I believe Twilight had something she wished to tell us?”
  923. >You nod, following the rest of the ponies into the sitting area.
  924. >The other ponies position themselves together, variously laying on the floor, sitting in chairs, or hovering in the air. All eyes are on you.
  925. >Rarity waves a hoof in an encouraging manner. “Go on, darling. You are the centre of our attention.”
  926. >You blush. Oh boy, where to begin?
  929. >Well, you figure it's best to start at the beginning. But first…
  930. "Before I tell you, I need you all to Pinkie promise that you'll keep this a secret until I decide I want to tell other ponies."
  931. >This earns an exchange of concerned glances, but they all nod and recite the chant in unison, accompanying it with the appropriate gestures.
  932. >"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye."
  933. "Okay, good. Now, you know how I've been working on a new spell?"
  934. >Five ponies and a baby dragon nod in the affirmative.
  935. >You take a deep breath.
  936. "Well, this morning I cast it for the first time."
  937. >"Did it work?" Rainbow Dash asks, bobbing up and down in the air.
  938. >You shake your head, pausing to get back your train of thought after being interrupted.
  939. "I never got to finish it, because there was a complication. Glimmer wasn't hurt, but…"
  940. >You sigh, trying to think of a simple way to explain the PRFL. The diagram you made for Spike is still on your desk, mixed in with your notes and calculations.
  941. "Okay, so the spell was supposed to let me peek into parallel universes, sort of like a 'What if?' spell. To do this, it expands my consciousness beyond the limits of my brain. As a safety precaution, I added a bubble around my body, so my mind wouldn't dissipate, or get contaminated by outside interference."
  942. >You glance around at your friends' faces, and they seem to be following along well enough.
  943. "Well, Glimmer is inside my body, so she got caught inside the bubble with me when I expanded my consciousness. Her brain was still developing, so it was plastic and her mind was essentially a blank slate."
  944. >Your friends are completely focused on you, almost holding their breath in anticipation.
  945. >You take a deep breath and continue your explanation.
  946. "That meant there was a void that part of my consciousness was drawn into, and it was only able to circulate in the confined space of the bubble. This set up what is known as a psychic resonance feedback loop, or PRFL."
  947. >They don't seem to be following easily, so you elaborate.
  948. "Basically, my mind was being copied onto Glimmer's brain. This put an incredible strain on both of us, so I lost control of the spell and ended up getting a terrible headache and passing out."
  949. >There's a collective gasp from your friends, and you're touched by their concern for you.
  950. >You wave your hoof dismissively.
  951. "Don't worry; I was fine. When I woke up on the basement couch…"
  952. >You trail off, realizing something.
  953. "Oh wow."
  954. >You turn to Spike.
  955. "You carried me all the way to the couch? Thank you so much; that can not have been easy!"
  956. >You give Spike a hug.
  957. >"It's nothing, Twilight. I couldn't just leave you on the floor; I was worried about you. Now put me down!"
  958. >Rainbow Dash puts her forehooves in the air. "Come on, sappy time later! You were saying?"
  959. >You put Spike down and clear your throat.
  960. "Ahem. Anyway, when I woke up, Glimmer did too, and she freaked out, kicking like crazy. I can't blame her, but it really wasn't fun for me."
  961. >You chuckle, teasingly rubbing your  belly.
  962. "She stopped when she heard my voice, and started slowly kicking out various patterns, trying to get my attention."
  963. >You turn to directly face Pinkie.
  964. "When I went to Sugarcube Corner and she heard you underneath me, she kicked out an SOS."
  965. >Pinkie's eyes widen.
  966. "Eventually, I figured out what was going on. She can hear me, and she can hear other ponies too, but not as well. We've worked out a way for her to 'talk' to me by kicking, but it's pretty slow, and not very comfortable for me."
  967. >You take a few deep breaths and look around at the confused, surprised, and incredulous faces of your friends.
  968. "I guess that's pretty much it. So now she's fully conscious inside of me, with the intelligence of a full-grown, well-educated pony."
  969. >There's silence for several long seconds, and then Rainbow Dash speaks.
  970. >"So you're saying you accidentally turned your foal into a copy you? And we're supposed to believe that? I don't know much about unicorn magic, but that sounds like a load of horseapples to me."
  971. >Applejack awkwardly clears her throat. "Ah'm afraid Ah have ta agree with Dash on this one. Ya used a lot o' fancy words, and Ah trust ya, but ya gotta admit it's kinda a stretch."
  972. >You sigh. Sure, [i]now[/i] they're investigating propositions presented to them with proper scientific rigor.
  973. >The gears in your mind start turning, formulating an experiment to demonstrate the truth of your claim to your friends.
  976. >You doubt the method she used to get your attention would work, as your friends aren't as mathematically knowledgeable as you.
  977. >Maybe you could have then give simple math problems, and Gli–
  978. >> I HAVE AN IDEA
  979. "Okay, go ahead."
  981. >You lift your head and address your friends.
  982. "Okay, I'll need one of you to come up here and feel Glimmer kick. You can watch my horn to be sure I'm not controlling her."
  983. >Your friends exchange glances, and  Applejack steps forwards. "Okay, let's see what ya got."
  984. >You lay on your side with your belly facing your friends, and Applejack approaches you.
  985. "Okay, Applejack. Just rest a hoof on my belly, or your head if you want, and feel Glimmer kick. She has an idea that she thinks will convince you that I'm telling the truth."
  986. >Applejack nods, sitting down and gently placing her left forehoof against your belly button, her eyes locked vigilantly on your horn to detect any magical trickery.
  987. >The other four look on in fascinated anticipation, barely daring to breathe.
  988. >Kick-kick-kick, kick-kick-kick.
  989. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  990. >Kick-kickkick kick-kick kick-kick-kick.
  991. >Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick.
  992. >Applejack gasps, muttering under her breath. "Raise this barn, raise this barn, 1–2–3–4. Together we can raise this barn, 1–2–3–4."
  993. >She removes her hoof from your belly and stands up, turning to address your mutual friends.
  994. >"Well triple mah nipples an' call me Winona, she warn't kiddin'! Her foal is smart, and she knows me!"
  995. >Rainbow Dash's eyes go wide. "No way!" She flies over and lands next to you. "C'mon, I gotta feel this for myself!"
  996. >You sigh, laying back down and directing Rainbow Dash where to place her hoof.
  997. >She places her right forehoof on the peak of your belly and grins. "Okay, baby. Let's see what you've got."
  998. >Kick [i]kick[/i]-kick, kickkick [i]kick[/i]-kick. Kickkick kick kick-kick kick-kick.
  999. >Rainbow's eyes go wide. "Been dreamin', I've been waitin', to fly with those great ponies."
  1000. >She places her hoof back on the floor and nods. "Okay, she's legit. That's… really weird."
  1001. >You chuckle.
  1002. "The effects of magic, especially experimental magic, can often be bizarre and unpredictable. Now, does anypony else need a personal demonstration, or will the testimony of three out of the six of us be sufficient?"
  1003. >Rarity shakes her head. “No, Twilight. I understand that magic can be a fickle mistress, and I have no doubts as to your sincerity."
  1004. >Pinkie giggles. "Yeah, what she said! I know you, and you wouldn't lie about something like this."
  1005. >All eyes turn to Fluttershy, and she blushes intensely. "W-Well of course I believe Twilight! I'm her friend, and friends trust each other."
  1006. >You smile with satisfaction and get up, returning to your seat amongst your friends.
  1007. "Well, that's a weight off my withers. It feels good to be able to tell somepony other than Spike and Celestia."
  1008. >"That's what friends are for!" says Applejack.
  1009. >The other four nod in agreement, and Rarity speaks next.
  1010. >“We'll get through this together. This can't be easy for you, but never forget that your friends are here if you ever need help."
  1011. >A wide smile spreads across your face and you open your forelegs, beckoning everypony into a group hug.
  1012. >You hold them all close, careful not to put too much pressure on your taut belly, almost crying tears of joy.
  1013. "Thank you [i]so[/i] much, girls! This really means a lot to me."
  1014. >"I hope Glimmer is okay." Fluttershy states with concern. "It must've been terrifying to wake up in a new body, inside her own womb."
  1015. >You give Fluttershy a reassuring smile. "She did freak out a bit at first, but she's grown accustomed to it, though I presume having a new body is still giving her some difficulties, and take quite some time to get the hang of."
  1016. >Fluttershy is visibly relieved. "Oh, that's good. At least she's got you to keep her safe while she adjusts. I'm sure she's looking forward to being born, though; it's got to be getting pretty cramped in there."
  1017. >You chuckle and shake your head.
  1018. "Actually, she seems to like it. She called it 'cozy'."
  1019. >Rainbow Dash raises an eyebrow. "Hold on a second! She can [i]talk[/i] in there‽ Isn't it, like, full of goop?" Incredulity is clearly audible in her voice.
  1020. >You shake your head.
  1021. "It's amniotic fluid. And no, she can't talk, but we've worked out a system of kicks to communicate, like a typewriter. It takes a while and there's only so much I can take before I start to get sore, so it's a temporary measure for short messages until we can come up with something better."
  1022. >“Oh, that must be simply marvelous, to be able to speak with your own daughter before she's even born.”
  1023. >Her eyes light up as an idea forms in her head.
  1024. >“Pray tell, might you do us a favour and allow us to speak with her? 'Tis not every day that one has the opportunity to communicate with an unborn foal.”
  1027. >As you weigh the decision, you feel a stirring within your womb.
  1028. >> FINE WITH ME
  1029. >You smile, rubbing a hoof lovingly across the mound of your maternal belly.
  1030. "Of course! Glimmer and I intend to take full advantage of this unique opportunity over the next two months. But if you could ask questions with short answers for now, I'd appreciate it. As soon as Glimmer and I figure out a way to talk that's less of a kick in the gut, you're welcome to have as long of a conversation as you like."
  1031. >Applejack chuckles. "O' course, all that kickin' can take a toll on an expectant mother. Why, my ol' ma always used ta joke that when she was carryin' me, all she had ta do come applebuck season was press her belly against a tree an' Ah'd do the rest."
  1032. >Applejack sighs wistfully.
  1033. >"Least, Ah think it was a joke."
  1034. >This earns a snrk from Rainbow Dash. "Yeah, I wasn't too easy on my mom either. Guess I didn't like cramped spaces back then either, huh?"
  1035. >You smile, clearing your throat to regain their attention.
  1036. "If we're gonna do this, I'd like to move somewhere more comfortable. Would you mind following me to my bedroom?"
  1037. >In lieu of a verbal response, your friends answer by all standing up from their seats and following you up the stairs to your bedroom.
  1038. >Spike follows by your side and opens the bedroom door for you, closing it again once everypony has entered the room.
  1039. >You curl up on your bed, turning to face your friends.
  1040. "Okay, let's keep this orderly. Who wants to ask the first question?"
  1041. >Pinkie's hoof shoots up in the air. "Oo! Oo! I do! Pick me!"
  1042. >You smile and chuckle inwardly before pointing to her.
  1043. "What's your question, Pinkie?"
  1044. >"Well, I was just thinking you must get [i]really bored[/i]. I mean, I know you said it's cozy, but what do you [b]do[/b] in there? Just listen to Twilight's heartbeat?"
  1045. >The room goes silent as you wait for Glimmer to kick out her response.
  1046. >> I THINK
  1047. "She says she thinks."
  1048. >Rainbow Dash groans. "Okay, sure. But what do you think [u]about[/u]?"
  1049. >You sigh, forelegs wrapped around your belly, hugging your daughter through her your womb, instinctively shielding her against Dash's temper.
  1050. "Calm down, Rainbow. Remember, her answers can only be so long or else we'll both get worn out."
  1051. >You run a gentle, nurturing hoof across your belly.
  1052. "Glimmer, Rainbow Dash wants to know what you think about."
  1053. >> CHANGES
  1054. >There's a brief pause as Glimmer collects her thoughts.
  1055. >> NEW MAGIC LIMIT
  1057. >After a moment's pause to decode her response, you sigh, kicking yourself for not having those thoughts yourself.
  1058. "She's thinking of ways our current situation could be used to our further scientific knowledge, and she's worried that her new body won't be capable of as much magic as mine."
  1059. >Rarity raises a hoof, and you nod in her direction.
  1060. >“Oh, yes, I was just wondering if you dreamt, and what you dreamt about. Does your [i]–ahem–[/i] ‘isolation’ produce more vivid and colourful dreams, or do you only dream of things related to your current… predicament?”
  1061. >That's actually a very good question, and the answer could be very scientifically informative. You mentally pull out a quill and parchment to jot down some quick mental notes.
  1062. >> UNKNOWN
  1063. >> NO REM YET
  1064. >Oh. Of course.
  1065. >You sigh and look up from your belly to look at Rarity.
  1066. "She doesn't know, because she hasn't slept yet, at least not the deep sleep that dreaming happens in."
  1067. >Rarity nods, blushing slightly. “Oh, yes, of course. This happened just this morning, and you've both been rather busy sorting this out; I should've figured she hadn't had time for her beauty sleep.”
  1068. >You shake you head and dismiss her embarrassment with a casual wave of your hoof.
  1069. "It was a really good question, and that's something we'll definitely keep notes on; it's just too early to answer at the moment."
  1070. >Applejack clears her throat. "Ah've got a couple o' questions."
  1071. >Rarity gestures with her head for you to respond, and you turn to acknowledge Applejack with a nod."
  1072. >Applejack takes a breath. "Okay, first of all, Ah was wonderin' if time felt different fer ya. Ah mean, Ah know time flies when Ah'm workin' hard 'r havin' fun, so it must seem slower'n molasses if all ya can do is float there."
  1073. >You nod your understanding and turn to repeat the question to Glimmer.
  1074. "So, how do your surroundings affect your subjective experience of the passage of time?"
  1075. >> HARD TO TELL
  1076. >> PLUS I STAY BUSY
  1077. >You look back up at Applejack.
  1078. "She isn't sure, probably because she hasn't had much access to an objective measure of time for comparison. She also says that it's not just 'floating there'; she's able keep herself occupied."
  1079. >Applejack chuckles. "Well, that was actually gonna be mah next question. She's got a lot of time t' kill, an' Ah was wonderin' what she did ta pass the time. Ah mean, Ah know Ah'd be goin' stir crazy in ther faster'n you could say 'floccinaucinihilipilification'!"
  1080. >All eyes turn to Applejack, who raises an eyebrow indignantly. >"What, a farm girl can't know her a fancy word or two?"
  1081. >The incredulous stares don't let up.
  1082. >Her response is little more than a mumble, "Ah read it in the newspaper, okay? Remember when Ah got into a fight with that upstart who started raggin' on Sweet Apple Acres products?"
  1083. >You clear your throat in an attempt to steer the conversation clear of Applejack's run-in with Duke Blueblood.
  1084. "So. You wanted to know how Glimmer passes the time?"
  1085. >Applejack blushes, nodding in the affirmative. "Yep. Sorry 'bout that."
  1086. >You brush it off, and turn to address your daughter.
  1087. "Well, you heard the question."
  1088. >> THINK
  1091. "Well, she thinks about what we discuses earlier, specifically trying to come up with plans for what kinds of experiments we could do. She's also had her mind transplanted into an entirely new body, so she's still getting the hang of operating it."
  1092. >Fluttershy's eyes widen. "Oh my. Um, I had a question to ask Glimmer, but there's something else I want to talk about too."
  1093. >Fluttershy's voice sounds concerned, with a hint of urgency, but you get the feeling it'd take significantly less time to answer her original question.
  1094. "Okay, first, what was your question?"
  1095. >Fluttershy blushes. "Oh, well, um… I was just wondering, Glimmer… How do you feel about Twilight being your mother?"
  1096. >> I BELIEVE IN HER
  1097. >> BUT STILL WEIRD
  1098. >You smile, letting out a slight chuckle.
  1099. "She says it's weird, but she thinks I'll be a good mom."
  1100. >This earns amused smirks from a few of your friends.
  1101. "Okay, sure, it's a bit self-congratulatory, but what do you expect?"
  1102. >You turn back to Fluttershy.
  1103. "Okay, what'd you want to talk about?"
  1104. >Fluttershy nervously scuffs a hoof on the bedroom floor.
  1105. >"Well, um, you said something about how she's having trouble adjusting to her new body; that must've been a huge shock to her. I've rehabilitated animals who've had strokes and had to relearn everything, so I'm sure I could help her… if that's okay with you."
  1106. >You smile.
  1107. "Thank you for the offer. Now that I think about it, there may be some physiological parallels between Glimmer's situ…"
  1108. >You glance around the room, and decide now is not the best time to speculate on the complications involved in transferring one pony's neural programming into another pony's brain.
  1109. >Fluttershy smiles, waiting expectantly for your answer.
  1112. >You nod, giving Fluttershy a thankful smile.
  1113. "Sure, that'd be a big help. I'm sure Glimmer would appreciate some physical therapy, right?"
  1115. >You give a light chuckle.
  1116. "Glimmer says yes, and she'd like to know if you have any suggestions for things she should do in the meantime."
  1117. >Fluttershy bites her lip contemplatively. "Well, I don't really have enough information right now. Sorry, but I'd need to sit down with her and ask some questions before I could work out a treatment plan."
  1118. >You nod.
  1119. "Would you want to do that now, or later?"
  1120. >Fluttershy shrugs. "It's up to you. I don't know if the others would find it very interesting, and they probably still have questions of their own. I wouldn't mind discussing it now, though, either with or without the others here."
  1122. >You shake your head.
  1123. "There's no rush. Let's let everypony else ask their questions, and then we can talk about this."
  1124. >Fluttershy nods. "Of course. I wouldn't want to interrupt."
  1125. >You smile, turning back to the rest of your friends.
  1126. "Okay, next question."
  1127. >A mischievous smile flashes across Rainbow Dash's face, and she steps forwards.
  1128. >"Does it bug you to feel both your heart and Twilight's heart beating at different rates, not quite synced up?"
  1129. >> NO
  1130. >You shake your head.
  1131. "Apparently not."
  1132. >Rainbow Dash groans. "Why not?"
  1133. >> WHY SHOULD IT
  1134. >You chuckle, rolling your eyes.
  1135. "We're two separate ponies. Our hearts aren't [i]supposed[/i] to be synced up. Plus, you can't usually feel your own heart beat."
  1136. >Dash sighs. "Okay, Plan B. You are now breathing ungually."
  1137. >You groan.
  1138. >"She's not breathing in the first place, Starswirl! But thanks a lot, because that just worked on everypony [i]but[/i] Glimmer."
  1139. >She chuckles awkwardly and rubs the back of her neck with a hoof.
  1140. >"Heh, sorry about that." She clears her throat. "Okay, next question!"
  1141. >Pinkie waves a hoof in the air. "Ooh, ooh, pick me!"
  1142. >You take a breath and turn to Pinkie, nodding with a smile on your face.
  1143. >"She's gonna be born soon, right?"
  1144. >You nod, smiling and rubbing your belly.
  1145. "Yeah, I'm due in late March or early April."
  1146.  Do you have any plans for your zeroth birthday?"
  1147. >> NOT YET
  1148. >You chuckle.
  1149. "We haven't had a chance to plan that far ahead. I'm sure we'd love your input once we have everything else sorted out."
  1150. >Pinkie's smile grows wider, such that she's positively beaming. "Okey dokey lokey! Who's next?"
  1151. >Applejack steps forwards. "Well, Ah was jus' wonderin', what is it that yer lookin' forward to the most after bein' born? Whatcha miss the most 'bout not bein' cooped up in Twi's belly?"
  1152. >This question piques your interest. You could give an educated guess as to what her answer would be, but withou–
  1153. >> STRETCHING
  1154. >Huh, that hadn't even occurred to you. You would've guessed something like the taste of food.
  1155. "She says she misses being able to stretch out. She's gotta constantly stay curled up, and won't really be able to unbunch herself for a couple weeks."
  1156. >Rainbow Dash's eyes go wide. "Wow, that's gotta really suck, not being able to even spread your legs." She shudders.
  1157. >"I don't even know how you ponies can manage standing still for a long time; I'd probably go crazy in her place."
  1158. >She flaps her wings and does a little flip, as if to reassure herself that she still has the freedom of movement that she holds so dear.
  1159. >“Don't you get lonely in there?” asks Rarity. “I mean, you have Twilight, but she's your mother, and you two are pretty much the same pony. Don't you miss us, miss spending time together?”
  1160. >Rarity pouts, and you sigh.
  1161. >> WE ARE NOW
  1162. >You shake your head, giving Rarity a reassuring smile.
  1163. "She's spending time with you right now. She's always with me, and she can communicate, so you can still socialize with her even if you can't see each other."
  1164. >Rarity smiles back. “Oh, of course. Still, she must be looking forward to seeing us with her own eyes."
  1165. >You nod briefly and turn to the others.
  1166. "Are there any other questions before Glimmer and I talk with Fluttershy?"
  1167. >Pinkie bounces in place. "Oh, I know! What's your favorite part about being a foal again?"
  1168. >There's a brief pause, as Glimmer is presumably thinking it over.
  1169. >> NO WORRIES
  1171. >> TIME TO THINK
  1172. >You wince slightly at Glimmer's long response, kneading at your womb with your forehooves.
  1173. "She likes not having to worry about eating or working. It gives her 'Glimmer time' to relax and collect her thoughts."
  1174. >Rarity nods. “Ah, yes, I can appreciate the value of a little ‘me time’ in attaining clarity of mind. Princesses only know what I could accomplish if I had some alone time I could spend without stray worries gumming up the works.”
  1175. >You know full well that the Royal Pony Sisters are far from omniscient, but you decide to pick your battles and not take issue with too many figures of speech.
  1176. >Instead, you simply give a sympathetic chuckle.
  1177. "Yeah, I know the feeling."
  1178. >You clear your throat.
  1179. "Next?"
  1180. >You hear a soft voice from behind you.
  1181. >"Oh, um, I have one. I mean, one that's not part of our treatment planning."
  1182. >You nod, motioning for her to continue.
  1183. >"Well, I was just wondering, um, what're you gonna do once you're born? I mean, I know I'd love a fresh start, but you were so worried about going back to magic kindergarten, so… what'll you do?"
  1184. >There's a pause, and you quizzically raise an eyebrow. Before you can ask for clarification, she elaborates on her question.
  1185. >"Oh, mean, I was just wondering, are you going to take this opportunity to start over, live life as a foal? Or would you rather jump right back into your adult life as soon as possible?"
  1188. >You bite your lip, nervous about what Glimmer's answer will be.
  1189. >You're feeling conflicted; your maternal instincts are telling you to give your daughter as close to a normal foalhood as possible, while another part of your mind is telling you that may not be possible.
  1191. >Inwardly, you let out a sigh of relief.
  1192. "She doesn't know yet. It'll probably be somewhere in between, though. She's not going to have a perfectly normal foalhood, but she won't be able to entirely live as an adult either."
  1193. >Fluttershy seems satisfied by this answer.
  1194. >Rarity clears her throat. “Um, Twilight, I have a have a question for you, actually.”
  1195. >You nod.
  1196. "Go ahead, Rarity."
  1197. >“Well, I was just wondering what your plans were for… for feeding her.” She blushes. “Obviously nursing her would be best for Glimmer's health as well as yours, but…”
  1198. >You smile, giving a light chuckle to ease her obvious embarrassment.
  1199. "Oh, no, it shouldn't be too awkward. She's still my daughter, and we both know it's completely natural and wholesome."
  1200. >Rarity nods. “Yes, of course. I just thought…"
  1201. >You smile and nod back.
  1202. "Yeah, I know. It's not something I'd expect everypony to be comfortable with, but it doesn't bother me. In fact, I'd already been planning on extended nursing."
  1203. >Applejack raises an eyebrow. "What's that?"
  1204. "I'm not going to rush to wean her before we both decide it's the right time."
  1205. >"So like, you'd still be nursing her on her first day of school?" Rainbow Dash asks incredulously.
  1206. >You shrug.
  1207. "If that's the path things take. Any fixed date for weaning would be artificial; I'd need to pick some day to start denying her access to my milk and that's not the kind of mother I want to be."
  1208. >Rainbow blinks a couple times. "That's really weird, Twilight."
  1209. >Applejack shoots Dash a death glare. "Hush now, RD. Ain't nothin' wrong with waitin' ta wean yer foal. Ah know my ma's milk helped me out when I was feelin' down; Ah jus' wish Ah could give the same t' Apple Bloom."
  1210. >Rarity clears her throat. “Ah, yes, good, to each her own and all that. Moving along, then~!”
  1211. "Right. Well, any other questions?"
  1212. >You look around the room, but nopony volunteers.
  1213. "Okay then. In that case, I believe Glimmer and I have an appointment with Dr. Fluttershy."
  1214. >You smile and nod to the rest of your friends.
  1215. "You can stay if you want, but I doubt you'd find it very interesting."
  1216. >Rainbow Dash grins, thanking you for dismissing her as she flies out the window.
  1217. >You chuckle to yourself, opening the bedroom door with your magic.
  1218. >Applejack heads to the open door and stops at the doorway to wave. "See ya later, Twi! Good luck with the doctor's visit; Ah've got work t' git back to."
  1219. >You wave back at her, and she turns and heads to the stairs.
  1220. >Rarity nods. “I suppose I should go as well. But if either of you need anything, don't hesitate to ask.”
  1221. >You smile, waving her farewell.
  1222. "I'll keep that in mind. See you later, Rarity!"
  1223. >Pinkie Pie approaches you and gives you a big hug, followed by a quick kiss on your belly. She whispers something to your belly, of which all you can make out is the word "party", and then bounces out the door.
  1224. >You close the door behind her with your magic and turn to face Fluttershy.
  1225. "Okay, let's get started. I want to make Glimmer's adjustment as seamless as possible, so it'd be best if she could be adjusted to her new body by the time she's born."
  1226. >Fluttershy bites her lip. "I don't… really feel comfortable setting a deadline like that."
  1227. >You're slightly disappointed, but you just nod. She's the expert, after all; medicine has never been your area of expertise.
  1228. "Okay, fair enough. What's the first step?"
  1229. >Fluttershy clears her throat. "Well, first I have some questions to ask Glimmer, to try and diagnose the specific problem."
  1230. "Oh, of course. Go ahead."
  1231. >Fluttershy sidles up to the bed and carefully positions herself next to your belly. "Okay, proprioception first. Can you feel where your limbs are without seeing them? Or touching them, I guess."
  1232. >There's a pause, and you feel the motion within your womb settle to a stop before she responds.
  1233. >> DISTANTLY
  1234. >You nod to Fluttershy.
  1235. "She can, but just barely. She says it feels 'distant'."
  1236. >Fluttershy nods back. "Good. Now, I know you can move your legs to kick, but how well can you control them?"
  1237. >You place your forehooves around your fruitful midsection, having trained yourself through extensive practice to never miss a kick, and to faithfully interpret them in order relay her communiques to the outside world.
  1238. >> VERY CRUDELY
  1239. >You sigh.
  1240. "Not very well. Or at least, not very accurately. She said her control over them is 'crude'."
  1241. >Fluttershy looks up for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. "Are your senses working normally? I mean, you can hear us okay, but what about your other senses? Are they muddled or garbled at all?"
  1242. >You run a hoof along the peak of your fruitful paunch as Glimmer kicks out her relatively lengthy response.
  1243. >>YES AT FIRST
  1244. >>BUT CLEAR NOW
  1245. "Not anymore. She says they were garbled at first, but have cleared up by now."
  1246. >A smile spreads across Fluttershy's face. "Okay, it sounds like Glimmer just has some crossed wires from a mismatch between her mind and body."
  1247. "Mm-hmm. Go on."
  1248. >Fluttershy nods. "The problems should resolve themselves as Glimmer's brain learns how to interface with the rest of her body."
  1249. >You nod.
  1250. >"We could try to speed up that process with some physical therapy, if you want. That'd involve regular visits and a lot more kicking from Glimmer, so I'll only go that route if you're comfortable with it."
  1251. >You flash Fluttershy a quick smile before glancing upwards and weighing the options.
  1254. >It doesn't take long for you to make up your mind, though.
  1255. >Almost immediately, you look back to Fluttershy, smile, and nod.
  1256. "Of course! I wouldn't be a very good mother if I put my own comfort over my daughter's health. If it'll help Glimmer out, I can handle a little more kicking."
  1257. >Fluttershy's grin conveys a combination of pride, admiration, and eagerness. "Aww, that's sweet. Don't worry; I'm sure you'll be a great mother to Glimmer, even if her fath–"
  1258. >You clear your throat.
  1259. "The circumstances surrounding her conception are irrelevant; she's my daughter, and I intend to [i]continue[/i] being as good a mother to her as I can."
  1260. >Fluttershy blushes. "Oh, no… I mean, y-yes of course, I know that; I just… I didn't mean…" she clears her throat. "Anyway, I guess I should ask Glimmer now, though I think I already know her answer."
  1261. >You nod and pat your belly invitingly, giving Fluttershy a magnanimous smile.
  1262. >Fluttershy lifts her head slightly and trots over to curl up close to your obviously occupied oviduct.
  1263. >"Can you hear me?" she asks softly, her hoof resting against your slightly popped navel.
  1264. >She giggles as she feels a brief flurry of activity from within your womb as Glimmer kicks out her response.
  1265. >> YES
  1266. >Fluttershy turns her head to look at you, and you nod in response.
  1267. >Fluttershy smiles and turns back to your belly.
  1268. >"Okay, Glimmer. Do [i]you[/i] want to go through with the physical therapy, or just wait it out?"
  1269. >She places her other forehoof on your belly and smiles as she feels the life within you.
  1270. >> THE FORMER
  1271. "She wants to go through with the therapy."
  1272. >Fluttershy's smile widens and she sits up. "Great, when do you want to start?"
  1273. >You shrug.
  1274. "I figured we'd start right away, or you could at least give her some exercises to do."
  1275. >"Well, actually…" Fluttershy blushes. "I, um, it'd be a big help if I could actually [i]see[/i] Glimmer, so I could coach her on the exercises and track her progress better. Do you have an ultrasound machine we could use?"
  1276. >You shake your head.
  1277. "No, I don't have much in the way of medical equipment."
  1278. >Fluttershy's ears flop back. "Oh. Well, could probably borrow one from the hospital, but you'd have to let them in on your… little secret."
  1279. >You bite your lip; that's not ideal.
  1280. >Fluttershy looks a little nervous. "I mean, I could try doing the therapy without it, but I can't guarantee that it'd be as effective."
  1281. >You want to do best by your daughter, but your desire to aid her adjustment to her body is conflicting with your desire to shield her against unnecessary attention.
  1282. >It's a tough decision, but you weigh the pros and cons and try your hardest to make the right decision.
  1285. >Not content with the options presented, you decide to first see if you can find a third alternative.
  1286. "Hmm… Well, I'd rather not let anypony else in on our 'little secret' unless it's absolutely necessary, but maybe I could find another way for you to see what Glimmer's doing."
  1287. >Fluttershy raises an eyebrow. "You mean like an ultrasound spell?"
  1288. >You shake your head.
  1289. "If there are any spells like that, I haven't heard of them. I was thinking of maybe casting an invisibility spell on a small section of my abdominal wall, a 'window to the womb', if you will."
  1290. >Fluttershy pauses thoughtfully for a moment. "That might work, but I'd be worried about Glimmer's eyes. They're still developing, and I wouldn't want to damage them with too much light."
  1291. >You nod; this is something you'd considered as a possible drawback.
  1292. "I was thinking we could do it in a darkened room, and slowly turn the lights up to let her adjust."
  1293. >Fluttershy raises an eyebrow. "That [i]might[/i] work, but remember that her eyes themselves can't actually adjust yet."
  1294. "I'll take that into consideration."
  1295. >You carefully lift yourself from the bed, careful not to disturb Fluttershy, and climb down off the bed.
  1296. "Would you mind following me to the basement? I'll have a lot more control over the light level down there."
  1297. >Fluttershy nods and you lead her down into your lab, closing the door behind the three of you.
  1298. "Okay, I'm about to darken the room, so stay still for a moment."
  1299. >Fluttershy nods in understanding.
  1300. >You light your horn, which quickly becomes the only source of light in the room, before it too goes dark.
  1301. >"Wow, it's really dark!" Fluttershy observes.
  1302. >You chuckle, lighting your horn again.
  1303. "There are a lot of experiments that require very precise control over the ambient light. I've just turned it up slightly."
  1304. >There's a pause before Fluttershy responds. "I still can't see anything."
  1305. >You sigh and light your horn again.
  1306. "I wasn't finished. Just let me finish casting the night-vision spell, and… [i]voilà[/i]! How is it now?"
  1307. >Fluttershy shuffles nervously. "Is it supposed to look like an old film? Because everything is in black-and-white, and it's really… grainy."
  1308. >You flash an eager smile at Fluttershy before indulging her curiosity.
  1309. "Oh, yes, of course! You can't see colors very well because the spell focuses on the rods in your eyes, the photoreceptor cells that specialize in low-level light detection, but can't detect color. And the fuzz, that's just photon noise. You'll get that even in the most sophisticated low-light cameras; it's an artifact from attempting to form an image from an input with such a low information density."
  1310. >Fluttershy nods slowly. "Okay, so…"
  1311. >You sigh.
  1312. "Yes, it's supposed to look like that. Are you ready to start?"
  1313. >Fluttershy nods again. "Mm-hmm."
  1314. >You smile and gesture for her to follow you, and lead her over to a medical examination table, which you quickly climb onto.
  1315. >You lie down and turn so your belly is facing Fluttershy.
  1316. "Okay, is this a good angle for you?"
  1317. >"Yeah, this should work. Whenever you're ready."
  1318. >You give a polite grunt of recognition before lighting your horn and looking down at your rotund form.
  1319. >Taking long, deep, controlled breaths, you focus on allowing the magic to flow through you, shaping it with your horn.
  1320. >You watch as a magenta aura, the only color in your view, envelops your belly, creeping slowly across its taut surface.
  1321. >As the aura progresses, the fur on your belly begins to vanish, revealing the skin underneath, accentuated at the peak by your popped navel. The skin itself soon follows, revealing the muscle and sinew underneath.
  1322. >Fluttershy seems transfixed by the bizarre scene, as additional layers are seemingly stripped away.
  1323. >Keeping your breathing measured and your mind clear, you watch closely for your womb to become visible, and stop the spell's progression once enough of it has vanished to give Fluttershy an unobstructed view of your daughter curled up inside.
  1324. >You take another deep breath.
  1325. "Okay, Fluttershy, y– [i]ugh![/i]"
  1326. >Fluttershy blinks in surprise, but you can both see the cause of your outburst.
  1327. >The spell has fizzled out, leaving your entire abdomrn visible (and, by extension, leaving Glimmer concealed).
  1328. >You sigh.
  1329. "I'm sorry, Fluttershy. The spell is using up all of my concentration. I could hold it steady, but I wouldn't be able to translate any of Glimmer's kicks for you."
  1330. >Fluttershy frowns. "Oh. Okay. Um, do you have a solution in mind? You're pretty smart; I'm sure you can come up with something."
  1333. >You shrug and chuckle.
  1334. "Yeah, it shouldn't be too tough a problem to solve. Hmm… do you know how to use a typewriter?"
  1335. >Fluttershy pauses, rises an eyebrow, and nods. "Yeah, why?"
  1336. >You sigh, tired of repeating yourself.
  1337. "Glimmer's communicating with me by kicking in three different spots as if pressing the keys of a typewriter. If you watched her kick, do you think you could work backwards from the 'key presses' to figure out what she's 'typing'?"
  1338. >Fluttershy briefly glanced upwards in thought before nodding in the affirmative. "I think so, as long as she doesn't go too quickly."
  1339. >You smile and rub your belly in a teasing manner.
  1340. "Did you hear that, Glimmer? Give Fluttershy time to work out what you're saying."
  1341. >> Y
  1342. >> E
  1343. >> S
  1344. >You roll your eyes.
  1345. "Keep in mind that she's not facing the same way as we are, so she's basically reading every letter backward."
  1346. >> OK
  1347. >You sigh humorously and turn back to Fluttershy.
  1348. "I won't be able to adjust the lights either while I'm focusing on the spell. What would you suggest?"
  1349. >Fluttershy pauses pensively for a moment until her eyes light up in recollection.
  1350. >"We should bring the lights back up to a normal level."
  1351. "Wait, what? Just all of a sudden? Wouldn't that hurt her eyes?"
  1352. >Fluttershy shakes her head. "No, that was my mistake. Remember when I told you her eyes can't adjust themselves yet?"
  1353. >You nod.
  1354. >"Well, I just remembered that the pupil is stuck at its [i]smallest[/i] size, so any adjustment would actually let [i]more[/i] light in. Sorry about that."
  1355. >You shake your head and wave a hoof dismissively.
  1356. "Don't worry about it; I can't expect you to know everything off the top of your head. We're on a scientific frontier, so mistakes come with the territory."
  1357. >Fluttershy blushes. "O-Okay."
  1358. >You light your horn.
  1359. "Well, I guess I'll turn the light back up."
  1360. >Fluttershy jumps slightly. "W-Wait!"
  1361. >You reflexively take a step back.
  1362. "What? Is something wrong?"
  1363. >"Um, well, aren't you going to turn off the night vision spell before turning the lights on?"
  1364. >You stare at her blankly, blinking a couple of times before it clicks in your head.
  1365. "Huh, wh… [i]Oh![/i] No, the spell works by modifying the rod cells in your eyes; once the light level gets high enough, the cone cells take over anyway, so there's no danger to using the spell in normal lighting conditions."
  1366. >You relight your horn.
  1367. "However, I can deactivate the spell if it'll make you feel more comfortable."
  1368. >There's a brief flash of magenta light, and the room goes pitch black again.
  1369. >You light your horn yet again, and turn to Fluttershy.
  1370. "Okay, I'll go slowly so our eyes have a chance to adjust."
  1371. >The magically provided ambient light gradually increases in brightness, slowly returning color to the laboratory.
  1372. >Once it has returned to its normal level, you look back up at Fluttershy and wrap your forelegs around your inhabited abdomen in a protective gesture.
  1373. "And you're [i]sure[/i] this is safe? I don't want to end up blinding her."
  1374. >Fluttershy nods. "Her vision won't be that great for a while, but her pupils are fully constricted, so her eyes won't be damaged by the light."
  1375. "Okay, but at the first sign of trouble, don't hesitate to flick my horn. That'll  immediately abort the spell and get my attention."
  1376. >Fluttershy rests a reassuring hoof on your shoulder.
  1377. "Wow, that was a poor choice of words. It'll term… um, [i]interrupt[/i] the spell. Yeah, that's better."
  1378. >Fluttershy gently kneads her hoof back and forth. "You don't have anything to worry about. Glimmer is in capable hooves, but I'll be sure to get your attention if I need to."
  1379. >You nod, swallowing slightly.
  1380. "Sorry. It's just… to hold the spell stable, I'll have to tune out everything else, almost like a trance. In a way, it's the first time I've ever left her alone, and my mind can't help but run through everything that could possibly go wrong."
  1381. >The smile Fluttershy gives is genuinely reassuring. "She won't be alone; I'll be right here the whole time, and I know what to look for to make sure everything's okay. Just relax and focus on the spell."
  1382. >You nod and take a deep breath.
  1383. "Okay, here goes nothing."
  1385. >Your horn glows once more and again a shimmering aura coalesces around the peak of your belly.
  1386. >Once it's formed, it starts expanding out across your skin and sinking inwards, seemingly eating away layer after layer of your flesh.
  1387. >You struggle to keep your focus on the spell, not allowing your mind to drift into marveling at the fascinating, intricate workings of your own internal anatomy.
  1388. >That can wait until later.
  1389. >For her part, Fluttershy seems less squeamish than you would've expected.
  1390. >You can tell she's still uncomfortable, but years of caring for…
  1391. >No, no, have to focus on the spell.
  1392. >You watch as the apparent crater in your body grows, relying on your studies of equine anatomy to tell you when you're getting close.
  1393. >You see the fleshy balloon of your womb be revealed and brace yourself for the home stretch.
  1394. >A small hole appears in your womb and gradually widens as the spell stops its progression elsewhere.
  1395. >Sitting in your seemingly open abdomen is a thin amniotic sac, through which the vague outline of a pony can be made out.
  1396. >This too slowly opens up, revealing the most beautiful sight you've ever seen in your life.
  1397. >There, safely nestled deep within your core, is your daughter.
  1398. >Her mane and tail, a very light shade of soap blue, contrast sharply against the dark denim blue of her coat. The style of her mane and tail reminds you of yours (or your mother's, for that matter). Running through them are highlights that seem to match your coat, and her eyes are a deep imperial magenta.
  1399. >You've seen her before on ultrasounds, and "spoken" to her multiple times, but seeing her with your own two eyes for the first time is just so overwhelming, so…
  1400. >Noticing the spell begin to waver, you take a deep breath; swellings of motherly emotions will have to wait until you've optimized the spell for partial invisibility.
  1401. >You slowly let the breath out as you close your eyes, focussing on the spell through only your horn, taking long, measured breaths to keep your concentration stable.
  1403. *≈≈≈*≈≈≈*≈≈≈*
  1405. >Twilight's heart is pumping faster than normal. You hear her take a deep breath, and then let it out.
  1406. >"Okay, here goes nothing." The trepidation in her voice is unmistakable, but you can tell she trusts Fluttershy's judgement.
  1407. >You hope she's right.
  1408. >You feel the familiar tingle of nearby magic, and notice that the pitch-blackness is becoming less so, and more like a very deep red, as the amount of light filtering in creeps up to the point at which your new eyes can detect it.
  1409. >The red light gradually brightens until a pinprick of white light appears directly in front of you. It grows into a larger circle until it completely fills your field of view.
  1410. >You can't make anything out whatsoever, but from the conversation you overheard, that wasn't the goal in the first place.
  1411. >Soon after the viewing port reaches its maximum size, it starts to shrink and blur a bit, but only momentarily, before reëxpanding and stabilizing.
  1412. >Experimentally, you kick out a message.
  1413. >> H
  1414. >> I
  1415. >There's a brief pause, and then you hear a giggle. The white light dims, and you think you can vaguely make out a yellowish area.
  1416. >"Hi, Glimmer! Are you feeling well? Ready to get started?"
  1417. >> Y
  1418. >> E
  1419. >> S
  1420. >You can tell by the time and rhythm of her voice that she's smiling.
  1421. >"Okay, good! What do you want to work on first?"
  1424. >You give the question some thought, considering your options.
  1425. >You'd really like to be able to talk as soon as possible, but that's a pretty ambitious goal, and it occurs to you that speech therapy will be much easier once you can actually get air into your lungs.
  1426. >You really want to try your horn at some magic, but you have at least a few weeks until that'll be an option, if you remember your books on prenatal development accurately.
  1427. >You decide that the wisest course of action is to start with broad, large-scale motor control before attempting to work on the smaller, fiddlier tasks.
  1428. >> L
  1429. >> E
  1430. >> G
  1431. >> S
  1432. >There's a brief pause before you hear Fluttershy's muffled response.
  1433. >"I was thinking the same thing. Okay…" Fluttershy trails off. "Hmm. Before we start, are you able to shake and nod your head? That'd help a lot."
  1434. >You nod your head.
  1435. >Well, it's actually more like rocking your head forwards and backwards by moving your entire neck, but it gets the message across.
  1436. >"Okay, good. Now, do you know how to meditate?"
  1437. >You feel the urge to raise an eyebrow, but have to settle for cocking your head to the side in an inquizitive manner, or at least a rough approximation thereof.
  1438. >> D
  1439. >> U
  1440. >> H
  1441. >There's a brief pause, and you can almost hear Fluttershy blushing.
  1442. >"O-Oh, of course. That's what Twilight's doing right now, isn't it? And if she knows how…"
  1443. >You nod.
  1444. >"Okay then. We'll start by trying working on your proprioception. Try and tune out as many distractions as you can."
  1445. >You nod again, and close your eyes.
  1446. >It's not difficult to tune out your surroundings, as you've more or less been doing so for a while now.
  1447. >The background sounds are still there, of course, but you've gotten used to them.
  1448. >Twilight's breathing and heartbeat, the sloshing and thumping and gurgling sounds that characterize the inside of a pony's body, have melted into the background.
  1449. >What had once been a distracting cacophony, a distressing reminder of your confinement, has metamorphosed into a lullaby of sorts, an assurance of security.
  1450. >With every breath she takes, with each beat of her heart, Twilight is reminding you that you're safe, that she's there to protect you from harm and give you everything you need to live.
  1451. >With a bit of concentration, that comforting background noise fades to silence, and you focus your attention on the sound of Fluttershy's voice.
  1452. >"Can you still hear me?"
  1453. >You nod your head slowly, careful to keep your thoughts clear.
  1454. >"Good. Now, I need you to keep your legs still for the moment and try to get a feel for where they are. Don't look at them, and don't work off of memory; let your legs tell you where they are, and try to mentally picture their positions."
  1455. >You nod, focussing on your limbs.
  1456. >It's an odd feeling. You can move your legs, and they respond, but they feel numb.
  1457. >No, "numb" is the wrong word. They feel… separate. Under your control but not truly "you", as if you were remotely operating some sort of machine.
  1458. >You find it difficult to put into words, or even put your hoof on it, but there's an unmistakable impression that all your actions have been transitive. That is, instead of moving [i](v. intr.)[/i], you've been moving [i](v. tr.)[/i] your body.
  1459. >You take a deep breath of the amniotic fluid. It doesn't help to oxygenate your blood, but it's a familiar habit that helps you to center your thoughts.
  1460. >As per Fluttershy's instructions, you begin focussing your attention on the new (in more senses than one) body you're inhabiting.
  1461. >Nothing happens.
  1462. >Frustrated, you open your eyes and do your best approximation of shooting Fluttershy a pleading stare.
  1463. >You hear a giggle and your eyes detect a drop in the brightness of your field of view.
  1464. >Your brain and eyes still aren't coöperating, so the image you see (if it could even be called an image) is corrupted, as if garbled and mixed with white noise. On top of this, your eyes aren't fully developed, so you'd be legally blind even if you [i]could[/i] get your eyes and brain to interface properly.
  1465. >Nevertheless, you can vaguely make out a large shape move into your field of view.
  1466. >> I
  1467. >>  
  1468. >> C
  1469. >>  
  1470. >> U
  1471. >>
  1472. >>  
  1473. >> U
  1474. >>  
  1475. >> R
  1476. >>  
  1477. >> Y
  1478. >> E
  1479. >> L
  1480. >> L
  1481. >> O
  1482. >> W
  1483. > Fluttershy giggles. "Well, that's a good sign; at least you can see at least a little, and there's been no change in your perception of color. I guess that answers that old question."
  1484. > That actually hadn't occurred to you, the question of qualia and how they could vary between people. However, you're hesitant to draw any conclusions from this single datum.
  1485. >> S
  1486. >> A
  1487. >> M
  1488. >> P
  1489. >Fluttershy clears her throat. "Um, I actually think I've gotten the hang of this; you don't have to go so slowly anymore."
  1490. >You smile inwardly, glad to be able to return to your normal speed.
  1493. >"Oh, of course. Still, it's interesting."
  1494. >You nod.
  1495. >"So, did you feel anything?" Fluttershy asks, eager to get back to the task at hand.
  1496. >You shake your head.
  1497. >"Okay, that's not unexpected for a first attempt. Try to break it down. Imagine a spark starting at your head and working its way back, lighting up more of your body as it goes along. If you have trouble with a spot, try moving it slightly and start over. Eventually, you should start to form a mental map of sorts."
  1498. >You nod and close your eyes, focussing on your body once more.
  1501. >Some time passes.
  1502. >The monotony of the womb means you have no way to know how much, but you do know that you've definitely made some progress.
  1503. >If you close your eyes and concentrate, you can consistently form a mental map of your body.
  1504. >It's not fast, and it's not easy, and it's not precise, but it is consistent. You're able to roughly tell how your legs are positioned just by "listening" to your body, without looking at or even moving them.
  1505. >You're moving yourself into another random position when everything suddenly goes black.
  1507. *===*===*===*
  1509. >You allow the invisibility spell to fizzle out and and rub your eyes before blinking a couple of times.
  1510. >You take a deep breath and quickly shake your head to clear your mind.
  1511. "Sorry, Fluttershy, but that's about all I can do. I can hold the spell for a couple more minutes to let you wrap things up, but it's getting late and I'm exhausted."
  1512. >Fluttershy nods. "That's fine; we've made a lot of progress. We'll be as quick as we can."
  1513. >You smile.
  1514. "Thanks for doing this, Fluttershy. You're being such a big help, and I just wanted to thank you in advance for all the time you're spending on us."
  1515. >Fluttershy blushes. "Oh it's nothing, really. When I realized I could help, I just had to. Now let's finish this session so you can get some rest; it'll be good for both of you."
  1516. >You just nod in response, closing your eyes and focussing once more on the spell.
  1518. *===*===*===*
  1520. >The light begins to return as your mother casts the spell for the third time, forming a window through which Fluttershy can see you.
  1521. >"Okay, any last things you want to touch on really quickly before we call it a day?"
  1522. >> THANK YOU
  1523. >Fluttershy chuckles. "Twilight already thanked me, but you're welcome. Now, anything else you want to cover?"
  1525. >There's a pause.
  1526. >"Um, that's… a little involved. We should probably wait until you've gotten the hang of your legs to move on to the more intricate movements."
  1527. >> I WILL TRY
  1528. >> BE MY MIRROR
  1529. >"Um… what do you…"
  1530. >Fluttershy trails off as you begin attempting to make various faces. Happy, sad, angry, confused, and so forth. You also try mouthing a few words.
  1531. >> HOW DID I DO
  1532. >Fluttershy mumbles to herself for a moment, presumably trying to decide how to phrase her response.
  1533. >"You did… about as well as could be expected. You looked… disabled, at best. Maybe zombified, or very numb."
  1534. >You sigh through a lungful of amniotic fluid.
  1535. >It'd been a silly thing to do, of course, and you'd suspected the outcome before you'd done the the test. But still, it's a little disheartening to discover just how limited your options for communication are.
  1536. >"I-I mean, it's not [i]that[/i] bad; I'm pretty sure I got the general idea for… some of those." She sighs. "Glimmer, you can't rush this. What you've been through is the neurological equivalent of a massively traumatic event; we need to take things one step at a time.
  1537. >You give your best approximation of a nod.
  1538. >> IT IS OK
  1539. >> SEE YOU LATER
  1540. >Fluttershy's tone of voice noticeably softens. "O-Okay. I'll see you later, Glimmer."
  1541. >The grainy yellow blob that is Fluttershy moves slightly, and then disappears as your vision goes pitch black again.
  1543. *===*===*===*
  1545. >You blink a few times, turning your head to look at Fluttershy, whose hoof is gently shaking your shoulder.
  1546. >You'd told her to flick your horn, but you decide it's not important enough to make a fuss about right now.
  1547. "How did it go?"
  1548. >Fluttershy smiles. "It went great. She's responding to standard treatment, so that's a big load off my withers."
  1549. >You nod with a chuckle.
  1550. "Thanks again, Fluttershy."
  1551. >You yawn.
  1552. >Fluttershy giggles. "I'll get out of your mane and let you two get some rest."
  1553. >She waves goodbye and turns to leave, but turns back in the middle of taking a step.
  1554. >"Oh, I guess I should probably schedule our next appointment. When do you want to continue?"
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