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Regards, Anon (Ended the right way)

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Feb 2nd, 2016
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  1. >"So be straight with me, how much was my eternal, unconditional, life long unquestioning servitude worth?"
  2. >You looked over at the pony currently sitting on the far side of your couch.
  3. >You weren't entirely sure if ponies were supposed to sit on the furniture.
  4. >Wasn't it supposed to be like an animal?
  5. >Well, dogs were allowed to sit on the couch, so you guess ponies were allowed as well.
  6. >If they weren't, then why would yours?
  7. >Snapping back to attention, you reply
  8. "500 dollars."
  9. >"500 bits? Fuck off. I'm worth at least eight times that amount. That equals...what? 4000 bits?"
  10. >The pony creased her brow.
  11. >"Sorry, I don't have an abacus on me."
  12. "No, dollars. We don't use bits here. Or abacuses. Abacusi?
  13. >"Abaci."
  14. "Thanks. Anyway, it doesn't matter. I bought you, you're mine now, you'll do as I say."
  15. >"Alright."
  16. "No talking your way out of it."
  17. >"Got it."
  18. "Anything at all."
  19. >"Anything you want. No questions asked."
  20. "...okay cool, glad that's all settled, move over. My show's on and I need to complain to strangers online about it."
  21. >The pony shuffles away from you as you sit down next to it.
  22.  
  23. >”So how is this whole thing going to work?”
  24. >You glance up from your laptop screen before quickly looking back down.
  25. “I dunno. I figured it would be cool to have someone do all my household chores for me.”
  26. >”I get my own room?”
  27. >You nod.
  28. “I have a spare bedroom. You can chill there; just don’t complain if I kick you out suddenly to make room a friend.”
  29. >That was a joke, everyone knows you don’t have friends.
  30. >She didn’t laugh.
  31. >”That’s fine dude, I’ve had worse. Hell, I’ve had worse before all this shit happened. My own bed’s basically a gift from Celestia. Beats sleeping in a cage like the last guy who bought me.”
  32. >She waits a moment before continuing, “Can I go in the kitchen?”
  33. “How else will you cook me dinner?”
  34. >”Fair enough. Usually people are concerned that letting their slaves in the place with all the knives is a bad idea, but I’m sure it’ll work it this time!”
  35. >The conversation ends there.
  36. >Minutes drag past in silence.
  37. >You totally don’t care, but just in case your pon…your slave does, you attempt to reawaken the chat.
  38. “So what can you do? You know any magic tricks?”
  39. >The pony looks over at you and shrugs.
  40. >”Yea, just stop feeding me anti magic drugs and I’ll do something that makes your head explode. Literally.”
  41. >You stare at her.
  42. >”That was a joke.”
  43. >You don’t think it was.
  44. >Thank god the pony came with a month’s supply of whatever they used to disable her horn.
  45. “So can you cook?”
  46. >”Nah, that’s a bad idea. I’m an awful cook. I’d probably burn the house down.”
  47. “Can you clean?”
  48. >”Not well. I’m a slob and lazy at heart. They don’t make me the cleanest pony.”
  49. “Can you…I dunno, do anything at all?”
  50. >”Not really. I was a fucking musician back home, what do you expect? If I had any skills or talents I wouldn’t have started a career in art, now would I?”
  51. >She’s got a good point.
  52.  
  53. “So I just spent 500 dollars on a pony that can’t do anything?”
  54. >”Shoulda been 8000.”
  55. >You think for a moment.
  56. “Fuck it, I’m going to bed. Don’t stay up too late; we’ll talk more in the morning.”
  57. >You begin to head towards your bedroom, when you hear a loud thump behind you as the pony gets to her feet. Hooves. Whatever.
  58. >”You’re new to this whole ‘slave/master’ business, aren’t you? Aren’t you afraid I’ll, I dunno, murder you in your sleep and run away or something?”
  59. “Are you going to kill me in my sleep?”
  60. >”Well, no, but…”
  61. “Then there’s no issue. Night...”
  62. >You pause, struggling for a name.
  63. “Sorry, I never actually got your name.”
  64. >”Typically, you’re supposed to give me one.”
  65. “But what’s your name?”
  66. >She pauses for a moment.
  67. >”Vinyl Scratch.”
  68. “Anonymous.”
  69. >You stare at each other.
  70. “Well then, night Ms Scratch. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. Your room’s on the left.”
  71. >And with that, you left her standing there in the living room.
  72.  
  73. >The smell of smoke pulls you out of the world of sleep.
  74. >Or rather, your alarm clock did, but the smoke is a notable detail in and of itself.
  75. >See, your house doesn't usually have smoke in it.
  76. >This fact spurs you to shake the sleep from your head as you rise to your feet. Hooves.
  77. >No wait, feet. Definitely feet.
  78. >Following the smoke, you quickly rush into the kitchen.
  79. >Vinyl is there, staring into the sink as a small fire builds behind her.
  80. >She turns as you enter the room.
  81. >"Oh, sweet, just in time. Do you have a fire extinguisher anywhere? Otherwise I'll just try throwing some more water on it and see if it works this time.
  82. "Of course I don't have a fire extinguisher."
  83. >Vinyl raises a hoof to her chin, before pointing at you
  84. >"You should invest in one. Fire safety is no joke."
  85. "You set the house on fire!"
  86. >"Yes, and now I'm working to put it out. Chill, bro. I got this, let your little slave do all the work."
  87. >Grabbing the glass of water, Vinyl hobbled over to the source of the fire, extinguishing it.
  88. >Burnt, wet bacon sits in the middle of the pan.
  89. >"Aw right, breakfast's ready."
  90. >You have no words, so you just say whatever your tongue wants.
  91. "I thought you said you couldn't cook."
  92. >"Well, I'm not the one who's going to be eating it. And if we've learnt anything, it's that I definitely can't cook."
  93.  
  94. >Your cereal is cold.
  95. >Vinyl is sitting across from you, casually reading the newspaper as she nibbles on an apple.
  96. >It was the only thing she was willing to eat.
  97. >You made another note to buy some oats or something, apparently that's what she wanted.
  98. >It briefly occurred to you that you shouldn't care what she wants.
  99. >You did own her, she had to do anything you said.
  100. >Then you went back to your cereal.
  101. "You know, you're surprisingly okay with the whole...you know."
  102. >"Being a slave?"
  103. >You swallow.
  104. "Yea, that."
  105. >"No, I'm not fucking okay with it. How would you feel if someone tore you from your family and threw you six billion miles from home to work for a sweaty slavedriver you expects you to dress up prissy and sleep with men for money? You wanna swap positions? I'll be the master, you be the slave. It's fucking awful being a slave."
  106. "Huh. You know, I didn't get that impression from you."
  107. >"Well, of course not. I mean, there's nothing I can do about, so I don't bother being depressed about it. No point crying over something you can't change. I figure 'just go with the flow,' see where it leads."
  108. "That's one attitude, I guess."
  109. >"That's the only attitude. You either do that or lose your mind, man. I've seen ponies so broken down they don't even remember their real name no more. Shit sucks."
  110. >You keep eating.
  111. >Was it just you, or did the atmosphere change suddenly?
  112. >Maybe it was just the smoke.
  113. "So have you been a slave long or..."
  114. >"With all respect provided to you, I'd rather we not have this conversation. Besides it's not like it matters."
  115. >Vinyl flips through the paper faster, before placing it on the table.
  116. >Curiosity kills the cat.
  117. "What doesn't matter?"
  118. >"You don't really care. You'll get sick of my shit and send me back to the auction for a more useful pony. Heard they've got a good deal on this white unicorn, totally submissive, totally housebroken. Doesn't even need to take drugs, she just does what you say. Deserves a home much more than me."
  119.  
  120. >"Alright, that's done."
  121. >You look up from the couch, craning your head back to get a better view.
  122. "What, already?"
  123. >"Cleaning's super easy when you're lazy. On an unrelated note, don't open the third draw on this chest, I think I caused nuclear fission cramming it all in.
  124. >She wasn't lying.
  125. >The drawer looked like it was being held together with duct tape and hope.
  126. "Heh, cramming it in."
  127. >"Real mature." Vinyl said, before cracking a smile. "Heh."
  128. "I don't think I have anything else for you to do. You wash the dishes?"
  129. >"Yep.
  130. "Make the beds?"
  131. >"Yep."
  132. "Vacuum?"
  133. >"No, but vacuum's are terrifying dude, you gotta do that yourself."
  134. "You're the worst maid I've ever seen."
  135. >"You get what you paid for."
  136. "I PAID 500 DOLLARS!"
  137. >Leaping over the couch, Vinyl sat down.
  138. >"Yea, someone is coming out of this looking like an idiot and it's not me."
  139. "Fuck you."
  140. >"Bite me."
  141. >You stare at Vinyl for a moment, before looking away.
  142. >Something about her bare eyes unnerves you.
  143. "If you just wanna, I dunno, chill then? What do slaves usually do in their free time?"
  144. >Vinyl simply stares at you some more.
  145. >"Boy, you're really not getting this whole slavery thing."
  146. "I guess not."
  147. >You motion at the TV.
  148. "Anything you want to watch?"
  149. >Vinyl stares at you again. "Is there a channel for slaves?"
  150. "Right. Sorry."
  151. >You set the TV to a random channel and returned to your work.
  152. >The only time Vinyl paid attention was during the advertisements for the pony auction.
  153. >Mostly she just slept.
  154.  
  155. >"You know, technically I'm not supposed to be to doing this.
  156. "Is it because you're a..."
  157. >"Alright, let me rephrase that, medically I'm not supposed to be doing this.
  158. "Medically?"
  159. >Vinyl casually looked down at the blunt in her hoof.
  160. >You're not sure how she was actually holding it.
  161. >You'd say magic, but she still couldn't use her magic.
  162. >"Yea, if I remember, you're not supposed to mix drugs. Especially strong ones like magic suppressants. Doesn't that do bad things to your body? I don't wanna get a heart attack or something."
  163. >You shrug.
  164. "It'll be fine, what's the worst that could happen?"
  165. >Vinyl seems to think for a moment, "Actually, you know what? You're right. Why the hell am I scared, I've been through worse."
  166. >With that, she took a deep breath in.
  167. >An hour later, you think it was finally starting to hit the two of you, for real this time.
  168. >It feels like everything is in high definition.
  169. >You're thrown off your chain of thought as you look over to Vinyl.
  170. >Her mane is so radiant, so perfectly edged and spiked.
  171. >Her coat is dirty, but you can see a kind of soft plushness beneath the grime.
  172. >Even her horn, though slightly chipped, looks amazing.
  173. >Even though she's currently hanging over the side of your couch, upside down.
  174. "Hey, Vinyl, how you holding up?"
  175. >She looks at you, eyes diluting.
  176. >"I feel great dude, this is really great. It's great to...feel great you know? I don't usually feel great, but I'm great. Great grates grate grates."
  177. >You leave her to mumbling, but still glance over at her occasionally when you have enough pieces of your mind.
  178.  
  179. >Eventually you wake up.
  180. >You weren't certain when you dozed off.
  181. >You're not certain about a lot of things, now that you think about it.
  182. >Standing up, you brush what appears to be oats off your pants.
  183. >You think you may have made an innuendo at some point, but can't remember what it was.
  184. >You see some smoke coming from the kitchen.
  185. >Wandering in, Vinyl is in a losing battle trying to chop some vegetables.
  186. >The fire is building behind her.
  187. "Hey Vinyl, how are you feeling?"
  188. >She turns, placing the knife on the counter.
  189. >"My fucking chest hurts. And my horn has this annoying buzzing in it now. I'm not feeling to great."
  190. "You can actually feel your horn?"
  191. >"No shit. Can you actually feel all of your fingers? Why would I not be able to feel my horn?"
  192. "I dunno. I figured it was, like, bone. No nerves in it."
  193. >"Nah, doesn't work like that."
  194. >Vinyl returns to work.
  195. >"Besides, numbing is how the drugs work. Can't use your horn if you can't anything with it."
  196. "Huh."
  197. >"Yea. It's a fucking tragedy. If I'm lucky it'll be permanent and I'll never use my horn again. So anyway, I'm cooking dinner, just go sit down and I'll bring it out when I'm done."
  198. >You look at the fire.
  199. "Would you prefer I just order a pizza or something?"
  200. >Vinyl stops and immediately headed into the other room, putting out the fire with a glass of water that was conveniently sitting next to it.
  201. >"Yea, I'll have a cheese pizza. Where do you keep your phone?"
  202.  
  203. >"You know, I think I knew that delivery pony."
  204. "You did?"
  205. >You take a bite of your pizza.
  206. >"We shared a cell together. Good to see she's doing so well for herself. Then again, pegasi sell like hotcakes."
  207. >Vinyl pauses, "If you can control them, that is. I mean, it's a double edged sword. They're very hard to catch if they escape, but being able to fly is incredibly useful."
  208. "Is that why our pizza came so fast?"
  209. >"Yea, you can deliver things a lot faster when you just fly over any obstacles. Hell, sometimes I wish I had wings. They make your life much easier."
  210. "What about magic?"
  211. >Mate, I haven't used my magic in at least a year and a half. Even if I could, I could just use my fucking hooves. You know, the things on the end of my legs?"
  212. >You think for a moment.
  213. "It probably wouldn't make much difference which race you were."
  214. >"It'd probably matter if I was fucking human, now wouldn't it?"
  215. >You bite your lip.
  216. "No, what I mean is, if they don't let you use magic as a unicorn, they're probably not going to let you fly as a pegasus, right?"
  217. >"Right."
  218. "So you should just...I dunno, be you, I guess."
  219. >"I guess that's good advice. Who knows, maybe things will get better. After all, I met you. Got my own bed. Don't get beaten or shouted at. All things considered things aren't to bad right now."
  220. >Vinyl took another bite of her pizza.
  221. >"Course, that'll make it hurt all the more when you send me back. You fucking prick."
  222.  
  223. >"You know, I think you might be on to something. Those clothes really suit you."
  224. >You look at Vinyl, raising an eyebrow.
  225. "Really now? We're doing puns? I thought you were better than that."
  226. >"I've been sitting here for half an hour, you try and think of a joke about a suit. It's not easy. It was either that or compliment how the suit goes with your neck beard and that's not funny because of how grossly grotesque it is."
  227. >You rub your stubble.
  228. >She's just crazy.
  229. >"So what's the occasion?"
  230. "I'm going to the movies."
  231. >You wait a moment.
  232. "Want to come? I imagine it gets kind of boring sitting around the house all day."
  233. >Vinyl stares at you.
  234. >"You realize we're not friends, right? I'm not your roommate. I'm your slave. I was bought like cattle. Our relationship is not something I'd describe as casual."
  235. "Really? Because that's exactly how I'd describe our relationship. You're one of the most chill people...ponies I've ever met."
  236. >Vinyl shrugs. "I guess. Still, it's pretty pathetic to bring your slave to the movies. Don't you have any...you know, actual friends you could bring?"
  237. >Now it's your turn to shrug.
  238. "All my friends are online."
  239. >"That's so depressing I actually feel sorry for you."
  240. "Fuck you."
  241. >"Bite me."
  242. >Vinyl gets up off the couch, stretching like a cat before springing back to her feet. Hooves. Whatever.
  243. >"Alright, if you really want to go through with this, I don't have a choice. When are we going? Now?"
  244.  
  245. >”So what are we actually watching?”
  246. “I was thinking ‘The Return of Nightmare Moon.’ I’ve heard that was really good. Based on a pony folk’s tale as well, so you should enjoy it as well.”
  247. >”Really mate? What are you, an idiot? You’re going to bring me to a movie about the subjection and oppression of my own race?”
  248. >Vinyl’s voice takes on a mocking tone that sounds vaguely similar to yours.
  249. >”Oh boy, I wonder what movie I should take my sweet, innocent Jewish date to. Oh, I know, fucking Schindler’s List! That’s a good idea. And it has Jews in it, so she’ll be able to relate better!”
  250. “That’s actually kind of a clever reference for a pony.”
  251. >”Thanks, I learnt it from another slave for this exact situation.”
  252. “Anyway, I want to watch this movie, so you’re coming with me.”
  253. >”Anything you say, boss.”
  254. >After waiting in line, the two of you come to the cashier.
  255. “Two tickets to that pony movie.”
  256. >The clerk looks at you, and then glances down at Vinyl.
  257. >You think you can see a faint look of disgust on his face.
  258. >”Sorry, sir, ponies need to wait outside.”
  259. “What, why?”
  260. >”It’s unhygienic. The stupid mules track dirt and fleas and shit all over the place. Not to mention the smell, or the room they take up that could be afforded to someone more important. They also distract from the experience. Finally, it’s simply theatre policy to disallow any animals on the premises.”
  261. >You glance over at Vinyl.
  262. >She looks back. “Guess I’ll go wait outside then. Told you this was a bad idea.”
  263. >You grab her before she turns away.
  264. >You’re getting her in this fucking movie.
  265.  
  266. “She’s my medical pony.”
  267. >”Medical pony?” Vinyl and the clerk say in unison.
  268. ”Yea, I have a serious case of…”
  269. >You struggle for something believable.
  270. >”Autism!” Vinyl whispers.
  271. >”Blindness.”
  272. >The clerk chuckles. “Blindness?”
  273. “She’s like a seeing eye dog. You know, I see the world through her eyes.”
  274. >He’s not buying it.
  275. >”Sir, I can clearly see that you’re not blind.”
  276. >Before you can respond, Vinyl cuts in.
  277. >”Look buddy, see this horn on my head? You know what the means? Magic. I cast a sight spell on my owner every couple of hours to restore his vision. It’s a well-documented…thingy.”
  278. >”Sir, please control your pony.”
  279. “She’s, uh, right though. I need her to see. So I guess you’ll need to let us both through.”
  280. >”Do you have any proof of your disability?”
  281. “Proof? You know that’s just a construct of the patriarchy, right? Now give us our tickets before I need to call your manager over here, you pasty teenage cunt.”
  282. >You have a staredown with the clerk.
  283. >It’s like a scene in a cowboy movie before someone gets shot through the chest.
  284. >Or the eyes.
  285. >Eventually, the clerk breaks first.
  286. >”Fine. But if anyone else complains, I’m kicking you out. Got it?”
  287. “Yea, totally.”
  288. >As the two of you walk away, you think you can hear him insult your manhood under his breath.
  289. >Eventually, Vinyl talks.
  290. >”I’m blind, I need someone to see for me?”
  291. “I never claimed to be a quick thinker.”
  292. >”You should have gone with my autism suggestion. He would have never questioned it. On account of it being real.”
  293. "You know, I didn't HAVE to being you along."
  294. >"I don't WANT to come along. All your human media sucks massive horsecock. None of it holds a feather to some of the art we had back in Equestria."
  295. "Did ponies even have movies at all?"
  296. >"We were getting there. It was a blossoming field full of geniuses with no set standards."
  297. "Sounds bold."
  298. >"Bold as shit bro, bold as shit."
  299.  
  300. >The movie itself was okay.
  301. >Even if you didn't have a pony sitting next to you, the CGI was overdone to all hell.
  302. >You kept wondering why they didn't just use a real pony for the main villain.
  303. >Maybe they just didn't want to have a pony in a lead role.
  304. >Vinyl couldn't keep her mouth shut either.
  305. >Kept pointing out inconsistencies and going 'oh, like hell it happened like that'
  306. >You admit, it was interesting to get a differing viewpoint from someone who claimed to be there.
  307. >The commentary stopped halfway through when Vinyl simply finished watching and drifted to sleep.
  308. >You kind of missed her voice for the rest of the movie.
  309. >You didn't realize the movie was absolute shit without it.
  310. >Finally, to your great relief, the movie ends.
  311. >The credits play, accompanied by a fast paced musical score.
  312. >You wake Vinyl up with a slight push.
  313. >She chuckles as she opens her eyes.
  314. "What's so funny?"
  315. >"This song sounds super familiar."
  316. "How so?"
  317. >"I dunno, it just sounds familiar. Like I know how it’s gonna go."
  318. >You stop to listen.
  319. >”Whoever wrote it definitely had pony influences. You hear that humming? You don’t hear that kind of humming on human turntables. You guys like things cleaner, but there’s no emotion in them. No soul.”
  320. >You stand up as you get ready to leave.
  321. >"I swear though, this sounds exactly like something I…”
  322.  
  323. >Vinyl's expression changes from nostalgia to anger.
  324. >"Oh you MOTHERFUCKERS!"
  325. >Some of the other humans look over at Vinyl’s outburst.
  326. >”That’s my fucking song you bastards!”
  327. >Vinyl raises a hoof to kick the chair in front of her, before you reach down and stop her.
  328. >“Let go of me! That’s my song.”
  329. “Shit, calm down Vinyl. What the hell are you talking about?”
  330. >”That’s my song! I wrote it! I recorded it! They have no right to use MY song!”
  331. “They don’t?”
  332. >”No they fucking don’t! It’s mine! How dare they sell my music like it’s…like it’s some kind of public domain amateur bullshit! I deserve better than that!”
  333. “Just calm down Vinyl.”
  334. >”Fuck off! We need to do something about this! Maybe we can call the director, or…or file a complaint or something. I have rights.”
  335. “No you don’t. You’re a sl...a pony.”
  336. >Vinyl opened her mouth to respond, before shutting it.
  337. >”We…we can’t just let this happen. That’s my music. It’s not fair.”
  338. “Why does it matter if it’s your music? It's just a song.”
  339. >Because it’s mine, idiot! I poured my soul into this song and they’re just selling it. They’re selling my soul. It’s…it’s my music. It’s all I had left. It’s who I am. And they’re just selling it. They don’t even know who I am, they probably just thought it sounded cool and it was free so hey, throw it in the movie."
  340. >Vinyl stares at the screen.
  341. >”My music was the only part of me that was free and now they’ve caged it as well. Fucking wonderful. I love this place more every day.”
  342. >You try to respond, but before you do, the clerk from earlier appears.
  343. >”You two, out, now. We’ve received some complaints about a violent pony in here, so next time either discipline the stupid beast or come alone. Now get out.”
  344.  
  345. >”I still think you need to do something about this, man. Come on, just call up the studio, ask them where they got it, that’s all I’m asking. Do it for a friend.
  346. >You close the door behind you.
  347. >Your living room is in a mess, just like you left it.
  348. >Or rather, just like Vinyl left it.
  349. “I thought you said we weren’t friends.”
  350. >”Did I? Look, it doesn’t matter, have a heart, man. I’ll find the number for you, that’s what a slave is for.”
  351. >You consider your options before making your choice.
  352. “Vinyl, stop.”
  353. >She doesn’t stop.
  354. >”Come on, please. Please, I need this.”
  355. “Even if I did call the studio, what am I supposed to say? ‘Oh hey, my sla…my pony wants you to stop using her music in your movies. This is despite the fact that she doesn’t own them anymore and it’s entirely within your legal right to use her music. Furthermore, she thinks the fact that you didn’t track her down personally and ask for permission to use the music she doesn’t own to be entirely disrespectful to her as a person. Pony. Whatever.’ There’s nothing we can do.”
  356. >”Yea, but maybe if we…I dunno, at least tried.”
  357. “No.”
  358. >”Well fuck you then. I’m going to bed, this day has drained any optimism I have about the world enough.”
  359. >You grab her as she walks past you.
  360. “You still need to cook dinner.”
  361. >”Do I have to? Really?”
  362. “Yes.”
  363. >Vinyl stopped, before apparently resolving her conflict.
  364. >”Fine, but I hope you like eating fire, because that’s what I’m cooking.”
  365. >You felt really bad for some reason, but drowned it out by turning on the TV.
  366. >She's only an animal anyway.
  367. >There’s an advertisement for the Auction, and for a second the return policy sounds a little tempting.
  368. >Then you catch yourself.
  369. >Just give it time, everything will work out in the end.
  370. >You just need to go with the flow. Now more than ever.
  371.  
  372. >”Mornin’.”
  373. >You raise a hand as Vinyl passes the couch behind you.
  374. “Morning. I went ahead and cooked you breakfast. Figured I’d let you sleep in after yesterday.”
  375. >Vinyl returned a minute later with a bowl of hay.
  376. >You’d mixed some oats in there as well for good measure.
  377. >”Thanks man, but you really don’t need to watch out for me like this. I’m already over it, just gotta move on, you know?”
  378. >She’s clearly been crying.
  379. “Are you sure? You know it’s fine if you’re not okay.”
  380. >”I’m rarely okay. This is just another thing I have no control over; really, it takes a load off my mind.”
  381. >You shrug and return to your program.
  382. >Vinyl is quick to interrupt you again.
  383. >”I wanna just…apologize for losing my cool anyway. It won’t happen again. I promise, from here on out, you and I are just going to chill, right? We’re not banned from the theater, are we?”
  384. “You are. I’m just not welcomed.”
  385. >”Right, right, I should have guessed. They can’t handle a magically gifted, independent, perfectly clean and bitingly witty unicorn like myself.”
  386. >You nod, mostly to appease her.
  387. >”I guess I’ll just…start cleaning then.”
  388. “Sounds like what I bought you to do.”
  389. >”And yet, to the casual observer, it would seem that I actually clean very little around here.”
  390. “That’s probably because you don’t. You know you can’t just cram everything in the third drawer down forever.”
  391. >”It’s fine; I removed the bottom, so the third drawer is now the third and fourth drawer.”
  392.  
  393. >Dinner time.
  394. >Vinyl was cooking again.
  395. >You had a bucket prepared for the inevitable fire.
  396. >You swear she did it on purpose.
  397. >Though you didn’t have any proof other than the fact that every single time she’s cooked it resulted in fire.
  398. >The roof above your stove is turning black.
  399. >”Give me ten minutes, that’s all it takes baby.”
  400. “Just try not to ignite anything this time, okay?”
  401. >”You worry too much, just let it happen.”
  402. >There’s a knock at your door.
  403. >Very odd, considering you don’t have any friends, you lonely loser.
  404. “I’ll be back, don’t burn anything.”
  405. >You head through the living room, swinging the front door open as soon as you can.
  406. >A man you recognize from the auction is standing there, top hat and all.
  407. >”Ah, Mr Anonymous, can we talk for a minute? It’s about your pony.”
  408. >You get a bad feeling in your stomach.
  409.  
  410. “Sure, what’s the problem? I’m not ready to return her, if that’s the issue. I think she’s helpful enough as is.”
  411. >The man shakes his head.
  412. >Nono, that’s perfectly understandable. I just have a couple of questions to ask you.”
  413. >He shakes his hands dismissively. “It’s just part of an investigation we’re doing concerning a string of break-ins on our property. You’re not even legally required to answer if you don’t want to.”
  414. “Nah, that’s fine, ask away.”
  415. >”Excellent. Do you keep a close eye on your pony? Do you have surveillance? Is there any chance it could be getting out at night?”
  416. “Well, I usually go to bed first, so I suppose it’s technically possible. I don’t lock her up and I don’t have any cameras either, so I wouldn’t know if she was. I don’t think she would though; Vinyl is a pretty obedient pony.
  417. >”Have you noticed any odd behaviour from your pony? Any unexplained lethargy or tiredness? Any bruises or wounds that you don’t remember inflicting? Have you found anything that could be used as a weapon?”
  418. “I suppose she does sleep a lot, but that’s never interfered with her duties. I think she’s just lazy. No bruises either. She does seem constantly dirty though, but that’s probably because she doesn’t bathe often. And she’s in charge of cooking, so she has easy access to knives and other cooking things, I guess.”
  419. >”Have you been feeding it magic suppressants for the last month?”
  420. >It completely slipped your mind.
  421. “No.”
  422. >”Very risky move, that. Magic’s no play thing. Are you certain you know what you’re doing?”
  423. “I’ll be fine.”
  424. >”As long as you’re sure. One last question, do you recognize this place?”
  425. >The man passes you a photograph of a large warehouse.
  426. “Nope, never seen it before in my life.”
  427. >”Alright, that’ll be all then. Thank you for your time.”
  428.  
  429. “Can I ask you a couple questions, real quick before you leave?”
  430. >”Sure.”
  431. “Why Vinyl?”
  432. >”We keep a close tab on ponies like yours. They have a tendency to be troublemakers.”
  433. “Who, my pony?”
  434. >”Oh yes. Frequent returnee’s like it always carry some kind of trouble with them.”
  435. “Frequent? How frequent are we talking?”
  436. >”I’d say it comes back to the Auction at least three, four times a year. Once it was returned the same day it was bought, that’s a new record.”
  437. “Huh. What was the reason?”
  438. >”It stabbed the guy. We nearly took its horn for that one. Let it keep it because it’s a really creative beggar.”
  439. “I see. These break-ins, am I allowed to know anything about those?”
  440. >”Unfortunately, no. Everything is currently under investigation.”
  441. “Alright. One last question…”
  442. >You just needed to know, just in case.
  443. “If I were to return Viny… my pony…”
  444. >”You’d receive a small sum of your money back, of course, and we’d re-auction it to a different owner after suitable punishments.”
  445. “Okay, thank you, that’s all.”
  446.  
  447. >You return to the fire.
  448. >Amazingly, the source of the fire appears to be a pot of plain water.
  449. >Vinyl is casually heating the oven.
  450. >”Who was that?”
  451. “Just a man from the Auction. Wanted to ask me some questions about you.”
  452. >”About me? What do they think I’ve done? Hell, how could I have done anything this time, I’ve only left the house once.”
  453. “This time?”
  454. >Vinyl grabs some water from a nearby bench.
  455. >”I’ll tell you later. People have got a grudge against me because I have a ‘bad attitude’ apparently.”
  456. “Did you really stab a guy?”
  457. >”They told you about that? I tripped into a guy. He took it the wrong way and thought I was trying to kill him. Like killing someone would help.”
  458. >Vinyl puts the water over the fire, “You wanna know what happens to pony murderers? We get ‘put down.’ We get one, two days of freedom running from the law and then we die. Shit ain’t fair.”
  459. “Sounds extreme.”
  460. >”I know, right?”
  461. >You watch as the fire slowly fizzles out.
  462. “Can I ask you something, Vinyl?”
  463. >“Again, I am a slave. You can do anything you want to me. Anything.”
  464. “Can you use magic? Like, right now?”
  465. >”Why would I…”
  466. “Because I haven’t been feeding you anything. Surely by now you should be able to feel something up there, right?”
  467. >Vinyl raises an eyebrow.
  468. >”I’ve been taking the drugs myself, Anon. You don’t need to worry about that.”
  469.  
  470. “What, why?”
  471. >”They don’t just block magic. You damn humans made the things addictive to all hell. At this point I’m afraid the withdrawal will kill me. So yay, another thing to look forward to. Beatings, rape, hard labour and at the end of the day I can look forward to a painful death of drug withdrawal.”
  472. >Vinyl knocks her head sideways.
  473. >”You didn’t know this? You are a shit slave owner. What would you have done if I’d used a mind control spell or something?”
  474. “Can you use a mind control spell?”
  475. >”Yes. It makes you think I’m actually working when really I’ve been standing behind you watching you watch Netflix for the last three hours.”
  476. “Boy, you use that one a lot.”
  477. >”More than you realize.”
  478.  
  479. >You couldn't sleep that night.
  480. >There was a nagging thought in the back of your mind.
  481. >You trusted Vinyl.
  482. >Right?
  483. >So there was no problem.
  484. >None at all.
  485. >The clock keeps ticking in the furthest corners of the house.
  486. >Eventually, you decide to get up.
  487. >No point wasting time lying in bed if you can't sleep.
  488. >Your feet carry you to the kitchen.
  489. >It takes a few minutes, but you quickly locate Vinyl's...uh, medication.
  490. >She'd moved them in the time you'd spent together.
  491. >You count through the pills.
  492. >There are less than before.
  493. >The fact that she's not lying fills you with a bit of relief.
  494. >You decide to head back to bed.
  495. >The door to Vinyl's room passes you on your left.
  496. >It occurs to you that you've never really been in her room.
  497. >Being a spare room, you're used to simply ignoring it.
  498. >You peek inside, just to sate curiosity.
  499. >Vinyl's not there.
  500. >You quickly search the house.
  501. >She's gone.
  502.  
  503. >Eventually, you hear the front door open.
  504. >You’ve settled on the couch to wait.
  505. >You don’t know what you’re waiting for.
  506. >It’s been hours.
  507. >The sun is rising.
  508. >You stand up as Vinyl enters the room.
  509. >You’d say she looks like a deer in the headlights, but honestly?
  510. >She has the same smug expression she always has.
  511. >”Shit bro, you’re up early. Couldn’t sleep? I know the feeling, let me get you a glass of water, I hear that helps.”
  512. >You’re not sure what to say.
  513. >So you just say what’s on your mind.
  514. “Vinyl, where were you?”
  515. >”Just outside, dude, don’t worry.”
  516. “Don’t tell me not to worry. This is serious, I need to know.”
  517. >”It’s not important.”
  518. “Really? Sneaking out at night to go and… and do whatever you’re doing is not important? Do I need to lock you inside your room each night just to be sure? Like a sla… like an animal? I trusted you, Vinyl.”
  519. >”Well, it’s made you look like the fool now, hasn’t it?”
  520. “Fuck you.”
  521. >”Bite me.”
  522. >You glare at her.
  523.  
  524. >”Look, why does it matter? I’m not hurting anyone.”
  525. “I don’t want to lose you, Vinyl. I…I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
  526. >”Big words from a guy who’s going to send me back.”
  527. “Stop saying that! When have I ever shown even the slightest sign of thinking that? When have I ever mistrusted you or treated you badly? Why do you keep thinking I’m going to sell you back to the Auction?”
  528. >Vinyl doesn’t say anything.
  529. >”It’s not what you think.”
  530. “Really? Because I find that hard to believe right now. I looked at your bed, it’s covered in dust. Have you even used it once since you got here?”
  531. >”I don’t sleep well anymore.”
  532. >You run a hand through your hair.
  533. “Just…look, I don’t need to know what you’re doing or why. But please, just tell me, are you in danger? Is it illegal? Do I need to stop you?”
  534. >”I promise you. I’ve done nothing wrong. I don’t know what you think I’m doing, but I’m not the one doing it. Please, just trust me this one time. I’ll stop if you order it, but it’ll kill me. I’m not hurting anyone.”
  535. “I’m not going to stop you. But if you hurt yourself, I’m not going to help you either. You’re not going to wrap me up in this. Understand?”
  536. >”Please, I don’t want you wrapped up in this. It’s too personal at this point.”
  537.  
  538. >The day passed quickly.
  539. >Neither you of talked about the elephant in the room.
  540. >You stuck around to watch Vinyl leave this time.
  541. >She didn’t.
  542. >She just fell asleep on the couch waiting for you to go to bed.
  543. >She didn’t leave the next day either.
  544. >Finally, you decide to humour her and go to bed early.
  545. >You hear the door open and close as you lie down.
  546. >You can’t sleep though.
  547. >There’s something inside you.
  548. >A weight. A fear.
  549. >And something more.
  550. >You can’t believe you actually feel scared for a sl…pony.
  551. >You’re such a pussy bitch, Vinyl is right.
  552. >Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll cop a punishment as well if she gets caught.
  553. >You can’t handle it.
  554. >You grab your coat.
  555. >It’s going to be cold outside.
  556. >The weather is misty, bringing a white fog down your street.
  557. >Gripping the doorknob, you pull the door open and take a few steps out into your garden.
  558. >You stop when you see Vinyl.
  559. >She’s simply lying on her back on the grass, staring up at the sky.
  560. >You worry she might be hurt for a second, but she appears fine.
  561. >She doesn’t react as you walk closer.
  562. >She looks strangely serene.
  563. >For once, she smiles as you lean over her.
  564. >”I thought you said you didn’t want to be a part of this.”
  565. “I thought you said you didn’t want me to a part of this.”
  566. >”I’m a slave. You’re free to do anything you want with me.”
  567.  
  568. >”Which way do you think Equestria is?”
  569. “Excuse me?”
  570. >”My home. If I had to run away, which direction do you think I would run?”
  571. >You think.
  572. “I don’t think Equestria is anywhere on Earth. To be honest, I don’t even know where you ponies came from or how you got here.”
  573. >”That’s what I thought, but…
  574. >She pauses.
  575. >”You know, it’s funny. Earth and Equestria, they both have the same sky. Same constellations, same stars.”
  576. >She points into the sky above her.
  577. >”Over there you have the two princesses.”
  578. >She moves her hoof.
  579. >”Starswirl the Bearded.”
  580. >Her hoof tracks across the night sky.
  581. >”Ursa Major and Minor. The Trio of Races. The Rainboom. Discord’s Cluster.”
  582. >She lets her hoof drop.
  583. >”But of course, you have different names for all these.”
  584. >She closes her eyes.
  585. >”When I see these stars, dude, it hurts me so much.”
  586. “Why’s that?”
  587. >”Why do you fucking think? I just feel it, constantly, all the time. It’s so overpowering and physical. I feel like I’m dying, constantly, over and over again. Whenever I think of all the things I’ll never see again. When I think of my fucking life, dude. It’s like a pain in my chest, just building and building until I can’t take it anymore. But when I see these stars, it hurts less than that pain.”
  588.  
  589. >She opens her eyes. “I try to just ignore it by cracking jokes and insulting people, but it never goes away. But these stars, man, they’re still the same. They’re the only familiar thing I have.”
  590. >”I miss my home. When I think of all the ponies I’ll never see again, all the places I’ll never visit, I miss home. I miss my own house. I miss my own town. I miss my marefriend. I miss feeling the familiar ground beneath my feet. Shit, I even miss the small shit that doesn’t matter. I miss owning sunglasses, I had a fabulous pair of sunglasses. I miss being able to walk to the end of my own street. I miss being referred to as ‘she’ by everyone except you. But this sky?”
  591. >”I need something familiar to survive.”
  592. “Do you need my help?”
  593. >”What can you fucking do? We just go with the flow, the two of us. Try to pretend this messed up world doesn’t bother us. The fact you came out here shows it affects you just as much as it affects me. You couldn’t even muster up the will to lock a door. You don’t care about anything here as much as I do.”
  594. >She sighs, “That attitude’ll kill me too. I can’t keep pretending, not forever. Things aren’t okay and they’re not getting better. I’m not getting better. I’m never going home and I’m probably going to be a slave the rest of my life. One day it’s going to finally get to me. One day my owner will wake up, and I won’t be there. I wouldn’t want to bother them with the mess.”
  595.  
  596. “I care about you. I just don’t…I mean, I don’t…”
  597. >”I understand, bro, but you’re hardly the first to make that claim. You’re a human, it’s natural to want to protect your investment.”
  598. “That’s not it and you know it. Is that why you think I’m going to take you back? Because you’ve been taken back before?”
  599. >”Please, do you honestly think you’re the second owner I’ve had? Or the fifth? Open both your hands, you’re not even close. I’ve been returned more than anyone else.”
  600. “Why?”
  601. >Vinyl shrugs, “Bad attitude, no skills, suppressant addiction, hell, I’ve nearly burned down your house multiple times now. Take your pick. Everyone sends me back, eventually. I’m like the pony they send people so they say ‘oh, this pony is pretty bad, but at least she’s not as bad as the first one I had.’ Plus, I think on some level, I want to get returned.”
  602. “Really?”
  603. >”I used to think, you know, maybe if I got returned enough, they stop bothering with me. Decide I wasn’t worth the trouble and they’re send me back home. But…”
  604. “They’d probably just kill you instead.”
  605. “Yea.”
  606. >The grass clings to your back as you sit up.
  607. >”What a sorry lot in life I’ve been given. Being a slave sucks.”
  608. “I could try and make things better for you. I mean, it’s worth a shot.”
  609. >”Better how? You gonna change the laws? Give me my music back? Send me home? What can you possibly do to make things better for me?”
  610. “I…don’t know. Maybe we could fix your addi…”
  611. >”Exactly. Things aren’t getting better. Not for me.”
  612.  
  613. “Are you crying?”
  614. >Vinyl quickly rubs her eyes.
  615. >”What? No. It’s just…I promised I wouldn’t lose my cool again, and yet here we are.”
  616. “You know, I nearly thought it was you.”
  617. >”Thought what was?”
  618. “The person who’s behind all those breaking and entering’s at the Auction. I thought maybe you were sneaking out to find a way home, but instead you’ve been doing this? Just reminiscing about the life you had?”
  619. >”It was a fucking great life though, and you took it from me. You know that song? I performed that song in front of thousands. I had a soul-mate who genuinely loved me for who I was and not because I pretended to be this super chill pony I’m not. I could use magic freely. Life was fucking wonderful, and now it’s gone forever. And this is the shit I have to replace it. I’m…I’m not ready to let those memories slip away. Not yet.”
  620. >You don’t say anything.
  621. >Vinyl doesn’t seem to want to hear anything either.
  622. >The water is starting to freeze your back.
  623. “Can I ask you something, Vinyl?”
  624. >”Slave.”
  625. “Right, sorry. When I first brought you, I asked how long you’d been here. Do you even know? How long have you been carrying these memories that hurt you so much around?”
  626. >”It’s been years. I stopped counting after five. It must be closer to seven or eight now. Maybe nine.”
  627. “Maybe it’s time to move on.”
  628. >Vinyl doesn’t say anything.
  629. “Maybe it’s time to make the best out of what you have now, with me, instead of just reacting and reminiscing. Maybe it’s time to stop going with the flow and settle on the banks instead of praying you’ll somehow end up further upstream.”
  630. >”I’m…I’m not ready to forget them.”
  631. “You don’t need to. You just need to stop chasing them.”
  632. >”They still hurt though. They hurt so bad I can’t sleep.”
  633. “Because you let them hurt.”
  634. >”Boy, that’s a nice self-help mind over matter tid bit, but I have actual problems here that can’t be solved by crappy pseudoscience.”
  635. “I understand. I’ll leave you alone now. I’m sorry I ruined your…thing. Just, consider it for me.”
  636. >And with that, you went back inside.
  637.  
  638. >”Hey Anon, I’m gonna ask you a question and I want you to be completely straight with me.”
  639. >You looked up from your breakfast.
  640. >Vinyl had at least made an effort to not burn it this time, but you couldn’t be sure why.
  641. >It could have had something to do with last night, but you couldn’t be sure.
  642. “Sure, what’s up?”
  643. >”I noticed something…unusual in the kitchen. Specifically, something was missing.”
  644. “And what would that be?”
  645. >”Withdrawal hasn’t hit me yet so I’m not going to tell you stop acting like a fucking douchebag. Where are my pills? You know, the magic suppressing ones? The ones I need to live? Where are they?”
  646. >You pause.
  647. “Nope, not a clue.”
  648. >Vinyl takes a few steps forward.
  649. >For a second you’re afraid she’s going to knock your plate to the ground, but she restrains herself.
  650. >”Where the fuck are they, Anon?”
  651. >You raise both your hands.
  652. “Look, this is for your own good.”
  653. >”Bullshit. Everything was fine, mate! Is fine! You don’t need to do this. I don’t need my magic this badly, so just give them back.”
  654. “No. You’re quitting.”
  655. >”Anon, I’ll die! I’ve been taking them for years, I can’t just go cold turkey.”
  656. “From now on, I’m in charge of administering your suppressants, and I’m going to slowly ween you off them. Understand?”
  657. >Vinyl struggles for words. “No, this is bullshit. I just…you can’t... This is why you have no friends.”
  658. “Fuck you.”
  659. >”Bite me.”
  660.  
  661. >Four days have passed.
  662. >You’ve never tried to break someone’s drug addiction before, so you’ve been reading as much about it as you can online.
  663. >You’ve been keeping a close eye on Vinyl as well.
  664. >In case she has a heart attack or something, of course.
  665. >Not because of…any other reason.
  666. >She’s not coping well.
  667. >She’s sweaty, lethargic and occasionally throws up.
  668. >You, uh, gave her a bucket.
  669. >You assume she’s a unique case in her withdrawal, considering she told you how long ago it’s been since her first dose.
  670. >Needless to say, it wasn’t recent.
  671. >Hopefully though, you’ve found something to take her mind off the cravings.
  672. “Hey Vinyl, I’ve got some great news for you.”
  673. >”Are you going to drug me?”
  674. “No.”
  675. >”Are you going to shoot me?
  676. “No.”
  677. >”Then fuck off. I don’t want to hear your fucking shitty ass high pitched girls voice, you emasculated pussy faggot.”
  678. >You stare at her.
  679. “Fine then, I guess I won’t tell you that there might be a way for you to gain ownership of your music again. I’ll just leave you to your misery then.”
  680.  
  681. >“No wait, wait wait wait, what was that?
  682. “Interested now?”
  683. >”I can…get my music back? Legally? So it’s mine again?”
  684. “Legally, it becomes mine but I don’t think it would be fair to do anything with it without consulting you.”
  685. >”Alright, start from…”
  686. >Vinyl grabs her chest in pain and throws up a little.
  687. >”Alright, start from the top. What the hell?”
  688. “I’ve been talking with this lawyer online, he specializes in copyright. Usually, when a song enters public domain, it’s permanent, but because of your…unique circumstances…”
  689. >”The fact that I was kidnapped and forced into slavery against my will and everything I own taken from me?”
  690. “Yea, that. Because of that, there’s this loophole we can abuse to regain its copyright.”
  691. >Vinyl grins through the pain.
  692. >”So fucking do it, mate. Give me back my soul.”
  693. “There’s just one small issue.”
  694. >”Isn’t there always?”
  695. “We need to prove you actually wrote it. That you’re the original owner.”
  696. >Vinyl raises a hoof and bites her lip.
  697. >”Oh, well that’s just fucking fantastic isn’t it then, you fucking prick. Are you forgetting I don’t HAVE any proof? That all the original scores, all the original recordings, the instruments, the microphones, everything I owned is under some burning rubble in Ponyville.”
  698. “You named your town Ponyville?”
  699. >”Not right now, you fuck.”
  700. “C’mon, surely you have something?”
  701. >”Unless one of my fans brought my album to Earth, no, I don’t.”
  702. >Well shit.
  703. >That put a damper on your plans.
  704. >Unless…
  705. >A plan was starting to form in your mind.
  706. >It was crazy, but it was all you had right now.
  707.  
  708. “What if we got their word?”
  709. >”What?”
  710. “Your fans. What if we got their word that the music was yours?”
  711. >”What?”
  712. “No no, think about it, how many ponies are there in this city alone? There must be thousands by now, maybe millions. Surely some of them must recognize you! What if we made them a witness of fact? If enough ponies confirm that the song is yours, surely that has to count for something. It must be some kind of evidence.”
  713. >Vinyl raised her hoof, vomited, and then pointed at you. “There’s no way that will ever work.”
  714. “You said you performed for thousands, there must be someone.”
  715. >”So what? You’re just going to go knocking door to door and saying ‘oh hey, does your pony recognize this washed up musician from ten years ago and is willing to sign this petition to help her get her music back? What’s that, your pony can’t even talk because it’s so hyped up on drugs it doesn’t even know where it is? Sorry then, I’ll try your fucking neighbours.’”
  716. “Do you have a better idea? I’m trying to help you, Vinyl.”
  717. >”Right now, the only way you can help me is by shoving either lead or pills down my throat. Now fuck off. You’re making this whole withdrawal thing harder than it needs to be.”
  718. “I’m not giving up on this. It’s worth a shot, even if there’s nearly no way it’ll work. After all, what if it does?”
  719. >Vinyl chuckled.
  720. >”What if, indeed?”
  721.  
  722. >You woke up to something hitting you in the face.
  723. >Surprisingly, this is not how you usually wake up.
  724. >Dragging it off your face, you see it’s a pair of your underpants.
  725. >As your eyes adjust to the darkness, you see Vinyl digging through your drawers.
  726. >She’s throwing clothes around in a frenzy.
  727. >She notices you as you sit up.
  728. >Her eyes are bloodshot.
  729. >”Oh good, sorry, didn’t mean to wake you. I couldn’t sleep. Though know that you’re awake, you can help me with something.”
  730. >Her eyes narrow.
  731. >”Where are the fucking suppressants?”
  732. “Vinyl…”
  733. >”Don’t give me that. They’re in here, I know it. I’ve already searched the entire house and this is the only place left. So where are they?”
  734. >You shrug.
  735. “Go back to bed, Vinyl. Or stargazing. Whatever you usually do at this time.”
  736. >You feel something poking into your side.
  737. >Vinyl is pressing her horn against your ribs.
  738. >”Where are they?”
  739. “You won’t stab me.”
  740. >”I’m dying. I’ll do anything I need to. My horn aches, my chest is burning, my eyes feel like something is stabbing them and I can’t feel my legs. Do you know how fucking hard it is to walk when you can’t feel your legs?”
  741. “That’s actually intentional. See, the withdrawal effects purposefully include the numbing of your legs so that escaped unicorns can’t regain their magic without losing the ability to walk and being subsequently caught and supressed again.”
  742. >”Fucking fascinating. You couldn’t have told me I was going to go through this earlier?”
  743. “I was going to do it when it came up so you wouldn’t needlessly worry.”
  744. >”Look, just give me the pills, and we can both go back to bed. That’s all I want, okay? I just want to feel normal again.”
  745. “You may as well stab me, because I’m making you stick to this whether it kills either of us.”
  746. >You wait a moment, until the poking disappears.
  747. “Go back to bed, Vinyl.”
  748. >”Bite me.”
  749. >You hear the door to your room slam shut.
  750. >Seems you’re going to need to invest a lock from now on, just in case she gets worse.
  751.  
  752. “I’m going out, Vinyl. Are you going to be okay?”
  753. >”Yea, dude, I feel great. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been crippled with pain for the last six goddamn hours. You go ahead, do whatever you want. It’s your right as a human.”
  754. “Oh, piss off. If you didn’t die in the last six hours I doubt it’ll happen in the next one.”
  755. >”Why’d you ask then?”
  756. >You don’t say anything in response.
  757. >”Maybe you should give me some suppressants just to be sure, eh?”
  758. “Later, Vinyl.”
  759. >”Later.”
  760. >You returned half an hour later with your present.
  761. >It had taken a while to find a pair you think she’d like.
  762. >You realize how odd all this would be to someone else.
  763. >A human running around at a pony’s beck and call, doing everything they could to make them happy.
  764. >It was practically unheard of.
  765. >The door swings open under your hand.
  766. >Vinyl doesn’t react as you enter the room.
  767. >She doesn’t move at all, actually.
  768. >You get closer and see she’s still breathing.
  769. >That’s relieving.
  770. >She’s just asleep. Not…
  771. >You wake her up, to her annoyance.
  772.  
  773. >”I swear to whatever inferior deity your people worship, if you woke me up for nothing I am burning this house to the ground with you and I inside it.”
  774. “I got you a present.”
  775. >”No matter how many times I say it, you don’t really understand it, do you? I am a slave. You don’t give your slaves presents.”
  776. “I just thought you might appreciate something to make you feel a little more at home. Plus you could consider it a reward for not hurting me last night. You’re stronger than you think and you deserve better, you’ll get through anything that happens. Just remember that.”
  777. >Pulling them out of your pocket, you hold the sunglasses by the frames.
  778. “What do you think? I got them tinted blue, to match your hair colour. That way, you’ll always know they’re yours. Now, they don’t make sunglasses for ponies, so I’m afraid you’ll have to balance them on your…nose? Muzzle?”
  779. >”Muzzle. That’s how it worked back home anyway.”
  780. “So what do you think?”
  781. >Vinyl looks over them carefully, focusing on the rectangular frames that held the lens.
  782. >“They look absolutely nothing like the ones I used back home. Maybe that’s a good thing. New world, new look, eh? I love them already. You really shouldn’t have done this though. I’m not used to this.”
  783. “Better adapt quick then, because I’m not stopping here.”
  784.  
  785. >The door slams in your face.
  786. >You haven’t found a single pony that recognizes Vinyl, of the few that were actually allowed to see her at all.
  787. >Vinyl gives you a smug look as you head back out onto the street.
  788. >”One more in a row and you owe me fifty bits.”
  789. >Why did you even accept that bet?
  790. >Fifty dollars said that you’d get a door slammed in your face ten times in a row.
  791. >If you got even a single name to testify on Vinyl’s behalf, she’d give you fifty dollars.
  792. >Vinyl didn’t even own fifty dollars, so there’s no way you could win.
  793. “We just need to keep trying. This’ll work, I know it. I can feel it deep within my soul. I can help you.”
  794. >”Whatever you say boss, just be prepared to fork over when the next house slams the door in your face.”
  795. >You open the gate leading up to the houses door.
  796. >As you walk though, Vinyl stops you with her hoof.
  797. >She stops you a lot, on account of the numbness, but she would never refuse you.
  798. >This time though, it’s different.
  799. >”Can I just ask you why, dude?”
  800. “Why what?”
  801. >”Why are you trying so hard to help me?”
  802. >You already know the answer.
  803. >But you don’t say it.
  804.  
  805. >Instead, you say this.
  806. “Because you made me realize something. You were right. Things aren’t getting better in this messed up world. I don’t know what to do about your slavery. I don’t know what to do about your homesickness, or your nightmares. I don’t know what to do about the Auction, or the laws, or all the things I can’t change. But going with the flow is only going to make things worse. Things are only going to get better if we make them get better. If we stop going with the flow and start to row back. The only way we can change anything is if we stop reacting and start pushing back and saying ‘no, this is wrong and I won’t sit by while it happens.’”
  807. >You breath in.
  808. “And it’s not going to be easy, but we need to stick to it. We need to actually try. There are some things we can’t change, but we need to change the things we can. And then, maybe, the things we can’t will become the things we can, a little at a time. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? And I’ll start by changing you.”
  809. >”But why me?”
  810. “Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Besides, I…well, I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. You’re my friend.”
  811. >You end the conversation there.
  812. >Vinyl would have given you fifty dollars, but she coincidently didn’t have her wallet with her.
  813.  
  814. “Alright, just give it a shot.”
  815. >”Mate, piss off. I’m not ready for this.”
  816. “The internet said you should have had some kind of reaction by now, and I’m worried your magic might not be returning as well as it should. Now lift the can.”
  817. >Vinyl picks up the can with her hoof.
  818. >”Done.”
  819. “Oh, I don’t see what I was worried abou—use your magic! Lift it with your horn.”
  820. >Vinyl stabs the can.
  821. >”Done.”
  822. “Okay, clearly we need to try a different approach.”
  823. >In one quick movement, you reach down and grab her glasses off her face.
  824. >You place them on your face.
  825. >”Hey, give those back!”
  826. >Vinyl tries to reach up to take them, but your superior human height makes it impossible for her.
  827. >She’s not even tall enough standing on two legs.
  828. “Come on, you want your glasses right? Take them back.”
  829. >”C’mon, dude. This isn’t funny. Give them back.”
  830. “Boy, these are really comfortable. Maybe I should get a pair of my own.”
  831. >You swat one off her hooves down.
  832. >”Dude, c’mon.”
  833. “Take them back.”
  834. >Vinyl returns to four hooves.
  835. >”Fine.”
  836. >Vinyl scrunches her nose.
  837. >It’s so cute you don’t notice something happening to her horn.
  838.  
  839. >If your vision wasn’t currently tinted blue, you might have noticed the blue aura expanding around her forehead.
  840. >If your vision wasn’t tinted blue, you might have noticed the blue aura expanding around your body.
  841. >It wasn’t until you looked down and noticed Vinyl seemed to be getting smaller that you realized something was wrong.
  842. >You couldn’t feel the ground under your feet anymore.
  843. >Vinyl was levitating you off the ground.
  844. “Huh.”
  845. >Slowly, she rotates you so that your head is in front of hers.
  846. >”These are mine.”
  847. >Vinyl takes her glasses back.
  848. >She then rotates you back the right way up.
  849. “Well, I don’t know what I was worried about then.”
  850. >”Yea, neither do I. Everything’s working fine. Thanks for the help.”
  851. >Vinyl turns to leave.
  852. >You’re still being pulled along in front of her.
  853. >Unfortunately, there’s a wall to your left.
  854. >You slam into it with more force than you’d expect.
  855. >There’s a loud snap.
  856. >Vinyl immediately drops you.
  857. >”Oh shit, oh shit, don’t hurt me, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.”
  858. “I’m fine.”
  859. >You’re not fine.
  860. >You think she broke a rib.
  861. >”I forgot to put you down, I’m so sorry. I’m not used to… I’m sorry.”
  862. “It’s fine, Vinyl. It’s fine. I’ll be alright.”
  863.  
  864. >The good news is you actually were fine.
  865. >The snapping was just the sound of your body colliding with a picture on the wall.
  866. >Other than a bruise, you were more or less intact.
  867. >Which was good, because you had a feeling that the hospital would have a few words to say to a pony that broke someone’s rib.
  868. >Also, Vinyl had her magic back, so that was that.
  869. >You hadn’t quite realized it would be as powerful as it was, but hey, she’s never seemed happier.
  870. >And now it was the big day.
  871. >You were ready to try and get Vinyl’s music back.
  872. >You’d gathered up what you hoped was enough names, easily a couple dozen. Maybe a high hundred.
  873. >It had been hard, but you were certain this was going to work.
  874. >Your lawyer had said to mail him the list so he could use it as evidence in the Copyright Office, so you had.
  875. >There was nothing left to do now.
  876. >”I still think we should have gotten more.”
  877. “Not gonna find many more unless we start driving to other towns.”
  878. >”Then we should have driven to other towns.”
  879. “Everything will be fine, Vinyl.”
  880. >”But what if it doesn’t?”
  881. “Then we move on and find another way to help. Hey, maybe we could track down your girlfriend! Get the two of you together again.”
  882. >Vinyl smiles forcefully, “It’s been nearly a decade, mate. I don’t think she’d like the pony I’ve become. Odds are we’ve both changed too much.”
  883. “Nonsense, do you still love her?”
  884. >”Well, it’s been so long…”
  885. “Do you?”
  886. >”I don’t know anymore. I just don’t know. I barely even remember what she looks like, only that we were in love.”
  887. “You miss her though?”
  888. >”I miss everything, Anon. But maybe if she was still here…things wouldn’t be so bad.”
  889. “Then let’s find her. First the music, then the girl, then the future.”
  890.  
  891. >You woke up to something poking you in the side.
  892. >Luckily, Vinyl was kind enough to make sure it was your none-bruised side.
  893. >You don’t even bother opening your eyes.
  894. “Vinyl, you can’t have any more suppressants. Go to bed. We’ve already done this.”
  895. >”Can I sleep with you tonight? I don’t like my bed.”
  896. “There’s only room for one in mine.”
  897. >”You better move over then, bitch.”
  898. >Your eyes open as Vinyl climbs onto your chest.
  899. >You awkwardly shuffle to the left so she can fit in.
  900. >She squeezes beneath the covers.
  901. >”So, I bet I’m the first girl you’ve slept with.”
  902. “Go to sleep, Vinyl.”
  903. >”Right, right, sleep.”
  904. >She places a hoof across your chest.
  905. >”You know, you’re probably the nicest human I’ve met. “
  906. >Her leg is starting to rub against you.
  907. >”You never hurt me, or shout at me. You don’t make me do anything I don’t and you’ve never even tried to…to rape me. You’re doing all these things for me and I’ve never even thanked you. Properly or improperly. I feel so fucking bad, like I don’t deserve to be here, but you keep telling me it’s not a mistake and I don’t know how to feel.”
  908. >She stops.
  909. >”You’re not ever going to send me back, are you?”
  910. “Why would you even still think that?”
  911. >”I just wanted to make sure.”
  912. >Vinyl leans over and gives you a kiss.
  913.  
  914. >She pulls back.
  915. >You stare at her.
  916. >She stares at you.
  917. >A line of saliva connects you.
  918. >You’re not sure what to say.
  919. “Are you coming on to me?”
  920. >Vinyl stares at you some more.
  921. >”No shit, moron.”
  922. “But what about your girlfriend?”
  923. >”What about her? She’ll never know. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes. You deserve this.”
  924. “But…but we can’t do this.”
  925. >”Why not? I’ve seen the way you look at me. You want me, don’t you?”
  926. >You don’t have an answer.
  927. >She’s completely right.
  928. >Vinyl’s just lying there, running a hoof down her body and giving you the ol bedroom eyes.
  929. >”Come on, are you too much of a pussy to pound mine, you needle dick?”
  930. >Holy shit.
  931. >You’re so hard.
  932. “F-fuck you.”
  933. >You’re starting to panic.
  934. >”Bite me~.”
  935. >That’s the breaking point.
  936. >You quickly get out bed and hurry into the next room.
  937. >You try to collect your thoughts.
  938. >Just go in there and fuck that horse, you pussy.
  939. >It’s what you want, right?
  940. >Just do it.
  941. >Except…something stops you.
  942.  
  943. >You sit down on the couch.
  944. >Vinyl comes in a moment later.
  945. >She’s obviously flustered.
  946. >She doesn’t say anything as she sits down next to you.
  947. >You don’t say anything either.
  948. >Eventually, she finds the courage.
  949. >”Is it…is it because I’m a pony? Is that it? You still don’t think of me as a human, I’m still just a thing to you?”
  950. “No.”
  951. >”Am I not pretty? I could wear my mane differently. Or you could just put a bag over my head like one of my owners did.”
  952. “Don’t talk like that.”
  953. >”Is it the insults? I can tone them down for you.”
  954. “I’ve been called worse.”
  955. >”Then what the fuck is it, huh? Why won’t you let me love you!”
  956. >Your shoulder’s sag.
  957. “I don’t want you to feel like you owe me this. Like this is some kind of grand reward you have no choice in.”
  958. >”Of course it’s not like that, Anon. I want this, I honestly do.”
  959. “Really?”
  960. >Her smile breaks slightly, “Well, I mean, it’s not like I’m a virgin. I’ve done this all before. But I…I think I love you. I want this.”
  961. “Do you?”
  962. >”I…I just want to make you happy. Make us happy. Why are you fighting this so hard, just let me love you! I love you! Please!”
  963. >You smile.
  964. “Do you really love me?”
  965. >”YES!”
  966. “I just wanted to make sure.”
  967. >You lean over and give her a kiss.
  968. >The door to your bedroom slams shut behind you as you both go in.
  969.  
  970. “So…so how does this…”
  971. >”Do you want me to lead?”
  972. >You nod.
  973. >”Just sit down on the bed then. I know what to do.”
  974. >You do.
  975. >Vinyl lightly pushes your legs apart.
  976. >With her teeth, she grabs the rim of your pants and pulls them down.
  977. >Just enough so they won’t get in the way.
  978. >There’s a noticeable bulge in your underpants.
  979. >”Well, while I’m down here. Haha, just kidding, I’m always down here; I’m half your size.”
  980. >Before you can respond, Vinyl’s mouth is on the rim of your underpants.
  981. >With a single motion, she pulls them down.
  982. >Your dick flops out, landing on Vinyl’s cheek.
  983. >She just lets it sit there for a moment, soaking in the smell.
  984. >She seems to shiver.
  985. >The sight of your dick on her face only makes you harder.
  986. >It gets better when she leans back and takes a tiny lick, causing you to gasp.
  987. >”I’m just getting started, baby.”
  988. >She starts at your base, running her tongue over your shaft.
  989. >Her saliva shines slightly in the light, leading a trail up to her mouth.
  990. >She plants a kiss on your tip before diving back into your crouch.
  991. >A moan escapes your lips.
  992. >Precum begins to leak from your dick, but Vinyl laps it up hungrily.
  993. >You see her eyes flutter into the back of her head before returning to normal.
  994. “Pl…please…”
  995. >Vinyl understands.
  996. >She drags her tongue over rod one last time, slow, to ensure she didn’t miss a single inch of it.
  997. >Stopping at the tip, she looks up at you.
  998. >And winks.
  999. >From both ends.
  1000. >Your penis disappears into her mouth.
  1001. >It’s so warm, and wet.
  1002. >Her tongue dances underneath your cock, massaging it with every movement.
  1003. >You nearly cum right there.
  1004. >Vinyl seems to be enjoying herself as much as you are.
  1005. >There’s a wet patch on the carpet at her feet, and the smell of lust is overpowering.
  1006. >Her hoof appears to be glued to her cunt.
  1007. >Slowly, she takes you in, pulling back occasionally to pleasure your full length.
  1008. >It’s amazing.
  1009. >You grab her head, looking down for the okay.
  1010. >She winks again.
  1011. >You begin to push, forcing your cock deeper into her throat.
  1012. >She gags, but forces you to keep going.
  1013. >Drool is spilling out of her mouth, running down her chin and face.
  1014. >She doesn’t even care.
  1015. >Inch by inch, Vinyl’s head grows closer to your crouch, until finally, her muzzle is pressed against your body.
  1016. >You hold her there, perhaps a little more forcefully then needed.
  1017. >Her eyes are rolled up into her head from pleasure.
  1018. >You push her back a little, the drool forming strands between her face and your body.
  1019. >Then pull her back.
  1020. >You can see your cock in her throat as you fuck her, as she fights her natural reflex for your pleasure, as her tongue rubs against your balls.
  1021. >You go faster, forcing her head to go from the top of your dick to the bottom in one motion.
  1022. >Almost without thinking, you grab her horn for a better grip.
  1023. >Without warning, Vinyl shakes uncontrollably.
  1024. >Her smell becomes omnipresent as she cums.
  1025. >She screams in joy around your cock, causing you to lose control.
  1026. >You cum right down her throat.
  1027. >Her eyes widen as the loads hit her.
  1028. >Hastily, she pulls herself back.
  1029. >She lingers at your tip, taking her time to taste you.
  1030. >Then she pulls herself off completely, gasping for air as you spray strands of white over her face.
  1031. >Only her glasses prevent her from getting it in her eyes.
  1032. >For a second, she looks broken, covered in cum and droll, until the afterglow wears off and she focuses back on you.
  1033. >”Oh Celestia, I forgot how sensitive that is. Like getting kicked in the cunt, except pleasurable.”
  1034. >You fall backwards onto your back.
  1035. Vinyl leaps onto the bed after you and climbs onto your stomach.
  1036. >”Oh, you didn’t think we were done, did you? What’s wrong, not man enough to fuck a pony twice inna row?”
  1037. >Her cunt is right above your dick.
  1038. >”Ready for the real show to begin?”
  1039.  
  1040. >Vinyl licks her lips, and then leans into yours.
  1041. >Pausing, she takes a breath.
  1042. >”Let me just…get you ready.”
  1043. >Her horn lights up.
  1044. >You feel something happening to your dick.
  1045. >Looking down, you can see a faint aura as Vinyl jerks you off with her magic.
  1046. >It’s not long until you’re hard again.
  1047. >”Let’s just cut to it, idiot.”
  1048. >Vinyl drops her body onto you, impaling herself on your penis.
  1049. >”Fu…fuck. Oh Luna that was a bad idea, but it felt like such a good idea, oh Celestia.”
  1050. >Vinyl’s vagina is infinitely better than her mouth.
  1051. >You didn’t think it was possible, but she did it.
  1052. >It’s so much tighter.
  1053. >And warm, like a comforting fire.
  1054. >Is that why they call it the fire in your loins?
  1055. >Vinyl moves as you contemplate this, snapping your attention back to reality.
  1056. >She’s lifting her entire body up and down your shaft, kissing you whenever she bottoms.
  1057. >”I love you so much.”
  1058. >Kiss
  1059. >”So fucking much.”
  1060. >Kiss
  1061. >”I love you.”
  1062. >”I love you.”
  1063. >”I love you.”
  1064. >”I love you and love your fucking cock.”
  1065. >”I love yoooooooooooouuuuu.”
  1066. >Vinyl throws her head back into the air.
  1067. >Her glasses fly off her face.
  1068. >She’s cumming.
  1069. >Her juices spray out, coating your legs.
  1070. >She looks broken again.
  1071. >Not even bothering to put any strength into getting off your dick.
  1072. >But you’re not done yet.
  1073.  
  1074. >You grab her by her thick thighs.
  1075. >Lifting her up, you let your dick slowly slide out of her.
  1076. >It’s heavy with her juices.
  1077. >Without a word, you thrust upwards.
  1078. >Vinyl snaps back to attention, tongue lolling out of her mouth.
  1079. >”Yes, yes, yes, yes, more. Fuck me more.”
  1080. >You begin to pound into her.
  1081. >She looks joyful beyond words.
  1082. >”More, please master, harder.”
  1083. >You’re not used to the word master, but you thrust with more fury than before anyway.
  1084. >Her warmth covers you with every thrust, her tightness rubbing against your every sensitive spot.
  1085. >”Harder, please. Punish me. Fuck me. Please.”
  1086. >You keep thrusting.
  1087. >You remove one of your hands from her thigh and bring it around to Vinyl’s back.
  1088. >With one quick movement, you slap her ass.
  1089. >She lets out a squeal of delight.
  1090. >”Harder. Fuck me like the slut I am. I deserve everything you do to me.”
  1091. >You begin to slap her in time with your thrusts, so she’s either getting fucked from the front or slapped in the ass from behind.
  1092. >You can’t keep going like this.
  1093. >Vinyl starts to throw her body against your again.
  1094. >”Fuck me like the worthless whore I was born as. Give me your seed, show me how superior you are to my fucking slut race.”
  1095. >You’re starting to feel a little uncomfortable, but you can’t stop now.
  1096. >Just before you cum, you pull Vinyl’s head closer to yours.
  1097. “Fuck you?”
  1098. >Vinyl smiles.
  1099. >”Bite me.”
  1100. >You bend her head down and take a little bite of her ear.
  1101. >You can feel her cunt convulse instantly when you do.
  1102. >She’s cumming for a third time.
  1103. >The vibrations and her shouts push you over the edge as well.
  1104. >You push yourself as deep into Vinyl as you can.
  1105. >She pulls you as close as she can as well.
  1106. >Your seed explodes inside her, duplicating the warmth you’re already feeling.
  1107. >It keeps coming, load after load, until she can’t possible hold it all inside her.
  1108. >It begins to flow out, running down your dick in great rivers.
  1109. >Vinyl’s legs give out and she falls onto you, impaling herself again.
  1110. >Neither of you can feel it over the waves of pleasure you both feel.
  1111. >Your breath comes out heavy.
  1112. >Vinyl’s head is right next to yours, her body on top of you.
  1113. >She’s breathing just as hard.
  1114. >”Damn, I…guess you…were man enough…to go…beyond twice.”
  1115.  
  1116. >You’re sitting on the end of your bed.
  1117. >Vinyl is next to you.
  1118. >You feel the need to say something.
  1119. >Maybe your concerns.
  1120. “So…uh, can ponies and humans actually…you know? Have kids?”
  1121. >”No. That’s one of the reason’s we’re so…popular. That and the whole ‘indentured service’ thing.”
  1122. “Oh thank God.”
  1123. >You both sit in silence.
  1124. “So you said some things while we were doing it…”
  1125. >”I may have defaulted to my training halfway through, yes.”
  1126. “Your training?”
  1127. >”Yea, see, when we first got here, they tied us up in this dark room and took turns…”
  1128. “I don’t need to know, Vinyl.”
  1129. >She’s silent for a moment.
  1130. >”They made us recite phrases to memory while they fucked us. To improve saleability.”
  1131. “Oh, fuck you.”
  1132. >”Bite me.”
  1133. “Maybe I will! You certainly enjoyed it last time.”
  1134. >”Do we have to find a new way to argue now? I can’t be getting horny when I’m trying to get mad.”
  1135. “Maybe. Maybe we’ll deal with that in the morning. Are you sleeping here or in your room?”
  1136. >”Here, dumbass, so scooch over.”
  1137. >You lean back, exhausted.
  1138. “I guess I’ll see you in the morning. I feel things are going to get much better from here on out.”
  1139.  
  1140. >”I think you gave me drain bramage.”
  1141. “I dunno, I think I cleaned your drains pretty well.”
  1142. >Vinyl rubs her forehead.
  1143. >”Fucking Cadence, we’ve been making sexual innuendos for four goddamn hours! Are we really so pathetic that we have nothing better to do?”
  1144. “In YOUR end-o.”
  1145. >”Already did that one.”
  1146. “I could do you.”
  1147. >”That one too.”
  1148. “Alright, maybe we should have stopped there then.”
  1149. >”So what are we going to do then?”
  1150. >You open your mouth.
  1151. >”We’re not turning this sexual innuendo chat into actual sex.”
  1152. >You close your mouth.
  1153. >A thought hits you.
  1154. “Oh, I know.”
  1155. >You reach over from the couch to grab your laptop.
  1156. “We can try looking for your friend. Might as well start now. What’s her name?”
  1157. >Vinyl scrunches her nose.
  1158. >”It definitely started with an O. Or maybe T. Otavi? No, that’s too short.”
  1159. “You don’t remember?”
  1160. >”It was nearly a decade ago, dude. Do you remember the people you went to primary school with?”
  1161. “Point taken.”
  1162. >”Anyway, head to the Auction website, see if they have any ponies under O.”
  1163. “I don’t think they sort by name. We have race, colour, profession and age.”
  1164. >”What’s the lowest age?”
  1165. >You look.
  1166. “You honestly don’t want to know.”
  1167. >”Alright, start with colour then. Otavia was brown. More greyish, actually.
  1168. >Vinyl leaps to her feet.
  1169. >”Octavia, that was it.”
  1170. >You search the website.
  1171. >No pony matching Vinyl’s description was for sale.
  1172.  
  1173. >”Oh dude, you got me reminiscing again.”
  1174. “Hmm?”
  1175. >”Yea, bout Tavi and all that. Shit man, you know she was about as famous as I was? Had this huge ass cello she’d lug around, beat out a tune like you wouldn’t believe. I hope she’s been practicing, she’s gotta be fantastic by now.”
  1176. “Well, don’t get your hopes up. I doubt she’s had too many opportunities.”
  1177. >”My Tavi? She’d find a way. Always. Nothing’s going to stop her. I bet she’s on the radio by now or something.”
  1178. “Maybe.”
  1179. >”And Tavi was the one who could cook. You like what I make? Tavi’ll blow me out of the water. Oh, she’ll probably not want to cook though, she’s probably been doing it too well for years.”
  1180. >You return to your laptop.
  1181. >The Auction was no help, so you resorted to third party sources.
  1182. >That and searching words like ‘Vinyl,’ ‘Scratch,’ ‘Octavia,’ ‘grey maned,’ ‘blue maned,’ and ‘pony musician.’
  1183. >You figure that if Octavia was looking for Vinyl, she’d have left her a message somewhere.
  1184. >”This place’ll be less of a pig sty as well. Tavi’ll clean it up real quick for us.”
  1185. >You nod.
  1186. >”And we’ll have so much to talk about now! Like…uh, slavery.”
  1187. >You look at her.
  1188. >”Alright, we might not have much to talk about, but hey, it doesn’t matter. We’ll be together again. Oh dude, you’re going to love her as well. We’ll be like a big ol Equestrian family. You, me and Tavi.”
  1189.  
  1190. >You flipped through the mail.
  1191. >As usual, it was simply bills, spam and junk mail.
  1192. >You didn’t get anything else, and Vinyl didn’t for obvious reasons.
  1193. >One letter is different though.
  1194. >It has an insignia you don’t recognize on it.
  1195. >The address says it’s from the US Copyright Office.
  1196. >Your heart skips a beat.
  1197. >Dropping the rest of the papers, you head into the kitchen.
  1198. “Hey Vinyl, you got mail.”
  1199. >Vinyl looks at you with a raised eyebrow.
  1200. >”No I didn’t. I don’t get mail. Who the fuck is going to send me mail?”
  1201. “How about the US Copyright Office?”
  1202. >You can see her heart skip a beat as well.
  1203. >”Oh shit, it’s here? Oh shit, shit, have you read it yet? Give it here.”
  1204. >You pass her the letter.
  1205. >She opens it immediately.
  1206. >Her eyes dart over the page.
  1207. >Her expression drops.
  1208. >You think you already know what the means.
  1209. “Did they…give your music back?”
  1210. >Vinyl focuses on the page.
  1211. >”’Due to their lack of higher reasoning, the testimony of ponies is not considered to be valid evidence for the purposes of establishing originality. As such, we have considered what evidence is left and decided not to grant copyright on the following works:’”
  1212. >Vinyl lists through her music.
  1213. >”’Said works will retain their public domain status unless more substantial evidence can be provided by their original creator.’”
  1214. >”’Have a nice day.’”
  1215.  
  1216. >The sound of laughter catches you off guard.
  1217. >Vinyl is quite obviously forcing herself to laugh.
  1218. >”It’s funny, isn’t it?”
  1219. “Vinyl…”
  1220. >”Lack of higher reasoning. As if I didn’t know exactly what I was making. As if all those ponies didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s funny. It’s all so backwards and silly.”
  1221. “Are you going to be okay?”
  1222. >”Of course I am. It’s just…just music, bro. Just a song or two. Besides, we both knew this was never going to work. It was a slim chance at best.”
  1223. “Do you need a hug?”
  1224. >”No, no, I’ll be fine. I just gotta take a few deep breaths. This is another thing we can’t change, right? Not yet. So we just gotta keep waiting and focusing on the other things. Tavi’s still out there, we can bring her home. My magic’s still coming in, that’s another thing. Everything is fine right now.”
  1225. “Vinyl, you’re crying.”
  1226. >She moves a hoof to her face.
  1227. >”Huh. I…I need to go. Sorry.”
  1228. >Vinyl walks past you.
  1229. >”Who needs a soul anyway? I made it this far without one. They’re like an appendix, they only hurt when they’re inside you or taken out. You don’t need them to live and you don’t notice when they’re gone.”
  1230. “Vinyl.”
  1231. >”Yea?”
  1232. “We’ll find a way. I’ll go to Equestria itself with a shovel if I need to. Don’t give up hope.”
  1233. >”I’d need some in the first place for that.”
  1234.  
  1235. >You needed something to cheer Vinyl up.
  1236. >She hadn’t left her room in days.
  1237. >Luckily, you think you’d found the perfect thing.
  1238. >There was no way it could fail.
  1239. >You shout at her through the house.
  1240. “Vinyl, I think I found her! Get out here!”
  1241. >There’s the sound of rushing hooves.
  1242. >”Found who? Tavi?”
  1243. “Grey Earth Pony with a brown mane, background in music? Has a British accent? Oh, and her flank stamp is a Treble Clef. What’s the deal with those anyway?”
  1244. “They’re called Cutie Marks, they show what we’re good at. How have we lived together with long without having this conversation?”
  1245. >You shrug.
  1246. “Anyway, I think I found her owner. She’s been passed around a lot since you first got here, trading hands and basically travelling the country one owner at a time. Three years ago she was bought by a private plantation owner and it looks like they’ve been stuck with her ever since. No one I can find has brought her after that.”
  1247. >”So you think she’s still there?”
  1248. “I’ve got the guys number, I figure it’s worth a shot to call him. If he has Octavia then we can arrange something, even if it’s just a play date to hang out and chill. If he doesn’t, then he might know where we can keep looking.”
  1249. >”What are you waiting for then? Go go go.”
  1250. “Alright, alright, I’m going.”
  1251. >You stand up and walk over to the phone.
  1252. >Vinyl trails behind you, so close she occasionally bumps into the back of your leg.
  1253. >You pick up the receiver and type in the number.
  1254.  
  1255. >You’re greeted by a rough sounding older man.
  1256. “Hey, listen, this is going to sound odd, but I think you own a pony I’m looking for.”
  1257. >Vinyl looks up at you
  1258. “No, not that one. Not that one either. I’m looking for a pony called Octavia. Octavia…”
  1259. >You motion at Vinyl.
  1260. >”Melody.”
  1261. “Octavia Melody.”
  1262. >You listen as the man speaks.
  1263. “Yes, I know. Look, it’s very important to me.”
  1264. >Your expression slowly drops.
  1265. “You brought her…it three years ago. Did you sell it off or…
  1266. >You place a hand on Vinyl’s head.
  1267. “Well, how bad are we talking?”
  1268. “That bad, huh?”
  1269. “So there’s no chance she’s…”
  1270. “No, you’re right, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t tell you how to discipline slaves, I’m sorry.”
  1271. “Thank you for your time.”
  1272. >You hang up the phone.
  1273. >Vinyl is pulling on your arm to get your attention.
  1274. >”What did he say? Octavia’s not hurt, is she?”
  1275. “She’s…she’s fine. He just doesn’t know where she is.”
  1276. >You pull her arm away from her.
  1277. “I don’t know what to do. We can’t find her. Maybe we should put it on hold for now.”
  1278. >You attempt to walk past her.
  1279.  
  1280. >”She’s dead, isn’t she?”
  1281. >You freeze in place.
  1282. >There’s a blank look on your face.
  1283. “Of course she’s not dead, why would you…”
  1284. >Vinyl begins to shout.
  1285. >”Don’t fucking lie to me about my dead fucking wife, you asshole!”
  1286. >You don’t know what to say.
  1287. “How did you guess?”
  1288. >”You just gave up. If she was still alive, you’d have kept trying.”
  1289. >Vinyl just glares at you.
  1290. “I was going to tell, it’s just, right now…you’re not in the best place for news like this.”
  1291. >”Well, we can’t…can’t all have made it this far. Lasted this long. Nine years is a long time for a slave.”
  1292. >She’s trying to smile.
  1293. >It’s not working.
  1294. >”I mean, I should have expected this, I shouldn’t have let you get my hopes up.”
  1295. >She moves her glasses closer to her eyes.
  1296. >”Why? Why did this…”
  1297. >Her voice cracks.
  1298. >”Why did this happen?”
  1299. “There had been an accident. Octavia was…injured. Her owner decided it would be cheaper to just…”
  1300. >”Put her down?”
  1301. >You nod.
  1302.  
  1303. >”They put her down like an animal.”
  1304. >Vinyl grits her teeth.
  1305. >”They didn’t even care that she could talk.”
  1306. >You can see her glasses begin to fog up from the inside.
  1307. >”She…she probably begged them for mercy; I know I would, and they ignored her. They ignored her and they shot her and they didn’t even care. They didn’t even think it was wrong.”
  1308. >You get down on your knees.
  1309. >Vinyl kind of simply stumbles towards you.
  1310. >”But…but she’s not dead, dead. She’s not an animal so she has to be fine, right? You humans didn’t really kill her.”
  1311. >Vinyl is silent as you pull her closer to you.
  1312. >Suddenly, she screams into your chest.
  1313. >It’s primal and raw.
  1314. >”I hate you people! I hate this place. I hate this planet. I hate you humans, you’re all terrible, rapist murderers who don’t give a shit who you hurt. I can’t believe you lied to me! I can’t believe I believed you. You said everything was going to be okay! You’re not better than them! I trusted you and you lied to me! Twice! I wish you were all dead instead of…”
  1315. >She’s crying.
  1316. >”Celestia should have killed you all when she had the chance! ‘Let’s give peace a chance,’ and now Tavi is fucking dead and nobody even cares! I hate you all! I hate you!”
  1317. >Vinyl begins to cry heavily.
  1318. >”It hurts so fucking much. Everything hurts. I just want to it stop. I just wanted everything to be normal again, like it was before. And now I’ll never be better. It’ll never change.”
  1319. >Her tears are soaking your shirt.
  1320.  
  1321. “It’s going to be okay, Vinyl.”
  1322. >You gently pet her mane.
  1323. >”Like shit it is. How are you going to fix this? She’s fucking dead. Gone. Poof. I…I can’t remember her face, Anon. How are you going to fix this? You gonna raise the dead, huh?”
  1324. “It’s going to be okay, Vinyl.”
  1325. >”I should have at least been there. Maybe I could have stopped it. Testified on her behalf or, or, or maybe sucked a few dicks. I don’t know. I could have taken her place. She deserves all this more.”
  1326. “It’s going to be okay.”
  1327. >She’s choking in between sobs.
  1328. >”The same thing is going to happen to me, isn’t it? I’ll get injured and you’ll put me down, huh? You humans are all the same, you only want to hurt us. You only think we’re some dumb talking animals, like parrots.”
  1329. ”It’s going to be okay.”
  1330. >”No…no, that’s not right. That makes me feel worse. You’re not like them. You would have saved Tavi, if you were there.”
  1331. ”It’s going to be okay.”
  1332. >”STOP SAYING THAT! Things aren’t going to be okay. They’ll never be okay.”
  1333. “It’s going to be okay.”
  1334.  
  1335. >”Is that how it is? Talk down to Vinyl until she calms down then fuck her again, maybe she’ll let you stick your dick in her ass this time.”
  1336. “I’m here for you. It’ll be okay.”
  1337. >”Do you wait outside the morgue and hit on every widow you meet, or am I the exception?”
  1338. “You’ll make it through this.”
  1339. >”Oh, changing it up, are we? What happened to everything being okay?”
  1340. >You don’t bother to say anything, you just hold her tighter.
  1341. >”There’s still so much we didn’t do together. It can’t just be over, not after all this time.”
  1342. >Her tears get heavier.
  1343. >Her convulsions get stronger.
  1344. >Your knees are starting to hurt, but you don’t dare move.
  1345. >Vinyl needs your comforting.
  1346. >The clock ticks down as you sit there.
  1347. >Your clothes are soaked.
  1348. >Vinyl’s face looks like someone threw a bucket of water at her.
  1349. >All matted and dripping.
  1350. >Her throat is hoarse but she forces herself to speak.
  1351. >”You’re not going to punish me for crying, are you?”
  1352. “Never.”
  1353. >”Then…then can I cry a little longer please? It hurts less when I do. This pain in my chest and my throat and my…ev-everywhere.”
  1354. “Of course.”
  1355. >”I…I promised you I wouldn’t lose my cool again though. I’m such…such a bad person. I only have my word and I can’t even keep it. Octavia and I should be reversed.”
  1356. >You grab Vinyl’s chin and lock her eyes onto yours.
  1357. “Don’t you ever say that. You are alive and that’s not a mistake. You’re stronger than you think, you’ll get through this.”
  1358. >Vinyl cries harder.
  1359. >You sat there as long as she needed.
  1360.  
  1361. >”I’m going stargazing.”
  1362. “Do you want me to come?”
  1363. >”You can come if you want. It’s not like I have a choice.”
  1364. >You get out of bed.
  1365. >Throw on a coat, some cheap shoes.
  1366. >Head out the door.
  1367. >Vinyl was already waiting for you.
  1368. >She looks awful.
  1369. >Not even her hair is spiky anymore; it just drops down over her face.
  1370. >You take a seat and sit next to her in silence.
  1371. >Eventually, she speaks.
  1372. >”Do you remember Nightmare Moon?”
  1373. “What about her?”
  1374. >”I was just thinking, the stars helped her escape. You think they could do the same for us? Open a portal to Equestria and take me home? Equestrian stars are a bit magical like that. I figure you just need to wish hard enough until they hear you shouting.”
  1375. “You might wake the neighbours if you actually shout though.”
  1376. >”Heh, maybe. Your Earth stars though, they don’t have any magic in them anymore. They’ve stopped working. They’ve stopped taking my pain away and now it’s just building. It’s building and I don’t know how to stop it or what I’ll do when it bubbles over. My charade is slipping and I don’t think there’s any point in coming out here anymore.”
  1377. “If you need to let it out, Vinyl, I’m here to help. You’ll get through this.”
  1378. >Vinyl looks upwards.
  1379. >”Why do you believe in me so much? I don’t even believe in myself as much as you. How can you have such faith in how I’ll act? I won’t get through this. I’m not this strong, chill pony you think I am. I’m broken. I’m a broken wreck held together by memories and pretending that everything’s okay when it’s clearly not. When I know it’s not getting better. And I hate myself for being broken. For not being the pony I pretend to be.”
  1380. “Vinyl, have you ever wondered why I bought you at the Auction?”
  1381.  
  1382. “Why, out of all the ponies there, I chose you?”
  1383. >Vinyl turns her head to face you.
  1384. “They tried to talk me out of it, you know. Said there were many better ponies for me, but I chose you. They said you were a lost cause. There was no way to tame you, no way to make you work, no way to train you. You were the most difficult pony they’d ever encountered.”
  1385. >She tries to crack a smile.
  1386. “They were going to put you down, they were so convinced you’d never change.”
  1387. >She loses her smile.
  1388. “But you had this look on you that instantly caught my attention. Like you just didn’t care how bad things were. You were slinging insults at anyone who walked past. You were smiling as they brought you up to the podium. You laughed as they set the starting price as low as fifty dollars.”
  1389. >”But that’s not me…”
  1390. “I’m not done. I kept watching you, Vinyl. Because after every joke, after every insult, there was this brief moment where you let it drop. Where you became a scared little pony again before deciding to let it go and trying again. And I realised, that was the pony I wanted to buy. I wanted to see if I could make that pony hiding inside you come out. The real Vinyl, not this carefree persona you carry.”
  1391. “You don’t need to keep hiding, Vinyl. I’m not going to hurt you. Not intentionally.”
  1392. >Vinyl doesn’t say anything.
  1393. >”I think it’s too late for me. I’ll go crazy if I have to face all the fucked up shit that’s happened to me. You either go with the flow or you go crazy. That’s the only attitude.”
  1394.  
  1395. >”Where do we go from here?”
  1396. “What do you mean?”
  1397. >”Where do we go from here? What’s the next big thing you can do for me?”
  1398. “Well, we still have your music. I suppose we could ask around the Auction, it’s just a couple of blocks away, find out where Equestria actually is. Go there, find some real evidence. Or we could save up, buy you an instrument, have you make some new music, that sounds cool. Do you have any other pony friends we could look for?”
  1399. >”No. It was just me and…
  1400. “Okay, I understand. Then we’ll just need to make you some new friends. Other than that, though, I don’t know. We’ll take it as it comes. All I know is, we’re going to make this place feel like a home for you, okay?”
  1401. >”Right, just a home where I can never leave on pain of death or hold any real power whatsoever.”
  1402. “It’s your home as much as mine, inside, you have as much authority as me.”
  1403. >”That’s nice and all, but you’re a human. I’m not. I wasn’t born to have authority.”
  1404. “Doesn’t matter. Everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to work out. Who cares what your race is?”
  1405. >”If I was human, people would care.”
  1406. “If you were human, I wouldn’t care any less.”
  1407.  
  1408. “I’m sorry, if it helps.”
  1409. >”Sorry for what?”
  1410. “For what happened to Octavia. And the whole enslavement thing. And the Auction. Everything that’s happened to you since you got here, really.”
  1411. >”Oh, don’t be that guy. You didn’t kill… It’s not like I blame you for anything. You’re fine, it’s those other assholes who are the problem. Imagine how much better things could be if they were…well, let’s not go there.”
  1412. >Vinyl scratches her head, “I mean, sure, I used to think all of you were terrible, but it’s not like I was right. You proved me wrong. If there were more people like you and less people like them than maybe things would be better. Humanity’s only mostly unforgivable and I won’t let the tiny spark of it that’s alright feel bad for things it didn’t do.”
  1413. “But I mean, we could have been better. Things should have gone differently.”
  1414. >”Should have, yea. But they didn’t. And here we are. And maybe it’s still not as bad as it could be.”
  1415. “But the others…”
  1416. >”Are you the others?”
  1417. “Of course not.”
  1418. >”So stop blaming yourself for what they do. You’ve already shown that you humans can do good. You gave me a home again. You gave me my magic. We’re going to get my soul back. For the first time in years I actually had a genuine smile. You were just too slow to fix everything. Tavi included. And that’s not your fault either.”
  1419. >”Stop saying everything is going to be okay though, because you said you wouldn’t lie to me. We both know things aren’t going to get better from here. After all, things don’t get better unless…”
  1420.  
  1421. >Vinyl stands up suddenly.
  1422. >She looks down the street silently, before turning to you.
  1423. >”I’m going for a walk.”
  1424. “Where are we going?”
  1425. >”You’re staying here. I’m going for a walk alone.”
  1426. “I don’t think you’re allowed to.”
  1427. >”Are you going to stop me?”
  1428. “Well, no.”
  1429. >”Then I can.”
  1430. “I think there’s like, a law or something.”
  1431. >”So? I get caught they’ll just send me back to you. And I know you’re not going to do anything to me, so what’s the problem?”
  1432. “Where are you going?”
  1433. >”Just around, dude. I need to get away from this house for a moment. Get a breath of fresh air.”
  1434. “Then why can’t I come?”
  1435. >”Just trust me. I’ll be back before you know it. It’s not like I’m leaving forever. Just a quick jog to stretch my legs for once.”
  1436. >You consider vetoing her position.
  1437. >But she probably wouldn’t accept your veto anyway.
  1438. “Just be back before sunrise. I don’t want someone getting the wrong idea about you and thinking you’re trying to escape.”
  1439. >Vinyl steps out onto the street.
  1440. >”No problem, Anon. I’ll only take a minute.”
  1441. >She took thirty of them, but she did come back.
  1442. >Dried tears covered her face, but she looked…better.
  1443. >Just a little.
  1444. >Like she knew what she wanted now.
  1445.  
  1446. >”Anon, can you be straight with me for a moment?”
  1447. >Vinyl is being unusually serious.
  1448. >Which is a good thing, considering her recent mood.
  1449. >She’s been happier than ever in recent days.
  1450. >Behind her eyes though, you can still see something eating away at her.
  1451. “Yea, of course, what’s up?”
  1452. >”Would you still love me even if I left?”
  1453. “Left?”
  1454. >”If you woke up one day and I wasn’t here, and you checked outside and I wasn’t there either, and if you ran down the street to the Auction and I wasn’t there as well, and I was just gone.”
  1455. >You close your laptop and focus on Vinyl.
  1456. “Please don’t be implying what I think you’re implying, Vinyl.”
  1457. >”So you wouldn’t?”
  1458. “I love you, Vinyl. Nothing you do will change that.”
  1459. >Vinyl is silent.
  1460. “Vinyl, you are important. I want you to repeat that for me. You are important. Repeat it until you believe it, because it’s true. You are important and you are loved. Nothing can change that.”
  1461. >”I’m just a pony though.”
  1462. “So?”
  1463. >”So, I’m not important. I’m a slave. That’s what I was born as and that’s what I’ll be until I die. I’m replaceable, a thing. I lost all my equinity long ago. I’m not important, nothing would change if I died. I deserve to be a slave, I need to be one, otherwise what good am I? Who am I? What good is a pony that isn’t a slave?”
  1464. >You bite your lip.
  1465. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you deserve to be slave.”
  1466. >”It’s true though. I’m a pony.”
  1467. “It’s not true. Vinyl, look at me.”
  1468. >Vinyl forces herself to look into your eyes.
  1469. “You are the most important thing in my world. I know you’ve had a hard life. I know you’ve been broken. But listen to me when I tell you that you’re not worthless. You’re stronger than you think. And we’re going to fix you, no matter how long it takes or how much it costs. I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain, but we’re going to get through it together.”
  1470. >”I wish I could believe that. But I’m not strong. I’m just a slave.”
  1471. “Not to me.”
  1472.  
  1473. >You and Vinyl are sitting on the couch.
  1474. >She’s got her leg draped over the arm rest.
  1475. >One of them, at least.
  1476. >Her voice catches your attention.
  1477. >”You know, I’m never going to get over her.”
  1478. “Octavia?”
  1479. >”Yea. I know I said I’d forgotten her, but maybe I just didn’t want remember her instead. It was the best years of our lives, together. I wonder if she ever thought about me or if she was like me and chose not to remember.”
  1480. “Probably. You sounded like you were close, no distance can break something like that.”
  1481. >”Was that a pun?”
  1482. “No.”
  1483. >Vinyl leans back.
  1484. >”When we go to Equestria, we gotta dig up some of her stuff as well. Find out if anyone has the rights to her music as well. I think we had an agreement where we’d inherent each other’s music. We just never thought it would actually happen.”
  1485. >Vinyl is quiet.
  1486. >”Do you think she’s waiting for me? Back home?”
  1487. “She’s dead.
  1488. >You catch your tongue a second too late.
  1489. >Vinyl doesn’t seem to mind.
  1490. >”Yea…yea, she is. It’s just…”
  1491. >Vinyl swings her head backwards until she’s looking at you.
  1492. >”I think I’m going to be meeting her again soon. We had feelings like that. Just hunches of when we’d bump into each other. This one scares the shit out of me, though.”
  1493. “Vinyl, I promise, nothing is going to happen to you.”
  1494. >Vinyl chuckles nervously.
  1495. >”Yea, I’m probably just being stupid. Nothing bad’s going to happen to either of us. You’ll make sure of that.”
  1496. >Vinyl stood up.
  1497. >”You’re a good guy, Anon, for a human. You’re going to make a lot of ponies very happy, I know that much. I’m heading to bed. We’ve got a big day tomorrow. Catch you later.”
  1498.  
  1499. >You wake up.
  1500. >You immediately knew that something was wrong.
  1501. >You couldn’t hear Vinyl cooking.
  1502. >Pulling yourself out of bed, you head into the kitchen.
  1503. >She’s not there.
  1504. >She’s not in her bedroom either.
  1505. >She’s not in living room, or the bathroom.
  1506. >She’s not outside.
  1507. >You search the house as a sinking feeling builds in your chest.
  1508. >All you find is a closed letter, addressed to you, sitting on the table.
  1509. >Her glasses are keeping the paper folded shut.
  1510. >The words ‘Regards, Anon’ stain the front.
  1511.  
  1512. >You sit down.
  1513. >You don’t think you can stand for this.
  1514. >You open the letter.
  1515. >”I’m sorry.”
  1516. >”You can keep the glasses. I think they look better on you anyway.”
  1517. >”If it helps, I’m still sorry. If I’d just gone and done this earlier, you wouldn’t feel like this. You’d still be happy. But I was a coward and started to believe my own lies. I kept thinking that things would go back to the way they were, if I just kept believing they would. But, well, I suppose they never were going to change. Not for me. It’s too late for me.”
  1518. >”You’re probably asking yourself why by now. I’m sorry. I remember I once described it like dying, over and over, this pain. But I realise I was wrong. This pain isn’t like dying. I don’t know what it feels like to die. I know what it feels like to already be dead. The me from Equestria is dead and I feel like an imposter wearing her skin, trying my best to act like she would and pretend nothing’s changed. But she’s dead. And her soul’s dead. And her wife’s dead. All that’s left is me, and I don’t know what that makes me. I’m sorry.”
  1519. >”But listen (or well, read,) bro. You did your best. But you can’t raise the dead. Don’t blame yourself, for the love of Celestia, never blame yourself. Not everyone can be saved. I’m sorry I’m one of them. And there are still so many ponies out there that need someone like you to save them. I try not to resent them for the lives they have, but it’s hard. I’m sorry, but it’s too hard. I hate them. I hate this world. Does that make me a bad pony? I know I shouldn’t be jealous for someone better off than me but... They can still be saved.”
  1520. >”I don’t want to die though. I’m dead but dying scares me. I just want to go home. I can’t live in this world a moment longer. I’m going home now, Anon. I’ll either find a way or die on the outside, but either way, the result’s the same. I go home.”
  1521. >”Thanks for trying. I’m sorry you just didn’t…pick a stronger pony. One that could have held out longer.”
  1522. >”Regards Anon, Vinyl Scratch.”
  1523. >You close the letter.
  1524.  
  1525. >There’s a pain in your chest.
  1526. >Like you’re missing something you’d taken for granted and it’s not coming back.
  1527. >Is this how she felt?
  1528. >You hold her glasses between your fingers.
  1529. >They’re shining in the sunlight, throwing blue light over the table.
  1530. >Over the letter.
  1531. >So this was it then?
  1532. >This is how it ends?
  1533. >You lean forward, cradling your head.
  1534. >You don’t know what to do.
  1535. >You don’t know what you can do.
  1536. >You don’t know where she went, or how to bring her back.
  1537. >It’s hopeless.
  1538. >You feel like giving up before you try.
  1539. >No.
  1540. >You’re not just going to sit here.
  1541. >Standing up, you place Vinyl’s glasses in your pocket.
  1542. >No more going with the flow.
  1543. >You’ve already given that up and you won’t let yourself fall back into it.
  1544. >Not now, not ever.
  1545. >You’re going to fight back.
  1546. >You’re going to stop this.
  1547. >If it’s…not too late.
  1548. >You grab your coat as you fly out the door.
  1549. >You don’t know where she went, but you have a hunch.
  1550.  
  1551. >It was raining.
  1552. >The cold mist that had hung over your town had finally lifted, releasing a torrent of water onto the Earth.
  1553. >You were outside the Auction building.
  1554. >Heat was burning your chest, overpowering your loss.
  1555. >You’d never really needed to run before today.
  1556. >But you’d run every step.
  1557. >The door looked like it had been ripped off of its hinges.
  1558. >That was good.
  1559. >And bad.
  1560. >Reception was empty.
  1561. >But it didn’t look like Vinyl had cared.
  1562. >The place was trashed.
  1563. >Like a hurricane had blown down the door, throwing the room around in a frenzy.
  1564. >You continue deeper, heading into the back.
  1565. >Where they kept the ponies.
  1566. >Cages stacked upon cages, a tired face in every one.
  1567. >The locks were broken, but they didn’t dare escape.
  1568. >A couple shuffle away as you walk closer, though a few stand to oppose you, if only to protect their friends.
  1569. >You remember their faces.
  1570. >For later.
  1571. >You walk past them.
  1572. >You hear her long before you find her.
  1573. >Vinyl is shouting.
  1574.  
  1575. >”Tell me how to get home, now!”
  1576. >Another voice answers her.
  1577. >”I told you, I don’t know. Please, let go of me, I can help you. We’ll find out together.”
  1578. >”Do you really think I’m that stupid?”
  1579. >You burst into the room.
  1580. >You take in the scene.
  1581. >It appears to be some sort of loading bay.
  1582. >Vinyl is holding one of the Auctioneers against the wall with her magic.
  1583. >She looks injured.
  1584. >Leaning heavily on her three other legs.
  1585. >She hastily turns towards the door.
  1586. >”Anon?”
  1587. >You freeze as a blue light surrounds you.
  1588. >The auctioneer falls to his feet.
  1589. >The light vanishes from you and lifts him back into the air.
  1590. >”Okay, just stay there Anon, I can only hold one of you at a time.”
  1591. >You take a step forward.
  1592. >”Go home, Anon.”
  1593. “Fuck you.”
  1594. >”We’re not playing that game anymore. This is serious.”
  1595.  
  1596. >You don’t know what to say.
  1597. >You never know what to say.
  1598. “I’m not going home without you, Vinyl.”
  1599. >”Then you’re going to be disappointed, aren’t you?”
  1600. “No. Not this time.”
  1601. >You take another step forward.
  1602. >”Dude, seriously, stop. If you take another step…”
  1603. “You’ll what? I’m coming over there and giving you the hug you so desperately need right now.”
  1604. >Vinyl thinks for a moment.
  1605. >”Take another step and I’ll kill him.”
  1606. >You stop walking.
  1607. “You won’t kill anyone.”
  1608. >”You think I haven’t done it before?”
  1609. “You haven’t killed anyone.”
  1610. >Vinyl is silent for a moment.
  1611. >”Shit. You called me.”
  1612. >You take a passive step and Vinyl strengthens her ‘grip’ on the Auctioneer.
  1613. >You realize she’s serious.
  1614. “Vinyl, put the man down.”
  1615. >”Why?”
  1616. “Because killing him won’t make things better.”
  1617. >Vinyl stares at you.
  1618. >”Won’t it? Anon, no one deserves to die more. He’s a rapist, slave owning murderer. Look at all the ponies outside this room. How many have been abused by him? How much heartbreak could I save? How many souls? How many ponies? How does his death not make the world just a little bit better for everyone? Didn’t you once say that things don’t get better unless we make them get better? You agree with me!”
  1619. “I wasn’t talking about doing this and you know it.”
  1620. >”But I’m right.”
  1621. “Killing him won’t change anything.”
  1622. >”I think it would change quite a lot, actually.”
  1623. “Not anything that needs changing. Nothing real. Nothing worth dying over.”
  1624. >Vinyl doesn’t move.
  1625.  
  1626. >”It hurts though.”
  1627. >You take another careful step.
  1628. “I know it hurts. I know. But this won’t fix anything. This won’t make anything better.”
  1629. >”Do you know? How could you possibly know? You’re human, you’re not capable of knowing. You look at me and you think of all the awful things that have happened, but you have no frame of reference. You can’t know what it’s like to be a slave. You don’t know the reality. Only what you can imagine. And what you imagine is nothing like the reality.”
  1630. “Oh, don’t give me that, Vinyl. Honestly. Don’t make this argument. It makes you look…well, bad. I didn’t give up my heart just because I’m a human. I wasn’t born without empathy. Look, I don’t know what you’ve been through, not personally. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel sorry for you. Or want to try and make things better for you. I don’t need to experience it to know how awful it must be lose everything you love. I don’t need to guess to know how bad it must be to be a slave.”
  1631. >Vinyl doesn’t say anything.
  1632. >You don’t either. Except…
  1633. “Besides, it doesn’t matter. I know what it feels like to lose a friend, Vinyl. Please don’t make me feel it again. Come home.”
  1634.  
  1635. >”That’s not my home. Not any more than this is my world.”
  1636. “We share the same sky.”
  1637. >”This is not my world. That is not my home.”
  1638. “It could be. We could make it a home, together. No more abuse. No more lies. No more disguises. Just you and me, together. If you gave it a try, then things could change. You could have a home again. But you need to try, Vinyl. You need to want things to change for you. No matter what I do, I can’t help you if you don’t accept my help!”
  1639. >”And what if I can’t change? Didn’t you once say there was no way to tame me? No way to control me? I don’t change, Anon. I can’t. If I change now it’ll be like going cold turkey. Everything I’ve gone through will finally catch up to me and it’ll kill me.”
  1640. “’They’ said that about you. Not me. The Auction said you’d never change but I know they were wrong. Whatever happens, we’ll get through it together. You can change, you can make yourself better, but you need to stop telling yourself it’s too late. You’re not dead, Vinyl. Not yet.”
  1641. >You see her magic quiver for a second.
  1642. >”I can’t change.”
  1643. “You never know if you don’t try.”
  1644. >”I have tried, it’s just…never worked.”
  1645. “Then we’ll just need to keep trying. Until it sticks.”
  1646. >You pause.
  1647. “Tomorrow will be better. I swear.”
  1648. “Just come home.”
  1649. >”Just come home?”
  1650. “Just come home.”
  1651. >Vinyl’s magic quivers again.
  1652. >”I…I don’t think I can.”
  1653. >She’s lying.
  1654. “Fuck you then.”
  1655. >The Auctioneer drops to the ground.
  1656. >”Bite me.”
  1657. >You take another careful step.
  1658. >Vinyl doesn’t move.
  1659. >You step closer.
  1660. >”Anon…I’m sorry.”
  1661. >You’re standing close enough to touch her now.
  1662. >The Auctioneer ran as soon as he could.
  1663. >You crouch down so you’re both the same height.
  1664. “It’s fine. I should have been better.”
  1665. >You reach over and put your arms over her.
  1666. >You pull her closer.
  1667. >Her hooves find their way behind you.
  1668. >She’s pulling you with an even greater strength.
  1669. >Tears well in her eyes and begin to stain your body.
  1670. >Your tears do the same for her coat.
  1671. >You stayed there until the police came and separated you.
  1672. >It took them five men
  1673.  
  1674. >There’s a knock at the door.
  1675. >Vinyl looks up at you from her bed.
  1676. >Her leg is looking pretty beat up, but it still works.
  1677. >Thankfully.
  1678. >At first, you don’t want to leave her alone.
  1679. >But she assures you she will be fine for however long you need.
  1680. >You don’t feel right when she’s alone, but you don’t really have a choice.
  1681. >You head through the living room to the door.
  1682. >It’s a police officer.
  1683. >You think you already know what this is about.
  1684. “Look, I’ve already talked this over with the Auction, I’ve agreed to pay for their door, what more do they want? My blood? My soul?”
  1685. >”They’re a business in America, they already own your soul, but that’s beside the point.”
  1686. >You kinda respect the officer a little more.
  1687. >”I’m here to inform you that you’ll need to appear in court to settle these grievances with the Auction legally. After all, you did commit several misdemeanours. Or well, she did, at least. But you’ll take the blame, obviously.”
  1688. >The officer points behind you at Vinyl.
  1689. “So when’s this all going down then?”
  1690. >The officer gives you the details.
  1691. >You go to close the door on him before he stops you.
  1692. >”Oh, and a word of advice. I’ve encountered people like you before. When you go to court, I wouldn’t bring the pony. You never know what the judge might decide is an appropriate punishment.”
  1693.  
  1694. >”I don’t see why I need to wear the collar.”
  1695. “We need to make a good impression. Besides, I think it looks kinda cute.”
  1696. >”Just don’t expect me to put it on ever again.”
  1697. “It’s your choice. How’s your leg?”
  1698. >Vinyl shifted her weight.
  1699. >”It’ll get better.”
  1700. “I still think you should have stayed at home.”
  1701. >”And I said no. We’ll get through the future together.”
  1702. >The sound of the gavel hitting the sound block snapped her attention back to court.
  1703. >It had been a while since you were last in court.
  1704. >The last time must have been when you were a teenager. For vandalism.
  1705. >The judge goes through the charges, the case, your rights and all that other boring legal jargon.
  1706. >You already know why you’re here.
  1707. >”How does the defendant plead?”
  1708. >You stand up.
  1709. >You and Vinyl had discussed this beforehand.
  1710. >You figured accepting it was the best option.
  1711. >They’d be able to prove Vinyl did it quite easily anyway.
  1712. >And if the sentence was too heavy, then…
  1713. >Well, you didn’t want to think of that.
  1714. >You’d originally not wanted to tell Vinyl what could happen, but you’d promised her.
  1715. >No more lies.
  1716. >”Guilty.”
  1717. >The judge looks over his records.
  1718.  
  1719. >”Then it’s simple. For his negligence that resulted in the damages previously stated, the escape of seven slaves and the assault of several personal at the Auction, Anon will pay compensation to the Auction for the cost of repairs and retrieval. Furthermore, his right to ownership of a slave shall be suspended for a period of three years, since he has proven himself incapable of properly disciplining and controlling one.”
  1720. >Your smile drops.
  1721. “Wait, what about Vin…”
  1722. >”The defendant will remain silent while the sentence is called.”
  1723. >You look over at Vinyl.
  1724. >All the blood has trained from her face, leaving her pale.
  1725. >Her pupils are tiny in her eyes.
  1726. >That horrible feeling is building in your gut.
  1727. >”The slave in question is hereby declared as Auction property again and shall undergo six months of disciplinary training before resale.”
  1728. >”Anon…”
  1729. >You look over at Vinyl.
  1730. >You suppose you’re not doing a very good job of hiding your emotions, because she doesn’t look very comforted by your face.
  1731. >”Anon, I can’t go back. They’ll kill me!”
  1732. “Don’t worry, we can fix this, I’ll…uh, think of something. Don’t worry.”
  1733. >”Don’t worry? Anon, they’re going to separate us!”
  1734. “I know just…don’t panic.”
  1735. >You can feel your heart beat in your chest.
  1736. >”I can’t go back to them, Anon. Not after you. I…I can’t.”
  1737. >You try to tell her that everything is going to be okay but…
  1738. >For the first time, you don’t think they will.
  1739.  
  1740. “I’ll find a way, Vinyl.”
  1741. >You move to grab her, but an officer gets in the way.
  1742. >He probably remembers how hard it was to separate you last time.
  1743. >You feel someone pull Vinyl’s leash out of your hand.
  1744. >Someone’s holding you back as well.
  1745. >Vinyl is struggling as a cop tries to pull her along.
  1746. >”Anon, help! I’m not leaving you!”
  1747. >Blue magic surrounds you and you’re pulled forward violently.
  1748. >Vinyl tries to leap into you but is pulled backwards by her neck.
  1749. >Your legs are kicked out from under you and you fall to the ground.
  1750. “Vinyl!”
  1751. >You can’t see her anymore, but you can hear her fighting.
  1752. >”Anon!”
  1753. “I’ll find you, Vinyl. I’ll find you.”
  1754. >You’re not sure how you’ll live without her.
  1755. >How you’ll get home alone.
  1756. >How you’ll sleep alone.
  1757. >You need her just as much as she needs you.
  1758. >This can’t be how it ends between you.
  1759. >You pull yourself to your feet just in time to see them pull her out the door.
  1760. >She’s reaching towards you.
  1761. >And crying.
  1762. >”You said you wouldn’t return me! You lied to me! Anon! Stop them! Please.”
  1763. >Then the doors closed.
  1764. >You never saw her again.
  1765.  
  1766. >”So how much was my eternal, life-long, unbreakingly loyal enslavement worth?”
  1767. >You looked over at the pony on the other side of your couch.
  1768. >You were certain they were supposed to sit on them by now.
  1769. ”4000 dollars.”
  1770. >”4000 dollars? That’s…that’s actually about what I’d say I’m worth. Good call.”
  1771. “Thanks. Now don’t think that just because I bought you that you’re mine, okay? We’re going to work together on this, get to know each other and who knows? Maybe we’ll become friends.
  1772. >The pony looks at you.
  1773. >”You’re new to the slavery business, aren’t you?”
  1774. “Please, you’re not my first slave.”
  1775. >She was your second.
  1776. >”So how’s this all going to work then?”
  1777. >You shrug.
  1778. “You can use the spare room as your own. Just don’t touch the glasses on the nightstand. I don’t know where to put them and I hate looking at them. Other than that, feel free to roam around.”
  1779. >”Aren’t you afraid I’ll…”
  1780. “No. Besides, you’ll only be staying until I can find a way to send you back to Equestria for good. Great place, by the way.”
  1781. >She looks slightly surprised.
  1782. >You look at your watch.
  1783. “No time to argue though. We’ve got a protest to start. I haven’t let them have an easy Auction for two years and I’m not giving them this one just because you’re here, miss…”
  1784. >”Spitfire.”
  1785. “Well then, Spitfire. Are you coming or staying? Things won’t get better unless we make them. I’ve got quite a crowd by now, I think people are finally starting to take notice. We were on the news last week.”
  1786. >Spitfire gives it some thought.
  1787. >”Sure, why not? Beats getting raped. Or beat.”
  1788. “Ah, with me around, that’ll be the last thing on your mind. Now come on.”
  1789.  
  1790.  
  1791. >You are Vinyl Scratch.
  1792. >At least, you were pretty sure that's what your name was.
  1793. >You'd been called a number of names these last couple years. Vinyl Scratch was not among them.
  1794. >But you're pretty sure that was your name.
  1795. >Though it felt much less like your name and more of a reminder.
  1796. >A reminder of another life that had no congruity with the present.
  1797.  
  1798. >You can barely remember his face. Or his eyes. Or his hair. Or even the part of him you proclaimed your undying love for that one night.
  1799. >Of course maybe you do remember, but your brain wants you to forget. Just like Octavia.
  1800. >Better to forget the things that'll never return, right?
  1801. >And you could do a damned good job of that.
  1802. >You could forget everything.
  1803. >Your incredulity at the price he paid for you.
  1804. >Your attempts at cooking which resulted in minor arson.
  1805. >The time he got you into the movies by claiming you were his seeing-eye pony.
  1806. >When you tried to sue to reclaim the rights to her music.
  1807. >Good moments in bad times. Bad moments in good times.
  1808. >You could forget all of those.
  1809. >But no matter what you did, you couldn't forget the last time you saw him.
  1810. >Those damn dirty humans pulling you away, your magic flaring as you tried to keep him close.
  1811. >The last words you said to him.
  1812. >”You said you wouldn’t return me! You lied to me! Anon! Stop them! Please.”
  1813. >And he was gone.
  1814.  
  1815. >The days passed. They turned to months. They turned to years.
  1816. >Or at least you thought they did. One of the consequences of being locked in a room with 4 walls and a floor.
  1817. >No clock or windows to tell the passage of time.
  1818. >So for all you know, you could've just been here for a week. Or you'd been wasting away for a century.
  1819. >You were supposed to get 6 months reconditioing. But they gave up after the first two weeks.
  1820. >Same complaints as before. Too stubborn. Too vicious. Can't be tamed.
  1821. >In a way, that made you feel proud.
  1822. >They didn't even sell you at the Auctions anymore. You guess word got out.
  1823. >The fact that you seemed to be something of a face for the growing movement against the auction seemed to have something to do with it as well.
  1824. >So they just locked you in the cell and left you to rot.
  1825. >At first you wondered why. Why not just shoot you in the back and be done with it, like what they did to Octavia?
  1826. >Then you realized.
  1827. >They wanted your death to be an agonizing one.
  1828. >Not by making you bleed out, or any phyiscal pain.
  1829. >But by watching more and more of your kind being taken from their world to be sold as playthings.
  1830. >To listen as your music was played at these Auctions.
  1831. >To hear the cries of the other ponies as they were broken and remade to suit the needs of their new masters.
  1832. >And not only was there nothing you could do about it, but slowly you had to accept the fact that it wouldn't change.
  1833. >No one was coming to save them.
  1834. >No one was coming to save you.
  1835. >You wanted to go with the flow, carry you down the stream. And now it had brought you out to the sea.
  1836. >You were going to drown. And no one would notice.
  1837. >Or even care.
  1838.  
  1839. >Your body was curled up on the semi-rigid rectangle that could only be modestly described as a mattress.
  1840. >You were cold. But you did not shiver.
  1841. >You didn't feel anything.
  1842. >Mercifully it seemed that tonight was a slow night. Not a single sound echoed down the halls.
  1843. >Except the rain.
  1844. >Funny. You don't recall the rain having voices in it.
  1845. >Voices that were shouting.
  1846. >Must be your mind playing tricks on you again.
  1847. >You'd been down here so long, you wondered what was real anymore.
  1848. >Was anon even real? Were you so broken and battered that you created an entire fantasy just to escape?
  1849. >The evidence wasn't exactly doing much to go against that theory.
  1850. >You closed your eyes and tried to sleep. How long had it been since you pulled that off?
  1851. >The door suddenly opening told you that it wasn't going to happen tonight.
  1852. >Your face twists into a grimace. Half because of the light, the other half in anticipation of whatever beating you were about to get.
  1853. >In a way though, you should be glad. At least it showed they still remembered you were here.
  1854. >What you didn't expect though, was a voice.
  1855. >"Vinyl Scratch?"
  1856. >You open your eyes a bit in surprise. You hadn't heard your name in years.
  1857. >"Are you Vinyl Scratch?"
  1858. >You manage to lift your head to face the speaker. Your blurred vision can't quite make them out. They're an amorphous blob sihlouetted by a brilliant wall of light.
  1859. "M-maybe?"
  1860. >The figure quickly shuts the door, moving towards you. They quickly grab your flank and roll you over, exposing your cutie mark.
  1861. >It's only now you realize they grabbed you not with a hand, but by wrapping a fetlock around your midsection.
  1862. >They're a pony.
  1863. >"You're a hard mare to find." They comment as they release you.
  1864. >They're also female, as you don't recall too many stallions having that particular vocal inflection. Though her voice still does have a gravelly undertone to it.
  1865. "I am?"
  1866. >You ask, confused.
  1867. >"Well you haven't been on the auction listing in almost 3 years."
  1868.  
  1869. >Three years.
  1870. >Three goddamned years.
  1871. >"You know, I had a bet with some of the others if you were even here. I figured there's no way the Auction would just be stupid enough to just keep you locked up in the same damn warehouse you trashed.
  1872. >She gave an almost throaty chuckle.
  1873. >"Looks like I'm out 500 bits. That was your original going price, right?"
  1874. >You nod.
  1875. >The mare turns to you. To your surprise she has no face. But as your foggy mind starts to clear up, you realize it's because she's wearing a full face mask. In fact, she's clad in a black bodysuit that doesn't look altogether different from what the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well had.
  1876. >'Great.' You think to yourself. 'Now I know I'm going fucking mental.'
  1877. >Your internal monoglouge is derailed when she speaks again.
  1878. >"In all seriousness though, I am glad to see you."
  1879. >You would smile, but you weren't sure you remembered how.
  1880. >"Can you walk?"
  1881. >You couldn't even remember the last time you were out of bed. For all you know your legs could've atrophied.
  1882. "I-I'm not sur-"
  1883. >The mare suddenly reaches behind you and pushes you off the bed.
  1884. >You yelp in surprise and reflexivly stick your legs out.
  1885. >You land on your front two hooves, but you can't get your balance and you topple over.
  1886. >It takes a bit, but you manage to make your way up. Your legs are wobbly and it feels like you have lead weights around your hooves.
  1887. >But you're standing.
  1888. >"Good enough." The mare comments.
  1889. >"Alright then. Let's get out of here."
  1890.  
  1891. >Your mind is reeling. In one moment your entire world has been turned upside down.
  1892. >Here was this strange mare in your cell, demanding to know your name, if you could walk, and now she wanted to leave?
  1893. >And suggesting the latter with the casualness someone suggesting a place to eat would?
  1894. >It was insanity.
  1895. >So you responded the only way you could.
  1896. "We can't."
  1897. >Oddly, this didn't deter her.
  1898. >"Sure we can."
  1899. >You shake your head.
  1900. "No we can't."
  1901. >You say it more forcefully.
  1902. "There's guards everywhere and this whole place is barracaded."
  1903. >She still didn't waver.
  1904. >"There's always something we can do."
  1905. >But it was the next words out of her mouth that almost left you speechless.
  1906. >"We found a portal back to Equestria. Just a stone's throw away from here, really. Honestly we should've figured it out sooner but-"
  1907. "Do you even HEAR yourself?!"
  1908. >You don't care if anyone can hear you. You've had just about enough of this crazy talk.
  1909. "First of all, HOW do you expect to get out of this place? I can barely even stand! How am I going to outrun the gaurds?"
  1910. >"Well can you still use magic?"
  1911. >The fact that she said that so casually just makes your blood boil at the sheer audacity of this mare.
  1912. "Well....I haven't taken those drugs in ages..."
  1913. >They stopped forcing you to take them when they decided to leave you to die.
  1914. "But I haven't used magic since....since..."
  1915. >That day.
  1916. >"Well you can still do it. It's just like walking. You can't unlearn magic. No matter how many drugs they give you."
  1917. "I told you I haven't done it in forever."
  1918. >"But you technically still can do it?"
  1919. "Well, yes but I can't-"
  1920. The mare suddenly turns to face you.
  1921. >"Look, do you want to get out of here or do you want to stay?"
  1922. >The sudden outburst shocks you and you find yourself stumbling backwards.
  1923. >Because you're still getting used to standing, you fall right on your behind. Back against the mattress.
  1924. >Only now do you realize that you're hyperventilating.
  1925.  
  1926. >The mask is expressionless. But the mare walks over by your side.
  1927. >Her tone becomes considerably softer.
  1928. >"Listen, Vinyl. I know all about you. And, I get it. It's been brutal. If I was in your shoes, I'd probably want to do the same thing. Just curl up in bed, close my eyes and tune out everyone. Just wait to die."
  1929. >Your head droops. A single tear rolls down your cheek.
  1930. >The mare continues.
  1931. >"I mean, what's the point in going on, right? What's the point in living? You were kidnapped, you were forced into slavery, your wife died, and when you finally found a good home they put you in a hole and buried you. I mean, it doesn't get any rougher than that."
  1932. >You can barely bring yourself to nod.
  1933. >"But that doesn't matter now. What matters is what you're going to do about it. If you're gonna stay here and waste away, fine. But if you want to go? You gotta get on with it. You gotta stop going with the flow, plant your hooves on that bank, pull yourself out and start living again."
  1934. >You close your eyes as her words sink in.
  1935. >For years all you heard was that you were a worthless pony. You weren't even dirt.
  1936. >And now you were nothing.
  1937. >But the words that this mare spoke. They resonated within you. Something inside you awoke.
  1938. >And suddenly you could recall something that someone once said to you. You could hear it clear as day.
  1939. >"Things will only get better if we make them get better."
  1940. >Anon.
  1941. >"Hey Vinyl?"
  1942. >You open your eyes and glance up.
  1943. >"I think it's time for you to go home. What do you say."
  1944. >You close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  1945. >It feels like the first breath you've taken in years.
  1946. >You hoist yourself back to your hooves. There's no tremor now. Not anymore.
  1947. >The words of a long forgotten letter come back to you.
  1948. >You vowed to find a way home, or die trying.
  1949. >No time like the present.
  1950. >You open your eyes.
  1951. "Let's go."
  1952.  
  1953. >Without another word, the mare turns to open the door. The light is no longer blinding.
  1954. >Shouts echo faintly down the hallway. There's sounds of a struggle.
  1955. "Hey, before we go. How did you find me?"
  1956. >The mare just glances over her shoulder.
  1957. >"It's a hell of a story."
  1958.  
  1959. "So what's yours?"
  1960. >"Hmm?"
  1961. >The mare turned to look at you. The hallway was devoid of everyone save for you. This was the sub-level, where the more...difficult...ponies were kept.
  1962. >Oddly all the cells seemed to be empty.
  1963. >The shouts were a faint din. They were coming from above.
  1964. "I mean, what's your story? How'd you get here? Where'd you come from?"
  1965. >Though she's wearing a mask, you can swear you see an expression of annoyance flash across it.
  1966. >"Do we really have to do this now?"
  1967. "Well seeing as you just barged in here out of nowhere to supposdly save me"
  1968. >You point a hoof to the ceiling
  1969. "And given that there's something going down upstairs that I'm guessing you're involved in, I think I'm gonna need some reasons to trust you before I follow you out."
  1970. >"What happened to you being in no condition to walk?"
  1971. "Forget that. How do I know this isn't some trap by the Auction? That you aren't leading me to a shed to get a bullet through the brain?"
  1972. >You sit on your haunches in a defiant pose.
  1973. "Now start talking or I'm not going anywhere."
  1974. >The mare gives a resigned sigh. She rubs here temple with a hoof.
  1975. >But she does turn to you.
  1976. >"I was sent here a year ago, to become a slave like you. I used to be a pretty important pony back home, so I had a high asking price."
  1977. "How much?"
  1978. >"Few thousand bits."
  1979. "Heh. That's what I figured I was worth."
  1980. >You actually smirk at that. Your trademark swagger was starting to show itself again.
  1981. >This actually seemed to please the mare. So she continued.
  1982. "Well, I don't have to tell you I was scared. Especially after the whole...conditioning process they make you go through."
  1983. >She practically spits out the last part of the sentence. You can certainly relate.
  1984. >"Luckily I was bought by the right kind of people."
  1985. "The...right kind of people?"
  1986. >She gives a nod.
  1987.  
  1988. >"You made quite a stir you know. Coming back here, tearing up the place, beating that one worker to within an inch of his life. To say nothing of that leaked video of your trial."
  1989. >You cringe as that painful memory rears up again. But you cover up its surfacing with some swagger.
  1990. "Wow...I had no idea I was that big of a deal."
  1991. >"You were, and you still are. A bunch of humans started talking and they decided this whole slavery thing is kind of...uh..."
  1992. >She struggled to search for the right word.
  1993. "Bullshit?"
  1994. >"Yes, that. At first it was just a few people, and the Auction just brushed them off as owners who got raw deals with their ponies. Sour grapes and stuff. But more and more people started joining. And now...it's kind of become a movement."
  1995. >As she talks, more and more of your memeory seems to come back. Or rather, your brain decides to stop pretending to forget them.
  1996. "Huh...now that you mention it, I think I remember hearing something about that the last time I was up for auction...yeah, they used me as like..uh...a mascot or something, right?"
  1997. >"Well I wouldn't go that far, but your case was the most well known. Eventually more people started to follow the example of your own-er..your friend. Treating their ponies as equals instead of property."
  1998. "I guess the Auction didn't like that?"
  1999. >"Not one bit."
  2000. "Well they can eat a dick."
  2001. >"That they can. Anyway, these humans have been buying Ponies now just so they can get them back to Equestria. I was one of those ponies."
  2002. >You nod, understanding.
  2003.  
  2004. "So...is this like some sort of repayment? You find me and you can go home?"
  2005. >The mare shakes her head.
  2006. >"Not exactly. See...my job back in Equestria was to protect ponies."
  2007. "Oh, like the royal guard?"
  2008. >She shrugs.
  2009. >"Sort of. Well, when the humans started enslaving ponies, I felt like I'd failed in my duty. The ponies I swore to keep safe were being taken and enslaved and I couldn't do anything about it."
  2010. >"I guess, in a way, it's a good thing that I was sent here. And once my owner explained what they were going to do, I was on board in a heartbeat. And for the last year, I've been breaking out ponies and sending them back to Equestria."
  2011. >"So to answer your question directly, I guess you could say that I'm honor bound to bring you home."
  2012. >Hearing this makes you feel immensely better. A pony breaking her out not because she had to, but because she wanted to? Couldn't ask for anything better than that.
  2013. >For the first time in forever, you felt like someone was in your corner. That it was no longer a struggle against this entire fucking world.
  2014. >You felt that, maybe, things could change.
  2015. >Voices echoed down the hall, and menacing shadows appeared.
  2016. >"We need to leave."
  2017. >She didn't need to tell you twice. Mustering up what strength there was in your legs, you took off after her.
  2018.  
  2019. >The voices grow louder. The footsteps pounding.
  2020. >"If you can use magic, now would be the time." The mare deadpans.
  2021. >You couldn't argue with that.
  2022. >You turn around. There's one of the guards advancing on you. Nightstick out.
  2023. >You concentrate, your horn flares.
  2024. >A short beam of light shoots out and strikes the guard in the chest.
  2025. >He stumbles but keeps after you.
  2026. >The mare is aghast.
  2027. >"Are you kidding me?!"
  2028. "I'm a little rusty okay?! Give me a fucking break!"
  2029. >Maybe she would, but the humans wouldn't.
  2030. >You round a corner. The guards close on your heels.
  2031. >You try again, charging up another shot.
  2032. >You strike a guard in the leg. He screams in pain.
  2033. >He trips and falls right into his companion and both crash to the ground.
  2034. >Not what you had in mind, but it worked.
  2035. >"There's a staircase ahead. It'll take us to the surface."
  2036. >Your legs feel as if they're on fire. They hadn't run like this in years.
  2037. >But you couldn't give less of a shit now if you tried.
  2038. >There's the staircase, bathed in an orange light from the upper floor.
  2039. >Suddenly another guard jumps in front of you.
  2040. >"Hold it right there."
  2041. >You panic. You shout. You close your eyes.
  2042. >Your horn glows.
  2043. >And so does the air around him.
  2044. >As you contort your body, you whip your head around.
  2045. >The gaurd slams into a door, dissappearing into a cell.
  2046. >You blink, aghast. You had no idea you could still do that!
  2047. >"Well that works." The mare quips before bounding up the stairs.
  2048. >You follow.
  2049.  
  2050. >It looks like a warzone.
  2051. >Memories flood your mind. Of Ponyville in flaming ruins.
  2052. >But this time it's the humans who are being swallowed by the carnage.
  2053. >You knew that shouldn't make you feel better. But it did.
  2054. >Broken glass is everywhere. There's several small fires in various rooms.
  2055. >The Auction hall looks like a bomb went off in it. For all you know, one did. There's a blackened crater where the podium used to be. The stage is now a mess of splinters. The chairs just clumps of metal.
  2056. >From somewhere else in the building there's sounds of violence. Curses. Screams. Shouts.
  2057. >And all the voices human.
  2058. "Well it looks like I missed the fuckin party!"
  2059. >This actually got a bit of a laugh out of the mare.
  2060. >"It was just supposed to be a simple protest. A distraction to get you out. But then one of the Auction's guards fired a pistol and...it kinda escalated."
  2061. >You take a minute to survey the chaos.
  2062. "You're tellin me."
  2063. >You glance left and right. It seems like every single room is a disaster in its own right. You wonder just what the fuck went on here, but something tells you that you don't have time.
  2064. >As if on cue, the mare tugs at your tail.
  2065. >"This way!"
  2066. >You follow her. While the warehouse was vaguely familiar to you, it'd been years since you left your cell. And right now was certainly no time to guess which way was the right way.
  2067.  
  2068. >You gallop down a hall. Broken glass is strewn across the floor. Doors are shattered in their frames.
  2069. >The smell of smoke is inescapable. The fires burn off in the distance, providing a nightmarish glow to your surroundings.
  2070. >"On your left."
  2071. >You look left. There's a gaurd running at you.
  2072. >It's almost instinct now.
  2073. >Your horn glows. The air glows.
  2074. >He's tossed through a wall.
  2075. >If you weren't fighting for your life, you'd be able to pause in soak in how awesome that was.
  2076. >You turn right.
  2077. >Two more.
  2078. >A magical blast sends one sprawling. Another one hits a wall mounted fire extinguisher.
  2079. >It detonates, the concussion knocking the other guard off his feet.
  2080. >Not to mention giving you a helpful smokescreen.
  2081. >"Hey, careful of your blasts!"
  2082. >You face the mare with a look of absolute astonishment.
  2083. >She shrugs.
  2084. >"We kind of have a no-killing rule."
  2085. "Well where's the fun in that?!"
  2086. >The mare stops and turns to face you.
  2087. >"Trust me. It's a lot better to let them live with what they've done. "
  2088. "Oh come on don't give me that crap."
  2089. >You recall hearing something like that before.
  2090. "A lot of these assholes are totally fine with what they've done. I really don't see the fucking problem with sending them to fucking Tatarus."
  2091. >The mare remains resolute.
  2092. >"That may be. But ask yourself this. What would you prefer? A mostly quick death? Or for them to rot in a cell while they await a reckoning. To suffer as you suffered?"
  2093. >You weren't sure if it was the smoke making your thoughts hazy, or just your brain having trouble keeping up with the rapidly changing situation you found yourself in.
  2094. >But you had to admit she had a point. That sounded much better.
  2095. >An explosion sounds in the difference.
  2096. >"We don't have time to argue, let's move!"
  2097. >You pick up the pace.
  2098.  
  2099. >It was clear that whatever was going on in other parts of the building, the Auction wasn't losing.
  2100. >But they weren't winning either.
  2101. >After all, if they were winning, they'd have rounded up you and your companion by now, right?
  2102. >The door in front of you bursts open. Three men storm out.
  2103. >You turn around, there's three more.
  2104. >Horseapples.
  2105. >You glance back. You recognize one of the humans.
  2106. >He's the head auctioneer.
  2107. >And he has that look you'd seen a million times. It was the look he had when you first saw him.
  2108. >The look of a hunter who was about to devour his prey.
  2109. >"Okay, girls. Fun's over."
  2110. >His accent makes you want to vomit right there.
  2111. >But your friend is undeterred.
  2112. >"Back off."
  2113. >To your amazement, recognition flashes across his face.
  2114. >"You again? I should've guessed. This whole mess has your name written all over it, little lady."
  2115. >Your nostrils flare with anger.
  2116. >Your eyes dart around at the menacing faces. Looking for something, anything to help you.
  2117. >The smallest detail could make the difference.
  2118. >The auctioneer continues to address the mare.
  2119. >"You know I don't understand you folks. Why do y'all always wanna come down here and start trouble?"
  2120. >He looks over you and grins. It is a sickening, stomach turning grin.
  2121. >"And scare all these pretty little ponies?"
  2122. >He reaches down to stroke a hand through your mane.
  2123. >The hand is unnaturally smooth, but to you it might as well have been the blade of a knife.
  2124. >You recoil. If only so you don't bite off his finger.
  2125. >He doesn't react.
  2126. >He turns back to your friend.
  2127. >"You punks really ain't got nothin better to do than to come down here and show your ass?!"
  2128. >"Over there!"
  2129. >There's a hissing sound coming from your right.
  2130. >You turn over in time to see a trail of smoke impact the floor just feet away from the right-most guard.
  2131. >You aren't sure what it was, but the concussion knocks you on your flank.
  2132. >Everyone tumbles like dominoes.
  2133.  
  2134. >Behind you is chaos. In front of you is destruction.
  2135. >You glance back.
  2136. >The gaurds are engaged in a brawl with several other humans. These ones are different. They're dressed in the all black regalia that the mare wore.
  2137. >In fact, there she was now. Giving a gaurd all he could handle. How could she move that fast?
  2138. >Another guard came to tackle her.
  2139. >Brilliant yellow wings sprouted from a couple pouches on her back and she flew away. Just in time for the guard to bodyslam his colleague to the ground.
  2140. >Awesome.
  2141. >But wait, where was the auctioneer?
  2142. >The answer came in the form of a fist to your barrel.
  2143. >You gasp as you're knocked to the side.
  2144. >An impossibly smooth hand grips your neck and hoists you to the wall.
  2145. >You feel your larynx being crushed. Your lungs start to give out.
  2146. >The expression he wears is of pure hate.
  2147. >"Too good for the slow death, are ya?!"
  2148. >His primal rage can barely be heard over the sounds of the battle.
  2149. >"Time to do what I should've done years ago."
  2150. >He reaches into his pocket.
  2151. >The black finish of the pistol is unmistakeable.
  2152. >The barrel is pressed against your chest. It's as cold as Tartarus itself.
  2153. >"Say goodnight, little pony."
  2154.  
  2155. >A tear rolls down your cheek as your eyes shut, waiting for the explosion to tear you apart.
  2156. >To blow you into oblivion.
  2157. >It was only fitting this was how it ended.
  2158. >After years of no hope.
  2159. >Only to have it reappear for a fleeting moment, just to give you one last taunt.
  2160. >It was like it was meant to be.
  2161. >You were a broken pony.
  2162. >You were beyond hope.
  2163. >You were already dead.
  2164. >So this is how it has to end.
  2165. >...
  2166. >...no.
  2167. >No, it's not.
  2168. >It's not going to end right here.
  2169. >Not in a half destroyed building, with a slaver pressing a gun into your coat.
  2170. >You didn't deserve this.
  2171. >It was perhaps the first time since you left home that you could say those words.
  2172. >You didn't deserve to be a slave.
  2173. >You didn't deserve to have your soul ripped out.
  2174. >You didn't deserve to be killed by this fucker here.
  2175. >You'd found a way out of the ocean, but the current was pushing you away.
  2176. >It was time to push back.
  2177.  
  2178. >You could've sworn the man was cackling under his breath.
  2179. >Perfect.
  2180. >He was already gloating.
  2181. >Forgetting that he hadn't gotten his kill.
  2182. >It was all you needed.
  2183. >His finger begins to squeeze the trigger.
  2184. >Nothing happens.
  2185. >In fact. His finger stops moving.
  2186. >His expression slowly changes. From confidence to confusion.
  2187. >And your battered, bruised face began to show a smirk.
  2188. >He glances down. His hand is surrounded by a blue aura.
  2189. >"You...you fucking BITCH!"
  2190. >His other hand squeezes harder around your neck.
  2191. >So you decide to let his trigger finger move again.
  2192. >But in the opposite direction.
  2193. >You force it off the triger, away from the guard.
  2194. >The mouth of the auctioner went agape, his eyes wide as saucers, as his finger becomes straight and rigid.
  2195. >And keeps bending back.
  2196. >The snap is quick. But the scream is not.
  2197. >He doesn't even notice you peeling his other fingers off the grip of the pistol.
  2198. >Until they all snap backwards.
  2199. >Amidst the fighting, no one notices that a man suddenly has 4 fingers bending at right angles. The wrong right angles.
  2200. >Finally it becomes too much. His other hand leaves your throat, and grabbed his mangled hand in pain.
  2201. >You fall to the floor.
  2202.  
  2203. >The sudden drop is enough to break your concentration.
  2204. >Doesn't matter. You'd taken care of the bastard.
  2205. >As he slumps to the wall, one of the gaurds finally glances at the scene.
  2206. >His face nearly turns green when he sees what happened to his boss's hand.
  2207. >But then his eyes lock on you.
  2208. >"You cocksucking little-"
  2209. >He reaches for his pistol.
  2210. >The mare flies into him, tackling him into the wall.
  2211. >But she's not able to get a grip. With an uppercut, she's tossed aside like a ragdoll.
  2212. "NO!"
  2213. >He reaches to draw out his pistol again. In the blink of an eye it's aimed at your head.
  2214. >He was fast. But you were faster.
  2215. >A blue aura surrounds his arm and yanks it upward. The gun pointing at a hole in the ceiling.
  2216. >Right where a damaged gas main is leaking.
  2217. >Before he can even react, the gun roars.
  2218. >There's a terriffic explosion. All sound itself seems to vanish.
  2219. >A wall of fire washes over you.
  2220. >Then blackness.
  2221. >Nothing.
  2222.  
  2223. >....
  2224. >....
  2225. >"Vinyl?"
  2226. >That voice.
  2227. >"Vinyl!"
  2228. >You never thought you'd hear that voice again.
  2229. >"Vinyl!"
  2230. >But that would mean you were...
  2231. >You slowly open your eyes.
  2232. >You were no longer in the hallway of the warehouse.
  2233. >In fact, you weren't really sure where you were.
  2234. >It just seemed like an empty expanse. A void with no beginning or end.
  2235. >"Vinyl."
  2236. >That voice again.
  2237. >You turn your head. Strangely you feel no pain.
  2238. >Before you is an earth pony.
  2239. >Gray coat. Silky smooth black mane. Violet eyes you could get lost in for days. And a treble clef cutie mark.
  2240. "Tavi."
  2241.  
  2242. >She comes to you. Her smile could warm the coldest of winters.
  2243. >Your wife kneels before you, her hooves run along your side.
  2244. >"Oh...my Vinyl...what have they done to you?"
  2245. >You wouldn't know where to begin.
  2246. >And besides, right now you have one question on your mind.
  2247. "Am I dead?"
  2248. >She gives you that smile and shakes her head.
  2249. >"No. Not yet anyway."
  2250. >Well. At least you had that.
  2251. >And yet...
  2252. "But you are."
  2253. >She gives you that look. That little annoyed look when your blunt nature showed itself.
  2254. >Celestia, you missed that.
  2255. >"Well, yes. Tough to get more obvious than that."
  2256. >A throaty chuckle escapes your lips.
  2257. "Well...if you're dead and I'm not...why am I here?"
  2258. >"You tell me."
  2259.  
  2260. >Your strength has returned enough to allow you to get back on your hooves.
  2261. >The void remains as plain and empty as it was when you first arrived.
  2262. >Your whole world was literally Octavia.
  2263. >But as you looked at your late wife, a strong feeling of sorrow washed over you.
  2264. >It was never an easy task to apologize to your wife.
  2265. "Tavi...I'm so sorry. I'm sorry that I could'nt save you."
  2266. >"Vinyl...darling, it's okay.
  2267. "No, it's not okay!"
  2268. >The sudden change in tone statles even you.
  2269. "How is this okay?! How is any of this okay?! You were killed, my music was stolen, my friend was punished for trying to save me. My entire world was taken away from me, and for all I know I just got blown up in a fucking warehouse!
  2270. >"Vinyl-"
  2271. >You aren't done yet.
  2272. "I mean, what did I do to deserve this, huh?! All I did was make music! I was a good friend, I was always faithful to you, I didn't even say anything when Celestia allowed the humans to come to Equestria. So how does that justify all this horrible shit I've had to endure?! And every time even the SLIGHTEST bit of hope comes along, it just gets taken all away! WHY THE FUCK IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!"
  2273. >Your breath comes in shallow gasps.
  2274. >It was a hell of a speech. That is, if you really said it.
  2275.  
  2276. >For a while Octavia is silent. Then she speaks.
  2277. >"Vinyl...none of us asked for this. Just like we never ask for any of the challenges that life gives us. But we have to meet them all the same."
  2278. "Yeah, lot of fucking good that's done me."
  2279. >You give a sigh. It's a sorrowful weary one.
  2280. "I'm just tired, Octavia. Everyone's always telling me that things are only going to get better if I make them. But every time I try? It just seems like...things get worse."
  2281. >The tears begin to flow again.
  2282. "I mean, what can I do? I'm just a pony. I lost you, I lost my music, I lost my home, I even lost any chance of happiness again because they don't even try to sell me anymore."
  2283. "I have nothing. I am nothing."
  2284. >Octavia puts her hoof below your chin.
  2285. >"You're wrong. Vinyl."
  2286.  
  2287. >Her push is forceful, but gentle. She raises your eyes to meet hers.
  2288. >"It's true that you've lost so much. More than anypony can bare. But you know something? You had plenty of chances to give in. To just end it all. You can do so right here, right now, if you desire. You can leave that world behind and be at peace with me."
  2289. >"But you never did that. And I don't think you'll do it now. Do you know why?"
  2290. >You blink through the tears.
  2291. "Why?"
  2292. >"Because you are a stubborn mare, Vinyl Scratch. You got returned several times, that wasn't an accident. You were tossed in a cell to wither away and die. That wasn't an accident either. Many other ponies, myself included I'm sorry to say, didn't have the will you do. They broke us all and remade us as their own. But not you. You fought back. You always have and you always will."
  2293. >"And that, my dearest love, is what they fear the most. Not any weapon or spell, but a pony who is willing to resist. To show them that we are not just some beast of burden made to fulfill their desires. To challenge their incredibly arrogant belief that they are the dominant species of not just their world, but the universe."
  2294. >"And the best part of all? You've inspired others to do the same. Not just ponies, but humans as well. Humans who are willing to stand up and do the right thing, to resist temptation and denounce vices, to show not just ponykind but themselves that there is a better way forward. For all of us."
  2295. >She cups your face with her hooves and plants a kiss on your forehead.
  2296. >The warmth radiates through your body as she leans in to give you a nuzzle.
  2297. >"I am so proud of you, my dearest Vinyl. You have done what it takes many ponies and humans a lifetime to achieve."
  2298.  
  2299. >You can't help but smile.
  2300. >You are surprised your body remembers how to do so.
  2301. >But your lover's words ring true.
  2302. >They burn within you, building that fire inside.
  2303. >That fire that kept you from being totally broken. That got you in trouble more times than you care to mention.
  2304. >That fire that brought you to him.
  2305. >And the funny thing? You're just realizing now that it never went out.
  2306. >It was burning inside you all along. You just had to remember.
  2307. >You look back at Octavia.
  2308. "So...I can choose to just...stay here?"
  2309. >"Well you could. I don't think anyone would blame you. But I think we both know that you've already made the choice."
  2310. >Your head droops. She's right.
  2311. >But...
  2312. "I don't want to leave you again."
  2313. >She gives you that smile.
  2314. >"Vinyl. I'm always with you."
  2315. >She places her hoof to your chest. As cliched as it is, you can't help but feel comforted.
  2316. >"But you and I both know that there's a lot of people and ponies back there that need you. Most of all, him."
  2317. >Anon.
  2318.  
  2319. >As inappropriate as it is, this brings up something else.
  2320. "So...I guess that you.."
  2321. >Octavia giggles.
  2322. >"Oh now, darling, you've got plenty of time left. What kind of wife would I be if I didn't tell you to enjoy yourself?"
  2323. >She gives you a wink.
  2324. >"He is quite handsome, is he not?"
  2325. >A burning sensation creeps up to your cheeks. Were you actually blushing.
  2326. >"Vinyl, you've started something wonderful. And now it's up to you to finish it. Go back and be the mare that I know you can be."
  2327. >She takes your hooves in hers.
  2328. >"And when your work is finally done, I'll be waiting."
  2329. >Her lips meet yours.
  2330. >It's the most loving kiss you've ever felt.
  2331. >You hold the kiss. You hold eternity in an instant.
  2332. >But finally, you let go.
  2333. >"Now, get up."
  2334.  
  2335. >You're back.
  2336. >And you're hurting for it.
  2337. >With a grimace, you pull yourself to your hooves. You do a quick inspection.
  2338. >Other than being generally sore all over and a considerable amount of soot, you're none the worse for wear.
  2339. >The pain isn't anything you can't fight through.
  2340. >You glance around.
  2341. >The hallway was burnt to a crisp. Small fires burn from piles of paper and plants.
  2342. >The bodies of the quarreling humans, now all burned and distorted beyond all recognition.
  2343. >You feel a twinge of sadness for the ones that came for your behalf. And even for the gaurds.
  2344. >The mare who aided in your escape is nowhere to be found.
  2345. >But if she was here, she'd tell you to get moving.
  2346. >So you do. You take one step forward.
  2347. >Then another.
  2348. >Then another.
  2349. >Then a hand grips your leg.
  2350. >"...Vermin..."
  2351.  
  2352. >You glance down.
  2353. >There's a hand gripping your front right leg.
  2354. >Connected to a charred arm.
  2355. >Connected to a charred body.
  2356. >It's the auctioner, barely alive. Probably living through the sheer power of hate alone.
  2357. >He certainly looks the part now. A black amorphous blob, with seering white eyes.
  2358. >"All of you...vermin."
  2359. >His voice is barely a whisper.
  2360. >"You think you've won...this isn't over."
  2361. >Great, he's monolouging now.
  2362. >"Once word gets out...they'll find you...and they'll gut you...and we're going to make sure all your little friends spend the rest of their days...like them..."
  2363. >You glance up.
  2364. >There's a line of kennels in front of you.
  2365. >All of them with ponies.
  2366. >Amazingly they're unscathed from the blast.
  2367. >But they're frightened.
  2368. >And you don't know if they're more scared of the human, or you.
  2369. >"Beasts...all of you beasts...and you will all be...our beasts...."
  2370. >He uses whatever facial muscles that he can move to give that smile up at you.
  2371. >"We are...the superior species...we are..."
  2372. "Annnnddd...fuck you."
  2373.  
  2374. >You've had enough of him.
  2375. >You shake off his hand. It flops to the ground like dead tissue.
  2376. >Your horn glows and the kennel locks fall to the floor.
  2377. >The ponies don't need another hint. In an instant, they're gone.
  2378. >You head to join them.
  2379. >But there's one more thing you need to take care of first.
  2380. >You turn back to the auctioneer.
  2381. >Once upon a time this man held his fate in your hands.
  2382. >Now the tables had turned.
  2383. "Look at me."
  2384. >He is either unable or unwilling to comply.
  2385. "Look. At. Me."
  2386. >Your horn glows, and you seize his body.
  2387. >You contort his face so that he's staring right at you.
  2388. "I want you to remember me."
  2389. "Remember my red eyes."
  2390. "My electric blue mane."
  2391. "My sleek, toned body."
  2392. "My perfectly formed ass which is worth way more than 500 bits."
  2393. >"Dollar-"
  2394. >You cut him off by pressing your hoof into what's left of his ribcage.
  2395. "I'm Talking!"
  2396. >Other than a pained wheeze, he shuts up.
  2397. "Now let me tell you what's going to happen, that way you can prepare for it."
  2398. "I'm going to walk out that door. I'm going to find my friend. And to tell you the truth, I don't care where we go, as long as I'm with him."
  2399. "Then I'm going to do everything I can to bring your whole fucking outfit down. I don't care how long it takes, or whatever it takes. In case you haven't noticed, I'm kind of a big fuckin deal. So I don't think it'll take much for me to rally some support against your little fucked up business. And if you thought what happened here was bad..."
  2400. >Now it's your turn to give a devious grin.
  2401. "And THEN...I'm going to watch your ass get dragged in front of Celestia herself, along with the rest of you sick fucks. I'm going to be there as Celestia puts your ass in a hole so deep that gravity is going to pull you up."
  2402. "And the last thing you see before she buries you...is going to be me. So for the rest of your pathetic life, you'll know I am the source of all your suffering."
  2403.  
  2404. >He sneers up at you.
  2405. >"You really think....you can do....you're...just a pony..."
  2406. "Yeah, fuckface, I'm just a pony alright. Just a pony who resisted every attempt you made to break her. Just a pony who got sent back here so many times for being disobedient. Just a pony who inspired members of your own species to turn against you. Just a pony who you decided you'd rather leave to rot instead of trying to deal with me. Just a pony who burned you to a fucking crisp."
  2407. "The truth is, I'm not just any pony. I'm the pony that beat you."
  2408. >You lean down towards him. You can practically feel the heat radiating off his charred flesh.
  2409. "And the reason I'm allowing you to keep your life for now is this: so you can tell your masters in person everything that happened here tonight. I want them to witness the extent of my mercy by witnessing your broken body. I want you to tell them everything I just told you. I want them to know that I did this. I want them to know that I want them to know."
  2410. "And I want them all to know, that they're all going to be beaten by Vinyl Scratch."
  2411. >You don't release him from your hold.
  2412. >You slam his head to the floor.
  2413. >Not dead. Just unconscious.
  2414. >You made a note to yourself to thank Anon for showing you that movie.
  2415. >Anon.
  2416. >You looked up.
  2417. >Nothing in front of you now.
  2418. >No guards.
  2419. >No cages.
  2420. >Not even a door. That got blown away by the explosion.
  2421. >The river was no longer pushing against you. It had given up in vain.
  2422. >It was time to go home.
  2423.  
  2424. >It was a fucking disaster.
  2425. >It was supposed to be a simple protest.
  2426. >Get in, get out. That's all it was supposed to be.
  2427. >But some trigger happy hick had to fire his pistol.
  2428. >Now the entire fucking building was in flames.
  2429. >Police and fire were on the scene, trying to get control of the situation.
  2430. >You and those that made it out had managed to slip away.
  2431. >The practical upshot of all of this was that you got a lot of ponies out. Arrangements were being made to take them back to Equestria straight away.
  2432. >There were alot of ponies you helped save tonight. Mares, stallions, fillies, colts. Many of them thankful to be on their way back to their families.
  2433. >But there was one pony that was absent.
  2434. >The only one that mattered.
  2435. >You'd spent all day kicking yourself when you learned they never sent her away.
  2436. >She was right here on your doorstep for three fucking years. And you weren't man enough to save her until now?
  2437. >If all went according to plan, she would've been in your arms.
  2438. >But instead...
  2439.  
  2440. >"It got pretty hairy in there. I guess the guy in charge tried to shoot her and she panicked. The explosion wasn't her fault, by any means."
  2441. "Well, she did always have a thing with fire."
  2442. >Spitfire had to supprress a smirk.
  2443. >"It knocked me through two or three walls. By the time I got back there, she was gone."
  2444. >The former wonderbolt looked down.
  2445. >"I'm sorry, Anon. We had her and I lost her."
  2446. >You sigh and reach out to pat the pegasus on the back.
  2447. "It's not your fault. It just all went to hell. Can't blame anyone for that."
  2448. >Other than that prick guard.
  2449. "We'll just...we'll think of another way."
  2450.  
  2451. >"Fuck's sake dude, is that your answer for everything?"
  2452. >Your blood runs cold.
  2453. >You have to remember to take a breath.
  2454. >The voice was so shocking that your entire brain was triple checking to make sure it wasn't mistaken.
  2455. >You glance at Spitfire.
  2456. >She's looking right through you. Her face in shock.
  2457. >But relief.
  2458. >You turn around.
  2459. >Before you stands a mare who looks like she's seen her fair share of action.
  2460. >Her coat is almost stained totally black. But you can make out splotches of white.
  2461. >Her eyes, a beautiful red.
  2462. >Her mane is unkempt and frazzled, but an unmistakable shade of electric blue.
  2463. >She smiles up at you.
  2464. >"Hey anon. Been a while."
  2465.  
  2466. >This was the moment you'd been dreaming about for three long years.
  2467. >You always planned what you'd say to her.
  2468. >How you missed her so much.
  2469. >How you would never let her go again.
  2470. >But right now? Nothing came from your mouth.
  2471. >No woulds could describe the scene before you.
  2472. >Vinyl Scratch. Taken from you a slave.
  2473. >Now returned. A free mare.
  2474. >No words. None.
  2475.  
  2476. >You weren't sure how you ended up with your arms around her.
  2477. >But you weren't going to complain.
  2478. >You didn't want to hurt her, but right now you didn't care.
  2479. >And judging by how tightly she was embracing you, she didn't either.
  2480. >The tears soaked your dark jacket as she cried into your chest.
  2481. >But this time? The tears were of joy.
  2482. >Finally, your voice returns.
  2483. >And you can say the one thing that can bridge the gap.
  2484. "I'm sorry....I'm so sorry..."
  2485. >It's barely a whisper, but she hears it.
  2486. >"No. It's alright, anon. Everything's alright now."
  2487. >You nod, the tears beginning to flow down your face.
  2488. >She notices.
  2489. >"Don't you pussy out on me now."
  2490. >You smile from ear to ear.
  2491. "Fuck you."
  2492. >"Bite me."
  2493.  
  2494. >One of your fellow activists comes up to you.
  2495. >"Not to ruin the moment, but we got the cops closing in. I'll let you sit next to her in the car, but we need to go. Now."
  2496. >You look up and nod.
  2497. >As heartwarming as this was, the police still wouldn't be too happy.
  2498. >Sympathetic as some might be, they were still on the payroll of the auction.
  2499. >You quickly pile into the back of a black SUV. Inconspicuous in the dead of night.
  2500. >Vinyl hops into the seat beside you, Spitfire next to her.
  2501. >Only then does Vinyl notice her.
  2502. >Her eyes go wide.
  2503. >"Whoa! Hey! You're Spitfire! From the Wonderbolts!"
  2504. >She nods.
  2505. >"What are you-I mean, how did you get here?!"
  2506. >"I've been here, Vinyl."
  2507. >Only then does Vinyl see that she's clad in a black jumpsuit.
  2508. >Her jaw just about hits the floor.
  2509. >It would be funny if it weren't so serious.
  2510. >"...how-"
  2511. >You decide to fill her in.
  2512. "I bought her at an auction about 2 years after you were gone."
  2513. >She puts on a face of mock hurt.
  2514. >"Oh I get it, so you let me rot in that hellhole while you had yourself some Wonderbolt pussy?"
  2515. >You raise an eyebrow.
  2516. "Hey if you're gonna act like that to the pony that saved your life, I can always put you back."
  2517. >Vinyl just grins.
  2518. >"Oh sure. Give me back to the Auction who's warehouse I just blew up. I'm sure they're gonna be fine with it."
  2519. >Her brash nature actually catches you off gaurd.
  2520. "You're not worried about them putting you down?"
  2521. >She just winks.
  2522. >"After the number I did to the asshole in charge? Not really."
  2523. >Now it was Spitfire's turn to look shocked.
  2524. >"That was you?!"
  2525. >Vinyl shrugs, but her smile remains.
  2526. >"Well the fire took care of most of it, but I think I made it pretty clear if they lay a finger on me again...there's gonna be some trouble."
  2527. >You had to admit, you were impressed. Even if you were a tad frightened.
  2528.  
  2529. "Anyway, once I told Spitfire what I was doing, she joined up. She's been helping us get ponies out of these warehouses for the past year now. It helps having a pegasus who can fly unhindered."
  2530. >Spitfire turned to Vinyl.
  2531. >"When he told me how important you were to him, I couldn't say no. Like I told you, I'm honor bound to save fellow ponies. But, after learning how much you meant to him? There was no way I was leaving that place without you. Glad to see you got out in one piece."
  2532. >Vinyl looks up at you. She has a genuine smile.
  2533. >She leans into you, resting her head against your chest. Nuzzling into your side lovingly.
  2534. >"I missed you, anon." She whispers.
  2535. "And I've missed you."
  2536. >You reach down to rub her back as your world becomes whole again.
  2537. >"Hey Spitfire, how did you get out of that place anyway?"
  2538. >The pegasus grins at Vinyl.
  2539. >"It's a hell of a story."
  2540.  
  2541.  
  2542. >The car drops you off at your place.
  2543. >You never left in all those years.
  2544. >In hindsight, it was a good thing you hadn't, seeing as Vinyl was near you all along.
  2545. >"Anything else?"
  2546. >Spitfire looked up at you. Slavery or not, she still had the discipline of a soldier.
  2547. "No. Thank you, Spitfire."
  2548. >She smiles.
  2549. >"Don't stay up too late."
  2550. >And with that, she takes to the sky and dissappears.
  2551. >Vinyl looks up after her.
  2552. >"She doesn't live here?"
  2553. "Technically yes. But she prefers to be in the clouds."
  2554.  
  2555. >You head inside.
  2556. >You toss your jacket off to the side.
  2557. >Both you and Vinyl are gonna need a long shower to clean up.
  2558. >But that doesn't matter now.
  2559. >You flop down onto your couch.
  2560. >Vinyl is in your lap, her head on your chest.
  2561. >A feeling you never thought you'd have again.
  2562. >"So what happens now?"
  2563. "Well, I suppose you heard we found a portal back home."
  2564. >"Yeah, Spitfire mentioned that."
  2565. "Well right now we gotta get all the ponies that we can through it before the Auction catches on."
  2566. >"Are they going to be shut down soon? I mean, legally?"
  2567. "Eh, let the politicos figure that one out. But I do know several states just banned the Auction in the US and declared all enslaved ponies to be liberated, so there's hope.
  2568. >This brings a smile to her face.
  2569. "But what about you?"
  2570. >She looks up at you with a confused look.
  2571. "You're a free mare now, Vinyl. You can go home."
  2572. >She just smiles and chuckles softly.
  2573. >"You really don't get it, do ya?
  2574. >She closes the gap between you and presses her lips to yours.
  2575. >You don't hesitate to return the kiss.
  2576. >"I'm home."
  2577. >As she lays back down on your chest, your grab the remote and flip on the TV.
  2578. "How about a movie?"
  2579. >She gives a shrug.
  2580. >"What're we watching?"
  2581. >You browse through your netflix queue. You'd seen a lot of these before.
  2582. >There. That seemed appropriate.
  2583. >Vinyl tilted her head at the title.
  2584. >"D-Jango?"
  2585. "The D is silent.
  2586. >She shrugs.
  2587. >"Whatever, dude."
  2588.  
  2589. >The unicorn mare settles back down onto you. Her legs lazily wrapped around you in an embrace.
  2590. >You do the same with your arms as the first scenes of Tarantino's southern flash on the screen.
  2591. >This movie was one of your favorites, and right now it seemed appropriate.
  2592. >But right now, you didn't care.
  2593. >All that mattered was that your three years of heartache were over.
  2594. >Vinyl was home.
  2595. >Now there was one last thing to take care of.
  2596. >You reached into your pocket.
  2597. >You pulled out a pair of glasses.
  2598. >Rectangular framed, blue tinted.
  2599. >Immediatly upon seeing them, Vinyl broke into a grin.
  2600. >"Mine."
  2601. >She quickly snatched them out of your hand.
  2602. >She placed them on her muzzle before nuzzling into your chest.
  2603.  
  2604. >There were many things in the world that you still couldn't change.
  2605. >But tonight, you changed the one thing they told you that you couldn't.
  2606. >This wasn't the end. There was still a long road ahead.
  2607. >But in this moment? None of that mattered.
  2608. >Vinyl was here at last.
  2609. >She was home.
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