Shutdown64

-The Get Chapter 9-

Feb 18th, 2014
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  1. - The Get Chapter 9 -
  2.  
  3. You'd finally worked up the courage to announce your name to Rarity. Well, was it courage? Part of you had been preventing yourself from mentioning it solely out of spite. As much as you hated to admit it, you needed to test how interested these ponies were about you and asking for a name/title/alias seemed like an obvious starting point. However, the question wasn't asked when it was relevant and the longer your name went unspoken the larger the doubt of acceptance grew in your mind. Eventually it reached a point where you stopped caring, actively accepting the label "Poster" and gave up hope that anyone would ever want to know you on a personal level. That is, until Applejack asked you. Even now it pains to recall the moment of appearing as a dumb mute, completely unaware of what was forces were changing your larynx.
  4.  
  5. The other part of you had been avoiding name use for another reason: Sanity. As you knew all too well, giving something a name is the first stage of attachment. If you gave your name that'd make it much harder on everyone if you eventually had to go... somewhere. If Applejack's mentoring relationship was anything to go by, it'd likely be an unpleasant experience for all if they got too attached. Then again... telling Rarity your name was a milestone - you want to be acknowledged as an individual and want to form some kind of... friendship? Friendship is magic, after all. Ugh.
  6.  
  7. To your surprise, Rarity's face scrunches up at the announcement of your name.
  8.  
  9. -
  10.  
  11. "Dee?" Rarity repeats, her confused eyes amplified by her red spectacles. "Like... Dee-ar? Deer? Do you have a 2nd name, like 'Lerious' or something?"
  12.  
  13. At this you roll your eyes.
  14.  
  15. "Not all names are like pony names, 'least not where I'm from. Not that I fully understand how pony names work... but I know they're essentially just words put together; for example Rainbow and Dash, or Flutter and Shy. Hell just mix any noun and verb together to get an instant pony name, like 'Toilet Scrub'.
  16.  
  17. "Now come on, Dee-Dee, That's not true!" Rarity sniffs disapprovingly, though you see her lip curve slightly.
  18.  
  19. Your stomach lurches uncomfortably at the sudden bastardization of your name, dragging up bitter memories of teasing from your school years.
  20.  
  21. "Please, just Dee. Short, simple, sorted." you say rather briskly. This was an issue that needed to be dealt with now.
  22.  
  23. "But it just sounds so empty, just one syllable. My name is pretty short yet still has 3 syllables: Ra-ri-ty. What if we call you... Poster Dee? Or Dee Poster?"
  24.  
  25. At "Dee Poster" you burst out laughing. "You're making me sound like some weird German serial killer or something."
  26.  
  27. Rarity raises an eyebrow. "What's a German?"
  28.  
  29. "It's a nationality from my home world. Kinda like how here you have... different nations for Griffins and stuff. I guess."
  30.  
  31. "And why does 'Dee Poster' make you sound like a murdering Griffin?" Rarity questions, looking mildly irked. Not wanting to explain in detail you brush the question off.
  32.  
  33. -
  34.  
  35. As the day goes on, you can't help smiling. For once you don't feel emotional weights dragging you down into utter misery. In fact, the next few hours you spend chatting with Rarity are positively delightful. As you both toil away with fiercely clicking sewing machines Rarity talks about her family, obtaining her cutie mark and enthusiastically detailing her adventures with her friends. All the while, she produces a godly golden fabric which contrasts harshly with your poor, misshapen socks. Sewing still isn't your most favorite of tasks, but talking made it much less painful even if it kept splitting your concentration. Thankfully these socks weren't intended for a long life.
  36.  
  37. Around afternoon you both stop for a lunch break partaking in an apple sandwich. Might as well experiment, right? As you munch away, the taste of apple subconsciously fills you with remorse; it takes a moment to understand why.
  38.  
  39. "Was... I really out of order for saying I'm not lucky?" you ask Rarity sheepishly. All your worries about Applejack hating you were in full flow again. For no discernible reason it suddenly feels like this is the worst possible thing. Rarity finishes her cup of tea slowly, looking at you over the brim.
  40.  
  41. "What's been said has been said, Dee. It's really one to discuss with Applejack herself, I was just a bystander in the whole affair."
  42.  
  43. As you both head back to the machines, you know she's right. You need discuss this with Applejack, hopefully in a few hours time.
  44.  
  45. -
  46.  
  47. As the hours go by you finally call it quits at sewing, taking time to admire your new array of misshapen socks. Stretching to try relieve tension from your hunched-over back, the orange glow radiating from beyond the Boutique window signifies that the sun was getting ready to retire. Anxiously you bite your lower lip; soon would be time to confront Applejack. Somehow this had become a huge, intimidating event in your mind; akin to the buildup before a difficult exam. To make matters worse, Rarity was currently out of the room so you weren't able to distract yourself by chatting about inane shit. You wish she'd hurry up with whatever, being left alone with your thoughts was too much to bear at the moment.
  48.  
  49. "Closing time!" eventually comes Rarity's sing-song voice. "How'd you get on with your socks?"
  50.  
  51. "Uh, utterly fine." you say, hastily stuffing them out of sight. Thankfully they were all going to be disposed of anyway.
  52.  
  53. "Well it's 6pm, I guess I should think about food. How are you feeling? You did seem a bit perkier today, I must say. Incidentally, did you try on those clothes I made for you yet?" Rarity asks batting her eyelids.
  54.  
  55. "Er..." comes your blatantly obvious response, "No, I was... too caught up about our board game's abrupt end". It's a partial truth. Rarity seems to find it an acceptable answer.
  56.  
  57. "I understand, last night was a bit awkward for all involved. Still, I'm just dying to see that red lace on you! I don't have any Poster-sized mannequins."
  58.  
  59. -
  60.  
  61. "Can I show you later? I have things to sort ou-" you begin, but Rarity's not having it.
  62.  
  63. "Come on Dee, it'll only take 5 minutes! I can help you - I assume you'll be useless at lacing up a corset." Rarity grins.
  64.  
  65. This really wasn't the time for a mini-fashion show; nerves were constantly turning your stomach over and the very thought of dressing in thin underwear with your current lady-problems just amplified all anxiety.
  66.  
  67. "I don't see why you feel so uncomfortable. Ponies only wear clothes for special occasions, honestly I'm surprised you even still wear them now. Then again, I suppose you don't have a layer of fur to keep that... pinkish flesh warm." she gives a little shudder.
  68.  
  69. "I'm not going around naked Rarity, and that's final. I have to keep some dignity in my life."
  70.  
  71. "Very well. Anyway, get those undergarments, meet me at my stage in 10 minutes!" Rarity says in a decisive tone.
  72.  
  73. Just as you start to protest, she leaves the room. Oh come on, internally your stomach is already practically dancing with nerves over the upcoming late-night Apple Acres raid, now you've got to prance around in a frilly, risqué getup? With a surge of rage you storm upstairs - you were definitely wearing the scarf too, no matter how much Rarity complained.
  74.  
  75. You find the red lingerie lying on top of a messy clothes pile, all under the watchful guard of the broken pony mannequin. Were you really going to wear this? Just do it once for Rarity, then it'll be over you tell yourself.
  76.  
  77. -
  78.  
  79. As soon as your clammy hands scoop up the silky red garments, an inexplicably dirty excitement fills you. This was so wrong from your male POV as it clearly fell under "Cross dressing", yet logic states that you -were- now fully eligible to wear these without any opposition. The question was: do you want to degrade yourself further? In all honesty after discovering you had ginger hair you'd given up any hope of ever redeeming yourself.
  80.  
  81. Grabbing what you needed, you dive across the hall into the bathroom. Promptly checking the door behind you was closed, you shiftily check the surroundings - last thing you want is Rarity walking in on your when you're in a vulnerable situation.
  82.  
  83. Greeted with the usual ungodly sight from your nethers you hastily clean yourself up, the cold air on your naked torso makes you hyper-aware of your body's form. Eventually morbid curiosity leads you to the mirror with the intent of examining yourself, though it instantly turns awkward as you are still unable to recognize the weird girl staring back at you. She looked so sad, if only there was some way to comfort her... Having a reflection you couldn't associate was such a bizarre experience, like making eye contact with a stranger through glass. The only recognizable feature left were your eyes, remaining as deep brown as ever.
  84.  
  85. Deciding not to delay any longer, you sit on the toilet slowly slipping the red lace panties over your ankles. Goosebumps erupt on your legs as emotions conflict.
  86.  
  87. -
  88.  
  89. Deciding to man up and firmly hoisting the panties round your waist, you instantly become aware of wonderful they feel. Underwear that fits snug? What the fuck? That's something you've never experienced before; usually something would dangle in the way. Considering you've only been wearing boxers since your change, this was rather surprising. Before you get carried away though, you quickly stuff in a sock from today's batch - don't want to make the red any redder.
  90.  
  91. Glancing back at the mirror, you see the weird girl dressed in apple-laced panties. Somehow it's more erotic than seeing her just flat-out naked. What the hell was Rarity doing to your mind by making you this stuff?
  92.  
  93. Next was corset time, which made sense as you assumed ponies have no concept of bras. By now you were used to letting your chest flop freely, so this was another first... except you couldn't get it on properly. Seemed Rarity was right after all about you being useless at tying as corset; time to swallow all pride and ask her to do it for you. Not before you don the scarf, however.
  94.  
  95. 5 minutes later you're aimlessly searching the Boutique with nothing but laced panties on. Turns out Rarity is at her mini-catwalk setting up a camera. No.
  96.  
  97. "No way. Uh-uh." comes your stern tone. "No photography".
  98.  
  99. Rarity just makes a vain expression as she tries to not roll her eyes.
  100.  
  101. "Just for future research, no one will see them. Even if they did, you look... well, you look half gorgeous anyway. Need help?"
  102.  
  103. -
  104.  
  105. As soon as you nod the corset is magically propelled latching onto your torso. Before you get time to register what's happened there's a sudden squeeze that brutally crushes your ribs and squishes your sides.
  106.  
  107. "What... the..." you try to shout, but your words are reduced to wheezes as the sensation of a large python squashing the life out of you overpowers your lungs.
  108.  
  109. "Oops! Got a bit carried away. Reminds me of the first time I met Twilight, actually. That was a funny day."
  110.  
  111. Funny or not, the pain of having your breasts smooshed and ribs tightly compressed was staggering. Barely able to walk straight Rarity nudges you on stage and begins snapping away with glee, oblivious to your suffering.
  112.  
  113. "Oh you look so divine! I love your stance, your walk is so dignified." Rarity beams as you waddle about desperate for a deep breath.
  114.  
  115. This continues for a short while until you reach your limit, struggling out of the corset. It's such a gratifying relief to be able to inhale again that you don't care Rarity's miffed you ruined her photo shoot.
  116.  
  117. "Well that wasn't so bad now, was it? I must say, you absolutely splendid in that getup."
  118.  
  119. You did know this, and you wanted to ignore both the uncomfortable complements and questionable heat you were feeling.
  120.  
  121. "I hope it was good for you, too. Now if you don't mind, I have stuff to do" you say in a impatient tone. Rarity's giggle follows you upstairs as once again you return to change. You might keep the lace panties on, though...
  122.  
  123. -
  124.  
  125. Devouring another fruit-based meal, it was finally time. Darkness had properly settled, blanketing all of Ponyville into a slumber. Still wanting to stick to your night-time espionage plan, you try desperately to pluck up courage. Why did this suddenly feel so nerve racking? You didn't feel mentally prepared at all.
  126.  
  127. Rarity tries to be supportive. "You can do this, Dee. It's only Applejack, after all. What could she possibly do?"
  128.  
  129. "Buck me in the chest?" comes your bitter reply. It had happened once before, albeit using only a fraction of her power. Rarity frowns.
  130.  
  131. "Applejack isn't the violent type at all. You're fretting over nothing, and she's just making a big deal out of nothing. It'll all go fine, trust me."
  132.  
  133. Maybe she's right. You really were making this whole situation seem 100 times worse than it was. Was this also related to new emotions? Telling yourself to man up didn't seem to work as well at the moment while you were wearing girl's underwear. They were just too damn comfy though.
  134.  
  135. You decide the time has arrived. Fitting your cowboy boots on firmly in a final act of determination, you bid goodbye to Rarity dramatically escape into the night. Immediately you run into lamppost. Okay, hope no one saw that.
  136.  
  137. How were you going to play this? Rush through the night and forcefully appear at the Farm? Sneak through, avoid being detected and pounce on AJ? Just casually stroll in? You decide to take it as it comes, hopefully pony farmers don't have shotguns.
  138.  
  139. -
  140.  
  141. In no time at all you've reached the white fence of Apple Acres. You hesitate as half of you begs to flee; trespassing was quickly becoming a scary concept. Curling your toes in your cowboy boots gives you courage, you can't give up on Applejack so easily!
  142.  
  143. Crouching low next to the fence and peeking over there's no immediate signs of Big Mac lurking about. Dull lights and passive smoke rising from the farm house make it safe to assume the Apple's were finished their farming for the day. Now's your chance.
  144.  
  145. In one swift leap you clear the fence. Continuing to crouch low, you sneak through apple trees aiming for the main path leading to the barn. There was no signs at all that AJ was even up there, yet you trusted your instincts. You discover that duck-walking was easy with your current underwear; nothing there to obstruct. Breezing through to the barn there's still no signs of life, and taking a deep breath you open the door as gently as possible.
  146.  
  147. The stale sent of hay reaches your nose, and to your relief the barn is empty. This was almost too easy you think as you hoist yourself up the ladder. With each wrung cleared your heart beats faster, you're nearing the top, you can feel the air, you're about to surface when... nothing. No one's here. The barn roof is devoid of ponies. Fuck.
  148.  
  149. After getting so worked up so much over this, and now nothing to show for it. You flop over in defeat, swearing under your breath. You were so sure!
  150.  
  151. "Howdy" comes a sudden voice.
  152.  
  153. -
  154.  
  155. Being greeted by enclosing darkness was the last thing you had expected at that moment. Panic immediately grips your chest, adrenaline flaring and creating a sharp sting in your nose. An overhead cloud steadily shifts allowing a small shaft of moonlight to cast across the opposing silhouette, giving definition to the shadowed shape. A sigh of relief escapes you, along with all the irrational feelings of fear which dissipate as quickly as they'd formed.
  156.  
  157. "H-howdy, Applejack. I didn't see you there." comes your shivery tone. Sure enough, Applejack was standing before you looking her usual self; albeit more somber than usual. Was she waiting up here all along? You certainly hadn't seen her lurking in the shadows.
  158.  
  159. "Ya do know y'all are trespassing on our property, right?" comes her intrepid tone. Her expression is unreadable.
  160.  
  161. So it was going to be like that, was it?
  162.  
  163. "Yup, I am fully aware of what I'm doing. Or have done. I assume you know why I'm here?"
  164.  
  165. As Applejack edges still closer you shift on the spot, slightly weary of her intentions. To your (pleasant) surprise though, she takes a seat next to you.
  166.  
  167. "Eyup, I know why y'all are here, and I want ta say that I accept yer apology. Now, will y'all accept mine?"
  168.  
  169. You're taken aback by this; after practically shitting yourself all day over AJ's reaction the moment was already over - she wanted to apologize.
  170.  
  171. "Ah spotted you floppin' over the fence, thinking ya might pull a stunt like this." she continues in passive tone.
  172.  
  173. -
  174.  
  175.  
  176. "Watched ya as you clumsily 'sneaked' into our barn, followed ya up to this here roof, and now here we are. Didn't mean to spook ya, but couldn't be helped really." she finishes with a wry smile.
  177.  
  178. Typical - words were failing to form in your mind now the moment was here. You were bursting to shout your endless, heartfelt apologies and make a big fuss, yet...
  179.  
  180. "Rainbow visited earlier on your behalf, though I sent her away." AJ mentions, "Didn't really wanna talk to anypony today. Too ashamed of mahself."
  181.  
  182. At this your find your voice.
  183.  
  184. "Ashamed? Ashamed of what?" you ask tentatively, though you could probably hazard a guess.
  185.  
  186. Delaying her response, AJ tilts her hat back to gaze up at the sky; a look of longing emblazoning her eyes.
  187.  
  188. "Ashamed of getting so worked up over that darned game. Ah'm just too competitive, can't be helped. Always buttin' heads with Raindbow, ah always feel the need to win. I just want to be good at something. Losing to y'all rubbed me the wrong way - no offense."
  189.  
  190. "Yeah, well... It's not so much the game I'm worried about now. Your words made me think about how I act, at how I take pony hospitality for granted." you begin, but AJ cuts over you.
  191.  
  192. "It was an outburst, don't pay no mind to it."
  193.  
  194. "On the contrary, I thought it was pretty honest of you. I'm the one who should be ashamed of my behavior... and dragging up names from the past."
  195.  
  196. AJ slowly tears her gaze from the stars, shifting to focus on the gentle whispering orchard below.
  197.  
  198. -
  199.  
  200. "Ah guess it'd make sense... y'all knowing about other Posters n' all. I assume you're probably all related or know each other."
  201.  
  202. You suppress a smile. "Not quite. Twilight gave me some reading material about my fellows here in Equestria, though they're very poorly documented really. Kinda odd for such a unique phenomenon, don't you think? The only Poster spoken about in any details is the first... the one you mentored."
  203.  
  204. There's no immediate reaction from Applejack, so you decide to press on.
  205.  
  206. "It seems like people, er, everypony just forgot about us. If a talking pony came back to my world it'd be a mark of history, probably starting a few wars or something."
  207.  
  208. Silence quickly falls between you both. You worry that maybe you've spoken out of line, and just as you're about to suggest leaving, Applejack finds her voice.
  209.  
  210. "When ya arrived in Ponyville, I didn't greet you. I could hear my friends callin' for me, searching, but I kept mah distance that day. I knew if I met y'all it'd remind me of him. I couldn't bear getting attached to another Poster."
  211.  
  212. AJ re-positions herself so she's lying by your side, face down looking at her forehooves.
  213.  
  214. "But I did. When we found ya helpless in the outskirts of the Everfree forest... patching you back up... it reminded me of him so bad."
  215.  
  216. This was starting to get awkward, you knew this wasn't a matter that AJ discussed lightly.
  217.  
  218. "I guess it's time I finally told someone," comes her dull tone, "Time to tell you Sam's story."
  219.  
  220. -
  221.  
  222. Applejack's sudden statement grabs your attention, but you remain silent not wanting to interrupt the moment.
  223.  
  224. "Heh, were do ah even begin?" Applejack questions, a false laugh injected into her uncharacteristically low tone. "The beginnin' I guess. Shucks, it musta been about 2 years ago, or at least feels like it. Completely outta the blue one day Princess Celestia arrived here at our very own Apple Acres. We were stunned, shocked beyond all belief - this was the days before we saw her on a regular basis - before Twilight moved into Ponyville. Granny Smith done thought she'd finally kicked the bucket, screamin' about divine intervention."
  225.  
  226. "Didn't Granny Smith meet Celestia many years ago?" You couldn't help yourself.
  227.  
  228. "How'dya know that? She did, but I dunno, ya don't really ever expect a royal at yer door. Anyhoo, the Princess wanted to see me. Y'all can imagine how frightening that was for a 'lil run-of-the-mill earth pony. We invited her in, tried our darn best to be accommodating but the Princess didn't stay long... No, she just wanted to tell me that Ah'd been chosen."
  229.  
  230. "Chosen?" you repeat, seeing where this was going.
  231.  
  232. "Eyup, told me Ah was now a mentor to some creature due to arrive. At first we took it as a request to find space for keeping some rare magical creature at our farm. Little did we know what'd turn up, and that they'd specifically chosen me from another world. Sayin' it out loud sounds like hooey, but it's really the honest truth."
  233.  
  234. -
  235.  
  236. "So how long until he moved in?"
  237.  
  238. Applejack's face remains hidden from your gaze as she continues looking towards the orchard.
  239.  
  240. "2 days after. We weren't prepared for the sudden arrival of this weird creature that now had to live with us. The Princess brought him out here on her royal chariot, and after spending the welcoming party with him it didn't leave great first impressions. Ah was mighty foolish back then..." her voice falters.
  241.  
  242. "So did... you just accept it and let him move in? Rarity was really high strung when I had to live with her, she wasn't happy about it at all."
  243.  
  244. "Nah, we didn't mind... but we didn't have the space. Poor guy had to live in the barn. It seemed like the ample solution at the time."
  245.  
  246. Applejack certainly would have been a kinder mentor than Rarity you think, but probably a bit clueless. Rarity may have been foul and firm at the beginning, but she at least provided basic hospitality.
  247.  
  248. Wind continues whistling through the trees as the night air starts getting chilly. You shiver slightly, though Applejack doesn't seem to notice - being covered in fur has its uses. Adamant to hear more you put an encouraging hand on AJ's back, making her skin tense up in surprise. She lets it slide as a kind gesture.
  249.  
  250. "It wasn't 'til the second night that I took pity on him" Applejack continues, "Ah walked into the barn to check up, and he was just lyin' there curled up, callin' for his momma. It really struck a cord, and... Ah just gushed with sympathy."
  251.  
  252. -
  253.  
  254. Damn. What age was Sam? Sure he looked young in the newspaper clippings, but you'd never taken into account that he was probably still living with his family.
  255.  
  256. "He was a young Poster, early teens. He pined for his family and life now gone, and needless to say, mah heart went out to him. It was heartbreaking really, his future was now shrouded in mystery with no one to rely on. Except me." At these words Applejack turns her head towards you, the shining moon emphasizing the bags below her eyes.
  257.  
  258. "After comforting him, we started talkin'. Boy, the things he told me about your world... it really opened my eyes. Automated wagons, machines that clean plates, everyone connected by a web... it's just so amazing to a earth pony like me."
  259.  
  260. "Did he tell you he arrived here?" you press, curious to know.
  261.  
  262. "Yup, we spoke about all sorts. Spoke while apple harvestin', spoke while eatin', spoke while doin' chores, spoke late into the night... At first I was just tryin' to distract him, but eventually I grew to love our talks. The visions he drew in my mind blew me away, making me forget about my life confined here. It was the escapism I always wanted, the little bro I always wanted..." Applejack's voice seems to die in her throat.
  263.  
  264. You recall Big Mac saying something similar, but hearing it weights on your heart.
  265.  
  266. "Sam was mighty gloomy for the first week or so, but eventually he blossomed. Really lit up the farm, real hard worker too. That is... until after his first month."
  267.  
  268. -
  269.  
  270. Here it was, the information you'd been longing to hear these past few weeks - learning Sam's fate; a fate which seemingly left everlasting anguish in Applejack's heart.
  271.  
  272. There was still no eye contact between you both despite how much you wanted it; instead you aimlessly watch the back of AJ's head trying to connect to her internal turmoil. The false bravery she'd shown at the start of her story was a gallant effort, but the trembling beside you signified her front was slowly crumbling.
  273.  
  274. "U-unlike y'all, Sam showed no signs of anythin' at first," comes AJ's unsteady tone, "At least, not 'til a few days after we'd celebrated his first month with us. He fell ill, or at least we thought he was ill. Despite how much we pleaded for him to rest, Sam swore he was just dandy and continued givin' every task his all. A day after that he collapsed. We panicked, but with no Poster experts in town we didn't know where or who to turn to. We tried writin' to the Princess but... she didn't reply."
  275.  
  276. "That sounds familiar" you nod, "I'm still waiting for a reply from her."
  277.  
  278. "Ah guess she's just too busy, but I'll always remember that she didn't reply... Eventually we stopped Sam goin' outdoors altogether, completely bedridden; He was pale; too pale to be natural, all the while sweatin' buckets, being extremely dizzy, breathin' heavy..."
  279.  
  280. "Sounds like staying in bed was a good call. He was obviously ill, did you guys nurse him back to health?" you ask. Applejack's response is a sigh.
  281.  
  282. -
  283.  
  284. "That's the thing though, ain't it? Rest just made everything worse. Sam's symptoms just accelerated and in a lickity splick he was spitting out his teeth. He lost consciousness after that."
  285.  
  286. This ghastly statement is followed by the worst silence yet. You have to suppress a gag at the horrifying concept of teeth freely peeling out of your gums, hanging loose in your mouth. God, that'd be too much to bear. Now you're not sure you want to hear the rest of AJ's grim story, but she seemed committed.
  287.  
  288. "As ya can guess, me n' Big Mac got real, REAL worried at that point. Tried calling a doctor, a vet, even prepared our cart to transport him to the hospital. We never made it beyond the barn doors though. That's when it happened."
  289.  
  290. "When what happened?" you ask breathlessly.
  291.  
  292. "As we tried lumberin' him out of the barn, his mane started fallin' out. Skin cold to the touch, his limp body made us think he was... he'd... died. As he lay there still, me n' Mac were completely lost at what to do. Ah had one job - to be his mentor - and ah'd blown it..."
  293.  
  294. Shit. Applejack's voice starts breaking but there's no sign of her stopping; the dam which held these painful emotions finally breaking down.
  295.  
  296. "Was... did he...?" you stammer, not wanting to say "die" out loud. Applejack finally turns around to face you, her expression desolate with eyes brighter than usual.
  297.  
  298. "Nah. Shortly after that, he began to... change. I still vividly remember it, though I understand if..."
  299.  
  300. "Tell me."
  301.  
  302. -
  303.  
  304. Applejack hesitates, but you push her further.
  305.  
  306. "Didn't you say the only yesterday that you'd have experience in my weakest hour? Learning the details now will prepare me for later". It pains you to say it, but at the moment you're putting Applejack's misery before your own.
  307.  
  308. "Well, if y'all are sure... Though Sam kept his gender, so maybe each transformation is different? Lookin' at y'all now, you're no longer the guy you were when we first met. Not that there's a problem with that or nothin'."
  309.  
  310. You shrug off Applejack's comment, no point denying the truth despite how embarrassing it may be. The cool night air has sunk into your skin, and rather lamely you rub your hands together waiting for AJ to continue. She watches, her expression slackening.
  311.  
  312. "His hands were the first part to change. The nails on his fingers started growing at an alarming rate, curling back into his palms. As this happened his fingers kinda... merged together, the nails beginning to form a hard surface on his palms. Golly, did me and Big Mac freak when it happened. I tried to intervene by dragging him away but I just got a mouthful of blue fur. At the same time his mane was growin' back, but was different - much sleeker, blue tinted, much longer. We wondered if this was some natural "comin' of age" thing for Posters... until he grew a tail and his torso twisted and deformed."
  313.  
  314. "So he became one of you. A pony" you state blankly.
  315.  
  316. "Yeah... he became a pony right before us. It was too surreal."
  317.  
  318. -
  319.  
  320. "...Just like that?" you ask as you suppress another shiver. Applejack shifts her vision towards the silvery moon, trying to avoid eye contact.
  321.  
  322. "More or less, t'whole process took maybe an hour. Mind, he was out cold for the whole ordeal - probably for the best too. When we eventually got help ta arrive there was no Sam left - just a small blue stallion curled up peacefully in the barn. It was hard to convince those who weren't there what'd happened."
  323.  
  324. You remain silent as AJ stops talking, mulling all this new information over in your head. While you certainly understood why Sam transforming was bad news for you, you don't fully understand why this had upset Applejack so much. Wouldn't mentoring a human-turned-pony be like the little brother she'd always wanted?
  325.  
  326. "How'd it go on from there? Did he wake?"
  327.  
  328. "Oh yeah, he woke up all right," comes AJ's frigid tone "It was probably one of the most horrifying scenes I had to witness in my sorry excuse of a life."
  329.  
  330. Nervously you bite your lip, not sure if you should continue as grim images brew in your mind. AJ seems to read your thoughts.
  331.  
  332. "Ah don't really want to get into the full details, but take mah word when ah say there was a lot of confusion, anger and tears. Considering the circumstance and the suddenness of it all, it was mighty justified. Don't make it hurt any less though. None of us saw it coming, not in a million years."
  333.  
  334. "How'd Sam adapt to his new life? I can't even being to imagine..." you trail off.
  335.  
  336. -
  337.  
  338. "Badly, at first. Struggled to walk, could barely talk, disorientated most of the time. Ah supported him best ah could, but it hurt me inside to have my once competent buddy reduced to such a handicapped state; it was like teaching a new born filly. Ah certainly don't give up on my friends that easy though, sticking with him through thick n' thin. Certainly didn't look or feel like the same person I once knew, though."
  339.  
  340. A sudden realization strikes you causing a cold hand to slap to your forehead: Was the whole Mentor/Poster lore supposed to be about mentoring the Poster to adapt to their new body changes, rather than teaching them the way of the Mentor's talents?
  341.  
  342. Applejack doesn't seem to notice your silent realization still staring into the deep night, her gaze was seemingly fixated on scenes playing before her eyes; replaying events you couldn't see.
  343.  
  344. "After a few weeks we'd reached a milestone: Sam finally accepted what had happened and was beginning to adapt to his new life. It'd been a darn struggle, but it'd paid off and he became recognizable as my ol' buddy again, albeit lookin' mighty different. To be honest... he was more than just a friend after the struggles we'd been through together. I'd gotten used ta sleeping beside him in the barn, constantly keeping an eye out for him. He seemed even younger in his new form, completely unsuited to face the world."
  345.  
  346. "Did you... have feelings for him?" you ask gingerly. Applejack gives a dry laugh.
  347.  
  348. -
  349.  
  350. "I guess I did, but not in that way. Ah'd probably best describe my feelings as maternal. Kinda like the worry of a big sister - which I've learned from lookin' after Apple Bloom - but... deeper. I felt the utmost responsibility for Sam, and didn't want anything else bad to happen to him. I cared too much."
  351.  
  352. You frown, "Responsible for what? No one could have possibly predicted what was going to happen."
  353.  
  354. "I guess if ya were in the same boots y'all'd understand, but I can't help blame myself. Either way, the weeks following his change grew brighter. He'd returned to cheerfully working, playing, joking... We even grew to laugh about this change in the end."
  355.  
  356. "So he just accepted his new body and lived happily ever after with you guys?" you say, failing to see the flip-side to the story.
  357.  
  358. "All good things come to an end." says AJ sagely.
  359.  
  360. "What do you mean?" the meek question ringing in your ears.
  361.  
  362. Applejack turns to face you, her eyes over-bright in the moon's light.
  363.  
  364. "Gone." comes her simple reply.
  365.  
  366. "Gone?" you echo blankly, watching AJ's large eyes brim with fresh, unfallen tears.
  367.  
  368. "Gone. Woke up one morning, normal like every day, only to find the space next to me empty. He was... gone. No trace, no nothin'. Me and the family searched relentlessly, but... nothin'." Glistening tears trail down AJ's muzzle, "We never found him. To this day, Ah don't know why or where he went. I'd failed the one opportunity in mah life that felt like it'd given me true purpose."
  369.  
  370. -
  371.  
  372. Sympathy and pity rush over you as automatically your arms extend to hug AJ. She doesn't fight the embrace, continuing to let her tears fall silently, gracefully keeping her composure.
  373.  
  374. "Ah'd failed the one task given to me and me alone by the Princess. Failed Sam. Failed myself..."
  375.  
  376. "That's not true Applejack. You can't blame yourself for what happened." Your words are hollow though; you're not really sure anything you say can comfort Applejack in this situation.
  377.  
  378. The surrounding air thickens with emotion; the depressing atmosphere engulfing you both.
  379.  
  380. "Ah've learned ta live with it now," Applejack says with a tone of finality, "Y'all can hopefully see why it's been a sore spot all this time. As y'all witnessed, I don't like failing, yet here I'd lost it all. Failed as a Mentor, lost the one who chose me ta look after them. The Princess' disappointment in me was unbearable, even after she offered forgiveness. The search for Sam continued for months, but with no leads or clues, there was no progress. Mah only hope now is that he found peace wherever he ended up, and... that I can help Rarity ta not repeat the same mistakes with you."
  381.  
  382. "You've done a good job so far." you whisper reassuringly in her ear.
  383.  
  384. You continue the hug, staying embraced for a few minutes. Eventually the cloudless night reigns, and as much as you'd like to continue talking with Applejack, the cold gets unbearable.
  385.  
  386. -
  387.  
  388. "I should go; it's getting pretty late."
  389.  
  390. Applejack isn't quick enough to hide her disappointed expression. "You're here now, why don'tya stay the night?"
  391.  
  392. It's a generous offer but you don't really have any desire to sleep in a barn tonight, not while your fingers feel in danger of falling off from the cold.
  393.  
  394. "Sorry AJ, I couldn't leave Rarity hanging like that" comes your excuse. Applejack cracks a small smile, "Glad to see ya both finally gettin' along now."
  395.  
  396. "Yeah, something like that..." you reply as you pull up your right boot - your heel had slid out from your fidgeting.
  397.  
  398. "Them boots suit ya. They never reached the intended owner, but they've found a good second home."
  399.  
  400. Unsure on what to say to this statement you remain silent, deciding to direct your efforts into descending the barn roof. As you both slowly reach to the edge of the farm Applejack speaks her mind again.
  401.  
  402. "T-thanks for listenin' to all that, it's good to get it off mah chest. Ah just hope you don't think poorly of me as a friend."
  403.  
  404. Kneeling down with a slight sigh, you give her a quick boop on the nose. "Don't be silly, AJ. Shit happens to all of us."
  405.  
  406. To your relief AJ chuckles at your words, apparently appreciating the cuss. You get a proper look at her face from this height, seeing that it's still damp from tears. There's much less anguish in her eyes than before.
  407.  
  408. "So we're friends again, right? All that board game stuff forgotten?" you ask with a wry smile. AJ nods, "What board game?"
  409.  
  410. -
  411.  
  412. Together you arrive at the white fence that encompasses Apple Acres, swiftly hopping over to the other side and preparing for the goodbyes. It seemed that all that was going to be said tonight had been, as with a hearty non-verbal wave from both sides you and AJ depart. Time to head back to your respective homes. Home. Suppose that's what the Boutique is at the moment.
  413.  
  414. In retrospect, it hadn't been a pleasant evening - seeing cute little ponies emotionally devastated wasn't really your thing. In spite of it all though, you'd just witnessed never-before revealed information straight from the horse's mouth... literally. That had to mean you were trusted by someone, right?
  415.  
  416. Now free from distraction, questions start to brew in your mind: Where'd Sam go? Was it by will? The whole situation was strange, but then again, the whole premise of everything that'd happened these past 3 weeks was strange. Resenting yourself, there was one thing you couldn't help feeling bitter about - Sam kept his gender though the ordeal. If he could, why couldn't you? Instead you got the short straw - reduced to this small frame with its loopy biology. Gah, you ruffle your hair in frustration.
  417.  
  418. The returning walk through Ponyville is completely uneventful as expected. Smoke decoratively fills the sky flowing from rows of chimneys; all the ponies inside their homes snug next to their fireplaces. You were jealous, starting to feel frozen to the bone. Luckily the Boutique was coming into sight.
  419. -
  420.  
  421. "There you are! I was beginning to wonder if I'd need to sent out a search team to find where Applejack had buried you" comes Rarity's voice as you enter the Boutique, the usual bell tinkle coming following from behind. You try to smile at her dry humor, but instead it forms as some kind of grimace.
  422.  
  423. "Oh dear, did it go badly then?" Rarity asks, her ears drooping.
  424.  
  425. "Nah, it went... okay. We've made up now." You decide not to mention what you'd just witnessed, AJ would tell the others when she was good and ready.
  426.  
  427. "Well that's simply wonderful! Though... are you alright? You look a bit pale." comes Rarity's concern.
  428.  
  429. "Don't I always? I'm fine, just a bit cold and tired. I need to get warmed up in bed. With that, g'night!" It's rather abrupt but you're sure Rarity understands.
  430.  
  431. "Alright dear, you go get some rest. I'll be heading up after I feed Opalescence."
  432.  
  433. You try to grunt your acknowledgement but to your dismay you can't really grunt anymore, instead letting out a pathetic "hmph" noise. Rarity doesn't seem to notice your embarrassment, but turns round.
  434.  
  435. "That reminds me, I found a sock floating in the uhm... lavatory upstairs. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"
  436.  
  437. "Literally no clue." you lie instantly, making yourself scarce before your burning face gives you away.
  438.  
  439. In no time at all you're lying in your futon, cold still lurking beneath your skin. You try to 'warm yourself up' but like last time get nowhere, finally resigning to sleep.
  440.  
  441. -
  442.  
  443. The next 4 days pass without any major incident. Most of your time is spent milling in and out of the routine you set yourself: Sewing, running errands, visiting Apple Acres, board games and sleep. It's exhilarating finding this new found freedom in your life to just do what you want, though sometimes it feels difficult to justify your existence. When you began doubting yourself like this however you'd immediately think of your friends - something you'd never really appreciated on Earth. If they can enjoy a simple life here, you can too.
  444.  
  445. Applejack's heartbreaking tale still sticks with you throughout the days; more often than not you find yourself lost in thought about Sam's fate. The same questions nagged with new ones blossoming in their wake; you were beginning to get obsessed. It didn't bode well to dwell over these questions because you'd never get the full answers: Applejack didn't know, and you didn't have the guts to bring it all up again. Yeah, after that sobering night on the barn's roof Applejack hadn't mentioned any of it since. She was certainly happier and pleased whenever you dragged your ass to the farm to do some work, but the events of that night lay in an awkward zone you didn't want to cross. Big Mac seemed to have forgiven you too, though his outward complexion didn't change much at all.
  446.  
  447. Mentally, you're still all over the place. Life is enjoyable for the most part, but you can't shake the fear of the unknown that constantly stalks you.
  448.  
  449. -
  450.  
  451. Most of today has been spent with Rarity, both sweating over sewing machines - well in your case at least. Rarity was focusing on an order that'd came in from a rich city pony requesting only the finest sapphires be used. By some kind of magic (though that might literally be what it was) Rarity had created some sapphire-weaved fabric, an astonishingly deep silky blue sheet that sparkled with the grace of the ocean's tide. In contrast, you'd managed to create a embroiled napkin. It was literally square fabric with your name poorly sewn on. It gave you something to do considering your sock production had ceased - your main reason for producing them had finally stopped, making it a huge relief to be able to visit the bathroom without being disgusted with yourself each time. That said, even the shame of sitting down to you business was fading, amazing yourself at how fast your brain was adapting to all this.
  452.  
  453. "What are your plans tonight after I close up?"
  454.  
  455. You jerk out of your stupor, stupidly looking around for the source of the voice. After identifying the source as Rarity you speak up.
  456.  
  457. "Huh? Oh. I don't have any plans really, was just going to chill by reading a book or something. How about yourself?"
  458.  
  459. "Reading a book? That's rather mellow for you. Still, I - that is to say we - got a party invitation. It's Gummy's 2nd birthday, and Pinkie Pie has planned a large party for it. Can you please please PLEASE come with me? It'd be the perfect excuse to leave early."
  460.  
  461. -
  462.  
  463. You raise your eyebrow slightly at at this statement.
  464.  
  465. "Don't you like Pinkie's parties? I thought they were the best in all of Ponyville?"
  466.  
  467. "Oh don't get me wrong - I do love the parties, but sometimes they run on just a little too late for what I like. It's hard to leave without making her take it personally." Rarity sounds sincere, so you decide to not press the matter.
  468.  
  469. "Understandable, nothing like being held against your will. I'm game if you want me to go."
  470.  
  471. "Oh excellent!" Rarity does a little hop as her eyes light up, "It's a dress-to-impress party, so I whipped up some sapphire-silk garments for you. I know you're not too keen on getting dressed fancy, but on this one occasion can you do it? For meee?" She bats her eyelids in a rather silly fashion.
  472.  
  473. "Fine." comes your dead tone.
  474.  
  475. "Oh perfect! I can't wait to show the other's up - ahem - I mean impress the others!"
  476.  
  477. After hours of fussing and struggling, you and Rarity arrive at the party. It's held at Sugarcube corner, and considering it's for a baby crocodile's birthday there's quite a large turnout. Entering the ambiance of the party, you smirk silently to yourself. A week ago you'd have died of shame if you had to wear a sapphire hem dress anywhere, yet now you're doing it a location filled with eyes watching you. You finally decided that you just don't give a fuck anymore - the ponies don't care, so why should you? There's no humans to judge you here, so might as well enjoy the silly dress up games.
  478.  
  479. -
  480.  
  481. "Hey Mr. Poster, Hi Rarity! Glad you both made it."
  482.  
  483. Twilight gracefully walks before you both, the effect ruined by the lopsided party hat hanging on her head.
  484.  
  485. "Oh Twilight my dear, how are you doing? I must say, your hat looks... fabulous, won't you agree Dee?"
  486.  
  487. "I totally would. Where can I get one?" you ask in a semi-sarcastic manner. Twilight looks confused, "Dee? Is that Mr. Poster's real name?"
  488.  
  489. "Yeah, it is. You can still call me Mr. Poster if you perfer that though" you add, you get the impression Twilight likes the formality.
  490.  
  491. "Nice to finally meet you then, Dee! Though I'm just so used to Mr. Poster now. I adore your dress, by the way. Rarity's design?" she complements, giving you a heartwarming smile.
  492.  
  493. "You'd better believe it. I'm going to go get some cupcakes, catch you both in a bit."
  494.  
  495. Departing from them both, you brave the large herd of ponies dancing and chatting to find the food table. As expected, it's covered with sugary cupcakes, moist cake, pink party punch - the usual party food guff. Deciding to grab one of everything, you navigate the sea of tiny equines to get a table to sit at - being taller than the rest of the party was making you slightly self-conscious. Shortly after sitting down your eardrum is nearly burst as Pinkie Pie blows a party tweeter right into it.
  496.  
  497. "HEY, YOU MADE IT! Welcome to Gummy's super special 2nd birthday party! He's currently lurking 'round in my bath upstairs but he TOTALLY appreciates you being here!"
  498.  
  499. -
  500.  
  501. Rubbing a finger into your ruined ear, you continue watching Pinkie bounce around totally losing herself in the atmosphere. Her silly antics bring a grin to your face, reminding you of her damned "Smile" song which immediately starts playing in your head. Thankfully bursting into song is the one thing that's not happened during your time in Ponyville, and hopefully never will.
  502.  
  503. The party attendance remains strong throughout, continuing well into the small hours of the morning. Not being much of a party person you'd intended to sit the event out, just silently stuffing your face. At some point however you were dragged into dancing, playing party games and eventually singing Happy Birthday to a retarded-looking baby crocodile. It was fun, really fun; one of your happiest times in Ponyville as you manage to completely forget yourself. To your further surprise everyone reacts positively to your sapphire attire, even Rainbow Dash admits you look "Cool". Whether or not she was told to say that, you don't know, but the compliment puts an extra spring in your step for reasons you can't fathom.
  504.  
  505. Not once does Rarity approach you hinting to leave, she herself falling victim to the party's magic. It's only when Twilight's snoozing head hits the table making her hat pop off that people decide to call it a night. Disappointed, but realizing it was probably the right time, you all leave Sugarcube corner in a horde waving goodbye to Pinkie and Gummy, smiling from ear-to-ear.
  506.  
  507. -
  508.  
  509. "So come on, you can't tell me you didn't love that" you say through a thick yawn.
  510.  
  511. "Well that's how these things go! At first you feel you can't be bothered, but once you actually get there you get into it," Rarity retorts with a grin, "Besides, you were the party animal - didn't know you could dance!"
  512.  
  513. "Neither did I."
  514.  
  515. "Everyone was happy to see you; I told you so when I said my friends cared about you."
  516.  
  517. It was certainly true - AJ, Pinkie, Dash, hell even Fluttershy, you'd done a lot of talking that night though you can't recall what you talked about.
  518.  
  519. "Hope I didn't make a fool of myself; I had a great time. Thanks for the invite" you awkwardly say.
  520.  
  521. "Not at all dear. We were both invited after all"
  522.  
  523. The short walk from Sugarcube corner to the Boutique is over, the shop bell tinkling sleepily as Rarity unlocks the door. You sympathize with it, desperate for your bed too. Flicking off your boots and garbling your "Good nights" you retire to your room, leaving Rarity to feed a grumpy Opalescence - someone forgot to leave food out for her.
  524.  
  525. Stumbling into your room you undress as you walk, leaving a trail of clothes on the floor. Feet throbbing, ears buzzing, voice hoarse, you can't stop smiling as you flop forward onto the futon, passing out almost immediately.
  526.  
  527. Strange dreams of unrecognizable blue eyes constantly watching plagued you that night. It reaches a peak where you jerk awake, instantly realizing something is horribly wrong - you can't feel your legs.
  528.  
  529. -
  530.  
  531. Groggily you turn over; perhaps sleeping at a strange angle had restricted blood flow to your legs. As you flounder onto your back it becomes blatantly apparent that something much worse was going on, your legs flopping limply like two lumps of meat poorly attached to your torso. This wasn't normal - you'd never experienced pins & needles this extreme before in your life. Hell, there wasn't even any tingling in your legs to prove it was paresthesia at all.
  532.  
  533. Your heart is first to react, bursting into action and thumping into your rib cage fiercely. Panic starts to fill your chest like a void, your stomach turning over on itself. Hands fumbling wildly as they wrestle with the futon cover you desperately try to dismiss the current situation; surely you are just asleep - scratching and pinching your leg will wake you. The futon cover flies as it's carelessly tossed aside revealing your bare legs.
  534.  
  535. With a sharp intake of breath you exert pressure on your right knee, your uncut nails digging deeply into the soft skin. Nothing. Absolutely no sensations come from your leg with only the white trail now etched into your skin being proof of what you'd just done. Fuck, your leg felt stone-cold and the scratch doesn't sting at all. Can limbs die? Getting desperate, you spontaneously slap your thigh with as much force as you can muster. Nothing.
  536.  
  537. Retracting your tingling hand, a new thought resonates a sickening vibe through your gut: You can't walk anymore. You're paralyzed.
  538.  
  539. -
  540.  
  541. Fear squeezes the air out your lungs and before you're aware of it a scream for help escapes your lips. Thankfully Rarity is quick to investigate.
  542.  
  543. "Dee?! Whatever is the matter? It's 6am! Did you have another weird drea-" Rarity starts, but you swiftly cut across her.
  544.  
  545. "My legs, Rarity, I can't feel my legs! I... can't move!" your garble, panic audible in each word.
  546.  
  547. All traces of annoyance on Rarity's face were instantly replaced with her most serious expression. Donned in her purple gown and wasting no time Rarity canters across the room towards you, stopping at your side to take in your weird limb positioning.
  548.  
  549. "You mean you can't feel here?" she questions, placing a white hoof onto your leg. Nothing reaches your brain; the numbness in your lower torso beginning to give you the illusion that your body was floating.
  550.  
  551. "N-nothing... This isn't normal. Oh god, what if I'm dying? I don't understand, what's happening? How?" you get hysterical while Rarity continues kneading your leg.
  552.  
  553. "Oh my, this is really quite serious! We're going to have to get you help as soon as possible. You're sweating bullets too, are you feeling alright?"
  554.  
  555. "No, of course I'm not!" comes your raised voice, peeved at being asked such a stupid question. Rarity recoils at the snappy response, but seems to let it slide in the understanding of how dire the current situation is.
  556.  
  557. "Okay okay, I'll go contact Twilight - She's our best bet. I'll be quick as I can be, please remain calm dear!"
  558.  
  559. -
  560.  
  561. Waiting for Rarity's return is agonizing. Now fully awake and alert you'd hoped you could somehow make sense out of all of this but your brain is barely managing to keep up. In an attempt to investigate how far the numbness had spread you run gentle, trembling fingers up your right leg guiding them slowly over your lower body. To your dismay the first true feeling comes from below your navel, revealing the gruesome fact that you were completely dead waist-down.
  562.  
  563. Horrifying thoughts about having to live like this for the rest of your life brew in your head, chilling you to the core. Holding back tears of fear, your thoughts are interrupted by one question: What was happening to you? What use were you to anyone now if you couldn't walk anymore? Barely more than a worthless parasite, that's what. What was there left in life now?
  564.  
  565. Teetering on the edge of these dark thoughts, a bell tinkle from downstairs instantly snaps you back to reality. Had Rarity managed to get a hold of Twilight at this unsavory hour? Yes, as both Twilight and Rarity burst down the door.
  566.  
  567. "I arrived as fast as I could, Mr. Poster!" Twilight pants slightly, her presence in he room larger than usual. "Rarity explained everything - you can't control your legs?"
  568.  
  569. Words failing you at the moment, you settle for a frantic nod. Twilight's expression grows curious as she leans closer; Rarity lurks in the background looking frightful.
  570.  
  571. "You did a lot of dancing last night, didn't you? Do you dance much?"
  572.  
  573. -
  574.  
  575. What the hell kind of question was that? You aggressively shake your head, trying to retract the tears breaking free from your eyes.
  576.  
  577. "Hmm... well, then that could mean..." Twilight murmurs to herself. Light shines magnificently from her horn, its beam casting over your stomach. Only now do you realize you're wearing nothing but underwear, though in the current situation you had no care for modesty. A familiar electrical tingling sensation accompanies the glittering purple light which was - you assumed - examining the matter that made up your body. You try your best to subdue alarm as the tingling grows weaker the further south Twilight's beam goes, your heart breaking as all tingling dies at your thigh.
  578.  
  579. With the faintest hint of a twinkle, Twilight's horn stops glowing with the accompanying light dying too. Taking a deep breath Twilight turns to face you, looking uncharacteristically grave.
  580.  
  581. "I think I know what's going on. You probably won't like the news though, Mr Poster."
  582.  
  583. "Tell me." You needed answers, anything to explain how you could recover from this horrible fate.
  584.  
  585. "Are you sure you won't freak out or get mad at me?" It's more of a plea than a question.
  586.  
  587. Your voice trembles as you reply. "Don't make me beg, Twilight. I'm distraught enough as it is. Can... Can I be cured?"
  588.  
  589. The following frown wasn't the answer you wanted. You fists clench in angst, knuckles whitening as your nails dig into your palms.
  590.  
  591. "How long do I have?"
  592.  
  593. "A couple of hours."
  594.  
  595. -
  596.  
  597. "A couple of hours..." you repeat idly. Everything was eventually going to rally up to this point sooner or later, but why now? Not that you'd ever be able to prepare yourself for something so ludicrous, but...
  598.  
  599. Silently Rarity approaches from the darkness, taking a seat next to you. Her soft bedside manner and somber expression emanate an eerie vibe - was this what it felt like to be on your... death bed? Following suit, Twilight sits by Rarity, both ponies casting their sad gazes upon you. After what felt like an eternity, Twilight tries to crack the atmosphere.
  600.  
  601. "If you recall my earlier lessons, you'll remember that the matter you ingest in Equestria contains magical elements not present in your home world. As you heal and grow, your old tissue is replaced with new Equestrian-sourced tissue. In essence, you slowly absorb the world's magic."
  602.  
  603. This lecture vaguely rings a bell, though you barely remember the details. All you'd taken from Twilight's original explanation was that regenerating was bad, thus both sleeping and eating were bad. Like that'd worked out for you.
  604.  
  605. "I hate to say it," Twilight continued as if reading your thoughts, "but as you somewhat foolishly tried to combat your fate by starving yourself - while remaining under continuous physical activity at the same time - you've only accelerated your condition. The road ends here, Mr. Poster. Now that your spine has been compromised it won't take long before the rest of your nervous system follows."
  606.  
  607. -
  608.  
  609. "I don't understa..." you try to interject, but the lump forming in your throat subdues you.
  610.  
  611. "Your dancing. You don't dance often, so obviously as you stretched and exercised those unused muscles they got a work out. As you slept your body attempts to repair the muscle tissue, and as a result... well, you can see."
  612.  
  613. Of course. Last night's party was too good to be true; there obviously had to be a catch. Propping your head up with a shaking arm, a wild idea strikes you.
  614.  
  615. "So... if I never sleep again... I'll be okay?"
  616.  
  617. Twilight's little snort immediately expresses her thoughts on this childish idea.
  618.  
  619. "Unfortunately, no, it doesn't work like that. In all honesty, sleeping will make the whole process... easier on you."
  620.  
  621. Shit. Desperately searching for some kind of loophole you quickly turn to Rarity. To your dismay her iconic, radiant complexion has dulled; the confident shine of her mane gone, the glitter of her eyes faded. Rarity's face resonates with heartache, apparently just as upset by Twilight's news as you were.
  622.  
  623. "So this is... goodbye?" Rarity states blankly. Twilight wraps a comforting wing around her friend's back before continuing.
  624.  
  625. "It might be, the choice is in Mr. Poster's hands now."
  626.  
  627. "My choice?" you mumble more to yourself than to Twilight.
  628.  
  629. "Yup, your choice - Do you want to fight fate, battling to stay awake only to bring suffering to yourself and friends? Or... do you want me to put you into a magically-induced slumber to finish it all?"
  630.  
  631. -
  632.  
  633. Fuck.
  634.  
  635. The moment was finally here; the single biggest choice of your entire life. Do you want to go with the flow? Do you want to fight for what little humanity you had left?
  636.  
  637. Harsh reality settles in: you don't want either of these outcomes. You just want to be you, was that too much to ask? Why was your birth-given right of being yourself so impossible? Why didn't couldn't you remain yourself forever like every other normal person?
  638.  
  639. Equestria was Hell; a prison that locked you away from your true self. There was no positive way to look at it; your time on this forsaken soil had accomplished nothing but mishap and degradation to your body and mind.
  640.  
  641. "I want..." comes your steady monotone.
  642.  
  643. "Yes?" Rarity and Twilight say in unison, both ponies ears perking up at the same time as if symmetrically linked to each other. Did they really care about your answer?
  644.  
  645. "I want... a glass of water."
  646.  
  647. Disappointment crumples both ponies face. In any other situation you would have laughed heartily at their dramatic u-turn of expression, but as everything stood at the moment you couldn't even crack a smile.
  648.  
  649. "I'll get you some water." Twilight says, perhaps a little too knowingly. Swiftly retracting her wing from around Rarity and rising, she heads to the door giving you a final glance.
  650.  
  651. It was clear Twilight was giving you this opportunity to discuss your mind with Rarity in private. You were truly grateful, considering Twilight wasn't the most socially-conscious pony.
  652.  
  653. -
  654.  
  655. The door closes gently behind Twilight; casting a serine hush over the dark room. By now the sun had crept just enough to dye the skies red; the curtain Rarity had installed keeping most light at bay. You were at a loss for what to say, still fervently trying to deny reality. Choosing not to think about things was always your solution.
  656.  
  657. "Red sky in the morning, Shepherds take warning." you say, disrupting the silence.
  658.  
  659. "Excuse me?" Rarity asks sounding perplexed.
  660.  
  661. "It's something my mother told me once. Always stuck with me."
  662.  
  663. "Ah. Do... you miss her?"
  664.  
  665. This question catches you off-guard.
  666.  
  667. "I guess so. Didn't see her much."
  668.  
  669. Rarity had never been the most empathetic of ponies, bitter-sweet memories of your first few days staying with her linger in your mind. Rarity's initial attitude towards you had been quite unreasonable, but now the once bossy, snarky and grumpy pony was gazing sadly at you though moist eyes asking if you missed your family. When'd it all change?
  670.  
  671. "Listen, dear" Rarity whispers, her voice calm and steady, "I want you to know that whatever choice you make, I'll stick by you. I don't want to come across as insensitive by saying you should take Twilight's offer as I simply can't begin to imagine what I'd do in your position. I just want you to know that you'll still be welcome to live here whatever the case."
  672.  
  673. She'll stick by your choice? These words fill you with a warmth you can't quite describe, thankful you weren't going into this alone.
  674.  
  675. -
  676.  
  677. "I'm scared, Rarity" you admit. "I don't want to lose myself anymore than I already have."
  678.  
  679. Rarity's manner instantly turns into one of defiance.
  680.  
  681. "You never lost yourself, Dee. You're still you on the inside no matter what you may look like. I would add that it's almost certainly an improvement too, but..." she trails off, a looking awkward.
  682.  
  683. There's a pause as you mull this over. Had she known you longer as a guy or a girl now?
  684.  
  685. "I know it's silly - but I still want to fight this head on. It must be the human in me, always got to fight for something."
  686.  
  687. "If that's what you want to do then I'll stick by you. I can't guarantee it'll be easy though, dear."
  688.  
  689. "It wasn't easy dealing with loss of voice, cramps and a bleeding crotch but I got there. I can do this."
  690.  
  691. Rarity looks mildly disturbed by your statement but doesn't inquire further. Instead she casts her eyes around the still under-furnished room.
  692.  
  693. "You know, I'm glad I gave up this storage room for you. Having you here has been quite the experience, for better or worse." There's definite sincerity in her voice. "Don't get me wrong, much like you I didn't want any of this, but now that it's happened I'm glad."
  694.  
  695. "Stockholm syndrome" you nod.
  696.  
  697. "What's that?" Rarity questions as you suppress a smile.
  698.  
  699. -
  700.  
  701. You hadn't considered this. Damn, being a Pegasus would be pretty cool, but then again doing magic would also be nifty. Two skills you can't accomplish in your current form. Strange... these prospects fill you with the tiniest slither of excitement.
  702.  
  703. No - you must stop yourself indulging in these thoughts. You don't want to change, and that's that. Your fist clenches, imitating the pressure around your heart at the thoughts of the coming days. All this from a shit post... unbelievable.
  704.  
  705. "I don't think I ever explained this," you say looking directly at Rarity, "but the reason I'm called a Poster is because... I post on an imageboard. I posted an image of you because I think, er thought, you were best pone. Due to that and 7 magic repeating digits, I ended up here."
  706.  
  707. "You posted an image of me before we even met?!" Rarity gasps.
  708.  
  709. "Uh yeah, I did. So this really is all my fault."
  710.  
  711. "But how? I don't understand-"
  712.  
  713. "Let's just say I came from a disturbing place. There are many types of Posters, though few ever come here."
  714.  
  715. Rarity looked like she wanted to inquire further, but just then Twilight entered the room levitating a glass.
  716.  
  717. "Did you decide?" Twilight asks, passing the water to you. At once you gulp it down.
  718.  
  719. "Dee wants to wait it out." Rarity speaks for you. Twilight doesn't respond.
  720.  
  721. As you put the glass down, a sudden tingle in your neck's glands concerns you.
  722.  
  723. "Wha'd..?" comes your slurred speech, one last look at Twilight's smile before all fades to black.
  724.  
  725. -
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