Manderly

Nun Allowed

Jul 8th, 2017 (edited)
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  1. >I tried to catch my breath, as I watched the fuzzy horde stream past the alley I had ducked down.
  2. >Turns out, being Human in Equestra was outlawed by an order from Celestia herself.
  3. >And the only solution to that problem, of course, was to give that human a set of hooves of his own.
  4. >And of fucking course, one of the side effects of that… ‘procedure’ was to give them a set of mare parts as well.
  5. >There’s no fucking way in hell that I’m giving up Anon Jr. for some crazy horses!
  6. >So, here I am, hiding in some trash filled alleyway, hoping that one of these horses doesn’t get the bright idea of just looking left.
  7. >Of course, most of them just follow one another, like lemmings.
  8. >I seem to be safe for now, their thunderous hoofbeats helping to mask my footsteps, as I slink deeper into the alleyway.
  9. >I’ve made my way from the heart of ‘Canter-lot’ (fucking horse puns) all the way out to the outskirts, where the surplus of abandoned buildings will hopefully help me slip out of the city unscathed.
  10. >I don’t know what I’m going to do once I escape this festering shithole, though, maybe live out in the woods, or make it to some other land that isn’t run by psychopaths?
  11. >I mean, they can’t all be this crazy, right?
  12. >Maybe there could even be some ponies who could help?
  13. >Though that’s probably wishful thinking.
  14. >I mean, Celestia’s a goddess, what kinda pony wouldn’t listen to her?
  15. >As I make my way to the other side of this barren, cobweb infested warehouse, I wonder, what exactly is keeping all those ponies faithful?
  16. >Some kinda…
  17. >It’s at that point the door I was trying to leave through slams open, knocking the wind out of me, as a trio of ponies in white shout out
  18. >“NOPONY EXPECTS THE EQUESTRIAN INQUISITION!”
  19. >Nopony? Equestrian inquisition?
  20. >Oh, god damnit.
  21. >I quickly scrabble to my feet, turning tail and trying to run from the new batch of crazy ponies desperate for my D
  22. >”NOT SO FAST, HEATHEN, OUR ARSENAL INCLUDES TELEKINESIS, FLIGHT, AND WHATEVER EARTH PONIES DO”
  23. >One of the other the ponies pipes up,
  24. >”And surprise…”
  25. >The leader shoots her a furious look, and returns to his monologue.
  26. >”WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT INTERRUPTING ME, INITIATE?”
  27. >”ahem, OUR ARSENAL INCLUDES TELEKINESIS, FLIGHT, WHATEVER EARTH PONIES DO, AAAND SURPRISE!”
  28. >”Well, I mean, isn’t what earth ponies do technically geomancy? Or, uh, floramancy?”
  29. >I only manage to get a few steps away before I feel that familiar grip of telekinesis around my ankle, tripping me before I can slip out of the building.
  30. >”ALRIGHT, OUR ARSENAL INCLUDES TELEKINESIS, FLIGHT-”
  31. >”But what about that big spiky ball thing in the armory?”
  32. >The unicorn manages to keep a firm grip on my ankle, even as I claw futily at the ground in an attempt to get away, the sound of approaching hooves only fueling my desperate struggle for freedom.
  33. >”NOBODY, uh… NOBODY EXPECTS THE… uh…”
  34. >I grab the leg of some abandoned equipment, and start yanking my leg, trying to break the unicorn’s grip.
  35. >”Oh sod it, Sister Snugglebun, did you bring the… Persuader?”
  36. >A pegasus steps forward, with a mischievous grin, and pulls out a pillow she had tucked under a wing
  37. >“Boy did I ever…”
  38. >The unicorn looks at her for a second, her gaze going between the unintimidating pillow, and the pegasus's face.
  39. >”Are you sure that’s the Persuader, and, you know, not the thing with the spikes and the blades, and the manacles?”
  40. >The pegasus nods, and gives the pillow a fluff.
  41. >”Yeah, I’m supposed to persuade him to become a pony, by showing him how nice it is, yeah?”
  42. >The unicorn rounds on the pegasus, and shouts at him.
  43. >”NO, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO PERSUADE HIM TO BECOME A PONY, ON PAIN, OF, UH, PAIN!”
  44. >The pegasus rolls her eyes and trots over to me
  45. >”So, you gonna be a pony, or what?”
  46. >I blink, quickly processing what was going on and responding.
  47. “No, fuck you, I wanna keep my dick the way it is now!”
  48. >The pegasus sighs and starts doing its best to stab me with a pillow, while giving a half-hearted maniacal laugh.
  49. >At this point, the earth pony that had been hunched down in the back trots up to me and meekly asks
  50. >”oh, um, sir, if it wouldn’t bother you too much, would, uh, you become a pony, er, please?”
  51. >The earth pony shoots me a desperate little smile, as the pegasus moves on to trying to gouge out my eyes with the pillow.
  52. >I spit out an errant feather and shout back at the diminutive little earth pony.
  53. >“How about you go sit on a dick and spin, if you want mine so bad, you damn horse!”
  54. >The earth pony's eyes well up with tears as she runs away to hide behind the unicorn, who’s sporting an unimpressed look.
  55. >”Alright, we tried this the easy way, now we do this the HARD WAY!”
  56. >The unicorn's horn charges up with a bright light, and suddenly my vision goes completely white.
  57. >I try to wipe the stars out of my vision, and wind up nearly cold-clocking myself with one of my hooves.
  58. >Fuck.
  59. >”ALRIGHT, NOW THAT YOU ARE A PONY, IT IS TIME TO DEVOTE YOUR LIFE TO AN ALMOST FANATICAL DEVOTION TO CELESTIA!”
  60. >As the unicorn turns and drags me out of the warehouse, the pegasus drapes a wing over my back.
  61. >”Well look on the bright side, at least you’re a horn-head.”
  62. >I give the pegasus a befuddled look, before I reach up one of my pink hooves and feel at the keratin spire jutting from my forehead.
  63. >”And, well, I gotta say, you turned out pretty cute as well.”
  64. >The pegasus gives me a wink as I feel my cheeks burn up.
  65. “I-I’m not cute…”
  66. >The pegasus chuckles
  67. >”Yeah, you’re saying that now, just wait ‘till we get you in front of a mirror”
  68. >I grumble and try to cover my face with my hooves.
  69. >”YOU MUST FORGIVE SISTER SNUGGLEBUN, SHE’S EASILY EXCITED BY THE NEW CONVERTS”
  70. >”And, uh, she’s kinda right, you’re, uh, p-pre… uh, cute.”
  71. >I try to curl up into a ball and shout
  72. >”I. AM NOT. CUTE!”
  73. >I’ll be honest, that doesn’t sound convincing at all when I say it, now. In fact, it sounds pretty ridiculous.
  74. >The pegasus chuckles to herself as she trots along, and after what seems like an eternity of me moping as I’m dragged along on my side, I arrive at at the steps of what’s likely going to be my new home.
  75. >I slightly uncurl as I stare up cathedral jutting up into the sky, with its stained glass windows depicting some story whose meaning I can’t quite catch in the brief moment between catching sight of it, and getting dragged inside.
  76. >Looked like Celestia, and… a buncha green dudes in suits?
  77. >Whatever, I’ll probably have a buncha time to study it when I’m polishing it, or praying, or whatever they’re gonna have me do in this shitshow of a religion.
  78. >It’s not two seconds after I’m dragged in when the technicolor horde inside catches sight of me, and rushes over to immediately start fawning over me.
  79. >”look at her widdle horn!”
  80. >”Aww, look at her kicky widdle hoofsies!”
  81. >”Her coat is sooo fwuffy, I’m just gonna diiie!”
  82. >At this point, I’m pretty sure getting damned to hell, and forced to sit upside down in a lake of raw sewage would be a preferable outcome.
  83. >I curl up into a ball, and try to cover both my eyes and ears, and weather the compliments, and… brushies, and, oh… oh wow, getting scritched behind the ear feels nice…
  84. >In an instant, it seems like I’ve become the center of a mass of fuzzy little ponies, all snuggled up warm against me.
  85. >as the commotion dies down, the sound of an impatient tapping fills the room, and the sound of a certain unicorn clearing her throat makes itself known.
  86. >just as quickly as it formed, the snuggle pile breaks up into two rows of ponies, lined up on either side of the corridor.
  87. >As I give a befuddled look around I have to wonder, just what the fuck happened?
  88. >”You must forgive the sisters here. They can be a bit… Overenthusiastic.”
  89. >I feel the already familiar telekinetic grip of the unicorn haul me off the ground, and onto my hooves.
  90. >As I quickly scamper behind the unicorn, I feel a shiver run down my spine as I imagine just what might have happened if I hadn’t been saved.
  91. >They were like a swarm of fuzzy piranha, and in this instance, I was cattle.
  92. >I speak up as I survey the horde, knowing behind those… friendly, welcoming smiles, something more sinister lurks.
  93. “Where do you even find these ponies?”
  94. >The unicorn looks back and gives a smug smile, chilling me to my core.
  95. >”Well, you would know just exactly where they come from. Earth.”
  96. “Wha-”
  97. >I barely manage to get out a syllable before I trip over my own hooves.
  98. >What? Really, all these ponies… were human?
  99. >I scramble to stand back upright, mentally debating which would be worse, another forced cuddling session with the herd, or following the unicorn that damned me into this position, and winding up just as fucked up as they are.
  100. >In the end, a polite cough forces me to turn heel and follow the unicorn deeper into the cathedral.
  101. >”As you managed to evade us until sundown, you’ve earned a rest, as we will only teach you of the ways of our Glorious Goddess while Her Sun shines down upon us. You will be staying with the recent converts. If you need anything, Sisters Snugglebun and Frost Bloom will be happy to assist. You already know them from your earlier… Conversion.”
  102. >The two familiar faces of the meek little earth pony, and the plucky pegasus greeted me as I looked in the room.
  103. >A massive grin splits the face of the pegasus as the earth pony scuffs her hoof on the ground, muttering something under her breath.
  104. >The pegasus crosses the room with a single flap of her wings, and gets my head in a lock followed by a noogie.
  105. >”Heya champ, long time, no see, looks like you’ll be staying with us for a while. So, pick a bunk, and settle on down, ‘cus you’re gonna be staying here for a while.”
  106. >I give Snugglebun a forlorn look, then take the first available bed, between a bed where a very intimidating pillow lies, and where a quiet sobbing emanates from a bundle, hidden under a blanket.
  107. >I hear a muted thud from the empty bed as I crawl under the sheets, and as I look over, I see the pegasus already hugging the Persuader to her chest.
  108. >”Now, kid, I know you’re probably nervous and all, but I’d just say relax, getting worked up here ain’t gonna help you none.”
  109. >I stare at her for a moment before I roll over.
  110. “Say, uh, Snugglebun, were you… did you used to be…”
  111. >I hear a chuckle from behind me.
  112. >”Human? Yeah, but I don’t miss it in the slightest. Hell, I don’t think any of us do.”
  113. >I keep staring at the far wall, as if somewhere in the patterns formed by the bricks held the secrets to getting me out of here, and giving me my humanity back.
  114. >Sleep would not come easy this night.
  115.  
  116. >Sounds of crying filled the room.
  117. >At the other end, there was a horse, a familiar one.
  118. >I was drawn to her, and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t help but approach her.
  119. >As my echoing footsteps drew nearer and nearer to her, I reached out my hand, causing her to spin around, and let out an ear piercing shriek.
  120. >I threw up my arms, trying to protect my face as I felt a flurry of blows from a pillow rain down upon my body, each soft pomf stripping away another piece of my humanity.
  121. >My arms were the first to change, a pair of strikes quickly changing my hands into hooves.
  122. >Another strike landed upon my gut, forcing my stomach to do backflips as it constrained to the standards of equine anatomy.
  123. >A desperate attempt to push the nightmarish little horse away with my feet was rendered moot, as a few more strikes distorted my legs into a frightening, yet familiar shape.
  124. >I tried to scoot away on my back, my nubby little forelegs doing their best to move me away from the beast, as it slowly trotted towards me, it’s weapon clutched in its teeth.
  125. >As it drew closer, it let the pillow drop from it’s mouth, as it drew breath, closer, closer still, preparing for one last ear rending, soul shattering shriek…
  126. >”GOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING RECRUITS!”
  127. >Although I’m not proud to say I screamed like a little girl, at least I wasn’t the only one.
  128. >I heard Snugglebun’s laughter coming from the other end of the room, and shot her the nastiest look I could muster.
  129. >”Oh man, I don’t think I’m ever gonna get tired of that. Alright, hup-to, ladies, A day in the inquisition’s like a day on the farm, you’re underpaid, overworked, and no one ever appreciates the job you’re doing, c’mon.”
  130. >I clamber out of bed, and try to wipe some of the bleariness out of my eyes with a still distressingly pink hoof.
  131. >I look around and see that I’m not the only one here who barely slept last night, everyone looks like they’re about ready to pass out on their feet.
  132. >Snugglebun starts clopping her way down the rows, whistling either some half-forgotten song, or blatant piece of Celestia propaganda.
  133. >”Alright, ladies, follow me, it’s the first day of the rest of your lives, you wanna just lie in bed, and sleep it all away? C’mon, let’s hit the showers then get you off to training.”
  134. >Due to sleeping next to her bunk, I formed the start of the line following her.
  135. >I didn’t know what exactly this “training” entailed, but given my earlier treatment, I couldn’t reasonably expect it to be gentle in the slightest.
  136. >As the procession moved down the halls, I tried to make myself as small as possible, as every pony in the halls that we passed couldn’t help but daww at how cute we were.
  137. >It was probably the wierdest way to experience being fresh meat at a low security prison.
  138. >Thankfully the group managed to get to the showers without getting pounced on, but I imagine it would be like a herd of gazelle being preyed upon by cheetahs.
  139. >The first thing that greeted me in the showers was a mirrored wall, and I couldn’t help but stare at my reflection in it.
  140. >”Alright ladies, you got 30 minutes to get yourselves cleaned up, then it’s off to reeducation. I’d recommend you make the most of it”
  141. >As I approached the wall of mirrors, a showerhead I didn’t even notice sprayed a jet of freezing water down at me.
  142. >I watched the unicorn in the mirror let out a cry of surprise, and stumble back, trying to shake water out of her blond-and-pink striped mane.
  143. >As I stood back from the spray of water, it took me a moment to realize that that pony staring back at me from the mirror’s surface is me, and I watched as a bright red blush burned through the unicorn’s- my cheeks.
  144. >I catch Snugglebun trot up behind me out of the corner of my eye and rub a hoof in my mane.
  145. >”What’d I tell ya, kid, cute as a button. Now get showering, you don’t got all day.”
  146. >I gasp as Snugglebun shoves me back into the stream, but I stay there this time, just letting the water flow over me.
  147. >So, this is how I’m going to spend the rest of my life, trapped in this body, getting drilled into becoming something inhuman, and likely honed into a tool to damn other innocent people into the same fate.
  148. >Somehow when I wound up in Equestria, I expected more cumming inside Rainbow Dash, and less being inducted into a cult.
  149. >I look at the wall, and notice a bar of soap lying in a dish set halfway up the wall, and absentmindedly reach for it with a hoof.
  150. >I stop myself halfway and and let my hoof drop back down to the floor when I realize, just how the hell am I going to even grab that?
  151. >I reach up, and prod at my horn with a hoof, that thing should mean that I’m able to pick it up, right?
  152. “Alright, there is no spoon.”
  153. >I reach out with my hoof, and will the soap bar to rise up with every last ounce of my being.
  154. >and the soap bar… sits there.
  155. >Hell, it isn’t even glowing.
  156. “Oh come the fuck on.”
  157. >The water cuts out, and Snugglebun comes tromping down the line again, splashing some unfortunate ponies.
  158. >”ALWIGHT ALWIGHT ALWIGHT LADIES, HUP TO, YOU AIN’T GETTING PAID BY THE HOUR. ON ME”
  159. >The group forms the now familiar two lines behind Snugglebun as she leads us out of the cathedral, and down a path towards what seems to be some kind of school campus
  160. >Oh god damn it, I am not taking high school all over again just because I turned into a god damned horse.
  161. >But then again it might just be for teaching the newly transformed ponies how to use their bodies.
  162. >Or, it might be so they can hammer their cult into their heads.
  163. >The group heads toward the entrance to one of the buildings, where a bored looking unicorn is reading a book levitating in her magic.
  164. >Showoff, she probably thinks she’s better than all the other unicorns here just because her magic actually works.
  165. >Snugglebun rounds, causing a few ponies to run into each other, and she takes a deep breath to address the crowd.
  166. >”ALWIGHT, earth ponies with Frost, unicorns with Showoff , and pegasi, you’re on me. Ol’ Snuggsy here’s gonna teach you how to fly.”
  167. >Holy crap, her name actually is Showoff.
  168. >Quite a few ponies head over to Frost, before being told that they’re actually unicorns or pegasi, and breaking off to their respective group.
  169. >The pegasi head off to what looks like a track or hippodrome, and the earth ponies head over to a field, whereas the unicorns head inside the building.
  170. >With what seems to be the most humdrum monotone in the world, Showoff addresses her fellow unicorns.
  171. >”Hi, I’m sister Showoff, and today, I’ll be teaching you how to use…” She gives a long drawn out sigh before finishing her sentence, “Maaagic.”
  172. >She even trots on 3 hooves for a moment to lift one up and give a jazz-hand with it.
  173. >Jesus, can she stop showing off for just one second?
  174. >Showoff leads us through the halls, and eventually leads us into a lab-style classroom, but instead of the regular lab equipment of beakers and bunsen burners, there’s feathers, string, and a few pieces of paper set up at each of the lab stations.
  175. >”Ok, pair up, and pick a station, so if one of you figures out how to use magic, you can berate the other one for being dumb.”
  176. >I pick a station sequestered in the corner of the room, and am quickly joined by what has to be the littlest pony I’ve ever seen.
  177. >I swear, she’s about the size of a large cat, or maybe a small dog.
  178. >I tentatively reach out a hoof for her to shake.
  179. “Uh, Hi, I’m, uh…”
  180. >I search for my name, and come up blank.
  181. >I desperately scrounge through my memories as I stutter like a sperg trying to talk to a girl.
  182. >Come on, there’s gotta be something here…
  183. “Pink?”
  184. >The tiny pony looks at me and raises an eyebrow.
  185. >”what, you want me to gib you da pussy, bawss?”
  186. “No, no, it’s not like that, they took my name, for fucks sake. You try and remember yours.”
  187. >”Sure, I’m… I’m…”
  188. >I watch as the tiny pony stumbles over what should have been the easiest question in the world.
  189. >She takes a deep breath and admits defeat.
  190. >”alright, fine. But I’m sure as fuck not taking some pansy ass pony name, I mean Snugglebun?”
  191. >The tiny pony makes a gagging expression, as if the name itself were unpalatable.
  192. “Yeah, and Showoff? What the hell kinda name is that?”
  193. >We chuckle at the dumb names for a moment.
  194. >”But you know what’s the dumbest name out of the bunch?”
  195. >I wipe tears out of my eyes and I try to control my laughter.
  196. “What?”
  197. >”Pink”
  198. >I shoot the smug little pony a look, as Showoff clears her throat to get everyone’s attention.
  199. >”Alright class, welcome to maaagic 101. Today I will be teaching you how to be more useful than a mud pony. Except for during winter wrap up when everyone decides that magic is for squares.”
  200. >”Ok, first lesson, Magic doesn’t come from the head, it comes from the heaaart.”
  201. >Showoff, true to her name, picks up a pointer in her aura, and taps a blackboard, showing a brain that’s been crossed out, and a cartoon heart that’s been circled.
  202. >”What I mean by this, is you need to not consciously think about it. Like walking. Oh by the way, you’re welcome for the next hour of not knowing how to use your legs.”
  203. >Quite a few faces in the crowd fell as they realized they now had no idea how they had been walking, or how to walk, and were basically glued in place.
  204. >”so, basically, think about not thinking about not using your magic, to use your magic. Confusing? Good, the less you know what you’re doing, the better. That’s the Sunburst effect right there. He knew eeeverything there was to know about magic, and couldn’t use it worth shit.”
  205. >That has to be the dumbest logic and reasoning I have ever heard in my entire life.
  206. >That’s like… knowing how a computer works making using a computer even harder.
  207. >Or knowing the ins and outs of a car’s engine suddenly making you drive like you’re Asian.
  208. >Of course nothing works like how it’s supposed to in this backwards, crazy, upside-down horse land.
  209. >”Alright class, I’m gonna give you ‘bout 15 minutes to try and levitate something. Just don’t not think about something like, a warm wind blowing what you want levitated upwards, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
  210. >I look over towards my much shorter classmate, and her expression mirrors exactly how I feel.
  211. >“So, we’re fucked, aren’t we?”
  212. >It sounded less like a question, and more like a statement of fact.
  213. “Yep.”
  214. >The next 15 minutes were the most frustrating experience anyone in that room had ever experienced.
  215. >It was like trying to turn your thought processes inside out.
  216. >The exact moment you stopped paying attention to something, it started working.
  217. >The moment it started working, you payed attention to it, and it stopped working.
  218. >Trying to figure out how anything worked resulted in it breaking, and countless techniques were forged and broken within one or two tries.
  219. >Counting, counting powers, listing primes, focusing on one of your hooves, they would all get results at least once, sure, but the moment it came to replicate the results, it would immediately fall flat on it’s face.
  220. >The only consistent results anyone got was trying to remember the things they couldn’t remember, which apparently appeased the ironic element present in magic, and thusly sated, allowed them to use magic.
  221. >But then someone actually managed to remember their family and broke down crying, so everyone avoided that method, lest they suffer as she did.
  222. >At the end of the 15 minutes that room was filled with so many sweet little voices cursing up a storm, that sailors and coal miners would have fainted.
  223. >Showoff, eventually taking pity on us, spoke up.
  224. >”Well, at least all of that hoof-waving and arcane babbling you did was impressive, but unfortunately, it seems like we don’t have any naturals among us. Guess we’re gonna have to move on to the hard way, where I explain by not explaining how to use magic, so you can use magic.”
  225. >Showoff gives a sigh, and I can hear her mutter under her breath.
  226. >”Thank Celestia for magic aspirin.”
  227. >It’s another 30 minutes of pure hell, and by the end of it, even Showoff’s having trouble using magic.
  228. >By the end of it I wonder how the hell Showoff even uses magic, if it’s always this hard.
  229. >Eventually, everyone’s frustrated, a few ponies are crying, and Showoff’s chugging something by the bottleful.
  230. >I don’t know if it’s headache medicine or booze, but honestly, I’m just out of fucks to give.
  231. >I lie on the ground, and lazily watch as a feather coated in a pink aura dances above me.
  232. >It’s probably some showboat making a fool of me.
  233. >Although I can’t tell who’s doing it, as the room is still filled with the occasional temporary success, followed by immediate failure, followed by another bout of cursing.
  234. >It’s like one of those pictures with the spinning lady, and sometimes you see her spin one way, but most of the time, she just spins the other way.
  235. >It’s probably either optical illusions or bullshit, or something.
  236. >The feather drops out of it’s aura, and with a lazy breath, I send it back up, where it’s caught again.
  237. >Maybe that’s something I can try, just thinking about optical illusions, or other philisophical bullshitery, instead of just how this fucking feather is floating by it’s goddamned self.
  238. > Eventually I hear Snugglebun’s familiar voice coming from down the hall.
  239. >”HUP TWO-THREE-FOUR, HUP TWO-THREE-FOUR, I KNOW YOU LADIES ARE EXHAUSTED, BUT C’MON, HOW ELSE ARE YOU GONNA GET ANY BETTER IF YOU DON’T PRACTICE?”
  240. >I look up, and see Snugglebun, along with a few hints of exhausted and bruised pegasi.
  241. >Looks like we aren’t the only ones who got worked over.
  242. >The defeated unicorns all get up and form into a disorganized group by the door, and I grab that annoying little feather that had been teasing me, and tuck it behind my ear.
  243. >I’m going to figure out this magic bullshit, even if it kills me.
  244. >As I trot towards the door, I manage to catch the tail end of the conversation between Snugglebun and Showoff.
  245. >”That good huh?”
  246. >Showoff shoots Snugglebun a look like she just served a tour in vietnam, and this fuckin’ hippie was trying to give her shit for it, causing Snugglebun to back off.
  247. >”You try teaching ponies how to fly, when your explanations ruin your ability to fly, and make your wings feel like they’re boring straight into your skull.”
  248. >Snugglebun gives a plaintive gesture, and backs off.
  249. >”Alright, ok, so why don’t you go and have a nice lie down, and I’ll get these kids off to Sister Hard-Ass, ok?”
  250. >Showoff starts heading out of the room, and gives one look back at Snugglebun as she does so.
  251. >”What do you think’s gonna happen when Sister Praise realizes you’ve been calling her that behind her back?”
  252. >Snugglebun laughs.
  253. >”Oh, I dunno, beg and grovel for mercy?”
  254. >The sound of a familiar throat clearing drags an icy finger down my spine, causing every single one of my hairs to stand on end.
  255. >”Sister Hard-Ass?”
  256. >Snugglebun turns around, and accidentally bowls one of the pegasi recruits over with her wings as they flare out.
  257. >”SISTER PRAISE-CELESTIA-IN-ALL-HER-WAYS PIE, I, UH, I DIDN’T, YOU KNOW I...”
  258. >For her part, Sister Praise raises a hoof to Snugglebun’s lips, and shushes her.
  259. >”Do not worry, Sister Snugglebun, I’m sure Celestia forgives you for your actions.”
  260. >Snugglebun looks confused for a moment.
  261. >”What, uh, really?”
  262. >Sister Praise gives one of those smiles, the kind that gives the feeling of someone walking on your grave, even if all she’s doing is talking about the weather.
  263. >”But of course, but I am going to have to put you on Atonement Detail for 3 weeks, to help you think about calling other ponies names behind their back.”
  264. >I don’t know what atonement detail means, but given Snugglebun’s reaction, it’s probably something like being pulled on the rack, or getting drawn and quartered.
  265. >As Sister Praise walks past the recruits, they automatically form into two lines behind her, having already seen the extent of her mercy.
  266. >”Sister Snugglebun, please be at the chapel in an hour to begin your Absolution with all the other recruits.”
  267. >As I watch Snugglebun hang her head, I can’t help but realize, what’s punishment to her, is my life now.
  268. >This is gonna suck, isn’t it?
  269.  
  270. >It had been a long, hard trot to get here, but lo, and behold, on the hill!
  271. >The mood lifted as our eyes rested on the visage of that shining city, built into the mountain.
  272. >”Canterlot!”
  273. “Canterlot!”
  274. >”it’s only a model...”
  275. >I quickly snapped my head to shush the errant squire as I turned away from the scale model in front of this odd cathedral.
  276. >It had been a long, hard ride to get here, but this was one of the last stops on our way, before we could swear fealty to the goddesses themselves, and prove ourselves as true knights of the sun.
  277. >As we trotted to head in, we were stopped by the peculiar sight of a procession of ponies all marching by.
  278. >It was headed by a Nun, as we would have expected, but behind her was the most sorry group of ponies any of us had ever laid eyes upon.
  279. >The pegasi all looked like they had been beaten mercilessly, then forced to run a marathon.
  280. >The earth ponies were all caked with mud and filth, as if they had been forced to tunnel to tartarus itself.
  281. >And even the unicorns fared no better, having looked like they had been forced to try to teleport an obelisk to the moon, and back.
  282. >I looked back at my comrades, my true brothers in arms, and saw that their mood had been de-brightened as well.
  283. “On second thought my friends, let us not go to Canterlot, it is a silly place.”
  284.  
  285. >We had just left the classroom building, and already I felt my cheeks burning in shame.
  286. >Every single one of us recruits was in a sorry state, with about 3 different themes running throughout the group.
  287. >The pegasi were all tired and bruised, the earth ponies were all caked with what I was hoping was mud, and while the unicorns fared the best, they all looked like they were on the razor’s edge of taking a long walk off a tall bridge.
  288. >And, well, on top of that, while I thought this place was mostly closed off, or had no reason for anyone other than recently converted humans to show up here, some weird ponies in armor showed up and just gawked at us before fucking off.
  289. >Real morale builder, that.
  290. >It also didn’t help that Snugglebun was in the back, looking for all the world like a petulant child getting dragged along to sunday school.
  291. >Which, for all I knew, was exactly the case, given that we were headed towards the cathedral building.
  292. >Well, I guess that isn’t too bad, what’s so horrible with just sitting and praying for a bit?
  293. >Unless we gotta read dumb stories out of the horse-bible, and take tests on them, which in that case, I guess that’s one more horrible thing to lump on the already massive list of terrible shit I’m having to endure in this hellhole.
  294. >I looked up, having been too absorbed with my thoughts to notice that the group was already in the cathedral, and headed off to one of the stained glass windows that I had noticed when I had first headed into this place.
  295. >As we stopped at it’s base, I couldn’t help but tell that this was going to probably lead to an incredibly long winded explanation, likely tailored to be hammered into the heads of children, or idiots. Or idiot children.
  296. >”Alright My children, Today I will be teaching you about why you have all had your wretched humanity taken away, and given a superior equine form, and why We are here to make you ponies, inside, and out.”
  297. >Of course these damn ponies wouldn’t just give you hooves, then fuck off and let you do whatever with them.
  298. >I watch as the mood changes from boredom to horror, as the realization sinks in that this isn’t just a camp to teach you how to use your hooves, and it’s more like a cult recruitment camp.
  299. >For her part, all Sister Praise does is give one of those smiles that could make you fold a royal flush, then continue explaining.
  300. >”As we see in this window, we see one of your kind, Anonymous himself, as it were, tormenting the ponies of this land, before Celestia bestowed the gift of equine form upon him.”
  301. >I look up at the window, noting how the “human” looks more like a demon, with his hunched over posture, and long clawed hands, and given his size relative to the ponies he’s holding one handed, he’d have to have been two stories tall.
  302. >No one speaks up to give the Nun pony any pointers to fix the anatomical inaccuracies though, as continues with her story.
  303. >”Anonymous, or Anon, as he is more commonly known, was of a cruel and terrible nature, and he tortured the ponies of this land with great and terrible consequence. Let us move on to the next station.”
  304. >The sister moves on to another window, showing the same “human”, this time holding what looks like a combination of a medieval torture device, and a brush, while holding up a rainbow-maned pony up by her tail.
  305. >”As you can see here, this Anon creature was a clear and present threat to the harmony of Equestria, even at one point becoming a threat to the bearer of loyalty herself.”
  306. >So, Anon managed to get to Rainbow Dash herself.
  307. >I mean, he probably ruined it for the rest of us by somehow fucking up bad enough that horse-land now has a standing law against being human, but you gotta admire his moxie.
  308. >The group heads to another stained glass window, showing Celestia spearing Anon’s heart with a rainbow beam, while a group of injured ponies lie at his feet.
  309. >”Before this… Anon could copulate with the bearer of loyalty, Celestia herself struck him down, ending his rampage.”
  310. >Rip Anon, he never scored.
  311. >As I offer a silent thanks that this part seems to be moving along at a decent clip, I look at the next stained glass window, which has what’s honestly probably the ugliest pony I have ever seen.
  312. >I mean, green coat, black hair?
  313. >That’s about as creatively bankrupt as making the cute girly thing pink.
  314. >”Celestia, as opposed to ending the monster right then and there, decided to remove its threat to her little ponies, and allow it to be taught about the magic of friendship, by turning Anon into a pony, as you have.”
  315. >I watch Snugglebun out of the corner of my eye, mouthing what Sister Praise is saying, word for word, without even looking at her.
  316. >I don’t know if she’s mocking her, or if she’s been through this so many times that she has her speech committed to memory.
  317. >The group moved away from the last stained glass window towards a picture of the anon-pony thing giving the angriest look a pony could muster, framed in a wreath.
  318. >”given the treatment given to poor Anon was of an early kind, he was unfortunately unable to accept the gift given to him, and he was unable to find friendship in equestria.”
  319. >Sister Praise dips her head, as if in prayer for the poor human-turned-pony’s soul.
  320. >Her head rises up, and once again her face is graced with that spine-tingling grin.
  321. >”However, we have made great advancements in our methodology since that time, and you can see how much we have advanced by our sisters who grace the halls.”
  322. >A shiver runs down my spine as I look back at the various and sundry ponies littered about, and hunker down as I catch a glance at the shadow hidden behind their eyes, behind those fake plastic smiles.
  323. >It’s almost like one of those smiles you’d see from walmart greeters, or someone who works in the service industry.
  324. >Except if they added in a few pointers taken from sharks, birds of prey, or large predatory mammals.
  325. >The way they look at me reminds me of nothing more than a spider watching a fly struggle helplessly in it’s web.
  326. >I huddle down, shivering as I turn back to Sister Praise.
  327. >”Alright Sisters, I am giving you two hours to get yourselves cleaned up and break fast. After those two hours are up, head down to the classroom attached to the cathedral. You have much to learn.”
  328. >Yep, called it, we’re getting that blatant sunbutt propaganda hammered into our heads whether we want it or not.
  329. >The group all grumbles and collectively heads to the showers, likely not pleased with the fact that they’re going to have to be taught like gradeschoolers.
  330. >Snugglebun heads up the front, clearly deflated by her “atonement detail”.
  331. >I hear one of the other ponies ask her something, followed by a long sigh in return.
  332. >I try to listen closely, and flinch a little bit at the unfamiliar feeling of my ears turreting towards where Snugglebun’s talking.
  333. >”Atonement detail’s basically what you guys are going through right now. The whole “fill their heads with blatant big C propaganda, and hope it takes” deal. Except, of course, that Sister Praise is gonna be keeping an eye out on extra ways to work me over.”
  334. >I wince at the thought of the nun having it out for me.
  335. >Despite the fact she’s a nun, and probably devoted her life to Celestia, she’s an inquisitor, and was the pony who stole my humanity, along with probably countless others.
  336. >And if that’s what she considers a gift, then I’d hate to get acquainted with what she thinks a punishment is.
  337. >The group manages to meander its way to the showers, where Snugglebun turns the water on without ceremony.
  338. >A few of the other ponies just flop into the spray, and the water quickly turns black from all of the muck coming off of the earth ponies, the poor bastards.
  339. >I look away from the other trainees, and down at my nemesis.
  340. >The bar of soap.
  341. >I pluck my now damp feather from behind my ear, and look between it, and the soap.
  342. >There is no spoon, the stairs go up infinitely, the three tines are two prongs, and the jar is also two faces.
  343. >I watch as a faltering aura comes into being around the soap bar, but what surprises me the most isn’t that the soap bar actually rises up out of the dish by a few centimeters.
  344. >It’s the fact that the aura is pink.
  345. >Just like the aura that was around the feather when it was floating around on it’s own.
  346. >I look back down at my hoof where the little feather is doing a lazy figure 8 over my hoof.
  347. >I… don’t think I’m making it do that?
  348. >I let my hoof drop to the ground, and just stare at the feather, pirouetting in midair.
  349. >It shouldn’t do that right?
  350. >But why wouldn’t it?
  351. >I use the soap bar or the soap bar just starts acting on it’s own, or something, but the end result is the bar of soap lathering my coat, as I try to grapple with the insane line of logic I just conceived.
  352. >A piece of my mind just sits back and watches the insanity, as I try to explain just what the fuck is happening to myself.
  353. >It’s… kinda like a 3 way bastard child between flying by trying to hit the ground and missing, that quantum physics thing where the boat stays still, but moves the universe around it, and the childish thought of “I reject your reality, and substitute my own”.
  354. >Is this just me going crazy here?
  355. >Is this just how unicorns think?
  356. > I lift up a hoof, and look down at it again, watching the feather spiral around it.
  357. >Even if I could eventually find a way back human, is this line of thinking just something I can put behind me, or it is some pandora’s box, that’s already permanently marked me.
  358. >I clench my eyes shut, and grit my teeth, while I try to cut the flow of magic, and just stop.
  359. >It takes a disturbingly long time, but I eventually feel the soap bar stop scrubbing me, then clatter to the ground.
  360. >I let out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding as I just let the cool water flow over me.
  361. >”Hey, pink, didn’t anyone tell you not to drop the soap?”
  362. >My eyes shoot open as I look at the shit-eating grin on the familiar face that’s the source of the comment.
  363. “Ok, did someone shit in your bed or something?”
  364. >”I dunno, you try being the short shit. Also, I gotta at least balance out you learning how to do the impossible and use magic, with giving you shit.”
  365. “Didn’t the teacher say to give the slow students shit for not figuring out magic? And also you’re playing a dangerous game here, given I now know how to bean you in the face with the soap.”
  366. >The bar of soap levitates out of the sudsy puddle where it was resting, as I give the tiny little pony the meanest look I can muster.
  367. >And in response, she manages to give a blank stare for a moment, before breaking out into laughter.
  368. >”I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just can’t take you seriously with that face, I swear, if I still had fingers, I’d be pinching your chubby little cheeks.”
  369. >In response, the bar of soap bounces off her forehead, quickly cutting off her laughter.
  370. “I hope you have fun scrubbing yourself down with your hooves then. I’m gonna go get dried off.”
  371. >As I trot past the tiny reddish mare, I feel the feather nestle safe and sound behind one of my ears again.
  372. >I head over to a dry section of the shower room and a dry towel gets engulfed in a pink aura that’s quickly becoming familiar, then levitates towards me.
  373. >Why in God, or Celestia, or whoever’s willing to listen’s name did I just so happen to wind up pink?
  374. >I hear my stomach rumble, and hold a distressingly pink hoof to a disturbingly pink stomach, realizing that the last time I ate, I still had hands.
  375. >I sigh as I towel myself off, waiting for the other ponies to get finished up, so I can go eat without getting mobbed.
  376. >There’s a pink pony, staring at me from the mirror.
  377. >It’s still taking me a moment to realize that horse is me now.
  378. >I watch as it’s face goes from an expression of curiosity, to annoyance.
  379. >Along with a flinch of discomfort as it’s ears flop back.
  380. >I look away from the mirror, as I raise a hoof up, and feel at one of my big, stupid, floppy ears.
  381. >It’s oddly sensitive, and what annoys me more is there’s this itchy little spot behind it I just can’t seem to reach.
  382. >I try reaching it with one hoof, then the other hoof, but I seem to just not have the flexibility to reach it.
  383. >In a moment of desperation, I finally try to scratch at it with a rear hoof, which surprisingly works.
  384. >I let my hoof drop back to the ground as I blush, realizing that I had just been scratching myself like a dog, when I could have just used magic, or something.
  385. >I mean, in the long run, both actions are as equally inhuman as catching a thrown stick with your mouth, or cleaning yourself with your tongue.
  386. >I let out a long sigh, and stare at the sad unicorn in the mirror, and realize that there’s likely no way back from this.
  387. >I’m either going to run from here, and away from any kind of magic that can restore my humanity, or be broken by this place, and no longer want to return human anyways.
  388. >I mean, the ponies aren’t likely to help, given that being human’s illegal, and the only other race I know of that could reverse this would maybe be zebras and their potions, but for all I know, they’d be just as likely to turn me back, as to turn me into a frog or some shit.
  389. >I look over as I hear the showers turn off, and see Snugglebun trying to punt a few of the other Students? Trainees? upright.
  390. >I stay where I am, waiting for the line to form, making a fairly safe assumption that our fearless leader’s taking us to the cafeteria.
  391. >Everyone’s still looking like hell warmed over, and now that the muck’s been cleaned off the earth ponies, it’s clear that the pegasi got the worst of it.
  392. >If I had to guess, it probably has to do with trying to do something complex and dangerous, such as flying, with two new limbs that you have just had grow out of your back.
  393. >I’m not sure how fast one of those bird-horses can go, but I doubt faceplanting at that speed’s comfortable.
  394. >If it weren’t for the fur, I’d bet that they’d be black, blue, and red all over, especially after a few weeks of this kinda treatment.
  395. >The ponies, in what could roughly be called a line by a blind man, march by, and I follow them out into the halls.
  396. >As we pass by a pony giving us an uncomfortably wide smile, the group clumps up around Snugglebun, and I turn to ask her something.
  397. “So, what’s the deal with the, uh, Sisters? Why are they like that?”
  398. >”The Sisters? They…It’s a different process. I think this was when they just tried to rush things, and do it all with magic, and, well, the process more or less left them lobotomized. The normal recruits eventually go out and have successful lives, but those ponies… There’s just nothing between their ears.”
  399. >The collective group huddles closer together, and as I look upon the terrified faces of my comrades, I wonder if that glass of bleach sent me to hell instead of Equestria.
  400. >”I mean, it’s not all bad, I mean, some of those people just got the short straw, but most of ‘em… let’s just say, there weren’t paragons of virtue.”
  401. >I stare into the eyes of one of the “sisters” we pass, and I feel a shiver run down my spine.
  402. >Great, not only is this some kinda racist? Specist? political prison, but it’s full of lobotomized actual criminals as well.
  403. “Are you sure they’re safe, if they’re criminals and all?”
  404. >”yeah, I mean, the most they’ll do is just try and cuddle you, but past a little unwanted hugging, I’d say they’re harmless.”
  405. >I hope that Snugglebun’s telling the truth on this, and not just glancing over the details about that time when one of those “harmless” ponies tore someone’s throat out.
  406. >I feel my stomach grumble again, as the smells of fried something waft over from the large doors leading to what I’m guessing is the cafeteria.
  407. >My guess is confirmed as moments later, we enter into a reasonably sized cafeteria, with what I’d guess are two or three other groups of recruits, along with a few tired looking guardponies.
  408. >A line forms in front of the counter, where a grey earth pony is frying what looks like hay?
  409. >I mean, we’re horses now, but frying hay?
  410. >I take a dollop onto my tray, and wonder if the fact it smells so good is either because it’s been fried, or if I just have horse senses now, which could mean that it tastes better than it looks.
  411. >Everyone takes their trays and heads over to an empty table, and of course that little red bastard takes a seat next to me.
  412. “What do you want, mudblood?”
  413. >”You know earth ponies can actually do magic, right?”
  414. “No, I mean, as in you’re some kinda magic thing, that can’t do magic, and I can see my insult immediately fell through.”
  415. >”well, if I had to insult myself for not being able to do the invisible, and see the impossible, I’d go with a classic, like horn-nigger.”
  416. ”but wouldn’t I just be insulting myself, then? And why are you so invested in coming up with slurs that apply to yourself?”
  417. >”Well, you figured out magic, right? The way I figure it, if I got everyone pushing my shit in on not being able to use magic, then that’d be some form of motivation to figure it out faster, right?”
  418. “Implying they wouldn’t just make fun of you for being small enough to fit inside a thimble, with ample leg room.”
  419. >I give a shit-eating grin to the tiny scrunching mare, and realize that she was right, ponies are pretty adorable when they’re pissed.
  420. “Alright, enough of that, how about we get some food in us, before they march us off to cult class?”
  421. >”Alright, fine. But I hope you realize this isn’t over, right?
  422. >I roll my eyes, then look down at my food.
  423. >Are we… just supposed to bend down, and eat it like some sort of animal?
  424. >I mean, it’s not like we could use utensils with hooves anyways.
  425. >I look around at the rest of the group, and try to gauge their reactions to the situation.
  426. >I see a few are still staring at their plates, trying to figure out what to do, while most seem to have resigned themselves to shoving their faces into their food, and just chomping away.
  427. >I mentally shrug, and decide getting some food in now is better than trying to fiddle with my probably unreliable magic, and dip my head down to my plate.
  428. >I take a few sniffs, and find the fried food smells just as good as it did a few minutes ago, and tentatively take a bite.
  429. >My eyes widen as I happily chew on the fried grains, this stuff ain’t half bad, for what amounts to grass stuck in a deep frier.
  430. >I quickly down the food, and all too soon, find myself staring mournfully at an empty plate.
  431. >If I had to guess what made that meal taste so good, I’d have to say that half the reason could be attributed to horse tastebuds, and the other half from hunger being the best spice.
  432. >I take another glance around, and notice the group is all nearly done with their food as well, and seem to be mostly chatting among themselves.
  433. >The conversations seem to mainly be various and sundry worries, whether it be the blatant brainwashing we’re about to receive, to worries about never learning their special pony powers.
  434. >I look at the wall to try and figure out what time it is, and all I can see is some kinda sundial mounted to the wall, with a mote of light hovering under it.
  435. >I think it’s some kind of sun cult wall art, until I realize it’s supposed to be an artificial sundial, which only makes things worse, since I have no idea how to read one of those.
  436. >I’m not entirely sure how it works, but the shadow being in the middle of the thing at least gives me the vague clue that it’s supposed to be midday.
  437. >Makes sense, if lunchtime was around now.
  438. >Snugglebun stands up, and clears her throat.
  439. >”Alright, you’ve got clean, got some grub in you, now how about we get you all off to class before Sister Praise gets any more reason to have my ass on a platter.”
  440. >Everyone of course grumbles as they get up, and form an orderly line behind Snugglebun.
  441. >At this point, it’s just second nature to form lines behind people.
  442. >I swear, even if I manage to get out of here, I’d be following random folks down the street like a lost duckling.
  443. >It’s another long boring walk, through the halls, the voices of idle chit-chat bouncing off the marble walls.
  444. >I take a moment to think, so just who all wound up here?
  445. >Was it just everyone who decided that life sucked too hard, and took the magic bleach route out?
  446. >Was it everyone who chose to chug down bleach to make their express exit from the land of the living, or was there some other bar to entry?
  447. >I glance over at a pair of “sisters” hugging to one side of the hallway.
  448. >I consider, just who were they?
  449. >Snugglebun didn’t exactly elaborate on what kind of unscrupulous deeds they committed, for all I know they could have either been petty thieves, or serial killers.
  450. >Hell, maybe they just didn’t feel like being friends with people who wipe personalities on a whim.
  451. >I turn away from the scene, and look towards the door the group was entering.
  452. >Welp, I guess it’s time to learn the hard way what exactly Sister Hard-Ass has in store for us.
  453. >The first look into the classroom reveals nothing out of the ordinary, with desks lined up in rows designed for ponies in mind.
  454. >As I walk towards a seat in the corner, I can’t help but hope there won’t be any homework, buying of school supplies, or whatever other inane bullshit I’m going to inevitably get saddled with anyways.
  455. >Sister Praise-Celestia-In-All-Ways is sitting at the front of the classroom, with a smug, self satisfied expression.
  456. >It’s honestly like she almost didn’t expect us to show up, but it’s not like that wasn’t going to happen with the “sisters” and the occasional guardpony roaming the halls.
  457. >That, and the fact that there’d probably be another manhunt fired up to hunt your ass down to bring you back here and lobotomize you if you so much as took two steps outside.
  458. >Honestly, it’s probably just easier to sit down, shut up, and sing whatever praises they want you to, just so you can go back to living another miserable life, except with pastel ponies.
  459. >I cast my gaze at the rainbow assortment of other ponies all trying to figure out where they’re going to sit, and think, these are all people who decided living was too hard for them.
  460. >What’s keeping them from deciding they’re better off dead, instead of living through the pony run human holocaust.
  461. >Well, aside from the fact that the ponies seem to be trying to get these people to fit into their society, rather than figuring out how many they can fit into a mass grave.
  462. >Still, it kinda sucks that they’re trying to hammer their sun-god cult into everyone’s head, but I suppose it keeps people from trying to overthrow a literal god, in favor of a communist government, or whatever.
  463. >Eventually all the ponies are sitting in their seats, and giving the nun pony all the rapt attention they can muster.
  464. >What follows is probably the best rendition of classic hard-ass christian education, as performed by an equine.
  465. >Sister Praise definitely earned her nickname that day, as she was one hell of a quick draw with her ruler.
  466. >It might have just been a regular old wood one, but I’m pretty sure if it were made out of metal, there would have been casualties.
  467. >Even as is, I’m sure some of the ponies she reprimanded are going to have bruises.
  468. >But the pony who got it worst of all, had to have been Snugglebun.
  469. >I don’t know how, but Sister Praise must have had eyes in the back of her head to have caught half the stuff Snugglebun was doing.
  470. >And not only that, but she was twice as nasty with where she targeted Snugglebun, I accidentally nearly dozed off in class, and caught a ruler ‘round the ear once, and that stung like a motherfucker.
  471. >Against Snugglebun, Sister Praise almost expressly targeted her ears, and the joints of her wings.
  472. >And if the yelps from the pegasi students were any indication, getting hit there HURT.
  473. >I swear, if anyone went one on one with Sister Praise, all she’d need was a rolled up newspaper to get anyone on the mat, and saying her name, and praising Celestia in under 5 minutes.
  474. >As is, the students marching out of that classroom look like they went through the pegasi training, or rather crashing exercises as well.
  475. >Poor damn birdhorses, you can wash off mud, and maybe take a break from breaking your brain trying to break reality, but come tomorrow, every single one of those ponies is gonna be feeling those bruises.
  476. >I search the hall for one of those wall mounted glowy orb and spike things that pass for clocks around here.
  477. >I spot one and give a safe guess that it’s probably some time comfortably in the afternoon.
  478. >Either that, or by the way my body’s feeling, time to go to bed, and hope I don’t wake up again.
  479. >I start heading my way towards my bed, and hopefully a dreamless sleep, when I feel a wing on my back.
  480. >I look at the pale blue-ish wing, then look up at it’s owner.
  481. >I honestly couldn’t tell the exact color beyond that, it’s not like I was a painter beforehand.
  482. >”Hey, kid, now that we got some free time, how ‘bout we go give our old friend Frost a visit?”
  483. >The way she says it, it seems more like an order than a request.
  484. >Either that, or I’m just used to following orders by now, given that this place seems one hell of a lot like a boot camp.
  485. “Uh, sure? I mean, I haven’t seen her past this morning, I guess. And, well, what are we gonna do, gossip?”
  486. >Snugglebun turns, and giggles as she leads me out of the chapel.
  487. >”Honestly kid, gossiping is basically relevant shitposting. And it always pays to have the juiciest tidbits, hot off the marble.”
  488. “Not like I’d be able to help all that much there, with having spent less than a grand total of one day here.”
  489. >Snugglebun looks back and gives me a sly, knowing smile as she leads me towards the same garden area the earth ponies were assigned earlier.
  490. >”Honestly, unless you’re deaf, blind and lame, you’d be surprised at the sort of crap you can pick up on.”
  491. “I doubt it.”
  492. >I huff then flinch as my tail unconsciously flicks in annoyance.
  493. >I give my tail a brief look of annoyance, then turn back, as I head towards the sounds of humming emanating from the garden.
  494.  
  495. >I sat in a clearing in the garden, enjoying the feeling of sunshine warming my coat, and the cool grass under me.
  496. >I was idly humming, with my eyes shut, just enjoying the peaceful atmosphere out here.
  497. >No one trying to bother me, or giving me any expectations further than “grow some plants”.
  498. >I really, really liked it out here.
  499. >I felt one of my ears turret as I heard a pair of ponies enter the garden, and considered looking up for a moment, but decided against it.
  500. >Snugglebun usually came alone, which meant I was likely safe from whatever prank, or joke, or whatever she had planned.
  501. >I swear, it’s like every other day she tries to pull something.
  502. >But usually she’d be out at a bar by this point, trying to put on her best knock off Rainbow Dash impression.
  503. >Honestly, what a hussie.
  504. >Maybe if she could just close her legs for one second, she’d manage to get with somepony who could tolerate her for more than a night.
  505. >I settled down into the grass, and tried to just forget about her for a second, and continued humming some snippets of whatever music I could remember.
  506. >I think I was humming something by Billy Joel, I’m not really sure how it goes, but it’s sad, and it’s sweet, and I knew it complete, when I wore a human man’s clothes.
  507. >I paused my humming to let out a contented sigh, I was so glad that no one was going to ruin this peaceful little moment.
  508.  
  509. >I don’t know why, but Snugglebun was sneaking up on Frost, something to do with “ruining her peaceful little moment?”
  510. >She had froze dead in her tracks when Frost sighed, but the moment she started humming again, she resumed moving.
  511. >I don’t know how she got over that ring of grass without making a sound, but she apparently had ninja-like skills.
  512. >Probably acquired from having to sneak around a noisy cathedral, or maybe just something having to do with being a bird boned pegasi.
  513. >I watched as she crept her head closer and closer to Frost’s ear.
  514. >So she was going to yell in her ear or something?
  515. >Not that surprising, as I could tell from this morning, Snugglebun had a real pair of lungs on her.
  516. >I watched as Snugglebun crept closer, and closer until she…
  517. >Wait, did Snugglebun just kiss Frost on the cheek?
  518. >I stood dumbfounded as Snugglebun fell over on her back and started laughing outrageously, and Frost nearly turned completely red.
  519. >”Oh man, that was great, gotta say, this is about the second most red I’ve ever seen you turn.”
  520. >”THAT WASN’T FUNNY, SNUGGLEBUN”
  521. >”Oh shush, you know you love it.”
  522. >I chuckled as I watched Snugglebun waggle her eyebrows at a furiously scrunching Frost.
  523. >I mean, that was pretty terrible, but still, funny as hell.
  524. >I stepped over the fairy ring, and noted that it seemed to be a bit taller than I remembered, probably something I could ask Frost about.
  525. “So, we here to shoot the shit, or what?”
  526. >”Oh, uh, hi… um, I don’t think I managed to get your name…”
  527. “Well, I think you got it in a more literal sense in the way that I can’t remember it anymore.”
  528. >”Oh, I, um, sorry…”
  529. >I trotted up to the shy little wallflower, and gave her a hug.
  530. >I mean, I’m not gay, or, I don’t think this is gay? But whatever, it looked like she needed it.
  531. >The whole question of “gay/not gay” got thrown out of whack the moment a certain group of ponies decided my ‘umie penor needed to be a horse vaj.
  532. >I let my forehooves drop back down to the grass, and looked at the little blushing mare, who muttered out a barely audible “thanks.”
  533. >I looked over at Snugglebun, who had her hooves tucked up under her chin, and I swear, her eyes were sparking.
  534. “Snugglebun, what the hell”
  535. >With a flap of her wings, she swept up behind me, and had a hoof noogie-ing my mane.
  536. >”Aw Newfag, you’re just too precious sometimes. I swear, can feel myself getting diabetes over here.”
  537. >Snugglebun released me, letting me try to muss my mane back to some kind of normal, as she trotted in front of me and Frost.
  538. >”Alright, gossiping, shooting the wind, shitposting loudly, go go go.”
  539. “I swear, I thought I had seen the last of shitposting by the time I finished that glass of bleach.”
  540. >”And what, miss out on the fun of spewing random shit to either get a cheap laugh, or piss someone off? No way in hell. That, and I’m pretty sure where there’s humans, there’s shitposting.”
  541. >I huffed, of fucking course not even death could save me from shitposters.
  542. “Alright, so, you seem real excited to spill the beans, either that, or you’ve got some ancient memes to spew, that you think I’d remember.”
  543. >”Yeah, yeah, alright, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve lurked the chan, but well, I got some hot gossip for all y’all, hot off the street, or rather, the marble tile.”
  544. >I raised my eyebrow, and leaned in towards Snugglebun.
  545. >”Frost’s got the hots for that grey stallion who works in the cafeteria.”
  546. “Wait what?”
  547. >Snugglebun laughed as Frost clamped her hooves over her mouth, and again, nearly turned completely red for the second time.
  548. >”I DO NOT ‘HAVE THE HOTS’ FOR HIM, SNUGGLEBUN”
  549. >”Oh come on, I’ve seen you get all doey eyed when you look at him, and the way you stutter when you try to talk to him”
  550. “Wait, doesn’t Frost stutter like, every time she talks?”
  551. >”Believe me, when she talks to that guy, she has a hard time even getting “hi” out.”
  552. >I chuckled at the idea of the shy pony trying to talk to a stallion.
  553. “Sounds like all we’d need is some pink hair dye, some yellow paint, and a pair of wings, and we’d have a real Fluttershy on our hands.”
  554. >”See, I’m not the only one who thinks that!”
  555. >I laughed, I mean, it was sorta kinda at Frost’s expense, but the way I see it, she either needed to lighten up or get out of her shell, or something.
  556. >I felt a hoof nudge my side.
  557. >”See kid, not all gloom and doom, out here in the presbytery, am I right?”
  558. >I realized for a sec that I was actually smiling, and having a laugh with people who I was rapidly starting to consider my friends.
  559. “Well, yeah, uh, maybe? I mean, I kinda expected shit to suck pretty hard, you know, in a ‘boot smashing a human face forever’ kinda way, but I’m guessing Sister Praise is the only one who’s upholding that policy.”
  560. >”Yeah, I mean, she’s kinda got her own crusade. Dunno what crawled up her ass and died. And well, everyone else is a convert, so they’re usually pretty chill.”
  561. >I think about what Snugglebun just said for a second.
  562. “So, uh, exactly how many people do you think come through here? And where do they all end up?”
  563. >Snugglebun looks up at the sky and rests a hoof under her chin.
  564. >”I dunno, I mean, shit usually changes pretty wildly, sometimes you’ll have a good year, and have next to nobody show up, but sometimes you’ll have stuff like last year, and people are stepping all over each other to get out the door.”
  565. >I look between the ponies sitting in front of me.
  566. “Wait, doesn’t that mean that I’m basically talking to dead men right now?”
  567. >I watch as Snugglebun gives a wry little smile, and Frost scuffs the grass with a hoof.
  568. >”Yep, got that one on the nose, kid. I mean, not everyone gets second chances, so, well, best make the most of it, am I right?”
  569. >”Y-yeah.”
  570. “That… is probably the most horrifying migrant crisis imaginable. I mean, all you’d get is the sad sacks with no hope, Jesus fuck that’s awful.”
  571. >”Well, yeah, but on the bright side, once you get them out of the shitter, and into happy sunshine land, I’d imagine they’d brighten up. And, well, I’d say Equestria’s one hell of a lot more forgiving. Like, seriously, there’s a sofa and quill shop, name one place where that wouldn’t go bankrupt before the end of the year on earth.”
  572. >I think for a moment, and try to think of somewhere where something that dumb could fly.
  573. “Portland? Maybe some hipster infested place? I’d guess if the quality’s good, maybe it’d stay solvent?”
  574. >”Yeah, maybe one or two places with people batshit enough to keep someplace like that afloat, like California, but even then, chances are it’d just get gobbled up by some chain.”
  575. “So, what’s that make Equestria, some kinda big rock candy mountain for failures who took the easy way out? Some kinda socialist welfare state, or something?”
  576. >”Eh, it’s more like if you try, you’ll more than likely succeed, as opposed to back on Earth, where if you try hard work, you’ll fail, if you try luck, you’ll fail, and if you try the smart way, you’ll get saddled with student debt, THEN fail.”
  577. >I try to open my mouth and refute Snugglebun’s statement, but while I don’t know how things work in Equestria, I can’t help but feel that that’s exactly how things went back on Earth.
  578. >”W-well, that and the commies usually get shut down by the literal god who runs this place. I mean, I’m not a fan of theocracy and all, but I’m less a fan of those godless reds.”
  579. >I stare at Frost for a second, I wouldn’t have taken her as some ancap poster, especially when she’s been quiet for most of the conversation.
  580. >But hey, guess there aren’t high requirements for drinking bleach.
  581. “So, uh, it a faux paus to, uh, ask people about their lives before, uh, winding up here?”
  582. >”I mean, most of the time, yeah, I’d guess? Since it was literally so horrible they decided killing themselves was better off than continuing, but, well, we’re here to shoot shit, and gossip, am I right?”
  583. >Snugglebun sighs, and for a brief moment, I think I can see the man under the mare.
  584. >”Times got hard. Jobs got scarce, and, well, Memes stopped being funny. Booze burnt through what money I had left, and, well, it was either the streets, or…”
  585. >I reach over, and wrap a hoof around Snugglebun’s withers.
  586. “I… I’m so sorry.”
  587. >Snugglebun looks up at me, and tries to put on a smile, but I can still see the tears threatening to spoil the facade.
  588. >”Nah, it’s fine, I mean, if I didn’t I wouldn’t have wound up here, am I right? I mean the whole “can’t cum inside Rainbow Dash” is kind of a bummer, but, well I think I got the next best thing, which is becoming rainbow dash!”
  589. >Snugglebun strikes a pose in front of me, and I wonder if it was just me, or if Snugglebun put an emphasis on the “cumming” part of “becoming”.
  590. >Frost gives an unimpressed look.
  591. >”So is that why you completely ruined your mane that one time with that “rainbow” hair dye?”
  592. >”Oh come on, you know I could have rocked it.”
  593. >”You could have, if it didn’t have a shitty tie-dye effect.”
  594. >I chuckle at the ponies exchange as I imagine Snugglebun having a hippie-esque rainbow blotched hair-do.
  595. >I yawn widely, and look over the horizon and watch as the sun sets.
  596. >”Welp, friendo, it’s looking like it’s getting to about time to hit the hay. How ‘bout we get you off to bed before you just pass out in the grass out here?”
  597. “Yeah, sure, whatever.”
  598. >The three of us head out of the nearly head height grass.
  599. “Hey, uh, mind explaining what’s the deal with the grass?”
  600. >”Earth pony magic. Frost here sorta can’t control the tap, so when she’s happy, or calm or whatever the grass grows up around here. Aaaand, when she’s thinking about her cooolt friiiend little wild flowers sprout up in there as well.”
  601. >”SNUGGLEBUN, ONE OF THESE DAYS, I SWEAR”
  602. “Oh, what, you don’t want that big, strong stallion to scoop you up, and hug you close to his chest?”
  603. >”NOT YOU TOO.”
  604. “C’mon Frost, you’re making this too easy, I mean, have you considered not freaking out about this stuff so people won’t tease you about it?”
  605. >Frost scrunches her muzzle up, and turns away.
  606. >”M-maybe… But maybe you shouldn’t be an asshole and tease me, huh?”
  607. “C’mon, what’s a little banter between friends? And I mean, maybe you could give Snugglebun a taste of her own medicine? Like I doubt she hasn’t done anything mind-bogglingly stupid.”
  608. >As I watched Frost put a hoof up under her chin, I couldn’t help feel the slightest bit sorry.
  609. >I don’t know how good of friends these two ponies were, but I might have just pushed them slightly towards some kinda break up.
  610. >Hopefully, the messy kind, where two of the ponies responsible for my ponification would either be less inclined to work together, or too distracted to notice if certain pink ponies broke out in the middle of the night.
  611. >I mean, it was a long shot, but having some sort of plan, or preparation to get out of this hell hole would be probably be for the best.
  612. >Because the slightest bit of insurance would be a real lifesaver if it turned out the final test was staying nice and still as they strapped you down to a chair, cracked your skull open, and cut the bad out of you.
  613. >I watched as Frost turned to Snugglebun, and metaphorically crossed my fingers.
  614. >“You know what, Snug, I don’t think you actually have gotten laid, because every night, after you come back sloshed after going “on patrol”, you always whine about how none of the stallions want you, and how the mares are all snobs.”
  615. >I watched as Snugglebun’s mouth gaped, and tried to hold in my laughter.
  616. >”I- but you, why, I aughtta…”
  617. >”I mean, I doubt it’s a secret at this point that every time you’re sent on patrol, you just make a beeline for the bar. And don’t get mad, Snuggsy, it’s just a bit of banter…”
  618. >I was finding it increasingly hard to keep from bursting out laughing as Frost was wearing the most guilt-free angelic little smile, while Snugglebun was just seething with rage.
  619. >As we approached the doorway to our bunks, Snugglebun let out a breath.
  620. >”alright, alright, I got it, no more banter.”
  621. “Oh, you’re a fan of dishing it out, but the moment some of it comes your way, you immediately call a ceasefire?”
  622. >”yeah, yeah, look kid, there’s a world of difference between saying someone’s out looking for a boyfriend, and telling someone that they have no game, they probably drink too much, and that their love life’s a sad miserable wreck.”
  623. >I looked at Snugglebun’s crestfallen look, and felt a genuine stab of empathy for someone I should be considering my tormentor.
  624. “Oh, uh, wow, is it me, or did shit get real in here for a moment? I mean, we’ve all probably said things we’re going to regret, so how about we just drop it, and focus on getting some shuteye?”
  625. >I noted that Snugglebun was already in bed, and hugging the persuader to her chest while she was turned away from me.
  626. >”meh.”
  627. >I put on an awkward smile, but when I noticed that Frost was in the same untalkative mood, I let it falter.
  628. >Well, mission accomplished, insofar as they weren’t talking to each other.
  629. >I don’t know if this was a common occurrence, or what kinda long-term effects there would be, but at least Snugglebun’s little “outburst” gave me a bit of ammunition to use against her, if the need arises.
  630. >I pulled the blanket over myself, settled down in my shitty little cot, and tried to console myself with the fact that these people aren’t really your friends, and that, if they felt the need, they’d just as happily snuggle with me, as open me up, and cut my personality directly out of my skull.
  631.  
  632. >I struggled against my bindings, my misshapen limbs struggling against the straps that held me in some kind of repurposed dentist’s chair.
  633. “LET ME GO, PLEASE! I DON’T WANT TO BE A PONY!”
  634. >My captors giggled through clenched teeth at my pointless struggle, their faces unmoving masks of psychotic joy.
  635. >I tried to burrow into my seat as they pulled out tools and implements more suited for working with stone or wood, than flesh or bone.
  636. >”Oh don’t worry Pink, that’s what they all say, and then we just pull that little dissenting part out, and fill their heads with sunshine and rainbows. They all thank us afterwards. Each and every one.”
  637. >I looked over at Beelzebun as she gestured over to a table stacked with cotton balls and fairy floss as she said “sunshine and rainbows”.
  638. >Oh god, they were literally going to cut me open, and replace what’s going to probably wind up as large chunks of my grey matter with fluff and candy.
  639. >I continued to fruitlessly struggle against my bindings, until Frost Doom wrapped her forelegs around my head in a vice like grip, putting my struggle to an end.
  640. >I could barely wiggle even an inch as another pony lined up what looked like a heavy duty masonry drill with my my eye, and powered it on.
  641. >”Shh, Shh, this is only gonna hurt once, it’ll be like, just a little pinch, and then it’ll be over, and you’ll be one of us.”
  642. >I tried to scream, but the hooves around my head reduced that to only a muted mumbling, leaving me to only stare as my doom crept closer, the chants of “one of us” in the background growing louder and louder…
  643.  
  644. >I gasped as I bolted straight upright in bed, staring at the blank wall across from me.
  645. >For a moment, I just stared at that wall, and panted, both relieved that I wasn’t going to die by taking a power drill to the eye socket, but also terrified that I was still neck deep in this shit.
  646. >I eventually let my body lie back down on that stiff, shitty little cot, and stared at the sundial at the far end of the room.
  647. >The little golden mote that had been present during the day had been replaced by a muted silver speck, that, if I was right, showed that I had just woken up in the middle of the night.
  648. >I pulled my pillow from out under my head, and hugged it to my chest as I felt the first tears from what would probably be a long hard sob well up in my eyes.
  649. >I was going to die here… I’d likely fuck up, or piss off the wrong person, and get hauled off to that chair, where they’d cut me open, and pull out the parts they found disagreeable.
  650. >There was only one way out of this hell, and that was by being let out once they made me a “pony inside”.
  651. >Otherwise, if I tried to escape, there were guards patrolling the halls, my absence would be noted immediately, and any pony that found me on my miles long trek out of the country would immediately turn in the “dangerous criminal”.
  652. >The hot tears soaked into my cheeks as I hugged my pillow over my head.
  653. >The only way out… getting strapped into that chair as they cut out everything that made me, me, and letting that brain-dead marionette mindlessly wander around these halls.
  654. >Honestly, the only options were looking like death, or a different kind of death.
  655. >I felt one of my ears turret as I heard Snugglebun shift in the bed across from me.
  656. >”Kid, what… Something wrong?”
  657. >I tried to go still and hold my breath.
  658. >No. She can’t know. If she knows, she’ll send me to the chair.
  659. >I curled up into a ball and let out an involuntary whimper as I heard her hooves hit the hard marble.
  660. >Please, no, just go back to bed, just leave me be, I don’t want to be a pony, I don’t…
  661. >I felt a soft, feathery wing drape over me, then give me a nudge.
  662. >”Kid, please, we’re here to help you, but I can’t help you if you don't say nothing.”
  663. >I barely managed to hiccup a response out.
  664. “Just back to bed, I don’t want any of your “help”.”
  665. >I felt the wing covering me draw back.
  666. >”What? Kid, what’s going on?”
  667. >Fuck, She’s on to me, she’s going to fucking drag me kicking and screaming to that room, to that chair, and kill me.
  668. “Please, I don’t… I don’t wanna die…”
  669. >The silence reigned for a moment, before I heard Snugglebun’s response.
  670. >”Kid please, we aren’t gonna kill you. We just want to help you.”
  671. “Yeah, help me by turning me into one of those monsters roaming the halls?”
  672. >I felt a pair of forelegs wrap around me.
  673. >I meekly wriggled in her grasp, my will to fight against the sea of troubles set against me was all but nonexistent at that point.
  674. >”We aren’t gonna do that to you either, kid. Well, unless you’re in the habit of killing ponies, or doing other such shit.”
  675. >I quieted down, sure I wanted out of here at the first available opportunity, but killing someone, even if it was a pony?
  676. “I… I don’t think I could do that…”
  677. >My sobs were starting to quiet down into a bout of hiccuping, my doom was seeming slightly less inevitable.
  678. “So, uh, you aren’t going to strap me down to a dentist's chair, and drill my skull with repurposed power tools?”
  679. >I felt the hooves gripping me squeeze slightly tighter.
  680. >”Oh kid, you musta had one hell of a nightmare there. I mean, the… brainwashing thing or whatever Sister Praise does isn’t anywhere that nightmarish, and, well, she only uses it on people that woulda gotten life or worse back on earth anyways.”
  681. >I felt a little relieved, but again, I didn’t know how much of this was truth, and how much of it was just Snugglebun telling me what I wanted to hear to calm me down.
  682. >I had to keep my guard up, this place might seem a lot less terrifying, but that might just be a thin layer of pastel paint over the grim cage I found myself in.
  683. >Then again, I’m pretty sure Snugglebun and Frost Bloom weren’t monstrosities made out of teeth and eyes, animated by boundless rage, and barely given equine form by the shadowbolt uniforms they were wearing.
  684. >Which doesn’t excuse the fact that Equestria still has some form of corporal punishment specifically designed and wielded by someone anti-human.
  685. >And given the way she was doling out those punishments in Celestia propaganda 101, I’d find it hard to believe that even the entire class rushing her would be able to overpower her.
  686. >Not to mention that there were trained royal guards, the “sisters”, the other instructors, hell, probably the entire world would turn against me the moment I stepped foot out of here without explicit instruction to.
  687. >I pulled my pillow over my head and tried to suppress a whimper as every escape plan I could think of ran into the same inescapable reality.
  688. >There was no way out of this hellhole, unless someone vouched that I was a “pony within and without”.
  689. >Which raises the question, just what the fuck does that even mean?
  690. >Was Snugglebun a “pony within”?
  691. >Hell, could she have been lying about being a former human?
  692. >I clutched the pillow against my head as my myriad doubts weighed heavily upon me.
  693. >All I had to go on was their word alone, and if there was anything that all my years on earth had taught me, it was that words mattered for neither jack, nor shit.
  694. >Not that I could authentify any documentation either, they could just use some other former human’s drivers licence, or whatever, and I’d be none the wiser that the pony was actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  695. >Even that unicorn who was teaching us to use magic, and something that could probably be used against them...
  696. >I considered my train of thought, and let out a long suffering sigh.
  697. >It seemed like everything here was built from the ground up to make no fucking sense, no matter which way you looked at it.
  698. >Trying to puzzle this conundrum out felt like trying to solve some kinda tesseract rubik’s cube, with more colors than sides, on top of having more than a few pieces missing.
  699. >Like everything was trying to hammer home as quickly as possible, that we sure as fuck weren’t in Kansas anymore
  700. >I peeked out from under the pillow at the sun, or, moon? Thaumidial?
  701. >The bullshit magic clock was showing that I had quite a significant amount of lost night-time.
  702. >I grit my teeth, and tried to force myself to relax, there wasn’t much use to losing valuable sleep over the broken 5th dimensional jigsaw puzzle that my life had become, when it was pretty clear that I’d likely find more pieces to try and puzzle out just what the fuck was going on in the morning.
  703. >Which was rapidly approaching in a way that was neither comforting, nor conducive to taking advantage of the dwindling hours before sunrise.
  704. >I must have eventually passed out due to exhaustion, because the next thing I knew, Snugglebun was bellowing out another good morning.
  705. >The shout is followed by few screams, but there’s clearly less than the first time.
  706. >I would try to think about the situation, if 90% of my thought processes weren’t being consumed by trying to remember the lyrics to a song.
  707. >It took a minute just to gather my thoughts enough to remember to move my limbs, and get out of bed.
  708. >I could tell that today was going to be hell, even if my life was already beginning to become a sisyphean trial.
  709. >I followed in the back of the convoy, blankly staring as two feathers, illuminated in pink danced to the tune that played in my head, the two pirouetting and spiraling around each other, inviting more and more to join in the dance…
  710. >”PINK.”
  711. >I snapped my head over to Snugglebun’s concerned face, causing me to look around the room at the massacre of a few pillows, and a even a few cringing pegasi recruits, rubbing their stinging wings.
  712. “I, uh… did I do that?”
  713. >”Yeah. You did. You might wanna stay here for a bit, try to get some more sleep in, you’re looking like you’ve stayed up a straight week. Nightmares probably didn’t help neither. I’ll let Showoff know you’re gonna be late.”
  714. >I nodded my head, and looked down at the floor, christ, day two, and I was already fucking up.
  715. >Although it seemed like nightmares were pretty common around here, I could complain about the night god of dreams not sorting that shit out, but she probably was at odds with helping ponies who were supposed to be solely worshiping her sister.
  716. >Either that, or it would be like a group of small town firefighters trying to put out a thousand acre wildfire, or a star, or some shit.
  717. >Like she might be doing a bang up job with the ponies out in the rest of Equestria, but I’m sure ponies haven’t seen anything like the fucked up shit humans come up with just for fun.
  718. >At that moment I realized I had been standing stock still, and staring blankly at the wall, while my thoughts just went all over the place.
  719. >I sighed, and dragged myself back to bed, and almost instantaneously passed out the moment my head touched the pillow.
  720. >It seemed like no time had passed, but a quick glance at the clock told me otherwise.
  721. >That and the feeling like a angry little leprechaun was trapped in my head, and was desperately drilling through my skull to escape.
  722. >I reached up to rub at the migraine on my forehead, and winced as I hit my horn.
  723. >Yeah, right, fuck, I somehow plucked a bunch of feathers, and made them dance around.
  724. >I have no clue how or why I did that, but I guess when your subconscious is on a walkabout with the keys to your fancy new mind powers, shit generally tends to happen.
  725. >So, again, it seems I have some sub conscious control over feathers, which has to be the lamest superhero power ever, aside from making rings of grass pop up around you whenever you feel too hard.
  726. >I mean, that might be useful for making feather pillows, or using feather quill pens, or something, or maybe preening birds, or some shit?
  727. >I dragged myself out of bed, and started to make my way towards the classroom, where I assumed all the other ponies were already.
  728. >It was a short walk, but all the stares from the sisters, and the fact that I was all alone convinced me to try and run there.
  729. >That and I was already late, which didn’t help matters.
  730. >Despite being alone, I somehow managed to get the classroom without incident.
  731. >I skidded to a halt in front of the classroom door, and tried to slip inside as carefully as possible.
  732. >I took a look around, and yeah, things seemed just as hopeless as before, although one or two ponies were starting to figure out basic levitation, if the glowing horns and flickering fields were any indication.
  733. >I wonder if either of them are as concerned as I was that this shit was just one more step towards their inevitable ponification.
  734. >I headed over to Showoff, who had probably been gloating about how good she was at drinking, given the empty bottles scattered around her desk.
  735. “Hey, uh, I’m here.”
  736. >Showoff looked over at me, and given the dark circles under her eyes, it had apparently been another hard session, although I’m pretty sure she gloated about how it was harder for her than anyone else.
  737. >”Hey, Snugglebun told me you had a hard night. You get enough sleep?”
  738. >I nodded, and felt my magic grip at the feather I had apparently remembered to tuck behind my ear.
  739. “Uh, yeah, and, uh, I think I mighta figured out levitation, or something. And right after I woke up the first time today, I kinda went a little overboard with it, you mind if I have some of your headache meds?”
  740. >Showoff scooted over a full bottle of the stuff with a hoof, she was probably still having trouble figuring out how magic worked, due to having to explain how it worked, and that making it not work.
  741. >Not wanting to stress my probably already over-exerted magic, I tried to grab it with a hoof, but only succeeded in bumping it with my fingerless appendage.
  742. >I stared at the damned pink thing for a moment, and flexed it, maybe if I tried grabbing the bottle with the joint, that might work?
  743. >There wasn’t exactly a thumb there to keep it from squeezing out of the grip I had on it, but it’d be better than nothing.
  744. >I grabbed the bottle in, what, the fetlock, or something? And put it to my lips, drinking down the bitter medicine.
  745. >It tasted like crap, but if it’d make it stop feeling like my horn was having a violent coup to try and secede from my body,
  746. >I rubbed at the base of my horn, grateful that the pain was starting to subside.
  747. >”Alright, the pain should be starting to go away, I’d say take it easy, levitating a single feather’ll probably be as much as you should do, at least until your magic gets its strength back.”
  748. >I thought about what exactly my magic “getting its strength back” meant, but then I decided against it.
  749. >First rule of magic is that thinking about it makes everything worse.
  750. >I mean, when I was struggling to form a coherent thought, I was pulling shit that was straight outta fantasia.
  751. >Well, of course, I had a blow out right after that, but still, the point stands.
  752. >I trotted over to the corner, where a familiar red mare was seething with rage, and staring at an immobile piece of string.
  753. “Well, looks like we’re in the same boat today, I fucked up my magic with that little feather trick, and you’re still too smart to break the laws of physics.”
  754. >”Pink, I don’t need your shit right now, I can do this.”
  755. >I looked between the string, and... fuck, she didn’t even have a nickname yet.
  756. >Hell, I think I might be the only one of the recruits with anything close to a name, and that’s only because I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
  757. “Alright, I don’t think actively trying to force your magic’s gonna work, how about we try something reactionary.”
  758. >I watched as the feather moved out from behind my ear, scooped up the string, and deposited it over the other unicorn.
  759. >... why didn’t I just levitate the string?
  760. >I stared at the string that was resting on the barb of the feather, and wondered why I had chosen to use the feather to pick up the string, as opposed to simply grabbing the string.
  761. >I switched my magic over to grabbing the string, and let the feather drop.
  762. >The feather fluttered down to the counter, as that familiar pink glow encapsulated the string, and while I was managing to successfully levitate it, I couldn’t help but feel that it was… slipperier?
  763. >Like my grip on this tiny bit of string wasn’t nearly as strong as it was on my feather, and on top of that, I could feel the dull roar of discomfort building up at the base of my horn, that could blossom back into a migraine at any moment.
  764. >I quickly moved the string into position over the small nameless red mare, and let it slowly float down at her.
  765. >Oh, how she scrunched, and screwed up her eyes, and flared her horn, but in the end, the only result was the string resting triumphant across her muzzle.
  766. >She stared at the string like a bull staring down a Matador, and I honestly felt a little worried that the string would burst into fire under her withering glare.
  767. “So, uh, did you feel anything that time?”
  768. >”No, no, and more fucking no, this shit’s im-fucking-possible”
  769. “Are you sure about that? I coulda sworn I saw your horn light up a few times, maybe if you keep at it, you’ll get it sooner or later.”
  770. >The small anonymous mare managed to tear her eyes away from her adversary to look at me, but then let her gaze droop.
  771. >“I can’t believe they built this shit out of a catch-22. You have to not think about it to do it, but if you don’t think about it, you can’t do it, I mean, that shit’s the definition of impossible.”
  772. “Well, yeah, of course it’d be impossible, if you were using the laws of physics, but you aren’t. This shit’s magic, it uses it’s own rules, and you sure as fuck better not be expecting an explanation any time soon.”
  773. >The small red mare looked at me, then blew the string off her muzzle with a puff of air.
  774. >”You know, I would have thought you would have enjoyed the whole ‘breaking reality’ thing, but hearing that from you, I’d swear you’re even more pissed that you can use it.”
  775. “Yeah, that’s about right. I mean, I think half the reason magic does what it does is to thumb its nose at sensible physics, and the other half is a secret, and I’m pretty sure it prefers things to stay that way.”
  776. >Tiny stopped trying to pick up the piece of string off the floor with an appendage-less hoof, and stared up at me.
  777. >”Wait, are you saying this shit’s like, a living thing? Are we playing with Cthulhu's willy or some gay shit like that?”
  778. “Ok, maybe, and no, get your damn mind out of the gutter. And I dunno about it living, but I do know that analysis makes it not work, like, I dunno, dissecting a fish kills it. Sure you understand how fish work more, but the one you’re working with sure ain’t gonna do much more than float dead at the surface.”
  779. >Small stared intently at the string, her horn giving a wavering glow that flickered in and out of existence.
  780. >”But to further your analogy, wouldn’t there be countless other fish in the sea? Couldn’t you use one of those to power your magic, or do whatever with it?”
  781. >I put a hoof up under my chin, and looked around the room at the all the various states of unicorns trying to learn how to use their magic.
  782. >It seemed like I wasn’t the only one to figure out levitation, but it was clear that I was still in the minority.
  783. ”Well, either there’s just one big ol’ source, and understanding things weakens your link, like analyzing magic makes it not be magic anymore. Either that, or everyone only gets one fish, and it’s like, some part of your brain, or something.”
  784. >I stared at the flickering aura surrounding the string, causing it to occasionally shift as if it were caught by the wind.
  785. >I leaned a little closer to my small red friend, and whispered to her.
  786. “Say, uh, are you worried that learning magic might just be a conduit for them sucking the humanity out of us?”
  787. >Small red looked away from the string, but I noted out of the corner of my eye that her magic was still glowing around the twine.
  788. >”Honestly, at this point I don’t care if it sells my soul to the devil, just so long as I can manipulate something with more finesse than these dumb ass hooves.”
  789. >As Reddish looked down at her hoof with anger and disappointment, I saw the string start to snake up into the air behind her.
  790. “Well, yeah, I guess, but aren’t you the slightest bit worried that, like, you’re gonna lose who you are to all this magic bullshit, and by the end of this, you’re just gonna be one more fancy prancy pony?”
  791. >”Yeah, because being an uppity little cunt who can’t use magic and staying stuck in this hellhole for all eternity is so great, right? Like seriously, the moment Sunbutt caught wind that I was human, a torch and pitchfork mob basically materialized out of thin air to hunt me down, strip me of my fingers, and drag me here.”
  792. “But, like, don’t you care about Earth at all?”
  793. >”I didn’t care about it enough to stop myself from drinking bleach, and I definitely don’t care enough to drag myself back.”
  794. >I opened my mouth to respond, but then immediately closed it.
  795. >I had to admit, she had a point there, Earth might have been my home, but there wasn’t exactly anyone back there that would have given two shits that I had died.
  796. >And, well, what exactly was I going to do back on earth, assuming I managed to get back there?
  797. >It sorta seemed like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one, unless, that is, I just gave up, and capitulated to whatever demands they wanted from me.
  798. >Which is honestly looking like more and more the only option here, given it’s either fight the whole damn world, or sit down, learn some history and how to use my horn-horse brain powers.
  799. >”Alright, if you’re done trying to get us both lobotomized, I’d like to get back to- hey, where’d the string go?”
  800. >I looked up at the string, which was wriggling about in midair, cloaked in a yellow aura that matched the one emanating from the small red mare’s horn.
  801. “I, uh, think you’re doing it. The magic thing.”
  802. >”What? You fucking with me here, Pink?”
  803. >I shook my head, and pointed at the string, and watched as Little’s gaze followed to where it was floating.
  804. >”Wait, what? Are you sure that’s me, and not someone fucking with us?”
  805. “Nope, that’s all you, I had the exact same feeling when I first figured out my magic, hell it took until the second time I used it to realize that I was the one actually doing the magic-ing.”
  806. >Red looked between me and the string a few times.
  807. >”God, that is so bullshit, I swear, that’s like going through an adventure game level of moon logic to find a key, just to figure out the door was never locked. That’s just so bullshit.”
  808. >I wrapped a hoof around Tiny’s withers and chuckled.
  809. “Welcome to magic, it’s probably only going to get more shit from here.”
  810. >Little Red wriggled out of my embrace, then stood in the middle of the station and stared at the bit of string that was flailing in the air like a broken unity asset.
  811. >As I watched Red struggle with her first steps into magic, I took the opportunity to think about just why I was so reluctant to accept whatever “help” that these horses were offering.
  812. >I mean, the turning us into horses bit was a little weird, and the “history” had a definite pro-Celestia bias to it, but, well, this was a religious school, it would be naive to believe that it wouldn’t be.
  813. >Then again, when they’re basically spoonfeeding us propaganda, there’s definitely something fucky going on.
  814. >As Red ran in circles from the magically animated piece of string, I remembered one point I had made during my worried ramblings last night, specifically, wondering if Snugglebun had ever been human.
  815. >I wasn’t still 100% sure if this place was just some innocent school for integrating unwilling immigrants, but if I could somehow prove that any of our instructors was one of us, that’d be a big step towards that conclusion.
  816. >I couldn’t prove anyone’s identity from paperwork, but if they could show that they knew something only a human would know, maybe remembered something about how being a human felt?
  817. >I thought about it, then devised a simple test that I considered mostly foolproof, and wondered which of our instructors I should test it on.
  818. >”PINK. HALP.”
  819. >I looked down at where the voice was coming from, and noticed that Shorty had somehow managed to hog-tie herself with what was probably only an inch or two worth of string.
  820. >I stared between the string binding her legs, and the blank expression on her face.
  821. “I... what, how did… you know what, just sit tight, don’t try and use your magic, and I’ll be back with some scissors, or something.”
  822. >”Well, you know where to find me, not like I’m going anywhere anytime soon.”
  823. >I turned around and headed for Showoff, who, of course, was showing off that she could levitate something that was heavier than a piece of string, and didn’t come from a wing.
  824. “Hey, uh, red… guy somehow managed to hogtie herself.”
  825. >Showoff looked up at me from her book, then looked over at the corner where Tiny was struggling against her bonds, then let out a sigh.
  826. >”Stay here. I’ll get the scissors.”
  827. >I sat down by Showoff’s desk and considered using my test on her, but then decided against it, given the kind of person that Showoff was.
  828. >I wouldn’t be surprised if she gloated to the other instructors about how “human” she was, and how she was fooling us all with her “human” antics.
  829. >Yeah, no, I couldn’t use the test on her, I’d need some other rube to try it on, and I already had one in mind.
  830. >As I watched Showoff snip shorty out of her accidental bondage, I considered that Snugglebun might even be a perfect target, given that I could disguise my test as idle conversation.
  831. >I drafted up and refined the question I’d ask Snugglebun as I waited for Showoff to get back, knowing that I’d be facing serious consequences if I fucked this up.
  832. >”Alright, I managed to cut her out, try and keep her to feathers, otherwise I’m sure the next time I look over there, she’d be smack dab in the middle of some kinda gordian knot.”
  833. >I wondered for a second how Showoff had heard of that particular turn of phrase, but I wound up brushing it off as Showoff being a showoff again.
  834. >Of course she’d know about stuff like that, and be more than happy to show off her “human” knowledge.
  835. “Alright, yeah, probably for the best. Any idea how she managed to do that with just a finger’s length of string though?”
  836. >All Showoff could offer me was another bit of showing off, this time the “human” gesture of a shrug.
  837. >”It’s magic, trying to figure it out’s a fool’s errand. Doesn’t stop some people, but you’re better off just not trying in the first place.”
  838. >Again with the ‘it’s magic, you shouldn’t explain shit’ line, although I was already getting used to it, for all that it mattered.
  839. >I mean, you don’t have to know how friction, or how your tendons work in your hand to be able to use it, but then again, figuring that stuff out didn’t make you unable to use said hand.
  840. >Which again, falls under the ‘Things in Equestria just don’t make any goddamn sense’ rule.
  841. “Alright, yeah, sorta kinda already figured that one out.”
  842. >I turned to head back to the corner, where Red was furiously stamping on the bit of string, then had a second thought, and turned back.
  843. “Say, uh, is there any advice you can give so I can use my magic better?”
  844. >I figured that if I was gonna be stuck like this, I might as well learn to use what they gave me.
  845. >What exactly was I trying to prove by shooting myself in the foot and not using my magic?
  846. >Showoff held a hoof to her chin then gave her reply.
  847. >”Well I’d say try levitating something other than feathers, or maybe levitating multiple feathers at once, or even trying to use feathers to manipulate objects. I mean, once your magic gets a chance to recover.”
  848. >I nodded, remembering that trying to levitate a piece of string nearly kicked my migraine off again.
  849. >I headed back to my workstation in the corner, where Red was cowering from the piece of string, that was sitting inert in the middle of the floor.
  850. >I looked between red and the little bit of twine, then nudged the string with my hoof.
  851. “That good, huh? I have no clue what happened back there, but I’m pretty sure that if you keep at it, you might be almost back to the level you were, back when you had hands.”
  852. >”Yeah, real encouraging, Pink.”
  853. “Yeah, yeah, but at least we’re better off than the dirt horses.”
  854. >I looked down at the string, and considered picking it up, but then thought better of it, and instead levitated two of the feathers off the table, and used the pair as a sweeper and dustpan.
  855. >Red little continued to stare at the bit of string on top of the feather like it was a deadly serpent, posed to strike, as I shuffled it off to a nearby garbage bin.
  856. “By the way, you got some kinda nickname you wanna use? I’m kinda running out of synonyms for “small” over here.”
  857. >The tiny mare’s face scrunched up as she trotted up to me, and gave me a look that could have sent dragons packing.
  858. >If it weren’t on a small, adorable horse that would have had trouble coming up to my knee, when I was human.
  859. >”You calling me short?”
  860. “Why yes I am, Napoleon.”
  861. >I chuckled at the tiny red mare as she started making “ree”-ing noises, and calling me a “fucking normie”.
  862. >I mean, it was vaguely insulting, but not entirely inaccurate, and a sure sight better than just calling her “red” or short or something all the time.
  863. >I kinda wished I had a nickname that was more than just the color of my coat, but honestly, at this point it kinda seemed like it’d be more trouble than it was worth to try and change it.
  864. >I looked over at the clock, and tried to gauge about how much time there was left to class, but a familiar voice coming from down the hall told me all I needed to know.
  865. >It was still too distant to make out any specific words, but with the way that Snugglebun was belting out marching cadence, it was pretty clear that she was headed our way to pick us up.
  866. >The reaction from the group was mixed, from a few sighs of relief that they could stop putting themselves through mental torment, to a few that seemed annoyed that they were getting cut off right as they were figuring things out.
  867. >I wondered when would be the best time to put my plan into action, and considered which time would be the best to put my plan into action.
  868. >I could save it for if Snugglebun does that “hanging out and bantering” thing again, but I couldn’t be sure when that was going to happen again.
  869. >And if I did suss out Snugglebun’s secret, that she was actually a pony pretending to be a former human, I would rather have a bunch of actual humans at my back to keep me from simply getting disappeared immediately after that.
  870. >So I guess I was doing this at lunch today, which was after what would be the second shower for today.
  871. >I didn’t understand why we all showered when we woke up, then again when we finished training, but I just marked it down as some kinda sun-cult thing, along with skipping breakfast.
  872. >I mean, what the hell was with that?
  873. >Didn’t anyone tell these horses that breakfast was the most important meal of the day?
  874. >I headed for the door out, and lined up with the other unicorns as we waited for Snugglebun to pick us up, and take us to the showers.
  875. >And from there, it was basically the same old “pick us up, cower as the sisters looked at us as if we were nothing more than a piece of meat, and head on down to the showers”.
  876. >I could tell that it was going to get real boring, real fast, but at least routine made planning my escape just that little bit easier.
  877. >I was expecting the showering to go about the same as yesterday, but apparently fate had other plans.
  878. >It had all started so simply. I tried to levitate the soap, but stopped when it made my horn feel like it was going to host a bloody coup from my body.
  879. >And it was when I was crouched down, rubbing at the base of my horn in an attempt to soothe that ache, a rogue soap bar bounced off the back of my head.
  880. >When I looked up to see just who had done that, I looked upon madness itself.
  881. >A couple of unicorn hot-shots were trying to levitate their soap, which was resulting in catastrophe.
  882. >Bars were flying everywhere, some were spazzing in place, and no small amount had darted into the offending unicorn’s mouth to give it a good washing.
  883. >And not only that, the pegasi had been learning about how to manipulate things with their wings, which apparently was like trying to use the controls of one of those simulator games to hold a slippery bar of soap.
  884. >Which is to say, anarchy reigned, chaos was law, and bars of soap were set to become the new rulers of the hellscape the showers had become.
  885. >I looked around for somewhere to hide from the sudsy wrath on display, and noticed that the earth ponies were all hunkered together in the corner.
  886. >I started to head over, but noticed that a stream of brown trailing away from them, which must mean they hadn’t had the opportunity to shower off before the great soapening.
  887. >I headed for the opposite corner, just avoiding getting trampled by a pair of pegasi playing an impromptu game of soccer with a stray bar of soap.
  888. >I managed to camp out in the corner, away from the madness on display, and snag a position under a shower head a comfortable distance away from where all the action was taking place.
  889. >I stood under the lukewarm spray, and just watched the madness play out.
  890. >By the time some semblance of order was starting to restore itself, I realized I hadn’t lathered up yet, and looked over at a bar of soap resting in a dish mounted on the wall.
  891. >I stared at it for a moment, and decided that could wait until my magic was back.
  892. >It had been a long fought battle, but by the end, given by the several smashed bars of soap on the ground, it had clearly been a decisive victory in Humanity’s favor.
  893. >Although we were not without casualties, a few ponies had been run over by overzealous pegasi, some were still bruised from stray bars of soap, and a couple of unicorns were still scraping their tongues to try and get the taste of soap out.
  894. >It took a bit of coercing to get the Earth Ponies to unhuddle, but showing them the corpses of the fallen detergent managed to get them to finally move out of their corner.
  895. >It seemed like everything would be alright, the earth ponies were finally managing to get hosed off, the unicorns swore to only use magic in specified areas, and the pegasi swore to stop running around like drunk, blind assholes.
  896. >That is until Snugglebun cut off the water, and started yelling.
  897. >”RECRUITS, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? ARE YOU TRYING TO GET SISTER PRAISE TO COME DOWN UPON YOU LIKE CELESTIA’S OWN WRATH?”
  898. >A few ponies looked down and started scuffing their hooves against the tile, but most stood impassive.
  899. >She wasn’t there, man, she wasn’t there.
  900. >”You know what, I’ll look the other way this time, new set of hooves and slippery soap often times go together like oil n’ water. Let’s just get you ladies off to the cafeteria, so we can get some food in you before anything else happens.”
  901. >A murmured chorus of “Yes, ma’am” rose up amongst the ponies as they assembled behind Snugglebun.
  902. >Another line, another march, and another round of ogling by the sisters.
  903. >I tried to take note of their identities, but aside from differing coat, mane, and eye colors, they all seemed just about the same to me.
  904. >Which, when it might be possible that they might all be mentally cut from the same cloth, only made things more terrifying.
  905. >I tried to distract myself from that revelation by trying to note any other defences I might have to subvert to make my escape.
  906. >I had remembered spotting guards in the cafeteria, their gold armor making them stand out like sore thumbs.
  907. >It only took a short search but I eventually spotted a few.
  908. >There were a few standing in a few random locations, either positioned to block exits, or get a good view of a hallway.
  909. >The most troubling part about this was that their gold armor might as well have been camouflage, given that it blended in with all the golden Celestia iconography.
  910. >I also had no idea what their capabilities were, but if Sister Praise was any indication, if I ran afoul of one of these guys during my escape, I was in for a bad time.
  911. >Honestly, my only hope would be to either never get spotted, or hope that I had strength of numbers on my side.
  912. >Which would necessitate trying to get my fellow former humans on my side, but given Napoleon’s response of “fuck it” that might just be one hell of an uphill battle.
  913. >As we approached the cafeteria, I guessed I could use the question of Snugglebun’s humanity as a double edged sword.
  914. >If she wasn’t human, then the deception that we were just being trained to function in this bizarre and alien society would be shattered, and I could easily start rallying my fellow humans to escape before they were too brainwashed.
  915. >And if she was…
  916. >Well, I don’t know, it would give a slight bit of credibility to the idea that we weren’t just fresh meat, getting propaganda jammed into our heads while they rend our humanity asunder.
  917. >It would be a hit against trying to rally everyone to escape, but, well, if this wasn’t some kinda death camp for rounding up humans and turning them into card carrying members of Celestia’s faith, then there wasn’t exactly a reason to escape.
  918. >I mean, unless I uncovered another, less obvious plot, I’d probably have to somehow find the nutters willing to escape, while avoiding anyone who’d want to turn in the “dangerous subversive” for a handful of good boy points.
  919. >I managed to shake myself out of my musing just as I reached the counter, and scooped a tray from a stack at the start of the lunch line.
  920. >I looked over at who was serving, and spotted the same grey stallion from before, which was kind of odd, given he was the only stallion I had seen in this place, aside from the guards.
  921. >Which either meant that someone had fucked up their transformation spell, or he was always a pony, or that “he” was just an incredibly butch mare.
  922. >But then again, Snugglebun did mention that Frost had “The hots” for a grey stallion, but I would also believe that she’s the kind of person who would make that mistake.
  923. >”He” didn’t seem much like the talking type as he shoveled some vegetarian glop onto my tray, but that could be because he was holding a ladle in his mouth, which I could easily assume would make talking difficult.
  924. >And what would it even mean if the chef was a pony?
  925. >I mean, it would probably be easier to drug the food if he believed he was doing it to sub-equines, as opposed to a human, who might have complaints.
  926. >As I headed back to the table, the “sub-race” idea fed back into concerns about the guards.
  927. >If there was one thing that repeatedly played out back on Earth, it was when you gave one people an advantage over another, that was when you got things like the Stanford Prison Experiment, or the Holocaust.
  928. >Hell, the former didn’t even last a week, and things had already started to go to shit.
  929. >And if Sister Praise was any indication of the level of cognitive dissonance and sweeping generalization based on species, I’d likely wind up looking like I took the express route down a flight of stairs if I went toe to toe with one of those guards
  930. >I tried to quell the shiver I felt racing down my spine as I sat down at the usual table.
  931. >I hunched down, started to eat the oddly tasty glop, and took stock of the two other groups in the room.
  932. >I remembered seeing them before, but I didn’t do much else but give them a cursory glance.
  933. >Now that I wasn’t just how to figure out how to do something so simple as eat, I had some spare time to actually examine my surroundings.
  934. >The first group was probably sisters, given that they were silently ogling the other ponies, and were mostly hugging each other instead of eating.
  935. >The second was a bit harder to tell.
  936. >I could have easily assumed them to be full blooded ponies, given that they were using their wings, magic, and hooves in a natural, fluid way that I doubt a human could.
  937. >But that would assume that this place would need that many ponies staffing it.
  938. >I had a hunch, and looked over at Snugglebun and tried to take note of how well she could handle herself.
  939. >She had her head down, face first into her food, and was wildly chomping away.
  940. >Ok, well, that wasn’t outside of what I had expected of her.
  941. >Not like they issued utensils here anyways, whether out of them not being useful, or giving possibly dangerous weapons to potential criminals.
  942. >I looked back at the other group, they didn’t have utensils either, but the unicorns were at least using their magic to make things slightly more civilized.
  943. >I mean, they were still shoveling unappealing mush into their mouths, but at least it was better than sticking your face into it.
  944. >So, if a place of this size didn’t need that many staff, and I doubted the meager amount of pilgrims that visited this place could form a group of that size, assuming that they would ever willingly eat here...
  945. >Would that mean that we weren’t the only group of converts here?
  946. >I mean, I knew I wasn’t the first person to get forcefully ponified, and then herded into some kind re-education, but this was kind of the final nail in that particular coffin.
  947. >Especially given that there was a “Anon” that happened to be the forerunner for all this, and that they had enough time to polish their ponification methods.
  948. >The gears started turning in my head as one solved question only led to many more.
  949. >I knew that drinking bleach seemed to be the trigger, but what other kinds of suicide could lead you to this place?
  950. >Did you have to die to wind up here?
  951. >How long has this been going on for?
  952. >Was drinking bleach a one way ticket to this place, or was there some other requirement to wind up in equestria?
  953. >I almost admitted defeat, when I realized I had quite a few people I could ask about this.
  954. >Or, rather, ponies.
  955. >I gave Snugglebun another glance, and noted that she was already done with her food, and was telling some randy joke about how a wizard's staff had a knob at the end, or something.
  956. >I remembered the first question I had drafted up to ask to Snugglebun, and gave Operation: Small Talk a go.
  957. “Hey, uh, Snugglebun, you ever watch any good TV shows, you know, back on earth?”
  958. >It was a bit of a gamble, given that I didn’t watch all that much television, but I was hoping at least one person had watched some TV before offing themselves and could suss out if Snugglebun was lying or not.
  959. >”Yeah, uh, it’s been awhile… I mean, I think some of the last stuff I managed to catch was the finale of season two of horse show”
  960. “Season two of what?”
  961. >”Y’know, My Little Pony?”
  962. >Well, I think that was kind of expected, but isn’t it going onto it’s sixth or seventh season?
  963. “Last stuff you managed to catch? What, before your cable got disconnected or something?”
  964. >”Last stuff I managed to catch before I died.”
  965. >Oh, right.
  966. >The whole suicide thing.
  967. >The table went silent as everyone either remembered the price they had to pay to get here, or realized that Snugglebun wasn’t exactly new to this whole “being a horse” thing.
  968. “But wait, wasn’t season two like, years ago?”
  969. >”Yeah, probably.”
  970. “Just how long have you been here?”
  971. >”Four, maybe five years?”
  972. >Saying that it was a bit of a shock that Snugglebun had been stuck here for years would have been an understatement.
  973. >I mean, I was expecting to be out of this place in maybe a couple of months, but a year, not to mention a couple of years?
  974. >”If it’s been that long, why are you still here?”
  975. >I looked over at the pony that had spoken up, it seemed like I wasn’t the only one who was curious.
  976. >”Well, I mean, it’s either teach you newfags how to fly, and maybe do some nifty inquisition work on the side, or get stuck with some boring shit, like delivering letters or kicking clouds.”
  977. >As Snugglebun made a disgusted face at the thought of doing menial labor, I tried to factor how likely it was that Snugglebun was human.
  978. >I mean, the dumb name sounded like something someone would pull out of their ass to try to fit into pony society, and the crude language was either was either due to trying to fit in with the “crude” humans, or, well, being made from a crude human.
  979. >Either Snugglebun was a tactical genius, or just a regular ol’ idiot.
  980. >Christ, trying to figure out what was popular was hard enough, but trying to figure out what was popular back in 2012?
  981. >Hell, I don’t even think I was drinking age back then.
  982. >And if Snugglebun was a former human, then that meant that the inquisition had been around for just as long, if not longer.
  983. >I looked over as I caught Snugglebun standing up out of the corner of my eye.
  984. >”Welp, that’s about enough show and tell for today, I think. How ‘bout we all get off to Sister Praise’s before she kicks my reaming up to 11.”
  985. >Everyone gathered at the table gave a sigh of despair as we realize we were about to be sent back into the breach.
  986. >Well, class was probably going to suck if yesterday was any indication, but still, there was a faint glimmer of hope to be had.
  987. >I just had to hope that Sister Praise wasn’t the kind of “teacher” who saw inquisitive minds as the kind that looked for flaws in an ideology.
  988. >I was sweating bullets as the line formed behind Snugglebun and started heading into the hallway.
  989. >I could already feel my mental corkboard being filled with pictures and twine, desperately trying to map the conspiracy I was sure I had only scratched the surface of.
  990. >Time seemed to be flying by as we traveled the short distance from the cafeteria to the classroom.
  991. >Seeing that doorway only filled me with a strange mixture of anticipation and dread.
  992. >Would I be too greedy if I asked Sister Praise about the inquisition?
  993. >Hell, would she even accept questions instead of just giving me a smack around the ears with her ruler?
  994. >I could already see the disturbingly pink Sister mindlessly wandering in my mind, a grim reminder of the price of failure.
  995. >As I walked into the classroom, I couldn’t stop, any hesitation might be seen as sedition.
  996. >I headed over to my seat and sat down, noting that Sister Praise was already in position at the front of the class.
  997. >I couldn’t look her in the eyes, and my nerves were almost making me vibrate in my seat.
  998. >In the back of my mind, I vainly wished that I could just vibrate out of this reality, back to my shitty apartment, back to my shitty computer where I could shitpost to my heart’s content and just imagine that this shit never happened.
  999. >”Good evening class.”
  1000. >A couple dozen tongues gave a robotic, monotonous reply that had only took the barest fraction of yesterday’s lesson to drill into us.
  1001. >”Today we will be learning about a very important topic.”
  1002. >Sister praise walked up to the chalkboard, and tugged down on what was either a projector screen, or a blind, and revealed what was written behind it.
  1003. >I looked up at the chalk letters, expecting another round of rote memorization of propaganda, but what I saw there made my breath hitch in my throat.
  1004. >Twenty-one letters, two words, and something I knew that nobody expected.
  1005. >I looked at the board, rubbed my eyes, and looked again.
  1006. >There was no way that was what was actually written down on the board.
  1007. >But as I blinked the smudges out of my eyes, those two words were still there.
  1008. >EQUESTRIAN INQUISITION
  1009. >”Today, you will be learning primarily about the history of our order, the ordo sol.”
  1010. >So, I guess they were going to actually teach us about their mysterious shadowy order.
  1011. >Or, rather it would be shadowy and mysterious, if their first action wasn’t to yell that nobody expected them.
  1012. >I was tempted to raise my hoof, and try to ask questions immediately, but I decided against it.
  1013. >I had the feeling that this was one of those guided tours, and any attempt to take it off track would be severely reprimanded.
  1014. >I instead opted to just sit down, and try to take in the probably heavily sanitized history of this so called “inquisition”.
  1015. >The lecture began with something a bit more expected, which was basically a bulleted list of the history of the inquisition.
  1016. >Turns out it started a bit after Luna and Celestia had their disagreement that was the Nightmare Moon incident, Celestia had a bit of a crisis of faith.
  1017. >When you sister decides to turn against you, who’s to say that the average pony’s gonna be loyal as well?
  1018. >So, that basically led to her creating an oppressive secret police tasked with trying to make sure that everything was all hunky dorey in ponyland.
  1019. >Which didn’t go so well, when they were dealing with normal folks just trying to go about their business, and lick their wounds after the whole “god civil war” thing.
  1020. >And although Sister Praise said that the inquisition was moved to a more passive role, I’m guessing that meant it was basically shelved.
  1021. >Especially given that the next moment in the history of the inquisition was when it was re-established to deal with the “human threat”.
  1022. >Seems like a bunch of nosy pricks weren’t exactly necessary, especially when problems could just be solved with friendship, a sun god, or in more recent cases, the elements of harmony.
  1023. >And, well, apparently that Anon guy set the tone for human equine relations back when he showed up, apparently right after Luna’s surprise visit.
  1024. >I filed a few questions about Anon into the back of my mind as Sister Praise plowed on, this was about the inquisition, not some random poster who somehow wound up in Equestria and ponified for his trouble.
  1025. >So apparently the Anon guy was the first, and only human in equestria for a while, but then more showed up.
  1026. >While Celestia had avoided the initial crisis by turning man to mare, it was clear that this tide wasn’t stopping anytime soon.
  1027. >Given that her initial solution didn’t quite “cure” Anon’s antisocial tendencies, and with more humans on their way, Celestia decided to indulge in that classic leader past-time of passing the buck.
  1028. >She pulled the Inquisition out of retirement, and set them upon the human problem.
  1029. >Which was probably a mistake.
  1030. >And from the sounds of things, it seems like the Inquisition tried to initially find a more… final solution, before Celestia had to basically smack the whole organization upside the head.
  1031. >I felt a shiver run down my spine as Sister Praise actually sounded reluctant that she wasn’t allowed to torture random people until they were “good”.
  1032. >Which added another layer of shittiness as the next step was to try and turn people into ponies, and given the sisters wandering about, I already knew how this one went.
  1033. >So again, Celestia had to drop the hammer, and make sure that the Inquisition was actually doing its damn job.
  1034. >Apparently whatever had happened had done the trick, as either the problem was fixed, or Celestia stopped trying to polish a turd.
  1035. >The current iteration of the inquisition was basically a bunch of absolute nutters who kidnapped recent arrivals, ponified them via a spell that Celestia had to pull a lot of strings to get right, and then tried to make them into law abiding citizens.
  1036. >The operation was still pretty small, if the list of locations was any indication, although I doubted the niche of “people who drank bleach” required much more than a couple locations like this one.
  1037. >At least drinking bleach is what I assumed Sister Praise meant by “drinking a foul poison”.
  1038. >That still left the question of whether it was everyone who drank bleach who wound up here.
  1039. >The lesson concluded with a slightly surprising tidbit, there were 3 other branches of the inquisition.
  1040. >Given that the branch that currently had me in it’s grips was under the domain of the sun, it was safe to assume that the other 3 were headed by princesses.
  1041. >Which would make for a moon, love, and… magic? Friendship?
  1042. >Whatever Twilight was princess off, she was at the head of another group of paranoid psychos who were a slip of the leash away from simply driving bamboo splinters under someone’s fingernails until they were deemed faithful enough.
  1043. >and given that Sister Praise seemed to think that the less said about them, the better, something was seriously fishy.
  1044. >Were they like the military or special forces branches?
  1045. >If so, then I wasn’t just running from a bunch of militant nuns, I was running from a bunch of militant nuns, and 3 other groups of unknowns.
  1046. >For all I knew, getting my personality scooped out of my skull was merciful compared to what they could do.
  1047. >I walked out of the classroom, my mind heavy with the continued evidence that I was stuck here on what was essentially a mountainous guantanamo bay, with an ocean of troubles trapping me.
  1048. >As I dragged my way out of the classroom, I felt someone nudge me in the side.
  1049. >I looked over at the smiling face of Snugglebun, and considered for a moment to tell her to fuck off so I could go mope, but then I thought better of it.
  1050. >Clearly there was one hell of a lot more to know about the inquisition, so why not get some of the inside scoop from someone I could easily assume was already human?
  1051. >Again, there was the issue of either being a idiot human, or a genius pony, but if I was dealing with a genius, I was fucked from the word go.
  1052. >And wouldn’t any normal person be curious about this stuff immediately after being told it?
  1053. >Especially the odd bit of avoidance, or silence, or whatever about the other branches of the inquisition.
  1054. >”Hey, looks like someone’s feeling down in the dumps, if it’s because you’re thinking there’s gonna be a test later, I wouldn’t worry about it, they usually only save that for when everyone can hold a pen without sending it flying across the room.”
  1055. >I looked over at Snugglebun, and realized I didn’t remember seeing any pens or paper back in the classroom.
  1056. >It would have been nice to be able to take notes, but remembering the soap incident back in the showers, I’d trade not being able to write down possibly damning evidence for not taking a pen to the eye.
  1057. “That mean we still gotta eventually take tests?”
  1058. >”Well, uh, yeah, but don’t worry, if I can ace them, you can too.”
  1059. “If only because you’ve had the lesson beaten into your head so many times, you can recite it verbatim.”
  1060. >”Yeah, yeah, doesn’t help that most of the punishments involve cramming factoids in your head.”
  1061. >I thought about that for a moment.
  1062. >That had to be a lie, right?
  1063. >Either that or Snugglebun was already in the camp of being “acceptably pony”, and therefore wouldn’t have experienced the more brutal punishments the inquisition could offer.
  1064. >Which meant she was in one of two camps.
  1065. >A mole who kept up with the little rules so she could break the big ones, or an out and out convert.
  1066. >Looks like I wasn’t out of the woods with dealing with Snugglebun being a potential rat yet.
  1067. “So, you mind if I ask you a few questions? There were a few things Sister Praise mentioned that she didn’t go into too much detail about.”
  1068. >”Yeah, I think I can do that.”
  1069. >I looked around the hallway at the guards, and the sisters, and realized this was really not the place to have this conversation.
  1070. “You mind if we go somewhere else though? I think we’re holding up traffic just talking in the hallway like this.”
  1071. >”Oh, uh yeah, probably a good idea. You got anywhere in mind?”
  1072. >I thought about Snugglebun’s question, I had only been here for less than two days, and those two days had basically been class, shower, more class, and eating.
  1073. >That, and hanging out in the garden, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to vet Frost’s humanity yet, so that might not make the best place to talk about potentially controversial topics.
  1074. >But among the options I had, it was arguably the best, and I could use it as an opportunity to make sure that Frost was human as well.
  1075. “Uh, yeah, actually, you wanna head out to the garden, and hang out with Frost again?”
  1076. >”Yeah, I wouldn’t mind hanging with Frost. I wouldn’t mind giving her a few good licks for the thrashing I got yesterday.”
  1077. >Oh, right, I sort of accidentally caused some hostilities between Frost and Snugglebun, but at least Snugglebun wasn’t blaming me for it.
  1078. >Here’s to hoping that wasn’t going to bite me in the ass later.
  1079. >I let Snugglebun lead me out to the garden while I considered my plan of action.
  1080. >I would have to confirm Frost’s human status, hopefully the TV test would work again, although Snugglebun might have drilled her on what a television show is.
  1081. >I could possibly drill the both of them on video games, or some other bit of media or culture that you could only get at back on earth.
  1082. >It seemed relatively safe to chat about, I’m pretty sure if they were lobotomizing anyone for talking about stuff from old earth, there’d be one hell of a lot more sisters wandering the halls.
  1083. >Unless there was a separate location where they kept them all, and I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg here.
  1084. >I mean, there was already the thing with the three other branches, so who knew how deep this rabbit hole led?
  1085. >As we passed out of the chapel, and into the sunshine, we started heading towards the garden, which seemed to have gone through quite a few changes, if the random holes dug everywhere, and the vines and other growth spurting up were any indication.
  1086. >Looks like the earth ponies had been busy.
  1087. >Which I guess made sense, given that if they were training the unicorns and pegasi, the earth ponies wouldn’t be excluded.
  1088. >Which meant I couldn’t count on earth ponies being unscathed by any mentally pony-ifying effects caused by signing away your humanity in exchange for inhuman power.
  1089. >Even if that power was… what, geomancy? Fluromancy?
  1090. >Whatever earth ponies did, it probably wasn’t worth giving up your humanity for.
  1091. >As both Snugglebun and I headed through the garden towards where Frost probably was, I tried to gage what powers earth ponies had.
  1092. >If I could figure out what the newbies where doing, I could get a rough estimate of what an actual earth pony would be throwing my way, if I ever ran into one.
  1093. >A very rough estimate, given that the unicorn trainees could barely figure out how to levitate something, and a natural born fully trained unicorn could pull shit like teleportation.
  1094. >But at least it was better than being completely in the dark.
  1095. >I noticed a mix of holes in the ground, various green growing things that I couldn’t identify, but that could easily be chalked up to inexperience with plants, and a couple crude topiaries.
  1096. >”Yeah, I know it looks like shit, but I wouldn’t expect a pegasi to do a loop de loop barrel-roll on their first go either. I say in a week or two, you’d be impressed with what the mud horses can do.”
  1097. “Oh, yeah, right.”
  1098. >I looked over at Snugglebun and gave her a sheepish grin, as she gave my withers a nudge.
  1099. >I should probably learn to hide my snooping better, this time wasn’t so bad, but I could expect not to be let off the hook so easily if anyone else caught me.
  1100. >”And I’m sure your magic ain’t so hot either, but I’m sure by the time you’re outta here, you’ll be able to do all sortsa crazy shit.”
  1101. >I gave a curt nod, and tried to calm my rattled nerves as I checked out the plants and earthworking.
  1102. >I’d guess the holes could be chalked up to some kind of hoof-compliant trowel or shovel or something, but the topiary would require a scissors or something, and I doubt you could manipulate one of those without a thumb.
  1103. >Well, unless you had a spring keeping it open, or some way you could close it with both hooves, or had some kinda setup where you could raise and lower your shoulder, like what they had with certain prosthetics.
  1104. >Or you could just use the good old Equestrian Occam’s razor, and just say that magic did it, and you didn’t have to explain shit.
  1105. >Which given the way that Snugglebun was talking about it, and where we were, that was probably the case.
  1106. >I continued to look around at the garden, until I noticed a familiar pony standing in a circle of grass.
  1107. >She seemed to be trying to perform triage on the garden, which probably needed it given they had unleashed a lot of unskilled labor with magic powers.
  1108. >That was starting to seem like the theme of today, unskilled magic ruining things.
  1109. >As we approached the grass ring around Frost, one of her ears twitched, and she whirled around.
  1110. >”Are you really trying to sneak up on me for the second time in a row?”
  1111. >”Yeah, nah, I’d have to wait, like, a week for you to stop suspecting it. And newbie here’s the one who suggested we give you a visit.”
  1112. >Frost fidgeted nervously as she glanced in my direction.
  1113. >”Oh, uh, alright. Dunno why you’d want to though, it’s not like I’m the most interesting of ponies to hang out with…”
  1114. >Most interesting pony?
  1115. >Bit of a red flag there, either for being a pony to begin with, or being so far gone that they might as well have been.
  1116. “Well, between basically coming back from the dead, having a literal torch and pitchfork mob chase after me, and getting caught by the inquisition, I’d think I’ve seen enough excitement for a couple lifetimes.”
  1117. >”Oh, uh, sorry.”
  1118. “Sorry? What for?”
  1119. >”Yeah, for the whole, you know, having to ponify you thing.”
  1120. >I blinked at Frost, this had to be a trick, or some kind of act, right?
  1121. >Either these were indeed humans, or I was getting O'Brien’d hard.
  1122. “Uh, yeah, I mean, it was just work, right? And I guess it’s better than getting lynched by a bunch of angry ponies, right?”
  1123. >I gave the awkwardly fidgeting Frost an uncomfortable grin, and rubbed the back of my neck with a hoof, then decided I could at least try to test her humanity.
  1124. “So, uh, you play any good vidjey back on earth?”
  1125. >”I, uh, Team Fortress 2?”
  1126. >I nodded, it seemed like a safe enough answer, although it might just be a generic one, but then again, I wasn’t here to talk about games.
  1127. “Alright, nice, oh, before I forget, and we just sit out here all day shitposting about video games, there was that thing, about the three other branches?”
  1128. >”Oh, yeah, that’s right. The reason that Sister Praise doesn’t like talking about them all that much is, well, they’re all kinda fuck-ups.”
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