I stepped down from the chariot and grabbed my pack before extending my hand to the hyperventilating Unicorn.
“Pleasure to meet you Miss Sparkle, my name’s Michael”
She squeaked a bit as I addressed her, but the minute she opened her mouth I realized how wrong
I’d been, thinking she was afraid.
“The pleasure is all mine Michael, I’d love to hear all about you, or your home, your species, anything really!”
This was followed by a nervous giggle, and I realized it was true wonder, not fear that was coloring her reaction. Celestia had told me briefly on the ride over how intelligent her student was, constantly searching for answers, sounded a lot like me when I was young.
“I’d be honored to explain anything you’d like to know ma’am” I said with a covert look in Celestia’s direction, shaking my head, not everything.
I offered Twilight a smile, “And where will I be staying?”
“Oh, I had my assistant make up one of our spare rooms for you, come inside and we can get all of your belongings organized”
“Sounds good to me Miss Sparkle”
Celestia cleared her throat “ That seems to be my cue, I’m sorry to leave so soon Michael but I’m sure Twilight will take good care of you for the time being.”
I bowed, “Again Princess, I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done.”
She turned to Twilight “ Good evening Twilight Sparkle, I expect updates on Michael’s acclimation”
Twilight nodded “Of course Princess”
Celestia climbed into the chariot and was gone into the night sky. Twilight motioned for me to follow her as we made our way across the front yard, opening the door I got my first glimpse at my new home. It was even bigger on the inside than it looked outside, what grabbed my attention however were the massive bookcases that adorned the walls.
“This is incredible!, I’ve never seen so many books!”
Twilight looked shocked “You read?”
I rolled my eyes “Of course I read Miss Sparkle, the Princess tells me you’re quite the student.”
Twilight blushed slightly “ I just enjoy a good textbook as much as the next pony”
“ No need to be modest Miss Sparkle, you’ve obviously worked very hard for your intellect” I waved my hand at the rows upon rows of textbooks. “ I’d certainly be proud if I were
you” I snatched up a book titled A History Of Equestria, “Might I borrow this for the evening Miss?”
“Of course, and just Twilight please”
“Twilight it is, call me Mike”
“Alright…Mike” she sounded like she was testing it out, “Let me show you where you’ll be staying”.
I followed Twilight up the winding staircase, the room was a bit on the small side but more than adequate for what I needed. Twilight said something about having an early morning engagement and said her goodnights. I unpacked my gear and squared everything away, with that done I sat on the edge of the bed and spared a look out the window. The sleepy little town reminded me of home so much it hurt, I hoped my presence wouldn’t cause too much of an uproar…I had not yet met Pinkie Pie.
3 months later
Big Mac and I shoved with all our might and the cart finally tipped over onto it’s wheels.
“Whew, pain in the ass. I was starting to think we’d be messing with this thing all damn day”
I was about to try for the millionth time to pry a bit more out of the ever aloof work-pony, when Applejack’s voice rang out across the field. “LUNCHTIME”
It had been an easy three months, Pinkie had, the second she found me out thrown a huge party. At first I thought I was going to scare everypony off but they were very welcoming, if not a bit leery. In fact the only incident that was remotely strange was when Twilight introduced me to the crowd.
“Settle down everypony, I know he may look strange. But he means nopony harm. If you have any questions for him now‘s the time to ask”
The room exploded into chaos, everypony clamoring for answers, I raised my hands in an effort to calm the storm. “Please guys one at a tim- aw hell. HEY!”
It suddenly got quiet, the ponies were looking at me, wide eyed with what I can only describe as the “kicked dog” look
“Please for the love of..Celestia?, if you have a question please raise your hand, er hoof”
A mint green pony near the back of the room was waving frantically. A huge grin on her face.
“Yes ma’am, your name?
“Lyra, Lyra Heartstrings
“And your question?”
“What are you exactly?”
“I’m a human being, Homo sapien, from Earth”
“I BUCKING KNEW IT!!!, SUCK IT BON BON!!”
With the mood lightened significantly the night continued without incident. After the party, and after reaffirming to every small child in the place that no I was not there to gobble them up. I seemed to be accepted into the small community, Ponyville was a beautiful place, Idyllic in a way my home could never be. And I was glad to have paved the way to earning their trust.
For my part. Once you live through a nuclear blast, talking, multicolored ponies aren’t what you‘d call jarring. Twilight and I had a mutual love of knowledge which made my situation a lot more bearable, many a night was spent reading books and firing questions back and forth. I’d grown quite attached to the scholarly unicorn, she could always make me laugh (OCD can be hilarious if used correctly) and we had fun no matter what we ended up doing. Whether debating the now proven Multiverse theory or reshelving ALL THE BOOKS, Spike was thrilled since it damn near halved his workload.
I’d been working at Sweet Apple Acres for the last few weeks, I’d felt terrible about taking advantage of Twilight’s hospitality and having no way to pay her back. I wasn’t exactly swimming in bits but I was earning my keep, and that was good enough for government work at present.
Making my way back to the house I came across Applebloom just back from school. I envied these kids, they only had to put up with 4 hours of instruction a day. Something I would have gladly killed for back during my high school days.
“Hi Mike!” the little filly ran up and hugged my knees, she had grown quite attached to the resident “alien”. For my part, I loved that little bow clad badass like my own sister.
“Hey sweetheart, how was school?”
“Borin‘!” she exclaimed “But Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo are comin’ over later on, Ah’d say the day ain’t a total loss”
I chuckled a bit, she sounded pretty grown up for such a young kid yet, I put on my best southern accent “Ah’d hafta agree little lady”
She giggled and my heart nearly exploded, cuteness this one had in spades. She took a look around, seeing nopony in the immediate vicinity, she turned those huge orange eyes on me and whispered “Mike? Can, can Ah’ have a piggyback ride?”
“You better believe it darlin’” I said crouching down, “Hop on”
I carried the squealing, giggling filly into the house. The smell of fresh apple pie assaulting my nose the whole way. AJ had a stack of dishes and was placing them on the table, “Here AJ, let me give you a hand”
She rolled her eyes at my pun “ Thanks but no thanks sugarcube, Ah’ve got it covered”
“Psh, a guy tries to help out” Snatching the oven mitt AJ whipped at me out of the air, I took my seat at the table.
A few hours later I said my goodbyes and headed back to Twilight’s tree house. Applebloom had begged me to stay and help her and her friends with something she called Cutie Mark Crusaders Everfree Monster Wranglers, I was up for it before AJ found out….Applebloom was grounded and I was sent home.
The night was still and cool, a few birds still chirping, the sun disappearing below the horizon. The whole town was bathed in the orange light of dusk, I couldn’t help but feel at peace here, but my world and my family were always at the back of my mind. I stared at the sunset and wondered if they were seeing the same. I quickly put them out of my mind as I made my way into the library, that line of thought led nowhere good. Neither Twilight nor Spike seemed to be home as I made my way into the kitchen. I grabbed some toast before heading upstairs, eager for a good night’s rest…..
I catch the kid just before he hits the ground, jesus… He can’t be more than 9 or 10. The IED was a big one…at least a couple 155 shells. Ryan’s shouting orders but I can barely hear him, I’m focusing hard on trying to find a pulse. Got it, weak and thready but it’s there.
Dump the pack.
Let the world fade out and size him up.
Multiple lacerations, nicked facial artery, broken ribs.
Pressure dressing over the facial wound.
Stabilize him quick or he‘s gone.
Can’t get the bleeding to stop.
“More casualties” I hear the LT shout a million miles away. “Get the area secured, make sure there aren’t any secondary’s”
I’m losing him…No, fuck that.
“C’mon buddy, stay with me.”
Dig out a Hemostat.
Tough little fucker.
Clamp the artery.
Artery tears, bleeding intensifies. Fuck!
Face is pale, he’s going into shock.
Prop his feet on my jump kit.
He’s bleeding out, going into respiratory arrest.
Broken ribs, CPR will kill him.
I’m going to lose him.
He looks at me.
Hold his hand.
Look at him.
A sharp intake of air, a violent shudder….
Tears hit the sand...
Two of them, charging up the slope.
416’ up, triple tap.
He goes down screaming.
Spin and track the second asshole
He opens up.
I’m hit. Fuck it burns.
Just a graze, disregard.
Double tap the fucker, move in on him.
He’s trying to breathe.
Through his punctured lungs
That’s cute, I remember my first beer.
Double tap them both in the head.
I’m slammed into the hard pack.
I’m hit, high.
Fuck, neck wound.
Right side, artery’s open.
I hear Bobby.
He’s calling for dustoff.
Clamping my artery.
I’m fading out hard.
Everything goes black…
I woke up screaming bloody murder…This isn’t Afghanistan, whoo, deep breath. You’re safe.
It was still dark outside, I knew I’d woken up the whole town with my yelling, or at the very least everypony in the house. Shit. I sat up and looked around…In the low light I could see Twilight in the corner, She was shaking, tears filling her eyes
“Twi?, are you ok?. I didn’t hurt you did I?”
She drew a ragged breath and shook her head, “I’ve never heard anypony scream like that. So I came up and you were crying, and screaming… I didn’t know what to do…” she broke off, I saw the shattered, scared look in her eyes and I knew what I needed to do, in a flash I’d hopped off the bed and scooped her up in my arms. She stiffened at the sudden contact, then broke down sobbing.
“Shhh, it’s ok, I just had a nightmare is all. Nothing to worry about, I’m ok”
I held on tight, she held on tighter, crying into my shoulder. Fuck I’d really scared her. I stroked her mane trying to get her to calm down, after awhile she did just that, looking at me with those large violet eyes, tear streaked face, she looked…Beautiful.
“Can you let me go?, this is hurting my back”
I realized I was still clinging to her, holding her up on her back legs, that had to be uncomfortable.
“No it’s ok, um Mike?”
“I could stay if you like, just in case you have another bad dream”
I was about to say no, I’d had no female contact since Jess, when I realized who I was talking to. Twilight didn’t have any ulterior motives, she just wanted to comfort a friend.
“I’d like that, I’ve got a few hours yet till I have to be at the farm. May as well take a nap, hop up” I patted the edge of the bed, Twilight crawled up and settled herself on the side closest to the wall. I lay there, a million thoughts racing through my head. Had I given myself away?, would she view me as some kind of nutcase?
My thoughts were disrupted by her snoring softly, poor thing had exhausted herself, adrenaline does that especially at 0400. I was almost out when I felt Twilight scoot closer and wrap her front leg around my waist, nuzzling into my shoulder, I was surprised to discover I was not uncomfortable with it in the least. It was exactly the closeness and comfort I needed. I felt myself drifting again and it wasn’t long before I was out like a light.