Chapter 5: Take your hooves off of me!
Robert had no time to be bored during the days following his “Welcome party”. Twilight had convinced the Mayor that Robert wasn’t dangerous, but they had decided it would be better if they kept him hidden until he regained his speech. He spent most of the day improving his writing and answering Twilight’s questions. At first, she had asked him about human physiology, history and culture. She had also “asked” him to perform some physical and psychological tests, to compare him with ponies. They found that he was, considering the physiognomical differences, stronger than ponies, but he had less stamina and was a far worse runner.
However, since she learned that he was an engineer, she focused mostly on his scientific knowledge. Thanks to magic, ponies had surpassed human science in many fields, such as teleportation, weather control and time travel. Moreover, Robert knowledge of mathematics, physics, electromagnetism and its applications was far wider. Twilight tried to explain him how magic worked, but he soon gave up. She told him that it was almost impossible to understand magic without being able to use it, so he shouldn’t feel bad for it. At times, Robert thought that maybe he was dying besides the diamond dog and that everything was some kind of delirious dream due to blood loss, but most of the time he just played along with all the seemingly impossible things that happened around him. Everyday he learned more things about ponies, mainly about their civilization and their anatomical differences with Earth ponies.
As being confined to the library all day was exasperating for Robert, a few nights they led him to another place to sleep there, spend the day and return to the library the next night. The first time he went to Fluttershy’s, but after Angel almost managed to get himself killed by annoying Robert until he reached his limit, they decided he should try another place. So, next time he went to Applejack’s, where he met the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Big Macintosh, who finally proved Robert that male ponies did exist. The three fillies tried to earn various alien-related cutie marks, with no success. Their methods often involved doing embarrassing things to Robert, but he endured them all. ‘I almost messed everything up with the damn rabbit. I must behave today’ he repeated to himself. After that day he refused to leave the library unless it was really imperative.
What he enjoyed the most was spending time with Lyra. She would go everyday to the library for a few hours to watch over him so Twilight could leave the library without worrying. The first day after the party she had brought her lyre with her to play a few songs for him. She was amazed when he showed her how he played the instrument (with little success) with his fingers. “I wish I had hands, playing the lyre with my magic is very weary” she had admitted. He learned that non-unicorn ponies used both their mouths and their hooves to manipulate things. When he asked her why they didn’t design things to be used without hands she replied that she didn’t know, but she suspected that most of the things was meant to be used by gryphons, small dragons, minotaurs and other species with hands, claws or paws. She wasn’t interested in his technical knowledge, which was both a disappoint and a relief for Robert. On the one hand, he liked to teach people, or ponies, about everything he knew about science. On the other hand, he could only focus on those subjects for so long until he reached his fill, which Twilight covered by herself.
He was also very fond of Spike, he was like the nephew the human never had and the only one around with opposable thumbs. Sometimes Robert thought that Twilight was too severe with the young dragon, but he had refrained himself of telling her so. Her obsessive attitude towards learning everything she could, both about what he taught and himself, made him feel a bit uncomfortable. The only other pony he frequently saw was Pinkie Pie, who would suddenly appear without notice to make him doubt everything he knew about physics and rational thought... and maybe to read what he wrote with English letters until he managed to write Equestrian fast enough. He also suspected that the pink pony was the smartest of them all, as she had understood how to solve problems applying integrals when he explained it to Twilight, even when she had never studied maths beyond basic equation solving.
The only things that bothered him were that he still couldn’t talk and that every night he dreamed with the same voice. He had given up any hope of John being alive after facing the dragon, so the thought of returning to their cave didn’t cross his mind.
Twilight, on the other side, was simply delighted. She had found a source of knowledge that no book in Equestria held, even if Robert was a mediocre teacher. Her report for Princess Celestia was already so long that Spike couldn’t lift the parchment by himself. Robert’s anatomy wasn’t really impressive, as many inhabitants of Equestria shared common traits with him, so she hadn’t written too much about it. He had drawn a world map of Earth, which had a similar proportion of earth and water, but it had many continents whereas Equestria was a single supercontinent surrounded by an ocean. When he told her a short version of human history she found a bit scary how prone to violence and war humans were, rivaling with the fiercest especies of Equestria. He had also explained her how they lived when he left, the development of internet and telecommunications, fast travel, globalization and much more. ‘They are so different, yet so similar to us’ she often thought. One last thing she had learned about humans was that they reeked. She blamed it on her herbivorous instincts, the smell of a carnivore stood out for her and she couldn’t get used to it, which also explained why she found Spike ‘smelly’ sometimes. Additionally, his clothes carried his human scent and he didn’t wash them as usual as it would be ideal because he had no spare clothes. That was solved by Rarity, who gave him a few clothes she had designed as a gift. Both Twilight’s nose and Robert were very appreciative of the unicorn’s generosity. Another reason for being grateful was that Rarity owned a washing machine, a very rare artifact in a society where clothes weren’t usual, so she always cleaned Robert’s clothes.
The morning of the tenth day after Lyra found Robert in the Everfree, Twilight completed her report. She knew it was too big for Spike to combust, and even if he could it was dangerous to send such a large and heavy parchment without knowing where it would land. Due to that, she decided to send it by mail and write to Celestia a letter to notify her both about Robert’s existence and the incoming report.
Twilight wrote the letter in her bedroom while Robert took a bath, as she felt awkward writing it in front of him.
“Dear Princess Celestia,
Although I still continue to study the magic of friendship, this is not a friendship report. I’m writing to you about a strange visitor that has arrived to Ponyville. His name is Robert and claims to be a ‘human’ from ‘planet Earth’. He was found barely alive in the Everfree forest, with a neck injury that makes him unable to speak as it has yet to heal. I’ve written a complete report about his species, his planet and the knowledge he has shared with me until now. I would like to know how to introduce him to civilization, as he is currently living in the library to avoid causing unnecessary panic among ponies, what should I do?
Your faithful student,
Spike burnt it and they left the room. Before they could go downstairs Spike burped a letter.
“An answer already? That’s weird” thought Twilight aloud.
She unfolded the letter with her magic and read its contents.
Humans are VERY dangerous. Don’t trust him, don’t let him leave, don’t let him make contact with other ponies and do NOT let it use any kind of artifact that looks unusual. A royal escort will arrive in less than six hours to bring him to Canterlot, where I shall deal with him. Try to act as usual around him until then.
Twilight lost control of her magic grip and the letter fell in front of her. Spike read it and gasped. Not only the message was worrying, but also the shaky hornwriting, which usually meant that the unicorn, or alicorn in this case, who wrote the letter was unable to properly concentrate. They both stood frozen for a whole minute, until Spike managed to utter a few words.
“What... are we going to do?” he whispered.
“I... I think we should follow Princess Celestia’s command” replied Twilight in the same tone.
“But... Nothing of this makes sense” he said, “how can be Princess Celestia afraid of him? He’s as nice as anypony... Almost”.
“I don’t know, Spike. But Princess Celestia is always right, and she said we must not trust him. He may have been acting the entire time so he could recover from his wounds”.
A few minutes later Robert left the bathroom. He had finally decided to shave his beard, so he had asked Twilight to give him a razor blade. He wanted a haircut too, but he knew it would have to be delayed until he could be introduced to pony society, as he didn’t dare to do it himself. He decided to ask Twilight about it during lunch, as he was tired of being trapped in the library. He spent the rest of the morning until then reading a book about Equestria’s fauna. He had at last got the handle of Equestrian writing, and he could read and write it slow but steady. When he noticed Spike going to the kitchen he followed her to help him as he used to, but the dragon turned down his help. Robert didn’t think about it and resumed his reading. Had he been less captivated by the book, he may have noticed the side glances that both Spike and Twilight gave him from time to time, as well as the unusual silence in the library. They had lunch in such silence that Robert began feeling awkward and decided to initiate a conversation.
“When will I be able to leave the library?” he wrote in Equestrian.
“Well... I’m not really sure” said Twilight with a frown, “Your neck should finish healing soon enough”.
“I haven’t left in 5 days. I want to leave the tree for a few hours. Any problem with me going somewhere else tonight? Without annoying bunnies or fillies, please”
“I’ll ask to my friends if any of them can accommodate you for this night”.
He stopped writing and finished his meal. He missed watching the news between his lunch and his nap, but he was content with reading more until he got sleepy. Back on Earth he never napped, but the nightmarish dream forced him to catch up with sleep one way or another to be fully active the entire day. He soon fell asleep on the couch while reading about windigos.
He woke up when he heard his name being called. He opened his eye and saw two ponies, Lyra and an unknown earth pony. The pony was female with a pale cream coat and dark blue and pink mane. ‘So this must be the famous Bon Bon’ he guessed.
“Oh, you’re finally awake. You really are a heavy sleeper” said Lyra, “Robert, this is my best friend Bon Bon. Bon Bon, this is Robert the human”.
“N-nice to m-meet you” said Bon Bon with a hint of fear in her voice.
Robert moved slowly, as he had noticed that aliens making sudden movements scared the ponies, and grabbed his writing utensils.
“Nice to meet you too, Bon Bon” he wrote. “Lyra talks a lot about you and I wanted to meet you”.
“She talks a lot about you, too, so the feeling is mutual” replied the earth pony, a bit less nervous.
“See? Told you he wouldn’t gobble you up” said Lyra with a smile. “Robert, could you show Bon Bon some of your hand magic?”
Robert rolled his eyes and performed some basic shadowgraphs with his hands that Lyra loved. ‘Seriously, this pony has a hand fetish or something’. After that he did a few other tricks that ponies couldn’t, but Bon Bon was not very amused, so he decided to use his best weapon: tickling. He did it to Lyra first so Bon Bon wouldn’t feel scared with the sudden contact. The earth pony hesitated for a few moments, until Lyra convinced her. The earth pony laughed so hard she felt to the floor and began rolling, her legs shaking wildly.
It was then that Twilight came back from visiting her friends to inform her about Princess Celestia’s letter. When she saw Bon Bon she remembered one of the orders from the Princess: Don’t let him make contact with ponies.
“Lyra! What is Bon Bon doing here?” she asked, worried.
Robert stopped his tickling attack when he heard the unicorn’s voice.
“I convinced her to come and meet Robert, is something wrong?” asked Lyra with a frown.
“But, but... Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well, you let those fillies meet him, so I thought there would be no problem”.
Twilight knew Lyra was right, as she didn’t know about Celestia’s order.
"What was he doing, anyways?"
“He was tickling Bon Bon” admitted Lyra with a grin.
“He’s really good at it, you should let him try with you.”
“Eh... No, thanks. Anyways... Could you-”
Twilight stopped talking when a pink blur appeared between her and the other two ponies.
“YOU!” it screamed with Pinkie Pie’s voice.
“YOU!” replied Bon Bon.
They stared at each other with the wrath of a million gods, until Pinkie Pie broke the silence.
“What are you doing here?!”
“It’s none of your business, this is a public library so I can be here if I want to!”
“You fool nopony, you want to take Twilight to the dark side!”
They suddenly began to fight.
“What is all of this about?!” asked Twilight.
“Don’t worry, they are always like this” replied Lyra with a bored tone, “you see, Bon Bon has the second biggest pastry shop in Ponyville after Sugarcube Corner, so they always act like this when they see each other”.
“But... they are fighting! We must stop them before they get hurt.”
“Nah, they won’t harm each other, look”
Pinkie and Bon Bon had drawn pastries from nowhere and were force feeding each other, while trying to speak with their mouths full.
“Bon Bon is only this random when she’s near Pinkie Pie” said Lyra, laughing.
Robert was just staring at them, trying to understand anything. Two minutes later the two ponies stopped their fighting.
“Wow, how did you make that white chocolate so yummy? It was delicious!” exclaimed Pinkie.
“I will tell you if you show me how to make the frosting of those vanilla cupcakes”
“Okey dokey lokey! Come to Sugarcube Corner and I will show you!”
Bon bon nodded and they both left. The two ponies and Robert exchanged glances. Robert wrote “Pinkie Pie” and the ponies nodded, as further explanations weren’t required.
“It seems like Bon Bon won’t come back. When she focuses on candy confection and all those things it’s impossible to stop her” commented Lyra, “I guess I have to go home to make dinner, she usually comes back late and hungry after so much cooking”.
Suddenly, all of them heard a door slam and a masculine voice shouting at the same time.
“Stop right there, you criminal scum!”
Robert immediately adopted a fighting stance. Three armoured male pegasus were charging at him, so he jumped back to avoid the impact. One of them put himself between Robert and the other ponies in a defensive stance, while the others tried to surround him.
“Monster! You are under arrest! Surrender yourself!” shouted one of them.
“What the hay are you doing?!” said Lyra, “you can’t just come to somepony’s house and arrest ponies that haven’t done anything wrong!”
The guards ignored her and continued focusing on Robert. ‘Shitshitshit. I guess resisting won’t do any good in my defense’, he thought.
“Put your claws behind your head and kneel, now!”
“Robert, do what they say, please” asked Twilight.
He slowly did as they said. One of them handcuffed him, ‘they’ve got handcuffs?! How can you put handcuffs to someone with hooves?!’.
They led him out of the library. The street was crowded by curious ponies that wanted to see what was happening, their murmurs stopping when they saw him. He was forced to enter in a strange vehicle, half chariot half cell. While the cell was being locked he saw all the ponies he had met before. They were giving him concerned glances, but they didn’t try to stop the guards. Lyra was the only one who ran to the chariot.
“You can’t do this! He hasn’t done anything wrong!” she cried.
“Move back, miss. We’re carrying royal orders” replied a guard.
“You lie! Princess Celestia would never order to treat somepony like this!”
“I said move back!”
THUD. Robert witnessed how the pegasus hit Lyra with a foreleg, prompting the entire crowd to gasp. ‘To hell with it, no pastel pony will hurt a friend of mine!’ he thought. He took his technoglove and used its electromagnet to attract the keys, that were placed a few meters away. Before anypony could stop him he opened the cell and the handcuffs and left the chariot.
“The monster is free!” cried one pony.
“The horror! The horror!” replied a pink mare just before fainting.
The three guards tried to pin him down, but he was faster. He kicked one of them in the chin, where the pegasus lacked protection. A sharp scalpel protruded from the thumb of the glove, meant to be used for surgery but also deadly when used as a knife. He took a few steps back and waved his deadly weapon to dissuade his opponents. Then he felt a strong force pulling his glove off, and found it surrounded by the purple light of Twilight’s magic. He tried to hold it but he had to let it free when the guards charged again, this time flying. They circled him, trying to confuse him, but their armors made them too noisy and heavy to catch him off guard. One of them tried to hit him in the back, but Robert turned around and grabbed the pegasus head. He took the pony’s helm off with a quick yank and beat him with it. He slowly advanced to Lyra’s position, who was struggling to get up. Before he could reach her, the same purple glow enveloped him and forced him to remain still. The guards took the chance and tangled him with a net. He tried to break free until one of them bucked him in the head, stunning him.
While he was half-unconscious, Twilight was angrily talking with the guards.
“What kind of professionals are you?! This display of violence is unbefitting of Celestia’s royal guards!”
One of them, apparently the leader, faced her while the others stood behind him.
“Princess Celestia ordered us to bring her the monster no matter what. That includes dissuading ponies from interfering” he said with a serious frown.
“Princess Celestia would never order her royal guard to harm ponies! And he’s not a monster, he’s a rational being!” replied Twilight, angered.
“Orders are orders, now move aside so we can put this monster in it’s cage”.
Robert felt a pony pulling him with his hooves and recovered his senses.
“TAKE YOUR STINKING HOOVES OFF OF ME YOU DAMN DIRTY PONY!!!” he screamed, his voice hoarse but intelligible.
The pink pony that had woken up shouted “The horror, the horror!” and fainted again. The guard that was moving him jumped away, scared.
“What the heck? Monsters aren’t supposed to talk!” he nervously said.
The pegasus leader gaped for a few second and then he facehoofed.
“That is because monsters can not talk. Untangle him, private” he ordered.
“But... What about the orders, sir?”
“The orders were to capture a bipedal monster. If he can speak he’s not a monster, but a unknown rational being.” explained the leader, “Princess Celestia won’t be pleased if we bring her something like him trapped like an animal”.
Robert got up and massaged his head where he had been hit.
“Am I free to go, then?” he said between coughs.
“No. You aren’t going to be trapped, but you are under arrest.” replied the guard with a grin.
“What?” Robert, the two other guards and a few ponies exclaimed.
“You are an unknown rational being and you have proven yourself potentially dangerous to ponies. Due to that, our Code dictates that we must arrest you and submit you to the Royal Princesses for them to determine your status in Equestrian society. Do not try to resist”.
Robert considered the pony’s words for a few seconds “Alright, I surrender. As this is an unannounced and nonviolent arrest, I believe I have the right to prepare myself during the next hour, right?”
“Nonviolent? He just-” began the guard he had beaten with his own helmet.
“One hour, don’t try anything funny. This is already going to be a paperwork hell and I don’t want any of you to make it worse”.
Robert turned to Lyra, who hadn’t moved at all since he first talked “Are you alright?” he asked.
“Y-yes... He didn’t hit me that hard” she said, astonished, “but...”
“It’s OK, we will meet again, I promise” said Robert, instantly doubting his own words.
He turned to Twilight and her friends, “So much for the magic of friendship. None of you moved a single hoof... Well, actually, Twilight did, only to disarm me” he said with heavy sarcasm and bitterness in his voice. He had considered the ponies his friends and he felt really hurt because they hadn’t even tried to help him.
“I- I just...” began Twilight, but she stopped when Robert turned his back on her and went to the library. He appeared a few minutes later with an ice pack on his head and entered the cage by himself.
“I appreciate your collaboration in this ordeal” said the leader guard as he closed the cage. The two other guards moved to the front of the carriage to pull it. A few seconds later all of them were flying towards Canterlot.
“How the heck can you two have enough wingpower to lift yourselves, your armors, me and this freaking carriage?!”
everypony heard Robert ask as he was carried away.