I am cancer, and not the funny kind of cancer. I am the kind of cancer that makes your little sister ask you why won't daddy wake up.
Chapter 7: Revelations
“Robert... Can you hear me?” a distant voice whispered on Robert’s ear.
“Where am I?” he asked, as he was surrounded by darkness and he couldn’t see anything, not even his hands.
“You are sleeping, I’ve been trying to speak to you but you weren’t close enough to understand my words.”
The voice, Robert noticed, was masculine and serious, but unknown to him.
“So it was you! You are the reason I haven’t been able to properly sleep!”
“That doesn’t matter. Time is short, you must listen and obey.”
“Why? Why should I trust a voice in my head?”
“Just listen: you must go to the palace’s gardens during the sunset, there I’ll explain.”
“You are implying that I’ll still be alive and free by then.”
“I am optimistic. We are out of time, wake up.”
“How am I-”
He woke up and jumped out of the bed, like he always did when he had heavy nightmares.
‘That was one of the weirdest things ever, and I have seen MANY weird things these days.’ he thought while he calmed down. The sun hadn’t raised yet, so he turned on the lights. ‘Wait, lights as in electricity and lamps?’, he looked up at the source of light, immediately cursing and covering his eyes in pain. He waited until his eyes became accustomed to the light and looked again. The source of light was some sort of ceiling lamp with a white and still flame where the bulb should be. ‘Of course, magic.’ Robert thought, not even trying to understand it.
He found that the leftovers of his dinner had disappeared, along with the clothes he had discarded. There was also a new tray with a glass of something that resembled orange juice and three bananas. He tasted the liquid, which really was orange juice, so he proceeded to have breakfast. He idly wondered when had the ponies done all those things, the thought of ponies going in and out of his room while he slept annoying him.
He was brushing his teeth in the bathroom when he heard the door opening.
“Good morning,” a male voice said, “the sun is rising, you must come with me.”
He quickly finished his business and followed the guard pony, whose horn glowed in front of the door to dispel the barrier that contained Robert. He was led to a fairly big room, the right half covered by white banners with a sun on them, the left half by black ones with crescent moons. A red carpet covered the floor between the entrance and a one meter tall platform where the two princesses were sitting on twin thrones. The six ponies and the dragon were sitting on the sun half, on a row of seats near the platform.
“Come here and sit” said Celestia, as she materialized a chair a few meters in front of her.
“Human, you must know that this is the Trial of the Princesses” said Luna as soon as Robert was seated, “this trial is meant to solve cases where Equestria’s law is unfit. Now, we have a list of questions that need answer, will you answer them with honesty?”
“Yes, I will.”
“What is your name?” asked Celestia.
“My name is Robert Eisenfaust.”
“Where do you come from?” asked Luna.
“I come from planet Earth.”
“How did you come to Equestria?” asked Celestia.
“I came in a spaceship.”
The princesses took turns asking one question each time.
“When did you leave your planet?”
“Between... one and two thousand years ago, as I spent eighteen months travelling at the speed of light and-”
“We know about the dilation of time, you don’t need to elaborate,” said Celestia, “next question: why did you come to Equestria?”
“The ship malfunctioned and landed in the nearest habitable world, I’m here by mistake.”
“What was your original destination?”
“We were supposed to land in a planet and colonize it.”
“Are there more humans with you?”
“No, they all died before we found civilization.”
“Will more ships with humans arrive to our world?”
“I don’t think so.”
“The plan was to colonize a planet and then making contact with Earth. Even if I somehow managed to contact them, it would take thousand of years before one of them arrived here.”
“What do you plan to do?”
“As I can’t leave your world, my only option is to stay here until I die.”
“What is your special talent?”
“Eh... Excuse me?”
“What was your job before you came here.”
“I was an engineer, specialized in space travel.”
“I don’t have more questions” said Celestia.
“Neither do I” said Luna after a few seconds.
“These six ponies and dragon claim to have met you, is that true?”
Celestia faced the mentioned group.
“The one who represents you must come here to answer more questions.”
Twilight Sparkle walked towards the platform, standing between Robert and the Princesses.
“Twilight Sparkle, you and your friends want to speak on behalf of Robert Eisenfaust. Expose your reasons.”
Twilight talked and talked and talked until Robert almost fell asleep. After an hour she had explained in great detail everything they knew about Robert and how they all believed that he wasn’t a menace to Equestria. Then she showed Celestia and Luna the technoglove that Robert had used to protect himself from the guards and she gave it to Robert, waking him up from his doze.
“Robert, I found a message in this device. Could you show it to the princesses?”
He donned the glove and a few seconds later Matheus’ record was played for all to hear.
“What is the point of this?” he asked, a bit angry.
“This message is the proof that you are indeed the last human in Equestria,” replied the unicorn.
“That is not up to you to decide, Twilight,” said Celestia, “do you have anything else to show or tell?”
“No, I have finished.”
“Then go back to your seat, we must reach a decision” said Luna.
The two princesses spoke in whispers for at least ten minutes until Celestia faced Robert again.
“Robert Eisenfaust, we have taken a decision. Your presence isn’t dangerous to Equestria, so there is no reason to banish or imprison you. Hence, we are willing to grant you Equestrian citizenship, as long as you prove worthy of that privilege. If you decline this offer, you will be escorted to the Everfree Forest, never to come back.”
“Can I have some time to make that decision? I would like to know what means to be a citizen of Equestria and think about it.”
“We will meet again, tomorrow at the same hour. Then you will choose” said Luna, “that is all.”
Robert stood up and was about to turn and leave the room when he heard Celestia’s voice.
“Robert, I would like to speak in private with you,” she said with a gentle but firm voice, ”if you want to.”
Robert suspected that he didn’t have any choice in the matter, so he waited for Celestia to abandon the platform.
“It won’t take long, we will meet again for lunch” she told to her pupil and her friends as she passed by.
The Princess of the sun led Robert through narrow corridors and steep stairs, always downwards. Soon, the stained glass windows and decorated rooms made way to dark stone walls and locked steel doors.
“Excuse me, princess,” said Robert, his voice filled with concern, “where are we going?”
Celestia turned her head, her eyes at the same level as Robert’s.
“You will know soon enough.”
Robert knew better than asking again, so he remained silent. They walked for at least fifteen minutes through the dungeons until Princess Celestia stopped in front of a black metallic door.
“We are in the Royal Vault,” she told him with gravity, “some of the most valuable objects of History are kept safe here. You must cross this door and continue until you find a plain red door. There is something behind that door that you must see, alone. Then we will have our conversation.”
He gulped and nodded. Robert opened the door, its hinges creaking, and walked alone through the barely illuminated place.
The corridor had many doors on each side, each one with an unique painting. There were doors with animals, doors with geometrical motifs and with color schemes. Robert walked slowly, the silence of the place broken only by his breathing and footsteps. He found the plain red door thirty meters away from the entrance. It was a normal, wooden door with a white knob. He grabbed the knob with a strong grip and opened the door. The room was covered in darkness, but as soon as he stepped inside a faint light appeared, growing stronger by the seconds. The first thing he noticed was a showcase with something inside. As he went closer he noticed that it looked like some kind of parchment. It was only when he stood in front of the case that he could distinguish the text written in the old paper.
He felt to his knees, staring at the document without blinking.
“Oh my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it,” he muttered as tears flowed freely. He punched the glass that protected the document he knew as the United States Constitution as he screamed.
“You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!” he continued punching the magically protected glass until he ran out of tears. He didn’t know how much time he stayed curled in a ball and sobbing under the showcase until he came back to his senses. He looked around and saw many familiar items. Flags, documents, books, a Coca Cola can, a car wheel, a computer, even an Iphone and an Action Man. He remembered that Hasbro had decided to create a new animation series to promote the new line of Action Man toys, and how the show meant for 5 years old boys had become worldwide popular among adult women in the year 2018 thanks to the Internet. Heck, even his ex-girlfriend had been an Action Girl, as they called themselves.
He left the room, confused and angry. Celestia was in the corridor, her face masking her feelings.
“When? How?” he asked.
“In the year 2030 of your era. That is when magic appeared on Earth. We don’t know if it was due to some human experiment, some kind of cosmic event or the action of a god. It simply appeared and your world changed. Some species mutated or evolved, like ponies and dogs. Others, like dragons, appeared out of thin air. Humans didn’t change at all, so you started fighting against the new sapient creatures and between yourselves. It didn’t take long until you managed to cause your own extinction with both nuclear and magical weapons, in the year 2100 more or less. We, the creatures born of magic, have a great resistance to radiation. You don’t. So we prevailed and you didn’t.”
“If we are on Earth... How come the Earth globe is different?”
“Before your extinction you managed to acquire a deep and powerful knowledge of magic,” she said with coldness, “your species can’t handle it, but with the help of your technology you could force the magic itself to perform terrifying feats. When you stopped nuking each other, Earth was so damaged that Luna and I still have to use our magic to avoid a change or a stop in the rotation and translation. If that wasn’t enough, we had to deal with a nuclear winter for at least ten years. We are immune to radiation, but mortal ponies can still starve and you can’t grow crops without sunlight. You surely understand now why I had to make sure you weren’t the first of a human colony that had survived somewhere.”
“Why are you the only one that knows about humans?”
“After you were gone, we had to make sure that no other species would follow your steps towards self-destruction. So Luna and I destroyed all evidence of your existence we could find, only keeping a few of your most historically important objects just in case we decided that public knowledge of humanity would be beneficial.”
“... The Action Man too?”
Celestia lost her stoic façade for a second, a grin betraying her.
“Luna said that it would help ponies to know how you looked like. But I think she just became obsessed with that TV show you created.”
“I... I need a drink”
Celestia nodded and, with a flash of light, teleported both of them out of the dungeons. They appeared in a small, cozy room with a couch and a table. Luna was laying on the couch, a quill and parchment on the table.
“I must perform my royal duties,” stated Celestia, “so I must leave you two. See you tonight, sister.”
“See you Celly” Luna replied, and then she faced Robert as Celestia left in another flash of light, “Robert, it is a pleasure to properly meet you. I must say that your species truly fascinate me. It’s past my bedtime but I would love to exchange knowledge with you. If you prefer to stay alone I will understand, though.”
“No, it’s... It’s fine, I’d rather know more about... About how we managed to obliterate ourselves.”
“Huzzah!” she exclaimed, oblivious to his sadness, “I will answer all your questions, but first you must answer one of mine that I have been struggling with and all the human knowledge we could save doesn’t answer: How does Harry Potter ends? I never found the last book.”
Then Celestia appeared again in another blinding flash.
“I almost forgot: Robert, I’m sure you understand that I can’t have you telling everypony about Earth and humankind, so from now on you are a being who came from the moon with Luna.”
Celestia nodded and left again. Robert faced Luna again, shrugged and took a seat.
“So... You really never found the last book or film of Harry Potter? He was so popular when I was a boy... Well, if I remember right, Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows starts with...”
They spent the next two hours talking. Robert learned a lot about what happened between his departure and humanity’s extinction, while Luna finally got the answers to most of her questions, many of them related to video games, books and movies. When Luna inquired about his personal life before leaving Earth he felt sad and angry, but talking about it to a listening partner and letting it out made him feel better afterwards. She also told him about Nightmare Moon, her banishment and how hard it had been for her to reconnect with society after so many years. He learned as well how Celestia had become aware of his presence in Ponyville.
“One last question,” said Robert when Luna told him that she was going to sleep, “why do you all say ‘anypony’ instead of anyone and anybody?”
“Honestly, I have no idea. That change happened while I was on the moon,” she yawned, “have a nice day.”
“Good... Day? Sleep well, Princess Luna.”
“I hope you decide to stay here, you are really nice for being a human.”
“Before you leave... Where are we and how do I get out?” he asked, a bit worried, “this castle is a maze and I don’t want to get lost.”
“Wait here and I’ll fetch somepony to guide you,” she replied, stressing the word ‘pony’ as she left the room.
Robert only had to wait two minutes until a maiden appeared. They stared at each other in shock, as she was the same mare that had brought him his dinner last night. She broke the silence when she started crying.
“Why are you crying? I may not be the prettiest man in the world but this is a bit excessive,” he said, feeling really awkward.
“I knew I shouldn’t have hid the cutlery I broke!” she said between ragged sobs, “now I’m going to be eaten by an talking monster!”
“What?! I’m not going to eat you!”
“R-really?” she asked, ceasing her whimpers.
“Why would I?”
“...Because you are big and scary and you eat meat?”
“Wait, you live in a world with dragons, hydras and who-knows-what-else and I am the big and scary monster?”
“If you put it that way...” she said reluctantly.
“I promise you that I won’t eat you or hurt you by any means. Now, could you guide me to my room?”
“Of course, please follow me, sir.”
“Just call me Robert.”
When they arrived to his room, the mare was no longer afraid of him. He asked her to ask Twilight Sparkle to come, as he wanted to speak with her.
“Also, what is your name, miss? I believe you haven’t told me yet.”
“My name is Silken Cloth, mister.”
“Thanks for everything, miss Cloth.”
“It’s been a pleasure to serve you, mister” she said with the monotonous tone of somepony who has said the same phrase countless times.
As soon as Silken Cloth left he realized that he was probably trapped again inside the magical barrier. He tried waving his hand outside the window, and he was surprised to find no magical wall. He tried with the door, finding nothing preventing him from going out except for the two guards.
“You two, it seems like I’m no longer magically contained to this room. Does that mean that I can go out whenever I want?”
“That’s right, sir. However, you shouldn’t try to leave Canterlot. If you try to leave by train you could find yourself in danger with a barrier on one side and the train’s walls on the other.”
He spent the next fifteen minutes checking the new clothes in his wardrobe until Twilight arrived. Robert heard the voices of Twilight and the guards a few seconds before the door opened and the purple unicorn entered.
“You wanted to see me?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said, his back turned to her, “we need to talk.”
“Robert, if you are angry because of what happened in Ponyville and you don’t want to be my friend anymore I’ll understand.”
“I haven’t called you to scold you, I just want to understand.”
“I want to understand why you all changed your mind from being my ‘friends’, to helping the guards that thought I was a dangerous monster, and then back to helping me. I don’t get it.”
“Yesterday morning I sent a letter to Princess Celestia,” began Twilight, telling him everything she and her friends had thought and done since then until he arrived to Canterlot.
“So that’s why Lyra wasn’t with you,” he thought aloud as he turned to face Twilight.
He stared right into her eyes, pondering in silence for a whole minute before speaking again.
“This is a stain on your record. You broke my trust in you and that is something that won’t be fixed anytime soon. I’m willing to forgive, but I won’t forget. That being said, I will give you and your friends another chance. I owe you that much at least, seeing that you made everything in your han*ehem*hooves to help me and that I have grown fond of you. Friends again?” he said, extending a hand and smiling.
“Friends again!” she said with a smile as they shook hand and hoof.
“Now, you have to tell me how the heck you managed to find the record on Matheus’ glove without knowing the gestures or my alphabet.”
“I would love to, but I think it’s near lunch-time already and I think we may be... Tardy!” she said, suddenly scared.
Were it not for their training, the guards wouldn’t have kept their composure when Twilight left the room galloping with Robert trying to keep up with her, and failing miserably, as she berated him for being so slow.