A Twist in the Tail
by Midnight Shadow
an MLP:FiM fanfic based in the conversion bureau universe originally by blaze, which is in turn based on My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, copyright Hasbro.
The conversion bureau was just like any other. Glenn was almost disappointed; it was kind of like going to McDonalds, always the same. He expected it every time, but still…where was the magic? He’d been to a few before but he’d chickened out after the first day, often stealing away in the middle of the night.
The front desk was manned by a pony, as usual. Maybe that should be ‘ponied by a pony’, he thought to himself. He wasn’t really sure why they always had a pony on the front desk, but if he’d been asked he’d have guessed it was so that visitors would get the right idea immediately. We make ponies here, it said, it’s what we do.
“Er, hi…” he said, walking up to the unicorn. It was almost always a unicorn, he figured it was their ability to hold several phones in the air at once without breakages that led to it. Maybe it was something to do with being a unicorn that leant their talents towards being secretaries? He shook his head, you’re over-thinking it, doofus, he said to himself.
“Hi there Sugar, come on in. Computer says you’re a pony graduate now?”
This was new.
“I’m a what?”
“A pony graduate. It says you’ve been to a conversion bureau for at least a total of seven days, you’ve interacted positively with staff and customers and you’ve had the standard introductory lecture at least once. You’re a graduate.”
“I…er…well I’ve heard it several – seven – times. I mean…I-I-I…what’s a pony graduate?”
The unicorn tilted her head and purposefully put the phones down, “Why are you here, Sugar?”
“I…er…I guess I want to become a pony?” said Glenn, shrugging his shoulders.
“Then why leave each time? You’re done though. You’ve graduated. Well done. What this means is, if you come in through these doors, you go to the head of the queue. You get the next free slot. That’s in about five minute’s time, hon, if you’re really interested. Otherwise…well if you’re looking for a job, we’ve got several openings. We don’t want to force ponification on anypony, but we don’t want you to sit here moping about and taking up space. There’s a lot of humans who want conversion, hon, if you don’t then there’s no hard feelings.”
“You…don’t want me here?”
“Oh no, no! Nothing like that, sweetie, we just don’t want to bore you with the same details over and over and we don’t need to make you wait nor make anypony else miss out because we can’t take a newfoal due to lack of room and board!”
“I’m…I’m sorry.” He folded in on himself, he felt stupid now. They’d noticed. They’d noticed big time.
“You wanna talk about it?”
“How about this – my good friend Rarity is visiting this very centre. She’s not a newfoal like me-“
“You’re a newfoal?” Glenn stared, he’d never have known. She was…she was a pony.
“I sure as sugar am, tallstuff. Got ponified in the first wave, way back when…five years now?”
“Regret it? Heck no! I missed my thumbs and…other stuff…but I love being a pony and whilst I’d have taken an earth pony and wanted to be a Pegasus, I can’t think of being anything else than what I am now. I never felt wrong as a human, but as a pony? It felt right. Come on honeybuns, follow me. It’s my break time anyhow. What’s your name?”
“Glenn.” Said Glenn
“Just Glenn? I could go look it up, ya know...”
“Does it matter?”
“Guess not, you got the express lane if you want it. I’ve got my computer to pop up the details of every prospective newfoal that walks in through those doors, but the one thing I never need is a name. Not until now. My name’s Moonbeam. Just Moonbeam.”
“Aren’t you ponies running short on names by now?”
Moonbeam laughed as she exited from behind the desk with soft clip-clopping noises, “Probably, but I don’t let it worry me. So, Just Glenn, follow me and let’s see if I can find Rarity.”
They walked through the complex, and once again the friendly atmosphere washed over him. He allowed it, he always loved it. Rarely an unkind word, always sweetness and light. He couldn’t understand it. Within these walls, even though every time he found himself just visiting, he felt at peace.
“Why do you do it?” asked Moonbeam suddenly, turning her head to look at him.
“Yeah. You scared?”
Glenn thought to himself, hands in pockets. He wanted to lift a hand out and pet the creature next to him, she was a three-foot-high light blue and purple-speckled talking unicorn, all soft curves and huggable neck, “I guess so. Did it hurt?”
Moonbeam stopped in her tracks for a second, then carried on, “They say the first ones hurt – before they learned to knock you out first. Those who were there say they’ll never forget. I’m not going to lie, Sugar, I don’t do that. Listen though, when I did it – and this was five years ago or more – I didn’t feel a thing.”
“and you’re…still you?”
Moonbeam looked up at him as they crossed the cafeteria. She turned and shouldered open the doors to the area marked ‘STAFF ONLY – NO UNAUTHORISED PERSONNEL BEYOND THIS POINT’. This was it, he realized, the one part of the grounds he’d never got to see in any bureau.
“Glenn, I remember when I was just a girl on a farm. We had a big farm but it had long ago ceased to be hard work…big robots worked the land, tilling, turning, planting, picking. General AI came along a few years later and it turned out we were just…tenants. Our farm didn’t need us. The whole shebang was automated almost over night. I guess you could say I had a fun life; I played hookey from school, used to go fishin’ with my pals down at the creek. We never caught much but a sun-burn. Those were the days…and then I grew up. I was a workshy, bone-idle mistress of a company that didn’t need me. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had hands then, Glenn, hands that had never seen a hard days work in their life. I had brown hair, blue eyes, freckles and a birth mark right on my…well, my pappy’d say I shouldn’t mention that one.”
“So…that’s a yes?”
“Glenn, I can’t answer that question. Are you the same person when you wake up in the morning that went to bed the previous night? The simple answer is yes. The technically correct answer is probably no, to both ponification and sleep. If you’re happy going to sleep every night to wake up the next day, then yeah, I’d say I’m me. I certainly think I’m me!”
They walked on in silence. It was a pretty short trip, all said and done.
“Rarity honey? You in here?”
“Why certainly, Moonbeam darling! My favourite newfoal beauty model!” came a voice, it belonged to a snow-white unicorn with diamonds on her flanks – her cutie-mark, remembered Glenn, he wondered what his would be – and stunning purple hair. Equestrian ponies could never be compared to naturals from Earth, that kind of shine and colour-scheme just couldn’t be replicated.
“Rar’ girl, you say that to all your newfoal models.”
“I know, I know, but I mean it this time!”
“You say that too.”
The two ponies laughed – such a familiar sound! – but there was real friendship and affection there. They embraced necks and chewed manes for a moment, very pony-like, before they parted and both turned to look up at Glenn.
Glenn was a short, slightly overweight human of average build, average face, average life. Black hair, brown eyes, light complexion. Immediately Rarity had begun sizing him up – she was planning on introducing a daring range of saddles for humans, strictly ornamental and quite the fashion statement. She was sure they’d catch on. A saddle would look excellent on this one, it was almost a pity this human would become a pony. Maybe as a pony…hmm.
She turned to her friend, “To what do I owe this pleasure, Moonbeam dear?”
“You’re a good talker – this here’s a graduate. Glenn by name, Glenn by nature.”
“Oh my, are you sure I should be talking to..?”
“Glenn just keeps coming back like a little lost puppy. I don’t want you to talk this one into nothin’ unwanted but…can you help clear things up?”
“I’d be delighted, dear! Come on Glenn – oh that would be such a lovely pony name! It would suit you!”
Rarity explained things as much as she could – humans came in, ponies came out. Nopony had ever complained, nopony had ever regretted their decision. No, she couldn’t understand it and it didn’t really bother her, why should it to see ponies happy? Scientists attributed things to a raised endorphin level, happiness hormones which were a natural and pleasant side-effect of being a pony, but really it was just the way things were.
“So, Glenn dear, if you’ve made up your mind, just hop up here and we’ll be done before you know it.”
“Indeed! Just a quick little drinkie, you go to sleep, and wake up to a whole new look!”
“And it doesn’t hurt, and I’m still me?”
“No complaints, and as far as anypony has ever commented, yes.”
“Okay then. I’m in. I’m done. Hit me.”
“Marvellous! I’ll just…oh…silly me, we’re not quite set up for a graduate newfoal are we? I’ll…you stay here, I’ll get you the potion. Hop up, cover yourself with this paper robe – it comes off much easier than normal clothing and hides things that you humans seem intent on hiding.”
Rarity exited the room, rather flustered. She was a grade-A ponification technician, it really wasn’t on to be caught short without the proper setup when a flighty thing like Glenn was waiting. She poked her head into the head technician’s office, “Hello? Anypony? No? Drat…oh!”
The solitary exchange was short-lived as Rarity saw a cupboard with sets of supplies and samples. The potion was the wrong colour – usually a deep purple, this one was cherry red - but it was labeled as a ponification potion, old but still in date, so it had to be acceptable. She’d replace it as soon as possible. Snatching it up in her muzzle in her haste, she bolted from the room and headed back towards the ponification station.
Glenn hopped up, it felt very strange. The paper robe was open at the back and it felt distinctly drafty on his skin – underneath it he was naked and the plastic seating was sticking to his sweaty buttocks. He noticed a roll of paper at the head and reasoned she should have pulled it down. Hopping back off he was startled into hearing a pony gasp behind him. Rarity had returned.
She averted her gaze, “I’m sorry, I know you humans are sensitive about your bodies…”
“It’s okay, I was just covering the seat with the disposable paper…”
Rarity was even more flustered, “Oh my, I do apologize!”
“No, no, it’s my fault. I’m such a bother, hanging around conversion bureaus and wasting everybody’s time.
“It’s okay to be worried, Glenn, and I won’t have it that you feel pressure. You are free to go, if you wish.”
Glenn shook his head, “No. I’ve made up my mind. I…I’d never really spoken to a pony before, not a newfoal and not an Equestrian. I mean I meet them, in the shops and around the neighbourhood but…”
“You don’t know how to introduce yourself?”
“What do you say to a pony?”
“I find that ‘hello’ usually works,” giggled Rarity, floating the potion over to him, “here you go. Drink this and you’ll fall asleep.”
“And I’ll wake up a pony?”
“That’s the general idea.”
“Does it taste nasty?”
“No, it’s supposed to taste like grape juice.”
Glenn smacked his lips, having downed the bottle, “No, no…this one tasted of cherr-“ he slumped back and Rarity barely caught the glass beaker in time. She recalled some ponies had much the same reaction to liquor.
Glenn drifted – he couldn’t really see, couldn’t really feel. He was formless, without shape. There was a tugging sensation and he felt himself drawn through space. He floated, slowly becoming aware of a flock of birds…no, they were pegasi, filling the skies. He floated amongst them, admiring, reaching out ethereal hands that could no longer grasp to touch them. They accepted him but he felt himself move on. Deep into the forests he fell, secret valleys and secluded vistas where shooting stars spun from the horns of a multitude of unicorns. They contemplated the cosmos, sewed seasons into the tapestry of the world and wielded magic of the weird and wonderful. They welcomed him, examining him, passing his essence around and greeting him with a nudge or a nuzzle, but he felt out of place here, too. He passed from their tender ministrations to the plains, great rolling fields of grass and scrub where the thunder of hooves shook the world to the very foundations of the mountains, and here he felt his hooves touch the earth. Halting at first, but gathering speed, soon he was thundering along with them, part of the herd, movement personified, the very essence of grace and power, pulling the world through it’s endless cycle of death and rebirth as summer moved to autumn to fall to winter and finally rise up in spring and give way to summer. He was an earth pony.
Glenn’s eyes opened.
“Glenn dear? Are you back with us?” asked Rarity softly. She had the remains of his paper robe at her hooves and was clearing away the utensils. He realized he felt wonderful. He flexed his hooves, one at a time. His hooves! He stared at them agog – a light chestnut-brown coat and with what appeared to be a burgundy flowing mane and tail. His gaze travelled down his body. He was on his back on the strange seat, it had molded to his new form. He stared himself up and down…
“Rarity…Rarity!” his voice was high-pitched - for a pony’s - as he called to the unicorn, a worried inflection colouring the tone.
“What, what? Is everything okay?”
“Can…can you help me down and then…and then check something for me?”
“Of course, dear, hold on…”
Rarity made adjustments and the seat twisted and turned as Glenn eased himself down to the ground to stand on all four hooves for the first time. He swayed lightly and took a couple of tentative steps.
“Everything alright? All newfoals are a bit unsteady their hooves at first, you’ll get used to it.”
“It’s…it’s not that. Can you…tell me what I am?”
“You’re an earth pony dear, and a stunning one at that, why the things I could do with that mane…”
“Why, you’re a filly dear – Glenn does suit you so well, like a lovely natural glade. You should keep it!”
“I…I…I…I’m a filly?”
“Yes, of course. You were a woman, so now you’re a filly.”
“I’m a man! Glenn! It’s a man’s name!”
Glenn paced backwards and forwards. She’d bolted through the cafeteria, falling on her arse three times and spilling the contents of several tables in her haste as all four hooves went in different directions. She all but ignored the applause - both clapping and hoof-stomping – giving weak, wan smiles to the crowd as she rushed out into the gardens where she spent several minutes trying to get a look under her own tail in the reflection in the ornamental pond.
She was so engrossed in this behaviour that she failed to notice she wasn’t alone.
“I, er, I know this may come as too early, miss, but…are you doing anything later?” came a voice. It belonged to a dark black unicorn stallion, his coat was glossy and his shoulders were broad and his mane – as jet black as the rest of him – caught in the sunlight just so. Another stallion stood next to him, a Pegasus, shyly looking at the ground, wings fluttering.
Glenn shook her head, “No! No…I mean…no, thank you…but…no.”
“Don’t worry, I’m a newfoal too, we won’t have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with…you’re just…quite pretty, miss.”
Glenn bit her lip, shaking her head, dammit, I don’t need to think about this right now and I’m not even into guys, even if he is…I don’t think he’s handsome! He’s…he’s a pony for starters…and so am I and oh goodness what do I do he’s still there looking at me…
Glenn fidgeted awkwardly, feeling her tail raise and flick against her will as she shuffled her hooves left and right.
“Well okay, but I’ll be here a few days if you change your mind, I’m shippin’ out to Equestria with my other buddy when he gets finished day after tomorrow.”
“You’ll clear off is what you’ll do! Shoo! Shoo! Barely five minutes out of the ponification station and you’re already chasing fillies! Away with you!” came Rarity’s voice, and she charged in throwing pine cones at the pair. They turned tail and fled.
Glenn breathed a sigh of relief, “Thank you, thank you, I was…I didn’t know what to do!”
“You just say no, dear…that’s all you’ve got to…oh dear,” Rarity sniffed lightly, “do we have that to deal with on top of everything?”
“What? What? Now what?”
“I wish I had an easier way to tell you this, but you’re going into season.”
“I’M GOING INTO WHAT NOW?” yelled Glenn
“Relax, relax, it’s quite normal. Humans and ponies are quite similar really, but we do tend to have more…restricted times for procreation.”
“I know what it means! How come it’s happening to me!”
“It’s a side-effect that a statistically small but significant number of newfoal mares go into season – flashing pink, we call it – within hours of ponification. It will only last a couple of days.”
“Oh good grief…so what do I do? How do I…turn it off?”
Rarity blushed, “Well dear, the quickest way is…ah…”
“Doing that? With a stallion?”
“It’ll go away by itself in a few days, it’s only temporary, but a stallion seems to have the greatest effectiveness if you wish for the symptoms to go away quicker. Really though, any sort of...ahem...intimate contact will do it.”
“And I have to walk around in public like this?”
“Oh it’s not all that obvious…”
“Look me in the eye and tell me it’s not obvious.” Glenn stared at Rarity, who had the decency to blush, “Great. Just great. I’m going to get hit on by every randy stallion from here to Equestria, aren’t I?”
“It doesn’t help you sway your hips and tail like that when you walk.”
“I’m swaggering! It’s manly!”
“You’re a filly and it’s enticing.”
Glenn facehoofed, “You promised help?”
“Help is on its way as we speak!”
“Help has arrived.” Said yet another new voice. There was a smell of burnt ozone in the air and a purple unicorn with fetching bangs walked out of the undergrowth.
“Twilight! I’m so glad they sent you!” cried Rarity.
“Hello Rarity, what seems to be the problem here?”
“This filly says she was a man.”
“Oh dear…are you sure?”
“Well she didn’t have a face-mane like most of the alpha males seem to have and seemed to have plenty in the hip area like most females…Naturally I assumed…”
“I was chubby! And not all men have beards!”
Twilight levitated a datapad out of a bag and waited whilst it plumbed itself in to the network. When it finally connected and synchronized, she pulled up Glenn’s data and the information on the ponification itself.
“That’s strange. Male, early thirties…filly, earth pony. It checks out.”
“This is NOT checking out! Checking out is what’s happening to me NOW!”
Twilight looked up from her datapad and apologized, “I mean…sorry, I mean the system agrees. The computer says you were a man and now you’re a filly.”
Glenn rolled her eyes, “I’ve been trying to tell you that!”
“But why? Rarity, what went on in this session? You said she was a graduate?”
“Yes, yes she was. We talked, she drank the potion…” Rarity recounted, tapping a hoof on her muzzle.
“Yeah, it tasted like cherries. You said it would taste like grape.” Glenn looked at Rarity, who blushed.
“It does, the standard stuff anyway. We have…wait, cherries? What colour was it?” Twilight swung her head to and fro between Rarity and Glenn.
“Uh, red. Bright red. Cherry red, in fact.”
“Are you sure?”
“Quite sure.” Glenn nodded his – her – head.
“Rarity…where did you get that potion?”
“It was from the…from the head technician’s office. In the cabinet. It said it was a standard ponification potion! I didn’t think it would matter.”
“Oh by Celestia’s beard…solution R63? Not P42X?”
“I…think it may have said R63…”
“Rarity! No! That’s the original version of the potion! Before it was fully perfected!”
“You gave me experimental potion?? What’s it going to do to me? Am I going to die? I am, aren’t I?”
Twilight did her best to calm Glenn down, “No, no, nothing like that. It’s okay, it’s safe. Entirely safe…it just has one teensy little tiny side-effect.”
“Don’t tell me...”
“Well human to pony genetic transfer is difficult, okay? We started with a template, and that template was female. Female genes are XX, male are XY. It was easier to develop it with females in mind at first. It was never supposed to be used on a male human! It’s perfectly safe, it’s just…apparently it turns you into a female pony. I’m sorry! It didn’t know the difference, it thought it was just another step in the process!”
“Well undo it! Change me back!”
“That’s why I’m here, I’ll do what I can.”
“Well do it!” Glenn said, stamping her pert little front hooves.
“It’s not that easy, champ,” said Twilight, “this is going to take some fine work from our top ponies in ponification. I’m concerned about residual effects so we’re going to have to make sure the potion’s flushed from your system first, and then that your cellular matrix has stabilized. You don’t want me to try anything before you’ve stabilized, trust me.”
“Why? What would happen?”
“It was explained to me this way - have you ever over-whisked an egg-white? First it’s just the clear stuff that you beat with a whisk until it becomes lovely and white and fluffy?”
“I’ve…seen it done.”
“Well if you carry on beating it, eventually it’ll break down.”
“are you saying, if you tried to turn me into a male and I’ve still got that potion inside me, it would melt me?”
“…kinda?” said Twilight, ears drooping.
Glenn facehoofed, “I don’t wanna melt! I just want my bait and tackle back!”
“Then you’re going to have to come with me.”
“Okay, okay, by the time we get to Equestria I’ll be able to be changed back.” said Glenn, pacing around in circles, sorting things out in her head. This could work, it would only be a few days, and then everything would be normal again. Sort of, she realised, I mean after all I’ll still be a pony...
“Not quite...Rarity, you too. You messed this up, you’re going to have to help sort it out.”
“What do you mean, not quite? Equestria is miles away! I can’t fly, not that I could manage that sort of distance even if I could…”
Twilight looked at the newfoal mare, “How do you think I managed to get here so fast? We’re going the express route. We’re going to teleport.”
Midnight Shadow glanced at the pictures in front of him and shook his head. He finished up his notes and made sure to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. If he didn’t, he was quite sure Luna would send him back to first grade again. He’d graduated to “unofficial second teacher” from “overly large student” at Cheerilee’s school, now that she’d established that Luna had her hoof amusingly entangled in to the mixup that had left him a pupil of hers. Not that she ceased giving him timeouts, though he was pretty convinced she did it just because she found his snoring hilarious.
Luna was visiting, too, making sure to check up on his work at every opportunity and distract him with strange questions about Earth. He was pretty sure she knew far more than she let on, but she was his employer and a princess of the realm to boot.
“Luna? I think I’ve discovered why your breeding pair of humans in that zoo aren’t breeding.”
“Oh? It’s been baffling our zoo keepers for months.” Said the princess as she lightly glided down the stairs.
“Really? Surprising.” Midnight finished putting the finishing touches the scroll and rolled it up.
“Can’t you just tell me?” laughed Luna, an amused smile on her muzzle.
“No, no, it’s best if you read it for yourself. Here you go.” Midnight levitated the scroll to the moon princess with ease – he’d improved since his early efforts and was now a passable unicorn telekineticist, if a little overzealous with his field-effect at times.
Luna unfurled the scroll, making much of a muchness about settling her reading glasses on her nose and scanning through the text. Her eyes went wide, and she covered her mouth with a hoof to stifle a raucous giggle, “Really?”
Luna burst out laughing, “Oh this is excellent news. I can’t wait to tell Celly!”
“You’re going to tell Celestia?” squeaked Midnight, “But…”
“Oh yes, I am so going to tell my bigger, wiser sister Celestia all about this!”
“Please don’t, just let me…let me rewrite that second paragraph…”
“The one about whoever authorized the transfer being a complete nincompoop ignorant of basic human anatomy?”
“Yeah, that one, I don’t want anypony getting in trouble with Celestia.”
“Oh I wouldn’t worry about that.”
“Of course. Celestia herself authorized it.”
Midnight almost swallowed the spoon in his cup of tea as Luna fled the building, calling for Spike.
“I’m dead…she’s going to turn me into a newt…she’s going to re-upholster her throne…” He sunk to his hindquarters and buried his head in his forehooves on the desk.
There was a bright flash outside the library and the sound of a pony unsuccessfully attempting to retch. Midnight got up and went outside.
“Ugh, that was awful. I never want to teleport again!”
“I…I don’t want to be Glenn any more. I’m going to call myself…Midnight. I saw it in a pony name book and thought it looked awesome.”
“That’s a wonderful name for a filly! Midnight Glen!” said Rarity eagerly.
Midnight Shadow slammed the door open, “It’s a stallion’s name too! It’s modern!”
“Midnight..uh..Glen, meet Midnight Shadow, Usurper of my library.” said Twilight wryly, “He’s angsty about having given himself a filly’s name.”
“It’s modern! I keep telling you!” the dark blue unicorn stallion stamped a hoof angrily.
“Midnight’s a filly’s name?” asked Midnight, of Midnight.
Midnight Shadow hung his head, “Kind of. What’s the problem with it? You’re an attractive filly – I’m not sure if it suits you with that colour-scheme, but…”
The chestnut-brown and burgundy-maned earth-pony ran off crying, much to Midnight’s bafflement, “What? What did I do?”
“I’ll…explain later. Rarity, you go find her. I’ve got to find the princess.”
Midnight Shadow, Twilight, Luna and Celestia sat around the library table. Midnight hadn’t been sure about letting coffee into the library, but seeing as Twilight’s number one assistant - his gaming buddy Spike – was a fire-breathing dragon that lived in the treehouse filled with flammable paper scrolls and books, he didn’t think the odd cup of coffee would cause too much consternation.
Luna sipped her tea maliciously, idly smoothing out the creases in a familiar scroll. Midnight kept his head low, fearing to meet Celestia’s gaze. Twilight was babbling on about using the wrong potion to an attentive Celestia, who was drinking coffee.
“…And so, there was a bit of a mix-up with the potions. Rarity didn’t know and I should never have allowed such samples to remain active and within reach. The ponification was perfect, flawless even…but as expected we saw a deviation in certain physical characteristics of the subject in question.”
“You mean we got the wrong sex.” said Luna with a smirk. Midnight almost choked down the spoon for the second time that day. His coughing fit caused concerned looks in all but Luna, but he waved them off.
Celestia nodded, finally, “Quite the mixup, but relatively easy to fix. I’ll perform the spell myself, but perhaps you should work on some potion, Twilight, for simplicity’s sake. Changing attributes like that is complicated magic, I’d rather the first such spell on a newfoal was performed by me, unless you wish to chime in about my…abilities, Luna?”
“Oh no, no,” coughed Luna, politely hiding her mouth behind a hoof, “I’m sure something like that is relatively simple for you.”
“Good. Good. Now off you go – I think you have to prepare for tonight’s moonrise, little sister, and Twilight has to read up on her transformational matrix stabilization spells if she is to assist me. I wish to have a quick private chat with Midnight here…”
Midnight whimpered as the goddess opened the front door to the library and stepped carefully back inside, “Oh please, please, please don’t send me to the moon! Or turn me into a newt!”
Celestia blinked, “Why on Equestria would I do that?”
“I…I’m sorry! I didn’t know it was you!”
“No, no,” Celestia laughed lightly, “it’s all in good fun. I must admit you were quite correct; when I read the official papers I had mis-read a very important part. John and Cherry were our chosen pair, or at least that’s what I thought it said. John declined to state his sex – something about gender equality on the Earth side of the fence.” She gave an amused laugh, eyes twinkling, “I’ve just found out Cherry’s real name is Terry, He has terrible hoofwriting. I thought Terry put ‘mare’ when all along it said ‘male’.”
“And your zookeepers..?”
“Were baffled. They were entirely too polite to ask something like that and didn’t think it was necessary. It’s the face-manes, you see. John has one and Terry doesn’t.”
“Indeed, and is quite the…quite the alpha male, or so I hear.”
“Oh…oh! So they’re…”
“Yes, they may not be exactly a breeding pair, but…”
“They like to practice?”
“Quite.” Celestia drank the last of her coffee, “You will be discrete about this, won’t you?”
“Oh, yes – I’m sure Glenn doesn’t want her predicament spread about, and bad press over this…news of a mixup with the R63 version of your potion wouldn’t go down well. It could, however, see some uses in specialist circumstances…”
“That wasn’t what I meant, but you have given me some food for thought.”
It dawned on Midnight that Celestia was apologizing for the mix-up at the zoo. He looked down at the table and drank his tea. It was cold, “It was a simple mistake, I guess – it was hard for me as a human to tell the difference between colts and fillies too, at first…”
Celestia laughed and turned around to leave. She looked back over her shoulder, “One day I’ll get the hang of it with humans too.”