Footsteps echoed down the long makeshift hall. The air was dry and dusty, but what more would you expect from an old warehouse? A man of average height and in his late thirties passed through little pools of light from the large lamps bolted to the steel rafters of the warehouse. Cereal didn’t like the building, but it was the only one they could get after their original headquarters was nearly demolished by a flash hate mob. He shook his head. Why do they hate us? he asked for probably the millionth time, We aren’t hurting anyone, we just wanted to have fun. Why do they want to destroy that? The sound of hooves striking the smooth concrete floor joined the soft thud of Cereal’s shoes.
“Everything all set?” a yellow unicorn with a red spiked mane trotted next to him.
“Yep.” Cereal said, “Rent is paid on the building for five years, after that it’s being demolished. Is everypony here?”
Seth, the yellow pony, nodded. “We just finished roll call, everypony is accounted for and waiting for us in the Acclimation Chamber.” He paused and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, “I almost can’t believe it’s actually happening. Two years of planning and coordination and the day is finally here.”
Cereal grunted in agreement, rubbing the side of his head. He took a long look at his hand, flexing it repeatedly. He had volunteered to be the last one to undergo the transformation, after all, they needed someone to put their affairs in order before they left. Two years ago the staff at Equestria Daily made the fateful decision to leave Earth. Their trans-dimensional portal had been working for a year before that and they had the Pony-o-matic doing permanent transformations a few months before. The sacking of EQD headquarters was the trigger for that decision. Other sites had started going down as the hatred grew, almost out of nowhere. EQD.com valiantly stayed online and as far as he knew, it was the only pony site left on the net. It wasn’t active anymore, they posted the general exodus proposal and some of the steps to get into contact with them, and then froze it on a protected server, hidden away with some brony sympathizers. To an outsider the instructions wouldn’t make sense, according to design. Only a true brony would understand the cypher and know where to go.
For two years, the bronies gathered in this abandoned industrial park. They had begun transformations almost immediately; there had to be almost three thousand ponies here. It made him worry that some didn’t understand the cypher in their last post on EQD, there should have been a lot more of them here. Then again, the fandom wasn’t what it used to be. The hate and stigma imposed by society had shaken many bronies out of the community. The ones who stuck with it were ponies from all over the world, united in their desire to find someplace safe.
“Okay, let’s go through the final checklist,” Cereal reached into the yellow unicorn’s saddle bags and pulled out a clipboard.
“I can’t wait for my magic to work...” Seth muttered.
“So, you have the archive carts loaded right?”
“Yes, we have all of the data banks from the pony sites, computers and generators.”
“Printers and ink?”
“Paper archive binders?”
“Tents, water, rations, medicine?”
“Check, check, check, check.”
Cereal put the clipboard and checklist back in Seth’s saddle bags. “You’d make Twilight proud. Now--” suddenly they were joined by a white pegasus mare.
“Hey, slow-pokes what’s the holdup?” she tossed her bright pink mane.
“Just going over some last-minute checks,” Seth replied.
“Well some of the other ponies are getting antsy. They’ve brought up some good questions. Like, do we know what the sudden infusion of several thousand males would do to the Equestrian population? Are we certain there aren’t any endemics we carry? Do we take any human medicines or can we just use equine medicines? A lot of them don’t know if this is the best thing to do.”
Cereal sighed, “We’ve been through this, Phoe... we don’t really know. It seems like the population of Equestria is over saturated with females anyway so there shouldn’t be a problem, unless you count rapid growth as one... And we just can’t stay here any longer, we sealed our fate the moment we started transforming humans into ponies. This world doesn’t want us here, our only hope is in Equestria,” he shoved his hands into the pockets of his blue jeans and shrugged.
It really was a shame that the rest of the world didn’t want them here. He was sure that all of the bronies felt the same way, why did society try to pull down something so good? They had always been a positive influence on the internet, well with the exception of a few. They raised millions, maybe even billions, of dollars for charities and other good causes. They were rewarded with hate and scorn. He shook his head again, what a mad world indeed.
“All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces,” he started to sing with with his best Gary Jules impression.
“Bright and early for their daily races, going nowhere, going nowhere,” Seth continued.
“Their tears are filling up their glasses, no expression, no expression,” Phoe sang.
“Hide my head I wanna drown my sorrow, no tomorrow, no tomorrow,” Cereal took his turn.
Then all three in unison, “And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad, the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had. I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take, when people run in circles it’s a very, very...Mad world...Mad world.”
The last notes of the sorrowful song gently echoed in the large building. “I didn’t know you sang, Cereal.” Phoe turned her head and eyed him with a little smile.
Cereal smiled back, “Neither did I.” They had reached their destination; a small room sectioned off from the rest of the warehouse by flimsy plywood walls. The transformation room, Cereal took a steadying breath. “Seth, go get everypony gathered in the portal area, take a final count, I don’t want anypony left behind.” he looked at the strange contraption that filled up most of the little room, “Phoe, would you like to do the honors?”
“Sure thing, boss,” Phoe took her place behind the control panel of the machine as Seth galloped off to do his assignment.
Cereal entered the chamber, the segmented steel walls slid shut, he quickly disrobed and threw the clothes over the side. “Ready!” he called over the low humm of the device.
“Initiating in 3...2...1...NOW!” Phoe called.
The machine charged up to full power in less than a second, emitting a high pitched whine. Cereal had no chance to really prepare for it, a blinding white light and the sound of rushing water drowned out the whole world...When he came to, he was lying on the floor of the small room, his head propped up on a pillow. Phoe smiled at him, “Welcome to your new life, Cereal Velocity.”
Twenty minutes later, Cereal stood in front of a large multi colored crowd of eager ponies. He felt much better now that he had finally joined them. Standing was pretty much all he could do at the moment, he was still getting used to his new body, a light gray unicorn.
“Calculations are set, cap’n, she’s warmin up an’ she’ll be ready teh go in ten minutes.” Seth said in a rather horrid impression of Scotty.
“Yer, doin’ it wrong!” a true Scottish pony called from the front row of the crowd. Seth just waved a hoof at him and laughed.
“How long can we hold the portal open?” Cereal asked.
“At the most...two hours. Any longer and we run the risk of overloading the transformers, not to mention the power grid. The electric company would probably cut service before that happened though.” Seth replied.
“Everypony has a buddy and they are all organized into groups,” Phoe gestured to the crowd, “We should be able to get all of them through in the first hour.”
Cereal nodded, “Can you bring me a mic?” It was peptalk time. Seth returned with a mic attached to a stand, held in his mouth. He put it down in front of Cereal and flipped the switch. “Ahem! Attention everypony.” Cereal’s voice echoed over the crowd, they all hushed and looked at him expectantly.
“The day is here, our exodus from this world.” he said solemnly. The grey unicorn imagined it looked very impressive, the massive stargate-esque construction standing behind him, glowing with electric lights and slowly turning, his voice echoing in the massive building. “Some of us are leaving friends and family behind, others came here seeking friends and family. This world cannot accept our love or tolerance and it refuses to love and tolerate us. So we go to a better place! Are you ready my friends?!”
A loud huzzah! exploded from the crowd followed by “FOR EQUESTRIA!” Another shout came from a few others, “FOR THE EMPIRE!” answered by, “FOR THE REPUBLIC!” from the other side of the crowd.
Cereal looked to his companions, they shouted into the microphone, “FOR THE HERD!!”
The crowd answered with a deafening “FOR THE HERD!!”
“Hit it Seth!” Phoe shouted over the crowd. Seth galloped to the controls and slammed a hoof into a large red button.
The portal growled to life, the sounds of metal grating against metal and small spurts of plasma jumping from the edges of the ring. It spun faster and faster, wind swirling around it as it gained speed.
“50 percent!” Seth yelled from the readout on the panel.
The three ponies on the platform in front of the portal machine ducked their heads into the rising wind, the crowd doing the same. Lightning flashed inside and along the rapidly spinning ring. The air inside ionized and the distinctive smell of ozone filled the building.
“80 percent!” Seth shouted to be heard over the cacophony of the machine.
“Everypony, get ready to run!” Cereal shouted into the microphone.
The space inside the machine started to warp as if a giant magnifying glass were being pulled away from them. The image of the wall behind the machine distorted and finally flipped upside down, then shrank, leaving a blinding white light at the edges that grew with every passing second.
“90 percent!” Cereal could barely hear him.
A few seconds later a low rumble shook the ground, rising in pitch until Cereal could feel the air in his lungs start to vibrate. With what he imagined would be the sound of God’s whip, the portal ripped open a hole in the fabric of time and space. The image of a brightly colored meadow at midnight seemed to fall towards them, coming into focus and filling the large ring of the portal.
“RAMPS!” Phoe shouted to the first line of ponies. They quickly ducked under harnesses and hoisted the large ramps next to them in a practiced motion. They trotted up the large metal ramp and through the portal. Within seconds the ramps were assembled together and put into place. “GO, GO, GO!” Phoe shouted into the microphone. she suited her words and ran into the portal, laughing. Seth was only a few steps behind whooping at the top of his lungs. Cereal ran awkwardly after them just ahead of the advancing column of ponies pulling carts laden with supplies. He passed through the invisible barrier of the portal, the hair of his coat standing on end. It felt like jumping into icy water and passing through a dry desert at the same time. There was no sound, his ears rang with the sudden silence. He could feel a sort of tugging at his middle, much like the sensation of going down a rollercoaster’s first drop.
Suddenly he was across the portal and tripping down the wooden ramp. The ponies that had taken the ramp through came to his aid, helping him down the rest of the way. He thanked them and made his way over to where Phoe stood gazing at the night sky.
“This is it! We’re really here, Cereal! I don’t recognize any of the constellations and this sky can only be the work of Luna!”
Seth was rolling in the grass giggling hysterically. Cereal laughed, tears coming to his eyes. The ponies from Earth started coming through the portal in droves. Each group that came through went to a predetermined area after clearing the ramp. The whole operation was going like clockwork. The group leaders started organizing their members and began their tasks.
“We’re home,” he whispered, “Finally home.”