Twilight scraped her hooves nervously as she stood before Celestia. She wasn’t used to seeing her formally, in her throne room, ringed by white unicorn guards, seated on a mahogany throne with red velvet cushions on a marble dais raised three steps above the rest of the room.
“I suppose,” Celestia said, “you’re wondering what was so important about your question that I had to tell you in person?”
Twilight nodded anxiously.
“Well,” Celestia said, “it’s a sensitive subject. And sometimes, Twilight, when you get swept up in some new line of inquiry, things have a way of... spinning wildly out of control.”
“I’m so sorry about the summoning!” Twilight blurted out. “It won’t happen again!”
Celestia held up a hoof to interrupt. “It was a learning experience,” she said. Her eyes darkened. “And it was a great fortune that we found out the truth about Fluttershy when we did.”
“You mean you’re not still mad about it?” Twilight asked hopefully.
“No,” Celestia said, “I mean I’ve learned to make sure you’re right here in front of me before telling you anything remotely volatile.”
“Volatile?” Twilight asked. “But it’s a purely scientific question.”
Celestia raised an eyebrow.
“I know I said the same thing about the plutonium,” Twilight said. “But that was different. This is just pictures!”
“Pictures of ponies, Twilight. Now, before you go telling all of Ponyville that Celestia has been playing Goddess with their anatomies, I want to make sure you understand what I have and have not done. Do you have the book with you?”
“Right here, princess!” Twilight magically opened her saddlebag and levitated a book out. “Oops, not that one.” She dropped it to the floor and pulled out another. “Not that one, either...”
Celestia cleared her throat. “Never mind the book. We both know what... discrepancies you found. You see –“ here she smiled, and spoke more softly – “these particular parts of ponies caused them much anxiety and distress in earlier days. They were surprisingly troublesome to their owners. And, frankly, not very aesthetically appealing. So, I changed them.”
Twilight gaped at Celestia.
“Now, hush. I know you’re going to say something about the ‘social contract’ or the ‘consent of the governed’ or some such nonsense of the kind that John Fetlocke was always going on about. That reminds me.” Celestia turned to one of the guards. “Has Fetlocke been fed today?”
“No, your majesty,” the guard replied.
“Excellent,” she said. “Wouldn’t want him getting overweight.” She turned back to Twilight. “Ponies would argue and argue and never come to a decision And, after all – guards?”
“CELESTIA KNOWS BEST!” the guards thundered in unison.
“Thank you. You’re too kind. So you see, Twilight, it’s all in everypony’s best interest.”
Twilight bit her lip unhappily.
“Come on,” Celestia said. “Out with it.”
“But,” Twilight stammered, “but how will I know if an inscrutable passage in the writings of the ancient ponies is a deep truth, or just a by-product of an anatomical difference? How can I interpret their discourses on pony nature if I’m not a real pony?”
“Dear Twilight,” Celestia said. “You never cease to amaze me with your ability to find the nerdiest possible interpretation of even the most tawdry facts. Oh, stop it. You know I can’t say no to you when you do that pouty thing with your lips. I’ll tell you what. I’ll change you back to the old-model pony for a while, and you see what you think of it.”
Twilight’s eyes lit up. “Ooh! An experiment!”
“Of course,” Celestia went on, “you’ll have to find a male to do this with you. Preferably one you like.”
“Well, of course,” Twilight said, “I can see that from the mechanics of it. Let’s see... How about Big MacIntosh?”
"Not Big MacIntosh," Celestia said quickly.
"He is nice, though.”
Celestia stood and slammed one forehoof down on the marble floor like a sledgehammer, and the walls shook.
“NOT BIG MACINTOSH.” Her voice echoed off the walls for a long time.
“O... kay,” Twilight agreed. “Not Big MacIntosh. But I don’t know who, then... I mean, it’s not that I’m a sexist. I have male friends. There’s a male who lives on my street! I’m just having a hard time remembering any of their names...”
Celestia whinnied sympathetically. “I know how that is.” She sat back down and lowered her voice. “I mostly tell them apart by color.”
Twilight blinked. "But... your guards are all white."
"Exactly!" Celestia said brightly. "And they're all guards." She called to one of them. “You there – ah, Buster.”
“Dustin, your majesty,” the unicorn guard she’d indicated replied, keeping his eyes forward.
“Yes, Dustin. You are to assist Miss Twilight in her studies.”
Dustin’s eyes widened. “Assist, your majesty?”
“In whatever capacity she requires,” the princess clarified.
Dustin blinked and shrank back from Twilight as well as he could without moving from his post, while she looked him over appraisingly. “Could you open your mouth and say aaah, please? Thank you.” She turned back to Celestia. “I think he’ll do.”
Dustin looked up at Celestia, still slightly hunched over, as if trying to hide behind his armour. “Do I have any say in this, your majesty?”
“Of course, Duster. I’m sure I could find you an... alternate assignment.” Princess Celestia smiled sweetly down at him.
Dustin gulped. “I’ll be happy to assist Miss Sparkle in her studies.”
“Good boy,” Celestia said. “Now, Twilight, Duster. If you’ll please come closer. This won’t hurt a bit. Just give me a second to charge up my horn...” The alicorn's long white horn began to glow, first white, then turning yellow as the light intensified and cast sharp, giant shadows of Twilight and Dustin on the walls. The glow reached out and touched them, then seemed to enfold and caress them. Part of them, anyway.
“AAAAAAAH!” said Dustin.
The glow vanished instantly, as did the pleasantly-distracted look on Princess Celestia's face. She looked at him crossly. “Stop being such a foal. Did it really hurt that much?”
“N-no,” Dustin said. “But it was very, very uncomfortable.”
“It tingled!” Twilight said.
“Well,” Celestia said, with a tiny, lady-like nicker, “that part wasn't the transformation spell, per se.”
Dustin trembled slightly. He finally lowered his head and looked between his hind legs.
“AAAAAAAH!” he said again.
“Ooh!” Twilight said, poking her head in beside his. “Will you look at that?”
Dustin jumped back from her and held his legs held closely together. “I can’t go out in public looking like THIS!” he pled with Celestia. “How am I even supposed to use that?”
“Stallions,” Celestia said. “Honestly. Duster, stand up straight. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to use it. And just remember, you’re a member –“ she snickered briefly – “ a member of the Royal Guards. If anypony gives you a hard time, what do you do?”
“Kick them in the face, ma’am,” Dustin recited unhappily. But it sounded like his heart wasn’t in it.
“That’s right!” she said. “Now accompany Miss Sparkle back to Ponyville and assist her with her studies. Vigorously. Have fun! Don’t forget to write. Twilight, that is. I look forward to your next report.”
Twilight and Dustin bowed and left the throne room, Twilight with an eager spring to her step, Dustin waddling awkwardly.
Three days later, they had returned, summoned by Celestia. Waiting for Celestia to address them, Twilight leaned forward anxiously, while Dustin stayed a step back and hung his head.
“Twilight. Dusty.” Celestia said. “What has been going on?”
“But, but, didn’t you get my Friendship and its Benefits reports? I sent two each day!”
“I received them,” Celestia said, with an odd look on her face. She looked to Dustin, as if he might have some explanation.
Dustin hung his head lower. “So... awkward,” he said.
She turned back to Twilight. “They were all completely illegible.”
“Oh!” Twilight said. “I was afraid of that. I remembered Kahnecolt and Tversky’s experiments showing the inaccuracy of eyewitness testimony after an event. So I wanted to record my reactions in the moment.”
“So. VERY. Awkward,” Dustin repeated.
“I see,” Celestia said. “Let’s get to the point. Do you understand now, Twilight, why I made the changes I did?”
“Oh, yes, your majesty!” Twilight said. “Sex is so much better with the larger reproductive organs you designed! The old design is harder to use, and not as much fun.”
Celestia smiled. “I’m glad you agree. Now, let’s super-size you two again.” Her horn glowed white once again.
Dustin immediately bent down to check. He jumped up happily. “THANK you THANK you THANK you! Now I can kick some faces again!”
“Aww,” Celestia said to Twilight. “They’re so cute when they get like that!” She cleared her throat. “Dusty!”
“Yes, your majesty!”
“Miss Sparkle has a long journey back to Ponyville. I fear it will be dark ere she returns. Please see her safely back home.” She winked at Twilight.
“With pleasure, your majesty!”
“Oh, and Dusty? I think you’ve earned the day off tomorrow. You too, Twilight. No reports for at least a week. That’s an order! Now get out of my throne room, you kids!”
Twilight and Dustin left the throne room again, and this time it was Dustin who walked with a spring in his step. Celestia chuckled softly to herself as she watched them go.
“Well. That was fun. Guards! Show in the next supplicant.”
The guards led in a large red earth pony with an orange mane. “Big MacIntosh, of Ponyville,” the page announced.
Big MacIntosh bowed low. He seemed a bit confused, and looked to Celestia, waiting for her to speak. But the seconds dragged on while Celestia simply gazed at him with one eyebrow raised.
“Ah wuz told yer majesty needed some plowin’ done?” he finally asked.
“Oh,” Celestia said, “yes.”
Some people have accused me of writing Author’s Notes just to pad my stories up to the minimum word count now required for posting on FimFiction. To that I say, in the immortal words of Louis Armstrong, “Skeep! Skipe! Skoop! Brip Ber Breep ber la bah Bree, heeb, bee doo, la do!”
If you like even shorter stories, check out my Pony Tales.