Twilight sneezed. Shivering, she wrapped the thick blanket around her body more tightly in an effort to ward off the chill of the night air. Soft lavender light emitted from her horn as a similar hue enveloped the telescope in front of her, and she adjusted it for what seemed like the umpteenth time that night. Levitating the mug at her side up to her lips to take a sip, she grimaced as she felt the now no-longer-hot chocolate slid down her throat. She was starting to regret using the top of a hill as her vantage point.
She began shuffling her hooves beneath her thick covering, both in an effort to keep warm and out of impatience. “It shouldn’t be much longer now,” she thought to herself. “It’s already past midnight. It should appear any minute now.” After a few more empty moments she let out an irritated huff and grasped a nearby large blue book in her magic and held it at an angle with which it would better catch the moonlight and thus be easier to read.
“Astronomical Astronomer’s Almanac to all thing Astronomy,” she read aloud off the cover before opening it and flipping to a well-read passage. Carefully, she read it again for the seventh time that night.
Despite its name, Ceario’s Harvest Star is not actually a star at all, but instead a rather unusual, and somewhat rare, astrological phenomenon. Named after its discoverer, the famous astrologer Ceario, Ceario’s Harvest Star is a bright object of an unknown nature sighted on occasion in the southern sky during very specific times of the fall season.
Very little is known about the object, by its very nature it is difficult to study. It only ever seems to appear during the autumn equinox, when the moon is highest in the sky. And even then, it is only visible for a short while. But perhaps strangest of all though, is for the short duration that it is in the sky, it emits a strange energy. This energy is unlike that of magic, gravity, magnetism, electricity, or any other known energy type. Some scientists believe that if the nature of this energy were to be discovered, it would dramatically increase our fundamental understanding of the universe around us.
Ceario’s Harvest Star appears most often around midnight of the autumn equinox, in the southern sky near the constellation Leo. As bright as a category three star, it usually lasts for approximately twelve to seventeen minutes. After it fades a meteor shower known as Ceario’s Harvest Shower has been known to occur.
Sighing, she closed the book with a dull thump, and gently tossed it to the side. Her head hanging low, she looked up to the sky with pleading eyes and thought to herself, “It’s already after midnight. Where is it?” Dis-heartened, she let out a sad whimper. After several more minutes of waiting, she sighed disappointedly and began to grudgingly stow away her supplies into her saddle-bags, when something caught her eye.
There, on the telescope. A single gauge seemed to be in a suspiciously odd position. Squinting her eyes, Twilight tapped the thin acrylic covering, and the needle began to spin wildly before settling in a ludicrous position. Eyes wide, she began to franticly adjust the angle of the telescope, only to note with dawning horror the gauge pointedly remained pointing the wrong way.
With a gasp, she rummaged through her possessions for her astrolabe. Holding it against the backdrop of the night sky, she used it as a reference to make the correct adjustments the telescope. Looking through the eye-piece, she found exactly what she was looking for both to her joy and dismay.
There, hanging in the sky like a shimmering orange topaz, was Ceario’s Harvest Star. And it was already fading. Even as she watched, the celestial object became dimmer and dimmer, eventually fading to black and becoming just another speck against the endless dark velvet of the night sky. Tears pricked at the corners of her eyes as her ears splayed back against her skull and she sniffled dejectedly.
Falling to her haunches, her bottom lip began to quiver as she thought to herself, “I missed it. All this time, all this waiting and I missed it. I was going to be the one to finally unlock the mysteries of Ceario’s Harvest Star! And I missed it, all because I was too stupid to notice a broken gauge in time.” Slowly, she took a deep, shuddering breath to calm herself. In silence, she dis-assembled her portable telescope and stored it in her bags along with the rest of her equipment. With slow hoofsteps and a heavy heart, she turned to make her way back to her library home when something caught her eye and made her stop walking.
There, originating from the same point in the sky as the missed opportunity for astrological discovery was a small flash of light. Intrigued, she turned to examine the area of the sky more closely. A few seconds later, a small streak of light shot from the same spot and speed towards the opposite horizon. Twilight’s eyes flew wide as she realized what she was seeing. “Ceario’s Harvest Shower,” she thought as she smacked a hoof to her forehead, “I almost forgot about it!”
Making her way back to the top of the hill for a better view, she sat down and observed the stellar light show. Brilliant streaks of light of every color shot, zoomed, zipped, and crossed the sky in every direction, always appearing from the same spot. The meteorites became increasingly frequent; eventually one would still be making its way through the air when the next would appear. Soon, the whole of the night sky looked as if it were some massive wheel, hundreds of radial spokes of light connecting the horizon to a single point of origin somewhere in the constellation of Leo. Sitting under the beautiful night spectacle, she couldn’t help but smile. “I guess tonight wasn’t really so bad,” she admitted to herself aloud.
It didn’t last forever though, after several minutes the rate at which the meteorites would fall became lower and lower. After twenty or so minutes, only one would fall every dozen or so seconds. After it seemed that the last meteorite had fallen, Twilight rose to her hooves to walk home once more, this time with a smile on her face.
She had made it half-way down the hill when she felt it. Involuntarily, her horn lit up brightly, and she a sharp tug shot through her mind hard enough to make her head to physically jerk to the side. There was a strange sort of static tingle in the air, one that was incredibly familiar and yet somehow completely alien. She had felt something like this on many occasions before, whenever she would cast a really powerful spell it would often leave a residual magic charge in the air, usually manifesting itself as an electric tingle and faint scent of ozone. This feeling was definitely similar, yet it was somehow fundamentally different. It felt more like large amounts of magic and some other kind of energy had been suddenly and violently ripped from the area. The sensation only lasted for split second in total; Twilight doubted that if she weren’t so magically adept she would have felt it at all.
Curiosity piqued, she turned to gaze in the general direction she had sensed the strange feeling coming from. To her surprise, she saw what looked like another shooting star, but something was very strange about it. For one, it was moving incredibly slowly, seeming to almost coast through the night sky. Instead of the usual off-white of the other meteorites this one was a golden color, almost radiantly bright. But most unusual of all though, was that it actually seemed to be getting bigger as it fell. Twilight stared at the strange object in open-mouthed wonder as it grew ever larger and came closer and closer to the horizon.
As it got bigger, she could see more details about it, like the string of golden flames it left across the sky in its wake. And then, to her amazement, Twilight realized something – the shooting star was falling. And not only that, but it was falling right towards her. Twilight mentally screamed at her legs to run but they wouldn’t respond, her entire body was locked still with panic.
And then, as if by some kind of divine miracle, when the stellar object was just a few hundred feet above the ground, its course veered sharply. In a matter of seconds, the meteorite made contact with the ground somewhere in the Everfree Forest with a small, hollow boom. Just as her franticly pounding heart slowed to a normal pace and she recovered from her fright, the same strange sensation rippled through the air again, causing her horn to light and her skin to tingle.
For a small while, she simply sat at the top of the hill, biting her lip indecisively. She wanted to run after the meteoroid and study it intently, but it had landed in the Everfree Forest and it was the middle of the night. She knew it was dangerous but she couldn’t help it; who knew what sort of secrets the fallen stone could hold! After a few more moments of indecision, another small wave of the strange static sensation shot briefly through the air, this time from the direction of the Everfree Forest.
That decided it for her. Without another thought, she rushed off to find what would assuredly be the most important scientific discovery she ever made.
Slowly and carefully, I crawled along the ground until I had made my way past the lip of the small crater I found myself in. For a while I just laid there, waiting for the agony of impact coursing through my body to fade. It felt as if my entire body was somehow being boiled, crushed, ripped, burned, and cut apart, all at the same time. It was a mildly unpleasant sensation.
After a while I was able to form some coherent thoughts and tried to stand, only to fall flat on my face and land on a flat outcropping of rock. I both felt and heard the sharp *crack* as my nose decided to try and be a hero and take the fall for the rest of my body. “OWW.”
It was then that I noticed the rather unusual state my body was in. Namely, that it was gone. Or, at least, my normal one was anyway. “Oh great,” I muttered, my face still in the dirt, “I’m a quadruped. Again.”
I definitely had one more pair of legs than I was used to. And my arms seemed to be missing as well. At least I hadn’t grown any extra appendages this time. With a shudder, I suppressed the unpleasant memories.
With excruciating slowness, I rose to all four legs and stood shakily as I tried to gain my balance. After a few minutes my knees stopped trembling beneath me enough for to take a step. Putting one foot in front of the other, I allowed my new bodies instincts to take over and soon enough I was completing a small circuit around the fresh crater.
Now that I had the whole “walking” thing down, I took the chance to take in my surroundings. I had landed somewhere in the middle of a forest, that much was clear. Large, ominous trees spread as far as I could see in every direction. Thick foliage covered the ground between their impressive trunks, chocking the ground save for a few small game-trails. It seemed I had landed in a rather large clearing, breaking away the thick canopy above it to let in the light of the crescent moon and stars. Other than this, there wasn’t much to see.
Next, I searched the immediate area for my Badge, which I seemed to have dropped on impact. It didn’t take me long to find it, and when I did I wasted no time in activating it. Flipping it open with my mouth, I was greeted with the usual display – my insignia up top, the symbol of the GEA below. “Jenny?” I inquired as I tapped the lower half.
--Yes, Special Agent Umbra?—
“Run a diagnostic scan. I want to see just what I look like and what the hell’s wrong with me.” No sooner had I spoken the words than did I become covered in a projection of a neon green wire-frame. A translucent wall of a similar color formed in the air in front of me, sweeping across my body and disappeared once it had touched every inch of me.
--Scan complete. Processing data……………. Processing is complete. Projecting three dimensional render of your new body now, Agent Umbra—
The green grid lines covering me faded away as a semi-transparent figure appeared in the space above my Badge and began to slowly rotate. The hologram produced its own light, and even though it was the rather dark outside, I could still easily make out all of the details.
The first thing I noticed was the most blaringly obvious thing about me: I’m a damn pony. But not just any kind of pony, a freakish, cuddly, adorable, cartoon pony. Like, giant eyes and everything. Hell, I had a freaking outline. That just wasn’t normal. I sighed in exasperation. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though, the Director did explain that they were the primary sentient life-form in this world.
The next thing I noticed was just what kind of pony I was: the large, curved horn jutting from my forehead made it pretty obvious. I reached up and tapped it with one of my hooves. It was kind of soft, velvety almost, but still strong and sharp. The weirdest part though was that I could actually feel with it. It was kind of sensitive actually, almost like a big finger.
After that I saw more of the details of my body. All of my skin had been covered in a light tan colored coat of short fur, stretching from the tip of my muzzle all way down to my hooves, which an ashen gray color. My long hair had been replaced by an even longer mane, still styled in its usual pony-tail (I couldn’t help but snicker at the new double meaning to word) and curling around the left side of my neck to rest on my chest. It at least had retained its normal dark-brown-nearly-black color, but I had grown a matching tail.
My (devilishly handsome) beard was still in its place, as was my ever-present toothpick (how I managed to hold on to it during the fall I have no idea) and my black rimmed glasses, which had miraculously survived the impact. My various bracelets, rings, and necklaces however, had been transformed into two separate earrings on my left ear.
The last thing I saw gave me pause. Pointing to the flanks of the projection, I asked, “Um, why the hell do I have a tattoo on my ass?” Sure enough, my personal insignia could be seen on either side of my rump in big, bold, black lines.
--Analysis indicates that it is what is locally known as a “Cutie Mark”. A distinctive mark every child of the species receives when they discover their life’s calling. Lack of this “Cutie Mark” would have raised suspicion—
“Oh,” I said, blinking from just how ridiculous such a thing was, “well then. Anyways, please display the damage assessment as an overlay now.”
Several sections of the projection took on an orange or red glow, and small lines of text appeared next to arrows indicating specific points on my body. I took one look at it and cringed. No wonder I felt like I got hit by a truck. “Activate the Regeneration Matrix,” I commanded.
In response, the floating pony projection faded away as a large, glowing blue circle of light appeared on the ground in front me.
--Regeneration Matrix activated—
Gingerly, I stepped into the lit portion of grass. A soft blue glow crept up my limbs, spreading across my entire body as the matrix did its job. The various aches and pains that had persisted through the entirety of my time here were slowly pushed away, replaced with a pleasant warmth in my bones. After a brief bout of discomfort when the bones in my nose readjusted themselves I let out a contented sigh as the process finished. The blue light faded away as my Badge spoke again.
--Regeneration complete. Deactivating matrix—
--Records indicate an Alpha-Omega anomaly of unknown origins was detected approximately 1.35872 miles south by south-west of your current location—
Without another word, I trotted off into the night-time brush, eager to get my latest adventure underway.
I didn’t know it at the time, but it was to be my greatest adventure yet.