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Footsteps crunched on the ground as the pair entered the Everfree. Star Swirl entered first, wearing protective gear that seemed oddly reminiscent of old-fashioned barding. Behind her, Rumble walked in, gun held at the ready. Because he wasn’t on duty, he couldn’t use his field gear and had to convince Star to gen up some acceptable replacements; at the moment, he was decked in “hunting attire” reminiscent of the US Marine Corps’ MARPAT uniform and was armed with a Ruger SR-556P with the secondary shot modification and an HS Produkt HS2000E as a backup weapon. He’d insisted that she carry something as well, but she looked at him and replied that she had everything she needed this time, thanks.
It wasn’t until her cape moved just so that Rumble noticed the magical sword at her side, radiating with enough power to be a uranium rod. “You know how to use that?” he asked.
She grinned cockily. “Yeah. Sweetie taught me, obviously; plus, I went through a phase where I got interested in Japanese drama cartoons – anime, if you’re familiar with the term – and learned a bit of the Japanese sword style. I’ve found that while sparring with ponies who are rigidly used to the Equestriani, Grifonican and Zebrabawean styles, that it comes in handy. I’ve been meaning to spar with an Inarijin onmyōji to see how similar the styles are to Japanese, but I haven’t really had the chance.”
“I see,” he said, a grin on his face. “How far until we’re there?”
“About a quarter mile more. You sure you going to handle it walking upright like that? That looks hella painful, if you ask me,” Star replied. “I know we’re supposed to go upright while on Earth, but there’s walking on flat ground and then there’s traipsing through the Everfree.”
Rumble just smiled. “We train with the humans in all their styles and in all their methods, which includes running for miles. This might sound hard to believe, but at their peak, humans can run longer distances than we can.”
The pegasus nodded. “It surprised me. I mean, yeah, they’re way more technologically advanced than ponydom is, and that’s what the average pony knows about humans, but it was seeing their endurance while I was attending their special warfare training that I saw that they can be pretty tough. I’ll admit that it inspired me since I’m obviously not an earth pony and most special forces are either that or heavily-trained unicorns, and worked my way to my current sp—” He suddenly paused and held up a hoof in front of his mouth. Then, the extensories of his hoof began moving and wiggling in some sort of strange code that she had no idea the meaning of.
“What are you—” she began before he clamped a hoof over her mouth.
“Heard something, one-fife-oh mikes out,” he whispered to her. “Can you create a magical communication circuit?” She nodded and he let go.
「Okay, what the hell is going on?」 Star asked, sending her response over the mental link.
「Heard something one-fi…I mean, 150 meters, out,」Rumble explained; when she stared at him with incomprehension, he amended to,「Uh, that’s about 160 yards or so. In any case, whatever it is, it’s big enough to rustle the whole of the area. You’ll want to be careful.」
「Careful of what?」
With a grim look on his face, Rumble brought the carbine to bear; Star could barely hear the slide of the safety coming off. 「Careful that you can identify it as safe before I put a bullet through its eyes,」he replied starkly.
6d, 15hJust a Thought...8 comments · 101 views
Wouldn't it be nice if all the authors who abandoned their stories and never came back did that just to let you know that they did so?
Reorganizing my stories right now and I've probably got about 100 stories that never have been continued in a year or more, and out of those, only four went on hiatus and only two outright cancelled.
2w, 10hWe're Approaching a Milestone14 comments · 137 views
I never thought this would happen, but I have you all to thank.
As of right now, All-American Girl is approaching 1000 faves, and I'm speechless. I really am.
That being said, I've got something special in mind. More later.
2 comments · 173 views
Yup, IKEA Sexytimes is in full effect!
Something didn’t feel right. Sitting at her desk in the Tokyo bureau of her network, Nicole St. Germain just felt…off about that interview she just did with DJ Martinez. She really couldn’t put her finger on it, and with a week left to go before broadcast, she went to talk to someone about it, someone who might be able to give her a better perspective on things: Ray Kitano. The network leased their Tokyo Bureau offices from the headquarters of Fuji Television, and such she had easy access to Ray. As for Ray himself, he was a Fresno-born Japanese-American who spent time working in the wilds of rural California local news stations before he’d had the luck to be hired by Fuji TV as their analyst on American issues as well as the current anchor of their Sunday morning news program Inside America. They’d met back when they were both reporters for KHSL in Chico, California when she was a college student and he was the senior reporter there; as a result, he was an old friend she could trust to give her the straight news while not beating down on her.
So down she went from her office on the 7th floor to his on the 3rd, looking for his office in the labyrinthine forest of desks and such until she came across KITANO, Rei engraved on a plaque on the wall. Technically “Rei” was his first name, but he preferred the English spelling; however, his paycheck dictated otherwise, so the Japanese stuck with that. As she knocked, he called out in Japanese for the knocker to come in and so she did.
He was seated at his desk, looking over some documents on his computer when she came in. “Oh, heya, Cole. What’s up?”
“Need a bit of advice,” she said as she dropped into the seat in front of him. “That interview I was telling you about the other day, the one with the pony raised with humans—”
“See?” he said, his smile wide enough to set off the crow’s-feet near his eyes. “Did I not tell you getting the US Forces base passes would be invaluable?”
“Yeah, and I seriously owe you one for that – turns out after Kramer left, I was the only one who had them,” she said with a grin. “But, now that I’ve done the interview, something’s bothering me. Something I can’t quite put my finger on.”
“Something that you think will cause the heads in New York to kill the story?”
“I was already told they won’t kill it. We got an exclusive with DJ, so to kill something this big would be just inviting the competition to sweep in.” She leaned forward on the desk. “It’s just personal curiosity.”
Ray rolled his eyes. “Cole, I know that look. Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time you had ‘personal curiosity’?”
“Sure did – got the Emmy for local television reporting on catching that serial killer, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t kept obsessing over that picture of bubble gum constantly. Even though you told me not to.”
He laughed, shrugging. “Okay, point. So, what’s the worry now?”
“Just…something about the story. I really can’t put my finger on it. DJ – she’s a nice person, and she’s also a very fascinating one that would rather not be, but…something about the story. Just irks me.”
“You think she was lying to you?”
“No. In fact, she was very straightforward with me in a way that every reporter wishes every interview was like.”
“So that’s what’s bothering you, then,” he asked, looking briefly back at his computer. “The fact that she was open and prepped, unlike just about every other interview out there.”
Nicole nodded. “You got it.”
“I take it you want me to look at the footage,” he said.
“If you would. It’s on my personal server. You know the address. The folder is ‘Martinez interview’, and the footage is the only thing in it.”
“It’ll take me a couple of days to get to it,” he commented. “I’m going to be out of town for the rest of the week as part of the G-8 summit down in Osaka; it should be interesting as it’s Equestria’s formal entry into the group; I wonder how long it’ll take for people to start calling it the G-9. Regardless, though, I’ll get to you first thing next week. Will that work?”
She leaned back in her chair, feeling much better now. “Yeah, very much. I appreciate this, Ray.”
“Enough so that you owe me a beer. I’ll see you later; I’ve got to be on the air in fifteen minutes and need to prep.”
She grinned. “Great big frosty Asahi first chance we get. Promise.”
It was two weeks later when he called her. “Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, but after watching it, something bothered me as well, so I had a friend at UCSF watch it – he’s a psychologist, so he’s agreed to keep this under wraps; he said he also watched the final version that was broadcast on TV and had questions of his own. In any case, what he told me you might find interesting. Do you have time to meet?”
“Sure, I haven’t had lunch yet.”
“Okay, then let’s meet at the usual spot on the Ginza.”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea: the owners adopted a pony themselves, and that filly just adores DJ – if she hears anything negative, that just might break her heart. I think we might want to pick somewhere else.”
“Okay, there’s a café in the Tokyo International Center, just outside the entrance to Tokyo Station, about a block north of Yūrakuchō. Meet you there, say, in an hour?”
“Deal. See you then.”
The café was much different than the one she was used to, but it was a better choice in the long run. Unlike the other, which seemed to marry Japanese and French aesthetics, this one had a more generic, IKEA look to it, likely because it was busier due to its location just outside the entrance to Tokyo station and so the owner didn’t have much time to significantly remodel. She noticed Ray at a table by the back of the café, and she went to sit down.
Briefly giving her order to the waitress that came up to them, she then looked at him. “Okay, you’ve got my attention.”
Ray set down his coffee and gave her his most studious look. “How much do you know about mythomania?”
“Never heard of it,” Nicole said. From the way Ray started the conversation, it couldn’t be good.
“Okay, you know what a pathological liar is, right?”
Nicole looked at him oddly. “Look, DJ clearly had PTSD, but she wasn’t a pathological liar. I’ve dealt with enough of those, so I know them when I see them, and I can say she isn’t.”
“I didn’t say she was,” he said. “But according to my friend, in addition to everything else, she’s got involuntary pseudologia fantastica, better known by its old name, mythomania; at least that’s his guess based on the 'eyeball view' since he’d actually need to sit down with her to make any kind of finalized determination. Anyway, Chris – Dr. Hickins, the Dean of the Psychology and Psychiatric Studies Division over at UCSF – explained it this way: pseudologia fantastica has two different varieties: involuntary, which is mythomania; and acute, which is pathological lying. In short, she’s lying, but she actually believes those lies.”
“Okay, that’s the weirdest thing I’ve heard all day – and my current assignment’s on a sumo wrestler who wants to try to be a ballet dancer,” she said with a brief smile.
“Okay, what if I were to tell you repeatedly that I was the secret son of Emperor Hirohito, from his marriage to my mother?”
“Well, I’d know that’d be BS – you told me your parents were both teachers in Redding.”
“So it’s easy enough to prove my real parentage despite my lies. That’s what acute pseudologia fantastica – pathological lying – is. The ‘victim’, so to speak, is addicted to lying; he knows he’s going to get caught, but doesn’t care because he’s so used to lying, it’s habitual. But a mythomaniac would be as if the above occurred, but every time you proved it I was incensed by your quote, unquote ‘lies’, because I actually believe I’m a Japanese prince. Mythomaniacs aren’t really telling lies, in a sense, because they actually believe it’s true even if the real truth is otherwise. They’re not addicted to lying, unlike their acute PF counterparts, because they’re supposedly telling the truth.”
“So, subjective truth at the personal level?”
“Exactly. Think about it: you probably couldn’t remember what you had for lunch this time last month. Even people with so-called ‘photographic memory’ can’t remember everything in their lives. The human brain just doesn’t work that way, and I’m willing to bet pony ones don’t either – and in any case, she’s got a human mindset, so the former would likely apply more. And yet she recalled the past thirty-five years of her life with precise memory, with the exception of her arrival on Earth and some other minor moments.”
“So you’re telling me that instead of telling me her life story—”
“—she was telling you a story about her life, yes. And if that isn’t enough, let me add these extra facts Chris gave me. Creative types are at higher risk for becoming mythomaniacs than the regular population – and she’s a writer, as are her adoptive parents; and from the interviews with her parents and husband – I got those from Max, by the way – her biological mother is a creative type as well. Women are also at greater risk of mythomania, and while the study was done in the early 2000s and Ms. Martinez is not a human, she has a human mindset, so Chris believes it applies. Lastly, when you mentioned the PTSD, he said that vastly increases the risk of other mental issues, mythomania being one of those.”
“Is there proof?”
“Oh, is there. I called in a favor from Fuji’s White House correspondent, Okada Misako, and she went and did the digging for me. Martinez said the family had a Korean Jindo that she cried over when the dog died when Martinez was 14. Except…that isn’t what the record says. Okada got a hold of the people who own the Vet clinic now – apparently Dr. Hilton sold it when he started developing equiniatric medicine – and the Martinez family had a St. Bernard named Monolith, or “Monty” for short, that died on September 8th, 2026. The Martinez family later owned a Korean Jindo named Baekgu, but they didn’t buy that dog until 2031 – after DJ Martinez had moved to Los Angeles to attend college.”
“But why lie about something like that?”
“Because she didn’t lie – not in her mind. She remembers a loving, faithful dog, and Jindos are known for their loyalty. With the dog being a stranger to the US – Jindos are an extremely rare breed outside of Korea – and being a stranger herself, she just ‘remembered’ about her loyal childhood friend and conflated the two.”
Nicole sat and drank her coffee in utter shock. How much of her interview was now invalid? How many lies were about to be broadcast in front of an international audience, even if DJ hadn’t intended that?
Ray saw that look and sympathized. “So, are you thinking of a follow-up story?”
“Honestly? I don’t know. On one hand, if I don’t, it will have a serious impact on my career if this gets out. On the other hand, DJ has clearly been through some serious crap in her life and the least thing she needs is to be dragged through it even more. If she’s got PTSD and this mythomania? She needs counseling, not demonization.”
“Glad to see you haven’t lost the caring side, Cole – too many reporters only care about the words on the screen, not the people behind them.” He pulled out a small notebook, and then scribbled something into it before tearing off the sheet and handing it to her. “This is the email for Devon Barrett, a journalist at the BBC. He was one of only a handful of humans in Equestria covering the trial and he might be able to help you.”
“Because interviewing her birth family will give their side of the story and just make it a “he said/she said.” Nicole commented, figuring out Ray’s unspoken suggestion.
“Exactly,” Ray said, snapping his fingers in excitement. “Plus, by having both sides, you get another exclusive and you get to keep the bad stuff under wraps. Your job’s safe, her dignity’s safe and when you get a chance, then you can suggest to someone about getting help for her. Maybe her husband; from his interview, he seems like he’s very level-headed.”
A week went by before she’d heard a response from Barrett. He sent a copy of all his files and a brief recording of what he remembered, along with a note of sympathy for her – he’d had a friend who was drummed out of the Beeb for interviewing a pathological liar and it had cost the reporter his job for lack of following up, he’d said. But it was the last item that counted the most: an email for a pony named Newsbeat who was the Tokyo correspondent for the Equestria Daily, the largest newspaper in that country.
She emailed him and explained her situation; he, in turn said he’d watched it via satellite news and spotted the discrepancies instantly. They agreed to meet over lunch; he had an apartment on Tokyo Teleport Island and that was just down the street from the Fuji TV building. They decided to meet in a café just across the street from the Tokyo Big Sight and Nicole was treated at first to a comical sight: Newsbeat very much reminded her of one of those hardboiled newspaper reporters from the heyday of newspapers back in the 1940s, a century past. Showing up with a fedora, rumpled suit with loosened tie and a need for straight black Joe, the unicorn stallion however turned out to be as informative and serious at his job as those same reporters of that bygone age.
“Yeah, I saw the lies the moment I watched it – plain as day to anyone who knows what they’re looking for. Mythomania? Naah, I don’t buy that. Sure, I’m certain there’s something wrong with that mare, plain as the muzzle on her face! And! And maybe…maybe she’s got a case of involuntary pseudologia fantastica, but it’s more to it than that. Look in her eyes, the part at 2:06:54. It’s there just for a second – just for a blink – that’s not mythowhatever, that’s just raw hatred.”
Nicole looked at her tablet and ran the time; she recognized it as a point where she’d taken her eyes off DJ. “That’s not…directed at me, is it?”
Newsbeat nickered slightly. “Oh, naah. She likes you, that’s obvious – she wouldn’t have been as open if she didn’t. She had a story to tell, and whether it was her story or a story about her, it was clear that she was going to get it off her barrel, but she needed the right person and you were it. Take someone like Nick Travers over at CNN, Tyrone Campbell at Fox News, or Dana Sterling over at MSNBC – you think any of those high-profile blowhards are gonna get anything out of that filly? I don’t think so; seems to me like she wouldn’t raise a hoof for them. But you, mare, you got the magic touch like you were an alicorn or something.”
“Thanks,” Nicole said. That was a compliment. I think.
“Honestly, I’m just hopin’ that ain’t directed at Luse and his,” he said, glumly.
Newsbeat shrugged goodnaturedly. “Well…since disclosure is disclosure, I got a confession: one of my good friends is Luse – Elusive, her younger brother. We met in college when we both went to Royal Manehattan U. and we keep in touch often. Married an Apple, good folks them. Then again, heh, so did I – you can’t go anywhere in Equestria without running into someone from that huge-flank clan.” Newsbeat took another drink from his coffee, and then continued. “Luse’s probably the most normal of his family: his mom’s a government bigwig, his dad’s a no-nonsense go-Army type, and then there’s Minty – oh, that mare’s got some serious issues of her own. It’s amazing Luse is as normal as he is, but I’m guessing that’s due to that small army of mares he’s got for aunts. Then again, if I were related to all six Bearers and three princesses, I’d probably make sure I flew straighter than Commander Hurricane, too.”
“I hate to impose, but would it be possible to meet with Luse…I mean, Elusive?”
“Figured you were going to get to that. Well, I’ll put in a good word for you, but obviously I can’t promise anything. Let me see what I can do.” He checked his watch and got up from the table. “Now, I hate to run off, but I’ve got a 1:30 with Maeda Aiko regarding her upcoming album with DJ P0N-3. Personally, I hate working with celebs, but…news is what it is.” Giving a friendly wave, he took off towards the nearby train station.
She finished her own coffee before departing. That had to be one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had with a colleague.
The reply came unexpectedly quick. Nicole had just stepped out of the shower after a long day of her own work – next time a sumo wrestler wants to demonstrate he can do Swan Lake in front of you? Wear earthquake-proof clothing – and was looking forward to dinner, curling up with a good book for a couple of hours and then some well-deserved sleep.
But as she stepped out of her bedroom in her apartment in Suganami, a flash of light suddenly appeared, startling her. The light-blue flash turned into wisps of flame the same color as ash appeared, the ash turning into paper. A scent of vanilla filled the air as the spell completed, turning into a scroll tied with a dark blue ribbon and a golden wax seal. As it landed in her hand, it still felt warm to the touch. Nicole undid the bindings and opened the scroll, a slight smile coming to her face: she’d gotten responses from others many a time in many a fashion, but magically-transported letters were something very new.
Dear Ms. St. Germain,
I just received word from Newsbeat regarding your request. I would like to say that I would be delighted to meet with you; it would also give me a chance to visit my old friend, who’s been insisting for quite some time that my wife and I should come to visit him and my sister-in-law – our wives are sisters, in case he hadn’t mentioned that.
As soon as I arrive in Japan I’ll contact you more directly so we can set up a time. I only ask two things: one, that you not tell DJ about this, as I don’t wish to upset her further; and two, that this be off-the-record, as I’d rather my family history not be raked over the coals once more – DJ’s rather colorful interview was shown on EqTV yesterday and it was, as the news presenters here said, very controversial.
I look forward to seeing you.
- Elusive, Count Lusitano
Another week went by before Nicole got the message: dinner at ANCHORS at the Tokyo DECKS complex, also located not far from work. It was a somewhat expensive restaurant – they’d held Kramer’s retirement there mid-last year – and one where the well-heeled usually went to. A cute little Japanese take on an Italian trattoria, the food was nice and the wine list was good as well – though some of the more exotic dishes on the menu, such as octopus ink pasta with sake-marinated squid, she was never going to get used to.
As she walked in, she noticed dozens of people eating there, enjoying the food and company. Nearly all of them were Japanese, of course, with a smattering of various foreigners here and there. But the truly interesting thing was the four ponies sitting at the table…and no one paying them any heed. Outside of the Anglosphere nations, Japan was the place ponies were most likely found and strangely found themselves very comfortable here.
As she walked towards them, she noticed how comfortable Newsbeat and his wife were in living the human lifestyle; the unicorn reporter was relaxed in a simple black t-shirt and jeans, while his wife Applewine was in a very nice sundress. On the other end, sadly, the other mare, Apple Butter, looked completely miserable in clothing; Nicole later found out it was because Apple Butter was pregnant and approaching the fourth quarter of her pregnancy; it was also exacerbated by the fact that she was carrying twins, a rarity for ponies.
But it was Elusive that proved to be the most intriguing. For starters, Nicole could see that DJ’s brother was very much like she described Rarity. It was clear the apple didn’t fall far from the tree: decked out in a tastefully chosen dark gray polo and ecru slacks with slate boatshoes and matching belt, Elusive clearly had inherited his mother’s fashion flair. He had a certain charm and wit about him and Nicole had little doubt that he charmed mares as easily as he could have charmed women had he been human; he probably could charm ones like her just as easily, truth be told.
The moment she was within feet of the table, Elusive was on his hindlegs, offering his forehoof. The action was, from the few ponies she’d reacted with prior, unusual and if anything reminded her of Elusive’s sister. “Ms. St. Germain, a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for taking the time to come – and, if I might be frank, thanks for keeping this under wraps.”
“This is all merely follow-up, your grace, nothing more.”
He waved off the title. “Please, either Elusive or Luse – I’m not hung up on heraldry.”
“Please, just call me either Nicole or Cole.”
As the four talked, it was interesting to see how little difference there was between everyday pony life and the human world. Yes, ponies had a culture shock of trying to catch up after being essentially decades to centuries behind in technology in many cases, but much of that technology hadn’t been developed because of magic; indeed, in many specialized cases, the tools and resources were comparable to current human gear. But it was societally that ponies had a long way to go. Twenty years in after formal first contact, pony society had gone a long way towards accepting humans as just another sapient species and not the mythic monsters of nightmares, but they had much of a way to go before they were as comfortable as, say, the gryphons, who had taken to human-Earth like a duck to water.
“However, one thing I noticed, quite curiously, is the number of human males who are dating pony females. My sister, having lived her life in no other way, is obviously understandable as is Ambassador Phillips, who had always insisted humans were as you are and not as we feared them to be, so it was natural she would end up with one as well. But others? We’ve always had an overage of mares – our population is 1.7 mares for every stallion, while your male-to-female ratio is almost exactly 1:1 – but more and more mares are starting to move to Earth to find husbands amongst the human population. I know DJ would rather live a quiet life, but it’s very ironic that her attempt to do so resulted in her becoming a trendsetter.”
Nicole leaned forward, whenever she had pointed questions, but then backed off; she’d agreed this was for personal reasons only, not an outright interview. “I notice you call her DJ instead of Sandalwood. I was under the impression that everyone on Alter-Earth still called her by her birth name.”
Elusive shook his head. “Yes and no. Neither Aunt Twilight nor Aunt Sweetie do; they rarely bring up the name. Most of the others alternate between it depending on context. I think Aunt Bloomie, Aunt Rainbow and Aunt Scoots tend to use her birth name the most. As you’ve seen from the interview, she is correct in that my parents and sister don’t talk about her at all anymore and as for me, she was very comfortable with her human name and not her birth one, so it would be unfair of me to force something on her that she didn’t want.”
“So what did you think of the interview?”
“Well, Ah reckon y’ we’re lookin’ mighty smart in yer handlin’ o’ th’ interview,” Apple Butter spoke, shifting slightly due to her pregnancy.
“Thanks, Apple Butter. But I notice you’re being quiet, Elusive.”
The unicorn was silent for a long time, resting his muzzle on his forehooves in much the same way a human would do so with their head on templed fingers. “Truthfully, Cole? I don’t know what to think. I was only seven years old the last time I saw her so I don’t remember much, but what I do remember is the fighting. I remember my mother, just so very hurt and sad; she cried for days after the, ah, ‘visit’, and my father, well…he was never really one to be emotive, so even today he’s still bottled them up. As for Minty, I think she’s been jealous of DJ since day one. With DJ not having existed in our lives for the first fifteen years, a lot of those parental expectations were shifted to Minty. Yet at the same time, strangely enough, we follow Spock’s Rule of Three.”
“I don’t recall hearing about that in Star Trek,” Nicole mused.
“I was referring to the pediatrician – Dr. Benjamin Spock. The rule of three is as such: if there are multiple children in the family, the oldest child will be given too little attention and in many ways, be forced to fend for him- or herself. The middle one will be given too much attention and will drown in it. The third and subsequent children will have normalized, healthy lives. DJ, the oldest, has had to figure out who she is with nearly her entire foalhood and teen years as an unknown alien alone on a world she didn’t belong to – tell me that’s not the first child in action. Meanwhile, Minty has had to bear the responsibilities of her own birth as well as being the de facto oldest, an extra amount of attention that fits the second. As for myself, well, after losing their first and overburdening the second, I think my parents figured out how to raise me correctly – not that I have any right to question how Mother and Father raised Minty.
“I know DJ is lying about what she saw. But she’s lying because that’s all she saw…and that is her only truth. She never saw Mother go through the years of pain that all my other aunts said they saw, watching Mother and Father cling to each final hope. Did you know that had Aunt Pinkie not made a miscalculation that day – she says she tried to divide by zero – we would not have found this world? Had that not happened, we never would have found her, and I once overheard Aunt Celestia tell Aunt Twilight that she would have pushed to have Sandalwood declared officially dead by the end of that year. Our family couldn’t take the strain much longer. Fortunately, that is now moot.”
“Does DJ know about that?”
“No, I don’t think she does, and I don’t think Aunt Twilight nor Aunt Sweetie Belle would ever bring it up. You see, all my sister sees, rightly or wrongly, is that reconciliation with her birth parents is tantamount to capitulation and the need to disavow everypony…sorry, everyone and everything she’s ever loved. She loves her adoptive parents and that’s obvious, just as it’s obvious that she wasn’t just raised as a dress-up pet. No one would ever go the distance like that if they weren’t fighting for their foal…sorry, child – my apologies, I tend to mix the two forms.”
“That’s okay; I think we do on this side as well.”
Elusive sipped from his wine glass and then continued. “At the same time, I think Mother seems to think that it’s necessary for DJ to ‘find her true self,’ as it were. Mother has to realize that DJ already has – she is not a pony, not on the inside. In her mind and heart, where it counts, she’s no less human than you. But DJ has to realize that on the outside, she is as much a pony as I and that body had to come from somewhere.”
Nicole leaned back and emptied her glass; Elusive, ever the gentlestallion, refilled. “Forgive me for presuming, but it seems as though you’ve given it a lot of thought.”
“I have. I’ve also talked often with Aunt Sweetie Belle – she feels my mother had too much undue influence on Minty, which is why even if DJ makes up with my parents, that gulf may never be bridgeable. But my aunt also insisted I think things through rather than just take her opinion, and I’ve had time to formulate that. In a few months, I’ll be a father. My oldest sister is the mother of two quite extraordinary children in the history of both your race and mine – and the way things are, Mother and Father will never know those children. If it were me, I could never countenance that. And I’d like to see my sister overcome those fears, and I’d like to see the same with my parents. In the end, if I may be so bold, mother and daughter aren’t really as different as they seem to be.”
“So, sugarcube,” Apple Butter said, “y’d like t’ have our kids know their aunt, and she know ours. Ah reckoned there’s a reason Ah love ya.” She stretched forward with difficulty to nuzzle her husband, and other than the gesture, Nicole could easily see such a moment between Elusive’s parents, or DJ and her husband.
“Cole, I would very much appreciate it if you did something for me,” Elusive broached.
“When you see her again, please tell DJ that I would like to get to know her. That I bear no ill-will towards her, and I would very much love to get to know the older sister my aunts are so proud of. That I would like her to know my children. She doesn’t even have to make up with my parents; I hold no condition like that on her. But even if they don’t wish to acknowledge her, even if Minty would go the rest of her life without knowing her, I cannot do so and would not do that disservice to my unborn colts.”
He nodded. “That technology from this Earth – ultrasound? It’s going to be revolutionary in pre-natal care, I can assure you.”
“I’ll be glad to.”
The rest of the night was spent just breezily chatting. Elusive, surprisingly, had a thriving jewelry business and many of his creations were now appearing in human stores. He was also quite the shrewd businesspony, talking about various stocks on both Earths and dispensing advice. He especially found touching DJ’s interaction with Tsubasa; he found her generosity towards the younger pony to be very much like his mother, who was the virtual avatar of generosity on their world.
Finally, the restaurant had to close. Elusive and Nicole traded business cards, in the event that they needed to contact one another. As they parted, Elusive said, “You know I’m glad my sister has a friend like you.”
“1:38:06 – look it up on the interview. There’s a look there that says even with her parents’ love, her husband’s love and her foals’, that despite all her kith and kin, she feels all alone in the universe. With the people that she described, our family and you, someday she’ll realize that she’s never really been.”
Nicole didn’t know what to say to that, so she simply bid the ponies a good evening and headed towards the train. Tomorrow would be another day. Plus, she was going to have to figure out how she was going to explain all of this to DJ, anyway.
“Hey, DJ? Cole St. Germain from CBS. How goes?”
“Oh, hi! Haven’t heard from you in a couple of weeks. Earn that Pulitzer for my interview yet?”
“No, mainly because they don’t give out Pulitzers for television news – that’s what the Emmys are for, and yes, I already have one of those.”
“That’s great! Meanwhile, here on base, they showed it on AFRTS. I have to thank you; whoever did the editing managed to make me look like I’m not a total drooling idiot.” DJ laughed on the other end. “So what’s up?”
How do I tell you the brother you never knew wants to meet you? she asked herself. She was quiet for a few more moments before she gave a response – a lie. “Uh, I ran into Tsubasa yesterday. She wanted to know if I could get a hold of you. She, uh, needs advice. I think it’s guy problems this time.”
“I’m surprised – she could have just asked you; guys are guys are guys, after all.”
“True, but I think she probably should hear it from you anyway, if only just to avoid the same mistakes you did – if only so she can make all new ones.” Sorry, Luse – I’ll find some way to tell her. I promise, she said to herself as she and DJ set up a time when both could be there for the teen pegasus.