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I had all four legs tucked underneath me, and looked out the window, watching the scenery go by, and looking at my reflection. Or trying to, at least. My eyesight was no better, and possibly worse, than it had been when I'd been human - somewhere north of 600/20. Anything more than fifteen, twenty centimetres from my eyes started getting blurry - and even if I knew how to read Equestrian ideographs, I couldn't tell them apart even on the train station's big signs. I hoped it was just a matter of my eye's lenses, which could be fixed with glasses - and that it wasn't something more fundamental, such as my brain's optic centre no longer having the ability to resolve fine visual detail.
Even though I still thought of myself as me, changes to my brain were far from being impossible. I was pretty sure that my head wasn't shaped anywhere near a human's - the horns alone would do that. But as further proof - there was my tail. I turned my head to look back along my body, and swung my new appendage left and right a few times. I could feel it just fine, and could move it - so the sensory and motor homunculi in my brain had to have been tweaked to do that. What other changes might have been made to my mind... were disturbing to think about.
And that was only the start of the issues I had to think of. I was - or had been - an atheist, for the simple reason that I'd investigated the various religions, and hadn't found a single piece of evidence that anything supernatural at all existed, let alone any given faith's particular version of it. I tried to apply the same skills of rationality and critical thinking to that area as to any other - and so I'd worked out some pieces of evidence which would convince me that I was very likely wrong about nothing supernatural existing. One of my favorite examples went along the lines that many religions claimed that it was possible to heal injury and disease; but there were also many people who would cheerfully or unwittingly claim something was such a healing which wasn't. So I would want to see something fairly definitive, such as a limb being regrown; and I would want to experience it directly, to avoid all those potentially misled or misleading middlemen. And since I didn't want to have one of my own limbs hacked off just to see whether or not someone could miraculously grow it back... I proposed that if I ever grew a nice, long tail, I would be entirely willing to reconsider my position on the matter.
My tail wasn't exactly long, but it was as firmly there as the rest of me.
I waved it back and forth again, and as it brushed against my hind end... I might as well face up to another aspect of my change. I was about as female as it was possible to be - the rather large, fleshy protuberence hanging between my hindlegs being about as un-male an organ as existed. I could get raped. I could get pregnant. I could die of pregnancy-related complications. Not to mention I could still catch rather embarrassing STDs. So if I really did want to keep on working on my plan to live forever, with minimal risk... I was going to have to stay chaste. (Or was that celibate? I always got the two mixed up.) And to make sure that I avoided impaired judgment and reduced inhibitations which might lead me to break that - I'd have to stick to being a teetotaler, with no alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants.
And all of that was besides the point, if I didn't figure out some rather important basic aspects about reality. There seemed to be four main possibilities. In decreasing order of how probable I thought they were:
One, that my memories of being a human were true, and my present experience of being a cow wasn't. Dream, hallucination, coma-induced nightmare, what-have-you.
Two, my memories of humanity were false, and my experience of a cow's life was true. That I'd been bonked on the head or something a couple of days ago, and got some wires crossed. This was the option I'd described to Twilight Sparkle, without getting into too much detail about what my jiggered memories actually consisted of.
Three, that both my memories and my current experience were false. Call this the Matrix option - maybe some hacker had fiddled with a few entries in a database, and accidentally swapped my consciousness from one illusionary world to another.
And four... that both memories and experience were true. That I really had been a human, and really was now a cow.
Now that I was finally looking at all of these head-on... did they do me any good? What predictions did any of them make about experiences I could anticipate, and how did those predictions differ from each other? What tests could I do to tell which, if any, were actually true?
The dream option was pretty useless for prediction. Any dream could be entirely consistent with any given set of rules of reality; if this option was what was really going on, there didn't seem any way to tell. Might as well table this one for the duration, then. Similarly, the Matrix option didn't really give me any handles to work with - the rules of reality might stay the same, or they might change, or who-knows-what could happen. Stick this one on the backburner, too.
But the other two... those two options did differ in one important aspect. If my memories of life as a human were the result of brain malfunction, then it seemed likely that putting those memories to the test would show them to be a confused, mis-matched jumble, which would fail rather firmly if I tried to use them to predict how reality would unfold. But if those memories were true - then I should be able to come up with a test, something which the local population wouldn't expect would work, but which my memories said should - and if it did work... well, that would be the first step in a very long road - but, hopefully, one which provided the rewards of understanding how things worked well enough to be able to nudge events to my desired outcome.
So what I needed most... was some test - something relatively quick and easy to perform, something within the available technology, something I'd be able to convince the Princesses to let me try - and see whether I had any idea at all about how this universe worked, or if I was a mad cow who should be sent somewhere I wouldn't pose a danger to others.
As the train slowed and the conductor called out my stop, I thought about the various episodes I'd seen of a cartoon which described a world very similar to the one I now found myself in, and about various small details... and as I stepped onto the platform, thought of at least a couple of experiments which just might fit the bill. Now, if only I could convince at least one of the local god-queens that it would be worth letting me try one...