Ch. I: Adapt and Mend
“—Sort of… metallic look to it, I don’t know.”
I tried to open my eyes, but my brain did not want to give the orders. My eyes felt as if they were glued shut. It was driving me nuts.
“Maybe he’s not from Equestria. I don’t even know what his cutie mark is. Maybe some foreign flower?”
I heard the words, but they refused to assemble themselves into a coherent thought. Fear mixed with pain and anger pulsed through my brain. One fear of mine was going blind. Open, dammit!
“I don’t know. Maybe when he wakes up he can tell us, or maybe we can ask Compass Rose. She may know.”
In my vain attempts to open my eyes, a small whimper escaped my throat, which seemed to startle the conversing voices.
“Well, seems he’s waking up.” The words still made no sense. A clip-clopping sound resonated through my brain. Whatever it was that was talking, he was walking my way. My brain went on full alert and my hand flung out and my eyes popped open.
Images flooded my vision, bright lights blinded me and I squinted as my eyes adjusted. When they did, I saw what I had swung at—and hit—a moment before. It was a… pony? He stood with one hoof at his jaw and moved it about, checking for damage.
I tried to get out of the bed I lay in, but when I tried to stand, I fell over and smashed into a wall, completely disoriented.
“Hey, careful there,” The female voice said, I looked over, the words finally making sense. A smaller, yellow pony with pink hair walked carefully toward me, her head lowered sort of fearfully, “The anesthesia hasn’t worn off completely yet.”
I tried to stand again, but I fell over again onto the bed. Then I noticed something… different. My hands were gone—no, not gone. They were replaced with… hooves. I jolted back and looked down at my feet, which were also hooves.
I looked, panicked, at the yellow pony, “Wad haff you done do me?”
“Oh, you poor thing,” She looked more concerned than fearful now.
“Ugh, quite the swing you have there,” The pony I had swung at earlier said. He wore a lab coat and had a stethoscope around his neck, “I suggest you sit down and wait for the meds to wear off.”
I took a deep breath to calm myself and let myself slide down to the floor in an awkward sitting position. My legs lie straight out, partially under the bed, and I put my hands between them to hold me steady. I took another look around and realized that I was in a hospital room. Was I some experiment? Was I a pony now? Something didn’t make sense, and the more I thought back to remember, the more my head throbbed.
“Wader” I tried to say, unused to this new mouth and still a little rubbery from all the anesthesia. I brushed my tongue around my mouth. My canines were gone, replaced by flat, grinding teeth, “Can I ha—ahkem—Can I get some…w-wa…water please?”
Wings sprouted from the yellow pony seemingly out of nowhere and she flew out of the room. She returned only seconds later with a glass of ice water with a straw sticking out of it. She flew slowly to me and held the glass up to me. I leaned forward and sipped from the glass, the cold water feeling good on my dry tongue. I leaned back after a quarter of the glass and thanked the yellow pony. Many of my human functions seemed the same, though now I had square teeth and a larger tongue.
Once I was coherent enough I looked around, “where am I?”
“Why, you’re in Ponyville hospital,” the pony in the lab coat said, “This nice young pony and her friend flew you here when you ran out of Everfree forest with a mantacore on your tail.”
“Manta…core?” I shook my head violently. This should be a dream. Ponies? This looked like that—no that was a television show. Not to mention it was cancelled over a decade ago.
“Maybe he’s still dizzy, Mister Doctor, sir,” the young pony said, “Do you need more water?”
“I’m fi—OW!” I tried getting to my fe—hooves when a jagged pain stabbed my ribs, “FUCK!”
“Y-yes, the mantacore did hit you in the side,” The doctor explained, “I had to put you under to sew you back up.”
A wet rag floated through the air, covered in a brown-ish yellow tint, the color of the doctor’s fur. I grabbed the rag with my two hooves and the tint went away, “Press that to your side and the pain should go away in about ten seconds. Zecora can work wonders, I tell you what.”
I pressed the rag to my ribs and the pain slowly ebbed away. I sighed in relief, then looked at the doc, “Hey, sorry about the uh,” I swung my arm in the air to signal what I meant, my vocabulary not the best.
“Oh, no worries, my young stallion, I’ve had worse experiences.”
I looked over to the yellow pony, who now sat shyly in the corner, less proactive about making me feel comfortable, “What is your name?”
She seemed startled at first and looked at the doctor then back at me, “Uhm… my name is… is Fluttershy.”
I smiled—at least I think that’s what I did—and started chuckling, then laughing. The young pony seemed both confused and relieved at my random outburst. This wasn’t real. Her name was the same as… this was not possible. Maybe all those experiments really have driven me mad.
I calmed down after a few minutes and looked back at the pink haired, yellow pony, “Thank you, Miss Fluttershy. I don’t remember it all that well, but I’m sure you saved my life.”
Her face went a little pink, then red, and she jumped into the air and said, “I’mgonnagofindrainbowdashandtellheryou’reokaybye,” then flew out of the room.
The doctor looked at me strangely when I replied, “Just like the show… just like the show…”
From what I gathered from the unicorn doctor and what little bits I could get out of Fluttershy when she checked up on me, I had ran out of this forest called Everfree Forest with a mantacore, some lion/scorpion mixed monster, on my tail and gaining fast. The part of the forest I had exited, though, was where Fluttershy’s home was. The mantacore gained fast enough that it caught me before Fluttershy could come and stop him, being as good with animals as she was. The poison in its tail left me unconscious for three days with a gash in my side. Fluttershy and her friend Rainbow Dash both picked me up and flew me to the closest town and left me with the capable hands of its hospital staff.
Sadly, the poison also locked away any memories of what happened and will take quite a while for the poison to wear off enough for me to remember. Fluttershy’s friend Rainbow Dash visited me a couple times during my stay.
“So this is the trouble-making pony that didn’t have the common sense to just fly away from the mantacore,” The rainbow maned pony said as she walked in the door.
“Well, hello to you too,” sarcasm was not my best suit right now.
“Ha, hey, I’m Rainbow Dash, the one who saved your sorry hide,” She said, bursting with self-pride.
“Nice to meet you, Rainbow Dash, I’m sure,” I said, “And you do have my thanks.”
“Aw, you don’t rile up easily, do you?” She stared for a few seconds, and I stared back with a perfect poker face, “Fine, be no fun. What’s your name anyway?”
I opened my mouth to answer and stopped. It was such a simple question. But I did not know the answer. I closed my mouth again and looked at my bed-sheets, thinking.
“Helloooo~ your name,” She questioned again.
I looked up slowly, “I don’t know.”
She seemed taken aback by this and landed at the foot of my bed and squinted at me, “How do you not know?”
I sat and thought for a few seconds again, “I don’t have one. At least, not in this world.”
She squinted at me longer, “Y’know, you’re pretty cool. All mysterious and dark looking. You should come by Cloudsdale sometime when you recover, I’d love to see how well you race if you rest your wings even when your life is in danger.” She seemed to think that I was some sort of racer, a flier, going through some intense training.
“I can’t fly.”
She stared again, “Seriously? Oh my Celestia, what is wrong with you?”
“Wish I could tell you.”
She shook her head and started toward the door, “Well I have some training to do myself, so I’ll catch you later, maybe.”
“Can you teach me?”
The rainbow maned pony stopped and looked pitifully back at me, “Really? You think I can teach you?”
I sat up and tried to hide my smirk. I could play her pride like a fiddle, “Well, from where I come from, you are known as the fastest and coolest flier in Equestria. Hell, why learn from anybody but the best? Unless you aren’t up for it, of course.”
She smiled, “Trying to play me, eh? Well, guess what, bub, it worked. I’ll think about it.”
Fluttershy came by a few hours later, walking in shyly as usual. She knocked on the door rim and asked to come in. After I asked her to come in she flew a chair up at the foot of my bed and sat down, staring at the floor.
After a few minutes of silence she spoke, “Can I ask you a question? I mean, if you don’t want to answer that’s okay, but if you can I would appreciate it, but if you don—“
“Fluttershy,” I interrupted and she seemed to flinch, “Ask away, I’ll answer anything I can.”
“Well,” She began, “I was curious about your cutie mark. It looked like some kind of flower, but I wasn’t sure what, and I love flowers and nature but… what is it?”
It took a minute for the question to register, but memories flooded back, the cutie mark. On every ponies flank symbolizing their special talent. I pulled the covers aside and looked at it, noticing Fluttershy was trying not to.
“It’s a lotus flower,” I said, more memories flooding back at the sight of the red petals splaying out on my flank, “It resembles knowledge, spiritual cleansing, and harmony.”
“Then… what is your special talent?” She asked.
I smiled painfully, a peaceful world and my own world still haunts me, “Equestria is a fairly peaceful land. You ponies live in harmony. My world… was far from that. Everyone was filled with hate and violence. In my world, I studied and did nothing but study. I studied philosophy, religion, sociology, psychology, music, art, literature. I studied anything about people. My goal in life was to come up with a way to create a world like yours. A world of harmony.”
The young pegasus sensed the sadness in my voice and didn’t question any more, though I could tell more was on her mind and urged her to ask, “What happened to your world? Why did you come here?”
I stopped and thought for a moment, “I don’t remember. Maybe I can give you your answer when the poison dissipates.”
“What’s religion?” She asked.
I was about to explain, but I stopped myself. Why bring that curse? “It’s something that caused total chaos in my world. I can’t tell you.”
She sat quietly for a few more minutes. She reminded me of someone I knew, but my mind couldn’t wrap around the concept enough to remember who it was. Eventually Fluttershy pushed her chair back, “I’m glad you’re getting better. The doctor said you can leave in the morning.”
I was about to thank her, but she flew out the door. I smiled. Just like the show.
All those peaceful memories came back to me. Many saw it as just a show, but to many of us, it was happiness. Somehow, I don’t know how, I have been put into that world. When I think about it…I don’t mind having to get used to a new body.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I stayed awake trying to think about how I got here. Hell, I couldn’t even remember my name. Through the night I pondered, but the last thing I remember was looking at the clock, which read 3am. I had dozed off some point in the early morning.
I was awakened by harsh whispers at the end of my bed. I groaned and lifted my head, squinting at the sunlight seeping through the thin curtains.
“Well good morning, young stallion,” The voice of the unicorn doctor invaded my eardrums.
“What’s all that noise?”
“OH! I’m so sorry! You see I brought a friend of mine I thought you might like to meet and,” Fluttershy’s calming but nervous voice answered, “Oh gosh, I’m sorry, we didn’t mean to wake you!”
I sat upright and rubbed my eyes, the newly acquired hair on my new appendage irritating my eye lids. When I opened my eyes again I saw a new pony, a unicorn looking around the same age as Fluttershy, maybe younger. She had soft violet fur and a dark purple mane with small streaks of red here and there. She wore an uncomfortable smile when looking at me.
“Well it does seem that you have recovered fairly well from your wound, son,” The doctor said, examining my side, which only a small, pinkish scar remained, “If that scar does not go away within the next few days, come back to me and I’ll give you something to be rid of it.”
I nodded and looked at the new pony, “I have this odd feeling that I know you. Yet that can’t possibly be since we haven’t met.”
“Well, Fluttershy has been talking about you,” The young pony said, “She’s been quite concerned, as she always is with sick and injured creatures.”
“Yeah. Well she’s been my guardian angel since I got here in Equestria.”
With my comment she turned red and hid behind the violet pony, who sighed a wary sigh, as if she put up with this a lot, “My name is Twilight Sparkle. I work in the library here in Ponyville.”
I nodded, “I wish I could return a name with a name, but I can’t seem to remember it. Sorry.”
She smiled a nervous smile, “Yes, those mantacores do have quite the venom. Can’t be fun, but at least you’ve had a full recovery!”
I pushed the hospital sheet off of me and slowly got off the bed. I had been practicing walking down the halls of the hospital to get used to my new body, and I even learned to control the muscles in my wings, tail, and ears. It felt very odd to be able to do at first, but after a few hours I couldn’t imagine life without them. Humanity just seemed… overrated now.
“So, according to Fluttershy, you are a booksmith,” Twilight said when I finished stretching my legs, “You love to read and write about various topics.”
I smiled and chuckled a bit, “Yeah, at least I used to before I came to Equestria.”
“Well, what’s stopping you here,” She questioned, “I have a full library of books you can read if you’d like. Where’d you come from anyhow?”
“It’s a long… complicated story,” I said, “How about when I get my memory back I tell you guys all about it. I’m sure you, my fellow lover of knowledge, would like to hear the stories of my old home.”
The violet pony gave a wide smile and a gratuitous nod. Fluttershy had since removed herself from her hiding spot, believing the spotlight was off of her by now.
“Hey, doc,” I paced around the room in order to get my legs working, “What do I owe you?”
“For what,” He asked, looking confused.
“For the medical treatment and keeping me here for almost a week.”
“Haha, oh, no, you owe nothing. I don’t know how it works where you come from, but here hospitals are free. Canterlot provides all of our medicines and materials.” He spoke as if he was speaking to a foal.
I thought for a second, then bowed my head and lifted on of my hooves to my chest, “Then accept my sincere thanks as payment.”
All of the ponies in the room seemed uncomfortable when I raised my head, but the doctor smiled and bowed his head slightly in response, “You were a good patient, minus the little issue when you first woke up.”
I walked out silently with the two mares flanking me. As soon as I stepped out of the hospital, I was hit with a barrage of color. The small town of Ponyville was anything but dull. I stopped walking and gaped at the beautiful scenery.
“I know how much you said you hated surprises,” Fluttershy said stepping back next to me, “So we tried to keep you being here a secret from Pinkie.”
Twilight gave a single laugh, “But you know Pinkie. I swear to Celestia I have no idea how she does half of what she does.”
I shook my head, trying to get over the sight when my head started to pound. Immediately I forgot how to walk and fell over onto my face. The two ponies immediately began to express worry, but their words were incoherent to my pounding skull. The pounding suddenly stopped, but my senses did not return. My head buzzed and something flashed in my mind.
Scrambling, notes being crumpled and thrown into garbage cans, others being jammed into folders and files. I could hear knocking, a quick glance backwards a metal door held its ground and my hands scrambled faster than ever. I pulled a file from a drawer, it held a ton of data, but it was titled Pony Stallion: Enigma Shade. Underneath the name was a red flower—a lotus.
My senses returned in a flash.
“—llo?” Fluttershy’s voice penetrated my eardrum.
I was on my side and I realized I had sprawled out onto the ground in my pained struggle. I groaned through gritted teeth and opened my eyes to see Twillight’s worried face staring down at me, “Are you okay?”
“My name… is Enigma Shade,” Was all I could think to say.