"And life goes on," Gem said to herself.
Gem looked out at her library, still pretty much the same from before the Veil had swept over it, and had (so far) consumed half the Earth. The library still struggled to survive in this age of electronic gadgets. Ironically, the Veil had helped save her job, as people assumed that the Veil was going to destroy all human technology, and rushed to archive everything they could in print. 'Turns out all you had to do was turn OFF your toys, wait for the Veil to pass and then turn them back on!'
The only real difference was the library was now populated by naked talking pastel ponies, griffons, cat people, dog people, and all the rest of the seemingly never ending biodiversity of sapient creatures from Equus who could metabolize or were resistant to magic.
Unlike most new whelps, new griffs, new foals, new kittens, new nymphs, new pups, and all the rest, Gem had chosen to not let go of her modesty now that the law said she could go outside naked. She might have given up on wearing shoes and socks after the first couple tries, and the less said of her trying to wear underwear the better, but she had paid a pretty penny for fire resistant clothing. It would have been like sandpaper against human skin, but the rough material was nothing against Gem’s dragon scales.
So, she wore her dark red knee length skirt and white long sleeve blouse under her black vest. Her glasses were just for show at this point. She also had to make the special clothes with slits for her to lower her wings into, and strap over her tail. And of course having to get a bigger chair.
Before she'd been readying herself to rejoin her ancestors. Now, she knew she'd grow bigger than her own library in a few centuries.
Gem had been lucky to end up a dragon at all. The one percent of humans allowed to sign up for becoming dragons had come and gone, but new opportunities had opened up after more humans had become Earth ponies. After much debate, it was decided that the victims of the PER would also count towards the ratio of Earth pony new foals to dragon new whelps.
Personally, Gem thought it was nonsense. Every human turned into a nature-horse wasn't going to become a jewel farmer.
On the other claw, there was the theory that Earth itself was being transformed by the spreading magic, and soon their own world would start producing gems at an incredibly accelerated rate. Naturally, that brought up fears of Earth's resources getting sucked up like water from a sponge, but Equus seemed to do just fine.
It seemed the Veil had inspired the younger generation to appreciate these old books, made by naked five-fingered hands that none would see again once the Veil was done with them. Lots of humans had fled, but had systematically begun to return as they finally got around to being mutated, while the rest still held out hope against hope that a 'cure' to humanity’s vulnerability to magic would finally be developed.
Some ponies were even suggesting they continue to work on the cure even AFTER the Veil had consumed Earth, and simply send the cure BACK THROUGH TIME, with instructions on how to coordinate everything to avoid a time paradox. Of course, the logistics of it all would be just too incredible, and once someone went that far, it would be far too tempting to change the past, causing history to go in such a completely different direction that the people they were now would cease to exist.
Gem shouldn't have been surprised when her granddaughter, husband, and son had all signed up to become merponies... she'd always loved The Little Mermaid. The book, read to her as a child, not the animated movie, and certainly not the live action version.
In the end, the true test of her ability to keep doing the job she loved had been the books themselves. She now had claws that could tear her books into shreds with a touch, and she could reduce out of print treasures to ashes with a simple sneeze. She could knock down entire shelves with an errant swipe of her tail.
Maybe she should have gone with unicorn Potion after all, but the past was in the past, and she'd seen the photographs of those who had tried to take the potion twice...
Given how indestructible dragons were, unless you dropped an atomic bomb on them, or maybe stuffed a bazooka down their throat, she was sincerely surprised that army veterans hadn't scooped up every seat on the dragon train the moment they opened up. Then again, the paranoia had been at its peak back then. Some had been all too eager to spread fears that the transformation didn't just come with new instincts, but also DESTROYED your old personality and what was left was a creature that just THOUGHT it was you. Thankfully, the paranoia had now died down enough that Gem didn't need to write out a mountain of forms to prove she was still herself to the insurance companies.
The government was still walking a tightrope of how to handle pensions, now that it had senior citizens who'd be alive for centuries. Nobody wanted a flight of angry dragons with instincts telling them that their treasures were being stolen because of a cancelled social security check, but there were even bigger worries on how this might drain a government already trillions in debt.
Gem whispered to herself, "And here I am, now able to fight an army. I'm Smaug The Golden, and I'm still here with my books... Well, in a way my job is safer now, after all, we're not just a library now... we're a museum of everything we were before."
Gem saw a new kitten couple, showing off a picture book full of humans to their daughter. The daughter was just out of diapers, and she’d probably never been human. Someday soon, children would grow up only knowing humanity through pictures, recordings, fossils and sculptures.
Just then, several ponies came in at once that Gem didn't recognize. A herd of friends who'd decided to check this place out after their magical brush with death? Gem could be so lucky.
They all wore large saddle bags, but that was hardly unusual. Nudity taboo or not, you still needed some way to carry your things (not that it had stopped mankind from going most of its history before inventing pockets). They didn't stick together, they all spread out to different parts of the library.
Gem arched a brow. 'Do I have thieves on my hands?’ She felt simmering, boiling, righteous indignation at that thought. ‘Well, they won't get past this librarian!'
That was when Gem noticed... all of them had their cutie marks painted over with smiley faces.
Gem rose up.
The new ponies were already reaching into their saddle bags.
Gem leapt onto her own desk, her wings flared.
The new ponies put on crude breathing masks made for muzzles.
Gem snarled, leaping at them.
And they flung fragile pressurized bottles filled with a familiar purple liquid!
The makeshift Potion bombs exploded! Gem's eyes went wide. The deadly purple fog swiftly covered several creatures.
"Don't be afraid!” shouted an white earth pony stallion with a purple and pink mane. “Be pure of heart, and ponykind will welcome you!"
All around the library, thankfully obscured by the thick purple fog, creatures began to scream. A griffon's claws each became a tiny hoof. An earth pony who had already been there began to grow unicorn horns out of his shoulder. A diamond dog woman clutched her chest as two new hooved legs grew out of her stomach.
Gem didn’t know if Potion could harm a dragon, and she didn’t want to know! Gem sprang back and flapped her wings, creating a powerful gust of wind that drove the fog away from herself and the innocents with the presence of mind to cower close to her. Thankfully, the Potion clouds dispersed as quickly as they formed, but a perfectly normal black-furred unicorn filly was left crying next to her deformed feline parents.
As if that wasn’t monstrous enough, those PER fiends started pulling out Molotov cocktails, using bucking, wings, and unicorn magic to toss them into the bookshelves.
"THE TIME OF HUMANS IS OVER!” shouted one of them, deliberately using his wings to fan the flames. “THE TIME OF PONIES HAS BEGUN! WE'LL BE FREE OF THE PAST! FREE OF THE MONSTERS OF YESTERDAY! WE'LL TROT INTO EQUESTRIA FREE OF ALL OUR PAST SINS!"
Once, as a child, Gem had seen an animated short about a lion raised by sheep. Of course she didn't think about what the lion ATE or anything like that. What she cared about was the story, the story of the bullied and meek lion whose inner beast was awakened by hearing his mother in danger.
Looking back on it, Gem admitted it might have been a similar experience. Seeing her beloved books burning, the books she'd protected from recyclers and thieves alike for decades of her life... All the pieces in her brain slid into place.
When the dragon swims, everything ends.
The Dragon roared. Instantly, she had everyone’s attention. The Dragon slammed into the thieving ponies who dared harm Her Hoard. She smashed them into the floor. Unicorn magical might burning into her side was merely an annoyance. She snatched pegasi out of the air, and was satisfied when she heard bones crack.
The pony who had been giving the speech before gave her a quick buck... and her right arm fell limp, dislocated.
She grabbed him by the neck, and shoved him out the front doors onto the street outside, getting everycreature's attention.
With the cheap paint having been wiped away, she saw the Earth Pony's real cutie mark: a bone joint with blue waves above it, and red lightning bolts below.
When the police interviewed him at the hospital later, the Earth Pony would defiantly declare, "The human I was, was a fitness instructor! But I saw countless people destroy their bodies, brainwashed by endless corporate advertisements to eat more and more junk food. I won't see Equestria suffering from human greed!"
Maybe he would have given the same speech here and now, if The Dragon had given him the chance. Now that she was outside, she could use her fire-breath. She set him ablaze, as vermin who destroyed treasures and harmed hatchlings deserved, not caring if he lived or died. For good measure, she seized her own wounded shoulder and forced it back into its socket, before turning back to her library.
The Dragon saw Her Hoard burning! The smoke didn't bother her. Nor did the heat. Creatures who hadn't been hit by the ponification cocktails were running for their lives. Her Hoard. It burned. Her beautiful Hoard. But over the crackling flames… she heard the crying of a child.
The black unicorn filly, trying to walk on four legs, her twisted parents even more helpless...
'If I do not act, my Hoard will burn, but that is not the only precious thing here!'
There sadly wasn't a choice. The Dragon carried as many as she could out of the smoke-filled library, starting with the black unicorn filly and her parents, and followed by the rest as quickly as she could get to them. Her fire resistant clothing reached its limit and crumbled to ash.
The Dragon didn't notice or care. Beautiful human knowledge was being destroyed!
"How dare you and the rest of your barbarians set fire to my library? Play conqueror all you want, Mighty Caesar! Rape, murder, pillage thousands, millions of human beings! But neither you nor any other barbarian has the right to destroy one human thought! ... Cleopatra VII Philopator."
And then the firefighters arrived, the literal Winged Hussars, as pegasi firefighters immediately got to work to save the old library. Not only them, but most surprisingly... a merpony, whose dance actually manipulated the water filled bubbles around her, sending them directly where they were needed.
The library was saved, and so were the lives of the victims, such as those lives were now...
Employees of the conversion center were surprised to be called in BEHIND the Veil to teach the former kitten how to use her body. Meanwhile, the surgeries and transmutation spells to help the other PER victims were painstaking and costly.
Then it turned out that all of the PER ponies had requested Equestrian citizenship before the attack.
None other than Princess Twilight Sparkle came to see the damage for herself. When she learned about everything that had happened, she'd bellowed in the Royal Canterlot Voice, "By royal decree, I grant your request to be citizens of Equestria immediately! If you want to live like ponies, then you can be sentenced as ponies!"
When the restoration was complete, The Dragon looked with satisfaction upon the six pony statues that now decorated her library. Her trophies... well, until their sentences were up at least, one life sentence for every creature's life they'd destroyed.
Unicorns with a special talent in telepathy were called in once a week so the statues could speak with their relatives.
As for the Dragon, Gem, she continued to watch over her library for centuries to come, and no creature ever again dared harm any of her library's precious books.
But she did give one gift willingly from her hoard. To the former kitten, she gave a collection of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales directly from the library, including The Little Mermaid.
Decades later, a black unicorn mare would arrive with the same book, asking to apprentice under The Dragon.
Looking around, shuddering only a little as she noted the repairs made a lifetime ago, the unicorn said to herself. "And life goes on."