Mane hummed to herself as she hovered in her new office, idly stocking a bookshelf with various objects from a cradled cardboard box. She had put it off long enough and finally decided to get her office prepared and ready for her first semester at Twilight’s Academy. Aiding her was her eldest filly, Scootaloo. The athletic adolescent’s labor was secured with promises of dinner from a restaurant once the office was prepared.
Placing the last book from the box upon the shelf, Allgood folded it up and tossed it onto the steadily growing pile in the corner. When she descended, Scootaloo already had a small stack of boxes waiting for her on the floor. The filly now idly flipping through a general zoology textbook that she had pulled from her mother’s collection.
“What’re you reading about?” Allgood inquired as she began shelving the fresh box.
“Oh, I’m just reading through the arthropod section. I think they’re cool.” Scootaloo declared, kicking her hooves before setting the book down and to the side. “Nothing I haven’t read before though.”
“Maybe you’d like some new books on them? I’m sure the library has something.” Her mother chirped, throwing yet another finished box onto the corner pile.
“Maybe. How’s… Sable? That’s her name right?” Scootaloo questioned.
“Oh, she’s doing well. Likes the testing, though I think she’s starting to get bored of being cooped up in the isolation ward. Ocotillo wants to make sure nothing’s going to break if she starts getting active again.” Mane sighed, descending for yet another box.
“Aw,” Scootaloo whined in empathy. “Can I go see her?”
Scootaloo’s mother stopped in flight for a moment as she contemplated the action. “I don’t see why not. You mean from the observation room right?”
“I meant, like, get in the room with her.” The filly corrected.
Mane exhaled as she weighed the options. “Well, I guess you can. Just follow my instructions while you’re in there. And fair warning, she can be a bit touchy?”
“Wait, what do you mean touchy?” Scootaloo asked, rising to all fours. “Is she going to pick at my coat like a monkey?”
“Haha, not quite Scoots. She really, really likes to groom, but, she’ll just give you scratches. She treats Fluttershy like she’s some housecat.” Mane fluttered down and leaned in close to whisper to her. “Don’t tell anypony, but she loves it.”
“I guess that is kinda embarrassing. I bet it feels really good though if Fluttershy lets it happen.” The filly countered, standing up to push some more boxes over towards her mother, before pushing a chair into the vacated space.
“I think whatever embarrassment she might feel is outweighed by how good the scratches are. I’ve been groomed by her myself, I can see why she likes it.” Allgood abruptly stopped talking, her ears swiveling as they chased a phantom sound through the office.
“I just think Fluttershy is starved for physical affection, poor mare barely gets any physical contact as it is.” Mane mumbled out loud, pushing backward to inspect her work before dropping to the floor with a light clop.
“Anyways, I can take you along after dinner if you’re still feeling up for it then.” She chimed, trotting next to Scootaloo and ruffling her mane.
“Thanks, mom!” The filly chirped, shying away from her mother’s hoof, straightening her mane once she was out of reach. “Do we have to stay here much longer? There’s not much left in here to put away.”
“Yeah we can go, I can finish the rest on my own.” The mother agreed, moving over to the door of the office and casting her gaze around the mostly furnished space. “You did a great job! Let’s go get some dinner yeah?”
Scootaloo rapidly nodded and bounded over to her mother’s side at the door, her wings fluttering in an attempt to propel her further. As she landed beside Mane, Scootaloo’s stomach growled loudly. A blush spreading across her muzzle from the unintended sound.
Mane chuckled and grazed a wing along her back. “Guess we should go before you get too hungry.” Pulling her wing back, she opened the door and prepared to step out, only to stop once she came face to face with Twilight Sparkle.
Both mares jumped, with the princess letting out a hushed whinny and Allgood flaring a wing out in front of Scootaloo. The two mares eyed each other for a brief moment before Allgood dropped into a curtsy. “Headmistress Twilight! I wasn’t expecting to see you there.” She sheepishly explained as she withdrew her wing from Scootaloo’s muzzle.
“That’s fine Professor Allgood, I was going to knock as you opened the door. It’s my fault.” The princess professed, returning the curtsy and bowing her head more than was needed. “Something’s come up involving Sable and, well, you need to know about it. Do you mind if I come in? I’d prefer this to be said behind closed doors.”
“O-oh! I don’t mind. Uh, do you need Scootaloo out of the room for this? It’s nothing bad, is it?” The professor nervously sputtered, backing up from the door to allow her superior access.
“No, there’s no bad news. You can relax Allgood. As for you Scootaloo. I know and trust you, so I need you to keep quiet, and don’t tell anypony of what’s said in this room, ok?” Twilight implored, walking forward and shutting the door behind her with a soft thud. The princess’ horn was lit up for longer than was needed as her head craned around the room, before centering back on Allgood and her foal. Her horn flared for a few seconds and then was still once more.
“I won’t say a word. I promise.” Scootaloo swore, nodding her head vigorously.
“That goes for you too, Allgood.” Twilight immediately replied, giving a nod of acknowledgment in response to Scootaloo.
“Naturally. Though, what’s requiring such secrecy, Ms. Sparkle?” The professor tentatively questioned.
“Well, to make a long story short, Sable is likely sapient. I haven't seen or been with her yet, but I’ve not known Fluttershy to lie about her either.” Twilight paced back and forth as she recalled her conversation with the other Element-bearer. “According to Fluttershy, she asked for a pen and paper by making hoof, er, hand signs, and then began to draw pictures to communicate.” The princess articulated.
“Oh.” Was all that Allgood could manage to stammer out. She quickly looked down to her filly, who just seemed confused. She let out a terse breath and held her wings to her side in an attempt to hide her excitement. Inwardly she was squealing like a schoolfilly at how much academic recognition she would get for a paper on a new sapient species.
“So she’s not ‘just an animal’ right? That’s what sapient means?” Scootaloo wondered out loud.
“Yep. Sapient means she’s just as smart as you, me, or any other pony for that matter.” The academic princess acknowledged.
“Well, I take it this development means you’ll be involved with Sable from now on?” Mane questioned. “That explains why I lost Tick-Tac-Hoof against her yesterday.” She mumbled under her breath afterward.
“Yes. Since Sable is the only known member of her previously unknown species, she is also the representative of her kind until we manage to make contact with her people or host nation.” Twilight affirmed, slowly moving back over towards the door. “As such, the crown will be involved in her recovery and adjustment to Equestrian society and the prosecution of the individuals or organizations responsible for her grievous injuries.” She continued passionately, her voice turning bitter at the mention of the poachers who nearly took the ape’s life.
“Well, that makes sense I guess. I was going to visit her for some more testing and bring Scoots here along with me. Now I have to go and see her. Do you want to follow us there? I need to pick up my notebook along with a few other things.” Allgood asked, feeling up the pockets of her canvas vest for anything she might have left in the pockets.
“Of course, Professor. Although, I can get us where we need to go much quicker.” The princess remarked, her horn flaring to life with a lavender aura.
The alicorn had teleported all three of them to Allgood’s home, and then to the veterinarian once the professor had gathered the required supplies. The trio then haste towards the isolation ward, Mane quickly stopping to give Sorbet at the desk a quick wave of the hoof before she had to play catch-up.
As Allgood and Scootaloo prepared to walk into the open airlock, Twilight gave them a respectful nod and began to walk in towards the observation room. “I’ll be in here. Don’t want to crowd or make her uncomfortable.” She explained.
“I understand, Fluttershy is in there right?” Mane questioned just before Twilight shut the door behind her.
“Yes, and what’s his name. Ocotillo? He’s in there as well, he’s the other vet that works here.” Twilight answered.
“Thank you for letting me know about this Twilight.” Mane stated, curtsying towards the Princess.
“No problem. There’s more to talk about, but we can do that some other time.” With those words, Twilight walked fully into the room and closed the door behind her. Leaving just the mother and daughter behind.
Turning her attention away from the observation room door, Mane gently nudged Scootaloo towards the opened airlock doors. “Alright Scoots, we just go in here and wait for it to cycle. Just a fair bit of warning though, there’s a sterilization spell placed in it.”
“So it’ll kill all the germs and stuff in it right?” Scootaloo asked for clarification.
“Yes, but it’s an uncomfortable sensation. It’s not horrible, sort of like you got into the shower when it’s too warm.” She nuzzled her filly, protectively draping a wing over her. “Think you can handle it? I’ll be right here.”
Not one to back away from a challenge, Scootaloo puffed out her chest and feathers. “I’ll tough it out!”
“That’s my daughter, just squeeze my leg if you feel the need.” Mane beamed, giving her daughter a few pats on the head with the flat of her wing before stepping into the airlock.
Scootaloo followed her mother inside, her demeanor balking slightly as her mother began to cycle the airlock by pressing a button mounted on the wall. Scootaloo pressed in close against her mother as the doors sealed behind them and the pressure increased in the room.
Allgood popped her ears and grit her teeth as the sterilization spell began. The burning sensation spread across every part of her that air could touch, inside and out. Her daughter, ignorant of the sensation until now let out a surprised bray and hugged her mother’s leg, though she did not react further.
After a few unpleasant seconds that seemed to overstay their welcome. The sensation faded as quickly as it had come upon them. The opposite doors creaked and eventually rolled open. Revealing the isolation ward and everypony currently inside it.
Sable was on top of her bed, clutching a notebook and scribbling away with a pencil. She gave a small wave to Allgood and affixed her attention to Scootaloo. The ape began smiling and audibly ‘awwing’ as Scootaloo stepped away from her mother.
Beside Sable was Fluttershy who was looking over a small pile of drawings that Sable had produced. Hovering over her shoulder was a rose-pink stallion with a candy-red mane and a distinctive curved horn, an image of a scalpel stamped on his flank. His front was covered with a white lab coat overlaying a set of baby-blue scrubs.
“Oh hey, Ocotillo, long time no see.” Allgood greeted as she strolled over to the veterinarian, her filly following behind her. The cautious youngling keeping the mother between her and the strange ape.
“I apologize, but between Sable here and my regular obligations I’ve been unable to do much else.” Ocotillo Bloom lamented, turning his gaze away from the mare.
“I understand perfectly Bloom, keeping our acquaintance here in good health is more important than chatting with me.” Allgood agreed, turning her attention towards the ape in question. “Speaking of which, I had Twilight stop by and tell me that she was even more intelligent than we initially thought.”
“She is, she’s drawn some things that prove she’s at least of pony-level intelligence.” Fluttershy inputted in her usual whispery tone. The lanky pegasus arching her head to look around the side of Allgood, beckoning the filly hiding behind her out. “It’s okay Scootaloo, she won’t hurt you. I think she finds you cute even.”
With Fluttershy’s comforting words, Scootaloo eventually moved away from her mother’s side and made her way to the side of Sable’s bed. “I just thought she’d be smaller. She’s huge!” The filly exclaimed, justifying her initial fear of the ape.
“Well, can I see those drawings Fluttershy?” Allgood questioned, slowly walking up beside her filly and giving her an encouraging nudge with her snout. The filly slowly clambering up to sit beside Fluttershy.
“Certainly.” Fluttershy shuffled through the papers, organizing them in chronological order before handing them to Allgood. The pictures drawn by each of the sapients had their name drawn in the top corner by Ocotillo.
“Thank you.” Allgood concurred, resting on her haunches as she began to sort through the pile of pictures before her. She kept an ear and eye on Scootaloo, who was cautiously approaching Sable. The filly walked past the element bearer and towards the ape’s outstretched hand.
“It’s okay Scootaloo, her hand’s upturned. She just wants to groom you,” Allgood clarified for her filly. Watching with bated breath as Scootaloo inched closer, and finally stood next to Sable’s hand. The ape began rolling the appendage over to gently begin scratching at Scootaloo’s head and mane. A deep, rumbling coo rolling forth from Sable’s throat.
“This… this feels kinda good,” Scootaloo muttered, eyelids fluttering. Her cheeks flushed a deep crimson as Sable migrated down her neck and to the bases of her wings, easing the tired, knotted muscles there. The filly pressing herself into those roaming hands, shaking from the pleasurable sensation.
Allgood beamed, giving an approving nod towards Sable before turning her attention fully to the drawings in front of her. The first drawing on the pile made by sable was that of herself and Fluttershy. Two speech-bubbles extended from their mouths. Fluttershy had organized letters in some language unbeknown to Allgood. Sable’s speech bubble was filled with disorganized scribbles, confirming beyond a doubt that her brain injury had affected her ability to communicate.
Aside from that, she had drawn several other things. Like a series that seemed to depict how she was injured. She was in the Everfree when three pony poachers found her and tried to kill her for whatever their motive was. She fought back with whatever was around, beaning one in the dome with a rock and sinking her teeth into another. The last drawing of that series depicted her being smacked with what looked to be a stick or polearm of some sort, before transitioning to the hospital bed she had been in since that day.
“Oh, you poor thing.” The pegasus mare crooned in displeasure at viewing the scene, she couldn’t imagine just how horrible of an experience that was for Sable. Aside from those notable images, the others detailed other important things: what she needed to eat if she was experiencing pain or discomfort anywhere, or if she felt lonely or stressed. She seemed to be doing fine so far judging by her responses to those questions, but she expressed a desire to leave the building and walk outside. She had also drawn what looked to be several garments that she was desiring.
With the stack of papers finished, Allgood pushed them off to the side and looked up at Sable, who had Scootaloo stretched out upon her lap for ease of access, her deft hands preening Scootaloo’s wing and torso feathers. Scootaloo was completely relaxed and limp in her embrace, nickering as Sable’s hand scratched in places she couldn’t reach.
Seeing that her filly was safe and getting acquainted with Sable swimmingly, she shimmied over to stand beside Ocotillo. “The first picture she drew, it has what looks like written language on it. Have you tried to get an alphabet from her?”
“Yes, we had planned to do that, before your arrival put a hold on it. You can try if you’d like.” Ocotillo proposed, levitating over a notebook with several scraps of paper trapped in the binding along with a pencil. “She’s pretty smart even with her injury, should be able to recount letters and numbers even if she has trouble with words.”
“Let's test that theory shall we?” Allgood hummed as she began scribbling out the Equestrian alphabet onto the paper and then drew a pony above it with an arrow pointing down to the written symbols. She then drew a dividing line and began to work on the other side. Drawing a person of Sable’s species and drawing an arrow down, where she could fill in an alphabet. With the paper finished, Allgood scooted it over the bed, bumping it against Sable’s thigh in order to grab her attention.
Sable leaned over and grasped the pencil in one hand while keeping her other occupied with Scootaloo. After a brief period of reading and thinking, she began to scribble out an alphabet at a slow, methodical pace. Putting the pencil to her muzzle, she did something else that was unexpected. She began to draw a number of dots, drawing a small symbol next to them leading to a numerical in her language, including a numeral for zero.
“Kinda looks like Yakish, from what I’ve seen from Yona.” Scootaloo piped up from Sable’s lap, slowly rotating around to face the lexicon better.
“You know, you’re right. Looks an awful lot like their alphabet, although I can see some characters that look like they’ve come from Haechish as well. Might help in pinpointing where her people are.” Ocotillo mused, levitating the paper up and stacking it back on the pile. “Princess Sparkle is going to want to view that for sure.”
“I’d love to stay here and ask her more, but it is getting rather late. I need to take Scootaloo out for dinner like I promised.” Allgood sighed, motioning for Scootaloo to get out of Sable’s lap with a few flicks of her head.
“Yes it is.” Fluttershy uttered, draping a wing over Sable’s lap in Scootaloo’s stead. “There’s just the small issue of where she needs to be kept in the future. Cureall and Ocotillo need this ward in about two days. I have space for her, but she’s indicated she doesn’t like being alone.”
“Twilight definitely has space for her, can’t she take Sable in?” Ocotillo inputted.
“She could, but it would put Sable under scrutiny and at risk of being found out by the larger populace. Things Twilight has said she doesn’t want happening.” Fluttershy countered.
“True true, maybe one of the other element bearers? I know Rarity would house her in a heartbeat, but she lives right in the middle of town. Maybe Applejack? It’s pretty out of the way.” Ocotillo argued
“That could work, but, what about my home? It’s out of the way and she trusts me. Plus, I’m more likely than anyone in Ponyville, barring Fluttershy here, to understand her body language and other cues.” Allgood finalized, looking between the two to see their reactions.
Ocotillo and Fluttershy looked between themselves for a few moments, before nodding at Allgood. It had been decided. Sable would be staying with her.