by Nova Critical

Chapter 2: Porous is He

The man violently sat up with a huge intake of air. Immediately afterward he started to cough excessively. He stared at the wooden floor as some spit fell from his mouth onto it. The burning in his lungs started to abate and all he could think of was facing whomever had given him breath again. He put on a weak smile and turned around to the sound of voices.

His smile quickly vanished and his mouth contorted in confusion and panic as he noticed the immense fiery pain on his back and the creatures before him.

A small lavender pony in a lab coat and worse, a giant purple reptile stood over her, eyeing him strangely. The pony didn't look like any pony he'd ever seen, but it was the closest thing he could think of. The words they spoke sounded like a language, but not like anything he'd ever heard before, it made gibberish sound understandable. The pony looked at him and spoke at him. The slight inflection at the end of her sentences made him think she was asking a question.

The two strange creatures moved as if to touch him, but still on the ground, he scrambled away until he was up against a hard wooden wall. As his scorched back hit the wall, he cried out in pain. Unable to go anywhere else, the man looked at them slightly afraid and completely unsure. The blazing agony paired with mind-numbing disorientation rendered the man unable to think of...anything. He couldn't even tell himself his own name if he tried.

The reptile spoke words to the pony, and she responded with a soft tone. She looked back toward the man and started to move toward him, saying...something. The more words she said, the less they seemed like ridiculous nonsense.

Either way, he didn't want her anywhere near him and he thrust out a spread hand to tell her to back off. The only thing he could think of was how much he wanted them to get away from him. What happened next no one expected.

As the man thrust out his hand, it started to glow a dark red. Once it was angled toward the pony and the reptile, they too were covered in its glow and thrown across the room where they hit the opposite wall. The vermillion glow had left the man's hand, but he held it far from his face, looking at it as if it were the source of all terror in the universe.

Across the room, the reptile turned to the pony and shouted something. The pony looked sadly at the man as her horn lit up. All he saw was a bright flash, fatigue wracked his body, and his vision faded into blackness.

"What in Celestia's name was that?!" Spike asked at the serious looking Twilight.

The lavender mare let out a wistful sigh before answering, "Exactly what was supposed to happen in my experiment..." She said sadly as she looked at the now dark brown creature that laid still inside the glass cube. With the Focus gem taken out of the apparatus, the patterns were absent and wouldn't harm the man, but more importantly, without the gem, the cube was magically inert.

"Other worlds among the stars aren't like Equestria," Twilight began, "Equestria is magic. All of it. Everything living thing here has magic in it, not just unicorns. Pegasi, Earth ponies, animals, even the trees radiate magical energy. C'mon Spike, you already know all of this." She finished, giving the dragon a nudge. He had been present to many of Twilight's lectures to the young fillies and colts at Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns.

"Yeah, but why'd it change color? How does it know magic!" Spike said, gesturing his arms wildly at the unmoving creature in the box.

"He, Spike. He isn't an 'it'. At least I'm almost certain he's a he. I have yet to check to be sure. His strange leggings are in the way, if I could just get them off, then I could-"

"Twilight!!" The dragon interrupted. Of all the things for his mother-figure to talk about.... Geez.

"Anyway," She continued, "Because his world is completely absent of magic, he has no resistance to it, and as such, he soaks it up, like a sponge. It becomes part of him, acclimatizing his body to our world. It explains why he changed color when I laid him on the floor, he took in magic from our tree. It also explains his magical ability, with what I did to him..."

Spike knew he couldn't let Twilight go down that path of thinking, "You had to do it Twilight. He wasn't breathing. He would've died."

"I know... I fear he hasn't stabilized though." Twilight said as she began to pace, "He can only absorb so much, but I don't know how much more he can take in. We need to keep him in there until I figure out what to do. I need to send a letter to Princess Luna right away. I need to get the equipment to send him back. I need to.... to.."

Her pacing stopped and she began to waver, going weak in the legs. Before she could hit the floor, Spike had caught her.

"You need rest Twilight." The dragon said, concern painting his face, "The...'sapling' will be fine inside the box. It can't be opened from the inside, and I can watch him until you can get back on your hooves."

Putting a hoof to her head, she knew he was right. Her sleep spell should wear off in a few hours, she had a little time.

"I'll take a nap, but only for an hour, got it? Go ahead and send Princess Luna a letter saying we need her assistance immediately." Giving the creature one last look, Twilight let Spike help her up the stairs and to her bed and set her wall clock to toll in exactly one hour.

What the hell is all of this crap.

Shock and confusion wearing off, the man stood up inside a glass box. The glass was almost two inches thick and had similarly thick metal braces. Well, confusion was still in his mind. Heavily. But unlike the purple reptile, he didn't start upon seeing the other. The man looked impassively at the reptile as it made its way to the box. They studied each other for a few moments. Now that he was standing up straight, the reptile didn't seem as menacing as it had before. It was a head shorter than the man and a bit more slender, though the lithe muscles under its purple scales didn't go unnoticed. Even with that in account, the man was sure he could take the reptile if he could catch it off guard...

The reptile suddenly raised a claw, a sharp claw, and waved at him friendly. It seemed to ask him a question, he couldn't make out the words but he knew it was a question. It also was slightly muffled, being that he was inside of a damn box. When he didn't respond, it pointed the claw at itself and said a single word. It started with an "S" or a "C".

Ah. His name. I'll go with calling him Mr. Scales. The man thought as he raised his arms to show he couldn't quite understand the creature.

My name's Hawthorne but I'm not telling you that, you purple-y bastard. It was Hawthorne who deserved answers, and he had no idea what they were going to do with him. His face screwed up in confusion as he saw his hands and arms.

Hawthorne looked down upon his body. It was dark brown. Not like he had gotten a heavy tan, but its whole color had changed. Inspecting his arm, it not only looked different, it felt different. Squeezing it with his right hand, he could still feel his muscles underneath but it was as if his skin was...tougher, somehow. He gave himself a sharp pinch and donned a thoughtful expression when it didn't hurt as much as it should have.

Screw the names. He was beginning to become agitated, he wanted answers, even if he couldn't quite understand the creature behind the pane of glass. With no warning, he slammed his palm on the glass. Loudly.

"Let me out!!" Hawthorne bellowed. The reptile jumped and looked up toward a staircase leading to....God knows where.

Mr. Scales kept looking in between him and the staircase, stammering and putting a single claw to his mouth. "Be quiet" the gesture said.

The man began to think about the reptile's mannerisms. It seemed a very many things. Though malevolent was not one of them. And when he struck the glass cube, the reptile looked at the cube anxiously like it was protecting the man from something. The thick glass of the cube was too strong to break, there was an opening with a latch, but he couldn't open it from his side. Inspecting the cube, he realized something and had to keep from panicking.

It was completely sealed. The only opening was air-tight and there were no holes. Though he didn't have any trouble breathing.


Maybe he could use that fact to his advantage though. Mr. Scales already looked distraught, and Hawthorne only needed to play off of that. He did his best to look worried as he began to tap on the glass, the reptile looked at him and he began his game of charades.

He pushed on the opening to the cube unable to get it open, the reptile began to vigorously shake his head.

Hawthorne was not to come out.

Expecting this reaction, he quickly moved from corner to corner of the cube, making sure the green-slit eyes of his jailer followed him. At each corner he felt the edges and used a single index finger to poke at the glass panes. The reptile cocked its head. Hawthorne made wide movements with his arms and then put his hands to his throat and started to make choking motions. Mr. Scales' eyes suddenly opened wide, realizing what Hawthorne meant and began to mimic his movements.

Hawthorne stopped and nodded his head, then pounded on the opening. Scales looked torn in between opening the glass door and saying no vehemently. He stopped his double-taking, looked at Hawthorne and made the movements to open the door, followed by putting his claws close to each other, but not quite touching.

The message was clear to Hawthorne: "I will open the door, but just a little."

Perfect. He thought, backing away from the opening. When the opportunity arose, he would lunge for the glass door, get past Mr. Scales, and get the hell out of dodge. The reptile undid the glass latch on the opening and slowly pushed it inward. It was only open about six inches. Hawthorne took a deep breath in and gave Scales a smile and a thumbs up.

The purple reptile smiled a sharp-toothed grin at Hawthorne. The teeth almost made him reconsider trying to get past Mr. Scales. Maybe he could wait until the pony came. Where was it anyway?

Scales let out a sigh of relief and the tension in his body seemed to slacken.

His guard was down.

In a sudden blur of movement Hawthorne moved toward the door. He grabbed an edge with both hands before Mr. Scales could react, but an instant after, the reptile had its own grip on the door and was trying to pull it closed. At first, Hawthorne thought he would've been able to overpower Scales, but the smaller reptile was stronger than he looked. He noticed that although Mr. Scales had sharp claws, and was holding the same edge of the door, it seemed determined not to touch Hawthorne for some reason.

Hawthorne began to win out as he pulled the door toward him, opening it further, but Scales wasn't making it easy. Becoming impatient, Hawthorne quickly let the door swing in Scale's direction. The reptile didn't expect the sudden slack and lost his balance. Taking advantage of his opponent's momentary slip, Hawthorne gave the door a strong pull. It pulled Mr. Scales off of his feet and he landed face first in the glass cube.

Too easy. He thought as he moved to grab the reptile and drag it into the glass cube before it could get up and escape.

As soon as he gripped Mr. Scale's arm with his right hand, the reptile suddenly went limp. All of the energy he had left him in a rush as he felt something... seeping into him. Hawthorne swayed and fell next to him. His vision faded into sweet blackness as he felt the very essence of himself being changed.