• Published 27th Jun 2013
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HUMAN in Equestria: A Conversion Bureau Story - Chatoyance



The ruling class of Earth made a special deal when they allowed the Bureaus. Alone among all earthlings, they remain human, in Equestria.

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1. The Pony In The Garden

The Conversion Bureau

HUMAN

in Equestria
By Chatoyance

1. The Pony In The Garden

The pony crept, it scuttled from bush to tree. It was trying not to be seen, but the poor creature simply had no experience in the matter. When Petra waved, it froze with wide eyes, its tiny, frightened pupils staring back.

It was then that Petra noticed that the pony had a companion. Just in front of the mysterious, trespassing pony was a bunny. The bunny looked nothing like the ones Petra had seen holographs of. The bunny looked more like a fairy tale bunny, from a cartoon or a story book. Like the pony, it wore a old-fashioned top hat, though much smaller of course, so as to fit the smaller head of a bunny. The bunny also wore a cape, which Petra thought was both adorable, and very funny.

The pony, still frozen, staring back at her, was dressed in what looked like the jacket of a circus ringmaster, with large dark cuffs and shiny buttons that gleamed in the moonlight. The little bunny's ears flopped to one side, which also moved its little top hat, through which its ears had been stuck. Then the bunny seemed to sigh, and waved back with a little fuzzy paw.

Petra did not care how the pony and the bunny had managed to get past the big, thick wall that surrounded the Human Masada. She did not care that her mother would not approve, nor would any of the other members of the Masada. For the last four and a half years since she had been moved to Equestria, this was the first pony - and absolutely the first bunny - she had ever seen. More than anything in all the new world, Petra Alice Bettencourt wanted to meet that pony and that bunny.

Petra smiled her biggest, toothiest smile, like her mother had made her practice, and mimed with her hands frantically - 'In here! You'll be safe in here!' and hoped the pony and the bunny would understand.

The arched window could be opened, rotated around a central spindle to allow fresh air in. Petra scrambled to push open the side of the semicircular port, noting that the pony in the top hat had not run away.

"PSSST! Hey! Do you need a place to hide?" Ponies weren't generally allowed inside the Masada, because they got upset or shocked too easily. Petra's mother didn't approve of the ponies at all, and disliked them intensely. She used to hate them, and want them all dead, but that had changed when they had moved to Equestria. Now, she just really, really, really didn't like them around her. If mother found a pony in her yard, behind the wall, Petra was afraid of what might happen.

The pony in the top hat looked at her bunny friend. The bunny nodded.

"Yes! Please!" With that, the fancily dressed pony and her fluffy companion approached. "How... how do we get up there?"

Petra's bedroom was on the second floor of the huge Tudor-styled mansion. She liked to climb, and had set a very long ladder, one that the dog servants used to pick apples with, at an angle to reach the roof. Because of the way she had set it, it was almost a ramp as much as a ladder. Petra leaned out of her window, and pointed. The pony nodded, and let the bunny climb onto her back. Then she galloped for the tilted ladder.

The pony ran up the ladder to the roof with an astonishing agility. It was easier for the pony that it was for Petra, and she was very impressed. The pony then followed the edge of the roof until she came to the inset where Petra's bedroom window was. Petra stepped back and allowed the pony and bunny to enter.

The pony in the top hat and tails stared with wide eyes at her rescuer. The little bunny jumped down from the pony's back and stood in front of the chestnut filly, trying to look brave.

Finally, the pony whispered "Thank you." Her eyes were still large as dinner plates in the moonlight from the window. Slightly afraid, she added "F-for helping us."

Petra realized she must be staring as much as the pony in front of her, because her eyes stung. She blinked a few times, to let her tears wash over them. Suddenly, all of her years of charm training became insistent. "How do you do?" She found herself saying, mechanically. "My name is Petra Alice Bettencourt, daughter of Stefan Bettencourt, the CEO of Mankind and the head of the Good Families, and I am very pleased to make your acquaintance!" She had curtsied before she could manage to stop herself. Only then did Petra realize that she was shaking slightly.

The pony blinked, apparently unaccustomed to such formality. Much to Petra's surprise, however, the pony was not a stranger to it. "Hello to you too! Please let me introduce myself and my companion. I am Plantain Acres, Honorary Professor of Bunny Terpsichory and Arachnid Syncopation for the Royal Equestrian Happy Pony Show, and this is my friend and partner, Crème Bûnnée, Dance Master of the Royal Equestrian Happy Pony Show and HainRah of the Lapine Theatre Company. I am likewise most pleased to make your acquaintance as well!"

The young human girl stood rigid, staring once again at the impressively titled pony and bunny. The pony stared back, equally formal and official in her stance. The bunny sat back, as tall as she could be, and grandly saluted.

A small smile began to form on the stunned human girl's face.

A grin began to form on the muzzle of the pony.

The bunny looked from one to the other, unsure of what was going on.

Petra couldn't hold it in any longer, she was laughing at the absurdity of such dire formality in the middle of the night, after such sneaking about. Her mirth was echoed by the pony, Plantain, who began snickering and then laughing out loud. This only made Petra lose the last of her restraint altogether, and soon both pony and human girl were on the floor sobbing with laughter.

Crème, completely confused, tried saluting again, first to Petra, and then to her mistress, but this only seemed to make the pony and the human laugh harder.

"Oh... oh my goodness... oh dear... 'Honorary Professor of Bunny Terpsica... Terpsic..." Petra wiped her eyes.

"Terpsichory!" Plantain used a fetlock to dry her own tears of laughter. "And Arachnid Syncopation!"

"Sin-co-what?" Petra had become a terrible student since the move to Equestria. It had quite upset her mother, who had been forced to take over her education because of the lack of any human servant to do it.

"Syncopation. It's a fancy word for rhythm. We use all kinds of fancy words for things in the theatre. Mr. Paine told me that it's traditional. I'm an entertainer!" Plantain lifted herself from the floor on one foreleg and used the other to do a bow-like gesture.

"Mr. Paine?" Petra looked from pony to bunny, unsure which was more adorable to look at.

"Mr. Royal Paine, Owner, and Producer of the Happy Pony Show. He's our leader. He started the whole thing." Plantain looked sad. "We used to travel all over Equestria together. I miss them all so very much."

Petra wanted to reach out and pet or comfort the pony, but stayed her hand. Ponies weren't pets, she reminded herself. They were people, and one didn't pet people as one would a dog or a cat. "Did... did the show end?"

Plantain Acres shook her head. "Oh no! They're all still touring and putting on shows. They're all out there somewhere right this moment, probably doing second encores by the look of the sky. It's me who got ended. That's why I am running away. Because my mom doesn't want me to be a performer."

"You're running away?" Petra tried to encompass the idea, but it was slippery, and hard to grasp. "Away from... from home? From your home?" It was unthinkable. Proper young ladies of the world elite were expected to act always with decorum and propriety. The Family was First, the Family was All. To run... away. To just... leave? How could that even happen?

"Oh yes! My mother wants me to go to some overly proper etiquette school in Canterlot and become some kind of fancy, proper pony. She has this whole future set out for me - first I go to several sniffy schools, then when I'm all la-de-dah, I'm supposed to swish my tail at the most important stallion I can find and become his 'Plus One'. Mom's always wanted to be somepony important, and she's trying to get me to do it instead. Only I don't wanna."

It was so bizarre. Petra could hardly believe that she wasn't dreaming. There was a pony, a real live pony, right there, in her bedroom, and they were talking just like two human girls about... stuff. "What do you wanna... want... to do?"

"Go back to the Happy Pony Show, of course!" The expression on Plantain's muzzle indicated that this should have been beyond obvious. "I love being a performer! It's the bestest ever thing ever!" She turned to her lapine companion. "Isn't it Crème?"

Crème nodded so hard her milk-white ears hit the floor with soft flups. The bunny sat back and used a tiny paw to straighten its miniature top hat.

Petra pondered this. It really was most curious. "But... but your mother forbade you to be a performer!"

Plantain laughed. "Duh! I already am, though! I've been to all sorts of places, and put on hundreds of shows. My bunnies and spiders are famous all over Equestria, and quite a few places beyond. Crème and I were even asked to do an encore for the king of the Diamond Dogs!"

Petra's head was swimming. Everything she had heard was ever so strange, and some of it was puzzling, and the rest made her heart beat fast. Especially the idea of just... leaving. She'd never been allowed such a thought, before. It just wasn't something a Bettencourt would do. Why her father, he would - she couldn't even imagine how he would react.

From her earliest memory, Petra had been taught that she was a member of a species apart from the common rabble of humankind. She was a member of the proper class, the true humans, the heirs and rightful owners of the Earth. It was her place to act in accord with her station and kind, just as it was the place of her lessers to serve her and the Good Families that ran the world.

"How old are you?" Petra had been taught that the ponies lived much longer than humans did, and they had much longer childhoods too. She had assumed that Plantain was just a child, like herself, because the pony was small compared to the few that Petra had been allowed to see. Also, Plantain had been sneaking about in a funny costume, and had a little bunny as a pet. Adults never did such things. But Plantain seemed to have done a great deal of very complex and adult-seeming things.

"I'm a filly, just like you!" The yellow-maned earthpony grinned with pride. "See, I know about you humans! I know how to tell a human filly from a grown-up mare. I read up all about your kind before I came up this way. I was hoping I might see a human my age, and now I've even gotten to meet one!"

"You've never met a human before?" That might explain the big round eyes earlier, Petra thought.

"Nope! You keep to yourself inside the walls, doncha? How come, anyway?" Plantain tilted her head, and one of her ears twitched. Petra found that fascinating. She couldn't twitch her human ears.

"My mother says..." Petra closed her mouth. She didn't want to offend miss Plantain the pony. "My mother doesn't... approve... of ponies. And the other members of the Families think we should keep... apart... because we eat meat and because we shouldn't associate with our les..." Again, Petra held her tongue. "...because there might be problems." It wasn't exactly a lie, it was essentially the truth, but it was much more polite, and a Bettencourt was always polite.

"We do have diamond dog servants, though!" Petra felt afraid she had come across as being bigoted against ponies, and she absolutely wasn't. In fact, she very, very, very wasn't, but her mother was in her words and what she had said hadn't come out right at all. "I like ponies very much!" There, that was better.

"You really do look sort of like skinny diamond dogs..." Plantain studied the human girl in front of her for a moment. "Do you have a tail? I can't tell."

Petra laughed. "No, silly! Humans don't have tails!" Then she remembered. "Well, sometimes, rarely, humans are born with tails, but they chop them right off!"

Plantain winced. "They... chop off... their tails?"

The little bunny, Crème, put her paws over her eyes at the thought.

Petra felt confused. "Well, yes. Humans aren't supposed to have tails. When they do, it's a mistake, so they get rid of them immediately. At least all the proper people do. In the old favelas, back on earth, they probably didn't bother." Petra fell silent, sad at that thought. She had never actually seen a human person with a tail, and she felt jealous at the thought of the worker class who got to keep theirs. "Well, you see..." Petra struggled to remember how it went. "Ahem. 'They tell us that, we lost our tails, evolving up, from little snails!'" Petra finished her measured recitation with as much dignity as she could and smiled a proper Bettencourt smile.

Plantain gave Crème a comforting nuzzle, then raised her head. "Petra, would it be alright for us to hide out here for a day or two? My mom will be out looking for me, and there aren't many places to hide on this side of Canterlot Mountain. I know she wouldn't dare look for us here."

The weight of what she had done in allowing a pony into her room finally struck Petra. She had been so desperately wanting to make friends with a pony for so very long that she had simply acted without thinking. But the fact was that Plantain and her bunny were here now, and it would be terribly rude to ask them to leave. A Bettencourt is never rude, unless it pays to be so. But the truth was that she really didn't want the pony or the bunny to go away, now that her long wished-for dream had come true.

"Yes, you may stay!" Petra announced, grandly. "But we must be very careful for mother to never see you. Father must not know you are here either. No one at all must know you are hiding here. I do not wish to get into trouble, and I do not wish you to get into trouble either. So we must keep you a secret. Agreed?" Petra stuck out her hand, in order to shake on the contract. Only after she had done this, did it occur to her that Plantain had no hands, only hooves.

Plantain stuck out a foreleg. Petra looked at it, then gently grasped the hoof in her hand. It was hard and smooth and she felt her heart beating very rapidly. For four and a half years she had wanted to properly meet an ordinary pony, a pony that wasn't Celestia, a pony that wasn't just waving her parents through a gate, or standing at a distance. Now, for the very first time, she had touched a real Equestrian.

She thought of her holoshow, her favorite show, before they had left and moved to Equestria. The show about the newfoals who got to become ponies. Petra held the hoof in her hand for a long time, feeling the hardness, the warmth from the leg part at the top of the hoof, and marveled at it.

"Are... you okay?" Plantain was studying Petra's flat, hairless face.

Embarrassed, Petra let go of the pony's hoof and mechanically affected the standard Bettencourt smile while sitting up properly. "Yes! And you?" Her voice had squeaked a little and this further embarrassed her.

"That was the first time you've ever touched a pony, isn't it?" Plantain offered a very small, kind smile. "It's the first time I've ever touched a human! I guess we're both real, then!"

That made Petra laugh. "I guess so!" At that, a large number of rules about hospitality came into Petra's mind. "Oh! I'm sorry! I've been very rude." There were many proper things to do when a guest visited, and even though Plantain had been sneaking about in the garden, and had crawled in through the window, she was still a guest because Petra had invited her in. "Would you like some tea, or something to eat?" One must always offer food and drink to a guest.

Plantain shook her head. "No, thank you though. Crème and I had something just before we went under the wall. Actually, it might be wise to find a place for us to hide, if we're not supposed to be seen. It'll be morning soon, and if you humans live anything like we ponies do, your mom will probably be knocking at the door calling for breakfast."

"Oh!" Petra realized she hadn't actually gotten any sleep at all, and that morning would bring all sorts of problems. "You are right! Hmm..." Petra thought for a bit. "You can stay in the south wing, nobody goes there. We all stay in the north part of the house, and just on these two floors. You can hide on the third floor, and nobody will ever find you. Just don't make too much noise, alright?"

"That sounds perfect! And we'll be quiet. Crème is always silent, and I'll just whisper and be careful. How about that?"

Petra nodded. "In the morning I will bring you some food and drink for your breakfast. It may take a little while, but I won't forget!"

"That would be wonderful. Thank you, Petra." Plantain considered the offer for a moment. "Um... no meat. Please."

"I know! Ponies don't eat meat." Petra carefully, quietly got to her feet, preparing to guide her two guests cautiously to the south wing. "Could I ask you a question, Plantain?"

Plantain was now on her hooves, with Crème holding tight to her back. "Of course, you can ask me anything."

"Do you... have you ever heard of a pony - a newfoal - named Sunshine Laughter?" Petra noted the sky getting faintly brighter through the open window. "Or Rose Vale?"

The top-hatted filly thought for a few seconds. "I've met a LOT of ponies, and a lot of newfoals among them, but I've never met either of those ponies. Are they friends of yours?"

"No! No... of course not..." Mother would approve of having a newfoal friend even less than having a native pony friend, and mother despised ponies. If she had gotten her way, only the Good Families would have emigrated to Equestria, and all the lessers would have been left behind to die with the Earth. They wouldn't have been ponified like Sunshine and Rose on their show. Still, Sunshine and Rose felt almost like friends to Petra. They were probably the closest thing she had ever had to having friends - even if they were just two people on a holoshow.

"Sort of." A Bettencourt always tells the truth to a peer. Mother would have a fit, but Petra couldn't - wouldn't - think of Plantain as a lesser. "They are almost friends."

The little pony was entirely puzzled by this. "Almost friends?"

"There was a show I liked, a show about newfoals, and Sunshine and Rose were in it, they were the show, really, and... and they were... they were my best friends... inside my heart." Petra had no better way to state things, and left it at that.

"You never met them? They never met you?"

Petra shook her head. "It was a show. On the holo! I had the entire set, before. Of course, I couldn't bring it with me, holos don't work in Equestria." The little human girl looked sad for a moment. "I miss them."

Plantain turned her head to nuzzle Crème on her back. "I guess humans are a lot more loving than I ever imagined. They can make best friends with ponies they've never even met!"

"Come on, we had better get you to your room before we get caught." Petra made cautiously for the door, then stopped and turned back to put a finger to her lips. "Shhhhh!!!"