• Published 16th Feb 2012
  • 7,551 Views, 92 Comments

The Finger Trap - PPG Hunter

Ponies on Earth. Humans in Equestria. And one poor schmuck in the middle of it all.

  • ...

VI. Sprechen Sie Pony

My thoughts immediately following the blackout were an incoherent mess. A strictly autobiographical version of events would leave it at that, but for the sake of the narrative I've chosen to fill in this gap in my memory with a third-party record. I'd like to thank my editors for convincing the Air Force to give me a copy of the helmet-cam footage from my first trip to Equestria. [You're welcome. -- Eds.] Having watched the video, I can say that Twilight didn't even notice my collapse until she'd completed her spell. But as soon as it was finished, she ran to my side. "Adrian! Are you all right?" she asked.

My eyes cracked open. "Put me... put me back in, coach," I mumbled. "I can still play."

She created a magical ball of light and shined it into my eyes to check my pupils. "Adrian, can you hear me?"

My gaze drifted lazily toward her and I smiled faintly. "Oh hey, horsey lady. I remember you from being a horsey lady."

"And what's my name, Adrian?" Twilight asked.

"You're Twilight." I blinked slowly, as if yawning with my eyes. "Twilight Sparkle." I giggled. "Like the crappy books. 'Oh, Edward, I am so young and so pretty and so obviously not a stand-in for the author. Take me with your chiseled Mormon vampire [REDACTED]." Not my proudest moment.

"Okay,... not sure if that's a good response or a bad response." She frowned. "Let's try this. How many claws is Spike holding up?" She turned to the dragon. "Spike, hold up some claws on your foreleg," she said to him in Equine.

"Relax, little lizard dude. I can do it," I said in a singsong manner -- and in Equine. I held up two fingers to my face. "Two! Two fingers! Ah ah ah!" Technically I called them "foretoes," but some liberties have to be taken when translating between human languages and those of the ponies.

Twilight stepped back with a start. "Does this mean you can understand me right now?" she asked, not slipping back to English this time. "If that's the case, it looks like the spell did what it was supposed to do. That's good. Now we just have to make sure you haven't suffered any side effects."

"Yeah, side effects are bad," I said. "Especially if you're nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant. Babies can't handle grown-up medicine. It makes them..." It was around this time that my senses fully returned and I realized what language I was speaking. "Holy crap, I'm speaking in pony, aren't I?"

Twilight nodded. "That's what you wanted, right? This way you can talk to everypony else without needing me to translate."

"I guess, but..." I rubbed my forehead and temples. "Did it have to feel like I was hit with a sack of bricks?"

"I really didn't expect that to happen," she said. "I followed the instructions to the letter. It may just be that your human brains," or more literally "ape-person" brains, "are different enough from ours that the spell needs to be rewritten for your sake. I remember you had a bad reaction to my first Speaking Terms spell also. I'm almost afraid to try casting the spell on any more of you humans without doing more research first."

"Oh sure," I grumbled, "make me the only one who can speak your language. I'm probably gonna be chained to a desk in a windowless room and forced to translate your magic books at gunpoint when I get back."

"If it's any consolation, the spell doesn't grant literacy in the foreign language. I'd have to teach you the Unicornish alphabet by hoof first." Twilight smiled. "So if you need an excuse to get out of continuing to work for the human soldiers, you do have that."

"Thanks, little pony," I said. "Maybe you're not so bad after all."

"Excuse me," Spike said, holding up a hand to stop us. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but Twilight, you said you were going to tell me what was going on as soon as you were done casting that language spell. Well, it's been cast. So... what's going on? Where have you been for the past day and a half? Where did you find that 'human' you're talking to?"

"This human has a name. He's called Adrian Parker. And remember that special teleportation spell I've been working on? I finally got it to work," Twilight explained, "and I traveled to a place called America, full of humans like this one. They weren't too friendly, but they weren't openly hostile either, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. And their world is so strange. They have no magic, but somehow all their natural cycles occur spontaneously like in the Everfree Forest. Even the days and seasons change on their own."

"As opposed to what?" I interjected. "How do days and seasons work here?"

"Oh, that's right," Twilight said, "you weren't there when I talked with Danny and Molly about this. Princess Celestia raises the sun every morning and lowers it every evening. She's normally very precise about it too, but sometimes..."

"Sometimes she's too busy to do it," Spike filled in, "so she leaves the task up to her court magicians, and they're... less careful. Twilight told me about one time when she was a filly and the sun was stuck at two o'clock for at least an hour."

"There was an uproar," Twilight added. "She fired her top wizard the next day. She had to, to keep other nations from taking action against Equestria. A lot of them resent having to rely on unicorn magic to keep their days and nights happening, so when those things stop happening, they're quick to demand justice."

The whole story sounded terribly far-fetched, but knowing how many other ways this world was different from mine, I was in no position to accuse them of lying. "Weird," I said plainly. "But it makes sense. I know our people get antsy when the nations we depend on are less than dependable -- which happens with frightening regularity. Lousy oil-based economy."

"And speaking of Princess Celestia," Twilight said, "that reminds me: Spike, could you take a letter?" Spike ran over to a desk with a piece of parchment and a quill pen. Seriously? I thought. Even the Amish have advanced past quill-pen technology. Spike looked up at her expectantly.

"Dear Princess Celestia," she dictated, "this is not one of my usual reports on the magic of friendship." The magic of what now? "Instead I am writing to inform you of a project I have been pursuing on the side. Several of my books mention spatial dimensions beyond the three we normally use and speculate on the existence of alternate worlds set along those other dimensions. Yet no effort has been made to contact, to visit, or even to document these other worlds. I wanted to change that, and I am pleased to report that I have succeeded."

"I have recently returned from one such world," she continued, "inhabited by creatures that I will call 'humans.' The humans have sent one of their own, a stallion named Adrian Parker, back with me to learn about Equestria and to bring them our knowledge of magic. (Enclosed is a photograph of Mr. Parker.) Conversely, they have much to teach us about industry and electrical machines. It is my belief that by combining our respective advances in science we can change both of our worlds for the better. I do not wish to proceed without your approval, however, as I recognize the potential for such an endeavor to upset the delicate balance of Equestrian society. Please respond with your recommendation as soon as possible, in order that I may act accordingly. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle." She stopped for a moment to give Spike a chance to finish writing. "How was that?"

"Not bad," Spike said, "except for the part where I don't have a picture of this human to enclose."

"And that can be fixed." Twilight walked up some steps to a balcony with a bed and some other furniture. She pulled out a camera, an older model with a fairly large flashbulb, and floated it down to Spike with her magic. "Here you go."

Spike took hold of the camera and pointed it at me. "Smile, Mr. Parker!" I did no such thing. He took the shot anyway, and the camera spat out a sheet of photo paper that quickly developed into a full-body picture of me. No phone, no lights, no motorcars, not a single luxury... but they do have Polaroids. Which branches of the tech tree have these ponies been climbing, anyway? "Okay, I've got the photo. Are you ready to send the letter?"

"I am, if you could do that," Twilight said. Spike placed the picture on the parchment and rolled them both up like a scroll. He tied a red ribbon around the parchment, then breathed green fire on the package to burn it to a crisp.

I furrowed my brow. "Um... question: how's he supposed to send the letter after he's torched it?" I asked.

"That's how he sends letters," Twilight answered. "Dragon flame is magical. His flames send things to the Princess."

"Ah. Well. That explains that, then, doesn't it?" There was a trace of facetiousness or perhaps sarcasm in my voice. I think I was suffering a sort of nonsense fatigue, because it was soon after that I started to accept Equestria on its own warped terms. "But what makes you so important that you get a direct line to a princess?"

"Oh, nothing much, really," she deadpanned, waving a hoof. "She took me in as her personal student when she discovered that I have the most magical potential of any unicorn in the past thousand years. Then she sent me here to make some friends so they and I could wield the Elements of Harmony, the most powerful artifacts in all Equestria, to stop her sister from drowning the world in eternal darkness. Then she called me and my friends to wield the Elements again to defeat a god of chaos whose corrupt reign predates Equestrian history."

"So what, you're some kind of national hero?" I asked. "It's a good thing I didn't know that before. As much as I wanted you gone when you were just Jane Q. Alien, I probably would have taken hostages and killed one every half hour until you promised to stay out of my life if I knew you'd already made history in your world. Hell, I can't guarantee I won't do that now."

Twilight's face darkened. "Please tell me you're joking," she said.

"I can't," I said with worry. "I want to say I am. I want to believe I am. But sometimes people do crazy things when they're pushed to the wall. I like my privacy, and if I can only have it in a steel cage or a pine box that's most likely how I'll take it."

"You know, If it's that important to you," Twilight replied, "I'll see what I can do to keep you away from the public eye. I'm afraid I won't be able to remove you completely from the matter at this point, but I can do my best to help you avoid the attention that'll come with it. In the meantime, don't think of this as deciding the fate of our two worlds. Just think of it as a vacation, and leave the details to the rest of us."

"I'm not sure how I'm supposed to set aside the whole world-changing aspect of it," I said.

"It's easy. Just relax and enjoy Equestria." She glared at Spike. "While Spike is gathering my books on basic magical theory to send with you when you go back home,..." He took the hint and climbed up to one of the library's shelves. "you and I can take a stroll around town and I can introduce you to the rest of my friends."

I crossed my arms and breathed a heavy sigh. "All right. Let's go. See you later, Spike."

"Bye, Mr. Parker," he said.

Twilight led me out of the library and to a local park, where a light blue pony with wings was napping in the branches of a tree. This one had an athletic figure, and its mane and tail contained all the colors of the visible spectrum. Its cutie mark was a multi-colored lightning bolt shooting out of a cloud.

"Male or female?" I asked Twilight discreetly.

"Female," she responded. "Just assume all my friends are girls unless I say otherwise." She looked up at the other pony. "Hey, Rainbow Dash! Wake up!"

Rainbow opened a single eye to look down at us. "Oh, hey, Twilight. Hey, freaky monkey thing."

"Seriously?" I asked. "That's all I get? Why are you all so accepting? Shouldn't at least one of you ponies be like, 'Oh my God, what is this dread beast, come to lay waste to our fair land?' and then running off to whip the whole town into a frenzy? It's not natural."

"What can I say?" Rainbow said. "After a while you get used to it. The way Fluttershy is with animals, Twilight is with abominations of science and nature." She chuckled and glanced at Twilight. "Like, remember when you were experimenting with that summoning spell, and you brought up that nasty thing with all the tentacles, and --"

"We agreed never to speak of that again!" Twilight interrupted sharply.

"I didn't think Pinkie Pie was ever gonna walk straight after that!" Rainbow carried on, undaunted.

"And we're done here," Twilight said. "Come on, Adrian." She started to walk away, and I saw little choice but to follow.

"Aw, you're no fun!" Rainbow shouted after us.

We went further into town, to a shop that had been built to resemble a merry-go-round. Standing just outside the door were two winged gray ponies with helmets and armor. "Stop right there!" one of them said as Twilight attempted to enter the shop. "Ms. Sparkle, is this the human?"

"I am," I said. "What is it to you?"

"Mr. Parker, by order of Her Royal Highness, Celestia the Princess of Equestria, you are to be brought to the Canterlot Palace for questioning and refreshments."

I rubbed the bridge of my nose. "Oh Lord. First human soldiers ordering me around, now pony soldiers doing the same thing. I'd ask what's next, but I don't want to tempt fate." I looked at the war ponies. "And what happens if I refuse her order?"

"Her Highness reserves the right to punish such defiance with exile to any of the dungeons she maintains outside Equestrian territory," the guard answered.

For the first time in a while, I switched back to English to express my despair. "Jesus Chest-Bursting Christ."