• Published 29th Aug 2013
  • 8,093 Views, 378 Comments

A Skitch in Time (Revised) - GreyGuardPony



When a transgender Brony in denial is turned into a mare and dragged to Equestria she is forced to deal with issues long buried. To make matters worse, whatever force caused her change has darker plans for the world. Can Equestria be saved in time?

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Wake Me Up...

The first sensation Jake registered as he came to was warmth. The warmth of soft blankets, fresh linens, and a fluffy pillow under his head. He couldn't help but smile. The warm embrace of his bed was a cuddly sanctuary against the slings and arrows of the day. Especially after a nightmare like that with someone poking and prodding at him. If he could, he'd stay in the bed all day.

Gotta get up though, gotta find a job.

Stifling a yawn, Jake opened his eyes and immediately regretted it. The room laid out before him was not his. It was far too bright for starters, the colors of the world somehow seeming all the more vibrant and real. There was also the fact that the room was of all wood construction, a rustic, hand made quality to it.

“Wha?”

His eyes went wide at the sound of his own voice. Soft and higher pitched compared to the voice he had been used to hearing. Instinctively, he clapped his hands to his mouth only to be shocked by another unpleasant revelation. Hooves. A pair of leaf green hooves were where his hands should have been.

A startled, very girly, shriek escaped his lips as he thrashed about in panic. The efforts resulted in not much more than the blankets becoming tangled and wrapped around a body that was now completely unfamiliar to Jake. He toppled out of bed, the blankets following behind, as he smacked a snout that he didn't have before off the floor.

“Stupid, fucking...” He swore, pulling herself to his new hooves, wincing at the clip clop sounds they made on the wooden floor. A further glance around the room revealed that there was a standing mirror next to the dresser and Jake quickly ran over to it.

The reflection in the mirror was...cute. It showed a unicorn with a leaf green coat, a matching stripe of the color carried over into the sky blue mane and tail. A crossed paintbrush and pencil stood out on each flank; cutie-marks signifying a special talent that was completely alien to Jake's mind. And the eyes. They were a striking amber color and framed by lashes that were unmistakably feminine.

Jake winced, his pony ears slicking back instinctively, the figure in the mirror steadfastly refusing to change back to the human form he was so familiar with. Closing his eyes he took a shuddering breath, trying to fight down the desire to panic.

Okay Jake. You're gonna open your eyes, and be back at home and not a pony. This is just the end result of too much Friendship is Magic and...food poisoning or something. There is absolutely, positively no way you're a small leaf green equine. You will. Not. Panic.

He opened his eyes. The small leaf green equine stared back. He panicked.

A second very girly scream escaped his lips, as Jake back-pedalled from the mirror. “What...I...this...WHAT?!”

He began to pace, forcing himself to look away from the mirror, his tail swishing back and forth in agitation.

“Pony. Pony? Pony!? I'm a freaking My Little Pony. No...this can't actually be happening. It has to be some kind of crazy dream. There's no way I can actually be walking around as a pony. Wait..., ” He blinked, looking down at his hooves, “...I'm walking?”

Jake knew full well that the hoof of a horse was basically one giant nail and that this should have been like standing on permanent tip-toe, not to mention the mechanics of controlling four legs.

His frown and confusion growing deeper, Jake shuffled to the right, then back to the left his hooves nimbly finding their way and not tangling or tripping over each other. Turning, he ran in a circle, breaking into a full gallop. He did two circuits around the bedroom, before stopping at the mirror again.

Staring back at the reflection, the unreality of the situation crashed down upon him. His heart began to race, a trembling sensation beginning to shiver through his form as the room almost began to spin. His legs gave out and he fell to the floor, trembling on the small circular carpet that rested in the middle of the room. Pulling his forelegs over his head and squeezing his eyes shut.

He wasn't sure how long he lay on the floor, trying to ignore the immoveable nature of the things at the end of what was once his arms and legs, the thing that was growing out of his spine, and the way his ears now seemed to be able to move on their own, but eventually the nervous tremors faded.

He sighed, rubbing the back of his head from his position on the floor. “This is completely nuts...wait...”

There was a lump on the back of his head. Decent sized too, like it came from a severe strike or impact. So it wasn't enough to wind up as a pony, he wound up as one with head trauma too?

“Okay,” He winced, continuing to rub at the bump, “I don't remember how I got like this, and I can't do anything to fix it until I work out what has happened. And that starts with taking a full accounting of my surroundings.”

The room itself was shaped like a quarter of a circle, the bed pressed up against the external wall, right under a rectangular shaped window. A small night stand was next to the bed, a small brown covered journal and what looked like a money pouch resting upon its top.

The wall facing the foot of the bed was adorned by a simple set of narrow bookshelves, which were themselves only half full, while the wall opposite the bed had a sliding closet built into it. A quick peek inside the latter revealed a small collection of dresses. The walls themselves were horizontal wood panelling.

A quick flip through the journal revealed that it was less than useful. Instead of being a collection of life events, each entry was a series of notes on a painting or some kind of art project; always a name in the upper left hand corner and a sum of bits scrawled in the lower right hand.

“...Work orders?” Jake blinked, “That's a strange thing to keep in a journal.”

Turning his attention to the door, he stepped outside and into a hallway slash balcony that overlooked a large circular room. Even from here, Jake could clearly see canvases set up on easels, but there was a door to his right, just down the hallway slightly.

Over years of playing role-playing games like D&D, Jake had developed a certain pattern for searching dungeons. Move from right to left when possible, and never move onto the next level before the current one was done. In the absence of explanations or even common sense, Jake defaulted back to that pattern as he trotted into the bathroom.

Like the bedroom, it was about a fourth of a circle and with the bedroom completed the bottom half of the circular structure. Stepping inside, Jake took quick stock of the contents. Toilet (thank god), tub and medicine cabinet above a sink. What most caught Jake's attention, however, was the glass bottle and cork that rested on the sink's edge.

Slowly walking over to it, Jake frowned looking down at one of his hooves as he contemplated how to properly pick the bottle up to examine it closer. A soft twinkling sound echoed through the room, pulling Jake out of his deep thoughts. Looking up, Jake's eyes almost doubled in size at the sight of the glass bottle now floating before him, wrapped in a shimmering aura the same color as his new eyes.

“Oh...oh come on,” He muttered weakly, “This just isn't right. How can I know how to do this?”

Unable to pull a satisfactory answer for that from the ether, Jake instead read the bottle's label.

“Painkillers?”

And open too. Some had been taken recently. He rubbed the lump on the back of his head not liking the implications of that at all.

With not much else to find upstairs at the moment, Jake turned his investigations to the downstairs. Taking them two at a time, he skidded into the main room of the building, blinking at the sight that greeted him.

The room was a great circle, the walls on the back half adorned with shelves that were built right into the wood, two wide and curtained windows flanking a door on the half that faced the street. Off to his right, a small door lead to a little kitchen slash dining area.

Smells filled the room, the vaguely metallic smell of paint, a slightly sweet smell from inks most likely derived from dried berry pigments, the kind of dusty smell from charcoal and the crisp smell of fresh paper. It all mixed together to form that inescapable “artists loft” potpourri.

As he had seen before, a few easels were set up. But what he had been unable to see before was the closed can of paint that was laying on the floor. A little bit away from there, more art objects lay where they had fallen in the line of duty. A collection of pencils, paint brushes, chalk and charcoal all laying where they had been knocked from the shelf.

To Jake, it looked like someone had tripped over the paint can, causing the resulting crash and the scattering of the materials. He rubbed at the lump again, the twisting sensation of dread that existed in the pit of his stomach since waking up growing all the more agitated.

“Well,” He muttered under his breath turning his eyes towards the curtains, “That leaves us only one more thing to check.”

Trotting over to the windows he grabbed the edge of one of the curtains- pressing down the desire to freak out over the fact that it was still coming instinctively- and pulled it back slightly to peek at the outside.

Ponies.

Ponies everywhere.

Ponyville's circular town hall rose before his eyes, clearly indicating that the building that he was in was just off the town square. Said town square was full of ponies going about their daily routines, earth ponies and unicorns walking to and fro, pegasai flying by overhead.

He recognized many of them. Lyra and Bon Bon broke around a corner, side by side. Mayor Mare was standing near the town hall doors, chatting with Filthy Riche about something. Ditzy Doo winged her way past, dressed in her mail mare's uniform, while Cheerilee lead a group of foals- including the Cutie-Mark Crusaders- along to what he presumed was school.

There were plenty more that he didn't recognize though. A caramel colored pegasus was hocking news papers near the steps of town hall, the vibrant red color of her mane and tail repeated in the tips of her wing feathers. Across the way, a gray earth pony stallion easily as large as Big Mac was dressed in studded leather barding, a wickedly sharp looking halberd resting on a bale of hay next to him.

A bright swatch of pink entered Jake's field of view as Pinkie Pie came along, wide smile plastered across her muzzle and with a spring in her step that was less metaphorical and more of an actual description of her means of locomotion. Pinkie turned her head slightly, her eyes meeting Jake's as she stopped bouncing along, her smile turning into a full blown grin as she rapidly waved at him.

Jake let the curtain fall back into place, blinking at everything he had just seen, before rubbing his eyes. Ponies, Ponyville, and the element of laughter. His brain was already having a hard enough time accepting his own appearance, so this seemed even more impossible. He pulled the curtain back to double check.

He jerked back from the window in shock. Pinkie now had her face pressed right up against the glass and was still waving like she was overjoyed to see him. He let the curtain fall again. Before he had a chance to work out what to do about that fact, a rapid sequence of knocks were thrown against the building's door.

“Hey Skitchy! Didn't you see me waving? Don't you want to say good morning?”

Jake stared at the door like it was a land shark on the other side and not the bright pink master of parties.

“Skitchy! Skkkkiiiittttcchhhyyyy!” Came the sing song call, “Come on, open up! Oh!” A worried tone crept into her voice. “Are you sick? Do you need some extra yummy make everything better slurpy soup?”

The handle rattled, Pinkie testing the door.

“Yes! Yes Pinkie, I'm not feeling that well right now, ” Jake laughed nervously, “I got a...a...really bad headache! I tripped over one of my paint cans and hit my head, so I'm just going to rest for now. Okay?”

“Oh! Oki-doki-loki!” She responded, the cheerfulness returning to her voice in an instant, “Rest well Skitchy! I'll see you later.”

After waiting a few minutes in silence, Jake walked slowly over to the door and opened it just a crack. No Pinkie Pie. He sighed, closing the door again. Trotting back over to the center of the room, he sat down and began to mull over what he knew for sure.

“Okay. What do I know. I was at home, and then...and then....” He frowned, searching the depths of his memory for what had happened next. But all that he could conjure up was muddled mixtures of light and shadow and then waking up in this house.

“Why can't I remember?” He muttered, getting back to his hooves and beginning to pace. “Someone has to be screwing with me. There's no other possible explanation for why I'm a unicorn mare in Ponyville.”

Even as he said that though, his eyes fell on the paint can again. The spilled art supplies, the painkillers, the fact that Pinkie Pie had recognized this body and had a name to go with it. All of those spoke to other possibilities.

“Not enough information yet.” He concluded, stomping a hoof on the floor.

Glancing back at the door, he figured that the best way to start would be to look around town. The body seemed to be known by Pinkie Pie at least, and as Pinkie threw the welcome party for every pony that came to town, that was a data point he could use.

He trotted back upstairs, grabbing the saddlebags from the closet and securing them on his back before tossing the money pouch into one of the pockets. Then, snatching up the book and a pencil, he flipped to a blank page.

- Pinkie Pie has thrown this body a party.

Tucking both away with the money pouch he made for the front door and stepped out into the street. None of the ponies in the street reacted strangely to his presence, which seemed to back up Pinkie's reaction. Rolling his eyes up, he could see a sign above the door. Skitch-Sketch's Art Emporium.

Well, that would explain Pinkie calling me Skitchy.

Looking away from the sign, his eyes locked onto town hall. It was probably the best place to start. It would probably have records on immigration into Ponyville, which would help establish if this body was an actual resident.

He strode across the town square, walking up the steps, pausing and then walking back down the stairs to grab a paper from the caramel colored pegasus.

“Good morning!” She beamed.

“Morning.” Jake nodded back, “One copy please.”

A bit was exchanged for the morning edition and Jake tucked it into the saddlebags for now. There would be time to read it after he poked around inside.

Mayor Mare and Filthy Riche had moved on, so Jake was unaddressed as he stepped inside. The interior of the town hall was all the more impressive in person. High half oval vaulted glass windows circled the whole second level, letting natural light flow into the building, illuminating the banners that hung from the ceiling and the rows of file cabinets below.

The balcony where Nightmare Moon had made her grandiose entrance was at the far end of the room and featured an addition to it's appearance from that episode. A wide hand- or would that be hoof- painted banner now hung from the railing depicting the Mane Six's banishment of Nightmare Moon.

“Come by to see your work again?”

Jake jumped slightly at the address. Facing the speaker, he was greeted by the smiling face of Mayor Mare.

“It really helps pull the room together, I think, seeing this town's biggest heros in their moment of triumph.”

“...Yes! Yes it is!” Jake grinned nervously, “But I was just here to look at some documents.”

“Oh? Do you know what you're looking for?” She chuckled, “Not trying to invade any other pony's privacy I hope!”

Jake laughed nervously again. “No! No! No...no. I just wanted to take another look at that...paperwork stuff.”

Mayor Mare blinked, staring in confusion.

“You know, that stuff I filled out when I first moved to town?”

Jake really hoped that such a collection of paperwork actually existed, and that he hadn't just made the mayor think that he was insane, or something.

“Oh! You mean the census forms?” She blinked. “Why do you want to see those?”

“Oh...well, I might have filled part of it out wrong.”

Please buy it. Please buy it. Please buy it.

“Oh, okay.” She nodded, pointing to a row of files, “Should be over there.”

Jake nodded to her and trotted over to the drawers. They were all marked clearly with letters in alphabetical order.

Let's see, this body's name starts with an S... He thought while he rummaged through the drawer in question. Sassaflash, Sea Swirl, ah ha! Here we are, Skitch-Sketch.

The census form was pretty simple, all things considered.

Name: Skitch-Sketch Tribe: Unicorn Age: 22 Gender: Female
Previous Residence: Canterlot
Cutie-Mark: Crossed Pencil and Paintbrush
Career: Freelance Artist
Parents: Apple Polish (Mother), Black Marble (Father)

“That's it?” Jake blinked, flipping the page over to see if there was anything else and finding only blank paper, “That's a pretty light census form. Still...it's something.”

Out the book came, and another data point was added to the list.

- Body has at least some established past. Born in Canterlot. Has parents.

With the newspaper being the only other solid...anything, he had at his disposal right now, Jake trotted back out of the town hall. He had made it about halfway back to “his” house when another familiar sounding voice cut through the air.

“Oh there you are darling!”

“Whosa wha?” Jake blinked.

Rarity was making a beeline for him, a wide smile on her muzzle, perfectly styled mane and tail bouncing slightly as she rushed along.

“Oh, what fresh hell is this.” Jake muttered under his breath, before breaking into a wide smile as Rarity drew close, “Rarity! What can I do for you?”

“It's more what I can do for you. Your dress for the Grand Galloping Gala is ready. All that's left is to give it a proper fitting. I was just on my way over to get you.”

What? Grand Galloping....WHAT?!

“Actually, I kind of got some...things...,” He motioned to the house with his head, “That I need to take care of. So...later maybe?”

“Nonsense! It won't take but a minute and I would like to do it now in case I need to do more alterations.”

Jake bit his lip. “I dunno….Isn’t the Gala still a bit away?” He guessed, hoping he was correct.

“Pretty please?” Rarity smiled, batting her eyelashes, “I want to have everything ready far ahead of time.”

“...Okay. But let's make it quick.”

With a grin of delight, Rarity began to lead the way back to Carousel Boutique. Jake followed, ears slicked back, wondering what just exactly he had gotten himself into.

- - - -

The answer to that question, it turned out, was standing stock still so that none of Rarity's pins scored accidental pricks. Jake had passed the time while Rarity worked by taking in every inch of the boutique's interior. It was very pink. Somehow even more pink in person than on TV.

It's like...how much more pink could this be? And the answer to that question is...Pinkie Pie. That's how much more pink it could be.

His eyes fell on a photo that was hanging above the three mirrors that Rarity used to show off the finished dresses on her clients. It showed a Rarity in a much more thread-bare looking boutique, proudly holding up a dress and a bag of bits.

“Hey Rarity...what's with that photo? I'm not sure I've noticed it before.”

Rarity rolled her eyes towards the photo, smiling. “Ah, yes. That was the first dress I made after I bought Carousel Boutique. It's a little memento of the moment.”

She made a last minor adjustment before nodding to herself. “There we go dear.” Rarity beamed as she placed some kind of hat on Jake's head, “Take a look and tell me what you think.”

A glance in the mirrors revealed Rarity's creation. It was a two piece affair made out of soft black fabric. The top wrapped comfortably around the chest and across the withers, forming almost a vest. The skirt piece of the dress was devoid of flashy bits, simply draping over the croup and dock, it's hem falling to the midpoint of the cannon. A little beret rested neatly on his head.

“I feel like I should be at a coffee shop poetry slam.”

“Well that is intentional dear. You wanted something that would be stylish outside of the Gala as well. I call it Canterlot Coffeehouse Couture!”

Jake couldn't help himself, that elicited a smile.

“But do you like it, dear?”

“It's thrills-ville daddyo.” Jake smiled, “Can you wrap it up for me?”

“Of course darling.” Rarity nodded, beginning to pull the dress off Jake's body and folding it up.

“So, how much do I owe you?”

Rarity blinked, pausing her work. “I thought we had discussed that already darling. You did some work for me and I was giving you the dress in exchange.”

Jake blinked, laughing nervously. “Oh! Yes! Sorry, I just forgot what it was. I've just had a lot on my mind as of late.”

“Hmm. Now that you mention it, exactly what you did has slipped my mind as well. But, more importantly anything you need to talk about?”

Jake thought that question over while Rarity folded up the rest of the dress. Telling the Mane Six what he thought had happened to him was a viable option. Magical knowledge and a fast line to Princess Celestia that was hard to turn down.

On the other hand, his grand total of his own investigations since waking up had consisted of checking one file at town hall, and then being ambushed by a fashionista. He would like to have more to present than his own spotty memories.

Besides, when am I going to get the chance to explore Ponyville again? He thought, unable to completely suppress the fan-boyish desires to look around some.

Rarity passed over the package, Jake tucking it away into one of the saddlebags. He nodded to her.

“Thanks Rarity.”

“Not a problem at all darling. I'll be glad to have another artiste from Ponyville at the Gala.”

Jake chuckled at that, nodding to Rarity again and trotting out the door. Rarity watched the green unicorn go, a slight frown crossing her face as she turned her attention back to her other projects.

The frown grew deeper as she began to sew, a nagging voice in the back of her head refusing to be quiet. A question that repeated itself with each impact of the needle into thread.

Why couldn't she remember what had been done in exchange for the dress?

- - - -

With a sigh of frustration, Jake plopped himself down one of the hay bale seats at the Ponyville Cafe. Digging out the newspaper that he had bought earlier and the brown book from the nightstand, the latter was rested on the table, while the former was unfolded.

“Let's see what events are in the world today.”

The headline of the Ponyville Gazette was not what he expected.

Elkienhiem and North Griffin Confederation Sign Military Alliance

Gustav the Second, emperor of Elkienhiem and Eckhard Ironclaw, high chancellor of the High Confederation of Wings signed a treaty of military alliance in the griffin capital of Dreshden last night. According to a statement released by the two governments, the treaty is to “promote the defense and prosperity of the elk and griffin peoples in light of the growing Equestrian lead super block of allied nations.”...

“Your usual miss?”

He almost hadn't heard the question, his mind swimming from the political headline and connected implications. Looking up, he was greeted by the waiters questioning expression.

“Uhh...yeah...sure, give me my usual.”

The waiter nodded once disappearing back into the building, Jake throwing himself back into the article.

Princess Celestia released her own statement this morning, calling the fears of the griffin and elk leaders unfounded. “Equestria only desires friendship and cooperation with it's neighbors. We have no dark designs on either nation and I hope that this decision will at least provide Gustav and Eckhard with some manner of peace.”

Celestia’s statement was echoed by tapir emperor Placido the Magnanimous who...

Jake sighed, folding up the paper and dropping it on the table. He wasn’t in the mood to read more of the New York Times, Equestrian Edition. Sliding the book with his notes over to him, he flipped it to his page of notes and added the other information he had found so far.

“Right. Work out the possibilities. Run it just like your troubleshooting a computer problem.”

A plate containing a sandwich and a collection of hay fries was placed on the table in front of him as the waiter returned. “Anything else?”

“What?” Jake blinked. “Ummm. No. Nothing at all.” He absent mindedly reached into the saddlebags with his magic, digging out coins and dumping a pile on the table. Turning his attention back to his notes, Jake missed the way the waiter's eyes doubled in size as he scooped them up and rushed back into the building.

“So, first possibility.” Jake muttered, continuing to scribble down notes. “Human in Equestria option. I, via some means, have wound up in Equestira. Evidence in support...,” He glanced around, taking in Ponyville's distinctive thatched roofs, “Surrounded by it. Evidence against. The fact that none of this should be real.”

He paused from writing to examine the sandwich. Thin slices of carrot and tomato with a rose petal topper. Frowning, he took an experimental bite, suspicion turning to a pleasant smile as he found that it tasted alright. And so, another data point was added to the list.

- Taste buds seem to have changed.

“Possibility the second, considering what I found in the house. I have always been a pony and I whacked my head so damn hard off of the wall that I swallowed a bunch of painkillers, passed out in bed, and imagined a whole 'nother life.”

It seemed unlikely. The memories of his own life were still very clear in his head and while the mare who's body he seemed to have did seem to have a past, he couldn't remember any of it.

“Can't rule it out yet though.” He sighed, idly tapping a hoof against the table. “It would explain how I have this muscle memory of walking and using magic.”

Rubbing at the lump on his head again, an idea on how to rule out that possibility clicked in his mind. Throwing the newspaper and book back into the saddlebags he took a few steps away from the table, paused, then returned to it; grabbing the sandwich he wolfed it down as he headed across town towards Ponyville General.

- - - -

“And follow the light.”

Doctor Stable slowly moved the crystal tipped flashlight across Jake's field of vision. Jake dutifully followed the doctor's commands, tracking the bright light to the best of his abilities. A few moments of monotony passed before the doctor switched it off.

“Now recite the months of the year backwards, starting with December.”

“December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January.”

Doctor Stable nodded. “Well, I have to say Skitch-Sketch, I think that you're just fine.”

“Really? And the dreams of the bipedal fur-less creatures?”

“Dreams are dreams and they are not required to make sense.” He chuckled, “Once I had a dream about being attacked by tongue depressors. But you have no blood in the fovea of the eye, no evidence of cognitive impairment, no evidence of motor skill impairment. Without any evidence of other symptoms I have to call it like I see it. Just a dream.”

Jake sighed, moving onto another tract.

“Hypothetical for you then, doctor.”

Doctor Stable nodded, motioning for him to continue.

“Let's say that you had a pony come in, saying that they can't remember anything about their life, but are instead remembering a different life. What would you do?”

“Assuming that we've already ruled out some kind of physical injury, like we just did?”

Jake nodded. Doctor Stable regarded him carefully for a moment before trotting to the door and calling down the hallway.

“Doctor Clear Health? Could I borrow you for a minute?”

The unicorn that trotted into the room was another shock to what Jake was expecting from Ponyville. Her golden wheat colored coat and straight reddish-brown mane and tail were normal enough, as was the red cross cutie-mark surrounded by sparkles.

What was more odd was the clothing she was wearing. A cream colored silk garment with golden square patterns along it's edge, wrapped diagonally across her breast and withers, the longer right edge hanging half way down her right foreleg. The effect made the unicorn look like she stepped right out of India, one enhanced by the fact that the tip of her horn was painted red. Her dark brown eyes were warm, a wide smile crossing her muzzle as she bowed slightly to Jake.

“Greetings. How can I be of assistance?”

“Miss Skitch-Sketch here has had a disturbing dream and has some questions about false memories. I was hoping that you could help calm her nerves by checking her for any magical interference?”

Still smiling widely, Doctor Clear Health nodded, her horn lighting up. “This won't hurt at all. Just a routine observation.”

Nervousness, fear and curiosity were slugging it out in the pit of Jake's stomach, but he nodded to the doctor all the same. “Go ahead.”

A yellow tint overtook Jake's vision, Clear Health gently wrapping her magical aura around his head as her own eyes began to glow with the same yellow light. Her expression was hard to read, at once both curious and warm. But after a few minutes of this spell observation the good doctor let the spell go.

“Well,” She reported with a smile, “I can confidently say that your mind is not being affected by any kind of spell that I can find with basic magical examinations.”

“But...what if it's something rare and super powerful?”

She chuckled, putting a friendly foreleg around his withers. “You ever hear the expression 'When you hear hoof beats in Ponyville, don't go looking for zebras?'”

“Uhh...no. Can't say that I have heard that.”

“Good! I made it up myself.” She quickly beamed, before pausing and idly rubbing her chin, “Of course, that was before we had an actual zebra move into the area, but I think that it still works.”

“Uhh...”

“The point is, we are trained to rule out the common and the likely before we go searching for rare maladies and maledictions. I see nothing wrong with you. So take the rest of the day off, relax, and then if symptoms continue, come back and we'll start searching for Magdorian Mind Pox.”

“Well...”

“Trust us.” Doctor Stable grinned, “We're highly trained medical professionals.”

- - - -

Jake drew a light x mark through the second option on his list as he left Ponyville General. Trotting down the empty road, back towards town, he considered what had happened. At least he had been able to scratch off one possibility as to how this madness happened. He kept his more equine snout buried in the book as he scribbled down other possibilities.

“Option the third. I am dead and this is heaven.”

That option was removed from the book with a series of frantic scribbles almost as soon as it had left his lips. If heaven did exist, and it was Equestria, and Celestia was god, he was pretty sure that there would have been more equine references in Christianity. Besides, clashing super blocks of nations did not scream “eternal paradise” to him.

“Option the fourth. I cracked my head off something at home, and this is a mental construct that my brain is forming, based on the last bit of media I watched, as I bleed out on the floor of my bedroom.”

Mulling over that option, it made a disturbing amount of sense, the way it tied all the loose ends together. The shadowy figures looming over him in his memories...well, those could easily be doctors in the hospital. And if this was his own mental creation, it would explain how he could walk and use magic.

But, he really, really didn't want that to be the case. He didn't want to think that he might be dying.

A deep frown crossed his muzzle. “Or maybe I've just gone stark, raving, fucking mad!” He snarled, whipping the book to the ground, “There is no damn way that this should be happening! No damn way I should be a girl unicorn in the middle of Ponyville!”

Pacing from one side of the road to the other, the rant flowed freely, frustration bubbling to the surface again.

“Even approaching this situation logically isn't getting me anywhere. Everything about this situation completely defies logic! The complete lack of logic is so damn intense here that I'd swear that Discord was involved...except he's not supposed to be real either!”

He stopped his pacing, snatching up the book with an angry flourish of magic that only served to annoy him further as he stalked back towards Ponyville proper. As he continued to stomp towards Ponyville, the anger began to drain away, leaving behind an empty, almost strained feeling in the pit of his stomach.

He would go to Twilight Sparkle. Regardless of the outcome, be it a way back to earth or a padded room in an Equestrian mental institution, it would be some kind of answer. Approaching the thatch buildings of the town again, he was forced to admit that while talking to Twilight was the wisest move, that he didn't want to do it tonight.

While part of him was afraid of what might happen when he talked to Twilight there was another, and much louder, part of him that was shouting one thing that his inner fanboy could not ignore.

If this was real and not some kind of mental construct, when would he ever have a chance to see Ponyville again?

“Fuck it.” He smiled wryly, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow I may die.”

- - - -

The sun was going down by the time Jake worked his way over to Berry Punches' Beer Garden. He had gotten some cupcakes from Sugarcube Corner (Pinkie was overjoyed to see him again), caught a movie at the theater (Escape from Manehatten), and then toured the rest of the town (the weather patrol's tower looked oddly precarious in his opinion). But now...now it was time to drink.

Warm light and happy laughter danced through the open windows.

“It's time I'll take before I begin.” He grinned, quoting one of his favorite songs on the subject, “Three sheets to the wind, three sheets to the wind.”

Stepping into the bar, his eyes roamed over the crowd. Much like what he had seen in the town square earlier today, it was a mix of ponies that he knew and completely new ponies. Lyra and Bon Bon were sharing some wine and a large salad in corner booth, while Big Mac sat at the bar, enjoying a large mug of beer. Berry Punch was behind the bar, mixing and slinging drinks with a dexterity that one would not think hooves could provide.

The seats at the end of the bar were occupied by a pair of stallions that looked a little shifty to Jake. One white coated, one light green coated, both tough looking. Traveling mercenaries or something, Jake guessed. He took a seat on the other side of Big Mac from them.

Berry trotted right up to where he was sitting, wide grin on her muzzle. “Evenin' hun! Your usual?”

“Actually...I'm in the mood for something a little harder tonight. Whatcha got?”

Berry winked, dropping a shot glass on the bar top and filling it up with a golden liquor.

“Try some applejack, not to be confused with thee Applejack, of course.”

Picking up the glass, Jake observed it for a moment before tossing the whole thing back. Slightly sweet with a hint of apples at first, before the more bitter alcohol taste kicked in and burned down his throat.

“Ahhh....now that's the stuff.”

Dropping a few more bits on the bar top, he nodded to her. “Leave the bottle.”

“You sure?”

“Trust me. I know my limits.”

- - - -

Jake giggled as he flopped sideways, his body falling against Big Mac's. “Biiig Mac...yer fur is shoooo shooooft! I...I could jusht get losht in it.”

Jake suspected that he was drunk. He...she?...he had a nice buzz going and everything...well everything was just great right now. Feeling across the bar with a hoof, he picked up the bottle of applejack. Another giggle escaped his lips as he stared at the way he was somehow holding the booze.

“Jusht look at it! Look at it! I dun even know how I'm holdin the thing without those...things...the little grabby things...”

“You mean fingers?” Berry asked, looking up from the glass she was cleaning.

Jake's eyes went wide as he leaned forward across the bar. “How...how do you know what fingersh are? None of ush have fingersh.”

“I've seen a minotaur, Skitch. They have hands and fingers.”

A very wide grin crossed Jake's face.

“Of course! Why didn't I think of that...thatsh somethin ta tell the guys on Equeshtria Daily when I get home...”

“Ooookay.” Berry Punch blinked. She carefully reached over and removed the bottle of alcohol from the unicorn's grip, “I think you've had enough Skitch. You're doing that thing where nothing you're saying makes sense anymore.”

“Awww. No, no, no....nooooo. I've...I've drunk WAY more than thish before. Ah'll be fine. Ah'll be....fine. I...am a very pretty, pretty mare and I'll be fine!”

His head hit the table with a thud, the sounds of drunken snoring filling the air a moment later. Berry rolled her eyes slightly. “Big Mac, any chance you could take her home?”

“Eeyup.”

- - - -

Across town, Rarity was burning the midnight oil as it were. The blank spots in her memory that Skitch's earlier visit had revealed had nagged at her all day. Attention to detail was something that had served her well in dressmaking and now she was turning that attention towards her interactions with the green unicorn known as Skitch-Sketch.

She had found the drawings for Skitch's gala dress, both the good one and the disastrous one . The latter had been based off of an artists' smock and, much like Applejack's, had horrid “functionality” bolted onto it. Unlike with Applejack, however, she couldn't actually remember drawing these designs. She couldn't remember what requests the artist pony had made to get to this point either.

Frowning, she turned her attention to her ledgers. There was a line item in her yearly expenditures for a bolt of black fabric, presumably what was used to make said dress. But there was a large problem with that.

The standard bolt of fabric that she ordered for her projects was forty yards long, which came out to about one hundred and twenty feet. She wouldn't have used even a fourth of that to make Skitch's garment. Yet, there was no other black fabric in her shop.

“If I didn't know any better, I'd say that somepony had altered my records.” She muttered, her expression becoming downright incensed, “But I still have these incomplete memories of doing this!”

Slamming the book closed, she sighed in frustration. “Something very weird is going on here. I'll speak to Skitch about it more in the morning and figure out what's happening!”

- - - -

“She could become a crazy cat lady!” Pinkie Pie gasped.

“She only has one cat.” Twilight pointed out.

“Give her time!”

“Come on girls!” Skitch pointed out. “We need to think of something to cheer Rarity up! We can do this.”

“Hmm...” Twilight hummed, peering through a keyhole, “I have an idea.”

A little bit later they were in the main room, pulling Rarity's original designs together under Fluttershy's instructions. Everything was progressing just fine, and soon their friend would be back to her normal self.

“It's all a lie, you know.”

Skitch blinked, scanning the room for the unknown mare. “Did anypony else hear that?”

“Hear what? Twilight asked as she looked up from where she was working.

“This memory isn't real. You are being lied to.”

Continuing to scan the room, Skitch jumped backwards as one of the ponyquins gazed at her with intense hazel eyes. Stammering, she scrambled next to her friends, pointing a shaking arm at it.

“T-there! That ponyquin is staring at me!”

“Oooo! Is this a new game?” Pinkie grinned, bouncing in place, “Let me think of something to have watch us!”

“Pinkie! I'm not kidding, that thing is looking at me!”

“SNAP OUT OF IT!”

A second, strange mare's voice now echoed through the room.

“NO! It's MINE!”

All of her friends vanished, the room furnishings melting away like wax as the walls became silvery and pliable. The whole affair then folded inwards, trapping Skitch in what she could only describe as a bag. Screaming in panic she began to thrash, kick, and jab her horn against the sides of her prison; the silvery walls refused to yield, her horn unable to puncture the silver walls.

“No! Leave me alone! Just let me go back to my friends!”

They...they were her friends right? She had moved to Ponyville two years ago...and...and...

Twin planes of metal passed through the top of the bag prison, light washing over her form as the whole affair was tipped forward. Skitch furiously kicked, trying to press herself against the bottom of the bag, but gravity played it's part and she toppled forward.

Spilling out of the bag, the wind was knocked from her lungs as she hit the varnished wood of a giant sized desk. Pushing herself to her hooves, she was bowled over again as an oversized card crashed down upon her, having also spilled from the container.

It was pulled off of her a moment later, Skitch flicking her gaze up at what removed it. Male human, late twenties, short cropped blonde hair and slightly overweight. It was her! The real her, but wrought in giant size as he looked over the card. Glancing behind her, Skitch got a good look at what she had just been dumped out of.

The shiny covering, the distinctive logo and the pictures of ponies on the front told her everything that she needed to know.

“A blind bag?!”

A shadow loomed over her, pulling her attention away from the bit of pony merchandise. She looked up to see the hand of her doppelganger closing in like some giant executioners axe.

She ran, charging across the desk in a desperate attempt to get away from herself, weaving past oversized pencils, and pocket change. The shadow still grew closer, and in a moment of weakness, Skitch glanced behind her. Her hooves chose that moment to find a thumb drive and she was once again sent to the ground.

“No...” She moaned as she pushed herself away from the incoming hand, “You're not me! I'm me! I'm supposed to be the human collecting pony figures! This isn't happening! STAY AWAY!”

As the fingers touched her, she felt her body size up, freezing into a set pose- right front foreleg raised, head tilted back- as she went from flesh and blood, to cheap plastic and paint. She was placed carefully, almost lovingly, among an army of similar pony figures.

Everypony that she knew from the show was there, as well as many of the ones she had seen around town. She tried to struggle and move, but found that to be quite impossible. She was trapped and frozen, stuck mimicking the same pose as Rarity in the row in front of her. Whispers and muffled voices shot through the ranks.

It sounded like they were screaming.

- - - -

Jake screamed as he snapped back to reality, the world spinning under his hooves as his vision righted itself.

His heart was hammering in his chest like a jackhammer, barrel heaving from the panicked breaths that he was taking. Glancing around, he could see that he had left Berry Punch's. In fact, he seemed to be standing outside the door to his body's house. The moon was still high in the sky, so it couldn't have been that long since he face planted in Berry's.

“How...how did I get here?” He muttered, scanning the empty streets of Ponyville, “Why aren't I drunk?”

As he stood there, he could feel something on his head, like he was wearing a hat. Blinking, he pulled the offending garment into view, only for another shocked yelp to escape his lips as he took in exactly what he had.

Applejack's stetson floated before him, daring for an explanation.

Author's Note:

People who read the first pass on this fic will remember that the Mane Six's memories weren't effected by the nature of the spell that stuck Skitch into the world.

In retrospect, I think that was a large mistake, for a big reason.

Despite ostensibly main characters in the fic, they didn't really have anything to do aside from react to the human in their midst. Sure, there was a hint at a larger mystery being there, but I never felt that I handled it well in the story. I wanted it to be more of a thing in this one, give them something to do, and detail oriented Rarity picked up on the first discrepancy.

It was very amusing to write Skitch drunk though. When you loose a few feet of height and some weight, it's easy to misjudge just how much alchohol you can drink before getting hammered.

Anyway, I hope that you all enjoyed this updated chapter and that you'll enjoy the next one!

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