• Published 29th Apr 2012
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The Last Holdouts - A Conversion Bureau Story - Aedina



The last few humans who've waited for conversion bid farewell to Earth as it succumbs to Equestria

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On Board The Bonne Chance

The Last

Holdouts

By Aedina

A C o n v e r s i o n B u r e a u S t o r y

Chapter One

On Board The Bonne Chance

Across the stretch of viscous sea the white yacht bobbed gently against the sheen of hazy gray smog. At the outer rim of the visible horizon was a rainbowed soap bubble dome, curving serenely into space in every direction. Slowly it impinged, subtle shifting of shadows mirrored in the cast of northern lights that flickered upon its translucent surface.

The Bonne Chance was a vision of luxury. A force shield surrounding the upper decks added its own eerie glow to the myriad of visual stimuli the guests and crew observed. Music of a bygone age could be heard above the clinking of fine crystal goblets...a farewell toast to a world that those on board would soon be exiting, permanently.

Oliver Heskin swirled the dark purple liquid idly. He was in no hurry to imbibe the potion that wafted up the scent of artificial grape to his wide nostrils. Most of his kind, the elite, the wealthy – had either already fled for the foreign shores of Equestria or stubbornly refused conversion, determined to die as they had lived, pitifully human to the end. This journey was his, shared with only the closest of friends, kin, and faithful crew. The sounds of his guests as they chatted quietly upon the deck bore an almost reverent solemnity in tone and volume, as venerable as prayer and as filled with awe.

Each of the cabins held large, soft mattresses. These were available for those who chose to make their transformation before the final countdown to immersion commenced. Only Oliver, it seemed, was willing to dare the wait, willing to risk the possibility that his metamorphosis might not be complete before his Earth, his Terra was swallowed into oblivion by a universe of Magic and wonder. Behind his elbow waited the Second Mate, nervously clearing his throat to gain the attention of his employer.

"Yes, Coppin?", he acknowledged, with a tilt of his head and a hand motion for the green-hued Mate to approach. Coppin wasn't the only pony on staff, but another pegasus on board was always a Goddess send for weather control on a voyage, as all were agreed.

"It's T minus 3 hours, Sir. Staff has begun to bring out the Equestrian cuisine options, and we've tapped a new

keg of serum. Would you like the bits brought out, Sir?" .

"Yes,it is about that time." he affirmed.

Oliver had arranged for a large "treasure" chest of Equestrian bits to be brought out on deck, along with a wide selection of saddle bags for his guests. Many of his shipmates were a little clueless about the ins and outs of Equestrian economics, and the weight and jingle of the coins might serve as reassurance to them. Oliver felt that the bits would help to provide a sense of security, however unnecessary, to those who could otherwise find themselves at a psychological disadvantage across the boundary. Granted that Heskin had been assured that all parties on board the Bonne Chance were assigned for New Foal Relocation that would enable them to get all four hooves firmly planted on the ground (or clouds, as may be). Knowing all too well that oversights happened even in the best of circumstances, Oliver had never been one to ignore the finer details of any issue. Insurance might be expensive, but the cost was vastly outweighed by the benefits - especially as Earthly wealth wasn't going to be worth a whole Hell of a lot in a very short while.

Letters from New Foals who'd settled beyond the barrier had hinted at a vast difference between the classes offered at the Conversion Bureau Centers and the realities of trying to fit in with a world they hadn't been able to fully comprehend until after their arrival. While most comparisons were of a positive nature, a few extra bits never hurt anypony. Reassurance was Oliver's forte, he'd once been highly sought out for this skill. From calming the most tentative of World Gov bureaucrats to delivering a steel clad contract when all hope seemed lost, Oliver had been "The Man".

He chuckled at the memories as he moved out to mingle. "Wonder what Cutey Mark that will translate into?", he mused.

As he perused the buffet selections it became apparent to him that there was an increase in the pastel motions of his promenade More clipped hoof steps could be heard in the mix of those who mingled on the deck. Bleary eyed ponies were waking just as a queue of his remaining human guests was forming around the newly tapped keg. A slender unicorn mare, parchment coated and midnight maned, delicately trotted to the railing, petite human shoes dangling from her mouth. Something seemed familiar about her to Oliver. Intrigued, he followed her, wondering if his instincts were correct.

"Hiromi?', he murmured, half hoping his guess would go unheard should he prove wrong. Conical ears

twisted towards him even as the mare placed the shoes neatly upon the deck beside the railings.

"How'd you know, Oli?", she asked as she turned her head, long slender neck arching beautifully.

Heskin's smile widened with his eyes, which seemed to take silent inventory of his friend's new form.

"Well, " he ventured, "that you'd become a unicorn was almost a given, but as for the rest, I'm not sure how,

I just sort of knew it was you."

Hiromi nickered as she turned in a pirouette clearly designed to show off her sleek new body. Long, soft lashes half lidded her eyes as she looked up at him, a slow deliberate wink of flirtation made him laugh.

"Oh, you're a spoilsport, Oli, go and reveal a mare's previous incarnation, and blow her cover, would you?"

She pouted, but instead of feeling perplexed, Heskin replied,

"My dear, had I known you wished to be incognito I would have held my tongue."

The unicorn tsked at him, "Now, now, there are far better ways to employ your tongue, or there will be once you drink that." She indicated the untouched potion in his hand with the point of her horn . "What're you waiting for? hmm? The Apocalypse?"

He shook his head, "Ragnarok is not yet upon us, mon petite belle, and while we're mixing our metaphors, why'd you let the other shoe drop?", he pointed to the shoes she'd just deposited on the foredeck.

"It's sort of an old Japanese custom, Oliver, when one was leaving a place they'd visited, they'd leave behind their shoes as a farewell to their host. One shoe facing each way meant that the guest hoped to return again someday, both shoes facing out was a way of saying they wouldn't be back. I was kind of thinking I could start a trend, really. Just another way of bidding adieu and embracing the new. " She gave a coquettish curtsy of her upper torso to him as she surveyed him. "I'll bet you'll be an Earth pony, Oli, you're just so ....... solid."

Heskin patted his prodigious paunch, "What a nice way to say I'm fat, Romi-chan." He bowed in turn, and made his excuses to her, working his way back to the beckoning buffet

As the evening progressed, Oliver pondered upon perceptions of Time. Odd sayings about Time dragging or flying had peppered every language on Earth, for as long as he could remember. The pressure in the air was truly the only perceivable change as the barrier grew closer to the ship. The bubble was so vast in their view that any growth of it would be far out of their range of vision by now. Had Coppin not kept him abreast of the countdown, he might well have forgotten how close the end was drawing.

"T minus two hours, Sir" was whispered into his ear in what seemed to him only a moment from the Mate's last check in.

"Be sure that the anesthetics are clearly marked, Coppin, don't want any last minute accidents, now, do we?"

"Of course, Sir, to be sure. I'll be flying out, now, for just a little while. The Captain thought I should do a last check on the air currents before we reach Final Hour. Anything you need of me before I take off, Sir?"

"Not that I can think of, thank you, Coppin."

"It's Greenwind, now, Sir." the pegasus corrected, hesitantly, "I've only just decided. Not very original, I know, but it seems to suite."

"Very well, Greenwind. How many here have chosen their names prior to conversion, do you think?"

The Mate gave a pony shrug, "I think lots are waiting until they see what they are, and what they look like, before choosing a name. Others say they want to decide based on their Conversion Dream, Sir. Have you got something picked out already?"

"One or two possibilities, it depends, and who knows, something else might come to mind when I've gone pony."

The Mate nodded, golden eyes shining vibrantly as the sky grew darker above them. He stretched out a pinion to gauge the wind, shouted, "Clear for Takeoff!" and galloped towards the prow as the crowd parted to let him pass. Watching the Mate take flight never seemed to grow old to anypony, and many shielded their eyes with a hand or hoof in the attempt to follow his ascent into the sky.