• Published 21st Nov 2014
  • 1,496 Views, 106 Comments

Equine, All Too Equine - stanku



In the grim future of Canterlot, the volatile relations between the three races and the griffon minority are nearing the point of no return. And the only pony who could stop the outbreak of a civil war cannot afford to do so.

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Prologue

The room was white, all white. It had been so forever, but not before yesterday. Or was it the day before yesterday? Either way, it had been forever, the white room. Stick knew this, he knew it very well – it was all he knew. It was all he cared to know.

“Know, tow, show… it rhymes with snow… and with low…“

In the gloom, he stopped his muttering. Something had gone “cling” behind the wall where the only door into the room was. That was another thing Stick knew, or rather, the only thing he knew. The only thing he cared to know.

“Cling ting sing wing,” he said to the darkness as hoofsteps echoed in the corridor beyond. There were two of them, he could tell. They stopped right by his door.

There was whispering. Then, a mare’s voice said: “I don’t care. Open it.”

There was no creak. Most doors in the Everdream Hospital never made a sound, no matter how hard one tried. If you cover anything with pillows you get the same effect. The door opened.

Stick had closed his eyes well before it did and adjusted his breathing so that he appeared to be sleeping.

“Has he been sedated?” asked the mare’s voice.

“Not tonight,” said a male voice. Stick recognized him as Doctor Pines, which made him wonder if they were going to open the back of his head again. He hoped this was the case – last time he had gotten ice cream afterwards, although he hadn’t been able to talk for a week or two.

“On the contrary, I believe he is fully awake,” continued Doctor Pines. “Aren’t you, Stick?”

Stick cracked open an eye. A disturbed smile spread on his lips. “Awake, lake, take, make… Rhymes with snake.”

“He doesn’t sleep much,” said the Doctor, keeping his eyes firmly on Stick even when he was laying on his side. In a straitjacket. “A side effect of the new medication we are experimenting.”

Stick’s open eye moved from the doctor’s boring, long face to the mare. A loose cloak covered her body, and a deep hood hid her head. Still he knew that she was studying him intently. That was all he knew, all he cared to know.

Doctor Pines cleared his throat. “Now, Stick… Today – tonight, really – we are going to try something different. I am going to remove the straightjacket. The question I would have you answer is, what are you going to do after that?”

Stick gave this a thought. “Scratch myself,” he finally said. “Hack, tag, snack…”

Pines narrowed his eyes. “I must ask you again, miss… Are you certain about this?”

The hood nodded.

The Doctor sighed heavily. “I thought you would say that. Very well. If you would take a step back, please…”

The mare remained still. “If you won’t release him, I will.”

Suddenly, Stick could feel his unyielding outfit loosen around him. One by one, the ridiculously long sleeves unrolled from all his limbs, the belts opened, the knots unwound. As the light blue halo evaporated around him, he opened his other eye and stood up.

For a moment, the room held its breath. Then Stick scratched his chest.

“Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how long I’ve waited for that. Nothing’s worse than an itch you can never scratch. It can make you nuts.”

Doctor Pines relaxed a bit. “Good. Very good. I can see that the medication has taken effect. Good.”

The mare snorted. “I’m relieved and disappointed at the same time. You led me to understand he’d pounce on us the moment he could.”

“Oh, he’ll probably do just that, should we let down our guard,” said Pines casually, his gaze tracking every movement of the pony before him. The light blue glow had never left his horn. “You see, contrary to all our best efforts, Stick really is insane. The problem is that he is quite smart, too.”

Stick stopped his scratching to give them a wide grin. Pine’s horn glowed stronger.

The hood studied him some more. “Stick… Is that your real name?”

“It–” began Pines, but the mare silenced him with a hoof.

“That’s what they call me,” Stick said happily. “It’s all the fetching-games we’ve played with the good Doctor.”

“Quite,” said Pines dryly.

“So what’s your name?” continued Stick, turning his complete focus on the hood. “Introductions go both ways, you know.”

“Don’t you recognize my voice?” asked the hood, somewhat sadly. “Honestly?”

Stick carried on grinning, but started blinking. Rhymes travelled inside his mind and beyond, rhymes like vines of the times spent in crimes. The hood was all he knew, save the tiny bit of him that kept on staring at Pines’ horn, waiting it to dim for a second, for a fraction of a moment. But in the meantime, the hood was all he knew, had ever known, for now.

It fell off her face.

“I’m your sister,” said the mare. A warm tenderness had seeped into her voice. “Elga, Elga Hay. Can’t you remember me? Us?”

Stick stared.

“Elga has come to take you home,” said Pines. “All the paperwork has been done. You will start a new life in Canterlot, in a place that is more suited to support your mental recovery.”

Stick stared.

“Well?” asked Pines, slightly annoyed. “Don’t you understand? You’re free of this place, and of me, just like you always wanted. All you need to do is identify her as your sister, alias your legal guardian, and you’ll be in Canterlot before the dawn. What’s the matter?”

“I don’t want to go,” said Stick, still staring at the mare. “Not… with her…” He took a step back.

The mare took a step forward. “Brother, if only you knew how I’ve missed you. All the years in separation… I thought you were dead.”

Stick’s hind legs pressed against the padded wall. His back soon followed as he reared, his face a mask of unfathomable terror. The mare didn’t stop, but walked right next to him.

Pines’ eyes grew wide. “Miss, what are you doing?”

Her hoof reached for Stick’s cheek. He was hyperventilating, his shrinked pupils nailed at the approaching limb. It was all he knew, and more – it was all he would know.

She touched his cheek.

Time passed.

“Now…” whispered the mare, caressing his head. “Who am I?”

“Elga Hay,” said Stick automatically, his eyes lost in hers. “My sister and legal guardian.”

“That’s right,” said the mare. Her hoof returned abruptly to the floor as she turned to Pines, whose mouth was still wide open. “The sum discussed will be deposited to your personal account in Canterlot Bank at noon tomorrow. You shall receive the receipt by mail.”

The Doctor had the sense to close his mouth and nod in agreement.

“Capital. Stick, with me.” With that, she trotted out of the room. Stick trotted after her without a moment’s pause, his eyes on the floor, his ears glued to his skull. Pines watched them go with round eyes.

In all his years as a psychiatrist, he had never before witnessed such a reaction from a patient unofficially labelled as “mad as a spoon, dangerous as a chainsaw.” All that their most advanced medicine and pioneering surgery had achieved was to make him wipe his chin after he had ripped a pony’s throat open with his bare teeth. Stick was the paradigmatic example of an unsalvageable lunatic whose final resting place should have been the lone room in the cellar where he had just walked out of like a colt caught stealing candy.

It made Pines’ spine run rich with shivers.

Well, thank the stars that he wouldn’t need to sort out whatever was about to hit Canterlot.

Saddle Arabia had to be far enough away to ensure that much.

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