• Published 28th Dec 2016
  • 7,238 Views, 701 Comments

Welcome to Batstralia - Damaged

A mare and her foal. A human family. A buck-load of magic. They are all coming to a sleepy little town.

  • ...

The Other Side

Language check. English all the way, no pony-speak at all! However (you knew it wouldn't be completely clear, right?) there is a lot of Aussie mashing of words, as well as some cricket lingo. I will leave you to google things, they are easy to find. :twilightsmile:


Joyce heaved a sigh. 'The worst part is, the only way I become "unbored," is if someone gets hurt.' She looked over to the focused pony at her side. "You seem to be enjoying yourself, Candela."

"It's like a game of hoofball, but need to have every kind of pony to play." Candela watched the amazing motions of a bowler, sending a spinning ball bouncing down the pitch. A crack of wood on hard-packed leather sounded and the red ball was sent hurtling. "Woo!" Candela jumped up, her forelegs on the fence and her wings fluffing.

Of course, the pegasus mare wasn't the only one cheering. Joyce looked around, watching the crowd that were very much into the game. On the fringes she could see people like her, dragged along, forced to be here, doing their very best to not become completely bored. "Have you seen the girls?"

Candela giggled. "I think you will find them over there." She pointed behind the little sports clubhouse, to the netball court. Misty and a group of human children—including Robin—were playing a game that involved throwing a ball to the pegasus to shove into a goal.

The rules seemed complicated to Joyce, but she figured them out. It was an individual game, where each human had to get the ball to one end of the court and back, then up to Misty to dunk. "Well, they seem busy. Would you like another cup of tea?"

"I would love one." Candela looked up at Joyce. "How long do these games go for?" Her tail was swishing adorably.

Joyce fought the urge to reach out and pet her friend on the head. "They can take a good few hours. Be back in a minute." She wandered away from the "Nurses Station" and toward the food shed. "Hi Maureen." It was well after lunch, but before dinner. "Two more teas, please. And could I grab a newspaper?"

"The wonderful spectacle of sport not doing it for you?" Maureen tucked two teabags into a pair of cups, putting one under the spout of the big urn in the little "shop."

"Not really." Joyce turned and looked at Candela avidly watching the game. "Candela seems to love it. All I really want is the crossword puzzle." She opened up the offered newspaper and started flicking through it for the puzzle pages. "What about you, Maureen?"

"Honestly?" Maureen looked left and right conspiratorially. "I prefer the footy. Strappin' young men, shortest shorts you have ever seen."

Joyce knew the term "cougar," but hadn't seen quite this level of it, or quite so open. "Well, I guess that will be a better time of year, shame we will freeze." She had actually checked how cold it gets in the south of Australia, and wasn't looking forward to it. "Oh, thanks love." Joyce tucked the paper under her arm and grabbed the two cups of tea.

Walking back to the little bench she was sharing with Candela, Joyce watched the mare closely. 'She really is liking the game. Maybe I should suggest she organize the schoolkids into something.' She sat down beside Candela. "Here you go." She passed it over, marveling at how amazingly dexterous she was with her wings. "I just had an interesting thought."

"Oh?" Candela sipped her tea, sighing in obvious delight. "About 'Strapping young stallions'?" She looked right up at Joyce.

"No…" Joyce blushed a moment, her rhythm completely stolen. "Hey, how did you hear that?" She sipped her own tea.

"Something I have noticed," Candela lifted a hoof to tap one ear, holding her tea in one wing, "our ears are quite a bit better than yours, particularly when I turn them. You can't do that."

"Yeah… I guess you would be." Joyce watched the fuzzy ears twitch and turn. She was mesmerized for a few moments, thinking of what it would be like. "It was about school, actually." Both Candela's ears spun at the words, her head soon following. "Well, I thought, why not get the kids, and foals, to try playing cricket?"

"I was thinking the same thing." Candela grinned wide. "I'm sure the foals would be fine with the bats, and fielding. I wonder if a pony could bowl?" She held up her empty wing, examining the feathers carefully. "You know, I think I could give it a try."

"You are going to need equipment." Joyce could already see a glint in the pony's eyes that she had come to expect from Candela—determination. "Which I'm sure you could probably ask around for, I'm sure someone here has gotten a whole cricket set for their kids to play with, and then had it tucked away in their shed." She sipped her tea some more. "So we need a few bats, a few balls, some wickets… if they start getting really good, you will want protective gear."

"That ball is really hard." Candela's gaze was focused on the game, but her ears were aligned to Joyce. "What about something softer, to get them started—" She was interrupted by a solid hit, the ball flying out long, only to be caught. "Woo! Yeah! Howzat?!"

Joyce couldn't believe her eyes, or ears. "Where do you even learn all this?" She waved a hand to indicate the event that had just transpired. "You know more about this game now than I do!"

Candela blinked at the accusation. "It's my special talent. Learning, teaching, they are both sides of the same bit, and I can never get enough of either."

The intensity of Candela's look shocked Joyce a little. "Special talent?" She clung to her cup of tea, waiting for the explanation that was sure to come.

"When we get our cutie marks, it is because we are good at something, something that will be the focus of our lives." Candela gestured to the side of her thigh. "I got mine when helping my teacher with class. I was the only filly who studied, and Miss Sunshine had to leave suddenly. She had me stand up and teach the others."

The brightness in Candela, the reverence of her words, struck a chord with Joyce. "So… it is your destiny to teach and learn?"

"Usually the other way around, but yes." Candela suddenly blushed and looked aside. "And… I might have cheated a little."

"What, with your homework?" Joyce was aghast.

"No!" Candela shook her head vigorously. "I got to using the computer some more. It has a lot of interesting information in it!" The mare's worried look turned to pure excitement.

Joyce, familiar with the internet thanks to her time at school, blinked. "I'm still surprised the school has a 'net connection." Then something stole Joyce's focus—the implications of which boggled her mind in so many directions it wasn't funny. "How do you even…" She looked at Candela's wings, how dexterous her feathers were. "So what do you think of us? Humans have had an… interesting history." 'Please don't have researched war, religion, or… anything bad.'

"Well, I had to get familiar with using the device more." Candela was tapping her chin with a hoof. "Your world seems to be well developed, not a shred of magic, but look at what you have done!"

"So you aren't freaked out by all of… all of everything?" Joyce heaved a sigh of relief. "I really need to learn more of your world, maybe I could visit one day?"

Candela pointed a hoof. "He is a really good spin-bowler, this is his second in a row. One more and he has a hat trick!" She waited, watched the game intently, then sighed when the next batsman managed to score a quick run. "Equestria is… it is an amazing place. There is magic, and everypony has their place." The pegasus looked over and up at Joyce. "But that magic showed me that my place is here, and look, I'm learning more than anypony before me. Visiting Equestria would probably do it as much good as you, I'm sure you could teach ponies things, as much as they could teach you."

Joyce was surprised when a wing curled around her back. "I guess, no matter where you are, people… or ponies, will be people… or ponies. It is settled, when I can finally get some holidays, I will definitely go and visit. Take the kids..."

"Catch it!" Candela was suddenly standing up on her back legs, waving a hoof in the air and screaming. "Woooo! Gotcha!" She waved her hoof some more before looking guiltily to Joyce.

"Don't let me stop you. You know you could watch cricket on the TV, right?" Joyce realized that she hadn't actually introduced Candela to television yet. "Uh, that old screen thing, like the computer has, you can watch it on there."

"Why would I watch it like that?" Candela gestured to the field with a hoof. "All the fun is being part of the game, from here."

It made a strange sense to Joyce. "I… might just get my crossword puzzle out." She gave an apologetic grin to Candela. "You don't mind?"

"It's fine, Joy—" Candela's ears twitched and she focused back on the game. "He's out!"

Thankfully, there weren't any "excitements" for Joyce to deal with, and she was interrupted from the last few words of the crossword by Candela's cheering. "We won?"

"Yes!" Candela bounced around on her hooves. "We won by four wickets, it was great!" She clearly didn't care about her exuberance. "Misty, darling?" She looked to the netball court, and when she didn't see her foal, she lifted her wings and flew quickly into the air. "Misty Rainfall! Robin Robertson!"

Joyce was blinking up. "That would be so handy… Hey Candela, can you see them?" She stood up and looked around, spotting the two girls racing each other back to their parents. "Where were you both?" She took careful note of the muddy hooves and shoes.

"Just playing, mum." Robin clamped her arms around Joyce's waist, latching on like a limpet. "I was with Misty all the time, don't worry!"

Looking at Candela, Joyce saw the same, "they got up to something" expression on the other mother's face. "Did you now, and where was Misty that you were with her?"

"I was with Robin!" Misty bounced in place, nuzzling against Candela. "There was a gully down there, and all the other kids were playing in it." She looked to her mother, then to Joyce when there seemed too much "knowing smile" in her mother's look. The problem was, Joyce was giving her the same thing! "I wouldn't let Robin get hurt…"

Joyce's heart melted all over again. 'She is a little girl, just like Robin. She is adorable, you have to accept that. Don't let her looks control you.' Thankfully for Joyce, Candela was already on top of things.

"Little filly, you should know better than to run off and do things because the other foals did it. Tell me honestly, was there any danger?" Joyce's tone wasn't angry, but it was very serious.

"No, momma. There wasn't any danger. We were still inside the fence." Misty looked up, trying to use her "look" on her mother, and it seemed to work only by dint of her being honest, and not actually having done anything wrong.

"It's okay then, but you two both need a bath when we get home. And both of you know the rules, no going on the road unsupervised." Candela looked to Joyce.

"That's right." Joyce spotted Robert marching up to them. "I can go now?" She tried her hardest not to let any hardness fill her voice, she had promised to do this, after all.

"Yeah, all the boys're celebrating, and will be late inta the night. Are you sure you wouldn't want to stay?" Robert gave his brightest smile. "Although any injuries they take from now aren't your responsibility."

"Ha, I should hope not. I have to go pick my son up from a party he was at. Maybe next time." Joyce's tone hinted there was hope "next time," her mind was quite made up.

"Aww, well, it was good to see you cheering, Candy." Robert's shortening of Candela's name made the mare's eye twitch a little. "You like cricket?"

"I do, in fact." Candela's tone was careful, but inviting. "And I was wondering if I might have some equipment, to make some games up at the school?"

Both Candela and Joyce were almost overwhelmed by Robert's enthusiasm. "That'd be great! Hey, I have some old gear, but I'm sure the cricket club can organize to get ya some proper 'kid-stuff.' "

"That will be perfect." Candela gave Robert her best smile. "Oh, Joyce, didn't you have to find Michael? I do believe he said he was spending the day with the Pies."

Joyce's eyes went wide. "He went where?" It was mock surprise, Joyce was happy to see Candela trying to cover her snout with a hoof to prevent giggles. "When I catch up to my son there will be hell to pay! Robin!" Her daughter ran up to her, taking her free hand. "Let's go find your brother."

Stomping away from Robert's shocked look, Joyce squeezed Robin's hand. She waited a few more meters before leaning down. "Neither of you are in trouble, we just had to put on a little show."

"Duh." Robin was apparently old enough to learn sarcasm. "I heard you planning all this, remember?" She kicked a stone, sending it skittering along the gravel road leading back to the center of town. "Why do you need to go to the mine?"

"Because I think something odd is happening to the miners, and I want to make sure they are alright." The answer was literally the truth, but also a little more. Joyce was soon flanked by Candela. "Could you look after Robin while I go and—"

"You don't need to ask, Joyce." Candela smiled up at Joyce. "You have looked after Misty enough times, while I worked late."

"That was mostly Mike." Joyce had a moment of startling revelation, that Candela was already helping her out more than Mike and Robin's father ever had. "I just don't want you feeling obligated to do it."

"Taking care of fillies and colts is not just my job, it's what I love doing." Candela blushed a touch. "I will admit, some foals can be… awkward, but Robin and Mike are far from that. Your foals are smart and well behaved."

"I want to find out what is going on, and if whatever it is contagious." Joyce walked to their house and fetched her emergency kit. Double-checking the contents, she left again and started making her way up to the mine.

As she walked, full dark descended on the bush, causing Joyce to stop and get her torch from the kit. "I hope he remembers the story as well as Robin did." She felt a brief pang of worry about it, but as she neared the mine she set her features into a more angry-frown.

Marching right up to the entrance, she saw a surprised miner packing up his tools just inside. "Have you seen my son?" Joyce narrowed her eyes. "And what is with the ears?" Sure enough a pair of big, slightly pointed bat ears stuck out of the top of the miner's head. Noticing they had even cut holes in their helmet for them, Joyce almost lost her frown.

"You can see 'em?" As soon as the miner said the words, he blushed. "Err, I mean, they are just fake ones. Nothing to worry about!"

"Come over here, let me take a look at them." Joyce had heard this all before, patients who declared that they were okay, while holding their various organs inside. "I'm a doctor, okay?" she said, adding it to attempt to calm her patient. "When did it start…?" She trailed off meaningfully.

"Dave… Dave O'Brian." Dave let out a sigh. "And now you're gonna to call the men in black, and they'll drag me away…"

"Dave, I don't know where you got that, but all I care about is you being okay. So when did it start again?" Joyce had to fight to avoid laughing at the "men in black" comment. "If this is something that isn't spreading, I will keep quiet on it, okay?"

"Do you promise?"

"Yes. I know this sounds crazy, but I was told I was crazy for accepting this job, I actually like helping people." Joyce waited for the miner to open his mouth before tapping record on her little dicta-phone in her kit.

"Started a few weeks after the mine… opened up… to the ponies." Dave lifted a hand up, pulled his helmet off and ran his fingers through his thick red-brown hair. "It's not so bad, after I cut holes in my helmet." Dave offered the helmet for inspection, using it as a distraction.

Joyce knew the tricks. Pulling a steel ruler from her kit, she gave the miner a raised-eyebrow. "Lean down and let me take a look at them." The eyebrow did the trick and she soon got to examine the velvety ears. "Ears appear animal in nature, not sure on what species, but it's definitely not equine."

"Wait, they aren't pony ears?"

The slight note of worry was hidden by what Joyce could almost say, one-hundred-percent, was disappointment. "No, they are not pony ears. I take it you can see the ponies clearly too? Not little people?"

"Huh? Well, I guess it was odd at first, but yeah. So what about the tail?" Dave's face spoke the story of how much he knew he had just screwed up by saying too much. "W-W-Well… I mean, I just tuck it down a trouser-leg, and try not to—"

"You need to come in for a full exam." Joyce watched the dismay grow on the miner's face. "Is there a problem with that? You have grown big ears and a tail, you need to be checked out." She was intrigued, but knew this needed more than just a little measuring. "Dave, you can trust me, okay? How many others work the mines here?" Joyce was surprised at how reactive Dave's ears were, when she said something that got his attention.

"You think it might be the mine doing it?" Dave blinked his eyes, a slightly oblivious look glassing them over. "Wait, that means if we left the mine it might stop?"

" 'We'?" Joyce closed her eyes. 'One of these days, a patient will come and tell me everything that is wrong with them, they will describe all the symptoms, they will even tell me how they got the way they are. Today, however, is not that day.' "Okay, you know where my house is?" She got a nod, of course they knew, the town was tiny. "Great, you come over Monday, and get your coworkers to come too. I'm not joking here, Dave."

"Yeah, yeah." Dave grabbed up his helmet and showed Joyce just how much control he had of his ears; wiggling the two extended appendages, Dave brought his helmet down and had them pushed through with practiced ease.

From within the mine, young voices—talking in a sing-song manner—grabbed Joyce's attention. "There would be my son, now. If you think you are in trouble, just wait until you see what he is in for."

"I can believe that." Dave climbed to his feet and picked up his tools. "Don't take off too much skin." He grinned and turned, walking off into the night.

Joyce advanced down the mine, leaving her kit bag behind. She spotted her son with the four ponies, but also spotted another of the miners. "Uh, sorry, you don't know me…"

"You're the new doc? M'name's Steve, an' by the way you are starin' at 'em, you wanna ask me about …" Steve rolled his eyes upwards.

"Actually, yes, but first I have a teenager who needs to learn to ask before he walks off. Tuesday?" Joyce saw the eyes of a man who had realized he was caught, they were also the eyes of a man who actually had green "pony" ears.

"Hi mu—" Mike looked to Joyce.

"Don't you dare 'Hi mum' me, young man!" Joyce gave her son a wink and stomped toward him. "Where have you been?"

Author's Note:

Limestone: how do you feel about Mike crushing on your sisters?

"<Crushing? That scrawny runt couldn't crush anything. Look at him, he couldn't even crush a rock>!" Limestone glared tightly. "And stay off Holder's Boulder!"


So I do this "Ask x" thing, x can be any pony within the story. You can ask them anything and I they will definitely hopefully reply. Keep the questions appropriate to the age-rating of the stories and of course, I they will answer the best question(s) in the author notes of the next chapter. The more votes a comment has the more likely I will get it to the right pony to answer, try and keep it to one answer per post! I They will pick one question per chapter.

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Awesome ponies who are already helping to keep me in keyboards and rum:
Canary in the Coal Mine
Mary Rowland

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