• Published 12th Jul 2012
  • 6,149 Views, 112 Comments

Clever Like a Fox - Badwolf1175

Y’know, I try to be open-minded, but I still never thought I’d wind up taking a trickster god’s place in a world of candy-colored horses. My

  • ...

Chapter 1 Arrival & Trappers

Chapter 1

Is this cliché by now?

Really. That’s an honest question. Ah, whatever. You know how it goes, right? A brony in a coffee shop, looking up pony things, when suddenly some weirdo comes along and chats them up about ponies, and then it all goes Alice in Wonderland on him.

Well... no, actually. Yeah, I’m a brony, but I’ve never been near a café before. I don’t drink coffee.

Come to that, I didn’t really leave my house much to start with, so it figures that the one time I decide to break routine and go out someplace...

Getting ahead of myself, methinks. Right. Okay, so I wasn’t surfing the web on my laptop at a café. I was surfing the web on my Nook in Barnes & Noble, when--what? Yes, I know they have a Starbucks. Shut up.

Anyway, if I can finish, there I was, looking up pony stuff on my Nook. I’d found a relatively secluded place to sit, and I’d leaned back to see some of the fanfics that had updated, because summer is boring. Eventually I got that tingly feeling you get when someone is staring at you, but when I looked up, all I saw was this little old Asian man with a cane searching the shelves.

Huh. Weird. I shrugged it off and got back to reading.

Eventually I became aware of groaning. I looked up and saw the old man struggling to reach a book on the top shelf, about six inches too high. Guy was short.

I sighed and walked over. “Need a hand, sir?” I grabbed the book and gave it to him, some doorstopper about Asian mythology.

He gave me a toothless smile. “Many thanks, child.” I smiled back and turned back to my stories.

I got that weird feeling again, and when I looked up the old man was looking at the screen over my shoulder.

He was grinning. “A bit old for ponies, aren’t we son?”

I took it in stride. “Meh. ‘s good reading.”

He settled down into the chair next to mine. “Of course, I suppose I’m not one to talk...”

He pulled an iPhone out of his pocket, and lo and behold it had a Twilight Sparkle skin design.

I stared for a second before laughing. “No way. Ha! Who’s your favorite?”

“Twilight. A thirst for knowledge is always respectable. You?”

“Um... Fluttershy, actually.” I was a bit sheepish on this. I know, it doesn’t matter, but I still felt embarrassed. Just one of the ways in which I related to her, I suppose.

And things went on from there. I won’t bore you with details, and frankly I don’t remember them anyway. I do remember that we had just finished talking about whether or not Equestria was the name of the planet or just a country, when suddenly he started talking about the different species.

“So, what do you think of the diamond dogs or the griffins, eh?”

“Not enough information. Only griffin I’ve seen is Gilda, and an upstanding citizen she is not. As for the dogs? Meh. I can only hope they’re not representative of their species. They don’t look much like dogs, either. The leader looked more like a cat than anything.”

He raised an eyebrow at that. “Which would you rather be?”

“Based on current information? Neither. Wouldn’t want to be a pony either, though, I like having fingers too much.” It was at around this point that my gaze started to wander towards the front windows, and I started at what I saw. It looked like there was a fox staring at me through the window. “Whoa, is that--”

“Well then, good news, my boy! I’ve got just the thing for you!”

I turned back towards him and noticed a couple things. He didn’t have much hair, but what he did have stuck straight up in the back and looked almost like... ears...

My pondering stopped rather suddenly when the world dropped away and we were suddenly sitting in a bunch of nothing. There was a circle of light around us, and everywhere else was dark as pitch. And so I eloquently summed up my situation as such:

“...huh. Ain’t that a thing.”

“Indeed it is,” he said, beaming. “My name... well, nevermind that. You can call me Keaton. And after such a lovely conversation, I’ve decided to name you as the successor to my power!”

Okay, sure. Come again?

“Yes, I’m afraid I’m a bit on in years, and I’m fast approaching my final journey. But I have too much power to simply allow it to vanish with me! So I’m going to pass it on to you. Questions?” That fox from the window padded into the light from God-knows-where and sat down at his feet.

“Yeah, I’ve got a question. Umm... what?” That fox is weird looking...

He just laughed. “Oh, don’t bother. You’ll figure it out soon enough.”

“Okaaaay... why me?” Is it... smiling at me? Odd. Odd? I think we’ve moved past odd, me.

“Well, if I want to spend my final hour screwing someone over, that’s my business, I should think.”

Hold on, what. “Okay, now I’m getting annoyed. Just what do you intend to--Ah.” That fox was suddenly in my face. It grinned and winked at me.

Then it said, “Good luck!”

And that’s about where I blacked out.

I want to make it clear that I am not an early riser. If I’m allowed to, I will sleep until noon, every day. So when I woke up and was suddenly completely alert and ready to go, it was rather disorienting.

I was in a cave. The only cave I’d ever been in before now had been one of those tourist attractions with the guard rails everywhere to keep you from actually, y’know, doing anything, so you wanna know the first thing I did?

If you chose ‘proceeded to freak out over waking up in a completely alien environment,’ then congratulations! You are completely wrong. Panic isn’t something I can do. Where normal people would flip out, I just become very calm and methodical.

So yeah, I just sat down and took stock of the situation. Don’t get me wrong, I could feel the worry bubbling under the surface, I was just saving it for when it wouldn’t impede me. The following is a rough estimate of my thought process over the next thirty seconds:

1) I’m not wearing anything. Find clothes.

2) This is a pretty small cave. I should find some elbow room.

3) That old man was totally grape-nuts! And what was up with that fox?

4) This rock is doing a number on my paws, I really should get out of here...



At that point, a couple neurons came back from their coffee break and proceeded to OH MY GOD WHAT THE HECK?!

Yeah, now’s a good time for a freakout.

Okay, systems check; hands are functional but have pads. Also they are paws and missing a ring finger each, and are paws. Paws. I was covered in gold fur, though the exact shade was hard to make out in the gloom. And a quick check behind me... yup. Tail. Sss. Tails. Wait, what?

One, two, three, four... jeez, what would a creature need nine tails for?

I need a mirror, stat.

I ran outside, stopping only once briefly when I realized I was sprinting on all fours. Annoying to realize, but the height of the tunnel didn’t allow for much otherwise. Anyway, let’s see where I am. Outside... huh. Okay, trees. Creepy forest.

Also, something to note: that cave wasn’t small. I am very large. It’s the only explanation for why I can reach over the canopy if I stand on my hind legs.

Where was I? Oh yeah, creepy forest. Eerily familiar too...

Wait. Could that old geezer have... Well, only one way to find out.

I chose a likely-looking direction and started walking. Let me tell you, I thought I would get in trouble almost immediately, and that’s very nearly what happened. After thirty minutes of walking, I came into a clearing with just what I wanted: a lake. Unfortunately, there were other creatures there too. Large, lupine monsters made of wood and leaves.

Timberwolves. That clinches it. I’m in Equestria, and this is the Everfree Forest. I started giggling like a maniac when I remembered, Wait, Timberwolves are dangerous.

Or I thought so. I figured, hey, I’m way bigger than them, maybe I can scare them off. In hindsight it was probably stupid to antagonize a major predator, but whatever. I stared the biggest one down and felt my lips curl as I growled.

And it worked. After a moment the leader backed off and left, the pack running after him.

I blinked. Huh. Okay, I’ll take it. I looked into the pond. Reflection wasn’t great, but I saw what I needed to.

I had a muzzle, for one. My eyes were big and brown, amber even, and I had the pointy ears up top.

I’m a nine-tailed fox. If I knew anything about Naruto I’d probably have made a joke to myself, but ah, well...

So, it took me a while to calm down. Rather, I was already calm, I just couldn’t think straight because I couldn’t find anything else to think about except for HOLY CRAP I’M A FOX.

Wow, that sounded weird.

Ahem. Right. Well, I spent a good few minutes completely dumbfounded.

Heh. ‘Dumbfounded.’ I love that word.

But I’m not known for my attention span. While the problem of what to do next was indeed one deserving of further deliberation, I got bored rather quickly. I got up and walked off. Not in any particular direction, mind you, but I was straining my ears for anything that might clue me into where to go next.

I was just thinking I was hopelessly lost when I heard something. It was... uhh... humming? Oh, and hoofsteps... headed this way?!

Ah. Oh, um. I’m round about thirty feet tall. There’s no way I can hide at this size!

And no sooner had I thought that then the world shot up around me. Shrinking?!

Heck, I’m not gonna argue. I stopped until I was maybe a little smaller than a normal fox, and then I jumped into the bushes.

The humming falter for about a minute, then resumed with a wary undertone. I peeked out and I nearly squealed.

Zecora! Hooded cloak and all! Judging by the saddlebags she was just coming back from hunting for herbs or whatever they were. I decided I would just follow her to her shack and then work my way out of the woods from there.

I love having paw pads. They make moving silently so much easier. Also it helps that I’m on dirt. Nothing ruins a good skulk like wood floors creaking under your weight.

Y’know, I have to wonder. Do all zebras have cutie marks like Zecora? I mean, obviously they have them, but are they runic like hers? With the spiral sun and everything? What does that mean, anyway? If her symbol is unique in its shape, then perhaps it symbolizes cultural pride. Or something.

Sorry, my mind tends to wander. I go on tangents like that all the time. For instance, why do they say ‘wander’ in terms of the mind? It’s not like it goes anywhere. And that’s when the net landed on me.


Okay, what? I get distracted for one second and I’m in a net. Really? Really. Where’d it come from, anyway?

Oop, monologue over. I got lifted up as something picked the net up. Take note: Diamond Dogs are far uglier in person. Person? ...Dog...son...? Whatever.

He looks over his shoulder and barks. “Hey boss? Why this fox look weird?”

Well, I never.

Another one wandered over. “Got me. Never mind. More tails means more fur.”

...Oh right, foxes are hunted for that, aren’t they OH GOD they tossed me into a sack. An actual sack.

“Put it in with the Zebra,” the boss says. Zebra? Oh right, her. Then they toss me into something soft, which grunts. Oh there she is!

“What we do now?”

“One pony and some game is nothing. There’s a village nearby, and that’s where we’re going.”



“Boss, I don’t think that’s a good plan.”

“Yeah? Well guess what Rover, you’re not in charge! Now get going!”

When I woke up I was rather confused. Wasn’t I... in a sack? And I felt... what’s the opposite of top heavy? Bottom-light? I turned around.

Where’d my other five tails go? Why am I in bush and not it a sack? Who am I asking these questions, and why do I actually seem to expect answers?

I poked my head out of the shrub and found myself in a clearing containing Zecora with all of her hooves tied together and a gag, struggling against her bonds. Next to her on the ground was a burlap sack. It was moving.

It’s funny, I was in a sack... just... like that. Um.

...I’ve seen stranger things. I used to watch Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo. Only one way to find out if I’m right. Right?

I naturally ran to the bag, ignoring Zecora’s stare, and was immediately besieged by a problem. The sack was tied off with a knot, and I lacked fingernails. Ever tried to untie a knot without them? Bloody hard to do.

I used my claws instead. I was rather surprised when they cut right through the rope. For a second I could have sworn they were glowing. Probably just a trick of the light.

At any rate, the bag fell open and--

--I rescued myself? No, I’m serious, the bag just fell away and there’s another multi-tailed fox right there staring at me.

The Dogs just left me here with what I assume is Zecora and now suddenly another one of my kind comes along and goes: Vulpix used Slash! It’s super effective!

Anyway, he stood there slackjawed for another second before he shook himself and cut the net open as well. We started talking at the same time.

“Who are you? I asked you first! ...Jinx! Darn.”

I decided to let him go first. It seems he had the same idea, because for another minute we just stood there.

Zecora grunting snapped us out of it. How’d I forget about her? I was standing right there next to her!

He cut her legs free while I untied her gag.

“Are you alright, Z-- ma’am?”

“I’ve been better, I’m afraid. How did you know to come to our aid?” she said, directing the last part to my double.

He shrugged. “I dunno. One second I was in the bag, next I’m waking up in a bush. Y’know, I thought it was odd that such a light blow would knock me out like that...”

“Wait, what? I never went under, I was in that sack the whole time!”

I think I only just now noticed that he only had four tails. A neuron sparked, and it occurred to me to check my own. I only had five. ...Wait a minute...

“I knew it!” he declared.

“Knew what?”

“You and I are one and the same!”


“We’re just like... like... uh, who’s a superhero with the power to do that?”

“Billy Numerous?”

“No, he’s a villain.”

“Yeah. Um...”


“What? Oh, Miss Ze...bra lady, my apologies. You’ll have to excuse me... us, We’re going through a rather frightening existential dilemma right now.”

“We are?”

“Stop talking to yourself, people’ll think you’re crazy.”

“I’m crazy? You realize there’s no difference between me and you?”

“Yes there is. One tail. I’m going to call you ‘Fours.’”

He glared at me. “We need to fix this. It turns out I’m very annoying.”

We paused for a moment, then looked at Zecora.

“Miss Zebra? Do you think you could help us?”

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!