• Published 29th Jul 2018
  • 4,102 Views, 43 Comments

X-Alt - Chaotic Dreams

The Student Six have been transformed into the opposite sex. They aren’t too happy about it.

  • ...

Chapter Two: Gallus & the Deranged Detention, Part II

Gallus sat uncomfortably in the school library between the study tables and the front desk, looking as uneasy as the rest of his friends. He’d tried standing for as long as he could manage so as not to sit down on his fuller rear and make it even more apparent what had happened to him, but he’d since given up.

The others didn’t seem to be faring much better. Yona’s fur had grown so much fuller and shaggier that she had to hold it away from her eyes like parting a thick curtain to see anything. What’s more, the growth of braid-like locks beneath her chin gave the impression of a scraggly beard. When Yona wasn’t holding her fur outwards, the entire mass muddled together to shield her in a giant puffball with horns.

Smolder quite literally steamed, smoke spiralling from her nostrils and the air wavering in a heated haze around her simmering scales. Whether she wasn’t quite used to handling the larger amount of fire within her overall larger frame or she was so angry she couldn’t get a hold over it, though, Gallus was unsure. Come to think of it, neither would have been that much better than the other.

Ocellus and Sandbar looked to be perhaps the least different physically. Ocellus had grown a bit larger and more angular and Sandbar had shrunk slightly and become a bit more curved. Nevertheless, they appeared to be roughly the same masses they had been.

Of course, that didn’t mean Ocellus wasn’t still sniffling and trying to cover up the tears in her many-segmented eyes, or that the rush of commotion hadn’t sent Sandbar’s lingering high nose diving into bloodshot, wide-eyed frigidity. Even as buzzed as Sandbar had been, Gallus imagined this was far more surreal than being high. Gallus hadn’t so much as seen Sandbar blink since the spell did its work, though his right eye twitched plenty of times.

Silverstream was, most puzzlingly of all, still the same old Silverstream. For whatever reason, she had yet to revert to her hippogriff form, and remained flopping awkwardly with her fishy tail in one of the study table chairs.

Whenever Gallus shot her a quizzical glance, she flashed a toothy grin that was equal parts nervousness and thinly-veiled mirth. Like everything, this little incident seemed to be most amusing to her.

“I don’t understand how this could have happened,” Twilight huffed from the front of the library, bringing Gallus’ attention back to the only two individuals in the room unaffected by the change.

“It was my fault, I shouldn’t have left them unattended,” Spike said, having rushed to get Twilight as soon as he’d returned.

“It was an accident,” Gallus spoke, once again wincing at the higher pitch of his voice.

“None of you are at fault for this spell,” Twilight said, much to Gallus’ surprise, as she continued to pace. “In fact, I’m surprised Ocellus knew what a witch-weevil was, even if she is top of the class in magical biology.

“What I don’t understand,” Twilight continued. “Is how such a dangerous spell book ended up in the griffon history section. Books like that are meant to be locked in the restricted archives. I’ve checked the logbooks, and the Metamorphomagica isn’t listed as having been checked out. Besides, I would have had to approve any use of it.”

“So someone stole it and planted it in the regular library?” Gallus asked.

“I haven’t the slightest idea,” Twilight admitted.

Gallus felt his heart sink, and judging from the looks on his friends’ faces, he wasn’t alone in that sentiment.

“But, you can still fix us, right?” Smolder asked, her voice gravelly with the popping of sparks from her still-smoking throat. “You’re a princess. This should be easy for you.”

“Normally, it would be, if the spell caster had been a pony, or any other intelligent creature,” Twilight said. “However, a witch-weevil makes things significantly more complicated. They don’t cast spells in the traditional sense. They release their stored magic in a tangled burst, usually to escape predators, but also upon death. The spells come out jumbled and fragmented, and it’s a wonder you all transformed so completely rather than only halfway, or in some combination of randomness.

“Because of that,” Twilight said. “I can’t undo the spell without risking serious magical harm to you all.”

“Yona stuck as big shaggy yak-guy forever?” Yona whimpered, surprisingly quietly.

“I’ll do everything in my power to reverse this,” Twilight promised after a tense silence. “But at the moment... I can’t make any promises.”

A heavy silence fell across the room.

It was broken shortly thereafter by a muffled chortle.

“Is there something you would like to add, Miss Silverstream?” Twilight asked, her eyes widening as she saw that ‘miss’ somehow still described Silverstream perfectly. “You didn’t change, and yet, you reverted to your hippocampus form. Why is that?”

“I, uh, I... Don’t know,” Silverstream admitted. “My charm got all hot and sparkly when everyone was changing and, then, well...”

Silverstream undid the thin chord holding her charm around her neck and handed it to Twilight, who studied it carefully. A sizable crack had nearly split the charm down the middle.

“It’s dead,” Twilight said.

“What?!” Silverstream gasped.

“The magic stored inside the charm has completely left it,” Twilight explained. “I’m not sure how, or why, but I suspect the witch-weevil’s magical burst settled on the nearest sources of magic it could find. All life has at least a bit of magic, particularly intelligent creatures. However, the magic needed to create a transformation charm probably outweighed your own magic, Silverstream. The witch-weevil’s discharge clashed with the magic of your charm, overloaded the mechanism, and escaped with a small discharge as they cancelled each other out. That’s also probably why you turned back into a hippocampus”

“...What?” was all Silverstream could say.

“Think of your charm being a shield that took the arrow for you, but broke in the process,” spoke an oddly melodic yet masculine voice.

It took Gallus a moment to realize it was Ocellus who had spoken. Her eyes were downcast. She clearly wasn’t used to her new voice, either.

“Does that mean we could get other charms to take our ‘arrows’ for us?” Gallus asked, mirroring Ocellus’ sentiment about his new voice.

“Yapping griffon already lost ‘his’ arrow,” Yona snorted, earning her a heated glare from Gallus and a smoky chuckle from Smolder.

“We’re all arrowless,” Sandbar murmured. “Wayward souls, tossed across the uncaring oceans of time and space like ships without rudders or oars, but we do have sails, but the wind is blowing the sails for us, and we don’t have the necessary rope or nautical knowledge to harness the wind to our advantage, and... And... I can see forever...”

Twilight eyed Sandbar warily before shooting Gallus a quizzical look.

“He does that sometimes when he’s coming down from... Um... Serious thinking,” Gallus admitted sheepishly. “Wakes me up in the night sometimes, reciting poetry, with that stare... Freaks me out.”

“I’ll schedule Mr. Sandbar an appointment with the school counselor,” Twilight sighed. “I had thought we’d gotten over the ‘recreational herbology,’ but we have more pressing matters at the moment. I’ll have to research the matter thoroughly, but for now, you are all dismissed. Your detention is hereby waived. I think this incident will give you all more than enough reason to reflect.”

“Wait, we’re supposed to... Walk out into the rest of the school... Like this?” Smolder asked, gesturing down at her considerably larger, boxier frame. “Let everyone see us?”

“Most students are home for the holiday weekend,” Twilight pointed out.

“Not all students!” Yona harrumphed. “Yona not want anyone see Yona’s ugly face-beard!”

“Your beard isn’t ugly, Yona,” Twilight said with a half-smile. “Unfamiliar, yes, but we’ll hopefully return things to normal soon enough.”

“Yona’s fantastic facial follicles frolic forever freely fabulously,” Sandbar said.

“Sandbar really think so?” Yona asked, glancing at Sandbar somewhat hopefully through her parted curtain of shaggy locks.

Sandbar didn’t return her gaze, but did smile and nod.

“Yona think Sandy's new mane very pretty,” Yona replied. “Yona do ask Sandy blink, though. Gallus right about one thing. Infinity stare is big freaky.”

Sandbar’s eyelids attempted to do so, got about a third of the way, and gave up.

“I’ll send for you all soon with any progress I make,” Twilight announced. “Until then, please try not to go too far from the school grounds.”

With a flash, Twilight, Spike, and the Metamorphomagica disappeared, leaving them all alone in the library.

Everyone’s gaze shifted to Gallus, who backed up hastily.

“Guys, girls, everyone,” Gallus spoke. “How can you blame this on me? You heard what Twilight said; this was a total accident!”

“None of which would’ve happened if you had left us alone when we said ‘no’ to your stupid prank idea the first hundred times,” Smolder snapped. “Why was this one such a big deal? You’ve dropped your dumber ideas before when we’ve told you no. Why couldn’t you let this one go, too?”

“This one was different,” Gallus began.

“Yona wanted final semester of Friendship School to be magic, not tragic!” Yona growled.

“Exactly, that’s why--” Gallus tried to say.

“I looked, and behold a pale griffon, and his name that sat on him was detention,” Sandbar mumbled. “A bummer of a summer followed him.”

“Sandbar, that doesn’t make any sense,” Gallus managed to say.

“I think you all look great!” Silverstream chirped. “Think of it as a fun chance to explore the other side! I mean, look at me. I’m wet all the time and dry the other part of the time, and now you can all be wet or dry maybe sort of also!”

Everyone stared at Silverstream blankly.

“The ocean and dry land?” Silverstream elaborated. “The two different worlds I experience? It was one of those... You know, hyperbole, or simile, or... Uh...”

“Metaphor,” Ocellus spoke quietly, tearing her gaze away from her hooves at last and looking up at Gallus, tears in her compartmentalized eyes. “Why did you have to mess up our last real time together as friends, Gallus?”

Gallus froze, his words caught and dying in his throat.

“Ocellus, I never meant for this to happen, I swear,” Gallus said. “I only did this because--”

Gallus words fell silent as, in a shimmer of magic, Ocellus disappeared, replaced by the form of a diminutive ladybug. She flew up to the nearest library window and slipped outside.

Gallus looked from one to the next of his remaining friends, who all averted their gaze. With sighs or grumbles, they headed towards the doors and exited the library, leaving Gallus stammering after them. Tears welled in his own eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Gallus sighed, though there was nobody left to hear him. “I didn’t mean to mess up our final time together. That’s exactly why I did all this. That’s why... I wanted to do one last...”

He hung his head, his elongated and greater abundance of feather-fluff falling flat.

“Students!” gasped Twilight, reappearing in the library with a burst of violet magic.

Gallus gasped, stumbling backwards.

“Mr. Gallus?” Twilight said, glancing around. “Where’s every-creature else?”

“They left,” Gallus said.

“Already?” Twilight asked.

“Yes,” Gallus said, picking himself up and rubbing his surprisingly tender backside with a wing, shuddering at the sensation it caused. “You nearly gave me a heart attack. Why’d you come back so fast?”

“This is more severe than I anticipated,” Twilight said, levitating the Metamorphomagica out from her cloak and setting it on the nearest table, causing Gallus to flinch back as if the book would transform him further still. “I don’t have much time to explain, but you need to tell every-creature as soon as possible.”

“I don’t think they really want to see me right now,” Gallus said, only for Twilight to grasp him in her magic and drag him over.

“Friendship is about being there for each other even when it’s hard,” Twilight said in a rush. “Besides, they all deserve to know what’s going to happen to them. What affected you was only the beginning of the spell.”

“What?!” Gallus gasped.

“There’s a lot more,” Twilight said with a worried tone. “The magical residue and the spell section containing the eaten pages was for bio-thaumaturgic-meta-reformation. Due to the jumbled nature of witch-weevil discharges, only the first part of the spell affected you first, but the rest will surely follow shortly.”

“In plain speak, please,” Gallus groaned.

“You were all subjected to the ‘bio’ portion,” Twilight explained. “That’s the body, transforming your physical sexes, save for Silverstream, I suppose. Soon the ‘thaumaturgic’ portion will kick in. That’s magic, the mind, the soul, the self.”

“So...?” Gallus said. “Ocellus is the only one of us who can cast magic.”

“But you all have magic,” Twilight argued. “All creatures have their own unique mystical signature, and soon, yours will change.”

“Which means?” Gallus asked.

“It’ll start slowly at first,” Twilight went on at a rapid pace. “The spell will assimilate new experiences as the baseline for a new persona. Altered interests or quirks at first, based on whatever you do or encounter from here on out. Then, larger shifts in personality. You’ll always remember who you were, but if we don’t cure this soon, you won’t be the same person anymore. Soon after, the ‘meta’ portion will activate. If you don’t resume your original body and self by that time, whoever you become will remain who you are, forever.”

“...What?” Gallus asked blankly.

“Gallus,” Twilight sighed, looking him dead in the eyes. “I have to research the book, but you really, really need to go tell all your friends they need to put aside their grievances. You all have to work together to find whoever tried to cast the spell the witch-weevil ate, or you’ll all turn into new people. You won’t be you as you now understand yourself anymore, and no magic will change you back permanently, because that’ll become the new real you, and the same for your friends with their changes.”

Gallus felt frozen in place, his eyes widening.

“How are we supposed to find who tried to cast the original spell?” he asked at last. “They must have died hundreds of years ago.”

“That’s the strangest thing,” Twilight finished. “I cast some scan-spells. I can’t tell everything because of how jumbled the magics became, but whoever stole the Metamorphomagica and tried to cast the original spell did it this morning. The book is ancient, but the magic the witch-weevil tried to eat is brand new.”

Comments ( 10 )

Well, it wasn't me. Three day as something you're not? Funny and entertaining, as well as a good learning experience. Forevermore as something you're not? Now that's just cruel.

nice to see you're back writing
you gonna keep writing, or are you going to leave for years again

An update? :pinkiehappy:

Thanks a ton man :rainbowdetermined2:

Just yesterday I was thinking about this story and today I was surprised with a new chapter:pinkiehappy:
I'm glad to see more of this, I hope you are able to continue with this story, it's very entertaining so far

The steaks have been raised and I’d like Mine medium rare plz. This is really fun, can’t wait to see how this all pans out

Curiouser and curiouser....

Gald to see you alive and well!

God be with you and BE SAFE!

Also, great chapter.

An update! Whoo! Sorry that I missed this!

The plot thickens! Great to see this is back.

“It’ll start slowly at first,” Twilight went on at a rapid pace. “The spell will assimilate new experiences as the baseline for a new persona. Altered interests or quirks at first, based on whatever you do or encounter from here on out. Then, larger shifts in personality. You’ll always remember who you were, but if we don’t cure this soon, you won’t be the same person anymore. Soon after, the ‘meta’ portion will activate. If you don’t resume your original body and self by that time, whoever you become will remain who you are, forever.”

As someone who's read a lot of gender-bending fiction, I have to say I don't like your choice for a Sword of Damocles.

On a narrative level, it adds unnecessary tension to a story that would do perfectly well just from the tension of the characters dealing with unfamiliar bodies and the strife between them. (Put differently, it steals time away from what the story was already set to capitalize on.)

(Dealing with unfamiliar bodies alone is tension enough for a lot of stories, simply because so much of our identity and self image is tied up in our gender.)

On a characterization level, modifying a character's mind and/or soul directly, instead of through a story arc, is to authoring as bio-thaumaturgic-meta-reformation is to magic... something to be attempted only by the most skilled.

In the hands of someone who attempts it and fails, mind/soul manipulation is instant death for the perceived quality of a story because it breaks the connection between the reader's mental model of how a human-like mind grows and develops in response to events and what the story is doing to them. (In short, it's the fastest way to shatter immersion and, in doing so, collapse what were promising characters into cardboard cut-outs.)

To me, that ticking clock translates as "We can't give the story enough time to properly use this as a lens to explore the characters or it'll destroy them."

(It reminds me of bad games, where there's an exploration mechanic but also a strict time limit. The exploration mechanic is best when you can explore at your own pace, and time limits are best for games where what you have to do is always obvious and success depends on practicing a skill.)

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