• Published 17th Dec 2011
  • 5,577 Views, 98 Comments

Twist in the Tail: Community Service - Midnightshadow

Spinoff to "A Twist in the Tail" - here we follow Edge as she is sentenced for her crimes...

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Second Chances

A Twist in the Tail: Community Service
Guest Chapter

Second Chances

By Berry Pony

Based on Midnight Shadow's A Twist in the Tail: Community Service series

Posted with permission from the author
(All errors are Berry's, let's give him/her a hug and a giggle! This is the fixed version!)

Simone watched as the white pegasus galloped off. “Oh well done, idiot,” the unicorn hissed to herself. “Stupid kid was just trying to be nice.” Simone snorted, “idiot kid, with her perfect hair and glossy wings. What the fuck, really. Prettiest damn filly and she just... wastes it with moping around. Stupid kid. Stupid stallions. Stupid Equestria. Stupid everything.”

The black unicorn looked around at the field she had been ploughing with Edge. It was quiet with only a few birds singing in the distance. There was nothing but dirt, grass and trees around. “Fuck this,” she said, “if the settlers wanted this field worked, they shoulda done it themselves.” Simone started to pull and tug at her harness, trying to free herself from its straps. But the harness had been hopelessly tangled by Edge's escape and Simone only made the tangle worse. When the traces from Simone's collar to the plough wrapped themselves around her legs, Simone tripped and fell.

“Fuck,” Simone muttered as she found herself tied up in the remains of two harnesses, lying on her side on the rough dirt and attached to an unmoving plough. “This is your fault, Edge. All your fucking fault.”

The sky was a deep blue with white puffy clouds. A gentle breeze brushed over the grass. The sun shone down on the partially ploughed field. Simone and Edge's lunch and water pail stood in the shade at the edge of the field, out of reach to a unicorn mare stuck in the middle. And many more hours would have to pass before the farmers she and Edge were working for, would start looking for her.

It was really all Edge's fault. The whole sequence of events that started in the Hackensack Conversion Bureau and ended with her being tangled in the middle of nowhere was Edge's fault “Stupid kid,” Simone repeated. “Stupid everything.”

The crowds in the front of the Hackensack Conversion Bureau seethed and surged. Some of the men slammed signs and boards into the safety glass of the Bureau's front doors as others hurled rocks and bricks at the windows. Simone had come with her boyfriend Sean to see the fun.

Under the continuous pounding, the safety glass finally shattered. Someone pried the doors open. Throwing the doors open, the mob poured inside to take their revenge on the four-footed fiends. Simone followed Sean inside the lobby as people began smashing computers and furniture. Others grabbed and looted what they could. In the mass of angry protesters rushing up the stairs and down corridors, Simone lost sight of her boyfriend.

This was her opportunity. She sidled to a door marked “Authorized Personnel Only', checked to see if anyone was watching and let herself in. A place like this had to have lots of things that were small, valuable and easily pocketed. And with the guards busy fending off the angry mob outside, Simone would have time to look for the things. She smiled to herself.

The door opened again and a kid walked in. Average in height. Kind of skinny, wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Simone took a step back, unsheathed her combat knife and pointed it at him. “Who the fuck are you?”


“What are you doing here?”

“Look... looking around.”

Simone considered. The kid looked kinda stupid but biddable. Perhaps, he could be used to carry stuff. “Alright, scrub. You listen good. You wanta come along, you gotta play by my rules. When I say run, you run. When I say, jump. You jump. Got that?”

“Okay,” Edge swallowed.

“Close that fucking door. We don't want to be followed.“ The girl put her knife in her coat. “And the name's Simone.”

As the door closed behind her, the girl looked around. They were standing in a wide hospital corridor with doors on either side. The corridor led to a pair of double doors at the end.

“Hey, Simone,” Edge said, holding a side door open and looking into one of the rooms. “I don't recognize what these rooms were used for. They have a strange chair or table in them.”

“Edge,” she hissed, “did I say that you could open anything you wanted? Do you want the guards coming down on us?” She strode over to him. “Idiot!”

It was a small room with the usual medical furniture arranged against the walls. But instead of the standard examination table that patients sat on, it had a strange stainless steel table or chair, with leg rests and armrests that could be moved or placed in various configurations.

“Do...do you think they... torture” Edge said nervously.

“Bah,” Simone moved into the room and began to pull open drawers. “Nothing. Nothing except medical stuff. Tongue depressors. Rubber bands. Cotton swabs. Syringes but no needles.” She looked around. “Where are the really valuable things, Drugs, electronics, stuff like that?” She fished around in another drawer and pulled out a scarlet ring covered in a fine script. “Fucking useless,” the girl added. “They make rings no one can wear.” But she slipped it into the pocket of her coat. “Let's go.”


“Look around, Edge. Some locked room, where they keep the goodies. But let me open doors.”

They continued to look into the examination rooms. Edge had become increasingly upset as each room contained more of the strange table-chairs. “I don't think they make ponies of you at all,” he finally said. “I think they do things to you”

“Huh?” Simone replied, checking another door.

“Explain those things we're finding in every room. Those torture tables. I betcha they use them to tie you down. Do things to you.”

“Edge, what the fuck are you going on about?”

“Yeah, they scoop out your brains and eat them. I heard, my cousin knows someone who knows someone who saw ‘em do it. This whole thing’s a fake. They’re goddamn murderers. They’re not veggies at all, they eat meat!”

“Ya what? The little fuckers don’t eat meat! That’s bullshit.”

“Explain the cakes they make then? That needs eggs. Their clothes use leather. They eat each other. That’s why they’re here. They eat humans, they only pretend to change humans into ponies.”

“Edge, you’re so full of shit.”

“I’m gonna prove it, Simone, just you fuckin’ wait and see.”

“Either way, I’m gonna see what makes ‘em tick, see if they bleed red or green.”

They had passed through the swinging double doors and were still examining the doors to the right and left when Edge came across a door unlike the others. No window, hinges on the inside, narrower than the doors to the examination room and a big lock instead of a handle. He called Simone over.

As the girl crossed the hallway, something else grabbed his attention. “I think I hear voices,” he said, as he started to walk to the double doors.

“Quiet,” she said as she listened carefully. The voices were approaching the double doors, one responding to a radio message.

“Fuck! The cops!” hissed Simone. “Get over here. I think I can get this open... yeah, purely mechanical, no smarts at all. I think I've got a suitable bump key...”

“A what?” hissed Edge.

“Fuck, Edge, don't they teach you anything? Bump key, bump key!” the girl said as she produced what appeared to be an ordinary set of keys. She sorted through them quickly before exclaiming softly and inserting one of the keys into the lock on the door. Then she took out what looked like a hammer with the shaft removed starting tapping the key and jiggling it as she did so. After a few seconds, the key turned all the way and the door opened.

“Woah, Simone, you rock!”

“Yeah, I know. Get your ass in here!”

The door closed as they heard the sound of the double doors being pushed open. Simone quickly locked the door again and breathed a sigh of relief.

Simone leaned against a concrete wall and breathed deeply. In the pockets of her voluminous coat was a small fortune in ponification potion. She had cleaned out the shelves of the storage room and taken everything. Edge had only managed to snag a cherry-colored flask from the back of the shelving. Serves that idiot right. But she was rich. Rich enough to move away from her loser of a boyfriend, away from this hellhole called Hackensack, to a better life.

All she had to do is escape the Conversion Bureau.

She had turned left, taking another route than the one she and Edge had used to get to the storage room. The warren of tunnels were very confusing but Simone had finally come across a stairway leading up to the ground floor. She listened very carefully at the door at the top before trying to open it. The door was locked. Fortunately, it was another mechanical lock. In her mind, she thanked the architect of the Conversion Bureau for not specifying the more expensive electronic lock.

Behind her, she heard distant voices.

Simone fumbled in the pockets of her coat, trying to find her bump key. The number and size of the various flasks made finding the small ring of keys difficult. She needed to empty her pocket temporarily to retrieve her keys and other tools.

At the landing, halfway down the stairs, the stairway banister had a level spot. Simone retreated to the landing and began to remove flasks from her pocket. The first flask wobbled a bit as she put it on the banister so she reached a hand out to steady it. The flask's seal felt a bit loose when she touched it.

The voices came closer. Simone began to put the second flask on the banister landing. The door at the top of the stairs opened suddenly.

Simone started. Her hand bumped the flasks perched on the stair banister. As if in slow motion, the girl watched the flasks rock, tip and begin to fall. She slowly put her hand out to catch the falling flasks. The seal of the first flask spiraled off as the purplish liquid sprayed across her wrist and hand. The two flasks continued to descend to the floor as Simone pushed herself away from the liquid. She turned to stare at where the purple liquid covered her hand. The two flasks hit the floor and bounced. The open flask spun around, spilling a bit of the ponification potion as the other one rolled against the wall.

Simone took another step backwards. The purplish liquid appeared to have been absorbed into her skin. A numbness overtook her hand and as she watched, her hand began to to become misshaped and lumpy. A sharp, growing pain ran from her hand and arm, as if all her bones were being smashed. The excruciating pain caused Simone to scream. She screamed until the pain caused her to pass out.

It was the strangest dream that Simone could remember, full of ponies silently running, pegasi flying among the clouds, unicorns studying secrets and finally, two winged unicorns that looked upon her sadly. The details of her dream faded as she woke. Simone could hear several people and a pony talking. She kept her eyes closed as she tried to remember what had happened. There was no trace of the pain that she had felt moments earlier. Her hand no longer felt numb. With the memory of her hand becoming a horrid fleshy club, Simone willed her index finger to move slightly. Something moved but it felt wrong.

Her eyes popped open. She was lying on her side on the stairway landing. Her hands and her arms had been changed into the hooves and forelegs of a pony.

“She's coming around,” said a rough voice.

“I'm on it,” said another voice. “Good thing that she brought her own inhibitor ring.” The second voice stepped up to Simone's head, grabbed something that she felt was attached to her skull and rammed something down.

A background feeling of gentle power was suddenly gone. Simone was aware of the power only by its absence. It was like the sound of crickets on a warm summer evening when it goes quiet.

A yellow earth pony stepped into view. “I'm really sorry, dearie. We had to ponify you to save your life. You had ponification potion spilled on you and were undergoing a partial conversion. You were in great pain and dying when I found you. Luckily Bob and I were able to administer the rest of the potion.”

“I'm... a... pony?” Simone said. She rolled onto her stomach and looked at her new body. She had a soft gray coat with a pink mane and tail. She disliked grays and hated the color pink. Idly, she flicked her new pink tail. Why did she have to turn out pink?

“A unicorn,” the earth pony answered, “to be precise. Someday, you'll be able to use magic. With your horn.”

Simone blinked. “I'm a... unicorn?”

“Miss Unicorn has to answer for multiple crimes before she can learn anything about magic,” the rough voice said. The state cop rose from his study of Simone's discarded clothing. “I've found several items of contraband, among them a combat knife and a ring of lock picking keys. Not to mention all the flasks of pontification she had in her coat pockets.”

“I'm a gray and pink unicorn...”

“Bob,” the earth pony began, “this is a matter for Princess Celestia to handle. You don't have jurisdiction over newfoals.”

“Yeah,” Bob continued. “Miss Unicorn committed those crimes while human. That makes her my prisoner. Even if she did convert to a pony.”

“I'm a fucking gray and pink unicorn and I'm naked.”

“Oh, don't you fret about that,” the earth pony said to Simone, “You're naked, I'm naked, Star Shield's naked, it's spring and we're all ponies. You'll get used to it, dearie.” She turned back to the state policeman. “You can't have her. You can't hold her. What do your people know about keeping ponies?”

Bob tapped Simone's horn. “Lily Twirl, with this inhibitor ring, she can't do magic. We can hold her, give a her fair trial and lock her up to serve her sentence.”

“Fair trial?” Lily Twirl snorted. “And where are you going to lock her up? In those warehouses you call prisons? Filled with HLF members and worse? It won't be a prison sentence. It'll be a death sentence.” The earth pony stepped up to the cop. “And before you take her,” she said, hitting him in the legs with her hoof to make her point, “you'll have to answer to Princess Celestia”.

The second voice that had placed the red inhibitor ring on Simone's horn spoke. “Give it up, Bob.”

Bob glared at the other cop. “Always the pony lover, Bill. Fine, have it your way.”

Lily Twirl turned her attention to Simone. “Can you get to your feet, dearie? Take your fore legs and push yourself up. Then gather yourself and stand on your hind legs. Here, Bill, Bob, help her up. A stairway landing isn't the best place to recover from ponification.”

With an effort and a heave, Simone pulled herself up and stood unsteadily, using Bill's legs as additional support. She looked at her clothes lying in a heap, her boots cut open with a knife and her long coat split down the back.

“We had to cut your clothes off when you were changing,” Bob said. “They were confining your flesh and strangling you. Luckily, someone had a illegal knife in their pocket.”

Lily Twirl quieted the state cop with a glare. Then she turned back to Simone. “What's your name, dearie? We can't keep calling you 'Miss Unicorn' forever.”

“Simone,” the gray unicorn answered.

“Simone. That's nice. Now most newfoals don't deal with stairs until they feel more confident,” the earth pony said, “but we've really got to get off this landing. Perhaps if Bob and Bill were to lock hands and give you support from behind, we could help you climb these few steps?”

Step by step, they made it up the steps to the upper door, Lily Twirl showing Simone how to place each forefoot while Bob and Bill provided the muscle to push her up the stairs. In the broad hallway at the top, Lily Twirl thanked the two state cops for their help and sent them off. She then turned to Simone and thought for a moment. “Come along, dearie. I can show you to a room, get you a bite to eat and then we here can decide what is to become of you. Don't think we've ever had an involuntary conversion before in the Bureau.“

Simone sat in front of the mirror in her room and reflected. Large green eyes with long, soft eyelashes blinked back at her. Her gray horn, partially hidden by waves of pink hair, had a red inscribed ring sealing off her magic.

The mirror showed the rest of her room – a single bed, a small table holding the remains of her first meal as a pony, a wardrobe containing several coat hangers and a few cushions for sitting on. It was far better than the trashed furniture that she shared with Sean in the flop they called home. Thinking of Sean, the unicorn wondered if he had been able to avoid being arrested. She wondered if Sean would even know what to do without her calling the shots. He was good looking, good in bed, but kind of stupid. She wondered what Sean would do if he found himself in her shoes – no, her hooves. Would he be stupid enough to follow Edge down the stairs and into the potion storage room? And speaking of Edge, where was that kid? It was really his fault that she ended up being converted into unicorn against her will. He had protested when Simone grabbed most of the flasks. In fact, Edge probably loosened the seal on that one flask that sprayed her hand. All of this was Edge's fault!

“Ugh,” Simone finally said to the mirror. “All this thinking ain't getting me nowhere!” She rose to her feet and walked to the door. Pushing it open with her nose, Simone looked up and down the hallway. The attack on the Conversion Bureau had been quite tiring on the personnel of the Bureau and everyone had retired for the night. The hallway was empty.

She stepped out into the hallway and turned toward the lobby. Looking around the corner, Simone did not see anyone in the lobby. The registration desk smelled of gasoline and ash, the chairs and tables were a jumble of trash waiting to be cleared. And to the unicorn's surprise, the doors leading out were still broken and open.

She gathered up her courage and boldly walked forward. Someone had told her once that she should always walk like she belonged there. Cops pick up on little signs like hesitation and lack of self-confidence and then watch you for any signs of wrongdoing.

At the broken door, Simone walked past the guards. “Evening,” she said as if she had the perfect right to be wandering outside the Conversion Bureau.

“Ma'am,” the guard responded. “be careful now. We didn't get all the thugs that broke into the building. Some of them might still be out there.”

“Thank you for the warning. I certainly shall be careful.”

Simone trotted quickly away from the building and around the corner where she was out of sight of the Conversion Bureau and its guards. Underneath a gently buzzing sodium light, she began to think. Where to go?

Sean was her first choice. But was it a good choice? While Sean wasn't a card carrying member of the HLF, he agreed with most of their policies. She had been able to twist Sean around to her way of thinking on most things, but it would be hard to do as a short, gray pony. She couldn't even withhold sex as a punishment now. And even if Sean could accept her new body – and that's if Sean wasn't in jail for looting the Conversion Bureau – his friends were no friends of hers. She had belittled them, made fun of them and insulted them. She had able to do so, secure in the knowledge that either Sean or her skill with her combat knife would protect her. She no longer had her combat knife. She didn't even have the hands to wield the knife. Sean's friends would jump at the chance for payback.

Her next choice would be her parents. It would be a long walk up to Dumont where her parents had had their house. He was an executive with a large bank in New York City. She was an assistant attorney at a Wall Street investment house. Both were very proud of Simone's older brother and his progress toward a MBA at Harvard. Both had almost disowned Simone for failing to live up to their high standards. Her father would tell her that she had made her bed and must now lie in it. Her mother would wail and exclaim why Simone couldn't be more like her brother. What would her co-workers think? Would having a pony in the family hurt her chances for a promotion? No, she could not take refuge with her family.

Perhaps at school? Simone had no friends at school that she could rely on. Her bullying ways, her goth makeup, black-dyed hair, blood red clothes, heavy leather boots and long black coat had alienated most of her fellow students. She hung out mostly with Sean's clique when she wasn't attending classes. Simone had a reputation as a troublemaker and most students avoided her.


A rustling of leaves nearby caught her attention. Suddenly, Simone realized that she was out in the night alone with only running away as a defense. She backed away slowly. The leaves shook as if someone was trying to rush her. She turned and galloped quickly back towards the Conversion Bureau.

Lily Twirl and a white unicorn were waiting at the ruined door. “Welcome back, Simone,” the earth pony said as Simone walked towards them. “Did you have a nice walk? I hope you didn't have any problems. He,” nodding to the white unicorn, “was just about to retrieve you. The ring around your horn allows us to track you anywhere in the world.” Lily Twirl grinned. “Anywhere.”

Simone made no reply.

“I wonder,” the earth pony continued, “if you happened to see Bob. You know, he isn't very happy with losing his bust. Outside of the Conversion Bureau, he might decide to arrest you after all. They like arrests down at the station house.”

Simone hung her head.

“Anyway, I do hope you decide not to wander the streets of Hackensack,” Lily Twirl added. “They simply aren't safe for the likes of you and me. There is no safe place for you other than with us ponies.”

“Yeah...,” Simone said quietly. “I see that now.”

“Come now, back to your room. You could use a good night's rest and a good hearty breakfast in the morning. Things will be decided in the morning.”

Simone let herself be guided back to her room on the ground floor. “I'll tell the guards to be on the watch out if you should happen to wander off again,” Lily Twirl said. “Good night, dearie.”

The unicorn sat back down in front of her mirror. Green eyes blinked back at her. “No place to run to. No one to help me. I'm fucked.”

Something poked her gently in the ribs. Simone turned in her sleep and said, “Fuck no Sean, I'm still mad at you.”

“Wake up, wake up, dearie,“ Lily Twirl said. “They got a message from the court. They want you in Canterlot as soon as possible.”

Simone opened her eyes. It was so early in the morning that the sun had not even cleared the buildings across the street. “Huh?”

“There's barely enough time for a bite to eat. The guard that will take you to Canterlot is waiting.”

Simone rolled out of bed and stood up.

The earth pony pushed a bag at Simone's feet. “Your release bag. It contains a few things to help you start life again. Wash kit, rain gear, a few bits, necessities, paper and a writing utensil, that type of stuff. Every pony leaving the Conversion Bureau gets one. Come on, the clock is ticking.”

Simone looked at the bag at her feet. “How am I supposed to carry this? No hands.”

“With your mouth, you carry it with your mouth,” Lily Twirl said. She paused for a moment and then continued, “Listen, dearie, there ain't many people that get a second chance at life. Now I don't know much about you but from what I'm hearing, your life hasn't been all songs and roses. People don't carry a big knife like that if they're happy about themselves. You didn't plan on converting to a pony and the Conversion Bureau is real sorry that it happened. But it happened. Leave it and all your bad memories behind. You have a new world to explore. Don't make the same mistakes that you made in this world.”

Simone followed her guard through the white hallways of the castle in Canterlot. She had met the stoic Royal Guard as she exited the Conversion Bureau. A white pegasus in golden armor, he told her that he was ordered to escort her to Canterlot; he spoke no more than a few sentences to her during the rest of the long trip. Simone wondered what his name was.

The two of them arrived in front of a polished wooden door guarded by two more of the Royal Guards. “Wait here,” the pegasus ordered, opened the door and slipped inside.

“Hi,” Simone smiled at the two guards. “Nice weather we're having. What do ya do for fun around here.”

The two guards stared into the distance with stony expressions.

“I just flew in from the coast and boy, my arms are... I see that joke doesn't work with you pegasi, does it.”

The guards continued their impression of a pair of statues.

“Tough crowd,” Simone said to herself. “Think positive, think positive.”

The polished wooden doors opened again. “Come in,” said a tan earth pony. “The magistrate will now hear your case.”

Simone walked into a large room as the earth pony closed the doors behind her. There was a tall bench at one end of the room upon which a gray unicorn with a elegantly tousled black mane and a pince-nez on his muzzle, sat. Other than her guard, there was no one else in the room. The tan pony walked to the center of the room. “Hear ye, hear ye, the court of Magistrate Jet Set is now in session.”

“Thank you, bailiff”, the magistrate said. “Let us make haste. I have a garden party to attend shortly. What are the charges?”

The guard stepped forward, reached into his armor and pulled forth a packet of papers. He passed the packet to the magistrate and stepped back.

“I see,” the magistrate said after glancing through the papers. “Has the defendant anything to say before I pass sentence? I realize that there are mitigating circumstances but the defendant did attempt to steal a large amount of ponification potion.”

Simone glared at the magistrate.

“I sentence you to be banished to the Everfree-”

The bailiff quickly approached the magistrate and whispered in his ear.

“Oh really? Since when? I see. If that is what is recommended.” The magistrate straightened up and gave Simone a stern look through his pince-nez. “I am informed that banishment to the Everfree Forest is longer a fit punishment for that crime. Furthermore, I am told the correct sentence is a period of community service. At the behest of Princess Celestia, you will perform those duties that are required of you. Term to run - how much ponification potion did she take? That much? Well, 365 days. Time off for good behavior and all that. Is there someone representing the crown here?”

There was a knocking at the wooden doors. The bailiff walked over and let in a pink unicorn mare with a magenta mane.

“I'm sorry that I'm late,” the pink unicorn said as she trotted up to the bench. “I overslept and they just told me that my charge had arrived. Dawn Light, representing the crown of Equestria.”

“I see,” harrumphed the magistrate. “I transfer the custody of the prisoner to your supervision. Has the prisoner's magic been properly restrained?

“Yes sir,” the guard answered. “It was applied at the Conversion Bureau in Hack... Hackney... Hackney-Sack.”

Simone turned to the pink unicorn standing at her side. “I can appeal the case to a higher authority?”

“Certainly,” Dawn Light answered. “But the only one you can appeal to is Princess Celestia.”

“Then I will.” Simone stepped towards the bench. “I appeal this case! To Princess Celestia!”

The magistrate who was about to leave for his garden party, stopped. “An appeal? Very well. Bailiff, when is the next opening in the princess's schedule for hearing appeals? That long? She is a very busy alicorn indeed.” He turned back to Simone. “You may make your appeal in 370 days. In the meantime, you will serve your community service under the supervision of Dawn Light or whoever the crown appoints. Good day!”

Simone watched the magistrate leave the courtroom and muttered, “Bah, fuck you and the horse.... wait, that doesn't work here, does it?”

Dawn Light collected the packet of papers from the magistrate's bench. “Come along, young lady. Let's get a light lunch and then we'll find you a place to stay for a few days. It'll give you time to get acclimated to Equestria and those things that you need to know. They should have taught you all that at the Conversion Bureau.”

Simone sighed. “ They wanted to get me out of there because a cop named Bob was trying to arrest me for the same crime that I got sentenced here in Canterlot.”

“Well, come along. Don't forget your release bag,” Dawn Light said.

Following along behind Dawn Light, Simone was surprised by Canterlot. Tall white and gold towers reached for the sky. Unicorns crowded the streets, many of them dressed in hats or coats. Some of them used magic – Simone guessed it was magic – to carry shopping bags. She saw a few earth ponies, mostly busy with the myriad tasks involved in keeping the city clean. The few pegasus that she saw were Royal Guards, standing at their posts. A sign of a pony having her hair styled caught her eye.

“Dawn Light?” Simone began, putting down her bag. “Do we have time for a small stop first?”

“I don't see why not.”

“I want to get my coat, mane and tail dyed.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“I don't like my colors. Pink is such a horrid color to be.”

“Well!” the pink unicorn sniffed. “Some of us... love the color pink.”

“But I don't,” Simone said as she entered the salon.

“Welcome... miss,” the young cyan unicorn said as she caught sight of Simone's inhibitor ring around her horn.

“Good day, Azure Touch,” Dawn Light said as she entered the salon behind the gray unicorn. “This young lady would like a coat dye and a mane coloring.”

“Certainly. What would the miss wish?”

“Black. Black for my coat. Can you do that?” Simone asked.

“But of course. It is not popular since Nightmare Moon made her appearance but I can do that.”

“And can you make my mane and tail black as well?”

Azure Touch stared at Simone. “Is the young miss going on an infiltration mission?” she asked of Dawn Light. “Or perhaps is she going to move stage settings at an avant-garde play?

“No pony would even consider coloring their mane the same color as their coat color,” Dawn Light answered.

Simone thought for a moment. “Red then?”

“It would be a bit garish,” Azure Touch replied, “but it can be done.”

A short time later, Simone left the salon, a black and red unicorn. Dawn Light had to help her pay for the coloration with the coins in Simone's bag. Azure Touch wished them well and told Simone that she'd have to come back in two months for another touch up. Simone was pleased with the way that her red mane made her inhibitor ring less obvious.

The sidewalk cafe was wonderful and the small cake pastries were delightful. It even made up for the last few days that Simone had to spent practicing writing in her diary with her writing instrument. The street was crowded as always with unicorns. Some stallions, Simone noticed, were looking at her as they passed by. They were noting her striking black coat and red mane. She smiled at them, shook out her mane and asked Dawn Light, “Tell me again why I have to practice writing,”

The pink unicorn was using magic to lift her espresso cup to her lips. Simone had to take the cup in her lips and tilt it upwards to to drink – just like an earth pony.

“One of the terms of your sentence,” Dawn Light said after putting down her cup, “was that you would write every day in your dairy. You would write down your thoughts and feelings.” Her horn glowed for a moment and the diary rose out of Simone's bag and on to the table. “Your true thoughts and feelings. Up to now, all that I can read is that you hate this Edge fellow and that you hope he dies horribly. Every page has a mention of Edge and how it's all his fault.”

“But it really is his fault. Every time I think of him-” Simone said sullenly.

“Simone,” the pink unicorn said softly, “it is time to put those things behind you. You have a new chance, a second chance at life.” She slid the diary across the table to Simone. “You'll start serving your sentence tomorrow. We'll be traveling to some small place called Ponyville to meet the others who are starting their community service under a Misses Providence. You can compare notes and tell each other stories. It'll make the days go faster. You'll see.”

The train rattled through the countryside. In the almost empty third car, a pair of unicorns sat. The pink unicorn rested on her bench, her eyes closed. The black unicorn with the red mane sat, her head resting on the windowsill, watching the trees and fields rush by. “Dawn Light,” the black unicorn said softly, “How long has it been? A few days? Only a few days?”

Dawn Light grunted.

“It seems like forever since I walked into the flop where Sean and his gang were staying... made love to him... ran up the steps to my school... hung out with my gang near the school's boiler room... I'm having a hard time remembering these things.”

“Equestria has that effect on newfoals,” Dawn Light said sleepily. “Memories giving way for new memories. Let them go...”

Simone turned back to the rows of apple trees streaming past. “But my memories are all I have of my.... old life. I can picture things in my mind – but it's like it was in a dream. Not real.”

Dawn Light opened her eyes. “You won't need those memories now, Simone. Not in Equestria. But if it makes you feel better, write them down in your diary.”

The train whistled and began to slow down. The rows of apple trees gave way to a park, filled with grass, trees and walkways.

“I've tried,” Simone said sullenly. “I've really tried. But the words, the thoughts don't even make sense anymore.” She laid her head back on the windowsill.

The train slowed to a walking pace as it entered Ponyville station. With a hiss of steam and a screech, it shuddered to a stop. Dawn Light sat up and jumped down from her bench. “Come on Simone, we have someone to meet.”

Simone clip-clopped out onto the platform with Dawn Light. Waiting for them were a tan mare wearing glasses on her muzzle and a strong earth pony guard.

“Welcome to Ponyville, Ma'am,” said the tan earth pony.

“Thank you, Mayor Mare,” said Dawn Light. “May I present Simone who will be your charge until Misses Providence takes responsibility?”

“Yes, thank you. The others are under guard just outside the town. We'll take good care of her until Misses Providence takes over. Might I have the paperwork?”

Dawn Light's horn glowed and a packet of paper floated over to Mayor Mare. The tan earth pony slipped it into her collar and turned to go.

“Good bye, Simone,” Dawn Light said. “Remember, to let go of the past; it can only hurt you here.” She stepped onto the platform of the passenger car and the train slowly pulled out of the station.

The three ponies left Ponyville station, the earth pony guard keeping a close eye on the black unicorn. Simone wanted to ask questions of Mayor Mare but the cold demeanor of the earth pony guard discouraged her. They walked briskly, leaving the buildings of the town behind until they came to a clearing with three other earth pony guards and two individuals, the like of which Simone had never seen before. One was the bastard get of an eagle and a lion. From the looks of the eagle's beak, the powerful wings, the heavily muscled hindquarters, and the mighty talons, this beast was designed to feed on every kind of pony. The other was even stranger. Whatever the other individual was, she – and Simone was unsure of her gender – she looked to be the result of someone dumping every kind of animal into a blender and switching it on. Simone had no idea what the mixed up creature's purpose was. Both the individuals had scarlet bands around their hooves similar to the ring around her horn.

“ What-” she began to question.

“Silence in the ranks,” one of the earth pony guards barked. “There will be no talking!”

Mayor Mare looked over her little group. “We've got a little more traveling to do to meet Misses Providence and her charge. They're flying in from Canterlot by balloon. It seems that her charge had a meeting with the Princess herself.

Simone and the others sullenly followed Mayor Mare and the four earth pony guards down a broad and winding cobblestone path. Ahead on a small hill was a balloon and standing beside it was a elderly unicorn and a young white pegasus with a golden mane and tail. The white pegasus was obviously Misses Providence's charge as she also had a similar red band around her hoof.

Mayor Mare greeted the elderly unicorn and the two fell to talking. Paperwork was presented and signed and then Mayor Mare and the four stoic earth pony guards walked away.
Misses Providence turned back to her charges and smiled. With a warm and sincere voice, she told them to take some time off, relax and mingle. Then she dismissed them and went to take a nap under a nearby tree.

Simone stared.

“Eh, you'll get used to it, dweeb. Name's Gilda. Gilda Griffon.”

E-Edge,” said the white pegasus, her head swinging between the others and the sleeping unicorn.

Edge? That nasty little kid that started all her problems? Here? A pony? Simone had thought and had planned and had dreamed about getting her revenge on the kid responsible for her ending up this way. But she had never thought that she would actually carry it out. Killing him was too easy a punishment – and she no longer thought that she could murder another pony. But she could make his life miserable. Oh, she could have so much fun making his life hell.

“Edge, huh. I get to blame you for all this, then.” said Simone.

“Simone?” squeaked Edge.

“Yeah, Simone. You make a pretty pony, Edge. Do as I say and you'll stay that way,” Simone said in a threatening tone.

“You, I like,” said Gilda. “Not sure about this other one.”

“Bedlam, my name's Bedlam.” the strange creature began. The small group talked and compared stories as they walked down towards Ponyville. They were very impressed with Edge's account of how he insulted the Princesses.

“Now that is hardcore. You're alright with me, Edge. Come on, let's see what they got in this flip-flop dump of a town for a bunch of righteous criminals to do.” Gilda punched Edge in the flank.

They walked a bit closer to town. Simone sidled up to Gilda. “Edge. That pegasus. He got me into this mess. He's the reason that I became a unicorn mare against my will.

“Edge?” Gilda snorted. “A guy? With that body and those eyes? You got to be joshing me.”

“Yeah, he's a guy,” Simone said. “An annoying kid that I wish I never met.”

“Hey dweeb,” called Gilda to Edge who was walking behind them. “Simone here says that you're a guy.”

“I was,” Edge answered.

“So... what? You're telling me you're a filly now? Bullshit,” called Simone.

“Fuck you, Simone.”

“Prove it.”

“Alright I will! I'm a girl, okay! I took the wrong stuff and I came out a girl! Happy?” Edge spun around and spread her hind legs. She lifted her tail and presented the evidence that she was truly a mare to the world.

Simone for her part, burst out laughing. Oh this was rich! This was funny! This was revenge! This was better than any plan that she could ever come up with. The best part of it – she didn't have to lift a hand – a hoof. She could just sit back and watch Edge squirm.

“Fuck you, Simone,” repeated Edge.

Simone laughed even harder. She laughed so hard, she was rolling on the grass.

Edge stormed past.

“Simone?” Misses Providence asked. “We're all ready to go on. Would you be a dear and go look for Edge? I really need to keep an eye on Bedlam and Gilda or they will start telling strange stories about humans again.”

“Yes, Misses Providence,” Simone replied.

The elderly unicorn smiled.

It was the fourth small town that the group had flown to with Misses Providence's balloon. Sometimes, Misses Providence would have them go out and do farm work, other times, she would have them go into classrooms full of young fillies and colts and give a short presentation as to what they were, where they were from and why they were here. By now, Simone could recite her lines in her sleep. But the questions that the foals came up with surprised her. The little colts and fillies had a way of stripping away the lies she told herself and holding a mirror to the truth. Simone dreaded giving the performances. She would almost rather collect rotten apples for the pigs or plough fields than face another class of bright eager faces.

Edge suffered even worse than the others. The white pegasus had to explain to the foals how it came about that she was born a man but was now a pegasus mare. At first, Simone enjoyed watching him squirm but then it became tiresome.

Gilda and Bedlam had picked up on their discomfort and used every opportunity to spread rumors and untruths about humans and Earth. Simone and Edge got tried of explaining that they didn't eat ponies, they had not eaten ponies as humans and as far as they could recollect, had never eaten a pony in their lives.

“Edge?” Simone called out as she trotted around the corner of the schoolhouse. Past the striped pole with tether balls, the swings and slides, out by the road, Edge was talking to a blue unicorn and a brown pegasus. “Missus Providence wants you...”

“Okay!” Edge called back. He turned back to the stallions. “I've got to go now!”

“What are you doing?” Simone hissed at the white pegasus as she trotted by.

“They wanted to know what's it like on Earth,” Edge replied. “They were very nice.” She trotted past Simone and into the schoolhouse.

Simone smiled, shook out her mane, patted down her forelock and began to walk to the two males. But they had already turned and headed back into town. She stared; the males were all over Edge while Simone got... nothing.

Something like this had happened in the previous town. And the one before that. And every single time that they met stallions. Something about the white pegasus had all the males fascinated with her. While Edge was unaware of the stallions' interest, Simone couldn't get a single glance in her direction. This wasn't supposed to happen. Her subtle revenge on the kid was beginning to backfire.

“Let me get this straight,” Edge huffed.

“Shoot,” Simone said.

“You - and Gilda and Bedlam - vandalized my picture because..?”

“Nopony, ugh... nobody knew it was you.”


“Lighten up scrub, it was funny. You know, haha and all that?”

Edge rolled her eyes, “Well okay, I guess it was kinda funny. Certainly had the kids laughing.”

“Pfft, screw them.” Simone blew a lock of her mane out of her eyes, “I just want this to be over.”

Edge looked down at the ground, the ground she was currently plowing. “I don’t.”

“Edge? What the fuck are you on? This is dull! This is Dullzville, Dull county, Dullestria. boring with a capital snooze!”

“You know what I did before... this?”

“No, and I don’t care.”

“I screwed the tops on toothpaste, because the company was too poor to refurbish their robot and cheap labour was cheaper than hiring the extortionate prices that manual robot and AI techs cost, least that’s what they thought. You want dull, you try screwing little plastic tops on toothpaste tubes for eight hours a day.”

“Bah.” Simone looked away, mostly in a direction only she could see.

“Hey watch it! You’ll tip us!” Edge stumbled, yanking Simone back to reality as the plough jumped on a buried rock.

“So? Who gives a shit.”

“Me! I can’t use these... these bloody wings, but they still hurt like buggery when I sprain them!”

“Wah wah wah, my wings hurt, my hooves hurt. At least you can use your wings. I’ve got this damn inhibitor-ring on my horn and I have to do everything like an earth pony, including pulling this stupid plough for stupid settlers in this stupid ‘extramentional land’ bullshit.”


“Whatever! And worst of all I’ve got to do it hitched to you, the whiniest, horniest, bitchiest little mare who’s just begging for somepony to plough her own furrow.”

“I... don’t!”

“You do! Even I can tell you’re gagging for it! Half the fucking stallions around here are at half mast if you so much as flick an eyelid, and...”


“And none of them want me.”

Edge stopped short, causing Simone to stumble, “I... don’t know what to say. I... think you’re pretty.”

“Fuck you.”

“I do!”

“Fuck off you filly fooler.”

Edge trembled, her bottom lip quivered. She suddenly flexed, twisted, turned, pulled, bucked and threw the harness off. With one final look at Simone, she bolted.

Simone watched her go.

Far overhead, in a deep blue sky, puffy white clouds floated slowly by. Simone was still entangled in her harness, lying in a dirty field, hungry and thirsty, waiting for somepony to come find her. Hours had passed since Edge had fled. “Stupid second chances. Stupid everything...”