• Published 2nd Jan 2021
  • 608 Views, 168 Comments

Retcon - Beige Monkfish



A pony with no memory awakens in a strange facility.

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Chapter Two - Breakfast

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The pegasus mare had gotten very little sleep that night. She was restless, and had taken to pacing around, exploring the room in the faint moonlight. She had tried the door handle again once she was sure she heard nothing outside, confirming it was indeed locked. Her room had a chest of drawers, all empty, a wardrobe, also empty, a table and cushion with a few blank sheets of parchment and a quill, and a mirror hung on the wall behind it. The sink in the bathroom came with a bar of soap, and a few things she didn’t recognise. Beyond that, there appeared to be nothing else loose in her room.

The room didn’t seem used to having guests.

Despite the gnawing hunger, she felt like she couldn’t stomach much food. Looking at the food on the trolley made her feel slightly queasy, remembering for some reason how dreadful she felt the first time she woke up. Instead she took to sipping the water, and managing only a few small bites of the sandwich. It was a dandelion sandwich, and it tasted nice, though she wondered why she knew what a dandelion was. The orange seemed like it would be an ordeal she wasn’t prepared for, so she left it.

As well as stretching her legs, she also tested out her wings, raising them to get a feel for how they moved. It was a strange sensation, feeling her centre of gravity shifting and she pushed and pulled the strong muscles in and around the wings. She didn’t flap them; the room was far too small, and she wasn’t even certain how to go about flying. No, the ground would do for now.

Eventually she managed to get to sleep, though the sky was already brightening before her mind had stopped racing. She was already awake again, lying in bed and staring at the wall, when there was a knock at the door.

Morning, it’s me again!” called Lemony’s voice. “Are you up?

“Uhh, yeah,” the pegasus responded after a moment, getting up from the bed. She rubbed the inside of her foreleg, it was itchy. “…Come in.” She felt a little better adding that.

There was a click, and the door opened. Lemony stepped part-way in. “Hey, how are we feeling today?”

She frowned. “Um, still lost. And hungry.”

“Oh silly, that’ll be why,” said Lemony, nodding at the trolley, “you’ve barely had a thing. Come on, let’s get some breakfast in you!” She turned to the door, gesturing to follow.

I’m… getting out?

Stepping out into the hallway, the pegasus wasn’t sure what to make of it. There were several doors like her own on either side, and the floor was tiled. The hallway didn’t inspire comfort, but she was starting to wonder if the only thing she didn’t like of this place was its unfamiliarity. Which, if she truly had amnesia, was a quality that would apply to most things. At least Lemony was kind, and the feelings she gave off seemed genuine. She decided to play along for the time being, following behind the pink unicorn. There was a mark on Lemony’s flanks, the pegasus noticed, an image of a fruit cut in half. She wondered what that was about.

A thought came to her with a start, and she glanced around. There was no one else in the hallway, and yet she could’ve sworn she saw someone else outside her room the night before. She had assumed it had been a guard or something, considering her door had been locked.

As she followed, she looked around, trying to glean any clues as to where she was. Turning a corner revealed a similar hallway, followed by a flight of stairs going up, at the top of which were yet more closed doors on one side, and on the other were windows, looking out onto the courtyard garden. There were no sign or labels or any indicators in the hallways, everything was strangely blank, as if it had never been touched. At least the floor was carpeted. At some point, Lemony had started humming to herself. The pegasus found herself trying to tread more lightly so that she could hear the melody.

Turning down a hallway facing away from the windows, they went down another flight of stairs, finally coming to an area that looked somewhat more lived-in. Though built similarly, this corridor was wider, and the doors actually had labels on them, if only little metal plaques with numbers, and while everything seemed reasonably clean, the carpet showed signs of wear. The end of the corridor seemed to open out into a larger space, but Lemony stopped at a door before they got close.

Room 36, the pegasus made a mental note.

“Ah, there you are.”

The pegasus jumped as she heard the new voice. As she followed Lemony inside, she saw another pegasus, with a lilac coat and a short blue mane, sitting at a large table stacked with food.

The newcomer got up and came to greet them. She seemed calm and at ease, but there was a slightly flinty look in her eye that the pegasus didn’t like. She heard the door close behind her.

“I’m Shower,” she said, hoof outstretched. “How’re you holding up?”

The pegasus looked at the hoof, then back to Shower. “Uh, I’m holding up.”

After a moment, Shower lowered the hoof. Fleeting disappointment, followed by understanding. Am I missing something?

“That’s good. C’mon, let’s get you some food, you must be hungry.”

Lemony was already helping herself to some toast. “I’d say, she barely ate a thing last night. Could you pass me the jam please?”

“What, not a fan of sandwiches?” Shower pushed a pot of jam over, then sat back on her cushion with an apple in one hoof. She also had marks on her flanks; something white and poofy with small shapes beneath it. A cloud? “Sorry, we don’t normally have that much in.” She took a bite out of the apple, then frowned. “You can sit down, you know.”

The pegasus took the cushion closest to the door. Before her were racks of toast, plates of pancakes, bowls of assorted fruits and various jentacular foodstuffs. On smaller tables to the edges of the room were small vats of fluids, most were brightly- coloured though one could have been water, and beside them was a metal barrel.

Shower must have caught her looking, as she nodded over at the barrel. “You want some coffee?”

The pegasus frowned. “I don’t know what coffee is.”

Shower slowed her chewing, then put the apple down. “And what do you know?”

The pegasus considered being glib, but then paused to think. “I know that I woke up here. I know that that is a unicorn, and her name is Lemony,” she pointed to Lemony, who had a mouth full of toast, and butter on her nose. Lemony went cross-eyed as she looked up at her hairline. “I know what a dandelion is, and that that is a chunk of pineapple. But I don’t know what’s in those,” she gestured at the vats and the barrel. “I haven’t got a clue who I am or where I am, and I only have your word to go off of as to why I’m here.”

Shower nodded gently. “That’s fair.” After a moment she gave a small encouraging smile, though the pegasus thought Lemony did that better. “What do you wanna start with?”

Answers? Alright, what is the most important thing to start with?

“What do you know about me? Who am I?”

Shower’s expression fell. “We don’t know. You were in an accident. It seems to have knocked a few of your memories loose.”

“What kind of accident?”

Shower returned to her apple. “Flying accident. You hit your head pretty hard.”

The pegasus frowned. “Is there anyone here who knows me?”

“Sorry,” Shower shook her head. “You were alone when we found you.”

Okay, so no leads. She reached over and grabbed a pear. She knew what a pear looked like, but not how one might taste. It seemed to smell alright. She took a hesitant bite. Then another. It was good. “What is this place? Who are you ponies?”

Shower scratched her chin. “Well there’s not much I can say. This is the Royal Investigation Institute; we do all sorts for the Crown. You’re just here while you find your wings.” She put a hoof to her chest. “Name’s Light Shower, ex-Royal Guard. You’ve already met Lemony Meringue, our historian.”

Lemony waved cheerfully, half a pancake sticking out of her mouth.

“The crown?”

Shower blinked. “Yeah, the Princesses. Uh, Celestia and Luna.” She paused for a moment. “They rule Equestria.”

I wonder if they have to share the crown between them. Unless they have half of the crown each.

Oh wait, ‘Equestria’. I guess that’s the name of the land.

“Do you often have ponies with amnesia here?” She thought back to the many doors she passed.

Shower laughed. “Nah, you’re the first.” She started buttering some toast. “You were in hospital for a bit, but they sent you to us.”

“What do you normally do, then? A… guard and a historian? I have amnesia, I don’t see the link.”

Shower shrugged. “Well like I say, all sorts.” She paused while she bit into the toast, then continued, a different tone to her voice. “We investigate things. Disappearances, strange occurrences, magic stuff. It’s hard to explain.” Her tone lightened. “It’s not every day somepony loses every memory in their head!”

“What do you mean, strange occurrences?”

“Ugh, gimme a break. There’s loads of wild magic out there, away from civilisation, and loads we don’t understand about the world. We’re here to catalogue it.”

The nameless pegasus put down the pear core. “Am I in your catalogue?”

Shower’s expression shifted strangely. “No, you’re a pony.”

She glanced over at the unicorn. Lemony was… worried?

Maybe I should try a pancake, with some of that yellow goop. “So when can I leave?”

Lemony and Shower looked at each other. “You’re going to need to take it easy for a little while,” said Lemony gently. “We don’t want to overtax your brain, it’s still a little delicate right now.” She smiled. “We also want to make sure you’re prepared for the outside world.”

Hold on…

“But wait, what about my memories? Is there any way to get them back? I mean, if I saw something familiar, would they start coming back to me?”

Shower sighed. “No. I mean, I don’t think so.” She frowned, looking to the side as she thought. “It’s like… like some parts of your brain have been wiped clean. There’s nothing there to jog.” Her expression softened. Sympathy. “I’m really sorry, but you’re probably best off starting from scratch. Find your own way from here, you know?”

“Oh. Okay.” I wonder if there’s anyone out there who misses me. How long have I been missing?

“Oh!” Lemony’s eyes lit up. “You should start with a name! What would you like to be called?”

Shower smirked. “That’s a good idea.”

A name to call myself…

“I don’t… I’m not sure.” Lemony Meringue, Light Shower… is there a set naming convention? I guess by the sound of it, anything could work.

“Lemony, you called me ‘honey’. Is that a name?”

Shower burst out laughing, causing Lemony’s face to turn a brighter shade of pink. “Um, no. It’s a… It’s a nickname kind of thing. I probably say it too much.”

“Hey, maybe something to do with your cutie mark,” suggested Shower, still grinning.

The pegasus tilted her head. “My what?”

Shower shared a look with Lemony, her grin faltering. “It’s, uh, the mark on your flank.”

Twisting around, the pegasus could see the image of a tree on her left side. It was simplistic, with a trunk that was slightly wider at the bottom, and branches full of leaves stretching out on either side. Turning, she saw a duplicate on her right.

I have one too? How did I not notice? “What are they?” she asked.

“A cutie mark is the symbol of a pony's special talent,” explained Lemony patiently. “They’re very important and very personal.”

“Your special talent is lemons?”

“Heh, well, it’s actually a grapefruit...”

The pegasus frowned. “My talent is trees? I don’t get it.”

Shower shrugged. “Hey, maybe you were a lumberjack or something.”

“So I guess, should I call myself Tree?”

“Hmm...” Shower tapped her chin. “Not really very you.”

The pegasus scowled at that. “I don’t even know me,” she muttered. How can I, when I don’t even remember my own name.

Remember...

A memory surfaced, half formed. Words had been coming to her in fragments since she had first woken, fragmenting further the more she thought about them.

One of those words came to her mind. It seemed important somehow. It was one of the few words to which she couldn’t assign any meaning at all.

“Retcon.”

Shower and Lemony froze. Alarm. “Uhh, what?” asked Shower.

“Retcon,” she repeated. “That is the name that I want.”

“You can't- where did you hear that word?”

She shrugged. “Where did I hear any of the words that I know? I guess I still know language, if nothing else. Why, what is wrong?”

“Oh, nothing’s wrong,” said Lemony. The pegasus narrowed her eyes. “It’s just… um, it’s odd you’d want to go for that word as a name. Do you know what it means?”

Shower shot the unicorn a look.

“No, I don’t.” The pegasus frowned. “I think I’ve heard it somewhere, but I don’t recall a definition. That’s why I want it. I have no memory of ‘coffee’, the concept or the word, but I remember this word. Maybe it’s important.”

Lemony shook her head. “It’s short for ‘retroactive continuity’, it’s a literary device for going back and changing things, pretending previous events in a story didn’t happen. It’s not a name.”

For the first time since she could remember, Retcon smiled slightly to herself. “It’s perfect. ‘Retcon’. That’s my name now.”

Shower didn’t look happy. “I dunno, d’you think you could pick something else?”

“You said pick something that’s me.” I’m going to play along if it means I can leave sooner, but I’m at least choosing my own name. Especially if you don’t like it.

Shower massaged her temple with a hoof. “Ugh, sure, okay then.” She stood up, grabbing another apple as she went. “Listen, I’ve got some paperwork to do, but it was nice meeting you,” she said amicably.

“Uhh, sure,” said Retcon, as Shower walked past. Behind her, she heard the door open, then close.

Retcon turned to Lemony. “I’ve upset her,” she said.

Lemony smiled. “You’re doing fine. Shower can sometimes be a little, well, brusque, but she really pretty nice.”

She’s being sincere, thought Retcon, but even so… “I think I’ve upset you too.”

Lemony started. “What? Oh, no no no, I’m not mad or anything! Goodness no. It’s just… an unusual name, is all.” The smile was back, and it seemed genuine. “I’m happy you’re happy with your name, Retcon.”

Retcon, she thought to herself. She was happy. Already she felt just a little less lost.

“Lemony… I want to try the coffee.”