• Published 2nd Jan 2021
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Retcon - Beige Monkfish



A pony with no memory awakens in a strange facility.

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Chapter Twenty-Seven - Paper

ογʹριϛʹλβʹριϛʹριθʹρεʹριϛʹϙθʹρδʹραʹρʹμδʹλβʹογʹλβʹριϛʹρδʹρεʹριʹρζʹλβʹρεʹριϛʹλθʹριεʹλβʹριεʹριϛʹρεʹρηʹρηʹλβʹϙζʹρηʹρεʹριηʹραʹμϛʹ

“This is your secrecy agreement,” said Sky, placing some papers on the desk between them. “Take it with you, read it, sign it.”

Retcon flipped open the stack, frowning at the five pages of solid text.

"Confidential Information" means any information disclosed by either party to the other party, either directly or indirectly, in writing, orally or by inspection of tangible objects, including without limitation documents, prototypes…

“Do I have to read this?” she asked, overwhelmed.

Sky’s expression didn’t change. “You should. Don’t sign things unless you understand what you’re signing.”

Retcon nodded slowly, glancing back down at the impenetrable document. ‘Sign’ it? Must be a weird pony thing I need to learn. Just go with it I guess.

“Ask one of the others to go through it with you if you need. As a précis, this is your agreement to maintain the Institute’s secrecy. The existence of the R.I.I is a state secret. You will be required to keep it. Not many outsiders are privy, and it will stay this way. Understood?”

“Right.” Retcon nodded with more certainty. “I can do that. …What should I do if somepony asks where I’m from?”

Sky shrugged. “I don’t care. As long as you don’t speak of us, you can say what you like.” She paused for a moment, glancing to one side. “As I said before, I recommend you don’t mention your heritage. However you frame it is your choice.”

“Okay…” Hmm, a pegasus who hit their head, maybe?

Sky levitated another stack of papers onto the pile. “You don’t need to read these,” she said as Retcon’s face paled. “These are your legal documents. I’m not aware of a precedent for this sort of thing, so we have made you a ward of the state. It doesn’t mention that you are a changeling, and any digging will lead to the Institute, so these papers are all above board and sanctioned by the Crown. Shower has filled these out for you, either she or I will be contacted in the eventuality that your paperwork is traced or if you get yourself into trouble.” She gave a half-lidded look. “Don’t get yourself into trouble.”

Retcon gulped. “I won’t.”

“There is more you need to learn about pony society, however with your legal standing now in place, you may do better to learn as you experience, and ask your host should you need clarity.”

“Host?”

Sky’s scowl lightened as she drew a lengthy breath. “We have found for you a residence. Small rural town, and a few Institute members live locally. I believe I mentioned the place. Problem is, the residency will not be empty until the next waning- until next month. If this location is agreeable to you, you may either stay here as you have done until the building is available, or you can leave sooner, perhaps within the next few days, and stay as a guest in the house of one of our agents.”

Retcon’s eyes widened. “Wha- Who?”

“I will let you know as soon as they agree,” Sky said impassively.

If it’s… No, I think Lemony said she lives in Canterlot, and Canterlot isn’t a small town. She frowned. But then who? Shower? Not Sky I hope, sounds like it’s not.

“Would that be preferable?”

“To leave sooner?” asked Retcon. She was almost too nervous to take it. “Yes.”

“Good, I thought you might.” Sky tapped the pile of papers with the side of a levitating pencil. “You’ll be granted a stipend from the Crown for one year from your egress. This will allow you to pay your way until you have secured employment. I’ve also included a standard bounty for your assistance in Canterlot. You’re welcome.”

“Right.” Retcon blinked. I think- That’s money, right? I think I know how that works.

“And on that note,” Sky lifted a sheet of paper from within a file to her side.

There was a whisper of a smokier emotion, like the smell of a candle.

Sky drew her head up, her stormy eyes alive, as she passed the paper over to her. “For your consideration.”

Retcon glanced at it, confused. It was another form. “What’s this?”

“Job application,” the unicorn responded. “We could use someone of your talents. Think about it, at least.”

“To… To work here?” Retcon asks, staring at the paper.

Sky shrugged and sniffed. The emotion was gone. “One final thing; while the nature of your species is unfortunate, it is not immoral to ensure your own survival. You will be going out into our world, and you won’t find volunteers the way we were able to arrange here.” Her deep green eyes appeared to glow. “Live as you may, but do so with consideration. Take what you need, and repay what you can. One thing I have learnt in my many years is that a herd species may be individually placid and adverse to confrontation, but if you wrong them you will find their retribution irresistible. I bid you, take care.”


After leaving Sky’s office, Retcon had visited the consciousness in the orb and updated it on the more recent developments. She enjoyed talking with the orb, certainly more so than she liked talking with Sky. It felt like less of a duel compared to talking with most other ponies. She felt she could be herself more easily. As she left, she bid the consciousness a fond farewell in case they never spoke again, unsure of when she might leave.

It was as she closed the great metal door behind her that the next metal door along swung open. Out stepped Gurney, an empty bucket looped over one wing, and a distant look on his face.

He spotted her as he closed the door behind him. “Oh, hey. Sky called you?”

“Just been,” she replied. “I got lots of papers.” She gestured to the satchel Gurney had given her.

“Ah.” He paused, appearing uncertain. “Yeah…”

“You okay?”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah. It’s just, uhh…” He scratched the back of his neck. “The kelpie wants to talk to you.”

Retcon blinked. “Huh?”

He gestured with his free wing back towards the door. “The kelpie, she…” Trailing off, he sighed. “I dunno.”

“What is it?”

Gurney looked her right in the eye. “You haven’t spoken with her before, have you?”

Retcon shook her head mutely.

The griffon massaged his brow with a claw, grunting in acknowledgement.

“…Why, what’s happened?”

“She… she said she wants to talk with the changeling.”

Retcon gave the door behind him a wary side glance. How…

“I asked what she meant,” continued Gurney, “and she described how you look now.”

“I-I… Um, okay, I looked through the window once, and she saw me looking, but that was it! I haven’t been back since. How does she know?”

“I dunno, maybe some kind of kelpie-vision.” Gurney tapped a talon roughly against the ground. “First I’ve heard of it. We’ve had her here for, what… four years now? We captured her from a stream in Whitetail Woods after she got her teeth into two ponies.”

“What should… Should I go talk?” she asked in a small voice.

Gurney scowled off into the distance. “…No. No I don’t think so. Schlechte Idee.” After a moment, he shook his head and addressed Retcon. “Stay here. I’ll be right back. Do not open the viewing hatch, alright?”

She nodded. “Understood.”

“Alright.” He nodded to himself, and started off down the hallway.


“Oh, hi Retcon!” called Sparkler, shaking the changeling from her thoughts. Glancing up, the unicorn was trotting alongside Gurney, who had divested himself of the bucket. She shot him a side glance. “So what’s this about?”

Gurney’s brow was furrowed. He took a moment to respond. “How quickly can you cast a teleportation spell?”

Sparkler’s eyes narrowed. “Why?” she asked, looking at Retcon.

The griffon sighed. “Because… I want to see if it’s feasible to safely allow Retcon here to talk with the kelpie.”

“You what!?” Sparkler’s eyes flashed dangerously.

Retcon raised a forelimb into the air. “Uhh, I didn’t agree to this yet.”

“Gurney, what the heck are you thinking?”

“Alright! Alright, I get it!” he said, gesturing placatingly with his claws. “Retcon’s not doing anything if she doesn’t want to.” He shot her a glance. “I’m sorry if I put you on the spot.” Back to Sparkler. “I’m just asking to see if it’s possible first.”

Sparkler raised a sharp eyebrow. “Explain.”

“Look… The kelpie wants to speak with Retcon. Yeah, I know,” he quickly added in response to the unicorn’s expression. “Point is she’s been getting increasingly difficult recently, and… she asked for a trade. If we let her speak with Retcon, somehow she knows she’s a changeling, then she’ll tell us where we can find the Unseelie Court.”

Sparkler’s expression slackened. “Oh.”

Retcon glanced between them. “What’s that?”

“Well…” Sparkler took a breath to collect herself. “Of the fae beings, which are creatures of wilder magic, they can generally be categorised into the Seelie Court, who are generally more kind-hearted, if mischievous and still potentially dangerous; and the Unseelie Court, creatures of malice.” She rubbed the side of her nose. “This isn’t really common knowledge, it’s a subject the Institute is interested in investigating. The ‘Courts’ themselves are allegedly the gathering places of these co-aligned creatures. This is distinct from unaligned fae such as the aes sídhe, who are more morally ambiguous.”

Retcon looked at Gurney.

“The Unseelie are mean fairies,” he said.

“And the kelpies are mean fairies?” Retcon asked.

“Basically.”

“Okay. And if you can find the Court?”

“We can tell the mean fairies to knock it off.”

Sparkler grumbled under her breath.

“Hmm.” I just have to talk with her? “Sparkler?”

The unicorn nodded absently. “…Yes. I can teleport you out of there if little miss bitey attacks. With the spell prepared before you go in, I’ll drain my mana for as long as I hold it so please don’t be too long, but… I’ll be able to retrieve you within a second.” She blinked, annoyed. “Oh listen to me, volunteering you to go.”

“This ‘Court’ information is important, right? And, I’ll be safe?”

“I know I started this, but you don’t have to go,” Gurney said gently.

“I know, I get it.” She turned towards the door. “It’s just… why does she… I want to know what she has to say, I guess. And if… Will she really say if I talk with her?”

The others nodded. “The Unseelie can’t lie,” said Gurney. “It’s part of the folklore, they’re dealmakers. For as long as we’ve had her here, she’s has never once been able to lie. It’s one of the first things I tested for after solving her diet to see if it’s true. No matter how many times I asked, she always called the banana a banana.” He shook his head lightly. “I suppose it could be a trick, it’s just… I don’t think she’s bright enough to arrange that.”

“Alright.” Retcon hummed to herself. “What do you think?”

Sparkler and Gurney shot each other a glance. The unicorn rubbed the back of her neck. “Umm, well…”

“Do you think it’ll work?”

“…Yes,” Sparkler eventually said. “Yes. You go in, you talk. If you want out, or if the kelpie gets aggressive, I can teleport you out immediately. I can watch through the hatch, I’ll listen in with a spell too, and you can raise a wing to say you want to leave. …Yes, I think it’d work.”

Retcon nodded absently. With a flash of green flames around her forehead where her horn should be, she carefully lifted her satchel over her head. “Could one of you hold this?”

Author's Note:

🍌 y/w/oB-NnVpvQ78