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

Retcon - Beige Monkfish

A pony with no memory awakens in a strange facility.

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Epilogue Three - Alone

The door swung shut behind her, blocking out the lively sounds from outside.

Retcon couldn’t help but stand in place for a minute, soaking in the coolness and stillness of the house. The bright late-morning sunshine beamed in from the windows into the spartan hallway. It smelled warmly of freshly-worked wood. There were no decorations, none of the pictures or lamps, pot plants or rugs of Bon Bon and Lyra’s more lived-in home, but for now a bed in one room was all she needed.

It was like the entire building was a blank page, for her to change as she wished; a thought as liberating as it was daunting.

She placed the keys on the floor by the door, making a mental note to get a sideboard at some point. She also pulled Gurney’s old satchel over her head, leaning it up against a wall. Inside were her books and papers. Up until now, that satchel had contained everything she owned. Now she had somewhere to keep it.

She drew a deep, fresh breath of air, then trotted absently across the wooden floorboards, soon finding herself in the kitchen. There was no oven, nor a fridge, though the pantry should suffice. The living room had a fireplace, should she need to heat anything. She could easily make do. The kitchen table had a bowl on top of it. Bon Bon had called it a fruit bowl. Retcon resolved to get some fruit at some point.

She stepped up to the sink in the worktop, leaning against it in thought. The wall behind it was blank. Perhaps a good place to hang a mirror?

Absently, she reached over with a hoof and twisted the faucet. A steady stream of cold water ran down into the sink, swirling down the plug hole. Retcon held the edge of her hoof against the stream, watching as the water curved around it.

The full-height bedroom mirror on the wardrobe turned out to be particularly ideal in the house of a changeling. Retcon had only bought it because she had seen Bon Bon owned one and thought it seemed a homely thing to have, missing her old wall mirror from the Institute. In occasional bouts of paranoia, Retcon found herself seeking out mirrors to check that she still looked how she expected.

Having become more comfortable in her new hometown and now finally alone in her own house, she had started to feel more curious about her abilities. Emboldened by a few test-shifts of her eye colour, she had bought a small collection of magazines and newspapers from a paper stand in the market. With her curtains drawn tightly shut, and Gurney’s charcoal sketch of her regular pegasus form taped to the side of her mirror, she had the papers spread out over her bed, lying open at random pages.

She twisted her head from side to side, inspecting the stranger’s face in the mirror. It was the form of an orange unicorn with an unkempt white mane and tail, and green eyes. Retcon was delighted with having got the eyes right, at least as best as she could tell by the tiny picture in the magazine. She couldn’t find the mare’s name, having only appeared in the background of a photo. The form felt strange in subtle ways, being slightly shorter than her usual self, though after having taken the form of a changeling, Retcon didn’t find the strangeness particularly uncomfortable.

“Hello,” she said aloud to the reflection. It was her regular voice. It seemed she was able to easily mimic the voice of any pony she had heard, even achieving an eerily close approximation of Gurney on her first try. Going by memory, she had taken the form of Shower and was surprised by the ease with which her voice changed to match how the pegasus sounded. However, when she took the forms of ponies from pictures, she had no voice to copy.

“Hello,” she repeated, this time with the slightly lower register of Shower. “Hello”, as Bon Bon. “Hello,” from Lyra. Didn’t really fit. She switched to Sky, “Hello. Blah blah blah, I’m grumpy,” then blew a raspberry at the mirror. Retcon chuckled, a strange sound to hear coming from Sky’s voice.

With a burst of green fire, she switched back to her regular form. After lifting her wings, turning her head and checking her teeth and eyes, she was satisfied she had successfully changed back. She had adopted the slightly longer and spikier mane and tail from Gurney’s sketches into her usual look. The switch barely took a thought now, with her pegasus form well-ingrained into her mind. Perhaps it was a good thing she had decided to practice.

Turned back to the bed, she flipped over a different magazine. On the front cover was a white-coated unicorn with a vibrant and spiky blue mane and purple glasses, operating some sort of machinery. Retcon couldn’t tell what was going on, perhaps the mare was a smith? The magazine was titled “METAL” after all.

She cast her eyes over the image, drawing in the details. She couldn’t tell the mare’s eye colour, and so imagined the purple shade of the glasses. With a pull of her magic, she felt herself shift, taking the unicorn’s form.

Turned back to the mirror, the white unicorn from the magazine looked back, inspecting her in turn. The mane was slightly off, she thought. The shape was difficult to picture and she hadn’t gotten the blue quite right. Plus, the eyes were a total guess. Other than that, it wasn’t a bad attempt.

“Hi. My name’s Metal Mare and my voice fits really well,” she announced in Lemony’s gentle tone, then cackled.

Knock knock knock.

Retcon nearly jumped out of the unicorn’s skin, wheeling to look out of her room towards the stairway. Someone was at the door.

Could they… No they couldn’t have seen. The curtains in her room were still shut, and she had already checked for gaps. Calm down. It’s just a neighbour. Go say hi. It’ll be fine.

She quickly shifted back to her normal form, giving herself one more once-over for mistakes. Happy, she hurried down the stairs and opened the front door.

“Oh, hi!” said Princess Twilight Sparkle, smiling and wearing a top hat.

Retcon’s pupils shrank to pinpricks. “Princess! I- Uhh-” Oh no, do I bow?

The Princess waved her off. “Please, just call me Twilight.”

“O-Okay.” She noticed a small figure riding the Princess’s back. Spike, the small dragon she had spotted around town typically following in the Princess’ wake. He was currently sporting a similar smaller top hat, as well as a huge bushy moustache. It was perhaps supposed to be comical, but seeing the dragon up close reminded her of…

“I mean it. Unless we could’ve got clearance to let the new Princess know we exist so that we could recruit her baby dragon, which would also be a paperwork nightmare for more reasons than I can count, we would have had a whole neighbourhood in Canterlot in 24-hour quarantine for at least the next few days.”

…and by association, the moustache set her on edge…

She cleared her throat and tried her best to look and sound polite. “How can I help you, Twilight?”

“Oh, well we were just passing by, and-”

“Fluttershy’s hosting a fancy-dress tea party!” proclaimed Spike. “We’re going as high-class gentlestallions!” Jumping to his feet on the alicorn’s back, he removed his top hat and, holding to his chest, bowed deeply. “Madame.”

Twilight rolled her eyes good-naturedly. Levitating her own top hat, she mimicked Spike’s actions, bowing her head as well. “How do you do,” she said, putting on a slight accent. Spike yelped as Twilight ducked her head, managing not to fall forward.

Retcon blinked as the Princess bowed to her. “Uh, hi,” she replied meekly, unable to contain a grin at the absurdity.

“Though,” Spike scratched the side of his head with a sharp claw, holding his top hat by his side, “I didn’t think Fluttershy liked fancy-dress parties.”

Twilight levitated her top hat back onto her head, over her horn. She turned to look back at him. “Hey Spike, I’m just gonna have a quick chat, do you want to head on without me?”

“Ohh, but Twiii,” he bemoaned dramatically, “my legs are indeed so small, and I only have but two of them!”

With a flash of magenta magic, a couple of coins appeared in front of Twilight. She levitated them over to Spike. “Go grab us some donuts, okay? I’ll have chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles. Extra chocolatey chips.”

Spike grabbed the coins and jumped to the ground. “Done! See you there!” With that, he bolted off faster than Retcon had thought he could go. Twilight shook her head as she watched, chuckling under her breath.

“Chocolate donuts?” Retcon ventured. “Very princessy.” She almost winced as she said it.

Twilight nodded with a half-lidded ‘serious’ look. “Oh yeah, I’m all about being princessy.” She laughed, and Retcon joined in, relieved the metaphoric ice had been broken.

“Anyway,” Twilight continued, “I just wanted to say welcome to Ponyville!” She extended a forehoof. “Retcon, wasn’t it?”

Retcon bumped the hoof. “Yes, Retcon. Thanks, nice to meet you!”

Twilight smiled brightly. “I notice you’ve only moved in recently, but I’ve seen you around before. Were you just visiting then?”

Retcon’s ear flicked at the faint sound of buzzing. “I was just staying with some friends, Bon Bon and Lyra,” she replied with a pleasant smile. “They were kind to let me stay in their spare room for a bit.” She placed a hoof on the front door, “The house wasn’t ready to move in just yet. I’ve only lived here two days. Still getting used to it.”

“Ah yes, Lyra mentioned you. You’re also friends with Amethyst, right?”

Amethyst… Oh, Amethyst Star, that’s Sparkler! “Yes, we’ve uh,” why does she go by a different name outside of the Institute… “we’ve worked together briefly.”

Twilight nodded. “So, how’re you fitting in? What brings you to Ponyville?”

“Oh, quite well, thank you!” Retcon smiled. “I just needed a change of pace, a fresh start. Amethyst Star suggested Ponyville, so I came by to check it out. It pretty wonderful here!”

“Isn’t it?” Twilight agreed emphatically. “I’m originally from Canterlot. Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown, but Ponyville is just…” She glanced up at the clear blue sky. “It’s nice. That’s the perfect word. And I don’t normally like the word ‘nice’ when there are more descriptive adjectives you could use, but… there aren’t any other words as gentle and succinct. Very different to Canterlot.”

Retcon scanned the sky as well. It was a lovely day. “You’re right. Ponyville sure is nice.”

“So where’re you from?”

“Oh, I’m from Witherby. It’s a small town, probably smaller than Ponyville.”

The buzzing…

…y’s horn had been glowing a light meadow-green since whe…

…ource of the very subtle buzzing she could hear in the background.

“Witherby?” Twilight hummed. “I don’t think I’ve ever been.”

“Oh, it’s way off to the West,” Retcon shrugged. “Not many ponies have heard of it.

“Before the Smokey Mountains?”


“Ah, must’ve been quite the journey!”

Retcon inclined her head. “I didn’t walk the whole way, of course! I took the train from Sire’s Hollow.”

“Sire’s Hollow, huh… Alright.”

“Do you…” Retcon drew a steadying breath. “You run the Ponyville library, right?”

Twilight smiled. “That’s right! Golden Oak Library, you can’t miss it!”

“How does that work with, y’know, being all princessy?” Retcon’s eyes widened. “Oh, that’s not rude, is it?”

Twilight laughed. “No, not at all! I keep the library open because I enjoy it! Besides, I’m a bit of a bookworm. If I can help ponies find the books they need, then all the better! Feel free to stop by if you ever need anything.”

“I will, thanks!”

“Well, the princess stuff is… kinda new, you know?” Twilight glanced off to the side briefly, her face flushing. “It’s really weird when ponies I’ve never met know who I am. I mean, ponies are usually pretty nice about it, but I kinda miss being able to blend in with the crowd.”

Retcon nodded sympathetically, but said nothing.

“Anyway, Celestia says I’m ready for it, so… I guess being ready and feeling ready are two different things. Heh, at least I don’t have to sit in on all the meetings on legislature! I still have some reading I’d like to get through first. Have you ever met Celestia?”

“No, I’ve never had the chance,” replied Retcon, shaking her head.

Twilight beamed. “Well hey, perhaps I could let you know next time she’s in town! I’m sure she’d love to meet you!”

Retcon gasped, covering her mouth with a hoof. “No way!”

Twilight chuckled. Allowing the moment to lapse into a comfortable silence, she gave Retcon a small, genuine smile. “Thanks for treating me like a normal pony, Retcon. So many ponies get all stuffy when they have to talk with ‘the Princess’. It’s been good to talk with you.”

Retcon grinned back. “You too Twilight! Thanks for… y’know, being cool.”

“Ha ha!” Pulling a serene, noble expression, Twilight lifted a forehoof to her chest. “Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Cool.” The two mares giggled, then Twilight removed her top hat with her magic and inclined her head. “Pleasure to meet you, Retcon.”

“Oh!” Stepping inwards with her right legs and bending her left, Retcon gave a small, awkward curtsey. “My Princess!”

Twilight snort-laughed, and placed her top hat back on her head, just behind her horn. “Don’t do that,” she chortled. “See you around! If you ever need me, you know where to find me.”

“You got it. Later, Twilight!”

Twilight waved as she trotted away, and Retcon waved back until the alicorn was out of view.

Retcon stepped back inside, shutting the door. With a flicker of green flame around her forehead, she lifted her house keys up off of the floor and jammed one into the door lock, turning it with an urgent click. Her expression fell as the icy claw of dread clutched at her heart.

She knows.

Author's Note:

To be concluded on the 17th