• Published 15th Jun 2021
  • 262 Views, 10 Comments

The Cutie Mark Bureau - Sea Gnash



Magic is dying and cutie marks are starting to become harder to gain, even if a pony normally should have earned it. Surely there's nothing wrong with giving ponies a little magic push to get the rest of the way. Right?

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1. Your New Destiny

~✩~ Chapter 1 ~✩~

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~✩~ Your New Destiny ~✩~

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A giant box of a building, covered by a facade of reflective glass, windows and decorative white stone loomed over Melody. Despite the decorative shrubs and fountains on either side of the pathway that led up to the main entrance, an attempt to make the place feel more welcoming, she could only feel an odd sense of uncomfortable sterility from the government lab. As the doors slid open to let a pony leave, her mind envisioned a large, gaping maw waiting for her to get close enough to bite.

She had to shake off those thoughts just to get herself to trot forward down the gray concrete path. Her eyes passed over the sign above the door, reading the words in silence: Cutie Mark Bureau. Even though she knew they provided a helpful service to ponies who lacked the natural magic to form a cutie mark on their own, something about that overly official name sent a wave of discomfort through her mind. It made her wonder why the service couldn't just be performed at a hospital. At least hospitals needed to put on the air of hospitality. Instead, what she was greeted by upon entering the building's main lobby was a bored receptionist sitting at her desk with nothing to do and a couple ponies with lab coats hurriedly passing through to get to wherever they were needed.

Only one other visitor sat among the waiting room's chairs, and judging by her age, she was a parent of a patient currently going through whatever treatment was performed deeper inside. A momentary urge to start a conversation with the stranger came over Melody, if just to put off speaking to the receptionist a little longer. She didn't know exactly why she was suddenly so nervous when she could hardly sit still on the bus ride over due to the excitement of finally not being a blank flank, but her hoof idly running over her braided mane spoke volumes. She often performed the same action as a filly whenever she got scared. Though she never knew why, it always helped her relax.

Melody forced herself to take a deep breath to push herself forward to the receptionist's desk. Though the sole bespectacled mare was the only one on duty, there were places for two others on either side. She must have come during a break, and that made Melody feel a slight bit thankful once the receptionist looked her way. Three pares of those simultaneously bored, yet icy, eyes might have sent her galloping right out of the building just so she could get somewhere that felt a little less unnaturally quiet and devoid of color. This was, of course, save for the giant recreation of Princess Twilight Sparkle's cutie mark inlaid in the tile floor under her hooves circled by two rings matching the color of her iconic mane stripes.

“Name and birthday.”

The sudden voice of the receptionist shocked Melody out of her daze, eliciting a simple “What?” from her.

The receptionist gave an exasperated sigh, pushing her glasses back up to their proper place in front of her lavender eyes. “I need your name and birthday to confirm your identity since you clearly don't have a cutie mark for that.”

Melody's hoof returned to stroking her braid. “Melody Veil, twenty-sixth day of the growing season, eleven-fifty-two AT.” She watched nervously as the mare across the desk lit up her horn to use her magic to type on her keyboard.

“Yes, we have an appointment for you, miss Veil. Take a seat and a doctor will be with you shortly,” said the receptionist just as flatly as her previous statements.

Melody had wished there wasn't a wait, but she had to resign herself to that unfortunate fate. She gave the receptionist the most simple thanks she could, just to stay polite, before making her way toward the nearest seat in the waiting room. Her eyes drifted towards the mare still sitting by herself, her eyes focused right onto the magazine held in her hooves. Turns out that even a high-tech government facility with connections to the princess herself still couldn't get its waiting rooms stocked with something more modern. Though, knowing the rumors about the princess' obsession with ancient books, that connection might actually be the reason why they're still stuck with paper and ink.

Time passed by much more slowly for Melody as she sat there on her chair. She had taken to counting how many times she stroked at her braid just as a way to keep her mind occupied while passing the arduous minutes. Finally the swinging double doors on the other end of the room pushed open. It was the first sound she heard besides flipping magazine pages since she sat down because the government apparently hates waiting room music.

She felt a small sense of comfort come over her watching the colt the same age as herself excitedly show his mother his brand new cutie mark. She shouldn't have had any doubts after knowing the service had been ongoing for the better portion of a century, but seeing a pony come out of it unharmed by her own eyes helped ease her mind. Her eyes instead turned toward the doctor who looked up from the tablet held aloft in his orange magic corona.

“Melody Veil, I presume?” The chipper tone of voice used by the doctor heavily contrasted everything else in the building and gave Melody that last bit of courage she needed to slip back onto her hooves.

“Yep, that's me,” Melody answered while approaching the doctor.

The middle-aged stallion gave a warm smile in return. “Right this way, then! You may call me Doctor Glow. It's a pleasure to meet you.”

Melody hardly listened to the greeting while following close behind Doctor Glow. Instead, her attention was on the hallway she was being led through. She should have expected it to be just as devoid of decor as the waiting room, but she couldn't help that feeling of unease return to her. She did remember to respond with a little hum, however, just to remain polite.

“Do you have any questions concerning the procedure we will be performing today?” asked Doctor Glow, togging Melody's attention back toward him. “I understand it can be a confusing topic for some ponies.”

Melody actually did have one burning question on her mind her curious wanderings around the infonet didn't entirely answer for her. “Well, I guess, what exactly does it mean when you say you're going to infuse me with magic? Also, is it going to hurt?”

Doctor Glow let a small chuckle go. “Well, I'll answer the simple one first. There might be some discomfort, but I promise it shouldn't hurt much more than that,” he started, pausing just as they reached the double doors at the end of the hallway. Opening them, a room bearing what at first glance resembled a dentist's chair with a plethora of fancy monitors attached came into view. “As for how the process works, you can think of it almost as an I-V drip, only of course with magic rather than blood or a drug. All ponies are born with innate magic in their system, it's what lets unicorns cast spells, pegasi fly and control the weather and gives earth ponies their strength and connection to the soil. Some ponies are simply born with less than others, and that's what we're here for. We can take magic from one pony, myself in this case, and give it to the recipient.”

Melody held a hoof to the side of her head as her mind did all the gymnastics it could to attempt to understand what she had just been told. “But, if you give me your magic, won't you eventually run out?”

Doctor Glow chuckled once again as if he had heard that same question many times before. “The body wants to return to the equilibrium it's used to. I'll eventually regain what I've lost, but that also means you'll slowly lose what I give you.” He appeared to spot her opening her mouth to speak and rose a hoof to stop her. “Luckily, this doesn't mean you'll lose your new cutie mark once that happens. Once the magic in your system is able to focus itself enough to form the mark, it will be able to keep that focus without any outside assistance.”

Melody sighed in relief. She didn't know what she would have done if it turned out she would be making return trips to the building every so often for the rest of her life just to keep her cutie mark.

Doctor Glow gestured to the chair in the center of the room. “Now, if you would please take a seat, we can begin.”

Melody quietly watched Doctor Glow trot through a doorway on the opposite end of the room that quickly got shut behind him. Though she could easily see in through the window between the two rooms, she couldn't get a view of whatever machine he was fiddling with just out of sight under it. She jumped with a start; the monitors connected to the seat nearby all whirred to life at once with various beeps and tones.

Her eyes turned to the doctor who gave a gesture with his hoof to tell her to sit once again. It took another nervous stroke of her braid to get herself calm enough to approach the collection of devices, but she soon did as told and set her rump down on the firm upholstery of the seat that smelled heavily of disinfectant. Once her back pressed against the seat, she watched Doctor Glow fiddle with whatever was in the room with him and the back of the seat lowered until she was laying down completely with not much to look at other than the bottom of the monitors and the ceiling above her.

“Are you comfortable? This will take a while,” came the voice of Doctor Glow from a speaker in the corner of the room.

“I'm fine,” replied Melody. As much as she wanted to say otherwise, she knew he would probably ignore her comments about just how nervous everything around her was making her.

“Alright, then let us begin. You'll feel a small pinch for a moment, but it won't last long. After that, it's just a matter of waiting.”

The doctor's words didn't do much to quell Melody's fears, but she closed her eyes and made some attempt to relax if she would be there for as long as she had been told. The momentary silence was broken by a mechanical buzz and whir she had grown used to after living with an assistant AI in her home. She opened her eyes for just a moment upon feeling something take hold of her left foreleg, though closed it once again when it appeared to be a simple heart monitor cuff. It felt easy to ignore the other wires and cables that stuck to her in various places around her body. At least they're actually being careful. She thought after so much expectation of it being some sort of lab experiment rather than an actual medical procedure.

A silence loomed over the room once more, until a lower pitch whir came from each side of the chair. Melody chose to ignore it and simply remained as relaxed as she could be despite how many wires she was currently connected to. That sense of relaxation swiftly and suddenly blew away like a cloud in a hurricane as a deep, stabbing burn came from both her flanks without warning. Unable to sit up due to the wires, all she could do was scream from the pain of what felt like her bottom half sitting inside a kiln.

“Just hold on a little longer, it will fade in a few moments,” stated Doctor Glow in a much more professional tone of voice compared to the more friendly and familiar one he had been using earlier.

“You said it was just going to be a pinch!” Melody spat back through grit teeth. Even once the pain started to fade like promised, it didn't keep her heart from jackhammering inside her chest from the shock. When no response came, she took deep breaths to cope with the pain.

Once the lightning and fire shooting through her body faded, she allowed her head to rest to the side. Her eyes lazily stared at what had caused her enough pain to make it difficult to just focus her vision. A quartet of mechanical claws gripped at her left flank. The central point of the arm was centered right over where her cutie mark would have been had it formed naturally with those claws splaying out like a twisted metal flower, hiding whatever had given her such a burning. A slow turn of her head confirmed that a second was on her other side as well.

Amid the moment she was mercifully given to rest, a familiar orange glow began to light up the ridges between each segment of the two big arms. Her eyes followed the glowing rings as they traveled down from the hatches in the ceiling they had come down from, finally lighting up lines on the claws. She felt another burning sensation set in, but this one was faint enough that it could be ignored if she just closed her eyes and focused on something else.

She allowed her mind to wander as she laid there with that heat steadily working up her body. Images of returning home with her cutie mark proudly in place washed over her. No more of the misery of being made fun of for still being a blank flank, though heading into college alone probably would have been enough to quell such things.

As she fell deeper into her thoughts, Melody yawned. The chair was actually beginning to grow rather comfortable, enough that she could see herself taking a nap for most of what remained of the procedure. Just before she dozed off completely, however, a faint voice caught her ear and she opened her eyes up just a crack. For some reason, it felt hard to get them to open up any wider.

Through the window on the other side of the room, she could see a nurse speaking with Doctor Glow. Their voices were faint, but a crack in the door that hadn't been shut completely allowed her to just barely make out their words.

“Just a few more minutes. You know earth ponies tend to be more naturally resistant to the stuff,” said the nurse matter-of-factly. Melody could make out her reddish-brown mane and pristine white coat, but all other details were unable to be made out as her vision blurred from whatever they had given her.

“Good. Let's just hope this goes smoothly. There's another patient coming in after her and the last thing we need is a rejection causing a giant mess for us to clean up,” replied Doctor Glow in that same blunted tone she had heard when receiving instructions, though it somehow felt even more cold.

“Don't worry, we should have a perfect match for her magic signatures. Risk of rejection is basically zero.”

Melody strained to hear anything further, but the world faded out from around her. The last thing she heard was that door opening again before everything fell to black.

* * *

Melody giggled excitedly as she used her wings to soar through the air, passing over the buildings that had always loomed over her like sentinels for as long as she could remember. She let out a loud cheer of excitement from finally being able to lift off the ground higher than just a few feet for the first time during her practice. She could see her parents' apartment building come back into view and changed course right for it. As much as she knew she wanted to keep flying and enjoying that wonderful view of the moon high up in the sky, she also knew she would get in trouble if her father found out she had left without permission.

A few wisps of hair in two different shades of pink fell from her mane once she returned to the ground. She brought up a white hoof to get everything back into place and smooth it all out in an attempt at hiding the telltale windswept look that came from flight. With quiet steps, she pulled open the door leading to the stairwell that could take her back to her family's penthouse apartment. She silently peeked down to the stairs and let a sigh of relief escape once it became obvious her parents were still in bed.

“Have fun on your little flight?” asked a familiar voice.

Melody had to turn her head all the way to the right in order to see the lavender pony with a similar mane to her own, though the darker pink was replaced with a navy blue instead. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. A chuckle that came from the older filly helped put her at ease.

“Don't worry, sis, I won't tell them. I think it's unfair how they treat you just because of that eye of yours,” her sister stated while climbing the stairs to get up to her. A lavender hoof carefully brushed the mane hiding her right eye from view out of the way with a concerned frown. “Though, it's getting worse, isn't it?”

Melody felt her heart kick up into her throat and she instinctively pushed the hoof away to let her mane fall back into place. She didn't respond to the question, only feeling the pressure of tears welling up in the corners of her eyes.

Her sister took a step back with a frown now decorating her face as well. “Oh, right, you don't want attention brought to it. Uhm, let's just get to bed before mom and dad wake up and spot us. I'll let you have one of my cinnamon rolls tomorrow at breakfast.”

* * *

Melody cracked her eyes open with a soft groan. Though her mind was stirring, her body felt like it was made of solid lead. As her vision cleared and focused, she could tell she was still in the procedure room, though luckily the heat that had been filling her before was nowhere to be felt. A few more minutes also allowed her to feel the lack of the many wires that had been grasping onto her, the big ones around her flanks most importantly of all.

A chuckle pulled her attention to her left where her eyes focused on the smiling face of Doctor Glow, the nurse from before nowhere to be seen. “Welcome back to the world of the waking, Melody! The procedure was a rousing success and I think you'll be happy with the results!”

It took her groggy mind a few ticks of the clock to register what Doctor Glow had meant, but she sat up as swiftly as her heavy body would allow to get an easier view of her own flank. Where once was an empty patch of pink fur, a cutie mark in the shape of a red heart with an accompanying yellow moon sat proudly. She felt a wave of excitement course through her at the sight, but it was quickly quashed by a much different emotion. Her eyes stared at the mark as she tried to make any sense out of it. Eventually, she turned back to Doctor Glow to ask one simple question: “What does it mean?”

Doctor Glow picked up his tablet in his magic corona and gave it a quick glance. “We believe it's for caretaking. You must be very good with taking care of others to get a cutie mark such as that one!”

Melody only felt even more confused after the explanation. Taking care of ponies was her destiny? She could hardly take care of herself properly, let alone somepony else. There were countless questions now rolling through her head, but none of them could actually get out of her mouth before she was helped off the table and ushered towards the door by Doctor Glow.

“You might feel a little sore for the next day or so, but that's the extra magic running through your system that your body isn't used to. They'll fade as it dissipates,” explained Doctor Glow while leading her back to the waiting room where another pony sat to wait their turn.

Melody didn't respond to the words, or the cheerful goodbye given to her as she made her way for the door. She had far too much on her mind to bother with such pleasantries and all she knew is that she wanted to get out of that sterile building as quickly as possible. Maybe she'll be more excited to finally have her cutie mark once whatever drugs they used on her wore off completely. One final thought came across her mind as the glass doors slid shut behind her and she stared up at the skyline. What was with that dream?

Comments ( 10 )

looks interesting, might read it later when there are a few more chapters.

Interesting start! we need more!

Melody's hoof returned to stroking her braid. “Melody Veil, twenty-sixth day of the growing season, eleven-fifty-two AT.” She watched nervously as the mare across the desk lit up her horn to use her magic to type on her keyboard.

I like this bit of detail. You could have gone for real world months, and instead went for this.

This is a really cool concept, and I'm looking forward to seeing where you take it.

10862214
Thank you! It’s a little headcanon I’ve had with me for the longest time. The ponies control the seasons and we only ever hear the word “month” said once through the whole series, so I figured the four seasons were just more important for them to base their calendar on. :twilightsmile:

This is very intriguing! Especially considering what we've seen from FiM canon when cutie marks are swapped or removed. This only begs the question; what happens if you just give somepony a cutie mark?
I think this is a great start; the summary draws my attention , Melody Veil already feels somewhat relatable and not too out of character. The world building is written simply so far , but I feel like it's still a good start and will hopefully keep up the pace (✿^‿^) Sometimes short and simple are sweet.
I look forward to reading how this plays out!

As for that last part...
I'm wondering if parts of Melody's life were changed , or her memories , in order to match the cutie mark she was given? It's pretty suspicious when the "professionals" can't even tell you what your mark is supposed to mean and such. Also from their conversation it sounds like they're trying to cover something up. Something huge. What roll does Twilight play , and how big a roll? Does she even know what's going on?

Just some thoughts. =D

This is really interesting so far, and I look forward to more! :D

Finally got around to reading this! :pinkiehappy:
And I have to say I'm intrigued! The premise of the story is quite a thought. I'm excited about where you go with it!
Have to say I like the birthday thing you used, but I have to ask, what's AT? I feel its, "after," something. Regardless, look forward to the next chapter!:pinkiehappy:

10871159
AT stands for "After Twilight,' like our BCE and CE modes of keeping years. :twilightsmile:

10871245
Ah that makes sense. Though, 1152 years after Twilight. o_O That's quite a long time. Well, maybe not for an alicorn. :twilightsmile:

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