• Published 21st Mar 2024
  • 1,112 Views, 26 Comments

Saved!!! - ArchoPony

A human fell through one of Midnight's portals; and now he's in a 7,000 foot free fall while slowing transforming into a horse.

  • ...

4 - Introductions

“ It's just that, It's sometimes hard to understand you when you talk about certain things - or make certain points without displaying any emotion. “ Twilight said, as she was showing Ponder around the castle.

She had learned from Starlight; and this time there could be no accidental room openings.
Hence, this tour.

It had been almost a day since he joined her and Starlight in the castle, and yet, he barely left his room. He went outside, but only for ~15 minutes at a time and only at sunrise and sunset. She had her concerns, but they were minor. She zoned back in to catch Ponder's response:

“ But I only show emotions for one thing: how I feel about the situation. “ Ponder replied, entirely missing the point.
“ Besides, wouldn't having only possible meaning to such a complex thing make it simpler? “
His point was technically correct, as if he was talking to a perfect machine.
He knocked on a door they were standing near as he finished his sentence.

After around 3 seconds of no response he unlocked an opened the door. Twilight felt relief that he at least knew basic manners and how to use them.
In the moment, she was more worried about how him and Starlight would meet, but those fears would soon be rendered irrelevant as Starlight was already in the library.

“ Oh! “ Starlight was startled. She didn't hear the knock, or just wasn't paying attention.
Twilight was at a standstill. She didn't know what to do. Not exactly the best option for two ponies till in ' friendship kindergarten ' or so she thought.

“ Your the other pony that Twilight mentioned. “ Ponder had responded.

They both stared at each other for an uncomfortably long period of time, Starlight because of her lasting uneasiness and Ponder because autism. The deadlock became apparent to all parties involved.
It was so long, Twilight almost spoke up.

“ So, your new here? Twilight asked about letting you stay here yesterday. “ Starlight felt obligated to say with a forced smile.
“ Yes. “ Ponder responded.
Both were happy that they were speaking to each other, even with such smallest of talks.

“ Well that's the library! “ Twilight said in a rush.
“ I ought to show him the rest of the castle; learning from you! “ She said facing starlight.
She closed the door.

Twilight didn't exactly know why she had rushed the goodbye. She forgot about that introspection as a sense of ease overcame her as she checked another room off her checklist.

Ponder had wondered: Did she rush this? Did she not want us to meet? Nah. Couldn't be. Us two are literally living together, in a medieval court kind of sense.

Twilight, of course, had not even come close to any of these realizations. She had been operating on autopilot. She didn't want to make a mistake. Not now while both of those ponies were in their ' fragile cocoon stage of friendship '.

While they were walking Ponder realized he had not yet confirmed one of his earlier suspicions; and he was not about to let another being speak for his savoir, so he had to ask:

“ Twilight, the thing your trying to teach is friendship, correct? “
Twilight immediately forgot about the earlier nervousness she was feeling to hold back a little laughter.
“ Yes. You didn't get that from our time together? “
“ Well, no. Not for certain. “

“ Celestia said 'magic' of friendship which could mean regular friendship, or the firing of the rainbows thing. “
Twilight giggled. She never had thought about it that way, being in mortal combat every time she had to use them.
She let him continue.
“ And the friendship lesson's original plan according to Fluttershy was to just make me … feel better? Right? “

She was surprised at his frankness. Though, she had already seen both sides of Starlight's personality, maybe this was just the other end of his.

“ Yes. “, “ Friendship definitely comes first.“
“ The real magic of friendship comes first; Learning how good it is to have friends. “
He responded in a very guarded manner:
“ Well, I don't mean to be rude or ungrateful in any way but... “

Twilight was waiting for a response.
“ I tried friendship many times and it was a total disaster. “

Twilight immediately stopped. Ponder took notice and took a guarded stance, to match his earlier tone. Both ponies eyes shrunk, but Ponders were truly tiny.
Twilight had noticed the tension, and tried to soften it, but at this point she was already basically twilight-ing over the previous statement.

“ Uhm, … You tried it multiple times … And every one was a failure? “ She asked, failing to force a smile.
Ponder only stared back, eyes completely open, unblinking.

Twilight had never encountered this response before. She didn't know what to do. The closest thing she'd seen is from one of the older royal guardsmen.
This was also not doing her mental state any favors. She kept thinking about how it would even be possible for anypony to even say that, and moreover react in such a way.

A few seconds passed.

PonderBright's expression instantly softened as if a switch was flipped, now to a more worried look, and he seemed to be a bit more approachable.
Ponder had figured, if he's going to get the full might of a higher authority brought down upon him, it might as well be Twilight.
' This was apparently his form of a social peace offering ' Twilight was thinking.
He answered her question:

“ Yes. They either ended in them drifting away, or some form of betrayal. “ He rushed a response.
“ A bad investment at best, and a -“ His expression turned sour. “ Security risk at worst. “

Twilight was relieved. She didn't show it, however. She still had some twilight-ing to do quietly in her room, and it did show.

“ I'm, so sorry your former friendships turned out that way. “ She said, mostly to comfort him. He wasn't having it. Not because she didn't try or wasn't genuine, but because he was particularly zealous about not making decisions with his emotions.

“ It's fine “ He returned to his usual monotone, the threat of retribution for pointing out a flaw in his superior all but gone.
“ It's mostly a done deal for me, at least when were talking about what I can accomplish. “

Twilight looked confused. Ponder explained further.

“ I've done friendship many times, I already know how it ends for me if I try to do it again without changing anything; statistically speaking. “

Ponder realized something, though the realization was off topic.
“ Oh, sorry. I got ahead of myself. With your level of technology you probably don't know what ' statistically ' is. “

Twilight saw a path to shoehorn a friendship lesson in, and by celestia she took it.

“ Oh I'm well aware of statistics. “ She replied. Ponder looked shocked.
“ Probabilities, Z-scores, tripple-blind studies and standard deviations. “ Twilight was trying hard to make a point, but Ponder was not quite getting it just yet.

“ So maybe you'll be willing to be learn about friendship in the same way you just learned about us and statistics. “, “ There's new perspectives and knowledge just about anywhere, and I think it would be a shame if you just gave up on all of it. “

Ponder still looked shocked, but out of amazement rather then confoundment. Twilight, to spite her much greater experience in friendship, did not notice this.

“ Oh. Uh. Maybe that's a little too much for right now? “ She asked.

“ Oh, no! I'm sorry for assuming! “ Ponder said. He further spurted out words to further curb miscommunication: “ I got that all wrong. And maybe for friendship too, … though given my sample size I'm much more confident in that assertion. “

In rushing to snuff out any incorrect words or assumptions, he had accidentally took a slightly cocky and assertive tone. ' Whoops. Another drop in the ocean, I guess ' Ponder thought. Hopefully she won't be too mad -

“ Well then I guess we'll have to provide you with even more good ones. Friendships, that is. “
She said with confidence.
“ To tip that scale back in the right direction, or the mean of that data back towards where it should be. “
“ Statistically speaking. “

PonderBright had no words. Her logic was sound, snarky remark at the end or not. This was not the world he knew, and he was literally an alien. He was just so used to Earth, that the massive difference in location, culture and other differences hadn't been mentally processed yet.

Or maybe he was intentionally putting that realization off.

Who knew.

He certainly didn't.

“ Oh yeah. Certainty. I didn't mean to say I wanted to call it quits before I even began. “ He corrected himself.
“ I'm down for basically anything. I'm a big enough, … pony to admit that I know nothing about nothing here. Equestria, that is. “

They both shared a genuine smile for the first time, as Twilight finished showing Ponder around.
“ You know, I think I know how to revise your friendship plan. “ Twilight said as they came back to the massive entryway.
“ Oh? Is there a standard procedure or something? “ Ponder tried to make a joke.

“ Ah, no. “ Twilight responded. She had a slight smile to let Ponder know that the attempt was appreciated.
“ But I am fairly certain I know anyway. You remember Applejack? “
“ Sure. We saw each other around, helped each other a few times, in fact. “

They traded a few more meaningless words until Twilight asked:
“ You know honesty is kind of her thing, right? “
“ I guess? Yeah. I think that makes sense. Never heard her lie back in Canterlot. “

Twilight had assumed correctly that their human counterparts had little knowledge about their elements and what they represent.

“ Well, I'll have you talk to her next, If that's alright. “

Ponder agreed with a nod.

“ There's some... not so easy things you need to hear now that you're feeling better, and in a state to hear them. “ She had not been looking forward to saying this.
“ There was lasting damage, and some things that can not be undone. “

' There was no going around that, so might as well go through it ' Ponder thought to himself as she finished her sentence.

“ Yeah. I think so too. “ Ponder said.
Ponder looked around, as if Appplejack was living there as well.

“ Tomorrow. “ Twilight clarified. She was not used to anypony not quite understanding her on a surface level just as much as Ponder did.

But he did connect with her via statistics and past experiences, in a different way. She couldn't help but wonder if that would come up later or needed to be addressed, but for now, she was just happy she herself wasn't about to go into another minor breakdown.

With as many things happening as of late, it wasn't really something she thought she could afford.

After a genuine “ Bye! “ from both parties Twilight went to Starlight and Ponder to his room.
Ponder couldn't help the thoughts that he was always in a mental state to hear whatever horrible truths Applejack or anyone else had to lay down on him. His devotion to logical action and improvement was absolute, or so he thought.

He was good at it.

Very good at it. Better then everyone in his school, the entire state even, if you look at the numbers a bit crooked. Why wasn't he thinking about anything else? He asked himself.

Because there is currently no greater way to make progress, of course.

And so, with him leaving no other valid targets to direct his mind too, his thoughts festered.
Unknown to PonderBright, of course. The thoughts continued:

He was forged through hot fire to be what he is today. He couldn't possibly be susceptible to such simple minded pitfalls, could he?
Not in the traditional sense, no. He had too much life experience proving otherwise.

He drifted off to sleep.

But every dam has it's maximum safe level, no matter how many safety latches, diverting waterways and height.
And even steel has it's breaking point.

PonderBright went to sleep thinking that the whole Fluttershy business was mostly a waste of time.
A well intentioned waste of time, but a waste of time. He was very different. Both physically, and especially mentally.

His subconscious state manifested in a dream.

Or rather, a nightmare.

PonderBright awoke to strained distant screaming. He had been trying to wake up due to said screams for awhile now, but something akin to sleep paralysis must have been keeping him half asleep.

He instantly realized something.

The screams had abruptly stopped.
His survival instincts kicked in.

He immediately jumped from his bed, his eyes still trying to adjust to the dark. No lights, duh. Primitive magic world.

His eyes and ears were not working at 100%, probably due to the abrupt end of sleep and him getting up too fast.
He clumsily used his wings as digits to strike a match and light a candle, the same way twilight had done when getting back from Fluttershy's.

She must have done so to show him. He knows she can make lights from her magic.
Something he wished he had right now, if only to make a laser-lightning light show then run away if he happened to run into the perpetrator.

He started to walk towards Twilight's room to alert her. The faded sound of his own footsteps echoing around the halls, surprising even him. He must still be half asleep. No corrected vision, either. The dizziness had luckily faded. At least that's something.

He pressed on to spite not being in a state to do so. he had to see if Twilight was ok. The last thing he wanted is for something bad to happen to anyone here, in the perfect pastel pony world. He was in the middle of wondering if that ' perfect world ' assumption was really correct when he realized something:

NOTHING around here was viewable. Or clearly, at least. Everything was a blur; no matter how close or how far. He looked at a nearby mirror to check himself, and there he was, in crystal clear perfect view.
His mind started to stray.

Have I lost vision? Do I need glasses? He thought to himself. No. Everything sounds … Distorted. Faded.
Something was wrong. Everything was off.

Then, A crystal clear voice seemingly inches away from his ear speaks with perfect clarity and confidence:
“ Well of course it is. You don't belong here. “
He immediately turned.


Not a hint of magic, (which he was very good at detecting by now) , and no visual.
He threw a nearby book on the ground at the empty hall, and it fell to the floor. No invisible enemies either.

He didn't have that big of a grasp of how magic worked, or rather not at all. He figured this was either some sort of physic attack meant to throw him off, or a hallucination.

He figured the perpetrator wanted to slow him down with that threat. He did the opposite. He started to run. Not a sprint, as doing the exact opposite would be falling for basic reverse physiology. Plus he still could not see very well, and may sprint into a trap if he went at full speed.

He then ran past something.

In one of the rooms, he could have sworn he saw blood.
Blood and a corpse.
He kept running.

If the perp was in that room, they would likely come out to attack him. He ran to the nearest intersection and hid under a desk.

“ Wow. You really have lost your touch. No walking over your tracks like a bear, no sound diversions, no making of makeshift weapons. “

He immediately jumped, hitting his head on the bottom of the desk.

He then heard laughter. A very mocking laughter. Very familiar. As if some sort of mental block; (or break), was preventing him from recognizing it's owner.
The laughter was not only right next to his ear like the previous two interruptions; it echoed all over the halls for a bit.
Whoever this thing was, it had eyes on him.

It knew ALOT about him.
It was at the tip of his tongue who the perp was. It bugged him. It disturbed him deeply.
He ran. Fast, this time.

It seemed to have eyes on him no matter what he did, so no use in hiding. He took it's advice and got a fire poker as a weapon as he passed the fireplace.
He then immediately came across another corpse. This time in the hallway.

She was hit on the back of the head with something. And then stabbed repeatedly in the stomach.

He didn't know If this was just the shock kicking in, but his vision and hearing was further starting to fail him. More things became blurred. Blurred things became more blurred. His footsteps were now one long, echoing sound, even if he slowed down.

One thing was still crystal clear though:
“ You took too long. So I did. “

He swung his poker around, wings hurting under the strain of it. He just wanted it to go away.
More laughter came as a response to his struggling.

He pressed on. He hoped to curb the casualties. And he desperately wanted to kill whatever was evil enough to do all of this.

He came across a strewn up blue Pegasus in the kitchen. It looked like Rainbowdash. This one was in much worse condition then Rarity. What was recognizable looked horrible. She had been tortured.

“ Justice. “ Said the voice.

“ JUST TAKE ME! “ PonderBright finally shouted back.

More laughter.

“ The rest? “

His heart sank. He dropped the poker as it would just slow him down. He would body slam whoever or whatever this thing was and let the rest escape. If not, he would bite it's putrid throat out for it's sins.

The hallways were much, much longer then he remembered.

He ran past a few more corpses, 3 to be exact. The rest of Twilight's friend group, probably. He didn't check to look.

His eyes and ears continued to fail him, the more and more he ran. It became so bad that he could only make our the vague outlines of shapes.

He ran and ran, and eventually came to the end of a dead end hallway.
He was not shown any of these during his tour, and wasn't even sure there was any in the castle.

He was confused, but he knew the door at the end was Twilight's.
He hesitated. To spite his emotions, he opened the door.

What came into view was a human. Completely and perfectly visible. Perfectly clean. Turned away, and Twilight's motionless body on the floor next to it. It and her was the only things clear enough to be reconcilable, though Twilight was much more blurred.

Her throat had been slit, but other than that there seemed to be no signs of the usual damage on the others.

“ A mercy. “
It said.

It's voice now not only right next to Ponder's ear, but also coming from the human.

It's head had instantly rotated a bit to have one tiny part of one of it's eyes face him. Ponder was in shock. Did he teleport? Is it's speed immeasurable?

“ This was never going to work. “

“ You know better. “

Ponder's legs were about to give out.

“ But of course, you already knew that -”

A tree branch from a window obscured it in darkness for a moment, and when it was back in view it was turned around to face him. It towered over the shorter stature of the ponies in the room.

It was himself.

“ Right? “

It had it's arms outstretched, reaching away from it's torso and slightly shrugged, in a domineering fashion.

It began to smile.

A bright flash of a dark blue magic shined from a distant somewhere, then everything was gone.
A familiar pony came into view.

“ Luna? “ PonderBright correctly guessed.

Luna had a very concerned look on her face, and was visibly shaken.
“ Ponderbright. “ Luna replied, not really knowing what to say.
Ponder had realized: this was just a dream.

“ OH THANK GOD “ He instinctively blurted out.
Luna seem confused.

“ And what might you mean? “ Luna asked.
“ Don't worry about it dream Luna “ Ponder said with maximum catharsis in his voice.
“ I'll be waking up soon. “

She seemed slightly offended.
“ I am the princess of dreams, Twilight has not told you? “
“ So, your trying to say your the real Luna? “ Ponder had to ask.
“ Yes. I was about to say. “ Luna replied.

“ Well if your the real Luna, and want to convince me, send me a tex- a letter or come to visit; I'm totally done with this dream stuff for right now. “ Ponder had openly admitted, falling on the dream-like floor.

“ Very well. I wish to discuss this with you anyhow. “
“ I will arrive tomorrow morning. “

Ponder did not respond. Hopefully he would get some rest thanks to this Luna-Ex-Machina.

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

- - Sun Tzu, Art of War

Author's Note:

I am open to PM. No discord or email. Do not use email. Please.
I am open to work, even collaborations. I can't draw. Muscle condition.

I find it very funny that the first written record of how to wage war references the magic of friendship. (In Sun Tzu's own demented way)
Ill be posting some after every chapter.

Want to test my writing with this one. Will try to write more and more challenging subjects as time goes on.
All criticism minus something that can only be seen as a nitpick will be appreciated.