Hope in a Hoofful of Scrap

by MiriOhki

First published

Two young lovers reunite after a long seperation. And they may be the only thing keeping one another sane when a bizarre transformation takes place (Five Score, Divided By Four Side Story)

Two young lovers meet once again after seven years of separation. An old flame is rekindled, but can it survive a bizarre turn of events that reveals a secret hidden from them for a quarter century?

A side story of TwistedSpectrum's "Five Score, Divided by Four".
Flags set as tentative, though I don't do explicit well so tend to avoid.

Chapter I: Day 2

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Saturday, May 2, 2020

I threw myself awake to the buzz of my alarm and slapped at the clock. Or tried to anyway. I only succeeded in hurling myself to the floor. Damnit, my sleep-addled brain grumbled, “I'm going to be la... wait a second.” I finally realized that it was day one of a stockpiled vacation. With a groan I dragged myself back onto my bed and stared at the ceiling fan, dropping my foot onto the alarm to shut it off before dragging it back under the covers.

I never knew what to do with my vacation time the vast majority of the time, so someone suggested I use some of it for my birthday. I didn't particularly care that it was two and a half decades after I was born in a US military hospital in Germany, mostly because I didn't really have many friends to spend it with. Admittedly it was my own fault, considering I didn't get out much. Between closing shift at the hardware store I worked at, reacting badly to alcohol making trips to the bar pointless, and at times finding the computer I put together and the people on the other side of the cable modem far more interesting to talk to than the vapid pop-obsessed coworkers I deal with on a regular basis, I didn't have a lot of use for vacation time except to decompress and take in the occasional Cubs or rare Bears game when they managed to be in this neck of the woods.

I was contemplating just going back to sleep when I realized it was already mid-afternoon and unless I wanted my sleep cycle to be completely botched up, I might as well get up for good, maybe do a kata or something to drag myself awake. I took some aikido and judo when I was younger, one of many hobbies I tried and eventually dropped, though I still used it as some exercise, just because I couldn't really afford to go to the gym. So I grabbed my bluetooth headset, put it on, then dragged myself to the living room to work out.

“Homebase 1, Thunderbird. Get all messages,” I said through the headset as I worked my way through a series of exercises. I had given up a lot of tried hobbies but one of the few that stuck was fiddling with gadgets. I had never bought a desktop computer, preferring to build my own, and if there was anything I had pride in, it was Homebase 1, my main desktop. I was a 90 WPM typist easily but the gadget junkie in me went the Star Trek route and put the most accurate voice-recognition software I could find on it.

As I finished my kata, I thought for a few moments, then shrugged. “Homebase 1, Firefox. Open bookmark, Ponytube, Season 1, Episode 23.” I was never a major brony, but sadly, Sturgeon's Law seemed to have hit TV hard since I was a kid. That is, 90 percent of everything is crap. Reality TV, ditzy celebutantes, and to top it all off, it was an election year, so you had your two faced rats pandering for your soul as well. Secondary reason I gave up on TV, the first being it got too expensive. I was mostly a youtube/netflix fan when it came to it, though a few flavored youtube knockoffs popped up, including Ponytube. Dedicating an entire site to a retired kiddy show like that sounded weird, but at least, unlike 'reality' TV, it didn't try to be something it wasn't. And the writing was actually rather catchy, at least for the first few seasons. Just don't get into the flamebait that was the last season, particularly the finale.

I went to my desk and sat back, looking out the window at Pike's Peak. Or tried to. Thick clouds concealed the Rockies. Maybe we'd get some rain for a change. Could sure use it. I got tired of listening to the “Water Restriction Warnings” ages ago. I opened IRC and logged on, wondering if anyone was awake or just idling as often seemed the case, then opened Writer and started doing some idle story work before I gave it up as a bad job for the day. Damn writer's block.

I stood up from my chair to go to take a soak and before I knew it, I was face first right into the ground again. I struggled to stand again and wondered why everything seemed shorter as I stumbled toward the bathroom. It was only after I tripped over the cord to the vacuum cleaner that I left in the hall that I realized that the cord caught my foot way too high. I stood up, to realize that for some reason I was trying to maintain balance on my toes. Now I was not in the best of shape, so this ballerina act definitely was not a good idea, but for some reason, I couldn't get my heels to stay on the ground to save my life. Grumbling in exasperation, I continued to the bathroom to get one hell of a shock. I stumbled for the third time in the last five minutes to see a redhead in the mirror.

I have some Irish ancestry, but my hair's always been a dark brown. Definitely not red, and really not the kind of red you'd see on your average fire engine. But even stranger was that my eyes had turned from brown to almost an orange color. What in the hell was going on here? One tug on a forelock definitely told me it wasn't a wig. At this point, I didn't know what was going on, but I didn't need a bath to wake up anymore.

I stood there for a long moment, before the other changes started to filter through my mind. The t-shirt I fell asleep in, one that was a little tight on me before now hung rather loosely like it was a couple sizes too big. Which to be fair, it was at this point. A case of the shivers rippled through me as the movie I watched the other night, an old Stephen King.. sorry, Richard Bachman flick called Thinner, popped into my head. “Great. I'm becoming an emaciated ballerina? Or is that redundant?” I muttered to myself.

Heading back to my desk, I pulled open the emails I hadn't gotten to yet, pausing at one from one of my old friends, Jake Carlson. Ex-friend was more apt. We got into an argument a few years back that escalated, until he decided to take it a bit too far. He might have regretted it, but it was a very sensitive topic for me and I decked him. By the end of the fight I broke his nose and my hand. The last time we talked was when he called to say he wasn't going to press any charges.

I couldn't bring myself to open it yet and went onto the next one, from a LGBT group I ended up joining a few weeks before the aforementioned fight. To be honest, it was the reason for the fight at that. I admit I was bi-curious, but the main reason was that I had never felt right as I was. I had read up on transgender issues, and felt that that was pretty close to the mark, though not quite right. Unfortunately, Jake had read over my shoulder one night, misinterpreted things, said dumber things, and ended up with a broken nose for his efforts.

Moving on, it was mostly junk and fanfic idea spammage, until I saw one from Sandy Akers. I froze as my chest twisted a bit inside. Sandy was the only girlfriend I ever had. Unfortunately, both of our families were moving within months of each other, and we drifted apart, though we did send the occasional emails to one another. I wasn't really sure I wanted to read this one right now, but I pulled together my courage and opened it.

Dear Sam

I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. How are things going there? I just got back to Ft. Carson, and am officially out of the army tomorrow. At least all the paperwork's done now, so it's just a formality. I wanted to see if I could swing by and see how you were doing. Would you mind if I came by this evening? Give me a call if I can.

Love, Sandy.

I knew she had been in the Army but thought she was going to be a lifer. I guess it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I paused, before reaching for my phone. I decided to call her before I lost my nerve.

I struggled to fight the urge to set the phone down, picking her number out of the contacts. I heard it ring a few times and with both relief and worry, I heard it pick up on the other end. “Lieutenant Akers.”

“Sandy? It's me, Sam. Long time no hear,” I said, my mouth a bit dry.

“Sam! You got my message?”

“Yeah. Just now. Yeah, if you want to swing by, go ahead.”

“Sounds good. Mind if I change out of my uniform?”

I paused, then blushed a bit. “You don't have to. I'd like to see you in it if you don't mind.”

Sandy laughed from the other side. “One last chance before I hit civilian life, huh? Sure, why not. I'll be there in about 10 minutes.”

“Alright. Might want to avoid Powers though, it's back under construction again.”

“Sheesh. When isn't it? Alright, make it fifteen I guess.”

“Alright. Drive safe, Sandy. Talk to you when you get here.”

“Will do,” she replied then hung up.

I smiled a bit wistfully. It'd been ages since I saw her face to face. Face! I paused and dug out a Cubs cap to put over my head. I put my computer back on standby and pulled off the earpiece, setting it aside. I made my way to the living room, pacing a bit nervously. I then heard the doorbell and scrambled to the door, stumbling again. Damn feet! Heels! On the ground! Now! I thought to myself as I opened the door...

And fell in love once again as I looked at her. Ok, I admit it. I've always had a thing for a woman in a uniform. And when it was the woman I loved... and probably still love, I tried my best not to embarrass myself any further. I gave her a salute, eliciting a laugh from Sandy as she stepped in and hugged me.

“It's been far too long, Sam.”

“You too, soldier. Come on in, have a seat, relax. Can I get you anything?” I asked as I let her in, turning to the kitchen and trying to calm down.

"If you have any tea, that'd be great," Sandy said as I turned the corner into the kitchen to hear her grunting, straining and swearing about recalcitrant boots.

I smiled. "I'll help you with those," I called out, returning with a couple mason jars of iced tea. "Sorry, dishwasher's acting up." I handed her one of the jars and set the other aside before sitting down at her feet, starting to unlace her boots.

"You are a godsend, Sam," she said as she sat back on the couch, looking around. "Wow. You need a decorator bad."

I shrugged as I finally worked the one boot off and started with the other. "Haven't had the time, money or inclination, I suppose," I said, trying to fight the catch in my voice.

Sandy, unfortunately for me, was far too observant to let that go, however, and as soon as the other boot was free, she practically dragged me onto the couch, throwing her arms around me. "Think you'd mind a live-in decorator then? I think I know someone who just found herself at loose ends and wouldn't mind a new job. Could save her from apartment hunting." She smiled and placed a soft kiss on my lips.

I was more than a bit stunned at the offer and swallowed as I looked into her eyes. "I.. um.. I could be convinced, perhaps. Might have to work out terms, though," I joked weakly.

Sandy grinned and kissed me again before standing. "I'll be back in a second, Sam," she said as she stood and hustled off to the front door, leaving me stunned... but a bit ashamed to admit, my eyes locked on a very gorgeous derriere despite what a set of BDUs tried to hide.

As she stepped out the door, I shook my head. "Cut it out, horndog," I almost snarled at myself, trying to haul my mind out the gutter it rarely inhabited. I stood and tried to ignore the tightness of my shorts as I took a sip of my tea, before putting the jar in my lap. "Take that."

Sandy came in with a blue plastic bag with a store logo on it. "Happy birthday, Sam," she smiled as she sat down on the couch.

I blinked and smiled as I took the bag. "You didn't have to, Sandy." I said as I opened to reveal a couple video cases. One was a Blu-ray compilation of The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. I had mentioned losing my copy during a move and never having gotten the chance to replace them. The other ended up making me blush a bit.

"I know you like that show, and I guess I got a little hooked on it, but I hadn't seen much," she admitted, pulling the MLP:FIM Equestrian Collection out of the bag. "When do you go back to work?"

I was a little surprised to find out Sandy was a fan, but at least it wasn't a joke on her part. "Not for a week and a half actually."

"Finally using your vacation time, huh? About time. Well since I will be out of the army in.. eight hours, how about we celebrate?" she asked. And I was one hundred percent sure it was meant completely innocent. If you believe that, I've got a bridge in New York to sell you.

She laughed and stood, cracking open the pink boxed set open. She tapped a few buttons to turn on my TV and theater system. While she struggled to get the adhesives off the MLB box, the tv showed the title screen of a Ranma 1/2 DVD. She chuckled softly. "Why am I not surprised?"

I knew why Sandy was not too surprised. She was the only one I ever confided in voluntarily when it came to my possible leanings, and often teased me, though without malice, about being a blue-belt Ranma Saotome. Sandy fessed up a few months ago to being glad "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" got repealed years ago, and thought I'd make a hot woman. Some part of me agreed but never responded with more than amusement. She switched discs to one of the MLP discs before moving to hop into my lap, dislodging my Cubs hat.

"Heh. Love what you've done with the hair," she chuckled. "Should I start calling you Ranma?"

I blushed but tried to play it off. "Nah, I think I got a bad batch of shampoo. Ended upturning my hair this color."

"It looks good on you, Sam," she said, kissing my cheek while wiggling a bit in my lap. I bit my lip a bit, trying to tell the annoyance between my legs to go back to bed.

I held Sandy close, resting my chin gently on her shoulder, while desperately hoping an obstinate part of my anatomy wouldn't decide to lift her up like a car jack. That would kind of ruin a wonderful reunion.

I tried to concentrate on the show, despite having seen it several times, before she said, “I got you a birthday present... I was wondering if you'd like to give me one?”

I blinked a moment, freezing. “Uh, well what would you like?” Ahh, something to get my mind off... that. Good. Maybe I can get through the day without making a total ass of myself.

She turned toward me before giving me the most blistering kiss we ever shared, or at least that I could remember. My eyes widened as I trembled against her. “I was thinking, if you wouldn't mind so much, if I could maybe have your virginity?”

I was utterly stunned by the request. Yes, I was, and yes, she knew it. I don't know if she knew why I still was, except for the fact that I had told her enough to show that I hadn't found anyone that was worth a casual fling, and she knew I didn't do casual. But still, it was an unusual request. At least I thought so, but perhaps I was a throwback to a more chivalrous age. “I... would be honored, Sandy,” I said, feeling embarrassed to even consider it, despite the fact that my lower half was cheering.

“It'd be an even trade,” she admitted and I blushed a bit deeper as I realized the implication.

“Are you sure?” I said a bit weakly, stunned by it.

Sandra turned to face me. “I've wanted you for a long time. I've loved you for a long time. And I just wanted you to know that there's nothing coming between us anymore. I'm not in the army anymore, and I don't care what you do anymore. Hell, you can be a house-husband if you want.”

I chuckled a little at that idea. “Well I don't really care that much for working at that hardware store. Never did, but it was a paycheck.”

She moved to straddle my legs and look into my eyes. “So can I have my present?” she said with that smile I always loved.

I answered her with a kiss full of love and longing.

The kid's show played in the background, while a far more adult endeavor took place between its audience.

I stared at the ceiling, still lost in the afterglow, holding Sandy atop of me as my hands ran along her back. “Any regrets?” I asked softly.

“Only that I didn't drag you with me back then,” she replied, kissing my neck gently.

I nodded softly as my hand continued to run along her back, before I finally got the nerve to let it wander toward her flank, gently squeezing it. She giggled and kissed her way up along my neck, toward my ear, and higher.

It was about then that both of us realized something was not quite right, as I could feel her lips right where my ear was.. or rather, where it should have been. Conversely, my hand wandered her derriere, only to find a new, and wholly inappropriate appendage. At least to any homo sapiens. She stared up. I looked over her shoulder. Both of us gasped in shock. Something was definitely rotten in the state of Denmark. We looked into each others eyes worriedly, before I hesitantly reached back toward her ass, while her hand moved toward the top of my head. Simultaneously, we both gasped as I felt my ear being tweaked and I ended up gently tugging on her new tail.

Jerking in shock, we both ended up falling off the bed, her landing atop of me on my back as my face was mashed into the carpet. “What the hell!? You have one too!”

I pushed myself up a little to look over my shoulder. And yes, sticking out of my butt was a bright, red, puffy tail. I looked up at her to notice that her ears were newly aligned and sticking out of what was a bushy, two-toned mane. And it was definitely a mane. No other word was appropriate. My eyes widened even more as I reached up and gently poked my finger toward her forehead. “What?” She said nervously, already close to hyperventilating.

It was then that I gently touched my finger to the tip of a three inch white horn protruding from the top of her forehead, barely sticking out from that mane. Her breathing sped up, until she passed out atop of me, driving my head back into the ground and sending me to join her in unconsciousness.

Chapter II: Day 3

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Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

I struggled to claw my way to wakefulness, or at least some dim semblance thereof, surprised at a weight pressing down on me. Nothing crushing, in fact it was quite pleasant, and somewhat comforting, though it wasn't quite familiar. I reached up to rub my face, to find it blocked by floor and carpet. What was I doing down here? I thought to myself as I tilted my head up. I saw hair out of the corner of my eye. Three colors of it, in fact. Fire engine red, and two shades of violet. It didn't quite ring a bell, but it did make me wonder where it came from. I turned my head a bit to see a familiar face, and a smile crossed my lips. Last night was real.

The smile died however, as I noticed a pair of ears and a horn. Oh hell. Last night was real. I reached back to feel at my rear. Which was covered by Sandy. So I reached back and hesitantly felt at her rear. Yes, despite the fact that we spend most of last night rattling each others' bones, I still was somewhat nervous about offending her, but I had to know. I froze as I realized that, as an extension of her spine, I felt the nub of a tail and a soft, luxurious flow of hair extending from it. Sweet Celestia preserve us, Sandy's going to be pissed, I thought to myself.

In a somewhat sultry voice, Sandy murmered, “More, honey?”

My heart fluttered a bit, before I said, “I think you we need to wake up, love,” the affectionate term was hesitant, but very heartfelt. “Something very strange is going on.” I paused, nervous, before gently tugging at her tail.

She froze and in an unnerved voice, said, “I was hoping that part was just a dream.”

“Me too, Sandy,” I said weakly. “Maybe we should head to the bathroom, see what's going on?” I felt her nod before she pushed herself to her hooves.

I stood and started to struggle to my own hooves, staggering into the wall besides the door with an 'oof'. Sandy moved to help support me and herself against me, as both of us were unsteady. We made it into the bathroom and splashed water on our face before attempting to assess ourselves and each other. And as we did, we went from semi-conscious to fully awake in a split second as the shock and horror elicited a series of profanity from the both of us.

One thing military life does do for you is broaden the more vulgar parts of ones vocabulary. Needless to say, she managed to beat me for sheer pungency, though I think I had her beat for volume, and perhaps pitch. Yes, I was shrieking like a cheerleader and she was swearing like a sailor. It was a couple moments before we pulled ourselves together to realize just what had happened to us.

Neither of us seemed to have gotten the better of the deal over the other. Both of us ended up with the previously mentioned technicolor manes and tails, hers the twotoned violet, my own the fire-engine red. Both of us were now hearing from the tops of our heads. She still had that stubby horn protruding from between above her eyes. Those, we already knew about.

It was the new changes that shocked the heck out of us. Somehow, her breasts, not all that large, had not only managed to shrink a bit further, but meander downward to just at about her hipbone. Even more shocking was the dual fact that they not only decided to duplicate themselves on my own body in the same place, but that my newly experienced parts would never experience again, at least in the same way, considering they were a close match to Sandy's own equipment.

I shivered a bit as I looked down further, to notice why we were walking around like budget ballerinas. Our feet and lower legs were now contorted into a pair of hooved appendages.

“What happened to us?” I asked in an unsteady rasp.

“I don't know, Sam,” She said in an equally unsteady tone. “Considering neither of us have slept with any other human, and I very much doubt there's some horse-transformation STD out there, I'm going to assume you haven't tried bestiality.”

I looked at her shocked, before a weak laugh escaped me. She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed tightly. “It's going to be ok,” she reassured me.

I sniffed back a tear. “Aren't I supposed to be reassuring you?” I asked, only semi-joking.

“You don't have to be macho for me, love. You never were good at it anyway.”

“That would have stung more if it weren't true,” I admitted.

Sandy kissed me softly on the lips, which seemed to calm the both of us down. “I love you the way you are. Even if the way you are isn't the way you were twenty four hours ago. Besides, I'm crisis trained.”

I hugged her tightly before sagging a bit. “So what do we do now?”

“Well crisis training didn't plan for turning into an anthropomorphic fairy tale, but first priority would be survival. What do we have in the house?” Sandy inquired.

“I haven't gone grocery shopping yet, so we need to go there. There's a Walmart just across the tracks and a Big R around the cor...” I paused. “I didn't just go there, did I?”

“Go where?” Sandy asked.

I put a hand to my forehead, groaning. “Big R's a farm supply store.”

“Yes, honey,” she said, placing a hand on my shoulder before almost laughing. “You did go there.”


Considering I had just lost a whole lot of weight in the transformation to date, most of my clothing swamped either of us. But since we weren't sure just how far this was going to go, a clothing run may have been a waste of time. Besides, with the bulkiness of the clothing, it could hopefully conceal our transformations to some degree. A pair of baggy sweatpants covered our tails and other below the waist changes, while a light jacket and her BDU top did the rest.

Fortunately it was early enough in the morning that the Self Checkout lanes were open, but there was almost nobody there. Perfect for our plans. We worked our way through the aisles, and underwent several shocks. Or at least I did. I had always been a meat and potatoes kind of person. But one trip past the far wall left me literally nauseous. “That just ain't fair,” I muttered as I passed up the meat aisle, approaching the fruits and vegetables.

“Ok, Cowgirl, welcome to Vegan World,” Sandy joked.

I gave her a mock glare and said, “I loathe you.”

“That sure isn't what you said last night,” she grinned a bit salaciously.

I couldn't help but blush in memory, but walked onward like a man on carnivore death row. That was, however, until the aromas from under one of the misters hit my nostrils. “Whoa... what in tarnation is that?” I mutter, walking toward some spinach and broccoli. “Ok, that's strange. I like broccoli, but I ain't ever smelled any that good. And that can't be spinach, can it?” For some reason, I had a hard time not drooling.

Sandy nudged me with an elbow. “Don't mess the produce. And what's with the Texas talk?”

I blinked, and looked at her, then thought back a moment. “You're right. This is getting' purty strange.”

“I don't mind it, but it worries me. What else is gonna happen to us?” Sandy said, a hint of nervousness entering her tone.

“I don't know, darlin' but we'll get through it together. I promise,” I said, unconsciously praying to Celestia I could keep said promise. I shook my head then started to gather a bunch of those delicious smelling greens before me.

Sandy hugged my side for a moment, before doing her own foraging. Half an hour later, and quite a bit lighter in the bank account, we made the second half of the trip, which made me groan just thinking about it. “It was a joke,” I said weakly as we pulled up to the Big R.

“Well I'm not laughing that much about this one,” Sandy said. “It's not a bad idea. Maybe it'll come in handy. Maybe it won't matter, but if it does...”

“Better safe than sorry, I get it,” I said, hoist by my own petard.

We didn't spend nearly as much time there, as we learned that it wasn't nearly as farm animal oriented as it was farm gear oriented. But we did find a few things here and there. The other reason was because it was surprisingly difficult to stay standing the way we were. Fortunately, my house was only a couple blocks away, but by the time we got home and got everything into the house, it was almost agony to stay on two hooves, and our hands were nearly hooves.

We got everything put away, but in the end, we just decided to crawl into my bed and take a nap. I rested my head gently upon her neck as we both started to doze off.

A sniffing sound woke me up, several hours later. I struggled a bit but found myself drowning in a sea of cloth. I shuddered as I tried to tear myself free, before a light flashed in my eyes. I blinked a bit, then opened them to see a tearstreaked equine face. But not your average horse. It was.. adorable. But at the same time, bonechilling, as I realized what it meant. “Sandy, are you ok?”

“No, Apple Bloom, I'm not,” she said, a hint of misery in her tone.

The name bludgeoned me like a mace between the eyes. The accent. Everything looking ten times bigger than it did twenty four hours ago. “And you're Sweetie Belle, aren't you?”

Sweetie... Sandy nodded. “Yeah.” Before I could say anything else, she threw her hooves over my shoulders and sobbed against my neck. All I could do was return the embrace and cry along with her.

I wiped her tears carefully with the side of my hoof and sat back on my haunches, looking at Sandy. "So what do we do now? I mean how in the hay are we going to deal with becoming part of modern mythology?"

"Why don't we go online and see if anyone else is in the same boat?" Sandy suggested.

"Is that really a good idea, love?"

"Why not? If anypony else changed, they'd believe us and probably be able to cope with it knowing they and we aren't alone. Everypony else will just ignore us as trolls," Sandy offered.

I gave a weak smile and said, "I'll go get the firewood, love. We're about to start a flame war." She laughed and smacked me with her tail before hopping off my bed and crashing onto her face. "You ok, Sandy?"

"Peachy," she mumbled into the carpet.

We pushed a pair of high stools up to my desktop and began our odyssey. Or we would if we hadn't discovered that hooves and keyboards don't mix. I groaned a little as I looked for my earpiece. "Ok, let's hope I don't have to reprogram my voice commands..." I muttered, trying to figure out how to put the thing into my new ear.

It was just a bit of a surprise, then, to see my keyboard glow light green. "Give me that," Sandy muttered. And suddenly, the keys started to press themselves.

I turned toward her to see her concentrating, her horn glowing the same light green. "Oh. Unicorn. Right," I mutter to myself, a little jealous that I didn't have an equine Omnitool mounted to my skull. I waited until she stopped before asking, "Um... How did you know how to do that?"

Sandy looked at me, then back at the keyboard. "I dunno. Just seemed natural."

I groaned a little before finally wedging the headset on as best as I could. "Alright. Homebase 1, Firefox. Google Pony Transformation Need Help."

I bent my head down to grab a pen, flicking the tip up and down (an old nervous habit) as we started to scan through the listings. Most of what we saw were either human to pony fanfic writers looking for advice, or people mocking bronies as nutjobs. Neither was particularly helpful.

"Alright," I mumbled. "Going nowhere slowly. Any other suggestions?"

"Youtube? If nothing else, we could be internet stars?" Sandy said wryly.

I rolled my eyes a bit before spitting my pen on the desk. "It's getting dark, think it's safe for me to check the mail?"

"Go ahead, hun," Sandy said as her horn started glowing once more.

As soon as I stumbled from the carpeted upper floor to the wooden stairs to my living room, I paused at the sound of my hoofsteps. "Yep. That's gonna take some getting used to," I muttered, before working my way to the mailbox. I expected it to be mostly junk, though I did have a birthday present to myself en route.

And there it was, sitting on the porch next to the door. I checked the mailbox first (my suspicions were correct) before grabbing the box and going back inside, to stop as Sandy stood before me, looking at me with an odd expression. "Something wrong, love?"

"And you asked how I was doing that being a unicorn?" She said, gesturing to the hoof on the doorknob and the other holding the box and junkmail.

I paused for a moment until what Sandy was implying sunk in. "I didn't even think about it." We had seen the cartoon ponies lift stuff with their hooves once in a while, usually Pinkie as a gag. But good ol' Fridge Logic reared its ugly head. "Maybe it's Earth Pony Power. Represent!" I joked, raising a hoof to the sky.

Sandy facehoofed before muttering, "Whatever works I guess." She shrugged (A hint of fridge logic in and of itself, I thought, but unless we got X-rays or MRIs done, who knows what our musculoskeletal system was capable of?) and walked toward the kitchen.

I looked at her and paused as a mixture of thoughts popped into my head, varying from the perverted to the squeamish, to the confused before setting the package and mail on a chair and following her into the kitchen.

My expression must have tipped her off, as she asked, "What's on your mind, babe?"

"A lot, I suppose. We've got the short term survival covered, I guess, so it gave my mind time to go swimming around in the gutter again," I joked.

"Bit for your thoughts?" She asked as she magically pulled out some prepackaged spinach, which once again touched off the drool factory.

"Damn that smells good," I murmered before shaking my head to clear it before I answered her. "Well let's see. We still love each other, but what does that mean now? Lesbian Schoolfillies?"

"Lovely name for a porn title there," Sandy said sardonically as she opened up the package.

I gave her a lighthearted glare before continuing, "Then there's the fact that, when it comes to that kind of thing, the mind's willing, but the spirit's apathetic and the flesh is nonexistent."

"You are very aware that it's not just tab A into slot B," she chided, "And if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. We're not only ponies, but evidently prepubescent ponies. As much as it sucks that we just got hit the green flag in our relationship before the caution got waved, It doesn't mean a whole lot."

"True. It would be kind of a distraction at this point," I admit. "Probably a good idea since we'd have to even figure out what's going on before we go any further down that path." I moved to wrap my hooves around her body gently, hugging her softly.

"We waited twenty five years for our first time, we can wait to figure out the new hardware for our second," Sandy agreed, before offering up one of the bowls of impromptu salad.

I had a new favorite food. After swallowing a few bites of it, I gave a soft cackle like a certain old cartoon. “I yams what I yams,” I joked, “And what I yams is lovin' this spinaches.”

Sandy rolled her eyes but giggled a bit as she dove into her own bowl, evidently enjoying it as much as I did. After we finished the food off, she magicked the bowls into the sink and set them to soak before we made our way back to the computer room, her dragging my beanbag chair with her. “Alright, let's see if we got anything else,” I said as I tapped the headset I hadn't bothered taking off (for not wanting to bother with having to put the darn thing back in for the moment). “Homebase 1, Thunderbird, get all messages.” With that, I curled up in the beanbag next to Sandy, cuddling against her gently.

She lifted the keyboard and tapped in the command to increase text size. “Alright, what do we have here... Spam, spam.. porn,” She said, giving me a sideways amused glance, causing me to blush a bit. “Spam... Huh. Something labeled High Priority, with the Subject “Pl;z dont del;etye, sam, ned he;lp.”

I paused as I looked at the sender and frowned a bit. It was a message from Jack. I didn't want to really bother with it, but Sandy didn't give me the option, as she opened it. It was badly spelled but I could almost feel the desperation in it.

Derr samn,.

Io donm;'tr klnow wqho 32 turnm 2, biut I nmeed hjel;p. I;',m rtumning inmto A XCREatuer amnd it wiont stop. Call ,me [pleASE.



Sandy gave me a worried look we both tried to decipher the message. “That looks like.. it could have been typed with hooves...” she said.

Anger and shame warred with guilt, before I struggled out of the beanbag and moved to my landline phone, grabbing a pen on the way. Knocking the receiver off the phone, I tried to remember Jack's phone number, before using the pen in my mouth to jab at the numbers. I spat the pen aside before putting my head against the phone to align it against my ear.

It rang three times, before a strangely familiar voice finally answered, with a tone on the verge of tears. “H... hello?” the voice quavered.

“Jack? It's me, Sam,” I said, a little unsteady myself.

“Who are you? You don't sound...” Jack paused. “Is that really you? Are you changing too?”

“Yeah. I have. You're not becoming a creature, Jack,” I said, trying to sound reassuring. “It may sound strange, but do you remember that pony cartoon? I think I mentioned it once.”

“Or twice a week,” he said, trying to sound mocking but failing miserably. “Yeah.”

“I don't know why but we're turning into them. It's going to be ok, but you just need to calm down and relax for a moment. You're not going to explode or go Godzilla on anyone or something like that.”

“Alright...” Jack took a deep breath. “Can.. I come over? You still live there, right?”

I paused, then said, “Yeah, I haven't moved. Just be careful and try not to be seen until we can sort everything out.”

Jack hung up the phone, and I did the same. “Looks like we're not the only ones, Sandy.”

Sandy moved to hug me, shaking just a bit. “I'm glad. I mean I'm sorry it's happening to others, but I'm glad we're not alone.”

I returned the hug and nodded. “Me too, love,” I replied, resting my head against her neck. “Wanna wait in the living room for him? We might wanna show him the cartoon, he hasn't seen it yet.”

“Ahh yes, a metamorphed pony primer,” Sandy joked as she made the beanbag chair drift behind us. I moved to fumble the first disc of the series into the player before moving to curl up against Sandy in the bag, relaxing.

It was just about midnight when a hesitant tap-scrape on the door was heard. “Sounds like Jack's here.” I got up from the beanbag chair and opened the door, wondering what happened to Jack...

… to see a drenched and scared-looking tan pegasus with a magenta mane and tail.

Chapter III: Day 4

View Online

Monday, May 4th 2020

"Sam, is that you?" Jack asked Sandy.

"No, that's my girlfriend Sandy. I'm Sam," I replied, making room for Jack to step into the house. "Sandy, this is Jack."

Sandy lifted a hoof in reflex, before pausing. "That doesn't work, does it?"

Jack paused, then hoofbumped. "Sam..." He paused, fumbling for words, before asking rather lamely, "Can I have some water?"

I paused, then headed to the kitchen. When I returned, I saw Sandy magically draping a blanket over Jack as he curled up on the couch. I set a bowl of water on the couch next to him before curling up in the beanbag chair, Sandy slipping in next to me.

"Sam," Jack said after a drink, fumbling for words. "I'm sorry. I've wanted to say that for so long, but I didn't know how. I shouldn't have invaded your privacy. I shouldn't have called you-"

I interrupted, "A little faggot wannabe?" The words came out softer than I really meant but still hit Jack hard as he nodded.

"Yeah. I shouldn't have said it. I shouldn't have even thought it. I just... panicked," he said, ashamed.

"Jack, if you called me that today, I'd probably just laughed and told you to piss off. But I was very sensitive about it back again and you pushed the wrong buttons," I admitted.

"Doesn't look like an issue now," he said, looking at Sandy.

"Actually I never minded his bisexuality," Sandy replied. "I was the first one she ever told."

Jack paused. "She? You... you mean you changed sexes too?"

I nodded. "Yeah."

Jack looked down, and paused, before sticking his hoof in his mouth once more, "Got what you wanted?"

I glared at him. "Sure. Turning into a bisexual underage filly was my dream ever since I was a little boy."

Jack flinched. "Sorry. You've got a point. Jack, 0, Mouth 3."

I sighed and leaned a bit into Sandy, before deciding to change the subject. "Anyway, I'm sure you're wondering just what you turned into. You'd never believe me if I didn't show you. Hell, I don't even believe it, and it's happening to me. Sandy, you got the remote somewhere?"

Sandy magicked over the remote and turned on the blu-ray player, starting the first episode.

Jack didn't say a single word until the first disc was finished. "So we're cartoons come to life?"

"I don't think so, Scootaloo. If we took that at face value, I'd say sure. But what gets me is that there are inconsistancies. It's more like this was a dramatization of events, not a recording of it," Sandy commented, with neither her nor Jack noting the slip of the tongue.

"You're right, Sweetie," I murmered as I tapped my chin with one hoof. "Now that I think of it, that'd make sense. That or someone tried to fill in the blanks from second hand reports or filler.

"Can you not use that word?" Jack said.

I blinked in confusion. "Filler?"

"No, Blanks. Just feels wrong," Jack replied, frowning a bit.

"Yeah, I can understand that," I replied. "We haven't gotten there yet but evidently we all started some club because none of us have cutie marks-"

"Cutie marks? Ugh." Jack looked a bit annoyed.

I shrugged and got up to switch discs. "Do you want to get some sleep or keep going?"

Sandy looked at the clock. "It's 2AM, we probably should get some sleep, work out more tomorrow."

Jack nodded and bit the blanket, pulling it a bit closer as he quickly passed out on the couch. Sandy and I worked our way to my room and helped each other onto my bed, me giving her a foot up and she lifting me magically, before we curled up against each other under the blankets. Sleep came quickly to us as well.

I carefully dislodged myself from Sandy, not wanting to wake her up, as I worked my way down the stairs to hear the voice of Kevin Murphy coming from the living room. “...then I'll ram my ovipositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your chest. But I'm not an alien!”

I chuckled a bit. MLP was my secret vice, but MST3K and Rifftrax were my public one. Hearing the laugh after that comment from the voice of Tom Servo put a smile on my face. At least Jack was feeling better, from the sound of it. I entered the living room, seeing Jack watching the movie. I came around and hopped onto the couch next to Jack, turning to watch it with him. It may not make up completely for several years of hard feelings, but shared transmogrification and bonding over mocking bad movies does go a long way toward it at least.

Sandy came down the stairs to hear the both of us yodelling along with Mike and the Bots to an overly dramatic orchestral score, “Normal view, Normal view, Normal view, NORMAL VIEW!!!!!” as we both burst out laughing hard, almost falling off the couch.


Sandy grinned as she hit pause. “Come on, you two jokers, let's get breakfast and get to work.”

I laughed a bit and nodded. “Ok, dear,” I replied as I hopped off of the couch. I paused a moment as I looked at the package I abandoned last night, grabbing it as Sandy started to throw together another salad.

“What is that, anyway?” Sandy asked as she brought the bowls over a moment later.

“A little birthday present I got for myself. A bit pricy, but I've always liked them for notebooks,” I said as I unearthed a Macbook Pro.

“And appropriate,” Sandy said teasingly. “An Apple for Apple Bloom?”

Jack chuckled a bit. “She's got a point.”

I paused for a moment, and looked at the white bitten apple logo on the back of the screen. “Got a point there, I guess.” I smiled then plugged in the power cable, setting the notebook aside to charge up while we enjoyed breakfast. “I was thinking we can keep looking for any hints. I don't know but if this happened to anypony at the same time, we might not have seen anything yet just because everyone was still panicking and flailing about yet.”

Sandy nodded and spoke after finishing a bite of her meal. “Makes sense.”

Jack looked at the two of them. “So how long have you two known each other?”

Sandy explained, “Since high school. Our parents were both stationed on Okinawa, and we met in school. And I should have dragged that lug over there with me when I left for college.”

“Yes, dear, you're right, dear,” I said, mock-forlornly, before smiling and finishing off my meal. “You hop on Homebase 1 and I'll try out the laptop?”

Jack shook his head. “You and your toys. Alright.” He grabbed the beanbag chair and started to drag it along as we went back up to the office.

Sandy hopped into my desk chair as I plugged the laptop back in and began to set it up. “So where should we look?” she asked.

“Well, I'd check the MLP fan forums.. as soon as I get this setup, I'll try out a couple theories. Almost done.,” I murmered as I tapped with the back of a pair of pens. Still slower than molasses, but at least I wasn't typing as badly as Jack was earlier.

Jack plopped into the beanbag chair, tail flicking a bit in boredom. "Hm. Maybe I can watch more of the show?" he offered.

I nodded and set the laptop aside before heading off to grab the box. I returned and blinked as both Jack and Sandy stared in horror at the desktop monitor. I turned toward the monitor and joined them in the horror.

On the screen was a young unicorn filly with a sapphire mane and navy blue fur. Covering half of her face including her right eye was some gauze bandages. Her expression was filled with misery. "If there's anypony out there, please.. help me. I can't be alone.. I can't be the only one."

My vision blurred with tears and a red hot rage as the pitiful plea continued. "If anyone in the Springs can help me.. please." The last word was a weak whisper as the video stopped.

"No. That ain't happenin'," I snarled, staring at the miserable-looking pony. "Buck that noise.."

Sandy and Jack both looked at me with shock as I tapped at my keyboard. What I was doing was stupid, but I couldn't let that filly go through the hurting anymore. "Sam," Jack said hesitantly, "What are you doing?"

I didn't respond, before tapping a key, staring at the camera built into the laptop just above the screen. "If you get this message, you can tell that you're not the only one this is happening to," I said, my voice quavering a little. "You are not alone. Send me a PM, and we'll help you out. Just be careful and hold on." I blinked away a few tears and repeated, "You are not alone."

I clicked the 'post a video reply' button as Sandy stared at me for a moment, before nodding. "Nobody gets left behind," she said and I smiled weakly. If anyone would understand what I was thinking, it was a soldier.

We waited, with me pacing, concentrating on the click of my hooves on the hardwood floor, until a message finally appeared. "whr?" I quickly tapped out a reply for our address.

"B thr 15 min. Thnk U"

I blinked away a few tears. "Sandy, can you make some tea and get some blankets? I'll get the first aid kit."

Jack said, "I'll get the blankets," and rushed off as I went to the bathroom, very glad I left the kit in the bottom cabinets.

I put the first aid kit on the coffee table and opened the door, sitting back, my tail twitching with agitation. Jack arrived a few minutes later, putting the blankets on the couch and spitting a few times. "Ugh. Tastes nasty." He moved to sit down next to me. "You're taking this a bit hard," he noted.

"Buck the hell yes," I muttered, my tail still lashing a bit. "I've never had a lot of friends, so I'm used to being alone. But she didn't seem to have any friends. Imagine what she's going through?"

"It might be worse than that," Sandy said. "Those injuries looked rather fresh. I can think of a few scenarios, and none of them pretty."

My ears flattened in fury as a few ideas came to mind, but my train of thought got derailed as we heard a tapping at the screen door. I rushed over quickly and opened it for the darkfurred unicorn. She limped in, a backpack draped over her. I took it from her and moved to her side to steady her, one back foot kicking to shut the door behind us. I steered her toward the rug, letting her lay down. "You're ok now," I said a bit shakily as I set the backpack aside.

Sandy brought over a bowl of tea while Jack moved to cover her with the blanket. "I'm Ap-,er Sam. That's Jack, and that's Sandy," I said, pointing to them respectively.

"I'm Moond.." the unicorn faltered, then replied, "Andrea. Sorry, I must be more tired than I thought," She said sheepishly.

"You don't have to apologize, Andrea. You're safe, and you're not alone," Sandy replied as she magicked the first aid kit over to her. "Let me take a look at that eye, if it's alright?"

Andrea flinched, but nodded weakly as Sandy began to undo the bandages. We all gasped as we saw what lay beneath. "Who did this to you?" Sandy said with barely suppressed anger at the ruin beneath.

"Ex-boyfriend," Andrea replied. "I left him because he was a drunk. He came by last night and started yelling and hitting me with a beer bottle. I don't think he broke anything, but there isn't a lot that doesn't hurt right now."

Sandy nodded as she did her best to clean up the wounds. "I wish we could find a doc, or I guess a vet would make more sense."

I sat down. "Is there a veterinarian/patient privilege?" I said somewhat bemusedly.

Andrea laughed and winced a bit at the pain. The laugh, however, turned into soft sobs. I moved to lay next to her, letting her lean into me as she cried.

"Sam, I don't think we have much of a choice. Maybe I can call in a favor from a friend," Sandy offered.

"Do what you need to, dear," I replied, doing my best to comfort the injured filly.

Jack sighed and sat back. "What do we do now?" He asked, still trying to get a handle on everything that has happened in the last couple of days.

"Well I reckon we oughtta figure out whether it's worth hidin' or not," I replied. "I mean, sure we may be impersonating an extraterrestrial life here but it's not exactly like we're little green men planning to probe people's recta, either.”

Jack turned a little green at that concept. “Thank you for ramming that delightful image into my brain, Apple Bloom.”

I couldn't help but grin. “You're welcome, Scoot.”

Sandy sat back, the phone suspended next to her ear. “Yeah, Beth, can you hear me? Yeah, it's Sandy. Yes I know I sound wrong. Yes, it's me.” She paused, then blushed deeply. “You passed out the third time I did the sw-” She laughed at the desperate reply on the other end, and I couldn't help but raise a curious and amused eyebrow. “Yes, I need your professional help. No I don't have a pet. It's for a friend.” She nodded and gave my address. “Alright, just bring what you need for equine trauma. It's a surprise that's gonna blow your socks off, but make it quick, please.” She nodded and hung up the phone.

“Any bets?” Jack commented. “Faint? Scream? Yell for a one-way trip to Groom Lake?”

I looked at Sandy and gave a somewhat naughty grin. “Is she the one who taught you the thing you did to me last night?” Sandy blushed but gave her own matching expression. “50 bucks on squee.”

Jack's ears flattened. “Too much information, mare.”

I laughed but explained, “Sandy told me about Elizabeth a few years ago. Besides being... adventurous,” I said teasingly with a glance at Sandy, “She's also a vet and a pegasister par excellence. Remember Fluttershy and Spike in that first episode?” Jack ahhhed. “Bingo. I'll go wake up Andrea and let her know help's on her way.” I worked my way down the stairs, muttering to myself about equine incompatibility, before moving to carefully nuzzle at her shoulder. “Andrea? We've got someone coming to help you out on the way.”

Andrea winced a bit but nodded. “Thanks, Apple Bloom. Is it going to be safe though?” She asked a bit nervously.

“Yeah, she's a friend of Sweetie's and a got a serious brony-on, It should work out,” I explained.

Andrea relaxed as Jack and Sandy came down the stairs. I plopped down onto the lazyboy in the corner near the window, looking through the small gap in the curtains. “Seriously, though, I'm thinking secrecy may be counterproductive. I don't think we want to go broadcast on 60 Minutes II or anything, but maybe we should start videos on the usual brony haunts. Considering, we're duplicates of names rather low on the totem pole, we can't be the only ones this is happening to. Any twisted mind who'd do this to people wouldn't be doing no-name ponies before copying, say, the Mane Six or something. And that's if this is a deliberate action. I mean sure, we got airtime, but Andy got namedropped, what, two? Three times? If this was inflicted on us intentionally, there's either a lot of us out there, or someone's got some very skewed priorities for a mad scientist, magician, whatever.”

Sandy took up the thread. “On the other hoof, if this was a natural.. well, paranatural event, I guess, why us? Why so thorough? I mean I'm remembering things that weren't in the show as if they happened only a few months ago. Why do I remember helping my sister out with a special project? I'm an only child, for Celestia's sake! But I swear, I can remember helping my big sister put together a ball gown for Princess Luna. And botching it all to hell at that,” She said with embarrassment, before shaking her head.

“Sure ain't kiddin',” I replied. “I've got a younger sister and brother, but I can tell you about bein' 'lowed to help with last year's Applebuckin' for the first time. AJ was so proud of me...” I paused, shivering as I tried to blink back a tear. “Hell, I can even tell you I'd never tasted a sweeter cider than after that first day's work.”

Andrea looked at me in confusion. “But they never had any of that in the show,” she said, troubled at the conclusions she was drawing from it.

Jack looked just as troubled. “I think that's just the point, Moondancer. The memories are too perfect, despite them never showing up on that cartoon. I can tell you things that happened, and I haven't seen an episode of it until last night. So what, are we becoming these characters?”

I shook my head. “I dunno. Maybe, but something doesn't quite sound right. Like there's more to it and we're just not seeing it.” There was a knock at the door, and I looked through the gap in the curtain. “Show time.”

Sandy grinned as she stood at the side of the doorway, just out of sight, as she magicked the door open. “Come on in,” she called out.

A tall skinny brunette walked in, carrying an armload of supplies, looking confused. “Where in the hell are you hiding the ho... oh my...”

A shrill screech of total fangirlish ecstacy caused all four of us to flatten our ears, and it was only her professionalism that kept her from dropping her supplies, putting them down on the end table before kneeling down and staring at the incarnation of her obsession. “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod...” she chanted in a manner that sounded rather familiar.

I couldn't help but give Scootaloo a smug smirk. “Pay up.”

“Go buck yourself,” Scoot muttered back. Sandy and Andrea snorted in a bit of laughter at both the veterinarian’s total kiddygasm and the comments between the two of us.

“Beth, can you get a hold of yourself for a moment?” Sandy said with a hint of amused exasperation.

Beth paused, staring in shock. “Sandy? Is that you?”

“For the time being, yes,” she said, “But get it together, you've got a patient.”

Beth looked up and gasped as she rushed to Andrea's side, almost bowling the three of us over. It was rather fascinating to see her go from starstruck squeeing to concerned medical professionalism in the blink of an eye.

Since neither Scootaloo nor I knew anything about equine anatomy, we went back to my office, relaxing a bit. "Well, she seemed like a consummate professional," Scoot snarked as the pegasus plopped down on the beanbag chair.

"Oh yah. Real All Buisness type," I said wryly, before looking at Scoot. "So how are you coping? Being changed and all."

"Kinda freaked out, to be honest, mostly because it does feel right. Being a.. um.. filly," Scoot replied. "You're the one who had gender issues, yet I find myself being far more comfortable than I should be like this."

"So you can handle being a mare?" I ask, a little probingly.

Scoot lowered her head. "If I have to. Just a lot to take in."

"Don't worry, you're not alone in the Former Y-Chrom Bearer's Club at least," I said wryly. "So should we keep looking?" I asked as I grabbed my laptop.

"Probably a good idea. The womenfolk are probably going to be a while," Scoot said dryly before moving to climb onto my computer chair. I took the beanbag chair once more, fumbling with a pair of pens once more to start searching the bronysphere again.

"Huh. Interesting," I murmured to myself when I checked my email. "1500 hits so far. Maybe we got somepony's attention."

Scoot hopped off the chair and came around to look at the screen. "Interesting indeed. It doesn't mean much but it's a start. Should we look at the comments?"

"Sure, why not?" I clicked the link to the video I made, immediately pausing it, for my own rationality if nothing else.

"Garbage, porn link, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam."

Scoot yelled in a whiny voice, "I don't like spam!"

Grinning at what I started, I continued, "Oh hush dear, don't make a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam spam and spam!"

Scoot laughed. "All we need are the horned vikings."

I grinned and got back to searching files, occasionally pushing my mane back. "Maybe that's why I wore that huge ass bow.." I muttered between my teeth as I fought a valiant fight against a keyboard that was not meant for hooves.

An hour passed, and Sweetie trotted into the room. "Hey, you two. Beth said Moondancer's going to be ok."

I sagged a bit in relief. "That's great, dear," I said as I surrendered the current bout with the macbook to start toward the stairs. "You gonna be ok?" I asked Sweetie as I worked my way down the stairs.

"Yeah, I think I will. Even though I'm a little surprised that the vet's answer to the Hippocratic Oath seems to have a loophole when dealing with humans. Or at least that's what Beth's assuring me," She replied a little wryly.

"Even if it doesn't, Pondscum isn't an animal," I said through what felt like a rather vicious grin. Or perhaps it would be more vicious on something less... well, adorable, I guess.

I finished climbing down and turned a corner to look into the eyes of a fanatic. "Uh.. Hi?"

Beth giggled. "So what's your name?"

"I'm Apple Bloom," I said without even thinking of my name. My old name? It was kind of hard to think of myself as Sam anymore.

Beth, on the other hand, looked kind of concerned about how quickly the name of the pony I was impersonating came to my lips.

Sweetie frowned a bit, also concerned. "I think it's getting worse, Beth. Sam and Jack are having the same problem I am, by the sound of it." I noticed that she hesitated on our hominid names, as if struggling to say them and not our proper names.

Proper? This was getting more and more troubling. But before I could say anything, Beth sat down, looking at the two of us. "Are you having any problems remembering anything?" She asked.

"The opposite, actually," I spoke up. "I'm remembering just fine. The problem is, I'm remembering things from my human time, and remembering things that can't be possible. And the latter seem the more vivid, more real, while the human stuff I remember, but I'm struggling to see why some of it's even relevant."

Beth looked very worried about that idea. "That's horrifying," she murmured, shuddering as she imagined the concept.

"It should be, but the disturbing thing is that it isn't really," Sweetie replied. "Bloom's right. Being this way feels right, but I'm not forgetting being human, just... not caring that I'm not anymore."

I started to meander off toward the garage, the other two following me, as I talked, not quite realizing what I was doing as I concentrated more on the conversation than my actions. "For me it's more... I don't know. More of a feeling like I'm being put back together after being assembled wrong for a long time.”

I made my way into the garage, looking around without really looking for anything in particular. For the most part, it was filled with either stuff I had inherited from my grandparents, or failed hobbies (in that they either couldn't keep my interest or were too expensive to bother with).

In hindsight, I think I tried convincing myself I just came down to pace and think. Really. And if you believe that, I've got the deed to a bridge in Manehatten I'll sell ya, really cheap.

So many failed hobbies, so much useless junk. I meandered through the piles, having lost my train of conversation, not even hearing the foot and hoofsteps behind me. I paused, however, when I saw the only thing in here that wasn't a whimsical purchase or salvage from some garage or estate sale. I moved over and yanked a sheet with my teeth, revealing a positively ancient toolbox, and an honest-to-Celestia forge and anvil.

My great great... great? grandfather was a blacksmith in Old Colorado City around the turn of the century; the 20th, not the 21st. He had handed down his forge to my grandfather, but my father's path lead to soldiery, not smithing, so it spent time in a storage facility. I got it out of storage, mostly because I got tired of paying the rental, and read up on it, but never bothered with it.

“Apple Bloom?” Sweetie asked me, nuzzling my shoulder a bit to get my attention. “Everything ok?”

I blinked a bit, then in a nonsequiteur, even to myself, I blurted out, “A ramp.”

Everyone else looked at me in confusion. I probably would have looked at myself in confusion, were it not a bit difficult to do, but my mouth ran off without me. “I'm getting tired of fighting those stairs. How about we put a ramp up instead?” By we, I really meant I, but my mouth kept going on me. “And it'd help Moondancer too.” And before I could get a response, I grabbed a tape measure in my teeth and scooted past them to go measure the stairway.

I couldn't quite tell what I was doing, precisely, but I knew it felt right somehow. But more importantly, it'd keep me from busting my face on the floor from falling down the damn stairs every day. It was going to be a bit steep but far more quadruped-friendly than the stairs would be. I saw everyone else out of the corner of my eye, but for the life of me, I couldn't wrench my attention away from the measurements.

I finished measuring up the stairwell, before galloping back to the garage. Hm. There was some plywood I had leftover from some repairs that I was too lazy to bring back but not enough... Wait. I looked at an el-cheapo dresser and assessed it. I figured I could dismantle it and scavenge some of the parts. Can always paint over it at a later date. And it's not exactly like I could get much use out of a dresser anymore. I grabbed an electric screwdriver, and a claw hammer, and started to work breaking up the furniture. The hammer was surprisingly easy to use, though as with the package the other day, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how.

But the screwdriver stymied me. Not for the first time since my metamorphosis did I vocally curse the lack of digits. To hell with it. I fumbled with the cursed device only long enough to get the head of the screws out before yanking them out with the claw hammer, getting a bit of satisfaction in defeating the obstinate pieces of hardware.

Shuttling back and forth between garage and hallway, I got the collection of lumber, a pail of nails and a saw assembled. I hummed to myself as I began to craft, feeling a peculiar sort of bemused contentment by erecting the counter to the thrice-damned deathtraps the contractors built to keep me from the comfort of my bedroom and office.

I shook off some sawdust, swaying just a bit as I looked on with accomplishment at my victory over the never-to-be-sufficiently-condemned stairs. It was only a touch to my flank that made me realize two things: My compatriots had been watching me in astonishment the whole time, and that whole time was a rather considerable chunk at that, as moonlight came in a window.

I blinked a bit owlishly as I turned toward the touch, seeing Sweetie staring in shock at my butt. "Did I sit on something?" I asked exhaustedly before assessing the ramp.

It wasn't pretty, but without a sander and some paint, pretty wasn't going to be in the equation. The roughness actually would be a bit of a blessing, for our hooves to get better purchase on the ramp. I'd still want to paint it, but maybe just a spray paint or the like. Carpet could work, but would be a bitch to clean, I imagined, so thought a rough, painted surface would be sufficient.

I felt a more firm poke at my leg and turned toward Sweetie, swaying unsteadily. "What?"

"That!" Sweetie replied, shocked but with a sound of happiness.

I almost grumbled, wondering what I'd have to clean off, before freezing as the heretofore unblemished horizon of my flank was now emblazoned with a Triangle square with a hammer and saw crossed under it like the Jolly Roger of Contractors.

I blinked again, swaying a bit as I tried to focus on that spot, before looking to the other side of my hindquarters, seeing the mark repeated on the Starboard as well.

"Yay. Go me," I said with punchdrunk cheer, before I tipped over on my side, blacking out before I hit the ground.

Chapter IV: Day 5

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Tuesday, May 5th 2020

It was comfortably warm when I started to worm my way to wakefulness, though the feel of warm fur against my back certainly helped. I smiled a bit as I nestled a bit closer to Sweetie Belle, sighing happily as I enjoyed waking up. A very shocking thing, to be sure, but very pleasant, to awaken contentedly instead of clawing my way to being awake with the enthusiasm of a post-hibernation bear.

Nothing particularly mattered to me at the moment, not my near-fugue state that put me out the previous night, nor the fact that I had hooves and a totally different gender than a week ago, one shared with the filly I found myself within a loving embrace. Just the fact that I was comfortable, felt wonderful, was in said embrace with said filly, and that the world outside may have not existed at all for all I cared, and it made for a rather nice morning. As an eye opened and saw the alarm clock and the fact that it was about 2PM, I only corrected myself in that it made for a nice afternoon.

A shiver rippled through me as I felt a nuzzle at my ears. “Sleep well, Apple?” Sweetie asked me as I mentally darned my quiescent hormones to a timeout in an uncomfortable chair. Pushing the reset button on puberty was just a tad annoying, but I couldn't dig up more than a mild annoyance with it.

“Very well, dear,” I replied, sighing happily. “I slept like a whole dang downed forest.”

Sweetie giggled a bit. “So I noticed. Congratulations, by the way.”

I paused in confusion. “Wha? For what?” I asked, tilting my head slightly.

She smiled and tapped a hoof against my leg, before pulling up the blanket to reveal the new decoration.

“Huh. Well if that don't beat all... When'd I get that?” I said, mystified. I had always wondered just what my mark would look like. They never showed it on the cartoon, so I guess they got that aspect right.

She blinked. “You were a bit out of it last night, dear,” Sweetie admitted. “You were building a ramp. And by the time you were done, you passed out with that on you.”

“Huh. Wow. Neat,” I said, my heart dancing and leaping in ecstacy, but my mind was too fascinated to let it hold sway. Or maybe it was just the filly I am doing the former, and the mare that I was being the latter.

“I thought you'd have been more excited,” Sweetie said, a tad disgruntled.

“Oh I am... I think it's just the disparity between my old biped form and this one that's keeping it just a bit abstracted at a moment. Or maybe it's just because I haven't woken up yet,” I confessed.

“Well how about brunch?” Sweetie asked, nuzzling the back of my head, before disentangling herself from me and hopping out of bed.

I smiled and hopped out of the bed as well, following her down the ramp. “Wow. Nice work.”

“Congratulating yourself?” Sweetie said with a grin. “Only took you an hour and a half.”

I paused. “Wow. I honestly don't remember doing it.” I tapped a hoof against it and chuckled, before following her down into the kitchen. I noticed Beth was nowhere to be found, and Moondancer was reading on the couch. “Heya, Moon. Sleep well?”

She raised her head and nodded. “Yeah. I still feel like I've been run over by a semi, but at least I'm better than I was.”

I nodded. “Where's Beth?” I asked. I almost imagined having to get the cops to pry her away from us.

“Oh, she went to go get some supplies and a few other things,” Moondancer explained.

“Ahh, Had to be something,” I said wryly, before moving to the kitchen, helping Sweetie as best as I could. “Hm. I swear, I'm gonna have to make some prosthetic hands,” I said wryly. “Should I make a prosthetic chainsaw too?”

Sweetie rolled her eyes. “Only if the tree out back starts to become overly amorous. You and your cheesy movies.”

I grinned. “Thank Celestia for 'flix,” I replied, before carrying a bowl on my back and one in my teeth out to the living room. I swing over to Moondancer, letting her take the one off my back, before setting mine on the lazyboy and hopping in, munching contentedly. “You know,” I said after finishing a mouthful, “This would be perfect if it wasn't for the whole mysterious metamorphosis into a non-society-friendly form.”

Moondancer chuckled a bit. “Just relaxing, putting together our own little herd?”

“Wouldn't we need a stallion for that?” Sweetie said dryly as she hopped onto the lazyboy next to me.

Evidently Sweetie worships the god of the spittake, as I lost it as she said that comment. “Ugh. You had to say that when I was eating,” I coughed out, shaking my head a bit.

Sweetie laughed and shook her head as she started to eat, amused at her little prank.

As I wiped my face with the back of one foreleg, giving Sweetie a mock-annoyed glare, Scootaloo meandered in from the basement, wings stretching out a bit clumsily. “Heya. Sleep well?” I asked her.

Scoot shook her head mutely as she shambled to the kitchen.

I frowned a bit before taking the last bite, then grabbed the bowl and moved to the kitchen. "You ok, Scoot?"

The pegasus glared at me, then shook her head. "No. Between changing, nightmares, and my brain playing tricks on me, not particularly."

I sat back and cocked my head, deciding to play the safer route. "What kind of nightmares?"

Scoot grabbed the remainder of the salad, not replying for a few moments, before sagging a bit. "I was like this, with a bunch of other ponies. We were all in front of some ugly lookin' critter. Looked like someone salvaged what was left in the bits bin."

"Bits bin?" I asked.

"Oh, forgot you're not a gamer. Whenever you get minis from some games, you get extra pieces, usually multiple types of weapons, armor pieces, stuff like that," Scootaloo explained. "Well, this guy looked like what was left in the bin after someone put a bunch of monsters together."

I froze as I stared at her, but she didn't notice as she continued to explain. "Anyway, the thing was taunting us after he broke a few of the guards. He then said he was growing tired of playing with us and was going to go find somepony more interesting. He started chanting something about a high score or something like that."

"Five score, divided by four," I said, unable to keep the tremble out of my voice, before rushing back to the living room, almost shouting, "Buck me!"

Blowing past everyone, I stormed up the ramp to my office, grabbed my laptop in my teeth carefully, then raced back before hopping into the lazyboy, tapping frantically at keys. Everyone was staring at me but I was too occupied with fighting the keyboard and touchpad. As Scootaloo was about to yell something at me, I turned it toward her. "Was this the thing you saw in the dream?" I asked shakily.

Scoot jerked back a bit. "Yeah. Close enough anyway."

I closed my eyes as Sweetie and Moondancer hissed upon seeing the picture. "Buck me sideways," I whispered.

I thought for a few moments, while Scootaloo stood confused and a bit uncomfortable, while Sweetie and Moondancer looked worried. "I've got a thought. Scoot, come into the kitchen for a second." I had a very bad feeling starting to build, but I had to know, and this was the only way to be sure.

"Ok, Scootaloo, I've got a couple questions. They're gonna sound a bit weird, but just try to answer them as best as you can, ok?"

Scoot nodded hesitantly. "Alright."

"Alright. Can you name some of your elementary school teachers?"

Scoot blinked at the strange question. "What does have to do with the living jigsaw puzzle?"

"I'll get to it, but please, answer the question."

She looked at me, then tilted her head. "Alright. I know 6th grade was Mr. Jackson. Real jackass there. 5th grade was two different teachers, Mrs. Andrews, who left on maternity leave, so the school year got finished by Mrs. Mathers." She paced, annoyed by the seeming non-sequiteur. "Before that was Mr. Michaels, Ms. Cheerilee, Mrs. Dam? Something like that."

But at that point, I stopped listening as my heart fell to my hooves. I didn't interrupt her, as I tried to think of a few more questions. Each one only reinforced my hypothesis.

"Ok, what is this? What's with all the questions?" Scootaloo said, exasperated.

"Back to the teachers for a moment. Can you describe Ms. Cheerilee?" I asked.

Scootaloo looked at me in annoyance. "Yeah. Really nice mare, purplish coat with pretty whi..." She went pale all of a sudden as what she said started to register.

I grabbed the laptop and brought up a wiki, showing a picture of a particular mare. "Like this?"

Scootaloo's hindquarters hit the floor as she stared in shock. "What the hell?" she asked.

Sweetie and Moondancer walked in, trying to figure out what I was doing. I closed the laptop and sighed. "Damnit. Well, that kinda narrows the options I guess. But the only ones left are sounding really grim."

Sweetie spoke up, "What are you talking about?"

I looked at her and sighed. "I had a theory. Until the last couple days, Scootaloo's never seen a single episode of the cartoon. So how in the hell is she dreaming of Discord? How did she have a teacher who looks and is named after a character from the cartoon? I mean we've all seen the show, so we could have just been playing along with the situation, and that some brony scientist or wizard or nutjob transformed us, and what we saw in the cartoon was just filling in the gaps." I started pacing in a circle. "But she's never seen it. Hell, we haven't even gotten to the episode where she shows up. Discord doesn't even show up until the second season. So how can she know? Only if she /is/ Scootaloo. My memories theoretically may have been fogged by fanon and misremembered episodes, but she doesn't have that problem. So about the only hypotheses I've got left are that we were either killed and reincarnated, or transformed. But both of those are based on the only premise that fits the facts. Despite our joking about it or anything else, we actually are what we are now. And always have been, despite a quarter century on two legs."

Scootaloo still looked rather pale, but asked, "How?"

"Discord," Moondancer replied bitterly. "Backstabbing bastard and chaos god." She gave a mocking little chuckle. "Shows up in the second season pilot, after you three woke him up. Celestia turned him into a statue ages before it starts, nearly tears Equestria apart before the Elements end up turning him back into a statue. He gets loose later, claiming he changed his ways. According to the finale, the treacherous little garden gnome backstabs Celestia, and the series ends with him finishing off the last of the Elements. S'why everyone thinks the ending was a bunch of crap. Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies."

I shook my head a little, as if something didn't quite sound right, but I didn't want to interrupt Moondancer's explanation.

Scootaloo sat back, shaking her head to get her coherency back. "I can imagine why that would piss some people off. It's kind of like that Battalion series last year. Got canned on a cliffhanger and the station almost got hit with a lawsuit." She paused, then frowned. "But why?"

"Who knows what that bastardized block of basalt does anything, except maybe just for the lulz," I said a bit heatedly, then paused, "Though spending a millenium in masonry confinement would probably piss me off a bit too. Decided to take it out on Celestia and everyone else who got in his way."

Sweetie stared at me for a moment, blinking. "Branching out into alliteration, love?"

I paused, then shrugged a bit. "It sounded good."

"At least she's not calling me things that don't exist anymore," Scootaloo muttered under her breath.

I gave Scoot a raspberry before sitting back. "Seriously, though, I can't think of what we can do about it right now. Except maybe try to find out if there's more than just us. There almost has to be."

Sweetie rested her head against my neck. "Maybe we should make more of those videos."

Moondancer looked at us. "What?'

I looked back at her. "We were thinking about making more videos, maybe get other pony-morphs' attention, let them know they're not alone."

Moondancer shrank a bit as she thought about the reply we made to her plea for help and replied in a slightly muted voice, "That's a good idea. I know I really appreciated what you did for me."

I chuckled a little, though the catch in my chest made it seem a bit forced. "Hey, happy to be of service."

Sweetie looked at me. "Alright, director, when do you want to start?"

I grinned a bit. "Tomorrow? We can think of what we want to do with these videos besides paint a big sign for others saying 'You are not alone'."

Scootaloo tilted her head a bit, then shrugged. "Advice? 'Ponyfication for dummies'?"

"That's actually a good idea," Sweetie replied. "Can get Beth's help in figuring how to take care of ourselves?"

"Well, we'll need to figure that out ourselves too. After all, we're not exactly your average horses," Moondancer replied.

I nodded and looked out into space thoughtfully. "I should probably turn the garage into a stage or something. Who knows, we could make this a professional thing," I said wryly. "Pony Morph Crusaders Productions. All proceeds go to sponsor all things Equestrian."

Moondancer tilted her head in amusment. "Four days and you want to start Ponywood? What the hell, why not. It gives us something constructive to do, and maybe it will help out somehow."

Sweetie chuckled a bit against my neck. "So Apple Bloom, movie mogul, and Sweetie Belle, military equipment magnate," she joked. "Ambitious, but why the hell not? Isn't what I ever considered when I was growing up, but maybe that's why I don't have my mark yet."

I grinned a little, before moving to hop off the lazyboy, heading out to the garage. "Guess I'd better get started."

Sweetie followed me. "I'd better help you. Otherwise you'll just work yourself unconscious again."

I blushed a little but didn't contradict her, as we started to muscle and magic the various bric-a-brac and nicknacks out of the way. "Do you have a camcorder or something, love?" I asked after we finished moving just about everything except the forge, which we came to the consensus that it was going to have to stay where it is. Heck, we could probably use the anvil as a camera stand for the time being.

“I've got a few things I was able to snag when AFN was trying to offload some old gear. Nothing spectacular, some of it can't even handle HD, but it should work for what we're going to do with it, I suppose. Think all we'd need is a composite or component adapter. We could probably get Beth to grab one for us,” Sweetie replied.

“I've got an old TV tuner card we can use,” I replied. “Grabbed it back when I was making...” I paused and blushed in embarrassment at the absurdity.

Sweetie smirked as she said dryly, “Porn?”

“Ugh. Please,” I protested. “No, PMVs. Just realizing how... well, kind of ironic it is. A Pony making PMVs? Just kinda weird.”

Scootaloo and Beth stepped into the garage. "Hey, you two," Beth said as she looked around. "What're you doing here?"

Sweetie smiled and looked at Beth. "We were thinking about making some videos to let others know. We can't be the only ones, after all."

Beth stifled a squee, causing Scootaloo to roll her eyes. "How can I help?" the veterinarian asked enthusiastically.

"I've got a bunch of camera gear and stuff in the storage facility by Ft. Carson. I was wondering if you'd be willing to go grab it for me?" Sweetie asked.

Beth grinned. "Certainly."

Sweetie gave her the address. "My keys are in my uniform. Apple's room," she said.

Beth blinked then blushed a bit, giggling. "Ooook..." She left before I could explain the situation, although, I guessed there wasn't really anything I could deny about it.

"I didn't think she was a AppleBelle shipper," I joked, causing Scoot to look at me confused, and Sweetie to blush.

I looked at Scoot. "How's going? Any better?"

Scootaloo nodded. "Yeah a bit. It just rattled me, that's all."

"Yeah, I'm trying not to think about it too much, but it's not working too well," I admitted. "I mean reincarnation... spooky thought."

"Why not transformed?" Scootaloo asked. "You said that's a possibility."

"That makes it worse," I said. "It means the last twenty five years never should have happened in the first place. Sure, except for a few things, I wouldn't miss them that much, but the ones that do matter..." I said, eyes wandering toward Sweetie Belle.

"You don't think we'd have gotten together before?" Sweetie asked, curious.

"I don't know. We were just fillies at the time. We never had the chance one way or another. I just hate the thought that we'd have to thank that Celestia-cursed lawn gnome," I explained, a little sheepish.

Scootaloo threw a foreleg over my shoulder and said, "Then think of it this way. Thank him, then blow his buckin' head off. You're golden."

I snorted softly and shook my head. "How about I blow his head off, then thank him. Just in case."

Scoot grinned. “Better safe than sorry,” she agreed. “So what's the plan?”

Sweetie paced a bit, ear twitching as she considered the options. “What would be the best option? Just a video saying 'we're here' and where to get a hold of us online if they have any news, theories, whatever?”

I frowned slightly as I weighed the options. “Probably not a bad idea. I could throw together a site and forum for those morphed to post, and take suggestions for potential episodes?”

Scoot nodded. “I like that idea. It won't have the kooks coming to swarm us or anything, but it'll at least get us out where others can see that there's more like them.”

“Precisely,” I agreed, smiling. “We won't need a whole lot at this point, but if you can work something up, Sweetie, I'll throw together a site.” I trotted back to grab my laptop and brought it back to the 'studio', as Sweetie and Scootaloo bounced ideas back and forth between the two of them.

Setting things up wasn't exactly easy, as I continued to condemn the developer of the modern QWERTY keyboard to a day shoveling out a barn or two for making them so unpony-friendly. But by the time Beth had returned with a bunch of miscellaneous camera gear and other useful little tools, I had managed to set up the official Pony Morph Crusaders site. “How's this look?” I said as I turned the laptop toward my fellow four-hoofers.

“Not bad so far. We can do some more work on it later, but I think Scootaloo and I have a rough script to work with. Think you can be a camerapo.. person?” Sweetie asked.

Beth laughed at the inadvertent slip of the tongue, but nodded. “Absolutely.”

I took a look at one of the cameras. “This one should work. Digital output so I can do the editing right on my laptop.”

Beth nodded. “Alright, let me make sure I know how to get this thing to work,” she said, picking up the device and doublechecking the controls. She nodded as she removed the lens cap, set up a tripod and aimed it toward the 'set'. She smiled in approval as the camera autofocused on the pair of ponies. “Great,” she said. “I think we're ready.”

I nodded and plugged the camera into the laptop, booting up the capture program. “Alright, director,” I joked, heading toward the set to look at the script Scootaloo and Sweetie bashed together, reading it over and nodding. “Yeah, I think this is gonna work.”

"Hello, everyone," Sweetie said as she looked into the camera. "No, you are not hallucinating, and this is not a prank. As of the last four days, my friends and I have been ponies."

Scootaloo looked a little nervous but spoke up. "This is the first in a series of videos to let people know that we are here, that if there is more of us out there, that they are not alone."

I chipped in, "And those new to the four-hoofed game, we're also going to share any tips to adjusting to life as a different species, care of our new bods, and any other news we can think of."

The recording continued as we introduced ourselves to the odd few who would see this video and not know who we were, just in case. We waved Beth in, and she offered to answer, or at least try to figure out any medical questions ponies submitted.

I then caught myself rambling about some of the adjustments I found myself having to make and a few tips on how to counter the lack of opposable thumbs.

"Well, we're about out of time," Sweetie said, "but please, anypony who wants to shout out or get in contact of others, don't hesitate to send a message to-"

I stepped forward and replied, "ponymorphcrusaders@pmc.net.us, or our site, PMCNet. And please, don't give up hope."

Scootaloo stepped to my left as Sweetie moved to my right, and we all said at the same time, "You are not alone."

Beth stopped the recording and smiled. "That was awesome," she said, her voice squeaking just a bit like a certain cerulean pegasus.

I grinned a bit and said, "I'll edit the video and post it. Hopefully somepony will see it." I smiled as I started the tedious work of checking the recording, cutting out some of the flubs and the like and encoding it to a compatible format. Sweetie curled up against me, chipping in occasional suggestions, while Scootaloo and Beth went to make dinner and talk about ideas for future videos.