The Conversion Bureau: Last Man Standing

by Windchaser

First published

What is there that is left for a human in a world full of ponies?

In the many years after the Conversion Bureaus' shutdown, Twilight Sparkle is tasked by the Princesses with finding the last living human on Earth, Isaac Hamilton, and learning the story of his past. What she hears is a tale of loss, tragedy, joy, and the discovery of one's place in the world. But how much longer would that place last with what Twilight has to tell him?

Chapter 1

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“Sir, you appear to have a visitor,” the synthesized voice reverberated throughout the house, emanating from speakers located in every room. The message reached the ears of the man sitting at his desk in a dimly lit room, tapping away at a keyboard to his computer.

“Ah. Who might it be this time?” the man called back without removing his attention from the screen in front of him.

“It appears to be a unicorn, sir. Shall I ask her to return when you are not busy?” He leaned back in his chair, running his hand through his scraggy head of greying hair.

“That’s quite alright. I needed a break anyway. Let her in if you don’t mind,” he responded. “And can you boil up some water for tea? Raspberry for me, if you would be so kind.”

“Of course, sir.” The speaker clicked off, filling the room with silence once more. He stared at the screen again, analyzing his progress.

“Hello? Anypony here?” a shy, feminine voice called out, accompanied by a soft and apprehensive clip-clop that came from the living room. The man pushed himself out of his chair to meet his guest, as it was the polite thing to do. Making his way out of his office and into the better lit hallway, he continued out into the small living room of his house. His eyes settled on a small purple unicorn, her deep lavender eyes gazing back at him. He walked up to her, hand outstretched.

“Pleasure to meet you, miss…?”

“Sparkle. Twilight Sparkle. And you must be Isaac Hamilton.” She held out her hoof and they exchanged their greetings.

“The one and only. Now, what brings you to my humble little abode?”

“I have a message from the princesses. It’s pretty urgent.”

Isaac walked over and fell back into one of the sofas with a thwomp and looked back at the unicorn. “Interesting. Would you care for some tea? I have the water heating up right now.”

“Do you have dandelion?” the mare asked.

“Yes, we do. It shall be ready in a few minutes.” Twilight jumped at the unexpected response from the speakers just above her head.

“Is that an AI?” she gasped. “I thought they all got decommissioned!”

“Nah. I snagged SyRE before I left the IHSA, and he’s a special one at that.”

“SyRE?” Twilight repeated, confused. “That’s a funny name. It sounds like you are addressing it as if it’s royalty.”

Isaac let out a small chuckle. “Well, I have plenty of names for him. ‘Bucket-o-bolts’, ‘bit-brain’, ‘slave’…” With the last remark, a teacup shot out from the kitchen, straight at Isaac’s head. He saw it coming as he was speaking as well as from the corner of his eye. He ducked, almost feeling the wind of the teacup flying over his head and shattering on the wall beside him. Twilight could only giggle. “HEY! I didn’t say you could do that!” Isaac fumed.

“I do not appreciate being called ‘slave’, sir.”

“Quite the sensitive computer you are. Bah, fine. What I was saying, before I was so RUDELY interrupted,” Isaac shot a glare towards the kitchen, “Is that his name is actually an acronym. Synthetic Recognition Emulator, or SyRE. He’s not much of a worker, but more of a thinker. He can have opinions and ideas, but I never let him do my work for me.”

Twilight still looked slightly confused, deciding instead to change the subject. “Well then, onto business. Since your meeting with Luna and Celestia, we’ve been getting fewer and fewer reports of human sightings.” Isaac leaned forward, his eyes sparkling with interest. “A year ago, the princesses commissioned a spell study from the Canterlot Unicorn Academy, tasked with determining how many humans are left in the wilds, and where they reside.

“Pony emissaries were sent out to the few we detected, offering them homes, food, and even ponification if they desired to do so. Isaac,” she held out a long pause, “most of them chose ponification after hearing that I’m going to tell you, while the others… well… they took their own lives instead of facing it.” The words hung heavy in the air. Isaac knew exactly what she was about to say, refusing to admit it to himself. “We double and triple checked our readings, but unfortunately they all pointed to the same thing. You are the last human on Earth.”

Isaac leaned forward, staring at the floor. He ran his hands through his greying hair, taking in the new information. Twilight looked at him, expecting something more than just silence, but the room stayed quiet for a few minutes. A loud whistle of steam came from inside the kitchen, and then the sound of water being poured into mugs.

“Sir, your tea is ready.” A small robotic cart drove out with two steaming cups of tea, seated on its flat head. The small motors buzzing away as the contraption presented the unicorn with her steaming cup of tea. Twilight took hers, and whispered a quiet “Thank you,” as the cart drove over to Isaac. He took his tea and took a long sip of the soothing drink.

“Isaac, are you okay? I’m getting a little worried,” Twilight asked.

Isaac shot a glare up to the purple unicorn, a gaze that filled Twilight with dread. “Me? Oh, I’m fine. Just peachy. I was just told my entire species is extinct. Not a big deal, oh no,” he said, coldly. “Tell me, Twilight Sparkle. Tell me how you think I am. How do you think I’m feeling right now?”

Twilight fidgeted for a moment. “I, uh... I think that you must feel terrible, an-”

“Terrible? That doesn’t even begin to DESCRIBE IT!" the man yelled, rising to his feet, looking down on the terrified unicorn. “You walk into my home, cheerful as can be, and tell me, ‘Good day, sir! Oh, by the way, your species is dead. Have a nice day!’” Isaac paced back and forth, his hands clutching his head. He moaned angrily as he swung his arms down, his fists clenched so tight his nails were digging into his skin. He glared back at the unicorn. She was trembling on the couch, her mouth slack, her eyes filled with terror as she stared at him. Tears began to form at the corners of her eyes as she tried to mutter something, but all that came out was a feeble squeak of fear. The sight eased his temper; he shouldn’t be taking it out on her. She did nothing wrong.

"I’m just... ugh.” Isaac fell back into his chair, the blood draining from his red face as his temper began to ebb away. “I’m... I’m just so tired of this.” Isaac glanced over to the cup of tea before him, and took another long sip.

“I must apologize, Miss Sparkle, for that outburst. I had suspected for a while since the bombing that I was the last one, but when confronted with the fact, it’s a little... taxing on the nerves.” He set the teacup down on the table in front of him, his mind deep in thought. He stared at his hands for a moment. They shook a small bit from the swath of emotions that filled him.

Twilight opened her mouth to speak, but was quickly cut off, as if Isaac knew exactly what she was about to say. “And no, I can’t get ponified. It’s... complicated.”

“Isaac,” Twilight began. “There’s more.” Her horn lit up, filling the room with a soft lavender glow. Her saddlebag’s flap lifted open, and a red folder levitated over to his lap. The cover was marked with warnings such as ‘TOP SECRET’ and ‘FOR EYES ONLY’. Isaac looked up at Twilight, who nodded in return. He opened it, and examined the contents within.

“Each one of the humans also was asked to read this. None of this is public knowledge yet."

Flipping through the pages, a single word carried a sense of importance throughout each document. “Twilight, what is this? ‘Purification’?”

Twilight took another sip of her tea before she set it down onto the table and locked eyes with Isaac. “Do you remember back before our kind came to your world? Before Equestria was where it is today?”

Isaac scratched at the stubble on his chin as he raked his memories. “Yeah, a bit. What about it? And what does it have to do with this ‘Purification’?”

“Then I’m sure you remember that disease that was appearing on your planet, correct? Red Plague, I believe?” Isaac’s mind lit up at the name.

“I remember it. What’s its significance?”

“Our worlds were linked, even before we came. They were tiny bridges between our worlds, so small that finding one was almost impossible on your own. Typically, you could tell where one was by what was coming through it. On your side, they manifested as pockets of life sprouting up where none had been before. For us…” Twilight paused. “They were pockets of disease and death. Areas around those points in Equestria were poisonous and often harmful just by being near it.”

Isaac leaned forward and picked up his tea cup and took a sip. “Couldn’t you close them? You’re magic, aren’t you? You and your princesses could just close those and clean up whatever came through.”

“We tried that, Isaac. But for every one we closed, more opened, spreading those patches of malaise throughout Equestria. It was just about a little over a year before we appeared that we encountered the Red Plague in Equestria. The princesses saw the frightening potential of it should it inherit the magical properties of Equestria. So for the rest of that year, they decided instead of treating the visible wounds, they would deal with the source of it. The spell they wove opened one of the bridges wide enough for our entire land to fit through, appearing where the corresponding bridge existed in your world, which happened to be the middle of the ocean.”

“Hold on a second. Wouldn’t coming closer to the source of the Plague give it more opportunities to mutate to what your princesses wanted to avoid?” Isaac objected.

“Technically, that is what most of us who knew the details of it were worried of. But when our worlds joined, the bridges were broken, so the Plague couldn’t sneak into Equestria the way it had beforehand. When we perfected the Ponification serum, we made sure that the disease was eliminated in the process. We’re naturally immune to the most common strain that infected your people, but we couldn’t let the sources that spawned it persist to create a plague that could harm us.

“The Purification Spell: the single greatest piece of arcane spellcraft ever conceived by anypony in our history. Harnessing the casting power of millions upon millions of unicorns, a wave of energy would wash over the planet, refining everything the spell touched to the base elements that comprised it, and imbuing it with natural life energy. When the spell is finished, all that would remain would be a world virtually untouched by human hands. A clean slate. Everypony would take shelter in Equestria when the spell is cast, to avoid the effects. This is why we’ve been pushing to get the last of humanity poified. So you can survive.”

Twilight expected Isaac to take more time reflecting on the new information she had presented to him. “When is this spell supposed to be cast?” he said.

“One week from today. Believe me, Princess Celestia has been trying to put it off for as long as possible, but if she waits any longer, even the Purification wouldn’t be enough.”

“And all human technology, architecture, the quintessence of our entire history will be erased from the Earth, correct?”

“I’m sorry, but yes, that is correct.”

Isaac folded his hands in front of his face in quiet contemplation. After a few minutes, he spoke again. “Is there anything else you need me for? I told you my stance on ponification, regardless of this ‘Purification’ spell.”

“Well, we knew you were part of the IHSA, and we wanted to know what was going on there before the bombing. I-if you don’t mind, of course.”

After a few moments of silence, Isaac responded. “Sure, why not. But after it’s over, I want to be left alone for a while. I have a lot of work to do, and apparently, only a week to do it all in. Where would you like to start?” Isaac leaned back in his chair, and took another sip of his tea.

Twilight Sparkle levitated a clipboard and a pen from her saddlebags. The moment the pen touched the paper, it immediately started scribbling notes on the things the voice recorder couldn't get. "I would like you to start from when you first heard about the Bureaus. Knowing what led you to the IHSA is very useful for knowing the circumstances of..."

"I know," Isaac cut Twilight off before she could finish. "It really all started when I got a message from a friend of mine."


[Many years prior]

Isaac meticulously picked at the scummy food littering his plate. The package supposedly said “Chicken Parmesan”, but it looked more like some sort of gelatinous swamp-monster his mother was trying to feed to him. Unsurprisingly, his appetite was not with him. If it had been at any point earlier, it ran for the hills at the sight of the meal before him. This was the common fare for his family: ultra-processed synthetic meats, fruits, and vegetables. Rumor even had it that the water would even light on fire from the faucet.

“I’m not hungry,” Isaac mumbled, pushing the meal away from him. The way it jiggled as he did so would have elicited a response from his gag reflex, had he not been so used to the sight.

“Oh… well I’m sure your father will be more than happy to eat your helping,” his mother, Susan replied. She sighed, looking down past her blond curls at the plate, the food virtually untouched. Her eyes locked with Isaac’s, and mouthed ‘I don’t blame you’.

“Well I’ll HAVE to now that it’s already cooked up,” a voice grumbled from the room over. “You’re gonna wither away if you don’t eat anything, Isaac. Gotta grit your teeth through it, jus’ like everyone else does.” Isaac’s father, Jeff Hamilton, spent all of his evenings sitting in the same exact chair, flipping through the hundreds of channels their television received.

“I think I’m just gonna go to sleep,” Isaac mumbled.

“Can you tell Erika that dinner’s ready when you get up there?” Susan called from the kitchen.

“Sure,” Isaac moaned back as he rose from the rickety wooden chair. He shuffled his feet along the hard wooden floor to the stairs as he slogged his way up. He was exhausted from another day of fruitless job searching. But at least he tried, and it kept his parents off his back for living at home.

He reached the top of the stairs, the old house creaking underneath every step he took. He leaned up against the wall next to a door and knocked a single time. “Erika, mom says dinner is ready.”

“Just a minute~” she sang. Erika was Isaac’s younger sister, still enrolled in college. Her unusually optimistic attitude was grating to Isaac whenever she was around, but Isaac always cared for his little sister. The door swung open, momentarily blinding Isaac with the viciously bright colors of the decorations of Erika’s room.

“I wouldn’t touch it if I were you,” Isaac mumbled as she sailed right past him.

She spun back around as she reached the stairs, giving him a wry smile. “I’ll take what I can get!”

Isaac sighed and continued to his own room. Just down the hall from Erika, his own room was much darker and plainer than his sister’s by comparison. Books and papers littered any open floor real-estate, his desk covered in half-empty drinks and snack wrappers. On most nights, he would spend countless hours staring at his large computer screen, working on collaborative projects with his old college buddies, chatting, or just checking out how miserable the rest of the world was compared to him. It was one way he could cheer himself up.

Falling onto his bed, he buried his head in the solitary pillow, trying to let sleep take him. Unfortunately for him, his room was right above the television, and his father liked his volume unnecessarily high. Every night he tried to get to sleep before midnight, he would be forced to tune into the audio of whatever caught his father’s fancy for the evening. Tonight, it seemed, nothing could hold his attention for too long before he would change the channel.

<Welcome back to StormWatch. We’ve been following Hurricane Pauline for a few hours now, and in just the time from when it was formally classified as a hurricane three hours ago, it has already escalated into a devastating category five storm, marking the sixth of these mega-hurricanes this season.>


<Unemployment now stands at an unhealthy thirty-nine point five percent, a substantial rise of three percent since last month, mostly in the IT fields and manufacturing. AIs have finally been integrated into virtually all workplaces, bringing productivity and efficiency through the roof. Protests and demonstrations have been taking place outside of the very places employing these new virtual workers, the old workers demanding their jobs back.>


<Riots once again populate many of the countries of the Middle East, further adding to the tensions for energy in the global market. The oil shortage shows no signs of slowing down, as wells are pumped dry and fewer fresh ones are found with each passing day.>


<With the sudden emergence of the new disease now referred to as ‘Red Plague’ in central Europe last year, many small towns are still locked down in quarantine. Major cities are encouraging less travel to the rural areas, where the disease is thought to have mutated from industrial runoff basins.>


The sounds of metal crashing, gunshots, and explosions now rattled the walls of his room. Jeff must’ve found some sort of cop drama to keep his attention. A more distinct rattling met his ears, clearly not coming from the television downstairs. Isaac pushed himself up and reached to his bed-side table, grasping his phone and bringing it to his face, half buried in the pillow. He had a new message.

[Meet at the diner tomorrow at 2. –Will]


William Rathmore was a good friend of Isaac’s from high school. They were known to be troublemakers throughout their school career, winding up on the wrong end of the Principal's attitude more than a few times. Even though they ended up at different colleges, they still kept in touch through online chatting. And, it seemed to Isaac, that Will had yet to give up his habits if he was intercepting private files from his home computer.

Will’s head popped out from the crowd, flashing a smile when he saw Isaac standing at the corner by the diner. Almost running over a few people roaming the sidewalk in front of him, Will kept his balance while running over to Isaac.

"Good to see you again," Isaac said as he shook Will's hand.

"I was getting ass-cramps from sitting in that chair all day. I needed to get out sooner or later,” Will wheezed.

The two strode into the diner and chose two stools at the main counter. The place was a favorite of theirs back in high school since it was open 24-hours a day, providing them with meals whenever they wanted. And fortunately for them, the meals they served here tasted like what they were supposed to be. Most of their planning and pranks were devised there in the dark hours of those mornings. It was a small place in town, mostly unchanged from the last century of innovation and shifts in style, helping it keep its charm.

One of the waitresses brought over two glasses if ice water, and handed them each a menu. Heh. Even the menus don't change, Isaac mused to himself. He spent no time looking over the menu, already knowing what he was going to get. Will spent a little bit longer looking it over, but eventually settled on his choice.

"So what can I get you boys?" the waitress asked, notepad ready.

"I will get a Coke and a triple stack of pancakes," Isaac piped up.

"Uh, I'll get lemonade and an order of French toast."

"Coming right up, sweethearts." She took the menus and disappeared behind the double doors into the kitchen.

Isaac tapped the counter with his fingertips, waiting as he and Will sat in silence. Will stared at the wall opposite from him. Impatient, Isaac finally broke the silence. “Okay, I’ll bite. What did you want to show me?” Isaac asked, growing impatient with his friend.

“Patience, young padawan.” Will took a quick glance at his watch, noting the time.

Will pulled out his tablet and fiddled with the icons for a short moment. The television on the wall behind the counter flickered on, surprising many of the guests and workers. Will only shot Isaac a smirk.

One of the waiters stepped up to the television to turn it off, aiming a glare at Will and his tablet, mouthing ‘damn punks’. A bright red 'BREAKING NEWS' notification lit up the screen with a loud jingle. He stepped away with a look of confusion, knocking some of the plastic cups onto the hard ground, drawing the attention of the other customers in the diner to the racket. They all stared at the television in the same stupor that the waiter did.

<We apologize for the interruption of your regularly scheduled programming. We switch you now to a live press conference in the UN in New York City, held by the president.>

There was a brief transition, and the camera opened on an older man standing at a podium in front of an audience of thousands. Camera flashes were constantly illuminating the stage as the noise started to die down.

<Hello. My name is Henry Eismann, president of the United States of America. What I’m about to tell you, quite possibly, will change your view of the world. I know it has changed mine.>

<About two weeks ago, a large landmass appeared in the ocean, approximately five hundred miles offshore from New York City. We sent several reconnaissance missions to gauge what we were dealing with, none of which were able to achieve any kind of information aside from basic geographical data. The island was extremely large, about the size of Georgia. The terrain was not unlike anything we hadn’t seen before; mountains, forests, swamps, and grassy fields.>

<A few days after this new land appeared, we had an encounter with the inhabitants of this new place. They spoke of desiring peace between our two civilizations. I spoke with the members of the royalty of this land, and we have reached an agreement. The details of this will be explained by none other than the Princess herself.>

“You’re gonna love this,” Will whispered to Isaac. Isaac had never heard of a group being able to organize a worldwide broadcast within just a few days. Whoever they were, they must have left quite the impression on the president. The president walked away from the podium, disappearing behind the curtain. After a moment of pure silence, both in the diner and at the press conference, a single figure emerged into the spotlights. The audiences on both sides of the television gasped.

A majestic white horse walked out from behind the curtain to the side of the stage. Her mane wafted in the stagnant air of the room by some unnatural breeze, reflecting all of the colors of the spectrum. On her head she wore a single golden tiara set with gemstones the likes of which only seen in museums, and holding that in place was a long, ivory horn. On either side of her slender body were tucked-in wings. She wore many other golden decorations, each emblazoned with an insignia of a blazing sun. Isaac could hear people around him talking amongst themselves about the revelation of the nature of this ‘guest’.

"What in the world... It’s a unicorn!"

“It has wings? And a horn?”

“That’s a pretty sick tattoo on it’s ass!”

"My lord! It’s beautiful!"

"I don't like this... Ain't natural."

"Don't tell me THAT’s the speaker! Horses can't talk!" someone spouted from the back of the diner.

<Greetings, people of the world. My name is Princess Celestia, one of the rulers of the verdant land of Equestria.>

Her voice was regal, majestic, and beautiful. She exuded an air of confidence and gentleness about her, translating clearly through the television. Isaac stared in wonder at the Princess.

<We come to you not as a nation seeking power, but one willing to share what we have. While we cannot force you to believe what I say, we will let our actions speak for us. I and my sister, Luna, both expect that your people have already begun plans to try and colonize our land, seeking to utilize our resources for your own gain. For your own safety, we ask you to cease these efforts. Our fair nation of Equestria is rich with magical energy. A few members of various countries discovered this the hard way, for which I am dreadfully regretful for. Because of this, no human can ever set foot in Equestria.>

A loud roar of outrage erupted from the audience attending the speech. After a moment, the din started to taper away, leaving the white alicorn at the podium, her expression shifting from one of seriousness to a soft smile.

<We can offer humanity a future, though. Our top scientific minds are hard at work combining our magic with your technology to complete a process that will allow humanity to live in our lands, as one of us. We can offer those interested a simpler life, honest work, and the joys and happiness we have lived with for generations. We offer this gift to you in good faith. We will be opening Conversion Bureaus for those who are interested all over the world in the coming months, beginning the treatments for ponification once we are one hundred percent sure that the process is safe for everyone.>

<We look forward to hearing your concerns and answering your questions. We have uploaded an information document onto your internet, and will be hosting meetings in cities worldwide to ease any worries and answer any questions you may have. We look forward to welcoming those of you willing to join us as our brothers and sisters.>

The diner had fallen silent. As Celestia walked off from the stage, the entire audience erupted into a cacophony of cheers, screams, and even boos as she left.

“What just happened?” Isaac asked Will, who seemed to have a better grasp of the situation.

“Well, a few weeks ago I stumbled into the Pentagon mainframe…” Will began casually.


“Err, yeah. And I found these reports of a giant landmass that just appeared a few hundred miles out to sea practically overnight. Flights were redirected away from it, satellites were taken over to prevent any unneeded sightings. I've never seen the net subjected to such a widespread censorship campaign. Any mention of it, any pictures, anything pertaining to it was immediately deleted and the user would go silent. A few days after the island appeared, a picture surfaced with a couple of those ponies meeting with some military personnel on a ship a few miles off the coast from that island. She wanted to hold a press conference today, and now we have… ponies wanting to turn humans into more ponies.”

“Well that’s just great.” Isaac took a sip from his beverage. “Hey, pull up that file she mentioned. Let’s see what this is all about.”

Will pulled out the tablet from his pack, and set it down on the counter. After a few moments of fiddling with the controls, the screen was filled with color. The cover was a color photograph of rolling green hills, rivers, and snow-capped mountains in the background, with all sorts of ponies playing around and an old English style town right behind them. A message was displayed along both sides of the scene.

[Are you tired of your life of exhausting work for little pay? Have you had your job taken from you and you are struggling just to get by? Then enroll in one of our Conversion Bureaus! During your 7-day stay, you will be supplied with everything you'll need to live amongst us in Equestria. Ponification is an easy, painless procedure that will allow you to live in our home land, along with all of the other ponies!]

[Our top scientists are teaming up with their human counterparts to perfect this process. Administered at our Conversion Bureaus early in your stay, you will grow into and adjust to your new pony body while keeping everything that was ‘you’ right where it belongs!]

[Room and board, meals, education, and medical expenses will be free of charge! Yes, you read that right! You can start your new life for no cost whatsoever! Questions? Come and visit the Conversion Bureau nearest to you on July 2nd for a Q&A session!]

[Conversion Bureaus opening near you: all New York City boroughs, Newark, Trenton, Camden, Philadelphia...]

Isaac removed his attention from the screen to see everyone else in the diner looking to their own screens. They were all entranced by the promises the ponies were offering. A new life? For free? It was an offer countless people would take at the drop of a hat.

"No way am I doing this. There's gotta be something more to it than that," Will objected.

"Yeah. Not asking for anything in return? No cost for the process? Sounds fishy."

"Says here that the Newark one is scheduled to open tomorrow. Care for a small road trip?" Isaac knew where Will's mind was going, and knew he had no choice in the matter.


Isaac and Will pulled into the colossal parking lot in front of the large building. The entire lot looked like it could rival the Meadowlands Stadium parking lots at a first glance. There were thousands of spaces, most of which were empty. There were several dozen cars, all up near the open doors to the building. The two strolled inside, voice recorders already on, eager to discover what was being discussed. They had decided to record everything the ponies said, since most of their announcements were still painfully vague as to the details of what they were planning.

A series of signs and arrows pointed them into a large presentation room. Voices were heard from inside.

"... but what would we do when we move to Equestria?" one of the audience members finished asking.

The pony at the podium was a deep purple unicorn; presumably female judging by the way her mane was styled. "Well, each pony is given work and a place to stay. Jobs can range from farming, to tailoring, to cooking, and so on. Don’t worry; we are sure to find ways for everyone to make a healthy living!" A roar of applause grew from the audience, cheering at the prospects of a newer, simpler life.

Isaac and Will made their way into the middle of the group and found a pair of chairs they could use. As they sat down, the applause began to peter off, giving way to silence once again.

"Any more questions?" the unicorn asked.

Isaac's hand shot up almost involuntarily.


"What's your motivation?" Isaac could feel the glares from everyone in the audience settling on him at that moment. Taking a gulp, he continued. "You offer humanity a new start, and you ask nothing in return. Why?"

"Ahem, well... we have watched you and your civilizations constantly rising and falling. We see famine, poverty, starvation, and exploitation running rampant through your world, and we only wish to offer you a hand to be free of it all. What was your name?"

"Isaac. Isaac Hamilton."

"Would you mind staying afterwards, Isaac? I would love to address your worries and concerns a little bit more thoroughly and personally, if you don't mind."

"By all means," he responded, taking his seat again. Throughout the rest of the presentation, he could feel much of the animosity from the rest of the audience around him begin to fade away. Most of the questions everyone had were what would happen to them during their stay at the Bureau and what Equestria was like.

Once nobody raised their hands anymore, Isaac noticed that a few hours had passed since they arrived.

"Thank you all for coming out to meet with us today! We look forward to seeing you when we officially open!" the unicorn concluded. The audience, save for Isaac and Will, were smiling and laughing while leaving the facility, excited for their new lives to come.

The unicorn stepped down from the stage and walked over to where the two of them were standing.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Isaac. And you are?"

"Oh, I’m Will Rathmore."

"Wonderful to meet you too, Will. My name is Twilight Sparkle. I’m going to be in charge of this Bureau once it opens, so I believe I can answer most of your questions." The unicorn, Twilight, cleared her throat. "So you wanted to know our reasoning for why we’re doing this, correct?"

The two nodded in unison. Isaac spoke up, "Yes. You see, we are naturally very apprehensive when something is offered to us for free. Never in our history has something been given free of any strings or conditions attached."

"Yes, we were fully aware of the opposition we would face from some humans. Be assured, we truly mean you no ill will. We just want to see you thrive, and we believe we can help you in that through ponification."

“I apologize for sounding rude, but that sounds like a very arrogant claim. Humans have to become ponies to live happily? We need to join you to thrive? I’m sorry, but there are many people out there who are going to be taking your claims that way, and not being as polite as me about it.”

Twilight looked down at the carpet of the small conference hall. “I know. We still are in wonder at the technology and knowledge your people have been able to achieve. Humans are amazing, I am proud to believe that. Your kind does truly fascinate me. But... I’m sorry if I sound rude, your kind does tend to have... aggressive mannerisms and harbors hostility moreso than our kind. Equestria has never experienced war, famine, disease, or anything of that nature. We have a peaceful society. We only wish to share that with you.”

Isaac smiled. “I believe you, Twilight. I only wish it were that simple, to change a person that way.”

Will took the opportunity to voice his concern. "What I’d like to know, Miss Twilight, is how you plan to, well, 'ponify' us humans. How does it work?"

Twilight let out a soft sigh. "To be honest, I’m not too sure how it works right now either. The research has been under very tight security since it was started so only the ponies and humans working on the project have any sort of extensive knowledge on the subject. But what I have heard is that your scientists have had most of the work done for years now, and all that we need to do is add the magic and start trials."

Isaac did a double take at what he just heard. "Did you just say 'magic'? Like abra-kadabra, shazam, that kind of stuff? I heard your princess mention it during her speech yesterday."

Twilight masked a small giggle. "Oh, heavens no! We unicorns can use actual magic, like this." The tip of Twilight's horn began to glow a soft purple, and the chairs around the small group began to levitate and stack themselves. They kept doing so until the entire room was empty, except for stacks of chairs lining the walls. Isaac and Will could only look in amazement.

"Well that's something. Sure wished we got that on video," Will whispered. Isaac only nodded in agreement.

"We ponies come in three forms: unicorns like me who can use magic, pegasus ponies that have wings and can fly, and earth ponies who are agricultural masters and animal handlers. The ponification process selects which one of these three you are most suited for, and that is what you become."

"Alright, well thank you for your time, Miss Twilight. It's been a pleasure." Isaac held out his hand to meet Twilight's soft hoof, and after an awkward moment of figuring out how to grasp the alien appendage, he gently shook it. The feeling was entirely unexpected. Her coat was not unlike velvet or silk, her hoof not hard or dirty, but supple and warm to the touch.

"Indeed it has. I hope I’ve eased your apprehensions! I look forward to seeing you two once we open in a few months!"

Navigating the empty halls of the giant building, Isaac and Will walked out into the soft glow of the afternoon sun, looking out over the empty desert of asphalt before them. Will let out a drawn out sigh.

"Dude, it sounds so appealing. A new life? To be able to start over? I would take it in a heartbeat if it wasn't for that 'ponification' she kept talking about." The two of them were walking out across the parking lot, over to the individual car left out in the middle of the asphalt wasteland.

"I hear you. And that's why I can't bring myself to do it. Because I want it so badly. I don’t want to get caught up in the rush of it. People make bad choices when they get too excited. Let’s wait and see what happens with this. I already know I’m gonna have a busy evening," Isaac said, gazing down at the ground.

"Yeesh. I forgot. Erika. She's gonna be all over this. Best of luck, dude. You're gonna need it."


"Did you see how cute they were?! I'm going right away once they open up!" Erika squealed. Isaac looked on with a baleful gaze. He was afraid of this. They ponies had appealed to everyone with the lure of utopia waiting with them. And his sister fell right for it.

"Oh honey, you simply must calm down. While it does sound absolutely wonderful, you have a perfectly good life here at home. You have a job, your friends, and a loving family, everything a grown woman would want! Don’t be so quick to get whipped up in it," Isaac's mother called from the kitchen.

"Yeah, pipe down. You're giving me a headache," Jeff grunted from the living room.

"Jeff! Don't speak like that to your daughter!" Susan yelled.

Jeff replied only with another grunt and went back to watching his television shows.

"So, Isaac! You gonna get ponified? Well? Hm?" Erika said over Isaac's shoulder.

"Nah. Pass. Too girly for me," Isaac lied. He knew that deep down, he did want to go through with it, but he simply couldn't admit it to himself.

"Funny, I would think you would be ideal for it!” Erika playfully sneered. “You haven't had a job in almost two years now, you don't have any friends aside from Willy, and you've just been living off mom and dad since you got out of college!"

"Now that’s enough Erika!" Susan yelled, her red face peering out from the kitchen. "I will not have you talking to your older brother like that! It's not his fault that those things took his job from him! And he is always welcome in this house! And that’s the end of it."

Isaac stared at his mother. He couldn't believe the passion she had showed in standing up for him. But, to Isaac, everything his sister had said was true.

Three years ago, Isaac had finally scored a job working at a computer science firm, developing new programs and technology for the world to utilize. When his boss had suggested working alongside an experimental AI, Isaac thought it was a decent idea. Having some sort of program help him with the grunt work? It sounded good to him.

After a few scant weeks, the AI had grown to be able to emulate Isaac's programming skills, and eventually surpass it. Since then, the entire company was being outfitted with AIs to take over human held positions, resulting in Isaac being ousted from his job. During the weeks that followed, he was constantly asking for interviews and employment opportunities, but found none. Every programmer, technician, developer, and engineer had been steadily replaced with AIs. The only ones still with jobs were the AI developers.

Isaac stood up from the table he was seated at. "Thank you for dinner, mother." He brought his bowl into the kitchen, placed it in the sink, and walked upstairs without saying another word. His family looked on, saying nothing. Only the drone from the television filled the air.

He stepped into his room, which immediately sparked to life. His computer terminal lit up, routing him straight to the chat room he frequented in his free time, signing him on immediately. All of the other users were abuzz about the Conversion Bureaus, the ponies, and especially 'ponification'. Isaac had heard enough about these ponies for today. He powered down his equipment, deciding on sleep instead of his usual online work.

He needed the sleep. It would let him rest and give him time to be able to reflect on the test humanity as a whole was about to face. Is the promise of paradise really worth losing one's humanity?

Trying to get to sleep, Isaac could hear the television blaring from downstairs. His father almost never turned it off. Just like the other night, he was forced to sit in on his father’s program.

<Hello, I’m Gabby Fitzsimons, and welcome to the nightly news at 8. It’s the thing that everyone and their mothers are talking about! Ponification! What is it? Should you be afraid? Should you go for it? Well, there are already those who are voicing the proposal as an insult to humanity. They are already calling themselves the HLF, or the Human Liberation Front. It’s a grassroots movement sprouting up all over the world, with one unifying goal: to keep humans and ponies separate. With the ponies facing vandalism and threats of violence, they chose to address the concerns some people had.>

<A spokesma- err… spokespony… really?... said the following:>

<”We wish humanity no harm. We offer this service as a voluntary choice. We are not forcing any humans to get ponified, only holding the doors open for those who wish to move to Equestria. Humanity is entitled to its own decision on an individual basis. We don’t think that one pony or man should choose what an entire species must decide.”>

<Frank Dunland, self-described leader of the pro-human movement, responded with this:>

<“The simple fact of the matter is that they are insulting the human condition, saying that we are incapable of helping ourselves! How have we been able to achieve the technological progress we have without our unending will to succeed? The real motivation behind these ‘Conversion Bureaus’ is that they want to control the human population!”>

<More on this story after the break.>

Chapter 2

View Online

"So that was you! What happened? Why didn’t you get ponified?”

Isaac took another long sip from his steaming cup of tea. The sweet aroma of raspberries soothed his mind like almost nothing else could, bringing a fond smile to his face.

"Well, to be perfectly honest, I really wanted to. Really, really wanted to. Everything pointed to a better future after ponification, and I was miserable. So I looked up the times for the tours your staff hosts for apprehensive patients. Unfortunately, I scheduled my tour on the day of the HLF riot.”

"Oh... There were so many people hurt that day... Were you one of them?"

Isaac shrugged. "You could say that."


[4 months after the bureaus open]

Isaac sat on the spongy seat on the train, sinking into the material. He started out the window at the surroundings as they whipped by. The train was packed, many people standing at the back of the car holding onto railings for support. He wasn’t sure why the train was more packed than usual, but he was sure they weren’t headed to the same place he was judging by how the vast majority of them sported foul and angry expressions.

Isaac was going back to the Newark Conversion Bureau.

He had been following the opening of them very closely, ever since his meeting with the unicorn before the bureaus opened. Many of the interviews that started surfacing of humans who had undergone ponification were more than willing to spread the joy of how they felt. Every single one of them said they were happy, and all of them wore such bright smiles. They all said that the most difficult thing right off the bat was learning how to walk again, and how to live without thumbs.

What intrigued Isaac most of all was the fact that in all of the photos, press releases, interviews, and television specials, every single new pony was smiling. No frowns, no regret, no misery. They were all convinced that it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to them in their entire lives, and it made Isaac a bit envious. He wanted to finally be truly happy, and he knew full well that he would be able to achieve it living the life he was currently in. So Isaac decided to take one of the tours offered to the more apprehensive humans to help them be at ease with the process.

Isaac was convinced that if he liked what he saw today, he would go home, pack up, and enroll the very next day and never look back. He knew Will would be disappointed, being against the process himself. But Isaac believed that the benefits outweighed the consequences. It all was sprung forth from a recent interview he saw on the news:

<Hello, I’m Gabby Fitzsimons, and welcome to the nightly news at 8. If you haven’t heard already, ponification is all the rage! But, some of you may be asking yourselves ”what happens to me after the whole ordeal?” Tonight I have a special guest, here to explain to everyone his team’s most recent research. Welcome, Professor Edwin Valmir.>

<Pleasure to be here, Gabby.>

<Pleasure to have you. So you claim that your team has been researching the physiology of humans that underwent ponification. Is this true?>

<Yes it is. And we discovered some remarkable things. Most people have been hearing rumors from countries around the world of miracles occurring after ponification to people who suffered from various medical conditions being cured after the conversion.>

<Do go on.>

<Well, upon following up these testimonials, we requested access to patient files and records. Most of the first to enroll were the poor and the homeless. Without anything in the human world, they had nothing to lose by undergoing ponification. Many of them were in poor health, and upon ponification, most if not all of these conditions were nowhere to be seen within their new bodies.>

<Fascinating! What conditions are you referring to?>

<Well, this may come as a bit of a shocker. Many of the patients we looked at suffered from various forms of cancer from the poor environments they had been living in. Upon taking medical scans for their new bodies, no tumors or abnormal growths were detected. They were cured.>

<Are you saying that ponification cures cancer?>

<As much as I hate to admit it, yes it does. After decades of fruitless human research into trying to obliterate the horrid condition, along come the ponies and they cure it through sheer coincidence. Puts all of our effort to waste.>

<Was there anything else you and your team discovered? Any other conditions that are cured by ponification?>

<Yes. Viral and bacterial infections were eliminated; mental disorders corrected, amputees and paraplegics having control over their bodies again, so much suffering gone with that one process. Limbs growing back, even. Even the fatal Red Plague has been cured through this process.>

<Anything else to add before we wrap up? That is some pretty heavy weight for the Bureaus to any skeptics out there.>

<Yes, two more things. We discovered heightened serotonin production within the brains of pony-kind. Serotonin is known to have a very strong connection with the mood of a person. While humans produce it, the brain of a pony produces as much as three times more, supporting the transmission of signals within the brain, generating the natural euphoria and positive feelings that ponified humans claim to feel so much of. The second being that ponies are capable of similar lifetimes to humans, sometimes even passing them. Quite remarkable.>

<Thank you very much for your time, Professor. After the break: the HLF issues more threats against the Bureaus. What could this mean to you? Find out when we return.>

Isaac walked further down the road towards the bureau, trying desperately to navigate through the ever-growing crowds of the city. It seemed that the crowds were getting thicker the closer he got to the bureau. He started to hear shouts, screams, and angry yelling grow over the normal chaos of the usual city soundtrack, and his mind tried to tell him what was happening, even if he didn't want to believe it. He had to pick this day of all days.

Upon entering the colossal parking lot for the bureau, the entire place was filled with people. There was a chain link fence creating a tunnel towards the front doors to the building, but was constantly being rattled and shaken by the angry protesters. It didn't seem like it was terribly violent yet, but Isaac didn't want to be anywhere nearby when it did. Isaac was too busy observing the scene before him to notice the small group of thugs approach him from behind.

"Hey buddy. You here to protest too?" asked one of the guys, his breath rank with alcohol. Isaac looked up at the men towering over him, too petrified to speak. "Cause... We don't take too kindly to those damn pony-lovers, you catch my drift?" he asked, pulling out a savagely long knife from his jacket. Isaac slowly nodded in agreement. Seeing the fear in Isaac's eyes, the lead brute gestured to one of his lackeys behind him. In his hand was a red brick, outstretched in front of Isaac.

"Take this, and show us you're no pony-lover. Huck it at that damn hell-hole." The rest of them shouted various cheers and expletives. The ‘leader’ started eyeing his glinting knife, then back to Isaac. His insinuations were as clear as pure water.

Isaac took the brick into his hand, gazing at it. He knew that he wouldn't be able to get away from these guys and least of all fight them off. Most of the people around them were too busy shouting and yelling to care enough to help someone as insignificant as himself, and if he didn't do something with that brick, he would be in the wrong side of that knife. No matter how he looked at it, Isaac was in a lose-lose situation. He had no choice but to comply.

His body acted before he could stop it. His mind, caught in the brief moment of confusion, only saw his hand empty and outstretched in front of him. He heard the sharp sound of shattering glass before him, and the cheers of the troublemakers behind him. While they were distracted, Isaac sunk into the layers of the crowd, desperate to get as far away as he could before his cowardice cost him his freedom.

Sirens began to wail in the distance, the screams and yells from the crowd growing in response. Other objects began flying towards the bureau, likely inspired by his act of fear and coercion. He stood up straight to get another look at the surroundings, and saw that his efforts had placed him towards the back of the angry mob, much to his relief. Keeping his head low, he passed by the thinning crowds until he reached the streets of Newark, away from the chaos in front of the Bureau.

Looking back to make sure nobody was following him, Isaac sprinted towards the train station, eager to get back home and seclude himself in his room, hoping nobody saw him and his stunt. Rushing up the stairs onto the platform, he flashed his ID to the ticket terminal and jumped onto the earliest train headed back home.

Planting himself onto one of the seats, he slumped down, dread and regret filling his body. He thought to himself that it couldn’t possibly get any worse.


"You explain yourself this instant!” the voice yelled from beyond the doorway. Isaac hadn't even set foot inside his own home before being accosted by his father. Upon seeing him, Isaac only beheld a visage of anger and hate, his father's face beet red.

"What are you talking about? What's going on?" Isaac asked, thoroughly confused.

His mother stumbled over, her face hidden behind her hands, resting them on his father's shoulder. After a few moments, she regained her composure. Her face was slick with tears and puffy from her sobbing.

"Why? Just tell me why... they didn't do anything bad to you... so why do you hate them so much?" She couldn't stand it anymore and returned to her sobbing.

"I thought we raised a tolerant son, but it seems that I was SORELY mistaken!" his father bellowed, bleeding sarcasm. Isaac winced at the harsh accusation.

Did they know? How on earth could they have found out... unless...

Isaac looked behind his parents at the lit television set, its face lit with a news story covering the earlier riot at the Conversion Bureau. From the aerial view, the crowd was massive. The screen flashed to more highlights: men getting beat over the head with police batons, fist-fighting, other people throwing things at the police and the bureau... and then the screen flashed to the one thing he prayed nobody else had seen. It was himself, throwing the brick at the bureau, breaking the glass window, the kindling that led to the full ferocity of the riot to bear.

Isaac felt himself lose his mind to panic. "I-It wasn't my fault! Some drunken thugs were threatening me! They pulled a knife on me! I was too scared to do try and get away from them!" he cried out.

"WELL WHY THE HELL WERE YOU THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?!" His mother's face was now a similar color as his father's. Isaac saw the rage burning in both sets of eyes.

"I... I was going to take a tour of the bureau..."

"Bullshit. We know you've been recording all of those interviews. Stewing your damn racist hatred. Well..." his father looked over to his mother, who nodded in agreement. "We're leaving for the bureau. Right now. And you're not coming. Dear, tell Erika to get her things."

Isaac stood frozen as his parents, the very people who raised him, walked off. They truly were too blinded by their rage to see Isaac's innocent intentions. He heard the clinking of zippers coming from the living room, and didn't even respond as his father shoved him to the side, walking out the door to the car.

A few voices were heard from upstairs, one of which was louder, and somehow filled with joy. All too soon, that joy died as Isaac figured her mother told Erika that he wasn't coming with them. His mother and sister both walked downstairs, solemn looks as they too walked to the door.

Isaac began to tear up. The only family he had... the only people he was close to were abandoning him. All because of some stupid misunderstanding. And he couldn't even defend himself. He was too scared. Erika stopped before Isaac and embraced him.

She whispered in his ear. "I believe you. I'm sorry that it had to come to this." And then she too walked to the car. The electric engine buzzed from the garage. Isaac turned around to see his parents backing out of the driveway, not even giving him another glance. The car peeled down the street, towards their future, leaving Isaac behind. Erika looked out from the back window, waving her brother goodbye.

Isaac stood frozen in the door. The ponies had taken everything from him. He was completely alone in the world. He had absolutely nothing left.

"What's all the hubbub?" a voice called from down the street. Isaac shifted his gaze to the figure, which appeared to be carrying several bags, walking in his direction. As the figure approached, Isaac made it out to be the only thing left in the world he was familiar with.

"Sorry you had to see that, Will."

"Lemme guess. The Bureau Riot? That was you, right?"

Isaac sighed. "Yep. Crazy things some people do under the coercion from a drunk with a knife."

"Don't worry, I would've done the same. Not much you can do in a situation like that." Will stood before Isaac now, apparently carrying all of his possessions with him. Will noticed Isaac's gaze, and gave a small chuckle. "Yeah, the folks decided to get ponified too. Sold the house before I told them I wasn't interested. Mind if I crash here for a bit?"

Isaac smiled. Maybe the end of his world would be put off a while yet.

"Yeah, sure. Come inside."


Twilight’s pen kept whizzing away at her clipboard, the scratching filling the silent room. The pen ceased its movements, and Twilight finally relaxed after her marathon of an interview.

"Goodness! We sure lost track of time! I still have so many reports to finish for the Princesses... I hope you don't mind if we put our little interview on hold until tomorrow." The purple unicorn began tucking her tall stack of notes into her saddlebags along with her clipboard, pen, and recorder. Isaac lifted himself up and helped Twilight with the bags.

"Not at all, Ms. Sparkle. If it would be okay with you, I would like to continue tomorrow in another setting, perhaps over lunch."

She brought her purple hoof to her chin, trying to organize her itinerary for the next day around it. A small spark in her eyes brought a soft smile to her face. "That sounds delightful, Mr. Hamilton. Daisy's at 11:30?"

"Never been before, but sounds perfect. I'll see you then."

Twilight gave a light nod of her head, and left the room, closing the door with her magic. As soon as the mare left, Isaac closed his eyes and recalled what that packet had said.

"SyRE. What’s the progress on the data retrieval from the Kremlin?" A few moments of silence was followed by the synthesized voice coming from the room’s speakers.

"Four hours until completion. On my schedule next are The White House and The Pentagon."

"And how much of your processing power are you using towards this?"

"Approximately .01%, as you requested. Decommission should not be accelerated should I retain these limits. I fear that retrieval of the Pentagon documents alone will take months, however." Isaac almost felt the intonation of fear and worry in the AI's voice.

"Alright, we don't have that much time in that case. Remove the limiter I put in, and devote all of your processing power to the retrieval. How long will it take to retrieve everything?"

SyRE responded only with a simple "Please define 'everything’."

"Everything. All recorded information. Human history, recorded documentation, media, creative works, absolutely everything. How long would that take if you devoted 100% of your processing power to it and weeding out redundant copies?"

Nothing came from the speakers for a moment as Isaac felt the humming and buzzing from SyRE’s processor core in the basement. "Approximately 3 days. However, decommissioning will occur a few hours afterwards as a side-effect of handling the information." Isaac knew that SyRE wouldn't display its emotions, but he knew his old AI would sound concerned if it was assigned a suicide mission.

"Forward all documentation, research notes, and guidelines to AI salvage and reintegration to my personal station. Top priority. Put everything else on the holographic drives downstairs. Don't worry old friend, I won’t let you won’t die under my watch." If SyRE had a shoulder, Isaac would have given a reassuring pat.

"I have no worries, sir. I trust your methods and reasoning completely. The requested documentation is now on your private terminal. Once I begin the retrieval, I will be unable to communicate or make any other actions. Please confirm directive: Archival of all human knowledge."

Isaac took a great breath. "Confirm."

"Acknowledged. Processing directive. Estimated time until completion: three days, fourteen hours, thirty seven minutes."

"Best of luck, buddy." Isaac gave a light sigh, realizing he was going to have to cook for himself for a few days. He hoped he still knew how. Isaac sat back down in his chair and took another long sip of his now cold tea. The vapor trails had settled, and now didn't give off the soothing scent as well as it did before. Reveling in the silence that had now befallen his home, Isaac closed his eyes.

The only thing he heard was the fans that were working tirelessly to keep the central computing unit for SyRE cooled while he trudged along with his mission. The droning hums were so relaxing to Isaac, that his consciousness began to melt away, the surroundings beginning to drift from his recognition, his mind beginning to wind down. Isaac welcomed the sweet embrace of sleep. It had eluded him so often in the past; he treasured each minute of it he got.

The peace that was surrounding Isaac was swept away by the crashing noises that came from his office.

“Owwww...” a young voice moaned from down the hallway. The soft steps were barely audible on the carpet.

"I was hoping she would leave soon. You guys talked forever! I was getting so cramped in that overstuffed closet... I might have broken some stuff... sorry..." a gentle voice called from behind Isaac.

"Ahh... don't worry too much. I have too much junk in that closet. And sorry about that... I wasn't expecting any guests today, let alone the Princess’s closest advisor."

“What? If I had known she was here... If she even tried anything on you, I woulda beat the stuffing out of her! Wham, pow!” the squeaky voice yelled out.

Isaac opened his eyes to see a blurry figure standing next to the arm of the chair. As he wiped the small bit of sleep from his eyes, he reaffirmed his gaze.

Next to his chair stood an aqua blue pegasus colt. Not even three feet tall, he was still fairly young by both human and pony standards. He sported a silver-white windswept mane and tail, glowing bright in the lamplight. His blue wings were perked up, a sign of excitement by his kind. His tail flicked and jumped in joy as the pegasus's bright green eyes locked onto Isaac's, and they both shared a bright smile. Isaac lifted himself from the chair and kneeled down to embrace the young colt. The colt wrapped his neck around Isaac's, and dug his snout into Isaac's hair.

“Your bravery is positively infectious. I wish I was like you when I was your age, Windchaser.”

Isaac stood back up, ruffling the young one's mane amidst a light bit of laughing. "I'm going to be going out tomorrow to meet with that mare again. She asked me to continue that interview we were working on earlier. SyRE is off working on a job I assigned to him using all of his attention, so you'll have the house to yourself. Try not to break anything else, okay?"

"Sure thing, papa!"

Isaac gave his son such a wide smile that he almost brought himself to tears, as the pegasus jumped onto the couch to spread his legs out after his afternoon of confinement. Isaac walked into the kitchen and leaned onto the counter as his smile began to fade into a frown.

I can’t risk him hearing in.

“So what would you like for dinner?” Isaac asked cheerfully. Opening the refrigerator, he peeked in between the shelves and drawers of fresh produce. “We have some leftover rice, some eggs, onions, bean sprouts... How about I make you something I loved when I was younger?”

The pegasus bounced in and out of view beneath the counter. “That... sounds... awesome!” he cheered with each bounce.

Isaac pulled out a steel frying pan from the cabinet and set it on the stove, starting the electric burner with the turn of a knob.

At least it’s harder to mess up fried rice than it is to cook it. If only all decisions were as easy as picking what to have for dinner.


Isaac strolled down the street at a slow, relaxed pace. He waved at some of the familiar ponies he shared the small area of town with, giving them warm smiles and waving his hand. Each one of them responded with smiles lighting up their faces as well. The town was alive and bustling, ponies out enjoying the morning sunlight. It was very pleasant out, warm with a light, cool breeze. The pegasi had done a wonderful job with keeping the smog away from town. The Earth was still polluted, but the efforts of the unicorns and pegasi kept the countless towns around the world pleasant and livable. He walked along the roads, weaving around the ponies he shared the sidewalk with towards his destination.

When he finally made it to Daisy’s Diner, he saw a very flustered Twilight Sparkle waiting for him. She was tapping her hoof, and pulling a pocket watch out from her saddlebag every few seconds to check to see how late Isaac was. Calling her punctual would have been the understatement of the year.

“You kept me waiting here for thirteen minutes! Now my schedule is all ruined… I’ll never get all those files sorted tonight…” she bemoaned.

“You need to take some time for yourself, Miss Sparkle. Taking the scenic route does wonders for one’s nerves.”

“Yeah, yeah. Let’s find ourselves a table, shall we?”

“Why don’t we get ourselves one out on the patio? The day is simply too marvelous to be put to waste,” Isaac asked. He relished the sweet air around the diner. Twilight had made a great decision coming here.

“That… sounds good, I suppose.”

Isaac opened the door, and held it open for Twilight as she trotted inside. She gave him a nod of appreciation, and continued on to the waiters to find them a table.

“Table for 2, please. And out on the deck, if it isn’t too much to ask,” Twilight said.

The blue unicorn behind the desk took a peek at her documents, and levitated two big menus in front of her.

“Right this way, darlings!” she said, leading the duo between the tables, towards the back.

She opened the doors to the patio outside, and flipped open the umbrella for the table, offering some shade from the noon sun. Twilight and Isaac took their seats and menus, both thanking the waitress.

"My name is Morning Roast, and I’m your waitress this wonderful day! Now what can I get you two to drink?”

Twilight thought for a moment. “Do you happen to have apple cider?” The waitress gave a smile and a nod. “That, then. Thank you.”

“And you, sir?”

Isaac thought to himself. It was a long shot, but what did he have to lose?

“Do you happen to have a bottle of Coke? I know they’re really rare, but if you don’t, it’s alright.”

“Hmm… As a matter of fact… I think we do have a bottle or two somewhere in the back. We held onto it just in case we had another human patron. Haven’t seen one in almost fifteen years now, until you showed up! So today’s your lucky day, sonny!”

“Terrific. I’ll take that please. And a glass of ice.”

“Comin’ right up!”

Isaac leaned back on the back legs of his seat. The idea that some ponies haven’t even seen a human in so long was a little disheartening to him.

“You okay, Isaac?” Twilight asked.

He brought his chair back down with a deep thud on the wooden deck. “Yeah. I’m just glad they have a bottle of coke back there. Haven’t had one in so long. I just hope it’s not flat…” Isaac gave a soft chuckle.

Twilight’s horn began to glow once more, her bags opening up bearing the voice recorder, clipboard, and pen from yesterday.

“I was hoping we could continue your interview if you don’t mind…”

“Oh, right. Of course. I’m actually going to skip ahead a bit, if you don’t mind.”


“Well, we left off when Will came to stay at my house, right?”

Twilight flipped through her notes from their last meeting. “Yes, that’s where we ended.”

“Things got... dull for a while. Will and I would search around town for jobs to keep ourselves active, and to get some sort of income flowing in. The jobs were nothing extraordinary. We were cashiers, truck drivers, even tried my hand at working in a local police station. But as the population steadily funneled it’s way in through the bureaus, we lost our jobs faster than we could find new ones.

“As dreary as things seemed, we were able to reap the benefits of what was happening. We would frequently make trips around, looking for abandoned shops and houses, seeing if they had anything we could, well, use. I suppose you could have called the two of us looters, really. After a while, we had accumulated quite the wealthy sum of toys and gadgets. Food was also somewhat easy to come by, since most food then was made with so much preservatives that they could last for decades.

“So then everything kind of became slow. We stayed in the house, mostly because the AIs that ran the utilities and other services knew we were still there. They had began shutting down grids that humans had abandoned, leaving them to slowly decay along with the rest of the world. We had running water, electricity, heat, gas, everything we needed to stay there indefinitely so long as we had food.”

“So how long did you two live like this?” Twilight was scribbling down on her notepad, while also staring right at Isaac.

“I think it ended up being almost ten years actually. Work died out after seven, then three just minding our own business. We had plenty of things to keep our minds preoccupied. We had most of the entire media library known to man available at a moment’s notice, and we would go out to some remaining human run markets for food. But for me, things were getting pretty dull. There was a deep sense of purpose begging to be filled in me. I began to think those big questions: What am I supposed to do in this world? Where is my place? I was sure it wasn’t doing crap jobs for my dying species. So, I decided to go out for a walk down on the beach.”


Isaac walked along the boardwalk lining the beach. The sky was a faded grey, lines and streaks in the clouds, painting a picture that some would find beautiful. Isaac was one of them. He enjoyed weather like this: overcast, clear, with a cool, refreshing breeze. Looking out over the ocean, he stared at the waves crashing on the sandy shore and the rock jetties. He leaned on the railing, breathing in the salty air. Faint peals of thunder could be heard overhead.

The beach never appealed to him when he was younger. He always put up a fuss whenever his parents dragged him and his sister there, whereas Erika would always have a blast regardless of how much of a grump Isaac was being. She would always talk him into helping her build mammoth sand castles, dig big holes, and look for seashells along the water. Her enthusiasm and cheer would spread to him, and he would end up enjoying himself no matter how sour of a mood he had been in before.

His thoughts immediately shifted entirely to his sister. She was the only one to say goodbye to him when she and his parents left. She was the only one who gave him a hug, the only one to wave goodbye. Even ten years hadn't helped the ache in his heart watching his family abandon him like that. Even though Will showed up immediately after asking to move in, he still missed the company of his old family, especially Erika.

Isaac took his socks and shoes off, leaving them on the old wooden boardwalk, stepping into the soft beach sand. The tiny grains filling in between his toes felt refreshing and welcome, even the mild itching that accompanied it. He had been cooped up with Will back home for so incredibly long; he began to forget how fresh air smelled. Not that his friend was getting on his nerves; Will was perfectly content with the lives they were living at the time sitting at home, chatting online, doing shady intel work for companies still around for good money.

Isaac, however, was not. He felt a void in his being that had been growing since his family left. One could call it wanderlust, or even say that Isaac was tired of sitting on the sidelines, watching the world decay. He wanted to do something with his life. He wanted to help humanity, or what was left of it. It reached a bit of a crisis point that day, when he was forwarded a note from one of his friends online he had worked with. It read in plain letters:

[New census results: less than 1m humans left]

He walked out towards the frothing surf, feeling the icy waves lap at his feet. There was a time not too long ago where the beaches around were too polluted and dangerous to play on, garbage washing up every day. With the dwindling population of humans, less and less garbage found its way into the ocean, which had begun to try and clean itself, slowly restoring the azure hue it held so long ago. The trash would accumulate in bays and along belts of stagnant currents out in the ocean, away from the beaches.

As the waves kept washing over his feet, Isaac felt the stress draining away from his body. Looking back inland, he saw the ruins of humanity, slowly crumbling from neglect. This town was one of the first to be abandoned. It wasn't the most glamorous town around, but so many people saw the bliss and happiness that waited for them within Equestria and just left. Now, it was nothing more than a silent ghost town, cars left alone in parking lots, stores empty, and most homes devoid of all life. Looters could be seen every so often, trying to nip at the bones of the dead town, looking for any more treasures left over after the countless others before them.

Ponies had begun to repopulate some towns around the world, slowly spreading back out from Equestria. Not many towns were picked for repopulation, but the ones that were quickly became small hamlets similar to the ones back in their homeland. The ponies didn't seem partial to the idea of cities or huge metropolises, and only chose smaller towns, the least touched by modern technology. Most humans flocked to the giant cities, hoping to achieve some sort of extravagant life before the ponies had come.

Isaac walked back up the beach a bit and sat down, sinking slightly into the sand. He looked to the north, seeing the faint silhouettes of the skyscrapers of New York City clawing at the horizon, begging to be remembered by their creators. The city was just about abandoned during the second great ponification surge, when humanity realized that their numbers had dropped below three billion. Not wanting to be a part of a dying species, they sought out ponification in such numbers that humanity’s fate was just about sealed. Nobody wanted to ride a sinking ship into the depths of the ocean.

Isaac leaned back into the sand and began to think about what he wanted to do with himself. He wanted to do something for humanity, but it just seemed to be impossible. With so few people left, they were sure to be too spread out to attempt a concerted effort at anything. Isaac let out a heavy sigh.

"WHOAOAH! INCOMING!! AAAAAAAHHH!!" screamed a voice overhead.

Isaac had no time to register it, and felt the ground below him shake, and a plume of sand shooting overhead. On his feet, he brushed off the sand that had managed to make it into his clothes, then to see who or what caused that crash. There was a small crater barely a foot away from where he had been resting, with a bright yellow pegasus sporting a blond mane and tail struggling to her feet inside.

"Owwww... Those gusts up there sure are tricky... I’m sorry I almost… Oh..." she gasped, her eyes resting on Isaac. She brought her hooves up to her mouth, as if she had seen a monster out of a horror movie. She climbed up and out from the crater, not breaking her stare.

"What? What's wrong?" Isaac asked.

"I... I never thought I'd see..." she began.

"What? A human?" Isaac said, sighing.

The few days he had ventured out from his house he had been stared at as if he was some sort of circus freak. Colts and fillies would point asking what he was to their parents, before being hushed up. Others would just stare, either in wonder, or asking themselves ‘Huh, I wonder why that poor sap didn’t bother getting ponified.’ Fitting, since he was one of the only humans in a world filled with ponies. But every time it happened, he felt like they thought it was bad that he was still a human.

The pegasus's eyes drifted down to the sand, her expression darkening. "Y-yeah... a human… I'm sorry... I almost hurt you there. My name is Sunny Days."

Isaac chuckled. "Kind of ironic, no? Flying out when it's such a dark and dreary day?"

Sunny formed a small smile. "Any dark day can get brighter if you find what you were looking for," she said, staring up at Isaac through her messy blond mane. "And what are you doing out here all by yourself?"

Isaac planted himself back into the sand, staring back out at the ocean. "I suppose I just needed some time to think. I feel… empty. I feel like I should be doing something more than just sitting idly by as my species fades away. I just want to do something for humanity."

"I know the feeling. When I'm cooped up without getting to fly for too long, it hurts... But not just in the regular way. It hurts deep down because you aren't able to do what you were born to do. I think you can find what flying is to me if you look hard enough! It’s sure to be out there," Sunny said, cheerfully.

Isaac smiled, looked back over to the smiling pegasus. A smile crept its way onto his face as well. "You remind me of someone I knew once."

She lifted her head up, whipping her mane out of her eyes. "Really? Who?"

"My sister. She was always such an idealist, seeing the bright side of any situation no matter how dark and gloomy it looked. She was the only one to say goodbye to me when my parents took her to get ponified together years ago. I just wished I had said goodbye to her too. The whole situation was so screwed up; I just stood there in shock and let it all happen. I'm sure they have forgotten all about me by now. Living it up in Equestria, not a care in the world." Isaac’s heart sank, thinking about how alone he truly felt.

"I-I'm sure they haven't forgotten you, especially your sister! She still loves you, regardless of your decisions!"

"Yeah... I hope so."

A silence hung over the two. Isaac really did hope that his family remembered him, at the very least, Erika. "So what do you plan to do now? You said you wanted to do something to help humanity, right? Find some people who want to do the same and start something special!" Sunny chimed.

"You know… you're right. I shouldn't be sitting around while everything I know fades away. I need to go out and help bring my people together! Thank you so much for talking me through this, Sunny Days. You were a fantastic help." Isaac scooted over to give the smiling pegasus a hug, which she returned with a nuzzle to his hair.

Isaac jumped up and started running back to the boardwalk to retrieve his shoes. He spun around to wave and shouted back the pegasus, "Goodbye Sunny! Thank you again!"

"Good luck, Isaac!" she yelled, waving him goodbye. Sitting alone on the beach, the yellow pegasus felt tears welling up in her eyes, and a smile a mile wide growing on her face. She looked out to the sea, the first rays of light punching through the cloud cover over the water.


Isaac burst through the door to the old house, almost tripping over the piles of trash that had been forming in the living room. He stumbled up the stairs to his room, mumbling to himself. “I know I saw it the other day… Where was it… HAH!” he shouted, pulling out an old AM/FM radio out from his closet. He frantically began turning the dials, twisting volume up to the top. Will poked his head into the room, a wearing a confused look.

“Dude… what’s going on? You left without a word, and now you’re running all over the place, playing with antiques, and shouting everywhere,” Will said from the doorway. He was dressed in an old t-shirt and jeans, the same style he had retained since he moved in. The two of them worked in separate rooms, Isaac keeping his old one, and Will using Erika’s.

Isaac said nothing, still fumbling with the frequency dial, until a message began playing. “This!” he shouted.

<…ware, we welcome any and all humans still willing to help keep our species alive and well during these dark times. Free housing, free meals, and guaranteed work are all the benefits we offer. Safe from looters and gangs, we are an independent community free from the corrupting propaganda the ponies put forth. United with the other fifteen stations around the world, we will begin a new civilization for humanity to flourish within.>

<The International Human Survival Association wants you! Located in Fort Stillwater, Delaware, we welcome any and all humans still willing to help…>

“It just repeats after that. One of the guys online found it the other day, but I didn’t think too much of it and forgot all about it. It’s on most of the major radio bands, broadcast all over the country. So? What do you think?” Isaac said, his heart elated. He had finally found what he needed all this time, working to help humanity prosper.

“I don’t know. It sounds a little fishy, but what the hell. What isn’t nowadays? Fort Stillwater, eh? Kind of far way, if you ask me.” Will said. Isaac didn’t see the desire he felt in his friend’s eyes, but hoped for the best. “Well, let’s give it a shot. Better than sitting around this dump for much longer. No offense, heh.”

Isaac almost jumped for joy. He was finally the one deciding where his life was heading. “Let’s pack up. We have no idea what’ll be waiting for us there.” Isaac grabbed a bag from his closet, tossing some of his clothes in along with his computer’s external holographic drive.

“Alright. I’ll toss some stuff together then get us a car. Be outside in half an hour.”

Chapter 3

View Online

The truck smashed through the plastic gate, giving way to the duo to the bleak New Jersey Parkway. The miles-long stretch of asphalt and concrete led straight through the state, from Connecticut to Delaware, the very place the riders in the truck were headed. Isaac sat in the passenger’s seat, holding onto a map printed out before he and his friend Will left their crumbling home for the IHSA. The map said that it would be about a two-hour trip, but at the speed Will was driving, it could easily only take one.

With so few people left, there were really no legal speed limits to adhere to. There were still places where going 120 mph was nigh impossible without causing bodily harm, but the majority of the trip was smooth driving, few turns, and no need to wait to pay tollbooths. The truck they were riding in was an old Ford pickup that was parked in a driveway with the keys hidden above the sunshade, left behind by its previous owners a few years prior. The tank was almost full, perfect for the trip.

“Hey, Isaac. Where were you before? And what’s with the sudden urge to get out?” Will asked, eyes still locked on the road.

“Well, I went down to the beach to clear my head. Had a deep conversation with myself, and told myself ‘You need to man the hell up and do something with your life!’ Needless to say I decided to follow my own advice,” Isaac said. He decided it was for the best to omit the part with the pegasus, Sunny Days. Will wasn’t too fond of the ponies. He said on occasion that he would have joined up with the Human Liberation Front early on if they hadn’t resorted to such deplorable and senseless acts of violence.

“Well good for you. I was starting to feel the same way, to be honest. Well,” Will said, “almost the same. I just wanted to find some way to keep mankind from dying out. By any means necessary.” The tone Will had used with those words gave Isaac a small shiver. He never heard Will sound so serious before, he was always so good at hiding his emotions. “You hear what I’m saying? They’re killing off our people, but not in the traditional wartime sense. They are taunting us with the fruit of knowledge, as it were. They are offering us utopia, but for what? You were entirely right to be skeptical back when those damned Bureaus opened.”

Isaac never knew Will held such animosity to the ponies. While he was depressed watching humanity fade away, it seemed Will was upset, even angry at the ponies for causing it. Isaac held no grudge against the ponies, all they wanted was for humanity not to have to suffer any longer, right?


“Hey, Will? Can we stop somewhere? I kinda need to get something to drink.” Isaac tried to smile it off, but Will just sighed.

“There’s a convenience store right there that looks like it’s still kicking. You wanna see if you can get me a Coke while you’re in there too?” Will pulled into the small parking lot of the 7-11, stopping in one of the front spaces. Will pulled out his wallet and handed Isaac a crumpled up bill.

Isaac hopped down onto the asphalt from the truck and pushed his way inside the store. It was still active, which was good. But to his surprise, the person manning the register was in fact a small grey unicorn. The pony smiled and nodded in acknowledgement of Isaac, who gave the unicorn a sheepish smile in return.

Isaac retreaded behind one of the aisles, checking for the fridges and the drinks. He rounded a corner and was finally upon them, but to his dismay, most of them were empty. He saw something in the front-most fridge. The bottles weren’t soda, but simply bottles of water and various juices.

They seemed to lack the finesse of mass production, each glass bottle looking like it was hand... hoof made as it would seem. Isaac read the various bottles, noting some fairly unusual flavors. Apple, Strawberry, Orange, Kiwi, Starfruit, Raspberry, Blackberry... no way these can be real. Isaac grabbed a bottle of the amber hued apple juice and an old bottle of Coke he saw at the bottom of the racks. Inspecting the bottle’s label, it simply bore three brightly colored apples and the logo “Sweet Apple Acres”. Isaac brought them to the counter, the unicorn pushing the buttons on the register. A loud bell rang and the drawer shot out fro behind the counter.

“$3.50, please.”

“Wow, really? Why so cheap?”

“Not cheap, really. Everything else is just so expensive,” the cashier said, chuckling. Isaac heard some steps behind him, and a sudden intake of breath. Isaac turned to see... another human. The man was fairly tall, his hair somewhat well-kept. His eyes were a little sunken in, but they were staring right at Isaac.

“Are you heading to Fort Stillwater as well?” Isaac asked. He and Will were fairly close to the destination, so any humans around would likely be headed in that direction too.

“What’s that?” he asked. It appeared that the shock to the man was almost if not greater than it was to Isaac.

“You haven’t heard? The International Human Survival Association. They’ve made strongholds for humans all over the globe. A last ditch survival measure. I’m Isaac by the way, Isaac Hamilton.” Isaac stuck his hand out, meeting the other man’s hand in a strong shake.

“I’m John Norris, been quite some time since I’ve seen another human on good terms. Can’t say I’ve heard of that organization before.” Isaac wasn’t surprised. Radios were pretty dead nowadays, so nobody would be checking for any signals there.

“Hey dad, who’s this?” a high pitched voice piped up from behind John. A blue pegasus colt walked out from between the aisles, looking up longingly at John.

Isaac was in shock. “Did that pony just call you ‘dad’? Did you... you know... with a pony?”

“Oh. Oh God no. His mother got ponified when she was pregnant. I’d never do... THAT... with a pony.” Isaac let out a sigh of relief. There were some sick people in the world, and at least the one human he met today wasn’t one of them.

A loud honking rang from the parking lot. Will. Isaac was taking too long, but he wished he could get to know John just a little bit more. “Oh, that’s Will. I gotta get going. Nice meeting you, John.” Isaac shot the colt a smile as he ran out the glass doors, sliding back into the passengers seat of the truck.

He handed Will his Coke, and proceeded to crack open his glass bottle of apple juice. Taking a sip of the golden drink, Isaac was assaulted by such sweet and delicious flavors that had he been standing, he would have been knocked to the ground. He had never tasted a drink so... natural. It actually tasted like what apples were supposed to taste like. Will backed out from the parking lot and pulled back into the road, closing in ever more on their target.


The truck weaved through the streets of the small town, signs of life growing stronger the closer they got to the base. Noises could be heard, other cars were seen driving the roads, and groups of humans were walking around.

“Isaac, I think we’re here,” Will said, nudging Isaac.

“Seems that way.”

The two continued on, finding the heavy iron gates leading to Fort Stillwater, the IHSA headquarters. On either side of the gate stood two tall towers, both manned by guards, sporting black automatic military rifles, keeping an eye on the ground below. Riding through the designated path, Isaac peered out the window to see what the fort contained. There were people walking around the green lawns, entering and leaving the various buildings he could assume were dormitories, not dissimilar from a college campus. There were some kids as well, it seemed that anyone and everyone who heard their broadcast dropped everything to come here. Just like how they did.

The signs along the path pointed them towards a large, circular building sporting a bright red banner reading “REGISTRATION”. Will parked the car out in the lot, along with all of the other vehicles. They both grabbed their bags, and walked towards the building.

“This is sure to be interesting,” Isaac said.

“No kidding. It said that they’ll be assigning us work positions over that broadcast, maybe this is where we get them.”

The two entered the glass sliding doors to a desk manned by a gruff middle-aged man dressed head to toe in formal military garb. He looked up from his laptop to see the two walk up. Isaac stepped in front.

“Name, age, education,” the man asked, plainly.

“Uhh… Isaac Hamilton, thirty-three, master’s degree in computer science and bachelor’s degree in genetics. Studied both at MIT.”

“May as well gone to community college with that CS degree, kid. Genetics… right. You’re going to be assigned to Science Team Eight. Orientation for new base personnel is tonight at 1800 hours, in conference room one. Continue to that desk behind me to get your room assignment, maps, and all that bullshit.” He gestured to the woman seated at a desk behind him. She was dressed casually, a tee shirt and jeans. Her hair was tied up in a bun, black rimmed glasses hanging on her nose.

“Hey there, science boy. Name?” she asked.

“Oh, Isaac Hamilton.”

“Lemme guess. You want a room with your friend back there?” She pointed at Will, who was talking with the man at the laptop, getting his assignment as well.

“If that isn’t too much of a problem…”

She let out a small chuckle. “No need to get your panties in a bunch. Science personnel are housed together by fours in the houses along Artillery Circle, and he was just assigned to team eight along with you. It’ll be you, him, let’s see… Roxanne Adams and Quincy Jacobs. They moved in a few days back. Now get going, you got two hours before orientation. May as well grab some grub before then. The science teams aren’t known to have too much time for eating.”

Isaac took his card key, his new ID, and a folder containing various documents concerning the fort. He waited by the door for Will, who took his time talking to the woman at the last desk. He swore he saw her giggle a few times.

“Science Team Eight?” Will asked, walking back to Isaac. The both pushed open the doors, exiting out onto the lawn. Isaac pulled out the map of the area, looking for the street their house was on.

“Uh, yeah. Says we’re housed with… Roxanne Adams and Quincy Jacobs. It’ll be nice seeing other faces around for once,” Isaac joked.

“No shit. Tired of staring at your ugly mug all day long,” Will retorted. They both shared a hearty laugh and strolled towards Artillery Circle.


When they arrived, they saw rows of identical two story houses lining the road on either side. They were a stark white, had a few windows, but other than that were very minimalistic in appearance.

“What number?” Will piped up.

“231. There it is, right there.” Isaac pointed over to the house to their left, walking up the stone pathway up to the door. Isaac slid his key card through the slot, heard a light click in the lock, and nudged the door open. The house’s inside was not dissimilar to the exterior in style: clean and minimalistic. Isaac stepped into the house, followed by Will. They put down their bags and Will jumped over onto one of the sofas. A shuffling was heard from upstairs, followed by steps coming down to meet them.

“Oy! Who let you in here? And take your bloody shoes off if you’re gonna lay on that sofa, you twit!” A lean, bespectacled man walked into the living room. His voice had a light Irish accent to it. His hair was a mess of jet black with light curls.

“Quincy Jacobs?” Isaac asked, hand stretching out. The man met it with a nod.

“Aye. So you two are gonna be on team eight with Roxy and me, eh? Oy! Roxy! We got some new lodgers!” Quincy shouted behind him. Another set of steps were heard from upstairs.

“Will you quit shouting so much? I’m going to have to get a hearing aid if you keep that up… Oh! Hello there!” A middle-aged black woman had entered the room to join the three. Her black hair was pulled back, a silver necklace hanging from her neck. She wore a grey tank top with light khaki slacks. “Nice to meet you...?” The question hung in the air.

“Oh, Isaac Hamilton. And that’s Will Rathmore. We’re moving in.” Isaac stretched out his hand to shake the woman’s.

“Pleasure to meet you two. Roxanne Adams. That that lovely fellow there as you’ve already guessed, is Quincy. Why don’t you guys get your things settled in upstairs? There are rooms for each of us. Come on back down when you’re done and we’ll head off to grab some dinner.”

Isaac nodded, picking up his bag, and walked up the staircase. The two rooms immediately to the left and right were filled with clothing and other belongings, presumably Quincy and Roxanne’s rooms. He turned and followed the banister past the bathroom, and entered one of the rooms further down.

The room was similar to the other decor of the house. White walls, a small window, a desk complete with a full computer terminal, a bookcase, and a dresser. Isaac set his things down on the bed, and decided he would unpack after the ‘orientation’ meeting later on that afternoon.

The bed was very ordinary, a bit stiffer than his old bed back at his old house. He bounced up and down on it as he sat on it, getting a feel for it. He kicked back, flopping his head on the crisp pillow, the linens having not been used until then. Isaac closed his eyes, trying to take a minute to relax.

He thought about all that had happened today. It was such a change in pace than what he was used to that it didn’t register immediately. After so long living with Will and living at his old house, he was glad to get a fresh change in scenery, but... at what cost? He was now in some strange place, put into this team with his new housemates. What would he be researching?

Several things were starting to bother him as Isaac thought to himself. Why did the military, or whatever armed force, have such tight security? Was it to protect everyone inside from raiders and looters? Or was it to protect them from the ponies? Were they really so dangerous that they had to pull guns on them if a pony got too close?


Isaac opened his eyes and turned his head towards the doorway. Standing in it, leaning against the door frame stood Will, his unkempt hair hanging down past his shoulders. “Looks like you could really use a haircut, Will.” Isaac sat up, beckoning his friend into the room.

Will pulled up the desk chair next to the bed and sat. “Yeah. You could afford a trim too, Isaac.” Isaac felt at his head, his hand tracing his fair down to his shoulders as well. Isaac chuckled in agreement. “So? What do you think? The place seems nice enough. Good to have some sort of real community around again.”

Isaac nodded. “Yeah, but I’m just wondering why there are so many army personnel around.”

Will sighed. “Yeah, it’s a little strange. A bit excessive if you ask me. But from what I’ve heard, gangs that used to be all over the place have clumped together to form raiding parties, looting, killing, raping, the works. In fact, I kind of feel safer with all those rifles pointed out towards the rest of the world.”

“Yeah,” Isaac began, “But I’m just... I don’t know. I can’t help but feel that it’s still a bit excessive. I’m thinking that maybe it’s a deterrent to keep ponies from coming close. I mean, I don’t have anything against them, but-”

“Why not?” Will asked, interrupting Isaac’s train of thought.


“Why don’t you have anything against them? I mean, they've essentially destroyed our society, brought us down to such pitiful numbers, and yet you still like them?” Will’s eyes narrowed on Isaac.

“What’s up with you, man? I don’t like them, but I don’t have anything against them either. I say live and let live. We stay out of their business, they stay out of ours. I mean, I’ve heard some stuff on the net about stories of that ponification serum being forced on some humans by rogue pony groups. That’s the kind of shit I can’t stand. Same with the HLF. No group of whatever should dictate what everyone else has to do or think.” Isaac felt Will’s gaze lighten, his friend relaxing.

“Yeah, you got a point. But still. I don’t like them. I like humanity, as silly as that sounds. We walked on the goddamn moon because we wanted to. Humanity has a fire in it that lets it be able to conquer any kind of challenge thrown at it. The only reason the world got to the point it was at when the ponies came was because of complacency and a general lethargy that infected everyone while the people with the big wallets did what they wanted to do.”

“But that doesn’t matter anymore, Will. We are where we are, whether you like it or not. And look at it this way. We are a part of humanity rebuilding itself. We are going to bring back that fire you mentioned. Hell, this is that fire, the IHSA. Some people are content sitting at home, letting the world crumble to dust. Then there are the others who said ‘no’. We are those people, Will.”

Will rose from the chair, slamming his hand against Isaac’s shoulder. Isaac winced. “That’s why I like you, Isaac! You know just the thing to say to me. I’m glad you had that little revelation this morning. By the way, what happened at the beach?”

“Oh, uh, I guess... it was just something about the sea. It has that effect on me.”

“Well if we’re in some shit on a boat, I’m tossing you overboard until you have some sort of revelation to save our asses!” Isaac and Will both laughed as they exited Isaac’s room and headed back downstairs.


The four of them sat at a table in the bustling cafeteria, trays in tow. Isaac and Will placed theirs down on one side of the table, with Quincy and Roxy on the other. All of them but Roxy had drinks that all looked suspiciously like watered down Gatorade, and upon tasting it, Isaac was inclined to agree. Roxy, though, had a steaming cup of sweet-smelling tea.

Taking a spoonful of the red mush, Isaac gently slipped it into his mouth, recoiling from the bitter flavor. He forced himself to swallow the vile concoction, chasing it with a gulp of the neon Gatorade. Quincy and Roxy were both chuckling.

“Ah, don’ worry Izzy. You lose all sense of taste within the first few meals. Roxy here still owes me a twenty from a bet we had ‘bout that, don’cha?” Quincy sneered.

“Bullcrap and you know it. Hmph. You were obviously faking it.” Roxy took a spoonful of her meal and swallowed it without any sense of disgust, much to the disbelief of Isaac and Will.

“We’ve been living off ramen noodles and microwave dinners for the past few years. I kind of want to go back to the noodles… at least it had different flavors of salt…” Isaac said, staring at the plate before him.

“So you two lovers been living together, have ya?” Quincy spouted, taking a spoonful in his mouth. Isaac almost choked as he took a gulp from his drink.

“Nah, we were just rooming together in Isaac’s house once his family abandoned him. Parents left me with almost nothing, so I took a chance and tried to move in. What about you two?” Will asked.

Quincy was the first to talk, with no objections from Roxy. “Well, I was workin’ an internship in DC with a pharmaceuticals company when the whole pony shitfest started. What a bloody frenzy THAT was. Everyone and their mothers were goin’ out to get ponified. Me and my mates, for the most part, held out against their succulent promises of that damned utopia,” Quincy sighed.

“Bout a few years ago, the lads started losing hope. Started with one, then another, then before long, I was the only bloody one left. Pastel colored ponies never really appealed to me, so I decided to head here. Got here a week ago and was put right back to work as a lab tech, helping out with Science Team 1. They be workin’ on a re-humanification serum, one that can counter the effects of ponification and return humans back to their original forms. Nowhere close to any progress just yet. But when you two trollops came along, I was reassigned to Science Team 8. Dunno what we’re gonna be workin’ to be honest.”

“So Team 8 is just us four?” Isaac asked.

“Nah,” Roxanne replied. “We got a project leader we’ll meet tomorrow at the lab.”

Isaac tried to take another taste of his meal, but gave up. He took a gulp from his drink, and leaned back in the chair. “So, Roxanne. What’s your story?”

“You can call me Roxy, honey. Everyone does. A few weeks after the bureaus opened up, my husband and kids were all getting ready to move out. They had been pestering me to come along, but I refused each time. My husband tried to console me, telling me that it was for the best. They would want their mother with them in Equestria.” Roxy looked down at her cup of steaming tea. “I... I begged for them not to go. That night, my husband snuck out with the kids while I was asleep, telling them that I was going to another bureau later on. I woke up the next day with my life ripped from me by the person who I gave my heart to for almost ten years. I was a wreck.” A tear fell from Roxy’s closed eyes.

“After a while, I got my act together, and lived a quiet life in Atlanta for a few years, helping out families struggling to make a life for themselves as humans. About two weeks ago, I heard the radio broadcast and decided to come up here to try my hand at rebuilding humanity.”

“Real god-damned Mother Theresa, aren’t ya?” Quincy snickered.

“It’s no wonder nobody ever sits with us. All you ever do is exacerbate things. No sensitivity at all.”

“What do you mean?” Quincy asked back.

“You really are thick, aren’t you?”

“No, I mean, what does ‘exacerbate’ mean?”

Roxy buried her face in the palms of her hands.


After the group finished their meals, Quincy and Roxy started walking back to the house. They had seen the orientation presentation beforehand when they first arrived, and didn’t care to see it again. Isaac and Will made their way out from the cafeteria and across the campus to the large building they had gone through registration in.

The lobby was packed with people, all shuffling into the auditorium. There were dozens of seats, most of them filled towards the front. Will and Isaac chose two closer to the back to avoid the crowds when the whole thing ended.

After a few minutes, the lights died down, silencing the audience. A bright spotlight lit the central part of the stage, and a tall man dressed in a suit walked out into it.

“Welcome! Welcome all of you to the International Human Survival Association, Eastern North America Branch! My name is Frank Dunland, former leader of the Human Liberation Front. We are part of a fifteen piece instrument spanning the entire globe to help pave a path to the future for mankind. One that We, Homo Sapiens, will choose!

“You here, you all represent the strongest of will and heart of our species. The venomous lies that the false deities spread through our civilization, the same ones that enthralled your loved ones, your closest friends, and the vast majority of our own species, had no effect on you! You were proud to walk on two legs! You were proud of being called man and woman! You came here seeking to help our species reaffirm our ownership over our world!

“Mankind. We have survived for hundreds of thousands of years in our current forms. Our knowledge had been passed down from parent to child, growing exponentially. First, we tamed fire, and we were warm. Then, we hunted the animals of our lands, and used their parts for our own uses to live better and grow stronger. We were protected from the elements. Then, we began shaping the land and melting the very rock below our feet into tools and weapons. We flourished. We learned to manipulate the environment to suit our needs. We kept on developing as a species, until virtually no speck of land on this planet hadn’t felt our touch. We were truly masters of the elements.

“We overcame EVERY challenge nature threw at us, testing our dominance, tenacity, our determination. From earthquakes, to colossal storms, to the most horrific organisms evolution ever came up with. Mankind never gave up, never called it quits, and never lost. We fought tooth and nail with our very planet for dominance. Bloodied, hurting, and wounded, we came out stronger than ever, with complete dominance. We thought we could take down anything. We are Man: The Conqueror.

“And then, along came the Equestrians. Offering a fresh start, a guilt-free life, and a clean slate to anyone who chose to take up the offer, they led our brothers and sisters away from what we had fought and died to achieve after so long. All because they wanted the easy way out. To me, I see them as the scum of our species. No sense of pride no will to do things on our own, that we have done for generations in the past. They didn’t deserve to be human.

“And for the Equestrians themselves? I find the offer as a declaration of war. A war against our species. They claimed that their own form is superior to our own; they claimed that their land was superior to our own, their ways of life superior to our own. I saw them as an abomination, those ‘Conversion Bureaus’. I began the HLF, seeking to reassert our dominance over this planet, and to shake loose those who weren’t already caught in the teeth of the beast.

“Unfortunately, it was too late. The movement never picked up enough steam. Our enemy relied on heavy use of propaganda, and tore the very humanity from their victims. Our species now stands at a paltry million. Our cities now stand quiet, desolate, and crumbling. And some of those who turned their backs to our species even possess the gall to call it ‘home’ again. They come back to our lands, expecting for us to act as if nothing had ever happened. Their tales of love and happiness invading the ears of the defiant, chipping away at the willpower and tenacity that made us so great.

“And that is where the IHSA comes into play. A centralized district for every area of the world, they are the last places where any man, woman, and child can escape the corrupting propaganda put forth by our fallen brethren. Each one holds anywhere from fifty thousand to a hundred and fifty thousand humans, all working and communicating in tandem to bring our species back to its former glory. We achieve nothing if our brilliant minds are so spread out. But together, TOGETHER, we can achieve greatness!”

The entire crown leaped into the air, the deafening cheers pounding at Isaac’s eardrums. He and Will both stood up to clap, but without the bravado as the rest of the crowd.

“And remember. Everyone has a piece to contribute, and each one is as valuable as any other. And know this: Every human that is ponified becomes an enemy to our cause. They no longer seek to see our species flourish, but to see it further assimilated. So stay diligent.”


Isaac needed to take some time for himself. After Frank’s speech to the new ‘recruits’ as he called them, many things bothered Isaac about it. It felt more like indoctrination. He asked Will to head back to the house while he sorted out a few things on his own. Underneath the late afternoon sky, the sun was taking on a yellowish-orange hue, the clouds above glowing with it.

Isaac wondered to himself whether or not coming here was a good idea. Sure, he wanted to help his species, but he wasn’t too keen on the whole anti-pony agenda it seemed that the greater part of the population here possessed. The speech seemed to stroke the egos of those who listened. It appealed to the sense of being human, feeding one’s pride, reinforcing Frank’s message: the ponies must pay for what they did to us.

As he sat on a bench on the border of the woods, he leaned back, listening to the wind as it blew through the trees. The branches bending, the leaves fluttering, the bugs chirping. Something else was there though. Every so often, Isaac would hear various grunts, and cries coming from the woods behind him. He rose from his seat, and began trudging his way through the foliage.

After a few dozen yards, Isaac came across a small clearing. In the fading twilight, he could make out the silhouettes of three large men, and two figures in heaps on the ground. One was off to the side, not moving aside from the rises and falls of breathing. The other was in the middle of the three men, getting kicked and beat. The cries and pleads were clearly feminine, and Isaac couldn’t just let them keep doing this.

“Hey! What’s going on back here?” Isaac shouted. The three looked up from their prey, beady eyes locking onto him.

“We found a coupla pegasi snoopin’ around the woods back here. Damn varmints don’t know they don’t belong here. We’re teaching ‘em a lesson!” one of them said. Isaac recognized him from the orientation; clearly he and his goons were on some sort of high from hearing the pro-human speech.

“Come on! She’s defenseless! Just let her go.”

“Hey boys,” the leader said, “looks like we got ourselves here a pony-loving faggot. Why don't you make him comfortable?” Before Isaac could figure out what he meant by those words, he felt his arms yanked behind his back by great meaty hands, and his hair pulled back. His head was held up to see the hapless victim from before.

She was a bright yellow pegasus... with a blonde mane...

“SUNNY! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?!” Isaac screamed. The pegasus tried her hardest to meet his eyes, but could only lift her head a few inches up. She tried a few times to speak, but most of it came out as coughs and blood.

“I-Isaac... h-help... its m-me... E-Erika...” Her head fell back down into the dirt.

The words hit him like a freight train. How had he not figured it out before? Her surprise on seeing him? How she knew that his sister still loved him? How she shouted his name back to him when he was leaving when he remembered never telling her beforehand? And why of all places was she here?

“Well, looky here, boys! Looks like our fag here knows this here varmint! Watch real close here, boy. This is what happens to you when ya side with them fuckin’ ponies!” The leader lifted his boot heel, with a dreadfully insidious look on his face. Isaac slammed his eyes closed. There was a sickening crack followed by what would haunt him for the rest of his life.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH... AH... AHHHHHHHH!!!!!” The piercing screams tore at Isaac’s ears and his heart. It echoed throughout the forest, certainly heard back at the fort. After her throat gave up in protest to her screaming, she broke down into wracking, heaving sobs. Each one ripped away at Isaac, threatening to break his sanity. Isaac opened his eyes to see his sister’s wing bent at a horrifying angle and its feathers stained red. Her entire body shaking, she couldn’t hope to fly again unless it was seen to immediately, but Isaac feared that she might not even make it that long.

“Oh, well look at that. Neither of you two are smiling. What a shame. Looks like I'll have to put a smile on your faces, won’t I?” The leader pulled a sickeningly long blade from his jacket pocket. The blade looked... familiar... The way it caught the dying rays of the sunset... the jagged nicks and stains... This very blade had been brandished to Isaac before.

It was the same thugs at the Conversion Bureau during the protest. The same thugs who threatened his life if he didn’t show his commitment against the ponies. The same thugs who tore his family away from him. And Isaac had just found the one last member of his family who still cared about him deeply, and they sought to take that from him.

“I think I'll start with the little girly. Time to put a smile on your face!” he sneered, each word dripping with malice, the knife reflecting the last rays of sunlight into Isaac’s eyes.



A missile of brown fur shot out from the darkness, impacting the leader square in the back, and sending him flying into the dirt with a loud crack. Isaac took the moment of confusion to jump away from his captors when he felt their grips loosen. He fell down to his hands, looking towards where the leader and the Pegasus landed. Both were unconscious, and the knife lay in the grass beside them.

Isaac twirled around at the thugs behind him, already in the middle of a swing of their fists. Isaac knocked one out of the way, but took the other to his gut, knocking the wind out of him. He collapsed to the ground in a heap, gasping for air. He rolled away from the two with what energy he could find, his breath finally returning to him as he rose to his feet. He lunged at the left thug, knocking him to the ground.

Isaac repeatedly slammed his fist into the thug’s throat before getting hit in the side of the head by the fist of the other. Isaac’s head was spinning, his chest burning from the exertion. He rose back to his feet, wobbling in place slightly. When his vision steadied, he saw the body of the one thug still on the grass, his chest slowly rising. He was out for the count.

Isaac turned back to the last conscious thug, his focus coming back. He felt his muscles reinvigorate from his small victory. Now it was a fair fight. The thug ran at Isaac, his fists directed straight at Isaac’s head. Isaac slid to the side, and before the thug could react, he brought his foot up in a swift kick. His shoe connected with the jaw of the thug, who collapsed in a cacophony of cries and moans. Isaac figured he may have shattered the guy’s jaw.

“Well, it looks like I gotta be the one to set ya straight, faggot.” Isaac immediately rolled forward, narrowly dodging the knife as the large man swung it down, digging it into the dirt. He growled, raising the knife for another strike. Isaac rose to his feet and turned around to face the thug. He realized his back was to a tree and the rest of the forest.

“Listen up, asshole. I’m gonna fillet you, then feed you to those ponies back there. Seems that girly one knows ya, so I’m gonna go ahead and give her a double helping. Now STAND STILL!” he screamed, lunging again at Isaac. He jumped to his left, but he was slow. The knife sunk into his leg, cutting down along his thigh and calf before Isaac was clear of the attack. Isaac screamed out in agony, blood beginning to stain his pants. The gash didn’t feel particularly deep, but it compromised most of his ability to move quickly like before.

“Like a wounded animal, with the wolf circling and ready to strike the killing blow. Oh, I’m gonna do it nice and slow like. I’m gonna enjoy this.” Isaac looked up at the thug, fearing that his life was about to come to such a miserable end. He was going to die, out here in the middle of the woods by some brute while trying to save his sister. The sky was starting to darken down to a deep violet, but there was something in the sky... a silhouette. Isaac rolled out of the way just as the brown pegasus landed a vicious high-speed headbutt to the man, knocking the two to the ground yet again. But it didn’t knock the thug out like before. He rolled over and began strangling the pegasus under his meaty fingers.

Isaac acted so quickly he didn’t feel his leg protest. He didn’t feel his hand grasp the knife that was laying in the grass beside him. What he did feel, was the dreadful warmth as he sunk the blade into the thug’s neck from behind, blood following the blade as he withdrew it from the wound. The thug gurgled in protest, clasping his hands around the wound in his throat in vain to stop the bleeding. He fell backwards, his eyes staring up at the sky as the last traces of life left him.

Isaac froze, looking down at his hands. Even in the dim light, he could see and even smell the ferrous odor of the blood staining his hands. He just killed someone. He killed someone with his own hands. He never even thought about killing someone before, and not even just now. It was all reflexive. But even so... Isaac felt... ruined. A little voice in his head rose up from the noise of the pain coursing through his mind. The bastard deserved it. He was the worst kind of person, the kind that needs to be put down. He brought it on himself when he hurt Erika. Isaac quashed the voice, choosing not to listen to the hate-filled words.

Isaac fell onto his back, his body finally scolding him in the form of his muscles aching and burning in pain. After a few minutes, he rose onto his good leg and limped over to the shape in the dark that was his sister. Isaac started to gently ease her up. The moment he tried to move her wing, she let out a gasp of pain. Her wing was hanging limp at her side, still bent at a horrific angle halfway up the first bone.

"Just... Just stay there for a minute. I'll figure this out," Isaac wheezed. Isaac looked over at the two thugs, both unconscious now. The scene was bad enough, and he didn’t want to stick around no matter how much his leg would hurt. Isaac limped over to the brown pegasus, his face buried in the leaves and dirt. Isaac gently shook him awake, who greeted Isaac with a startled yell. Isaac covered the pony's mouth with his hand, silencing him. Isaac looked into his large, brown eyes, which were still filled with panic and concern.

"We need to move her. Can I count on you?" Isaac asked with a hushed tone. The pegasus responded with a quick nod. "Good. Now I'm going to lift her up onto your back and you'll need to carry her further into the woods. We don't want to be around when these two wake up." Another nod. Isaac took his hand from the pegasus's mouth. They both walked slowly over to the now unconscious yellow pegasus, the brown one leaning down onto his knees.

Isaac propped his sister's broken wing onto his shoulder as he picked her up, being careful not to move it more than he had to. He gently placed her hooves around the brown pony's body, his wings splaying out to keep her from falling off. Isaac placed her broken wing on top of the brown pegasus’s wing. Better to keep it still until they get a brace for it.

"Bullseye. My name's Bullseye," the pegasus whispered.

"Nice to meet you, Bullseye. Isaac Hamilton. I'm Erika's older brother."

The two eased their way into the dark forest, their feet and hooves crunching the sticks and leaves that littered the woodland floor. The trees were far enough apart for Bullseye to walk through without having too much trouble with his wings.

"Nice to meet you, Isaac. I've heard so much about you from her. I was her flying tutor when she was first ponified.” Bullseye looked back at the unconscious body on his back, and sighed. “Even during her lessons I could tell that she was distracted. I finally asked her, and she told me all about her parents and about you. Her parents abandoned her once they got ponified, moving straight into Equestria.”

Isaac stumbled on his wounded leg. “What? They just abandoned her?”

“Yeah, real shame. They just took the first ferry out to Equestria once they got ponified, eager to leave everything behind and start over, including Sunny. She was a real wreck after she told me all of this.” Bullseye stretched out a wing in front of Isaac, stopping him. “Hold on.” The pegasus pushed through a thick bundle of branches and twigs littering the forest floor in the darkness. He stomped them down with his hooves, flattening a path for Isaac to walk through unhindered.


“Don’t sweat it. Sunny was under my wing for a full week for flying lessons. Once she was ready to move to Equestria, it also happened on the end of my contract as flight instructor. I figured since she had nopony out there what with your parents abandoning her like they did, she could move in with me. W-Well, as long as she was okay with it,” Bullseye stammered, beginning to get a bit embarrassed. “I got her a job at the Ponyville post office as a mailmare, same place I worked. We housed together and worked together for a few years, she and I occasionally heading back here to America to help out with other Bureaus and to do deliveries.”

“Sounds like she was enjoying her new place, not that she ever saw it coming,” Isaac chuckled.

“Right. She and I eventually began to grow steadily closer to each other, and so I eventually mustered up my courage to ask her to dinner, like a proper gentlecolt. We hit it off pretty well after that. We’ve been dating for six years now, and... I feel like I’m ready to take the next step.”


“I was about to ask her today after she got home after a delivery, but when she did get home, she was frantic. She wanted me to come with her so she could follow you. She really wanted to talk to you. She never stopped thinking about you, Isaac. We followed your car here, and... well, you know how the rest turned out.”

Isaac looked down at the brown pegasus. “Why didn’t she come and see me while I was still at our old house?”

“It’s... complicated. She wanted to. She really did. It was tearing her up inside. But she was terrified about how you would react. She didn’t know how you would act around her as a pony.”

Isaac sighed. He would have loved it if his sister showed up again after his parents left with her. He would have loved to hear about everything about the Bureau, about the ponies, about ponification. Isaac was glad she had found someone to grow close to, though.

“Hey, Bullseye.”

“Y-Yeah?” he grunted back.

"If it's worth a damn, I say you should still go for it. You earned my trust when you saved her life back there. She must matter a whole lot to you, Bullseye. I can't think of a finer man... er... stallion... to look after my sister than you." Isaac gave the brown pegasus a smile, only to see his eyes wet with tears.

"Y-You have no idea how much that means to me, Isaac. And for what it’s worth, you saved all of us. W-When we get out of this place, I’m going to ask Sunny for her hoof in marriage, and make her the happiest mare she can be!" Bullseye yelled to the woods, his voice shaking with sheer joy. Tears were streaming out of his eyes, and were now spreading to Isaac as well. He felt that lump growing in his throat. He was sure that there wasn't anyone or anypony better to keep Erika safe than the one before him.

"W-who are you t-talking about, Bullseye?" a faint voice asked from behind the pair. Isaac and Bullseye both gasped, Bullseye, dropping to his knees.

"Sunny! You're awake! I'm so sorry I couldn’t help you sooner than I did..." Bullseye cried.

"It's okay... You saved my life, you dummy! Thank you so much..." she said, burying her muzzle into the messy brown mane before her, wetting it with her own tears.

"Erm, I'll be right back. I'm going to find a stick to brace your wing with, okay Erika?" Isaac asked. She lifted her head from Bullseye's mane to give him a nod. Isaac looked to Bullseye and gave him a wink. Almost immediately, his face lit up brighter than the sun.

Isaac walked out into the trees, scanning the ground with the light from his phone. Most of the sticks around were too small to provide any kind of support, or too big and would weigh her wing down. He walked further into the brush, looking up into the trees as well. There it was. A light grey branch, long enough to brace the section of the wing, and light enough to...

"YEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!!!! WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!" The cheer echoed through the forest, birds and other animals running away from the noise. Isaac smiled as he reached up to grab the branch and began his walk back to the two.

When he came upon them, the two were locked in an impassioned kiss, their hooves wrapped around each other. They both were in the throes of joy, and Isaac didn't want to interrupt them just yet. He walked out behind a tree, and pulled his phone back out. He tapped a quick message onto his phone to Will. [Gonna be out a little later than I thought. Don't wait for me.]

Isaac felt at his leg wound. It still hurt like nothing else, but it seemed like his pants were acting as a sort of bandage, helping the clotting. The blood wasn’t flowing anymore, so it wasn’t a serious gash. It didn’t keep it from hurting like it was serious. After what felt like fifteen minutes, Isaac heard the two begin talking again. "We'll have to get in touch with everyone! Oh my... That's gonna be a lot of letters!" his sister said.

"So I take it you two lovebirds are finished?" Isaac called from behind the tree as he struggled to stand up. He walked back out to the two, who were laughing lightly, clearly embarrassed.

"Hehe, sorry Isaac..." Sunny said.

"Okay, sis. Let me see that wing." She struggled to unfold her wing, each inch causing her to wince in pain. Clearly, it needed to be seen to immediately. Isaac took the coat off his back and secured the branch in place with the sleeves. He lifted her back onto Bullseye's back, her wing stretched out straight. It wasn't the best brace in the world, but it would do.

"Bullseye. Fly her straight to a hospital. And Erika... I mean... Sunny... Try and keep it still until you see the doctor. And one more thing... Take this." Isaac handed he his phone, which she took with her hooves. She looked up at him with a confused look on her face. "It's so I can still talk to you and hear what you've learned about Equestria! I’m gonna be hard at work here, and probably not going to be able to get out much. I set it so you can just tap the screen to answer it when I call. When you get a chance, go ahead and check our old house. In my old room there should be a solar charger for the phone. It connects directly with satellites, so reception won’t be a problem. How can I stand to see you just this one time?" Sunny smiled. She leaned out to gently nuzzle Isaac's cheek, and gave him a light kiss.

"Thank you Isaac... I hope we can see each other again," she said.

"Of course we will! How else am I gonna see your kids?" he said with a smirk. She dug her muzzle back into Bullseye's mane, trying to hide her embarrassment. If there was any light, her face would be a shade of crimson, as would Bullseye’s. "And Bullseye. Looks like I'm going to have a brother in law, aren't I? I just have one thing for you to promise to me: Be sure to keep her safe."

"I promise with all my heart!" he shouted. With a few trots, he started into a gallop, flapped his wings, and rose up past the tree line into the black of the night.

Isaac looked up into the black sky. He truly hoped that he could see them again. He corrected himself: He would make sure that he would see them again.

"Wait... How am I gonna get back with no light? Ah, hell." Isaac said to himself. Sighing, he turned back towards the way he came from before to the best of his judgment, and began walking.


Isaac walked down the stairs, the air growing colder and stale with each step he took. He was following Will, Quincy, and Roxy down into the science building to their lab, the home of Science Team 8. It was early in the morning, they had been requested at the lab at 8:00, much earlier than Isaac and Will were used to.

Isaac had made it back to the house the night before without anyone noticing the bloodstains on his pants, and quickly secluded himself to the bathroom when he got home. Peeling the pants off was agonizing, but after cleaning the wound and applying real bandaging, the pain was quick to ebb away. The cut was far from dangerous as he figured, but it was sure to leave a scar all the way down his leg.

They finally reached their floor and stepped out into a somewhat empty hallway. There were doors with windows next to them, leading to dark labs stuffed with old equipment. The group rounded a corner and came upon a lab with all of the lights lit.

They opened the door and walked in. The lab was spacious, lined with a single lab bench cutting through the middle of the room, two computer terminals lining each of the side walls, and a large desk at the front of the room, covered in folders, papers, and several data discs. Beside the desk stood two men: Frank Dunland, who Isaac and Will recognized from the speech the evening before, and another, a shorter and tubbier man standing beside Frank.

“Ah, so kind of you to join us. Welcome to your new lab, everyone. As you already know, I’m Frank Dunland, and this here is your team leader and organizer, Roger Truman. He’s here to make sure that everyone is working their respective jobs. If you need anything, ask him and he’ll forward it to me.

“Now as you all may know, each lab team has a specific project they are working on. You all have some sort of specialty in genetic engineering and organic chemistry, which is necessary to your work. One of our teams had stumbled across a gene found only 3 ponies out of the entire population that makes them immune to magic. Using this as a template, we have determined the appropriate gene required to grant a pony with the ability to absorb magic, compounding it within themselves, and using it themselves.

“The issue is, that when we have tried to synthesize this gene into our, ahem... ‘stock’... results were less than fantastic. They needed to get back to their work, so we’re shifting all relevant documentation and research to you four. Find a way to get that gene into a pony. That’s all I ask.”

Without another word, Frank shook everyone’s hands and strode over to the door, leaving the lab to the group. Roger handed each of them a heavy folder filled with various files, as well as a small, green holo-drive in each. Isaac picked out the drive and looked at it. It was thin, green, and transparent. Inside the walls, lines and flecks of light were spread out from top to bottom. Ones this intricate could potentially have an almost limitless capacity depending on how advanced the compression encoding was.

“Now, since we have so few people, Frank was kind enough to get each one of you an AI partner, stored on your holo-drives there. We won’t be getting much in terms of... well... anything else to be honest.” Roger walked back over to a computer terminal, pulling up a list of things. “We have 4 TC100p portable cloning tanks, several gallons of genetic duplication solution, a couple gallons of ponification serum, four separate stem cell clusters to act with the gene seeds for the cloning process, and a single Gamma Laser for the gene modifications.” he started.

“Wait a bloody minute. TCs? Those things are pieces of crap! They were phased out 20 years ago from countless technical oversights and not to mention ethical shitstorm that followed they’re abysmal failure rate!” Quincy yelled, his face turning red.

“I know, I know. That’s all they could spare from team 3. And they can’t spare any ‘stock’, so we had to come up with some... alternative solutions,” Roger sighed, his shoulders falling. “We want to collect tissue samples from each of you and use those as our test subjects.”

Will looked up from his folder. “So essentially we’ll be ponifying ourselves to some capacity. Am I correct?”

Roger fidgeted with his hands for a moment. “Erm, well, I suppose so. We’ll take a DNA sample from each of you, use the laser to punch in the proper gene sequence, and apply the ponification solution. Hopefully, we’ll end up with the correct sequence after ponification. After that, we move to the cloning tanks.”

Roxy leafed through the sheets in her folder on the table next to her. “So we have to figure out the proper gene sequence that will, during the application of some sort of energy that NO HUMAN has ever understood to ANY capacity, create a ten-thousand gene long sequence? That could take years! Decades even!”

Isaac looked through his papers as well. Roxy was right. No human had ever understood the ‘magic’ that the ponies kept referring to that they used during the ponification process. And to create such a complicated gene, then apply some sort of unknown energy to it, and trying to predict the outcome? The gears in his head began to creak to life, and started crunching the information.

“And that’s why you each are getting AIs. They should help the working process along significantly. Why don’t you all nab yourselves a terminal to use and start going over the raw data? Um, Isaac, can I talk to you for a minute over here?” Roger asked. The three others had already pulled out their holo-drives and were walking over to the terminals in the lab.

“Y-yes?” Isaac said. Did he already do something wrong?

“We know all about you and your... distrust of AIs. We didn’t want it to be a hindrance to your work, so we requisitioned a prototype AI code-named SyRE from one of our researchers, a Dr. Thomas Marcus. Your friends all got typical worker AIs. SyRE, on the other hand, is a thinking AI. He doesn’t do work as much as the others, so you can do everything yourself, but he can still give feedback and even offer ideas. Why don’t you go and introduce yourself.” Roger shooed Isaac towards the open terminal, located right next to Will.

Isaac took his folder and eyed the holo-drive again. It seemed to twinkle in the light more than it had before. He sat down and plugged the drive into the port on the tabletop. The screen came to life, displaying some boot-up commands, followed by ‘Synthetic Recognition Emulator Initializing...’

“Hello, user. My name is SyRE. I’m sure it will be a pleasure working with you,” a synthesized voice buzzed over the speakers.

“*AHEM* H-Hello SyRE. My name is Isaac. Roger told me you are a ‘thinker’ AI. What does that entail?” Isaac asked.

“I am a recognition emulator. I think about the deeper meanings and reasoning to the data presented to me, rather than crunching the numbers. Due to my unique nature, my decommission lifespan is vastly longer than any other AI.”

Isaac rested his chin on his hand, opening up the folder again. He leafed through the documents. “How long is that then?”

“If I operate at my designated specifications, I can function for five hundred Earth-years before logic redundancy buildup, or decommissioning, occurs.”

Isaac was very impressed. Typically, an AI could only go about five to ten years before redundant processes build up within its processing cores, preventing it from being able to operate at any functional capacity. Even if left alone, an AI will reach this point by itself. AI engineers could sometimes ‘salvage’ these decommissioned AIs and use the uncorrupted data to generate new AIs that retain most of their functions from their past incarnation. But since SyRE was a ‘thinker’ and not a ‘worker’, he wasn’t at the risk for redundancy buildup as easily as other AIs.

“Very nice. Alright, I have two rules for you, okay, AI?” Isaac said.

“Yes, sir?”

“First: I do the work. Second: Do not do anything unless I give you expressed permission to do so. Got it?”

“Yes, sir. I have already added these commands into my hard coding. Do you accept these changes? I am unable to change lines of hard code without your permission.”



“Say, SyRE. Can you pull up information on the tests that team 3 did with this gene sequence?” Isaac was curious about what this ‘stock’ that team 3 was using. He feared the worst.

“Team 3 used a gene mod serum on the stock ponies that the HLF had captured for intelligence gathering operations. Every subject who was given the serum developed fatal mutations to their bodily form.”

Isaac didn’t want to think about what those innocent beings had to go through, or even what else they were being subjected to by the other teams.

“Okay. Can you forward me the logs and gene files from the, um, ‘stock’ tests?”

“Yes, sir. May I ask what you are planning?”

“Not just yet,” Isaac said. “I have an idea, but that’s well down the road. We need to do some tests, seeing how the ponification process affects human genes. I’ll let you know when I get it figured out.”


“How in the bloody hell does he expect us to actually come up with something like that?!” Quincy hollered, cracker crumbs hurtling from his mouth across the table. Isaac wrapped his arms around his bowl of soup to protect it from the barrage, instead getting his shirt sleeve coated in the crumbs. He pulled his arms away, wiping the filth from his shirt, giving Quincy a minor scowl. Isaac finally took a sip from his soup: chicken barley. Not exactly what he wanted, but at least the chicken tasted real.

“And what exactly was it he wanted these clones to do?” Will asked. “Frank said that this gene allows for the absorption and amplification of magical energies. It just screams trouble if you ask me.” Will took a bite from his salad and a sip from his neon green drink. Isaac cringed at the sight of the fluid. He had vowed to avoid the stuff. He didn’t want his insides to start glowing that color.

Roxy strutted over, taking the seat next to Isaac. She too had gotten the salad, along with a steaming cup of hot water, a small string hanging off the side. Roxy noticed Isaac’s interest. “It’s raspberry tea, honey. Nobody else here drinks the stuff, so they give the teabags away practically for free. Here, I’ll go grab you some. I have to let mine steep for a bit anyways.” She gave Isaac a smile before walking off.

“You got an eye on our chocolate queen there, Isaac?” Quincy murmured, crackers flying out from his mouth yet again. Isaac had noticed that he had been watching her walk away a bit more than was polite.

“I, uh, I was just surprised she was going to get me some of the tea, is all! And about that gene, it’s completely absurd for Frank to expect us to come up with some sort of reliable way to replicate a process so prone to mistakes.” Throwing himself back into the original conversation, Isaac was able to sweep away any more thoughts about before. “I mean, I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but genetics isn’t like playing with building blocks. It’s like each block tries to knock another from a random place. And you can’t just build the tower right away, you have to assemble it in a way that a completely mysterious process, no details about it is known to us, can assemble the right tower, down to the exact molecule. We’re looking at years to just understand the ponification serum on it’s own, let alone the genetic manipulation to get that particular gene he wants.” Isaac finally took another spoonful from his soup, feeling the warmth expand through his body.

“Ain’t that the truth. Got a good head on ya, Izzy.” Quincy finally managed to say something without showering the group with cracker crumbs, something Isaac felt he should be commended for. A steaming mug was placed on his tray before him. Isaac looked up to see Roxy had rejoined the group.

“Thank you!”

“Aw, it’s nothing, sweetie.” Roxy rubbed Isaac’s shoulder before taking a sip of her own tea, slowly taking a gulp of the rosy fluid. The scent wafted over to Isaac, catching him entirely by surprise. The aroma was soothing in such a way that he never felt so clear-headed since he was much younger. His sinuses were clearing, his mind waking up much faster than before, and not to mention that it smelled pretty darned good, too.

Isaac took a slow sip, careful not to burn his tongue on it. But as the tea entered his mouth, he pledged never to even think about drinking any of the disgusting neon water ever again. The tea was a soothing blend of raspberry and citrus, balancing the tart flavors with soothing herbs and spices. He couldn’t help but grin boyishly after swallowing.

“So what were you boys talking about before?” Roxy asked, her fork swirling some lettuce around the plate, picking up the dressing.

“Oh, just about how bullshit this job is, nothing important for you to get your little head worried over.” Quincy took a swig of his beverage, a neon blue drink, that left a blue stain on his upper lip. Isaac felt his stomach turn at the thought of the taste of that drink.

“I’m more concerned about the clones. Say we get the sequence right. Say we have our clones ponified and the gene is there. The what do we do? What does Frank want them for?”

“Ain’t it obvious, missy? He’s gonna brainwash ‘em, send ‘em in as sleeper agents, and send ‘em after Celestia and Luna. They’ll try and strike our little monstrosities down, only to be smitten themselves. Disgraceful, but hey? Whatcha gonna do ‘bout it?” Quincy tossed his empty glass onto his tray, rising to his feet from the table. “Well, I got some bloody reports to look at. Those arseholes in Team two really did a number on those stock ponies. What a damned mess. I’ll see what I can salvage, what happened to each one of them.” Quincy gave a huff and stormed off.

Will downed the rest of his soup, finished off his neon drink, and got to his feet as well. “I’ll see what I can get from the actual reports of the ponies born with the gene. From what I saw, they didn’t live too long. Tons of other shit wrong with them.” Will walked off, depositing his trash and leaving the cafeteria.

Isaac looked next to him, seeing Roxy starting at her tea. She had a frown on her face, her expression one of either sadness or anger; Isaac couldn’t tell which. “Do you think they’ll do that to them? The brainwashing and the murder missions? For the Princesses?” Roxy asked. Her voice was low, her usual chippy intonation missing.

“Unfortunately... I think so. It doesn’t mean I’m okay with it either. I have nothing against the ponies or their Princesses. But... I have nothing else going for me.” Isaac sighed. He noticed that Roxy had started staring at him with her hazel eyes now. “I... just want to be a part of something. I want to help our people. I wasn’t doing anything helpful out there. I was wasting away. So as long as I’m doing something, I’m happy.”

“I know, sweetie.” Roxy gave Isaac a gentle smile. “I helped out in Atlanta with the people still living there. I couldn’t bear to leave my home, to leave the one thing that reminded me of my family. But I too got bitten by the bug. I wanted something, something that wasn’t there. I was ready to move on, so I came here. I just wish that I could be doing something other than creating super assassins from our own genetic code.” Roxy looked back down at her cooling mug of tea and took a long sip. Isaac did the same with his.


Isaac laid on his back, staring up at the dark ceiling in his room. The computer hummed softly in the corner. He turned his head to the side, trying to see how long he had been laying there. 3:29. Well, shit. Isaac never had any sleeping issues before, but he couldn’t get to sleep for the life of him tonight. He and the rest of his housemates retired at ten that evening, needing the rest before they could get started on their work the next day.

But Isaac had been laying there for hours, and his mind just wouldn’t wind down like how it was supposed to. He kept thinking about so many things: finding the gene sequence, the clones, the ethics behind ponifying the clones, the true goals behind their project, and Roxy. She had been on his mind all day, since getting lunch.

Though he had never really caught the eye of any girls before, he still had eyes for them. And Roxy was no exception. While in years past, the idea of him being with Roxy, a white man with a black woman, would have been frowned upon. But those ideas of racial arrogance have since long passed. Isaac didn’t even really see her skin color. She was very down-to-earth, kind-hearted, and sweet.

“Ugh.” Isaac groaned as he pushed himself out of the bed. He staggered over to his desk, the monitor lighting up gently as he sat down.

“Is everything alright, sir?” SyRE asked in his buzzing voice.

“Can’t sleep. Hm... Can you pull up some of those docs on the mutation we’re researching?” Isaac asked, groggily.

“Of course, sir.”

A series of files opened up on his computer, along with genetic maps of the gene itself. Isaac read about how an earth pony foal was born, the doctor at the time trying to levitate it from the mother to ease the birth. The foal had absorbed the magic, and in it’s panic, killed it’s mother. Even simple things like that can be fatal with this thing?

Isaac opened up the next case. A newfoal (pony slang for a recently ponified human) was trying to learn how to use her magic. Her instructor was trying to teach her basic levitation and kinesis, but the more the instructor tried to show as an example, nothing happened. The newfoal was absorbing all of the magic the instructor poured into the teacup he was trying to manipulate, and when the newfoal tried, she poured all of her energy into it. The damage to the Bureau was extensive. Neither of the two survived.

The final case was only to be expected with such a mutation. A newfoal pegasus went on a murdering and thievery binge, using his ability to avoid any attempt at capture. Any kind of effort to apprehend him with magic was fired back at the police, resulting in severe losses. They called in the few human officers still serving who were able to deal with the convict swiftly and decisively. Turns out not even the mutation could stop bullets.

“Great. SyRE, can you pull up the tests done on the stock ponies?” Isaac felt sick at realizing what he had just said. Isaac recoiled upon seeing the horrific pictures opened on his desktop. Ponies of every kind and color were either on the floor or barely able to stand. They were presumably subjected to gene therapy to try and directly implant the gene into their bodies, but they didn’t take too well.

Some were ‘blessed’ to be able to walk away from the treatment with only a new limb sticking out from their bodies before dying a few minutes after their picture was taken. Others... weren’t so lucky. Flesh boils, severe hemorrhaging, and... Isaac almost vomited at the other results of the sick and twisted experiments. And in all of the pictures, various scientists stood around the bodies of the ponies, looking intently at them, taking notes on clipboards. Clearly they cared not for the victims, but for the results.

“Alright, I think that’s enough, SyRE... I don’t think I’ll ever get back to sleep after seeing those.”

“Would you like me to delete them from my local memory?”

“Yes. Yes, please."

Chapter 4

View Online

“So, you want our AIs to do... what again?” Quincy asked.

Isaac looked across at the group. “I need a complete cypher of the effects of ponification on the human gene.”

“Honey,” Roxy began. “That’s gonna take... oh I don’t kn-”

“A year and a half. I know. I did the calculations. Getting the gene records of every human who underwent ponification as well as their genetic makeup after the fact won’t be anything to worry about. I asked Roger to bring it up to Frank. If all of our AIs work in tandem, we could have the cypher in eighteen months. Without it, we really won’t have any idea where to head for this project.”

“Your plan sounds, erm, how do I put it? It makes sense, but what the bloody hell are we supposed to do in the mean time? A year and a half of sitting here on our hands won’t do a lick of good.” Quincy took his glasses off and wiped the dust on the lenses off on his shirt.

“Roger brought that up to me too. He says that Frank will be able to give us temporary work assignments around the compound while we wait on the results.”

The group of four stood in silence in the lab, none of them knowing what else to do. The past six months of work had produced no results in the form of progress towards their goal. The door opened to the lab, breaking the silence between everyone.

“I got everyone’s new jobs!" Roger cheered, waddling over to his desk, dropping a big stack of papers onto it. “Quincy, you’re going over and helping out at the Stillwater Clinic. Your knowledge of pharmaceuticals will be sure to get you into the swing of things quick and easy.” Roger handed Quincy a small folder. He walked over to his desk, reading the contents.

“Roxy, dear. You’re gonna be heading to help out at the school. We got plenty of kids here, and we can’t have them just sitting there doing nothing. The principal will assign you a class and a subject when you start.” Roxy took the folder, her smile brightening the room.

“Will! You’re headed to Comms and Intel. Your skills with computers will be indispensable for getting data from still live networks around the world.”

“And Isaac. You... Uh, Frank found out about your little... encounter a few months ago. Two injured, one dead. He agrees that it was in self-defense, but can’t let you get away with it with no consequences. He assigned you to the Stables. You’re going to be a guard for the Stock.”

Isaac took the folder and slogged to his desk. He was really hoping that it was too dark for either of the two thugs he left alive to identify him, but it seems that his luck ran out. At least he wasn’t going to be punished too badly... until he reminded himself of his new job. The Stock ponies. The captured ponies the IHSA gathered and experimented on. Isaac’s stomach turned, the photos of the ponies experimented on back when they were first trying to graft the counter-magic gene into them directly floating back into his memory.

Isaac was half regretting the proposition for the cypher compilation and subsequent reassigning of jobs. He screwed himself over.


“Hamilton! Get your sorry ass out here!” Isaac winced as he ran out along the raised platform. His superior, Major Joseph Anderson, was going to be a hard ass from day one it seemed. Isaac stood straight before the uniformed man. “Do you know what Frank told me to do to you while you’re down here?”

“No, he did not, sir.”

“He told me to make sure you do your job. That’s it.” Isaac felt his hope rise a bit. “You’re gonna be on the graveyard shift. Only one. The filth down there just needs a pair of eyes on them. There’s nothing left in them. No hope, no drive. They’re miserable, pitiful excuses for intelligent life.”

Anderson did a run-down of the things Isaac needed to keep in mind. Isaac was to do patrols every hour during his shift to make sure that everything was quiet, keep an eye out for any interactions between the ponies, and in case of some sort of an issue, to hit the alarm button in the security office. Most if not all of the ponies would be either asleep or crying silently at the time, so things were bound to be uneventful. Anderson left Isaac to his duties, heading off for some shut-eye.

Isaac decided to get his patrol done with for now, walking along the elevated wooden platform, looking down into the shallow pits where the ponies lay. Many of them were asleep, others gazed up at him through glazed over eyes. He felt a chill run through his spine as he watched them. Isaac really wished he could do something for all of these innocent ponies. They were here only to die by the hands of mad scientists who treat them as something lesser than just another sample.

Isaac finished his short patrol of the six pens, none of the ponies lively at all. He retreated to the security office, eager to get out of the chilly night air that constantly blew in through the poorly built structure. It was hastily assembled from steel beams and wooden paneling for the walls, and wooden platforms rising up from the ground, isolating the six pens. Each pen was about twenty feet wide on all sides, a single ramp with a gate barring the only entrance or exit.

The only thing worse than the conditions they lived in was what they did to the ponies themselves. The earth ponies didn’t have anything that made them special, so they were left alone. Unicorns had their source of their magic, their horn, sawed or broken off. Horns are capable of growing back through rigorous magic therapy, but such treatments take months to complete. Then there were the pegasi. All that remained of their majestic wings were fleshy stumps rising from their backs. Each one had their wings removed upon entry to the pens.

Isaac stared at the computer screen in the security office: 12:30. It was going to be a long night.


“Oh... my...” Twilight began. She had stopped writing, her eyes growing wide at the conditions they ponies had to suffer through. “And you had to be a security guard? F-For this... place?”

“Yeah, it seemed that those thugs told Frank that I was trying to protect a pony when I attacked them. What worse punishment could you put someone through than witnessing such depravity first hand?” Isaac took a sip of his drink, relishing the sweetness as it bathed his tongue. “So I had to put up with it for all that time. Anderson ended up not being so much of a hard-ass, but I rarely saw anyone else.

“Whenever I would try and talk to any of the ponies, they would all scurry away from me, as if I were some sort of monster. The ones who did... they weren’t there the next night. They were bumped up in the experiment queue. I still remember each of their names... Limelight, he always wanted to be a star on TV. Glimmer, she wanted to be a weather pegasus. Domino, he was a farmer.

“The pattern started to emerge that if anypony talked to me, they’d be as good as dead. It was Frank’s way of sticking it to me, I guess. So instead, I would work on some solo projects on the computer in the security office to get my mind off it. All that time I spent on the computer was dedicated to that gene sequence and how to implement it.”

“And so I’m guessing that things were fairly routine until SyRE and the other AIs finished their job?”

“Yeah. SyRE still helped me out with my work. He couldn’t handle the amount of data the others were, being a special AI and all. Roxy was loving her work at the school, Quincy constantly complained about his work at the clinic and how everyone there came in with the tiniest little things wrong with them. Will would frequently tell me about his exploits in hacking through mainframes around the world, ripping data from them as if it was no big deal.

“I... The work was grating to me. Seeing the melancholy faces of those ponies all night every night... It was getting to me. Just like Frank knew it would. I wasn’t getting numbed to it, certainly not. But fortunately, my work with team eight finally started back up.”


“God DAMN I’m glad to get out of that place. Pesky gits. I mean, some bloke came in yesterday with a splinter. A SPLINTER.” Quincy recanted his story to Will, who laughed along with it. Roxy walked next to Isaac. He hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before since he had to work his last shift. He had to sleep during the day, and with everyone milling around the house, he was frequently woken up, and rarely able to get any sleep after that.

“You alright, honey?” Roxy asked. She had been trying to help console Isaac about the things he saw at the Stock Stable. Fortunately, he wasn’t needed for the... amputations or the experiments, otherwise, he would have snapped.

“I’ll... be fine. I just want to have a normal sleep schedule again. That’s all.” Roxy gave Isaac a soft hug, his woes slowly dissolving for the brief moment. She pulled back and gave him a smile, which he returned. He was feeling a bit better.

Upon entering the lab, the group met with Roger again. They exchanged greetings after being away on other jobs for so long, the now less pudgy man pulling up a file on his computer. “Well, we got it! A full cypher for ponification’s effects on DNA. Any DNA sequence we plug in, we will know what it’s outcome would be after ponification. Brilliant idea, Isaac. Now, we need to actually-”

“No need.” Isaac patted the shoulder of the confused man. They all looked at him, interested. “I had plenty of free time, so SyRE and I worked a method of applying the sequence to the templates indirectly. We punch in a pre-primer sequence into our sampled DNA, that after ponification, will open itself to easy genetic manipulation through an injection. That would fix our clone’s DNA to have the desired gene.”

“That... Just how much free time DID you have, Isaac? Surely science and genetics wasn’t the first thing you did all alone at night over there.” Will joked.

“Alright, alright. Come on, people! Let’s get this started! Isaac, you and SyRE have the proper pre-primer sequence to put into the clones, right?” Roger asked, tapping the keys of his keyboard.

“Yeah. SyRE should’ve uploaded the templates to you.”

Roger stood at his computer for a moment more. “Alright! Well, no time like the present, let’s collect some samples!”

Roger took swabs and handed one to each of the four people, and instructed them to run it along the inside of their mouth. After collecting them all, he deposited them into separate beakers filled with a milky white fluid.

“I’ll get these samples fixed up for you guys. Go ahead and take the rest of the week off. The clones will be ready for ponification by then. Go! Get outta here! Go relax!”



“So what?”

“So why are you still working?”

Isaac sighed. He placed the beaker down on the lab table and looked up at Roxy. “I still have plenty of research to do on this stuff. I mean, sure, we have the cypher, but I want to know a bit more about the serum itself.”

Roxy took the beaker off the desk and looked at it herself. “So it’s purple, it smells like grapes, and it turns people into ponies when they drink it. What more is there to know?”

“Think about it. I mean, they’re able to achieve a complete genetic remapping. Throughout an entire human’s body! Sure, magic plays a big role in it, but...” Isaac paused. He turned his head to see Roxy staring right at him. His heart began racing, his eyes peering into hers. Isaac took the beaker from Roxy and turned back to his desk, his cheeks practically on fire. The serum sloshed lazily in the beaker, the walls tinted purple from where it washed against.

Isaac bgan pouring the serum into a small test tube, the thin stream of fluid slowly dripping down.

“How about I treat you to dinner?” Roxy whispered, wrapping her arms around Isaac’s waist.

Isaac lurched forward from the sudden advance, his grip in the heavy beaker almost giving away. He kept his hand securely locked onto it, but not the contents. A small portion of the purple serum splashed on Isaac’s hand.

Slowly but gradually, a warming sensation began to envelop Isaac’s hand. The sensation was comparable to having his arm wrapped in a warm blanket, but he payed that no heed. His mind was aflame with panic and fear.

“SHIT!!! Shitshitshitshitshit!” Isaac placed the beaker and test tube down on the desk and sprinted over the sink. His hand was starting to feel warmer now, the sensation creeping its way up his arm. Looking down, he saw his skin beginning to darken around the serum-soaked part of his hand.

Isaac turned the faucet on full blast and soaked his hand and arm with the icy cold water. The warming sensation gave away, the purple fading from his skin and down the drain. He let the water run until he couldn’t feel his arm anymore. Isaac gave a heaving sigh, his entire body trembling.

As the panic drained from him, Isaac looked up to see Roxy, a look of horror on her face. She was staring right at him, a hand over her mouth. She ran over to Isaac frantically.

“Oh god, Isaac! I’m so sorry! I shouldn't have done that while you were handling the serum,” Roxy wrapped her arms around Isaac, pulling him into a big hug. Isaac apprehensively put his arms around the woman, relaxing his body. His heart was starting to slow down from its grand prix, his breathing becoming smoother.

“It’s... okay. It was a very dilute sample... and it wasn’t designed to be administered through the skin. I managed to stop it, though. Don’t worry... just be careful when you... do that again, okay?”

Roxy buried her head in Isaac’s neck, Isaac bringing his hand up and gently ran his fingers through her tight black curls. She brought her head back, looked into Isaac’s eyes, and gave him a small peck on the cheek.

“OY! YOU TWO! Will an’ I are headed down to the pub! Get your sorry arses out here an’ come with us! Las’ bit o’ fun til we’re back at it tomorrow!” Quincy shouted from outside the lab.

Roxy and Isaac both shared a frustrated sigh. Isaac looked down into Roxy’s hazel eyes and smiled. “I guess I owe you a nice dinner now, don’t I?”

Roxy chuckled softly. “I’ll hold you to that. Now let’s go have a bit of fun. We can pick this up again later, okay?”


“Okay, now for the moment of truth, you guys.” Roger walked over to the four lined up tanks, inspecting the connections and input pads on each tank. After making sure everything was secure, he walked back to his desk and sat in his chair. He tapped his computer’s keyboard for a moment.

“The clones are about a year and a half old, the age acceleration factored in. This is to ensure that they can get ponified without any major problems arising during the process. Aaand, here we go.” Roger pressed a button on his computer. The cloning tanks buzzed to life, the eerie purple serum beginning to flood each tank. The once clear fluids each clone floated in now took on a violet hue.

The effects weren’t instantaneous, but they did happen much faster than anyone expected. Isaac watched his own clone begin to shift. Bones began twisting and moving, shifting into new shapes and positions. His skin began turning a new color, small hairs sprouting from it. The head began warping, the jaw and nose pushing out from the rest of his head. Hair began sprouting from his head down his neck, his new mane growing in.

It finished somewhat quickly. The tanks were flushed clear again, the violet tint fading away, giving each clone their true new colors. Isaac walked forward and peered into his clone’s tank. Inside floated a pegasus pony. Still asleep even after the ponification, the foal slept soundly. His coat was a vibrant sky-blue, the short mane and tail a bright white. The hairs seemed to reflect the light shining into the tank, looking almost like spun silver thread.

“Eugh. I hate green.” Quincy scowled and walked away without looking too much at his own ponified clone, a green coated earth pony with a pitch-black mane. He went back to his computer and began reading over some documents.

“I never expected myself to come out as a unicorn.” Will looked in at his clone with a apprehensive curiosity. His clone was a bright red, the red horn poking out through an orange mane. “Pretty neat, I guess.”

Roxy walked to her clone’s tank, her eyes wide and glistening with tears. “They... they’re like our children...” She placed her hand on the clone’s tank. The foal inside was a deep blue unicorn, topped with a bright yellow mane. Roxy couldn’t take her eyes off the foal; she was hypnotized. She stayed kneeling there, unmoving even after Quincy and Will left for the house. Roger departed not long after, asking Isaac to lock up and turn off the lights when he and Roxy left.

“Roxy? Are you okay?” Isaac asked, packing his things up, getting ready to leave himself. She didn’t move. “Come on, I’m getting a bit worried.” Isaac placed a hand on her shoulder, but withdrew it when she spun her head around, a ferocious look on her face.

“I won’t let you take her from me.” Isaac backed up, eyes wide. Roxy turned back around and looked back into her clone’s tank.

“Right... well lock up when you’re done.” Isaac opened the door to leave and turned back to look at Roxy once more. “Please be okay. Please,” he whispered to himself before leaving.


Isaac awoke to sunlight shining into his eyes from the window. He slogged out of his bed and into the bathroom to wash up. It was the first full night’s worth of sleep he’s been able to have in a long time. Between his work at the lab and the constant stream of thoughts coursing through his head, he had very little time to just relax.

He walked downstairs and into the kitchen. He reached up into one of the cabinets for a mug and filled it with near-boiling water from the faucet. He reached into another cabinet and pulled out a small box. Roxy had never been able to drink the vitamin drinks that the fort always served, and opted for raspberry tea whenever she could. She had offered her cache of tea packets to Isaac during the first week they moved in, letting him use them whenever he wanted. Isaac was never a tea person in his past life. But now, he couldn’t keep a steady head during his work without a steaming mug of it on his desk.

Isaac dropped the teabag into the mug, watching the tendrils of color start to spread from the small herb bag. He just noticed that he didn’t see anyone else since he woke up, which was odd, since they all usually left for the lab together every morning. Isaac shrugged to himself. Perhaps they were all sleeping in after finally finishing the toughest part of their work.

Isaac thought back to what he saw in the tank. The small equine form lingered in his mind. The aqua blue coat... the silver-white mane... Isaac thought it was funny what Roxy had said before he left the night before.

“They’re like our children...”

Isaac supposed she was right. They had slightly modified the genetic structure, slight mutations would also be present, but still retain enough similarity to his own genetic roots that the small foal could in fact be considered his son. He never thought that he would end up a father, even if it was for some pastel-colored pegasus. “Gee, I’ll have to give him a name at this rate,” Isaac said to himself.

Isaac walked back upstairs with his mug of tea and sat in front of his computer terminal in his room. The screen winked to life, along with the speakers.

“Good morning, sir. Anything I can help you with today?” SyRE asked.

“Yeah. Can you dial up Sunny Days on the encrypted line?”

“Of course. One moment, please.”

A window popped up on the screen, showing his video feed next to a black window. After a few moments, the black gave away to a bright yellow face, already smiling.

“Isaac! You haven’t called in forever!” Sunny yelled.

“Sorry, sis. Been working pretty hard down here. How’s Bullseye?”

“He’s out right now, picking up some breakfast. And by the way. I still don’t forgive you for missing the wedding!” She said with a frown on her face.

“Security is really tight around here, and since I’m working on pretty important stuff, I really can’t get out of here. But when I do, you’ll be the first pony I come see. How does that sound?”


“I was meaning to ask you. Why did you come out here back then? I didn’t want to bring up any bad memories the other times I've called...”

“It’s okay, Isaac. My wing made a full recovery and I’ve been flying ever since. But when I saw you run off from the beach, I couldn’t just let you go again. I wanted to talk to you as Erika, not as Sunny Days. So I got Bullseye to come with me and we followed you down to Delaware. When we saw the guys carrying the guns, we landed in the woods to try and look around on hoof, when those thugs jumped us... We never did anything to them!” Isaac saw her eyes begin to glisten with tears.

“It’s alright. Some of the people here... they do terrible things to ponies. Most of the time without any provocation.”

“Then why are you working for them?” she asked, tears wetting her face.

“Because... Because... I...” Isaac started. “This is all that’s left for me. I don’t have any more options. I’m hoping that my work can help create a future for both ponies and humans. I’ve gotta go. I need to be at the lab. I’ll call you again soon, I promise.”

“Oh... Okay, Isaac. Take care,” Sunny said. Isaac closed the link, took one last gulp of his tea, and walked out from the room. He grabbed his bag from the living room, and left for the lab.


When Isaac finally arrived at the lab building, he made his way down the flights of stairs down to the lab. He walked down the hallway, and as he rounded the corner, he knew immediately something was wrong. The doorway was covered in “CAUTION” and “DO NOT CROSS” tape, and the windows were obscured by a translucent tarp. He whipped the door open, and upon doing so, he truly wished he hadn’t.

The lab was filled with people. Isaac was able to pick out ones he recognized: Will and Quincy stood next to each other, discussing something between them. Frank Dunland was practically yelling at Roger, his face a bright red.

“Wh-... What the hell...” Isaac muttered.

Will walked up next to him, and placed his hand on Isaac’s shoulder. His face was dark with gloom. “It’s Roxy... There was an accident last night after you left.”

Isaac didn’t know what to think, or even what to feel. Isaac walked over to the center of a large group of people, pushing and shoving his way to the open area in the center.

It was Roxy. She was on her back, her eyes glossed over, staring at the ceiling. She was smiling. Her dark skin seemed a bit greyer, but it looked almost as if she was still alive.

Frank Dunland walked up behind Isaac. “Don’t worry, kid. The lady was crazy. She brought it on herself when she opened her clone’s tank. Roger, forward me a full report of what happened the minute you find it out. I have something I have to take care of.” Frank stormed out from the lab, slamming the door behind him.

Isaac looked over to the cloning tanks. Roxy’s tank had it’s top hatch wide open. So she took her clone out before it was ready? Why would she do that? He looked to his own clone’s tank. The main control panel on the front had a large scorch mark on it, almost as if it was hit by a bolt of lightning.

“It seems that the magic from Roxy’s clone fried the tanks. The Age Acceleration drives on each one were the only parts damaged, fortunately.” Roger said from his desk. “Okay. Got the security footage from last night. Lets take a look.”

The group gathered around the screen at Roger’s desk as the static cleared. Roxy was still standing in the same place she was when Isaac left. Her head darted from side to side, looking around the lab. The speaker came to life.

“It’ll only be for a minute... Nobody has to know... I just want to hold her...” Roxy whispered. She punched in a code onto the front panel of her clone’s tank, which let out a loud beeping as the tank cover began to open. Roxy reached in, and scooped up the dark blue foal into her arms.

“She... she’s so small... so soft... just like Rory and Casey... Please...” she said to the foal, holding it closer to her chest. “Please don’t leave me like they did...”

The foal began to squirm in Roxy’s hands, her face lighting up in joy. “D-Does that mean you’ll stay?!” she cheered. The foal opened her eyes, looking up at the human holding her. The clone began to moan, eventually growing into loud cries. “Shhh, shhh, it’s okay.” Roxy tried to calm her clone down, holding it close to her chest. A smooth light began to come from the foal, bathing the lab in it’s white glow. Tiny flashes began to appear around the pair, the foal crying louder than before. The flashes grew into small crackles of electricity, striking out at the lab and equipment around them.

There was a bright flash, a crash of thunder, and a scream. After the camera recovered from the interference, the lab was still. Roxy was on her back in the position she was still in. She stared at the ceiling, with the same smile she still wore.

Nobody said anything after the video ended.

“It was the radiation from the magic the clone used. She was killed almost instantly,” Roger murmured.

“I-I could have snapped her out of it... I could have stopped this!” Isaac yelled.

“Listen Isaac. We all saw her when she looked into that tank. She snapped when she thought of the clone as another child of hers. She was beyond saving after that,” Will said.

“I know... but she didn’t have to get herself killed!” Isaac slammed his fist into the desk.

“Alright fellas. I don’t think we’ll be able to get much done in the lab with it in this condition. Take the rest of the day off. I’ll send out messages when we know what’s gonna happen to us,” Roger said.

Isaac couldn’t work today even if he wanted. The thoughts of Roxy were still tying his gut into knots, the guilt and dread hanging down on him. You could have stopped this. She would still be alive if you helped her. Voices whispered in his head, chiseling away at his fragile mind. Each accusation, another bit of his old self gone forever. If you loved her, you would have helped her. You never did love her did you?

NO! Isaac screamed in his head. I DID LOVE HER! I wanted to be close to her... I was never closer with anyone in my life before... Isaac whispered in his mind. I only let her be so she could tackle her personal demons herself... It wasn't my place to interfere... The voices quieted down, leaving his mind in peace for once.

He walked back over to the clone tanks and looked into his own. The small blue foal floating in the tank didn’t seem any different or worse for wear other than that. Isaac was in fact glad that his clone wasn’t being forced to age prematurely anymore.

Isaac picked up his things and walked out from the lab, refusing to let his eyes anywhere the darkened corner of the room.


“That’s... horrible... I’m so sorry you had to go through that...” Twilight said. She had stopped taking notes a quarter of the way through, and instead listened closely.

“She’s always been on my mind since then. So much could have happened between us. I keep playing those few times I spent with her alone in my head over and over again. But...” Isaac let out a stuttered sigh, feeling chocked up at the memories. “So! I think it’s getting a bit late, wouldn't you say so, Morning Roast?”

The pony leaning on the door was startled back to reality after listening in on the interview. “Oh, uh, yeah! Oh don’t you two worry your little heads about that. You two are welcome here any time you’d like! Does that mean you’re gonna start wrapping up?”

“Yeah I think so,” Isaac said. The sun was beginning to set, and the breeze was beginning to get a bit chilly.

“Oh no no no! You can’t stop now! What happened after that?” Twilight asked.

“Why don’t we wrap up here first and I’ll tell you the rest back at my place, if that’s alright with you? The story is almost finished.” Isaac stood up from his chair and pulled out a small jingling sack from his pocket. He fiddled around with his hand inside, drawing out a small handful of bright golden coins. He handed them to Morning Roast, who smiled and nodded in return.

“Keep the rest as a tip. Thank you for putting up with us,” he joked.

“Oh, why the pleasure was ours!” she giggled, before heading back inside.

“Got everything?” Isaac asked.

Twilight was busy packing all of her supplies into her saddlebags. Her notebook itself looked like it was going to rip the bags open by itself.

“Just about... There! All done. Ready when you are!”


As the pair approached the door to Isaac’s house, Isaac turned the brass doorknob and eased the door open slowly. He flipped the switch next to the door, illuminating the living room with a bright light. He flipped a few more, lighting the outside patio, keeping the dark of the night at bay.

“Well let’s get back into it. What ha-” Twilight began, before being hushed by Isaac.

“Shh. You’ll wake him up,” Isaac whispered.

Twilight cocked her head to the side, confused. Isaac walked over and sat on the couch, looking down at his side. Twilight walked around with him, and saw what he was talking about. Fast asleep on the sofa was a young pegasus colt with fur as blue as the sky and a mane so brilliant it looked like spun silver.

“That’s... No... It can’t be! That’s... your clone!” Twilight whispered, trying not to yell.

“Yeah. I named him Windchaser. He’s been staying with me since I left the IHSA. I’ll explain more in a little bit.”

“Explain what daddy?” a tired voice asked. The colt had woken up, and was giving a great big yawn, stretching his legs out over the sofa.

“There’s my big stallion! Get a little tuckered out, buddy?” Isaac asked.

“Yeah... With SyRE working, I got really bored. I watched some movies... but I guess I fell asleep...” Windchaser said before letting out another long yawn.

Twilight looked on in wonder at the two of them. What she saw there was a true connection between father and son, even if they were closer to being clones.

“Hello there Windchaser. My name is Twilight Sparkle. It’s an honor to meet you,” Twilight said courteously, holding out her hoof.

“Hi Miss Sparkle,” Windchaser said, shaking it.

“Windchaser, I’m having Auntie Sunny pick you up very shortly. You’re going to be spending the evening there while Miss Sparkle and I finish our talk. Okay?”

“Sure thing, daddy! I haven’t seen Pearl and Bracket in forever!” Windchaser cheered. Seems he was wide awake now.

“Now make sure you behave. They’re still young and you’re their role model-” Isaac said before a series of knocks came from the door.

“It’s open!” Isaac called out.

“Oh, right!” a voice said from the doorway.

“Thanks for coming over on such short notice, Sunny. I need the house to myself for the evening. I’ll come over and pick him up by eleven.”

“Sure thing, Isaac. Say, who’s this? Oh Isaac! I didn’t know you were looking for somepony! Wait til Bullseye gets a load of this! If you two ever need more alone time, just let us know!” Sunny laughed. Twilight’s face began to take on a slightly pinker hue.

“Uh, sis, she’s one of Celestia’s advisers...” Isaac whispered. Sunny caught herself in mid-laugh and stuck her hoof in her mouth with a high pitched *squeak*.

“Oh I'm so sorry! I hope I didn’t offend you, ma’am!”

Twilight recomposed herself, shaking her embarrassment from her face. “Oh, it’s quite alright. Isaac’s been telling me his story. I know all about you Sunny Days!”

“Well I hope he only mentioned the good parts! Well, I have to be off. Bullseye can’t handle the kids for too long without me there. Come along now, Windchaser!”

“Sure thing Auntie Sunny! Bye-bye daddy!” the colt called.

“I’ll see you later tonight, son,” Isaac said, before giving Windchaser a light kiss on his forehead. He ruffled his white mane, and sent him off. Isaac closed the door behind them, and walked back to sit on the couch.

“I’m sorry about all that.”

“Oh it’s quite alright. She’s very kind and charming. Why did you have to send him out with her, though?” Twilight asked as she levitated her materials back out onto the table in front of them.

“I... I can’t let him find out about the IHSA and what happened there. He’s... not ready to know of those atrocities.”

“I can only imagine what you went through when you were over there. I can’t even begin to think what those truths would do to such an innocent mind.”

Isaac nodded. “Well, shall we continue? We’re gonna have to jump ahead a bit, if you don’t mind.”

“Oh not at all! Please, do continue,” Twilight said as she pressed the red button on the recorder, her notebook open in front of her, and a smile adorning her face.


Isaac fell into his chair before his computer screen, exhausted from his day of work. Since the accident at the lab, He, Will, and Quincy had been reassigned to various different lab teams to assist as lab technicians, or to put it more accurately, slaves. They had to do all the clean-up, fetch anything any of the other workers needed, and were never included in on any of the work. Their project had been put on indefinite hold after the accident that took Roxy’s life. But it was better than working down at the Stock Stable again.

Isaac woke his terminal up, the screen shining brightly in the dark of the evening.

“Hello, sir. How was your day?” the speaker buzzed.

“Awful, SyRE. I don’t feel like discussing it too terribly much, to be honest. Have you picked anything up on the secure comm lines?”

Isaac had been growing suspicious of Frank Dunland since he arrived at the IHSA. When he discovered that SyRE could encrypt his secret calls to his sister Sunny Days, he asked SyRE if he could spy in on other information floating around the IHSA network. Very little of it was of any concern to Isaac, but sometimes he would get lucky and pick up on mysterious notifications from the other IHSA facilities around the world.

“I received another communiqué addressed to Mr. Dunland that had been delivered this afternoon. It was a single line of text.”

Three words lit up on the screen in front of Isaac.


“There have been no other signals received from the base referred to as Site 8. Frank believes it to be lost to the enemy. That makes this location the only one active.”

The pattern had begun just this past month. One by one, the other IHSA bases had begun going silent, not sending out their routine updates between the other sites. Just last week, three bases had gone silent one day after another. Until now, there had been no information as to why this had been happening. In other messages SyRE intercepted, Frank as well as other staff had simply brushed it off as either technological failures or weather patterns interrupting their signals. But this was the first notification alluding to the fact that a IHSA site had been lost.

“This can’t bode well for us-“ Isaac began as a message notification popped up on the screen. Isaac clicked it, opening the short message from Will.

>Come to the command barracks. URGENT<

Without hesitation, Isaac grabbed his bag and sped out the door. If Will said it was urgent, it had to be. Isaac just hoped that it was nothing bad.


Isaac rushed up the steps into the main building. One of the receptionists greeted him and pointed him to the staircase. Will had left a note with them for when Isaac arrived. Isaac followed the directions down to a dark corridor in the basement. When he arrived at the room the receptionist indicated, he slowly opened the door.

Inside were two rows of chairs in front of a large glass window. Behind the window sat a mint green unicorn who was shaking and twitching madly, seated at a small table. Isaac peered through the darkness in the room and saw Will seated in the front row. Isaac shuffled in and sat next to him.

“So what’s going on, Will?” Isaac whispered.

“This unicorn was caught near one of the gates, trying to break in. He was asking for Quincy by name.” Will rested his arms on his legs, slouching forward. “Frank asked for Quincy to do the questioning while we watch on.”

“But what are the guards for?” Isaac asked, eyeing the two uniformed men stationed on either side of the nervous unicorn, bearing dark assault rifles.

“Frankly, I don’t want them to have to be necessary,” Will sighed, leaning back into his chair.

“But it’s better to have them there in the first place and not need them than to need them when they aren’t around, wouldn’t you agree, men?” Frank had just walked into the room, dressed in a full formal military uniform. He took a seat nest to Isaac, and gave a hard pat on his shoulder. “Don’t worry. They’re in there to make sure your friend Quincy is safe. He should be coming in any minute now. Curious how they knew where your friend has been staying, wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Hamilton?” Frank sneered, glaring at Isaac.

“Uh, yeah. That is odd. No idea how they could’ve known.” Isaac felt his stomach drop. Did Frank know about his calls to Sunny? Was he under suspicion as a traitor? Before he could finish his thoughts, a door into the room opened up, and Quincy walked in. He pulled up a chair to the table opposite from the unicorn

“What’s your name?” Quincy asked.

“Uhm, uh, Minty Fresh...”

“Your REAL name,” Quincy growled, his voice audibly fiercer.

“Quincy! It’s me! Tom! Tom DeLaney! From Dylan Pharmaceuticals! Your pal! Come on, cut me some slack! I’ve b-been roughed up since I-I got here!” The unicorn’s voice was starting to crack and stutter in places.

“Why are you here Tom? Why did you ask for me? Me in particular?”

“I-I-I wanted to try and talk some sense into you! Surely you’re miserable here! C-C-Can’t you just follow the rest of your friends and just join us? Y-Y-You’ll f-f-feel so much b-b-better!”

Quincy closed his eyes and rubbed his brow. Isaac was more concerned about the unicorn than Quincy. Surely he didn’t go through all this trouble just to try and talk Quincy into ponification.

“I-I-It’s the greatest feeling in the world! Y-Y-You of a-a-all people would b-b-benefit from it the most, y-y-you g-g-grouch!”

“SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP, TOM!” Quincy screamed, making the unicorn almost fall over in his chair form fright. “You can’t be serious. You come all the way out to the middle of nowhere just to try this shit on me again? You and all the twits back at Dylan tried to talk me into it once before, and I stand by that decision. I’d rather eat my own bloody colon than be a pony!”

“I-I-I w-w-was a-a-afraid of that... I r-r-really w-w-wanted you to just take the e-e-easy way out. Y-Y-You see, everyone e-e-else back home are s-s-saying that y-y-you lot a-a-are the ones h-h-holding everypony back...” Tom began, his stuttering even worse than before.

“I don’t have any time for this...” Quincy said as he began to stand up from his chair.

“B-B-But y-y-you can’t g-g-go! I-I-I h-h-have s-s-something t-t-to show y-y-you!” Tom cried, his horn starting to glow a sickly green color. It slowly shifted to a deep purple hue, and mist started rising off of his coat. He started to chuckle, the mist slowly rising into the room. The chuckle grew into a laugh, but one of a madman.

“Ehehehaha... hahahahahaha... HAHAHAHAHA!”

“End it,” Frank muttered into the speaker. The two guards in the room nodded, raised their guns, and fired a single shot each at the mad unicorn. A fine red mist sprayed all over Quincy and the table as the head slammed into the table, a trickle of blood dripping onto the floor from the pool of his blood. Quincy recoiled in shock, staring at the still body in front of him.

“WAS THAT SO FUCKING NECESSARY?” Quincy screamed at the window, before slouching over from a fit of coughs. Both the guards had dropped their guns and were coughing along with Quincy. Isaac stared into the room and saw the purple mist was still rising from the unicorn’s fur.

All three of them in the room were doubled over on the floor in pain. The coughs has stopped, but were replaced by grunts and cries of pain, the bodies convulsing on the floor below the purple blanket of the mist. More cries echoed out from the room, all the while Will and Isaac looked on in horror.

Frank reached back for his walkie-talkie. “Evacuate the room, and get a HAZMAT suit ready for me.” Frank stormed out of the viewing room and down the hall.

With a loud whirrrr, the mist in the interrogation room swirled and was swept into the ventilation pipes. Three blurred figures remained in the room. As the last of the mist cleared, the two guards in the back slowly rose to their feet, their legs trembling below them. They looked at each other, not saying a word. Their faces described it all.

“What... what the bloody hell... happened?” a voice groaned from below the window. Isaac and Will stood up from their chairs as a figure stood up from below the glass.

Quincy shook his head, clearing the daze from his mind, but what he felt was unnatural. It felt like he had more hair than normal, and his legs didn’t feel right. He looked down, trying to figure out the situation. Before his eyes were two dark green hooves. “Wh-wh...” was all Quincy could manage. Quincy had become the spitting image of his clone: a lean earth pony with a deep green coat and a pitch black mane.

The door to the room opened again, but this time entered a figure coated in a bright yellow HAZMAT suit. Behind the mask was the grim face of Frank. He eyed Quincy, who still was in a stunned daze from his new condition. Frank walked behind the table to the two guards. They had become grey earth ponies with black manes, still stumbling on their new legs. Frank reached into the pouch that hung at his side, pulling out a semi-automatic pistol and aimed it at the two.



The two slumped over, each with matching holes in their foreheads. Frank walked back over to Quincy, who still hadn’t moved an inch from before. “Take this one and toss him in with the rest of the stock. Maybe he can still be of some use to us. And get rid of his clone. Filthy vermin.” Frank stood back up and walked back out the door.

Will heard the door close not from in the interrogation room, but the door to the viewing room. Isaac had already left. With no other choice, he followed.

Chapter 5

View Online

Isaac had practically sprinted back to the house. He leaped up the stairs into his room, and started typing and clicking manically at his computer terminal.

“What is going on, sir?” the AI asked.

“We’re leaving, SyRE. Frank’s a madman, and we can’t stay here any longer. I’m going to back you up with everything else I can get my hands on onto a portable terminal.”

“If you say so, sir.”

Isaac began dumping all of his research data onto various portable drives, and started loading everything up into a backpack.

“What the hell has gotten into you, Isaac?”

Isaac jumped and almost spilled the contents of his bag. He looked to the door, and saw Will panting almost as much as he was.

“We have to leave. Like, NOW.”

“Not until you explain to me why. I’m not letting you do something stupid until I know the method to your madness.” Will walked in and gently eased Isaac to a seat on the bed.

“I can’t stand working for someone so heartless. I... I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I just want to get out of here. You saw what he fucking did to those guards! What makes you think he won’t do something even worse to Quincy?”

“There’s nothing we can do for him now. But you said that we gotta leave, right? Well, I don’t like it, but it looks like we’ve got no choice. We’ll take the truck we came in. I still have the keys. I’ll go pack up and meet you outside-”

“There’s one other thing,” Isaac said, still staring at the floor. “We need to go pick up my clone. I’m not letting him stay here.”

“You CAN’T be serious!” Will yelled. “They’re god damned science tests! Nothing more! Don’t go crazy like Roxy did! They’re not our children!”

“Well, you can do what you want, but no matter what, I’m going back to get my clone whether or not you like it.”

Will rose from the bed, and began pacing around the room. “You aren’t making this very easy for me, Isaac. I followed you here, hoping that for once in your life you had the guts to make a decision for yourself and stick to it... But I know more than anyone else that once you set your mind to something, nothing in heaven or hell can get in your way,” Will conceded. “You got a plan?”

“Who was the one who came up with all of our pranks back in high school?” Isaac said with a grin on his face.


Isaac gently eased the door to the storage room open, shining his flashlight into the dusty room. He slipped in, and when it was clear that he was alone, he gave the signal for Will to come in as well. Isaac spotted a strong metal cart in the corner and rolled it with him further back into the room. Will stood at the door, constantly peeking outside to check for any unwanted visitors.

Isaac rolled the cart down the aisles of old equipment as quietly as he could, looking up and down the shelves for the tanks. Row by row passed, and with each one, the unease began to grow in his chest. SyRE had confirmed that the tanks were in this storage room; it was in the documents he had taken from Frank. But where were they?

Rolling down the last aisle, Isaac pointed his flashlight down to the end, and saw them. Both tanks, his and Wills, still lightly humming with both clones still in one piece. Isaac hefted the small tanks onto his cart, setting his on the bottom, and Will’s on the top. He slowly rolled the cart back to the front of the room, but something struck him as odd. Quincy had been taken just a few hours earlier to the stock pony room, but where had his clone gone too? Surely it was too valuable to just throw out, and especially when both his and Will’s were still in storage...

Isaac rounded the corner to see the door. A thin sliver of light was shining out from underneath the door. The lights hadn’t been turned on in the hallway outside when they had arrived. Isaac saw Will with his back to the door, keeping it jammed with his foot, hoping that whomever was outside would just think it was locked if they tried to investigate it.

Even in the darkness, Isaac saw Will’s chest heaving up and down with each breath. They were so close. They had the clones. All they would have to do is wait for whomever was outside to lose interest and walk away, then they would load up the clones into the truck and be off away from this terrible place.

The light underneath the door began to shift as steps on the laminated floor tiles echoed from outside. Everything seemed to freeze for those short moments.


The shots rang in Isaac’s ears as the door was kicked open. Will was thrown to the ground several yards away, his breathing ragged and wet. The lights clicked on, filling the room with a blinding glare that caught Isaac by surprise. Will was surrounded by a growing puddle of red. In the doorway stood the last man Isaac wanted to see that night: Frank Dunland.

“Did you HONESTLY think I didn’t see this coming? You science types are always so FUCKING predictable! Always letting your conscience get in the way!” He yelled, lifting the assault rife into the air. He strolled over to the ragged body of Isaac’s best friend, and crouched over it. “What a shame William had to be swept away by your silly little plan! He had such a bright mind. Too bad you led him to his death!” He stomped his boot down onto Will’s back, forcing him to let out a howl of pain.

Out of the gurgles of blood and the wheezes from his punctured lungs, Will said one thing. “H-he... lp... me...”

Isaac was frozen. Frank let out a triumphant laugh, and shouldered the rifle as he pointed it at Isaac. “Say goodbye!” Frank yelled as he began to tighten his finger about the trigger.

Isaac began to hear the faint cracking of glass. Frank and Isaac had been too busy to notice what had been happening to the tanks on the cart. The tank on top was now violently boiling and glowing a fiery red. Isaac turned his head, and saw what had been causing it. The unicorn inside it had woken up, and it had seen the entire thing. They weren’t the eyes of an innocent child anymore; they burned with vengeance. Isaac took the opportunity to dive behind one of the shelves of lab equipment.

Frank opened fire on the tank, nicking the glass in various areas. One shot had landed on one of the cracks, causing it to spiderweb across the rest of the tank. The glass shattered everywhere, spilling the liquid inside onto the floor. Will’s clone was hovering in mid-air, surrounded by a fiery aura, making him look almost like a living fireball. Frank lifted his rifle back up at the clone, and pulled the trigger once more. All he got was a hollow click.

The unicorn flew forward, glowing as bright as the sun, and shouted


The force of the charge lifted Frank off his feet and launched him back into the hallway.There was a violent explosion, shaking the entire building to it’s foundation. As the light and heat began to dissipate, Isaac rose back to his feet, and ran to see the damage.

The hallway outside of the door was a charred wreck. The wall opposite from the door was scorched black, and melted in places. Isaac looked out the door down each end of the hall, and saw no sign of Frank.

“I...saa...c...” gasped a voice form behind him. Isaac whirled around and slid to the ground beside Will. His face was beginning to loose color, and the red puddle surrounding him was much bigger than before.

“Will! WILL! YOU CAN’T GO!” Isaac screamed. His heart had been put through so many hurdles since he arrived at the IHSA, he wished he never came here in the first place.

“I... It’s alright... Don’t get... so beat up... over it... ya wimp*cough*cough*” Will lifted his head up with the last of his strength. He winced from it, but continued. “J-Just promise... One thing...”

“Yes! Yes! Anything!!” Isaac cried, tears streaming down his cheeks.

"Live... live for the two of us...” Will let out his last breath and slumped over. His eyes dimmed as he faded away.


Isaac slammed the door of the truck shut, his eyes still slick with tears. He wiped them away with his sleeve, and started the engine. He stuck his clone’s tank in the passenger seat, keeping it secured with the seatbelt. He shifted the truck into reverse and slammed on the gas pedal, caring not for the other cars that the truck shared the lot with, but simply with getting away from this dreadful place.

He peeled out form the parking lot and down the winding roads leading to the entrance gate. As he approached the gate, the entire fort had come to life, lights flicking on everywhere, sirens beginning to wail. He slammed down on the gas, smashing through the wooden barricades and out into the streets. He sped down the road, still hearing the sirens wailing from behind him.

He figured the best place to go would be into the woods, away from anyone who would try and follow him. He remembered one of his uncles had a summer home somewhere in the hills around here, so that would be his first destination. He rounded a road carved into the face of one of the high mountains, and began to slow down. Over the side of the railing, he could see Fort Stillwater still alive and shining in the distance, the sirens still echoing across the landscape. He stepped out from the car and stared at the place that had once held hope for him, but only brought him pain and loss.

Several shadowed figures flew down the mountain right in front of him, almost knocking him down to his feet. Isaac squinted his eyes in the darkness and saw that they were indeed pegasi that had just passed over him. He saw them approach the complex, but disappear from sight. Nothing happened for several moments.

All of a sudden, a bright purple cloud of gas shot up from one of the buildings, falling back down to the ground, bathing the area in a thick haze. Several more plumes shot up around the area, and each one blanketed the complex in progressively thicker clouds. It was the same mist that Tom had used on Quincy... The ponies were forcing the humans in the IHSA into ponification. That’s what happened to all of the other sites around the world: they were all bombed by this ponification gas.

Isaac dashed back into the truck and sped further into the mountains, hoping he hadn’t been sighted.


It had been several hours of driving until Isaac had found the house that had once belonged to his uncle. When he pulled into the driveway, he saw that the entire place had been completely trashed. Looters, lodgers, and other hooligans had found and made a ruin out of it. Isaac knew too well that he wouldn’t find anything worthwhile there.

He turned off the car, and sat there. He pulled up his backpack, and opened up the portable terminal that SyRE dwelled in.

“Hello, sir. Anything I can help with?” the voice asked.

“You have GPS active, right?” Isaac asked, his spirit completely drained.


“Can you look for a house in a one hundred mile radius that still has power? Anything at all. And make sure it’s at least a fewvmiles away from any major road.”

“There is one about sixty miles down the highway and five miles down a path through the woods that appears to have been cleared just for it. I will give you directions as we go along.”

Isaac started the truck up again, feeling it rumble to life below his feet. The tank in the passenger’s seat sloshed a bit, shaking the small foal still suspended in it. He squirmed a bit, but fell back into his peaceful slumber.

Isaac pulled out from the driveway to his uncle’s ruined home, and started down the road, following SyRE’s directions.

“Sir, may I ask where Mr. Rathmore has gone to?”

Isaac felt the wound in his chest open once again. Will’s bloodied body laying there in the pool of red...

“He... there was an accident back in the lab. He didn’t make it,” was all that Isaac could let out before he would beak down again.

“I understand. I will pursue this topic no further. My sensors are indicating that the IHSA base at Fort Stillwater has gone silent. Do you know why?”

Isaac didn’t feel the same amount of sadness for the base as he did for Will’s death. “The ponies gassed the place in a bombing run. Forced ponifcation.” He said, his tone more balanced now.

“That would explain why the other bases went silent then. What do you think of the situation?”

Isaac pondered the question. What did he think about it? In the several calls to Sunny, never once did she seem hostile to him or his decision to stay human. Were all the ponies behind this?

“I don’t know. Perhaps they wanted to silence the IHSA, maybe to complete their assimilation of the human race, I can only really speculate for now. But all I know is that I can’t afford to show my face to any of the ponies from now on.”

The truck rumbled across the asphalt, the wind blowing into the cabin smelling crisp and clean. Much better than the smells from the IHSA.

“Turn right.” Isaac looked along the side of the road, not seeing an exit into the forest.

“I can’t, SyRE.”

Isaac looked closer at the rows of trees, each one set away from the next one by a few feet... except for two. Isaac turned the truck onto the dirt, and drove into the gap between the trees, tearing down branches and he pushed through the foliage.

When he cleared the trees, he saw a dirt path, just wide enough for a car to drive down. He stepped on the gas, hearing the dirt and gravel crunch below the tires. The path continued on like this for a while, Isaac driving slower than he normally would, being careful not to run into one of the many trees that lined the road and wreck the vehicle.

The first bits of sunlight began to brighten the sky as he continued down, before the rising sun finally shined down through the leaves and branches into the car. Isaac finally arrived into a wide clearing with a single house straight out of some suburban area in the middle. As he drive closer, he could see the entire roof of the building was covered in solar panels, with a fresh stream running through the clearing behind the house.

He pulled up next to the building, wondering if anyone was home at all. He turned off the car, and stepped out onto the bright white gravel driveway. He walked up to the front door, and to his surprise, it opened. Nothing seemed to be locked at all. He stepped inside the spacious house, looking around in wonder at how such a wonderful place could still be around with the state the world was in.

He wandered through the house, occasionally shouting "Hello?", but received no response.

He finally made his way into the kitchen, which sported a spectacular view of the forest surrounding the property. He looked down onto the counter and saw a slightly faded envelope placed delicately onto the counter.

Isaac opened up, and unfolded the letter within.

Dear sir/madam:

As you may already know, this house has nobody living in it. I apologize for possibly misleading you. And, as you likely already know as well, the state of the world is pretty interesting at the moment. I had this home constructed several years ago just in case there was a reason for me to leave civilization for some reason, seeking solitude.

Unfortunately, that time did in fact come. But when I sought to leave civilization, I found one so much better than the one I had previously thought to be the only one available to me. And as such, I have no need for this retreat anymore.

I leave this place to you, whosoever happened to stumble on this place. The solar panels will provide you with plenty of electricity, the stream out back will provide you with fresh water, and there is enough preserved food in the basement to provide for a single person for a full ten years.

Life isn’t always as bad as it seems. Make sure you always have something worth living for. Remember that.


Edgar Holbright

Isaac placed the letter back down, and sat at the table looking out to the field. Surely this was too good to be true. He feared that in moments he would wake back up, sitting in the drivers seat of the truck back at his uncle’s house, still in need of proper shelter.

He decided just to play along for the moment, enjoying the peace and solitude while his dream would allow it.

He walked back out to the truck, and began unpacking his bag, SyRE’s terminal, and the cloning tank. He carried everything inside, and set his things down in the main foyer. He pulled the crystalline green holo-drive from the portable drive and set it in one of the ports in the wall.

The speakers cracked and fizzled to life. “This place is quite marvelous, sir.”

Isaac knelt down and looked at the tank that held his clone afloat. “Hey, SyRE. Is there any way I can open this thing up without breaking anything?”

“Yes. Plug the cable from your portable terminal into the back of the tank and i will initiate the waking procedure.”

Isaac took one of the cables he brought with him in his backpack and hooked the tank up to the terminal. A series of lines of code lit up on the screen, and a faint whirr came from the tank as it came back to life. The lid slowly spun a few times, and lifted up.

Isaac reached into the icy liquid and scooped out the young aqua-blue foal. It squirmed and yelped in his arms, but calmed down shortly after once Isaac started to whisper to the foal. “Shhh, shhh, it’s alright little guy.”

The tiny figure Isaac was rocking in his arms finally opened it’s eyes, laying them on Isaac’s smiling face. Almost as a reflex, the foal began to smile as well. For the first time in as long as Isaac could remember, he was happy. No, he wasn’t just happy. This was the happiest he’s ever felt in his life. Tears began to form at the corners of his eyes as he began to hold the soaking wet foal closer to his chest.


Isaac opened his eyes to the sun poking through the blinds in his new bedroom. It turned out he wasn’t dreaming, much to his joy. He sat up, stretching his arms out, hearing the joints in his back crack and pop. He stepped out from the bed and looked around. The bedroom was a somewhat spacious one, the queen-size mattress bare when he got there the day before. The sheets were stored in the dresser, sealed in cases to keep them from getting dirty over the past several years the house had been empty. They were a plain white, but a smudge of color was poking out from under the sheets. A light aqua-blue.

The little pegasus Isaac had removed from the cloning tank. The foal was having trouble walking right off the bat, so Isaac carried the small pony with him for the remainder of the evening. Right now, the little guy was snoozing away, his head resting on the pillow next to the one Isaac had just been using. This was the only bed in the house, but... he didn’t know why, but Isaac would have wanted to keep the foal close anyway.

The little eyes popped open, the luminous green irises focusing on Isaac. The pegasus yawned silently, smacking his lips afterward. Breakfast time. Isaac stood at the foot of the bed, smiling at the pegasus.

“Come on, little guy. Just walk to me right here. You can fall and tumble around all you want on here,” Isaac said, trying to stifle a laugh at the image forming in his head. The pony pushed himself up on his four small legs, wobbling all the while. He took an apprehensive step forward, then another, then another, then... fwoomph. He fell right onto his face, right into a bundle of sheets. Isaac couldn’t help but laugh. But the laugh was... happy. Pure. It was a laugh he never felt before. And the foal joined in with a fit of giggles to accent it.

Isaac pulled the foal close, holding him against his chest. The pegasus looked up at Isaac as he walked the pair of them down the stairs and into the larger part of the house. It was fairly simplistic in it’s design: there was a kitchen with a dining table, a television room, and an office on the ground floor. The basement held the computer core as well as the majority of the food stores and batteries to store energy from the solar panels above. Isaac stepped into the kitchen and set the foal down on the wooden table.

“Hey SyRE? You up?”

“Of course, sir. I do not require sleep. You should know this.”

“I know tha- Whatever. Uh, let’s see... Do you know what ponies eat?”

The speakers stayed silent for a moment. “My records have a full description all aspects of a pony’s physiology. For the time being, I suggest feeding your clone vitamin supplements stored in the large cabinet above the sink, seeing as how we do not have any maternal milk. Grass and flowers are also part of a proper diet for your clone.”

Isaac couldn’t imagine eating something like that for breakfast. But as long as the pegasus was hungry, he’d do anything for him. Isaac stepped out the sliding glass doors from the kitchen out to the field behind the house. He saw the treeline about a half-mile in the distance, various bushes and grassy hills in between the house and there. He walked around the green expanse, collecting shoots of tall grass and dandelion blooms. They were everywhere. He’d have to check what flowers out there are edible for the foal before experimenting with any more.

Isaac walked back inside, hands full of grass and dandelions. He dropped them on the counter and walked over to the cabinets to look for bowls. He grabbed two white ceramic bowls and filled one with the greens and the other with water.

“Sorry, kiddo. I don’t think we got any milk here.” He placed the two bowls in front of the silent pegasus. He looked down at both, and looked back up at Isaac. “Fine.” Isaac took one of the blades of grass in his fingers and held it before the foal. After a moment, he opened his mouth and tossed it inside, trying to hide his distaste.

The pegasus looked down at the bowl of grass and slowly dipped his muzzle down, biting on a few blades himself. His eyes lit up, diving right back into the bowl, taking bite after bite of the grass and dandelions. He took a few gulps of water before digging right back in.

Isaac chuckled and looked around the kitchen to see what he could make for himself. For now, it would have to be a simple meal of oatmeal with cinnamon, brown sugar, and some of the freeze-dried apples that were hidden among the other foods in the freezer. But now that he thought about it, it sounded pretty delicious to Isaac.

He sat down with his bowl and spoon. The foal had already finished his meal. He watched Isaac as he began to eat, his eyes transfixed on the man.

“Ooohhh...” The noise escaped the pegasus’s mouth. Maybe...

Isaac put his spoon down, and looked directly at the foal. He pointed at himself and said, “Isaac. Isaac.”

“Ey... szak... Eyysack,” the foal struggled with his name. Maybe this would be easier...

Isaac pointed at himself again, and said, “Daddy. Daddy.”

“Da...ddy. Daddy!” The foal cheered, a smile lighting up his face. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” Isaac was surprised when the foal leaped forward, landing on his chest, knocking his bowl of oatmeal all over the ground. He wrapped his hooves around Isaac’s neck, burying his muzzle into his shoulder. Isaac brought his arms around the small pegasus and held him close. He could feel the foal’s tiny heart racing in his chest, the little wings on his back fluttering like mad.


“Hey, SyRE. Picking anything up on the radio bands?” Isaac asked from his desk.

“No, sir. I do not detect any more human activity.”

Isaac slumped down in his chair. “Can you connect with any other networks out there?”

“Yes, I believe I can so long as they have an active satellite link. What would you like me to do?”

“Can you download everything from Fort Stillwater? I want to know what else had been going on over there.”

“Of course, sir.”

Isaac leaned back in his chair. Everything seemed to be happening so fast. Just a few days ago, he fled the compound, and...

The memories came back with the force of a freight train. Roxy’s death. Quincy being forced into ponification by an old friend of his. Will...

A crippling sense of loss overtook Isaac. He sat in his chair for some amount of time, blurring together into some timeless span. He fought as hard as he could to keep his tears from returning, but when he thought he had it under control, the memories of his parents resurfaced. They left him by himself. They effectively disowned him, taking his sister away from him to the Bureau he had almost admitted himself to that day.

Everything he cared for was always taken from him. His family, Roxy, Quincy, Will... He had nothing left. He was a man without direction...

Isaac was awoken by a soft tugging on his pant leg. He sat up, wiping the tears from his face to see his clone spitting the fabric from his mouth. He looked up at Isaac, his bright green eyes meeting Isaac’s. The pegasus ran out the door, disappearing for a moment. He popped his head back in, looking back at Isaac.

“Sir, I believe he wishes to show you something.”

Isaac pushed himself out of his chair, following his clone out into the green field behind the house. The pegasus ran laughing up to the top of the highest hill, freezing in place at the top. Isaac watched as his clone’s head turned, his ears twitching. A few moments passed, as a gust of wind blew through his mane, the sun dancing off the bright white. The foal’s smile turned into a small frown, but he stayed on the hill, his legs bent and ready. Another gust blew through his mane, and this time his smile grew larger.

The pegasus’s wings began flapping like mad. He started into a wobbly gallop, and leaped off the hill. Catching the wind under his wings, he glided erratically through the air, straight into Isaac’s chest. Isaac and the foal were both knocked to the ground. Isaac’s chest was a little sore from the impact, but his attention wasn’t on that. The foal sat up on his chest and shook his head, trying to rid himself of the dizzying sensation of the crash.

“Wow! That was fantastic!” Isaac cheered, the foal giggling like mad.

“Yay! Daddy!” His clone latched onto Isaac’s neck in a hug. That was when Isaac realized he hadn’t even given the foal a name yet. He was his son. He should have a name.

“Hmmm... What should I call you?” Isaac set his clone back down on the ground, who was already running back up the hill. He froze at the top again, waiting for the prefect breeze. As the wind ran through his white mane, he caught it under his wings, gliding back down the hill next to Isaac.

“How about Windchaser? You sure do love flying, don’t you? Not even a week out of the tank and you’re already able to glide!”

“W-wwind... chaszer... Windchaser!” The foal began cheering, shouting his new name at the top of his lungs as he ran up the hill, ready to catch the next gust of wind.

I haven’t lost everything. I have him now. I have my son.


~ Several years later ~

“Come on, dad! Tell meee!” Windchaser moaned.

“Nope, not until we get outside. You gotta be patient, little guy.” Isaac lugged out a blanket with him, opening the sliding glass door to the field. The two of them had been living here for eight years now, each year beginning to blend together. Isaac had spent plenty of time with his son, but also spent time before his computer, collecting data from active networks across the world. He wasn’t able to access many, but the ones he were able to get had quite the collection of movies.

Isaac and Windchaser would lounge every few nights and watch a new movie together, more often than not Windchaser falling asleep halfway through. On the days that Isaac was working on his computer, Windchaser would be working on teaching himself flying in the field behind the house. Among the movies SyRE downloaded were collections of air shows by both pegasus and airplanes. The ones Windchaser watched the most was exhibitions by the Equestrian Wonderbolts, the aerial acrobatics and stunt team. He was fascinated; he watched the shows without blinking, hypnotized by their flight trails and maneuvers.

Windchaser would often try these stunts himself, and more often than not crashing in a bad way. He broke his leg once trying a particularly dangerous dive-bomb corkscrew. Isaac gave his son a stern talking-to, explaining that the Wonderbolts had years and years of professional training. Windchaser shouldn’t be attempting their tricks just yet.

“Daaaaad, come oooon! What are you gonna show me?” Windchaser said. He was dragging his hooves along the ground, following his father into the darkness. Isaac said nothing, but kept walking. He dropped the blanket on the grass on the side of a hill and sat down. He motioned for his son to do the same. He fell on his back and stared at the sky.

“So what is it? What ar- ooooohhh!” Windchaser finally saw it. A bright white spot glowing in the sky, soaring among the countless points of light behind it.

“it’s called a ‘comet’. It’s basically a giant snowball flying through space.” Isaac stared up at the comet, looking at it in wonder. “Back when I was younger, we couldn’t see the night sky like this. There was always so much gunk up in the sky. We could only see the moon and a few stars. That was it.”

“Woooow... How fast is that comet going?”

“About a million miles an hour. It’s pretty fast.”

“Then you know what?”

“What’s that, Windchaser?”

“I’m gonna learn how to fly faster than a comet!!” Windchaser leaped into the air, soaring around the clearing. He began flapping his wings faster and faster, pushing himself as hard as he could.

From the ground, Isaac watched as the dark silhouette in the sky began to glow under the dim moonlight. Windchaser began to take on a light glow, a faint trail of white light following in his wake. But before it could become anything more than a dim glow, it fell from the sky. Windchaser landed next to Isaac in a fit of coughs and wheezing.

“Take it easy, little guy. You still got a few years to go before you can go that fast. Let’s head back inside. It’s getting chilly, don’t you think?”

“Y-yeah... *cough*”

Isaac folded the blanket up again, holding it under his arm as he and his son began walking back to the dimly lit house. Isaac held the door open for Windchaser before entering himself. Windchaser staggered over to the sofa and collapsed on it, about to fall asleep from the exhaustion. Isaac noticed something, however.

“Hey, Windchaser? You feel okay?”

“I... feel... so tired...”

“Hmm, because I noticed something a little different about you. Are you sure you don’t feel anything new?”

“What are you... talking about dad?”

Isaac smiled. “Take a look yourself.” Isaac pointed at Windchaser’s flank, before disappearing into the kitchen.

Isaac filled a glass with water, but almost dropped it from the shouting. “I GOT MY CUTIE MARK! DAD DAD DAD! LOOK!”

Windchaser bounced into the kitchen, standing sideways to Isaac. On his flank, there was the image of a white comet, a brilliant tail of white light trailing behind it. Windchaser was positively ecstatic.

“So you know what that means, right?” Isaac said, giving the glass of water to his son. He took it with his mouth, downing the drink in one gulp.


“That means you gotta keep that goal. Learn to fly faster than a comet!”

“Yea-” Windchaser’s cheer was interrupted by a great big yawn.

“But we’ll do that tomorrow. Come on, time for bed.”

Isaac led his son up the stairs and into their bedroom. Isaac pulled back the sheets for the pegasus as he crawled into the bed. Isaac tucked him in, brushed his mane to the side and gave him a kiss on his forehead.

“Goodnight, my great big stallion.”

Isaac turned the light off as he walked back downstairs. He settled into his desk chair, staring at the computer screen.

“Is everything okay, sir?”

“Yeah, yeah. Windchaser just got his cutie mark. Tired him out big time.”

“Wonderful news, sir.”

Isaac looked at the clock on his screen. Tomorrow was going to be the eight year anniversary of his flight from the IHSA. Eight full years of living in the house Edgar Holbright left for him. Eight wonderful years living with his son, Windchaser. Eight years of hiding from society. The pony society that had overtaken the entirety of his world. Eight years since he called his sister. Isaac was tired of hiding.

“Hey SyRE. Call up Sunny Days, please.”

“Of course, sir.”




“Isaac? Isaac is that you?”


The truck rumbled down the road, whirling around the twists and turns as they descended the mountain roads. The young pegasus in the passenger’s seat was trying his best to keep a grip on something to keep him from bouncing around so much.

“Daddy, why does it have to be so bumpy?” he pleaded.

“Well, the roads have been cracking and breaking from years of nobody taking care of them,” Isaac said to the young pony. The sun shined down into the cab, reflecting off the young pegasus’s brilliant white mane.

As the truck rounded the last hill, Isaac and Windchaser finally got a good look at the town SyRE had given them directions to. It was the closest one for miles that would be the most likely candidate for ‘recolonization’ by the ponified humans. They rolled down the hill, but Isaac took a dirt road off to the right before he got near the town. As the truck barreled through the woods, Isaac began to slow down, easing the truck to a stop.

Isaac stepped out from the truck, and walked around to the passenger’s side. He opened the door, and helped the pegasus currently struggling with the seat belt. He clicked it open, causing it to recede back into the frame of the truck. Windchaser hopped out, and the pair walked further into the woods.

They happened upon a clearing, filled with tall stems of grass. Windchaser gave out a loud cheer and bounded into the small field, jumping in and out of the grass. Isaac scanned the treeline, looking for something.

“Fancy meeting you here, stranger.”

Isaac whirled around to see a golden yellow pegasus standing before him.

“Sunny!” Isaac kneeled down and wrapped his arms around his sister in a loving embrace. “Windchaser! Come on over and say hi to your aunt!” Isaac yelled back into the field. Sunny looked perplexed, but became even more so when the laughing pegasus popped out from the grass.

“You must be my Auntie Sunny!” the colt said, walking over to Sunny’s leg.

“Why isn’t he the cutest little colt I’ve laid my eyes on! Well, next to Bracket. Did you adopt him?” Sunny asked cheerfully.

“Y-yeah, I’ll tell you the whole story someday. Could you just look after him for the afternoon? I have some business to attend to in town.”

“Sure thing, Isaac! I never thought about it before, but being a parent is pretty fulfilling, isn’t it?”

“You sure got that right. This little guy has made my life bearable these last few years.” Isaac stood up and walked over to the blue pegasus. “Listen, little guy. I gotta go out and take care of some grown-up stuff. You’re gonna be going with your Auntie Sunny for the afternoon, alright? I promise to come and get you as soon as I can!”

“Sure thing papa! I can’t wait to finally meet them!” The colt was bouncing in the air, laughing all the while. Sunny couldn’t help but laugh along with him.

“Come along now, Windchaser! You’re still a little colt, so you’re gonna have to ride on my back to the house.” Sunny knelt down to the ground, letting the colt climb onto her back. “Hold on tight!” She yelled, before starting into a great gallop, leaping into the air and catching the wind under her wings. The two faded beyond the treeline.

Isaac watched them as they faded from his view and walked back into the truck. He started the engine, and continued on towards the town.


As the truck crawled through the streets, very few ponies came out from their houses upon seeing it. Many of them scampered into the various alleyways and side-streets, eager to avoid contact. Isaac wanted to get to the center of the town, it would make getting noticed much easier.

The town, now repopulated by the ponies, had undergone a radical transformation in the last several years. Many of the houses had been rebuilt and repainted with bright colors, bringing life back to the old skeleton of a town it used to be.

As Isaac neared the center of town, fewer ponies tried to scurry away, but instead they simply stopped in their tracks and stared. To them, the sight of a human was extremely unusual. Most had not seen a human in a dozen years.

He put the truck into park, and turned the key to kill the engine. He opened the door and stepped out into the blazing sunlight, ponies gasping and some even screaming at the sight of him. Am I really that scary? Isaac thought to himself.

“Who’s in charge around here?” Isaac yelled out to the crowd. “I want to talk to your mayor or police chief!” He wasn’t sure if their culture had either; he never really looked into it.

A timid looking unicorn tiptoed out from the crowd before him. She was clearly nervous, and possibly terrified. “I-I’m the mayor’s assistant... I c-can take you to her i-if you’d like...” she stammered.

Isaac knelt down to her eye level. “I would greatly appreciate that. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt anyone,” he said reassuringly. Isaac could almost see the tension fade away from the unicorn as she let out a sigh.

“Follow me, if you’d please.” Isaac did so, watching all of the ponies heads following him as he walked along the street.


“You WHAT?” the elderly grey mare screamed.

“Like I said, I want an audience with your Princesses. What were their names again?” Isaac asked, raking his mind for something that supposedly should be an important fact for him to know. “Ah! Celestia and Luna. I’d like for them to answer to a few things. Sooner rather than later.”

The mayor paced around behind her desk, visibly sweating. “You don’t understand, do you Mr. Hamilton? The princesses don’t just grant audiences on a whim! The typical amount of time before you’d usually be able to see them in three months! And that’s after all of the exhausting paperwork! Even for a... human.” She spat the last word out as if it left a bitter taste in her mouth.

“Just be sure to tell them I was a survivor of the Fort Stillwater raid.”

The mayor’s eyes widened for a moment before she buried her face in her hoof. “Alright, fine. But don’t expect any miracles, okay? Lily, can you take a letter? Tell Princess Celestia that an ‘Isaac Hamilton’ seeks an audience with her and her sister. And that he was at this ‘Fort Stillwater’ raid, or whatever it was.” She sat back at her desk, watching the unicorn jot down the message onto a levitating scroll with her quill. it quickly rolled itself up, and vanished with a small pop.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hamilton, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave my office. I have very important duties that I ne-”


With two brilliant flashes of light, two figures materialized into existence behind Isaac. He stood up, hands in his pockets, and turned around. Two majestic winged pegasi, Alicorns, stood before him. One was as brilliant and white as the blazing sun, her mane a colorful, billowing aurora. The other was as dark and graceful as the most pleasant night, her mane a lighter shade of blue than her coat. They both stared at Isaac for a moment before anyone spoke.

“I... guess I’ll leave you all alone, then... come along now, Lily. Lets give the princesses their privacy...” The mayor shuffled out the door, pushing the unicorn out with her. The large wooden doors closed with a dull thud.

“Princesses. Pleasure to meet you at last,” Isaac said, nodding his head.

“We apologize for the spectacle, but when we received the message about you, we had to be here as soon as we could. Especially since you had to witness that atrocity,” the white alicorn said with disdain.

“Celly, are you sure we should tell him...?” The darker one asked, apprehensively.

“Luna, of all ponies or people, he is the most deserving of knowing the truth,” Celestia said to her sister. “Mr. Hamilton. I’m sure you are aware of what happened at Fort Stillwater eight years ago, correct?”

Isaac looked back down at the floor. “How could I forget? I saw several pegasus ponies dropping those gas bombs on the last vestiges of mankind, forcing ponification on them. They weren’t given any choice in the matter.” Isaac tightened his fists in anger. He felt the blood beginning to boil within him as soon as he was reminded about it.

“Yes, well. These actions against your people were not under our jurisdiction. We always sought to achieve peace between your organization, for humans and ponies to coexist together. Unfortunately, your leaders always declined any offers we made, and constantly carried out heinous crimes against our people. In fact, after the attack on Fort Stillwater, we rescued hundreds, HUNDREDS, of ponies being held captive that were being used as test subjects. What do you have to say about that?” Celestia growled, stomping her hoof down into the wooden floor.

“Nothing. I don’t have any excuse for what my people did to yours, just like how you claim to not have an excuse for those who attacked MY people. I’m... just glad that they were rescued.” Celestia’s stern visage softened into a small smile.

“I’m just glad you aren’t as malevolent as some of your brothers and sisters were.”

“You said that the bombing wasn’t ordered by either of you. What happened? Why did it happen? Who ordered it?”

The blue alicorn, Princess Luna, spoke. “When a human goes through ponification, many of their human traits are kept, while others are... reappropriated. Usually this translates as people becoming less aggressive, manipulative, greedy, et cetera. They become friendlier and happier. But some humans kept some of those negative aspects. Most of these humans had held positions in your militaries and governments. They formed an association dedicated to bringing all humans over to our civilization. They called themselves the PER, or Ponification for Earth’s Rebirth.

“They worked in secret, recruiting other ponies to aid in their work, developing and weaponizing our ponification serum. They used it on all of the other bases your people were staying in. We’re just glad you made it out alright.”

“When we were informed of these actions, we took swift and decisive action. We arrested each and every member of their group and imprisoned them all. They were given opportunities to repent for their crimes, but they stood by their choices,” Celestia said with a harsh and serious tone.

“Forced ponification can be... jarring... to the human psyche. Most humans who underwent this process weren’t prepared for it and went mad, losing their sanity as a result. Many of them had to be admitted to mental institutions to aid in their recovery and reintegration into society. But the damage had been done. Most took their own lives in the minutes following their ponification,” Luna said woefully.

Isaac fell to his knees. This was too much for him. The last hope for mankind had been wiped out all because of someone’s self-righteous quest for teaching unwilling people their corrupted ideals of happiness? Isaac felt his head spin. All of the events at the IHSA... all of their work... had been for nothing. There was absolutely no way the human race could survive from such a blow to their already unstable population. There were... what? How many people still lived on the Earth?

Celestia bent down onto her knees, meeting Isaac’s eyes. “We are truly, deeply sorry for your loss. We never wanted this to happen.”

A soft click came from the door to the office. A faint hissing sound began to come from the vents to the room, a faint purple cloud oozing out from them.

“Isaac, get on the ground. Keep your eyes closed, and hold your breath. It seems what’s left of the PER found out about you being here.” Isaac dropped to the floor without any question, his eyes squeezed shut. He took a great breath of air and held it, the hissing continuing in the background.

“Luna, blast the door open. We have to get Isaac out of here NOW,” Celestia growled.

“Of course, sister.” Isaac heard a small ringing in his ears, before a loud explosion of splinters and metal rang through the office. As the ringing faded from his ears, Isaac made something out from the various sounds meeting his ears.

“Isaac! Follow my voice! We need to get you out of here! The ponification gas is too thick in there! Keep your eyes shut and keep holding your breath!”

Isaac started to feel his chest burn, his mind slowing, and his nerves flaring. He began to think of Windchaser, and what he would think if he came back to him as a...

Wait. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. Isaac originally was going to get ponified, but he got swept up in that god-forsaken riot. His parents calling him a terrorist and a racist only reaffirmed his false stance against ponification. Thinking back to his son, Isaac only wanted what was best for the young colt. Surely being raised by a human wouldn’t be the ideal childhood, but if he became a pony, he could do his best to pave a path for his son.

I’m going to do it. For him. One... Two... Three...

Isaac let out the air in his lungs with a giant wheeze. Luna and Celestia froze upon hearing the noise, looking back at the figure slumped on the floor.

It’s now or never!

Isaac braced himself for what he could only imagine as the worst pain he could imagine subjecting his body to, and took a deep breath from the purple cloud surrounding him. The smell reminded him of the foul smelling odors of cough medicine he had to take as a child, a very overpowering grape flavor. He took another breath. More of the overly fruity odor. He didn’t feel his body changing.

He opened his eyes, and looked down at his hands. He still had fingers, that was for sure. He felt his face, still flat. He could still wiggle his toes, and his skin, while tinted a faint purple from the mist, still had the pasty caucasian hue he had always lived with.

“What... happened? Why... didn’t I change?” Isaac stammered. He slowly rose to his feet, his legs trembling form the ordeal.

Celestia looked over to her sister, and lowered her head. “Isaac, did you work with the ponification serum during your time at the IHSA?” The pair walked back into the office, still cloudy from the gas.

“Y-yeah, why?”

“Did you touch it at all?”

“Uh, yeah. A dilute sample splashed onto my hand once. I washed it off right away though.”

“Oh dear. Isaac, the serum did have an effect on you then. While the concentration wasn’t high enough to facilitate ponification, your body... it fought off the changes the serum was trying to make. Your body built up more defenses against it in the time since then. I suppose you could think of it as a vaccine. Unfortunately...” Celestia readied her next words. “You’re immune to ponification now.”

Isaac was trying desperately to understand what she was saying. “Are you telling me... that I can’t get ponified? But most of my friends at the IHSA were exposed to even more of the serum than I was! Why did they change and not me, here?”

“Your body had more time to build up the immunity than anyone else did. Your body had eight whole years to prepare.”

Isaac sank to his knees in the purple mist. He was finally given the opportunity to join the rest of his kind, in this new world. Because he suspected everyone of hating him and secluding himself in the woods with his son, he sealed his own fate.

“But... you could use your magic! You could use your magic to turn me into a pony, right?” Isaac lit up with excitement.

“Isaac... our magic would kill you. I can’t knowingly endanger the life of any man or pony,” Celestia solemnly replied.

“I don’t care. I want you to do it. Even if it brings me to within an inch of my life! Just do it!” Isaac was beginning to get angry, his voice rising in volume.

“No. I will not.” Celestia stomped a hoof down onto the wooden floor with finality.

“DO IT!” Isaac screamed at the princesses. “JUST FUCKING DO IT! I DON’T CARE IF I DIE! I... I...” His eyes began to fill with tears of defeat as his voice began to go hoarse. Isaac slumped forward, his head pressed against the floorboards.

“All I ever wanted...” Isaac began. “Was a normal life... but every time I tried to find one, something was always in the way! It’s just not fair!” Isaac cried, slamming his fist into the ground.

Celestia knelt down to Isaac. “We’re deeply sorry about this... We both wish there was something we could do to help you join us, but even our abilities have limits. Anything we would try would simply kill you from the magical energies. What we CAN do, is give you everything you could ever need to live a peaceful, happy life in this town, or wherever you desire. It’s the least we could do for you.”

Isaac wiped the faint tears forming at the edges of his eyes. “I’d like that. I’d like that a lot. Thank you, your highnesses.”

Celestia nodded. “We will make the arrangements as soon as possible. If you need anything from us, please don’t hesitate to ask. But for now, we must address this issue of PER members working in this building. We’ll be in touch.”

With another bright flash, the two alicorns vanished from the room, leaving Isaac behind. He rose to his feet, and walked through the mist, swirls of purple in his wake. He walked out through the splintered doorway, dozens of pairs of eyes settling on him. Some of them were in surprise, others in fear, and others in anger.

Isaac waved to them, putting on a weak smile.


Chapter 6

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“And that’s it. I’ve been living here ever since, just me, SyRE, and Windchaser. Occasionally I would venture out of town, leaving the kid with Sunny when I would. Typically it would be for old human technology from old abandoned bases like Stillwater, or even the Pentagon down in DC. But Celestia and Luna have held true to their word. I have lived a perfectly wonderful life up til you showed up.”

Twilight had looked visibly shocked from Isaac’s remark.

“But please, don’t take it the wrong way. I’ve lived far too long for my own liking. I have some things I'd like to take care of before this spell is cast, though.”

“Like what?” Twilight asked.

“Ah, ah, ah. Spoilers,” Isaac teased. “You’ll find out soon enough, Ms. Sparkle. Now that I’ve answered your questions, I’d like to ask you a few of my own, if you don’t mind. Don’t worry, it won’t be anything personal, I promise.”

“I think you deserve to be able to ask something, especially after having to put up with me for so long,” Twilight chuckled.

“Okay. First question. When this ‘purification’ spell is cast, where are all of the ponies living around the world going to tucker down in?”

“We have sent evacuation orders out already to some of the more distant areas of the world, but everypony will have to be relocated into Equestria by the time we cast the spell. They will all be safe in there.”

Isaac folded his hands. “I see. And humans can’t survive in Equestria from the magic, correct?”

Twilight frowned. “Unfortunately, yes.”

“And the entirety of the Earth will have this abundant magic after the spell is done, right?”

“I believe so.”

“But human technology will still be able to function, correct?”

“I... suppose... why?” Twilight asked.

“You’ll see. You are a librarian by trade, correct?”

“Yes... Oh won’t you please tell me what you are planning?”

Isaac laughed. “Good. You’re perfect then. Don’t worry, you’ll appreciate what I have planned for you. Just please take my word for it.”

Twilight slumped back into the chair. “Hmph. Fine.”

“Well, it seems to be getting a bit late. I need to go pick up Windchaser from Sunny’s place. Oh Twilight, do you mind letting me make a quick copy of that recording? For reference.”

“Oh, why of course!” Twilight floated the small recording device over to Isaac. He walked to his office down the hallway, and copied the audio files onto his computer terminal. After a quick moment, he reemerged and handed it back to the unicorn.

“Thank you very much. Please give Luna and Celestia my best when you see them again.” Isaac walked Twilight to the door and held it open for her.

“I will be sure to. It was simply marvelous spending these past few days with you, Isaac. I wished I could have gotten to know you better, though.”

“Such is the tragedy that is life. Don’t worry, there are plenty of more interesting people- er ponies out there. Take care now!” Isaac called as Twilight began to walk down the street into the night. She waved back to him, and watched him return to his house before continuing down the road.


There was a soft knocking at the door.

“Don’t worry, darling, I got it.” The brown stallion walked over to the door and tugged it open.

“Isaac! So good to see you again! The kids are all asleep. They had a blast with Windchaser here,” Bullseye said in a hushed voice.

“Glad to hear it. Can you get Sunny for me? I gotta talk to the two of you.”

The stallion walked into the living room. There were some hushed whispers exchanged, and the two pegasi joined Isaac back in the foyer.

“Thank you for looking after Windchaser for me again, sis.”

“Ah, it’s no problem. Bracket and Pearl love it whenever he comes over.”

Isaac walked over and sat in one of the chairs, with Bullseye and Sunny sitting on the couch opposite from him. “I... gotta tell you two some things. I don’t have much time left.”

Bullseye and Sunny looked at each other, their faces growing into frowns out of concern. “What do you mean, Isaac? Are you ill?”

“No, it’s nothing like that. I just won’t be around much longer is all, and I wanted to clear a few things up with you two before you have to leave for Equestria when the evacuation order comes around.”

“What evacuation order?” the two asked in unison.

“Right... they hadn’t given the order for this town yet. Well, in a few days, all of the ponies worldwide are going to have to move into Equestria in preparation for the Purification Spell when it’s cast. Nothing outside of Equestria will be safe.”

Sunny quickly mulled over what she had just heard. “Wait! What’s going to happen to you? Surely you... no... NO! You can’t! I won’t lose you!” she cried. She buried her face into Bullseye’s chest, muffling her sobs.

“What’s going on Isaac?” Bullseye asked.

“I’m not going to survive past the week. I can’t survive for any amount of time in Equestria, so when the spell is cast, I’ll be swept away along with the rest of the world.”

“What is this Purification Spell? We’ve never heard of it.”

“It’s supposed to fix the earth. That’s all I understand.” Isaac leaned back in the soft cushions as silence fell between the group.

“You could become a pony! I’m sure the princesses could figure something out to-”

Isaac simply put his hand up to stop his sister mid-sentence.

“No. I already told both Celestia and Luna that I don’t have it in me to throw away my humanity just to save my old worthless hide,” Isaac joked. “But in all seriousness... I tried. Turns out I can’t after my work at the IHSA.” Bullseye and Sunny both looked blankly at Isaac.

“I love you Isaac! You can’t just leave, I can’t stand to lose you a second time!” Sunny cried out.

“But you won’t be losing me. Well, not entirely. That leads me to the second thing I wanted to tell you two about. I’m leaving Windchaser with you two, if you’ll accept.”

They both nodded in unison.

“The I think it’s time I told you the truth about him. He’s not an orphan. I didn’t adopt him. He’s... he’s my clone. He was originally my project back at the IHSA. I took him with me when I made my escape.”

Sunny wiped the tears from her eyes and gave a small chuckle. “Heh, he always did remind me a bit of you when you were his age.”

“Yeah. Just promise you won’t tell him a thing about it? I want to wait until he’s at least a little bit older before he finds everything out.”

“You can count on us, Isaac,” Bullseye promised.

“Alright, I’m going to go get him. I’ll be leaving him with you when the call for evacuation is announced. I want you to take a few things along with you, if that’s alright. Nothing too big.”

Isaac walked out from the room and into the living room where the three young ponies were sound asleep. Bracket, a young grey pegasus, and Pearl, a light pink pegasus, were curled up around Windchaser. Isaac picked up the small colt, and wrapped his forehooves around his neck, so he would be hanging on Isaac’s back.

Isaac walked back into the foyer, waved to Sunny and Bullseye, who were still embraced, and walked out the front door into the night. They waved, Sunny’s eyes still damp from her tears, as Isaac closed the door behind him.


“Hello? Is anyone here?” a song-like voice called from the other side of the wooden door. Isaac walked up to the door, opening it to see two unicorns standing before him.

“Oh, hello. How can I help you?” Isaac asked. He didn’t usually get too many visitors, but after Twilight’s visits, he welcomed conversation.

“Hello! Me and my sister just moved in down the street, and we wanted to get to know more ponies around. When we heard that a human still lived nearby, we simply had to come over and introduce ourselves!”

“Well why don’t you come inside? I’ll boil some water for some tea, if you’d have some.”

Isaac held the door open for the two unicorns. The one who had just been talking had a bright white coat with a icy-blue mane. She wore a bright smile as she stepped inside. The other unicorn, slightly smaller than the white mare, was a dark maroon with an orange mane. She seemed slightly more shy.

They both sat on the sofa in the living room. “So, what may I get for you, Princess Celestia?” Isaac gave the white mare a smirk.

She smiled gently in return. “You are simply too perceptive, Isaac Hamilton.” There were two bright flashes of light in the other room. Replacing the two unicorns, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna now both sat on his sofa. They both filled the room with a sense of peace and majesty.

“Well, I do apologize, but I would have known if there was someone moving in down the street. Would you two like some sugar with your tea?” Isaac asked, pulling the boiling kettle off the stove. He poured the steaming water into three cups, tea bags in each one.

“Yes, please,” the sisters replied. Isaac poured a small spoonful of sugar into each cup, mixing the grains into the drink until they vanished. Isaac brought out two cups for the alicorns, setting them on the coffee table. Celestia picked the cup up with her magic, and took a slow sip. Luna mirrored her sister. Warm smiles lit their faces.

“This is delicious, Isaac. Thank you for your hospitality. I do apologize for Luna and I having been in disguise, getting out from the castle in Canterlot would have been somewhat difficult, what with... you know... so close.” Celestia’s smile began to fade, a faint frown replacing it.

“We listened to Twilight’s reports,” the midnight blue alicorn said. “About you and the IHSA. We... we are so sorry you had to go through such tragedies.” Luna’s mane draped over part of her face as her gaze fell to the floor.

“Indeed. No pony or human should have gone through anything like what you suffered. But... from what Twilight had told me, you gained something, did you not? May I meet him?” Celestia’s smile began to appear again, eventually reaching Isaac as well. He nodded, walking through the hallway to his son’s room.

*knockknock* “Hey, Windchaser? I have two very special guests I’d like for you to meet.” The blue colt bounced out of his room, following his father back down the hallway to the living room.

Windchaser’s eyes grew wide as soon as he saw the two alicorns smiling at him from the couch. His head began to feel light. Windchaser looked to his dad, unsure of what to think. “Yes, Windchaser, they are the Royal Alicorn Sisters. They are the ones who raised the sun and moon in Equestria. Say hello.”

Windchaser finally managed to close his gaping mouth and blink the wonder from his eyes. “H-Hello, my name is Windchaser, and it’s an honor to meet you two!”

“Hello, young Windchaser. I have heard many wonderful things about you from my student, Twilight Sparkle. I am Princess Celestia. It is an honor to meet you.” Celestia bowed her head to the young pegasus, who bowed in return, his wide eyed gaze not leaving the Princess.

“Oh, my! He’s so cute!” Luna whispered to her sister. “Hello, Windchaser. I am Princess Luna. I echo my sister’s sentiments. It is a pleasure to meet you!” Luna gave a bright smile, much to the contrast of her coat and mane.

“Windchaser, from what I have heard, you love flying. Is that correct?” Celestia asked the young pegasus. He nodded quickly with a bright smile. “Luna, would you be so kind as to show young Windchaser here a few tips for flying outside?” Celestia gave a firm gaze to her sister, who lit up with a soft smile.

“Of course, sister.” Her form shimmered for a moment, before settling on a smattering of blues, yellows, and whites with a windswept mane erupting from the back of the suit. Luna looked exactly like a Wonderbolt in full costume, much to Windchaser’s joy. “Come on, Windchaser! I’m gonna teach you how to really fly!” Luna cheered, opening the front door and walking outside, the blue colt in tow. They both leaped into the air amidst a chorus of shouts and cheers.

Celestia took another sip of her tea and placed it on the table. “I know how much he means to you, Isaac.” Celestia let out a soft sigh. “I wanted to apologize.”

“About what, your highness?”

“You know what. The Purification.”

Isaac took a sip of his tea and walked over to his chair, falling backwards into the soft cushions. “I’m so sorry. But for the effects to be what we desire, it needs to be cast by the end of the week. I’ve been putting it off for as long as I can... But the deadline is here.”

“So is that all you’ve come here to say?”

“I didn’t want the time to come without showing you how truly sorry I am that it had to some to this point. I was truly hoping for the pollution of the world to have reversed itself by now, but that is regrettably... not the case. Even after all of the efforts we have put into trying to stop it. Radiation tainting the landscape, poisons in the water and ground, and diseases still present in the wilderness... The Purification is the only thing able to take care of it all for good.

“The Purification isn’t a new idea. My advisers and scholars had come up with it several years ago, and suggested that the immediate casting of it was in the population’s best interest. But it wasn’t in mine. I oppose any needless loss of life, human or pony. I knew that humans couldn’t live in Equestria, so I had the survey Twilight told you about ordered in an effort to locate all remaining humans. Each one was approached and told of what was going to happen. I refused to have ponification forced on them. I did not want to fall to the level of the PER, especially after what happened at the IHSA and the event when you met with my sister and myself before. I offered them the choice, and let them decide.

“I came to you last, since my sister and I knew there was only one outcome. I know we promised to give you as best of a life as possible... It seems like we won’t be able to keep that promise.”

Isaac looked down at his tea. It had reached a cooler temperature, steam no longer rising from it. He took a sip and set the cup down on the table. “Princess, I’m sorry. I only wish I could have known what you had to go through these past years with the thought of the Purification on your mind. I’ve lived a fairly long life. Not as long as a human is able to live, but I’ve seen more heartbreak than any human should be forced to see or feel. But... I’ve also felt so much more joy and happiness... Between being able to see my sister and her husband, my niece and nephew, and my son, you have delivered on your promise. These past years have been the best of my life. I could never thank you enough for the memories I’ve been able to have.”

A single tear fell from Celestia’s eye. “I’m glad that I was able to do something right for you and your son, Isaac. What will become of Windchaser after you’re gone? If you do not wish to think of such things-”

“No, it’s alright. I’m going to send him to Equestria with my sister and her family. He’ll grow up with them, and I’m positive my sister will do a magnificent job of it.”

Celestia smiled. “I will do everything in my power to aid him and your sister’s family after the Purification. This I truly promise. I will make sure your town here is the last to evacuate to Equestria. That way, you can spent as much time as possible with your son.”

“Thank you so much, Princess. You would have made a truly wonderful human. And I could never think of entrusting the future of this world to anyone but you and your sister.” Isaac and Celestia both rose from their seats, the Princess finishing of the last bit of tea from her cup. She levitated it into the kitchen and into the sink for Isaac. Her form began to shimmer, taking on the body of the ice blue maned unicorn from before. Isaac opened the door for her, letting her trot outside into the beautiful afternoon sunlight. The pair looked up into the sky to see two blurs of blue flashing above their heads.

“Windchaser! Your friend has to go now!” Isaac shouted up at the blurs, causing them to slow down and their features finally visible again. They floated down to the ground, Luna, still in her Wonderbolts disguise, landing next to her sister and Windchaser landing next to his father. Luna’s form shimmered briefly to her maroon coat again.

“Goodbye, Isaac. Goodbye, Windchaser. Have a wonderful evening.” Celestia began walking down the quiet street.

“Goodbye Isaac! And it was fun flying with you, Windchaser! Be sure to keep it up!” Luna called, turning and catching up with her sister. The two disappeared in a bright flash, and with that, they disappeared, leaving Isaac and Windchaser alone in the middle of the street.

“Did you have fun, Windchaser?” Isaac asked as they walked back into the house.

“Oh, yeah! Princess Luna was a great flier! She even said that maybe one day I could maybe join the Wonderbolts!” Windchaser cheered, his wings beating on his back from the excitement.

“How about I take you to the park tomorrow for a picnic? You can fly around as much as you want! Maybe try some of those tricks you saw the Wonderbolts do?” Isaac cheerfully suggested to the already overly-excited pegasus. Upon hearing about the picnic, he almost exploded.

“That would be so awesome! Thankyouthankyouthankyou! You’re the best dad ever!” Windchaser leaped up and latched onto Isaac’s chest, holding him in a big hug. Isaac was almost knocked over by the force of it, but managed to keep his balance. He wrapped his arms around his son, feeling the pounding of his heart in his chest.

“You’re the best son I could have ever asked for, Windchaser.”


Isaac walked along the smooth sidewalk, a streak of blue and white speeding around above him. It wasn’t too often Windchaser got out of the house to fly, but when he did, he made it count. He was doing various different loops, dives, and corkscrews above Isaac, even before they made it to the park.

“Hey, ‘Chaser! Careful up there! It’ll be better when you crash into the grass than the pavement!” Isaac shouted above, the streak of white and blue slowing down. The pegasus dropped in height to right next to his father, his small wings flapping in the cool air.

“Awww, but dad...”

“Ah, ah. No buts! We’re almost there. Be a little bit more patient.” Isaac fixed his grip on the small basket. Inside were small lunches for the two of them, as well as a few snacks to recharge Windchaser’s flight batteries when he would get tired.

“It’s so cool the Princesses stopped by yesterday! I never really imagined that Princess Luna would be such a great flier! It’s awesome how you and Princess Celestia are friends too, daddy!”

Isaac chuckled. “Well, she helped the two of us out when we needed it. I’ll tell you the whole story some day.” A sudden weight hit Isaac in the gut with the realization of what he just said.

And as fast as it came, he shoo’ed it away. Today was meant to be a happy day between a father and his son. He didn’t want to think about anything else.

As the pair approached the park, the late morning sun shone down on countless families playing around and walking within it. Pegasi were soaring overhead, some lounging on clouds above, others chasing each other. Windchaser eyed all of the ponies around, a look of excitement growing before shrinking away.

“Hey, dad?”


“How come nopony else has a dad like you? Like... not a pony?”

Isaac sighed. “Let’s go and find a seat and I’ll explain it to you, okay?” Isaac asked. He was nervous for when this talk would come up. Windchaser never really got out too much to see the rest of society in any meaningful sense aside from the frequent trips he went on with Sunny and Bullseye. But he has never seen another human, aside from Isaac. He’s only ever seen other ponies.

After finding a particularly shady tree to sit under, Isaac set down the basket and gestured for WIndchaser to sit next to him. Isaac sighed, trying to think of what to say. He didn’t want to lie to his son, but he didn’t want to lay the whole truth on him either.

“Well, Windchaser... There used to be tons of people like me around. Humans.” Windchaser watched his father with rapt attention. He had never really asked about the world in detail before the bureaus. “But they all got themselves turned into ponies, like your Aunt Sunny did. They chose to do so.”

“Why didn’t you, daddy?”

“Heh, I kinda can’t. But it doesn’t make me any less of your father, does it?”

“But... who was my mommy? Bracket and Pearl have auntie Sunny for their mommy; who’s mine?”

Shit. Isaac froze. He should have expected this one, but... how could he explain this one off? Windchaser was Isaac’s clone. He didn’t have a mother. Isaac is technically his father, but only because of the genetic similarities. He could lie, and say that his mother died when he was born, but Isaac didn’t feel comfortable with such a blatant lie to the innocent mind, especially when he would find the truth out later on in his life.

“Windchaser... those were... some bad times in my life. Not you, by any means. You were the one who brought me out of it. But... if it’s okay with you, I’d prefer to not talk about it.”

Windchaser shrunk from his father’s change in demeanor. “Oh... sorry, daddy. I won’t ask again.”

“Don’t worry. There’ll be a day when you find out. I promise. Why don’t you go practice some of those tricks Princess Luna taught you yesterday? I’m eager to see what you can do!”

“Just you watch me!”

Windchaser leaped into the sky amidst a soft blur of blue and white, disappearing into the blue expanse. Isaac leaned back against the tree, closing his eyes and listening to the laughs and cheers of the families around him. Everyone out for a beautiful day in the park, enjoying the weather and each other’s company.

“Heh. Can’t imagine anyone doing that thirty years ago,” Isaac murmured to himself.

“What’s that? Going to the park? Tell me about it.” Isaac opened his eyes to see a mahogany brown pegasus stallion with a black mane standing next to him. “This spot taken?”

“Not at all.” The pegasus sat down in the shade, tucking his legs in underneath his body. “Don’t see many people around anymore. You live around here?”

“Yeah. I live on the other side of town with my son. He’s up there, practicing some tricks.” Isaac pointed to the sky, the characteristic white trail of Windchaser zipping around the other pegasi.

“Huh. Who’s the mother? You didn’t...with...”

“Nope. It’s a... a long story, though.”

“Ah. I got a son... somewhere around here. Eh, he’ll show up.”

Isaac smiled. He leaned back again, the tough bark of the tree scratching against his scalp. “I never imagined being a father was so wonderful.”

“I had a few of my hiccups. Got past ‘em though. And yeah. It’s great. You got the time?”

Isaac glanced at the watch on his wrist. “About 11:45.”

“Shit. I gotta bolt. It was fun chatting with you. I’ll be sure to keep my eye out around here in case you come back.” The mahogany stallion flapped up to a small figure chatting with what was likely Windchaser. The other small pegasus waved him goodbye and flew off with his father. Windchaser glided down to the tree with his father.

“Hey, dad! I meet this really cool pegasus! I don’t think I got his name though...”

“Yeah I saw his dad down here. Nice fellow. Say, you hungry? I packed a dandelion sandwich for you, you’re favorite!”

Windchaser squealed with joy and eagerly snatched the sandwich out of Isaac’s hand. He wolfed the meal down without a second thought. Isaac simply pulled out a thermos of tea and took a sip of it.

“Thanks, daddy! I’m gonna try some new tricks!” Windchaser flew back up into the sky, beginning a routine he saw on one of the Wonderbolts movies he watched on SyRE’s memory banks.

SyRE should be done tonight. Isaac took another sip of his tea and closed his eyes.


Isaac tucked Windchaser into his little bed in his room, and gave him a light kiss on the forehead. “Sweet dreams, kiddo.”

Isaac gently closed the door to the colt’s room. He was exhausted from his day at the park and fell asleep the moment his head touched the pillow. Isaac slowly turned the corner into this office, his computer screen glowing a bright blue, white text dotting it along lines across.

SyRE built up a redundancy overload. He essentially is too busy working through meaningless computations that loop into each other, resulting in no more processing output. Isaac closed the blue error window and looked down at his desktop. There were a couple folders littered throughout the space. One was the recordings of the interview he had with Twilight Sparkle. He dragged the audio files and dropped them into a folder labeled “LOCKED”. He didn’t want those files to be viewable until a specific time. He went through various other files from his work at the IHSA, the original gene structures Frank wanted implanted on the clones, the serum designed to activate it, and the various other research notes.

He completely forgot. Windchaser was a weapon. A living weapon that he designed to presumably assassinate Princess Celestia and Princess Luna with. Frank Dunland’s twisted legacy in a way. And the only thing needed to activate the proper genes for the mutation was this simple little serum.

“Some things are meant to be forgotten,” Isaac muttered to himself, as he dragged them to the trash bin on his desktop. While he wanted to preserve all of human knowledge, some of it was better to be left in the annals of history, lost for the rest of time.

Isaac opened the folder SyRE prepared for him a few days ago. He clicked to open the AI salvage files, and began reading.


“Hello? Anyone in there?” Isaac called at the screen.

A faint buzzing came from the speakers, followed by a hollow mechanically synthesized voice. “Starting up... Designation: Synthetic Recognition Emulator. SyRE. Software Designer: Thomas Marcus. Salvage Technician: Isaac Hamilton. Beginning recovery of banked processes... done. Scanning domicile... done. Scanning imminent area... done. Thank you for recovering me, sir. I greatly appreciate it. And it seems you managed to perfect your compression ratios for the holographic drives. Well done, sir.”

“Heh, how else am I going to fit everything on these two terminals?”

“Two?” the speaker buzzed.

“Oh, yeah. Well, three to be exact. But one doesn’t really count. He’s just an archival AI. ‘Ask and ye shall receive’ and all that jazz. It’s for the formal history terminal. I made a full copy of you and have you both linked up in real time on another portable terminal that I’m giving to Windchaser when he leaves with my sister to Equestria. He’ll have all of the history files as well as you.”

“I see.”

“What? It’s not like you can’t survive in Equestria. Why should I keep you from... um... ‘living’ on?”

“I understand.”

“I left you some instructions concerning a particular folder in your archives. Do NOT let him know about it until he’s ready. I’ll leave when that is up to your discretion.”

The speakers did not respond immediately.

“I understand.”

Isaac stood up from his desk chair and stretched his arms. “I think I’m going to go grab a bite to eat, then get some sleep. Working eighteen hours straight to save your cybernetic ass really took it out of me, SyRE.”

“I believe you deserve it, sir.”

“Everything else seems to be in order,” Isaac said, looking around his office at the various pieces of equipment strewn about. “Can you start importing the archives into two solar panel fitted laptops? There should be two somewhere around here.”

“Yes, they are right over in the closet. Can you please set them on your desk, sir? It will make the process work faster.”

Isaac looked through his cluttered closet, pulling the two computers out from the pile of loose equipment. He placed both on the desk just like SyRE asked and opened each one. Their screens winked to life, a progress bar appearing on both. After uploading the new compression ratio for the holographic drives, SyRE began uploading copies of the archives onto each one. With a smile, Isaac walked out from his office and stepped into his room. He fell onto his bed and closed his eyes. Before he fell asleep, a single thought wiggled its way through his head.

2 more days.


There was a quick knocking at the library door. Twilight Sparkle kept her nose buried in her book. “Midnight! Go get the door!”

The black unicorn sighed, closing his book. “Fine,” he sighed. He walked down the stairs of the Ponyville library to the front door, his prismatic mane and tail following in his wake. With a simple flash of his horn, the door gently opened.

“Delivery for a ‘Twilight Sparkle’,” the mailpony announced. He looked up from his clipboard, noting Midnight. “Uh...”

“Don’t worry, she’s here. I’ll sign for her.” Midnight gripped the pen in the air, gently signing the form and accepting the small package. The mailpony bid Midnight Shadow goodbye, flying back into the sky. “TWILIGHT! MAIL!”

“DON’T SHOUT! I’M COMING!” Twilight clopped down the staircase into the main room of the library, her eyes settling on the package Midnight held in the air. “Honestly, Midnight. You’re a worse assistant than Spike was.”

“Hey! I’m not your assistant! I’m Princess Luna’s prized student, as much as you are Princess Celestia’s. So...” Midnight looked at the package and set it on the table. “Any idea what this is? I didn’t know that the mail service was still running this close to the Purification.”

“I think I just might...” Twilight carefully opened the package, levitating handfuls of the soft packing insulation onto the table in a small heap.

Twilight recognized it, almost barely. The top of it had been covered in glossy black sheets. But the rest of it looked like a computer humans used back on Earth. She cracked the lid open, and with a flash of light, the screen inside came to life. The screen faded to black, but a familiar face to Twilight popped up.

Hello Twilight. I hope this makes it to you in good condition, not busted or broken, or anything like that. Well, here you go. What I promised you. Now it may not look like much, this computer. But I assure you, it will be well worth your trouble to keep it close to you and working for as long as you live.



Inside this computer is everything. All human knowledge. Every written document, every discovery, every historical moment, every movie, musical, television show, everything. This is my gift to you and your people: the legacy of the human race. Please don’t let any of it fade away, only to be forgotten.

The computer itself is solar powered, so as long as it gets enough sunlight, the battery should never fail. I’ve also loaded it with a simple artificial intelligence, able to pull up any document or file you ask of it.

Well, that’s about it. I wish the best for you and your peop- ponies. I hope the Purification works to perfection, and you heal the Earth.

This is Isaac Hamilton, signing off.

I always wanted to say that...

The video of Isaac winked out. Twilight didn’t know what to think at the moment. Before her sat the gathered wealth of knowledge of an entire species who had technologically advanced leaps and bounds before her own. But more importantly, the last of that species had entrusted her with it. She didn’t know whether to be happy, cry, or anything.

“That’s the guy you were chatting with back in America? And did he really mean it when he said he put everything on here?!” Midnight started at the small computer, his mouth agape.

“So that’s what he meant...” Twilight closed the computer and placed it gently back into the box. “Come on, Midnight. We have to finish up here and be in Canterlot tonight. We have to be ready for tomorrow.”


“Isaac? Isaac? Are you there?” a muffled voice called into the house. It was very early in the morning, yet the town was alive with commotion.

“Yeah, yeah, one sec.” Isaac wiped the sleep from his eyes and stumbled over to the door. He had been trying to get some sort of rest before the sun rose, but even that eluded him with all of the noise from outside. Swinging open the door, Isaac saw Bullseye, Sunny Days, and their twins standing outside, their saddlebags filled with what possessions they could gather.

“Is he ready?” the brown stallion asked, his eyes betraying his will to hide his sorrow.

“Yeah, I’ll go get him.” Isaac regained his composure, his mind jolted back to action.

He walked slowly through the living room, the same room he played with his son for countless hours on end. He would lay on his back, gently tossing the young colt into the air, the two of them giggling madly the whole time. They would sit, curled up with each other, watching some of the most amazing pieces of human cinema and television during the late nights that he was working and his son couldn’t sleep. SyRE would turn the television off once he detected the two had finally fallen asleep, the blue colt sleeping soundly on Isaac’s chest.

Isaac stared longingly at the living room, and turned his gaze to the kitchen, where he and Windchaser had held some of their own experiment sessions in how to cook for the two of them, but most of the time it would just devolve into one starting a food fight with the other. Isaac tried to stifle a chuckle, but instead felt tears beginning to fall down his cheeks, onto the floor beneath him.

He tore himself away from looking at the kitchen, and began making his way down the straight hallway towards the other rooms of the small house. His steps paused at the door to his office as he looked in. The computer screen was turned off for once after so many years. Many nights he would sit at that same chair, staring at the screen, tapping away at his keyboard for hours on end. Occasionally, Windchaser would just sit next to him, watching his father at work, not knowing in the slightest what he was doing. More often than not, Isaac would have to carry his small form from the office to his room and tuck him in after he had fallen asleep.

Isaac continued down the hall, all of the memories of his many years here washing over him. He looked into his own disheveled room, the bed he was tossing and turning in not five minutes before. Whenever Windchaser would be kept awake by nightmares, Isaac would have him snuggle into bed next to him, constantly reassuring his son that he was safe, and that nothing would separate the two of them.

Looks like a promise I won’t be able to keep.

Isaac finally stepped up to the last room in the house, guarded by a single closed door, adorned with pictures he and Windchaser had either taken with a camera or drawn together. There was one that stood out to him: a picture of the two of them, taken back at the house he had ran off to after fleeing the IHSA. From looking at the size of the colt, and the color of his own hair, Isaac figured Windchaser was about four in that picture.

Isaac was on both knees, his hands up against the door, holding himself up. Tears were freely cascading from his tightly shut eyes, his chest tight, his heart aching. He gritted his teeth, trying his hardest not to scream out from what he was feeling. His hands finally fell free from the door, slamming into the plush carpet beneath him with a dull thumph. He buried his face in the palms of his hands, rocking back and forth on his knees.

“Daddy? Are you okay?” a soft voice called from above Isaac. He quickly wiped the tears from his face, an attempt to keep up the strong figure he had held for Windchaser for so long. But no matter how hard he tried, his voice was still shaking.

Windchaser stood before Isaac, his mane a slight mess. “Hey, sport. I was about to wake you up. Auntie Sunny is waiting.” Isaac tried to stand up, his joints reluctantly following him. He felt his knees begin to shake beneath him, holding himself up against the wall beside him.

“Oh boy!” Windchaser cheered, before letting it fall into a long yawn. “Is she taking me camping again?”

“I’ll tell you in a minute. Come with me.”

The duo walked along the hall, past all of the rooms that Isaac had reflected upon seeing on his way back, without a second glance.

“Hi Auntie Sunny!” Windchaser cheered, bouncing over and hugging his aunt’s leg. She placed a hoof around his neck, holding him against her, tightly. She looked up at Isaac, who was standing in the doorway, with tear-filled eyes.

“We’ve got to get down to the town hall, we don’t want to miss the evac!” Bullseye growled.

“Daddy? What’s Uncle Bullseye saying?” the blue colt asked, looking back at Isaac. He walked out from the doorway, and out onto the sidewalk. He knelt down onto his knees, reaching eye level with his son.

Isaac looked at his son’s eyes. They were a brilliant emerald green, shining brightly even in the dark hours of the morning. They were the eyes of an innocent soul. They were the eyes of a child, and an endlessly curious one at that. They were the eyes of his son. They were the eyes of his family, whom Isaac had once thought lost to him. They were the eyes of those who sought happiness in such a dark and dreary world. They were the eyes of those who would deliver humanity from their sins. And they were the eyes of Isaac Hamilton, staring back at himself.

“I… I have to go somewhere,” Isaac began, his voice shaking even more so than before.

“Where are you going, daddy? Can I come?”

“Sorry, sport. This time I gotta do it on my own. I’m going away for a long time.”

“When are you gonna come back?”

“I… I don’t think I will.”

“Daddy, why are you crying?”

Isaac brushed his fingers along his cheek. He was indeed crying once again.

“Well would you look at that. Well, son, it’s because I love you so much. So very, very much. And I’m gonna miss you even more. But you gotta go with your aunt and uncle now.”

Windchaser’s eyes began to turn from confusion to panic. “Wait! Why do I have to go now?! I don’t wanna go! I want to stay with you, daddy! Daddy! DADDY!!” Windchaser screamed as Bullseye pulled him away. Windchaser was kicking and screaming, tears falling freely from his own eyes too.


The screams began to disappear as Bullseye kept hauling the colt down the street, and the more Windchaser screamed, the faster he used up the little energy he had. Soon he would simply pass out, his efforts putting too much strain on a tired body.

“Isaac, I don’t think I can love him nearly as much as you do, but Celestia help me if I don’t try. I promise you he will have a wonderful life.” Sunny trotted up to the slumped over form of her brother. He rose up, and threw himself over her shoulders, burying his face into her bright blond mane.

“Just make him happy. That’s all I ask. Make him happy and give him the life we never could have ourselves.”

“You say that like you don’t trust me,” Sunny chuckled, wiping the rapidly forming tears of her own.

“Of course not. I trust you and Bullseye with every fiber of my being.”

“I’m… I’m gonna miss you, big brother. I really will.”

“You got me kicking and screaming over there! But I’ll miss you too, Erika. I’ll miss all of you. Now you better get going. You don’t wanna miss the teleport, Bullseye will have an earful for you if you don’t get moving.”

Sunny Days stepped back, and began flapping her wings, rising higher and higher in the air. “Goodbye Isaac! I’ll miss you!”

Isaac looked up at the mare, already flying in the direction his brother-in-law went. Waving his hand, he shouted back to her. “Goodbye sis!”

Looking back down at the concrete beneath him, Isaac rose to his feet and walked back inside, fresh tears forming in his eyes.


Isaac looked down over the valley below from his perch high on top of a nearby mountain. The empty town sitting amongst the endless sea of trees gave no signs of life. The residents had just finished evacuating a few hours ago; Isaac watched the last of them leaving through his pair of binoculars.

“Sir, are you sure you are okay with this?”

“As I’ll ever be, SyRE. If I gotta see the end of my days, I want to have a good view.”

Isaac sat back in his folding chair and opened his thermos of raspberry tea. He poured a cupful of the sweet smelling drink into the cap and took a long sip. He had been feeling nervous all day, after all. He had driven up the mountain to the old abandoned campground at the summit in the same pick-up truck he and Will had taken all those years ago to the IHSA along with a portable terminal so SyRE could accompany him.

“Sure is a beautiful afternoon.”

“I will have you know that Windchaser and your sister’s family have made it to the Equestrian border. Theirs was the last group to arrive, and the shield was raised to full power before I was cut off. It should be starting soon,” the speaker chirped.

Isaac leaned in his chair onto the back two legs. A warm breeze blew across his body, tingling his leathery old skin. His chair fell back down to the dirt and he bounced up and walked over to the rail that kept everyone away from the cliff-face.

“Sir, are you afraid of dying?”

Isaac looked at the computer for a moment. He scratched his head. “That’s a pretty deep question, wouldn’t you say so?”

“Yes it is. But you still haven’t answered the question.”

Isaac laughed as he walked back to his chair. “Well, I suppose I kind of am. Afraid. I mean, who isn’t? It’s the last frontier for mankind to explore, a land that once you venture to, you can never return to tell your brethren what you’ve discovered. It’s the ultimate mystery. But, when I think about it, there have been so many people who’ve already gone forth with it. It’s... humbling, I suppose. I will be the last human to make this journey.”

Isaac closed his eyes, relaxing in his chair. The weight of the thermos pressed down on his lap. He took deep breaths, his heart racing. Faster than it ever had before. He was excited, but he was still scared. Scared of the unknown, scared of what will become of his body and his mind. And he was sad. He was never going to be able to see his son ever again. His heart was going to be crushed once he found out. Isaac felt a gentle rumbling in the soles of his feet. He opened his eyes and pushed himself to his feet. He walked over to the railing by the cliff, staring out across the land.

“Ah! There it is!” Isaac yelled. On the far horizon, a bright green flash colored the sky for a few moments. The sky faded back into its blue hue, but closer on the horizon, the pale green was growing in intensity. The ground below Isaac’s feet began to rumble, the wind began to blow harder, carrying the smells of fresh cut flowers and the various smells of spring. It was something the entire world was feeling.

He could see it now. It was a massive wall of green light, sweeping across the landscape, coating everything in its path with its touch. Isaac looked out through the binoculars that hung around his neck, watching as the countryside was swallowed up by the wall. He tried to see past the glow to the lands behind the wall, but the light was too bright to make out any discernible detail.

“Hey, SyRE. You got it sent, didn’t you?” Isaac said to the computer, without taking his eyes away from the light.

“Yes, Isaac, it finished uploading just before the shield was closed.”

“Excellent.” Isaac started to look back through his binoculars, but froze. “Hey, wait. You just called me Isaac.”

“Yes, Isaac, I did. After all, there is a first time for everything.”

Isaac gave a hearty chuckle at the AI that helped him through so much. The wall of green was now washing over the town at the base of the valley now, flooding the area like a great tidal wave. It was only a matter of moments before he would be taken as well.

“To Mankind!” Isaac cheered, lifting his fist up towards the green light, a brilliant smile lighting up his face.

Isaac took a great breath as the wall of magical energy washed over the campsite.

Isaac could feel the energies nipping at his skin, his mind, and his soul. He looked at his hands, slowly dissolving into a loose cloud of shining mist that faded into the energies surrounding him. It didn’t hurt, he thought, but rather it felt good. He felt the grip of age fading away from him, he felt the years of sadness and regret being washed from his mind into the ocean of energy surrounding him. His body was now afloat within the swirling green mass, his legs having already vanished from sight. There was no blood, no pain, no feeling of loss. He felt like he was finally going home. He was joining with everything, and it just felt right.

His torso was now starting to fade now. Isaac still felt his lungs and took a deep breath, filling what was left of his chest with the swirling green mist. What he smelled, what he tasted, what he felt was positively beyond definition. He smelled the greatest and most beautiful scents that nature had to offer, and tasted the sweetest and most delicious of flavors he could ever have imagined. Everything was beautiful, serene, and just so complete. Every sense of his was being overwhelmed with pleasure and joy, and they were overcome even more so when he felt more of himself joining with the maelstrom swirling around him.

As the last parts of his body dissolved, he let out his breath in a great bellowing laugh. The most joyous, triumphant, and happiest laugh he had ever given as tears began to fall from his eyes. They too began to fade, as his head and face vanished in a flash of green. Even after the last parts of him faded from sight, he was not yet gone from the world. His laugh echoed throughout the empty valleys, across the barren plains and deserts, across the vast oceans until every corner of the Earth had felt his joy. As it circled the world, it finally converged on the great nation of Equestria.

Ponies were hunkered down in camps, cities, and towns all over the giant island nation. The sky above them was glowing an eerie green, eyes turned skyward to the Purification. Everything underneath the shield was silent aside from the sounds of nature spread out across the verdant lands. The breeze rustling the leaves, the rivers splashing against their banks. Colts and fillies clung to their parents, as nervous and unsure about what was going on as their parents.

But as they stared at the sky in wonder, something began to make itself heard within every gathering of ponies. It was a faint laugh. Everypony heard it, everypony felt it. Pure, infectious joy. As it spread through the crowds, frowns turned to smiles, smiles turned into laughs, which in turn grew into cheers and celebrations. The roars of joy and celebration echoed throughout Equestria.

Even in the great bastion of Canterlot, the Royal Pony Sisters succumbed to the infectious joy. They embraced each other, laughing and cheering along with the rest of the world. Celestia looked out towards the brilliant green sky, shedding a tear for the loss of the bravest man she ever knew.

But in the all the commotion, nopony seemed to notice a single young pegasus curled up in a corner. His face was buried in his hooves, hiding the mournful sobs of his loss from the world around him. He had lost the one person who had ever cared for him, not out of obligation or being forced to do so, but out of his own heart. The pegasus felt as if a part of him had been ripped away and was left for dead. What made it worse was that nopony seemed to notice or care. His aunt and uncle were cheering along with the rest of crowds, for reasons that he couldn’t seem to fathom. Even his cousins Pearl and Bracket were laughing too. He was all alone now. His father had been the whole world to him, guiding him since he was born.

Why did his dad leave? Was he a bad son? How could he hope to live on now? The sobs grew into full wracking cries, shaking the young pegasus with each wail. But as hard as the pegasus tried, he was drowned out beneath the cheers and celebration. As he ran out of breath and tears, Windchaser slumped in the corner, unable to find the energy to cry or even move anymore. He sat there, staring out through hazy eyes to an uncaring world. He closed his eyes, begging the darkness to take him and relieve him of his misery. But in the din of the celebrations, his ears picked something out.

When it finally reached him, it wasn’t in the form of a laugh or a cheer.

Windchaser felt someone rustle his mane, and a whisper in his ear.

“Make me proud, son, and live on for the two of us.”



View Online

~ 10 Months AP (After Purification) ~

The first rays of sunlight began to bathe the valley, the chill in the air finally beginning to dissipate from the cold night before. Though the day had barely started, the Pegasus Weather Squad was already hard at work, prepping the skies for the day’s forecast. Sunny with passing clouds, giving way to a clear sky later that evening.

While they tirelessly worked, the town below slowly began to rise from its slumber. The few stores had begun to open for the day, workers continued their work on the many houses and buildings yet to be constructed, and colts and fillies began their morning by getting ready for school.

A shrill beeping resounded in one of the houses, sending a pegasus colt tumbling out of bed in a tangle of his own sheets onto the floor. He wiggled his head free and glared at the black box resting on his window sill. “Turn it off!”

“Of course, sir,” the box responded. The ringing ceased its assault on the colt’s ears. Falling back into the bundle of sheets, he began to feel the sweet, sweet grip of sleep begin to take him again. “Sir, if you don’t get ready for school, your aunt will send Pearl and Bracket in to finish my job for me.”

The blue pegasus’ eyes snapped open in panic. “Alright, alright, I’m up, I’m up!” Windchaser said as he wiggled his way free from the sheets. He stretched his forehooves and wings out, hearing the groans and cracks of his joints waking up along with him. He never liked mornings. Not one bit. He yawned and smacked his lips as he looked out the window from his room. The sun was hanging lazily above the horizon, the glare blinding his still half-lidded eyes.

Bringing his hoof to his eyes to shield them from the sunlight, he turned and trotted to his door and down the upstairs hall to the bathroom to take a quick and soothing shower to wake him up. After he felt clean enough, he toweled himself off the best he could, shaking the rest of the moisture off by whipping his head around. He rose up to the sink and took a mouthful of the oppressively minty mouthwash and swished it around in his mouth.

He looked at his own reflection while he was busy with the mouthwash. His white mane was frizzy from the shower still, but still reflected the light from the window impressively enough. His sky blue coat was smooth all across his body. He flicked his white tail, whipping the last of the water across the bathroom wall. He smiled to himself sheepishly and spit out the mouthwash, whispering “Sorry...”

Trotting back into his own room clean and refreshed, Windchaser began tucking his books into his saddlebags. “Hey SyRE, what time is it?”

“About 8:23. Homeroom starts in seventeen minutes, sir,” the computer responded.

Windchaser nodded and tossed his bags onto his back. He slowly and calmly walked from his room downstairs to the kitchen, where his family sat waiting for breakfast.

“Morning, Windchaser!” Pearl and Bracket echoed simultaneously. The pink and grey pegasus twins somehow manage to coordinate all of their speech and actions with each other, creeping Windchaser out a little bit. They were a few years younger than him, and they were just barely getting the hang of flying.

“Good morning, Pearl, good morning, Bracket. Aunt Sunny, what’s for breakfast?” Windchaser asked, feeling his stomach grumble. The yellow pegasus at the counter picked up a plate in her mouth and carried it over to the kitchen table, setting it down gently.

“Good morning, Windchaser. I’ve got some cinnamon toast here for everypony. Dig in!” The plate was stacked high with slices of toast, each glistening with a layer of sugar and cinnamon with a light coat of butter underneath. The twins both grabbed one each, nibbling on the corners. Windchaser’s uncle, Bullseye, grabbed a pair of slices and placed them on his plate. He leafed through the newspaper as he began chewing on one of his slices.

“Looks like the new district should be done by the end of the week, honey. I think I heard that we’re getting a good amount of ponies moving in here when it’s done.”

Sunny Days smiled at her husband and kissed him on his cheek. “Oh, good! It’ll be nice seeing more faces in town. It was wonderful of the Princesses to get us this house here in the first wave of construction, but the town was so empty aside from all the workers. I still can’t believe they wanted to build us a mansion of all things!”

Bullseye chuckled. “Yeah.” Switching his attention, Bullseye looked over to the blue pegasus, who was finishing his last slice of toast. “Say, shouldn’t you be on your way to school, young colt?” Bullseye said as he patted Windchaser’s back. His wings flared up in surprise at the impact, making him almost choke on his toast.

Fighting down his coughs, Windchaser put on a smile. “I was just about to head out!” Without giving any time for his aunt or uncle to say another word, he was out the door and in the sky.

“I swear. That colt is too much sometimes.” Sunny took a seat at the table, starting on the last slice of toast herself.

“He sure has changed in the last year. I thought he’d never get over what happened...” Bullseye said, solemnly.

“But he has. And I couldn’t be happier to see him smile again,” Sunny said as a speck of light reflected off the tear forming in her eye. She wiped it away with her hoof and took another bite of her toast.


Windchaser glided over the town as it was still waking up. He could see more and more colts and fillies slowly making their way towards the single school in the town as he flew, even recognizing a few of them. At first, Windchaser really didn’t like school, which seemed to be a common feeling among his classmates. All the boring homework and assignments never interested him in the slightest. During recess, he would often fly up, find a nice cloud, and take a short nap since all the ones he tried to take in class would get interrupted by the teacher.

One day a few months back, he saw a unicorn he recognized from his class getting harassed by some of the bullies from the grade above them. He swooped down to help the colt, but instead got his flank handed to him by the bullies. The unicorn attempted to help Windchaser out, but was left with a few bruises and some cuts on his legs as a result.

Rising to his hooves, the unicorn shook the dust from his coat and began chuckling. “That was fun!”

“Huh?” Windchaser stretched out his wings, checking to see if any of his feathers got torn out during the scuffle. They were ruffled, but all still accounted for. “Yeah, I suppose it was kinda fun.”

The red unicorn laughed and held out his hoof. “The name’s Nova. Next time, you should come in from above and take one of them by surprise, instead of going in from the front. Make it more of an even fight instead of being outnumbered,” Nova suggested.

“Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. Oh, I’m Windchaser by the way.”

Nova was Windchaser’s first friend from school. They got together every few days after school, playing around and wrestling with each other, as well as figuring out creative ways to get back at the bullies that bothered them so much.

“Maybe I can make their lunches explode while they’re trying to eat them!” Nova said, his eyes lighting up in glee.

“How in Equestria would you do that?” Windchaser asked, puzzled.

Nova’s brow dropped as he held a hoof towards his horn. “Duh.”

Windchaser brought a hoof to his forehead and sighed. “Right.”

Windchaser snapped back to reality, feeling the wind beneath his wings again. He scanned the small crowd of fillies and colts as he slowly descended, keeping his eyes out for Nova. Suddenly, Windchaser felt himself get pushed forward into the dirt from the air. He was quickly back on his hooves, and whirled his head left and right, his eyes looking for the faintest hint of red or orange in the group of ponies staring at him.

“Hya!” a voice called out from behind him. He beat his wings once, pushing himself forward a few feet as he heard the body crash into the dirt where he had just been standing. Windchaser turned around to see a red unicorn picking himself up from the ground.

“Maybe I should be quieter from now on,” Nova murmured as he walked up alongside the pegasus. Some of the ponies were still staring at the two of them, wondering what had just transpired.

“I could hear your hoofsteps even before you tried to tackle me,” Windchaser said, poking Nova’s belly with his hoof.

“H-Hey! I’ve been working with my dad with the construction! I’ve been losing weight!” Nova replied, defensively.

“Don’t listen to that featherbrain, Nova. You look just fine.”

“Oh, hey North Star. Thanks.” The dark blue unicorn trotted up between the two colts and glared at Windchaser.

“You should stop teasing Nova so much, Chaser. Who knows... one day you might be so chubby you couldn’t fly anymore,” North Star joked. Windchaser gulped nervously.

He and Nova met North Star a few weeks after the two of them finally got back at the bullies during lunch time. Nova’s spell worked perfectly, sending chunks of sandwich all over the lunchroom, drawing the laughs of everypony around. Unfortunately, the principal had seen Nova casting his spell, so they were both punished immediately when Windchaser tried to shift the blame for the idea on himself.

They were both sentenced to two weeks of detention each, to stay inside during recess. During their last day of detention, a unicorn was sharing the room with them. She had been trying to protect another filly from the same bullies that had been harassing Nova and Windchaser before they got their revenge. North Star had ended up hurting one of them pretty bad with an overpowered spell, earning her detention along with the two colts already there.

Windchaser and Nova promised to keep an eye on the bullies while North Star was in detention, making sure none of the younger ponies got hurt or harassed by them. Needless to say, they ended up in detention for another two week period the very next day.

The trio finally arrived at their classroom, each taking their respective seats. North Star sat behind Windchaser, and Nova sat next to her. They were roughly situated in the middle of the room among the rest of the desks. As the final colt took his seat, the teacher finally walked in through the door.

“Good morning, class!” she sang. Her students either had their eyes closed and trying to sleep, or were talking amongst themselves. “AHEM!” she said, clearing her throat loud enough to quiet the rest of the class. “I said ‘good morning’, and what do you say back to somepony when they say that to you? Hm?”

The class collectively groaned and responded in a staggered unison: “Good morning, Mrs. Feather.”

“That’s better!” the lavender mare said with satisfaction. “Well, class, today we are getting a new teacher for the school! He’s going to be teaching your science and history classes from this point on. You can come in now, Mr. Quill!”

Windchaser looked towards the door to see a dark green earth pony trot into the room. His mane was a pitch black, and was somewhat disheveled despite evidence of combing in parts of it. He placed his saddlebags beside the desk.

“Good mornin’, class. My name’s Inked Quill, an’ I’ll be teaching you lot science an’ human history.” His voice had a bit of an accent to it, drawing giggles from North Star.

“Your voice sounds funny!” she managed to say.

Mr. Quill smiled as he looked towards the filly. “An’ you have a funny voice yourself, missy.” It seemed like he was about to say something more as his mouth hung open, but he slowly closed it and shook his head briefly. His eyes jumped from North Star to Nova, then to Windchaser. “Nah...” he whispered to himself, before beginning his lecture.

“That was weird!” Nova whispered to both Windchaser and North Star. The two nodded in unison.

Windchaser sat in his chair and listened to Mr. Quill begin talking about Human History. “About thirty years ago, this planet was filled not with ponies, but with big monkey men.” The class giggled from the remark. “Oy! I was one of those ‘monkey men’ once. An’ so were most of your parents. Anyway, before the Princesses brought Equestria to Earth, it was a much different place back then.”


“Oy, uh,” Mr. Quill paused as he checked the roster on his desk. “Windchaser! Can you see me before you leave? I’d like to ask you something.” Windchaser looked to his two friends as they were leaving.

“Oh, uh, my parents wanted me home right after school anyway, Chaser. Gotta help my dad with some more construction! Bye!” Nova said before dashing off down the hallway.

“I’ll see you later Windchaser. I don’t think you did anything today to get another detention, so it’s probably nothing. Take care!” North Star trotted off down the hall in Nova’s wake. Windchaser watched as she walked out from the doors, barely catching himself from eyeing his friend.

“Ahem.” Mr. Quill stood at his desk, stuffing papers and books into his saddlebags as the pegasus walked to the desk.

“Am I in trouble?” he asked.

“Oh. Oh, no, nothing like that! I just wanted to ask you a quick question.” Mr. Quill paused for a second as he dropped his gaze to the floor. Picking it up again, he asked, “what’s your dad’s name?” Mr. Quill asked with a hint of nervousness.

Windchaser felt it in his throat. He felt it in his eyes, in his head, in his heart. He had no idea why somepony would ask about his dad, let alone his new teacher. He was having such a great day, and now it all came crashing down at this simple question. “My... dad... h-his name was Isaac.” Windchaser was struggling to hold his composure, keeping his tears firmly behind his eyes.

“You’re...! So Isaac made it out okay! Haha! Well I’ll be damned! It’s, me! Quincy! Isaac’s old friend! I knew you and your dad when you were still a foal!” Windchaser stared at the earth pony in confusion. “Did... did he not mention me? At all?” the pegasus shook his head. “Nothing about me or Will or Roxy?” Another shake of his head. “Alright. Well where is that bloke, nowadays? I haven’t seen him in years!”

Windchaser dreaded this. he was hoping so hard that Mr. Quill- Quincy- wouldn’t ask this. Mustering up every mote of courage he held Windchaser steadied his voice. “He’s gone. H-He stayed b-behind during t-t-the P-Purification.”

“What?! Why in the hell... Oh... Oh damn...” Quincy stopped himself as soon as he saw the colt physically trembling in place, his eyes firmly locked on the floor. “I-I’m so sorry, Windchaser. I didn’t mean to bring something this painful. Why don’t you get going. I shouldn’t have brought this up. I’m so terribly sorry.”

“I... I need to go.” Windchaser turned towards the door. He was losing the fight against the tears, and he didn’t want to break down in front of his new teacher, let alone a friend of his father.

“Do you think someday you can tell me about him? About Isaac? Everything you can remember? I’d like to know how he did. If it’s okay with you.” Quincy looked at the poor pegasus, who stood in the doorway.

Windchaser galloped down the hallway before he could respond, leaving Quincy in the classroom by himself. He cursed to himself and tossed his bags on his back.

“You just had to fucking do that, didn’t ya, Quincy? Gah. The poor kid probably hates me now. I gotta go make this right.”


Windchaser flew as fast as he could through the skies above town, hoping that nopony could see or hear him as he sped overhead. He was crying again. Crying harder than he had in months. He could have sworn he had gotten over this in the past. He had finally gotten over the death of his father, and now somepony comes in and reminds him all about it!

The colt breached the town’s border and flew further out along the forest. The massive sea of green stretched out in all directions around him. It was so unlike the forest he lived by when he was very young, living with just his dad and SyRE... the forest there was dark and scary. When he would sleep at night he could sometimes hear howls of the monsters who lived in the forest. He would snuggle closer to his dad for protection, who was always there to provide it for him.

“Dammit!” the colt screamed. He could feel his wings starting to cramp up, but through the blur the tears created in his eyes, he could make out his destination: a singular mountain rising above the sea of trees around it. There were trees up the back of the mountain, but the side facing Windchaser was a shear cliff of grey rock. On top of the mountain, there was a small grassy field, the forest staying clear and ending a short way before the peak.

Except for one tree.

A few weeks after the Purification, Windchaser had been incessantly pleading SyRE for where his dad was before he died. Eventually, SyRE gave him the coordinates where Isaac was to aid in his emotional recovery. The coordinates led him to the top of the very mountain just outside of his new town.

Windchaser dropped to his hooves on the soft grass on the peak, and fell further onto the ground. His chest was tight from the exertion, sweat trickled down from his mane onto the grass. After taking a few more moments to catch his breath, he dropped his saddlebags onto the grass and walked up next to the lone tree rooted on the summit.

“Hey, dad.”

When Windchaser had finally reached the mountain for the first time, he saw this exact scene: a singular oak tree standing on the very top of the mountain that his dad died on when the world was cured and rejuvenated. Windchaser was absolutely convinced that his dad, somehow, was that tree. It rose at least a hundred feet from the peak, reaching towards the clouds above.

“I... needed to see you again. I met somepony today, who said he knew you. He said his name was Quincy. He’s my new teacher at school. He asked me about you. I...” Windchaser began choking on his words. He sidled up next to the tree and sat down on the cool grass in the oak tree’s shadow and rested the side of his head against the bark. “I miss you so much, dad.

“I was finally getting better, too! I wasn’t crying every night like I used to, I didn’t need to come here every day just to get by without breaking down. I mean, I love coming here to see you!” the colt said, hastily. “Don’t get the wrong idea, I love seeing you! It was... just bad that I needed to see you every day to get by. I... I’m just glad I’ve had you to talk to all this time, whether you can hear me or not.”

Windchaser sat next to the oak tree in silence. “Nova and I finally convinced the teachers the other day to give those bullies detention after they saw them hurting a filly! North Star didn’t like letting the filly get hurt, but she was able to help heal some of her scratches with her magic after the bullies were taken to the Principal's office. It only took us a few months, but we got them!” Windchaser laughed as he thought of his two friends... but mostly about North Star.

“I... I wish you could help me out, dad... I think I like my friend, North Star. Like... i like her like her. She’s really pretty, she’s nice, and we get along... well, pretty well. She likes to make fun of me a bunch though... but I make fun of her too!” Windchaser broke into a silly grin thinking about her. “I remember seeing in some of those movies you and I watched about how human kids had crushes on each other... I wonder if it’s the same for ponies... I’ll have to ask Uncle Bullseye! He’d know!” Windchaser's spirits lifted more. He smiled and rested his head against the tree for a while, watching the clouds tenuously chug past. After a while, the clouds began taking on a yellower hue as the sun began to approach the horizon.

Windchaser rose to his hooves and stretched his limbs and wings out. He was well rested enough to make it back home without any breaks, and it was starting to get dark. Aunt Sunny would start getting worried if he didn’t leave for home soon. “I’m gonna get going, dad. I think I’m feeling a bit better, now that I got to talk to you again.” Pausing for a second, he continued, “and I think I'll talk to Quincy about what we did. Well, as much as I can remember, at least. He sure seems nice enough, even with his funny accent!”

Windchaser walked back to where he collapsed when he arrived and picked up his saddlebags, setting them in place. With a few beats of his wings, he rose in the air and hovered over the ledge of the cliff.

“Thanks for listening, dad. I’ll come back soon to see you again, I promise!” Windchaser smiled and tossed himself off the cliff. He felt the rushing of wind through his mane and tail as he hurtled down the cliff face, watching the trees rushing ever closer to meet him at full speed. At the last minute, he unfurled his wings, catching the speeding wind under them and rising up just above the canopy at an amazing speed. He steadily rose higher and higher above the trees and looked back at the mountain. A gust of wind must have been blowing, because it looked like the oak tree was waving all of it’s branches at him as he left.


Windchaser gently glided down to the front of his family’s house right as the sun was setting. The orange rays of the sun made his mane look a lot like Nova’s, making Windchaser chuckle a bit. He walked to the front door and nudged it open with his head, entering his house. Not a single light was on, giving the room a spooky darkness amidst the twilight.

“Hello? Anypony here?”

“SURPRISE!!” Windchaser was knocked to his rump from the sudden assault of light, color, nose, and not to mention the two winged bullets that crashed into his chest, knocking him back onto his rump.

“Happy birthday, Windchaser!” Pearl said.
“Happy birthday, Windchaser!” Bracket said.

“Wha- What’s going on?!” Windchaser muttered. He rose to his hooves, looking around at all the ponies gathered in the living room, all wearing party hats. He recognized them all as his classmates from school, and they were all smiling at him for the first time he could remember.

“Duh! It’s your birthday!” Nova said from behind him. Windchaser turned around to see his red friend wearing one of the hats himself. “Dude, you forgot it was your birthday?”

Windchaser brought his hoof up to his forehead so hard that it almost hurt. “I... guess I did?” he responded with a sheepish grin on his face.

“Happy birthday, Windchaser! I invited all of your friends for your birthday party! You’re sixteen today! You need to have an awesome birthday party when you’re sixteen!” Sunny said, wrapping her neck around the colt in an embrace.

“But... but I-”

“And where have you been? We were expecting you home an hour ago!" Sunny brought her head back with her brow furrowed in worry. "Oh, no matter! You’re here, everypony else is here, let’s have a good time! I have a cake to finish!” Windchaser’s aunt rushed back into the kitchen, almost knocking over a stack of pots and pans on the counter.

“This... was a surprise.” Windchaser said to himself.

“Well, isn’t that the general idea?” North Star trotted up behind Windchaser, smiling. “My birthday was a few weeks ago, but my parents didn’t do anything like this for me! I’m pretty jealous,” she joked.

"T-Thanks for coming, Star. I really mean it. Thanks." Windchaser gave the filly a smile. She looked over his shoulder, focusing on something behind him. Her horn started to glow with a blue light as he felt something placed on his head. He reached up to feel it, finding one of the party hats that his friends were all wearing.

“It's not a party without party hats!" North Star said, pausing for a moment. "Well, that's what my mom says. She's a party organizer in town. She helped your aunt with everything, but your aunt insisted on doing the cake herself," North Star giggled. "My mom says that she's been working on it all day, since you left for school, at least!" North Star burst into another fit of giggles, Windchaser joining her. As they both calmed back down, North Star looked at the ground and rubbed one of her hooves against her other leg. "A-And it certainly isn't a party without presents... a-and as for your present... I couldn’t find anything in town that I thought y-you’d like... so I... um...”

Before another word was said, North Star leaned over and gave a quick, gently kiss on Windchaser’s cheek. The colt felt his heart skip about ten beats, his cheeks burn with heat, and his head swim with a combination of surprise, joy, confusion, as well as a plethora of other indescribable thoughts and emotions. Her cheeks were a bright violet even under her dark blue coat.

“That was for helping me get those bullies at school... and, um, because... I... I kinda...” Before she could finish what she was about to say, she ran off into the crowd, disappearing from sight.

A massive wave of emotion crashed into the young colt. He felt his legs get replaced with jelly, threatening to fall out beneath him, should he try to move. He only just noticed, but his wings were stiffened on his back. He had no idea when they had gotten like that. Windchaser just wanted to collapse. He was suffering from far too much emotion all at once. But first, he needed to get something to drink.

He lazily walked over to the table with the drinks on it, trying desperately not to fall over from his still trembling legs. Windchaser opened his mouth to pick up one of the paper cups filled with juice, but paused for a moment to let his jaw stop shaking. When he felt the trembling cease, he picked up the cup with his teeth and arched his neck back, draining the sweet tasting juice in a few gulps. He dropped the red-stained cup in the garbage can next to the table and sunk into one of the cushions on the couch nearby.

“Du-u-u-u-ude!” Nova said as he took a seat next to him. “That was awesome! Nice going! You handled it real smooth. Like a pro.” Windchaser looked up at his friend, his mind still high from the experience. “Well, not really. But whatever! I’ll have you know, she’s had her eye on you for a good few weeks now.”

“What?!” Windchaser said, finally able to form a word with his mouth.

“Yeah. I sometimes catch her staring at you during class, during detention, between classes. Nothing creepy, just a few glances at you. More than just casual glances, I might add.” Windchaser stared at his friend, completely dumbfounded. “Yeah, just like that," Nova said, nodding. After a few moments, his smile faded, replaced by a frown. "Okay, now you’re overdoing it. Cut it out.” Nova pushed WIndchaser’s muzzle away, turning his head and bringing his consciousness back.

“Oh, sorry. I’m... kinda... in a strange place right now. Sorry.”

“Oh, it’s no prob. Hey! Enjoy the party! It’s for you! Oh, and the present with the red and white polka dot wrapping is from me... my mom didn’t have any other kind of paper for it. But you’ll like what’s inside, I’m sure of it.” Nova hopped off from the couch and walked off into the crowd. Windchaser sat still for a few minutes, milling over what had been happening in his mind.

“Mind if I take a seat, Windchaser?” Quincy sat down next to the colt, much to his surprise.

“Wha-... How-”

“Don’t worry. I went to your house after you left the school, wanting to apologize. I met your aunt and introduced myself as one of Isaac's friends. Once she knew who I was, Isaac having mentioned me in the past, so she invited for me to stay for your party.” Quincy rested his back against the cushion and took a deep breath.

“It’s okay. I forgive you. About earlier.” Windchaser smiled up at the stallion. “And I’ll talk to you about me and my dad someday soon, I promise. I’ll bring along SyRE, so he can tell you the stuff I forgot.”

“Isaac’s AI is still kicking, eh? Good thing he hated them in the first place, otherwise he wouldn’t have gotten the damn thing. How about this weekend? My house is just on the other side of town. We can sit down and talk. How does that sound?”

“That sounds great. I’d love to hear more about my dad!” Windchaser smiled. Quincy smiled and excused himself from the couch, leaving Windchaser by himself once more.

“Windchaser! There’s somepony at the door for you!” Sunny shouted over the crowd of fillies and colts.

Windchaser hopped from the couch and weaved through all of the party-goers towards the front door. His aunt was standing in the doorway, holding the door open for him. Outside stood two unicorns: one, with a white coat and an icy blue mane, and the other with a maroon coat and an orange mane. It took a few moments for it to register, but Windchaser’s jaw suddenly dropped as he remembered who these mares actually were.

“Do you mind, miss Sunny Days? My sister and I would like to have a private word with your nephew, if that would be okay,” the white mare asked in a pure, song-like voice.

“Why of course. Come back in when you’re done, Windchaser. Cake and presents should be happening soon!” Sunny closed the door behind her.

“P-P-Princess Celestia! Princess Luna! What-” he began in a hushed voice still filled with astonishment. The white unicorn brought a hoof to his mouth, cutting him off mid-sentence.

“Shh, shh. We can’t have anypony knowing we’re here, young Windchaser,” Celestia said. “We are merely here to wish you a happy birthday and offer you gifts for such a joyous occasion. Will you accept them?”

Windchaser’s jaw hung open once again. He was getting birthday presents from the immortal goddesses themselves? It would be sacrilege if he declined! Standing up straight, he puffed out his chest, trying to look as impressive as he could for the Princesses.

“Of course I will accept your gifts, your majesties.” Windchaser tried as hard as he could to sound dignified and respectful when he spoke.

A faint glow emanated from Celestia’s horn and a small spark fell to the ground. A bright flash formed where it landed. When the light faded, a small white box adorned with the golden sun insignia sat where the spark landed. “I offer this gift to you, Windchaser. I wish for many long years ahead of you and good fortune to meet you along them.” Celestia stepped back, letting Luna step forward in her place.

The maroon unicorn smiled as she stepped before Windchaser. “You’ve gotten bigger since I last saw you! Have you been practicing your flying?” Luna asked, playfully.

“Of course, your highness. Every day!” Windchaser allowed himself a proud smile as he flourished his wings for her.

Another spark formed at Luna’s horn this time, falling in a similar fashion that Celestia’s did. When the indigo light faded, a purple box decorated with a silver moon insignia sat next to the gift from her sister.

“Make sure you enjoy it, Windchaser. Happy birthday!” Luna levitated the two gifts and balanced them on Windchaser’s back, where his saddlebags usually sat. Luna stepped back and joined her sister. The white mare smiled and nodded at her sister.

“Goodbye, Windchaser. Enjoy the evening.” In a blinding flash of light, the two disguised princesses disappeared.

The door burst open behind the young colt, surprising him. Ponies stuck their heads out the open door and through the windows, trying to catch a glimpse of what just happened. “What happened?! We saw a flash of light out here! Are you okay?!” Bullseye asked, rushing over to Windchaser.

“It’s okay, Uncle. It was just... some friends of my dad’s.” Windchaser walked back into the house and past all the staring ponies. He reached over and grabbed each gift with his mouth, placing each on the table with the rest of his gifts. There were quite a few, more than Windchaser had ever expected.

“Why don’t you go ahead and open some of them? Your aunt is almost done with the cake. Go ahead, it’s okay,” Bullseye said, patting the colt on the back.

Windchaser decided to look for Nova’s present first. He found it immediately: red and white polka-dots. He ripped the wrapping paper off with his teeth, holding the box in place with his hooves. After he got the paper off and the box opened, he pulled out a small comic book entitled ‘Grognak: The Barbarian’.

“My dad used to collect comics when he was a human. He said this one was the pinnacle of his collection, and that it’s one of the two copies he brought with him to Equestria. He gave both to me, so I decided to give this one to you! I hope you like it!” Nova nodded at Windchaser, wearing a smile.

“Thanks a lot, Nova. It means a lot to me,” Windchaser said, giving his friend a hoof-bump. Windchaser placed the comic book on the table as his uncle trotted up next to him with something resting around his neck.

“Here you go, Chaser. This one is from me. I know it’s not much, but it served me tremendously well in the past.” Bullseye handed Windchaser a tough brown satchel. It was old, but the faded emblem of the Equestrian Mail Service was still visible. He opened the flap and peered inside. The bag was very spacious, as it needed to be so for the deliveries his uncle needed to do. “Happy Birthday, kiddo.”

Windchaser went through most of the rest of the presents, thanking his classmates for each of the gifts. Before long, only three remained. The first was the one from Princess Celestia. Opening the top of the box, Windchaser looked inside and pulled out a letter adorned on a regal parchment scroll.

Clearing his throat, Windchaser read it out loud: “I, Princess Celestia of Equestria, hereby honor Isaac Hamilton, father of the pegasus Windchaser, with this Medal of Valor. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to not just stare one’s own demise in it’s eye, but to be forced to leave behind the one you love without reservation could break any human or pony. May Isaac’s son wear it with pride, knowing he is and always will be the son of his father.”

Not a single pony spoke. They all just stared at the blue colt in amazement at the honor he had just received. Not even Nova could say anything, which Windchaser joked to himself that it was the first time the unicorn stopped talking for any extended period of time.

Windchaser opened the small blue case sitting inside the white box, revealing a shining medal hanging from a golden ribbon. The medal itself was in the shape of a blazing sun, and indeed gave off its own glow in the dim light of the room. Windchaser closed the box, not wanting to dirty the honor presented to him for his father. He was certain to treasure both the letter and the medal for as long as he lived.

Windchaser placed the scroll and medal case back in the box they came in, gently placing the lid back on. He pulled the other box closer to him, inspecting the contents as he opened the lid. There was a sealed envelope and another scroll inside Luna’s box. Repeating the process that he used for Celestia’s gift, he read Princess Luna’s letter aloud:

“Dear Windchaser: While my sister has granted you and your father the highest honor that either of us can grant a human or pony, I give these to you: first is five tickets to the Wonderbolts show in Canterlot this year for the annual Grand Galloping Gala. The second is a private three day training camp I arranged for you personally with the three leaders of the Wonderbolts; Spitfire, Soarin, and Rainbow Dash. I hope you enjoy these gifts. Yours truly, Princess Luna.”

Windchaser felt his head almost float away in a dizzying high when he finally understood what he had read out loud. While they were more directly useful than Celestia’s gifts, they both were absolutely amazing in terms of what they were.

Silence befell the group as Windchaser reached over for the last gift. It was unmarked, no name for who it was from on the box. Regardless, Windchaser opened the plain box and saw only two things inside. The first was a pair of goggles; authentic Wonderbolts goggles! He had wanted a pair for as long as he could remember!

The second was a short note. All it read was this:

Keep your promise and
fly as fast as that comet!

Windchaser felt the tears returning in full force. And there was no use in stopping them. He let the emotions overflow and consume him as he fell into wracking sobs, the kind of which he hadn’t felt since the day his father was taken from him. He held the goggles close to his chest, cradling them there as the memories that he and his father shared all came surging back to him. The words they shared the night he earned his cutie mark:

“Woooow... How fast is that comet going?”

“About a million miles an hour. It’s pretty fast.”

“Then you know what?”

“What’s that, Windchaser?”

“I’m gonna learn how to fly faster than a comet!!”

But before he could release his emotions any more, the lights in the room dimmed to almost darkness. A deafening silence fell in the room. Slowly and quietly, the ponies around him all joined in song.

“Happy birthday to you...”

His aunt Sunny was pushing out a small cart with a cake sitting on top. Several glowing candles were lit, offering the only light for the room. Shadows danced along the walls in a bewitching pattern as the cart rolled closer.

“... happy birthday to you...”

Windchaser felt somepony move in and stand next to him on his left. It was his best friend Nova, grinning like a maniac.

“... happy birthday, dear Windchaser...”

Another body stood next to him. He felt the warmth as it rested against the side of his body and his wing. He looked to his right to see the luminous smile of North Star. Windchaser leaned his body a bit closer to her, feeling more of their bodies in contact. His heart was fluttering again, but not so much that his mind was lost to it.

“... happy birthday to you!”

Cheers erupted throughout the room as the cart was placed before the colt. He looked down at the cake, reading the message written in icing:

To Our Favorite Nephew
Happy Birthday Windchaser

The room faded once more to silence.

Windchaser took a deep breath. He knew he had a wish. But he also knew that the one wish he had could never fully come true. His father was gone, and there wasn’t anything changing that.

So he thought about what he wanted.

He had a loving family in Sunny Days, Bullseye, Pearl, and Bracket. They loved him without hesitation, welcoming him into their family.

He had his best friend, Nova, who would stick with him through thick and thin.

He had the one filly he cared deeply for and wanted to keep close to his heart for as long as he could imagine, North Star.

So he made another wish. One that he knew for a fact that he was sure he wanted. He spoke it to himself in his mind and was happy with what it was. And he blew out the candles, repeating the wish in his head.

I wish for nothing more. I have everything I could ever want.