A man asks the most important question of himself and the ponies: why?
As one man begins the process to become a pony, he ends up asking one very important question, one that will be answered in many ways. And the answers he finds will startle both himself and many others.
THIS WAS WRITTEN MAY, 2011. I just wanted to post it here. This is pretty much an average TCB story with humanity dropping everything to run to the ponies as saviors. I hadn't asked the 'why' of that yet, though I think I may have touched on it here. Here, instead, is a question about what the process (as explained to me in various stories I read) does to us. To the essence of humanity. It is also a bit misanthropic but at the time I thought that was the way to go with it. I've changed my mind since then. I also used a clip from another author's story, the 'dream' sequence during the transformation, and I may not have credited him. I THINK it was Midnight's story but I could be wrong. I'm sorry to the author for not crediting him, I wish I had saved where I got it from. If anyone knows, please PM me so I can give proper credit where it is due. Here's the clip from The Conversion Bureau compilation post on EqD.
As the Conversion Centers converts more and more humans into ponies, one question is answered in a multitude of ways. Why can be a very complex question.
Author's Note:Ok, here's the first MLP fanfic I ever published, though I was working on 'Sins of our Sisters' before this one. I think ... anyway. It's a 'Conversion Bureau' fic and it's a pretty average one at that. It is firmly in the 'humans are all going to Equestria and loving it' land and I'm embarrassed at some of the answers I gave. But live and learn. Please read my final thoughts at the end of it all, if you read it I mean. If it's not your thing, I don't mind. This was my 'I want to play with Pinkie' stage that we all go through, though it was a year (?) into my acceptance of being a fan. Maybe a year. Anyway, on with the fic.
"Afternoon, everyone. I'm Trixiebelle, and I'll be talking to you all for the next 20 minutes. Now, I'm almost positive all of you are here because you want to become a pony. This is a fact. You don't come here because you don't want to be a pony, unless someone forced you at gunpoint, but that's a different story."
The same speech, he realized. Other than the faces, everything was exactly the same as every other time he had come to the Conversion Center. He sighed. By now, he had memorized Twilight Sparkle's speech to memory. He had hoped moving to a different Center would give him a greater insight but the opening speech was exactly the same as the one in Newark. Either that or this Trixiebelle was particularly uninspired and was just copying someone else's work, though the way these hors -no, ponies- the way these ponies went on about friendship and the like, that would be hard to imagine.
His mind wandering, the lone man found himself nearly dozing off as the blue coated and pink maned pony continued on, reciting the prepackaged speech almost methodically. While she seemed to know what she was doing, he was particularly interested in the ending of the little seminar. Having heard the whole thing at least half a dozen times by now, he almost missed it.
"Our plan is to ponify you, the sooner the better. Expect this to happen when you least expect it. You'll get used to our culture, our food, and our lack of thumbs. Trust me, it's easier than it looks. Because humans can't handle the magic radiating from Equestrian borders, becoming a pony is crucial to expanding the peaceful, friendly aura that surrounds Equestria every day of every month of every year. Thank you."
It's all the same. He grimaced as the group began to clap, nervously at first but with growing enthusiasm. Right down to the blatant anti-human sentiment of the opening speech. How could anyone applaud this, this atrocity?
“Kevin James? Kevin James? KEVIN JAM-OH! There you are.” The Earth pony weaved through the packed cafeteria and over to his rather empty table, her hooves clopping hollowly against the cheap linoleum floor, a pair of, well, saddlebags swaying in time with her gait. She seemed a bit perturbed having to walk across such a strange and unnatural thing. Kevin glanced up from his book, a smirk planted carefully on his face.
“Generally, it's easier to walk across hard surfaces like laminated concrete with a comfortable pair of shoes.” He lifted one pant leg to show the a cheap, off-brand pair of beaten sneakers. “It can't be good for your hooves.”
“It isn't, but it's almost as uncomfortable to us to wear things on our hooves.” She returned his smirk and settled into the bench across from him, climbing on top of the too-wide surface and laying carefully down. One side pony, the other human. Soon, just the pony side will be needed. Kevin shook his head clear of those morbid thoughts. There would always be at least one human on Earth, he reasoned. Or perhaps hoped. The mare across from him tilted her head at the motion. “Bad time?”
“Oh, no. Not at all. Just . . . clearing my thoughts. You must be curious why I would want to talk to you after, er, orientation.” The mare nodded, tilting her head back upright.
“That and why you've been to orientation almost ten times. In different Centers, at that.” He blinked. Of course they'd have records of those who entered. And those who left the same. His face must have betrayed him as the mare across from him chuckled, bringing out a well-worn folder with her mouth and opening it the same. From his vantage, he could see several dozen pages as well as a few paper-clipped photos, stills from security cameras. “Yes, we keep track of all our entrants. As well as the few, shall we say, cold hooves? Er, hands in your case.”
“Feet actually. I should have guessed, of course.” He carefully folded the corner of his book, a worn and well-read edition of 'Gödel, Escher, Bach,' and placed it carefully on the table. “So what happens now?”
The mare across from him blinked, confusion filling her face. “I . . . I thought you had some questions about ponification. Did I miss some form of human prank?” A few of the nearby tables glanced in their direction, though most resumed eating right afterwards. It seemed a private conversation.
“Huh. Don't you suspect me of being involved in the HLF or some other anti-pony group?” He kept his hands in plain sight. You don't grow up a poor black kid in historic Harlem and not pick up a few habits. When dealing with authorities, it's always best not to make sudden moves and to always keep your hands were they can see them. It makes them less nervous.
“We did, at first, but,” she pulled out a few sheets of paper from the stack, carefully maneuvering them with her lips and tongue in a stunning display of maxillofacial dexterity. He could almost, almost mind you, see how the lack of hands didn't truly disadvantage them. With a flick of her head, she sent a sheet spinning towards him, stopped by his hand. A few surveillance photos taken from a height, probably from a pegasi flight. They were common enough now to not have raised his suspicion. They all showed him entering his front door and several of an untouched back door.
“Obviously, you live much like every other human does now, mostly alone and living off of the production of the mostly automated and AI-led factories and, what do you call them, hydroponids?”
“Hydroponics,” he gently corrected her, placing the sheet of photos down. He did not doubt there were many more like it in that stack of papers. She nodded.
“Yes, those things. Ingenious, by the way. Well, regardless, you are no anti-pony. We've seen you interact with our kinds many times, some we've talked to even spoke highly of your ability to empathize with them and their choice.” She shrugged her shoulders, as well as any pony could do anyway. “You're not gathering information to attack us, we don't think. And you certainly don't have much of a grudge against what we're doing. I am curious, though if you don't want to tell me...”
He pursed his lips and lowered his head, closing his eyes for a moment. Lost in thought.
“I can come back later.” He snapped his head up, a smile replacing his grimace.
“I wouldn't mind telling you, just not in such a large gathering. Is there someplace more private you can suggest?” The mare blinked, reaching over and taking back the discarded photo sheet, idly straightening up the folder and placing it gingerly back into her bag.
“My office perhaps? Or the gardens. One is more pleasant, the other more private.”
“The gardens. I wouldn't want to disturb anybody. Or anypony.” He stood, his thin yet compact 5 feet no inches not as intimidating as most of the other humans in the room, a few who reached well into the 7 foot range. Trixiebelle also stood, though for her it was more carefully done.
The gardens were quiet, he had to admit. Despite their proximity to what was left of Boston, the night air was almost as silent as a grave. Fitting, perhaps, for what may very well be the dusk of the entire human species. Kevin frowned at his own morbidity. Humanity would not die. There would always be those who chose the hard route, the historical one. The painful one.
They walked in silence, the man and the mare. Perhaps she relished this chance, this excuse, to avoid the hustle and bother of running a large Conversion Center on the eastern seaboard of the once mighty United States. Or maybe she just wanted him to take his time, to open as he needed to. More likely, whether it was true or not, she would respond with the latter. He chose to enjoy the night air in silence for a moment. If she did as well, so much the better.
They walked among the stately oaks, saved trees from one of the more severe hurricanes that had lashed its way up the coast from the Caribbean, and wandered down to where the Earth ponies had dug a meandering creek. A few times Trixiebelle had to wait for the slower Kevin to catch up. She did not seem to mind how long it was taking him to say his piece. Patience and kindness. That's all he ever felt from them. Eventually he held out his hand, stopping her. She looked up at him, slightly quizzically.
“I've been thinking over it for a long time, miss . . .” he furrowed his brow, “actually, I never did get your family name.” He looked down at her, frowning.
“We don't have them, really.” She looked away and smiled, a strange thing to see on a snouted face but reassuring nonetheless. “A few of the large, more complex families have them, like the very large Apple Clan out of Ponyville. Some of the more, shall we say, proud pony families take them as well. There are even some who claim they are descended from the Princesses and claim some form of family name. But for the most part, we don't have them.” She looked back at Kevin, her smile still in place. “Never saw the need, really.”
He shrugged and looked back towards the mostly darkened skyline of Boston. “Trixiebelle, then. I've been thinking a lot on, well, this world. All of it. And I have no problem at all with ponification.” She waited patiently. Surely there was more to it then that.
“I have a problem with your kind being anti-human.” She gasped. He looked at her, his eyes betraying no mirth. “Surely that would be problem enough.”
“Mr. James! Kevin. I am not anti-human!” He smiled slightly, he had struck some form of a chord.
“Allow me to beg to differ.” Kevin stood a bit straighter as he quoted directly her exact words from earlier this evening. “'I may not fully understand your reasoning behind your choice to become a pony, considering I was born one myself, but I can understand what we have been facing in the past few years. Humans such as yourselves have brought your world to shambles, all because of the selfish greed of big business, and the horrible health habits of the majority of the population.' Is that not in your opening speech?” Trixiebelle blinked. He had said it word for word, he knew that much.
He continued his quote. “'Our plan is to ponify you, the sooner the better. Expect this to happen when you least expect it. You'll get used to our culture, our food, and our lack of thumbs. Trust me, it's easier than it looks.'” He winked at his now thoroughly confused mare companion. “'Because humans can't handle the magic radiating from Equestrian borders, becoming a pony is crucial to expanding the peaceful, friendly aura that surrounds Equestria every day of every month of every year.'” Kevin looked squarely at his now muted mare companion. “Am I wrong?”
“No, Kevin. You said it better than I do some days. But I fail to see-” He cut her off with a sharp wave of his hand.
“It's not obvious, Trixiebelle. It's a subtle thing. The assumption that your ways are inherently better then ours. That we have been greedy and irresponsible with this planet and nothing more. That we are victims of a problem of our own making. I came here,” he spun around slightly, to show the hill top they were now perched on, “for a purpose. Trixiebelle, do you know the history behind those oaks?”
She followed his pointing finger to the grove they had just passed through. Wonderful trees, oaks. Her brow furrowed, much like his had. “No. No I do not.”
“I do. Three years ago, a mere year before the . . . well, the Contact, there was a terrible storm. All of those trees were horribly damaged, limbs torn free and fresh leaves ripped from branch. I know because I helped to cut the broken limbs, I helped to tend them with tar and hard work. Do you know why that storm came?” He had approached her, placed his hand on her neck. He hoped it was like placing a hand on a person's shoulder.
“No.” She turned back to him, again her face a mask of confusion.
“Neither do I. In that storm, almost a hundred people were killed.” He smiled gently at her gasp but continued. “Many by fallen trees but a few by electrical shock or simple heart failure. The streets were too hazardous for most to be rescued by our ambulance services. We tried, oh yes we tried. But it was not a good few nights.”
“Why did your weather service allow it to happen?” He could feel the confusion and pain in her voice. Such a storm must never happen in Equestria. He, of course, already knew this.
“Our weather services cannot change the weather. They can observe, they can try to predict. They can warn. But we don't have magic. Remember, ' humans can't handle the magic radiating from Equestrian borders,' you said so yourself. And I believe you. But there, you are the masters of all you see save a few, scattered remains of wild Equestria. Here, we are at the mercy of, well. Everything.”
“But your technology...” She motioned with her hoof, weakly.
“It enables us to be safe, mostly. But such things as hurricanes, as tornadoes, things that your people control through magic, we have no defense against save hope. And, yes, our technology perhaps did add to the power of the storms lately. Global Warming and all that. But we only really came to grips with the fact such a problem exists recently. We had no way of knowing, no sky-mother,” Trixiebelle winced at the near insult to Princess Celestia, “to tell us we were wrong. No all-knowing eye to keep us safe. We had to be that eye. And we, all of us mortal things, are so short sighted.”
Kevin let his hand fall. “I'm sorry to dump all of this on you at once. What your people did with magic, we had to force happen with whatever we had available. Steel and coal, gasoline and fire. We have many tools and it is because we have no magic they are there. Trixiebelle.” He raised her head up, looking into her blue eyes with his deep, almost black browns. “You judge us, silently. In your speech, I've heard nearly a dozen times. The way you look at us with pity and, yes, sometimes fear. You judge us. But you have no real right to do so.”
“We don't judge you. We just want to help.” Even to her ears, it almost sounded pitiful. A rational, an excuse. But really, they only wanted to help a people who were hurting.
“Then why not earlier? Why not World War II? Or the Cold War, if you were afraid of being drawn into combat? Or the 'War Against Terror' from a few years ago. Or any of the hundreds of conflicts that have torn this world apart? Why wait till now? Why wait?”
Kevin grew silent, as silent as the city behind him had become, as silent as the pony who, thinking to console a fearful human, now was having to defend her whole reason for being here. Of all the debates, the riots, the protests, this one human, with his quiet questions, had more fully and truly drawn out the hard questions that she, no, that no pony had ever been asked. Wistfully, she wondered why herself. Why her? Why this human?
And why now? What was different? The technological singularity? Humanity was, from her new point of view, finally able to heal this planet. They had changed from gasoline to batteries, from coal power to solar. They could clean it all up, if they tried, and many were. There was a form of peace, not full but greater than any their poor race . . . no, not poor. A peace greater than any their race had seen for at least a thousand years. Why now?
The quote, in her own voice, entered her head of it's own volition. She had said it, time and again, but she had never really listened to it. She had never really heard it. 'Ponykind faces overpopulation, in ways that the tiny isle of Equestria simply can't keep together for long. That's why we moved into your towns and cities. I'm sure you all know about this already, but what you haven't heard is why we're doing this. Why you are here today, sitting in this cramped room with sweaty, tired people just waiting for me to stop talking.'
It wasn't because of the pollution, the humans were getting that under control. It wasn't because of the sicknesses, they were moving beyond the need for money to drive their world. The wars were ending, the unemployment was becoming a needless statistic. When few worked, what was the need of employment? When AIs controlled production, harvesting of food, and even medicine, who needed to work except those who wanted to work? Not even because it was nice. It would have been nice in 1930, in 1840, in 1620. In 1000 AD, it would have been nice.
Why? Why? Why now? She knew. She just never realized, never admitted to herself the real reason. They were here now because it suited Equestria. Because Equestria needed humanity to become like them. To be a part of the herd. So that Equestria could expand. So that Equestria wouldn't have to face the same decisions that humanity did. So that Equestria didn't have to change.
She pulled away, her mind a confused mishmash of emotions. She wanted to say they were more careful with how they did things, but had they not had the Princesses . . . She wanted to tell him about how beautiful the countryside of Equestria was at night. But here, there was beauty as well and wilder than that of her home. She wanted to yell, to scream that what they were doing was right. It was, but not for the reasons they did it for.
“There has to be another reason.” She sounded desperate, even to her ears. “I'm sure Twilight Sparkle was just not thinking when she wrote it.” Kevin huffed, drawing a glare from Trixiebelle. He looked away.
“Before you ponies came, there was a great problem in this country. No. No, in this world. Hatred, fear, jealousy. But most of all, it was the silent judging. All creatures do it, it's part of our make up.” He waved, almost absently, out into the night. “Part of our natural sight, how we look at the world and determine if it is what we wish it to be. But here, in this country, one of the worse was what we called 'racism.'”
Trixiebelle nodded. “Hatred of another human based on skin color.” Kevin nodded in turn.
“Yes. Pretty silly to you ponies, everyone being a separate color in and of themselves almost. But yes. And here, in the land of the 'free and equal,' there used to be so much of it. Only in the last, what, forty fifty years had it gotten under control? Even then, it wasn't stamped out. Not until you ponies came and gave those who wished to hate a new, more obvious target.” He sighed, rubbing his nearly bald head. “For that, I am sorry.”
“They will learn. Or they will not. One can't force someone else to change. Even for the better.”
Kevin smiled. “'Our plan is to ponify you, the sooner the better. Expect this to happen when you least expect it. You'll get used to our culture, our food, and our lack of thumbs. Trust me, it's easier than it looks.'” He looked away from Trixiebelle's surprised face and towards the Boston skyline one last time before turning back to his companion's shocked face. “Can you?” Without looking behind him, he started to walk back toward the Conversion Center. “See you tomorrow, Trixiebelle.”
Kevin woke with a stretch, the bed a tad smaller than any he'd ever slept in but large enough for his understated frame. A new day had dawned and it was finally his turn. He smiled, his eyes glinting in the harsh glare of the flickering overhead. As much as they complained about human methods, they loved to the technology when it suited them. Or maybe, maybe they use it because they think it makes humans feel safer, more at-home?
It didn't matter. For some reason, he had been saved for last. The last in his little pod of people for turning. The last human . . . no, no just the last man in this sleeping block. After the first night with Trixiebelle, he had hardly said a word. Nothing more needed to be said. Some of the humans, even some ponies, had tried to engage him in conversation but he purposefully kept them distant, except for the times when someone was turned themselves. He was sure to offer some form of congratulations then. Trixiebelle herself had avoided him. While Kevin was sure he could corner her in her office or even in the cafeteria, he didn't need to. She was surely struggling with those questions he had implanted into her mind. He wondered what she had come up with.
A gurgling sound rose him from his reverie. His body had needs and, he smirked, this might be the last meal he ever gets as a human. Not the end of the world, in and of itself, but something to mark as a special occasion in his own personal time line. Kicking the light blanket off, he rolled easily to his feet, the cold linoleum floor a not unpleasant shock. Kevin wondered if he would be able to feel through hooves but only for a moment. Time was a'wastin', as his not-so-dearly departed grandmama used to say. A quick search through the slight mess his temporary home had become rustled up a clean pair of boxers and a light tank top. He smiled, he found himself doing that a lot since he had finally made up his mind. He at least wouldn't have to get used to sleeping naked.
One quick shower and a tooth scrubbing in the utilitarian bathing facilities later and he was off to the cafeteria, still boxer-clad. That would get some looks, he thought with some level of mirth. At least, from the humans and newfoals still around. The cold floor was somehow refreshing.
“Hi and . . . well now. A bit rare to see you humans in your, er, undersaddles?” The pony behind the counter tilted his head quizzically. He reminded Kevin of a cat momentarily. It was all he could do to keep from laughing. “Well now, I don't think there's cause for making fun at my expense about that.”
Kevin stifled his chuckles and ordered his morning meal, ignoring the looks and glances he was getting from the other patrons of the Conversion Center's cafeteria. A few of the older newfoals, those who had been in basic a while, smiled at his disregard for human convention. Better to get rid of the apprehension now. He waved to a few of the ones from his pod, startling them. Always he had been so quiet, so distant. So unponylike. It brought smiles to the faces of many to see such a change, and even before the conversion.
He sat, like he had for nearly a week now, and cracked open the only book he had taken to the Center. A book about human thought, about what humans thought about thought and how thought worked. A human thing, his last human thing save his clothes. He wondered what the stallion behind the counter thought of him ordering a meat lover's pizza so early in the morning but shrugged it off. It wouldn't matter soon. Besides, he grimly noted, he wasn't yet a third of the way through his book yet. Never had really gotten through the whole thing before but it still was a tad irksome.
“Mr. James.” Kevin glanced up at his name, surprised at the sight before him.
“Miss, er, Trixiebelle. How unexpected. I hope you don't mind my fare, it's a bit, how shall I put this, carnivorous today. Last meal and all. How morbid.” She shook her head, slightly grave.
“Many do similar stunts. A last act of humanity, if you will. You wouldn't believe how many ponies come out of those chambers already with foal from a different 'last act.'” Kevin blinked, not sure how he was to take that. Trixiebelle smiled coyly. “Or how many want to enjoy a pony act before it is time.”
“Ah, yes, well, ah.” He realized that some people had a hard time telling if a black man was blushing but he was fairly certain the mare across the table could see. She giggled slightly. He didn't know if he had been pranked or if she was serious. After a bare seconds thought, he realized he didn't want to know all that much. “Anyway, Trixiebelle. What can I do for you this fine, soon-to-be-last day of this condemned man?”
As he spoke, her smile disappeared. “I'd like to talk with you, Mr. James. Privately. Would you care for a walk in the garden? It's spring and so your lack of clothing won't hurt. And I doubt anyone really would care at this stage anyway.”
With a snap, he shut up his book and took one final, almost triumphant bite of his pizza, chewing and swallowing it with gusto. “Least of all, me.” He stood and took a step towards the exit before looking at the book in his hands. He placed it table, removing the folded corners with care. “I've never finished this thing anyway.”
The oaks were different in this light, he realized. He had barely left his room in the week he had been there. True, he had come out and congratulated everyone – no, everypony who had come out of the conversion chambers, but he had always been distant. Aloof. They always told him to lighten up, to smile. He was doing that in spades now.
“Oaks in spring. Grass in spring. The sky . . . in spring.” He closed his eyes and leaned into the light breeze as it blew across him. Everypony that had exited the chambers had some form of flowing mane. He had never let his hair grow much longer than an inch or two and so he never had let the wind really blow it back. It wouldn't have mattered much, it was too coarse. Unless he straightened it chemically, which he had never done. Unnatural, silly. For some reason, the thought of having the same hair type as everypony else filled him with profound joy . . . and profound sadness.
“You humans do look a bit silly without your clothes on.” Trixiebelle had stopped and turned to look at him from a few feet away. She was taking him on the same path he had led her that one night about a week prior. He knew this, he recognized it. It felt right.
“Well, I do have my underclothes on. I can take those off but the few police left might not like that very much, especially if we're going to go to the overlook.” He grinned at her. “Or are you curious as to the 'other side' as it were?”
If a pony could blush . . . oh, wait, she was blushing. “No, no! No, goddess no.” Kevin burst into true laughter, walking to catch up. He thought of flinging off the last of the human things he had then and there. He was sure, other than his crude sexual innuendo, Trixiebelle wouldn't care. But there was time enough for that later. He still couldn't look at a pony butt, flank as they said called it, and get aroused. Like looking at a horse and feeling the same. Still, he supposed that would change. Either that day or in due time.
Soon, they had reached the summit of the small hill that had such a view of the whole of Boston. It looked better in the daylight, he thought. It didn't look . . . sick. It didn't look like it was dying. Idly, Kevin gave it an exaggerated salute. Trixiebelle looked up at him, concern clearly on his features, the day's previous jokes set aside.
“For a week, you say little to anyone and we kept pushing you back, thinking you would leave. You would get cold hoo-, er, feet. For a week, we get nothing but reports of how cold, distant you've been. But here we are.”
“Here we are.” For all the sorrow he knew was there, he felt at peace. Like a man with a terminal illness finally accepting death. Just like that, in fact. Wasn't this the death of Kevin the man, a college trained black man from Harlem who grew up at the tail end of the Crack Wars? Who wanted nothing more than to break the cycle of despair and poverty he saw around him, from every person and every race the whole world over? The death of one Kevin and his rebirth as . . . somepony. The name would come, in due time. And with his death, the whole of humanity would get one step closer to true Paradise. To Eden, to utopia. To that mythical land of everything. He could try to draw parallels with the rebirth/salvation myths of ages past but, nah. He felt flippant.
“And then the talk of a 'condemned man,' as if this was one of your people's crude death sentences.” He cocked an eye at that. “Hush, they were crude.” That earned her a shrug and a nod. She turned, very serious to him. “We do not force anyone. At any time you could leave, Kevin. You could walk out those doors, back to your people and your ways. You could . . I don't know, revitalize this whole world. Kevin, I'm serious! You and a few like you could make a real human paradise with our help. Kevin, why are you laughing?!”
Laughing was an understatement. Kevin, the studious and serious young man that made all the ponies ache to be his friend, was rolling in the grass and cackling so hard it hurt. As astonished as she was, her talk not going as she had planned, Trixiebelle could not help but giggle as the taller-than-her human rolled across the hillock locked in a frenzy of mirth like a small schoolfilly. After a few moments of false starts and giggle fits, he stopped and sat on his heels, looking up at her with those well-like brown eyes of his.
“You have no idea, but I was thinking something similar.” She blinked. “Oh yes. A day ago, as it was getting close. Call it preconditioning butterflies,” her quizzical look earned a wave from him, “it's a saying. And then just now, though I wasn't really being all that serious. If I had just a hundred people who thought like me, well, we could at least keep some sliver of mankind alive. And with pony help, we might be able to stop the cycle of hate and death we've been locked in for millenia.” He sighed.
“But Trixiebelle, if there were enough humans to do that, we wouldn't be in this situation to begin with. No,” he held up his hand as she opened her mouth, “I don't think we would have purely avoided it. There would be problems, probably similar to what we're facing now. But there wouldn't be such a rush for a new life. We would, I don't know, fix the one we have instead of trying to drop everything for a new one, dropping this broken world for the quick fix.” He looked up at her, for once.
“No one can judge us except future us. And now there won't be future us. You know it, I know it, every human out there knows it by now. Either they're getting ready for their end . . . no, they're all getting ready for their end. Either as men,” he waved towards the remains of Boston, “or as ponies.” A flick of his head towards the Conversion Center. “We are a dead species.” He looked away, his eyes suddenly sad.
“Why you?” He looked back to her, his, well his friend. Hopefully long term friend once it was all said and done but his friend now. And he was glad he could call her that.
“Because this is my dream. My life was, well,” he barked a laughed, a hoarse laugh, “it was rough. All I ever wanted was a chance to make a difference. To help people. To help, I don't know. Help heal the world of some of it's ills. I went to college, got a psychology degree. I opened a business helping people learn how to cope. How to change. Change themselves, their world. Change it for the better. And then you pon-,” he stopped. He looked at Trixiebelle, like he was seeing through her. “And then you people showed up. And you had the perfect little concoction to make everything better. With one teeny little side effect.”
He plucked at her fur, not sharply but enough so she knew the 'side effect' he was talking about. “I don't blame them for rushing to it. It's a joy. I saw my whole life's work done before my eyes. The whole world, save a few hold outs too stubborn to change. Let's face it, I couldn't do a better job of trying to convince them than you guys did.” He snorted. “What was left for me? My family was either dead or ponified. Most of my clients were gone, and for the better I'd wager. My world was dying but in it's death, it was birthing such a new world.”
“Why you? Why change?” She sat down, bringing their faces nearly level. She had convinced many to make the change and had suggested others think on it themselves. But this was somehow different. This was deeper? More insightful? Something was different. Maybe not unique, probably not unique. But different. And they both knew it.
“I . . . I don't really know. I'm no savior. No delusions of grandeur here. I'm not clinging to this world, I've mourned it for so long I was glad it was ponification that did it in. Least it'd be peaceful that way and not the choking gasping death of pollution or the horrid screaming death of war. I have nothing holding me back but nothing really pushing me forward. I suppose that is it.” He sat back, off his heels. His knees were not weak but trying to hold that position was not at all comfortable. “Being in limbo sucks.”
Trixiebelle couldn't help but laugh. Kevin blinked and began to follow suit. The two people that sat on the hillock laughed for a good long while, man and pony.
“Kevin James. It's go time, my human friend. If you're as quiet a pony as you are a human, we might just have the perfect match for a certain animal-obsessed Pegasus from Ponyville! Kevin James, come on down.” The stallion's voice crackled over the loudspeaker, drawing Kevin out of his doze with a start. The hallway was silent. There were no more humans to wish him well. At least, not in his pod. But he didn't need that.
Kevin looked around his room absentmindedly. Was there . . . no. No there was nothing. He had packed up what little remained of his belongings but left the suitcase there. No sense leaving a mess. He hoped the next person to come through here was happy. Happy with the choice. Happy.
He walked through the building, not quickly but not hesitantly. Two legs. Last time on two legs. He wanted to savor this feeling. He gave a slight dance as he walked through one of the many doors between him and his destination. How many millions of years of man-ape death until that one stood up to look around before heading into the grass? One of the few things that allowed his species to gain such prominence over the world. And he was giving it away. No more death, though. No more need.
Kevin looked around him. He had ended up in the reception area, boxers and all. The receptionist, a pony named Bladrick, looked up from his magazine. How he was holding it in his hooves still wasn't adequately explained. At least, not yet.
“Heya Kevin. Through that door,” he motioned with one hoof to the only door Kevin himself had not yet explored, marked AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY, “and down the hall. They're waiting for you, Kevin. In the test chamber.” Kevin glanced at the stallion and raised an eyebrow. Then, the corner of his mouth followed.
“Half-Life?” The stallion nodded.
“Loved it then, love it now. Can't play it very well with these though.” He held up his hooves.
“Would you still go through with it?” The newfoal, well perhaps not that new, nodded and went back to his reading. Smart idea, putting the recently converted on the front desks. He idly wondered who this Rarity was that came up with so many of these wonderfully . . . personable ideas. But that would wait. He paused to steel himself, stopped, wondered what he was steeling himself for and, with an unconcerned shrug, passed through the door. A hallway. And another door. The only other door, in fact.
“Really?” The yellow unicorn mare looked up from her floating clipboard to see the mostly naked human standing in front of her. He was one of the darker ones, the 'black' humans, she noted. She wondered what he was talking about and said as much.
“The door, a hallway, then a single other door.” She blinked. “Why? What's the point?”
“We took the concept from your medical establishments, I think. Something about making it seem more, oh, cozy or something.” He began to laugh the mare in front of him blinked again, wondering if she made some sort of pun in human speak.
“You poor little ponies. You have so much to learn about humans and so little time. Or need, now, I suppose.” He shrugged, a nervous tick among some of his kind she was led to believe, and smiled a big open smile. “So what now?”
“Remove your clothing, er, the last bit of your clothing anyway, and up on that chair please.” She smiled warmly. So many had come shaking in fear, crying or even angry. A few had come smiling but most were strained smiles. This was the real deal. As he stripped the last few pieces of clothing away, discarding them in the hampers like so many others, and hopped into the chair, she began her routine. It was the same, no matter what Center you went to.
“My name is Angel Heart and I'll be your converter today. We know you humans have many questions about the procedure so we've condensed a few of the more common ones.” She flipped a page on her clipboard with her magic, eliciting not even a squeak from her temporary patient. She wished they all were this calm, especially around magic, though she noticed him jiggling his leg as he sat.
“You drink a sedative that knocks you out and turns you into a pony. No, I don't know how exactly, though I know it's magic and I do know it's painful if you're awake so that's why we knock you out.” She smiled at him and he just smiled back. Excellent. She placed a check mark by one of the boxes on her paper.
“The newfoals, er, new patients wake up as ponies, after a short nap of course, and begin their life anew in Equestria. Some appear with their Cutie Marks, some don't but that's not really all that important at first. Just getting the hang of walking is all most ponies can think about the first few hours. After that, well, it depends on the type of pony you come as. Do you have any questions?”
He smiled, grinned more like it, and that was not as pleasant as his smile. Canines. Angel Heart shuddered to think of what damage those could do.
“Could we skip all this and get right into it?” The unicorn blinked and looked right at the strangely energetic human before her. No one has ever asked her that. She considered his question for a moment.
“Yes, yes we can. Drink this.” She levitated a cup over to him. And sat back.
Kevin looked at the cup hovering in front of him a second before taking it. He sniffed it, making the mare smile. Many had done that before too.
“It's just water, dear. It's the vector for the magic. We add a little flavor, different every day. Except grass or hay.” She frowned. “Humans don't eat those and we had some trouble with that concept.” The human, a Mr. Kevin James she noted after a glance at her clipboard, grinned again.
“Homework, my fine filly. You should have done your homework.” He raised his cup at her, a sign of camaraderie she was told, and down it in a single gulp. It tasted like . . . apples.
The world floated before him. A field of grass, as far as the eye could see. As he drifted toward it, he could feel the ponies, hundreds. No, thousands. Millions. An uncountable multitude. Rushing, like ships through the grass. Like dolphins in the surf. He could feel their intent, though no voice gave it form. Run, it said. Go. Rush. He followed, but something held him back. He could feel the ponies form, but it wasn't their form. Their, well, souls. Their spirits? Mental bio-electrical signatures? Whatever they were, there was something different about them. These ponies were clean, he supposed. Pure. Unfettered. Unfettered, that fit. But something clung to him. He followed but it dragged at him. He didn't gallop but he ran. He ran with them. A single man, unnoticed in the herd. Approaching a cliff, the herd jumped into the air and, as part of it, he followed.
For a moment, he felt wings. He felt them as clearly as an angel would have. But they did not last. He did not plummet. He did not fly. He . . . dove. Swam. Swam through the air as fast as his arms could take him. It was hard, the thing that he could not see still dragged at him. But the herd, he still followed the herd, now a multitude with wings. And they accepted him, a strangely shaped pony in a place without shapes. Soon, the herd crashed, no, parted, no. It flowed into a mountain. It wasn't a mountain. It was but it was also a castle. A place of ancient power and learning. A place where so many had come before. A herd, all with horns of great power and learning. Ponies. Unicorns. And one man.
Before him sat two ponies, Alicorns, mares in name and shape but so much more in truth. One shone with the light of the nuclear furnace above, the other with the cool light of reflection, studded with fires of her own. They smiled, calmly but cautiously. He was filled with warmth from that. Filled with . . . wait. They wanted something. The thing he had. It clung to him, it was heavy. Let them take the burden. It hurts you. And Kevin, for the first time, realized that it did. It dug at him like nothing had ever dug before.
He cried out. It hurt to hold. It hurt to carry. It hurt. The herd cried out as well, echoing his anguish. It was hot, it was cold, it hurt. It . . . no.
With a gasp and a tortured scream, Kevin, still in human form, awoke from the agony with a terrified Unicorn and a very concerned Earth pony looking down at him. As he gasped for breath after that painful ordeal, the Earth pony frowned. He knew her name and her other shape from the herd. He knew . . . nothing, then, as he passed out again.
“That has never happened before,” Trixiebelle said, with a deep look of concern.
Kevin toyed with his mug, filled though it was with cold tea. Something to calm the nerves, they had said. He had been startled to wake up in a makeshift bed in the conversion room, even more startled to find himself unchanged from the human he was before. Trixiebelle had mentioned something about 'reporting' this to someone or other, the potion 'rejecting' him. He had not found the strength to correct that assumption. He had of course heard of the 'dream' the concoction gave new converts. He was expecting it to go exactly as others had said theirs did but something was different in his.
Absently, he toyed with the dial on the highly advanced yet all too useless piece of equipment. The radio, borrowed from one of the newly converted, hissed. Static, static, that piercing whine of high-speed data transfer. He smiled. At least the AIs were keeping busy. Plotting humanity's take over. Actually, giving the world to the AIs might not be such a bad idea. Can't do worse than his own species had, he'd wager.
He thought back over his last week, what he had supposed was his last week as a human. How he had struggled with whether he was going to go through with it. How he had wondered about the reasons behind the whole affair. In the end, he had surrendered to the reality of the situation. Humanity was, for the most part, extinct. Not in full but now there were so few of them left, their way of life for the last thousand years, with all it's change and difference, was dead. They were dead. He had finally put aside his concern over the why of the process. Something good done for the wrong reasons was better than something wrong done for the right ones. Despite that, this new, well, problem was a more difficult one. One that went deeper than reason.
A knock called his attention to the here and now.
“Come in, oh wait.” He stood and knocked the privacy block from the door, spinning it aside and switching off the radio's whine. He sat back down to allow whoever was on the other side room enough to enter. “Ok, come on in.” A white muzzle appeared, a slight smile on the lips.
“Are you decent?” A female, much taller than the other ponies he had seen. Her voice, it was angelic but tinged with a hint of humor. He glanced down at his nudity, curious.
“Does human nudity offend ponies now?” The large white head of a stately mare popped through the crack, soon followed by the rest of her rather large, for a pony, body. Her pink eyes had a hint of mirth in them.
“No, but unchanged humans seem to have issues with it themselves. I don't like to make anyone nervous.” Behind her Kevin could see a few Pegasus guards in bright golden armor take up station at his door. They didn't pay him any heed. “So, Kevin, how are you feeling?”
He looked up at the strangely tall and, well, regal mare. “You have me at a disadvantage, ma'am. You know me but I'm afraid I don't know you.” She looked down at him, the horn in her head glimmering in even this artificial light.
“Yes you do, Kevin. We've met before, not too long ago now. Me and my sister.” She nodded behind her, a smaller form having entered his room quietly. She was as dark as her sister was bright, as silent and, well, sullen as the brighter mare was was cheerful. That was when he noticed the wings, kept close to their bodies to prevent any unneeded banging about in the close room. Winged Unicorns? There was only one pair of those.
“My apologies, princesses. You are correct, I do know of you. But what is this . . .” Kevin sighed as the realization sunk in. “So the dream was real.” The pair of Allicorns nodded. “This . . . complicates things.”
Luna, the darker of the Princesses, sighed herself. “We've never had anyone reject the gift before.” Kevin held up his hand before she could continue.
“I didn't reject the gift, per se. I rejected you taking, eh, IT away.” Luna looked up at her sister, a mask of confusion marring her beautiful form. “Surely you know what I speak of?”
“She does not, Kevin. I do, however.” Celestia looked down at her younger sister, her eyes shining with love and trepidation. With worry. “I wouldn't, couldn't let my sister help with that part. It would hurt too much.” Luna, confused, looked between her sister and the dark human sitting on the bed. She seemed lost.
“Celestia, what are you talking about? I thought you trusted me.” The words contained more hurt than anything Kevin had ever heard before. More confusion, more pain. More betrayal. Celestia's gasp made it clear that it was nearly the case with her as well, or nearly so.
“Oh no, Luna! No no no, I DO trust you! I wanted to protect you, to protect you from the hurt.” She glanced at Kevin before turning back to her now teary eyed sister. “I-I'm sorry Luna. I should have explained it to you. I shouldn't have kept it a secret.” She knelt, her head bowed. “I just couldn't see you hurt. Please, I couldn't lose you again.”
Luna, her face now wet with tears shook her head. “Sister, what is this thing that you must protect me from, then? What is this thing that hurts so much?”
“Hate.” Kevin's voice seemed too deep in the room, too drastic a difference from the two sister's lilting and angelic voices. Luna turned to look at him, Celestia turned away. “And fear. And anger. And not just any hate or fear or anger, pure unrelenting and burning. A hatred that burns so hot, it is cold. A hatred with no thought or reason. A fear based on stupidity and ignorance. An anger born of these two. Most who turn, I take it, never feel it dragging them. They are hopeful for a new life, for something better.” He looked away. “I didn't have that cushion.”
Luna looked at her sister, her eyes now sad but no longer hurt. “Sister.” She reached her hand - no, hoof – out and rose Celestia's face to hers. “I've felt those before, sister.” Her sister nodded.
Celestia's voice was probably meant not to be heard by him but in such a small room it carried well. “I couldn't lose you again, Luna. Not again. Not so soon.” She looked at her sister, Luna's eyes dark and sad but understanding.
“I'm not going to let it control me anymore, sister. I-I couldn't lose you either. Not again. Not for that long.” She too knelt, her long neck wrapping tenderly around Celestia's. They lay that way for a good amount of time. Kevin, despite his burning curiosity, did not feel it was right to interrupt.
After a time, they collected themselves and stood. Kevin smiled, smirked really, and tilted his head at the pair. “So, Princesses. Now comes the great thousand dollar question. Er, thousand bit question.” The two Alicorns looked at the nude man sitting a bare foot away from them. “Why?”
They knew what he was asking. Luna, having only just found out about this Hurt her sister took from the humans, could not answer. Celestia simply did not know how.
“Ponies are not like humans and for more than the reasons that are obvious.” Celestia, Kevin and Luna, with royal guard in tow, had relocated to the park. Kevin, due to human-based decency laws, had borrowed a white bathrobe from one of the newly arrived converts. The two Princesses went as was natural for them.
They had retreated to the overlook, where he had first posed the question to Trixiebelle a week ago. Soon it would have a reputation of being the place to ask the questions that all sentients struggle with. The trip had been as quiet as all the others though there were now triple the numbers involved. It was so odd seeing the ponies, who otherwise would walk about without a care in the world, suddenly duck and dodge out of the royal procession's way. Kevin had found it almost vulgar but, he supposed, it was similar to a presidential procession. It was exactly the same.
He found Celestia staring at him, a slight grin on her face. She must have been waiting for some sort of response. He shrugged, smirking. She cocked an eye at him but continued.
“All species have a sort of, well, empathetic net. Magic heightens that, that's one of the reasons ponykind are so peaceful to each other. We feel more fully each others pain. It's not the psionics your fiction writers hoped for but it serves us well enough.” Celestia's ear twitched, a fly buzzing away angrily from his perch on it. Luna, seated a few feet away under one of the oaks, smiled at her sister's slight, er, ponyity? Though there was a slight sadness in her mirth, etched with lines of even older sadness enhancing it. Kevin supposed the hurt from their earlier conversation was still too young for proper conciliation, along with whatever betrayal had happened between the mares.
Celestia shock her head, another fly buzzing angrily around her. “Equestria has fewer flies, I swear.” She stood from where she sat, taking a moment from her explanation to attempt a new position. Her frown indicated she knew it was fruitless. “Anyway, the empathetic network works in the here-and-now but it extends. All old hurts, all old pains. They can transmit still. I would not have new converts acting like walking balls of pain to tear at the souls of my people, Kevin. Let us take the old pain away.”
Kevin smiled sadly. “70 million people.”
Luna perked up. “We've converted far more than that by now.” She looked between the sadly smiling human and her sister, with her lowered head, again confused. She sighed. “That's not what you meant.”
“World War Two. Around 70 million people died in that war. Six years.” Kevin looked up, first at the shocked, no, appalled Luna and then her sad sister. “True, the history of it will not be lost. But the impact, that will be. Can you imagine? The fact Auschwitz existed will be there. But I remember the first time I entered there. Where over one million humans, innocent civilians and children, were snuffed out of existence? One million. What does that number even mean?”
“How in the name of all that is good could you want to hold on to anything like that?” Luna, her voice barely a whisper, her face a mask of incredulity, could barely speak.
“It's not just that, Princess.” Kevin turned his sad, dark eyes to the darker sister, her relaxed stance now a shivering near-cower. He had no pride in what he said, but neither did he seem to despise it. It was fact. Nothing more. His voice, his whole body, relayed that truth. He sounded cold. “I've traced what little of my ancestry I could. My several times removed great grandmother was brought to this continent as a slave, one of several hundred on board a Dutch slave ship.
“She was captured in a raid, I think. One of the thousands of inter-tribal wars that wracked Africa for so long. A black man capturing a black woman and her family to sell to the white men on the coast. She was bought, packed into a ship with so many others she could not even stand and then left to rot for weeks at sea. Dozens died, their bodies either left to the elements or tossed overboard like so much garbage.”
Luna, shrunk from this . . .thing. This man thing, with so much anger. So much . . . so much sorrow in his eyes. But his voice was unnatural. It was still cold. These were facts, his voice said. These are emotions, his eyes replied, my history.
Kevin noticed her movement. A goddess, shrinking from a man. Had it been any other reason, he might have found it humorous. He lowered his head for a moment. “I'm sorry. This is a little, ah, closer to home for me.” He raised his head, again smiling that sad smile. “Not that it was any worse than the Holocaust. Just a bit more personal, you see.”
Luna blinked, her voice taken by his eyes. How they were a moment ago. A movement caught her eye, the unconscious flick of a mare's ear as it dislodged another of the pests from its perch. Celestia, watching the human very closely. Her eyes seemed . . . hard. Luna shivered, wishing she could retreat from both of these suddenly cold beings. The last time she had seen her sister like that was just over a thousand years ago.
Kevin noticed the dark mare's eyes and glanced at Celestia. The angel had a sword. “Please, Princess. I mean neither you nor your sister harm. I doubt I'd be able to anyway, but I truly mean it. Emotions run high when you, ah, identify with a historical wrongdoing.” The bright princess, her eyes still burning like the hardest of diamonds, slowly nodded.
“But regardless. Throughout history, these things have happened. For every Ghandi, a Hitler. For every Teresa, a Pol Pot. For every Jesus, Caligula.” He sighed. “We seem to be doubling up on some of them. Stalin. Nero.”
“All the more reason to take it from you. You scare me, human. All of you.” Luna gasped at such an admission from her sister. Even Nightmare Moon didn't scare her. Upset, yes. Saddened, very much so. But never once could she make her sister frightened. “We must break this cycle of hatred and violence.” The human, Kevin, simply nodded.
“There is another side to that, though. A side I don't think you've thought of, Princess.”
“That would be . . . ?” Celestia's voice was even, calm. Curious, but distant. Controlled. Luna felt like an observer stuck between two . . . somethings, she didn't know what. But Kevin was only a man. A human.
“What about the victims? 1 million deaths is a number. A wall of photos is just that. But what about the true history? The pain, yes the pain, it tells it's own story. A story of a young black woman on a bus ride to protest for equality for her people, being hauled off and beaten because of hate. The story of a little Jewish girl hiding in an attic for years, only to be killed just months before she could be rescued. The facts of these stories will exist but they will be distant. Un . . . unfelt.”
Celestia blinked, taken aback by that thought.
“They deserve a voice, Princess. A voice beyond the cold cement walls of a decaying building in the middle of the Polish plains, or a few scattered monuments to decades of struggle. Or a tower of skulls in the Cambodian jungle. They deserve to be remembered, they deserve to have their pain remembered, their sacrifice remembered.”
“What will you do now?” Trixiebelle couldn't hide the concern in her voice. Not only was her Center the first to have a rejected human but it was one she had befriended. One she had hoped would follow her to Equestria as a friend, one that might even, one day . . . she squashed that thought. The writhing form of the human on the conversion chamber's floor had seen to the death of that idle day dream. She had met him only twice, she reasoned, not enough time to really get to know anypo -no, anyone. And every time she repeated that thought to herself, her heart would break just a bit more.
Kevin looked at his equine friend, his face strangely content. Her face held concern, true. It would have, he supposed. But it held something more. Hurt. A pain that he had seen before. A pain he had felt before. A pain he discovered he shared. He knelt, taking her face in his hands.
“Oh, my little pony. We humans are adaptable creatures. If one plan fails us, we try others until we get the result we're looking for.” He smiled. “Did you ever come up with an answer to my question?”
Trixiebelle blinked. “What ques-oh. Why?” Kevin nodded. “Because we needed your genome mapped out. The Princesses never thought you humans would ever finish that project so, when you finally did, they were quiet surprised. They had to rush some preparations to get out here as soon as they could.” She smiled, his face stunned. “They hate to see creatures in pain.”
Kevin stood there, a mare's face in his hands, and burst out laughing. Trixiebelle jerked back a bit, startled. “Oh Trixiebelle. Oh, that is the best news I've heard today.” He looked at her with the happiest eyes she had ever seen on his face.
“If you have your answer, why don't we try again?” She knew she was getting her hopes up. She knew there was something deeper than the 'why' he had asked her a week and a half ago, something that had happened between him and the Princesses. Something that sent the royal pair off with a profound sadness and now was sending her friend, her . . . friend with some form of wild, mad contentedness. It was unnatural for a human.
Kevin thought a bare second on his response. He knew what it was and, had you described it to him a bare four years ago, he would have recommended his own institutionalization. But the world had changed much in four years and things that were mad once were sane now. He had only to . . .
Trixiebelle had never really been kissed. She had her 'experimentations,' yes, but this . . . and such a strange feeling, to not be kissing a muzzle. Could he taste the simple hay lunch she had? Humans didn't like hay, she knew she should have gone with the salad . . . what would her mother think? What about her father? Did the security cameras go out . . . was that a Pegasus patrol? Would they call her a 'skinlover?' Above all, why didn't she give a horsefeather?
“I'll write once I've saved humanity from extinction. Don't go anywhere, or have your mail forwarded. I'm holding you to trying it out again. The potion, I mean. I just need to get some things settled. And you know what?”
“I think I like hay.”
Thanks a ton to Midnight and Pride at Ponychan for their help, as well as all the other bronies who helped to proof read and correct this thing. Thanks to Equestria Daily for introducing me to MLP fanfics, and for inspiring me to finish the only fanfic I've ever have. I've tried before but, well, yeah. Fanfics. Thanks to Ponychan itself for providing me a way of dumping this sorry thing on unsuspecting ponyfolk. Thanks to Elvis for . . . er, actually, thanks to you. For reading it. And this overly long ending shpeal. I could wish for more in the execution but that ending, it surprised even me. I wish I had more to offer but I'm spent on this tale. For now anyway.
Authors final thoughts: Yeah, there's the misanthropy we all know and love. I will admit, it seeped into this as well. Again, I'd try to offer some reason or excuse but sometimes, we all just want to watch the whole world die. This was my 'watching it die of cancer.' Well, probably not cancer. More like ... lupus. And I get to be a pony so NYAH. Anyway, things happen. Looking back, would I write the same story now?
Am I glad I wrote this story? Hell yes. It raised some interesting points I felt that should have been addressed in other, more ... coherent stories. In fact, re-reading it I can see the seed of my unease with the whole TCB concept. But in this story, I stuck to the trope firmly. Humanity was bolting for the door and no one was asking questions. I hate that, so I had some guy ask some questions. I've moved away from this sort of thing, though. Slightly. I still do fic-ceptions, a fanfic of a fanfic. But I don't only do fic-ceptions.