After a group of poachers leave an unknown species of ape for dead. Mane Allgood is asked to lend her expertise in helping the wounded creature recover.
When well-respected naturalist Mane Allgood returns to Ponyville, all she wanted to do was leave her work behind, relax and enjoy some quality time with her foals before starting her new job at Twilight's Academy. Her plans are dashed however, when she hears of a new species of ape found brutalized by poachers. Infuriated by the news, Allgood finds a new purpose in helping this creature get back onto her feet, all the while writing a new paper of course.
This new creature, however, might provide Allgood with something even more substantial than just a new animal to write about and care for.
Mane Allgood flicked her ears in annoyance, having finally stirred from her post-travel torpor. The train ride back to Ponyville from Shire Lanka was a long and arduous one and she was just glad to be free of the bumpy rails. Now she faced a far greater challenge, getting off the sofa she was sleeping on and wriggling free of the quilt cocoon she was in. The mare grunted, slowly moving her dully aching limbs to free her from the soft cushions she laid upon and the warm quilt draped over her body and head. Opening her eyes to a quiet, tranquil morning punctuated by beams of the morning sun streaming through the windows and the chirping of songbirds outside.
Rubbing her eyes and leaning back in the seat, the songbirds brought a smile to her face. She had forgotten how peaceful sounding they were compared to the cacophony that parrots would raise near her window. She was done travelling for now, and for a good long while at that. It was time to be a better parent to her Scootaloo. Lost in thought about her daughter, Allgood was oblivious to the soft clack of hooves against hardwood behind her until it was too late. Blunt teeth gently pinched the sensitive flesh of her ear and the mare panicked. Her wings extending to full length and the feathers on her body puffing outwards to broaden her outline. “Shutter! You cunt!” She croaked, leaning forward to pull her ear free from the loose bite of her husband.
Shutter giggled softly, his baritone voice rumbling more from his chest than from his mouth. “Sorry Goodie, ‘s just hanging over the edge there, right tempting it was. Don’t be crook with me now.” The stallion pleaded, plopping his neck down on the headrest next to his feathered wife. Giving his best, saucer-eyed puppy dog look that he could muster.
While most ponies would mistake Snap-Shutter for an earth pony at a passing glance, in reality he was a hybrid. Born to an earth pony father and a karkadann mother. He was larger and stockier than most ponies, with only exceptional individuals like Big Mac proving an equal in physicality. His tail was longer and more bovine in appearance, though it still looked mostly like a standard pony's. The hooves on his back legs were cloven rather than the uniform hooves of his front legs. Small splotches and spots adorned his coat along with some stripes, which were typically hidden behind the canvas fabric of a button-up shirt. His pelt was thin, which would allow a pony to glimpse in on the thick and scaly brown hide beneath his fur. Lastly, he had a very small dewlap only noticeable from the side and two small bumps on his forehead that were generally covered by his mane and hat.
“Whatever, not like I was going back to bed.” She muttered, wrapping her foreleg around Shutter’s neck and hugging him close. “Still love you, even if you are the biggest cunt I know.” The lanky mare smiled deeply and bent down to rub her nuzzle against Snap’s, a nicker of affection escaping her nostrils. “You check on the ankle biters before you came downstairs?”
Shutter nodded his head, rubbing his forehead against his wife’s nose. “Mhhm. All three are sleeping soundly. As are Lofty and Holiday.”
“You didn’t need to tell me about them hon, I can hear their snoring from down here.”
At that comment, Shutter’s nostrils flared in laughter as the stallion pulled free from Allgood’s grasp. “You want anything to eat Goodie?” he asked as he peered into the pantry and refrigerator both. “Looks like Holly went grocery shopping before we got back too. Bless her.”
Allgood slowly rolled off the couch, popping the joints in her legs as she flared her wings out wide, clenching her whole body in an early morning stretch. “Pancakes with blueberries, if we have them. Maybe some chocolate chip ones too, foals love those.” The abnormally tall mare stumbled a bit as she straightened up, lazily trotting deeper into her home to wake the dogs and let them out for a morning run, only to stop just before she left the living room.
“Are the dogs inside or did they get left out?” The pegasus called out.
“Outside. Smokey Beam let them out when he got here this morning. Popped in to say hi before he went out in the bush. Well, more he left a note, he’s got the sniffles so he doesn’t want to come inside and spread it everywhere.” Snap Shutter answered back over the clattering of pots, pans and various other cooking utensils, undercut with breathy swears at the organization of the cabinets.
“Bless him, we’d be up to our withers in briars otherwise.” Allgood exhaled, lazily making her way back towards the kitchen, passing Snap at the counters and shouldering her way into the open pantry. She began to peruse the shelves, brushing aside boxes and bottles in search of the dried, green gold she craved. Only to be met with a pang of horror as she couldn’t find any.
“Snap! Do we not have any tea?” She pleaded, hoping desperately that her Oatstralian hubby would somehow have some. Months spent in Shire Lanka meant she had utterly spoiled herself with breakfast chai. The stuff was more addictive than any drug as far as she was concerned.
“Nope. Sorry, I know you’re devo about it. We do have some coffee though, I’ve already got that brewing.” Was her husband's quick and rehearsed response.
“Ech.” Mane exclaimed in disgust. She didn’t like coffee that much. Much too bitter for her tastes, but she needed that precious caffeine. This morning she’d just have to soldier through it. “Going to give Holly an earful when I see her next.” She mumbled under her breath while backing out of the pantry. Her steps were unenthusiastic as she began to make her way to the front door. She had been looking forward to sipping on some chai while rocking in her favorite chair.
Throwing open the front door, she was treated to a rush of cool air and the heavy scent of nature, she could even catch cut grass. The mare’s lip curled up in pleasure as the scent ran through her. It was relaxing compared to the thick, ever present pugency of the rainforest. Allgood enjoyed it all the way to her favorite chair, where the Pegasi got up and reclined. Letting a sigh of relief escape her muzzle. She would take the entire day nice and easy, just like this. Enjoy her summer before starting her new position at Twilight’s Sch-
Mane’s ears twitched and swiveled towards the sound of crunching gravel and grinding dirt, the mare quickly sitting upright within her chair. Someone was coming up the path, but who? Holly was never this early, and Smokey was far louder than this. Plus it didn’t sound like hoofsteps either. The mare’s wings flared to attention as she got out of her chair to get a better look, only to relax when she saw who it was. Her anxiety was replaced with confusion. Anton, a portly gargoyle working for Dr. Fauna, was walking down the path to her home. Why would one of Dr. Fauna’s assistants come all the way out here unannounced?
“Hey! Anton!” Allgood cried out, waving a wing at the gargoyle in greetings. “What brings you all the way out here?!”
Anton did not grace her with a response immediately, instead getting closer whilst slowing his pace. His tongue hung loose and he was panting heavily, trying to catch his breath. His lack of a shirt allowed one to glimpse at his furred chest and the purple discoloration underneath his tawny fur. Allgood winced upon noticing that little detail.
“Sorry, out of shape. Bruised my chest.” He wheezed, stopping just short of the porch. “Probably should have brought some water with me.”
Allgood took one look at the sweaty, panting assistant standing before her porch and decided she needed to help. “Well, come on in. Get yourself a drink.” She trotted over to the door and grabbed the handle in her frog, pulling it open wide for the chimeric courier.
“Thank you. Dr. Fauna sent me.” Anton clarified, straightening and tidying up his work pants as he strode through the door, giving a small bow and nod to Allgood on his way past. The mare followed him intently, wanting to hear the rest of the story. “Though I’d much rather tell you the story sitting down.”
“Alright, is it bad?” Allgood asked, mentally preparing herself in the event that it was. “We’re also making pancakes if you want any.”
“I know, I smelt them walking up and... uh to answer your question Allgood… It’s bad. Really bad.” He stated, his eyes glancing around nervously and his hackles raising, as if he was uncomfortable with mentioning the news by itself.
“And it was shaping up to be an acceptable morning.” Allgood muttered under her breath as she and Anton rounded the corner to the kitchen, spotting Snap Shutter hovering over a skillet with a spatula in hoof. His coat lightly dusted with flour and small flecks of batter as he babied the fluffy cakes from goop to perfection.
“Hey Anton, how’s my favorite larrikin doing?” The earth pony questioned, not taking his attention off the flapjacks for any length of time. “And what’s this about bad news?”
The opening and closing of a fridge was the immediate response as Anton grasped a water bottle out of the unit and quickly began to guzzle down on its icy contents. “Doing just fine, bruised my chest so I’ve had to walk around. It sucks, being grounded.”
“I bet it does with those skinny legs of yours. What’d you do if you don’t mind me askin’?” Shutter questioned back, flipping the final flapjack off the pan and onto a pile of flapjacks currently hosted on a large serving plate.
“Was an idiot and took off right into a tree-limb, lucky I didn’t hit my head. Didn’t bust anything but by Scorpan’s teeth it hurts.” He looked off into the distance for a moment as if trying to recall something, quickly snapping out of his contemplativeness a moment afterwards. “As for your earlier question. Well, I won’t sugarcoat it.”
“Yesterday at around ten when Dr. Fauna was going to leave and let Dr. Ocatillo take over, we get a dragon-fire letter, addressed from Fluttershy. It said that we need to make our way to her cottage and to bring a stretcher and a trauma kit.” Anton leaned against the counter, taking a long swig from his water-bottle. “So of course we do that and go out to her sanctuary with haste. You know, she doesn’t call us if it’s something she can fix there. Anyways we get there, Fluttershy’s inside her cottage and this deer is outside to meet us. Think his name was Blackthorn or something. Says he saw what looked to be poachers and then found a wounded animal after he scared them off.”
At the mention of poachers the air in the room soured. Allgood found her feathers ruffling in suppressed anger whilst her husband gave a disgusted snort, his brow narrowing.
“So we go inside and Fluttershy is tending to this ape of some sorts. I’m not a primatologist, but this creature looks almost nothing like any other ape anyone’s ever seen. Closest relative is a sasquatch is our current theory. Anyways, Fluttershy’s done an amazing job stabilizing her, the ape, but it’s pretty serious stuff. She’s got cuts and bruises all over, spear-wounds on her legs and a deep one in her belly. But the worst of it is up near her head. Skull’d been shattered around the left side of her head, skin broken too. Could see into her braincase, was not pretty in the slightest. Then I guess figuring they’d killed their quarry, they tried to take her scalp as a trophy, but they screwed up and only got part of it and an ear.”
Allgood was fuming at this point, her feathers and fur fully puffed out as she paced back in forth in the kitchen. It was one thing to poach, another to do it for sport, but something completely else to do it to something as intelligent and empathetic as an ape. Her husband wasn’t faring much better, although held onto a stoic look far better than his wife did. But one could hear him bruxing underneath his shut lips
“She’s awake during all of this, never going to forget that look in her eyes or those sounds. We thanked Fluttershy, got the ape on a stretcher, and got her back to be treated. Flutters came with us and Briarthorn went to the guard. Got back, Dr Fauna and Ocatillo were up the whole night fixing her up. They sent me back home because they needed people who were going to be functional come morning. Last I heard they patched her up good, but they don’t know if she’s ever going to recover right. That head wound got into her brain, Fauna could tell you the specifics.” Anton finished, taking a final swig from his water bottle and shuddering from the memories of the sounds of pure terror and pain that came from that creature. Despite the water he still felt as cotton mouthed when he began.
Allgood looked down at her hooves, wings flared and feathers ruffled like an angry hen. Taking a deep breath before exhaling, letting her plumage settle down. “Thank you for telling me Anton, I’ll be glad, nay, honored to help you and Dr Fauna get this ape back on her hooves. Is she there in her office?” Mane inquired, taking a look over her shoulder to gaze at Snap Shutter heading off upstairs. Likely to swear profusely under his breath before getting the foals up for breakfast.
“Mhhm. Been spending most of the day asleep, eating and helping us here and there. Don’t blame her, surgery is exhausting. Couldn’t imagine having to fix the type of wounds that poor ape got.” Anton commented, fishing another water bottle out of the fridge in quick order.
“She’s a good vet, the Celestia-damned best this side of the Ponpogne as far as I’m aware.” Allgood commented, retrieving a stack of plates from a cabinet. “Help yourself to some hotcakes. I’ll head back with you after breakfast.” Allgood sat back on her haunches and let the gargoyle help himself to a small portion of pancakes. She had left Shire Lanka to get away from this to focus on her family, but it seemed to have followed her here. At the very least she wouldn’t have to fly across a whole continent to see her foals when the day was done.
Allgood stopped along the dirt road leading towards Ponyville, taking a short moment to catch her breath and let Anton catch up. While most Pegasi weren’t the most enduring walkers, Mane was more robust than most pegasi. Years of tracking primates through dense jungle understories had hardened her legs and hooves. This was in stark contrast to the pudgy gargoyle that was struggling to catch up to Allgood’s brisk pace. With the painful chest injury keeping him grounded, he had no hope of matching her on the ground.
”Hey! Wait a minute!” Anton wheezed, panting loudly as he came to a slow and crashing stop next to the pegasus. His face and paws were sopping with moisture from the summer heat and exertion, while his mouth hung open. “I’m sorry for slowing you down, I’m really out of shape.” He rasped through desperate gasps. “Just go on ahead without me, I’ll catch up later.”
Allgood arched a brow. “You sure Anton? I’m fine with sticking by you until we get there.” She was secretly proud, perhaps Anton was finally heeding everyone’s collective advice and trying to improve his weight?
“Yeah! Fauna’s probably going to chat your ears off when you get in the clinic, so if you want time to yourself today I’d probably hurry.” Anton cracked a genuine smile, his breathing easing up as his stamina returned.
“You’re not wrong Anton, you’re not wrong. I’ll go on and hurry up, tell them you’ll be there shortly” Mane lowered herself before explosively jumping upwards, craning her wings out to their full length as she began to fly through the air towards Ponyville. Relishing the wind blowing through her mane.
Allgood came to a running stop outside of the Ponyville Vet, her hooves skidding against the soft dirt as her wings beat the air in order to offset her forward momentum. Having kicked up some stray dust, she ruffled and folded her wings to clear some off her coat before pushing open the door to the practice, scraping her hooves against the welcome mat.
The vet was much like she had remembered it, though they had rearranged the furniture and changed the paintings on the wall. Now the walls sported murals of ponies and animals interacting in different ways. Some were foals playing with dogs, others were vets attending to sick animals. The fish-tank was still there, filled with multiple colorful species of saltwater fish, crustaceans and what looked to be a sea urchin scraping along the bottom. It was nice to see one of her friend’s pet-projects going well.
Said friend was named Pineapple Sorbet. A saffron yellow unicorn mare with a wavy and cream-colored mane, who was currently waving at Allgood from the front desk. She was clad in light-red scrubs, which covered most of her front, with a skirt covering most of her back, though it did leave her heavily scarred flanks exposed, her purple anchor cutie mark heavily chipped by scar tissue. “Hey Allgood! Glad to see you back! Where’s Anton?”
“Hey Sorbet! I’m glad to be back too, Anton’s fine he’s just lagging behind, said he’d be here soon.” Allgood’s smile and cheery demeanor wavered slightly as the acrid fumes of cleaners and sterilizing agents stung at her nose. Allgood hated that smell and the memories it brought to the forefront of her head when looking at Sorbet. “I’ll be back for good too! Got me a job here in Ponyville.”
“Oooh, what job did you snag?” Sorbet questioned, leaning over the desk with her head in hooves. Patiently awaiting an answer from her studious companion.
“I got a position as a professor of Zoology at Twilight’s Academy. I’m starting this fall.” Mane replied, her feathers rousing in pride. Not only was she a good zoologist, she was good enough to have the Princess of Magic, who was also the headmare of one of Equestria’s premier academies. If only her mother could see her now.
“Goodness! You’re moving up in the world. I’d love to sit here and catch up with you, but Fauna would have what’s left of my tail if I kept you here.” Sorbet chuckled, the mare turning her attention away from personal matters.
“Is Fauna in her office?” Mane inquired.
“Nope, she’s in the observation room attached to the isolation ward. Dr. Ocotillo should be there with her as well.” Sorbet responded, scooting off her chair and landing on the floor with a light clop. The mare walked out from behind her desk, revealing the prosthetic hoof beneath her back left ankle. It was carved to fit her frame and dyed to match, but it still was noticeable to an untrained eye.
“Oh uh, I’m afraid I don’t quite know where that is. Would you mind leading me there, or giving me directions?” Allgood’s eyes lingered on Pineapple’s flank and the tapestry of scars that ran across her hide. Her feathers ruffled up, a subconscious gesture of offering comfort.
Pineapple breathed in, and offered Allgood a strained, if genuine smile. “I’ll take you there, and, to answer the question you’re about to ask.” The unicorn motioned to the puffed-out feathers of Mane’s neck. “It hurts like Tartarus, and I still don’t feel right on this peg-leg.” She let out a heavy breath, batting her eyes a bit to disperse some welling tears before they dropped down her muzzle. “I’m getting better though, I was able to gallop for the first time since the… incident. So that’s good, even if it wasn’t that long.”
Allgood sheepishly lowered her ears and feathers. “Indeed it is, you’re a strong mare Sorbet. You’ll get through this.” The Pegasus cooed, reaching a wing down to drape over the smaller unicorn’s back. “I think we should move on from that topic, what say you?”
“Indeed. Ward’s back this way.” Sorbet was quieter and less cheery than she had been before the accident, and Allgood couldn’t blame her for that. Mare nearly lost her life to a shark attack while she was in the middle of a dive. She was still traumatized from the event, and she needed more help than she was getting.
“Did Anton give you the rundown of what we’re dealing with here?” Pineapple probed, looking up at the taller mare as the two of them roamed through the halls of the practice to the Ward.
“Unknown species of ape, survived a poaching attempt. Brain injury, scalping, and loss of an ear?” Allgood fired back.
“Yeah, that doesn’t do it justice though. Those poachers messed her up bad.” Sorbet’s tone turned sharp at the end and her ears flicked in irritation. “It’s not right. Ocotillo says she might never ‘be totally there’ when she’s recovered.” Her ears flicked in annoyance and an angry snort ripped through her nostrils. “Anyways, this is the place.” She replied in a restrained manner, trying to keep her tone from getting too severe. Her bum leg was raised, her weight resting on her three good ones, face flinching slightly.
“It’s just down the hall and to the left. I’m sorry, I’m cramping really bad after P.T yesterday.” Sorbet replied through clenched teeth, trying to supress the urge to yell from the charlie horse she was currently suffering through.
“Thank you for the guidance Pineapple, do you need help gettin-”
“No!” Pineapple fired back a little too harshly, the mare wilting a bit from her outburst. “S-sorry, I’ll head back. I need to soldier through it so I can get better.”
Allgood sucked on her teeth, she didn’t like seeing Sorbet like this. “Well. I’ll leave you to it. Just be careful.” The pegasus responded, turning around to trot down the hallway and towards the isolation ward, turning her head around to respond to an earlier remark. “Ocotillo’s just a big pessimist, primates are pretty resilient. I’ll withhold my judgement ‘til I get a gander at her.”
“I guess your words have some merit, don’t think a pony would have survived that. I’ve got records of her to deal with back at the front office, so I’ll catch you later. Want to have lunch somewhere afterwards?” Pineapple questioned as she limped away, swiveling her ears to hear Mane’s response.
“I’d be glad to do so!” Mane replied, before turning her head back around to continue making her way to the isolation ward. The naturalist began to steel and prep herself for whatever gory, gauzed mess of a poor creature might lay on the other side of the room’s glass.
Allgood had been expecting something familiar, something that looked like the apes she knew of. What was behind the one-way mirror however, was anything but familiar. Mane had been so intrigued and stunned that she almost failed to notice Fauna Cureall sitting in a small chair off to the side. “O-oh! Hey Fauna!”
“Nice to see you again Mane, strange isn’t it?” Cureall snorted, waving her hoof at the glass and the creature beyond it. Her mannerisms were slow and lackadaisical, the heavy bags under her eyes suggesting she had not slept well and was dead tired for it.
“One way to put it. It’s vastly different from anything I’ve seen, the closest relative might be a yeti I think?” Allgood muttered to herself in thought. “I’m just worried that I’ll end up studying a corpse here.” She looked to Cureall with a dejected sigh and a noticeable frown. The creature swaddled in gauze and blankets was not the most comforting or reassuring sight.
Fauna shrugged her shoulders, slowly making her way over to stand beside the pegasus. The stocky mare sighed as she looked out over her patient. “Ocotillo is a naysayer, but I think she’ll be fine. Just this morning she was somewhat cognizant despite all the drugs we have her hooked on. That’s a good sign.”
“I’d say so too. Speaking of Ocotillo, where is the spindly bugger?” Allgood inquired.
“He’s asleep in his office. We got her in right before my shift was about to end so Oco did most of the surgery. I was more his aide during the whole thing. He’s staying here just in case he’s needed on short notice.” The vet’s ears swivelled as the doors to the isolation ward opened and an Abyssinian aide waltzed in. Their ginger pelt was covered in light green scrubs, a facemask and gloves.
“There’s Francis. He’s the only one who can get close to Sable without her freaking out.” Fauna commented, watching the cat as he checked on the ape’s biometrics and made sure everything else was in order. While the ape certainly couldn’t break free of the restraints keeping them from potentially damaging themselves. Stress to any living creature tended to hamper healing.
“Sable? Is that her name?” Mane questioned, leaning in towards the one-way mirror to get a better look at the sleeping ape beyond it. Francis was a more familiar sight, though she knew little about the cat as he was a more recent addition to Ponyville. A study under Ocotillo to eventually become a vet himself.
“Mhhm. We named her after the color of her little ‘raccoon mask’ she has there. Anton came up with the name.” Cureall lectured, sitting down on her haunches.
”Earlier you said Francis was the only one who could get close to her. Her poachers were probably ponies then.” Mane deduced, her gaze hardening as her feathery hackles rose in anger.
“Yep. We had to scrape out a whole bunch of pony fur from her teeth when we took her in. Whoever she fought, she took a pretty big chunk out of them.” Fauna chuckled grimly, her laughter dying out as Allgood’s stern expression remained steadfast.
“Serves them right. Hope it was out of their neck.” The pegasus responded in an unusually harsh tone.
Cureall cringed slightly, her ears flattening against her head. Mane certainly had good reason to hate poachers, she had dealt with some of the worst over by Shire Lanka. “That’s a little harsh don’t you think?”
Allgood snapped her head over and stared down at Fauna. While she was angry, she wasn’t angry at the small, stock mare beside her. “If someone were trying to kill me for sport I’d certainly take a chunk out of their neck in retaliation.” She snapped, flicking her head towards the wounded ape. “Probably the only reason she’s still kicking is that she fought back.”
Her ears folded back and her expression quivered for a few moments. “Look, Fauna I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”
Fauna interrupted her by pressing a hoof against the tip of her nose gently. “I know. You get passionate, I was only your roomie in college. I’m fine, no offense taken.”
Mane smiled and sheepishly looked away, avoiding eye-contact with her fellow mare. “Why don’t we switch topics? Do you have any paper or pencils? I forgot to bring some so I could take notes.”
“I would think it wise. As for paper and pencils, I’ve got some on the table here. Along with some pictures we took when she first got in here.” Cureall trotted over to a table in the corner of the room, where a cheap notebook lay sprawled open next to a collection of pencils and photos detailing Sable both inside and out.
Craning her head to look at Francis swapping out a depleted IV drip, the vet let her words come to a stop before resuming. “Normally I’d just tell Francis to pull the covers down to get a good photo, but she looks comfortable and she’s half bandages at the moment. Wouldn’t be very good for a paper.”
“Well, you’ve certainly collected enough material here to begin drafting a paper.” Mused Allgood, slowly trotting over to the table and taking a seat on the floor beside the vet. Raising her hooves onto the wooden platform, she would rifle through the photographs stacked neatly beside the notebook.
Ignoring the bloody wounds on Sable’s body, Mane got a good idea for what the creature looked like. She was a bipedal ape with dense, but short and thin fur all over her body. The fur was the thickest on her forelimb, above her genitals, under her arms and atop her head. The last being the most notable, the strands being so thick and long that they could put a mane to shame. The rest of her body had the appearance of being bare-skinned for how much the fur did to cover her skin. Said skin was rather unique, as she was uniformly brown. She had splotches and swathes of her skin that were either darker or lighter than her normal skin-tone. It gave her a sort of mottled appearance like that of a painted wolf. The mottling only being absent on her face, save for the mask of her namesake.
Her hindlimbs were feet modified for easier terrestrial locomotion, with an X-ray showing a complicated structure of fused bones and muscles. Without a tail to keep balance it was likely that she gripped the earth to help keep herself upright. The legs themselves were thickly muscled and strong, with quadriceps that could dent a breastplate with a good kick. The pelvis was large and accommodating, which suggested that they gave birth to similarly large infants.
The upper body was standard fare ape, although with a spine modified and bent to support standing upright. Of note was her two large mammaries, further suggesting the idea of large infants. Her arms, while strong and muscled, were disproportionate to her legs, which was an odd choice for an ape. Allgood’s hypothesis for the moment was that it’s an adaptation for better stability and perhaps using tools on the move. She had seen chimpanzees using tools to hunt down monkeys, perhaps this creature was similar?
Turning her attention over towards the more anatomical photos. She pulled up two images. One was a scan of her skull, complete with teeth and the hole in her head on the upper part of her temporal fossa. The other was a thaumaturgical survey of her internal organs, Mane was particularly interested in the anatomy of the gut. Scribbling down little details and thoughts in the notebook with her dominant hoof..
“Hey, Fauna.” Mane called out behind her, snapping a tired Cureall out of a small rest.
The vet lazily blinked, looking a bit confused before trotting over to Allgood. Once there, she set herself down and leaned against the table. Her energy seemed to have disappeared since meeting Mane in this room. Likely she had stayed awake solely to get Allgood’s input.
“Do you have an idea on what she eats? Because I have a pretty good idea.” Mane inquired, reaching a hoof out and straightening a stray lock of mane that had fallen over Fauna’s muzzle.
“Haven’t thought about it much Mane. She’s on an IV and has damage to her masseter from that head-wound. She’s not in a state to eat and won't be for some time.” Cureall yawned, stretching her legs to try and keep herself awake.
“You have a point there, but for future care. Judging by how thick her enamel is and how her teeth are shaped, along with her gut anatomy. I think she’s more of a facultative carnivore like the yeti. Note how the colon is tiny compared to the amount of small intestine, can’t ferment anything with that.” The primatologist explained to the vet, her listener looking up to her with dreary but interested eyes.
“You’re the expert Mane. I’ll trust you on it. Soon as she can start to eat again, it’s what we’ll feed her.” Cureall offered, a tired smile worming its way onto her face.
“When will that be?” Was the immediate followup from Allgood.
“About a week or so, by then the spellwork of Ocotillo should have set correctly and she’ll be fine so long as she doesn’t take a fall or try and do something stupid. I’m just hoping that the head wound didn’t nick anything on the motor cortex.” Fauna bemoaned, her hackles raised as her body shuddered. Deeply loathing the thought of someone being paralyzed, especially a wild animal whose whole life was movement.
“Well, that’s about all I can infer at the moment, I’ll need to study these in further depth and get some sample information as well. Did you take any of those while you were operating?” Stuffing the photographs in between the paper sheaths of the notebook, Mane got up from the floor, closing the notebook and stuffing it into a saddlebag laid across her front shoulder.
“We did, got them in cold storage until they could be tested. Need to find a place or pony to sequence out the genome and all that jazz.” Yawned Fauna, lazily striding over to her friend’s side. “I’ve kinda forced myself awake to speak to you, I’m going to take a nap if you don’t need anything else.”
“I’m perfectly fine, you go and get your rest.” The naturalist responded, dropping a wing over Fauna’s back in a supportive gesture. “I’ll be back here tomorrow, I still want to discuss getting her acclimated to ponies so we can help with rehabilitation.”
“Fluttershy was also wanting to do that, I’d speak with her about it. Regardless, you have got my blessings for it.” Fauna nodded, nuzzling the side of Allgood’s neck before moseying her way out through the double doors, leaving Allgood alone in the observation room.
The pegasus mare took a moment to collect her thoughts and noticed the time on the clock mounted above the doorway. She was going to be late for lunch with Sorbet! With that thought she was already galloping down the hallways, eager to catch up with the yellow unicorn.
After checking in with Sorbet at the front desk and confirming their destination, Allgood took a quick flight back to her home to drop off her notebook and tidy herself up a bit, having not gotten the chance since she had left Shire Lanka. While she was back at the house grooming, she checked back up on her household. Giving her foal’s ears little nips of affection and Snap a quick peck on the cheek before heading off.
That was before Scootaloo had requested that she accompany her mother for lunch. Mane being the softie mother that she was, agreed. Secretly though, Scootaloo just enjoyed getting carried by her mother while she flew. Her Karkadann admixture thanks to her father meant she was a bit heavier and stockier than a pegasus should have been for her age, so she couldn’t quite fly on her own just yet.
After a quick flight Allgood came to a skidding stop on the dirt road next to Cast Skillet’s, a smaller-scale restaurant located just off to the side of the Market-Square. Normally she’d go for Café Hay, but Sorbet picked up a liking for seafood from her time in Shire Lanka and Skillet was one of the few who cooked it. Looking up, she smiled as Scootaloo gilded her way down beside her. It made her proud to see her daughter make so much progress since she had been gone last.
“You’re getting much better!” Mane chimed, nuzzling her daughter’s cheek. Scoots had come a long way from the panicked flapping of her younger years. Her feathers were fully ruffled, including the large ones just before her mane. Her little ‘Cockatiel feathers’ as Snap called them.
“Thanks mom! Rainbow’s been helping me practice, just this week I was able to fly for a bit. She just says I gotta work hard and build up my muscles.” Scootaloo beamed, pressing up against her mother.
“You’ll be soaring alongside her and everypony else soon enough, pumpkin. Just have to keep practicing!” She wasn’t the best at motivational words or speeches, but to her daughter all she needed to be was genuine and she was touched. It made her resent the fact that her job had taken her away so much, yet proud that Scootaloo was growing into such a fine mare even without her guidance.
Scootaloo simply nodded and hung close to her mother. As the two of them walked into the eatery, two mares waved at them from a windowside booth. Sorbet and surprisingly enough, Fluttershy.
“Hey! What brings you here Miss Shy?” Mane asked, her tone slightly nervous as she took a seat at the table opposite her and beside Sorbet. While she did know Fluttershy personally, talking to a national hero always tended to put one a bit on edge. Scootaloo however had no such issues, striding up to Fluttershy with the confidence that only the insane and children possess and getting a hug from the butter-colored mare.
Fluttershy gave a short wave in greetings before embracing Scootaloo in her forelegs. “I stopped by the vet and Sorbet told me you two were going to meet up here. I was mainly just wanting to talk with you about getting Sable over her fear of ponies. “ The Element-Bearer replied, giving Scootaloo a small, gentle noogie on the head and ruffling her mane before turning her loose.
Sorbet gave a small nod of acknowledgment to Mane, the silent greeting was returned moments later. “Fluttershy here patched up Sable when that deer brought them to Fluttershy’s home. What was his name?”
“Blackthorn, that’s his name. He dropped her off and went to inform the guard about poachers being about.” The Element of Kindness clarified, rifling through the stores menu as Scootaloo moved away from her side to sit beside her mother.
“Speaking of which, has there been any progress towards finding them?” Allgood questioned, moving a menu from the table over towards Scootaloo so she could order something that she wanted.
“Can’t say, it’s only been a day afterall. Last I heard they were cooperating with the Thicket Wardens to track them down.” The grey-gold mare explained, turning her head as a waiter approached the table and began to take their orders. “Oh, I’ll have the hayburger thank you.”
“Stir-fry with noodles and shrimp for me.” Sorbet stated.
“I think I’ll just go with the fruit salad for now. Scootaloo, what would you like?” Allgood asked, draping a wing over her foal’s back.
“I think I’ll have a hayburger too.” Scootaloo beamed up to the waiter before turning her attention to Fluttershy. “Who is Sable and why are there poachers involved?” Was her immediate question.
“Well, Sable is an ape that was attacked by poachers. An undiscovered one at that. I, and hopefully your mother, are going to work to make it so she’s not scared of ponies so we can help her recover.”
“Awww, I hope she’s okay. What does she look like?” The filly questioned almost immediately. “Is she like a big sasquatch or something?”
“I’d be honored to help Fluttershy, and you’re somewhat correct Scootaloo. She walks on her hind legs like a Sasquatch but she’s pretty different, barely has any fur for one. I’d show you a picture if it weren’t for the fact that she’s pretty badly injured.” Mane explained to her filly, rubbing her wing against her withers. “Once she’s healed up you can go see her. Maybe in-pony, though we’ll need to see how she behaves first.”
“I hope she’s nice.” Scootaloo stated.
“I do too Scootaloo.” Allgood rhymed, settling into a pleasant conversation with Sorbet and Fluttershy that would be the highlight of her day. The mare eventually retired back to her home to enjoy some quality time with her husband and foals before passing out after starting the paper detailing the strange ape that would quickly become the focus of her first months back in Ponyville.
As the doors to the isolation airlock closed behind her, Allgood’s ears popped from the sudden change in pressure. This was hardly the most uncomfortable part of getting into the ward, as the sterilization spell began its work. The pegasus mare gritted her teeth as her skin and insides grew unbearably warm. Turning her head to the side, she caught Fluttershy in a similar state of discomfort. Thankfully it was not long lasting, after a few seconds the spell faded away and the doors leading to the isolation ward creaked as they opened inwards, allowing Allgood and Fluttershy to walk inside before the doors shut themselves and re-sealed the ward.
It had been nine days since Allgood had first laid eyes upon Sable, and the female ape had made considerable recovery since then. She was free from restraints with her bones being healed and sealed back into position, though it would be unwise to subject them to a lot of stress. Her bandages had come off, displaying her grisly injuries. An entire section of her scalp was missing from the right-hoof side of her head, fresh scar-tissue stretched over her skull. The macabre tapestry was only broken by a small hole in her head, the remnant of what used to be her ear before it went under the carving knife. On the left hoof side of her head, a small section of shaved fur and scar-tissue stood out. The location where something broke her skull and penetrated into the brain, thankfully it was small and hid easily behind the fur she had remaining.
While her physical injuries were of import to everypony helping her, the ape’s mental well-being was also looked at. For the past week and then some, Fluttershy and Allgood had been gradually adjusting Sable to the presence of ponies. While the first few meetings had been tense, eventually she had relaxed enough to even embrace the two pegasi in a hug. The physical contact, and intense grooming that she subjected the two of them too suggested that she was a highly sociable creature. She was saddened when ponies had to leave, and quickly grew bored when there was no one around. So they endeavored to make sure she had someone to interact with throughout most of the day.
Laying on her belly with her chest and head held high, Sable waved at the entering mares from her round ‘nest-bed’. Her face twisted as a hissing whistle echoed from her throat, the strained vocalization being a greeting from what they could deduce.
“H-iii.” Fluttershy sympathized, slowly striding towards the lounging ape in a leisurely fashion. Clambering atop the bed as the ape straightened up into a sitting position, her legs crossed in front of them to form a loop. Taking the cue, the buttercream pegasus crawled into her lap and leaned herself against Sable’s torso. She was instantly rewarded with nails sinking into her fur and scratching the hide underneath vigorously, Fluttershy sinking into comfort as the ape scratched her troubles away. This was in stark contrast to the first time Sable tried this, with Fluttershy being a nervous wreck when the ape held her close.
“You’re spoiling me with this.” Fluttershy purred, melting into a semisolid mass under the barrage of scritches.
While the prospect of being subjected to Sable’s mind-melting grooming was enticing, Allgood had come here to do business first before she got physical. She had brought along several pieces of equipment that would help her test Sable’s mental facilities while providing some stimulation for her, before she inevitably drifted off to sleep again. The equipment took longer to sterilize than ponies did, so while she waited for Francis to hurry through the doors. She took a look around the ward.
Since Sable had been interred, several changes had been made. The first and most obvious change was the various Everfree flora that now decorated the room, strategically placed to help break up the harsh corners of the room and disturb the monotone hospital white palette. The biometric monitors had been shuttled elsewhere, as with the patient being in a stable condition they were no longer needed. Lastly, her hospital bed was pushed into a corner, with a more natural looking bed having been provided by Fluttershy, complete with several plush and comfortable looking blankets.
With nothing else to do, Allgood strode forward beside Sable’s bed. The mare flattened her ears as a hand was moved over to her head and began to scratch at her scalp. Sable let out a stuttering mess of sounds as she did this, her sounds petering out as her face twisted in pain. Earning a soothing coo from Fluttershy as she gently stroked and patted Sable’s thigh with her hoof.
“She’s still barely making noises, I’m starting to think she might have aphasia, or whatever passes for it among apes.” Allgood mumbled, leaning into Sable’s hand.
“It would seem so. Given how social she is, that’s going to handicap her pretty badly, might not be able to return to the wild ever.” Fluttershy sighed, drawing a blanket over her and the ape’s lap with her mouth. “You’ll always have a home with me though… so long as you keep scratching.” The Element-Bearer quipped, raising her muzzle for some scritches down the underside of it.
“I hope I’m wrong, but I guess I’m expecting too much. Miracle you even survived this long.” Allgood freed her head from Sable’s grasp and nuzzled the ape’s side. “You’ll be happy wherever you end up.”
As Mane offered her comfort and support to the sparsely furred ape, the doors to the ward creaked open and Francis came rolling in with several of Allgood’s apparatuses in tow. The assortment of devices and tests caught the attention of Sable, the spotted ape craning her neck to get a better look. She then greeted Francis, letting out the distinctive hiss-whistle followed by a sharp clicking sound. Given that she only made it towards him, it was likely a unique verbal moniker for Abyssinians.
Sable had a similar vocalization she used when referring to ponies, usually followed by a unique prefix for her and Fluttershy. Mane’s current theory was that she had created sounds to identify species, and then a unique sound before it to determine a specific individual. She was naming things and it was making Allgood burn with curiosity. How many words could she handle at once? Could she potentially use sentences? Could she potentially learn ponish? All of these questions ate at her mind, but she would test them in time. The last thing she wanted to do was overwork and hamper the healing of her subject.
Moving away from Sable, Mane trotted over to her testing apparatuses. She had a wide assortment of them, some specialty items and others things one could find from a toy-shop. Some of it was meant to stay with Sable once Allgood had left for the day, so she’d have something stimulating to mess around with while she was gone.
The first item she would test with was a wooden box set atop wheeled stilts. The box was hollow with various wooden cutouts serving as an obstacle course, with peanuts and dark chocolate treats set on one end of the course. Separating the treats from the outside world was a glass pane secured by four hoofscrews at each corner. Near the bottom of the pane were rounded rectangular cuts to allow for a tool of some sorts to be inserted and guide the food to a hole on the opposite side of the course. Dropping onto a tray upon which several thin sticks also sat.
Allgood slowly wheeled it closer to Sable, motioning to the box with her hoof and then to the sticks. She would first do a test to see how she handled tool use without being shown anything first, and if she did not know how to use it, Mane would then show her. What happened next however, was entirely beyond anyone’s expectations.
While keeping a hand upon Fluttershy’s head, Sable leaned over with a look of passive disinterest on her face. Lightly grunting as she grasped the hoofscrews that held the glass pane in place. Unscrewing them with ease and freeing the thin laminated glass pane from the box. Setting it down gently on the floor so as to avoid making a large amount of noise, before grasping the formerly secured treats.
“Oh! Well ah, t-that’s unexpected!” Mane sputtered incredulously, furiously scribbling down the behavior in a notepad procured from her vest. “Excuse me I need a moment.” She muttered shortly thereafter, retreating away from the incredibly intelligent ape to collect her thoughts. She not only aced the test, she had made a complete mockery of it. What else could she do?
The pegasus mare wheeled away the dismantled test after Sable had finished scooping out all the treats from within, pushing it over towards the cluster of testing objects dejectedly. Pursing her lips in thought, Sable sat beside her equipment and debated what to do next. More tool experiments would be required, but for now Allgood just wanted a general idea of what she was working with. So she’d probe with a variety of tests before she had to leave today.
As Francis and Fluttershy both congratulated Sable on her dismantling of the test, Mane brought up what looked to be a slate tablet encased within a padded coating that only left the front uncovered. The slate was set atop four stilts that were set in a wooden tray, forming the bottom, supportive plate of the structure.
Mane clambered atop the bed after her tablet and sat on her haunches across from Sable. With a small gesture of her head, she motioned for Fluttershy to move out of Sable’s lap and help her with the test.
Begrudgingly, Fluttershy crawled her way out of Sable’s lap. She was so relaxed within the ape’s embrace, that her legs wobbled as she got onto all fours. Lazily plodding over to lay beside the tablet, she gave Allgood a nod of confirmation.
With the pegasus now out of way, Sable had clear access to the slate in front of her. Before she could fiddle with it however, Allgood had to demonstrate a few things with the enchanted stone. Three circular depressions sat on the top of the case, by pressing the central, largest one the enchantment on it hummed to life.
Moving to the side of the tablet, the burgundy mare decided to show Sable just how it worked first. Upon the front was a three by three grid carved into the soft stone. By pressing a hoof to the central piece, a chalk-white X appeared, when she tried to press another square after that, nothing happened. However, when Fluttershy did so, a circle appeared. When three Xs were lined in a row, a treat was deposited from the casing and into the tray. When three circles were lined in a row no treat was deposited in the tray.
With the game now displayed, Allgood pushed the tablet closer to Sable and scooted up beside her. Almost immediately she took an interest in the device, ignoring the treat for now. She raised a single calloused finger and gently depressed the central square. A white X appearing on contact. She pulled her finger away to study it for a brief moment, as if she were expecting to see white on her digit. She then looked towards Mane expectantly, knowing she could not go twice in a single turn.
That was the reaction Allgood was wanting! She had been worried that Sable wouldn’t take any interest in the device. It would be easy to flounce Sable with this game, while a smart animal, she couldn’t come close to a pony in terms of strategizing. So she’d have to let her win some in order to keep her interest in the game.
That was the plan, however, what actually happened was radically different than Allgood was expecting. Sable completely wiped the floor with Mane, even when the pegasus was actually trying to win. The academic was at a loss as to how Sable had beaten her so thoroughly, a hoof to her muzzle in quiet contemplation. This test revealed she, at the least, had a rudimentary grasp of the theory of mind when it came to deducing actions.
Mulling over the implications of this, Mane pivoted her ears and then her head to the sound of quiet chewing. Whereupon she saw Sable chewing away at the deposited treats with a smug grin on her face. At least that’s what Allgood thought her face looked like. She let out a soft snort of disappointment and slowly rolled off the bed, before reaching out for the tablet and grasping it to test her reaction. When Sable didn’t reach for the tablet or react to it leaving, Mane pulled it off the bed and began making her way over towards the pile of testing equipment she had brought in.
As Allgood deposited the slate and began the process of selecting another test, Fluttershy stage whispered after the naturalist. “I think Sable’s getting tired.”
“Right, Ocotillo did that somnia spell on her. Keep her energy down, make sure she sleeps well.” Allgood recanted to herself, giving the element-bearer a small nod as she set the tablet down on the pile and motioned for Francis to come and help move most of the equipment out of Sable’s ward. Though they left some things behind for her amusement: balls, puzzles and other assorted toys. Most of it was old things that Allgood’s foals no longer played with.
Striding through the airlock and being subject to another discomforting sterilization spell, Allgood and Francis emerged on the other side. Hastily pushing her carried equipment to the edge of the hallway, Allgood wasted no time in pulling out a notebook and furiously scribbling down all of her thoughts and observations.
“Beaten by an ape at Tic Tac Paw. Ouch.” Francis surmised.
“Can it Francis, this’ll be great on the paper.” The pegasus muttered under her breath in response, turning away from the cat in order to hide the flushing of her cheeks. Her embarrassment at the situation was lessened by her desire to see just how smart Sable was.
When Fluttershy emerged from the airlock after having soothed Sable to sleep, the buttercream pegasus hurried towards Mane with excitement etched on her muzzle. “I wasn’t expecting her to do that!” She quietly gushed.
“I know, right! I wanna know just how many things she can attribute to another entity. If she’s as smart as I’m hypothesizing, she might be approaching pony-level intelligence.” Allgood proposed, her wings flaring in excitement. She had so many tests she could run, but so little time before her subject needed to rest again.
Mane was looking forward to tomorrow when she could test once again.
Mane hummed to herself as she hovered in her new office, idly stocking a bookshelf with various objects from a cradled cardboard box. She had put it off long enough and finally decided to get her office prepared and ready for her first semester at Twilight’s Academy. Aiding her was her eldest filly, Scootaloo. The athletic adolescent’s labor was secured with promises of dinner from a restaurant once the office was prepared.
Placing the last book from the box upon the shelf, Allgood folded it up and tossed it onto the steadily growing pile in the corner. When she descended, Scootaloo already had a small stack of boxes waiting for her on the floor. The filly now idly flipping through a general zoology textbook that she had pulled from her mother’s collection.
“What’re you reading about?” Allgood inquired as she began shelving the fresh box.
“Oh, I’m just reading through the arthropod section. I think they’re cool.” Scootaloo declared, kicking her hooves before setting the book down and to the side. “Nothing I haven’t read before though.”
“Maybe you’d like some new books on them? I’m sure the library has something.” Her mother chirped, throwing yet another finished box onto the corner pile.
“Maybe. How’s… Sable? That’s her name right?” Scootaloo questioned.
“Oh, she’s doing well. Likes the testing, though I think she’s starting to get bored of being cooped up in the isolation ward. Ocotillo wants to make sure nothing’s going to break if she starts getting active again.” Mane sighed, descending for yet another box.
“Aw,” Scootaloo whined in empathy. “Can I go see her?”
Scootaloo’s mother stopped in flight for a moment as she contemplated the action. “I don’t see why not. You mean from the observation room right?”
“I meant, like, get in the room with her.” The filly corrected.
Mane exhaled as she weighed the options. “Well, I guess you can. Just follow my instructions while you’re in there. And fair warning, she can be a bit touchy?”
“Wait, what do you mean touchy?” Scootaloo asked, rising to all fours. “Is she going to pick at my coat like a monkey?”
“Haha, not quite Scoots. She really, really likes to groom, but, she’ll just give you scratches. She treats Fluttershy like she’s some housecat.” Mane fluttered down and leaned in close to whisper to her. “Don’t tell anypony, but she loves it.”
“I guess that is kinda embarrassing. I bet it feels really good though if Fluttershy lets it happen.” The filly countered, standing up to push some more boxes over towards her mother, before pushing a chair into the vacated space.
“I think whatever embarrassment she might feel is outweighed by how good the scratches are. I’ve been groomed by her myself, I can see why she likes it.” Allgood abruptly stopped talking, her ears swiveling as they chased a phantom sound through the office.
“I just think Fluttershy is starved for physical affection, poor mare barely gets any physical contact as it is.” Mane mumbled out loud, pushing backward to inspect her work before dropping to the floor with a light clop.
“Anyways, I can take you along after dinner if you’re still feeling up for it then.” She chimed, trotting next to Scootaloo and ruffling her mane.
“Thanks, mom!” The filly chirped, shying away from her mother’s hoof, straightening her mane once she was out of reach. “Do we have to stay here much longer? There’s not much left in here to put away.”
“Yeah we can go, I can finish the rest on my own.” The mother agreed, moving over to the door of the office and casting her gaze around the mostly furnished space. “You did a great job! Let’s go get some dinner yeah?”
Scootaloo rapidly nodded and bounded over to her mother’s side at the door, her wings fluttering in an attempt to propel her further. As she landed beside Mane, Scootaloo’s stomach growled loudly. A blush spreading across her muzzle from the unintended sound.
Mane chuckled and grazed a wing along her back. “Guess we should go before you get too hungry.” Pulling her wing back, she opened the door and prepared to step out, only to stop once she came face to face with Twilight Sparkle.
Both mares jumped, with the princess letting out a hushed whinny and Allgood flaring a wing out in front of Scootaloo. The two mares eyed each other for a brief moment before Allgood dropped into a curtsy. “Headmistress Twilight! I wasn’t expecting to see you there.” She sheepishly explained as she withdrew her wing from Scootaloo’s muzzle.
“That’s fine Professor Allgood, I was going to knock as you opened the door. It’s my fault.” The princess professed, returning the curtsy and bowing her head more than was needed. “Something’s come up involving Sable and, well, you need to know about it. Do you mind if I come in? I’d prefer this to be said behind closed doors.”
“O-oh! I don’t mind. Uh, do you need Scootaloo out of the room for this? It’s nothing bad, is it?” The professor nervously sputtered, backing up from the door to allow her superior access.
“No, there’s no bad news. You can relax Allgood. As for you Scootaloo. I know and trust you, so I need you to keep quiet, and don’t tell anypony of what’s said in this room, ok?” Twilight implored, walking forward and shutting the door behind her with a soft thud. The princess’ horn was lit up for longer than was needed as her head craned around the room, before centering back on Allgood and her foal. Her horn flared for a few seconds and then was still once more.
“I won’t say a word. I promise.” Scootaloo swore, nodding her head vigorously.
“That goes for you too, Allgood.” Twilight immediately replied, giving a nod of acknowledgment in response to Scootaloo.
“Naturally. Though, what’s requiring such secrecy, Ms. Sparkle?” The professor tentatively questioned.
“Well, to make a long story short, Sable is likely sapient. I haven't seen or been with her yet, but I’ve not known Fluttershy to lie about her either.” Twilight paced back and forth as she recalled her conversation with the other Element-bearer. “According to Fluttershy, she asked for a pen and paper by making hoof, er, hand signs, and then began to draw pictures to communicate.” The princess articulated.
“Oh.” Was all that Allgood could manage to stammer out. She quickly looked down to her filly, who just seemed confused. She let out a terse breath and held her wings to her side in an attempt to hide her excitement. Inwardly she was squealing like a schoolfilly at how much academic recognition she would get for a paper on a new sapient species.
“So she’s not ‘just an animal’ right? That’s what sapient means?” Scootaloo wondered out loud.
“Yep. Sapient means she’s just as smart as you, me, or any other pony for that matter.” The academic princess acknowledged.
“Well, I take it this development means you’ll be involved with Sable from now on?” Mane questioned. “That explains why I lost Tick-Tac-Hoof against her yesterday.” She mumbled under her breath afterward.
“Yes. Since Sable is the only known member of her previously unknown species, she is also the representative of her kind until we manage to make contact with her people or host nation.” Twilight affirmed, slowly moving back over towards the door. “As such, the crown will be involved in her recovery and adjustment to Equestrian society and the prosecution of the individuals or organizations responsible for her grievous injuries.” She continued passionately, her voice turning bitter at the mention of the poachers who nearly took the ape’s life.
“Well, that makes sense I guess. I was going to visit her for some more testing and bring Scoots here along with me. Now I have to go and see her. Do you want to follow us there? I need to pick up my notebook along with a few other things.” Allgood asked, feeling up the pockets of her canvas vest for anything she might have left in the pockets.
“Of course, Professor. Although, I can get us where we need to go much quicker.” The princess remarked, her horn flaring to life with a lavender aura.
The alicorn had teleported all three of them to Allgood’s home, and then to the veterinarian once the professor had gathered the required supplies. The trio then haste towards the isolation ward, Mane quickly stopping to give Sorbet at the desk a quick wave of the hoof before she had to play catch-up.
As Allgood and Scootaloo prepared to walk into the open airlock, Twilight gave them a respectful nod and began to walk in towards the observation room. “I’ll be in here. Don’t want to crowd or make her uncomfortable.” She explained.
“I understand, Fluttershy is in there right?” Mane questioned just before Twilight shut the door behind her.
“Yes, and what’s his name. Ocotillo? He’s in there as well, he’s the other vet that works here.” Twilight answered.
“Thank you for letting me know about this Twilight.” Mane stated, curtsying towards the Princess.
“No problem. There’s more to talk about, but we can do that some other time.” With those words, Twilight walked fully into the room and closed the door behind her. Leaving just the mother and daughter behind.
Turning her attention away from the observation room door, Mane gently nudged Scootaloo towards the opened airlock doors. “Alright Scoots, we just go in here and wait for it to cycle. Just a fair bit of warning though, there’s a sterilization spell placed in it.”
“So it’ll kill all the germs and stuff in it right?” Scootaloo asked for clarification.
“Yes, but it’s an uncomfortable sensation. It’s not horrible, sort of like you got into the shower when it’s too warm.” She nuzzled her filly, protectively draping a wing over her. “Think you can handle it? I’ll be right here.”
Not one to back away from a challenge, Scootaloo puffed out her chest and feathers. “I’ll tough it out!”
“That’s my daughter, just squeeze my leg if you feel the need.” Mane beamed, giving her daughter a few pats on the head with the flat of her wing before stepping into the airlock.
Scootaloo followed her mother inside, her demeanor balking slightly as her mother began to cycle the airlock by pressing a button mounted on the wall. Scootaloo pressed in close against her mother as the doors sealed behind them and the pressure increased in the room.
Allgood popped her ears and grit her teeth as the sterilization spell began. The burning sensation spread across every part of her that air could touch, inside and out. Her daughter, ignorant of the sensation until now let out a surprised bray and hugged her mother’s leg, though she did not react further.
After a few unpleasant seconds that seemed to overstay their welcome. The sensation faded as quickly as it had come upon them. The opposite doors creaked and eventually rolled open. Revealing the isolation ward and everypony currently inside it.
Sable was on top of her bed, clutching a notebook and scribbling away with a pencil. She gave a small wave to Allgood and affixed her attention to Scootaloo. The ape began smiling and audibly ‘awwing’ as Scootaloo stepped away from her mother.
Beside Sable was Fluttershy who was looking over a small pile of drawings that Sable had produced. Hovering over her shoulder was a rose-pink stallion with a candy-red mane and a distinctive curved horn, an image of a scalpel stamped on his flank. His front was covered with a white lab coat overlaying a set of baby-blue scrubs.
“Oh hey, Ocotillo, long time no see.” Allgood greeted as she strolled over to the veterinarian, her filly following behind her. The cautious youngling keeping the mother between her and the strange ape.
“I apologize, but between Sable here and my regular obligations I’ve been unable to do much else.” Ocotillo Bloom lamented, turning his gaze away from the mare.
“I understand perfectly Bloom, keeping our acquaintance here in good health is more important than chatting with me.” Allgood agreed, turning her attention towards the ape in question. “Speaking of which, I had Twilight stop by and tell me that she was even more intelligent than we initially thought.”
“She is, she’s drawn some things that prove she’s at least of pony-level intelligence.” Fluttershy inputted in her usual whispery tone. The lanky pegasus arching her head to look around the side of Allgood, beckoning the filly hiding behind her out. “It’s okay Scootaloo, she won’t hurt you. I think she finds you cute even.”
With Fluttershy’s comforting words, Scootaloo eventually moved away from her mother’s side and made her way to the side of Sable’s bed. “I just thought she’d be smaller. She’s huge!” The filly exclaimed, justifying her initial fear of the ape.
“Well, can I see those drawings Fluttershy?” Allgood questioned, slowly walking up beside her filly and giving her an encouraging nudge with her snout. The filly slowly clambering up to sit beside Fluttershy.
“Certainly.” Fluttershy shuffled through the papers, organizing them in chronological order before handing them to Allgood. The pictures drawn by each of the sapients had their name drawn in the top corner by Ocotillo.
“Thank you.” Allgood concurred, resting on her haunches as she began to sort through the pile of pictures before her. She kept an ear and eye on Scootaloo, who was cautiously approaching Sable. The filly walked past the element bearer and towards the ape’s outstretched hand.
“It’s okay Scootaloo, her hand’s upturned. She just wants to groom you,” Allgood clarified for her filly. Watching with bated breath as Scootaloo inched closer, and finally stood next to Sable’s hand. The ape began rolling the appendage over to gently begin scratching at Scootaloo’s head and mane. A deep, rumbling coo rolling forth from Sable’s throat.
“This… this feels kinda good,” Scootaloo muttered, eyelids fluttering. Her cheeks flushed a deep crimson as Sable migrated down her neck and to the bases of her wings, easing the tired, knotted muscles there. The filly pressing herself into those roaming hands, shaking from the pleasurable sensation.
Allgood beamed, giving an approving nod towards Sable before turning her attention fully to the drawings in front of her. The first drawing on the pile made by sable was that of herself and Fluttershy. Two speech-bubbles extended from their mouths. Fluttershy had organized letters in some language unbeknown to Allgood. Sable’s speech bubble was filled with disorganized scribbles, confirming beyond a doubt that her brain injury had affected her ability to communicate.
Aside from that, she had drawn several other things. Like a series that seemed to depict how she was injured. She was in the Everfree when three pony poachers found her and tried to kill her for whatever their motive was. She fought back with whatever was around, beaning one in the dome with a rock and sinking her teeth into another. The last drawing of that series depicted her being smacked with what looked to be a stick or polearm of some sort, before transitioning to the hospital bed she had been in since that day.
“Oh, you poor thing.” The pegasus mare crooned in displeasure at viewing the scene, she couldn’t imagine just how horrible of an experience that was for Sable. Aside from those notable images, the others detailed other important things: what she needed to eat if she was experiencing pain or discomfort anywhere, or if she felt lonely or stressed. She seemed to be doing fine so far judging by her responses to those questions, but she expressed a desire to leave the building and walk outside. She had also drawn what looked to be several garments that she was desiring.
With the stack of papers finished, Allgood pushed them off to the side and looked up at Sable, who had Scootaloo stretched out upon her lap for ease of access, her deft hands preening Scootaloo’s wing and torso feathers. Scootaloo was completely relaxed and limp in her embrace, nickering as Sable’s hand scratched in places she couldn’t reach.
Seeing that her filly was safe and getting acquainted with Sable swimmingly, she shimmied over to stand beside Ocotillo. “The first picture she drew, it has what looks like written language on it. Have you tried to get an alphabet from her?”
“Yes, we had planned to do that, before your arrival put a hold on it. You can try if you’d like.” Ocotillo proposed, levitating over a notebook with several scraps of paper trapped in the binding along with a pencil. “She’s pretty smart even with her injury, should be able to recount letters and numbers even if she has trouble with words.”
“Let's test that theory shall we?” Allgood hummed as she began scribbling out the Equestrian alphabet onto the paper and then drew a pony above it with an arrow pointing down to the written symbols. She then drew a dividing line and began to work on the other side. Drawing a person of Sable’s species and drawing an arrow down, where she could fill in an alphabet. With the paper finished, Allgood scooted it over the bed, bumping it against Sable’s thigh in order to grab her attention.
Sable leaned over and grasped the pencil in one hand while keeping her other occupied with Scootaloo. After a brief period of reading and thinking, she began to scribble out an alphabet at a slow, methodical pace. Putting the pencil to her muzzle, she did something else that was unexpected. She began to draw a number of dots, drawing a small symbol next to them leading to a numerical in her language, including a numeral for zero.
“Kinda looks like Yakish, from what I’ve seen from Yona.” Scootaloo piped up from Sable’s lap, slowly rotating around to face the lexicon better.
“You know, you’re right. Looks an awful lot like their alphabet, although I can see some characters that look like they’ve come from Haechish as well. Might help in pinpointing where her people are.” Ocotillo mused, levitating the paper up and stacking it back on the pile. “Princess Sparkle is going to want to view that for sure.”
“I’d love to stay here and ask her more, but it is getting rather late. I need to take Scootaloo out for dinner like I promised.” Allgood sighed, motioning for Scootaloo to get out of Sable’s lap with a few flicks of her head.
“Yes it is.” Fluttershy uttered, draping a wing over Sable’s lap in Scootaloo’s stead. “There’s just the small issue of where she needs to be kept in the future. Cureall and Ocotillo need this ward in about two days. I have space for her, but she’s indicated she doesn’t like being alone.”
“Twilight definitely has space for her, can’t she take Sable in?” Ocotillo inputted.
“She could, but it would put Sable under scrutiny and at risk of being found out by the larger populace. Things Twilight has said she doesn’t want happening.” Fluttershy countered.
“True true, maybe one of the other element bearers? I know Rarity would house her in a heartbeat, but she lives right in the middle of town. Maybe Applejack? It’s pretty out of the way.” Ocotillo argued
“That could work, but, what about my home? It’s out of the way and she trusts me. Plus, I’m more likely than anyone in Ponyville, barring Fluttershy here, to understand her body language and other cues.” Allgood finalized, looking between the two to see their reactions.
Ocotillo and Fluttershy looked between themselves for a few moments, before nodding at Allgood. It had been decided. Sable would be staying with her.