A man surviving in a cartoon world. Its not as easy as one might think.
A man is transported to Equestria through some unknown means. Instead of becoming the life of the party in an instant, he is forced to survive using less than conventional means, hiding from the denizens of Ponyville in fear of how they would react to a human being. But such an existence cannot last forever.
As well, he must contend with the reality of an incomplete cartoon world. Things are not as easy to adjust to as they seem.
His vision was engulfed by it. He felt as though he had been in a coma; his body was stiff and sore, protesting loudly as he stirred. Although his eyes were closed, the light emanating from his surroundings was already too bright. If he hadn't felt as bad as he did, he would've rolled over to escape the spiteful brilliance.
Even without opening his eyes, he could tell he did not recognize his surroundings. He felt the thick grass surrounding him. He heard the birds chirping constantly, the wind gliding over his head, and the distant, periodic sounds of moving water. The last he remembered, he was heading to bed in his apartment after an uneventful day of work and college classes. He couldn't recall anything after that. He hadn't been drinking the day before. He was sure of it; had he been drugged, somehow? Is that why he had ended up in the country, god knows how far from home?
Opening his eyes at last, the man struggled to shield himself from the light. As his vision slowly began to adjust, he was greeted by a flawless blue sky. But already things seemed different somehow. Attempting to get his bearings, the man sat up and looked around, his arm still raised defensively in front of him against the brightness. What he saw only compounded this uneasy feeling. Gone were the varying shades of the world he knew. Instead, everything seemed solid, basic in color and seemingly devoid of visible texture. Tentatively, the man reached for one of the long blades of grass surrounding him and ran the plant through his fingers. Much to his surprise, it felt like what he would expect grass to feel like, the texture intact.
Many things drifted through his mind. Where the hell was he, for one. His apartment was located in a suburban area where human habitation lingered for miles in all directions. He could not hear the constant drone of motor vehicles, nor could he hear the distant sounds of humanity at work or play. Where ever he was, it was far from home. Off the top of his head, he could not even remember a place close to his apartment so remote and so rural. It was actually quite peaceful, hearing the sounds of nature as clearly as he did. A novelty.
But still, where the hell was he, and how had he gotten there? From his bed to the middle of nowhere, it was quite the mystery, one that filled him with a sense of impending danger despite the serenity of his surroundings. The unusual, almost alien look to the field around him concerned him even more. It seemed both normal, and abnormal. It was a field of tall grass, with a small lake in the distance, alright. It felt the same, it sounded the same, it smelled the same. . .but it wasn't the same.
His muddled thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a new sound: talking. His confusion swiftly shifted into a mix of relief and concern. He wasn't in the middle of no where, after all. But at the same time, whoever was talking could be the one who brought him here, or had some involvement in his removal. Revealing himself to be awake and alert might just make things worse for him.
Mixed with the talking were the sounds of excited quacks and the splashing of water. Whoever was nearby stood at the lake, interacting somehow with the ducks there. Shifting to a sitting position, the man looked through weary eyes toward the lake, and what he saw there stopped him cold.
A small yellow equine creature was feeding the ducks at the edge of the lake. Small wings were folded at its side, and its mane looked like it belonged on a human rather than an animal. And it was pink.
And he knew exactly what - and who - it was.
But how do you respond to the impossible?
It is a simple question, that many think they know the answer to. How do you react when an innocent fantasy that ran through your mind a few times, becomes reality? Those thoughts you encounter while wasting time in the shower, or waiting out rush hour traffic. If I had a million dollars, what would I do with it? If I had super powers, what would they be and how would I act?
Most would say you would react with confusion, and then happiness. Or immediately break out into joyful tears. Or remain cool and collective to maintain your edgy exterior in the face of the unreal. In reality, it is something you simply cannot react to. The mixture of feelings are so wild that you end up in a complete stupor. Disbelieving and overjoyed. Confused and content. Afraid and excited.
That is how poor David felt that day in the field. He knew where he was now, but his mind could not comprehend the reality of the situation. He had thought of it a number of times, as people tend to. What they would do if they lived in the universe of their favorite movie, or book, or TV series. But now he was here, he could not hope to understand how or why.
It is in this vulnerable state that the human mind resorts to unlikely theories. As the impossible has just become possible, these things are not so easily dismissed anymore. Am I dreaming? Am I dead? Am I in the Matrix? Had I been in the Matrix until now? Is this what it feels like to overdose on LSD? Was my world the cartoon show, while this was the real world?
David was experiencing these and more, as he watched the little yellow pegasus trot back to her cottage with a now empty basket. Fluttershy was her name. Equestria was where she lived. The setting of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And now, he was there too.
As a modern man of science and intellect, he could not fathom how this had happened. It was, by all means, completely impossible. But at the same time, he hadn't been completely unprepared for such a thing. Those moments of boredom and free thought would, it seemed, actually serve a purpose. How would a race of equines respond to a mostly hairless, massive gangly ape that could talk? The same way any sane human being would respond to a talking, flying horse: confusion, and possibly panic.
Revealing himself outright was out of the question. Walking into Ponyville, which was undoubtedly not far away, would be potentially suicide, no matter how much he may try to convince them of his good intentions. Only dressed in a plain dark blue t-shirt, some old jeans, and a pair of sneakers, he wasn't exactly prepared to spend the night in the wild, either. He would need to think this through carefully.
Reviewing his memories of the show quickly as he sank back into the tall grass, David determined that not many scenes featured Ponyville at night. Those that did, mostly depicted the town as deserted: everyone slept at night, apparently, with little to no exceptions. This would enable him to travel in and around the city without revealing himself. . .in theory. Considering his lack of preparation and supplies, this was the best he could think of, so it would have to do.
And so, he waited. Content with the knowledge that he remained well hidden in the tall grass, the man, born and raised in the city, enjoyed the calm comforts of nature in a strange and alien world.
Once night fell, David rose from the tall grass and made his way in the direction the pegasus had gone many hours ago. After a short walk, he soon came to the familiar form of Fluttershy's cottage. From there, the road to Ponyville was clear, even in the dark.
His assumption was correct. Perhaps, too much so. The denizens of Ponyville were so content in the knowledge that no one would travel at night, that there were no lights present in the town. Navigation was a nightmare, as it tends to be in pitch blackness in an unfamiliar environment. After a few close calls with a few stalls in the market, the man eventually found the epicenter of his hasty plan: the Ponyville library, home of the unicorn Twilight Sparkle and her assistant, Spike.
The next part of the plan was based once more on what he had seen in the show. At first, it seemed crazy, but after observing that his first assumption was indeed correct, he felt a little better about proceeding.
A basement containing intricate lab equipment lay within the library. Twilight had never used the room beyond only one of the episodes, implying that it was sparsely used, and, therefore, a potential home. At least for a time. The plan was, of course, incredibly risky: break into the home of the most magically attuned unicorn in all of Equestria, and live in her basement without being noticed. What could go wrong?
Although he didn't necessarily like it, or feel safe with it, it was the only plan he had. And it hinged on just one factor: whether or not the library was locked. Did ponies lock their doors? He wasn't sure. As far as he could recall, traditional door locks were never shown on the show. They seemed to be reserved for dramatic purposes, like containing the Elements of Harmony. The idea of a complete lack of locks was more than a little disturbing- and dangerous -from a human perspective. But from the perspective of a pony who lived in a world of magic and friendship, it seemed considerably more plausible.
Proceeding as quietly and as carefully as possible, the man reached for the handle and pulled.
Incredibly, the door opened.
After a moment of thought on the implications of this, David, stooping down somewhat to fit through the doorway, closed the door as quietly as he could behind him and looked at his new surroundings. It was as he remembered it: the dark confines of the library at night. As he recalled, the dwellings of both Twilight and Spike were on the floor above, which was blocked by a door. This made it considerably safer to proceed, without having to sneak past the sleeping duo themselves. After fumbling around in the dark for a few minutes, he eventually found the door to the basement and gently pulled it open, repeating the same care he had used when he had entered.
This, too, was as he remembered it. Down a large flight of stairs he went, with the large dark room waiting beyond. The lab equipment he had last seen within the room was in a much smaller form, apparently packed away after the events of the episode. It appeared to be quite spacious, even for a creature much larger than a pony, with a small enclave lined with books at one side, and another, empty enclave at the opposite side. He supposed this would have to do as his shelter for the night. He could only hope that the room was as abandoned as he thought. If the unicorn upstairs caught any sign of an intruder, no doubt she would have some form of magic to locate him, no matter where he may hide.
Browsing around the room in the dark, David found one of his sub-objectives for the night: a quill and a blank book, evidently meant to take down some sort of information that was at some point abandoned. Regardless, it meant that he could catalog his thoughts while staying in the alien world, just in case he ever made it back home. Mentally and physically exhausted, David quickly wrote out an entry in the journal:
"Ponies do not have locks. What the hell?"
And with that, he settled himself into one of the enclaves, clutching the journal to his chest, and, remarkably, quickly fell asleep.
Morality coming into question in the land of magic and friendship? More likely than you think.
By the time David awoke, it was already evening. The small, singular window to the outside in the room allowed him to have some contact with the outside world. He heard movement upstairs periodically through the day, as well as muffled voices. Twilight and Spike going about their business, of course. The unicorn seemed to spend most of her day outside the library, from what he could tell. And Spike slept a considerable amount.
Confined to the basement during the waking hours of Ponyville, David did his best to pass the time productively. He browsed the books held down here, and silently prayed that Twilight had other copies of said books elsewhere in the house. So far, the two denizens of the library, as well as those few visiting, had no apparent need to go downstairs. Thus, the man was left undisturbed. The books he found down there were very odd, containing writings he could not understand. He figured it had to do with magic...or science. Or both. Either way, they were not much use to him.
Despite this, he had nothing better to do, so he took it upon himself to try and decipher the strange text as best he could during the day after making a more detailed account of his experience in the journal, and leave the confines of the library after Ponyville had drifted off to sleep. Thus, he reached a very peculiar problem of ethics: the lack of locks in Ponyville. Although his need for food and drink seemed to be considerably less in the land of Equestria, it was still a necessity. But as an unknown entity to the citizens of Ponyville, he couldn't exactly buy what he needed to survive. Thus, the idea of stealing what he needed entered his mind.
There were many pros and cons to this idea. With no locks present, it would, theoretically, be quite easy to achieve, as he had already demonstrated. It would enable him to survive without needing to forage for food or reveal himself to the public. But at the same time, entering and exiting the library alone was a risk each and every time, let alone entering another home or shop. And then there was the morality of the situation: was it really OK to steal from such happy creatures?
Eventually, David reached a compromise with himself. He would take only what he needed to survive, and try to limit his expeditions to one building per night. As well, he was content to take from businesses rather than homes, where one or two missing pints of water or pastries would not be easily missed. On this first night, he made his way to the only such place he knew of: Sugarcube Corner, the domain of the earth pony Pinkie Pie.
This was, perhaps, more dangerous than breaking into the library. As any fan of the show would know, Pinkie was an enigma. For all he knew, her Pinkie sense would stir her from her slumber just because she hadn't become friends with him yet. The risk was far greater here than a normal Ponyville restaurant, but he did not yet know of any others, and going from building to building to search was out of the question. He had to brave Sugarcube Corner.
Entering the building was simple. Like the library, it lacked any sort of lock, allowing immediate entry. David knew that the pink pony in question lived on the second floor, but the actual owners of the store, the Cakes, were completely unknown. Their dwellings were never revealed in the show, which meant that he could not explore as safely as he thought. Creeping around in the dark, it wasn't long before he spotted sustenance: various impressive pastries, displayed in a glass case near the counter. These were, of course, off limits; if he took one, the Cakes would surely notice. No, what he sought lay in the kitchen, where it would not be as easily discovered.
Pushing as quietly as he could through the swinging doors that led into the kitchen, David made sure to look around for any sign of the Cakes before proceeding. An assortment of cupcakes, numbering 50 strong, were displayed on one of the many counters. This was what he needed. Although they might notice a lack in number, if those missing were small enough, they would likely chalk it up to miscounting rather than theft. He hoped.
...Two cupcakes would be enough.
After taking a bottle of soda from the kitchen fridge, the invader retreated back toward the entrance to the shop with his spoils. As he clutched his prize to his chest and reached for the door, he saw a light turn on upstairs, the distant glow visible from the base of the stairs. The sound of methodical hoofsteps drifted down to him.
He was a fool. That pony was ridiculous, why didn't he expect this? Pulling the door open, David exited the shop as quietly as he could despite the rising panic in his chest. As silent as a mouse, he stalked off into the dark, still clutching the supplies he took. As he made his way back toward the library, he glanced back numerous times to see if the pink pony was on his trail. He could see light and movement inside, but so far, the door to Sugarcube Corner remained shut.
He was safe, for now.
After returning to the basement of the library, the man laid down his supplies and collapsed into the enclave, breathing deeply as he tried to suppress his emotions. Who would think living in Equestria would be so nerve-wracking? Running from a pink pony...there were no words to describe what that felt like. After calming himself, he shakily retrieved his journal and added one last entry for the night:
"I think I'm going mad. I'm sure the library did not have a double door when I first got here."
The man put away the journal and quill, ate one of the cupcakes, and fell asleep.
As per the day before, it was already well into the evening by the time David awoke from his uneasy sleep. Almost as soon as he did, he heard signs of life upstairs. Unlike the previous day, Twilight seemed to spend much more time in the library. Spike, as well, was much more active. The man hoped to, at some point, figure out the unicorn's routine. A creature of habit and organization, a consistent schedule was not out of the question.
Because of the proximity to the true denizens of the library, David's day was much more inactive, fearing discovery if he made too much noise. He spent most of the day trying to determine what language one of the books was written in (because it surely wasn't English), until he grew bored. In his boredom, small, inconsequential things he wouldn't have noticed with everything else going on came to light.
Smell. Despite not bathing for two days now, he did not seem to have an odor. Surely if he did and merely did not smell it himself, it would have revealed him to those who dwelt upstairs. As well, despite eating and drinking since he arrived, he had yet to have the need to...relieve himself. That part he did not put much thought into: living in a basement without a bathroom, not having such needs was more than just convenient. He'd rather not look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak.
Sleep had become different to him as well. Instead of spending potentially hours wrestling with his own thoughts before falling asleep, he had managed to fall asleep faster than he had ever done before, numerous times now. Even the night before, being rattled by his close encounter in Sugarcube Corner, he was able to sleep in only a few minutes of resting. Interesting.
Eventually, those strange thoughts grew boring as well, and the man resorted to eavesdropping on his unknowing housemates for entertainment. A part of him felt both concerned and ashamed for this act, risking discovery by getting closer to the door, and listening in on potentially private matters. But another part of him was bored to tears, and that part seemed to be winning.
Twilight seemed to be organizing the library through most of the day. This was interrupted occasionally by a few small magical experiments. Spike was present as well, helping the unicorn with her activities. Their conversations were not particularly interesting. That is, until they got a visitor.
The pink one had returned.
As soon as Twilight opened the door, he knew who had come to visit. The sound of her voice carried through to all areas of the library, and probably beyond. Twilight and Spike did not seem affected by it, however, and greeted the earth pony happily. The three began to chat idly, resuming the conversation David had very little interest in. That did not last very long.
"Oh, Twilight, did you hear? Cheerilee said she saw a big spooky monster tiptoeing around Ponyville last night!"
"Really? I wouldn't think 'big spooky monsters' would be ones to tiptoe at night, Pinkie."
"Maybe it didn't want to be rude and wake up all of Ponyville! A considerate monster, I like that!"
The unicorn let out an amused sigh and the conversation seemed to stop. He could hear movement around on the first floor, and assumed it was Pinkie trying to find something to amuse herself with. Suddenly, a loud noise emanated from where he guessed the earth pony had been standing, prompting a response from both Twilight and Spike.
"What does that one mean? I've never seen it before," the unicorn asked.
"I'm not sure. It must be the new one! It woke me up last night. I thought it was telling me to get a midnight snack!"
The pink pony hesitated.
"That's funny. Its not midnight, and I'm not hungry. I guess I was wrong about what it means."
After Pinkie finished speaking, Spike let out a loud sneeze.
"Oooh, a sneezing Pinkie sense! That sounds like a fun one!"
Twilight sounded as if she was going to respond, but the words died in her throat and she remained silent.
David let out a quiet sigh of relief, having retreated down the stairs as soon as he realized what they were talking about. That Pinkie sense was going to be the end of him. And not only that, but now he had almost been discovered without him even knowing. It didn't seem like they believed the story, but it could mean more dangers at night. Things were not getting any easier.
Thankfully, his supply of cupcakes and his incredibly rationed soda bottle were enough to get him through the night. No leaving the library tonight. It was best to lay low, throw off any ponies who might be on the look out for a 'big spooky monster'.
Thus, David spent his night in the library, attempting to read more books. Before he was about to sleep, he made a quick entry in the journal:
"The pink one is out to get me. Avoid at all costs."
How does one make progress on an alien world, where one must stay hidden to survive?
It was quite the question for David. He couldn't just live in Twilight's basement forever. He needed to find a way to safely reveal himself. Or, if such a thing was impossible, leave Equestria without anyone noticing. As much as he enjoyed the thought of living in such a wonderful place, it was a place for ponies, not humans. Perhaps the only safe option for both parties was just for him to return to his own world.
But how would he do that? He had no idea how he had ended up in Equestria in the first place. If he didn't know that, how the hell would he ever get back? Magic seemed the likely option. It was boundless in its capabilities. Perhaps there was a spell to send him back. But who would know? He could only think of two Equestrians who might be able to help him: Twilight, with her incredible skill in magic. She was out of the question, however. There was no way for him to contact her safely, without being discovered. And the other...
The ruler of Equestria's power had never been truly determined in the show. Many considered her akin to a god. Perhaps this was true. Being an ancient pony deity, she might know how he had gotten to Equestria, and how he might return. But she resided in Canterlot, a vast distance away. Of course, confronting the Princess may not be wise even if he could. Her response may be like those of her subjects. He needed indirect means to communicate, and, thankfully, said means were sharing the library with him.
Spike. The little dragon dealt with letters to and from the Princess daily. If he could somehow mix a letter of his own design in with those Spike would send, he might be able to communicate with Celesta, at least for a time. That implied many things. Twilight usually hands him letters to send to the Princess from what he had seen in the show. How would he get a letter of his own in there without them noticing? Perhaps she left the dragon stacks of paper to send. It was a strange and unfounded assumption, but it was the only thing he could think of.
He would try to learn as much as he could throughout the day. Twilight was gone most of the day, as she had been a few days prior. Eavesdropping on the short conversations she had with Spike, he learned that she was following a schedule that included meetings with town officials and social get together with her friends. Spike, of course, slept whenever Twilight was out of the house. David could leave the safety of the basement during this time but...the risk was far too great. With many more windows, occasional visitors, and without knowledge of when the unicorn librarian might return, such a thing was out of the question.
This was how David spent his days, listening in on the unicorn and her assistant to try and determine a schedule, as well as learn as much as he could concerning the letters to Celestia. Numerous of Twilight's friends would visit throughout this time. Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, and, worst of all, Pinkie. Whenever the pink pony arrived, David would retreat to one of the enclaves and hide, fearing the pony's sense would reveal him. This course of action seemed to work quite well, as he had not heard any talk about her Pinkie sense since the last time it had happened.
Every other night, he would seek out restaurants and take bits of food and drink to sate his needs. He avoided Sugarcube Corner after the first expedition for obvious reasons, and instead stuck to more traditional establishments. Ones devoid of psychic ponies. A few times he would hear of "the monkey monster" from Twilight and her friends. Each time it was mentioned, he felt his time of nightly incursions coming closer to an end. Ponies around Ponyville were seeing only bits and pieces of him during those times, but it was enough to start rumors. No matter how safe he believed he was, someone somewhere had seen him stalking in the shadows.
After a few days of this routine, he was no closer to discovering a means to contact Celestia. Letters were not dealt with in a way he could work with, meaning his plan was impossible. For now. After another night of hunting for food, he was once again able to enjoy a calm night in the library. He had gotten more familiar with the books in that time. It was like trying to learn gibberish as a language. Slowly, surely, he was making progress in his spare time. The one thing that seemed to be going good for the man.
"Maybe those books are teaching me magic. Maybe I won't need Celestia after all."
But what may seem bad may actually be good. Sometimes.
As David heard more and more about "the monkey monster stalking the night in Ponyville", he found his nightly walks considerably easier. Although he could feel eyes watching him at times, he knew they couldn't hope to see him clearly in the dark. Many denizens of Ponyville were terrified to leave their homes at night as a result of the stories, meaning the streets were as deserted as ever. While the man felt bad about inadvertently frightening the poor creatures, he was more than OK with this new found freedom.
The question was, how long would it last?
Either someone will take it upon themselves to investigate "the monkey monster", or they will spontaneously invent burglary protection out of fear. Both were disastrous for him. Ironically, despite the tales, he had not heard any reports of "the monkey monster" stealing anything. Clearly his efforts to take only small amounts of things were working. He could only hope that Twilight remained skeptical about the stories. If she happened to be awake when he returned from a night walk...things would probably not go well for him.
Listening in on her conversations with her friends, this did not seem to be the case. She did not seem to believe that a monster was creeping around at night. Rainbow Dash agreed with the librarian, and while Rarity and Applejack couldn't care less, Fluttershy and Pinkie were avid believers, though with very different attitudes toward it. Pinkie was enthusiastic about the "monster", and seemed to regard it as an incredibly funny joke. Fluttershy on the other hand was, of course, terrified.
The "monster" was still regarded as a rumor, however, and David only heard about it every now and again. This was good. A bit of popularity kept the superstitious ponies indoors, but too much popularity would lead to a manhunt. Or a monster hunt, as the case may be.
Very little had been learned on the 'letters to Celestia' front. The way the letters were given to Spike to send were incredibly direct, meaning no espionage could be had. That plan would have to be on hold, he supposed. He would need to think of a new course of action, before he became Frankenstein's monster in Ponyville.
One solution was, again, revealing himself to the Equestrians. This was an uncomfortable and undesirable plan, as the chances of success would be quite low. Just walking out in public during the day was, as it had been when he arrived, out of the question. But isolated exposure to one or two of the ponies might be met with more progress. After the initial shock, they could, in theory, assist him in reaching out to the rest. But what ponies would be most likely to help him?
Twilight, despite her intelligence, was likely out of the question. Revealing himself would undoubtedly bring to light that he was an invader, which would sour her opinion of him and make her all the more likely to respond badly. Understandably so.
Rainbow Dash was probably the least likely option of the lot. The potential of David getting his ass kicked was much higher when the gutsy blue pegasus was involved. Getting beat down by a small blue pony...his self respect shuddered at the mere thought.
Rarity was not much of a better option. He could see her reacting dramatically at the appearance of such a strange creature, even if she did not particularly believe in "the monkey monster".
Fluttershy was a tough one. If he tried to act like a true ape, maybe she would regard him as an animal and respond well. But if he approached her as a civilized creature, she might react with terror. It was a 50/50 chance at best.
Applejack was probably one of the better options. Although the risk of physical injury was perhaps even worse than with Rainbow should things go wrong, the earth pony was much more reasonable and perhaps would be one to listen before reacting. A distinct possibility.
And finally...Pinkie. Perhaps his best bet in terms of being accepted. But would she be any use in convincing the others? Would they even believe her? He didn't know. If he did approach the pink pony, it would likely be a decision he could not have second thoughts about. That sense of hers would make sure of it.
"If I should die, I leave all my worldly possessions to the one who brought me low. Its going to be the pink one, I know it."
Patience is a virtue. Perhaps less so when your life is on the line.
Things on all fronts were progressing slowly at best. David had all but given up on trying to send a letter to Celestia, and Twilight's friends had never presented an opportunity to be spoken with alone. And to top it all off, he had hit a wall in his understanding of the text held in the basement.
The circumstances required for this new plan to work were almost impossibly specific. Applejack, Pinkie Pie, or even Fluttershy would have to be at the library, alone, preferably close to night. Anything else would be far too dangerous. And with his travel only done after sundown, he couldn't exactly find a better location to encounter them alone, without scaring them half to death in the dark of night.
He was stuck. Perhaps, he needed another plan. But what was left?
Messages to Twilight: she would discover the first, and use a spell to locate him the moment he even hinted that he was in the library. Likelihood of success: minimal. Likelihood of injury: high.
Luring one of the other ponies to the library while Twilight was away: would require traveling across Ponyville and/or the gathering of many supplies. Likelihood of success: low. Likelihood of injury: medium.
Messages to Spike-
Upon this thought, something hit him. Perhaps his first plan might not be as impossible as he thought. If he could not mix his letter with others, perhaps he could simply instruct Spike to send it, posing as Twilight. As busy as she was, such a thing was not impossible: in her rush to depart, she leaves Spike a letter to send when he is able. Although a cunning mind might be able to find such a thing unlike Twilight, he did not think the little dragon would put that much thought into it. As well, it was unlikely Spike would read the letter itself. Twilight sent many throughout the day, and he probably did not find them very interesting.
It was a flimsy plan, but as it stood, so were all his plans. There were many factors that could not be made certain. How would he make sure Spike sends the letter before Twilight returns and inspects it? How could he be sure he would not be seen, by Spike or by someone passing outside, during his time outside the basement? And-
...Did ponies have handwriting?
David did not have an answer to that one. Would Spike be able to tell that the instructions to send the letter were not written by the unicorn? It was...never brought up in the show. He hadn't a clue. The flimsiest of flimsy plans. Good enough.
The man quickly retrieved a blank piece of paper from the stacks of supplies kept in the basement. Besides the journal he had acquired when he first arrived, he hadn't a need for them until now. Quill in hand, he was finally prepared to write his letter to Celestia. Finally, his plans were moving forward.
"Dear Princess Celestia,
How did I get here I don't belong here please help me tell the ponies not to kill me and keep the pink one away from me.
A Complete Stranger, D."
David quickly rolled the parchment up as per he had seen in the show. It looked indentical. Hopefully Spike would think the same. The idea couldn't have come at a better time. Twilight was out on a picnic with her friends. With her not due back for hours, the library closed to the public while she was away, and Spike having been asleep since before she left, it was the perfect time for him to plant the letter and retreat back to the basement.
Climbing the stairs with almost cat-like grace, David slowly pushed the door open and peered through the crack to make sure the coast was clear. With no ponies (or dragons) in sight, he opened the door just enough to squeeze through. Hunched to maintain a low profile, he quickly moved to the table at the center of the room and gently placed the parchment atop it. His work done, the man maintained his stealth as best he could as he retreated, closed the door silently behind him, and breathed a quiet sigh as he returned to the basement proper.
And now, he waited. Again.
"My shirt seems to be as plainly colored as my surroundings. For that matter: I seem to be as plainly colored as my surroundings. How did I miss that until now?"
To assume victory is to ensure defeat. To assume that a society of small technicolored ponies won't beat you to death is also probably not very smart.
David's plan, it seemed, went off without a hitch. He had spent the remainder of the day huddled in the corner of one of the enclaves, his knees acting as a brace for the book he was reading. Twilight had come and gone numerous times by the time the sun was setting. Considering he was not yet under attack by a furious purple unicorn, he could only assume Spike had sent the letter.
After dusk arrived and the danger had apparently passed, the potential consequences of his plan- namely, Celestia informing Twilight of the letter in a way that gave him up -got him thinking about the nature of the danger he was in. Could he truly die here? He had never seen a true instance of death on the show, with the exception of a funeral in one episode. They never did explain how that pony happened to die. He could only hope it was due to old age or some other natural cause.
He was not particularly afraid of gruesome maulings from the town's population. Even some of the gags he had seen on the show would be potentially fatal in the real world. Did the cartoonish durability of the Equestrians also apply to him now? It was a question that could only be answered with experimentation. The potential pain (or worse) was not exactly motivating him to find out anytime soon. He would have to assume the worst, to avoid the worst.
After he was sure Twilight and Spike had retired to their room for the night, David swiftly climbed the stairs and exited the basement into the library proper. Sure enough, his letter was gone from the table on which it had rested. With a confident, self assuring nod, he left the library with the swift stealth he had honed over the last few days.
His abilities in the dark were not the only thing that had improved. Due to the lack of lights in the basement (at least, ones he could find and operate), his vision had become accustomed to the blackness as well. This, at best, meant he was less likely to bump into large objects along his path, which had been a serious hazard the first few nights. He was still a far cry from a nocturnal creature prowling the night with confidence.
This was once again a night of scavenging. His options, however, were growing smaller and smaller. If he took too much from one particular business, even over the course of a few days, it might alert them of the theft as their supplies continued to disappear. As well, he didn't exactly feel very good about stealing merchandise from innocent creatures to the point where he might kill their business as a whole. Morality in the land of sunshine and rainbows, indeed.
Thus, he had two options: Return to Sugarcube Corner, which he hadn't touched since he arrived, or explore an option he had been trying to avoid: Sweet Apple Acres. One would think that taking a few apples in an orchard would hardly be noticeable. But these were ponies who lived and breathed their work. Applejack noticing a few missing apples was far from an unlikely scenario. Once again, however, a lack of options forced his hand.
The path to the orchard was long, confusing, and dark. Even though it was connected to Ponyville by roads, in the dark, and in unfamiliar surroundings, he frequently found himself getting lost. He had never ventured this far out during his nightly hunts, and for good reason. After doing a few circles around town, he eventually found what he thought to be the road to his destination. Around him, the quaint little homes, shops, and stalls melted away into rugged rural landscapes. Even in the dark, he could see this change, and it left him feeling very exposed. No more buildings were left to dart behind in an emergency.
It was just him and the wide open road to Sweet Apple Acres.
The trip was, thankfully, not very long once he was on track. The massive farm itself was visible on the horizon in no time at all, looming threateningly in the dark. With only moonlight and vague memories to guide him, David hopped the small fence into the orchard itself. Instead of taking from the outer trees, he walked deeper into the field of trees before selecting his spoils. The apples did not seem as ripe as he had hoped, but he was not very picky at this point. Taking four from the tree as quietly as he could, the man retreated back the way he came until he found the road, the apples cradled in one arm.
Before he set off down the road, he gave a lingering look back at the farm house itself. Somehow, he felt as though the experience had been too easy, almost as if he had come to expect complications in his plans. He half expected Winnona and Applejack to come barreling out of the side door to bring him to his doom. But after a few seconds of staring, such a thing would not come to pass. David made the short trip back to the library whilst resisting the urge to eat one of the apples right then and there, focusing deeply on not dropping any of them as he got inside. Collapsing into the corner of the basement with his bounty still cradled in his arm, he enjoyed the sweet taste of Sweet Apple apples and prepared himself to sleep.
"I wonder if my family and friends realized I'm gone yet. I wonder if I still have a job."
Complacency is hazardous with the inherent uncertainty of life.
David awoke rather early the morning after his trip to Sweet Apple Acres, for no particular reason. He found sleep not only much easier to acquire, but far less necessary. Only sleeping about six hours a day, he had yet to experience any negative effects from it. Today was yet another day filled with boredom, books, and idle thoughts. Despite understanding numerous texts by now, when he thought back to what they had taught them, he found himself at a loss for words.
Twilight seemed to spend a considerable amount of time in the library on this particular day, limiting David's activities further. He had detected no sign of any strange activity, such as preparing to storm the basement. The librarian had very few visitors as well, which was also unusual. Typically when she spent a lot of time in the library, her friends would visit her quite frequently throughout the day. Yet, on this particular day, they were no where to be found. Curious.
By the time dusk fell on Ponyville, Twilight and Spike had already retired to their quarters. Being rather early in the night, David was not about to assume the coast was clear just like that, however. But as the sun set and the usual time of his departure came around, he had heard no sign of the unicorn or her assistant. Perhaps this was a new behavior he hadn't seen before? Twilight feeling down, possibly sick? It would explain her isolation and early sleep.
Yet another example of the kind of danger he was in. Although she had a fairly predictable routine, to expect the same behavior one hundred percent of the time was absurd. This particular odd behavior was good news for him, however, as Twilight seemed (from his observations through the tiny window in the basement) to stay awake later than the rest of Ponyville. Thus, he would have much more time to explore on this rare night. And although he wasn't in any particular need of supplies yet, he wasn't about to pass up an opportunity like this.
After making certain the coast was clear, David made his way out of the basement and in a few silent strides, out of the library completely. Just as he had expected, Ponyville was already fast asleep. Windows were shut, blinds were drawn, shops were closed. An incredible silence dominated the air, interrupted only by the soft howl of the wind, and the crickets chirping softly on the outskirts of town.
Dark enough that he would not be easily spotted but still rather early in the night, David felt a sense of freedom he never thought he would experience in the alien land. Perhaps he could actually enjoy himself this night, instead of worrying in some way about supplies or what to do next. Of course, he would not pass up an opportunity to gather materials. Later, he could locate something of worth before heading back. But for now, he would enjoy his freedom.
And it was then that he heard voices.
Turning slowly in the direction he had heard them, he could see a faint light in the distance, gradually moving toward the library. Toward him. Who would be up at this hour? He had never seen a pony wandering the streets at night. In his week living in Equestria, he had no inclination that such a thing would happen, especially with the rumors of "the monkey monster" wafting around. This was madness. Absolute insanity.
But these were not just any ponies.
As they drew closer, he began to recognize them, both by voice and by appearance. Rarity and Applejack, walking side by side toward the library, the former's horn lighting the way for them. Rarity and Applejack...why did this suddenly seem less spontaneous? Was there something he forgot? Why would-
He had to abandon the library for now. There was no way he could get inside without being discovered. But perhaps he could slip away before they caught sight of him. It was rather dark, after all.
"What's that over there? No, by the library."
David slipped away around the side of the library, hunching over to try and limit the amount they could see moving in the dark. Sounds of confusion and slight alarm followed. This was not good, not good at all. He couldn't just run for it, they would spot him for sure, and might actually follow. This was Applejack, after all. She would catch him with ease, and he did not want a lasso aimed at his head.
He continued to circle around the back of the library, keeping the building between him and his would-be pursuers. Scanning his surroundings as best he could in the dark, he spotted a street directly ahead of him that would keep the library in the perfect place behind him. Staying low and moving as quickly and as quietly as he could, David pushed off from the arboreal home and hobbled his way down the street.
"It went this way! C'mon Rarity, we can't lose 'em now!"
Apples. It was the apples. They cursed him. He took from the Apple family orchard, and justice would be dealt for his crime. He should have known than to mess with Applejack's apples! He was such a fool.
He couldn't stay on the street. They would only continue the chase if he did, and he would not last long. He had to disappear, and quickly. He knew he was passing behind a few buildings, but he could see only one back entrance a few yards ahead of him. He had no choice.
With a swift hobbled run, he darted over to the door, pulled it open, closed it as gently as he could behind him, and braced hard against it with his shoulder.
Minutes went by in cruel silence. From inside, he could not hear whatever might have been going on outside. Only the gentle creaking of the home he took refuge in reached his ears now. He knew that if he had been spotted, it would only be a matter of time until he found out. Even bracing against the door as he was, one mighty buck from the earth pony pursuing him would throw the door wide open, and possibly him too. But as the minutes went by, no assault came. No final discovery, no lasso of doom. Just silence.
He had escaped. Again.
It was a few additional minutes after this realization that he finally moved away from the door. He couldn't believe how close he was to discovery. And it an incredibly bad way, too. By all means, they thought they were chasing the monster. And they probably would have treated him as such. Hog tied and in front of the whole town by morning. Not the best way he would like to introduce himself. He couldn't leave. Although they might not know where he had gone, they could be searching outside. He would have to lay low for now.
Turning away from the door, David finally took in his surroundings. In his haste, he hadn't really looked around after he entered. If he had chosen poorly, he argued to himself, it would have been made known immediately. So far, it had proved quite desolate. Looking around now, this was indeed the case. A large room lay directly ahead of him, while he and the door he entered were in a thinner, longer room that stretched out in both directions.
His senses slowly began to heighten as he calmed from his ordeal. Incredible delicacies surrounded him, bombarding him with mesmerizing scents even though many were still in the process of being made. Cakes, cupcakes, donuts, bear claws, even a tub of ice cream lay before him. He was in a kitchen. A baker's kitchen...producing pastries...
A thump was heard upstairs.
A light in the room ahead, from the stairs.
"The prophecy is fulfilled!" David whimpered to himself, falling to his knees. "She has come to bring me to my doom."
He fell forward, his face hitting the floor with a loud thump.
Try as we might, some things are unavoidable. Inevitable. Un-take-a-back-able.
Darkness. Ah the familiarity. So fresh, yet so distant. He felt as if it had been years since he arrived in Equestria and his perspective of reality melted away. And here he was again, in the same shape. But instead of the rigid texture of grass, smooth breeze, and innocent chirping of birds, he felt only the cold hard floor beneath him. That and...breathing.
Which wasn't his.
Eyes opening, he was immediately greeted by the multicolored floor. A moment later, he was greeted by a splitting headache. With a groan, he rolled over, a hand to his head as he stared up at the ceiling. A bright pink face suddenly appeared at the top of his line of sight, staring down at him with wide eyes and a smile. How adorable this creature was! He felt as though he should be concerned by its presence, though...
"PINKIE NO!" he cried as he shielded his head with both hands, his legs pulled almost to his chest defensively, as his memory returned. "Wait...what?"
"You can talk?!" the pink pony replied with a sharp, expectant intake of air, her mouth open in a wide smile.
The next few minutes were a blur to David. The earth pony was speaking, but at such a rate that his dazed and disoriented mind couldn't hope to follow. So it didn't. By the time the pink pony finally paused, he had all but entered a coma. The sudden lack of noise, however, snapped him back to his senses.
"I'm sorry...my head...can you say that again...a little slower, please?"
"I was just saying Mr. Monkey that it was just so very incredible that you could talk! I mean, not many animals talk you know! Except Spike, but he's a dragon. I've never seen a monkey talk before! I've never seen a monkey like you before either!"
"Yeah...uh...I'm not a monkey...but I can talk, yes."
This seemed to slow the pacing pony down a bit. "Not a monkey? Then what are you Mr. Monkey? I've never seen one of you! And you can talk! I've never had a monkey friend before!"
"I'm a human. And my name is David."
"David? That's a funny name. And what's a human? Is it a type of monkey? It doesn't sound very monkey-ish to me! But whatever you say Mr. Human! Oh, I mean, David! I'm Pinkie Pie. But you already knew that! That's even funnier, 'cause I don't know you, but you know me!"
"Oh, I just overheard..." he lied, figuring it was best not to go into metaphysical detail just yet.
"Oooh, that makes sense! I know just about everyone in Ponyville. But why are you here in Sugarcube Corner Mr. David? If you want some delicious goods, you'll have to wait until tomorrow!"
"Yeah, sorry. I didn't mean to intrude."
"Oh, no biggy! I was just coming down to get a midnight snack when I found you! You should be more careful next time. You hit your head pretty hard."
"A point well taken. You seem to be handling a...'rare' creature like me rather well, Pinkie Pie."
"I've seen all kinds of weird creatures! But you don't seem so bad. Besides, my Pinkie sense was telling me you were a new friend! That's why I waited for you to wake up."
"Is that so? I thought that was for midnight sn-" he began, before realizing he had obtained such reasoning through less than respectable means. "...Nevermind."
"So that means we're friends now?" the pink pony asked expectantly, though she seemed confident in the answer.
"Sure," David responded with a smile, rubbing his head. "As a friend, I have to ask you for a favor."
"Lay it on me, buddy!"
"Could you keep our meeting a secret? Just for a while."
The pink pony blinked, her expression changing from unconditional happiness to innocent confusion. "I can do that! But I don't know why you wouldn't want anypony to know. My friends are great! I think they'd love to meet you. But whatever you say Mr. David!"
"I appreciate it, Pinkie." He paused. "Do you think I could stay the night here in Sugarcube Corner? I...don't have a place to stay tonight."
The pink pony gasped. "Of course! What do you mean you don't have a place to go?! That's crazy! Everypony should have a nice warm bed to sleep in," Pinkie exclaimed, before suddenly pausing. "Oh, but we don't have any free beds! I can give you a blanket and a pillow though!"
"That'll be just fine, friend," David responded with a nod.
The earth pony (quite enthusiastically) led David through to the upstairs, talking excitedly along the way. The man could do little more than nod and smile most of the time, though he did not a drop in Pinkie's volume when they reached the upstairs proper. He surmised that the Cakes must be sleeping nearby. The volume just about returned when they reached her quarters, the massive circular room seeming quite large compared to the size of the building outside. David couldn't quite understand if they had ascended another level, or the room rested on the second story. For some reason, his mind was drawing a blank.
Pinkie's room was rather predictable. Bright colors, mostly pink, assaulted the man's eyes as soon as they arrived. A persistent smell of cotton candy and pastries filled the air, almost to the point of being overwhelming. The room was quite well lit, which was expected as necessary at such a late hour. The only bed in sight was positioned beneath a balcony that ran along one wall, with drawers and other furniture close by. Even though a plethora of whimsical objects littered the room in its entirety, he spotted a few clear areas where he might set himself up for the night. The most appealing, however, was the balcony. Although a large window was located at its center, the elevation would hide him from those who might come up into the room for one reason or another.
As David surveyed the room, Pinkie quickly pulled an extra blanket and pillow from a large wooden chest at one end of the room, dropping them at the man's feet.
"Thank you," he said with a nod, gathering his "gift" in his arms as he made his way to the stairs leading up to the balcony. Pinkie, meanwhile, did an incredible leap to her bed, bouncing as she impacted and throwing the covers from the bed in one single motion, giggling and snorting as she did.
David placed the pillow at one end of the balcony, positioned close to the wall to best hide him from any visitors from below, and laid down on his back, staring up at the balloon and streamer covered ceiling. He reached for the blanket and attempted to spread it over himself, but, much to his dismay, the size of pony blankets in relation to humans became apparent very quickly: the cloth left his feet and part of his lower legs exposed. Even then, it was quite the improvement over sleeping huddled in a corner in the basement of the library.
"Good night Mr. David!" Pinkie called cheerily from below.
"Good night Pinkie," he responded, closing his eyes. He didn't even realize he was smiling. Perhaps things weren't so bad after all.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you're not quite sure if you've won or lost.
David awoke with a start, pulled from his surprisingly comfortable sleep by a loud noise. Immediately the man sat up, fearing something had gone wrong before he realized where he was. Looking over at the room below, he saw a pink blur moving around rapidly. The earth pony jumped and hopped and kicked and sprung all around the room, for no particular reason at all. A quick glance out the window told David sunrise was not long ago, and this came to no surprise. Suddenly the noise below stopped, and he quickly turned to see what was happening now. The pink pony was looking up at him, unfazed by her earlier activities.
"Good morning Mr. David! Did ya have a good sleep?" she called cheerily, performing a cartwheel with a giggle.
"Yeah...quite good...how about you?" he replied, rubbing his eyes tiredly. He did not even begin to try and understand why she was doing what she was doing.
"Slept like a baby!" she answered, stretching her eye lids with her hooves (and somehow not toppling over in the process).
Pinkie Pie continued her strange form of exercise, while David laid his head back down to rest. With so much noise below, there was no hope of getting any more sleep, but his makeshift bed was still quite comfortable. After a few more minutes passed, Pinkie ceased her frenzied performance and made her way over to the stairs.
"Wanna come down for breakfast? The Cakes make the best pancakes in Ponyville!"
"No thank you, I'll be fine," David responded politely, ignoring his angrily protesting stomach. Evidently the pink pony did not understand the extent he wished to hide.
"Okie dokie lokie!" the earth pony replied, trotting down the stairs and leaving David in relative silence. One of the windows had been opened, so the sound of Ponyville awake and active wafted into the room, even at such early hours of the day.
As he began to count the balloons that were still hovering near the ceiling, David got to thinking about how he should proceed. Pinkie had been kind enough to not only accept him, but also open her home to him for the night. It was a pleasant turn of events, but not entirely unexpected. He knew the pink pony would be the most accepting of the bunch, but he wasn't sure how exactly she could help him with the others. Hell, he wasn't even sure if she'd keep her word from last night and keep quiet about their meeting.
He couldn't leave now, that was sure, but he didn't feel right asking more from Pinkie. Despite the danger of the situation, he did not want to take advantage of the pony's hospitality while giving nothing in return. But as it stood, he could not make his way back to the library until night had fallen on Equestria. Yet again a lack of options chose for him. He would need to try and convince Pinkie to let him stay, just until nightfall.
An hour later, Pinkie returned from breakfast as cheery as ever. David was wandering the room idly when she arrived, having come down from the balcony a few minutes prior.
"Pinkie," he began, catching the earth pony's attention. "Is it alright if I stay a little while longer?" He hoped he would not have to explain why. He couldn't honestly come up with a plausible reason.
"Of course! You can stay as long as you like!" she responded with a grin.
"I don't want to impose."
"Its no problem! I just need to help the Cakes with today's business. You'll be OK up here by yourself, right? Oh, and then I have to head over to Twilight's! You can come with me if you want!"
"That's fine, Pinkie. No, I'm afraid I won't be able to tag along. Thanks though." The likelihood she remembered their little deal was dwindling fast.
"Okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie replied, trotting past David to retrieve an apron before heading back downstairs.
That was surprisingly easy....
He had bought himself some time. The question now was, how safe was he here? Did he have to be afraid of possible visitors, even while Pinkie was away? Would the Cakes be a hazard as well? Perhaps this wasn't as easy as he thought.
His best bet lay with the balcony. If he laid low up there, he might be able to evade a visiting pony's sight so long as they didn't actually investigate the balcony itself. Retreating back to his makeshift bed, David moved the pillow to the opposite end of the sheets, allowing him to peer through the edge of the large window without making himself obvious. And that was how he would spend the day, watching the citizens of Ponyville from behind the large circular glass, his head resting on his arms which in turn rested on the pillow.
He recognized a number of ponies as he watched. Twilight, Rarity, and Applejack laughing and joking as they walked toward the market. Fluttershy accompanying Angel to some unknown destination. He even spotted Lyra and Bon Bon making their way past Sugarcube Corner at one point. He was quite sure he fell asleep a few times throughout the day, though for only a few minutes at a time.
After Pinkie left the store (he saw her depart from the window), he had mostly grown bored of watching from the window, and instead lay staring at the ceiling once more. He had some amusement knocking around a half-deflated balloon that had finally descended from the rafters, but even that grew boring after a while. During another count of the remaining balloons, his vision suddenly darkened. Had rain been scheduled today? It was rather late to start, wasn't it? He admittedly wasn't well versed on pegasus weather behavior...
Shifting his vision back toward the window, he found that it was not clouds that cast a shadow upon him, but the body of a pony, hovering just outside the window.
Rainbow Dash, to be specific.
Instinctively the man squirmed back from the window, pulling his head completely from its view in an attempt to hide. The blue pegasus had her forearms against the glass, looking around the confines of the room expectantly. Looking for Pinkie, he hoped. After a few incredibly tense minutes, Rainbow Dash departed with a frustrated sigh audible even through the glass. In a moment the pegasus had darted away, evidently off to try and locate the earth pony elsewhere. David breathed out heavily, having practically held his breath the entire time the pegasus had loomed over him.
The rest of the day had been quite boring for David. After yet another close call, however, he was more than OK with that. Pinkie arrived back home just as evening rolled around, seeming withdrawn for some reason. Instead of bounding up the stairs excitedly to tell him about her day as he expected, she practically crept up the stairs, looking around as though she was afraid of something.
"Good evening, Pinkie," he called from the balcony, moving to the wooden bars to look at the pony below. "How was your day?"
"Oh, uh, it was great. Fine. Just peachy, really!" she responded, glancing around suspiciously and giving him a nervous grin. He felt rather insulted she would think he would fall for such an act.
"Something wrong?" he asked, a sense of panic growing within him.
After a few silent moments, the pink pony cried out in resignation. "I can't take it! Mr. David I'm sorry, I didn't mean to tell her, I just forgot! Please don't be mad at me!"
Instead of getting angry with Pinkie, he felt as if he himself had messed up somehow. He felt as though he had missed something. His mind told him that Pinkie was great at keeping secrets. There was a whole episode about it! What was he forgetting-
The words had been too quiet for the lamenting pony to hear, thankfully, and the man shook himself out of his dazed realization. He would kick himself for his continued foolishness later. For now, damage control.
"What did you tell Twilight?" he asked, trying to sound calm and collective.
"I told her I met the monkey monster, that's all! I didn't mean to, and I didn't say anything else!"
David breathed out, the growing anxiety leaving him as he relaxed. He was still safe. He hoped.
"Does this mean we aren't friends anymore?" Pinkie mumbled in a low voice after a few silent moments, kicking a hoof as she frowned up at him.
"No no its alright, Pinkie. We are still friends," he responded, feeling bad for making the normally happy creature so distraught. "Just try not to tell them that I'm here, ok?"
Pinkie nodded enthusiastically, springing up and down excitedly. "I can do that!"
"Pinkie Promise?" He was covering his bases now.
"Pinkie Promise!" the pink pony replied confidently, making an X over her chest before placing a hoof over her eye. David mimicked the gesture.
Pinkie spent much of the evening regaling tales of her day, situated comfortably on her bed while he sat a few yards away, braced against a wall. She excitedly told him of the picnic she and Twilight had went on, as well as her experience at work with the Cakes. Although some things were being told too fast for him to completely understand, he enjoyed the friendly company of the earth pony. After spending almost a week in solitude, having a chat with a friend was an incredible relief for him, even if it was a pony he had just practically met.
Eventually the pink pony had tired herself out. Rather abruptly, her retelling of the day ended and suddenly she was asleep. David faired no better. Almost as soon as the pink pony drifted off to sleep, so did he, still braced against the wall with his knees brought up in front of him, his head hanging close to his chest.
Technicalities, formalities, and inconsistencies oh my!
David awoke slowly the next morning, much to his surprise. He figured he would be awoken by Pinkie's peculiar habits, but strangely she was no where to be found. Glancing at one of the windows, he found it to be just after dawn once again, the early morning sun filtering beautifully into the room, casting strange shapes of light onto the floor in front of him. He was still situated underneath the balcony, huddled against the wall. He found it amazing he had slept so readily in such a position, with the prospect of a semi-normal bed just upstairs. He must've been quite tired from a day of...waiting.
But where had Pinkie disappeared to? It was too early for her to be working. Perhaps she had other plans-
...Why had he remained in Sugarcube Corner? He had every intention, just last night, of departing for the library as soon as the sun set. Not only did he doom himself to another day of being trapped in the pink pony's room, he was also forced to ask more from his new friend. He felt terrible, even though he was sure Pinkie would have no problem with him staying another day.
As David tried to pinpoint the exact moment he had suffered brain damage (he had his money on his discovery by Pinkie, but he had been making stupid decisions long before that), he almost didn't notice the sound of voices coming up the stairs. It took a few moments for the voices to drown out his internal squabblings, prompting him to lay as flat as he could against the ground. The shadow cast by the balcony above was useful in his attempt to hide, but it wouldn't take more than a passing glance to notice he was there. Immediately he surveyed his options, of which there were few.
A small couch lay just ahead of him along the wall, lifted a few feet off the ground by thin legs. He would have considered it a place to sleep if it wasn't covered in wrapping paper, disassembled boxes, and glitter. But it would serve him yet. Pulling himself across the ground with each grasping reach, he slowly and silently slid toward the back of the couch, just as the owners of the voices reached the room. One was Pinkie's, that much he could tell, but she was not alone.
As David took shelter behind the couch, he could only see the legs of the ponies beyond, though it was more than enough to identify the visitor. Applejack, of all ponies, had come to visit Pinkie. And the pink pony herself seemed completely fine with it. No attempt to get Applejack to leave, no hasty explanation as to why, exactly, she needed to. It was as if the earth pony had forgotten their deal, again. But it was a Pinkie Promise! She would never defy such a sacred oath.
He couldn't worry about that now. He needed to maintain his cover. The plan was simple: cower behind the couch and pray Applejack did not find him. Compared to his other plans, this one was gold. Applejack seemed to be looking for something. The man watched the orange pony's hooves as she moved around, humming nonchalantly to herself. Some strange force compelled him to glance to his side, however. A pink pony with hair like cotton candy greeted him as he did, staring determinedly out in Applejack's direction.
The man nearly had a heart attack. "Pinkie!" he hissed, catching the earth pony's attention. "What the h-...what are you doing here?!"
"Why are we whispering?" Pinkie Pie responded with an exaggerated whisper, grinning innocently at David.
"Because I don't want Applejack to find me!" he hissed back, turning his focus back on the wandering orange pony ahead of them.
"Oooh, are we playing hide and seek?!"
"No!" he scolded with another quick whisper. "I told you not to tell them I'm here!"
"I didn't Mr. David! I Pinkie Promised. Applejack just came by to borrow some stuff!" Pinkie acted as if this situation was no big deal. It probably wasn't acting.
"But...but...!" David tried to argue, but he couldn't find the words to describe how the pink pony had wronged him, probably because, in truth, she didn't. Loopholes. They seemed to be a serious problem with Pinkie Promises.
As the man watched Applejack search in silence, Pinkie's attention was elsewhere. Suddenly, the earth pony rose, toppling the couch forward in the process, spilling the various objects that had rested upon it in a small torrent of noise.
"Applejack! I found it!" she called enthusiastically as she pointed to a strand of rope barely visible from behind one of the dressers, having no regard for the man attempting to hide. It took everything in David not to curse like a sailor.
"Oh, thank ye Pinkie, ah-Hey!" he heard Applejack say. Game over. The man launched himself from behind the toppled couch and ran to the other end of the room, trying to circle around Applejack to fulfill some futile hope of freedom. "Oh no ya don't, ya varmint!"
In a moment, the rope Applejack had been searching for was in her teeth and spinning skillfully above her head. In another, said rope was wrapped tightly around David's forearms, pinning his arms to his sides. The earth pony yanked back hard on the rope, flooring the man with ease. He struggled to free himself from the rope, but in seconds, he found himself bound at the legs too.
Well, at least she didn't hog tie him. Not yet at least.
"Wait wait, I can talk, I can talk!" David pleaded, hoping the revelation would again work in his favor as he tried to worm his way to the stairs. With one hoof on his back, that futile effort was ended.
"Ah don't care if ya can talk! You're what they call that 'monkey monster', aintcha?" Applejack questioned, though it didn't seem like she'd listen to reason even if he had anything to say. She was right, after all. He was the monkey monster.
"I like this game!" he heard Pinkie say, hopping excitedly over to the two. "Me next, me next!"
"Pinkie, what was this here monster doing in your room?"
"Oh, he's not a monster. He's a David! I mean, a human named David. Right Mr. David?"
"That is correct!" the man chimed in, prompting Applejack to put more weight on his back.
"Ah don't care what he is! What's he doin' in your room, Pinkie? He's dangerous!"
"Nah, he's a good friend! He's been staying with me because he doesn't have a home, which is really sad I mean, who DOESN'T have a nice cozy bed to sleep in?!"
Applejack seemed to pause for a moment to analyze what Pinkie was trying to say.
"He's not a mean old monster from the Everfree Forest, Applejack! He's just a weird talking human-thing!"
"I'll take that as a compliment," David once again chimed in, though this time Applejack did not punish him for speaking.
"Then why has he been sneakin' all over Ponyville, scarin' the townsfolk half to death?" the orange pony retorted, her confusion over the situation evident on her features.
Pinkie did not seem to have an answer.
"...Because I didn't want to be tied up and held captive?" David answered for himself.
Both Applejack and Pinkie Pie considered this answer with a thoughtful "hmm".
"Trust me, I didn't want to sneak around like I did. I just didn't know how you pony folk would take my presence here," he argued calmly, hoping the farmer would see reason. "I'm...not from around here, as you can tell."
The room went silent. Pinkie glanced excitedly between the two as David laid helplessly on the floor. Applejack was staring thoughtfully at one of the windows, her hoof gently tapping her chin.
"Ah still don't trust ya. But if Pinkie says you're a friend, ah guess ah can let ya go."
Applejack swiftly and skillfully unbound David, wrapping up the rope into a coil within seconds. The man stood up slowly, stretching out all his limbs to make sure they were still intact. A little bruised, but otherwise OK.
"I don't suppose you'd be willing to help convince the others?" David asked Applejack, who seemed to be preparing to leave.
"And I don't suppose you'd be willing to keep my existence here a secret?"
The inevitable is sometimes the most difficult to react to.
David watched as Applejack calmly and defiantly trotted down the stairs. He thought about going after her, to try and convince her, but did not want to return to the rope's merciless grasp. They had convinced her to let him go, and that was a start. He did not see her running the streets of Ponyville screaming about his presence at Sugercube Corner, but he did not see her being quiet for long either. Inevitably, she would tell the others. Inevitably, they would come to Sugarcube Corner. Some may try to harm him, some may try to understand him, but he felt like he wouldn't be making any allies just yet.
The man turned his gaze from the stairs to the the pink pony still bouncing innocently around the room. Pinkie had betrayed him, twice. But as much as he wanted to be angry, to find a single source of his problems, he couldn't. He was imposing on her to begin with, staying under her roof. He could blame her for not anticipating the full extent of her actions, but he could not blame her for his discovery. He couldn't exactly expect her to isolate herself from her friends just for his sake, after all.
But she had complicated an already complex and potentially dangerous situation. But perhaps it was necessary. Sneaking around would only dig him deeper into trouble. This outing was inevitable, but he had preferred it be done on his terms, rather than against his will. But she had no regard for his safety! But she was also his only friend in this strange new world. And she had just saved him from a humiliating fate in front of town hall for all to see.
It wouldn't be smart, then, to oust the only friendly face he had come across.
"Alright..." he said at last, turning to the pink pony, who looked up expectantly. "Please tell me your friends don't have any plans to get together today."
"My friends don't have any plans to get together today," Pinkie repeated cheerily.
"Good," he replied, turning away from the pink pony.
The earth pony bounced merrily toward the stairs, before suddenly stopping. "Oh! We're all heading down to Rarity's later to check out her newest designs! Wanna come? It'll be a blast!"
"I-...You-...I just sa-" David stammered, his hands clasped around his head. When the hell would he learn?! "...Nevermind. No, Pinkie, I think I'll stay here."
The pink pony blinked, shrugging. "Suit yourself! I'm off to work, have a great day Mr. David!" she called in a sing-song voice as she descended the stairs and disappeared from sight.
That pony truly would be the death of him. And even then, he probably wouldn't blame her.
David was a wreck. He paced the length of Pinkie's room endlessly, trying to come to a conclusion. Should he run? Would the Equestrians respond that badly? Should he just wait it out, see how they react? Should he hide, and hope they are unable to find him? How long would he have to wait until they came for him? Would they just ask him questions, or would they try to hogtie him again?
So many unanswered questions. All would be answered by tomorrow, he surmised. Again he was stuck in a sort of purgatory, confined in the pink pony's room. But instead of trying to pass the time, he felt as though he were awaiting death. Surely that was an overreaction. Surely it wouldn't be that bad...right?
Before he realized how much time he had wasted lamenting internally to himself about his situation, Pinkie returned to the room almost without him noticing her.
He might as well get a fresh perspective on all this, even though he felt as though he may regret it.
"Pinkie," he said suddenly, grabbing the bubbly earth pony's attention. "What do you think I should do?"
"About what Mr. David?" she asked innocently, her head titling slightly.
"...About Applejack? Telling your friends that I'm here? Being exposed to Ponyville?"
"Oh, that!" she responded, waving a hoof dismissively. "My friends are great! Ponyville is full of interesting ponies like them. I'm sure you'll be friends with them all in no time!"
He admired the pony's optimism.
"Thanks, Pinkie. For the advice and for the help," David said with a sigh of resignation. He fell back onto the floor, hanging his arms over his knees as he sat.
"No problem at all!" Pinkie Pie replied with a smile, mimicking the gesture a few yards away, falling back onto her haunches with a thump.
The two played a series of games to pass the time, including checkers and tic tac toe. For once David was actually enjoying himself, almost distracted enough by their simple games to forget about the complexity looming over him. Suddenly the earth pony jumped up with a gasp, her eyes locked on the window.
"I almost forgot! I have to be at Rarity's!" she declared before disappearing from the room in a blur. A moment later, however, she returned, stopping a few feet in front of David. "Are you sure you don't wanna tag along?"
"I'm sure. Have fun," he responded with a smile, gathering the materials they had amassed during their games and placing them neatly on one of the nearby tables not currently occupied by party supplies.
"Okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie Pie responded before shooting out of the room like a bright pink bullet. Now that, he wished he could learn.
David spent the next few hours in a daze, alternating between staring blankly at the ceiling and practicing his tic tac toe strategy. Pinkie had beaten him 7 to 3 during their game time, and by god he would learn to best her if it was the last thing he did. Probably because it very well could be.
In time, his bubbly roommate returned, trotting nonchalantly up the stairs just as David was enjoying another rousing game of 'count the balloons'. He sat up quickly to greet her, and to hopefully discover his fate.
"How'd it go?" he asked as Pinkie took a seat opposite to him.
"It was great! Rarity made some really pretty stuff! She's very talented, you know," she explained as David pulled out another sheet of paper and a few quills so they could continue their games of tic tac toe. He made the first move, directly at the center square.
"So I've heard," David replied simply. Pinkie, expertly manipulating a quill in her mouth, claimed the lower left corner.
"There were games and drinks and food! Rarity makes some of the best punch! We talked a lot, and Applejack told them you were here, but I didn't say a word, even after they started asking me a bunch of questions!"
David made a very sloppy X in the middle right square, almost bringing the quill off the page as Pinkie spoke.
"Is that so?" he said, his voice cracking as he tried to sound calm. Pinkie secured the middle left square with one swift motion. "I appreciate it, friend."
"I would never break a Pinkie Promise, Mr. David!" she assured, just as David drew an X on the upper left square.
"How did they respond? Were they mad, happy, intrigued, skeptical...?" he questioned, figuring he might as well get some insight if he could. Pinkie claimed the lower right corner before responding.
"All of the above!" she said with a giggle, watching as David claimed the lower middle square in retaliation. "Since it was Applejack telling the story, though, they didn't doubt her for a second!"
"I can imagine," he responded, frowning. Of all ponies to discover him, it had to be Applejack. No one would question what she discovered. Pinkie made her move at the top middle square.
A draw. At least he was getting better.
After a few more games and even more chit chat, the two decided to pack it in and go to sleep. Instead of being stuck with the floor again, however, David returned to his makeshift bed above. By the time he had scaled the stairs, Pinkie was already fast asleep, snoring softly below him. Before reaching his bed, the man gave a lingering look out the window into the darkened recesses of Ponyville, the cold dark that he used to thrive in. Nothing stirred, not even the breeze.
Panic leads to uncertainty, uncertainty breeds misjudgment, and from misjudgment comes:
David awoke in a daze the next morning, a few hours after dawn. Already he could tell something was amiss. Voices, faintly heard below, possibly outside. How could they be so loud, as to be heard from indoors? His curiosity got the better of him as he crawled over to the window and peered outside. The Cakes were standing directly below the window, along with Pinkie. His curiosity increased. They looked troubled, and in that moment his curiosity turned to fear. Had they found out? Was, perhaps, Pinkie fighting on his behalf? For all he knew, she had been the one to tip them off.
No...they seemed to be looking at something. Something in the distance. Something small, purple, and mad as hell.
Twilight Sparkle, librarian of Ponyville and student of Celestia, was storming toward Sugercube Corner, her friends following closely behind her. They seemed to be trying to communicate with her, but she did not seem to notice, or care. Her eyes were locked on Sugarcube Corner. David felt as though they were on him, even at such a distance. He could feel the unicorn's anger.
His poor choices had finally come back to bite him on the arse.
"Game over!" he cried, looking around wildly for some sort of salvation. Nothing in the room could save him. Perhaps he could sneak out the back? Snake through a few alleys, scare a few ponies half to death but ultimately escape the wrath of Twilight. As if in response to his plan, the purple pony broke out into a gallop, her friends momentarily stunned before following. Rainbow Dash easily kept up with the unicorn from the air, but even she seemed to stay a fair distance behind.
At that moment, Pinkie appeared at the top of the stairs, looking worried. "Uh, Mr. David, we have a small problem!"
"I noticed!" he responded, practically jumping off the stairs leading up to the balcony. "Do you think I have enough time to get out through the back?"
The door to Sugarcube Corner flew open with a loud bang.
David cursed inwardly. Now he had no choice. He had to stand his ground.
This wasn't going to be pretty.
David retreated a few paces back just as Twilight charged up into the room, seemingly alone. The unicorn's eyes immediately locked onto him, snorting angrily like a bull ready to charge. "YOU!" she cried, advancing with her horn trained on the man.
"Hi there little pony, my name is David, I'm a hu-" David began, trying to act as though he had never seen the unicorn before, before being interrupted by a blast of magical energy landing a few inches from his shoe. Although it impacted with an audible crack, the floor remained strangely undamaged.
"How dare you!" Twilight cried, continuing her advance as David retreated equally as much away. "You invade my home, take my things, and try to hide it from me?!"
"I know this looks bad," David began, holding his hands up. "But I was just trying to survive, honest! I had no choice!"
"You risked state of the art lab equipment for your little game!" the unicorn retorted, another blast landing a few paces in front of David. "Priceless, ancient text!"
By now David had begun to ascend the stairs to the balcony, with Twilight following only a few yards away. "Listen, I didn't mean to-"
"I don't want to hear your excuses!" she growled, her eyes narrowing.
"...If you strike me down now, I will become more powerful than you cou-AGH!" David cried as a large empty cardboard box impacted with his forehead, prompting him to stumble back against the wall. At least he tried.
The unicorn was angry, that much he knew. He needed to let her calm down. He needed time, of which he had very little. He needed to get more.
"I'm sorry, Twilight, I really am," he said calmly, reaching a hand behind him as he moved along the wall toward the window. "But if you won't accept my apology..."
His hand found the lock on the window, and he slid it up and pushed the glass out in one swift motion. Turning, the man launched himself out the two story window, into the (thankfully clear) street below.
The impact knocked the air from his lungs. He groaned. Landing flat on his stomach, the man should've died right then and there, or at the very least shattered a plethora of bones. Instead, he felt pain, a shock, and it was over. That was one burning question answered. But for now, he needed to concentrate on the present situation.
Using his arms to push himself off the ground, he had already began running before he was even upright. Numerous denizens of Ponyville had frozen in their daily activities to see what was transpiring, especially after a strange creature just dove out a window. As he ran, he looked back over his shoulder toward Sugarcube Corner. Twilight was staring out the open window as if he was insane. Then suddenly, she was gone.
In a bright flash of light, Twilight reappeared just outside the building, already mid-run in his direction.
"Cheater!" he called back as he fled, ignoring the confused ponies all around him. He had a plan, but first he needed to lead Twilight out of Ponyville. The spot where he had arrived, not far from Fluttershy's cottage....that would be their destination.
He just had to get there without being caught by the furious mare behind him. And hopefully not cause too much panic in the town in the process. Being chased by a small purple pony nearly half his size would probably ease any concerns the townsfolk may have about how dangerous he was, though.
Things were not off to a good start. Even Twilight was much faster than him. The only thing working for him now was the head start he had on the unicorn. He would need to complicate his route if he hoped to stay out of the purple pony's magical grasp, and not get lost in the process. Ponyville was quite different looking during the day...
David was now a considerable distance down the street, with Twilight in hot pursuit. He turned into one of the alleys without losing much speed, and immediately turned again in hopes of confusing his pursuer. Turning a third time, he reappeared in another major street, darting past stalls and ponies working and shopping around them. The market. He, at least, knew where he was.
A loud pop sounded not far away. In his peripheral vision, he saw Twilight appear from behind a building a few meters away in another bright flash of light. Staying low, the man attempted to blend in with the crowd, but they were having none of it. Confused and slightly scared by the appearance of such a strange creature, the ponies of the market parted to either side as he passed, offering no aid in his attempts to hide. Needless to say, it wasn't long before Twilight was right on his tail once more.
With a silent curse, he darted into yet another alley as the crowd's murmuring grew louder and louder. Much to his dismay, this one lacked any visible, immediate turns. It was a straight away, that would get him closer to his destination, but give him no opportunities to delay his pursuer. Rapid popping sounds sounded behind him, as he looked back to see what had transpired. Twilight had teleported rapidly to close the distance to him. He screamed in surprise and forced himself to run a little bit faster.
As if answering his silent prayers, the alley opened up in four directions, allowing him to twist and turn through its recesses (and even double back a few times) in an effort to lose the unicorn. He knew he would never succeed, but it would at least slow her down and put more distance between the two.
Again he appeared out in the open, and found himself a few meters from the road leading out of Ponyville toward Fluttershy's cottage. Salvation, at last! He wondered if he would get even that far, however, in such open terrain.
His pace did not slow as he surveyed his surroundings, though he did look behind briefly to check on his pursuer. She was no where to be found one moment, and uncomfortably close by the next. Damn that magic!
As the two passed by the few houses that remained this far out, David leapt over the small stream that ran near the cottage without hesitation, stumbling and almost falling as he landed on the other side. Of course, Twilight simply teleported over the gap without a second thought. Show off.
As they reached the fields, a considerable distance from civilization, David abruptly slowed to a stop and turned to face the pursuing unicorn. She slid to a stop as well, and the two shared a few silent, tense moments of staring at each other through narrowed eyes. A light breeze blew past, rustling the long grass that stood around them softly. Birds chirped innocently in the trees. A frog croaked from the stream just a few yards away. The two did not move.
Suddenly Twilight dropped low to the ground, her horn beginning to glow. David immediately thrust out his arm and assumed a combat stance, eyes burning with blind determination.
"GO, SECRET MAGIC FROM THE BOOKS I READ!"
"Aw fu-" he began, his arms falling to his sides in resignation before he was interrupted by a massive glowing field of magic engulfing every inch of his body. The next thing he knew, he was hoisted several meters into the air.
The sensation was incredible. It was both soft and solid, both blinding and magnificent to behold. He did not feel as though he was flying, but rather like a massive creature simply carried him around like a toy.
He was promptly turned upside down and dropped onto his head.
"Ow," the man called from the ditch the impact had made in the grass.
"I will now accept your apology," Twilight stated as she resumed a normal stance, smiling smugly.
"And I will gladly give it. I'm sorry," David responded, slowly rising to a sitting position, one hand rubbing his head. "I did mean what I said back there. I didn't mean to intrude, I just had no choice."
"You should have just asked me for help. It definitely would have went better than...this."
"Story of my life," he sighed, glancing around at his surroundings, and Ponyville off in the distance.
"How did you know I wouldn't just...blast you?" the unicorn asked suddenly, looking legitimately intrigued.
"If you had the inclination to do so, you would have already done it twelve times by now," David replied, getting to his feet. "The most magically attuned unicorn in Equestria missing a target only a few feet away." He scoffed.
Twilight blushed slightly at his choice of wording, before clearing her throat. "Well, then, I hope this is a lesson for you. You shouldn't take from anypony!"
"Lesson learned, believe me," the man assured with a halfhearted laugh. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to help me explain to the population why we just had a high speed chase through Ponyville?"
"Hmm...no," Twilight responded plainly. The smug look returned.
Calm does not only precede the storm, but also follows in its wake.
David stood at the threshold of equine civilization, staring silently at the town of Ponyville. His time of anonymity had come to an end. Perhaps, for the best. Despite this, he still held some reluctance about proceeding. He couldn't understand why. Tied up, chased, plummeting out of a window and man-handled with magic: what else could they do to him?
A short distance ahead of him stood Twilight Sparkle. Without a word, the unicorn started off in the direction of Ponyville. She was not keen on helping him explain to the townsfolk about what had just transpired, but perhaps she didn't need to. Perhaps if he followed her back into town, he would have a better reception with the natives.
Some small part of him kept him from moving, however. He wanted to remain in the calm tranquility of the wilderness just outside of town. The warm breeze, soft grass, and morning heat were a tempting offer. The simplicity of his surroundings was almost intoxicating. The past few days had been such a whirlwind of confusion, fear, uncertainty, and regret. He wished more than anything to relax and enjoy, his mind no longer pressured by questions and concerns.
David fell back into the grass, and stayed there.
Morning turned to day, and day turned to dusk. Wrapped in the warm embrace of the long grass beneath him, David, for once, did not think. He did not run through yet another scenario in his mind, or try to figure out some incredibly flimsy course of action for him to take. He merely enjoyed the simple comforts of the natural world, in a world that was far from natural. He listened to the chirping of the birds under the setting sun, the grass moving gracefully in the breeze. A few crickets leapt from from the blades of grass not far away. The man hadn't moved in hours, and even the wildlife seemed to forget he was there.
He was exactly where he had begun, and he felt as though he was no closer to his goal.
David's eyes opened. He was once again in the twilight of the day, but the opposite of what he had last witnessed. Dawn....he had spent the entire night out in the field. It was probably what he should have done from the beginning. Hindsight was something he had quickly grown to hate since he ended up in Equestria.
As the sun rose higher and higher into the sky, he finally sat up, craning his neck from side to side with a yawn. His body groaned in protest, as did his stomach. It had been days since he last ate, and he even then he had almost forgot about it. A distant noise to his left caught his attention, the man shifting slightly to look over the grass. A young filly was carrying a small wicker basket back from the lake. The familiarity of the situation was not lost on him.
The sound brought him back to reality rather abruptly. Turning his head, he quickly spotted the approaching form of Pinkie Pie trotting through the grass.
"Good morning, Pinkie," he greeted the bubbly earth pony, laying back in the grass with his hands behind his head.
"Twilight said you might be here," she explained, looking at his spot in the grass quizzically. "What're you doing out here anyway?"
"Nothing in particular."
"I didn't see you since you left Sugarcube Corner, and I was just wondering where you ran off to! Why didn't you come back to Ponyville?"
"Dunno. Just felt like staying out here."
Pinkie threw herself down in the grass a few feet away, laying on her back as she, too, stared up at the sky, as if expecting to see something special. "I don't think I get it Mr. David."
"There are things in this world you can never understand, Pinkie."
"Oh!" Pinkie said suddenly, kicking her hooves in the air for a moment. "Twilight said that she wanted to ask you a few questions when you got back!"
"Really?" he responded with moderate surprise.
"Yup! A few other ponies asked about you too. They were really confused after you and Twilight ran out of Ponyville yesterday! That was a pretty crazy day!"
"Huh," David said thoughtfully, still staring up at the cloudless sky. A small flock of birds darted overhead.
"Guess I'm headed back to Ponyville now! Its my day off, so me and the girls are gonna head out for another picnic before the rain starts tomorrow!" the pink pony explained, rolling to her hooves in one fluid motion. "You're welcome to come along, Mr. David," she added with some hesitation, having grown accustomed to the answer already.
"You know what?" David responded, shifting to a sitting position once more. "I think I will."
"Really?!" Pinkie gasped, clearly taken off guard by his words.
"Yep. Lead the way," he replied as he stood, gesturing toward Ponyville. The pink pony was bouncing happily in place.
"Yes, sir!" she said with an enthusiastic salute, before bouncing away in the direction of Ponyville. David, smiling, followed.
The two circled around the edge of Ponyville, toward a series of brilliant green hills. The little speck of paradise seemed close to the Apple family orchards. Before he could see the farm itself, he could smell the delicious apples the family of farmers prided themselves on. His stomach growled angrily at this.
"Oooh, this looks like a good spot!" Pinkie said as they climbed one of the many hills. From the top, David had quite the view of their surroundings. Ponyville in the distance, Sweet Apple Acres to one side, and brilliant green grass as far as the eye could see. He almost lost himself in observing the vibrant world around him. As he turned back, he saw Pinkie carefully unloading a wicker picnic basket.
"...Where did you ge-No, no, nevermind. Here, let me help," David offered, helping the earth pony lay down a large sheet on the grass. Pinkie had (somehow) brought a few bits of food with her in the basket, though most of the contents of the basket were plates and other utensils. In no time at all, they had set up a pleasant little picnic area overlooking much of their surroundings, partially shaded by a nearby tree (but not too close as to risk contamination).
Several idle minutes of chit chat passed before the others were spotted in the distance. David was situated at one end of the sheet, his legs folded beneath him. Pinkie sat on her haunches a few feet away, at the corner of the sheet. Even with the basket and plates around, there was easily enough room to accommodate all five of the pink pony's friends.
As they drew closer, David watched carefully to observe their reactions. Applejack and Rainbow Dash led the group. The former raised a brow when she spotted David, and the latter looked somewhat surprised for a moment, before the expression was lost completely. Next were Rarity, Fluttershy, and Twilight all walking side by side. Rarity seemed quite surprised, maybe a little taken aback by his presence there. Fluttershy seemed to hesitate for a moment, as was expected. Twilight smiled slyly, amused with the change of events.
All in all, no immediate signs of trouble.
"Good morning everypony!" Pinkie greeted cheerily as they all approached. Rarity, Fluttershy, and Applejack were carrying various containers, evidently with food inside them, which they placed at the center of the sheet with the rest of the supplies. Places were already set for them in a small circle around the blanket.
"Hello ladies. It's nice to finally meet you all. I'm David," the man introduced himself with a short nod. The five assembled ponies said their hellos, some more easily than others. Pinkie quickly went over the introductions.
"This is Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, and, oh, you know Applejack and Twilight!" she explained swiftly, bobbing up and down behind each of them as she went along before returning to her seat.
"David huh?" Rainbow Dash said, already cracking open one of the containers to get to the food inside. It was some sort of apple pastry. "You're that monkey monster, right? Thunderlane said you were ten feet tall with a mane like fire." She sounded disappointed.
"I'm afraid he's mistaken," he said with a slight smile, reaching for one of the cupcakes Pinkie had brought. His stomach was practically moving his body all on its own, now that he was surrounded by incredible food.
"You're not really a monkey though, right?" Rarity asked as she dabbed her mouth with a napkin. "I can't say I'm quite fond of the little beasts."
"Apes would be a closer relation, I think. Monkeys have tails and are usually much smaller than apes," Twilight explained as she cut herself a piece of cake, the knife she used glowing brightly with her magic.
"I'm a human. A far cry from an ape, but close enough," David replied, making sure to swallow before speaking. Just because he was in an alien cartoon world did not mean he should forget his manners. "'Homo sapien'."
"'Wise man'," Twilight replied, seemingly captivated by the discussion.
"Ah wouldn't go so far as to call ya wise," Applejack chimed in with a smirk.
"Oh believe me, we're on the same page on that front." The two laughed.
"Yeah yeah, enough of this book worm stuff. Pinkie, pass me the mashed potatoes!" Rainbow interjected, reaching half way across the sheet to receive a container from Pinkie.
"So, 'David', if you don't mind me asking: where are you from, exactly? I've never seen a 'human' before," Rarity asked, quite intrigued.
"Far, far away. Us humans have never come to Equestria before." He wasn't lying, at least.
"How did you get so far from your homeland?" Twilight questioned, once again looking quite invested in the conversation.
"I'm not really sure. One minute I'm home getting ready for bed, and the next, I'm in a field a few miles outside Ponyville."
The ponies voiced their sympathy.
"What kind've sports do they have in human-land?" Rainbow asked as she scooped out another helping of mashed potatoes. "You gotta have those arms for a reason."
"Oh, oh, what kind've games do they have?! Do humans play board games? Oh, but you were playing checkers just the other day! You were a natural!" Pinkie chimed in excitedly, before hungrily consuming a slice of pie.
"All kinds of sports. Football, soccer, hockey. Lots of running around and tackling in most of the big name stuff," David explained calmly, taking a bit of green beans for himself. "As for games, I couldn't even begin to count them all. Board games, physical games, video games..."
"What's a video game?" Pinkie inquired with a tilt of her head.
"A virtual game were you try to accomplish some goal or another. Like a movie, but with artificial visuals and the ability to interact with whats going on." He found it rather difficult to find the words to describe a video game accurately. It was the kind of thing he never really thought about.
"That sounds amazing!" Twilight replied, almost completely forgetting about her food at this point. "Human technology must be very advanced."
"What kind of animals do...they..." Fluttershy began, her voice slowly fading as she realized all eyes were upon her.
"A lot of the same. Rabbits, squirrels, raccoons," David explained, scratching his chin thoughtfully. "Do you have elephants here in Equestria?"
The ponies' confused expressions answered for him.
"Ah. Well, perhaps not all the same then."
"I also couldn't help but notice you are wearing clothes, darling. Is it tradition for humans to wear formal attire to such small events?" Rarity questioned.
"Its...custom for humans to wear clothes at most times." Rarity found this quite shocking indeed.
"My my, perhaps I should relocate! I design and sell clothes. I'd imagine such a calling is very desirable where you're from."
The conversation continued like this for quite a while. David was asked many questions about the culture of humanity, but eventually the ponies shifted to their own business. He kept up with the conversation readily enough, and by the time they were all set to leave, the experience had been a pleasant one.
"It was nice meeting you all," David said with a nod as the ponies departed after assisting in the cleanup. They each said their goodbyes. Even Fluttershy had began talking above a whisper by the end. He considered that quite the achievement.
"Oh and, don't worry about those apples ya took," Applejack mentioned as she trotted by.
"How did you..." David began, the orange earth pony smirking as she caught up with the others.
Twilight and Pinkie, meanwhile, had remained behind. "I was wondering," Twilight began as David was helping Pinkie fold the sheet. "Would you be willing to come down to the library and answer a few more questions? I'd love to learn more about your species."
"I think I'll have to take a rain check on that. I'm pretty whooped. Maybe another time?" he responded politely, smiling. The unicorn nodded, returning the smile.
"Feel free to stop by when you get the chance," she offered before trotting off toward Ponyville.
"See!" Pinkie chimed in as Twilight disappeared over the hills. "You'll make all sorts of friends in Ponyville!"
Ponyville. That was one hurdle he had yet to truly face.
Fitting in in a new environment can be hard. This is especially the case when you are an alien with a reputation for being a monster.
The sun began to drift lazily from the sky as David and Pinkie made their way back toward Ponyville. The wind went from a pleasing break from the warm sun to a biting cold in the chilly evening air. Had they spent that much time at the picnic? He supposed it didn't really matter now. He had to focus on getting through Ponyville without inciting a panic.
Fear of his own demise had largely passed, at least coming from the denizens of Ponyville. He was much more afraid of a public outcry at this point. He hoped that his close proximity to Pinkie would keep things from getting too out of hand. After all, the town did not descend into chaos when he was bolting through its recesses with one of their own on his tail. Why should a calm stroll during the evening hours incite any different response?
Despite this, his mind remained a flurry of concern as they made their way into Ponyville proper. The few ponies they encountered on their way inside, of all different races, eyed him uneasily and some murmured behind his back, but otherwise did not react to his presence. Pinkie seemed ignorant of it all, happily bouncing down the street, waving and greeting a few ponies along the way. Most of them were ones he didn't recognize from the show. He could've sworn that she had greeted the same ponies more than once as well.
David took note of the homes that he passed. They all seemed almost uniformly the same size, but differed considerably in appearance. A few lights were visible from the outside, casting their brilliance into the darkened street beyond. A few windows slammed shut as they passed. He was no doubt the cause. It felt very strange, to be regarded like this. To be regarded as something so alien that it was frightening...
As they headed further into town, the number of ponies around them increased, as did the reactions. At least the few ponies they encounter on their way in had the decency to whisper when they spoke about him. The ones on the market street were having a full conversation about him while he stood but a few feet away. "Monster" and "strange" were thrown around quite often. The former would normally concern him, but no doubt they were just confirming his identity as the fabled "monkey monster". He had a feeling that would haunt him for quite a while.
The markets were quite active, even though it seemed close to the time when most ponies slept. He found himself drawn to a scene of two ponies arguing over prices. It was oddly strange to him; it seemed devoid of true malice. They weren't exactly pleasant about it, but it was very different from the arguing he was used to in his world. Seemingly the same, but not at the same time. Unnatural, but in a good way. Equestria was not a sea of sunshine and rainbows to make him want to gag, but it lacked the inherent aggression, heartbreak, and...evil of the world he knew. No one wanted to hurt each other, even if they acted as if they were about to. How interesting...
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADER MONSTER CATCHERS!" The sound left him with a ringing in his ear.
Oh hell how didn't he see this coming?
"Pinkie, I think we need to leave, now!" David urged. Pinkie had stopped at one of the stalls to chat with the owner. A lot of attention had been drawn to them with the Crusader's cry, even though the fillies themselves were no where in sight. A crowd had begun to form around them, and the bubbly earth pony seemed none the wiser.
"Something wrong, Mr. David?" she asked innocently, turning from her conversation to gaze up at him.
"In case you haven't noticed, we seem to be the center of attention right now," he murmured, glancing around worriedly. He hadn't seen or heard the Crusaders since their initial appearance. What were they up to?
"Huh. That's funny. What's everypony looking at?" Pinkie asked, moving from one side of the crowd to the other as if trying to deduce what was happening. Following their gaze, she once again found herself staring at David.
"Can we just get to Sugarcube Corner?" David practically growled to the pink pony, his eyes ever watching the crowd. The Crusaders had done considerable damage without even revealing themselves. He didn't really want to add "being mauled by fillies in front of audience" to his list of embarrassing encounters in Equestria. He wasn't particularly afraid of the enthusiastic trio, but he couldn't exactly lay the smack down on a bunch of kids. It was an awkward situation he would like to avoid.
"Okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie said with a smile, trotting off in the direction of what he hoped to be safety. David followed closely, keeping his eyes on the ponies they passed. The crowd had parted immediately as they tried to push through. Rather convenient, but it also left them quite exposed.
Much to David's surprise, they made it back to Sugarcube Corner without incident. The Crusaders were no where to be found even as they left the crowded market and entered the store where Pinkie called home. The Cakes were, of course, awake. They seemed a little caught off guard, noticing David as he entered while they ran back and forth from the store front to the kitchen. He assumed they had gotten the initial shock out of the way the previous day. The two little foals, Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake, sat not far away, playing with an assortment of toys. Of course, they regarded David as they did any stranger, regardless of the fact that he wasn't exactly normal.
"Excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Cake," David began as the two were making another trip from the kitchen to the front of the store. They jumped a little as he caught their attention, but nonetheless stopped to let him speak, nervous smiles on their features. "I just had to say: I'm sorry for intruding."
"Oh, it's not a problem, dear!" Mrs. Cake said nervously, shaking her head. "Pinkie's friends are always welcome here."
"Besides," Mr. Cake began, setting down a carton of pastries on the counter. "It was Pinkie's decision to let you stay. Sure, she lives here in Sugarcube Corner, but her life is her own. If she wants to open her home to her friends in need, that's her business," he explained with a smile. "Within reason, of course," he added with a nervous chuckle.
"Yeah, she's quite the giving pony," David responded, glancing over at Pinkie as she played with the Cake twins. The only real friend he had at this point. Hopefully he would find more in time. "Good night," David said with a short nod to the Cakes. They returned the gesture, and went back to work.
David made his way upstairs without waiting for Pinkie. He wasn't lying when he said he was beat. He felt as though the expression was literal. The past few days had drained him, mentally and physically. Now that things seemed to be improving, even slightly, the unnaturally driven state of being he was in seemed to melt away, leaving him to deal with the fatigue he had accumulated over those days. He just wanted to sleep.
Climbing the balcony stairs, he practically threw himself onto his makeshift bed. Despite being comprised of a pillow and some sheets, he felt as though it was the most comfortable thing in the world. He would worry about the next few steps in the morning. What to do with Twilight's request, with pursuing his own course. What he would do about a place of his own. He still felt terrible about staying under the pink pony's roof, even if she didn't. He had a lot to think about. One thing was certain, however.
Knowledge is a powerful thing, but there are some things better left unknown.
By the time David awoke the next day, he found it was already past noon. Again he hadn't been awoken by Pinkie's odd routine. Perhaps he had just learned to sleep through it. Upon further inspection, however, he discovered she was no where to be found. Almost instinctively he peered out of the window, half expecting another impending disaster. Much to his relief, all seemed normal. She must have gone to work with the Cakes for the day.
The man slowly rose from his makeshift bed, stretching his arms toward the ceiling with a yawn. He cast a lingering glance out of the window once again, watching the daily affairs of the ponies below. He was no longer forced to hide in the shadows, but he was by no means accepted into Ponyville's culture. He was still an outcast, but that could change. He took comfort in Pinkie's faith in him, even if it was foolish to do so. Ever the optimist, that pony.
He weighed his options. He could wander aimlessly around Ponyville, trying to ease the town's concerns toward him by blending with their daily habits. Or he could visit the library, get his damned journal back, and answer a few questions. Perhaps he would even ask a few himself. There was much about Equestrian culture the show did not reveal to its audience. Twilight, as a scholar, would be the ideal pony to ask about such things.
Curiosity and boredom getting the best of him, David made his way downstairs. Pinkie was manning the counter, while the Cakes were busy in the kitchen. A few ponies were milling about as they waited for their orders. Pinkie greeted him kindly, which he returned, but the others stared at him in silence, clearly unnerved by his presence. After a quick, casual chat with Pinkie, he departed, figuring it probably wasn't a good idea to stick around the store during business hours, lest he chase away the Cake's customers.
The market was even more crowded than he had seen the evening before, as was expected. The situation from the previous night seemed to repeat itself for the most part. Where he walked, the crowds split before him. Around him he could feel ponies watching him, and occasionally heard a comment or two made too loud in his presence. Strange, monkey, monster, weird; it would take a while for him to get used to it all. Back in his world, he was average. This much attention, this much caution and uncertainty...it was depressing, to say the least.
The trip to the library was a short one with his incredible power to move through crowds at a steady pace. He almost pulled the door open immediately, instinctively, before realizing he should probably knock first, especially since he wasn't on very good terms with the librarian inside on the subject of privacy. With some reluctance, he knocked on the large wooden door.
"Its open!" he heard a muffled voice say within.
"No shit..." he found himself murmuring before he could stop himself with a hand over his mouth. Regardless, it was an odd expression for the unicorn to use, what with the lack of door locks.
Pulling the door open, David stepped in and gently closed it behind him. Instinct had once again taken hold, seeming as if he was sneaking around again. This was going to be a very strange habit...
As he turned around, he found not only Twilight and Spike staring at him at the center of the room, but also a magnificent creature much larger than the librarian herself. Flawless white and adorned with an incredible crown and other jewels, the pony had both a unicorn's horn and a pegasus' wings. An alicorn.
Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria.
"I, uh, thought...came here for...questions, um," he stammered, recoiling back at the discovery. They seemed as if they were waiting for him. "Did I come at the wrong time?"
"No, David, you are just in time," Twilight said with a smile, gesturing to a couch nearby. "Please, take a seat, then we can begin the questions. I can't wait to get started!"
"Uh...no offense, ma'am, but what are you doing here?" he asked, the question, of course, directed at the alicorn before him. She smiled, closing her eyes.
"After you contacted me, I told Twilight to keep me informed as she tried to locate the source of the letter," Celestia explained calmly, sipping from some tea that the unicorn had prepared for her with use of her magic. "After she found it was you, David, and informed me that you may be dropping by to answer a few questions, I decided to stop by to ask you a few of my own."
"I see..." David said, scratching his head nervously. He did not particularly like this situation. He felt grossly unprepared to be dealing with the ruler of Equestria herself. Akin, by many, to a god...he was more than a little intimidated. Remembering Twilight's offer, he slowly moved away from the door and took a seat where she had indicated.
"Where exactly is the human homeland?" Twilight asked, dropping a map of Equestria and some of the lands beyond in front of him. "If you could identify it on the map, I would really appreciate it."
"I'm afraid its not that simple," he muttered, staring at the map as he rubbed his chin with one hand. Suddenly he looked up. "...How did you know I was coming by today? I never said a specific date."
"Oh, uhh," Twilight stammered, giving him a nervous smile. "You seemed like a nice guy, so I figured you wouldn't keep me waiting like that!" She laughed nervously. She suddenly became very serious. "What do you mean, its not so simple?"
He sat in silence, deep in thought. Was it right to explain just what was going on? To tell them they were nothing but fiction? If he lied to them, to Celestia, he would never find a means to return home. But...to say that their entire way of life was just something thought up for a children's TV show...
"I'm...Humanity, my race, is not just from another land, Twilight," he said lowly, placing his head in his hands. "I am from another world. Another dimension, or something. Humanity does not exist in your reality, at least as far as I know."
He looked up, beholding the stunned expressions of both ponies. One, an incredibly intelligent scholar. The other, a wise and ancient creature. Both left at a loss for words. He found it odd they believed him so quickly, with no apparent evidence. He had to be missing something.
"Dude..." Spike chimed in, but did not elaborate.
"That's...incredible..." Twilight trailed off. "How in the world did you get here, David?" He knew it wasn't an actual question. She knew his answer already: he was just as clueless as her on that front. He just shook his head.
"This is very troubling," Celestia said plainly, looking quite worried for such a normally calm and dignified creature. "Magic has allowed unicorns to travel great distances, even leap back in time. But entire worlds? Dimensions? It is unheard of."
"I figured as much," David sighed, leaning back in his seat. "I feel it to be a futile effort to ask about ways to get back."
Both ponies bowed their heads. They had no comforting remark to make, no unlikely hope to reveal to him. He had long since come to accept this.
"I will investigate to the best of my abilities," Celestia declared sternly but calmly. "When did you arrive in Equestria?"
"A little over a week ago, I'd say," he replied with a nod. "Sorry," he added to Twilight, grinning nervously.
"Hmm..." the Princess mused aloud, walking over to a nearby window to stare outside. "I felt a disturbance that day. A spark of something, felt all the way from Canterlot. Unnatural, alien. I had never felt anything like it," she explained, turning back to look at them. "I asked my staff if anything had happened, a disaster or some other dreadful thing. When I was given the all clear, I dismissed my concerns."
"I felt the same thing, Princess," Twilight agreed, looking thoughtfully at the ground. "I went out to make sure everything was alright, but I didn't investigate any further."
"We may yet find a way to return you to your people, David," the ruler of Equestria said with a smile. A moment of silence passed. "I must go," Celestia declared suddenly, heading toward the door. "Twilight, I ask that you send me a copy of your notes when you are done."
"Of course, Princess."
"Farewell my student. Farewell David."
And with that, the Princess was gone. Without even opening the door, the alicorn disappeared in a bright flash of golden light. David breathed out a sigh of relief.
"You know, this wasn't exactly what I signed up for."
"I'm sorry David, but if anypony has a chance at finding a way for you to return home, it would be the Princess," Twilight explained with a soft smile. "It was best that she know as soon as possible."
"I suppose," David replied with a sigh of resignation, his hands clasped together behind his head as he leaned back.
"May we continue the questions?" the unicorn librarian asked with an enthusiastic grin, a quill and pad hovering not far from her head. David nodded.
More questions about human culture came forth. Spike had retreated upstairs almost as soon as they began. What kind of relationship we had with each other, what we wore, how we made things. David answered as best as he could, but he wasn't exactly an expert on all things human. Some questions, however, are easier to answer than others.
"What is the diet of a human?" Twilight asked suddenly, writing something down on the pad with a quick scribble.
"Uh..." David hesitated. "We're omnivores."
"Do equines like the ones you've seen here live in your world?"
"Yes. But they don't talk."
"Do you eat them?!"
"No!" David retorted with a yell. Twilight was not angry or upset, but seemed as if she was accusing him of murder. "Well, some of us do..."
Twilight looked taken aback.
"But not me, not me!" David assured, waving his hands in front of him. "Not all cultures have the same standards for food. Besides, some humans eat other humans, and we don't exactly look upon them with pride."
Twilight's shock turned to disgust. Perhaps that was not the best way to justify what he said.
"Next question, if you please," David murmured.
The remaining questions were far less interesting. Eventually, after what he guessed to be a few hours, Twilight had started to run out of things to ask. He felt as though this should have come a long time ago, considering the nature of the things she was asking toward the end. What was deodorant? What was underwear? Why did we wear it?
He took this opportunity to ask a few of his own questions.
"Twilight," he began, prying the unicorn's attention away from her notes. "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions now? About Equestria?"
"Sure," she said, blinking.
"How did the alicorns come to be?" David asked, moving closer to the edge of his seat. He had a considerable interest in Equestrian mythos.
"I...don't know," Twilight said simply. She seemed as perplexed at this as he did, initially. As if she had never even thought of it before.
"You never asked your mentor?"
"No, I guess I never did," the unicorn retorted with a shrug. She did not seem upset or intrigued by this lack of knowledge.
"How many alicorns are there?" David questioned with a little more force. A scholar like Twilight not knowing such things; it was more than a little disturbing.
"Well, there's Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and Princess Cadance."
"I'm...not sure, sorry."
"How about Discord?" David was practically yelling at this point. "Where did he come from?"
"I don't know, David," Twilight said, once again completely at peace with this fact. "How do you know so much about our history?"
"That's not important," David replied hastily, though the question did bring him back to reality. What the hell was going on?
"Twilight..." he began, looking the unicorn square in the eyes. "How do ponies reproduce?"
The librarian blushed. "Y-you don't know...? Is it really that different in your world?"
"You don't appear to have any genitals."
David awoke with a gasp, sitting upright in his makeshift bed, covered in sweat. He was back in Sugarcube Corner. Was...was it all a dream? He remembered it so clearly...
"Oh hi Mr. David!" Pinkie called from below, staring up at him from the top of the stairs. David crawled hastily to the railing at the edge of the balcony. "How'd it go over at Twilight's? You were over there for ages!"
Answers are rarely given freely. To find the truth, one must search. Truth, however, is not always easy to take.
"Pinkie..." David began, slowly rising, his eyes locked on the pink pony. "Did...when did I get home from the library?"
"Dunno," Pinkie responded as she bounced over to the center of the room. She looked up at him, tilting her head slightly. "When I got back, you were already asleep! Don't you remember walking home Mr. David?"
David shook his head slowly, running a hand nervously through his hair. His mind was racing. What had happened? He was at an interview with Twilight. Celestia had been there initially, asked about his arrival, and departed. Twilight asked a lot of questions, some quite unnecessary. Then he asked a few. He asked about...and then he was back at his room...
Was Twilight responsible? Was she offended by his question, and struck out against him? Surely he would remember the initial attack, at least. Besides, it wasn't exactly in her nature. She was a scientist, and they were two different species. Asking about such things was not childish or perverse in the quest for knowledge; it was simply science.
But he could not know for sure. Everything after his last question was completely missing. It did not hurt to recall that time, as if it was a repressed memory of some sort. It simply did not exist. He needed answers, and Twilight would hopefully provide some. But he needed to proceed carefully, ask the right questions, lest he stumble into another...whatever the hell that was.
As he climbed down the stairs from the balcony, deep in thought, he almost didn't notice the light filtering in from the windows. Morning. He had slept the remainder of the previous day, evidently. This only increased his concern. By now Pinkie had returned to her own strange activities, and merely wished him a happy farewell as he descended the stairs into Sugarcube Corner proper.
A short, determined walk later, he was knocking on the door to the library once again. A few minutes of silence passed before the door was opened. Twilight stood in the doorway, and regarded him with a smile. "Good morning David. Back so soon?"
This wasn't exactly the attitude of someone who attacked him. Already he was getting answers, but he needed more information before he was satisfied.
"Hi Twilight," he began, glancing around worriedly. "Do you mind if I come in?"
"Not at all. I was just doing a bit of tidying up," Twilight explained, trotting back into the library as David followed. The door was closed behind him, no doubt by the unicorn's magic.
"I need to ask you about yesterday. About the interview," David asked tentatively, recoiling a little in anticipation of another blackout. So far, nothing had happened.
"Oh, yes! It was very helpful. I sent the Princess a copy of my notes shortly after you left," Twilight responded happily, returning to one half-emptied bookcase. She began sorting through the books stacked on the floor, swiftly replacing them on their respective shelves.
"Ah. Good," David responded, trying to sound as convincing as possible. In reality, the unicorn's words troubled him. Even she had some recollection of his departure. Why didn't he? He was afraid to ask for details.
"Something wrong, David?"
"Do you remember the questions I asked you?" David questioned tentatively, hoping the ambiguity of the question would prevent a similar disaster.
"Yes, I do. I'm sorry I couldn't help. It seems history involving the time before the Princesses' reign is not my specialty."
She didn't seem like she was purposely avoiding the last question he asked, as if embarrassed, for herself or for him. She acted as if it was never asked. Perhaps it wasn't.
"I see. That's alright, I was just curious. I appreciate the effort," David responded with a weak smile. Twilight returned the smile before returning to her work. "I just wanted to make sure everything went alright. Towards the end there, my memory is a bit foggy..."
"Hmm," the librarian mused aloud, turning to regard him. "That's strange. You seemed fine when you left."
"I think I'll just rest a bit more. Thanks again for the help."
"My pleasure," Twilight replied with another smile, turning back to her books. "Hope you feel better soon!" she called as he exited the library. He sighed. He had a lot on his plate. As if settling in Ponyville wasn't enough of a task.
As he wandered aimlessly through the streets of Ponyville, David ran through a number of possible theories. Perhaps Twilight was part of a very dedicated lie, that involved erasing his memories? Even for him, that sounded paranoid. He noticed now, however, a number of strange things he had seen since his arrival in Ponyville. Stranger, of course, than talking ponies and the like. Things strange even for Equestria. His lack of bodily functions or odor. Inconsistencies and oddities involving structures and ponies alike.
This was a literal world of Equestria, errors and frailties included. It had to be. What didn't exist in canon, didn't exist in the world at all.
Or that was the theory, anyway.
This wasn't as simple as it seemed, however. Ponies have never had to contend with the likes of him. Reacting to humans was, then, not canon. Therefore, his very existence there was a paradox, not unlike what he had caused the night before. And yet here he was. There was something he was missing. There was a line somewhere about what the universe could take, and evidently he crossed it at some point.
Twilight did not know about the origins of the alicorns because she couldn't know. But the universe did not regard that as a paradox; she just didn't know the information. But when he addressed the other issue...it had no way to protect itself.
He felt as if he were going mad.
It took this thought to make him realize that he was standing as still as stone in the middle of the Ponyville market, staring blankly off into the sky. The Equestrians around him gave him a wide berth at this point, growing uneasy. More than usual were staring and whispering, wondering why he was acting as strangely as he was by the sound of it. He cleared his throat nervously and quickly made his way toward the opposite end of the market, in the direction of Rarity's boutique.
David had enough of this metaphysical nonsense. He needed some damn clothes; he had been wearing the same set for over a week now. Although they did not seem any dirtier, he was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Hopefully Rarity would be able to assist him. Although he did not have any money, he didn't see it as a problem. She was the element of generosity, after all.
After the first knock, the door was flung open and Rarity stood before him, grinning wildly.
"Welcome darling! How can I help you today?"
She opened her eyes, and her enthusiastic demeanor faded instantly.
"Oh. David was it?" she said simply, looking up at him with some hesitation. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"I was looking for some clothes, actually," he replied with a smile, hoping it wasn't too outlandish of a request.
"Really?" Rarity replied, thoroughly surprised. "Thankfully for you, I'm not one to shy away from a challenge. Come in, come in!"
The unicorn moved aside to let him in, before shutting the door behind him. The interior of the boutique was almost blinding in its color, much like Pinkie's room, but with a lot more shine. The scent of strong perfume hung in the air. Incredibly intricate patterns, designs, and entire outfits were displayed all around. Rarity truly was a master of her trade.
"Take a seat, darling. I will be right with you."
David sat in the indicated seat (a very expensive looking couch) in silence. A few minutes later, Rarity returned from the depths of the store, a collection of fabric hovering around her. She quickly arranged the supplies in front of him. As he was admiring them, however, the unicorn suddenly stepped between him and the fabric.
"Pardon me for being so forward, dear, but how exactly do you intend to pay for my services?"
"I don't have any money, I'll admit," David replied after a moment's hesitation. Rarity's eyes narrowed. "I'm willing to repay you in some other way, though. Information, help, whatever really. I...just don't have any other clothes."
The white mare continued to stare at him intensely for several moments. He was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Suddenly she grinned and turned back toward the fabric.
"Nonsense! I will consider it an act of mercy in the name of fashion. A gift, if you will," Rarity explained, digging around in the fabric with clear determination. David breathed out slowly. Perhaps things would go smoothly after all.
Rarity spent the next half hour taking various measurements while simultaneously asking him a variety of questions. Were the clothes formal or informal? What material would he like them to be made of? What color would he prefer? She seemed almost disappointed with his answers for run-of-the-mill clothing. She wasn't lying when she said she enjoyed a challenge.
And a challenge it was. Designing for a human was very different from designing for a pony. The plain blue jeans he was wearing were all but a mystery to her. She opted for him to simply take them off so she could study them, but he asserted his need for them to remain on, basing his claim on the tradition and honor of his race. She did not press any further after that.
After another hour of poking, prodding, and questioning, Rarity had seemingly gathered all she needed. "You may go if you wish. I should have your clothes ready by sundown."
"Thank you. Good luck," David said with a smile as he headed for the door. He doubted if Rarity even heard him. She was already heading to the back of the boutique to work as he was walking out of the door.
Well, with any luck, that was one problem solved. Only several hundreds remained...
Progress, like many things, rarely occurs naturally. For things to improve, you must work, and as with many things, this is easier said than done.
David wandered aimlessly through Ponyville, ignoring the lingering stares and nervous mutterings around him. As strange as it made him feel, he felt it best to ignore it rather than try to prevent it or reason with the ponies. Such a thing would undoubtedly make things worse.
He considered his next course of action. He had a considerable amount of time to wait for Rarity to finish his new clothes. For once, he did not have any pressing engagements or circumstances that needed immediate tending. He was free to pursue his own objective, whatever it may be. He contemplated simply returning to Sugarcube Corner to rest, but the idea of spending more time indoors with nothing to do was not very enticing. He had spent enough time hiding during his stay in Equestria.
Perhaps he would try to familiarize the denizens of Ponyville with himself. Or, more specifically, some of Pinkie's friends, most of whom did not seem to have any negative opinion about him. After the picnic, he believed it to be quite the contrary. He had already spent more than enough time with Twilight (and did not wish to answer any more strange questions for the time being), Rarity was busy with his request, and Pinkie was preoccupied working for the Cakes. That left Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy.
Fluttershy was likely still quite terrified of him, Applejack was probably the most likely to dislike him, considering their previous encounters, and Rainbow Dash seemed like a difficult pony to find, let alone try to befriend. As much as he wanted to avoid potential disaster, he needed more allies in this alien world, especially with the general population wary of his presence. As he continued to debate which path to pursue first, he found himself at the southern end of Ponyville, near the road leading to Sweet Apple Acres.
"...As good a start as any. Applejack it is."
He found the trip to Sweet Apple Acres to be far more comfortable during the day. Quiet and peaceful, drifting further and further from pony civilization. Rolling green pastures surrounded him, with the farmhouse and the orchards slowly rising ahead of him. In no time at all, he was surrounded by hundreds of apple trees. In the day, and under better circumstances, he found the farmhouse to be considerably less intimidating. It stood instead as a monument to the Apple family's success, a centerpiece to the farmland on which they worked.
As he approached, he could not spot any of the Apple family nearby. Applejack and Big Mac were likely working the orchards, so this was to be expected. As David circled around the side of the farmhouse toward one of the nearby barns, he spotted a few small figures in the distance. Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo standing in a circle just outside the barn, talking and laughing with one another. They appeared to be wearing clothes (odd for a pony, he had come to know), and numerous instruments lay around them. With what appeared to be plain tan hard-hats and vests, they seemed as if they were about to go on a jungle adventure. The throwing net and butterfly net laying around them worried him further.
Cutie Mark Crusader Monster Catchers. He wondered when this would come back to bite him.
Slowly and carefully David backed out toward the front of the farmhouse, his eyes locked on the assembled ponies to make sure he wasn't noticed. As he retreated safely out of sight, he breathed a sigh of relief and set off at a swift jog down the road, back toward Ponyville.
"Fluttershy it is then!"
Fluttershy's cottage was familiar territory for the man. The fields nearby had hosted his arrival, as well as his confrontation with Twilight. Rather than cross into Ponyville to get there, however, he circled around on the edge of town, finding it easier on himself and the population to avoid more uneasiness. A short time later, he found himself on the road toward the cottage, where homes were few and wandering ponies were even fewer.
Fluttershy's Cottage was a small paradise even in a magical place like Equestria. Surrounded by (and even built out of) the natural world, it was truly a sight to behold. A gentle stream flowed under the arch that connected the cottage to the road leading into the fields, while beautiful plants bloomed all around the building itself. The sounds of animals surrounded him, both those he had grown accustomed to and those he did not recognize. Occasionally he would glimpse movement leading to or from the cottage itself; presumably the animals that visited the pegasus.
He proceeded cautiously up the slope toward the front door of the cottage; he was on the lookout for any potential dangers. Fluttershy was known to befriend the likes of Manticores, so it was not outside the realm of possibility for her to have something dangerous nearby. And as easily frightened as she was, he did not want to be labeled an enemy by a protective friend of hers.
David knocked a few times on the large wooden door, wondering silently if the pegasus was even home. A few tense moments later, the door swung open, revealing a smiling Fluttershy. As she saw him, though, the smile disappeared, and she seemed to shrink back into the cottage. He frowned.
"Oh...David..." she muttered, looking away nervously. "Can I h-help you with anything?"
"I was just wondering the same," he said with a smile, hoping to lift the pegasus' spirits. "I'm trying to make up for scaring Ponyville by helping out some of its residents," he explained, though he wasn't exactly being truthful. "Do you have anything I could help you with? Animals that need tending, house that needs cleaning?"
Fluttershy looked a bit taken aback by this. She glanced from him to the floor repeatedly.
"I assure you, I won't bite."
Fluttershy gave him a weak smile at this, straightening up with some effort, and actually looked him in the eyes. "I could use some help moving a few things in the back," she explained, suddenly dropping low to the ground. "You know...if you want to..." Her ears drooped to the sides of her head.
"Sounds easy enough. I'm in," David replied with a grin, clapping his hands together, trying to maintain a positive attitude to try and encourage the same from the yellow pegasus. "Lead the way, if you please."
Fluttershy stepped to the side to allow him entrance, and the two swiftly made their way deeper into the building. Fluttershy tried to point out various aspects of the cottage with varying success, apologizing profusely for practically everything she did. Adorable though her behavior was, he felt bad for her.
"If you could just move these bags of chicken feed to the back yard, I'd be ever so grateful," Fluttershy said in her usual quiet tone, standing next to the massive bags that were almost as big as her. "You know...if you wan-"
"Sure. No problem," he interrupted with a smile, trying to alter the pegasus' behavior as gently as he could. "I'm here to help, friend."
Actually moving the bags took quite a bit of effort, even in a world such as Equestria. With some struggling and numerous near misses, the bags were moved to the pen that held the pegasus' chickens. He figured if he had such trouble moving them, how would a timid pony like Fluttershy move them? He was glad he came along when he did. Then again, she had hidden strength. He always admired that about her.
"Anything else I can help you with?" David asked as he returned to the cottage itself. Fluttershy was waiting just inside.
"No, I don't think so," she said with a little more volume than before. He was making progress! "Thank you for the help."
"I've said it once, I'll say it again: No problem, my friend," he replied with a smile, extending a hand to the yellow pony. She looked at him with considerable confusion. He withdrew his hand with an equal amount of confusion. He was sure ponies had handshakes (somehow) in the show...
"Sorry, human custom," he explained nervously. "I'll be leaving, then. Have a good day."
Fluttershy returned the farewell as he walked himself out, passing by numerous creatures as he made his way to the front door. Squirrels, mice, rabbits, ferrets, all apparently living inside the pegasus' house. She was quite the giving pony, to the point of it being perhaps a little too much. But then again, he had seen her when she was not. He would rather not have that return while he was in Equestria.
By now, the sun had begun to descend from the sky. His clothes should be done, with any luck. His venture back into Ponyville was met with the expected unease and discomfort from the residents, but he paid it little mind. He had fresh clothes to retrieve.
Knocking on the door to the boutique, he waited patiently for several minutes before the door was opened. Rarity seemed rather worn out, but ethusiastic all the same. She greeted him with a weak smile, and allowed him to enter.
"It took a lot of work, but I think I've got something you can not only use, but be proud of!" she exclaimed, trotting to the back of the shop for a moment as she retrieved her creation. A shirt, not unlike the one he wore, and a pair of plain fabric pants floated toward him, stopping a few feet ahead.
The pants were not jeans, but that was expected. They were a solid blue in color, while the shirt was a slightly darker blue with intricate cyan patterns splashed down the length of the shirt from the shoulder. It was quite impressive, to say the least. He reached out to take them as Rarity's magic faded, the unicorn herself looking at him with an uneasy grin.
"You've really outdone yourself, Rarity. These are fantastic," David said with genuine enthusiasm, smiling as he held the shirt up to his chest to see if would fit. Indeed, it would.
"Aren't you going to try them on?" the unicorn asked with a great deal of anticipation. David immediately frowned, looking up from his new garments.
"No...no, I don't think that's necessary," he explained nervously, hoping she would not press the issue. These ponies did not seem to understand the discomfort of undressing in public. "Thanks again. Are you sure you don't want some sort of payment?"
"As I said, dear, they are a gift!" Rarity explained with a grin. "The most challenging work I've had in quite a while, I can assure you of that."
After discussing the clothes for a few more minutes, David said his goodbyes and exited the boutique, making his way to Sugarcube Corner as the light gradually faded from the world around him. Before it went dark, he managed to inspect the clothes more closely. The pants were lacking a certain male-oriented feature in the front, but had a number of useful pockets placed in the right areas. He was glad he did not have normal bodily functions, however, to say the least. Though there was the issue of a lack of undergarments...Did ponies even know of such things?
Limits are not always drawn in the sand. They must be found through experimentation, though such a practice may force one to exceed them.
David awoke early the following morning, though he did not rise immediately. The strange sounds of Pinkie throwing herself around the room below kept him from getting any more rest, even if he was compelled to seek it. For now, he was content to stare up at the ceiling, enjoying a time of thoughtless relaxation. Soon the pink pony had finished her bizarre routine and retreated downstairs.
David rose slowly, moving over to the balcony to ensure that Pinkie was, in fact, gone. Satisfied that he was alone, he retrieved his newly acquired clothes, which had rested beside him through the night, and began to undress. He moved swiftly, and remained out of any direct view from the windows, for obvious reasons. Oddly enough, true privacy was hard to come by in Ponyville. He didn't exactly have a place of his own, though.
As he unbuttoned his jeans, a strange thought struck him. Something obvious that he should have thought of by now, but didn't. Come to think of it, it did feel rather strange...
"...WHAT THE FU-" David shrieked before he censored himself, clasping a hand over his mouth. He stared, wide eyed, down at himself. At what wasn't there. As if it had never been there.
After a few more seconds of stunned silence, David's gaze drifted upward to stare at the wall directly in front of him, realizing the commotion he must've caused. With frenzied speed he hiked up his new pants and threw his old clothes onto his makeshift bed, tossing the discarded sheet over them. Sure enough, his earth pony roommate trotted up the stairs moments later, looking up at him quizzically.
"Something wrong Mr. David? I heard you scream!"
"No, no no. Everything's fine, Pinkie, sorry," he explained hurriedly, moving over to the balcony to wave nervously at the equine below.
"...Okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie exclaimed with a smile, not prying any further as she turned back toward the stairs. "Nice clothes by the way!" she called as she made her way back down.
"Yeah...thanks..." David murmured, leaning heavily against the railing. He wasn't sure how to react to this, beyond his initial outburst. It did not feel like an unnatural change, as strange as that was. That would explain why he hadn't noticed before now. It definitely seemed like an alteration he would swiftly discover...
In slightly less disturbing news, the clothes fit him very well. He had figured the pockets would cause Rarity some difficulty, having to account for where his hands would need to reach, but she executed it flawlessly. His pants were quite comfortable as well, made of a material that felt softer than anything he had experienced in his world. Though by all appearances, it seemed just like normal fabric. Remarkable.
As he moved down the stairs from the balcony, he caught a glimpse of himself in a nearby mirror. He didn't look half bad in his Equestrian garb. Perhaps, he wondered, this meant he was closer to becoming one of the locals.
His carefree thoughts were swiftly vanquished when he reminded himself of his predicament. Cut off from his home, with no apparent hope of return. He had tried to avoid thinking about the life he knew, especially with such low chances of returning to it. But these thoughts occasionally leaked into his mind, sending a twinge of pain and hopelessness tearing through him. He had to keep his mind occupied to prevent this. Thankfully, with all that was going on around him, there wasn't a shortage of distractions.
Eventually he decided to visit Twilight. Again. He wished to know if she had any word from the Princess, as unlikely as it would be, especially so soon after their meeting. As well, he wished to ask the unicorn a few more questions about Equestria. He was curious both of the answers and the possibility of another anomaly. He would be sure not to induce one if he could help it, but there was no guarantee.
A short walk later, he was knocking at the door of the library. He did not feel compelled to stealthily enter as he did before, which meant some sort of progress. He gave the door a few solid knocks as he looked around. Almost immediately his eyes (and the eyes of a few ponies around him) were drawn to something in the distance. Three small figures, moving amongst the populace, dressed strangely and armed with odd instruments.
"Oh hell not again."
His knocks gradually grew in volume and frequency as he realized his proximity to the Cutie Mark Crusaders. He was practically beating on the door by the time it was finally answered. Twilight regarded him with considerable confusion, but he did not even give her time to speak.
"HitwilightcanIcomeinplease?" he said immediately, the words blending together in a garbled mess. He was practically inching inside the door by the time the unicorn responded.
She moved to the side and he darted in, turning immediately around as if the three fillies would be pouncing on him from behind. Twilight closed the door slowly with her magic, a brow raised at his behavior. As soon as the door was closed, he exhaled deeply and relaxed.
"Thanks," he breathed, straightening up.
"Should I even ask?"
"Cutie Mark Monster Catchers. Enough said," he explained with a frown.
"Oh those fillies!" Twilight exclaimed with a chuckle, trotting back toward the center of the room. "Were you here for something, or were you just hoping to hide?" she asked with a smirk.
"A few more questions, if you please," he responded, following her as she moved. A thought struck him. "Oh, and...Did you happen to come across a sort've-blank book downstairs?"
"I did," Twilight replied with a nod. Her horn glowed brightly for a moment, as a plain, unmarked book floated down from one of the top shelves, landing on a table in front of him. "It helped me figure out what exactly happened down there."
"Yeah...sorry about that," David replied with a frown, picking up the book. "Thanks for keeping it around though."
"Not a problem," Twilight responded with a smile. "You wanted to ask more questions...?"
"Oh!" David exclaimed, putting the book down once more. "If you have the time, anyway."
"I don't see why not," she responded, blinking. He took a seat on the couch, as he had done a few days prior.
"...What happened to the changelings?" he asked, once again moving to the edge of his seat. It was as good a place to start as any.
"You've heard about them?" Twilight replied, turning to look at him with some semblance of worry.
"Uh...yeah..." David started, thinking quickly. "Pinkie told me a few days ago. Told me all about the wedding in Canterlot and all the fun she had there." Twilight seemed to relax slightly at this, though he could tell she wasn't buying it completely.
"Princess Celestia told me that although they disappeared for a time after the wedding, she has heard reports of changeling activity in Manehattan and Fillydelphia," Twilight explained as she returned to her work, apparently searching for some text or another.
"Wow," David replied, reacting to this information on multiple levels. "Aren't they all about disguise?"
"For the most part, yes," Twilight responded. "But we've become increasingly well at detecting them. Certain spells can be used to identify them, but the more they feed off the love of ponies, the more powerful they become, and the more difficult it is for conventional magic to detect them."
"Sounds like quite the threat," he murmured, frowning. It was interesting, however. Nothing he heard since he departed from his world said anything about continued changeling activity. Reciting the past that didn't exist: impossible. Creating a future by itself: apparently quite possible.
"According to the Princess, they've been completely run out of Manehattan and Fillydelphia," Twilight continued, trotting over to another bookshelf. "But she thinks they are up to something. So far they haven't been found close to Ponyville, so I don't think there is a cause for alarm."
"That's good," David replied with some unease. He didn't exactly like the idea of hostile creatures lurking in the shadows. He wondered how safe Ponyville really was. He paused for a moment, thinking. "What about Shining Armor and Princess Cadance?"
Twilight turned to look at him again, as if once again concerned by the amount of information he had. "They've been away since the wedding, on honeymoon. They've been through a lot, and deserve time to enjoy each other's company."
"What have you been up to since then?" the man asked, leaning back on the couch. "Besides dealing with my continued antics," he added with a smirk.
The unicorn smiled. "I've been continuing my studies on the magic of friendship here in Ponyville," she replied proudly. "I make sure the library is well kept, and I help with a few planning problems each week."
"Quite the agenda for one pony," David responded, stroking his chin absently.
"I don't always go at it alone," she replied with a smile. "My friends are some of the most reliable ponies in Equestria." She paused. "I'm sorry, but are those new clothes?"
"Yep," David replied, sitting up to show off the intricate design on his shirt. "Rarity made them for me, as a gift. I am beyond satisfied."
"That was very kind of her," Twilight said, moving closer to observe the man's clothes. "They are really quite amazing!"
The two continued to talk idly for a few minutes before David took his leave. He actually remembered to ask about the Princess, and wasn't very disheartened when Twilight told him she had no further contact. He had no safe questions to ask the unicorn, and she seemed rather preoccupied with her own work, so he did not wish to impose any further. He left the library slowly, making sure the coast was clear before moving completely out of the building, journal and quill in hand.
I am David P. Ulrec. I am a male human being of above average height, slim build, and dark brown hair. I am currently residing in the land of Equestria, specifically in the town of Ponyville. I don't know how I got here, or why. This world is not like the world I knew, and there are dangers to its very structure. This is my documentation of these anomalies, which I have spent the last few days locating and studying.
First, I must explain. Equestria is a land where the dominant lifeform appears to be a grouping of three different species, generally referred to as "ponies". Earth ponies, which usually possess above-average strength compared to the other species, are the first. They are typically found as shopkeepers, farmers, and manual laborers.
The second are the unicorns, the only pony species capable of magic, which they channel through their horns. They appear to be a sort of nobility, and usually take authority positions, though it is not uncommon to find them working simpler trades.
The final species are the pegasi. They are ponies capable of flight through the use of a single set of (oddly small) wings. I am not entirely sure how these wings actually achieve flight, due to their small size in comparison to the bodies of the equines themselves. This species typically takes either militaristic roles, such as guards or soldiers, or jobs involving manipulation of the weather, which does not occur naturally. As with all of the species, their choice in jobs vary between individuals, but what I have written is a general standard of expectation.
There is another type of pony, one that is extremely rare, and always involved in royalty. Alicorns, large equines that have both a pegasus' wings and a unicorn's horn. I have heard rumors of their strength being comparable to that of a deity. The way the ponies regard them in an almost worship-like fashion seems to confirm this. Two of these ponies, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, are responsible for the rising and setting of the sun. It appears celestial bodies do not move as they do in my world. I am unsure if space even exists in Equestria.
Back on topic. The anomalies appear as holes in reality, simply put. Ponies are unable to recall information that should be readily known. As well, certain paradoxal information can result in a critical failure of some sort. In my experience, it returns me to my bed, seemingly a day after the event is encountered. I theorize this is the universe protecting itself. I also theorize that this is due to the unique nature of the universe itself. I will not speak of said nature in this text, not directly, as I fear that some day this text may fall into the hands (or hooves) of the natives.
They cannot know.
The first anomaly I encountered was not by intention. During an interview with one of the scholarly ponies (Twilight Sparkle, as she calls herself), I asked a few questions about Equestrian history. Twilight, easily the most well versed pony in the town about such things, was at a complete loss of words. She could not provide any information to any of my questions, of which there were few. Eventually I asked about pony reproduction. Her response implied that they reproduce (or believe they do) in the same fashion as any ordinary mammal. I pointed out why this would not work, citing their lack of apparent "equipment".
That is when the critical failure occurred, and I found myself waking up in my room, with no knowledge of the time between my last statement and the present. Inquiring around, the ponies acted as if the anomaly had never occurred, though Twilight remembered the interview itself, up until the information that caused the failure.
My next discovery involved the subject of injury. I had taken quite the beating since I arrived in Equestria (for a multitude of reasons) and have yet to suffer from any serious injuries. Jumping out of a two story building only knocked the wind out of me. In my world, it would have been a lethal drop, or at very least a crippling one. Spurred by this knowledge, I set out to find the Ponyville hospital, the mere existence of which should indicate some form of injury was possible.
Indeed it was, but in a very different way than I have encountered. There seemed to be two types of patients in the hospital: ponies with broken bones, and ponies with various illnesses. The illnesses seemed to resemble chicken pox and the flu in my world, things that only require a week of bed rest to cure at most.
The broken bones were equally as strange; some ponies were confined in full body casts. Yet in the next hour, they were released from the hospital with a clean bill of health. Asking around, I found that one of these patients had been in the hospital for a single day before being released. Fifty different bone fractures had healed during his stay. I am unsure if this is a result of magic, or an actual anomaly. From my observations there, however, I did not encounter any medical staff performing magic on any of the patients with the intent to heal.
Another anomaly was the foal ward; the problem being that there actually was one. By all means, these ponies should not be able to procreate. I have never seen a pregnant mare in the hospital or in town, yet there are dozens of newborn foals with loving parents to watch over them during their stay in the ward.
Marriage and parenthood are anomalies themselves. Weddings do occur, but it is rare to see two ponies showing any sort of affection for each other. One day, they will spontaneously celebrate a wedding and no one asks why. Interviewing some of the participants (carefully, to avoid causing another failure), I found that they were at a lack of words on the subject too. No one seemed to know why pony X married pony Y, or even when they first met each other.
Parenthood occurred in the same way. As I have said, pregnancy is non-existent in Equestria. One day a couple will suddenly have a foal, and again no questions are asked. The mare could be seen completely normal one day, and the proud mother of two in the next. Interviewing parties close to the parents, the answers seem to be the same cluelessness. I will not interview the parents themselves, as I fear any questions referring to the subject will result in another critical failure.
Bodily functions are yet another anomaly, though one that doesn't seem to function as consistently as others. There are restroom facilities in some public settings, but never in any of the homes. As well, there have only been a handful of times I have seen ponies go into them. I myself have yet to experience a need to relieve myself in such a way. It seems the need only arises as the subject of a joke or gag.
"Excuse me!" the desperate pony squeaks, having held in their bodily functions for hours, as they zip off in the direction of the bathroom! That seems to be the only case on the subject I've encountered.
Foul odor most certainly exists in Equestria, but body odor does not. Perspiration seems to operate like restroom needs; inconsistently. I've seen a pony pull a hay bale weighing several hundred pounds with a lot of strain and effort, without ever breaking a sweat. I've also seen a pony wipe their brow of it after performing the same feat as the first.
Ponies do not normally wear clothes. This makes sense, as they have nothing private to cover up. Yet, I have seen ponies stumble in on other ponies in the process of getting dressed, and are regarded as they would be in my world: with anger. Some standards of human decency exist in Equestria, yet many do not. I have seen ponies throw off their clothes in public for one reason or another, and those around them do not bat an eye.
Eating and drinking are still a must in Equestria, from what I've experienced. Hunger and thirst are definitely a factor I have had to contend with since my arrival, but they seem much more relaxed. I have gone days without liquid before becoming thirsty, and even longer without food before getting hungry. This brings me to my final point:
I'm not sure if it truly exists in Equestria. I have seen two funerals since my arrival, and both can easily be classified as anomalies. The parties involved are sad, but when asked about the identity of the deceased, they grow confused and frustrated. How did they die? Same response. These funerals appear, yet no one knows who died or why, and no ponies go missing from the population.
Of course, there is no way to test if it is actually possible without putting myself or others at extreme risk. Starvation or other gruesome demise does not exactly seem like a pleasant path to pursue, science or no science. For now, this is all I know about death in Equestria. Ponies work to prevent their demise, like eating when hungry and fleeing from dangerous creatures. Yet deaths by starvation or maulings are never seen.
I will continue to document what I find as best I can. This journal will serve as a record of my stay in many regards, as I don't trust myself to remember it all, should I ever return. If you are reading this and are human, please tell my family I am not dead, and that I love them. If you are reading this and you are a pony, forget everything you've seen here, for the sake of all your kind. There are some doors better left unopened.
If one assumes a series of narrow escapes means an immunity to danger, their destruction is assured.
David had spent much of the last few days studying the various anomalies and inconsistencies present in the Equestrian universe. Those he could determine immediately, anyway. Questions regarding pony maturity and the like would have to wait, as it would require a much longer period of the study to be studied.
By the fifth day, however, David concluded his work for the time being. Page six of the journal held very dangerous knowledge, should any Equestrians get their hooves on it. The very fact it was located on page six rather than page one was an intended defense; should any curious ponies look through the initial few pages of the journal, they would find only innocent observations. Plastering a word of warning on the very first page would only incite curiosity. He hoped to bore them before they reached the dangerous bits.
David had maintained some contact with his "friends" in Equestria during his time of study, though such encounters were brief. He didn't really know if "friend" was the right term to describe them, though. Pinkie was surely his ally, and perhaps Twilight too (though he suspected she regarded him more as a lab rat than a friend), but the others were mere acquaintances at best. Fluttershy still seemed wary of him, Rarity would at least greet him readily enough when they encountered one another, Rainbow Dash couldn't care less, and Applejack was probably the most elusive pony in Ponyville.
Now that his quest for knowledge was temporarily suspended, he figured it a good a time as any to try and reach out to one of the ponies again. Applejack and Fluttershy were easy to find, Rainbow Dash not so much. Even Rarity was difficult to locate, as she seemed to come and go from Caurosel Boutique at all hours of the day. After careful consideration, he felt it best to try and locate Applejack, in the hope of repairing his relationship with the earth pony.
After returning the journal to Sugarcube Corner (and making sure it will well hidden), David set off down the road toward Sweet Apple Acres, enjoying the warm sun as he did. As always, the route was very scenic. Ponyville wasn't exactly an urban jungle, but the rural nature of the farm did offer a unique experience of its own. He thought back to his time in the field, enjoying the calm comforts of nature...
David suddenly found himself falling forward into the dirt. Landing hard on his stomach, the air was forced from his lungs with a loud "oomph". This was no result of his own clumsiness, however. He felt his feet collide with something hard before he fell, though he had no hope of catching himself in time to prevent it. Before he could realize he was under siege, a web of rope fell upon him, just as he attempted to roll onto his back. This action only cemented his fate, as he became tangled in the surprisingly large net. As he struggled to free himself, he saw a few colorful shapes moving not far away, running around him in circles.
"We got him!"
"Do ya'll see anythin' yet?!"
A pause. A sigh.
"Maybe its not over? Maybe we won't get our cutie marks until we turn him in!"
"Or maybe we need to interrogate him!"
"Interrogate a monster?"
"I'm not a monster," David chimed in. He had ceased his futile struggling a few moments after the talking began.
"See! He can talk!"
"Maybe Scootaloo is right."
"Ok, ok! We can interrogate him. Let's just drag him back to the farm, we can stick 'em in the empty barn."
David wanted to argue. He wanted to explain, or even struggle to break free. He knew both were a waste of time until they got to their destination. Perhaps when they were "interrogating" him, they might actually listen to what he had to say. Applebloom and Scootaloo grabbed onto one end of the net and began to drag it further down the road. Sweetie Belle seemed to be running alongside him as they worked, chatting idly. He was amazed that these two small ponies were moving him so quickly. With their mouths.
In no time at all, he was pulled into the old barn he had seen on his last visit to Sweet Apple Acres. Applebloom and Scootaloo didn't seem too worse for wear from the ordeal, much to his continued amazement.
"Can I get out of this thing now?"
"Only if you cooperate!" Scootaloo replied, stamping a hoof.
"...Ok?" David responded. He hadn't exactly been the most difficult captive. Applebloom and Scootaloo assisted him in untangling himself from the net. Both ponies retreated back to the sides of the barn immediately when he stood up. All three looked at him through narrowed eyes.
"Now sit down!" Scootaloo commanded, pointing to a small wooden chair at the center of the empty barn, directly beneath an overhead light. Of course.
"...Yeah I'm just ganna go," David replied casually, pointing to the door. As he walked over to it, Applebloom threw a large board over the length of the door, barring any who may enter. David looked from Applebloom to the door for several moments before casually lifting the board out of the way. The Crusaders' smug determination turned into panic as he pushed one of the barn doors open. Applebloom and Scootaloo desperately flung themselves at his legs, wrapping their hooves around his ankles in an effort to slow him down.
"You...can't...leave...!" Scootaloo yelled as he slowly marched out of the barn, lifting one foot after another with some effort, despite the ponies clinging to him. Sweetie Belle had moved in front of him, trying to block his path at every chance. He merely stepped around the small unicorn and continued his labored trek back toward the road.
"I don't feel like being kidnapped, sorry," he responded with some frustration. Applebloom begun digging her back hooves into the ground, making one leg even more labored than the other. "Will you get off!" he snarled, flicking his leg hard enough to jar the small pony. She refused to release him.
"You...must...be... interrogated!" Applebloom yelled as she was repeatedly whipped around. Eventually David ceased the futile effort to rid himself of the pony. "Ah think I'm ganna be sick..."
"Aright, fine. I'll cooperate," David said at last, breathing a sigh of resignation. Even if he somehow managed to rid himself of the Crusaders, they would find him again in time. The only way out of this, for good, was to let them do whatever the hell they were going to do, realize it won't give them their cutie marks, and go home.
The Crusaders did not seem to believe him. Applebloom and Scootaloo remained clinging to his ankles, and Sweetie Belle stood in the direction of the road. To prove he would do as he said, he began the arduous task of walking to the barn. Half way there, the two little ponies released him, though they remained right next to his feet as he walked back inside. The door to barn was once again shut behind him as he entered. All three Crusaders stood guarding the door, narrowed eyes locked on him.
With a sigh, David sat on the tiny chair, which was clearly built for a (small) pony and not for a human. Have you ever tried to sit in one of those little plastic chairs they have for kid's tables? Its a bit like that. He was certain it would be attached to his hindquarters, should he try to stand.
"Tie him up!" Applebloom commanded. The other two ponies did not move. Instead, they stared at her with considerable agitation.
"Who made you the boss?" Scootaloo asked, her tiny wings spread out in a display of aggression.
"Ah did!" Applebloom replied hotly. Before he knew it, Applebloom and Scootaloo were practically nose to nose, staring angrily into each other's eyes.
"Hey, what about me!" Sweetie Belle whined, darting around the two as if trying to find a means to join in. At this, all three of them broke into an incomprehensible argument David had no hope of trying to follow.
David slowly leaned to the side to grab the coil of rope himself. He wrapped it around himself a few times with some difficulty, binding himself to the tiny chair around his waist. As he finished, he slipped his hands beneath the binding and pushed it a little further up his body, to appear as though his arms were bound, before clearing his throat loudly, catching the Crusaders' attention.
"Can we get on with it now?"
The three were confused at first, but quickly got over it. They surrounded him on all sides, staring at him through narrowed eyes.
"Why are you here?!" Scootaloo demanded, bringing her face closer to his.
"You dragged me here." This earned him a snicker from Applebloom and Sweetie Belle.
"I mean in Ponyville!" she corrected, her furious gaze turning on her companions for a moment, who once again resumed their serious demeanor.
"I don't have a reason. I don't know how I ended up here. I just sorta did."
"What are you anyway?" Applebloom asked, her tone more of curiosity than aggression.
"I'm a human. A distant relative of apes."
"I thought he looked kinda like a monkey," Scootaloo chimed in. She, too, seemed to have lost her aggressive attitude.
"Why were you sneaking around Ponyville at night?"
"Because he's a monster and that's what they do!" Scootaloo argued, turning to face Sweetie Belle.
"He doesn't look very much like a monster to me!" the young unicorn argued back. And the ridiculousness begins anew!
"Who ever heard of a monster monkey?" Applebloom added.
"I have, lots of times!" Scootaloo retorted with some hesitation. She wasn't convincing anyone.
"I don't have to!"
At this point the three had collapsed into a small circle in the corner of the barn behind him. As the arguing grew more and more incomprehensible, he decided it was time he took his leave.
"Goodbye girls," he said, his voice drowned out by the heated argument. He stood slowly, the chair hanging off his rear, which forced him into a hunched posture. He slowly made his way over to the door, pushing it open with his side easily enough. As he made his way toward the road, he spotted Applejack bringing a cart full of apples toward the farmhouse.
"Evening," David said with a short nod as he hobbled past. It took a moment for the earth pony to realize what she was seeing, though she did not reply. She merely watched him jog down the road back toward Ponyville with a very confused expression.
"Pinkie helped me free myself from the chair when I got back. If I thought I got weird looks before, they were nothing compared to the ones I got walking through town today."
Friendship is a much deeper connection than it may seem. Friends know when friends are troubled. Good friends, anyway...
David awoke late the next day, partially not by intention. He expected to, as usual, be awoken by Pinkie's perplexing morning ritual. He had grown quite dependent on it; on those few (but consistent) days that she did not perform it, he usually gave himself a few extra hours of sleep. When situations like his current predicament popped up, he found it quite jarring.
The man slowly sat up with a yawn, stretching his arms high above himself. His body protested loudly as always. It was only then did he open his eyes, and what he saw almost made him yell out in surprise. Pinkie was standing directly in front of him, her face almost inches from his own. Her wide eyes stared deeply into his, causing him a great deal of discomfort.
"Uh...good morning?" David said with some hesitation, scooting back a few feet from the pink pony. She advanced slowly in response.
"Good morning," she replied simply. A simple enough greeting. For any pony other than Pinkie Pie, it would've been acceptable. But there was no excessive volume, no enthusiastic tone. It was subdued...uncomfortably so.
"Any particular reason as to why you are stalking me?" David asked with a nervous chuckle, holding his blanket up closer to his face as a barrier between himself and the advancing pink pony.
"Oh, no reason. I was just looking for some comp-"
"OK that's about enough life for me for one day!" the man interrupted, throwing himself back in a frenzied attempt to stand. He was pressed against the back of the balcony, on the opposite side from the stairs. He slowly looked over to the railing, peering uneasily over the side. Well, he had done crazier things...
Hoisting himself over the railing, David fell to the wooden floor below with a loud thunk. Thankfully, unlike his descent from the window many days prior, he landed shakily on his feet, making the jump rather painless. Immediately he turned to look up at the balcony, though his quarry had apparently disappeared. Almost simultaneously, the pink pony appeared at the top of the stairs leading into the room itself, smiling widely as she hopped into the room.
"Wha-how the-...How do you do that?" David asked, though he knew better than to expect a helpful response.
"Do what Mr. David?" she asked cheerily. Of course.
"Nevermind," he sighed, rubbing his temples. "Are you OK, Pinkie? You're acting a bit...strange."
"Never felt better!" she replied with a grin. She paused. "Am I really acting strange? I didn't think I was!"
She seemed to be fine now. Her usual enthusiasm had evidently returned.
"I...don't know any more," the man mumbled, slowly seating himself on a nearby couch. "I think I may be coming down with something."
At this, Pinkie bolted over to him, placing a hoof on his forehead before he could understand what had just happened. She made a thoughtful "hmm" before she retracted the limb.
"You don't seem to have a fever," she began. Another pause. "Can humans get fevers?" she asked innocently, apparently in deep thought.
"Yes I believe we can," David replied with an amused smirk. Definitely back to normal.
The two made their way downstairs shortly after. Pinkie was off to work, and David was off to do whatever it is he intended to do. He wasn't quite sure about the details. He was rather hungry, so food might very well be his first stop. The only problem with this plan was, of course, the fact that he was flat broke. Thankfully he was staying in a bakery, and was rooming with a baker.
Thus, David remained in Sugarcube Corner, wandering around the store while he waited for the opportunity to strike. He once again avoided the public areas of the store, just in case his presence might lose the Cakes a few customers. After ten minutes of stacking plastic blocks with the twins in the other room, he noticed that Pinkie was manning the front desk. The time for action had come.
David slowly and stealthily circled around to the back of the counter using the rooms that ran alongside and behind the public area of the store. Crouched low to the ground, he slowly hobbled to where Pinkie was standing, a few customers poking around the store ahead.
Pinkie seemed to acknowledge the noise, though she looked in every direction and at every angle except the one he was in.
Pinkie finally looked down at him, and grinned. "Hiya Mr. David!" she greeted him happily. "Whatcha doin' down there?"
"Don't want to scare any customers," he explained briefly, hoping it would be enough. "I was wondering: do you think I could get some food? I don't want to impose on you and Cakes any more than I have already, but I'm afraid I don't have money to buy any myself."
Pinkie blinked. "Of course you can!" she replied with a smile, pulling a small "be back in 5" sign from seemingly no where, which she placed on the counter. "You should've joined us at breakfast!"
"Sorry, I overslept."
The pink pony bounced off to the kitchen behind him. He followed without hesitation, practically drooling at the possibility of food. It had been quite a few days since he had last eaten, after all. After a few minutes of fumbling around, Pinkie eventually retrieved a glorious slice of cake for him, as well as a bottle of soda.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," David said very quickly, taking his spoils hungrily.
"No problem Mr. David!" Pinkie replied with a smile before she bounced off toward the front of the store. David took his meal into the other room, putting little thought into the fact ponies actually had forks. Surely only unicorns would be able to use them effectively.
In no time at all, the slice of cake had been decimated and the soda had been drained. Placing what was left in the trash (the plate and fork were plastic), David left Sugarcube Corner a very satisfied man. Pony food, or at least their baking, was noticeably more delicious than the food he was used to. And he had eaten some pretty high quality stuff over the years.
The matter of what to do with the rest of his day once again rose up before him. He thought of trying to reach out to the ponies once again, considering he made very little progress the day prior due to surprise kidnapping. The thought of going back to Sweet Apple Acres was not particularly appealing, however, on the off chance the events of the past day repeating themselves. He hoped that he was off their radar now, but he could not be certain.
Thus, his choices were either Twilight, Fluttershy, Rarity, or Rainbow Dash. He was tempted to check up on Twilight to see if she had heard anything from the Princess, though he figured she would have shared it with him already if she had. After a few minutes of consideration, he found Rarity to be the most suitable option, and set off toward Carousel Boutique.
After a few knocks, Rarity greeted him at the door, her response to his presence considerably more comfortable compared to the last time he had visited.
"You're not here for more clothes, are you?" Rarity asked, raising a brow.
"No, I'm here to ask if you needed any help around the shop," he explained with a nod. "I felt bad I couldn't pay you for what you gave me, so I figure its the least I can do." He wasn't entirely lying.
"I told you, darling, it was a gift!"
"Then consider this a favor, rather than payment," David retorted with a smile. The unicorn returned the gesture, and allowed him entrance. As he followed Rarity toward the back of the store, he noticed a few strange looking mannequins. Strange to see in Ponyville, anyway. It was if Rarity was trying to create human mannequins to work on.
"I was so inspired by what I made, that I tried to learn as much as I could about human posture in relation to fashion," she explained as he approached, draping a piece of fabric across her neck. A pair of glasses were positioned at the end of her snout as the unicorn squinted down at her work, which was laid out in front of her on a table. "This visit of yours is less 'help around the shop' and more 'model my experiments for me'," she explained, grinning innocently at him.
"Seems I showed up at the right time."
David spent the next few hours doing just as Rarity intended. Some of her experiments were rather strange; she seemed to be attempting to recreate his jeans, with no such luck. Her more successful ventures usually involved shirts, most of which were as stunning as the one he currently wore. He hoped that, should she succeed in creating more clothes, him being the only human in Equestria might qualify him for automatic ownership.
He brought up the matter of socks, and was surprised that Rarity actually knew what he was talking about. He wasn't entirely sure socks had been considered canon or not. The idea of making some for a human was an entirely different story, however, although Rarity was up for the challenge once more. He contemplated asking her about making him some underwear, but due to his...unique condition, he decided to avoid that awkwardness altogether.
A few hours later, he departed from the boutique feeling quite accomplished. Rarity seemed quite comfortable around him now, and he felt rather safe calling her a true friend. One more ally in Equestria. He hoped to gain as many as he could during his stay, and had a long way to go, but it was a start. It gave him hope that perhaps in time, all of Ponyville would regard him as normal. He hoped the staring would stop soon, at least.
As he made his way through the streets of Ponyville, he eventually caught sight of Pinkie walking in his direction. He was rather surprised to see her outside Sugarcube Corner; she always seemed to disappear for most of the day when she wasn't working or in the room. Soon enough she caught sight of him too, and immediately he felt a sense of dread. She was smiling at him, but not the normal Pinkie smile of unconditional happiness. This was a sly smile, one he had seen earlier today, in fact.
Instinctively, he ran. Far, far away.
"I managed to lose her by looping around Ponyville a few times. I'm not entirely sure she was following me, but I really wasn't paying attention to anything at that point. By the time I returned home to Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie was waiting in the room. She was her usual bubbly self by that point. What the hell is up with that pony?"
Often, it is better to stand your ground and face your problems head on, than to run away and deal with them another time. There are, however, times where it may be best to flee as far and as fast as you can.
The following morning, David was sure to wake himself up bright and early to prevent any sort of repeat of the previous day. He was rather impressed with himself, that he managed to wake before even Pinkie. He had no business wandering around Ponyville in the dawn, though. Thus, he remained confined in the pink pony's room, propped up against the wall in a daze. His body wanted sleep, but his mind knew better. He drearily stared at the stairs leading up to the balcony for an hour before Pinkie began to stir below.
The bubbly earth pony went on with her usual ritual, completely oblivious to David's semi-conscious state above. He found it comforting, seeing this bizarre display again. It meant that everything was nice and predictable, that the pink pony wasn't having another episode of strangeness. He had thought long and hard about what had happened the day prior, and came up empty on all fronts. It was very unlike both Pinkie herself and ponies in general to act the way she did. Was it a result of his tampering with the fabric of the universe? Perhaps an unnatural change brought on by the trauma his existence was causing it?
These ideas and more flowed in and out his mind through the early morning hours. Eventually Pinkie went downstairs for breakfast, and although David was tempted to join her, he decided against it. Food was not as pressing a matter for him, it seemed. Instead, he sat atop the balcony, not really awake, but not really asleep either. In time, though, he began to stir. The sun ascended high into the sky outside, casting brilliant light into the room through its many windows. He really didn't have a choice anymore.
David gazed idly out the window as he contemplated his next course of action. Things, although strange, were progressing a bit too slow for his liking, though he guessed it could not be helped. Part of him longed for the life and the loved ones he had left in his world, and another part of him wished to live his life in Equestria to the fullest. It was definitely not a life of adventure, fun, and games, as many people might think. His time in Equestria had been interesting indeed, but it was far from this glorified view of what others thought it to be.
Progress had been made, and he felt more comfortable inside the town than he ever had, but he still felt like an outsider, like an invader. He was an anomaly. He didn't feel welcome, he didn't feel as though it were home. It was possible he never would. But it was not all bad; he felt his friendship with Pinkie Pie was genuine. The pink pony, despite her numerous unintentional betrayals, had accepted him wholely from the time they first met. He admired her unconditional happiness and acceptance, even if such a lifestyle would get her killed in his world. She was truly a treasure he could not find in his old life.
Almost in response, the light filtering in all around him was noticeably darkened. He felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end ominously, and could feel the presence behind him, even if he couldn't see or hear it. A few silent moments passed, and that was all he needed to know what exactly was going on.
"What do you mean?" the pink pony asked, though again not in her usual way. The enthusiasm was not there; it was replaced with a slyness that made him uneasy.
"Where will this behavior lead? Why all this...strangeness?"
"Strange? Doesn't seem strange to me."
"I know you. This isn't you."
"Maybe you don't know all of me."
The statement struck like a blow to the head. It was wrong, he knew it was. But there was something about it that made him hesitate. Was there some kind of unknown behavior? No, he had spent most of his start in Ponyville seeing unfiltered behavior. The anomalies, his theories; they all contradicted with this fact, this...strangeness. He was tempted to argue, and get very technical to prove his point. For now, he would hold his tongue in that regard.
"Lets say that I don't. How does it end? Where does it all lead?"
"...Don't you like me?" she replied meekly. He could almost sense a slight edge to the question, almost as if she were mocking him.
But...what the hell?
The pink pony sat down beside him, making sure to make physical contact as she did.
"OK that is definitely not how ponies work!" David said as he jumped to his feet and stumbled back. He aimed his frenzied retreat toward the stairs of the balcony, so another desperate maneuver would not be necessary. He was very right though. Right.
Pinkie only stared at him with a look that only continued to make him extremely uncomfortable.
She still seemed to be...mocking him? It didn't make sense. Her behavior was completely wrong for her entire species, and yet it seemed like she was toying with him all the same. But why? It didn't feel like a prank. It felt a lot more cynical; a feeling he didn't exactly expect to find in Equestria-
Pinkie straightened suddenly at the word, her eyes opening wide.
"Changeling! Changeling!" David yelled incoherently, pointing at the pink pony accusingly as he slowly backed down the stairs. Pinkie seemed to to recoil with each use of the word, narrowed eyes watching as David disappeared down into Sugarcube Corner proper.
Flying down the stairs with clear determination, David almost lept the last set of stairs in his haste. As he reached the landing in the public quarters of the store, he saw none other than Pinkie Pie trotting out from the kitchen.
"I knew it!" he yelled, causing everyone in the store to jump and look at him questioningly. Even Pinkie seemed caught off guard.
"Something wrong Mr. David?" she asked tentatively, looking at him as though he may have gone mad.
"No. Well, yes. Don't go upstairs," he warned, clearing his throat nervously. "You have an infestation problem, I'm afraid. I'll go fetch Twilight, and we'll deal with it no problem."
"...Okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie replied with a smile before trotting back into the kitchen. That was the strangeness he was accustomed to.
Exploding out of the front door of Sugarcube Corner, David bolted down the street toward the Ponyville library with reckless abandon. He needed to enlist Twilight's aid immediately, before anyone in the store got hurt by the horrid shapeshifter above their heads.
He didn't even bother to knock as he reached the library. Swinging the door open with a bang, he stepped inside and found both Spike and Twilight standing only a few feet away.
"TWILIGHTTHERESACHANGELINGINPONYVILLE!" he screamed incoherently. Both the unicorn and her assistant recoiled back at the volume of his statement. Again, he calmed himself. "Twilight, there's a changeling in Ponyville. In Sugarcube Corner, to be exact."
Twilight eyed him for several moments, as if silently assessing his mental health. "No offense David, but I find that rather hard to believe. How can you be so sure?"
"Well, Pinkie's been acting strange lately, and now I know why. A changeling has infiltrated the store, and has been posing as Pinkie for some reason. I'm not entirely sure why, but when I ran downstairs fleeing from the impostor, I found the real Pinkie already downstairs," he explained, confident that such concrete proof would be enough.
"Are you sure its not just Pinkie being...well...Pinkie?" the unicorn asked, tilting a hoof toward him.
"I'm sure, Twilight. I've been living with her for a while now, I know what to expect from her. But this was not her."
Twilight was silent for a few moments, clearly in deep thought. Spike, meanwhile, seemed quite shaken.
"Ch-changelings? In Ponyville?" Spike repeated, looking between David and Twilight worriedly. "Twilight, you said they weren't anywhere near here! You said I shouldn't worry!"
"They aren't!" Twilight asserted, shaking her head. "Alright David. Take me to this changeling."
David led the charge as they made their way back to Sugarcube Corner. As the two entered, they were immediately greeted by Pinkie Pie, waving enthusiastically behind the counter.
"Is that the-"
"No," David stated forcefully, unamused by Twilight's attitude. "It was upstairs, in Pinkie's room."
Of course, by the time the two went up there to investigate, the room was completely empty.
"No, no, this is not happening!" David interrupted just as Twilight was about to speak. "I've seen this in twenty different sitcoms. I am not falling for this. I say its there, we go, it isn't, you think I'm lying or crazy or whatever, then something bad happens and we find out 'good golly its actually real!'."
Twilight looked at him strangely. Likely wondering if he truly had snapped yet again.
"Let's just cut to the chase and assume I saw what I saw. We need to prepare, we need to use that magic you told me about to find where it is hiding!"
"I'm sorry David, but I just don't see any evidence of a changeling here," Twilight said with a frown, looking at the unaltered room around them.
"I can't believe this is happening..." David murmured, mostly to himself. To be part of something so predictable, something he saw coming, and yet be unable to prevent it.
The two stood in silence for several moments.
"I'll see what I can do. Maybe there's a spell that can tell us if changelings are at least in Ponyville," Twilight offered at last, trotting back down the stairs. David followed. "Something on such a large scale won't be easy, and it won't help us track them down even if it tests positive, but its a start."
"I appreciate the thought," David breathed, very relieved. "I know what I saw. I'm certain of it."
The rest of the day went by very slowly. David spent most of his time either hanging around Sugarcube Corner's public areas (much to the dismay of the customers) or the library, waiting for Twilight to finish her research into the changeling problem. As day turned to night, however, even David began to have doubts. His gut told him he was correct, that he saw what he saw. But the more he thought about it, the more alternate explanations seemed to make sense. He did not vocalize his own doubts, however. If nothing else, Twilight's spell would prove either his sanity or his madness. One way or another, he would have his answer.
As the sun disappeared from the sky, he left the library for the night, leaving Twilight to get her rest. She promised that she would have the spell prepared by morning. His sleep in Sugarcube Corner was a very uncomfortable and frustrating one. It took hours for him to grow tired enough to sleep at all, and he frequently awoke during the night to make sure the doppelganger of Pinkie wasn't about to smother him with a pillow. Changelings did not seem to operate exactly like ponies, so he wondered if murder was really out of the question.
Almost as soon as the sun began to peak over the horizon, David was awake. He was determined to have his answer, and avoid any further contact with the doppelganger. It was unlikely it would appear again, if indeed it was a changeling. Exposing it to the open should, in theory, send it running. If it did reappear...well, either it was a particularly arrogant changeling, or he had his answer.
After about an hour of sitting in a daze, David finally left Sugarcube Corner and made his way back to the Ponyville library. After a few quick knocks, Twilight answered the door.
"Oh, David," she said at once, seemingly caught off guard by his early appearance. "I'm sorry, but the spell is not as simple as I hoped."
"What's the matter?"
"Well, it should, in theory, span the entirety of Ponyville and tell us if any of the residents are changelings," Twilight explained. David was rather off put by how specific the spell was to their goal, but nodded. "But at this time of day, many citizens of Ponyville will be outside the city limits. We need to wait until nightfall, when everypony has returned to their homes, before we cast the spell."
"Alright," David breathed, relieved that it wasn't a far more troubling and dramatic setback. Wait until nightfall. Easy enough. "Thank you. For the help, and for believing me, Twilight."
"No problem," Twilight responded with a smile. "I've never tried this spell before, and I'm always eager to learn."
The two said their goodbyes and went their separate ways. Twilight retreated back into the library proper to continue her work, while David was left, once again, with a lack of anything pressing to do. Although his answer would undoubtedly come later, he figured he might as well try and figure out the situation to the best of his abilities. Perhaps Pinkie had seen something strange around Sugarcube. She did live there, after all.
She wasn't normally hard to find, either. Arriving back in the store, David was rather surprised to not find her behind the counter. It was surely time for her to start her shift, so he figured it must be a day off. Heading back upstairs, he found the room transformed. Although party objects littered the room to begin with, they seemed to grow vastly in number in the few minutes he was gone, and had taken consistent shapes. Bundles of balloons were tied to various surfaces, streamers were draped all along the walls, along with various other colorful decorations.
"How the he-"
"Mr. David!" Pinkie yelled as she sprung out of a pile of discarded ribbons. David nearly jumped out of his skin in response, but swiftly calmed himself. "I was just about to go looking for you! I wanted to invite you to the party this afternoon!"
"Party?" David repeated, his shock replaced with confusion. "What's the occasion?"
"Why it's Gummy's birthday of course!"
"Gummy..." the man repeated, his mind drawing a blank. Pinkie's pet alligator? He had been staying in Sugarcube Corner for well over a week now, and he had seen nothing of Gummy.
As if in response, he felt a sudden tug on his foot. Looking down, he found the toothless alligator holding the laces of one shoe in its mouth, staring off blankly as per usual.
"So you'll be attending?" Pinkie asked, giving him an expectant grin.
"Sure, I guess," David responded with a shrug. He had nothing to do, after all.
"Great!" Pinkie replied, diving back into the pile of ribbons without hesitation.
The next few hours were spent preparing for the occasion. Pinkie was an expert at setting up a party, that much was sure. He helped as best he could, but even without her strange reality-bending powers, the pink pony was an expert in her trade. David had completely forgotten about his original quest by the time the first few guests arrived. He was quick to discover, however, that this was not just a small get-together with Pinkie's close friends. Ponies of all shapes and sizes were arriving at a steady pace.
It wasn't long before David once again felt like an invader. The ponies, unintentionally or otherwise, isolated him even from his few pony friends. He found himself lingering on the outskirts of the party, drinking punch and contemplating avenues of attack, so to speak. Every time he approached a group of chatting ponies, however, he was kept at bay by their silent, awkward staring. Those he did manage to talk to only responded with short, nervous answers before retreating a safe distance away.
Eventually Pinkie noticed his predicament, and tried to introduce him to one particular group of ponies. That went as badly as he thought it would: after a few nervous hellos, the group inched their way to the opposite side of the room, taking Pinkie with them.
"Enjoyin' the party, David?"
The use of his name almost made him drop his drink in surprise. Turning, he spotted Applejack skillfully pouring herself a cup of punch, manipulating the ladle with her mouth.
"Not exactly," he responded with a frown.
"Havin' trouble fitting in, ah take it?"
"Was it really that obvious?"
Applejack laughed. "They just aren't used to ya like we are. They still got this notion that you're some sort of monster."
David was more than a little surprised that Applejack would describe her and her friends as "used to him". It made him feel a little better about his current predicament.
"It seems like every time I try to make progress on that front, they just run away."
"Give 'em time, David," was all the farmer said, finishing her punch with a single gulp. After giving the man a reassuring pat on the lower arm, the earth pony trotted back into the party itself.
Eventually the light of the sun retreated from the room, forcing the party-goers to switch to indoor lighting as night fell outside. Shortly after that, the party dispersed. David was surprised at how quickly it had ended. One minute they were all laughing and enjoying themselves, and the next they were leaving. Ponies were quite dedicated to the concept of sleeping at night, it seemed. Habits commonly seen in his world - ones he frequently practiced - would be unheard of here.
Twilight Sparkle was one of the last party guests to remain. David hadn't seen her throughout the event itself though, and figured she was preparing for the spell. After spotting him, she swiftly approached.
"I think we're almost ready to begin." She wasted no time with greetings or small talk. "We'll give everypony a few minutes to get home, then we cast the spell."
"Here?" David asked with obvious surprise. He assumed they would return to the library to cast the spell; he figured there would be much preparation required, and Twilight would have all of that taken care of by this point.
Twilight nodded. She did not have any supplies with her, nor was their any sign of Spike bringing them over. Was it really so simple?
"Do you think this will work?" David murmured to Pinkie, who was standing beside him.
"I have no idea what we're doing!" Pinkie replied with a smile, looking up at him. He sighed, but smiled back.
"Alright, I think that's enough. Let's begin," Twilight said after a few minutes, looking back at the two with clear focus.
"How can we help?"
"I just need time to concentrate, so try to keep quiet for a while."
"Easier for some than others," David replied with a short laugh. Pinkie did not seem to understand the joke.
Twilight's horn was swiftly coated in brilliant purple light. The unicorn's expression displayed the strain of what she was trying to do, as the light around her only continued to build. Pinkie and David sat in stunned silence watching her work; purple light began to billow out of the windows and into the streets below.
Without warning, a massive wave of light shot out from Twilight's horn, like a sonar pulse in the sea. It seemed to ignore physical objects around it, spreading out all over Ponyville in only a few seconds. A few more pulses followed as the strain of Twilight's work slowly increased. Just as it seemed the unicorn was about to collapse under the strain, the spell ended and the light quickly faded.
The three stood in relative silence for some time as Twilight caught her breath. She didn't seem troubled, and David wondered if the spell had worked. Perhaps it did, and the effort was merely proven meaningless.
The unicorn's head shot up suddenly, her eyes a solid glowing white in color. She acted as if she was seeing something they could not, her head slowly turning to look in all directions.
"What's wrong with Twi-" Pinkie began. Her words were swiftly ended as Twilight let out a loud gasp, her eyes fading to normal.
"Dear Celestia...this is bad!" she exclaimed, bolting over to one of the windows. She looked out over Ponyville expectantly. "This is very, very bad!"
"What?" David asked as he approached, trying to spot what the unicorn was looking for. "What is it Twilight? What happened?"
"We need to get to the library," she said suddenly, rushing over to the stairs. David and Pinkie simply stood in silence. "Now!"
Twilight wasted no time in her return to the library. David and Pinkie struggled to keep up with her as she raced back to her home, ignoring their alarmed inquiries all the way.
"Twilight, what's the matter?" David asked for the fifth time, watching Twilight bolt back and forth in the library. Spike appeared at the top of the stairs a few moments later, apparently awoken from his slumber by all the noise.
"Twilight are you OK?" Pinkie asked tentatively, giving the unicorn a nervous smile, clearly concerned.
"...How many changelings are in Ponyville?" David asked. All three of the Equestrians looked at him with wide eyes, but said nothing. They didn't have to. Why else would Twilight be so flustered after the spell?
"Its not what's inside Ponyville that is the problem!" Twilight said at last, resuming her frantic search. "Its what's waiting just outside!"
David, Pinkie, and Spike were all visibly alarmed by this.
"C-c-changelings?!" Spike stammered, recoiling back a bit at the thought. "Twilight you said we didn't need to worry! You promised!"
"I'm sorry Spike," Twilight said with a sigh of resignation. "I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong!"
"How many?" David asked, trying to make the conversation a bit constructive.
"I didn't get an exact count," Twilight explained, her ears drooping. "I just saw so many of them at once...I panicked before I could get anything more than that."
"What are they doing out there?" David followed up, once again trying not to dwell too much in despair. Twilight seemed to have the same idea, moving around the library with determination rather than resignation.
"I'm not sure," Twilight responded, peering out one of the nearby windows expectantly. "They seemed to be waiting for something."
Almost as if in response to her statement, a massive crash outside shook the library to its core. Others soon followed, accompanied by manic laughter and hissing. Soon the terrified screams of ponies filled the night air as well.
Something hard struck the door to the library.
"Uh oh..." Pinkie murmured as all four of them took a step back from the door.
"It seems like our time to prepare is already up," stated Twilight quietly, her eyes glued on the door.
With one final crash, the door swung open and three pitch black changelings spilled into the room, clumsily crawling over each other to try and right themselves. Almost immediately after they appeared, a bright burst of purple energy crashed into them, sending them sprawling outside with a shrill cry.
"We need to get out there and help!" Twilight stated as she advanced, her horn glowing brightly as she approached the door with her head slightly bowed. Another burst of magic sent the changelings just outside across the street, where they slammed into a nearby building. David, Pinkie, and Spike followed swiftly behind Twilight as she departed, trusting in her to have a plan.
The four moved slowly through the chaotic mess that engulfed the town of Ponyville. Changelings filled the skies, dive bombing and tormenting the populace. The few pegasi in the skies were quickly run out of them, and those ponies who were unable to resist their changeling aggressors were swiftly subdued. Twilight was an excellent weapon against them, however. Her horn constantly alight, she blasted foe after foe out of their path as they made their way across town.
David, Pinkie, and Spike could do little to help the situation beyond spotting for Twilight. Her magic seemed the best bet for their survival, so they weren't keen on running off to punch a few changelings. The changelings seemed to have abandoned stealth with reckless abandon. They fell from the sky like grotesque stones, creating craters in the streets as they tried to catch their query. The group did not seem to be their focus, however. The vile creatures were content to harass any denizen of Ponyville.
"We need to find the others as quickly as possible," Twilight explained as they approached the road leading to Sweet Apple Acres. David surmised by "others" she meant the other members of the mane six. He began to wonder what exactly Twilight had planned. Would they need to use the Elements of Harmony? Could they even do so? Where were the Elements? And why was this unscripted event taking place?!
The voice snapped David out of his frenzied thoughts. Applejack was charging up the road toward them, made visible from the light of Twilight's horn. The unicorn was relieved to see her.
"Applejack, thank Celestia you're OK!" Twilight breathed, before becoming alert once more. "Have you seen Rarity, Rainbow, and Fluttershy?"
"Shouldn't they all be at home sleepin' by now?" Applejack replied, looking out at the mayhem befalling Ponyville in the dark. "Well, maybe not now..."
"Their houses are a good a start as any," David added with a nod. Twilight agreed.
"Rarity's boutique is not far from here."
Before the thought could be complete, four putrid green lights appeared in the sky above them, screaming toward them like wayward comets. The assembled Equestrians (and David) dove out of the way seconds before impact, the changelings responsible throwing dirt and dust in all directions as they landed.
Twilight immediately responded with a blast of magical energy, flooring two of them. Another lunged at Applejack, who swatted it aside with one powerful strike. The last was swiftly advancing on Spike before being enveloped by Twilight's magic. The creature flailed fruitlessly before the unicorn hurled it into a nearby fence post. The changeling impacted with an audible thump, sliding down to the base of the post with a dazed look in its eyes.
The first two, by now, had pulled themselves to their hooves, but did not attack. The display from both Twilight and Applejack made them hesitant, and also made them open to attack. David managed to slip behind the two in the chaos, holding both hands above them as he clenched them into fists. He brought the bottom of his fists down onto the changelings' heads with moderate force and much to his surprise, they collapsed almost instantly.
"Well that was easier than I thought..." David mused aloud, looking surprised at his outstretched arms. He had never assaulted anything in Equestria, and did not know how his own average strength fared in this new world. Apparently it was enough to knock out a few changelings. David figured it could be a win chalked up to "fodder goon syndrome", rather than exceptional strength on his end.
After making sure the changelings were sufficiently subdued, the group collected itself once more, standing in the dim glow of Twilight's horn.
"We need a plan," Twilight said at last, looking from each member of their party.
"But Twilight," Spike began nervously, glancing warily at the unconscious changelings as he spoke. "If a place like Canterlot couldn't hold off an invasion like this, how in the world will Ponyville?"
A cruel silence overtook the area, with the sounds of muffled chaos hanging in the background. Each of the assembled ponies looked at Spike with a mix of depression and irritation. His negativity wasn't exactly appreciated, but he was just voicing what everyone there was thinking, so they couldn't blame him.
"I don't know, Spike," Twilight said at last, her eyes burning with a rekindled determination. "But we have to try!"
The other ponies (and David) voiced their approval.
"If we're goin' down, we're goin' down fightin'!" Applejack chimed in with an enthusiastic "yee-haw!"
"We need to find the others if we have any hope of using the Elements of Harmony," Twilight began, getting down to business. "But we also need to send a message to Princess Celestia. Spike!"
The dragon seemed to jump at the mention of his name.
"I need you, AJ, and David to head back to the library to write the letter. Send it as soon as possible!"
Spike nodded nervously, clearly very frightened by the situation.
"Pinkie and I will head to Carousel Boutique to find Rarity. We'll all meet up at Fluttershy's cottage as soon as both groups are able."
"Gotcha loud an' clear Twilight!"
"Okie dokie lokie!"
"Uh...go team?" David added, not sure what else to say.
The group split up, both heading back into Ponyville albeit in two different directions. It wasn't long before Twilight and Pinkie disappeared into the darkness, and with the unicorn's departure, they too entered the pitch blackness.
"We did not think this through," David stated as they fumbled around in the dark. Their eyes had adjusted much to the darkness by now, but it was still very difficult to see, especially in a hostile environment.
"Maybe its for the best," Applejack said after a few minutes of wallowing through the dark. "We can't see anythin', they can't see us." She paused. "Changelings can't see in the dark right?"
David and Spike said nothing.
Applejack's hunch had proven correct, it seemed. Their slow pace toward the library was met with surprising success. Changelings darted overhead, that much they knew; the beasts were revealed by their glow or by the sounds that they made. Eventually the light shining from the interior of the library became their goal, and in time they found themselves at the doorway they had fought their way out of not long before. Applejack led the charge, with David and Spike following close behind.
The ease of their mission had run its course, however, as they entered. The library was a mess; books and parchment were scattered everywhere. Many of the displaced supplies were torn or singed as well. Had Twilight been with them, she may have died from shock on the spot.
Three changeling drones were still in the process of tearing the library apart, as if looking for something. Two of them hovered near the ceiling, while one was tearing through books on a shelf not far from the door.
"Oh no you don't ya varmint!" Applejack cried as she launched herself at the nearest changeling, tackling the creature to the ground just as it tried to tear apart another book. This, of course, alerted the other two, who dive bombed the distracted earth pony with reckless abandon.
David, swiftly retrieving a nearby book of sizable mass, whistled to get their attention. As the two slowed to see what was calling to them, the first was knocked off course by the projectile literature, crashing loudly into a nearby bookshelf. The other was so distracted by what had happened to its comrade that it did not realize Applejack preparing her own attack. As the changeling neared, it was met with a fierce buck from the earth pony, catapulting it into the far wall. The battered creature crashed into a pile of books with a groan, and did not rise again.
"Nice one," David commented as he approached. Applejack gave him a pleased grin and trotted further into the library. The man looked back at the doorway, having lost track of Spike during the encounter. The dragon was peering cautiously around the edge of the door, slightly more brave now that the changelings were incapacitated.
"Spike, get in here!" Applejack called, apparently noticing his lack of appearance too. The dragon jumped a bit and jogged into the room, eyeing the changelings warily. "Find some paper and a quill and get that letter to the Princess! More of those darn things could arrive at any moment."
"N-no pressure..." Spike said aloud, mostly to himself. David and Applejack assisted in locating the proper material, however, and it wasn't long before Spike sent a somewhat wrinkled scroll to the Princess.
"Now let's get going. Who knows how long it will take us to find the cottage in the dark," David said a moment after the scroll disappeared in a puff of smoke. Applejack nodded, hoisting Spike onto her back and galloping out of the library, David following close behind.
The group stopped before they got too far into the town itself.
"Is it really wise to go straight through the town like this?" David asked after a few moments of silent staring into the dark. "Shouldn't we stick to the outskirts, try to remain out of sight?"
"And leave our friends and family to fight these monsters alone? No way!" Applejack disagreed with a defiant shake of her head. "We need to help as many ponies as we can!"
"We won't be helping anyone if we get ourselves captured," David insisted, giving the earth pony a stern look. "What if Twilight wants to use the Elements, and Honesty is in the clutches of the changelings?" This made Applejack hesitate.
"But we can't just leave 'em to fight on their own!"
"Fine," David conceded with a shake of his head. "We can head through the town, but if things get too hairy, we need to get out of there immediately, no questions asked."
"Ah can work with that," Applejack agreed with a grin.
"Great, now lets get moving."
The chaos only continued to increase as they got further into Ponyville's center. Nearly all of the residents were outside, some fleeing in terror from the attacking changelings, others fighting defiantly against them. Some were already subdued, however; caught in a putrid green substance that bound their limbs, these ponies weren't doing much of anything anymore. Freeing them needed to be a top priority if they wished to help the citizens of Ponyville.
Applejack was difficult to keep under control, however. The moment a changeling appeared, she was already on top of it, beating the tar of out it with her hooves. She was no pushover; as more changelings flocked to them to try and bring the unruly earth pony down, Applejack knocked them around as easily she had the others. Many frightened ponies seemed inspired by the earth pony's efforts, and joined in the fight against their attackers.
Soon, a full scale battle was raging across the dimly lit center of Ponyville. Pegasi and airborne changelings were dog-fighting above, while earth ponies and unicorns used magic and brute strength alike to attack their foes. Despite their efforts, the changelings seemed limitless; for every one that was knocked out of the fight, three more took its place.
David noticed, even in the chaos of the moment, that neither pony nor changeling were particularly difficult to take down. Even if one of the combatants was simply tripped with enough dramatic force, they seemed to be knocked out almost instantly, or at the very least dazed enough to be subdued. This did little to take the danger out of the situation. It was perhaps even worse because of it; if Applejack was taken down it such a way, what hope would they have?
David spent most of his time trying to defend himself and Spike, who was cowering behind his legs. He tried to keep Applejack within sight at all times, but such a thing was easier said than done when the pony threw herself in any and all fights around her.
A changeling flying above hissed and dove toward David without waring, prompting him to duck swiftly to avoid a collision with his head. The changeling landed with a thud behind him, prompting a frightened scream from Spike. The creature's wings buzzed menacingly as it prowled toward them, fangs barred like a bizarre insectoid lion on the hunt.
David, putting some trust in what he had seen, suddenly kicked out at the creature. His foot connected with its bottom jaw, closing its mouth rather violently as it flipped backward onto its back, a dazed look about it.
"...How do I keep doing that?!" David exclaimed, more terrified than impressed. He wasn't exactly experienced in the art of combat. Thankfully for him, the universe he was in seemed willing enough to compensate.
His victory, as strange as it was, was short lived: three changelings were already screeching toward them like disgusting alien missiles. David grabbed Spike and jumped back with a short yell, avoiding the initial impact of the creatures.
"Applejack, I think its time we got to the cottage!" David called over the sounds of battle around him, backing slowly away from the approaching changelings, holding Spike near his shoulder to try and keep the little dragon out of harm's way.
"We can win this!" Applejack replied absently, smashing two changelings' heads together and watching as they fell to the ground in a daze. Despite the display, she did not seem to be as in control as she seemed: teeth clenched, hair frayed, and panting heavily, the earth pony's fight was slowly draining out of her.
"Applejack!" David screamed, glaring at the stubborn earth pony before jumping back to avoid a lunge from one of the changelings. He kicked out at them, hitting nothing but getting some much needed distance. Applejack was still fighting despite his efforts, defiantly knocking a changeling aside as three more dove on top of her. The earth pony threw all of them off with a single thrash, bucking one of them mid-air in one smooth motion, causing it to crash into two others advancing on another pony.
"D-david! David!" Spike cried, pointing in horror over the man's shoulder as he tried to squirm from his grasp. Just as David turned his head, a changeling swooped past his neck with mere inches between them. The creature shot off into the dark with some purple and screaming held in its insectoid legs.
"SPIKE!" David roared as he realized what had happened. By the time the name reached his lips, the little dragon was already gone.
And there was nothing he could do.
David's gaze - a mix of surprise and anger - turned to the changelings in front of him, which cackled manically as they advanced. One lunged with a hiss, fangs barred as it attacked. David lashed out with a fist, striking the creature on the side of the head which caused it to crash back into the ground and bounce a few feet away, its eyes askew in a daze. Almost immediately after the attack, one of the changelings collided forcefully with his abdomen, knocking the air from his lungs and almost throwing him off balance. David wrapped his arms around the creature and hurled it away, the changeling shrieking as flew into the darkness against its will.
As angry as he was, and as much as he wanted to find Spike (or at least avenge him), he knew they needed to get out of there, and quickly, or they would join him in captivity. He turned and ran from his remaining attacker, which quickly galloped after him with an excited hiss.
"Applejack!" David cried as he ran, though the earth pony did not seem to notice. The changeling chasing him was now running alongside him. Before he knew it, the beast was launching itself at his neck. David ducked, the changeling passing mere inches above his head. The creature, not expecting this, collided awkwardly with the ground on the other side, eventually collapsing in a twisted heap on the ground some distance behind him.
"Lets," David began, grabbing Applejack by the waist and hoisting her under his arm. "GO!" he concluded charging off into the night with the Element of Honesty struggling in his grasp. The two moved like this for several minutes before they finally slowed to a halt. Both were panting heavily, and David noticed signs of wear and tear on the earth pony.
"Why'd you go and do that," Applejack snarled, barely managing to force the words from her mouth as she staggered toward him. "We had a chance to end it!"
"Applejack, Spike is gone," David stated forcefully and bluntly. The earth pony's eyes widened. "We were almost next. We need to get to the cottage and regroup with the others. Now."
"But Spike-" Applejack began, turning back toward the direction of the town square.
"We'll get him back," David stated firmly, glaring in the same direction. "Don't you worry. But now, we need to find the others."
"The cottage could be in a mess of trouble too..." Applejack stated, turning away. She seemed conflicted. The pony was smart; she knew what they needed to do. But her loyalty to her friends, family, and countryfolk was definitely making it difficult to choose. "Let's go. The sooner we regroup, the sooner we can get back in the fight."
David nodded, and the two ran off into the night, hopefully in the direction of their destination.
The trip to the cottage was surprisingly uneventful. Although it took them longer than usual to actually find it, the amount of resistance they ran into was surprisingly thin. The massive battle taking place in the square seemed to be drawing all the combatants from the other regions of the town, pony and changeling alike. A few subdued ponies were freed along the way; the green substance did not fair well against Applejack's hooves. Some of the now-free residents of Ponyville ran off out of town, while others charged further inward to help in the fight. Either way, it was none of their concern what they chose. They did not blame the ones who wanted to flee.
In time, the dim glow of Twilight's horn came into view. Her and two other shapes stood near the cottage, apparently waiting for them. As they approached, the shapes became Pinkie Pie and Rarity. All three of them seemed no less worse for wear; they apparently fared much better than David and Applejack.
"Boy am I glad to see you gals!" Applejack said with a sigh as they approached. This caused all three of them to jump. The earth pony seemed to have forgotten they were still in the pitch darkness.
"Applejack!" Twilight responded, smiling at the earth pony. David came into view a few moments later. "I'm glad to see you are both-" She stopped suddenly, glancing from one to the other. Both Applejack and David looked shamefully at the ground. "Where's Spike?"
"They took him, Twilight," Applejack replied with a look of concern and anger.
A deathly silence passed over the area.
"Not him too..." Twilight said quietly, every ounce of happiness disappearing from her features in an instant.
"They got...Spikey Wikey?" Rarity asked in disbelief, tearing up dramatically. "...I'LL TEAR THEM APART!" The sudden shift in emotion caused all of them to look up in surprise.
"What did you mean by 'too'?" David asked suddenly, noticing the oddity in Twilight's words.
"They got Fluttershy too!" Pinkie explained, giving David a surprisingly serious look. "We saw them carrying her off when we got to the cottage!"
"I tried to stop them," Twilight added, her head bowed once more. "But they were too fast. None of us can fly. There was nothing we could do..."
"What about Rainbow?" Applejack asked, noticing the lack of the blue pegasus.
"As I told them," Rarity began with a clearing of her throat, having since calmed herself. "I saw Rainbow Dash shortly after this whole mess started. I tried to convince her to stay in the boutique where it was safe, but she refused. She went off to fight those horrible creatures."
"Great," Applejack said sarcastically. "Spike and Fluttershy were kidnapped, and Rainbow Dash is missin'. What the hay do we do now?"
"Maybe we'll find Rainbow Dash when we find the others!" Pinkie chimed in suddenly, hopping up and down. "If I know Dashie, she'd be off to save those two as soon as she found out!"
"Looks like we're going back into town, then," Twilight replied, prompting a nod from each of the assembled ponies (and David).
David, Applejack, Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie swiftly reentered Ponyville proper. With Twilight leading the charge with light from her horn, their trek was not the inaccurate fumbling Applejack and David were used to at this point.
The chaos they had seen previously paled in comparison to what befell Ponyville now. A horde of changelings were battling it out with those citizens that did not flee, both in the air and on the ground. The brave Ponyvillians were hopelessly outnumbered however, and it would only be a matter of time before all was lost. With no chance of further communication with Canterlot, they could only help their countryfolk as best they could and hope Celestia would arrive, possibly with the Elements in tow.
"This is madness!" Rarity commented as they watched the desperate struggle unfold. Applejack and Twilight were both clearly determined to fight, while Rarity and Pinkie seemed rather out of place.
"We have to help them!" Twilight declared as she downed a passing changeling with a quick burst of magical energy.
"Ya don't have ta tell me twice!" Applejack replied with an enthusiastic rear. Soon the two were charging into the thick of the battle, leaving David, Rarity, and Pinkie in darkness.
"How barbaric. Is it really necessary to settle our differences this way?" Rarity asked, the question directed at no one in particular, as her horn began to light the way for them.
"Remember: they have Fluttershy," David said, hoping to spur something out of Rarity to get her to participate.
"And Spike!" Pinkie added with a frown.
"Poor Spikey Wikey!" Rarity lamented, though her sorrow was quickly replaced with fury. "Those...disgusting...distasteful...RUFFIANS!"
Before David or Pinkie could process what had just happened, Rarity was charging into the fray with teeth barred, throwing changelings left and right with her magic. The two stood in silence for a few moments.
"Well that was easier than I thought it would be..." David said, mostly to himself. "I suppose we should help some of the ponies the changelings have tied up."
"We're not ganna help Twilight? Or Applejack? Or Rarity?" Pinkie asked with audible concern.
"They can handle themselves. I hope. They won't be able to fight for long if they have no support, now will they?"
Pinkie simply stared at him.
"Let's just go."
"Okie dokie lokie!"
The two fumbled around in the darkness as best they could, using the light from the various battles to best guide their path. David was surprised at the lack of resistance for most of the journey; the changelings were content to fight those already engaged, it seemed, rather than seek new targets.
"There's one!" Pinkie called suddenly, pointing toward two stallions caught in a mound of the putrid green substance they had seen earlier. "Make that two!"
"Good eye," David commented as they made their way over. The man tried to keep a low profile to best avoid detection, but his pink companion did not seem to care about stealth one bit. She happily hopped the distance to the incapacitated ponies and stared quizzically at the material binding them until David joined her.
The two seemed to be in a daze, and did not react to their would-be rescuers as they approached. David prodded the green material expectantly, and found it to be hard and plaster-like, rather than sticky as it may have appeared. Pinkie placed her head near to the substance, as if listening for something. After a few moments, the pink pony pulled her head away and shrugged.
"Well, I guess we have to start somewhere..." David thought aloud as he gripped the green paste with both hands and pulled. Almost immediately, a chunk of it broke off with an audible crack, causing David to fall onto his backside. The putrid material was still in his grasp.
"You did it!" Pinkie observed excitedly, giving him a wide grin.
"I've said it once, and I'll say it again: that was easier than expected."
Almost as if in response to this statement, two changelings passing overhead noticed the two trying to free the subdued ponies. Hissing, the two creatures launched themselves into a wild dive, the sound of which was thankfully loud enough to give David enough warning before impact.
Throwing himself out of the way, he watched as the two changelings collided forcefully with the material they were trying to break, blowing apart one side of it instantly. Ignorant to their mistake, the two changelings advanced swiftly, their fangs barred and their wings buzzing.
"I'll handle this!"
"Wha-" David began just as Pinkie sailed by his head with a determined growl. The two changelings seemed as caught off guard as he was, both being thrown to the ground as the pink pony crashed into them.
"That's for Fluttershy!" she yelled as she smacked one of the changelings upside their head, causing its head and neck to vibrate in a very cartoony fashion. The other changeling got to its hooves and hissed, changing before their eyes into the form of the pink pony assailing them. After being freed from the pink pony's fury, the first changeling assumed the same form and rejoined the battle.
"Aw crap I forgot they can do this!" David yelled aloud as he watched three Pinkie Pies fighting wildly. To make things worse, it seemed like they were as confused as he was; no Pinkie was spared an attack from any of the other two. He had to find a way to tell them apart, and quickly.
"What?" one Pinkie said.
"What?" another Pinkie said.
"Where?!" the third Pinkie said, looking around excitedly while her doppelgangers stood in confusion.
"Gotcha," David said with a smirk as he brought his fists down on the two Pinkies' heads, causing them to collapse in their true forms. The true Pinkie continued to dart around looking for the bear she had heard so much about.
"I don't see him Mr. David!"
"That's bec - You know what, nevermind," David said with a shake of his head, breaking away more of the green substance to completely free the two subdued ponies. Almost immediately after being freed, the two stallions came to, regarding David and Pinkie with wide eyes. After quickly thanking their rescuers, the two darted off to rejoin the battle.
As David looked around for another pony in need, something shot by overhead at incredible speed and smashed into the side of the building they happened to be standing next to. David ducked instinctively, fearing another aerial assault, while Pinkie simply looked up in confusion.
Two blue hooves reached up to grasp the edges of the newly created hole as Rainbow Dash hoisted herself partially out of the building. She had seen better days: her hair was dirty and unkept, her body was covered in cartoonish signs of battle, and she was practically glaring out at the battle with her teeth bared.
"They just keep coming!"
"Rainbow Dash!" Pinkie called excitedly, running up the wall (much to David's amazement) to be face-to-face with the blue pegasus.
"Pinkie!" Rainbow Dash said with some surprise, and some relief. "I'm glad you're OK. Oh, hey David," she greeted the man with a very uninterested tone.
"Nice to see you too."
"Its crazy out there! Those changelings don't know when to give up!" the pegasus growled as she pulled herself from the building and fluttered to the ground. Pinkie leapt down moments later, standing beside her friend with a frown.
"Have you seen Fluttershy yet?" David asked, suddenly becoming very serious.
"Yes. They are holding her and a lot of other ponies inside the town hall," Rainbow explained, brushing herself off with a hoof. "If they aren't coming out of there, they're coming out of the Everfree Forest! Its like the entire changeling population is attacking Ponyville!"
"They do seem pretty desperate," David observed with a frown. "Have you seen the others yet? They ran off as soon as we got here."
"Yeah, they were talking about launching an attack on the town hall. I was all for it until a bunch of changelings attacked," she explained, staring angrily back into the battle. "It was a huge swarm, and I took the fight back into the air until one got a lucky shot and knocked me over here."
"They're still fighting, then?"
"Yeah! And we're missing all the action!" the pegasus responded, flexing her wings. "We need to get Fluttershy out of there! Let's go!"
"For Fluttershy!" Pinkie called dramatically as Rainbow Dash took to the air once more. The pink pony galloped after her, leaving David in solitude.
"Why do they keep doing that..." David said with a sigh, before he, too, charged into the fray.
Traversing the battlefield proper was easier said than done. Had the Ponyvillians any organization at any point, it was surely gone by now. The changelings seemed to realize how useful their shape changing was; no longer was the battle between pony and changeling, but against pony and pony. It was even more chaotic then before, as the changelings had difficulty recognizing friend from foe as much as the Equestrians.
"Twilight?" David asked, tapping one pony on the shoulder. The unicorn turned and immediately launched herself at him with a hiss, prompting him to put up his arms in defense, catching the doppelganger by the chest. With a grunt, he tossed the disguised changeling a few yards away, where it landed awkwardly on its head, and resumed its true form.
"Not Twilight!" David breathed, the encounter leaving him more than a little rattled. A few moments later, a number of magical blasts shot past him left and right, hitting numerous disguised changelings. Another Twilight appeared a moment later, battered and bruised, but glad to see him.
"David!" she called as she approached. The man was on edge for a few moments before he realized the difference in behavior from his last encounter. "You're the only friendly face I know I can trust at this point!"
"Finally, being a human in Equestria is useful," David replied with a laugh, which quickly died in his throat. "So anyway, where are the others?" he asked, before looking around at the chaos around them. "Ok, stupid question."
"Hopefully they will regroup around you if we give them the chance," Twilight explained, blasting another doppelganger mid-air. Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie swiftly joined them, as well as numerous other ponies revealed to not be changelings. Soon, David had become a sort of rallying point for the Ponyvillians, as he was the only being that could not be copied.
"Let's start moving toward the town hall! We have to free those inside if we want to drive the changelings out of Ponyville!" Twilight called out over the crowd, standing on a large crate to more effectively get everyone's attention.
With a collective nod and shouts of encouragement, the crowd began to move toward the center of town. The group was tightly packed, and those unicorns and pegasi within it were quite effective at keeping the airborne changelings at bay. Earth ponies and pegasi of all shapes and sizes stood at the perimeters, pushing back against the swarm of doppelgangers, using David as an anchor to where there allies were located, and where their enemies came from.
Their progress was slow, but undeniable. The chaos of the battle had been cast off, and now they were actually getting somewhere. In no time at all, they stood at the entrance to the town hall. The green substance that had bound their brethren was all around the building, blocking their immediate access. But this would not stand for long.
Twilight and a few other unicorns began tearing away at the barrier with their magic, while the rest held the changelings at bay. David stood at the epicenter of the action, too far to participate, but close enough to witness it all. Pegasi and their doppelgangers clashed in the air, though those who were not changelings in disguise kept close to the group to prevent more confusion. Unicorns supported their airborne brethren as best they could from the ground, while earth ponies and grounded pegasi maintained a defensive line to keep out the doppelgangers.
Although they put up a valiant defense, they were slowly being pushed back against the barrier. The changelings were simply too numerous to avoid it. In order to stay organized, they needed to keep close, and they were losing ground fast.
"We've got it!" Twilight called excitedly as the barrier was finally pried away from the double doors. David breathed a sigh of relief. A very close call indeed.
But as the doors swung open, every bit of remaining spirit was drained from the group instantly. Inside was not only their missing kinsmen, held in grosteque pods, but another horde of changelings poised to attack. And at their center, was their queen: the terrible Queen Chrysalis.
"Oh shi-" David began, just as a changeling's hoof collided with his cheek, causing his head to jerk to the side. Attacked from both sides, the ponies tried their best to resist. The changelings were not held off as effectively as before, however. Another of the blighted creatures shot past David's head drenched in putrid green magic, singeing the side of his face rather painfully. The man's heart began to pound as he realized he was being targeted.
A moment later, a changeling smashed into his chest, knocking him to the ground. Their anchor gone from their sight, the group of ponies quickly descended into chaos; it soon became impossible to tell friend from foe. The ponies and their enemies threw themselves at each other in a wild frenzy, all to the sound of Chrysalis' mad laughter.
David quickly threw the changeling off him, even after it assumed the form of Applejack to try and confuse him. He saw the madness around him, but he also saw that he was no longer the focus. The changelings had done what they intended, and he was no longer their concern. With blind determination, David charged through the horde of battling ponies and pushed into the town hall itself.
Much to his surprise, he was not alone. Moments later, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight emerged from the crowd around him, apparently having the same idea: rescue Fluttershy. After eyeing eachother for a moment, the group was about to continue before a blast of green magic struck the ground in front of them.
"And where do you think you are going?" Chrysalis asked with a demented cackle, buzzing her wings threateningly. The changelings hovering around her mimicked her actions.
"What do we do now?" Rarity hissed to Twilight. They were all frozen mid-step.
"I'll hold her off. Find Fluttershy and get out of here!" the purple unicorn responded, her horn glowing menacingly as she stepped toward the queen of the changelings.
"Are you insane? We're here to get the last Element of Harmony! If you get captured in her place, you still won't be able to use the Elements!" David argued, stepping forward alongside Twilight. "Just go get Fluttershy. I'll see what I can do."
Twilight stared at him for several moments before she turned away. "Thank you, David."
The four ponies ran off into the rows of captive equines and out of sight.
"Did I not make myself clear?" Chrysalis called after them, buzzing forward to pursue. David took another step toward her, his arms out at either side in an attempt to block her. She could have easily flown around him, but it was the implication of his actions that made her stop.
"Why not deal with me first."
"Please," the queen of the changelings scoffed. "I know what you are trying to accomplish. Do you take me for a fool?"
"I was thinking 'coward'," David retorted with a smirk. He ignored his heart thumping in his chest.
"Take care of him," Chrysalis barked to her minions, who suddenly straightened and nodded. "I've got better things to do."
Five changelings shot toward David with manic laughter, not even bothering to change form to fight him. The man assumed a stance similar to a boxer, his fists raised in front of him as they approached. As the first tried to collide with him, he struck out with an arm, punching square at the center of its head, stopping it dead. The changeling fell to the ground in a daze, the momentum of its charge doing more damage then the punch itself.
The others, to not share a similar fate, broke off and circled around him. As one cackled and darted past, David grabbed one of its back legs and swung it into another that was coming in for a pass, causing both to soar a few yards in a tangled heap before crashing into a few encased ponies.
Chrysalis had not gone far. The man's actions had apparently made her curious, and now she watched intently with a dissatisfied frown.
The two remaining changelings darted in from either side, one slamming against David's stomach, forcing the air from his lungs, while the other collided with the backs of his knees, causing him to fall onto his back as they darted away. The man clenched his teeth and rose to a kneeling position, just as one shot past his nose, narrowly missing his face. David, with a look of determination, rose to his feet and ran toward Queen Chrysalis, forgetting the two remaining changelings.
One fist raised, the man lashed out with all his strength at the bored-looking queen. Her horn began to glow seconds before impact, and the next thing David knew, he was thrown back across the room with a burning sensation gripping at his chest. Colliding forcefully with the ground near the entrance, the man lay still for a few moments, trying to catch his breath.
"Whatever you are, you are not the challenge I thought you'd be," Chrysalis said flatly, buzzing a few yards closer. "I thought you were some sort of secret weapon! Some new tamed beast they were using for defense. Oh what a ridiculous sentiment."
For once, David agreed with the changeling queen.
Pushing off the ground with his hands, he looked down at the shirt Rarity had made for him. It was dirty, wrinkled, and singed. David looked up at Chrysalis, his eyes burning with anger. But before he could rise, he found himself floating up into the air, as if he were weightless, his vision was clouded with a translucent green color. It was not an unfamiliar feeling; he had felt the same when he had his...encounter with Twilight.
"Now if you don't mind," the queen of the changelings began. "I believe I have other business to attend to."
David was launched out of the doors of the town hall and into the large square that had hosted much of the battle. The world became a blur around him as he soared, landing hard on his side and tumbling a few yards across the ground. He gasped as he finally came to a stop, coughing as the air was once again forced out of him.
"I...tried, Twilight..." he breathed, slowly trying to rise. The battle was almost over; around him, many of the ponies he had seen fighting were restrained, and any others were fleeing into the empty streets of the town. The changelings hovered in both disguised and unaltered forms all across the town square, chasing what remained of the denizens of Ponyville.
David managed to get to his knees as he caught his breath, his mind racing. He had to do something. A reset? No, such a thing was too unpredictable. Causing a reset now might as well hand Ponyville to the changelings; the reality he would awake into may be one where Ponyville has already been taken under their control. But he had to do something. He had to help them.
The sound of a commotion caught his attention, prompting him to look up toward the town hall. He could see the changelings crowded around something, with bright flashes of light erupting around them. Suddenly, Twilight was charging through them, with Applejack close behind. Above them flew Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. They had succeeded! Incredible. Perhaps he had held off Chrysalis long enough after all-
...Where were Rarity and Pinkie?
After breaching the ranks of the changelings, the four ponies hit relatively open ground. The changelings, strangely, did not pursue. They remained clustered around the town hall, cackling mockingly as they watched the ponies flee. Twilight seemed to notice him as she scanned over the area with her eyes mid-run. Without even slowing down, she engulfed him in a field of magic and galloped away, bringing him with her as they fled toward the edge of town.
Twilight shook her head.
A few minutes later, they were back at the cottage on the outskirts of Ponyville. Twilight slowly placed David on the ground and just about collapsed herself, clearly exhausted. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash hovered above, while Applejack stood not far away, watching Ponyville with her hat held close to her chest. Fluttershy seemed visibly shaken, and Rainbow Dash seemed extremely angry.
"How could we just leave them like that?!" the pegasus yelled at no one in particular, swiping at the air with a hoof. "They were our friends!"
"We had to, Rainbow," Twilight assured, though her eyes remained locked on the ground. "We...we can regroup. Then we can rescue them and the others."
An uncomfortable silence dominated the area.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by the sound of flapping wings. All five denizens of Ponyville looked up as a magnificent white chariot touched down not far away. Pulled by two royal guards, the chariot was an immaculate white with gold trimming, and atop it stood the proud but concerned form of Celestia.
"Princess Celestia!" Twilight exclaimed. All four ponies' expressions immediately brightened.
"I came as soon as I could, my faithful student," Celestia replied. "And I did not come alone."
Fifteen pegasi touched down a moment later, all wearing the golden armor of the Royal Guard. Each, a force to be reckoned with.
"That's what I'm talking about!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed as she looked over the small army. "We can take Ponyville back!"
"I hope so," Celestia responded with a frown, looking out at the town in the distance. "Somehow I don't think it will be so simple."
"Queen Chrysalis is here," Twilight said as she stood alongside her mentor.
"As I feared."
"We tried our best, Princess," Applejack began, bowing her head. "There were just too many of 'em."
Celestia nodded, giving the earth pony a sorrowful smile. She looked around, and her frown returned.
"Rarity and Pinkie Pie?"
"Captured," Twilight explained, hanging her head. "Spike too."
David remained on his hands and knees, his fists clenched on the grass beneath him. His mind only continued to race, trying desperately to find a solution to the problem. He couldn't help but think of Pinkie. The only creature he had never known to be so incredibly accepting; so unfailingly kind and good spirited. Even when fighting the changelings, she made it seem like a game.
She did not wish harm on anyone. And they failed her. He failed her.
"Come," Princess Celestia said suddenly. "We must begin."
Celestia, the four ponies, their small army, and David all made their way back into the town. It was eerily quiet now, as the last of the resistance had been subdued or run out. Only the sounds of their hooves echoed throughout the dark for most of the journey. Soon, however, a new sound joined them: the sound of hundreds of buzzing wings.
The entourage entered the town square and was immediately greeted by an army of changelings standing or flying in front of the town hall. Queen Chrysalis stood on the stairs leading up into the building itself, surrounded by her minions.
"Ah, the illustrious Princess has decided to join us!" the queen of the changelings called out to them, prompting manic laughter from her subjects. "I was wondering when you would arrive, Celestia."
"What is it that you hope to accomplish here?" Celestia retorted, her voice dangerously serious. She was in no mood for games.
"Simply put, this town is now ours," Chrysalis explained bluntly, placing a hoof at her chest. "Along with those who decided to stay behind."
"You cannot hold those citizens against their will!" Princess Celestia called back, her eyes narrowing.
"You are in no position to make demands."
David sat at the back of the entourage, behind a few large crates. He held his head in his hands, going mad with the desire to help the situation. He felt so powerless. Pinkie, Rarity, and all those other ponies were now nothing but food for the changelings. Even with Celestia's aid, they had hostages, they had numbers; what hope was there for them to take Ponyville back?
"Can't we come to some sort of an agreement?" Celestia said with some difficulty. She did not like the notion of conceding something to the changelings, but she had no choice.
"There is nothing you have that we can't take by force," Chrysalis replied with a laugh, one that was quickly joined by her minions.
David couldn't take anymore. He was sick of feeling like an invader; he was sick of being powerless; he was sick of being subjected to this broken reality. It was a cartoon world, and he was a victim to it; nothing more than a pawn.
"I am a human being..." David murmured, staring blankly upward. "I am a master of my own destiny..." he continued lowly, looking down at his knees. A brilliant, blooming flower appeared before him, rising and budding in a matter of seconds. Soon, he was surrounded by a field of beautiful plants, rising into their prime before his very eyes. They appeared at his touch; their existence, a victim to his whims and desires.
David could feel his perception expanding to levels he never thought possible. His hair stood on end, and his eyes became a solid glowing white. He gasped, jerking his head upward, the experience almost indescribable. He could feel the world and all its imperfections; it was as if he had awoken from a dream, without leaving the dream. He was lucid and aware; everything was subject to his will, manipulated by the merest thought.
He was not the only one aware of this, however. The universe itself felt the danger that such an understanding presented, and threatened to close in around him. But he was beyond it now; with a single thought, it was held at bay. David's pupilless eyes shifted away from the sky, and back down to the colorful bed of flowers before him. An intense dread filled the air; changeling and pony alike turned slowly to the crates, to the source of their sudden sense of doom. The flowers began to wilt, their lives fading in an instant. Soon, the man was surrounded by death; death cultivated from beauty.
His teeth were clenched, his muscles tense. He was in control now. He would be a pawn no longer.
The crates around him exploded, sending splinters of wood in all directions. David stood slowly, his sightless gaze turning to the changelings that loomed in the distance: the source of all his woes, and the woes of Equestria; of Ponyville; of Pinkie Pie, his only true friend.
They would pay.
Glaring at his quarry as he approached, the grass beneath David's feet became blackened and lifeless before their eyes. Changelings screamed in surprise and terror as they were hoisted into the air, struggling vainly against a force they couldn't even comprehend. Chrysalis' head darted around to look at her subjects, her expression confused and desperate.
"Wh-what is this?!" she cried, her twisted horn glowing as she tried to counter the magic at work. But there was no magic at work here; David wielded the very nature of their broken reality against them now. "Stop this! Put them down!"
David, his glowing eyes shifting to the queen of the changelings, grinned. He would take pleasure in tearing the vermin apart before their queen, the way they tore apart the lives of the Equestrians. The changelings' screams became ones of pain, rather than confusion.
"Please! Have mercy!"
"Mercy?" David repeated, his voice echoing around the lifeless, battle-scared remains of Ponyville. "You ask that they be spared, the way you were going to spare those ponies a life of captivity, to be regarded as nothing but food?!"
The changelings' cries increased in volume and intensity. Chrysalis looked up at her subjects, before shifting her attention back to David, her gaze pleading and desperate. The man couldn't help but smile.
"You and your miserable kind are nothing more than a blight upon Equestria. I will make sure that you never threaten it again."
The man raised an arm, causing the captive changelings to shoot even higher into the air, screaming in pain and terror.
The sound cut through the man's deranged focus like a knife through butter. He turned with a snarl, glaring at the one response; Twilight Sparkle stood before him, a look of horror and concern upon her face. David's furious gaze lost some of its energy.
"What are you doing, David?" the unicorn asked, her eyes just as pleading as the queen of the changelings. The man looked up from Twilight, to regard the rest of the assembled Equestrians. Many mimicked the librarian's emotions, while others regarded him with disgust and anger, as if he were the enemy.
"Saving Equestria!" he snarled, clenching a fist before them to demonstrate. The changelings suddenly stopped, along with their cries. "And your friends, Twilight! Have you forgotten about Fluttershy? About Rarity? About Spike? About Pinkie?!"
"This is not the way, David!" she pleaded, glancing to the exhausted changelings looming overhead. "You're hurting them! Please, stop this!"
"HURTING THEM?!" David roared, the very air around him becoming steam, as if his body was several thousand degrees. The Equestrians recoiled back in fear. "Are you insane, Twilight?!"
The unicorn took another step back. David watched as her gaze became that of pure terror; she saw him as nothing more than a monster. The anger faded from the man's visage; the glow engulfing his eyes disappeared, revealing his own confused, desperate gaze.
"Twilight..." he began, reaching out to the unicorn, who only continued to back away. The Equestrians looked on, terrified or horrified with his actions. David looked to them with a pleading stare, but none of them stepped forward.
He was prepared to destroy the changelings, to erase them from the fabric of reality, yet they acted as though he were committing some heinous crime. Was this not war? Should they not be fighting, or retreating, even if they knew their enemy was beyond them? They did not regard him as an enemy, but as a murderer.
And so did the Equestrians.
These creatures knew nothing of death, let alone wanting to cause it. But he did. Here he was, about to bring an end to them all, as they stared, wide eyed and terrified, at the monster before them.
David collapsed onto his knees, the changelings held in his grasp falling to the ground at the same time. He stared, wide eyed, at his own hands, at what he had almost done.
Even with the power at his disposal, he could not fix this. It was as if he were in a waking coma; lucid and aware, but unable to return to the waking world. Not even this higher existence could return him to the world he knew, to rid Equestria of him completely. And even if he removed the changelings safely, returned everything to normal, and even wiped his own memory, he would not feel safe.
If he had found a way to exploit this universe's broken state once, he would surely find it again. And maybe next time, there would be no one to stop him.
He wouldn't let himself fail; he wouldn't give himself the chance.
"Welcome to the Canterlot sculpture garden!" Cheerilee exclaimed, prompting excited "oohs" and "aaahs" from her students.
Her previous class had enjoyed the trip so much that she decided to make it a tradition of sort, to expose as many of her students to the history and the art of the garden as she could.
Cheerilee and her class made their way through the garden gradually, as she explained the nature of the various statues, and their significance to Equestrian society.
"This statue represents Friendship," she explained, pointing to a statue of three small ponies stacked atop one another with looks of happiness and joy. "And I don't think I need to tell you all why friendship is so important!"
"This one represents Victory," Cheerilee began as they passed another statue, one of a pony holding a flag. "It stands as a symbol to those who fight in the name of peace and harmony."
"What's this one, Miss Cheerilee?" one filly asked, pointing a hoof at a strange statue a fair distance from the path.
"This statue is easily the most mysterious of those in the garden," Cheerilee explained as she trotted over. It depicted a strange humanoid creature, like an upright ape, staring sorrowfully down at the group. "It depicts a mysterious creature that no longer lives in Equestria. Many scholars believe it to be an extinct species from ancient times. It represents Sacrifice."
"If that's true, how did they carve a statue of it?" a small colt asked excitedly, probing the statue with a hoof.
"No one knows the name of the artist who carved the statue. Few are sure how it came to be at all! That's where the mystery comes in," Cheerilee explained with a wink. "And over here, is a statue that represents Discord..."
We join our heroes in their epic final confrontation against the demented Queen Chrysalis. Celestia and what remained of the Elements of Harmony would fight to take back Ponyville, but it would seem that all was lost. With hostages and numbers on their side, the changelings had little to fear.
"Queen Christmas!" Celestia called as they approached, watching as the changelings parted to reveal their wicked queen. "Ponyville belongs to the ponies, its in the name and everything!"
"Princess Celery, you've finally joined us!" the evil queen of the changelings exclaimed with a harsh laugh, echoed by her many minions. "I don't have to listen to you! Queens are higher rank than Princesses!" she retorted as she pushed one changeling off the stairs with a hoof.
As the two played a vicious game of wits, David, the lone human in Equestria, cowered helplessly behind some crates. He was so tired of being picked on by his pretty pony neighbors. He just wanted those stupid changelings to die.
"Woah I can feel my fingers," Dave gasped as he felt a sudden surge of power. He had pushed past the mental and physical barriers preventing him from realizing his true potential as a real being inside a fictional world. It was like a lucid dream, except real but also not because its a cartoon. It was totally trippy.
"This is totally trippy!" Dan roared as he shot upward with a surge of energy. The ponies and changelings looked up with confusion, some scowling, some clearly jealous.
"Dude. Denny, I didn't know you could fly," Celestia declared as she watched him spiral gracefully in the sky above, her face twisted into a scowl. "I have wings and I can't fly."
"I have the power of a god!" Demetry yelled as he did a figure eight in the air arse-first. "I'm going to transform these changelings into a bar of soap."
The changelings gasped. "All of us?!"
"Every single one."
Dale began circling the changelings threateningly as the trail of sparks coming from his backside became blood red in color. The poor creatures watched on in terror.
"But we're a people of peace, Damion!" Queen Chrysalis cried in horror as she watched Derek circle ever closer to where they were standing.
"Woah," Donald gasped as he suddenly came to a stop. "Are you serious?"
"Oh shit," Douglas cried as he slammed face-first into the ground, his hands grasping at his hair. "I've been such a dick."
"Yeah kinda," Chrysalis agreed, while Princess Celestia and her friends nodded along.
"How have I been so blind," Drew lamented as he slowly stood on his head. "I won't ever bother you again!"