Chapter 2 - Fauster's
- Whether or not I continue from here will depend on if I find it worthwhile to keep writing the story. I just wanted to get my urge to write a MLP: FiM-related fanfic out of my system
- Honestly, human form apparel were all chosen from fanart that I liked. I can't really credit people since there are probably tons of artists who have drawn the same kind of attire for humanized ponies
Twilight Sparkle moaned as she slowly awoke to find herself in an unfamiliar surrounding. She had been lying face flat upon a pile of fallen autumn leaves. Taking a glimpse of the area, she could obviously tell it was a dense forest. But it was surely not any forest she had ever been to. As she rose up to her hooves, she felt strangely different. She wondered why standing made her feel awkward until realized that she didn't have any hooves at all! She had forelegs that were now arms with white skin. She could also properly stand upright just like Spike now. Despite this sudden change, walking was easy for her and seemed to come naturally.
"What the! How did I turn into...this! Did everypony else go through the same thing? Wait! The Princess and the others! Where are they!"
Twilight heard a soft groan behind her. She turned to find her friends lying before her. All except Princess Celestia... They too had been transformed into humanoid forms. Thankfully, there were still recognizable as they retained their hairstyles and overall color scheme. Another difference was that they had suddenly gained new clothing. Twilight looked at herself again to find she was wearing a white long sleeve collared shirt along with a purple vest and black pants.
"Wha-! Where did these come from...? Augh! I have no time for this!"
Twilight crouched beside Fluttershy who was closest to her. She was now wearing a yellow turtleneck sweater and red pants. She began to stir once Twilight shook her a few times. Fluttershy quickly opened her eyes and almost screamed at the sight of this "stranger" to her. Twilight was forced to cover her mouth in order to prevent drawing attention. She couldn't blame Fluttershy for her reaction though; she probably would've done the same thing, although maybe a little less audible.
"Fluttershy! It's me! Twilight!"
"T-Twilight?" Fluttershy stared in disbelief. But the longer she gazed at the girl's face, she realized it was truly her friend. "Wha-What happened to you...? Eek! And what happened to me!"
"Calm down! It looks like we're fine for now. As for moving around, just pretend you're Spike or something, alright?"
"O-...Okay..." Fluttershy seemed to struggle with standing up at first. But like Twilight, she was able to easily adjust.
"You're doing great! Now help me wake up the others."
Twilight hurried over to Applejack and Rarity while Fluttershy managed Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. Applejack was now wearing a yellow flannel shirt tucked into a pair of blue jeans. One thing that hadn't changed was her cowgirl hat although it was slightly adjusted to fit her blonde head. Rarity now wore a white long sleeve shirt made of expensive-looking fabric and dark pants with a large black belt around her waist. Twilight didn't recall Rarity previously wearing her glasses, but they were now resting inside the fashionista's shirt pocket. Pinkie Pie wore a pink short sleeve and a skirt of a darker shade. Somehow her hair had gotten even wilder than usual, but Fluttershy was able to correct it. Rainbow Dash was wearing a light blue t-shirt torn jean shorts. Surprisingly she reacted with more fear than Fluttershy upon waking up though she stubbornly denied it.
As for all of their cutie marks, they were all incorporated into their clothes in some kind of fashion. Twilight's stars were now the logo embedded onto her vest. Applejack's apples and Rarity's diamonds became their belt buckles. Fluttershy's butterflies were stitched into her sweater. Pinkie Pie's balloons and Rainbow Dash's rainbow-lightning-bolt-cloud were printed as a large image on their shirts. Some of them wanted to checked their flanks to see if their original cutie marks were still present, but a subconscious feeling made them feel doing so would be inappropriate.
"What in tarnation?" Applejack wondered aloud. "How in Sam heck did we end up like this?"
"You got me." Pinkie Pie answered. "But you gotta admit! These clothes are really neat! You should make us more of these, Rarity!"
"Hm...yes," she observed, "it does match my 'simple' tastes although a few more tweaks and modifications ought to do it... But I surely wouldn't recommend wearing them for a formal event! Except maybe Twilight's... It does look quite nice. It's like on...middle ground between formal and casual... Oh! Idea! I should start a line that could be worn in multiple types of occasions-! No wait...bad idea. That would surely give the impression that a pony is being too lethargic to bother with differentiation... Buuut...! Oh, it could go either way. Twilight, do you have any thoughts?"
"Could we stop talking about clothes and start talking about how we ended up here!" Rainbow Dash angrily exclaimed.
"Let's just start with what we already know." Twilght suggested. "The castle was falling apart. Princess Celestia was protecting us from a falling chandelier. And then we fell into that weird vortex. Anypony know what came next?"
They all shook their heads no. Falling into the vortex was the last thing they all remembered before slipping into unconsciousness.
"Wh-Where's the Princess?" Fluttershy asked.
"She wasn't around when I woke up." Twilight replied, a feeling of sadness in her tone.
"M-Maybe she just went to search for help." Rainbow Dash suggested. "Let's look for her!"
"Rainbow... If she left, she would've made tracks in the nearby dirt."
"But what if she never got turned into these...things. She could be flying around for all we know."
"If that were true, she would've at least informed us about a safe place by now."
"Then I'll go- Ah! My wings! They're gone!"
Rainbow Dash desperately tried to feel her back hoping she had made a mistake. Fluttershy was panicking too. She hadn't realized that her wings were missing too. It didn't take long for Twilight and Rarity to register that their horns were gone as well. They also panicked as they tried to conjure some type of magic. Fortunately, they both felt a sudden surge within their fingertips as a few magical sparks flew out. A little more experimentation revealed the hands to be their new magic focal point. Seeing a small glimmer of hope in this discovery, Rainbow Dash tried focusing energy into her hands but got no results. The others couldn't help but giggle a little bit. The mental image of Rainbow Dash flying with her hands seemed ridiculous.
"Ah'm sorry, Rainbow." Applejack said in a serious tone after calming down. "That was kinda rude of us... Ah mean, we know how much those wings meant t'ya..."
"It's...alright." she replied calmly. "I mean...it's only a body, right? I can just get them back once we turn back to normal!"
"Well...it's nice to yer bein' optimistic."
"I don't mean to interrupt," Rarity began, "but what is this place? The Everfree Forest?"
"It sure ain't no part of the Everfree Forest Ah've ever been to..."
"I just hope we can find shelter before dark..." Fluttershy muttered.
"Well we won't find it by staying here." Twilight announced. "Let's go."
Using some magic to confirm her suspicions, Twilight was able to at least figure out which direction north was. The Sun seemed unreliable since Princess Celestia's fate was still unknown and nopony else knew if Princess Luna fell victim to the vortex as well. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were sent ahead to scout for a nature path. They soon reported back having found one to the west. Unfortunately, they had also found signs that warned of danger beyond them. They only had images, no actual words. Specifically, it was a yellow triangle with an exclamation point inside accompanied by a trio of strange green "blob" creatures below. It was at least comforting (in a distorted perspective) for them to know that signs still had the same meaning to their own. Seeing as how it was more dangerous up ahead, the group decided to follow the path south and hope for the best.
"Sh-Shouldn't we be hurrying?" Fluttershy worriedly asked. "I mean...the sign could mean there could be vicious monsters nearby..."
"We can't risk it." Twilight replied. "We barely know the geography around here. I'm sorry but for all we know, we could be walking right into them. We need to be cautious!"
"Hey, wait." Rarity called out. "Is that...an exit over there? Oh! And...paved road!"
Rarity was correct. An exit from the forest die lie ahead. Everypony gave a running start as they soon emerged at the outer edge of a suburban neighborhood. It seemed normal, but there was something more "distinct" about the designs. The ponies didn't how to describe it. They simply shrugged it off as being unfamiliar with this kind of architecture. They rarely ventured far from Ponyville, Canterlot, and the Everfree Forest after all.
"Wow! We were closer to civilization than we thought!" Applejack remarked.
"Hey!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. "Let's go check out that cool-looking house over there!" She pointed to a strange, tall, mansion-like building towards the southeast.
"Are ya sure we should just go knockin' on some random door? Ah mean, we don't know the customs around here. Or if they even speak the same language..."
"It's worth a shot." Twilight replied. "If all else fails, just pretend we got the wrong building and walk away politely."
The group approached the iron fenced-property. The front gate was left wide open so it offered a somewhat welcoming feel. The language barrier Applejack mentioned didn't seem to present a problem as Twilight could easily read the sign just past the gate. The house seemed to be used for a business as the sign read "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends".
"What kind of people profit off a business with 'Imaginary Friends'?" Rarity questioned.
"Gullible children, I suppose?" replied Applejack.
"Ooo! I wonder kind of friends they have!" Pinkie exclaimed.
"I hope they're nice..." Fluttershy muttered.
The group proceeded through the front gate and down the walkway that lead to the front doors. As soon as they reached the front steps, another person suddenly came out holding a broom. It seemed she was about to sweep the front porch before she noticed the girls. She was a little taller than them and had her red hair in a spiky ponytail. She wore a white shirt with a green hooded sweatshirt overlaying it and a blue skirt. She gave a warm smile and kindly welcomed the girls. All feeling of hostility and wariness was lost.
"Hi there! Can I help you?"
"Yeah." Twilight answered. "We...got lost and now we're looking for our friend. She has long flowing hair of pink, blue, and green. Has anyone like that come by here lately?"
The woman smirked. "Hehe! She a fan of the Powerpuffs?" The girls look at each other strangely. None of them ever heard a name like that before. "Anyway, hmm...no. We don't get too much business lately so I definitely would've noticed that person if she came by. We're more of a shelter than an adoption agency now..."
"Um... May we...come in? We don't exactly know where to go now."
"It's alright if-"
"No! It's fine! It's just that...our caretaker, Mr. Herriman, can be pretty stuck up sometimes. You'd probably be treated as any other Friend in this house, given chores and stuff."
Twilight look back at her friends to see them nodding to her in agreement.
"Anything's better than having to spend the cold night outdoors." Rarity told her.
"Alright." Twilight said to the woman. "We'll stay."
"Great! My name's Frankie. Welcome to Foster's!"
Princess Celestia began to stir and found herself within Canterlot Castle's dark basement. The earthquake had caused the interior to fall into ruin but still remain stable. Once her vision cleared, the princess soon noticed that a strange event was occurring all around her. Everything within the room besides herself was tinted with a shade of blue. Celestia moved closer to a fallen pillar and attempted to physically move it. It was no use, not even her magic would make it budge.
"Time has completely come to a standstill..."
Worried about what happened to the rest of the castle, Celestia flew up and headed back to the throne room. Time had stopped here as well. The entire room was still falling apart although in a frozen state. A large portion of the ceiling had broken off and was now hovering a few meters over the throne. Th princess was grateful that nopony was directly beneath it. Upon gazing out the window that provided a spectacular view of the land, Celestia found the entire city in a time-halted state. What's more was that the land beyond Canterlot's borders had completely vanished like it never existed. Canterlot was now a large land mass suspended in some sort of pocket dimension.
Celestia quickly searched the castle for any pony at all. Within the main foyer, she found a group of three royal guards, but time had stopped for them as well. Celestia stared sullenly at their petrified faces and movements. She was at least somewhat glad that they weren't aware of themselves. Reversing the effect of this dimension would would surely free them and make it so that it felt like nothing happened at all.
The princess continued searching for the girls, but only found more petrified guards, some running for their lives while others were attempting to assist their comrades. It seemed not a single pony had escaped the time stop other than herself. Finding no trace of the girls and feeling depressed as a result, Celestia quietly returned to her audience chamber and stared at the two empty thrones. She was at least glad her sister wasn't caught up in this situation and forced to share this fate.
"Luna...I leave Equestria to you..."
"Oh? Why so glum?" a voice suddenly asked her.
The princess turned to see a male who, unknown to her, was taking the same kind of form as the girls. Celestia stared dumbfounded at this being she had never seen before. He was dressed in a white lab coat with a brown vest underneath and black pants. Celestia didn't feel any harmful intentions from the man, but his "strange" smile just made her suspicious.
"Who are you?" she asked. "And what business do you have here?"
"I should be asking you the same thing. Nothing should exist within this dimension besides empty space. As for my name, please call me Professor Paradox."
"Professor Paradox...are you the cause of all this?"
"Me? I would never...! Hold on..."
Paradox walked off and suddenly disappeared as he passed behind a pillar. Celestia then heard footsteps behind her and saw Paradox walking right through the entrance doors. It was like he had already been walking to the throne room while she was still engaged in the previous conversation!
"Oh good! I just left. Perfect! Yes, it was that demonic creature who petrified your city and transported it here."
"How-... How did you know?"
"I'm a time traveler. I exist beyond space and time. I can freely travel between eras and even universes. I'm sure you have numerous questions going through your head right now so let's start only with the important ones."
"Like the Doctor...?" Celestia wanted to asked Paradox if he was an acquaintance, but there were more important questions on her mind. "Who is Demongo? And what does he trying to accomplish?"
"The being you encountered? That wasn't Demongo at all, an imposter! Well technically he's a recolored replica of the original, but he's still a fake nevertheless."
"What do you mean exactly by 'replica'? Has someone been able to perfect that shameful practice?"
"He was a being known as a 'Fusion'. In one of the infinite number of universes, there exists a alien overlord name 'Fuse' who travels the galaxy, absorbing every planet he comes across. He does this by sending his monsters across every land to infect the planet so that it may become compatible with his. To command his army, he creates replicas of the targeted planet's residents called Fusions. Fusion Demongo was one of these commanders. In fact, he's Fuse's right hand man."
"I do not wish to sound like I don't care for others' safety, but if he's targeting one world...then why did he invade mine?"
"Fuse has been...taking an interest in other universes and time travel recently. The man did his research. He wanted to harness your Discord's power and add it to his own."
"There is no possible way someone can control discord incarnate."
"Which is why Fuse wants to challenge himself to do the impossible. He has done it before. There's no doubt he'll require time to research Discord further before he can attempt anything. Speaking of Discord, he is in a safe place, correct?"
"He should be. The lengths I went to properly seal away his statue would require multiple ponies of my power to undo."
"I'll trust your judgement then. Any more questions?"
"...Where are the girls? And why haven't I been affected by this dimension?"
"The girls are safe for now. As for you, you were within close proximity to the Elements of Harmony. That coupled with your powerful magic protected you from the initial effects of this dimension. I wouldn't recommend staying here for long unless you're with a person like me. There's no telling how long until this dimension finally gets to you..."
"Then can you take me to the girls?"
"Are you abandoning your kingdom?" he said in almost perfect imitation of Twilight.
"I said it before to my faithful student. I am not. But after hearing what you told me, staying here clearly won't do me or my people any good. And my magic obviously won't help either."
"As expected from a proper princess. Alright, but I do have to warn you. The Elements did have another effect on your friends."
"And that is?"
"Let's just say they were transformed into a more...suitable form to help them blend into the world's society."
"And what about me?"
"That's not within my power. You'll remain the same, but I'm sure you possess some kind of transformation magic, correct? I wouldn't worry though. Where they ended up, you shouldn't stand out too much. There are much more stranger things that exist there..."
"Ah! Miss Francis! There you are! And who are these people?"
Frankie had shown the girls inside the chairman's office of the house. Seated at the other end behind a wooden desk was a tall rabbit who was writing out documents. He dressed in a black gentleman outfit though only the upper portion of it. He wore a monocle above his right eye and a tall and skinny top hat. Fluttershy (and the other girls as well) was surprised to see that he could talk, especially in a proper etiquette. She had never encounter any rabbit with the ability to speak normally. She wished Angel could've been here to witness this event.
"Hey, Mr. Herriman." Frankie greeted him. "Do you mind giving these girls a place to stay for a while?"
"Miss Francis, we run an adoption facility, not a homeless shelter. If they're lost, simply take the bus and act as their valet."
"Don't put it like that! And besides, how can you talk about business when there are monsters running about? You know what happened the last time I took out the bus!"
"M-m-monsters?" Fluttershy worriedly asked.
"Oh! Sorry about that! Don't worry! They don't usually come near here anyway."
"Sorry if I'm being clueless," Twilight interrupted, "but what monsters?"
"Oh, you call them aliens too? Yeah, aliens, monsters, whatever. Ugh, this whole worldwide invasion thing is driving me nuts!"
"I suppose you're right..." Mr. Herriman admitted after extensive thinking. "I apologize, ladies. Miss Francis, you may show them to the three vacant rooms near yours. I can see you've already made a bond with them."
"Thanks! Alright girls, follow me. You don't mind a lot of stairs, do you? The elevator's still getting fixed and our repairman can't do it right now."
Frankie lead the girl back to main foyer and up the grand staircase which branched off into two ends. They took the left fork and found themselves traversing numerous hallways and even more staircases. The color scheme and style of each room and hallway were uniquely different from the other so it was a decent change of scenery as the girls passed by. Countless party ideas were racing through Pinkie Pie's head of how to utilize each room to its fullest. If it wasn't for the fact she didn't know where anything was, she would've raced off to the party store now in excitement.
"So what exactly do you do here?" Rarity politely asked Frankie.
"Me? I mostly just clean, do the cooking, and basically a lot of other chores around the house."
"You mean you clean this entire house by yourself? Goodness!"
"Of course not! We have the Imaginary Friends do the chores as well."
"Uh, not to be rude, but how exactly are imaginary friends suppose to help? They're supposed to be...y'know...imaginary?"
"Oh. You never had one before?"
"Well, when I was a child yes, but now-"
"Oh sorry. Let me rephrase that. Did you dream of one before?"
"When a kid dreams of a friend, he becomes real. It's as simple as that. Don't worry about it though! Sometimes it's difficult for some people." Frankie noticed their continued glances of confusion. "Oh... I guess you really haven't met a real Imaginary Friend before, huh? Well if you need convincing, just look at Mr. Herriman. He was my grandma's Imaginary Friend. Have you ever seen a talking rabbit before...? Wait, that's a bad example. There are some talking animals living north of here..."
"So uh... Where are these 'Imaginary Friends'?" Applejack asked. "All around us?"
"Nah. Mr. Herriman basically put them all under house arrest."
"Someone in this house pulled a massive prank and no one fessed up to it so the rabbit punished everyone..."
"What was the prank?"
"...Just don't open the door that leads to the top floor unless you want everyone to be swept up in a massive indoor tidal wave..."
Rainbow Dash soon received some glares. "What...? Oh come on! Like I'd ever do that...! Okay, but you've gotta admit! That sounds hilarious when you picture it!"
"It sounds fun!" Pinkie exclaimed. "An idea who did it?"
"Probably Bloo." Frankie replied. "But I have my doubts since he's been in and out of the house lately and shouldn't have had enough time to set this up..."
"Why don't I help catch the culprit for you?" Twilight suggested.
"Y-...You'd do that?"
"I think I may know of a way. But I'll need some privacy."
"Alright. As much as I enjoy having some free time, I can't stand the thought of everyone getting unfairly punished for this. C'mon. We're almost to your rooms."
The group came into a hallway with a greenish yellow color scheme. Further down, they passed a door with Frankie's name on it. Frankie then opened the door to the next room. Inside was a simple living space. The furnishings mainly consisted of a bunk bed, a large drawer, a wardrobe, and a closet. Other than that, the room was hardly decorated. The wallpaper was the same style as the hallway's and only one basic portrait was hung on the wall. At the very least, the large window provided a nice view over the courtyard towards the back of the property.
"Sorry if bunk beds aren't your style," Frankie apologized, "but we do it for when we get overloaded. Anyway, the rooms across from here and mine are also yours. They're pretty much like this one but mirrored in some way."
"This is fine." Twilight replied. "Thank you."
"If there's anything you need, don't be afraid to call! I'll probably be in the kitchen if you do. Just head back to the foyer and it's opposite of where Mr. Herriman's office was through the dining room."
Frankie left to resume her duties as the girls gathered inside the room. Applejack, still tired from everything that just happened, decided to lie down on the bottom bunk. Rainbow Dash took the top to at least have a reminiscent of being able to fly above the other again. Rarity was by the window, observing the rest of the property, particularly the marble statues and fountains in the courtyard. Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy had sat down on the wooden floorboards and were watching Twilight empty her bag's contents.
"Wha'cha doin?" Pinkie asked in a curious manner.
"Helping Frankie catch the prankster. What else?"
Applejack turned her head. "Uh, don'cha think we should be workin' on findin' a way to...y'know...turn back to normal and get back t'Canterlot?"
"We don't even know if we're still in Equestria. And even if Rarity and I combined our magic, I doubt we'd get results."
Rainbow Dash moaned in frustration. "Ugh... Why do you girls still get to use magic while me and Fluttershy get stuck with no wings?"
"I'm guessing...whatever these people are called aren't born with wings."
"But they can use magic!" Rarity pointed out. "In that case, we can find a powerful magician to send us back!"
"And how do ya suppose we do that?" Applejack asked back. "We barely know where we are!"
"Oh... Well, I was gonna leave that part with you two..."
"At least getting on these people's good sides will help." Twilight remarked.
"Speaking of those people, do you really think they believe in imaginary friends?"
"Maybe things in this place work differently. Did you see how big this house is? There's no way it could fit all these rooms we saw. Something must be enchanted about this house..."
"Are you saying they're plotting against us?" Fluttershy asked.
"I wouldn't think that. Frankie didn't seem like a 'deceiver' type to me." Twilight opened one of her books and turned to a specific page she had bookmarked. "Thank Celestia I happened to be studying a type of tracking spell. I'll surely be able to find the criminal now!"
Pinkie's stomach then began to grumble. "Well, while you're doing that, I think I'll go check out that kitchen! Maybe I can make some of our favorite cupcakes!"
Pinkie Pie merrily hopped out the door while humming to herself. Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity soon followed, wanting to explore more of the house. Knowing Twilight, they thought she would need peace and quiet.
"I guess it's just me and you, Fluttershy. Do you mind holding the book while I practice this?" She hesitated to ask her next question. "...And be the test subject? Don't worry, it won't hurt! I promise!"
"Uh... Okay, if you promise..."
Fluttershy stood up and grabbed the book from Twilight's hands. Twilight felt awkward now that her magical focus point was her hands rather than her horn now, but she was determined to adapt to it. She closed her eyes, and began focused on attaining peace and tranquility. Fluttershy observed a red aura enveloping Twilight's hands as it slowly flowed towards her and surrounded her body. She want to yelp, but the feeling was somewhat relaxing. Within a few seconds, there was a flash of light and the aura had vanished instantly. Fluttershy then looked up to see Twilight's eyes had gained a red tint. It looked a little menacing (and disturbing), but Fluttershy felt no drastic change within Twilight. If fact, the former unicorn seemed dazed.
"Are you okay, Twilight?"
"Y-Yeah... I'm fine. Whew, this spell makes things look really weird..."
"What do you see?"
"I-... I can see the places you've been. I see your footprints, where you sat, everything! Even a vague silhouette of you walking around! It's like I'm watching a film where a ghost is trapped reliving a moment in her life."
"...So um...do you think you can find the prankster?"
"I'm positive! C'mon, let's go see Frankie!"