Part I: Welcome to Equestria
Chapter II: Canterlot: An Explanation
"Okay, start with flexing your wings," Rainbow Dash said, unfurling her wings and stretching them to full length.
We were waiting at the train station for the 9am train, and Rainbow Dash decided now was a better time than ever to start my flight training. I felt the new muscles move and my wings slowly stretched to full length. Looking behind me at them, I noticed they were about twice the size of Dash's.
"Wow, those are big," Dash said in fascination, "Shame you never use 'em."
"Don't have much a choice," I said. Fluttershy and Twilight sat a short distance away, watching. Not like there was anything better to do.
"Okay, close them and flex them faster," Dash ordered.
I did so, closing them much faster than it took to stretch them. I stretched the unfamiliar muscles again and the wings went out in about double the speed, but it was still fairly slow. Dash ordered again, acting more like a drill sergeant than a coach. I closed them again, letting them rest.
"No resting, again, you can't rest mid-flight!"
A taste of my old home. A charge of anger filtered through my veins and my wings shot out, sounding like a whip. Dash jumped back and my anger was replaced with laughter.
"Not bad, Colt," Dash said, a smile on her face, "Not bad."
I folded them back up and Dash floated up into the air, looking for the train, "There it is guys, about two minutes away," She lowered herself back to the ground, "Enough to start another lesson."
She demonstrated unfurling her wings and slowly flapping them up and down, and then sped up slightly. She bent her knees and hopped, her wings carrying her off the ground. Then she retracted her wings and fell the five feet to the ground, "Go."
I stretched my wings again—trying not to whip them—and moved the muscles slowly up and down.
"Faster," Dash urged.
The large wings caused a lot of wind resistance, but I tried.
I bent my legs and jumped hard in the air, the wings stopping me from falling. At this point I panicked and my wings curled up, and I fell. Straight on my face. Fluttershy jumped from her seat and rushed toward me, but Dash got to me first, helping me back on my feet with a grin on her face. Fluttershy attacked me with a barrage of questions and moving my head this way and that making sure I wasn't too badly hurt.
The train showed up halfway through Fluttershy's inspection, so I had to convince her all the time while boarding that I was okay. After convincing her that I was fine, she backed off, but still kept her eye on me.
Dash walked up to me and patted me on the back with her forehoof, "You're not bad for a beginner. It takes most foals at least a week to get that going. Took Fluttershy almost a month!"
Fluttershy blushed and hid herself behind Twilight, "I'm sorry, Dash. I tried!"
Dash laughed again, "Don't worry, Shy. I was happy to coach you, remember?"
She still kept herself hidden, and Dash rolled her eyes with a grin and looked back to me, "You keep doing that awesome, I can show you Cloudsdale next week, and we can have a nice race next month when we get to the speed section!"
The conductor walked into the cabin, "Good morning, gals and sir. This train is headed to Fillydelphia then to Canterlot. Is that where y'all are headed?"
Twilight answered, "Yes, sir. Thank you."
The old pony smiled and lowered his head, then left the cabin.
"No tickets or anything," I asked, instantly feeling stupid, remembering currency did not exist here in Equestria.
"What would we need tickets for," Dash asked.
Twilight explained further, "They stopped doing tickets about 87 seasons ago when the companies decided it would be easier on paper supplies to just ask us where we were going instead."
Fluttershy spoke quietly, "Yeah, they got rid of them before any of us were born… except maybe Dash. She's a season older than me."
I sat down on one of the comfortable train benches, "So you guys DO keep track of your ages, then?"
They all looked nervously at each other, and Twilight spoke up, "Well… Yes… mainly because Pinkie throws awesome parties…"
This made me laugh. They were ashamed of their secret greed, "So how old are you girls then?"
Dash: "88," Fluttershy: "Almost 87," Twilight: "79"
"What about you," Dash asked.
I thought back to the paperwork. My mind could be any age, but that didn't matter because I didn't remember, I suppose. The paperwork claimed the body of the pony was 19 years of age exactly from the day it was created, so I answered, "76."
"So are you gonna tell us how you got here," Rainbow Dash asked about an hour later, interrupting me from my book about alchemy.
I looked up from my book, "Not yet. As I told Twilight and Spike before, everypony finds out at one time so I don't have to repeat myself or in case I leave something out one time."
Fluttershy looked around, "Where is Spike, anyway? Wasn't he supposed to come with us?"
"Yes," Twilight answered, "But he slept in, so he's taking the train after ours."
"So, can you tell us anything about your world," Dash asked, ever curious.
"Well, while your world seems more matriarchal, my world rarely let females as leaders," I explained, uninterested, "We did at one point, but that slowly declined until few remained in power."
"We don't have leaders," Twilight said, "and it does seem that females have the more intellectual jobs, now that you mention it, but that's because stallions prefer tougher jobs like farming and machining."
"But we do have a lot of guys in jobs girls normally have," Fluttershy commented, staring at the floor, "and nopony really criticizes anypony else for their jobs or likes. It's what they were born to be."
Twilight added in her own thoughts, "Exactly. We do what we want and nopony really cares what we do as long as we do something."
"It's a better system than my world," I said, "Many of us couldn't be what we wanted to be because of how disadvantageous it was to us and our families."
None of them seemed to understand what I was saying, but, then again, how could they? Through just being here a few days, it blew my mind how this world could exist without an economic system. Dash changed the subject yet again.
"So what was your job before you came to Equestria," she asked.
"I was a detective. I investigated crimes and put violent and evil people in jail," I explained when I got confused looks. They remained nonetheless.
I sighed, "Basically I helped put people who hurt other people in a secluded space so they couldn't hurt anyone else."
"So… you basically tried to keep your village a peaceful place," Twilight asked.
I nodded slowly, "Basically."
The carriage was quiet for a while, so I asked, "So what powers the train, Twilight?"
She perked up at her name, "Oh, they used to be powered with steam and wind power, but now they are powered by magic."
I nodded, changing the subject again, "And how about schools?"
Fluttershy spoke up, "Well, it's different for pegasi than it is for anypony else. We go to Flight School for two seasons before we join everypony else in Foal School."
"Foal School was horrible," Dash said, lying on her back on a bench across from me, "I hated sitting still in class for three hours every day."
"Yes," Twilight argued, "But at least it was only eight seasons, then you got the job as weather-girl for Ponyville. Most of us had to stay for 16 to 20 seasons before we got our cutie marks. Although once I was out of there, I really loved the magic school and the magic college!"
"What about in your world, Shade," Fluttershy asked, "How did school work for you guys?"
I did a few calculations in my head, "We went to one school when we turned 16 to 20 seasons old and stayed there for 24 seasons, then moved onto another school for 12 seasons, and then another for 16 seasons. We went five days a week for 7 or 8 hours a day."
Dash's jaw had dropped halfway through my explanation, "WHAT? That sounds like torture!"
I grinned, "Yeah, but then, depending on your special talent and future job, you may have to go to another school for 8 to 48 seasons. I had to for 16."
By this point, all the mares' jaws were open.
Twilight was the first to recover, "That seems…. Unnecessary."
"Most of the stuff we learn had nothing to do with our future jobs, but our teachers pretended that it did."
"Wha—" Twilight was well more than amazed, she seemed almost angry, "That's… that's counterproductive, to say the least!"
I laughed hard. My laughter spread amongst the mares and we were all soon laughing our tails off.
We arrived in Canterlot an hour later and the conductor thanked us for riding his train. We thanked him for the ride and started heading to the castle. Spike randomly appeared in our group in the middle of the city, his train actually getting to Canterlot sooner than ours, even with leaving later, but it was probably because his was straight to Canterlot with no stop in Fillydelphia. Twilight seemed to get more and more edgy. She seemed excited and could barely hold a conversation for longer than ten seconds. Dash muttered and chuckled at her own joke.
When we got to the castle, two alicorn guards glanced at us and smiled. One spoke, "Twilight Sparkle! How good to see you again!"
"Nice to see you too, Barry," Twilight said with a bright smile on her face, "It's been a season or two."
The other guard spoke, "Barrier and I were just talking about you. We were planning on coming to visit you in Ponyville."
"Well that's thoughtful of you, Sen!"
The first one, Barrier, looked past her to Dash, "Ah, Rainbow Dash. You still owe me that rematch!"
Dash gave a wicked smile, "Anytime, anywhere!"
"When you're done with the business with the princess, we will race one lap around Canterlot."
The second alicorn looked at me and his grin disappeared, his features now of curiosity, "And is this the Enigma Shade fellow the Princess is expecting?"
"Yes, sir," I said, reaching out my hoof in greeting. He somehow grasped my hoof with his and shook it firmly.
"Name's Sentinel. I'm one of the doormen and escorts of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. This is Barrier, my brother."
"Nice to meet you."
I bowed my head, "Nice to meet you both."
They were smiling when I looked up, then they opened the door, "We've held you up long enough, the princesses are waiting for you inside."
We all walked inside, but Twilight's pace was slightly faster. It seemed she could barely contain her excitement. We rounded a corner into a large room with simple furnishings and a fireplace. Princess Celestia sat on one of the couches in the room sipping tea and staring at the fire.
"Good morning, Princess," Twilight said, a bright smile on her face, but her nervous energy did not disappear. Was I missing something?
The regal looking alicorn glanced toward us and a smile spread across her face, "Ah, my faithful students! How good to see you again!" She took note of me, "And welcome, Shade. It is nice to make your acquaintance."
I bowed my head, "As to you, Princess."
"Celestia ple—" She was cut off.
"TWILIGHT!" Another voice came from behind us. I turned around just as everypony else did to find a black alicorn with a mane that looked like the night sky.
"LUNA!" Twilight took off in a full out sprint and jumped into the air within five feet of the dark, regal alicorn. She was enveloped in a blue-ish aura and flew the rest of the way toward Luna, suspended in the air. She wrapped her forehooves around the alicorn's neck and buried her face, garbling her speech, "I missed you."
The princess' face looked of relief and peace, "It's so good to see you again, Twi."
I looked away, feeling as if I was intruding on a personal moment. Dash, Fluttershy, and Spike followed my lead and we stepped in the room. The princess used her magic to shut the door, "Let them time to catch up. They haven't seen each other for a good season."
"That was… unexpected," I said, believing Twilight was nervous about seeing Celestia and not Luna.
The princess laughed quietly, "Oh, it was surprising at first to me, too. They were inseparable for the longest time. The only reason they are apart now is because Luna is assisting with renovating a portion of the castle for a new family."
"A new family?"
"Oh, I forgot," Celestia said, taking a sip of tea, "Princesses do not actually use the castle only for themselves like they do in your world."
I stood for a moment, letting the events of the past two minutes process in my brain. After a moment, the princess urged us to take a seat while we waited for Twilight and Luna. It was only about three minutes later that Luna walked in the door with Twilight on her back, a huge smile on both of their faces. Luna stopped next to the couch Celestia sat on, and Twilight wrapped her forehooves around her neck one more time in a hug before Luna levitated her up and set her next to Celestia and sat on the remaining cushion next to Twilight. Twilight leaned slightly toward Luna, resting her head on the large alicorn's shoulder.
Celestia was the first to break the silence, "You two make such an adorable couple, sis."
Twilight blushed, "Sorry, Princess. I couldn't help it."
Celestia pat her on the head, "Don't worry, I expected as much," She smiled and surveyed the group, "Does anypony else want a cup of tea?"
We all answered yes and Celestia called in Sentinel. He walked in with tea as if knowing that was what she would call for. Barrier walked in with a set of tea cups and set them on the table. Celestia gave them both a sincere thanks and bowed her head. They both walked out with smiles on their faces.
"Such nice young stallions," Celestia said, filling tea cups with her magic and setting them on small tables in front of us.
"So what did you call me here for, Princess," I asked, "And why did I have to bring these guys with me."
Celestia smiled, "Please, you don't have to call me Princess. I called you here to hear your story. I used to be able to see into your world, but the day you came here was the day I lost that sight. I would like to hear you recount your tale of that day to see if anypony else may have made it through."
I looked around, everypony and Spike was watching me expectantly, "Okay, but I'm not sure if you will all understand it."
I woke up to a bright light in my eye. The sun was not yet up. I felt a huge pain in my stomach and an incoherent voice yelling at me. Another shock of pain, this time in my arm. They were kicking me. My mind finally woke up.
"Get the fuck up, maggot!"
The flashlight moved from my eye and I got up, but was kicked back down. I swore this was a great hiding place to sleep. Guess not. The gangs found me.
"Get up!" The laughing voice taunted, "C'mon!"
I stood slowly and reached for my hip, pretending to be in pain. A fist came my way and I pulled a knife from under my shirt and dodged the fist, jamming the knife in the back of the man's head in the process. Two other men pulled out knives and a third pulled out a gun. I threw my knife at the gunman, the knife hitting him between the eyes. The other two charged at me. I sidestepped the first and broke his arm, taking his knife out of his hand. I spun around, slitting the man's throat and jamming the knife into the chest of the fourth. All four men lie dead at my feet. I felt a pang of guilt, but quickly buried it away; this is not the time to grieve for the men who try to kill you. I pulled the knife from the gunman's face and sheathed it back under my shirt.
I crawled out of the wreckage that was my make-shift bedroom and dug inside a broken antique television—those fat ones from the 90's—and pulled out a Molotov I had saved for just such an occasion. I pulled a lighter out next and pulled a sock from my pocket. I opened the bottle and doused the sock, leaving about half the bottle of the Molotov. I stuck the sock in and made sure to dry my hand off before lighting the sock and dropping it in the hole, burning the four bodies.
It was a few miles to my lab, and it was great that I woke up this early. Darkness kept the drones from seeing me. I started sneaking through the rubble pile, finally coming to a fairly debris-free area and made a run for it. After three miles I stopped behind a house to rest. The sun started coming up. I didn't have long. I sat down and pulled a picture out of my pocket. A young girl smiled back at me. I breathed deep to catch my breath. This was for her. I wasn't going to fail. The machines were almost ready.
I ran the final two miles and looked around before tearing the door open in the pile of "rubble". Once inside, I turned a few knobs to make it impossible to open from the outside. I breathed in slowly and calmed myself. The sun had just shown its whole face over the horizon when I got there. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the thumb-sized chip with "Intel" printed on it.
"Fuck whatever god they're fighting about," I told the chip, "You are my savior."
I walked over the pod and opened a hatch at the base. I took my lighter out for a little more light—careful not to get too close to the wires inside—and stuck the small chip into a slot, "Equestria here I come."
I walked over to a small monitor and clicked a button to turn it on. It booted up in seconds. I swiped my hand along it to unlock it via fingerprints and it logged me in. A few processes started and I waited. Waited. C'mon!
"C'mon!" Suddenly a small window popped up saying hardware was installed, "YES!"
Then there was knocking at the door, "Hey! We know you're in there, open up!"
I scrambled for my files. I needed my files!
"You are under arrest for harboring technology against the Templar Order," The voice said, "Open this door at once or we will blow it open!"
I found the file and read through, memorizing my image, my name, and my mark. I looked behind me, banging continuing on the door. Fuck, fuck!
I fed the files into the monitor and it projected a 3D image. It was a pegasus pony. The creature looked like many ponies from a young child's show that was cancelled about 8 years ago. I smiled. It was working!
"Step back from the door, we are placing a mine. If you do not wish to suffer damage, step back or open the door. You have 10 seconds."
I hurriedly typed a few words on the computer, setting it to self-destruct as soon as I was transported.
I looked behind me and then began stripping out of my clothes and walking to the pod. Once everything was off, I stepped in the pod and pressed a few buttons and a few lights whirred around. The door burst open and seven men ran in and started firing at the pod. The bulletproof glass took the damage well. Then I was gone.
I woke up face-down in some mud. I spit a few times, but something didn't feel right. I looked down and the hands the held me up were not hands but hooves. I smiled broadly and started laughing. "YES!" I screamed, "FUCK YES! IT WORKED!"
But my victory was short lived. A growl behind me destroyed my smile. Without looking behind me, I ran. Straight. I felt clumsy on these feet, stumbling every few seconds. Soon, I was out of the forest I woke up in that I had just noticed was a forest. There was a house on a small hill a few meters ahead of me, so I began yelling, "HELP!"
But when the word exited my lips, I felt a sting on my hip. I fell a few feet to my right. My vision began to haze, but a blur of yellow flew past my sight. After a few seconds and a garbled sound, it came back and stood in front of me. I closed my eyes and passed out.
Everypony stared at me as I told the story. I tried leaving out the gory details—the fact that I was a murderer—but that lingered in the air as I told my story. Without my notice tears were falling from my face and only caught my attention when a tissue floated in front of me. I wiped away the tears and continued my story. My voice did not match my emotions. It was dead. Cold.
Fluttershy shrunk away when I mentioned her, but I pat her on the back to let her know I was thankful.
When I finished my story, everypony looked downtrodden and sad. Even Dash, who had tried so hard to maintain a tough composure, had a very depressed look on her face.
After a few minutes of silence, Fluttershy spoke, "The girl in the picture, your daughter, what happened to her."
I gave a single laugh, "She was kidnapped about three days before I brought the chip to my lab."
She slunk down, her face drooping in a frown. I felt as if I should cheer up the ponies, but I didn't know how I could do that. Princess Celestia stood from her spot and walked out of the room without a word. I wondered for a moment where she was going, and I hoped she did not think lower of me for my story. I don't know how much of my world she had seen.
But she came back.
"Shade…" She stepped inside the room and went back to her spot. I looked back at the door and a small white filly with blue spikes, the same design as my fur, walked into the room.
The little pony's eyes lit up, "DADDY!"