Diaries of a Madman

When Discord breaks free of his stone prison, he proves to be much older and wiser than he was on the show. A being of ancient and unimaginable power, he forces Celestia to make a deal to save her little ponies. What she doesn't realize is that one of the terms of the deal is that she forgets ever making it. Enter Navarone, a poor human just trying to get by—or at least, to the ponies that's what he looks like. Pulled from his home by an accidental summoning from one Twilight Sparkle, Navarone is thrust into a world of ponies and more violence than he expected from such a peaceful seeming world. These are his adventures—with a few asides from everybody's favorite Lord of Chaos, of course.

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2. Chapter One—And so it Begins...

You ever have a really, really bad day? The kind that makes you want to just fall into bed as soon as you get the chance? This started as one of those days.

School is school, no matter where you are. But it can be better or worse depending on certain circumstances. I probably have it worse than some, but that’s not really all that important. And jobs are jobs, but helping family on a farm might well take the cake when it comes to difficulty levels and instilling a bone-breaking weariness in your body.

So I think falling into a bed as soon as possible was completely understandable, given the circumstances. My day was hard and I just wanted it to be over. But as I said, the day only started bad.

It quickly got much, much worse. 

I awoke to a strong pulling sensation. Wearily, I looked down at my legs, only to notice they weren’t there anymore. My mind, sluggish from the short bit of sleep, took several seconds to realize that I was missing half my body. When the realization finally kicked in, panic ensued.

Of course, the pulling sensation didn’t end with my legs. I hope I was alone in the house that day, because my shrieks of terror would have jarred my family quite terribly. After several minutes, my entire body up to my head had disappeared. Realizing that screaming in horror wasn’t doing anything to stop it, some part of my rational mind forced my mouth shut.

A second later, I was gone.

There are no words for the myriads of lights I saw and the sounds I heard. The sensations were incredible and terrifying and utterly, completely unique. I can’t say if I would have considered what I went through wonderful or terrible. As I said, there are no words.

Suddenly, the shifting stopped, and I was left with a searing pain in my eyes. It felt as though I was somehow floating... I tried opening my eyes, only to find they were already open. That’s when I realized I was fucking blind

Suddenly, a feminine voice cut through the silence. “Not quite what I was expecting… Spike, take note: The subject appears disoriented. There is little hair covering it, using clothing to cover itself instead. However, its head appears to be covered mostly in hair, with a nose, lips, two eyes, two ears, with hair covering just about everything else.”

Her voice droned on, describing this ‘subject’ with much detail. My mind sorted through some of the details, until I realized she had to be describing me. The shitty beard I really needed to shave was probably what she meant by hair covering everything.

“Uh… Hello?” I managed to force through trembling lips.

“It speaks! And it knows Equestrian! Spike, note this all down. Record everything it says,” the feminine voice spoke in a very excited tone.

“Are you sure you want to speak about it like that? The thing looks and sounds smart…” a more masculine, though childish, voice replied to her.

“There are varying degrees of intelligence,” I answered him, doing my best to keep them busy with talking while I attempted to surreptitiously strain against my bonds. “There’s book learning, wisdom, and common fucking sense. From the sounds of things, your scientist over there has at least one of those,” I said with a small amount of hostility. “I’m hardly a ‘subject’ to study, and my eyes fucking hurt. Whatever you’re doing, hurry it up, release me, and get me a doc or something. I want to make sure I’m not blinded by whatever the hell you did.” Judging by the ensuing silence, I think my gambit of buying time by distracting them worked.

“The subject—”

“I have a name, woman. I’d appreciate it if you considered me a person instead of pretending I’m a science project,” I said.

She huffed, angered at my tone and my rough treatment of her. She must not be used to teenagers, I thought to myself. “I’m Twilight Sparkle and this is Spike. Now, what is your name?” she asked me.

Not very fucking polite, but I might as well at least give her something. “Navarone, at your service,” I replied, the lie coming easily to my lips. I have always heard that it’s a good idea not to give captors many details about your life, and Navarone is a name I’ve used in the past. It wouldn’t be too hard to answer to until I could get home. “Now, would you kindly tell me where I am, how I got here, and who you are?” I was still trying to stall, to maybe figure out where I was.

“A question for a question seems fair to me,” she said. I might have been wrong about her, I thought. Maybe some common sense after all. “Where do you come from?”

“Hardly an original question, but seeing as how I still seem to be restrained, we’ll play your game.” Not knowing how to answer, I told her the truth, relatively. I’m a bit of a sarcastic bastard… “Texas, United States of America, North Western Hemisphere, planet Earth, solar system Sol, galaxy Milky Way, third dimension.”

“Well that doesn’t tell me much,” she muttered.

“From the sound of things, you weren’t expecting it to,” I answered. “Now, where are we?”

“My answer will tell you just as little, I suppose. Equestria,” she told me, with a hint of a smile in her voice. “What species are you?”

“Equestria? I may be American, but I’ve seen a few maps. If you want to give me crap answers, maybe I should do the same for you.”

“I told you it probably wouldn’t tell you much. Now, answer the question, please.”

“Fine! Human. Technical name Homo sapiens.” Due to my lack of sleep, it didn’t occur to me at the time why she would be asking what species I was.

The younger voice said, “Hey, she didn’t ask if you prefered mares or stallions!” What the fuck? I never mentioned animals!

“Homo means same, Spike,” the female voice told him. “Now shush. Your turn, Navarone.”

Ask about the stallion thing later. “How did I get here? I remember finally managing to get to sleep, then getting pulled somewhere else.”

“Hm… Put simply, I used a spell to summon you here.” Spell? Like, magic? “I don’t really know the equivalent word in your world.” Suddenly, my mind started to make a few connections. Before I could act on them, I was being questioned again. “You are wearing clothing. What is it made of?”

My mind was alive, sparking with questions and possible answers. I knew I had to keep playing her game, though. “The shirt is cotton. The pants are denim. The socks are probably cotton. The shoes are rubber and plastic, I think. Now I might know the right question to ask. What the hell are you?” I asked her, dreading the answer.

She smiled. How I could tell, with my eyes not working, I don’t know. I could just feel it. “I,” she said, “am a pony. Welcome, Navarone, to Equestria.”

What the absolute fuck? There were many possible answers I expected to hear. An alien, maybe, or a government agent testing a teleportation device on some random guy. Some weird nerd in a basement using a voice modulator, sure. But a talking pony? That never even crossed my mind. 

Not that my surprise stopped her from continuing, of course. “Your skin appears to have very little hair on it. Why is that?” she asked me.

“Wait, wait, wait. You’re a talking horse. What the hell is he?” I asked, referring to Spike. “Don’t tell me: A fucking talking rat?”

“I could count that as your next question, but I’d prefer you answer mine first.” You’re lucky I can’t move, bitch. I’d reach over there and smack you one! 

“Besides,” Spike said with an insulted tone, “everypony knows rats can’t talk.”

And everyone knows ponies can’t talk either… Wait, did he say everypony? I had to admit, panic was creeping back into my mind. It was being overshadowed by anger, of course. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be many options available to me, and knowing I needed information, I kept playing her game.

“Evolution, mixed with fashion preference. A long time ago, humans had more hair on them to keep them warm without clothes. We slowly fought our way to sapience and learned that clothes were better for warmth than a lot of hair. So we started wearing clothes to keep warm. Eventually, having a lot of hair fell out of fashion, and natural selection slowly worked on it. I’m willing to bet, in a few thousand more years, we won’t have much left. Now, what is your friend Spike?”

“He’s a baby dragon,” she replied, matter-of-factly. “I got a bit from your explanation, but what is evolution?”

Oh great. A kidnapper that wants an explanation of a difficult biological concept. Cute. Wait, what? “A dragon!? How…?”

“Well, when a momma dragon and a papa dragon love each other very much…” the woman said. “I think you know how the rest goes. Now, evolution?” Ugh.

 It took me a few moments to come up with a reasonable explanation. “It is a principle of science. Sometimes, a mutation will occur in a species. An easy example would be innate blindness in a cave fish. Say the rest of the fish can still see, they haven’t been trapped there long or something. This one fish that was born blind will have a small advantage, as he won’t have to worry as much about energy since his eyes don’t work. The other fish have eyes, but they can’t see in the darkness. Their eyes are just taking up small amounts of energy. The blind fish will need less energy to survive, and thus live longer to reproduce more often. That way, his genes will spread faster through the other fish. Eventually, there’s a decent probability that all the fish in the cave will be born blind. But, outside of a cave, the blind fish would likely be eaten by a predator before he can get to the age where he can reproduce. His unfitness would get him killed, so his crappy genes wouldn’t spread as far,” I explained. “Now, what do you intend to do with me?”

“Interesting theory. It even makes sense, in a way. I hope you got all that, Spike… Now, as to what I’m going to do with you… Well, I haven’t quite decided yet. I honestly wasn’t expecting to summon anything sentient, or from another world. I don’t know if I can send you back. That spell was supposed to conjure a weakened member of the most dangerous species in the world for study. You don’t seem particularly dangerous…”  

“Gee, I wonder why. Maybe it has something to do with my blindness. Or the restraints I can’t quite feel. Or the long sleep deprivation I’ve had. Honestly, I’m surprised I’m coherent enough for this conversation. Gotta love adrenaline, I guess.” Suddenly, something she said hit me. “Wait, you can’t send me back?”

“There wasn’t a spell for it, and experimenting with new magic is usually suicidal, at least magic on that scale. I truly do apologize… I know an apology won’t make it up, but there’s really nothing I can do. I’ll look for a counterspell, but I can’t make any promises,” she said, sounding quite sad and morose.

“What the hell kinda scientist are you?” I asked. “What made you think bringing me here like this would be okay? Or that bringing me here at all would be right? Especially with no way of fucking sending me back! How can you possibly fucking justify that?”

“Equestria isn’t safe, so I thought I could summon something from our world, study its weaknesses, and then have it sent back to wherever it came from. But... you don’t come from this world… I didn’t know!”

“And you think that fucking excuses it? What am I supposed to do now? Wait for you to maybe come up with a solution? Try to adapt to living in some weird horse land? Or since I’m so dangerous, would you just send me off somewhere and try to forget about me?”

“I… I don’t…” She was almost to the point of tears, now.

I sighed, attempting and failing to hang my head. I don’t want to make someone cry… “If I promise not to attack you, will you at least let me down?”

I could practically hear the gears in her mind grinding. “You don’t understand,” she said at last. “If that spell worked correctly, you are the most dangerous species in the world. It was supposed to only summon monsters from this world, but you aren’t listed in any reference book I’ve seen. You could say you wouldn’t hurt me and then turn around and, well, hurt me.”

“I’m relatively pacifistic until you do something to really, really piss me off. Also, I’m blind, in case you somehow forgot. And you have magic, sharp hooves, and a dragon. What harm could I possibly do compared to that?” Discounting the stuff I still have in my pockets, courtesy of my farming job.

“He’s right, Twilight,” the little dragon said, feeling a bit better about me for the hidden compliment. “Also, you could at least remove the thing that doesn’t let him see!” I was beginning to like that kid.

Wait, what? “I’m blind because of you? Jesus, turn that shit off! At least look me in the eyes before you decide my fate!” I was more than a little angry.

She seemed rather surprised by my harsh speech. Surprised enough to not say anything for some time, at least. After a few seconds, I was starting to wonder if I should make another appeal. I opened my mouth to try something else when the fog blocking my vision started to clear. Grimly, I closed my mouth and did my best to look around the world in which I was held captive.

I appeared to be in either a library or a study. Books lined shelves partially inlaid in walls. Several tables were dotted about the room, each holding various papers and… quills? I was held, suspended by nothing, a few feet over the floor. Part of the second floor was visible from where I hung. All the furnishing appeared to be wooden.

My captors were not quite what I was expecting. The dragon was considerably smaller than I would have guessed, childish voice aside. I reminded myself he was a baby dragon, and figured she really meant baby. He was purple and green with wide eyes.

Twilight was… purple. A purple talking horse. Then I noticed she had a horn. A purple talking unicorn, it appeared. Hey, why not? Her mane was dark blue, with a deep violet line down the middle. Her tail was the same. Even her eyes were purple. Not a horse, I realized after seeing how small she was. She really was a pony, though she had very expressive eyes.

Currently, they were staring at me with what appeared to be a hint of fear, wonder, and confusion. It was somewhat hard for me to tell, however; I was hardly a people person and even then, she had a horse face.

Blinking my eyes rapidly, I took all these details down in seconds. “That’s better,” I said. “We have horses and ponies where I’m from, but I’ve never seen a purple one. Or a unicorn…” It’s amazing what you think about in situations like those. "Isn't today just full of surprises?"

“For you and me both,” she replied. “I think I’ll have to talk to the princess before I can release your other bonds. I’m really sorry, but I don’t want to risk releasing a dangerous animal in town like this.”

“He doesn’t look so tough to me,” Spike said, his false bravado showing. “I bet if you brought in Applejack and Rainbow Dash, they could crush him before he could so much as blink,” Spike told her. I couldn’t help but smile at how he perceived me. Admittedly, I wasn’t feeling so hot, but if push came to shove I could probably do a bit of damage to whoever it was they thought could crush me.

“Again, I do understand your hesitation. I hardly inspire confidence with my appearances. Perhaps you could bring in a friend or something to watch me when you make your call,” I asked with a small amount of hope. A girl like this, I was hoping, would have some weaker willed friends I could get to release me. I really didn’t want to hurt them, but I did want to be able to move again.

“Call?” she asked. “I don’t know what you mean. Spike, send the report to Celestia.”

With a flourish, he coughed up a small ball of flame and burned the message. I flinched at the unexpected flash of heat and fire.

She noticed my movement. “Don’t worry. That’s just how we send messages quickly. Her response shouldn’t take long. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you know what a dragon is? You seem to have some experience with them, but I have no idea what you are!”

“Uh… They’re legends, in my world. Like, stories of things that happened a long time ago. They weren’t real, though. Seeing one… If that’s a baby, I can only imagine how cool they look when they get bigger.” Spike seemed to enjoy the attention, standing up straighter and smiling.

“What about unicorns?” she asked. “You seemed to recognize them as well.”

“More legends. Now, I have a question. You were supposed to summon something really dangerous. This room isn’t all that big. What if whatever you had summoned was too big? Or what if it had been able to break through your spells?”

She seemed a bit taken aback. “I… I hadn’t really thought of that.” So much for her having common sense. “I suppose that’s why the spell was supposed to summon a weakened version of the species. I guess I messed up somewhere, though, because I’ve never heard of anything like you before.” No shit, bitch.

I tried to shrug, but the invisible restraints around me wouldn’t allow it. “Why are you sending that message to the princess instead of the king or queen? Did she commission the experiment?”

She looked at me oddly. “We don’t have a king or queen in Equestria.”

“So… Who rules? The princess?”

“Of course! The princess has always been our ruler. Princess Celestia reigns alongside her sister, Luna, now. They were recently reconciled after centuries of separation and bitterness.”

I was about to comment on that when Spike suddenly convulsed and belched out smoke, fire, and a scroll.

It’s an odd feeling, to have your life left up to a mysterious benefactor, communicating solely through a flaming scroll. If possible, I would have crossed my fingers.

The scroll gently floated down and Spike caught it with experienced hands. Opening it, he intoned: “My dearest Twilight, you should know better than to play with dangerous magic, especially with nopony else knowing what you’re doing! What if something had gone wrong? You do have every right to pick and choose what you research, but in the future, please come to me for advice before attempting an experiment like this. Now, I trust your judgment in dealing with this creature. If he is as dangerous as you think he is, I suggest getting your friends together in case he tries to hurt you or escape. Just be careful, and remember that I will come if you call, as always. Your loving teacher, Celestia.” His recitation ended, Spike folded up the scroll and looked to Twilight.

“I’ll listen to her suggestion. I don’t think Pinkie Pie or Rarity could help much if he turns out dangerous… Spike, go get Rainbow Dash. Tell her to find Applejack and Fluttershy and to let them know we have an emergency here. Don’t give any details, just tell her to hurry, and to tell nopony else but them.”

“Fluttershy? Are you sure you want her here?” he asked her.

“Trust me, Spike. Go,” she told him. He went. “Now, Navarone, tell me why we shouldn’t leave you restrained until you’re too weak to do any harm.”

I smiled grimly. “If you keep me up here that long, there’s a good chance you’ll be waiting until I die. If you do decide I’m weakened and you let me down, there’s no telling how pissed off I’ll be. I don’t usually hold grudges and I try to never hurt anyone, but I make exceptions for those who try to hurt others, especially when the others they hurt happen to include me.”

She didn’t look happy at that. “Just… stop talking for now. I’ll decide what to do when the others get here… Don’t talk to them, either, until I tell you it’s okay.”

I mockingly bowed my head. “As you command, jail mistress.” She actually stuck her tongue out at me.

We didn’t have to wait long. Spike came running in after a few minutes to see us making faces at each other. He looked on, confused, before reporting. “I found Rainbow Dash, but she was with Pinkie. I whispered it to her, but Pinkie knows something is wrong. I don’t know what she’ll do, though…”

“We’ll deal with her if we have to, but she probably won’t be a problem. You know how she is. Is Rainbow Dash on her way?”

“Of course. She doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong, but if there’s an emergency, you know she’ll be at her fastest,” he told her.

“Good. Now, Navarone, is there anything you want to tell me about before the others arrive?”

“Well…” I started. “I have some hidden weapons. I wasn’t going to tell you, just in case, but right now honesty seems a bit more of a better policy than silence. There’s a knife in my right upper pocket, a set of gloves in my left and right lower pockets, a set of keys in my left upper pocket, a wallet in my right lower pocket, and a lighter in my upper left. They can’t exactly do me much good up here, but I figure it’s probably better you know now than finding out when you release me…”

“I don’t know what half of those are,” she told me. “If that’s what you carry with you when you sleep, maybe it’s a good thing I kept you up there…” I couldn’t help but smile at that. “Now, though, stop talking. I want the others to see you as I first did, with no bias of your words. I’ll use their judgments as a basis for what the rest of the world will see.”

I sighed and nodded my assent. It wasn’t long before a copper pony with golden hair and green eyes ran in, halfway knocking the door down. She was… wearing a cowboy hat. They have a talking dragon. Why not add clothes? I saw that her hair and tail were tied off at the ends.

“What’s the emergency, Twilight?” the new pony asked, fixing me with a rancid glare. “Is this critter here doing something to hurt you? Looks like ya got it trussed up real tight.” Her accent was extremely southern, making me wonder if the two of us would get along if I ever got down.

But until I did get down, she was calling me a critter and thinking I was probably unintelligent. I just closed my eyes and tried to relax a bit. “No, he’s not a threat right now,” Twilight said. “But I want some other opinions on him before I let him down. I’ll tell you more when the others get here.”

I might well have fallen asleep while waiting for the next one, I was so tired. I just know that a sudden blast of wind set me rocking in my invisible binds. I opened my eyes to find a set of dark pink irises glaring at me.

That got me to try to recoil away, and I managed to open my eyes wide enough to find the set of eyes fixed on me were attached to a pony. My shock was still registering when I noticed she had wings. Talking ponies, unicorns, dragons, and now a pegasus? What other surprises await me?

I saw she was mostly blue, with a rainbow colored mane. Rainbow Dash, I presume? She got a relaxed grin from me, as I tried to look disarming. As soon as I remembered that I had fucking canines, I tried to show as little teeth as possible in the smile.

“Aw, this thing doesn’t look so scary to me,” the one I thought to be Rainbow Dash said with much brashness. “It looks about harmless. No strong hooves, no horn, its teeth are small enough. I don’t know why you need us here.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” Twilight said. “There’s something about him that I don’t trust just yet.”

“I feel it too,” Applejack muttered. Louder, she said, “Something about him just seems… off to me. Gives me a bad feeling, ya know? Fluttershy, you’re used to dealing with animals. What can you tell us about it?”

I didn’t even notice the other pony there, she was so quiet and unassuming. Her fur was bright yellow and she had a flowing pink mane. On her face was a curious but fearful gaze. I saw she also had wings. Applejack had to prod her to get her to speak up and even then she spoke so quietly I almost couldn’t hear her. “He scares me,” she whispered.

“Doesn’t take much to do that,” Rainbow joked at her. Twilight motioned her to stop and looked at Fluttershy to continue.

“There’s something about him that seems unnatural. I’ve never seen anything like him and I’ve been dealing with animals most of my life. But everypony should have a chance, Twilight. He hasn’t done anything wrong, has he?” Her voice was soft as silk and I could see where she got her name. She was so quiet, so shy, and her wings looked dainty. I could imagine her fluttering about the sky like a little butterfly.

“Spike, do you have anything to add?” Twilight asked him, seeing his incredulous looks between Applejack and Fluttershy.

“I agree with Fluttershy. It doesn’t seem fair to condemn him so quickly,” he said. “He’s done nothing to us but look odd and be weird. Haven’t we learned our lesson about that from Zecora?” They all had the decency to look abashed at that, whoever Zecora was.

Twilight was the first to break the silence. “I wasn’t entirely honest with you all, when you got here. Our… guest can speak.” Amid their odd looks, she continued. “Navarone, say something.”

At that point, I was just about bursting to say something. “You know I’m intelligent and educated, Twilight. You also know I am what you decided to summon. It’s not my fault that I’m here. Given the choice, I’d happily be back in my bed, the bed you ripped me out of. I told you what I have with me and how tired I am. I don’t know why I should say anything more until you decide what to do with me. As your little friend said, doesn’t everyone deserve a chance?”

They were silent for a few moments. Applejack was the first to break the silence. “You know, sugarcube, he’s right,” she said. “If what he said is true, then it ain’t fair to keep him up there.”

Rainbow Dash quickly added her two cents. “Applejack is right. I say let him down. If he tries anything, we can take him.”

Fluttershy just nodded, happy that her friends agreed that I should be given a chance.

Twilight deliberated for several tense seconds before sighing. “I guess I should tell you all the whole story, then…” She spent a few minutes recounting the tale of my conjuration, most of what I said, and about the items I had on me. “I don’t want to hold him forever, and the princess did give me leave to do as I felt was right, but the spell was made to summon the most dangerous thing in the world. Should we really risk letting him go?”

So much for not biasing them… 

“We could leash him,” suggested Rainbow Dash. I gave her the nastiest glare I could and she had the grace to look away, blushing slightly. “Never mind…”

“I’ve already said I have no intention of hurting anyone. If you won’t believe me now then I doubt you ever will,” I said, looking at Twilight. The silence returned once more, the ponies looking at each other and at me a few times.

Twilight was the first to speak up. “I think we need to talk about this away from him. Spike, watch him. If he starts breaking free, make as much noise as you can and we’ll be there right away.” With that, the ponies walked out of the main library area, into some side room, trying to keep as much space between me and them as possible. I was left with the dragon.

“Tell me the truth, Spike. What are my chances for getting out of this mess?” I asked him. He looked at me with a wide smile, showing off some cool spiked dragon teeth.

“You’re gonna be fine. I don’t think anypony here would hurt you for no reason. I don’t know when they’ll let you go, but they won’t hurt you,” he told me. “How about you tell me about you humans?”

I sighed, and delved straight into a long lecture about political theories, comparing democracy, despotism, and monarchies and how they would fare under the economic systems of capitalism, communism, and socialism. He quickly shushed me, not at all understanding the majority of the words I was saying, and we waited in silence.

After what felt like an eternity, the ponies came back in. Fluttershy looked somewhat worried but resolute, Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked determined, and Twilight looked… resigned. I had a good feeling.

“Don’t make any sudden movements,” Twilight warned me. That was all I got before being unceremoniously dropped to the floor. I landed hard and did my best to force my stiff knees to catch me.

I slowly straightened my back, loudly popping it as it cracked into a straight line. From the first look of it, I stood at least a head and a half over the ponies and around three feet over the little dragon. My arms folded over my chest and I stood calmly, awaiting their next move.

“I would ask that you empty your pockets,” Twilight said. “If you want us to give you any degree of freedom, we can’t have you walking around with anything dangerous.”

Sighing slightly, I did as she asked. There was not a table near me, so I knelt down and emptied my pockets. Soon enough, there was a nice little collection in front of me. I jumped a little as Twilight’s horn started glowing and the objects drifted off the floor and slowly sailed towards her. “I wouldn’t play with some of those, if I were you. You might get hurt,” I warned.

She took my hint and moved them to a small table at the edge of the room. “We’ll go over them later, I guess. For now, we have to decide what to do with you. It’s getting late and I really don’t want to leave you with any means of hurting anypony…”

I did my best to look hurt. “Hey, I’ve done everything you asked and even offered a bit more. I didn’t have to tell you about my tools and I could have fled as soon as you dropped me. No offense to your friends, but you would be hard pressed to stop me if I really wanted to get away. You have nothing to fear from me, as long as you continue to treat me fairly.”

Rainbow Dash and Applejack looked a bit insulted at my estimations of their worth, and Fluttershy paled slightly, some of the sureness in her face gone.

Spike quickly spoke up in my defense, oddly enough. “Twilight, I really don’t think he wants to hurt us. I say we let him stay here, at least for the night. We have an extra bed, after all.” I could see that this kid was really going to be useful. And it helped that he looked really cool. I mean, come on: He’s a fucking dragon

Applejack and Rainbow Dash weren’t very happy with that plan. “You want to leave him in the middle of Ponyville?” Applejack asked. I snorted at the name of the town. “We could easily take him to my place outside a’ town! If he turns out to be dangerous, we’ll be in a much better area to stop him.”

Rainbow Dash looked at me askance before turning her eyes back to Twilight. “Better than that, you could use that spell on him to make him able to walk on clouds, then I could take him to my place and leave him there for the night. There wouldn’t be anywhere for him to go or anypony for him to hurt.”

Twilight took a second to consider. “Moving him would be too risky. There are too many ponies around. If they see him, they might panic, or ask questions we don’t want to answer yet. Both of those plans are good possibilities for later, if we need them, but for now they wouldn’t quite work. We just have to leave him here and hope he sticks to his word…” I smiled triumphantly. “However,” she continued, “I wouldn’t mind the company, if you two wanted to stay here and help me watch him. Fluttershy, you’re welcome to go home; you haven’t been able to look at him easily since I let him down.”

Fluttershy looked at her, a bit flustered. “I’ll stay here. I know he won’t hurt us!” I’m starting to like her, too. The others, not to be outdone by this quiet pony’s easy assent, quickly added their voices to hers in confirming their readiness to watch over me.

“Come now, ladies, there’s no real need to guard me this much. I already said I intend no damage, and I always keep my word,” I told them. They gave me that typical woman look. At least some things never change. I sighed and said offhandedly to Spike, “Where I come from, there are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.” He burst out laughing and I got at least a smile out of Rainbow Dash before she quickly smoothed her face. I snapped my fingers in defeat. “Fine, watch me if you must. I see it’ll be hard to earn your trust.”

 

That was a long, long night… for them. For me, it passed just as quick as you please. At that point, I was so exhausted that they could have been yodeling and I probably would have slept right through it. No dreams, good or bad, haunted me that night. It was nice and easy.

When the sun finally peeked through the leaves on the branches outside my window—I later learned we were in a giant tree—I easily woke up and got a good look at the land in which I was now a permanent resident.

My eyes had never bore witness to a more colorful landscape. Flowers littered the ground in seemingly random jumbles, laid so well that I couldn’t tell if they were natural or not. The grass was a beautiful and vibrant shade of green the likes of which I only saw in the deepest part of spring back home. The buildings glowed with every shade of color I could imagine, not something I’d commonly see within the city from which I hailed. Looking at the sky, I could see a few pegasi in the clouds, looking like they were trying to push them around.

The first thought I had upon seeing everything was that I had to be in some kind of freaky alternate dimension. There were too many similarities for it to be an entirely new world.

Before I could take in many more details, I was pulled back from the window. I turned to see Twilight appear to shrug before saying, “Sorry, but I don’t want to risk anypony seeing you just yet.”

I sighed, rolling out of bed and stretching slightly. “What’s the agenda today?” I asked her. “More interrogations, or are you just going to deliberate what to do with me? And…” I felt my stomach shift, “I don’t suppose you have any food that I would be able to eat?”

“After your good behavior last night,” she said, getting me to snort, “we were thinking of introducing you to two of my other friends,” she continued. “And my friend Applejack brought you some—Wait. What can you eat?”

“Fruit. Meat.” She shuddered at that and looked at me with an expression I was beginning to recognize as concern. “Some vegetables. What do ponies eat?”

She looked happier to be explaining something. “Fruit, vegetables, grass, flowers. Some of us even eat leaves. So you eat meat?”

“I can eat it, yes,” I said. “But it is also possible for humans to live without it.” Though it sucks when you have to. “With Spike as an assistant, I don’t know why you would find it so hard to accept something that does eat it.”

“Spike doesn’t eat meat,” she answered, looking at me with something else in her face. Disgust, perhaps. 

What the fuck kind of dragon doesn’t eat meat? I shrugged. “You said your friend Applejack brought me something. I’m willing to bet my useless money that she brought me apples?” Twilight nodded. “I can eat those, assuming they’re the same apples we have in our world.” Twilight sagged slightly and gave me what I’m pretty sure was a smile.

I raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. She tried searching my face for something, but gave up. I felt the same way; I had no idea how to read a pony face. “Come on down to the main room,” she said. “They’re already here.”

I followed her to the staircase and we descended into the foyer. I heard two astonished gasps. “Oh my word, what is that… thing?” one of the new ponies said. She was another unicorn, I saw. Her main body was white, with a bright purple mane and tail. Her dark blue eyes looked at me with what I thought was barely disguised fear.

The other reaction was not so rude, though it was just as startling. It was a surprised squeal and a very fast uttering of words that I had no chance at all of interpreting. I saw this one was pink, with a darker pink mane that was rather massively curly. Her light blue eyes stared at me with glee.

Since the white one seemed to be the bitchier of the two, I glared at the her. “Nice to meet you too, toots. I guess you learned your manners guarding a concentration camp?”

She had the grace to look ashamed, at least. I probably shouldn’t have been so harsh, but a slowly growing anger with the entire situation at hand gave my words a sharper edge. Though, thinking about it, they probably had no idea what a concentration camp was…

Twilight cleared her throat. “Pinkie Pie, Rarity, this is Navarone. He is my… guest. He’s a human.”

I bowed mockingly.

“I apologize for my… outburst. I’ve just never seen anything like you!” Rarity said, actually sounding like she meant the apology instead of most of the dickwads I’ve run into that just say it to get out of some manner of punishment.

“Consider it forgotten,” I told her. “Where I come from, the exchange we had would not have needed apologizing, as our faults canceled each other out. I suppose I need to learn new rules here.”

Now, it seemed the pink one once again had something to say. “What are you gonna do with him, Twilight? Can we keep him? Huh, huh?”

I could tell it was going to be a long day.  

 

One long, long day later, I was still not that much closer to many answers. Apparently, these ponies had more technology than their simple accommodations gave them credit for. Twilight led me and her friends down to a cellar full of science equipment and started to hook me up to some of it. I was feeling decidedly uncomfortable about the situation. “Are you sure all of this is necessary?” I asked, flexing my arm against the chair cuffs she had it in.

“We’re just running some tests,” Twilight told me. “We have to make sure you don’t have anything in you that might make us sick or unhealthy. Some of the containment spells I cast on you when you were summoned will be wearing off soon and I don’t want to risk anything. Cooperating will make us more willing to trust you.”

“What about the others?” I asked. “Do they really have to—”

Suddenly, a lightning bolt shot up and down my spine. “Oooh, that’s what that does!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. I was left speechless, smoking slightly, my hair thrown about.

“Sweet Celestia!” Rarity said, rushing to my side. Both she and Fluttershy attempted to do some manner of comforting to me, for what little good their hooves did against my skin.

After a few moments, I spat out a bit of smoke and managed to find my voice. “Son of a bitch! Don’t. Do. That. Again!” I hissed at that horrid pink horse. “Why would you keep something like that in your lab anyway?” I asked Twilight.

At least Rainbow Dash was amused, struggling not to laugh at my disheveled appearance. The others seemed a bit taken aback, either at my voice or Pinkie Pie’s rashness. Or maybe by how quickly I recovered. Hell, I don’t fucking know.

“Well, excuse me for being curious!” Pinkie said. “But wasn’t it so cool!”

“That’s actually not supposed to happen,” Twilight said. “In fact, I don’t know how she did it.” Seeing Pinkie Pie move to show her, Twilight quickly added, “And don’t show me how it’s done, either. I don’t want him to turn violent…”

The rest of the testing went relatively smoothly, though I must admit a few of the tests had me a bit flustered. Some of their comments on the anatomical differences were also a bit… disconcerting. From their comments, I’d put these ponies at the age of young adults, maybe equivalent to our eighteen to twenty year olds. All female, of course, aside from Spike. It was, as I said, a long day.

 

“So as far as I can tell, you’re healthy,” Twilight told me. “I don’t know much—well, anything—about human physiology, but you look okay, even after that nasty shock.”

It was nearing night again and her friends actually left. That surprised me. “You trust me enough already to not need a group to watch me?” I asked.

“We’re a trusting species,” she told me. “Don’t abuse our trust and we’ll get along fine. Besides, from some of your actions today, you seem like a decent sort. And from what I was able to tell of your condition from some of the other… tests,” she said, blushing slightly, “you’re hardly in a position to harm us, not without some kind of weapon.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” I flatly said. “Now how am I to defend myself if you decide I am some kind of threat? Should I just roll over and accept death?”

“To answer the first question, you are obviously a threat. Just probably not to us, unless, as Pinkie demonstrated, we do something to anger or hurt you. Most ponies wouldn’t do that. To answer the second, I don’t think anypony would actually try to kill you. We always try to help everypony. If that isn’t possible, exile is usually the preferred method.”

Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but you can’t always get what you want. Christ, I was finding that out faster than most Africans do at a Red Cross aid station. God, I’m such a terrible person... 

The next morning found me sleeping in for quite a while. God help me, but it felt good not to have to wake up for school or have to help out on a damn animal farm. I could feel myself returning to normal, for better or worse.

It was with a happy feeling that I removed myself from the guest bed. I was in a relatively good mood for the first time in a while, which should have been the first sign of something bad about to come.

Twilight was waiting for me in the main room of her little hovel. Rarity was there with her, annoyingly. Not so much annoying as—well, fuck it: That pony gets on my nerves, raw and plain.

A smiling Twilight said, “Rarity is our chief fashion designer here in Ponyville. Since it looks like you’re going to be here for some time, it’s important that you have something else to wear. Or at least, it’s probably important to you. I honestly don’t think it matters to most ponies. We wouldn’t know the difference anyway.”

“Besides, what you came here in is so… Ugh,” Rarity said with no small amount of disgust. What does she have against cargo shorts and a t-shirt? “Twilight doesn’t want you seen outside this building yet, so I had to bring all my measuring tools here. I do hope you’ll accept my offer. I would love the challenge and being able to say that I was the first to design clothing for the newest discovered species!”

“I would love to accept, but I have no way to pay for the labor. It hardly seems fair, in my mind,” I said.

“Oh, you needn’t worry about that, Navarone!” Rarity quickly said. “Everypony knows you’re in a tight spot and every one of us is here to help you adjust. Getting into local fashion would help so much with that!” That’s… a semi-decent point, actually.

“...I suppose, but please don’t dress me pompously. Keep it simple. I don’t know if you can make denim, but otherwise direct copies of my shirt and pants would be good. There’s no way I’ll blend in with the crowds, but that doesn’t mean I have to stick out like a sore thumb. If anyone asks why you didn’t design better clothes, just tell them that this is the fashion back where I come from and hope no one decides to copy it.”

She seemed a bit taken aback by my tirade and possibly insulted. “Keeping it simple? Navarone, that is what a laypony is for. I’m here to dress you up like what you are: The one and only member of a species no one has ever seen before! The mystery, the intrigue!” Her voice dropped, her lower lip quivered, and her eyes got big and teary at this next bit: “You wouldn’t deny poor little me the opportunity of a lifetime, would you?”

I looked at her for a second before bursting out in laughter. She just glared until I managed to recover. “Fashion means nothing to me. I don’t care what everyone else is doing or what most of them think. As I said, if you’re going to make me anything, keep it simple.”

I honestly thought she was going to call me a heathen and try to strike me down. Sadly, Twilight stepped in. “I think what he means, Rarity, is that he doesn’t want to cause too much of a scene. His appearance will already cause quite a bit of stir. There’s no reason to make it worse unnecessarily.”

Rarity still looked ready to fight, but one look at the combined front of reason made her sigh with resignation and get to work measuring me.

I will admit, she did a fine and thorough job of it, especially for having no hands. Magic has its uses, I suppose.

“Now, about payment, or something of that nature,” I began. I didn’t get any farther, not that I really expected to.

“Don’t worry about it,” I was told. I shrugged. Your fault I’m here anyway, I thought. Still, doesn’t feel right. I hate charity. 

Noticing their looks, I figured I would have to explain some human mannerisms. “That was a shrug.” That was enough of an explanation for them to understand.

Measurements done, Rarity trundled away, muttering unpleasant things under her breath. As the door closed, I turned to Twilight. “She really didn’t like that, did she?”

“She likes getting her way and she lives for fashion. Meeting somepony who doesn’t, and is willing to stick by that position, unnerved her and made her somewhat angry. You should be happy she didn’t fight the issue,” she told me. God, Rarity sounds like a bitch. 

“So, what’s next on the agenda?” I asked. “Surely you have some other cruel or unusual test you need to run on me, or something else planned.”

Sadly, she didn’t rise to the bait. She’s learning. “Next, you have a meeting with the mayor. Since you still can’t exactly go wandering around Ponyville, she’ll have to come here. That means you get to help me clean up. Seeing as how you have thumbs, it shouldn’t be that hard.”

“You have magic. Why can’t you just magic the place clean?” I asked.

“There is no spell strong enough to clean up this train wreck,” she told me. I think she was exaggerating, myself. It’s probably a good thing she couldn’t see my room as I left it behind. Of course, if she had been able to see it, she probably wouldn’t have seconded me to help clean…

“And where is your faithful helper in all this?” I asked. “Surely he knows better where all these books go than I would.”

“He’s talking to the mayor, actually,” Twilight answered. “She’s so busy that it’s hard to get her to stop by alone without making it seem like too much of an emergency. So, get to cleaning.”

I’ll skip the cleaning. It was boring, though I did find they had a shitty categorical system. While we were cleaning, Twilight and I talked more about this world. I already knew about Celestia and Luna, but apparently the ponies here believed they raised and lowered the sun and moon. Now, in my world the sun rises and lowers by itself and I wouldn’t be so surprised to learn Celestia and Luna were lying about controlling them so they could force the ponies to keep them in power.

That said, I’m not stupid enough to mention it. If my suspicions were true, my head might end up on a chopping block for speaking out about it. Besides, Twilight’s a talking unicorn that can do magic. For all I knew, it actually was true that they controlled the sun and moon. I didn’t believe it myself, but it wasn’t my place to say anything.

However, I mentioned the shitty categorical system to Twilight when we were finished. “Why don’t you have a standard categorization system for books?” I asked. Hell, with their hooves, why do they even have books? It can’t be easy to turn the pages.

“We do have a system!” she said. “Every so often, I pull all the books off the shelves and put them where I think they should go. That way I’ll always know where they are.”

“…This is a library, you said.”

“Yep! The only one in Ponyville!”

“And you’re the only librarian?”

“Uh-huh. Spike helps out a bit too, of course.”

“And you don’t see any problem with the fact that no one else can find a book but you or Spike?”

“Why would there be a problem?”

“What if someone wanted to check out a book but couldn’t find it? Or what if they knew where a book was one day and wanted to come back to get it later, but couldn’t find it in the same spot and gave up?”

She blinked and asked, “Well, how do you humans organize books?”

I explained the Dewey Decimal System. About a quarter of the way into it her mouth dropped. About halfway into it, she had me start over so she could take notes.

“That’s genius, Navarone!” she said when I finished. “Why did we never think of that?”

I shrugged. “Took us a while, too. Probably why the heathens burned the Library of Alexandria; they couldn’t find the children’s section.”

Her mouth dropped. “Somepony burned a library in your world?”

“Not a library, Twilight, the library. There were scrolls in that place that were thousands of years old. All of mankind’s knowledge in one place, all lost when the barbarians put it to the torch. Damn shame. Now we keep just about everything on computers, though we still have libraries out and about.” I could tell I piqued her interest, and hid a smile. Well, Twilight isn’t suspicious of me anymore.

I’ll also skip the meeting with the mayor. It was much the same as my meeting with Twilight’s friends, though it did involve more promises not to hurt anyone without a very, very good reason. It was a very unpleasant conversation. I swear, these ponies thought I was the devil or something.

The rest of the day passed with little incident. I tried to show the ponies that I wasn’t a completely irredeemable person, but every time I saw a chance for a good one liner, I plugged it in. If you… know what I mean. I did, at least, remove most of my sex jokes. Not like those ponies would have gotten those anyway. Or at least, I don’t think they would have.

 

The next day brought me sleeping in quite a bit less. Thankfully, the effects of sleep deprivation don’t hit the young as bad as they do the old. I was mostly over it by that point and my senses were working better than they had in a long, long time. That enabled me to start noticing more and more about my new world.

The first thing I had a chance to notice when I woke up was a very large and very blue set of eyes right in my face. I won’t lie, I jumped. And yelled an obscenity. Pinkie Pie’s reaction was funnier, admittedly. She started hiccupping when I yelled. Have you ever seen a horse hiccup? Funniest thing I ever saw. We both started giggling.

“So aside from being creepy, why were you staring at me while I slept?” I asked her when that little episode was over.

“Well, I was going to apologize for shocking you, but then I saw you sleeping, and then I realized that I’d never seen a human sleeping before, and I wanted to see how different it would be from a pony sleeping, so I was watching you while you slept!”

All that came out in a rather quick tirade that was a bit disquieting. “Well, what did you discover? Am I that different from a pony?”

“Uh huh! Your face is all squished and flat! Also, your eyes are super small, and are a very dark green instead of the bright colors most ponies have. I didn’t notice that while you were sleeping, though…”

“Pinkie… you are a little random, aren’t you? Also, apology accepted. Accidents happen, I suppose. Hell, I’m here because of one.” In more ways than one. “So, does Twilight know you’re up here? Or did you manage to sneak past her oppressive guard?”

“Silly Nav, Twilight’s not oppressive! But she does know I’m up here.”

“Not oppressive to you, maybe, but I’ve been cramped in this library since I got here. Does she actually live here or is she just staying here?”

When she started to answer, I noticed her tail start to spaz out. I thought it was having a seizure or something, and asked her about it.

As soon as I mentioned it, she squawked and looked around for something to duck under. Just as she jumped under a table and I took the hint and fell off the bed, the window exploded and a blue mass went crashing into the far wall.

“Jesus!” I yelled. “What the hell was that?” Seeing Rainbow Dash twitching against the wall, I rushed over to check her for injuries. Surprisingly, despite crashing through several branches, a glass window, and then into a wall at a speed so fast that I couldn’t even register what she was, the pony was somehow completely undamaged. Not a feather out of place.

“How the hell are you not broken?” I asked her. “What you just did should have had you scratched to hell and probably smeared across the wall!”

“I’m used to it,” she said. “They used to call me Rainbow Crash back in school…”

Note to self: Never accept a ride from these ponies. Jesus. 

Pinkie Pie was digging her way out of the wreckage around the table as Twilight started running up the stairs to see what was amiss. She just sighed when she saw her window. “Another new window… Thanks, Rainbow Dash.”

“Sorry, Twilight…” she muttered. “You know how it is.”

“So… is this a normal occurrence in Ponyland?” I asked. “I’m not certain I want to sleep in a room with a window if it is. Christ, I don’t even know how she isn’t a broken mess! You ponies must be more resilient than jets.”

They were confused by jets. I just waved it off, telling them to forget it. No use explaining tech they wouldn’t understand.

“I don’t crash that often!” protested Rainbow Dash. “Besides, I totally planned that anyway!”

“Yeah. Sure you did,” I said, somewhat resigned and rubbing my temple slightly. “Sorry if I seem a bit… testy. I’ve been trapped inside for the past few days, completely separated from any chance of ever seeing my home or family again, trapped here in a world where things thought impossible are apparently commonplace, with a load of personalities that are very different from mine. It will take some… adjustment, I suppose. Though, thinking about it, you likely wouldn’t know the difference from a testy me and a normal me.”

“We understand, Navarone,” Twilight said. “I’ve been looking for a spell to send you back, but there’s nothing about it in any of my books. I even asked Princess Celestia to look into it, but she has reported no luck. As far as I can tell, you’re stuck here…” God fucking dammit. 

“So, what’s on today’s agenda?” I sighed, slowly growing resigned to my fate. Thank God for shock, I suppose. And hell, maybe I’ll get lucky and wake up to find this was all a dream.

The two other options—that I either finally went truly insane or that this was actually real—were both more terrifying than I could handle at the moment. 

 

Anyway, the clothes were done. And apparently, a certain white pony seems to have a hard time taking instructions.

“Rarity, you seem too smart to be unable to take simple instructions. Why, I wonder, did you make me clothes that go completely against what I asked you to make? I understand we didn’t quite get off the most… understandable… start, but that’s no reason to torture me with your vibrant monstrosities,” I told her.

She was not at all pleased with my choice of words, but took great pains to hide her anger. “Because fashion cannot be dictated by one pony! Or human, I suppose. I simply couldn’t let you go on to wear more of what you are now! It would be a disgrace to my profession!”

“You are a very dramatic pony. I suppose you never thought that perhaps I wanted to go against your pony fashions? That perhaps, in doing so, I would create a counter fashion that all the ponies in the know would rush to copy? In my world, if a guest from another world came by, the cattle in charge of fashion would rush to copy his every stitch. I figured your fashion industry—if you ponies even have one, for whatever stupid reason—is run the same way. What better chance would I have to be accepted here if I, seemingly accidentally, started an entire fashion trend based off human designs?” I didn’t exactly feel right lying like that, but I was starting to just not care at all.

“Your fashion industry is run by cows?” Pinkie Pie asked. “I thought only humans could talk in your world!” I jumped when she spoke up. Honestly, I thought she had left. She was being uncharacteristically quiet, looking over the books on the shelves.

“Figure of speech, Pinkie. Figure of speech…” I said. God, these ponies are going to drive me to drink. Doubt they even have booze here… 

During that small exchange, Rarity was mulling over what I said. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, quite like a fish. It was… satisfying. Finally, she said, “I think I see your point, though wearing our fashions might have the same effect of helping you fit in.”

“Is it truly too much to ask for a few comforts from home?” I asked, running one of my hands over the fabric of my shirt. “Not that I really mind pony fashion, now that I see some of what you’ve made. But I would rather stick to what I know than completely submerge myself entirely. But there’s no reason to waste the cloth. If it can’t be recycled, I’ll at least hold on to these and wear them on special occasions, or something,” I told her. The beaming smile I got back almost made me regret lying earlier.

I stopped almost regretting it with what came next, of course. “You simply must try them all on!” she exhorted. Give a mouse a cookie. 

“I would… but I’m sure Twilight has something else planned for me this day. Something long and dreadful that you wouldn’t want to be around for.”

“Welllll,” Twilight started. I flashed her a look and she took the hint. “Yes, actually. Run along, Rarity. I’m sure your work will fit him just fine.”

“But Twilight!” Rarity whined before being unceremoniously bundled out the door.

I sighed in relief but jumped as Pinkie Pie spoke up again. “Now we can talk about your Welcome to Ponyville Party!”

What. I gave Twilight a look. She answered me with a shake of her head. I turned to Pinkie and said, “I’m allergic to parties.”

Every bone in her body jerked as she shot her entire body toward me. Her eyes went so wide that by all rights they should have popped out. It scared the shit out of me. “What. Did. You. Say?” she uttered in a voice that should have had me quivering in fear.

But I am man, the greatest species out there, and we do not shake before prey animals. I pulled on some hidden source of willpower and said, “Parties. I’m allergic to them. Deathly so, I’m afraid. Having a party for me would be simply impossible.” Needless to say, this was all a lie.

She seemed to withdraw in on herself as she muttered something, looking as though she was deep in thought. Twilight was giving me an intrigued look. “Humans can be allergic to parties?” she asked. “What else can you be allergic to?”

“We can talk about it later, Twilight. I think Pinkie has something else she needs to say.”

She did, apparently. “I know I can’t throw you a party… but would cupcakes make up for it?”

“How about muffins instead?” I asked. “I prefer them and I don’t really like icing.”

Her mouth dropped. I thought for a second that I broke her, as her eyes seemed to glaze over. Twilight was looking at me with fear in her eyes. I almost said something when Pinkie jerked again. “We’ll see about that,” she finally announced. I had a feeling that I had made a very big mistake. She pulled something from somewhere—I don’t know where, I guess her poofy hair—and threw it on the ground, making a cloud of pink smoke. When it dissipated, she was gone.

I seem to be getting a lot of practice with long-suffering sighs, lately. Something told me that this was only the beginning.

 

“You’re sure this is a good idea?” I whispered. “It’s not too late to just kill me and sweep my corpse under the rug, you know."

“Killing you would make too much of a mess and would ruin all the effort you put into cleaning this place,” Twilight whispered back. She was getting used to my kind of humor. I didn’t know if that was good or bad. “Besides, it’s not like we’re going to be giving you a grand entrance. You’re just going outside and anypony that wants to ask, will. Then I’ll have to explain that you’re an interdimensional being that I accidentally summoned and that you are part of the most dangerous species anywhere.”

“Gee, when you put it that way, I’m sure everything will go just fine,” I said. “Tell me again about what happened with that zebra, and how well the town took it. At least a zebra is pony shaped!”  

“If I didn’t know any better, I would say you were nervous. I thought you were too calm and collected for that! Just remember the plan,” she said. “Now, are you ready?”

“No,” I replied, pushing open the door to the bright world beyond.

 

“It is my opinion as the ambassador to the human race,” Twilight said a few hours later, “that it could have been worse.”

“You need to learn to lie better. We’ll have to work on that,” I told her. Admittedly, she wasn’t wrong. I could be dead right now or completely ostracized. I can’t really say it was that bad, really. Some people—people, ponies, whatever—just don’t know how to stick to a plan.

 

The plan was simple. Twilight and I decided that it would be best if the residents of Ponyville saw me together with respected ponies, talking and laughing and whatnot. We were going to make a circuit of the town, meeting with each of Twilight’s friends and moving on after a short while, answering questions as they were asked. Simple enough, right?

No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy, I’ve always heard. I was hoping to be an exception. That’s what I get for hoping.

 

It started innocently enough. Rainbow Dash was supposed to do some manner of show or something silly like that in the park. Twilight and I showed up for that, trailed by a large group of ponies that were staring at me and wondering, often aloud, just what the fuck I was.

I can’t tell you how many times we answered that damn question. It was in this first outing that I learned how truly skittish those damn ponies were.

Either way, Dash’s show went reasonably well until she came down to talk with us, to ‘ask for suggestions.’ I didn’t really know shit about flying, so I just told her to do a barrel roll. You know, what anyone would tell her to do.

It ended poorly with a freak accident involving clouds, feathers, and crashing into a fucking mountain that appeared out of nowhere. Twilight rushed me off before too many of the ponies could accuse me of being evil and causing the accident. I later learned that Dash was perfectly alright somehow.

 

Our next stop was Rarity’s villa. On the way there I tried to explain to Twilight some of the physics behind what Dash was doing. Truth be told, I was still a relative layman to hefty subjects like that, but I knew more than the average person. I was honestly quite surprised at how easily Twilight understood what I was telling her. Sure, she’s smart and all, but understanding physics without seeing it worked out is something else.

But I digress: Rarity’s fashion shop, the Carousel Boutique. I’ll admit, I grimaced when I saw it. The place was so… garish, actually being decked out like a carousel. Some of the witnesses saw my expression and the teeth that came with it and visibly shuddered.

That stop went a little better. Rarity was asked to have her store closed that day, to facilitate the meeting. “Hello Twilight, Navarone,” the white unicorn said after opening the door.

“Hello, Rarity,” Twilight answered.

I just said, “Howdy.”

“Please, come inside,” Rarity said, holding the door open for us. Into the belly of the beast the two of us went, the door to the comparative safety of the town closing behind us. “I apologize for the mess.” There wasn’t one. The entire place was clean. “I’ve just been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to keep it up.”

“That’s no problem,” Twilight said with an easy smile. “So what did you have planned?”

“Why, a tea party!” Oh God why. “What better way to demonstrate Mister Navarone’s manners?”

“Oh boy,” I sighed, not even trying to sound enthusiastic. Why did tea parties have to be a thing here? Can they even hold the cups? “And you’re sure the manners we humans have are the same as those you ponies have?”

“Well that’s what we’re here to find out, isn’t it?” Rarity asked with a very assured smile.

“...Alright, I guess. But I wasn’t part of any kind of fancy society, so don’t expect much from me.”

“Oh, don’t worry, dear. Everypony has some manners. Just do your best and I’m sure that’ll be fine.” ...Did I just get insulted?

Anyway, so began Rarity’s little tea party between me, her, and Twilight Sparkle. It was going fairly well until the front door slammed open. Thankfully, we were in the kitchen, so we didn’t really see any of what was happening in the main room.

“It is I, Photo Finish!” some female voice said with an Eastern-European accent.

Rarity’s eyes slammed open and her head jerked toward the door to the front room. If she wasn’t already completely white, I’d say she paled. After a few seconds of silence, she quickly turned back to Twilight and quietly hissed, “Out!”

“But—”

Rarity’s horn lit up and the back door in the kitchen slammed open. “Now!” she whispered, even more hectically. From the frantic look in her eyes, I don’t think we had long before she’d get violent. Needless to say, I stood and quickly let myself out, trusting that Twilight would follow.

As I’m sure you can imagine, having to sneak out the back door did wonders for what the townsponies thought of me.

 

Pinkie Pie was next.

Pinkie Pie… I didn’t much care for her at the time. Sure, she was incredibly nice and kind and all that fun stuff, but she was just too… too much. Too chipper. Too happy. Too much in love with icing.

When Twilight and I got to the bakery at which she works, the lights immediately shut off. A single spotlight showed us a table with three chairs. If it had been night, I would have called this creepy. But since this was day and the windows were open, the lights being off did nothing. We were able to perfectly see Pinkie standing next to the light switches, watching us with a disturbing smile.

Twilight face-hoofed. “Pinkie, what are you doing?”

Pinkie’s eyes darted left and right. When she saw us still looking at her, she covered her eyes with a hoof. A moment later she peeked out to see us still staring. I crossed my arms. “Ugh, just sit down!” she finally said. Twilight and I did as she said, sitting at the table indicated.

When we looked back over to Pinkie’s spot, she had disappeared. “So what’s this all about?” I asked.

“I have no idea. You were supposed to show her how to bake something from your world. I guess… she had something else in mind?”

Something tightened around my eyes and I went blind. I immediately shot a hand to the blindfold and pulled it off. Another one replaced it. I took it off. Another went up. I stood up and removed it, glaring behind me. I saw Pinkie next to a large stack of fabric that wasn’t there when I sat down. “Can I help you?” I asked in a harsh voice.

“Yes! Sit down and let me blindfold you.”

“That doesn’t sound very enjoyable. How about we not do that?”

“Psh. Silly, that’s not how it works!”

“Twilight?” I said, looking over to the purple pony.

“Pinkie, what are you doing? I’m sure if you explain it, Navarone will be more willing to cooperate.” Like hell. 

“Well, I remember him saying that he didn’t like icing or cupcakes as much as muffins, so I’m planning on proving him wrong! I’m going to blindfold him and force-feed him muffins and cupcakes until he agrees that my cupcakes are better than Derpy’s muffins!” Sounds hot. Or at least, if we weren’t talking about horses. 

“I don’t know who Derpy is, but I really don’t like icing. I don’t mind the actual cupcakes, as long as they don’t have icing on them.” I shrugged. “Too sugary for me.”

Pinkie jerked back and muttered something that I swear sounded like “Blasphemy.” I didn’t really care, though.

“So… why don’t we just go with the original plan?” Twilight asked. “Navarone doesn’t seem to like icing and if he says it’s too sugary, it’s too sugary. We don’t know what his human body and taste buds are like, Pinkie.”

“Then let’s test them! Now if you would just sit down and let me blindfold you, we can begin.”

“I’m willing to do half of those, and that’s the half that doesn’t involve blinding me. You’re really making this overly difficult.”

“Me? I’m not the one that’s making this difficult. You’re the one that’s refusing to let me blindfold you!”

Twilight sighed. “Pinkie, don’t blindfold Nav. Nav, sit down. We have a schedule to follow and if we don’t follow it we’ll be late. If we’re late, Nav won’t be able to get everywhere and if he can’t get everywhere he won’t be accepted!”

We both looked at her oddly. “I don’t think that’s how it works,” Pinkie said. “If he’d just let me throw him a party all of Ponyville would meet him!”

“I’m allergic to parties, remember?”

“Yeah, but I’m sure we could find some lotion or something!”

“Deathly allergic,” I said. “As in, I would die.”

“At least you would die smiling!”

“There are other ways I’d rather die, thank you,” I flatly answered.

Twilight looked a bit intrigued at that. “What does your culture have to say about death?” she asked. That it fucking sucks.

“I think we can talk about that later,” I answered. “I’m pretty sure we still have to deal with Pinkie. So, are you going to not blindfold me?”

Pinkie looked at the piece of cloth she had in her hooves. With a sigh she let it fall. “Fine. But you’re still going to try my cupcakes!”

Dammit. “Fine. I’ll try a maximum of three.”

She rocketed off to the kitchen as I joined Twilight at the table again. “So…” she said.

“If I end up living here, am I going to have to put up with that often?”

She sighed. “Pinkie’s… different. Just be happy she isn’t forcing you to go to a party anyway.”

I didn’t have time to answer. Pinkie came bustling out of the kitchen, pulling a cart lined with at least fifty cupcakes.

“Okay, eating that many would make me really, really sick,” I said. “It’s a good thing you two are sharing.” Pinkie stopped the cart at our table and set out several trays of cupcakes. Each one was unique. “Good lord. I thought we were going to be eating cupcakes, not art,” I said, looking at them.

“Silly, cupcakes are art! All the more reason to like them!” She grabbed one and shoved it into her mouth.

“That was kind of horrifying,” I commented. “How about you not do that again?”

“How else am I supposed to eat them?” she asked after swallowing it whole.

“By taking decent sized bites? Or at the very least chewing before you swallow? Or,” I asked, turning to Twilight, “do ponies not need to chew?”

“Most of us do,” she said. “Pinkie’s just… special.”

“Now when you say special—”

“Dig in, Navi!” Pinkie yelled, shoving a cupcake across the table at me.

“Hey listen, please don’t call me that.” I picked the cupcake up and looked it over. The top was saturated in pink icing. The rest of it looked normal. I sighed and took a bite. I almost gagged on the sugar, just barely managing to force it down. I finished the cupcake off and swallowed with what felt like a grim finality. Pinkie was looking at me with such a hopeful expression. “No.”

She blinked. “No?”

“No,” I confirmed.

Her ears fell. “No…” She grabbed another cupcake and pushed it forward, her ears raising a bit.

“No. That almost made me throw up from how much sugar it had in it. I don’t know how you can stand it.”

“But… but…” She pulled that one back and pushed one with a tiny bit less icing forward.

“No.” That process continued for a minute. I rejected six more.

“Perhaps I can help,” Twilight said. She used her magic to pull a cupcake with almost no icing out and removed all of it. She passed the glob of icing to Pinkie, who devoured it. The cupcake flew my way.

I sighed and grabbed it, taking a hesitant bite. “Edible, but only just. Even this has a ridiculous amount of sugar in it. Human bodies aren’t meant to take too much sugar. We can easily get sick and even die from too much. I have no idea what the limit is, but I imagine eating a few more of these would put me there until my body started breaking the sugar down.”

Pinkie looked depressed, now. “How can you live without being able to eat such tasty treats?”

“We get by on other things. I don’t care for sweets all that much anyway. My diet is already going to take a kick while I’m here. I shouldn’t interrupt it any more than necessary.”

“Well, what kinds of food did you used to eat back home?” Pinkie asked.

Now there’s a conversation I can get into. I told her all about some of the better vegetarian dishes. Salsa, nachos, pizza, mushrooms, sautéed vegetables, all that good stuff. At the end of the conversation, we made nachos from stuff that was just lying around the bakery. It was pretty fucking awesome. By the time we left, I no longer considered Pinkie as annoying. In fact, that was pretty much the best showing all day. We departed on amiable terms, with her promising to look into the other things I mentioned.

 

The plan dictated that we visit Fluttershy next. This was the worst trip of the day: Fluttershy wasn’t there. And while we knocked and knocked and waited and waited, the muttering in the small crowd of onlookers that followed us grew louder.

“The poor pony is so scared she won’t even open the door!” one said.

“Why won’t they leave her alone?” another asked. “It’s obvious she won’t open that door.”

And so on. It was… bad. I quietly suggested to Twilight that we move on. She hastily agreed. We later found out why Fluttershy wasn’t there: an animal emergency came up and she was called away to deal with it. A justifiable excuse, but the rep I lost with the crowd made me wish the animal she was called to deal with had just died.

 

Our last stop was Applejack, of course. The plan was for us to go to the farm, stay for a short time so I could help out or something, and then have her follow us back into town. We went on down to the farm and stayed for a while, and that’s where the problem was: I don’t know shit about harvesting plants. My family worked with animal farms, not growing farms. And the animals we had couldn’t fucking talk, so taking care of them proved a very different task than what I was used to.

Some things were the same, though. She had chickens that I deftly stole eggs from, pigs that I fed with no problems, and… ugh, cows that I introduced myself to.

But when it came to harvesting apples? I watched Applejack kick a tree with her back legs, something she called ‘apple bucking,’ and just shook my head. “No way in hell,” I said. “You got a roof or fence I can repair? A well to dig? More animals to take care of?”

“Hm… We do got ourselves a fence that needs fixin’ up. Cain’t promise our tools’ll fit your hands that well, but you’re welcome to give it a shot.”

I smiled, my hands clenching at the prospect of something I could actually do. “We talking barbed wire or wooden?” I asked as she led me to her barn.

“...What the hay is barbed wire?” she asked. “It sounds… painful.”

“Ah… If you don’t know, don’t worry about it.” No need to tell her we use pain to keep our animals in line…

As it turns out, they didn’t have any nails. Which is somewhat strange, because what kind of farm doesn’t have hundreds of rusty nails just sitting around, completely forgotten about?

But whatever. It just meant that I got to help Rainbow Dash tear down the barn, which was fun. Without a sledgehammer, though, my part in it was basically just telling her about structural weaknesses.

 

The rest of the plan went off without a hitch. The problem is, the rest of the plan was walking back.

“God, but I could use a drink…” I muttered. It was a few days after my first excursion and the populace was still getting used to me. It was slow going, though being seen outside and alone with Fluttershy helped tremendously.

She wasn’t well-known as a pony, but she was well respected as a friend of Twilight and for being the best at her job. Besides, if someone that seems so shy, reserved, and graceful could get along with something like me, obviously anyone else could as well.

“We’re close to a river, if you want to stop and get something to drink,” Fluttershy said softly. This pony is way too nice for her own good.

“Not what I meant. Let’s just get to where we’re going and call it a day.”

 “Oh… Okay.”

We walked in silence for a few moments. In the time I had been able to go outside, I had made a few observations about the environment. The first thing I noticed was how truly beautiful the entire place was.

Since it was fall, all the trees in our path were bright and colorful, showing off the full spectrum of leafy colors. There was no smog or pollution in the air, but I found out that had more to do with Ponyville being in the absolute fucking boondocks than anything else. Industrialization hadn’t really hit Equestria yet at that point, so there wasn’t much smog at all, but the bigger cities had more problems. Basically, the same as back home.

Another thing I noticed was that all the animals seemed to get along, at least from what I was able to tell. I even saw bunnies mixing with ferrets, though I thought I sensed something underhanded going down between them. I couldn’t say what, though, and I didn’t feel like dwelling on it.

The third thing I noticed was also the most shocking and surprising: the pegasi controlled the weather. I have no idea how to explain it, but they can all move clouds and make them rain. I learned that most pegasi actually live in the clouds, as they are able to stand on them. When I asked Twilight about it, she seemed just as shocked to learn of conditions on Earth as I was about conditions here. She mentioned something about the Everfree Forest and got an odd look on her face.

That’s where Fluttershy and I were, by the way. We were on the way to meet someone named Zecora, the zebra that was mentioned before. Twilight wanted to know if Zecora had seen anything like me before and figured it was best to let the ponies see me alone with Fluttershy to prove I’m harmless.

Something disturbed my reverie. I shook myself out of it and looked around. Fluttershy had stopped and was for some reason cowering and whimpering on the ground. I had no idea why, until I turned around and saw a chicken approaching us. Then I saw its body and stopped in my tracks. What the hell? 

“C-c-c-cockatrice!” Fluttershy groaned.

“Cockatrice? Isn’t that one of those critters that turns you to stone?” At her barely perceptible nod, I raised an eyebrow. “Want me to kill it? Doesn’t seem that hard, as long as I don’t look it in the eye.”

She gave me a horrified look.

“Hey, I’m just asking. You’re the one cowering before it. We could easily just sort of, I don’t know, close our eyes and skirt around it. Or you could use your animal taming powers and turn it into a friend.”

“The last time I encountered a cockatrice, I was only able to beat it because it was threatening my friends!” Well geez, that shows what you think of me… 

“Fine, we can turn back if you want. You get to explain to Twilight why, though. Still say you should just let me wring its neck. I bet with that chicken head, it would kill it just fine.” Her eyes widened even more, which reminded me that she kept chickens. Heh, oops.

 

One night, after another attempt to get the ponies acclimatized to me, Twilight started asking questions about Earth.

“What kind of place is your world?” was the first thing she asked.

I sighed and thought of an answer that wouldn’t offend her delicate pony sensibilities. “That is a hard question to answer. I will tell you what I have told you before, as a bit of a disclaimer: I am not a normal human, in many ways. Earth… it’s full of stupid people. Individually, humans are mostly decent beings and can think well. Put them in a group and they tend to lose both decency and the ability to think. Sadly, the world I left was designed by groups, for groups. There are decent people and there are bad people. Personally, I’ve always been of the opinion that the good and evil are balanced, in a way.”

“Huh. Here, it seems that most everypony is more good than anything else!”

“It’s the same where I’m from. Most people are good, but there are a few really, really bad guys that bring the rest down, like Pol Pot. But then, morality is relative, if you think about it.”

“What does that mean?”

“There is no definite right or wrong. The concepts only exist as they are viewed by individuals. One person may find stealing morally wrong, while another may find it justified, since they were able to take something another person was unable to protect. Who is one person, after all, to declare one approach unilaterally wrong? We may not agree with it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right. Of course, my world is filled with people that don’t agree with that idea and form groups around those that think alike. They often persecute those that think differently. Countries are formed, borders are drawn, and people do their best to stick together with those that agree with them. It usually works fine. Sometimes it doesn’t and then war happens…”

 “Different countries? War? Your people are not united?” I could tell it was a concept she found hard to grasp.

“Not even close. Half the world hates the other half and no one country truly trusts each other. We don’t have your equivalent of Princess Celestia. Where I came from, we didn’t even have a monarch. We elected our leaders. It’s a good system, when your population is decently educated.”

“What do you do for common protection, then? How do you deal with monsters?”

“We conquered nature a long time ago. There are still a few events of animals attacking humans, but it’s rare. We hail from predators, after all, while it seems you ponies evolved from prey. Thus, we defend ourselves better. What is more dangerous to everyone in my world are the monsters inside of us. When we ran out of real dangers, we started inventing them. People are easily misled and can be fooled into thinking something is a threat that really isn’t. With the invention of TV, this was made super easy.”

“What is TV? A mind control device?”

I smiled at that. “In a way, yes. It’s a piece of technology that puts moving images on a screen and sound comes out of speakers on the side.”

“Oh, like a projector!”

“Sort of. Ours were considerably more advanced, but they did start out as projectors. There are several different things you can watch on TV, with tons of different ‘channels,’ each with different themes of shows. Evil invention, though sadly necessary. People use them for information or entertainment.”

“Hm… So what was your place in the world?”

“I was a student, still. I was almost at the end of my basic education, before going off to a university. I’m eighteen in human years. I don’t know what that translates to in pony years. Basically, I was still learning.”

“You seem pretty intelligent for somepony still learning. How can you say people are so stupid when you are still learning and yet seem to know so much?”

“There are a lot of problems with those assertions. First, I was almost done with school. I was on the last three months of the last year of the main education system. Second, I went to a school designed to push those who are smarter than most others. We learned a hell of a lot more there than most people do. Third, I only seem intelligent because you likely have no idea what half of what I say is about. I am merely a layman in most subjects, with very little real training. Basically, what I know only scratches the surface of what there is to know.”

“Sometimes you seem almost a braggart, and sometimes you sell yourself short. I can’t get a fix on you.”

“What can I say? I’m the most humble man on the planet.” It came out before I could think about it, but when I did, I realized it was quite literally true. I sighed at the implications of being the only one of my species out there.

“What’s wrong?”

“Humans have a pretty good life span. I’m going to be alone among ponies for a very long time. Every time I think I’m resigned to it, another thing goes off in my mind that I’ll miss. No more internet, no more books, no more music, no chance of love or raising a family or finding a mate, and from the state of affairs with the other ponies, there’s a good chance I’ll remain forever a pariah. C’est la vie…”

She looked rather crestfallen at the aching sadness in my voice. I keep forgetting it was her fault that I’m here.

I tried to make up for what I said, since I really don’t like making people sad. “At least I ended up in a realm where most of the residents aren’t trying to kill me. All the ponies I’ve run into have been rather kind, even if they are dismissive or fearful of me. If I had to be stranded anywhere, this is probably the best place for it.”

 It didn’t do much to cheer her up, but there didn’t really seem to be all that much that could be done. After all, it was her fault I was there. What more can really be said?

 

The next day, I had a meeting with Applejack to discuss farming methods and uses of different crops.

“I will tell you straight up, I am not much of a farmer.” We had already been over all of that, but I wanted to make sure she remembered. “Most of the work I ever did on a farm was helping to feed animals and baling hay. What little I know is learned from books or general education,” I told her.

“That’s alright. We ain’t really here for much more than show anyway. Just tell me what you can and we’ll see if it’s useful.”

“Okay… I don’t suppose you’d need to know about pesticides. Those are poisons we use on crops to kill off any kind of pests. They’re both good and bad, as they can cause a lot of harm to the environment, but they do kill most bugs. I don’t suggest them, not with the system you have set up.”

“What about fruit bats?” she asked. “Those pests get dug in good and they’re a pain to get rid of.”

“...Did you try making really loud noises? I think bats in my world have sensitive ears.”

“That might work. But those things can really destroy crops. We just figured it would be best to let ‘em stay in a part of the field we don’t use much.”

“Well, if that works… Anyway, I haven’t seen your entire farm, but irrigation might be an option. It’s where you dig small canals throughout your farm so getting water here and there is easier. Not a necessity, but it can be really useful on a huge farm.”

“Irrigation, huh? Might have to keep that one in mind. Big Macintosh has to spend whole days hauling water, sometimes.”

“I’m sure you probably know just about every way to cook apples there are. Do you know about apple cider, apple brandy, or apple jack?”

“We know everythin’ there is to know about cider! And I know my name is Applejack, but I don’t know about anything called that, though…”

“Huh. Well, I refuse to be the one that brings alcohol to Ponyland.” Even with as much as I could use a drink. 

“Well shoot, now you got me curious. What’s alcohol?”

What can a little knowledge hurt? “A mind altering substance that can make you feel either good or bad, depending on your mood. It causes all manner of problems where I come from, so I’m not going to be introducing it here. I don’t know how well ponies would take that stuff anyway. You’d probably need enough to drown a horse to get you drunk. No pun intended, of course. Though it would give me a chance to use a few jokes... So a pony walks into a bar... Eh, nah.”

“Sounds like it might be okay for a few special occasions, when everypony’s already happy. I don’t know what could be so bad about it.”

“Remember, I’m talking about human use. We’re unpredictable at the best of times. Imagine how we would be if you gave us something that altered us in unexpected ways. Some people are harmless drunks. Some people aren’t. Should we really risk finding out what it would do to ponies? Though thinking about it, that might be a great prank to pull on Rainbow Dash…”

“I do owe her a big one for that last doozy she gave me. If you can make something to help get back at her, I can bring you some apples.”

“This seems like a mean idea, but a fun one. I’m in, if you won’t tell anyone it was me that did it. It’ll take a month to brew something worth drinking, though. I suppose Twilight probably has everything else I need in her lab. It’s fall, right?”

“Yep. Why? Does it cook better in a warmer season or something?”

“Colder, actually. You have to deep freeze it for a while. I might show you how to make it, if you swear you’ll only do it after we test it, and then only for family celebrations. I don’t want anyone to know that I was the one to start making this stuff, if it turns out bad.”

“You have my word, Nav. But uh, if it’s as bad as you say, maybe we shouldn’t test it at all…”

“I don’t think a single test would hurt too bad, as long as we take precautions. We’ll have to make sure she can’t fly and that she stays safe until it wears off. This stuff can really impair your movement until it wears off.”

“This is sounding better and better!”

“Yeah. But it’s a relatively complicated formula. I hope Twilight has everything we’ll need in her lab.”

We spent a few more minutes discussing boring farm crap. I was able to remember a bit more than I thought, though I honestly doubt most of it was helpful.

 

Later that day, I asked to check Twilight’s lab.

“Why do you need to go down there?” she asked.

“Just a project I might be working on with Applejack, should you have the right supplies. An experiment of sorts, you could say,” I told her. I figured if the word experiment didn’t get her, nothing would.

“If you’re planning it with Applejack, where is she?”

“Getting some other supplies, of course. I didn’t figure you’d keep a load of apples down there.”

“Well, okay… I don’t see what harm you could possibly do with an experiment about apples, of all things.” With that, she led me down to the lab and helped me look for what I needed.

When she heard my list, she looked at me incredulously. “What kind of experiment did you say this was, again?”

“A surprise experiment. You have Applejack’s word that it won’t come to much or any harm.” She shook her head, but said nothing. Man, Applejack’s word must be worth a lot around here.

The next day, Applejack showed up with the apples. We started the brew, after I gave her the disclaimer that I had never actually made any booze. I told her what should happen and how it should go. It took a while to get it set up.

When it was finally ready to start going, she chuckled darkly at the contraption we had set up. “This’ll teach her to paint all my apples!”

I knew better than to ask.

Given that my first trip to Zecora’s abode failed, Twilight decided to wait until Zecora made one of her trips into town to try again. So it was that the extremely strange zebra and I met for the first time in Twilight’s library. The purple mare herself was off doing something, giving us privacy.

“Something of your nature I have never seen,” Zecora said as soon as we got settled down. “Stranger yet, your demeanor doesn’t seem mean!”

“Did you just rhyme?” I asked before I could stop myself.

“A rhyme I did just speak, so you needn’t be meek. There are many strange things here in this land, in lush jungles and vast stretches of sand. As someone who is undoubtedly quite new here, how will you make a life in a place without peer?”

“I don’t fucking want to. Given the choice, I’d rather go home. But that autistic purple horse doesn’t seem to be able to figure out how to send me back. If I truly get stuck here… I have no clue what I’ll do.”

“Would it truly be so bad? Would living here drive you mad?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. It’s only been a little over a week. The ponies seem nice, but they’re all so cautious and skittish. This place is not at all where I belong. But… there’s nothing I can really do about it. Magic is apparently relegated to things with horns and the princess Twilight keeps harping about isn’t doing shit to help. Whether or not it will drive me mad isn’t really the question. It’s whether or not I have a fucking choice.”

“There is always the choice to live or to die. But I suggest giving living here a try. To you, living here and finding the right place will be quite odd. But you’ll find the happiness the ponies have is no facade. Their happiness is true, and it could fit you, too.”

“I could grow happy here… Or Twilight could find a way to send me back. Why adjust to something unnecessarily? And hell, what about my family? I left things behind, Zecora. Things that can’t be forgotten. How do you think they feel about me just fucking disappearing?”

“I, of all ponies, fully understand your true fear. You aren’t the only one who’s left behind someone dear. We were the both of us exiled from our home, and forced into a life where we must now roam. Here is where I have now chosen to settle, despite the attempts of a few to meddle. I’ve made a good life, free from too much strife. Ponyville is quite a nice place, with many neighbors and much space.”

“Shit, it’s not like I have much of a choice anyway. Even if I did know somewhere better to go, I’m stuck in case Twilight finds a way to get me back…” We shared a moment of silence, since I couldn’t think of much to say. “So uh, what’s with the rhymes?”

“There will be another time later to tell that tale. For now, I must go to the market and find a sale. There is not much time before it grows dark, and upon my trip home I must embark.”

“Well… It was nice to meet you.” I think. “And I suppose I’ll probably see you later.”

And so went what was perhaps the strangest meeting I ever had.

 
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