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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89. Chapter Seventy-Four—Armed and dangerous

I actually got to sleep in the next morning, which for me meant waking up whenever the sun outside was coming up—which reminded me that I really needed to get some vitamin D.

I sat up, stretching. I popped my neck and other body parts as I said, “Hey intercom dude, you there?”

It crackled and what sounded like Ryan replied, “Yep. Still me, too.”

“Jesus dude, what the fuck kind of shift do you have?”

“A very, very long one. What do you need?”

“Clothes. I need a shower and I need something to change into.”

“There should be some in the drawers.”

“Yeah, for chicks. I’m not going around in a skirt, blouse, and tight little panties.”

“…Huh. Hold on.” I waited for a minute, stretching myself out some more. Eventually he said, “Alright, check the blue one’s room. There should be guy clothes in there. They… probably won’t fit you, but at least you’ll feel somewhat modest.”

“Awesome. You did shut down that shitty anime for Rarity, right?”

“Yeah. She uh… she had some questions, though.”

“I hope you answered them, because I know I don’t know shit about anime.”

“I did. She tried to get me to show her more, but she really looked tired.”

“Yeah… I don’t care anymore. I’m gonna get clothes and take a shower. Thanks for the help, mate.”

“You got it.” And with that, the intercom went silent. I finished stretching and hopped off the bed before walking next door to Dash’s room. I quietly opened her door, snuck over to her dresser, and emptied it of all the clothing I could. She was snoring the entire time.

I took the clothes back to my room and threw them all on the bed to be sorted through later. For the moment, I grabbed some kind of very soft jeans and an even softer button-down shirt. I took a nice and long shower and then spent about ten minutes trying to get the clothes I was given to not hang off my frame limply. I also had to tear holes in the back of the shirt to fit it around my wings.

Eventually I gave up trying to fit them and just cinched a belt around the clothes, pulling it tight. I nodded and left the bathroom. I immediately froze on my tracks at what I saw: Rarity’s ass, with her upper half rooting through my dresser.

Maybe if I’m quiet enough I can sneak around her…

I started very cautiously tiptoeing to the door, hoping to take refuge in Dash’s room. I kept my eyes glued to Rarity’s admittedly nice flank the whole time. When I was about halfway there, she said, “These ears are not just for show, Navarone.” Dammit. She pulled her body out of the dresser and turned to face me, a grin on her face. “I know you did what you did to be mean, but that show… It was very interesting.”

“…That’s nice. I’m just gonna go.”

Her grin deepened. “Go where, Nav? I think I finally understand you now.” She walked up to me and began circling me, looking me over. “Why you insist on that horrid mane style. Why you’re so skinny. And these past two days have given me the final pieces of the puzzle… You’re short, smaller than most other humans. And when you put that… anime, as Ryan called it, on for me, your final hint clicked.”

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But I have a horrible idea.

She stopped in front of me, still smiling. “You don’t have to hide it from me, Nav. I saw all the clothes you have in your drawer, looted from Dash’s room. I know your little secret. You want to be a little girly-boy!”

“I’m done here.” I tried to push past Rarity, but she stopped me with a hoof.

“You don’t have to lie to yourself anymore, Nav! I can help you! Oooh, and just think about all the clothes I can make for you!”

“Rarity, you have mental problems. I’ve already had sex with a chick since we got here. If I was into cross-dressing and being gay, why would I be going after Cici instead of Ryan?”

“Nav, you shouldn’t be ashamed of your desires. You don’t have to hide behind your masculinity anymore! You can embrace your more feminine side now. Sure, Fancy Pants and Rainbow Dash will be judgmental, but between the two of us, we can turn them around. I mean, why else would you even know about that anime?”

“Rarity, are you even listening to yourself? Back home, I have a pair of stones that can change my gender. If I really wanted to be a fucking chick, I would use the stones.”

“Yes, but then everypony would judge you. And you’ve been hiding it for so long… Nav, ponies are very accepting. If you had told us all from the beginning, we would have helped you!”

“Woman, you have problems. I am very happy being a straight man that fucks women.” Well, happy may be pushing it, but I did not at all want to be a little shota. “You need to take a fucking chill pill. If you keep going on about this, Imma slap yo shit.”

“Nav, as I’m sure you know, I can be a very generous mare. It’s only in my nature to make sure you are as happy as you can be. I just want what’s best for you! I promise, I can make the other two see reason. Just give in to your de—” She was interrupted by me backhanding her across the face.

“Again: If you keep going on about this, Imma slap yo shit.”

She slowly turned her head back to me, anger in her eyes. “That was very rude. And I was just trying to help! Your desires are perfectly natu—” I lifted my hand up to slap her again, but she stopped, eyeing it. “Very well. I know when I am not wanted. Continue wallowing in your misery and unhappiness. I will go back to my quarters and watch more of this fascinating anime that Ryan suggested for me.”

“Good. There’s the door. I trust you know the way out.”

She sniffed and held her head high as she left. She stopped with the door open, ready to bolt if necessary. “Should you ever change your mind, you know where to find me.” I just pointed to the hall. She left, nose held arrogantly in the air.

When the door swung shut, I sighed. “Four years, Ryan. I’ve been dealing with that shit for over four years.

“She doesn’t seem that bad,” the intercom said.

“She raped me because, according to her, I needed to get laid. It took her years to apologize and admit she was wrong. Now, you know of anything I need to do today?”

“…Did you just say you got raped by a horse?”

“Yes. That wasn’t the only time. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Huh. Well, there are two guards on their way to pick you up. You’ve got a meeting with Dr. Anonymous as soon as you woke up. They should be there in five.”

“Awesome. Any idea what the old man wants?”

“No clue. Say, I know this seems like an odd question, but are you two related?”

“Something like that. Do you know if that cute guard will be one of the two to get me?”

I heard sighing over the intercom. “Nav, if you do get permission to go into the city, do you think you can help me out with something?”

“Maybe. What do you need?”

He didn’t answer for a few seconds. Eventually, he said, “I want to get laid.”

“With a chick or with a dude?”

“Your speech patterns are so… retro. With a woman.”

“I’ll see what I can do. But if this works, you owe me.”

“Sure, whatever. If I can get out of this lifelong rut I’ll be happy.” I smiled at his choice of words.

I was about to explain why it was funny when the door opened. “Fuck, do you guys ever knock?” I asked as one of the guards walked in.

Despite the fact that I couldn’t see his face, he seemed somewhat taken aback. “It… never occurred to us. If I ever get sent to get you again, I will.”

“Thank you. Shall we?”

He stepped out of the way of the door and waved an arm. “After you.” I walked past him, into the hall. He pulled the door shut and set off toward the elevator.

“So what does the old man want?” I asked as we walked.

“No clue,” the apparently female guard behind me answered. “Just said he wanted to see you.”

I ruffled my feathers, hoping it was the same guard from yesterday. She didn’t start feeling me up, so I assumed it wasn’t. “Ah well. I’ll find out soon, I suppose. Hey, is there any kind of sunbathing place I could get to?”

“There are a few in the city,” the guy answered. “Why?”

“With my body as it is, I need sunlight for energy. It’s a long story.”

The dude pressed the down button on the elevator. “From the sounds of things, you’ve had a hard life. We heard some of the observers talking, though none of them were given many details.”

“…Observers?”

“Yeah. Remember when you made copies of your memories? How it works is that a number of observers are given different time periods to look at and none are told what or who they’re viewing, just what they need to watch for. From what I heard, some of them were traumatized.”

I was kind of mad at that. Not that they were traumatized, that my memories were so freely distributed. I expected it to be done by just one or two people. “Serves them right,” I said. “Those memories were mine, not to be shared.” I smirked, a dark thought coming to me. “I hope they were in VR chambers when they went through some of them.” I mean, I was assuming they had virtual reality at this point.

“That’s not common practice,” the chick said. “However, I heard one of them specializes in stuff like that. They had to rip that poor bastard out. He was screaming something about a horn.”

I gave a quiet and dark laugh at that. The two guards shared a look, but didn’t comment. “How many observers were there?” I asked. They both shrugged. It didn’t really matter anyway. The elevator pinged open and we all stepped out of it. One of them took the lead and I asked, “So where the hell is everyone, anyway? I’ve walked these halls a few times but I never fucking see anyone else in them.”

“With their families,” one of them answered. “It is the season, after all. You and your friends have caused quite a stir, but not enough to pull everyone away from their time off.”

I sighed, jamming my hands in my oversized pockets. What the guard said was enough to remind me that my parents were dead, the other me was a dick, and my sister was married and probably wouldn’t be allowed to see me. I sighed and muttered, “Came back in time for nothing…” Well, mostly nothing. Fucking human chicks and getting equipment were reasons enough, I suppose.

We got to Anon’s office in silence. They let me in with no knocking or announcement, oddly enough. My other self nodded at the chair across the table from himself. “Sit.” I sat down and leaned back as much as I could, thankful to finally have chairs made for humans. “As far as we can tell, you’re harmless enough. Well, in the sense that I don’t think you’ll do anything unless provoked. I’m willing to let you roam the city we have under a few conditions.”

“I’m listening.”

“No covering your wings, for one. I want to be able to pick you out of a crowd easily. Not that it should be too hard, given our… diminutive statures. Second, you see a psychologist at least an hour per every three days. You have problems that need to be fixed. Third, you sleep in the room set aside for you every night. A curfew, you could call it. Any objections?”

“What’s with the shitty curfew, man?”

“It is for your own good. We saw how… popular you were with some of the ladies.”

More like you want to observe me at all hours. “What about the equipment I want?”

“You will receive what you requested when you get us into the future. No sooner.”

I sighed, my wings twitching. “Doc, I’ve been thinking… I’m going to be alive for quite a while. And the political scene in this place right now… It ain’t all that hot. Tensions are flaring and shit. Time… It doesn’t really work how people think it works. If I went to the future right now, I could spend thirty years there and come back here less than a second after I left. Why would I bring you back with me right now? If I can successfully free the elementals and whatever, I can get a powerful group of entities that owe me a huge favor. They probably won’t have any allegiance to anyone. Use some gold to hire some freelance unicorns and bring the humans to the future then. No need for politics, no need for Celestia’s permission. But… I’ll need to live that long. And having some good gear means that’ll be possible. Whataya say, Doc?”

He leaned back in his much nicer chair. “And what is to stop you from stabbing us in the back and stranding us?”

“My word. You of all people know that when I give my word to do something, that something gets done.”

“There is a first time for everything. Why should I risk the survival of my species on that?”

“Because if I really wanted you fuckers dead that badly, I wouldn’t bring you back for the gear anyway. Yes, it would be nice to have that stuff, but if I cared that much, I wouldn’t bother helping you at all. I want some good stuff that’ll help me survive long enough to get you people there. And I want to save humanity, but that won’t stop me from letting you all die if I don’t get what I need.”

“So that’s how it’s gonna be,” he said, crossing his arms. “If you don’t get your way you’ll let us all die. How selfish do you have to be, Navarone?”

“There ain’t nothing in this world for free. And my friend, you better fucking believe I’m wicked. What do you have to lose? An extremely durable laptop with a few solar chargers. A rifle with easy to replace ammo. Maybe a light combat suit. Anything else you can think of that someone like me could use. Surely the all-powerful Google can front the cost of that for the sake of humanity.”

He sighed and rubbed at his face before saying, “I’ll see what I can do. Whatever kind of world turned me into such an asshole, though… I don’t know if I want any more humans there.”

“Better than being dead. And better that I wait to bring you there until I have more power and control and can set us up in a safe location where we won’t be slaves.”

“Yeah. Don’t forget about us, either.”

“Of course not. This’ll just give me another reason to keep living.” At least until I help them get to the future.

“Very well. Now, you have an appointment with your psychologist in twenty minutes. The guards will show you to him. I will have a talk with your three friends and you will be allowed into the main population either later today or tomorrow.”

“Man, did you have to pick today to give me the damn appointment?”

“Yes. Now go.”

I sighed and stood, turning to go, but I thought of something at the last moment. “Did you talk to Jane?” I asked.

“I did. She didn’t seem that enthused to leave her family during the Christmas season, but said she would make an exception because it seemed like an emergency. She should be here in two or three days.”

“God, I look forward to it. I just wish… Well, wishing doesn’t solve anything. I’ll talk to you later, Doc.” He nodded and out I went. “Apparently I have some kind of appointment,” I said to the guards.

“Right this way,” the chick answered, walking further down the hall. We fell in behind her.

“So what’s with the wings, anyway?” the guy asked, poking one of them.

“Where I come from, magic exists. I picked these up after two spells combined in a very wrong way.”

“Can you fly?”

“Back there I can. I can’t, here. Not that I could really fly in these tunnels. It would be too hard to stay even and I’d probably end up hitting the floor or the ceiling.”

“Hm. Do you sing?”

“…What?”

He grinned. “I’m a fan of old literature. There’s a book called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I was just wondering if you were familiar with the concept.”

“I don’t mind not flying. I was born without wings, after all. You ask someone like Dash, and you’d probably get a different answer. I imagine that pegasus is going crazy right now.” If she’s even awake yet.

The other guard stopped. “Here we are,” she said, knocking on one of the doors in the hall. It opened without a sound. “We’ll be back to pick you up in an hour,” she said. “Don’t make us come back early.”

“I’ll do my best.” I walked into the room and the door shut behind me. I found myself in a waiting room, no one else present.

“Come on back, Anonymous,” a male voice said. Dammit, I was hoping I could seduce her. I walked on through the other door and found a smiling Indian dude waiting for me. Dot head, I mean, not spearchucker. Not that it really matters. “Please, sit.” He waved an arm at the couch across from his chair. I plopped my ass down and tried to get comfortable. “So what seems to be the problem, Anonymous?”

“A few things. First, please call me Navarone. It’s a stupid name, thinking about it, but it’s better than Anonymous and I’ve been using it for the past four years. Second, I don’t even know your name.”

“Ah, forgive me. I am Doctor Chile.” I know what I’m asking for dinner tonight. “It is good to meet you… Navarone.”

“Alright. There are a few reasons I should probably be talking to you. I don’t think it’ll do any good, but whatever.”

“You never know,” he said. “My profession has come a long way. You said you think you know why you’re here. Why is that?”

“Reason one would be the number of times I’ve been raped and mistreated. I’m suffering from some kind of hypersexuality as a coping mechanism. Reason two would be the post-traumatic stress disorder I’m going through. Reason three would be something new, I imagine: Total abandonment. I’m not a human anymore, but I’m not anything else, either. I’m about as alone as it’s possible to be while surrounded by people.”

“Those are definitely astute observations. How did you even know the term hypersexuality?”

“That’s really a thing? I just made the word up since it seems to fit.”

“Well, either way, those do seem to be some of the problems. Tell me, how many people are you really close to?”

“Like, one or two. Why?”

He marked something down on a clipboard and I narrowed my eyes; I don’t like being ignored. “Why do you think that is, Navarone?”

“I’m surrounded by tiny talking horses that are incapable of understanding some of what I’ve been through. I alienate myself for their benefit.”

“Tell me about the two you’re close to. What makes them different?”

“One lives inside of my head, and not in the ‘I’m crazy’ way, but in the literal way. She knows what I know and sees what I see. I couldn’t help but be close to her.” He marked something else down and I continued, “The other is my adopted daughter. She belongs in an orphanage, but no one would listen to me when I told them.” I shrugged. “That’s life.”

“And why does she belong in an orphanage?”

“Because I’m an emotionally stunted freak that has no real place in the world and nothing to offer a child.”

“Is that really how you feel, Navarone?”

“Yep.”

At his small grin, I knew I was going to be there for a while.

 

A while later, I was finally free from his hellish office. He tried to get me to agree to not have any sex until I spoke with him again, but when I laughed in his face, he agreed that he was asking just a little too much. When I continued laughing, he realized there was no way in hell he could get me to abstain at all without using a chastity belt.

Anyway, I was free. The two guards led me back to my room, where I found Dash chilling on the bed. “That movie thing is broken,” she said. I walked over to the computer and turned it on. “Psh, showoff.”

“Yeah, yeah. Hopefully we’ll be allowed into the general population today.” I was about to continue when someone knocked on my door. Since I was still standing, I walked on over and opened it to find Aaron standing there. “Sup?”

“Not much. Commander wants me to show you some gear you’re apparently getting. Wanna come down to the firing range?”

“Hell. Yes. Just let me set up something for Dash and we can go.” I started walking back in. He followed me, stopping to stare at Dash.

She stared right back. “What?” she asked.

“…That mane natural?” he asked.

She sighed. “Why does everypony ask that?”

“Because that shit just ain’t right,” I answered. “What do you want to watch? I’m going to the range.”

“Like, your crossbow range?”

“Something like that,” I answered.

“Can I come?”

I looked over at Aaron, who shrugged. I looked back at her and said, “Sure. Just don’t touch anything and stand where we tell you to. Your coat looks better as blue than it would as purple.”

“…What?” she asked.

“Blue and red makes purple. Let’s go.”

She shrugged and hopped off the bed. We all stepped out of my room and Aaron led the way back to the elevators. “So how do these things work?” Dash asked as we started to descend.

“Cables,” I answered. “Strong ones.”

Aaron smiled. “That’s how they used to work,” he said. “Now it’s mostly magnets.”

I sighed. “Magnets man, how the fuck do they work?”

“I’m a soldier, not a scientist. I might as well try explaining magic.”

Dash scoffed. “Magic is easy! You just gotta go with it and nothing will ever go wrong.”

“What about that time Twilight did anything ever?”

“Okay, Twilight’s a special case,” she said. “She doesn’t count.”

“…She’s the element of magic, isn’t she?”

“That’s beside the point!”

The elevator pinged open and Aaron stepped out, shaking his head. “I think I’m missing something,” he sighed, leading the way further in.

“Twilight’s a unicorn that fucks everything up,” I answered. “She’s immensely powerful and very book smart, but has very little in the common sense department. Think of this world like a cartoon, where there’s someone at the end of every occurrence that spouts an Aesop about some bullshit or another. She’s usually the one with the Aesop.”

“That would be really annoying,” he said.

“Damn right it is,” I answered, nodding. “Hell, I got roped into that shit once, though no one liked what I came up with.”

“Do I even want to know?” he asked.

“Nope.”

Dash gently kicked my leg. “She isn’t that bad, Nav. She just… needs somepony to help keep her calm.”

“Yeah, and that was me for near on four years. That shit gets old. The best way to calm her down was to fuck her silly, but you try doing that out in public and see how far you get.” They both flinched at that. “What?”

“Sorry,” Aaron said. “It’s just… I’m not used to the idea of… that.” I think he was trying to be polite, with Dash standing right there.

Dash just sighed. “I knew you two were close, but I never knew it was like that.”

“Yeah… The first time was not my proudest moment,” I said. “It involved pheromones and hormones and my mind being too clouded to see how bad of an idea it was. I wanted out. I… did not handle it well. And that is one reason why I have a new house.”

“I miss all the good stuff…” she sighed before her ears twitched. “So… that means Twilight’s available?”

“As far as I know.” She just grinned.

Aaron looked back at her and asked, “So same-sex couples are okay where you come from?”

“Yeah. Why wouldn’t they be? You get some parents that aren’t too happy about it since they want grandkids and some races care less for it than others, but nopony really minds that much.”

“Huh. So why everypony and nopony? Why not everyone and nobody?”

I rolled my eyes, having had this conversation many times. “What do you mean?” Dash asked.

“Well, aren’t there different species there? Like… dragons and stuff? What if you’re referring to a group that has a dragon in it and say everypony? Wouldn’t that piss it off?”

“Of course not!”

“Actually,” I broke in, “it does. Spike doesn’t count because he was raised by ponies. Try it with just about any other race that hasn’t been mostly raised with or by ponies and they tend to be displeased when you say that. Especially the dragons.”

She just rolled her eyes and didn’t answer. Aaron did, though. “Wouldn’t saying things like everyone include… well, everyone? Of all races? I mean, you guys do have that word, right?”

“Everyone else uses it,” I answered. “It’s just ponies that don’t. I could explain the reasoning behind it, but I won’t with Dash right here.”

“Hey! I can take anything you have to say!”

I tousled her hair with a grin. “Keep on telling yourself that, Dashie.”

She glared up at me. “You know everypony hates it when you do that, Nav.”

“Well duh. Why do you think I do it?” She huffed and shook her head, somehow getting her hair back to the way it was before.

“Here we are.” Aaron pressed a hidden button on the wall and a scanner came out. He pushed his thumb down on it and then put his eye to another scanner that popped out. A second later, a hidden door slowly hissed open, pulling from the left and right sides and leaving a very wide door that we all entered.

I stopped when we got inside, a grin slowly forming on my face. “I think I just came,” I said, looking at the armory in front of me.

“I felt the same way when I first saw this place,” Aaron said with a laugh. “As soon as we talk with the quartermaster, we’ll get you to the firing line.”

An older looking fellow stepped out of a side door. “Ah, you are the one I was sent word about.” He looked me up and down. “I know what you need. Wait here.” He walked down the rows of guns and stopped at a dustier looking area. He walked down the row and I lost sight of him.

“So what kind of weapons do we have now?” I asked, walking over to a rack with some futuristic tech on it.

“We got laser tech down a few years ago. It’s decent for weapons against unarmored targets. We have some experimental plasma weapons as well. A lot of pulse stuff.” He pulled a submachine gun off one of the racks. “This here’s my kinda toy. A hundred rounds, negligible recoil. Good for crowd control. Not accurate past thirty meters, but that’s what the rest of the squad is for.” We heard the quartermaster coming back and he quickly put the SMG back on the shelf.

He was carrying a smallish rifle that looked like it had some kind of pump on it. “This here’s a pneumatic shotgun/carbine model. It was designed to take down single, unarmored targets using relatively common and easy to replace ammunition. Put something pointy in this thing, pump it, and pull the trigger. Pinpoint accurate out to two hundred meters. Small recoil, almost silent, extremely deadly, ammo’s easy to make as long as you’re using something that won’t shatter, and it has an extremely useful alternate fire. Pump it full to max, flip this switch here, and you have a shotgun with an immense spread, good for about twenty meters. It’ll toss just about anything into the air and send it flying.”

As cool as it was, it looked more like a basic upgrade to my crossbow. “I was hoping for something… I don’t know, a bit more deadly. You don’t have to tell me that bolts can kill—trust me, I know. But I’ve been using a crossbow that’s good for around a hundred meters if you know how to aim and you’re having a good day. The extra distance would be nice, but I want something that will kill someone if I hit them just about anywhere.”

He rolled his eyes. “Boy, you take anything heavier than this and it’ll throw your ass to the ground as soon as you pull the trigger.”

“I’m stronger than I look.”

“Sure ya are. Even if that’s the case, you still gotta worry about what you’re going to shoot. You take one of our fancy new plasma rifles, where are you going to get the coolant or the cells needed to keep it firing? You take a laser rifle, where are you going to get the focus crystals if any of them burn out? Or replace the battery? Hell kid, you take an old fashioned assault rifle, where are you going to get the brass or gun powder to keep it shooting? With this thing, you can just use your crossbow bolts, if they wouldn’t shatter from the force of this thing.”

“I know all that. I was still hoping you guys had figured something else out.”

“Well, we didn’t. Unless you want a useless club after your first shootout, this is your only choice.”

I sighed. “Can I at least shoot something heavy? You guys got any rocket launchers?”

“No! Sweet Jesus, boy! You trying to turn my damn firing range into a wasteland?!”

“Hey, if you’ve seen some of what I’ve seen, you wouldn’t mind blowing stuff up too. Now, shall we test this thing?” He rolled his eyes and passed me the little carbine. It was about three feet long, had a small scope on it, and a lever around the trigger. If I had to guess, I’d say it weighed in at around five or six pounds. “So why a carbine and not a full rifle?”

“Because the full rifle is longer than you are.” He looked at Aaron and said, “Take him to the range. I’ll be there in a few minutes with some ammo and some other gear I’m supposed to give him.”

“Yes sir.”

Dash finally looked up from where she had been looking at some of the heavier weapons. “Hey, what about me?”

The quartermaster jumped back at her voice, surprised. “Sweet lordy, you talk!” Dash just sighed and rolled her eyes. “…Sorry. No, you aren’t authorized to take anything.”

“Oh come on!”

“Dash, chill. It’s his job to make sure nothing gets misused. You can shoot that shitty pistol I made back home when we get back.”

“How are you supposed to shoot something anyway?” the old man asked. “You ain’t got no fingers.”

She lifted her wings up and curled them. “Most dexterous wings out there, ya old coot. Anything you can do, I can do!”

He grinned a dark, evil grin. “We’ll see about that, little missy.” He jerked his head back to the guard. “Get them to the range. I’ll be a bit longer than I thought.”

Aaron sighed, perhaps knowing what was about to happen. “Yes sir,” he morosely answered. “Come on.” He led us through the still open door and pressed another hidden button, getting the door to shut. He started down the hall and we followed.

“So, did Dash’s challenge put him in the mood to bring out the big guns?” I asked.

“No. He’s going to get his bow. If she can even pull that thing back, there’s no way she can get as accurate as him. If she can, he’ll be pulling her into the VR chamber, if he can even find one she’ll fit into. Then they’ll shoot the biggest sniper rifle you’ve ever seen at a target over two kilometers away.”

“Without practice? That’ll be funny to see.”

Dash scoffed. “Can’t be that hard. Just point at the target, right?”

“At short range, sure,” I said. “At that kind of range? You have to take a bunch of things into account. Wind, temperature, gravity, curvature of the planet… Probably more. I’ve never shot farther than three hundred yards.”

“What the hell’s a yard?” Aaron asked as he interacted with another series of hidden buttons.

“It’s an older term for meter.” Well, it might as well be. “Thirty-five years seems a bit short to have completely forgotten about them, though.” A very similar set of doors hissed open and we walked on into a very large underground range that had no people in it. “Where is everyone?”

“With their families or on break, probably,” Aaron answered. I need to stop forgetting the season.

“Lucky them. So can we shoot this thing or what?”

“The old man didn’t give us any ammo, so no. I can go ahead and get the range set up, though.” He walked over to one of the many firing lanes and pushed some buttons on the side of the wall. “Normally we’d be using headgear, but he said this thing is silent and I know his bow isn’t that loud. Man, I’ve never even seen a rifle like that.”

I could see the results of his button pressing as four targets at varying distances popped up. Looked like fifty, one hundred, one-fifty, and two hundred meters.

“It’s pretty light for something as long as it is,” I said, lifting it up and putting my eye to the scope. “Decent magnification.”

“From the looks of that scope, it can go thermal and probably light gathering,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it can zoom in and out as well. I’ll let the gunny show you how it works so I don’t break anything.”

The only problem I had with the way the rifle was built was that the scope was actually built into the rifle itself, so I couldn’t aim down the sights.

“Can I look?” Dash asked as I brought the scope back to my eyes.

I passed the rifle to her. “Be careful. And don’t put your eye right on the scope, give it some room.” It took her a few seconds to get it angled right, but eventually she gasped.

“It’s like it’s right in front of me!”

“…You’re looking at me, Dash,” I said.

She pulled her head away from the scope. “…Oh.” She jerked the rifle away from me and looked at something else. “It’s still pretty awesome. What were those other things he mentioned? Thermal and that light thing?”

“Thermal lets you see heat signatures. Basically, if something is warm, you’ll see it. Light gathering lets you see easier in the dark, not that I’ll need that.”

The doors hissed open as the old man walked in, carrying a large container in each hand. One definitely looked like a bow case, while the other presumably had ammo for my new toy.

He walked up to our firing lane and gently set both down. “In this crate is everything you’re getting. Heavy laptop, ammo, all-purpose solar chargers, and a two-way radio set. On the laptop is everything you can find on the servers here, plus schematics for the rifle you have, the ammo, and the magazines.”

“It comes with mags? Fuck yes.”

He lifted a finger and warned, “The magazines only work with the standard ammo. You try putting something else in there and they might break or jam. With a mag, it becomes a standard semi-automatic rifle. They have ten shots each. You gotta open the breach and let it breathe for a few seconds every time you swap a mag or put in a single round.” He knelt down and popped the crate open. “Each round is fairly light.” He reached in and pulled out a rather long magazine that looked like it fit in the bottom of the rifle. “You’ve fired a gun before, right?”

“Yep.”

He passed me the mag. “See if you can figure it out.”

All things told, the rifle was pretty standard in terms of loading, or at least that’s how it looked to me. There was a bolt that was easy enough to pull and lock back. I slipped the mag in gently, making sure the pointy side of the metal sliver poking out was pointing toward the barrel. When I heard it click, I let it go and tugged the bolt back so it jerked forward, locking the round.

“Easy enough,” he said, nodding. “Here’s your safety.” He reached over and turned a switch all the way up. “Down is safe. Middle is shotgun. Top is normal fire.” He nodded down the lane. “Fifty meters.”

I lifted the rifle up, smiling. It’s nice to have a real weapon in my hands again. I lined the scope up onto the head of the human-shaped target and fired. “Boom, headshot,” I whispered, my smile growing. I switched to the hundred meter one and fired. I was off, but not by much. I took a second to steady my aim and fired again. The recoil was so negligible I barely got off target at all. Finally, I moved to the two hundred meter shot. I knelt down and propped the rifle onto the small table in front of me to steady it. After a few breathers, I fired. I was aiming at the center of mass because I didn’t know how the rifle would fare.

Little bit of drop. Not much. I corrected for that small amount and finished the magazine off. “Not perfect aim, but good enough to kill,” I said, standing up and turning back. The old man was smiling, Dash looked kind of bored, and Aaron looked impressed.

“Alright,” the old dude said, nodding. “Let me show you how the scope works.” I held the rifle up and he walked over. “This here’s your scope setting. Right now, it’s on normal. This sets it to thermal.” He flicked the switch. “This sets it to light gathering.” He flicked the switch the other way. He then set it back to normal. “This button changes magnification. You can go from one to ten. I’m sure you know what all of those mean. The top button increases it, the bottom button decreases it. If the scope runs out of power, there’s a charger for it in the all-purpose solar kit.”

“Awesome. But if I can charge a scope with it, why can’t I charge a battery for a laser weapon?”

“Because you could never get the amount of energy it takes compacted well enough using a solar charger. I don’t really know how to explain it. Ask an engineer or something if you want a real answer. Either way, it looks like you know how to shoot. Just a note: You can probably reuse the rounds you fire outta that thing, if you can find them again. Just check them over for damage.”

“How do I break the rifle down?”

“I don’t remember off the top of my head. The air rifles were never that popular. We only have a few in stock, just in case. Check the schematics on the laptop. You’ll probably find the info there. Any other questions?”

“None I can think of.”

“Good. Now come over here, girly.” He grabbed his bow case. “You think you can do anything I can? Let’s see.”

He carried his case to another lane, Dash following him with a smirk. I knelt down to the crate and found five more magazines, each fully loaded. There was also an ammo box that was presumably full of rounds.

I popped the spent mag out, let the breach close, and popped in a new mag. As a final safety measure, I put it on safe.

“That was some pretty awesome shooting,” Aaron commented as I opened the ammo box.

“I got a lot of practice with a crossbow. Nothing at those distances, though.” I began to load up the spent magazine.

“That’s even more amazing, then.”

“I’m part tree. I don’t flinch much.” I finished loading the empty mag and tried slipping it into a pocket to find the pants I had on didn’t have any. Note to self, get cargo pants. I set the magazine in the crate with everything else and closed the ammo box. I gently set the rifle down and pulled out the laptop before closing the crate and sitting on top of it. “How long do you think this is going to take?” I asked as I booted it up.

“Not long. I don’t think she’ll be able to pull that thing back.”

“Won’t stop her from trying for half an hour…” I immediately turned the shitty touchscreen option off and opened the rifle schematics that were thankfully right on the desktop. I started poring through them, trying to find the information I needed to break the rifle down to more manageable parts.

Ten minutes later, I had the gun down to a much more manageable mess of parts. When I looked up and saw that Dash was struggling to use her wings to pull back the bow, I put the rifle back together and test fired it once. When it worked just fine I pulled the magazine out and slung the rifle around my back.

At that point, Dash was finally ready to admit defeat, something I almost never see from her. “Stupid bow,” she muttered as Aaron led us back to the elevator.

I wisely decided to keep my mouth shut. After a look from me, Aaron did the same. When we got to my room, Dash followed me in, kicking the door shut in Aaron’s face.

“That wasn’t very nice,” I said as I put the awkward case down on the bed.

She huffed, walking to the bed. “Stupid humans with your stupid hands…” She sighed and collapsed onto it. “What’s with all these clothes, anyway?”

“All I had in my drawers were female clothes. I looted these from someone else’s room.”

She poked at a pair of socks. “Clothes are clothes. What’s the difference?”

I walked over to the clothing drawer and pulled out a very lacy thong. “Can you imagine me wearing this?”

“…Does that go on your head or something?”

“It goes on my lower head, yes.”

It took her a second, but she got it. She flinched back, a blush slowly forming on her face. “Oh… That doesn’t really seem comfortable.”

“It’s not, for a guy. I don’t know if it is for a chick or not.”

“Why would they even wear something like that?”

“To look sexy, of course. And fuck does it work.” I dropped the panties back into the drawer and kicked it shut so Rarity didn’t get any ideas. “You’ve never seen a naked chick before, have you?”

“Nope. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without clothes either…”

“Let’s keep it that way.” I walked over to the computer and turned it on. “Remember when I mentioned porn?”

“Yeah?”

“They’re videos of sex. I’ll see if I can find any lesbo shit so you can see what clothes can do.”

“I dunno, Nav… Won’t that be kinda awkward?”

“Hey, if you’re going to be getting laid, don’t you want to know some things first?”

“Well… I guess it can’t hurt.” I found the appropriate folder on the computer and looked up some lesbian stuff. Two minutes passed. “…This was a bad idea,” she whispered, fighting to keep her wings down. Her eyes were glued to the screen and a blush was very present on her face.

The only bad idea here was not moving my clothes first. Dash was rather noticeably aroused at the human women. I surreptitiously began pulling clothes off the bed. When I had everything I could get piled on top of the dresser, I closed the porn window. “I think that’s enough of that,” I said, turning back to her.

She flinched and awkwardly laughed. “Ye-yeah… I’m gonna go… get some rest, or something. Seeyoulater!” She bolted out of my room.

“Dammit Nav,” Ryan said over the intercom. “Now I have to watch another horse wank off.”

“Hey, at least Fancy Pants isn’t doing it.”

He sighed. “Small blessings…”

“Yep. So you hear any word about when we’re going to get to go into the city?”

“Tonight. You’ll be forbidden from entering any kind of bar or club. You are also to stick together so you can be shown around. The city is… confusing for those not used to it.”

“We will get to go to bars and shit later, right?”

“As far as I know.”

“Awesome. That’s still where people go to get laid, right?”

“If I knew that, do you think I would be asking you for help to get laid?”

“Eh, I’ll figure something out. Who’s going to be my guide?”

“I don’t know. Today’s the last day of the break most of us get for Christmas, so everyone is milking it. I imagine you’ll get a volunteer or something. I would go, but I don’t get up to the city that often.”

“What can you tell me about it?”

He took a few seconds to answer, and I saw something happening on my computer. I looked over and saw what looked like a map. “Hold on, this is about to get weird for you.” What I thought was a webcam on the computer lit up and some kind of holograph shot out of it. “This is a map. The closest thing I can equate the city to is an old-style indoor mall. It has several levels and various ways to get up and down. Some of the ‘stores’ take up multiple levels. City isn’t really the right word for it, but that’s what people call it.”

I was looking over the map, trying to make sense of it. “What do the different colors represent?”

“Districts. Green is shopping, grey is industrial, blue is security, red is red light, white is housing, yellow is food places, and orange is entertainment.” Green, yellow, and orange were rather spread out. Blue dotted the area here and there. White, grey, and red had large blobs to themselves, though the red light district wasn’t really all that large.

“Now when you say red light, do you mean hookers and shit like that?”

“Nope. Well, some stuff like that. Google does not and will never support sex crimes, despite rumors to the contrary. However, that doesn’t mean illegal things aren’t happening under our noses. Most buildings aren’t wired, after all. That’s just where most of the bars and clubs are. Now, your friend Fancy Pants probably won’t find anything he likes there, but I think you and Rainbow Dash will. Rarity is all over the place, though. Am I guessing correctly that Dash is a carpet muncher?”

“Yep.”

One part of the red light area lit up. “This is the lesbian bar. I know almost nothing about it other than where it is.” One of the orange areas lit up. “This is a manga place that Rarity might like.”

“Hell no. I’m not turning her into a shitty otaku weaboo, or whatever those… people… are called. Where’s a fashion place or something? She likes fashion.”

There was silence for a few long seconds before one of the green areas lit up. “I don’t know much about fashion.” Another orange place lit up. “And here’s something Fancy Pants might enjoy. When I find out who your guide is, I’ll ask him to show you to all these places. You probably won’t actually be allowed in them tonight, but this way you can find them easier later.”

“Awesome. Hey, are there any religious people here?”

“Not openly. This here’s a modern day Rapture.” I didn’t expect to hear a Bioshock reference this far into the future, but okay. “You’ll be an oddity, but you won’t be worshipped. Expect a lot of attention on you and your friends. Mostly your friends. Some of the little ones don’t know much about horses and might think a petting zoo came to town.”

“That’s… gonna be kinda awkward. But it’s also going to be hilarious. I assume everyone has been warned about us already?”

“Yeah. Still, kids will be kids.”

“Where can I go to get better fitted clothes?”

“Don’t worry about that. The boss is sending a tailor or something to measure you for some clothes tomorrow.”

“You guys keep referring to a boss. Who is he?”

“Oh, just the guy that manages the day-to-day affairs of the bunker. You’ll probably never meet him.”

I shrugged before thinking of something. “Hey, what’s this place even called? I keep hearing people say the bunker and shit like that, but never an actual name.”

He groaned. “You don’t want to know.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

“You know how a duplex has two families?” I groaned, knowing what was coming. “Yeah. You’re in the Googleplex.”

“I hate you so much.”

“To be fair, that was the name of their headquarters before they built this place. They just saw a different use for the name and here we are.”

I sighed, massaging my temple. “So what can I do for an hour?” I asked, looking back to the map.

“I dunno. Rarity’s watching Cowboy Bebop, Fancy Pants is reading some book I opened for him, and Dash is… Good lord, she’s flexible. I should demand a higher pay for this shit.”

“Hm… I don’t suppose it’s possible to put her camera to my computer screen, is there?”

“Dude, that’s sick.”

“Just checking. I’m going to fiddle with my gun, if you know what I mean.”

“Ugh…”

I grinned and walked over to where I left my rifle, trying to remember all the instructions to disassemble it. I had it broken down soon enough. I expected I still had a few days before I needed to start worrying about getting pulled away from the world by the spell wearing off, but I was going to take as few chances as possible. My plan was to get some bags from town to keep the supplies I got on me at all times. That way, even if I did get pulled from the world, I would hopefully still have the important stuff on me.

Until then, I wasn’t going to have the rifle in any kind of usable state. I didn’t want to risk it. When I finished breaking it apart, I started organizing files in my laptop and was at that until I got a knock at my door.

I closed the laptop and was about to get it when it opened anyway. “You ready?” an irate sounding Jessica asked.

I internally sighed and got to my feet. “Yeah. I’ll get the others.”

The intercom turned on and Ryan said, “Got you covered.” A few seconds later, I heard some of the other doors open as I walked to the hall. Jessica went out of her way to make sure she was as far from me as possible.

Dash was the first out, of course. I could tell from her damp-looking coat that she had just gotten out of the shower. Or at least, I was hoping it was a shower; if she got that sweaty, there was a problem. Fancy Pants and Rarity didn’t take much longer.

“So we’re finally going to the city?” Dash asked, excited.

“Yes,” Jessica snapped. “Now come on.” She started stalking down the hall to the elevators.

“It was just a question,” Dash muttered, falling in next to me as we followed her.

“Well at least we’re finally getting out of these cramped rooms,” Rarity happily said, joining the line behind miss bitchypants. “Even with all the new things to watch, it has been getting somewhat lonely.”

None of us graced that with an answer. In fact, the silence pretty much lasted until the elevator dropped us off on one of the higher floors.

“This is the highest point of the city,” Jessica told us, sounding less unhappy than before. “It’s not really a city, as that would be rather inefficient. The designers tried to maximize blah blah, let’s just go.” She led us to a glass railing and nodded her head down. “There it is. There aren’t any shops on the top floor, as this is mostly just used for moving around.”

The three ponies had to stand on their hind legs to look down. All four of us were staring at the sight in wonderment.

“Now I’m really mad my wings don’t work,” Dash whispered.

Jessica snorted. “You couldn’t fly through here if you wanted to.” She put a hand on the railing and vaulted over it. All of us jerked and gasped in surprise, only to find her standing there and bouncing up and down slightly. “Very fine, see-through netting makes sure that anyone that does manage to fall over the railing will be fine.” She casually jumped back over the railing. “I don’t suggest trying to walk on it, though. Now let’s go down a floor.”

When we got onto the elevator, she explained that we weren’t supposed to go into any stores or anything like that. Turns out most of them were still closed.

“I’m surprised we don’t have the tech to get robots to run everything,” I said.

“We do,” she answered as the elevators opened. “But as it turns out, people get very bored when they don’t work. Most of the hard stuff is done by robots and most of the customer service is done by people.”

“What about… Oh hell.” We stepped off the elevator and into a ton of stares. They ranged from Jessica’s uniform to my wings and hair to the three ponies—even though Dash was the most noticeable, the other two still had horns.

I was used to stares from ponies. I was used to the whispers from a number of different races. But seeing that look on my own people… Fuck, man. I felt my wings slowly folding as tightly against my back as I could get them.

Surprisingly, Jessica came to our rescue. “Move along, people. We already told you about them.”

It was either her tone or the fact that she had moved her rifle to her hands in the elevator and was caressing it like she would a child, but either way, the people slowly continued moving again. Not that there were many of them, as I took a second to look.

She dropped her rifle and let the sling hold it up as she turned back to us. “Why my dad is making you keep those ugly things out, I will never understand,” she said, glaring at my wings. “At least you could be partially accepted down here…” Her eyes moved to mine. “Assuming you were wearing contacts. Now let’s go.”

I was somewhat surprised to hear anything even halfway nice coming out of her mouth. However, some people apparently pay more attention to other things. “Did you just call his wings ugly?” Dash asked somewhat hotly.

I didn’t like where this was going one little bit. “Dash, chill.”

“Yes, I did,” Jessica answered with a grin.

“Dash, don’t.” She opened her mouth to say something, but I cut her off. “I swear to God, I will hurt you if you say a word.” She huffed and closed her mouth, looking away. Jessica smirked and kept walking. I grabbed one of Dash’s ears and bent in to whisper, “She’s trying to piss us off so we get banned from the city. Deal with her for an hour or two and that will be that.”

She snorted as Jessica said, “Don’t fall behind!” We started leisurely catching up to the group that honestly didn’t get all that far ahead of us. Rarity and Fancy Pants were doing the whole tourist thing, looking at everything they could. Dash spent most of her time glaring at Jessica. I was tempted to fuck with her by asking if she liked what she saw, but I wasn’t about to go there.

And of course, all the people stared at us as we walked.

 

I don’t feel like describing the entire city. Needless to say, it was fucking awesome. Think Mall of America, if you’ve ever been there. Of course, there was a lot less in the way of mindless consumerism in this place, since it was populated by survivalists, but it was still pretty bad.

When we got back on the elevator to go down, a few hours had passed. The ponies were rather excited to be spending time in the city on the next day. I pointed out what Ryan had said were good spots for them, though I intended to drop them off personally when the time came.

“So what are we gonna do about money?” I asked as Jessica led us back to our rooms.

“You’ll be given cards tomorrow,” she said. “Spending limit of a thousand credits a week. More than anyone given free room and board should need.”

“I assume they work the same as a debit card?”

“Yes, minus the annoying pin number business. The cashiers will get a special message when they swipe the cards. If it isn’t one of you four using them, there will be problems.”

“What happens if we go over the limit on accident?”

“The cards will stop working if you hit the limit. I don’t know what the prices are compared to what they were. I know a typical t-shirt costs twenty credits, so you can do the math yourself.”

“Good enough.” We finally got to our rooms. “Thanks for showing us around.”

She huffed and said, “No problem.” She almost sounded disappointed.

I really didn’t want her to hate me and I kind of wanted to talk to her alone, but I didn’t know how to invite her inside my room without sounding like a fucking pervert. I’m bad at dealing with people that hate me, as it turns out.

Either way, she left the four of us there.

“I can’t wait to learn more about human fashion!” Rarity happily said, not that any of us cared.

“And I can’t wait to see the bars!” Dash added. “I bet they’re livelier than most Equestrian ones!”

“And I quite want to see the Gentleman’s Club,” Fancy said. “I wonder if they’ll let me in…”

I just grunted and walked into my room, trying to get the horrible feeling out of my gut.

A minute later, Dash followed me in and found me on the bed, staring at the ceiling. She kicked the door shut and walked over. “What’s wrong, Nav?”

“That Doctor Anonymous is me, Dash. That’s my life if things had been different. And Jessica is—or could have been—my daughter. But she wants nothing to do with me. I get that she doesn’t want two fathers or whatever, but why would she be so bitchy about it? And did you see the stares we were all getting? I’m used to being watched and getting stared at by ponies or all the other races, but my own people? It hurts. A lot. I fucking hate these wings, Dash… Is it really too much to ask to be allowed to pretend to be normal for just one fucking day?”

“If miss crabbypants doesn’t want to hang out, it’s her loss, dude. And so what if she doesn’t like you? You have Taya. She seems like a much better daughter.” She hopped on the bed and grabbed one of my wings, laying it out on the bed, and lying down on it. “And if the others don’t like your wings, they don’t know what they’re missing. These things are awesome.” She lifted one of hers to my face and brushed my cheek. “See that? Soft enough to sleep on.”

Dash is really, really bad at pep talks… But having someone here to even try is good enough, I suppose. “Whatever. You made your point well enough. Now, I’m going to bed.”

“Cool.” She didn’t move.

“So…”

“Psh, I’m not going anywhere. I told you, soft enough to sleep on.”

I couldn’t help a smile. “Goodnight then, Dashie.”

“Don’t make me kick you.”

Of course, the light was still on, but whoever was manning the cameras was kind enough to turn it off for us. We drifted off quietly.

 
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