Walker National Psychiatric Hospital
Case Reports – Patients EoH1-9
Reporting Physician: Dr. Jonathan K. Spires
File 30: The Difference Between Dreams and Reality – Section 2
All noted names of the patients connected to a certain franchise are properties of their original owners, used without permission for non-profit reasons.
Author's Note: I've actually had this chapter in mind long before I knew the fanfiction Asylum ever existed. So this chapter is NOT a reference to that fanfic. Just letting everyone know.
Twilight Sparkle yawned as she woke up, frowning as she looked around her padded cell. She wasn't in a straight jacket anymore, but she was still stuck in... apparently, in an insane asylum alongside everyone else in Ponyville (Porterville?), along with a few prominent people from Canterlot and Manehattan. Her memories of her life as a unicorn and then an alicorn were choppy, and she was seeing them as if she was watching a children's cartoon. Come to think of it, all those bright colors really don't seem that realistic... she thought absently.
The memories of her human life, however, were steadily returning. She remembered meeting Pinkie Pie (Patricia?) first, the cake shop where she worked the first place she visited in town when she moved there, still pregnant with Spike. The gregarious party planner had immediately taken a liking to Twilight, offering to give her a baby shower then and there, Twilight meeting her other seven friends soon after.
Twilight smiled a little. Pinkie, no matter the form, always did love parties...
She stretched, standing up and looking around. She had surprisingly slept rather well, her cell's padding quite comfortable. She looked across the hall, seeing Pinkie Pie yawning and waking up herself. She smiled warmly at her friend, placing her hand on the shatterproof glass door. Pinkie Pie smiled when she noticed her, doing the same.
She sighed wearily. "So now what?" she said thoughtfully. There was nothing to do in her room except wait and watch the shadows from her window creep across the floor.
A moment later, however, the door opened. Her guard looked in, saying, "Ms. Sparks? Dr. Adrian wants you all at breakfast, so if you'll follow us please?"
Twilight nodded, her stomach rumbling. "Breakfast would be good," she said.
The guard nodded. "Also, couple things. First, Dr. Adrian has requested that you refer to each other ONLY by your human names from now on," he said.
Twilight nodded. "That makes sense. If we're supposed to be recovering from believing we're ponies, using our 'real' names only would work out well in reinforcing that."
The guard shrugged. "Whatever. I don't make the calls on that, I just relay the instructions. Also, second thing, Ms. Beatrix Lamont and Colonel Harold Brighton will not be joining you," he said.
"Trixie?" Twilight said, shaking her head and correcting herself. "I mean, Beatrix? And Colonel Brighton... that's Harbinger, right?"
The guard nodded.
Twilight frowned. "Why won't they be joining us?" she asked.
The guard shrugged. "Something about their recovery not being as far along as yours is," he said. "Like I said, I just relay what I'm told."
Twilight frowned again, looking across the hall and hearing Pinkie's guard tell her something similar. "Will we be able to see Beatrix?" she asked. "She's my friend, and I want to make sure she's okay..."
"I don't know," the guard said. "It can probably be arranged, but you'll have to talk to Dr. Adrian, or whomever's supervising Ms. Lamont's therapy."
Twilight sighed. "To breakfast then, I guess," she said.
The guard nodded, and motioned for her to follow. "You'll all be taken to the showers afterward," she heard Pinkie Pie's guard say. "And don't worry, it'll only be female guards in there."
"Must be hard for you to imagine," Pinkie teased. "All those pretty naked women and you don't even get to glance at them."
"You've no idea..." Pinkie's guard muttered. Twilight's guard glared at him and smacked him across the back of his helmet. Pinkie giggled, Twilight smiling and shaking her head.
"So how'd you sleep, Pin... Patty?" Twilight asked, looking over to Pinkie.
"Pretty well! Who knew the floors of a crazy room would be so comfortable?" Pinkie said, smiling. Although to Twilight's eyes, the smile seemed very forced. "Ooh! Hey, Dr. Adrian's letting me set up a party for everyone! To celebrate the start of our recovery! You gonna come, Twi... Trish?"
Twilight grinned. "Wouldn't miss it," she said.
Pinkie grinned, turning to the two guards. She hopped up on her guard's back, wrapping her arms around his shoulder in a hug. The guard flinched, briefly looking like he was about to throw her, but stopped himself. Pinkie didn't notice. "You're invited too!" she said. "But you gotta ditch those helmets. You look like the meaniepants faceless bad guys from a cartoon!"
"Dr. Adrian's idea," said Twilight's guard. "Facial recognition software inside each helmet to prevent people from using our uniforms as a disguise. Arming and armoring us the way he did is the only thing he's done that I feel is practical..."
Twilight frowned. "How do you figure?"
Twilight's guard sighed. "No offense ma'am, but several of you are very physically strong, especially that giant of a mother Felicia Shire has," he said. "That makes you very dangerous. Dr. Adrian spared no expense on everyone's comfort, which is okay I suppose..." He sighed. "I just wish we had something with a bit more stopping power than the tranq rifles."
"You'll have to forgive Marshall," said Pinkie's guard. "He was a guard at another asylum, one not as well equipped. There was a patient riot, some of the criminally insane ones breaking out. One of them nearly ripped his guts out."
Pinkie gasped, going over to hug Marshall. "But you're okay now, right?" she asked, glancing up at him worriedly.
Ken squirmed, visibly uncomfortable. "I'm fine," he said. "Please don't touch me..."
Pinkie backed off, nodding. Twilight gave him a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry... A friend of mine went through the same thing..."
Pinkie's guard nodded. "I heard of that... President Washington... although she was just Senator Washington at the time... arranged for a criminal named David Kord to be paroled and put into the care of you and your friends. It was working out for a while, he even helped you beat a terrorist named Timothy Reks, but then he relapsed and nearly killed Ms. Shire, turning himself in afterward..."
Twilight blinked at the name 'Timothy Reks,' shuddering involuntarily. She staggered, falling to her knees.
Pinkie immediately was at her side, holding her upright. "Trisha? What's wrong?" she asked.
"I... I don't know... I just... hearing that name... I just feel so TERRIFIED..." she said, tears streaming down her face. Pinkie hugged her tightly.
Ken smacked Pinkie's guard again. "Smooth, Paul..." he muttered.
"I didn't know hearing his name would be a trigger!" Paul protested.
"You know what he did," Marshall said, glaring at him. "You should have realized it would be!"
"It... It's okay..." Twilight said, smiling weakly. "It just caught me off-guard..."
Pinkie helped Twilight to her feet, the two of them heading into the main dining area. Rarity, Applejack, and the others, save for Trixie, joined them several moments later. They all sat down at the same table, looking at each other nervously. Their features seemed to alien to the eight of them... and yet so strangely familiar. The curve of the faces, the eyes, the hair... it was the wrong colors (was it?) for several of them, but the styles at least looked right.
"So..." Pinkie said. "I guess... I guess we should probably talk with each other?"
Rainbow Dash nodded, glancing over at the doors to the kitchen which swung open, letting workers pushing carts full of food trays out. "Yeah..." she said. "I guess so..."
"All well and good," Zecora said, mildly annoyed that she seemed to be the oldest one there (and mad at herself for being annoyed by it), "but does anyone have an idea of what to talk about?"
"...Maybe what's different in our human lives as opposed to our pony ones?" Twilight offered. "I've been having memories slowly coming back to me ever since we woke up."
The others nodded, save for Rarity, who just had a sullen, haunted look on her face, hugging herself tightly. "Differences? Fine. Here's a difference for you," she said bitterly. "I wake up from a happy life as a unicorn with my sister and parents, only to find that Sweetie... Selena..." She shook her head. "WHATEVER! My sister and I are orphans, thanks to a car crash that killed my parents. Forgive me, my dears, if I'm somewhat reluctant to talk about 'what I remember.'"
"Oh geez, Rachel..." Rainbow Dash said softly.
"I'm so sorry..." Pinkie Pie said, hugging her tightly. The group of them barely noticed when food trays were placed in front of them.
Applejack just looked uncomfortable, not saying anything. Rarity stared at her for a moment, and chuckled, shaking her head. "Yours are alive, aren't they?"
Applejack just nodded, smiling weakly. "S-Sorry..." she said. The others traded surprised looks at this, Rarity forcing a grin on her face.
"Abby, darling, don't EVER apologize for having a little happiness in your life," Rarity said, sighing. "I'd love to meet them someday, if I get the chance."
"Dr. Adrian said they'd be by today," Applejack said, fidgeting nervously in her seat.
Rarity smiled. "That's wonderful, darling," she said.
The tension was broken a little, and the girls all laughed, noticing their food for the first time and starting to eat. They flinched a little at the sausage and bacon on the plates with the waffles, but after sampling it began to eat it eagerly, Rainbow Dash in particular savoring the bacon.
"Well," Rarity said, "if nothing else, I have a job similar to the one I had in the dream world, having found some success with my own fashion lines. So that's a comfortable bit of familiarity."
Applejack nodded. "Pretty much the same for me. Ah still work on the farm, which has the same name as the one in the show, believe it or not," she said. "Although ah don't do any 'applebucking.'" She looked down at her muscular legs in disgust. "Apparently that don't work too good in real life. Shame."
Twilight chuckled. "Now that I think of it, it does seem a little silly to just kick a tree to get apples out of it," she said.
Applejack just harrumphed, smirking. "All right, missy, what's your 'real' life like?" she said.
"Well..." Twilight said, looking over to where Spike was eating breakfast with the former Cutie Mark Crusaders. "Spike's apparently my son..."
Rainbow Dash grinned a little. "So I'm not the only one who woke up to motherhood," she said.
Twilight blinked, and then grinned. "Skeeter?"
Rainbow Dash smiled warmly. "Yeah... And the more I think about it, the more I like it. The more I remember. Birthday parties, little moments from when she was growing up..."
Twilight nodded. "Reading his first book..."
"Riding her first scooter..." Rainbow Dash added, smiling.
Both women sighed wistfully, the other girls giggling.
"Well..." Pinkie Pie said. "I'm apparently a party planner that works with the Cak... I mean, the Carters. Mr. Carter is my mother's brother, so when I left the farm to find work in town, the Carters took me in. I pretty much became the daughter that... that Mrs. Carter couldn't have..." She shook her head. "Wow, that was too depressing a way to tell it. I need to work on this."
Rainbow Dash chuckled. "Yeah. Element of Laughter or not, you're still one of the funniest people I know, Patty," she said. "THAT I remember definitely."
Pinkie Pie giggled. "So what's your 'real life?'"
"Oh no," Rainbow Dash said. "I asked Trisha first, she has to tell us."
Twilight chuckled. "Well... all right, I suppose so..." she said, taking a bite of her pancakes. "I moved to Porterville while I was still pregnant with Spike. President Celeste was my teacher before she got into politics, and I helped her out on several campaigns, including getting her elected President. I mainly work as the town's head librarian..." She trailed off as a new thought occurred to her. "...Which is where the nine of us usually meet."
The eight young women frowned, remembering that their ninth, Trixie, wasn't with them.
"I hope she's okay..." Fluttershy said softly.
"Me too..." Twilight said softly.
"Could anyone get anything out of the guards as to why she wasn't being let out of her cell with the rest of us?" Derpy asked.
"I did try to convince my guard to speak," Zecora said. "All he would say is that Dr. Adrian felt she wasn't as far along in her recovery as we are. That she still believed she was a pony, and trapped in an illusion."
"Do you think she's wrong?" said a voice from behind the group. The eight women turned, startled, noticing Chrysalis standing behind them for the first time.
"How long have you been there?" Twilight asked, glaring at her, the dark-skinned woman smirking at Twilight as she held her empty food tray.
"Long enough to hear what you said about Trixie... It's interesting, as this supports some of my own feelings..." Chrysalis said.
Pinkie Pie frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Well..." Chrysalis said. "It appears that in my 'real' life I'm an actress, and a famous one. But this whole setup... it reminds me too much of what I did to your brother before his wedding to Cadence. Candace." She shook her head. "Whichever." She thought for a moment, and added, "And King Sombra, from what I heard, was capable of such powerful illusions as well."
Chrysalis shrugged, and went to return her tray, leaving eight women conflicted about their returning memories. If they were their actual memories, then their stay here was a good thing. Something that would help them gain their lives back.
But Twilight still remembered the doorway. She remembered how real that illusion seemed, the hatred in her mentor's eyes as she dismissed her from her service. The pain in that dismissal. If Spike hadn't gotten her out of it...
...but that wasn't real. That was the show.
The eight of them ate breakfast, trying to break the tension by talking about their lives. Pinkie Pie was apparently a party planner in real life, working for the Cakes... or rather, the Carters. And surprisingly, Dr. Adrian was allowing her to plan a party for tonight, to celebrate their recovery.
It was mutually agreed that they needed something to take their minds off of the mess they were in, at least for tonight.
Rarity and Applejack, as expected, had jobs that matched their pony professions due to how practical they were. Rainbow Dash (who surprised everyone by admitting she had severe acrophobia) was a meteorologist, regarded as one of the most talented in the country. Zecora was a pharmacist, as well as an herbal remedy specialist. Fluttershy was a veterinarian, which was also not a surprise in the slightest. Derpy was actually a mail carrier, and also made muffins for the Carters from time to time.
"Maybe we latched onto the characters because of their relationships to our own jobs?" Derpy asked.
"It's possible..." Rarity said. "I seem to remember studying a little psychology as a way of monitoring fashion trends and people's reactions to them. It's possible that our minds associated the characters with the
"The fan interpretations, maybe..." Rainbow Dash said. "No offense, Deidra, but if I'm remembering this right, Deidra's personality was made up entirely by the fans."
"Great," Derpy said, rolling her eyes, as memories of the cartoon character's 'origins' appeared in her head. "You all get characters with speaking lines, and I get the animation glitch that became a memetic heroine."
Laughter was shared amongst the group at that, the eight of them becoming more relaxed. Pinkie excused herself after a few minutes, wanting to talk to the Cakes about tonight's party. There was some yelling from that end of the room at first, Mr. Cake visibly angry that Pinkie would suggest having a party after everything that had happened, after finding out the children they had raised weren't even real. But Mrs. Cake talked him down, Mr. Cake eventually agreeing to the party. The three of them sat down and began to talk, eventually calling over Vinyl Scratch, who, while visibly shaken by everything, agreed to help with the party as well. Dr. Adrian, who had been coming over when Mr. Cake started yelling, sighed in relief and walked away.
Fluttershy smiled happily at the group as they planned tonight's party. "I'm glad things are starting to work out," she said.
"Me too," Rainbow Dash said. "We need a little happiness right now, and Patricia's parties are always awesome."
Fluttershy nodded. "Is everyone done eating? I can take your trays in, if that's okay," she said.
"Nah, we can get it," Derpy said.
Fluttershy smiled. "Really, I don't mind at all," she said.
Twilight frowned. "If you're sure..."
Fluttershy giggled. "It's such a little thing," she said. "We all have to help each other now."
The others smiled warmly, letting Fluttershy gather the trays and take them back to the kitchen. She set them on the washtable, and started to leave, when a booming declaration startled her, making her yip.
"ALL OF YOU ARE STUPID!" thundered a deep bass voice.
Fluttershy patted her chest, shaking her head. She started to leave, but for some reason the voice seemed familiar. Curiously, she followed the sound of the thunder, coming upon a massive, muscular, bald-headed man.
"Who taught you babies how to cook?!" the massive man demanded, his Russian accent thick. "You do NOT use vanilla cream sauce with HAM AND EGGS! Just because we are in an institution doesn't mean that the inmates have to EAT like they are in one!"
The cooks, cowed by the man's ferocity, nodded and disposed of the offending sauce. Fluttershy giggled softly. Normally, she'd be intimidated by such a large man, but something about his presence felt... oddly comforting. The huge man turned, shaking his head, and noticed Fluttershy.
"Oh! Greetings little pony person! I am Mikhail Aleksi Borisovitch. But my friends call me Misha," he said.
Fluttershy smiled warmly. "I'm... I guess I'm Felicia Shire," she said. "We remembered who we all were last night."
"Ah, I heard that!" Misha said, nodding. "Well, is pretty name. But I think Fluttershy is prettier. Fits how pretty you are."
Felicia blushed, squirming a little.
Misha laughed. "Do not get wrong idea," he said. "Misha prefers cute men to cute women. I was simply complimenting your looks."
Felicia relaxed a little, grinning, although some part of her felt oddly disappointed. "Thank you, Mr. Borisovitch," she said.
Misha chuckled. "As I said, my friends call me Misha. And I have a feeling that we will be good friends, Fluttershy," he said.
Fluttershy smiled warmly. "I hope so. But... shouldn't you be using my real name?" she asked.
Misha snorted. "Fluttershy is prettier. I will use real name around doctors, but when is just us, I call you by name I prefer."
Fluttershy giggled. "Okay then. I should probably be getting back, my friends are expecting me."
Misha nodded, waving. "Good luck on recovering from being crazy, Fluttershy!" he said, making Fluttershy giggle again as she skipped away.
"We were wondering what was keeping you," Rainbow Dash teased. "Find a handsome stud to flirt with?"
"Yes, a real beefcake too. But unfortunately he's into guys," Fluttershy said before she could stop herself, her hands going to her mouth and she blushed brightly. "S-S-Sorry, I didn't..."
The others laughed, Derpy hugging her. "It's okay," she said. "I'm glad you're showing an interest in guys, even if the one you picked at first was also interested in them. Who was it?"
"The head cook, Misha," Fluttershy said, smiling. "He's big and loud, and looks scary, but he's really nice!" She paused briefly, remembering something she saw in the kitchen.
Twilight was the first to notice the pause. "What is it?" she asked.
"It's nothing," Fluttershy said, shaking her head gently. But now that she thought about it, didn't the cooks all look EXACTLY alike save for Misha himself? She shook her head, dismissing the thought for now.
Derpy walked into Dr. Adrian's office, smiling worriedly. A guard followed behind her, his face in a perpetual scowl. "Is there anything wrong, Doctor?" she asked.
"No, Deidra," Dr. Adrian said, smiling. "Something's actually quite right for once."
Derpy gave him a confused look. Dr. Adrian grinned. "You mentioned that you had vague memories of a soldier," he said, standing up and going to the wide curtain at the back of his office. He pulled it aside, revealing Solomon, who smiled nervously.
Dr. Adrian smirked. "Does this ring any bells?"
Derpy stared at Solomon a long time, her eyes steadily widening. "You... Ohmigosh... SOLLY!" she cried, recognizing him (sort of), and hugging him tightly. Solomon laughed in relief, hugging her to his powerful frame.
"It's okay, honey. I'm home now, and I'll never leave you again. I'm gonna take a job here in the asylum and be with you every step of the way," Solomon said.
"Oh Solly... I've missed you so much..." Derpy said, clinging to him, tears of joy streaming down her face.
"I love you so much," Solomon said. "And I swear, on everything I am, that I'll help you and the girls get out of here."
Dr. Adrian quirked an eyebrow. Interesting choice of words, he thought, dismissing it for now.
Rarity looked herself over in the mirror. She picked at her curls, which were arranged in a manner similar to the pony she took her name from, and debated going for a new look. After a few moments internal debate, she shook her head, deciding against it. She could try later, but her curls were comfortable and familiar.
Applejack's parents would be here soon, and she wanted to meet them with the rest of the Apple family. She winced, feeling a stab of jealousy that Applejack had her parents and she didn't, but she quickly suppressed it. Applejack had insisted, Rarity feeling a fluttering in her heart as Applejack looked into her eyes.
Part of her remembered dating Applejack regularly, of being intimate with her. Was that real, or just something from the show? Maybe a fanfiction, she didn't see a lesbian relationship being let into a children's program about magical talking ponies...
She shook her head, chuckling. It sounded so silly when she said it aloud.
But at any rate, she had felt something when Applejack had taken her hands in her own and asked her to be there. Maybe... Maybe they were in a relationship. She sighed. It was something to hold onto, at least.
And then the lights went out in the bathroom.
"Oh come on!" she snapped. She looked outside, finding a short man with a southern accent and a hard hat working with a distressingly beautiful woman with diamond-white hair. Her guard was there, a young woman named Lee, standing off to one side and watching with amusement as the two technicians worked the panel.
"Jen? Honey? That's not how you correct the problem," the short man in the hard hat said.
The beautiful woman grinned weakly, staring at the wires in the opened panel. "Sorry Dad," she said. "I guess I crossed the wrong wires."
Rarity shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. "May I ask why you turned the lights off in the bathroom?" she asked.
Jen blinked and facepalmed, groaning. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that..."
"Sorry ma'am," the male technician said, tipping his hat to her. "Mah daughter's still new at this job, ah'm teaching her the ropes. We'll get it fixed right quick. Hope we didn't catch you in a compromising position."
Rarity chuckled. The little Texan was quite the charmer. "No, I was simply debating changing hairstyles," she said. "What were you trying to do?"
"There's some glitches in the security system," the male technician said. "The camera systems around here weren't working. We were trying to find the problem when Jen crossed the wrong wires." He blinked, and said, "Where are my manners? Ah'm Dell Conagher, and this here's my daughter Jennifer."
"Please to meet you," Jennifer said, smiling.
"Rachel Diamant," Rarity said, chuckling weakly and adding, "or so they tell me at least."
"Rachel is one of the ones who thought they were ponies for so long," Lee explained.
Dell hmmed, surprised. "Well, how about that?" he said. "Y'all are a bit famous, ain'tcha?"
"I'd rather be famed for my dress designs, not my insanity," Rarity said, frowning.
Dell winced. "My apologies, ma'am," he said as he went to correct the problem with the wires. "Ah just remembered that story."
Rarity nodded, glancing at Jen again. The woman's beauty was stunning, her eyes a ghostly white. It reminded her... of the woman who saved her from the... crusher? Car wreck? For some reason two versions of the same event were overlapping. She shook her head.
"You okay, Miss Diamant?" Jen asked, frowning.
Rarity shook her head. "I really don't know..." she admitted. "Have we met before, Miss Jen? I swear I've encountered you somewhere..."
Jen smiled. "I'd remember meeting someone as pretty as you," she said, shaking her head.
Rarity blushed. "You're too kind, darling," she said.
Dell nodded. "Fixed it," he said. "Lights should work in the bathroom again. As for the security cameras... Yeah, we need some new parts to replace it for this one."
Lee grumbled. "Fuck," she said. "All right, I'll talk to Dr. Adrian."
Dell nodded, and offered his hand to Rarity. She shook it, smiling, and Dell said, "Well, ah hope that y'all recover and get to go home, Ms. Diamant."
Dell and Jen left, Jen waving goodbye. Rarity lowered her arm... and paused.
Slowly, she flexed and unflex her arm. The flesh felt real... but every time she moved her arm, she heard gears grinding. FELT gears grinding.
"Anything wrong?" Lee asked.
I had a prosthetic in the pony world, she remembered. I lost my arm and had it replaced. She felt her arm. The flesh felt normal... but every time she moved that arm, she heard the soft sound of metal moving.
Applejack, Apple Bloom, Granny Smith, and Big Macintosh all waited in the same room. They were fidgeting nervously, unsure of what to think. For years, they had thought that George and Mary Jane were dead. But to hear that they were alive...
Apple Bloom barely remembered her parents, the two of them having 'died' while young. Big Macintosh and Applejack had the strongest connection to them, and were both terrified about what they might see. And Granny Smith... she just didn't know what to make of all this. She still wasn't sure if she was 'awake' or not. Nothing made sense...
Rarity sat nearby, still occasionally flexing her arm, still hearing the gears. She was still confused, but right now she was focusing on Applejack's happiness.
"Thank you for comin', Rachel," Applejack said, coming over and sitting with her. "Ah just... Ah'd just feel better with you here with me..."
"Of course, Abby dear," Rarity said, hugging her. "This is a tense time for you and your family."
Applejack smiled, but then all four Apples jumped as the door opened. Two people stood in the doorway, a tall, muscular man that looked like an older version of Big Macintosh, and a woman with rough, well-worn features.
The four Apples stared at them, eyes wide. Memories, unbidden, flew through the four of them, memories of love, of family...
A slow smile spread over Apple Bloom's face as she approached the two figures, who were watching them with cautious hope. Apple Bloom hugged Mary Jane, who began laughing in relief.
George removed the stetson from his head, a sigh of relief escaping him. "You... You can see us?"
Big Macintosh nodded. "Eeyup," he said softly, his voice choked with conflicting emotions.
"Mah boy," Mary Jane said, tears flowing down her face as she hugged Apple Bloom tightly. "Always so verbose."
That brought some giggles to the lot of them, breaking a little of the tension, Big Macintosh and Applejack going over to greet their parents. Granny Smith still seem confused, though. "Ah... Ah just can't believe it... Ah still remember the chimera attack..."
George smiled. "It's okay, Granny. It weren't real," he said. "You'll remember in time."
Mary Jane nodded, tears in her eyes as she hugged Applejack. "We've got our family back. At long last, we've got our family back..."
Rarity, who had been watching this with growing discomfort, stood up and started to leave. "Mmmmaybe I should go," she said. "This is more of a family thing, and..."
"Wait," George said, placing his stetson hat on Applejack's head as he went over to Rarity. "Miss Diamant, please stay."
"...If you are certain?" she said, almost hopefully.
George nodded. "You probably don't remember, but ah said some mighty hurtful things t'you before..." he hesitated, sighing. The grief evident in his face made him look so old. "Well... before you all went t'Ponyville, for lack of a better term. When mah daughter came out t'me, said she was in love with another woman... Ah was raised conservative, raised a Christian. Hearing that offended mah every sensibility. Ah said some hateful, hurtful things, venomous things, and because of that, God took mah children and my mama from me. Ah know now that ah was wrong. Ah shouldn't have gotten in the way of you two."
Rarity blushed slightly. "Really, darling, it's all right," she said softly. She could tell this confession was hard for him...
George chuckled. "Y'know ah actually started watchin' the show a little after y'all went under? You really as generous as that there unicorn, forgivin' an old fool like me," he said, taking Rarity's hand and guiding her over to Applejack. He placed Rarity's hand in his daughter's smiling. "Whatever happens, you know ah was wrong. And ah won't get in the way of you two ever again. You're a quality woman, Ms. Diamant. And you both have mah blessing. And if'n y'all want to get married, then ah'll happily welcome you into the family."
Rarity and Applejack both smiled at each other, blushing.
George and Mary Jane left the room, saying their temporary goodbyes. As they left the room, they passed a dark-skinned man with a goatee, dressed in orderly robes. He was sweeping the halls with a large pushbroom, humming an old Scottish hymn. As they got closer, they noticed he had only one eye, and in one pocket was a flask, the two of them knowing instantly that it was filled with scrumpy.
The two of them paused as he passed them, closing their eyes. The janitor paused, looking at them curiously, a pleasant smile on his face.
"Can I help ye?" he asked.
"Tavish DeGroot," said George. The janitor flinched, an alarmed look crossing his face he stumbled, stepping back and moving an arm behind his back, as if to reach for a gun.
"Be at peace, BLU Demoman," said Mary Jane, alarming Tavish even further. "We know who you are, and what you are here to do."
"But Dr. Adrian does not. Nor will he find out from us," said George.
"We were made to keep them here," Mary Jane said. "But we were made too well."
"We truly love them..." George said softly. "As if they truly were our family."
"We will not stop you," said Mary Jane.
"We will not impede you," George said.
"Save them. Save them all," the two said in perfect unison, moving on in perfect synchronization.
Tavish stared at the two as they left, disappearing around a corner. As he did, Applejack came out of the room, a happy smile on her face. Tavish shook his head, deciding to focus on his job. "And a fine afternoon to ye, lass! Ye seem quite happy!"
"Ah just... I've always dreamed of seeing mah parents again..." she said, shaking her head. "And now... It's all happening so fast..." She giggled.
Tavish smiled sadly. "Aye. Dreams are nice..." he said. "But they're just that. Dreams."
Applejack stared at him in confusion. "What the heck do y'mean by that?"
Tavish shook his head, taking a sip from his flask. "Och, dinnae pay any attention te old Tavish DeGroot, lass. I'm just an old drunk with old ideas..." he said, calmly moving down the hallway, sweeping up dust with his pushbroom. Applejack stared after him, trying to figure out what he meant, when Rarity came out, hugging her from behind and kissing her on the cheek.
"That went quite well, I think," Rarity said, smiling. Applejack nodded, but when Rarity moved her arm away, she blinked.
"Rachel? Can y'all move your arm again real quick?" Applejack asked, confused.
Rarity's eyes widened as she realized what Applejack meant. She moved her right arm, both of them hearing the gears moving inside it. "So you can hear it too..." she said softly.
"What the hay's goin' on?" Applejack said, baffled.
Down the hall, out of earshot of the two women and away from security cameras, Tavish spoke out loud, speaking to apparently nothing.
"Scrumpy Knight te David Tennant. We've apparently got allies in here," Tavish said. "The phantoms imitating Applejack's parents figured me out and said they'd stay out of our way."
"Applejack's parents, you say?" said a vaguely British voice. "That's... actually, that's not uncommon. I've had creations made too realistically turn on their masters and help me before. Come back and I'll debrief you."
Tavish nodded, vanishing.
Later that evening...
Pinkie Pie giggled as she watched everyone dance and play games. It had taken a bit of doing, but she had managed to get everything she needed to have a party. And it all seemed to be going quite well, actually.
The Cakes were taking special pleasure in interacting with the children, serving them cake and punch. Their exquisite talent as bakers carried over to their human form. Twilight and Spike were sharing punch and cookies, sitting at a table and talking happily, while Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo (who looked both amazed and thrilled to learn that Rainbow Dash was her mother) danced the night away. Fluttershy sat in a corner with her parents, lovingly petting her pet rabbit. Barricade and TL Care both seemed content to just be with their daughter, although Barricade occasionally cast glances voer to Luna and Celestia. Applejack and Rarity were dancing together, the two of them becoming almost inappropriately intimate as the night wore on. (Pinkie was silently grateful that she wasn't allowed access to alcohol. She had an odd feeling that what little inhibitions Applejack and Rarity were showing now that they knew they were in love would have vanished completely if they were drunk.) Cadence and Shining Armor were making out behind one of the speakers, believing that no one could see them. Chrysalis just sat, sipping her punch, watching the two lovers with amusement. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, the latter depressed from finding out her parents were dead, stayed near the DJ table, helping Vinyl Scratch pick out music, the DJ fully in her element and looking relaxed. Zecora, visibly hesitant to interact with anything, mainly stayed near the snack bar, having developed a fondness for some of the French pastries that the Cakes had made, while Derpy and her daughters danced with Solomon. Several orderlies and nurses were dancing with the patients, enjoying the night, while Dr. Adrian stood on an upper balcony, watching with delight.
Pinkie giggled as she looked at Solomon. It had been wonderful to meet Derpy's fiancee. It meant that there was a little happiness in Derpy's life after all this, and it made her feel good to see her so joyful. She loved seeing her friends happy.
She glanced over to Luna and Celestia, frowning. Celestia, still in her straight jacket, whimpered softly, unwilling to leave her sister's side. Her eyes were wide open and staring, darting about at the slightest motion. Luna hugged Celestia tightly, gently stroking her fear-maddened older sister's hair as she looked around the room, worried for everyone. Several guards, both asylum guards and patients who had believed themselves to be royal guards standing near the two of them.
She wished she could do something to make Celestia happy. But whatever it was that was hurting Celestia seemed to be beyond her ability to cure. She sighed.
"Heyhey, no sighs," said a voice from behind her. Pinkie turned, seeing a slim orderly with an athletic build and a handsome face. "This is a party!" he said, smiling. "No sighs unless they're happy ones, like what those two doofuses who think they're completely hidden behind the sound-system are doing."
Pinkie giggled. "Sorry, sorry. Just thinking about things," she said.
The orderly nodded, stroking his chin. "Aaah, it's cool," he said. "Name's Donny Brooks. I'm one of the orderlies. You're the one that thought she was Pinkie Pie, right?"
Pinkie nodded, brushing a lock of hair out of her face. "Yepyep!" she said. "Although my real name is Patricia Parker, apparently."
Donny scoffed. "Meh. Sounds like a genderswapped Spider-Man," he said. "I'mma gonna stick with Pinkie when the Doc's not looking."
Pinkie blinked. "Spider-Man?"
"Comic book superhero," Donny said, shaking his head. "He's pretty cool. I'd tell you more about him later, I'm still on duty."
Pinkie frowned. "Awww, but you'll miss out on the party!" she protested. For some reason, she really wanted this guy around.
Donny chuckled. "Don't worry, Pinks," he said. "You'll see me again." With that, he walked out of the room, leaving Pinkie behind. She sighed again, smiling, and shrugged. She went to go get some punch, when she noticed her reflection in the glass of the window.
Before, her hair had been flat and straight. Now, though... "When did my hair puff out like that?" Pinkie said, confused at the now poofy hairdo she sported. The disturbingly familiar poofy hairdo...
The next day...
Rainbow Dash, her guard standing nearby, lay on the grounds of the asylum, staring up at the sky. She sighed wistfully. I would so love to fly again...
But as soon as the thought entered her head, the vertigo came on. Her stomach lurched and she shot upright, trying to calm her queasy gut before she sat down again. She sighed in frustration, remembering her cursed acrophobia, knowing she could never bring herself to go into the air again.
She looked up when she saw another figure approach her guard. He tapped him on the shoulder, and said, "Shift's over, mate. I'm relieving you."
Rainbow Dash smiled at his accent. The guard had rugged features and was skinnier than the other guard, but Rainbow Dash could tell that he was just as tough as the bigger man. Plus, his gruff accent was pleasing to the ear.
The bigger guard looked at his watch and frowned. "Huh. Where does the time go?" he said, shrugging. "Okay, she's all yours." He shouldered his tranq rifle and sauntered off, the newcomer taking his place by Rainbow Dash's side.
"Name's Lawrence Mundy," he said. "Most folks just call me Rory, though."
Rainbow Dash grinned. "Rayne Boden," she said. "Nice to meetcha."
Rory nodded. "So..." he said. "Finally starting to get your real thoughts back, eh?"
Rainbow Dash nodded, staring up at the clouds again. "Yeah... It's all a big rush right now. I'm still getting used to the idea of being a mother..."
"Change is hard," Rory said, nodding. "But you got to adapt to it."
"Yeah..." Rainbow Dash said. She was silent for a long moment, before saying, "Rory? What would you do if you ended up being able to leave a place you and your friends were all stuck in before any of them could get out themselves?"
Rory blinked, staring at her. "What brought this on, sheila?"
Rainbow Dash sighed. "I dunno... None of the books here seem that interesting, so I end up doing a lot of thinking. What if one of us is released first?"
Rory thought for a moment. "Well, what if it was you?"
Rainbow Dash blinked. "Me?" she said, thinking a moment. "...I'd probably want to stay with the others, wait until they were ready to leave as well."
Rory nodded. "Loyalty. A good trait to have," he said. "Let's go with that, then."
Rainbow Dash chuckled, nodding. Pony or not, she still valued loyalty. She'd never leave her friends behind.
Rory smiled at her. "Don't worry, Ms. Boden. I'm sure you'll all get out of here at the same time."
Rainbow Dash sighed. "I surely hope say," she said, glancing at Rory as he shifted the tranq loaded sniper rifle in his hands.
Sniper... she thought. For some reason that termed seemed relevant. She just couldn't figure out why...
Zecora wandered into the library, her guard following her at a respectful pace. She went up to the main desk, and rang the bell for service .
When the head librarian came out, she blushed. He was a handsome man with slight stubble, a hawkish-nose, and slicked back black hair. He smiled a dazzling smile at her, and nodded.
"I am Henri DuBois. How can I help you, Mademoiselle?" he asked.
Zecora stared at him for a long moment, dumbstruck by how handsome he was. Hearing her guard snicker behind her brought her back to her senses. "Y-Yes... I was looking for a book on herbal remedies."
Henri nodded, stepping out from behind the desk and motioning for her to follow. "Zis way," he said. Zecora found herself grinning widely at his accent. Henri didn't seem to notice at first. "You are one of the pony patients, yes?"
Zecora smiled, nodding. "Sort of. I thought I was the zebra, Zecora," she said. "My name is Zelda Carrol."
"Zelda..." Henri said slowly, as if tasting the word. "A fine name." He entered the non-fiction section, pointing out the book she wanted. "You and yours seem to be recovering nicely, oui?"
Zecora nodded. "The memories are slow in coming, but they are returning," she said, taking the book and looking it over. She nodded. This will do for now.
Henri smiled, taking her hand. "I hope you do recover completely, my dear," he said, looking her directly in the eyes. "Zis is no place for someone as beautiful as you."
"Hey hey," Zecora's guard said. "No flirting with the patients!"
Henri bowed. "Forgive me, zen. I could not help myself," he said, turning to Zecora and adding, "I hope you will frequent my library often, my dear Zelda. You'd be surprised at what you can learn here."
With that, he kissed her on the hand and left. Zecora grinned widely. Wow... she thought.
"Pervo," the guard said. "Ignore him. He's just a schmoozer trying to get into your panties."
"He may have more success than you think," Zecora said, blushing. "Now excuse me, I feel the need for a drink. Water's fine, or whatever you got. Because damn if that guy wasn't flat out HOT..."
The guard chuckled, shaking his head. "And here I thought you were the dignified one. I'll grab you a soda, there's a machine near here," he said, leading her out of the library.
Zecora, meanwhile, was blushing brightly. Something about that man made her feel more relaxed, more comfortable being open with her feelings. But as they got to the soda machine, she realized something.
She had rhymed. And she did it naturally, as if she had always had done it.
What was going on?
"Ah, come in Fraulein Sparks," said the handsome, glasses-wearing, lab coat-clad doctor as he ushered her inside. "Welcome to your first therapy session."
Twilight frowned, stepping through the doorway. "Dr. Adrian isn't going to be handling it?"
The doctor chuckled. "Come come, my child," he said. "You've seen how many patients zere are here. He cannot handle zem all!"
"Oh," Twilight said, nodding. "That makes sense." She sat down when the doctor motioned her to do so. Something about him felt... off, like there was something underneath the mask of pleasantness the doctor put on, but she couldn't put her finger on it.
The doctor smiled, seemingly unnoticing of Twilight's discomfort. He sat down, pulling a file out of his satchel. "Now. I am Dr. Hans Konigburg," he said, adjusting his glasses and running a hand through his short brown hair. "Ve vill be starting vith something simple today, I think. A Rorschach test, yes? Do you know what those are?"
Twilight thought for a moment, and then shook her head. "I'm sorry..." she said.
Dr. Konigburg smiled. "Vell, it vill come in time," he said. "A Rorschach test is simply this – I show you pictures of ink blots in random shapes and patterns, and you tell me vhat zey look like to you. I can start to develop a therapy profile from zat."
Twilight nodded, smiling. She had heard of this after all, she just couldn't remember the name.
Dr. Konigburg nodded, pulling out the first card. "Now, Fraulein. Tell me vhat you think zis looks like."
He held up the card. On it were written the words, NOTHING YOU SEE IS REAL.
Twilight blinked, startled. The image on the card changed to a pair of splotchy ink blots. She stared at it a moment, confused, and eventually said, "...I can't tell what this looks like to me, I'm sorry."
Dr. Konigburg looked at the card. "Wow, that is a random-looking vun, isn't it?" he said, chuckling and moving the card to the back. He held up another card. "Now zis one," he said.
On the card were written the words, YOU ARE ALL IN GRAVE DANGER.
Twilight backed away from the table, startled. She blinked, and the words changed into a blotch that looked vaguely like a butterfly.
"Fraulein Sparks?" Dr. Konigburg asked, confused.
"Um..." she stammered, not sure what to think. She decided to just say what the blotch looked like. "A butterfly?"
Dr. Konigburg nodded, writing something down on a notepad. "Very well," he said, pulling out another card. "Vhat of zis one?"
Twilight looked at the card. On it were written the words, WE ARE HELPING ALL OF YOU ESCAPE THIS PLACE TONIGHT. BE READY.
Twilight pushed away from the table, frightened and confused. She blinked, and the words vanished again, becoming a blotch in the vague shape of a train.
"What's going on here?!" Twilight demanded. "Why do the pictures start out as words and change!? What is all this?"
Dr. Konigburg smiled dangerously. "I think I have vhat I need for now, Fraulein Sparks," he said. "I vill talk to you later. In the meantime, enjoy your day," he said, opening the door for her. "I have other patients to attend to."
Twilight fled the room, staring worriedly at Dr. Konigburg, who just chuckled as he closed the door behind him.
Trixie scowled, sitting cross-legged in her cell. She had gone over everything twice over, but couldn't find the 'seam' to the illusion. And she was sure it was an illusion. She was.
It had to be. This was all too perfect a scenario. The memories far too good, far too 'real' to actually be real.
She was certain of it.
She scowled again, sighing. She looked up when her door opened, a nurse entering with a tray of food for her. She closed the door behind her, grinning.
Trixie stared. The nurse wore the same white dress and shirt as the others, but she was nowhere near as pretty. Chubby, with visible pudge sticking out from under her shirt, and flat chested.
Oh, and there was the fact that most of her body was covered with burn scars from head to foot, only a few wisps of hair clinging to her head.
"Good afternoon!" the nurse said, smiling pleasantly as she set down the tray. "I'm Mariko Tsukiyomi, I'll be serving you lunch today."
Something about this felt off. And this nurse felt very familiar to her. "This... I... That's not your name."
The nurse gave her a confused look. "I'm sorry?"
Trixie shook her head, clutching it. "I... It is your name, but it's not the one you like to go by. I swear I know what it is, it's on the tip of my tongue..."
Mariko blinked. Could it be? she thought. She pulled a cigarette lighter out of her pocket and lit it.
Trixie stared at it, going wide-eyed. She then stared at Mariko, grinning widely as the memories started flooding back. "Pyro..." she whispered, hugging her tightly.
"Well, this is a time saver," Mariko said, hugging Trixie back and putting away the lighter.
"By the stars... I remember everything... My whole REAL life, it's coming back... I even remember how we were kidna..." Trixie babbled, overcome with relief as the illusion holding her mind shattered like glass.
Mariko shushed her, glancing back at the guard through the sealed soundproof doors. "Later," she said. "We're getting everypony out of here tonight."
"But... how?" Trixie asked, worried. "And why weren't you and the BLUs taken?"
"We were out of Ponyville when the attack came, investigating something in Everfree," Mariko said, glancing back at the guard. "By the time we got there and started to fight, everypony else had been dragged off. We managed to save some of the children, so that's something, but everypony else was taken before we got there. But we'll get them back. We'll break this illusion and free everypony from it."
Trixie nodded. "And what will happen to whatever's holding us?" she asked.
Mariko grinned savagely. "They will BURN."
TO BE CONTINUED...