Memory Pending - Chapter 01

Consciousness stirred. That fundamental spark of awareness. Alongside it, a nagging sensation. Something missing, or lost. It was hard to quantify. And then, a dull point of light, on the border of sensation. Something was... It was almost...

A stirring. My thoughts aligned into a semblance of coherency. Popped into place, was an instant pain as well. It reverberated throughout what was my body, straight up the nerve center of my spine. After the initial burst, it resigned itself to a dull throbbing sensation at the base of my skull. I tried not to groan, in case any nearby danger could be alerted by sound.

Listening hard, I tried to pick up anything that could be in my surroundings. Where was I? What had happened? The only thing that answered my silent query was a gentle wind, and the sound of leaves being called to motion by it. Grass alongside the contours of my body, danced with a slow yet steady rhythm. Think. What was the last thing I remembered?

More throbbing. Flashes of light and heat. An impossible force that shattered through my body. My mind seized up, and I involuntarily winced, feeling liquid warmth running from my mouth. Uh oh. That was usually never a good sign. Actually, I couldn't think of when that was a good symptom, now that I considered it. My eyes opened gently, to find my head at a smooth, thirty degree angle to the ground, elevated slightly. It felt like dirt that my neck was on, but grass further up by my cheek and hair line. Something was… very wrong, though. My vision was out of focus, as if I'd been sleeping for a long time. A sense of urgency came about, but I couldn't seem to remember what it was that would be driving it.

My attempt to sit up was met by sharp throbs of protest all down my back, and I promptly collapsed again. Well, at least the dirt was warm. Sun heated, maybe? I could make out a blurred flickering in my vision, trying to stop the liquid swimming sensation. A light. It was orange in color, and dancing chaotically. Fire. My depth perception was off, but I estimated it at about two meters away. It was difficult to think properly. I couldn't seem to formulate basic thoughts, and numbers like I should.

Moving my tongue inside my mouth, I very rapidly discovered the source of the blood, and sighed. I should have known. My breathing was okay, and the pain wasn't centralized in my chest or stomach. My tongue certainly didn't feel too well, though. Whatever impact or trauma I'd suffered, chances are that it was my tongue injured, and not my insides. At least not the squishy insides. I couldn't exactly speak much for my bones and whatnot.

Something still felt off. I moved my tongue around a bit more. It felt swelled, as if there was more tongue than before. I must have really done a number on it! Or my mind was screwed up, still. Feeling along the roof of my mouth, it felt elongated as well. Well, all the more votes to it being my mind instead. Damn. Okay, external test time!

Slowly and carefully, I tried moving my legs. There was a bit of a lag, but they slowly started to move. I mentally smiled as the thighs obeyed properly, but then I got to my knees and a deep sense of dread resounded through me. My knee, as I was shifting my thigh, bent backwards in entirely the wrong direction! My chest tightened as I braced for what I presumed to be a horrible wave of agony heading for me.

Several seconds passed, and I felt nothing. System shock? Nerve damage? I swallowed hard, and tentatively tried to bend the knee in question. It bent and shifted its muscles with little difficulty, much to my surprise, albeit entirely in the wrong direction. I didn't know what to think. I carefully tested the other knee, only to discover it similarly mutilated. Something told me that looking down at them would be a rather bad idea. Well, the ultimate test of the nerves is to probably shift my attention to the toes, right?

Nothing. No response, or feeling from them whatsoever. Wonderful. My legs were probably obliterated beyond recognition below the knee. I winced as moving my thighs sent another spike of pain up my back. Well, at least those nerves still worked, and I wasn't paralyzed. Healing these legs, if I could get back to a medic, should be reasonably easy. It's a pity I never specialized in healing spells.

Bitterly cursing my own choice of profession for its lack of flexibility, I shifted attention to my upper body. My shoulders seemed fully functional, just like my hips. Shifting to the elbows, I immediately became aware of a now familiar sensation. My joints bent backwards, just like my knees. There was no pain associated with moving them, and the muscles seemed fully functional, but no response from my fingers. My day just keeps getting better!

Of course, the second I tempt fate, I feel the warm trickle of heat running down my forehead, and sliding off my face between my left eye and nose. A head wound. That would probably explain the groggy sensations and vision problems. I might have a concussion. The sensation brought attention to my nose as well, which felt swollen and distended. Broken? Well if I landed on my face, that was even better. What I wouldn't do for a professional medical unit. Or even a medic. Hell, knowledge of healing spells even so I could do it myself!

My vision was finally clearing for the moment, so I took advantage and looked about my immediate field of view. There were indeed flames, six, maybe seven hooves away. Their source appeared to be a large branch sticking upwards at a thirty degree angle or so. Its base was on fire, and its leaves were browned and falling off rapidly. Its resting place appeared to be the lip of a small crater. The very crater I appeared to be residing in. Did I make the crater? Where did I fall from? Frustration built up as I realized I couldn't even recall what the last thing I had been doing was. There was a fight. No, a lot of fighting. Battle, maybe? My head protested via dull throbbing. Magic. Spells. I knew my capabilities, but was too tired to try the mental images required to form the spells. Okay, that was something for the memory banks, anyway. What else did I have?

Recollection of training, for various forms of combat that I was never very good at, came back into my mind. No, that wasn't enough! Schooling. Basic stuff. Math, geometry, physics, chemistry, history, geography, writing… No, no, no! I could barely remember anything apart from the classes. I needed something identifiable. Panic and horror set in, when I suddenly realized I couldn't even remember my own name! I suddenly felt nauseated, and my stomach clenched up in attempts to resist the urge to expel whatever it was I last ate. I bitterly decided that my stomach contents would probably provide more information about me than my memory just did. Damn it!

Breathing came first. I slowed my breathing down, and felt the panic subside partially. Extra oxygen to my blood, to flush out the chemicals causing the panic. Relax. Freaking out wasn't going to help me any. I knew my limbs were messed up, and bits of my face was probably broken. Ponies have lived through concussions before, and it wasn't the end of the world. I opened my eyes again, having not realized I had crushed them shut, and tried to move my neck.

Flares of pain, but I took it very slowly. Oh yeah, definite head trauma. Able to shift my view again, I could finally catch a glimpse of my own body. Several seconds later, I closed my eyes rapidly. Well, wish I hadn't done that! My skin appeared to be a pale bluish white. Okay, so I was still alive at least, somehow. Somehow. Swallowing, I opened my eyes slowly, and confirmed the color. It varied little up and down my right arm, largely consistent in hue. Well, that wasn't what I expected from the sliver of a second glance I'd gotten prior. Closer examination revealed a light coat of hair entirely covering the arm. Like an actual coat? Okay, what the hay?

I brought my right hoof up to my face, bracing myself for the site of my likely mutilated appendage. I was greeted by what appeared to be a hard, flattened marshmallow, shaped vaguely like a hoof. Ah. Well, that explains it.

Pretty sure I lost consciousness about then.

A stirring. My thoughts aligned into a semblance of… Wait!

My eyes opened up instantly, and I glanced about. Crater, check. Blue coat, check. Mush hoof for hoof, check. Dull pain in head, neck, and back, check. Damn it. Alright, so I had either suffered from a rather harsh and complex forced transmutation attack that had a really bizarre goal, or was on one heck of an acid trip. Having no experience with the latter, I decided to stick to what I did know and assume that I was somehow transformed into, well, something. What I would do for a mirror…

The pain had decreased since last I visited consciousness, and I tested moving my, noticeably longer neck, around. Okay, so whatever I was, I probably had more vertebrae than I was used to. Or longer ones, anyway. My mind re-visited the memory of my joints, and it suddenly made a lot more sense. Not mutilated, but reverse jointed. Alright, so chances are, instead of arms and hooves, I had an additional set of legs. Wonderful. Annoying, but I could manage, especially if I could clear my mind long enough to do magic. Telekinesis was amazing.

There was no sense of time at all, which honestly didn't surprise me due to the state my memory was in. Think! I was still in the crater. The blood was dried to my face as well. No medical attention. If I were in a battle, it either moved on, I somehow moved, or somepony had won and it wasn't my side, decidedly just leaving me for dead. Great, even better, and crap. My muscles bunched up in my shoulders, and I rolled onto my stomach. There was little complaint from my back, so I got a little confidence and sat up partially. My arm, well, I guess it was a foreleg now, was actually multi-jointed, I rapidly discovered. So like a dog or horse? The hoof shape on the bottom of my foreleg resembled a horse the most, and was made of reasonably the same substance as the rest of the limb, albeit much harder. Stallion or bull, then, I noted, recalling I was definitely male. Well, this could also be corrected via reversing the transmutation magic. I remembered what my arms and legs used to look like, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

Shifting my eyes down further, I noted I could see the end of my nose. Or was it muzzle now? I sniffed, and smelled burnt grass immediately. My ears flattened back out of newly found instinct, and I glanced around further. My awareness extending away from myself finally, I noted that I was in a small crater, three or four meters across. The dirt was now cold, and charred branches and twigs lay at the edges. Glancing up and behind me a little ways, I confirmed that there were indeed trees there. A singed groove was cut through the canopy, and painted a clean path directly over where I was sitting. Damn. I came in at a slight angle, and somehow impacted this location with enough force to alter the terrain. How was I still alive? The only thing I could think of was that I had a barrier up from whatever caused me to go flying. Not that I could remember what had happened.

My eyes scanned the terrain, now that my immediate self seemed reasonably okay. Healthy looking grass spread out upon what seemed to be a field of flowers in-between two forest lines. My eyes lingered on the colors and shapes, causing a shiver to go down my body. Where was I? Surely these kinds of places no longer existed. Did I really die and fall into some heaven or something? I inhaled sharply, trying to smell past my crater, and immediately picked up the lovely scent of all the flowers. The sky overhead was overcast, but far lighter than the perpetual hellish haze I was used to. Things seemed brighter, and cleaner. The trees were healthy, and I caught a few actual apples in some! Wherever I was, it definitely wasn't where I used to be.

I tested my balance carefully, and stood up on all fours. My spine was apparently shaped for this kind of travel, and my hind legs were about the same length as the forelegs. My strength was sapped, but I managed a very slow shifting, one hoof at a time. Running water resounded from the forest behind me, and I was suddenly extremely thirsty. Around the same time, my stomach growled. I mentally quieted it. One thing at a time, body.

Embarrassingly enough, it took three tries for me to get out of my crater, and I ended up falling on my face when I finally stumbled out. Groggily, I managed to sit up again, mindful of the protesting ache dancing up and down my back. Now, I wondered if the pain was from some sort of impact, or the probably violent transformation that the magic put me through, that I was mercifully unconscious for. I stumbled along at a snail's pace for a good five minutes, trying not to trip over my own hooves. This was nowhere near as easy as I thought it would be. My mind was adjusting very slowly to the extra joints, and I took several breaks to stop and look around.

There didn't seem to be any sign of habitation nearby. The trees were colorful and leafy, with the occasional apple tree sparsely sprinkled through. They were rather healthy looking apples, and my stomach growled lightly again. Normally wild apples wouldn't look that healthy, I wouldn't imagine. Of course, I tried not to assume as I wasn't entirely sure where I was. Normally for that healthy of an apple to 'randomly' germinate into a forest like this, I'd think there was a farm of some sorts nearby for the pollination. That gave me some hope as to my future survival, anyway.

A good five minutes later, I finally managed to stumble upon a rather clear looking stream in a forest clearing. It ran freely, and I'd never seen water look so fresh! Tentatively, I dipped a hoof into it. No sizzling or burning sensation, so it wasn't laced with acids or chemicals that I could tell. Without any equipment, that was probably the best I could manage. I sniffed the drips running down my raised foreleg, but didn't smell much of anything out of the normal. Gently, I licked the edge of my hoof to get some of the water on my tongue.

To my surprise, it was pure, and largely tasteless! Encouraged, I lowered my muzzle down and tried drinking directly from the source. It took a bit of practice, but the cool water float readily down my throat with ease, and I almost died of bliss. From what I could remember of the last place I was in, this was significantly better. Why? Why couldn't I manage to remember much of anything? I tried thinking harder, but the headache came back with a vengeance. All I could remember were classes, training, and then battle. Pain and death. I shuddered as I pushed it out of memory again. No, I'd try that later when I had more time. It didn't seem a particularly pleasant set of memories, regardless.

My stomach rumbled again, reminding me that I should probably get some food soon. I double checked my sides, but my packs were indeed gone, as I'd noted earlier. As far as I could tell, I was utterly naked. I blushed a little at the thought, but it's not like there was anypony around anyway. My coat provided a bit of modesty and warmth, anyway, and was a light blue color, so much so that it was almost white. The skin under, as far as I could tell, was extremely pale, and oddly the same hue as the hair above it. Or was it fur? I didn't know much about horses, with them having gone extinct a long time ago, alongside most of the rest of the animals after the sky was poisoned.

I exhaled in defeat as I swished an elongated tail around behind me. It was very equine indeed, and an impossible mixture of dark blue with silver streaks in it. Wonderful. Whoever cast the transmutation spell either had an amazing imagination, or was on some pretty potent drugs. Wait, oh crap… In slight panic, I flopped backwards onto my hind end and glanced between my legs. My vision was met with everything in its anatomically correct spot. Well, for my new shape, anyway. Oh thank goodness! I'd heard of some transmutation spells that were of the more… sadistic variety in that regard.

Having confirmed I was still male, I rolled back into a more comfortable sitting position and stared into the water. My reflection was reasonably easy to make out on the surface, and I glanced to each side of my muzzle. It was shorter than I'd expected, although that's hard to see from a first pony perspective. My eyes were also larger than what I'd been assuming. Maybe not a horse, entirely. I was too small for that. A pony? I guess. Of course, did it really matter? Focus! I needed food, as it felt like I was suddenly starving.

The nearest apple tree was a good dozen meters off. With my slightly improved movement techniques, it only took me three or four minutes to get there! I glanced upwards from the base of the trunk at the tantalizing apples hanging almost three body lengths off the ground. Crap. I hadn't thought of this. Think. The food was right there, and all I had to do was either get to it, or bring it to me somehow. I braced a front hoof against the tree and extended myself upwards slowly, until I was almost standing up on my hind legs. It didn't make much difference, as I swung at the apples with my free hoof. They were still a good meter out of reach. Dang. So close, but so far!

Option two. I closed my eyes after sliding back down into a sitting position. Symbols. They helped focus and shape thought in specific ways when meditated upon. When done with training and force, caused effect outside of my body. Come on, telekinesis! I'm hungry, so don't fail me now! The symbols came from memory surprisingly easily, and I directed the force of my mindscape along them as I had a thousand times before. Upon completing, I felt the feeling and energy built up. Yes! It was working! Smiling now, at least I think I was with my newly formed muzzle, I released the energy in my mind and directed it to carefully snag a couple apples off the branches above me.

It felt like somepony had come up next to me and sent an armored boot into the side of my skull. Somehow, from the inside. I was jarred sideways from the force of my own telekinesis, and stumbled from my sitting position, flailing to the ground. Arg! My neck screamed in agony as I was jarred, and I held my head still with both hooves once I had rolled onto my back. Okay, that was a no go.

That, I can honestly say I had never experienced before. It was as if the energy was somehow stuck inside of me or something? I'd never heard of anything like it, and had no idea what to do about it. Was it some strange disease I'd picked up in this new place? Maybe it was some malicious fact of my transformation that I'd just discovered. Maybe the unorthodox form I was in was planned not to limit my physical abilities, which technically it didn't too much, but to halt my magic? I swallowed lightly once my head stopped ringing. I think I'm in trouble now.

Glaring up at the unreachable apples, I sat up again. Damn it! They were right there! My stomach gave another protest, as if agreeing with my frustration in its own way. Okay, I prided myself on being a rather smart, er, pony. Surely, I could figure out a way to get at those apples. Looking around the clearing, that I was in, I noticed several fallen branches of varying sizes along the forest floor, along with several, rather mushy looking, fallen apples. Probably from the most recent storm, if such weather existed here, I decided. My eyes widened as a sudden idea came to mind.

After testing the strength in my legs, I discovered I was significantly more powerful than my prior form. With a little shoving, I managed to roost a sizable rock from next to the river, and shift it about seven or eight meters from the apple tree. Measuring out the distance with my hoof, I tried running the calculation in my head, but had difficulty suddenly with the numbers. My head was still too foggy from before. Ug. I decided to just guess and set up the alignment.

A few minutes later, I'd secured a large tree branch to the rock with a series of vines I found on a nearby tree. The forked end of the branch had its leaves brushed off, and I loaded a mushy apple into it with a smirk. It took a few practice shots, but soon I was able to hit one of the tasty looking apples with one of the mushy ones. Now watch my luck. They won't be apples, and instead be some sort of horribly toxic fruit of death.

I picked up the two apples I'd knocked loose between my two front hooves, trying my hardest not to squish them. Not having fingers was making everything a lot harder than I wanted it to be. I made a mental note to figure out what the hay was wrong with my magic as soon as possible. With a bit of washing in the stream, I cleaned the apples off with my hoof, and took a sample bite of one, while nestling the extra between my shins.

Finally, a pleasant surprise! The apples were not only actually apples, but quite delicious. They were crunchy and juicy and totally different from the synthetic ones I'd had in the past! I hummed happily while I munched, making myself forget about the mess I'd gotten into, and just being content with my stomach filling up. It was a very nice feeling. I'd felt like I hadn't had a good meal in a very long time. I probably hadn't, given what I remembered of my past.

Battle was an understatement. I remembered war, the longer I thought about it. A war that I was forced to fight in. It was either that, or die anyway as we were crushed down upon from all sides. The sky aflame with the aftereffects of the devastating weaponry both sides used. Thresholds were repeatedly crossed, as things got worse and worse. What were a few unused pieces of land? Who needed a few species of animals here and there? Who was counting how many moons we lost? Who cared if we burned the upper layers off our ozone around the planet? All in the name of guarding our precious smoldering rock that we had claimed. I sighed, remembering the friends I'd joined the war with, and those that I'd made along the way. It made me feel both better and worse that I couldn't remember their names either. Most were dead now, anyway, if such a thing as 'dead' truly mattered at this point. Maybe I was dead too?

My head hurt again, but I forced myself to start on the second apple. I'd need the sustenance later, I imagined. If I was a equine-like animal, that meant that I was probably a vegetarian. Apples kept reasonably well, and I wished I'd had a pouch or something to carry a couple extra with. Food was always scarce where I was from, I recalled. I contemplated knocking a couple more down, but decided I was reasonably full. I could get more later, now, and felt like I should do as little disturbing as possible. Resentment flashed through my mind. No, if whoever side I was with abandoned me for dead, I was probably better off without them at this point. I certainly didn't want to damage things unnecessarily, like what happened with our planet.

Finding myself in a stupor now, I slowly wandered back in the directly of my crater. With timing, I discovered I was getting a little better at walking, anyway. I needed to go slowly, in case I kicked one of my front hooves with a back one, but at least I didn't need to watch my steps precisely now. If I was going to spend any time as a quadruped, I decided that I'd best learn how to walk properly as one. It gave me all new respect for the voluntary shape shifters. Doing this in battle would have gotten me killed rather quickly, I had suspicion.

Directions were difficult. Assuming wherever I was had somewhat similar physics, there should be a standard magnetic North. That would let me pick out four cardinal directions and at least prevent getting lost, in theory. The only issue is, did this planet rotate? Of course, I assume I'm on a planet of some sorts. I sighed weakly and sat down at the edge of my crater. Assumptions were just that. As much as I 'knew', I was drugged up and imprisoned somewhere, having an amazingly ineffective adventure in my head. But thinking that way was pointless.

Glancing skyward, I saw that the sun I'd noticed earlier had indeed shifted a little, indicating movement. I could use that for directions for now. It was as good as any, assuming it moved in a straight line, anyway. I was pretty screwed if it didn't, so I'd cross that bridge when presented it. Given an East to West progression assumed, that put the clearing to the South of my crater, and the stream I'd found flowing in a Southeastern direction. If there was a settlement around, I'd probably find it to the Northwest, then, following the river. Hopefully. If civilizations built upstream here.

Shaking out my apprehension, I followed the forest line to the Northwest of my crater, trying to circumvent the forest and see where the stream exited on the other side. I hoped it was a small forest.

Son of a bitch. Normally I considered a cross country hike nothing, as I was in good shape from training, like every other recruit had been. Walking in an uncoordinated fashion, tripping every few hundred meters, and generally blundering through the path I'd set myself on slowed me considerably, and took up a lot more energy than anticipated, however. As far as my rattled mind could estimate, it had been an hour or so, and I felt like I'd barely made a couple kilometers.

The forest edge finally collided with the stream exit, although it was more of a river at this point. It was flowing the correct direction still, so bizarre physics could currently be ruled out. The terrain was getting more and more hilly however, and I didn't exactly look forward to attempting to navigate them with the equivalent of wearing four roller-skates on stilts. Sitting down next to the river edge, I debated what to do.

The sun slowly drifted off to my right, meaning West. My eyes shifted back to the river and traced it further North, as it slipped between two hills. Even if there was a town that was, I doubt I'd be able to see it. My vision lapsed occasionally still, causing bouts of nausea and dizziness. I didn't know how much further I could keep this pace up without some serious resting. If I had a concussion…

Not that I hadn't just fallen on my face a dozen or so times just now, I reminded myself irritably. Having four legs was not something I was used to, nor getting used to at any reasonable pace. At least I was moving faster than I was before. Of course, not while I was just sitting here!

Kicking myself in the butt, I stood up again and slowly started North. Might as well get started. The faster I get moving, the faster I can see if I was right about their being civilization, or see exactly how screwed I am if I wasn't. Knowing beats sitting here worrying about it however, right? The view was pleasant still, and I couldn't get nearly as pessimistic as I would have liked with everything being so pretty like this. Well, until it was dark anyway, and I could no longer see any of the pretty. That thought got me moving a little faster.

Hills were, surprisingly enough, easier than flat land for me to walk on. Apparently having my hooves on different elevations entirely negated their ability to trip over themselves. Now all I had to worry about was keeping them going the right direction, and I was set! Two hills later, and I amended that I hated the downhill part, it seemed.

Picking myself back up from the crumpled heap after my third tumbling roll, I sighed and cracked my now complaining back. Maybe I'd try going down the next one backwards? Couldn't hurt at this point. Well, not any more than going down on my face does. I hiked to the top of the next hill a little more slowly now. This was the biggest one yet, and a little intimidating to my now slightly sore legs. My breath caught at the top of it, and I froze in place.

The sun was slowly starting to set at this point, but the expanse of land after this hill was alight with a warm glow. Multiple buildings lay spread out with lights coming from windows. Faint wisps of smoke, barely noticeable, extended from chimneys, and I saw beings moving about on the streets! The building apprehension melted away at that point. All of the individuals I saw moving around were quadruped, like me. Their coats varied in color as if a rainbow had fallen and soaked them all. Well, now my exotic blues and silvers didn't seem so out there, anymore.

Then it dawned on me. I looked like they did. Which means the transmutation wasn't the will of anypony with a sense of imagination, or drugged. I was shaped to match them, either by intention or accident. Or maybe it was an automatic thing by whatever had dumped me here? I briefly entertained thoughts of a cursed zone entirely separated from our world, that was somehow more pleasant than reality. It didn't add up, though. This place was far more massive than anything I'd seen a caster do. Was I in a different reality, then? Did they exist? Maybe this was just a different planet from mine, although that seemed even less feasible. I was moved here in the space of losing consciousness. Although I truly didn't know how long I was out. The crater indicated that my arrival was slightly more spontaneous, though.

Whatever! I'd sort it out later. What was needed now was some very accurate observations! I needed some information if I were to figure out how to cause the natives to not murder me on sight. With new direction and finally, a plan, I set off towards the village!

And immediately fell off the top of the hill… Groaning, I picked myself up weakly from the hoof, where I finally stopped rolling, and glanced towards the now much closer, if slightly spinning village. If I did have a concussion, it probably just got worse. Dusting myself off, I slowly edged through the clusters of trees, heading towards the edge of the village. It was a quaint area. Rustic feeling, although with a flare of personality that I hadn't really seen before. Everything looked customized. Like they had the buildings and furniture together personally, by hoof. Well, hoof.

I decided I was close enough when I got within a dozen meters of the road going into the village. Nopony had noticed me yet, so I plopped down in the bushes and peeked out, trying to observe as best as I was able. The equine individuals moved like a standard town community. I saw some talking to each other here and there. Communication! Perfect. Listening carefully, I rotated my ears on top of my head until I was able to pick up things.

"Honestly, is it supposed to be getting this dark already? Those clouds don't look entirely friendly," was whispered by a darker blue looking pony.

My ears perked. They spoke universal common? This was far better than I could have hoped! "I dunno. The weather team was going to bring in a storm, but I thought it wasn't supposed to be until later tonight," the yellow equine she was talking to replied. Weather control? Amazing! They must be far more advanced than I was giving them credit for. I got my hopes up. If they had climate control, maybe they had interstellar travel! Maybe I was just on another planet after all? But if so, how the hay did I get here? I'd assume even I'd make a bigger crater than that, and be quite a bit more dead, if I'd traveled directly.

My listening was interrupted by rustling next to me suddenly. I felt my pupils dilate, as my pulse spiked and I slowly, carefully glanced to my right…

Rabbit? My mind stopped. It just sat there, looking up at me, before slowly looking back in the direction of the village. Uh. Well. Several moments passed in silence, as I carefully let my heartbeat return to normal. Okay, it wasn't eating me. And it wasn't pulling out any weaponry and declaring my painful death. Oh thank goodness, I don't think it was one of them! The creature hopped out of the bush I was in, and slowly made its way onto the path. Instinct told me to scream out. To tell all of the nice looking ponies to flee!

I exhaled quietly as it left, not realizing I'd been holding my breath. My entire body was shaking, and I was distinctly aware of an uncomfortably warm puddle forming under my rear, causing me to blush. Wonderful. Some trained soldier I was. But it wasn't one of them? It hadn't killed any of the ponies yet, so just maybe…

"Oh, there you are, Angel. I was looking all over for you, you naughty bunny. It's going to storm soon, and we need to get you back to your family," I suddenly heard, barely more audible than a whisper. I watched a young looking pony with an extremely light yellow coat walk up. Her hair, I mean, mane, was a pretty pink color, and she looked somehow more vulnerable than the others, yet infinitely more graceful. She. She was definitely a female. Wait…

Sadly, it didn't dawn on me until she'd picked up the small rabbit in her mouth and turned around to head North into the village, glimpses of her rump visible as she went. My blush hit instantly, and I ducked back into the bush, burying my muzzle in my hooves. Curse my horrible, horrible mind! They're all naked! Every pony I saw so far had been without much clothing. It was probably safe to assume at this point that it was optional in their culture. Damn it! Biologically, I must be geared to now pick up on this race as viable mates, since the spell changed... Wait, I don't remember seeing any males in my observations.

I peeked my head out over the bush again, and got a quick confirmation. Vaguely feminine decorations and furniture, every individual on the street appeared to be female, and even the flower arrangements and elaborations felt feminine. Uh oh. I might be in trouble here. Did males exist? If they didn't, surely I was a joke of whatever magic transformed me. Worst case scenario? Lab rat for the rest of my life.

But why have a female sexuality without a male variant? Asexual reproduction typically didn't display asymmetrical gene... OH! What if they're just a segregated society? Worst case scenario? Locked in some slave camp, or drafted into some hidden, unknown military. I gasped. But what they're considered the submissive sex here? I could face horrible torture and imprisonment for being found outside of a containment camp! No! Stay calm. I'll just need to gather a ton more data before making contact with anypony here. Simple.

"Oh, sir? You should get out of those bushes and take cover before the storm hits," suddenly resounded from about a meter away.

My ears flattened back. Oh crap. I had left my head sticking out of the bush. I looked up and saw a bluish-green coated pony with a light blue and white mane smiling gently at me. I froze. Discovered! By a female no less! Visions of certain doom swam before my eyes, and I started trembling again. All she'd have to do is call out, and they'd all set upon me! I pictured myself being torn apart by ravenous, hostile females.

Her head tilted when I didn't do anything. Shivering and a terrified look must not be a part of their communication. Wait, was that some sort of horn sticking off her forehead? My eyes widened as I suddenly considered if she was a warrior or not. "Um, are you okay? You're bleeding. Wait, what's that smell?" She suddenly asked.

She smelled blood! What if I was wrong about the herbivore thing? This was a totally new world! I shouldn't make assumptions based on my prior experience. The females here must be carnivores. The lack of males suddenly made terrible, terrible sense. "I'm sorry! Don't lock me up and eat me!" I pleaded, scrambling to my hooves as fast as I could and taking off back into the forest at top speed. Pity I tripped after a few meters and went sliding on my belly into the river.

"W-What! Hay, wait!" She called out behind me. Oh hell! I heard rustling of the bushes behind me. She was on my trail. I had to escape. There was no way I was going to be torn apart and killed here, after everything I made it through!

Struggling to my hooves, I took off running again, partially wading now, down the river. "Ew! I think I stepped in something," I heard behind me, suddenly drown out by a clap of thunder above. Yes! She was distracted by my, uh, strategically placed trap. I took full advantage and let the river wash me downstream.

And that's how I got here. Where's here? Wet and soggy, under the thickest foliage I could find, in the middle of a massive downpour, trying to ingest a partially rotten apple core I found. Who am I talking to? Not a clue. Where'd I get the apple core? It was one of many in a paper bag that descended from the heavens to bash me in the skull as I drifted down the river. I have no idea how they did it, and frankly, I've given up trying to understand this place. The little bastards are now paying by being dissolved in my stomach.

After I finished the fourth core, I tighten the overly large bag around my forehead. A warm trickle slipped onto my face, so I guessed I was still bleeding from the bag impact re-opening my wound. It certainly wasn't the blasted rain. That was freezing. I sneezed momentarily, then rapidly looked around to make sure nothing heard it.

Darkness was all around me. The only light nearby was from a small cottage I found on the West edge of town after climbing out of the river. It had a very earthly, natural feel to it, which relaxed me. This was as close as I dare get, though! I was about thirty meters from the light, not wanting to risk detection by the carnivorous monsters masquerading as ponies and fearing even worse things roamed in the darkness. Meanwhile, the storm grew worse and worse.

Swallowing, I tried to curl up as best I could. I sneezed again, and the shivering made me suddenly tired. Not really caring, I lay my head down on the mud under the tree, and tried to get some much needed rest.