A story of eight and one half ponies
Chapter Four: A Cup Of Fecundity
Miriam was having trouble with the carrots. Specifically, there weren't any. "Dorcas! Where's the carrots?" Normally, if Miriam wanted something, she'd get Alexi - Alexi not only seemed to know where everything was, he could also find a way to get whatever she needed. But Alexi wasn't available; Dr. Pastern had pulled him from the dinner shift to help one of the newfoals. Now Miriam had to rely on Dorcas, and Dorcas didn't know sugar from shit. Or salt, come to think of it.
"What, Ms. Harshaw? Dorcas was young, but not so young she should be such crap in the kitchen.
"CARROTS! I need the carrots. Where? Find!" Newfoals griped if they didn't get their carrots. Apparently carrots tasted sweet and spicy to pony mouths, and newfoals couldn't get enough of the damn things. Dorcas ran off, terrified, again. Miriam didn't mean to frighten the mousey little girl, but dinner was approaching, and the 'animals' would be restless.
Miriam continued prepping the ryegrass and fescue. At least it looked like ryegrass and fescue. Over the last six months, Miriam had become far too familiar with far too many kinds of fodder. 'Hay' was such a simple word for such a wide variety of plants. Even so, some shipments were difficult to perfectly identify; Bureau Supply struggled constantly to keep the clinics in sufficient pony food.
The ponies could eat nanorestructured food products, but artificial food tended to give them indigestion and made them horrifically flatulent. Natural food eliminated this problem, and it was a problem. The Earth was already low on oxygen as it was, the global level having fallen to 15% on average - pony methane left everyone dizzy in short order. Some Bureaus had air recyclers that upped the level of oxygen, but there often weren't enough recyclers to go around. Only the first 20 clinics in the San Fransisco Bureau had recyclers, for the rest, like clinic 042, it was actually cheaper to ship in real food.
The hay, carrots, and other ingredients were grown in huge hydroponic gardens. These had been set up after it became clear that Equestria couldn't be destroyed, and ponification had been grudgingly accepted as the only means to survival. Some produce was shipped in from across the Barrier; this was the most coveted of all. In order to keep the Bureaus from fighting over the superior, imported produce, much of it was randomly mixed in with the hydroponic material.
Miriam pinched and rolled some of the 'fescue' between her fingers. It did smell particularly rich and green. She nibbled a bit of one of the tufts. It was very soft, and had an especially fresh and green taste. The color was remarkably strong. It was possible that this was hay from Equestria. If so, she could expect compliments later, from the newfoals. She liked nights where she got compliments. Being head cook was often a thankless job.
Dorcas had returned with some white roots dangling in a bunch. Miriam just stared. The hell? "CARROTS! they're ORANGE for chrissakes! JESUS, Dorcas!" It was clear that Miriam would have to find the carrots herself. "Finish prepping the fodder. I'll find the carrots." Miriam took the daikon from Dorcas, and headed back to storage. It was going to be one of those nights.
Sharon was crying. She lay on her cot, huge sobs wracking her young body. How could he have left? She had trusted him. He said he loved her! But he just ran out. He had run out on her! "Damn you Tyler! Damn you! Damn you to hell!"
She had met Tyler on her way to the bureau, four months ago. The two had traveled together as part of a caravan making its way from the midwestern zones to the West Coast. Like many, they couldn't afford to ride the maglevs or take a transport, so they had joined a jitney caravan.
The small, often homemade vehicles ran on whatever was available. They could use alcohol, when it could be made, or sunlight. The perpetual smog layer made sunlight a slow prospect; often several days of charging would be required just to ride for one day of travel. Alcohol stills on the ramshackle buses could be used to produce fuel, but only if suitable organic matter could be found. Food was rationed, of course, and going hungry in order to power the caravan was a highly contested subject. Especially when the price to ride in the caravan essentially amounted to 'all worldly possessions'.
The Jitney caravans were a special breed, profiteers at the end of the world. What they expected to do with all the wealth they took as trade for transportation was unknown. What was the point? Some said the caravans provided resources to secret groups building underground bases. Some said the Human Liberation Front imagined they might survive the expansion of Equestria in such places. Others just figured that human nature was what it was: stupidly greedy, right up to the last breath. Whatever the caravan drivers wanted with the wealth of the riders, at least they did ultimately ferry them to the Conversion Bureaus.
The caravan had been stuck for a week just outside of the Salt Lake City Crater, safely beyond the radiation zone, once again out of energy. The drivers had been using small electric bikes to bring in boxes of supplies, including worldcorp rations. The usual arguments about hunger versus fuel had divided the caravan. They were just waiting for a break in the ashfall, enough to power up the batteries in the jitneys. That was when Sharon had finally embraced Tyler as her lover.
Tyler was much older than her, and so mature. She liked that about him. He always knew just what to say, he was so gentle and caring, and he made her feel safe, and protected. After all, as much as she hated to admit it, being sixteen made her a target, and Tyler was her Robocop. He was her Terminator of love.
She was glad she had run away from her parents. They were stupid, like all parents, but hers were especially dumb. They wanted to 'wait and see' what happened with Equestria - somehow they thought that Jesus would come back and fix everything. She was tired of the megachurch, and she was tired of their ignorance. Equestria was the best thing ever, couldn't they see that? A land of frigging magical ponies! You couldn't even SEE a horse anymore, except at the zoo, and going to the zoo cost more than daddy made in a year. But Equestria - it was right there! And it had a Princess, two Princesses in fact, and they were friggin' ponies as well! It was beyond awesome.
And there was no doubt the world government wanted everyone to go to Equestria. Sharon had argued that point over and over - the Bureaus had been set up by the government itself! Because they knew the world would end! There was no point in waiting! But her parents were just stupid. They were just hopeless.
When Sharon had realized that, really realized that, she became angry. He parents were trying to kill her. They would keep praying to Jesus until it was too late, and they would all die like the evil people who missed the Ark. Equestria was the new Ark. That much was clear. It was a new ark for ponies! It was heaven right there, out in the ocean, and her parents were too stupid to see it.
So one night, she left. It was easy. There was certainly no shortage of direction on where to go. She figured she'd head to the San Francisco Bureau, because she'd always wanted to see the ocean. She didn't think it could be as completely dead as everyone said, and even if it wasn't, she still wanted to see it. Water to the horizon! That was a pretty amazing thing.
Besides, San Francisco had one of the biggest Bureaus, and it was that much closer to Equestria. She wanted to get to Equestria as fast as she could. Who wouldn't? It was a magical pony-land, duh!
Tyler loved her. She could see them together, afterward. He would become a big, handsome stallion, and they would have a beautiful wedding with real flowers and the Princesses doing the ceremony and everything! It was like a wonderful dream, only it was real!
But now, all of that had fallen apart. Tyler had left her. He had run right out of the Bureau, or so Nate had said, sometime around ten. They had a big argument, and he just left. But she didn't think he would really leave. Sharon thought that he had just left to cool down. But then Nate said that he had run away entirely. How could he do this? Especially when she was carrying his child?
That is what started the argument. She had been feeling strange again, and had asked the PA, Lynn, to check her out. She was 12 weeks pregnant, and at first she was so happy. Tyler and her would be a family in Equestria. She could picture a little boy running around, and she would give him rides on her back. But then Lynn had explained that after Conversion, her baby would be born a foal. Conversion changed a pregnant woman into a pregnant mare, and the child would be Equestrian too.
And this was a problem for her. Her baby didn't get a choice. He would be a colt from birth. He wouldn't even know what it was like to be human. She wasn't sure he would even have a soul, because of that. Being a pony was cool, but she had been born human, so she knew she had a soul. But what about a baby born as a pony from the start? That was different.
Sharon was so confused. Everything had made sense, when Tyler was there. She relied on him to tell her what they should do next. Tyler always had an answer. Tyler... oh, god how she missed him. Damn him! She needed him. He should be here!
How could she go to Equestria now? How could she be a pony now? They didn't even have churches in Equestria, how would she get her baby baptized? What did they even believe there? Equestria seemed strange to her now, and she realized how little she actually knew about it. How did she end up here? Sharon began to cry again. She couldn't stop - everything had gone totally wrong!
When the announcement came over the loudspeaker, it wasn't Alexi. It was Lynn, for some reason. 'Sharon Marcella, please report to the Conversion Room' - only she couldn't. Not now. She didn't know what to do. How could she survive as a pony without Tyler? How could she choose her baby's future like that? Why did Tyler leave? Nothing made sense anymore.
"Sharon? it's four. It's your turn..." It was Lynn. "What's the matter?" Sharon was crying and Lynn tried to comfort her, and it was some time before she could even start to tell Lynn about what had happened. Sharon wept as she cursed Tyler for leaving her. She didn't know what she should do, or whether she should go through with Conversion, or what she should do in any case. She told Lynn at great length about her fears, about her family, her beliefs, about her fear that her baby wouldn't have a soul if it was born a pony, how she thought you could choose to be a pony or a human at will in Equestria, how everything was completely wrong now.
"I can't go back to my parents, they'd never understand! They'd totally shun me, and there's nobody else! I don't know what to do!" Sharon was surprised at how she could cry for so long. She felt like she had infinite tears or something.
Eventually, nearly an hour later, Lynn had the girl sufficiently calmed down that at least she wasn't facing a wall of histrionics. "Listen, Sharon, you don't have to Convert today, alright? Nobody is forcing you, it's always been your choice, OK?"
"But I want to do it - only I don't want to do it! I don't know what I should do! But if I don't then what? I can't live on my own out there!" Once again, the waterworks started.
Lynn sighed. Dr. Pastern would be past wondering what had taken so long. "I'm afraid we have strict limits on how long you can stay at the clinic. If you decide you don't want Conversion, and your parents won't take you, we need to contact one of your relatives and.."
"I don't have any other relatives! All I ever had was mom and dad. I don't know anybody else except megachurch people and they'll be the same as mom and dad! They'd never help me!" The girl really did have a gift for crying.
"Hello? Lynn! What's the holdup with our four o'clock....oh." Dr. Pastern was at the door, looking less happy than an hour ago.
"We've got a little complication." Lynn understated "Our four o'clock isn't sure she wants Conversion, but she also isn't sure she doesn't. She's had a little falling out with her... boyfriend. He left her. And... there are other issues."
"What issues?" Asked Pastern, eager to have this resolved.
"I'M PREGNANT!" Screamed the sixteen year old.
"Oh." Dr. Pastern thought for a moment, then sat down on the edge of the cot on the other side of Lynn and Sharon. "Listen, shhhh, listen. It's OK, it's not a problem at all, really."
"How is being PREGNANT and alone not a PROBLEM???"
"It's no big deal. Conversion changes the fetus as well as the mother. I promise you your child will be a perfect little foal when she arrives. I've seen it happen. I've helped newfoal mothers give birth. It's a lot easier than it is for humans. I didn't have to do anything, really. Honestly, it's no big deal." This should settle things, Dr. Pastern thought. A little knowledge goes a long way.
"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!!!" This was rapidly spinning outside of Dr. Pastern's comfort zone. The girl wailed and wept. What had she done wrong? The information was accurate.
"Doc, it's a little more than that. Seems she doesn't completely understand what we do here." Lynn let the child cry on her, as they sat on the cot. Her shoulder was covered in tears and snot. Great day. Just great.
"She's been here two weeks, right?" Dr. Pastern didn't understand. "She's been through orientation, right?"
"I don't think she actually paid much attention or even attended the classes. Apparently she spent most of the time in this room with Tyler, and..."
"Tyler? Tyler Derichs? Our runaway?" The scenario instantly defined itself within Pastern's quick mind. "If she doesn't understand, we can't convert her. Bureau policy is really clear on full consent. Call her parents for pickup and..."
"It's more complicated than that. Her parents are very religious, and it isn't likely they would accept her in this state." Naturally, Sharon cried even louder at this. Lynn patted her, as best she could.
"Then call up her other relatives. We'll just move up the schedule and..."
"No go. No other relatives. She literally has no where else to go." Lynn looked perturbed "We've got a problem."
Dr. Pastern brightened. "Clinic 013 has a brand new Foeta-Stract! Give me a minute, I'm sure they'll let us use it. We can rip that sucker right out of there, and she can go home sans occupant. Simple! It'll take all of ten minutes!" Pastern smiled broadly. Medicine to the rescue!
Sharon suddenly exceeded all previous levels of crying, and possibly the critical level for noise-induced hearing loss "Uh... doc, religious, remember?" Lynn gave Pastern the kind of look reserved for bad dogs that leave stains on the couch.
Pastern was puzzled. There were a lot of religions, none of them made much sense. Then she remembered that there were groups that had a problem with fetal extraction. She'd never understood that; surely nineteen billion people was beyond enough. But, there was no use talking to the religious. She knew that much. No room for discussion; arbitrary belief always trumped reason. That option was out. Dammit.
Pastern was stumped. Bureau policy was clear: all applicants would be accepted for Conversion, regardless of age, race, creed, or any other factor. Parental consent was not considered an issue; this was a terminus event situation. The only requirement was informed consent, except in cases involving abandoned children below the age of reason, in which case automatic Conversion without consent was authorized. The two week orientation was strongly suggested, but not mandated, which is why she had been able to convert the sudden new arrival Caprice at 2:00, based purely on personal judgement.
There weren't any social services anymore, beyond the basic Worldcorp minimum ration, guaranteed to every human being. Three liters of potable water and 1000 calories of nanorecycled food product. Nanotechnology had made it possible to keep 19 billion people alive on the ruined earth, but that was all. The rest was up to them.
Sharon could be turfed back out into the favela, and there would be no repercussions. It was the sensible, rational, logical thing to do. It would be the right thing to do, following Bureau policy. Her two weeks of orientation were up, if she hadn't bothered to attend class, then that was her failing. The Bureau was strict on this; after two weeks of orientation, it was Convert, or leave.
But she could not ever have orientation again. Two weeks was all any person could have, ever. No repeats. No second chances. And it would be useless to go to another Bureau, anywhere on the planet. The moment anyone steps into a clinic, every detail about them is analyzed by the Total Security Doorframe. Their pattern would be transmitted to every Bureau, and that is all the information that would be needed to permanently exclude a repeat.
The reason for this was simple enough; the Bureau devoured enormous amounts of the world's scant remaining resources, and the temptation for people to use orientation as a vastly better meal-ticket was absolute. Inside the Bureau was good, often fresh, often real food. Clean beds, Working toilets. It was a paradise inside any Bureau, compared to the hell outside. That was actually part of the plan; initial enticement for Conversion. The Bureau would not have that abused.
If Sharon was tossed out those doors, she could only expect to enter them again for one purpose; immediate Conversion.
However, this too presented a problem; Conversions were scheduled based on available resources, which meant deliveries of red cases to clinics. Caprice had been very lucky; bumping a Conversion schedule pissed everyone off and caused trouble with the Bureau. Supposedly, this would not be a problem forever; word was that serum production was being scaled up constantly. But right now, in the first year of the Conversion Bureaus, serum supplies were carefully regulated and not an unlimited resource.
If things didn't improve, Sharon might find herself more or less effectively locked out of Conversion if she didn't take the option now. Lynn was right. This was a problem.
"Lynn... I don't want to see her hurt, you know that. But.. we have a schedule, I have to account for every conversion, and the Bureau is really strict about no-go applicants." Pastern checked the simple chronometer implant in the skin of her wrist "It's nearly six now!" Had they really been dealing with this for that long? Dinner was coming up. Roselyn was hungry, and understandably, wanted this solved.
"Doc, Roselyn..." Lynn's face softened "...why don't we all just go have some dinner, hmm? Maybe with a little food in her, I can explain enough to allow her to make an informed consent. It's worth a try, right? I'm willing to take the time to do this." Lynn thought the world of Roselyn Pastern, but she could be a little obsessive about her job, as well as a little impatient for definite solutions. It was a trait common to the medical professionals she had met.
"Alright, I guess that's as good an idea as any at this point. But I'm going to bump the schedule if she can't make a decision by eight. Fair enough?" Dr. Pastern would have to deal with way too much crap if she didn't do a third conversion today. She'd have to fill out one of the lengthy online 'failure to comply' forms, explain all the details, and it could even result in a delay of the next red case - if they determined that she had 'extra' dosages left unused. It would be a mess.
Roselyn briefly considered Converting herself. That would solve the problem, and she would be free! No more corporation! No more Bureau, no more forms and lists and schedules. No more corporate politics, men in black nanomesh carrying guns, no more lieutenants and generals and...
The dream, the happy dream died. She couldn't escape. Not yet. She hadn't earned her passage to Equestria. Not yet. She wouldn't face Celestia with a stain on her soul. So to speak.
Eight o'clock. At eight, someone was getting converted - that was all there was to that. Bump everyone up a day. That was the simplest solution. So be it.
"Alexi?" Caprice had finished her meal, except for one item. She had been amazed at how wonderful everything had tasted, and how different were her senses now. Things that would have been inedible as a human, such as hay, were not only easy to chew with her powerful new teeth and jaw, but had such complex, savory flavors. Every strand made her tongue go yum, and her stomach yearn for more. It was mere grass, yet to her new body it was more. But the apple.... oh, that was beyond good. "I thought that... we might share the apple together."
Alexi gave in. It was clear that it would make Caprice happy, and that is all he wanted. "I would love to share the apple with you, pieni ponini." Caprice smiled at him, and it was like the room somehow became brighter.
Caprice took the apple carefully in her mouth, and lifted it from her tray. This time, she was careful not to break the skin. She leaned forward so that Alexi could have the rare and imported Equestrian treat.
Alexi leaned his own head forward, and bit into the apple. "Mmmm...Very tasty indeed, thank you." As he straightened up, catcalls and whistles could be heard from other tables. Caprice found herself blushing again, a delight she had never experienced as a human. Alexi, she decided, was an interesting man. Far too interesting to remain a man.
She put the apple down. "I like you, Alexi." She had never been anything but direct in her human life, she was apparently the same as a pony.
Alexi studied her. "I like you too. You are very sweet, Caprice."
"No..." Caprice lowered her head for a moment, then met Alexi's eyes "I like you."
Alexi laughed, gently. "You have only just met me. For all you know I could be the most terrible of people. But I very am honored that you would say that."
"I have known terrible people. I know how they look, in their eyes, and the way they move. You are not such a person, Alexi." Caprice leaned forward. "Would you consider doing me a great favor?"
"If it were within my power, I would move the moon for you." Alexi enjoyed grand pronouncements even away from his microphone. "What is it that you wish me to do, my princess?"
Caprice looked at Alexi with a serious expression "I want you to take the serum and become a stallion. I meant what I said." It was very clear that she did; her earnestness was palpable.
"Just like that, after one meal, one date, you have made such a decision?" Normally Alexi would take all of this as some kind of joke, or flirtation, but Caprice seemed utterly intent.
"I am no longer human. My heart is not divided, my mind is pure and primal. I know what I want. I know who I want." The peach-colored pony filled his view, for a moment, his world became her bright, green, eyes. "My wish will not change. I am allowed two weeks here, as I understand it." Caprice took a bite of the Equestrian delicacy, then placed it on Alexi's plate. "I just wanted you to know." She gave a soft, gentle smile.
Alexi looked at the apple, lifted it, and held it in front of him. He took a large bite.
Loud sobbing interrupted both of their thoughts. Turning to look, Alexi and Caprice could see Lynn comforting a young girl. Alexi remembered that she was one of the applicants, but he had only seen her at mealtimes. He remembered her because She and Nathan were the youngest applicants in the entire group.
Lynn was trying to comfort the girl...Shannon? Sherry? Alexi couldn't remember the name. She'd hardly ever left her room. He vaguely thought she had come in with her father or something. Why wasn't he here? He always sat next to her. The young girl said something while holding her belly, Alexi couldn't make out what it was. Lynn said something back. The two continued to talk, the girl between sobs. Alexi turned back to Caprice. She was staring at Lynn and the girl, her ears directed like twin satellite dishes at the pair.
Alexi looked down at the half-eaten apple. He tried to think of what to say to Caprice, but first he needed to figure out what he actually felt, not always the easiest of tasks. He was attracted to her, somehow, that much he had to admit to himself. There was no denying that, despite the species barrier, pretty was pretty. But it wasn't just that Caprice was pretty, there was something that...
Suddenly, Alexi realized Caprice was not at the table. Wait, there she was. Caprice was walking slowly and carefully on her new legs, over to where Lynn sat with the girl.
Sharon suddenly found a head in her lap. The head belonged to a shimmery, pale peach pony. "Hello!" The pony said. It looked up at her with a huge, beautiful emerald eye. Wavy locks of gleaming, dark peach mane fell across her legs. "My name is Caprice!" Sharon found that she wasn't crying anymore. It wasn't possible to cry with such a beautiful, delicate creature in one's lap.
"My ears itch! Could you... scratch them please?" The pony smiled up at her. Without thinking, Sharon found herself scratching the pony's ears. "Ooooh! That is soooo nice!" The pony called 'Caprice' giggled. It sounded like music.
"Could... could you do the top of my head, yes, right there!" Caprice rolled her eyes back in animal pleasure, and Sharon found herself smiling. She couldn't help it. Caprice's mane felt so incredibly soft. Sharon began to pet Caprice, scratching and stroking her. This was the nicest thing that had happened all day. Her mind drifted, as she ran her fingers through the luxurious mane.
"What's your name?" Sharon was startled out of her sudden reverie. "Sh...Sharon." She had seen ponies before, of course, they were everywhere now, and during her last two weeks there had always been some in the cafeteria when she had come in with Tyler, but she'd never actually talked to any of them. She'd been too... busy... with Tyler instead.
"Do you know what I love best about being a pony, Sharon?" Caprice said the words dreamily, as if Sharon's constant petting had put her half to sleep.
"N-no." Sharon scratched behind Caprice's ear. She'd read in stories that ponies liked that sort of thing.
"I know that one day, I will get to live in Equestria, where it is always green, and beautiful, and safe - where everypony is kind, and gentle and takes care of each other. That's the rule in Equestria, and everypony follows it." Caprice opened her eyes and turned her head slightly in Sharon's lap, just enough to look at her a little better. "Do you know what the saddest thing about being a pony is?"
Sharon shook her head.
"Not having been able to have been born there. Not having been able to grow up there, surrounded by kind and gentle ponies, knowing love and beauty every single day. I would give anything if I could have just been born there from the start. Anything." Caprice had slowly raised her head while she said this. The look in her eyes, as she finished, was one of such intense sorrow that it shook Sharon from her own grief and made her want to hug the poor peach-colored pony forever and ever.
"I am so...grateful... to have been allowed to be what I am now. I have never been happier or more content in all of my days. I am just so... grateful." Caprice stretched forward and kissed Sharon gently on the cheek. Then she walked carefully back to Alexi, and sat down on her pillow at their low table.
Alexi stared for a little while at Caprice, who was still intent on the girl sitting with Lynn. The girl and Lynn talked for a moment. The girl looked back at Caprice, across the Cafeteria. Caprice smiled and nodded. Lynn and the girl got up, and headed in the direction of the Conversion Room.
Caprice got up, and suddenly Alexi felt a kiss on his own cheek. "Thank you for a lovely evening, Alexi." Alexi had no idea what to say. "I think I will go ask Bethany about what room I am to stay in. I'm a tired little pony!" Caprice gave a soft giggle, and trotted off, with more confidence this time.
Alexi sat at the table. He finished the apple. It was such a good apple. Maybe the best apple he had ever had.
"I mean it, Doctor. I want to be converted." Sharon was already undressing, Lynn had explained the basic procedure to the girl on the way, in answer to her questions.
"I am glad to hear it, of course, but I am curious what changed your mind." Dr. Pastern had found Sharon to be allergen type B; she poured the right dose for her body weight into the last remaining white cup.
"Caprice talked to me. I like Caprice. I hope we can be friends on the other side."
"The... other side?" Pastern was unsure what she meant.
"The other side of the Barrier. In Equestria. Where I want my... foal... to grow up." Lynn helped Sharon up on the conversion table.
Sharon lay on her side. She put a hand to her belly. "We'll run together. Through the trees. On green grass. You'll know what flowers really look like." The teen smiled. "We're ready when you are, Doctor."
The Erlenmeyer flask now had 21 ounces remaining. Dr. Pastern carefully stirred the white cup in her gloved hand with a glassine rod. The viscous, purple liquid swirled and sparkled in the light. "Drink this, Sharon, all up, and then lay back down."
Sharon sipped the cup. "It tastes like grape soda. Only bad." Pastern motioned for her to finish it. "All of it, you have to drink it all, right now."
Sharon made a face, but finished the cup. "All gone." She announced.
Sharon's eyes fluttered as she lay back. "Be sure and tell Capri..." With that, she was unconscious.
The stages of ponification went normally during the fifteen minutes of Sharon's conversion, except for one anomaly; her abdomen became markedly distended for a while. Dr. Pastern and Lynn had seen this happen during the conversions of other pregnant women; Pastern had theorized that it likely represented a temporary increase in amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus, allowing more room for a secondary conversion process to occur. Lynn was of the opinion that it was a pseudo antigenic swelling response caused by some temporary confusion in the nanomachines as they determined what constituted the difference between parent and offspring, but the fact is that nobody really knew. It had been documented, there was no official consensus; there had been no funding allocated to study the phenomena.
Sharon's coat began to grow in. Lynn had offered that Sharon would almost certainly be an earth pony, she had spent the most time with the girl, so Pastern had no basis with which to disagree. But Roselyn didn't like a no-contest game of 'pick the pony' so she chose unicorn, just to be different.
Sharon ended up a bright orange pegasus with a straight-haired shiny black mane and tail. "She looks like Pokey! Except for the wings, of course." Offered Lynn.
"Pokey?" Dr. Pastern had no idea what the reference was about.
"From 'Gumby'? Old 2D show from before the collapse? They recently brought it back for the sixth time, as a holoseries? Orange pony made of clay?" Lynn rolled her eyes. Pastern didn't keep up with popular media.
"Oh, yeah, of course. Pooky. Yeah." It was clear Ros had no clue, but Lynn wasn't going to press the issue.
It was almost nine in the evening before Pony Sharon woke up. The anesthesia had strongly affected the poor girl, more than expected. Roselyn made a mental note to document that fact, later. Because of this, she decided to scan the newfoal, just to make sure everything was fine, which, as expected, it was. Pastern liked to be thorough. Not a bad trait in a doctor, Lynn thought to herself.
Sharon was filled with amazement upon awakening. She laughed at her orange hooves. She seemed disappointed in her mane, though. She had wanted to be all bright colors. Lynn suggested that Equestria probably had beauty parlors, and that she could dye her mane. If not, they certainly had magic, so anything might be possible.
There was a clop at the door. Lynn opened it to find Caprice in the corridor. "I wanted to check on my friend."
"She just woke up...how did you know? She's been out quite a while." Lynn was intrigued by the timing.
"I just... felt it was time to check on her. Hi there, little cutie!" Caprice's attention was now entirely on the still groggy newfoal. "What a beautiful, dramatic mane and tail! Wow!"
"You really think so?" Pony Sharon tried to focus on Caprice with turquoise eyes.
"Gorgeous, little filly. You'll turn the heads of all the stallions. I don't have a chance!" Sharon giggled at that. "Guess what, little pony?"
"What?" Sharon had discovered her wings and was staring at them in astonishment "I'm... I'M AN ANGEL!"
"Yes! Yes you are!" Caprice grinned up at Sharon on the table. "You're also my roommate! How about that! I've got an angel for a roommate!" Caprice did a sort of a little dance in place, clopping her hooves on the floor. "Heya, angel pony!"
Sharon laughed in delight. "I need a pony name! Will you help me, Caprice?"
"Of course. But first you need to learn how to walk. Later, we can think up names. Or maybe tomorrow. I've been kind of sleepy ever since my own conversion this afternoon. I had a cuddly little nap after dinner, but.."
"You were converted today, like in this day, today today?" Sharon was goggle-eyed.
"Yup! I was just before you. Happiest day of my life!" Caprice beamed at Dr. Pastern, and Lynn.
"I... I thought you had been a pony for a long time already!"
Caprice nuzzled Sharon's dangling hoof. "That's the second nicest thing I've heard all day. Thank you."
"What was the first?" Lynn was ever curious.
"Oh... that's kind of private." Caprice was blushing as she peeked up through her peach mane.