The stallion was a rich, dark, royal purple, the color that kings of Earth once had coveted, the hue of the last shade of twilight just before enshrouding night. His mane was a striking gold that shimmered as he trotted to the podium, a shining mane and tail that any ancient, Earthly emperor would have sacked a nation to possess. His hooves shone like jewels as he slammed them loudly against the wooden stand like twin gavels.
"ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT already! Settle down! Settle down!" The dark purple pegasus stamped a hind hoof down for additional emphasis. The six ponies in the audience fell silent, their stories and anecdotes and catching-up put on hold. One of the ponies quickly scarfed down the last of his meal of oatburgers and hay fries, which he had brought in a little woven basket from the oatburger stand. He reminded himself to take the basket back.
"LOOK AT ME!" The shimmery dark purple stallion suddenly dropped to all four hooves from the podium and ambled to the right, showing off his flank side, neck turned so that his eyes remained fixed on the six ponies attending. "LOOK... at what they did to me! Look, really LOOK... at the horror of what I have become!"
The golden light from the firefly lanterns rippled down his muscular body, gleaming from his dark indigo coat. He tossed his mane, to get the long, luxurious strands out of his eyes, and the locks poured like liquid gold across his withers. His strong barrel and powerful hocks seemed larger than life on the small stage. His tail was like a waterfall of riches, his hooves shining perfection. "All of us - each one of us - has suffered just the same as me. We're all VICTIMS of CELESTIA!"
"YEAH!" It was Wooden Chair, just 'Chair' to his friends - he hated the nickname 'Woody'. He was a carpenter, originally from Foalsburg, but recently moved to Canterlot. "I used to have a decent job on Earth! I used to be somebody - NOT somepony!"
A chorus of hoots and hollers offered support and sympathy to the strikingly muscular emerald stallion who had stood up.
"I worked hard in a HUMAN shop for HUMAN wages and I had a HUMAN body! I was a human man, and MAN was I HUMAN!"
The hoots became louder and were joined with not a few stomps of hooves.
"I had my drinking problem under control - I drank, and my problems went away!"
The hoots were surpassed by the hollers now, much to the surprise of the hoots.
"I had the best girls that money could buy!"
The hoof stomps were drowned out by whistles and cat-calls.
"But then THEY came, and hosed me down! Me, and everypony... I mean EVERYBODY" Raucous cheers met his correction "Everybody in my sweatshop, and when I woke up, I WAS A PONY!"
Comforting noises filled the large community auditorium. Six pony voices offered their condolences.
"And what do I have now? I was a cheap press-board factory carpenter on earth, and NOW I WORK WITH WOOD! Real... highest quality... wood. I used to get paid in credits, now what do I get? GOLD! I get paid in small... rather beautiful GOLD COINS! What kind of madness IS THAT? I spent my money on booze and cheap whor... whooorrr... prost... prosss... FLOOZIES and what did I end up with? A EXQUISITELY BEAUTIFUL, LOVING MARE THAT WORSHIPS ME AND TWO ADORABLE FOALS THAT CALL ME DAD?" Tears came to the mahogany-colored earthpony. He wiped his muzzle with a manicured hoof. "What kind of a life is THAT?" The carpenter pony sat down, comforted by those on either side.
"HEAR! HEAR!" Payne, the royal purple pegasus at the podium, had refused to take an Equestrian name. It was an act of defiance, and defiance was something he was good at. He figured it had something to do with his namesake, one of the founders of an old nation that had been called 'America', once. His last name was Payne... he had originally been named 'Thomas' Payne. Because of his coloration, he had been convinced to take the first name 'Royal', but he had clung to his Earthly family name as a personal protest. "I have brought you together, all of you, because I wanted you to hear the story of my friend, Chair."
Royal took to the podium again, rearing up so that his forehooves could rest on the top of the stand. "Chair's story is a common one. I'm sure every pony here..." Royal cocked his head, then shook it. "Every PERSON here, can relate to it. We are the ones that never signed up for any of this. We never went to a Conversion Bureau, we never asked to be ponies! Maybe it was the PER..."
A murmur came up from two of the six ponies in the audience. One of them was Chair, himself.
"Maybe it was the WorldGovernment performing Emergency Civilian Mass Conversions!" Royal spoke the last in as growling and scary a voice as he could, referring to the desperate spraying of entire populations when it became clear that time was running out. Three ponies in the audience murmured at this, followed by a complete six-pack of murmuring as all realized their commonality.
"What I am about to say to you is not for the faint of flank!" Royal stared at the assembled ponies "It is my intention to form a group, a clan, a tribe, a.... um.... group.."
"You said that one already" Offered Hot Topic, helpfully. Topic was a reporter for the society section of the Canterlot Querier, a newspaper dedicated to fringe issues and celebrity gossip. He had become a fairly famous, if not universally respected celebrity in his own right.
"How about 'Society?' We could be a society!" It was Golden Showers, the first Newfoal millionaire. He had made his bits selling shower-heads to Equestria. Oddly, the native Equestrians had never invented the shower, but had relied on baths and hot-tubs. Showers had been a Celestia-send to the hard-working ponies of the new world, and the success had showered the former human in real gold. He lived in a mansion in Canterlot, and was known for his amazing soirees - and for what was possibly the finest collection of aged cider in the whole of Equestria.
"Oh! I like that! How about the 'Angry Newfoal Society!" The silver unicorn that had offered this was a well known critic of plays and musicals in Canterlot. He had taken the name Argent, and he was the toast of high society, and the bane of aspiring authors.
"No... no... we can't use 'angry'. It just isn't true!" Thunder Road was a bright red pegasus with a pale yellow mane. She had risen to a position of prominence as the fastest carriage ride in the Canterlot area. She was also noted for her incredible lightning-storm tours, which had a six-month waiting list even for the Canterlot elite. The manager of the Wonderbolts had contacted her about possibly providing special transport accommodations for their guests, but she hadn't responded yet. "Let's face it, everypony,"
"EveryBODY!" the other five shouted in unison.
"Body. Everybody. Sorry. It's so hard, you know?"
All the ponies in the room nodded in grumbling agreement.
"EveryBODY," She continued "the fact is that when we were altered - without our permission -" a chorus of upset voices erupted briefly "we were left without the ability to even GET truly angry. I mean, I can get angry, real angry, just not HUMAN angry. I can't work up a good, serious HATE for ANYTHING anymore!"
This really got the rest nodding and even produced two hoots.
"Try as I might, the best I can do is a light acrimony, and that JUST WON'T DO!" Loud nickers and whinnies showed that she was not alone in her frustration.
"Alright, Alright..." Royal began putting things together in his head "If not 'angry' - then what are we? Miffed? Indignant? Wrathful?"
"Oh, not wrathful. That's worse than angry!" Thunder Road scolded.
"ADAMANT!" Bucket practically shouted the word, proud of himself. Unlike the others, Bucket was not wealthy or successful at all. He pulled dung carts on the lowest tier of Canterlot, transporting them to the mulch center downwind.
"Oh, 'Adamant' is... adequate." Argent pondered briefly, hoof to muzzle. "I think it needs to be modified a bit, in deference to the point brought up by our dear Thunder, here." Thunder smiled at that. Argent nodded back. "I am thinking... we should add the term 'reasonable'... no... 'reasonably'. Yes! Reasonably. Reasonably Adamant!"
"It's PERFECT!" Thunder Road was very pleased and did a little pony prance with her hooves, which three of the stallions found delightful. Argent had... different tastes.
Royal looked at his hooves. His accursed, polished, perfect hooves. "Very well, then... we're the Reasonably Adamant.... what? What do we want here, really? How to put it...."
"Justice! We want justice!" Golden Showers was excited, getting into the swing of things. He raised a hoof over his head "We want... the perpetrators to be... um... sorry!" Golden looked befuddled, noting his own human drive for bloody, brutal vengeance missing, replaced by a watered-down milk-toasty impulse to simply correct sorrows and fix problems. It was terrible and awful to be forced to be thoughtful when, on Earth, he had been used to destroying lessers and laughing at their plight.
"I'd like them taken down a peg." Bucket mournfully sighed.
"THAT'S IT!" Royal was grinning with an almost naughty feeling of rebellion within him. "And WHO is ultimately responsible?"
Five pairs of incredibly beautiful eyes stared at him, devoid of answers.
"CELESTIA! She's responsible for everything! She's a bloody great GODDESS, after all!"
The room nodded as one and waited, expectantly, both eager and afraid of the obvious.
Royal stood as tall as he could on his back legs, a terribly unnatural feeling now."DOWN WITH CELESTIA!!!"
Five ponies gasped, despite knowing what was coming. Thunder Road giggled nervously. So did Argent.
"How about this, then... I call to order the first meeting of the... um..." Royal scrambled to put all the pieces together in his head. His tall, elegant ears flicked about while he concentrated. "The.... The Reasonably Adamant Down with Celestia Newfoal Society!"
At that, the rest of the ponies in the room sidestepped hooting and went directly to cheers, with the occasional whoop for good measure. The name was a rousing success, and with it their identity and purpose as an organization had been established.
"Ok..." Bucket looked up morosely. Bucket always looked up morosely. "What do we actually do?"
Five pairs of sparkling, inhumanly lovely eyes stared down at the dung-cart pony with mild, but not unkindly disdain. It was such an utterly inappropriate question. It quite ruined the mood.
"Things!" Royal stated with an authority born from being the former CEO of the Worldgovernment Propaganda and Infotainment Ministry. "Clever... crafty... things." The word was dripping with intrigue and skullduggery "Things that... Celestia will never suspect. Things that will bring her down a notch, things that will make her aware of our suffering!"
Bucket thought for a moment. "What do we get outta that, once she understands? Earth is gone. Do we get bits? Is this like a lawsuit?" Thoughts of not having to pull a dung cart began to lift Bucket's spirit.
"Oh! No no no no... nothing so crass as... bits." Golden Showers made a mental note to have his third butler attend him at the next session, to fluff the silken pillow he was forced to sit on in this... meeting... place. "We seek... what do we seek, anyway?" Golden turned his exquisitely coiffed head first one way and then another, looking for some clue.
"Public recognition of the suffering of Newfoals!" Thunder Road sat back and folded her forelegs.
"An apology! A FORMAL apology - for the loss of our planet and for rescuing us against our will!" Argent gave his best 'serious' look, the one with the eyebrows low and the sneer on the muzzle. He had practiced it for weeks. It was perfect. It had floored them at the opening of 'The Ponies Of Penzance'.
"Actually, that was kind of the world government that did the converting that saved us. And the PER. Celestia herself always made it clear that conversion was a free choice." Chair was surprised at the dirty looks. It was nevertheless true.
Hot Topic glared through narrowed, furtive eyes all around the room. "Celestia had more to do with everything than anypony knows."
"EVERYBODY!" Five ponies shouted as one.
"FINE!" Topic glared with wide eyes now, a different glare, but it was still pretty glarey. "The point is... she DID!"
"Did what?" Bucket was confused now.
"Have more... to do... had more.... SHE WAS INVOLVED SOMEHOW!" Topic turned away, breathing moderately heavily.
"I want... my ability to... think mean thoughts back!" Golden Showers had been one of the ruling elite on Earth, now he was only just unimaginably wealthy by Equestrian standards. But what truly hurt was that his vast success had only benefited all of those under him, and every day was filled with congenial ponies getting orders done on time and within budget. On Earth he had enjoyed crushing competition and squashing upstarts... but here no such thing existed. He had become the Royal Shower Maker to the Crown. There was no higher achievement possible. It was a disaster, and he couldn't even plot revenge for it.
"I want... PRESS-BOARD!" Chair wasn't the least annoyed at making the highest quality furniture for Equestria's elite. But it was the principle of the thing.
"I demand... uh... SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER THEATRE!" Argent was a little stumped. He knew he was dissatisfied, despite his great success as a critic, but... he wasn't sure what it was that he was upset about.
"Argent..." Royal hesitated, but pressed on "...That's not... really... I mean, plays and shows have always varied in quality and..."
Argent hung his head, crimson mane falling softly across his delicate and handsome silvern features "Very well. Then let me say that... I want whatever it is that I want.... and I want it now."
"That will do." Royal sighed.
"I have something to want." Thunder Road tossed her yellow curls. "I want Earth back!"
"What?" The group was incredulous.
"Well, if Celestia really is some kind of deity, she can put our planet back. Or recreate it. Or... I don't know. Make things the way they were!" Thunder humphed. It wasn't unreasonable was it?
"I think that's a little unreasonable, Thunder." Royal was starting to get the beginnings of a headache. "If she could have stopped Equestria from crashing into Mundis, don't you think she would have? It would have saved her having to take in nineteen billion refugees."
"They say only eight billion actually made it." Bucket looked down. Bucket always looked down. He pulled a dung cart. Of course he looked down.
Five pairs of eyes of incomparable loveliness glared slightly harshly at the tan earthpony.
Royal considered for a moment. "Thunder... in wanting the Earth back, do you really mean that you want your human body back? Is that it?" It had to be it. Royal felt like quite the amateur psychologist with this insight.
"No, sweet Luna, no. That isn't it at all. I can fly now. I can fly really, really well. FLIGHT. Under my own power. On Earth I was just this really fat girl with pimples and bad knees. I could barely waddle down the sweets aisle. Now I can eat all the pie and cake I want, look perfectly trim, and fly faster than the wind. I can MAKE the wind. No. No way am I giving up this baby." Thunder Road wiggled her flanks and gave her right wing a kiss.
"Oh." Royal tried not to stare at those shapely haunches that... no. He was a human, or at least he had been, and he should like human girls, even if there weren't any anymore. "Then what do you want, then, if getting the Earth back isn't likely?"
"I don't... know. Something..." The bright red pegasus mare stared off, unsure but somehow empty. Royal waited and when nothing more followed, he gave a light cough.
"Alright then, I'm with Argent." Thunder Road put on her 'tough' look "I also want whatever it is that I want." She gave Bucket a good glare. "And I want it now, too."
Bucket just mumbled, quietly. "Why not just ask for some bits? Bits are good."
Nopony heard him.