By Chatoyance

11.    Doctor My Eyes

Celestia had done... something to Issac Ellison's vault. She had insisted; despite Issac's assurances that nothing could possibly enter or exit the high security chamber. Apparently there were 'other directions' beyond the ones that were known to Man, and these had to be sealed off if Issac were to have his ten minutes with the small, gray pretender to the throne.

Issac had carefully put up a small fuss; in reality he relished the thought of free additional protection for his three billion, four hundred million Equestrian bits, all stacked in neat piles or packaged in tidy crates. It had once crossed his mind to simply spread the tiny, featureless golden coins out as one mass and swim through them; the Scrooge McDuck moment had passed quickly, but it had still made him briefly smile.

There were other items in his private security vault as well, of course; assorted relics from the history of his family, a few not entirely legal treasures that should, rightfully, exist not in private hands but in a museum, and his father's small but rather excellent gun collection. One corner held a chest from an ancestor taken by the sea, back when the oceans lived and men sailed upon it; the chest itself was a fortune even had it not held priceless relics of a less than savory member of a more adventurous time. The chest itself was buried under a mass of ancient netting and glass ball fishing floats that still smelled of salt; for all Issac knew, they might have been used for the very last catch, before the end of fish.

Issac's vault held many treasures and wonders besides Equestrian bits; now it held perhaps the strangest rarity of all; the accidental alicorn who had once been Lillian Fogarty of Surrey, Northamerizone.

Celestia had been less than happy at Issac's wish to speak with the alicorn; she had reminded him that she had the prerogative to erase the memories of all involved, especially him; that whatever he expected to learn could not be retained, and that all this would do is prolong the inevitable. She thought him cruel for this, but he had insisted, arguing that the alicorn had become his client too; she had turned to him and begged for his help when she had been transported in a burst of light to the center of his large living space. He had instantly agreed to represent her, and demanded full rights to do so.

In the end, it was Celestia's regal sister, Luna that had intervened; she had insisted that because the alicorn was a newfoal, it was proper that she have council from her own world and that in the end, it was a kindness. Besides, as long as the vault were secured properly in the higher spaces, even should her ring be removed, she would not escape before action could be taken; the alicorn had been contained, and the chase was now over.

Celestia had seemed sad; she seemed regretful about the entire situation, and had given in to her sister, thus it was that Issac Ellison now found himself inside his vault, facing the back of a softly whimpering gray alicorn, with ten minutes - to the second - allotted to speak with her, in private.

"Lillian. My name is Issac Ellison. I am here to try to help you. We have only ten minutes, and I do not know what the hell I am doing, and I have no idea whether the plan inside my head is brilliant or just fucking insane. But I do have an idea, and if you want, we can try it. In any case, in..." Issac checked his watch; he was old fashioned and had not had a permatech timepiece installed into the flesh of his forearm. "...nine minutes and twenty...two seconds, that door is going to open and Celestia is going to do something about you, and according to the rumors I have heard, it probably isn't pleasant."

The small gray alicorn sniffed and looked back, over her wing at him. "She will crystallize me. Turn me to stone. That's what she does with things she can't deal with. That is her 'compassionate' equivalent to execution. Celestia won't kill, but she will imprison. I learned that... and a lot of other things... just a while ago." The alicorn turned her head back and looked at her hooves.  Her ears drooped. "I do not want the living death of being crystallized, Issac. I would rather die than have that happen. It would probably actually be better if I died; being turned to stone is not as permanent as Celestia would like to believe. It can fail sometimes, and whatever is done with me, it needs to be permanent. I really am the threat to both worlds that Celestia has probably claimed to you."

Issac was in the back of his vault, rummaging for the items he required. "She described you as a threat to both worlds. She said you could melt the sky and destroy all human and ponykind." The key wasn't working on the locked cabinet; fortunately the cabinet was old and it never did lock effectively; one more reason it was in the vault, far from his son, Zephyr. Issac gave the thing a kick; the ancient plastic and metal door popped open.

"I'm afraid it's true. Without this ring, I could easily become a threat worse than Discord."

"Who?" Issac couldn't keep up with all the pony stuff his son brought home from school. The history of one planet was bad enough, two was just gilding the chronological lily.

"Think of me as a living, hypernuclear bomb. That is what I am. The ring on my horn might as well be the fuse."

Issac looked desperately around; he needed something small, but not too small, and it had to be smooth, and biologically neutral. "More like a nuclear grenade, then. Pull the ring and give you a toss, is that it?"

Lillian laughed. It was actually a sweet sound, despite the terrible situation. "Yup, that's me. Only when I blow up, all sides lose." Lillian's voice changed; it was no longer jovial. "Issac, I'm scared."

"So am I, Lillian. So am I; Celestia's going to have me gelded however this turns out. I'm really going to miss my balls; we've been really close for years." This made the alicorn laugh again, which was nice. Issac checked his watch: seven minutes and thirty-six seconds. Balls. Ah!

Issac took some of the spherical, hollow glass floats from the ancient fishing net piled over the old trunk. Glass was just silicon; it was mostly neutral, it was smooth, and the floats came in a multitude of sizes. Issac picked out several of the smallest ones and made his way back.

By some unearthly luck, Lillian the alicorn still sat with her back to him, facing away. Currently she was playing with her hooves, as if she were trying to memorize what it felt like to be able to move them.

"Lillian... I need you to trust me. And to answer a few questions for me. We have to work fast, we don't have a lot of time left. It would be better if you... didn't turn around either, OK?" Issac tried to load the cartridges as quietly as he could, but there was no avoiding the loud clack. "You can't die, right?, that's why Celestia plans on turning you to stone."

"Before I landed on that building, I was shot by some humans. They blew out my side. But it healed. Actually, I made it heal in an instant. But it would have healed on its own. I could be blown to pieces and the bits would crawl or teleport back and form me again. No, I cannot be killed." Lillian hung her head very low; there was no escape for her, not even death.

"You're sure of that, really sure of that?" Issac had the sawed-off shotgun ready. He placed it at his feet, where he was crouching. He carefully placed the glass floats on stacks of bits; the curious hollow sound of them caused Lillian to instinctively turn to see what had made such a strange sound. She stared at the hollow, clear spheres.

"Issac, what on earth are you up to?" Lillian goggled at the floats, she had no idea what they were. Fishing had ended forever long before she had been born. "What are these for? They're kind of pretty." And they were, like big glass soap bubbles, they shimmered in the vault lights.

Five minutes, sixteen seconds. "Listen, Lillian - I managed to learn something from Celestia. I kind of tricked it out of her. There's this thing inside your head, she called it a carbuncle. It's what makes you an alicorn. It's the problem here. If you didn't have it, you would be a normal pony." Issac put a hand on Lillian's back, feeling her soft, warm coat. He brushed it gently, trying to comfort her. "You can't die, you just grow back. So does the carbuncle. Eventually the carbuncle undergoes a change, and then you do too, and when that happens..."

"I will become like Celestia, Issac." A tear rolled down Lillian's cheek. "Only I won't be able to control my power. With a stray thought, I might destroy the world. I understand why Celestia has to do what she is doing. I really do."

"I learned that if something blocks the space the carbuncle needs, it won't grow back." Issac waited just a moment for that to sink in. In that moment, he noticed something that surprised him very much indeed. The glass floats were doing just that; floating, just above the stack of Equestrian coins. The transparent spheres were bobbing as if they were immersed in some invisible sea. There was no glow around them, as would be the case if a unicorn were levitating them. They simply hung in the air the way that ordinary objects never did.

"Are you doing that, Lillian?" Issac gave one of the floats an experimental poke with his finger. It felt like prodding a superconductor hovering over a maglev plate.

Lillian turned her head to look towards Issac, but noticed the glass balls immediately. "No. Not consciously, anyway." She thought for a moment. "My ring feels warm. On my forehead. Would you check it?" The alicorn sounded even more frightened.

Issac moved Lillian's cornsilk mane away with one hand and looked at the base of her horn. The silver ring appeared strangely rusted, as though it were not silver, but iron. Issac brought his other hand in to touch the ring, then thought better of it and pulled his hand back. "The ring is... it's not good. It looks like it's disintegrating. Slowly, but... it's falling apart." Grains of corrupted metal were flaking off as Issac watched. It was starting to look like a stomach tablet dissolving in water. "I don't think we have..." Issac checked his watch again "... five minutes and twenty-two seconds. Your fuse is going to go off before that, I think"

Lillian turned her head suddenly and forcefully away. She stared straight ahead, her back rigid. "Issac, do whatever it is you think you can do. You can't kill me, and right now I don't care if you hurt me, if there is any chance at all do it. Otherwise get Celestia in here immediately. I need to... not think of anything, anything at all. Hurry!"

Issac picked up the shotgun. It was an old, shiny black Benelli Super Vinci comfortech, 12-gauge, top of the line. Shame his old man had sawed the damn thing off. Unaltered, it would have been a masterpiece. Then again, for what Issac needed it for, it was, as Benelli had once advertised itself, perfect. "Lillian, I'm not a surgeon, but then we couldn't take you to a hospital or a veterinarian or whatever in any case so...."

"Shh." Lillian was clearly struggling, more objects in the vault were now hanging in space; a cloud of bits was orbiting each other like some vastly complex alien star-system, or a magical orrery. That such marvelous synchronization could occur from the alicorn's unconscious, behind her and absent from her vision and concentration was both wondrous and somewhat terrifying. "Just do it. Quickly!"

The ring on Lillian's head was red now, like melting metal. It made hissing and squeaking noises as the metal strained against the titanic forces opposing it. There was no time for niceties any more.

Issac didn't like guns; that was his old man's thing. If he could solve something without a gun, Issac would always choose just that. He never carried; it was insulting to him to feel that he could not think his way out of any predicament, rather than having to resort to force.

But that did not mean he could not use a gun. His military father had insisted on that, and there was no practical way to tell the gruff man 'no' on much of anything. Issac quickly put on the earplugs he had taken, into his ears. Lillian... she wouldn't need earplugs.

Four minutes, three seconds. But the ring on Lillian's head looked like things could go tits-up at any moment. Issac briefly wondered what being destroyed by a mad god would be like. Not fun, he decided.

There was nothing for it. Issac raised the Benelli and aimed it at the back of Lillian's head. Right between her ears, slightly lower down, where the base of her horn would be, on the other side. He angled the short barrel to around 45 degrees. Suddenly he thought more clearly, and quickly sat, tailor-fashion on the floor. He didn't want to end up ass-over-teakettle from the kickback.

Issac braced himself and re-aimed. The ring was sending up sparks, now; it must be burning the poor filly. Lillian let out a soft gasp. There was no other option but Celestia's living death in stone. There probably wasn't time enough even for that, now.

A single tear rolled down Issac Ellison's cheek. He pulled the trigger.

Lillian's body did not slump over. It just remained there, the top of the head missing from the level of the jawline up. What had once been the upper three-quarters of her skull was somewhere behind the largest stack of coins, the ones in crates. It had hit the wall, that was very, horrifically obvious; there was a trail where the meat of it had slid down the wall of the vault, behind the crates. Issac was glad he didn't have to see the remains.

The instant he had pulled the trigger, the orrery of coins had fallen, likewise the floating glass balls had dropped back to the stacks of coins. Even with the earplugs his ears rang; the confines of the sealed vault had exacerbated the volume of the shotgun.

Something caught Issac's eye. Just as he had expected, the torn edges of what was left of Lillian's skull were pulsing and rising. Issac carefully rose to one knee, placing the gun on the floor after adjusting the safety. What was left of the alicorn's head looked like a shallow punchbowl filled with cherries jubilee, only the edges of the punchbowl were growing, and the red mass inside was growing in volume.

Lillian was growing back. She was doing so very rapidly.

Within a matter of seconds, Issac saw the beginnings of her eyes swelling out of the red muck, expanding to fill the boney sockets rising like curving fortress walls as he watched. It was like observing ice melting in reverse, only sped up. Already, half of the missing top of Lillian's head had grown back. It would take less than two minutes for her entire skull to be restored.

Three minutes and three seconds before the vault was opened. Issac looked away from his old watch to the glass fishing floats. He selected two, one about the size of an apricot, the other about the size of an apple. He wasn't sure when he should do this. The carbuncle would probably be the last thing to form, since it would be nearest the top, according to Celestia, and right under the horn.

Lillian's eyes were complete. They were staring straight ahead, as if focused on infinity itself. They looked cold and filled with some unearthly, arcane wisdom beyond human understanding. Issac felt a chill run down his spine, and the little hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Those were the eyes of some elder god, some power from beyond time and above space. Issac leaned back, so he would not have to stare into the eyes of a superior, unearthly intelligence.

Lillian's head now resembled a jack-o-lantern, the hole at the top filling in. The reconstruction had not yet reached where her horn would be, though part of her ears was just starting to form. Now. Now was the time.

Issac selected the larger globe and thrust it in. He pushed down gingerly into the red and gray muck bubbling and squirming inside the regenerating skull. The muck grew up and over the glass sphere. Dammit, he had placed it too deeply.

The hole in Lillian's skull was growing smaller. Her ears grew out like leaves unfolding in a fast-motion nature show. Issac began to see the beginning of a plate forming, one that could support her horn. He jammed the second, smaller glass float into the skull, but did not push it down. Gray and pink material surrounded it almost instantly. He had to struggle to get his hand out; if the edges of the bone were not slippery and soft, he might well have found himself a conjoined not-twin.  

There was nothing to do now but wait and hope. Lillian's skull continued to close. When it had finally sealed completely, the last of her coat springing up to cover her bare head in soft gray, and her mane spooling out in cornsilk splendor, Issac struggled up, the better to see if her horn would grow back. If it did, all would be lost; there was no binding ring anymore, and he did not know if he had time to open the vault to call for Celestia before Lillian woke up.

Issac felt the top of Lillian's now restored head. It was flat. It was mercifully flat. Flat as the skull of an earth pony, flat as any normal pegasus. There was no sign of a horn. No sign at all. Not the slightest bump.

Issac slumped down, against the vault door. He removed his earplugs and cast them aside. His ears itched. They always itched from those damn earplugs. Issac used a finger and waggled it inside his ear canal. Ah... that was better.

The time. What was the...

The vault door opened suddenly, glowing with golden light. Issac fell onto his back, as he fell his head hit the floor. Ow. He found himself staring up into the eyes and muzzle of Celestia, who looked at him quizzically.

"Celestia!" Issac nearly shouted. "Stop! Lillian isn't an alicorn anymore! She is no threat to anyone! Honestly! Look for yourself!" Issac didn't have a freaking clue if this was actually true, but he'd be damned - after using a shotgun on a helpless filly - if he would allow her less than a decent chance at her new life.

Celestia stared for some time at the quiet gray pegasus in the vault. Issac, still on his back, stared up at the underside of Celestia's long, white neck. He could see the gold necklace - or was it armor? - around the base, the violet gem ensconced in the middle. On either side of his ears were gold-shod hooves. Celestia was huge, standing larger than Issac - and Issac was a tall man - but from the level of the floor, she looked like a giant.

Suddenly, Issac worried that she might get forgetful and step on him. He decided to roll to the side and stand up.

When Issac was on his feet again, he found Celestia had not moved. Luna was by her side, both were carefully studying the new, gray pegasus. Issac felt a tickle inside himself, somewhere; he suspected that the princesses were examining the pegasus with more than just their eyes. He had felt that tickle before, when he had visited the proximity of the Equestrian barrier. It was the burning tickle of thaumatic radiation.

"Dad?" Zephyr was peeking around the corner into the hallway that led to the vault. "Are you OK? Is the alicorn going to be OK? What's going on?" The indigo colt started to approach, but Issac held up his hand. "Dad?"

"My little pony..." Celestia addressed the apparent pegasus "Do you..."

The gray pegasus tried to stand up and turn around at the same time. Her forelegs managed to knock over several carefully stacked piles of coins which tumbled to the floor of the vault with a musical clatter. Her hindlegs accidentally kicked over three more stacks, which set off a chain reaction of musical clinking and clattering. Issac realized with some discomfort that he might have his Scrooge McDuck moment after all.

Finally the gray and yellow pegasus stood facing Celestia, Luna, and Issac. And Zephyr, who had crept up beside his father. Issac looked down and shrugged. Hopefully his son wouldn't notice the red, slick splotch on the far wall of the vault until he had time to have it cleaned.

The pegasus tried to buck with excitement but instead managed to knock over a crate. As the crate spilled its contents on the floor of the vault, the little winged filly settled down and looked sad. "Sorry."

Suddenly, she brightened. "Hello! Who are you? Can we be friends?" As Issac watched, one eye drifted down while the other remained fixed on Celestia. The rogue eye seemed to focus on Zephyr. The filly giggled. "You're big! and you're indigo!" She giggled again. Apparently she was referring to Celestia and Zephyr at the same time. She tried to take a step forward, but her hooves slipped on the loose coins and she landed on her rump with a thud. "Ow! Oopsie!" This caused another round of giggles.

Zephyr looked up at his father. "She's... She's kind of derpy now, dad."

Issac started to reprimand his son for his rude, but accurate, observation when Luna suddenly spoke up.

"She is indeed Derpy! We know this filly! We knoweth her from Nightmare Night of last year in Equestria! This cannot be; sister, thou knowest thy subjects well, is this one not already known to thee?"

The little yellow maned pegasus stared suddenly, with both eyes focused, on princess Luna. She tilted her head, as if considering what the princess had said. "Muffin?" she asked.

"This is beyond even me, my sister. I know this pegasus well. This is the one named Derpy Ditzy Doo Hooves of Ponyville. I have known her for many years; she is a native child of Equestria, or so I have always believed." Celestia was nothing less than astonished; Issac reflected that it was not often a man got the chance to see a living goddess being astonished.

"I knew her great grandmare in earlier times, before the founding of Ponyville. And her great, great, great grandmare in the days of Middle Canterlot. All of her kin looked the identical image of her, with eyes unbound and hair of soft yellow. And all bore the same unique cutie mark; a cluster of bubbles on the flank." Celestia's eyes were wide, yet her pupils were small. This was something beyond even the ruler of an entire cosmos. "Yet as I encompass her, there is no doubt. This is indeed our own little Derpy Ditzy Doo Hooves. I do not know how she can be here, yet have lived her life in Equestria. I must know..."

Celestia raised her horn high, and a bright, shining glow emanated from it. "Derpy is not in Equestria. She is here alone. This is her, and she is... here."

Suddenly, Issac found himself the object of Celestia's attentions. "You have overstepped our agreement, Issac Ellison. I should have expected such treachery from a human. I have no idea what you have done with your violent effort to save this one, and if that does not terrify you, I assure you it should." The look in Celestia's eyes made Issac feel very afraid indeed, but not for himself, he could tell she meant him no harm. Rather, he could see concern, even fear in those great eyes; something was going on, something cosmic, that was beyond the scope of a cosmic entity. Issac felt the way he had when long ago, in his childhood, he had climbed to the top of a ruined building only to find he had no idea how to get down again.

"Is princess Celestia mad at you?" Zephyr was worried for his father.

"I... don't know, son." Issac sat down in the hallway, his back to the wall. He put a hand on his son's withers, just above the wings. "I'm not sure what is going on."

The newly formed pegasus stepped forward and walked past Celestia and Luna to stop in front of Issac and Zephyr. "Hello!" She said. "There was something I wanted to tell you." Lillian's... no, this wasn't exactly Lillian anymore... Luna and Celestia had called her Derpy. The pegasus's eyes rolled in her head as she tried to remember. "Oh!" She said suddenly. She leaned forward, her muzzle close to Issac's ear. She spoke softly to him, in a very faint whisper for a while. "WAIT! she suddenly shouted.

Issac cradled his ear, the shout had hurt quite a bit.

Derpy giggled and turned to Celestia. "I FORGOT!"

Celestia laughed at this. "Very well, little one. Whatever has happened here tonight, I am convinced that all danger has passed. In time, I may find a way to unravel this matter but for now, let us get you..."

A cry came from the vault. It sounded like a baby.

All eyes, fixed and unfixed, turned to stare into Issac's vault. The crying continued, louder now.

Luna stepped forward into the vault, glancing back briefly at her sister. Some time passed, and the crunchy sound of hooves on coins was heard. Then a gasp. More crying and then more crunching.

When Luna returned from the vault, Issac saw that she had a tiny foal suspended in her magical grasp. She set the tiny infant down on the floor. It was a newborn. A newborn unicorn.

The infant was incredibly small, pale purple-gray, but with an unmistakable cornsilk mane and tail. "Dinky." Said Celestia once again in astonishment. "Dinky Doo Hooves."

"What?" Asked Issac. "What is going on. If I am the cause of this, at least let me know what 'this' IS!"

The pegasus now known as Derpy Ditzy Doo Doo Dingle Dongle - whatever, Issac thought - raced over to the tiny newborn. "Muffin!" She cooed. "My little Muffin!" The gray pegasus began comforting the crying foal; instantly it stopped crying. Soon it was smiling and giggling, along with its... mother. That's all she could be. It wasn't just because she was acting like the tiny unicorn's mother, no, it was more than that, Issac realized.

That unicorn had literally budded off from it's parent body. Alicorns were immortal, they could heal, even if they were reduced to bits. Dinky, if that was her name as Celestia had stated, had been born from the top of Lillian's skull. The part with the horn.

Stories of ancient Greek and Roman myths spun through Issac's mind. Aphrodite, Chronos, Zeus... children of the gods born from their foreheads or from body parts tossed into the sea. Suddenly those ancient, strange stories seemed vastly more possible to Issac. What wonders had touched the earth, if only briefly, before Equestria arose from the sea? Had other worlds bumped into earth in ages past?

Dinky Doo Hooves had been born from the forehead of her mother. Her mother, who had once been a goddess.

Eventually, Issac found himself in his living room once more, seated next to his son, Zephyr. Luna had transported the new pegasus and her daughter directly to Equestria; Celestia had spoken at some length with her about trying to understand things that Issac couldn't even begin to understand.

"Issac Ellison." Uh oh. This was spankin' time. Issac was expecting a big ass whooping, and he couldn't say he didn't exactly deserve it. However, he didn't regret a thing; maybe she wasn't exactly the same Lillian Fogarty from Surrey that he had first met in that vault, but she had gotten her wish; to live as a simple mare in Equestria. And he knew, beyond any doubt, that enough of her had survived to enjoy her new life. But he would never tell Celestia how he knew. Not ever.

"You asked to speak with my subject alone, and you used that gift to take action without my consent or blessing. It is true that you spared an innocent life, and that is duly noted. But if you had been wrong in your arrogance, you would have destroyed two worlds, and potentially condemned every life within them to a nightmare of chaos or even oblivion. Do you fully grasp the terrible chance you took with the lives of every living thing?" Not even his old man could make him feel as small as Celestia now did. Issac's ass just wanted to dig into the couch like a mole, and keep digging until it had made it to the center of the earth where it could finally commit seppuku out of infinite shame.

Issac could only swallow. He didn't have what it took to cry. He wanted to, he just didn't have enough personal power for it.

Celestia stared at him for some time. Each second of that look drilled into Issac's soul like a rocket barrage; he had no armor left by the time the gaze softened.

Finally, he found something squeaky that resembled his voice. "I'm... sorry." Issac swallowed once more. "I won't ever do it again." Of course he wouldn't; a random alicorn was a once-in-forever event. But the real meaning was clear enough.

"Good." Celestia gave him one last glance to make sure the lesson sank in. His old man would do the same damn thing, Issac reflected. "Now, about your payment."

What the hell? He was still getting paid? Celestia was an odd duck. "W-What?" Issac was still having vocal problems.

"You did perform a service to the crown; though I think that your absurd price is something that a wise pony would immediately give up any expectation of."

Issac nodded. Still being alive after screwing around with the plans of goddesses was pretty good right there. That said, Issac didn't get three billion in the vault by eschewing a chance to make a profit. Some of his old self began to rise again inside him. "Princess... I don't expect billions of bits. I'm sorry for that. But... there is something that..." Issac turned to his son. "Zephyr, would you go downstairs and get me a Chromacola? You know, the machine I had installed in the lobby? I'm really thirsty. Please."

"But daaad..." Zephyr didn't want to miss out on any awesome princess time. "Now, son. Quick. Please."

Zephyr grumbled away. When the elevator doors closed, Issac turned to Celestia again.

"My son's birthday is coming up. He's had a rough life, and I try to be a good father, but... I want to do something really special for him. Something that will impress his friends at school, something that might help him have friends and..."

Celestia smiled. "Let me guess; you can't find a way to contact the Wonderbolts?"

* * * * *

Derpy Ditzy Doo Hooves was having a particularly good day. It had been many months now since... whatever had happened had... happened. For a while, she had gotten to stay with the princesses in Canterlot, her little foal Dinky had run the marble halls and they had enjoyed a fine time. It was very nice of the nice princesses to have them over.

During the stay at the castle, Derpy had been asked many strange things that she couldn't answer, and shown strange pictures that didn't make sense. The nice Princesses seemed to think she had relatives she couldn't remember, maternal ancestors that all looked exactly like her, even down to her unique cutie mark. She didn't remember having a grandmare who lived in Canterlot before Ponyville had been settled, and who had somehow helped save the settlers during the great timberwolf incident. She definitely didn't remember any story about a great, great, great grandmare who had somehow been partially responsible for the peace pact with the dragon lands in the days of Middle Canterlot. And there were other ancestors too, one that had lived back during the first years after the defeat of Discord. Always they had been around some important event, unlike her.

But that was OK. Derpy liked her quiet, gentle life very much. All she wanted was here; her house, her little Muffin, and all her friends, which was the whole town. Everypony liked Derpy. The princesses said so.

Derpy kept trying to remember to invite the princesses over to her own home, to return the kindness, but she kept forgetting. She forgot a lot of things, and sometimes it made otherponies upset with her, but it was alright. She still had lots of friends, and she knew she was an important part of the community.

After all, she got to do more different jobs than any other pony. Sometimes she got to help Bruiser move things with his moving company. Other times she helped out in construction. During holidays she helped out when they needed more mailmares to deliver packages. And she always got to go fetch the Southern birds at Winter Wrap Up. The princess had told her that she was a Special Case and that she would always be hired wherever she asked. It was a royal decree.

Of course, once she was hired, she did such a good job that pretty soon the job was all done and she would have to move on to a new job. It was good to feel so helpful!

The princesses made sure that Derpy always had a little money no matter what. It was a special dispen... dispanse... it was a prize for something she had done once that had helped them. There was always food in her house, and her house was always warm. And best of all, she had lots and lots of time with her beloved little muffin, Dinky. They would make cakes and oatmeal cookies and sing songs and have lots of fun almost every day. Derpy loved her life very much.

But occasionally, things would get even better! That's when her special friend came to town. Derpy loved her special friend very much. He was always so nice to little Dinky, and they had such fun together. She could tell when he was coming because of the sound. The sound came and then the fun began again.

Derpy was galloping now, because she had heard the sound. The strange wheezing, scraping sound, like a key dragged slowly across the string inside a piano. She wanted to greet her special friend. He must be back!

Derpy ran down the lane, towards her house. Her special friend always showed up near there. He said it was because it was a special place...  or was it because she was special? She couldn't remember. She did forget a lot of things. But it didn't matter, because nopony cared. She felt loved, and that was all that mattered.

Her little muffin was in school. That was sad, because Ditsy liked meeting their special friend. But maybe he would stay for dinner. Sometimes he did. When they got back.

Derpy rounded the grove of trees at the end of the lane. There was her house. If he was here, he would be in back, as usual. That was where he put his tiny little shed. He had a really nice shed. It was small and blue and had little windows, but once you went inside it was really, really big and had all kinds of buttons and switches to play with.

Derpy rounded the house. The shed! It was here! Today was sure to be an especially fun day.

She fluttered her wings to reach the shed. The little door on the front opened, and her special friend ambled out. He was a soft, light brown, with a messy mane and tail, and a little hour-glass for a cutie mark.

Yes, today was going to be a really fun day.

* * * * *

Zephyr was finally in bed. It had taken forever to get the little indigo pegasus calmed down enough to get him into his Wonderbolt PJs; even longer to get him settled enough to even attempt sleep. It had been an exciting evening for the colt, filled with princesses and... something strange that neither of them could remember... and then somehow a pegasus filly and her newborn foal had somehow appeared in Issac's vault.

Oh yes, it was coming back to him. The Princesses had explained it. The little foal was a unicorn, and sometimes baby unicorns experienced brief moments of astonishing magical power. It was uncommon, but it happened. The little unicorn had teleported her mother and herself during the act of birth. The teleport was random, of course, because what could a newborn know of the world? They had ended up in Issac's vault.

That was why there was blood in the corner...and on the wall. It was a messy birth. That was it. Issac would need to get that cleaned up. Tomorrow. Issac felt very tired.

There was something else, too. The little pegasus mom. She was quite a klutz, as Issac remembered. Funny eyes. Issac remembered thinking she was probably retarded. That was new; he didn't think that could even happen to Equestrians. It was probably very, very rare.

She had come close. He recalled that clearly. She had come close... and whispered something in his ear. It was like, just for a moment, she had all the wisdom of the ages. It was the damnedest thing.

What had she told him? Issac tried to remember... it was something she thought was very important. Something he needed to know. Why did she think that he needed to know... whatever it was? Huh. It was a very strange night.

Somehow, Celestia had agreed to get the Wonderbolts for Zephyr's party. That was a really nice gesture on her part. Just because his vault got messy. Issac decided that the Equestrian princesses were nothing but nice. Anything for his son.

Something about that gray pegasus still was bothering him. What had she told him?

Whatever it was, it had definitely changed his mind about something he thought he would never do. Even though the constant expansion of Equestria had forced the closing of all the Conversion Bureaus on the West Coast, even though ponification serum was in short supply in the region, he knew he had to finally find a way, some way, to get Converted. It was incredibly important, he knew that now. Desperately important, because he had to be there for his son.

It was as if his very soul depended upon it.

The End

The Lost In The Herd Series:
One: The Big Respawn,
Two: Euphrosyne Unchained,
Three: Letters From Home,
Four: Teacup, Down On The Farm

The Conversion Bureau Novels:
27 Ounces: A story of eight and one half ponies
The Taste Of Grass
The Conversion Bureau: Code Majeste
The Conversion Bureau: The 800 Year Promise
The Conversion Bureau: Going Pony

The Novellas:
The PER: Michelson and Morely
The Reasonably Adamant Down With Celestia Newfoal Society!

The Short Stories:
Her Last Possession
The Conversion Bureau: PER Equitum
The Conversion Bureau: Brand New Universe
Tales Of Los Pegasus

The Non-Conversion Bureau Fanfics:
The Ice Cream Pony Summer
Around The Bend
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