Lillian remained still. She could tell that she had been converted, but all of her daydreams of waking up and enjoying her new pony body had been destroyed somehow. She could feel her four hooves, she could feel her long neck and tail, the soft coat that covered her body and kept it warm and comfortable. She had been changed. But this was not how she had imagined things at all. She wanted to cry. A small tear began to form in the tiny crack she kept open in her right eye; now her vision was blurred from it.
The door to the conversion room opened and closed. She heard the locks engaged from outside. She heard the PA, Olivia stepping about behind her as she lay on the table. Something bad was going on, something very wrong. The doctor did not mean her well, and Olivia served the doctor.
Right now, there was only one other being in the room. Lillian felt the desire to escape, to run, to leave whatever was going on. This was a chance; Olivia was the only other being in the room. She could lay here on the table and wait for doctor Treasen to return, or she could try something, anything. Panic filled Lillian's mind.
She would kick the PA as hard as she could, and then make a run for it. She would have to be fast, she would have to be smart, and she would have to act now.
Lillian whipped her head up to see where Olivia was. The room spun; she was unprepared for just how long and muscular her new neck was; she found she had overshot and managed to hurt her own flank with her jaw. Her neck hurt now, as she straightened it more carefully. Olivia spun around at the noise, a syringe in her hand.
Her hooves lashed out with far less control than she had imagined, and since Olivia was slightly to the side, Lillian found herself twisting as her kick brought her hips over the edge of the stainless steel table. Her rear legs and flank pulled the rest of her over the edge; she hit the tiled floor with a smack that made her head spin and her bones ache. Something on her side hurt very much; it felt like she had injured her arm, only she could feel all four hooves flailing aimlessly.
The syringe! She couldn't allow it to be used on her! Lillian ignored her pains and rolled as best she could to her belly and tried to launch herself to a standing position. Her uncoordinated effort threw her against the wall, where she slumped in agony; the injured arm feeling on her side, just by her shoulder was worse now. The PA, Olivia, had sprung back against the other wall, holding the syringe up as if to protect herself.
"Lillian! Wait! I'm not going to hurt you!"
Yeah, sure, she thought. Lillian tried to stand again, this time using the wall for balance. "Don't even try to come near me, I swear I will kick you!" She tried to sound as menacing as possible, but her voice sounded immature, even to her.
"I won't I swear. Look! I'm putting it down!" And she was. Olivia put the syringe on the tile and waved her empty hands.
"But the doctor!" Lillian was standing now, more or less, leaning against the wall. She had to look over her own shoulder to see the PA. It was then that she finally understood the pain in her side; she had wings. She was a pegasus pony. She must have landed wrong when she fell, and hurt her wing. It didn't feel broken, just sore. That was a relief.
"Listen, Lillian, you have to trust me. I don't want you to be hurt. I can't live with what they are going to do. I want to give you a chance to escape, but we have to act quickly, and you have to trust me, please!" The dark haired PA's voice quavered as she spoke; it was clear that she was frightened, and that she was fighting with herself over her decision to help.
"Why? Why help me?" Lillian felt fear and suspicion. Nothing made sense to her, it felt as if she were still inside a nightmare.
"There isn't time, dammit. Just trust me. I'll get you to the door. Just trust me." Olivia approached Lillian, her hands outstretched. Lillian considered trying to kick her, but then realized that she wasn't sure she could manage it. Her body was entirely new to her. She could barely stand. There was nothing for it; she would have to trust this woman.
Olivia took hold of Lillian, bent over her, she steadied the pony. "Come on, walk, try to walk, I'll keep you from falling. You have to learn to use those legs fast. Towards the door - move towards the door! That's it, keep moving. Trust in your body, I've helped a lot of newfoals. The body knows better than you do. Just let it walk, that's it, let it get you there." Olivia was babbling, but somehow it was all working, and the less Lillian tried to control her walking, the easier it seemed to be to walk. Olivia was talking with some experience here, it seemed.
They were at the door. "Stand. Just stand for a moment."
Lillian struggled for a moment, then deliberately tried to relax. Once again her body seemed to know best, and she did not fall over. She looked up to see Olivia entering a code on the active surface by the door. "I am going to get in so much trouble for this. God dammit. God dammit."
The sounds of locks disengaging rattled through the room. Olivia took hold of the massive handle on the metal door and pushed it open. The long hallway that led to the conversion room beckoned. "Lillian, listen to me carefully. You have to run, you have to find someplace to hide. You can't trust anyone. You can't go to Equestria, not ever, do you understand? You can't ever let Celestia find you. And you can't ever let the government catch you, or the HLF or the PER or... anyone! Everyone is going to be after you. If they catch you, you are dead. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
The look in Olivia's eyes was horror and pity and anger, and it drilled straight into Lillian's heart. "I... I understand."
A strange feeling filled the room. It was the damnedest thing; it was like a breeze coming from nowhere, like a light shining from a direction that no hand could point. Lillian felt as if the air pressure were increasing rapidly, only it wasn't, an electric tingle danced over her body.
"SHIT! Wait a moment!" Olivia ran to a drawer and began searching it frantically. She snatched something and ran back. Lillian's head was rudely grabbed and she felt something slammed into her forehead. It felt like Olivia had hit her somehow, only now there was a cold, hard weight above and between her eyes. "That will hide you. It's Equestrian. Now RUN!"
Lillian began to run down the hall. Her hooves threatened to skitter out from under her with every step, but somehow she remained upright. As she slammed into the side of the hall briefly, due to an error in trajectory, she glanced behind her to see a curtain of blue, lavender and teal light rippling like some impossible flag behind Olivia in the doorway. "RUN DAMMIT! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"
Suddenly, Olivia was snatched backwards from the doorway, as if by an invisible hand. It was horrifying. Lillian turned her head and ran again.
Doctor Treasen was suddenly in the way; his face filled with shock and anger. Lillian ran straight at him; she felt the impact as he was knocked to the side, falling on his face just outside the hallway. She was in the cafeteria now, already busy with the lunchtime crowd. Familiar faces, human and pony, blurred as Lillian scrambled to run past them towards the front of the clinic.
She was barely aware of an innocent newfoal stallion sent sprawling, his tray and bowl clattering on the floor. Lillian dashed towards the lobby, barely avoiding an impact with several pieces of furniture. Someone was entering the clinic as she approached the door; as she sent them tumbling it dawned on her that the figure was dressed all in black; he was a blackmesh guard.
Lillian was galloping now, the stairs were coming up. She knew she couldn't navigate them; she was still having trouble running. Without thinking she leapt, her wings spreading out automatically in terror. She was beyond thought now, her fear having taken over her mind completely, somehow she found herself safely down on the plascreet roadway, running again. She must have glided, it was the only explanation, but she had no idea how she had managed it.
The sound of her hooves on the plascreet was loud as she ran down an alley; she had no idea where she was going other than far away. She could barely make out the sound of yelling behind her, doubtless pursuit was in progress. Where now? Lillian tore off down another alleyway, trying to take an irregular route.
The underground. The sky would be filled with drones and cameras even if she could somehow fly, the streets were lined with cameras and patrolled by vehicles and she would soon be captured if she stayed above ground. Stairs leading down to the maglev tunnels offered slim hope. She ran for an entrance, ahead down a side street. She was sure it must be there; she had taken that maglev to reach the Bureau from her home in Surrey.
She had to step carefully, now, she could not run down the stairs for fear of breaking her neck, and she dared not try to glide again, not inside the narrow tunnel. Step by agonizing step, she slowly made it to the bottom. There were cameras above that would show that she had entered; but that information might not be immediately available to her pursuers.
The station ahead was crowded, suddenly Lillian felt stupid. Of course it would be crowded, it was a maglev station. She ducked down the tunnels that led to the restrooms. As she headed for the women's bathroom she felt more and more like she was heading into a dead end, a trap from which she could not escape. She stopped in the tunnel. It was hopeless.
There were cameras above, in the sky and in the streets, cameras everywhere, the eyes and ears of the world government. And, of course, there were cameras here, too, like the one she had just noticed scanning back and forth at the end of the tunnel, where the doors to the restrooms were. She looked behind her, at the cameras she had failed to notice there.
It was hopeless. She was trapped. Anger and rage filled her. She stomped her new hooves in frustration and tossed her head back and forth insane with fear.
There was a loud, metallic clank, clunk, ting from the walls and floor of the tunnel. Her head felt lighter.
Lillian looked down. Near her left hoof was a ring. It was large, big enough to be a bracelet. It was thick, and appeared to be made of silver. Strange symbols ran around the ring, horseshoe-like shapes, stars, crescents, spirals and more. Equestrian symbols. This was the thing that Olivia had stuck on her forehead.
It was all too much. Lillian could not understand anything of what was happening to her. Mechanically, she lowered her head to pick up the strange ring. She had dropped it, she had to pick it up - that was the extent of her numb, overworked thought.
The ring tasted like metal in her mouth. She stood there like a dumb and useless animal, sucking on the metal ring, utterly without any plan. She literally could not think of anything more or better to do. She looked down at herself, taking in what she could of her appearance for the first time. Her coat was a soft bluish-gray, her mane and tail the soft pale yellow of corn silk. She began to idly look around.
Her shadow was on the tunnel wall. She looked at it. She was a pony; she wiggled her tail and the tail on the shadow wiggled too. She stretched out her wings; her left wing hurt as she did so, she had bruised something there. Her shadow had also spread its wings, her wings, and she admired the dramatic spread of them on the wall.
It was then that she noticed the shadow pony had a horn.
Lillian crossed her eyes, trying to verify what her shadow seemed to indicate. She couldn't see a horn. She walked, slowly to the wall, her shadow growing as she approached. Lillian lowered her head carefully, still sucking on the ring in her teeth. She felt the sharp knock to her skull as her horn tapped on the tilework. It was there, it was real. She was a unicorn.
No, she was a pegasus. She flexed her wings once more.
It hit her. That was the problem. She was both. That was strange. In all of ponykind, only two beings were both. The princesses, Celestia and Luna. Alicorns. That's what they were called. Alicorns. Immortal goddesses of Equestria.
Olivia's words came back to her. "You can't go to Equestria, not ever, do you understand?" You can't ever let Celestia find you. You can't let anyone catch you.
Oh. My. God.
Understanding began to spread across Lillian's mind. She was a pariah. If she was an alicorn, then she would be... a threat. To Celestia. To her rule. Stories of ancient earth monarchies, of pretenders to the crown, of executions and heads rolling from blocks bubbled up in her memory. Celestia was more than a mere ruler, she was a goddess who raised the sun in her world.
Lillian was not merely a threat to the crown of Equestria, she was a living blasphemy.
And the humans; they wanted a way to stop the expansion of Equestria, to defeat the invasion that Celestia represented. The humans would want her. They would want her to fight for them against Celestia, and if she would not, they would want her body to dissect and study, to find the secret of the powers of a god.
There was no being in either world who would not want her dead or enslaved to their cause. Lillian had casually used the word 'doom' her entire life; finally she understood what 'doomed' truly meant, and it was not a happy thing.
The strange feeling was back. The feeling of pressure rising, of light from nowhere, an electric tingle - the same as back at the bureau! Lillian remembered poor Olivia being pulled into the conversion room, the sensation of something approaching, the glowing curtain of colors, blue, violet, teal.... the colors of Celestia's strange mane of light!
Lillian, ring still in her mouth, turned to see the hallway behind her distorting. The air itself was bending the light differently, as the feeling of pressure increased. Light began spilling from the distortion.
Somehow Lillian knew. Celestia was coming. That light was Celestia coming. It was a... a wormhole, or a space warp or some kind of magic door. Celestia was coming. How? How had she found her? Why had it taken this long to find her?
The ring. "This will hide you. It's Equestrian." The ring had hidden her. It had been on her horn, until she had shaken it off. It must act like some kind of scrambler, or damper, or cloak, or something like that. It hid her. She could think of no way to put it back on her horn. In any case, it was too late now.
The feeling of pressure was overwhelming. Lillian could see light shining from the center of the distortion in the middle of the air, and it was becoming brighter. Lillian saw the grand, tall, regal shape of princess Celestia, monarch and living goddess, walking towards her, the world itself bowing and stretching to make way for her royal passage.
Celestia did not look at all happy or friendly.
Exquisite painting by Balthasar999
Lillian thought she had felt fear before. She was wrong. Everything she had experienced until now was as nothing; the creature walking slowly and carefully towards her was the most terrifying thing she had ever experienced. That was not a pony. She knew beyond understanding that it was not even flesh. The being approaching her was an entity, and only a tiny portion of it played the small role of 'princess'. It was ancient beyond measure and powerful beyond reason. Princess Celestia was an eldritch horror, stalking her with caution and determination.
"Pleathe... pleathe..." Lillian could only beg now, she could only mumble around the ring in her mouth "I juth wanth to be thumwhere elth... pleathe..." Her begging filled her heart and overwhelmed her mind. She felt a sharp pain in her forehead; it was like a spike of hot metal digging into her brain.
Suddenly there was a massive flash of light within the tunnel.
As princess Celestia exited her hyperspace conduit, it collapsed behind her, winking to a point and vanishing. The living goddess stood, staring down the empty tunnel, at the tiled walls and plascrete floor. The camera at the end scanned lazily back and forth making a faint humming sound. The two bathroom doors at the end remained closed.
Celestia sniffed delicately at the air; the faint tang of ozone touched her royal nostrils. She gritted her teeth.
The usurper had somehow instinctively managed to teleport.
This would not do.