By Sunshine Laughter and Caprice Venäläinen
"Sunshine! Did you notice?"
"The name of the ship! Did you notice the name of this ship we're on?"
Um... no. Why?
"It's the Celestina! This ship is named the Celestina. You know, like 'Celestia', like our princess!"
Do you think it was deliberate? No... it has to be a coincidence. Otherwise, why not just name the ship 'Celestia' and be done with it? Bit of a rust-bucket, I have to say.
"It... needs a little work, but it seems safe enough. Even if the name is just a coincidence - goodness, especially if it's a coincidence, isn't that kind of neat? Maybe it's a little Equestrian magic leaking through!"
Forcing the coincidence of the names being sort-of the same? I don't know anything about magic, Rose. You should probably ask Snowflower. Or Lavender. She's a unicorn too.
"Um... I'm kind of leaving Lavender alone right now. She seems upset, but not willing to talk about it. I tried to find out, but..."
From what she said, you'd think she'd be overjoyed now. We're past the bridge and out into open water. The Barrier is just HUGE. It's hard to stop staring at it. She's the one that didn't want to take a last moment for Earth back there.
"Those with an issue have an issue, Sunshine. I think she's probably worried about leaving Earth forever."
Wait, wait... she is all upset about how Earth is bad and she never liked it, and you're telling me that somehow that really meant she did like it or something?
"When I was in Noe, there was this colt, right. He was really tough and built, all muscles to the withers and big scowl on his muzzle. Tough as nails. But he was really loud. He'd go on and on about how much he hated stallions who loved stallions. He was just constantly saying bad things about them, and condemning them, and telling really cruel jokes about them. It was almost all he could talk about, really. Turns out, in the end, that was his secret, he liked stallions himself. It was how he was trying to hide, by acting out like that. 'Those with an issue, have an issue.' The surest way to find out what a pony really thinks is to look at what they put the most energy into. Like the pony I told you about."
So what do we do? Leaving her alone doesn't sound like the best idea then.
"Sometimes everypony needs space to calm down and deal, right? I'm just giving Lavender some time. We've got a couple of hours before we reach the Barrier. I intended to go talk with her, and see if she'd open up. It's just that it's too soon right now, considering how upset she seemed. That's all."
Yeah. OK. I guess that makes sense. Hey, Rose, how do you feel about... all of this?
"Well, it's a little too late to be having second thoughts, if that's what you mean. Hee! I'm happy. I can't wait to see Equestria. I am looking forward to green trees, and clean skies and flowers everywhere. I am so going to be nibbling everything!"
I heard we arrive in the desert. That's the other side of the Barrier there. On our side, it's ocean, but on their side it's desert. At least that's what Breezy told me. We kind of talked about it, after my last flight class.
"I'm sure the desert will be pretty too... I'm not worried. And in any case, the desert is just one land within a much larger realm. It has to be, because all I've ever seen of Equestria has been green fields and lakes and trees."
It was kind of news to me that there even was desert there. I guess Equestria is a very diverse place. Who knows what lands exist there?
"I've heard that deserts can have flowers and plants in them. They used to on Earth. I think I'm kind of excited to see this desert!"
Everything will be new to us, won't it Rose? I guess for the first few days... or weeks... we'll probably just be stumbling around with our muzzles slack and our ears whipping this way and that like a bunch of silly foals, won't we?
"Well, we are foals, really. They didn't name us 'Newfoals' for nothing. In one sense, we really are just two weeks old. Hey! Now that's an idea!"
"I'm going to make the day of my conversion my birthday, from now on. It really is, at least to me. It's my birthday as a pony, and I'm a pony now for the rest of my life. Hee! That's my new, true birthday!"
Heh... I like that. I think I'm gonna do the same thing. That means my birthday is... four days after yours? You were converted the day before I arrived. Yeah, four days. Well. I guess I have a new name, though I chose that before I even entered the Bureau, and I have a new face - not to mention every other part of me - and I have a new birthday too. It really is a new life, then. Oh, my goodness... just look at it, Rose!
"The Barrier. Oh my, it's bigger than ever now."
We're closer. I can't imagine what it must be like to be at the base of that, just before we cross over. It's hard to see it as a dome now. It's just... there. I don't have words. It's just there, taking up half the sky and... we still have like two hours of travel to go. Most of that is hanging out in space, above the atmosphere.
"That is only half of it too, Sunshine and Rose. Remember, the Barrier is a sphere. The other half is below the sea, deep inside the earth. It must be below both the crust and the mantle. It will keep expanding until everything is it, and there is no earth left at all. I wonder how the stuff of the inside of the Earth is being changed to become more Equestria? The sheer scale of it all just beggars my very imagination!"
I... I can't look at it. I feel dizzy. Wow. Sorry. Maybe it's also being on a ship, too, though we aren't really rocking or anything. It's really a pretty smooth ride. It's just... really huge things have always kind of made me feel weird. When I was a foal, I got dizzy looking up at tall buildings. I felt like they would fall over on me. They seemed to sort of lean out over me somehow. I kind of feel like that now. The Barrier... how big is it? Snowflower?
"The last I heard suggested that it had passed fifteen hundred miles in diameter. The part we can see is roughly half of that, so the top of the dome we see would be about seven hundred and fifty miles high, I reason. The edge of space, which is called the Kármán line, is generally considered to be at sixty-two miles above the surface of the Earth. So, more than six-sevenths of what we see here is actually hanging out in space. A rather astonishing concept, don't you think?"
I like how you know so many things, Snowflower. That's awesome. Wait, that means that the shine up there, that bright curve, there.... that is sunlight hitting the Barrier in vacuum, out in space. I am seeing something that begins on the ground, the top of which is way out in space. Muffin. Just Muffin.
Um, I have another question. Look, inside the Barrier. It looks like... it looks like night. Why does it look like night in there?
"Because it is night in Equestria right now. Night and day don't follow the same cycle that we experience on Earth, Sunshine. They have slightly longer days, remember, about twenty five, almost twenty six hours. It varies, because day and night are determined by the princesses. But the average is longer than an Earthly day, so it is very rare to ever see Equestria with the same time of day as that of the Earth outside.
I've heard that when it is day in Equestria, and night out here, it is the most amazing sight. Just incredible. I kind of feel sad we will never see that. Still, what we see is what we see, and our morning vision of the Barrier is pretty amazing, so it's not like we are being cheated."
Hee. Hee hee! No... no, it is not like we are being cheated in the least. Goodness, Snowflower, Rose, everypony - think about it! We get to be alive in the one age in which two universes collide, the very last age of the planet Earth, an age where a pretentious, hairless ape can walk in one door, and out the other as a gentle pony, a citizen of Equestria! I don't feel cheated in the least. Maybe I'll never see the Barrier glow day in the middle of Earth's night, but Pony, I am seeing it now, right now, in the morning light, with stars and moon inside it, and the top of it shining off out in outer space and... no. I do not feel cheated one bit.
"Me either, Sunshine. Um..."
What is it, Rose?
"I heard that they have snacks inside, plus the smell of the ocean is kind of getting to me. Could we go inside for a while? I've never been on a ship before, and I'd kind of like to explore a little."
Oh... of course! Want to tag along, Snowflower? It looks like the rest of the club has gone inside as well.
"Actually, I think I'll stay here. I cannot get enough of this. Please, go on. I'll probably come in for a bite later."
OK, Snow. Oh, and thanks for all the cool sciencey stuff. That was pretty awesome. Come on, Rose, we gots us a fancy ship to explore! Oh, and snacks. What do you think they'll have....
She was nameless and free, with a wide, crazed grin on her face. She had stopped skipping down the alleyway, because she was by no means stupid or foolish, but she had not stopped feeling joyful. She felt like she was running to meet her lover... no, her happily-ever-after, wide eyed and filled with wonder, even the rubble that complicated her path was surely in exactly the right place.
She was in the Marina District, now, near a street called Fillmore. It was less than a mile to her goal, the San Francisco Conversion Bureau. The Bureau was the first to have been built, the location chosen because it was the closest spot on land to the expanding sphere of the Equestrian Barrier - other than Hawaii, which had been evacuated to save its population from deadly thaumatic radiation. San Francisco had the remains of a port, making transportation to Equestria simple. Ferries regularly traveled carrying newfoals to their new lives beyond the great Barrier.
The Bureau had been built inside the mostly intact AppleSoft campus, the merger of two old rivals resulting in a massively large complex built upon the ruins of what had once been called the Palace Of Fine Arts. The Bureau Building was a gigantic structure composed of many empty floors supported by massive beams, and within that hollow place the worldgovernment had established a hundred prefabricated clinics. Each clinic was identical, constructed of modular units wheeled in on trailers; a central room, a cafeteria, hallway sections, a restrooms with showers, small dormitory rooms, an entrance chamber with a security door, and of course the most important room of all.
Heavy, shielded, with a bomb-proof metal door, the Ponification Room was a cubic fortress that could withstand terrible force. It was a safe-room, though the intent was not to protect people or ponies, but rather the precious serum, ensconced within a blast-proof case. Ponification serum was still in short supply, though the worldgovernment promised that soon, soon, it would be as ubiquitous as water. Unfortunately, clean water was a major issue for the peoples of the world.
Each of the one-hundred modular clinics established on the layered floors of the cavernous complex had a staff; a primary physician, a physician-assistant, a foodservice professional and assistant, and a janitor / handyman. Some of the clinics had additional staff and hangers-on, but for most, this was the basic plan. Administration for all the clinics was upstairs, near the roof, and reported directly to the Central Bureau Authority. The modular clinics made the interior of the vast AppleSoft campus look like an indoor trailer park. But this was the gateway to Equestria for the grinning girl.
Her short, ragged, curly black hair rippled in the breeze as she slunk and snuck and occasionally danced along the remains of Cervantes Boulevard. If she could make it to Marina, she should have a straight path to the Bureau, it would certainly be visible, towering over the landscape like some dark fortress of plasteel and crystalex.
The girl had buried her name along with a small dog, and with it she had buried her humanity. In her mind, she was already Equestrian, already a pony, all that remained was a small physical adjustment to complete her internal transformation. She felt giddy, drunken with joy for the first time in her life. "Ooh! A dandelion!" she crooned, getting down on all fours, hands on the broken sidewalk, her exposed right knee with the fat tumor on it squishing on the concrete. "Yum!" The girl-shaped pony jut her face forward and encompassed the yellow flower with her mouth. She bit the blossom neatly off, near its base, the tiny petals tickling her soft palate.
"Mmmm!" she smiled, chewing the tender flower. "Tasty vittles!" she smiled like a Cheshire Cat while another small bit of her human life vanished inside her. She felt lighter, now, and cleaner, despite her dirty, ragged jumpsuit, and filthy, ruined silk blouse. Inside that dandelion blossom was sunshine and laughter, a taste of a better life to come. It was sweet within her mouth.
Up and trotting again, the nameless pony that looked like a girl moved from building to building. Her extra pair of eyes, domes protruding through her skull, informed her that the way ahead was clear. The Bureau Building was immense. It towered over everything left of San Francisco, twelve stories tall and surrounded by ruins and abandoned cars and buses. Nearly there.
It was a long walk to round the great, dark building. She was exposed now, out in the open, but she felt little fear. The Bureau would be well guarded by Blackmesh, even with the funding cuts, and in any case, she was only a few hundred feet from the main entrance. The brown, dead remains of what had once been topiary still sat in dead garden plots surrounding the entrance, at one time the complex might have been striking, rather than imposing.
Great, dark, translucent Cryslex doors faced her now, on either side a Blackmesh guard holding a formidable looking weapon. The pony-girl bowed grandly to them and begged entrance to be converted.
"Greetings, oh grand knights of the Blackmesh! I come to you with a heart light, and pants filthy, for the dream of a life in fair Equestria! What say you to this, noble knights?"
The two Blackmesh guards stared at the bizarre girl and looked at each other. "It takes all kinds, I guess. Let 'er through."
The glassine doors slid apart, granting entrance. "Pick a clinic, miss, and sign in at the front desk. There's nothing to it." The soldier helpfully suggested.
"Thank you gracious knight of the realm, may all your foals be frisky, and your tail stream behind you when you run."
"Strange girl." Noted the elder of the Blackmesh. "Cute, though." Decided the younger.
One hundred clinics. Which one to choose? Hmm. She walked up the broken escalator in the vast lobby, the lowest level of modular clinics somehow escaping her notice. On the second level, standing on the long balcony, she read the signs outside the individual structures. Above her, more levels rose, each with more and more modular clinics on them.
"Clinic Forty-One, Clinic Forty-Two... hey... Forty-Two! The Ultimate Answer!" She giggled, remembering an old, Pre-Collapse book, one she had particularly loved. That was the clinic, then. Her clinic.
As she approached the security door, a terrified young man burst out, the door slamming to the side as he ran past her. She nearly fell, in his brusk departure he had bruised her upper arm. Through the open door, she could hear a loudspeaker. The voice of a man with a Finnish accent swore briefly, before the sound of a microphone hitting the floor ended what must have been some kind of announcement. The place seemed quite the mess.
It was absolutely perfect.
The girl grinned wider than she ever had before. This was going to be SO MUCH FUN!
Rose? I feel afraid.
"Why, Sunshine? We're nearly there. Just go up the ramp and leap across. It's easy. The others are already on the other side. Look, Newmoon is waving a hoof at us. Ooh... there's a whole city of tents over there."
According to the captain, that's 'Welcome Town'. They sort the newfoals as they arrive there. It sounds friendly enough.
"Come on, Sunshine, let's go, alright? Right there, over that ramp, beyond this floating dock... that's Equestria, Sunshine. Equestria! I don't understand..."
I've... it's the holocorder. I...
"Sunshine, Snowflower already told us that nothing bad will happen. At the very worst, it will change into pudding or something, and I'll gladly lick it off your coat, so... what's got you so... bothered?"
I'm... I've been doing this little show of mine... of ours... since before I met you. I'll tell you something - I was... I was a little scared to go to the Bureau. I knew the world was ending. I knew I was helping my parents, I knew it was the only thing to do... but... I was frightened, Rose. I mean, changing your entire species! It's... it doesn't seem so strange now, but back then, I was really a lot more frightened than I let on. Talking to the holocorder, doing this stupid show... it made me feel stronger than I am. It made me feel brave, sort of. I had this thing to do, and as long as I was doing it... I kind of felt protected or invulnerable or... something. I felt... I don't know.
"Having a purpose took you out of yourself. You had something to fuss over other than what it meant to become a pony. I think I understand, Sunshine. And once you pass through that barrier, it's almost certain that the show will end because the 'corder will melt, or change or whatever. You're not sure who you are without your show, is that it?"
Y-Yeah. Yeah... you're scary amazing sometimes. Yeah, that's kind of it. No, that is it. What am I going to do? How do I get through this without... without...
"Without an audience? Without the blessing of an authority figure like the Ministry Of Propaganda and Infotainment? Oh, Sunshine... you DO have an audience! You'll always have an audience, if I have anything to say about it. ME! I'm your forever audience, Sunshine! I love what you have to say, how you look at things, and what you feel. I want to hear your real show, just the way you see the world, for always!"
Rose... oh, Rose...
"And you have an even better authority figure, if you need one, and she's already given you her blessing. Celestia! And Luna! Forget the Ministry, you have the blessings of two goddesses, Sunshine! Two goddesses that control the moon and the sun. That beats a silly Ministry any day. Or night."
Hee! Yeah, yeah, you're right, you're right.
"So, how about it? All our friends are over there, the whole Pony Breakfast Club. They're all waiting. And there's lots of friendly ponies, and the whole of Equestria too. Tasty num-nums... there's going to be a lot of tasty num-nums over there too. Flowers and fruits and grasses we haven't even imagined. And games and fun and picnics and friends we have yet to meet. It's just a little ways. You just put one hoof in front of the other, and before you know it, we'll be there."
Yeah. OK. Listen, everypony!
My name is Sunshine Laughter. I'm a pegasus pony, and this here is Rose Vale. She's an earthpony and she's my mare, and I'm hers. Behind me, that big flat wall of shimmering stuff, that's the Equestrian Barrier, up close. And this is our final episode of 'Going Pony'. Because we did. We went pony, and now... now we're going home.
Going to the Bureau, being converted... it taught me a lot of things. I gained so much from it. I did this originally to help my parents, so that we'd have special treatment in Equestria. But... I am glad I did this even without that. I met some great friends in that Bureau, and... I met the love of my life, too.
I guess what I want you, out there, whoever, wherever you are, to know... what I want to tell you is... that going pony is worth it. It is absolutely worth it. It is wonderful, and strange, and beautiful, and sometimes even a little scary too. And I know that me saying that to you was the whole point of the Ministry giving me this muffin thing, letting me do this show, but... I don't care. Maybe it is their little propaganda piece to get you to report to the nearest Bureau and emigrate to Equestria before the world dies. I don't care.
I DO care about the fact that I'm happy, really happy, for the first time in my life. Only now, do I realize just how empty my human life was. Yeah, I don't have thumbs, I won't ever play another video game, I'll be using candles instead of light switches and there aren't any fancy cars in Equestria. But I have wings, I can FLY. I can stand on clouds and bring rain where its needed. I don't need to run around in a video game, I can gallop across green fields in the open air faster than any human could ever run, jump off a cliff and soar like a pegasus. I have a lover that can grow strawberries just by singing to them, and a unicorn friend that can levitate things with her mind. Behind me is a world of magic and wonder and fun and food and love.
There aren't enough thumbs to give, to pay for something like that. There isn't a single thing Earth can offer that even comes close to being a shadow of what Equestria offers.
Forget the fact that I'm on your threevee because of the worldgovernment. I'm Sunshine Laughter, the pegasus, and I'm telling you that whatever they say, this... this... it's worth it. It's more than worth it. Every moment you aren't a pony is a moment you'll regret. That's what I'm saying. I guess... I guess that's all.
Come on, Rose. It's time to go home.
"Careful on the edge of the ramp. Nice big jump. Oh! You could just fly. I forgot! Hee! I'd better just concentrate on my own crossing. I wonder what passing through the Barrier will feel like?"
Goodbye, everypony. I hope you'll join us, before it's too late. OK, here we go. Time to see if this holocorder survives the trip. One, two, th
If you have further questions or concerns, contact the Worldgovernment Propaganda and Infotainment Ministry. If you wish to emigrate to Equestria, report immediately to your nearest Conversion Bureau. Conversion is free, easy, painless, and transportation and settlement within Equestria is provided free of charge to every human being as a courtesy of the Worldgovernment and the Government of Equestria. Begin a new life today, at your local Conversion Bureau.
27 Ounces: A story of eight and one half ponies
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 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