Lost In The Herd: Three. Letters From Home.
By Jennifer Diane Reitz



Chapter Two: Three Layer Cake


Heya, Stephen!

I've been learning a lot about Equestria this week. From outside, where you are, Equestria seems like heaven. It's green and lush, and filled with singing and food and fun. But there is a darker side to pony life. Well, not exactly dark, not like out there with the terrorists and the corporate wars and the cesium in the tapwater and all that, but still, it surprised me a little.

First off, this is not an egalitarian, everyone is equal society. Equestrian life is highly stratified, and there is definitely some tensions going on. We feel it most clearly here in Earth Pony society. It isn't just the unicorns, the pegasai are even worse.

Equestrian society is set up like a three-layer cake, with two cherries on top. The bottom layer, which does all the real work, growing food, building roads and buildings, basically hauling the dung (literally!), that's us, the Earth Ponies. We are the tax base for the whole society, and taxes are fairly high.

The next layer up is the unicorns. Those horns let them do the fiddily bits, the detail work, and they are kind of the middle class. They make the clocks, sew the clothing, write all the important books, become doctors or students of magic or anything that requires brains and fine control. They live pretty well as a rule, and not out on the farm.

The elite are the pegasai. Pegasai have one function in Equestria, they manufacture and distribute weather. Seriously. Equestria is some kind of controlled environment, every thing we would call the 'natural world' has to be done by us, by the ponies. We Earth-types don't just plant seeds, apparently our actions literally make things grow. They wouldn't without our tending. There would be no weather without the Pegasai. In their cloud cities - they can walk on clouds and sculpt clouds into permanent structures - they have factories, I am told, for making everything from snowflakes to rainclouds.

Just think for a moment what power they represent. No pony can stand up to them, no insurrection would be possible against their rule. They can construct and deploy tornadoes at will. Lightning storms. Freeze the countryside forever, if they so wished. It is no surprise that more than fifty percent of the taxes collected in Equestria go to supporting their lavish, literally pie-in-the-sky lifestyles. They can't grow food on cloud, it seems. Everything has to be brought up to their floating cities from below. Think of them as the super-wealthy, the corporate gods of Equestria.

The two cherries on the top of the cake are our princesses, Celestia and Luna. They have both wings and horns, the only ponies of their type. They aren't like anypony else. I'm not even sure they are actually made of flesh. I got a glimpse of Celestia, from a distance, when I first arrived, and her mane doesn't look like hair - it looks like a curtain of light and energy. I think the princesses are energy beings, like from the old sci-fi shows, devoid of a true physical body. I don't think they are real creatures, in the way ponies and humans are. I think they only look more or less like ponies because it suits their purpose.

Their rule is absolute, and, from the inside, I am sure the story they have told the world about why Equestria is expanding isn't the whole story. There is no overpopulation here. Why they are allowing us newfoals in is anypony's guess. I think the conversion bureaus really are a deliberate invasion.

But here's the deal: I'm really OK with that. Go Equestria! Let's face it, we've made a royal crapsack of the earth, and maybe Mankind just doesn't make the cut. I think maybe the princesses are doing a salvage operation. I think they are salvaging a dying planet, before it entirely goes down.

Of course, maybe now that I am a pony, I can't help but think this way. I wonder about that one, sometimes. I've tried to see if me, now, would agree on such things with the me that you once knew. I think I would agree with myself, but maybe you can tell me if that is true.

I guess I don't dislike the unicorns as much as I thought, now. Let me tell you about one I met.

It was after pony school, we had finally finished our door. We fixed these really nice, brass handles on it, it turned out pretty sweet. I'm proud of that door. From log to door, dang. I've never felt proud of a door before.

Anyway, we were heading into town. Town is Greater Fetlock. I live in just plain Fetlock, which is basically a tiny farming community, Greater Fetlock is a few kilometers down the road, and it is a bustling mid-sized city. They don't just have a general store, they have shops and restaurants and a park. I was pretty excited to be seeing it, after all those weeks down on the farm.

That punk colt I told you about, the newfoal kid who annoys me was with us, as was about half of the class. The punk calls himself 'Rocket Racer', and everytime I hear that name I want to buck him in the flanks. I don't see anything wrong with taking an Equestrian-styled name, heck, I'm trying to figure out one for myself (any suggestions?) Human names just kind of stick out here, and get a funny look. I want to fit in, only reasonable, really. But if I do finally settle on a new name, it isn't going to be some crazy-ass thing like 'Rocket Racer'. I mean, they don't even HAVE rockets here. Get a clue, dumbcolt.

So the kid is going on about some dung I don't know what, and suddenly gallops off, I guess he saw something 'cool' or whatever. Glimmershine, our instructor, told us to stick together on our first trip to the city, and by Luna, that is what I figured we should do. So, off we go to find the little snot.

Greater Fetlock still looks like a Renaissance Faire, but it is a fancy one, unlike Just Fetlock. There are stalls of really great looking stuff, shops for just about anything a pony could need, or for that matter, just covet. But where we ended up was a telescope store.

I never figured the kid for the science type, but apparently he likes him some serious telescope. Or maybe it was the vague 'steampunk' thing going on with all of the brass and polished wood. But there we all are, in and around this funny looking shop, filled with telescopes and at least one microscope.

Now these things were really primitive. Lenses and tubes. But they were beautiful, just works of art. They looked like the kind of thing rich humans would have to show off how little price meant to them. I can't imagine any of them were very powerful, at least by outside standards. But they were pretty, I'll give 'em that.

So the kid, Rocket (ugh!), is craning his neck to look through this big telescope, it has to be the most expensive one there, of course, and he doesn't keep track of his hindquarters. He knocks over this sweet-looking brass job, and it bangs into another and so on, and we're looking a full-on disaster here.

I've already told you about how we ponies seem to get gifted with some kind of super-dexterity. Next thing I know I am diving across the floor, all four hooves out, somehow catching telescopes. It's not like I can grab anything, of course, but balancing things on my hooves has become trivial. Pretty soon I have a telescope on each hoof, and I'm lying on my back, still sliding on the floor, and of course I hit the kid's hind legs and he just sits on my face. Yeah, real funny.

At this point I hear a mixture of upset and laughter coming from somewhere past Rocket Racer's big fat ass, and I don't dare move because I can just picture all the telescopes hitting the floor and smashing to bits. It was not one of my best moments.

Turns out that the voice belonged to the owner of the shop, a cute little mare named Perspicuity. She's probably about as old as me, and a thousand times better to look at. She really appreciated my efforts to save her creations from destruction.

After 'Retard Rock-head' was off of me, and made to apologize (I swear, someday, -buck-, right in the flank, both hooves) I had a chance to properly say hello.

And that's when I finally noticed Perspicuity was a unicorn. 

She used that horn of hers to lift and float all the telescopes back to upright, and I have to say I had mixed feelings. I haven't felt kindly towards unicorns since I arrived in Equestria, feeling that they are loners, have it too easy, and don't know the meaning of work. But the back of her shop was filled with benches of the most complicated parts and pieces, and she had a set-up for dealing with casting metal. I wouldn't dare work with molten metal, not with teeth and hooves. Baking those cupcakes was hot enough for my muzzle, thank you.

Now she didn't make a good impression on me with her first words about 'we country bumpkins' crashing through her store like 'wild-eyed manticores' (what the heck is a manticore? Could you look that up for me? No hypernet here), but like I said, she was a looker.

I suppose you'll be all curious about how it is that a former human could find a pony attractive. Listen, I'm a pony now, so let's just leave it at that. The taste of food has changed for me, and I guess other tastes have changed as well. I think about human women I knew, and nothing. Less than nothing, they are like strange animals, beasts, to me. I guess whatever controls that stuff gets changed when we change. Just try to imagine Perspicuity as a really pretty woman, if it helps.

I pointed out that this country bumpkin, meaning myself, had just saved a heck of a lot of telescopes, sacrificing my dignity in the process, so that maybe she was judging some ponies a little harshly.

To her credit, she apologized with grace. 

Long story short, I've got a date lined up with her tomorrow. I guess unicorns aren't so bad after all.

I'll tell you how it went, next letter. For now, I've got a certain little pony to have a talk with about running off.

I don't know whether to finally kick him, or thank him.



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