GREEN   245   2
   9740 54.96 KB    587

Accomplice

By Winter
Created: 2024-05-05 06:18:46
Updated: 2024-05-15 02:48:50
Expiry: Never

  1. “Not a single letter?!”
  2. >The coffee mug in your hoof is slammed against the laboratory table, gritting your teeth you glare at the cream colored unicorn who’d been your research partner for the past six months.
  3. “You’re telling me we haven’t gotten a single reply? Can’t any of those imbeciles see the importance of what we’re doing? I serve them a technological revolution on a platter, and they won’t take the time to give us a single reply?! Gah!”
  4. >You growl and turn to look at the contraption the two of you had made together - a small, spinning fan connected to several wires and knobs.
  5. >Moondancer bites her lip, staring at the numerous research papers detailing the thing’s inception, they lay spread out across the table in complete disarray, a testament to sleepless nights spent crunching numbers and formulas.
  6. >Its purpose was simple, but it was the design that made it stand out from anything else in the market.
  7. >It was almost entirely self-perpetuating.
  8. >Drawing energy from ambient magic in the air, it should theoretically be able to function for decades without maintenance, whereas the standard models in the market needed a unicorn to replenish the appliance’s energy every year or so.
  9. >You shouldn’t need to explain why it was such a big deal.
  10. >After some time Moondancer walks over your side, consolingly rubbing a hoof over your withers.
  11. >”Hey, hey… we tried our best, and… we succeeded! We really did make something great! We can at least be proud of that, even without a patent, can’t we? Even if its not now, I’m sure they’ll see things our way eventually.”
  12. >Your response is a drawn-out groan, despairingly rubbing a hoof down your face.
  13. >You had planned on using the funds from this thing’s patent to pay for the research and advancement of your /real/ goal.
  14. >Never in your wildest dreams would you imagine that your attempts at securing one would be met with radio silence.
  15. >Not a single reply? Preposterous!
  16. >You are Anonymous, you had thought you'd make from this, how would you ever manage to find a way back home?
  17. >”You know what I think we should do? Create something even better! Come on, I’m sure we can think of a way to outdo this. We can’t let something like this keep us down!
  18. >She gives you an encouraging smile.
  19. >Your head slowly rises, sporting a resigned look.
  20. “…Yes, I’m sure that we’ll have better luck the next time we decide to cast pearls before swine.“
  21. >Moondancer rolls her eyes, opting to gather the mess of papers on your desk into a neat little stack, “Chin up, Anon. we still have a lot left over from our research grant, and the university’s even getting a new shipment of equipment soon! It won’t be any trouble at all to gather new material. We just need to set out eyes on a new direction, and the rest will work itself out from there!”
  22. >She playfully taps your muzzle with the paper stack.
  23. >…
  24. >Your eyes slowly glaze over as it sinks in.
  25. >Just how large of a setback this was.
  26. >During an experiment back on Earth, You’d apparently managed to rape physics so hard that it got pissy and decided to punt you across the boundaries of both space and time.
  27. > After finding yourself in this equine candyland, you’d applied to a college dedicated to studying the arcane. That’s right, actual /magic/. This was all after multiple discreet breakdowns and a thorough, healthy questioning of reality, of course.
  28. >By utilizing the small number of rudimentary tricks you’d learned in a foal’s starter spellbook, alongside your own specialized knowledge of basic scientific phenomena, you’d somehow passed the entrance exams using professional-grade smoke and mirrors, impressing the exam proctors enough to give you a free ride through their prestigious institute.
  29. >You don’t know whether to blame the proctors’ laxity towards your performance or their neglect of the most simple of background checks, but the entire affair was considered nothing short of a travesty by you.
  30. >Indeed, your outrageous, impossible admission by such a highly acclaimed academy set the tone of your stay here among these primitive, backwards people. Ponies. Whatever.
  31. >The point is, you needed to get back home ASAP so you could sleep this entire experience off and hopefully forget about it.
  32. >Preferably with the help of a generous glass of Chardonnay.
  33. >And hookers.
  34. >You abruptly push your chair back and stand, taking a deep swig of your umber ambrosia.
  35. >If nothing else, at least the coffee here was decent.
  36. >You address Moondancer as you make your way out the door, with her falling into step beside you.
  37. “You’re right, we don’t have any other choice but to attempt something new.”
  38. “Outdoing our work shouldn’t be too hard, but I fear that we’d only be giving the swine an even bigger and shinier pearl,” you let out a weary sigh, “did you have any suggestions on what direction to take next?”
  39. >Her eyes widen and sparkle at the question, her giddy face suddenly bearing the likeness of a child after being offered a particularly tasty treat.
  40. >”I did! I’d just finished reading Quasar Dust’s treatise on harmonic intervals and their relation to thaumatic frequencies, and-“
  41. >You smile and nod as the mare's enthusiastic tirade gradually melts into a unique blend of fascinating but ultimately meaningless sounds.
  42. >There exists a small amount of shame regarding your complete and utter inability to comprehend a single thing coming out of her mouth. Indeed, you were no wizard.
  43. >She makes different motions with her hooves, pantomiming different waves and numbers.
  44. >At least she looked like she was enjoying herself.
  45. >The entirety of your partnership wholly of her telling you what was possible with magic and you cramming it into various inventions plagiarized from your old world while you desperately tried to hide the fact that you had absolutely no business being here, on multiple levels.
  46. >You expected an adept like her to sniff you out as a fraud the moment she laid her eyes on you, but every time you pulled something out of your ass and dismissed basic physics as ‘magic’, she’d eat it up with increasing fervor.
  47. >She never managed to figure out exactly /how/ your creations worked, but that just made her all the more determined.
  48. >You would normally feel bad about lying to a fellow scholar in such a blatantly sacrilegious manner but, frankly, you’d lost what little moral integrity you had left the moment life decided it would be funny to turn you into a fluffy green ungulate.
  49. >It wasn’t funny.
  50. >A green hoof rubs your chin as you mull over your next move.
  51. >…They shouldn’t have discovered radio frequencies yet, getting her to magic up some vibrations shouldn’t be too hard, so you can probably cobble up something with that…
  52. >You finally notice that at some point, she’d finished her speech and was looking at you with an expectant, eager gaze.
  53. >You’re quick to adopt an impressed expression.
  54. “Simply marvelous, Moondancer! Why, I’ve never thought about it that way. You’ve really outdone yourself this time, I must say. I’d be thrilled to work on this for our next experiment-“ you hadn’t the slightest idea of what that would even entail “- but perhaps we should consider other possibilities before placing all our chips on one idea.”
  55. >Your praise is swiftly soaked up with a palpable amount of delight as Moondancer allows a soft smile to blossom on her face.
  56. >”Of course. A true sorceror always considers every possibility. You know I’m always eager to hear any ideas from you.”
  57. >She gradually presses against your side, easing herself against your body as you walk together.
  58. >You force yourself not to cringe away, groaning inwardly.
  59. >These ponies were much too touchy-feely for your liking…
  60. “I did have an idea, but I’d like to hear your input on it first. What do you think about…”
  61. >The two of you bounce ideas off each other until arriving at the local McDonkles
  62. >After ordering some to-go, you both settle down at a bench in the local park.
  63. >You idly watch a group of colts and fillies run around on the grass, leisurely munching away at your greasy hayburger and attempting to stave away the ever-present thought of Canterlot tumbling down the mountain and slaughtering millions as a result of what had to be the absolute worst architectural decision you’d ever laid your eyes on.
  64. >The sun smiles down on the two of you, blanketing the area in a comfortable warmth and giving way to a perfect day.
  65. >Moondancer eventually breathes a nostalgic sigh.
  66. >”You know, I used to play here all the time when I was little. I was never the most proactive filly, but this part of the city always gave me a sense of tranquility.”
  67. >You wait a little before replying.
  68. “Really?”
  69. >Let it be known that you were an excellent conversationalist.
  70. >She gives you a small laugh, resting her chin in her hooves.
  71. >”Well, my idea of ‘playing’ was to curl up with a good book until my parents dragged me home,” she points her hoof towards a corner of the area, where a tree cast its shadow on a flat, wide rock, “I’d always make my way to that stone, burying myself in the works of Dark Star or Starswirl.”
  72. >A small smile tugs at the corner of your lips.
  73. >Your eyes turn to the sky.
  74. >Not a single star could be seen, but you knew they were there, even shrouded by sun’s radiance.
  75. >Waiting for you.
  76. “I was much the same, though the parks around were never quite as nice as this one.”
  77. >You see one of the colts trip out of the corner of your eye.
  78. >His friends immediately rush to help him up, and they return to their frolic, partaking in harmless fun under the watchful eyes of their parents.
  79. “This place is pretty popular, you ever hang out with other foals?”
  80. >Moondancer is lost in her own thoughts at this point, her gaze following things from a different time.
  81. >”…There was one filly that’d always join me. We’d have the most fun. She’d come lay besides me and we’d flip the pages of our book together. Right before her parents picked her up, we’d discuss parts of what we’d read. She’d always have the most interesting perspectives on different matters.”
  82. >Her gaze slowly turns bitter, her lips forming the beginnings of a snarl.
  83. >“Well, at least /I/ thought we’d have a good time…”
  84. >You watch her for a moment before noisily slurping your drink through the straw, turning back towards the foals.
  85. >*SLUUUUURP*
  86. >Sore spot?
  87. >You suppose that even in a place like this, and to people like her, there were still situations like that.
  88. >Maybe this place would fall off the mountain after all. Who’s to say?
  89. >Well, not that it was your problem.
  90. >You stand up and light your horn, effortlessly chucking the remains of your meal into a nearby trashbin.
  91. >You’d be looong gone by then.
  92.  
  93. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  94.  
  95. >Despite everything, you still did put in a token effort towards your studies at the university.
  96. >You imagine a number of your peers back on Earth would commit (further) atrocities for the chance to study such a unique subject as the arcane but, really, you mostly did it to keep up appearances.
  97. >Your quill scrabbles in your notebook as you try to parse the seemingly alien language your professor was making use of to address the class.
  98. >Your utterly abysmal comprehension regarding magical vernacular failed at every fifth word he spoke, but its still a far cry from how it was when you first got here.
  99. >Considering the fact that your mentors were all talking horses, you felt that you were making adequate progress.
  100. >You feel a nudge at your side and turn to face your seating neighbor.
  101. >A hoof held to her face in a conspiratorial manner, Moondancer points towards the front and whispers, “Hey, check out what Twinkleshine’s wearing.”
  102. >Following her gaze, you see a white and pink unicorn mare sporting a frilly, bright blue saddle on her back.
  103. >Moondancer snickers, “I’ve never known her to be this bold before, who do you think she’s trying to impress?”
  104. >Saddles were but a mere drop in the bucket of this world’s peculiarities, but you still did find their presence rather strange.
  105. >Instead of being used by someone to mount and ride, their place in equine society was instead as a common fashion accessory.
  106. >Really, you were quite glad for their interdimensional shift in purpose.
  107. >You’d never ridden a horse before, and you certainly didn’t intend to start /here/ of all places.
  108. >Turning back towards Moondancer, you shrug.
  109. “Who knows,” you narrow your eyes and tap your chin, “maybe she’s looking to get in the Professor’s good graces after falling behind. One must make use of every strength in the classroom, after all.”
  110. >She giggles and bats you with a hoof, causing you crack a small smile.
  111. >”I’d never have thought she was that kind of mare, but you never know how it is with some ponies…”
  112. >Considering the fact that she’s unwittingly saying that to the local alien, you suppose that sentiment is true enough.
  113. >Your gaze idly wanders to her desk.
  114. “Speaking of the professor, isn’t there an upcoming exam on this? Thought you’d be taking notes on all this stuff.”
  115. >She briefly looks at her blank notebook before shooting you an amused smirk.
  116. >”Don’t need it. I’d mastered this subject months ago. Honestly, the stuff we do together is so much more ahead of this, I’m more surprised that /you’re/ taking notes.”
  117. >Oh.
  118. >Right.
  119. >Inwardly cringing at the small blunder, you wave your hoof in a dismissive gesture while readying your quill and returning to your notes.
  120. ”Even if its something we already know, you can always gain something more from the perspectives of others.”
  121. >There was also the fact that she or her parents were probably paying a sizable sum for such perspectives.
  122. >But on the other hand, you of all people weren’t, so its not a stretch to imagine that she wasn’t either; you’d hope not, God knows which of the two of you actually deserves to be here.
  123. >She mulls over your words with a pensive frown for a moment, before levitating her own quill and turning her eyes towards the lecture.
  124. >”…And THAT, is why, despite being functionally similar, teleporting is allowed while portals remain strictly prohibited. You just never know what can crawl out of them.”
  125. >Your professor, Star Parlor, finishes the speech with a flourish of his pointer as he turns towards the seated students.
  126. >Adjusting his glasses, he imperiously scans the crowd, “To demonstrate the fundamentals of teleportation, I would like a volunteer to come and showcase their knowledge on the subject.”
  127. >Absent of a very distinguished shade of green, a small rainbow of hooves shoot up and dangle in the air.
  128. >Hooves he pointedly ignores as his gaze focuses on you.
  129. >Your pupils immediately constrict.
  130. >”Anonymous,” he addresses you, “please come up to the front of the class.”
  131. >Doing your best to ignore the sweat forming on the back of your neck, your eyes make a sweep of the classroom, finding a veritable sea of multicolored irises staring straight into your pitiful, damned soul.
  132. Resisting the overwhelming urge to belt out an ear-piercing screech, you speak, “I would simply love to Mister Parlor, but I’m afraid I’m just not feeling quite well enough to do so at the moment. Students and all-nighters, I trust you understand?”
  133. >His eyes narrow.
  134. >”That was your excuse the last time you were called up. And the time before that. You’re getting up here. Participation is a part of this class and I will not have any of my students thinking that indolence has any place in this institute. Now, come.”
  135. >Your mouth uselessly opens and closes as your mind fruitlessly fishes to find a way to weasel out of exposing yourself as a fraud to the entire class.
  136. >Coming up empty, you look towards the heavens for guidance.
  137. >Your earnest search for salvation is met with a bare wooden ceiling.
  138. >Mocking you.
  139. >Gritting your teeth, you rise and make your way to the front.
  140. >Really, it had to happen eventually.
  141. >You were going to be exposed as the phony you were, bearing not a single iota of arcane mastery.
  142. >You’d swiftly be kicked out, losing your sole source of revenue and any means to utilize your unique skillset; perish the thought of returning home, you’d have to desperately claw through an alien society just to survive.
  143. >If you were lucky.
  144. >Maybe they’d dig further. Maybe they’d probe you with their weird glowy horns and find out your /true/ origins.
  145. >What then?
  146. >Perhaps you’d be dissected by the very students you’d studied alongside. Perhaps you’d simply be stoned.
  147. >Your ears fold.
  148. >Either way, it was, as they say,
  149. >SO.
  150. >FUCKING.
  151. >OVER.
  152. >You arrive at your destination, Mister Parlor seemingly becominguncomfortable with the weight of your forlorn gaze.
  153. >He clears his throat, pointing at an apple and a red hoop on the wooden floor.
  154. >”Teleport the apple into the hoop.”
  155. >You turn to stare at it.
  156. >Taking in the way the lights of the classroom reflect off its pristine skin, its small indents from various mishandlings, the brown stem where it’d been irrevocably severed from the source unto which it was birthed.
  157. >You idly ponder its fate, whether it’d be uncaringly devoured by the whims of equinity or simply tossed away after completely FUCKING YOU OVER.
  158. >Your horn lights up as you shut your eyes.
  159. >You feel your magic pulse, enveloping the apple in a foreign glow as it waves along an unseen tide and attempts to make the impossible occur.
  160. >The weight of the arcane surges through your foreign being, writhing under your skin as if damning you for its disturbance.
  161. >More and more is fruitlessly poured, all while you know full well of the end result.
  162. >This feat was simply beyond your knowledge.
  163. >You were not a mage. Far from it.
  164. >You’d had to resist the urge to laugh in the face of anyone that had referred to you as such.
  165. >And yet, you still had to at least make an attempt.
  166. >You weren’t going to resign yourself to your fate without kicking and screaming, without struggling until every last bit of you spent everything that it could.
  167. >It was this mindset that stranded you here in the first place and it was what kept you going when you found yourself with no way back.
  168. >Your horn burns with exhaustion, nearing its limit when, suddenly, you feel the apple slip through your arcane grasp.
  169. >Your eyes snap open in utter shock as you see your green haze absent of the fruit.
  170. >It was gone, you’d squeezed it into a little tiny speck, it was ground it into fine dust, it was...
  171. >Sitting directly in the center of the red hoop.
  172. >You feel ice run through your veins.
  173. >Impossible is what it was.
  174. >You knew you’d failed, experienced your future crash and burn.
  175. >You had absolutely no idea what you were doing, this was entirely out of your abilities.
  176. >It was just too much.
  177. >The Professor’s speaks, but her voice is muffled to you, your attention entirely focused on finding an explanation as your eyes frantically dart around the room.
  178. >You’re debating between giving up and rushing out the room or simply picking up your charade once more, continuing on as if nothing was wrong when you make one last sweep of the room.
  179. >Your mind grounds to a halt as you see it in the corner of your eye.
  180. >A cream-colored horn, glowing a pale lilac hue.
  181.  
  182. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  183.  
  184. >The after-class walk to the laboratory was filled with a thundering silence.
  185. >The two of you were side by side, as you usually were, and yet you couldn’t bear to look her in the eye at the moment.
  186. >The reason for this was simple.
  187. >She /knew/.
  188. >You risk a glance, meeting her gaze for a split second before she turns her head away.
  189. >Shit, fucking hell!
  190. >How much? Since when?
  191. >Your income consisted of bits handed out by the university contracts for research, all of which were mostly spent on said research.
  192. >You didn’t have nearly enough to bribe her to keep her mouth shut.
  193. >Just what did she know? She was a resourceful girl, it wouldn’t be hard for her to take a quick scan of her partner’s background.
  194. >Of course she’d be suspicious upon finding it almost entirely empty.
  195. >Inwardly cursing, you chastise yourself for not putting more effort into your fraudulent origins.
  196. >Your mind races as you both turn a corner.
  197. >They don’t have the most useful compounds on the market, but with what’s available you should be able to…
  198. >You flinch as you catch yourself, wrenching that train of thought from its tracks.
  199. >You weren’t willing to go that far, not to her.
  200. >She reaches the laboratory doors first, opening and shutting them upon your entrance.
  201. >You hesitantly turn to look at her, but she continues to avoid eye contact.
  202. >Eventually, you open your mouth.
  203. “If you think-“
  204. >”Its really-“
  205. >Your lip twitches.
  206. You nod your head towards her, “You first.”
  207. >She scuffs a hoof on the floor before lifting her head to meet your eyes, donning a tentatively determined expression.
  208. >”I-Its really nothing to be ashamed of, you know.”
  209. >Your muzzle is quick to scrunch in confusion.
  210. >She coughs in her hoof, ”I’ve known you’ve always had trouble casting higher level spellforms, but you didn’t have to try so hard to hide it from me. I don’t judge or mind at all, honest! You shouldn’t have to feel like you have to be lie about yourself because of it.”
  211. >She takes the initiative to continue upon seeing your uncomprehending stare.
  212. >” R-Really, I find it admirable that you’ve made such progress in your studies in spite of having such low magical capabilities! Just because some ponies are born like that, doesn’t mean that their worth is any less. A stallion’s value isn’t based on that at all!”
  213. “…what.”
  214. >”After all, what really matters isn’t what’s up here,” a hoof points towards her horn, “but what’s in here,” she then points towards her head, before giving you a small, tentative smile and reassuringly placing a hoof on your shoulder.
  215. >…
  216. >You dazedly make your way to a chair at the laboratory table, levitating a quill and notebook from your saddlebags and taking a seat while trying your utmost best to suppress the masculine urge to curl up in a little ball and scream until everything in the world is okay again.
  217. >In a desperate attempt to shift the conversation from that unspeakable trainwreck, you open up your notebook to a page you’d spent the night before detailing, turning it to Moondancer.
  218. “I was thinking we’d do something with this. I’ve already illustrated a rudimentary diagram, I was hoping you’d be able to polish up the spellwork so we can shape up a final draft.”
  219. >She trots over and plops herself into a seat adjacent to your own, before levitating the notebook and scrutinizing its contents.
  220. >You prepare to explain their use and function, as you usually do, before her eyes widen in surprised delight.
  221. >She points to a section of the illustration containing various numbers and equations.
  222. >”This sequence is meant for soundwaves, right? Is this what the auditory receptor spell here is supposed to channel?”
  223. >A rush of surprise hits you upon hearing the question, having to resist the urge to gawk at the mare.
  224. >You’d never seen these ponies attempt anything higher than basic calculus.
  225. >How did she decipher it so quickly? None of the courses offered here should have taught her anything even remotely approaching what was on there.
  226. >You cautiously eye the pony sitting next to you, giving her a hesitant nod.
  227. “That’s… correct. Completely correct, Moondancer. I’m impressed I didn’t have to explain it to you this time.”
  228. >She thrusts her muzzle to the sky, donning a proud smile.
  229. >”Of course I’d pick up a bit on how you work your numbers. Just how long have we been doing this together, the two of us?” she stares at the page before shooting you a grin, “It still always surprises me to see how you make mathematics and magic function together so intimately, and I admit that I don’t understand the finer points of it yet, but I can’t argue with the results! Fascinating is what it is!”
  230. >You hold her gaze for a moment.
  231. >A multitude of birds are heard singing outside, their melody muffled by the laboratory walls.
  232. >You put on the best expression of pride you can muster.
  233. “That’s great, Moondancer. I’m glad to see you taking such an interest in this type of stuff.”
  234. >Her eyes light up before taking on a bashful look, “Of course! Its like nothing I’ve seen before, I’m sure you could run laps around the old math teacher here; hay, I bet even I could at this point. Really, the stuff we work on is always so different than what they teach us, I’m sure this one will be a blast too.”
  235. >You give off a sound of affirmation, her voice only half registering as your mind digests the various implications of what she’d just said.
  236. >She’d been learning from you.
  237. >Picking apart what you’d done.
  238. >That was the last thing you’d either wanted or foresaw.
  239. >You didn’t want to admit it, but it seems you’d been looking down on all of them.
  240. > An artist replicating the Mona Lisa for cavemen, all equipped with mere sticks of charcoal – that's how you saw yourself.
  241. >Never could you have imagined they’d actually glean something out of your practices.
  242. >You observe Moondancer as she busies herself with making corrections to the spellforms you’d drawn on the diagram.
  243. >No, you vividly remember the incompetence that led to you being here in the first place.
  244. >..Perhaps what you’d underestimated wasn’t ponykind, but her in particular.
  245. >She raises her head to look at you.
  246. >”Anon, can you tell me what this is section is supposed to represent? It looks like its supposed to be a transfiguration spell, but I’m not sure.”
  247. >Your musings come to a gradual halt.
  248. “Of course.”
  249. >You reach to grab the page when you feel something bump your forearm.
  250. >Turning, you see a stack of papers topple over the table.
  251. >The both of you cringe as they scatter across on the floor.
  252. >They lay there, shrouding the floor in a blanket of parchment, ink, and disappointment.
  253. >Moondancer sighs, lighting her horn and beginning the process of putting them back in order, you following suit.
  254. >”Really Anon, for somepony as smart as you are, you sure are a klutz,” she grumbles.
  255. >Your brow twitches
  256. >You briefly ponder the feasibility of transplanting her brain into the body of a minotaur, before dismissing the idea.
  257. >See how much /she/ likes it.
  258. >Moments pass in silence as various documents are lifted and inspected, enveloped up in green and lilac hues.
  259. >You idly chew on your quill as another group is sent off to rejoin its brethren.
  260. >You’re still not over it.
  261. >It was relatively low-level stuff, but she shouldn’t have been able to figure it out so fast.
  262. >These ponies believe their head of state moves the sun for crying out loud.
  263. >A place founded on a lie of such epic proportions shouldn’t have produced someone as intuitive as her.
  264. >More papers are picked up.
  265. >The stack is mostly reordered at this point, save for a select few that Moondancer had apparently taken a fascination with, staring at them with a measuredly neutral expression.
  266. >Upon giving them a look of your own, you find them to be particularly familiar, having written their contents yourself.
  267. >They were a formal appeal to FlimFlam Industries, ones you’d never gotten the chance to send out.
  268. >You slump back into your chair, resting your cheek on your hoof.
  269. >It wasn’t that long ago.
  270. >Two charming young entrepreneurs had shown an interest in your work at the last magical exhibition you and Moondancer had participated in.
  271. >Delighted with their appreciation for your craft, you’d allowed them to take you out for drinks at a local bar near the shopping district of Canterlot.
  272. >You’d easily hit it off afterwards over a game of poker, their innovative minds and business-oriented outlook on life being a refreshing thing to see in a place like this.
  273. >Of course, you’d have preferred not to lose every last bit of what you’d brought in at the betting table, but such was the price for good connections.
  274. >The appeal requested the sponsorship of a laboratory under their name, establishing you as the head of it under their payroll.
  275. >They’d receive a portion of everything the laboratory financially earned, and though their cut’s size would be something you’d never normally endorse, money was inconsequential so long as you got your hands on the resources to achieve what really mattered.
  276. >To sweeten the deal for them, you planned on providing the initial construction funds with money from the patent you’d hoped to acquire.
  277. >Alas, with the patent request having gone up in terrible, terrible flames, you can’t imagine them ever accepting such a request.
  278. >Coming off as cautious stallions, you imagine they would never be willing to shove off the investment that you required for something of such dubious payoff.
  279. >You languidly rub your forehead as the papers are magically plucked from her hold, returning to the stack.
  280. >Hopefully, with this new venture, you and Moondancer would produce something good enough to make up for the previous blunder.
  281. >Her eyes follow the papers before they turn to meet your own, lips pressed into a thin line.
  282. >”You know, I’ve seen these before, but I still don’t understand it.”
  283. >Your head tilts.
  284. “The papers? What don’t you understand?”
  285. >”How you could be so stupid.”
  286. >…
  287. >You have to take a second to respond, reigning in your baffled expression.
  288. “Excuse me?”
  289. >”Those papers. Why would you want to associate with those two?”
  290. >Where was this coming from?
  291. “Why wouldn’t I?”
  292. >She gives you an incredulous look.,
  293. >”Because they’re total phonies! You should know that! The way they shuffle around, their obviously fake smiles, it’s completely obvious that they’re sketchy! When you went with them after the exhibition, I thought you’d be smarter than to buy into what they were selling!” she shakes her head, “I forget sometimes that you’re not a Canterlot native, but if I knew that you’d have been so gullible I would have gone with you.”
  294. >You defensively raise your hooves as your mouth momentarily tries and fails to form a response.
  295. “I— you— well, you don’t have any proof that they’re so disreputable. Really, nothing suggested that they had any ill intentions, I don’t see where you’re coming up with all of this.”
  296. >She scoffs, “Its precisely because you failed to catch on to them that I should have gone with you. They were in the newspapers not too long ago, involved in a scandal with some Ponyville farm. I can show you if you want to see. Do you really want to be involved with people like that?”
  297. >You seriously doubted half the things that appeared on any Equestrian newspaper, much of it being too fantastical for to warrant any suspension of disbelief.
  298. >You’d seen scandalous photos in a popular, highly acclaimed tabloid of their goddess-ruler stuffing her mouth with baked goods.
  299. >Of course anyone adept in maintaining such a lofty false image would never be seen conducting themselves in such a manner.
  300. “You’re sure that those claims are reputable? I’m sure you know how the press has a tendency to exaggerate matters such as this.”
  301. >She averts her eyes, her muzzle twisting as a faint grimace envelops her face.
  302. >”I’m sure. One of my old /friends/,” the word is spat out, “testified against them in the column.”
  303. “Really. You don’t make your friend sound very trustworthy.”
  304. ”She’s… flawed. Extremely so, but she wouldn’t lie about something like this.”
  305. >Your mind reconciles this information with what you already know.
  306. >Gradually, your head slumps against the table, an abject weariness suddenly enveloping your being.
  307. > You were still grappling with pony body language, but was really that any excuse to be hoodwinked like this?
  308. “…I lost…” you grumble after a few seconds.
  309. >Moondancer frowns, leaning closer towards you.
  310. >”You what? Speak up.”
  311. >Groaning, you open your mouth.
  312. “I lost all my bits to them. They probably had extra cards up those vests they wore. Or maybe their hats. I don’t know.”
  313. >She stares at you for a moment, speechless.
  314. >”And you saw absolutely nothing wrong about any of that? You wanted to run off to go work for the same ponies who’d so obviously got one over you? You can’t be that oblivious,” she grits her teeth in anger, “why are you so desperate to get out of here, Anon?”
  315. > Feeling distinctly uncomfortable at the interrogation, your ears tuck back as you avoid her gaze.
  316. >You withhold any sort of reply until you see the beginnings of impatience begin creep onto her expression.
  317. >Why was being she so particular about this?
  318. “I didn’t think that they were like that. I wouldn’t have gone if I knew.”
  319. >”That’s— that’s not the point. I won’t let something like that happen to you again, and you shouldn’t fall for something like that again. What I don’t get is, why not just ride through university. See it through?” consternation shadows her face as she makes a sweeping gesture with her hoof, encompassing the entirety of the laboratory, “Are you not having fun doing all this?”
  320. >Tools and appliances that the two of you had spent months working alongside lay scattered around various corners of the room.
  321. >She looks down, bitterness coloring in her features.
  322. >”Am I really the only one that wants to be here?”
  323. >You slump.
  324. >…Damn it.
  325. >This entire thing was a bad idea.
  326. >You shouldn’t even be here.
  327. >Against your better judgement, you tentatively wrap a hoof around her, the hug a clumsy, awkward attempt to mirror the warm embraces these ponies seemed to be so fond of sharing.
  328. >You obviously can’t get to the meat of why you want to acquire your own lab.
  329. >But you can at least tell her a part of the truth.
  330. “I enjoy working with you, Moondancer. You’re not alone. You’re right, I’m… not the best when it comes to higher spellwork. So having someone like you fill in for my shortcomings allows me to realize the greater potential of my vision. And I’m grateful for that. Really.”
  331. >A draft blows from an open window, causing the edges of stray parchment to flutter.
  332. >She glances up, “Then why…?”
  333. >You sigh.
  334. “This place allows me to realize the greater potential of my vision, but not its entirety.”
  335. >You pull away and pick up one of the tools that had come with the university’s laboratory, its purpose entirely foreign to you.
  336. >You flick it away.
  337. "This place simply doesn’t have the things I need. What I need is only able to be provided through – forgive my bluntness – absurdly fat stacks of cash. Cash that I hoped those brothers had.”
  338. >She slams her hooves on the table, pulling herself up.
  339. >”Then we’ll earn it ourselves! Our next project should pull in enough bits to cover it, I’m sure of it!”
  340. >You resist the urge to scoff.
  341. >Right. Because our last one raked in /so/ much.
  342. >Your skepticism must have shown, because she’s quick to add on more to her statement.
  343. >”We’ll definitely do better than last time! That was just a fluke. I’ll make sure that this time is a success, I swear, so…”
  344. >She gives you a pleading look.
  345. >”So promise me that you’ll forget about the two of them.”
  346. >The request causes you to hesitate.
  347. >You’re really just taking her word on the entire matter, it’d feel like a faux pax to ask her for the scandal newspaper as proof at this point.
  348. >But she’d never lied to you before.
  349. >And, frankly, you still owe her from earlier today for saving your bacon.
  350. “Of course, I promise,” you nod.
  351. >A smile immediately splits across her face.
  352. >”Great!”
  353. >The appeal is promptly lifted from the paper stack.
  354. >“I’ll just get rid of this, then.”
  355. >It vanishes in a flash of lilac energy.
  356. >Moondancer returns to her work, humming as she makes various corrections and edits to different sections of the diagram.
  357. >But you’re not there to see it.
  358. >Its all out of focus.
  359. >You’re still staring at where the papers disappeared.
  360. >The edges of your vision becomes clouded, everything shrouded in a haze but that one spot.
  361. >A small fire in smoulders, kindled by a spark of vague, nebulous inspiration.
  362. >The lecture from earlier. The incident that brought you here. Magic.
  363. >Magic…
  364. >The sound of your chair’s screech pierces the room as you stand up.
  365. >Moondancer jolts when the documents she’d been working on are wrested from her grasp and swiftly ripped in two.
  366. >She looks up in anger, but whatever protest she’d been about to raise dies upon seeing the frenzy in your eyes.
  367. “Change of plans.”
  368. >Everything on the table is enveloped in emerald and shoved off its surface
  369. >Various forms and parchment languidly cascade down to the floor.
  370. >Numerous papers are taken out of your saddlebag as you place them in front of you, spread across the table, combining into a single surface.
  371. >You position with your forelegs on the edge of the table, standing.
  372. “We’re making something better.”
  373. >Your quill immediately springs to work, scribbling a new diagram with a speed and fervor you’d never known yourself to have.
  374. >Your partner silently watches as you do.
  375. >Eventually, the rough outline is done.
  376. >You yourself had a hard time understanding the thing at a glance.
  377. >Strange, esoteric symbols of math and magic littered the sheets.
  378. >But that didn’t matter.
  379. >You knew it would work regardless.
  380. >You turn to Moondancer, finding her inspecting the design.
  381. “What do you think? Is it doable?”
  382. >Her initial look of uncomprehending clouds over the longer she stares at the sheets.
  383. >She rises from her chair, brow furrowed and lips pursed.
  384. >”This… what is this supposed to be?”
  385. >An eager grin suddenly forms and threatens to split your face in two.
  386. “Something that will change the world! This, this is the true potential of teleportation realized! Believe me, this will be our greatest project yet.”
  387. >She looks at it with a slight frown, her eyes darting between the parchment and yourself.
  388. >Your expression gradually fades the longer the silence drags on.
  389. >You remove your forelegs from the table, fully facing her.
  390. “…Do you believe this something beyond what you can do? I think I can make an attempt at readjusting some of the energy parameters if its too much, but the basic design should more or less adhere to what’s on here…“
  391. >She opens her mouth, seemingly struggling form words, before shaking her head.
  392. >“No, we can get this done,” she readjusts her glasses and straightens up, “everything is doable, but-”
  393. “Excellent!”
  394. >You levitate a few of the drafting tools scattered across the room, setting them down in preparation of the work you’re about to do.
  395. “Lets get started then!”
  396. “Moondancer stares as you begin the process of drafting up the steps to your newest project, crafting familiar lines and angles with a practiced ease.
  397. >Turning, she takes another moment to observe the rough diagram you’d laid out on the table, the corners of her eyes sculpting a complicated expression.
  398. >The papers you’d pushed off lie on the floor, strewn in a disorganized mess.
  399. >She sighs, adjusting her glasses.
  400. >”I’m not cleaning that.”
  401. >Her horn lights up.
  402. >The scratches of quills fill the room as two of you bury yourselves in work.
  403. >Dreams of sky-piercing structures and soaring machines soak through your mind as the sun languidly sinks into the horizon, the glow of the evening’s red sky leaking through the windows.
  404. >Your parchment is flooded with familiar designs and shapes, their forms evoking a sense of distant nostalgia.
  405. >A different world, and a different species.
  406. >But you were still yourself.
  407.  
  408. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  409.  
  410. >The bits you’d tossed clatter on the shop’s counter as the bells above the entrance door jingle to bid you farewell.
  411. >A brown paper bag in hoof, you stroll through the streets of Canterlot, the moon’s glow bathing the city and lighting your path.
  412. >Anticipation, giddiness, nervousness.
  413. >They all swirl through your being as you make your way to your destination.
  414. >You’d bought something to celebrate the occasion after scrounging up the paltry amount of bits you’d managed to save over the weeks you’d been working with her.
  415. >It wasn’t the genuine article, but you’d wager it tasted and functioned about the same.
  416. >You were hoping so, anyway.
  417. >The lab appears in your vision, your hoofsteps providing the only source of sound amidst the dead of night as you approach it.
  418. >It’d been weeks, but the time was finally here.
  419. >Slowing to a halt, you rest a hoof on the door handle.
  420. >The time was finally here …
  421. >The entrance swings open as you enter the building, resting your bag on the floor.
  422. >Your eyes follow the sound of light snoring.
  423. >On the table lies your partner, the side of her head resting against her forelegs.
  424. >You silently approach her, watching her back rise and fall with each intake of breath.
  425. >The moonlight shines upon her, giving her cream-colored coat a colder, blueish appearance.
  426. >Crickets chirp outside. The tranquility of the night allows you to hear their song, unfettered by the chatter of students and the racket of ponies going about their daily life.
  427. >You quietly watch her, taking in her peaceful expression.
  428. >Your hoof briefly lifts, hesitates, and is put back down.
  429. >…
  430. >She jolts up when you shake her awake.
  431. >”Wha- I’m- Anon! I’m up!,” she sputters as you pull back
  432. >You take out some matches from your bag and light some of the torches, causing the room to fill with a warmer light.
  433. “Good morning Moondancer. Well, I suppose ‘good night’ would be more appropriate.”
  434. >You turn to her as the last torch is lit.
  435. “Have you finished the last of it? Is it finally ready for testing?”
  436. >Her head turns to the center of the lab, yours does the same.
  437. >An amalgamation of metal and wire sits, about as tall as you are and thrice as wide.
  438. >Various symbols of the arcane mark its surface, their meaning and workings unknown to you.
  439. >But their purpose clear.
  440. >Moondancer looks between the machine blueprints and the construct itself for a few seconds.
  441. >She soon puts them down and gives you a nod.
  442. >“Everything should be in order. I finished checking over the last of the spellwork today, so unless you flubbed something in the design, everything should work as intended.”
  443. >Your eyes want to linger on the machine for longer, but you tear your gaze away and offer her a smile.
  444. “Great… that’s excellent. You’ve worked hard. We’ll do the first rounds of testing tonight, as planned, but before we do…
  445. >You levitate the bag you’d brought in onto the table and reveal its contents to the world.
  446. >Chardonneigh.
  447. >A bottle of it, along with two glasses.
  448. >You couldn’t afford the hookers, so just this will have to do.
  449. “I was thinking we’d celebrate first.”
  450. >She gasps and immediately grabs a glass, a large grin spreading across her face. .
  451. >”Aww, you shouldn’t have!”
  452. >You smirk at the speed with which she fills her glass.
  453. >Brushing aside parchment to make room for yourself, you take a seat besides her.
  454. >She levitates the bottle over to you once she’s done.
  455. ”I heard Professor Gloaming got laid off today.” The bo`ttle tips, your glass fills. “Wasn’t he your applied magics professor?”
  456. >“He was. Some idiot ignored standard safety protocol and stood too close while he was doing a demonstration, almost got his face burned right off.”
  457. >She takes a large swig.
  458. >”It wasn’t his fault at all, but the school didn't want to deal with the backlash, so they fired him. Celestia knows the papers would have been all over it if they didn’t.” A sigh escapes her. “It’s a shame. His classes weren’t the worst. I doubt whatever mage they pull off the streets as a replacement will be as good as him, and switching professors in the middle of the semester always messes up the flow of the curriculum regardless.”
  459. >You lean back in your chair.
  460. “You’re already at the top of your class, something like this shouldn’t give you too much trouble. You’ll do fine.”
  461. >She scoffs.
  462. >“Of course I will. The extra work isn’t fun though, however easy it may be to do. Its still tedious.”
  463. >You stare at the straw gold liquid in your glass, giving it a light swirl.
  464. “Indeed it is. Say, I’ve never asked, but what do you plan on doing once we’re out of here?”
  465. >She hums, “We’re still only freshmen, I haven’t thought about it too much. I’ll figure it out later, but for now I’m focused on why I came here in the first place. I want to learn more, discover more, understand more. This is all done best through experimentation, as you know.” Moondancer looks up at you and smiles. “That’s why being with you is so fun.”
  466. >You stare at the moon through a window. She finishes her glass and pours herself another.
  467. >She’s a smart girl.
  468. >You’re sure she’ll go great places in this crazy horse world.
  469. >”What about you, did you have anything in mind?”
  470. >Shrugging, you take a sip.
  471. “You already saw what I’m trying to do once I’m out of here. Mostly what we’re doing here, really. Just with more supplies. Though, as you said, if this does bring in cash, I’ll be able to get the tools I want.”
  472. >”It should, if this thing it can do even half of what you say it can. I know a good blacksmith.”
  473. >You stop swirling your glass, pausing, before taking a larger gulp of the drink.
  474. >A good blacksmith, huh…
  475. >The two of you continue to talk about nothing in particular, the bottle’s contents steadily escaping it as the night wears on.
  476. >A faint redness colors Moondancer’s cheeks as she drains her own glass, a testament to her quest for inebriation.
  477. >Pony cheeks have fur, not skin, so maybe you were the one that was drunk. Or maybe you both were. Or maybe this world was.
  478. >Would explain a lot, really.
  479. >You put the remainder of the bottle into the bag.
  480. “That’s enough for now. Don’t want to be too hammered for this.”
  481. >She offers a grunt of affirmation.
  482. >”Remind me to take you to real liquor store tomorrow, we deserve better than the swill the convenience store around the corner sells.” Looking at the remainder of her drink, she finishes it off with a dopey smile. ”But, well, this isn’t so bad. Thanks for this, Anon. I’m glad you’re my partner.”
  483. >She leans her head on your shoulder in a sudden embrace, her forelegs wrapping you.
  484. >You initially stiffen up, but soon force yourself to relax, returning it.
  485. >A pit forms in the bottom of your stomach as you feel her soft fur brush against your body.
  486. >What did you think you were doing?
  487. >A few seconds pass.
  488. >You eventually pull away, rising from your chair.
  489. “We should get started.”
  490. >You walk to the construct, stopping in front of it.
  491. >Moondancer soon follows, making her way to a lever near you, a trail of wires connecting it to the metal structure.
  492. >”Got it,” an ear flicks, “Its all ready, just tell me when.”
  493. >Staring at the machine, the rapturous mania you’d expected to feel at this part of your journey is instead replaced with a sort of hollowness.
  494. >You really shouldn’t have come here.
  495. >No, rather, you really shouldn’t have ever met her.
  496. >Your eyes flick to Moondancer for a brief second.
  497. >Its normal to feel guilt, to have second thoughts about what you’re about to do.
  498. >Hypotheticals always exist. They always do in your line of work, the ‘What ifs’.
  499. >What if you just called it off.
  500. >Stay here with her, get your degree, live out your horsey life.
  501. >This place sucked, but, honestly, it sucked less the more time you spent here.
  502. >You know your worth. You could live as this world’s Aristotle, its Albert Einstein if you so chose.
  503. >You could usher in a golden age of technology, lift the ponies out of their ignorance and place them on the throne of this world.
  504. >But you’ve made your decision, and you’ll see it through.
  505. >Because that is who you are.
  506. >You nod towards her.
  507. “Do it.”
  508. >The machine belts out an ear-piercing screech once the lever is swung, its runes glowing and flooding the room with light while it violently rattles, as if something was trying to claw its way out of the metal to escape.
  509. >The two of you stand firm, your lips pressed into a thin line and your eyes squinting against the construct’s radiance.
  510. >Your surroundings warp and twist with the mass of metal and wire at the center of it all, magic sucked into its unfeeling grasp as it is forced to perform a role it isn’t used to.
  511. >CRACK!
  512. >A shockwave ruptures, causing the writhing surroundings to ripple as the sound reverbs across the room.
  513. >From its source lies a jagged, thin line.
  514. >You see it, but your eyes cannot bear to stare at it for too long. It is beyond what this body has evolved to process.
  515. >You avert your gaze.
  516. >More shockwaves resound across the room. The crack widens. It was as if some greater being had just bought a shiny new sledgehammer and decided to give it a go against the very foundations of this reality.
  517. >You force yourself to face it.
  518. >The crack had widened enough.
  519. >It was time.
  520. >You immediately sprint towards it, taking your chance in a decisive burst of speed.
  521. >It grows closer and closer. You stretch your hoof towards it, filled with a raw eagerness to leave this all behind you, a desperate run towards the finish line of your race on this planet.
  522. >Your vision explodes with white.
  523. >Flung backwards, your back hits the wall with a meaty thud as all the air is knocked out of you, sinking onto the floor.
  524. >You gasp and heave for the air, trying with very limited success to draw in breath as the ringing of your ears drowns out any other sound. Trying to get up is useless, your muscles now feeling like a blend of stone and cotton at the same time.
  525. >You open your eyes, your blurry vision taking its time to clear.
  526. >The machine is destroyed. A black crater is carved from the front of it, tearing into the floor as well.
  527. >Your heart sinks as you realize what had happened.
  528. >An explosion.
  529. >You’d been reckless, you’d been an idiot.
  530. >Moondancer!
  531. >You struggle to look for her, your eyes not working at their full capacity.
  532. >Your dread is drenched immediately with relief upon seeing her standing.
  533. >She’s staring at you.
  534. >A lilac shield surrounds the pony. Her horn glows as she holds eye contact with you, wearing an utterly blank expression.
  535. >The area around her is pristine and untouched by the impact of the blast.
  536. >Flecks of torn and burnt paper dance around the air, gently bouncing off the shield upon making contact.
  537. >It is dispelled.
  538. >She slowly walks towards you.
  539. >You try to say something, but words fail you.
  540. >”Where were you trying to go, Anon?”
  541. >You choke on your breath.
  542. >She stops in front of you, gazing down at your collapsed form.
  543. >”Anon,” she leans down and grabs you by the mane, forcing you to look up at her, “Where were you trying to go?”
  544. “I… I wasn’t…”
  545. >Her neutral expression immediately breaks into a fierce snarl.
  546. >”Do you think I’m an idiot!?”
  547. >She shoves your head against the ground and stands, using a hoof to roughly step on the back of your head.
  548. >”Did you think I couldn’t recognize a portal matrix when I see one? Did you think I’d just follow the design without actually looking at it? Do you think me so stupid as to be incapable of learning a single thing from you, despite spending every last day with you for months? Did you really think I couldn’t recognize a Faust-forsaken portal matrix, Anon?! Me?!”
  549. >She lifts her hoof and violently stomps the ground in front of you, mere inches from your face.
  550. >”You’re trying to /leave/ me, Anon. Just like you did with those brothers. Just like /she/ did. Everyone’s, everyone always, everyone’s…” she pants, as if short of breath, before gritting her teeth and thrashing her head from side to side, steadying herself.
  551. >What is this? What was happening right now?
  552. >A pounding headache rolls around your mind as you continue to try and control your breathing.
  553. >You don’t understand. You want to go home.
  554. >”You’re /lucky/ I caught what you were up to and put a stop to it.”
  555. >She’s… talking about the brothers? But-
  556. >A realization strikes you, and your blood runs cold.
  557. “You… never… sent the patent requests…”
  558. >”Of course not,” She scoffs.
  559. >“But I won’t need to worry about that anymore. Because now? You can’t leave me. Not anymore.”
  560. “What…?”
  561. >She chuckles.
  562. >”We’re closer than friends now. Portal magic is highly illegal, Anon. I knew what it was as soon as you first showed me the rough outline. At this school, they teach us more about the things we aren’t supposed to do than the things we are. We can get locked up forever for this, never to see the light of day again. Celestia really doesn’t like dark mages, you know. What’ll she think when she sees something like this?”
  563. >She takes out the machine blueprints, hovering them in front of her.
  564. >Your pupils constrict as the ramifications of what you’d just done sink in.
  565. >You’d known, but you’d quickly dismissed it before. In your mind, what you were doing counted as science, not magic, but you’re sure whoever was sentencing you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
  566. >You weren’t ready to face judgement at the hands some primitive monarch.
  567. >Panicking, you act fast. Using the last of your strength you levitate a torch from its bracket.
  568. >It shoots across the room, causing Moondancer to step back in surprise as its flame manages to catch the edge of the blueprints, lighting them on fire.
  569. >The two of you watch them fall to the floor, the ball of flame dutifully consuming its fuel.
  570. >It smolders for a while before Moondancer extinguishes the flames with a wave of her horn, leaving only ash.
  571. >You slowly exhale, your chest feeling lighter, but your relief only lasts for mere seconds before she bursts out laughing, throwing her head back.
  572. >The sounds of her mirth bounce off the laboratory walls.
  573. >”Hahaha! Did you-snrk, did you really think I wouldn’t have made copies? Oh, oh, Anon, you’re too much! Pencil Pusher’s Paper Printer is one of the easiest spells to learn!”
  574. >Her laughs die down to chuckles.
  575. >You can only watch, helpless, as she shakes her head with a grin.
  576. >”I told you. What we did is in writing. Most of it your own! Hay, its even in physical form provided we just leave everything here! But I’ll help you clean it up. All the dirty evidence. Because now, we’re closer than partners.”
  577. >She looks at you with a gentle smile before lifting you on your back, pinning you against the wall with magic.
  578. >You don’t struggle. You can barely move.
  579. >She leans herself against your stomach, fervently nuzzling your chest with her face, taking in your scent.
  580. >“Oh, Anon…”
  581. >Raising her face to your own, she licks your lips before tugging one of them with her teeth and letting go.
  582. >You feel blood rush to your face, in spite of yourself.
  583. >She then drags her tongue across your cheek, pausing once her lips near your ear.
  584. >“Now, “ she whispers, “we’re accomplices.”
  585. >She pulls away.
  586. >The both of you observe each other, gazing deep into the other’s eyes.
  587. >Her smile deepens, “Let do some more experiments, Anon.” She begins to slide lower, “Just the two of us.”

Accomplice

by Winter