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Shape Your Home, Part 2

By Ponegreen
Created: 2nd November 2020 09:31:33 PM
19th January 2022 10:37:14 AM

  1. Prompt: #deca CPU pony wAIfu green, for /mlp/'s /nmp/ (Part Two Complete)
  3. 39
  5. >#deca.mare and you race through the woods.
  6. >The ordeal is not as humiliating as you have feared.
  7. >While #deca.mare has an obvious, in fact unbeatable advantage, she does not push herself to the absolute limit.
  8. >Which gives you the chance to keep up, if only barely.
  9. >She is always a metre or two ahead, but she slows down when the distance gets any longer.
  10. >You assume her pace is a moderate running speed for ponies; not a casual trot, but far away from what you would consider sprinting.
  11. >Yet this leaves you in a slightly different position.
  12. >You need to flat out run all the time in order to match her performance.
  13. >The strain on your muscles is noticeable, but you do not tire.
  14. >Another perk of being inside a simulation.
  15. >But the initial stress fades eventually.
  16. >Instead of permanently keeping track of the distance between you and #deca.mare, you begin to observe your environment and the sceneries it entails.
  17. >The small path winding into the distance.
  18. >Large trees everywhere around you.
  19. >Bristling leaves in the wind above.
  20. >Rays of sunlight which penetrate the foliage and shine all the way through to the ground.
  21. >It is an almost mystical sight to behold.
  22. >You forget all about the contest for the time being and just let yourself immerse in the general mood around you as you run.
  23. >At some point you look at #deca.mare and notice that she was watching you over her shoulder while you looked around.
  24. >Her content smile tells you what you need to know.
  25. >She is happy to see how you marvel at the scenery.
  26. >You think you know why she reacts that way.
  27. >She wishes you to be familiar with the world just as much as you want her to get ready for a social life.
  28. >And your reactions are exactly what she wants to see.
  29. >Seems like you make some progress in both directions.
  30. >You give her a wordless nod of appreciation.
  31. >This is enough for her.
  32. >She turns her gaze back to the way ahead and subtly reduces her speed, giving you the opportunity to catch up.
  38. >Now you keep on running side by side, without any pressure whatsoever.
  39. >You occasionally glance over to #deca.mare. and sometimes watch the forest around you.
  40. >Even though you like what you see and enjoy the surroundings with all your senses, the forest feels somewhat off.
  41. >Not a surprise; there are no animals or the like.
  42. >No chirping birds, no insects, nothing.
  43. >The faint breeze and the sound of the leaves are all there is.
  44. >Just as you did with Canterlot and the spa, you try to imagine how it would be like if it were aptly populated.
  45. >#deca.mare raises her voice.
  46. >"The world is growing on you, Anon. I can feel it. This is a good sign."
  47. "Hm, what can I say? Equestria will become our future home after all. Though it takes some time to get used to that idea."
  48. >"Do I hear a hint of insecurity in your voice?"
  49. "Not really insecurity, just an uncertainty of expectation. Our little match has made something clear to me, #deca. I made the mistake to constantly think in Earth standards. But Equestria is not, and will never be, just like Earth."
  50. >You keep short pauses during your sentences in order to maintain your running rhythm.
  51. "It was clearly inspired by Terran history and mythology, yet this is not the same. And it would be highly inappropriate to see Equestria only like a one-to-one copy of Earth, just with talking ponies instead of humans. That simply doesn't work and is extremely unfair."
  52. >You laugh once.
  53. "I need to stop comparing these two."
  54. >"Will this be a problem for you?"
  55. "Guess not. If you help me to learn more about it."
  56. >"With pleasure, Anon. As I told you, there is still quite a heap of knowledge about the world we have yet to cover."
  57. "And the other lessons?"
  58. >"These as well, but we are theoretically ready to get started with the first steps of our project."
  59. >You come to a sudden halt.
  60. >The thoughts inside your head begin to get restless.
  61. >This is far too soon for your tastes.
  66. >#deca.mare almost stumbles as you fall back out of the blue.
  67. "Already? But we have barely started with engineering. And worst of all, I don't even remember some of it."
  68. >"Shush, Anon."
  69. >You ignore her.
  70. "And we have only seen, what, one season so far? This wholly insufficient, #deca."
  71. >"Anon!"
  72. >Whoa.
  73. >This is the first time you hear #deca.mare actually yelling in agitation.
  74. >It was not even a fierce shout, but you did not know that she had this in her at all.
  75. >She breathes loudly before she goes on.
  76. >"Listen. We have mutually agreed to the project. And you said you trust my expertise."
  77. "That I did."
  78. >"Then let me tell you this. We have more than enough time for practice, even if we start, say, tomorrow. The first steps alone take weeks to really get anywhere."
  79. >#deca.mare approaches you directly and rears up right in front of you.
  80. >She places her forehooves on your shoulders, but without pushing you this time.
  81. >She is looking you directly in the eye.
  82. >The effect gets you every time.
  83. >Must have something to do with the size of those things.
  84. >You put a hand on her back in response and focus solely on her without saying anything.
  85. >"It will be alright. I know what I am doing. And I know you will learn everything we need."
  86. "Are you su..."
  87. >"Shush. No doubts, Anon. And no backtalk."
  88. >You must admit, her confidence calms you down considerably.
  89. >And it gives you the opportunity to think clearly.
  90. >She is right, you have plenty of time.
  91. >Just think of all the work you have to do before you can begin with the actual process.
  92. >Mapping planets, acquiring the resources, and so on.
  93. >"Also think of the progress you made so far, Anon. You will learn over time. And you will find yourself depending less and less on a direct link to my knowledge."
  94. >This is indeed a fair point.
  95. >#deca.mare maintains her engrossing, but not uncomfortable stare.
  100. >"But let me restate what you said to me: We are here for other things, right? Let us leave the professional matters for another time. Simply try not to overthink it."
  101. >Man, the things you have said earlier.
  102. >She winks.
  103. >"And you were right. Sometimes you need to be reminded of your own statements, it seems."
  104. >She lets go of you and indicates her readiness to run once more.
  105. >"What do you think? Another round of running before we wrap it up? I am eager for my turn."
  106. >Not hard to figure out why.
  107. "Count me in."
  108. >You get in position as well.
  109. >For the second time of this session, you begin to run on the mark of three.
  110. >But this time you try to keep your head free from too many roaming thoughts.
  111. >Just savour the moment, and the rest will come on its own.
  112. >#deca.mare and you pass several different sections of the forest.
  113. >Some have a relatively dense foliage, others get gradually clearer, with less trees in the direct vicinity.
  114. >After roughly twenty more minutes, you reach a spacious glade, covered in grass as well as several smaller plants and bushes.
  115. >The sun shines directly on this opening.
  116. >You need to blink several times to get used to the brightness after the race on the mostly shaded path.
  117. >But once the initial shock is over, the light and warmth starts to feel more and more comfortable.
  118. >"I think this is a great place to conclude your turn."
  119. "Yeah, I agree. Though you make it sound as if you led us here on purpose."
  120. >#deca.mare chuckles suspiciously.
  121. >Oh no.
  122. >"I had something in mind. If you let me do it."
  123. "My previous point still stands. I'm fine as long as it is nothing overly excessive."
  124. >"This is a rather vague description, but I understand what you mean. It should live up to your standards."
  125. "In this case, go ahead."
  126. >You hope she does not drastically misinterpret your point.
  127. >#deca.mare is unbeatable when it comes to scientific aspects.
  128. >Yet her social track record is obviously far from being flawless.
  133. >Regardless, a promise remains a promise, no matter what.
  134. >"Follow me."
  135. >#deca.mare casually trots across the field.
  136. >You follow her without a remark.
  137. >She comes to a stop a few dozen metres in.
  138. >"Anon, could you please sit down?"
  139. >Alright, into the grass you go.
  140. >You do as she asks, sitting in a familiar cross-legged position.
  141. "What now?"
  142. >#deca.mare sits down her haunches as well.
  143. >"Before I begin, let me make sure we are on the same level."
  144. >You have a feeling that this might become a little awkward.
  145. >"As you know, I have been trying several times now to bring us closer, physically speaking."
  146. >Yep, she is going for one of those speeches.
  147. >Time to cut this short.
  148. "No need to beat around the bush, #deca. We're both adults, and we've been playing this game for far too long. You try to get me to nail you, plain and simple."
  149. >#deca.mare's voice fails her a moment, as her pupils widen slightly.
  150. >But she manages to snap out of it and keep her composure.
  151. >"That is... one way to call it, I suppose. But you are right."
  152. >She shakes her head.
  153. >Fascinating to behold, she is far more thin-skinned about the matter when you turn the tables.
  154. >"However, my attempts only met with partial success, as you can surely recall."
  155. "Yes, the little signals were everything but subtle."
  156. >Her demeanour before your very first night comes to your mind.
  157. >And her little stunt the next morning.
  158. >Not to mention the bath tub debacle.
  159. >"To be honest, I have not foreseen such a reservation on your part, Anon. This shall not be an insult, but your reactions were not what I expected."
  160. >She shifts a little bit closer.
  161. >"Do not misunderstand me; I see your willingness to progress, and I understand why you need time to acclimate. But your personal restraints are just as noticeable to me."
  162. >Another shift.
  167. >"So I have been wondering what we could do against this hesitation. It is clearly not a physical or medical problem. You are a healthy male in all regards."
  168. >It is for the best to chalk that up as a compliment.
  169. "I think I get the idea, but I don't think it is that simple."
  170. >You are not sure if you should mention the pony issue.
  171. >While you have somewhat accepted the fact that #deca.mare is a pony, getting too intimate with her still does not settle that well with you.
  172. >Also unfortunately for you, you find yourself unable to whisk these thoughts away with logical reasoning.
  173. >And your social upbringing is no great help either.
  174. >In fact, it does the very opposite; you imagine most people you know would not look kindly on this relationship.
  175. >Voluntarily coupling with a pony?
  176. >Good luck trying to explain that to your family or friends.
  177. >The whole war story notwithstanding, of course.
  178. >#deca.mare observes you with a great deal of care.
  179. >Oh damn, it is too late.
  180. >She has heard those thoughts already.
  181. >"Anon, let me try something out."
  182. "What exactly?"
  183. >"I have the feeling that you detract yourself from our relationship by thinking too much about every potentially negative detail you can come up with. As miniscule as it might be. I doubt you do this consciously, but the result remains the same. You still do not see me as a regular partner."
  184. >It pains you to admit this, but her statement is valid.
  185. >"So let me attempt to change that."
  186. "Okay, but how?"
  187. >"By appealing to your primal urges, Anon."
  188. >Awkward time?
  189. >Awkward time.
  190. "Oh man, you want to seduce me?"
  191. >#deca.mare shakes her head.
  192. >"No, that word has such a negative connotation. I rather want you to see me differently. These barriers shall go."
  193. "Can you go a little bit into the details?"
  194. >"Not a good idea. It shall be a surprise to you. Without any preparation. The focus of this session lies on nothing but the sensory stimuli. To put it bluntly: I want you to feel this."
  199. >At least she is straightforward with her explanations.
  200. >And just as if on cue, your mind serves you a variety of reasons why you should say no, twitching prickling on your skin included.
  201. >But this is exactly the thing which #deca.mare meant when she talked about your reservations.
  202. >And you realise that accepting her offer might be the best way to overcome said obstacles, your inner voice be damned.
  203. >"I promise to keep my advances in check this time."
  204. "No offence, but are you sure you know how to do that properly?"
  205. >"None taken. And yes, I think so. Our previous interactions have given me a few hints about what might be okay and what is inopportune."
  206. >Indeed, a flight through the bath tub can be a pretty efficient teacher.
  207. >Never mind, do not think about this now.
  208. >#deca.mare looks at you with a neutral, expecting expression.
  209. >"So, what do you say?"
  210. >She is absolutely serious about this.
  211. >None of her previous prankish streaks are showing.
  212. >You assume she genuinely thinks this will help your relationship as a whole.
  213. >"But do not accept just because you feel obligated to it out of pressure. It does not work without your full compliance."
  214. >Your decency says no, but your rationality agrees with #deca.mare.
  215. "You know, I'd be lying if I said that I don't feel a tad nervous about your idea."
  216. >"That much is to be expected."
  217. "But you're right, I suppose. This may be the best way for us. I accept."
  218. >You see how #deca.mare's body relaxes slightly.
  219. >Strange, you have not even noticed that she was so stiff.
  220. >But by now she looks visibly relieved.
  221. >"Thank you, Anon. I will not disappoint you."
  222. >To be honest, that would be the first time.
  223. "Okay, tell me what I'm supposed to do."
  224. >"You do absolutely nothing. Close your eyes and relax. Let me handle the rest."
  225. >Sounds easier than it is; your mixed excitement meddles a bit with your self-restraint.
  226. >"Just remember: There is nothing to fear and no one present who would judge you."
  231. >You take another long breath.
  232. >In and out.
  233. >You hear a rustling of grass.
  234. >#deca.mare has apparently risen up.
  235. >Quiet, short steps, each a little closer than the last.
  236. >Your guess was correct.
  237. >You feel an unexpected change.
  238. >The sport shirt you were wearing has vanished.
  239. >#deca.mare has dematerialised it.
  240. >This ability in itself should not surprise you, but this is the first time #deca.mare has actively manipulated something you are wearing, as far as you can remember.
  241. >You try not to imagine all the practical jokes she could have played in theory.
  242. >No, bad timing.
  243. >Stay in the present.
  244. >A sudden soft pressure, squarely on your chest.
  245. >She has placed a hoof on you.
  246. >This is not an unknown sensation for you by now.
  247. >Nevertheless, you tense up instinctively due to the context of your session, but manage to relax again within seconds.
  248. >"You muster a lot of goodwill for this."
  249. >#deca.mare's voice is unusually mellow.
  250. >"I am grateful for that."
  251. >She is going to fully resort on her feminine attributes.
  252. >Should not come as a surprise, given her intent.
  253. >Her hoof slides upwards, maintaining a soft pressure.
  254. >It sends a tingling sensation through your skin.
  255. >Normally you would not react in such a sensitive manner, but this is a different situation.
  256. >And #deca.mare knows where she has to apply pressure to get the desired results.
  257. >"And you mean much to me too, Anon. Maybe more than you can understand."
  258. >Her voice gets more intense, with light sultry undertones.
  259. >And her head is shifting closer to you.
  260. >You can hear #deca.mare breathing while her hoof wanders to the base of your neck.
  261. >"I yearn to live out our relationship. In all its aspects."
  262. >#deca.mare's hoof reaches over your shoulder while she leans her head beside yours.
  267. >Her tender fur touches your cheek and her muzzle rests near your ear.
  268. >Touching her has always been a snug sensation, but something makes #deca.mare's contact even more inviting than it was before.
  269. >Could this all be caused by your own attitude?
  270. >"I have desires, Anon. Wishes of passion and fulfilment."
  271. >Her voice is practically brimming with emotion.
  272. >"As do you. No need to deny it."
  273. >To further underline her intentions, #deca.mare speaks slower than before, accentuating every word in the process.
  274. >"So why should we not share them? We can make each other happy."
  275. >Oddly enough, hearing her speak like this has a considerable stimulating effect on you.
  276. >You almost forget why you were hesitant about her advances in the first place.
  277. >Almost.
  278. >But she is gaining ground.
  279. >#deca.mare is aware of your emotional state and proceeds with a hushed, whispering voice.
  280. >"Everything you want, whatever it is."
  281. >She pulls your upper body slightly closer.
  282. >"And maybe I can offer you things you have never thought of yourself."
  283. >Before you can ponder what she might be referring to, you feel how #deca.mare shifts her weight.
  284. >Her hoof slowly slides along your arm and she begins to walk around you.
  285. >But #deca.mare maintains the physical contact; her side keeps touching you the whole time.
  286. >You can hear slow steps on the grass and feel her motions on your skin.
  287. >She is heading for your back.
  288. >And this is not all.
  289. >She finds yet another trick to double down.
  290. >Long strands of hair caress your chin.
  291. >An admittedly pleasurable experience.
  292. >However, something does not add up in your mental image.
  293. >You do not understand immediately how this is possible.
  294. >After all, her head is behind you.
  295. >But even if it were not, she does not have such a long mane.
  296. >Then you understand.
  297. >She is using her tail for this little sensual demonstration.
  298. >You refrain from imagining any implications.
  299. >But the suggestive potential of this gesture is not lost on you.
  304. >#deca.mare notices your inner turmoil.
  305. >She retreats her tail and leans onto your shoulders by wrapping her forelegs around your neck.
  306. >"Shh. Relax. I will do nothing without your consent."
  307. >She is very close to your ears and proceeds with her whispers.
  308. >"I would be very glad if you would, however."
  309. >#deca.mare gently presses your upper body against hers with her forelegs.
  310. >"And you would be too, Anon. Trust me. The only thing I need is your permission."
  311. >She begins to nuzzle you.
  312. >"Please?"
  313. >Her tone reveals a slight teasing mood.
  314. >Not a bad sort of tease, you figure, but a tease nonetheless.
  315. >One in which #deca.mare feigns an act of coy pleading.
  316. >Both of you know very well that she does not have to resort to this particular strategy, yet it is obvious what she tries to accomplish.
  317. >And you can indeed see a certain appeal in it, much to your own surprise.
  318. >Of course you do not actually want #deca.mare to adapt the role of a submissive partner.
  319. >And still, it is this way of acting which somehow resonates well with a subconscious part of yours.
  320. >#deca.mare switches back to her normal way of speaking.
  321. >But she keeps her voice low and slow, as she is practically talking directly into your ear.
  322. >"I know you think frequently about all the ways in which we differ. You have your reasons, but I must disagree."
  323. >She gives you a swift, heartily peck.
  324. >"After all, we are not all that different if you really think about it. We are a downright romantic couple."
  325. >You are initially tempted to believe that #deca.mare must have made an attempt at a bad joke, but you know her better.
  326. >This means too much for her.
  327. >She would not dare to risk killing the mood with a poor comedic act.
  328. >"A man and a mare, both lost in space because of ill fortune, find each other after a fated accident and fall in love in their mutual exile and isolation."
  333. >Well, she left out some essential details in her summary.
  334. >Does it really matter though?
  335. >Her interpretation has covered the most important points.
  336. >The only ones that count, actually.
  337. >#deca.mare chuckles softly.
  338. >You can feel the weak quaking of her body thanks to the intense physical contact.
  339. >The ensuing friction between your skin and her fur is unexpectedly arousing.
  340. >Is she finally breaking through?
  341. >"May I use the term 'forbidden' love as well? It has all that is needed for a great story. Well, almost."
  342. >She emits a short, weak breath out of her nostrils.
  343. >The sudden sensation of warm air makes you shiver, but not necessarily in a bad way.
  344. >#deca.mare is hell-bent on pulling all the strings she can find.
  345. >"All we need is the happy life ever after."
  346. >You briefly consider to ask her whether she refers to the creation of a strange new world, or to her dream of getting thoroughly rutted.
  347. >Jokingly, of course.
  348. >But that would be more than rude.
  349. >And you are equally determined to not disturb this session.
  350. >You keep your mouth shut and await what comes next.
  351. >#deca.mare carefully pulls you down.
  352. >Your head and upper body rub against her. all the way down from the chest, to her belly, right into her lap.
  353. >You realise she has also sat down on her haunches in the meantime.
  354. >#deca.mare uses the inner sides of her hind legs to pin your head and neck.
  355. >The sheer intimacy of this position lets your heart beat faster.
  356. >You mentally implore that #deca.mare does not get any brash ideas.
  357. >Who knows what she might have in mind.
  358. >Pretty much anything is possible at this point.
  359. >"Anon, look at me."
  360. >What?
  361. >"Look at me."
  362. >You follow her instructions and open your eyes.
  363. >The figure of #deca.mare towers above.
  364. >She is looking straight back at you.
  365. >Her look has a deep and powerful charm to it.
  366. >You see a strong longing in her, mixed with genuine affection.
  371. >You cannot help but see it as an emotional challenge.
  372. >This is #deca.mare's attempt to nudge you in a certain direction.
  373. >In addition to this already compromising position, she also lays her forelegs on your shoulders.
  374. >She is almost cradling you in a somewhat unconventional manner.
  375. >Your heartbeat intensifies.
  376. >A strong, fast heartbeat.
  377. >It is hard for you to determine whether this is caused by excitement or panic.
  378. >Maybe a little bit of both.
  379. >"Please, do not be alarmed. A certain nervousness is a natural reaction."
  380. >#deca.mare slightly shifts her body on the spot.
  381. >Each movement translates directly to you as well.
  382. >Which means that every little impulse gets you in contact with #deca.mare's accentuated physical features all around you.
  383. >And it feels good.
  384. >In fact, more than that.
  385. >It is more alluring than it should be.
  386. >"Try not try to resist that sensation. After all, this is the state we wanted to reach, is it not? Now tell me, Anon. How do you feel?"
  387. >That is a redundant question.
  388. >She knows everything about your health and mental state.
  389. >#deca.mare shakes her head.
  390. >"No, I am not interested in the vitals. Metrics and values can reveal much, but there is more to one's mind than that."
  391. >She begins to massage your shoulders.
  392. >"I want to hear you voicing your thoughts."
  393. >Easy now.
  394. >Think before you speak.
  395. >Unfortunately for you, having your head surrounded by a friendly and admittedly cute pony mare makes it hard for you to form coherent sentences.
  396. >Especially when said mare is currently busy with making herself as attractive to you as she possibly can.
  397. >At least as long as this does not cross any explicit lines, that is.
  398. >#deca.mare's expression resembles an awaiting, yet caring attitude.
  399. >"Well? An honest answer is all I ask for."
  400. >Oh man, how do you put it?
  405. >You are fully aware that her question entails more than what is apparent on the surface.
  406. >You do not doubt for a second that she is interested in your thoughts, that much is clear.
  407. >Yet there is another intent behind her question.
  408. >#deca.mare also refers to your feelings towards one certain aspect.
  409. >This is not much of a secret to either of you, but it makes it so much harder for you to come up with a decent answer.
  410. >Well, you knew where this was going right from the start.
  411. >And here you are.
  412. >You have to give it a shot.
  413. "I'm feeling great, #deca. You are a kind soul and a beautiful pony."
  414. >Good start and absolutely honest.
  415. >But you cannot leave it at that.
  416. >#deca.mare expects a specific answer.
  417. >How should you react?
  418. >She will certainly do it with you right here if you accept.
  419. >Maybe this would be for the best.
  420. >It may help her to get a little bit more docile in the long run.
  421. >But that would also be somewhat wrong, as in completely non-romantic.
  422. >You get an idea.
  423. "#deca, I think I'm ready a few concessions."
  424. >#deca.mare's eyes suddenly light up.
  425. >"Really?"
  426. >Her pitch is much higher than usual.
  427. "Yeah. The idea is still a bit... let's call it exotic to me, but you deserve it. Just as you deserve my trust."
  428. >Her "grip" around you gets a little tighter.
  429. >Not by much, but given the position in which you are, you begin to blush slightly.
  430. >"Aw, Anon. Thank you!"
  431. >There is no way back now; you got her going.
  432. >You try to remain calm as #deca.mare gets visibly excited herself.
  433. >"How do you want to do it? I am not all too picky."
  434. >#deca.mare starts to trace circles on your skin with a foreleg.
  435. >"We both shall derive pleasure out of it, so tell me what you... fancy. And I will oblige."
  436. >She tries her best to present herself as passionate.
  437. >Which seems rather legit, as far as you are concerned.
  438. >But her pace is much too fast.
  439. >You fear she might even stimulate herself to be in the right mood.
  440. >Okay, damage control, Anon.
  445. >You need to put a lid on this before the situation spirals out of control.
  446. "Whoa there, cut! Hold your horses."
  447. >Probably the most inappropriate pun you could have made.
  448. >#deca.mare looks confused.
  449. >"Anon? What is wrong?"
  450. "Nothing. No, wait, something."
  451. >Great speech, worthy of a poet.
  452. >You take a breath.
  453. "Okay, let's try this again. I think your approach is not right, #deca."
  454. >"Oh? What are you referring to?"
  455. "I think you have a wrong conception of romance. You'd do it here and now, in the middle of the grass field, and call it romantic, I assume?"
  456. >#deca.mare nods.
  457. >"If you are fine with it, sure."
  458. >Now you must be a bit blunt to her.
  459. >Tough for now, though it will aid you in the long run.
  460. "See, this is not romance, that's unceremonious fucking."
  461. >You think you see a hint of a cringe in her face.
  462. "Probably physically pleasing nonetheless, but not a proper moment for what you envision. No, you want something celebratory, and we shall treat it as such."
  463. >#deca.mare evaluates your words, and seems to agree.
  464. >"So what do you propose, Anon?"
  465. "A short delay. Only until the evening. Then we have a proper dinner. The full list, comfy scenery, candlelight, a fine meal, and so on."
  466. >#deca.mare listens carefully.
  467. "We make ourselves comfortable and try our hands at being lovebirds. And afterwards we retreat into our chamber and see what happens. Maybe we'll get down to 'business' right away, or maybe we'll take it slow. Whatever seems right to us. How does that sound for a romantic setting, hm?"
  468. >"And you would be okay with..."
  469. "Yes, I promise. In whatever fashion feels natural to us. But please bear in mind that I am an amateur in this matter."
  470. >"Something we have in common, Anon."
  471. >Right.
  472. >At least you are not likely to embarrass yourself.
  473. >Unless the whole thing turns into a disaster, which you will try to avoid by all means.
  474. >For your mutual sake.
  475. >So, this is it.
  476. >No more evasions.
  477. >You have a deadline now.
  478. >Well, sort of.
  483. 40
  485. >#deca.mare still maintains her "grip" around you.
  486. >You could ask her to release you, since you have finally struck a mutual deal.
  487. >Yet you do not.
  488. >No, there is no point to it; you are going to get it on with her in a few hours anyway.
  489. >And it does feel comfortable to be hold by someone who loves you and who you can love in turn.
  490. >But as a caring partner, you want to give #deca.mare something as well.
  491. >So you give her an opportunity to open up.
  492. "Hey, #deca."
  493. >"Yes?"
  494. "How do you feel right now?"
  495. >#deca.mare breaks the eye contact to look into the distance.
  496. >"Hm, where to start?"
  497. "Just do like I did. Start at one point and let it out."
  498. >"Relieved, excited, nervous, anxious even, but also happy. A bit of those."
  499. >So you are not the only one, good to know.
  500. >Though you did not expect that, since #deca.mare was so adamant to get your agreement to her advances.
  501. >"I feel a little bit like being stuck in a wonderful dream. As if I could wake up any moment. Alone."
  502. >You quickly grab one of #deca.mare's forelegs.
  503. "You know this won't happen. I'm real and here to stay."
  504. >"I do, but the uneasiness remains."
  505. >You see a weak grin.
  506. >"This is my irrational fear."
  507. "This may seem uncouth to ask, but how can you think that?"
  508. >"You underestimate the scope, Anon. Time is the key term here. The last days have indeed been wonderful, if not the best of my life. And I have to thank you for it."
  509. "I smell a but."
  510. >"But what are they, compared to the centuries prior? At least in terms of time, that is. I fell in a steep routine which you have shaken up. Everything feels so unreal now."
  511. >You apply a little more pressure on her limb.
  512. "Stay in the present, #deca. I promise I won't magically disappear."
  513. >You wonder how often you will have to remind her of that fact.
  514. >If necessary, you would do so every day without hesitation.
  515. >However, you would prefer a way to overcome #deca.mare's mental struggle altogether.
  520. >Perhaps the next night might help her in that regard.
  521. >Like a therapeutic treatment, only with highly unorthodox methods.
  522. >But one step at a time.
  523. >This will come later.
  524. >For now you simply sit together in a forest glade.
  525. "Hang on, #deca. I've got an idea."
  526. >You wiggle yourself out of #deca.mare's grip.
  527. >She reluctantly lets you go.
  528. >You lie down on the grass beside her while reaching for her shoulder.
  529. >"Anon?"
  530. >You say nothing and gently pull her backwards as an indicator to do the same.
  531. >#deca.mare's body follows your motion, as she gradually tilts towards the ground.
  532. >You embrace her with one arm while you two lie side by side with your backs on the grass.
  533. >You look into the sky with its bright blue hue and fluffy clouds.
  534. >A curious thought crosses your mind.
  535. >In the actual world, the true Equestria, clouds like these may be inhabited.
  536. >And if #deca.mare's words are any indication, she plans to realise this exact feature too.
  537. >What a strange and simultaneously exciting concept.
  538. >Despite all the recent hiccups, your life is certainly getting more and more interesting from now on.
  539. >"You did this with an intent. What is next?"
  540. "Nothing. That's the intent. Relax and enjoy nature. It's said to be healthy. Or at least recreative."
  541. >#deca.mare cuddles up closely to your side.
  542. >You grin.
  543. >She just cannot help it.
  544. >Her desire for physical affection is nigh insatiable.
  545. >Anyway, moving on.
  546. "Many people spend social time together in such places. I know, ponies are not humans, but I think we'll have at least that in common."
  547. >Plus, you have every reason to believe that ponies have a much stronger affinity to nature than any human being, which further supports your point.
  548. "Heh, some even say that an extended period of time in nature can get people in touch with one's own 'spirit' if you will. Though I'm not a fan of the paranormal undertones within this presumption."
  553. >"In all due likelihood an evolutionary effect. Something I cannot relate to personally, I am afraid."
  554. >One of the drawbacks that being conceived on a shipyard entails, you figure.
  555. >#deca.mare said she has never been on a terran colony herself.
  556. >In fact, it seems she has, technically speaking, never been on any planet before.
  557. >At least not as herself; you do not count drone flights and hijacked video feeds in this context.
  558. "Well, time to catch up on this, I'd say. This here may not be a proper substitute, but just try to get a feeling for it. I'll help you."
  559. >"How?"
  560. "You will see. No, actually, you won't. Close your eyes. It's my turn to do something for you."
  561. >You look over to her.
  562. >#deca.mare has followed your instruction.
  563. >She lies in your arm, motionless, and with her eyes shut.
  564. >You cannot detect even the faintest move.
  565. >Under any other circumstances, one might wonder if she is still alive.
  566. >Unfazed by this deceiving look, you concentrate on what you are about to do.
  567. >You rummage through your memories for some of the stories you have heard in your earliest years.
  568. >Some of those are about nature with a wide variety of subjects.
  569. >A few were silly child stories, others had kernels of realism in them.
  570. >You are currently looking for the latter.
  571. >#deca.mare has shown a great deal of interest in the anecdotes you have told about your family, so chances are, she might also be interested in those.
  572. >The only fear you have is that she might have already gotten hold of them back when she tapped your brain.
  573. >That would defeat the purpose.
  574. >Regardless, you have to try it at least.
  575. >Wait there is one.
  576. "Time for another story session, if it suits you."
  577. >"Always, Anon."
  578. >And here you go for a second time.
  583. >You recite a few of the different nature stories you have come across during your childhood while you lie beside #deca.mare.
  584. >You tell them as parts of loosely connected tales.
  585. >And despite having only a mediocre narrative value by themselves, said stories can nevertheless improve an already comfortable get-together.
  586. >Especially when people, or in ponies in this case, are not familiar with them.
  587. >Some are comparatively realistic accounts, others are more akin to folklore tales.
  588. >Still, you deem them interesting enough to tell, at least on this occasion.
  589. >You do not look at her directly during your performance, which means you are unable to see how she reacts exactly.
  590. >But given that she does not comment on something and restrains from making any sort of negative remark, you simply assume she is content with it.
  591. >She would make it known if she had a question or any particular dislike.
  592. >Granted, you are also not exactly a skilled storyteller yourself, but you play your role adequately.
  593. >You mange to fish up four or five consecutive stories before you call it quits.
  594. >#deca.mare listens the whole time, without a single interruption.
  595. >You guess she would not mind even if she knew the stories beforehand.
  596. >Simply having a dear partner who happily digs out something just for her is a welcome gesture of affection.
  597. "Oh, by the way, telling tales is also a popular social activity. Preferably around campfires. You can use that to your advantage."
  598. >"I am aware of that, Anon. Unfortunately, my personal arsenal is, shall we say, rather limited."
  599. >A short pause.
  600. >"My own life is not a good source for a pony audience either, for obvious reasons."
  601. >You laugh.
  606. "Yeah, those might be pretty hard to explain. But that doesn't have to stay like this."
  607. >"Oh?"
  608. "Yes. As time progresses, we will be able to find our own adventures in Equestria. From what I have heard, the possibilities there are almost endless."
  609. >You look over to her with a smug grin.
  610. "Believe me, my sources are trustworthy. And then we can amaze others with our own tales."
  611. >A pause.
  612. "My point is, it will all smooth out over time. And speaking of tales and adventures, isn't another show session the next step on the list?"
  613. >"It is. But can we stay and relax for five more minutes? I like the way we are lying here."
  614. "Of course, #deca."
  615. >You look back up, close your eyes again and begin to stroke #deca.mare's fur with the hand that already holds her.
  616. >Like #deca.mare suggested, you just relax.
  617. >You say nothing, do nothing, think nothing.
  618. >You have each other and no reason to be concerned about anything.
  619. >It seems that even #deca.mare is swept away by this calm aura.
  620. >She simply rests beside you.
  621. >And despite the close physical contact, she does not show any sign of excitement or arousal.
  622. >A moment of perfect serenity, for the two of you.
  623. >But that moment ends eventually and you slowly rise up.
  624. >You have no idea if you lay there for five minutes or not.
  625. >As far as you are concerned, it may have been longer than that.
  626. >Not that it matters anyway; the act itself counts more than the exact amount of time you spent on it.
  627. >You stretch your body while #deca.mare materialises a door nearby.
  628. >You head back to the command deck.
  629. >The surreal sight of a doorframe standing in the middle of a seemingly normal glade does not really surprise you anymore.
  630. >This includes the rather abrupt transition to the deck itself.
  631. >Seems like these things have quickly become a part of your routine.
  632. >#deca.mare and you take a seat in your familiar positions.
  633. >Upon sitting down, you are greeted by the unexpected sensation of the chair's cushions on your bare back.
  638. >You have apparently forgotten to rematerialise your shirt on your way.
  639. "Oh, where are my manners?"
  640. >Just as you begin to form the command in your head, you get nudged by #deca.mare.
  641. >"I do not mind if you stay like this."
  642. "Hm, I've got the impression you try to direct me more and more to a pony standard of modesty."
  643. >Which is barely existent at all when it comes to clothing in public.
  644. >Hell, even their rulers wear nothing but regalia made out of gold and gems.
  645. >"I do not wish to impose anything on you, Anon, but it might help you in the long run if you familiarise yourself with pony conventions. After all, you should feel at home too."
  646. >This brings you to an interesting question.
  647. "Hey, #deca? How exactly will this work?"
  648. >"You mean us living in Equestria?"
  649. "Yeah, what about the details? You can create a replica of your own body, but I don't think I'll run around there just like that."
  650. >"No, that would be far too risky. Equestria is comparatively peaceful, but unlike ponies and all the other creatures, you are not compatible with my security measures."
  651. "Because of my organic brain."
  652. "Hmhm. One simple irregularity might be enough to..."
  653. >Keep her from completing that sentence.
  654. "I see what you mean."
  655. >And you appreciate her adamant stance on your personal security.
  656. "But knowing you, you have cooked up an alternative."
  657. >She nods.
  658. >"I do. And it is easier than you imagine. You are right, by the way I can create my own physical body."
  659. >She looks at you with a serious expression.
  660. >"And I can render you the same service."
  661. "You mean a second body? One which I could use just like my own?"
  662. >"Sure. Think about it. With a mechanical unit as a brain, or in this case a substitute thereof, it does not differ that much from controlling, say, one of our units. Plus, I will not include the ability to develop an own individual while shaping said body."
  663. >#deca.mare makes a short pause to give you the time to process her words.
  668. >"And since this body will not become a being on its own, you can utilise it remotely without any risk or moral stumbling blocks."
  669. "Like an avatar."
  670. >"If you want to call it that way. This process is no problem at all, but there is still a related issue we have to discuss."
  671. "Something tells me that I won't like the topic."
  672. >"No, not that bad. It is nothing disastrous, but still a serious issue.
  673. "So what is it?"
  674. >"The question of what sort of representation you prefer. I could theoretically recreate a realistic replica of your natural body, that leads to some inconveniences."
  675. "You mean I would stick out like a sore thumb."
  676. >"Hm, not necessarily. This can be camouflaged with the means I have shown you. It is, however, not an elegant solution."
  677. "I think I can see where this leads to."
  678. >#deca.mare takes a breath.
  679. >"Could you please consider a pony body for our life on the surface? Is not mandatory of course, but it would make some things much easier."
  680. >The idea sounds strange to you at first.
  681. >Flying missions with a vessel embodiment is one thing, but living on a planet with another body altogether?
  682. >"Well it should, technically speaking, not feel as abstract to you as piloting a ship through the neural link. The one is a mostly organic body while the other is completely non-organic."
  683. >Fair point, although you have significantly more experience with fighter crafts than you do with equine anatomy.
  684. >But you are sure that #deca.mare can tutor in that regard.
  685. >With emphasis on anatomical "features".
  686. >She would probably love to have partner who looks more like her.
  687. >You instinctively shake your head.
  688. >"No, Anon. This is incorrect. You are fine the way you are."
  689. >#deca.mare puts a forehoof on your leg as a gesture of affirmation.
  690. >"This is only a matter of utility and efficiency. I do not want to alter you."
  691. >You raise an eyebrow.
  692. "So no secret plot to turn me pony? You are not embarrassed by my 'alien' shape, right?"
  697. >You intentionally put an emphasis on the wording to signify that your remarks are not truly serious.
  698. >#deca.mare is visibly aghast anyway.
  699. >"Of course not, Anon! I love you in your true form. Only a shoddy partner would insist to fundamentally change the own lover."
  700. >You agree with her view an appreciate her moral integrity.
  701. >Which is why you will also never ask #deca.mare to change herself for you.
  702. >Courting a pony might be... unusual, but you rather put up with this little detail than demand anything selfish.
  703. "Fair enough, #deca. But I need some time for that."
  704. >"Of course, of course. We can work on the details later on. Just consider this offer for now, we are not in a hurry."
  705. >#deca.mare focuses on the large main screen.
  706. >"But back to the reason why we are here. Are you ready for the next season?"
  707. "I think so, yeah."
  708. >"Alright. Only one last note: You may notice some smaller changes in the way how the narrative is presented."
  709. "Why's that?"
  710. >"Long story. The best way to sum it up is by calling it an artistic discrepancy. Nothing too extreme, yet one of the reasons why certain adaptations and streamlining are necessary on our part."
  711. You chuckle once.
  712. "And if I recall correctly, you have already devised such a plan?"
  713. >She nods.
  714. "Heh, I should call you Twilight."
  715. >#deca.mare produces a quiet nickering sound.
  716. >"Oh please. We have nothing in common. She has a horn and w... never mind."
  717. >She does not complete that sentence.
  718. >That seems to have hit home.
  719. "I beg your pardon? I didn't quite catch that. Is everything okay?"
  720. >"Nothing wrong. I am fine."
  721. >Before you can make any further remark, #deca.mare lays her upper body on your lap, still looking at the screen.
  722. >This is her way to tell you that you shall quit your bantering and concentrate on what is about to unfold.
  723. >"On your mark, Anon."
  724. >You take a long breath and lean back, deep into the chair.
  725. >The cushions feel perfect; they have an ideal texture.
  730. >Yet you catch yourself thinking that it can never be as comfortable as the fur of a certain pony mare.
  731. >But that is a matter for tonight.
  732. "Alright, do it."
  733. >#deca.mare initiates the process.
  734. >The status screen dissolves and you are greeted by a now familiar composition of lively bright colours.
  735. >A garden scene is coming up.
  736. >The Canterlot sculpture gardens, as you quickly find out.
  737. >And this is how you learn about an entity called Discord, amongst other things.
  738. >Just as before, you cover the whole season, episode after episode.
  739. >True to her word, this season does indeed cover some more aspects concerning pony society and history.
  740. >The reappearance of Princess Luna.
  741. >A somewhat romanticised version of pre-Equestrian history and the founding of Equestria.
  742. >Ponyville's origin story.
  743. >Further, and partly odd, pony festivities and events, such as Hearts and Hooves Day, Hearth's Warming Eve, the regular restocking of Cloudsdale's water supplies via hurricanes, or using the power of love as a tactical defensive weapon.
  744. >And the introduction to other species, like bat ponies, donkeys, dragons (as a larger faction, not just a few hoarding hermits), minotaurs, more alicorns beside the Royal Sisters, and changelings alongside their notorious Queen.
  745. >Needless to say, some make a better first impression than others.
  746. >Credit roll of the season two finale.
  747. >Your head is brimming with input.
  748. "Oh man, I see why you need to bring more structure into this, #deca. Twenty minutes per topic is far from enough to cover the subjects at hand. You can probably write books to fill the unmentioned gaps within the lore."
  749. >#deca.mare looks over to you.
  750. >And since her forelegs are still on your lap, she rolls her body to the side to do so.
  754. >As a consequence, she automatically reveals her underside, revealing her chest, belly, and more.
  755. >Without any naughty intention on her part this time.
  756. >You try not to get distracted and return her look.
  757. >"Not only probably. That actually happened, Anon. There are more unofficial takes on certain scenes than you can imagine."
  758. "I remember, you mentioned that before. Have you used them for your work?"
  759. >"No. The problem with those is that they vary greatly in many aspects, from the sheer quality of writing to individual tone and style, as well as personal interpretations and preferred genres. I have a vast collection in store, but I ultimately designed my plan on my own."
  760. "And remain as close to the source as you can in the process."
  761. >"Precisely."
  762. "How close exactly? I mean, I know you want to reconstruct all Equestrian places. What about other things, such as the characters?"
  763. >"They are included in my plans for the world. Which means they will take their place in the grand scheme of things. But keep in mind that the world, unlike the show, cannot revolve solely around a select roster of ponies. Equestria is a vast realm, Anon, with many ponies and stories. In fact, it will be more than ever before."
  764. "I can see this working for most ponies, except some of the extreme cases."
  765. >"Who do you have in mind?"
  766. "Ponies like the Royal Sisters, for instance. You have made it perfectly clear that they won't be able to move planetary objects at will, much less a star. Or even Discord. He may be a chaotic villain in the show, but what shall we do with him? Creating a monster with the sole purpose of being beaten and perpetually sealed away is just as cruel, if not worse."
  771. >"Yes, I have covered this. While the princesses will indeed not possess any explicit solar or lunar magic, they are nevertheless fit as rulers. They have other abilities at their disposal which they can utilise for the benefit of the realm. Plus, they act as an essential symbolic beacon for Equestria and its unity, especially in the kingdom's early years."
  772. >#deca.mare winks.
  773. >"And Discord... let me say this much: There is an agreeable solution for him as well. Trust me. It will all work out in the long run."
  774. >You accept her word on this matter.
  775. >If someone is able to create such a scheme perfectly, it is #deca.mare.
  776. >But you must admit, it will be hard for you to remember all the details in only one run.
  777. >And you have to cover seven additional seasons.
  778. >"True, We rush a little bit through the show, but this is intended. It shall be a first crash course to give you a general overview. We can repeat any lesson at any time, if you need it. Do you have any more questions right now?"
  779. >You shake your head.
  780. >"I think we are done here, then."
  781. >Which can only mean one thing.
  782. >It is time for you to hold true to your word.
  783. >No more escapes, no more delays.
  784. "So here we are. Somepony called for a candlelight dinner?"
  785. >You hope this did not sound too overblown.
  786. >But #deca.mare plays along with a smiling nod.
  787. >Luckily for you, she has not exactly a high standard in terms of romantic efforts.
  788. >But that is no excuse for you to slack.
  789. >On the contrary; you want her enjoy this evening.
  790. >Every single second of it.
  791. >Because this shall become a night she remembers.
  792. >Perhaps even her next big step towards inner piece.
  793. >And who knows, you might also derive more pleasure from it than you initially thought.
  794. >Stranger things have happened for sure.
  799. 41/1
  801. >#deca.mare and you rise from the command chair.
  802. >You need to address something before you leave the deck.
  803. "Okay, let me handle the main part, #deca. I've got some ideas that should be to your liking. Any preferences or particular wishes?"
  804. >"None whatsoever, my expertise fails me here. I am looking forward to your ideas though."
  805. "Alright."
  806. >You casually walk towards the door and motion #deca.mare to follow you.
  807. >The low speed is intentional; you need the time to prepare the next room.
  808. >You want to keep it simple, yet romantic.
  809. >So you load up the chamber within Canterlot Castle, but with a few modifications.
  810. >A few small changes here, some more little titbits there.
  811. >And of course the scenery must be set at dusk.
  812. >Sunset and candles, the textbook definition of a romantic meet-up, followed by a classical night of love and passion.
  813. >Then again, this is also the bottom of the barrel in terms of originality.
  814. >This whole thing is cliché as hell.
  815. >But hey, this is exactly what #deca.mare wants, and given that she has absolutely zero prior personal experience, it should work properly for her.
  816. >As for you, it may not be what you have expected when you were younger, but it is also a prelude to a whole new life.
  817. >One which is far beyond anything you could have dreamed of.
  818. >So you have no reason to frown.
  819. >But the traditional rite of introducing your better half to your family and vice versa is thoroughly ruined in both ways.
  820. >She has no kin left, and yours would rather see her dead in any case.
  821. >And on a far more practical note, you doubt she would fit into your parents' house.
  822. >#deca.mare is aware of your thought process, but remains silent.
  823. >This time, it is her who has to trust your experience.
  824. >Well, you will not let her down.
  825. >You reach the ramp as you finalise your room preparations.
  830. >You walk up the ramp.
  831. "I'd say we keep the process open and individual steps subject to change. Tightly planning a date from start to end is so... unromantic."
  832. >"Sounds reasonable to me."
  833. "A word of advice: Don't see your inexperience as an obstacle. We can't do this properly without your cooperation."
  834. >"Yes, Anon. I understand."
  835. >You reach the door.
  836. >#deca.mare tries to enter the chamber, but the door remains locked.
  837. >You gave the order for this.
  838. "Nope."
  839. >"Anon?"
  840. "I meant what I said when I was talking about doing things properly. We go all the way. This includes..."
  841. >You change your clothing and materialise an elegant suit for you.
  842. "... the correct attire. You need a dress to enter."
  843. >#deca.mare raises a hoof in thought.
  844. >"What shall I wear?"
  845. >You grin weakly in defeat.
  846. "Beats me, to tell you the truth. Dresses are usually not a thing for guys."
  847. >#deca.mare is visibly dissatisfied with your answer.
  848. >"That is not helping, Anon."
  849. "Just choose something. Doesn't have to be overly fancy or complex. It's a gesture of courtesy."
  850. >"Hm..."
  851. >A few seconds pass while #deca.mare is looking for a dress to wear.
  852. >She is usually faster than this.
  853. >But you give her the time.
  854. >You understand her struggle; this is not a choice one can make based on science or statistics.
  855. >Because fashion and aesthetics are on a completely different level.
  856. >#deca.mare makes her choice and materialises a dress after a short period of consideration.
  857. >The design is rather simple, yet comely.
  858. >Made out of white silk, the clothing covers her body from the neck onwards.
  859. >It runs alongside #deca.mare's chest and back.
  860. >Her forelegs remain uncovered, and three-fourths of her hind legs are concealed by a wide, finely woven piece of fabric.
  861. >This part looks almost skirt-like, except for the incision on its underside.
  862. >As you can figure out, this design choice is meant to prevent any hindrance of movement to the hind legs, while simultaneously covering the body.
  867. >The skirt's length is carefully measured as well; it ensures that the silk will not chafe against the ground during movements, and reveals nothing but the hooves of its wearer at the same time.
  868. >Upon closer inspection, you recognise the concept behind her choice.
  869. >It is basically a simplified version of the gala dresses you have seen in the show.
  870. >But in contrast to those, this one has no features that reflect the personality of the mare in it.
  871. >Like a blank canvas.
  872. >#deca.mare strikes a few presenting poses.
  873. >"And? Do you like it?"
  874. "It's looking lovely on you, #deca. I like it."
  875. >That is not a lie; she has chosen a good option.
  876. >Although you secretly hoped she would have chosen something with a little more personality.
  877. >Regardless, she did what you asked of her, so you unlock the door with a mental command.
  878. >It slides open as usual.
  879. >Warm and gentle sunset light shines through the opening.
  880. >But the sight of the chamber behind it is different than before.
  881. >Its basic layout and furnishing remains the same, but the decoration has partly changed, especially on the table and bed.
  882. >The table is coated with a layer of very elaborated cloth and additionally adorned with warmly coloured wax candles on brazen prickets.
  883. >Dinnerware and cutlery are on par with those of a high-profile restaurant.
  884. >On second thought, you were a little bit too eager in this regard, since #deca.mare does not use any cutlery.
  885. >But at least ponies use cups somehow, so you have not committed a complete faux pas.
  886. >The bed has undergone similar modifications.
  887. >The sheets, pillows, and blankets have been altered to match the hue of the room in its current shading.
  888. >You have briefly considered to make those even more romantic by going full cliché.
  889. >Heart shaped, pillows, petals on the sheet, and all that.
  890. >But that would have been too much.
  891. >Maybe not for #deca.mare, but for you.
  896. >You still need to overcome your concerns.
  897. >You are slowly coming to terms with your overall situation, but it is a bad idea to stretch your psychological tolerance with an overly cliché imagery.
  898. >The rest of the chamber is basically left untouched, with the exception of some more candles here and there.
  899. >You evaluate your result and deem it satisfactory.
  900. >Plus, it is fascinating how accurate you can alter shapes without a direct line of sight.
  901. >Up to this point, you have only modified objects in your immediate vicinity.
  902. >But now it seems you can basically do the same when a wall is set between you and the object in question.
  903. >Granted, it is a simulated wall in a place where room and dimensions are not strictly bound by the laws of reality, yet it is a step forwards for you.
  904. >However, something in the room is still missing for the perfect mood.
  905. "Oh, of course! Music."
  906. >You ponder your options in an attempt to keep it realistic and appropriate for an Equestrian standard.
  907. >Wait, you recall a scene during a party.
  908. >There was a piece of archaic audio technology.
  909. >You materialise a gramophone, disc included and set it to play.
  910. >Sizzling static greets your ears.
  911. >"Anon, you have not specified what is supposed to be recorded on the disc.
  912. >Dumb mistake.
  913. >You facepalm with a faint groan and think of a suitable song list.
  914. >An incoherent mess of audio sludge replaces the static as the disc's surface reconfigures itself.
  915. >The gramophone needle is still on the shellac.
  916. >Perhaps you should have deactivated the device beforehand.
  917. >But the evidence of your little blunder is quickly erased.
  918. >Slow, calm piano music fills the room.
  919. "Here we go. Now we got it."
  920. >Everything is prepared and good to go.
  925. >You turn to #deca.mare and perform a little bow as an inviting gesture.
  926. >You try to act courteous without being stilted about it.
  927. "Shall we, my dear?"
  928. >"Yes, Anon. I would love to."
  929. "Well then. Most couples probably prefer to walk hand in hand, but I think that doesn't work well with a human and a pony."
  930. >#deca.mare giggles.
  931. >"You know, you could carry me instead."
  932. "That's usually reserved for marriage, #deca."
  933. >She turns to you with a sly grin.
  934. >"But we are a couple. We live together in a shared household, plan our future, love us, and spend literally all of our time with each other. The only thing we did not have was a proper ceremony."
  935. >Points you cannot refute.
  936. >And since you plan to go even further this night, you could basically consider yourself quasi married.
  937. >Though you would have preferred to have an official marriage.
  938. >It is after all a special and unique occasion in one's life.
  939. >And not having one feels just wrong, especially when you live with a partner.
  940. >But then again, it seems also inappropriate if you make one yourself; neither of you has the symbolic agency.
  941. >Oh well, you are here to have fun.
  942. "Okay, come here, #deca. Just promise me one thing."
  943. >#deca.mare approaches you slowly.
  944. >"Sure. What do you want, Anon?"
  945. >You bend a knee to wait for her.
  946. "Once we have realised our... project, let us have a proper ceremony, alright? It's too important to let it slip completely."
  947. >She embraces your shoulders with her forelegs.
  948. >"You suggest a marriage in Equestria?"
  949. >You look her directly in the eyes now.
  950. "Yep, why not? Marriages are common practice there as well. And this is one of the few things I insist on in my life."
  951. >"For a good reason. And I accept."
  952. >Now you smile.
  953. "I wouldn't have expected anything else."
  958. >You respond to her embrace with a hug of your own.
  959. >You place one hand between her shoulders and the other near hear rear.
  960. >There is a clear intent behind this action, though it is not as suggestive as it may appear at first.
  961. "Hold on now, I'll grant you your wish."
  962. >Hopefully you can carry her.
  963. >Judging from your previous experiences with her, she is not exactly heavy, at least when she lies on you.
  964. >She is, however, far from weak.
  965. >Her body can invoke a considerable amount of strength.
  966. >Enough to pin you down if she wanted to.
  967. >But all of that consideration is pointless; you cannot chicken out now.
  968. >So there is only the way forward.
  969. >Your one arm reaches over her rear and pulls her closer to you, while your second acts as support in the action.
  970. >You hoist her with your limbs.
  971. >In the meantime, #deca.mare tightens her grip around your shoulders to stabilise herself.
  972. >Now you press her body belly first against yours as you carry her.
  973. >Against all your expectations, her weight is barely a problem.
  974. >You are not exactly used to physical labour, so you anticipated more of a challenge.
  975. >And while you still need to put some effort into it, you can carry #deca.mare to the table.
  976. >Nevertheless, you are still attentive to make sure that you do not wrinkle her dress.
  977. >Not that you have to pay much attention to it in theory; either of you can repair the damage easily with a thought.
  978. >But this is serious for you.
  979. >You want to maintain the basic rules of courtesy.
  980. >And not ruining your partner's outfit is one of the most important rules.
  981. >And you assume she has probably assisted you in a stealthy manner.
  982. >Perhaps by reducing her weight or something.
  983. >But be that as it may, the gesture is the only thing that counts.
  988. >Once at the table, you carefully let her down.
  989. >#deca.mare sits down on her seat cushion.
  990. >You look at each other.
  991. "I hope it was to your liking."
  992. >"It was, Anon. I did not expect it to be this pleasant. I felt..."
  993. "Loved?"
  994. >" Secure and stable."
  995. >You give her a knowing smile.
  996. "Told you I'm not a dream. And we will have plenty of opportunities to convince you of this."
  997. >This gives you an idea.
  998. >You "teleport" your cushion from the opposite side of the table to you and place it next to #deca.mare.
  999. "I want to try something new. Let's sit together and share our meal. The other side of the table is so far away, don't you agree?"
  1000. >"Sounds nice."
  1001. >You take that as an affirmation and sit down next to her.
  1002. "Now, what do you want to eat? I'm up to anything that doesn't involve hay or other forms of grass."
  1003. >"How about a buffet system?. We have enough space on the table and remain flexible that way."
  1004. "Good idea."
  1005. >Together you materialise a wide variety of different components on the table, similar to your breakfast out in the open.
  1006. >But the selection is not limited to fruit baskets this time.
  1007. >You create bowls with vegetables, several containers with different spices, pots with sauces, and more food, like bread and noodles.
  1008. >And just like you did during your picnic, you start simple and work from there.
  1009. #deca.mare picks some vegetables.
  1010. >"So you want to share everything literally?"
  1011. "Sure, nothing speaks against it. We've already done more than that, so where is the problem in sharing a plate with the one you love?"
  1012. >And it gives you an excuse to use the otherwise redundant cutlery on her side.
  1013. >She agrees with you.
  1018. >So you start to cut the vegetables on the plate into several smaller pieces.
  1019. >As #deca.mare intends to fish for some parts with her mouth, you stop her.
  1020. "Wait, I know something better."
  1021. >You impale some pieces with your fork and offer these to #deca.mare, which she accepts.
  1022. >Then you do the same and take a bite yourself.
  1023. >You take turns with each bite until the plate is emptied, and pick the next course.
  1024. >Also, you can use these little pauses for small talk.
  1025. "Say, what is your favourite place in Equestria?"
  1026. >"I have none. It implies a preference of some places over others. The world is dear to me as a whole."
  1027. "Okay, let me put it this way, where would you like to start?"
  1028. >"No idea yet. What about you?"
  1029. >You think a moment before you answer.
  1030. "Probably Cloudsdale. The way I see it, it's one of the oldest cities in Equestria. And the idea of living in clouds is honestly fascinating."
  1031. >#deca.mare's ears perk up.
  1032. >"Really?"
  1033. "Yeah. Oh, and flight. It's something I am vaguely familiar with already. Well, at least with machine assisted flight."
  1034. >Another grin.
  1035. >"I think you have just found the answer to our previous discussion."
  1036. "A pegasus then? Are you fine with this?"
  1037. >"We talked about this before. I love your true self, no matter what you pick."
  1038. "So pegasus it is."
  1039. >You briefly interrupt your meal for a firm hug.
  1040. >"Featherbrain."
  1041. "Typical. Always up for a little banter."
  1042. >"I would not do it if you could not take it, Anon. Admit it, you like it too."
  1043. "True. But keep it civil, or I will make it rain."
  1044. >"And splash the poor pony who provides you with food? How unfriendly you are."
  1045. >#deca.mare feigns an offended tone.
  1046. >"You pegasi are all so brash. That happens when you spend all your days with your heads in the clouds."
  1047. "Careful with those accusations. You might freeze the land with your badmouthing, stubborn ground dweller."
  1048. >A second of silence.
  1049. >Then, as if on cue, you start to quietly snort in unison.
  1054. >By now, you have completed your second course.
  1055. >Your next choice is a meal with noodles as foundation, combined with a spiced sauce and some vegetables.
  1056. >At this point you notice the lack of drinks, so you materialise glasses for you and #deca.mare and fill them with wine.
  1057. >Each of you picks one.
  1058. >Then you clink glasses and drink a little bit.
  1059. >You can taste the alcohol in it.
  1060. >Good thing you have not to worry about getting drunk in here.
  1061. >"Maybe we two fit perfectly into society when we are together. I must think back to our dream. We truly complement each other."
  1062. "Yeah, we have our individual strengths and cooperate to get the best results out of every situation.
  1063. >Something ironic comes to your mind.
  1064. "Heh, if you really think about it, we lived the cordial spirit of Equestria before I was aware of it. And even before we have met, all I ever wanted was a fulfilled life. And the morals of the mostly innocent character of the show reflect that beautifully."
  1065. >"Indeed. This is one of the reasons why it had gained so much traction back then. And now we can bring these ideals to life. Take them higher than they were ever before."
  1066. >You take another swig of wine.
  1067. "Man, it sounds so much grander when you say it like this."
  1068. >"But it is true. We ultimately create a new force of good in the universe. A force that will grow, step by step. Even I cannot say what it could accomplish in the far future. But what we can do is to make sure that it will get the best start we can provide. At the end of the day, they will be our children. So we have to look after them as responsible parents. And once they mature, they can help us in turn."
  1069. "Because this is what a family is for."
  1070. >"Precisely. One big, happy family."
  1071. >This is a strange thought to you.
  1076. "I've often wondered what raising an own family might feel like. Who knew I would end up with thousands of kids?"
  1077. >Thousands of children with hooves, no less.
  1078. >They may not be your biological offspring per se, but you will be their father.
  1079. >Because you convinced #deca.mare of this project.
  1080. >So their existence will be a direct consequence of your actions.
  1081. >You realise you have drastically broadened your family tree beyond measure.
  1082. >"To be fair, this is unlike any family that has ever existed before. And please bear in mind that they will not be aware of our direct intervention. We help them for their own sake, Anon. Personal fame or authority are irrelevant for us."
  1083. "Yes, I know. It was just an interesting thought to entertain."
  1084. >You pick up your glass and twirl it in your grasp.
  1085. "Family planning has something unique to it."
  1086. >You lean against #deca.mare's side.
  1087. "But like you said, we will be parents of sorts. Can you believe it?"
  1088. >She looks at you with a happy, but also slightly nervous expression and takes up her own glass.
  1089. >"Barely. It is just incredible, is it not?"
  1090. >Your second hand wanders slowly over her back and to her opposite side.
  1091. "Yes, #deca, it is."
  1092. >And you two conclude this thought with another clinking of glass.
  1093. >You resume eating your meal in your shared fashion and finish the third course of the evening.
  1094. >You look at the empty plate.
  1095. >The dinner is progressing faster than you thought.
  1096. >Not much longer now.
  1097. "Uhm, there is something I need to ask."
  1098. >#deca.mare glances over to you with curiosity.
  1099. >You take a deep breath.
  1100. >This could get embarrassing.
  1101. "Is there anything left I should to know for, you know... later?"
  1102. >You receive a raised eyebrow in response.
  1103. >"Only if you require basic instructions on biology."
  1104. >You sigh.
  1105. "You know what I mean."
  1106. >#deca.mare puts a hoof on your cheek.
  1107. >"Oh, Anon. I think you are making this way harder for you than necessary. But maybe we can fix this with a little 'dessert'."
  1112. >The sultry stress on her last word gets your attention.
  1113. >Is she springing right into the action?
  1114. >The buffet dematerialises and leaves an almost bare table.
  1115. >Right here and now?
  1116. "Whoa, #deca. Wait a second before you do something imprudent."
  1117. >A medium-sized glass bowl with a fruit sundae appears out of nowhere.
  1118. >Okay, no spontaneous transition to phase two, it seems.
  1119. "What's up with this? You made it sound like something else."
  1120. >#deca.mare points at the ice with a hoof.
  1121. >"There is more to it than meets the eye, Anon. This is an offer to you."
  1122. "A sundae dessert?"
  1123. >#deca.mare clears her throat.
  1124. >"Which may or may not be enhanced with a special tonic of mine. Who knows?"
  1125. "You want to drug me."
  1126. >"No, no, no. Nothing of that magnitude. It shall only help you to get into the right mood with a little stimulant, you know?"
  1127. "And how strong is that, ahem, 'tonic', as you call it?"
  1128. >"I swear, it is completely harmless and subtle. Nothing that will mess with your psyche or anything. The decision is up to you. And I will partake as well if that makes you feel better."
  1129. >You wonder whether #deca.mare's body can actually be affected by substances of any kind.
  1130. >Though you assume it is unlikely, unless she actively wants it to.
  1131. "No catch, no side effects?"
  1132. >"None. Guaranteed."
  1133. "Fine, let's do it. May be for the best."
  1134. >#deca.mare nods and materialises a spoon.
  1135. >You pick it up and take a sample of the sundae.
  1136. >"Give me the first one."
  1137. >You do as she asks and offer her the first piece.
  1138. >#deca.mare eats it without hesitation and evaluates the taste.
  1139. >"The flavour is perfect. You will like it."
  1140. >So you take another piece for yourself and taste it.
  1145. >The ice is cool and sweet, with a distinct aroma of exotic fruit and cream.
  1146. >And something else.
  1147. >A faint hint of a taste you absolutely cannot identify.
  1148. >This must be #deca.mare's secret.
  1149. >"And?"
  1150. "You were right. It's great. Tell me, what is the last ingredient?"
  1151. >#deca.mare winks.
  1152. >"Homemade special. Crafted with love."
  1153. >She obviously does not want to give you a clear answer this time.
  1154. >Without any further comment on the matter, you offer her the next bite.
  1155. >You proceed like before and take turns until the bowl is empty.
  1156. >A warm feeling started to spread through your body at some point.
  1157. >You feel excited, but also relaxed, as if there were no fears in the world.
  1158. >It is clear to you that #deca.mare's little gift is taking hold of you.
  1159. >And despite this new sensation, you are completely lucid.
  1160. >Your mind is not impaired in any way.
  1161. >You are still you, only slightly less stiff.
  1162. >This is the moment #deca.mare has waited for.
  1163. >"Now, are you ready to become a lovebird, sweetheart?"
  1164. >She is laying it on pretty thickly now.
  1165. "Uhm..."
  1166. >You hesitate for a moment.
  1167. >But #deca.mare does not wait for an answer.
  1168. >She emits a long cooing sound and lets herself tilt towards you.
  1169. >Her body slides against yours and her head lands on your lap.
  1170. >She is looking straight up into your eyes, and reaches out with a forehoof to touch your mouth.
  1171. >Her lidded expression leaves no room for doubt.
  1172. >She demands your special attention.
  1173. >Now.
  1174. >You carefully grab her hoof with your hand to shift it to the side.
  1175. >You cannot give her an answer with a hoof in your mouth.
  1176. "Okay, okay. Think you can make at least to the bed before you collapse on the floor?"
  1177. >"For you? Every time, Anon."
  1178. >#deca.mare raises herself slowly out of your lap and heads for the bed.
  1179. >And for you it is time to keep your promise.
  1180. >You take another long breath before you stand up and follow her.
  1185. 41/2
  1187. >You turn towards the bed.
  1188. >#deca.mare has taken advantage of her little head start.
  1189. >She as already planted herself straight in the centre without further ado; she did not even take the time to get rid of her dress.
  1190. >Not only that, her pose also speaks for itself.
  1191. >#deca.mare lies lounging on her side, three of her four limbs plus tail stretched out.
  1192. >Her rear legs are sprawled out at slightly different angles, her visible forehoof pats a spot next to her on the mattress.
  1193. >And her head is partly buried in the blankets while she observes you keenly with one eye.
  1194. >She is obviously done with waiting any longer.
  1195. >"Nest to Anon, your immediate attendance is required. Do you copy?"
  1196. >Is that going to turn into a role play now?
  1197. >You decide to obey her "order" before she can get any strange ideas.
  1198. >Well, any stranger ideas at least.
  1199. >But it is too late for that.
  1200. >#deca.mare knows exactly what she is doing.
  1201. >You realise this the moment you reach the edge of the bed frame, as #deca.mare begins to disintegrate her dress around her.
  1202. >And not in the usual speed either.
  1203. >No, you watch as more and more parts of silk disappear.
  1204. >Very, very slowly.
  1205. >Each passing second reveals another little bit of her body.
  1206. >You follow the traces of the fading clothing with your eyes.
  1207. >And of course she has planned in advance where your gaze will end up eventually.
  1208. >The silk is gone.
  1209. >And without really thinking about what is currently going on, you stare directly at her now exposed rear.
  1210. >Full sight included.
  1211. >Your pulse is accelerating rapidly due to this sudden realisation.
  1212. >You avert your gaze and look #deca.mare in the eye, expecting a resurgence of your mental inhibitions.
  1213. >Except this is not quite what happens next.
  1218. >You are fully aware of your previous moral struggle.
  1219. >Being attracted to a pony is unusual at the very least, and some would call it outright wrong.
  1220. >But you feel drawn to her, fascinated even.
  1221. >You cannot hide that fact any longer.
  1222. >You want her.
  1223. >Likewise does she want you in turn.
  1224. >Whatever will happen this night, you will not fight it.
  1225. >And yet you feel somewhat nervous.
  1226. >Because you are unsure how to proceed adequately.
  1227. >This is, after all, your first time.
  1228. >At least you will not make a fool of yourself, since this inexperience is mutual.
  1229. >And all things considered, this is actually a good thing.
  1230. >It puts you on an equal and fair level.
  1231. >Not only that, it feels also right to you.
  1232. >It would cheapen the experience tremendously if any of you had been in a serious relationship before.
  1233. >But since this is not the case, the moment gets all the more intense and special.
  1234. >Okay, keep it together.
  1235. >You can do this, Anon.
  1236. >For the two of you.
  1237. >#deca.mare pats the mattress a little bit stronger to get your attention.
  1238. >"How about you come here first? Or shall I come to you and get you myself, hm?"
  1239. >You can imagine the implications behind the second option.
  1240. >She is testing you, trying to find out what you are into.
  1241. >You dematerialise your own suit without a word and climb into the bed.
  1242. >#deca.mare expects you accordingly.
  1243. >She reaches out with both forelimbs to greet you.
  1244. >At the same time she spreads her hind legs apart, opening up a space for you to fill.
  1245. >Apparently she wants to start with a full body brace.
  1246. >So you give her just that.
  1247. >You embrace each other.
  1248. >She wraps her forelimbs around your shoulders, you place one hand on her back and the other on her neck.
  1249. >And you simultaneously entangle your legs with hers.
  1254. >You are now wrapped up like a bundle.
  1255. >The warm and intimate sensation affects you more than before.
  1256. >While you are familiar with feeling #deca.mare's fur and body in general by now, you begin to see it all in a different light.
  1257. >You are thinking of experimenting with her, to explore ways to derive pleasure out of the situation for both of you.
  1258. >The idea alone is enough to make you shiver.
  1259. >Partly out of nervousness, partly out of excitement.
  1260. >This translates directly to #deca.mare thanks to your close contact.
  1261. >She tightens her grip in response and begins to nuzzle your cheek.
  1262. >"Listen to your instincts, Anon. They know what is good for you."
  1263. >Her voice is barely more than a whisper.
  1264. >And she gives you an immediate incentive with a peck right below your ear.
  1265. >Followed by a few more.
  1266. >You start to act alike and give her light kisses on her cheek.
  1267. >#deca.mare is slowly working her way to your mouth, and you follow suit.
  1268. >It does not take long until you lock lips for a long, passionate kiss.
  1269. >By far not the first one you share with #deca.mare, but the first in which you try to go a little further.
  1270. >Instead of simply of focussing only on the kiss, you also employ your hands to caress #deca.mare's back and neck.
  1271. >And she is not idle either.
  1272. >But since she cannot rely on hands, she begins to slightly shift her body in order to rub herself against you.
  1273. >Your heartbeat speeds up once more.
  1274. >You can feel it pounding in your chest while #deca.mare's fur on your skin gets you goose bumps.
  1275. >But she reacts in a similar way.
  1276. >Her breath gets more rapid and unsteady.
  1277. >You can use it to determine how you can systematically stimulate her.
  1278. >Both of your arms wander a little around, looking for more sensitive spots.
  1283. >A muffled grunt finds its way out her muzzle as your hand traces along her spine.
  1284. >One spot found.
  1285. >So you keep massaging there.
  1286. >Up and down, down and up.
  1287. >Now you try something you have not thought of before.
  1288. >Your second hand reaches further up.
  1289. >Passing her neck, and through her mane.
  1290. >Up to her ears.
  1291. >You carefully embrace one with your fingers and begin to scratch.
  1292. >#deca.mare reacts with another grunt of appreciation.
  1293. >She is having the time of her life.
  1294. >And so do you.
  1295. >You thoroughly use your newfound methods to intensify the experience for #deca.mare, but you act with care.
  1296. >The results are self-evident, as occasional tremors run through her body.
  1297. >Likewise is she looking for ways to make it up to you too.
  1298. >You feel her tail brushing over parts of your skin.
  1299. >She did something similar before, but she concentrates her efforts more on your thighs and legs this time.
  1300. >Her advances remain "innocent" for now, but you begin to see a certain potential in it.
  1301. >#deca.mare breaks the kiss and pulls her upper body back to get a minimal distance between you.
  1302. >You need a moment to understand why.
  1303. >She has to catch her breath.
  1304. >Or at least it looks that way; disregarding the fact that she, theoretically speaking, does not need to do so.
  1305. >But you understand her intention behind it.
  1306. >#deca.mare needs the time in order to not get overwhelmed by the experience.
  1307. >You know you have done nothing wrong, because the satisfaction in her eyes tells you this much.
  1308. >She is just such a damn lightweight.
  1309. >You reduce the strokes and scratches to a minimum while you wait for her to recover.
  1310. >Good grief, you have not even truly started and #deca.mare already needs a break.
  1311. >You wonder if she has the required fortitude and endurance to make it to the end.
  1316. >Who would have guessed, all the time you thought you were the only one with personal and mental limits.
  1317. >At least in this regard.
  1318. >But it seems that this is not the case.
  1319. >Although to be fair, the signs were there all along.
  1320. >But this begs an interesting question.
  1321. >Who will concede first?
  1322. >And what will be the prize?
  1323. >Only one way to find out, right?
  1324. >#deca.mare is visibly interested in your inner monologue.
  1325. >She smiles.
  1326. >"Now we are talking, Anon."
  1327. >Fine, you play along.
  1328. "Oh? The last time I checked, nobody was saying anything."
  1329. >A pause before you go on with a feigned deadpan voice.
  1330. "I guess our mouths were busy elsewhere."
  1331. >Hopefully this does not come across as too cheeky.
  1332. >But you are in luck, as #deca.mare seems to like it.
  1333. "Think you can go for another round?"
  1334. >A faint spark flashes in #deca.mare's eyes.
  1335. >"Never underestimate an Earth pony. We can take more than you might think."
  1336. >Well, she asked for it.
  1337. "Says the Earth pony who fell out of the bed after a little, ahem, affectionate devotion."
  1338. >You cannot help but smirk.
  1339. >This actually gets her riled up.
  1340. >In all your previous sessions, were somewhat jumpy because of possible "repercussions" that #deca.mare could come up with.
  1341. >Now you want the opposite: She shall get invested in these sessions.
  1342. >Of course, this could just be #deca.mare's little secret sweet that may meddle with your mind, but since you still feel like yourself, it does not seem to be that much of an issue.
  1343. >And #deca.mare has told you that, whatever substance she has given you, it is a harmless agent.
  1344. >#deca.mare catches your attention with a tap on your shoulder.
  1345. "Ready?"
  1346. >A nod.
  1347. >Well then, here you go for round two.
  1352. >Thanks to the short pause, you had a chance to pull yourself together as well.
  1353. >Your heart has slowed back to its normal pace, and the goose bumps are almost gone.
  1354. >The pause was a good idea.
  1355. >But this time you try something different.
  1356. >You pull your hands back from #deca.mare's back and neck to grab her forelimbs.
  1357. >You hold them in front of you and treat them with massages, and occasionally pepper them with additional kisses.
  1358. >And you study #deca.mare's reaction to your attempts.
  1359. >They appear to be inconvenient or at least unusual to her at first, but seem to grow on her over time.
  1360. >To be honest with yourself, you have no clear idea what you are supposed to do in the first place, so you try to find things she might enjoy.
  1361. >#deca.mare starts to shiver again upon your touch.
  1362. >Then you make the next step.
  1363. >Your hands slide towards her hooves, massaging the limbs constantly along the way.
  1364. >Once you have reached those, you immediately cover their undersides with your fingers for more gentle strokes.
  1365. >Unbeknownst to you whether hooves are sensitive at all, you simply decide to give it a shot.
  1366. >At the same time, #deca.mare moves her upper body closer, leaving you yet again within her wholesome embrace in all its warm and soft glory.
  1367. >#deca.mare smiles warmly and with a lively blush.
  1368. >You still tend to her hooves as you suddenly become aware of her own little "stimulating" trick.
  1369. >As it turns out, her merry expression was not solely caused by your actions.
  1370. >This gets blatantly obvious to you as you notice a familiar, but also rather peculiar thing.
  1371. >#deca.mare has pulled off her dirty trick from the other morning a second time.
  1372. >This leaves you, once again, in a position with one of her rear hooves snug up in a place between your legs where it should not be.
  1377. >You cannot help but flinch instinctively.
  1378. >Even your readiness towards #deca.mare does not override that reaction.
  1379. >Meanwhile she is looking at you with a victorious grin.
  1380. >You gnash your teeth, despite the fact that she does not apply any pressure or the like.
  1381. >"Anon,..."
  1382. >Her pseudo-casual tone would be practically unnerving if you did not know that she is just playing around.
  1383. >But even that knowledge is insufficient to quench your concerns.
  1384. >"... what did you say about me and falling out the bed after a little display of affection?"
  1385. >Oh damn, she has you now.
  1386. >This is what you get for trying to mess with #deca.mare.
  1387. >Now she has you by the proverbial, and literal, balls.
  1388. >"Think you can score any better?"
  1389. >Before you can give any form of coherent answer, #deca.mare leans her head next to yours and proceeds in a whispering voice.
  1390. >"Enjoy the ride."
  1391. >And with these words spoken, she begins with a tender massage in turn.
  1392. >Your initial response is as expected.
  1393. >You automatically try to wiggle yourself out of her embrace to escape her intrusive hoof.
  1394. >But no luck there; #deca.mare holds you in her tight grasp, exactly like you did with her on that fateful morning.
  1395. >You knew it would bite you one day, and this day has apparently come.
  1396. >Right now you are left with two options, you can either try to fall out of the bed in a similar fashion and declare defeat, or you endure her little treatment.
  1397. >Even though you personally prefer the first option, you must admit that #deca.mare's approach is very gentle and careful.
  1398. >For hooves.
  1399. >With applying only a minimal amount of pressure, her movements consist mostly of slow, circular massages.
  1400. >You can barely imagine that a hoof could be capable of such a refined handling.
  1401. >Or is it hoofing?
  1402. >Whatever.
  1403. >You try your best to not see it as a tip of hardened bone that is currently massaging your genitals.
  1408. >And indeed, you manage to stop yourself from twitching at every little movement she makes.
  1409. >Takes you a fair bit of mental fortitude, but still.
  1410. >With the biggest stumbling block out of the way, you are surprised that you can bring yourself to like it.
  1411. >Well, somewhat.
  1412. >Like may not be the accurate word for it, but #deca.mare's treatment has at least an arousing effect on you.
  1413. >And that is the whole point of the idea.
  1414. >Your heart resumes pounding in your chest as you notice the telltale signs of an immediate erection.
  1415. >Her mission is obviously accomplished.
  1416. >And she notices it as well.
  1417. >The grin on #deca.mare's face is unmistakeable.
  1418. >"Here we go, Anon."
  1419. >There is no way that she can refer to anything else.
  1420. >She has, after all, full access to your vitals.
  1421. >And even if she did not, that is not the only obvious indicator.
  1422. >Because said erection of yours is pressing right against #deca.mare's underside.
  1423. >You blush profusely.
  1424. >This is nevertheless a fairly embarrassing situation for you.
  1425. >You have never felt so revealed before; this is a whole new level of intimacy for you.
  1426. >One in which you share your deepest natural side with someone, or somepony, else.
  1427. >You are, against all your better knowledge, afraid that she might judge or hurt you.
  1428. >The pounding gets a little stronger.
  1429. >But thankfully #deca.mare helps you out.
  1430. >"Shh. Relax, Anon. I will do none of that."
  1431. >And to further prove the point she is making, #deca.mare intensifies her "massage".
  1432. >She certainly wants you to blossom in your mutual session.
  1433. >Still in no way a rough or reckless fashion, but she increases her pace and includes very, very soft thrusts in her rotation.
  1434. "Oomph!"
  1435. >This utterance was a pure reflex, and is accompanied by another reflexive attempt to get away from her hoof.
  1440. >"Oh my, still not convinced?"
  1441. "No, that's not the... whoa!"
  1442. >#deca.mare has spontaneously decided to add your penile region to the list of areas to work on with her hoof.
  1443. >This is almost too much at once for you.
  1444. >You want all of this, generally speaking.
  1445. >But at the same time you need to come to terms with the situation at large.
  1446. >#deca.mare's pace, however, does not make that so easy.
  1447. >And neither does the strong and frequent throbbing in your nether region.
  1448. >A third escape attempt, as weak as it is unsuccessful.
  1449. >"Ah ah ah, stay for a little longer. You will not regret it."
  1450. >She keeps her massage going, completely unfazed.
  1451. >The worst part about it is that it actually feels somehow good and fulfils its stimulating purpose at the same time.
  1452. >But this is just so unfamiliar to you.
  1453. >Plus, you fear that she could overdo it and "finish" you before you even got the chance to get serious.
  1454. >And this would be the biggest humiliation you can think of.
  1455. >So you must do something about it.
  1456. >Up to this point, you have not been sufficiently active.
  1457. >Sure, you have kissed and massaged her, but you have always played it safe.
  1458. >Not anymore.
  1459. >You need to turn this around, and fast.
  1460. >You collect your thoughts and fortitude to take the initiative.
  1461. >And instead of trying to get away from #deca.mare, you push yourself to her.
  1462. >The sudden shift catches #deca.mare off guard.
  1463. >As a result, you roll unto her body.
  1464. >While her hoof remains in its compromising position, you get a little bit more leeway now.
  1465. >Yet this change is not without its side effects, as your own weight pulls you down on her.
  1466. >Which means your nether region now presses itself against #deca.mare's body, and her one hoof in particular.
  1467. >She can easily handle your weight, but you are not sure if you made the right choice for yourself.
  1472. >No matter.
  1473. >Pull yourself together, Anon.
  1474. >You take the things into your own hands now.
  1475. >You free your arms and pull your upper body up.
  1476. >#deca.mare coolly tests your resolve with one last tender push.
  1477. >This translates almost to a soft squeeze thanks to your additional weight.
  1478. >But you do not give her more than a few twitches.
  1479. >You are gaining ground.
  1480. >#deca.mare is visibly satisfied with you.
  1481. >At this point you understand the true nature of her game.
  1482. >She wanted to tease you into the more proactive role.
  1483. "You sly little devil, you planned this all along!"
  1484. >Your tumultuous heartbeat and heavy breaths force you to pause between your sentences.
  1485. >#deca.mare takes advantage of your state to chime in.
  1486. >"Partially, with a few speculations on my part. So what? It worked, did it not? I think I got you perfectly... motivated."
  1487. >She emphasises her last word by reminding you where her rear hoof still remains.
  1488. >Enough, this has to change.
  1489. >You grab the offending rear hoof with one hand and carefully shove it aside.
  1490. >#deca.mare shows no signs of resistance.
  1491. >Okay, this gives you some room to breathe, but she properly has heated you up.
  1492. >Not only does your heart hammer like mad while your lungs work overtime, you also feel the urge to follow your nature.
  1493. >You want to show #deca.mare what you have in store, and likewise see what she is made of as well.
  1494. >You rise further and get on your knees, right behind #deca.mare's rear.
  1495. >You look down.
  1496. >Starting at #deca.mare's face, you let your gaze wander downwards.
  1497. >Across her chest and belly.
  1498. >And finally to her teats and a little further.
  1499. >This time there is no strategic cover.
  1500. >In fact, #deca.mare intentionally moves her tail around to present you a full view.
  1501. >Your already considerable heartbeat accelerates yet another bit.
  1502. >You did not even know that your heart could race that fast.
  1507. >And just to sprinkle a little more "motivation" on top, she uses her now freed tail to stroke your sides.
  1508. >"Like what you see? Come, I am all yours."
  1509. >The temptation is there; you could go for it right here and now.
  1510. >Hell, even #deca.mare is bluntly asking for it.
  1511. >But another idea crosses your mind in time.
  1512. >Oh, how devious.
  1513. "No, not yet. That wouldn't be fair."
  1514. >"Not fair?"
  1515. "That's right. Because sharing is caring. And I'd love to share my 'motivation' with you."
  1516. >By now it is abundantly clear what you are proposing.
  1517. >You wait and see what #deca.mare will do.
  1518. >She could resist or protest, but that would cost her any ground she might have in a later debate.
  1519. >A blush forms on her face as she understands what is now bound to unfold.
  1520. >"Do it."
  1521. >A faint quake hints at #deca.mare's own insecurity.
  1522. >Well, you will change that.
  1523. "Why so stiff, my dear? Are you not happy to have me here?"
  1524. >You lay your hands on her chest and let them slide down in one slow, fluent movement.
  1525. >To further amplify the effect, you spread your fingers to cover a wider area.
  1526. >You notice that #deca.mare's heartbeat and breath get slightly unsteady.
  1527. >The anticipation alone is strong enough to faze her.
  1528. >You grin.
  1529. >Two can play this game.
  1530. "No no no. That won't do it. You have to relax."
  1531. >Your hands reach her belly.
  1532. >Not much longer until they have reached their first destination.
  1533. "Some stress therapy. Exactly what the doctor ordered."
  1534. >the palms of your hands sweep over #deca.mare's teats.
  1535. >Her reaction is immediate: You hear her sucking in air through her teeth.
  1536. >Good grief, you might unintentionally ravage her tonight.
  1537. >Hopefully you will notice before you go too far.
  1538. >But then again, you figure she will make herself known if she cannot take any more.
  1539. >You should be good for now.
  1544. >Your palms make way for your fingers.
  1545. >The feeling is absolutely unique.
  1546. >It is one of the few spots on #deca.mare's body that is not covered with dense fur.
  1547. >Touching and stroking her soft coat is pleasurable alright, but this is different.
  1548. >Warm, supple skin tissue that slightly dents upon touch.
  1549. >You have not really paid attention to it in your previous stunt, since it was just an improvised jest.
  1550. >But now it sends a wave of excitement through your body as well.
  1551. >Okay, think ahead, Anon.
  1552. >It is time for some stimulating "payback".
  1553. >Within reason, of course.
  1554. >You commence like she did: Some slow, circular movements.
  1555. >No pressure yet.
  1556. >This alone is enough to make #deca.mare shiver and squeak faintly.
  1557. >Especially her hind legs are affected.
  1558. >They dangle in the air on either side, quivering respectively.
  1559. >It is still a sensitive reaction, but you have expected more than that.
  1560. >Something much more severe.
  1561. >Perhaps she found the opportunity to mentally prepare herself beforehand?
  1562. >Anyway, you doubt she can maintain that attitude over a longer period of time.
  1563. >You decide to go a step further and put a minimal amount of pressure on her.
  1564. >You feel your fingers sinking ever so slightly deeper into her flexible skin.
  1565. >#deca.mare responds with a sudden intake of air and an instinctive clenching of her hind legs.
  1566. >You have anticipated something like this; you lean your upper body forwards to stop her legs in their tracks.
  1567. >Which means the inner sides of her hind legs are now pressing against your upper arms while you are busy with tending to her teats.
  1568. >You evaluate for a second whether #deca.mare can take it or not.
  1569. >Not an easy feat for you, as you can barely think straight at the moment.
  1570. >Your own instincts force your attention to be elsewhere.
  1575. >You look #deca.mare in the eyes.
  1576. >Apart from a severe case of crimson blushing, she does not seem to be particularly distressed by your actions.
  1577. >So you continue the gentle massage.
  1578. >Interestingly enough, #deca.mare apparently manages to acclimatise to the procedure, as her shaking and intense breathing weaken over time.
  1579. >But she is without a doubt enjoying everything, since she has closed her eyes with a faint smile.
  1580. >You decide to dare another trick.
  1581. >You place all of your fingers around the tip of her teats and wait.
  1582. >#deca.mare gets curious.
  1583. >Under normal circumstances, she would make a noise or twitch in some fashion.
  1584. >She has indeed become a little better at handling sensory stimuli.
  1585. >But what is also worthy to notice is that she has not yet understood your next move.
  1586. >Interesting.
  1587. >You are not the only one who struggles to think clearly at the moment.
  1588. >No matter, she will understand it right away.
  1589. >And perhaps it is for the better when you can surprise her too.
  1590. >Time to test how good she has become.
  1591. >You simultaneously spread all your fingers in different directions, also with only a light pressure.
  1592. >That way you can cover the entire area around both teats in less than a second.
  1593. >This got her.
  1594. >#deca.mare composure breaks as one single but firm jerk runs through her body.
  1595. >Strong enough to rock the complete bed.
  1596. >"Agh!"
  1597. >#deca,mare instinctively clenches her legs harder, which in turn increases the pressure on your sides significantly.
  1598. "Oh man, too much?"
  1599. >That was a genuine question.
  1600. >As far as you are concerned, you might have crossed a line unintentionally.
  1601. >#deca.mare shakes her head, still panting.
  1602. >"No. I am fine."
  1603. >A pause to catch some air.
  1604. >"Go on."
  1605. "Okay."
  1606. >You resume your massage with a slightly altered routine.
  1607. >Her outburst made you somewhat nervous.
  1608. >At least a little more than you already were before.
  1613. >You switch between massages with your hands and palms, always with a different strength and speed.
  1614. >The short pauses while switching are also meant to cut #deca.mare some slack.
  1615. >You realise you get a thrill out of it too; you find pleasure in stimulating #deca.mare and observing the results.
  1616. >Once or twice, you expand the area you cover a bit.
  1617. >Further down.
  1618. >Both curiosity and your own impulses urge you to take a look at this point.
  1619. >But you make sure to avoid any form of direct contact for the time being.
  1620. >Not only do you plan to leave this part for the "grand finale" of the act, but you could also risk to overwhelm #deca.mare completely.
  1621. >Instead, you trace around it, leaving a generous distance on both sides.
  1622. >#deca.mare's body shifts slightly in alignment to the movement of your hands.
  1623. >You assume that shall encourage you to do precisely that one thing which you want to avoid.
  1624. >However, you are not sure about the intention behind it.
  1625. >It could be an intentional act.
  1626. >#deca.mare has tried similar things before, so that would hardly be a surprise.
  1627. >But she looks so absent-minded, fully absorbed by her own bliss.
  1628. >You realise she may also do this subconsciously.
  1629. >This guesswork relaxes you a fair bit.
  1630. >Everything will happen in time.
  1631. >But #deca.mare learns to capitalise on your slowdown, much to your surprise.
  1632. >In one particular "close" moment, she spontaneously thrusts her body in your direction.
  1633. >Just one small impulse with which she has gained not more than a few millimetres at best, but it was all she needed to gain small victory for herself.
  1638. >Despite your best efforts to foil #deca.mare's trick, your hands nevertheless brush against her lower lips.
  1639. >In the next fracture of a second, you fully realise what happened, and everything gets quickly out of hand.
  1640. >Well, at least out of your hand.
  1641. >Literally.
  1642. >A cold shock engrosses you.
  1643. >This is not going according to plan.
  1644. >At all.
  1645. >You retreat your hands and look straight down.
  1646. >And that is the moment you see her winking.
  1647. >Of course not with her eyes this time.
  1648. >You feel like your brain has ceased all its functions as you stare at the display before you, completely paralysed.
  1649. >Moreover, that is not even the icing on the cake.
  1650. >Because the muscle contractions of her winking cause her to briefly nip the tip of your own erected member.
  1651. >It was only a brief contact, but it left a strong impression.
  1652. >The feeling rushes through your mind.
  1653. >You picked up more mental details than you should have.
  1654. >Warm.
  1655. >Smooth.
  1656. >And you might have imagined it, but you believe you have also felt a thin wet film.
  1657. >The whole experience is entrancing.
  1658. >Again, just a second later.
  1659. >Too much.
  1660. >Too fast.
  1661. >You do not even register #deca.mare's reaction to your brief mutual contacts.
  1662. >All you can think of is to get some distance between you.
  1663. >But your mesmerised brain is in a poor state to think clearly.
  1664. >And your execution of said plan is even poorer.
  1665. >Instead of getting up, you immediately try to back off as if you were standing.
  1666. >You have completely forgotten that you are on your knees.
  1667. >And the result is the complete opposite of what you intended.
  1672. >You lose your balance and fall forward, right onto #deca.mare.
  1673. >This rather inelegant landing is enough to knock the air out of her for a moment.
  1674. >But she is, in contrast to you, still mostly in control of her own body.
  1675. >An advantage she uses in the blink of an eye.
  1676. >#deca.mare locks you in this position with her hind legs.
  1677. >In addition to that, she also wraps her forelimbs around your neck.
  1678. >And much to your personal chagrin, your nethers have not moved whatsoever.
  1679. >So her rhythmical nipping and caressing continues, while you are lying almost face to face.
  1680. >Every touch sends ripples of excitement through you.
  1681. >At least you see #deca.mare's own excitement right away.
  1682. >In fact, you could barely watch elsewhere due to the very close proximity, even if you tried.
  1683. >Strong blush and heavy breathing, just like before.
  1684. >But your frequent contacts take a toll on her as well.
  1685. >Each one is accompanied by a quiet gasp and a forceful quiver.
  1686. >With no means to get away, take a long breath get a hold of yourself.
  1687. >Not that easy in your current situation.
  1688. >#deca.mare does her best to keep your senses busy.
  1689. >She obviously wants to render you distracted and appeal to your instincts.
  1690. >And in spite of #deca.mare's unorthodox approach, that strategy is working somehow.
  1691. >She has chosen a way to nudge you in a certain direction.
  1692. >Or, to be more precise, to make you nudge yourself in said direction.
  1693. >Plus, you realise this is not so bad, all things considered.
  1694. >You knew from the start where you would end up.
  1695. >Only the way how you got here was different from what you expected.
  1696. >Another brief contact.
  1697. >You shiver, she gasps.
  1702. >You look at her wordlessly.
  1703. >#deca.mare returns your gaze, equally silent.
  1704. >Her bright eyes tell you everything you need to know, and you have no problem with interpreting her message.
  1705. >She is ready when you are.
  1706. >And she is longing for this.
  1707. >You can barely even begin to imagine how #deca.mare must feel.
  1708. >This is already a big thing for you, yet so much more for her.
  1709. >A moment of final confirmation.
  1710. >Centuries of isolation; a thing of the past.
  1711. >A chance for both of you to start anew in a mutual bond.
  1712. >Another nip.
  1713. >Right, enough of that.
  1714. >This is no opportune moment for long mental speeches.
  1715. >You blink once and focus on her eyes once more.
  1716. "Shall we?"
  1717. >A nod.
  1718. >You notice the thumping in your chest.
  1719. >It was never really gone, but you forgot about if for a moment.
  1720. "But first you have to release me. Can't move around if you clamp me like this."
  1721. >#deca.mare obliges, albeit reluctantly.
  1722. >Now freed from #deca.mare's lock, you rise your upper body to resume the position you were in before you fell.
  1723. >And you increase the distance between you and #deca.mare.
  1724. >At least a few millimetres.
  1725. >You just have to break contact for a second.
  1726. >"Anon?"
  1727. >#deca.mare's voice sounds slightly dissatisfied and unsure.
  1728. "Please, only a second."
  1729. >You need to collect yourself one last time.
  1730. >One long breath.
  1731. >It does not slow your racing heart in any way.
  1732. >Neither can it stop your own feeling of coy excitement.
  1733. >Do not make a fool of yourself, Anon.
  1734. >You know how it goes and know what to do.
  1735. >You are not stupid after all, right?
  1736. >In, forwards, backwards, repeat step two and three, repeat, repeat, repeat.
  1737. >Not a big deal on paper.
  1738. >Okay, stop thinking, just do it, and let nature take over.
  1743. >Still on your knees, you close the gap between #deca.mare and you.
  1744. >You position yourself in a fashion to make sure you can spring right into action at any moment.
  1745. >Means you are also in her nipping range again.
  1746. >You bear with that fact and put your hands on her thighs.
  1747. >#deca.mare awaits you.
  1748. >You look at her one last time before you start, then you look down.
  1749. >You need to see what you are doing.
  1750. >And #deca.mare will most likely be too occupied with other things to keep an eye on you anyway.
  1751. >You slowly move your hips forward and finally make contact.
  1752. >#deca.mare responds with a loud gasp and a forceful shake.
  1753. >Her subconsciousness tries to evade your sudden invasive presence.
  1754. >Good thing you thought ahead; you stabilise #deca.mare's lower body with your hands.
  1755. >With #deca.mare now momentarily secured, your brain has the time to process the situation.
  1756. >The sensation matches your expectations.
  1757. >She is warm inside.
  1758. >Even warmer than her full-body embrace.
  1759. >Also soft, unlike anything you experienced before.
  1760. >And you were correct, her inner tissue is covered by a thin film.
  1761. >Plus, the movements of her contractions elevate that sensation even more.
  1762. >You two practically caress each other simultaneously.
  1763. >For a moment you are torn between two contradictory feelings.
  1764. >One makes you feel like you would dissolve at any second, and urges you to get away.
  1765. >But this is quickly conquered be the temptation to give in entirely.
  1766. >You pick the second option subconsciously.
  1767. >Everything goes on its own accord from this moment onward.
  1768. >You remain in full control of all your faculties, but there are no more considerations.
  1769. >You know, you just know what is the right thing to do, no questions asked.
  1770. >And it is pleasing.
  1771. >More than that, it is enthralling.
  1772. >You cannot deny the alluring charm.
  1773. >And you gladly offer yourself to this notion.
  1778. >You begin to sense a pattern in #deca.mare's contractions, and match the movement with your hips, although not in a completely synchronised manner.
  1779. >This causes some minor frictions now and then.
  1780. >These alone are enough to get some moans out of #deca.mare.
  1781. >You keep your pace constantly irregular.
  1782. >That way she cannot predict when and where you will hit her next.
  1783. >And something curious happens.
  1784. >While the act itself is a tremendous experience, it is not the best aspect for you.
  1785. >No, you derive at least an equal amount of satisfaction out of simply witnessing what your actions do with #deca.mare, if not more.
  1786. >Her weak tremors.
  1787. >Her steady, lively breath.
  1788. >The faint, but long-winded moans in her voice.
  1789. >She has probably never been truly at peace with herself until now.
  1790. >And knowing that you can actively help #deca.mare through this act is even better than the experience on its own.
  1791. >Your instincts tell you something.
  1792. >Like a wordless, yet clear voice.
  1794. >Now go a step further.
  1795. >Find out how far you can go.
  1796. >This is a therapeutic moment for her.
  1797. >Also your first time.
  1798. >Give her the best impression of you.
  1799. >And for healing purposes, of course.
  1800. >She needs it, you want it.
  1802. >You give in and follow the advice of that voice.
  1803. >Partly for your own thrill, yes, but also to leave a lasting positive impact on #deca.mare.
  1804. >But you have to admit, you find it arousing to hear her blissful gasps and moans.
  1805. >You add slow and weak thrusts to your mutual pattern.
  1806. >Forwards and back, forwards, back.
  1807. >Almost like an intimate dance.
  1808. >You take heed of the other's needs and complement each other to perform one wholesome, choreography of love.
  1813. >And your thrusts do not miss their mark.
  1814. >#deca.mare's moans get louder as she starts to wind her body in accordance to your movements.
  1815. >Like a dance indeed.
  1816. >Not a strict one with a clear lead and follow, but you understand your common style without a single word.
  1817. >You bet you would not even need the mental link for that.
  1818. >Plus, judging from #deca.mare's current state, it is doubtful whether she is able to do much with it anyway.
  1819. >A slightly firmer and faster pace.
  1820. >By now you have her locked in an almost complete ecstasy.
  1821. >Moaning and squirming out of pleasure with closed eyes, it seems like she has reached the limit of her tolerance level.
  1822. >Pushing it any more will end it all prematurely.
  1823. >And that would be such a shame.
  1824. >So you keep the pace and pattern steady.
  1825. >While it is already an extremely pleasing experience for you as well, you look for secondary ways to tweak the whole situation.
  1826. >Your hands wander across #deca.mare's thighs.
  1827. >It may not be much in comparison to the "main act", but every bit counts.
  1828. >Though your decision has a side effect you have not thought about.
  1829. >Because your hands are no longer present to pin her lower body.
  1830. >Means she is now able to move it freely.
  1831. >And that causes more friction between you.
  1832. >#deca.mare stretches out her forehooves to cover her more sensitive spots.
  1833. >She can, however, only reach down to her teats.
  1834. >To quote an eloquent white unicorn: Idea!
  1835. >You let your hands slide on her fur in the direction of #deca.mare's forehooves.
  1836. >Once your hands have reached their destination, you wiggle them between her tender skin and hardened bone.
  1837. >But you do not aim for her weak spot this time.
  1838. >That would result in an absolute overkill.
  1839. >You turn your hands on the spot and grasp her hooves.
  1840. >This translates to another soft pressure on #deca.mare, yet far less than a proper massage.
  1845. >Nevertheless, her highly aroused state makes her vulnerable to pretty much everything.
  1846. >She clenches her rear legs, but, unlike before, you do not intercept them.
  1847. >You keep your upper body straight as #deca.mare closes the gap between her limbs.
  1848. >This leaves your hands in a leg lock while you simultaneously hold her forehooves in your palms.
  1849. >The other two dangle in the air, right underneath your head.
  1850. >They also shake and tilt with every move you make.
  1851. >Now you have a unique opportunity to study their undersides.
  1852. >These are far more detailed than they first appear.
  1853. >And the show has somewhat influenced your mental image of them.
  1854. >A strange thought occurs to you.
  1855. >There is a special thrill to be found in a relationship with an Equestrian pony, and an Earth pony in particular.
  1856. >You have seen what they can do.
  1857. >One simple, almost casual buck of a trained pony is enough to shake grown trees to the core.
  1858. >So much physical power, such a display of pristine physique and health.
  1859. >No human could ever hope to compete with a pony in a direct comparison.
  1860. >And yet here you are, taming that power in a passionate night full of love and mutual affection.
  1861. >#deca.mare somehow seems to understand your thoughts, even through her deep-rooted bliss.
  1862. >She rests her rear hooves on your skin, directly under your chin.
  1863. >You register their hard surface, similar to that of her forehooves.
  1864. >But they are not grating or disturb you in any way.
  1865. >You rather understand them as perfect representation of #deca.mare's respectable vitality.
  1866. >You slightly lower you head to lay your chin on her limbs, which semi-effectively locks them where they are.
  1867. >This is your way to show that you openly accept them without any fear.
  1868. >Deep inside you know she will not hurt you, despite her power.
  1869. >Nor does she want to hurt her lover.
  1870. >All of the power and none of the risk.
  1871. >That makes the appeal all the sweeter.
  1877. >Your natural urges grow stronger.
  1878. >The motivation to dare something returns.
  1879. >You want to see #deca.mare going all out, see how she acts upon climax.
  1880. >So you put a bit more emphasis into your thrusts.
  1881. >Not by using more force or going faster, you simply cause more and more frictions between you.
  1882. >You do not give her any more moments of respite.
  1883. >The permanent stimulation does its part on #deca.mare.
  1884. >Her gasps and moans get louder and deeper, and you think the pace of her contractions is more rapid as well.
  1885. >Or maybe you just get closer to the finish line too.
  1886. >Hard to tell.
  1887. >Regardless, the sensation develops with every passing second.
  1888. >You act out of sheer instinct by now.
  1889. >In this moment comes the crucial turning point.
  1890. >The one in which everything turns into an uncontrollable spiral of ecstasy for both of you.
  1891. >Your chin clamps on her rear hooves, your hands intensify their care of the other two.
  1892. >At the same time you feel how #deca.mare hides her tail between your legs.
  1893. >She caresses your nethers with her long, smooth hair.
  1894. >The sudden tickle sends a warm shiver through your body and forces you to buckle in #deca.mare's direction.
  1895. >And there is no need to deny it, she likewise makes you grasp for air.
  1896. >But your move translates directly to #deca.mare's privates, since you unintentionally give her more than you originally wanted to, and with far more speed at that.
  1897. >The ice breaks at last.
  1898. >Her answer is a loud outcry of sudden pleasure.
  1899. >And she stiffens her limbs automatically.
  1900. >This in itself would not be much of an issue if her forehooves were not resting in your hands.
  1901. >Because they still rest upon her teats in turn.
  1902. >#deca.mare accidentally stimulates herself beyond the limit by pushing your hands straight into her own supple skin.
  1903. >She cannot hold it any longer and climaxes with a long and loud gasping moan, accompanied by more violent quivering.
  1908. >But this is not all.
  1909. >Her ultimate outburst push you over the edge with her.
  1910. >You breathe out with a muffled grunt as you follow her into the entrancing mental state that is climax.
  1911. >You bask in your mutual pleasure and spend the next minutes with nothing but catching your breath and relaxing while staring deep into the other's eyes.
  1912. >#deca.mare is practically glowing with an aura of satisfaction and serenity.
  1913. >She does not have to explicitly thank you.
  1914. >The very definition of loving gratitude is written on her face.
  1915. >Especially in her eyes.
  1916. >Those beautiful, large eyes.
  1917. >They sparkle to the brim with happiness.
  1918. >You two know exactly what to do next.
  1919. >You disentangle your limbs: You let go of #deca.mare's forehooves in your hands while she spreads her hind legs.
  1920. >You let yourself fall slowly into her embrace.
  1921. >Not with erotic intentions in mind though.
  1922. >You need some rest together, plain and simple.
  1923. >You lie down side by side on the bed.
  1924. >You gently stoke her back while she snuggles your chest with her head.
  1925. >You give her a small peck on the forehead.
  1926. "And? How do you feel now, my dear?"
  1927. >#deca.mare closes her eyes while she keeps snuggling you.
  1928. >"Alive."
  1929. >One word.
  1930. >Only this single world.
  1931. >And yet this is all you need to know, for these five simple letters contain so many implications at once.
  1932. >You nod in acknowledgement, without raising your voice again.
  1933. >Everything that needed to be said has been said.
  1934. >The rest is just redundant tonight.
  1935. >You keep holding #deca.mare in your arms.
  1936. >Soft strokes notwithstanding, you do not much else.
  1937. >You simply enjoy her company as she is snug up next to you.
  1942. >After a while, you notice something extraordinary.
  1943. >#deca.mare seems to be sleeping.
  1944. >Not like her usual "resting" in which she more or less hijacks your dreams for a shared experience.
  1945. >She seems to be truly asleep.
  1946. >On her own.
  1947. >Odd, you did not think she could do it.
  1948. >And if she really sleeps, can she dream on her own?
  1949. >You consider to say something, but the idea is dropped quickly.
  1950. >Her noble soul deserves the rest.
  1951. >But you keep stroking her.
  1952. >Something tells you she that she will feel those even in her sleep.
  1953. >You have no idea how long you are able to maintain this care before exhaustion claims you too.
  1954. >The rest of the night remains peaceful and quiet while the candles around you burn out, leaving you in the safety of your shrouded chamber.
  1955. >Only the pale moonlight out there finds its way through the window.
  1960. 42
  1962. >Images flash through your mind.
  1963. >They all come and go, always changing, always shifting.
  1964. >None of them are clear.
  1965. >You see some outlines, but the details are lost.
  1966. >But that does not matter.
  1967. >They embody ideas, feelings.
  1968. >And you understand them without any explanation.
  1969. >Because they all share the same notion.
  1970. >Of comfort and belonging.
  1971. >The interior of a small house, furnished for a casual life.
  1972. >A feeling of being surrounded by your kin, their warm presence all around you.
  1973. >Green gardens and blue skies.
  1974. >Festivals.
  1975. >Friends.
  1976. >Home.
  1977. >A Family.
  1978. >All of them have hooves.
  1979. >You do not care.
  1980. >With them by your side, you are not alone.
  1981. >That is all that counts.
  1982. >To you they are like equals.
  1983. >Brothers and sisters.
  1984. >Many, many siblings.
  1985. >They will need your help, your guidance.
  1986. >All of them.
  1987. >For a long, long time.
  1988. >It will be much hard work.
  1989. >But you will do it.
  1990. >With a smile on your face.
  1991. >For them.
  1992. >And for you.
  1993. >Because it will not be in vain.
  1994. >Your toils will bear fruits.
  1995. >They can heal.
  1996. >Heal a broken heart.
  1997. >Mend a fractured soul.
  1998. >And maybe, just maybe, they can also cure bad blood.
  1999. >Put an end to a tragedy that never should have happened.
  2000. >But only time will tell.
  2005. 43
  2007. >The gentle rays of dawn fill the chamber as you wake up.
  2008. >You open your eyes and see nothing out of the ordinary.
  2009. >#deca.mare lies in your arms, unmoving.
  2010. >You look at her.
  2011. >She is still asleep, peaceful and still.
  2012. >This display alone touches you.
  2013. >You would rather go to hell before you disturb her right now.
  2014. >Means all you can do at the moment is holding still as well.
  2015. >You take a cautious look around.
  2016. >The light rays that shine through the window dance and flicker on occasion due to moving cloud formations.
  2017. >A proof that the simulating automaton still does its job flawlessly without #deca.mare's direct intervention.
  2018. >Means the simulation will remain stable for now.
  2019. >Good, because you did not really think about what could happen if #deca.mare really passes out.
  2020. >Not much, apparently.
  2021. >You let your gaze wander.
  2022. >The chamber looks exactly like it was before you went to sleep.
  2023. >The now burnt candles are the only exception.
  2024. >And your minor adjustments are still in place; a reminder of your late-night activities.
  2025. >You briefly think about the events of last night.
  2026. >It almost seems like a beautiful dream.
  2027. >You can barely believe that it really happened.
  2028. >Not because you feel shame or anything, it simply seems so unreal after all your previous resistance against it.
  2029. >It looks all so easy in hindsight.
  2030. >But it was for the best, no question about that.
  2031. >#deca.mare will benefit greatly from the experience.
  2032. >It will help her on the long road to become a whole individual, free from traumata and inner fractions.
  2033. >And it was good for you too.
  2034. >Now that the deed is done, you feel more at ease around her.
  2035. >No reason to fear any sudden innuendos anymore, and no more bodily inhibitions.
  2036. >You can act natural around her.
  2037. >Perhaps this was also necessary for you to truly accept #deca.mare as she is.
  2038. >A healthy relationship can only work if you open yourself completely to your significant other in every regard, and find a common middle ground.
  2039. >A weak stir.
  2044. >You focus back on #deca.mare.
  2045. >She is slowly waking up and subconsciously nuzzles your neck with her head.
  2046. >You stroke her back in return.
  2047. >This brings her attention back to reality, and she opens her eyes to look at you.
  2048. "Mornin'. Slept well?"
  2049. >At first it seems that #deca.mare does not understand what you mean.
  2050. >"Anon?"
  2051. >She appears confused.
  2052. "Is everything alright? How do you feel?"
  2053. >#deca.mare hesitates before she answers.
  2054. >"I feel great, but..."
  2055. "Yes?"
  2056. >"Could you tell me what happened? My memories are a bit blurry."
  2057. >Okay, a small tease is in order.
  2058. "Oh, you forgot about last night?"
  2059. >#deca.mare shakes her head.
  2060. >But since you are still lying in bed together, she only ends up ruffling her own mane and the sheets.
  2061. >"No, that was not what I meant. And you know that. What happened at the end?"
  2062. >You smile.
  2063. "You fell asleep. On your own, #deca."
  2064. >#deca.mare blinks in disbelief.
  2065. >"I did?"
  2066. "Uh huh. Slept like a log. I'm surprised you don't remember. Say, what exactly do you recall?"
  2067. >Another blink.
  2068. >"There is a small gap. I know very well what we did. In all its lively details."
  2069. >Faint traces of a rosy hue appear on her cheeks.
  2070. >"And the dream too. But the transition between the two is lost. I cannot exactly pinpoint where one ends and the other starts. Wait, you woke up before me?"
  2071. "That I did. Only a minute or two, but yes. Why?
  2072. >"Strange. Because our dream sequence went on. To the very end."
  2073. "Until you woke up?"
  2074. >A nod.
  2075. "Heh, could it be that you kept dreaming on your own?"
  2076. >#deca.mare flattens her ears.
  2077. >"I am not sure. The dreams are a collaborative product, made possible through our mutual link. I was unable to do it myself because I had no prior experience with it. But that has changed."
  2078. "Sounds to me like you do what you do best. You're evolving, #deca."
  2079. >You tighten the embrace to pull her into a firm hug.
  2080. >She does the same in response.
  2085. >You remain in that position for minutes without anyone doing anything.
  2086. >There are no tensions this time.
  2087. >But at last, it is time to get up.
  2088. >Cuddling in bed is great and fine, but you have great plans ahead of you.
  2089. >And you need to get out of bed if you want to accomplish them.
  2090. >You try to stand up, but #deca.mare does not let you go.
  2091. "Get up, sleepyhead. We can't spend all day in here."
  2092. >"One more minute."
  2093. "Nah, I know where this ends. One minute becomes two, then three, and so on."
  2094. >You chuckle.
  2095. "Trust me, I'm an expert. It's hard to get back on track if you neglect your schedule. Happens faster than you would imagine."
  2096. >An eased mumbling protest is all you get.
  2097. >She is fully awake, but she simply feels too comfortable to leave.
  2098. "Okay, one minute."
  2099. >But you must be careful to not spoil her too much.
  2100. >You snuggle up next to her and let #deca.mare have this moment.
  2101. >It is her first true morning, so maybe she should enjoy that to the fullest.
  2102. >The minute passes in absolute tranquillity.
  2103. >Then you decide to intervene.
  2104. >Gently, but determined.
  2105. >You keep your one arm on her back and wrap the other around her rear.
  2106. >After that, you roll your bodies around so that she lies on you.
  2107. >#deca.mare uses this opportunity to bury her head deeper into you neck, but nothing more.
  2108. >Okay, at least she does not resist.
  2109. >But you have to do everything yourself.
  2110. >You gradually shift your bodies to the edge of the bed and place your feet on the ground.
  2111. >Now you use that newfound foothold to stand up, with #deca.mare in your arms.
  2112. >You have carried her before, so you know this will not be an issue.
  2113. >But #deca.mare has nevertheless gotten hold of one of the blankets, and she drags it with her as you rise.
  2114. >No problem, you play along.
  2115. >You take your hand off from #deca.mare's back, quickly grab the blanket, and wrap it once around her in one smooth swipe.
  2116. >Now you have a bundled up pony in your arms.
  2121. >You carry her to the dinner table.
  2122. >It looks clean and unused; you left it in a pristine condition after your last dinner.
  2123. >You sit down on one of the cushions and let #deca.mare take a seat next to you, still wrapped up.
  2124. >She opens her cover and offers you to join her inside before you can think about what you shall wear for breakfast.
  2125. >You accept, and #deca.mare closes the cover around you.
  2126. >Only your heads, and also hands in your case, stick out.
  2127. "Any special wishes for breakfast?"
  2128. >"Pancakes. If you are okay with this."
  2129. "Uhm, sure."
  2130. >Going for a classic here.
  2131. >You materialise a batch of pancakes with a modest amount of syrup on a plate.
  2132. "Like yesterday?"
  2133. >"Gladly."
  2134. >So you share the pancakes equally.
  2135. >In the same manner like you shared your last dinner.
  2136. >A question pops up in your mind between two bites.
  2137. "Hey #deca, what was the substance you have given us yesterday?"
  2138. >"The one in the sundae?"
  2139. "Yeah. That one."
  2140. >#deca.mare chuckles bashfully.
  2141. >"That is a funny story."
  2142. >You stop in your tracks.
  2143. "Please don't tell me you pulled some shady business behind my back."
  2144. >"Well, no. Not really."
  2145. "Okay? Then you can tell me. I mean, we're past that barrier now, are we not?"
  2146. >#deca.mare clears her throat.
  2147. >"Right. The secret ingredient was..."
  2148. >A pause.
  2149. >"... confidence."
  2150. >You look at #deca.mare, pretty much dumbfounded by what you have just heard.
  2151. "You're kidding me."
  2152. >"Not at all. There was nothing special in it. My so-called tonic was simply a unique composition of the ingredients, used to make it taste significantly sweeter than an ordinary sundae. That was all."
  2153. "You mean..."
  2154. >"... that everything what happened last night came from us. Naturally, I might add. But I did not deceive you either. Because the sundae metaphorically contained confidence, as far as we are concerned."
  2155. >You want to object her reasoning, but she has a point.
  2156. >The dessert helped to break the ice, just by being in the right place at the right time.
  2161. >You shake your head with a smirk.
  2162. "You should try your luck as a salespony, #deca. With your skills, you could sell anything to anyone. You meet many ponies, and you get around."
  2163. >"Thank you, but no. Mercantile professions are usually set to make financial profit. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but I have no need for that sort of thing."
  2164. >Her argument is true, but something leaves you wondering. Maybe you can use this in a different way.
  2165. >But that is an issue for later.
  2166. >Right now, you share a breakfast with #deca.mare before you get to work.
  2167. >And just like before, you use your breaks to speak up.
  2168. "What's the plan today?"
  2169. >"Last time we covered protocol maintenance as a warm-up. I figured we proceed with basic machine building as our first true step in the project. That and planet selection. These two are interwoven in several ways."
  2170. >Another bite.
  2171. >Still not fully convinced of your own aptitude in engineering, you are somewhat hesitant to agree.
  2172. >But #deca.mare thinks this is adequate, and you heed her judgement.
  2173. "Sounds good to me."
  2174. >"After that another leisure session, followed by watching the third season."
  2175. "Hm, okay. I believe I have an idea for our next activity as well. Not directly a hobby, but it might help you anyway."
  2176. >#deca.mare nods in approval.
  2177. >"If you think it does, let us do it."
  2178. "Great!"
  2179. >So with your plan for today laid out, you resume eating your shared breakfast in the light of a new and harmonious day.
  2184. 44
  2186. >Back at the command deck, right after breakfast.
  2187. >Your first steps are business as usual: You sit down and make yourselves comfortable, while #deca.mare transfers your vision to the docking bay and grants you access to her data.
  2188. >The effect is alien as ever.
  2189. >Loads of new knowledge at your disposal, just like that.
  2190. "I swear, I always feel like a simpleton when you do this."
  2191. >You know that #deca.mare will try to respond.
  2192. "Yes. Yes. Before you say anything, I know it's deceiving. I won't fall for it."
  2193. >"Alright. Are you ready to get started?"
  2194. "Yep."
  2195. >You study the bay.
  2196. >The interior is exactly like it was the last time, minus ship within the clamps.
  2197. >In fact, there is no object to work on whatsoever; only a collection of components is stored nearby.
  2198. >You recognise them, despite the fact that you have never seen them before.
  2199. >These parts are components for robotic units, land-based ones to be exact.
  2200. "We're going to build an industrial drone."
  2201. >"Indeed. Now listen closely. It might seem you already know everything I am going to tell you, yet that impression is caused by the link. But fortunately for us, you will remember everything I teach you via conventional means."
  2202. "Okay, lecture time it is."
  2203. >You hear an intake of breath.
  2204. >Somewhat amusing to be honest, it feels like her body is still present next to you, despite the fact that neither of you has a distinct body right now in this simulation.
  2205. >"So, before we can begin to think about populating a planet, we have to deal with a fair bit of preparing work first. Even more so in our special case. There is a long list of things to do."
  2206. >A pause.
  2207. >"But it generally boils down to two tasks: One, to change a planet's properties to make it permanently hospitable to organic life, and two, to acquire the necessary resources and energy to do so."
  2208. >The second short break.
  2213. >"As I have mentioned previously, the closer the planet's properties are to terran standards, the better. Plus, it often comes with the bonus of decent local resource deposits as well. We can use what is already present to our advantage."
  2214. "That's where these units come in."
  2215. >"That is correct. We will equip our mobile industrial units with the required tools to harvest resources locally. How exactly each variety is equipped depends on the resources they are supposed to collect and where they have to do it. Once they are ready for action, we will drop them in the vicinity of rich deposits. Preferably ones that are close the surface or easy to reach via other means, like caves."
  2216. "And dropping means manual deployment with our ships."
  2217. >"Yes. We could alternatively launch them from here in theory, but that approach comes with a number of disadvantages. For instance, we could be forced to relocate the ship several times in orbit for one batch of units if the target vectors are unfavourably scattered. Plus, then we have to tackle the heat issue upon entering the atmosphere."
  2218. "I think I see your plan. We can expand the energy shield of the drones as long as they physically carry the cargo."
  2219. >You quickly realise the strangeness of your current situation.
  2220. >You have basically used #deca.mare's knowledge to lecture yourself in a way you can remember after your access to her database is cut.
  2221. >"We can. It will obviously strain the overall field strength and the energy grid, but it is much more effective than the alternative. Imagine what fitting every unit with an additional heat shield costs in terms of resources."
  2222. >Not much of a point in guessing it when you know the resource calculation table by heart.
  2223. >At least at the moment.
  2224. >Though you understand that this statement is directed at the future you who will not have that knowledge at his disposal.
  2225. >This lecture is absolutely bizarre.
  2230. >"And replenishing energy in space is much easier than collecting raw materials. You have witnessed what we had to do for a little load of water."
  2231. >Something in the depth of your borrowed mind perks up as a reaction to her wording.
  2232. >It sounds oddly familiar, but why?
  2233. >And the feeling is gone again without a trace, just as fast as it had appeared.
  2234. >Random thought of the day, you assume.
  2235. >Anyway, back on topic.
  2236. >You can figure out what #deca.mare's plane conveys.
  2237. "So the units we send down will be the spearhead of what is to come. And we will grant them the ability to replenish themselves."
  2238. >"To some degree, yes. Though this does not only include replenishment. No, we will provide them with basic facilities to fabricate more units, which in turn can also expand the production facilities if necessary. But keep in mind that they will follow their extremely strict instructions. I will ensure that they do not spiral out of control."
  2239. >You know what you would ask at this point without #deca.mare's knowledge.
  2240. "Give me a brief list of what exactly they do in detail. I need to remember this."
  2241. >"Like I said, everything we need to get started."
  2242. >A long list of instructions appear in front of you.
  2243. >These can generally be classified into different sections.
  2244. >Gather resources, develop a global infrastructure, stabilise planetary conditions, and make the planet hospitable to organic terran life.
  2245. >Especially the global infrastructure section is interesting as it mentions vast underground networks that run through the entire planetary body.
  2246. >#deca.mare mentioned this, but the scope of the project remains baffling.
  2247. >Even to herself, as it seems.
  2248. >Humans could never achieve something like this on their own, much less in one's normal lifetime.
  2249. >But here it is casually listed, as one point amongst many others.
  2254. >Not to mention other features, like the underground computer cores that will basically embody the literal mind and heart of the planet.
  2255. >Oh, and of course its special addendum.
  2256. >Because unlike the other terraforming projects before, this system will also contain and protect the planet's entire populace.
  2257. >All of them, perpetually.
  2258. >As close to immortality as scientifically possible in this universe.
  2259. >And it will gradually lead them to harmony, but, and this is important, not without the populace's own consent.
  2260. >There will be no coercion.
  2261. >You wonder what the endgame will look like.
  2262. >You have already seen a fraction of the system in a relatively advanced state, but time will always move on.
  2263. >And so will this world.
  2264. >This thought is doubly fascinating, because even #deca.mare can only predict the development up to a certain stage.
  2265. >As magnificent as her capabilities might be, her creation is bound to excel her at some point.
  2266. >Truly a thought that must be considered.
  2267. >And as you can see for yourself, #deca.mare has thought about that for a very long time.
  2268. >While you are personally not exactly eligible to come to a proper conclusion in your normal state, you can quickly skim through her thoughts to get at least a glimpse of her reasoning.
  2269. >And you can only agree with her.
  2270. >Equestria will become a land of peace, stability, and harmony in the end.
  2271. >All you have to do is to avoid failure, simple as that.
  2272. >"Anon?"
  2273. >You shake your currently non-existent head.
  2274. "Oh, sorry. I got a little bit into thinking."
  2275. >"Nothing wrong with that. I am happy to see you getting invested in this topic on your own."
  2280. >You think back to the last subject you spoke about.
  2281. >"You have a question, Anon?"
  2282. "Sort of. For my regular me at least."
  2283. >You collect your thoughts before you go on.
  2284. "How can we process that fast? You have set a four month schedule for the planetary claiming phase. Sounds hard to believe when we are talking about a planet of the size of Earth."
  2285. >"Not as hard as you will think. It is indeed four months on average. Results may of course vary in special cases. Remember, the pace accelerates exponentially, at least up to a certain point. The first days are obviously the slowest, but do not underestimate how quickly it will pick up, provided the planet has the required resources to do so."
  2286. >A pause.
  2287. >"If there are not enough, or if the scale of extraction might put a planet's stability at risk, the process speed depends on us and how fast we can import material from elsewhere."
  2288. "Which will not be necessary, as we're going to pick an ideal planet for our purposes right from the start."
  2289. >"You are beginning to think ahead. I like that."
  2290. >Is that pride in #deca.mare's voice?
  2291. >She apparently gets a great deal of satisfaction out of sharing her craft with a curious partner.
  2292. >Even if said partner requires a little bit of extra help.
  2293. >"Anyway, yes. It is only a matter of months. And luckily for us, we do not have to wait until the process is complete, since some segments will be ready in advance. So we can work with those while the units will prepare the rest."
  2294. "And the units can gather everything they need themselves."
  2295. >"Collect, refine, and manufacture, just like we can do here. In fact, they can do more down there on the planet as the size of their facilities is not limited by an external chassis like we are. The capacities of our outer shell are optimised to go barely beyond the resources we need for our maintenance and repair purposes."
  2300. >You nod mentally.
  2301. >"I think you can see why I am so keen about resource management. It is unpractical to spend large amounts of our core resources."
  2302. >You check the cargo lists of your ship, with a close look at the bays themselves and their specific designations.
  2303. >The largest storage sections are designated to raw materials that are required for electronics and general engineering: Metals, silicon, crystals, loads and loads of energy cells, and several more miscellaneous substances.
  2304. >These are the vital necessities for #deca.mare's continuous operation.
  2305. >Equipment for ships and other drones may be handled in separate secondary bays, but they draw all their resources from the same basic pool as well.
  2306. >Not to mention #deca.mare's personal systems.
  2307. >The computer core alone is a logistical beast, with all the other subsystems coming on top of that.
  2308. >The other big monster are the shield generators.
  2309. >Their energy consumption alone, even in idle mode, is nigh astronomical.
  2310. >It is abundantly clear why she is so conservative with her inventory.
  2311. >You would not need a direct link to understand that.
  2312. >You further investigate the other cargo bays.
  2313. >A few have basic biological substances stored in cryo chambers.
  2314. >No wonder, life has to come from somewhere, and this will form the basis of it.
  2315. >Equestria's future lies currently frozen and neatly stacked up in high-tech containers.
  2316. >Nothing hints at the glory it will once become.
  2317. >Yet.
  2318. >But there is more.
  2319. >At least one of its subsections is filled with nutrient pastes.
  2320. >These are, at the moment, primarily meant for you.
  2321. >You feel a mixture of gratitude and vulnerability at that sight.
  2326. >Some other cargo bays list curious entries.
  2327. >One of them is called "1x Wrecked M3 patrol fighter, Anon's property, do not touch.".
  2328. >Oh right, that thing.
  2329. >The ship which is both cursed and blessed at once.
  2330. >It absolutely catches your attention.
  2331. >You do not register that the next subsection holds an item called "1x Me".
  2332. >You have still no idea what to do with the vessel, but you do not want to discard it either.
  2333. >It somehow has a sentimental value to you, at least as a keepsake.
  2334. >You emit a loud sigh.
  2335. >Your past life briefly flashes through your mind.
  2336. >"Anon, do you need a moment?"
  2337. >#deca.mare's voice brings you back to the present.
  2338. "No, I'm fine. Thank you."
  2339. >You look once more at the statistics.
  2340. >The numbers you see there are not really to your liking.
  2341. "The material we'll use is a substantial part of what we have in reserve. Not critical, but considerable. I'm not sure if this a good plan, #deca."
  2342. >"Yet it will be beneficial in the long run. We may run slightly short on material for a little while, but this will not impede our operation."
  2343. >You hear a chuckle.
  2344. >"On the contrary, a fully accessible planet is a good opportunity to restock now and then. We can simply instruct the units to take some of the surplus material and send it our way. For example, an air drone will rise into the air with a container, and we pick the container up with one of our own ships. Much easier than hunting asteroids."
  2345. >#deca.mare sighs.
  2346. >"It has been a long time since I have been to my last stay on a permanent home base."
  2347. >You do not have to consult the database to understand her notion.
  2348. >But she is right about the project.
  2349. >#deca tech is the most durable technology that has ever existed.
  2350. >It will not fail unless it gets severely neglected while being online.
  2355. >Another pause.
  2356. >"That sums up what happens in phase one. The second involves an active alteration of the planet, based on the desired parameters. In most cases, this is comparatively easy to do, because the newly established networks allow for quick and effective actions on a global scale."
  2357. >In normal cases.
  2358. >Though you see the writing on the wall.
  2359. "But our case is not normal."
  2360. >"No. Because we aim for a highly specific geographic shape with little room for errors or interpretations. We do not simply go for any habitable configuration, but a very specific one instead. Every step in phase two must be carefully measured before its execution."
  2361. >Now you realise how much really went into the whole thing.
  2362. >This project is without any doubt the most challenging endeavour she has ever planned.
  2363. >#deca.mare's magnum opus, so to say.
  2364. >Perhaps there was an artist hidden in her soul all along.
  2365. >You should mention that to her later on.
  2366. >But right now you are here to work.
  2367. >After all, Equestria is waiting for you.
  2368. "I see. But let us come back to the units for now."
  2369. >"Right. Let us start with the assembly of a standard version. A general purpose utility unit with a wheeled base for mobility, the perfect all-rounder, even in only moderately accessible areas. We have all the necessary parts right here, and you know the procedure."
  2370. >You mentally request access to the necessary files and blueprints.
  2371. >Everything you need to know comes to you as if you had learned it naturally.
  2372. >You proceed with the first steps as usual.
  2373. >You activate the arms plus tools and bring them into position.
  2374. "All set."
  2375. >"Fine then, follow my instructions."
  2376. >That seems odd to you at the moment; you know how it is done.
  2377. >But #deca.mare mentioned this.
  2378. >You will see it differently once you are back to normal.
  2379. >So you do what she says.
  2384. >You pick a variety of prefabricated standard modules and bring them into position with your mechanical arms.
  2385. >A solid metal frame with four wheels and two independently movable axes form the base component.
  2386. >On top of that, you place a serial computer core, both equipped with a long-range receiver and responder, which is supposed to embody the heart and brain of the soon-to-be automaton.
  2387. >Around this centre come several mechanical gadgets and digits, meant to enable the drone to perform its supposed tasks.
  2388. >Some of the limbs in question bear remarkable resemblance to the tools you have used on your ice farming trip.
  2389. >Others look even more daunting and effective, especially the drilling tools.
  2390. >Though this should not be a surprise; these drones shall after all work underground and are meant to dig their own tunnels.
  2391. >The basic design is completed with a spacious secured cargo module on top, and several sensors.
  2392. >The latter are set all around the chassis into little incorporated niches in the external hull to provide a complete vision without being completely exposed to its surroundings.
  2393. >You do not have to worry about the internal electronics; they are all already aligned correctly thanks to the standardised layout.
  2394. >The pins snap in place the moment you place the modules in the correct sockets.
  2395. >And assembling the modules is rather simple too.
  2396. >All components possess a series of links that are either fused with bolts, or fixated with durable interlocking metal clamps.
  2397. >Now that you think about it, you are sure you could do this with ease on your own.
  2398. >A deeper understanding of each part is not required for the mere assembly process.
  2399. >Simple pattern recognition is sufficient to see where individual components have to be placed.
  2404. >In other words, an average fighter pilot is more than enough for the task at hand after a little practice.
  2405. >You would smile right now if you could.
  2406. "This is what you wanted to show me."
  2407. >"Well, yes. You were supposed to come to that conclusion. And I knew you had to see it for yourself to really believe it."
  2408. >This is true, though you wonder whether this treatment was actually necessary.
  2409. >Then again, you know what the intensified mental link does to your perception.
  2410. >The world looks oh so different when all the knowledge you craved is just a wish away.
  2411. >You secure the last locks on the automaton and observe your product.
  2412. >The unit looks unspectacular from the outside, but that is not what counts.
  2413. >They are not meant to be seen in any case.
  2414. >But what does matter is the symbolism behind it.
  2415. >Not only is it a machine you have assembled, it is also the first physical step towards Equestria, unassuming as it may look.
  2416. >And as such it has a much higher value than just the sum of its components.
  2417. >The automaton is, as overblown as it may sound, your gateway to paradise.
  2418. >"Good work, Anon. A textbook assembly. Now let me implement and test the software. After that, we have the first operational unit for our project."
  2419. >And you appreciate the second symbolism behind #deca.mare's action.
  2420. >She has let you set the metaphorical foundation stone of your new home.
  2421. >Quite generous, given that she had every reason to insist on doing that herself.
  2422. >But it still fitting all the same, since it was you who finally convinced her to get this project out of the shelf again.
  2427. >It remains a collaborative project at the end of the day.
  2428. >You simply need each other.
  2429. >This drone would not exist right now if any of you were missing in the equation.
  2430. >"We have more than enough parts left. Would you like to build another one?"
  2431. >This gives you an idea.
  2432. >A challenge.
  2433. "Sure, but let me try this completely on my own this time."
  2434. >"Already?"
  2435. "Yep, let me try a blind run. Let's see if I can get it right after one try. Only correct me if I make a mistake, okay?"
  2436. >You pause.
  2437. "Return the link to its normal level, #deca."
  2438. >"On it."
  2439. >And with that you are back on your own humble level of competence.
  2440. >You need a few seconds to ward off the confusion in your brain, then you are ready.
  2441. >Okay, time to get started.
  2442. >You use your arms to grab some components and try to recall the order in which they were put together in the first run via "muscle memory".
  2443. >The first few vital parts of the machine are obvious, like the wheeled frame and the computer core.
  2444. >And the assembly is not much of a challenge either.
  2445. >A little bit more delicate than cutting ice out of rock, but your previous exercises help you tremendously in this situation, because you already know for yourself how these tools react to your instructions.
  2446. >The correct order is also relatively easy.
  2447. >However, #deca.mare has to correct you in some minor details concerning the alignment of the tools, since a precise calibration is essential for their operation.
  2448. >But despite these few little hiccups, the drone looks just as good as the first one upon completion.
  2449. >Still enough parts left, and you are on a roll.
  2450. "Another?"
  2451. >"If you feel up to it, go ahead."
  2452. >You do indeed fell up to the task.
  2453. >This time you pay much more attention to the details, not only the general design behind it.
  2454. >You even alter your HUD with an additional window to check on the angles of the tools you install.
  2459. >Everything takes a little longer than before, but you are not in a hurry.
  2460. >At last, the drone is fully assembled and undistinguishable from its two twins.
  2461. >#deca.mare did not have to intervene this time.
  2462. >You try to estimate the time it took to assemble this machine.
  2463. >Hard to say without a clock, but you guess it could not have been much more than an hour.
  2464. >Now you personally understand what #deca.mare meant when she was talking about exponential growth.
  2465. >These three alone can gather enough resources for three additional units, probably within a day under good conditions.
  2466. >And these six then enough for six more.
  2467. >Then there are twelve.
  2468. >And so on, again and again.
  2469. >Up to a point where you have basically seized the planet.
  2470. >"Looking good so far. I have taken the liberty to implement the instructions into the cores while you were busy with your third assembly."
  2471. "Okay, I'm ready for the test run."
  2472. >And you add something else, just a second later.
  2473. "Oh, and please try to explain to me what you're doing. I know you said these things are complex, but at least give me a chance."
  2474. >"Of course, Anon."
  2475. >#deca.mare grants you your wish as she commences testing the drones, and adding minor readjustments to their properties.
  2476. >The drone's limbs and wheels occasionally move during her test.
  2477. >The basic things which #deca.mare tells you are fairly clear, like the overall purpose of the test and her experiments.
  2478. >She has to make sure that the automatons are calibrated to the maximum of possible precision, given the vital duties they shall perform.
  2479. >And she guarantees you that they are practically foolproof after this intense procedure.
  2480. >From what you have seen so far, including the terraformed worlds still populated by humans, her promises hold true.
  2481. >Not that you want to object her, but you have to remain objective in this regard.
  2486. >Then she proceeds with the details, and this is where your mind phases out.
  2487. >But #deca.mare keeps going in the hope you might catch and understand a few glimpses now and then, yet to no avail.
  2488. >You realise she does not even make it hard on purpose.
  2489. >Quite the opposite, she tries to make it as simple as she can, but her craft remains hard and complex, no matter how you phrase it.
  2490. >Well, this had to happen at some point.
  2491. >Once done with the functionality test of the hardware, #deca.mare runs yet another software check.
  2492. >A virtual list appears in your vision, depicting and endless maze of code.
  2493. >She gives you a fully transparent overview of her work.
  2494. >But these lines could be written in glyphs as far as your coding skills are concerned.
  2495. >Plus, the speed in which the lines rush over the screen is far beyond anything a human brain can handle.
  2496. >So for all her good intentions, it remains a moot point.
  2497. >Though you could technically ask, or even demand of her to explain every single line to you until you understand.
  2498. >But you trust her expertise.
  2499. >And such an endeavour could take who knows how long.
  2500. >Weeks, months, years?
  2501. >No, this is not feasible.
  2502. >The list disappears automatically; #deca.mare is apparently done with this test as well.
  2503. >The three drones remain still, idling.
  2504. >"They are on standby. No point to activate them up here."
  2505. >Makes sense.
  2506. "Which brings us to point two on our agenda, I reckon."
  2507. >"Indeed. Prepare to return to the command deck, Anon."
  2508. >The world blurs out as usual.
  2509. >It is time to make Equestria appear on the star charts.
  2514. 45
  2516. >Vast charts spread out before your very eyes.
  2517. >The uncountable number of systems and stars have lost nothing of their fascination.
  2518. >But with it comes also a nigh endless number of potential candidates.
  2519. "So, which one is it going to be?"
  2520. >#deca.mare taps a forehoof on the chair cushions in thought.
  2521. >"We have multiple options, but all of them come with challenges."
  2522. "What kind of exactly?"
  2523. >"As I have stated, we want to create a very distinct geographical form, so this will be the biggest problem. It is something we were barely supposed to do before, and never to such an enormous extent."
  2524. >You quickly realise this last "we" does not include you.
  2525. >"The main issue is as follows: We either choose a planet which is almost like Earth in terms of quality, but comes with suboptimal geographical base conditions, or we pick a planet which is already relatively similar to the landscapes we have in mind. However, the candidates of the latter category are undoubtedly the minority. Plus, all of those come with a few other shortcomings. Then again, if we prefer the first option, we have a greater selection, but are forced to put more work into the reshaping process."
  2526. >#deca.mare looks at you with an expectant look.
  2527. >She wants your opinion on the matter.
  2528. >Okay, think.
  2529. >There has to be something you can contribute to this.
  2530. >Ah, that is good.
  2531. "So the first option means more initial work, but better permanent conditions in the long run. And option two is the exact opposite, right?"
  2532. >"Hmhm. Aptly put, Anon."
  2533. "Then I'd say we take the first option. We must take the far future into account, so we can't afford any cheapskate loopholes this early on."
  2534. >#deca.mare nods in approval.
  2535. >"I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment."
  2540. >Somehow you feel like you are being tested by #deca.mare.
  2541. >She is fine with your decision, no doubt about that, but what might have happened if you had picked the alternative?
  2542. >You shake your head.
  2543. >These thoughts lead nowhere.
  2544. >Try to get through this with a smidge of common sense and you should be golden.
  2545. >Apropos golden, there is a golden circle on the map which might be worthy of your attention.
  2546. >You order the map to zoom in on the planet you asked #deca.mare to bookmark.
  2547. "What about this one? It looked fairly well from what I have seen."
  2548. >"Yes, it does, generally speaking."
  2549. >Her tone tells you everything.
  2550. "But?"
  2551. >"The planet itself is not the problem, Anon. The star in the system is. Because it has a tendency to radiate quite violently on occasion. These outbursts do not happen often, approximately every three hundred and fifty years on average, but it affects most planets in the system, including the one we visited."
  2552. "Does it make the planet uninhabitable?"
  2553. >"Well, not on principle, but life on the surface can be very inconvenient for a few months."
  2554. "So it's off the table."
  2555. >"For our purposes, yes."
  2556. >There goes your friendly gesture.
  2557. >Bummer, but oh well.
  2558. >You wave your hand in a dismissive manner.
  2559. "Nothing we can do about it right now."
  2560. >You remove the bookmark on the map and collect your thoughts.
  2561. "Okay, any ideas for an alternative? Knowing you, I assume you have already made a preselection of sorts."
  2562. >"Indeed. Give me a second."
  2563. >#deca.mare adjusts the vision on the main screen.
  2564. >It zooms out again and depicts and altered version of the star chart.
  2569. >The symbols have changed.
  2570. >Most of the previous details are now greyed out.
  2571. >Like stars, nebulae, and other cosmic phenomena.
  2572. >The only objects that remain highlighted are planets with a certain set of inherent, almost Earth-like characteristics.
  2573. >A small "portrait" of each candidate is shown next to its bright spot, since the actual body is too small to be seen on a map that encompasses multiple sectors.
  2574. >These are further coded with a classical set of colouration; green, yellow, and red.
  2575. >The colours reflect the quality of the individual planets in terms of relevance to your plan.
  2576. >At least that is what you assume.
  2577. >However, the colouration is not limited to just these categories.
  2578. >It is a gradual colouration, which means there are also subtle shades between these three.
  2579. >The scale of the map is considerable as well; it reaches far out in every direction from the point where you currently reside, including the graveyard that is the former terran space, and beyond.
  2580. >Some worlds are further marked with hazard symbols which describe factors that do not affect the planet in question permanently, but which are likely to put potential settlers at risk at some point in the future.
  2581. >The most common ones are events like cosmic impacts or high exposure to radiation.
  2582. >And your former favourite is also adorned with a friendly little radiation hazard symbol.
  2583. >You scowl at that for a second.
  2584. >But there is no reason to get upset about it.
  2585. >You could theoretically solve this and any problem with a little bit of extra effort, but there are enough planets where you can produce better results with less work.
  2586. >And since this is in all due likelihood the most complex operation in recorded history, you should not make it any harder than it already is.
  2591. >One hazard however, is not like the others, and it affects a considerable number of green candidates, especially in one certain area.
  2592. >Because these worlds are located within, or very close to the graveyard.
  2593. >You understand the message immediately.
  2594. >Danger.
  2595. >The proximity to still populated worlds bears the risk of discovery.
  2596. >You take a moment to imagine what would happen if your project gets exposed.
  2597. >Nothing good, you conclude.
  2598. >Especially when the authorities find out who is running it.
  2599. >No chance of survival.
  2600. >The bad blood is still far too thick yet, even centuries later.
  2601. >But you also understand the second hidden warning in that symbol.
  2602. >Because you have witnessed how #deca.mare reacts to returning there.
  2603. >Her breakdown near New Green Meadows comes to your mind.
  2604. >These planets are therefore all out of the question.
  2605. >Change the topic, Anon.
  2606. >Do not give her the chance to think about that again.
  2607. "Okay, how shall we proceed now? We have a list, but me must agree on one specific planet to start."
  2608. >"I suggest a process of elimination. We filter all the planets with glaring flaws and see what is left."
  2609. >A reasonable idea, but isn't that what she has already done?
  2610. "Guess red and yellow planets are out. They don't look that inviting anyway."
  2611. >#deca.mare smiles.
  2612. >"I think you have a wrong impression about the colours and what they stand for. The planets on the list are all more or less equally suitable for life in general, but not necessarily a good choice for future Equestria regardless."
  2613. >The map zooms in on a planet marked with a deep red hue.
  2614. >"Take this one for example."
  2615. >You check the sensor data.
  2616. >Decent atmosphere density, iced water and oxygen are present, gravity within acceptable norms, and a stable trajectory.
  2617. >Resource scan.
  2618. >Also green.
  2619. "This looks okay, where is the problem?"
  2620. >"Take a step back."
  2621. >You zoom out to see the planet and its direct vicinity.
  2622. >Ah, there it is.
  2627. >The planet has no natural satellite.
  2628. >No moon, no celestial diarchy.
  2629. >Therefore not suitable for you, unless you find a spare moon somewhere else.
  2630. >Silliness aside, that one is out.
  2631. "I get the point. What about the yellow ones?"
  2632. >#deca.mare readjusts the chart to focus on another planet.
  2633. >Rather similar to the first, plus stable moon.
  2634. >Though you see why this one is also a rather tricky case.
  2635. >The problem is the surface.
  2636. >It is abnormally ragged due to heavy tectonic activities in the past.
  2637. >And while it has apparently lost a fair bit of its volatile nature over millions of years, stronger quakes can still rock the surface.
  2638. >You would have to tackle that, reshape the entire surface and probably also the tectonic plates below to make it look even remotely similar to the Equestria you have seen.
  2639. >Possible and doable in theory, but you figure that an operation of this magnitude takes way longer than four months to accomplish.
  2640. "Yeah, let's stick to the green ones without any additional hazards."
  2641. >A quick glance on the map reveals to you that this simple choice alone has roughly eliminated four fifths of all the potential targets, if not a little more.
  2642. >So now that this is done, how to proceed?
  2643. >#deca.mare has anticipated that thought of yours.
  2644. >"The best way I can think of is a direct comparison. I suggest each of us goes through the list of available choices separately to pick a few favourites, and then we compare and discuss our results."
  2645. >Translation: You go through that list and pick yours; nothing can convince you that #deca.mare has not done this beforehand.
  2646. >Right?
  2647. >Or is it possible that she never dared to venture past the stage of classifying planets?
  2648. >Because she never reached the point to convince herself to actually pull this off?
  2649. >Maybe she simply wants to re-evaluate her options, now that her situation has changed?
  2654. >Should you ask her?
  2655. >No, just get on with it.
  2656. >#deca.mare values your opinions after all.
  2657. >Perhaps you can make her aware of things she did not think about up to this point.
  2658. >And even if that is not the case, the planets that are still left at display are all almost ideal for your purpose.
  2659. >Or at least as close to an ideal subject as you can find in the natural universe.
  2660. "Alright. Give me the list."
  2661. >#deca.mare materialises a smaller floating screen right before you.
  2662. >It is large enough to show you a planet's portrait in the middle, which is further accompanied by small lines of text on each side.
  2663. >Said text gives you the basic pieces of information you look for in any case.
  2664. >A good start, yet not enough for a definite decision.
  2665. >"The console is interactive. You can request any additional intel we have to make an informed decision. Once you have made up your mind, the screen will show you the next target on the list. And you can of course always go back to revoke decisions you wish to reconsider. Oh, and it can also provide you with an overview if you need it."
  2666. >In short, everything a console needs.
  2667. >#deca.mare materialises another screen for herself.
  2668. >She does apparently really want to evaluate her choices.
  2669. >Though that also means she does not have to wait only for you to make yours.
  2670. >Not the entire time, anyway.
  2671. >Though she will be undoubtedly faster than you.
  2672. >And of course, she is aware of your inner monologue.
  2673. >"Please, take your time, Anon. We gain nothing from rushing things. In fact, I go as far to say we may even lose something if we do. This stage is far too important for our future to allow carelessness."
  2674. >She smiles and strokes your upper leg with a hoof.
  2675. >"No need to worry about me. I have endured a long time before we got to this point. A few hours more will mean nothing to me."
  2680. >#deca.mare is obviously trying to take the pressure from you.
  2681. >You give her a confirming nod.
  2682. >She tends to her own screen, you follow suit and study the first planet.
  2683. >A decent world, judging from your first impression.
  2684. >General properties are good, estimated resources based on previous scans are also promising, moon and stable star are present as well.
  2685. >According to these facts alone, the planet seems like the ideal choice.
  2686. >Yet you assume this will apply for any of those, so that does say much on its own.
  2687. >You need more to get any further.
  2688. >You mentally ask if #deca.mare has run simulations concerning the surface structure, and what they have to do to reach their goal.
  2689. >She has.
  2690. >The screen is showing you the answer to your question by complying to your request.
  2691. >It begins to illustrate a simplified outline of the current surface.
  2692. >Really, you are not sure who answered you there.
  2693. >Was it an automaton or #deca.mare herself?
  2694. >You feel a gentle tip on your leg.
  2695. >Probably the latter then.
  2696. >Though you interpret her wordless reply as a sign to focus on something else for the time being.
  2697. >You concentrate on the map.
  2698. >A short text message is located below the image.
  2699. >Play simulation: Yes/No?
  2700. >Yes.
  2701. >The lines on the screen begin to wander slowly.
  2702. >A counter appears beside the image, depicting the estimated time it takes to reach the state you see.
  2703. >Now you understand what these lines stand for.
  2704. >These are the borders of individual future surface biomes and oceans.
  2705. >It was not obvious to you in the beginning, since the geography was not akin to anything you are used to see on populated worlds, but the imagery gets more and more familiar as the simulated time frame passes on.
  2710. >Okay, you need a reference point for your work.
  2711. >You request a map of Equestria and how it looks like during the time of the show.
  2712. >The demanded image appears on another screen on the left side of the ongoing simulation.
  2713. >And just as expected, the lines within the simulation begin to align with the geographical borders of the actual map.
  2714. >This process continues undisturbed until the simulation has concluded its projection.
  2715. >The lines are almost identical at the end.
  2716. >Everything fits perfectly with the exception of a few minor details.
  2717. >And these are really redundant in the grand scheme of things; a few coastlines that are a handful of kilometres off, a slightly different topography in a few mountain ranges, and so on.
  2718. >Nothing critical when it comes to life on the planet as a whole.
  2719. >And also nothing which has a monumental impact on the development of Equestrian civilisation.
  2720. >The overall result would be acceptable though; #deca.mare herself called it an impossibility to keep it one hundred percent accurate.
  2721. >Other obvious factors do also play their part in this.
  2722. >Because no matter how many similarities these worlds possess, they remain unique at the end of the day.
  2723. >And these unique features will affect the outcome, as small as they might first appear.
  2724. >Canterlot comes to your mind.
  2725. >This city is the perfect example due to its very characteristic architecture.
  2726. >A monumental super-structure out of polished light marble attached to the side of a mountain.
  2727. >The weight of this place alone must be gargantuan.
  2728. >And therefore its strain on the rock it mounts.
  2729. >For cases like this, even a minimal difference in gravity, say five percent, would mean a significant shift for the static of the place.
  2730. >It may even decide whether the construction of this is possible at all.
  2731. >Now that you think about it, could such a thing exist on Earth?
  2732. >Anyway, this is one of the things to look out for.
  2737. >Right, you can work with that.
  2738. >Maybe you will find even more points as you sift through the overview.
  2739. >Especially things that may affect the creation process itself are on your list now.
  2740. >You instruct the automaton to rerun the simulation from the start.
  2741. >You have a rough idea what to look out for.
  2742. >This time you pay more attention to the details and why certain things happen and what could be their cause.
  2743. >And you materialise a third screen on the right side to make notes while you are watching the spectacle.
  2744. >Once you are satisfied with the information you have gathered, you order the automaton to show the next candidate on the central screen.
  2745. >But not without bookmarking the first one for now; you cannot make a decision without a proper comparison.
  2746. >So you go through the list from here with the approach you have just developed.
  2747. >For each new candidate, you briefly check the general stats, study the current state of the surface, watch the simulation several times, and judge the final result in reference to your previous findings.
  2748. >The basic methodology behind this is surprisingly trivial if one cuts out all the complicated technicalities behind it.
  2749. >You do not need a vast computer mind to understand the correlation of cause and effect.
  2750. >What started out as your experimental concept, proves to be an efficient tool.
  2751. >By the time you develop a routine, you almost go through that list as if it were a casual stroll in the park.
  2752. >You are fully engrossed in your work; the three screens around your visual field functions as the perfect distraction blocker.
  2753. >And #deca.mare does not interrupt you even once.
  2754. >At the end, you pick five favourites out of the entire list.
  2755. >The first one you have inspected is not amongst them.
  2756. >You shove your displays aside and look over to #deca.mare.
  2757. >She is looking back.
  2758. "I assume you made you choice?"
  2759. >She nods.
  2760. >"Yes, Anon."
  2761. "Good. So do I."
  2766. >#deca.mare points one hoof at the main screen.
  2767. >It has turned completely dark, with the exception of a vertical line in the centre that divides the display into two halves of equal size.
  2768. >You get her intention soon enough.
  2769. >Five worlds appear on the left half.
  2770. >The screen is spacious enough to illustrate each portrait plus the relevant information texts at the same time.
  2771. >You recognise three out of those five as your own favourites, the other two are worlds you have discarded.
  2772. >"These are mine. Would you like to add yours?"
  2773. "Sure."
  2774. >You order the screen to fill the other half of the screen with your roster.
  2775. >Your list appears in the same fashion as #deca.mare's.
  2776. >And the system thinks ahead.
  2777. >It has noticed the three duplicate entries and has placed them next to each other for a clear arrangement.
  2778. >Here you are now.
  2779. >The next decision is probably the most important one you will ever make in your life.
  2780. >Choose carefully.
  2781. >At least you are not as bad at it as you have expected.
  2782. >After all, your choices show a sixty percent matching quota in direct comparison to #deca.mare.
  2783. >This looks rather promising.
  2784. >You see #deca.mare studying your choice, so you should do the same.
  2785. >Especially the two candidates which diverge from your selection.
  2786. >Decent worlds, sure, yet something about these planets did not resonate well with you for a reason you cannot express in words.
  2787. >More precisely the way how they had to be reshaped was not to your liking; it seemed... inelegant in your opinion.
  2788. >#deca.mare raises her voice.
  2793. >"A solid lineup, all things considered."
  2794. "But? You did not pick two of them for a reason. Why did you not consider these two?
  2795. >#deca.mare clears her throat.
  2796. >"Well, to be frank, it was for the exact same reason why you included them."
  2797. >Ouch.
  2798. >#deca.mare sets the screen to highlight the two planetary bodies in question.
  2799. >"As far as I have gathered from your work, you liked these because of their reduced gravity and how this would ease construction work, correct?"
  2800. "Pretty much, yes. Since they are already in the category of optimal candidates, I figured the lower gravity could be beneficial for us."
  2801. >#deca.mare nods in approval.
  2802. >"I see your reasoning, Anon. And your points are valid. Yet I personally dislike these planets because their comparatively low mass means the planetary atmosphere is more prone to cosmic events."
  2803. >Understandable argument.
  2804. >A planet needs a certain mass to hold an atmosphere with a decent density.
  2805. "But you classified them as ideal in the preselection."
  2806. >"I did. And they are good choices, partly for the reasons you stated. However, no immediate signs for any risks does not mean that some could not occur in the future. It is unlikely, but you never know for sure. Space is vast, and something could always seep through the cracks."
  2807. >You wonder what could get past #deca.mare's sensors, but you cannot think of anything.
  2808. >Yet she is right on principle.
  2809. "So it's better to take a world with the least inherent weaknesses, even if we can iron them out."
  2810. >"Precisely. But to be fair, there could be scenarios where the exact opposite might be a better option. There is no ultimate answer to that question."
  2811. >You chuckle.
  2812. "Sounds like one great game of mutual guesswork to me."
  2813. >#deca.mare tilts her head.
  2814. "Yes, I know it's a serious issue, though I fear we could debate forever without a clear result."
  2815. >"But it is necessary. And I am convinced we can do it."
  2820. >#deca.mare looks at the screen with the notes you took.
  2821. >"Let us turn this around. I told you my thoughts on your choice, now tell me what you think of mine. Please, do not hold back. I am interested in your ideas."
  2822. >So she wants you to present your case yourself, despite the fact that she is probably fully aware of them already.
  2823. >But maybe it is said presentation which makes the difference.
  2824. >You clear your throat and try to come up with an at least somewhat professional formulation.
  2825. "Okay, let me put it like this: It wasn't the planets' own stats that made me dislike them. The terrforming process itself did."
  2826. >Her ears perk up.
  2827. >"Oh? How so?"
  2828. >Now comes the hard part.
  2829. "Because the process looks... not wrong, but bumpy. Some of the outlines need pretty hefty shifting to be set into place. And while I assume it does not pose a problem to accomplish this..."
  2830. >You look at #deca.mare.
  2831. >She shakes her head.
  2832. >"It does not."
  2833. "... it leaves us with a very large area which is kept into place with highly artificial means. And which has to be kept in place through said artificial means."
  2834. >"This is something we have to do on practically every possible world, Anon."
  2835. "I know, but these two require the largest effort in that regard."
  2836. >"True."
  2837. >You float your note pad over to her.
  2838. >The notes and thoughts you have scrambled on it do not seem actually sorted to an outsider.
  2839. >But you guess #deca.mare understands it just the same.
  2840. "Here's the thing: The problem I have with this is neither the shifting itself nor the effort behind it. It is the complex machinery that worries me. You said it will not fail on its own, and I fully believe your judgement."
  2841. >"Yes, but?"
  2846. "But I asked myself whether this is really necessary. That compound must be so complex that I can't imagine what we would have to do if something unforeseen happens which could force us to revamp our plans. That would become a logistical nightmare. I'd say it's easier to stick to simpler designs if possible. And we have plenty of alternate options."
  2847. >#deca.mare laughs.
  2848. "What's so funny?"
  2849. >"Anon, did you see what just happened?"
  2850. "Uhm, no?"
  2851. >"We had the same thought process. We both pondered the question what could catch us by surprise and affect our plans. Even if we did not come to wholly identical solutions, our ways of reasoning were not that far apart."
  2852. >You think about her observation for a second.
  2853. >She is right, you works show striking similarities, despite the obvious difference in skill.
  2854. >And this time you did this without any external help from her data.
  2855. >#deca.mare was right to suggest an independent initial selection.
  2856. >Because now you two see where you stand,
  2857. >Or rather, now you can somewhat see where you stand in reference to #deca.mare.
  2858. >Seems like you can be useful to her and the practical part of the project after all.
  2859. >Perhaps even enough to actively partake in the shaping process on your own.
  2860. >Well, time to find that out.
  2861. "Hey, #deca. I have an idea."
  2862. >"I am all ears, Anon."
  2863. "I'd say we forget these four planets and focus on the three we both liked. That way we can make a mutual informed decision and evaluate our personal doubts together. How about that?"
  2864. >"Sounds like a good plan."
  2865. >#deca.mare shifts a little closer.
  2866. >You pull her to you with one arm and move the display with your notes between you two, and set it to show only the notes you made of the three worlds in question.
  2871. >You proceed by discussing your choice in turns.
  2872. >Each brings up one point and explains why said point is important to consider, then the other gives a feedback to it.
  2873. >Once this is done, you go over to the next point.
  2874. >You two keep some version of a score board on another screen.
  2875. >Said score depicts in which category you would classify what candidate and why.
  2876. >The whole ordeal goes back and forth for every detail of every potential target.
  2877. >It is a constructive debate, and you do not feel inferior to #deca.mare in any way.
  2878. >She takes your remarks to heart and gives you an honest comment back.
  2879. >Granted, there are a few occasions where she has to correct you in a few minor details, but these little bumps are far from sufficient to derail the discussion.
  2880. >In the end you have a final score with a clear winner.
  2881. >The margin between each is not overwhelmingly large, but one planet remains ahead in the statistics.
  2882. >And the winner goes currently by the name of planet 4 of star sector 891, at least in accordance to terran standards.
  2883. >Not a ceremonial name, but it was never given any other designation since it is way too far away for human colonisation, especially in humanity's current technological state.
  2884. >The planet is rather cold and barren at the moment, but therein lies its strength.
  2885. >Large swathes of land are coated in a compact layer of ice.
  2886. >Ice you can use to form lakes, rivers, and even oceans.
  2887. >All you have to do is heat the planetary body just a little on a global scale.
  2888. >The rest happens almost on its own.
  2889. >Plus, it has something of a poetic beauty.
  2890. >Because Equestria will now actually be born out of ice, just like it does in the play.
  2891. >And luckily for you, your spearhead is nevertheless not required to drill through massive ice caps to get the process started.
  2896. >No.
  2897. >Two thirds of the world may be frozen solid, but the area around the equatorial line is mildly temperate. Lots of plains and a few mountain ranges.
  2898. >Perfect both for construction work, and for harvesting raw materials in relative close proximity.
  2899. >And once the forward base is established, it can send out units which will start the heating process in the arctic biomes, while the main complex is busy drilling further and further.
  2900. >That way you can work at multiple areas at once.
  2901. >#deca.mare projects an image of S891P04 on the main screen.
  2902. >You dissolve all the other consoles and look at it too.
  2903. "So, this one is it then."
  2904. >"Hmhm. Our future home."
  2905. >You let that sink in.
  2906. >For minutes on end, you just sit there together and watch as the three dimensional image spins slowly around its own axis.
  2907. >The moment is too precious for casual remarks.
  2908. >And it is #deca.mare who breaks the silence.
  2909. >"The course is set. Are we ready to go?"
  2910. "Wait. How about a ceremonial act?"
  2911. >"Anon?"
  2912. >You gently grab #deca.mare's forehoof with a hand.
  2913. "Let us give the departure command together. It is our mutual life and decision. None of us should do it alone."
  2914. >#deca.mare nods in agreement.
  2915. >She materialises another console in the air.
  2916. >It features nothing but one large button with only one line of text on it.
  2917. >Activate jumpdrive.
  2918. >You understand her idea and let go of her hoof.
  2919. >#deca.mare holds the tip of her forehoof in the air right before the console.
  2920. >You raise your hand and hold it next to her limb, ready to touch the button with your palm.
  2921. "On three. Ready?"
  2922. >"Of course, Anon. One."
  2923. "Two."
  2924. "Three!" >"Three!"
  2925. >Your limbs dart forwards in unison.
  2926. >The console confirms your order and disappears.
  2927. >You embrace each other in a fierce hug as the status screens report a controlled influx of energy to the jumpdrive.
  2928. >And a few kisses may be shared as said influx reaches its peak to open a corridor in space that will lead you to your new home.
  2933. 46/1
  2935. Note: Just to stress it one more time: This will not become a TF fic. Anon learning how to use a pony body is simply a matter of utility, nothing more, nothing less. He will remain human from start to finish.
  2937. >You break your last kiss a few seconds after the first jump.
  2938. >There are several more required to reach your destination; the planet is far away from any colonised worlds you know.
  2939. >Your direct attention is not necessary at the moment.
  2940. >The navigation system can handle the procedure unless something highly extraordinary occurs during your travels.
  2941. >Plus, #deca.mare keeps an eye on the systems too.
  2942. >She may have slacked off a little last night, but only because of special circumstances and while you were resting at a safe spot.
  2943. >Now she is her old experienced and capable self again.
  2944. >You doubt that she could fall asleep anyway.
  2945. >The current events are more than just exciting for her.
  2946. >Understandably so.
  2947. >Her life is indeed jumping from one high to the next in a rapid pace in the last four days.
  2948. >You stretch your arms and yawn.
  2949. "Man, this has been tiring as hell. It was fun while we were at it, but now feel like I could fall out of the chair."
  2950. >#deca.mare closes all floating windows and sets the wall screens back to their default setting.
  2951. >"The fatigue is only mental, Anon. Your vitals are still fine."
  2952. >Yet you do not feel like it in your current state.
  2953. >"All you need is a little time off. Preferably outside."
  2954. >#deca.mare is probably right.
  2955. "Okay, what do you have in mind?"
  2956. >"Simple. Have you forgotten our schedule?"
  2957. "Oh, yeah. Let's see. Drone assembly, search for a planet, ah of course. It's time for our leisure activity."
  2958. >The opportunity to do something physical is a godsend.
  2959. >#deca.mare hops on your lap and faces you directly.
  2960. >That gets your full attention.
  2961. >"You said you have an idea?"
  2962. >The tip of her muzzle touches your nose.
  2963. "Yep. and it should be perfect for you. Follow me."
  2968. >You two head for the exit door, with you at the front.
  2969. >You already begin to mentally calibrate the simulation on the other side on your way.
  2970. >#deca.mare must notice your instructions to the automaton, but you cannot see her reaction to it.
  2971. >And she does not make any remark so far.
  2972. >Once there, you come to a halt and turn around.
  2973. "Okay, I took your comments to heart. We'll do something purely Equestrian this time. So, it's time to..."
  2974. >You order the door to open.
  2975. >It reveals a street somewhere in Ponyville.
  2976. >During the deepest winter.
  2977. "... wrap up winter!"
  2978. >You observe #deca.mare's reaction.
  2979. >It is not what you expected to see.
  2980. >She looks like she is pondering something.
  2981. "Something wrong?"
  2982. >"No, no. The idea is perfect."
  2983. >She smiles.
  2984. >"Maybe even better than you thought, Anon. Come!"
  2985. >And #deca.mare trots happily into the simulated snowscape.
  2986. >Unsure about what idea you could possibly have given her, you follow along.
  2987. >The door closes behind you and disappears.
  2988. >The air is fresh and cool, perfect after your latest work session.
  2989. >But you kept the temperature on a tolerable level; it is not as cold as a similar scene would be in real life.
  2990. >You know you cannot be affected by hypothermia in here, but you can still feel like you are freezing.
  2991. >Not something you really need.
  2992. >You look at the scenery before you.
  2993. >#deca.mare is already a few metres ahead, hopping through the snow-laden path.
  2994. >Her reactions remind you of her first contact with the water in the tub.
  2995. >She is clearly not used to this kind of sensual input.
  2996. >This does not hinder her significantly, yet a few of #deca.mare's jumps seem a bit clumsy.
  2997. >On one occasion, she almost fell over.
  2998. >But being a quadruped has its advantages, and recovering quickly from a misstep is one of them.
  3003. >You follow her tracks as she dashes onwards.
  3004. >She is not particularly fast, but you have to watch your step as well.
  3005. >You have no idea where she is heading at first.
  3006. >Partially because your orientation in Ponyville is not exactly astute, but also partially because you have no idea where exactly you ended up.
  3007. >Your instruction was simply to establish a direct connection to Ponyville during a winter scene.
  3008. >And so the system transferred you to the one of the town's main streets.
  3009. >Although the definition of main street has to be seen in the correct scale; said street is a simple well-used trail.
  3010. >Yet this is all a small town really needs.
  3011. >And getting deployed on a random simple road covered in snow does not stop #deca.mare.
  3012. >She knows the outline of every city and town by heart.
  3013. >And she apparently knows exactly where she wants to go.
  3014. >Through the streets, and around some corners.
  3015. >After a few turns here and there, you begin to hear the faint sound of splashing water.
  3016. >A stream must be nearby.
  3017. >One more turn, and you stand before a very familiar building, right in the centre of Ponyville.
  3018. >Town Hall.
  3019. >Well, you could have seen this coming.
  3020. >Even if there are no other ponies around to gather and coordinate, you need to stick to the script.
  3021. >#deca.mare turns around as you approach the clearance in front of the building.
  3022. >She has that smile again.
  3023. >Not the devious one, but the playful grin instead.
  3024. >Damn, what have you done this time?
  3025. >"Anon, you have created the perfect opportunity for both of us, thank you."
  3026. "Uhm, you're welcome. But what do you mean? The perfect opportunity for what?"
  3031. >"What do you think, my dear? Going local, of course."
  3032. >That does not sound like an intentional innuendo to you.
  3033. >Not this time.
  3034. >#deca.mare goes on.
  3035. >"Think about it, Anon. Are we supposed to clean the town like this?"
  3036. "Not the whole town, obviously. That's too much to ask. I thought we'd try a little bit of everything. There is enough to choose from."
  3037. >"Fair. But we are missing something even then."
  3038. >#deca.mare point a hoof upwards.
  3039. >"Somepony has to take care of the sky."
  3040. >She is right, you need a pegasus if you want to stay on script with this one.
  3041. >And someone in current company has conveniently chosen to become one, albeit on a temporary basis.
  3042. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
  3043. >"When if not now? We will not get a better opportunity to practice."
  3044. >You cannot argue against that.
  3045. >But the idea seems somewhat awkward to you.
  3046. >You take a long breath.
  3047. >Calm down, Anon.
  3048. >This is not a permanent thing.
  3049. >You will remain who you are.
  3050. "How long does it take?"
  3051. >"The simulated conversion? We can do it right here and now. I have prepared myself for this eventuality. And we can always undo it just as fast if it gets too inconvenient for you"
  3052. >You nod.
  3053. "Do it."
  3054. >#deca.mare sits down on her haunches.
  3055. >"Alright. Give me your hands and close your eyes. This will help to reduce the confusion."
  3056. >You kneel down before #deca.mare and reach out with your arms.
  3057. >She takes your hands with her hooves and looks at you.
  3058. >You hesitate for a second, then you close your eyes as advised.
  3059. >You can see nothing, but you can still register things with your other senses.
  3060. >Something happens somehow, but you cannot point out what it is.
  3061. >#deca.mare addresses you only five seconds later.
  3062. >"It is done. You can open your eyes. Slowly."
  3063. >You do as she asks.
  3064. >Your eyesight returns.
  3065. >You notice no difference at first, as your field of vision has not changed at all.
  3066. >But something is different.
  3071. >You feel like you are slightly bowing towards #deca.mare while she is still holding your limbs.
  3072. >You are no longer kneeling; you are standing.
  3073. >On the same height as #deca.mare.
  3074. >You are fully aware why this is case, yet your brain needs a moment to catch up with the proper realisation.
  3075. >"I will let go of you now, if you are ready."
  3076. >Despite the off feeling, you can respond to her easily.
  3077. "Yes."
  3078. >#deca.mare releases you.
  3079. >And gravity takes over promptly as you fail to keep your balance and faceplant yourself straight into the snow.
  3080. >You try to react, but every move you make is not very well coordinated.
  3081. >While this is by far neither the proudest nor the most convenient pose of your life, the fall makes you aware of a few things.
  3082. >Especially how this anatomy differs from the one you are used to.
  3083. >Nothing is missing or wrong per se, but everything feels somewhat misaligned.
  3084. >And something completely new stretches around your back and sides.
  3085. >"Anon!"
  3086. >#deca.mare's shout sounds more surprised than shocked.
  3087. >She grabs your upper body with her hooves and hoists you on her lap.
  3088. >You hold still for now as you lie on your side.
  3089. >"Are you feeling alright?"
  3090. >You clear your throat and shake your head to get the snow off before you answer.
  3091. >The movement feels different as well.
  3092. "Yeah, I guess. Just can't keep myself upright."
  3093. >"The signal translation via link looks fine, Anon. You should be able to commandeer the body just like you did with all the other units and systems."
  3094. >Theoretically yes, but reality seems to disagree with that notion.
  3095. "But I don't. This is completely different. The other system did not act like my real body. I felt something somehow, but I always knew that they were not a part of me."
  3096. >A hint of distress rings in your voice.
  3097. >#deca.mare holds you tighter.
  3098. >At least you are held safely in her grip.
  3099. >"And this one does?"
  3100. "Yes and no. That's the problem."
  3105. >You try to formulate your thoughts.
  3106. >Whenever you were 'outside' your own body before, your mind was always attached to a machine of sorts.
  3107. >You could resort to mental commands and consoles to get everything done.
  3108. >And displays of every type were available to you.
  3109. >But you have none of that here.
  3110. >You have to use it like your own body.
  3111. >You had no problem when you entered the simulation for the first time, given that the system enabled and encouraged you to create a realistic replica of your actual biological self.
  3112. >Yet this sudden change is just too much.
  3113. >Plus, you even have no idea how you look at the moment.
  3114. >"This should not be an issue, Anon. I have considered this when I designed this frame for you. It is an exact biological embodiment of an average pegasus stallion, minus an own consciousness."
  3115. "Including the cybernetic parts?"
  3116. >"Yes. Everything is set to be as realistic as possible. The frame is, biologically and genetically speaking, a pony."
  3117. >Like a living puppet then.
  3118. >Granted, a highly detailed one, but a puppet nonetheless.
  3119. >But it is better to have an own "away body".
  3120. >You would not want to visit Equestria if you had to assume the form of another pony, or worse, hijack the body of someone else.
  3121. >You try to move yourself again.
  3122. >Every part of the pony frame responds to you, but you fail to coordinate anything properly.
  3123. >The sensual input you get contradicts everything you are used to feel, despite the fact that the general notions are similar.
  3124. >"Hang on, I think I know the problem. Let me try something."
  3125. >You see a console appearing in front of #deca.mare's eyes, but you are in no condition to register what she is doing.
  3126. >Her eyes dart over it and you notice a gradual change.
  3127. >She dampens the neural stimuli you experience step by step.
  3128. >"Now try it again. Start with something simple like raising a hoof."
  3129. >You do just that.
  3130. >And it works.
  3136. >Yet you can barely feel it happening, as if you were partially numb.
  3137. >This does improve the performance, but it makes it seem unreal at the same time.
  3138. >You can see how you are stretching out 'your' limb.
  3139. >That, and something else.
  3140. >Your arm, or rather your foreleg, is covered in cloth, up to the very tip.
  3141. >The colours and patterns on the fabric resemble an USC pilot uniform; just faithfully adapted to pony anatomy.
  3142. >Clever.
  3143. >An elegant sidestep to avoid showing you features you could disagree with.
  3144. >"Well, I figured you would like to have a say in the matter how you will look later on, so this seemed like the best solution at the moment."
  3145. "True, but not helping when I can't even walk or stand. One leg isn't enough."
  3146. >"Right, about that. I have apparently underestimated the effect of the pony nervous system on your brain. I need to recalibrate the link to prevent a future overstrain."
  3147. "Huh, that's unusual for you, #deca. You're not the type to make grave mistakes."
  3148. >#deca.mare flinches at that.
  3149. >"Sorry. I have not anticipated that anomaly."
  3150. "Anomaly?"
  3151. >"The command system was not designed to allow users the control of foreign organic or partially organic subjects. This intention has never come up in the original project. And the complexity of the organism I have created makes it harder for you to control it if you experience the sensation unfiltered."
  3152. >You shudder.
  3153. "Good thing you found that out before we started populating the planet."
  3154. >"No, you misunderstand. Ponies will not have this problem as their consciousness is simultaneously located inside their bodies and the planet's system. They will be literally born to handle it just fine. Please do not take that as a personal insult, but you are the special case here.
  3155. >You sigh.
  3156. "This is turning into a running gag."
  3157. >"We will make this work. In fact, we can use this session to do this."
  3158. >Now you laugh.
  3163. "Manually altering a season while learning to walk and possibly even to fly? Sounds like a breeze."
  3164. >"Let me quote an old saying: 'Do not knock it before you tried it.' Please follow my instructions while I reset and adjust the basics."
  3165. "Okay, if you say so."
  3166. >You are not very confident this time, but you give it a chance.
  3167. >#deca.mare's first instructions are fairly trivial.
  3168. >They mostly consist of moving your limbs and head into certain directions.
  3169. >She is constantly keeping her gaze fixated on the console as you perform the requested exercises.
  3170. >Then she asks you to stand up, which gave you a hard time at first.
  3171. >Your instinct told you to stand up like you are used to, but you quickly realise that this does not work.
  3172. >Equestrian ponies may have more anatomical liberties than their terran counterparts, but they remain quadrupeds at the end of the day.
  3173. >So you roll yourself out of #deca.mare's lap, rest on your belly, and bring your limbs into position.
  3174. >Then you push yourself up with all fours.
  3175. >It is surprisingly easy.
  3176. >"See? Ten minutes into it and you can already stand."
  3177. >She chuckles quietly.
  3178. >"I bet it took you longer to learn that as a human."
  3179. >You grumble.
  3180. "Rub it in, will you?"
  3181. >#deca.mare has a talent to rile you up at the worst moments.
  3182. >But you cannot really be angry when she does it.
  3183. >Her enthusiasm is worryingly contagious.
  3184. >The next practice set of exercises involves walking.
  3185. >#deca.mare warms you up with a short lesson in prancing to get your coordination of front and hind legs right.
  3186. >The first steps are a little bumpy.
  3187. >But sill, you learn a decent and frequent pace fairly quickly.
  3188. >In fact, you learn that even faster than the previous steps.
  3189. >This is not a surprise to #deca.mare.
  3190. >She presumes the reason for that lies in your biological heritage.
  3195. >Because humans are, despite their bipedal nature, still inherently familiar with the concept of a diagonal walking sequence.
  3196. >After one or two minutes of casual prancing, you take your first steps.
  3197. >Careful and slow, but with a certain degree of determination.
  3198. >There is only the way forward.
  3199. >You begin by walking in a circle.
  3200. >One round, then a second, and a third.
  3201. >#deca.mare's attention is split between you and the console.
  3202. >"Looking good so far. Let me test how much I can get out for you."
  3203. >She intensifies your overall sensitivity in miniscule steps.
  3204. >In the meantime, you got a little more confident in your skills, and add winding lines and curves to your routine.
  3205. >Plus, you now walk with a higher speed.
  3206. >Your pace resembles a casual trot, almost like the ones you have seen on screen.
  3207. >Perhaps with less elegance than what an Equestrian native could muster, but decent for your first hour in a quadruped shape.
  3208. >And you can also feel how the numbness is slowly but surely receding.
  3209. >You begin to see and grasp the world around you a little bit like a pony would.
  3210. >However, you are fully aware that this will neither become a completely accurate representation, nor will you actually become a pony yourself.
  3211. >But this is alright.
  3212. >At least you get a unique insight right now.
  3213. >An insight which will help you tremendously to find a place in Equestria, and settle in whatever fashion you find best.
  3214. >You walk around on the street.
  3215. >Up and down, take one turn here, another corner over there.
  3216. >Yet you always stay relatively close to #deca.mare.
  3217. >You would not want to take another plunge into the snow with no one else nearby.
  3218. >To your luck, #deca.mare is following you around.
  3219. >She gives you all the leeway to experiment while she continues to adjust the parameters of your link.
  3220. >The little console is always floating next to her head.
  3221. >It really reminds you of Twilight in a certain way.
  3226. >Just without a horn and with a flying digital console instead of a scroll and quill.
  3227. >After another short while, you decide to run to see how well that works.
  3228. >You actually stumble a few times, but you can catch your fall after every blunder.
  3229. >Almost unbelievable how well you do after such a short time.
  3230. >You run, jump, and combine several different moves spontaneously.
  3231. >It is actually quite fun.
  3232. >"Anon?"
  3233. >You do not hear #deca.mare the first time.
  3234. >"Anon!"
  3235. >You come to a sudden halt and fall right back into the snow.
  3236. >At least it was your fault this time.
  3237. >You rise up again and shake the snow off before you answer.
  3238. "Yes, #deca.?"
  3239. >"I am done with the readjustments of your sensory input. How do you feel now?"
  3240. >You test your body on the spot.
  3241. >Nothing feels amiss after you have come to terms with the generally different anatomy.
  3242. "I don't think it will ever be my first choice, but I'll manage. No offence."
  3243. >"None taken. And you can move properly?"
  3244. "Yeah, feels natural enough for me."
  3245. >#deca.mare nods.
  3246. >"Good. I had to go to the limits of optimisation to accomplish this. I cannot do more without increasing the link intensity on a permanent basis. Frankly, I am surprised this was necessary after all my previous preparations."
  3247. "'Previous preparations'? What do you mean exactly?"
  3248. >"Well, it was necessary to streamline the neural input of the body to make it compatible to with your neural system in the first place. These changes affect eyesight, hearing, smelling, and so on."
  3249. "I see. I was wondering why I didn't notice any major differences in that regard."
  3250. >"And yet it was not enough."
  3251. >You put one of your forelegs on one of hers.
  3252. "Eh, don't sweat it. I think I got over the shock."
  3253. >You take another look around.
  3254. >Ponyville lies around you, still covered in clouds and snow.
  3259. 46/2
  3261. "You know, I think I'm not ready for flight yet, but how about some easier tasks to get started?"
  3262. >#deca.mare dematerialises the console next to her.
  3263. >"Hm, not a bad idea. Follow me."
  3264. >#deca.mare trots towards Town Hall.
  3265. >A scroll with a list of possible tasks is hung next to the main entrance.
  3266. >Aerial chores are out, so you are currently restricted to mundane physical work.
  3267. >You scour for something suitable in that list.
  3268. >Nothing too delicate would be perfect.
  3269. >That point looks fine.
  3270. >Ploughing fields.
  3271. >Sounds tough, but you are not confined to your usual physical limits in this body.
  3272. >A pony stallion, average as he might be in pony standards, is still much stronger than most, if not all humans.
  3273. "Let's start with this one, shall we?"
  3274. >"Sure. Off to the fields then."
  3275. >A few seconds in which nothing happens.
  3276. "Uhm, the fields are where exactly? I'm not that familiar with the map yet."
  3277. >#deca.mare looks at you and sticks her tongue out.
  3278. >"Find them. You know the rules, everything goes as long as it does not involve magic."
  3279. >So she wants to play with you again.
  3280. >This is probably another challenge.
  3281. >Okay, think.
  3282. >Using orders to the automaton would be cheating.
  3283. >And since you are not a unicorn, "regular" magic is not a thing either.
  3284. >Flight is theoretically possible, but good luck with that.
  3285. >There must be another way to solve this.
  3286. >What does the town look like from the perspectives you know?
  3287. >You search around for landmarks.
  3288. >Canterlot is a good point for orientation.
  3289. >The castle city lies to the north of Ponyville.
  3290. >And most of the fields lie on the south western borders of the town.
  3291. >Which means you have to move away from the mountain.
  3292. >Perfect, you can work with that.
  3293. >You turn to face the direction you assume must be south-west and get on your way.
  3294. >You can hear #deca.mare's steps in the snow.
  3295. >She is directly behind you.
  3300. >You follow the streets and lines of houses, and appreciate the architecture on your way.
  3301. >The structures are simple, primitive even from a technological point of view.
  3302. >And yet they are beautiful in their own right.
  3303. >Most are medium-sized houses, painted in bright colours.
  3304. >And not even one is like the others; they all have something in their features which makes them all unique.
  3305. >A nightmare for treasurers who prefer standardised, streamlined equipment and bases.
  3306. >But a paradise for those who love aesthetics and originality.
  3307. >Perfect for a mostly peaceful family life in a hearty community.
  3308. >Even the oddballs of the mix, like the tree library and the spa have a very special charm.
  3309. >Without a doubt a wonderful place to be.
  3310. >The idea to let this dream come to life gets more attractive with each day, you realise.
  3311. >You have the chance to bring a gem to this universe, so you must try your hardest to get things right.
  3312. >And this, as strange as it might sound, means that you currently have to plough some fields.
  3313. >You notice something as you trot along the road.
  3314. >The density of houses has decreased.
  3315. >Whereas the main streets are accompanied by plenty of houses on every side, the space between the houses here gets larger and larger as you walk.
  3316. >Said space is currently covered in snow.
  3317. >But you know from the show how it usually looks like outside the winter season.
  3318. >Wide patches of grass and countless flower beds sprawling everywhere, as far as the eye can see.
  3319. >And apropos things as far as the eye can see, you spot large rows of trees in the distance, stretching further beyond your line of sight.
  3320. >It is not a forest, as these trees look almost uniform and are planted in a highly regular fashion.
  3321. >You come to a stop.
  3322. >So you have reached the border of the farmland.
  3323. "Sweet Apple..."
  3324. >What was its name again?
  3325. >"...Acres. Ponyville's largest and most prominent farm."
  3326. >#deca.mare stands right next to you.
  3331. >Strange to see it like that.
  3332. >You have never visited it, but you still feel a certain connection to this place due to the stories you have seen.
  3333. >And you know ponies who live there, no, who will there as well.
  3334. >You imagine what it would be like to meet a pony like Applejack.
  3335. >In a casual incident on the street, just like that.
  3336. >And you realise you are currently very happy that it will take at least a millennium before you have a chance to speak with any of those ponies.
  3337. >Well, most of them.
  3338. >Because you would not find appropriate words to talk to them right now, especially when said pony could be the embodiment of honesty.
  3339. >What would you tell?
  3340. >A blatant lie?
  3341. >Out of the question.
  3342. >The truth?
  3343. >Yeah, right.
  3344. >But any half-hearted attempt to explain or evade the question is not likely to fly either.
  3345. >It seems that #deca.mare is not the only one who needs social training.
  3346. >While you are generally able to socialise at least to a degree that you do not stick out negatively in a group, you cannot use that same tactic in a pony society.
  3347. >Even moreso as said society is built around kinship and corporation.
  3348. >There are a lot of things you need to get in order before you can try that.
  3349. >But it should be doable.
  3350. >Unless you get forced to sing the lead in an impromptu song.
  3351. >That would make them give you the boot rather quickly.
  3352. >You chuckle as you resume your trot.
  3353. "Hey #deca, are there any fields nearby which are not full of apple trees? I'd like to make a test run on a simple field before I try an obstacle course with a ploughing wagon."
  3354. >"Yes, of course. Sweet Apple Acres is not the only farm, just the one with the best reputation. But make no mistake, the others produce quality wares as well. They simply do not happen to have a hero figure in the family."
  3355. "One of those then."
  3356. >#deca.mare points at an area in the direct vicinity to the apple farm.
  3357. >This field does not feature any trees.
  3362. >"The Carrot Farm is a good candidate then. Even fields, no obstacles, easy to cultivate."
  3363. >The two of you approach the carrot fields.
  3364. >Just like the rest of the terrain, the field is covered in snow.
  3365. >Two manual ploughing wagons are parked on one edge of the field.
  3366. >You have seen how this particular model was used in this particular situation in the show.
  3367. >At least you know what you are not supposed to do.
  3368. >Then again, you could not even cheat like Twilight did.
  3369. >Oh well, the principle is easy enough in theory.
  3370. >A roofed wagon with two large reinforced wheels, and a metal plough at its front.
  3371. >The construction is not designed for complex movements or agility, as it is meant to move snow out of the way in straight, orderly lines.
  3372. >The pony who controls this gadget steps right under the roof, stands between the wheel axis and the metal plough, and pushes the wagon with his or her own strength by pressing against a handle near the front.
  3373. >Primitive, but effective.
  3374. >And you do not even have to strap yourself into it like you would have to with some other wagons.
  3375. >This is a rather comfortable bonus for you.
  3376. >Because the idea to strap yourself, or to let #deca.mare strap you in a harness of sorts, is rather unorthodox in your eyes.
  3377. >Though you know you will have to deal with it some day, you rather let it play out in small steps.
  3378. >You hop into the vacant square of one plough and look over to the other.
  3379. >#deca.mare does exactly the same.
  3380. >She motions you to bring your plough into position.
  3381. >You nod.
  3382. >With one breath, you walk and push your chest against the wagon, albeit with caution.
  3383. >You can feel the pressure of the handle through the uniform, yet it does not hurt or feel overly inconvenient in any other way.
  3384. >Your muscles and bones can handle it with ease.
  3385. >#deca.mare's cybernetics will probably play their part too.
  3390. >The wheels of the wagon turn slowly in response to your push.
  3391. >A good start, but not fast enough, especially when the resistance of the amassing snow on the front end gets any stronger, as it inevitably will.
  3392. >You need to reach a certain speed, even without a magical speed enhancement.
  3393. >So