GREEN   2267   6
   88449 484.56 KB    5476

Equestrian rehab (Act 1, Part 1)

By Adjudicant
Created: 2021-07-16 21:31:33
Updated: 2024-02-09 09:34:21
Expiry: Never

  1. >The clang of rusted chains carried over languid mewls of pleasure and pain as you walked between the filthy iron cages. The few remaining occupants either: stewing in their own filth, bodies huddled into the corners of their prison; or were ravenously presenting themselves, desperate for a chance to be removed from this fetid hell.
  2. >A man who looked like he hadn’t showered in weeks walked alongside you, trying to upsell you on leashes and muzzles. Every now and then he pulled on a cigarette, a slimy smile plastered on his face as he worked his copper tongue.
  3. >”And here she is, Mister… Mous?” He stops at the the end of the room in front of a solitary cage. It’s a slightly larger one than the others in the room
  4. “Anon will do fine, thanks mate. How did she find her way into your-” you eye his filthy yellow latex gloves. Small splotches of blood had dried alongside other murky substances. “-capable hands?”
  5. >”Well, you know how it goes mate. I hear about some offer from the old grapevine. Y’know, one that's too good to be true. Pay out my fucking ears for some popular pony cunt who has the weirdos -- no offense by the way mate -- slobbering over her.” He stops to take another deep drag from his cigarette.
  6. >”She’s on some new fucking drug and is cleaned up for the inspection so she’s like a roofied slut on a friday night. And then she falls apart the moment she arrives. Cunt’s a royal pain in the ass.” He gestures with a hand at the cage you’ve stopped at.
  7.  
  8. “Falls apart?” You crouch down to look into the cage.
  9. >You spot her in the back, hiding in the shadows. She’s huddled in the corner, lying on a filthy rag that that’s too small, body visibly shaking as her frantic eyes lock onto you. Almost immediately the shaking stops as she stands up tall on too thin legs. You can confirm from her silhouette that you have the right pony, after all there weren’t that many with both wings and a horn.
  10. >Continuing towards you, she tries swaying her hips as she walks, but the act combined with her malnourishment only emphasises her janky hip bones. As she steps into the light, you quickly force a neutral expression on your face while you inwardly retch.
  11. >She’d tried to take on a sultry smile; but the pain in her purple bloodshot eyes, the filth in her mane and on her face, and the stain of dried blood around her muzzle just makes you feel sick.
  12. >She stops as she notices one of her wings is hanging limply by her side. She stops and looks at it, a brief panic sweeping across her face as she struggles to move it. After a few frantic jerks she manages to weakly tuck it into her side and lets out a sigh of relief.
  13. >“At the start --after I found out of course -- I tried selling her at a bit of a loss. But she’s too fucked in the head; and none of the dickheads who come checking her out are willing to put in that kind of cash for goods this damaged.” He seems to taken a few steps back to give you two space.
  14.  
  15. “Yeah, right. That’s fair enough…” you swallow heavily as you soak in the sight in front of you.
  16. >Her coat and mane are heavily matted. A slick film of filth caked into both, slicking them against her anorexic body. She’s mostly skin and bones, and a few splotches of dried blood stand out on her forelegs. As she reaches the bars of her cage, she looks up at you. Her trembling lips twisted into a forced smile, while her buggy eyes trace an outline of your head. You can tell she’s desperately trying to make eye contact, but something’s wrong.
  17. >You look over at the handler, a flood of questions on your mind. However, he only has a grim look on his face. A small gasp from the pony makes you look back quickly.
  18. >Your eyes briefly meet hers before she can look away. Tears begin building in the corners. Her voice starts coming out in short shuddering yelps and wails as she desperately tries to talk. She stamps a cracked hoof in frustration and recoils in pain.
  19. “Shhhh, easy girl...” You coo gently to her and reach out a hand to her.
  20. >”Careful with that hand mate, or you might lose it.” The owner takes a few steps towards the cage. You glance at him but pull your hand back.
  21. >You stand up to the pony’s immense displeasure as she lets out a frustrated whinny.
  22. “How in gods name did she wind up like this?”
  23. >She starts turning in the cage.
  24.  
  25. “And what the fu-” You gag as she presents her rear to you and starts swaying back and forth, her mangy tail raised and out of the way.
  26. >Feces and urine stain the fur running down to her hooves. Many sores and a few open cuts surround her swollen, puffy lips as her clit winks at you. She looks back at you and her face falls at your reaction. You watch on in horror as she slowly backs into the bars of the iron cage and starts grinding on them, her actions causing a murky liquid to run down their sides and begin pooling on the floor while she shamefully moans.
  27. >You turn to the handler, questions forming on the tip of tongue when the smell hits you. He must have known this was going to happen as he hands you a sick bag. You grab for it and deposit the contents of your stomach with a few painful retchs.
  28. “Christ almighty…” You wipe your mouth and pinch your nose. Feeling pricks of heat in your face as your anger builds at the situation, you look over at him. You’re almost at the point of yelling at him but stop yourself. His face is bent into a frown with what could be described as pity is written on it
  29. >”She wasn’t always this bad you know”. He stares at the deranged mare as she continues to stimulate herself. A pained mewling coming from her as she desperately tries to get herself off, her mind having forgotten about you. “It's the drugs that have made her this bad.”
  30. >You’re open your mouth but he pre-empts you.
  31.  
  32. >”It wasn’t me mate. You know this is the end of the line for them right?” You nod in response.
  33. >If they didn’t get sold here, it was on to hard labour camps. If they were in too bad a shape, too dysfunctional for any use; they would be sent on to meet a bitter end in a glue factory.
  34. >”I run this place to make money sure, but I’m not heartless mate. And a rehabilitated pony makes more money than the other solutions.”
  35. “So you didn’t-”
  36. >”She was already hooked on them when she arrived, and it took a few days for the withdrawal symptoms to show.” He lets out a long and tired sigh. “First she started screaming and banging on the bars until she was hurting herself. She still doesn’t eat much at the moment, but back then she would just refuse to touch anything I gave her that wouldn’t feed her habit. Not being mean, but I think she prefers being on them.”
  37. >The mare shudders, her hips rocking violently against the abrs as she finally stimulates herself to completion, a gush of fluid splattering near your feet. She crumples to the ground and begins lightly sobbing. You look over at him.
  38. >”I don’t think she can focus very well when she’s on them. Keeps her mind cloudy. And it seems like the pleasure is a nice distraction from her situation.”
  39. “You're telling me you actually look after her?”
  40.  
  41. >“I’m saying I do what I can mate. It takes all I’ve got to keep her from going over the edge. Even to the point of neglecting the others here! The rest of the poor bastards in this place aren’t usually in this state.”
  42. >You look around at the other cages. You had noticed they had looked filthy, but what you didn’t notice were the unoccupied ones were still relatively clean.
  43. >”I think who she is disheartens a lot of the others. Few of them tried to bite her through the cages. Its why she’s on her own back here.”
  44. >”She won’t let me wash or touch her, keeps trying to take a fucking bite out of me everytime. I reckon she’s scared it's the end of the line everytime I go to touch her.” The pony hasn’t moved from where she collapsed in front of you. Her body constantly trembling as she took gasping breaths.
  45. >You look over her once more before turning to the man.
  46. “You said you wanted twenty grand for her?” He avoids your gaze and scratches the back of his head.
  47. >”Look I know she’s in bad shape, I told you as much before she arrived. But with the amount I spent on purchasing and supporting her, I really need this or all the ponies here are moving on to another place. Wherever that may be...”
  48. >You look back at the cages again, a few of the inhabitants had started listening in on your conversation. You could tell from the looks on their faces that silent prayers were being uttered.
  49.  
  50. >You pinch the bridge of your nose as you mull it over. Money isn’t a question for you at this point, but the gears in your head start turning as you consider what you’ve seen today.
  51. ”Seventeen and a half-” The man voices his disagreement but you hold up your hand. “-with another seven and a half in two weeks if you get this place cleaned up and recommend a good vet I can take her to.”
  52. >He considers you carefully. Looking between you and the pony for a few moments before he lets out a deep sigh and offers his hand. You firmly clasp it, sealing the deal.
  53. “Thanks mate, but trust me; I’m good for it it.”
  54. >“You better be, or I might just as well have signed away the future of the rest of those poor mongrels. The name’s Mark by the way.”
  55. >He leads you into a back room where you can fill out the required paperwork and write him his cheque. As you sign where required, he disappears before re-emerging with a muzzle and a harness designed to restrain a pony during transport, only allowing small movement.
  56. >”I’ll get her ready for you. It should only take a few moments, but I’d like you to be there to keep her calm, mate.” He waves the fingers on his now gloveless, showing you bite marks that were bruising nicely.
  57. >You arrive back at the cage. The mare has retreated back into the shadows and has her head in her hoofs, her body visibly shaking again. Equine ears perk up as you approach, followed by her head as she hears the jingle of keys being pulled out of Mark’s pocket.
  58.  
  59. >Her head flits back and forth between you, drug addled mind struggling to understand what's going on. As her former handler unlocks the cage, she pushes herself further into the corner of the cage, chipped and cracked hooves desperately struggling to put distance between herself and Mark as he opens the cage door. He takes a crouching step inside, causing her to instantly shriek out.
  60. >”N-No! No! Please! NO! NO!!!!” She cries out, making Mark flinch back, clutching his hand to his chest.
  61. >You’re finally able to hear her speak proper words but it makes your stomach curl. Hearing such a pained and distressed voice layered with panic spurs you forward. You move Mark out of the way as you stride towards the broken pony.
  62. >”Hey wait, don-” Mark tries to warn you but you ignore him.
  63. >Her eyes are still locked on Mark. Her wails turning incoherent as she mindlessly flails in the corner. The smell of her and the cage intensifies, flooding your nostrils. You hold back any bile. She finally notices you at a metre away and goes dead still, pupils pinpricks as she holds her breath. Taking care to move very slowly, you steadily drop to your knees in front of her. Her chest heaves rapidly and you begin to worry she’ll start hyperventilating if you don’t do something.
  64. >She screams as you suddenly lunge forward, wrapping your arms around her shoulders. Her wings instantly shoot out and weakly flap against you. One hand goes to the back of her head as you pull it in alongside your own.
  65.  
  66. >You can feel the grime on her coat and your nose has already gone numb to the smell. She’s trying to push away from you, weak hooves striking daintily at your chest. You have her chin held securely on top of your shoulder with a hand so she can’t bite you.
  67. “Shhh, shhhh, it’s ok, it’s ok.” You whisper into her ear as she continues wailing.
  68. >While you console her gently, you idly take note that your clothes have probably been ruined by holding her filthy body against yours. Delicately stroking her barrel with your other hand you hold her close as she slowly winds down. Her struggling eventually ceases and her screams die down to whimpers as you continue to console her.
  69. “It’s ok girl, it's ok…”
  70. >You feel a dampness on your knees. Looking down you discover that she wet herself when you grabbed her. A few moments of silence pass between you as you wait for her to calm down.
  71. “My name’s Anon, would you like to tell me yours?”
  72. >You feel her tense up at the question and she lets out a sob before you react.
  73. “There there. It's alright if you don’t want to say it. But I do need you to answer another question for me.” You feel her body tense up. “You don’t have to say anything. I’m gonna let go of your head, and I want you to either shake or nod your head in response,is that alright?”
  74. >”Mmhmm.”
  75. “Good girl, I’m gonna let you up now.” Slowly you lower your hand and pull back your head. Her hooves are still pushing weakly against your chest, but she seems willing to cooperate.
  76.  
  77. >Still shaking slightly, her eyes lock with yours. You feel distraught just looking at how she is now, compared to what you’ve seen of her from images of the day Equestria surrendered several years ago. You flinch and look away. She notices and looks to the ground, where she realizes that she’s soiled herself. Her face painted with shame, she hangs her head lower and lower.
  78. ”Hey,” you gently grab her muzzle by the chin and point it back up at you. “I need you to focus on what I’m about to ask you. I want to make sure you properly understand what I’m saying to you.
  79. >She sighs and takes a few deep, shaky breaths. Her eyes flicker briefly from you to mark, and then back again. After a few moments her body stops trembling. She steadies herself for a few moments before looking you right in the eyes. You can see a clarity shining briefly through the drug addled haze of her mind and figure this is the best moment.
  80. ”My name’s Anon, and I was wondering if you’d like to be in my care?”
  81. >Her eyes go wide as once again tears well in their sockets. Her eyes are frantically searching yours, desperate to find something that confirms the meaning of what you just said.. You smile at her and place a hand on her cheek.
  82. “I don’t care how much trouble you might end up causing me, and I might not be the most capable person myself; but if you’re willing to come live with me, then I’ll try my best to make it a place you can call home.”
  83.  
  84. >You watch as her hard fought for composure crumbles in front of your eyes. A moment of relief sweeping her away as she collapses onto you, her forelegs move over your shoulders as she desperately pulls on your back. She tucks her head into your chest and starts crying. Not out of pain, nor out of sadness or shame.
  85. >You’d like to think, that for one fleeting moment, she had experienced some fleeting hope. You hold her close and start gently consoling her again.
  86. >After a few moments the sticky feeling of her coat makes you shift your body, breaking the magic. She slowly removes her head from your chest and looks at you.
  87. “Well, what do you think?” You hold a steady smile on your face.
  88. >“Mmhmm” Her face is haggard from all the crying she’s done.
  89. “What does mmhmm mean?” You ask teasingly.
  90. >“M-my n-names, C-c-cel-c-cele-” You can tell she’s struggling, so you just gently stroke her barrel and give her the time she needs. She hangs her head again and takes another ragged deep breath as she recovers from her emotional turbulence.
  91. >She noticeably calms, lifting her face once again to meet yours. She tucks her wings into her side and holds herself up as high as she can in her state. Your eyes go wide as for the first time you see a small smile adorning her face. Her current condition falls to the wayside as in this brief moment, you swear you can see a glimpse of the beautiful pony she once was.
  92. >My… My name is Cel… Celestia, and I would like to be in your c-c-care, Mr Anon.”
  93.  
  94. ===================================================================
  95.  
  96. “Atta girl. Atta girl.”
  97. >You leave your hands on her sides and face Mark. Your heart had risen. A small surge of confidence boosting your spirits before you notice his expression.
  98. “What?” He’s still slouched over near the door, holding his hand close to his chest.
  99. “What are you doing? I’ve got her calmed down mate. Come put the muzzle on her.” He just looks at you with tired eyes and shakes his head.
  100. >“Your...care...your...care…your care...your care...” You feel Celestia start moving as she repeats herself, her barrel slickly shifting in your grip. She pulls a hoof off your shoulder. Mark shakes his head again and chuckles at you. You frown at him and turn back to her.
  101. >”I told you she was fucked, mate.”
  102. >Celestia is still looking at you -- well more your body -- but something is different. Her small smile has stretched into a dopey grin. Nostrils flare as she takes in a deep breath before letting out a shuddering exhale. Her head is angled down as she stares through you with narrow eyes.
  103. >The remaining hoof on your shoulder starts pushing and pulling. Your gaze falls downward as you realize what she’s doing.
  104. “Oh no…”
  105. >“Your care… your care…” She repeats the mantra in a husky murmur. One hoof stroking gingerly against her winking clit.
  106. “Oh no, no, no… you poor thing.”
  107. >The estrus stricken mare is using your back as leverage to thrust her hips against her filthy appendage.
  108. >Small yelps and moans intermittently escape from her. You notice, with alarm, something you hadn’t been able to see until getting up close. The tell-tale signs of discoloration that indicate infection on the hoof she’s using to pleasure herself.
  109. “Celestia stop…” The mare’s ears flick at her name, folding back against her head. Her mouth slowly hangs open with her tongue lolling out.
  110. “Celestia please, I can’t let you do this…” Her chest starts heaving with strained panting.
  111.  
  112. >”Anon’s... care… Anon’s care… Anon’s...CARE!” Her eyes suddenly go wide, a crazed look taking over her face.
  113. >With one brisk movement, she pulls her free foreleg off of you before she thrusts her head down. Her muzzle continues until it collides roughly with your crotch. One hoof goes beneath her to support her weight while the other intensifies in pace; until it’s frantically rubbing back and forth as she starts snorting wildly, drowning in your scent.
  114. “Hey! Celestia! STOP!” You reach down and grab her chin with your right arm.
  115. >“Whoa careful, mate!” Mark speaks out as you try to pull her face away, but she snarls. She gives your arm a feral look before twisting her head out of your grip and biting it.
  116. “FUCKIN- NNGHH” You stop, letting out a low grunt as you tolerate the agony in your arm. “Celestia! Let go of me!”
  117. >She’s got a tight grip. Your arm isn’t budging from her mouth without more pain. You can hear Mark moving behind you.
  118. >”Christ, I knew this would fucking happen. Gimme a sec.” He starts stomping through the cage.
  119. >You hear the sound of a zipper followed by a switch and a clacking sound. You twist your head and see him holding out a Taser, the blue arc of electricity violently dancing between two metal nodes. You look back at the broken pony. With each step he gets closer, Celestia bites down harder. A small whimper escapes from the mouth clenched around your arm. Her pupils are pinpricks of fear as she eyes the vicious dancing light.
  120. “Wait, wait, wait!” You hold up your free hand in protest at Mark. He scowls at you, but halts his advance.
  121. >You look back down at Celestia. She stopped tending to herself the moment the device was pulled out. Now small tremors have begun rocking through her body as the scared whimpering grows.
  122.  
  123. “Put that shit away, cunt. You’re just making it worse. She’s fucking terrified.”
  124. >”Are you cooked, mate? She’s gone fucking feral on you! She’s trying to tear your arm off just so she can get her rocks off!”
  125. “Look, just… just give me a few moments.” He grunts, but ultimately takes a step back. You sigh in relief. “And put that fucking thing away, would you!”
  126. >“...Fine.” He takes another step back and sheaths the Taser in his pocket.
  127. >Like a spell being broken, Celestia stops shaking and her jaw loosens. She looks back down at your arm and her body jolts. Her gaze slowly drifts up to your face. Her eyes meet yours. You smile at her, but she just looks away in shame. You slowly move your left hand to her head and stroke her filthy mane.
  128. “Could you please let my arm go, girl?” She hesitates, flicking her eyes to Mark then back at you, before she gives a slight nod and opens her maw. Saliva forms thin strands between her mouth and your arm as she pulls her head back and closes her mouth.
  129. >You tenderly rub your arm. A bruise can be felt forming, and there’s some damaged skin that might start bleeding if you rub it too hard. But you’ve had worse. Celestia’s lips tremble as she stares at your arm, taking in what she’s done.
  130. >You close your eyes.
  131. >This is it. You can see clear as day how bad she’s doing on a physical level, and she just showed you how deep her mental problems go. Although getting her off the drugs will help her, there is going to be a lot of pain -- for both of you -- on the road to rehabilitation. Once you start down this path you won’t let yourself back down. So are you going forward with it?
  132. >You process everything you’ve seen today: the state she is in, the state this place is in, the worn out look on Mark’s face and his filthy gloves, your arm. Above all that though is the promise you made to her, and that image of the mare she could become again when she showed you that lovely smile.
  133.  
  134. >Gods damned fucking right you’re going to help this poor mare out!
  135. >You open your eyes and scratch Celestia’s ear. She looks up at you and cocks her head to the side. Pupils flicking back and forth over your face, trying to understand what you could be thinking.
  136. “Could you toss me that muzzle, Mark?”
  137. >He fumbles at a clip on his belt before tossing a leather muzzle at you. Catching it awkwardly in your left, you place it on the ground. Celestia’s eyes track it the entire way before returning to you.
  138. “Are you back with me again, Celestia?” She flinches at her name, though gives a short nod in response.
  139. “I want to get you home.” You begin, her un-tended to ear perking up.
  140. “And give you a bath, you smelly horse.” You flick her on the nose with your free hand.
  141. >She goes cross-eyed and scrunches her blood stained mouth. Even with the wretched state of her coat and mane, you can’t help but chuckle at her visage.
  142. “That’s payback for my arm.” She recovers and hangs her head in shame. You continue to scratch her ear.
  143. >”Y-you’re not gonna turn me i-into g-... into glue?” There is no doubt in her voice, but you know she needs to hear the answer from you.
  144. “Not in a million years.” She sighs and visibly relaxes. The tension leaving her body as she sits back on her hindquarters while steadying her breathing.
  145. >”Y-you’re going to take me home now?” You nod.
  146. “I told you I’d do my best to take care of you. You ain’t getting rid of me that easy, Celly.” She chuckles, though her eyes wander to the muzzle.
  147. >”I suppose you’ll be needing me to put that on?” You carefully grab the muzzle, holding it out in front of her so she can get a closer look.
  148. “This... And a restraining harness.” She flinches again. After a few brief moments of staring at the muzzle she nods. You and Mark both let out a sigh of relief.
  149.  
  150. “Mark, I’ll put the muzzle on her and bring her out of the cage. Could you go get the harness and meet us out the front?”
  151. >“Sure thing, boss.” Mark scurries out, leaving you two alone. You firmly grip the muzzle in both hands and hold it at her head height. She quickly leans down and drinks deeply from a bowl of water on the floor near her rag of a bed before bringing herself back up.
  152. “Alright girl, I know you’re in a rough place at the moment, but I need you to try your best to stay with me. Can you do that?” She takes a few deep breaths before nodding.
  153. >You slowly pull the leather cone over her mouth and loop the straps around her cheek and head. Slowly tightening them until they’re taut, you give the entire thing a gentle tug to confirm it’s secure.
  154. “Now I know this is going to suck, but you’re going to encounter a lot of... Aromas between here and home.” She eyes you carefully and nods.
  155. “I was thinking if we rubbed some of your uh, scent? From the floor? If we rubbed some of that around the muzzle it might help you cope.”
  156. >She gazes at the stain she earlier made on the floor. She narrows her eyes slightly but gives a curt nod all the same. Soaking the rag she had been sleeping on in her shame, you dab it lightly on and around the muzzle. Once you think you’ve done a good enough job, you throw it into the corner and stroke her neck a few times.
  157. “There we go, now how about we get moving so you don’t have to put up with that smell.” She snorts at you in agreement.
  158. >You stand up, straightening too quickly as you bang your head on the cage roof. As you swear in pain, Celestia gives a throaty chuckle. The mare herself slowly raises on shaky legs, her steps unsure as she follows you out of the cage. You stop outside its entrance to make sure she’s alright. She stops at the precipice.
  159.  
  160. >Daintily lifting one shaky hoof, she carefully extends it before placing it on the concrete ground. She shudders and you brace yourself to catch her. Shaking her head at you, Celestia stumbles forward until she’s completely out of the cage, catching herself from falling at the last moment. She stands proud and beams up at you before looking around, her eyes quickly losing their shine as she spies the other ponies in cages.
  161. >You’re about to start moving before she rubs her face on your leg, blinking away tears. You look down at her and smile, giving her a moment before you two move on.
  162. >You take a few steps, but you’re stopped by a whinny from Celestia. Facing her, your heart nearly breaks at how violently her legs are shaking. She looks up at you with frustration written on her face and you nod at her. You walk back to her front and kneel down to eye level.
  163. ”No funny business.” She nods once, sitting on her rear.
  164. >Forelegs reach out and cross over your shoulders for balance. Once her hooves are hooked, you bend further and grab her by the haunches. She gives a slight squeak and pulls on your back as you hoist her into the air. You try to ignore the fetid materials mixed into her coat that you can now feel under your fingers.
  165. >She’s a bit heavy in your grip and you let her know as much, causing her to lightly slap your back. Although, under normal circumstances a pony of this size should be much heavier.
  166. >Her head is hooked over your shoulder as you start exiting the compound, walking past the rest of the occupied cages. Several of the inhabitants stare in shock and awe while whispering to their sleeping neighbours to wake up. Unfortunately, one of them decides that it's now or never to get something off their chest.
  167.  
  168. >”TRAITOR!!” One stallion yells out.
  169. >Celestia flinches in your grip
  170. ”Easy girl.” You whisper into her ear as she pushes her chin harder into your shoulder.
  171. >“SHE’S LEAVING US TO DIE, WHILE SHE GETS A NEW HOME!!” A mare screams out while murmurs start spreading amongst the cages.
  172. >“SHE’S ABANDONING US AGAIN!!”
  173. >”DON'T YOU DARE TALK ABOUT THE PRINCESS LIKE THAT!!”
  174. >”I’LL SAY WHAT I WANT, YOU GODS DAMNED REAR-RAISING CHAIN-LICKER!”
  175. >”IF YOU DON’T SHUT UP ABOUT HER, I’LL SEND YOU TO THE FUCKING GLUE FACTORY MYSELF, YOU FUCKING GELDED STONE-BREAKER.”
  176. >”OH, YOU’RE GOING TO GET IT NOW, YOU STRIPED, DRUGGED UP, BITCH.”
  177. >”WE’RE ALL DRUGGED UP, YOU FUCKING DOPEY RETARD” With that, the cages explode in an uproar of insults mixed with traces of either praise or condemnation for the pony now shaking violently in your arms.
  178. “Easy… easy… we’re almost out” You whisper softly into her ear.
  179. >After a few more moments you exit the warehouse, leaving the chorus of abuse behind the both of you. You see Mark near your car and begin making your way over to him, consoling the poor mare as best you can the whole way.
  180. >He gives you a curt nod as you approach. You return it and gently set the shaking pony down in the boot filled with blankets. Her coat and filthy rear instantly staining them. She doesn’t make eye contact with either of you and hangs her head as you slowly wrap her in the restraining harness. The leather straps of the device loop around her bony arms and legs, weaving back and forth across her malnourished barrel and neck before being tied off securely onto metal railings and folded up seats on the sides of the boot’s interior. It forces her into a crouching position, but it does take some of the weight of her legs as she sags in the bindings.
  181.  
  182. “I’m gonna have a quick chat with Mark before we go, Celestia. Will you be alright by yourself for a moment?” She can’t even look at you when you’re standing behind her like this, but after a short while her hanging head makes a small up-down motion.
  183. >You close the boot and pull Mark off to the side. The man himself looks like a great weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
  184. “Two weeks Mark, and you better have this place cleaned up.”
  185. >”Yeah, nah, no worries, mate. With the money you’ve given me so far, I’ll actually be able to get the water turned back on and give them some actual food.
  186. “Wait, the fuck? You haven’t been giving them water?”
  187. >”Yeah, nah, nah, nah. I’ve been giving them water for sure, but as you can see from that one, I haven’t been able to afford the amenities or supplies for a long time. Not that I would have the time to wash them, what with all my efforts going towards keeping her from keeling over…” You quickly glance back at the pony in your car.
  188. “So, what the fuck have you been spending it all on then?”
  189. >”To be honest mate, drugs to keep these bastards under control. Especially for the one you just bought.” You frown in thought.
  190. >“Now, I know you probably want to push her straight through detox, but…” He looks around, as if checking to make sure no one else was listening in. “Just in case you want to have a backup plan while you get her set up at home, or Y’know, in case things don’t go exactly as planned. I can get you some on the cheap.”
  191. >You want to rebuke him but you pause. Everything up until now has been bad, but manageable. You yourself are also dreading the detox process. If you’re being completely honest though, not having more would be irresponsible in the face of what’s to come.
  192.  
  193. “Tell you what, you must still have some left over here right?” He nods.
  194. ”You give me a week or so worth of pills, and I bump up the payment two weeks from now to nine grand.” He scoffs loudly.
  195. >”You having a laugh mate?! That shit cost me too much to just… to just hand it out without payment! I ain’t a fucking charity here! I mean-”
  196. “Do you have any other ponies here that need that kind of ‘medicine’?” He stops his rant and glares at you. You match his stare and wait a few moments before he huffs and raises his arms in surrender.
  197. >”Alright, alright, I’ll give you the fucking things. But I want ten grand.”
  198. “Deal.” You reach out a hand. He eyes it for a few moments before clasping it. You both know this kind of deal can’t be on the radar as the estrus drugs are classed as an illegal substance.
  199. “Also, I need the details of that vet.” You pull out your phone.
  200. >”Christ almighty, cunt. I might as well give you the fucking warehouse with all the mongrels at this rate.” You smirk at him as he pulls out his own phone, sharing with you the contact details of a certain ‘Emily’ before storming back to the compound.
  201. >You hear a few ponies yell out to him about their princess, only to be screamed at and threatened by Mark before shutting their mouths. You briefly check on Celestia while you wait. The pony has thankfully stopped shaking. Although it seems the drugs are kicking in again as a clear, slightly viscous liquid trails down the inside of her hind legs, staining the leather straps of the harness. She’s also squirming a bit in her bindings, and ragged breathing can be heard coming from her front.
  202. “Hold on girl, we’ll be off soon.” You reach out to pat her, but you hesitate at the last second. It’s probably best if you don't touch her when she’s in this state.
  203.  
  204. >Before long Mark comes stomping back, a scrunched up plastic bag in his grip.
  205. >”Here ya go you bastard. Now, I don’t want to see you again, cunt, till you're back here with my fucking money!” He thrusts the bag into your hand and you quickly check it, finding 13 nondescript pills with white shells.
  206. >“Oh and one more thing.” You look up as Mark starts walking away. “You better clean that Pony up before taking her to Emily. She hates people who don’t treat them right!” He raises a hand in goodbye before disappearing back into the warehouse.
  207. >You tuck the pills into a pocket and spin on the spot, mulling over what happened here as you head back to the car. You close the boot, noticing in the process that Celestia seems to have pushed herself over the edge in her excitement. A great big stain rests on the blanket, between her legs. Hopping in the driver seat, you turn around to check on your new acquisition. Her eyes are glazed over and you can tell she has that big dopey grin back on her face under the muzzle.
  208. “You ready to go home, girl?” Her eyes lazily roll over to where you’re sitting. She nods dreamily in her agreement.
  209.  
  210. Turning the ignition, the engine roars to life as you slowly pull out of the parking lot and take your new slave pony home.
  211.  
  212. >You drove in silence, ears keen for any sounds that Celestia might make in her restraints. You would check on her every so often. Turning around at a red light, or quickly glimpsing in slow traffic to tell the filthy pony crouched in the back seat that she would be home soon, and to just hold on for a little bit longer. Every time she would have the same foggy look in her eyes and be staring straight through the windshield.
  213. >The fresh and open air outside the warehouse had masked her putrid smell briefly. The sealed car had not. You had almost crashed when your nostrils had picked it up again, the car swerving dangerously in the lane before bringing yourself under control. Opening the windows had been an instant relief, also providing an additional hidden benefit. To your growing surprise her wings had slowly unfolded, bobbing up and down in breeze. The wind whipped her mane about and you examined the doped princess.
  214. >Although you were no expert on what they should look like; the more you looked at the misaligned, dirty, and sometimes broken feathers; the less confidence you felt in their condition. Your mood was quickly turning sour once again, until -- so quietly you could barely hear it -- Celestia started humming.
  215. >Craning your neck at another red light. You watched her for a few moments. Her eyes were now closed and the contours of a smile could be seen on her cheek. You kept your silence, making no comment as she produced the sounds.
  216. >At first the notes would come intermittently in short monotone vibrations of a few seconds or less. Before long though, a tune began to form. It slowly grew into a gentle melody, making you smile. You relaxed in your seat as a gentle calmness swept over your body for the first time today. She continued like that as you pulled onto the motorway.
  217.  
  218. >It ultimately died down though, leaving a serene silence despite the wind roaring through the car. You checked her to find a few of her crooked and broken feathers had been pulled out by the breeze and deposited in the back of the boot. She had the same look on her face as before, with the exception of a single tear rolling down the side of her cheek as her wings slowly tucked back into her side.
  219. >You continued on for a while, only stopping when Celestia had started acting funny in the back. She had suddenly started whinnying at you and stabbing at the roof with her horn, frantic eyes constantly flicking behind to her shaking rear. After realizing something was wrong, you hastily pulled into a stopping lane and spun in your seat.
  220. “What is it, Celestia? What’s wrong, girl?”
  221. >A nod back to her rear end, legs criss-crossing as she slightly trembled. Loud horse noises escaping her mouth.
  222. “No, I’m not gonna touch you there.”
  223. >Angry horse noises and a glare were your response.
  224. “Hey! This is for your own good!”
  225. >Here stare was getting more desperate as she looked back and forth and urgently bounced her rear up and down to the tune of sad horse noises.
  226. “Nope, I don’t care how upset you get at me.”
  227. >The horse noises got more frantic until she suddenly shut her eyes and softly whimpered.
  228. “Look. The sooner we get home, the sooner we can…” you were interrupted by the sound of liquid hitting the blanket. “Fucking hell...”
  229. >You grabbed a bucket from the front seat. Bolted to the back of the car. Slammed the boot open. And caught the remainder. You said nothing until she finished and held that silence while dumping the contents on the side of the road.
  230. “Sorry about that, girl.” You muttered once you had gotten back in the driver’s seat.
  231. >Celestia had only looked away, crimson cheeks peeking out from under the restraining mask on her face.
  232.  
  233. >Another hour passed on the motorway before you exited onto winding suburban roads. The twists and turns swaying Celestia in her bindings (to her apparent discomfort, as she gave a rather displeased whinny after one particular sharp turn).
  234. >Before long you slowed down and pulled into the driveway of a two story house. Opening the garage door remotely, you come to a stop inside and close it behind you.
  235. “Hey, we’re here.” Her eye’s pupils continued to stare into space despite the change in scenery.
  236. “Hey... heeeeey! Hey Celly, we’re home!” You place an arm on her shoulder and gently shake.
  237. >Celestia started shaking slightly in her bindings as her eyes regained their focus.
  238. ”Hey, hey, hey. Easy there. It’s alright, remember?” She looks over at you, swallowing heavily before giving a slight nod. The slight tremors in her sides and legs persist though.
  239. “Look, how about this. I’ll take off the muzzle and we’ll wait here ‘till you feel ready. How about that?”
  240. >She stares you down for a few moments before nodding again.
  241. “Alright, just take a few moments, and let me know when you’re ready.”
  242. >You did your best to sound relaxed. Forcing her along might not fall into the category of good first experiences in her new home.
  243. >She didn’t take long. Following a few steady breaths with closed eyes, the shaking stopped. She looked at you and nodded.
  244. >You slowly reach back to her, unclipping the mouth guard from the leather straps which were too far back to unhook from the front seat. As it was pulled away, her nostrils flared and she shuddered. Her eyes narrowed at you.
  245. >”Thank you, Master Anon.”
  246. “No worries. You feeling ok?” She glares at you. “Right.”
  247. >”What’s going to happen now?”
  248. “Well, I’m going to unstrap you, and the first thing we’re doing is getting you cleaned up.” You undo your seatbelt.
  249. >”WAIT!” She cries out. You freeze in your motions.
  250.  
  251. >”No washing, I’m fine!” You stare deadpan at the filthy mare. Even now the smell is slowly creeping through the car, getting stronger and making bile rise in your throat. You stare dead pan at her for a few moments. She scrunches her mouth and tries to look anywhere else.
  252. >”Honestly, I’m alright! See?” She bends her head down to where she can barely reach her forelegs. You’re curious as to what she means.
  253. >That curiosity changes to horror, and then soon to disgust.
  254. >She cautiously sniffs her foreleg, the fur matted and slick with some indistinct grime. You both blanch at the same time. She looks back up at you, a nervous look in her eyes as she forces herself to smile.
  255. >You clench the seatbelt tight in your fists and hold your breath as she slowly reaches back down. You want to tell her to stop but you're too caught up in the moment. Too hypnotized in disbelief. She pauses briefly, before opening her mouth and taking a quick lick of the brown and yellow-fur.
  256. >You want to throw up as you see what looks like some of the disgusting substance on her tongue as she pulls it back into her mouth. She pulls her head back up and stares past you. Her jaw moves as you can see she’s trying to get the substance off her tongue. By licking the roof of her mouth.
  257. >With smack of her tongue, she convulses. Her head shakes. Tears form in the corner of her eyes. The last bit of color in her face drains as she suddenly stops. She looks at you. A silent plea for help on her face.
  258. >You stare dumbstruck at her, lazily offering the bucket she relieved herself into. She thrusts her head forward and hurls the contents of her stomach into it. You want to do the same, but you feel like some part of you is dying as some slimy chunks splash against your thumbs, the bucket getting heavier with each terrible splatter. You’re too busy mourning its loss to care anymore.
  259.  
  260. >A few pathetic moments and some sad whimpering later, Celestia is finished. Now -- in addition to all the other stains on her face -- is the distinct smear (with the accompanying smell) of vomit. She woozily pulls herself out of the bucket. Some of it seems to have gotten in her greasy mane as well.
  261. >Her head sways precariously and she tries to smile at you. You just stare back with a neutral look.
  262. “Are you done?”
  263. >She tries to nod at you, but her eyes go wide and her cheeks bulge as she sticks her head back into the bucket and exorcises the last few remnants of her stomach. She dry retches for another short while before pulling her head back out. Haggard eyes now look over at you.
  264. >”Y-you have no idea-” She pauses and takes a deep breath. “-h-how bad that was.”
  265. “I can imagine.” You say as you deposit the bucket on the passenger seat and wipe your messy hands on her coat.
  266. “Now, I’m not sure why you have this... aversion to being washed. Still, I’m not going to let you into the house until you let me clean you up, you damned smelly horse. I’ll drag you kicking and screaming if I have to.”
  267. >She looks you in the eyes, a small panic dancing across her before she sighs and nods at you.
  268. “And please, don’t get any more bright ideas like that again.” Celestia just hangs her head, letting her body sag against the bindings while she still can.
  269. >You hop out and get to work, carefully unhooking the harness from the walls of the boot. Undoing the various restraints tied to her body, the leather straps prove a minor annoyance. The damn things had adhered to her sticky coat somewhat.
  270.  
  271. >Once you’re done, Celestia gradually spins and faces you in her crouched position in the boot. Careful of her horn, she gingerly scooches forward on shaky legs until she’s standing with you at the edge of the car. The precariously perched pony stares down at the concrete ground before looking up at you. You look back down at her questioningly and she shuffles her damaged hooves. You’re reminded of the state she’s in.
  272. “Alright then.”
  273. >The mare smiles and falls onto her rump. She turns to face you and holds her forelegs up expectantly.
  274. “Hold on a second, if I’m going to carry you the whole way, I’ve got to open the doors to the bathroom.” She frowns, then lowers her hooves, allowing you to go off and clear the way to the bottom floor bathroom.
  275. >On the way, you pull several large towels from the linen cupboard and place them on the ground outside the door to the bathroom. You also start running the water, pull out the collection of horse care products you picked up last week, and place them next the bathtub. Exiting and moving quickly down to your room, you take of your clothes and pulling on some board shorts.
  276. >Before long you’re back. You can see Celestia through the car windows from here.
  277. >She tilts her head as you enter the room. Still facing the same way you left her, but her ears are flicking back and forth as your feet pad along the cold concrete.
  278. ”Alright, no time like the present.” You declare with a grin as you come around the corner of the car.
  279. >Celestia takes one look at you and goes red as an apple. Her mouth hangs open for a few moments before sliding into a sultry smile. Her bony hips start grinding on the rug.
  280. >You’re not too dense to realize that the drugs in her system are the main culprit for this response, but there’s no harm in enjoying a little appreciation now and then.
  281.  
  282. “Whoa, whoa, easy girl.” You snap your fingers a few times in front of her face. “Remember what we’re doing here.”
  283. >She gazes at your smiling face for a while before her eyes go wide. The mare shakes her head and takes a few steady breaths to calm herself.
  284. >”S-Sorry, I’m, uh, not quite, um, myself at the moment.” She shifts on her rear -- while you pretend not to notice -- and then sticks out her forelegs again.
  285. “If you insist. Now, remember, no funny business!” You pick her up like you did at the warehouse, arm hooking under her rear while she holds onto you. You can feel the slimy wetness on her muzzle that hasn’t fully dried yet as she rests her chin on your shoulder.
  286. >She takes the chance to breath in your scent again. You try not to pay any attention to it and carry her into the house, heading towards the bathroom.
  287. >”Have I told you yet how pleasant your scent is?” She purrs into your ear, one of her hooves tracing a small circle on your back.
  288. “I don’t think Mark is a fair comparison, to be honest.”
  289. >She goes quiet on your shoulder.
  290. >You worry that you’ve said something wrong. You’re trying to get her to go into water, something she seems hesitant to do, and you need her in the best mental shape to handle it. You need to fix whatever mistake you made.
  291. >Halting in the hallway, a few doors down from the bathroom, you open your mouth to apologize. Although, something happens before you can.
  292. >A deep chuckle has started in Celestia’s throat. She’s pressing her mouth into your collar, trying to keep a hold of herself. The chuckle grows as her body joins in, heaving as she tries to settle down. It’s no use, and soon she lets out a guffaw which erupts into a loud barking laugh.
  293. >”PFFHAHAHAHAHAHA”
  294. “All right, it wasn’t that funny…”
  295. >She doesn’t care as she lets the laugh take her.
  296.  
  297. >You scowl and try to be grumpy, but it’s infectious. Before long you’ve joined in with her and you’re laughing your heart out. The stress of the day melts away and you slide down a wall till you hit the ground with a grunt, still holding Celestia in your lap.
  298. >She pulls herself off your shoulder and stares at you. Her lips quivering as she tries to regain her composure. Her resistance crumbles to dust the moment you make eye contact with her.
  299. “BAHAHAHAHA”
  300. >”BAHAHAHAHA”
  301. >You both lose yourself in the moment. The laughter carrying on far beyond any normal joke ever should. As you both begin to settle down, one of you smirks, setting the other off for another round. This continues for what feels like several minutes until your jaw and your sides hurt.
  302. >After a while, you both finally begin to settle down. The voracious laughter deflating into a small chuckle here and there. You wipe the tears from your eyes and open them.
  303. >Shit.
  304. >You wanted to enjoy this moment a bit longer, but the sight in front of you brings you back to earth. Hard.
  305. >Celestia is showing you that natural smile again, the one that makes you want to keep her smiling forever. This time all you can see is the sorry condition she’s in. From the wiry and bedraggled greasy mane that hangs over the side of her face and body in a multi-hued brown and green, to the depressingly tired eyes in sunken sockets and the bloody mouth.
  306. >Sitting here holding her, your hands can feel the outlines of the ribs of her barrel. You can see the tautness of skin around her cheekbones. These are things that you’ve been ignoring for both your benefits for a while now. Your lips form a tight line and you nod to yourself.
  307. “Time to get you cleaned up, Celly.”
  308. >Her body jolts, though the smile doesn’t disappear from her face.
  309.  
  310. >She nods in return and pulls herself into you again, head resting on your shoulder. You carefully stand up while holding her and take the poor pony the rest of the way. The whole time your free hand stroking the back of her neck.
  311. >You turn at the doorway to the bathroom, the sound of running water in the shower meeting your ears. You stop as Celestia starts shaking.
  312. “Hey, hey, hey.” She doesn’t respond.
  313. “We need to do this, yes... But we can do it at your pace, okay?” She stays silent. A few moments of deep breathing pass between you.
  314. >”Mmhmm” She finally responds.
  315. “Hey, what does ‘mmhmm’ mean again?” You lightly tease.
  316. >”Al… A-alright A-anon, I can do this.”
  317. >She sounds terrified.
  318. “We can do this. Don’t forget about me, you silly mare. I’ll tell you what's happening every step of the way, and you tap on my back when you want me to stop. That sound good?”
  319. >“... Okay… Let’s get this over with.”
  320. >You move at a snail's pace through the room. Your attention completely on the shaking pony in your arms. Her breathing intensifying with each step closer to the water.
  321. >She sniffles as you pass the mirror. Her pained eyes looking over the reflection of her disgusting crestfallen visage.
  322. By the time the water is a few feet away, she’s begun smacking your back repeatedly with her hoof. You immediate halt.
  323. “Easy girl… Easy… You’re okay… You’re okay… Just take a deep breath, and we’ll take as long as you need.” She intermittently taps your back while you stroke her neck.
  324. >You wait. And wait. And wait some more. A few minutes pass and your arm is starting to get sore from holding her, but you’ll wait as long as it takes.
  325.  
  326. >Eventually, she stops tapping your back and lets out a whispered “okay,” allowing you take the last few steps towards the bath where a shower head is spraying a steady stream of warm steaming water. Now you’re less than an arm's length away from it. Celestia has begun lightly tapping your back again.
  327. “There, there. It’s ok. We made it all this way and nothing bad has happened.” She still limply slaps you with her hoof. You feel like taking her straight in might be a bit too much.
  328. “Hey, I have an idea.” The slapping stops briefly.
  329. “Do you think you could extend your wing for me?” She tightens her grip on your back, and after a brief pause, she carefully extends the weak appendage.
  330. >You carefully wrap your fingers around the edge of it. The scared mare gives off a slight yelp, but her hooves remain clasped to your back.
  331. “Now, I’m going to -- very slowly -- move your wing under the water.” You can feel her heart pounding in her chest. You gently stroke along the wing’s edge, trying your best to calm her.
  332. “I want you to understand, we won’t move unless you want to. You’ve been tapping with your left hoof to get me to stop right?” She nods over your shoulder.
  333. “Good... Now I want you to tap with your right hoof if -- and only if -- you feel comfortable going further. Understood?”
  334. >She doesn’t respond for a few moments. In the end, after an eternity of waiting, she taps your back once with her right hoof.
  335. >You delicately move her wing until the tip is just about to go under the stream. Tightening your grip on her rear, she responds by holding on to you for dear life as you gently whisper reassurances to her.
  336.  
  337. >You count down internally as she starts to shake again.
  338. >Five…
  339. >Four…
  340. >Three…
  341. >Two…
  342. >One!
  343. >You push the feathers on the tip of her wing under the water, allowing a few small streams of water to hit it. Celestia immediately starts smacking with her left hoof, a soft whimper echoing in your ear as she tries to hold herself together.
  344. >You keep her steady as best you can, but she’s getting more erratic with each passing moment.
  345. “C’mon girl, stay with me. You can do this.” Her tapping only gets more insistent. The whimpering getting louder.
  346. “We need to get you past this, Celestia! There’s no running from this!”
  347. >Her chest is heaving with gasping breaths now. Her nostrils flare as she lets out a panicked whinny. You pull your hand off the wing and grip her tighter in response as she starts jerking in your grip, trying to get free.
  348. “No, Celestia! Not Happening!”
  349. >You stare sidelong at her as she starts snarling. Her eyes are pinpricks of fear.
  350. “If we need to do it like this, then that’s what we’ll do, Celly!”
  351. >She pulls her head back and looks at you, her eyes silently begging you to not make her do this.
  352. “I don’t care what you have to do to endure this, but I’ll be handle whatever you throw at me!”
  353. >She rears back as her eyes flick to the water. She thrashes around briefly before her eyes zero in on your shoulder. She bares her teeth.
  354. “Go on! Do it! GET IT ALL OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM! DON’T LET IT BEAT YOU!!!”
  355. >”AAAAHHHHHHHH” She yells out at the top of her lungs as she brings her mouth down and bites.
  356. >You grunt and let out a hiss of pain through clenched teeth. Quickly pulling your hand off her back, you grab her wing and thrust half of it under the water.
  357.  
  358. >Celestia hasn’t seemed to notice. Feral eyes focused on your skin as she holds you in her jaws. You stand there, looking her in the eye and softly grunting from the pain. You both stay that way for a while until her eyes finally soften. You let out a sigh of relief.
  359. “Hey there.” She looks sidelong at you, then looks back down at her muzzle.
  360. >You can see the regret on her face. Moving your hand up to pat her mane, you feel a tinge of wet warmth from where she’s biting you. You work out Celestia is licking the skin caught between her teeth.
  361. “You ok there, girl?”
  362. >The mare nods, although she doesn’t release your shoulder from her jaws.
  363. “If you're done feeling sorry for yourself, I’ve got a surprise for you.”
  364. >Her sad eyes drift up to you and your smiling face. You try your best to hold the look and not wince, even as your shoulder pulses with pain.
  365. >You pull your hand away from her head and hold it out in front of her eyes. It takes a bit of finger wiggling until it eventually catches her attention. The irises follow your fingers as you point back to her wing, which has now been soaking under the water for a few minutes.
  366. >She breathes sharply through her nose, but doesn’t move it. Tears start pooling in her eyes as she flexes the appendage back and forth, a clear stream of water carrying the filth away as it rolls off the feathers in a yellow-brown mixture.
  367. “Do you think you’d be fine if I came in with you?”
  368. >You can tell the dam’s about to break.
  369. >She pulls back from your shoulder, lips quivering as she grips you tighter.
  370. >She gives your back a simple tap with her right hoof.
  371. >With the utmost consideration, you slowly step into the bathtub and bring her under the water. There is no flinching this time.
  372.  
  373. >It starts slow at first. A low sob that gently shakes her body as the water rolls off her back. It grows. And grows. It develops into a long wailing moan and she hangs her mouth open as you sit down in the tub, the crying princess cradled in your lap.
  374. >Grabbing some soap, you start rubbing it into her coat, the filth washing away in copious amounts. The dam wall breaks and Celestia lets loose, crying for all she’s worth with eyes clenched shut.
  375. >Grief filled cries echo with falling water as she lets it all out. You rub her back with one hand and continue to clean her as best you can with the other. Her mixed in sobs causing her body to heave constantly. All the time you coo to the poor creature in your arms.
  376. >She carries on for a long time. Long enough that you’ve scrubbed her back as much as you can. Looking around, you reach over the side of the bath. Grabbing some fur and mane shampoo, you squeeze some on her and start vigorously rubbing it in.
  377. >You almost think that Celestia doesn’t even notice what you’re doing; though as you apply the shampoo to her head -- being careful and trying to pull apart any split hairs in the process -- you can feel her head firmly pushing back into your palm.
  378. >You continue scrubbing and kneading her fur as much as you can, while she despondently sobs. It’s still thoroughly matted, although with some persistence and patience, you can tell you're making some progress.
  379. >After a long while, Celestia finally settles down. Her body only occasionally shudders with a sob, and she pulls her hooves off you so you can better clean the rest of her.
  380. >You stay quiet as you start on the rest of her body. Carefully inspecting the blood stains on her forelegs, you notice that she has lice crawling around her skin.
  381.  
  382. “Hey Celestia, have you got lice anywhere else on your body?”
  383. >She looks up at you. The poor pony in front of you is so emotionally drained that she just stares blankly. The immediate difference in her visage is already remarkable. You can see properly that her fur colour is meant to be white. Her hair is a multi-coloured, with several streams of green, blue, purple, and pink.
  384. >She nods before turning around in your lap. You’re curious as to what she’s doing until she begins pushing back into you. You lean back with her, but she’s a bit too large for you to see her belly. You brace her back and scoot her forward.
  385. >You scowl as there are almost a dozen small bloody patches on her stomach, some even around her teats and near her crotch. She looks away, while you grab the appropriate care product and liberally apply it everywhere. And you mean everywhere.
  386. >Her hind-leg kicks out as you rub around her swollen nipples, and she bucks lightly with both legs as you delicately spread it through the fur around the outsides of her puffy lips.
  387. >When you’re done, you pull her fully back under the water and wash down everywhere before pushing her back out and reapplying it. After cleaning her off again, you flip her over and repeat the process twice more in her back and forelegs. Firmly rubbing in the green, soapy liquid until a nice thick lather is built up; then washing over it with care, making sure to leave none behind.
  388. >As you finish up, you get back to work on her coat, tail, and mane. Properly giving each a thorough wash with shampoo and a rinse, repeating the action several times.
  389.  
  390. >You giggle as you try to wash her ears, the mobile points flicking every which way, trying to avoid your dextrous fingers. She lets out a small giggle as you finally manage to catch one. The giggle ends up turning into a delighted hum as you scratch and rub the shampoo into them before cleaning gently with the water.
  391. >Repeating the process enough to clean all the matted fur takes what feels like hours as you wash her over and over. Once you’re satisfied, or just too exhausted to bother doing it anymore, you carefully inspect her hooves.
  392. >You scrape out all the dirt with a tweezer, and even manage to remove a few wayward rocks. Delicately picking up the discoloured hoof you believe to be infected, you gingerly scrub it and clean it where you can.
  393. >Celestia gives of little murmurs of approval or disapproval the whole time. Her body leaning in and pulling back from time to time as you tend to her.
  394. >Eyeing the split in another hoof, you resolve to take her to the vet as there is nothing you can do about it by yourself. You let out an exhausted sigh as you finally finish the arduous task. Although, it’s not quite over yet.
  395. “Ready to get out, Celly?” She looks up at you and nods, a tired smile on her face.
  396. >You bend down and hoist her out of the tub, the general area around it now looking like a disaster zone with splashes and smears of dirty water everywhere. You resolve to clean it some other gods damned time. You carefully place her on the mat in the centre of the bathroom before quickly washing yourself off.
  397. >Turning off the water, you look down at the wet and now slightly shivering mare. Although her coat is mostly clean now, it clings wetly to her body, emphasising her malnutrition. Her soaked mane and tail are now a vibrant hues of pleasant colours at least.
  398.  
  399. >Her hair drapes over the side of her face while her tail is perked. The hair of both soaked in water which drips into small puddles around her. Massive bags hang under her eyes, though she now wears a tired smile on her freshly cleaned clean face and muzzle.
  400. >You quickly open the door and grab a towel before unceremoniously tossing it at her. She lets out a yelp before it smacks her in the face.
  401. “Get started on that while I grab us something to eat.”
  402. >You stride briskly to the kitchen, noticing on the way that it’s actually gotten pretty late outside as the hallways are covered in dark shadows. Opening the fridge, you think briefly before pulling out a generous helping of fruits, vegetables, and lettuce; before piling it into a bowl.
  403. >You also grab some chocolate for yourself. A solid meal isn’t something you feel in the mood for after all that’s happened today anyway.
  404. >Picking up the food, you walk back down the hallway and come back to Celestia sitting on her rear, injured forelegs wiping her mane with the towel.
  405. >She pulls it away and you let out a guffaw. Her long hair is in a tangled mess and pokes out every direction. She scowls before throwing the towel back at you, striking you square in the face. Though she tries to hide it, you hear her giggle as well.
  406. >Bending down, you place the food in front of her. The moment she notices it, her stomach lets out a monstrous growl and her mouth slowly hangs open. A small, thin trail of drool stretching down the floor.
  407. “Don’t eat too fast, okay?” She eagerly nods as you place the bowl on the ground, before plunging her maw into the assortment of food.
  408.  
  409. >You let her eat while you wipe the rest of her body down. As one towel gets saturated, you replace it with another. All the while, Celestia continues to eat, though she’s started to do so in a more controlled fashion.
  410. >She gives no protest as you hoist her rear off the floor and rub her tail and privates, although you think you can see a blush creeping onto her face all the same. There are still a few visible cuts and scrapes around her genitals, and so you reach into a drawer and pull out a roll of bandages.
  411. >You carefully wrap it over the small wounds and take care not to obstruct anything essential. Once done, you firmly clip it taut so that the skin can hopefully heal. You move around her and do the same with her chipped and cracked hooves, her legs, and her belly. Essentially anywhere you think there might be open wounds or cuts.
  412. >Once she’s all wrapped up you stand up and inspect your handy work as you grab another towel to dry yourself off. While not covered head to toe, there are significant portions of her body wrapped firmly in bandages. Luckily, it blends relatively well with her white coat.
  413. >She finishes her meal and lets out a loud belch. You laugh at her, making hold a hoof to her mouth in embarrassment. Unfortunately, the habitual response makes the balance of weight to her remaining weakened legs shift, causing her to wobbly slightly.
  414. >You reach down and grab under her barrel to help stabilize her. Your hand moving without even thinking about it.
  415. >“Oh, Thank you...”
  416. >She places her hoof back on the ground where stares at it.
  417. >”For everything...” Her voice is croaky but no tears come. You feel like she’s probably cried too much today.
  418. >”For helping a pony like me…”
  419. >You kneel down to her eye level and place a hand on her withers.
  420. “Now, now… A pony like you? Get out of here.”
  421.  
  422. >”I know I’m not what you expected but-”
  423. “Hey, stop that!”
  424. >She complies with your request.
  425. ”Despite all the bad things, the gross things, the uncomfortable thing, the...” You gingerly rub your shoulder wound, a dark purple bruise forming in an arc of teeth marks. You also look at your forearm where a similar colouration throbs occasionally. “Even the pain as well.”
  426. >She continues to stare at the ground.
  427. ”In spite of all that, I had a lot of fun today. And you know what?”
  428. >”...What?”
  429. >You turn her head to look at you. Her purple eyes search your face for something.
  430. “I can’t wait until we get you back to normal, because I want to meet the you that doesn’t need me to hold out a sick bucket for her.”
  431. >She scrunches her face and looks away. The silly mare holds that pose for a few moments before looking back to you and chuckling lightly. You join in with her while you reach out and scratch her ear. She leans gently into your ministrations as she coos softly.
  432. “Now, I don’t know about you, but I feel exhausted after today. How about I carry you to bed, and give your crazy hair a brush before we nod off.”
  433. >Her face lights up in hope, before a blush rises to her cheek and she smiles nervously.
  434. >”I may need your help relieving myself first, Anon…”
  435. >You stare deadpan at the mare.
  436.  
  437. >A small time later, you’re sitting in bed. Celestia is on it with you. She’s strewn her bandaged legs across yours, and her chin rests on your thigh. You already did her tail before you curled up together.
  438. >She sighs gently as you pull the brush through her multi-coloured mane, pulling out loose hairs as you go and gently pulling tangled clumps apart. You stroke your hand through it as you follow the brush. A yawn escapes your mouth by the time the hairs are all starting feel smooth as silk in your fingers.
  439. >Celestia does the same, and you decide that this is enough for one day. You gently lift her up and move the large pony off to her side of the bed. She sleepily looks over at you in response, her head tilted to the side slightly.
  440. “Time for bed, girl.” She nods and shakily moves to her hooves.
  441. >You place the brush on your bedside table and turn the lamp off. Lifting up the covers, you help Celestia move under them before pulling them over yourself.
  442. “Good night, Celly.” You yawn as you stretch over and idly scratch behind her ear.
  443. >”Good night, Anon. Sweet dreams...”
  444.  
  445. >You nod off after a short while, but Celestia stays awake for a bit longer. The impossible day that just occurred rolling through her head over and over, before she remembers what she’ll need to face in the near future. She sighs to herself. Looking at your sleeping face, she scooches closer to you under the covers.
  446. >She slowly and carefully reaches over and hooks her forelegs around your torso, pulling you into a hug.
  447. >Leaning in close, she pecks you on the cheek and tucks her head into your chest.
  448.  
  449. >“Thank you, for rescuing me.” She whispers, as sleep finally takes her.
  450.  
  451. Part 4
  452.  
  453. >“Anon…”
  454. >“Anon?”
  455. >“Are you listening anon?”
  456. >You shake your head and refocus on the conversation.
  457. “Yea, sorry, spaced out for a second. You were saying?”
  458. >”I wonder if you’re even all there sometimes...” She gives you a pitying look.
  459. >You smirk and motion for her to continue.
  460. >You're sitting in a quiet cafe on a warm Saturday morning. It’s one you are both quite familiar with. The blonde woman in a green floral dress sitting across from you now finally winding down from one of her classic tirades.
  461. >You have a window seat where you can see people strolling the streets, a few of them accompanied by their slave ponies.
  462. >The little horses are walking alongside them. A few of them even dressed up by their handlers. Most of those ones are smiling with joy. Eagerly hopping along and chatting with their owners. Eyes vacant and indifferent to the world around them.
  463. >Others are either pulled on leashes or dragging their hooves with their heads down. Some of them even glancing longingly at the passing traffic. Bruises and other small signs of abuse visible on them as they fearfully trot.
  464. >"So in the end I'm the one who gets dumped in the shit even though I could see this coming from fucking years away."
  465. >Shit, you didn’t catch the end of what she was saying.
  466. "Christ that fucking blows, babe. Did you manage to keep records of all the correspondence you sent to each other?"
  467. >"Yeah, but if I don't play my cards right here then I'm up shit creek, right? Either I speak up, get thrown under the bus, get fired, press charges and give my side of the story, clear my name, and no one takes a chance with me again; or I keep my head down, roll with the punches, and try to come out the other side without too many scars." She stares daggers at her coffee before picking up the cup and gulping down its contents.
  468.  
  469. "Or you could resign, you know? You don’t have to do this kind of thing." She pauses and puts down the cup.
  470. >She turns her piercing blue orbs at you, a heavy frown on her face.
  471. >"Anon, I know you'll always take care of me." Her frown lifts into a gentle smile as she places a hand on yours. "But if I don't do something with myself, I'll go mad."
  472. "Oh, I thought you already were mad. Could have fooled me." She smirks at you.
  473. >"I already did fool you, cutie. Or did you miss the part where I tricked you into buying me this stupidly overpriced rock." She wiggles her fingers, reminding you of the modest engagement ring that sits on her ring finger.
  474. >"I can't just travel the world or live in peace and quiet until the end of my days. I'm like a dog that has to chase a car.” She lets out a sigh and rubs the bridge of her nose.
  475. >”There are so many of them that need our help, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I was just wasting all the gifts that I've been given. I thought you knew that when you gave me this?"
  476. "Babe, I've known you were a dog for a while now, so I guess it's not too much of a surprise..."
  477. >She feigns a shocked look on her face. A hand rising to cover up her mouth in mock offense.
  478. >"Well, I never! Pray, tell what misguided misconceptions have led you to believe that a fair maiden such as I would be confused for such a mindless beast."
  479. "Hmm... If I had to say, you were acting a lot like a mindless beast the other night." She smirks and slaps your hand, a tint of red on her cheeks.
  480. "I mean if we're talking about dogs, you were pretty much acting like a bitch in he-"
  481. >"Anon!"
  482. >She slaps your hand jokingly again, her face going crimson as she lets out a small laugh. You chuckle back at her.
  483.  
  484. "What, just calling it like I see it, gorgeous. Though -- speaking of animals -- I guess it is hard to maintain your composure when you're with a stallion like mys-"
  485. >"Eh hem"
  486. >Something interrupts you from the side of the table. Looking over, you see a rather irate pony with a light blue coat and a brown short cropped mane dressed up in a simple maid's uniform.
  487. >Honestly, it looks a bit ridiculous, but you hold your tongue. The poor mare doesn't need that kind of comment. The shock collar around her neck more than speaks for the slave’s situation.
  488. >You quickly realize she's carrying your food on plates balanced precariously on her back. How they managed to do that without spilling everything you'd never know.
  489. "Ah, thanks..."
  490. >You sit back and let the pony serve your food. It’s an incredible show of dexterity as she twists her neck behind her, lifts one plate in her mouth by biting on a rubber grip on the side of it, twists back, and deposits it on the table.
  491. >Your fiancée stares as well. Her face wrought with sadness. Eventually the pony finishes, sits back, and pulls a pencil and notepad from her pockets.”
  492. >"Is there anything else, I can get you guys?"
  493. “I’m right thanks, how about you, babe?”
  494. >She’s already searching through her purse as you ask. Pulling out a twenty dollar bill, she reaches over and tucks it into a front pocket on the pony’s uniform.
  495. >”Don’t tell your owner, okay?” Tapping her nose and giving a wink, she smiles at the stunned little horse.
  496. >The pony snaps herself out of the trance and puts the writing materials away. She shifts nervously on her hooves for a moment before mouthing a ‘thank you’ and scurrying back to the kitchen.
  497. >It’s not the first time you’ve seen her do something like this.
  498. “You really do care for those things, don’t you?”
  499.  
  500. >She smiles as she regains her composure.
  501. >”You know that I do… It’s why I fight so hard for them.” You reach over and grab her hand, rubbing it gently.
  502. “I know, babe.” You gently reassure her before your attention shifts to your food and you both dig in.
  503. >The meal passes in a pleasant silence, only interrupted when your fiancée speaks up.
  504. >“So... there’s, uh, some things I’ve been meaning to bring up Anon...“ She begins while wringing her hands on the table.
  505. “Yeah.” You respond with a mouth full of food, eliciting a giggle.
  506. >“So, we’ve been going out together for a while... right?”
  507. “Yeah, what about it?”
  508. >”Well, I was thinking…”
  509. “Thinking about…?”
  510. >”What if we…”
  511. “What if we, what?
  512. >”What if we bought a pony?”
  513. >You almost spit out your food.
  514. “Babe, I thought we talked about this…” She winces.
  515. >”I know I know, I just… I just thought it might be a good trial run…”
  516. “Trial run? What for?”
  517. >“And they would be able to help out when we’re too busy!”
  518. “Whoa, honey, honey, slow down! Busy with what?”
  519. >She takes a deep breath and looks you straight in the eye.
  520. >”We’ve been together a lot lately… And I’ve checked. And I’ve checked. And I’ve tripled checked”
  521. >You feel your heartbeat quicken.
  522. >”And I’m late.”
  523. >The gears in your head slow to a crawl. You stare at her for a few moments, slowly soaking in the meaning behind her statement.
  524. “You’re late?” You slowly get out of your seat.
  525. >”Uhuh.”
  526. “You’re -that- kind of late?”
  527. >”Mmhmm.” She looks at you with tears pooling in the corner of her eyes. The biggest and most loving smile you’ve ever seen on her face. The smile that won your heart.
  528. ”Hey, what does ‘mmhmm’ mean, babe?” You pull her out of the seat and hold her hands in your own.
  529. >“Anon… I think we're going to have a baby!”
  530.  
  531. >You immediately wrap her in your strong arms, pulling her into a hug and holding her face to your chest. You’re so happy in this moment you think your heart might burst from your chest. You take deep joyful gasps of air as you feel the beginnings of hot tears stream down your cheeks.
  532. >”Anon…”
  533. >She whispers your name as your stroke her hair.
  534. >”Anon…”
  535. >You kiss her on the head.
  536. >”Anon…”
  537. “It’s ok, Jessica. I’m just so happy”
  538. >”Anon…”
  539. >She repeats your name, though the tone of her voice is shifting.
  540. >“Anon.”
  541. >You look down at her. Face still buried in your chest.
  542. >“Anon.”
  543. “Babe, what’s wrong?”
  544. >”Anon.”
  545. >You try to push her back to get a look at her, but she just tightens her grip.
  546. >”Anon.”
  547. >Her voice is getting louder each time she says your name.
  548. >”Anon.”
  549. “Jessica, what are you doing?”
  550. >”Anon. Please wake up.”
  551. “No…”
  552. >”You need to wake up!”
  553. “No, no, no, no, no!”
  554. >“Anon, I need your help, please wake up!”
  555. >She’s yelling at you now, her voice now that of a different person than the one in your arms. With all your strength your push her off of you. You look at her face. Panics spikes through your heart. It’s wrong. All wrong. Deep red crimson lines of blood from fresh wounds run through her now bruised visage. Her eyes are murky, and the skin of her arms has gone lifelessly pale.
  556. >”Please, Anon! It hurts too much!”
  557.  
  558. >You hear the revving of a car engine and the screech of car wheels nearby as she begins to scream. You look up and see vehicles of all shapes and sizes accelerating towards the cafe window.
  559. >Calls for help go unheard as you wildly search for safety. All the staff and patrons are gone. The furniture has also vanished. The only thing still left in the room is a big iron cage holding the pony who served you food. Her body a crumpled rotting husk, wrapped up in a filthy maids outfit and deposited unceremoniously in the corner. A twenty dollar note clutched tightly in between her broken, festering hooves.
  560. >With a roar, you cry out and pull Jessica back to you, but her body turns to ash in your arms. You look up just as the first car comes careening through the window, a scream of fear shrieking from your mouth as it collides with you, sending you flying back into darkness.
  561. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-”
  562.  
  563. “-AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!”
  564. >”AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”
  565. >You lurch out of bed, sweat dripping from your body while your mind struggles to get rolling.
  566. >Looking around, you see the big white pony you saved yesterday is shrieking while keeled over. Her hooves held tightly to her abdomen.
  567. >Celestia’s face is a twisted expression of pain. Her body shudders and convulses with each wave of agony washing over it. Wings flail limply on her back and fresh screams escape from her now hoarse throat.
  568. >You soak in the sight. With a quick shake you brush of the dream and your grogginess from the rude awakening. Something is terribly wrong with the poor mare and you need to act fast.
  569. “Celestia! Celestia!? What in god’s name is going on? What’s happening?” She looks up at you with bloodshot eyes as you carefully place a hand on her cheek.
  570. >“I-I need it A-Anon. I-I n-need the thing he’d g-give m-meeeeAAAAAAAA-” She screams again as another wave of pain wracks her body.
  571. >You look at her miserable form and connect the dots in your head. If this is just the start of withdrawal symptoms, then you are in no way equipped to handle this by yourself.
  572. >Grabbing your phone and leaping off the bed, you sprint through the dark house to the laundry and search through your smelly discarded clothes. The poor mare wails at being left alone.
  573. >You find the plastic bag that Mark gave you, the nondescript pills still safe within, although something gives you pause. Celestia is no longer screaming from the room.
  574. >After a brief moment of hesitation, you unlock your phone and scroll through the numbers until you find the one for the vet that Mark recommended. You call the number and quickly run back to your bedroom, checking on the now suspiciously quiet mare.
  575.  
  576. >You carefully peek around the doorway. The poor creature lies motionless on the bed. For a brief moment you think the worst has happened, until she takes a shuddering breath, her chest rising and falling. She’s still there, still huddled over in pain, and still shaking slightly every now and then.
  577. >You go into a nearby room, a study, and cross your fingers that someone will answer you at whatever ungodly hour this is.
  578. >Your prayers are answered as the line picks up. Though before you can speak, you’re forced to pull the phone away from your ear as a barrage of shouting comes through the line.
  579. >“I’m answering the FUCKING PHONE!”
  580. >”Yeah, just fucking walk away why don’t you!”
  581. “Hello?” You try to get the attention of the man and woman on the other side of the line.
  582. >”Excuse me?! I’m trying my best here, and feeding your lazy four legged ass is expensive!”
  583. >”Lazy?! I’m sorry, I missed the part where I was allowed to walk outside by myself without getting BEATEN, DRUGGED, AND THROWN IN CHAINS!”
  584. “Hello!? I really need some help here!” You check back in on Celestia, the poor bandaged pony still curled up in pain on the bed.
  585. >”That’s not fair... You know I didn’t mean it like that. Please, let me take this. It could be a client.”
  586. >”Bet it’s just another abusive asshole who wants us to fix his toy.
  587. >”Those ‘abusive assholes’ are the ones that pay the rent dickhead. That attitude of yours is why we can’t get any work anymore, remember?”
  588. >”My attitude?! Sorry, I can’t be all smiles and cheer while the rest of my kind live stripped of their rights and ABUSED!”
  589. >Another bout of yelling and shouting erupts from the phone. You idly thumb the pills in your pocket and watch Celestia. She lets out a small whimper every now and again. You’ve about made up your mind when you hear a voice calling out from the phone.
  590.  
  591. >”Hello? Hello? Are you still there? Oh, please tell me you’re sti-”
  592. “Yes, hello! I was told that I could reach a vet by the name of Emily on this number.”
  593. >”Oh! Oh yes! YES! This is Emily and co.’s Equine Veterinary Practice. Sorry for what you just heard, you just caught me at a bad time. I mean it is, uh… 3:30 in the morning? Christ!”
  594. “Thank god…”
  595. >You sigh in relief. In the meantime, small whimpers have started escaping Celestia’s mouth. You continue talking as you keep an eye on her.
  596. “I know it's probably not what you wanted to hear, but I need some urgent consultation on a mare I’ve recently purchased.
  597. >”... God damnit.” You hear a sigh from the other end of the phone as all the energy leaves Emily’s voice.
  598. >”I was right wasn’t I?”
  599. >”Shut up, asshole!”
  600. “Hey, hey! Are you going to help me here? Or am I going to have to help this poor pony alone?” She stays silent for a few moments.
  601. >”Why can’t you just get some other vet to do this? I really don-”
  602. “Because this isn’t a problem I can go to other vets for help with! Alright?”
  603. >”Anooon… Where did you gooooo?” Celestia calls out in a strangled cry from the bed. You lower the phone while you approach her and stroke her back.
  604. “Easy girl, Easy. I never left you.” She reaches out and grabs your shorts with a curled hoof.
  605. >”Please, Anon. It hurts so much… I need it...”
  606. “I’m trying, Celly. Just try to be a strong mare for me for a little longer, okay?”
  607. >”Mmhmm”
  608. >You smirk and pull the phone back up.
  609. “So I need an answer now, Emily.”
  610. >”Hey, what's going on, Emily? What’s with that look? What’s that guy saying to you?” You hear the stallion talking as Emily takes a sharp intake of breath.
  611.  
  612. >”Alright, but on one condition. You tell me right now what's wrong with her and you don’t dare lie to me. Don’t you dare think about it, even for a second; or I call the cops and tell them I received a call from someone in trouble and point them in your direction.”
  613. >You swallow heavily and begin.
  614. “I picked her up yesterday, shortly after midday, from a handler named Mark.”
  615. >”Oh Christ you’re one of Mark’s customers.”
  616. >”Oh shit, Emily. What are you doing still talking to him?”
  617. “WAIT!”
  618. >”Talk fast, Mr… Anon was it? And be advised you’re on a knife’s edge here.”
  619. “Okay. Okay. I picked her up and drove her straight home. I washed and cleaned her up, gave her some food and then we went to bed.”
  620. >“You sick fuck! Taking advantage of a mare in that position!”
  621. >”Christ, don’t even bother Emily.”
  622. “Hold on! It’s not like tha-” You’re distracted mid-sentence as Celestia starts retching. “Oh no, Celly, wa-!”
  623. >It’s too late as Celestia pathetically spews her dinner across the base of the bed, painting the navy-blue sheets a sick brown-green colour. There’s even some carrot in the disgusting mixture, even though you know you didn’t feed her any.
  624. >”What was that noise, Anon?”
  625. “Oh, no, no ,no... Celly... you poor girl...” The sick white pony curled up next to you weakly spits a few flecks of leftover vomit onto the bed.
  626. >“It hurts, Anon…”
  627. “I know girl, I’m trying to-”
  628. >”What in god’s name are you doing to her?”
  629. “I'm not doing anything to her! That’s the problem! Now, if yo-.”
  630. >”Jesus Christ, you disgusti-”
  631. >”What’s happening, Emily?”
  632. >”Let me handle this, Stint!”
  633. >Celestia moans in pain. You feel a fuse blow.
  634.  
  635. “I NEED your HELP, Emily! Listen! Please!”
  636. >You hear a faint ‘fuck you, asshole,’ as you lower the phone down near Celestia’s mouth. You leave it there for several seconds as her sounds of pain become the only noise in the room. You return the phone to your ear and hear dead silence.
  637. “You hear that Emily? That is the sound of a sick pony that needs help. And I don’t know if I can do it alone.”
  638. >“Should have thought of that before you bought her.” She mutters after a few moments.
  639. “I did, okay? Or would you rather I left her with Mark?”
  640. >”I never said that, dickhead.”
  641. ”You haven’t said anything that can help the fucking poor mare next to me, have you? All you’ve done is fling shit at me.”
  642. >”I’m not the one at fault here!”
  643. >”Emily, let me handle this?”
  644. >”STINT, PLEASE!” She screams, away from the phone.
  645. “No, it’s not your fault. But if this pony suffers because I’m in over my fucking head on this and you won’t help me, that’s on you!”
  646. >”You don’t even care about her. You ju-”
  647. “Hey! I spent hours cleaning the shit and piss out of her fur, okay? I even got bitten by her! Twice! And I took it all in stride.”
  648. >Celestia gently rubs your leg. An apologetic whimper escapes her throat.
  649. “Hey, don’t worry about me, silly. I’m fine.” You lightly scratch her ear. The tip flicks away from your hand.
  650.  
  651. >“You just want us to fix your toy, Anon.” She just sounds tired now.
  652. ”This isn’t about me, Emily. It’s not about you either.”
  653. >”Hey! Tha-”
  654. “AH, let me finish!” The line goes quiet in response.
  655. “This is about the poor fucking mare that I had to carry to bed because she couldn’t even walk. This is about waking up in the middle of the night to her screaming in pain.”
  656. >Your voice echoes back to you as you’re put on loudspeaker
  657. “This is about me wanting a second god damn fucking opinion before I shove a hand full of pills -- given to me by Mark -- down her throat.”
  658. >Celestia trembles as another convulsion wracks her body.
  659. “Can. You. Help. Her. Emily?”
  660. >You stand there, slightly panting. After 10 seconds of no response, regret begins to stew in your gut.
  661.  
  662. >Celestia weakly tugs on your shorts. You glance over to her still curled up in pain. She weakly smiles at you, even as her body shivers and a trail of vomit drips down her muzzle. Your heart sinks. You fidget with the drugs in your pocket, you can probably put a stop to this right now.
  663. >”Anon, are you there?” A deep masculine voices reaches your ear.
  664. “Yes.”
  665. >”I have one question that I want you to answer before we make a decision.”
  666. “And that is?” There’s another brief pause.
  667. >”Why did you buy her?”
  668. >You pull your hand out and carefully clean the bile from the side of Celestia’s face, wiping it afterwards on the sheets. Her smile now slowly falling apart and her eyes shutting tight as her face is wracked with agony again.
  669. “I made a promise to someone that I’d buy them a slave pony that they… That we could help. But that person isn’t here anymore.”
  670. >”Hmph.” That’s all the response you get before you hear the faint clip clop of hooves walking away. A scrambling sound comes through the phone shortly followed by a familiar voice.
  671. >”Alright, Anon. It’s Emily. We’ll help.” You let out a breath you didn’t know you were holding.
  672.  
  673. >”So, If that pony is in withdrawal, I need to know what she’s withdrawing from. Now if I know Mark -- which I unfortunately do -- and you say this is a problem you can only talk to me about, then what you’re about to get me in involved is probably barely legal at best. So tell me straight up: what was Mark giving to her?”
  674. “Estrus Stimulants.” You say without hesitation.
  675. >”Oh god, Estrus?”
  676. >”That fucking cunt, Mark, is dead the next time he shows his face!” You hear the stallion yell out in the background.
  677. >“Stint! Settle down, would you? Okay, okay, you said you bought some of those pills from him?” You grunt in acknowledgement.
  678. >”How much did he say to give her and how often?”
  679. ”He didn’t say really. I asked for a weeks’ worth and he handed me thirteen pills.”
  680. >”Thirteen pills in a single week? How is the poor mare not insane?”
  681. >”You’re fucking joking right? Thirteen? What was he trying to do? Make her go feral?”
  682. >”He probably doesn’t even know…”
  683. >”He doesn’t give two shits is more like it.” Celestia lets out a pained groan as another tremor rocks through her body.
  684. “Oi, talk to me. She’s getting worse while you two are squabbling like a married couple.”
  685. >They murmur back and forth for a bit longer before continuing.
  686. >”Alright, Anon. It’s a good thing that you called us. If you had given her a whole pill, it likely would have done more harm than good.”
  687. “Okay. Good.”
  688. >”Now. I assume you want to detox her, right?”
  689. “Correct.” You hear a sigh of relief from the other end of the phone.
  690. >”I’d like to say make her go cold turkey; but with estrus stimulants, going through detox without medical support can be very dangerous. I think you’ve seen the start of what can go wrong.”
  691. “If it’s going to get worse from here, what can we do?”
  692.  
  693. >”We’d like to help you detox her, but that’s going to take some time to prepare. We’ll also need some money paid upfront, but only because we need to order in specific supplies for this.
  694. ”We’ll sort that out as we go, money isn’t a concern. What do you want me to do in the meantime? Drive her out to you?”
  695. >”Well, um, god... Is it really alright if we say this, Stint?”
  696. >”I think we don’t have any other options at this point. We can’t take the risk.” He sounds hesitant.
  697. >”Alright, Anon, I’m giving you the go ahead to give her half a pill now. She should settle down in a short while, and, uh, be more, um, relaxed?”
  698. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
  699. >”Oh, nothing. I’m sure you’ll notice when it happens. Still, keep a close eye on her and give her another half a pill no sooner than 12 hours after the current amount. And even then, only if her withdrawal symptoms get too severe. Call us if things take a turn for the worse and we’ll do our best to help.”
  700. “Copy that. I’ll see to her and make sure she gets through this.”
  701. >”Thanks, Anon. And, err, sorry for the way we treated you earlier.”
  702. “No worries, I was a bit stressed out myself and said a bit too much. I’ll call you tomorrow morning and touch base, alright?”
  703. >”Okay, Anon. Have a good night.”
  704.  
  705. >You say goodbye put the phone away in a bedside table. Turning to Celestia, you gently scratch her head with one hand while the other pulls a pill from your pocket. She’s settled down some. Her breathing a constant in and out. You break the pill in two, returning one to your pocket while you hold the other near the struggling pony.
  706. “Hey, Celestia. How you holding up?”
  707. >”It hurts, Anon…”
  708. “I know, I know. Unfortunately we only have one solution available at the moment. We can’t put you through detox just yet. It’s not safe.”
  709.  
  710. >Her eyes slowly open, until they see the small white pill in your hand, and spread wide. She opens her mouth and begins to extend her tongue towards it.
  711. “Remember Celestia, this is just a stop-gap, until we can get you the help we need.”
  712. >She nods, though she doesn't look at you. She licks her lips and lifts her head. Pain is on her face but her eyes have a laser focus on the item in your hand.
  713. >Your gently grab her jaw and she opens her maw for you. You get a glimpse of the yellow teeth and dirty tongue inside and scold yourself for forgetting about it earlier when you cleaned her. Placing it on the back of her tongue, you withdraw your hand and close her mouth. She instantly gulps and eagerly swallows the pill without any resistance.
  714. >Lying back down, the big white horse lets out a sigh of relief and closes her eyes.
  715. >You watch carefully over the next few minutes as her face softens and she unfolds herself from her curled up position. Monitoring her until the shaking stops, you slump with exhaustion when she finally stops trembling. Retrieving a glass of water; you wait patiently for her to recover. After a short while she rises to her hooves. Sitting upright on the bed, she opens her eyes.
  716. “Glad to see you’re back with us in the land of the living.”
  717. >“T-Thank you, Anon.”
  718. “Your welcome, Celestia. How’re you feeling?” You carefully hold out the glass and help her as she greedily gulps the liquid down.
  719. >”Better. Much, much better.”
  720. “I’ll say. But seriously, don’t forget. That pill is a last resort.” She nods and averts her gaze slightly down. She brings up a hoof to her chest before looking you in the eye.
  721. >“I-I understand, Anon. And please believe me, if it didn’t bring me so much pain I would gladly be rid of tha-” She stops mid-sentence as her pupils dilate. “Oh…”
  722. “Celestia?”
  723.  
  724. >”Ooooohhh...”
  725. >"Celestia? Are you alright?
  726. >She shudders. A sultry grin blooms on her face. Her jaw goes slack and she hunches her back. Bringing the hoof on her chest down, she pushes her front hooves wide on the sheets. The tail that’s tucked under her rear starts flicking back and forth. Nostrils flare with each great intake of air.
  727. >”Ooohhhhhh my...”
  728. "Hey, easy there, big girl. Why don't we just settle down a bit."
  729. >You reach out and grab her by the shoulders. A shiver travels down the length of her body at your touch.
  730. >As she sits there, her hips start intermittently jerking back and forth. A small wet spot has begun to spread on the sheets between her legs. The whole time her eyes are glued to you.
  731. "Celly, I need you to be strong here. Try to stay in control."
  732. >”But it feeeels sooooo...”
  733. > She trails off as her eyes start to lose their focus. She vigorously shakes her head in an attempt to clear the haze. In no time at all her tail has been soaked and is flicking her liquids at you.
  734. >"N-No, no, you're right Anon. I need to stay calm."
  735. >She takes several deep breaths and slows the frequency of her jerking hips. Breathing in and out, she sits herself up straight and places her hooves neatly in front of her.
  736. "Can't you do anything about that?" You point at the tail flicking back and forth under her rear, a few drops from her splashing on your arm.
  737.  
  738. >She raises an eyebrow at you before looking down between her legs. A blush spreads all the way to her ears as some of it is flicked onto her nose. Bringing her head back up she focuses with all her might. Determined to get herself under control, before turning to you and smiling sheepishly.
  739. >"I can't seem to get it to stop."
  740. "I see."
  741. >She fidgets nervously as your arm and her bandages get wetter and wetter.
  742. "Well, Celestia I want to throw these sheets in the laundry." You pat the vomit stained covers.
  743. >She looks down at the mess she made and sighs in understanding.
  744. "The, uh, the sheet that you're currently sitting on Celestia."
  745. >She looks up at you with alarm. She looks down at her sides before whimpering.
  746. "Do you, um, need help?" She stares daggers at you, a crazed look in her eyes while her nostrils flare.
  747. >"P-please, don't ask me something like that right now..." The increasingly restless pony says with a shudder.
  748. "Shit, sorry, I mean help with getting up." She takes a deep breath and shakes her head.
  749. >"No, I think I want to try on my own. I just need to get to the pillows, right?" You nod. "Right. Could you, um, look away, Anon?
  750. "Right, sure thing." You spin on the spot.
  751.  
  752. >"Unf."
  753. "You say something?"
  754. >"Me?! No, no! Never!" You listen closely as she takes a deep breath and starts making strained grunts.
  755. >Your ears are soon greeted by the sound of bed springs, and you picture Celestia carefully making her way. You panic as she lets out an 'oof' and collapses to the bed. Turning back so fast you think your head might snap off, you see Celestia in all her shameful glory.
  756. She only made it a few short shaky steps before a foreleg gave out, causing her front half to fall to the bed. Her wings flap uselessly by her sides as she attempts to right herself.
  757. >You would leap to the occasion, but the sight of her has left you stunned.
  758. >Her rear is thrust into the air on shaky legs, her bandaged rear swaying back and forward as she tries to push herself back up. She winks at you. A thin viscous trail leading from her to the sheets below, staining the bed with her forward progress due to her current condition.
  759. >"A little help, A-Anon?" Her muffled voice pleads.
  760. >You grunt in reply and step forward alongside her. Carefully hooking an arm under her chest, you delicately lift and pull her upright. Her body shivers at your touch and she lets out a gasp.
  761. "Easy, Celly." You gently support her the rest of the short way, trying to ignore her wet tail that now flicks against your back.
  762. You help her sit just before the pillows and tear of the sheets.
  763. "Just call out if you need me, okay?"
  764. >"Oh, I sure will, Anon..." You raise an eyebrow at her but she just gives you a mischievous grin. Leaving Celesitia to her own devices briefly, you head to the laundry and fill a sink with water and detergent to let the sheets soak overnight. You also throw your dirty clothes in the washing machine and set it to a short cycle. As you finish, you hear your name echoing down the hallway from your room.
  765.  
  766. "Celestia?!"
  767. >You thunder down the hallway, your mind bringing forth all the worst possible scenarios. The most prominent one a vivid picture of her crumpled form fallen to the floor. You round the doorway at the end of the hall. You face immediately goes neutral.
  768. >Celestia is sitting on her pillow, Her hips grinding back and forth on the now sodden thing, while her nose is pressed deeply into your pillow, her nostrils flaring constantly as she drowns herself in your scent. Her cheek stretched into a stupid grin as she smiles with half lidded eyes.
  769. >"A-Anon... Anon... Anon..."
  770. >Her movements intensify as you stand there, paralyzed by the sight in front of you. Her body spasms erratically as she rushes onward to her own climax, hips jerking and thrusting, smearing her essence all over her own pillow as she stimulates herself.
  771. >”Anoooon, I’m gonnnnaaaaooooOOOOOOOHHHH”
  772. >She shudders hard and cums. You can hear the splattering sound of her liberally soaking the bed with her fluids. A massive tremor rocking through her body while she loses herself in the moment. Hips bucking wildly as she tries to extract every extra sensation she possibly can from the moment.
  773. >She carries on in a babbling way the whole time, her hooves grabbing weakly at the mattress while she rides the monstrous wave crashing through her body. Finally, after a few moments of frantic movement, she begins to slow. Her body quivering in the afterglow of her actions. Once it seems like she’s finally settled, she slowly pulls her face out of your pillow. A dopey smile plastered on it.
  774. >”Thankssss ssssooo much, Annnnooonnn.”
  775. “You know you're sleeping on that right?” You blurt out from the doorway, snapping yourself out of your own reverie.
  776. >She turns and smiles obliviously at you.
  777. >"Doooon't be silllly, Anon. Of course I know thaaat..." Balancing precariously on 3 hooves, she kicks off the used pillow to the floor. She looks at the scatterings of wet patches on her side. A giggle escapes her lips as she walks over and lies in it without any further comment.
  778. >Letting out a yawn, the large white pony slowly spreads her legs and lays her head down where the pillow used to be. A large snore shortly escapes from her, leaving you alone to deal with the aftermath of everything that happened tonight.
  779.  
  780. >There’s dried mare cum. and the heavy smell of Celestia’s exertions hanging thickly in the air. Most importantly though, is the large tent in your pants that leaves you wondering about a great many things.
  781. “What the fuck, man.”
  782. >You resolve to deal with the situation in the morning due to being too tired to give a shit right now. You crawl up next to Celestia and whisper goodnight before turning out the light. She latches onto you and pulls herself close, nestling her chin on your chest. Any lingering thoughts are pushed to the wayside as fatigue catches up to you and you drift off to sleep.
  783.  
  784. Part 5
  785.  
  786. >A bird chirps. Hair tickles your nostrils. Light slowly creeps into the corner of your eyes, stirring you from your peaceful slumber. A warm, soft, and velvety sensation rubs up against your exposed skin. You mindlessly reach out and hold it closer, eliciting a pleased murmur in response. The wet patch on your leg feels cool as air slowly rolls over it.
  787. >Wait… Wet?
  788. >Your eyes snap open and look down. You’re greeted by a large, multi-coloured swath of hair; and a long white horn that juts out from the midst of it all. Hind legs shift on your lower half as Celestia slowly grinds her hips back and forth against your leg. The strong scent of her musk is thick in your throat.
  789. >The big white pony spoons your side. You try sitting up in the bed and she moans her objection, her hooves tugging on you.
  790. “Hey.”
  791. >She rubs her muzzle in your chest.
  792. “Heeey.”
  793. >Her ears fold back.
  794. “I’d love to stay like this, Celestia, but my leg is getting a bit soggy.”
  795. >Her body tenses and she pushes away from you.
  796. >”I just- I didn’t try to- I- you-” She retreats onto her stained side of the bed.
  797. “Morning, big girl. How you feeling this morning?”
  798. >”A-Anon! I, um-”
  799. “Don’t worry about it. I’ve already forgotten.”
  800. >She places a hoof to her chest and lets out a sigh of relief.
  801. “Though I will have to drag the mattress outside and wash it down.”
  802. >Her ears fold back against her head.
  803. “You want some breakfast? You did dump your dinner on the bed last night.”
  804. >She tilts her head.
  805. “Y’know, some food?”
  806. >”Oh. O-oh yes. Uh, Please!
  807. >You make for the door but she speaks out.
  808. >“U-Um, Anon?”
  809. “Yes, Celly?”
  810. >You turn back to Celestia nervously fretting on the edge of the bed. Slowly edging one of her bandaged hooves down to the floor, and retracting it when it can’t reach. She gives you a nervous look.
  811.  
  812. “You want to come along?”
  813. >”Y-yes, please. C-can you help me down, Anon?”
  814. “You’re not gonna make another mess if I touch you, are you?”
  815. >She snorts indignantly and avoids your gaze, but sits back and raises her forelegs for you regardless.
  816. “Hey, just asking.”
  817. >You lift her the same way you did yesterday. She takes a sharp breath as your hands dig into her hindquarters, though she maintains her composure as you pick her up.
  818. >You turn around and take a step, but she pats your back with a hoof.
  819. >”Let me try walking, Anon.”
  820. “I don’t think you should be walking on those hooves…”
  821. >”Please, Anon.”
  822. >You frown, but set her down on the floor.
  823. >She stays seated, taking a few deep breaths before pushing herself up. She winces and her legs shake slightly. You move forward to help but she just shakes her head, a determined look on her face.
  824. >Eventually, she takes a painfully slow step forward. Then another. Each time her infected hoof takes her weight, she lets out a small grunt, her breathing getting progressively more ragged before she’s even made it out of the bedroom.
  825. “Need a hand?”
  826. >”I’m good!”
  827. >She stumbles as she trips on her own hooves. Only barely managing to catch herself before falling.
  828. “Here, let me help-”
  829. >”N-No!”
  830. >Her wings limply flare out, causing her to almost lose her balance again.
  831. “What's wrong, Celestia?”
  832. >”It’s just… You’ve helped me so much already, Anon. I just want to try doing something with my own hooves for a change...”
  833. “Alright. I’ll leave you to it then.”
  834. >She resumes her slow limp to the room’s exit, stopping soon at the doorway. Her neck stretches as she looks down the hall. A large number of doorways line the sides.
  835. “Something wrong?”
  836. >”Which room do you keep the food in, Anon?”
  837. “The kitchen?”
  838. >She nods.
  839. “Straight down the hall to the end, on your right.”
  840. >She gulps as you point down the several metre long hallway.
  841.  
  842. “I’ll lead the way, if you want.” You move in front of her.
  843. >”P-Please.”
  844. >After taking a moment to prepare herself, she takes a pained step and falls in behind you.
  845. >You attentively walk ahead of her, though it isn’t long before she gets slower. Yelping louder each time she forces a hoof to take her weight. Having to stop every couple of metres as she cringes and curls a hoof to her chest in pain.
  846. >You’re only halfway to the kitchen when her knees have begun shaking violently. Pained whimpers escape from her as she takes longer and longer between each step. In short time her forward momentum has completely halted, and she just tries desperately to place some weight on her front hoof over and over again.
  847. >Before you can react in time, she plants the hoof on the ground and lets out a cry of pain as she tries to surge forward. Her forelegs give out and she goes crashing to her chest. A frustrated cry rings down the corridor.
  848. “Celestia!!” You reach out to help her.
  849. >”No!”
  850. “But-”
  851. >“No!”
  852. >She tries to right herself in a panic, but a back leg slips. Her rear tips to one side and she flails as she goes crashing into a wall.
  853. >Collapsed on the floor in exhaustion, a shudder goes through her body. Tears creep into the corner of her eyes and she smacks the ground with a hoof before cringing in pain.
  854. >”It’s not fair...”
  855. “Celestia…”
  856. >”It’s not fair, Anon! It’s not fair!”
  857. “Hey, hey. It's oka-”
  858. >“No! It’s not ‘okay’!
  859. >She flails again. A hopeless endeavour.
  860. >”I’ve dreamed about this for so long,” she sobs.
  861. >”To be able to walk further than the bars of my cage!”
  862. >Her flailing dies out and she lies awkwardly on her side.
  863. “You can still-”
  864. >”Can I?! Look at these legs!” She wiggles the emaciated appendages wrapped in bandages. “Look at what’s been done to me!”
  865.  
  866. >You say nothing.
  867. >”Look at what's been done to us!”
  868. >There isn’t anything you can say here.
  869. >”We asked you monsters for help!”
  870. >There’s a blind fury behind her tears.
  871. >”Our world was falling apart! My ponies were dying!”
  872. >She struggles again to right herself.
  873. >”You promised us compassion, but left us in chains!”
  874. >She can’t even support her weight and collapses again. She tries dragging her body towards yours, but even that causes too much pain.
  875. >”You lied to me. You said you would help us. You tricked me! You took them all away!”
  876. >You sit down on the ground right next to her. She weakly strikes your leg.
  877. >”My subjects!” She lets out a choking sob.
  878. >“My students!” She crumples to the ground.
  879. >“My sister…” She buries her face in her hooves and wails at the top of her lungs.
  880. >”Luna!!!” She cries in a long, tormented scream.
  881. >You reach over and softly stroke her neck.
  882. >”I’m so sorry!!!” The apology stretches on as her voice cracks and body shudders.
  883. >She deteriorates into an incoherent babbling mess. Little blurts of ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘it’s my fault’ come through from time to time. Every time you think she’s about to settle down, something sets her off and the whole thing starts again.
  884. >At some point along the way, she deposited her head in your lap while you gently consoled her. After a long while, she eventually settles enough that she’s just lightly sobbing and sniffling.
  885. >*Sniff*
  886. “Hey.”
  887. >*Sniff* *Sniff*
  888. “Hey.”
  889. >”...What?” She stays in your lap and doesn’t open her eyes.
  890. “I’m sorry, I don’t know much about what happened.”
  891. >She flinches.
  892. “But someday -- if you’re ever feeling up to it -- I’d like to hear about it from you.”
  893. >She looks up at you with red eyes. You can’t read the pained expression on her face, but you’d like to think she was considering it.
  894. “But as for what I do know? Well…”
  895. >“Hmm?”
  896. “The first time I saw you yesterday, you struggled to walk around in your cage.”
  897.  
  898. >She glares at you while you just continue to rub the side of her neck.
  899. “The second time, you made it beyond your cage. All on your own. In that kind of state.”
  900. >”Hmph.”
  901. “I just cleaned you up yesterday. And even with your hooves in that condition; on your third attempt, you made it from the bed all the way here.”
  902. >She lifts her head up and looks back down the several metres she just walked.
  903. “At this rate you’ll be able to run miles in a couple of weeks!”
  904. >She scoffs.
  905. “Baby steps, Celestia, is all I’m saying. We’ll get you there. One step at a time if necessary. And I’ll be here every step of the way to catch you if you fall, okay?”
  906. >She frowns and looks down at her legs. Celestia contemplates for a few seconds before she rubs her face on your leg to dry her eyes.
  907. >”O-okay, Anon. If you say so, then I have no choice but to obey.”
  908. >You jolt while Celestia grins at you with puffy cheeks.
  909. >”I’m a bit hungry though, could you, um, maybe help me to the kitchen, Anon?”
  910. “I’d love to. Do you want me to carry you? Or just help you walk?”
  911. >”M-my hooves are a bit too sore after all that. I-if it’s not too much trouble, c-could you please carry me, Anon?”
  912. >You bend down and assist her in righting herself before picking her up. She doesn’t say much as you take her into the kitchen and carefully deposit her into a chair seated at a nearby dining table.
  913. >You whip up a meal similar to yesterdays, with the exception of some toast for you; and before long you're both eating in a comfortable silence. Back straight and head held high, she sits properly at the table and munches on her food.
  914. >Every now and then you also reach over and help Celestia drink from a glass of water. Thankfully, the malnourished pony shows much more self-restraint this time, so scraps aren’t flying everywhere. You clean up when you’re both finished, leaving Celestia to idly scratch a bandaged hoof.
  915.  
  916. “Celestia?”
  917. >”Yes, Anon?”
  918. “I need to clean up several things after yesterday. Do you think you’d be alright by yourself?”
  919. >”By myself?”
  920. “That’s what I said, right?”
  921. >”I can do whatever I want?”
  922. “Well, if you start punching holes in the walls then I’m gonna be a bit upset. But yea, I can put the T.V. on if you want to watch something. Or I can grab a book for you to read.”
  923. >Sitting at the table, hooves fidgeting on her seat; she looks a bit lost.
  924. >”I… I don’t know what to say, Anon.”
  925. “What do you mean?”
  926. >”You’re just… Letting me?”
  927. “Is there a problem?”
  928. >”Anon… Why did you buy me?”
  929. >You pause.
  930. “Because I promi-”
  931. >”You could have bought any pony, Anon.”
  932. “I could have.”
  933. >”Any other pony who wouldn’t bite you and wouldn’t need care.”
  934. “That’s true”
  935. >”You found me locked in a corner of hell. And it felt like someone had thrown away the key.”
  936. “It certainly seemed that way.”
  937. >”I’ll be honest, Anon.” She looks at you with piercing purple eyes, an intelligence behind them that had been hiding up until now. “What are you planning to use me for?”
  938. >You purse your lips and think for a bit. She may not be 100% herself at the moment, but this might be a good a time as any to start cluing her in.
  939. “I wanted to wait until you were a bit better, but I guess now will do.”
  940. >She immediately tenses and retreats as far back into the chair as she can. Her eyes flick away from you and start scanning the exits.
  941. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Celestia relax.”
  942. She looks at you with wary eyes.
  943. “Stay with me, girl. Hold your judgement until I’m done, please.”
  944. >”Not like I have much of a choice in the matter...”
  945. >You wait a moment for her to calm down.
  946. >”Be honest with me, Anon. Please. I won’t go back there.”
  947. “Won’t go back?”
  948. >”I won’t be caged again, Anon. No matter what.” Her voice is steady and her eyes never leave yours.
  949.  
  950. “Alright. I can understand that.”
  951. >She takes a few steadying breaths as you walk over to her and take a seat.
  952. “Where to start? Hmmm...” You rub your chin.
  953. “I tried to find one of the others of course.”
  954. >”Other what, Anon?”
  955. “I have a few hints as to where they are., but you were the closest one.”
  956. >”Anon?”
  957. “A lot of work went into making sure nobody important could find you, of course. But someone always slips up.”
  958. >”Anon. Please.”
  959. “I made a promise.”
  960. >”We’ve been over thi-”
  961. “Not just to help one pony, but to help them all.”
  962. >Her brow furrows and she looks down at the table. All the while her eyes flick from side to side.
  963. “And I said to myself, what's the best way? I mean, I could throw money at the issue. But that wouldn’t do.
  964. >”No.”
  965. “I needed to do something more lasting. I needed someone more lasting.
  966. >”No, Anon.”
  967. “There are growing movements for ponies, Celestia.
  968. >”I can’t do it.”
  969. “They’re building momentum.”
  970. >”You saw the way those other ponies reacted at the sight of me!
  971. “But they keep falling short. Keep failing at critical moments, no matter who takes charge.”
  972. >”They would bite me through the cages!”
  973. “They need a figurehead. Someone to rally around. Someone to lead them.”
  974. >”No! Not again!”
  975. >She springs from the chair and tries to run. Unfortunately -- upon landing -- her weak legs give out, eliciting a yelp and sending her sprawling across the tiled floor. The terrified mare spastically tries to get her hooves under herself.
  976. >You get up out of the chair and pace towards her.
  977. >”No, no, no, no, NO!”
  978. “They need a princess.”
  979. >”I can’t do it, Anon!”
  980. “So I went and found one.”
  981. >“I’ll fail them again!”
  982. “You know, it cost considerably more to find you than to buy you.”
  983. >She scrambles frantically as you get closer.
  984. “It seems someone went to a lot of effort to make sure you would all disappear.”
  985.  
  986. >You sit down and rub her side, cooing softly to her. She struggles valiantly to get away, but it's no use.
  987. “I’m still searching for the other princesses, y’know.”
  988. >She stops. Ears suddenly swivel. Her panicked movements become calm and she slowly settles her breathing.
  989. >”Y-you’re still looking for them?”
  990. “Yup.”
  991. >”A-And you won’t stop looking for them?”
  992. “Nope.”
  993. >”E-Even if I refuse to help you?”
  994. “Then that’s even more reason to find them”
  995. >She goes quiet.
  996. “Celestia. You want to be free, right?”
  997. >”... What do you think?”
  998. “Even if we get you through recovery, and I opened the door and let you go wherever you want. You would be brought back to me by the end of the week.”
  999. >”Just get to the point, Anon.”
  1000. “Whether we like it or not, you’re my property by law. And the only way around that is for you to earn your freedom. And not just for yourself.”
  1001. >”But what if I don’t want to be free, Anon?”
  1002. “If you’re so fond of your chains, then I can buy a nice pretty cage to keep you in.”
  1003. >”That’s not what I meant.” She huffs and starts trying to right herself.
  1004. >You gently help her back to her own hooves. She doesn’t run. Instead choosing to sit, facing you.
  1005. “I know, I know. I’m not saying you have to be ready to go give speeches a month from now. But, Celestia, sooner or later you need to face this. I need you to face this.”
  1006. >”So you can keep that promise, right?”
  1007. “What? No... I’m just in it so I can tell people I know a princess, dummy.” You stick your tongue out at her.
  1008. >”Anon...” She tries to look serious, but a small smile creeps into the corner of her lips.
  1009. “Look, I know you probably don’t want to hear it from a human, but I see what’s happening. A lot of people do. But a lot of us are scared about what it might cost to change things.”
  1010.  
  1011. >”And you aren’t?”
  1012. “Oh, I am. But I also think it might be a bit exciting! That and, well, y’know”
  1013. >”The promise.”
  1014. “Right”
  1015. >”...Would you mind telling me about that, Anon?” She puts a bandaged hoof on your arm.
  1016. “Maybe one day we can swap stories.” You lightly squeeze her hoof in return.
  1017. “But for now, how about I drop you off in front of the T.V. and leave you to watch something while I go clean up everything?”
  1018. >She closes her eyes. You patiently sit in front of her, waiting for her decision. She opens them again after a short while and smiles at you.
  1019. >”I think I’d like that, Anon. But, um, before that...”
  1020. “Yea?”
  1021. >”I’m a bit, err, well, not exactly at my freshest right now. In fact, I think I’m staining the floor a bit at the moment…”
  1022. >She hoists her body into the air briefly, a thin liquid trail stretching from her rear to the floor. She blushes and promptly sits back down with a small squelch.
  1023. “Jesus, is it just a permanent ‘all hands on deck’ situation when you take those pills?”
  1024. >”Believe it or not, this is actually better than normal. Usually, I can barely even comprehend the world around me.”
  1025. “Christ. I know it sucks, Celly, but we can’t get you off them just yet.”
  1026. >”I know, Anon. Don’t worry, I’ve made it this far, a little more won’t beat me. In fact, if it's not too much trouble…” She grins at you.
  1027. “What, you want me to get you a toy or something to help?”
  1028. >She goes bright red.
  1029. >”Wha- No, not a to-” She trips on her words and lets out a frustrated groan.
  1030. “Why don’t you have a chat with the vet about it?”
  1031. >”I don’t want a vet-” She pauses and brings a hoof to her chin. “-Wait, a vet? You found a vet for me?”
  1032. “Last night, remember?”
  1033. >”Ohhhh, right.” She furrows her brow in concentration, occasionally stealing a glance at you.
  1034.  
  1035. >”I think I do have a few questions for her, actually. When are we going?”
  1036. “I’ll give her a call soon. How about I get you a towel and we get you to the couch?”
  1037. >“Ok, Anon. Then, if you wouldn’t mind.” She again takes that adorable open armed pose and you pick her up.
  1038. >You carry her into the next room over and deposit her on the couch before running and grabbing a towel from the laundry. She thanks you as you place it on the couch, allowing her to lie curled up on her side on top of it.
  1039. >You pass her the remote and tell her the basic functions. A few experimental attempts later and she’s going at it like a natural. Leaving her, you go to the garage to inspect the damage.
  1040. >A wave of rancid putridness washes over you as you walk in the garage. You had left the boot and the windows open, and the entire place now reeks of vomit and Celestia’s horrendous smell from before you washed her.
  1041. >You retch and struggle to hold it in. Hitting the automatic door opener, you breathe in relief as fresh air can finally fill your lungs. While waiting for the room to be purged, you pull out a phone and give Emily a call.
  1042. >She answers the call, asking what you want in a displeased tone.
  1043. “Well, I want to pop in today so you can have a look at Celly.”
  1044. >”Oh, I thought you might have broken her. And this was you wanting me to tell you how to fix her again.”
  1045. “Please, the only thing that needs help fixing is the state of my car’s interior.”
  1046. >”Why, what happened?
  1047. >You look over at the stained blankets and the spattering of vomit.
  1048. “You don’t wanna know.
  1049. >”Wha-”
  1050. “Anyway, you free sometime today? Earlier if possible. I want to get her checked out before she needs another dose.”
  1051. >She grumbles into the phone.
  1052.  
  1053. >”Gimme a sec… Oi Stint! Stint!!! Stint, you blue balled prick!” Her voice echoes as she calls out.
  1054. >”What? I’ve got my hooves full here!” You hear the faint yelling of Stint somewhere far from the phone.
  1055. >”You free sometime today to help me check out the client from last night? Celly, or Kelly, or whatever the fuck the poor pony’s name was?”
  1056. >”Fucking who? Oh, shit, that’s right! Um, I’ve got some free time just after two!”
  1057. >”Alright, that works for me. I’ve got a big opening around then as well.”
  1058. >”That’s not the only big opening you’ve got, babe!”
  1059. >”Fuck you, Stint!”
  1060. >”You, offering? I mean, that’s how you got it in the first place, right?”
  1061. >”I swear to God, Stint!”
  1062. >”Ain’t no cock like horsecock. Send your asshole into sho-”
  1063. >You can’t hold it in anymore and let out a snicker.
  1064. >”Two o’clock, Anon?”
  1065. “Right, two o’clock works great, Emily.” You try to contain your laughter as Stint keeps singing in the background.
  1066. >”Keep laughing asshole. I’ll send you the address soon. Goodbye.
  1067. “Good-” You hear a beep as she hangs up on you. “-Bye…”
  1068. >You put your phone away and turn back to the task at hand, a grimace on your face, and fear in your heart. You roll up your sleeves and get to work.
  1069.  
  1070. >It’s almost 2 hours before you emerge from the garage. You’ve emptied the bucket, the car is cleaned, and your nose feels like it’s about to fall off your face. You deposit the filthy blankets in the washing machine and check on Celestia.
  1071. >She lies on her towel with a downturned face, her head propped up against an armrest.
  1072. >Manipulative montages of out of control ponies flash by on the television screen, and an anchor mumbles something about surges in slave related crimes.
  1073.  
  1074. >You grab the remote from next to her hoof and put on some David Attenborough shit about penguins.
  1075. >She smiles briefly at you, and you gladly return it. She goes back to watching though, her face falling a few moments later.
  1076. >You leave her be and move down the hallway to the bathroom.
  1077. >The room is actually in decent condition, though there are nasty yellow-brown splotches of residual water all over the place. At least the smell is bearable.
  1078. >Its short work, and in no time you finish up and head to your room. With a bit of effort and grunting, you flip the queen size mattress on its side and drag it down the hall, through the kitchen, and take it out the back via sliding screen door.
  1079. >After giving it a quick hose down and leaving it propped up against a wall to dry, you return to Celestia. The television is back on the news channel, and the poor mare looks on the verge of tears as the anchor talks about an incident where two escaped ponies had to be tranquilized and muzzled after attacking a mother and her child.
  1080. >You grab the remote from next to her and turn the television off.
  1081. “Hey, couch potato.” You scratch her ear to get her attention.
  1082. >She hums and leans into your hand. Her focus still on the the blank screen in front of her.
  1083. “You keep sitting there all day, you’re gonna get fat.”
  1084. >She scoffs and waves a skinny arm at you.
  1085. “You feeling okay?”
  1086. >”I’ll be alright, Anon. How did the cleaning go?”
  1087. “Ughh, I can still smell it in my nose. But, everything is clean now. Speaking of clean... ”
  1088. >Celestia tenses and folds her ears back.
  1089. “Now, Celestia. I’ve had a chat with Emily, and we’ve got you booked in around two o’clock. So, it’s up to you. Do you want to show up reeking of yourself and covered in filthy bandages?”
  1090. >”Uh, yes?” She bares her teeth in one of the largest, most unconvincing, and unnatural smiles you’ve ever seen.
  1091.  
  1092. “Wrong answer, Celly. C’mon” You bend down and try to pick her up.
  1093. >No, Anon! I don’t wanna!” She struggles halfheartedly against you.
  1094. >You lift her up onto her rear before quickly reaching down and hooking your hands around her haunches.
  1095. >”Wai- wha- oof- carefu- oh!”
  1096. >You freeze as one finger reaches too far in your struggles, brushing up against something wet.
  1097. >Her eyes go wide and her mouth forms a small ‘o’ shape. Like a switch just got flipped, she gives you a sultry smile and whispers in your ear.
  1098. >”I know you wanted to get me wet, Anon. But shouldn’t we be getting in the shower?”
  1099. >She chuckles at your silence as little pinpricks of heat burn on your face.
  1100. >The big white pony is laughing at you now, but as you carry her out of the living room and down the hallway, her mirth dies. By the time you’re at the doorway to the bathroom, she’s started shaking slightly.
  1101. “How you holding up, big girl?”
  1102. >”J-just take it s-slow, A-Anon.”
  1103. “No problem, we’ll go with the same rules as yesterday, okay? Left hoof: stop, right hoof: go. Sound good?”
  1104. >She taps your back with her right hoof.
  1105. >You make steady progress; only having to stop once just before you reach the large, 2 person tub.
  1106. >Celestia taps your back to stop. You immediately halt and rub her back reassuringly for a while. Eventually the shaking ceases.
  1107. >”A-Alright, Anon. L-Let’s get this out of the way.”
  1108. >You start up the water and gently extend her wing again. The whole time her body tremors slightly and she holds onto you for dear life, though this time she doesn’t signal for you to stop.
  1109. “Atta girl, atta girl.”
  1110. >She lets out a small muffled cry as you slowly immerse her, Although she never signals once for you to stop.
  1111. >Eventually you’re both under the stream, and Celestia seems to finally relax after a short while. You say nothing as you begin to unwrap her bandages and inspect the wounds.
  1112.  
  1113. >A lot of them are looking clean and healing well. Unfortunately, some of the worst ones don’t look like they’ve changed at all. Her infected hoof in particular still has the same concerning discolouration.
  1114. >You get to work shampooing her mane and coat like you did yesterday. A few dead bugs wash off her body as you brush your hand through the wet fur, but overall it's a much more pleasant experience than last time.
  1115. >You soon think that Celestia has tuned out, until she starts licking the bruise on your shoulder with her tongue. The flat, warm, and broad muscle moving over the purple outline of bite marks.
  1116. >She stops as you start washing her mane and wings. You carry on diligently until the mare in your lap starts humming. It’s not a tune you can place, though its warm sound relaxes you.
  1117. >Compared to yesterday though, it's over in a flash. You quickly extract the dripping mare from the tub and start drying her soaked fur.
  1118. >Celestia herself enthusiastically joins in again, working on her mane as you rub up and down her back and sides. You both swiftly burn through your dwindling clean towel supply in the process. Work proceeding smoothly until you run into a roadblock.
  1119. “Uh, Celestia…”
  1120. >”Yes, Anon?”
  1121. “Yesterday, you were so out of it that I sort of just went ahead and did it on my own.”
  1122. >”Did what anon?”
  1123. “Cleaned you.”
  1124. >”What do you mean, Anon? You’re cleaning me right now, aren’t you?”
  1125. “All of you.”
  1126. >”Yes, just like you’re doing now. Cleaning all of me. Every. Single. Last. Bit.” She shakes her bony hips from side to side with each word.
  1127. >You can’t see her face from your vantage point, but you know she’s wearing a shit eating grin right now.
  1128. “Celestia...”
  1129. >”If you want it so much, why don’t you take it?”
  1130. “Alright then, I tried to be diplomatic.” You reach out and hoist her tail out of the way.
  1131.  
  1132. >She lets out a yelp and flicks the sopping wet hairs in your face.
  1133. >”Oh, Anon! All you had to do was ask...” The hair is pulled through your hand as her tail flags on its own, presenting the rest of her ‘wet’ sections in all their confusing glory.
  1134. >You hear a small chuckle coming from Celestia. You try to ignore her as you press a towel up to her. She lets out a subdued moan and flicks her tail again.
  1135. >You can feel something moving back and forth under the towel as the heat soaks through to your hand. Your ears burn as you start rubbing the fur on and around her thighs and rear. In reality, it doesn’t take long at all to clean her up. But you could have sworn it took an eternity.
  1136. >You move onto her tail, pulling and tugging it every so often as you vigorously rub the water from it. Celestia grunts appreciatively every now and then, her hips shaking slightly, fueling the building heat in your groin as you try to remind yourself you’re cleaning a pony right now.
  1137. “You can lower it now.”
  1138. >”Aww.”
  1139. >She turns around with her now frizzy mane and pouts.
  1140. >“But I was just getting ‘warmed up’.” She snickers into a hoof.
  1141. >You sit there with your jaw hanging open. Where did this mare come from? What happened to the one who was screaming and crying in your lap just hours ago?
  1142. “Celestia? Are you feeling alright?”
  1143. >She waves a hoof bashfully at you.
  1144. >”Oh, Anon. I might be ‘under the influence’ at the moment, but I think we’re both feeling a bit ‘excited’ right now.” She points at your crotch where you know a tent is being made in your shorts.
  1145. >A gleeful smile is painted on her face while her nostrils start flaring ever so slightly.
  1146. “Celestia…”
  1147. >”Yeeesss, Anon?”
  1148. “Close your eyes and open your mouth.”
  1149.  
  1150. >”Her eyes shoot open wide with excitement before slamming shut. She begins rampantly breathing, although she still follows your command and opens her mouth. She extends her broad tongue out, eager to receive whatever she thinks you’re about to give her.
  1151. >Her ears flicker as you move around in front of her. A slight tremble goes through her whole body as you grab her chin. Her breathing intensifies and she pushes her tongue out even further, the end flat like a landing strip and dripping with saliva, ready to pull in whatever it can.
  1152. >”Aaaahhhhhhh.” She hums as she waits for you to act.
  1153. >You thrust the toothbrush into her mouth and start energetically scrubbing her teeth, a smirk on your face as Celestia opens her eyes in confusion.
  1154. >She looks down at her muzzle. Upon seeing your shorts still firmly on, she lets out a disappointed and frustrated groan. You chuckle and get to work, going over the relatively large yellow teeth and making sure to clean the inside of her mouth as thoroughly as you can.
  1155. >You take a while as you thoroughly brush each tooth, and Celestia starts to get bored. Halfway through, she suddenly grins and looks up at you, mischief in her eyes. You wonder what she’s up to.
  1156. >As you push the brush deeper into her mouth to get at some further back teeth, her tongue wraps around your fingers holding the brush. You jolt and stare at it.
  1157. >She lets out a moan from her open maw and starts rolling her tongue back and forth over your digits, coating them with saliva. The rough surface of her equine tongue dragging up, down, over, and around them with amazing dexterity.
  1158. >You clear your throat and double down, increasing the intensity of your brushing. Celestia reciprocates and increases her pace. Her tongue now rolling back and forth fluidly, dragging along the skin and applying mild pressure to your fingers as you thoroughly clean each tooth.
  1159.  
  1160. >By the time you’ve finished, you’re almost working up a sweat. You look up from her mouth to see Celestia smiling with half lidded eyes at you.
  1161. “Umm.”
  1162. >”Yethh?” She says as she continue to minister your fingers with her tongue.
  1163. “I need to, uh, clean that too. Could you please stop for a moment?”
  1164. >”Oh... Aaaahhhhhhh.”
  1165. >She splays it out, allowing you to grab a hold. A smug look on her face as you scrape the gunk off of it, changing the colour of the dexterous muscle from a slight yellow, to a more healthy light pink in no time at all.
  1166. “Ok... All done!”
  1167. >You pull your hand from her mouth. The mare grunts, her maw closing down around your retreating digits.
  1168. >Her tongue rolls back and forth behind pursed lips as she licks and sucks on them. She trembles as you slowly extract them from her mouth. Finally pulling them free with a wet plop.
  1169. >You fall back, slightly out of breath; as Celestia hums with closed eyes, savouring your taste.
  1170. >”Mmmm… Salty…”
  1171. “Celestia… wha-”
  1172. >”Hey. Anon.”
  1173. “...What?
  1174. >“I think my backside is still a bit wet.” She wiggles her eyebrows and shakes her rump. “Could you ‘clean it’ for me?”
  1175. >You heave a nearby soggy towel at her, striking her square in the muzzle with a ‘fwomp’. She lets out a giggle as it slides down her face.
  1176. >You’re a bit overwhelmed from all the things that just happened, but you soon join in with her. A nice bout of sincere laughter shared between you as Celestia awkwardly finishes drying herself.
  1177. >You give Celestia’s mane and tail a quick brush, before wrapping her hooves in bandages again. Most of the other wounds have already healed over quite significantly, so you leave them be.
  1178. >After another silent moment passes between you when you lend her some assistance going to the toilet -- a moment you both make unspoken promises never to speak of again -- you inspect your handiwork.
  1179.  
  1180. >Celestia looks even better than she did after her first wash. Her fur is starting to maintain a smoother consistency, and her mane and tail hair is now a bit bouncy with a subtle healthy shimmer.
  1181. >Nodding with satisfaction, you pick her up and carry her towards the now clean car. She mewls in satisfaction as you pass the mirror, hugging you tight. Another small whisper of ‘thank you’ reaching your ears.
  1182. >You bring her around to the back of the garage and deposit her on the edge of the boot. Although as you pull away, she tugs on your back. You stay awkwardly bent over as you wait patiently, bracing yourself for what could happen if she’s still in her mood and wants to mess with you.
  1183. >”Please don’t abandon me.”
  1184. >She mutters so quietly you can barely hear her.
  1185. “Never.” You whisper back and return the hug.
  1186. >Separating a short while later; you stand up, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. You open them and nod to her.
  1187.  
  1188. “You ready to go to the vet, Celly?”
  1189. >She smiles at you.
  1190. >”I’m ready, Anon. Although, you might want to put on some clothes first...”
  1191.  
  1192. Part 6
  1193.  
  1194. >The steady rumbling of the road passing under the car helps you settle into an automatic rhythm. Feet instinctively shift on the pedals to make slight adjustments, your mind barely taking note of the other cars as you speed down the motorway.
  1195. >The radio is off as the humming of the car engine helps your mind wander, only coming back to reality when interrupted by small intermittent sounds coming from behind you.
  1196. >You angle the rear view mirror down to keep an eye on Celestia lying on her side on a nest of blankets in the back. To your surprise, she actually started preening a wing shortly after you got on the motorway.
  1197. >She makes a small humming sound every now and then, her face buried in the large extremity. She’ll tend to a feather, nibble on it for a bit, and maybe spit out a dead bug; before carefully aligning it with the one next to it, proceeding methodically down the entire length of her large wingspan. A small collection of broken or otherwise tarnished feathers are deposited neatly next to her.
  1198. “You enjoying yourself back there?”
  1199. >She pulls her face out of the array of white feathers and spits a few times. Scowling and smacking her lips in disgust, she extends the wing fully to evaluate her progress.
  1200. >”Next time we shower, Anon, I need to show you how to properly clean these.”
  1201. “What? Want to look good for the vet, ay?”
  1202. >”A mare likes to look nice from time to time, Anon. Even if she’s not at her best.”
  1203. >You chuckle and make a quick lane change before glancing back again. Celestia solemnly strokes her skinny foreleg with a hoof.
  1204. “Hey.”
  1205. >She meets your eyes in the rear view mirror.
  1206. “Once we get you patched up, I think you’ll look like royalty.”
  1207. >”Oh, really? I didn’t know you were into starving slave ponies, Anon.”
  1208. >The words have bite but her tone is playful.
  1209.  
  1210. “Me? Nah, I’m still undecided on the whole ‘into ponies’ thing.”
  1211. >”Is that so?” She sounds a bit dejected.
  1212. “Eeyup.”
  1213. >”Well, I think another part of you was being a bit more honest in the shower.” She wiggles her eyebrows at you, a small grin on her face.
  1214. “That… may be true. But I wasn’t the only one enjoying that moment, Celly.”
  1215. >She frowns at the use of her nickname, though she pushes onward.
  1216. >”I’m not complaining. Those hands certainly were good at ‘drying’ me off.”
  1217. >You spot her tongue slowly licking around her lips. You clear your throat. Heat starts slowly building in your cheeks while a bead of sweat drips down your forehead. The memory of what you felt through the towel causes you to grip the steering wheel tighter.
  1218. “I-I can’t believe my own slave would take advantage of me like that!” Although you try your best to sound shocked, the excitement in your voice betrays you.
  1219. >”Oh, Anon…” She murmurs softly before looking at her hooves.
  1220. >With a mighty grunt she suddenly pushes to herself to a standing position.
  1221. “Celestia! What are you doing?!” Your foot hovers over the break as your eyes flick back forth to her shaking form in the rear-view mirror.
  1222. >”Relax, Anon! I’m-” She grunts with effort and pain, her wobbling exacerbated by the unsteady car. “I-I’m alright. Please, just focus on the road.”
  1223. >You open your mouth in protest, but a smile on her face disarms you. You carefully watch her while affording as much extra care to your driving as you can manage.
  1224. >She slowly comes closer and closer to you, her head popping out of your sight as she moves out of the mirror’s field of vision. The only thing left for you to see is her skinny white backside with its multi-coloured tail that flicks from side to side. After a few moments you feel her hot breath on your ear.
  1225. >”I can always return the favour and ‘dry’ you off, Anon.”
  1226.  
  1227. >You feel your heartbeat hammering in your ears as your brain fumbles for a response. At the same time a car in a side lane merges without warning and cuts out in front of you. You instinctively press on the brakes, sending you lurching forward and causing the mare at your ear to fall into the back of the seat.
  1228. >”Oof.”
  1229. >After spending a few tense moments backing off from the car in front, you turn and check on Celestia. She’s lying on the lowered seats between her side and her back, her wing wedged under her and a few legs weakly propped up against the front seats after the sudden fall. She’s holding her head and neck up at an angle pressed against a door, allowing her whole mid-section to fit awkwardly across the car.
  1230. “Celly! Are you alright?”
  1231. >One of her eyes looks over to you and she pokes her tongue out.
  1232. >”Never better, Anon.”
  1233. >She carefully picks herself up and sits in a more comfortable position while you check back on the road.
  1234. >“Although, I didn’t know you were into abusing mares.”
  1235. “You cheeky little...”
  1236. >You smirk as Celestia gives you a coy grin.
  1237. “Just be more careful, okay? I don’t want to have to put you in that harness again.”
  1238. >You bring your attention back to the motorway as your exit is coming up.
  1239. >”Oh, I think you and I would both enjoy that.”
  1240. >Your taken by surprise again as a feather caresses your ear. A shudder runs through your body and you look past the extended wing to see Celestia with a strained smile on her face.
  1241. “Is it alright? Your wing that is.”
  1242. >”What? Oh, yes. It's fine.”
  1243. >She’s taken out of the moment and retracts the appendage before giving it a small flex. She carefully inspects it before folding it and pulling it back to her side.
  1244. >”Yes, it’s fine. I really need to start building up the strength in it though. And food will go a long way with that.”
  1245.  
  1246. “Now you’re saying something I can get behind.”
  1247. >Celestia snorts before laughing to herself.
  1248. >You smile, but a question has started burning in the back of your mind.
  1249. “Hey, Celestia?”
  1250. >”What is it, Anon?”
  1251. >You purse your lips. You need to start broaching this topic sooner rather than later.
  1252. “Um… Not really sure how to ask honestly.”
  1253. >”Just ask, Anon.” She backs up a bit and lies down on her stomach.
  1254. >You take a deep breath.
  1255. “Do those wings actually work? I mean, you really can fly, can’t you?”
  1256. >You glance back down and see a frown on her downcast face.
  1257. “Look, I’ve heard about the source of the sickness.” You begin as you take the exit off the motorway.
  1258. >”And? What do you think?”
  1259. >You stay silent for a few moments.
  1260. “Magic, Celestia?”
  1261. >”Your point?”
  1262. “You’re asking us to believe in magic.”
  1263. >”You don’t trust us.”
  1264. “I trust you, Celestia. I need to and I want to.”
  1265. >She fidgets with her hooves, but doesn’t say anything else.
  1266. “It makes sense in a few ways. I mean, why else would so many of you have wings and horns that you can’t even use?”
  1267. >”I know where this is going, Anon. I’ve heard it before.”
  1268. “All that most people have seen -- since Equestria popped into existence in the middle of the Pacific Ocean -- is a veritable tsunami of sick refugees flooding in from a disaster ravaged land.”
  1269. >”Your kind helped considerably with that, Anon.” Her tone is taking on a sharp edge.
  1270. “Just, let me finish.”
  1271. >You look back and catch her staring daggers at you. You need to tread lightly here.
  1272. “These sick refugees, who can’t do human work and struggle with human machines; start talking about all these riches and great powers they used to have.”
  1273. >”And then you give us a cure that cripples us.” Her voice gets louder with each passing moment. Venom starting to drip off each word.
  1274.  
  1275. “And the people who make it charge you an arm and a leg even though it stops your suffering, turning you into indentured persons. Yes, I know.”
  1276. >”So, why bring it up?!”
  1277. “That’s not what I want to talk about!”
  1278. >”Then what do you want to talk about, Anon?!” She yells and looks away, ears flicking in irritation.
  1279. “You must know how it all sounds!”
  1280. >”Was it that hard to listen to us in our slums?” Her voice cracks.
  1281. “Celestia-”
  1282. >“Family members would disappear in the middle of the night, only to be found later in chains.”
  1283. “No, Celestia-”
  1284. >”I begged on my stomach, only for your kind to shrug your shoulders and say you were working on it!”
  1285. “Celestia!!!”
  1286. >You shout as you turn onto a long country road.
  1287. >She flinches and lowers her head, resting it limply on the ground in between her hooves.
  1288. “I need to know.”
  1289. >Her ears fold back against her head.
  1290. >”Why?”
  1291. ”Because if we’re going to go ahead with what we have planned, you need to prepare a better response than that.”
  1292. >She huffs.
  1293. “Also, if we’re going to emancipate all of pony kind-”
  1294. >Her ears perk up.
  1295. “-Then we need to plan for these -- I dunno, fucking super powers or whatever -- reappearing.”
  1296. >She slowly looks up at you, a questioning look on her face.
  1297. >”You believe us, Anon?”
  1298. >You sigh.
  1299. “I’m going to ask this once, Celestia. And I’m going to trust whatever you say here.”
  1300. >She wearily brings herself upright as you start scanning for house numbers on the rare and far apart driveways.
  1301. “Did you use to be able to fly and use magic? And, if it somehow comes back, can you use it again?”
  1302. >You quickly turn and find her looking you straight in the eye. Not a hint of doubt on her face. You look away and wait for her response.
  1303. >”Yes, Anon. And it will come back one day. I can’t tell you why... But -- somehow -- I just know.”
  1304.  
  1305. >You grunt and rub the bridge of your nose with your fingers.
  1306. “Alright Celestia. If you say so, then I’ll trust you.”
  1307. >She lets out a sigh of relief.
  1308. >”Thank you, Anon. It really does mean a lot to me.
  1309. “No worries. We’ve arrived by the way.”
  1310. >You point through the windscreen at a driveway next to a large wooden sign. A warm but faded image of a blonde woman standing next to a horse with a bandaged leg is painted to the side of the words ‘Emily’s Equine Veterinary Practice’.
  1311. >In addition to that is a sloppily painted bright blue blob -- that could be mistaken for a pony -- floating on the other side of the horse. The words ‘& co’ are also written messily with an arrow pointing into the space after ‘Emily’s’.
  1312. >As you turn down the long dirt driveway -- the dry grey-green and brown of bushland flickering by -- Celestia returns to her nest of blankets and lies down. You glance in the mirror and find her looking back at you with a small smile on her face.
  1313. >The main house soon comes into view as the dirt driveway gives way to pothole ridden asphalt. It’s a dilapidated wood and tin amalgamation that has some size to it. It also looks to be almost falling apart in several places. An old jeep sits covered in dirt out the front in the expansive yard of untended sun-dried yellow grass.
  1314. >An uneasy feeling has started to grow in your stomach as you come to a stop and hop out.
  1315. “I’ll check it out, you right to wait here for a bit?”
  1316. >You look back through the open window at Celestia. She still tries to smile at you, but you can see the subtle trembling of her body.
  1317. “Don’t worry. I won’t be far away.”
  1318. >”I-I’m a tough mare, Anon. I-I’ll be alright on my own.” She takes a few deep breaths to calm herself.
  1319.  
  1320. >”Atta girl. I’ve got the keys on me, so the car won’t start unless I’m around. You just sit tight, okay?”
  1321. >After she nods you give her a warm smile and start heading for the house.
  1322. >You walk through a miserable garden and up to the front door. As you get closer, you see a hammered on plaque that tells you the practice is operated in the back yard. You turn back to the car and see Celestia’s head peeking just over the bottom of a window frame.
  1323. >A look of concern is painted on her face.
  1324. >You point around the side and start walking.
  1325. >Her gaze briefly follows you, before she ducks back out of sight.
  1326. >You move around the side of the house, opening a wide side gate meant for cars to pass through, another sign on it with the name of the practice. As you come into the back yard proper, relief floods through you.
  1327. >After a short distance, the ground slopes gradually for a few hundred metres before levelling out. Sitting there on the flat landing is a small and welcoming house joined to a large barnyard-like structure with metal shutters built in intervals of several metres down the side.
  1328. >A large fenced off pasture of slightly greener grass sits to the side of it. A few horse-like figures are currently occupying it. You can make out the distinct size and colours of a decent number of ponies, as well as some horses.
  1329. >Beyond that are more rolling fields of long, overgrown, sun dried grass. It looks like there might even be a creek in the distance, but you can’t really tell.
  1330. >As you continue down the well-worn dirt road that leads to the white barn, you begin to take in a few details.
  1331. >The two groups aren’t close, located at opposite ends of the cordoned off area. The horses stand fairly spread apart and generally do nothing apart from wander and graze.
  1332.  
  1333. >On the other side, the ponies are standing -- or sitting on the ground -- in a circle. Their heads bobbing up and down in animated conversation. Faint voices carry on the air as they talk back and forth before a chorus of laughter breaks out. Many smaller ones -- colts or fillies, you can’t really tell -- are running around and playing with a soccer ball nearby.
  1334. >You’re about to reach the bottom of the slope when one of the kids spots you, pointing with a hoof and shouting something to the others. They all stop talking and turn towards you.
  1335. >You freeze mid stride as they stare at you. Neither one of you moving a muscle.
  1336. >As if an unheard starting gun went off, they all break out galloping towards you; slipping under and through the two bar fences of the enclosure, their hooves kicking up a cloud of dust as the herd thunders towards you.
  1337. >You feel like running, taking a glimpse at the building and the herd charging towards you. Though as the ponies get closer your fears fade away.
  1338. >The group isn’t running as one cohesive unit. A few ponies lag behind, all their faces stained with desperate looks of hope.
  1339. >One has half his face wrapped in bandages; another has a terrible limp, but no sign of injury. A Pegasus flaps a single wing uselessly as she runs, the disparate stump where the other one should be wiggles like an eyesore on her back.
  1340. >The front runner -- A unicorn -- has a broken shard of a horn. The jagged length standing as a monument to her hardships.
  1341. >They quickly descend upon and surround you. A raucous mob of shouting mouths who swarm you with a frantic fervour. The closest ones hopping up on their hind legs and placing their forelegs on your stomach, trying to get a good look at your face.
  1342. >A few of the more damaged looking ponies hang back and circle around you, cautiously taking in all the little details they can.
  1343.  
  1344. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, easy there.”
  1345. >This seems to be the cue they were looking for.
  1346. >”A new owner!”
  1347. >”Do you think he’s looking to buy?”
  1348. >”I hope he’s rich!”
  1349. >”He wouldn’t be here unless Emily told him about this place!”
  1350. >”Does anyone else think he smells a bit funny?”
  1351. >”Hey Mister, you looking for a pony?
  1352. “I’m not really-”
  1353. >”Back off, I saw him first!”
  1354. >”Horseapples you did!”
  1355. >”You wouldn’t need a florist would you?”
  1356. >“I used to be an accountant!”
  1357. >“I used to be teacher!”
  1358. >”I… can’t do anything, but I’m a good learner!”
  1359. “Everyone please, I’m not-”
  1360. >”Just take one of the little ones, please!”
  1361. >”He smells like a mare?”
  1362. >”Ooo, looks like he’s packing!”
  1363. >”I’ll suck yo dick if you’ll buy me!”
  1364. >You feel a hoof brush up against your crotch.
  1365. “Hey! Hands off!”
  1366. >”Yea! He’s mine!”
  1367. >”Put your tail down before I shove a hoof up your ass you whorse.”
  1368. >”Don’t even bother, she’d enjoy that.”
  1369. >”Won’t somebody please think of the colts and fillies?”
  1370. >You yelp as one of them bites your ass through your jeans.
  1371. “Who fucking did that?”
  1372. >You spin around, sending a few of the ponies on your front crashing harmlessly into their comrades, and see the stallion whose face was covered in bandages. The white wrappings covering a whole ear and eye as they envelop the top right section of his head.
  1373. >”I usually like to say I’m packing something thicker than your arm, but you are a big guy aren’t you?” He wiggles an eyebrow at you.
  1374. >At the same time you swear you can almost hear the sound of wet slapping coming from below him amidst the chaos surrounding you.
  1375. “Nope. Nu-uh, I’m done with this, where’s Emily?”
  1376. >You extricate yourself from the crowd of small horses and start storming towards the barn. A few of them sigh in disappointment while others continue to call out.
  1377.  
  1378. >You don’t make it very far before a heavy object collides with your thigh and latches on, sending you crashing to the ground. A chorus of children’s laughter rings out as the fillies and colts finally catch up and pile onto your back.
  1379. >”Wow, he’s big!”
  1380. >”Is he okay?”
  1381. >”He smells funny.”
  1382. >“Can you climb trees?”
  1383. >”His arms are hairy…”
  1384. >”Carry us, Mr Human!”
  1385. “Oi! Get off me, you little-”
  1386. >”That’s enough!”
  1387. >The young ponies on your back gasp and leap off immediately as a deep voice booms across the field.
  1388. >Gathering yourself and standing up, you look over to thank your unknown saviour.
  1389. >You feel your heart sink into your stomach as you see an especially worn down pony. A stallion with a faded patchwork black coat and a wispy grey mane and tail stands before you. Though he’s currently corralling the little ones and shooing them back to the main group.
  1390. >A deep line runs down the side of his old muzzle. Various collections of warped scar tissue cover his torso. Clear signs of burns and other foul mistreatments marked clearly upon his body by the sickening scars.
  1391. >”Forgive them, they’re at a curious point in their lives.”
  1392. >He tousles the blue mane of a grey colt and sends him off to join the rest of the group who are now watching you from a more reserved distance.
  1393. >You snap back to attention.
  1394. >”The rest of them should know better!” He yells behind his shoulder, causing a few of the adults to rub their forelegs sheepishly.
  1395. >Although that one stallion is still looking at you with hunger in his eyes. An involuntary shudder runs through your body.
  1396. “It’s, uh, it’s all good. No harm, no foul, right?”
  1397. >”Right…”
  1398. >He looks you up and down with hard eyes. A feat which he manages to make surprisingly intimidating despite his significantly shorter stature.
  1399.  
  1400. >“You here to buy something or get something fixed?”
  1401. “Oh, uh, looking to get something fixed. Name’s Anon by the way.”
  1402. >”Huh.” He grunts. “Emily said Stint should have been here to meet you, though who knows where that idiot’s run off to.”
  1403. “No kidding.”
  1404. >“She should be in the office right about now, should be fine if you walk right on in.”
  1405. “I see. Thank you, sir”
  1406. >”Bah.” He lets out a chuckle. “You’re another one of them strange ones, aren’t you?”
  1407. >You raise an eyebrow, but he just dismisses you with a hoof and starts walking back to the group.
  1408. >”False alarm, everybody. Let’s give him some space and head back.”
  1409. >A resounding disappointed ‘aww’ comes from the group, though they quickly turn and start marching towards the enclosure. A few energetic young ones twist their necks to look at you as they leave, curiosity burning in their eyes.
  1410. >As you watch them head off, your mind drifts back to Celestia sitting by herself in the car. So you start heading towards the office.
  1411. >As you get closer you can appreciate the size of the thing. While the front office isn’t that much bigger than a small one-storey, the large barn extension is easily bigger than a basketball court and looks to be in decent shape, at least compared to the main house where you left the car.
  1412. >You take a deep breath as you come to the front door. Another little plaque rests on it with neat words inscribed.
  1413. >It reads: ‘A horse is worth more than riches.’
  1414. “Sounds like a horse vet alright.”
  1415. >You chuckle and open the door, stepping into what looks like a typical medical waiting room. If you didn’t know this was a veterinary practice, and the place didn’t look like it had seen better days, you would swear it was the reception room of your local practitioner.
  1416.  
  1417. >Walking up to the desk and ringing a bell, you burn some time looking at some of the qualifications and pictures hanging on the wall. Everything seems on the up and up, and you get your first glance of who you assume to be Emily.
  1418. >A blonde haired, fair skinned, and lanky girl (who looks like she’s in her mid-teens) hugs a large brown horse with bandages wrapped around its barrel. A slightly older boy stands near her, arms crossed and beaming with pride in the frozen moment. You move behind the desk and take closer look.
  1419. >Something about the man feels familiar, but you can’t work out why.
  1420. >”You right there?”
  1421. >You jolt upright as a woman's voice comes from your right.
  1422. >The photo must be many years old, because standing in front of you is a woman who by no means is a teenager anymore.
  1423. >A tight figure and an ample bosom are wrapped up in jeans and a stained and sweat soaked green tank top. Healthy tanned brown skin peeks out from under her clothing and goes well with her blonde hair and green eyes.
  1424. >Clear see through latex gloves and dirty heavy duty boots tell you enough about her work, while black bags and several faint smears of unknown substances on her lightly freckled face belie what you gather to be quite an attractive looking woman in her mid-twenties.
  1425. >You quickly collect yourself and offer a hand.
  1426. “Anon. We spoke on the phone.”
  1427. >”Hmmmm... Anon, huh?” She looks you up and down. “Not quite what I expected.”
  1428. >She smirks and shakes your hand with a firm, but slimy grip.
  1429. “Oh, and, uh, what did you have in mind?”
  1430. >”It's probably better for both of us if I kept that to myself. For now, I’ll just say sorry for all the, err, ‘colourful’ names I called you last night.” She gives you a bit of a shit eating grin.
  1431.  
  1432. “Fair enough. We both got a bit heated though so don’t worry about it. I gathered that Mark’s usual clientele aren’t the most wholesome of customers.”
  1433. >“You wouldn’t believe the sacks of shit that come crawling to me for help.”
  1434. “After seeing the inside of that warehouse, I’ll take your word for it.”
  1435. >”And, for the moment, I’ll take yours. Speaking of...
  1436. >She sighs and briefly scans the room.
  1437. >”Where is she? This, uh-” She scratches her head. “-‘Celly’ I think you called her. And for that matter, where is that shithead Stint? He was supposed to meet you out front.”
  1438. “There was no one at the main house, and I left Celly in the car back out the front. No offense, but that building wasn’t the most reassuring sight when I arrived.”
  1439. >She waves a dismissive hand and starts taking her gloves off.
  1440. >“Yeah nah, none taken. I’ve been meaning to fix it up for a while now, but, uh, things got busy.”
  1441. “No worries. Although I’m a bit more reassured after seeing what you’ve got built back here, and after a little run in with the locals.”
  1442. >”God damn it. Sorry. They get a little excited sometimes. Stint was meant to be your escort so they wouldn’t hassle you. You managed to have a chat with them though did you?”
  1443. “Yeah, I did.”
  1444. >”No problems? They do get a little stir crazy around here sometimes.”
  1445. “They may have mobbed me a bit. Also may have gotten a bit too touchy for my liking. But honestly, I was a bit surprised more than anything else.”
  1446. >”About what?”
  1447. “Well… Those injuries…”
  1448. >She gives you a knowing look.
  1449. >”They’re better with humans than you’d expect, right?”
  1450. “Pretty much, yeah.”
  1451. >She sighs and runs a hand through her hair.
  1452. >”A few of them got dumped here by kind strangers. Others had ‘owners’ who never came back.”
  1453. “And you couldn’t leave them be?”
  1454.  
  1455. >”Something like that. I would also appreciate you not getting any funny ideas now.” She points an accusing finger at you.
  1456. “Don’t worry. That’s the last thing on my mind.”
  1457. >“Good.”
  1458. >She grabs a fresh pair of gloves from under the desk and shoves them in a pocket.
  1459. >“Let’s go find Stint then. That prick might be of use here in the clinic. But he’s always trying to do his own stupid thing. Can’t really blame him I guess.”
  1460. >She leads you down a central corridor that cuts through the middle of the barn. Doors line the wall on either side, leading to various rooms that house devices and equipment for taking care of injured equines as well connecting to the metal shutters you saw that allow easy access to the outside.
  1461. >The first four are clearly designed for horses due to the size of the suspension rigs in the room. A few of the other ones have scaled down versions of the tools, designed for the more intelligent quadrupeds. Up the very end are what Emily tells you are large storage garages.
  1462. >”Even if they don’t have much to store right now.”
  1463. >Only two rooms are occupied by patients, with the final room in the far right corner having been transformed into a makeshift sleeping quarters where mattresses and blankets are neatly arranged and folded. Several handcrafted additions adorn the walls and give the sterile white room a homely feel.
  1464. >Emily has called out in each unoccupied room to no response.
  1465. >“Stint? Stint? Where did you go, asshole?”
  1466. “You really do look after them, don’t you?” You bend down and inspect an old and battered stuffed animal in the living quarters
  1467. >”Sure, do. Stretches things pretty tight around here, keeping all those mouths fed and healthy.”
  1468. >She opens one of the large garages and frowns. You peek inside and see a dismal supply of hay.
  1469.  
  1470. >“Even though I still have a few actual horses I get paid to check up on; a few of the ponies think that if they get sold to a good owner, that’s less of a burden on me and more food and toys for the kids.”
  1471. >You frown.
  1472. “I can sympathise with that. But some of them were pretty ‘forward’ with their offers...”
  1473. >”Look. Anon.” She pulls out a key for the last storage room and opens it. “Some of them can’t do any more physical labour, their bodies are too broken.”
  1474. >A large variety of labelled bottles and bags of fluid rest on shelves, marked with names and codes that you can read but have no understanding of.
  1475. >”Christ, where is that son of a bitch?” She curses again and closes the garage before leading you back to the office.
  1476. >”Also, ponies don’t really get bought for white collar jobs. Even beyond the whole slavery thing; the pills they have to take give them a... Well, a bad rep would be one way of putting it.”
  1477. “So they resort to offering themselves up?”
  1478. >”They do what they can, Anon. It’s all that some of them have left.”
  1479. >You follow her back outside. She slowly turns, looking around the expansive property for the missing stallion. She stops when she sees one of the ponies in the pasture waving at her.
  1480. >”They also trust me, Anon. And since you’re walking around here unescorted, they think you have my blessing as a good owner.”
  1481. “And do I?”
  1482. >”We’ll have to wait and see. Now about your mare…”
  1483. “What about her?
  1484. >”Mind giving me a few details while we go get her?”
  1485. “Sounds good.”
  1486. She pulls out a pencil and a pocket notepad as you both begin slowly making your way back to the main house.
  1487. >“Age?”
  1488. “Don’t know.”
  1489. >“Weight?”
  1490. “Haven’t weighed her yet. She’s quite malnourished, though I can carry her with a bit of effort if she cooperates.”
  1491. >”Doesn’t really help. Height?”
  1492. “Haven’t measured. Definitely taller than most ponies.”
  1493.  
  1494. >”What? What do you mean? Taller than a stallion?”
  1495. “She’s definitely bigger than any pony stallion in that field.” You point with a thumb back down to the enclosure behind you.
  1496. >She furrows her brow and stops halfway up the hill.
  1497. >“Anon… What species is she?”
  1498. >You grin.
  1499. “She’s an Ali-”
  1500. >”...Anon…”
  1501. >You stop as you hear your name in the distance.
  1502. “You hear that?”
  1503. >You tilt your head as you start slowly treading up the hill.
  1504. >”Hear what, Anon? More importantly, did you just say-”
  1505. “Shhhh!”
  1506. >You hold up a hand and focus on your hearing.
  1507. >”...Anon...Help...”
  1508. “The fuck?”
  1509. >You break out into a sprint as Celestia’s cry reaches your ears.
  1510. >”Oh god damnit, Stint! You promised me!” Emily cries out and starts sprinting after you.
  1511. “The hell’s that meant to mean? What is he doing?”
  1512. >”Anon! Please! Where are you?!”
  1513. “I’m coming, Celestia!”
  1514. >”Jesus Christ! The mare you bought is Celestia, Anon?”
  1515. >You ignore Emily as Celestia’s strained calls for help become louder. You feel waves of Deja vu crashing into you as old memories start flashing through your mind.
  1516. >A knock on the door, a drive to the hospital, a meeting with the doctor, a funeral.
  1517. >Cresting the top of the slope and continuing to the side of the main house, you hear a masculine voice shouting.
  1518. >”Why?!” Why are you here?! How can you be here?!”
  1519. >Not slowing down, you rush forward and vault over the side gate. Not stopping as you land, you stumble and look over at the car. At first glance you can see the boot of the car hanging open as your stomach drops.
  1520. >Through the windscreen you spot a distraught Celestia, her flailing forelegs struggling to pull the rest of her body into the front seat. Behind her frantically flapping wings you can barely make out the blue outline of a pony in the back.
  1521. “Celestia!”
  1522. >Her head flicks up to you and you see the panic in her eyes.
  1523.  
  1524. >You start running as fast as your legs will carry you. As you get closer you can make out the snarling face of a unicorn stallion in the back of the car.
  1525. >”Why can’t you walk anymore?! Why won’t you talk to me?! What have they done to you?!”
  1526. >His eyes look out of focus as he screams at the retreating mare. His body slowly stalking ever closer as Celestia struggles to get away.
  1527. >As you move around the back of the car, you catch a glimpse of his turgid member smacking against the underside of his barrel through the side window.
  1528. “Oi, the fuck do you think you’re doing cunt?!” You yell as you reach for him.
  1529. >You grab a back hoof and pull, causing the stallion to land on himself. He lets out a yelp and kicks back, slamming your hand into the wall of the car.
  1530. >”Let go of me! You monster’s ruined her! You ruined my princess!”
  1531. “Fucking cunt! The fuck are you trying to do to her? You horny little shit!” You grab both of his flailing hooves and pull with all your might.
  1532. >His head turns to the side and you see his face. His pupils are dilated and his nostrils are flaring as he snorts.
  1533. >”For God’s sake, Stint! You said you wouldn’t do this anymore!” Emily has finally caught up and she’s standing off to the side. Tears pooling in the corners of her eyes.
  1534. >“I need to save her. I need to save all of us!” He jerks his hips and kicks at you while his forehooves try and claw their way towards Celestia.
  1535. >A hoof slams into your arm, the force of a horseshoe colliding with it causes an intense flower of pain to blossom, but you’re not going to let go now.
  1536. “That’s enough you furry fuck!”
  1537. >Looking up past the crazed stallion, you can see Celestia is jammed halfway between the front and back seats, still trying desperately to escape.
  1538.  
  1539. >Her rear is held high as she pushes with her hind hooves and you’re floored at the sight of her slowly flagging tail as her folds wink.
  1540. >”Just stop, Stint! Please!” Emily wails from behind you, snapping you out of the moment.
  1541. >”Let go of me!”
  1542. >Another hoof collides with your chest making you grunt in pain.
  1543. “Alright, you cunt, that’s enough!”
  1544. >You sweat and grunt and pull with all your might, heaving him back and hooking an arm under his barrel with the other securing his hind legs. Unfortunately, a thick wet appendage slaps at your skin.
  1545. >With an aggravated roar, you lift with any remaining strength you can muster. Muscles straining beyond their limit as adrenaline pumps through your veins. Stint desperately scrambles for purchase in the car as you heft him.
  1546. >Before you can say anything, Emily has joined in from the other side of him, hooking an arm over his withers and under his elbows. She gives a mighty cry of her own as Stint is unceremoniously hoisted into the air and all three of you fall crashing backwards to the ground.
  1547. >The stallion lets out a loud gasp as the wind is knocked from him. He splutters a few times and groans while closing his eyes in pain. After taking a few seconds to catch his breath they flutter open again and he starts looking around in a daze, the madness gone from his eyes.
  1548. >You pull your arms away and let go of his legs, wiping the sticky substance off on his coat as you do so.
  1549. >”Wha- What happened?” He looks down at his engorged member still drooling his essence onto his belly.
  1550. >”Whoa, what the fuck?”
  1551. >He looks over at you.
  1552. >”Who are you? Where’s-” His eyes go wide. “-The princess! I gotta-”
  1553. >He’s stopped mid-sentence as Emily’s open palm collides with his face in a sickening smack.
  1554.  
  1555. >But she doesn’t stop there. A hail of slaps rain down on the confused stallion as he tries to protect his face.
  1556. >”You. Cocky. Stupid. Shit. You. Promised. Me. You. Wouldn’t.”
  1557. >“Emily-” *Smack* “Wait-” *Smack* “I don’t-” *Smack* ‘Just-” *Smack*
  1558. >You sigh and roll over, leaving the two to have their little domestic spat.
  1559. >Getting up, you take a moment to catch your breath before checking in on Celestia. She’s still stuck in the same spot, but she’s no longer frantically struggling and her tail is now slowly lowering.
  1560. “You a bit stuck there, big girl?” She jolts. Her tail flips from side to side and her wings flap uselessly as she tries pull herself out from between the seats.
  1561. >”N-Not at all, Anon.”
  1562. “Oh really? I take it you’ve just really taken a liking to that pose then.”
  1563. >”Anon!”
  1564. >Her tail flicks and she stamps her hind legs in frustration. You’re about to laugh until you see a small trembling in her haunches. The sight snaps you out of your adrenaline fuelled high.
  1565. “Sorry. I’ll, uh, I’ll help you get out.”
  1566. >You carefully climb into the car and crawl up alongside her. Gently hooking an arm under her front elbow and place a hand on her chest tuft, you give a few firm tugs.
  1567. >Celestia lets out a sigh of relief as you finally dislodge her from between the seats. You tentatively guide her as she slowly backs up into the boot of the car.
  1568. >Once she can properly stand by her own power, you sit back and give her some space. The big white mare inspects her sides and wings before walking over and sitting down in front of you.
  1569. >You both sit there for a while trying not to look at each other. Unsure of what to say or do after what happened. You feel pinpricks of heat in your cheeks as frustration begins to build. Celestia shifts nervously on her hind quarters, one hoof rubbing a foreleg. You need to say something, anything to break this mood.
  1570. “Celestia-”
  1571. >”Anon-”
  1572. >You both blurt out at the same time.
  1573.  
  1574. >Celestia stares at you for a few moments before giggling. You join in, delighting in the shared sensation as you feel the tension in your body melt away.
  1575. >”You first, Anon.” She gestures with a hoof, ending the moment.
  1576. “Right…”
  1577. >You idly scratch the back of your head.
  1578. “I’m sorry for leaving you alone like that, and for making fun of you when you’re in that state. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying it must be not being able to move your body like you want in a situation like that.”
  1579. >She attentively listens but doesn’t show any discernible emotion.
  1580. “I told you I’d take care of you, and if I hadn’t gotten here in time…”
  1581. >”But you did.”
  1582. “But I almost didn’t.”
  1583. >”But you made it, Anon. Just like you told me you would. I called and you came sprinting to my rescue not a few moments later.”
  1584. “But I-”
  1585. >She reaches out with a hoof and rubs the welt on your arm from when you got kicked, a nice purple bruise forming under the skin.
  1586. >”There’s even some proof right here that you did everything you could-” She lowers the hoof to the other bruise on your forearm from when she bit you. “Just like you’ve always done since you found me.”
  1587. >She looks up at you and gives you a smile.
  1588. “So I forgive you, Anon.”
  1589. >A wave of relief washes through you, and you let out a sigh.
  1590. “Thank you, Celestia.”
  1591. >You run a hand through your hair.
  1592. “How are you feeling?”
  1593. >”I’m… well, I’m a little frustrated about a few things to be honest, but I’d like to talk to you about them later.
  1594. “You wanted to say something though, didn’t you?”
  1595. >She nods and thinks for a bit.
  1596. >You’re about to say something when Celestia gently reaches forward and smacks your cheek with a bandaged hoof. It feels soft, and although there is some force behind it, you can tell it’s so devoid of malice that you can’t even call it a slap.
  1597.  
  1598. >”That’s for not locking the car.”
  1599. >You frown and nod your head, disappointed in yourself for such an obvious slip up.
  1600. >”And this-” She reaches forward, wraps her hooves around your shoulders, pulls herself close, and presses her lips against the spot she just hit.
  1601. >Your thoughts fly away as you take in the feeling of the warm and slightly wet sensation pressing against the side of your face. As soon as it happens it's over as Celestia pulls back, a slight blush on her smiling face.
  1602. >”-Is for saving me from that stallion.”
  1603. “Celestia…”
  1604. >It’s all you manage to say as you bring a hand to the side of her head. She firmly pushes her cheek into it as you stare into her mesmerizing purple eyes.
  1605. >”Wow! Look at the cute couple!” Emily calls out as she helps Stint to his hooves.
  1606. >You clear your throat and pull back your hand. Celestia lets out a disappointed huff and glares at the disturbance.
  1607. >”A human and the princess? Over my dead body!” The now black and blue faced stallion scowls at you as he stands up. You raise an eyebrow at him.
  1608. >”Keep acting like that, Stint, and I will gladly see to that arrangement.”
  1609. >He smiles sheepishly at Emily and starts creeping away. He doesn’t make it far before she yanks on his tail, eliciting a yelp and making him pause mid stride. He laughs nervously and falls back into line alongside her.
  1610. >”What do you want to say, Stint?”
  1611. >He kicks the ground with a hoof a few times. Emily places a hand on his withers, causing a shiver to run through his body.
  1612. >”I’m sorry, to both of you.” He blurts out.
  1613. >”For hurting you. And for-” He looks at Celestia with pain in his eyes. “And for acting the way I did. I… I lost control of myself.”
  1614. >He lowers his head most of the way to the ground.
  1615.  
  1616. >You cross your arms and frown. There are a few things that don’t add up. What was he trying to do here? Why was he so…? ‘Excited’? You open your mouth but Celestia beats you to the punch.
  1617. >”I forgive you, Stint. I can only imagine how disheartening my current condition is to you.”
  1618. >She speaks in a comforting motherly tone that you haven’t heard from her before. All three of you stare at her as she flicks her mane to one side and smiles gently down at him.
  1619. >”If you’ll give me another chance, I’d like to have a talk with you one day and answer some of the ‘questions’ you asked.”
  1620. >For the first time since you bought her, you feel like you can see more than the beautiful mare that she used to be. You feel like you can truly see a princess who cares deeply for her ponies.
  1621. >Stint looks up in shock. His mouth opens and closes a few times like a fish before he scowls and gallops away to the house.
  1622. >Emily doesn’t say anything this time and watches him scamper off with his tail between his legs.
  1623. >She has a tired smile on her face the whole time, until he ducks inside and slams the door shut.
  1624. “So that was Stint, huh. Quite a handful.”
  1625. >You rub your chest where he kicked you. Another bruise to add to the collection.
  1626. >”Like you wouldn’t believe.” She lets out a small chuckle.
  1627. >“But where are my manners.”
  1628. >She turns back to you and walks up to the boot of the car.
  1629.  
  1630. >”My names Emily, and I own and run this practice. It's a pleasure to meet you.”
  1631. >She offers a hand to Celestia. The big white pony stares cautiously at it before looking to you.
  1632. “Go on, she won’t bite.”
  1633. >Celestia swallows and raises her bandaged hoof, gently placing it in Emily’s hand. Emily gently grips the appendage and shakes. An action that Celestia’s eyes seem glued to.
  1634. >”M-My name is Celestia-”
  1635. “Oi.” You run a hand down her back to reassure her.
  1636. >”R-right.” She takes a few steadying breaths before looking up at Emily and smiling.
  1637. >“My name is P-Princess Celestia, and it’s a pleasure to meet you too, Emily.”
  1638.  
  1639. Part 7
  1640.  
  1641. “Emily! Is everything alright?!”
  1642. >The vet peeks her head around the side of the car as you look through the window, seeing the old stallion with the burnt black coat. He quickly hops through a gap in the side gate and gallops towards you. Right behind him is the unicorn mare with a broken horn.
  1643. >”We heard some yelling! Did that man attack you?”
  1644. >”Yea nah, everything’s fine you two.” She waves to them. “Just some, uh, problems with Stint.”
  1645. >”Why am I not surprised?” The older stallion shakes his head and slows to a canter.
  1646. >As they get closer you look over at Celestia. Her head hangs low and her shoulders are hunched. All the while she looks from side to side and fidgets on her hooves.
  1647. >”So, where’s the poor creature that had to deal with him?” The mare calls out.
  1648. >Celestia visibly jolts and starts dragging herself behind you with small grunts.
  1649. >”She’s in here. You guys won’t believe-”
  1650. “Oi, Emily.”
  1651. >”Yeah, Anon?”
  1652. >You nod at the nervous pony slinking through the car. Emily gives her a quick once over and nods.
  1653. >”Actually, could you guys give us some space? Standard new arrival rules, okay?”
  1654. >The expression on both of the ponies faces sour but they nod regardless.
  1655. >”If you say so, Emily. But the others are going to want to check her out.”
  1656. >”We’ll still do what we can, Em. Just let us know when we can see her. It can really help the new arrivals to know they’re not alone.”
  1657. >She sincerely thanks them and they start trotting back. As they slip under the gate you turn and gently pat Celestia’s neck.
  1658. “Hey, where did that big brave pony princess run off to?”
  1659. >She looks back up and gives you an uneasy smile.
  1660. >”I-I’m sorry, Anon. After what just happened, I was caught a bit off guard.”
  1661. “I could imagine.”
  1662. >You reach up and scratch her ear. Celestia lets out a pleased hum in response.
  1663.  
  1664. >”Sorry about all this, you’ve probably got enough on your plate as is.” Emily starts.
  1665. >She runs a hand through her hair while a grin sits on her face.
  1666. >”I still can’t believe it though. An honest to god Alicorn.”
  1667. >Celestia blushes and fluffs her wings a tiny bit.
  1668. >”I guess I’m not how you would have imagined…” She rubs her skinny foreleg with a bandaged hoof.
  1669. >”Oh no, no, no, dear. I didn’t mean that at all. I just...” Emily frowns.
  1670. >”It’s ok, I’m quite aware of what I look like.”
  1671. >”Well then... Why don’t we go do something about that?”
  1672. >Celestia perks up and tilts her head at Emily.
  1673. >”If it’s alright, I’d like to have a closer look at you in a more-” The vet narrows her eyes at you.”-personal setting.”
  1674. >”I understand... Anon?”
  1675. >Celestia looks back over at you.
  1676. “Well, Emily’s fine in my books.”
  1677. >”Then if it’s okay with you… Emily?”
  1678. >”Great!”
  1679. >She happily claps her hands together.
  1680. “Can you open the side gate for us then?”
  1681. >”What, why?”
  1682. “Well… She can’t really walk that far.”
  1683. >Emily’s expression falls.
  1684. >You reach over and ask Celestia for a hoof. She nods and places it in your hand, allowing you to carefully unwrap the damaged appendage. Emily leans in to get a closer look as the bandages fall away and the split in her hoof is revealed.
  1685. >”May I?”
  1686. >She holds a neutral expression has she reaches out. Celestia hesitates for a second before pulling it from your hand and placing it in the vet’s.
  1687. >With delicate hands, Emily squeezes and applies light pressure to it, carefully watching the way the wall barely spreads, cooing softly when Celestia hisses in pain from time to time.
  1688. >”I assume the other hoof is bandaged for a similar reason?”
  1689. >You both nod, causing Emily to let out a deep sigh.
  1690. >“I’d like to let you drive down, Anon, I really would. But one of the horses and a few of the ponies get spooked by cars.”
  1691.  
  1692. >You frown.
  1693. “Damn... Not much we can do about that, ay.”
  1694. >”Mmmm, and I won’t be able to do anything up here…”
  1695. >She gives you a once over.
  1696. >”Hey, Anon… Do you think you’d be able to carry her?”
  1697. “Carry her? All the way down there?”
  1698. >You look over at Celestia who’s trying to hide her enthusiasm.
  1699. “I think we can manage.”
  1700. >You smirk and start climbing out of the boot.
  1701. >”Great. Now, unfortunately, I need to go have a little chat with Stint, so I’ll be joining you in a short bit.”
  1702. >You both nod at her and she smiles back, though her expression starts going south before she even finishes turning around. As she stomps off into the house and slams the door, her muffled yelling quickly begins in earnest.
  1703. >You and Celestia share a look of concern before she smiles.
  1704. >”I suppose we should get going then, Anon.”
  1705. “Yeah… Just before that though...”
  1706. >”Hmmm? Something on your mind Anon?” She says as she slowly makes her way to the edge of the open boot.
  1707. “Are you alright?”
  1708. >It’s faint but you see a small twitch of her eyelid.
  1709. >”What do you mean, Anon?”
  1710. “Celly...”
  1711. >”I’m fine, Anon. There’s nothing wrong.”
  1712. >The mare sits down and stares at you. You hold her smiling gaze for a while until there’s another subtle twitch of her cheek.
  1713. “Come here, you.” Quickly bending down, you grab her in a hug.
  1714. >Celestia freezes for a moment, before eagerly wrapping her hooves around you as her body begins trembling.
  1715. >”Just a visit to the vet, right Anon?”
  1716. “I know, I know. I’m sorry.”
  1717. >You softly stroke her neck as she grips you tighter.
  1718. >”You’re gonna have to carry me past more ponies, aren’t you...”
  1719. “I am.”
  1720. >She’s quiet for a few more moments. As she takes deep breaths in and out, the shaking slowly subdues.
  1721. >“I’m scared, Anon...” She whispers in your ear.
  1722. “Hey.” You pull away from Celestia to her displeasure. “Big strong princess like you? You’ll be fine.”
  1723.  
  1724. >She chuckles lightly but her face is still fraught with worry.
  1725. “Now, you ready for a ride on the best seat in the house?” You pull back and strike a few flexing poses.
  1726. >”Oh! I’d love to, Anon!” Celestia’s face lights up in mock surprise as her head flicks back and forth, looking around the expansive front yard. “Where is it?”
  1727. >You hold a pose for a few moments longer and try to flex as hard as you can. Celestia pulls a hoof to her mouth to cover up a snicker of laughter.
  1728. “Alright, alright. Let's go, you.”
  1729. >After calming down and taking a few deep breaths, she raises her forelegs for you. You pick her up and start carrying her to the barn.
  1730. >The argument is still raging inside the house as you walk around to the side gate. Celestia giggles as you juggle her rump in your grip while straining to open the metal latch.
  1731. >After a bit of effort, you get it open and bring Celestia into the back yard.
  1732. >”You know, Anon. You’ve been touching me down there so much the past few days… I’m starting to think you want something from me.” She pulls back and flutters her eyes at you.
  1733. “Oi.”
  1734. >You lightly smack her bony hide, eliciting a yelp.
  1735. “Time to be brave.”
  1736. >You do a slow spin at the top of the slope, letting Celestia see the crowd of bouncing and eager ponies waiting at the bottom of the hill near the entrance to the barn.
  1737. >She pulls herself close again and grips you tighter while you whisper reassurances and begin your descent.
  1738. >The bubbling crowd of ponies gets louder and louder while the old black stallion and the other mare try to keep them under control.
  1739. >Unfortunately, as you near the bottom of the hill, the cries die down. Replaced instead by a confused murmuring. Small snippets about Celestia's wings and the size of her body reach your ears.
  1740.  
  1741. >You quicken your pace as you walk past them, gasps running through the crowd as they get a good look at the horn sticking out of her head. She tries to bury her face in your shoulder as the crowd starts sounding more distressed.
  1742. >You glance over and catch the pained eyes of the older pony, sitting crumpled on the ground in front of the now bristling crowd and staring with his mouth hanging open. You swallow heavily and continue onto the front office as fast as you can.
  1743. >”That’s the princess, isn’t it?”
  1744. >Celestia’s ears flick down and you feel goose bumps on your arms as someone finally says it out loud. The crunching of dry grass underfoot fills the air as the herd goes eerily silent.
  1745. “Celly…”
  1746. >Not another sound is made as you carry her over to the barn and take her into the front office.
  1747. You try to deposit her in a seat, but she stubbornly refuses to let go. In the end you sit down on the floor in a corner with her in your lap.
  1748. >Taking up a gentle rhythm of stroking her back, you sit in silence with her as she holds you close.
  1749. >”W-what can I even say to them, Anon?”
  1750. >She finally speaks up and pulls away.
  1751. >”How can I even say anything to them, when I look like… This…”
  1752. >She twists her neck and looks at the skinny outline of bones all over her body.
  1753. >”Even sitting here, I can’t think clearly. Because of…”
  1754. >She looks away and shifts her hips slightly.
  1755. “Well…” You begin. “I can’t say for sure. I mean -- in case you haven’t noticed -- I’m not a big beautiful pony princess.”
  1756. >”Anon…”
  1757. >I mean I’ve been working on my strut and everything, but I can’t quite get the hair right, y’know?”
  1758. >“Anon.”
  1759. >She lightly strikes your chest and tries to look at you with a serious face. You meet her stare with a goofy grin and she huffs.
  1760. “And the motherly voice? Cut me some slack princess, I can’t speak like that.”
  1761.  
  1762. >“Anon!” She tries to be stern but you can see a smile in the corners of her tired eyes.
  1763. >You pick up her now uncovered hoof and gently rub its frog.
  1764. “Just say what you need to say. They’ll understand. And if you fail, I’ll be here to pick you back up so we can try again.”
  1765. >Her eyes flick between you and the floor a few times before she nods.
  1766. >The door suddenly swings open and a clearly aggravated Emily comes stomping in.
  1767. >”Alright you two, fun’s over. Some of us have work to do.” She pulls the latex gloves out of her pocket and pulls them on with a sickening rubbery snap.
  1768. >“Anon? If you’d be so kind as to take her down to the third door on the right and leave her on the table in the room? I’ll be along in just a moment.”
  1769. >You and Celestia share a look as Emily disappears into the central corridor. Giving the big pony’s ear a quick scratch, you pick her up.
  1770. >After carrying her down the hall and depositing her on a large padded table in the room, you utter a quick few words of comfort. She waves you off with a smile, even when Emily’s frustrated swearing can be heard from the next room over.
  1771. >Retreating back to the main office, you take a seat and pull out your phone. Occasionally a small wave of paranoia passes over you as you wait. Tricking your senses into thinking you can hear Celestia’s voice on the wind.
  1772. >One time, you panicked and rushed down the hall; ripping open the door, only to see Emily bent over and inspecting a spread legged Celestia’s nethers. A blush blooming on your face as Emily picked up a nearby pen and threw it at you.
  1773. >After a quick apology, you closed the door and retreated back into the office to the sound of Celestia’s embarrassed laughter.
  1774. >For the most part, the rest is a boring and dull experience.
  1775. >That changes when the front door abruptly opens. You look over and see Stint standing in the doorway.
  1776.  
  1777. >You’re immediately standing tall and on guard. He gives you a dirty look, but doesn’t move from the entrance way.
  1778. “What are you after?”
  1779. >”I work here, Human.”
  1780. >Having a better look at him: he’s a lean but strong looking Unicorn with a light blue coat and a dark blue mane that’s combed to one side of his horn. Though his face is now covered in purple bruises that swell and distort his seemingly strong features. At least his other swelling has subsided.
  1781. >Apart from an interesting saddle bag around his midsection, there’s not much more to him
  1782. “Answer the question, mate.”
  1783. >”I don’t have to explain shit to you.”
  1784. “Then you can fucking turn right around and leave.”
  1785. >”Oh yea, you gonna make me? Like you make her do whatever messed up things you want?”
  1786. “Hey, I’m not the one who tried to fuck a defenceless mare who couldn’t walk!”
  1787. >Stint visibly flinches.
  1788. >”That was…”
  1789. “That was what, cunt? Just a polite misunderstanding?”
  1790. >”I wasn’t trying to do anything to her! I was trying to help her!”
  1791. “Yea I bet you fucking were. Probably why you helped me to a few bruises as well.”
  1792. >”Monsters like you deserve no less! I was trying to save my princess!”
  1793. “You’re fucking joking…” You squeeze the bridge of your nose.
  1794. >He looks away from you and snarls. His eyes angrily burning a hole in the ground.
  1795. “Let me get this straight.”
  1796. >”Shut up.”
  1797. >His tail flicks.
  1798. “You think you’re gonna play the hero and save the pony.”
  1799. >”I said shut up!”
  1800. “But she can’t even fucking walk, and while you’re panicking you get a big whiff of her.”
  1801. >He snorts and paws the ground.
  1802. “What? You gonna charge me, Cunt? In here?” You gesture at the surrounding room.
  1803. >He hesitates. A quick look around reminds him of where he is, forcing him to settle with giving you same dirty look from before.
  1804.  
  1805. “So what are you here for?”
  1806. >He doesn’t say anything.
  1807. “So you don’t even want to talk anymore, is that right?
  1808. >”I have something for Em.”
  1809. >You offer a hand.
  1810. “I’ll give it to her.”
  1811. >He stomps.
  1812. >”I need to talk to her!”
  1813. “Tough luck. While she’s having a look at Celestia, you ain’t going anywhere near her.”
  1814. >He sizes you up once again, and you feel like he’s considering tackling you right now. A few moments of tense silence pass again as he chews his bottom lip.
  1815. >”Fine, it’s just some Celestia damned horseshoes for the princess.”
  1816. >He shrugs the saddlebags off and they hit the floor with a metallic clink. Stint turns around.
  1817. >”You need to realize something, Human.”
  1818. “Enlighten me.”
  1819. >He twists his head back and looks past you, deeper into the barn.
  1820. >”She doesn’t belong with you...”
  1821. >He leaves the office before you can retort. His last words hanging miserably over you.
  1822. >You swear under your breath and go pick up the bag.
  1823. >Hefting the heavy sacks down the corridor, you knock on the door and enter when Emily calls for you to do so.
  1824. >She wears a frown on her face as she spies the item in your grip.
  1825. >Celestia is currently lying down on the bed with a slow drip running into her foreleg. Her red and puffy eyes look over at you causing a spike panic in your chest. But before you can get too worked up, Celestia lifts her head and smiles at you.
  1826. >Emily has a hand placed on her barrel and is gently consoling the poor mare before looking up at you.
  1827. >”Good timing, Anon. We need to have a bit of a chat.”
  1828. >Emily takes off her gloves and walks over. She takes the horseshoes from you and inspects them before leaving them by the door. She gestures with a hand and leads you through the doorway.
  1829. >You look back and see Celestia lying back down. A sadness lurking in her eyes as she looks away from you.
  1830.  
  1831. >Emily guides you all the way outside, taking you both around the side of the barn so that two of you may talk privately.
  1832. >”I’m not gonna lie, Anon. She’s been through a lot.”
  1833. “I know, if you had seen-”
  1834. >”What you saw at... Mark’s…” She spits his name out. “I know how he treats them. This is different.”
  1835. >You go silent.
  1836. >”I also understand she’s taken a certain… ‘Liking’ to you?”
  1837. “We get along... To an extent.”
  1838. >She scratches her head and hums.
  1839. >”To an extent, huh… God, how do I start…?”
  1840. “Tell me how she is physically, Doc.”
  1841. >”We can fix the hooves. Simple procedure. I can file down the small chips. Drill a few thin holes in the wall of the hoof near the split and pull it together with metal wiring. Add in some horseshoes to all of them to correct her bad walking habits and help protect them? They’ll recover in no time.”
  1842. “How long would you say?”
  1843. “I would usually say a month or so before we start seeing some real recovery. But with ponies -- and from what Celestia told me about Alicorn’s -- it should heal very fast. We can use some nice Kevlar wrapping to keep the hoof clean and protected as well, but that’ll cost-”
  1844. “I’ll pay. What’s next?”
  1845. >”Alright then… I’ve got her on a drip right now to help with her fluids and nutrition. And we’ll get her started on some simple antibiotics to help with the infected hoof. I’ll write down a list of food and supplies that will help her out and start putting some weight on those bones. I also have a light exercise routine that I want you to help her out with every day, so she can start recovering her strength.”
  1846. “This is still in line with what I was expecting.”
  1847. >”I’m getting to it.”
  1848. >Emily runs a hand through her hair.
  1849. >”She’s been through a lot of abuse, Anon. And not just from humans. Well, at least not directly.”
  1850. “I’ve heard.”
  1851. >”No you haven’t. Not this.”
  1852.  
  1853. >Emily takes a deep breath. You try to mentally brace yourself.
  1854. >”In her time in those cages, she’s experienced a few... ‘Stress triggered terminations’.”
  1855. >The words roll around your head for a bit until the meaning suddenly hits you. Your heart drops and your eyes go wide. A few tears are coming to Emily’s eyes.
  1856. >”W-When they couldn’t get her to do what they wanted, t-they forced stallions to-”
  1857. >She heaves with a choking sob.
  1858. >”S-She’s a tough mare, Anon. She’s so strong. B-but that situation was-”
  1859. >Emily raises a hand to her mouth as her composure falls to pieces in front of you.
  1860. >You start to feel sick.
  1861. >”-I-I’ve given her a t-thorough inspection... a-and... I’ve made sure she’s clean.”
  1862. >Emily takes a shuddering breath while you struggle to keep a lid on your feelings.
  1863. “Why are I hearing this from you, and not her?”
  1864. >”B-Because…”
  1865. >She takes a few steady breaths to get herself level.
  1866. >”Because... she wants you to know, but-” Her expression collapses as she tries to smile while more tears roll down her cheeks. “She’s scared of how you’ll look at her.”
  1867. “What do you mean?”
  1868. >”I may have misgivings about you, but surely you can’t be dense enough not to see what she wants?”
  1869. “But that’s just the drugs!”
  1870. >“Yes and no, Anon. Those drugs in particular are meant to relax the pelvic floor muscles in a mare, and increase libido and sensitivity when taken in small doses. Of course the larger doses have significant impact on cognitive function and significantly exacerbate the other symptoms, but you’d definitely notice that.”
  1871. “What exactly are you trying to tell me, Emily?”
  1872.  
  1873. >”Celestia’s told me what you want from her, and I agree that it should be what she is aiming for. Lord knows how much the ponies here yammer on about how she was going to come back and save all of them. But, Anon. That tired old girl is looking for a rock to tie herself to. To help her weather the coming storm.”
  1874. “You’re saying I need to…”
  1875. >”Look, Anon. I’m the last person who would judge you for something like that.” She wistfully looks up towards the main house. “But if you’re not going to give her the ‘support’ she needs to get through this? Well in that case, she’s better off staying here.”
  1876. “Trying to take her away from me now, are you?”
  1877. >The words leave your mouth before you can stop yourself. You stammer a correction while heat rushes to your cheeks.
  1878. “I don’t- I didn’t mean to-”
  1879. >”If you truly don’t view her as a slave, Anon. Then I can’t ‘take’ her from you. She’s not your property.”
  1880. >You bow your head in shame.
  1881. >“I’m not trying to tell you to leave her here. I’ll let you ‘take’ her home today. With what she’s said about you and the way you disregard money, it's clear you can provide for her. Hell I’ve seen firsthand what you’re willing to do to protect her.”
  1882. “But you think she’d be better here.”
  1883. >”I’m not saying that, Anon.”
  1884. >You glance back up at her and she gives you a stern look.
  1885. >”I’m saying you need to seriously consider her feelings. And if you really want what's best for her and the other ponies…”
  1886. “I do.”
  1887. >”Then either step up to the plate, or leave her here and support her from a distance. The supplies I need to order to ensure a safe detox should arrive in a few days’ time. That’s your deadline.”
  1888. >You squat down and scratch the back of your head while you soak all this in.
  1889. >”She’s an old mare, Anon. Older than you could ever imagine. But, she’s still a pony... a person, like you or me. She has her own desires and needs.”
  1890.  
  1891. “She wanted you to tell me all this in her stead, didn’t she…”
  1892. >She lets out a sigh.
  1893. >”She felt that -- due to her condition -- you wouldn’t take anything she said seriously.”
  1894. >You fidget with some of the dry grass at your feet.
  1895. >”I’ll leave you alone to think about it, Anon. In the meantime, is it alright if I go ahead with the procedures?”
  1896. “What? Oh. Yeah. That’s right. You, uh don’t need outside help for that?”
  1897. >”I used to have a farrier I relied on. Though after Mark happened, I’ve had to make do on my own. Gotten pretty good at it if I say so myself. And Stint’s been a huge help in that department.”
  1898. “Fine, do what you need to do.” You wave her off without looking up.
  1899. >”Anon, I know it seems like things are moving a bit fast, but you need to remember. You signed up for this when you bought her.”
  1900. >Emily walks off before you can say anything. Not that you could say much at the moment.
  1901. >You… don’t really know what to think.
  1902. >Lethargically, you make your way back to the office and sit on pseudo-guard. Your posture slack and your attention elsewhere. The contents of the conversation buzzing through your head like the drill that started screaming out from deeper in the barn.
  1903. >Another hour passes with you locked in your thoughts.
  1904. >The way Celestia’s been acting? Of course you knew. But you’ve been avoiding it. Deflecting it.
  1905. >Maybe you always saw her as a slave, as a tool to achieve your goals.
  1906. >Stint had a point as well.
  1907. >There was a small tight knit group of ponies here. Sure they might be angry at first, but they would eventually come to understand her situation. She’d have a home here.
  1908. >Though beyond it all there’s the smile that she showed you.
  1909. >A promise you made to her...
  1910. >What are you even doing right now? Just sitting in a god damn waiting room while she wonders if you’re about to abandon her.
  1911.  
  1912. >You’re snapped out of your reflections when Emily eventually comes back to the office, stripping off another set of gloves and wiping the sweat from her brow.
  1913. >”Good to see you’re still here, Anon. She’s all ready to go now.”
  1914. >You nod and stand up.
  1915. “What’s the bill, Doc?”
  1916. >She pulls a few scrunched up papers from her pocket and hands them to you.
  1917. >A form detailing what treatments were administered. Another with the costs. And finally, a neatly written list of groceries and food.
  1918. >There’s also a free-range walking license that says you can take her out and about without a collar and leash.
  1919. >She hands you a pen when asked, and you lazily write her a cheque.
  1920. >You add in a more than significant amount to help her get the practice back on its feet and feed the ponies for a long time, but at this point you feel it's the least you can do.
  1921. >A snide voice in the back of your head reminds you that being a piggy bank is the only thing you’re ever good for.
  1922. >Handing it back to Emily makes her eyes go wide when she reads it. She beams at you, a few tears pooling in the corners of her eyes; but you can’t muster any energy to smile back.
  1923. >You turn away and start slowly plodding down the hall -- hands in pockets -- to Celestia, when you feel a hand grip your shoulder.
  1924. >”Hey.”
  1925. “What do you want?”
  1926. >You slowly spin back.
  1927. *Smack*
  1928. >Your attention returns sharp and focused as Emily slaps you across the face.
  1929. >She gives you a stern look as you touch the now stinging skin.
  1930. >”If you’re going to go in there acting like that to her, then you can just go home now.”
  1931. >You stare at Emily with your mouth agape as you touch the tingling skin.
  1932. >The picture of Celestia’s face from the last time you saw her flashes through your mind. She had looked so spent. So tired. Like she just wanted to lay there forever.
  1933.  
  1934. >You shake your head and smack your own cheeks to clear the fog in your thoughts.
  1935. >”She needs you, Anon. In whatever form that may be. So before you throw in the towel yourself, why don’t you try and do everything you can for her first.”
  1936. >Looking at Emily, you think she’s said these words before as she grips your cheque tighter and tighter to her chest with a confident look on her face.
  1937. >Bowing your head and crossing your arms, you think back to all that’s happened in the past day.
  1938. >The bruises.
  1939. >The arguments.
  1940. >The soul-crushing sound of her desperate wail in the shower.
  1941. >The way she stubbornly refused your help when she was walking down the hallway.
  1942. >The place you found her in.
  1943. >The funny moments you’ve shared.
  1944. >The smile she shows you.
  1945. “I think I can do that.”
  1946. >”Good.” She lets out a sigh of relief. “Now get in there. That mare’s worried sick that you’re gonna go home without her.”
  1947. “Never gonna happen.” You smirk and rush down the corridor.
  1948. >Flinging the door open, you see a miserable Celestia ever so slowly walking away from the table on shaky hooves.
  1949. >The metal bottoms of the horseshoes clink against the floor and tight purple coverings are wrapped around the ends of her hooves, just under the fetlocks. Her posture and form are already better than the hunched over figure that you’ve been watching over the past day, and the white of her coat seems to be more vibrant than before.
  1950. >Her head twists over and her face lights up when she sees you again. Wings flutter at her sides as she smiles with joy. You take a step towards her but she tells you to stop.
  1951. >”Just watch me, Anon.”
  1952. >You stay where you are and look on as she gradually puts one hoof in front of the other.
  1953.  
  1954. >Her legs shaking from the effort, but gone are the frequent grunts of pain. The only noise she makes is a slight hiss every time she puts weight on the infected hoof.
  1955. >You feel your heart surging in your chest as she makes it halfway across the room with no signs of stopping despite her shaky legs.
  1956. >She grunts in determination as she continues towards you. A hungry smile on her face.
  1957. >She wobbles and almost trips, and you nearly lurch out to help her. But you manage to restrain yourself, instead crouching down and opening your arms wide for her.
  1958. >With a cry she stumbles through the last couple of metres and falls into your embrace, bowling you over.
  1959. “Ooft.”
  1960. >She lands on top of you and her chest heaves on top of yours from the effort.
  1961. >Tapping her hooves on your chest in excitement, she looks down at you.
  1962. >“I can w-walk, Anon!” A few tears roll down her white cheeks while she giddily sobs.
  1963. >You chuckle from the ground and reach up, wiping a tear from her face.
  1964. >”I can walk! I can walk! I can walk!” She repeats the mantra as if she can’t believe what she just did herself, pushing her cheek into your hand and laughing with such joy in her eyes.
  1965. >The way she looks at you makes your heart swell; and in the corner of your mind, there is only a single thought.
  1966. “Hey, Celestia?”
  1967. >*Sniff* “Y-Yes, Anon?”
  1968. “I feel like you deserve a reward. Is there something you want?”
  1969. >She hums and raises her eyebrows at you.
  1970. >”Oh? Well then-” She wiggles her rump back and forth on your legs. “-There’s only one thing I want right now, Anon.”
  1971. >She giggles as your face goes red and tenderly rubs a hoof on your chest.
  1972. >”Don’t worry, Anon. I’m just... Happy you didn’t leave. That’s-” She chokes a bit as more tears fall down her face. “-That’s the only reward I want right now.”
  1973. “Oh yeah?” You smirk
  1974. >”Mmhmm.”
  1975. “Well, I can think of something better.”
  1976.  
  1977. >She stops her hoof and inquisitively looks at you with a raised eyebrow.
  1978. >”Anon, what are you-”
  1979. >You place a hand at the back of her head and start slowly pulling her face to yours.
  1980. >Her eyes go wide and her nostrils flare, but she doesn’t offer any resistance. Her hair drapes over the side of her head and tickles the sides of your face.
  1981. >As your faces get closer, she licks her lips, and you can feel her warm breath on your mouth.
  1982. >Your heart pounds like a jackhammer in your chest.
  1983. >Her eyes flutter closed and her ears fold back against her head, and you raise your own and press her mouth to yours.
  1984. >Both you and Celestia immediately moan into each other’s mouths at the sensation of your lips locked firmly together.
  1985. >Hers are warm and slightly wet. Soft, but strong enough to push back against yours.
  1986. >Their shape is different to what you remember, reminding you that you are indeed kissing a pony. That realization makes you giggle into her lips. Celestia opens her eyes and see’s your mirthful ones, making her laugh as well.
  1987. >You relax your hand, allowing Celestia to pull back. She looks at you with half-lidded eyes and stays on top you, so that you can both enjoy the moment and the closeness of each other.
  1988. >She starts tracing a hoof over your chest while you stroke the side of her neck. You look into her half lidded magenta eyes and-
  1989. >”Hey, lovebirds.”
  1990. >You both jolt as if you’ve been caught, and Celestia grabs you tightly with her hooves.
  1991. >”I’m happy that you two managed to worked out some of your issues so fast, and I’d love to be invited to the wedding, but I need you two to clear off so I can work.”
  1992. >Emily grins while looking down at the two of you. Celestia sheepishly looks away, but unfolds her wings and covers you with them.
  1993.  
  1994. >”Ahahaha. Oh, wow, Anon! You must have ruffled her feathers juuust right! Ahahaha!”
  1995. >”Emily!” Celestia whines.
  1996. >”Ahahaha, I’m sorry, I just-”
  1997. >She tries to stop herself and looks at you with a serious face. It doesn’t hold for long before she bursts out laughing again, clutching her sides and keeling over from the exertion.
  1998. >You and Celestia give each other a look and roll your eyes as you wait for her to stop.
  1999. >It takes a while, but eventually, the now teary eyed Emily takes a few heaving breaths and finally settles down.
  2000. >“Holy shit. I-” She lets out another little giggle. ”-I really can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.”
  2001. >You shake your head at her and motion for Celestia to sit up. She sighs and pulls her wings back in, pushing herself of your torso.
  2002. >”Well, I’m glad all three of us could find something to laugh about then.” Celestia says with a pout.
  2003. >”Aww, Don’t be like that, ‘Celly’” Emily giggles again as Celestia crosses her forelegs and gives her the stink eye.
  2004. >”Seriously though, I’m happy that things worked out this way. But I really need to get back to work.”
  2005. “Alright then… Celestia?”
  2006. >She tries to stare down Emily some more. After a few more seconds of no response, she resigns with a sigh and raises her hooves for you.
  2007. >Celestia giggles this time as you pick her up. Your grip a bit more eager around her haunches. You’d say you were only compensating for the extra weight of her horseshoes, but that’d be lying to yourself.
  2008. >”Anon...”
  2009. >”Alright, alright, get out of here you two. Before you make a mess.”
  2010. >Celestia pokes her tongue out at Emily who only smiles back.
  2011. >”Oh, and Anon?”
  2012. >You spin to face her with Celestia in your arms.
  2013. >”Thank you. It really does mean the world to all of us here.”
  2014. >She holds the cheque you wrote tightly to her chest.
  2015.  
  2016. “Consider it payback for being so… ‘Cordial’ with me.”
  2017. >”Anytime! Oh, and don’t forget these. One of each after breakfast and dinner.”
  2018. >She hands you a small plastic bag filled with boxes of pills.
  2019. “Thanks, Emily. You’ve already done so much for us.”
  2020. >”Ah, don’t mention it. Now go on. Get outta here.”
  2021. >She smirks and waves you off with the same hand she hit you with and you feel Celestia waving back as you turn around and leave.
  2022. >You walk out of the office to a pleasant breeze rolling down into the valley. Casting a sidelong glance, you see the herd of ponies standing a moderate distance away.
  2023. >The sight of them makes you take a deep, satisfied breath. Your nose gratefully taking in Celestia’s scent. You whisper in her ear and nod in their direction so that she can see what you just saw.
  2024. >She opens her mouth to protest, but stops when she sees them all lined up. A banner held up in front of them that reads ‘Get well soon, Princess!’
  2025. >There’s also the outline of a little white blob with green hair that could be mistaken for a pony painted on the far end of it.
  2026. >A few of the ponies are saluting, some are bowing, others just sit and stare, while all the rest wave. Almost all of them have smiles on their face, including the old black stallion who had looked so crushed before.
  2027. >You feel Celestia’s breathing hitch, and you look sidelong at her. Her body has started shaking again, but the loving motherly smile that can be seen on her face makes your heart swell.
  2028. “Give them a wave, Celly.”
  2029. >She looks at you in surprise, then looks at her own wrapped hoof. Her eyes flicker back and forth for a few moments until she slowly raises it high and waves it back and forth.
  2030.  
  2031. >A loud cheer erupts from the crowd, though they all stay where they are: waving at you with renewed fervour as you continue your journey and carry Celestia up the slope.
  2032. >The big cry-baby mare in your arms sobbing and waving back at them the whole time.
  2033. >You heft her back around the side of the main house and deposit her in the still open boot of your car. The big pony trying to wipe her still wet eyes on her forelegs.
  2034. >As you gently set her down and move away, she pulls strongly with her shoed hooves on your back, wrenching you back into her reach for another kiss.
  2035. >You’re surprised, but you push back into her, forcing her lips open slightly as one hand cups her face and the other strokes the side of her barrel.
  2036. >Holding the position for a while before pulling back, a thin strand of saliva stretches between your lips. Celestia moves in and rests her forehead against yours
  2037. >”Just a visit to the vet. Right, Anon?
  2038. “Yea... You see I got this mare who keeps doing this thing to my face and- mgnhfdhfjd”
  2039. >You mumble into her mouth as she kisses you again. A quick peck this time that only lasts a few seconds.
  2040. >You chuckle as she soon lets go of you, allowing you to move back and take a breath of air.
  2041. >”Well, it looks like I found a way to keep you quiet.” A lascivious grin adorns her face.
  2042. “It certainly seems so.” You copy her earnestly.
  2043. >She moves herself further into the back, allowing you to shut her in. Closing the boot, you swiftly move around the side and hop in the front.
  2044. >The engine roars to life as you turn the ignition and start moving back down the driveway.
  2045. ”Let's head home, Celestia.” You say to her as you pass the establishment’s sign and turn back onto the road.
  2046.  
  2047. >She hums her agreement and settles back into her nest of blankets, quickly laying her head down before gradually dozing off to the sound of road passing under tire and the subtle hum of the engine.
  2048. >Staying asleep for the rest of the car ride, Celestia only makes a small noise or flicks an ear whenever you go over a bump. The rest of the time she stays relatively motionless, apart from the occasional shift of her hind legs or the soft muttering of your name.
  2049. >After a while, you’re back at home, entering the garage.
  2050. >Leaving Celestia to get as much rest as she likes in the back of the car, you set about completing the remaining chores from earlier in the day.
  2051. >You order some home delivered groceries based on the list Emily gave you, pull the mattress back inside, and sort out the dirty laundry. You’ll have to do something to remedy the towel situation, but that can wait.
  2052. >It isn’t long before the food and other small tidbits you ordered arrive, dropped off by a man and a small red coated and yellow maned earth pony. The small creature looks almost catatonic sitting in the passenger seat, but she exits the vehicle nonetheless and helps out upon her owner's command.
  2053. >You try to pretend like there’s nothing wrong, but a part of you is a bit incensed, especially after everything that’s happened today.
  2054. >Once you’ve put everything away and gotten dinner cooked, you go rouse Celestia from the back of the car.
  2055. >She groggily wakes up and looks around, a lazy smile stretching across her face as she sees you.
  2056. >”Hello there, Anon. Enjoying watching me sleep?”
  2057. “Why don’t you come here and find out?”
  2058. >She gives you a coy smile and tries to drag herself over to you. She grunts from the effort, but doesn’t budge from where she lies.
  2059. >”Umm, I think I’m a little worn out at the moment.”
  2060. “It’s ok, Babe. You’ve had a busy day.”
  2061.  
  2062. >”Wha- What did you just call me, Anon?” Her face lights up with a blush.
  2063. “Huh? Did I say something wrong, Celestia?”
  2064. >”N-No, no you didn’t say anything wrong.” She says before she tries to drag herself again, her hooves weakly pulling on the floor of the boot.
  2065. “Need some help?
  2066. >”No, I… Yes I do... Please, Anon.”
  2067. >You reach in and pull Celestia out by tugging on the blankets under her. She lets out a surprised laugh as she is dragged along on top of them, before adopting the usual pose for you to help pick her up.
  2068. >You carry her into the kitchen, deposit her at the dining table and serve her dinner. She eagerly digs in, burying her muzzle in the assorted cooked fruits and vegetables with a ravenous fury.
  2069. >Watching her devour the food in under a minute, you get the feeling that she’s well on the road to recovery. Especially when she sheepishly looks up with a messy face and asks you for seconds.
  2070. >This belief is reinforced when after dinner, you ask her if she wants a slice of cake and her jaw nearly hits the table.
  2071. >Cleaning her muzzle up with a napkin after desert, you help her take her pills by placing them in the back of her mouth before helping her wash it down with a glass of water.
  2072. >When you ask her what she wants to do before bed, she sheepishly poke her plate with a hoof and says she doesn’t care. As long as it’s with you.
  2073. >After giving her an ear scratch, you carry her into the living room and sit down on a couch in front of the T.V. with her. She lays by your side, head and hooves resting across your lap as you both watch a movie: Dragonheart.
  2074. >It’s an old favourite of yours from the 90s about a dragon who is the last of its kind. The creature is terribly old. And it longs for death, but fears it.
  2075.  
  2076. >One of your hands idly scratches her ear as you watch, and Celestia is quick to point out and laugh at the atrocious acting and the silly human characters. But; every time the dragon talks about how old it is, how alone it is, about passing on; she gets quiet and strokes your leg with a hoof.
  2077. >Before you know it, the movie reaches its climax. Leaving Celestia happily sobbing as the mystical music plays off into the credits.
  2078. “You doing alright there, big girl?”
  2079. >Instead of saying anything, she pushes herself to her hooves and gives you a peck on the cheek, before falling back into your lap.
  2080. >You idly stroke her neck as she lies there and draws circles on your leg. A few happy sniffs coming from her as you enjoy each other’s presence.
  2081. >Sitting there in silence is relaxing, and you start to drift off, until Celestia quickly pushes off of you.
  2082. “What’s up, Celly?”
  2083. >She fidgets on her hooves for a while.
  2084. >“I may need to, um, ‘relieve’ myself… again.”
  2085. >You frown.
  2086. >10 minutes later and another unspeakable deed is done.
  2087. >After washing her hooves and your hands, you brush her teeth for her. The slippery tongue in her mouth is not as affectionate with your finger this time. Most likely due to what you just helped her with.
  2088. >Carrying Celestia again to the bedroom and depositing her on the now clean mattress adorned with sheets, you go and handle your own ablutions.
  2089. >Unfortunately, by the time you return from having a shower -- towel wrapped around your naked waist -- Celestia is lying on the bed. But she’s not sleeping.
  2090. >Her breathing is heavy and her hooves tug on the blankets. Small little gasps of pain escape her mouth, as her wings fidget on her back.
  2091. >Reality comes crashing back down, and you frown and go looking for the Estrus pills and another glass of water.
  2092.  
  2093. >When you return to the bed, Celestia is already keeled over. Clutching her abdomen as she takes shuddering breaths near the head of the bed.
  2094. “Alright, Celestia. Here we go.”
  2095. >You prop her head up and hold the half of a pill to her mouth.
  2096. >Instead of opening her own maw wide like with the other pills, she clutches your arm with a curled hoof and looks at you with pained eyes.
  2097. >”A-Anon.”
  2098. “I know Celestia, but we need to do this for a little bit longer. Emily’s won’t let us down.”
  2099. >”N-Not that. I, ngh, just want y-you to remember-” She cringes from the pain.
  2100. “Remember what?”
  2101. >”W-when I take this, I… I-I might ask things of you.”
  2102. “I won’t do anything untowards-”
  2103. >”N-No!”
  2104. >She grips your arm tighter.
  2105. >“I-I’m saying it’s ok.”
  2106. “But Celes-”
  2107. >”A-Anon, please! Emily told you, r-right? W-with this dosage, I-I’ll still be me. I won’t b-be like I was when you f-first found me.”
  2108. >Her body squirms but her gaze holds steady. Her mouth hangs slightly open as she pants.
  2109. >You look closely at her pleading purple pupils. Guilt rips through you for a variety of obvious reasons. But her agonized expression makes your hesitation hurt even more.
  2110. >”D-Do you trust me, Anon?”
  2111. >You pause for a moment before giving a firm nod.
  2112. >”G-good. T-Then, because I-I trust you, I-I won’t ask you to do anything you d-don’t want to.”
  2113. >She gives you a loving smile before seething again.
  2114. >You decide to throw caution to the wind, and press the pill against her mouth.
  2115. >She thankfully looks back up at you and opens her muzzle wide, allowing you to deposit the pill on the back of her tongue. With a swig of water and a gentle rub of her throat, she gulps down the ‘medicine’.
  2116. >Closing her eyes and humming, she whispers a ‘thank you’ before another tremor of pain rocks her body.
  2117.  
  2118. >Dragging over her pillow, you gently set her head down and see to stroking her barrel. You Count the seconds internally; and bracing yourself for when one set of symptoms dies down and another begins.
  2119. >Like before, eventually her body stops shaking. The hisses of pain subside. And her body unfolds and stretches out.
  2120. >She starts cooing happily and rubs her face against the pillow as your hands move back and forth, scratching a trail in her snow white coat.
  2121. >”Mmmm, Anon.” Her eyes slowly open.
  2122. >Your hand stops. A wave of heat moving through your body as she speaks up.
  2123. >”My… Anon…”
  2124. >She moves a hoof of down and puts it on top of your wrist. Giving a slight push, she encourages your continued ministrations while she purrs.
  2125. >”Ohhhh… that feels nice…”
  2126. >She slowly opens her eyes and looks at you with a smouldering gaze.
  2127. >”Why don’t you just... lie down. I think we should both try to get a bit… ‘Comfortable’.”
  2128. >You oblige her request and settle down on your own pillow next to her. Your head rests directly opposite hers, and she cheekily pokes her tongue out at you as you lie side-on to each other. >Chuckling at her antics helps ease the tension, until she starts licking her lips in a slow and deliberate motion.
  2129. >The long flat organ curls up and around her mouth before she angles her head slightly and slowly drags it along the pillow.
  2130. >She quickly retracts it and spits a few times, making you laugh. However, she’s achieved her intended effect, as you’re already rising to the occasion. Something that Celestia soon discovers with a quick glance down at your waist.
  2131. >”Still got it.” She grins triumphantly at you.
  2132. “No arguments here.”
  2133. >”Likewise.” She giggles before her eyes wander back down. “Anon… Considering all the, er, ‘free looks’ you’ve gotten-”
  2134. “But you’re a pony. You don’t wear clothes. Not really fair is it?”
  2135.  
  2136. >Her ears fold back and she pouts at you.
  2137. >You hold your composure for a while and give her your best shiteating grin.
  2138. >”Anoooooon!”
  2139. “Hahahahaha, alright, alright… If your highness demands it.”
  2140. >While reaching under yourself with your free hand and tugging the towel away, you keep your eyes on the mare in front of you.
  2141. >As your swelling member flops free of its covering, she lets out a small whinny. A small voice in the back of your mind screams in repulsion at the distinctly horse-like act, but your other head throbs from the attention.
  2142. >When -- after a short wait -- your now fully erect shaft slaps against your stomach, Celestia gives another small whinny and flares her nostrils. Her hungry eyes stare lasciviously at your pride, and her cheeks are quickly becoming flushed.
  2143. >Your nose picks up the pungent smell of something earthy in the air. You recognize it clear as day, and peek down to catch Celestia in the midst of grinding her thighs together while her tail twitches back and forth.
  2144. “Enjoying the view?”
  2145. >She licks her lips.
  2146. >”Very much so, Anon.”
  2147. >As she cautiously reaches out with a hoof. You grin and lean back slightly. It’s only when the cold touch of her metal horseshoe makes contact with you do you regret the action.
  2148. >Letting out a yelp from the sensation, you grab Celestia’s hoof and push it away, formulating a new plan of attack as some of enthusiasm leaves your lower half.
  2149. “Woah, whoa, whoa.”
  2150. >Flinching and quickly pulling her hoof back, she looks at you with worry. Though her expression melts into one of bliss as you resume stroking her barrel.
  2151. “I know you’re excited. Lord knows I am too.”
  2152. >You drum your fingers along her side, eliciting a pleased hum.
  2153. “But, what if we tried starting off slow?”
  2154. >The big white mare lying across from you lets out a frustrated groan.
  2155.  
  2156. “Hey, hey. Hear me out.”
  2157. >She pulls her hooves to her chest and pouts again. Her ears flicking in irritation.
  2158. “How about you lie there and relax. While you let me-” You move your hand down and slowly trace a circle on her stomach. “Tend to your needs.”
  2159. >The expression on her face lights up and she eagerly nods in agreement.
  2160. >“I… I think I’d like that quite a bit, Anon.”
  2161. “I thought you might...”
  2162. >You start putting some force behind your fingers, using them to massage her body wherever they go.
  2163. “Now, why don’t you just lay back-” You spread your fingers wide and slowly push your hand south at a snail's pace. “And let me know how I’m doing.”
  2164. >The flustered mare bites her lip and looks you in the eye, giving the confidence to start moving lower.
  2165. >As your thumb runs over her teat, she takes sharp breath.
  2166. >You stop and raise an eyebrow.
  2167. >Celestia gives you a dopey smile in return and nods.
  2168. >Finding the little protrusion again isn’t difficult, and Celestia lets out a muffled cry as you trace several rings around the sensitive point.
  2169. >You quickly move your hand to the other teat and pinch it ever so gently. Rolling the swollen nub between your thumb and fingers elicits a feminine moan and a small shudder as the mare reacts to your every motion.
  2170. >Although you feel like hanging around and playing a bit more, Celestia speaks up.
  2171. >”Please, Anon… Hurry.” She places a hoof on your hand and starts pushing you lower.
  2172. >From the way her legs slowly spread wider the further south you go, and the subtle quivering all over her body, you can tell she’s already very tightly wound.
  2173. >Despite this, you can’t help yourself, and pull your hand away just as it’s about to reach her pulsing button.
  2174. >”Wha?! Anon!? Why?!” She smacks your arm with the metal horseshoe on her hoof.
  2175.  
  2176. >That’s probably gonna cause another bruise, but you can’t help but laugh.
  2177. “Because I want to enjoy you-”
  2178. >You lean forward and place your hand on the inner thigh of a spread wide hind leg, your palm and fingers rubbing up and down.
  2179. “-As much as I can.”
  2180. >”Hng, ngh, o-okay, unf- Anon. But -oh- please don’t keep me -ah- waiting any longer.”
  2181. >She struggles to stay focused as you push up against the outside of her folds every time you move your hand up to the base of her leg.
  2182. >Suddenly, you give her a cocky smile, making her eyes go wide as you rub down the length of her leg one last time and spread her lips apart with your fingers.
  2183. >”Anon, please!” She takes a sharp intake of breath while the leg you were just rubbing kicks uselessly at the air.
  2184. >Finally deciding that playtime is over, you give in to her demands and press your thumb into her shifting button.
  2185. >”Unnngggghhh. Yeessssss!”
  2186. >Her hips jerk. Violently.
  2187. >Without skipping a beat, you apply a slight pressure to the large fleshy protrusion that pokes in and out of her folds. As you start rubbing it in a circle, Celestia opens her mouth in an ‘o’ shape and lets out a throaty moan.
  2188. >”Oooooohhhhhhh, Gods, Anon! Ah, I’m-” *pant* “I’m already gonna-”
  2189. >You double your efforts and start rubbing her winking slit with your digits while your thumb pushes her over the limit.
  2190. >”Anooooonnnn!” She cries your name out and suddenly grabs your head with both hooves.
  2191. >She pulls you towards her and ravenously smashes her lips into yours. A large cry comes from her occupied mouth as she rides the wave. Her clitoris winking at a furious pace as you continue to rub her soaking lips.
  2192. >It carries her for several seconds, her body trembling the whole time, until suddenly her entire body relaxes and she falls exhausted back to the bed.
  2193.  
  2194. >You pull your hand away from her flower and stare in wonder at the spent mare.
  2195. >Before you can say anything, she lazily pushes you over onto your back, and pulls herself close enough that she can rest her head and hooves on your chest.
  2196. >A few tremors pass through her body from time to time as she basks in the afterglow. A dopey smile plastered on her face, and her eyes closed in bliss.
  2197. “I’m getting the impression you enjoyed that?” You say as you snake your clean hand around to her back so you can scratch in between her wings.
  2198. >She lets out a satisfied hum in response and rubs her muzzle into your chest.
  2199. >The affectionate contact reminds you of your own excited state, still standing tall and raring to go. You carefully stroke her back a few more times before deciding to speak up about it.
  2200. “You think you could maybe return the favour, gorgeous?”
  2201. >A loud snore is your answer as Celestia has apparently slipped off into the dreamworld.
  2202. >You stare down at her in disbelief, but the sight of her messy mane draped around her exhausted smiling face doesn’t allow you to stay mad at the big white pony.
  2203. “I guess it’s good night then, Celly.”
  2204.  
  2205. >She giggles in her sleep as you stare at your wet and now rather sticky hand.
  2206. >You look down at her again, before wiping it off on her coat.
  2207. >What she doesn’t know can't hurt her. Right?
  2208.  
  2209. Part 8 - short update
  2210.  
  2211. >A finger traces a circle on your chest.
  2212. >”You don’t hang out with friends much, do you, Anon?”
  2213. “Wha- I have plenty of friends! Like… Jason? You know him right?
  2214. >”One old friend playing video games with you and coming over once in a blue moon does not a group of friends make, Anon.”
  2215. >You sigh.
  2216. “Well… I’ve got a lot of ‘friends’. We used to be close. But…”
  2217. >”You grew apart?”
  2218. >Your hand runs through her hair.
  2219. “Something like that...”
  2220. >The sympathetic sigh that leaves her mouth makes you feel a bit bad.
  2221. >”Well… Maybe I can introduce you to some of my friends then?”
  2222. “The political ones? I’m not too sure we’d get along.”
  2223. >She jokingly smacks your chest.
  2224. >”It’ll be fine!
  2225. >I know you don’t like getting involved in that sort of thing, but they’re really good people!”
  2226. “Yea, I’ll bet…”
  2227. >”Just promise me you’ll think about it.”
  2228. >She pulls herself up and leans in to you.
  2229. “Alright… I promise.”
  2230. >Angling your head slightly, you close your eyes and meet her rosy lips.
  2231. >It’s nothing special. Something you’ve done a thousand times before. This time though, something is wrong.
  2232. >Her lips feel different. Harder. Thicker. Broader.
  2233. >She lets out a hum that’s different from her usual one. A more mature and motherly tone reaching your ears.
  2234. >The back of her head feels strange. The shape is narrower. Her hair is thicker. An ear flicks away from your touch.
  2235. >Panic rushes through you.
  2236. >You pull back and see the face of an earthen horse with a white coat. Its large tongue flicking out to lick its lips.
  2237. >The dull bulbs of its black eyes devoid of any intelligence.
  2238. >A scream comes from the door and you look over, seeing Jessica now standing in the doorway.
  2239. >Her clothes are torn to shreds and her body is covered in blood. Several of her limbs are twisted and broken in unnatural ways and she points a rotting finger at you.
  2240.  
  2241. >You let out a scream and-
  2242.  
  2243. ~~~~~
  2244.  
  2245. >-Open your eyes to the dark ceiling of your bedroom.
  2246. >No woman or pony pressing their lips to yours. No cadaver or corpse standing in the doorway.
  2247. >The only sensation being the weight of Celestia lying your heaving chest.
  2248. >Her eyes still closed in restful slumber and she makes small muttering sound while her hooves twitch back and forth.
  2249. >A feeling of affection blossoms in your chest. The moments you shared yesterday still warm in your heart.
  2250. >You reach out a hand to stroke through her multi colored hair that’s currently messily strewn all over you.
  2251. >However, as you get close, the images from the dream flit across your mind. Your hand pauses and guilt creeps through you like some twisted corruption, poisoning your thoughts.
  2252. >You had bought a drugged slave pony, put her in danger, made out with her, and then did… that.
  2253. >Taking a deep breath, you unsuccessfully try to calm yourself.
  2254. >You can feel your irritation growing by the second.
  2255. >Being careful not to disturb her, you gently reach down and move Celestia off you.
  2256. >She lets out a few groans in objection and her hooves stubbornly drag along your stomach before you delicately lay her down on her own pillow.
  2257. >While making as little noise as possible, you drag your naked body out of bed and slip some workout clothes on.
  2258. >As you quickly check the time, the clock on your phone tells you that it is currently five in the morning.
  2259. >When you check on her again, the sleeping mare brings a smile to your face as she weakly grabs at the air with her hooves. A small frown on her face.
  2260. >You’d like to think that maybe she’s searching for you.
  2261. >Your face twist in self-disgust.
  2262. >Of course you’d think that. Of course she’s just head over heels for the human that keeps drugging and taking advantage of her. You little, manipulative, dickhead.
  2263.  
  2264. >Shaking your head, you leave the room and walk down the hall and open one of the side doors to your personal gym.
  2265. >It's probably one of the only rooms you still frequently use in the house.
  2266. >Without delay; you plug some earphones into your phone, move over to the multi-purpose rack, and start warming up. The repetitive exertions a welcome distraction from your accusing conscience.
  2267.  
  2268. ~~~~~
  2269.  
  2270. >You toss and turn in the sheets. The worrying absence of something that should be there -- that should be with you -- preventing you from calming down.
  2271. >After a few more moments you let out a sigh and give up. Your bleary eyes slowly opening as you reach out with your hooves to find the thing that went missing.
  2272. >The room is dark, and your internal clock is off from your time in the cages.
  2273. >The cages!
  2274. >A bolt of panic runs through you, very quickly waking you.
  2275. >You flail around, trying lift yourself up and get a better look around.
  2276. >Your legs are still so weak, though you already feel stronger than yesterday.
  2277. >Anon is nowhere to be seen. Nor is there any discernible note.
  2278. >Although, the simple fact that you're currently clean and not surrounded by a bunch of slimy humans quells a lot of your concern.
  2279. “Anon?”
  2280. >The house is quiet as no response comes.
  2281. “Anooon?”
  2282. >He couldn’t have, right?
  2283. “Anon??”
  2284. >You didn’t scare him off when you requested his… help, did you?
  2285. >Maybe you needed to sit down and have a proper chat with him.
  2286. >I mean, you are an old mare. But old mares have desires too!
  2287. >The memory of Anon’s hand dancing on your nethers brings your attention to the warm fire currently burning in your bottom half.
  2288. >Taking deep breaths, you try to keep control of your train of thought.
  2289. >Fight back against the drugs pumping through your system, Celestia.
  2290. >You need to keep yourself under control.
  2291. >You need to keep yourself focused.
  2292.  
  2293. >You need to remember the feeling of his hands caressing and stimulating your sensitive-
  2294. >Nostrils flare as you take in a deep breath, your senses on fire as they’re swamped with Anon’s scent. The thick smell hangs heavy over the room. It’s odour tantalizing in so many good ways.
  2295. >Thighs slickly grind. A tail impatiently flicks. Small tingles of pleasure snake their way up your spine, making your whole body shudder.
  2296. >A covered hoof slowly drifts down your body as you relish in the tugging feeling of your dock slowly raising your tail out of the way. Your body eagerly preparing itself for Anon’s-
  2297. >Wait… Anon!
  2298. >He showed you his-!
  2299. >And you didn’t-!?
  2300. >Even after he-?!
  2301. >The current haze over you mind clears as a hurricane of embarrassment sweeps through you.
  2302. >You let out a groan and curse under your breath.
  2303. >You’re how old now? Just what kind of rude filly are you? And now you’ve probably scared him off.
  2304. >A quick shake of your head clears those thoughts.
  2305. >Anon -- human as he may be -- is giving you the chance to save your ponies. You need to make it count.
  2306. >Looking around, you spy the car keys on the bedside table.
  2307. >You let out a sigh of relief and stand up fully on the bed.
  2308. >Your hind legs are even weaker after last night’s fun. A fact that makes you giggle to yourself.
  2309. >A quick inspection of your wings reveals not too much wrong with them, your efforts in the car yesterday having cleaned them up considerably.
  2310. >Like every morning, you reach and out try to push magic through your horn.
  2311. >Also like every morning, the dull sensation of a phantom limb that should be there is all you can feel.
  2312. >With the utmost care, you gracefully fall off the side of the bed.
  2313. >Emily’s work is already paying off as your hooves barely feel any pain.
  2314.  
  2315. >Unfortunately, your legs are still too weak. You tumble as you hit the ground, letting out a yelp as you collapse onto your barrel.
  2316. >Smooth, Celestia. Good to see you still remember the finer points of being a princess.
  2317. >At least Anon didn’t see it.
  2318. >With an indignant huff, you once again put your hooves under yourself and shakily stand up.
  2319. >Giving one last look around the room, you take another deep breath for the road and set off down the long hallway.
  2320. >The going is slow, and it isn’t far before your muscles are screaming for you to stop. But this is truly the first chance you’ve had to go wherever and do whatever you want.
  2321. >You’re going to enjoy it as much you can.
  2322. >As you push on, step after gruelling step, your ears flick towards a side door after you hear a faint grunting.
  2323. >The small knot of worry in your chest starts fading as you identify it as Anon.
  2324. >You gradually approach the door, a slight panting in your breath from the exertion.
  2325. >With the slightest nudge from your muzzle, the door sweeps open.
  2326. >Your eyes go wide and you feel your engine suddenly revving at maximum when the thick smell of him hits your nose.
  2327. >He’s sitting side-on to you with some earphones plugged in. Doing some exercise where he pulls a bar down to his chest.
  2328. >Silently, you ogle him as he pulls it down again. The muscles around his shoulders flexing deliciously as he does so.
  2329. >But you notice something that kills your mood.
  2330. >He looks upset.
  2331. >His eyes just stare straight forward, not even noticing you while they try to bore a hole through the wall.
  2332. >You feel there’s a bit of anger in the way he grunts after each motion.
  2333. >Beyond all that though, he just looks so sad.
  2334. >Like someone he knows just died.
  2335. >You really do need to have that one on one with him…
  2336.  
  2337. >While making as little noise as possible, you back away from the door and continue down the hall.
  2338. >One shaky hoof step at a time.
  2339. >Before long, you arrive at the kitchen, your horseshoes giving a metallic clink as you walk on the tiled floor.
  2340. >There’s nothing in here that is of use, so you continue on to the living room.
  2341. >Taking a small break to relax your muscles and gather your strength first, you manage to hoist yourself up onto the couch with what feels like a herculean effort.
  2342. >Reaching over, you grab the remote between your covered hooves.
  2343. >You dimly note that you still haven’t told Anon how much you liked the colour of them.
  2344. >Nor have you told him how much better you’re doing thanks to him.
  2345. >Really haven’t told him a lot of the things you want to.
  2346. >All you’ve done is bite and yell and force yourself on him.
  2347. >No wonder he’s angry.
  2348. >No. No, Celestia. Don’t beat yourself up. There’s a lot that's happened between you the past few days.
  2349. >You both just need some time alone…
  2350. >Maybe...
  2351. >Shaking your head of negative thoughts, you plump your rear on the couch with a wet squelch.
  2352. >A blush comes to your cheeks as you let out a small moan.
  2353. >A quick look around confirms that no one saw that, so you instead focus intently on the remote to distract yourself.
  2354. >After a bit of humming and hawing, you soon rediscover how to operate it.
  2355. >With a satisfactory beep, the T.V. turns on.
  2356. >Before you can change anything, a news headline booms out across the room, as an announcer talks over the footage of police tape being drawn over the doorway a small pony slave shack.
  2357.  
  2358. >”A gruesome scene unfolds this morning as a civil enforcer was found horribly disfigured in Refugee District 9 last night. A police lead sweep of the slums has still not returned any leads, and the ‘unique nature’ of the attack has prompted the lead investigator to issue a statement: requesting that any person who has information related to last night’s attack, to please call crime stoppers on-”
  2359. >The remote falls from your hooves as your mouth falls open in shock.
  2360. >A large blackened hole has been blown in the side of the small pony housing establishment on the screen. Tendrils of charred black lightning snake away from it, and the way the wood splinters outwards tells you where it came from.
  2361. >A small smile comes to your face as you recognize the tell-tale signs of what happened.
  2362. >Something that should be impossible.
  2363. >Something that anypony, anywhere, should be able to recognize.
  2364. >Somepony just used magic for the first time in a long, long time.
  2365.  
  2366. Part 9 (Nine)
  2367.  
  2368. “Eight… Nine… C’mon dickhead, you can do it, c’mon, c’mon, hnnngggg-” With shaking arms, you push with all your might. “Ten!”
  2369. >You practically drop the barbell back into the rack with a loud clank as you finish the final military press. The muscles in your shoulders are stiff and sore while a persistent warmth makes you guzzle water as you try to cool down.
  2370. >Testosterone has been pumping through your blood from the strenuous reps, getting you quite worked up. Combined with how pent up you’ve been, you were on edge in quite a few ways.
  2371. >In addition to this, you were feeling strangely tired and irritated, despite having just woken up.
  2372. >The workout hadn’t helped much with your focus. In fact, as the reps got harder, the images from the dream had become more and more intrusive.
  2373. >Yet still, your mind dances around Celestia.
  2374. >The things that happened yesterday.
  2375. >What you did for her...
  2376. >What you did to her...
  2377. >Did you enjoy it? Of course.
  2378. >Did you feel like a piece of shit for taking advantage of a drugged slave you just bought? Oh yes.
  2379. >Does the fact that you technically made out with a horse -- and enjoyed it -- make you want to go to a coven and live out your days in silence as a repentance? A little bit, yeah.
  2380. >Again, the intelligent face of Celestia leaning in for a kiss in your mind’s eye transforms into the blocky earthen horse. Big, black, beady eyes stare at you while it neighs, a small blob of spittle flying from its bulky lips.
  2381. >Letting out a sigh, you wipe the sweat from your brow and leave the room.
  2382. >As you open the door, you notice a patch of discolouration on the carpet in the hallway. It almost looks like someone spilled some liquid there.
  2383. >Weird.
  2384.  
  2385. >Glancing down the corridor, you see the door to the bedroom hanging wide open.
  2386. >The empty bed and the absence of Celestia is almost a relief. Your mind briefly toying with the idea that she ran away.
  2387. >Crushing the thought and quickly admonishing yourself, you start walking towards the kitchen.
  2388. >Making your way, you can hear the droning of the T.V. and the occasional clink of horseshoes on tiles.
  2389. >Knowing that she’s still here is comforting, while at the same time you start slogging through possible things to say to her about what happened. None of the options particularly clicking as good things to say.
  2390. >Rounding the corner, you stop in your tracks as you come across a peculiar sight.
  2391. >Celestia is standing on three legs in front of the fridge. The fourth is raised and pressing against the door - or rather against the water dispenser in one of the doors.
  2392. >She’s holding her body slightly low and is tilting her head to the side. Her lips are puckered and reaching out, almost wrapping around the dispenser head. The horn on her head tapping the fridge door as she gets a drink of water.
  2393. >She stops and stares sidelong at you with wide eyes. Her legs shaking as they struggle to hold her there.
  2394. >Trails of water run down the side of the fridge door and pool on the tiled floor.
  2395. >Moving slowly, you pull your earphones out and tuck them into a pocket.
  2396. >For her part, the now blushing mare slowly pulls her head back and lowers her hoof.
  2397. >You can feel heat pooling in your own cheeks as you remember what you did to her last night.
  2398. “Morning, Sunshine.” You begin.
  2399. >Her wings flit slightly.
  2400. “You, uh, a bit thirsty?”
  2401. >She stands up straight and looks around the kitchen, trying not to meet your eyes.
  2402. >”Just a bit… I’m, um, I’m a bit low on fluids these days.”
  2403.  
  2404. >Looking at her - with legs fully extended and hardly shaking; no hunched shoulders; back straight and not curved; and her head held high: You could swear that you were staring at a completely different pony than the filthy mess you bought a few days ago.
  2405. >Standing at roughly 5 feet tall to the top of her head (not counting the long protruding horn), she’s starting to develop a serious visual presence.
  2406. >Sure, her physique is still on the extremely skinny side; and the subtle tremor in her legs is no help either. In spite of this, you can see a drastic improvement in her visage and the way she carries herself.
  2407. “How’s your heat-”
  2408. >She looks up at you and tilts her head.
  2409. “Hooves! Hooves. Your hooves? You walked all the way out here this morning by yourself!”
  2410. >”Oh! Oh yes of course!”
  2411. >She takes a few steady steps towards you. Each hoof carefully placed on the ground and briefly leaned on to be sure it can handle the weight before the next one moves.
  2412. >”The infected hoof still hurts a bit, and the wires feel a bit funny; but the wrappings and the horseshoes are a lifesaver!”
  2413. >Standing up straight again, Celestia twists her head from side to side, showing herself off.
  2414. >You reach forward to scratch her ear, but hesitate at the last second and pull your hand back.
  2415. >Her purple eyes carefully follow the action, but she says nothing. A smile still warmly glowing on her face.
  2416. >Meanwhile, you scratch your sore shoulder. Frustration building at your own sudden awkward behavior.
  2417. >”Anon… I wanted to say thank you, and... Sorry.”
  2418. “Huh? Sorry for what Celly?”
  2419. >”For last night.”
  2420. >She gives you an apologetic look.
  2421. “Oh, that? Don’t mention it. I know you’re a bit loopy right now.”
  2422. >She flinches slightly and you curse under your breath.
  2423.  
  2424. >The hell is wrong with you this morning?
  2425. “Sorry, that came out wrong.”
  2426. >”No, no. You’re right. I’m not myself right now.”
  2427. >She sits down and rubs a foreleg with a hoof while inspecting the floor.
  2428. “I didn’t mean it like that, I just…”
  2429. >She doesn’t look back up at you.
  2430. “Shit…”
  2431. >The fuck are you doing? Blaming her?
  2432. >You move past her and open one of the cupboards.
  2433. >Reaching high, you grab something that might be of use.
  2434. “Oi.”
  2435. >You hold it out to her.
  2436. >She looks up. The energy from a few moments ago sapped from her face.
  2437. “You know how one of these works right?” You ask with a smile.
  2438. >She chuckles and grabs the water bottle between her two hooves
  2439. >”Yes, I do understand this complex device, Anon.”
  2440. “Good, now I don’t have to help you out every time.”
  2441. >She hangs her head.
  2442. >Damnit.
  2443. >You shift your shoulders, your body still feeling uncomfortably warm.
  2444. >”I... know I’m a bit of a pain to take care of, but-”
  2445. “No, no, I meant that you don’t need me if you want to get some water! That’s all!”
  2446. >”It’s okay, Anon. I understand…”
  2447. >She lazily uncaps the bottle with her mouth and gets herself some water from the dispenser.
  2448. >All the while you’re still sweating slightly, even though you’ve stopped working out and the room is cool.
  2449. >Fighting back a headache that’s started creeping into the back of your skull, you retrieve her pills and sit down in front of her.
  2450. “I’m sorry, Celly. I don’t know what’s wrong with me today.”
  2451. >”I get it, Anon. Taking care of a pony full time is exhausting.”
  2452. >She holds the bottle to her mouth and pulls the cap open with her teeth before taking a big drink.
  2453. >”Thanks.”
  2454. “No problem.”
  2455. >You offer a pill to her.
  2456. >She nods and opens her mouth wide, allowing you to place it on the back of her tongue like always.
  2457.  
  2458. >With a quick swig of water, she gulps it down before opening her mouth for the next one.
  2459. “It’s not hard, Celestia.”
  2460. >”Hmmm?”
  2461. “Well, I have gotten a few bruises yeah.”
  2462. >She swallows and looks solemnly at the purple marks on your arm.
  2463. “And I guess I’m a little worn out in a few ways.”
  2464. >”I knew it-”
  2465. “Ah, ah, ah~.”
  2466. >You reach forward and commit a hand to her cheek.
  2467. “You’re not a burden to me. And you never will be.”
  2468. >She smiles and leans into it, letting out a heavy sigh.
  2469. >”I was worried that I had upset you.”
  2470. “Hey, if I’m upset with you, I’ll be the first one to let you know.”
  2471. >She pokes her tongue out at you.
  2472. “It’s just that this morning I have some… things… on my mind. Didn’t sleep well, y’know?”
  2473. >She softly laughs.
  2474. >”Oh, I think I know about a bad night’s sleep.”
  2475. “Too true.”
  2476. >”... You want to talk about it?”
  2477. >She strokes your forearm with a covered hoof.
  2478. “Maybe later, I think I’ll sit on this one for a bit longer.”
  2479. >”Well, let me know if you want to share it with me, Anon. I also still feel guilty about leaving you, um, ‘hanging’ last night.”
  2480. “Don’t be. Seriously”
  2481. >You cough into a free hand as you give her the final pill. While she swallows it down, you wipe the sweat of your forehead with your workout shirt.
  2482. >”Are you okay, Anon? You’re looking a bit flush.”
  2483. “Yeah, yeah. The workout was a bit too good, I guess.”
  2484. >Celestia eyes you suspiciously, but you wave her off.
  2485. “How about we get you working up a sweat instead?”
  2486. >She snorts and flicks her tail.
  2487. “Easy girl. Your morning training program remember?”
  2488. >’Of course! I knew that!”
  2489. >The big mare huffs indignantly and sits her damp rear down on the floor. Crossing her arms in mock offense.
  2490. >Grabbing the paper from the bench you both quickly go over the plan.
  2491.  
  2492. >It’s a high intensity workout scheme tailored to ponies, with a few suggestions for the routine based on how Celestia performs.
  2493. >”I don’t think I can do most of this, Anon.”
  2494. >There’s a mixture of bodyweight exercises, including supported squats and a form of pony-push up that you’ll need to help her out with. In addition to this is the occasional gallop, and there are also some sustained low intensity trots for endurance building.
  2495. “Well, why don’t we see what we can do? Even if you can only walk around for five minutes, it's better than nothing.”
  2496. >Nodding at the half-hearted suggestion, Celestia slowly follows you outside into the decently sized backyard.
  2497. >Starting off slow, you take her through Emily’s short workout regime.
  2498. >At first you take a hands off approach. Outlining a little track in the backyard with the garden hose, you keep a careful eye on her as she slowly but surely does the laps.
  2499. >She tires in no time at all, and it isn’t long before she has to walk at a snail's pace while you move alongside her: leaning down and placing a hand under her barrel for support.
  2500. >While you assist her, she occasionally tries to start playful conversation. However, the growing haze in your head and the unintended scowl on your face deflates each attempt.
  2501. >You want to find some way to encourage her. You feel like you should be doing that much.
  2502. >You also want to make her smile again after acting like such a dipshit earlier.
  2503. >Unfortunately, the unrelenting throbbing in your head is only getting worse. Your body is also getting warmer despite the early morning chill.
  2504. >It isn’t until you shake your head in an attempt to clear the fog over your mind, does a panting Celestia say something as she finishes another lap.
  2505. >*Huff* *huff*”Anon?” *huff* “You really-” *huff* “Don’t look so good.”
  2506.  
  2507. >Trying to deflect her concerns, you stand up straight too quickly, causing a flood of black dots in your vision as you struggle to stay standing.
  2508. >Celestia leans against your wobbling legs to help stabilize you, and you place a hand on her back to help steady yourself
  2509. “I’ll be alright, Celly. How much more have you got to do?”
  2510. >”I’m-” *huff* “-good for now, Anon. My legs feel like jelly.”
  2511. “Really? Strong mare like you? Already tired?”
  2512. >You try to hide your grin as look upon her exhausted form. Shaking legs combined with a frazzled mane and exasperated breaths tell you all you need to know.
  2513. >Although you’re in no place to talk. A whole body fatigue had swept through your muscles while Celestia worked out, making you feel weak.
  2514. >She smirks back at you before carefully turning towards the back door to the kitchen.
  2515. >After slowly helping her inside, you grab her water bottle and fill it up.
  2516. >As the water runs, you rest your now boiling forehead against the cold fridge door.
  2517. >You take deep breaths as you try to get control over your spinning head. Images from the past days flashing through your mind’s eye in an incoherent mess. A muted and incomprehensible voice echoing in your ears all the while. A frustration begins digging at you again as more of the unwelcome images from the dream and Emily’s admonishment circled through your head.
  2518. >Rolling your burning forehead back and forth against the fridge door and bathing in the blissful coolness of it, you lose track of what you were doing. Your focus only returning to the real world when something sharp pokes you in the thigh.
  2519. “Ow.”
  2520. >Looking down, you see Celestia poke you in the leg again with her horn.
  2521. “Ow! Hey!”
  2522. >”Anon!”
  2523. >She looks up at you. Her brow furrowed and raised while her lips pursed in concern.
  2524.  
  2525. >”I’ve been calling out to you for a while now. Look!”
  2526. >She nods at her water bottle in your hand.
  2527. “Damnit…”
  2528. >You look down and see the bottle overflowing with water, a large puddle pooling at the bottom of the fridge.
  2529. “Guess my mind wandered a bit, hah.”
  2530. >“'Hah' nothing, Anon. You’re not well.”
  2531. “Nah, nah, I’ll be right.”
  2532. >”Anon!”
  2533. >She stomps a hoof on the tiled floor with a loud metallic clang, nearly falling over as her other legs almost buckle from fatigue.
  2534. “We still need to have a shower and breakfast, right? Let me just-”
  2535. >A few uneasy steps combined with the slippery floor almost sends you tumbling. Luckily, Celestia had preemptively leaned in, supporting you while you weakly grabbed onto the bench with a flailing hand
  2536. >As you right yourself, Celestia repeatedly pokes you in the thigh with her horn.
  2537. “Ow! Ow! Ow!”
  2538. >”Executive decision, Anon. In bed. Now! Forget about the shower. I'll handle the food. Go.”
  2539. >Holding a hand to your forehead, it really does feel like it's on fire.
  2540. >You look down at Celestia and try to smile.
  2541. >She scowls at you and lowers her horn to your leg again.
  2542. “Okay, okay.” You weakly hold your hands up in surrender. “Enough with the horn already. I’m on my way, Princess.”
  2543. >She frowns, but raises her head again to give you an intimidating stare.
  2544. >You feel like you should put up more of a fight, but you know she’s right here. It was slowly coming on before; but now that it’s hit you like a ton of bricks, sleep sounds like the best thing in the world.
  2545. >Turning carefully and using the wall to help prop yourself up, you slowly leave the kitchen and head down the hallway to the bedroom.
  2546. >Celestia carefully walks by your side the whole way. Diligently leaning against you to make sure you don’t fall despite her own severely exhausted body.
  2547.  
  2548. >As you arrive in the bedroom, you strip of your workout shirt, pull back the messy bed sheets, and practically collapse onto the soft mattress.
  2549. >Dizzy head now resting pleasantly in the pillow, you feel yourself rapidly drifting off to sleep. Only to be interrupted by the sound of a throat being cleared.
  2550. >Turning wearily to the side, you see Celestia standing at the side of the bed on shaky legs.
  2551. >”I need to make sure you stay in bed, Anon. The mattress is too high, though.”
  2552. >With a smirk and a nod, you let out a groan and swing your legs back out of bed.
  2553. >Celestia surprises you by quickly hopping up onto the mattress with her forelegs.
  2554. >You quickly lean over and hook an arm under her barrel, lifting her as she pushes weakly with her hind legs.
  2555. >Your muscles don’t have their usual strength, so you end up dropping her unceremoniously on her back on top of the sheets.
  2556. >She lets out a flustered huff before quickly righting herself.
  2557. >As you tuck yourself in, Celestia drags herself over and gives your shoulder a nudge with a hoof.
  2558. >Giving her a raised eyebrow only gets a pout in response.
  2559. >Her wings flit slightly at her sides as you stare at each other.
  2560. >You sigh and hoist the blankets high so that she can climb under them as well.
  2561. >With a delighted hum: she wiggles under the sheets and snuggles up to you - unfolding a wing and draping it across your midsection as she rests her head on your chest.
  2562. >You smile and rest your dizzy head back on the pillow. A sigh escaping your lips as you enjoy the weight and warmth of Celestia resting on top of you, while wincing at the heat and fatigue that now wracks your body.
  2563. >Your hand idly strokes along the contour of the mare’s soft back, and you whisper a small thank you to her as you quickly drift off into a hazy slumber.
  2564.  
  2565. Part Ten (10)
  2566.  
  2567. >”They say we’re young, but we don’t know~. We won’t find out unti-i-il we grow~”
  2568. >The patchy droning of the supermarket speakers makes you want to pick up the cash register and use it at as a bludgeon on the obese human woman currently screaming at you.
  2569. >Spittle flies from her gangrenous mouth that lies nearly buried in the grotesque jiggling fat folds of her face.
  2570. >This burgeoning desire is heightened by the incessant itching in your supposed to be numb horn and the fatigue weighing down your body.
  2571. >The sickness is getting worse.
  2572. >“Now you listen here, you little four legged leech. Theses coupons say 30 cents off! Right here! Look with your bug eyes!”
  2573. >She shoves the greasy clipping in your face.
  2574. “Yes Ma'am, I understand. But if you’ll just read here, it says that this offer is only valid until-”
  2575. >You try your best to smile at her. Your cheeks pulling into what must look like a horrendously twisted expression.
  2576. >”I don’t care what it says! I have a coupon here, and I am entitled to redeem it! Or do you want me to call civil service on you!? You filthy, smelly, drug-drinker!”
  2577. >Grinding your teeth, you struggle to hold back the dam of foul words that strains for the freedom to flow from your mouth.
  2578. >You can’t afford another infraction. Your emergency medicine supply is already used up.
  2579. >And that itching in your horn is getting worse.
  2580. >”Are stupid!? Or are you deaf!? Hurry up and redeem my coupon or I’m getting the manager!”
  2581. “No! Wait! You can’t-”
  2582. >You flinch as a spike of pain, like an iron nail puncturing through your skull, blossoms around the base of your horn.
  2583. >Tears pool in the corner of your eyes. You let out a gasp as you struggle to focus.
  2584. >”What in god’s name is wrong with you, creature? Are you on drugs right now?
  2585.  
  2586. “No! I’m not- argh!” Your head almost hits the counter. The fresh wave of pain making you dizzy
  2587. >”Absolutely disgusting! You’re going to get it now!”
  2588. >She pulls out her phone and starts dialing something.
  2589. “No! Please no!” You squeeze your eyes shut and try to block out the pain. “I just read the coupon again, it looks like it should go through. If you’ll please give me a- ngh... A-A moment!”
  2590. >With a look of disgusted disdain mixed with a slimy smugness, she puts away her phone.
  2591. >”Hmph”. She huffs as she stows the device in her handbag
  2592. >“About time you learned how to read. They make you lot a bit slow in Equostrie, don’t they?
  2593. “Yes Ma’am…”
  2594. >”Now, hurry up! I’m a busy woman!”
  2595. >Back hurting from sitting on your rump all day, you start swiping the items and clumsily putting them in plastic bags.
  2596. >Silently you pray to yourself that the manager won’t indict you for approving the invalid coupon code.
  2597. >Meanwhile, the supermarket music continues to play.
  2598. >”Babe~. I got you Babe~”
  2599.  
  2600. ~~~~~~~~~
  2601.  
  2602. >”Match Stick?”
  2603. >The hair on the back of your neck stands up.
  2604. “Y-yes sir.”
  2605. >He walks over to you with big lanky strides -- past all the other ponies who work at the supermarket.
  2606. >They don’t react as the life was already long gone from all their eyes.
  2607. >Finally he comes to a stop in front of you and leers down like a vicious dragon.
  2608. >”Third in-frac-tion” He says with a deadpan sing song.
  2609. >Flinching visibly, you rub the back of your head with a hoof.
  2610. ”Yes, Mr Manager, sir. Irate customer who was threatening to call corporate over an invalid coupon.”
  2611. >He tuts and shakes his head.
  2612. >”You’ve been stationed here how long, Sticky?” Your nickname rolls of his tongue drenched with contempt.
  2613. “E-Eight m-months, S-Sir.”
  2614. >You wince as another spike of pain lances through the base of your horn.
  2615.  
  2616. >”And out of those eight months, in how many of them did you receive at least three infractions?
  2617. “...All of them…” It comes out as a whisper under your breath.
  2618. >”I’m sorry, ‘Sticky’? I didn’t quite hear that.”
  2619. “All of them. Sir.” You spit through grit teeth.
  2620. >”Mmhmm. And the other two infractions this month were for no shows.”
  2621. “But, Sir! I told you why...”
  2622. >”Look. Sticks.”
  2623. >He kneels down to your eye level.
  2624. >”I’ve already been very lenient with you. Most other places throw their ponies back into the worker’s line at the first sign of trouble.”
  2625. “I know, Sir. But-”
  2626. >”But nothing, Sticky.
  2627. >Your heart drops.
  2628. >”I’ve had enough. I’ll be filing for a replacement at the end of the month. Unless some miracle happens, you’re out of here.
  2629. >Mouth and opening and closing like a fish out of water: you can’t come up with something, anything you can say that will change his mind.
  2630. ”P-Please, S-Sir.”
  2631. >He sighs and shakes his head.
  2632. >”End of the month, Match Stick, that’s how long you’ve got.”
  2633. >Your weak rear legs buckle and collapse under you. Your haunches falling to the floor.
  2634. >As the other ponies disperse, you only get a few small looks of sympathy before they start heading towards the bus stop. All of them need their prescription -- like you -- before the market becomes too dark.
  2635. >The muscles all over your body groan with fatigue. Curling up in bed is something you want to do more than anything else in the world right now. But the day isn’t over yet and you have to go on.
  2636. >Maybe -- if you really pray to Celestia and work hard -- things might just start going well for you.
  2637. >You might even hold onto your job if you get lucky. Right?
  2638.  
  2639. >The subtle throb of pain in your horn doesn’t reassure you. Picking yourself up, you follow the other ponies to the bus.
  2640.  
  2641. ~~~~~~~~~~
  2642.  
  2643. “Hey! Watch where you're going, ‘Slave’!”
  2644. >In your fatigued haze, you had bumped into the rear end of another pony.
  2645. >The mare spits on the ground in front of you, before you can even apologize.
  2646. >As she storms off, you lower your head and continue the slog through the worn down market section of the slums.
  2647. >A few ponies peddle almost rotten foodstuffs in hoof-made wooden stands, while others hustle unique trinkets that are thematically reminiscent of some aspect of Equestrian culture.
  2648. >In the dark corners and side streets, cloaked ponies partake in hushed conversation. Always checking over their shoulders for pickpockets or the human ‘civil servants’.
  2649. >While only a few are currently in sight - the humans, who watch over and enforce order in Refugee District Nine, roam the streets like looming wraiths. Towering tall in crowds; and always using their jurisdiction as keepers of the peace to ensure ponies behave in a ‘civilized’ manner.
  2650. >This usually involved doing whatever to whomever they wanted, with threats of removal from the district waiting for those who would disagree.
  2651. >Your ears flick back and forth as you keep your guard raised. Alert for anyone who may have malicious intent toward you.
  2652. >It doesn’t take long before you reach the pharmaceutical collection point: A big cylindrical run down building made of tin, wood, and glass designed to house the necessary medicines that all the Ponies needed. Most notably for the creeping sickness that they all now suffered from.
  2653. >Long lines of sick and filthy stallions and mares stretch out from each of the dispensaries counters.
  2654. >The ones at the back of the queues already fidgeting with anxiety.
  2655.  
  2656. >You join the shortest line that shuffles along at a moderate pace. A small luxury designated for working ponies as a reward system for their ‘voluntary labour’.
  2657. >Before long you reach the counter and say your name to the pony behind it. Another Pegasus whose eyes are too tired.
  2658. >She slowly types your name into a computer with a special pen strapped onto her hoof and mulls over your file.
  2659. >While you wait, you cast a sidelong glance and the uniformed stallion standing next to you. >The hard lines on his face and the multiple tears in his enforcer’s uniform speak to his daily struggle.
  2660. >”Match Stick. Another infraction.”
  2661. “Wait, wait, wait. Let me explain-”
  2662. >”Half ration of pills-”
  2663. “B-But-”
  2664. “-and restricted luxury privileges.”
  2665. “W-What if I give up the privileges? Can I get a full ration?”
  2666. >”No can do. Your infractions have an impact on how much product is delivered-”
  2667. “Please, I need them tonight! I can’t go another-”
  2668. >You groan as another surge of pain lances through your horn.
  2669. “I’m begging you!”
  2670. >The yellow mare behind the counter rolls her eyes before looking back to the computer screen.
  2671. >”Yeah, you and every other pony. There’s a mark on your file. From today. So restricted rations it is.”
  2672. “Please!”
  2673. >The enforcer pony at your side gives you a sidelong stare.
  2674. >You wilt under his gaze and lower your head.
  2675. >The dispensary pony gives you a sympathetic look before sighing.
  2676. >”I’m sorry, dear. If I give you any more, then I’ll be the one getting an indictment.”
  2677. >She pushes a small cluster of pills and meal tickets towards you.
  2678. >There’s only enough to last for one pony for the next several days until your next ration.
  2679.  
  2680. >”All the best, sweetie.”
  2681. “Yeah… You too.”
  2682. >You almost collapse as you grab the bag. The strength in your muscles was rapidly deteriorating, and your horn had started constantly burning with pain.
  2683. >There was still an option left for you though.
  2684.  
  2685. ~~~~~~~~~~~~
  2686.  
  2687. >”Lend you some meds?”
  2688. >You currently feel like breaking off your horn to stop its incessant burning, but you grit your teeth and nod. Your rations kept secure in a locked saddlebag on your side, though you’re sure they could get it open in a few seconds.
  2689. >The daunting stallion leers at you with his one eye. The scorched on cutie mark and the ‘Celestia’ burnt into the fur on his foreleg is intimidating enough without his friends -- all of them bearing similar markings -- leering at you from the pile of contraband they’re leaning over in the back of the room.
  2690. “I-I-I just need some for tonight. I-I’ll pay you back in a few days.”
  2691. >”It’s not just about paying us back, babe. It’s about asking for something that’s in high demand around these parts...”
  2692. >He sighs and looks back at his friends with a grin.
  2693. >”What do you say, Colts? Think she can ‘pay us back’ in a few days?
  2694. >”I dunno boss.” One of them stands up and slowly walks over. “This would be a serious investment. From all of us. She may have to do it in multiple ‘payments’.”
  2695. >As the sentence is punctuated by a snort and an aggressive stomp of his hoof, you tuck your tail in between your legs. This stallion was much bigger than the others, and you could already picture him crushing your skull if you made the wrong move.
  2696. >But you can’t turn away just yet.
  2697. >”Now why don’t you demonstrate some ‘appreciation’ for someone who’s about to show you some very generous charity.”
  2698.  
  2699. >There’s no misunderstanding what he wants. But you need to do this.
  2700. >Swallowing heavily, you don your fake smile and start ‘sauntering’ towards him.
  2701. >Focusing the whole way on your weak legs to stop them from shaking, a large grin spreads across his face as you sway your hips with each step.
  2702. >Without stopping, you walk past him and flick his snout with your tail.
  2703. >A sudden urge to bury your head in the mud fills you. But you stomp it down and give him an inviting whinny.
  2704. >”Hey, I think she likes you, big guy.”
  2705. >”Just try not to ruin her for the rest of us”
  2706. >His friends in the back let out a few hollers before returning to the pile of banned goods.
  2707. >Shameful curiosity burning in your gut, you take a peek under the large stallion’s barrel.
  2708. >Just as fast, you pull your head back up. Pinpricks of heat lick at your cheeks as you try to control your embarrassment and the butterflies in your stomach.
  2709. >He must be bigger than your leg.
  2710. >With a few deep breaths to calm yourself, you force another fake smile and look back at him.
  2711. >He’s snarling, and one of his hooves trembles as he glares at you.
  2712. >”Get. Out.”
  2713. >Your heart stops as the room goes silent.
  2714. >He knows.
  2715. >All the stallions in the back stand up immediately.
  2716. >”Everything alright, Big guy?”
  2717. >”Yea, what’s up, Dude?”
  2718. >He looks at you with disgust in his eyes. Tucking your tail in between your legs, you start backing up towards the exit.
  2719. >”She smells like one of them.”
  2720. >All eyes turn to you as you slowly back out of the room.
  2721. “J-just let me leave, please.”
  2722. >The boss looks at you. A cold fury smoldering in the depths of his eyes.
  2723. >”You best not show up here again, little filly. Or we’ll have a lot worse in store for a ‘civil servicer’ like you.”
  2724. “U-Understood. C-completely understood. T-Thank you for your kindness.”
  2725.  
  2726. >You bow your head as low you can and continue backing out of the slum housing that doubles as their base of operations.
  2727. >The moment you’re clear of the door, you turn and gallop as fast as your hooves will carry you.
  2728.  
  2729. ~~~~~~~~~~
  2730.  
  2731. >You step into your dismal living quarters. A dilapidated two metre tall shack that barely keeps out the rain.
  2732. >None of your friends would help out either. Most of them had already ghosted once you had shown signs of the creeping sickness.
  2733. >Unclipping the saddlebag from your back and looking over to the corner of the one room lodging. A great sigh escapes your lips and you check up on the reason for most of your suffering.
  2734. >Your little brother lies on the better of two makeshift beds. His chest heaving and his face blushing with fever. A few layers of precious blankets wrapped messily around him.
  2735. “How are you going, Tinder?”
  2736. >The only response is more laboured breathing as he tosses and turns under the sheets.
  2737. >A quick check of his temperature with your foreleg isn’t reassuring.
  2738. >He’s been sick for three days now. None of the local medical ponies know what’s wrong, and none of them have any of the equipment required to find out.
  2739. >Moving methodically, you briskly take out a pill and a mix of dreary vegetables. After grinding into powder with a covered hoof and with some coaxing, you gently feed him the paltry meal.
  2740. >Setting aside the remaining two pills for the coming days, you sit beside him and hold his hoof in your own.
  2741. “Did you have fun today? Did you read the book I left you?”
  2742. >He breathes heavily for a few moments before slowly nodding. His eyes remain shut tight.
  2743. “You’re such a smart colt. Such a strong stallion, y’know?”
  2744. >Tears pool in the corners of your eyes.
  2745. “And I know you’re gonna grow up to be big and strong and-”
  2746.  
  2747. >Small tremors rock through your body as you try to keep it together.
  2748. “A-and I know things are gonna get better for you...”
  2749. >You reach up and brush a greasy strand of mane off his face.
  2750. “T-They’re gonna get better for both of us...”
  2751. >Burying your head in the sheets, you let out a deep wail. The weight of the day and your daily struggle crashing down.
  2752. >The pain in your horn flares intensely as you scream into the covers.
  2753. >How are you going to make it through the next few days?
  2754. “Why… why, Celestia? Why is this happening to us?” You cry out in the quiet shack.
  2755. >What are you going to do for work at the end of the month? You need to work to get enough medicine for both of you.
  2756. >What if Tinder doesn’t get better?
  2757. >What if you get worse?
  2758. >What if-
  2759. *Knock* *Knock* Knock*
  2760. >The hair on the back of your neck stands on end.
  2761. >You know who it is. Those knocks came from too high up the door.
  2762. “Go away!”
  2763. >It’s no use, but you just can’t handle anything else right now.
  2764. >”Now, now, Match Stick.”
  2765. >The flimsy lock on the front door breaks as the civil servant forces your front door open.
  2766. >”Oops, guess I don’t know my own strength.”
  2767. >The overweight and balding human scratches the back of his head and steps in. A big smirk on his pockmarked face. The door’s hinges creak as it swings shut behind him.
  2768. “Just leave me alone for tonight, please!”
  2769. >”Excuse me?”
  2770. >He takes a few strides towards you. The smirk still plastered on his pasty visage.
  2771. >You grip Tinder’s hoof tighter and try to shrink away from him.
  2772. >”Is that anyway to show your thanks-” He slams the wall with an open palm as the tone of his voice turns vicious, causing the whole shack to shake. “-To the person who got you to the front of the worker’s line?”
  2773. >He licks his lips as he towers over you.
  2774.  
  2775. >Reflexively, you tuck your tail under yourself as far as it can go.
  2776. “I’m sick! I can’t do anything tonight!”
  2777. >His eyes light up and he reaches into a pocket. It seems he was waiting to hear that.
  2778. >”Oh! I heard from your little friends that you were-” He looks at your sick brother.
  2779. >You reflexively cover him with your forelegs.
  2780. >”-Missing your daily dose. But no need to fear, because I brought us something fun that can help you out. Like the good civil servant I am.”
  2781. >He pulls out a bulky, non-descript white pill that instantly makes your body go cold.
  2782. >You’ve seen what this does to other mares.
  2783. >You know what’ll happen to you if you take it.
  2784. “No…”
  2785. >”This will help with your symptoms, Match Stick. And it’ll let us have a good time!”
  2786. “Oh, Celestia help me.”
  2787. >He twirls it in his pudgy fingers, a lascivious grin adorning his slimy face.
  2788. “No! You keep that estrus shit away from me!”
  2789. >”Now, now, be a good little mare for me.”
  2790. >He bends down as you cling to your brother. His sausage fingers reaching out for your head.
  2791. >At the same time, your horn feels like electricity is coursing through it. The hot needles stabbing into every millimetre of nerve endings in the small bony protrusion on your forehead.
  2792. “Stay away!”
  2793. >You reflexively kick out as a particularly painful surge almost makes you blackout. Your back hoof colliding cleanly with his shin.
  2794. >He howls in pain and hops away.
  2795. >Letting out a gasp, the pain in your forehead swells and swells until it feels like a balloon that’s going to pop.
  2796. >A glow starts emitting from the tip of your horn as you spasm from the pain. When the surging feeling peaks, you flail your head and try pulling it off with your hooves. The pain so intolerable that you would rather it be removed from your head.
  2797.  
  2798. >”I don’t know what the fuck’s going on with you, but I’m going to fuck you up for that, Sticks-” The civil servant clutches his shin and starts limping over to you. “-You and your little brother.”
  2799. >You open your eyes and lock onto him. A focus. A target. Your horn throbs in response.
  2800. >”I’m gonna show you the worst fucking hell you, little rat!”
  2801. >He stomps over and raises a hand to strike you.
  2802. >With a mighty roar, you point your head at him and push.
  2803. >From nowhere, a chiming sound rings out before transforming into a synthetic tone.
  2804. >An orange aura encapsulates your horn as a bright orange ball forms at the tip.
  2805. >Feeling it's now or never, you rise your feet and plant them. Giving one final ‘push’ to the energy in your horn.
  2806. >”What the fu-”
  2807. >The human’s confused face is silenced as a great lance of orange light fires out of your horn, punching straight through his gut and blasting a hole in the wall behind him. Small tendrils of energy fork out like lightning from the beam, scorching and cutting anything they come into contact with.
  2808. >Little bolts of orange light angrily roll over the civil servant's body, slicing off ribbons of flesh and clothes all over him as he is thrown back against the wall with a mighty thud.
  2809. >Just as soon as it started, it’s over. The beam dissipating and your horn fizzling with energy.
  2810. >Blinking and taking in what just happened, you gasp as the fatigue and pain from before is replaced with a warm and energetic feeling that rolls back and forth from the tip of your horn to your extremities. It washes over your entire body, like taking a warm bath for the first time in years.
  2811. >Strength fills your muscles. A Familiar energy invigorates you. And a pleasant buzzing feeling once again sweeps through your entire body before dissipating in the tip of your horn.
  2812.  
  2813. >Quickly as it happened, the sensation stops.
  2814. >Standing there, you feel like you’re in some of the best shape in your life, a tear comes to your eye as you mentally reach out to your horn again and feel the same warm thrum of energy that you once felt so long ago.
  2815. >A scream pulls you out of the moment and you look up to see your neighbour peering through the charred hole in the wall.
  2816. >You look down and see the aftermath of what just happened.
  2817. >Blood is spattered all over the corner of the room where he stood. His body lies crumpled against a wall, with countless angry lacerations traced across its charred surface.
  2818. >Before you can stop yourself, your stomachs turns in protest and you empty its dismal contents.
  2819. >Your neighbour gallops away and you wipe your mouth as the reality of the situation crashes down on your mind.
  2820. >Hooves carrying you as fast as possible, you dig through a trunk next to one of the mattresses and pull out a small locked box.
  2821. >Fumbling with the combination, you start to panic as your hooves won’t move correctly.
  2822. >Then you remember.
  2823. >With a deep breath, you focus and pull forth that energy again. Your horn lights up with that lovely warm orange aura, and you grab the lock with a phantom hand; carefully twisting the numbers on the side of it to the correct combination and opening it with a satisfying click.
  2824. >Inside are a number of crumbled pieces of human money. Your last resort stash.
  2825. >Grabbing anything valuable from the room that you can, you stash them all in your saddlebag and use magic to put it on your back. Then you walk over to your younger brother: still panting and delirious with fever to notice what you just did.
  2826. “Time to go, Tinder.” You whisper as you pull him out of bed.
  2827.  
  2828. >Your legs feel stronger than you can ever remember, and you slowly help the sick colt climb onto your back.
  2829. >Looking around one more time at the miserable shack you’ve called home for the past couple of years, you let out a sigh and glance one final time at the mutilated human lying on the ground. >Sharing no words of condolence or sympathy, you whisper good riddance and take off at a light trot.
  2830. >It’s high time you got out of these slums, for more than one reason
  2831.  
  2832. Part Eleven (11)
  2833.  
  2834. >Up. Down. In. Out. Inhale. Exhale. The rhythmic swell of his chest underneath keeps you pleasantly lost half way between sleep and awake.
  2835. >The warmth of his body - a constant reminder that you’re no longer in those cages.
  2836. >No cold metal beneath a paper thin rag that doubled as a bed.
  2837. >No sudden hosing down, which was a signal for the start of a particularly dreadful day.
  2838. >But that doesn’t mean you’re not wet at the moment. And no, not just because of the drugs.
  2839. >His chest is slick with sweat. The thin sticky film gradually soaking through your coat, slowly making your skin itch.
  2840. >As much as you’d enjoy staying here, you know you should start moving.
  2841. >Opening your eyes and looking up at Anon - his face is flushed and his hair is messy from perspiration, though the human at least looks like he’s getting some sleep.
  2842. >You move a hoof up and place a cold metal horseshoe on his head.
  2843. >He gives a relieved sigh. While smiling, you reach up with a wing and wipe some of the sweat from his brow.
  2844. >Satisfied, and with a bit of effort, you retract your wings and slowly pull away. Carefully extracting yourself from the sheets so that you don’t disturb him.
  2845. >All of your legs are still pleasantly sore from the early morning workout, and there is a lovely burning in your shoulders and haunches. While they still shake under your weight, you feel more confident in your weak limbs than even a few hours ago.
  2846. >A quick glance back reminds you of the current state of your body, but you know you shouldn’t waste time dwelling on that.
  2847. >You’ll get better. Anon will make sure of it.
  2848. >Speaking of getting better, you should grab some food for Anon and yourself.
  2849.  
  2850. >Lowering your rear onto the bead and lying down on your stomach, you hang your forelegs over the side and lower them until the horseshoes touch the floor.
  2851. >The pain in your hooves is still tolerable, and so you carefully pull yourself off the edge of the bed rather than jumping down.
  2852. >”Nnnnn…”
  2853. >You spin quickly, but Anon is just groaning in his sleep.
  2854. >Letting out your own sigh, you leave the room and head down the hall towards the kitchen.
  2855. >As you make steady progress, you hold your head high and give yourself a silent cheer.
  2856. >At this rate, you’ll be galloping around the neighbourhood in no-
  2857. >One of your legs violently buckles as fatigue overwhelms it. You try getting it under you, but the sudden extra weight on your other limbs makes you stumble.
  2858. >Letting out a small yelp and flailing your legs, you collapse head first into a wall with a crunch and a groan.
  2859. “C’mon, Tia. What are you, a new born foal?”
  2860. >And you’re already talking to yourself.
  2861. >There’s a dull pain in your forehead and you’re panting slightly from the effort.
  2862. >Maybe you banged your horn...
  2863. >Looking up, you feel your heart sink as you see the long bone on your forehead has punched a hole clean through the wall.
  2864. “Oh my.”
  2865. >A small panic takes over as you jerk your head. This only makes your horn slide and gouge out more of the wall as the tip is pulled out.
  2866. >Righting yourself and looking back down, you grimace at the jagged gap in the painted blue panel. There’s no way Anon won’t notice that.
  2867. >If only you could still use magic...
  2868. >Your thoughts light up as you suddenly remember the scene from this morning’s news.
  2869. >That scoring and burn pattern was something you had become quite familiar with over your too long life.
  2870.  
  2871. >Though if the report was right, a poor pony may now have another’s blood on their hooves as a result.
  2872. >A result of a tragic set of circumstances that spurred your creation of the school for gifted unicorns in Canterlot as a preventative measure. Although that fact wasn’t exactly made public.
  2873. >Recalling these details takes you back to some of your fondest memories.
  2874. >When you met a most incredible student.
  2875. >And how you helped her realize her potential as a pony.
  2876. >Where she may be right now, you haven’t the faintest clue. But if she followed the plan, then she and her friends must be responsible in some manner for this new development.
  2877. >Still, you desperately wish she was here right now.
  2878. >Your thoughts stray as Anon’s sick form briefly interludes on your last memories of her.
  2879. >Shaking your head of the haze that’s slowly clouding your mind, you refocus on what needs to be done.
  2880. >Today is the perfect opportunity for gathering information and laying some groundwork for the future. But first - Breakfast.
  2881. >Leaving the hole behind, you slowly make your way into the kitchen.
  2882. >Your water bottle is still sitting on the bench, and you take a quick swig before refilling it and carrying it to Anon.
  2883. >He doesn’t stir from his slumber, and so you return to the kitchen and stare down the fridge door.
  2884. >Looking at the handles, then back at your hooves, you tap your chin for a few moments before walking up and sitting down in front of it.
  2885. >Reaching out and clasping it between your hooves, you wrench it open and enjoy the frigid air that sweeps across you.
  2886. >Your wings twitch eagerly at your sides.
  2887. >Squashing that hope before it can even bud, you inspect the supplies.
  2888. >The healthy amount of greens are easily accessible in the bottom draw, and there are a large variety of meats, cheeses, and some milk.
  2889.  
  2890. >You can’t quite see what wrapped items are on the top shelf, even when standing as tall as you can. But your mouth waters as you think you see the outline of some cake up there.
  2891. >Without thinking, you raise your forelegs onto a moderately high shelf so you can get a better vantage point.
  2892. >The moment you shift your weight, the shelf flips out from under your hoof and scatters its contents across the floor.
  2893. >Your hoof continues downward, the metal horseshoe punching through the flimsy glass of the next shelf before you can brace yourself against the door.
  2894. >Luckily, the glass only harmlessly cuts through some of the cosmetic covering of the Kevlar wraps on your hoof.
  2895. >Standing there, you almost feel like crying at the small disaster zone that has quickly erupted around you.
  2896. >But you won’t be stopped by something this trivial. You’ve dealt with much worse in your time.
  2897. >Scattered foodstuffs and broken glass be damned, you will cook breakfast.
  2898. >You quickly look at the clock hanging on the wall.
  2899. >Well… lunch now.
  2900. >Carefully extricating your hoof from the fridge and lowering yourself back down, you examine the few things that fell out.
  2901. >Most of it is meat. Definitely not for you.
  2902. >You learned that lesson a long time ago with the griffons.
  2903. >As you carefully pick up the scattered items and place them back in the fridge with your mouth, you read the title of each.
  2904. >Maybe this one is something that Anon would like? Hmm.
  2905. >Chicken and cheese schnitzel. Sounds good you guess?
  2906. >Placing it on the bench and cleaning up as best you can, you carefully approach the oven and look at it.
  2907. >It has 3 dials. Two of them are easily recognized temperature and time, but the third is etched with a series of confusing symbols all around the outside.
  2908.  
  2909. >Fans, squiggly lines, a light bulb, some dripping water, a pointed star, and other confusing outlines make your head swim as you wonder exactly what specific setting you should use.
  2910. >After some fruitless experiments, you settle on the picture with a half squiggle line at the top, and put some of the crumbed meat on the highest tray.
  2911. >The plastic box says 15 minutes, but you distinctly remember a human diplomat making some small talk about how he likes his meat well done. So you’ll leave it in until it’s nice and dark.
  2912. >Setting the timer and temperature, you fetch an apple from a bowl on the bench and head into the living room.
  2913. >Hopping up on the couch is getting easier and easier, though you really should get a towel so you stop staining it every time you sit down.
  2914. >Something for next time, maybe.
  2915. >Flicking on the news again, you keep the volume low so you can hear Anon if he needs anything.
  2916. >The program rolls on for a few minutes, reiterating the known facts of this morning’s news, until the news anchor informs you of an announcement by the current minister for immigration.
  2917. >You can already feel yourself bristling as the coverage transitions from the newsroom to a podium surrounded by flags.
  2918. >A man -- who you could ‘affectionately’ characterize as a potato -- walks into view.
  2919. >You were quite familiar with him. An overweight human with a few wispy strands of hair poking out the top of his round head, whose character was an appropriate rotten mush. He had clearly authoritarian tendencies and saw your ponies as convenient scapegoats for his rise to power
  2920. >When you had arrived in this place, he hadn’t much sway. That had changed as the burden of pony refugees in human society increased, and he spearheaded hard-line approaches on the response to the pony crisis.
  2921.  
  2922. >Taking an angry bite from the apple, you focus through the slight haze that still addles your mind so that you can dissect what this detestable human is about to say. A small fear in your heart warning you that this moment may be a significant turning point for human-pony relations.
  2923. >With a phlegmy clearing of his throat, he starts.
  2924. >”My fellow countrymen. I stand before you appalled, and regrettably, vindicated at the disgusting acts carried out last night in Refugee District Nine. Between the hours of seven and nine o’clock, one of our finest and most dedicated civil servants, who devoted himself tirelessly to the aid of these… Ponies…”
  2925. >The word drips of his tongue like venom as he scowls.
  2926. >”Was attacked. His selflessness -- a key hallmark of the values we hold dear -- rewarded with a disgusting act of depraved and excessive violence. An act which deformed his body in such a way that we as of this point have been unable to the nature of the method by which he was taken from us.”
  2927. “I’m sure he was as despicable as you, you monster.”
  2928. >You mutter under your breath and squeeze the apple in between your hooves before taking another bite.
  2929. “No, Celestia, you need composure.”
  2930. >You scold yourself and try to keep your temper in check as he continues.
  2931. >”We have opened our arms and emptied our pockets so that we may take care of these desperate creatures in their time of need - and they have rewarded us with nothing but contempt, violence, and exploitation of our good will. Now, the member opposite me has continued in his stubborn ignorance, and insistence, that these... Leeches... On our society are victims? Well. I now point to the true victims.
  2932.  
  2933. >A single crocodile tear rolls down his cheek and he taps the podium with a grubby finger.
  2934. >”This earnest young man - who was taken from us last night for showing kindness to these visitors from another world.”
  2935. >He raises a hand and gestures at the flags behind him.
  2936. >”Our country - which has shown exemplary human standards of compassion and love. As such, I am announcing the roll-out of long sought after changes to the Sentient Pony and other Equestrian’s Entitlement Coordination and Integrated Employment Services act.
  2937. >You throw the apple at the ground where it bounces with a heavy thud.
  2938. “That’s because you’re exploiting them, you decrepit sack of human life!”
  2939. >You yell at the T.V. as your hooves shake.
  2940. >”For too long, they have been allowed to do as they will in their communities. Spreading violence and degeneracy where they go. And now I say enough is enough. The amendment I will be proposing this afternoon will ensure harsher restrictions on medicine and food rationing. And it will also reduce privileges already generously afforded to those who, grudgingly and apathetically, contribute paltry scraps back to our nation. My hope is: that if they learn that they are not entitled to a free ride - then they will learn an appreciation. For hard work. For contributing back to the people. For this country, which has already given them so much.”
  2941. >A vein feels like it will burst in your forehead as applause erupts around the podium, and you stick your head into the cushions.
  2942. >You want to yell and scream until your throat is ragged. Instead, you crumple into the couch, exhausted. A small trail of tears falling down your face.
  2943.  
  2944. >You’ve been gone for too long. That man had been a thorn in your side back then, and now he’s become a dagger at your ponies’ throats.
  2945. >Several moments pass of you hurling insults at yourself, the faces of the ponies you failed flashing like a kaleidoscope in your mind until Anon’s appears at the forefront. An inappropriate question breaks through the turmoil.
  2946. >What would they all think of you and him?
  2947. >And what does he think of you?
  2948. >Standing up, you wipe away the tears and swallow heavily.
  2949. >There’s no use dwelling on this anymore than you have at the moment.
  2950. >Turning off the T.V. to get away from that disgusting scene, you carefully make your way back down the hall so you can go check on Anon.
  2951. >On the way, you walk past the staircase that leads up to the second floor that lies across from the kitchen.
  2952. >You’d noticed them before, but Anon had never gone up there. He’s never talked about upstairs or even looked in their general direction as far as you could tell.
  2953. >A thin film of dust lies on the handrail. After giving a nervous glance down the hall, making sure Anon is still sleeping, you silently approach and make your way up the stairs.
  2954. >The vertical progress is tough, and several times your legs are so sore that you feel like going back down. But you feel you need to see what’s up here.
  2955. >With one final burst of effort and some flailing wings for an extra boost, you make it to the top of the staircase.
  2956. >There aren’t many rooms up here, and the landing leads off into a small corridor before shortly terminating.
  2957. >Nerves on edge, and ears flicking back and forth so they can catch any sounds, you walk towards the first door and pull the handle down. The door cracks open, and with a push, swings the rest of the way.
  2958.  
  2959. >You let go of the breath you didn’t realize you were holding, as a normal bedroom greets you.
  2960. >The air is a bit musty, and there’s more dust on all the bedside tables and other surfaces in the room.
  2961. >Neatly made and untouched, a large queen sized bed sits in the middle. A large collection of photos sit in frames around the room, adding a warm feeling that breaks up the ghostly atmosphere.
  2962. >In most of them, there is a blonde woman doing something.
  2963. >Sometimes she’s sitting across the table from the camera, smiling and holding back a laugh. Others have her hanging of Anon and holding his hand.
  2964. >Looking at their digits intertwined annoys you. You look at your own wrapped hoofs and huff, your tail flicking in irritation.
  2965. >That feeling goes away when you come across a photo of her and a pony.
  2966. >She’s a young green mare wrapped in bandages. Tears roll down her face and she’s smiling from ear to ear as she hugs the woman with all her might.
  2967. >A warmth blossoms in your chest as you find another.
  2968. >This time a unicorn stallion shakes her hand with a hoof. His horn broken and an entire ear reduced to a stump, but a smile sits wide on his face as he looks at her and she scratches the one that is still there.
  2969. >You feel that you would like her and idly wonder what happened. Though from experience, everything that you’ve seen so far isn’t a good sign.
  2970. >A quick scout of the rest of the room reveals a walk in wardrobe full of a human woman's clothes, and drawers full of undergarments.
  2971. >There’s a bit too much green for your liking, but you can see from the photos that it was definitely her colour.
  2972. >Half of the space for clothes in the room is cleared out, and there's no signs of any men’s clothes. Anon must have moved them downstairs.
  2973.  
  2974. >Guilt slowly creeps at the corners of your mind.
  2975. >What you were doing up here -- while maybe not explicitly wrong -- certainly wasn’t right by Anon.
  2976. >It’s almost like you're disturbing a gravestone.
  2977. >But the curiosity burning within you won’t stop.
  2978. >Its imperative you find out as much about Anon as you can if you’re to trust him any further.
  2979. >Plus, this acts as a nice distraction from the infuriating announcement you just watched.
  2980. >Carefully closing the door behind you, you move onto the next door.
  2981. >Anticipation builds as you slowly open it, before deflating into disappointment as an empty linen cupboard is revealed.
  2982. >There are only three doors left up here. If you’ll find something important here, it’ll be in the next few-
  2983. >*BEEP* *BEEP*, *BEEP* *BEEP.
  2984. >Your hair stands on end and your wings spasm at your sides at the sudden alarm coming from downstairs.
  2985. >*BEEP* BEEP*, *BEEP* BEEP*.
  2986. >It takes you a moment before you realise it must be the oven.
  2987. >Cursing under your breath - you head back downstairs slowly as the machine incessant beeps. The whole time your ears keen for any noise coming from the bedroom.
  2988. >By the time you make it to the oven, the beeping turns itself off. Uttering a few more curses, you open the door and check on the meat.
  2989. >The surface is a dark brown going on black. Perfect.
  2990. >Fanning it slightly with your wings, you dig out a plate and a spatula from the surrounding draws and put the ‘well done’ chicken and cheese schnitzel on the plate.
  2991. >A quick search also finds you a knife and fork, and with a bit of force you cut open the middle by wielding the knife in your mouth so you can check the insides.
  2992.  
  2993. >Slightly pink in the middle and not overly hot. Just like those diplomats described it.
  2994. “Oh you’re too good, Celestia.”
  2995. >Humming in satisfaction; you balance the plate on your back, add another apple for good measure, and carry it down the hall to Anon. The whole way being especially careful not to wobble or fall over.
  2996. >Anon is still fast asleep.
  2997. >You place the food on his bedside table and wipe the new layer of sweat from his forehead with the tip of a wing.
  2998. >His eyes slowly flutter open and he looks over at you.
  2999. >”Heyyy, Cellyyy.” He weakly says before closing his eyes again. “Something wrong?”
  3000. “Good afternoon, Anon. And no, nothing’s wrong-” Beside the hole in the wall and the shattered shelf in the fridge. “-I just made you something to eat and got you some water. They’re both on the bedside table when you're feeling up to it.”
  3001. >He reaches out and scratches behind your ear. The firm pressure creates a pleasant tingling sensation that goes a short way down the back of your neck.”
  3002. >”Thanks, babe.”
  3003. >There it is again. That pet name that humans use for each other.
  3004. >”I didn’t know you could cook steak.” He chuckles to himself while inspecting the blackened food.
  3005. “I’m a mare of many talents, Anon.” You do your best to sound mature and responsible, but you know it’s a hard sell when you’re keeping your eyes closed and leaning into his ministrations.
  3006. >”So I’m learning.” He retracts his hand despite your objections. “I’ll have some soon, not too hungry right now.”
  3007. >He rolls over and buries his head in the pillow.
  3008. “Alright then, Anon. Just, make sure you eat something. And get plenty of rest.”
  3009. >The sick human mumbles something that you can’t quite make out before going silent.
  3010.  
  3011. >Leaving the room and closing the door until the opening is a thin crack, you lick your lips and set your eyes on the stairs once again.
  3012. >Your legs still burn from all the work you’ve done today, but you’re not finished yet.
  3013. >It's time for you to discover what’s in those other rooms.
  3014.  
  3015. Part twelve (12)
  3016.  
  3017. >Just do it, Celestia.
  3018. >It’s easy.
  3019. >Hooves on the handle and push.
  3020. “Hmm.”
  3021. >You’ve been sitting in front of this door for twenty minutes now. Going back and forth in your head. Deciding whether you should take the plunge.
  3022. >It really does feel like you’re crossing a line here. Still - the more you think about it, the more correct this decision seems.
  3023. >You don’t know Anon.
  3024. >He may have saved you from that hell and helped you at your worst.
  3025. >But you noticed the strange way he was acting this morning.
  3026. >The avoidant body language is a sour note. Even after he did ‘that’ with you - a pleasant memory that you may revisit tonight if Anon still isn’t feeling well.
  3027. >He had been acting strange after Emily talked to him about something yesterday. But she didn’t tell you what it was about.
  3028. >Sure it's a big task ahead for the both of you, and you’re certainly scared to Tartarus at the prospect of it. But a millennia of intuition -- built from being around ponies and knowing the secrets they can hold -- tells you that there is something more than mere apprehension here.
  3029. >Why would he put in all this effort and then back out?
  3030. >A question with an answer that may be in one of the rooms up here.
  3031. >Besides, he never explicitly said these places were off limits. And he would never treat you like an actual slave, telling you what you can and can’t do... Right?
  3032. >With a nervous hoof, you pull the handle down and push. Ears keen for any noise coming from downstairs.
  3033. >The door swings open and your breath hitches.