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Broken Anon (By BrokenWriter)

By afterpaste
Created: 11th November 2021 07:43:56 PM
12th November 2021 07:14:22 AM

  1. Ported from pastebin 2017
  2.  
  3. >You get up, woken by the sound of that fucking rooster that never shuts up.
  4. >Ignoring the pile of dishes and trash next to your computer you go to the bathroom to get ready for work.
  5. >Every day it gets a bit harder to not show any anger when your parents call you to ask you to visit them.
  6. >After a traitorous ex and a bunch of backstabbing friends you became a misanthropic hermit.
  7. >You won't even have any pets because you don't want to inflict yourself upon an innocent dog or cat.
  8. >You get dressed and while dreading the work day at the computer repair shop, you exit your house.
  9. >There's something on the porch, however. A large package. "Hassenfeld Co." is written on it.
  10. >God fucking damnit.
  11. >You've only browsed about those ponies on your own laptop out of curiosity. But perhaps your parents were smarter than you. You never suspected that they spied on you when you visited.
  12. >There was a letter glued to the box.
  13. >"Hopefully this will make you feel a bit less lonely. Hope we're not wrong. Love, Mom and Dad."
  14. >You are mad, but you're not an ungrateful fucker. They must have spent half their lifetime savings on this.
  15. >So you decide to let your customers down for today and figure out what the hell to do with this thing.
  16.  
  17. >After making that instructional booklet your bitch, you start setting up everything.
  18. >A bed, a small trough, food, educational recordings...
  19. >You keep thinking why you do this to yourself. But you imagine how happy it'd make Anon Sr. and Mrs. Anonette if they thought you're still being the son they remember. Kind and sociable.
  20. >You calm yourself thinking it's not a real animal, it's just a biologically engineered toy.
  21. >So you tell yourself you'll "boot it up for the first time", and that whatever you do won't matter because it's not an animal.
  22. >You press a button on the incubator, and it opens ominously. Soon, you notice the little quadruped in the middle of the contraption.
  23. >Light olive coat, vivid red mane and tail. Gangly physique, and slightly on the thin side.
  24. >Perhaps a discounted model...?
  25. >You bite your lip, because one does not look a gift horse in the mouth. Or body.
  26. >The little one moves slightly before stretching and yawning, fixing her gaze on you.
  27. >"It's just a device" - you think constantly, as you pat your lap invitingly while sitting on the floor.
  28. >You would talk, but it would be best for the imprinting process to not register your angry voice.
  29. >She weakly gets up, and sneezes in just the cutest way.
  30. >It would warm your heart if you weren't hell-bent on keeping it obsidian-like.
  31. >Shit, you almost forgot: You have to give it a name to avoid developmental issues.
  32. "I uh... Hey, Vanadise --"
  33. >She seems to perk up at your voice. But you bite the inside of your cheek in frustration.
  34. >The first name that came to your mind is the name you were planning to give to your firstborn girl with your ex.
  35. >You swallow some drawn blood as the little pony struggles to get down from the incubator to climb onto your lap.
  36. >You used to be a vet and dog/cat shelter worker before everything went downhill, so you know how to make her comfortable. Maybe.
  37.  
  38. >After a short nap, your pony yawns and looks up again, swishing her tail a bit. Her colorful, large eyes try to pierce into yours as if to start a conversation.
  39. >You think you can relax a bit and that this might not be so bad.
  40. >But then your neighbor, Mrs. Lorelei, walks by.
  41. >She's the obnoxious lady in her twilight years that can't seem to shut up about your lifestyle, about how you need Jesus, how she'll always be glad to cook you a meal to get you away from the pizza and tacos.
  42. >But you know she's the leader of the gossip group of older women that don't seem to have anything else to do that isn't talking crap about the people they don't like.
  43. >"Lovely morning we're having, Anon! Oh, did you finally get a pet? I hear they're all the rage in the rich neighborhoods! Did you get your parents to buy that for you? I'm sure you couldn't pay it on your own with your measly computer repair job, you're too good to all those assholes in the slums of the city, I tell you...
  44. >You put up inhuman effort to swallow all the fury that surges through your veins, as you picture yourself ripping this bigot's entrails through her fucking throat to shut her up once and for all.
  45. >But you always stop yourself knowing that if you lashed back at her, she'd just whine to your parents and make them worry even more about you, and you'd never get them off your back.
  46. >However, a quiet whimper brings you back from your murderous musings.
  47. >You finally notice your grip has painfully tightened around Vanadise's flank.
  48. >Feeling a pang of remorse, you resume petting your pony, softly stroking the side of her muzzle with a thumb.
  49. >Your hand trembles with suppressed rage, but neither Vanadise or the fat bitch seem to notice.
  50. >Excuse me, Mrs. Lorelei, but I really should get this thi-- This tiny one inside, she'll get cold."
  51. >"Ah, don't mind me! I was just leaving, but I tell you, I've got my eye on you, if you need anything just let me know, you hear? 'Cause you know I--"
  52.  
  53. >You get up, Vanadise in your arms, then slam the porch's door closed. Patio's fenced, so you don't worry about anyone stealing the pony's belongings.
  54. >You're quite furious due to possibly having screwed up the bonding procedure thanks to that fucking hag.
  55. >You try to remedy it by keeping the pony in your arms, while filling a pigskin with hot water to heat up a pillow for the tyke to sleep next to. If it helps relax kittens and puppies, should work with bio-robots made to appease weirdos and perverts, right?
  56. >Vanadise limits herself to observing as you walk back and forth through the house, every now and then looking to meet your gaze.
  57. >Every time you feel her doing that, you try to put your best amicable face. You only succeed in convincing your filly that there's something you're hiding.
  58. >You're too absorbed into your act to realize, however.
  59. >When you're finally done preparing a "nest", you put her down and bring in the rest of the package to prepare some "Nutritional paste" for her to grow up faster.
  60. >You really don't want this infant stage to last longer than the bare minimum.
  61. >Bringing back a baby-bottle and a cup full with the stuff, you sit down shaking your head.
  62. >Damn that day you thought you could catch a break at home from playing nice son and distract yourself with what you thought would only be an interesting read.
  63. >You won't make that mistake around your parents again.
  64. >And then, your curiosity gets the best of you.
  65. >As Vanadise is suckling her bottle, you decide to try a bit of the paste. Perhaps it'll give you a boost of energy, improve your somewhat fragile health, or at least taste nice.
  66. >As soon as you put it in your mouth, you retch and puke violently.
  67.  
  68. >Great, now you have to clean the carpet.
  69. >Upon watching you react to the paste, Vanadise has kicked her bottle away, and seems to be mimicking your retching noises.
  70. >Doesn't this just beat all?
  71. "Now, now, Vanadise. You have to eat, or else you'll get sick."
  72. >You try to stay as calm as possible, but she keeps rejecting the food.
  73. >Critical fail. You set the cup you had in your hands aside while sighing out in frustration. You default to your permanently sad expression while thinking about what to do.
  74. >The most logical decision would be to call Hassenfeld Co. and explain the situation. They'll be able to do something about it. Your parents will be sad, but it's not like you haven't disappointed them before. For example, by refusing to call or see the rest of the family.
  75. >And as you mull over it, something unexpected happens.
  76. >Vanadise, looking sad, gently boops your elbow with her nose and resumes eating, from the cup you were holding.
  77. >She's staining the bedsheets. She's barely getting something to her stomach. She might push the cup off your grip.
  78. >But she genuinely is trying to make you feel better.
  79. >Fucking hell. A goddamned TOY showed more sympathy for you, compared to all the "friends" you had that never called you when you stopped fixing their computers for free.
  80. >Sighing, you force yourself to pet Vanadise. She's earned it, and you need to practice some of that positive reinforcement.
  81. "Good girl, Vanadise. Thank you."
  82.  
  83. >It's been 2 weeks since Vanadise -- the pony -- arrived to your house.
  84. >A large hauling truck wakes you up when it makes the whole house vibrate as it drives by.
  85. >Grumbling loudly, you sit up and take a look at the end of the room.
  86. >You chose to lock yourself in all this time and care for the filly just to avoid Mrs. Whorelei's meddlesome antics.
  87. >Away from the real world's pressure, your entire attention was devoted to your ward, and you aced it this time with flying colors: she is now a fully grown pony, well mannered, housebroken and with a rich vocabulary.
  88. >You focused on getting her through the educational material included with the package.
  89. >Rest of the time, you focused on training her, and it gave good results.
  90. >She's not fussy and only seeks you out when you allow it; otherwise she takes cares of her needs.
  91. >She cleans her own litter-box, she activates her kibble feeder, and she even learned on her own how to use a low-height tap to refill her water bowl.
  92. >You'd feel proud if it weren't for the crushing loneliness that always occupies your mind.
  93.  
  94. >Your stomach rumbles. As you search your pantry and fridge fruitlessly for food, you realize it's time you go out to the store.
  95. >The owner was good friends with your great grandmother, who willed you the house you live in. Seeing him greet you with enthusiasm and hearing his myriad questions about your life bother you to no end, but it is the only store in at least 30 miles around.
  96. >Vanadise has been following you this time. She always observes quietly. She's a blank flank, so you don't know her interests other than trying to cuddle you or making the best of whatever time you dedicate to playing with her.
  97. >Just then, your body complains again, loudly, about the lack of food.
  98. >She tilts her head at you for a moment while you hold your midsection.
  99. >"Are you hungry, Master?"
  100. >You chose to have her address you like that to minimize the possibility of seeing her as more than a toy.
  101. "Yes, Vanadise. I need to bathe and go to the store."
  102. >She thinks for a moment, then walks away from the kitchen.
  103. >Good, that's what you taught her to do when you didn't explicitly ask for her presence.
  104. >But then, she comes back with your only clean towel on her back.
  105. >"If you don't want to head out, Master..." She says meekly, as your gaze upon her widens in an unpleasant surprise -- "You can have my food. It's not much, but..."
  106. >Oh no. You thought that reaction was gone from her by now.
  107. >You did your best to not let her be this way.
  108. >You did not want a pet. You did not want a family. You wanted her to just be a novelty toy.
  109. >But here she is, offering you her kibble.
  110.  
  111. >You're upset. Conflicted. On one hand, you're furious that she'd go against her upbringing and do something you do not approve of.
  112. >On the other, you're both proud of her for taking initiative, and thankful almost to tears that she'd try to care for you despite your cold demeanor.
  113. >After what seems like an eternity, her soft voice calls out to you.
  114. >"Master, are you okay? Did I do something untoward?"
  115. "... I'm okay, Vanadise. Thank you, I cannot eat your food. I'm heading to the bathroom. Don't follow me."
  116. >You take your towel from her, and hurry up to the bathroom.
  117. >You spend half of your time in there dwelling on the situation. Maybe a dog would have been bearable. You don't have to mantain conversation with them. But Vanadise is sentient.
  118. >You're racked with guilt over the fact that she may realize she's entirely alone in this pitiful place.
  119. >You resist the urge of driving your straight razor across your neck as you shave, breathing deeply to try and get a grip of yourself.
  120. >When you finally come out, there's a clean set of clothing on the edge of your bed, and your favorite shoes are lined up neatly, the inside already sprinkled with talc.
  121.  
  122. >Vanadise has, indeed, been watching you more than you ever thought, and seemingly learning.
  123. >You look to the clean side of the room, thinking she'd be there waiting for praise. But it isn't the case.
  124. >Closing your room's door, you get dressed in a hurry, not even bothering with your hair.
  125. >As you head downstairs and dart for the main door, you see your pony with a neatly bundled cloth in her mouth. "Mahhteh!" -- she calls to you, pointing her muzzle at you.
  126. >Hesitantly, you take it, and you find your phone, wallet and keys packed in the handkerchief.
  127. >You look down at her with a distraught expression, while she limits to giving you her tiniest smile.
  128. >"Have a safe trip, Master."
  129. >As you walk to the store, you ignore your neighbors' looks towards you. Some mumble some stuff to their companions, others ignore you after a second, and some plant their gaze on you, worried about your 2-week long seclusion.
  130. >A door bell rings as you enter. Luckily for you, there's only a new employee watching the store. "Good afternoon" he says, but you ignore him.
  131. >You grab ramen noodles, canned food and cookies. A large bottle of milk too, and as you head towards the pets section to get a bag of kibble, you see some bundles of lucerne.
  132. >Some people in this suburb keep livestock, so everyday there's fresh alfalfa here for sale.
  133. >Yes, you're considering it. A small treat. You chide yourself for softening up to Vanadise.
  134. > But you still take the smallest bundle you see to take home with you.
  135. >As you walk back, you go the long way around to avoid meeting Mrs. Lorelei, then quietly sneak into your house through the backdoor.
  136. >And then, you see Vanadise pushing around your dusty vacuum cleaner.
  137. >You drop the groceries in shock. You would know no other reaction to this at this point. Maybe if you weren't so jaded.
  138.  
  139. >She is startled by your reaction. She looks at the groceries, then at your face.
  140. >"Master, I - I am so sorry. I didn't realize I was not supposed - Everyone I saw in the flyers -"
  141. >The mare is trembling, visibly panicking, her reaction exacerbated by her thin frame.
  142. >You try to get a hold of yourself and reason this:
  143. >Your pony just tried to vacuum your house.
  144. >Without a word, you go into the living room and see that all the trash has been pushed into piles at every corner, and while still dusty, this is the cleanest that this room has ever been in -years-.
  145. >"I am so sorry, Master! I did not mean to disturb you! I am sorry! I am sorry!"
  146. >She follows you chanting her apologies as you walk to her corner in your room and look under her bed.
  147. >You find out Vanadise has been hoarding marketing leaflets of all kinds that you discard from the mail.
  148. >Especially the ones where ladies are depicted cleaning.
  149. >It downs on you. She's been wearing herself out while you were away, pushing and pulling that vacuum cleaner trying to clean even if it didn't work.
  150. >She doesn't know she has to plug it in.
  151. >Everything because she saw it on some leaflets.
  152. >And STILL, she is smart enough to think that maybe not everyone wants their house clean, and that's why she's apologizing so profusely.
  153. >Even crying.
  154. >It pushes you over the edge. You start breathing rapidly and look the old grandfather clock's mirror.
  155. >How could you do this to this innocent creature? How could you ignore her altogether like this?
  156. >You lose it, and you attack your reflection with your fists for many seconds.
  157. >But you react and look to your little pony.
  158. >You're afraid you scared her away, or even worse.
  159. >But there she is, still chanting her apology a good two meters away from you.
  160.  
  161. >You muster all the energy you can to calm down, kneel in front of her, and pat her head. Your hand is trembling. But you manage to keep a straight face.
  162. >Vanadise calms down, and looks up at you.
  163. "... It's okay. I appreciate the effort. But next time, ask me first. I don't want you hurting yourself."
  164. >She smiles a bit, and buries her face on your lap. You give her another reassuring pat before going back to pick up your spilt purchases.
  165. >She walks behind you, observing you as you try to put everything in its place this time. You're tired, but you'd feel bad if you leave a mess of cans and boxes that she'll try to fix later.
  166. >Then, you see the lucerne.
  167. "... Hey, Vanadise, I brought you something."
  168. >You hope with the remains of your rotten, broken, hardened heart that just like the ponies in the show like flower and hay sandwiches and whatnot, she'll like this.
  169. >She's curious at first, and only takes a small bite. But then, she digs in as if she hadn't eaten all day.
  170. >You sigh in slight relief before walking to the sofa and passing out on it.
  171.  
  172. >You have nightmares. You're drowning in darkness that reeks of betrayal and depression.
  173. >Every ray of light you see slowly extinguishes before you reach it.
  174. >A stone all of a sudden pins you to the ground.
  175. >It is, however, a really bright stone.
  176. >And it's warm, too. And... Furry?
  177. >You wake up suddenly and look at your belly. Guess who decided to sleep on you?
  178. >Sitting up wakes Vanadise, and as she sees you, she yawns.
  179. >"Good morning, Master. Is everything okay? You were tossing and turning until I..."
  180. >You had not spent the night with another body close to you in almost four years. Since the ex.
  181. >You want to be angry, but you refrain from blurting out anything mean.
  182. "Morning, Vanadise. Could you get off of me? ... Please."
  183. >She obliges, carefully jumping down. Almost immediately she brings you a pair of slippers.
  184. >You wonder if this is taking advantage of the little creature.
  185. >Because you decided she's not just a toy anymore. You'll care for her.
  186. >Patting her head, you get up and make a meager serving of breakfast. Vanadise runs to your room to her automatic kibble feeder. There's no trace of the lucerne. Maybe she liked it.
  187. >As you eat some dry cereal with a fruit, you decide you won't let her hurt herself anymore by trying to do your chores.
  188. >So, with a grumble and sigh, you grab some old plastic bags from the pantry, get the broom and dustpan, then start picking up the old trash.
  189. >A few minutes after you start, your pony comes back. She sees you cleaning and her eyes light up.
  190. >Geez, just what has this filly been doing with her free time?
  191. >She tries to help you by picking up parts of the piles she made yesterday to try and put them in a bag.
  192. "No, no no. Vanadise, that's dirty. Don't worry, I'll be done soon enough. Go play, or something."
  193. >"But, Master, we would be done faster if I helped, is not that right?"
  194. >She pops the puppy eyes on you.
  195. >Goddammit Vanadise.
  196.  
  197. >You can't prevent yourself from sighing in slight frustration.
  198. "Guess it can't be helped. I'll sweep the trash into the dustpan, and you can pick it up and empty it in the bag."
  199. >She seems quite pleased with the task you give her, and thus, together, you clean the first floor of the house.
  200. >It's an exhausting task for you, so you slump on a chair in the kitchen after taking out two large bags full of crap.
  201. >Vanadise seems to be really happy trotting around the living room now that everything's clean.
  202. >That's until she notices you, and she frowns a bit.
  203. >"Master, perhaps you should eat something? I can't really cook, but... Maybe some Micro... Wave pizza rolls?"
  204. >Seeing her handle new words that easily is kind of endearing. But you instantly focus back on feeling guilty of making her try to care for you.
  205. >You can't utter your complaint before she's already jumped on the counter and is making a mess of the pizza roll box. She manages to get two of them into the microwave without breaking them apart, and she presses the start button.
  206. "Vanadise, that's dangerous. Get down from there."
  207. >"Okay, Master! Your dinner will be ready in thirty... time!"
  208. >You seem to forgot to have taught her about time, but she shouldn't have much trouble with it.
  209. >Setting an extra minute for the rolls to be fully heated up, you look at the filly.
  210. >She looks so proud of herself and happy.
  211. >Maybe because she was able to help you with dinner.
  212. >Perhaps you should give her some praise.
  213. >Petting her mane, you try to make your voice as soft as possible:
  214. "Thank you, Vanadise. You're a good girl."
  215. >Maybe you'll end up getting vegetarian pizza rolls for her next time.
  216.  
  217. >You're getting used to Vanadise helping you here and there. You even start dedicating more time to her in return.
  218. >You do not mind her presence in your life as much as you used to.
  219. >If mom and dad could see you, they'd swear the little pony has changed you a bit.
  220. >You won't admit it, but you like having someone who likes to watch you play your toxic MOBA games or your dreary long dungeon runs in your favorite MMORPG.
  221. >Even your room's a bit cleaner.
  222. >But then, you hear someone knocking insistently on the door.
  223. >"I will get it, Master!"
  224. >Vanadise runs off to answer the door, since you're in the middle of a world boss raid.
  225. >After many minutes, you decide she's taking too long. You take off your headphones and decide to investigate. Getting close to your stairs, you start hearing Vanadise discussing with none else than Mrs. Lorelei.
  226. >"Madam, please, you cannot enter other people's houses without their explicit permission!"
  227. >"Hush, you friggin' abomination. Now, where's this young man stacked his trash this time..."
  228. >"For the last time!" -- The filly stomps her hoof, clearly trying her best to be stern. -- "Please leave my Master's house or I will call the authorities!"
  229. >"Oh in the name of God, just shut up already!"
  230. >You hear a sickening crack, and a pained yelp from Vanadise.
  231. >You enter the living room in a hurry, prompting the nosy neighbor to notice you.
  232. >Next to her, Vanadise is sobbing quietly: Her left foreleg is visibly broken.
  233. "... The fuck did you do to my pony...?"
  234. >"Well, exCUSE ME! Your toy has been nagging me, while here I am trying to look out for you, I haven't seen you in weeks--"
  235. "She is a person, you pathetic filthy cumguzzler..."
  236. >That's the last thing you remember.
  237.  
  238. >"Master! Please stop, don't hurt him!"
  239. >You realize you're on the ground, handcuffed and held by two police officers while paramedics are picking up Mrs. Whorelei from a small pool of her own blood.
  240. "I can't breathe. I won't struggle anymore... *cough*"
  241. >They stand and help you up to your feet. A third police officer approaches, hanging up her cellphone.
  242. >"Has he calmed down? You can let him go. His doctor says he'll be fine as long as we don't rile him up any further, surveillance video puts him in the clear, and he'll probably want to take care of his pony."
  243. >More than angry, you're confused. Are they really letting you go just like that?
  244. "Officer, what am I missing here?"
  245. >"Your next door neighbor, Mr. Elbert, called us when he heard the ruckus. We found you assaulting Mrs. Lorelei, but then your pony told us that you had cameras and we pulled the memory card from the recorder. The woman entered your house without permission, indeed, and she broke your property... Your pony, aside from having --"
  246. >You grit your teeth, and mumble a bit angrily.
  247. "She's not a toy..."
  248.  
  249. >"I'm sorry. We are well aware of the Hassenfeld pet ponies, and like you, consider them to be at least as human as dolphins, ravens, and dogs. But for legal purposes, she's your property. That will help the case to set a restraining order against Mrs. Whorelei for unlawful trespassing and destruction of..."
  250. >You glare, but the officer looks genuinely concerned.
  251. >"... property. You acted in self defense, and though you overdid it, you would not have assaulted her if she hadn't harmed your pony. And you have medical backgrounds concerning your actions.
  252. >You're quite pissed off, but she has a point. You make a visible effort to calm down.
  253. >You're finally off the cuffs, and you immediately go to Vanadise, who is still on the floor, foreleg broken, trying to not move. She smiles at you as the policewoman addresses you again:
  254. >"You're on the clear, Anon. We'll leave you to check on your friend. We called the closest vet shop and a doctor is on her way. Have a good day."
  255. >The artificial temperance you tried to keep is gone completely.
  256. >You know damn well who that vet doctor is.
  257. >She's your ex.
  258.  
  259. >Normally you'd be fuming. That's the last person you wanted to see at this moment.
  260. >But you've managed to keep your attention on Vanadise.
  261. >She's still a bit teary eyed, but doing her best to enjoy your petting.
  262. >Your normally hostile expression is missing, replaced with a genuine face of concern for the pony.
  263. >"Master... I'm so sorry to get you into this mess. It's my fault."
  264. "No, Vanadise. Do not blame yourself. It's not your fault that some people are meat-sacks with shit for brains."
  265. >"Isn't that a mean thing to say, Master...?"
  266. "That sow deserves it and more. But we're not talking about her anymore."
  267. >You direct your gaze to her broken limb, and bite your lip.
  268. "That must hurt a lot. I wish I could heal you."
  269. >The earth pony looks at you as though you were giving her a kingdom of her own.
  270. >After all, it's the first time you've said something like that to her.
  271. >"I-I'm... I'm flattered, Master... But, isn't a doctor coming already?"
  272. >You sigh, letting your gaze drop to the floor.
  273. "That she is, Vanadise. But she's a person I'm not really fond of."
  274. >"Did she do something to you, Master? What happened?"
  275. >You're really thinking it. You're going to tell your story to a toy.
  276. >No. She's NOT a toy. She is Vanadise.
  277. >You shift yourself to sit more comfortably, facing her.
  278. >Then, you prepare to tell her about the darker side of human relations.
  279.  
  280. > tl;dr You were a naive, kind doormat that everyone took advantage of, you met the girl of your dreams, your "friends" got mad that you stopped helping them as much, told the girl you were cheating on her, she prepared a video as a "surprise" for your birthday where she crushed your spirit, then cheated on you.
  281. >You slow down your explanation when it gets complicated for Vanadise to understand.
  282. "I was so hurt by that, that I gave in to my anger. I hunted down those backstabbing fuckers and put them in the hospital with my fists. One of them felt too guilty and confessed to Paula."
  283. >Vanadise nods, having forgotten about her leg. She looks sad as she takes all of this. It goes against everything she learned on TV about relationships.
  284. "... She tried to explain things. It made me furious, but I punched a window instead of her face. Someone saw and the police was called. I was sent to a psychiatric hospital, to be 'cured'."
  285. >"But... They couldn't cure you... Right, Master...?"
  286. >That's the cold, bitter truth. Since then you've isolated yourself as much as possible.
  287. >But your thoughtful trance was broken by three loud knocks on your door.
  288.  
  289. >Shivers ran down your spine. You knew very well who was knocking.
  290. >Vanadise seemed quite preoccupied. She looked a few times between you and the door.
  291. >"Master, if it hurts you so much... Don't answer the door. I'll be okay, somehow..."
  292. >You ignore her plea, clenching a fist as you make your way to the entrance.
  293. >'Lo and behold, there was Paula in a lab coat, carrying a large case.
  294. >She seems sheepish, and she stutters a bit through her greeting.
  295. >"H-hello, Anon... How... How are y--"
  296. "None of your business. Just do your job. Her leg is broken."
  297. >You point sternly towards Vanadise. The pony seems a bit scared.
  298. >"I-I understand. I'm sorry, I didn't--"
  299. "I SAID IT WAS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!"
  300. >You slam your fist on the wall to drive your point. The skin breaks, and you leave a bloodstain.
  301. >Paula goes ahead and kneels next to Vanadise, unpacking her case.
  302. >She takes a syringe and fills it with something.
  303. >You walk with slow, menacing footsteps to loom close to her, planting your ferocious gaze on her.
  304. >Your little mare trembles, obviously scared.
  305. "Trust her, Vanadise. She will not hurt you, or ELSE."
  306.  
  307.  
  308. >The vet quickly works to anesthetize Vanadise's leg, set the bones, prepare the cast, and dry it.
  309. >"You will have to give her this medicine every 8 hours for the next three days... She should be able to walk with her cast and it will break on its own after a week..."
  310. >You harshly swipe the bottle of pills off her hand, then stand aside.
  311. "Good. Now leave."
  312. >Paula quickly packs her tools. Surprisingly, she does not seem angry by your treatment of her.
  313. >As she exits your house, you slam the door behind her.
  314. >"Master... She looked... Sad..."
  315. "I don't care."
  316. >You lean against the wall and look up at the roof, trying to calm down.
  317. >Vanadise struggles a bit and walks over to you, rubbing your shin with her mane.
  318. >"Aren't you sad too, Master...?"
  319. >You look down. She's comforting you again. Are all ponies like this?
  320. >Of course. That's what the show is about, right? Who knows, you never saw it.
  321. >"Don't worry, Master. I'm your friend, I'll always be. You are not alone anymore."
  322. >You slump down, laying on the floor. Placing a hand on the mare's head, you sigh.
  323. >Fucking hell...
  324.  
  325. >The next morning, you're completely sore from sleeping on the living room floor.
  326. >Someone, however, made herself comfortable on your lap.
  327. "Morning, Vanadise..."
  328. >She opens her eyes to meet your gaze. She seems content, as if her leg hadn't been broken the day before.
  329. >"Good morning, Master. Should I fetch your slippers?"
  330. >She's still eager to help you. How can she remain this subservient after what happened?
  331. "Vanadise, aren't you scared of me?"
  332. >The question seems to vex her. She tilts her head as if not understanding why'd you ask such a thing.
  333. >"Of course not. We are friends, aren't we?"
  334. >Friends... How long had it been since that word ringed true?
  335. >You sit up and carefully embrace the pony. Carrying her to your room, you set her by her kibble feeder, activating it for her and placing her medicine on top.
  336. "Don't forget to eat your pills, Vanadise."
  337. >She nods and eats while you fill her water bowl.
  338. >It feels strange, given how until yesterday she'd take care of that herself.
  339. >After setting it by the feeder, you figure you should eat something, too.
  340. >In the kitchen, you grab a bowl of your own, fill it with cereal and milk then shove a spoon into it before putting everything back in place.
  341. >You take a spoonful of cereal, but immediately notice Vanadise isn't there.
  342. >Of course, you're not gonna have her limp all the way down from your room upstairs.
  343. >You take your plate and head back up, then sit next to Vanadise.
  344. >She's barely eaten anything besides the pills, but upon seeing you, her mood improves and she digs in happily.
  345. >'This is weird' you think to yourself. A man and his pony.
  346. >But, how long had it been since you felt even slightly content, like this?
  347.  
  348. >Logic kicks in all of a sudden, though, and reminds you of your responsibilities.
  349. >You haven't opened your repair shop in almost three weeks.
  350. >Cursing, you mow down the rest of your measly breakfast and rush to the bathroom.
  351. >After a quick shower and dressing up, you grab your things and run out the room.
  352. >"Have a good trip, Master!"
  353. >You almost miss the last step and barely hold on to the stairs' railing.
  354. >With her leg broken, what is Vanadise going to do all day?
  355. >But you get an idea. An idea you'd have called stupid, before.
  356. >You go back upstairs to your closet, and pull out a very old laptop and an Atari-style joystick with a single button.
  357. >Many years ago, you worked on a controller and rudimentary computer games for ponies.
  358. >Part of your forgotten dreams, but, you figure out it'll help.
  359. >Vanadise likes TV, so perhaps she'll like video games.
  360. >She watches with curiosity as you set the system next to her.
  361. "I need to work, Vanadise. You can't move around much, so I'm leaving this for you."
  362. >After the OS is done booting, you open "Farm Simulator for Ponies", then run out as fast as you can.
  363. >You never got to test it a lot, but what the hell. Controls were simple, sounds were plentiful, colors were brilliant.
  364. >And with that, you have a little peace of mind, knowing that at least she'll fall asleep with the demo mode.
  365.  
  366. >Whenever you're not dealing with a customer, your thoughts drift to Vanadise.
  367. >It's a mix of emotions. Sure, she's another responsibility on your stressful life. Of course, you didn't ask for her to be sent to you.
  368. >But you can't prevent your mind from drifting to those moments your pony did something that melted your cold expression.
  369. >Were you turning into some sort of weird shut-in that loves ponies?
  370. >Of course not. But in some moments, you were quite worried about what the mare meant to you.
  371. >Time flies when you're lost in the battle between your hateful personality and the fragile, comforting thoughts of Vanadise.
  372. >You close the shop at 5 PM to make sure you're home in time for Vanadise's next dose of medicine.
  373.  
  374. >Upon getting home, you call out her name. But you're greeted with silence.
  375. >Oh no. Your instincts instantly tell you the worst.
  376. >You drop your toolbox and run up the stairs to your room.
  377. "VANADISE! ARE YOU -- Are you... Are you still playing that game?"
  378. >The joystick was thoroughly chewed. Sound wasn't running, but she was in the middle of harvesting her springtime crops when she looked up at you.
  379. >"Welcome home, Master! I'm sorry, this is just so fun, it almost feels like I'm a real Earth pony! I feel bad about breaking it, there is no sound since a couple hours ago and..."
  380. >Well, who would have guessed? You've got a gamer pony.
  381. "Have you even paused to go to the bathroom at all...?"
  382.  
  383. >It's been a month since the Lorelei incident.
  384. >Life has been looking less dark with Vanadise in your life.
  385. >You even started taking her to the local park, to play with other ponies.
  386. >You tend to direct your attention to a tablet computer at those times so people won't talk to you.
  387. >Sometimes, she'll come to work with you.
  388. >You've been dwelling on the fact that your parents are visiting today, but other than that, you've been somewhat okay.
  389. >Back home, you're cooking lunch. Kale and broccoli for chicken salad.
  390. >Vanadise is on the living room, drawing. She's had some ideas for a game called "Stargazer Pony".
  391. >There's a knock on your door. It's Mr. Elbert.
  392. >"Sorry to bother, Anon, but I needed to ask you: Do you smell gas, or is it just me?"
  393. >Weird. That rotten smell is indeed in the air. But, outside...?
  394. >A grim realization dawns on you as you run towards your little pony.
  395. "Vanadise!"
  396.  
  397. >You leap towards her, but it's too late.
  398. >The gasoduct running beneath your street explodes, taking your neighborhood down.
  399. >Your house, as many others, collapses, showering you with hazardous debris, pining you to the floor.
  400. >Screams are heard outside, along with the roaring fire fueled by the gas.
  401. >As the dust settles down, your gaze finds a shivering, but unharmed pony.
  402. "Vanadise. Are you okay?"
  403. >"Master, what is going on?"
  404. "I'll tell you later, but first, we must..."
  405. >You try to stand up, but the weight over the beams crushing you is too much.
  406. >At that moment, your parents arrive. They start screaming your name.
  407. >"Help! Master's parents! Help us, he is trapped!"
  408. >Soon, paramedics arrive. But you can barely hear them by now.
  409. >You look at Vanadise, cradled by your mother in her arms, who is visibly panicking.
  410. >Your father comforts his wife while looking at you with tears in his eyes.
  411. >Paramedics shake their heads upon noticing that one of your legs was almost completely severed, the other's femoral artery is gushing blood out as well.
  412. >You are done for. In a couple of minutes you'll cease to exist.
  413. >They're doing what they can, but one of them is giving the bad news.
  414. >As your vision fades, your thoughts focus on Vanadise.
  415. >She was so nice to you.
  416. >Could you have been a better friend to her...?
  417. >You were a husk of a person, but she became the light of your life.
  418. >Why did it have to end this way?
  419. >At least she's safe.
  420. >She's crying.
  421. >'Don't cry for me, Vanadise...'
  422. >'If only I had more time...'
  423.  
  424. ...
  425.  
  426. "VANADISE!!!"
  427. >You wake up screaming, bathed in your cold sweat.
  428. >Panicking, you look around and take in your surroundings.
  429. >Didn't your house collapse?
  430. >Your parents... The explosion...
  431. >You breathe heavily, trying to regain your composure. You certainly felt like you were dying.
  432. >Tiny thumps along your floor, however, make you direct your gaze to the entrance.
  433. >"Master, what is wrong? Were your dreams bad, too...?"
  434. >Seems it was just Vanadise. Limping her way to your bed, knocking on the floor with her cast.
  435. >Her cast... So, was it a dream?
  436. >Wait, did she say, "bad dream, too"?
  437. >This is a bit too much to take in at once. But for now, you choose to pet the little pony.
  438. >Not without some hesitation. Despite it being real life, you'd swear you are hallucinating.
  439. >Maybe you are. You suddenly remember you haven't taken your meds for the better part of a month.
  440. >Since the filly arrived, they've been the last thing in your mind.
  441. "... Did you have a bad dream, Vanadise?"
  442. >"Yes... I saw the mean old lady coming at me, saying I was a bad toy."
  443. >You close your free hand into a fist.
  444. >"As she was about to kick me, however, you called my name, and I woke up."
  445. >Your scream. Yep, you're gonna feel guilty for that.
  446. >"So, I guess in a way... You did save me, Master."
  447. >Huh. She's not mad, at least. Endearing, but, you're not really feeling it.
  448. >You're more concerned with brushing your teeth and getting something into your stomach.
  449. >It's gonna be a weird day.
  450.  
  451. >Just yesterday, you had just gone back to work.
  452. >There's a lot of customers waiting for you to finish work on their devices.
  453. >But after the night you had, as you chew on a pop-tart, you are having second thoughts about going to work.
  454. >Yes, yesterday Vanadise kept herself busy with the laptop and that game.
  455. >But still, the gut-wrenching feeling you get when thinking about going alone won't fade.
  456. >So, seeing how your instinct is adamant that you have to keep the pony with you, you grab a bottle of water from the fridge, return to your room, pack some kibble into a ziplock bag, grab Vanadise's bowl and also you get a bag of building blocks that came in the box she arrived in.
  457. >She observes you intently, tilting her head as you walk all over.
  458. >"Master, what are you going to do?"
  459. "I can't leave you here alone, Vanadise."
  460. >"But yesterday you went to work and I was fine. That game was fun!"
  461. "I know. It's just that... I won't leave you here today. You're coming with me."
  462. >Her eyes go wide with excitement. It'll be her first time going outside.
  463. >But hadn't you taken her to the park -- No, wait, that was the beginning of your nightmare last night.
  464. >You fill a large backpack with all the things you've gathered, haul it up, then prepare to hoist Vanadise on your arms.
  465. "Come on, Vanadise. I'll carry you."
  466. >"Master, don't forget my medicine!" -- she says, while playfully hopping in place on her three good legs.
  467. >Such a dependable pony.
  468.  
  469. >On your way to the repair shop, you can't help but notice how warm and furry Vanadise is.
  470. >She's not heavy at all, either. Would that be cause for worry?
  471. >She's been kinda thin since the beginning, so, whatever.
  472. >While you're lost in thought, the filly can't keep her mouth closed as she looks around.
  473. >The gardens, the stores, the park, the cars passing by...
  474. >She had never imagined seeing these things outside of the TV.
  475. >A few people wave at you, and Vanadise waves back to them with her good foreleg.
  476. >You just nod, and notice how happy she seems.
  477. >Odd, isn't this how you wanted to be carrying... a daughter?
  478. >The sudden thought hits you like a bullet right to your chest. You were planning on being a father at age 24. You're 27, brokenhearted and mostly alone.
  479. >Well, until Vanadise appeared in your life.
  480. >For her sake, you shake off your grim remembrances and focus.
  481.  
  482. >After a while, you've left the calm, green suburbs full of life.
  483. >This part of the municipality, the one some people would call "slums", is filled with cheap houses in a semi-deserted valley.
  484. >A place for those that earn minimum wage, but still try to make a living, with their families.
  485. >Rent is ridiculously low, but living conditions aren't perfect.
  486. >Yet, there is no widespread crime. Those living here do their best to help each other.
  487. >But a Hassenfeld pony, expensive as they are, would catch a ton of looks.
  488. >Especially from the children.
  489. >And just as you arrive to your shop, there's already a bunch of kids gazing in awe at Vanadise.
  490. >This is really uncomfortable.
  491. >You look at her while you fiddle with the padlocks.
  492. >She seems a bit nervous. The children are talking about her a lot, commenting on how pretty her mane is, sometimes wondering if she's sick.
  493. >But the talk that gets on your nerves is that of the older brats that whisper about you possibly using her for abuse.
  494.  
  495. >Normally, they're always thankful for your work, which is cheap but impeccable. And sometimes you'll fix something for free if you're in the mood.
  496. >That's why their negative chatter is so infuriating.
  497. >You push up the iron curtain, then pick the filly up and bring her inside.
  498. "Alright, kids, enough. Yes, I've got a pony. No, I didn't steal her, and no, I don't abuse her. Move along."
  499. >You go behind your glass counter and set Vanadise down on the floor. You drop the backpack and turn around. Two boys, aged around 10, are still there.
  500. >"Hey, mister. Why's the pony's leg broken? Did she misbehave? She looks real cheap. Maybe that's why she broke."
  501. >"Or maybe you gave her the beating they deserve. Momma says God does not approve of those abominations. That's what we're told at church."
  502. >"Nah, they're just toys, see? That's what they were made for. They have to do whatever you want."
  503. >You've had enough. Vanadise is aghast, shocked at their words.
  504. "I said move along. Did you not hear me?"
  505. >"But we're customers. We have the right to be here."
  506. >"Yeah, besides, why are you getting so worked up over a toy?"
  507. "GO AWAY!!!"
  508. >You slam your fist on the counter, breaking the glass. Your ferocious grimace finally does the trick and scares the children away.
  509. >You curse out loudly. Your hand is bleeding. Figures that today you had to deal with the local Westboro Baptists' bastard kid and his friend.
  510. >"Master... You hurt yourself..."
  511. >Hearing her soft voice makes you wince in emotional pain. She had to see you throw a tantrum again.
  512. >Breathing deeply, you take some disinfectant, gauze and a bandage from your first aid kit to treat your cut.
  513. >This is going to be a long day.
  514.  
  515. >Vanadise keeps her gaze on you as you bandage your hand.
  516. >You look at her. She certainly seems worried. You have no idea what would be appropriate to say.
  517. "I'm okay, Vanadise. I'll unpack your blocks so you can play with them while I work."
  518. >She winces a bit. So, wrong answer, probably.
  519. >Still, you do as you told her. You walk over and empty your backpack, setting the blocks next to her.
  520. >After that you go to your work desk and take a look at a busted laptop.
  521. >It's one of those that is a pain to disassemble. Better get started on it.
  522. >As you take care of the screws, you hear quiet dragging noises behind you.
  523. >A look over your shoulder reveals your filly is playing with her blocks.
  524. >Nothing unusual. Back to work. It's so bothersome when the keyboards are integrated with the laptop's case.
  525. -scraaaape-
  526. >Okay. You'll have to play dumb for a bit. Gotta wait for the moment, as you reach for your pocket-sized mirror.
  527. -draaaaaag-
  528. >You use the mirror to look behind you discreetly under your armpit.
  529. >Vanadise is pulling her bag of blocks towards you, looking every now and then to make sure you aren't looking.
  530. >Well, doesn't this just beat all.
  531. "Vanadise, what are you doing?"
  532. >"Eep! M-Master! I just, I thought, I mean, that is, you see --"
  533. "You want to know what is it that I'm doing? You're curious?"
  534. >"Err, yes... I'm sorry, I really shouldn't..."
  535. >Without another word, you turn around on your stool and pick her up, setting her down on the desk. There's enough space for her.
  536. "Should be easier this way, right?"
  537. >"But, I don't want to bother you..."
  538. "It's okay. Easier for me to keep an eye on you this way."
  539. >And that's how you have a pony studying how you're fiddling with a laptop.
  540. >Eh. You figure that if she really wants to work on one of these one day, you can get her an Orbitouch keyboard.
  541. >Wait, why are you even considering that?
  542.  
  543. >Some time passes. You're done taking the laptop apart and taking a look at it. Nothing seems fried, so it's probably just that the Radeon chip on it heated up too much and this is one of those laptop with a crappy BGA soldering job.
  544. >Crud. You don't have a re balling machine and the process is a bit too expensive for your usual customer.
  545. >You'll have to try with the heat gun. Not the best method to fix this, but you're decently good at it.
  546. >And as you stand up to grab the necessary tools, someone enters the shop.
  547. "Good morning, and welcome --"
  548. >"WHY DID YOU SCREAM AT MY CHILD!?"
  549. >Oh for the love of... It's Mama Baptiste.
  550. >Better play this one by ear. Step by step.
  551. "Please do not scream, ma'am. Your --"
  552. >"YOU SCREAMED AT MY CHILD, SO YOU THINK YELLING AT KIDS IS OKAY!?"
  553. >... She's part of the stupid ones, it'd seem. But you can't spare any patience for this.
  554. "Only if they're as wild and rude as your brat. Now leave my store before I call the authorities."
  555. >Vanadise watches from the desk, but is flinching visibly.
  556. >"Go ahead, do that! I'll tell them how you not only abused my child, but also that hideous thing of yours sitting there!"
  557. >She did NOT go there.
  558. >But just as you decide to give her the boot, a couple hands grab her by the shoulders.
  559. >"Sheila, stop this. You're being rude to the young man."
  560. >"But he yelled at my son, Gerald!"
  561. >"I'm sure he had his reasons. Just how long has he been in the neighborhood?"
  562. >"I don't see how this --"
  563. >"How long, Sheila?" -- he says, in a calm voice.
  564. >"... More than four years..."
  565. >"And when has anyone complained about him, or his services?"
  566. >"... Never..."
  567. >"Now you understand? Now please, go home."
  568. >Well, at least you don't feel like a magnet for imbeciles only anymore.
  569.  
  570. >At last, they're finally gone.
  571. >You can turn back your attention to your workdesk...
  572. >... Where Vanadise is visibly trembling.
  573. >Crap, what's the protocol on this situations?
  574. "Vanadise, are you going to be okay?"
  575. >"Y-yes, Master... I guess... Are all older ladies like that?"
  576. "Only those who can't get a good shag if you ask me -- Wait, ignore that."
  577. >"What's a good shag, Master?"
  578. >Dear lord, what have you done. At least she's stopped her cowering.
  579.  
  580. >It's lunchtime.
  581. >Going home and back would be a pain, what with having to carry Vanadise and dealing with the curious.
  582. >Continuing your trend of eating crappy food, you decide to order something from a famous sandwich shop.
  583. >You did pack some kibble for your filly, but hey, seeing how the vegan pony lovers cracked down on the restaurant chain made them guarantee healthy food for ponies, you order a veggie salad for her.
  584. >You hang up and go back to the desk. The little pony has drawn some crude diagrams that look more like puzzle pieces.
  585. >You may have to get her better building block sets.
  586. >She glares at, pokes, smells and touches the broken motherboard you gave her to "play" with, and seems to be taking mental notes.
  587. "... Say, Vanadise. What do you think about computers?"
  588. >"I think they're amazing, Master! How can something so small use the power of lightning to draw images so fast?"
  589. "That would be a lengthy lesson for you. I don't even know if your educational records covered that."
  590. >"They didn't, but even if they did, it's so much better when you teach me!"
  591. >Right to your petrified hard, and bounces out to your spleen.
  592. >It hurts whenever she seems so excited to just spend time with you.
  593. >You are glad, but, why didn't any of your "friends" do that for you?
  594. >Even your... Yeah, don't go there.
  595. >"Uhm, Master? Is... Is it a bad thing if I ask you to teach me?"
  596. "No. No, Vanadise, I was just thinking how we could get started. Maybe after your leg has healed."
  597.  
  598.  
  599. >You have a pleasant lunch with Vanadise. She seemed to like the salad well enough.
  600. >You're worried she will reject the kibble entirely if you keep spoiling her, but, whatever.
  601. >After finishing the meal, cleaning up and helping her take her medicine and drink from the water bottle, you resume working.
  602. >You admit to yourself that having a little admirer is a pleasant stimulus.
  603. >It's even made you more productive. You finished the laptop from the morning, a desktop motherboard that needed a capacitor replacement, an AiO that needed to have the hard disk replaced and even replaced the screen on a tablet.
  604. >All while she's quietly observing you, sometimes doodling in pieces of paper.
  605. >But at some point, you had to break the silence.
  606. "Vanadise, aren't you bored from just watching? I won't get mad if you say yes."
  607. >"Well, no, Master... I know I can't really do much since I'm so small and don't have hands, so, I'm happy just watching."
  608. >Then she gives you a sweet smile.
  609. >It's as if she wasn't dealing with a broken limb. Sure, it'll heal the day after tomorrow, but...
  610. >Hrm. Now that you think of it, it's not too late to try and say something positive to her.
  611. "I uh... I am glad you are. And I like your company."
  612. >She blushes as if the best stallion from Canterlot in the show had complimented her.
  613. >You smile awkwardly, and go back to work.
  614. >Then you feel pathetic for feeling awkward towards a pony.
  615. >If social etiquette were a muscle it'd be rather shriveled and useless in you, by now.
  616. >You always find reasons to beat yourself up mentally.
  617.  
  618. >It's closing time. Everything has gone smoothly up until now.
  619. >You pack Vanadise's belongings, bring her outside, close the shop, and carry her all the way home.
  620. >She is marveled by the lights in the city, at night. And on the emptier road to the suburb, the starry sky draws most of her attention.
  621. >As you get close to your door, you take a quick glance at Ms. Lorelei's house.
  622. >No lights. She must still be at the hospital.
  623. >You'd feel remorse if she hadn't broken Vanadise's leg. You grit your teeth and try to forget about that.
  624. >"Master, thank you for such an amazing day. I'm sorry you had to yell at people, though..."
  625. "Nevermind that. I thought you had forgotten about it by the look on your face when the lights weren't obscuring the stars."
  626. >"It was beautiful, but, the mean lady, and --"
  627. "Ssh. I won't let any old hag harm you again, no matter what it takes."
  628. >She blushes a bit once more. "Aside from that, I think it was the best day ever."
  629. "If I bring you to work again tomorrow, are you gonna say that again?"
  630. >"Uhm, I-I may... It was just so great to see you fix those computers... Will I ever get to do that?"
  631. >You don't want to be discouraging, so you take a moment to decide on an answer.
  632. "I know you'll try your best, and that will always take you farther than you have ever been."
  633. >"... Yeah! And will you always help me whenever I don't understand something?"
  634. >You answer without hesitation.
  635. "Of course."
  636. >"I love you, Master!"
  637. >... That hurt. Deeply.
  638. >When was the last time someone other than your parents said that to you?
  639. >Were you really deserving of her love?
  640. >You initially tried to raise her to behave like some sort of unfeeling toy.
  641. >You feel guiltier than ever as you walk up the stairs to your room, silent as a desert.
  642. >You were thinking about letting her sleep on your bed, but now you feel so bad as a person, you instead get her comfy on her tiny bed.
  643. >"Good night, Master!"
  644. >You do not answer, and go to sleep.
  645.  
  646. >You've tossed and turned all night in your sleep.
  647. >Your own subconscious torments you with grim imagery of you joining the ranks of the people that wronged you, as if you do the same to Vanadise.
  648. >You try to deny it to yourself. You do your best to remain strong. But then an accusatory bottle of pills is released to crush you like the worm you are so determined to be.
  649. >Medicine... Her medicine!
  650. >Your body jerks suddenly as you come back to reality.
  651. >The sun hasn't come up yet, weak light coloring the sky purple to the east.
  652. >You turn around to see the filly still sound asleep on her bed.
  653. >Her pills are spilled near her kibble feeder. Oh dear.
  654. >Two... Three... Four. Seems she managed to pry the bottle open and eat her pill last night.
  655. >That's a relief. You'll have to praise her for being responsible.
  656. >Perhaps you should be a bit more like her?
  657. >You stand up and go to your medicine cabinet. You grab the meds you've neglected to take for almost a month, now.
  658. >They used to muffle the pain. You could go day after day without feeling tortured. You could focus on your job.
  659. >Thinking back on these weeks, it's clear that while the pain has returned, you've had some positive feelings, all related to Vanadise.
  660. >Maybe it's time you do something for her.
  661. >You serve a dose on your hand, and before you can have second thoughts, ingest the tablets.
  662.  
  663.  
  664. > +++++++++++++++ <
  665. >Something smells good. Tomato sauce and cheese.
  666. >Vanadise opens her eyes and stretches. The sun is up and some swallows are chirping.
  667. "Master...?" -- she calls out, sitting up to peek at the bed. It's empty.
  668. >So that smell is likely caused by Anon heating some hot pockets.
  669. >She tries to stand on all fours. She seems to be comfortable putting weight on her recovering limb.
  670. >Slowly but surely, she walks over to the stairs. She calls out for Anon again.
  671. >There is no response. So she starts going down the stairs, step by step.
  672. >Once she's climbed down, she heads to the kitchen.
  673. "Master, good morning! I'm sorry for missing you early."
  674. >"That's okay."
  675. "Should I get ready for work?"
  676. >"Oh, yeah, maybe."
  677. "Okay! I won't take long!"
  678. >The pony struggles to go back upstairs, but manages to do it. She takes a good look at herself on the mirror.
  679. >Anon hasn't really ever considered brushing her or giving her a bath, and her mane and tail are starting to tangle up.
  680. >Vanadise thinks to herself: 'That's okay. Maybe I should ask Master later?'
  681. >She goes back and decides what she's gonna take with her today. 'I could use a saddlebag... But that's okay! Master and I are going to work together!"
  682. >Picking up her water bowl in her mouth, she heads back down and finds Anon, smiling proudly.
  683. >Without a word, he picks her up in his arms and leaves the house.
  684. >... This is starting to feel odd. The filly shrugs it off, however, and prepares to take another tour through the town.
  685. >As they walk next to the park, she sees an obstacle course for ponies. It's new to her.
  686. "Master, look! What's that?"
  687. >She points excitedly, but Anon remains silent.
  688. >... Maybe she didn't call loudly enough. After all, it's noisy outside.
  689. >They pass the cake shop. She's overjoyed to see a pony-themed birthday cake.
  690. "Look! Look, Master! That cake is so pretty!"
  691. >"... Yeah. We'll be at work soon."
  692. >Her smile fades. Anon is different today, and that's worrying her.
  693.  
  694. >It's been an hour since Anon opened his shop.
  695. >Vanadise has tried to not be a bother, but she's too worried about her owner.
  696. >She sighs. Maybe he's still dealing with the events of yesterday.
  697. >Maybe she'll sleep for a bit. Giving him some time has worked in the past.
  698. >She curls up against a corner and tries her best to fall asleep.
  699. >Customers come and go, sometimes interrupting her nap.
  700. >Anon keeps to himself as much as possible, working without a break.
  701. >After three more hours, this has become too much to bear.
  702. >The filly stands up and walks over to Anon.
  703. "Uhm, Master... Can... Can I watch you work...?"
  704. >"Sure."
  705. >Her expression lights up a bit, but he doesn't pick her up.
  706. "M-Master... Would you... please, help... help me up...?"
  707. >He bluntly picks her up and sets her on the desk.
  708. >She watches him for a moment, but then focuses on his face.
  709. >Anon works without any expression, unlike yesterday.
  710. >He looked calm, before. Maybe slightly sad. But she can't read his expression devoid of emotions.
  711. "Is something bothering you, Master...?"
  712. >"No. And don't call me Master. Call me Anon. That'll be better for you."
  713. >She lowers her head. Did she do something wrong? He feels so distant. She stifles a single sob before hiding her face with her good foreleg to try to fall asleep again.
  714.  
  715. >"Wake up. We're going home."
  716. >It's starting to get dark. The filly slept the whole afternoon.
  717. >She nods weakly and allows herself to be picked up.
  718. >As they walk home, Anon finally seems to notice Vanadise. She is not reacting to the walk like yesterday.
  719. >"I thought you liked the trip."
  720. "I'm... Tired, M-- Anon..." -- she utters, stifling another whimper.
  721. >Upon getting home, he sets the filly on her tiny bed, and sits on the edge of the larger one.
  722. >He seems pensive, looking at his hands. The expressionless facade he's kept starts to break ever so slightly.
  723. >The pony, on the other hand, cannot contain herself any longer.
  724. "I'M SO SORRY! PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME! I'LL NEVER ASK FOR ANYTHING AGAIN!"
  725. >She starts to cry uncontrollably.
  726. >Anon slowly looks towards her crying form, as she pleads with him.
  727.  
  728. >**********<
  729. >Wake up.
  730. >Wake up and look at what you've done.
  731. >What made you think this would be better?
  732. >Everything was blurry. There was nothing.
  733. >Yes, you didn't suffer. You didn't lash out in front of her.
  734. >But at what cost?
  735. >... Where are you going?
  736. >... Good. Do not let this lesson go to waste.
  737.  
  738. >---------<
  739. >You start to tremble visibly.
  740. >Poor Vanadise is weeping like never before.
  741. >You stand up and go to your medicine cabinet.
  742. >She follows you, still begging.
  743. >You take your bottle of tablets.
  744. >You thought they always helped you remove the pain. Instead, they removed everything.
  745. >Even Vanadise's smile.
  746. >The medicine's grasp is lost on you by now. You fiercely throw it at the wall.
  747. >You turn around and look at her shocked expression. She's still sobbing quietly.
  748. >You fall to your knees in front of her. There's so much pain.
  749. >But you're done fighting it. Your eyes well up, and you reach out to Vanadise, hugging her while wailing in tears.
  750. >After a moment, she holds your back with her good leg.
  751. >"... M-Master..."
  752. >... You haven't cried in years, before this...
  753.  
  754. >You spend a good half hour bawling your eyes on Vanadise's mane.
  755. >She hasn't let you go of her embrace, her eyes closed.
  756. >After all, it's the first proper hug you've given her.
  757. >When you finally regain composure, you sit up and look into her eyes.
  758. >"Can... Can I keep calling you 'Master'...?"
  759. >There's a disagreeable feeling to how that sounds to you now.
  760. >But trying to think back on the day, you reason that she probably imprinted on that as much as she'd have imprinted on 'Dad', or 'Brother'.
  761. "My real name is Anon, but, you can call me however you like the most."
  762. >The pony nods, wiping some tears with her good forelimb.
  763. >"Master... Could you... hug me some more...?"
  764. >You oblige, petting her, noticing the tangled mess you've caused.
  765. >She needs to be cleaned, but you think she needs the physical contact.
  766. >Suddenly, you remember the japanese term, 'skin ship'.
  767. >Giving her a bath may still provide her both intimacy and hygiene.
  768. >You feel slightly nervous on how to approach this subject. She's vulnerable, you don't want to make her think she's going to be used as a sex object.
  769. >You have no idea if it's user conditioning or it comes in the educational records used with infant stage growth acceleration, but it's creepy to know how many ponies would embrace that idea.
  770. >Clearing your throat, you gather your guts and decide to ask away:
  771. "Vanadise, Do you want a warm bath?"
  772. >She gasps in surprise, but doesn't pull away. You wait for her answer, slightly afraid of a possible bad outcome.
  773. >"That would be... I would be so thankful, Master."
  774. >You tighten your hug for a second before leaning back. You finally wipe your face off a bit with your hand to look less pitiful.
  775. "Very well. Give me a few minutes to prepare everything."
  776.  
  777. >You go to your closet room and search for the box Vanadise and her stuff came in, you could swear it had shampoo for ponies.
  778. >Yep, shampoo for her mane and tail, soap for her body fur.
  779. >You also grab old swim trunks, 'cause why the heck not, you could use a bath as well.
  780. >Two large towels for Vanadise, and a blow-dryer.
  781. >You don't want to risk her getting sick from going to sleep wet.
  782. >Hrm. You should pick a bag to protect her cast, too. You don't want it to fall off sooner than it should.
  783. >You bring all the items to the bathroom and set the shower temperature, then change into your trunks.
  784. >Taking a deep breath, you decide it's time to get this show going.
  785. >You go to your room, and Vanadise smiles at you.
  786. >"Is it time?"
  787. "Yeah. Let me carry you."
  788. >You haul her up and head back; she looks eager.
  789. >After setting her down on the tub, you grab the plastic bag and use it to cover her recovering leg.
  790. >"Master? Does this mean we're not soaking in the tub yet?
  791. "Right. I guess it's more of a shower, then. But as soon as you've healed up, you'll have a bath."
  792. >"Okay!". She smiles brightly at you.
  793. >You put a small stool for you to sit on, grab the shower-head, then turn it on, directing the first splash of cold water away from her.
  794. >She looks content as you start soaking her hair and fur, giving her a light rub to wet her fur faster.
  795. >You work some shampoo into her mane and tail, being careful to not pull on them. That should sit for a few minutes there.
  796. >A vigorous massage on the rest of her body with the soap and your hands should get rid of all the dirt.
  797. >You take a quick turn with the water, and then use all-purpose gel to clean yourself quickly.
  798. >You rinse both of you, then carefully step out of the tub. Using a towel, you pick the filly and take her out, trying to dry her.
  799. >"Hahahahah, nooo! That tickles! Stooop!"
  800. >You smile a bit, ignoring her requests. You hang the wet towel, prop yours on your hair, then grab the second large towel.
  801.  
  802. >"Master, please, no more, hahahah! It's too much!"
  803. >She tries to run away, but you won't let her. When you're done with that towel, she looks great.
  804. >You carefully brush her a little bit to remove remaining tangles, then plug the blow dryer and blast her with hot air.
  805. >In the meantime, you wonder if ponies in the show bathed. They probably did, but they were able to magically grip stuff with their hooves.
  806. >Well, you wouldn't mind doing this for Vanadise. It's not too much of a bother.
  807. >It's a bit like... Bathing a kid.
  808. >Ah, it was to be expected. At some point you'd remember something painful again.
  809. >But you hold it back, and instead try to focus on how happy the filly looks right now.
  810. >As soon as she's dry, you grab a few drops of brilliantine, spread in on your hands, and apply it to her mane to prevent frizzing.
  811. >Then, you start brushing her more thoroughly and carefully this time.
  812. >She leans against you, looking relaxed and content.
  813. >After a few minutes of this treatment, you carry her to your bed. She seems to have gotten a bit sleepy.
  814. >You go back to the bathroom, pout everything back in place, dry yourself properly, hang the towels, put on underwear and pajama pants, then head back.
  815. >"Thank you so much for the bath, Master. I feel really good, and clean, and I smell so nice!"
  816. "You never had a bad smell to begin with."
  817. >"But I smell like cherries now! ... I want cherries!"
  818. "I'll buy some cherries for you tomorrow."
  819. >You sit down on the bed and go under the covers. Vanadise crawls over to you.
  820. >"Master, would it be bad if I... Asked what happened to you...?"
  821. "... I ate something that wasn't good for me."
  822. >"Was that the medicine you threw...?"
  823. "Yeah... I thought it was helping me, but... I was wrong. Don't worry, I won't take it again."
  824. >"Are you going to be okay?"
  825. >Well, are you...? Being with her does bring painful feelings and memories...
  826. >But you're also, for the first time in a long time, happy. Even if it's just a little, but it's happiness.
  827.  
  828. >You like taking care of her, and watching her cute antics. You like getting to know her and discovering her talents.
  829. >It's very endearing, and god help you, she's encroaching herself in what remains of your heart.
  830. >It won't be an easy path. You'll be afraid sometimes. You'll lose control sometimes. You don't know what the future holds.
  831. >But you know what...?
  832. "... Yeah. I will be okay. Let's go to sleep."
  833. >You put an arm behind her, and she cuddles against it.
  834. >"Goodnight, Master. I love you!"
  835. >You exhale a contented sigh, then push her slightly against you in a display of affection.
  836. >You do not answer, but you gently pet her back until you both fall asleep.
  837. ---- END OF CHAPTER ONE. ----
  838.  
  839.  
  840. >The sun has risen again. The noisy nocturnal rooster passes out, giving way to early chirping of pas-serine birds.
  841. >But, you slept peacefully last night.
  842. >Still your internal clock does not betray you, and you soon enter consciousness.
  843. >Your left side is really warm. And you're holding something furry.
  844. >You look and shuffle a bit. There's Vanadise, her back turned to your torso as she's snuggling your arm.
  845. >Cute, but you'd like to get up and empty your bladder, so you try to remove your arm.
  846. >She holds it as best as she can and groans lightly.
  847. >Doesn't this just beat all?
  848. "I know you're awake, Vanadise. And I'm awake, too."
  849. >She shrinks a bit and lets go, but you don't pull back just yet, now.
  850. >"Ah! A-are you, now...? I just--"
  851. >You cut her apology short but yanking your arm away and ruffling her mane a bit, ending the gesture with a pat.
  852. "That's okay. I'll be right back."
  853. >Going through your morning ritual, you start thinking a bit.
  854. >What do you think of all this?
  855. >How will this affect Vanadise?
  856. >Will you be able to handle it if she falls in love with you?
  857. >Nah. There's no way that's gonna happen. It better NOT happen.
  858. >You'd probably freak out. You don't wanna break her innocent, tiny heart,
  859. >It's too soon to think about how it's going to go.
  860. >You force yourself to stop thinking about it, trying to focus on today's chores and agenda.
  861. >Coming out of the bathroom, you notice your filly has made herself comfortable on the part of the bed you slept on.
  862. "I thought you'd follow me to the bathroom."
  863. >"But Master, you left the bed so warm and it's so good to sleep on it! I don't wanna get up today..."
  864. >She playfully covers her eyes with her good foreleg.
  865. "Tough luck. It's breakfast time, and also, time for your medicine. It's the last pill."
  866. >"Okay!" -- she says, hopping up and approaching you at the end of the bed.
  867.  
  868. >You pick her up carefully and set her on the floor. She heads over to her feeder, where you put her pill on top of the kibble.
  869. >"Thank you! I'm digging in~"
  870. >You run your hand along her mane before you head downstairs to grab the last packet of cookies and some milk.
  871. >Instead of eating at the kitchen, you bring your measly breakfast with you to your room and sit on your bed to eat.
  872. >After the meal, you grab your clothing for today. You're going with a white dress shirt and jeans today.
  873. >It's been a while since you used this shirt. When you unfold it, a red ribbon hairpin falls.
  874. >... Guess you didn't get rid of all your gifts for your ex.
  875. >But as usual for you, something had to ruin your mood.
  876. >Vanadise noticed the item, though. She walks over, curious, and examines the ribbon.
  877. >"How pretty! Is it for me, Master?"
  878. >Huh. You've never gifted her any accessories for her to dress up.
  879. >It's not like you don't want to, but before, you never saw the need to.
  880. >When you wanted her to be a... Right. You mentally slap yourself, then shake your head a bit.
  881. "Do you like it?"
  882. >"Yeah!"
  883. "Then you can use it. Let me put it on you."
  884. >She looks up, smiling. You pin it above her right temple, then point her to the bathroom's full-body mirror.
  885. >"It's great! I like it a lot! Thank you, Master!"
  886. >Maybe you should make some space and get her a small wardrobe.
  887.  
  888. >It's time to go work. Vanadise follows you, and you stay close to her to make sure she doesn't slip or fall as you two go down the stairs, then out of the house.
  889. >Just outside, a police car is parked, and there's a lady cop leaning against it.
  890. >You stop for a moment, but she's already noticed you.
  891. >You recognize her, though. It's the policewoman who helped you with the incident three days ago.
  892. >"Good morning, Mr. Anon, and to you as well, little one. I'm sorry I didn't catch your name."
  893. >That's a surprise. You could swear she wasn't this friendly to the filly before.
  894. >"Hello! My name is Vanadise! Nice to meet you, officer, and good morning to you too!"
  895. >"She's adorable, and so polite. How are you doing today?"
  896. "We're fine. Sorry for my bluntness, officer, but is there anything I can do for you?"
  897. >"Ah, yes, sort of. You see, since you're on bail on account of your medical background, we will be visiting you every few days so you don't have to report to the station in the city."
  898. >Well, that's helpful. You never considered how much would that escalate.
  899. "I see. Would that take long? We were headed to work just now."
  900. >"Not at all. It's good that you have a job, reporting this will be of help for your attorney."
  901. "Attorney... Does that mean Mrs. Lorelei is pressing charges against me?"
  902. >"She is suing, but we don't think she stands a chance. Still, better safe than sorry. Just sign this, and you'll be free to go."
  903. >You oblige after sighing. This is very stressful.
  904. >"Thank you, Mr. Anon. Have a good day, we'll come back in three days. And you, Vanadise, take care of him, okay?"
  905. >The lady cop extends a hand to shake with the filly, who is blushing visibly, and then promptly leaves.
  906. "So, who's taking care of who?"
  907. >The pony giggles nervously, stopping when you pet her a bit.
  908. >And so, you make your way to your shop, followed by your faithful ward.
  909. >It's a slow walk, as Vanadise struggles a bit with her cast. Still, it's good that she's moving on her own.
  910.  
  911. >As you pass the local park, you start noticing that a bunch of people seem to be waving at you.
  912. >You don't want to embarrass yourself, so you make sure Vanadise isn't waving at them first.
  913. >She's too busy looking at a passing ice cream truck.
  914. >You look back up again and awkwardly wave back. The people smile at you.
  915. >You have no idea who they are, probably acquaintances of your family.
  916. >You most likely always ignored them, dulled by your meds.
  917. >You have no idea if you should try to talk to them, so, you don't.
  918. >The rest of the way to the shop is fairly uneventful.
  919. >You open the shop and head to your work desk. Your filly follows you, and you hoist her up to set her on the desk.
  920. >A couple hours pass by, until a customer calls. It's probably one of the more impatient clients.
  921. "Sedna computer repair, good morning."
  922. >"Good morning, is this Mr. Anon?"
  923. "It is, how may I help you?"
  924. >"Your services have been recommended to me by some of the neighbors living by your store. I was wondering if you do house calls?"
  925. >That's kinda difficult since no one other than you works at your shop. Besides, you've got an enthusiastic pony to watch over.
  926. "Er, well, normally I would, but my hands are tied at the moment. Perhaps in a few days. I apologize."
  927. >"Isn't there anything I can do to change your mind? I'll extra for your visit."
  928. >The money would be nice, but you can't bring yourself to leave Vanadise alone.
  929. "Thanks, but I really can't. I'm taking care of a pony, and I'd rather not leave her alone."
  930. >"Is it a Hassenfeld Co. pony? I own one, too. You could bring yours and they can have a play date."
  931. >The offer is tempting. Not only would the extra income cover the costs of getting some clothes and accessories for Vanadise, but also it may do her good to interact with another pony.
  932. >You cover the microphone with your hand, then look at the filly.
  933. "Vanadise, would you like to meet another pony?"
  934.  
  935. >Her eyes widen, then she nods enthusiastically.
  936. "Alright, I accept your offer. May I have your name, address and a phone number?"
  937. >"Carl Stone, 855 East Lacuna Rd., 555-647232."
  938. "We'll be there in thirty minutes."
  939. >You hang up and sigh. It'll certainly be a stressful experience.
  940. >Vanadise however seems to be looking forward to it, barely containing her excitement.
  941. >You bring her down from the desk as you start packing a toolbox.
  942. >When done, you go ahead and close shop. It's half past noon, so you probably won't be coming back for today.
  943. >As you head towards the closest bus stop, Vanadise pelts you with questions:
  944. >"Master, what do you think that other pony is like?"
  945. "I'm not sure, the customer didn't say."
  946. >"Do you think I'll be able to play without hurting my leg?"
  947. "Yeah, just don't be too rough."
  948. >"Should we bring a present?"
  949. "I'm not too sure. I don't meet a lot of new people, myself."
  950. >She seems to worry for a moment about you.
  951. >"Maybe we should learn together!"
  952. >Maybe. But that does give you an idea.
  953. >A small box of specialty pony treats. At least it'll be a little detail for Vanadise.
  954. >Luckily, almost all stores carry them, and since Mr. Stone lives in the city, it shouldn't be too hard to find.
  955. >The bus arrives quickly, and you board it.
  956. >So nice of the public transportation department to fit all their vehicles with some space for ponies and owners.
  957.  
  958. >There's another person with their own Hassenfeld pony on the bus.
  959. >She looks between 20 to 25 years old, and her companion looks like a male Earth pony, average build, sky blue body with blue green mane and (cropped) tail, with what looks like a broom cutie mark.
  960. >You take a seat and keep an eye on Vanadise.
  961. >She waves frantically, smiling at the colt.
  962. >"Good afternoon! I'm Vanadise, what's your name?"
  963. >He raises an eyebrow with a smile and bows lightly.
  964. >"I'm Clean Sweep, nice to meet you, beautiful."
  965. >Vanadise chuckles, and approaches him to shake hooves.
  966. >"What an adorable imitation of Tree Hugger! Her body type is not right, you didn't do her dreadlocks and she lacks a cutie mark, but she's still so pretty!"
  967. >You are greatly irked by the lady's commentary. She must be a die-hard fangirl of the show, it seems.
  968. "... Thanks, but she's not an imitation of anything, or anyone."
  969. >"Oh, so she's a custom order? That'd explain it. Look, it'd seem Clean Sweep really likes her!"
  970. >You gaze down, expecting the worst.
  971.  
  972. >"You and I, Vanadise. Think of the adventures we'll have together. With me coming for dinner after work, you already expecting me, then we watch TV together until, you know..."
  973. >"No, I d-don't know, and... You're making me uncomfortable..."
  974. >The colt seems to be trying to nuzzle Vanadise, who is scooching backwards.
  975. >"I love when a filly plays hard to get. Isn't it more beautiful, this way?"
  976. >"No, p-please leave me alone!"
  977.  
  978. >Your right eye twitches, and you look up at the lady.
  979. "Okay, that's enough. Call him and have him stay away from my pony."
  980. >"But why? They make such a cute couple --"
  981. "He'll make a couple with my fist to his face if you don't hold him back, NOW."
  982. >"Geez, so rude. I get down at the next stop, anyway! Hmph!"
  983. >She finally coaxes Clean Sweep next to her, while Vanadise is trying to hide behind your legs.
  984. >You try to reassure her with a gentle pat on her head.
  985. >Honestly. Some people and their lack of manners.
  986.  
  987. >You are having second thoughts about this house call, now.
  988. >You could call your customer to let him know you've changed your mind, but that would be a negative mark on your flawless record.
  989. >Could always keep Vanadise by your side, though.
  990. "Vanadise, are you okay?"
  991. >She perks up at your voice, as if you were some sort of celestial guardian.
  992. >"Yes, Master. I'm just a bit disappointed at my first meeting with another pony."
  993. "That's understandable. Do not worry about this visit, though. If you feel insecure, just stay by my side."
  994. >She nods and smiles at you.
  995. >She's been doing the latter to you a lot, lately. Probably due to how much more attention you give her.
  996. >And here you are. East Lacuna Rd.
  997. >This is not a house.
  998. >This is some company's building.
  999. >'Kandor Research.'
  1000. >A privately owned company that specializes in telescopes, wireless communication, space tourism and extraterrestrial souvenirs.
  1001. >At the fence, you use the video intercom.
  1002. >"Kandor research, good afternoon. How may I help you?"
  1003. "Afternoon, my name is Anonymous. I'm here to see... Mr. Carl Stone?"
  1004. >"Ah, we were expecting you. Please, come in!"
  1005. >The gate opens, and you step inside. One-way glass doors ahead of you conceal the interior of the building.
  1006. >Along the way, you take notice of the large gardens that almost feel like forests, full of trees and bushes.
  1007. >Stepping inside, you approach the reception desk.
  1008. >"Welcome, Mr. Anon. Please fill out the visitor for and take a badge. Mr. Stone is waiting for you on the fifth floor."
  1009. >Fifth... You could swear the building was twenty stories tall. Maybe he's not that important in the company.
  1010. >After finishing the paperwork, you head over to the lift.
  1011. >Vanadise is following closely, but still taking in the new surroundings.
  1012. "The elevator might feel funny. Just warning you."
  1013. >She nods, the doors open and both of you step inside.
  1014. >You take a deep breath. There's no way to know what is waiting for you.
  1015.  
  1016.  
  1017. >The elevator stops at the fifth floor, and the doors open.
  1018. >You were expecting a hallway with doors leading to offices and cubicles. You were wrong.
  1019. >Seems the whole floor is a large patio of sorts. The glass windows make it look like the whole place was outside.
  1020. >There's a bunch of chairs and beach recliners, along with a bar, a fenced pool, and a really shallow smaller pool.
  1021. >This is not creepy at all. Nope. You're nope-ing out of here.
  1022. >Just when you turn around, you hear a voice call out to you.
  1023. >"Is that you, Mr. Anonymous?"
  1024. >You glance to your right, to an area you hadn't looked at.
  1025. >There seems to be a playground of sorts, and in there, a man and a pony.
  1026. >That's a fully grown pony, it'd seem. She's tall, thin, white coat, light magenta mane with white streaks, violet eyes, a horn and wings.
  1027. "Uh, it is me. Good afternoon. Forgive me, I was not expecting..."
  1028. >"This, a resting area? I try to look out for my employees. There aren't any of them here at the moment, though."
  1029. >Bad sign. He's approaching to shake your hand. Vanadise hides behind you. You'll have to play along, for now.
  1030. >"You must be nervous. Why would I call a consultant when I must have a perfectly good IT department?"
  1031. >He read you. No point in cooperating anymore.
  1032. "You have to admit it IS pretty suspicious. Now if you'll excuse me --"
  1033. >"Please, I apologize. I do happen to have a lot of trouble with my network."
  1034. "Why is your IT department not working on it?"
  1035. >"They supposedly are. But it always takes them so long, and despite the rumors, I can't never catch them slacking off on the surveillance system."
  1036. "Makes sense. Well, I'll stay. But my filly will stay with me. Is that okay?"
  1037. >"Why not have her stay here with my friend? Her name is Fleur De Lis."
  1038. >The alicorn bows to you, and speaks in a delicate, calm voice. You can see her cutie mark now. Three stylized lilies.
  1039. >"Good afternoon. 'Fleur' alone will do."
  1040.  
  1041. "Look, sir, no offense, but we just had a bad encounter with another pony and his owner on the bus."
  1042. >"'His'...? Was that a stallion, trying to get amorous with your friend?"
  1043. >Vanadise shrinks a bit, while Fleur shakes her her and looks at the filly with concern.
  1044. >You bite the inside of your cheek, trying to remain civil.
  1045. >"I'm terribly sorry, it must have been a bad experience for you both. Fleur and I have had to deal with the same sort of 'problems', in the past."
  1046. >He sighs, then places a hand on his mare's shoulder.
  1047. >"Fleur and I have been together for many years, now. As pet and owner if I must clarify. I give you my word she will not act out of line. If any, she would only act motherly towards your companion."
  1048. >You look down at Vanadise. Things considered, it's two females, in a sort of garden...
  1049. "Can you get some supervision for them?"
  1050. >Mr. Stone nods, then he calls someone.
  1051. >"Miss Nguyen, your presence is required on the recreation floor."
  1052. >He hangs up, and then turns to face you.
  1053. >"Leila Nguyen is one of the best veterinarians I know, who obtained a degree in analysis, diagnostic and repair of ponies at Hassenfeld Bros. Technical Division."
  1054. >You cringe slightly at how those studies make ponies sound like machines, but to be honest, they ARE biomachines.
  1055. >The elevator doors open. A lady comes into the room, about 5' tall, fair skin, dark hair down to her shoulders.
  1056. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised a powerful man like you can hire your personal veterinarian, Mr. Stone. No offense."
  1057. >He and the lady chuckle.
  1058. >"None taken. Miss Nguyen, this is Mr. Anonymous."
  1059. >"Pleased to make your acquaintance. Leila Nguyen."
  1060. >All things considered, your demands have been met. All that remains is for the filly's approval.
  1061. "Vanadise, I need to help Mr. Stone for a while. Are you okay with staying with Miss Nguyen and Fleur?"
  1062. >Both Fleur and Leila smile warmly to Vanadise.
  1063. >"Uhm, okay, Master. I'll be good!"
  1064. >Satisfied, you kneel to give her a hug before leaving.

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