"Everyone ready?" Twilight grinned at the group before her.
"One question... Why am I here again?" Medic looked at the wires that were taped to him. A helmet covered in similar wires rested on his head. Next to him, Pyro, Heavy, and Soldier were in similar setups, although Soldier was tied in his chair after he headbutted Spike trying to escape. The wires led to the complex machinery in the center of Twilight's basement.
"Ever since Pyro showed me that she could do magic, I've been trying to find similar occurrences. I couldn't find any research into non-unicorns performing magic. I wasn't sure how she could possibly do it, until Soldier was reported to jump 25 feet-"
"27 feet, thank you."
"Anyway, after that I asked Pyro if there were any other occurrences in your world that were magic-like. She mentioned Heavy could do some kind of 'finger-gun', and Scout could jump in mid-air. Although Scout's ability is kinda redundant now, it's worth noting. I think the non-unicorn magic might be because you aren't from this world. I need to do some tests. First, their magic versus a regular unicorn from our world, and second their magic versus a unicorn from their own world."
"So you're going to test using yourself?"
"Oh my, no. I don't want to skew the results with expectations. Rarity is supposed to be here soo-" A knock on the door interrupted her. "That must be her. Spike!" She called up the stairs. "Could you get the door?"
A few seconds later, Spike opened the door, ice pack firmly planted on his head. A sea green pony walked down the stairs. "Hey Twilight." She said.
"Oh, hi Lyra. What are you doing here?"
"I went over to Carousel Boutique to pick up a dress, and Rarity said that she was super busy. She sent me over to tell you she can't make it."
"Shoot. I need her as a constant... Say, you wouldn't mind helping me out, would you Lyra?"
"Uh, sure I guess. With what?"
"I need a baseline to test magic against. Once I hook you up, I'd need you to perform some basic magic so that I can record it. Whole thing would take ten, twenty minutes at most."
"Uh... alright." There was a little bit of apprehension in her voice after seeing Soldier essentially bolted to his chair. "This won't hurt or anything, right?"
"No, no... well, it shouldn't." Lyra looked concerned, but set her bag down. Twilight's horn glowed, and wires began circling Lyra. A helmet plopped onto her head. "Now, could you please do a bit of magic?"
"Sure." Lyra's magic surrounded her bag, opening it and pulling out her lyre. She played a simple melody on it. "That enough?"
Twilight looked at the readout the machine produced. "I think so. This looks like a good set. Thank you." Twilight pulled the wires off and set them aside. "Tell Bon Bon I said hi."
"Will do. See ya, Twilight." She put her bag back on and trotted up the stairs and out of the room. Twilight turned back. "And now for your tests... Where'd Soldier go?" They all turned to see the restraints empty and a hole dug in the floor, leading outside.
Medic sighed, slumping onto the bench and hanging his head behind it. After an exhausting chase to rewrangle Soldier that had ended in nothing but failure, Twilight decided to try again the next day.
"Mein Gott... Why couldn't he run zat fast when we were trying to capture ze intelligence?" He sighed. He lifted his head to see the pony from earlier standing a few feet away, staring at him with her head cocked. 'Lyra, zat was what Twilight called her, right?' He wondered.
Suddenly her eye lit up, and she rushed over to him, smiling wide. She stopped before him. "So, is there a reason you're sitting like that?" She asked with a knowing grin. He looked at his position again. 'Nothing unusual, I think.' His legs hung from the front, and he sat upright.
"It's how I normally sit?" He was starting to become apprehensive toward the sea-green pony in front of him. 'What does she want?' he wondered as he shuffled uncomfortably.
She grinned wide. "You're a human, aren't you?"
Every muscle in his body tensed. 'H...h-how does she know?' His mind raced. His eyes darted back and forth, hoping nothing was in earshot to hear the accusation. "Y-you must be mistaken," he said through a suddenly dry mouth. "I-I do not know what you are talking about."
"I think I know a human sitting position when I see one."
"I-I'm sorry, you must be mistaking me for someone else."
Lyra looked down at the ground. "Oh." An air of disappointment resonated in her voice. "Sorry to waste your time then. I didn't mean to insult you. Forgiveness high-five?" She held her hoof up.
'Oh zank god,' he thought. He reached his own hoof out, lightly slapping her hoof.
"AHA! I KNEW IT!" She shouted. Medic recoiled. "A high five is something only a human would know. Plus using someone instead of somepony, and your sitting position? You're a human, and there's no use denying it!"
Medic futilely attempted to shush her. "Fine, I'll admit it, but please stop shouting!"
Lyra blushed slightly. "Oops. Sorry. I get a little excitable sometimes. Especially meeting other humans."
'Other?' the word stuck out in his mind. 'Has she met the others?'
"Here, a group of friends of mine meet every week in Bon Bon's shop. They're humans too, so it should be fun. Our meeting was last night, so how about next Wednesday you come over at 8-ish?"
He was taken aback. 'Other humans... what is going on here?' "I will think about it and get back to you." He wasn't quite sure what to make of the situation, and his brain was essentially running on autopilot.
"Great, let me know ASAP, I want to make sure we have enough food. See ya!" She started trotting away, leaving the dumbfounded doctor. "Oh!" She turned around again. "I didn't catch your name!"
"Look, calm down, man," Scout followed the pacing stallion with his eyes. In the back room the two stallions had invaded Ms. Pauling's paperwork. While she sat quietly writing, Medic had sought advice from the team. Unfortunately Scout and Ms. Pauling were the only two he could find in his panic. "This isn't that big of a deal."
"Of course it's big deal! Don't you know what always happens when some anomaly is found in ze world?"
"Dey charge ya 20 bucks to see it in the sideshow?"
"No, you oaf! Experiments! I vill not be somezing to be poked and prodded on a lab table!"
Ms. Pauling looked up from her paperwork. "Look, calm down, Medic. While I agree this is a serious matter, panicking won't help."
"If you're so worried about going, why don't you just not go?" Scout asked
"Because what if she calls someone if I don't show?"
"Man, you are panickin'. That doesn't make sense, Medic. Why wouldn't she call someone now if she was going to?"
"Medic, I don't think we can really help you. You're going to have to decide on your own whether it's worth it or not."
Medic sighed. "I don't know if I can. I'm not exactly good at figuring out what to do on my own."
"If it's any consolation, I think you should do it." Scout said.
"I hope you can find what you're looking for, Medic. Now can you both leave? I need to do my paperwork."
"Aw, but we were just gettin to know each other." Scout raised an eyebrow at the mare suggestively. Ms. Pauling's face flushed.
She got up, pushing the two out. "Leave. Now." She slammed the door behind them.
"Heh. She digs me." Scout nodded at the doctor. Medic groaned, then left, searching for someone who could give him more concrete advice.
"Okay! Let's try this again!" Twilight was fuming, and a thick purple aura pinned Soldier to his chair, wires and belts coating most of his body so he couldn't escape again. Pyro, Medic, and Heavy waited for Twilight to finish tying Soldier in, shuffling uncomfortably. The aura disappeared.
"Let's get this over with." Twilight flipped the switch on the machine, and it whirred to life. A continuous sheet of paper started filing out, showing four line graphs. "Ok, Medic, lift this cup." She held up a mug. Medic concentrated, and a white aura surrounded the ceramic mug lifted into the air. One line on the graph showed a slight spike. He set the mug down. "Great. Now, Heavy, you do the same."
A powder-blue aura surrounded the mug. It rose up, then was set down again. A line jumped on the graph, though the spike was noticeably higher this time. "Good. Now, I want you to try that 'finger gun'" She raised an apple, placing it on a small table.
"But... I do not have fingers." He looked at his hooves, confused.
"I know, but maybe you can do it anyway. Just do whatever you did when you still had fingers and maybe it will work."
Heavy stood on his hind legs. His arms moved to his sides, miming a gun on both hips. he drew his hoof forward, pointing at the apple. "Pow!" The apple exploded with force, as did part of the table, and a small part of the wall behind them. Twilight and the group gaped in shock, and even Heavy looked a bit confused. "That hasn't happened before"
Twilight looked at the paper. A massive jump was recorded on it, a spike so large that part of it wasn't even on the paper. "I-I've never seen such a surge of energy. This is like raw magic! Unicorns aren't supposed to be able to tap into that latent energy! Ok, Pyro, your turn. I need you to do that fireball."
"Can do." Pyro stood next, put her hooves together and brought both to one hip. She thrust forward, and a tuft of flame came out. "That good?"
Twilight looked at the sheet. "Yes. Now, I need that larger scale one you mentioned. What did you call it?"
"Armageddon? I don't know, Twilight, it's got a bit of an area to it."
"Nonsense, It'll be fine!" Twilight's eyes were scanning the page, not even noticing the apprehension in Pyro's voice
"If you say so." Pyro said skeptically. She raised a hoof, wreathed in fire, above her head. She breathed deeply, then stomped, at the same time thrusting her fire-clad hoof toward the ground. a ring erupted from below her, briefly illuminating the room in a flash of hellfire. The blaze dissipated as quickly as it appeared, leaving no trace.
"Perfect. And now for you." She turned to the helmet clad stallion strapped to the chair. "It's time for your test."
"That's what you think!" Soldier ripped the bonds holding his arms off, then quickly shed the rest of the ties. "Our little Pyro's ring of fire loosened them! Sayonara, suckers!" He reared up and slammed the ground, flying up and through the floor. The wire that were still attached stretched taut and the fell off of him as he ascended.
"Wait, what are you doing up here?" "Outta my way, Dragon!" A heavy clang, followed by a light thud came from the hole. A door slammed.
"Well, on the bright side, I got the data." She looked at the paper, where everyone's magic was recorded. "I'll have to study this. But right now, I think I need to go wake up Spike." She trotted up the stairs, leaving the three teammates downstairs.
"Well that was... interesting." Pyro leaned back. "So how've you guys been?"
"Heavy's shop is doing well. Health inspector came by.Good review, except part where Demo nearly set him on fire. Not allowed to have high-proof whiskey for sale anymore."
"Damn, I liked that whiskey." She turned to the white unicorn on her other side. "What about you, Medic?"
"Actually, I have been having a bit of an issue." He told them about Lyra and her invitation.
"So what's the issue?" Pyro answered finally.
"Was Pyro not listening?" Heavy looked at the pegasus.
"No, I was listening. But I don't see why you're having issues with it. Seems pretty obvious to me you should go for it."
"Is tiny Pyro joking? It seems dangerous."
"A threat? It's a friendly invitation, Heavy."
"But why would she do this for no reason? She finds out Medic is human and suddenly wants to be friend? Seems like the fish to me."
"You mean fishy, Heavy, and maybe she just wants to be friends. Being paranoid isn't going to get anyone anywhere!"
The two began bickering incessantly, and Medic left, defeated, still confused, and no better for the experience.
The bench was cold, and all around him was a thick silence. The snow fell quietly, and Medic would call it a beautiful sight if he weren't deep in thought.
'No one has helped so far.' He replayed his chats one more time. 'Pyro and Scout are for it, Heavy is against it, and Ms. Pauling... I don't understand. This shouldn't be this difficult of a decision... I'm starting to be sick of being paranoid about this.' He sighed, then lowered his head.
After a few seconds, he heard a soft chittering sound. He looked up, and a raccoon was staring at him. He stared back. "I guess you do not have useful advice either, huh?" The raccoon disappeared down a hole, then popped back up immediately. It rose up, perched upon Soldier's helmet as the stallion came out of the ground, buried up to his shoulders.
Soldier looked at the raccoon on his head. "Damn it, Nibbles! You gave away our position! Lieutenant Bites would be ashamed!" He turned to Medic. "Pauling said you were out around this area. I was trying to find you and plant a tracking chip."
"Since you were part of that group that's trying to find me, I 'borrowed' one of Engi's inventions: a tracking device. Unfortunately Sergeant Nibbles is nowhere near as competent at recon as he is at eating garbage." The raccoon crossed its arms. "I was hoping if I could keep track of you I could keep track of the others. Nibbles was supposed to let me know where you were so I could sneak up and implant you with it. Didn't expect him to tell me to come up right in front of your face."
"Soldier, Ms. Twilight is no longer looking for you. She said you were too destructive. Plus she got ze data she needed." He answered. There was an awkward silence between the two.
"So I headbutted that dragon for nothing?" Soldier finally said, obviously not happy with the wasted effort. Medic nodded. "Dammit. So why are you sitting on a bench in the middle of the night? If you're trying to hide from someone, you probably shouldn't be so easy to spot. Try a knothole in a tree, they're pretty secure. Might have to kick a few squirrels out, but after that you're golden."
"I'm not trying to hide from anyone, Soldier. I do not suppose Ms. Pauling told you about ze trouble I've been having?
"Oh yeah, the whole somepony's-figured-out-I'm-human thing."
"You vouldn't happen to have any advice, would you?" It felt strange asking someone so out-of-touch with reality for advice, but if Soldier was willing to give it Medic was willing to listen.
"Saurkraut, you have to go there. When she tries to capture you and turn you in to the freak show, you snap her neck!" He mimed the action, and his raccoon mimed falling over dead.
"Soldier, she is not trying to turn me in. Zis is some 'human group'. Maybe she can help me get used to zis place."
"Or maybe she's a spy and is going to lock you in a cage and throw peanuts at you! Do you want that? 'Cause I wouldn't! Except maybe the peanuts. That I wouldn't mind. That actually sounds pretty good, doesn't it, Nibbles?" The raccoon nodded. The two dug back into their hole, traveling off toward some unknown destination. Medic sighed. The quick conversation was about as useful as he expected.
He rolled the ideas around in his head. It all came down to that feeling. That feeling of not belonging. The rest of the team had adapted quickly, but they had made friends, had gotten jobs. But all he could think of was how out of place he felt. From the depths of his mind, an answer came to him.
'Being paranoid isn't going to get anyone anywhere!' Pyro's voice echoed in his mind.
A steely resolve began to form within him. 'I will be paranoid no longer.' He stood up. A quick glance at the clock tower showed him the time: 7:40. 'If I hurry, I should be able to make it on time.' He started trotting towards the confectionery, hoping he made the right choice.
He knocked on the door of the building marked with a large sign proclaiming "Bon Bon's Bonbons". A cream colored mare opened the door. "Sorry, but we're closed."
"Oh, I'm sorry, is zis not where Lyra is?"
"Oh, you're here for Lyra! Come on in." The door swung wide, and Medic trotted in. The smell of sweets was almost overpowering, although his mouth admittedly watered from the varieties of chocolate and other candies on display. "I'll lead you down in a minute, she's still setting up. You must be new, I haven't seen you around before. Plus Lyra's usual group knows she's not ready until about 8:30. " She chuckled, and Medic politely laughed.
"Yes, she talked to me about a week ago. Are you part of zis... group?" His nerves started to relax, as that tiny tinge of fear in the pit of his stomach that was convinced he would be stuffed in a bag on arrival slowly silenced itself.
"No, I'm afraid not. I support Lyra, though, so her friends are always welcome in my kitchen. I thought the whole 'identifying with humans' thing was a little strange at first, but it's harmless, so I don't really have an issue. It's just one of her little eccentricities, y'know?"
A cog in Medic's mind finally slipped into place. 'Identify with humans... so she... she didn't actually mean Human-human!' He grinned in spite of himself, as his paranoia dispersed. 'It's still a secret!' After a few seconds he noted the awkward silence. Clearing his throat, he spoke up. "So what are you to her? Friend, sister?"
"For now, her friend and roommate." The sound of hooves came from a nearby door, and it swung open to reveal the unicorn in question. She grinned when she caught sight of Medic.
"Oh hey! You made it! A bit early, though, don't you think?"
"So I've been told."
"Well come on, come on down!" She led the way down the stairs, showing a warm colored basement. A coffee table was covered in all types of snacks, and a stack of movies.
"The guys should be here right about..." A knock on the door interrupted her. "Now! I'LL GET IT!" She shouted, running up the stairs. She came back down a few seconds later with a group following her. "Medic, these are the guys. This is Walter" She pointed to a burly stallion with a flat-top haircut and a pair of orange sunglasses. "Jesús" She pointed to a brown coated stallion, much leaner than Walter but about as tall. "Donny" This time it was directed toward the light brown stallion behind Jesús. "And finally, The Dude" She pointed toward the blonde stallion with a beard and mustache who was bringing up the rear. "We all met in the bowling alley, and we've been having movie night ever since."
"Speaking of which, it's my turn to pick the movie." Walter walked toward the stack of movies.
"Walter, I don't want to watch another damn bowling movie. Let's let the new guy pick." The Dude said.
"That sounds pretty good. Medic, look through the movies, you can pick what's up first." Lyra nodded Medic toward the movies. He looked through them, all of them bearing similar names to ones from back home. finally settling on one.
"Ooh, Stallion in the Iron Mask. Classic" Lyra put the movie in. The group sat on the couches, watching the film as Medic breathed a sigh of relief, happy he had made the right choice.