A few years ago...
“Can I ask you something?”
“Go for it.”
It was nighttime at Junior Speedsters Camp; a long and grueling day yielded exhausted campers. They lounged in their beds, some drifting to sleep immediately while others – like a griffin named Gilda and a rainbow-themed pegasus pony named, appropriately enough, Rainbow Dash – lay awake in their beds, too revved up to sleep.
“So,” Rainbow said curiously, “I've always wondered something since I first saw you.”
“Yeah? What's that?” Gilda asked, equally interested. She turned her head to look at the pony.
“Well, it's like...” Dash drew her eyebrows down and pursed her lips, deep in thought. “Ugh, how do I put it? Like, you're a griffin. I guess I just... you know, wonder what that's like. To have, you know, two different parts of your body.”
Gilda laughed. “Nah, I know what you're asking, Dash,” the griffin answered. “And really, I can't tell you, because it's not like my back half feels different from my front or anything. To me, it feels completely natural. It's cool, Dash, I've already gathered that everyone thinks I'm weird...” she trailed off.
The pegasus looked at Gilda with concern. “I don't think you're weird,” Dash said soothingly, “and neither do a bunch’a people. Don't let a few ponies who are close-minded and big-mouthed get you down.”
“I guess,” Gilda said uncertainly. She turned away from the pony.
“Hey, come on, G,” Dash said, feigned annoyance in her voice, “Stop being such a grumpy Gilda!” The pun elicited a small laugh from the griffin, but nothing else. Dash racked her brains, trying to think of something to do to cheer her friend up. “Hmmm,” she murmured aloud, “something else I've always wondered...”
She looked down at Gilda's legs, the paws at the end completely mystifying to the hoofed pony; however, she noticed the griffin's skin breach the fur in the form of paw pads, like any pawed animal would have. Pursing her lips, Dash twisted in her bed, reaching out her tail to brush them...
The reaction was explosive. The legs drew up into the body, and Gilda let out a muted eagle screech as she turned to Dash. “That,” she said breathlessly to the pony, “is NOT cool, Dash.”
The pony grinned. “The big, mean, Gilda, ticklish?” Dash laughed.
Gilda frowned. “Look, just leave it, all right?” She tried to sound angry, but couldn't help but let a little bit of mirth escape.
“Aww, come on, G,” Dash said, pretending to pout, “It can't be THAT bad...” The pony stretched out one of her wings, the feathers outstretched towards Gilda's paws; Dash's laugh redoubled as the griffin clutched at her legs protectively with one of her hand-like talons, the other swiping at Dash's wing. It really WAS that bad, and that gave her ideas...
Another long day at Junior Speedsters Camp. The young fliers again ambled back to their dormitories, ready to go to sleep.
“Hey, G,” Rainbow Dash called out. Gilda heard it, swooping down from doing long lazy circles in the air to get out a bit of her energy.
“Hiya, Dash,” Gilda answered. “What's up?”
“I just wanted to apologize,” the pony went on. “You know, for last night...”
Gilda chuckled. “It's fine, Dash,” she said. “It's all in good fun, right? You improved my mood, and now I guess I've gotta watch out for that stuff on top of all your pranks.”
Dash nodded, grinning. “Oh yeah,” she said happily, “That, you do.” The pair continued walking back, slowly, the other campers overtaking them in the trip back. A few shot grins at the two, for some reason.
“I don't know about you,” Gilda said, “but I don't think we can do our chit-chat tonight. I am beat.” The door loomed ahead, and the griffin reached for it, pushing it aside. She stepped in, holding it open for Dash.
“I just wanted to talk about one thing, G,” Dash said as they followed the aisle to their beds. “And actually,” she said as they reached them, “a few other people wanted to join in.” The pair's side-by-side beds were surrounded by a handful of the other campers, the entire gamut from pony to griffin to dragon being accounted for. Gilda recognized some of them as those that had smiled oddly as they rushed past.
Gilda froze, mid-stride. “What's...” she tried to ask a question. “Dash, what are you...”
“Oh, we're just talking, Gilda,” the pony answered nonchalantly. She hopped on her bed, reclining with a sigh of relief. “Aaaaahhh. Come on, G, kick back, relax.”
Gilda, too exhausted to quite think straight, nodded and laid down. She realized very quickly that this was a mistake, as their new bunkmates quickly surrounded her and held her down.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” she said, frightened. “This is going somewhere I really don't like.” She tried to twist free, but the teenage dragon, about the size of her, used his hands like clamps to secure her shoulders down. “Dash, what are you doing? What's going on?”
“You were right, you know,” Dash said evilly. “About having to watch out. Bet you didn't expect it to be this soon.”
“Dash, what are you...” the pony entered Gilda's sightline. A feather was in her mouth. Gilda's eyes contracted to pinpricks in panic. “No, Dash. Please, no.”
“Hey,” Rainbow responded innocently, her face suggesting naivete, “I don't know what you're talking about!” The blank expression was replaced by a vicious smirk.
Gilda was crying. “Come on, guys,” she said pleadingly, “Great fun, right? You got me. Can you let me go, now? Please?”
Dash looked concerned, if only for an instant. “Wow,” she said, voice worried, looking at Gilda's face, “I haven't even done anything and you're already crying and begging? I feel almost bad for this.” The smile returned. “Almost.”
Gilda awoke, spread out on her back, to near-darkness. Near-darkness, and immobility.
For a minute, she sat, eyes open, thinking that it was a remnant of her dream, a nightmare really, about how she had lost one of her best friends. She watched powerlessly as her harsh demeanor, once so endearing to that friend, now pushed them away, and Gilda could do nothing to take the words back. She knew, as it faded, that it was more than just a fabrication; it was a memory. But as she cast sleep aside, the same helplessness, the feeling that she was watching a film of herself, was still present.
The griffin frowned. She wasn't sure, but she thought that her inability to move was unnatural. Shaking her head to throw off the dream, she tried once more to get up, and found something holding her down. Confused, she tried to tilt her neck forward, found herself able to do so, and surveyed herself. Were those... she tried to lift her right arm, and some dark band of... something moved with it, holding it down. She froze, her breath stuck in her throat, and did the same with her left; again, there was something holding it down. She couldn't see down to her legs, but something seemed to be holding those down, as well.
The breath hissed out and Gilda began to hyperventilate as she continued to survey herself. Her body was also tied down, and her wings were secured around her torso. She attempted to flex them, the powerful muscles straining, but was unable to free them. Now truly panicked, she began thrashing against the bonds, but to no avail. She was stuck. Finally, she called out, her raspy voice echoing through whatever chamber she was in with no effect. Her piercing eagle screech followed that, ringing through the darkness, but as it faded, silence fell once more.
“No, no, no,” she muttered to herself, “this can't be – what the heck is going on!?” As if in answer, there was a noise from somewhere behind her, and instinctively she tried (and failed) to arc her neck backwards far enough to see what caused it. She waited for a minute, to see if it came back, before tentatively calling out again. “Hello?”
Silence. Gilda shrieked again, the sound more like a scream than a mere animal sound, and this time the noise responded by coming again. Then again. It grew steadily louder, and she realized as it did so that it was the sound of a pony's hooves on a dirt surface, a muted clop-clop-clop.
“W-w-who are you?” Gilda managed to stammer out as her mind came to the horrifying realization that her condition was not a natural one, and that this pony may be the cause of it. Silence answered. “Look, I don't know w-what you're doing or who you are, but come on, just get me out of here.” Silence. She tried to plead again. “Seriously, this is messed up. I just want to go home. Let me go.” Silence. Panic seized her once more, and her next request was even louder, begging even. “What are you doing? This isn't cool, I just wanna go. I don't know what your deal is, but this isn't right.”
“What’s your frickin’ problem!?” Gilda screeched. “I didn’t do anything! This is freaking me out! Let me go!”
“You did, too, do something.” The voice was a slight wind in the breeze. Gilda could barely hear it. “You did many things, many bad things. And now...” the voice trailed off as the pony came around the table and within Gilda's view, and the griffin recognized her, “I'm going to make you suffer as well.” It was a yellow pegasus pony, with pink hair, and Gilda now remembered that soft-spoken voice, barely more than a whisper.
“Oh no,” Gilda whispered. “No, no, no. Please, no. This... Don't tell me..”
Fluttershy looked baffled. “What?” she asked, in a concerned voice, which confused Gilda even more. “Did I do something wrong? I've never – I mean, um, what do you think it is?” A look of feigned annoyance.
Gilda watched her, mouth agape, the inanity striking her worse than pure malice would have. “You're psychotic, aren't you?” she asked, voice cracking. “You've gone off the deep end.”
The pegasus looked confused at that, and shook her head. “No, no, that's all wrong,” she said with annoyance. “I'm, um, supposed to be scaring you. Or something.”
“You're doing a great job,” the griffin responded honestly, terrified. “What are you doing? What's going on? Is this about that stupid party? Or your ducks?”
The pony nodded. “Oh, yes,” she said, satisfied if not quite happy. “Yes, those are what this is about. I was trying to think of what I could do to, um, get back, or whatever, and decided I would do this.”
Gilda shook her head spastically. “No-no-no-no-no,” she mumbled, “It was just a joke, right? There's no need to... please, I don't know what you're gonna do, but whatever it is, it can't be good. Please,” she said, enunciating it clearly, “just let me go. See? I'll be nice, I'll turn a new leaf, I'll do whatever you want, just please let me go.”
Fluttershy shook her head gently but emphatically. “Oh, no-no-no,” she said in a reprimanding voice, “I'm afraid I can't do that. See, to get you down here was really hard. And I intend to see you learn a lesson for harming my friends.”
Gilda thrashed against her bonds. “LET ME GO!” she screamed, her vision growing cloudy as she started crying from the utter helplessness. “I'M SORRY, ALL RIGHT? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED TO HEAR? I'M S-O-R-R-Y!”
Fluttershy again shook her head, this time with a look of sadness on her face. “As I said, I will do the very worst thing I can imagine to you.”
“Please,” Gilda breathed almost silently, tears freely streaming through the feathers on her cheeks.
“I'm sorry,” Fluttershy said herself, voice actually sounding as if she pitied Gilda, and the griffin only moaned at the implications. Comforting the victim. She was going to die down here, she knew it. “It's the only way,” the pony continued. “I must make you understand what it's like to suffer.”
Turning away from Gilda, the pony began talking to herself. “Okay, so,” she said quietly, “how will I do this?” The voice died, and she held a hoof to her chin in thought. Gilda could only shiver in her bonds, now sobbing quietly. “Ah, yes,” Fluttershy muttered. She twisted her neck around, and grabbed ahold of her one of her wings in her mouth. She pulled sharply, wincing as a feather came loose, clenched in her mouth. “ow,” she said quietly, still wincing.
Gilda's mind raced. What would she do with that? Use it as a needle? Carve into her flesh? The griffin began shuddering uncontrollably. “Please,” she sighed once more, almost inaudibly.
“I'm so sorry,” the pegasus said again in reply. Gilda could only clench her eyes tightly and wait for the pain to start.
One of her back paws began to itch, out of nowhere. Her mind screamed with glee at the insignificance of such a small discomfort when more pressing matters were at hand. She tried to ignore it, but it wouldn't go away. She allowed the leg to kick, or as much as it could, knowing that it would be the most – and last – pleasant sensation she would probably ever experience in her life.
But it didn't go away. It got... worse.
Until, slowly, it built into... her mind froze. Was she going nuts? Was she really imagining that she was being tickled? But the feeling wouldn't go away, and against her will, a tiny spasm ran through her body, a slight chuckle coming from her beak, and she wondered if she was already dead, or perhaps going insane as the equally-psycho pony had its way with her body.
It kept growing, a feeling she hadn't experienced since she was just a fledgling – no, since the more innocent times at Junior Speedsters, when Rainbow Dash and the rest of the gang would decide to have some fun with the griffin. Her lion's paws were apparently more sensitive to touch than the ponies' hooves, and she would be reduced to a giggling mess by the time they had finished tickling the living crap out of her. Good times. But back in the present...
Opening her eyes, against her better judgment, Gilda was astounded to see the yellow pony, a furiously concentrated expression on her face, using the feather to... tickle the griffin’s paws. It was wholly surreal, and with the stupidity of it all, Gilda couldn't help but burst out in laughter. The pony clenched her tongue between her teeth, face set in determination as she continued. Gilda's laughter intensified, and she threw herself against the bonds as hard as she could again, this time unconsciously.
Fluttershy frowned as she looked up. “I'm so sorry,” she said, “I know that if someone did this to me, it would be absolutely horrible. But it MUST be done.” Gilda could only shriek with laughter, at the tickling... no, the sheer WEIRDNESS of the situation.
Fluttershy was now crying softly as she kept going; Gilda simply kept giggling uncontrollably, eyes filled with tears of her own, albeit from the laughter. The tickling stopped a long minute later, and Fluttershy regarded the griffin with grieving eyes. “I'm so sorry,” the pony whispered over the chuckles as Gilda recovered slowly. “I-I wouldn't bring that upon any pony, but it was the only way I could...” she trailed off. “I said I would do the worst I could think of,” she said finally after a few seconds, “and this is the very worst thing I could imagine. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Gilda was filled with an almost manic glee, both from the tickling itself and the relief of not being chopped up and made into cupcakes or something like that. “Look,” she managed to stammer out, still a bit breathless, “I'm sorry, okay? I regret what I did” – she did, it had cost her Dash – “and I'm sorry that I made you cry, and... okay, uh,” she said finally, “No one's done that for years. I mean, made me laugh like that. Jeez, now I sound cheesy,” she said with annoyance. “Basically, you made me remember what fun is. And I'm not saying I'm not still cooler than all you buggy ponies,” she said haughtily, “but, I, uh, really appreciate you not killing me and all.”
Fluttershy looked aghast. “Kill you?” she said, horrified. “W-w-why would...” She put a hoof to her mouth, clearly in shock. “No, no, that's just... ponies don't...”
Gilda nodded. “I get it. Okay, so, uh, not to make this too awkward or anything, you know, aftermath and all, but could you let me go now?”
“I wish I could, but that's just not possible,” Fluttershy said. “You see, it's not over.”
Gilda smiled despite herself. “Fine,” she said, “tickle me some more. Man, I can’t believe I actually said that. I kind of enjoy it, you don't treat it like too much like torture or anything.” Speedsters. Held down against her will. Hours of... those were long nights. But this shy pony was much gentler about it, and it was genuinely enjoyable.
Fluttershy looked in the distance, eyes focused on something... or someone. “No, this was just the beginning,” she said quietly. Gilda's heart plummeted. The way the pony said that... “It only gets worse from here on out.”
“No,” Gilda said simply. She WAS going to be tortured. Killed. Mutilated. “Please, no. I really am sorry!”
“So, G,” a raspy voice, like Gilda's but higher-pitched, rang out. “Remember Junior Speedsters Camp?”
A rainbow-maned pegasus pony. A feather clutched in her mouth. A wicked look on her face.
“Think we can break the two hour mark, G? Just like old times?” Rainbow Dash’s voice was both full of glee and completely ruthless.