The Clinic: Chapter One
Caramel trotted down the hallway at a tentative pace. His paper overalls fluttered despite the lack of any breeze, the flapping of white material against the perfectly sterile white flooring was completely lost on his retinas. This was his second visit to The Clinic now; everything had the most pristine sheen, he imagined such cleanliness was only possible with magic.
The door at the end of the hallway opened, Dr Lambent casually beckoned him in, patting him on the back and walking down the consecutive hallway beside him. He greeted Caramel, a subtle southern drawl evident on his otherwise crystal-like voice.
"Well, it's good to see you considered our proposition enough to come back, Caramel. I'm glad you're keeping all options open."
"I...uhh...thanks. I'm still on the fence with it all, but I want to consider."
The doctor nodded, an understanding gathered from replaying the exact scene he was experiencing with a hundred other patients.
"Well, I can give you the run down again. It's a real bad feeling, thinking you're in the wrong body, Caramel. I don't know how you feel, it's different for everypony we see here. But then, that's why we're here."
He nudged a door to his left open with a hoof, offering Caramel entry. Caramel obliged, staring at his hooves as he entered.
"You can go to a clinic, get a, 'sex change,' where they cut and sew you to try and look like somepony you ain't, or you can go with us." The doctor tapped a light switch, a single spotlight illuminated a table in the centre, a plethora of documents lying on top. Caramel flicked through them curiously, Cart Licenses, Passports, Birth Certificates, everything he could imagine.
"Bank account here set to the exact balance of your current one, minus our fee, of course. Everything you have now, you'll have in your new identity afterwards. You sign these documents, you relinquish all your assets to us...including your current body."
Caramel's heart froze as it noticed the level of treachery he was about to wreak on it. However, he had never loved his heart, it wished to be the wrong gender of pony, always betraying him, hurting him severely. It was why he had tried to stop it, one bitter night, which in turn, was how he found out about The Clinic.
"I want to see it first...to be certain this is above board."
The doctor raised his hooves in a casual surrendering motion. "Why, Caramel. Of course, I wouldn't expect you to buy an apple without seeing it first, much less something of this...magnitude." Another light was flipped, revealing a figure in the corner of the room.
Caramel's maligned heart both stopped and leapt at the same time. A mare stood in the corner, her caramel coloured coat, embellished with a trio of horseshoes on her flank. Her hair flowed long and golden, eyes the lightest pink. He stroked a hoof across her face, smoother than the finest porcelain. She stood still, eyes simply staring ahead, not even the slightest glint of life within.
"The apple of any stallion's eye, Caramel. I must say, the Creators were fantastically satisfied with how this one turned out. Staggering, isn't she? Or should I say...won't you be? Sign the document, wave away your life of bullying, awkward genderisms, and free yourself. New life, new name. Caramel stays here, Toffee Apple leaves for her new, full life."
Caramel's heart was pounding now, trying to stop him. It could bucking try all it wanted. He grabbed the provided pen between his teeth, frantically signing off the document. No more jibes from AppleJack and the rest, no more stallions picking on him, calling him, 'dame's colt,' or, 'coltcuddler.' No, he'd be happy with who he would become, for the first time in his life.
"Very good, Caramel. I feel, personally, you made the right decision." The light clicked off, Toffee Apple was shrouded in shadow once more. "Come with me, and we'll organise the transfer."
More sterile hallways, though the journey was much shorter now. The doctor opened another doorway into a brightly lit room. Two beds sat in the centre. On one, despite having left her behind moments ago, was Toffee Apple. The doctor walked towards the body as Caramel lay on the bed, turning to watch the process.
"Pity, there was always one thing missing. That little twinkle in the eye that life gives, perfect otherwise. You're the missing ingredient to that perfection, Caramel. Now sleep."
The doctor's horn glowed, and Caramel's consciousness dissipated. The good doctor turned back towards his two patients, attaching a long, thin piece of metallic string to each of their temples. He pulsed his horn, and the string drained all that Caramel was, from his body. Thoughts and feelings, memories and experiences. All absorbed by the mare laying across from him. Her hooves twitched, eyelids fluttering as the wire grew red hot with the sheer life force running through it. After a moment, it cooled, and the doctor removed it from Caramel's brow.
A last moment of silence was held for Caramel. The doctor wiped the sweat from the now dead colt's brow with a handkerchief. The Erasers could dispose of the body in a convincing manner soon, not a matter Doctor Lambent often troubled his thoughts with.
He turned to the mare’s prone form. Toffee Apple, who's heart now pulsed with newfound life. The brain, though deep asleep, flurried with the unknown complexity of thought.
He left her for an hour. The new brain needed time to understand the being it had been presented with. A small wipe of the handkerchief removed the tiny beads of sweat on Toffee Apple's brow. Yes, she was perfect. He had modelled her based on Caramel's already fairly effeminate features. The Creators were improving their craft with each new pony. So many confused ponies in this world. Pegasi born into earth families that vilified their flight. An earth pony among unicorns, yearning for the horn to cast magic with. The doctor healed all their pains, granted them their new, true life that Celestia had denied them.
Were Celestia to discover The Clinic, it would, undoubtedly, be razed to the ground. The magic to create life was not commonplace, nor could it be replicated. No, such magic can only be birthed by an alicorn. It had been a thousand years since the Royal Sisters were torn apart in treachery and envy, and Lambent had staged something of a coup to procure from Princess Luna one, very valuable gift. A gift she gladly gave to spite her sister; the gift of life.
This gift could create new bodies, new vessels to be filled. It was incomplete, unable to bring the vessels to their own life. That needed a magic of another nature, and Love was as exceptionally difficult a magic to procure as Life was. The two were base-pairs in the same strand of thought; one cannot exist without the other.
Celestia, of course, soon discovered her sister’s final treason. She had spent the last millennium hunting Lambent, and he, in turn, had evaded all she could muster. His mission was the happiness of Equestrians, Celestia could not take it upon herself to be the only benefactor of Life, if what she created were broken souls and half-ponies.
The hour soon passed as rapidly as his thoughts. Soon, Toffee Apple's twitches halted. The body fell into a natural sleep. The doctor lay a hoof on her forehead, focusing his magic to gently bring her back to the waking world. Toffee Apple sluggishly looked around uncertainly, confused about her surroundings, and the body she occupied them with.
"Just give it time, Ms Apple, and it will pass. Your memories knew how to operate your old form, they will need time to acclimatise to this new form. But don't worry, it will be a day at most, the process is very efficient. Now, try to walk. Newborn foals learn quickly, so it will be no effort to you."
He gently helped Toffee Apple to her hooves, releasing her as she wobbled uncertainly, but held her stance. Her balance strengthened after a moment, and she began tentative steps towards the prone form of Caramel laying on the other bed. A delicate hoof stroked the rugged, coltish features of his cheek, a tear smattering his snout, a final kiss placed upon his lips.
"Goodbye, Caramel. It was a hard life being you, but now, I'm happy. I'm Toffee Apple, free to be whoever I want." The realisation dawned on her as Toffee stroked her now gloriously flowing mane, twisting to admire her physique. Joy welled in her heart, a new heart that was the same as the old, but fitted the body it was in. A heart that wanted to be loved as a filly, in a colt's body, could only be broken. Now...now her heart could be complete.
She practically danced over to Doctor Lambent, the synergy between mind and body becoming more complete, more harmonious by the minute. She wrapped her forelegs around the doctor's neck, who politely reciprocated, patting her back.
"Thank you, doctor, thank you. I...I can live the life I want now." She turned back to her old body, now slowly becoming a distant memory as her mind evolved into the role she played now. "What about Caramel...what happens to him?"
"He has a horrible, and tragic accident. His family remember his merits, and ignore his flaws, as they were fleeting. He stays an unsoiled memory of the hardworking blacksmith that worked to his best ability to please everypony, not an awkward coltcuddler bullied by the township."
Toffee smiled sadly at Caramel. The legacy of what he was, now ended. At least his family would have the strong colt they wanted for a son. She felt bad, abandoning her family, but in the end, she had already attempted to abandon them several times, and abandon her life once too. Her life as Caramel was over. She turned to the doctor, who led her back to the documents that would allow her to begin her new life. Toffee Apple, nineteen years old, Appleloosa born. He...She would become it, embrace it, and be utterly ecstatic with it.
* * * * * *
Detective Sergeant Hard Beat could feel the tension in his muscles, the way they tightened and constricted his ribcage, making breathing barely possible. His wife often mentioned the tension over a concerned back massage, but Hard Beat could hardly evade his duties, much less the stresses they caused.
Take the current case, for example. He’d been stuck with the new greencorn recruit, whom he had barely prevented from grabbing everything his horn could reach and destroying the evidence within. His case was in a tiny, backwater village in the rumphole of nowhere. Yes, dealing with Pony Constable Hook Up was one rung on the tension ladder. A two hour trip from Canterlot to this town was another rung. The letter that had been sent to them by fireline moments after their arrival was the final straw.
Beat could deal with all these things, they came with the job. The one thing he couldn’t deal with, was being told he wasn’t doing it properly. Of course, when he was supposedly out of his depth, they sent them. They were the reason why he was currently rubbing his hooves in anxiety, casting his eyes around for any sign of arrival. He’d ordered Hook Up to stay close, Hard Beat himself had only encountered the Luminaries once; away back in his days as a uniformed officer on the beat. They were not a wing of the law that aimed to endear themselves to the public pony, that he could be sure of.
The scene itself was fairly pedestrian. Victim inside the home, house itself a charred web of fallen timber and burnt thatching. Anypony who had spent a day on the force could see the cause of death, it was who caused the cause of death itself that mattered. The muscles on his back, once more, contracted painfully; this job would send him to an early grave, that was for sure. On this particular case, apparently, someone with a higher pay-grade than him decided his pay grade wasn’t high enough to check it out. He only wished they’d made that decision before the trip out. He could’ve been sitting in a coffee bar enjoying a cup of joe and some sprinkled donuts.
Beat’s wishful musing was cut short as two, tiny dots of light invaded his vision. They formed in the courtyard outside the house, growing into the size of a hoofball, and ballooning outwards. The balls themselves seared with an intense, blinding light. Yet, they cast no shadows or light upon the world around themselves. Finally, they grew to the size and shape of a pony, before disappearing with a flash and a sound like crumbling masonry.
In the place of the spheres of light, two ponies now stood. They looked exactly as Beat imagined a monastic order for the Princess would look. They were clad all in simplistic, brown robes. They were unadorned, but hardly inconspicuous. Their very coats glowed with a passive light; soft, yet pervasive as the sun. One was a mare, her coat ethereally white. Not through lack of colour, but excess, like the brightest light overpowering the eye. Her mane was a menagerie of shades that would have blended into the deepest ice lakes perfectly, her eyes cold as the heart of the moon, devouring everything before them, but offering nothing back.
The other pony was a stallion. His eyes shone with the fire of the sun, a vibrant, viscous orange that seemed to plume and dance across his irises. His eyebrows were set in an intent glare, his mane seemed to be spun from pure gold. Like his counterpart, his coat shone with an identical tone of un-Equestrian luminance.
Beat gulped, hardly being able to comprehend the two Luminaries as they retreated their hoods, each enveloping the coifs in a vibrant aura of silver magic. The stallion stepped forward, bowing his head sharply.
“Greetings, I am Brother Lucent, and this is my accomplice, Sister Borealis.”
Beat reclaimed control of his hanging jaw, fighting it into the act of speech. “Goo-good evening, sir, and madam. I was sent here to investigate the incident, apparently the pony’s name is Cara-.”
“We were fully briefed on your role, and everything your Police Force is currently aware of.”
It was the mare, Borealis, that spoke. Her voice carried a tone like hooves cracking sheets of ice. “We are simply here as an extension of Her will. If you please, allow us to conduct this interview, we have collaborated with your superiors to allow you a week’s paid leave for the moment.”
“You mean we’re getting a paid holiday?!” Hook Up’s eyes shone, until Borealis turned her gaze towards his. He withered like a rose in the snow.
“Indeed. Enjoy it as you will. Constable Hook Up, Sergeant Hard Beat. You are hereby dismissed for one-hundred sixty-eight hours.”
Hard Beat inclined his head, receiving an eerily-perfectly synchronised pair of nods in return. He trotted away, understanding the need to simply not question an order from a superior this time. His trot became a light canter as he decided to stop off in the local bakery and grab something for the road. Today had been too bucking long already.
Borealis’ gaze tracked Hard Beat as he departed, hooves kicking a trail of dust from the rustic hoofpath as he left them behind. The smaller figure of the Constable, Hook Up, followed in his wake. Her brow furrowed in the lightest expression of uncertainty as she watched them leave, turning towards Lucent.
“Intriguing that the elder pony left first, is it not?”
Lucent inclined his head, staring at the pony-shaped dot on the horizon. “He left his post far too easily, without question or protest. Either he is a devout follower, or a slothful deserter. I will speak with his superiors again once we have completed our investigation here. I do not like the idea of police colts readily abandoning their duties.”
Borealis inclined her head. Duty was duty, though few ponies followed the word of the All Giving Princess with the devotion that the Luminaries held. They were the brightest light of her imagining; illuminating the darkness that threatened Equestria. She supposed that the Detective Sergeant had a family he wished to be with. Perhaps, in that matter, mercy could be considered for his occupation.
“I suppose it is customary for the mare to enter first?” Borealis turned to her counterpart, before entering the building. Lucent followed afterwards, navigating around the fallen beams of timber. They collected themselves in what would have been the living room. A fireplace still stood; defiant stones scorched, but unscathed. All the rest of the room had been seared by the hottest flame, including the form of the colt laying in its centre.
“Sister Borealis, you were sent to me with the purpose of learning the art of investigation, and divination of evidence. Tell me, what can you decipher from this room?” Lucent retracted his posture slightly, but still as stiff in stance as ever. It was the closest he would ever allow himself to come to what the public pony would call a comfortable leaning stance.
In her turn, Borealis focused her magic, her horn forming the tiniest but most potent ball of light upon its tip. The spell to carry a sun on the summit of the horn was a gift from Celestia only the Luminaries were blessed with. She focused it upon the ground, in the centre of the room was where the burns on the floor were most ferocious.
“The fire had taken hold more in the centre than the edge in which the fireplace is kept.” She knelt down, stroking the surface with a hoof. A slight layer of oily substance coated her hoof.
“Here there was some sort of substance laid down around the body, the flame focused its heat here, rather than the fireplace it seemed to originate from. Indeed, it is likely the flame never originated from the fireplace at all, the outer surface is scorched far more than the inner.”
Lucent inclined his head, still holding his stoic stance. “Excellently surmised, Sister Borealis. Any further conclusions?”
“Many.” She now turned her attention to a small lamp in the corner, lifting it to find it empty of any contents. More oil slicked her hoof at the first touch.
“The paraffin in this oil lamp was drained. Indeed, the tip still holds some oil from the pouring. So the perpetrator used locally-acquired accelerants, rather than their own. To what end do you imagine, Brother?”
She turned to Lucent, brow furrowed once more with uncertainty. He nodded, before moving towards the body in the centre.
“Were I to burn a body, my intent is obviously to disfigure. Now, we must ascertain what the perpetrator aimed to hide.” He knelt beside the body, lifting it by the head. Ichor dripped from the scorched flesh, not a single flicker of emotion expressed itself upon Lucent’s face. He laid a hoof on what once was the colt’s forehead, focusing his magic into its skull.
After a few seconds, the flesh began to repair, returning to the state it held before its incineration. A chocolate-brown mane once more flowed from the cap of the skull, the light brown coat and skin reforming on the face. He halted his magic, removing a hoof from the forehead to cast his eye over it. A thin smile slashed across his face as he spied his prize.
“Sister Borealis, allow me to ask you if you recognise this wound.” He pointed a hoof to the finest, hairline scar perceivable. It would never have been noticeable had it not been bright red amongst the newly regrown skin.
“I...I do not recognise it, Brother. A...whip, perhaps?”
Lucent shook his head, allowing the body to softly drop to the floor as he rose upon his hooves.
“Not a wound you will have encountered, but a wound I have found on many victims. It is the evidence of a crime against the very laws of Celestia herself. Against her most fundamental right as giver of all life.” Lucent paced the room, casting his gaze around for more clues of the perpetrators’ next movements. “They destroy the body, because it was already dead. But the life force has not left this mortal plane. No; if our knowledge and findings on this matter are correct, we are dealing with an organisation that transfers the mind of a living pony to bodies of their own creation.”
Sister Borealis was silent for a long moment, trying to comprehend the gravity of Lucent’s words. Her mind burnt through the problem presented to her, de-compiling and categorising its contents.
“How in Equestria can a pony do such a thing? Surely the Sun Princess knows? Surely she must lash out against these...these...” She raised a hoof to her head, regaining her composure. “We cannot allow this to continue, Brother Lucent. What is our next motion in apprehending these criminals?”
Lucent had already departed to a corner of the room, where a small piece of paper had caught his attention. A remnant of a pamphlet, irreparable even to magic. On this one, surviving piece, however, the word, ‘Appleloosa,’ was emblazoned in sharp, bold lettering.
“Sister Borealis, alert the guard to prepare this body for a funeral, our investigation carries us elsewhere. I may have found the piece these traitors to the crown have overlooked. Our search begins in Appleloosa.”
I do not hate gender ops, people who undergo gender ops, or transsexuals, etc. Any opinions expressed by characters in this fic are not my opinion. They are fictitious pastel-shaded ponies.
Please stop claiming that by writing this, I am directly attempting to insult transsexuals. I’m afraid I may end up ignoring you to death.