The Conversion Bureau: Rise Again

by kildeez

Chapter 2: Chapter II: Todd

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As far as he was concerned, Todd the Newfoal lived a good life. Of course, he could have been lying in a drainage ditch miles away from civilization, and he would have been living a good life as far as he knew. Just being alive was more than enough for Todd, what else could he need? Sure, every now and again the growly feeling would grow in his stomach, but the nice ponies that found him always made sure to remind him to eat, and gave him plenty to eat to make the growly feeling go away. They also made sure he drank the clear water when his throat felt all dry and cracked, and not the yellow water that came out of him every now and again. This had confused him at first, but apparently, if it came out of him it wasn’t supposed to go back in. It took a week, but eventually, Todd had mastered this concept. He had felt so proud then! Too bad the other nice ponies hadn’t shared his pride. They’d just sort of looked at him with those bags under their eyes and cracked smiles that he somehow knew weren’t really smiles. He didn’t know how he knew they weren’t smiles, he just did.

“Todd!” Ohh! Somepony was calling for him! It sounded like Redheart! Redheart was one of the nice ponies who came to the village after everypony else…did something. He couldn’t remember what. In fact, his head just hurt really hard whenever he tried to remember what it was like before the something. He had decided to stop trying to remember. After all, why do something if it hurt? But Redheart was a very nice pony; she was the one who discovered them all in the first place!

She had shown up on Todd’s doorstep with a lot of things in suitcases, asking why everypony was just standing around, and Todd had said he didn’t know. Then she started asking questions that made Todd’s head hurt, like if he remembered the time on the pier when his “hahnd” had closed over her hoof, or that one time they’d danced on the shores of Lake Mishy-gan with the music from that rave playing down the beach, and then she’d gotten really, really sad and pulled out a ring and screamed at him to remember what it meant. Todd had gotten sad too, because Redheart was a very pretty pony and she had bought a lot of nice things and now she was sad, but in the end he had to tell her he didn’t know.

Redheart had sent a message to the nearest town asking all the other nice ponies to come, and then she spent that night on Todd’s couch, making weird noises, and Todd had come downstairs to see why she was making the noises. She had screamed again, thrown a pillow at his face and told him to get out, that he wasn’t her husband, couldn’t be her husband. Todd thought that was a strange thing to just scream in the middle of the night. Todd didn’t know what to do, so he just did what she told him and trotted outside. Of course, she hadn’t told him where to go, so he’d just sat on the front porch until the sun rose. Jerry had been at his window across the street. Todd liked Jerry, Todd liked everypony. Todd had waved at Jerry. Jerry had just stood there, swaying back and forth, and clear water had dribbled out his mouth (though not the kind of clear water he was supposed to drink, Todd had discovered, and this concept still confused him).

When Todd trotted back to the house, he found Redheart talking to a pony that looked a lot like her. The other pony that looked like Redheart but wasn’t took one look at Todd and grimaced. Todd waved. She didn’t wave back. Redheart kept her hoof to her face, her cheeks were wet. Todd wondered if she had just been walking in the rain, but no, wait, it hadn’t been raining…

“He’s gone, Red,” Todd heard the other pony say when he was still a good distance away. “You’ve gotta accept that.”

“No! He’s still in there!” Redheart half-whispered, half-gasped, and then she started talking really fast. “He calls me pretty and I sometimes catch him looking at me the way he used to and he likes his coffee black! Who likes their coffee black but him!?”

“Flickers!” The other pony insisted. “Just little flickers of that empty little brain trying to remember what it was! Come on, Red! Mom’s worried; it’s not healthy to live with that thing…”

“That thing is my husband!” Redheart wasn’t whispering any more. She was crying out at the top of her lungs.

Was your husband!” The other pony said, returning the cry.

Todd frowned. He felt something towards this pony, but not the usual instant, puppy-dog love he usually felt. Whenever she talked, something welled up inside him, made him feel all burny inside. He couldn’t quite put his hoof on it…but then something went all hummy and the burny feeling was gone and he just smiled at the ponies again. “Hi,” he said.

“Look, can we talk about this when he’s not standing right there!? At least out of respect for what he was,” Redheart hissed at the other pony.

The other pony sighed, but nodded. “Fine, have it your way. Kids!”

Immediately, a couple of little ponies came running out of the living room, heading towards the door. Todd smiled. He liked little ponies almost as much as he liked Redheart. They didn’t ask questions that made his head hurt, like some of the other ponies that had come to the village. They usually just wanted to play! Of course, sometimes they got hurt and made loud crying noises and got all sad, like one pony he’d been playing with, and Todd didn’t know what to do so he just cried with her until one of the nice ponies showed up to kiss it and make it all better. Todd had seen less little ponies around the town since then.

“They can play together while we talk,” Redheart whispered, which sounded great to Todd! So why did she look so sad saying it?

“So long as he doesn’t piss himself and teach them to do it too,” the other pony whispered. There was that burny feeling again! Todd decided he did not like this pony as much as the other ponies. In fact, as far as Todd was concerned, this pony was somewhere on the same level as the prickly plant he’d tried to lick the second day after Redheart arrived. That had not been a fun day at all.

The little ponies, one colt, one filly, ran around Todd, and he smiled at them as they cheered. “OUTSIDE!” The little filly said. “Mr. Todd! Let’s go play!”

“Okay!” Todd said cheerily, taking off alongside them.

“Stay in the town! Don’t go near the Everfree!” Redheart called after the group as they galloped away. Todd looked over his shoulder and grinned at her. She just gave him one of those not-smiles and trotted inside with the other pony. Todd decided that other pony wasn’t really nice at all.

“Mr. Todd, c’mon!” The colt called after him. “Let’s play tag!”

Todd grinned cheekily and raced to catch up with the pair, the trio bounding through the center of town where more ponies like him were being led around on their walks by some of the nice other ponies. All the others had the same, tired looks on their faces, and Todd wondered why they were all so tired. Maybe they just needed to sleep more, yeah!

“Mr. Todd! You’re it, Mr. Todd!” The little filly shouted.

Todd smiled and picked up the pace, ignoring his racing heart and the dry feeling at the back of his throat, focusing on the filly. He didn’t even notice as she led them through the town, right past the town’s border and past the sign that read “Welcome to Colony XYJ, ‘New Chicago,’ population 517 OUT OF THEIR BUCKING MINDS” as he and the pair of little ponies giggled their way along. Soon, flat grass and rolling pavement gave way to crunching foliage, and finally, his heart pounding and his muscles aching, Todd seized the filly’s tail in his teeth.

“EEK!” She laughed. “Okay, you got me!”

Todd grinned in victory and looked around for the little boy pony. Finally, he got a good look around. The big, safe buildings were all gone, replaced with crooked trees and dangling moss. Todd whimpered, his ears folding back. When had things gotten all scary around him?

“Mr. Todd?” He looked down, remembering the little filly at his hooves as she hugged one of his legs. “Wh-where’s my brother?”

“HEELLLPP!” A high-pitched voice cried, and Todd’s ears perked up. That hadn’t been a grown-up pony, he knew that much. Grown-up ponies didn’t make sounds that high-pitched when they screamed. Except for Mr. Orkland when he bumped his groin on the fence post outside his house.

“That’s him! Mr. Todd, c’mon!” The filly gasped, taking off into the woods and vanishing into the underbrush. Todd stood there and whimpered. He didn’t want to go into the scary woods. He wanted to go back to the village and have Redheart tell him things were going to be alright and maybe have her make him some hot chocolate. Except…if he didn’t come back with the little ponies, Redheart might get sad. Todd really didn’t want to make Redheart sad.

Shivering and whimpering pathetically, he slunk into the brush, his ears drooping and his head bowed low as he noisily crunched through the leaves and debris. The forest here was dark, darker even than Todd’s room before Redheart had installed that night light. The leaves off the towering, crooked trees around him only let in a few patches of sunlight, which teased him with their warmth and gentleness on their coat for the brief period of time they slid over his body. Somewhere far off, a branch snapped and slammed into the ground. Todd screeched and turned away from the sound, whimpering, tears in his eyes. He should turn back now. Redheart and the other nice ponies could look for the little ponies, they were smarter than him, they could figure out some…

“HELP!” Todd’s ears perked. That was two little ponies’ voices that time, not one. They were both in trouble.

A whine building in the back of his throat, Todd bounded after the source of the noise, instantly coming across a meadow filled with daisies. He thought they looked pretty. He thought he might pick some for Redheart, since she was pretty and he figured she might like pretty things. Then he noticed the shifting pile of wood on the other side of the meadow, and the two little ponies clambering to branches in a tree just over it. Todd squinted and stepped into the clearing, and suddenly the shifting pile of wood stopped. A pair of little red dots appeared in the middle of the pile, then another pair, and another. It took Todd a while to notice the wooden fangs dripping with sap beneath every pair of eyes.

“Run, Mr. Todd! Timberwolves!” The little girl pony screeched.

Todd wanted to run, wanted it more than he’d ever wanted anything in his short memory, but his hooves were frozen in place. He whimpered, barely able to move as a few chunks of the wood pile broke off and slunk across the meadow, slowing as they approached him, teeth bared, wooden snouts crinkled up in a snarl. Todd let out a soft sob, but only managed a single step back as the creatures advanced, their jaws opening for what appeared to them like an easy meal.



Todd looked up at the sound. The girl pony’s grip was failing her, and the boy pony was trying to pull her back up into the branches, but his small arms could barely grip her shoulders, much less pull her back to safety. The creatures were snapping at the bottom of her hooves, their jaws closing just short of clamping into the bone. Todd stopped. He stood up. He looked over the wolves, his eyes wide and blank. He locked eyes with one of the creatures. It returned the gaze, and then hesitated, whined, and took a step back.

“Get away from them,” Todd mumbled.


“FEATHERS!” Spark gasped, clambering for his sister’s wing. “HANG ON!”

“I’m trying!” She screamed, trying to brace a hoof against the branch to get a better grip. “I’m falling!”

“Just hold on!” Spark wrenched at her wings, trying to gain some leverage, but she was slipping.

“Spark! Help me!” His sister screamed.

“I…can’t!” He grimaced, tears falling from his eyes. She looked up at him desperately, begging him to save her from the whirling pile of claws and teeth beneath her. But he couldn’t. He was just too weak. “I’m sorry, sis, I’m so sorry…” he whimpered.

“You heard me! GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM THEM!” A familiar voice boomed across the field, echoing off into the distance with its power.

Spark looked up in surprise, still somehow maintaining his grip on his sister. “T-Todd?” He whispered.

The Newfoal stalked across the field, head lowered, but not in fear. His teeth were bared, a growl emanating from his throat. Behind him, one of the wolves that had been stalking him lay as a pile of scorched twigs, the one that had been standing next to him dancing away, yipping fearfully, fire crackling over half its body. The third was currently crawling away on its forelegs, its hind legs having been torn off at the knee and lodged firmly up its rectum.

Spark’s jaw hit his chest. “Todd!?”

“Motherfuckers, you no hear the words comin’ outta my mouf?” Todd screamed, his voice adopting a strange accent. Suddenly, it lowered a few octaves and his eye twitched. “I said GET BACK, GET BACK, DON’T KNOW ME LIKE THAT!” The remaining wolves all turned on him, forgetting the fillies and advancing on the Newfoal. A queer smile crossed his face while his eye twitched again, and Todd stood up on his hind legs, levelling a hoof on one of the advancing pack.

“Tonight…you.” He whispered hoarsely. The wolves all looked at each other queerly, and then one of them just shrugged and leapt at him. The funny little smile never left Todd’s face, even as a bolt of lightning arced out of the clear, blue skies above and struck the wolf right in the middle of its body, blasting it out of the air mid-leap. The wolf fell; nothing but a dead pile of twigs before it even hit the ground.

The next attack was a little smarter, approaching from Todd’s sides. His eye twitched again and turned ice-cold as his jaw clenched. “Go ahead, punk, make my day,” he growled.

The wolves leapt at the same time, but the queer little smile didn’t even flicker. Instead, the blades of grass beneath the wolf to his left shot out of the ground, growing a few yards in a blink of an eye and wrapping around the wooden body, dragging it down and squeezing it until something went snap, the remainder of the twigs being absorbed into the dirt. The other wolf met a right hook to the mouth that sent a piece of wood flying. It took Spark a few minutes to realize the piece of wood was its lower jaw. Todd seized the dazed wolf in his hooves, and then looked at it strangely. His eye twitched.

“Quick question: if a vacuum cleaner really sucks, is that a good thing?” He asked. A split second later, the air around his hooves spun up into a powerful tornado, ripping the wolf apart and sending its pieces flying.

The last wolf remaining looked at the Newfoal. Todd suddenly turned on it, a big, warm smile on his face. A bit of sap dribbled down one of the wolf’s hind legs, but still it leapt, slashing futilely with its claws. Todd stomped a hoof, and suddenly the wolf stopped, hovering in mid-air, whining and whimpering. “Some niggas gotta learn da hard way,” Todd grumbled, a small flame flickering at the tip of his hoof.

The wolf’s howls of agony soon filled the forest.


Redheart looked out over her porch as the sun set behind the trees, shadows extending all throughout the village. This was her favorite time of day. Like this, with the village basking in an orange glow and all the Newfoals being herded inside by their caretakers, she could pretend she was in a normal little village. That she had a normal job at the local clinic, that she had arrived that day not too long ago to be welcomed at the door by the former human she had fallen in love with, and that she had spent the rest of the day being escorted around town with that wonderful, loving stallion “showing off his super-hot wife.” She never learned what that meant: Todd had been ponified shortly after they’d gotten married, and had gone ahead of her to the little colony just a week later. “I’ll tell ya when you get there, babe,” he’d said with the confident little smile that, somehow, hadn’t changed when he’d become a pony. Then he’d kissed her with that burning passion she’d fallen in love with and hitched himself to a cart, taking off for the village.

“Red,” her sister said, trotting up alongside the nurse (or former nurse, now. She had meant to get a job at the local clinic, but that plan had fallen through once they’d discovered the doctor in his office, eating cotton swabs as if they were candy).

“Blue,” Redheart nodded, acknowledging her sister.

Blueheart smiled and put her hooves up on the oaken railing, styled after the little New England farmhouse Todd had always promised her they’d move into once he had the money. “It gets so quiet around here at night. Real peaceful,” Blueheart said wistfully.

“That’s kinda what happens when everypony just heads inside at night,” Redheart said dryly. “Not much chance for a night life when your town’s populace isn’t even potty-trained.”

Blueheart nodded, sighing tiredly. “Look, Red…”

“I know how you feel about him,” Redheart said, interrupting her sister. “I’ve always known, from the moment you learned he was a human.”

Blueheart looked at her sister; saw the bags under the other pony’s eyes, the way her usually neat, little bun had a few split ends and a couple strands coming loose. “Red…”

“I thought you’d get over it, get to see what I saw,” Redheart said, and finally, the tears she’d been holding back all day started flowing in earnest. “Get to see that man and…and see how he felt about me. What he could make me feel.”

Blueheart looked at her hooves, at the setting sun, anywhere but the broken pony before her. “I wanted to, Red, that’s why I came to the wedding. I can’t say I supported you two then, but I could tell you were happy.”

“I was…” the tears were flowing off her cheeks now. “I was so, so happy…”

“Things have changed, Red: this isn’t just about him being a Newfoal and you being a natural-born. Not anymore,” Blueheart still couldn’t meet her sister’s eyes. “Red, I attended that wedding even though he was a human because I knew he could do two things: make you happy, and provide for you.”

Redheart’s only reply was a few, quivering sobs.

Blueheart closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths, then placed a hoof on her sister’s shoulder and looked in her eyes. Redheart tried to look away, tried to shift her gaze to the side, but a gentle hoof on her chin prevented her from even this. “Red, look at me, please.”

Redheart obeyed, still sniffling.

“Can you honestly say he can be there for you now? Do you really believe he can hold you at nights and comfort the stress away? Hold down a steady-paying job?” She took a deep breath, bracing herself for twisting the final dagger in her sister’s heart. I’m so sorry, Red… “Do you even feel happy when you see him anymore?”

A refreshed barrage of sobs wracked Redheart’s body. “I…” she gasped. “I…”

A loud crash sounded, followed by a deep rumble. Both ponies’ ears perked up with the sound. “Lightning?” Redheart mused.

Blueheart looked at the sky. “Not a cloud in the sky. Besides, all the pegasus teams I talked to said they didn’t have any storms planned for another month.”

“Must’ve been a rock slide or something,” Redheart added, still talking absently, as if in a daze.

Shaking her head, Blueheart turned her attention back on her sister. “Red, I still think…”


The mares looked up, their heads swiveling around. “Was that…” Blueheart started before a massive, supersonic boom echoed through the streets. Todd slammed into the ground, his hooves kicking up dirt as he shot by, bracing himself as dirt went flying up in a wide arch behind him. The pair on the porch watched, awestruck, and for a second as he shot past, Redheart could swear she saw the stallion look right at her and wink. A blush rose to her cheeks. The stallion came screeching to a halt in the middle of the street, allowing the foals perched on his back to hop off and run to their mother.

“Kids!” Blueheart screamed, vaulting the bannister and racing to the little foals.

“Mommy!” Both tiny ponies sobbed as the mare embraced them, showering them with kisses.

“Kids…dear sweet Celestia, what happened!?” Blueheart gasped.

Both foals started talking at once, Blueheart not even caring, barely even listening, hardly able to believe they were still intact after the incredible display. She picked up a few odd words here and there, such as “magic,” “superpowers,” and “timberwolves,” although her ears did perk up at that.

“Wait, wait,” she held up her hooves, setting both children down and glaring at them. “What’s this about timberwolves? I thought I told you both to stay in the village!”

By now, a sizable crowd had gathered, mostly natural ponies wondering about the new drainage ditch that had just appeared in the middle of town, though some of their Newfoal charges followed them, looking at the ditch with big, wide, blank expressions. The foals both gained a sudden interest in the ground, both looking away bashfully to avoid their mother’s gaze and the eyes of the audience gathering around them.

“Well?” Blueheart demanded.

“W-we’re sorry, mama,” Feathers whimpered. “We got a little overexcited, and kinda let Mr. Todd chase us around, and we didn’t even realize what was happening until the timberwolves…”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Redheart said, holding her hoof up to stop the filly. “Timberwolves?”

Spark nodded enthusiastically his eyes finally lifting off the ground. “A whole pack of ‘em! Five…no…ten at least!” He threw his little hooves out dramatically, eyes wide. “They chased us up a tree, and they were growlin’ and snappin’ like RAGH!”

He punctuated himself by gnashing his teeth, making growling noises from the back of his throat. Blueheart sighed and nudged the colt, startling him out of his fit. One of her eyebrows arched disapprovingly. “Snappy, you know I would be angrier with you if you lied about what really happened, correct?”

The colt looked up at her, his eyes wide and confused. “What do you mean, mama?”

“Son, whatever happened in there, I’m sure it’s a bit more plausible than you and your sister fighting off a pack of ravenous timberwolves,” the mare replied, still glaring down at the little colt.

“But mmoooom! We didn’t fight the wolves!” Feather whined.

“Oh? Then what happened to them?”

Both foals stared wide-eyed up at her. Then, the colt pointed over to the cloud of dust Todd had disappeared into. “The human did,” both said.

The mares, along with the rest of the crowd, tilted their heads towards the rising pile of dust. After a few moments, the sound of hooves on hard-packed dirt clopped in everypony’s ears, the silhouette of a lone stallion slowly appearing from the rising dust. A familiar snout emerged, followed by a pair of eyes that gleamed with passion.

“T-Todd?” Redheart asked.

All at once, his eyes emptied, and he smiled that big, idiotic smile so many of the ponies had grown used to during the past weeks. “Hullo, Miss Redheart,” he said, sitting his plot down in the dirt as disappointment rose on her features, her hopes crashing back to the ground.

Nopony spoke for a second, then Blueheart stepped forward. “Todd,” she said carefully, as if speaking to a child holding a loaded AK-47. “What happened back in that field?”

The Newfoal paused, his brow furrowing with thought. He screwed up his eyes, tapped his chin for a few minutes, then smiled that empty little smile again, nodding approvingly, as if something inside him had reached some consensus.

“Big bad wolf went boom,” he replied, a wide grin spreading across his face. The Newfoals in the crowd all snickered and giggled with him.

Next Chapter: Chapter III: An Old Enemy Estimated time remaining: 42 Minutes
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