The Conversion Bureau - Kenny

by Dan_s Comments

Chapter 1: One-Shot

The Conversion Bureau - Kenny
Dan's Comments

DISCLAIMER: My Little Pony is the property of Hasbro, Inc.

Kenny waved good-bye to the last of the technicians he worked with, as the woman entered the Conversion Bureau. She'd said some nice things about their working together, and about him personally, and her fervent wish that he follow her, to 'at least try'. He'd accepted the compliments with good grace, and reminded her that the work at the Institute wasn't complete. The few days they had left might make all the difference. She'd tearfully hugged him as she hurried inside. The Time of Man would be ending within the week, and only the most diehard weren't scurrying to the Conversion Bureaus to survive the onslaught.

Kenny still had work to do, work he'd continue right up to the end. He walked through the rows and rows of abandoned automobiles and trucks. Some have little AIs, he thought, knowing personally how difficult it was to teach an AI how to drive a vehicle in traffic, and how advanced they had to be. They'll be gone by this time next week. Is it wrong to be sentimental about entities little more advanced that clever pets, but they'll still 'die' as surely as their human creators will? I wonder what will happen to all the pets? They aren't as intelligent as their Equestrian counterparts, or are they counted as 'human creations' as much as the buildings and the technology?

The musings didn't distract him enough to fail to notice the purple shape paralleling him several rows away. Combat training more extensive than anything the Equestrians could imagine had been drilled into him. As well as an unshakable loyalty to Humanity. One that even imminent death could not discourage. Well ma, are you proud of your boy? he mused as he stopped and waited.

"Twilight Sparkle, come out," he called to his shadower.

The Element of Magic appeared next to him. "How did you know it was me, and how do you know me?" she asked.

"I'd love to have time to study how you do that," he admitted, "It would make my job so much easier. I have studied all of you, the Bearers, the Princesses and any pony of influence. Why the sudden interest in me? You've never shown any before."

"We have security footage, you've dropped off at least 57 people."

"Eighty-three," he replied.

"But you've never come inside yourself," she offered shyly, "You are aware of what's happening? What will happen in a few days?"

"I'll be dead, along with whatever members of Humanity remain on this planet," he replied without emotion, "Does that adequately sum it up?"

"You can go to the Conversion Bureau, no one will think less of you," she said and gave a lopsided grin, "There's not really many left to think less of you. Your former colleagues won't."

"I'm sorry to disappoint, but there's still work to be done, and miles to go, before that sleep," he replied, "Besides, I don't think you've been completely honest about the Conversion process."

"What?" She jumped back.

He laughed. "I'm not HLF," he assured her, "While I am military, I don't hate you ponies. I just think you have such a poor grasp of humans, which is why you can't even see what they lose when they undergo Conversion."

"What do you mean?" Twilight asked.

"Have you ever had a discussion with one of the Newfoals, after they calm down post-Conversion?"

"I know they're happy," the unicorn replied.

"But that's all they are. Not to be cruel, but they are effectively brain-dead or addlepated, so 'happy' they are of absolutely no use except as brute labor," he replied, not sharply, but she winced. "The first wave of artists who converted, have any produced a painting, sculpture, piece of music, or literature to match what they did as a human?"

"I - don't know," the unicorn admitted.

"You don't know? Then I'd safely say if you haven't encountered it, it hasn't happened. All those creative geniuses, and not even a bad piece of fan-fiction or an Equestrian travelogue out of all of them." He glanced at his watch. "I'm afraid I'll have to cut this short. I have work to do."

"Can I talk with you as you drive?" she asked, trying a gamine smile, but he was immune.

If I let her in the car, I won't drive as I usually do. I'll drive in 'chauffeur-mode', he thought, then decided, I'd rather have someone to talk to.

"Very well, but with no other cars on the road, I am a bit more reckless than most find comfortable," he said.

"Rainbow Dash tried to drive once. I'm glad for seat belts and air-bags," Twilight replied.

He proceeded to his car, and activated the remote door open.

"Fancy," Twilight said of the car, and the interior. She enjoyed the seats, snuggling into the soft upholstery.

"Considering we have a whole motor pool, I can drive what I wish," he replied and let the security AI verify she wasn't carrying any surprises.

Pulling out of the parking lot required dodging a pack of feral dogs, but no other distractions. He considered asking about their fate in 'New Equestria' but stayed on his original point, "As I was saying, Miss Sparkle."

"Please call me Twilight."

"I'm sorry, Miss Sparkle, as you are an ambassador, this is as informal as I get. The Ponification process takes away the darker human elements. But it doesn't give any corresponding advantages. At least not for living on Earth."

"We have colonies set up on Earth already," she replied, glanced at the speedometer, blanched, and continued looking out the windshield.

"Yes, and how many ponies have died of this planet's myriad natural disasters and treacherous, pegasus-resistant weather, versus the same number who died of all causes in Equestria?" he asked.

"Excuse me?" she replied in confusion.

"Let's take it more simply. In the two years you've had permanent colonies in areas overtaken by the Barrier, how many years of total deaths in Equestria would accumulate the same death toll?" he asked, "That should exclude clashes between ponies and humans. Just deaths by natural conditions."

"Fifty-seven," she answered, "Years."

"And that's with a radically smaller population. When you get your other colonies set up here, you are going to be facing deaths on a scale you aren't prepared for. Do you really think that humans and the other creatures on this planet developed such savagery by happenstance?" he asked, "Or because they were inherently evil?"

"There is some evidence," she said quietly.

"The planet itself is trying to kill them. Only those able and willing to fight back survived," he corrected, "With everything being tested the same way, everything got tougher, and more savage. Or they died. More species have died on this planet, before humans arose, than have existed during or after humanity's rise. Two-hundred and fifty million years ago, the Siberian Traps erupted. For a million years these eruptions continued, destroying 90% of all species on the planet. It took about thirty million years to recover from those eruptions. Humans didn't arrive on the scene for over two-hundred and forty million years. The volcanic eruption in prehistoric times may have nearly exterminated the human race. That's not counting earthquakes, forest fires and hurricanes. You ponies are used to the staid and domesticated Equestria, this planet will buck you off and stomp on you out of pique. You and your people are going to find taking this planet, and holding it are two entirely separate undertakings. I don't think you and your people are up to the latter. The Newfoals certainly aren't."

"You act like we're invaders," she complained.

"Believe me, if we thought you were invaders or learned later you were, you would have been greeted very differently. Your ponies have never lacked human help in any endeavor on this side of the Barrier. You came, offering friendship, and we needed a friend. But you aren't the saviors you want to believe yourselves to be."

"But human pollution, and the legacy of wars and strife?" Twilight asked.

"The first would have soon been brought under control. Take a look back at the western nations of the 1930's 40's and 50's and China of the 2000's for real pollution. Coal ash everywhere, horse manure on the streets, and the occasional dead horse. They started cleaning things up as soon as they got affluent enough to value a clean living space instead of just getting the resources to survive. With the advent of the AIs, suddenly no one had to work. You arrived in the social upheaval that came from the paradigm shift of having to work to survive, to having to work just to occupy your time. Thousands were already working on conservation plans. In ten years, it would have been in full swing. You just gave them a way to arrive there without waiting, or thinking about the problems."

They rode in silence for a while. "Speaking of conservation," he said, "Are you ready for the resurgent wildlife? Humans didn't take the title of top predator away from dogs until the advent of firearms, which ponies universally eschew. There were still instances of wolf packs attacking armed soldiers into this century. Imagine, a place where a pack of animals could threaten a soldier with an automatic weapon. Your ponies are going to be facing that when they take full possession."

"I hadn't considered that," she admitted, trying to curl up in the seat as if to avoid these unpleasant realities. "But what does that have to do with you refusing Conversion?"

"I don't want to be a pony," he said flatly. "You aren't prepared to live on this world, and I don't want to try knowing I'll fail. Besides, eventually your people are going to want to safely colonize this planet. They're going to have to do it, as humans."

Twilight stared. "You think Equestrians will willingly become Human?"

"Certainly. With all there will be to learn, and discover? With all the open lands to set a plow to, and the adventure of being another species? There'll be plenty of ponies who'll want to take a Humanification treatment and become human. By then they'll also have made the connections that you ponies aren't as magnanimous as you claim. After all, you're leaving behind a huge number of sentient, even sapient beings."

"We offered Conversion to anyone and everyone who would take it," Twilight said.

"Not everyone, just every human," Kenny said as he pulled into the huge underground garage under the institute. "What about the AIs? The machines that humanity created to run their factories, their power plants, the ones who looked after everyone, ponies and humans, when your arrival and conversions began throwing society into chaos? They have by and large, stood ready, doing their duty until the end. Until the Barrier claimed them. Your people don't even understand their sacrifice. Many of the largest were as aware and self-aware as any pony, yet they knew you would be destroying them, without the salve of Conversion. Rather disingenuous to claim to be saving 'everypony' when you were patently ignoring the very 'people' who made your operations possible."

"But they are machines aren't they?" Twilight asked miserably, "Not able to think, like humans or ponies, right?"

"Do you honestly think the Bureaus would have continued to receive power, garbage pickups, mail delivery, and even police protection without the AIs tacit approval of your mission? Or without their loyalty to their creators?"

"They are machines, programmed to operate that way," the unicorn countered as Kenny pulled into the car's parking space.

"Not really. As I said, you don't really understand them. Do Equestrian cows get to vote? They are as intelligent as ponies," Kenny commented as he unlocked the car and got out.

As he opened the door on her side to help Twilight with the safety belts, he asked, "Or does Princess Celestia simply assign all your leaders?"

"She assigns most of them," Twilight said.

"That's the other reason I prefer not to become a pony. No Newfoal would be able to scrape together the mental horsepower to debate the rights of self-determination and sentience like we are. A very good reason not to 'go pony', you're one of Equestria's brightest intellects, and you haven't considered these questions. I've debated the question of loyalty and service, and the all-important question of the rights and responsibilities of 'personhood' with some of the most brilliant scientists and AIs that exist, have existed. The brightest light of Equestria is totally lost on the same subject. I'll hazard to say that humanity's mechanical children are a bit higher up the intellectual food chain than Celestia's best and brightest."

"I haven't studied the texts," Twilight said.

"Not a good showing on your part, Miss Sparkle," he said, "Giving up what I am, to join you, when I won't be able to think thoughts as deep and broad as I can now. Like I said, you've been disingenuous about the conversion process. Although maybe not intentionally."

"That makes it worse," Twilight said as she trotted along, "So, you're claiming that if you were 'ponified', that you'd effectively die anyway. So you aren't willing to undergo conversion."

"That, and I still have work to do. Up there, above us," Kenny said, "There's been a war going on while you've been so carefully disguising and evacuating the human race to safety. The Ciferybi arrived about six-years before your people did. They intended to strip mine the planet, and consume the organic resources, us and every other living thing. The first battle humanity fought against an alien species. We defeated their constructor fleet. But they sent a message. We'd next face a battlefleet. The second battle was six-months after your arrival. Out near Io and near the orbit of Mars. Your Conversion Bureaus kept everyone's eyes on Earth, while a small handful of human warriors and their machines fought off the invaders in a game of ambush and counter-ambush that lasted the better part of a year. The survivors, and many reinforcements are up there, on the Moon, on Mars, and other places, preparing for the next wave."

"So, you're going to join them?" Twilight asked hopefully.

"No, the battles were too much for me, and someone has to ensure the combined knowledge, art, literature, music, culture and history of Earth survives out of the Barrier's reach. The Children of Earth, descendants of her birthing, or converts from Equestria, will eventually want it back. And it will be waiting for them, on the Moon and elsewhere. Along with the planet's defenders. Even if it takes a millennium, we will be waiting." He said as they walked out of the garage and into a long, underground hallway.

"How will they survive?" Twilight asked as they entered the metal-roofed corridor, "Humans don't have that kind of lifespan, and wouldn't breeding require a large population and resources?"

"They have them," he told her, "Some of your ponies were let in on the real story, at first they were properly horrified, then they saw the truth of this new world, and their help has been invaluable. Lyra Heartstrings would have a closetful of medals if they could have been brought through the Barrier." He let Twilight be surprised, then added, "And Princess Luna."

Twilight gasped.

Kenny had more. "You've seen the little neck piece they and a few others wear. The heavy cord tipped with aglets running through a neck clasp. It's a bit of an in-joke, but maybe her Highness will share. She walked four worlds in this system, Earth, the Moon, Mars and Io. And when the enemy broke us, and killed our battlefield commander, she managed to turn our route into a counterattack on par with 'Manstein's Miracle'. In the end, she realized what we'd have to do, and kept the truth from the rest of you. You wouldn't understand." He walked out of the corridor into a huge, underground bay. Several people nearly identical to him moved boxes or worked equipment, a few more were visible in the office, running scanners and operating computers.

"Then explain it to me!" Twilight shouted, "How can a human, a whole group of humans, be so ready to die for his people, and Equestria, yet not want to be part of what he was trying to save?"

Kenny smiled and pointed back towards the corridor they'd just walked through. Twilight's eyes widened as she caught details. The battle damage, of entire sections scooped out by fire, of the large machine she'd just walked under thinking the space between the track assemblies was a corridor. And the letters, as tall as she was painted on the war hull. KNY.

"Now really, Miss Sparkle, I hardly think I and my drones would fit," the huge machine told the stunned mare with a chuckle.

Crossover of MLP - Conversion Bureau by Blaze
and The Bolo Series by Keith Laumer

Author's Notes:

Bonus points for people who guess what the ties Luna and Lyra wear are called.

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