Bluebird Grows Up

- by Xaltatun of Acheron

Author's note: 

This work is copyright 2000 by Xaltatun of Acheron (A Pseudonym). It may be posted on the Internet to any free forum, provided it is not modified in any way, and provided that this notice is included in its entirety. It may not be sold, or included in any compilation that is sold, or posted on any forum that requires a fee for access, without my written permission. My permission will require payment, terms to be negotiated. For purposes of this notice, sites guarded by Adult Check or similar packages are considered pay sites. Posting on any site must include this copyright notice.

Adult Content Warning - this story contains adult themes, including non-consensual bondage/slavery and forced sexual acts. If you are under the lawful age for such materials (18 in most jurisdictions) or if you would find such material offensive, please go elsewhere.

This is one of eight stories in the series entitled "Ponygirl Transformation." I may write others later, but eight is it for now.

Ponygirl Finds Her Place

Kinder and Gentler

The Sorceressí Apprentice

Raw Material

Ponygirl by Choice

The Politics of Ponygirls

Ponygirls on Vacation

Bluebird Grows Up

Acknowledgements. The setting and several of the characters are taken from two works by Sir Thomas (A pseudonym). "Adventures on the Hoof" and "Ponygirls, Inc" are both copyright by the Academy Club. Used by permission of Sir Thomas. These works are both for sale, and should not be available on the net, except for a short excerpt on Sir Jeffís ponygirl web site. They may be ordered in the US from Quality SM, and in the UK from the Academy Club.

The character of the lobo-ra has been changed substantially. This is partially to motivate the biotechnology theme, and partially for other reasons.

The character of Sharon, in the story "The Politics of Ponygirls" was originally modeled after Rhianna Summers, a character created by Leviticus (a pseudonym). She had to be changed because his series took a major turn that rendered the plot in these stories infeasible.

In neither case should you infer anything about the prior stories from this one. The authors named above have substantially different objectives for their stories.

There are a number of hidden references throughout to obscure (and some not so obscure) science fiction and fantasy stories. This is a game that some authors play. Should you care to look, have fun finding them.

Safety Warning. This story may contain descriptions of practices that are decidedly unsafe, either in general, or if performed by someone without adequate training. There are a number of good books available on safety in the BDSM scene. Iím not going to point out which practices are safe, and which arenít. Any practice is unsafe if performed by someone with inadequate training and experience, or if performed when not paying attention. Please think before you act. Donít make yourself a candidate for a Darwin award.

Science Warning. In common with most science fiction authors, if I need it, I invent it. Just because itís described, donít assume it exists. On the other hand, just because youíve never heard of it, donít assume it doesnít. There are only two universal laws. If you believe in a limitation, itís yours. Yesterdayís impossibility is todayís research news, and tomorrowís consumer product.

OK Ė now on to the story -------

 

What has gone before:

Leo Frankel has become managing director of the Arizona Community. He has two girlfriends from outside kidnapped, and trained as ponygirls named Rainbow and Bluebird. His wife Stephanie dies, and he makes Rainbow and Bluebird his part-time maid and mistress. Bluebird is sleeping with him the night the community is damaged by an earthquake. She is awarded a community membership for taking decisive action to avert a catastrophe in the Executive Residential Block.

She discovers that moving from being a ponygirl cum bondage maid cum mistress to being a member of the community is more of a stretch than she can manage, especially since she has to leave her friend, Rainbow, behind. She takes a rain check on the membership, and rejoins Leoís ponygirl herd.

After a number of years, the rules are changed to allow the ponygirls more freedom, including days off and vacations. In return, they have to make a complete commitment to the community lifestyle, and their part in it. Rainbow decides to make the commitment, and Bluebird decides to cash in her rain check on the community membership.

Chapter 1. The price of failure.

Bluebird was in deep shit. You wouldnít have known it to look at her. She was having dinner with Leo, his wife Alice, and their lobo-ra foster daughter, Stephanie. Rainbow was serving.

Rainbow was dressed in a kinky version of a cocktail waitressí uniform. Her black leather skirt came to mid thigh, and was covered with a white apron. She had on mesh stockings, and boots with five-inch heels. The boots came up to mid calf. The top was a frilly white blouse that was completely open in front; letting her breasts hang free. A quarter bra under the blouse supported them. She had bells hanging on her breast rings, and bells hanging off of the hole in the ID medallion in each ear.

Her head was encased in what looked like a bridle and ball gag. Actually, it was a ring gag; the ball was simply a stopper that came out with a quarter turn. It would dangle on a short chain that came from the center of the stopper to a ring at the side of the bridle.

She was doing high style serving; the food was kept on the sideboard until it was ready to be served onto one of the dinerís plates.

Bluebird knew something was up. Alice didnít normally have her servers wear the gag and bridle part of the outfit, except for practice. Also, the ring gag was unusual; she had them wear a normal ball gag when they served at Board meetings. That level of bondage didnít turn her on.

Bluebird finally decided to bite the bullet. "Sir, Iíve screwed up. I donít deserve the community membership. And Iím afraid Iíve screwed up Rainbow as well."

Leo responded, "Yes, you have. Why did you wait to discuss it?"

With a shudder, "I knew if I asked for another rain check, Joanne would chair me." All of the ponies had spent time in the sleep deprivation chair, and most of the female trainers as well. They had good reason to fear it.

"For two days, I would think."

"But if I tried to avoid it, it would only get worse."

"It sure would. If you hadnít brought it up, you would have gone from here straight to the chair in your old cell. Itís still available. Probably for three days."

"And it would probably be the best solution for you. But Iíve got other problems, so Iím going to offer you an option. Itís utterly cruel. But it gives you a chance to clean up the mess. Tell me why Iím doing this."

Bluebird thought for a moment. "Oh, politics. If I fail now, the reactionaries will have a field day."

"Exactly. I will do anything to help you succeed. Except prop up a cardboard cutout."

"Your problem is that you havenít made the commitment to the community. Commitments come in all sizes. For you, the commitment has to be to what we do here. That is, train girls to be ponies. You have to commit to do what it takes to help any girl in your charge to be the best pony she can possibly be. And that commitment means that you cannot make exceptions."

"You were letting Rainbow avoid dealing with the implications of her lifestyle commitment. I know she is your oldest and dearest friend. But she is a pony, and you are a community member. You are responsible for keeping her head pointed in the right direction. If it destroys your friendship, then that is the price you have to pay. I suspect that once you have your head on straight, and she has her head on straight, you will become friends again. But for now, you need to keep your distance."

"You need to have a pony to work with. I believe youíve still got a choice that went with the community membership award?"

"Yes, I do." I thought for a moment. "OK, Leo, Iíll do it."

"Hum. Lets see. Whatís next?" Leo thought for a moment. "Rainbow, some more roast beef." Rainbow picked up the platter of roast beef to carry it over.

"Iím going to give you Rainbow for your pony."

Rainbow jerked to a stop, and dropped the platter. There was a dead silence, punctuated by the whine of a hypersonic prod being turned on, and then off. It suddenly became very clear to me that the only thing that was going to shut up the reactionaries was for me to turn Rainbow around. Nothing less was going to do it.

"Thank you, Leo. I accept."

I turned and said, "Rainbow, clean up the mess."

Rainbow just stood there, frozen.

I said, "Steph."

Stephanie vaulted across the table, her prod out. She ran it up Rainbowís thigh. Rainbow arched her back and screamed into her gag. Then she shuddered. Stephanie started petting her, gentling her back down. But all she said was, "You balked. You know the penalty for that."

Rainbow quieted down, went to the kitchen and returned with a mop and bucket. Stephanie returned to her chair.

"Leo, with Rainbow gone; I need some more help around here."

"I know. We have Bluebirdís pick."

"Yes, but a new pony wonít be ready for maid service for a while. We need to start her out right."

"Honey, do you remember Jobeth?"

"You mean the most popular girl in the last twenty years? Didnít she go into the trainee program a few months ago?"

"Yes, and she fast tracked. One intelligent kid. Weíre having a major problem finding someone to take her for the rest of her pony experience. Everyone eligible knows her, and likes her too much to maintain the necessary detachment."

"And you want us to take her. OK, I can handle it. And since sheís a community trainee, I can get her started as a maid right away."

I had been thinking. "Leo, I think itís best if I have Rainbow make a clean break. But I donít have anything arranged yet. Could I borrow a cell in your block tonight, until I can arrange one in the main dome?"

"I can do better than that. Iíve already arranged for a cell and a training team for Rainbow in the main dome. This was the outcome I wanted, so I set up the contingencies."

"Thanks again." I noticed that everyone was finished. "Rainbow, clear the table and then serve desert." Rainbow began to remove the plates from the main course.

"Dear, Iíve got a request from Horst that you might want to handle. His daughter has finished her six months, and he wants her to spend the rest of her trainee period out of his community. Could we take her?"

"Can she speak English?"

"No, thatís one of the reasons he wants her out of the dome. She refused to learn. She only speaks German. He thinks a year and a half where she canít communicate may just teach her something."

"Well, we certainly canít do anything with her except race and show her."

"He thinks thatís more than adequate."

"OK, tell Horst to send her over in the next shipment. Weíll take delivery."

We had finished up the desert. "Rainbow, clean up and then come back here." Rainbow began cleaning up the dishes.

We discussed a number of matters, including my finances, which werenít that steady.

"Bluebird, honey, I told you earlier that I canít afford to have you fail. Iíll subsidize you until you get an occupation going. Could I suggest you enroll at the pony-training academy? As an ex-pony, youíve already done way more than the two years we ask of the trainees. And it goes along with your commitment."

"How can I ever repay you?"

"Iíll think of something." I knew Leo. He would. Heíd mellowed enough that I might even like it.

Rainbow had returned, and was standing by the empty sideboard.

"Leo, could I offer you Rainbow for your pleasure?"

"Certainly." He unzipped his pants. Rainbow came over and knelt before him. He unscrewed the cap on her ring gag, and let it dangle on its chain. She took him in her mouth, and began to suck.

"Alice, Iíd like to do you one last time."

She smiled, pulled her chair away from the table and spread her legs. I knelt between them and began tasting her. Soon they were both moaning in pleasure.

Stephanie left the table with a snort. Big people sexual displays. As far as she was concerned, conception in a test tube and a big people host mother were a perfectly adequate racial continuation strategy. If she was going to get two ponies moved tonight, she needed to make some plans.

Eventually, we came back down and came up for air. I took Rainbow into the other room, and changed her back into her harness and saddle. Leo tossed me a remote, so I swiped the bar code on the antenna nestled between her ass cheeks. Stephanie had brought up her tack and other gear in saddlebags, which we attached to her saddle.

I hugged Leo and Alice. The going away kisses suggested that we keep in touch. I left, with Stephanie beside me, riding the pony that had been my best friend.

Some days life is a bitch. I hoped this one could be taught to heel.

Chapter 2. New Beginnings.

It took us about twenty minutes to get to her cell in the main dome. Stephanie had called ahead, so a couple of the guys from the team that would be caring for her were on hand. The unsaddled her, unharnessed her and started to put her down for the night.

As soon as they removed the bridle and ring gag she rebelled and started to curse me. They hit her with a level two prod. She screamed. They quieted her down.

I caught her eye. "Two days for rebellion. And your next meal will be slop for talking out of turn." They took her to the chair, started to tie her into it.

I went into the room with them. "I donít think itís a good idea for you to be here."

"I couldnít agree more. Unfortunately, I have to be. She was my best friend for more than twenty years. Long before we were kidnapped and brought here as ponies." He started a bit. "Iím responsible for the lack of discipline that led her to rebel tonight. For both our sakes, I have to establish right from the start that I will do whatever it takes to keep both of us on the right track.

"Iíd love nothing more than not having to see the chair reduce her to a quivering pulp. But I canít avoid it. In fact, Iím going to feed her sometimes. This is as much for me as for her."

They finished tying her to the chair. When they were done, her arms and legs had about an inch of movement. It was just enough to keep circulation going, not enough to keep them flexible. By the end of two days, the cramping would be excruciating.

There was a support for her back. The chair itself was actually a toilet; she would not have to be moved during the entire time she was on it.

Her head rested, if that was the word, against a small pad. There was a pair of straps attached to her bridle. They had about an inch of slack. If she moved her head enough to pull on them, a prod would shock her in the belly. The shock would be less than a level one prod, but it would keep her awake.

"I see. Thatís a tough one, all right."

I punched in the time. 48:00. Then I threw the arming switch. Iíd seen it done enough times while I was in the chair.

I poked my head out of the room. "Steph, how long has it been since sheís been fed?"

"About six hours. Sheís due for one."

So I had them show me how to mount the funnel. "I would think you would know."

"Well, I never cared. They mounted it; I sucked it down. They took it away. In over ten years, I never cared enough to look at it. If Iíd been a community trainee, I might have studied it. Then again, I might not have, since I knew it would be covered in class. I knew Iíd never need to know how to do it."

So he showed me. I put an ounce of slop in the funnel and waited a little bit for her to suck it down. She didnít. So I used the screw to force it into her mouth.

Normal pony food is called mash. Itís a carefully compounded blend of things that will keep the active pony healthy for years. It even tastes good. They vary the taste, but it does get boring when itís the only thing you eat. I shouldnít say boring; it just makes the entire eating process blend into the background.

Slop is just mash that tastes bad. Very bad. And the taste lingers. It wonít go away with water or saliva. The only thing that will get rid of the taste is mash. Itís the standard punishment for a pony talking out of turn. For sale ponies, talking is always out of turn. For community owned ponies, talking is allowed during grooming, and thatís it. Some owners relax the rules a bit more.

I had hoped that she would suck the slop down. It would have shown at least some acceptance of the idea that she had violated the rules, and that she accepted them. No such luck.

I waited a couple of minutes, and then poured eight ounces of mash into the funnel. We left the room and put the panel up. One of the night staff would come by in about fifteen minutes, remove the funnel, and put her headrest back.

Stephanie had already gone to move Blue Waters from the training block to Rainbowís old cell in Leoís private cellblock. She would be moved with her blinders closed; she wouldnít know where she had been moved until she was groomed in the morning.

The next morning I came down to meet the training team that would handle Rainbow. It was the usual six person team. Two women, three men and one lobo-ra. As was usual, the team leader was one of the women. Even though the community as a whole was aggressively male dominant, men ran the training teams only when the senior woman on the team lacked the seniority and experience. The lobo-ra, of course, was outside of the chain of command. They were responsible for ten ponies. For the first time, I wondered about the men. Three men to keep ten athletic females well screwed seemed rather few. They must be feeding them super cow. With hormones.

Pearl was a 5í7" brunette dressed in the standard semi-military uniform of the trainers. She wore a black leather tunic, with the hem coming to mid-thigh. Knee length black boots with a five-inch heel. Whip, prod, phone and remote at her waist. Pouches for other things. Epaulets on her shoulders. The tunic was low cut in front; it showed plenty of cleavage.

I explained what I needed, and why. It took some explaining, she hadnít really considered my situation. I was the second pony to be offered full community membership under the old rules; there were only three. The entire commitment thing was a more recent development. Eventually, we reached an understanding.

"Youíre going to be needing daily contact."

"Iíve been thinking about that. I want her trained for heavy sulky. That will let me be the driver. It will put both of us right where we need to be."

Heavy sulky has a competition weight limit of 150 pounds. Iím a lot lighter than that. Thereís no effective weight limit if you are not competing, but thereís not much point, either. A cart is a lot more convenient. Itís the only racing style that we can participate in. Riding and light sulky have 50 pound weight limits; that limits them to lobo-ra. Solo doesnít have either a rider or a driver. Itís just beginning to catch on with owners that have racing ponies that have made their commitment to the community lifestyle. Ponies without that commitment are simply not eligible.

Unlike regular horse racing, form counts for a lot. Depending on the style, there can be up to thirty form points, distributed between start, running and finish, and split between pony and rider or driver. The difference between the judgesí award and perfect form is added to the finish time in seconds to get the final result.

It was absolutely ideal for what I needed to do. The lobo-ra I worked with would be training me in driving, and also in how to train my pony. I would be training Rainbow.

She smiled. "Thatís one tall order. You know we canít measure up to the lobo-ra as trainers."

"Of course. But I donít need their depth. The eye for detail, and the relentless drive to shape the trainee into some semblance of perfection will do. This is for me and for her. Winning at competition will be icing on the cake. If it turns out that we actually have a shot at winning in competition, I can get a lobo-ra trainer for the final polish."

Pearl looked at Janet, her teamís lobo-ra. Janet grinned. "This will be fun. Training one of you to do something besides be a pony."

More seriously. "I take it youíve never driven a pony before, either in a sulky or a cart."

"True. I havenít."

"Weíll start you out in a cart, then. With one of the other ponies, not Rainbow. You wonít work with Rainbow until youíre ready to harness her to the sulky. And she wonít work on the sulky until then. You will be her only heavy sulky driver, that way she wonít have any chance to compare you with anyone else."

"Got it. How long?"

"Three to six weeks, depending on how hard you work at it."

"Should I be neglecting Rainbow that long?"

"No. You should show up for grooming. Some feedings. It might be good to put her down a couple of nights."

Corn Tassel was two cells down. Normally, a training team had all of their ponies in adjacent cells; it was more efficient. It also meant that if a pony was on her display stand, she had a good chance of seeing members of her training team working with some of the other ponies. It let the ponies become familiar with them, but still maintained the necessary distance.

The main dome cells were arranged in tens, for just this reason. There was an equipment room between each group of five cells on each side. A pony on her stand could see into three of the cells opposite if she was in a center cell, only two cells if she was on an end cell. Rainbow was in a center cell, Corn Tassel was in an end cell on the same side. They couldnít see each other.

It turned out that one of the reasons for selecting Corn Tassel was that her owner had been neglecting her. He had gotten her for his daughter. She had developed a case of boy fever.

Corn Tassel was a striking 5í8" blond with corn silk hair. Her harness was basic black; if she were mine, I would change that immediately. She deserved a harness that would show her off. She was mounted on her display stand. The puppy paws and upturned face with the red ball gag were almost too cute to believe.

"Is she allowed to talk?"

"Yes, she finished up her commitment a couple of weeks ago. But I suggest that you donít do it. You need to maintain your detachment. Weíll just take her out today, and let her know you are not her new owner when we groom her tomorrow. That works out best."

Janet had reserved an arena and a cart. Unlike saddles, carts were generic. They werenít part of the ponyís personal equipment.

Corn Tassel was secured on her stand only by the bolt holding the headrest. They hadnít secured her ankles to the back of the stand. This was becoming typical for ponies that had made their commitment. The added security was unnecessary.

Janet reached up and removed the bolt and the headrest. She handed me a set of reins; I clipped them to Corn Tasselís bridle. Then Janet said "Up."

Corn Tassel brought one hoof forward until the hoof was under her body, where her knee had rested a moment before. Then she brought the other hoof forward. She was now squatting. Then she rose vertically as Janet guided the rings from the back of her bustier up the pole.

Janet flipped the reins to the back, and marched Corn Tassel out the cell door and down the corridor.

It had been years since I had been in one of the training arenas. In fact, I hadnít been in one since my initial training, over a decade ago. After that, Iíd been worked in Leoís private arena.

This arena was a long room, divided into ten roughly square areas, each about 30 yards by 30 yards. Low walls divided them, about three feet high. There was a registration area at the door, and a walkway down the back. The arenas were sunken a bit from the walkway. Bleacher stands were scattered along the walkway, so that spectators could watch without getting into the action. Other paraphernalia was scattered along the back of the walkway.

We checked in and got our assignment. It was about half way down. Janet marched Corn Tassel down to our spot; we waited for the current activity to end. She flipped the reins around a convenient post. Corn Tassel dropped to one knee ten heartbeats later.

The current occupants were doing riding practice. The lobo-ra was training her mount in precision movement; her blinders were closed so that she couldnít see. This was safe in the arena and in the corridors; the floors were level and kept free of obstructions. It wouldnít have been safe anywhere else. The pony had to react only to voice, reins and weight shifts. Their performance was close to flawless. I only saw her get buzzed once to correct a movement.

Eventually, the lobo-ra trotted her pony up the ramp to the walkway.

"Hey, Janet. Introduce me to Cornyís new owner."

"Hi, Lena. This is Bluebird. Weíve got her pony in our section. Rainbowís in the chair, weíre just borrowing Corny to train Bluebird on cart work."

"Pleased to meetcha. Werenít you one of Leoís herd?"

"Sure was, Lena."

"So now you own Rainbow. How times change. See you later, Janet." Lena trotted her pony down the walkway.

Janet showed me how to hitch my pony to the cart. Iíd been hitched to a cart most days for the last decade; I had never bothered to notice exactly how it was done. There were four straps, called traces, two on each side. Two came from the back and attached to the front of the waistband. The other two came from the front, and attached to the back. They had to be adjusted so that there was no slack, the pony became one with the cart.

Janet showed me where the cart wand was kept. I swiped it along the antenna nestled between Cornyís ass cheeks. That linked the buzzer button on the cart to her anal probe. We had to do this for the carts because they werenít part of a ponyís gear; they were community property. Corny was number six on my remote; Rainbow was number two. My remote was programmed the same as the training teamís. They were all hooked together on the internal net; the anal probes were programmed into them when they were inserted during grooming. The saddles were part of a ponyís tack; they were programmed from the net. The only reason I had a remote at all was that Iíd be working closely with Rainbow; most owners didnít get one.

Carts had four wheels so balance wasnít too important. We got in. Janet surprised me by putting me in the driverís seat right away. I managed to get Corny across the walkway and down the ramp without a mishap. Then I relaxed. Big mistake.

The first I knew about it was when I heard the whine of a hypersonic prod, followed immediately by a pain on my thigh. I yelped. That thing hurt. It was supposed to.

Janet snarled, "Pay attention, Bluebird." My pony reflexes took over. I focused on what I was doing, and kept moving. I had this awful suspicion that if I stopped to ask her about it, she would interpret it as a balk. I had no intention of making a spectacle of myself by taking a level two shock.

Corny was gentle and well trained. I got the distinct impression after a while that she appreciated having Janet instructing her driver. I expect that the ownerís daughter was fairly sloppy in her rein work.

We spent the hour on basic commands. I knew fairly well what a cart pony was supposed to do with each of the commands, but I had to learn them from the other end of the reins.

When our hour was up, Janet had me drive her back up the ramp, unhitch her, and march her back to her cell. I put her on her stand, mounted the funnel, and fed her.

That was just starters. The next two weeks were a real eye opener. Cornyís form had deteriorated badly. The daughter didnít care, and she hadnít been exercised by a lobo-ra for some time. The training team had intended to start retraining shortly; having me dropped on them was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

The next day, we started on more complicated maneuvers. Janet also started training me on seeing form, and seeing flaws in it. I had to do a running commentary, in a sufficiently low voice that Corny couldnít make anything out of it. The first couple of times I would miss a particular flaw, she would point it out to me. The third time, I got hit with the prod. Needless to say, my appreciation of good form improved rapidly.

On the third day, she showed me how to use the buzzer properly. There was a trick to it that wasnít at all obvious. It all depended on spotting the very beginning of a poor maneuver. You wanted the buzzer to go off in the middle of the mistake, not some time after it. I never got as good as a lobo-ra on that; they were smaller so they had a shorter path length between eye and finger. My appreciation of form improved radically with that exercise. Its one thing to spot the obvious flaw; its quite another to see the subtle imbalance or mispositioning that preceded it, and made it inevitable.

By the end of the week, I was beginning to see Corn Tasselís movements less as isolated actions and more as a continuous flow, one into the next. So the next week, Janet started me on direct correction. We didnít do this with the cart. We did it back in her cell. Janet would point out a particular obvious flaw, and we would discuss it. Then Janet would tell Corny exactly what to do. She repeated the movement forward, backward, fast, slow, stop in the middle and reverse. Stop in the middle was to insure that Corny was in correct balance at all times, and wasnít using another muscle group to compensate. Janet would correct the movement incessantly. Sometimes one of these sessions would take an hour or more, and would leave Corny sweating and shaking. They were enormously effective.

She sometimes mixed it up by not telling Corny anything. She would shape the movement with the folded up whip and her hands, all the while speaking gentle, soothing phrases that had nothing to do with the movement. These corrections were even more effective; since Corny didnít know what they were, she didnít have a chance to let her head get in the way. The only real problem with them was that Janet was just too short. She couldnít work anything above Cornyís hips that way.

She started having me do the correction routines. Including the nonverbal ones above the hips. In a few weeks, she had me doing all of them nonverbally. Corn Tassel was responding splendidly.

We spent about three weeks on the cart. At the same time, she had me spending sessions just watching various ponies and drivers using the heavy sulky. I had to give her precise descriptions of what I had observed afterwards. And I was spending a fair amount of free time studying basic anatomy and physiology, with emphasis on muscle groups, attachment points and leverage.

On the fourth week, we started training Corny on the heavy sulky.

Meanwhile, I hadnít been neglecting Rainbow. I had fed her several times while she was in her chair. At first, she looked daggers at me. Toward the end, she seemed to appreciate that I was spending time with her when I fed her. I was there at the end of her 48 hours, and helped put her down on her pad for the night. I was there the next morning, and did her grooming, harnessed her, put her on her display stand and fed her.

That first grooming was critical. I told her that she was grounded. She had failed her commitment. I would accept partial blame, but she was the one that had failed. She was back under the standard speech restrictions. She responded to that by tapping her foot twice, the standard signal for yes. Then I had to explain that talking during grooming was a right that I couldnít take away except as a punishment, and then only for a short time. She relaxed a bit after that.

She relaxed even more when I told her that she would be allowed to repeat her commitment later; this time, I was committed myself to see that she did not fail. Meanwhile, she would be back to sleeping in a full hogtie. We wouldnít bother with the old method of lifting her on and off of the display stand, or of locking her ankles down, but the other little luxuries the ponies enjoyed when they committed to their part in our lifestyle were gone for the duration.

Three weeks later, she rebelled again. This time, I chaired her for three days. It settled her for only two weeks. I decided to have a talk with her before it came to outright rebellion.

"But why arenít you allowing me to redo my commitment?" she said petulantly.

"Honey, you havenít given us any reason to think youíd succeed. Very much the opposite. You were at the board meeting when we decided on the commitment thing. We thought it was a simple decision at first. We learned it took a while to sink from here", I touched her head, "To here and here." I touched her breast and her stomach. "It took Thunder and Lightning eight weeks before they were solid."

"At first, we opened it to all the ponies. Now, we are only allowing it when we think they are ready. Itís a team decision. I canít order it, and I canít stop it if the rest of the team thinks you are ready. Being chaired twice in three weeks isnít a real good sign."

I watched the expressions chase across her face. The last few weeks with Janet had given me tremendous depth in reading people. She finally settled on thoughtfulness.

"Thatís it, kid. Think it through and try to correct your attitude." I didnít need to chair her again. In less than a month, the entire team agreed that she was ready. She practically fell over when they gave her street clothes one day after grooming instead of putting her in harness.

I stayed away from her on her days off for the entire time she was going though the commitment adjustments. Pearl accompanied her the first day. It wasnít strictly necessary since she was already familiar with the main dome, but it was still a thoughtful thing to do. It strengthened the resolve to come back and not bolt. After that, she was on her own. It took her close to two months before she made the final adjustment and stabilized. That was about average; it was a major emotional leap to let go of the dream of being rescued.

Heavy sulky is an interesting style. Thereís a lot more weight on the pony and itís not as maneuverable. In fact, we use a special harness that allows us to focus the weight on the shoulders rather than the waist, as in light sulky and cart work. Balance is very important. And the rein setup is different from either riding or cart, although itís the same as light sulky. Unlike riding, you donít have weight shifts as a signal, and unlike cart, you canít rely on voice commands; itís too noisy during a race, and the driver is too far back.

We had the typical reins attached to the bit, but they went through rings on the harness instead of being free standing. This insured that they didnít go side to side, but only pulled back with varying amounts of force. The reins could be used to signal turn, slow down or stop. There wasnít any good way to make them signal, "go faster." For that, we used the whip.

At the beginning, I had a real aversion to using the whip. To me, a whip meant pain, and I didnít want to cause my pony any unnecessary pain. Janet wouldnít put up with that attitude.

The standard whip strokes arenít supposed to really hurt at all. They should be just strong enough that the pony registers them, and reacts the way she has been trained. They shouldnít leave a mark. This takes a lot of practice. On top of everything else. Iím afraid I left Corn Tassel with more bruises than strictly necessary. I spent a lot of time rubbing her down and making with the ointment until I learned the necessary touch.

Balance was critical. Even with the shoulder harness, you didnít want to focus more weight on the pony than necessary. Ponygirls are not ponies; one ponygirlpower is a lot less than one horsepower.

We did the same lessons with the heavy sulky that we did with the cart, except that I now knew much more about my pony, and about training in general. The maneuvers were similar. What was different was that the sulky was a little shorter than the cart; so it had a different turning radius, and a completely different feel.

On a cart, we only went from a walk to a trot. With the sulky, we also did a canter and a full gallop. Thirty yards was barely enough to get up to some semblance of speed before we had to slow down. We moved speed training to one of the training tracks.

The training track was on the other side of the arenas. It was three hundred yards long on the straightaway, with small turning circles at the ends. We could get up to a gallop with ease. The length was actually more than the regular track straightaway.

It took three weeks before Janet was happy with my performance with Corn Tassel. Then I was allowed to take Rainbow out for her first session. This was shortly after Rainbow had finally decided to be serious about the lifestyle commitment.

Janet was adamant that I not tell Rainbow in advance what I was doing. In fact, she was adamant that I not tell Rainbow anything. She wanted to see if I could train her non-verbally. We started that way. Rainbow was one surprised pony when we marched her into an arena and hitched her to a heavy sulky. We started out with cart commands through the reins. We did whip training in the trotting booth. By this time, she was very used to the trotting booth having her shift paces in the middle of the activity. What I hadnít known is that it had the ability to use the whip signals. We turned it on, and then when I began to use them, it just worked.

By the time Rainbow had finished her lifestyle commitment, I had been working her for eight weeks, and I had been working Corn Tassel for about fifteen. Close to four months had gone by.

Then Leo called. He wanted us up for dinner after working out. Rainbow was to come in girl mode. He also invited Janet.

Leo had a fair number of people for dinner. He and his wife, Alice. His daughter, Cindy. Rainbow and me. His lobo-ra, Stephanie, and Janet. Blue Waters and Spring Flowers were two of his ponies serving as maids. They were dressed in Aliceís standard kinky cocktail waitress uniform. This time, they had a light chain between the rings in their breasts, and they had chimes both in their ears and on their breast rings. The random tones as they moved were very pretty. They werenít gagged, which was more usual for Alice. Something else was different, but I was having trouble identifying it.

It was a quite pleasant dinner, in contrast to the last one. He congratulated Rainbow, who simpered nicely. She deserved it. We discussed the heavy sulky, and how Rainbow was reacting to being trained entirely non-verbally. It turned out that she really liked it, which surprised me. As she put it, it let her get her head out of the way, and just enjoy the experience of being driven around the arena or the track. It let her feel more like a real pony. I had wondered why she glowed so much after our practice sessions.

He congratulated me on my progress. Heíd been keeping track, and my handling of Corn Tassel impressed him. Also my handling of Rainbow, of course. The two maids served with musical efficiency. The only sour note was Cindy. She had just turned eighteen, and was waiting for one of the internal acquisition squads to ambush her in some dark corridor so she could begin her two years as a ponygirl. The wait was getting to her.

I whispered to Alice, "Is the setup done? Can I tell her the alternatives?"

She frowned a moment, and then said, "Go ahead."

"Cindy, there are a couple of alternatives to waiting around for the snatch squad."

She looked startled. "Oh?"

"Well, just remember that the core of the experience is being trained and living as a ponygirl. How you get there is less important. Even with a snatch and spending time in a box breathing sleepy gas, you wonít have the same experience that our girls have. You know about orientation. You know that your first session in the chair is going to leave you a highly suggestible wreck. They donít. They donít know whatís going to happen until it happens. You know the main outlines. So the only thing that the snatch and box routine is going to do is provide some local color.

"In any case, not all of our girls go through that anyway. Since we quit kidnapping them, and started recruiting through the net, more and more are coming in without having to be crated. They are told where to go. Someone meets them. They sign an indenture form, and then they are bound, gagged and stunned. The operator beats it to a safe distance, and they are brought through. They are on their display stand within about fifteen minutes of signing the indenture."

"You can simply call Orientation Planning and make an appointment. Then you go to orientation and say, "Hi, Iím here." Theyíll pop you onto your stand and process you."

"Or you can ask to be bound, stunned and lead in on a leash. Or stunned and crated. Theyíll do it any of those ways; itís your experience."

Cindy looked thoughtful. Then she got out her cell phone and called Orientation Planning. She looked even more thoughtful. "Two hours? OK, plan on my being there." When she hung up, she had a curious mixture of fear and relief on her face.

She picked at her food for a moment and then said, "To hell with it." She got up, kissed her mom and dad, said "Bye Steph, Bye Blue Waters, Bye Spring Flowers. Bye Rainbow. Bye Bluebird. See you in a couple." And was out the door. Couple meaning years.

Spring Flowers cleared her place.

Leo cleared his throat. On to business, I knew this wasnít a social call.

"Bluebird, Corn Tassel was sold yesterday. They are moving her to her new cell right now. Her new owner is planning on having his daughter race her; he was very impressed with the job you did training her."

"Hey, way to go. She certainly deserves someone who will work her rather than ignoring her."

"How do you feel about not seeing her any more?"

"Sheís a pony, not my life-mate. Iíd like to see what sheís doing occasionally, but it wonít bother me if I donít."

Leo grinned. "Youíve passed your lifestyle commitment ok."

I said, "Huh?" Not very original.

" ĎSheís a ponyí is exactly the reaction you should have. You didnít have that with Rainbow, but it looks like you do now, to some extent."

"So, there are a couple of things you can do for me. First, Iíd like you to take Blue Waters."

"The most popular girl in twenty years? Why? And what will the reactionaries think of me having a community trainee?"

"The reactionaries are not a problem any longer. Corn Tasselís new owner is one of them; as I said, he was quite impressed. In fact, he would like you and Janet to drop by occasionally and see if her form needs any touchup."

"The reason for taking Blue off of my hands is that she needs to be trained and shown. And I donít have the time to do it. Sheís got a lot of potential and deserves to have it developed. And you need the experience as a trainer. Also, it will help your financial situation a bit; a community trainee comes with a stipend for the person serving as owner."

"The other problem is Donner Fraulein. Sheís Horstís daughter, and doesnít speak any English. Weíve been having a huge problem with her because of it. My staff doesnít know how to cope. We donít have much of a problem with the routine; their routine is similar enough to ours that she adapted. But show training is going horribly. Iíd like you to do with her what you did with Rainbow."

Janet piped up, "Youíre ready for it."

"OK, youíve got me. Thatís going to fill up my dance card significantly."

I looked at Rainbow speculatively. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. "Leo, would it be possible for us to swap Rainbow and Donner Fraulein? Or would Horst go ballistic?"

"It would be OK with him. Iím surprised that youíre willing to give up Rainbow."

Rainbow looked shocked. Then she took a deep breath and let it out. She looked relived. "Honey, I have been avoiding asking you to sell me."

I said, "What?" I must have looked like a fish.

"Our relationship has changed totally. I think weíre still friends. But we canít be as close as we were, and still stay in role as trainer and pony. And that relationship has to come first, or itís bad for both of us. I think we can build a new friendship if youíre not my trainer, and Iím not your pony."

"I still have my days off. And I have a vacation coming up, if they ever work out the security details."

Stephanie and Janet were deep in conversation. Steph chipped in, "We can do the transfer tonight. Weíll ride Donner and Blue over there, with their tack in saddlebags. Rainbow will walk in girl mode. Then I can ride Rainbow back with her tack in saddlebags."

Stephanie and Janet left with Blue Waters.

"Alice. Iíve been noticing something. You changed your maidís uniforms. They donít have the built-in quarter bra any more. And you donít seem to be wearing one either, but your breasts look like they did ten years ago. Give. I want it."

"I wondered if youíd notice. The Bolt came up with a gene mod that repairs damage to the connective tissue and cartilage in the breasts. Keeps them looking perky practically forever without a bra. Leo loves what it did to mine. Itís still experimental."

"Experimental, huh. Does this go in both programs?"

"All three, actually. Marketing is already surveying Hollywood to find out what the market will bear. Itís going into our pony improvement program. Itís also going to be available to all of the community women. This place is so male-dominant that the board authorized it without thinking."

"Pony improvement. I take it both of mine have the enhancements."

"Well, of course. We couldnít cut the community trainees out without making them unable to compete on the track. So weíre just making certain that all of the community ponies are kept up to the latest revision level. Also, any community member that is still active as a pony." She had this smug look.

We exchanged looks and grimly amused smiles. There were going to be some very surprised people around here in a few years.

Stephanie and Janet were back in a half hour, with Blue and Donner saddled, the saddlebags hanging from their hips. Donnerís blinders were closed; she wasnít to know where she was going until she got there. Blueís were open, she knew her way around the complex, and knew she was being transferred. Rainbow and I said goodbye to Leo and Alice.

We walked back to the main dome, with my once and possibly future best friend by my side. The one I had just sold back to the man who had originally had her kidnapped and enslaved. We chatted while we walked, and made some tentative plans.

Sometimes life hands you a curve. You just have to know how much to bank to handle it.

Chapter 3. Blue Waters.

In the morning, I got there early enough to groom both Donner and Blue. I did Blue first, since I figured that she would be the easier one to handle. Blue did well until we got to the shower.

"Bluebird, what are you going to train me to do?"

I put a finger to her lips. "Hush, Blue Waters. Ponies donít ask about the future. You should know that."

She pouted.

"Iím going to explain the new rules. We donít do the morning yak sessions here. This is a much more standard environment for a pony. Youíve still allowed talking while youíre being groomed. And you still have your days off; Iím assuming that youíve passed the commitment barrier. But you wonít be doing maid service; Iím keeping you as a pony full time."

She pouted again. This time I hit her with a level one prod right in the middle of the action. She yelped. I simply went on.

"Iím going to keep you as more of a pony than youíve been used to. There wonít be any explanations from here forward. Iím going to make your experience as close to a pony in a foreign environment as possible. Thatís not very; you will still understand people talking around you, and they donít. But I wonít talk to you except during morning grooming."

"And then you will restrict what you say to what a pony who talks would say. Ponies donít know about the future; no questions about it."

She started to look petulant again, but then it changed to something else. And something else again. Eventually, it settled on resigned.

"Donner is two cells down from you. The only time you will see her is when you are being marched or ridden past her cell. Thatís the only time she will see you, also."

The same sequence of expressions crossed her face. I hit her with the prod just as the resignation started. She yelped again, and then stared at me.

"Why are you prodding me?" Her expression settled into interest about what I was going to say. I touched her. I could use that.

"Honey, Iím shaping your behavior."

"Why?" I touched her just as she began to look petulant. Her expression shifted to interest immediately. Bingo.

"You donít need to know why. Ponies donít know why. They just know how. And when."

"Oh." Her expression stayed stable at alert interest.

"Another rule. I expect that youíre well enough trained that you wonít talk out of turn."

"Yes."

"Good. Then we donít need slop as a punishment for something that never happens. Youíve been asking questions about the future, and about why. Ponies donít do that. If you ask those kind of questions again, youíre going to get fed slop."

Her eyes widened. Then she looked thoughtful. Then she shifted back to alert interest. This was a real intelligent pony.

I finished up grooming her, got her harnessed, put her on her stand and got her morning feeding started with eight ounces of mash. No slop, I hadnít explained the rules when she asked the forbidden questions. She settled back, sucking the mash down the funnel through the hole in her ball gag.

Then I went down to work on Donner Fraulein.

Chapter 4. Donner Fraulein.

Donner was a different situation altogether. Her body language screamed several kinds of distress at me as she crawled into the bathroom on all fours. Some of the problems looked emotional, but several of them looked physical. Those I could deal with immediately.

She held the ball in her teeth, and didnít talk all during grooming. Since she didnít know English, nobody had been able to explain the change in the morning routine. I figured that I needed to treat her exactly the reverse of what I was doing with Blue. Donner already knew what it was like to be among people who didnít speak her language, and who she couldnít understand. I needed to get the new rules across to her, and then teach her English.

I crooned to her during her grooming, making absolutely no attempt to make any sense. Except that I said her name a number of times. I noted her reaction to it. Then I began following it with Thunder Girl, which is a reasonable translation of Donner Fraulein. Thunder Miss might have been better, but I wanted girl for a reason.

I started mixing them up, and eventually got the same reaction to Thunder Girl that I had been getting to Donner Fraulein. Enough for one morning. She crawled back to the mat, and lay down spread eagle. I didnít start putting her harness on. Instead, I began a massage. Her muscles were way too tight for just after grooming. And there were cramps in several of them. She must have been hurting for a while.

I know that working out the cramps must have been excruciating. She just lay there and took it. A lot of her body language changed after I worked out the first one; she understood that someone was finally working on her, beginning to fix things. She relaxed somewhat.

Eventually, I had the cramps worked out, and her muscles relaxed. There was a spot in her spine I didnít like, but I simply wasnít qualified to work on it. I called Janet over, and we conferred. Janet put her hands on the spot, and twisted. I heard a loud crack. Thunder Girl twitched, and then relaxed some more.

I got her harnessed, and put her on her stand. When I left, she was contentedly sucking on her mash. I waved, and she whinnied at me. It was a huge improvement over how we had started.

I headed back to my apartment for some research into the community roster. Blue wasnít a problem, but I wanted a couple of specialists for Thunder Girl. I found them in the school system. I found one guy who spoke German, and a woman who was an absolute nut on language learning techniques.

I got the man in the next morning for the grooming session. He was a typical male of the community; he wanted a chance to screw her as his payment. Of course I agreed; not only was that part of what the ponies were for, but also I had several indications that she hadnít been getting it as regularly as she wanted. Besides, I wanted her. Without Rainbow, I was getting horny.

Iím going to do the next part as if I was talking to her; actually, I was making little speeches and he was translating them. At the end, he was translating both ways.

"Thunder Girl, Iím going to be your owner for the rest of your time as a community trainee."

She looked startled, and then relieved.

"Iím not one of your regular training team. I will do some of your training."

Speculative. She was getting better.

"Do you know where you are?"

Whinny and three taps. I was startled, I thought she knew.

"Youíre in the American community."

Real startled. I wondered where she thought she was. Of course, she had almost no experience of any part of the complex other than Leoís block, his arena and now this block. If they hadnít told her before shipping her off, she wouldnít know. Suddenly it dawned on me. She didnít know that she was still a community trainee! She thought she had been sold.

"Did you know you were here as a community trainee?"

Three taps. No again.

"One of the things about this community is that community trainees wear white harnesses. Neither our sale ponies, nor our community owned ponies wear white. We had an accident once, a long time ago. We do that to protect ourselves from another accident."

She knew that she and Blue both had white harnesses, and that none of the other ponies in Leoís herd had them. More relief. She was beginning to even look hopeful.

"The next rule is that all community owned ponies are required to talk during their grooming. There are a number of reasons for this. You donít need to know them yet. But that is the rule."

Another startled look. I knew that none of the other communities did this.

"We donít really care what you talk about. I canít understand you anyway. You can recite poetry for all we care. But you will talk. Or else."

I held out my hand in front of her head. She looked at it. Her eyes widened a little, then she opened her mouth, and dropped the ball into my hand.

"Good. Talk. Iíll translate for today."

What she said basically came down to "Oh, God, thank you." Eventually, she ran down, and I put my finger to her lips.

"I think you have had a sufficient experience being among people who you canít understand, and who you canít talk to. There is making a point, and there is carrying the point beyond stupidity."

"You will learn English."

She began to look stubborn.

"Or you will be chaired until you learn English."

She looked scared. "But, I canít learn English."

"And why not? You look like you have a full ration of brains. And your father thinks you are simply being stubborn to refuse."

All hell broke loose in her non-verbals. I gave her a hug, and began crooning to her. Eventually, she settled down.

"Youíve convinced me. Have you heard of the Sorceress?"

"Yes."

"She doesnít fail on this type of problem."

"Sheíll see you in the next couple of days. When she is done with you, you will be able to learn English without problems. Then you will meet your English tutor."

I finished drying her off, and had her crawl back to her pad. Then I checked her over; no new physical problems. I hadnít thought so. So I harnessed her, but I used a ring gag instead of the ball gag. She knew what it was for. When I stood her up, she went over to the bucking rack.

The bucking rack held a girl in a bent over position, with her ass and her head properly positioned for use.

My translator had her suck him off, and then took her in the sex. He didnít take her in the ass. He was firm, but polite. He made certain that she got off, not that it took much doing. She had started getting aroused as soon as I had put the ring in her mouth.

When he was done, he left. I lifted my skirt, and had her lick me to orgasm. She orgasmíd too. Whoever had trained her had done a very thorough job on the sex slave bit. You could trust the Germans for that.

I took her off the bucking rack, changed her ring gag for a ball gag, and put her on her display stand. When I left, she was contented sucking on her mash ration.

I called Alice from my apartment. She agreed to come down that day. We met and went to Thunder Girlís cell together.

"Bluebird, Iím going to go slow and comment. I want you to observe. You are pretty good at reading her, in fact, much better than pretty good, but you donít know the theory yet."

Going slow for Alice was quite speedy for me. I thought I was getting about a tenth of what was going on. She put Thunder Girl through a huge number of shifts and mood changes, totally without any verbal instruction. Or so it appeared.

Then she started swearing. Iíd like to say I learned several new words, but it wouldnít be true. Iíd learned her expletive vocabulary quite thoroughly while I was her slave housekeeper.

She stopped abruptly. "Sheís a multiple personality. And one of the subpersonalities understands English. Quite well. There are a couple of other subs that are dedicated to blocking it."

She reached over and took out Thunderís ball gag. I understood the next set of maneuvers, but I couldnít have reproduced them. Too fast, and too much bandwidth. But at the end of it, Thunder was talking to her. In English.

The thing to know about clinical multiple personalities is that they donít occur naturally. They have to be created. A few are created by well-meaning shrinks that should be sent back to remedial shrink school. Pretty Lemon had been turned into a multiple by Alice. But most of them are created by levels and types of abuse that would make a confirmed atheist begin to believe in the devil.

Alice was one. The shrink who had made her functional had used the committee model, rather than the integration model. She was still a multiple. Alice was the name that they used for the overall association. The two major front-runners were called the Negotiator, and Silence is Golden. Silence was a ponygirl. There were a few others. You really, really donít want to meet the She-Hulk. The slut liked nothing so much as being the center of attention at a good gangbang. Her only problem was that we couldnít supply her with a platoon of marines regularly. We could supply her with a platoon of randy male trainers, but they had too much trouble assimilating the notion that someone as powerful as the Sorceress liked to be screwed that way.

Other subpersonalities only functioned in the background. Some of them had very different views of reality. And could function in them, with startling results.

Alice spent the next hour taking the subpersonality that knew English, splitting the English language facility out, merging it into the general language substratum, and blocking it so that the other subpersonalities couldnít meddle with it.

Then she spent an hour setting up a committee structure. She found an existing subpersonality that could run meetings, and made it the chairman. Then she dumped in a couple of fairly general conflict resolution patterns.

Then she was done.

"Leave her here all day. Donít exercise her, donít work her. Just feed her and put her down for the night. Groom her in the morning, and Iíll see her right after."

Chapter 5. Roiled Waters.

The next morning dawned. At, least I presume it did. Itís hard to tell when you are in a cave complex where all the light is artificial, and the temperature never varies.

I decided to deal with Blue Waters first. As soon as I looked at her, I knew we had a problem. Her body language spelled fury, even before I released the hog-tie. So I called a couple of the big hunks on the team, and then started to release her for the morning wash up and grooming.

She was intelligent enough not to try to attack physically. But she really laid into it. What it basically came down to was that she didnít like the demotion. Either in privileges or status. When she ran down, all I said was:

"Three days."

They picked her up and dumped her on the chair. We pulled the dildos out first, of course. She made a pretty looking package seated on the potty from hell.

"Blue Waters. Now that was a totally stupid thing to do. I expect you know part of what Iím going to tell you. Maybe not."

I was cribbing from Alice here. Sheíd helped a lot in getting my head straight in the last few months.

"Youíre a pony girl. That is, youíre a girl that has been trained to act like a pony. Youíre not a pony. Youíll never run through a meadow on your own four hooves. Youíll never swat flies with your tail."

"A pony behaves like a pony. Plus its experience, plus itís training. There will never be a pony that is trained to act like a girl. Itís totally outside the range of possibility for a pony."

"Ponies donít have choices. Everything they do is determined by their being a pony, their experience, their training, and what is happening at the moment."

"Girls have choices. Everything they do is a choice. Of course, the choices come out of who they are, their experience, their training, and what is happening at the moment. But still, they have choice, and they can hopefully learn from the consequences of choice."

"A girl trained to act like a pony is trained to act as if she has no choices. But that isnít true. She is still a girl, not a pony, so she still has choices. You chose to screw up. You can blame the fact that youíre here, looking at eighty hours of progressively worsening muscle cramps and psychic disturbances due to sleep deprivation on anything you want. But the fact is, itís a consequence of what you chose."

"You lost a lot more than you think by that idiocy. When you get out of the chair, you will find your harness is black, not white. You are no longer a community trainee. You are a community owned pony. Coming out in sixteen months is no longer going to be automatic. You may, or you may not. It depends partly on the choices you make between now and then. And partly on things you canít control."

"As a trainee, your lifestyle commitment was assumed. As a community owned pony, it isnít. You havenít made your lifestyle commitment yet. So you donít get the days off, either."

"If you donít make the lifestyle commitment, you wonít come out in sixteen months. Or in twenty years, when youíre too old to be shown. Or ever. Ponies that donít make the commitment go into the livery service until they canít hack it. Then they get put down."

"If you do make the lifestyle commitment, you will probably come out at the end of your two years. No guarantees, but its likely."

"You canít ask for us to let you try the commitment. We say yes or no. Your entire training team, not just me. Youíll know youíve been approved for it when we give you street clothes instead of harnessing you some morning after grooming. Not before. You can turn it down, and ask later. But we wonít allow it unless we think there is a good chance you will pass it."

"Thereís one more thing."

I mounted her funnel, and poured in five ounces of slop. Her eyes bulged. Her back arched as she tried to pull her head back from something firmly attached to her ball gag.

"One clue. Five ounces of slop tastes no worse than one ounce. You talked out of turn, you get fed slop. You have fifteen minutes to suck it down. Weíre not going to force feed it to you. If you havenít at the end of fifteen minutes, weíll give you a little water and start the countdown. Then, youíll have the slop for the next feeding. And the next. And the next, until you suck it down."

"When you do, youíll get mash at the next feeding. Thatíll kill the taste. So itís a choice. You can get the nastiness out of the way now, or you can go hungry and still have it to deal with."

I left the cubicle and put up the shield. She was left alone, staring at herself in a mirror, and seeing a naked girl tied to a chair with a funnel full of brown stuff stuck in her mouth.

When I came back fifteen minutes later, most of the slop was gone.

"Good girl. Do you need more time to finish it?"

She tapped her foot twice. Like she really, really didnít, but figured she had to. Smart girl. Nobody had ever accused her of being stupid.

"OK, youíve got another ten minutes."

I left and closed it up again.

When I came back, it was gone.

"Good girl. I know I promised you that you would taste it for the next five hours, but really, the whole point of the exercise was to underline the lesson about choice."

I put an ounce of mash in the funnel. Her eyes widened. She sucked it down greedily. Mash was the only thing that would cut the taste of slop. At least, it was the only thing we ever gave ponygirls.

"Need more?"

Two taps.

"Ok, one more." I put another ounce of mash in the funnel. This time, she sucked it down slowly, and washed it around her mouth. When she was done, I put a couple of ounces of water in the funnel. She sucked it down.

I removed the funnel, moved her head forward and swung the too small headrest into place. Then I triggered the chair and left.

She watched herself in the mirror, as the clock counted down the minutes of her punishment.

Chapter 6. Thunder in the Morning.

Now that I had dealt with Blue, I could check on Thunder Miss. I found Alice grooming her. They were talking animatedly.

"Oh, good, get Pearl, would you?"

I got Pearl, and Janet for good measure. Leonard and Bobbie also joined us. By that time, Alice had gotten the harness on Thunder Girl, and had her mounted on the display stand.

"OK, team. Hereís whatís going to happen. Fortunately, Horst wasnít involved with what happened to Thunder; at least any more than the typical overly busy father that doesnít see whatís going on under his nose. So itís not an inter-community political issue."

"Sheís a multiple, the same way I am, and the Lemon is. So thatís the way we have to play it. I frankly think its more important that the German community has someone of my, or the Lemonís, caliber, than that we do a bang-up job of treating our first exchange student like a pony. Leo agrees with me. He thinks that it will ease a lot of tensions if we donít have the only people who can do what I can."

"So, hereís what we do. For the next couple of months, sheís going to be busy cleaning up her internal organization. So you treat her just like any ponygirl. Its her responsibility to have Thunder Girl running her body when you are working her."

"Iíll work with her for a while every day, until I think she can continue on her own. Sheíll tell you when she thinks sheís ready, and needs to talk to me. She knows that sheíll be chaired if she calls, and sheís not ready. So just carry on."

We left her cell as she sucked down her mash.

"I rode her down here. Her riding sucks. Iím going to work on that. Bluebird, you check out her cart work. Do whatever you need to, youíre more than capable of handling it."

"OK. If sheís going to go the way Alice and the Lemon did, she needs all the riding she can get. Howíd you like to be a star of the Wolf and Ponygirl show?"

All Janet said was "shit." We laughed, and went on to work the next pony on our lists.

Epilog.

Well, thatís about it for this story. Ten years after Leo had kidnapped me, I was no longer a pony. I was now one with my kidnappers. I could go on, and on, and on, but most of it wouldnít interest you.

The fact was, the community had changed. So had I. I suppose I could have changed my name back from Bluebird to Susan, but Susan James no longer existed. I met the man who had bought Corn Tassel, and discovered he was a widower. I started training his daughter in driving heavy sulky. Eventually, we got married, which freed me up to go to trainerís school full time.

I did my other duty to the community, and had a lobo-ra daughter. Then I had a son and another daughter for him. I finally got back to training full time in my early forties.

Leo gave Rainbow to his daughter Cindy after she finished trainerís school and settled in. She kept Rainbow as a pure pony, and tried to minimize talking. Rainbow loved it, and stopped taking her days off. Eventually, she quit talking altogether. The last thing she ever said was to ask Cindy to put her down when she got too old to enjoy being a pony.

In the event, she died quietly in her sleep the day after she and Cindy won the top prize in heavy sulky at the annual international Gymkhana. Cindy had her stuffed and mounted on her display stand, with a tablet listing her racing wins. I drop by occasionally, and contemplate the difference one event made in our lives. If she had been sleeping with Leo on the night of the earthquake, would it have been me on that stand?