This work is copyright 2000-2004 by Xaltatun of Acheron (A Pseudonym). It may be posted on the Internet to any free forum. It may be reformatted to match the forum's look and feel, and the forum editor may make minor spelling and grammer corrections. Otherwise it must be posted in its entirety, including these notices. 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.
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. Most large cities, and some not so large ones, have organized BDSM groups that will usually welcome a newcomer. I'm not going to point out which practices are safe, and which aren't. 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. Don't make yourself a candidate for a Darwin award.
There are fifteen stories in the series entitled “Ponygirl Transformation.” At this point, I have no intention of writing additional stories in this series, although I thought that before Engineer burst on the scene. The stories are listed in order of the series timeline, although there are a few overlaps and several continuing characters. The first three set necessary background, the next three cover one formative event from three different viewpoints.
1. Ponygirl Finds Her Place
2. Kinder and Gentler
3. The Sorceress’ Apprentice
4. Raw Material
5. Ponygirl by Choice
6. The Politics of Ponygirls
7. Ponygirls on Vacation
8. Bluebird Grows Up
9. Unregistered Ponygirls
11. Suzie’s Ponygirl
13. Engineer (in preparation)
15. Segue to Freehold (in preparation)
Acknowledgements. The setting and several of the characters are taken from a series of books 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 commercially available, and should not be on any web site on the internet, except for a short excerpt on Sir Jeff’s ponygirl web site.
Some of the characters and settings have been changed, either due to the different legal environment in the United States, my partially successful attempt to make the setting more consistent, and in one case a simple error of memory that got woven into the plot too deeply to back out by the time I discovered it.
In no case should you infer anything about the prior stories from this one. Sir Thomas has substantially different objectives for his 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.
Now on to the story...
Chapter 1. What do you do with a Genius?
Chapter 2. First Trip Outside.
Chapter 3. First Training Episode.
Chapter 4. Loose Lips and all that.
Chapter 5. Susi becomes a ponygirl.
Chapter 6. Auction.
Chapter 7. Leslie and Linnet Meet Team 146.
Chapter 8. Linnet Learns Her New Duties.
Chapter 9. Diana Meets her Ponygirl.
Chapter 10. Excessive Enthusiasm Gets Its Just Rewards.
Chapter 11. The Best Plans are Laid.
Chapter 12. College Interviews.
Chapter 13. Larry and Linnet Meet a BDSM Society.
Chapter 14. How did a String of Sex Workers get into Here?
Chapter 15. Amanda and Connie face a hard choice.
Chapter 16. Official interest.
Chapter 17. Amanda and Connie start training.
Chapter 18. A Ride in the Forest.
Chapter 19. Alice tries to salvage Connie.
Chapter 20. Mistress Melanie’s Stable.
Chapter 21. Space Aliens? Huh, What?
Chapter 22. Pilot Project.
Chapter 23. Amanda starts improvising.
Chapter 24. More School Daze.
Chapter 25. Linnet Closes a Chapter.
Chapter 26. Boris Badinov and the Space Aliens.
Chapter 27. More Planning
Chapter 28. Recruiting an Academic.
Chapter 29. Linnet Gets Her Reward.
Chapter 30. Amanda’s Ponygirl Stable
Chapter 31. Connie flames out.
Epilog. Another Ride in the Forest.
Bess looked at the wall of the young women’s dorm in mild frustration as she waited for the other women to fall asleep. Well, as they said, if you planned your work properly, you shouldn’t have problems. It remained to be seen whether she’d planned this properly. There’d been no way to practice much of it.
She finally heard the last of her dormitory mates fall into the deep breathing pattern that meant she was asleep.
It didn’t seem at all likely they would, either. While her people thought that her ability to make things move around just by thinking and see at a distance were works of Satan, by
The people running the center didn’t have a clue, and it had never occurred to them to ask any of their involuntary charges. Bess was fairly sure that her people wouldn’t talk, but she wasn’t taking chances.
She slid the backpack and other stuff from where she’d concealed it, and headed to the restroom to change.
A few minutes later she was out on the street, dressed not very differently from any of the young college women that lived around this university hospital.
An hour later she’d registered at a cheap residential motel and checked in to the, to her at least, luxurious efficiency room.
She logged onto the motel’s network connection and sent out the email that made the entire set of risks worthwhile.
“Dear Sir,” she’d written. “Do you really turn women into horses? What would I need to do for you to turn me into one?”
A few minutes later she’d gotten an answer.
“We don’t actually turn them into horses; there isn’t much profit in that and anyway it wouldn’t be legal. We train them to act like horses as much as it’s possible for a young woman to act like one. They’re called ponygirls, and their owners race them, show them, have them pull carts and sometimes ride them.
“You’d have to sign a 20 year transferable indenture with us for us to train you. It’s administered under the Consensual Slave Act. Training takes from four to six months before you’d be ready to be sold.”
She stared at the response like a small animal staring at a snake about to strike. She didn’t even notice her nipples hardening and the slight feeling of wetness below. She took a quick look at the document that came with the mail, and shrugged. Legalese was beyond her. The lunatics who were trying to “help” her people after they’d raided the commune had taught her to read and write, which was certainly useful, but as for the rest? Having an owner that would treat her like a horse was her fondest dream. Horses, at least, were well treated. Her commune’s horses had been much better treated than she had been. Or at least she thought so.
She sent an email back.
“Where do I sign?”
The gangling 18 year old with the perpetually bemused expression walked into the Community Services unit. “I’m here to see Mrs. Stevens.”
The secretary checked her list. “Oh, right. They’re all here, so go right on in.”
He walked in the door and stopped, startled. This wasn’t his first trip to the councilors. There were only two of them, and they handled everything from educational guidance through marital mishaps. The other two people with Katie Stevens were, however, unexpected. Alice, a 5’5” redhead sometimes known as the Sorceress, was sitting on the couch next to Pretty Lemon, so called because of her startling head of lemon yellow hair, topped with white patches that had brown peaks. She was known as the Sorceress’ Apprentice on occasion.
Being told the Sorceress wanted to see you tended to be a religious experience. It provoked a certain amount of soul searching. This wasn’t because she was particularly difficult to get along with; quite the contrary in fact. It was because she was arguably the most powerful person in the community, and not only in a political sense. What Larry remembered was that she had been kidnapped to be trained as a ponygirl a few years before he was born, and had subsequently turned the place on its side with her previously carefully concealed psi powers. She’d invented a great deal of technology based on those same powers, and most of the people in the community has long since assimilated the fact that she didn’t need mechanical assistance to teleport, see things at a distance or move things around telekinetically. They also ignored the fact that there were a couple of other people who had learned how to do it from her.
Finding her in a meeting where you didn’t expect to see her…
He sat down gingerly.
“I’ll bet seeing us gave you a bit of a shock,” Alice said, warmly.
“It certainly did.”
“You’re not in any trouble … this time,” Alice continued. “On the contrary, we’ve got a proposition we think you’ll like.”
“Something I can’t refuse, I take it,” he said.
“I see you’ve still got your sense of humor,” said Katie Stevens. “It’ll help. I hate to call it a problem, but the fact is, you’re much too intelligent for the people around you, and that causes problems. You’re bored, and they’re frustrated. You need something you can get your mind into.”
“Like the power plant?”
“No, that’s mostly routine maintenance, and you’d be bored silly the first day,” Alice said. “You’re pretty good with the computer stuff, but it doesn’t really look like that would hold your interest for too long. Your talents seem to lie much more in research and development.”
“Computer programming is fun but you’re right. It’s too easy. It’s not something that I want for a career unless I was doing research, and there’s no way I could do that around here.”
“You haven’t shown much interest in genetics, either.”
“Well, it’s interesting, but I’ve got no desire to become a ponygirl to pursue it.”
“We might waive that requirement for an internal candidate, although it would undoubtedly have to be discussed. However, we’ve got a project that we think you’ll like to work on.”
He tried. No dice. He tossed it back, and Pretty Lemon tied it into a bow knot without apparent effort. Then she tossed it back at him.
He tried to budge it. No luck, it was still as rigid as, well, a steel rod. “How did you do that?”
“Telekinesis. A metallurgical analysis wouldn’t show stress marks, it would show that it flowed. In fact, when I did it, it felt like limp spaghetti.”
Larry looked impressed. “I’d heard some of you could do that, but not that big.”
The Lemon grinned. “I practice. I do metal sculpture to relax.”
Alice cleared her throat. “Now, here’s the background. We’ve got a serious problem in the computer complex. Not that it’s likely to fall apart any time soon, but it’s built out of lots of stuff scrounged from here and there. It keeps our maintenance staff running ragged just to keep up. A couple of the less technically inclined board members wondered if we could manufacture our own computers, just so we could afford to standardize.
“It wasn’t that bad a question. Some of the bigger data base companies have their own custom boards and so forth. We’d looked at it a couple of times, but we’re kind of in between: it’s the processor chips that are expensive, and we need fast processors. So we’d shelved the idea. Then I noticed one of the Lemon’s sculptures. Using telekinesis to sculpt a chip seemed like it should be possible; after all, we do that with genes all the time.”
Pretty Lemon continued. “When Alice mentioned it, I dug in and did a little research. It’s certainly possible, although it would require automation. There’s no way I could do a million transistors by hand. Even making a chip with only a hundred elements took way too long.”
“So here’s the idea,” Alice said. “We want you to look into manufacturing technology. Ideally, what we want out of it is some way of leveraging our telekinetic technology into an automated manufacturing process. It doesn’t have to be limited to chips, either.”
“Who, me?” Larry looked like a fish torn between going for the bait and wondering if there was a hook.
“Yes, you. You’ve got the bent for technology, and you’re smart enough to possibly carry it off.”
“But still, why me?”
“Frankly, we’ve got to do something with you. You’re here, you’re ours, and putting you to work on something you’ll like will be a whole lot easier on everyone than the alternatives.”
“So here’s the proposal,” Katie took up the conversation. “You need a standard engineering background. We don’t normally send our people out, but we’ll make an exception in your case. It’ll take you a year to get ready for college. You’re a couple of years older than the usual college entrant, which will help. So for the next year, we’ll pull you out of the community training program so you can concentrate on two things. First, getting the background you’ll need for engineering school. Second, learning how telekinesis is done.”
The fish looked like it was flopping around out of water. “Uh. Engineering school I understand, but I’ve got no idea how to do telekinesis.”
“Neither does anyone else, frankly,” Alice said. “Three of us can build widgets that do the genetic modifications. If you can learn how to do that, it’ll not only give us a fourth, but you’ll be able to build whatever you need to manufacture chips.”
“I can see the utility, but that’s one big IF,” Larry said.
“It certainly is, but it’s not quite as unlikely as you’d think,” Katie interjected. “First, you remember your reaction when we tested your class for teleport fugue?”
“I remember I passed when they dropped that weight in my hand.”
“What kind of sensation did you get?”
“Something I couldn’t quite see twisted up around it. It seemed like a real intricate puzzle, if I could just see it. But nobody asked any questions,” he finished almost plaintively.
“Well, we don’t follow up on it unless there’s a job responsibility. There’s too many security issues to just train anyone with the talent if they don’t have a valid reason. We test for it so we know who to tap if we need someone.”
“Uh, that sounds reasonable.”
“There’s two ways it’s good for you. First, you’re going to have to teleport places to get experience outside of the community, and being able to teleport without sleepy gas is a definite help. We’ll give you as much experience teleporting as we can. We’ll send you out with the senior trainers in the beginning until you get familiar with how the world outside works, then you can go on your own. You need to learn that anyway to be able to attend engineering school.”
“Uh, right. I guess I do. But what does that have to do with telekinesis?”
“We’re not certain. We know that some people that aren’t subject to teleport fugue eventually learn how to teleport on their own. We also know that just about everyone who can teleport on their own can do telekinesis and clairvoyance, but we don’t make a point of either mentioning it or training for it. We also know that some people that work around the telekinetic widgets develop a feel for the process, and go on from there.
“What we’re going to do on that is to have you study how the operational end is set up; that is, the widgets that let us do mechanical clairvoyance and genetic modifications. If you show an affinity, it will probably simply come with time. It took Black Thunderbolt about four years to get good enough to be useful. Today, she builds most of the genetics stuff herself.”
“Here,” Pretty Lemon tossed him something.
“What is this thing?” He turned it over in his hand, looking. It looked like a quartz crystal with metal caps on both ends.
“It’s one of our infamous widgets I’ve been playing with. This one cleans clothes. Just pass it over the cloth, and dirt and wrinkles fall out. Play with it for a while.”
“Uh, right.” He kept turning it over in his hands.
“Does this sound like something you want to do?” Alice asked.
He jerked upright from an examination of the crystal. “Oh, my. Yes. Absolutely. Right away.”
“OK, sounds like a plan to me.”
“Now for the details,” Katie said. “First, you’re going to meet with Security for a crash course on dos, don’ts, regulations and how to handle teleports. Then, Raindance will show you around. We’ve picked her because she’s an outsider.” They continued discussing Larry’s schedule.
The phone rang. Larry picked it up. “Hello, Larry. Raindance here. Ready to go?”
Larry hastily swallowed a bite. “Sure am, ma’am.”
“Polite, too. I’ll pick you up at the residential dome checkpoint in twenty minutes. OK?”
“I should be able to make it.”
“See you.” She hung up.
Larry made it to the security checkpoint in eighteen minutes. Raindance was nowhere in sight, so he stopped to look around.
“Hey, Larry,” one of the guards, Tony, said, “you lost?”
“Nah,” he replied, “I’m waiting for Raindance. She said she’d meet me here.”
Tony’s eyebrows went up. “What are you doing with her?”
“She’s going to be showing me around outside.”
“Huh. How you rate?”
“Must have done too well on the tests. The Board’s got me on a special project.”
“Yeah. Stand out too much, and they grab you for something.”
“I’d rather stand here and watch the ’girls go by,” said the other guard. “It’s safer. Also more scenic.”
It certainly was scenic, Larry agreed privately. As he leaned against the guard station’s ledge he watched the flow of traffic through the tunnel between the main dome and the residential dome. The traffic was about evenly split between people walking, and people and lobo-ra either riding ponygirls or in carts or chariots being pulled by ponygirls.
One reasonably well-endowed blonde caught his eye, mostly because he thought he recognized her from a class he’d shared a couple of years before. That wasn’t, he thought, all that unlikely; she was a year older than he was, so she would be in the middle of her two years as a ponygirl in the community trainee program. What was unlikely was seeing her here; most of the community trainees were stabled in the arena complex and used for show, and she was being ridden by one of the lobo-ra. He could see the lobo-ra’s head above hers, and the lobo-ra’s arms to the side of her head where they held the ponygirl’s reins in a firm grip. On second thought, though, it was less unlikely than it seemed. She’d never impressed him as fast, and she was a bit clumsy, which meant that she wasn’t likely to appeal to anyone unless they had trained the clumsiness out. If they hadn’t, she wouldn’t have sold at the auction, which meant she would go into the labor pool. The lobo-ra got their share of the labor pool ponies, not least because they lived on the far side of the residential dome and it was a long way from there to any of the places they worked. With their size they needed the transportation.
The lobo-ra stood in the shoulder harness that they usually called a saddle. Lobo-ra were usually between 2’6” and 3’ tall. Almost all of the lobo-ra were actually half-breeds between the root lobo-ra stock and normal human mothers. The half-breeds looked like pretty five year olds even though they were all neuters and had about as much interest in sex as a rather blasé rock. They were all wizard animal trainers though, and it didn’t seem to matter to them whether the animal in question was a wolf or a ponygirl.
They couldn’t use a regular saddle because they simply weren’t tall enough to be able to see over the ponygirl’s head unless she was bent over at a very sharp angle: this affected her balance too much to be practical. The harness itself came over her shoulders, crossed between her breasts and buckled just under them. The typical lobo-ra stood high enough in it so that her arms were level with the ponygirl’s bit, and her head was high enough for good vision.
Her white tack matched her hair quite well; at this distance the bridle almost vanished against the short hair that covered most of her head except for the mane. That started at the brow line with very short, upright hair, and progressively lengthened as it went back until it was long enough to start to flop over. It lengthened to around six inches by the time it passed around the curve of her skull.
She had her head tilted back so that she had to look forward down her nose. She didn’t have much choice about that; the stiff white leather collar that encircled her throat was much higher in front than in back, and Larry knew that the top had been roughened to discourage her from tilting her head forward.
Her arms were imprisoned in shoulder length white leather gloves. They came down her sides and crossed in back just under the bottom of the harness. The forearms weren’t visible: the harness enclosed them so that it looked like she didn’t have any.
Her main garment was a white leather bustier-like affair that cinched around her waist and lower ribs, just kissing the bottom of her breasts on the top and following the curve of her hips on the bottom. It had a number of rings and buckles for the various ways she would be harnessed, bound and tethered. The straps on the lobo-ra’s saddle went through several of the buckles, securing the entire assemblage into one solid piece of tack that wouldn’t shift no matter what happened.
The truly unique part was her tail. He could see it swaying behind her as she high stepped at the sedate walk that kept her up with the traffic flow. The tail was part of her; one of the genetic mods that turned a young woman into a ponygirl. The top part looked like a horse’s tail; the flourish of long blond horsehair fell to about her knees. Unlike a horse, though, it continued on from there like a cat’s or a monkey’s tail. That part had short blond fur matching her head until it ended in a black tip that she kept curled up so it did not drag on the floor and risk getting stepped on.
Her other garment was a pair of white leather boots which came to mid-calf and ended in a very credible imitation of a horse’s hoof. Inside the hoof her feet were at full extension, completing the illusion. This was another of the gene mods that went into making a ponygirl; even without the hooves she could walk in complete comfort for any length of time with her feet in full extension.
The hooves, of course, had hard rubber horseshoes on the bottom. Horseshoes were necessary to protect horse’s hooves against paved roads. The hoof boots did that adequately, but they were traditional so all of the ponygirls wore them.
Besides her tack, she came equipped with a pair of rings set into her breasts just under the aureole, and a pair of livestock tags in her ears. Whoever had tacked her up that morning had put little bells on both sets; the tinkle of the ponygirl’s bells made a nice counterpoint to the thud of their shoes as they walked or trotted.
She wasn’t, of course, the only ponygirl in sight. These ponygirls were all the standard community product, and ranged from very late teens to late 30s and early 40s, with a few somewhat older. Most of the ones that weren’t being ridden by lobo-ra were pulling carts or chariots. A few were bent over under normal saddles and riders. The latter had their arms crossed behind them where they vanished under the front of the saddle. The ones pulling carts, however, had their arms folded up by their sides with their hands sticking out at shoulder height. The elbows on the shoulder length gloves clipped to the bustier, and the wrist of the gloves clipped to an attachment at the shoulder, preventing her from moving her arms. The glove part had a little plastic insert that forced the ’girl to keep her hands pointed outwards in the typical female bent wrist position that many women affected. The reason, however, wasn’t so much the bent wrist as that it made them look like an insufferably cute begging puppy when they were on their display stands.
The ones being ridden or pulling carts or chariots were definitely working to handle the weight; Larry could see the muscles in their legs, thighs and buttocks ripple as they moved in time to the swish of their tails.
There was a good mix of ’girls with manes, and ’girls with long, waist-length hair. All of the ones with white tack had manes; most of the others had long hair, but there were exceptions. The difference was that the ones with white tack were all community trainees and never left the caverns; the ones that didn’t have white tack were all outsiders and mostly took their one day a week and their vacations outside.
They were all bridled and bitted, and their riders and drivers held their reins. Many of the drivers held the reins quite loosely; this was commuter traffic, and the ponygirls were taking their owners to places that they had been to many times before. All of the lobo-ra and many of the other riders had their ’girls under firm control.
The men mostly wore slacks and open shirts, while the women seemed to favor short leather skirts, low cut blouses that emphasized the perfect curves of their breasts, mesh hose and high heels. Larry smiled in amusement as a thought crossed his mind. Even without the ponygirls, this scene certainly wouldn’t ever appear on one of the entertainment shows from outside! The community had favored ultra-sexy styles for women for so long that any woman that wasn’t dressed to attract male attention wasn’t being appropriate. The men, of course, enjoyed the scenery but otherwise didn’t touch unless it was clear that the woman was going to be receptive. He chuckled at the thought. While teenage girls were weaker than men, after they’d served their turn as ponygirls in the community trainee program they were considerably stronger. He didn’t think that any of them were capable of ripping an attacker limb from limb, but he wouldn’t have been surprised if the geneticists didn’t have that modification filed away somewhere.
“That looks like Raindance,” said Tony as a ponygirl came into view pulling a two seat chariot with a 5’10” blonde in one of the seats. Raindance’s ponygirl was a tall brunette, or rather a chestnut. She was tacked up the usual way in a form fitting corset that came from just under her breasts to just over her hips. Four of the corset’s buckles held the traces that attached her to the chariot shafts.
In addition to the corset, she wore an over the shoulder harness for a lobo-ra. Her arms were folded behind her, just under the harness, where they vanished under the bottom of the contrivance. A shiny black leather bridle encased her head and not incidentally held her long chestnut hair back so it didn’t scatter. Her bit curved into her mouth so that it didn’t distort her face significantly.
“Sure looks like she’s going outside today,” Tony added, looking at how Raindance was dressed. She was wearing a business suit that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a junior executive that was tastefully using her sex appeal as an additional aid in climbing the corporate ladder.
“Larry, grab a seat and we’ll go.” Larry clambered aboard. “Have you ever driven a ’girl?”
“Huh?” Larry started at the question. “A few times, why?”
“OK, you drive.” She tossed him the reins. “Dancing Waters is real easy.”
Larry stared at the reins; things were moving a bit fast. “Uh, right.” He flipped the reins lightly, and the ’girl leaned into the traces, gently bringing the chariot out into the main flow. They headed down the street at a sedate walk, listening to the clip, clop of the ponygirl’s hard rubber horseshoes on the stone roadway. Larry spent a moment watching her hips move back and forth as her legs moved up to an exact horizontal, and then back down.
“She must like you,” Raindance said. “She doesn’t normally do a show step unless I tell her.”
“I’ve noticed some do and some don’t.”
“Some owners demand a show step while they’re walking. I don’t; it’s harder on the ’girl, and Waters spends most of her day pulling things around.”
“Huh. I thought showing ’girls was what we were all about.”
“Well, mostly. Dancing Waters is too heavily built to be a good runner. She’s great as a cart and carriage pony. She does show team work with our other ’girl.”
Dancing Waters clip, clopped on as if she wasn’t paying any attention to the conversation behind her.
“Take her into the training block. We want to go to cell block seven today,” Raindance instructed him.
“Uh,” Larry said. Then: “Damn. I keep saying that. What I meant was: I don’t think I’m authorized to go there.”
“You are now,” Raindance chuckled. “You’ve got supervised access, which means you need to be in the company of a trainer or security at all times. That’s just a precaution until you know your way around and know all the procedures. You’re not going to be spending enough time around the block to need full access for a good while, if ever.”
Larry thought a moment as he guided Dancing Waters through an intersection onto the street leading to the Training Block tunnel. “You mean I’m going to be too busy to train for it?”
“Exactly. Here’s the tunnel. Just go on through like you know what you’re doing, go past the first cross corridor and take the up ramp on the right.”
The cross corridor was impossible to miss: they had painted it a different color, and it had large signs indicating the training block teleport station off to the right, and Orientation off to the left.
Larry guided the ’girl onto the up ramp without mishap. As the grade rose, she quit doing her show step and leaned into the harness. The leather creaked slightly as it settled into a new pattern, and the muscles in her legs rippled under the added strain of keeping the same speed. The ramp merged into another upward sloping tunnel that then went around a hairpin turn back the way it had been going. It suddenly leveled out to a passageway on the right, with a sign that said “Cell Block Five.” Then it started sloping up again.
Cell Block Seven showed up after several more hairpin turns. He guided the ’girl into the corridor. “Turn left and see if you can back the chariot up into one of the parking spaces,” Raindance instructed.
“I’ve never done that,” he exclaimed.
“Well, try. If you don’t manage it on the first try, it’s no big deal.”
“Ok.” He straightened his shoulders and gripped the reins tighter. “Slowly, now. Good girl.” He tugged the reins. “Stop. Good girl.”
“Back slowly now.” He tugged the reins to guide her as the chariot swung around and lined up with one of the parking slots. “Back. Back. Stop.” She stopped, the chariot almost touching the back wall.
“Good going, guy.” Raindance gave him a brief hug, and they got out of the chariot. “Put her on the hitching rack on the other side.” He unbuckled the traces, shook the reins, and guided her to a spot in front of the hitching rack. He tossed the reins over the rack and looped them once. She sank to one knee, her chestnut tail falling over the outstretched leg.
“Perfect,” Raindance said. “Let’s see. Linnet should be in her cell waiting for us.” She walked into the cross corridor, Larry following with a new-found confidence in his step.
Linnet was waiting for them, sitting on her heels on the mat in her cell, arms hanging loosely at her sides. Raindance stopped outside the cell and clapped her hands. “Time to go, Linnet.” The brunette rose to her feet with an eye-catching twist that somehow managed to keep her black leather miniskirt exactly in place, hung her bag over her shoulder and slid the cell door open. “You’re Raindance?” she asked.
“Yes. I know Tina is your normal senior trainer, but I’m going to take you for your first trip.”
“Oh,” she said, and closed the cell door behind her.
“This is Larry. He’s coming with us today.”
“Oh,” she said again. She seemed to be a ponygirl of very few words.
“Next,” Raindance said in an instructional tone, “we’re going to the training block teleport station. Linnet, you need to know how to get there and back to your cell. You’ll be going there for your days off while you’re still in training, and this is the only time one of us will be with you.”
“I see.” They stayed out of the way of several ponygirls as they walked down the ramp, the clicking of Raindance’s and Linnet’s heels merging with the solider thuds of the ponygirl’s hard rubber horseshoes. Finally, they came to the level four cross corridor.
“Now, notice that here you’ve got a choice. Go away from the cell block into the cross corridor. Remember that.”
“What happens if I forget?” Linnet asked.
“Don’t even think about it. Have you ever seen what a level three prod does to a girl?”
“I think I did, once.” Linnet shuddered delicately.
“That’s what’ll happen if you go the wrong way here. It’s completely automatic. If it was a mistake, that’s probably adequate to motivate you to remember the next time. If it wasn’t, we’ll do some retraining.”
“Ugh. I’ll remember.”
“I hope so. You’ve done too well up to now to blow it by screwing up. Now, once we’re in the cross corridor here, go to the left at the next intersection and join the line. There’s a big sign that says ‘Teleport Station’, and the corridor is painted bright red to make it real hard to miss. Whatever you do, don’t go past that intersection or you’ll get zapped. Today, we’re going to Chicago.”
Linnet’s eyes flew up. “I’ve never been to Chicago.”
“I know. That’s why we’re going there. It’s a great city in the summer.”
They turned left into the corridor to the teleport station and joined a short line of young women, all dressed like Linnet in heels, black leather miniskirt and white blouse. The line ended at a desk with a woman doing something with a terminal.
As they added themselves to the end, Linnet winced. “Ouch!”
Raindance looked at her. “What was that about?”
“Something over there.” She waved her hand toward the right. Then she winced again.
“Are you hypersensitive?” Raindance asked.
“I must be, but what is that? I’ve never felt it before. It hurts,” she wailed plaintively.
“That’s the teleporter you’re reacting to,” Raindance said. “We’re a good twenty meters away; I can barely detect it from here. Most people don’t react until they’re well within ten meters or so. Take a deep breath and try to look at it when it happens.”
Linnet took a deep breath, which was a startling sight as her breasts attempted to demolish her blouse. Then she relaxed. “Good. It doesn’t hurt any more, but what is it doing?”
“Well, what does it look like?”
“It’s kind of like a knot, except it goes too many ways. And whatever’s knotting up shouldn’t be there. I guess I was trying to knot up too, which is why it hurt.”
“OK. We’ll see what it looks like when you get closer.”
“It’s kind of cute. I want to play with it.”
“We’ll see,” Raindance said. “You may be immune to teleport fugue, which is helpful.”
Eventually, they got to the head of the line. The woman at the desk said: “Hi, Raindance. What can I do for you?”
“Chicago, Steph. I need to have Linnet tested. She’s probably immune, but I’ve never heard anyone react the way she does.”
“Wait over by the side while I finish the line, then we’ll run a formal test.” They moved over to the side of the corridor and stood watching the rest of the girls in the line move one by one into the side corridor. Eventually, the line cleared out.
“Let’s go in now,” Raindance said. “Linnet, you’re to stand on the target in the middle of the room.”
“Target?” she asked as they walked down the short tunnel into a circular room. “Oh, right!”
The center of the room had a mural of a dartboard in the center of the floor. Linnet giggled and walked to the center. “Perfect 10!” Raindance gestured to Larry to stand at the side, next to an equipment rack.
“We’re going to start.” A man’s voice came out of the speaker. “Watch the red light.” It blinked once, followed by a tinkle as something dropped onto the floor and rolled to a stop.
“Way cool!” exclaimed Linnet. “It’s in two places at once!”
“Huh? How can something be in two places?” asked Larry.
“I don’t know. It just is.” The light blinked again, and another tinkle sounded closer to them as another weight dropped to the floor. A third weight followed.
“I wonder,” Linnet breathed. The light blinked again, but there was no tinkle.
“What did you just do?” Larry asked.
“Here,” she said, opening her hand. “I just called it to me when it tried to come out.”
“That’s good,” he said. Then a thought occurred to him. “Can you make it hover in the air?”
“Like this?” she asked, making a tossing motion. It rose lazily and then stopped, spinning gently.
“You just learned how to do that?” Larry asked, impressed in spite of himself.
“I’ve always been able to. My folks didn’t like it and punished me.”
“Huh. Let Raindance deal with it.”
“Stick out your hand again,” Raindance said. “Let’s let them wind the test up formally.”
She stuck out her hand, and a weight occurred above it, dropping the last inch into her hand. She tossed it into the air, where it vanished with a small pop. “I put it back in the box it came from. Is that all right?”
“We’re done,” Raindance called out.
“Overdone, I’d say,” the voice said from the speaker.
“Good going. Now, before we move out, there’s something to show you two. See this?” She picked a device with a bunch of straps and a canister off of the rack. “It’s a breather mask.
“The thing you need to know is that most people have serious problems when they’re too close to a teleport. It’s nothing that can’t be dealt with by a quick stun to stop the hysterics and then some hypnotherapy. Alice, Pretty Lemon, the counselors and most of the senior trainers can deal with it, but it’s better not to have to. So if you’re not checked out to teleport while you’re awake, you use one of these. You need to know about the procedure so you know what everyone else is doing.”
“Right,” Larry said, picking one of the masks off the rack to examine while Raindance handed hers to Linnet.
“I see,” Linnet said. “Almost like a gas mask. What’s in the canister?”
“About ten seconds of sleepy gas.”
She twisted it around, looking. “How do you tell if it’s full?”
“The valve doesn’t reset until someone refills it.”
Linnet walked over and looked at the other rack. “I see. Pick one up before the teleport, then put it in the rack to be recharged at the other end.”
“Excellent,” Raindance said as Linnet put the masks back in the racks she’d gotten them from. “Where did you learn all of this?”
“Our commune’s emergency preparedness procedures. You need to keep emergency stuff simple. There’s no time to figure out something complicated when it hits the fan.”
“Too true,” Raindance said feelingly. “I could wish we had better emergency training. You should hear Alice talking about the subject.
“Now, the next part of the procedure is that set of lights on the wall.” She pointed at a line of lights. “The green light means the room is available. When it turns yellow, the teleport is about to start; it’ll happen about a second after it turns red. If you see three red lights, clear out; they want to use it for incoming.”
“Got it,” Larry said, and Linnet nodded. The light turned yellow and then red. Suddenly, they were in another room standing on a mural of a telescopic sight, with crosshairs and range markings.
“Before we move on, I want to check something. Linnet, what did the teleport seem like to you?”
“I saw this place, and suddenly I was here. Then the teleport station vanished. I think I can do the overlay.” She paused a moment, and then Raindance nodded. “Right. I should be able to switch from one to the other.”
“Whatever it was, it looked real bizarre, like things going in too many directions at once.”
“Right. That’s the usual first reaction. After they’ve been teleporting long enough, most people begin to see the two places. Then they can learn to teleport on their own.” She paused a moment. “This is not to be discussed with anyone else. If someone mentions seeing both places during a teleport, just say something like: that’s interesting, and report it to security. We don’t want people teleporting all over the place by themselves. The idea gives a lot of people real nightmares.
“Hi, Raindance, another new girl? And who’s the cute guy?”
“Of course, another new girl. This is Linnet and Larry. You may be seeing Larry quite a bit if he likes the place.”
“Anything to brighten up this dungeon!” the captive girl said. “Enjoy our fair city.” She waved at a door marked: “The Doctor is OUT.”
They walked into a classical doctor’s waiting room. The magazines on the table were yellow with age. There was a skeleton wearing a nurse’s cap behind the desk, decorated with cobwebs.
“Eeeek!” Linnet squeaked. Rainbow chuckled. “Betty enjoys keeping this up. How do you like the décor?”
“Um, weird.” They looked around. The opposite wall had two office doors. The one on the left said: “Dr. Kevorkian.” The one on the right said: “Hemp and Associates. Lynchings by appointment only.” They turned around. The door they had come from had a mural with a collared nude riding a saddled and bridled tiger. The door next to it had a mural of a saddled tiger sitting on its haunches next to a well-gnawed skeleton, still wearing the collar. What was left of the bridle lay on the ground nearby.
Raindance pushed open the satiated tiger door, and they walked down another corridor, leading to an office with several people working. They didn’t look up as the party walked out the door into another underground corridor, this one lined with shops. They turned to look. The shop they had come out of said: “Doncaster Industrial Linens.”
“Make sure you know where the landmarks are so you can find your way back. It’s a big city.”
“Let’s see you set up the teleport to return, but don’t execute it,” Raindance told Linnet. Linnet got out her cell phone and went though the procedure while Raindance looked on. “Now cancel it,” Raindance told her just before she hit execute.
“Uh, why?” Linnet asked as she dutifully hit the cancel button.
“Do you think you can teleport us back by yourself?”
“The teleport stage with the dartboard.”
“Good, but hold off for a minute,” laughed Raindance. “You still have to coordinate with traffic control.”
“That makes sense,” Linnet said as Larry nodded. Rainbow had a short conversation on her phone, and then hung up. “OK, now set up the teleport again, but indicate you’ll do it yourself.”
Linnet punched in some numbers on her phone, following the menus. “Oh!” she said as she got to the new choice. “I see what you mean.”
“Wait until the light turns red to do the teleport.” A minute later, the light turned yellow, and the speaker said: “Ready to go,” and then “I want to see this one,” in a lower voice, as if the person on the other end had forgotten to turn the mike off. Linnet got another far-away expression on her face. The space around them suddenly looked like there were two places, and then there was only one again, but it didn’t contain the trio of travelers.
“What was that about?” asked Larry.
“Let’s go back to Linnet’s cell, and I’ll discuss it. I suspect Alice will meet us there.”
They walked back, Linnet being careful to trace exactly where she was. Alice and Tina met them in the corridor outside of Linnet’s row of cells. “Let’s take one of the break rooms,” Alice said.
Once they were seated around a table, Alice asked Linnet: “Do you really want to be a ponygirl?”
“Yes,” Linnet said, sounding surprised. “Why?”
“Because since you do, we’ve got a problem. Actually, we’ve got a problem either way, but since you still want to be a ponygirl, let’s not borrow trouble. Let’s look at your training record and see if any of you spot it.
“You’re good on sprints. On anything longer, you’re in the middle of the pack. Not bad, but not championship material.” Linnet nodded. “You’ve got very good form on show steps and on position and movement. You’re quite a bit stronger than average, and you’ve got very good stamina. You’ve got exquisite sensitivity to the reins, which lets you do quite well on the blindfold random obstacle course. Nobody’s tried you on steeplechase or heavy sulky. There’s no obvious reason why you wouldn’t do reasonably well on either but again, you’re not a racer. You’re very sweet, very gentle and very patient.
“What that means is that you’d do very well as a show pony, or as a family’s pony, or for haulage, although the later would be a waste. You wouldn’t make a good racer. You have the patience needed, but you’re probably too sweet to make a good trainer.”
“Huh?” Linnet said, clearly startled at the last statement.
Raindance chuckled. “I think I see where Alice is going. Owners are into control; most of them are fairly heavy handed about it. That group wants a teleporting ponygirl like they want a case of the plague. Some of the others might like the uniqueness factor, as long as you could be trusted to stay put. Given your temperament, I don’t see a major problem there, but they also want a ’girl with a shot at a championship, or a shot at being a senior trainer, or both.”
“To be more specific,” Alice added, “the ones I know of that don’t really care about the visible means of control want racers. There are some owners that are into other ways of showing ponies, but all of those like to know that their property is going to stay put.”
“I do try at the racing,” Linnet said unhappily.
“I know you do,” Tina said. “You’re simply too sweet. Good racers have a competitive streak, and you don’t.”
“And that’s also why you’d never make a senior trainer.” Raindance added. “You just don’t have the attitude that the trainee’s only justification for taking up space in the universe is to let you mold her the way you want, will she, nil she.”
Linnet shuddered delicately.
Raindance laughed. “We’re not quite that bad, but frankly, an effective trainer’s attitude on looking at you is: what can I make out of this one?”
Linnet took a deep breath. “That’s simply not me.”
“We know it isn’t,” Alice said. “Now tell me one. When you decided to become a ponygirl, what did you think a ponygirl did?”
“I thought she’d be just like a horse. I’d be ridden and pull carts.”
“You wanted that?”
“I like being ridden. Feeling Sherlene on my back is way cool, but she’s too small.”
“So your ideal rider would be?”
Linnet blushed. “Him.” She pointed at Larry.
“You’ve got a crush on him already?” Tina asked, amused.
Linnet blushed again.
“You’re what, about 180 pounds?” Alice asked Larry.
“Around that, last I checked,” he said.
“So figure 200 if you’re still in the last growth spurt,” Alice said. She looked at Linnet measuringly. “One of the standard options is a package to adapt a ponygirl so she can be ridden. It looks like you’re big boned enough that he’d be able to ride you safely.”
“Leo and the board will have to agree, but I can’t see any difficulty there given the special circumstances.”
Larry suddenly caught up with the conversation. “I get a ponygirl?” Then the light dawned. “Oh, right. You’re thinking she’d be a help?”
Alice shrugged. “Who knows? It certainly won’t hurt.”
Linnet looked back and forth at them. “What?”
“It may not happen,” Alice said. “If it doesn’t, here’s what we’re going to do.”
Linnet’s face shifted slightly as Alice spoke; Larry didn’t notice but both Raindance and Tina did.
“We’re going to keep you for our internal use,” Alice continued. “There are a number of reasons why we have to do that; the international security people like to know what people like us are doing, and here’s the best place for that.”
“Like us?” Linnet asked, puzzled.
“I guess you don’t know, do you? The reason my nickname is the Sorceress is that I’ve got the same abilities you do.” She left her cup hanging in midair as a demonstration.
“Oh! I’ve never met anyone else who could do that!”
“Well, we’re very rare.” Alice shrugged. “One of the things I like about this place is that I can be out in the open about it, at least if I don’t shove it in people’s faces. The fact is though, even if you didn’t want to be a ponygirl, and didn’t want to have anything more to do with us, we’d be keeping track of you. Being here simplifies things for everyone concerned.
“So, what our keeping you here means is that you’re now a community owned ponygirl. That means you’re one of us; you won’t leave after your indenture is up. When you quit being a ponygirl and join the community as a full member is mostly a matter of agreement.
“You’ll most likely be going to a block association. That means you’ll be working with children a lot. It also means you’ll have a choice about whether to take your days off inside or ourside.”
Linnet nodded. “I like children,” was all she said.
“I suspected you did,” Alice replied. “You’ve got almost the perfect profile for working with kids.
“That, I think, finishes this up,” Alice said, ending the conversation.
Linnet’s face shifted again as Alice shoved her chair back and got up to leave.
“Am I going to have any trouble with you?” Tina asked Linnet.
“Good. Let’s get you back to your cell.”
Raindance gestured at Larry to remain seated. “The best laid plans…” Raindance said as Alice, Tina and Linnet left.
“I thought for a moment I was getting her.”
“You probably are. We played a bit of a mind game on her; she’s already forgotten most of the conversation. She won’t remember until after the auction.”
Larry shook his head. “Why did you do that?”
“Well, partly to protect her if the board doesn’t agree, but mostly so she can go into the community trainee auction without knowing her actual status. We do the same thing with the ’girls that our lottery winners select.”
“I never thought about that.”
“Well, it’s a detail. We tell them they’ve been picked, and give them the right to refuse. Being picked for our own use isn’t in the contract they signed. If they agree, they’re going to live and die here. They’ll come out when nobody wants them as a ponygirl any more. They’ll still get their vacations, and they get to take their days off outside, but as community owned ponygirls they’re part of this community, not outsiders any more.”
Larry thought a moment. “So if the board agrees, I’m going to have to learn how to take care of her, right?”
“Assuming everything goes through, yes. You’re going to need her with you, not in a ponygirl stable somewhere. You don’t have time for the full trainer’s class, and you wouldn’t normally have it for another two years.”
Larry nodded. “That makes sense.”
“What I’m going to suggest is training her as a maid and housekeeper. Since you’re not going to be racing her, she doesn’t need the high intensity workouts.”
“This is all so unexpected!” Larry said. “Well, at least it’s different!”
Raindance laughed as she got up from the table.
“That it is. Let’s set up a training schedule so we can let you loose in the training block without a keeper. Then we can go from there.”
Well, we’ve got the story well started. It’s a long story, and it’s going to zigzag a bit. There’re more twists and turns in the next exciting episode of Engineer!
If you enjoyed this story, please e-mail the author and let him know. He likes to hear from his loyal fans,and it gives him some motivation to keep writing this stuff. Of course, if you're a publisher and you'd like to buy some of these stories, please let him know. The starving author in the garret makes a great story, but it sucks in real life.