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.
In the first new Arizona Community story from my pen in over three years, Larry Thompson is assigned to go out to Engineering school. We discover in short order that one of the soon to graduate ponygirls, Linnet, has the same psi powers as Alice, so she’s assigned to Larry, and Larry has to learn how to care for a ponygirl, in addition to his already heavy study load preparing for engineering school. He starts training with Raindance, and then his older sister, Suzi, puts her foot into it. We get to see Suzi “volunteer” to start her two years as a community trainee ponygirl, and then see Larry put a new ponygirl through orientation. Time passes, and Linnet finishes the second part of her training, and is ready to be sold – or so she thinks.
Larry and his mother discover an odd situation at the auction where they are to pick up Linnet, and they wind up with a community trainee for his sister, Diana. They get the two ’girls situated in their cells with their training team. Linnet learns that she’s going to be working closely with Larry on his project, and Diana gets some practice in hitching a ponygirl to a chariot and driving her.
So now we have a loose end to tie off, and then the story begins to move in new directions.
“How did the day go?” Frank asked his newly returned daughter at dinner.
“Will o’ the Wisp and Linnet are neat!” Diana said enthusiastically. “They let me get her off her stand, and then I drove both of them around an arena. They’re a bit rough together, but they’re learning!”
“You’re thinking of going out with her?” Laura asked with a slight frown.
“I wanted to today, but wiser heads prevailed.”
“The trainer thought she was doing well enough to do the traffic course next,” Larry added. “We’ll do that
“Why not tomorrow?” his sister cut in.
“We’re giving Wisp the day off. She hasn’t had one in a year.”
“Oh.” Diana sat back. “That’s right. I just hope she doesn’t hunt up her mother and rip her head off. Not that she doesn’t deserve it.”
“What do you know that I don’t?” Laura asked her daughter in a deceptively mild tone that didn’t fool anyone.
“Mrs. Threadly told everyone how her daughter was going to be the greatest racer ever. That’s all she talked about. Now the Wisp managed to flunk her trainee experience, and nobody expected her to do that. Even an idiot should have known that the Wisp isn’t a runner. I figured that had to be the problem when Larry said that she wasn’t to be raced.”
“I see. So you think that Jack Turner got taken in?” Frank asked.
“Was that her owner?” Diana asked. “Someone sure did.”
“Jack has got a bit of a mean streak for ponies that don’t put out for him,” Frank said slowly. “Racing them is all he’s interested in, too.”
He paused thoughtfully. “I’m not sure what to do. That’s a touchy situation.”
“I thought you’d done something,” Larry looked at his mother accusingly.
“No, I didn’t know who to go to on something like that. Mrs. Threadly throws quite a bit of weight in the association.”
Larry picked up his phone and punched in a number.
“Who are you calling?” his father asked.
“Raindance. She’s one of the troubleshooters; she should know what should be done.”
“Good thought. You know her, I don’t.”
Larry talked for a while explaining the situation, and then hung up. “Raindance says she needs to check out a few things before she brings the situation up. She needs some proof that Mrs. Threadly swapped the performance summaries. If she finds it, Mrs. Threadly is in real trouble.”
“You can’t do that,” Frank said. “Community trainees wear white.”
“They don’t have to,” she shot back. “I looked it up when I came home.”
“When did this change?” Laura asked.
“I’ll check into it,” her father said. “Larry, what do you think?”
“I don’t know. Raindance didn’t say there were any options
“They are about the same size,” Diana mused. “That’s a great idea! I want to race her, too.”
“I thought you agreed no.”
“Well, I thought again. I don’t care if I win, well, I do, but the Wisp simply isn’t going to. What I want is to learn how to drive her in a race.”
Larry looked at her thoughtfully. “I don’t actually have any objection, as long as Ceecee agrees. Racing might be good for her to get the experience flushed out of her system, but it’s got to be Ceecee’s call. What I don’t want is to mess her over again.”
The Board Room usually met in the executive restaurant on the third floor of the central administration building. The Board used it for meetings on the evenings that they needed it. Tonight, it was set up for a meeting. The circular tables had been arranged around the sides in a loose horseshoe shape, with space behind them for Leo and Alice’s two ponygirl servants to serve refreshments during the meeting.
The two maids had arrived early as the crew rearranged the restaurant for the meeting. Tonight they wore a rather minimal version of a French Maid costume: a bustier exactly like the one they normally wore, except that it did not have all of the rings and buckles of their usual tack, with a short, flouncy black leather skirt and a white apron. They wore toe shoes; that is, shoes that kept their feet in full extension, without heels. They also wore ball gags and their tails.
The other obvious thing was a modification that all of the women in the community had in common. Their breasts stayed as well formed as when they had first graduated to womanhood, and would not sag no matter how long they lived. There had been almost no discussion about making that one available! The men liked the sight, and the women liked the fact that, for the most part, bras had been relegated to the past, along with chastity belts and similar incomprehensible items of apparel.
The room slowly filled as the participants in the night’s meeting arrived. Leo, the Managing Director, took his solitary place at the head table, with those members of the board that had decided to attend this meeting in ones, twos and threes at tables down the sides
“Let’s get started,” Leo announced. “It looks like everyone’s arrived.
“A few days ago, Larry Thompsen reported an anomaly to Raindance that he and his mother had noticed with one of the community trainees. Jack, you had that trainee before, what was your impression
“Well,” Jack Turner said slowly, obviously organizing his thoughts, “everyone knows I’m mostly interested in ponygirls as racers. My last community trainee had come out. I’d have liked to have kept her, but she didn’t want to stay, and I can’t blame her, really.” That got a bit of a chuckle. “So of course I wanted a new racer from the current crop. This one looked like she had good stats out of training, and I remembered her mother praising her to the sky, so I bid on her and got her. I have to say one thing. She tried. Pretty good form, and now that I’ve had the time to think it over, she probably could have gotten
“I don’t think it’s any news to anyone that I don’t handle frustration real well. Maybe Katie could have helped, but I didn’t think of it at the time, and even if I had, I don’t like to admit that I need help with a ponygirl.”
One of the board members spoke up. “I can understand that. What bothers me is that we all know Jack and how he is, and I for one had the occasional thought that there was something wrong. I didn’t follow up because, well, I just don’t like sticking my nose in other people’s business. Thinking it over, I’m not so sure that was a good idea when one of our girl’s community trainee experience was at stake.”
Raindance added: “Several other people I talked to said roughly the same thing. They thought there was something wrong, but either they didn’t want to interfere, or they didn’t know what channels to take that wouldn’t get them in trouble.”
“Now that it’s come up, I can think of a couple of other situations that look a bit peculiar,” one of the other board members said. “I don’t want to go all overboard on this, but I think we should monitor the community trainee experience a bit more than we’re doing now.”
“Anything is more than nothing,” another board member quipped from the other side. There were nods all around.
“I think most of us trust Raindance’s discretion,” Leo said. “We could put her on point on this, with Katie as backup.”
“That’s a good idea,” Jack said. “I expect that if there had been a formal procedure, I’d have taken it.”
“Agreed?” Leo asked. There were nods all around on that.
“We’ve still got more to go on this one, though. Larry?”
“Mother and I were at the last trainee auction to pick up Linnet. I take it everyone knows about that? Well, we cruised around checking out all of the livestock so that we didn’t give Linnet a clue that her auction was rigged, and Mother explained what the black boots meant. I came across Leslie, and there was no way I thought she was bad enough to have failed the experience. The other three, well, stupid is stupid, but while Leslie wasn’t the smartest girl around, there was no way I would describe her as either stupid or uncooperative. So I told Mother that I thought something was wrong.”
“And I couldn’t find the original stat sheet,” Laura added. “The man running the show checked, and we got the original training stats. No way could they have been interpreted as showing potential as a racer.”
Larry continued: “So we bought her for Diana. Diana loved her right away, and renamed her Will o’ the Wisp. Her new training team agrees that she’s about what they’d expect of a reasonable ponygirl of her experience. Nothing outstanding, either good or bad.
“A couple of days later I found out that Mom hadn’t told anyone of our suspicions, so I called Raindance.”
“I agreed that things smelled rancid,” Raindance picked up, “so I started asking around. It seemed that we had two real issues: the original training stat sheet was wrong, and the second one went missing. I could understand the second one going missing, but the wrong one seemed to be a bit deeper, so I asked Pretty Lemon to check the security logs on updates.”
Pretty Lemon leaned forward a bit. “We’ve had a couple of prior cases of someone trying to alter training stats. Both of them were attempts to downgrade the stats so they could get a good ’girl cheaply, but it doesn’t matter. After the first, we started keeping a private log of all updates to them. We pulled the log on Leslie, and didn’t find anything. Security, on the other hand, did.”
“Let’s look at that,” Leo said. The lights dimmed, and an image of the display hall formed on the far wall. The viewpoint panned through the hall, and then stopped. They watched people circulating, looking at the various lots offered for sale. Then a white circle occurred around a woman walking up to one of the ponygirls. She took something out of her handbag, and did something that they couldn’t see because it was obscured by her body. Then she put something back into her handbag. A stat box appeared next to the woman identifying her as Mrs. Threadly, and next to the ponygirl identifying her as Leslie Threadly.
“That was the auction 18 months ago,” Raindance explained. “This next is from the last auction.”
The screen cleared again, with the viewpoint showing the hall, the rows of ponygirls and the prospective bidders circulating. Again, a woman walked up to one of the ponygirls. The analyst’s pencil circled the scene with a white mark, and they watched as she took something and stuffed it into her handbag. Then the image vanished.
A low hum of conversation broke out, as Mrs. Threadly sat at her table, face frozen.
“I wouldn’t say that was exactly prime evidence,” one of the board members said.
“It’s certainly not open and shut, but I think it’s enough to have Alice use her, um, special talents to insist on an explanation,” another one put in.
“Politely, of course,” someone else added. That got a somewhat strained laugh.
“Before I break out the thumbscrews,” Alice said lightly, “maybe Mrs. Threadly would like to say something.”
Everyone turned to look at the woman sitting at the last table. She took a deep breath, and then her face shifted. “I had such hopes for her,” she said softly. “I almost won a championship myself when I was a community trainee, and I had such hopes. I thought if she just had a real good owner that valued championship racers, she’d rise to the challenge. So I switched the stats. What
“I think that’s pretty conclusive,” Leo said into the silence. “Now what do we do about it?”
“I think there are two different issues here,” Raindance said. “Mrs. Threadly, and Will o’ the Wisp.”
“I agree,” one of the board members said. “Since Will o’ the Wisp seems to be doing well with her new owner and training team, let’s take that one under advisement. We don’t have to figure it out tonight.” There were more nods all around. Pretty Lemon couldn’t resist a cynical smile at the board ducking a hard decision. She exchanged looks with Larry, and decided to put it on her list to make sure it got resolved sooner rather than later.
“Katie,” another member asked, “do you have any thoughts?”
“Well,” she said slowly, “I reviewed her file before coming here, and it seems that this is simply an instance of a pattern where she sets unrealistic expectations for someone, and then takes inappropriate actions based on them. This is simply the most egregious example
“Thanks,” another one said, leaning forward and resting on his elbow, finger pointed toward the center, “that tells me one thing. I don’t know what else we want to do, but I don’t want her in a supervisory position. Either at work or in her block association.”
The discussion swirled around for a while, with suggestions ranging from a wrist slap to making her a permanent ponygirl.
Finally, Leo stopped it. “I don’t think we’re getting anywhere, folks. I’d like to propose that we’ve really got to do two things. First off, we’ve got to stop the rot from spreading. That means we’ve got to make a public example. On the other hand, we don’t want to be so draconian that we get a backlash. I think the first suggestion is appropriate. She’s out of any supervisory positions, she no longer has any position with her block association, and she has to see Community Services to resolve this trait. Once Community Services is satisfied, then we can consider ending the prohibitions.”
The various board members thought it over, and then nodded.
“I take it as agreed then,” Leo said. He turned to Laura and Larry. “We usually don’t intervene directly in the block associations. Laura, Larry, would you handle that part of it? Don’t get yourself involved long term, though. We are strongly considering Frank for another promotion, and while I’m not making any commitments, that will take you out of the Residential Dome into the Executive Block.”
“So, how’s Project Larry coming along?” Alice asked Raindance. The two were enjoying a thick German lager in the Alt Heidelberg Rathskeller, a restaurant of very uncertain reputation in the heart of the Main Dome. Part of the uncertainty was due to some puzzlement as to the name and décor, but by and large, that had blended into the background. The rest of the uncertainty revolved around a number of people of vaguely military demeanor and rather obviously different ethnicity from the rest of the community who hung out there, and who didn’t seem to have any function in the larger scheme of things. Nobody seemed to know where they came from, or if they did, they weren’t talking. Since various members of the elite seemed to know who they were, everyone else simply tried to ignore them.
“It’s mostly coming along smoothly. He’s pretty much done with the ponygirl training curriculum we laid out. The training team he’s apprenticing with says he’s doing well, and he’s got both of his ’girls eating out of his hand. That’s literally true with Will o’ the Wisp; I’ve seen her do it. Linnet, I think, prefers to eat a different part of his anatomy.
“That’s good,” Alice said. “Are we going to send Linnet along with him?”
“Yes, Fran has a cell available in her stable. Linnet’s in for a bit of a surprise; Dreammaker won’t put up with any nonsense.”
Alice laughed. “Dreammaker teleports too, doesn’t she? Although I doubt if Linnet will cause any trouble.”
“You know that Lenore is quite happy with his progress through all of the pre-college exams. It looks like we’re going to get him into a top school.”
Alice nodded. “Well, I expected that. Unlike some geniuses, he works at it.”
“I have no way of telling if the main project is going anywhere, though.”
“That’s not your responsibility. So far, he and Linnet have turned up some interesting stuff. Nothing major, but even bits and pieces are useful. Linnet has turned out some minor widgets, which is making me real happy. And they just might have a line on why people react badly to teleportation. No promises yet, but there are some possibilities.”
“We can hope. What about adjusting to life outside?”
“Well, we’ll know about Larry after the CSA compliance course. So far, it looks good. It’s Linnet I’m worried about.”
“I wouldn’t have thought she’d be a problem, after all, she’s from outside.”
“That’s true if all you mean by it is that she isn’t from here. She grew up in a real strange enclave that brought their women up as slaves in all but name. She was never taught to read or write, and she was trained to unquestioning obedience. The people who tried to rehabilitate her taught her to read, but otherwise she barely managed to cope. Laura loves her housekeeping and cooking, but from some indications that’s not so much because she’s Laura’s idea of the perfect housekeeper and cook as that Laura was overworked, and she’d take anything.
“That’s not putting Linnet down, by the way. She’s more than adequate as a cook and housekeeper. It’s just that she does things the way she learned when she was growing up, and she can’t cope with suggestions to do it differently. We need to retrain her.”
“If she’s that inflexible, why is she working out on Larry’s project?” Alice asked.
“She didn’t learn that in her home commune. What it boils down to is that anything she learned while growing up seems to be cast in concrete, while anything she learned later she can manage. I’ll have to admit that I don’t know what to do about it.”
“There’s no reason you should. You more than pull your weight as a senior trainer, outside liaison and general troubleshooter, but there’s no reason you should know general shrink work. Mostly, that’s my job.
“What about slave girl training?” Alice continued.
“I’m afraid I’ve been putting it off; given her background, I don’t know how she would react.”
“I’ll check into that aspect. There are some possibilities. In the best case, Linnet the slave girl wouldn’t have the limitations she was imprinted with, the same way Linnet the ponygirl doesn’t seem to be limited by her upbringing.”
“So, what brings you here?” Katie asked Larry as he settled into the comfortable client chair in her office. This time, Larry reflected, was quite different. Nobody was complaining about him, and the Sorceress wasn’t present, either.
“I’m worried about Linnet.”
Katie frowned in puzzlement. “That’s what your note said. There are three Linnets, and I don’t understand why you’d be involved with any of them.”
“Linnet’s my ponygirl,” he explained.
Katie shook her head. “Talk about assumptions! That’s not a normal name for a ponygirl, and we usually don’t deal with them anyway. The senior trainers handle them quite well.” She turned to her terminal and tapped in a query, and then she spent a few moments studying the results.
“A ha! She’s the one that teleports! I remember her now, but I thought Alice was monitoring the situation.” She leaned back. “Tell me … everything.”
Larry spent a few minutes outlining the situation. Finally, Katie shifted her position.
“Let’s see if I understand. There are several issues. First,” she grinned, “a teleporting ponygirl is troubling the councils of the small and the silly. Not to mention the Board. We’re not, however, picking up anything serious brewing; it’s just the usual rumors flying around and dying down when nothing happens.
“The bigger issue from your point of view is that she’s presenting some contradictions you’re having a hard time resolving. She seems to be absolutely inflexible on how she does housework, but she’s demonstrating a great deal of flexibility as a ponygirl and also on your project.”
“Yes,” Larry said. “Neither Ceecee nor Raindance have any concerns about her as a ponygirl. And both Kali and Edie love working with her.
“The trouble with the project is that I don’t know how long she’s going to be able to keep contributing. I’m beginning to pick up on the clairvoyance and telekinesis, and while she’s willing, she simply doesn’t have the background for the technical end of things. She’s also not showing a great deal of interest, although she tries.”
“And you’re bothered by what dropping her would do,” Katie said. “I can understand your concern there.”
“I’m also bothered about the housework. It’s beginning to sink in that a good job is whatever her owner wants, and that what she thinks is important may not be what her owner thinks is important. But that seems like it might shake up how she functions as a ponygirl.”
“Well, maybe,” Katie said. “How much do you know of her background?”
“I know that she was raised in some kind of strange commune that the authorities shut down, and she had a lot of trouble coping afterwards.”
“There’s a book out on it: Children of the SlaveGirl Commune. I didn’t know until just now that she was one of them; Security tracked her back after they found out she could teleport. In fact, she’s mentioned specifically in the book. They changed her name from Bess to Donna of course, but Security cracked their notes. Even without it, she’s identifiable if you know some of the details.”
“I take it I should read it,” Larry said.
“It probably wouldn’t hurt, but there isn’t all that much there you can do anything about.
“I want to hedge what I’m going to say, because no matter how well you do trying to predict what someone will do, they’re going to surprise you sooner or later. That said, I don’t expect that increasing her flexibility around housework is going to impact her desire to be a ponygirl, at least in the short term.”
Larry raised his eyebrows in skepticism.
Katie chuckled. “You’re better at the people business than most technical wizards, but it’s not your field. You’re ripping up the basis of the reality she grew up with, and to be crude about it, no matter how badly it sucked, it’s a familiar reality she can retreat to whenever things get too stressful. As a ponygirl, she’s got a recognized place in the community, even though it’s on the bottom; she’s got a support team that shows a genuine interest in her, even though it’s professional rather than personal; and she’s got an owner that shows quite a bit of interest in what she can do for him as a ponygirl. In other words, she’s got her survival and security needs met, so that’s now another familiar reality she’s got as an anchor, and in a lot of ways it’s a better one than she grew up with. I seriously doubt that she’s going to want to leave that behind until she’s got another platform firmly under her.
“If I’m reading the situation correctly, that’s why the rehabilitation people are having such a hard time. They can’t provide the same level of security when they eventually shove them out into the real world, so they’re resisting. That’s where you’re going to run into the problem.”
“I’ll take your word for it, but I don’t see it.”
“Well, you wouldn’t. We slide by some of the requirements of the Consensual Slave Act
“It may turn out that when all is said and done, she wants to stay being a ponygirl. If I remember the book correctly, that’s a strong possibility. If the issue doesn’t come up by itself, I’d suggest waiting until you’re done with engineering school to bring it up.”
“Why do I need to do anything?”
“You’re going to be taking her along, right?” Larry nodded. “You’re outside. That means you’ll be mixing with people, and some of them are going to think it’s a bit peculiar if she isn’t at least working on a career path for after she ends the indenture. It’s not really her choice, either; you’re the one with the legal obligation.
“In fact,” she said as she tapped in another query, “I’d recommend … Oh, good. I see they’ve got you set up for the owner’s course on the CSA at Fran Donaldson’s. Linnet’s going to be surprised.”
“They’ve got her scheduled for a slave maid course at the same time. It looks like they’re still working out the details, which is why they haven’t told you yet. I’d suggest you keep working on the flexibility.”
“I’ll do that,” Larry said. “Let’s see. We haven’t covered her participation in the project yet.”
“Well, if she doesn’t show any interest in learning the technical detail, then either set up things she can do that don’t require it, or make it a peripheral activity. As long as she’s got an outlet for her psychic talents as a ponygirl and a slave maid, it probably won’t matter, at least in the short run.”
“I can see that.”
“Good. There’s one more thing that occurs to me,” Katie shifted to a new subject. “If you’re willing, we may be able to put the teleportation issue to rest.”
“How? That’s got me baffled.”
“It’s an issue because people don’t know what to expect. If she was a familiar figure, the issue would simply vanish. So while I hate to add anything more to your schedule, I’d like you to consider using her in a magic show.”
“A magic show?” Larry said, puzzled. “Oh! She did put on a nice show getting off of her stand that one time. You think something like that?”
“Exactly. It’s not like we’re drowning in entertainment, after all.”
“The Wolf and Ponygirl Show isn’t that bad,” Larry said.
“It’s quite good, actually. But it goes downhill from there.”
“True. We’ve got a theater arts teacher, don’t we?”
“Yes. Let’s make an appointment for you, and see how it goes.”
“OK.” Larry looked aghast at what had just happened to his already overloaded schedule.
“I think we’re done,” Katie said.
“I think so too. Thanks.” Larry got up to leave.
“Well,” she said slowly, “I’m having a bit of trouble helping Larry on his projects, and I think that his mother isn’t really happy with the way I’m doing housework. Ceecee suggested I see you about it; I’m not entirely sure why though.”
“I can see you’re puzzled about where I fit in,” Katie answered her. “Let me put you into the picture. Normally we wouldn’t tell an outside ponygirl this until she was ready to come out, but you’re a special case.”
“The senior trainers handle whatever a
“That’s Alice?” Linnet asked.
“Yes. I take it you’ve met her already. Our job is to help with difficulties with the rest of the community. The thing to know is that we’re quite similar to the senior trainers in a number of ways, but in others we’re very different. We like to facilitate people finding their own solutions rather than imposing them.”
Linnet looked a question at her.
“Well, to bring it down to earth, if you’ve got a problem with something, the senior trainers will usually train you in what they want you to do to solve it. We take a different approach: we provide resources so that our clients can solve it themselves. We try to keep ourselves out of the actual solution. It works better that way. Our clients generally know a great deal more about their situation than we do; their solutions are usually better than anything we could design.
“What actually happens is that we do some things that you most likely won’t notice, and then over the next couple of weeks you’ll find that how you look at things changes so that you’ll see ways of handling whatever it was that was bothering you. In other words, they’ll be your solutions, not mine.”
Linnet nodded doubtfully.
“Well, you’ll see how it works if you pay attention. Let’s get down to it.”
“So you’re basically having trouble with your job assignment?”
“OK. Tell me about what Larry and Laura want you to do that you can’t seem to do to their satisfaction.”
They talked for a while as Katie made encouraging noises, and occasionally asked questions. Eventually, they ran down.
“Let’s see if I can summarize it,” Katie said. “The basic problem seems to be that both of them are asking you to do things differently than you were taught in your commune. Laura seems to be easier; in fact I think you’re ready to resolve it on your own.”
“I think so,” Linnet said slowly. “It’s just that I never thought there were different ways of cleaning house or cooking!”
“Well,” Katie said as she shrugged, “everyone I know does it a bit differently. Right now, your job is to keep Laura satisfied. You’re not going to be able to let yourself do things by habit until you discover what it is she actually wants and train yourself to deliver that. Then when you go off with Larry next year, he’s probably going to have different priorities. Men do, you know.” She grinned and Linnet grinned back. “You’re well on your way to resolving that conundrum yourself.” She watched for the subtle reactions that told her the change process had taken hold, and nodded when she saw them.
“Now, the difficulty with Larry is different. When you grew up, you were taught to obey anything a man told you to do, right?”
“Most of what they told you to do was pretty routine, though, wasn’t it?”
“I’d say so,” Linnet agreed.
“And that’s the root of the problem. Larry doesn’t need you to learn engineering; that’s his job. What he needs you to learn is implementation. That is, take what he’s invented and do whatever needs to be done to make it work in the real world. That’s not going to be routine.”
Linnet’s eyes widened as her mouth formed an O of surprise. “I never thought of that!”
“Well, it’s not always obvious, especially since your commune specialized in relatively primitive farming techniques. Different fields have different ways of dividing up responsibilities. Engineering works best when design and implementation are
Linnet’s eyes glazed over as she started to
“Well, it looks like we’re done for today,” Katie told her. “Tell both Larry and your team leader that you need extra stand time to let this process, and we’ll set up another appointment for next week. After that I think Ceecee can handle it.”
Katie looked after her as she left, and then made some notes as she thought over the session. Breaking up the fixed habit patterns without going too far was going to be interesting, and she definitely needed a challenge.
“So,” Professor McBreen asked Larry, “what do you expect to get out of Engineering school, other than a degree, of course.”
“I’m interested in automated manufacturing. Specifically, the organization I’m associated with has some, let’s say proprietary, technology that they’re interested in applying in an automated manufacturing application.”
“I got the chapter and verse on why I wasn’t to inquire further into what you mean by proprietary technology,” Angus McBreen said. “Can’t say I like the idea of knowledge being suppressed like that, but sometimes there are reasons. What really concerns me is that you come from a school system that isn’t on record, so we don’t have any idea of the quality of your background. I know you passed all of the tests very well; mostly in the top five percent. That’s good, but there’s still a lot of background that the tests don’t cover.
“So I’m just going to quiz you for a while to get a feel for where your strong and weak points are. Your record shows you’ve taken calculus. Why is the limit theorem important?”
They talked for a solid hour. At the end, Professor McBreen sat back.
“Well, I have to say I’m more impressed than I expected to be. There are a few weak points, of course.” He paused and wrote down a list of topics. “Here’re some things to study before you start classes. You should be able to do it in the next month, easily. Don’t worry about tests; your performance shows you’ve got good study habits and a commitment to understanding what you’re studying.
“That’s all I’ve got, and welcome to the Engineering School. You should do well. You’ll need to hurry to get to your next appointment with Student Services. Don’t let them get to you.”
Student Services, Larry thought to himself, seemed to come from the same design mold as Community Services. The difference was that the secretary in Community Services was both competent and sexy. This one seemed to be neither. Well, he told himself, his standards for sexy were undoubtedly way too high for the current environment.
“Larry Thompsen?” she asked, fiddling with her keyboard. After a couple of tries, she seemed to find his record. “Oh, right. Ms. Finch is expecting you. Go right in.”
“Uh. Which door?” he asked, as the row of offices had numbers, but no names.
“Third from the left,” she said.
Ms. Finch turned out to be a reasonably young brunette with loose shoulder length hair, dressed in what looked like a conservative skirt and jacket ensemble. At least, the top of what could be a conservative skirt and jacket ensemble could be seen above her desk; she could have been wearing a pantsuit, or even something interesting, although Larry kind of doubted it. Katie Steven’s office made you feel welcome, even if it was frequently occupied by people he’d prefer not to see quite so often. This one seemed set up to put the visitor in his place, whether or not it was a place he wanted to be.
He closed the door behind himself and plopped down in one of the chairs, studiously ignoring the book lying prominently on her desk. “I believe we have an appointment,” he said professionally.
“If you’re Larry Thompsen, we do,” she responded. He nodded. “It’s not often we get a prospective student where we don’t know any background,” she started. “I take it you come from a closed community.”
“You could say that,” he said. “We do get a few in, and some of our people do travel, but mostly we tend to stay at home and mind our business. On the other hand, we do get all the entertainment shows from all over. News, sitcoms, adult stuff, things like that. And our library stays up to date. The thing is, most of it doesn’t mean anything to us. It might as well be from another planet.”
“People from closed communities tend to be more than a bit bewildered when they see modern society,” she continued as if he hadn’t said anything. “We need to talk about that.”
“Well, between our outsiders, our travelers, and our contacts, I think we’ve got a pretty good introduction to how things work out here. Besides which, I’ve been spending time outside for the last year, getting familiar with society.”
“That’s good,” she said brightly. “Now that you’re actually going to be living here, though, you might have some trouble with our sexual mores. I’d like to discuss that with you.”
“I might have some trouble getting laid,” he said, deadpan. “This society is too sexually repressive for my taste.”
“People from sexually repressive…” she dribbled off as what he had said suddenly sunk in.
“People do call us Babylon by the Lake, after all.”
Larry shrugged. “I reviewed a typical high school curriculum. Sex Ed made me laugh. Let me give you the outline of our course. We start out with male and female sexual anatomy in some detail, then we study the evolutionary roots of instinctive sexual behavior, and go on to the ways that causes trouble in most modern societies. Then we practice on each other until we’ve got how to please a sexual partner down, and not incidentally get a good idea why sexual pleasure isn’t adequate as the sole foundation for other kinds of relationship. Then we do a unit on kinky sex and unusual sexualities, and finish up by studying the evolutionary roots of other relationship patterns, and how that works out in our rather peculiar society as well as in other societies.”
He noticed her eyes had glazed over. “That’s a rather stiff course for high school.”
“It is, isn’t it,” he agreed. “For a fact, most of the kids don’t absorb the academic stuff in any detail. They’re too busy fucking like mink. They do get the high points, and enough idea of trouble spots that they know when to head for the counselors in Community Services.”
She took a deep breath and gathered her thoughts. “I noticed you didn’t cover contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.”
“Well, we’ve got an incredibly good medical system, so STD’s simply aren’t a problem. We don’t worry about contraception because our women can’t conceive without a license from Community Services, and our men couldn’t fertilize them even if they could.”
“No method of contraception is foolproof unless you pay attention,” the counselor said.
“Ours is,” Larry told her. “I said can’t, not aren’t allowed to. My sperm isn’t viable until Community Services picks whoever they’re going to mate me to.”
“That’s … strange,” she said, obviously flustered by the curve he’d just introduced. “Mate you to? I wouldn’t touch that one with a ten foot pole.”
Larry briefly considered offering her an eleven foot pole, and then regretfully discarded the notion.
“How does the contraception work?” she asked, heading for a safe subject.
“All I know is what they tell us. The reasons are fairly obvious, though. We’ve got a very limited amount of space, so we have to tightly control the number of children each year. As far as the rest? When the birth control program went in, there were so many remarks about stud farms and breeding programs that they
She shook her head in disbelief. “What about STD’s?”
“We’ve got a number of, let’s say, unusual contacts. One is with the organization that provides STD control for sex workers. As long as we pay the bill, it’s impossible for me to contract one, let alone pass it to someone else.”
“There’ve been rumors about that floating around for years,” she said thoughtfully. “Nobody I know of can figure out how it works. Do you know?”
“No, and I don’t want to,” he replied mendaciously. “My briefing is quite clear that the vendor doesn’t always keep to the strict letter of the law in protecting their intellectual property.”
She sighed. “I must admit to being at a loss about how we can help you adjust.”
“Well, this book did remind me of one issue where you might be able to help.” He gave the copy of Children of the SlaveGirl Commune a brief spin.
“Where did you come across that?” she asked, surprised.
“Katie Stevens, that’s my counselor in Community Services, recommended it when I came to her with some concerns about Linnet.”
“Is she going to be a student here?”
“No, she’s my maid. Full term unrestricted indenture with livestock endorsement.”
“Indentures I understand, but I’ve never heard of a livestock endorsement.”
“Ponygirl, to be precise. She’s got livestock tags in her ears instead of the collar that’s otherwise required. I ride her quite a bit: we both like it.”
Ms. Finch’s eyes looked like they were about to glaze over again. Then she rallied.
“That sounds like a couple of the campus kink groups do something similar, but I wouldn’t think it was possible to ride a girl.”
“I doubt if they do that very much,” he agreed. “As I said, we’ve got some interesting contacts. Leprechaun Genetics has a package for adapting a ponygirl so she can be ridden. That’s not, rather obviously, in their standard catalog. Linnet asked for it specifically when I acquired her.”
“Why would she do that?”
“She’s from there,” he poked at the book again. “She doesn’t talk about it much, but one of the things she did say was that she always envied the horses. She thought they got treated a lot better than she did, and she wanted to become one. That’s why she jumped at the chance to become a ponygirl. I’ve never asked about how she found out about ponygirls, but she did say that being ridden was part of her concept of becoming a horse.”
Ms. Finch shook her head. “That’s amazing. It’s just as well we’re not supposed to talk about our students
“That’s what we call the gay and lesbian area; the trefoil area is a private name for the section that caters to transsexuals and the kink crowd. I also need to get you an introduction to a couple of the BDSM organizations if you want to do anything organized with your ponygirl. That might be a bit of a problem for you though. That area is very high in gays and lesbians. How are you on that?”
Larry looked thoughtful. “I may have to talk to my counselor in Community Services about it. I shouldn’t have a problem, but it does sound like I need to get out in front of it if there is. All of our men are strictly heterosexual, and all of our women are bisexual. I don’t make passes at women that don’t show some level of interest.”
“I’d think you’d have some gays and lesbians.”
“We used to. The way I hear it, we don’t have enough kids in any year group for there to always be a few. Some years there weren’t any, some years there were one or two. That simply isn’t enough to form a viable mixture, so the powers that be contracted with Leprechaun Genetics to eliminate the problem before it got a chance to bite.”
She shook her head in mild disbelief. “I suppose it makes sense, as long as you’re not opposed to other males being gay. But what possessed you to turn all of your women bisexual? The percentage in the general population is only around ten to twenty percent, and most of those prefer males most of the time.”
She shook her head again. “Well, I think that wraps up what we need to discuss. I hope it works out for you.”
Well, we’ve tied up one loose end (although it comes up again a bit later – quite a bit later), and gotten Larry and Linnet out of the caverns to engineering school. We can’t get to a new environment without some new challenges, now can we? Trot on to the next exciting episode of Engineer to find out.
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