Groggy eyes. Heavy, as if they were weighted down. Or as if my eyes had gone on strike and were refusing to open. I flailed my hoof in front of my face blindly, searching for the cause of the sound: a small alarm clock next to my bed.
As my brain was working just as well as my eyes were, I remained blissfully ignorant of the simple fact that I did not own an alarm clock until I had—by some strange luck—managed to hit the correct button to stop the noise.
Strike over, my eyes bulged open to a strange scenery as I bulged upward revealing—
“What the—Where are my clothes?!” I shouted. “Where the yiff am I?!”
Using the blanket to cover my chest and protect the shred of dignity—and modesty—still intact, I looked around. The room wasn’t all that dissimilar to my own, back at the stable, but it didn’t have that “lived-in” essence of a real room, and my heart fluttered in fear. I had been taken to a strange house—was it a house? I couldn’t be sure—and placed in a strange bed. And me without my clothes!
“Hello?” I called out, and a small, slightly robotic female voice responded almost immediately.
“Hello, miss Noetis, and welcome to the Foundation for the Study of Gifted Females, or FSGF. You have been taken, as per your request, on the morning of your sixteenth birthday to have your unique abilities studied to further furkind’s understanding of the recent uprise in—“
“As per my request?!” I screeched. “I have no idea what this place even is! What do you mean, unique abilities?! My wings aren’t that unique!”
“Please refrain from asking questions until the end of the orientation,” the disembodied voice responded simply. “As I was saying, you are going to be studied so that all may better understand why recently furs born are being given special talents by the Powers That Be. I cannot tell you what your abilities are—I am not programmed with such information—but I can tell you it has nothing to do with your wings. I would like to begin by asking you a few questions.”
“If I answer, will I get out of here faster?”
I sighed, sitting up a bit. I had nothing to be ashamed of from a robot. “Fine,” I agreed after a moment of consideration. My will for freedom—and my curiosity to find out why I was here—was far stronger than my secretive nature.
“I appreciate your cooperation, Miss Noetis. Species?”
“Very good. Age?”
“You know my age.”
Once again, I sigh was forced out of my throat. “Sixteen, today.” Happy sweet sixteen, I thought to myself, stuck in a room, naked, with a robot asking redundant questions!
“Thank you. Mateship status?”
“If I’m sixteen and have a mate, there’s a serious problem,” I snapped tritely, but then added, “Single,” lest the question be asked again. It irked me to have things repeated.
“I see. Place of origin?”
I tensed. “How ‘bout I not…answer that…?” I mumbled, shifting uncomfortably in the bed.
“Error. Subject shows reluctance to reply. “HowboutInotanswerthat is not a valid location.” So much for Artificial Intelligence—it was obvious this thing wasn’t as smart as it first seemed to be.
“I’m not going to answer that question, cyfur,” I retorted, adding an insult to the end, though I wasn’t sure if insults were even effective on robots. This one did not seem phased however.
“Warning. Invalid Place of Origin data leads to the subject being detained, indefinitely.”
“What! How about I tear you to bits of circuitry, you hunk of lifeless scrap?!”
“Impossible. Your hooves are not tangible, merely a representation built in a collaborative effort of your mind and my creators to make this setting more familiar. Your actual body is elsewhere.”
Oh, because being naked in a strange room, arguing with a robot about whether or not I could break it is totally familiar!
“Elsewhere in…your Place of Origin,” the voice amended. “Now, Place of Origin?”
“Error. Nevada is not a valid place of origin.”
“What! I was born there!”
There was a silence for a moment, and the robotic sounds announced, “Rewording: Where did your soul originate?”
“My s—uhhhh, Heaven?”
“Place of Origin confirmed. Subject ‘Erren Noetis’ will be returned to place ‘Heaven’ once final tests are complete.”
And suddenly, I knew what real fear was.