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Gale Dribble Lands in Equestria 2.0
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Hello all. I've been intermittently working on a rewrite/continuation of an old green I was writing a long, long time ago, and I've decided that now is as good a time as any to start posting what I have. It was originally posted in May of 2018, in response to a prompt posted by another anon. The premise was a HiE scenario, in which Dale Gribble from King of the Hill was isekaied somehow into Equestria. It was fairly popular at the time, and I wound up writing quite a bit. I completed an entire story arc, and had a second arc that I planned on doing eventually. However, I kept putting it off, and well...time makes fools of us all. Eventually the thread 404'd and was forgotten.

I'm not sure how many people from that era are still around who would be interested in reading this, but every now and then I'll get asked about it, and I've been promising this rewrite for years now. A draft of the first few chapters was posted a few months ago in the writing thread, but I'm not sure how many people actually noticed.

In any case, I feel like it's better to give this story its own dedicated thread, as opposed to dumping massive amounts of text into the writing general. This will eventually end up on fimfiction, but since it originated on this site I feel like I would rather give you guys the first shot at reading it.

The current working title for this story is:
A Pocketful of Sand

Here is the archive of the original green:

While I feel like I've more or less got it hammered into a form fit for human consumption, this is still basically a work in progress. Comments/notes/criticism is appreciated. Also, as is the case with the rest of my threads, if my endless tripfagging and walls of text start getting annoying, feel free to tell me I'm a faggot, and I will stop posting, or move this to a more appropriate containment thread.

1: The Grassy Knoll

My head was pounding. There was a smell of wild grass and flowers. Dew was soaking into my jumpsuit. I opened my eyes and squinted into bright sunlight.


The last thing I could remember was the house I was fumigating. I had been tracking blatella germanica, the German cockroach, one of the most cunning creatures known to man. For hours our game of cat and roach had gone on, until finally I had the bastard cornered in the cellar. We faced off. I remember he'd waved his antennae in defiance, mocking me to the last. I admired his courage. I pulled the trigger of my spray wand and let him have it. Poison spewed forth, a thick miasma of toxic death, slowly filling up the basement. I could remember my head swimming, it had been getting harder to think straight. I'd turned to the side...I remembered seeing my reflection in a mirror...

My head throbbed again. The poison. That had to be it. I must have passed out from the fumes. It's happened before. Damn crafty roaches, always hiding in unventilated basements.

How did I get outside, though?

I sat up groggily. I was alone on a grassy knoll. Gentle hills rolling off in all directions, covered in wild grasses and flowers. There was no sign of the house, or of civilization of any kind. The sky was a deep blue, without the usual haze of pollution. This didn't look like any part of Arlen I'd ever seen.

I must be miles out in the country. Where am I? How did I get here?

I felt a chill run down my spine. What if it hadn't been an accident? What if that basement had been left unventilated on purpose? Whoever did this must have waited until I'd passed out, and then dragged me out to this meadow and left me for dead.

"The question is who," I said aloud. "And why?"

Was the roach behind it? No, that couldn't be. Blatella germanica was crafty to be sure, but not crafty enough to pull off something like this. Plus, there was the size difference. No, whoever did this had to be large enough and strong enough to carry a full-grown man. But what if the cockroach had an accomplice?

"Yes, it all makes sense..." I mused.

The roach's job had been to create a diversion. He would lure me down to the basement, where I would have no choice but to use poison. His partner would have sealed up the windows in advance. Then, when I'd passed out from the fumes--

I rose slowly to my feet, and took a closer look at my surroundings. The terrain was completely unfamiliar; as far as I could tell, I was in the middle of nowhere. I might have left Texas entirely. Somebody had wanted to get me out of the way, that much was certain, and they had gone to a lot of trouble to do it.

"So the real question is: who stands to gain from my disappearance?"

The Federal government was the obvious answer. Maybe a little too obvious. They had to know that I was getting close, but this was a bold move even for them. There had to be other parties involved.

I reached into the pocket of my jumpsuit, and frowned.

That's odd. Where are my smokes?

I felt in the other pockets. Nothing. I'd bought a whole carton the other day, and I knew for certain I'd had at least half a pack on me when I entered the house.

I felt my stomach tighten. The situation was even more dire than I'd thought. The Federal government, in collaboration with a roach and possibly other unknown parties, had conspired to maroon me in an unknown location without smokes. I could feel the early onset of panic: sweat breaking out on my forehead... heart palpitations... tunnel vision...

Calm down Gribble, you're trained for this...

I began to perform an ancient Indian breathing technique I'd learned from my friend John Redcorn. Deep breaths, in and out, in and out. In and out. Over and over again. John Redcorn said he used that technique on my wife all the time, and it always calmed her down. In and out. In and out. Slowly, steadily, I brought myself back from the precipice.

I stared out at the landscape once again. It was a warm, quiet afternoon. A light breeze carried the scent of wildflowers and far-off pine trees. It was a nice place here, quiet and tranquil. And yet, somewhere out there lurked a malevolent entity, an entity that had brought me to this place for some foul purpose, and deprived me of my smokes...

"Show yourself, you coward!!" I shouted, shaking my fist at the air.

"Uh...are you talking to me?"

I wheeled around at the sound of a young, feminine voice. I must still have been woozy from the poison, otherwise nobody could have gotten the drop on Dale Alvin Gribble. I looked around in confusion for the source of the voice, but could find no one. Was this some kind of telepathy? Were the government agents speaking directly into my mind?


The voice came again. This time I looked down. I noticed a tiny white horse standing in the grass, looking up at me with a confused expression.

She was the strangest-looking horse I'd ever seen. On all four legs she barely stood as high as my knee. Her coat was white, but her mane and tail were pink and purple, done up in flowing curls. For some reason, looking at her made me think of a marshmallow. A small white horn protruded from the center of her forehead, possibly of alien origin.

She stared up at me, her enormous green eyes curious but unafraid. I stared back. Several uncomfortable seconds passed.

"Uh, my name's Sweetie Belle," she said finally. "What's yours?"

So, the horse can speak English. Interesting...

The horse was an extraterrestrial; there was no doubt about that much. Could she have been involved in my abduction? Looking at her, it seemed unlikely. But if there's one thing I've learned from my years as a professional bounty hunter, it's that you should never turn your back on a talking horse. Suddenly, I realized that she'd just asked me a question.

"My name is--"

I cut myself off. Until I knew more about what was happening, I needed to keep my true identity a secret.

"Shackleford. Rusty."

The little horse raised a skeptical eyebrow.

"Shackleford? That's kind of a weird name."

She trotted a small circle around me, looking me up and down. Either she'd never seen an Earth man before, or she was looking for a place to implant a microchip. Or possibly a probe. Until I knew which it was, it was best to be on my guard.

"You don't look like a pony," she continued. "What are you exactly?"

So, she's a pony eh? Interesting...

"The pony is a subspecies of the equine," I mused out loud, stroking my chin. "Known for its diminuitve stature."

"Uh... yeah."

This exchange was followed by a long bit of awkward silence. I continued to stroke my chin and muse. A pony. I was pretty certain that ponies couldn't talk. At least... not on Earth. Could the same type of creature have evolved simultaneously on an alien world, and learned to speak English somehow?

The rabbit hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper...

Instinctively, I reached into my jumpsuit pocket, then remembered that my smokes were gone. I felt that twinge of anxiety creeping up on me again. If I didn't get some nicotine soon, this could go south fast...

I realized the pony was still watching me.

"Say, uh... Sweetie Belle, was it?"


"Do you know where I could buy some smokes around here?"

She wrinkled her nose in confusion.


"Yeah, you know, puff puff?" I held two fingers to my lips and pantomimed smoking a cigarette.

The horse stared blankly back at me.

"Cigarettes? Manitoba?"

I made the pantomime smoking gesture again. Sweetie Belle cocked her head to one side and raised an eyebrow.

"You're really weird," she said.

She glanced over her shoulder. For the first time, I noticed the outline of a few buildings in the distance. There must be some kind of civilization nearby.

"Somepony in town might know what you're talking about," Sweetie Belle continued. "Do you live near Ponyville?"

Now it was my turn to raise an eyebrow.


I couldn't say I'd ever heard of the place. I knew there was a petting zoo in McMaynerbury called Ponyland, but somehow I didn't think that's what she was talking about.

"Is that anywhere near Arlen?" I asked carefully.

"Arlen? Um, I'm not sure. I don't think I know where that is."

"Arlen, Texas?"

"Texas? Is that in Equestria?"


Slowly, it began to dawn on me that I might be even further from home than I'd first thought. Maybe even as far as Oklahoma.

"I think... I may be lost," I said, slowly and carefully.

Sweetie Belle's face brightened.

"Oh, well, that's okay! I didn't think you looked like you were from around here. I can show you the way to Ponyville, if you want."

I gave the little pony one last suspicious appraisal, and decided to trust her for the time being.

"Alright," I said.

"Come on," she continued. "We'll go back to my clubhouse first. My friends might know about... what was that thing you wanted again?"

"Smokes?" I asked hopefully.

"Yeah, that. Anyway, my friends might know where you could find some."

"Okey dokey."

The little pony turned and trotted off through the grass, and I fell into step behind her.
Oooooh. Looking forward to read the full unredacted rewrite of Gale "Gribble" Dribble in Equestria
Enjoying it so far as I did back in 2018
:sweetie-belle: / 10
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2: Planet of the Ponies

Gribble's Log
Date: Unknown
Location: Unknown
Time: Approximately 1600 hours

With each passing moment, my situation grows more dire. I have decided to keep a journal to record my thoughts. If you are reading this, I have no doubt been taken prisoner and/or killed. Please deliver this notebook to the Arlen Gun Club so that they may record my exploits for posterity, or failing that, to Mr. Hank R. Hill of Rainy Street. Arlen, TX. Earth. Milky Way Galaxy.

If you are an agent of the United States government, this journal is not about anything important. Please disregard everything it contains.

It has now been nearly 60 minutes since my last smoke. Already I can feel the madness taking hold. Soon I will be incapacitated beyond rational thought. It is only due to my extensive training as a licensed professional bounty hunter that I have managed to so far remain calm.

The small equine creature that greeted me has taken me back to her lair, a crudely constructed treehouse, where I was introduced to two creatures of the same species. The little yellow one calls herself "Apple Bloom," and her friend is "Scootaloo." The possibility that these may be assigned codenames has not escaped me.

I am a stranger in a strange land. I have seen no familiar landmarks, and no sign of human activity. My current location is unknown, though I now believe that I have left Earth entirely. Alien abduction is the most likely explanation, though I shouldn't rule out CIA wormhole technology.

Fortunately, my training allows me to project the appearance of perfect nonchalance. I don't think my tiny horse companions suspect that anything is amiss...

"What's he writin' about?" one of the little ponies, the one called Apple Bloom, whispered to Sweetie Belle. Sweetie shrugged helplessly.

"I don't know," she whispered back. "It looks important, though."

I ignored them both and continued scribbling furiously into my notebook. I could feel the early stages of nicotine madness coming on, and I knew I didn't have much time. Wherever I was, I knew that I might not make it out of this alive. I had to record my thoughts and observations while I still could.

"He's sweating an awful lot," observed a third pony, the little orange one with wings. Scootaloo. Sweetie Belle said nothing, but kept watching me with a concerned expression on her face.

"Uh, Mr. Rusty?" said Apple Bloom hesitantly. "Are you okay?"

I glared suspiciously at the three ponies for a moment, cupped a hand over the page so they couldn't read it, and continued scribbling:

These pony creatures resemble no form of extraterrestrial life with which I am familiar, and other than lost time, I have experienced no phenomena consistent with abduction. Also unusual is that these "ponies" have mastered the English language, and seem to possess technology similar to ours.

My hands were beginning to twitch uncontrollably; it was all I could do to keep my pen straight. I could feel a familiar queasiness in my stomach. My head was swimming. I noticed that Scootaloo was watching my movements closely. I felt the cold icy fingers of paranoia creeping up my spine. What was it about this one that was bothering me?

Suddenly, I remembered something I'd noticed earlier, and wrote hastily in my journal:

Observed that "Scootaloo" arrived at the treehouse on a scooter similar to the kind an Earth child might use. She was also wearing a crash helmet. Why would a race of four-legged creatures develop a mode of transport that would be so incredibly awkward for them to use? Why would a pony with wings need to use a scooter to get around in the first place? How did she get that helmet on? How did she get it off? I have more questions than answers.

Have I truly left Earth, as I suspect? Or have I traveled through time to some grim distant future, in which hyper-evolved ponies have risen up and slain their former masters?

Or, what if it's even simpler than that? What if I never left Arlen, but instead Arlen was invaded and rapidly terraformed by invaders from some far-off Planet of the Ponies?

The dizziness and nausea were getting worse. It was getting harder and harder to think. My hand was by now shaking uncontrollably, and I realized that writing was a wasted effort. I stuffed the notebook and pencil back into the pocket of my exterminator jumpsuit.

"Uh...Mr. Rusty?"

Sweetie Belle was watching me with concern. The little treehouse felt hot and stifling. I took off my baseball cap and wiped my brow; my hand came back soaked with sweat. I didn't have much time.

"Smokes..." I croaked out, my voice barely audible.

"Huh?" asked Scootaloo, wrinkling her brow in confusion.


I had meant that to be a sentence. It came out more like a girlish shriek. The three ponies stepped back in alarm.

"Wow, he looks really sick," Scootaloo remarked.

"Yeah..." Sweetie Belle sounded worried. "He's been talking about something called 'smokes' an awful lot. Do either of you know what those are?"

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo shook their heads.

I tried to swallow, but my mouth was dry. Things were looking bad. The three ponies had picked up on my weakness. If they were hostile, they could pounce at any second. In any event, it was clear that they didn't have any smokes.

I decided to make a break for the door. I stood up, doing my best to appear nonchalant. Unfortunately, I stood up too fast; my coordination was off. Also, I had forgotten I was in a treehouse built for very small ponies. My head slammed against the ceiling, and I collapsed backward through the door.

I tumbled head over heels and out into empty space. Suddenly, I was rolling down a flight of stairs. I saw blue sky above me, and then wood, then blue sky, then wood; over and over. Occasionally I caught glimpses of a treehouse getting further and further away.

The back of my head connected with a rock or something as I hit the ground. Through my blurred vision I could see the heads of the three ponies poking out over the edge of the treehouse entrance.

"Uh, maybe we should get my sister."

Apple Bloom's voice floated through a fog of confusion as I struggled to maintain consciousness. Dimly I wondered who this "sister" might be. Had this been their plan all along? Now that they'd successfully incapacitated me with nicotine withdrawal, would the alien queen harvest my organs? Was this how the story of Dale Gribble was going to end?

I reached for my emergency cyanide pill, but then I remembered it was with my smokes. Then, I remembered that I didn't actually have an emergency cyanide pill. I had tried to order one, but there was some kind of problem with the international shipping. Damned internet.

Just my luck, isn't it?

My vision went black, and I remembered no more.

3: They Live

When I came to, I was lying in a strange bed.

I didn't recognize the room, but it was definitely a human dwelling. There was no one else around. My head was still swimming. Disjointed images flickered rapidly through my head. Ponies. Flying saucers. Cockroaches as big as your fist.

The nicotine fit had unfortunately not subsided. I was sweating and experiencing mild convulsions. However, as far as I could tell, there was no sign of the three ponies or the treehouse.

"Was it a dream?" I wondered out loud.

I blinked and took another look at my surroundings. The place definitely had a rustic feel. The walls, floor and ceiling were all made out of wood, making the room feel more like the inside of a barn than a house. Everything had a weird "apple" motif to it. However, the furniture was definitely made for humans.

My mind was still hazy, but I tried to remember the details of the house I'd been fumigating. It was a place in East Arlen; the owner's name was Mrs. Rackley I think.

"Maybe she found me after I passed out and carried me upstairs," I mused.

Yeah, that made sense. This was probably the attic or something. I must have passed out from the poison, and the owner of the house came home and carried me up to a spare bedroom. All that stuff about ponies must have just been a gas-induced nightmare.

"Hah!" I laughed out loud. "Ponies riding scooters, building treehouses... I'd have to be crazy to believe something like that! Wait until the guys in the alley hear about this..."

I struggled into a sitting position and pushed back the thick quilt that someone had placed on top of me. I was still wearing my Dale's Dead Bug jumpsuit. I reached into the pocket for my smokes, but found it was empty.

Dang, looks like that part wasn't a dream.

My hat and glasses were on a side table.

"Maybe Mrs. Rackley has some smokes," I muttered as I rummaged around in the table's little drawer. No such luck it would seem. Oh well, I'd just have to grab the pack out of the Bugabago.

Before I could climb out of bed, however, I heard footsteps in the hall. Something about them didn't quite sound right. A bit more clippity-clop than I was used to.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear Mrs. Rackley was wearing horseshoes...

Slowly, the door creaked open, and in an instant the horror and paranoia was back. For instead of the haggard face of Mrs. Rackley, I saw a pony poking its head through the opening.

This pony was larger than the other three, but still much smaller than the kind I was used to. She had a blonde mane and her coat was the color of an orange creamsicle. For some reason she was wearing a cowboy hat.

Why would a pony need to wear a cowboy hat?

Something definitely wasn't right here. The pony and I stared at each other for several seconds, neither of us saying anything. Then, slowly, it began to dawn on me.

The house. The bed. The quilt. The hat. None of these things made sense for a pony to own. This wasn't a pony house. This was a people house. Or at least... it had been.

A slow chill ran up my spine. What kind of horror story had I woken up in? But I could no longer deny the evidence that was right in front of my eyes. None of it had been a dream. Arlen had been invaded by hostile, sentient, English-speaking ponies. Probably working with the roach, they had used my own poison gas to get me out of the way, and while I was unconscious... one of them had killed Mrs. Rackley and stolen her hat!


Or at least, that's what I'd meant to say. It came out more like garbled gibberish; somewhere between a cough and a feminine shriek. Reflexively, I grabbed the quilt and pulled it up to shield myself.

The pony gave me a confused look, and then turned to address someone behind her in the hallway.

"Uh, can he talk?" she asked. "Or does he just make noise like that?"

The pony had an accent. She sounded like she came from down South somewhere.

By God, they're learning to mimic us! Clever girl...

"He can talk. Sorta."

One of the three smaller ponies from before, the one called Apple Bloom, trotted into the room, followed by her two friends. She spoke with the same accent, I noticed.

"At least, I've heard him say 'smokes' an awful lot," Apple Bloom added.

The larger one with the hat screwed up her face in confusion.

"Smokes? Now what in the hay is that?"

She approached me and put her face close to mine, looking me over.

"Just what sorta critter are you, anyway?" she asked. "You don't look like no kinda pony I ever seen."

Wait, if she killed Mrs. Rackley, why does it sound like she's never seen humans before?

Damned nicotine fit; I couldn't even think straight. It felt like there was a big piece of the puzzle that I was missing. I tried to climb out of the bed, but my balance was still off.

"My name is Rusty Shackleford," I mumbled. "I am on vacation--"

Somehow, I'd become entangled in the quilt. I lost my balance, and my head clonked against the hard wooden floor. An orange hoof pulled back the quilt, and the hat-wearing pony was now staring down at me, looking confused.

"Whatever he is, he don't seem too bright..."

I tried to stand up and speak, but my body would not obey my commands. I could only lie curled on the floor in a fetal position, twitching pathetically.

"Smooookes..." I croaked in a feeble voice.

The orange pony gave me a long, pitying look and turned once more to the smaller one.

"Wow, he's really sweatin'. Where did y'all say you found him again?"

"He was in the meadow a little ways outside Ponyville," said Sweetie Belle. "He said he was lost."

Sweetie stood with her front hooves on my chest, peering down at me with a worried look. Her breath smelled like sour hay and flowers.

"Is he gonna be okay?" she asked. "I think we really need to get him some smokes, whatever those are."

Apple Bloom trotted over.

"Have any idea what they are, Applejack?"

The big pony, whose name seemed to be Applejack, rubbed a hoof against her chin and stared through the window, lost in thought.

"No, I don't reckon I do," she admitted. "Granny Smith might know, but she and Big Mac went to Baltimare and won't be back for a week."

Her face lit up, and she stomped a hoof decisively against the floor.

"I know! Let's ask Twilight for help! If anypony 'round here would know what 'smokes' are, it'd be her."

The three smaller ponies looked up excitedly.

"Hey, yeah!" exclaimed Sweetie Belle, her hooves digging sharply into my sternum. "That's a great idea! Twilight knows about all kinds of weird stuff!"

"I'll run out and get her," Applejack was saying, as she headed for the door. "It's probably best if we keep him here for now. He looks like he could use some more rest, anyway."

She cast a worried glance over her shoulder.

"Y'all stay here and keep an eye on... uh, what did you say your name was again?"

"Sh-Shackleford. Rusty."

As I croaked out the words, Sweetie Belle suddenly realized she was still standing on my chest, and quickly stepped back.

"Right," said Applejack. "Mr. Rusty. Well, I'll be off then. Don't y'all go nowhere."

And with that, she turned and galloped off down the hall.
File (hide): 877B260094649980C8D706072902FEBE-1773865.mp4 (1.7 MB, Resolution:480x360 Length:00:00:36, exterminator.mp4) [play once] [loop]
I can't believe I didn't pay this any attention back then! Thank you Glim, this is fun!
Fun continuum as always. A splendid read and looking forward for more.

One small thing to nitpick as you wanted feedback, seams there is a word or sentence missing here, though I can't rule out not having the reading comprehension of Twilight and missing it.
>My hands were beginning to twitch uncontrollably; it was all I could do to keep my pen straight.
i love this shit. write more.
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4: Trust No One

I continued to drift in and out of consciousness, wandering alone across a twisted dreamscape. I saw my friends and family, toiling under their new four-legged candy-colored overlords. Arlen, my beloved hometown, stripped bare of its resources and converted into some kind of reverse petting zoo, where enslaved humans prance around for the amusement of ponies... ponies that strut around in our hats while we are forced to go bare-headed and nude...

In my brief moments of lucidity I heard snippets of voices. The ponies were no doubt discussing my fate as I lay helpless, writhing in smokeless agony.

"...don't know what to do..."

"...ain't seen nothin' like it..."

"...keeps talking about 'smokes'..."

Nothing was clear anymore. Part of me wished they would just finish me off and be done with it. Then suddenly I saw a vision, a blonde, beautiful goddess with a fantastic can. My wife, Nancy.

Nancy! Where are you, my love? What have these horrible ponies done to you?

No, I realized, I couldn't give up. I had to pull through and survive. My wife. My son. They needed me. Sure, I could probably trust my friend John Redcorn to look after them for a little while, but it wouldn't be fair to ask a man to spend the rest of his life taking care of another man's wife and son. Especially not in whatever grim pastel-colored hell the world had become. I had to pull through this. I had to fight.

I was already slipping back into the realm of dreams, but I forced myself to stay conscious. I tried to focus on the ponies' conversation. There might be something I could learn.

"...not quite sure what it is specifically, but he's definitely addicted to something."

My ears perked up. A new voice was speaking. Another female, this one sounded high and nasally. Bookish. Kind of a know-it-all.

"Can you do anythin' for him?"

That was Applejack speaking. The new voice hummed softly in response, as if deep in thought.

"I'm not sure," she admitted finally. "If we can find out a little more about what he's addicted to, I can probably transfer the addiction to something harmless; tree bark or asparagus or something."

"That might help..." mused Applejack.

"In the meantime I can cast a temporary spell that should give him some relief, and hopefully bring him out of this fever" the voice continued. "Once we get him conscious and speaking, we can ask him a little more about...what did he say they were called?"

"Smokes," chimed in Sweetie Belle from somewhere.

"Right. Smokes. Okay then. Here, uh, Mr. Rusty. Hold still."

Suddenly, I felt a warm sensation envelop my entire body. My brain had been running a mile a minute, but now it began to slow down, and my thoughts became more orderly. I felt... great, actually. The icy tendrils of nicotine withdrawal were melting away. Slowly, I opened my eyes.

"Oh, good, you're awake. Now you can tell me--"


A new pony was standing over the bed, looking down at me with huge, bulbous eyes. Her coat was purple, the color of off-brand cough medicine, with a dark lavender mane that had a magenta stripe running through it. A single horn protruded from the center of her forehead, glowing with a malevolent aura.

I had no doubt about what she was planning to do next.

"Get away from me, you nasty alien!!" I cried, flailing my hands wildly. The pony sprang backward in alarm.

"Hey!" she exclaimed. "What in the name of Celestia--"

Recovering herself, she took a tentative step towards me again, then another, her horn still glowing.

I had no idea what she'd done, but somehow she'd cured my nicotine fit. Unfortunately for her, that would prove her undoing. I hadn't wanted to reveal my martial arts training just yet, but this pony had forced my hand.


I sprang from the bed, aiming a karate chop that should have incapacitated the creature's horn. However, she suddenly vanished into thin air, reappearing about three feet to the right. My strike passed through the space where she'd been, throwing me off balance. I went to the ground, face-first, the full force of my karate chop connecting with the hardwood floor. My hand went numb, and I cried out in pain.

"What in Equestria are you trying to do?!?" the pony demanded. "You almost hit me!"

I rolled over on my back. She was standing off to the side, looking confused and annoyed. Applejack and the three smaller ones were nearby, looking just as confused.

"Teleportation..." I muttered. "Even the Russians haven't perfected that yet. Just what in the hell are you?"

I pulled myself slowly to my feet. The ceiling in here was lower than you'd expect in a human dwelling, I noticed, but not so low that I couldn't stand. I fell into a defensive stance, glowering at the purple horse.

"Now calm down, Mr. Rusty," Applejack interjected, "This here's my friend Twilight. She ain't here to hurt you, she's only tryin' to help--"

She tried to move in between me and the pony called Twilight, but as she did I noticed that horn beginning to glow again. I felt a tingling in my skin, and the hairs on my arm were standing on end.

"Not today, you bastards!"
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I took a sudden leap forward, startling Twilight just enough for me to break free of the aura of pink light that was encircling me. I made a dash for a nearby window, but before I could reach the latch, she recovered her concentration. I found myself trapped in some kind of alien tractor beam, levitating slowly into the air.

"Listen," said Twilight, "I don't know what's going on exactly, but I'm not trying to hurt you. If you could just hold still for a second--"

My right hand was still numb from the shock of hitting the floor, but I could move my left. I slipped it into the pocket of my jumpsuit, reaching for my secret weapon.

"That's it," said Twilight soothingly, taking a tentative step forward. "Nopony's trying to hurt you, now let's all just calm down and--"

As soon as the pony was in range, I suddenly let my hand fly with as much force as I could muster.

"Pocket sand!"

"Aaah! What the--"

Twilight reflexively moved her foreleg up to shield her eyes. The tractor beam broke, and I fell to the floor, landing in a crouch.

I cast a wary glare around the room. Twilight was blinking and rubbing sand out of her eyes. The other four were just standing there, looking stunned and a little frightened.

"We were just trying to help," stammered Sweetie Belle.

The tiny marshmallow-horse looked genuinely sorry, and for just a second I felt a little bad. Was this all just a misunderstanding? Could these creatures be friendly after all?

I gave my head a quick shake.

Snap out of it, Gribble! Whatever happened to 'trust no one?' Do you want to end up naked on some alien-horse-doctor's autopsy table?!?

"YOU'LL NEVER GET MY BRAIN!!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, and they all took a surprised step back.

That was the chance I needed. I sprang for the window, and before any of the ponies had a chance to react, I pried back the latch and flung it open. I paused only long enough to snatch up my hat and glasses from the bedside table and to flash the alien invaders a triumphant grin. Then I scrambled out through the open window.

Unfortunately, the roof outside had a steeper slope than I'd been expecting. I immediately lost my footing, slid down the roof and collided face-first with the peaked roof of some kind of outbuilding underneath.


I rolled down the roof of the outbuilding, landing on my back with a plop, in a puddle of what I really hoped was just soft mud. I could hear pigs grunting and squeaking in alarm.

Up above, Applejack's confused face poked out through the window I'd jumped from.

"Hey there!" she called out. "Mr. Rusty! Are you crazy? Get back up here before you hurt yourself!"

I realized that the element of surprise had only bought me a few precious seconds. I didn't have time to lie around here all day. The one called "Twilight" seemed pretty sharp for a talking horse; most likely she'd already sent for reinforcements.

I scrambled to my feet and stumbled forward as quickly as I could, but the mud was slowing me down. I was vaguely aware of Applejack calling out to me, but I don't know what she said. There was a white picket fence not far away, and on the other side was freedom. I focused my attention on that.

Once I made it over the fence I could move more quickly. I still had no idea where I was, but this was clearly a farm, and the layout was predictable. A front gate led out to a dusty unpaved road running in two directions. I didn't know which direction led where, but it didn't matter. Staying off the main roads when you're under enemy pursuit is pretty much Survival 101.

I dashed across the road and into a massive orchard of apple trees. I could hear hoofbeats behind me, still far away for now, but they would close the distance fast.

The surrounding countryside was hilly, and in the distance ahead I could see a thick forest beginning where the apple trees ended. My only hope was to make it to those woods and lose them inside. I took off at a sprint, pushing my body as hard as my poor, smokeless lungs would allow.

"Dammit," I wheezed as I ran. "Where am I? What is this place? Nothing makes sense anymore..."
Thanks, glad you're enjoying it.
Like the apprentice it now looks like Mr. Rusty is the new horn warmer.
>the element of surprise
LOL The seventh element of harmony, or second element of chaos. He will fit right in.

Looking forward to the continuum. Great read as always, and sorry for taking so long getting around to read it.

5: Alien Forest

Gribble's Log
Date: Unknown
Location: Unknown
Time: Approximately 1800 hours

After my harrowing escape from Applejack's Farmhouse of Horrors and its surrounding orchards, I found myself in a deep forest. Due to my extensive training as a professional Bounty Hunter, I was able to give my pursuers the slip, and I no longer fear capture. However, the downside of this seems to be that I am now lost in unfamiliar terrain.

As I do not remember there being any forests of this size near Arlen, I have decided to continue assuming that I am on an alien world. The possibility that this could all be a sophisticated hologram has not escaped me, however I do not consider this likely.

I am still without food and without smokes. My ability to navigate by the North Star is useless as it is daytime. During my time in captivity, the pony called "Twilight" used some kind of weird alien power to cure my nicotine fits; however, I suspect the effects will be temporary. In a few hours time, I will once again be incapacitated for lack of smokes.

The situation remains dire. What awaits me is a battle between Man and Nature that will put my survival training to the ultimate test. I do not know which of us will emerge the victor.

If I do not return, I ask whoever finds this journal to please convey my love and regret to my wife, Nancy Hicks-Gribble, and to my son, Joseph Gribble. Please ask my good friend John Redcorn to look after them.

I was deep in the woods, the shadows around me growing longer as the sun veered sharply to the west. Thick undergrowth and gnarly trees, beginning to look more and more menacing in the fading light, closed in on me from all sides.

I stopped at a small brook to smear some mud on my face. This was an old Indian camouflage trick I'd learned from John Redcorn. By painting my face with mud, my skin will resemble tree bark. If a pony passes by, I can hold still with my arms in an upright position. Pony vision is based on movement, so I knew that as long as I didn't move a muscle, the pony would think I was a tree and keep walking.

Wait, is that ponies or bears?

I frowned, rubbing mud down the front of my jumpsuit and along the arms. Nearby, an owl hooted, followed by another one. A cicada was chirping in a bush somewhere off to my right. Night would be approaching soon.

No, I'm pretty sure it's ponies.

I grabbed several handfuls of sand and stuffed it into my pockets. Might as well reload while I had the chance. Then, I pulled some twigs off of a nearby branch and stuck it into the chest pockets of the jumpsuit, and into the wrist cuffs.

Yes, this disguise is perfect. These alien ponies have no idea who they're up against...

I heard a slight rustle in the leaves behind me. Instantly I froze, holding my arms upright like a saguaro cactus.

"Mr. Ruuuuuuuusty! Helloooooo! Jeez, where did he go?"

I recognized that voice. It was the little pony I met first, the one called Sweetie Belle.

Damn, even with my wilderness skills she still managed to track me. I don't think I'm dealing with amateurs here.

That little pony clearly wasn't as harmless as she looked. Plus, she had one of those horns, too; I couldn't overlook the possibility that she might try and probe me. She was pretty tiny, so I was confident I could take her if she was on her own. However, if she had her friends with her...

No, better to just remain in disguise for now. Violence only as a last resort.

I held still, perfectly rigid, arms upright. I tried to empty my mind and become one with nature, just like John Redcorn had taught me.

I am a tree...

The underbrush rustled just head of me, and a moment later a little white unicorn stepped through. She stared at me for several seconds. I held perfectly still.

"Uh, what are you doing?"

That was probably a ploy. My disguise was perfect, so I knew she couldn't see me, but she most likely could sense that I was nearby. I wasn't about to allow her to lure me out. I continued to hold perfectly still.

She stared at me for several more seconds. She raised one of her eyebrows, and then it went back down. Finally, she sighed heavily and rolled her eyes.

"Look," she said. "We don't have time for... whatever this is. You need to come with me right now, it's not safe out here."

Heh. Like I'd really fall for a simple trick like that.

I continued to hold perfectly still.

I am a tree...

"Look, Applejack carried you alllll the way back to the farmhouse, and then allllll the way upstairs, and then Twilight came allllllll the way out to Sweet Apple Acres just to help cure you of your... your smoke disease, or whatever it was. And all you did was throw sand in her face and then jump out the window and run away! I've never been so embarrassed in my life!"

She glared at me, but when I didn't respond, she just sighed heavily again.

"You're a really weird guy, Mr. Rusty," she said. "Anyway, you need to come back with me right now, and apologize to Applejack and Twilight."

I am a tree...

She grunted.

"Right now as in... right now?"

I am a tree...

Sweetie Belle sighed, rolled her eyes, and then trotted around behind me. I felt her little head pushing against the backs of my legs as she tried to nudge me forward.

Won't work. I am a tree...

For an extraterrestrial, she didn't seem all that strong. After pushing at me for a few seconds and getting nowhere, she gave out an exasperated grunt and then trotted away, muttering to herself.

Heh, looks like I foiled her. You have to get up pretty early in the morning if you want to get one over on a Gribble...

Suddenly, I heard the sound of tiny galloping hooves approaching from behind. A moment later something tiny, hard and faintly sharp collided with the back of my knee. The knee buckled, and I lost my balance.


I wavered back and forth for a moment, and then fell face-first into the dirt. I rolled over onto my back. Sweetie Belle immediately hopped onto my chest and stood glaring down at me.

"There," she said. "Are you happy now? Come on, get up. We have to go back."

So, she got one over on a Gribble. I wonder what time she got up this morning?

"My disguise didn't even fool you for a second, did it?" I said out loud. She clambered off my chest and sat down on her haunches as I pulled myself to my feet.

She raised her eyebrow skeptically.

"Disguise? What were you pretending to be?"

I brushed myself off. The front of my jumpsuit was still caked in mud, but I could at least get rid of some of the pine needles.

"Doesn't matter. You're a worthy adversary, Sweetie Belle, I'll give you that much."

"Uh... thanks?"

Reflexively I reached for a smoke, and then remembered my situation. I felt a twinge of anxiety. Whatever "Twilight" had done to me was still working, but somehow I knew it wasn't going to last much longer. As soon as the craving set in, I'd be incapacitated again. Whatever else was going to happen, I needed to get myself some smokes.

Meanwhile Sweetie Belle was looking me up and down, taking in my mud-caked jumpsuit and the twigs stuffed into my cuffs and pockets. She sighed heavily for the third time.

"You're a really weird guy, Mr. Rusty," she said again. "Anyway, come on, we need to get going. You can't just wander around in the Everfree Forest by yourself, especially after dark. And the sun's going down soon."

She turned away from me, peering back into the underbrush she'd emerged from.

Heh, thought I'd been subdued and it was safe to let your guard down, eh? Well I've still got my secret weapon...

"Alright, let's see," she said, half to herself. "I think I remember which way we came in. If we just follow that path we should make it back to Sweet Apple Acres before sunset--"


As she turned back towards me, I unleashed a fresh round of the Gribble School's finishing technique, right into the little pony's face.

"Hey!" she protested. She stood blinking in confusion, rubbing her muzzle and spitting out sand. "Not again! Why do you keep doing that--"


I hissed triumphantly, and took off running into the woods.

"Hey, get back here!" she cried out behind me. "Didn't you hear what I said?!? Grrr!"

As I crashed through the woods, I could hear the sound of panting and tiny hooves galloping after me.

Damn, that is one tenacious little alien....

The shadows were getting longer, the light filtering through the canopy overhead getting thinner. If I could last until nightfall, darkness would give me the cover I'd need.

This alien horse had no idea who she was dealing with.