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The Horsey Set
by Tony Cheval
Tony Cheval -- all rights reserved

Sitting there and watching the election results, he was satisfied at Counsellor Barnes' defeat, looks like some people still have common sense. Tony actually hadn't thought too much of his bid for mayorship, Mayors tend to be nothing more than puffed-up figureheads, 'twas the City Council that got the real work done, and removing his vote and influence from there would be a favor. Tony turned off the TV and stared out the window at the darkness shrouding his home, his little empire. For his was the biggest horse farm in the state, and much more..

Tony walked down to the stables, stopping in front of the largest one, specially made for his favorite. The chestnut mare whinnied a happy greeting and nuzzled him, and he idly stroked her forehead, thinking about how he got to this point.

They had entertained the world together, Anja and he. No American had won an Olympic medal in individual dressage in many years, yet they had swept their way to the gold, moving through the intricate manoeuvres as one. A lucrative and wildly popular series of appearances followed, including the opportunity to appear with the famous Lipizzaner Stallions in the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Tony's expertise with horses showed in other equine sports also, with champions in Thoroughbred racing and stadium jumping to his credit, giving him the resources to build this farm. Standing on the pinnacle of success, he had looked for new worlds to conquer, then suddenly had one he never anticipated thrown at him.

The Martian Flu had hit the horse industry hard, disrupting events while people dealt with the effects. Tony had wisely invested some of his money elsewhere, avoiding the crash that effected several top owner/breeders. Then the transformations REALLY changed things. Watching the riots, seeing people suffer for having been changed, Tony decided to do something. He started funding shelters and other things to help the SCABS, but it wasn't enough. Then one day it hit him, why not use the farm as a sanctuary for equine-type SCABS? And so the Epona Foundation was born. It had been a spectacular success, spreading to other cities, apparently the equines had picked up the herd instinct as part of the transformation.

Naturally, a place like this would become a target of anti-SCABS terrorism, the 'Humans First' cabal had tried to cause trouble a couple of times, but he had placed top-of-the-line security equipment around the perimeter, the last one to try it was still limping from twisting his ankle while falling over the tripwire. And if anyone managed to get by that, there was the matter of his work crew, all normals who were loyal to him and the Foundation, not a few looked at the SCABS who stayed here with a bit of envy, for they all shared a strong love of horses. They were also trained in the use of tranquilizer guns and such, anyone wanting to attack the SCABS would have to go through their own first.

So you might wonder: why is he doing all this? Is it just a love of horses and concern for SCABS? Actually, there is more. Tony is a SCAB himself, though few people know it. At night he is completely human, but when the sun comes up he becomes an Arabian stallion, a male counterpart to his beloved Anja. He retains his intelligence, but cannot speak, having shunned the equipment that would allow it. Out in one of the pastures two young colts are romping, his children and Anja's, sharing some of his intellect but unable to shift to human at any time. Tony leaned against the mare's shoulder, enjoying her company. Thoughts of the past faded away, slowly replaced by plans for a better future....

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