" Lyra, may I ask you something?" I asked. It was a warm afternoon in Ponyville, not uncommon for this time of year. "I understand you have fascination with humans."
"What are you talking about?" Judging by her expression and the tone of her voice, she was feigning ignorance.
"Oh, please. I don't miss much, and besides... I can read minds." I replied and smiled calmly. "We'll talk on the way to my home's library, you have much to learn."
"What do you mean, nobody knows much about humans, save for the Princesses."
"I see you've adopted one of their speech patterns. Listen, I'll tell you this right now: Humans were once beings with great inventive minds, much like so many other sentient beings. Unfortunately, their history is filled with violence, prejudice, torture and death. It was their nature, as peace and kindness is for everyone in Ponyville." I turned to walk in the direction of my headquarters.
"Yes, wars. Thousands of soldiers trained in the art of combat facing off against one another, usually with two competing sides. It isn't all bad though, there was one particular group of humans that were... inspired."
Lyra began spouting question after question to drain as much information from me as she could as we walked along my well-worn trail.
"...And what do you mean inspired? Did they make paintings? Or make music?"
"Lyra, I know you have a fascination for humans, but please try to contain yourself, I'll answer your questions in due time," I said as we approached the shadow of a large building. "We're here."
Almost as if on command, my tail whipped out, wrapping itself around the large brass handle. With a sudden jerk, the entire frame swung open, releasing a dusty odor that smelled like the pages in a library's books.
"Well, what are they like?" Lyra asked.
"Humans are very varied in how they act around others. Some are rude regardless, others are kindhearted and tolerant." I stopped to pop my back. "A key habit with humans is to be very wary until you know one particular person is safe; otherwise, you might as well just stay here in Equestria."
"You mean you'll take me to where humans live?" Her eyes shone bright, somehow giving of luminescence. It made me wary.
"No. Some humans... to put things lightly, some humans are so instinctively driven that the notion of following a moral code is absurd. Of those, some are sensual deviants, others have no care for the safety of anyone but themselves. These are simple truths." I kept my tone low, professional.
"They sound awful, but I think there is still good in them."
I simply nodded. The sound of our footsteps on the wood floor resonated throughout the maze-like hallways, bounding in and out of the open rooms.
"We're here," I said, pressing my head into a small hole surrounded by metal. I opened my left eye and shut my right, letting the optic scanner read my eye.
"What is that thing, Ember?" Lyra asked.
"It's an optical scanner." I rubbed my eye. "My clan uses it as a security checkpoint. Only those with proper authorization can unlock the doors their connected to, unless they can phase."
She looked confused.
"Look, it shoots red light at your eye, and unlocks the door if you're of a certain position. This one..." I gestured to the door, "Is an enchanted tungsten alloy. It's impervious to heat, fire, acid, collisions, lasers, and so on. It even negates any and all transportation and attack magics."
"Oh," she replied. "But what's tungsten?"
"Oh my various koop- Tungsten is a metal discovered by humans. Which is classified on their Periodic Table of Elements as the letter 'W'." I sighed. "When I asked Celestia how much anyone knew about humans, I didn't know she meant almost nothing!"
The door suddenly opened.
"Come on in, you have a lot to learn." I looked in a mirror embedded in the wall. My mane was a different color than normal: it was blue where red was supposed to be. Fatigue hit me like a brick. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. "Lyra... press the button on the wall. Hurry..." I choked out. Despite my increasingly blurred vision, I could see the pure terror on her face.
"I'll be fine, now hurry," I said in response.
She pressed a large red button with the words 'Emergency Alpha' as hard as she could. Something overhead made clicking and whirring sounds, the tell-tale sign of a complex machine working frantically. As soon as the sounds stopped, I felt my front hooves beginning to turn to fine ash. A large metal dome crashed over my entire body as the carpet floor underneath me opened up to reveal a perfectly smooth bowl-like structure. More clicking resonated through the now-sealed spherical room. My hair ignited, save for my mane, and sank into the growing pile of ashes.
Next came my forelegs, which lost skin and muscle in clumps that turned grey and sooty as soon as it touched the pile. Blood gushed from my exposed elbows like a vampire's faucet, also turning grey on contact with the sphere's walls. My entire skeleton snapped and fractured, becoming something very similar to a gardener's bone meal, also flowing out of my elbows.
My back hooves and legs followed my front, falling apart in smaller and smaller chunks. The greyness spread up my flank, delving into my innards and turning my entire body the color of granite. I couldn't see because my eyes had melted and turned to ash, but I knew I must've been a gruesome sight. It felt exhilarating. Even though my skin was gone, I could still feel the cool metal surface, and it felt so good.
Oh, sweet Celestia, this feels good! I thought. I hate waiting a thousand years, but this time it was worth it...
"Are you alright in there?" a muffled voice cut into my daze. Lyra. I had no mouth to reply with. I didn't even have a face to hold a mouth.
Ix? I asked my mane, which was still completely intact.
You wish to signal the young female. It will be done, sir. Ixzhar said to me. I heard a buzzing, even though I didn't have ears. Ix was vibrating, creating a chorus of taps and clanks. Little by little, the metallic sound began to form a tinny voice.
"Young maiden of the Lyre, the situation he is in be not dire," Ix tapped out.
The ashes that once was my body burst into flames. I couldn't feel the heat; though, the alloy sphere I was in began to glow bright red, as far as I had been told. I felt my ashes melt and flow together, forming my body once again. In a third of the time it took me to become ash, I had returned to normal. My bones formed, strong but light. Next came my muscles and veins, then my skin. There was a little bit of liquid ash in the bottom of the reddish metal bowl. I stuck my hoof into it, and it leaped into my skin, forming my mahogany red coat once again.
The metal ball clicked several times, then dumped me out on my belly, in front of a mint green mare.
"You... what happened? It looked like there was a fire in there!" she said.
"There was. It's not uncommon for a phoenix though." I chuckled, rising to my hooves. "Huh... the air out here is really cool. It feels good."
Lyra looked confused again. "Just... show me where the human section... is..." She let her voice trail off when she saw a large diagram of the bloodiest war ever fought for freedom by humans.
"The human government-society system called America fought amongst themselves to determine the validity freedom of slaves. In the end, their leader had been assassinated, but the lives of the slaves were freed. You were right to say they have good in them; I have seen it firsthand during their Civil War. But they also have evils," I said.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
I walked over to the projector and exchanged slides, creating an image of the Holocaust.
"No man who ever fought in their second World War would forget this: One man, Adolf Hitler, led a country to attempt genocide of a race. Most were against it, but were forced by armed soldiers to follow," I said. The slides turned when I pressed a paddle down, showing an image of a large concrete wall.
"Man has a habit. They will attempt to assume dominion over one another, and will follow what they believe to be right. When two polar ideals clash, war will break out. This is one result, the Berlin Wall. One of the leaders of one of the idealistic countries ordered the construction of a barrier to separate itself from the other. On one side, the individual contributes to the whole and benefits just as equally. On the other, total equality is the highest priority and is maintained by one. Democracy versus Communism: a calm war. A Cold War."
"What? Why are you showing me all these bad things, Ember? I thought you were teaching me about humans!" Her voice was level, but when it cracked I could feel how worried she was. She didn't want to believe that humans were so bad.
"Everything is bound by it's nature. Their wars are in their nature, as is the peace of Equestria. The fact that peace had been mutual between many civilizations for so long is incredible. Now it's time to tell you something possible, but incredibly improbable." My tone shifted from that of a lecturer to one of a hardened military veteran. "In one part of their history, about three years in length, humans had created a story. This story is almost parallel to what happened recently in this world. It even includes the return of Nightmare Moon. Humans have predicted stories far before sentient ponies existed, but have considered them fiction."
"B-but that's impossible!" she shouted.
"My dear... nothing is impossible." I looked into her eyes, and our minds were instantly connected. I could see her, but her mind was what I truly saw. Her pony body drifted in psychic space, drawing closer to me.
This is my mind, Lyra. I will show you their program, and I will explain. I said to her, opening a hatch seemingly connected to nothing. In the hatch was a dark staircase. I pulled her toward it, floating down the stone steps. In front of me, a longsword decorated with gold and red stripes running down the length of the blade with a large hexagonal ruby embedded in the guard pointed towards a door to the left. The blade spun and struck at the wood, splitting it like an axe. Inside the perfect cube of a room was two chairs and a projector covered with glowing pink cobwebs.
This, I nodded at the projector. Is every memory about humans I have. Put it on your head.
She did as I told, placing it on her head. A specially made hole for unicorn horns let her stick it on smoothly. As soon as it fully connected, the white on her glowed unnaturally, and her eyes dialated. I could feel the information being copied to her mind.
"This is incredible... and scary," she said aloud. "How do you know so much?"
"I've lived for eighteen-thousand years, and five-thousand was spent watching humans, learning about their art and technology; my clan adopted and modified almost everything that's good tech, and learned every art they have, even fencing." My empathy had broken from the completion of my memories becoming hers. "You need to sleep to process all the information. I'll play a particularly famous human performance while you do."
I led her to a bed in the middle of the library, and lifted the blanket off. Reluctantly, she slid under and closed her eyes. Within minutes, she was breathing softly. I walked across the room to a very elaborate speaker system, and punched a button. Out slid a tray meant to hold a CD, a human invention used to digitally hold information, and I replaced it with one laying on top of the metal box. I hit the same button again, closing it, then pressed a green triangle. The CD player whirred, reading the disc. After a few seconds, the human-made speakers began to play a song: Beethoven's 9th Symphony. One of my personal favorites. The music began to wrap itself around the room, leaving traces of Violins' and Cellos' notes with each beat.
"Ix... do you think you could..." My voice trailed off as I collapsed on the floor. Ixzhar buzzed and lifted my limp body into the bed, carefully placing me in the silken fabric, then flicked over to the speaker and swapped the CD for another. My eyelids closed, and I drifted into a sleep propelled by the lyre.