A chill went up my spine.
The cold air was the least of my worries, though. No, what truly was worrisome was what I was about to do.
The lights of the nightlife of manehattan shone brightly below, even through the sunglasses I was wearing. A small glint caught the corner of my eye. I looked to my left to see the reflection of myself off of a large, metal, segregated cylinder of sort. The cylinder itself was around the width of a pony's torso, and in had claw like extensions near the bottom. Taking a deep breath at seeing that it was a false alarm, I took a better look at myself in the little light that existed at this altitude.
My dark gray mane, pristine as always, had a few loose hairs drifting in the wind. There was more of a lighter gray showing run before. My eyes were hidden behind a veil of shaded glass, although the deep depressions below my eyes showed how severe my insomnia had progressed. I was slightly thinner than I remembered being, although that could be contributed to a lack of food the past few days. A bow tie adorned my neck. The bow tie was probably the only thing keeping me anchored to reality, and not becoming a monster the ponies below think I am. The only thing that makes me remember...
Another chill blew through me, reminding me why I was up on top of a Manehattan skyscraper in the first place.
I got into a ready position. Four identical metal cylinders, similar to the first one that I had noticed, moved. These cylinders were attached to a single cord that went parallel to my actual spine. The metal cord had been fused to my back due to my own mistake, and I was reminded of it every single day due to seeing those metal appendages.
Music, which had been playing softly in the back of my mind, had started to crescendo into existence. The music was a classical piece. It was always a classical piece. Always evolving to play something new. Always there, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. The music scared me, but I knew I would most likely have to live with it for the rest of my life.
Using the metal limbs as legs, I ran straight off the building, and into the night below. Wind and mist brushed passed me as I descended into the busy streets. I saw my reflection falling as I did in the glass of the building in front of me. The ground appeared to rise to meet me, and I got ready to brace for impact.
Pavement shattered underneath the cold steel of the arms. A loud crash echoed through the streets, and the screams of ponies could be heard. The impact was mostly absorbed by the arms, but I could still feel my bones creak.
I looked around to make sure nopony was hurt too badly. I couldn't forgive myself if I let another pony die by my hooves. I looked around, and saw a few were rattled by the sudden explosion of pavement underneath their hooves, while others were running or passed out. Seeing that nopony was in a severely injured state, I went on with my plan.
I rushed forward, not bothering with any collateral damage I may have done to the street below. In front of me was a bank, one which had closed an hour ago. The bank itself was a large structure made out of marble, and structured in a way to emulate the an ancient civilization which name escapes my grasp at the moment. It was a rather symmetrical building, with pillars to support it and a large domed roof. I knew I did not have much time to do what I needed to do, so I pulled myself out of my thoughts and moved on.
I pulled the doors to the establishment of its hinges using the power of the arms, and rushed in, ignoring the alarms.
"Halt! You are breaking and entering and that is a-" A pony in a police uniform had showed up, to my surprise. I had hoped that they would not show up this early, but my luck had not been the best of late. I picked him up using the arms and slammed him into the wall, knocking him out.
I quickened my pace once more, hoping to outrun any further intrusions on my break-in. The alarms blared in the background, but the music once again steadily grew louder, blocking out the annoying ringing, and allowing me to concentrate on the task I had set for myself.
I managed to reach the vault door. The door was a large, steel, circular one with a number pad and a large valve. Seeing as the general public already knew I was here due to my rather flashy entrance, I simply pried the door off its hinges and waltz in instead of trying to hack my way inside.
The room was piled high with brown bags of bits. Most were on shelves, while others were simply sitting on the floor, waiting to be plucked from their protectors. I grabbed as many as I could, not caring if I spilled any bits out of the bags, and then left the vault.
On my way out, I found myself surrounded by an assembly of guards. Luna's personal guard, if the clothing was anything to go by.
"Halt in the name of Princess Luna or we will be forced to use-" I didn't let the guard who had spoken finish, because I launched myself in the air, straight over the guards. "Unicorns, take position!"
I turned around in mid air to watch the ponies below try and stop me. A row of unicorn guards had taken aim at me and had fired off a few shots in my direction. I simply blocked them with the arms, which, for one reason or another, seems to instantly vaporize any magic that comes in their vicinity. Of course, that is, if I am able to touch any with them.
I landed a few yards from where I had jumped, still towering over my foes due to the length of the arms. I decided to try and outrun them, and make a hasty getaway.
"Barriers, now!" The apparent commander of the group ordered his soldiers into placing a barrier around the perimeter of the street. "Don't let that murderer get away!"
I stopped for a second. That word... Murderer... I was not one of those. I never meant to kill anypony. I never wanted any of that to happen. I never...
My lapse in attention allowed the unicorns to erect a barrier. Realizing what had happened, I quickly refocused my attention on the crowd of ponies behind me. Nopony was attempting to keep the barrier stable. That was good.
I rushed the barrier, breaking a hole in it with the might of the arms attached to my back, and hurried through. On my way out though, I did notice a few of the unicorns had managed to teleport most of the bags of gold which I had been carrying in the claw end of the metal appendages to safety. I was left with one bag of bits left, which was enough to support me for a while, but still not enough for what I needed...
I quickly escaped my crawling up a building like a spider on a web, the metal claws keeping me hooked to the building and preventing me from plummeting below. I stopped once I was high enough on the side of the building. I gazed down, only to see darkness. The music which had been playing had slowly started to tune itself out, and I breathed a sigh of relief as the ordeal had been overcome. I continued to climb up the building, and headed east, towards the docks.
As I jumped from roof to roof with the bag of bits jingling behind me, I felt a small amount of guilt. I quickly squashed the feeling, as I knew that this was necessary to survive.
I eventually arrived at my destination, an old wooden broken-down warehouse right beside the docks. The smell of burnt coal and the sea assaulted me as I landed. I made sure no one was nearby, and then went up to the large door. The door itself was inconspicuous as the rest of the building, being large and worn down, made to open by sliding it. I used the arms to open it, and it slowly revealed a very barren interior. There was a single bed at the end of the room. a lamp flickered on and off that hung from the ceiling. A single desk with papers sat in a corner. Another desk occupied the opposite corner, this one covered in different mechanical parts. Along a wall, different instruments made their home. The floor made a hollow clacking sound as I walked across it without the aid of the arms. I turned around to close the door. The inside of the door had large metal gutters running along its length. I remember putting them there in order to prevent normal ponies from opening the door and finding the hideout because it made the door extremely heavy.
Tired, I set the bag by the desk with the papers and slowly cobbled myself over to the bed. I laid down on my side, due to it being extremely uncomfortable with the metallic arms attached to my back. The sunglasses I wore fell to the floor, creating a small clatter and revealing tears in my eyes.
I cried. I sobbed quietly; knowing nopony could possibly feel my pain. Nopony could possibly know how I felt at this moment.
What had I become? A monster?
A murderer of hundreds?
I don't know anymore...
I knew I would never be able to go to sleep. I knew that. Yet I still stayed in bed, with perhaps an inkling of hope that I could. I simply laid there, crying, and thinking about why.
Sleep never came. Only memories.
Memories I wish I could change. Memories I wish I could throw away.
They never would. They never will.
It was raining.
The droplets hit the city outside like a percussion ensemble, creating a song of storms.
I viewed the scene from a large, wall sized window, the occasional lightning strike illuminating the rest of the room, driving away the forlorn shadows that hid in the corners.
I turned around to face the rest of the room. A single expensive looking couch was directly in front of me, faced away from the window. To the left, I spotted the kitchen and a table in the darkness. To the right was a row of doors, shadows streaking across the frames.
Another flash of lightning struck, brightening the room for a split second, before returning to the clutches of darkness.
I moved through the house, my hooves making a familiar clacking noise as they hit the hard wood flooring of the room.
My dark twin danced across the floor as I crossed the gap to one of the doors. I opened it, sending a creak resounding throughout the abode.
Inside, from what light was given, was a simple desk, with many, many different pieces of paper scattered over the surface. There was a book shelf hidden in the dark to the right, where books sat complacently. I knew every single title by heart. Next to that, was a shelf with different pictures resting on it, most of which had a thick layer of dust covering them.
I entered the room. I glanced at the table with the scattered papers. Some held a rather random series of numbers, but I knew what they truly meant. In the margins of a few of these were notes I had scribbled to myself in haste at the time I had made this, and on a rare occasion, I spotted some old lines of music bordering a few of them.
I quickly turned my head away.
I gazed at the photos lining the shelves. Most were impossible to see due to the high amounts of debris that stuck to the outer level of the frames, but a few were viewable.
The closest one that I could see that was not covered in dust held the photo of two equine figures. One was a young mare with a white lab coat on, with hints of a gray shaded body underneath. Her hair was a very dark gray, with hint of a lighter gray pulling through. She wore a bowtie, and rather thick-framed rectangular glasses. Glimpses of purple irises could be seen in the photo. She wore a serious, yet somewhat shy expression, appearing to look at the edge of the picture frame rather than at the viewer of the photo.
Next to her stood a stallion, with a carefree look on his face. He was wearing a similar lab coat, covering most of his gray-amber coat, as well as a triangular cutie mark, with most of it being covered up. His wild dark amber mane defied gravity, and he was winking to the camera, revealing a single azure eye.
I shifted to the next photo.
This one showed the mare from the previous photo, slightly older, with a longer mane, and with grayer highlights showing. She was sitting in what appeared to be a fancy restaurant, with a single empty plate in front of her. Across from her sat a near completely white pony, wearing shades. Her mane was wild and all over the place, with both cobalt and cyan coloring. She had traces of food around her mouth.
I turned away from the photos and exited the room, closing the door behind me. I entered a different room, this one with lighting in it.
Instruments were lined up against the wall. A double bass. A cello. A Violin. A viola. Several others were there as well, covered in bland white dust covered sheets. Stands for both instruments and sheet music were propped up against the wall opposing the string instruments.
I trotted over to the double bass, and pulled it off its stand. The familiar weight of the heavy string instrument comforted me. I picked up a bow nearby and got into playing position.
I played. I played a sad, hollow tune. A tune befitting of the atmosphere outside. A song for the rain. A song of broken dreams.
I don't know how long I played. I played for minutes, maybe. Perhaps it was hours. I only knew that when I had stopped, the rain was still pouring.
I was about to continue with another song, but a sudden knock resounded through the abode, knocking me out of the trance I was in. I put the instrument back in its proper place and cantered over to the door. I had not been expecting somepony to visit me at this time of the night, so it was extremely unusual for such an occurrence to happen.
The knocking continued, louder this time. The pony behind the door was impatient, I figured. I opened it.
On the other side of my gateway to the rest of the world, there stood a cloaked pony. I could not see his or her face, nor could I gain a proper description of the pony in front of me, other that they did not care for the rain, seeing as he or she had left a trail of water all the way to my doorstop.
“Are you Octavia?” The voice was muted, almost robotic in nature. It was clearly male, though.
I didn’t trust this strange, robed pony. Still, I replied. “And what if I am?”
The stranger took a step forward. “Then I will need for you to come with me.”
A floor board creaked under my hoof. “I am terribly sorry, but who are you?”
He took another step forward, the sound of dripping water following him. "That is none of your concern. If you will not comply, then I will have to take you by force."
I backed away from the stranger, looking for the nearest object to defend myself with. "Why do you need my services?"
"That is none of your concern." he said the line once more, in the exact same way. The same pitch. It was rather disturbing.
A nearby wine bottle caught my eye. "Well, I suppose..." I darted over to the wine bottle, and grabbed it by the neck. The stallion had started to run towards me as soon as I had started running, and was only a foot away. I took the cold glass in my hoof and brought it down upon his head.
Glass scattered across the floor and wine splashed across his cloak, becoming an addition to the rain water which was caught in the folds. At the moment of impact, his head dropped an inch, but he stood steady against the floor.
He lifted his head slowly into its previous position and rushed forward.
I rolled to the side, directly over the sharp pieces of glass that used to make up the wine bottle. There pain was horrible, yet manageable. I could feel the red liquid leak slowly out of the cuts, but I knew I had to move. I ran in the direction of the music room, knowing that I could at least find a weapon there, at the expense of my tools of trade.
I dashed towards the room I had previously exited from, pushing the couch in such a way to make a makeshift roadblock. The door appeared to be frighteningly far, and the darkness compiled with the rain made the atmosphere no better.
I opened the door with a shaky hoof, drops of blood littering the floor behind me, staining my mane and my hooves. The door opened up with a large amount of force behind it, slamming into the wall. I got inside and closed the door, taking a leftover stand and propping it against the knob. I then evaluated my surroundings for anything I could use to take the possible criminal out.
I grabbed a sheet covering a few of the more expensive pieces in the room. I then grabbed the largest object I could use as a weapon, my precious double bass, and propped it up against the wall, directly next to the door. During this, the door itself was under extreme stress from the beating it was undergoing from the stallion on the other side.
I tuned the light switch to cast darkness on the room, and waited.
The sound of the beating the door was taking it's toll on my psyche. Perhaps this is where I die? I knew I would live, though. I knew that this pony needed me for one reason or another, and he was going to get it, even if it was going to cost him his life.
The door started to cave. Pinpricks of light made their way through the door as wood chips fell to the floor. I held my weapons of defense tight. My left holding the sheet. The right holding the double bass, which, at the moment, did not seem so heavy anymore.
The door imploded. My heart raced, and in a fraction of a second, my hoof brought the sheet over the stranger.
With his sight and movement restrained, I brought the instrument of his doom up high in the air. I quickly brought it down, sending the sound of the tool's demise resounding through the house.
The stranger seemed to deflate under the sheet, before standing back up. I brought the now broken double bass down again. The body, which had been barely holding itself together on a few pieces of wood and string, were now completely shattered. The body of the life form under the sheet, which had been steadily rising, was now parallel to ground level, and not moving.
"Ha... Ha... Ha...." I tried to calm my brethren after the ordeal. I was worried now that I may have gone slightly overboard. I took a bow and poked the body. It didn't move.
I panicked slightly, increasing my heart rate once more. Questions ran through my mind. Did I kill him? What do I do now? Why was he here?
I paced back and forth, thinking about the situation I had gotten myself into.
I decided to check the body for any sort of identification. I lifted the sheet.
The last thing I saw was a cloaked hoof coming up to my face with the force of a falling piano.
I felt cold.
Rain was falling. I could feel the drops running down my entire body. I tried to open an eye, but found it increasingly difficult to do so. When I did, a drop found it's way into the crack that became my window to the world, forcing it shut once again.
I could feel gravel being shifted under me. Or is it I that is moving while the gravel was stationary? My hooves felt chaffed, and they were extremely sore. I could feel something tugging me by my hooves, probably causing the discomfort I felt.
There was an increasing stinging feeling emanating from no true point on my body. I tried to pin point it, but it seemed everywhere. A quick moment of clarity revealed to me that it was probably from the glass.
My mind returned to a haze as I began to wonder exactly where I got the cuts. I tried to find where in my memory I received the information from, but all I found was a pile of blurry images and sounds.
I did not realize how much time had passed searching my thoughts for the lost and forgotten. By the time I had tried to open my eyes again, I found that I could not locate my exact position, even though I was sure I was still in the city.
"This is Octavia?" I had been so preoccupied trying to get a better understanding of where I was that I had not noticed that I had stopped. "You are slightly late."
The voice sounded exceedingly familiar, and tickled at my memory. "She put up a small amount of resistance. I had to knock her out."
This was strange. The voice sounded exactly like the previous one, except from a different location, one closer to her. "That explains the eye. What about the cuts?"
"That was due to her own foolishness. She rolled into a gaggle of shattered glass. I cleaned the wounds and pulled out the glass, but I still had to drag her here from the transport." A lightning bolt hit earth in the background. "We have to hurry. The storm the boss made will be over soon. The pegasi will have it cleared up in another thirty minutes."
The voice that was farther away spoke up. "You didn't bother to bandage her?"
"There was no time, and I have been in the apartment before. The amount of bandages needed to address to the wounds was sorely lacking." They had been in my house before. This was new information.
I twitched slightly as a raindrop landed once more in my eye. "It appears our guest has woken up."
I tried to struggle free of whatever was binding me at this point, but found no such luck. "Goodnight."
Pain and darkness were reintroduced to me.
I woke this time to the smell of anti-septic and fresh laundry. I tried to get up, only to find myself constricted due to aches and pains. I slowly tried to open an eyelid, only to find that, once again, it was exceedingly difficult to accomplish and when I had opened it, it was only a hairline crack.
What I did see was a white, tiled ceiling, which had a fresh gloss on it, making it look shiny and new. I tilted my head to the side, to see a small sink and possibly the corner of a shower unit. I turned to the right and saw a mirror, of some sorts.
I decided to lay there and assess the damage to my body. I felt several scabs littering my body in all shapes and forms, creating an increasingly uncomfortable feeling. I tried to simply lift a hoof, and found it raised high in the air. I touched my face and found a massive amount of swelling around my eyes. I diagnosed myself with two black eyes, probably from an earlier skirmish. I searched my memory and found it to be extremely vague in detail in accordance to last night.
I followed a thread of memories, following a sudden storm hitting Canterlot and myself going home for the night. I played a piece to myself as I usually did during nights like those and was about to go to sleep after a brief glass of wine.
That did not happen, though. I met that stranger. Yes, and He tried to take me against my will. I bashed my favorite instrument against his head... He survived and knocked me unconscious.
I continued to delve into the memory. He needed me for something, but what for?
"Good morning Octavia. Have a nice nap?" a speaker hidden somewhere in the room sent the words bouncing across the room. The voice itself sounded layered, as though many different voices were speaking the same thing at the same time. "Oh dear. You do not look so well. Let me fix that."
I felt myself lifted in the air and a sudden bubble of what I knew was magic surrounding me. A comfortable warm feeling surrounded me and I could feel the swelling around my eyes deflating and my mind clearing. By the time the spell had finished, I felt as though I had just woken up from a very nice nap.
"Ah, that is much better on the eyes." The voice said. "Now, I bet you are wondering where you are and why you are here, don't you?"
I ignored the voice for a small amount of time to take in the surrounding area now that my sight had been restored. The room was incredibly small, perhaps the size of a very small bedroom. The floor was the same as the ceiling, a dull white tile. The mirror, which I thought was only a small portion of the wall adjacent to the bed, intact took up the entire wall. There was also a door a few feet away from the bed, which had no handle on it and appeared to be locked.
Once the observations were noted, I decided to respond to the voice. "Yes, I would very much like to know why somepony would drag a helpless mare all the way to wherever this is."
The voice laughed slightly. "Ha. Unfortunately, I can only answer one of the questions I posed to you." The voice paused, as if collecting his or her thoughts. "Octavia. Born 979 A.B. earned top marks all though primary and secondary school, and found an interest in physics of all sorts. Went the private study of a college professor in manehattan, one of the few who specialized in the subject. Built several working models of non-magic power generators. Dropped out near the end of the course after finding a true passion in the music industry. Joined the Canterlot symphony orchestra and made it to first chair cellist. Joined an ensemble were she played double bass. Parents: deceased. No close relatives."
The information surprised her. "Where did you get that?"
The voice laughed once more. "Where I got it is not an issue." the voice paused once again. "There are two reasons I took you Octavia. Two. Can you guess them Octavia?"
I thought for a moment. What could I possibly have that he would be interested in? Then I thought back to the profile he had on me. This pony could not have just taken anypony, so there had to be circumstances behind it. It was most definitely not my musical talent, due to the fact i see no instruments anywhere in the vicinity... There were two things on that profile this madpony mentioned which did strike me as odd, and those were most likely the reasons he or she took me."I have knowledge of advanced physics and I have no close relations..."
"Bingo! We have a winner!" The sound effect of a cheering stadium came up on the speaker. "Yes, you hit the nail on the head! I didn't expect any less, coming from you!"
"Why me, though? Why not some other scientist?" This question was one of the many swimming through my mind.
"Yes, yes... I guess I can answer that... You see, with the return of Luna, the night court was resumed. Now, from history, what was the night court mainly made up of?"
I immediately had an answer. "Thinkers. Inventors. Mathematicians. Scientists."
"Yes! Know, Luna has had around two years to find every aspiring polymath to join her court. That is a lot of time, and now she practically has every major player in the scientific world under her hooves. You know what would happen if I were to suddenly pluck one of these protégés out from under her royal highness?"
It becoming startlingly clear why he choose me. "The royal guard would be alerted..."
"And I would be ever so comfortable in a dungeon. You, however, escaped her notice, due joining the Canterlot symphony orchestra..."
So that was it. I was here based on a technicality. A simple happenstance of bad luck.
"What do you want me for?" I decided to see what this mad pony truly wanted me for.
"I guess I should lay me cards down on the table. What I want you to do is..." The door opened. "This."
I peered through the opening from the bed. Inside was a large circular room. The room was incredibly large, with nothing but a board with many different equations on it on the opposite end. She trotted over and observed the chalk marks that made the formulas on it. Some of them half finished, while others were crossed out. I tried to see exactly what they were trying to convey, but most ended in a way that would not make any sense. One, near the end of the board, caught my eye. This one was something I understood.
"You understand what I want done now, don't you?"
"... You want me to build a machine that takes gamma radiation and converts it to magic..." the equation, although half finished, gave her enough of a clue to understand what he was trying to do. She understood what this could mean. With something like this, the pony behind the voice could power an explosion which could level half of Equestria, or even more. I shuddered at the implications of such a device.
"Haha! Good show, good show!" the voice continued in his laugh. "And then you are going to put that in practice!"
My eyes widened. "Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?! Radiation and volatile magic is what this equation entails! You would have to be stark mad or a genius to even attempt to try and pull it off!"
"Oh, I know. That is why I am having you do it, instead of me. I wouldn't be sure what to do if I died due to something like this..."
I was now completely sure that the pony who was acting as the voice was completely out of his or her mind. "There is no way I am going to play this game of yours."
"This is no game, I can assure you that much." The voice had become extremely serious, throwing me off. "Well, I'm feeling quite generous today! Might as well give you your first piece of equipment!"
"What are you-?" The sound of hydraulics boomed in the large room. A small, circular hole in the ceiling began to lower. "What is that?"
"You will see, you will see..." The circular platform had reached the center point of the middle of the room. I could see a slight glare reflecting off what was most likely some sort of metal. I slowly walked over to a position directly in front of the lowering platform. Once it had finished lowering, I got a complete look at the device resting upon it.
The device was a harness of sorts, with a metallic spinal column. The column was separated into many different segments, giving it a snake like look.. Off of this column came four metallic appendages with claw like ends to them. The appendages hung limply off of the stand it was on.
"That right there is a set of four opposable limbs. Nearly indestructible, radiation and magic proof, and can lift an astonishing amount of weight. Perfect for working with the materials that are required for this venture." So that was what they were. "Go ahead! Put it on!"
I thought about this. I knew that whoever this was most likely was not going to use this for any sort of good deed. "No."
I stood firm. "No. I will not be doing any of this. I would rather die of starvation or some other means than help you make this!"
"... Well, I am sorry to say that I was not expecting that response... But I did prepare for it."
This scared me. What could this pony have possibly done? "What did you do?!" The voice refused to respond. "Answer me!"
"H-hello?" That voice... It was one that put a horrifying possibility in my mind. "'Tavi? Is that you?"
"Vinyl? Vinyl! Are you okay? What has that pony done to you?" Question after question flew to my mind, completely blocking out any previous thoughts I may have had.
"'Tavi! It is you!" She breathed a sigh of relief. "Listen, don't worry about me. G-" The voice was suddenly cut off.
"Now you understand what is at stake, don't you? I have your best friend here with me and I could do anything to her... Including kill her. Now, do you see your options?"
The madpony had backed me into a corner. He or she was going to kill vinyl... I decided to take the route that made everypony happy.
"... Fine. But promise me; promise me you will release her when I am done with this."
"Sure! Sure! I will do as you say! Just put that on and get to work, will you? I do not have as much time as you think I may have." The microphone turned off, but just as quickly turned back on. "Oh, and those arms? They are necessary. Put it on."
I stepped onto the panel slowly, and looked it over. It was still as imposing as it was a few minutes ago, but I knew that I would have to use it. I got up on my hind legs and fell back on the column.
What happened next was the most painful moment of my life. What felt like a million needles tore through my hide and straight into the most painful regions of my body. I could feel the pain echoing through every partition of it, and the pain increased every second. My brain felt as though someone had filled it up with water and forgot to turn it off, as the pressure kept building. Suddenly, it was over, and I collapsed to the floor. The weight of the arms and the sudden fatigue brought on by the ordeal kept me pinned down to the concrete floor. I tried to get up using my hooves to push myself up, but found it impossible under the weight of the arms.
"Use the arms. They won't bite." The voice was really grating my nerves.
I decided, for once, to follow the advice and use the arms to move around. It was like I was a foal again, taking my first steps. It was incredibly difficult to even raise them a slight bit, never mind trying to move while using them.
In a few minutes, I was able to move the frontal left metallic appendage in a range of motion that I deemed adequate. I moved on to the other front arm and tried to move that. After another few agonizing minutes of experimentation, I got that one working, as well. Then I tried moving the two in tandem so that I could try and move around. The results were less than what I had hoped, and I tended to use more force than necessary (causing the floor to crack underneath), but it was enough to satisfy me for the time being.
I worked on the mechanics of the arms a bit more, and after who knows how long, I was able to move, albeit very slowly, with the four mechanical arms. It got easier to move around after a while, and at that point I trusted myself to not fall over using it.
"Took you long enough." The voice seemed bored. "Get to work. I'll come back soon enough." the speaker turned off, then just as quickly turned back on again. "Oh, yes, there are some... Additions I forgot to mention in deference to the arms, but you will figure them out soon enough. Ta ta!"
Left alone in the room, I contemplated whether I should actually work, or see what would happen if I stayed idle while looking like I was actually working. I decided to try the latter. I looked at the board, not really paying attention to the numbers, and instead thought about possible routes to escape the prison.
A massive jolt shook me out of my musings.
I looked around for any possible object that could have given me such a large electric shock. When I found none, I returned to my inner thoughts. Another jolt shook my body. This time I located where the shock came from. It was from the metallic vertebra on my back.
"I knew he set me up. He has a mechanism in here to force me to work..." I said out loud to myself, cementing the idea in my mind.
Not wanting another shock, I decided to try and Finish what my predecessor started. I looked up at the board and started to right a series of numbers. Something unexpected happened.
I could hear something from the inside of my mind. I stopped writing on the board and tried concentrating on the sound. It disappeared as soon as it started, so I continued to write calculations on the board. It started once more, and this time, I simply continued to work. The noise steadily grew louder, and I tried to listen to it while working.
The noise was a piece of classical music. I did not recognize it, but it was rather fast paced, and calming. In fact, the more I listened, the more I listened, the more I relaxed, and the easier it was to concentrate on the board in front of me.
I instantly halted my hoof, and the music steadily tuned itself out of my brain.
I reached a realization. The pony behind the voice was conditioning me to work on this project of his!
I picked up the piece of chalk and threw it against the wall. A sudden jolt of electricity dropped me to the floor, along with the arms which were supporting themselves from their own weight.
Frustrated, I went back to the piece of chalk and picked it up. I decided the best course of action was to simply work on the problem at hoof and work out the details later.
So I continued to work, the music drowned out my emotions, leaving nothing but the ability to focus at the task.
Several hours later, I found my head hitting the floor. My concentration interrupted, I lifted myself unconsciously using the prostheses in the process. With the music leaking out of my head, I noticed how tired I was. Why had I not noticed how tired I was before? In accordance with my sudden need to sleep, I used the arms to spider my way over to the room from which I had originally woken up in and sleep there.
I lowered myself into bed, and covered myself with the thin sheet that was supplied to me. I found it difficult though, seeing as thought after thought hit me. Some were related to the problems I had been working on, such as what would happen if I had switched this variable with this one? Or what if I were to square both sides? Other issues arose as well. Is vinyl okay? If he has her, then who else has that madpony taken? Who else has he or she forced to work?
With the turbulent thoughts swimming around in my mind, I eventually drifted off to sleep.
I did not dream that night. And I knew that I most likely would never dream a good dream again.
My eyes were forced open from dreamless sleep, and my body shook from the shock. A pair of purple eyes with bags under them greeted my vision from my current position. I was lying on my side, with the cold metal of the contraption attached to my back folded up next to me. I clenched my teeth and blinked several times, trying to dissipate the pain. After most or it was gone, I tried to get up out of the small bed I was currently resting in. I lifted my head up, the eyes in the mirror matching my movements. The now familiar hydraulic sound of the arms rang as I moved them out of the way to get up.
I lost balance due to the weight and my unstable body and toppled over the side of the bed, directly on my face. I slowly lifted myself with the aid of the arms, and preformed a routine that I had been using for the time I had been here.
I turned around to face the sink, and used the arms to stabilize myself as I tried to wash myself in an attempt to keep myself clean. I punched the handle on the sink, not caring how much or how hot or cold it may have gotten, and simply dunked my head under the faucet. The water ran down my mane and neck, cooling as it went by. The water was rather luke-warm, which I suppose was lucky for me.
I pulled my head out after a minute or so under the small torrent of water from the sink. My mane felt gravid from the water it carried. I grabbed a towel from the showering unit next to the sink and tried to dry off as much as I could.
I remember attempting to use the shower the first day, and spent a little too long in there. The result was a large shock while wet. I refused for that to happen again.
I continued with my morning activities. I brushed my teeth, leaving a minty taste in my mouth. Then I picked up a small pinkish-blue bowtie that I had left on the corner of the sink from the previous night and put it on.
I wondered why I even bothered to put it on after all I had been through so far. There was no point to it. I assumed I simply put it on though habit.
I walked out, still using the help of the arms. The chamber was empty, as usual. I yawned, still extremely tired. I made my way to the board, and used one of the arms to pick up a piece of chalk.
I had gotten much better at using them. Over the time I had been here (which I assumed to be around two weeks), I had made massive strides in using this curse to my advantage. Originally, it would just be dead weight and get me around when I became fatigued. Then I tried to start using it, although it was never my intention to. It helped me complete more work in less time.
Not that I wanted to work at all... Sighing, I picked up a piece of chalk and started to work. A tune started to play in my head, and the world seemed to drown out behind me. It played a soft tune on a piano, reminding me of a breeze in the middle of a summer afternoon.
It was during these moments where I zoned out, and let my memories swim free within the confines of my mind... Turning back the gears of the clock and going back to better days...
"Hey, hey! Octy, are you listening?" a hoof clap in front of her face brought her attention back into focus. The world came back into focus as a brown shaded colt stood in front of her.
"I am sorry to say that I lost track of what you were saying. It is very hard to grasp concepts of space and time when one does not know the basics." I rested both hooves under my chin, setting down my front legs parallel to the table in front of me. The room they were in was a rather large one, with a single light shining high on the ceiling, and various parts cluttering the floor. A water heater-esk device stood in the corner of the room, and a pony seemed to be tampering with its insides, the sound of a turning wrench jumping around the room.
The brown colt across from me rubbed the back of his head, ruffling his already messy mane. "I am very sorry about that, my dear. But, this is just so... Cool!" he pointed down at a black cloth which had been tied around his neck in a fashionable manner. "Like bowties! Bowties are cool!"
I giggled. "Yes, bowties are cool. But, you were saying?"
He started to talk once more. "Yes, as I was saying, I have theorized that black holes emit a kind of energy. For the sake of understanding, I shall call it time energy."
"Yes, yes, you told me this several times before. What is new this time?" The pony in front of me confused me on occasion, but I knew he truly meant well, even if he did manage to boggle the minds of those around him.
"Well, you remember my brief explanation on it, yes?" he looked at me with an analyzing eye.
"I do remember the conversation quiet well, for you information." I reached back into my memory and pulled it to the forefront of my brain. "Time energy. A kind of energy made from the compression of the fabric of space-time. It has strange properties, and somehow has the ability to transmute itself to any other kind of energy, similar to how magic works."
"Bah. Magic. Time-space manipulation field, more like it. But that's a conversation for another day. Spot on, octy!" he put on a huge grin. "Yes, that is what I told you, although rather abridged."
"So, as you were saying?" I shifted position, changing my hoof position so that my face rested on one hoof, while the other rested perpendicular to the other, yet parallel to the table.
He started to appear extremely giddy, and his smile grew by a few centimeters. "I have conceived a machine that could, possibly, create a stable black hole and let us observe the flow of time energy!"
I simply stared at the pony in front of me. "There are several things wrong with that sentence." I gazed directly into the pony's eyes. "One, you said stable black hole. Two, you said possibly. And three, you said observe time energy."
I could visibly see the sweat start to form on his brow. "Well... Yes... But-"
"No. No. Just no. An artificial black hole? What are you thinking, doctor!" I slammed my hooves on the table. "and was it not you that said that time energy would be impossible to view because it instantaneously converts itself into the nearest available source of energy?"
"Now, now, do not think for one moment that I would not have thought of the possible scenarios that could result in our death and the destruction of this sector of the galaxy..." One of his eyebrows rose a bit and he turned away from me, beginning to talk to himself. "Well, actually, if it did fail then that would be rather catastrophic, wouldn't it?"
"Doctor!" I brought him back to reality from his thoughts. "About this black hole...?"
"Ah yes! Well, I have taken certain precautions..." he turned his head towards the device in the corner, where the pony was still working on it. "Minuette! How does it look?"
A blue head popped out from the inner workings of the machine, covered in bits of black grease. A horn peaked out from the multiple strands of two different hues from the blue mane, indicating the pony was a unicorn."It's almost ready! Perhaps a few more weeks, at best..."
"Thank you, Minuette!" He turned around and face me once more. "That's Minuette. A cousin of mine. She great, you know? Wants to go into dentistry, but she seems to have a knack for machinery like I do. She also-"
I cut him off before he went off on another tangent. "Doctor, you do realize you are introducing me to a pony who you yourself introduced me to a year ago and is one of my best friends?” I raised an eyebrow at that. He laughed nervously before I continued. “Back to the topic, Doctor!”
"Oh... Yes... That..." he cleared out his throat before continuing. "Well, that over there is a device Minuette and I designed together. It is made out of a special alloy that is highly conductive to what you call magic. We plan to amplify Minuette's magic using an amplifier and channeling it through the chamber, which should create a barrier on the inside which should prevent the black hole from collapsing on itself or getting any larger. It should also provide a buffer of time-space distortions to allow time energy to flow free into its natural form, and not converted directly into gravitational energy."
"Should?" I lifted an eyebrow in skepticism.
"Yes, should. All the math is correct, and I trust Minuette to provide an adequate time space field for this."
"You also mentioned something about an amplifier of sorts?"
He pulled out a small gem from a bag that sat on the table. "I got this, pardon the pun, gem from a gem field not far from ponyville, actually. It will suit our needs just fine."
I examined the rock in his hoof. It was a smooth sapphire ruby, from the look of it. It had the dimensions of a perfect sphere, most likely the doctor's work. The inside of the gem held a strange star-like pattern, which made a stunning shadow on the table.
"... I still think this is a ludicrously stupid idea. There are just too many things that could go wrong here, doctor!" I took the gem he was holding. "And I will be taking that so that you will not find a way to kill yourself in your dumb quest for science."
The doctor reached for the gem, but I kept it out of his reach. "Listen, Octy, I know this sounds dangerous-"
"Because it is!" I said.
"-but this is a perfectly safe procedure! This building is well hidden away from any ponies, there are several shutdown mechanisms I have put in place, and the most catastrophic thing that could happen would be that the black hole would simply collapse on itself! Trust me, I checked the math thrice!"
I thought over his explanation. It seemed like the doctor knew what he was doing (although really, it was impossible to tell). I conceded to his plan and lowered my hoof.
"Fine. Build your machine. But do note that I will be holding on to this," I tucked the gem away into my personal saddle bag, "and I will be here to make sure you don't get yourself into too much trouble."
I knew the doctor's record. He was constantly getting involved in things he shouldn't be getting involved in, and I usually had to bail him out of such situations.
"Right. I wouldn't do it if you were not there, Octavia." He flashed a smile before turning around and walking over to his cousin. "Oh Minuette! How is she fairing?"
I turned around and walked out of the building, leaving the doctor to his machines.
White. A bleak color. A color that was there and not there at the same time. It was this color I saw when I opened an eye.
“hmmm…” I groaned out. It strained my vocal cords, but at least I knew they still worked.
The distant beep of a life support unit reminded me that I was still alive. The rhythmic beating of my heart playing out the tempo to the song of my life.
The sound of hoof steps entered the scene, and I swiveled my eye in my socket in the direction of the noise. A white unicorn with a red mane and a cutie mark resembling a red cross was determined o be the source of the noise. She glanced at me, and then rushed over beside me.
“Oh thank Celestia you are awake! Wait here and try not to perform any strenuous movements. I’ll get the doctor!”
‘What am I doing in a hospital?’ The past was a large puddle of mud, and I could not make out the memories that lay underneath. ‘The last thing I remember… what was it?’
The face of a brown colt came to mind. Then I was struck by a flood of hazy memories. Golden dust. Noise. An explosion. The doctor…
“DOCTOR!” My voice was incredibly raspy, and it hurt to try and talk at that volume. My voice only produced a slight whisper. “No no no no no no…”
The sounds of hoof steps hitting marble were reintroduced to me as I thought about the startling information in my thoughts. The nurse from before was now accompanied by a bespectacled red maned colt with a red coat and a cutie mark of a yellow wavy line.
“Octavia. Finally awake, I see. Do you remember what happened?” I was sure my memories were correct, but I wanted confirmation. I shook my head. “Responds to words. Good. Responded to her name. Even better. Slight memory loss. A common occurrence, nothing too detrimental…”
As he rambled on, I ventured back into my thoughts. The doctor… no, it is just not possible… he promised me… he promised…
“Octavia? Are you still with us?” The doctor in front of me said. I nodded my head and he continued. “Now, tell me, how many pens are in that cup over there?”
“Wha- what… doctor…” I tried to voice my worries, but it came out warped and I started to cough.
The doctor sighed. “Listen, you have been in a coma for around a month, so it is integral that I get these results so I can measure your current status. Also, please do not strain yourself. It’s not healthy.”
I took a breath and decided to relax and process the new information. One month…. I was in a hospital in a coma for one month?! This was unreal…
The doctor continued to talk to me, spouting out yes or no questions. I answered them to the best of my ability, mostly just shaking my head in the proper direction. I was still trying to comprehend how long I had been here. It would usually take just a few days to maybe two weeks to completely heal a patient or pull them out of a coma. I had been out for a month… What kind of damage had been done to me?
The doctor got up, finishing his questions, and made for the door. “Oh, that’s right. Octavia, you have a visitor. Somepony by the name of Minuette? She asked us to alert her when you woke up. She’s in the hall at the moment.”
Minuette was here? Had she been waiting for me? Perhaps she could explain what had happened…
The blue unicorn cantered in slowly, with a solemn look on her face. “Hello, Octavia….”
“The Doctor… What happened?” I managed to wheeze out between breaths.
Tears. I saw tears stream down her face, glittering slightly in the light. She moved a hoof to remove the salty liquid from her face, but they continued to poor from her eyes. “He’s… he’s gone…”
I had feared this. I knew deep in my heart that he had left this world, but I did not want to believe it.
“Dead…” I whispered.
Minuette seemed to cry even more when I said that. “No… It’s worse than that… He never existed…”
What did she mean, he never existed? Of course he existed! “What…Are… you… talking about?”
“HE NEVER EXISTED! HE WAS WRITTEN OUT OF TIME AND SPACE AND IT’S MY FAULT!” She continued her downpour of tears on the bed I had been resting on, creating a wet splotch.
“What..?” Her fault? How was any of this her fault? Another question to be added to the list of growing questions…
She sniffed a bit and took out a picture she had been keeping. It was a photo that contained a machine in the background, and two ponies, with one being herself, and the other being minuette. There was a key piece missing from the photo though.
The doctor had been with us, standing in between us when we had taken the photo. He was nowhere to be seen.
“There are no photos… nopony remembers him…. He just… never existed…”she managed to choke out in between sobs.
“Then… Why do we…?” I remembered him. I still had a pristine memory of the time we had spent together. The times we had tea. The times he took me to explore Equestria. The times he accidentally blew himself up with one of his contraptions. The times where he would comfort me when I was lonely… depressed…
“I don’t know… I don’t know…” She said.
Tears engulfed my eyes as I began to cry as well. The doctor was gone. He had promised us, he promised us it would be okay! He abandoned us….
Eventually, we fell asleep, falling into the river of dreams and despair.
"Octavia." The sound of many voices speaking in tandem hit my ear. The sound brought me out of my memories and back to reality.
"Yes, zero?" Zero. That was what I knew about the voice. Zero. A name I had conceived. I knew nothing about him or her, so I simply called the voice zero one day, and he or she didn’t seem to mind.
"I must commend you on your work so far. Not only is it poor, but I could have made such strides in an hour." Zero was truly an enigma. Some days (or what I assumed were days) he or she was as flamboyant as a flamingo, while other days he or she was a narcissistic bastard whose only sole desire was to raise himself up higher a peg. Today, it seemed to be the latter. "It does bring me so much joy in seeing another pony suffer and grovel at my hooves, so I suppose you are not such a complete waste of space..."
I told myself to not get angry at zero's remarks. I knew nothing good could come out of them. "What do you want?"
"Nothing, Octavia. Nothing at all." Zero left, leaving me puzzled. Zero's visits had an agenda. They always have an agenda. I ignored it, deciding to simply continue working.
I stared at my work, looking it over. I had come up with a theory over the time I had been here. It was incredibly convoluted, but I figured that the harder it was to pull off, the more time it would take me to build and the higher of a chance I would have to escape.
The original formula had a form of gamma radiation convert it to magic. There was a problem though. All known forms had at least some radiation escape. Radiation had a profound effect when mixed with magic. A rather explosive effect. I knew that if I tried to do that and blow up the machine with zero piloting, zero would know, so that was immediately thrown out. I had to find a way to not leak radiation. The solution came to me quite a while ago. Time energy. I recalled the rather strange properties that the doctor theorized. Time energy, when it touched another form of energy, spent a few nano-seconds in a state that was an amalgam of both time energy and the other source, creating something brand new. Time energy, if put in an area where two kinds of energy existed, always went for the one that was the strongest. The doctor represented it as a rather simple equation. B>A. TE+A=A+A. TE+B=B+B. TE+A+B=B+B+B. Theoretically, magic was the strongest kind of energy out there, so if I put magic, gamma radiation, and time energy in the same location, it would all be coverted to magic.
I could have simply went from time energy to magic, but that would not have given me enough magic. I planned to use magic to stabilize the black hole into a manageable form, while also using it to separate the time energy from the black hole's grasp. The magic would also convert air to uranium, to begin the reaction.
The problem with this was, too much uranium, and it will not meet the magic in equal amounts when it hits the time energy, causing complications and the collapse in the process. To little, and the reaction would not give enough magic, and the black hole would destabilize and spiral out of control, or collapse.
The Math portion was hard enough to figure out, but the dynamics of the machine would be even harder.
I returned to the equation at hoof, puzzling out the minute details.
Bells. Today it was bells. Ringing in my ear. Ringing in my soul. Playing in tandem with the strokes of the chalk on the board. Or perhaps it was the other way around, with my being synchronizing with the tone of the deep, hollow bells...
They rung out in a slow, sad tune. Soon this tune was accompanied by a piano and a cello. The tune drifted in and out, bringing sadness and melancholic feelings in waves. It was a song for the soul, a song that ripped open old wounds and then stitched them back together.
Time had passed. So much time, yet no concrete way to measure it. The concept of time had long since left me in this white walled place where she had been held. Time had been replaced by work. Work meant music. And music meant escape from reality.
My mane had become disheveled, unkempt. The bow tie which I usually wore had become faded, stained white from chalk. My gray coat had started to pale. Dry, unblinking tired eyes stared at the black hole of science, drawing in one's need to sleep, eat, or breathe. My eyes darted all over the board, the extra set of arms doing their own calculations in the margins.
Drums. Drums were added to the trifecta of instruments. I could feel the snare power its way from the background to the front as she erased a few more lines and replaced them. The tune, although not speeding in any way in tempo, swelled under the power of the drums, bringing it to the forefront of my mind.
“Hello again, Octavia.” The instruments stopped. This was the second time in what I had guessed was a week he had called me. Strange. Visits were usually rare and infrequent. This was something different.
“What do you want?” I kept my response the same as last time. Short, simple, and to the point.
“You have new company.” Zero ended his message. So he found another pony to do his bidding…. I was unsure whether to be happy or angry. On one hoof, I now had somepony to keep me company in this place. On the other hoof, Zero had gone off and kidnapped somepony else for what dastardly deeds he needed to perform.
A door to the left of my current position made itself known. I had noticed a slight indent on that side of the wall several times before, but thought nothing of it. The doors swooshed to the side revealing a pony in what appeared to be a cloak and mask ensemble. Light seemed to be absorbed by the dull brown cape that covered most of his form, and the dark gray mask he wore only showed a pair of dark brown eyes.
He slowly walked out of the room he had been in, taking shifty glances of his new surroundings, a metal clinking noise sounding out wherever he stepped. I noticed the metal that made up the mask was not solely confined to his face. It seemed to cover his entire body, from what I could tell.
He noticed my presence, stiffening slightly before continuing forward, stopping directly in front of me. He had to look up slightly because I had been using the arms to raise myself a bit to reach the parts of the board which I had trouble reaching normally.
“Hello… Who are you?” It seemed he wasn’t briefed on his situation like I was. Pity. Zero had left him in my care.
“Octavia. Zero took you too, it seems. I don’t have much time to chat, and the faster I get this done, the faster I get out of here.” I ignored the colt below for now and returned to the board. I probably should have been excited, or elated at the thought of contact with the outside world after so long. I wasn’t though. Perhaps this place was getting to me, but I truthfully just wanted to work. That thought scared me. What had zero done to me?
He took a step back after looking at me carefully. “Octavia? You mean that criminal who has been stirring up so much trouble?!” This peaked my interest. What was he talking about?
“Criminal, you say? I have been stuck down here, same as you are now, for who knows how long. What has happened to make you say so?” I decided to ask another question while I was at it. “Also, who are you? You must have done one thing or another to grab zero’s attention.”
He was extremely nervous, and probably in some sort of panic. I knew talking to him so that he could try and calm down was probably the best course of action so that he could at least have some semblance of mind while he was here.
“Well, you, or somepony that looks like you, has been going around, stealing objects of high value, destroying major facilities, and being a general menace to society. First, ponies thought that you had been kidnapped by the fiend, but evidence came to light that it was you who was doing all those things.” Somepony had been impersonating me and turning me into a criminal. I wanted to know why, but I knew I would not get the answers I sought here and now. I pushed the questions to the back of my mind and let him continue. “Oh, I’m Vector by the way. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Vector. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place where I had heard it before. I asked him a few more questions.
“What is your history? Why did you wind up here?”
“Well, I-“ He clutched his head. “Ouch…. My head hurts…”
I realized that he was probably under the same sort of system that kept me here. Zero had most likely kidnapped a family member of his as well, forcing him to put on the metal suit of his. This was likely his first warning that he should start working.
“Listen, I think that we should start. That headache is something zero probably implemented to keep you working. That suit, too.” The suit intrigued me slightly. What reason could zero have had to give him it? What did it do? What purpose did it serve?
I turned to face the board. He looked up at the board as well and marveled at the ominous mathematical formulas written on them.
He looked around a bit, before turning back to me. “You did this all without a computer?”
I blinked, and laughed. “Oh, no. I had some help, but not in the way you would think. I don’t know how zero did it, but these arms…” I tossed my head in the direction of one of the four appendages. “They are strange. I’ll think of a formula, the arms will have them written down already, with most of the math written down. It’s weird… in a sense. It’s like somepony ripped a piece of your mind and put it in these arms so that they know what to do before you know yourself. You know it’s there, but you’re not really paying attention. It’s like unconsciously breathing and consciously breathing, I suppose.”
Truly a remarkable feat in engineering these arms, I hated to admit. I had asked for a computer before, but zero ranted about how computers took imagination out of the scheme of things. I had not been paying attention.
He picked up a piece of chalk, and started to write out mathematical equations. And so the music returned, and all was well in a land where nothing was in its correct position, including my mind.
Computing away numbers…. To the sound of drums….
“Listen, I know that it seems hopeless now, and I’m sure that you have already thought about this or attempted it, but trust me, I will find a way out of here, for the both of us.”
Escape… Ha. I couldn’t leave if I tried, but perhaps… maybe…. There were two of us now…
And so the music returned to enrapture my mind, and all was forgotten, except the strange shapes on a field of black that my mind transformed into calculations.
alright! author's note time! Now, this is just a quick heads up that this story does not update all that quickly, and i still do need someone well versed in marvel lore to help me sort all this out. Also, if anyone can guess any music i put up here (Which is really cool if you can) then i might give you a spoiler or two.
On a secondary note, i have some story ideas i have posted up on my blog on my page. I tend to have a lot of ideas, so if anyone wants to check them out and anyone wants to see them, then i might have the inclination to type it out.
Please leave a comment! ...if that's okay with you....