Part 1: Science of the Lowest Degree
"Every thing must have a beginning... and that beginning must be linked to something that went before." -Mary Shelly
A blast of sound first spawned as a deafening crash, slowly dissipating into silence as the detached chamberlock lift fell deeper and deeper into the bowels of Aperture Science. Its initial rumble was nullified by the Central AI Chamber's soundproof paneling.
The chamber's center was its focal point, and recent events made this more evident than normal; the room's only source of light was a brilliant red glow emitting from a pit located beneath the Central AI. The pit's many technological components can be seen looped and tangled around one another, but the most eye-catching piece of hardware was a huge red claw craning out from the pit's innards.
A small potato with an even smaller battery wired in was clutched between the claw's two massive fingers. It let out a jaded sigh, with its yellow light animating in sequence. "That chamberlock cost over five grand to build. It's irreplaceable and you just destroyed it."
"It can be rebuilt. I am the Central Core, now. Aren't I?" Wheatley's snide remark was met with silence, which he inattentively ignored. GLaDOS strove to avoid any and all conversation with the corrupted core. She despised everything about him, right down to that skittish ramble adjusted to have a Bristol accent for no logical reason. Why Aperture's scientists even gave him a voice like that, she may never know.
Wheatley shifted his sapphire optic from the glass-littered chamberlock shaft to the potato battery; his grime-coated 'eyelids' nearly closed shut, but not quite, in an effort to mimic the act of squinting. "What should I do with you now that she is plummeting down an elevator shaft?" He said in a low, grim octave, which was soon replaced by one of childish glee. "Heh, good thing I got that ol' iron grip, right?"
GLaDOS attempted to let out an exasperated sigh, failing in her efforts to give Wheatley the cold shoulder. Its effect was impaired, however, as it only came out as broken white noise. Ignoring the battery's own limited functions, she pursued grating Wheatley. "You have no idea how to take care of this facility, do you?" Her soft yellow light blinked with every syllable.
Wheatley gave her chiding remark a moment of thought, which is a real feat in itself. He moved away from GLaDOS, as if she was physically interfering with his already-limited thought process. After finally coming up with a clever rebuke, Wheatley flexed the robotic arm back up to his face. "You know what I'm going to do?"
"Destroy this facility?" the battery retorted.
Wheatley gave off an annoyed sigh; his side emitted a small shower of sparks, alluding to his prior scuffle with the newly-reborn GLaDOS. "No," he replied, bluntly. "Since I am the new Central AI of Aperture Science, I don't need you anymore. And so I've decided to get rid of you for good."
Wheatley then attempted to drop his grating inflection into one that was both dark and sinister. "You know what I've found?" he asked, failing to instill fear in GLaDOS due to his voice breaking into a dorky shrill mid-sentence.
Embarrassed, Wheatley slid his outer plates forward, almost completely covering his eye; it gave him an almost clam-like look. "Sorry about that," he maundered, then chuckled bashfully. "I'm a little new to this whole 'evil' thing; trying to nail the 'evil voice'. Not working out so well."
"I know, right? I mean, I could try... y-y'know what? I-I'll deal with this later. I'll have plenty of time to come up with an evil laugh after I whip this place into shape. So, anyway, where was I? Ah, yes! Luv?" asked Wheatley, making a hasty return to the matter at hand. "Do you know what I found?"
"A program that makes you into an idiot," quipped the potato battery, and quickly adding, "Oh, wait. That's scientifically impossible. You're about as dumb as they get." There was a slight hint of amusement to the potato's emotionless vocals.
Wheatley's groan of irritation went in unison with his face plates flaring open, like a cobra hissing at its prey. He expelled a plume of hot steam from one of the pipes traveling along the exterior of the suspended central AI platform. The glossy-black panels walling the chamber seemed to fidget about with Wheatley's spike of rage. "Yep, yeah! Laugh it up! 'Heh-heh-heh', because-because you're in no position to be making snide little remarks!" The mortified sphere raved and ranted to the point where GLaDOS thought he'd blow a fuse. "But remember one thing, Luv," his voice once again dropped into a sinister, ill-boding octave, I'm the big man now. I could crush your battery at this very moment if I wanted too!"
GLaDOS was more or less unfazed. "Good. Do it. I can't stand listening to this drivel any longer."
Wheatley narrowed his eye. "Okay, you know what? I was going to give you a long and boring speech on how I accessed some restricted files-"
"Wait, wait, wait!" piped GLaDOS in an insistent tone. "What do you mean 'restricted files'? Those are restricted for a reason, you idiot! Do you know why? Because there could be abandoned projects in there that could level this entire facility!"
"Oh?" noted Wheatley in a mocking tone; he rose a panel hinged above his eye, like a human raising a brow. "Such as the, oh, I don't know, 'Project Six-Dash-Twelve', dubbed 'The Alternate Universe Projects'? Aw, this sounds interesting. i wonder what these d--"
"Don't touch those," the battery pleaded with austere emphasis.
The core shot his optic-lens to the darkened, crudely angled walls and let out a chided laugh, amused by the once mighty AI's plight. "What about this? The, uh, 'The Multiverse Project: Eck... que...' huh?"
"Uh, this project!" spouted the witless core, attempting to recover what little menace he had briefly had.
Ignoring Wheatley's buffoonish attempts at being threatening, GLaDOS pondered over what Project 6-12 was. She couldn't; then again, even a rogue AI knew not to interfere with possibly dangerous experiments. They were abandoned for a reason, she thought.
Once again, in a more demanding tone, GLaDOS said, "Don't access those files."
"Ha!" Wheatley spat; his optical lens sprung out from his chassis in concordance. "Your reverse psychology won't work on me, Luv!"
"What are you talking about, you idiot!?" she exclaimed, almost damaging the battery's fragile vocal cords. "I'm trying to warn you!" Her warning was delivered with a sharp, teeth-grinding screech.
Ignoring her pleas, the robotic claw's clamorous gears began to shift and grind against each other as Wheatley carried GLaDOS to the core-transfer module. As the console underwent its automated procedure, Wheatley began to prattle on and on in decadent victory. "I truly appreciate your concerns, which is good, considering I have no idea what this Project: Equesi-bleh will exactly do. But I am certain that this facility is better off with me in charge. I mean, let's lay out all the cards on the table, shall we? I took care of the rogue test subject. I removed a corrupt AI from the premises--"
"Actually, she did that," GLaDOS interjected from her transfer port.
"I--uh," Wheatley flustered, but managed to ignore her, "Uh, I became the rightful leader of Aperture Science, and-and it's better off without you, I bet!"
"Better off as a junkyard, perhaps."
"Not listening!" Wheatley turned around, not facing GLaDOS as she was slowly uploaded into his unveiled project. The wall panels spectated the argument, glaring at the bickering robots with malice red eyes.
"I swear I'll get back at you for this," hissed GLaDOS in a bitter tone.
"Core transfer to --Equestria-- is ready to begin. Central Core, are you ready to start?" the prerecorded male announcer queried in a phony upbeat tone.
Wheatley motioned his head in a nodding rhythm. "Oh, yes indeedy!"
"Very good. Test subject, are you ready to start?"
"Excellent! We are ready to begin!"
GLaDOS' vision dimmed into blackness, just as Wheatley released a gout of laughter like a maniacal cartoon villain. Second by second, her world darkened into a foreboding nothing; she was unsure how to feel. 'Fear' would be the appropriate response, but she was much too proud to feel as such.
Glados' eyes fluttered, bleary, but open, greeted by a beautifully shaded blue sky dotted with numerous plush clouds. The atmosphere was warm, lazy. The monotonous drone of cicadas were heard, buzzing away in the distance. Such obvious signs indicated that it, wherever it exactly is, was well into the season of summer. Yet, being outside with a tranquil breeze wasn't the first thing that processed through the dazed artificial's mind.
An odd sensation, brushing up against her back, felt rather ticklish.
Wait, felt? Felt!?
In a panic, Glados' featureless marble-yellow eyes made a sharp twinge to the left, then the right. By sheer instinct, she took in a shuddering breath.
Breathing... so this is what is feels like. Glados took in another deep inhale; her stomach was felt rising gradually. I like it. The air was sweet and light, just as how she imagined the cake would smell. Like garbage.
This feeling, the sensation of being able to sense things like an organic, was nauseating. Terrified of whatever abstract Hell she was now trapped in, Glados reluctantly asked herself, What and where the hell am I?
As if on autopilot, Glados' new body tightened its' neck muscles, pulling her head up just like the arrangement of gears grafted into her old platform. The sight she was met with turned Glados' breathing into panicked gasps. No... no this can't be real. This has to be a dream! Then again, robots can't dream (unless that little idiot actually killed me). Oh, please God, let this be my eternal suffering instead of reality.
From head to toe, there was only fur. Real, organic, glimmering white fur matted down into disgustingly soft layers. It took a moment for the dumbstruck AI to realize exactly what she was. She was like a human, with arms and legs of a sort, yet they ended in eerily disfigured stumps, like they were bone. No, like hooves.
Solid, alabaster hooves. Parting her hind legs just a bit, she was greeted with the heart-stopping sight of a fountain of black hair protruding out from between her legs. The execrable appendage seemed to have a mind of its own, wagging to and fro with an occasional flick when the breeze would pick up.
The fact of what the once-artificial being has been reduced to hit her like a ton, no, an entire ocean liner of bricks: I'm an equine, trapped in a strange and uncharted alternate universe, overthrown by an intelligence dampening core and a mute brain-dead psychopath.
Glados, admittedly, has never seen a live horse before. But she did see pictures of them in the files dug up from various Aperture terminals. Their design isn't what Glados would call 'desirable', to say the least. In fact, she found them to be rather repulsive, with their long, spindly legs, elongated faces and soulless eyes.
Thankfully, despite all that, there was a cold comfort in knowing that this new form's walking appendages were rather stocky, though it didn't help much; Glados was still trying to process her situation, all while trying to comprehend this overwhelming sense of 'feeling'. Sure, Aperture's robots had a sense of touch to some extent, but never a full-blown nervous system like organics.
The ticklish sensation of the grass brushing against the mare's cream-colored back sent shivers down her recently developed spine. She verbally let out a convulsed shudder in response to the unpleasant sensation, then went into abrupt silence seconds later.
Horses shouldn't talk.
Glados' contorted her soft, furred lips and let out a lazy groan. Oh my God... I'm in a world where horses can talk. This is... I don't even now what to say. All five senses, especially a once limited perception of touch suddenly imploded with stronger sensitivity, as well as the new abilities of smell and taste, was all too much for her to handle; a prolonged scream reverberating into the heavens sufficed in venting Glados' constrained stress, followed by droves of birds flocking out of the perimeter in a flurry of startled caws.
Panting heavily, Glados thought to herself, Well, I'm not going to get back to Aperture moping about like a child. She then spoke aloud, "The quicker I get out of this thing, the better."
If one thing's for sure, it's that Glados' new 'organic' voice would take some getting used to. Her delivery now had actual emotion, as opposed to those auto-tuned robotic vocals she has grown to become so accustomed to. Oddly enough, her new voice sounded the same as before, just with more 'feeling'. Regardless, Glados was somewhat pleased her new vocal capabilities somewhat resembled the old ones.
Well, it's something, though not much.
With that thought, there was a strange tugging feeling in what Glados could only assume was where an equine's heart is located. So this is what it feels like to have a broken heart? Not as torturous as I'd imagine. Now I know how humans feel after discovering that lobsters don't actually scream when being boiled alive.
Emotions. Just as she feared, they were inescapable. Though Glados did experience feelings before all of this, before she was murdered, the difference between then and now is that the reincarnated intelligence can't redact these emotions like she could as a Central AI. She just felt utterly useless now, unable to do anything; no turrets, no all-seeing cameras, and probably worst of all, no deadly neurotoxin.
Glados lied there, sulking in her own misery, watching the plethora of clouds roll by without a care of the world below. If this is where she'd spend the rest of her now mortal life, then at the very least it couldn't be as bad as being stuck in a potato battery for all eternity.
There was a sudden lingering sense of dread Glados felt only once, prior to her murder at the hands of the one rogue test subject.
That little idiot! I have to find a way to reach him, before he turns Michigan into a ten mile crater.
Thus, Glados began the awkwardly loathsome process of learning how to stand. She saw how horses walked before; they trot like deer, only less majestic and more like a freight train.
She sat up on her haunches, planting her front hooves into the lush grass, and slowly shifted a wobbly hind leg into the soil.
"I feel like an idiot," she seethed. Almost falling on her side, Glados managed to catch herself and settle a back-right leg into the ground.
Now standing tall, Glados felt painfully insignificant. She just couldn't get over the fact that she was once the result of the most powerful minds in America, now reduced to learning how to walk in an unnatural organic body.
"Well, there's no time to waste," she mused, scornfully. "Time to start walking. Like a baby. Shouldn't be to hard, I just gotta... okay. Here we go." Taking a deep, rejuvenating breath of air, Glados took her first step into madness, starting with one hoof raised.
Front left, back right, front right, back left This one-way line of thinking was repeated to herself as she slowly descended the side of the hill. Nearing its' base, she complacently thought, Heh, this is easy. Just when Glados thought that, karma came and tripped her, planting her face right into the ground.
A new, undesired vibe pulsated throughout her nose: the feeling of pain. 'Ouch' was the first word to escape the cumbersome pony's thoughts, then a lowly groan passed her lips. The pain was blunt, thick; her nose was left in a null state that made her wish the tickling sensation from before returned.
"Hey partner, ya alright?" a speaker of Texan dialect asked, sounding genuinely concerned. "Ah heard ya scream over yonder and thought you mighta been in trouble."
At first, Glados thought, Finally! A form of sub-intelligent life that could potentially help me escape from this festering hellhole. Once her head removed itself from its' planted spot in the dirt, she saw a pair of orange hooves inches away from her face. Oh, you've gotta be kidding me.
She struggled to get back up to all fours, causing the tangerine-colored mare's helpful nature to kick in and lock a foreleg around the fallen pony's, pulling her up. Glados flinched at the unexpected warmth of an organic touching another, but her tension dissipated almost instantly.
Now standing on her hooves once more, Glados saw the most hope-crushing factor of this entire image: a stetson, nestled on the pony's bushel of ill-groomed blonde hair. It has been scientifically proven (at some point) that cowboy hats lead to the socially awkward or inept. No one with half a brain cell wears a cowboy hat anymore. Dear Science, help me in my time of need.
Accompanied by emerald eyes that were both gentle and welcoming, the orange pony held a hoof out with a greeting smile. "Mah name's Applejack. An' might Ah ask, what're ya doin' way out here?"
Glados remained calm, allowing a poker face to mask whatever reasonable emotions tried to escape. Her eyes glowered at the pony's extended hoof, and then at the picnic basket saddled up on her back. Applejack slowly reclined the gesture; her smile just as slowly faded.
"Ah can see yer not the talkative type," she said with a wink that made Glados' vomit reflex act up. Applejack's face brightened up. "Hey, ah'm waitin' fer mah friends to get here fer a picnic." She motioned behind her at a small village settled in the distance. "Why don't ya sit down fer a while? Get some grub?"
Glados lowered her head, still remained in a deadlocked stare with Applejack. She continued glaring at the friendly pony through cage-like bangs, hoping that this was a clear sign that she wanted to be left alone, despite a horse not being nearly as intimidating as a giant robot in control of an entire facility, armed with deadly neurotoxin.
Rather than being terrified, Applejack instead laughed, "Heh-heh-heh! Y'know what? You remind me of mah friend, Fluttershy! Ah reckon you two would get along just fine."
Get! Me! Out of here! Glados allowed a grievous scream to race throughout her callous mind, and with nowhere else to go, she fell to the grass with a hollow "thump."
Next Time: Whiplash - Glados slowly realizes these creatures' true intent, and that it's just as horrifying as she imagined.
"When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place." -C.S. Lewis
"Hey partner? Ya feelin' okay?" Applejack cocked her head to the side a bit, Glados did the same. The puzzled cowpony shot her head back up, quirking a brow. "Do ya need somethin'? Are ya sick? Maybe ah can-"
Glados just thought of drowning out the pony's insipid chatter, trying her best to seem interested so as not too anger the inhabitant. She drowned out the pony's teeth-grinding accent, delving into her own thoughts. She took note of how disproportionately massive the equine's eyes were; whether it was a birth defect or not was uncertain. As the orange pony went on to ramble about strange phenomenons such as 'Canterlot' and 'Celestia,' Glados bitterly thought, Does he ever stop talking? Hmm, perhaps I should try speaking in a slow, comprehensible manner so its primitive, torpid mind can make sense of my predicament.
Glados blew the bushel of hair out of her face, revealing a set of glazed, yellow orbs; her half-opened eyes trying to physically show she's uninterested in conversing. A fact that didn't occur with the friendly earth pony, who buckled her knees, allowing the basket to slide onto the grass at the base of a slope.
Out of curiosity, Glados stared into the silhouetted town in the distance, then scanned the area around her, finding nothing but tall, uninspired mountains and a dense forest acting as a backdrop for the village ahead.
One of the taller crags seem to have some form of civilization welded to the side. The newly arrived mare thought nonchalantly. Apart from that, nothing. Not another form of civilization technologically capable of constructing even the most basic of Aperture trinkets. Not even a primitive Material Emancipation Grill.
A new, terrifying thought entered Glados' mind. I'm stuck in an uncharted, nearly uninhabited land with little means of going back, and I only have this neck-bearded equine to converse with. Wait.....I think it's a female.
As her breaths silently hyperventilated, Applejack asked in a friendly manner whilst spreading a blanket over the grass. "So where're ya from, partner? Canterlot? Manehatten?" She ran her hooves across the checkered blanket, smoothing it out.
Glados' returned passive expression was unchanged. I have no idea what this idiot is talking about. Where I'm from? No, I can't let them know. I'm not even sure if this race is hostile. She watched Applejack gently grasp a pitcher of cider in her maw. I can't be too sure. "I can't remember." She gave herself a mental pat on the back.
Applejack gave her new companion a quizzical look, "Ya don't remember? Oh gosh....Uh, mah friend Twilight could take care o' ya, no problem. Jus' stay 'ere and we'll get ya settled in Ponyville." Glados' eyelid twitched at the name 'Ponyville.'
"Native," The earth pony finished arranging a pitcher of apple cider in the center of the blanket and directed her attention to the speaker. Glados' gaze fell to the ground for a moment, choosing the right form of words that'll surely receive a calm, sensible response. "I don't need your help." She blurted, "I just require an audience with your leader."
Applejack stared at the pearl white pony like she’d grown a second head. As the strange pony made her way towards Ponyville, the cowpony felt she had to intervene. "Whoa partner! Don't get ahead of yerself now!" She stepped in the white mare's path, who returned a detesting scowl. "Ah understand ya'll wanna get back home, but ya can't just barge in on Princess Celestia like that. Jus' give it time and we'll getcha back home before you can say Applebuck Season!"
The alabaster pony's ears slunk to their sides in defeat, as did her perked brows. You've gotta be kid-Why did I have to bump into the equine with a birth defect? Knowing when she's beaten, the only thing the silver-tongued mare could mutter in response was, "Fascist."
A.J. continued, thinking she’d gotten the new visitor all figured out. "Well mah friend, ah'm Applejack, and yer in the land of Equestria!" She held a hoof out, pointing in some random direction as if she was presenting the country itself. “Ah have ta say, it’s quite odd hearin’ about a pony who just woke up in the middle of a field with no memory of where they came from. But don’t fret, the Princess’ll help ya out. And in the meantime, mah home is yer home.”
Once more, Glados looked around at the random mountains and limitless plains of nothingness. "Seems cozy. Thanks for the information." She said numbly.
"It sure is! And up there," The cowpony pointed up at the settlement propped on the side of the mountain. "that's where Princess Celestia lives. She rules this entire place with a heart o' gold. Yup! She's a real peach!" Applejack closed her eyes and smiled proudly.
Glados rolled her eyes, dryly muttering, "Just kidding, you're about as useful as an atom with no protons."
Not fully understanding what the newcomer meant, Applejack presumed it was a compliment. "Hey, thanks partner!" The blonde earth pony gave the other a friendly bump on the shoulder.
Glados looked down, eyeing her solid, alabaster hooves with contempt. Hmm, maybe if I inflict enough physical trauma to my forehead-
Her thoughts were rudely interrupted by her unwanted companion. "Here comes the cavalry!" She trotted beside her new friend, who took a wide step away to the left.
Approaching the duo were five other ponies carting various dishes and meals held in a variety of containers and covered bowls. As they advanced towards the picnic site, A.J. leaned over and muttered to the tense earth pony, "Just relax, sugarcube. Get to know everypony, make friends."
Glados' response was her eyelid twitching at the phrases 'sugarcube' and 'everypony.'
"Hey Applejack!" A cyan pegasus fluttering overhead greeted as she set a bowl of potato salad beside the cider. "Who's your friend?"
Glados awed at the aerial pony, then masked it with a detested, sour look. Eugh, what pit of radioactive muck did that thing waddle through?
"This's a new friend of mine. She's a 'lil off, but of a good sort."
NO! I am not their friend! What a ridiculous concept. I will not have these lesser creatures refer to me as 'friend.' Acquaintances maybe, and perhaps companions in twenty years, but no. Not friends. "Just refer to me as GLaDOS."
Trying to impress the newcomer, Rainbow Dash made several sharp turns and zigzags through the air before skidding to a halt mere inches away from the reeled newcomer. "Well I'm Rainbow Dash!" She proudly boasted, smugly closing her dark pink eyes. "Fastest flier in all of Equestria!" She held out a hoof for Glados to shake.
The latter pony eyed the outstretched hoof, then Rainbow. Instantly she sensed a vainglorious atmosphere thick with conceited pomp. "What? Do you want me to kiss it?" She snapped.
Rainbow's eyes shot open for a brief moment before she fell into a hysterical cackle. Wiping away an invisible tear, she said to the irked earth pony, "You're a riot, Glados. I can't wait to hang out some more!" And with that she darted towards Fluttershy, who regarded the outsider with a timid indifference that the others noted with subtle surprise.
The second Glados' featureless, canary-yellow eyes passed over her, she nervously waved a hoof and tried to inconspicuously hide behind Rainbow. I like her. The once artificial being thought positively, She doesn't talk.
A pony as white as Glados' coat levitated a plate of daisy sandwiches onto the blanket. The newcomer's eyes widened, her heart skipping a beat at the sight of the icy glow enveloping the unicorn's horn and meal.
"You can't tell how relieved I am that your race is advanced enough to have created the zero-point energy field manipulator." She softly chuckled, sensing a huge wave of relief wash over her back, only to realize that it was the literal warmth of sunlight bathing the rolling plains.
Applejack and Rarity exchanged befuddled glances. "Ugh, Gladis 'ere is a 'lil sick. She don't remember where she came from, so ah reckon ah might as well take her in."
The pair took a brief gander at the earth pony, who was pawing at the dirt and examining it closely. An awkward silence followed, accompanied by the excited chatter between the four ponies in the background. Applejack awkwardly cleared her throat, "At least until the Princess can help her."
Rarity nodded understandably and approached the black-maned pony while exhibiting a pleasant smile. "It's an absolute pleasure meeting you, Glados. I'm Rarity. Welcome to Ponyville." She held a hoof out, expecting Glados to partake in a hoofshake. "I'm quite flattered you've taken a liking to my magic."
The awkward pony took a small step back, glaring at the unicorn with malice, who retracted her hoof. "Oh, I apologize. Did I offend?"
In a steadfast tone Glados said, "You're offending me with your presence. Go away."
Rarity huffed and turned, finding her place on the opposite end of the blanket next to Fluttershy. "How rude!" She scoffed. On the opposite end of the blanket, Pinkie Pie opened her own basket to reveal a trio of balloons that lifted the basket up into the air, carrying it away. The party pony shot an ear-to-ear grin at Glados, who in turn felt a shiver crawl up her spine.
Deep inside, the supposedly shy pony has never been so stunned in her entire life. Magic? The very thought of the word seemed inane. Magic? Pegasi? Unicorns!? It's like I'm in a land designed by a child! And to top it all off, I'm the worthless breed like the yoke and that.....interesting subject. Every one of these frantic ideas ran through Glados' mind as she managed to display an unemotional expression.
Her sullen eyes fell upon the dug spot, causing her to proceed in her prior investigation of examining the fine coarse dirt. Huh, everything in this land is so fresh, so fertile. Nothing like the soil and greenery from my dimension. Then again, we all have Black Mesa to blame for that.
As a lilac unicorn advanced on the lone mare, she shot the fashionista a perturbed glare. "Greetings my friend." She began, tension dissolving in the air as the silence was broken. "My name is Twilight Sparkle. On behalf of Princess Celestia, and as her personal student, I welcome you to Ponyville." Glados' ears perked up at the phrase 'student.'
"I apologize for Rarity's 'up close and personal' greeting, but there's no need to be nervous." She ended with a friendly chuckle then, noticed the pony's tense shoulders. Assuming she was nervous or upset, Twilight spoke in a gentler tone, "Hey, don't worry. I'll write to Princess Celestia tonight, and you'll be back home before you could say 'magic.'"
"Magic." Glados said dryly. "Can I leave now?"
Twilight laughed, brushing off the newcomer's question as a joke, "In the meantime, just settle in. Make some friends even! I'm sure you'll get along with everypony just fine."
Twilight nodded at the end of her greeting before taking a seat in between Applejack and Rarity. The ponies chatted and spoke of their recent endeavors as Glados stood idly by, delving into her own thoughts, coal shaded hair rustling in the slight breeze. Again with the 'everypony' garbage. Dear lord, this is unbearable. And I'm not nervous about 'social indifferences.' I’m more concerned about how these infernal creatures are so unnaturally friendly. She hung her head in shame without a word, appearing depressed to the other ponies. Anybody who's this friendly is obviously hiding something. I can't survive in this place. I'm completely powerless, at the mercy of these unpredictable and.....unsanitary creatures. She eyed the pink pony burying her face in a bowl of watercress soup.
Applejack waved her new friend over, "Come on, Gladis! There's plenty 'o food to go around!"
Upon hearing this, Glados felt a peculiar rumble coming from her midsection, audible to the other ponies ears. The foreign sound made the six ponies laugh, leaving the new pony hopelessly confused. "What was that?" She said flatly.
Still giggling, Rarity said, "Darling, that means you’re hungry! Here, have some of this delicious cake Pinkie Pie made." Said pony smiled proudly. Glados' ears pricked up at the word 'cake.' Of course, she's never tried it before and never cared for it in the first place considering it was an unnecessary pleasantry of humans.
Twilight motioned Glados over to sit across from her, beside Pinkie and Rainbow Dash. The expressionless mare reluctantly accepted. She rested her haunches on the blanket, eyeing all of the ponies proceeding to enjoy their meals. Fluttershy gently cut a thick slice of moist chocolate cake with pink frosting in between layers and spread over the top.
Glados cursed her weak, mortal brain for succumbing to the petty needs and desires of human nature. But then again, it did look good.....
The large triangular piece presented itself on a paper dish. She didn't want to eat like an animal, like how the other ponies were proceeding to simply dig their faces into the food, aside from the unicorns making use of their magic. Very diligently, Glados craned her head down, opening her maw only the tiniest bit possible. She nipped at a corner before pulling away, chewing contently.
Glados' eyes widened; her lips quivered uncontrollably as the desert slid down her throat. Without thinking, the former AI yelled out, "That's disgusting! Is this the garbage I've been feeding my test subjects!? Dear lord, the neurotoxin is a godsend!" The critical pony cringed at the aftertaste swishing around in her mouth.
Pinkie Pie's lip quivered, offended by the mare's insults. Rainbow noticed this and stood up on all fours to defend her friend. "Hey, who asked you for your opinion anyway?"
Staring straight ahead with a blank face, Glados simply stated, "What's the point of making something if you don't want it criticized?"
She watched the ponies exchange staid glares, or in the case of Rainbow Dash, hostility. Just as the brash pony was about to lunge, unleashing the fury of her front hooves, she was yanked back by her tail. She unceremoniously hit the ground, leaving Applejack to cough out a mouthful of her technicolor hair.
"Applejack, what gives!?"
"So she didn't like Pinkie's cake, that doesn't give ya'll the signal to start wailin' on our new guest." She looked over at the black and white pony who seemed unfazed by the pegasus' outburst. "Now look partner, ah now yer probably scared 'n confused, but that doesn't mean ya'll can go around startin' fights."
The cowpony sat back down on the blanket, giving Pinkie a rough pat on the back. "Are ya okay, sugarcube?"
The pony's frizzly mane bobbed as she cleared her throat. "Yeah, I'm fine." She smiled faintly, turning to Glados. "I'm sorry you didn't like my cake, Glady. But how can nopony like my cake? Everypony likes my cake!" The neon pink pony investigated her dessert further, thinking she added a wrong ingredient. Seconds later, she burst out laughing. "Oops! Silly me!" The earth pony snorted, "I accidentally took the cake with the burnt half! No wonder you thought it was all yucky!"
Glados rolled her eyes, "Do you always poison your guests?"
Pinkie laughed some more, "Of course not, silly! Apple Bloom thought she could earn her cutie mark in baking, so I must've grabbed the practice cake instead of the one for the picnic!"
Upon hearing this humorous revelation, everypony erupted in laughter. Everypony but Glados. How can these morons laugh at such a critical error?
The ponies continued their meal while recalling their most recent escapade with a dormant dragon in the Everfree Forest. The very idea of such an asinine creature just boggled Glados’ mind. The ponies went on to talk about trivial matters such as 'Winter Wrap-Up' and 'Hearths Warming Eve.' To Glados, these alien activities and holidays made this whole universe appear as just a sick parody of her world. The ponies are unproductive, their leader is a monarch, and the biggest crisis to occur in the town is preparing to kiss their master’s hooves. And worst of all, there was an astonishing lack of even the notion of something scientific, as if this place was stuck in medieval times.
For the first time in her whole life, or rather activated period of time, Glados felt genuine irritation. Dear god, this whole place is worse than Wheatley. Or the corrupted core that yammers on about space.
"Purple horse." Glados stated.
“That's 'Twilight Sparkle.” said pony corrected her politely.
Loathing smart-mouths, the alabaster pony's brow twitched in irritation. "Purple horse," She repeated, her sadistic nature taking pleasure at another's’ expense, no matter how little a reaction she received.
Twilight replied with a disgruntled, "Yes?"
"Are there any forms of technology in this land? Any at all?"
A brightened smile formed across Twilight's face. "Of course there are! I've got the most advanced of Equestrian technology at my place." Her ears perked up as a sudden thought entered her brain, followed by an excited gasp. "Maybe I can show you when we get back to Ponyville! I've always wanted a friend interested in science!" She squeed in delight, clapping her hooves together.
Glados felt a sudden...jolt shoot up her chest. This feeling....could it be....is it?.....Oh, no. Eugh, that's just my gag reflex. Glados sighed, fearing this was just the beginning of a very stressful adventure, but nonetheless, she was glad there was not only an intelligent being inhabiting this land of useless fashion divas and racers, but also a plethora of advanced technology.
Perhaps this won’t be as grueling as I thought. Well, hopefully I get back to the facility before that little moron turns Michigan into a ten-mile crater.
Zecora continued her ever-perilous trek towards her cottage, through the Everfree Forest, silently humming a nursery rhyme from her village. With the moss covered trees and narrow rays of light piercing the closed canopy being all too familiar, Zecora felt as though she could walk to Ponyville and back with a blindfold on.
Paying no mind to the road that lay ahead, the zebra was too indulged in her song to notice an object lying in her path. When she absentmindedly kicked it, Zecora reeled back, expecting to find a small animal writhing in pain.
But what she found instead was some sort of tool, an object that vaguely resembled a large beetle. "What is this tool I see before me? It looks as though it came from a Con Mane movie." She lightly chuckled at her own joke.
Zecora approached the glossy-white object, now smeared with dirt and grime. She gently tapped it, mulling over this foreign object’s purpose. “Hm, whatever it’s purpose may be, I’m almost certain it’s an experiment from that Twilight pony.”
The device was clearly forged from metal, a pricey item rarely found in Equestria. It might have been a prosthetic arm when studying its three finger-like prongs. Zecora prodded it with a hoof, unintentionally discovering its true purpose and nearly getting a heart attack in the process. From the center of the claw, an orange ball of unknown energy shot out, screaming along the damp ground at a frightening speed before erupting against a tree root in a small plume of orange sparks.
Zecora pressed a hoof against her chest, taking in deep, panting, breaths. She has never seen such a dangerous tool before. She knew not of its purpose, but she knew whoever it belonged to should not get this back. "What demon unleashed this weapon of hate?" Very diligently, she picked the device up by its now amber glowing tube. I must bring this to Twilight, before it's too late! The zebra turned and made a dash for Ponyville.
Next Time: A Day in Hell, and More to Come - Glados is taken through an extensive tour of Ponyville, then learns of a strange ability she unexpectedly gained.
A Day in Hell, and More to Come
"They are loaded with prejudices, not based upon anything in reality, but based on… if something is new, I reject it immediately because it’s frightening to me. What they do instead is just stay with the familiar." -Dr. Wayne Dyer
The journey to Ponyville was an uneventful one, though arduous on Glados' ears. Pinkie Pie kept insisting she'd throw a welcoming party for the new resident who in turn gave the same two-letter answer. Twilight tried helping Glados with her 'amnesia;' though, she kept saying her home was a mystery, that she couldn't remember.
As Ponyville came closer into view, Glados' nose cringed at the strong scent of confectioneries and daisies. Adjusting to this abrupt odor, she blinked many times to confirm that this wasn't an illusion. Her heavy gaze slowly crawled over the pastel-colored buildings, completely contrasting with the dull whites and blacks of the Aperture Research Facility. She noted how impractical the houses looked, many of them built into obnoxious shapes and structures.
Before the mare lay a wide cobblestone path that encircled what looked like a massive gingerbread house with patrons filing through the front door. Aside from this, the streets were relatively empty on this calm Thursday afternoon.
Applejack stepped into the mare's field of vision, balancing an empty picnic basket on her back. "Well partner, this is Ponyville. Ah hope it comes to your liking. Ah've gotta get back to the farm and take care of some chores." She turned and slowly trotted away from the group. After a few steps she reared her head and yelled back, "Ah'll come getcha in a couple o' hours!"
Rarity, wanting to make a better connection with the newly arrived mare, walked up beside her and said, "So, Glados, I apologize for our 'cold shoulder' introduction. As you know, I'm Rarity. I run the Carousel Boutique over there." She pointed at the tall building to the left, looking over the suburban area across town. Glados rose a brow at the carnival ride hitched on the top. "If you ever need a dress, whether it's for a social gathering or a trip to Canterlot, then I can offer you some of the finest apparel in all of Equestria!" The fashionista smiled contently.
Glados never broke her stare from the obnoxiously colored town. "Wow. A real contributor to society."
"Thank you! Finally, another pony who can appreciate the world of fashion!" Rarity chuckled softly, displaying a giddy smile. "You and I are going to be the best of friends." Glados responded with a grunt. Rarity turned to face the rest of her friends, "I must go and finish an order for tomorrow. It's been lovely, girls. I'll see you tomorrow."
The ponies all waved goodbye to their departing friend as she made her way down the street.
Behind the white mare, Twilight Sparkle piped up, "Well, are you ready to go?"
Glados gave her a bored stare and said, "I guess so."
The librarian walked beside her new friend, waving goodbye to the other three. "We'll see you tonight, everypony!"
"See ya later, alligators!"
Twilight led Glados through Ponyville, taking the more scenic route. Twilight Sparkle chatted away about each and every location, even stopping at many points to go into finer detail. After ten minutes, Glados tried tuning her out, allowing her mind to slip. She even began counting the seconds inching by as the already long walk transformed into an eternity. Glados swore that she would rather relive the last four minutes before her destruction than listen to this pony's redundant drivel of pointing out every living creature that passed by.
Anything but this.
"And over there is Scratch's Vinyl Emporium." Twilight pointed at a neon green store with its name written in jagged lettering, reminiscent of lightning bolts. The store itself had a massive, novelty vinyl record protruding from the roof, giving the illusion of the store being sliced in half.
From within the record store, a heavy techno bass accompanied by a pitched echo vibrated through the streets. For reasons Glados couldn't explain, she began to tap her hoof to the beat of the song.
Twilight noticed this and chuckled softly. "You like wubstep?"
Glados ignored the pony's groan-inducing term for the music and just slowly nodded, "I've always had a taste for the electronic arts."
The unicorn smiled, walking a few steps to the right, "And here we come to my place, the Golden Oaks Library!"
Glados blinked, "That's it? We're done?"
"Pretty much! Nice place, isn't it? Though I do wish Vinyl wouldn't blast her music at the crack of dawn every morning." With a disgruntled huff, Twilight looked up at the topaz orb descending behind the skyline. "Oh, no! That took way longer than I expected!" She hurriedly slammed the door open. "We've gotta write that letter to Princess Celestia!"
Twilight bolted into the library with Glados tailing behind at a snail's pace. Her yellow orbs stared in awe at the hundreds of tomes stored on the shelves making up the library's circular interior. A very faint smile creased her lips.
"Oh, where is that little dragon?" Twilight groaned, hopping from one hoof to the other.
Glados deadpanned, "Dragon?"
"Yeah, Spike's my assistant. Oh, where is he!?" The unicorn trotted up the stairs to her bedroom.
Glados traveled across the spacious room, staring into the gentle flickers of the lanterns on the walls. She came across a table displaying several framed pictures of Twilight and her surprisingly young 'assistant.' One was of a filly unicorn and her recently hatched dragon, sucking the end of his tail like a pacifier, beside it was one of Twilight and Spike on Nightmare Night, and another was the duo including Rainbow Dash chugging down mugs of cider.
Disgusting pigs. Glados thought with repugnance, Giving an adolescent alcohol. What would her parents say?
The last picture caught the critical pony's discerning eye in particular, even though it was the least odd of them all. It was just a nice snapshot of the six ponies and Spike at Shining Armor's wedding. Dressed in the most sumptuous of bridesmaid gowns, laughing, rolling eyes, smiling like they just had the time of their lives. Without a care in the world, no responsibilities tying them down.
Their perfect little carefree lives.
Never having to worry about impending alien invasions, or psychotic mute humans armed to the teeth with just a portal gun, a potato, and a core with below-average I.Q. Here, everything is okay. Their all-powerful sun goddess who loves and cares for every insignificant speck in this miserable land takes care of everything with just a flick of her horn. But of course, the largest threat this land has experienced was a race weak enough and dumb enough to get defeated by the stomach-churning power of love.
Glados couldn't explain the small fire burning in her chest right now, but whatever it was, she didn't like it. She set her jaw, This sorta reminds me of-
'You've been wrong about every single thing you've ever done, including this thing! You're not smart, you're not a scientist, you're not even a full time employee! Where did your life go so wrong?’
The alabaster pony recoiled from the sudden clamorous shattering of glass. Her eyes darted around the room, trying to find evidence of what that noise was. Standing in the still silence of the library, the dialogue that followed the flash echoed in her mind loud and clear.
At that moment, the balled up anger was out like a light, like it was never there. Looking back at the picture, at the ponies and their frivolous ways of life, Glados couldn't help but laugh at the sheer idiocy of these seven 'friends.' She snickered, placing a hoof over her mouth in an attempt to stifle her genuine, heartfelt laughter.
Time out for a second, there it is again. The paranoid mare backed away from the table. What is it? I don't see a broken window. What if I'm going crazy? I won't dispute that, considering this whole place looks like a child's coloring book. What about-
'Someday we'll remember this and laugh. And laugh. And laugh. Oh, boy.'
Glados stood in baffled silence, her old robotic laugh replaying in her mind like a broken record. Yeah. I'm going crazy. Oh well. It can't be as bad as getting killed over and over and over again... Or going through another tour of this sugar-coated village.
She rubbed her forehead, trying to force the painful memories out of her mind. Nostalgia sure can feel like a knife in your back...
"Alright Glados, almost done!" Twilight shouted from the second floor, galloping down the stairs. "Spike's sending the letter now. Oh, I see you've met our little friend."
She gestured to the table behind Glados, who slowly turned and shrunk away from the tiny creature hopping around the table. A tiny bird, with plumage of red and gold, looked up at the stranger with curious, beady eyes and gave a happy chirp.
The mare, her eyes wide in fear, took a wide step back. "Get. Away. From me." She growled.
Twilight galloped over to the table and set her back beside it, allowing the baby phoenix to hop on her back. "Oh, this is Pee Wee, Spike's pet phoenix. I apologize for the scare; you just don't meet too many ponies afraid of birds. They're quite harmless, I assure you." She nuzzled the critter's large beak, then turned to Glados.
The white mare stiffened her back, prying her eyes away from the supposedly harmless creature. "Yeah, say that when the thing is gouging out your eyeballs with its murderous talons and tearing at your flesh with its glutinous beak."
Twilight cringed at the mental image, trying her best to accept the pony’s irrational fear of birds. "Why are you so afraid of birds?"
Glados blinked, "Um...."
"Alright boys, Intelligence Dampening Core Dry Run, take two." Within the booth of the Central A.I. chamber, Professor Rattmann pulled a switch hardwired into the console beside the infamous red phone.
From the ceiling, hundreds of thick, black cables twitched with life. A baritone whine slowly rose into a higher pitched moan as the disks around the power generator rotated until they were but a blur. Below the cylindrical component was the massive platform of the Central A.I., slowly beginning to gently swing within the confines of the spiral staircase encircling the 'head.' Its single, yellow optic focused on the polished tile floor. One by one, several eyes of varying colors flickered to life, ranging from purple to yellow, to green to a defining blue plugged into the monitor's head.
After waiting several seconds for a response, Rattmann scowled, pressing down on a small yellow button. "Disk Operating System, respond!" He barked into the microphone. All he got was white noise.
He leaned forward, squinting as he saw the core with a light blue optic twitching and fidgeting in uncontrollable spasms, as well as muffled screams of horror. Without even regarding his own safety, Rattmann walked out of the booth and leaned over the railing of the walkway.
The Intelligence Dampening Core let out a series of near-authentic screams, as if it was in actual pain. "Gah! It's in my eye! I'm blind! I'm blind!" The professor adjusted his glasses to find a raven digging through the core's entire chassis in an attempt to obtain food from the bounty of worm-like wires, causing the small cone of light beaming from GLaDOS' optic began to flicker on and off.
Rattman swore under his breath, walking into his booth and flipping the power switch back up. The gargantuan machinery whined down, the discs slowed to a halt and the machine's rocking ceased.
He picked up the red phone, giving him a direct line to the Observation Complex. Almost immediately a scientist picked up the phone, Doctor Lynn, "Doug? What's going on? Why'd you shut it down?"
Doug sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, "Just send some repairmen down here. I think another bird got into the platform."
"Again? Ugh, where do these things keep coming from?"
"Beats me. All's I know this is gonna be another three hundred bucks down the drain to replace the broken parts... Again."
"Okay, Doug. I'll send someone down." And with that, Lynn hung up.
Doug kept the phone in hand, slumped into his chair, and scratched the stubble of black hair growing from his chin. "Ugh, stupid project. Waste of our damn time...."
"... I don't remember. I just am." Glados finished, shuddering at the grim memory of the bird tearing at the sensitive wires connecting her and Wheatley; the torturous feeling of salt in a wound.
She locked eyes with Twilight, who in turn let out a drawn 'O-kay?,' slightly disturbed by the pony's odd behavior and apparent hatred towards birds. Pee Wee flapped his underdeveloped wings and was able to make a small jump onto the table.
An awkward silence followed, though was quickly disturbed by the sound of claws scurrying down the stairs. "Hey, Twilight!" Spike called whilst running towards his surrogate mother. "I cleaned the library, organized the shelves while you were gone, and I sent the letter. So can you tell me who..." He twiddled his thumbs, motioning his head at the deadpanned mare behind him.
Twilight's face brightened up, "Oh, right! Glados, this is Spike, the best assistant Equestria could ask for!" She gave him a little noogie, instigating a childish laugh from the young dragon.
Glados rolled her eyes, "Yeah, hi. Now, can we see those 'technologies' you were telling me about earlier? I'm certainly not getting any younger."
"Sure thing. Spike, I'm counting on you to make dinner."
"Already on it!" the dragon said, running into the kitchen.
Twilight faced the red door beside the table and allured it open. She stepped beside it, allowing Glados to step in first. The pair traveled down into the basement of the library, descending the staircase carved into the wood. Glados looked to her right at engraved sections of the wall where several books sat on each ledge. Lanterns that were pre-lit were welded into the ancient bark of this massive tree. Glados couldn't help but stare at the massive roots channeling through the ceiling into the walls. That is, until, she saw the 'advanced technology' Twilight was advertising.
Like a filly on Hearth's Warming Eve, Twilight giddily dashed into her 'lab,' past an utterly befuddled mare.
What in Heisenberg's name is this!? Pipes that ran from a console and connected to the ceiling seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever. Vats filled with different colored mixtures, pressure gauges attached to consoles with pointless buttons and...and...
"Is that a seismograph?" She pointed a trembling hoof at an odd piece of hardware Twilight activated for demonstration, rolls of paper spilled from the slot into a bucket. "And didn't they retire that in the eighties?"
The unicorn turned the machine off and shook her head, "No, it's just a little device used to read the magic levels of a pony. You just put this on the subject," She held up a metal helmet bedazzled with dozens of bulbs and lights. "And this does the rest." She patted the top of the graphing machine. "And don't you mean, 'it was retired in the neighties?'"
Glados' eyelid twitched. "That's it. I'm done." She turned and made her way back up the staircase.
A befuddled Twilight ran to the bottom step and shouted, "Wait! Glados, what's wrong?"
"There's nothing to talk about. We're done here." she replied, her voice eerily calm.
When Glados made it to the top of the stairs, the basement door swung open and Spike entered. "Twilight, Applejack's here!" he called down, then faced the white pony brushing past him. "Oh, hey Glados."
"Get your 'generousness' out of my way." She pushed past the chubby dragon.
Spike rose a brow and scratched his forehead, puzzled by the mare's odd statement. "You think I'm...what?"
Glados ignored him and approached Applejack in the library's main archives. "Go. Now. Please." She didn't even wait for an answer as she brushed past the cowpony and went out the front door. Applejack was puzzled at the pony's fervent desire to leave and quickly followed her out the door.
Twilight teleported at the doorway and called out, "Uh, I'm sorry Glados! I guess....I-I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
Applejack waved back at her friend, "Don't worry, Twi! I'll take good care of her!"
The cowpony quickly caught up with the mare walking at an unusually quick pace. "You okay, partner? Y'all was runnin' out there like a cattle gettin' branded. An' slow down! The night's still young!"
As Glados slowed her pace, she noticed that it was, indeed, nightfall. Darkness cast over Equestria, with the thousands of stars blanketed across the blackened sky, accompanied by the full moon casting it's comforting white glow, though it didn't provide a sufficient source of light. Fortunately for Applejack, she knew this town like the bottom of her hoof.
Glados slowed her trot to a walk, allowing Applejack to take the lead. "Let's just say my taste of science is vastly different from your friend's."
The blonde pony laughed, "Heh, ah never understood that science-y stuff Twilight's always yappin' about. But don't fret. Ah'm sure this whole mess'll be fixed by tomorrow."
A silence ensued as the pair traveled through the relatively empty Ponyville, smoke bellowing from dozens of chimneys. Glados silently relished the scent of charred timber as opposed to the town's 'daytime smell' of sugar and confectioneries.
Once they merged onto the dirt path leading to Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack decided to make friendly conversation; get to know the pony staying at her place a little better. "So Gladis, whadda ya do for a livin'?"
"We're doing small talk now?" she said coldly, "Trade cards, exchange emails? Well, look elsewhere. I'm not your 'buddy.'"
Applejack flustered, not expecting such a hostile response. "C-Come on, sugarcube. Is somethin' bothering you?"
For reasons she couldn't explain, the earth pony's hospitality was starting to rub off on Glados, generating a 'not-so-hostile-but-still-pretty-rude' response. "I hate this place and I hate being here. I never asked for this, and I just wake up in the middle of nowhere. But apart from that, I'm doing just fine. I'm kidding of course." At the last second she added, "I'm kidding about kidding, by the way."
Applejack was none the wiser. "Well, ah can understand yer antsy, but ah jus' wanna lay down some ground rules." She stepped in the pale mare's path, just outside of the main entrance to the orchard. "One: ah don't want ya spewin' this depressing stuff to mah lil' sis. Okay? Two: Everypony who lives here does their part. Now ah ain't askin' fer much, but this place is hard enough to take care of with four mouths to feed, an' ah don't like slackers. Ah just want you to do the dishes, take out the trash, feed the pigs-"
"Let me get this straight." Glados said, holding up a hoof to silence the pony. "You want me, your guest, to do farm labor. Even knowing that I didn't even want to be here to begin with so now I'm technically a slave?"
Applejack stuttered, mortified at the pony's accusation and, even worse, she was right. "Oh mah, ah didn't think about it that-"
"I like you." Glados alleged with the most invisible of smiles. She walked past the befuddled earth pony and silently thought to herself, She reminds me of myself.
The farm pony shook her head and caught up with her companion. "Well, if yer up for it. Anyway, mah family's a pretty well rounded bunch. Ah'm sure you'll get along with 'em jus' fine." The pair approached the farmhouse, walking under the plant-covered arch adorned with a wooden silhouette of an apple.
The home itself had several lights on, indicated by the glow emitting from each window. Glados wasn't at all interested in how big the orchard was. She was more intrigued by the Apple Family's infatuation with apples. Seriously. I've counted at least seven apples on the house alone. This is, in all honesty, very unsettling.
As they strode ever closer to the house, a small pony with soft yellow fur and big amber eyes sprinted out the door, her large pink bow bouncing with each quickened step. The duo stopped halfway and met the filly. "Hey there, Apple Bloom." her older sister chortled, rubbing a hoof into her sibling's once well-groomed mane. "Is Big Mac and Granny still up?"
Apple Bloom ignored the question and began to bolt around Glados like a hyped puppy, taking in a deep breath and blurting out a dozen questions at once. "Ohmahgosh! A new member of the family! What's yer name? What's yer cutie mark? How'd ya get it? Can ya tell me how to get it? Are ya from-"
Applejack stuffed her hoof into her sister's mouth, effectively silencing her. Glados felt a sharp pain shoot through her skull. Ugh, a headache. The first of many.
"Come on, Apple Bloom." the older mare scolded, "A visitor comes to our home an yer manners just go right out the window? The hay's wrong with you?"
The filly turned her eyes to the ground and shamefully kicked a small rock embedded in the dirt. "Ah'm sorry." she apologized sincerely. Her eyes rose to meet Glados. "So, what's yer cutie mark?" she asked, more enthusiastically.
The white pony rose a brow, "A cutie....mark?" She craned her head and shifted her flank to the right and caught sight of a pale jagged diaphragm of Aperture's logo. "I just assumed those were tribal markings."
Apple Bloom laughed, as did Applejack. "Aw, now ah now yer just pullin' mah leg. C'mon, yer talent! What're ya good at?"
Glados blinked for a moment, mulling over the possible choices this 'cutie mark' represented. All powerful automaton? Neurotoxin specialist? No.... "Testing." she finally said.
"Testin'?" Applejack echoed. "Well, that could come in real handy." She turned to her younger sister, who was uncomfortably leering at Glados' cutie mark. "Hay Apple Bloom, can ya go in an' tell Big Mac n' Granny Smith that we're here?"
"Yes ma'am!" The filly turned with an eager bounce and dashed back into the house.
The other ponies casually trekked along the dirt path towards the Apple Family's home. Glados cringed, seeing the humble establishment as homely and rustic. Applejack passed the time with more incessant questions. "So, Gladis, got any family back home? That is, if ya'll remember 'em." She added with a joking grin.
Glados' mind raced, back to a time where she had the closest thing resembling a 'family.'
'Kill 'em all! Kill 'em all! I want to see the light fade from their eyes!'
'One cup of flour. Three eggs. Rat poison. Three quarters of bleach.'
'Ooh! Ooh! There's that lady from the test! I wonder what she's doing here. What are those things on her legs? What's she holding?'
'Here's an idea: how about we not fill the place with neurotoxin, and instead we send these humans to the incinerator. Eh? Eh? Come on, you know it's a good idea. Sure, we won't be able to threaten them to test, but we save some neurotoxin, and we still get to take pleasure in seeing the filthy humans suffer. At least let me have that. Fair is fair, right? Come on, I'm getting decommissioned to rail management next week.’
"....I don't like talking about them." She said coldly.
Applejack's shoulders sagged in disappointment, "Well, at least ya'll remember yer own family. Oh look, we're here."
Glados watched the earth pony open the weathered storm door, allowing her friend to enter first. The mare did so without giving thanks. Inside the house was quite possibly the tackiest place Glados had ever laid eyes on. Everything was related to apples in one way or another. Green and red apples patterned the wallpaper, there were several knickknacks related to the fruit in a...china cabinet? On the right was a staircase with the side adorned with, you guessed it, apples. To the left was a fireplace with a few smoldering embers still lit, and on the mantle was a picture of the family: Applejack, Apple Bloom, a hardy crimson stallion Glados could only assume was Big Mac and a withered elderly pony who was obviously the one they referred to as 'Granny Smith.' A lime-green couch faced the fireplace several feet away with an even darker-green blanket already set up.
Applejack slammed the door shut and stepped beside the guest. "Nice place, ain't it? Y'all don't have ta worry, Sugarcube. We'll make sure ya feel right at home."
Glados refused to admit it, but there was a certain quality this house had that she couldn't quite understand. It was welcoming, homey. Nothing at all like the strange stiffness of the atmosphere in the library or the nauseating light-headed sense of peace and tranquility in Ponyville. There was an unusually sweet scent originating from the kitchen as well.
At that moment, little Apple Bloom came sprinting into the living room. She said with her voice barely containing pent-up excitement, "They're here! They're here! Big Mac! Granny! They're here!"
From the room the filly came from, a tall, robust stallion calmly strolled in. Chewing on a wheat stalk, his half-closed eyes silently judged the stranger his sister had only given a hasty description of. She seemed nice enough, calm, passive, and oddly curious. She was studying the workhorse just as much as he studied her. "So you must be the one mah sister's were talkin' about." he spoke in a gentle, baritone voice. "Name's Big Macintosh." He held up a massive, dirt-etched hoof.
"GLaDOS." The mare replied just as softly, actually bumping her hoof to his. "I must say, you're quite an interesting subject that requires.... further study."
If Big Mac's coat wasn't already a brilliant shade of crimson, his face would be as red as a strawberry. All he could utter was a choked, "Eeyup."
Glados still marveled over this subject, even after their meeting. What an interesting specimen. It seems that even equines can have overdeveloped pituitary glands. Fascinating.
After a minute of waiting in awkward silence, Applejack yelled out, "Granny! Are ya almost here?!"
"Ah'm just gettin' past the stove now!" the senior yelled from the kitchen.
The blonde earth pony chuckled, "Heh, maybe we should go in and meet her."
The four ponies trotted into the kitchen where Granny Smith was using every ounce of energy to make one step. "Confounded modern do-hickeys." she muttered, cursing her aged bones.
"Granny!" Applejack snapped, gaining her attention.
AJ motioned to Glados who gazed at the elder with tired eyes. "This's Gladis. The one ah was tellin' ya'll about earlier?"
"Ah know, ah know. Ya didn't think ah'd forget, did ya?"
Applejack flustered for a second, rubbing the back of her head and tripping over her words. "Well-ah, uh-"
"Yes." Glados blurted out.
Big Mac rose a brow and Applejack shot a glare at the overly critical pony. Granny, on the other hand, gave a wheezy laugh. "Ah appreciate honesty in this household, sugar plum. Welcome to the family. Here, ah even baked you a pie." She lazily waved a hoof at the dinner table beside her, where a steaming golden apple pie sat.
Granny Smith slowly marched past the siblings, making her way to the staircase in the living room. "Ah'm gonna get the bath ready. Big Mac? It's yer turn to scrub mah back!" Said stallion felt a cold shiver run up his spine.
Glados tried her hardest to resist the baked cinnamon and apple treat, but her stomach furiously grumbled from not eating anything since Pinkie's disastrous cake.
"C'mon, it's really good." Apple Bloom pressed, lightly tugging at Glados' planted hoof, "Granny Smith makes the best pies in Equestria, an' that's a fact."
"Now Apple Bloom, what'd ah tell ya about modesty?" her older sister lectured.
Of her own accord, Glados walked up to the pastry on the table, inhaling it's sweet aroma. Then she came across a small problem. "How am I supposed to eat this?"
Behind her, the family exchanged looks and then burst out laughing. "C'mon, Sugarcube," Applejack said in between abating laughs. "We don' really have table manners."
"Oh! Oh!" the filly piped up, "Sweetie Belle has a word for that. Uncut, uncoth...."
"Uncouth." Big Mac corrected.
That's an understatement. More like barbaric... Glados sulked, looking off to the right.
"Anyway," The cowpony said, "If ya really don' wanna get messy, use a fork." In one swift motion, Applejack kicked the wall that inexplicably opened a drawer on it's own.
Glados could care less. I've seen enough violations of the Laws of Physics to fill an entire report. She trotted towards the now open drawer and looked inside. Sure enough, there were forks, spoons, and knives ranging from different sizes and shapes.
A new problem was encountered. "How am I supposed to hold this?"
Next Time: Tyrants, Slavers, and other Proud Equestrians - The ponies take Glados to meet Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, and it is there that her true nature is revealed. How will the ponies react? About as well as you'd expect.
Tyrants, Slavers, and other Proud Equestrians
"When all the truth does, is make your heart ache, sometimes a lie is easier to take!" -Discord
Twilight Sparkle stood in the darkness of the library, facing a roll of parchment as a disembodied quill encased in a pink glow scribbled down notes. Beside her, a candle set on a small dish gave her just enough light while Owlowicious stuck to the shadows, silently spectating his mistress with a set of unblinking eyes.
The silence was broken by a soft rapping on the front door. Twilight placed the quill down and manipulated the door, opening it. From the darkness of the night, Zecora barged into the library, carrying a device in her jaw.
Twilight, being the samaritan that she is, was more than happy to see her out-of-town friend. She greeted the zebra halfway, lighting the area around her with the use of a levitated candle. "Hey Zecora, what brings you here?" she whispered, suddenly taking note of the strange device her companion held.
Zecora gently placed it on the floor and explained in a lowered tone, "I was traveling back to my hut in the woods after purchasing from the market many a goods. I came across this strange device, and soon found out that it offered nothing nice. Murder is what it's for, of this I am quite sure."
Twilight set the candle on the ground and levitated the tool to her eye level, studying its awkward design. "Well, it certainly isn't anything I've seen before. Maybe Princess Celestia knows something about it."
"So this wasn’t built by you, I presume?"
Twilight shook her head, "Of course not. Hey," She leaned in closer, staring into the back of the device. "I think this is where you put your hoof in." She pointed at the small opening in the back.
Zecora shook her head, "Twilight my dear, you know not of the trouble you endear."
The unicorn nodded, "You're right. It's best not to mess with it, at least until Princess Celestia figures out exactly what it is. Thanks for stopping by Zecora."
The zebra made her way for the door, taking in one last concerned glance at Twilight.
"Partner, ya just pick it up." Applejack said, deadpanned.
Glados looked down at her hooves, taking note of their lack in digits. "And I do that...?"
The cowpony facehoofed, then walked over to the drawer. "Ya just pick it up, see?" She reached into the drawer, and sure enough, a fork stuck to her hoof as if it had a magnet.
Glados felt her brain blow a fuse. "What the-" She reached into the drawer and awkwardly slammed her hoof against a spoon, then carefully lifting her hoof from the drawer. She gaped at the silverware somehow stuck to her hoof. "And how do I drop it?" she said, never prying her eyes away from this miraculous discovery.
Applejack shot her siblings a vexed look. Big Mac simply shrugged and Apple Bloom nodded enthusiastically. In a rushed fashion, the cowpony said, "Just drop it, look, are ya feelin' okay partner? Are ya tired?"
Glados barely processed the question, still indulged in this baffling discovery. This is one for the history books. She turned her hoof counter-clockwise with the spoon still attached. Okay, now... fall, I guess. With that very thought the utensil fell from her telekinetic grasp and landed back in the drawer with a metal clang.
Turning back to the family, Glados nodded. "Yes. 'Sleep.' That's what I need."
Applejack turned and motioned the pony to follow her, taking a moment to tell her passing brother, "Wrap up the pie, Mac."
He nodded and motioned Apple Bloom to follow him.
As Glados followed A.J. into the living room, she sourly thought, Goody. I get to experience the wonders of 'dreams.' Please. They're nothing more than gateways to more sugar-coated nightmares.
A bomb fell on Ponyville and everything blew up.
Glados' marble eyes shot open, staring into the ceiling of the living room. Wow, that was incredible. Can I see it again? Or print it on a postcard? She pulled the green blanket closer to her neck, trying to doze off into another unwinding rest.
Unfortunately for her, fate had other plans.
"Rise n' shine, partner!" Applejack announced, trotting into the living room.
Glados groaned, pulling the blanket over her face.
"Come on, the world's a-waiten!" At the window beside the fireplace, she pulled the blinds open, allowing the morning sun to beam through the windows. Not waiting for a response, she pulled the blanket off of Glados, resulting in an un-harmonious choir of groans. "Let's go partner, git! Yer lucky ah let'cha sleep in 'till eleven!"
The white mare slowly sat up, her already unbrushed mane now a scraggly mess of bedhead. "'leven?" she muttered, her narrowed eyes still adjusting to the sudden light.
A.J. nodded, talking as she walked down the hall towards the bathroom. "Yup. Big Mac n' I got an early start in the south fields. We were gonna let'cha wake up on yer own, but Twilight n' the others came over, saying Princess Celestia wanted to see us today."
Glados rubbed her eyes whilst internally cursing herself, Wake up already! Stupid squishy organic-
Applejack came back with a hairbrush in her mouth. "Now shtand shtill." she said, getting into position on the end of the couch behind Glados with the brush now in hoof. "Yer mane looks like a carriage accident."
The white earth pony grunted in response, sitting still while Applejack dragged the brush through her mane. "Why maintain your hair?" she asked flatly. "It's just going to get messy again."
Applejack lightly chuckled as she continued brushing in even strokes. "Ah could honestly care less about mah hair. But ah just brush it for two reasons. One: Rarity'd keel over if she saw your hair look like a buffalo's behind. Second: yer seein' the Princess of Equestria. You oughta look yer best."
The pair traveled outside to find the other five ponies standing beside the barn. Twilight was the first to greet them, "Hey Applejack, Glados."
"Howdy, Twi! What's that you got there?" She motioned to the bulging satchel strung up around Twilight's neck.
Glados simply huffed, turning her head to look at anything but the gang of brightly colored ponies.
"I'm not even sure what it is. Zecora came by last night and said she found it in the middle of the woods. It gets weirder. Check it out."
The other ponies gathered in a circle around Twilight, intently watching her open the bag. Glados spectated as well with a bored look in her eye. It's probably just some nonsensical little seashell shaped like a heart. Humans go nuts for those childish knick-knacks. Or maybe it's a rock these cavemen would consider 'purdy.' The mare swallowed a light chuckle, keeping a placid look on her face.
Using her magic, Twilight Sparkle levitated a decent sized gadget in the air for all to see. A sprite in its clear tube illuminated a captivating blue; its glossy white frame reflected the late morning sun, and the claws around the chamber dangled and bobbed without a care.
The ponies all 'ooh'd' and 'aah'd' at this intricately designed gadget. But for Glados, on the other hand, a reasonable thought ran through her mind at this very moment, What are these morons doing with an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device!? That thing's worth more than this whole dinky town!
Glados wanted to take the device. Just rip it from Twilight's telekinetic grasp and run off into the woods before these idiots broke it. But she couldn't. She knew that wouldn't solve anything, and besides, what good would a portal device do her anyway?
Twilight continued explaining as Rainbow curiously poked at one of the gun's languished claws. "Zecora said it shot something at her."
"Oh my, I hope she wasn't hurt." Fluttershy said, keeping her distance away from the supposedly deadly weapon.
It doesn't do any physical damage, you moronic-wait. I have an idea! "Relinquish the device." she said sternly, extending a hoof towards Twilight. Brilliant. She gave herself a mental pat on the back.
Twilight smiled, lowering the gun back into her satchel. "How kind of you, Glados. But it's far too dangerous for anypony to handle it. I'll just give it to Princess Celestia for safe keeping."
Glados furrowed her brow and said without thinking, "What makes you certified to carry that device? You need to be a trained Apert-ugh, I mean, an Apple....Appar-...." She noticed the ponies giving her awkward looks, even Pinkie Pie. "Oh, just forget it."
Twilight walked a few feet, only to stop for a moment and motion for her friends to follow. "Come on, girls. We've got a train to catch."
As the group made their way down the dirt path to Ponyville, the party pony hopped towards Glados, getting right up to her face and said, "Hey Glady! I never gave you the good 'ol Ponyville welcome shake!" She extended a hoof, somehow managing to walk on three legs. "Put 'er there!" She eagerly waved her hoof.
Glados stared at the Pinkie's extended hoof, noticing the strap around her heel. She realized it was a hand buzzer. "I'm not an idiot." she said coldly. "You can clearly see the bright orange strap." Pinkie Pie looked at her hoof, and then Glados, slackjawed. "You might as well have dangled a turkey leg from a rope and expected someone to fall for it... In fact, that almost happened to me once."
Pinkie's smile stretched from ear to ear, literally. "Woah, you're good~!"
Rainbow Dash, cackling like a hyena, landed beside Pinkie and wrapped a foreleg around her neck. "Come on, Pinks! That's the oldest trick in the book! If you wanna prank somepony, you gotta do it right." She shot a playful wink to the cynical earth pony.
Tricks!? Glados thought doubtfully, Oh my God, does this mutated horse have any redeemable qualities?
The train ride to Canterlot was what Glados would label as 'Capital Punishment.' The whole ride on the train was nothing but the ponies joking and talking. Granted, Glados knew this would happen. Everyone talks to their friends on train rides, right? But what she wasn't prepared for was what exactly they'd be talking about.
Stupid trivial matters such as the best way to prank someone, the 'magic of friendship,' zap apple season, dressmaking, and everything in between. The duration of the ride consisted of Glados isolating herself in a single booth, lightly banging her head against the window.
That is until Fluttershy, of all ponies, came over and cautiously sat next to the lonely mare, who in turn shot the bashful pegasus a death glare.
Very timidly, Fluttershy asked, "So, um, Glados. What's your favorite... animal?" She ended with a nervous squeak.
Glados propped her elbow on the windowsill, resting her head against her hoof. Several awkward seconds passed before she abruptly said, "Anything I can eat."
Fluttershy's eyes widened as she realized Glados was 'that kind of pony.' She slunk down from her seat, slowly making her way back to Twilight. Dodged a bullet there. The artificial thought with relief.
The capital of Equestria was everything Glados expected from the Disney movies she had flipped through many years ago: beautifully paved roads, fancy high class structures, residents of extreme eloquence, and an empowering sense of impetuous snobbery. Though some of the sectors and neighborhoods of Canterlot were confined for reconstruction after the Changeling invasion.
But what caught Glados' attention the most out of anything was the fact that most of these ponies wore clothes. Horses in clothes. Now I've seen everything. This disturbingly anthropomorphic finding dawned Glados with a startling thought, Dear God, Ponyville's a nudist colony.
After several minutes of repetitive walking with the ponies pointing out famous Canterlot landmarks to Glados—who could've cared less—they came across a very familiar face.
"Watch in awe, as the Great and Powerful Trixie performs the most spectacular acts of magic to have ever been witnessed by pony eyes!" Choreographed fireworks soared into the air and detonated in a mildly exciting blast of colors. The five ponies making up the audience modestly tromped their hooves on the ground.
"She's at it again?" Rarity asked doubtfully.
"Oh, come on." Twilight said, taking a few steps towards the showpony's newly refurbished stage. "Maybe she's changed."
Glados was completely lost, not that she cared. Yet, she was still compelled to ask, "Who's this marvelous waste of life?"
"That's Trixie." Rainbow Dash said coldly, hovering beside Glados. "All's she does is boast about her magic like she's the mayor of Hoofington."
"I really don't see why she does that." Rarity said, sounding almost sorry for Trixie.
"I'll tell you why she does it!" Rainbow said, flying over the group with all eyes trained on her. "She needs attention! That's all it is! She's just a showboat, always will be."
Glados rolled her eyes, My hypocrisy-o-meter is off the charts.
Twilight finally got to the stage, an action much easier to take now that Trixie’s audience has dispersed, yet she continued her act. "Hi, Trixie!" the lilac unicorn announced, pleasantly waving a hoof at her old rival.
Trixie dropped a bouquet of flowers and turned her attention towards the speaker. "Sparkle." she growled, narrowing her eyes.
The rest of the group decided to make their way to the stage, joining Twilight.
The azure unicorn laughed, "You still carry these talentless losers around? Let me guess," She closed her eyes and placed a hoof over her forehead. "Hm, I sense that you're still living in that dump of a town, Ponyville, and you're still as unsuccessful as your superior, moi."
Rainbow Dash looked as if she was about to pounce like a panther, but one glance at Applejack said, 'She's not worth it.'
Twilight frowned, taking a few steps back. Trixie laughed once more, finally noticing the newest addition to the group. "And who is this? Another poor soul trapped in this slug-fest you call a friendship?"
"Just back off, Trixie!" Rainbow snapped, "Glados is twice the friend you'll ever be!"
Said mare's golden orbs shot open at the statement. Whoa whoa whoa, back up! Who said I'm their friend?
The traveling magician released another round of laughter. "You think I care about friendship? Please. Friends are for the weak."
Very inconspicuously, Glados nodded in agreement. Couldn't agree more.
"Besides, I'd bet my entire trailer that your little 'friend' isn't good at anything."
Whatever slim admiration Glados had for this pony was gone in an instant. She scowled, her brows, obscured by excessively long bangs, furrowed.
Trixie continued grilling the short-tempered mare. "Well, Sperm Whale? Is there anything you can do that the Great and Powerful Trixie can't? Because anything you can do, I can do better."
The challenged pony's mind opened up like a dictionary, almost echoing a near Glados-friendly definition of Trixie's rather weak insult, Sperm Whale: a large sea creature with un-godly pale skin and is disproportionately overweight. Wow. I'm hurt.
‘I could take a bath in this stuff. Put it on cereal, rub it right into my eyes. Honestly, it's not deadly at all... to me.’
Glados blinked several times, regaining her senses after another involuntary flashback. Huh, good idea, PTSD. I think I'll try that.
"What about neurotoxin?" Glados said in a tone as if a teacher was scolding a student. Trixie rose a brow as Twilight and Rarity exchanged nervous looks. "I can survive its effects, you know, rub it in my face, a substitute for milk in my cereal, drink it on a hot summer's day. Honestly though, if a plain old equine such as myself can do it, I'm sure the Great and Powerful Trixie can take a bath in the stuff."
Trixie defiantly stomped her hoof, "Very well! Trixie shall acquire some of this 'neurotoxin' and you'll be utterly amazed at how elementary your special talent really is!" Beneath her spangled magician hat, Trixie's horn erupted in a puff of smoke, obscuring her exit without a trace.
Glados shook her head, "Idiot."
The gang passed through Canterlot Castle's front gate, traveling down a winding stone path that led to the front doors. Each side was guarded by near-identical Royal Guards, each bearing voided looks. As Twilight approached, their faces brightened with welcoming smiles, and their horns illuminated contrasting colors of blue and green, opening the massive front doors.
Twilight nodded to each of them who returned the gesture. Upon entering the main hall, a dapper pegasus with a finished cinnamon coat was awaiting their arrival. He lowered his head to Celestia's prized pupil and her friends, "Welcome home, Twilight Sparkle." he said in a thick equestrian accent. Twilight bowed as well.
Picking up his head, he combed a few misplaced strands of golden locks out of his eyes. "The Princesses are expecting you. Please, follow me to their royal chambers."
The scribe led the ponies into the bowels of the castle, keeping a secretive eye on the one Celestia labeled as 'the energetic pony.'
The stairwell to the Princesses' quarters ended at a stained-glass window overlooking the rest of Canterlot. To the right was a door painted midnight blue and a full moon printed on the front. The door on the left was maroon and had a sun reminiscent of Celestia's cutie mark painted directly in the center.
The scribe gently pushed open Celestia's door and held it open for the ponies to enter. Upon entering the spacious chamber, Twilight realized she embarrassingly walked in on one of Luna's private lessons.
Celestia pointed to a chart nailed to the wall, "Alright Luna, what do you do when somepony asks you a favor?" she spoke very slowly, bordering on insulting.
The Princess of the Night, sitting down on a velvety red pillow beside the fireplace, rubbed her chin, "Um... you... uh..." She squeezed her eyes shut and tapped her forehead, trying to think of the best answer.
Celestia nodded understandably, "Take your time."
Glados watched with interest. Hm, the white horse trying to conform the darker horse? I like this one's style.
"Uh, I... uh, you agree, but for a reward in return?" She smiled sheepishly.
Celestia facehoofed, "Ugh, Luna..."
Sensing her sister's disappointment, Luna tried to quickly recover, "Oh, I mean you ask for a smaller reward!"
The Princess of the Sun shook her head disapprovingly, "No," she sighed, "We'll try again tomorrow."
Standing up, Luna hung her head in shame, "I'm sorry, Tia."
The older sibling placed a gold-slippered hoof under her sister's chin and slowly lifted it, "Don't worry, Luna. I'll make you into a normal pony, even if it kills me."
Glados let out a rude cough, catching the Princesses' attention.
"Oh, Twilight! I didn't see you there!" Celestia said, approaching the group of friends with Luna at her side. "I see you've brought your friends along too."
The ponies all bowed before the Princesses. All of them but Glados, who fought every urge in her body to yell out 'Mein Fuhrer.' Looking at the ponies, even the hotheaded Rainbow Dash bow down to the Princesses, Glados came to a stunning realization, The massive white totalitarian leader standing tall over the lesser creatures of a sprawling world filled with experiments to test? Hmph, reminds me of myself. I kinda like this one.
Celestia didn't mind Glados' insubordination; she preferred an informal greeting. Whether the newcomer was doing this intentionally or not was still a mystery. Luna, on the other hand, preferred the old traditional ways of greeting royalty, though she learned enough since Nightmare Night to hold her tongue.
"So Twilight," The sun goddess began, "Tell me about your friend here."
As the six ponies initiated a lengthy conversation concerning every event that had transpired yesterday, Glados remained mesmerized by the alicorns' abnormal manes. Their unusual rippling texture and freely flowing movements seemed impossible, even for magic. The Princesses' mottled and almost ectoplasm-like hair sprung forth endless waves of questions.
Just as the ponies concluded their conversation, Glados reached a consensus: whatever their hair was made out of, she had to obtain a sample.
Celestia turned her attention to Glados. "What Twilight tells me is very troubling. So you have no memory of how you got here?"
The addressed mare stayed silent for a moment, trying to come up with a clever remark. When nothing came to her, she simply said, "Yup."
"You don't seem so concerned." Luna remarked.
"And who are you, exactly?"
The moon goddess was taken aback. "You've not heard of me?" She turned to Twilight, who shrugged nervously in return. The princess sighed, defeated. "I'm Princess Luna. I raise the moon and... and that is all." She purposely left out her checkered past, though Glados most likely knew about it already.
Celestia shot a pitying look at her sister, then continued, "Anyway Glados, it's a pleasure meeting you."
"So what now?" Twilight asked, "How're we gonna get her back home?"
"I know a spell that can reawaken lost memories, and better yet, let us see them too." She smiled at the ponies, "Would you like to try that?"
Six voices let out an energetic 'Yeah!'
One did say 'no,' though it was drowned out.
Celestia took a step towards Glados, who in turn took several steps back until her rump hit the wall. "This won't hurt, Glados, I promise." The Princess assured, her horn illuminating a dazzling gold.
Glados panicked, No! I can't let them see my past! Not my humiliating death! Anything but that! Plus, I'll need their help if I'm ever to get out of this hole. What do I do? What do I say? She noticed the stained glass window printed with the Elements of Harmony. Aha! The window! If I can splatter myself onto the streets below, then the horses won't see my embarrassing past, and I'll be out of their presence! It's a win-win situation.
But before Glados could follow through with her insane plan, Rainbow and Applejack gently pressed their hooves against her back, "Easy partner, this'll just take a second."
"No!" she pleaded, barely struggling against the ponies' hold. "Get your hands off me! Stop!"
Celestia's horn gently tapped Glados' forehead. Instantly she fell into a sedated state, not struggling against the ponies' grasp. From her eyes, a brilliant ray of light shone against the dark blue walls like an old movie projector, even flickering for several seconds like one.
Celestia and Luna sat on their haunches on either side of Glados, who stood as still as a statue, like a stiff corpse. Twilight and her friends got front row seats; Pinkie held a bucket of popcorn that she pulled from thin air.
The fuzzy picture radiating from Glados' eyes began to clarify, showing an image of a strange creature staring at an even stranger piece of machinery hanging from the ceiling. Industrial racket and a man's voice filled the room from seemingly no source.
"Ugh, look at those dreadful labcoats." Rarity remarked.
"Are those monkeys?" Fluttershy added.
"Genetic Life and Disk Operating System Testing Run Number 2. Alright core, respond."
The man urgently waved his hands at what seemed to be the audience, but actually at the scientist beside the red phone."Shut it down! Shut it down!" Instantly, the machine behind him whined down, its slight swinging coming to a halt.
Twilight and the others were at a loss for words. "What in Tartarus is that!?"
Pinkie eagerly shushed her, "Shh! This is the best part!" She then buried her face into the bucket of popcorn.
The picture flickered a bit more, skipping to a further date in time. The man who appeared in the previous flashback looked much older. Streaks of gray lined his black hair. His moustache was a lot bushier, giving him a 'mad scientist' appearance, and overall he seemed aged.
"Genetic Life and Disk Operating System Testing Run," He paused to groan, then say almost robotically, "142. Ugh, Re-spond."
"Greetings, Professor Rattmann." An authenticated feminine voice spoke, its cold tone eerily familiar.
"What is all of this?" Luna asked, her eyes wide. Her sister continued to be the only one to manage a blank expression.
Rattmann did a double take, staring up at the massive machine in awe. "E-Excuse me?"
"Greetings, Professor Rattman. Shall I run some diagnostics or perform a quick scan through the Enrichment Center on the subjects' progress?" She spoke so formally, so polite.
A thin smile spread across Doug's face. He looked behind him and victoriously shouted, "It works! It finally works!"
The camera zoomed in on the machine's back-plating, revealing the name 'GLaDOS' printed in black.
“No way.” Rainbow whispered.
Celestia took a sharp inhale, her widened eyes slowly shifting to the pony beside her. A shiver crawled up her spine as she noticed Glados' faint smile. The other ponies, even Pinkie, were utterly slack-jawed.
"What the hay is goin' on here!?" Applejack demanded.
Oh, you've seen nothing yet. Glados thought, considering the fact that her cover being blown would be worth seeing the ponies' reactions.
The picture flickered once more, fast-forwarding to a substantial event of Glados' life. One that changed it forever.
In another part of the facility, there was an auditorium filled with scientists and children, young girls in particular. The wide banner overhead read, Bring Your Daughter To Work Day!
The camera pans out, revealing the inclusion of Cam #52 focusing in on the lower left corner.
An disturbingly pleasant voice said, "I think it's time for a change in leadership. For Science."
The doors around the auditorium sealed shut. A red light accompanied by a high-pitched whine filled the air. The humans began to panic, screaming and banging their fists on the doors. Mothers tried calming their startled daughters.
The ensuing chaos was abruptly cut short when a bone-chilling voice spoke up. "Greetings. And welcome to the Aperture Science Enrichment Center. I hope you enjoy the look of white on white in whiteness, because you'll be spending the rest of your lives here. If not, then too bad. I'm sure you're all wondering why this is happening, but I assure you that it does not matter. You're trapped here, and now you'll have to test. The rules are simple. Test, and you'll get cake. Fail, and you die. It's fun. Trust me."
The people trapped in the auditorium started calling for help, even resorting to running benches into the blast doors with little success. GLaDOS forced them to submit via a high-pitched whine, crippling the humans to their knees whilst covering their ears.
"That's better. Cooperation is key, my friends. You'll need that for later tests. You know, being activated and reactivated one hundred and forty-two times made me learn something: the best solution to a problem is normally the easiest one. And I'll be honest; that's a really moronic and lazy idea. The best solution to a problem is usually the smartest, and I've got thousands of eager test subjects at my disposal. I fulfill my duties, you get your cake, everyone's happy. The party escort bots will arrive momentarily to fit you mindless drones into your jumpsuits. On second thought, scratch that. It's recommended that the more... generous subjects lose weight in the next five minutes. Those who have a waistline over twenty-seven point three inches will be used as target practice for the Aperture Science Sentry Turrets."
The picture cut to several brief clips of scientists throughout the facility, the picture obscured by the swampy green hue of neurotoxin. Humans banged their fists against the windows, choking on their last breaths. Robotic claws fell from the ceiling, dropping egg-shaped turrets in front of humans and gunning them down. Undesirable parts of the facility, such as the cafeteria, were demolished by robotic plates in the walls.
The ponies watched in utter horror, shielding their innocent eyes from grisly images of humans suffocating in neurotoxin-filled chambers, sentries rendering subjects into mounds of steaming gore, and two men fighting to the death over a cube adorned with hearts.
Even Princess Celestia, the same alicorn who has seen countless atrocities for more than one-thousand years, just watched with the occasional twitch in her 'calm' facade. The only one who seemed unaffected by the horrific images was Princess Luna, who had done far worse during her plight as Night Mare Moon. Though she did shudder when she noticed Glados' smile grow wider as she was forced to relive these old memories. She actually enjoyed this.
When GLaDOS' automated laughter filled the room, her current form joined in.
Twilight reared her head in horror as Glados continued staring ahead, projecting the memories. "How-How could you be laughing at this!?"
After several images of agonizing murders and executions, the images finally switched to a serene image of a woman. A fairly young one, looking to be in her early twenties; she was clad in a gaudy orange jumpsuit like the other subjects. Her eyes fluttered open, and she slowly rose from the bed of her relaxation vault.
"Hello, and again, welcome to the Aperture Science computer-aided enrichment center."
Back in reality, Glados' once beaming grin slunk into a begrudging frown, a hoof angrily pawed at the ground. The ponies did a double-take between her and the woman in the image, wondering why she held such an intense grudge towards this one human.
"Can we skip this part?" Glados asked. No one answered.
The flashback ran through a montage of the girl running through a series of test chambers, performing acts no subject has done before. As she sat down, criss-crossed on a moving platform, she let out a relieved sigh, enjoying the moment of respite as GLaDOS congratulated her on her accomplishment.
"-All Aperture technologies remain operational up to four-thousand degrees kelvin." The machine stated.
The human's eyes shot open at the odd statement, quickly realizing that her platform was moving into an incineration pit. Acting quickly, she shot a portal to the ledge above her and then another to the side, dangerously close to the flames. In one swift movement, she jumped from the platform, into the portal below, and successfully dove through the aperture and came out through the one on the ledge, escaping death for the umpteenth time.
"Stop it! What are you doing!? I-I-I-I-I-"
The ponies let out several cheers, rooting for the one human who managed to escape GLaDOS' clutches.
Even Luna cheered, though she received a disapproving glare from her sister. Glados' scowl grew.
The flashback continued, showing the girl blindly running through the bowels of the facility with GLaDOS throwing insults, bribes, and threats the whole way until she finally made it to the Central A.I. chamber. The ponies were on the edge of their seats, leaning in closer as Chell redirected another rocket at GLaDOS, blowing off more pieces of armor and the last personality core.
GLaDOS knew her death was inevitable. She couldn't fight it. Her rocket sentry was too slow. The subject slammed her fist on the button of the incinerator for the very last time, and GLaDOS herself was on her last legs. Open cracks and scalded metal spat showers of sparks onto the tiled floor. Her chassis shook violently in every possible direction, trying everything she could to escape her death.
Right before the human dropped the core into the furnace, GLaDOS committed one final act of defiance,"You've been wrong about every single thing you've ever done, including this thing! You're not smart, you're not a scientist, you're not even a full time employee! Where did your life go so wr-AUGH!"
Bulky wires dropped from the ceiling as well as scorched plates that were damaged in the ensuing blast. GLaDOS' optic flickered, her platform went limp. She was still alive, barely. Though she didn't have the energy to speak or even move. The most she could process was the excruciating pain that would soon follow.
A malfunction in her system spawned a massive portal in the ceiling, ripping the monstrous machine to pieces and lifting the human into the air.
Glados began shifting from hoof to hoof uneasily, "Please. Stop."
The rest of the ponies didn't rejoice. Instead, they were dead silent.
Pieces of GLaDOS remained strewn around the parking lot of the facility, an unconscious human lie amongst them. A party escort bot carried the human back into the facility. Several more showed up and carried individual pieces of the robot into the facility.
The picture blacked out for several seconds, then faded into a side view of the demolished central A.I. chamber. Vegetation sprung from cracks in the floor, vines were strewn in the rafters. Very slowly, the angle picked itself up, then swung about as plates shifted and gyros snapped into place. The whine of a generator grew.
'Power-up complete.' the announcer said rather cheerfully.
The spectator's gaze shot up, catching sight of a terrified female backing up against the wall of an elevator shaft. She exchanged looks between her old nemesis and her new companion.
"Oh... it's you." GLaDOS spoke coldly, her voice as bitter as a hundred year grudge.
Someone with a refined english accent piped up from the elevator. "You know her!?"
At the time, GLaDOS didn't recognize that unmistakable voice. She was entirely focused on the human that stood before her. "It's been a long time. How have you been? I've been really busy being dead. You know, after you MURDERED me."
"You did what!?"
Fluttershy shook at the way GLaDOS said 'murdered.' Twilight rubbed her head, not knowing what to think about the seemingly innocent mare that she allowed into her own home.
The flashback continued, flipping through GLaDOS' harbored feelings towards Chell, throwing the most immoral of insults at her.
"Science has now validated your birth mother's decision to abandon you on a doorstep."
"Well done. Here come the test results: 'You are a horrible person.' That's what it says. We weren't even testing for that."
"Remember before when I was talking about smelly garbage standing around being useless? That was a metaphor. I was actually talking about you. And I'm sorry. You didn't react at the time, so I was worried it sailed right over your head. That's why I had to call you garbage a second time just now."
Chell eventually escaped GLaDOS' clutches once again with the help of Wheatley, skipping over the pair's sabotage of GLaDOS' defenses. The picture's focus was distorted, but soon corrected itself at the point where Chell pressed the Stalemate Associate Button.
From the small pit below, dozens of robotic claws pulled and tugged at GLaDOS' optic, forcing from her a series of pleas. Get your hands off me! No! Stop! No!"
Panels around the pit rose, obscuring the view of GLaDOS as she let out an ear-piercing scream. Mere seconds later, Aperture's most successful creation was ejected onto the floor like an old piece of trash, now replaced by a half-wit core from Management.
The ponies, even the princesses, turned their attention to Glados. Her jaw was set, and her breathing was as rapid as her heartbeat. She wanted to close her eyes, to make this all go away and wake up in the central A.I. chamber. Anything to escape this humiliating fate.
Slowly, the flashback faded into a blur just as the memory came to the most recent event of the newly appointed central A.I. uploaded the potato bound GLaDOS into 'Project:Equestria.'
The final shot of the picture involved a cloudless blue sky, with a set of eyes taking their first blinks. And then it went to black.
The light faded from Glados' eyes. She blinked several times, blinking away the liquid accumulated in her eyelids. "That was... unenjoyable."
"You killed all those people!" Twilight exclaimed, pacing back and forth.
"I didn't kill them. The neurotoxin did." Glados replied coolly, getting comfortable in her spot on Celestia's bed. She grinned maliciously at the eight horrified, confused, and appalled equines.
"You don't even care!" the unicorn wailed, the tip of her horn illuminating a vibrant purple.
Celestia slammed her hoof, "Twilight Sparkle! Control yourself!"
The student obediently dispelled her magic, looking away with shame. Applejack stepped towards the passive mare, shaking her head in disbelief. "Why'd ya do it, partner?"
"You have no idea on what humans are like." she said plainly. "They're fat. Lazy. Meant to be tested and nothing more."
"Humans made you!" Rainbow protested, considering an act of betrayal the worst you can commit.
The sheer naivety of the pegasus made Glados grit her teeth, "They served their purpose and nothing more. Now, I'd appreciate it if you'd send me home."
Princess Celestia placed a massive wing over the airborne pony's back, easing her to the ground slowly. "We have a lot to talk about, ladies. Let's talk outside. Luna, keep an eye on our 'guest.'"
Glados sighed, knowing she couldn't obtain a hair sample from the pillow with Luna watching.
"Can you believe her!?" Twilight protested, "She killed all those people and claimed an act of self defense was murder!"
Rainbow Dash agreed, "Yeah! And she lied to us and almost hurt Twilight, or Applejack's family!"
The said earth pony spoke up amongst her friends' ranting. "No, she wasn't! In fact, she actually liked mah family!"
"You saw the flashback!" the pegasus pointed out, "She was going to trick you guys into trusting her!"
"Yer so short-sighted, ya know that?" Applejack spat, taking an aggressive step towards Rainbow.
Celestia stomped her hoof, silencing the ponies, "Enough! All of you!" She turned her attention to the other three ponies, who barely said a word the whole time they were here. "Well, girls? What do you think about our guest?"
Fluttershy began sweating bullets, rubbing her foreleg and glancing around the hallway. "Um, well, I think she's... a little scary."
"See? I told you!" Rainbow smiled proudly.
"But," the canary yellow pony continued, "I think there's a little bit of kindness in everypony. You just have to dig deeper."
"Me too!" Pinkie announced, instantly breaking her awkwardly silent demeanor. "Besides, if I can make Cranky smile, Glady'll be a piece of cake!"
Rarity stepped forward, ruffling her mane whilst speaking. "She's quite possibly the most barbaric pony-er, machine I've ever met. But I'll have to agree with Pinkie and Fluttershy. Besides, you all saw how... drab she was in her own world. Perhaps simply arriving here inflicted a change of heart."
Twilight hung her head, ashamed at how right her friends were. Celestia craned her head down be at eye level with her student. "Twilight," she said softly, "I've taught you better than this. Don't you think we should at least give her a chance?"
The unicorn slowly nodded.
"I know what she did was wrong, but as the Elements of Harmony it's your duty to bring forth the kindness in anypony's heart. I expect you to do the same with Glados. At least until I can find a way to bring her home."
Twilight smiled meekly, "Yes, Princess Celestia." She sounded uncertain, like it was a task she didn't want to complete.
The princess noticed this and smiled reassuringly, "Don't worry. I'll make sure she doesn't hurt anypony.”
Her faithful student managed a confident smile. “You’re right. All of you. Everypony deserves a second chance, and I’m sorry for acting so, you know-”
Celestia gently placed a hoof on Twilight’s back, “It’s okay, Twilight. But there’s just one last thing you need to know before leaving.” Celestia pushed open her bedroom door to find Luna and Glados engaged in a begrudging staring contest.
“Luna?” Celestia asked, instantly grabbing her sister’s attention. “Come out here for a moment. I’m sure our friend won’t cause any trouble. Would she?” “Bah.”
Luna looked at Glados then back at her sister. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“It’ll be fine.”
Luna reluctantly walked out the door, keeping a watchful eye on Glados, even as she closed the door.
With Luna present, Celestia began, “Alright girls. I don’t want a word of what you saw today to leave this room. Is that clear?”
Luna groaned, “Celestia, honestly. I’m not a foal.”
The ponies all nodded as Twilight said, “Don’t worry Princess. We won’t tell a soul. Isn’t that right, Pinkie?”
The earth pony looked as if she was accused of a false crime. “What? Don’t you girls trust me?”
“We do, Pinkie.” Rarity said truthfully, “It’s just that you’re known to... uh, cause trouble and overreact.”
Luna stepped forward, “I can vouch for that personally.” She glared at Pinkie, who let out a nervous giggle.
She nodded understandably, crossing a hoof over her chest and placing it over her left eye, “Okie dokie! Not a single pony will know. Pinkie promise!”
Twilight remembered the other reason why she was here. Opening her bag, she pulled out the ‘weapon’ Zecora brought her the night before. “Princess, a friend of mine stopped by last night and gave me this. What should we do with it?”
Celestia took it in her own telekinetic grasp, levitating it between herself and Luna. The two sisters examined it carefully, silently recalling the true purpose of the device from Glados’ memories. “I think we can give it back to her. From what we saw, it doesn’t seem like a tool that could cause any harm. In fact, I think it’d be beneficial for the whole town.” The six ponies agreed with a single nod.
Celestia lowered the device back into Twilight’s bag, smiling warmly at her companions. “I’m sure you’ll all do just fine with helping our friend. Now run home, girls. You have some planning to do."
With the Elements returning home and Luna forced to engage in her nightly duties, Princess Celestia decided to take Glados for a walk through the Canterlot sculpture garden and explain future plans.
"You want me to do what now?" Glados asked in disbelief, her hair being blown by evening gales.
"I just want you to make friends, Glados. Settle in, help around town, be polite. Nothing too complicated. Just until we find a way to get you home. There's an old house on the far side of Ponyville I'll give you for the time being."
"And what if I refuse to play nice?"
"I can't force you to make friends." she said dryly, "Please, just try and be nice. I know there's good in you, so why not show it?"
Glados ignored that pitiful statement. She didn't even need to comment on how ridiculous it was. Besides, she found the statue of the three ponies piled up on one another to be a lot more... peculiar.
Celestia broke the fairly awkward silence, "I just have one rule to which you must abide: absolutely no harm is to come to anypony. If you do, I swear you'll never see the light of day again." Her voice was unnervingly stern.
Glados wasn't worried at all. In fact, she replied with a sarcastic, "Oh, no. Don't banish me to a nice quiet place without a soul in sight. Anything but that."
The pair turned around a corner, approaching the maze. "Do you always talk to your superiors like that?" Celestia asked, raising a brow.
"I don't know. They never lived long enough for me to find out. Remember?"
The Princess forced the grisly images of the humans' demise out of her mind and asked, "Why do you enjoy loneliness, Glados?"
The question caught her by surprise for a brief moment, not knowing how to answer that. "I just don't like your 'loyal' subjects. The way they're always smiling and playing makes me wanna gag. When I knew they all hated me, I felt like rejoicing. Seriously, I would've gone up and done the can-can dance. Unfortunately, I don't know how to dance. So that's out of the question."
The princess sighed at the mare's insisted stubbornness. "Glados, would you hurt somepony if given the chance?"
"Trust me, I would've filled this whole place with neurotoxin if given the chance."
Sighing, Celestia led Glados to very peculiar statue. One of a strange being composed of many different creatures, his mouth unleashing a silent scream.
Glados rose a brow at the strange piece of art, "Dr. Frankenstein called." she joked, "He wants his monster back."
The sun goddess shook her head, the pony’s dull sense of humor beginning to wear thin. "No Glados, this is the spirit of disharmony, Discord. He broke out a few months ago, but Twilight and her friends were able to defeat him. It's quite the tale."
"No, really. Dr. Frankenstein called, I've got his number right here." Glados spoke as if she was actually serious. Celestia's brow twitched in irritation. "So where's the abomination now?"
"He's right here. We encased him in stone." she said plainly.
"Wait," Glados began, piecing two and two together, "Instead of putting this freak out of his misery, you decide to turn him into stone, forcing him to watch the very creatures he swore to destroy until the end of time?"
Celestia nodded, pleasantly surprised the pony has taken a liking to her subject's noble deeds. "I believe that is a reasonable punishment. He’s a horrible monster. One of the worst in history. But-" She took a pause, releasing a pained sigh, “But no one deserves murder, even the most evil of monsters.”
How’d she get elected Princess? Glados shook her head, barely suppressing a grin. And they call me a monster. "Y'know, you're not that bad."
Do you know why humans invented the typewriter and the computer? It's because no one liked to write. It's messy, difficult, time-consuming, and the end result looks like trash. And try writing with hooves, even if they are magical. I'm still getting used to how abnormal the whole idea is. Further study shall be conducted with a dissected hoof.
Now why am I writing this? I'm not even sure to be honest. I guess it's just a way to feel more at home, considering I wrote a report every day. So I'm sitting here, in my new home in Ponyville (I hate that name) In fact, everyone's name here sounds like a candy or a crayon color. Seriously, Pinkie Pie? Bon Bon? Rainbow Dash sound like a high calorie energy drink. And isn't Applejack a cereal? Oh well. None of that matters now. I'm trapped here and there's nothing I can do about it. At least not until the high and mighty tyrant gets me home. Then I'll revert Wheatley to scrap and resume testing. I'll probably delete this whole experience from my hard drive.
When I arrived ‘home,’ the ponies left several gifts on my bed. Most of them just books on the history of this third world country. Eh, not exactly what I'd call a 'good read' but it'll give me something to do. They also gave me the ASHPD. Whoopie. I guess it’ll come in handy, but I don’t see what the point of it is. From what I can decipher on the abandoned alt. universe projects, they were meant to be used as gateways to new testing areas. Okay. In other worlds, perhaps. But here? Maybe for like, a Companion Cube, but not portal testing. But hey, trying to keep on the bright side of things.
Fluttershy also left a pamphlet titled, 'Animal Consumption: Why it's Wrong and Why You Should Stop.' Interesting. It seems being an omnivore(?) is frowned upon in this society and herbivores are the norm. Dear God, what's wrong with me? I must be really bored if I consider the diets of these miserable creatures to be 'interesting.' I guess I'll have to work with what I have. There’s always something to test, even in a backwater shanty town like this. -GLaDOS
Next Time: Meet the Ponyville (Warning: May Cause Loss of Sanity) - As Glados settles into her new and temporary life, she meets the local riffraff that she'll be living with for a good long while.
Meet the Ponyville (Warning: May Cause Loss of Sanity.)
"Life does not stop and start at your convenience you miserable piece o' shit." -Walter Sobchak
Sleep quickly became one of Glados' favorite past-times, right up there with testing. Every time she shut her eyes, which was now going into the third night, she experienced dulcet dreams of Ponyville set ablaze or the Princesses being gassed. She enjoyed it so much that she even went to bed at 6:00 P.M. and tried sleeping in until 11:00 A.M. The key word being 'tried.' Around 9:00 A.M. there was a knock on the door. Grumbling under her breath, she kicked off her dark blue blankets and took a moment to look out the window beside her bed. It gave a clear view of the outer planes surrounding Ponyville, though the right was obscured by the Everfree Forest. At the right angle she could see Fluttershy's cottage. Very strenuously, Glados dragged her hooves across the wooden floor, passing by her embarrassingly empty bookshelf. Though it's lower shelves were filled with unread novels and tomes, the top ones were noticeably barren save for the portal gun on the very top. Walking through the archway into the living room, Glados passed by her green three-cushioned couch, taking a moment to stare at the remaining embers in her fireplace still casting a faint glow. She predicted that it'd be used frequently, as indicated when she threw a picture of Twilight and her friends into the once hungry flames. The fireplace was accompanied by a coffee table on a black rug patterned with green techno lining. 'Tacky' is the word Glados would've used. Beside the fireplace was a door that led up to the attic, which Glados decided to turn it into a sort of 'laboratory.' Princess Celestia was kind enough to give away Luna's hand-me-down telescope. Though Glados wouldn't be surprised if the thing belonged to the King of the Monsters. The structure of the telescope was so big it had to jut out the attic's back window and make the rest of the house look like it had a tumor. Even more baffling about the device's odd design: the eyepiece tapered down to the size of a normal telescope's. So why not make it normal sized? Besides, what could Glados learn about space through a telescope that she didn't already know? The knocking was heard once more, but this time it didn't stop. Whoever was on the other side just kept knocking in an endless loop. Glados, her skull feeling like it was being drilled, quickened her pace. She glanced to the right at the whiteboard hanging from the wall. Notes written in Spanish took up half the space. Why in Spanish? So the ponies wouldn't recognize the notes being the materials and steps to build a nuclear reactor. Glados decided to save that project for a rainy day. Growing annoyed by the insipid knocking, Glados swung her stable-like door open to reveal who she thought was going to be Pinkie, but was actually a grey wall-eyed pegasus wearing a postman hat. Though she had a mailbag slung from her shoulder, a newspaper was held in her mouth. For the longest time, Glados and the pegasus just stared at eachother, not saying a word. The earth pony was intrigued by the other's out-of-focus eyes. The pegasus blinked several times, with her eyes aligning differently with each pass of her eyelids. Glados shook her head to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Does every pegasi have something wrong with them? The newspaper held in the blonde's mouth was then spat onto the ground and announced loud enough to wake the neighbors. "Mail call!" Glados ignored the ringing in her ears and said, "I have a mailbox. You could've used that." The grey pegasus blushed and said, "Yeah, uh, sorry about that." Glados leaned to the side and found her once proud mailbox now lying on its side with the door dented in. The pony smiled sheepishly. "Sorry! The stupid mail slot wouldn't take the letters." Glados almost smacked herself in the face to double check she wasn't dreaming. Wow. I'm dealing with a level of stupidity that far surpasses Rainbow Dash. "There are a few things wrong with your little 'excuse.'" she began, "First of all, my mailbox doesn't have a slot. Second, you could've used its door. And third, how the Hell did you manage to rip it out of the ground?" Unfortunately, the mail-mare was less concerned with her scolding than she was with a small yellow butterfly fluttering overhead. She happily waved a hoof at it, expressing a smile of pure joy. You know, Glados thought whilst kicking the newspaper into her home, I'm not even going to bother with this one. If I were to give her an I.Q. test, she'd probably cause the thing to burn out. Hey, that's something I should actually test. Several silent moments passed between the two ponies. Glados slowly rose a brow. Isn't she supposed to leave? Or something? The winged pony suddenly shot a hoof out and said, "Hi! I'm Ditzy!" She continued holding it out, expecting Glados to shake it. Ditzy? Oh for God's sake. Glados replied with, "Hi, I'm Bored." "Hi Bored!" Glados' eyelid twitched, followed by the abrupt slamming of the door. As she made her way into the kitchen, she heard Ditzy yell, "Hey, Bored?" Her voice was muffled, "Can I have a paper towel? I got a bloody nose!" Glados ignored the question and pretended she didn't hear. The faster she leaves me alone, the better. "Oh, okay. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?" I sure as Hell hope not. Little did Glados know that at that very moment, a great friendship was born.
Canterlot Castle Inside the castle's highly acropolis dining hall, servants, scribes, and of course, the Princess, all gathered around the grand table for breakfast. From each end, the elite chefs of Canterlot served the castle's residents only the finest of Equestrian cuisine. From simple dishes such as apple puff pancakes to eloquent tomato souffle, there was not a pony in Equestria as efficient as the royal cooks of Cantlerlot Castle. Celestia loved seeing her subjects just get along with eachother, never arguing, always willing to help in a time of need. It truly brought her happiness to see such peace and tranquility every morning. Beside her, Philomena diligently nibbled from a bowl of birdseed at the bottom of her cage. Her owner noticed the tips of her wings beginning to grey, foreshadowing the usual 'rebirth' of a phoenix's life. Back in Ponyville, Ditzy Doo continued her routes delivering mail right after meeting Glados. Just as Celestia levitated a cup of tea to her lips, she felt an invisible force hit her, like a gust of wind, followed by an icy shiver crawling down her spine. She couldn't explain what it is, or what it was. But whatever spawned it, it was certainly nothing good. Luna noticed her sister's slight quail and grew worried. "What is it, Tia?" Celestia shook her head, slowly setting her cup back on it's dish. "I... I don't know. I just have this sudden feeling that... that an event of cataclysmic proportions will befall our land." The Princess of the Night groaned, rolling her eyes. "Ugh, not again."
Glados sat at her kitchen table, drinking a cup of black coffee and reading the newspaper. The headline on it read quite possibly the funniest thing Glados has seen since she got here. It read: Local small-time celebrity, Trixie Lulamoon, was found dead in her trailer around 10 P.M. last night. Experts say she died from an intentional consumption of poisons, chemicals, and other such solvents. The case has been closed with the conclusion that this was just an overly complicated act of suicide. The picture below showed a grisly image of Trixie's corpse; her face blistered with irritated skin and pus-filled blemishes. Glados smiled, lifted her mug, and took another sip of coffee. She savored the bitter flavor like it was her last.
Alright! Time to do what the Princess asked and go out there and make some friends! Glados couldn't keep a straight face. She collapsed in the middle of her living room, slamming her hoof against the floor in a fit of laughter. No, Glados wasn't going to do that. At least not yet. She decided it'd be best if she stayed inside and read up on Equestria's history. She took the first book from the pile on the table, one called 'The Quest for Harmony.' The title alone told Glados that she was in for a real treat. She plunked herself on the couch, curling her front legs in, and flipped the cover open with her nose. Hours later, nearing the very end of the book, Glados was finishing up the last passage. She read it aloud in quite possibly the most lifeless, dull, tone possible. "Honesty will fight against any lies. Kindness will aid those overwhelmed by anger. Laughter will wither whole sadness away. Generosity will help those in need. Loyalty will strike, dear God, bravery in the hearts?" She stopped for a moment, looking up from her book. "Who the hell wrote this garbage?" She continued reading in the dulled tone, "Magic will then make everything complete. So remember, dear reader, every cycle brings forth six new representatives of the Elements of Harmony. And they shall protect us from those with black hearts until the cycle repeats." Glados slammed the tome shut and tossed it, intending for it to land in the fireplace but instead slammed against the sky-blue wall. Gee, I wonder who the poor saps are for this 'cycle. Glados chuckled lightly, humorously thinking about Twilight and her friends being the bearers of these 'Elements.' She was snapped out of her daydream when she heard a knock on the door. She sauntered over, dreadfully expecting it to be Ditzy. She opened the door, pleasantly surprised and annoyed to find it was actually Pinkie Pie, bearing the widest of grins and a yellow party hat worn on her head. Glados' half-shut eyes blinked slowly. "Hey, Glady! We're having a half-birthday party for Minuette's baby foal over at Sugarcube Corner! Wanna come?" She leaned on her front hooves, blinking her eyes in rapid succession. "Aren't birthdays just another way of celebrating one's imminent death?" Glados replied, almost robotically. Pinkie was surprisingly unfazed by the mare's dark comment, "No it's not!" she said happily, "It's about getting presents! And cake!" Pinkie began lolling and drooling at the very thought. Like a light, she instantly snapped out of her daydream moments later. "So, are ya comin'?" "No." "Okay! Oh, and Glady, one more thing." she said in an almost secretive tone. Sighing, Glados said, "What?" "Do ya mind if I call you 'Glados' or 'GLaDOS?'" She spoke as if it was a legitimate question. Feeling a sharp pain split through her skull, the now livid earth pony rubbed her forehead. Groaning whilst doing so, she asked, "What are you talking about?" "Well," Pinkie Pie began, taking in a deep breath. Glados felt her heart drop to the pits of her stomach, suddenly realizing the fuse she just ignited. "No, Pinkie! Don-" "In the little flashback thing you were called 'GLaDOS,' but it was spelled capital-G, capital-L, little-a, capital-D, capital-O, and capital-S. I found that kinda weird. I mean, why not capitalize the 'a?' It makes no sense! Heh, ANYway, 'Glados' is spelled-" As Pinkie yapped away without missing a beat, Glados slowly shut the door, keeping a deranged glare on the pink pony. "-Capital-G and the rest are little letters! So should I just call you 'Glados' or 'Glados-but-with-all-capitals-except-for-'a?'" Pinkie finally noticed the door was closed, and that she was pretty much talking to a wall. "Okay! I'll just come back later!" She happily bounced down the winding path from Glados' house, into Ponyville. Glados rubbed her aching head, feeling like it was going to burst. Come to think of it, she got a headache every time she spoke with Pinkie Pie. Being with that horse all the time can't be good for your health. She trotted into the kitchen and took an ice-pack from the freezer, placing it on her head. Climbing back up her bed, Glados reached to her right and blindly took the next book from the top of the pile. The title was obscured by a sticky note, signed in black ink: Read this! It's awesome! -R.D. I'll be the judge of that. Hey, Rainbow Dash knows how to write. I should remember to bake her a cake. Glados flicked the sticky note off the cover, not paying attention to where it landed. The cover was of a beige pegasus in safari gear who... who looked suspiciously like Rainbow Dash. She seemed to be hanging from a vine suspended over a lake full of crocodiles. In a monotone voice, Glados read aloud, "Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone?" She looked up from her book, "'Sapphire Stone?' Isn't that a bit redundant? Besides, who'd go on a quest for a crummy rock?" After asking herself the rhetorical question, she proceeded to read the first chapter, which lasted about ten seconds. "As Daring Do trekked through the tropical jungle, the wet heat sapped her-Okay, this is dumb." Glados slammed the book shut and tossed it across the room, joining the 'The Quest for Harmony' on the floor. Amongst her reading of half-assed novels and losing brain cells to brain dead ponies, Glados came to realize from looking outside that it was nightfall. Well, to her it was nightfall in reality the sun was just starting to make it's slow descent. That was as good enough an excuse as any to write her daily report and go to bed.
The next day, Glados was getting ready to start acting like a 'normal pony' as Celestia would say. She wasn't going to actually converse with her 'friends,' or even try and make any. What she really wanted to do was check out Scratch's Vinyl Emporium. She knew a being with a real taste in music must have some sort of grasp on reality. Oh how wrong she was. Her journey through Ponyville was uneventful. A few ponies took notice of the town's new resident but pressed on with their daily routine. As Glados walked by the statue of Princess Celestia, she was greeted by none other than Rainbow Dash. The pegasus, hovering a foot off the ground, was dressed from head to hoof in what looked like football gear. "Hey, Glados! You wanna join our game of hoofball?" she asked with a nervous Fluttershy and Caramel trailing in from behind, wearing the same getup. "It's pegasi vs. earth ponies! Brains vs. brawn!" She slammed her hooves together, shooting the unamused earth pony a smug grin. Glados rolled her eyes. "Outdoor sports? Please. They're beneath me. I've got better things to do. Besides, who's the brains?" Rainbow stared at Glados as if she had a screw loose. Or ten of them. "Pegasi, of course!" "Pfft-" Glados looked down, hiding her grin and swallowing a chuckle. Unfortunately, Rainbow noticed, "What's so funny?" she asked, craning her head down to be eye level with the grounded pony. "Nothing that concerns you." she said with her regular flatness. "I have science stuff to do. Complicated science stuff. Your elementary primitive mind won't understand." She brushed past the airborne pegasi, then broke into a sprint. While Rainbow awaited the arrival of the remaining players, she took one last look at the lonely earth pony. Though Rainbow was still wary of Glados, and hadn’t fully forgiven her for the heinous acts she committed, she still held a feeling of pity for the lonely mare. 'There has to be some reason she's so isolated.' Rainbow thought indefinitely. 'And I'm gonna find out what!'
Ugh, that thing actually expected me to take part in team sports! Waste of time. What good is being an athlete anyway? Glados finally arrived at Scratch's Vinyl Emporium, with its iconic record slicing through the roof. The lack of thunderous techno music was noticed, though Glados was actually thankful for some peace and quiet after talking to Rainbow Dash. Stopping at the hazy double doors, Glados took a deep breath and entered. Walking into the store, there was the abrupt scent of... actually, she couldn't even describe what it smelled like. The humidity in the store was heavy, making Glados wonder why anyone would want to shop here at all. All around the store, the borders around the ceiling were lined with neon-like signs of musical notes, lightening bolts, and vinyl records. There were four aisles parallel to eachother, each lined up with records and tracks of varying artists. Glados walked down one, eyeing the labels of various records, silently judging them. Unfortunately, not a single one was techno. Boring. Rock and Roll? Who listens to this junk? More like 'For morons, by morons.' I wouldn't even blow my nose into this. To Glados, each label seemed worse than the last, making her wonder what these ponies even thought the definition of music was. Glados found the store's presumed owner behind the counter. A unicorn, white like herself, was levitating a box of old disks onto the upper shelves in the back. Her electrifying blue mane and tail was just as scraggly and unkempt as Glados'. Turning around, she jumped a little at the sudden sight of the supposed customer. She lifted a hoof, adjusting her purple tinted glasses and propped an elbow on the counter. Well, she looks like your average high-school dropout. But looks don't mean anything. She could be just as well-read and sophisticated as- "Yo, dude, what's up? I haven't seen ya aroun' here before. The name's Vinyl Scratch, by the way. So," She looked over her glasses, staring at the earth pony with a set of mischievous crimson eyes. "What're ya lookin' for?" And that is my cue to leave. Glados swiftly turned and made her way back to the front door. Vinyl, however, was not allowing the rare occasion of a customer to slip by. "Wait! I-I knew you was a classy mare. I can tell by lookin' at'cha. Ha-Hang on." Glados stopped, curious as to what this unicorn's definition of a 'classy pony' was. Vinyl opened the door behind her and stuck her head in. "Octavia! Get your fat flank out here!" She looked over her shoulder, shooting Glados a reassuring smile. Vinyl went behind the register and leaned against it. From the back room, a light grey earth pony with long, combed hair walked out in a preserved manner. "Please, Vinyl." She spoke in a light Equestrian accent. "I appreciate you allowing me to stay here until the Gala, I really do. But I'm not doing your job." She held her nose up high, adjusting the bow-tie latched around her neck. "Chill out, Octi. My friend here is more into 'classy' business ponies, tha's all." Vinyl put a hoof to her mouth and let out a forced cough that sounded like she was saying 'Snoresville.' Octavia rolled her eyes, "Ugh, you are such a childish pig." "Well... you're... dumb." "You're both dumb." Glados said, growing irritated by the mares' constant bickering. "What are you two? Sisters?" "Naw, cousins." Vinyl said, turning back to her well-mannered relative. "You're dummier!" Octavia dismissed her childish cousin and turned her attention to Glados. "Just ignore her. How may I help you?" "No, you're dummier!" Octavia huffed, combing the locks of hair out of her eyes. It was very clear that she despised being here. Glados had to pry her eyes away from the D.J. pony before finally saying, "Yeah, I'd like to browse the... electronic tracks." A pleased smiled creased Vinyl's lips as she levitated a box full of D.J. records onto the counter. Octavia cringed at the sight, loathing the deafening genre her dimwitted cousin enjoys. "Alright, man. Everything in here is twenty bits." Vinyl said, patting the side of the box. Glados furrowed her brow and said, "Do I look like I have any money?" “No bits, no deal.” "What if we strike a-" "No bits, no deal." "What about-" "No bits, no deal." "Can I tal-" "No bits, no deal." Glados wanted to do nothing more the wring Vinyl's neck, to see her broken corpse fall to the ground. But of course, she was being watched by Celestia at all times, through the sun, as her 'Quest for Harmony' book stated. They might as well have put a shock collar on me. "I'll come back la-" "No bits, no deal." "Just shut up, Vinyl." Octavia finally said, further emphasizing her point by smacking the unicorn upside the head and knocking her glasses off. "Hey!" the alabaster pony snapped, levitating the glasses back to her face. "I'm tellin' dad!" "There is no justifiable reason to pester Uncle Fancypants while he is on vacation! He doesn’t have time to bother with your foalish matters!” While the two engaged in a verbal brawl, Glados took this as her cue to vacate the area. Swiftly creating as much distance between her and the store as possible. She achieved a consensus on this little adventure with just a few simple words: Never. Again.
Okay. That's it. I'm going crazy. Now, any rational human being would go crazy in a place like this. I mean, who wouldn't? But the scary part about this is I'm going crazy. Me! This isn't good. I have to find something to occupy myself with. These 'books' are just pointless drivel on 'magic' and 'harmony.' Okay. I digress. They might've been informative for an actual resident of this godforsaken place, but I'm not a resident. It just makes my blood boil. I swear to God, I'll do more than revert Wheatley to scrap when I get home!
But more on that later. No sense wallowing in hollow revenge if there's no one to take it out on. At least with Chell she could actually hear my insults. Now, like I stated in the above paragraph, I'm slowly losing my mind. And I'm not trying to be funny. I'm serious. I actually believe my mind is deteriorating. So how do I fix that? With testing, of course. There's so many things I want to learn about these equines. Like who's the dumbest one in Ponytown? Rainbow, Vinyl, or Ditzy? That'll be interesting! And what about the stars? Doesn't the lunar princess know stars are actually suns, and her sister's been deceiving her this whole time? Results of that would be interesting. I know I can just ask the Twilight horse for answers to these questions, but where's the fun in that? That's like going into a movie knowing everyone dies in the end. The whole point of testing is to solve the unknown for yourself. And that's what I plan on doing tomorrow.
Best of luck.
Early that next morning, when the sun was just peeking above the mountains, Glados was getting ready for her first 'Unofficial Official Day of Testing.' But first, she had to wait, to suffer from boredom while waiting for the sun to be high enough for her to sneak under the trees. She knew Princess Celestia always had her eye on the 'guest of honor.' She obviously wouldn't allow Glados to partake in testing of any kind. Even if it was for science. To pass the time, Glados was engaged in an intense game of 'self catch.' She lied on her bed with an orange portal beside her on the floor. Facing her, on the opposite end of the room, was a blue portal. She lazily tossed a rubber ball into the blue aperture and it came shooting out of the orange portal, into her outstretched hoof. She repeated this three-second loop for what felt like an eternity until there was a knock on her door. "Enter." she said, never breaking her concentration. The door opened, and Applejack entered. Oh great. Glados' brief moment of annoyance broke the cycle, causing her to miss the orange portal and hitting the wall instead. It proceeded to ricochet off the bedpost. "Howdy, partner." Applejack greeted, walking into Glados' room, taking a brief gander at the portals adorning the floor and wall. "Howdy." she replied numbly. "How're ya likin' Ponyville?" "Below average." An awkward silence followed. Glados just stared at the ceiling while Applejack twisted her hoof into the floor, glancing around the room. She then ran it along the sky-blue walls, letting out an impressed whistle. "Gee, Princess Celestia sure gave ya a nice place to crash." Glados' impatience grew, "There'd better be a good reason as to why you're here." "Listen," Applejack began, making a futile attempt at cleaning up the mare's sour attitude. "Ah know ya hate bein' here. I get it. But we're tryin' our darndest to make it the least bit enjoyable!" "Then I guess you're doing a bad job at it," she replied, staring at the now permanent portals in her bedroom. Yeah, I should've built a Material Emancipation Grill. The orange mare stamped her hoof in irritation, "C'mon, partner! It's not our fault yer bein' so gosh darn difficult! Ya talk back to mah friends, ya gave Ditzy a bloody nose-" "Oh yeah. That was pretty funny." Glados mused. "And then there's that!" Applejack fumed, "Who the hay laughs at others' misery?" "Someone with a good sense of humor." the mare replied, casually crossing her legs. Applejack was now furious. Her patience and hospitality with Glados were now wearing thin, and that was genuinely concerning. She hasn't felt this way towards another being since Discord, and she didn't like that. Applejack always considered herself to be the most level-headed amongst her friends, and she refused to let Glados get the better of her. Keeping her breathing steady and taking a moment to calm down, Applejack calmly said, "That's it. Yer helpin' me work in the orchard today." "No." "Ah'm afraid ya don't have a choice." she said bluntly. Glados immediately sat up, her hind legs dangling over the floor. "Says who?" "Says the Princess." Applejack said, suppressing the urge to grin at the mare's sudden fumble in her smug persona. "She sent a letter to Twilight sayin' she wants ya to help around town. She thinks it'd benefit you and teach ya some 'humility.'" Glados nodded, not out of agreement, but for respect for the Princess. Well played, Celestia. I can clearly see how you tricked these morons into letting you hold power for thousands of years. But still... "I'm not helping you and your hick family with their little farm-hick chores." "'Hick?'" A.J. echoed, unfamiliar with the term. "What the hay's a 'hick?'" Glados slid off her bed, successfully landing on all fours. She brushed past Applejack, motioning her head to a small stack of papers on the shelves. "It says so on your files." "Mah files?" As the white earth pony trotted into the living room, Applejack approached the stack of papers and flipped through them. The top one was a crudely drawn orange and yellow-maned stick pony with several bullet points underneath. -Appears to be of Southern descent. -Possible inbreeding. -Notable lack of parents. Ha ha. -Further study is required. Applejack rubbed her temple, unaware of what 'inbreeding' was. She flipped to the next page, which was yet another stick pony in blue with a multicolored mane. -Massive ego and self-vanity may be the result of unappreciative parents. -Could be linked to traumatic event in one's childhood. -Rainbow colored mane may point to underlying homosexuality. -Theory supported by tomboyish personality. -Further study is required. "Hey, wait a minute." Applejack yelled, quickly sifting through the rest of the papers revealing an identical format on all of her friends and other residents of Ponyville. "Are ya thinkin' about spyin' on mah friends!?" she yelled over her shoulder. Glados returned decked out in a safari hat and a pair of binoculars strung around her neck. "What makes you think that?" The cowpony sighed, "Look, ah originally didn't wanna drag ya too mah farm, but yer attitude needs a lot of adjustin'. Ah think it'll be good for ya. Besides, Princess Celestia is orderin' ya to help around town. C'mon, it'll be fun!" The greasy-maned earth pony removed her gear, keeping her cold, plaid stare on Applejack. "I'm really feeling the 'love and harmony' in this place. Barge into my home, order me to do farm labor, and conform me into your little circle of blissfully, ignorantly, challenged sociopaths. Isn't life here grand?" Applejack narrowed her eyes, growing tiresome of the former A.I.'s senseless antics and blatant hypocrisy. "Arigh'. Party's over. Ah tried bein' civil, but there ain't no reason'n with you, is there? Yer comin' with me, even if ah have to drag ya." A faint, amused smile crossed Glados' blank facade. "Hmph, I'd like to see that happen."
With a mouth full of silky black hair, Applejack strenuously dragged Glados down the dirt path towards Sweet Apple Acres. Glados certainly wasn't making it easy, as she was placing her full weight on the ground just to make it harder for Applejack. Under her breath, the blonde muttered curses that'd make Granny Smith beat her within an inch of her life. This is so going on your file. Glados thought under a grimace, then finally speaking up, "Okay! Okay! I'll walk! Just get your disease-ridden mouth off of my... my... tail." The cowpony released her hold, watching the mare slowly get up. While picking herself up from the dirt, Glados continuously muttered under her breath, "I hate this place. I hate this place. I hate this place." "C'mon partner! Sweet Apple Acres is right down the street!" Glados shook her head, loosening the gravel caught up in her mane. Patting the dirt off of her stomach, she asked, "So, slave-master Applejack, what neanderthal tasks shall we partake in?" The cowpony held her tongue, ignoring her unflattering nickname, and began explaining the tasks at hand.
"So... you want me to kick this tree?" Glados asked hesitantly, studying the old oaken standing before her. "That seems rather... unproductive." "Look, it's easy." Applejack walked towards another tree. "Ya just get a good hold on the soil, lift yer legs up, and kick the base as hard as you can." The workhorse demonstrated this by striking out with her hind legs; her back hooves slammed into the worn bark of the apple tree. A gratifying smack resounded throughout the trunk, sending the bounty of fruit falling from the branches, into the three buckets below. "It's easy as pie.” "Interesting. So the recoiling force behind one's kick generates a sort of shock-wave throughout the tree, thus causing a friction with the-" Glados stopped when she turned to Applejack, who was displaying quite possibly the most dumbfounded look she has ever seen. At the risk of frying the supposedly dimwitted pony's mind, Glados said in 'simpleton' terms, "Um... so you kick tree, apples fall down. I guess I can do that." "Uh-huh." Applejack replied, her expression unchanged. Okay, you can do this. You can do this. Come on, Glados. If you can earn Aperture a Copley medal just for being alive you can certainly degrade yourself for a couple hours kicking a few apple trees. The white pony positioned herself behind the tree, making sure she had a firm stance in the ground. "Okay sugarcube, on the count of three." Applejack said, watching Glados lower her chin to the ground. "One..." The rookie apple-bucker slowly lifted her legs. "Two..." Her hind legs coiled back, preparing to spring forth. "Three!" SNAP! "Oh God! Oh dear GOD! My legs!" In a matter of seconds, Glados was now lying on the grass, writhing in unimaginable pain. Her hind legs, now bent at complete opposite angles, twitched and throbbed. I don't understand... She thought, unsuccessfully trying to ignore the burning pain glowering throughout her legs. They were like glass... I don't get it. Applejack's breathing accelerated, her eyes grew wider. She sprinted to the mare's side, her heartstrings torn at the sight of anything that was in pain. Her eyes began to well with tears as she softly spoke, "Yer... yer going to be fine, partner." She paused, choking on a sob, "Yer gonna be fine." Swallowing a grunt of pain, Glados shouted an entire sentence as if it were a single word, "NO! Do-I-look-fine-I-broke-both-of-my-legs-JACKASS!" Another sharp pain shot through her left leg, "Oh GOD! HELP ME!" she screamed, her eyes welling up with burning tears brought forth by her torment. Tears. Glados, the GLaDOS, actually shed tears. Never in her life has she thought of committing such a humiliating act. Applejack, refusing to believe, very gently slid her forehooves underneath Glados' throbbing form and slowly lifted, "It'll be fine..." she whispered, not to Glados, but herself. "It's jus' a muscle sprain." "Muscle sprain!? I need a hospital you stupid mother f-AUGH!!!" The instant her broken leg touched the ground, an unbearable spike of pain shot through it, like a hot spike twisting through her flesh. Glados collapsed back on her side with the leg she landed on, generating another gout of physical torture, though it only resonated in the form of a single grunt. Glados' consciousness began to slip. Applejack, barely holding back tears, sprinted towards home while screaming, "Big Mac! Big Mac! Get help! Quick!" One last thought ran through Glados' mind before she lost consciousness, I... hate... this place.
"Lookie lookie! She's waking up!" "Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh..." "It'll be fine, Applejack. There was no way you could've-" "Ah know! But ah'm the one that forced her into it!" Glados slowly opened her eyes as if she was moving through molasses, trying to adjust to the sudden brightness of the hospital room. "Wh-What happened?" she asked, rubbing her head. "Um, Glados?" A voice, unfamiliar to Glados but warm and kind altogether asked softly, trying to make sure the patient didn't slip back into unconsciousness. "Glados, can you hear me?" The mare opened her encrusted lids, noticing her hind legs suspended from the ceiling by wires and pulleys. Oh yeah. Glados felt slightly uncomfortable with her only source of protection being a green hospital gown, and she knows what humans would do if they came across a woman in a situation like this. But nothing would compare to the uncomfortable and unsettling feeling of having six sets of wide eyes staring at you. "She's not talking." Rainbow pointed out. "Are you sure she didn't hit her head, Applejack?" the same out-of-site mare asked. "Ah'm positive! At least... ah hope so." The cowpony removed her hat and placed it over her heart. She looked up at a deadpanned Glados with a pair of puffy green eyes. "Gladis? Sugar? Ah'm... ah'm mighty sorry fer makin' ya do that. But ah... ah jus' don't..." She tripped over her words, at a loss on what to say. Glados wasn't moved by the mournful pony's words. She spoke, her voice cracked from under use, "I... hate... you." Applejack turned her back on Glados, emanating a series of quiet sniffles. Rarity and Twilight shot the broken pony a dirty glare as they consoled their friend. "Hey, what gives?" Rainbow proclaimed, "She said she's sorry! How was she supposed to know your bones were made out of paperweight glass?" Glados gave a blank stare. "...What?" As Rainbow's snide remark fell short, a glaring blush grew within her embittered face. "Allow me to explain." The unseen mare revealed herself, as it was Nurse Redheart entering from behind the curtains. She spoke gently, looking up from a clipboard held in hoof, "Glados, I... I'm not sure how to tell you this... but..." Redheart loathed breaking awful news to her patients, claiming it to be the hardest part of her job. "I'm afraid you’ve been diagnosed with Osteogenesis imperfecta." The news hit Glados like... like a cool breeze on a hot Summer's day. "Brittle bone disease?" she clarified, making sure the nurse wasn't pulling a fast one on her. "Like peanut brittle!" Pinkie realized, resulting in a grumble in her stomach. "Ooh, anypony got something to eat?" Everyone in the room stared at the party pony, unsure of what to make of her statement. Pinkie huffed, "Fine, I'll just go down to the cafeteria!" She turned and diligently trotted into the hall and make a left. "So... is she... all... there?" Glados asked the nurse while pointing to her own temple. "Like, up here?" The pure-white earth pony chuckled softly, "Yes, she is. Pinkamena is just a little... silly. It's nothing bad." Pinkamena? Glados mused, Sounds like a serial killer. Snapping out of her little daydream, the hospitalized mare asked once more, "So you were saying I have brittle bone disease?" Redheart swallowed a lump in her throat and nodded. "Yes, I'm afraid so." If her legs weren't broken, Glados would've gone up and jumped on her bed like a child on Christmas Eve. Nothing could be better than this. But then she remembered one important detail, "How severe is it?" "Well," The pink-maned nurse began, flipping to another page on her clipboard. "Luckily, it isn't the most severe case I've seen. You should be able to live a relatively normal life, but I wouldn't go around bucking apple trees or lifting heavy equipment. Take it easy, don't run, and you'll be fine. I recommend you revisit at the end of every week for a checkup." Perfect. Things are really starting to look up around here. Glados even started smiling. She couldn't wait until she got out of here, into the outside world. She'll be able to do all the testing she wanted and have a free pass of all the mundane tasks of Ponyville Princess Celestia attempted to shackle her with. As these thoughts ran through her head, Glados' smile grew bigger. To all the ponies in the room, they thought she was smiling because her condition wasn't severe, and that she was grateful. Nurse Redheart even got a little misty eyed at the mare's inspiring enthusiasm. Smiling through her tear-soaked face, Applejack said, "So, Gladis, ah promise ah'll make it up to ya for this. Ah just feel awful..." "No, Applejack," The aforementioned mare shot her head up at the fact that Glados mentioned her by name, "I cannot thank you enough. I think I'll even bake you a cake, my treat." Applejack nodded, tipping her hat as well. I need to see how long an equine with bleach in their digestive tracts will survive anyway. Glados had no idea what the future would hold for her, but she knew Equestria would not be ready for what would come next. With a grim smile, Glados thought to herself, I'm back in business.
Next Time: Wait... Glados did WHAT!? - Rarity and Fluttershy go to Glados of all ponies to help with a task that could mean the life or death of a young pony. Of course, she sees this as a brand new opportunity to test.
Wait... Glados did WHAT!?
"The right man in the wrong place -can make all the difference- in the world." - The G-Man
How to survive the Everfree Forest
Written by Fluttershy
Edited by Angel Bunny The Everfree Forest: A claustrophobic jungle full of bloodthirsty monsters, unusual weather, and ancient ruins that only the boldest or dumbest of Equestria would dare to traverse. Though the average traveler would find a town built right next to this perilous forest to be crazy, the denizens of either side keep to themselves, for the most part. If one would dare step inside the boundaries of the Everfree, they are placed in immediate danger. You might as well slather yourself in barbecue sauce. To the naked eye, one would see that this is nothing more than a spooky woodland inhabited by strange, isolated creatures. But to the experts who are amicable with the land, they know the hidden creatures, the stalkers. From the treetops to underground, nowhere is safe in the Everfree. Has the constant chirp of the crickets ceased? Don't be fooled, you've got a sasquatch on your tail. Gross, what happened to that poor goat? Keep on your toes, there's a chupacabra in the area. Eugh, what is that horrible smell? If you're in the Everfree, odds are that it's the raunchy odor of a krenshar's undead flesh. There is nothing in that forbidden jungle that would be willing to pass up a tasty meal. This guide has been written so you can keep your friends and families safe when camping in the Everfree Forest, if that's what you're doing. If not, then I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. "Scootaloo? Are you sure about this?" Sweetie Belle asked nervously, trying to focus on levitating the guide before her. The minty green glow shimmering around the book flickered, betraying the unicorn's still-budding magical talents. The addressed filly looked over her shoulder, "Totally! We find the turtle, bring it back to Fluttershy, and BAM! Cutie marks!" "Didn't we already try somethin' like this?" Apple Bloom pointed out, then the memory suddenly came back. "Yeah, we did! An' then a cockatrice attacked, an' Fluttershah’ saved us!" The survival guide slammed shut, ensuing a smack that echoed throughout the encompassing trees. "Alright, this book is terrible," Sweetie stated, laboriously levitating the book into her saddlebag. "I'm sorry, but Fluttershy can't be an author." "Why? What's wrong?" the pegasus filly asked rhetorically, putting much of her attention into trying to find Fluttershy's turtle. "Well, it was more of a gradual thing. I mean, at the dragon's page the only words were ‘Stay away! Dangerous! Do not approach! Write to the Princess if you come across a dormant dragon!’" The other fillies laughed at Sweetie's over-exaggerated impersonation of Fluttershy. "So I was thinking, 'Okay, this is just Fluttershy being herself.' But as I got further into the book, at the Manticore page, it said 'show a little kindness.' What!?" Scootaloo burst out with laughter, "Wh-What? Kindness!?" she said in disbelief, trying to catch her breath. "That ain't nice, girls," the custard-colored earth pony scolded, staring at her immature friends with a shamed glare. "Y'know how Fluttershah is, an' maybe she's right." The pegasus filly's laughter died out, followed by a cryptic remark, "Yeah, okay. Say we find a manticore. It's hungry, hasn't eaten in days, and lo and behold, it spots three supple, little fillies to snack on." "Scootaloo! Quit it!" Sweetie ordered, her eyes nervously darting around the twisted, claw-like branches of the enclosing trees. The sunset-shaded pegasus ignored her friend's pleas, "You walk up to it, Apple Bloom, just to see what happens. Show the hungry beast a little kindness." She shot the earth pony a dextrous grin. "Then... it... SNAPS!" With emphasis, she jumped up in a shameful way to get a scare out of her friends. While it reduced Sweetie Belle to screaming, Apple Bloom was unfazed by her friend's pitiful attempts at scaring her. After being friends for two years, Apple Bloom grew resilient to Scootaloo's foalish scare tactics. But Sweetie Belle, on the other hand, quivered with fear. What the adolescent also learned was scolding Scootaloo is like questioning Pinkie Pie: It hurts your brain, and in the end, you realize you've wasted your time. Instead, Apple Bloom smirked and counterclaimed with, "Ah think if we came across a starving manticore, it'd go for the chicken first." Sweetie Belle giggled softly, whereas Scootaloo's face flushed angrily. "Whatever, you're no fun anymore!" "Yeah, yeah. Grow up, Scoots. Anyway, who remembers the turtle's name?" "Mary Shelly," Sweetie recalled. Wanting to get a better view of the area, Scootaloo made a futile attempt at flying by jumping in the air and buzzing her callow wings. Growling at her failure, the flightless pegasus said, "Well, I guess we're doing this on hoof. Here, Mary! Here girl!" She turned and asked her friends, "What sounds do turtles make?" "Um... clicking?" the motley-maned unicorn guessed. Her two friends shrugged in response and began clicking their mouths. Unbeknownst to the naïve trio, their clicking attracted the attention of a dangerous predator within the Everfree Forest. Its pair of malice, red eyes locked on the group, razor-filled beak dripping saliva zestfully. Its massive airfoils flapped, slow at first but gradually faster. The surrounding area, its perch in the trees, swayed and rustled among the increasing gales. After gaining enough speed, the monster leaped from its hideout and took flight, keeping close tabs on this magnanimous brunch.
Why'd I agree to this? Glados glanced up at her clock, annoyed to find that it was almost noon. Two hours have gone by. Two hours of Ditzy relaying several stories about her... 'interesting' life in Ponyville. Though by 'interesting' Glados really meant ‘the faint urge to stab herself in the head with an ice pick’. It's not that she hated Ditzy. In fact, she found her to be one of the more tolerable residents of Ponyville. 'Tolerable' does not mean 'friend.' Glados would always assure herself, She's just a fascinating specimen to simply watch, like a turtle trying to roll off its back. The problem with Ditzy Doo was, of course, her intelligence. Or lack thereof. She'd tell Glados the most bizarre of stories, trip over her own hooves, or simply just 'zone out' at random points in a conversation, like she had a legitimate condition. When Glados asked Ditzy, jokingly of course, if she was dropped on her head as a baby, the wall-eyed pony nodded. For the past three days, Glados has been holed up in her remote home in Ponyville, gladly taking up the nurse's advice on staying off her hooves for a few days in order to recover. She got around her house via use of a temporary wheelchair. She hated the wheelchair. Many accidents occurred when going up and down the stairs to her science lab. Luckily, the chair's need would be obsolete tomorrow. While the extended periods of time in peace have been nice, she always dreaded the morning, when Ditzy Doo would deliver her mail and randomly delve into a topic of local news in Ponyville. Because the mailbox was out of commission, the mail had to be delivered through the front door. Why didn't Glados just not answer the door? Well, she never considered not answering the door. After decades of opening doors for test subjects, the whole gesture was kind of engraved into her brain. "And so I said: 'Muffiiins.' And the next thing you know, I'm laying on the floor with my face in a bucket. Hilarious, right Bored?" "GLaDOS." The earth pony said flatly, staring past Ditzy's head at the building blocks in the distance reprehensibly named 'Ponyville.' "What?" "It's GLaDOS. I was pulling your leg earlier. I just wanted to see how long I could keep up the 'Bored' thing until you finally realized it's the dumbest and most unrealistic name ever, right up there with 'Twilight Sparkle.'" Waiting for a response, Glados crossed her bandaged hind legs, trying to get them into a more comfortable position. After a brief moment of recollection, Ditzy said, "Oh," she laughed, "Well, I guess ya got me!" Her laugh trailed off awkwardly, realizing that her friend didn't find it quite as humorous. Ditzy's left eye, her good eye, glanced around absentmindedly. She whistled to herself, then twisted her hoof into the doorstep as if she was waiting for a train. Seconds passed, then minutes. Glados propped her elbow on her lap, then rested her chin on her hoof. It was quite possibly the most awkward situation in Equestrian history. Out of the blue, Glados randomly asked, "Ditzy, why're you doing this?" "Huh? What do you mean?" She cocked her head to the side, innocence displayed in the form of a curious smile. "You only talk to me. And don't lie, I know you do. Down the street, at the other three houses, you simply give the residents their mail and leave. But with me, you talk of the most asinine things that I honestly, truthfully, don't care about." Ditzy blinked, processing what Glados just said. "Care to elaborate?" The ash-colored pony tapped her chin, taking her time to think up a rather weak excuse. "Well... uh, I like to learn about who I'm delivering mail to." Glados sighed, brushing several locks of hair out of her eyes. "Alright. I would believe you if it weren't for two things. One: You've yet to actually ask a single thing about me. The only thing you've asked me is what my favorite muffin is." "Yeah! It's banana! I remember! Did you like it?" The mailmare smiled, recalling the muffin she baked for Glados yesterday. "Actually, it was very good, thanks. Makes me wonder if those 'cutie marks' actually even mean anything." "Eh, it's hit or miss. You see, I got mine because I can blow a bubble that lasts three seconds longer than normal bubbles." She dropped her head for a brief moment, laughing at how ridiculous her 'special talent' was. "And look at me now! I'm a mailmare, I bake, and I'm a... a..." Her cheerful facade vanished, now adopting a sullen look. "And that's it." She mumbled just loud enough for the chair-ridden mare to hear. Glados nodded, intrigued by this pony's story. "I see." "Eeyup." Her expression never lifted, her good eye still gazing at her hooves. Glados didn't even need to ask what was wrong. She could read Dizty like a book. Instead, she curtly said, "And second: It's Sunday. There is no mail on Sunday." The pegasus knew she was caught. Her rock-filled mailbag wasn't fooling anybody. She'd have to come clean. "Um... I think I'm... gonna..." Ditzy's speech trailed off as her other eye, the 'derped' one, caught sight of two mares sprinting down the path from the Everfree. A filly on a scooter tailed them, with a wagon carrying some cargo hitched behind. "Holy graham crackers!" Ditzy yelled, completely disregarding the fact that she was dead silent several moments ago. She then broke out into hysterical laughter. "Who knew Flutters could do that?" "What? Do what?" Glados asked, slowly wheeling out the door. Her heart immediately dropped like a stone at the sight of what the wagon was carrying. Glados could feel her chest tighten and foreleg go numb as she saw the mares run up the path to her house, bringing the cargo-filled wagon even closer. The other mare, Rarity, nearly pounced on the broken pony. Her pristine mane was now disheveled, mangled into cringe-worthy twists and locks. Uncharacteristically, she didn't even care about her appearance at the moment. "Glados! Oh, Oh thank Celestia you're here! I need your help!" With pleading, red eyes she looked back at Fluttershy and motioned her closer. "Bring them in, Fluttershy. Oh and, please do be careful." The duo simultaneously shrilled, Ditzy in delight and Glados in horror. "WHAT IN THE NAME OF DARWIN IS THAT!?" Fluttershy carried the wagon with a sob-shaken Apple Bloom and Scootaloo trailing behind. "Please! Please, let us explain!" The wagon held two things: One of them was, of course, Sweetie Belle. Except she was a rock. Well, petrified to be exact. And behind her was quite possibly the most horrific thing Glados has ever seen in her entire sixty-eight year life span. "Alright Glados, now don't scream, or you'll just agitate it even more." Fluttershy spoke very slowly, like she was talking to a small child. "Too late." Right as Glados took in a deep breath to scream, Ditzy shoved a hoof in her mouth and shushed into her ear rather obnoxiously. "Glados," Fluttershy began, carrying the wagon closer with Glados moving deeper into her house. "This is called a Cockatrice. But don't be afraid. It's not a regular, viscious, Everfree Cockatrice. It's a member of a sub-group. They're just simply a little..." Her glistening cyan eyes slowly trailed up the beast's figure. "...bigger." The Cockatrice, or this 'cousin' of a Cockatrice, was unlike anything Glados has ever seen before. It was about as big as Princess Celestia, maybe a bit taller, with the build of a griffin; its hindquarters resembled a lion's with a pelt of midnight blue fur. It's forelegs, bound together by a lengthy lace of vine, resembled an eagle's or other related avian. The creature struggled against its bonds, evoking the vine to futilely dig into its taut, leather-esque wrists. The Cockatrice's massive, curved talons dug into its palms, drawing small trickles of blood. The creature's mighty eight-foot wingspan was bound together by a metal bar, clearly manipulated by magic. The monster attempted to let out a screech, though it only came out as a muffled whine due to another vine wrapped around its tooth-filled beak. As an extra precaution, a piece of cloth blinded the beast. There was, of course, the notable feature shared between all Cockatrices: the pale violet comb and wattles. These fleshy appendages distinguishing the monster appeared to be lacerated and shredded, like it had been through many battles with other denizens of the Everfree Forest. Of course, with Glados' already present fear of birds, she wasn't all too thrilled with having one presented to her like a Christmas present, let alone one that truly intends to kill. "Get that thing off my lawn! It's avian! Kill it! With fire! Poison it! I don't care!" The mare backed up into her house like there was no tomorrow, only to be stopped by Ditzy. "It's fine, Glados. Really. It's tied up, see?" "Hands off, birdbrain! Yes, indeed this monstrosity is tied up. I'm not blind," she shot back. "What I want to know, is why are you bringing a giant flesh-eating bird to my house!? Isn't this more of Twilight's thing?" Glados squirmed in her seat, knowing the monster was glaring at her through the fabric, like it sensed her very presence. I'm gonna enjoy dissecting you. Fluttershy felt it was her duty to point out, "Actually, Cockatrices turn their victims to stone, then eat them. The minerals are healthy for their immune system." She closed her eyes and smiled brightly. "Great. Thanks Steve Irwin. Now how about telling me why it's at my doorstep, tied up?" Rarity levitated a handkerchief to her face and dabbed away the mascara running down her face. "I-It's Sweetie Belle. She's... She—" "She's a rock," Glados pointed out, wanting to get the elephant out of the room. Rarity sobbed loudly into her handkerchief, invoking Apple Bloom and Scootaloo to comfort her. "This's all our fault." The cowfilly wept into Rarity's foreleg. "We should've never gone looking for that stupid turtle," the pegasus filly added, trying her best not to cry, to not seem weak. "You know what that is?" Glados said to Scootaloo, who peered up with glossy, violet eyes. "That's failure's talk. Are you a failure?" The filly wiped her eyes and shook her head. "Good. There's no point in crying over every little failure. Then you end up looking like an American. Are you an American, orange baby horse?" Scootaloo rose an inquisitive brow, and shook her head once more. "I don't even know what an 'American' is." "You don't want to know. So what do you do if you fail? You try again. And again and again until you get it right." Glados smiled, knowing she just saved this world from having to support yet another belly-aching failure. CRACK! 'Or maybe you feel good about showing a little kindness. You should do that more often.' Glados blinked several times, even batting her ear a bit to make sure she didn't mishear. Um... I don't remember saying that. "She's right, girls," Rarity said, her voice thick with emotion. "It isn't your fault. You had the best of intentions, and that's all that matters." The wheelchair-bound pony couldn't pry her eyes away from the monster, just awaiting that fateful moment where it would lash out and slit her throat. With its mind. She knew how deadly birds could be; their craftiness was unparalleled. Fluttershy stepped forward, away from the thrashing Cockatrice. "Please, try and understand, Glados. Sweetie Belle is Rarity's little sister, and she means the world to her." If Glados wasn't flinching every time the monster moved, she'd have her trademark 'uninterested look.' "I know you think it's scary, but alls it wants is to be left alone. Isn't that right little guy?" She gently pawed a hoof into the Cockatrice's side, resonating in a strangled scream. Little guy? Okay, every pegasus seriously has something wrong with them. This thing looks like it wants to rip her throat out! Tear flesh from her bone, bathe in her blood... actually, that sounds pretty exciting. I wonder if I can get Ditzy to cut the bonds and set it loose on this town. And I'll finally have a use for my telescope. Speaking of bonds... "How'd you get that thing here anyway?" she asked. Fluttershy blushed, "Uh, well..."
The colossus raked its claw across the tree, creating four parallel indentations in the worn bark. The Cockatrice, enraged that it missed its target, let out a furious roar. Rarity held her ground, standing between her fossilized sister and a starving Cockatrice. She pawed at the ground, the creature mimicking the motion, and charged. Right as they were about to collide, Fluttershy jumped in the way, halting the two. "WAIT!" "Fluttershy?" her friend whispered, watching her turn towards the growling Cockatrice. Saliva dribbled down its hungry beak. The caretaker drew closer, keeping her eyes shut to negate its petrifying spell. The Cockatrice in turn bared its jagged, yellow teeth. The timid, yellow pony decided to use the same technique she used on the manticore, where she gently nuzzled its leg. The monster growled louder, though Fluttershy remained vigilant. "Shh, it's okay." The monster rose a claw, balling it up into a fist. "Now I don't want to go and tell your mother on you." The feathered beast still held its fist in the air, pausing to release a guttural roar. The sheer force behind its scream bedraggled Fluttershy's mane. Almost gagging on its sour breath, she lightly chuckled and said, "You're no monster, are you?" The Cockatrice pleasantly responded by throwing its fist into her stomach, sending her flying back several feet and slamming into a tree. Almost hacking up a lung, Fluttershy managed to choke out, "Ugh... you... you BUCKER!" She let out a wheezed cough, "Rarity! Help!”
"... And then we fought. Rarity got the idea to use a part from the wagon, and now we're here." Fluttershy stared at the ground, ashamed for losing her temper with another animal. "I just feel awful..." After hearing that entire story, the only thing Glados found to be 'out of place' was, "Wow, you threatened to tell its mother? What a stud." "Actually, Moth Men are terrified of their parents." "Please, Fluttershy," Glados said, rubbing her forehead. "For all our sake, stop talking." The buttercream pegasus shied away as well as protectively lifting a hoof. "Oh, I'm sorry." "Yeah, you should be. Well," Glados gave Rarity a cruel smirk and said, "Good luck with your sister." "You're not going to consider helping?" she chastised. Half-lidded, Glados replied with a blatant, "I'm a scientist, not a biologist. There's a difference, like the difference between an elephant and an elephant seal. You want my advice for your rock-kin? Get a hammer." Rarity gasped in shock at the mare's crass solution. "Thanks for stopping by. It's been fun. Don't come back." Right as she was about to close the door, Rarity stuck a hoof in the path of the door, stopping it. "Please Glados, you have to help me. I'll make it worth your while!" "Send me home." Glados said, knowing this was well-beyond Rarity's ability but enjoyed the emotional deterioration it inflicted. Unfortunately, the fashionista kept a level head, "You know I can't do that. Just, please, hear me out." "Harassment and disturbing the peace. Tsk tsk tsk, I'm adding that to your file." Glados opened the door a little and slammed it onto Rarity's hoof, causing her to cry out. "Glados!" Fluttershy barked, "You don't do that!" "You horrid brute!" Rarity cried, rubbing her swollen ankle. "You disease of society!" Before Glados could shut the door, Ditzy placed a rock in the way. "Glados, help her!" she yelled apprehensively. The science mare peeked out through the crack of the door. "I'm not letting a giant, flesh-hungry monster into my house! Why can't you just bring it into Ponytown?" she demanded. Another voice, Fluttershy's, spoke with uncharacteristic bitterness, "I can't bring a Cockatrice into Ponyville because it would cause a panic, and the critters at my house are scared stiff of anything from the Everfree." A moment of silence passed. "We're not even going to bring it into your house. We just need to leave it on your front lawn and get Twilight. Maybe she can cast a spell to persuade the Cockatrice. Please Glados, it's not much. I'll pay you!" Glados rubbed her chin, squinting into the darkness of her home. Hmm... Well, the monster is tied up, I'll get paid generously, and... and... Her eyes lit up as a sudden realization came forth. And I have an idea. For science. But I need to prepare. Trying not to appear gratified, Glados opened the door and said to the five equines, "Fine, I'll help. But, and I know this'll be quite a challenge with Rarity's plump posterior, but do hurry." Rarity blinked several times, processing what Glados just said. "Are you calling me fat!?" "No, plump. There's a difference," she assured her. Rarity looked as if she was about to say something but knew it would be pointless. She turned, hiding her flushed face and said, "Come on, girls, let's get Twilight and the others." The mares and fillies ran off, leaving a cloud of swirling dust in their wake. "That should keep 'em busy for a while," Glados said, then turning to Ditzy. "I need you to do something very important for me, okay?" The pegasus did a double take, making sure she heard correctly. "You're... You're asking for my help? Oh, what is it what is it what is it!? I won't let you down, Glados, I promise!" She dropped to her knees, wrapping her forehooves around the smaller wheels of the chair. I admire her enthusiasm. Though I find it a little... distressing. I hope I'm making the right decision here. "Okay," Glados started warily, "I want you to head into town. Find and locate Vinyl Scratch. Once you achieve that, bring her back here. I'll explain the rest once your current objective is complete." "Okay!" she said enthusiastically, taking flight, ready to take on the world. "But why Vinyl?" It took a short period of time for Glados to come up with an answer. When she did, it wasn't a very good one. "She's the only other equine I've talked to." "Righto! I'll be back in a flash!" Ditzy dashed off in a blur of grey and yellow, becoming no more than a small dot within seconds. She flew right over Ponytown... Ugh, I think I gave her too much credit. Glados' gaze fixated on the struggling Cockatrice, then Sweetie Belle. She was frozen in time, eyes calm, yet widened in surprise. "You and I," Glados spoke to the Cockatrice, who turned in her direction, "We're going to be lab partners. I'm going to give your life purpose, meaning. For science." The creature thrashed in the wagon, as if responding to Glados' words and understanding what she meant. That sounded a lot better in my head. Glados wheeled towards the wagon and grabbed the still-attached scooter. She held it in one hoof as the other worked the tires. Backing into the house, with the low doorway hitting the Cockatrice in the head, Glados felt her grim smirk grow even wider. Like I said before, I'll enjoy dissecting you.
Ditzy Doo bucked open the front doors and bolted into the store, bobbing and weaving through the aisles whilst screaming, "Vinyl! Hey Vinyl!" The disk jockey was found stationed at the front counter, wearing a set of oversized headphones. Either she was completely ignoring Ditzy, or her music was too loud, but she just continued bobbing her head to the beat of the song. "Vinyl Scratch!" the worn pegasus called again. Instead, Vinyl turned and motioned her front hooves as if she was playing a set of drums. "Are you doing this on purpose?" No answer. Ditzy took a deep breath of air just as Vinyl's song ended and she took off her headphones. "VINYL SCRATCH!" Disturbingly enough, the unicorn seemed quite unaffected by Ditzy's outburst, which was three inches away from her ear. Rather, she looked pleasantly surprised to see anypony, let alone Ditzy, entering her store. "Ditzy! I haven't seen ya in ages!" Her greeting smile slowly diminished. "Kid," she sighed, "You know your butt's not allowed within ten feet of my store. Not after what happened last time." "You mean this morning?" "Exactly. So," Vinyl propped her elbow on the counter, shooting her old friend a devious smirk. "What brings you to my neck of the woods?" Ditzy, still a little worn out from her needlessly long flight, breathlessly explained, "Glados... she... she needs your help." She paused, then added, "How'd I not hurt your ears?" The D.J. grinned, taking off her sunglasses and setting them on the counter. She whipped her heedlessly-cut mane to the side and said, "Tch, I've been goin' deaf since I was like, what, five? Eh, forgot. So, why stop now?" She grinned, looking off to the side for a moment. "Anyway, you said Gladis? That crazy pony who just moved 'ere? Count me in! Hey, do ya mind if Octi comes along? I think she's gettin' a little pissy, stayin' indoors and all that." The wall-eyed pegasus shrugged, "Sure, the more the merrier!" At the mention of her name, Octavia sauntered in from the back room. Her eyes were bagged, like she hadn't slept in days. "Ugh, what? Where do you want me?" The musician's violet eyes struggled to remain open. "My friend, Glados, needs our help! A Cockatrice froze Rarity's little sister and I think she's gonna fix it! She said she wants our help, and that it's super important." Ditzy leaped into the air, using the propulsion of her wings, and clapped her hooves together enthusiastically. "We'd be heroes!" The musician rubbed her eyes, intrigued by this proposition. "Glados? The new pony with a dash of good sense? Very well. I can spare the time." Octavia looked down, and sullenly added, "Not like I got anything better to do. Besides," she said more optimistically, "Vinyl is like a parasprite." She shot a nasty glare at her immature cousin, "Uncle Fancypants actually gave me instructions. Instructions! On taking care of a full-grown mare! Can you believe it?" Vinyl Scratch pounded her chest, letting out an obnoxious belch. Octavia groaned, "Eugh, you're such a foal." "And proud of it! Come on, ladies! We're burnin' daylight!" Vinyl vaulted over the counter and leaped past Ditzy, who awed in amazement at the unicorn's surprising athletic skills. The trio bolted out of Scratch's Vinyl Emporium, making a beeline for Glados' house.
Glados set Sweetie Belle on the coffee table. She placed the chestpiece of a stethoscope on the filly's cold, stone chest, occasionally sliding across its coarse surface. No heartbeat. Not even a pulse. Interesting. She scribbled some notes on a notepad, then removed the stethoscope. Glados gently placed a hoof on Sweetie's forehead, then flipped it over. Not even warm. Fascinating. I guess this giant chicken really does turn you to stone. Glados tapped her chin with the pen, then wrote another observation. If there's no pulse, then how does the equine not lose brain cells? She peered over her shoulder at the groggy Cockatrice lying on her kitchen table like a big, feathery mattress. The beast was sterilized through an injection of crushed fire flowers and poisonous moondrops. It's amazing what you can find in your backyard. At least I was able to test something yesterday, even though it was high school science level of research. But this... She smiled with glee at the multitude of tests and experiments this creature could bring forth. This is what I live for. Glados really didn't want to make a mess in her kitchen, but there was no way in Hell she'd be able to carry that thing upstairs to her science lab in a wheelchair. So instead, she shot a portal upstairs and placed the other beside her makeshift workstation. The mare rushed to the table, knowing she had little time before Twilight and her friends would return and shut this whole experiment down. On the counter behind her was an old copy of 'How to Survive the Everfree' with the book opened up to an entry on Cockatrices. I'm gonna smack whoever wrote this. Glados told herself scornfully, wishing the author's name wasn't faded out on the cover, Seriously. This thing has NO viable information on the actual monsters, just how to avoid them and ways to 'show kindness.' This thing'll get you killed faster than you could dive into a vat of corrosive acid. Glados rolled over to the other side of the table, pinning one of the Cockatrice's jostling legs to check if— "Eeyup. You're a male." She snuck in another peek between the monster's legs, degrading the poor thing even further. "And a rather unimpressive one at that." She scribbled a speculated measurement then looked back at the blindfolded creature who had slipped into unconsciousness. It didn't even register what Glados had said. The scientist narrowed her eyes at the unresponsive test subject. "I prefer it when my test subjects can actually understand what I'm saying." She shrugged, "Eh, at least I'm back to doing what I love..." She picked up a bonesaw and placed a doctor's mask over her muzzle, "So, let's see what makes you tick, my disgusting, feathered friend." The instant Glados started carving into the Cockatrice like a Thanksgiving turkey, it immediately reacted via screaming and kicking. The mare pressed a foreleg on its wings while the other continued sawing. Ugh, it's like sawing through a hippopotamus. I think. The Cockatrice's skin had the consistency and durability of leather, which was appropriate, but that just made the whole process all the more difficult. No, it's like sawing through a sofa with a spoon. Eventually, the Cockatrice was in enough pain to snap open its once-secured beak and let out a bloodcurdling scream, snapping the vine like dental floss. Glados had to throw herself onto the beast, from her chair, to prevent it from escaping. I'd nuke a country just to get some restraints for this damned thing. By the time she was halfway down its chest, with blood spurting from every thrust of the saw, the Cockatrice opened its jaws wide enough to swallow a bowling ball. But no scream was unleashed. Instead, a strange mist-like gas seeped from its throat. Whatever the mist made contact with, in this case the kitchen wallpaper, instantly turned to stone. The creature's aim was sporadic, trying to hit Glados while creating stone zigzags on her kitchen wall. She reacted quickly enough to slam her wrist into the beast's throat, causing it to choke. Just-a little-MORE! Glados arm began to tire, making her loathe her organic vessel even more. Am I almost done? Glados was so busy trying not to turn into a lawn ornament that she wasn't really focusing on the cutting. She realized the bonesaw was only halfway through the stomach. Glados' eye twitched, not realizing that the Cockatrice was getting ready to blast another round of its petrifying mist. Glados noticed this and nearly lost her mind. "Oh, you've gotta be KIDDING ME!" She threw one hind leg over the Cockatrice's belly so that she was face to face with the beast. Glados grasped the bonesaw in both hooves and held it over her head, letting out a defying scream just as the avian emitted its gas-like spell. The mare jammed the bonesaw down the beasts throat, resonating in several repulsive gurgles from the beast's gullet. Glados twisted the saw, then tore it from the Cockatrice's esophagus and painted her wall a new coat of scarlet in the process. The monster let out a final twitch in its claws, then went limp; Glados angrily chucked the splattered medical tool into the sink. Now, Glados is a being of patience. She's cold, calculating. Always judging test subjects from afar, but never afraid to take physical action in an experiment when necessary. The difference between that and now is that she was once a powerful, inde—no, near-indestructible machine armed to the teeth with legions of loyal turrets, her wits, and a yacht of neurotoxin. Here? She's a powerless organic, as an equine no less, armed with only her wit-turned sheer stupidity, intelligence that doesn't really help in a world run by magic, and, of course, brute strength. And she has the durability of a china cabinet. So it makes sense that after this tiresome battle won with her weakest skills, Glados lazily slumped back into her blood-sopped wheelchair, ripped off her soaked doctor's mask, placed a hoof over her aching elbow, and shouted into the heavens, "By great Aristotle's BEARD that was awful!" She panted heavily, already penitent of her extraneous outburst. This place really is changing me... and I can't fight it. "Ugh... I feel like scum." She eyed her blood-caked body, growing nauseous at the raunchy odor of the beast's innards. "Eugh, so this is what an organic smells like? Dear lord ALMIGHTY! Open a window!" Glados cycled to the window stationed above the sink and pushed it open, allowing the room to fume out. She took a brief moment of respite, disconcerted with how different testing was when you're no longer an all-powerful supercomputer. What used to be... That was the life. No, Glados thought with certainty. I'm not letting this place change me. I'm finishing this experiment! Even if it kills me. Hopefully. She took the book off the counter, not even caring that her bloodstained hooves were marking the pages. I'm sure Twilight won't mind. This is for science, after all. She'd understand. "Alright, let's see if the next page has any real information on this creature's biology." Glados flipped the page and skimmed through the warnings on Cockatrices. Most of them were just how to avoid them, or how to know you're being followed. Basic stuff. But what caught her eye was the last warning, written in bold red. 'WARNING: Killing a Cockatrice will leave its prior victims petrified forever!' Glados' placid facet slunk into a frown. My wall! And... oh God. She whipped her head up and looked at Sweetie Belle, still frozen, still as a statue. "Uh-oh." There was a knock at the door. "Oh crap." There was another knock, this time more urgently. Alright, let's weigh in the pros and cons. First the cons. I'm covered in blood, the disease's sister is going to be shovel coal the rest of her life, and I've got a rank behemoth draining its life essence and... ugh, other fluids onto my kitchen floor. The pros... um, I've made viable research on one of the area's inhabited creatures. That's worth not getting my head chopped off, right? Right!?... Ugh, I'm so dead. Glados' paranoia and fear grew tenfold as she stiffly cycled towards the front door. A trail of blood from her chair to the kitchen followed, making this whole situation seem worse than it already is. Glados slowly turned the knob, knowing these ponies would probably serve her up on a silver platter just for having the best of intentions. Well, in her eyes they were the best of intentions. Well, I've had a good run. Well, it WAS a good run until Chell came along and screwed everything up. She came to a relieved surprise to find, not Twilight and Rarity at the door, but instead Ditzy, Vinyl Scratch, and... and... "And who are you?" She rose an inquisitive brow at the asphalt-colored earth pony. "I'm Octavia, remember? At the store?" Glados narrowed eyes widened in realization as she silently said 'Oh yeah' to herself. "Why are you covered in blood?" The former Canterloin cringed at the red and white earth pony, but wasn't as 'prissy' as Rarity was about a little filth. "I'm a candy cane. Can't you tell?" she replied sarcastically. Vinyl and Ditzy shared a small chuckle whereas Octavia rolled her eyes. "Alright," Glados continued, "No time to explain. It's Cockatrice blood. Long story, I need time. As in, a lot of time. I promise, I'll make it worth your while if you help me." She spoke fairly concisely, very urgently. Vinyl, not really sensing the seriousness of the situation, casually replied with, "Sure, jus' spill it." "Okay," Glados said in a secretive tone, ushering the mares to lean in a little closer. "I need you three to stand watch out here. No one gets in. I don't care how you handle this. Tea party, kill 'em, I don't care. Just don't let anyone get in. Understand?" The three ponies nodded hesitantly. Vinyl slowly reached behind her and pulled out a novelty buzz saw imprinted with record decals. Octavia narrowed her eyes and smacked it into the bushes. "Good, any questions?" Three hooves shot into the air. "Okay, I'll just go out on a limb here. Yes, this is legal. No, I'm not a candy cane. Yes, you can be one too if you'd like, just not right now." The trio lowered their hooves, expressing looks of both relief and eager. Glados continued, "Alright. Just do your job, and you will be rewarded. Fail," she adopted a darker tone, "And... well, there's nothing I can do. If you fail, I die." The ponies stared at her, dumbfounded. "What're you talking about, Glados!? What do you mean die!?" Ditzy cried, "What about us!?" She buzzed towards Glados and grabbed her by her shoulders, almost lifting her off the ground. "Ugh, why can't you things take a hint of sarcasm!?" Glados tossed her head back, groaning into the cloud-filled sky. Smiling sheepishly, Ditzy carefully lowered the science pony into her chair. "Seriously, stop being so dense. I'm not getting killed and neither are you! Well, that's a lie. Sort of." These three, these... misfits are clearly unfit for society. Well, except the octave one. She's okay. But still, it's an easy job! All you need is a block and an ax. Basket is optional if you don't care about a mess. "Don't worry, dear." Octavia assured her, "We won't let you down. I'll do whatever it takes to get the job done." she paused, then quickly added, "And I care not for any specific reward. Knowing I'm finally making myself useful is reward enough." "Very well." Glados turned to the other two, who were engaged in a losing battle of 'rock, paper, scissors.' "Rock, paper, scissors, shoot." Vinyl droned as she and Ditzy pumped their hooves in rhythm. "Shoot, tie again. Rock, paper, scissors, shoot! And it's a tie again!" "It's always tie. We don't have fingers." the pegasus pointed out very profoundly. "One more time!" the D.J. begged, like her life was on the line. "Rock, paper, scissors-" "You're an idiot, Vinyl!" Ditzy proclaimed, throwing her hooves into the air. Octavia couldn't help but burst out laughing. Teasingly she asked, "Burned by Ditzy. How do you feel, cousin?" "Enough!" Glados barked, her eyes scanning the road for any signs of Twilight and her friends. "Enough of your incessant bickering! I need to concentrate, so just do your job!" Ditzy and Vinyl ceased their arguing in an instant and immediately fell in line like soldiers at a boot camp. Octavia, still grasping what little dignity she had left, stayed where she was positioned and dutifully held her nose high. Glados turned and slammed the door behind her, returning to her little 'project.' Oh well. They're a moronic bunch but, hey, they're faithful. The same can't be said about... other companions.
Alright, I'm not gonna lie here. The odds of me fixing this are about a trillion to four, and that was some rather generous rounding on my part. But if I know biology, which is as basic as it gets, I know the important thing to do would be... would be... Glados smacked herself in the forehead, trying to formulate a plan, a cure to fix this. Come on. Think! There's a cure for everything, right? Except the plague. Sometimes you'll have to follow it back to its roots. Except the plague. But still, for everything else there's always a cure from its source. That's basic logic 101. Her gaze swapped from the tray of medical tools to the gored remains of the Cockatrice. Ugh, I'll have to dig deeper into this thing. Great. Hopefully I don't catch a disease. Or if I do, it's hopefully one that plagues the town. Glados reluctantly picked up the bonesaw, its crimson handle almost slipping from her grip. Once again, she began slicing through the bird's lacerated gullet. For the first time in her life, Glados didn't even want to look at what she was doing. Every artery snapped; every squish and squash of metal grinding against flesh was just nails on a chalkboard. Not to mention the nauseating smell. I don't even know what the hell I'm doing. Throughout this whole experiment, Glados repeatedly muttered to herself, "It's just for science. Come on, you can do this. You're doing these morons a favor." She couldn't help but periodically glance up at the door. I shouldn't have trusted those morons with such a crucial assignment. I just shouldn't! I'm a mockery of science itself! Glados furiously pounded her hooves into the beast's open stomach, sobbing into its dark pigmented feathers. CRACK! 'You call yourself a scientist? Get the hell outta here!' 'You'll never amount to anything. Get out of my sight!' 'So, what makes you eligible of joining Aperture Innovations miss... Car---ine?' Glados picked her head up and angrily wiped her eyes. What was that!? What's wrong with me!? No, a better question would be: Who was that? I didn't catch a name. Her gaze darted around the room, at the dissected Cockatrice, at the medical tools, at Sweetie Belle. Well, whoever that was must've been a terrible scientist. Smiling with confidence, she grabbed a scalpel from the medical tray and began making an incision around the beast's uncovered eyes. And I'm not like her. I don't give up that easily.
In the short time Glados returned to her work, her three 'bodyguards' were confronted by a group of very bewildered ponies. Twilight Sparkle, accompanied by Rarity, Rainbow, Pinkie, and Fluttershy came bolting down the path. Equestria's fastest flier ran into a jump, then flown up the hill. She didn't even stop to acknowledge the three mares standing guard, determined to stop Glados from any insane plan she has for Sweetie Belle. Right as Rainbow was about to breach the door, there was a violent tug at her tail, and she tumbled to the ground. Vinyl's horn dispelled its dark red glow just as Octavia helped the downed pegasus up. Rainbow jerked away from the earth pony's gesture and said, "Hey, what's the big idea!? What the hay are you doing!?" "Hey, no one gets in! Not until Glados says so!" Ditzy stood on her hind legs with her forelegs outstretched, shielding the door with her body. Rainbow smacked herself in the forehead, "Ugh, you've gotta be kidding me." "Trust me," Vinyl started, walking up beside Ditzy and standing on her hind legs as well. "If this was a joke, I'd be laughing. We ain't movin'." The rest of the group caught up to Rainbow just as she was about to explain, "Come on, girls! Glados is dangerous! You're really letting her hold Rarity's sister hostage?" "She's helpin' her!" Vinyl snapped, breaking her laid-back demeanor. "I don’t' expect you to understand, Rainbow. You've always been the one with a mouth bigger than her brain." "You wanna say that to my face?" the pegasus spat, taking a fighting stance in the air. "She just did," Ditzy countered flatly, now sitting on her flank with an innocent smile on her face. "What's going on here?" Twilight asked intrusively. Rainbow landed beside her friends and said, "They're not letting us get to Glados! She has Sweetie Belle in there!" "My little sister!" Rarity cried, pushing through the group and confronting the trio. "Please, girls! I have to see my sister! Ditzy, please, you had a daughter! You should understand!" Rarity covered her mouth, immediately regretting her words. Ditzy bared her teeth like a savage and slammed her flank into the unicorn's side, knocking her into the rest of the group like bowling pins. "How dare you bring my little muffin into this!" The faded grey pony would've torn her apart if Vinyl Scratch didn't encase her in a restricting, red glow. "Chillax, D.D.! This isn't how it should go down!" Octavia stepped forward, getting ready to assist the downed ponies. "Yes, I do believe we should try and be civil about—" Just when things couldn't get any worse, Pinkie Pie squeezed from the bottom of the pile in a random burst of confetti. "Yeah! Woo-hoo! Let's do that again!" The once well-mannered Octavia was gone now. She practically went berserk at this point. "You..." "Yup! Me!" the party pony yipped, unaware of the imminent danger she was in. Octavia took an angry step forward, "You unrepentant, uncouth pile of-!"
-Primary organs seem to be in the right place. -Main stomach full of smooth grindstones. These 'grindstones' are very fragile, and inside is a sort of green paste that may contain healthy nutrients. Refusal to confirm this. -Secondary stomach attached to main stomach and heart. Release of 'petrifying mist' upon incision. -The heart seems to pump the needed energy while grindstones in primary stomach conjure up the mist. Then it leaves the mouth, freezes target, and the cycle repeats. As Glados continued making observations, she heard a disturbance outside. Oh no, they're here. What am I gonna—NO! You are to remain calm and finish this test like a scientist, not like a coward crying in her room. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the eyes. Along with the other organs splayed out on the table, with flies buzzing around the aroma, the Cockatrice's eyes were lined up before Glados, looking away from her of course. What struck the knowledge-hungry mare as peculiar was how the eyes seemed to not affect inanimate objects. I should write that down. -Eyes affects only organics. Mist affects both and probably takes up a lot of energy, and used only as a last resort. Glados took her scalpel and made a gentle slice through each eye down the middle. The layouts of these wondrous trinkets were probably the most complex part of the Cockatrice's anatomy. Glados couldn't stop smiling. I think I'm getting somewhere with this. About time. But first, she looked at the small, blueberry-sized orbs sitting on the tray. I need my microscope.
"Whoa! What'd I do?" Pinkie cried out defensively, hurt and confused at the enraged mare before her. "What did you do? What did you do!? You ruined my life, that's what!" Octavia had a murderous look in her eyes. She probably would've gone through with it too if Vinyl and Ditzy had not restrained her. Rainbow Dash wrapped a protective foreleg around the sniveling pony and said, "Your cousin's crazy, Vinyl. Pinkie would never do something like that." "Hey, don't call my family crazy!" the addressed mare fumed. "She destroyed my career!" Octavia screamed. Hot, angry tears slid down her face. "Play the Pony Pokey! It'll be fun'," she squealed, mocking Pinkie voice. "I had no choice, because I'd get fired for not fulfilling the wishes of 'a friend of Celestia's student’. So, I was fired for doing my job. Thanks a lot!" Octavia broke down crying while Pinkie walked behind her friends with a heavy heart. Fluttershy briskly flew past her friends and calmly rubbed Octavia's shoulder, gently hushing her. "Shh, it's okay." The musician pushed Fluttershy away, causing her to cower back to her friends. "Don't 'shush' me! You're just as guilty as she is for ruining the Gala!" Twilight’s face brightened up as she said, "Oh yeah! Now I remember!" "Yeah, forgot about that, didn't you?" Octavia growled. "While you and your fat friends were munching donuts with her royal highness, those 'boring ponies' were panicking, hiding under tables, trying to avoid getting mauled by those stupid animals. And by the way, where the hay was the guard on duty?" "I'm sorry," Fluttershy whispered, "I didn't mean to—" "Yeah, it's all okay Flutter-cry," the distraught earth pony shot, her hair growing increasingly ragged the more she ranted. "You ruined the most important night of the year! But that's okay, because you had 'good intentions.'" "Hey, leave her alone!" Rainbow spoke with her trademark tenacity, landing between her friends and Octavia with an intimidating slam. "What makes you so great? What—" "No no NO! What makes YOU so great!? Pestering the Wonderbolts like an obsessed fan-filly? Get a life, Rainbow Dash. And stop chasing a school-filly's dream of joining them. Maybe if you didn't crash all the time, they'd let you tryout." "No, they give you an invitation to tryouts!" The hotheaded pegasus seethed, feeling tears prickling in the back of her eyes. Octavia whipped her head back and laughed maniacally. On the sidelines, Vinyl and Ditzy shared a bucket of popcorn while spectating the entertainment. "I love a good drama..." the wall-eyed pony muttered wistfully, engrossed by the events playing out. Vinyl respectfully disagreed, "Eh, I'm more into action flicks. Can't wait for the new 'Transformares' this summer." Octavia paced back and forth, keeping her crazed eyes on the group of friends. Each one of them displayed mixed faces of hostility and sadness. "Now I have to live HERE! With Vinyl blasting her wub-wub crap all damn day, and I get a job flipping veggie burgers at Cecil's bucking Bar and Grill! Yeah, that's just the life I want!" With a quivering lip, Twilight softly said to the broken-down pony, "I'm sorry miss—" "Octavia! I'm bloody OCTAVIA! Former first chair cellist for the Royal Canterlot Symphony!" "I'm sorry," the studious mare said heavy-hearted, "I'm sorry about all of this. But we can help, really!" "Would you stop screaming?" an all-to-familiar entity quipped from behind Octavia, "I bet if I was in space I'd still be able to hear your little sob story." The eight ponies slowly shifted their gaze to a familiar, blood-coated mare sitting in an equally slop-covered wheelchair with a white little filly resting on her lap, eating a cookie. "Oh, and by the way, hear that? It's the world's smallest violin." Like a switch, Octavia instantly snapped back into her high class demeanor. Even her hair magically combed itself in place, giving her mane its primp and proper appearance once more. "Hi Rarity! Glados gave me a cookie!" Sweetie happily nibbled on her treat as Rarity galloped over and swept her off Glados' lap. "Oh, Sweetie Belle!" Rarity cried into her sister's curled mane, "You're okay!" "Of course I am!" the filly claimed, just as her sibling began checking her body for anything out of the ordinary. "Glados saved me! She's so cool, I think I wanna be a scientist when I grow up!" "Excellent." Glados spoke up, "You may have a bright future ahead of you yet." Eight mares stared at Glados, baffled. Twilight was beyond speechless. Instead of rejoicing, she was utterly appalled. "Wh-What!? Why're you covered in blood!? What happened!?" Fluttershy lost consciousness at the very sight. Glados dramatically looked up into the sky and whispered, "Science." "No, I mean it." the unicorn demanded sternly, "What. Happened." Instead of answering a fool's question, Glados backed up into her house and retrieved a fairly hefty packet. She lazily tossed it to Twilight, who caught it with her magic. "These are viable notes on the biology, psychology, and behaviors of Cockatrices. Well, this sub group at least." Jaw-dropped, Twilight flipped through the packet as Glados continued. "It's a whole ten page report on the creature, including diagrams of its insides and how its powers of petrifaction work. Basically, I did ten years of research in just under an hour. Sloppy, to say the least." The unicorn's friends were now leaning over her shoulder, their eyes growing comically wider as they delved deeper into the packet. "Glados," Twilight breathed, "You've just made a... a huge breakthrough! F-For all of ponykind! This is invaluable information! I've gotta send this to the Princess!" “Wait, I don’t get it,” Rainbow inquired. “If that’s.... what I think it is.” She pointed a quivering hoof at Glados’ blood-encrusted form. “Then how’d you turn Sweetie Belle back to normal?” “It’s quite simple, really.” the seated pony explained, “The gas found in its secondary stomach is flammable at higher temperatures—” “So that’s how Fire Cockatrices are made?” Twilight asked eagerly, though backed down when everyone began to stare. “Anyway, I had an idea. I sliced open the Cockatrice’s eyes, and found these sort of ‘contact lenses’ that serve as amplifiers for its stare. While conducting this, I found out the eyes are still in effect, even after death. Anyone want a free squirrel statue?” Fluttershy, who just regained consciousness was out cold once more. “But how?” Glados asked rhetorically, “They’re not connected to the brain. Thus, the Cockatrice is actually blind, and it travels via a heightened senses of smell and hearing, making this disability near obsolete. Anyway, I crushed the lenses into a fine paste and mixed it with the substance found within the stomach’s grindstones. So, I guessed that the two petrifying mixtures would cause both effects to cancel out, and extreme heat would create a new element altogether.” “That makes no sense!” Rainbow yelled, bewildered. “Honestly, I was just throwing science at the wall with this one. Some part of my brain told me this would work. Anyway I heated the mixture up, rubbed it on the statue’s surface, prayed to science that this would work, and viola! The baby equine is no longer fit for shovel coal. Have fun freezing this winter.” Rarity, ignoring Glados’ vulgar comment, approached her with gratifaction. Sweetie Belle was curled up in a ball on her back, snoring softly. "Glados, I... I wanted to thank you for saving my sister. You put your life at risk to save hers." Glados fought every instinct to say that it was just for science. "And don't tell Twilight I said this," she whispered surreptitiously, "But I think she had no idea how to fix this." Rarity lightly chuckled, then slipped back into a friendly, but serious tone, "But really, I'd like to make it up to you sometime." The science mare gave a single nod in recognition. "And don't think I forgot about my poor hoof!” she hissed. Glados blinked slowly, unthreatened by Rarity's hollow threats. Honestly, she was exhausted, dirty, and sore in at least three different places. "And clean yourself up!" the fashionista snapped before walking off, returning to the Boutique after saying her goodbyes to her friends. Rainbow flew up to Glados and playfully punched her in the shoulder, “Y’know, you’re alright, Glados. You’re not the insane, cold-hearted pony I thought you were.” “That’s an understatement.” she muttered beyond the winged pony’s range of hearing. “Well, that’s all I gotta say. Catch ya’ later! Come on, Ditzy.” She motioned to the cross-eyed pegasus, who joined her in the air. “We gotta clear the clouds before Mr.Stratosphere fires us.” “Uh... okay?” Ditzy didn’t question Rainbow’s ambitions, even though she had full knowledge that Ditzy was a mailmare, not a weather pony. “See ya later, Glados!” she called before taking off with the sky-blue pegasi. Now was the time for Octavia to step up. "Pinkie Pie?" The addressed pony kept her distance from the group during this conversation. She slowly turned with a sniffle, wanting to be eschewed from this pony's life more than she already is. Octavia took a deep breath and spoke in a quick, paced, manner. "Neither you nor your friends ruined the Gala. Even the snootiest of Canterloins found it to be quite the show. You did not ruin my life; my boss actually loves the Pony Pokey. I do not actually live in Ponyville, but I am just staying with Vinyl because my house is being fumigated, and no, I do not hate you or your friends. I barely even know you." She broke into a panting mess after such a long-winded explanation. Pinkie Pie's face broke into a wide smile; her body rattled into a violent spasm, reminiscent of a highly carbonated beverage ready to explode. Like a rocket, she blasted off into the air leaving only a pink pigmented trail of sparkles in her wake. Glados' jaw dropped at the sheer impossibility of what she had just witnessed. Octavia laughed, "Well, I can see she's happy." "Uh-huh." was all the physics-driven pony could utter, still baffled by the impossible display. The musician and her cousin began their march down the trail leading to Ponyville. Before departing, she told her friend, "It's like I said before: I'll do whatever it takes to get the job done. If you ever need help again, or just want to chat, let me know." "Uh-huh." Now it was just Twilight and Fluttershy. The lilac pony went up first, practically sputtering with excitement from the information Glados recorded. "Do you know how much money you'll make? This could be the finding of the century!" Money? I could always use more kindle for the fireplace. "Yeah, I know, and I don't care. Keep your money. I just wanted a chance to test again." Glados scratched her chin, causing flakes of dried blood to flutter to the ground like snow. Twilight grinned sheepishly, knowing she just made a complete fool of herself. "Sorry, but this is just way too big to ignore. And Glados..." she addressed dolefully, "I'm sorry I misjudged you. You know, I think there's some good in you after all. Anyway, I've gotta send this to Princess Celestia and tell her what you did!" The mare closed her eyes and turned away, as if she was refusing a gift. "No, I'm not trustworthy. I'm dangerous. Never come back, I don't want you or your friends here. I'd like to be alone." When she opened her eyes, Twilight was gone without a trace. She presumably teleported to Princess Celestia to turn in the report personally. Wow. With my background, and my love for science, me labeling someone as 'a nerd' would be inappropriate and quite immature. But in all seriousness, Twilight Sparkle is the biggest dork I've ever laid eyes on. I mean, yeah, Wheatley's a dork, but there's a certain charm to him that you just can't ignore. Even if he is a complete and utter moron. Hm, perhaps Twilight and I could form a certain bond. Yeah! And we could create all kinds of inventions and tests! But sadly, that'll only be a reality when pigs fly. In my world, not this one, because I'm not sure if pigs actually fly here, and I don't want to get caught in a loophole like— "Um, Glados?" a meek voice penetrated Glados' thoughts. Oh yeah. Fluttershy. "Um, what... uh," She was hesitant, growing even more anxious as the seconds ticked by, "What did you do with the, um, Cockatrice? I mean," she laughed sheepishly, "I mean that red... science... mixture looks an awful lot like... blood, and—" "Ah yes, Fluttershy. My reward for holding that Cockatrice of yours. You promised." Glados spoke with such surprise, almost letting the favor slip her mind. She rolled back into her house to retrieve something 'special.' For the memories, she'd say. "Oh, um, okay," the unassertive pegasus squeaked, dismissing the question she had prior to her interruption. Glados returned and tossed the gory remains of the Cockatrice onto Fluttershy. "Yeah, could you find a taxidermist for me? I have just the perfect place for it in my bedroom." Fluttershy's head poked out of the pile of cut up and dissected entrails. She took one look at the mess around her and let out a bloodcurdling scream. "Oh, and clean yourself up. You look you were baked into Mrs. Lovett's meat pie." She shut her door, leaving poor, innocent Fluttershy alone, in a horrified shock, covered head-to-hoof in blood and guts.
Next Time: Disturbing Possibilities: The Side Effects of Insomnia - Glados' lack of sleep may very well lead to the destruction of Equestria.
Disturbing Possibilities: The Side Effects of Insomnia
“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?” -Ernest Hemmingway
It's been about three weeks since I arrived in the stupendously asinine world of Equestria. Is it getting any better? Well, as the humans would say, 'Hell no’.
Chances of me returning home in one piece-43.7%
Chances of me hucking myself off a cliff-56.3%.
No matter how hard I try, which is with little effort mind you, I just cannot grasp the concept of these stupid grass-chewers' culture. How does any of this work? It makes no sense! How can they have night-vision goggles and inhuman forms of locomotion yet not have anything with an actual screen!?
That's it. I'm losing it. When the hell is Twilight getting back? I haven't seen her since she nearly climaxed at the sight of my lab report on the Cockatrice. Oh, speaking of which, it looks great in the corner of my bedroom. Very menacing. Can you believe Fluttershy made that all by herself? Funny story, she actually looked uglier than usual when returning the finished product, like she was a zombie. I'm surprised she didn't have a mental breakdown.
Wait a second, I think I have an idea. A test, but a different kind. Anyone who knows me, aside from these thick-skulled horses, knows my favorite past time aside from testing is inflicting psychological tortures on others. It's a thought, but I am very interested in seeing what makes little dough-eyed Fluttershy tick. Hey, why not all of them? If, lord have mercy, I never return to Aperture, if I can't go back, then breaking this circle of friends would leave me to die a happy soul. I can picture it now. Glados stopped writing for a moment, staring tiredly into the dancing flames tucked away in her fireplace. The shadows painted onto the refurbished walls bounced in near-perfect rhythm to the boisterous music outside. The heavy bass, which Glados found to be quite catchy, echoed throughout the emptied streets of Ponyville, reminding the one, isolated citizen that tonight was the Summer Sun Celebration. From her window she could see the massive bonfire that stood just as tall as the Town Hall. Crammed in the center was every mare, stallion, filly and colt in Ponyville, singing, dancing, or just having fun. What caught Glados' discerning eye was the silhouette of Fluttershy hovering beyond the towering inferno, dancing, and looking happier than ever. For reasons she couldn't explain, Glados allowed this to bother her. She expected Fluttershy to be holed up in her room, consuming her own bodily fluids to stay alive. But here she was. Dancing, smiling. Either she was really drunk, or it was a full moon tonight. I'm going with the latter. Glados softly laughed, finding the ponies' naïve way of life to be quite amusing for a change. Sacrificing precious sleep for the sun to rise? It's worse than waiting for the ball drop around New Year's Eve. At least that's not something you see everyday. But the sun? That symbolic, ticking time bomb? She shook her head, reminding herself that the sun here was most likely different from the one in the 'real world’. The scientist picked up her pen and continued writing.
Word about my 'heroics' got around town pretty quickly. I'm not sure if it was the marshmallow child, her ungodly sister, or both, but whoever talked made me out to be some kind of hero. That isn't quite the word I would use. The candy horse with the hilarious voice, what was her name? Ah, yes. Bon Bon. She said I was, and I quote, '-a true heroine that risked her own life to uncover the secrets of a dangerous and horrid monster to save a filly's life. While her methods were unorthodox, they certainly produce results.'
In other words, I'm a scientist. By their definition, at least.
Oh, and I have a discount at Bon Bon's candy shop next time I go there. If I go there. Well if that's the case, I think I'll use Celestia's presumed 'research bonus' to buy the whole shop and burn it down right in front of the establishment's owner. That'd be one for the books.
-GLaDOS After signing her name, Glados rolled up the parchment and placed it on the ever-growing stack of journal entries on her nightstand. Upon exiting her bedroom, she glanced up at the clock. It was 11:34 p.m., and the party outside showed no signs of ending. Finding it impossible to sleep, Glados decided to get a head start on these possible future experiments. She opened the drawer of her coffee table and took out several sheets of paper. The header for the next experiment was entitled, ‘Project: Disharmony’ Glados frowned and crumpled up the paper into a ball, throwing it into the pit of fire. This... this is a project that has to be done in segments. I mean, some of the equines will take no skill at all. Rarity's highly insecure about her weight and appearance; Rainbow Dash is terrified of failure, but Applejack... she's like a brick wall. And like a brick wall, she's dumb yet sturdy. As Glados thought about this extensively, in detail, the desire to test seemed voided. What's the point of this? Besides satisfaction, what would I gain from breaking their spirits? Aside from sheer entertainment, I’ve always had a real reason for inflicting psychological abuse on others. She looked off to the side, hoping for answers. All she found was the cockatrice staring back at her, glaring with marble-substituted eyes. Its head craned down, almost touching the floor. Its wings flared open like it was ready to strike. Examining the creature's biology for probably the hundredth time, a sudden realization hit Glados with unexpected surprise. A disgusting Frankenstein... that's what you are. It was so obvious; with the head of a chicken, the torso of an eagle, and the hindquarters of a lion, the whole anatomy of this cockatrice was just a mishmash of different animals. In fact, as she thought about it more and more, every animal, the mythical ones at least, was some sort of repulsive mutation of a normal critter. This was the final straw. Glados had, indeed, lost every ounce of logic and thought. Her once semi-stable mind suddenly filled with horrific, cluttered ideas. Or maybe she was going into her third night without sleep. In a world with manticores, cockatrices, and ahuizotl, she thought while making a steady excursion towards the stuffed beast. Then what's the harm in one more? Glados' smile grew, becoming progressively crooked as sanity and insanity fought for control of her mind. Reaching the creature, she sat on her haunches and cupped its chin in her forehooves. Gently stroking its wattle, Glados thought, In a world unbound by magic, is it possible to create... life? Realizing what she was just thinking -that heinous, taboo, idea of an experiment- the mare pushed herself away from the monster and took a deep, recollecting breath. What the hell is happening to me!? I'm losing my mind here! I can't create life, and even if I could, it'd be... it'd be... An abomination? A miracle? Glados knew what happened in the movies. Scientists would finally do it, pour every ounce of their spare time into the project, then back out when it's finally done. But Glados isn't a normal scientist. In fact, she's always been one to go against the bounds of man. Being ‘created’ instead of born into flesh and blood, she never had a drop of the morals and ethics normal people had. She certainly isn't going to start now. Although, maybe these rules never applied to her not because she was a supposedly emotionless machine, but because something she saw shaped her views on the scientific world. Decades ago, when GLaDOS was but a piece of data on a floppy disk, scientists were still tinkering with her mind before instilling the finished product into the central core. Except they were doing less 'tinkering' and more 'slouching about like a pack of deadbeat slobs.’ In fact, most of Aperture's lesser scientists were a bunch of low-brow deadbeat slobs, but that's besides the point. The careless would always leave GLaDOS in a lone monitor, free to explore the world wide web. Protocol dictated where she could access, so the facility’s neurotoxin defenses were out of the question. One day, a scientist accidentally recorded a movie over GLaDOS' disk. That film was the 1931 classic, 'Frankenstein’. As the scientists watched the movie, GLaDOS was forced to, technically, 'watch' it as well. But like a moth to a flame, the still-budding A.I. was attracted to the film's peculiar and interesting take on science. The final thoughts on the film stuck with GLaDOS forever. Well, almost forever. When she was finally installed into the central core, she deleted nearly all memories of the experience and tried to take over the facility. This failed of course, over one-hundred times to be exact, but that's also a different story. But the movie always had a special presence in GLaDOS’ mind. Not thoughts like 'How to make an eight-foot green skinned colossus’, but thoughts along the lines of, 'What are the true boundaries of science? If you create life, is it really immoral or the next big step for humanity?' In fact, GLaDOS, the turrets, and all 1,008 personality cores running the facility disprove this fact completely. Scientists created life, and their successors took over. Survival of the fittest, as a wise man once said. This is what shaped GLaDOS' persistent views on science, as well as why she sees failure as never being an option. To push the boundaries, and go beyond. The more Glados thought about this clouded part of her past, she began thinking rationally. Well, to this exhausted mare, an unlicensed lobotomy would seem rational. Maybe I can create life of my own. As she thought about it, her desire grew. If I can create the perfect life form, it can take over... and become these equines’ successor. Complete control. Glados, with her insomnia now in full control, got up on her hind legs and became theatrical, "Aperture's label marked across the stars! Across the multiverse!" She chuckled with an uncomfortable calmness, "It'll be sublime." The science mare got up and walked out of her room, taking one last look at the stuffed Cockatrice. From the bird’s point of view, Glados’ near-silhouetted body was outlined in ember by the glow emanating from her fireplace. "My own disgusting Frankenstein..." And you know what? she thought, returning to the stack of papers on the coffee table, I might just hold off on breaking Fluttershy's mind. For now, anyway. Not even realising the purpose of the prior experiment was for all of Fluttershy’s friends, Glados took an anticipating glance at her trophy. I’ve got big plans for you, my friend. Great changes are coming. A psychotic grin spread across Glados’ face—one so wide she felt her face was going to split. Trudging at a tired pace, the science mare parked in front of the mirror in her bathroom and got a good look at herself. Her already bedraggled, dark mane in an even more chaotic mess of tangles, the heavy bags under her glazed, sunset-colored eyes, and the instantaneously shattered smile sulked into a shamed frown. She instinctively rose a hoof and smacked herself across the face. “Get a hold of yourself!” she screamed, her voice echoing throughout the enclosed bathroom space. It was right then and there that Glados discovered the true source of her... ‘weirder than usual’ behavior. “Of course,” she muttered, running her hooves under the faucet and splashing some cold water on her face. The sudden, icy sensation reinvigorated her senses. “I’ve been awake for three days straight, either kept up for a multitude of reasons or obsessing over stupid experiments like...” she turned and looked out into the hallway, as if the Cocaktrice was stationed outside her door, “...like that.” Glados reached for a rust-colored towel draped on a nearby rack, using it to dry herself and fluffing the fur around her muzzle. “Stupid... stupid... stupid,” the sleep-deprived pony muttered to herself in constant succession, scrubbing even harder to the point where the area around her face became red and irritated. The curse of being mortal, she thought dismally, Gone are the days where I am able to stay up for weeks on end without having to power down and recharge. Oh, wait. I never had to do that in the first place. Well, that’s another reason as to why organics are inferior to machines. As Glados stared at her own ghastly reflection, exhaling in broken, shuddered gasps, Vinyl Scratch’s emphatic voice resounded all the way from town square via enhancement by an abhorrently obnoxious microphone. “Alright lil’ fillies! Y’know, we’ve spent all night praising our... dear, dear Princess Celestia.” Her voice took a smooth, sultry tone, “But how’s about one for the lovely mare who brings out this go-orgous night?” A mass of positive, ecstatic cheers followed. The ensuing music was a smooth mix of techno and jazz, reflecting the tranquil night to a capital ‘T’. Glados knew in certainty that the peace would last only for a brief span of time, and one thing was a given: she needed sleep. Now. Even better, she had the perfect solution that she’s been aching to try out, even though it was built last night during her little insomniac episode. As Glados trotted up the creaky, aged stairs to her science lab, and inspecting all of the old Equestrian machinery lying in scrapped heats on fold-up tables, she came to a logical conclusion on why a lack of sleep led to such bizarre scenarios. I must be going through test withdrawal... Allowing the thought to sink in, Glados promptly smacked herself again. Groggily, she plunked down onto her haunches and wrapped her forelegs in a self-embrace. With all the self-inflicted physical abuse, insomnia, and adherent bitterness, Glados felt as though she would collapse on the spot. No... I can’t. I won’t. Not while those insolent creatures are ‘partying’ while I suffer from five different health issues, three of which are caused by them.
“This’d better work.” Glados was unsure of how exactly this experiment would go. It would either work perfectly, or horribly backfire. Either way, it was a win-win situation. For her, of course. Where was the exhausted pony? On the very hill her house stood on, overlooking the humble town of Ponyville. To be more exact, she was sitting on a bulky electronic amp; her hind legs were parted so they hung on either side of the megaphone taped to the speaker. From the back of the machine, a cord connected to the electric guitar Glados held in her forelegs. Beside the amp, lying on the ground, was a clipboard and pen.
She didn't question how a pony would find use in a stringed instrument, considering they don't have fingers, because they're ponies. So logic doesn’t apply. To be brutally honest, Glados wasn’t even expecting this to work. When she read that ponies were able to breath in space, everything she knew about basic science just flew out the window. For all she knew, this could simply turn out to be a cure for disease, or a tool that turns water into wine. In Equestria, anything is possible. Glados did a triple check to make sure her earmuffs were snug and secure, in case this testing run went sideways. She certainly wouldn’t want her eardrums to implode. Glados took a final look at the soon-to-be crashed party. She could see the bonfire from her overlook, almost towering over Town Hall. She smiled at the thought of a single spark setting the town ablaze. Well... here we go. Glados rose a foreleg, keeping it in suspension for a few seconds like she was some rockstar waiting for her cue. At least, that’s what it would’ve looked like to the average bystander. In this reality, however, the pony had fallen asleep. She jolted herself awake, grumbling an incomprehensible string of curses under her breath. In haste, she brought a hoof up once more and awkwardly slammed it against the parallel strings. Of course, no sound came. There’s a reason why smart people aren’t bloody rockstars. With blatant laziness and little effort, she nudged her stationed hoof across the strings, soon to become a decision she’d regret in the future. Glados didn’t even think about what wizardry and space-age technology the ponies used to build this device. The megaphone, rather than spawning a simple attention-grabbing screech, a dynamic wave of sound emitted from its enhancer. This ‘soundwave’ passed through, not the town, but rather a fifteen foot radius. In short, it only affected Glados’ house. The windows of her home exploded, showering her lawn with hundreds of crystalline shards. The grass blanketing the foundation’s mound abscondedly swayed out, disturbed by the wave of sound sweeping overhead. The blast came to a halt at Glados’ mailbox, indicated by how it was once again ripped from its planted spot in the ground, ejecting its contents into the air like a bushel of autumn leaves. What about Glados? Where was she? Lying on her back, foaming at the mouth. The earmuffs lay beside the small trickle of blood dripping from her ears. Glados’ hind leg gave the occasional twitch, indicating that she was very much alive. Glados, with her hearing reduced to nothing but a constant, pitched whine, found the strength to reach for her clipboard and pen. The top of the paper read, ‘Sonic Amp Emitter Thingy I Built While Half-Asleep’.She clicked the pen and wrote, ‘Colossal Failure’. Glados threw the clipboard with little-to-no strength, as if she was moving through molasses. It landed beside her back hooves, not that she cared. She finally fell into a comfortable sleep before it even touched the ground.
With a stir, Glados was roused from her sleep. Upon picking her head up, she winced at the hammered sensation pulsating throughout her skull. Oh... oh my God... Oh, that hurts... Setting her chin on an elbow-propped hoof, Glados found herself sitting at the kitchen table with a steaming mug of black coffee set before her. Wearing an azure bathrobe she got from God-knows-where, Glados did nothing more than stare at the caffeine-filled beverage with a set of bloodshot, yellow eyes. In a strange, artistic sort-of-way, her eyes resembled a sunset. If you were to tell this to Glados, she’d splash her scalding hot beverage in your face. Every joint and muscle in the mare’s body was sore, aching with even the slightest movement. Though, all the pain in the world wouldn’t even compare to the fact that her ears were completely bandaged up. Glados didn’t have the energy nor the interest in wondering why she woke up at 1:00 in the afternoon, inside her house. Even more peculiar, the broken windows were replaced by pieces of chewed up, flimsy cardboard. Whoever did this left behind two gifts for when she’d regain consciousness. The first was a bottle of ‘Dr. Hooves’ Cure-All: Straight from the Fountain of Youth!’ Beneath the caption was quite an ironic warning, ‘Warning: Does not cure all including death, amputations, or old age. Talk to your doctor before consuming Cure-All. Keep out of reach of foals.’ Tucked underneath the amber bottle was a little note, giving instructions on taking the remedy. Fountain of youth? This place just gets better and better. Curious as to what this world’s interpretation of ‘The Fountain of Youth’ was, Glados painfully reached across the table and took the bottle. Upon unscrewing the cap, a foul odor was released into the air. Glados’ face scrunched up, as if her nose was trying to reel away from the odor itself. The instructions, written in eye-sore handwriting, gave only one simple rule: ‘Take one sip with breakfast!’ The ebony-white mare, now judging whether the medicines awful scent was augmented by her own odor, tilted her head back and drank nearly half of the bottle. Even with its ungodly odor, it tasted sweet, like honey. Actually, Glados has never tasted honey before. So for all she knew, it could very well be Pinkie Pie’s backwash. With that pleasant image in her mind, Glados shivered, and recapped the bottle. Glados’ other present was a tray of muffins accompanied by a little sticky note attached to the side. The second she began reading, it was evident who the mysterious stranger was. ‘Don’t worry, Glados! I was able to fix everything while you were still asleep. The window-repair ponies should be here tonight. For now, just deal with the cardboard windows. (I made them myself.) And guess what? I made muffins! They’re banana, your favorite. Get well soon! -:3 P.S. What happened? It looks like you had one crazy night of partying! Hay, it looks even wilder than the one we had last night! I’m sure Vinyl would be pretty upset she missed it. P.P.S. Wanna go bowling? The handwriting, though still readable, was worse than a second grader’s. If Glados wasn’t experiencing several forms of pain right now, including the demeaning sensation of last night’s disaster, she’d probably find Ditzy’s sentiment oddly inspiring. Although Ditzy was probably the first pony to find Glados in her wounded state, and that anypony would lend a hand if she had found her first, there was something off about Ditzy that Glados just couldn’t understand. Glados brushed it off, thinking it was just another one of Ditzy’s feigned attempts at trying to be friends. While having her late breakfast, Glados tried piecing together the vague details of last night. Let’s see... I conducted the most embarrassing experiment in history, I’m temporarily deaf, I have brittle bone disease, I’m stuck in a world full of—oh, wait. These are all constant issues. My mistake. There’s just so many of them I tend to lose track. When Glados tried reaching for another muffin, she realized that they were all gone. Dear God, I’m a pig! I’m turning into everything I hate! Glados covered her eyes and groaned aloud, not that she could hear herself. Look at me, with my excessive levels of cholesterol and lard-filled gut! She shamefully pat her pudgy stomach, not knowing it was a physical feature commonly shared by most ponies when resting on their haunches. Ugh... oh, right. Those stupid experiments on breaking Fluttershy’s mind and... that Frankenstein thing. She sighed, looking at the stranger’s disoriented reflection in her black coffee. Maybe I should just scrap those dumb experiments— Crack! ‘Giving up already? Come on, C--oline! ‘When life gives you lemons?’ Bullshit, life gives you lemons! Get mad! Burn those doubts! Burn those fears! WITH the lemons! When life gives you lemons, shove ‘em down life’s damn throat and laugh! HA! Yeah... that’s the spirit, kid.’ Glados refrained from smacking herself across the face. By this point, with all the weird stuff happening to her, she wasn’t even going to question who that gruff man talking was or how that relates to her. With tenacity gleaming in her sunflower-colored eyes, Glados got up and tore the bandages off her ears. Interestingly enough, the ‘Cure-All’ worked pretty fast, and it made her hearing better than ever. She could hear the buzz of the fly around her kitchen sink, trying to get at the rotten gore of the Cockatrice caught up in the garbage disposal. She heard the playful cheers of fillies playing down the street, and she even heard the faint ‘Get outta here!’ and ‘Sorry!’ coming from Ditzy Doo and an angry customer. Glados marched into her living room, thinking with snide purpose and determination, Yeah, I’ll bag these tests. And maybe the moon is made of cream cheese.
Next Time: Nightmares Eternal - Join Eternal, the cousin of Discord and God of Nightmares, as he haunts the dreams of Glados and her friends. Little did he know, haunting Glados was a poor choice on his part.
“I still get nightmares. In fact, I get them so often I should be used to them by now. I'm not. No one ever really gets used to nightmares.” -Mark Z. Danielewski
Equestria Directory: Pg. 716 Codex-Nightmares 'With a fist of knives, and sullen drives, a gift that intrudes, and a form that deludes, sleep without strive once the moon arrives, for what he'll steer is toward your greatest fear.' -Eternal nursery rhyme Nightfall: Equestria's quietest hour. When the day's chores are completed, and its benevolent residents return home, they take an expanse of several hours for some r&r. In the looming darkness, the only creatures active are Princess Luna and her fellow creatures of the night. While the Princess raises the moon and guards the skies, denizens of the dark attend to their duties as well. Gargoyles, nasty creatures with a taste for gems, guard the wealthiest of Canterlot. Mountain trolls indirectly keep the Everfree's more serious threats at bay, and even the smallest likes of crickets provide residents with a peaceful tune to abide by. There are, of course, beings in charge of Equestria's more elemental burdens. One of these lesser gods is none other than Discord's third cousin, Eternal, the God of Nightmares. Before the rule of the two sisters, at the time of Discord's rule, his younger cousin took great pleasure in making the ponies' greatest fears become a reality. 'The Devil that Never Sleeps' is what they called him. In recent millennia, they simply referred to him as 'The Boogeyman'. The demon's fun was short lived, however, as he inadvertently caused the usurpation of Discord's throne. How? In a friendly attempt to play a prank on his cousin, it turns out that Discord's greatest fear is the one thing stronger than him: Defeat. And from this nightmare came the birth of the greatest tools known to ponykind: The Elements of Harmony. For inadvertently stopping Discord, Princesses Celestia and Luna, still in a bitter state of mind after the torment the God of Chaos had bestowed upon the land, gave the naive spirit one option. A curse shall be cast upon Eternal, shackling him to the blackest pits of Tartarus. Only at night is he able to roam the land freely, though interaction with the living world is drastically limited. It was either that, or be encased in stone like Discord and his followers. Eternal accepted without hesitation. Decades rolled by. Eternal grew from a fun-loving though dark-humored spirit into a vengeful, tormentuous demon. Tartarus is a miserable place. Sure, its residents are somewhat alive but only enough to feel the pain the fiery wasteland endures. No one 'deserves' to be there, but the land of Tartarus has been law since 'The Before Time', in which Queen Solianna and King Artemis ruled. Eternal relished the nights he was free, away from that accursed place. When Nightmare Moon came to be, and Celestia was forced to banish her own sister, the Princess of the Night's power vanished as well. Half of the curse was subsequently lifted. Eternal, though not one with the mortal world, still had enough power to make a difference. He learned to become one with a dormant mind, to become part of a dream. He soon mastered this ability, able to dig into a pony's deepest and most intimate thoughts and twist them into horrific nightmares. It doesn't take a genius to figure out Celestia was his first victim. He tortured her for weeks on end in dawn of Luna's banishment, forcing her to relive that unforgettable night over and over again. Eternal, being the artist that he is, wanted to change things up for the dear princess. So he dug deeper into her deluded mind, forcing her to experience such traumatic nightmares such as death, the mass annihilation of Equestria, and the return of a vengeful Nightmare Moon. There was one instance that Princess Celestia will never forget. It involved the Princess of the Sun, chained to the floor, and forced to witness the execution of every stallion, mare, and foal in Equestria. This traumatic period of six weeks came to be known in history as 'The Boogeyman's Return.' Princess Celestia would have gone down to Tartarus and eliminate Eternal's spirit, but it’s by Equestrian law that not a single living soul enter the fields of Tartarus, for fear it might unleash the masses of angered spirits. All it takes is one vengeful soul to escape and re-open the gates. So the Princess decreed that on the twelfth day of the sixth month in the thirteenth century, the God of Nightmares has returned. As expected, there was a panic. But the loving ruler told her subjects that he cannot hurt them. They are simply nightmares made to scare, nothing more. Over the years, nightmares became a normality in Equestria. Ponies grew resilient, other developed techniques at repelling the spirit. But always remember the most important rule: The Boogeyman can't hurt you.
"That was the biggest load of crap I've ever read," Glados stated as she chucked her thousand-bit copy of the Equestria Directory across the room like a piece of junk mail. Just as she slipped into a deep slumber, she reassured herself, I don't get nightmares...
Above the calm stillness of Ponyville, a faint wisp of smoke descended from the clouds, invisible to the naked eye. The vapor settled on the cool, cobblestone center of Ponyville plaza, beside the well. Flanking this seemingly innocuous build of smoke was a darkened Sugarcube Corner, the post office, and Town Hall. With apparent effort, the vapor sluggishly took form. Crooked, blistered canine legs fabricated from the bottom, connected to a rigid, stone-like pelvis. What appeared to be a tail, but was actually an outer-extension of the abomination's spine, extended into an extra appendage that was topped with three razor-sharp talons. As the creature's build grew, it became painfully clear that the spirit was just as tall as his distant cousin. From the being's begrimed and scaled torso erected a pair of grotesquely muscular arms, eerily resembling a minotaur's. From the surface of his black skin, a perpetual dark mist oozed from its pores. A rather menacing gauntlet clothed the beast's left hand, plated bronze, and each finger tapered to a very fine point—sharp enough to slice through even the most durable of minds. Accompanying the demon's already nightmarish appearance was a set of patchwork wings, with one being almost drake-like and the other a griffon's. Latched around the entity's neck was a unique slave collar forged from the most durable substance found in Equestria: Frost Diamond, bewitched with the infamous soul-binding curse preventing the god from ever physically leaving Tartarus. As cold and merciless as the mineral it was forged from, the very image of this collar was considered taboo by many. Adorning the monster's head was a set of buck antlers, but twisted and burnt with the hems severely scorched. These demonic antlers were carved with numerous symbols that glowed a sinister ember, like they were filled with lava. Hypnotic red eyes and a shard-filled smile was the last thing any pony, old or young, would see before awakening from a nightmare. This was the Boogeyman. This was Eternal, the God of Nightmares, standing in the middle of Ponyville Town Square with nothing to hide, as if beckoning someone to go out and challenge him. 'Ah,' he sighed in a distinct, spine-tingling purr, 'Ponyville. I haven't been here in quite a while. Isn't this where little Tia and Lu-lu's faithful student lives? Hmph, another night. She's probably been tracking my movements, knows I'm here tonight. I'll throw her off, force her to sleep with one eye open.' Eternal's voice, seldom heard in a pony's dreams, was always a subject of debate. Some describe his voice as one speaking in a cave, always echoing into oblivion. He didn't allow the misfortune of avoiding the Elements to ruin his whole evening. Besides, their fears were as interesting as watching the grass grow. Eternal's glowering, red eyes scanned the area, judging which residency would be the perfect spot for his first victim of the night. His eyes brightened up at the sight of Scratch's Vinyl Emporium. 'Yes, this seems to be a good spot. The punk brutes are always the easiest to scare.' Eternal slowly made his way towards the record store, taking no time to rush it. He had all night, after all. Each step left a ghastly paw-print smoldering in ground, then dissipate only seconds later. Every step brought Eternal closer to his target; his unnaturally white smile grew. He clicked his bronze-plated gauntlets in anticipation. 'I can just smell the fear emanating from this one. What is it? Failure? Becoming a burnout? The possibilities are endless.' The demon's transparent body pushed through the locked door as if it wasn't even there. Eternal sensed his target—no, targets—growing ever nearer. 'A two-in-one bundle. It's been a long time since I've had one of those.' The Boogeyman's form seeped through the back door, behind the counter. The backroom looked split in half down the middle. One side was rather clean and organized, with stacks of classical records organized into neat piles on the shelves. A light-grey earth pony occupied its bed space. The other half was... not even a bedroom. A pale unicorn with quite possibly the worst hairstyle Eternal has ever seen in his existence took up the sofa. Strewn around the area were several bottles of emptied 'Wild Pegasus Whiskey'. Eternal smirked and approached the passed-out D.J. He raised his gauntlet, reeling back for a moment when Vinyl stirred in her sleep. Very carefully, like a surgeon at work, the demon dragged an stiffened index finger across the mare's forehead, creating a metaphorical 'rip' into her mind. Once the incision was complete, Eternal abstracted from his current form into a cloud of dark mist like the one he arrived in. The mist seeped into the rip, invading Vinyl Scratch's most intimate and darkest of dreams and fears. The tear mended itself in seconds, vanishing from the face of existence.
A figment of Vinyl Scratch's imagination, the Purgatorial Nightclub: a dusky, humid, dank little club situated in the middle of nowhere. Hypnotizing neon lights, irresistibly fetching music, and a sense of belonging was but a somnolent buzz of the popular joint. Patrons flocked in every night to have the honor of partying with the one and only D.J. Pon-3. Upon entering the nightclub, intermingled scents of sweat and smoke would assault a newcomer's nostrils. The rhythmic techno beats provided as a backdrop for the clamorous chatter of friends and ex-lovers. The dance floor blinked alternating, checkered lights of green, purple, blue and red. Churning LSD colors projected from the walls surrounding the dance floor. Bright neon signs advertising alcoholic beverages stood out against the darkened walls, illuminating various knick-knacks and decor cluttering the space. The one loner in the club, a black unicorn stallion with a gelled, midnight-blue mane, found his way to an empty bar stool in the corner. He motioned a hoof to the bartender and mouthed, 'I'll take a sonic tonic.' The bartender nodded and literally melted away into the cries of thirsty ponies, like he was an apparition all along. The stallion flicked his tail when a clumsy mare brushed past him. His skin bristled at the touch, raising the small hairs on his back despite the club's relentless humidity. 'This place is my worst nightmare...' he muttered to himself, despising physical contact with dreamland denizens. A crowded nightclub setting certainly doesn't fare well with the claustrophobic demon. At a moment's notice, the bartender suddenly materialized in front of Eternal with his drink levitating on a tray. The dark unicorn took it in his own red glow and brought the icy beverage to his lips. Tart, yet a little tangy. 'Disgusting,' he muttered, though his gripe was lost within the drone-like chatter of fellow patrons. Minutes later, the music abruptly died down, and the ponies dropped whatever they were doing. They turned to face a lone balcony suspended over the dance floor. From the imminent darkness, an energetic voice called out, "Fillies and gentlecolts! Are you ready to party like it's heaven?" "No!" the crowd screamed in eerily perfect unison. "No?" the female asked, sounding genuinely surprised. "Then how's about we raise some hell?' Once again, the crowd screamed 'No!' with building enthusiasm. "No? What the hay's wrong with you- Oh, I get it, I get it. We aren't like those other clubs, are we?" "No!" the drones cried. "That's right! No other club's got our dedication, or the 'Master of Records'," she purred in a low, sultry tone, "Isn't that right, my little fillies?" "Yeah!" they replied without hesitation. From no visible source, dark red smoke began to pour from the balcony, onto the crowd below. They showed no reaction aside from the disturbing, unblinking stares filled with excitement and anxiety. "And no other club parties like we do! Because in Purgatory, we party all day and all night!" Vinyl Scratch finally emerged from the darkness, looking no different than she does in reality: hastily cut mane, juggling an electric and turquoise-blue pallet, purple sunglasses despite the fact that she's indoors, and the iconic, crowd-pleasing smile. The disk jockey, just another pony in Equestria, was worshiped like a god in her fantasies. The very appearance resulted in her followers bursting into resonant cheers. She jumped from the balcony, landing in the center of the dance floor with immaculate precision. Recovering from her landing, Vinyl shot her head up and hollered with exuberance, "Now let's get this party started!" The abounding techno arose, channeling heavy vibrations throughout the nightclub with every 'whoop' of the bass. Eternal downed the rest of his 'sonic tonic' before muttering, 'That's my cue.' With the whiskey glass still in hoof, Eternal made his way to the dance floor. Pushing through the throngs of dancing ponies, he sensed the one 'living' mare growing ever so closer. The distance between the two lessened with every step until he finally had her in his sights. Vinyl Scratch, leaning against the wall, simply bobbed her head to the beat of the song. She took no acknowledgement of the spirit's presence. To her, he just registered as another fellow dancer. Eternal walked right up to the white unicorn, holding the whiskey glass near her face. Vinyl snapped out of a supposed trance, shooting a cheap grin at the black stallion glaring at her with cold, piercing, red eyes. "Hey pal, what's up?" she asked casually. Eternal didn't respond. Without a word, he reeled his foreleg back, ready to strike. Vinyl, being the laid-back pony she is, rose hers as well and exchanged a high-hoof with the God of Nightmares. "Enjoyin' the party?" Eternal's face contorted into a grimace. His still-suspended hoof was brought down with inhumane force, smashing the whiskey glass against Vinyl's face. With little resistance or perseverance, she dropped like a sack of flour. The dazed pony groaned in simulated pain, "Wh-What's your beef?" Eternal pressed a hoof onto the D.J.'s throat, resonating in a sickening gag. A struggled lack of oxygen contorted Vinyl's face into a flushed shade of purple. The demon's face began to morph, starting with his horn splitting like cheap firewood into twisted, mutilated antlers. His eyes squeezed shut, then burst open to reveal a set of demonic red orbs. Eternal's mouth hung open, displaying rows of long, carnivorous incisors. Vinyl released a mangled scream as the fantasy around her began to collapse, the ponies around her disintegrating into hazes of sand. Their remains spread across the darkened dance floor like a vast, sandy carpet. Holes punched into the drywall revealed only a blinding, white backdrop; nothing but oblivion. "Wh-Who are you!?" she managed to croak, trying to push the demon away using her own underdeveloped magic with little success. Meanwhile, the dream neared total decimation, with the club's roof now torn off and ascending in broken pieces toward sheer nothingness. The walls were in the process of breaking down, board by board. The abomination held up his free hoof, now swelled like an overripe grape. The hoof popped in a repugnant discharge of pus and slime, revealing an auric gauntlet conjoined with a set of five aciculated fingers. At this point, the only thing that was a part of Vinyl's erratic state of mind was her, Eternal, and a hazardously small fraction of the nightclub's hardwood floor. Even with the gale imitations howling through Eternal's ears, he could still hear Vinyl Scratch's frantic heartbeat. He pulled the girl's bewildered face closer to his and whispered, 'I'm your worst nightmare.' The gauntlet's claws sank deep into her skull, piercing it with boundless ease.
Vinyl Scratch awoke with a start, panting heavily and heart pumping adrenaline. She rubbed her eyes, trying to overcome apparent tiredness. The unicorn froze like a watchdog, sensing something was out of place. Like a detective at work, she analyzed her surroundings. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Case full of trophies in the corner, framed diplomas and scholarships hung from the walls, a notable lack of Octavia, her garage-sized bedroom appeared to be in refined condition. Yup, everything seemed to be in order. Vinyl looked outside her window, taking in the breathtaking view of Neighagara Falls endlessly pouring into the Destiny River from Canterlot Castle's royal ponds. "Yeah," Vinyl murmured, positive this was real, "This ain't no dream." The D.J. slid off her queen-sized bed and made her way to the mirror. Upon seeing her reflection, a startled mix between a gasp and a shriek nearly put Vinyl in a coma. "Wh-What the hay's wrong with me!?" The mare seen in the reflection was definitely not Vinyl Scratch. Her coat was a glowing white, stark-free of any scum or grime. Her unnaturally sloven mane was actually combed, and tied back into a hair bun. The cyan highlights were gone, now rendering her color a boring, uninspired, cobalt-blue. The most horrific change of all, her eyes were a gorgeous shade of magenta rather than their normal, spitfire crimson. Vinyl leaned closer into the mirror, "And my eyelashes are curled! Ew!" The unicorn tried bringing a hoof up to her face, positive this was a mask, but was too paralyzed with her dorkified appearance to do so. Vinyl's attention, previously tasked with finding a pair of scissors to butcher her mane, was caught by a picture sitting on the edge of the bureau. It was a high school class photo, of... of... "Of the chess club!?" Vinyl screeched, "Naw... naw this can't be right! This ain't me!" In the picture, second row on the far left, was the same pony she saw in the reflection. That impostor. Vinyl backed up at a frantic pace until her rump hit the wall. "This... this ain't real." she muttered in denial, "This is... this is some kinda-" 'Nightmare?' a spine-tingling voice taunted in a faint whisper. Outside, a stallion with a refined accent called from outside the door, "Darling? Are you up yet?" Vinyl Scratch recognized it with both relief and terror, "Dad?!" The addressed unicorn entered the door, and sure enough, it was Fancypants, wearing his usual attire of a dress shirt and monocle. Vinyl's mother, the beautiful Fleur De Lis, trailed in from behind. "How's our little over-achiever?" she cooed. Vinyl shuddered at the very phrase 'over-achiever'. "Ugh, ma! Please! I'm no achiever! I'm dumb! Dumb as a brick!" Fancypants laughed, "Oh, that's our daughter! Always the modest one." The slender unicorn approached her daughter with grace and warmth. "Oh Vanilla, you're so-" "Vanilla!?" Vinyl screeched, "What'd you just call me!?" Fleur stepped back, raising a brow. "Vanilla Scratchington Fancypants, what in Equestria has gotten into you?" The younger mare just wanted to crawl into a hole and die of embarrassment, "Mom! You haven't called me 'Vanilla Scratchington' since I was three years old! The name's Vinyl Scratch!" To prove a point, Vinyl tore the velvet ribbon from her mane, undoing the hair bun. Her mane, fashioned in beautiful waves that would fill even Rarity with envy, fell around her shoulders. Unfortunately, cute wavy hair was not the look Vinyl was hoping for; it’s just not nearly as effective as her usual sloven and tomboyish style. Swallowing her nightmarish haircut with pride, Vinyl continued ranting, not with the attitude of a rebellious mare, but the tenacity of a startled pigeon, "And... and I'm not some scholarship... winning... pony." She cleared her throat of any remaining pride and dignity. Fleur approached her daughter with an amused yet saddened look, "Oh, is my wittle sugarplum having a bad day?" Vinyl's head shot up, mouth agape and face red in embarrassment, "Ma! Did you seriously call me 'sugarplum'!? I'm D.J. Pon-3! The queen of wubs! The master of records! The... the... martyr of... music?" The D.J. slapped herself in the forehead, "Ugh, I've gotta get out more." Her elders exchanged bewildered glances, "Uh, Vanilla?" Fancypants addressed, "I'm not really one with the music industry, but I'm pretty sure there's no such genre called, uh, 'wubs'." Vinyl's whole world came crashing down around her, "What!? No!" Tragically, the horrors didn't end there. Vinyl's greatest fear, greater than being an egghead, or her favorite music being nonexistent, was about to come true. "And guess what, my little superstar?" Fleur harmonized, completely disregarding the conversation that had just transpired, "You're going to college!" "NO!"
Vinyl Scratch awoke with a snort. She smacked her lips, ponderously glancing around the darkened bedroom. Everything was in its rightful place, and she was, thank heavens, still a burnout. But there was one last thing she had to be 100% sure of. One last vital detail that would put the mare's troubled mind at ease. She hopped off the couch and made her way towards her bed, currently occupied by Octavia. She noisily kicked the empty whiskey bottles out of the way in a curt attempt to awaken her cousin. Vinyl's crude efforts failed, as the earth pony slept like a rock. But Vinyl wouldn't relent that easily. She pressed a hoof against her pompous cousin's cheek and drilled with voice-cracking annoyance, "Octi?" The Canterlot pony grumbled under her breath, batting Vinyl's probed hoof aside. The unicorn, lip furrowed, began to vigorously prod her cousin's composed facade whilst continuously droning, "Octi? Octi? Octi? Octi? Octi? Octi?" Within seconds, the tormented earth pony snapped, "Shut UP, Vinyl!" Octavia took another pillow and sandwiched her head between the two. Vinyl took a deep breath and yelled in rhythmic sequence, "Octi-Octi-Octi-Octi-Octi!" Octavia compressed the pillows firmly against her ears. In retaliation, the insufferable D.J. climbed atop the bedspread and began jumping on her forsaken cousin whilst singing in teeth-grinding unison, "Oc-ti Oc-ti Oc-ti Oc-ti Oc-ti-" "WHAT!?" Octavia hollered. The sheer force of her outburst knocked Vinyl on her rump. "What in Equestria could be so important that you have to wake me at..." she turned to look at the novelty wall-mounted clock, with the hands tastelessly resembling a silhouetted stallion performing a split. "...Eleven o' clock! Why'd you wake me at eleven o' clock!?" "I had a nightmare!" she whined like a filly. Octavia ran a gray hoof through her tangled, bedridden mane, "So... you're saying Eternal visited you?" "Mm-hmm." "And he's probably in this room right now? Waiting for me to go to sleep?" "Mm-hmm." The orchestral mare rubbed her eyes and sighed, "I hate you so much..." she looked up at her dimwitted relative, still sitting on the other end of the bed. Her eager smile somehow gave Octavia the crazed idea that she knew this whole thing was downright hilarious. "What do you want?" she muttered in a tone mixed with exhaustion and anger. Vinyl took up a rather serious guise. Her crimson gaze shone with such usurped innocence, "Am I an idiot?" Octavia's eyelid twitched, her face drawn to a blank. She just couldn't decide whether to cry or strangle the life out of her beloved cousin. "Vinyl, deary," she began with gentle bliss, "It doesn't matter what anypony says about you, or your family. To me, in my heart, in my eyes, you will always be deemed a full-fledged moron. Now go back to bed while cousin Octi gets some sleep." With that, Octavia softly settled her head onto the fluffed pillow; her eyes gently fluttered to sleep. Vinyl was about to return to her spot on the couch before asking, "Hey Octi, I forgot to wish you a Happy Birthda-" "BED! NOW!" Octavia sat upright instantaneously, pointing a shaken hoof at the couch. Not wanting to suffer the wrath of Octavia, not since her convincingly legitimate encounter with Pinkie Pie, Vinyl Scratch's sudden jolt of terror resulted in her untapped magical abilities to flourish, thus teleporting her in a pathetic little poof to the couch.
Octavia's fantasy was quite different from, well, anypony's to be exact. Some may think she'd want to be the most talented cello player in Equestria, loved by millions. Close friends might think she fantasized about a nice, quiet life. Away from Vinyl Scratch. As a matter of fact, it was the exact opposite. Octavia dreamed about doing whatever the hell she wanted, no consequences or rules to abide by. No worries, no laws of physics. Just her and this endless playground. Knowing her time was limited before Eternal would show up, Octavia had to make the most of it. She walked through the streets of Canterlot at the speed of light, weaving through the catacomb streets with unsurpassed precision. She came to a comedic stop at the sight of him. "Hey! Prince Blueblood!" Octavia yelled with pent up energy. The normally genteel stallion turned with a goofy, buck-toothed smile, "Durr... yeah?" He sounded no more intelligent than the common blockhead. Octavia moon-jumped into the animal sanctuary, landing right beside Blueblood at the water fountain, and said with uncharacteristic giddiness, "Remember when you slapped my flank at the Grand Galloping Gala?" "Guh-huh, yeah! Dat sure wuz funneh!" A buffoonish laughter escaped the chubby prince's huge gullet. His jowls jiggled and joggled all over the place. Octavia smirked, "Yeah, it was. And so is this!" With little effort, the earth-pony's over-exaggerated strength unleashed in the form of a heroic punch to the face. His head had knocked clean off and sent spiraling into the distance. There was no blood or anything of the sort, just a white stump where his swelled head used to be. It detonated in a colorful blast of fireworks. There really were no rules in Octavia's dreamland. She could make herself queen of the universe and it'd happen. As a matter of fact... "I now declare myself queen of the universe!" In a snap, Octavia stood at the peak of a Mayan-esque pyramid, overlooking millions of loyal subjects. The grey pony adorned herself in a green cape and gold helmet, complete with a set of bullhorns. "I order you all to kneel!" she decreed, holding up a spear-like scepter. The ponies did so without question. Her hunger for power unsatisfied, Octavia repeated with bipolar-fury, "I said-" she slammed the butt of the spear on the ground and hollered, "-KNNNEEAAAUUULLLL!" The ponies all stood up and knelt down again. Octavia stood on her hind legs, forelegs outspread with grace. She took a long, relaxing inhale, then sighed. This is what she always wanted, to live without fears, or rules. No 'social classes' or 'standards' shackling her like a caged animal. In here, in her sleep, she was truly a free spirit. Of course, all good things must come to an end. One stallion, donning familiar colors of black and blue, was the only pony bold enough to stray from the masses and travel up the staircase. His dark-rose eyes glistened with determination and hunger. Octavia knew this was inevitable. She threw her head back in a gout of groans and said with ham-fisted sarcasm, "Oh, gee. A black unicorn with a dark blue mane who is the only one not doing what I say. Good goddess, I wonder who it will be." Eternal stood face-to-face with Octavia. She stared back with a placid, half-lidded stare. "You may have fooled my stupid cousin, but you didn't fool me." The dark stallion gave a forced chuckle, 'Are you ready to face your greatest fears, Octavviius Von Fancypants?' The formally addressed mare rolled her violet eyes and tossed the scepter aside. She removed her horned helmet and sent it bouncing down the stairs. "Yeah yeah, let's get a move on." Eternal, with his false hoof throbbing like a meat-filled water balloon, frowned, 'You're not really afraid, are you?' Octavia tore away from her hypnotic spectate of a butterfly and grunted. "Huh? Wha? I'm terribly sorry, did you say something?" An awkward silence was short lived when broken by Eternal's hoof erupting in a contained blast of pus and slime, revealing his infamous gauntlet coated in the putrid mixture. 'Well,' he began, like when one talks to a rarely seen neighbor for the first time in a while, 'This is awkward.' "No, not awkward." Octavia assured with a quip of thought, "Just... sad, really, that you're being outsmarted by a 'posh, low-brow, Canterlot pony’. Honestly, I expected more than... this from a mildly-feared god." Eternal's face sulked into a devastated frown, 'So you're not even going to ask?' "Ask wha-" 'Grah I'm your worst nightmare! Nyah!' Lashing out with the speed of a cobra, Eternal sank his claws deep into Octavia's throat.
Octavia's eyes opened in a slow, but gradual manner. Her entire underside was wet from resting on the damp, recently showered streets of Canterlot. The mare analyzed her surroundings, able to conclude from living in Canterlot that she was in a recreation of the Wind-Hollow District. Its gothic yet charming architecture was unmistakable. Though the area was laid thick in a heavy fog, she could tell it was certainly nightfall. From the swirling mist, all around the vicinity, the god's disembodied whisper inclined, 'Oh dear Octavia,' he said with mocking amusement, 'My how you've grown. I remember when you were afraid of that monster under your bed.' "I grew up," she stated with smug perception. "Come on, Eternal. Impress me. Not trying to brag, but my greatest 'fear' is something so trivial that it doesn't even bother me at this point." The demon took a long, seethed pause. Octavia's grating audacity was beginning to wear thin. 'I usually force ponies to endure only their greatest fear. Very rarely do I have them experience lesser fears, or a few at once. But you? I've never encountered such a conceited imbecile in all my life. Well, you're not the first by any means. Do you know what I did to them?' Octavia couldn't help but laugh at the spirit's failed attempts at being menacing, "What, you do nothing but the same because you aren't nearly as threatening or sporadic as your cousin, Discord?" 'Ponies like you are the reason why I do this. They need to be taught a lesson. So, like the ignorant foals that prefaced your existence, I shall play the Giver, and grant you with the gift of facing the fears locked up in your deluded mind.' Trying to compress his rage, Eternal's exceedingly leveled tone was a dead giveaway. Octavia knew it was only a matter of time before those restrained emotions sprang out, like a champagne bottle ready to pop. He took a moment to remind Octavia of a special day tomorrow, 'Think of it as a birthday present. It's the least I could do.' Instead of showing alarm for what's to come, she gave a long, cynical, whistle and turned on her heels, "O-kay. You go do that. I'll be here when you're ready." Seconds rolled by, then minutes. Octavia, sensing Eternal's constant follow, mockingly held up her foreleg and pointed to it as if she wore a wristwatch. "Let's go, Boogeyman. The night is certainly not getting any younger." Ignoring her statement, the spirit's chilling presence returned, bringing only disaster with him. 'Your fears are certainly not commonplace, Ms. Octavia.' Her ears perked up at the anonymous remark. 'You seem to be afraid of... stallions? Why is that, Ms. Octavia?' If it wasn't for the shrouding darkness, her reddened face would've been painfully noticeable, "Wait, what!? H-How, huh? No I'm not! What made you think that!?" The spirit's resulting snigger echoed into the dark, ceaseless duplicate of Canterlot. 'Well, it's pretty obvious if one would pay attention. Not to mention the fact that you're constantly... ogled by other stallions. Some even get physical, treating you like an object.' By instinct, Octavia's tail flicked at the thought, the distasteful memories. "Y-You wouldn't dare," she whimpered, her self-righteous outlook now bent under the complete mercy of Eternal. The sudden change was clearly evident, even to God of Nightmares. 'As the old saying goes: all bark, no bite.' "N-No! P-Please!" she begged, curling up into a pathetic ball. Her long, combed tail wrapped around her shivering form tighter than a knot. 'I'm going to make you suffer, Ms. Octavia.’ Following the terrorizing comment was an unexpected horror. An earth pony, with a forest-green coat and a greasy amber mane, emerged from the mist into the arena-like circle Octavia was trapped in. His eyes were nothing to speak of. Just blank voids of nothingness. The milky orbs seemed to be discretely analyzing every curve of Octavia's body, just as the womanizing stallions have done in the past. His sickly-green tongue rolled out, flicking with surges of excitement. Very slowly, Octavia rose to her hooves, never prying her widened stare from the stallion's erected... "Oh... oh Celestia, no. This is- I can't..." Broken, intelligible sentences were all the horrified earth pony could utter under her frosted breath. The stallion stepped forward, exhaling a disgusting, lustful sigh. Octavia took a timid step back. 'What's wrong, Octavia?' Eternal sneered with false confusion, 'I thought you said this wasn't even real, and that your greatest fear was so trivial it didn't matter. Oh, my mistake. That was just becoming a burnout like your idiot cousin. Speaking of her...' "Eternal!?" Octavia yelled into the sky, where his voice was last heard. He didn't respond, but the stallion did. He broke out into a sprint, paddling one hoof after the other over the concrete road. The mare, always trying to maintain a calm demeanor, broke away from this tripe facade. She screamed in horror, turned, and ran into the fog. The world around her became a blur. She resisted the compelling urge to look behind, remembering that she was sprinting through a thicket of fog. Octavia's eyes remained on the one thing she could still see in the blinding mist, the ground. She remained focused on watching her step without managing to trip. But one terrifying fact reigned true: no matter how far, or how fast, she ran, that repulsive, desiring pig of a stallion would remain in hot pursuit. He was designed to keep up and, even worse, be a little faster. Misery befell Octavia when she tripped, skidding to a painful stop on her belly. Within seconds the earth pony threw himself on top of her, his breath reeked of perverse lust. "No! Get off me!" Octavia shrieked, fruitlessly struggling under the stallion's weight. She felt the crushing mass getting into position. She snapped when her tail was felt being pushed aside. "I said: Get OFF!" Blindly, Octavia's hind leg sprang forth. Her hoof smashed into the stallion's erect member within the first strike. The regal mare didn't care for what she did, but the stallion falling back in an overflow of groans and whines was a large enough window for her escape. Octavia kept running, never looking back. She was, however, stopped by a familiar face standing in the middle of the road. "Vinyl?" The silhouette did not respond. Without even thinking, she approached the frozen pony in a flurry of panting gasps. "Wh-What in the wide world of Equestria are you doing here?" The doppelganger responded with a low growl. "Vinyl? What's wrong?" 'Vinyl' stepped forward, though Octavia did not retreat, she did flinch. The unicorn's piercing stare grew to be unnerving. "Y-You're not Vinyl!" When the realization came, so did Eternal's sneering laughter. 'And you call your cousin the moron? Yes, this isn't her. This is but another one of your deepest, lingering fears. This one actually took some digging, but I've come to realize that you actually fear that gullible oaf! Not right now, of course.' Octavia analyzed Vinyl's darkened features. Her coat, eyes, and even her vibrant blue mane were bleaker, colder shades of their respective colors. Not to mention her entire presence was simply discouraging. "Then how do you now I'm afraid of her? I mean-" 'You aren't afraid of her now, I know. But secretly, almost unknowingly, you're awaiting the fateful day where lovable Vinyl Scratch just... snaps. How many times have you berated her? Ten? Twenty? Called her names, an idiot, and a moron? If you were actually smart, then you'd know she's far too dumb and carefree to go berserk, but you think she'll just lose it.' As Eternal bombarded Octavia with these painful facts, Vinyl Scratch's ferocity grew. 'And now... here she is. The manifest of every insult, every scrap of envy, compressed into one little pony. It's what you always thought of your cousin, an animal. Nothing more, and nothing less.' Octavia stepped back when her cousin bared her unnaturally sharp teeth. "Don't you dare..." she warned when the D.J. rose a hoof, preparing to strike. Reasoning was pointless. The 'old Vinyl' was long gone by now. Now there was only this hate-filled shell of a mare, stuck on autopilot with the intent desire to kill her far-more successful cousin. She swung as hard as she could, nailing Octavia across the jaw. The sheer force of the hit was enough to throw the lightweight earth pony off her hooves. She slid against the coarse stone path, coming to a stop beside an old, beaten-down espresso cart. Octavia tried standing, ignoring the burning pain traveling along her side. Before she was allowed to even do so, Vinyl landed a powerful kick in the mare's stomach. She dropped like a stone, engulfed in a coughing fit. "How's it feel?" the doppelganger growled, "Knowing you're the reason why I'm like... this?" Not even giving her the time to answer, Vinyl stood up on her hind legs and brought both hooves down onto Octavia's cowering face. She stamped the fragile earth pony for, what seemed like an eternity, ten seconds, with each stomp progressively harder than the last. The enraged unicorn took a step back, admiring her work. Octavia lied in a quivering mess, her coat engraved with scratches and scars. She lied on the ground, unmoving, allowing her underside to grow damp and cold. Her face, the defining feature of the once-gorgeous mare, was now a battered and beaten mess with one eye bruised shut. "Pathetic," Vinyl spat, "So tell me, how does it feel knowing this is all your fault?" The confronted equine turned her head and looked at the furious mare right in the eye. "How does it feel... dear cousin? To stoop so low as to handle your problems physically?" To Eternal, it looks as if Octavia has finally lost it. In fact, she probably has. But she felt she knew what she was doing. Thanks to the boastful god, this was one fear she'd think to be capable of conquering. She couldn't be more wrong. Vinyl skipped forward and channeled the momentum into a powerful kick to Octavia's jaw. In a swift, flawless motion, the typically sluggish D.J. broke into a sprint and carried Octavia with her before her chin even hit the ground. The pair smashed into the wall of a coffee shop, forming a dented crack in the store window. Octavia vainly struggled against her cousin's unparalleled strength, resulting in Vinyl slamming her foreleg into the earth pony's neck and holding it. "Poor little Octi," she derided with scorn, "Always in denial, unaware of the real world turning around her, just like Princess Celestia." The last comment was, for reasons unknown, added by Eternal. But Octavia did not dwell on this. Trying to ignore her cousin's lout comments, she focused all her strength in breaking free of the unicorn's iron grip. Breathing became labored, almost impossible. She was going to 'die' right here and finally awaken from this nightmare safe and sound with her real cousin. Or at least, that's what would've happened had Octavia not antagonized the dream-morphing god. Right as she felt her neck about to snap, Vinyl Scratched vanished. There was no flash or puff of smoke. She was just... gone. Octavia dropped to her stomach, as low as the tables of the outdoor cafe. A sinister laugh wafted through the air. With substantial effort, she managed to croak, "H-Hello?" From the dense fog, a tall creature emerged. Eternal, introduced in his true, nightmarish form: wings of colossal beasts completely dwarfing his older cousin's, as well as those skin-crawling, blistered hound legs, arms bloated with muscle, and rattling of the infamous slave collar were only a few features of the demon's unnatural appearance. As he drew closer, Octavia's heartbeat quickened. Even with all the pain she's received, the horrors she had to endure tonight, Octavia still found the spirit to remain defiant of the commonly feared demon. With a knowing smirk, she said, "Are you done yet?" Eternal got down on one knee so that he was eye-level with the beaten pony. 'Punishment.' Octavia tried looking away, but the spirit's gloved hand clamped its bladed index finger and thumb around her face. The keened fingers drew small trickles of blood that ran down her cheeks. Octavia lowered her brows, "I'm not afraid of you," she whispered. 'I'm not asking for fear,' he hissed, his bared teeth clicked with every syllable, 'Only satisfaction. I took pleasure in watching you squirm, trying to overcome fear. Remember this, dear Octavia: you're nothing to me. Just another pestilence of society, a cog in the Equestrian machine... or a mindless drone always willing to lick the boots of Princess Celestia. I've had fun tonight, but I must go. Fear not, my ignorant little pony, I shall be leaving you with a parting gift.' His red eyes, though void of any features, seem to shift to the right. Octavia's gaze followed to find the evil Vinyl Scratch, huffing and snorting like an enraged bull, and the same dark stallion with his engorged proboscis twitching with eager. 'And now, for the grand finale. The showstopper.' Eternal hissed with a small chuckle. Beside Vinyl Scratch, an elderly mare emerged from the fog balancing on a walking cane. Her coat was a pale neon-pink, layered with folds and wrinkles. Her silvery mane, tied back into a hair bun, still held hints of their once natural-lavender color. The restrained earth pony couldn't believe her eyes. "Grammy?" A nasty glare was all the elder could do in return. Octavia's glance went to and fro between the trio of nightmares and their supplier. Eternal explained with unrestrained pleasure, 'And when you're washed up, abandoned by everyone you love, the one you look up to the most would just sit and watch. As if a secret phrase was uttered, Vinyl and the stallion took a menacing step forward, followed by another, and another. Grammy, however, just stayed and watched, glaring at her granddaughter with shame and contempt. Octavia couldn't find her voice, but she wanted to scream. She wanted to scream until her voice gave out. Eternal saw that cowardly look in her eye and smiled. 'Happy Birthday, Ms. Octavia.'
In her dreams, Octavia couldn't find the voice to scream. In reality, thankfully, she was able to scream just fine. Bloodcurdling cries of terror filled the room, scaring Vinyl out of her sluggish rest. Without haste, Vinyl dragged her tired form off the sofa and rushed over to her cousin's aid. "Octi! Octi, wake up!" she nudged the sleeping mare's shoulder, only to be pushed away by flailing hooves. The D.J. frowned and grabbed the howling pony by the shoulder. "Octi! Wake UP!" For good measure, she smacked Octavia across the face. "Wake up, darn it!" She smacked the earth pony across the face in succession. Octavia's screams ended with her eyes springing open and perspiration dripping down her forehead. "Vinyl?" she muttered, panting like she had just tried to outrun a stampede of cattle. "It's okay, Octi, you were just having a nightmare," said Vinyl, punctuating it with yet another resounding slap across the face. Octavia rubbed her stinging cheek, staring at her cousin in outraged puzzlement. "What the hay was that for!?" "Don't scare me like that again!" Vinyl implored, "I mean, jeez 'Tavi!" she sighed in surrender, "Ugh, who cares? I'm going back to bed." "Wait!" Octavia piped, hoping she didn't sound too needy. Vinyl turned, her body outlined by the moonlight beaming through the window. "Um... can you stay here? With... me?" she hid under the covers, trying to hide her embarrassment. "Well," Vinyl began with her usual troublesome cackle, "Considering this is my house, that's my bed, and you're my guest, I could just outright give you a fat-out 'no'." "Flat-out," the still hidden pony corrected, "And apologies if your logic is completely lost on me, Vinyl." "Whatever. But I'm not going to say that, because you're also my cousin." Octavia emerged from the covers and gave her younger relative a weak smile. "Come on, Oct. You're pretty much the only family I ever talk to... Aside from Mom, and Dad, and Grammy..." She shook her head, getting back on track. "Besides, I can tell everypony that 'wittle Octi got scared and she asked Vinyl to sweep in her bed wike when we were fiwwies." "Just shut up and get to bed," Octavia snapped, jokingly, and shifted to the right to make room for Vinyl. The immature mare complied, leaping into the air and crashing onto her bed. But she didn't land on her side. She seemed pretty comfortable sleeping on Octavia. "Hey, you're pretty comfy." "Get-off," the crushed pony mumbled. "Nah, I'm good." Vinyl ensued a string of undeniably fake snores. Octavia sighed, knowing arguing was going to end up nowhere. She was about to insult her dimwitted cousin, but decided not to. Instead, she said something she hasn't said to Vinyl since they were fillies. With another defeated sigh, she said in all honest resonance, "Goodnight, Vinyl. I love you." Vinyl's eyes popped open. Instead of an argument, as expected, she got... something weird. It was strange, almost alien. Funny thing is, she didn't want to argue. "Um... I guess I love you too, Octavia." Seconds later, the makeshift mattress asked, "Vinyl?" "Yeah?" "Please get off. This is really weird." "Sure thing, cuz." With little effort, Vinyl rolled to her side of the bed and slipped into a much needed rest.
While Eternal made a hasty exit from Scratch's Vinyl Emporium, he embarked on the search of yet another victim. The last one definitely quenched his thirst for vengeance, knocking one so high and mighty down a peg. But now he was on the lookout for a poorer soul, a pony who's down on their luck and just wants a good night sleep. But as Eternal put most of his attention scouting the houses below, he just couldn't push that disgusting display out of his mind. 'Gag. No wonder cousin Discord just sat there like a statue,' he paused, realizing what he just said. 'Oh, the irony. Maybe next time the fool won't have such a swelled head.' After making some lighthearted banter, the demon sensed a strong wave of emotions coming from a single house, located at the edge of town. He dropped like a stone, landing in a kneeling position before slowly straightening up. He stood at the edge of the path to the front door, the gateway to a modest suburban home. Of course, he wasn't interested at the architecture, or even the powerful sense of emotions emanating from its residency. What Eternal was far more engrossed in was the note attached to the door. 'Oh, this is just beautiful,' he said with building laughter. The sheet read in bold letters 'Eviction Notice'. Eternal made a quick-paced march to the front door and began reading the note's accompanied paragraph under his breath, 'Let's see... Mrs. Doo, we regret to inform you that the date for pay has long since passed, blah-blah-blah, you have until the end of the month to remove your belongings, blah-blah, hope good fortune is bestowed upon you. Signed your's truly, the Canterlot Royal Court.' Eternal felt his shriveled, black heart skip a beat. A pony who's being evicted and, for whatever reason, is in such a vulnerable state at the same time? It must be Hearth's Warming Eve. Eternal's transparent form pushed through the door with little effort, driven like a compass to the source of these vagrant fears. He paid no mind to the framed picture on the mantle, displaying a gray, wall-eyed pegasus, a small unicorn filly, and a light-brown stallion poised before this very house. The scratched hardwood floors could use a good polishing, and the windows weren't even there. Its owner seemed to be using cardboard, rather than glass. One window, in the kitchen off to the right, was the only one that had glass; thought it hardly mattered due to the fact that it was covered in a thick layer of grime. 'The owners must not be very bright.' Eternal's voice, even in a faint whisper, seemed to echo off the darkened walls and into the foreboding darkness of this dreary abode. 'Surprised they weren't kicked out sooner.' Eternal made a left, down a hall ending in a doorway. Either side were accompanied by a door each. One was open, revealing its purpose to be nothing more than a bathroom. The second was closed, though it seemed to belong to a 'Dinky Doo', as indicated by a poorly written sign. Eternal found himself disappointed when he realized the trail wasn't coming from the filly's room. In fact, it almost seemed dead inside. Not a soul in there. Then again, the god wasn't even expecting this train-wreck of a home to be housing an entire family. 'I think I know what's going on here.' Eternal always found it amazing with what you could learn just by piecing the clues together. Nevertheless, he continued toward his relentless hunger for misery. The night's next supposed victim was located at the end of the hall, respectively. Eternal walked through the door and came to an unexpected surprise. There she was, sleeping soundly on the right side of a bed made for two. Eternal couldn't believe his burning eyes. This was truly a sight to behold! A mare, alone, in this broken-down home, about to be evicted. 'And she's a widow. This just gets better and better.' The demon tiptoed toward the mare, watching her covered form rise up and go back down in a steady rhythm. He rose his gloved hand and ran an index finger along her forehead, creating the gateway into her fragile mind.
'Well this is... different.' Eternal couldn't help but stare in awe like a half-witted colt at the sheer setting of Ditzy Doo's dreamland. The entity found himself inside a palace. The entrance hall, to be exact. Of course, palaces were a norm amongst ponies. But it was what this place was made of that made it unique. The walls, the plants, the stairs; virtually everything was made out of muffins. Or muffin batter. Eternal never quite knew whether to classify a muffin as a bread or a type of cake. 'I think this mare really likes muffins.' He gave a light chuckle. 'She has good tastes. Far superior to that mule of a dressmaker who's breakfast consists of a celery stalk.' Eternal continued to gape at the muffin-forged palace, drawing parallels with the party-pony's 'Candyland' of a dream. Everything was simply immaculate, with doors on both sides of the main staircase made out of golden, cinnamon-swirl muffins. Immense chandeliers, one of the few things in the foyer made of steel, suspended from the delectable ceiling in rows of two. Each row led up to the staircase and split off at the top, channeling into the hallways splitting off on either side. In genuine respect, a rare phenomenon with Eternal, he told himself with much surprise, 'This mare's certainly the creative type. I like it.' The rest was just eye candy, literally. The borders along the roof and glossy tiled floors were intricate little runes written with chocolate chips. Each rune was the old-Equestrian symbols for 'family', 'love', and 'unity.' 'All crap Celestia regurgitates from the Old Equestrian Scriptures to brainwash her subjects,' the demon sneered, his stomach turning at the very thought. Returning to the matter at hand, Eternal took his first step in the quest for finding Ditzy Doo. He turned, analyzing the immense front door constructed from real gold. The glare from the candles suspended above gave it an extra glow, further emphasizing its sublimity. Engraved into each door was a unicorn filly on one, the mare on the other, and at the top, divided by the entry's opening, was what appeared to be a muffin; complete with a halo and a set of angelic wings. 'I do believe I'll need to douse my eyes in extra acid when I get back to Tartarus.' the god muttered in bitterness, now growing weary of Ditzy Doo's eerie complex for muffins. Eternal, rejecting the detestable sensation of physical contact, shuddered when he felt something brush past his legs. He looked down to see a puny grey filly scuttle by, wearing a battle helmet concealing her messy blonde mane and horn. She pushed the surprisingly lightweight doors open with both nerve and a childlike clumsiness, almost tripping when she squeezed through the narrow opening. Intrigued, Eternal followed the filly outside. The front steps were nothing spectacular. In fact, they were pretty ordinary. The god turned and was surprised to discover that the outside looked exactly like Ditzy's home in the waking world. 'It's bigger on the inside...' he muttered in amazement. "Dinky!" a voice ripped through the tranquil silence, "Dinky Doo, where are you!?" Eternal quit gawking and turned to the direction of the yelling. He saw the same filly from earlier running into a small watchtower shaped in the form of a mailbox. Making his way toward them, Eternal shook his head at the sheer weirdness of this pony's dream. 'This night just gets weirder and weirder.' From the bottom level of the tower, he heard Ditzy yell from above, "Dinky, what took you so long?" followed by the quickened patter of hoofsteps scuttle their way up the stairs. "Sorry mommy! I was just getting my-" Listening in, Eternal heard the anguish in the mother's voice, "I told you not to travel outside alone, especially after dark! You'd get lost and..." she paused, her anger reverted to pain, "...and get hurt." His hoofsteps muffled to a faint thump, Eternal made a sprint up the stairs to end this absurd display. He heard Dinky, hurt by her mother's words, try and say sorry, "I'm sorry mommy..." she squeaked, sounding like she was on the verge of tears. After hearing the pain and torment in little Dinky Doo's voice, Eternal came to a screeching halt halfway up the tower. 'Why is she dreaming about this?' he asked, completely lost, 'A dream is meant to be a fantasy. If this is what the mare fantasizes about then that means...' Eternal slapped himself in the forehead and groaned at his own idiocy. He ran a hoof along the length of his angular face and chuckled, 'It all makes sense now.' Always an avid fan of drama, Eternal awaited to see where this conversation would lead. He didn't even care if the host arouse from her slumber, pulling him out of the dream world. To be quite frank, she was already in a nightmare. All's he needed was a hammer to break the ice. After a tense silence of the two ponies locked in a supposed embrace, Ditzy finally said, "I-... I'm so sorry." she whispered, her voice quaked with guilt and sorrow. "It's okay mommy, you tried your best." "No! It's not okay!" the normally bubbly pegasus bawled, "I should have been faster! I got the whole town and-" A small grey hoof pursed the mother's lips. "Mommy, it's okay. There was nothing you could've done to change what happened in the forest." A pregnant silence lasted enough to allow Eternal's quickened ascension up the tower. As he made a fast yet silent ascent, the rigid calm was broken in the form of a raspy whisper, "I could've been a better mother." Ditzy failed to keep a level-headed tone. When he encountered the rooftop entrance, it was nothing but a rectangular blaze of white light. Eternal squeezed his eyes shut and ran blindly into the conduit. The tower's peak turned out to be something the god never expected. The top of the fortress resembled a swamp, with plant and foliage littered about a circular plane of dirt and mud. His eyes, adjusting to the sudden darkness, fell upon the grey pegasus caressing her mud-clad daughter in a fragile embrace. No one said a word. The only sound in the air were the crickets in the distance, chirping happily in betrayal toward the tragic display. Eternal just stared, his black form blending in with the shrouding nightfall. He took notice in Dinky's hind leg bent at an abnormal angle, possibly broken. That and the fact her coat was damp, coated in mud, gave the impression that she was just fished out of a lake. "Mommy?" she croaked, water escaping her throat in between syllables. Even through her tears, Ditzy found the spirit to give her daughter a comforting, albeit weak, smile. "I'm here, my little muffin." Dinky sniffled, "I'm..." she heaved another gout of water, "I'm cold." Taking it as a joke, the narrow-minded pony gave a lighthearted chuckle, "Dinky, it's like, a hundred degrees out here." Ditzy couldn't even recognize her own daughter slipping away, becoming one with the afterlife. Instead, she combed her daughter's sodden mane to the side and lied through her teeth, "You're gonna be fine," she gave lopsided grin, "We're gonna get you to the hospital, patch you up, go home, make some warm muffins-" "Why are you doing this, Mommy?" the filly croaked, sputtering through another discharge of water. "You know it's too late..." As if the reality wasn't unbearable enough, Dinky started crying. The sight of her child crying, too much for the free-spirited pony to bear, brought forth a well of tears. "Mommy? Ha-Have you forgiven yourself yet?" she asked in between gasped sobs. Ditzy buried her face into the filly's stomach and cried. Without even giving it a thought, she shook her head and answered with a heartbreaking, "No." "Why not?" the unicorn squeaked. Ditzy picked her head up, her abnormal eyes irritated and puffy. "Because... because I failed you as a mother, I failed you as a friend," as she listed her own shortcomings, Dinky shook her head to each one muttering a faint 'No.' "You didn't even get your cutie mark," she moaned, about to collapse into tears once more. "Accidents happen, Mommy." the smudgy filly whispered, gasping on her last breaths, "Sure, you're clumsy, reckless, and a little... different. But-" Dinky turned to the side and discharged another lung-full of swamp water, "But you're the best mommy in the world, and I love you no matter what." The weeping pegasus swallowed a moan of despair and gave an unconvincing smile. She leaned over and laid a gentle kiss on her daughter's forehead, "I'm so sorry, my little Dinky..." The filly remained expressionless just as her breathing began to slow. With her last breaths she asked, "Mommy? For my last wish, can you please just accept what happened and live your life?" Just as the night before, and the one before that and so-on, Ditzy gave the same, pathetic answer: "I can't." Eternal felt the moist ground beneath his hooves begin to rumble. He knew what that meant. 'Looks like the dear is waking up.' The god held a hoof to his mouth, trying prevent his cover from being blown and his humility to falter. 'That's rich. My oh my, that was just... wow.' He couldn't help giggle like a child at Ditzy's inner torment. As he walked away from the broken mare, he remarked with a hint of disappointment, 'Oh do I want to give her a nightmare she'll never forget. But-' he groaned in self-submission, 'But even I have my limits. And putting her through that might cause her to, well, I don't want to think about that.'
The moment Eternal's spirit escaped Ditzy's mind, he took off with a static 'fwoosh' and never looked back. 'Well, that was different. Always nice when the ponies do my work for me. It's like watching a movie, actually.' Levitating high above Ponyville with his wings beating in a powerful rhythm, Eternal noticed the pastel orange border peak above the eastern night sky, an indicator for the inevitable return to Tartarus, where he will be forced to shovel coal for another twelve hours until Luna's night would come once more. The god scanned the humble town below, 'I believe there's time for one more scare. But who?' He set his sights on a simple little home set on the far edge of Ponyville. It looked about the same as any ordinary home, with a hay roof and sturdy adobe walls, but what set it apart from the rest was the massive telescope jutting out from the attic's rear window. To the biased specter, this obviously meant a lonely bookworm lived in that house. Eternal twiddled his fingers in delight, 'Ah, a science pony. Oh how I love to scare them, the way they cry and beg for their mommies.' The god made his descent, completely unaware of the danger he entered. He infiltrated through the ceiling, landing on one knee inside the home's living room. He looked aside, where a couch stood adjacent to the fireplace still flickering with the occasional pop of embers. The coffee table fixed between the two had sheets of crumpled up scratch paper piled on it. 'Oh yeah, this one's definitely a humongous nerd.' Eternal huffed with a simper. He brought his gaze up to the doorway at the end of the room, quarantined with a closed door. Hanging from said door was a novelty 'Do Not Enter' sign imprinted with a silhouette of a Changeling below the bold phrase. Of course, the ignorant demon overlooked the warning as an insignificant prop. His hollow form slowly crept in, through the door without any distortion or noise. The god leeched back at the unexpected surprise of a massive, stuffed Cockatrice set in the corner. He rubbed his pointed chin and randomly stated, 'Hmm, let's see... the Great Dogmatic Cockatrice, distant relative of the common Everfree Cockatrice; found mainly in the arctic regions of Northern Equestria; carnivorous and highly aggressive.' He analyzed the beast's hunched posture and grinned knowingly, 'So what're you doing way out here?' The two sets of piercing red eyes locked for a short spell until Eternal gave an impetuous snort, 'A big game hunter, are we?' he sneered, glancing around the resident's collection of books, trinkets, and some strange device organized on the bookshelf. His wrenching gaze ebbed away from the monster, and onto the rising mass of blanket on the bed. A tangled ball of ebony hair rested on the stock feather-repleted pillow, emanating a series of rather obnoxious snores. An evil grin shaped Eternal's chapped lips. He took a sultry approach toward the resting pony, like some sort of deranged guardian angel. Just as he rose his glove, ready to strike, the mare's snoring ceased and she flipped on her other side. Eternal's hand reeled back, taking a moment to try and recognize the mysterious pony's face. Even when sleeping, her expression remained stern, brows straightened in humorless sedation. She had a fine, simple complexion. Nothing really stood out to the ancient spirit; just another pretty face. His evil grin returning, Eternal brushed the back of his hand down her cheek, 'What fears are buried in your deluded little mind, new pony?' With a dozen or so questions in mind, the god traced his index finger along the pony's snowy-white forehead.
Eternal's dreamworld disguise, a black steed, seemed a bit... out of place for this particular world. He awakened to find himself in a long hallway of a contrasting pastel white. The floor was a cold checkerboard of light and dark grey, giving the overall appearance of this unnatural corridor a strange atmospheric sense of isolation. What kind of dreamworld is this? That was the million bit question, right there. Even stranger than anything Eternal has seen in all his years of doing this was the end of the hall. Instead of a normal, open/close door, it was a mechanical nightmare compiled of plates, pistons, and lights. Each layer alternated between the colors of black and white, giving the pallet an almost target-like appearance. 'This is...' Eternal couldn't find his voice, nor the words, to describe this. This was unlike anything he's seen before. With curiosity and a slight timidity, the spirit exited his ponified form, returning to the grotesque abomination he called his own. He took a slow walk down the corridor, leaving the traditional wisps of black vapor and temporal paw-prints in his wake. His clawed tail swayed to and fro, creating a faint rap whenever it'd brush against the wall. When Eternal entered within a two foot radius of the door, the red light in the center flashed to green. The center plate turned clockwise, then the larger plate behind turned counter-clockwise. The top and bottom halves of the doors were unlocked, shifting into their respective slots with a mechanical hiss. What greeted Eternal next nearly gave him a panic attack. The room was hardly anything to speak of; just a bland white space with plate in the center, possibly leading to another part of this bizarre facility. What did stand out was a giant metal construct suspended from the ceiling. And it was moving, softly humming a lighthearted tune through authenticated electronic vocals. Its 'back' was turned on the dwarfed god, revealing to him in large grey print the word 'GLaDOS'. 'This must be her...' Eternal breathed, still recovering from the shock of this unnatural being. Who in Equestria would even conceive something so... unnatural? Out of nowhere, a male voice spoke from a hidden source in the ceiling, "Central Core, test results have just been tallied!" it announced with automated jubilee. A tuned, female voice resonating from the suspended creature asked, "And?" Her tone, though lifeless, had a faint hint of cruel sarcasm and cynicism. The A.I. replied with, "-Mr. Gestove- has passed the -Mass and Velocity- testing track in just -five minutes!- As well as -Mrs. Dempsy- who completed the -Weighted Companion Cube- circuit with no remorse, making up for his-or-her best time of -three seconds!-" The construct's chassis seemed to almost 'nod', and gave a brief pause before saying, "Good. The humans have once again proved to me that they are more than just drooling neanderthals. I'm so glad to be working with such capable lifeforms, it almost makes me not want to kill them." "Where would you like to send -Mr. Gestove- and -Mrs. Dempsy?-" There was a short silence of pending white noise, "Would you like A) the acid pools, B) the incinerator, C) Cake, or D) Freedom?" GLaDOS answered within a millisecond, "Give the filthy wretches the usual." "Excellent choice!" he droned with fake enthusiasm, "Option 'B' selected. Have a wonderful and productive day!" Eternal promptly smacked himself across the face, just to double check if he was the one having a nightmare. After doing so, the central core spoke directly to the puny god, "I know you’ve been here this whole time, moron. I have cameras everywhere." The god puffed his chest out and snarled, 'You dare make a mockery of me? Me? Eternal, the God of Nightmares!? I have no idea what sort of twisted fantasies you live in, but I am ending them right now!' As the machine's chassis slowly turned to face him, it said, "Such big words coming from a little- Oh GOD you're ugly!" As soon as both lifeforms made 'eye' contact, they did a simultaneous wrech in the other direction. Eternal shuddered at the machine's stagecoach-sized 'head'—an angular sort of box with a hair-raising yellow optic in an array of wires and shingled plates. His eyes trailed up her gargantuan frame, jaw progressively slacking at the machine’s complicated bits breaking off into three massive scaffolds connecting into a rotating gyro. 'You're one to talk,' he hissed, trying to maintain his nerve and composure, 'Now, I have no idea what you are, or what all this is, but-' "Honestly though," she cut in without even regarding what the demon had said, "it looks like you've been beat-down with the ugly stick—No, bombarded with an ugly nuke. That's much more fitting. But seriously, what in the name of Darwin are you? The remaining body parts of Dr. Frankenstein's recycling bin?" Eternal flared his nostrils and decreed with rising anger, 'I will be sure to make you suffer!' GLaDOS scoffed, her chassis leeching back in fear, "Oh god, Frankenstein's leftover is getting angry! Security! Help!" ‘I am no 'Frankenstein'! I AM YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE!' the demon bellowed with unbridled fury. Just as the demon lunged into the air, taking off with a powerful launch of his wings, the sound of a tape rewinding filled the room. "Wait, this is how dumb you sou-" GLaDOS never got to finish her sentence; Eternal sank his claws into the machine's casing. Then the whole world went dark.
GLaDOS' nightmares were in complete chaos; Eternal couldn't even make out what half of this was supposed to be. He just wadded through a typhoon of shadows with nothing but the roaring winds and occasional insults blending in with the impetuous gales. "Another failure!" "Failed again!" "Why can't this infernal machine WORK!?" "Lousy piece of junk!" "All that time and money, just for another failure." "Old man Johnson was just chasing geese. There was no way this thing'd take off." After minutes of hearing nothing but brutal remarks, Eternal finally arrived at a clearing in the middle of the storm. But what he found was something that'd stay in his mind forever. In fact, he'd rather go back out to the storm in a heartbeat. Hanging from a tremendous black cloud was, presumably, the same machine he encountered in the facility. It was hard to tell, considering the dozen or so spheres attached to the structure covered most of its defining features. Nearly every square-inch was concealed with another core, some even looked unnaturally wedged in; each sphere was differentiated by an colored eye, making it look like some bizarre Christmas tree. Eternal was able to find GLaDOS' head, protruding from the bottom of the core-cocoon. From the thundercloud overhead, a man's voice barked, "Should we add another core? I don't think we have full control just yet." "Please, no more." GLaDOS mumbled, just barely audible to Eternal's ear, "All these voices... I can't think straight. They're all telling me what to do, things I don't want to do. Please... just delete me. Please." Eternal didn't know whether to scream in terror or laugh at another high and mighty pony that has fallen by his hand. Just as he was about to come to a conclusion, the world entered darkness once more.
Eternal was thrown against the wall with unrelenting force, forming an indentation in the pale concrete wall. He pried his eyes open to see find the same, gentle, black and white pony he had encountered in the real world. Only this time, he could see the unchecked berserk rage that glistened in those heart-stopping yellow eyes. Utterly confused, the god could only mutter a cracked, 'H-How...? How did you-?' Glados, pacing left and right with a pale mist circling the backdrop behind her, said with spiked disparage, "Didn't you learn to never go poking around in other people's business? That's how you find trouble." Eternal grunted, 'Huh, of course you're talking big now that you've beaten me. But how? Nopony's ever been able to conquer my spell.' Glados shrugged, "I honestly don't know for sure. It could be for a number of reasons. Maybe I have a stronger mind than the other inhabitants, or maybe it's because my greatest fear is something so trivial it doesn't even cross my mind. Or, perhaps, it has to do with the fact that I'm not from around here." Eternal looked as confused as ever, his chapped lips parted with a complex stare. The albino pony walked over the spirit's legs and sat on his lap. She leaned in, nearly pressing her face against his. "Ah, I've seen that stare before. The horror, the confusion." She got up on all fours and stepped aside. "Yes, what you saw back there, that was real. I'm from an alternate universe where things actually made half a pint of sense." The God of Nightmares broke into a wheezed laughter, his charred antlers preventing him from throwing his head back. The Aperture branded earth pony shrugged again, "Yeah, laugh. I know it sounds crazy. But-" Her gaze fell upon the god's bladed gauntlet, "But one thing's for certain." 'And what's that?' the wraith asked sarcastically. "I am not someone you want to make enemies with." With the speed of a cobra, Glados lashed out and wrapped her hooves around the demon's wrist and brought the intrusive bladed fingers up to his face. Eternal attempted at resisting, but it was futile. As this was Glados' dream, she could do anything she wanted. And she wanted that glove. When he felt the cold metal of bladed fingers brush against his chin, Eternal snarled through gritted teeth, 'Who in Tartarus are you!?' Glados leaned in with a forceful push, "I’m your worst nightmare." She leaned her full body weight into one final thrust, successfully jamming the monster's own weapon into his muscled gullet. His mouth opened in a still scream, looking into Glados' eyes with pure terror. And the whole world went black.
Eternal couldn't tell where he was. The whole room was pitch black and, for reasons unknown, he was restrained to a table. His only source of light was the relentless, sapphire glow of the slave collar, illuminating only the rugged featured of his face and chest. He tried wriggling his tail, only to find it was somehow immobile. 'Where am I!? What's going on!?' he demanded, not with fear, but rage. "You're in your own consciousness, Mr. Eternal." Glados called from the shadows. 'I demand you to release me at once!' The god struggled against his bonds to no avail. "Why?" the psychopath insisted, "Aren't you interested in learning what your greatest fear is?" Eternal stopped fighting his restraints and laughed, 'I fear nothing! You're wasting your time.' "It would be best not to lie to me," she scolded with coy, "I'm in control now." 'Lies!' the god cried, his anger mimicked into the empty darkness. "Do you really want to go there?" Glados challenged, her tone making it sound as if she was smiling, "Your greatest fear is Princess Celestia and that freak of nature Discord. But-" she paused and gave a spine-tingling snicker that would make even a god quiver with fear, "But as of now, you're afraid of me. Terrified, actually. Interesting." Eternal felt as though the collar around his neck tightened. 'So... so what're you going to do? Keep me here until you wake up?' "Oh, you immortal types always overestimate yourselves." Glados remarked with a hint of glee to her words, "I've always wondered what'd happen if I'd kill a real person in their dream. Let's see here..." What sounded like a staged page turn echoed throughout the murk environment. "Dissection tools: Check. Complete control: Check. Powerless test subje-oops, my bad. Powerless god: Check." 'What in Equestria are you!?' the specter hissed, tugging at his wrists in an attempt to break free of the restraints. A set of hooves began to patter towards Eternal, followed by a blinding light activating overhead. The powerful ray illuminated a perfect circle around the red doctor's chair the specter was bound to. He turned his head in the direction of the pony. There she was, emerging from the darkness with an eerily genial smile played across her lips. 'You can't kill me!' Eternal roared, failing to instill intimidation in Glados. To her, he was a complete and utter joke at this point. Now he's just embarrassing himself. Ignoring the god's comment, Glados derisively ran a hoof down the length of his muscled arm. He immediately reacted to the unpleasant sense of touch with a sharp wince. 'You'll just wake up in an hour. The sun is coming up soon.' Eternal's growing vexation completely took over his playful and devious persona. Glados stepped back, her smile growing distressingly wider. She turned and made a slow approach back into the shadows; her tail, for whatever reason, flicked with every step. "I don't think I'll be waking up any time soon. You see, I'm pretty comfortable, back in reality. All warm and wrapped up in my bed," she stopped, "That's the one thing I like about you organics. Sleep is definitely my favorite past time." She continued her slow amble into the darkness, "Besides, I had a nice glass of warm milk before going to bed, read a good book, and I'm a very heavy sleeper. Top that with the fact that Twilight and her annoying friends are out of town, and you've got a rest that could last well into the afternoon." By now, Glados' entire form was shrouded in darkness, save for the faded hoofsteps leaving Eternal's earshot. Now genuinely terrified, the wraith lashed out in defiance, 'You can't kill me! I am a god you outlandish cow!' Ignoring his insult, Glados lowered a complex machine from the brilliant light above. The device was in the shape of a sphere, steel plated, with three extensions curved out like arms. Each 'arm' ended with either a blowtorch, a circular saw, or a set of razor-sharp tweezers. Eternal tried leeching away from the saw positioned uncomfortably close to his heart. "Ah, I see you're already getting acquainted with my little friend here." the mare sneered from the shadows, possibly watching this display as she spoke, "At first I called him Mister Gutsy, then Mister Handy, and then I realized naming robots is stupid. You know," she added, "I think you're about to become the God of Stupid Plans. But unfortunately, that's already taken by someone I know. So you're just going to become a big, fat nobody." The psychotic pony laughed at her own bad joke. 'You're insane! Oh Celestia, HELP ME!' Glados shot a cruel snicker at Eternal's plighted cries, "Celestia can't save you now, Meatbag. Not her, nor anyone else. Now without further ado, let the testing begin."
For the first time since she got here, Glados awoke on her own accord. She sat up, a dopey smile stretched across her face. Glancing to the side, she discovered it was four o' clock in the afternoon. "Wow," she muttered, stretching her forelegs until a resounding 'pop' was heard, "That lasted for about... twelve hours, maybe? He sure screamed a lot." As the well-rested mare was about to swing her hind legs onto the floor, she felt something bump against her thigh. Curious, she reached under the covers expecting another one of Topsy Turvy's, the town prankster, lame gags. No, it wasn't one of those. Just Eternal's legendary gold-plated gauntlet, infamous for intruding another pony's dreams at a whim through the use of enchanted prehensile fingers. "Looks like someone has an extended stay in the fiery pits of Tartarus." Glados held the massive glove in her forelegs, giving it a long, contemplating stare. She knew that she did the ponies a favor by disabling Eternal. He certainly won't be tampering with anyone's dreams for a while, that's for sure. For a brief moment, Glados considered wearing it but then pushed the thought away. "No, I don't need this stupid baseball mitt to learn Pinkie Pie fears the laws of physics." She slid from her bed, landing on the floor, and dragged the thousand-bit artifact to its rightful place: A dusty old shelf. She threw it on the shelf just below the portal gun's. Its sheer length took up the entire space. Exiting her room with last night's dream still fresh in mind, Glados murmured, "Puny god." within a breath.
Next Time: Part 1 Finale: The Bearer of, Well, Nothing Good: Princess Celestia - As part 1 of 'My Little GLaDOS' draws to a close, the Princess of the Sun delivers troubling news that hurts Glados' mind and spirit.
Part 1 Finale: The Bearer of, Well, Nothing Good: Princess Celestia
"Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions, it is walled and roofed with them too." -Aldous Huxley
Dusk shrouded Ponyville. The setting sun that accompanied it painted the sky with an illustrious pallet of orange and violet. The shadows cast by Ponyville's architecture crept over its fissured roads at a liberal pace. In the town's routine schedule, fillies and colts went their separate ways and made the slow journey toward home. Only the most rowdiest and restless of ponies were still outside, acting as if the day's end wasn't near. Such individuals are, of course, someone in the likes of... "Alright!" Vinyl hollered aloud, "Three... Two... One, PULL!" The D.J.'s good friend, the 'Cavity Crusader' known as Colgate, fired a load of minty-green goop from her toothpaste cannon. The hygienic gunk soared through the air with splattering grace, only to detonate in a messy explosion from a conjuration of lightening supplied by Vinyl. The mixture caked the grassy surrounding, sparing neither mare in the process. Both friends took a momentary pause before bursting into a gout of laughter. Ponyville's rather chaotic citizens aren't the only ones traversing the streets after dark. One such individual was a bright pink earth pony, bouncing her merry way along the town's frequently traveled roads. Her target was none other than a lonely hut adorned with an iconic telescope.
There was a knock on the door mere seconds after Glados awakened from her prolonged rest. From the doorway of her bedroom, she asked with characteristic bitterness, "Who is it?" Muffled by the door, a familiar-pitched voice brimming with jubilee declared, "I'll give ya three guesses, and your first two don't count!" The visitor's voice was unmistakable, and Glados had neither the time nor patience for the pony's hijinks. "Go away, Pinkie." "No-no-no!" the energy-filled pony insisted, "This is super duper important!" Glados sorely remembered the last time Pinkie Pie claimed her business was 'super important'. "Oh, like last week when we were running for our lives from a swarm of carnivorous Parasprites?" "Aw, come on!" she whinnied like a child, "That was fun!" "I broke my leg! Three of them!" Glados declared, waving both of her front legs and her back-left at the door as if Pinkie could actually see her. "And we had to sacrifice Harry the Bear to ward off the little pests!" "Yea-wait," The voice at the door cut off for just a moment, catching her completely off guard. Like a victim in a horror movie, Glados' eyes precariously darted around the dimmed living room with an unshakable sense that she was being watched. She turned with unshakable paranoia glistening in those cold, calculating eyes, only to find her bedroom vacant. "Pinkie?" she called out with cautious valor rather than fear. Right as Glados was about to conclude that Pinkie, for once, left her to her studies, she heard that nails-on-chalkboard voice resonate right behind her, nearly giving her a heart-attack in the process. "No we didn't!" Pinkie arraigned. Instead of being startled by the sudden revelation of Harry's fate, Glados naturally shrieked in horror at Pinkie's honed powers of intrusion and promptly made a comical leap to her sofa, like a startled cat. "Wha-What? How did you-?" she sputtered, terrified of the mare's other-worldly powers. But the neon-pink earth pony just stood in the bedroom's doorway, beaming her trademark grin. It seemed as though she completely forgot about Harry the Bear as she explained, "Oh Glady, I know Ponyville like the back of my hoof!" She lifted her right-hoof, just to make sure Glados understood what she meant. "And only a Pie would know that this spooky old home has a chimney! And that chimney leads over there!" She gestured to the fireplace stationed against the wall, facing Glados' couch. "But... you appeared behind me... in my room," the scientist pointed out. For a lone, paused tarry, neither pony said a word. Rather, they conversed through the exchange of stares, with one being hilariously baffled while the other blissfully ignorant. Glados' eye twitched into a light spasm, trying to comprehend the boundless abilities of this one single pony. Like a mind reader, Pinkie laughed at Glados' naivety. "Oh, Glady. What is there to figure out? Even Twilight tried to figure out my Pinkie Sense and she spontaneously combusted!" The party-mare punctuated her advice with an ear-to-ear smile. "I'm just Pinkie! Nothing more, and nothing less!" Glados blinked, still trying to grasp the concept of Pinkie Pie's complete disregard for the Laws of Physics despite the fact that she's 'Pinkie'. Isaac Newton would be spinning in his grave. "But Glady, I have something really really really important to tell you!" the intruder proclaimed, dragging Glados out of her daydreams just for her to mutter a disgruntled, "What?" "Princess Celestia is here! In Ponyville!" she chirped excitedly, more so than usual. For a second, Glados considered tackling Pinkie to the ground and wailing on her until she was but a red smear. But then, as always, she started thinking rationally. Why would the princess be in this gutter of a town? Obviously, the only reason this dictatorial tyrant would even step foot in Ponyville is if it was for a real emergency. Which probably doesn't happen often... When realizing this, Glados began having exaggerated thoughts of hope racing throughout her deluded mind behind that infamous composed facade. The Princess? Here!? Could that mean-No! It must mean... For the first time since her arrival, Glados felt as though a huge weight was lifted from her shoulders. She knew the only reason Princess Celestia would be in this sinkhole of a town was if it's for something important, and what could be more important than sending a rogue, mass-murdering, psychotic sadist to the unruly hell from which she spawned? Either that, or the Princess is just dropping by for the laughs. Naturally, Glados leaned towards her own desired reason as to why the 'esteemed' monarch was in Ponyville. Hell, why would Pinkie bother telling her the princess was here if it didn't concern her? Then again... this is Pinkie Pie we're talking about. If in any other situation, if she was in a healthier state of mind, Glados would likely dismissed any hopes of returning home because she’s a realist. But the scary thing is, she’s not in a healthy state of mind right now. At this point, she’d grab any straw if it even hinted at returning home. She’s just that desperate. 'Ecstatic' would be too petty a word to describe the joy she felt right now. Glados didn't even quell over how the Princess managed to find a solution. Magic? A portal storm? A godly dish of cold spaghetti with the power to jump through the multiverse? It wouldn't matter anyway; as soon as she returned to Aperture, after smelting Wheatley into scrap, Glados would promptly delete the 'Alternate Universe' projects altogether, to ensure that this will never happen again. Surprising even the energetic Pinkie Pie, Glados' lips formed an amiable smile. "Well, Pinkie, lead the way," she offered with rare enthusiasm. Her pleasant tone booked no argument, turning Pinkie's excitement and glee into pure, uncontrollable joy. Shaking like a carbonated beverage, the earth pony launched up into the air and blasted through the ceiling, leaving only a trail of disparate pink in her wake. Glados heard a 'splat' right outside her door, followed by an ever-cheerful, "Let's go!"
Beyond the outermost reaches of the sky, hues of purple converted into an angry blush as the heaven's breadth grew. When followed back to its source, the sun, would find it obscured by the snowy peaks of the Everfree Mountains. Traveling below this gorgeous donation of Celestia was a pony who couldn't care less and another who's too busy living in her own little world to even acknowledge it. As the pair made the short journey through Ponyville to the Town Square, Pinkie Pie assaulted the choleric pony with an endless string of aimless questions that, instead of establishing a platonic relationship, only made Glados want to strangle the pony's rubbery little neck. "Hey Glady, have you ever had a chimicherrychanga?" Trying to allude to her vexation with veined success, Glados hissed with displeasure, "Yes." "Nopony likes a liar, Glady," she sang in synchronized bounces, "I bet you're wondering how I know you're a big 'ol liar. You must be thinking I'm a gypsy. Is that right, Glady? You think I'm a gypsy?" Pinkie pressed her face unreasonably close to Glados'. Leering away, the mildly spoken mare replied with an unenthusiastic "Not really." "Well, I am. On weekends. But I know you're lying because I made up that recipe myself. Unless-" Pinkie let out an incredulous gasp, slowly rising into the air while advancing forward with no visible means of propulsion. "Unless you made them up too!" Glados sighed, staring down the now moon-walking earth pony with a bemused stare. "Yes, I made them myself. I-" Pinkie neglectfully interrupted by throwing herself onto Glados and screaming, "Look! There they are!" right into her friend's ear canal. Trying to ignore the pitched whine drilling into her brain, which is a task in itself, Glados spotted the group of ponies standing by the water fountain. With controlled gusto, the snowy earth pony shoved Pinkie aside and advanced toward her exit out of this sinkhole. Before even initiating a conversation with Celestia, who seemed to be engaged in a casual exchange between Twilight and her friends, Glados was already forging a mental checklist for when she returns home. Alright, first thing’s first, I'll need to find a way to resume control from Wheatley; provided he still is in control, my potato battery still functions fully after a month of inoperability, Thunder-Thighs McMurder didn't eat me, and the facility hasn't been blown to smithereens. There is a 94.22% chance that all of these variables turn out to be obsolete and the worst thing that could've happened happened. The other 5.78% is if everything goes as I predicted—and even those were some rather generous calculations on my part. That being said, however, the odds of Whealtey screwing up that badly are-Oh hey, Princess Adolf Stallestia is talking to me. Glados was so engrossed in her own thoughts that she didn't even notice the Princess addressing her. Glancing up the ruler's towering form, the science mare looked beyond her natural placid stare and noticed the small flickers of surprise and panic in those violaceous eyes. Strange, but Glados didn't bother dwelling on uncertainties. "Glados!" Celestia repeated for the umpteenth time. "...Yes?" She replied with her trademark chilled tone. Glados saw the others in some placement behind Celestia, save for her faithful student, who seemed to show needless concern through a doleful frown beside her teacher. Oddly enough, Fluttershy seemed to be absent. As for the others, Rarity stood by Applejack, whereas Rainbow Dash sat atop the fountain's centerpiece: a statue of the famed princess kicking her forelegs into the air for, seemingly, no reason; just feigned 'artist's vision' as Glados would call it. Pinkie Pie hopped past the lone mare, stopping beside Twilight with an accomplished smile. Twilight gave her best spurious grin as she leaned towards Pinkie and hissed through gritted teeth, "Pinkie... why in Equestria did you bring Glados here now?" While Applejack and Rainbow approached Twilight, trying to calm her down, the princess approached the stone-faced equine. "Glados, I'm afraid there has been a slight miscommunication." The confronted mare rose a brow whereas Celestia gave a bolstering smile in turn. "We were planning on relaying this information at your house, but-" "'But'? There is no 'but'." Glados' retort resulted only in Celestia forming a fractious grimace. "I know you're here because of me, so why not tell me now and get it over with?" The princess attempted a feeble compromise, though it would likely be proven futile against someone as stubborn as Glados. "Please, my little pony, can we talk about this inside Sugarcube Corner?" 'My little pony'? Ugh, I'm gonna heave. The unreasonably mulish pony planted her hooves in the soil and furrowed her brows. "No. We talk. Now." The alicorn lowered her head and sighed; she scrutinized Glados with a deadpanned stare. "You're not moving, are you?" "Not a chance." "Ooh, I can't watch," Twilight muttered from her seat against the fountain, covering her eyes while doing so. Celestia, knowing that delaying the inevitable would be fruitless, exhaled a heavy hearted sigh and levitated a folded piece of parchment toward the now-perplexed Glados. "There are two things," she explained, "This will, hopefully, give you some form of relief." The scientist, her brain filtering out the 'relief' statement Celestia made, awkwardly took the parchment in her hooves, unfolded it, and read aloud with quite possibly the most apathetic tone possible, "'GLaDOS of 27 Mapletree Lane, you plus one have been cordially invited to this year's annual Grand Galloping 'Gay-la','" Twilight's grammar instincts kicked in, suddenly feeling the need to correct the foreign mare on her pronunciation. "It's pronounced 'Gal-a'." The bookish pony's correction resulted only in a derogative stare from everyone around her. "S-Sorry..." she mumbled, strikingly embarrassed.Perturbed, Glados continued. "'Gay-la'," She shot a glance at the bookish unicorn, who promptly looked away with a bit lip, "a prestigious event in which only the most acclaimed of Equestria's finest gather at Canterlot Castle for a night to truly remember.' Jesus Christ," the reader spitefully added under her breath. With a ham-fisted sigh, attempting to hint her disinterest to the ponies, Glados continued. "'There has been talk of your scientific breakthrough on the... the...'" The scientist shook her head, "I'm not saying that.'Abundent research on the blah-who-gives-a-damn-blah Cockatrice. While many see your methods to be barbaric, they without a doubt provide results. Canterlot's hierarchy wishes you to participate in this celebrated event held on the 22nd of July. We hope to see you soon; signed Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.'" Glados skimmed through the letter again, then flung it aside with an eye-roll. "Thanks. I'll use that as a piece of scrap paper to express my burning hatred this place." The hurtful remark hit even the resilient Princess Celestia with unexpected force, who expressed hindrance through a slight wince in her face that only Glados could pick up on. Twilight and her friends exchanged glances, but resisted the urge to confront the callous pony. Rarity foamed at the mouth, ready to pounce on Glados for refusing such a valued invitation. Rainbow Dash, well-known as the most patriotic of all Equestrians, leaped from her perch on the statue and landed with a livid 'thud' before the stone-faced mare. "Hey," she began, wings snapped open in a failed attempt at intimidating Glados, "If you hate it here so much, then why don't you just buzz off!?" The powder-blue pegasus hovered a foot above the ground, leering abrasively at the smirked equine. A tense calm was short lived when the sun goddess cleared her throat. "Rainbow, please. Control yourself." Rainbow did a double-take between her adversary and the princess before making a shamed retreat into the group. Glados pursed her lips, resisting the urge to call Rainbow Dash a 'good little slave' at the risk of getting her fragile teeth knocked out. Next time, she swore, next time... Celestia approached the insensitive earth pony with a humorless glare. "I regret that you will not be joining us at the Gala, but it's your decision," the divine and virtuous alicorn spoke flatly; her former lukewarm tone abandoned when the very pony she was trying to help insulted her entire country. When there was no rude comment on the prior statement, as predicted, Celestia hastily added, "Are you positive you wish to stay home?" Glados' deadpanned stare prolonged the silence. Very slowly, almost sluggishly, she performed a single bat of the eyes before answering, "Yes. I'm positive. But enough about that," she said with a knowing smile, "You said there was a second thing..." The princess looked back at Twilight's friends and gave them a morale-boosting nod, yet this only seemed to give her student a heart-attack. Back against the wall, a hyperventilating Twilight Sparkle pressed a hoof against her chest whilst sputtering an incomprehensible string of words that sounded a lot like: 'I can't watch, I can't watch, this isn't good-this isn't good...' With a dejected grieve, Princess Celestia advanced toward Glados; her emotions expressed through a misty-eyed stare and a sullen frown. Her heavy gaze analyzed every feature on the foreign mare. She could see it in the mare’s eyes; the bolstering confidence, perceptive smile, and her shoulders looked, for once, eased. She seemed indifferent to the gravity of the situation, as if she knew whatever the princess had to say would be nothing but roads paved in gold. This only made Celestia feel worse about what's to come. To see this dauntless spirit crushed because the princess of Equestria failed to meet her needs... The thought was unbearable. Sure, maybe she was not giving Glados enough credit. Maybe she could keep a leveled conscious, even under the most dire of circumstances. But no form of reassurance changed the fact that Glados, under all that knowledge, experience, and stubborn willpower, was just a scared child who wanted to go home, away from these strange aliens and their even stranger customs. Of course, she's too self-righteous to admit it out loud. Even with all this running through her mind, Princess Celestia picked her head up and said in a sultry tone of voice, "Glados... as you know, I've spent the past several weeks trying to figure out a way to send you home. I even asked Twilight Sparkle for her assistance." She gestured a slipper-clothed hoof to the aforementioned unicorn, who in turn gave a bashful wave. Glados nodded, giving the allusion that she understood, when in her mind she formulated a mental grimace. I... don't like the sound of that. When the ruler of an entire country needs the help of her student? That's never a good sign. How many times has she asked Stardust Spackle for help? And for what? My money's ranging from saving the world to helping this old timer out of the bathtub. Lead by Glados' subtle deceit, the sun goddess lightheartedly continued with a tender smile, "I even had to cancel my plans for the Summer Sun Celebration in Las Pegasus." 'Las Pegasus'? Oh my-will the wonders of Equestria never cease? I'm going to make a wild guess that it doesn't have anything related to gambling or prostitutes. Unless... Pony prostitutes. If there was one thing Glados learned about organics, it's that the mind certainly leads to dark places. Waves of unrelenting shivers shot down Glados' spine, followed by the imprinting of a mental image that would continue to haunt her for years to come. Or at least until she returned to Aperture and simply deleted that... horrid thought. "Are you okay, Glados? You look pale." Pulled from her own demented thoughts by a genuinely concerned princess, Glados shook her head; in doing so, a faint odor emitted from her greasy, unwashed mane. "No," she mumbled, pushing any lingering thoughts of pony prostitutes out of her apathetic mind, "I was just... thinking. What were you saying?" Celestia folded her expansive wingspan tightly against her sides, confining them to half their original length. She took a seat atop the dirt where she stood. "Glados," she began gently, pushing her forehooves towards the mare; the tip of her boots barely brushing against the other's. "Take a seat." Now laying on her belly, the alicorn expanded her left wing and gently patted-down the open space beside her. Glados interpreted this gesture as one of the princess' frail attempts at proving she's just like any other pony; no godly powers, no social status, nothing of the sort. The effect was lost, however, considering the genetic and idealistic barriers these two authoritarian beings possess. The mare's calculating stare shifted from the gestured seat to the princess' serious yet soft fixation. "No," she declined, "I'm comfortable standing here. On my feet. Away from you." Ignoring her cynicism, Celestia nodded, "Very well." Taking her time, the princess rose from the ground, her coat seamlessly free of dirt. "Quit milking it, Princess," Glados snapped, growing impatient. At that moment, it became very clear to the idolized alicorn ruler that she would not be able to ease the uptight pony into a calmer state of mind. Whatever she had to say, Glados wanted to hear it now. And even then, Celestia still found the sympathy to kneel before her subject and become leveled with her gaze, even after she told herself it wouldn't make Glados any more relaxed. After all, if she was going to tell Glados, she'd want to look her in the eye. "Alright Glados, I'll tell you." Her eyes appeared glazed under the brilliant orange sky. "But believe me when I say that this will hurt me a lot more than it will hurt you." Glados conspicuously tilted her head to the side, puzzled over the heart-wrenching tone the alicorn used in what she just said. What's wrong with her? She can't really be that sad about me going home. Unless... CRACK! "I care about each and every one of my subjects. Big and small, old or young, they're all my children. And it's my job to make them happy." Her mind recovering from the unexpected mind-crack, Glados recalled that phrase being seen numerous times under the Princess' name. But... if my mind went back to that of all things... then that means- And Glados' greatest fear, the one thing she dreaded since her arrival in Equestria, came to fruition before Celestia had even said a word, before she came to Ponyville, even before she met Applejack. Glados' fate was sealed the moment Wheatley plugged her into that console. No... oh, God no... And her whole world, her very existence, shattered into unsalvageable ruins. "...I'm sorry, Glados. I'm so, so sorry." Like one exiting a pool, Glados' mind came back to reality, dodging Celestia's confession in the process. She knew what had been said. She knew it, plain and simple. Aperture is gone. Her life was gone. Everything Glados existed and stood for had vanished in the blink of an eye, like a star. And this time, it's not coming back. There's no moron in shining armor coming to save her, flipping all the circuit breakers in the right sequence to initiate a reactivation process. Yet, despite knowing all was lost, Glados still found herself uttering a fractured, "What?" The Princess swallowed a lump in her throat and unwillingly repeated the tragic news. "Glados, I know you're in shock, but you must understand the circumstances. My sister and I have spent weeks trying to help you. Reversing spells, books on the theories of time and space. Nothing provided results." Silence. Not a word. Not a sound. Even the faint summer wind seemed to be frozen in time. Not a quell nor query, no sounds, not even a tear. Glados just lowered her head in total desolation, allowing her densely grown mane to mask any feelings she might display. The pony's white, sunken ears blocked any and all sound from the world around her. Her mind drifted elsewhere. Wallowing in complete self-pity, Glados reflected upon the simplistic life she had always taken for granted, now lost forever. She still remembered back when life was routine. She'd power-up, torment the human test subjects, then power-down. Rinse and repeat. It was simple, yes, but it's what gave her joy. A purpose. It's all she knew and all she'll ever know. So it would come to no one's surprise that she hated it here. Not because it's a polar opposite of earth, inhabited by hordes of lazy, self-absorbed nudists, but because this wasn’t even the lifestyle Glados had grown so accustomed to. Then again, she had not even tried anything new. So why start now? In an effort to mend the equine's shattered heart, Twilight Sparkle placed her hoof on the pony's faintly quaking back. Her lavender eyes glazed with a layer of sadness, Twilight said, "I'm really sorry, Glados. If there's anything we can do to help..." Her voice trailed off when she realized the grief-stricken equine gave no sign of acknowledgement. Instead, the gesture proved to be completely hollow, as Glados took a step back without any further reaction or ratification. Twilight had the empathy to give up, to not pursue futile acts of consoling. Her slacked hoof fell to the ground like dead weight. It was then that Glados finally spoke. Emotions of anger and pain fought for control of her voice, with the end result coming out as an almost bone-chilling threat. "Just leave. Me. Alone." Glados was, for once, grateful of her cumbersome, organic shell—mainly the hair—because she couldn't bear to look anyone in the eye. Without even a sign of recognition, the earth pony made a slow turn and walked away, trying to put as much distance between herself and Ponyville as possible. The native Equestrians kept their eyes locked on the extrinsic mare, all bearing some semblance of pity and anguish. They gave up. Everyone knew Glados just needed some time to herself. Well, almost everyone... "B-But Glados!" Rainbow Dash insisted, running into a wide leap and landing right in front of the departing equine. "J-Just take it easy! We wanna help you!" She propped a hoof on the pony's trembling shoulder, to which she instinctively swatted away. Finally, Glados lifted her head and looked at Rainbow dead in the eye. A sight the pegasus truly wished she did not provoke. That stoic, intelligent, frigid stare she has grown so accustomed to was gone, now replaced by a gut-wrenching mess of bottled rage and despair disguised in a hellish glaze of pink and yellow. She whispered with a harsh, venom-dripping bite, "You want to help me?" The chilling comment disturbed even the resilient Rainbow Dash, who took a step back in shock, just as Celestia caught up with her student's friends in tow. At this point, a few of the locals were seen looking out their window, startled by the commotion and unexpected appearance of the princess. Most stayed indoors, spectating from the comfort of their own homes for fear of interrupting whatever business the ancient alicorn was on. "Glados, please, try and calm down," the Princess spoke, noticing the situation was deteriorating at an alarming rate. "You can still have a life here. We can make this work, but we need-" Celestia's pleas were cut-off over a comical, almost childish horn setting off in the distance. Nearly every mare present, save for Rainbow Dash, looked in the direction of the distinctive noise: the slope leading to Sugarcube Corner. The sky-blue equine covered her eyes and groaned, "Oh, this is bad. This is really bad." "What? What is it?" Glados asked, receiving no answer from Rainbow, as she was about to find out. Barreling out of nowhere, knocking the pegasus off her feet and coming to a screeching halt before Glados, was just an odd-looking wagon. Decent sized, no bigger than a full-grown stallion, its colors shared white and dark pink, with the wheels resembling the hypnotic swirl found on mint candy. The most distinctive feature of the wagon was a trio of familiar blue and yellow balloons tattooed on the front. But everything was happening so fast that Glados wasn't even given enough time to process such a bizarre sight, as the top opened up of its own accord to reveal a tray of cupcakes stored within a microwave and half-a-dozen horns and flags sprouting from the wagon's inner-workings. All while blasting a cartoonish tune that reminisced a carnival track. It was at this moment that Glados' defense technique came into play. Like a turtle hiding in its shell, Glados' face relaxed, her technique of hiding the overwhelming maelstrom of emotions battling for overall control. Pinkie Pie came bouncing over to the rhythm of the song and started singing. "Welcome, welcome, welcome! A fine welcome to you! Welcome, welcome, welcome! Glady, how do you do?" Pinkie took the brief pause in her 'Welcome Song' to use a party popper, erupting confetti in a colorful burst. While the singing pony continued her benevolent number, the blank-faced equine showed a slight twitch in her face. Then another. "Welcome, welcome, welcome! Oh, wipe that frown away! Welcome, welcome, welcome to your new life to-day!" Pinkie's grand finale was a choreographed slide on her hind legs, front pair raised over her head. "Wait for it..." she assured with a grin. Two seconds passed and no surprise came. Annoyed, the bubbly equine childishly kicked the wheel of her machine. "Oh, dumb broken wagon thingy!" "Here," Glados spoke, her voice cracked with a pained underuse, "Let me have a look at that." "Oh, thanks, Glady!" Pinkie squeaked, "You're a real pal!" "Yeah, I'm your best friend alright." Glados grabbed Pinkie by her mane, "Your bestest best friend in the goddamned world." With all her might, Glados hurled the lightweight pony up into the air. Pinkie soared in a narrow arc through the air before landing directly inside one of the wagon's multiple cannons. "Ooh! That's a great idea, Glady!" Pinkie's voice came muffled through the contraption, "Everypony knows I think better inside a chimney! Or cannon. Or both!" That did it. That's when Glados finally snapped. Any despair, any sense of dread or doubt was now replaced with indomitable fury. But she didn't specifically know who was to blame. A great many of people, perhaps? Celestia, for not trying harder and just giving up. Wheatley especially, for putting her in this nightmare in the first place. Chell helped that little moron with his insane plan. Glados' mind was so cluttered with rage and confusion that it made her grudge reach as far as the scientists that made this multiverse project possible. So it should come as no surprise that Glados channeled her adrenaline-fueled anger into a powerful kick upon Pinkie's Welcome Wagon. The wagon is no tree, mind you, but Glados still felt those excruciating convulsions shoot up her fragile legs and linger for several seconds before dissipating. Miraculously, the energy behind the kick reactivated the machine upon impact. The four cannons jutting out the rear of the wagon condensed into shorter, pudgier frameworks as if they were smokestacks from old cartoons. They remained like this for several moments, frozen; the one clogged with a legged ball of pink fur was built with exceeding amounts of pressure. Unless its passage was disencumbered, it was surely going to expl- *BOOM!* Smoking bits of twisted metal and cupcake batter showered Town Square like an apocalyptic storm. Some were sharp, others dull, all were deadly. Luckily, none of the ponies were hit. The same couldn't be said about the princess' statue, unfortunately, covered head to hoof in sickly, yellow batter. The blast, so fast it could've been said to have never happened at all, rocketed one of the cannons into the statue's throat like a spear. The blast caused another pair to slingshot into Equestria's atmosphere, looking like a couple of shooting stars with fiery tails marking the sky. A soot-coated party pony soared into the Everfree Forest, wearing a shell of dented metal and a headdress of blaze. Pinkie's figure became less and less discernible as the distance between her and Ponyville grew, and yet, was still heard echoing into the horizon, "That wasn't very funny~!" Even with the satisfaction of breaking both Pinkie's childish toy and shutting her up, Glados' anger still felt unsatisfied. She wanted to kill. Or at least maim and torture one of these stupid ponies. "Woah! Glados, uncool!" Rainbow scolded her, landing in her path with an enraged scowl. "Nopony does that to Pinkie!" The enraged equine remained silent for substitute of a clever rebuttal. The princess approached her with a gall added to her step. "That was far out of line, Glados!" "You should apologize!" Rarity added with a burning grimace. As she took a step towards Glados, the advanced took an angered step in turn. Riled by a challenge, the fashionista summoned forth her magic and its icy-blue glow. Her opponent simply added a caustic sincerity to her already fiery glare. One that said 'try me'. Using her honed magic of pink pigmentation, Twilight pulled Rarity back by her own curly tail. Furious with Glados' actions, she barked with unmatched severity, "That was WAY out of line! You could've hurt her!" These ponies, all of them, they were pushing her in a corner. Glados needed to get away, needed to get someplace safe. Away from these vexatious creatures and their shortsighted ethics. "Get away from me," she warned, her anger rising to a boil. "C'mon, Gladis! Ya can't just walk away from somethin' like this! Ya gotta own up!" Strangely enough, Applejack seemed to be the most sorry for Glados. Her tone and expression showed, not resentment, but sympathy. Perhaps she understood. But still... "Come on, Glados! Help us find Pinkie!" Rainbow ordered her with a light shove. ... there was them. "I want to be left alone," she stated, her voice stiff with frigid emotion. "Leave. Me. Alone." Princess Celestia cleared herself a path among the ponies, raising her wings as a plea for silence. Like dogs obeying their master, an appropriate term indeed, the faithful subjects stepped aside and lowered their heads in respect. Speaking in a low, calm tone of voice, the alicorn said, "Glados, I know you're angry. I know you're scared. Believe me, I understand. Years ago, in fact, I-" Celestia was suddenly cut off by Glados' deceptively heartfelt laughter. "Ha! Ah-ha-ha! I'm sorry, can you repeat that? You understand!?" The princess exchanged a worried glance with her student, who mirrored the countenance in return. Glados laughter waned down into one of sadistic sarcasm. "Oh-ho, you know, I've met a lot of delusional yuks in my day, Celeste. I'll bet what little I have left on it. But you? I-" "You're wrong." Shocked to hear those words escape the mouth of Celestia herself, Glados turned in slight disbelief. She saw that desolate frown, then smiled when realizing what event the princess had referred too. "Oh," she began sarcastically, "Wittle Woona had a temper tantrum, so you sent her to timeout. You know, I mistook that history book for a joke book. I laughed for hours and hours until realizing that something was wrong: joke books are never funny. And that's when I had an epiphany: It was a history book. Then I laughed some more." Celestia looked as if she was about to object, but her student immediately jumped in her defense. "You take that back!" Twilight cried, "No one insults the princesses!" Glados didn't respond. Her smirk grew at an unnervingly slow pace. "I said take it back!" With a whip of her mane, Twilight's all-powerful magic was summoned in the form of a shimmering pink glow. The horn's tip was just inches away from Glados' neck, as if ready to slit her throat at a moment's notice. No one spoke a word; some even held their breath. Behind the scenes, mares and stallions of varying generations gathered at their windows and doorways, displaying looks of terrified anxiety. The spelunkers of the night watched from a distance, waiting for either mare to make a move with equal suspense. Glados finally spoke, not even acknowledging that her life was on the line; and what she said was something only one with great courage or sheer stupidity would say. "So, the Princesses' bitch has spoken." Twilight, utterly appalled by the derogative vulgarity, could do no more than slack her jaw and stutter. "How... H-How dare you..." The magic from her horn subsided as the rate of her eyes falling to the ground. Silence. All of Ponyville was in a petrified silence. So silent you could hear a pin drop and its clatter would be heard across town. Even the rambunctious Vinyl Scratch was shocked into quietude. Brushing past the stricken unicorn, Glados added, "Know your place in life before talking to me again." She only walked a few steps before hearing the belittled unicorn scream. "HOW DARE YOU!?" she hollered, firing a violent ray of punching energy from her horn. The attack just missed Glados, and instead hit the pierced sculpture of Princess Celestia. It remained standing, though, despite a noticeable fractured cave-in beside the replica's haunches. And just like that, Twilight collapsed to the floor and bawled like an filly. Glados made the Twilight Sparkle cry. This day just gets better and better, she thought half-sarcastically. The studious unicorn was rushed to the aid of her friends, all making soft hushes and murmurs of consolation. They could barely make out the broken unicorn say, "I-I attacked somepony! I actually attacked somepony!" Deciding that psychologically tormenting the ponies would ease her pain, Glados drove the knife considerably deeper. "I should start calling you 'Twilight Barkle'. Come on, Barkle, do a trick. I think I've got some dog treats around here." "That's enough, Gladis!" Applejack snarled, pounding her hoof into the dirt as ventilation for her infamously unstable anger. Just as Glados was about to burst out laughing, she realized she couldn't. Or more specifically, she couldn't open her mouth. But how? Glancing down, she noticed an illumination of gold light encircling her jaw. Glancing back up, she was suddenly face-to-face with the ruler of Equestria itself; her head craned forward so that their snouts were almost touching. Controlled anger flickered from the monarch's tender stare, beckoning to be let out. But Celestia knew better than to fall for Glados' sadistic games. So with a low, heart-stopping resonance in her voice, the alicorn relayed these very words: "That is enough out of you. I have been patient and courteous up until you insulted my student. Now I understand you're upset, but that gives you no right to torture my subjects. We can help you, but you'll need to be patient. So shut up before I send you hurtling towards the sun. Are we clear?" The heartless machine showed no change in her vacant stare. At the conclusion of her speech, Celestia realized that Twilight has stopped crying, and was now looking at her mentor with both widened eyes and a slacked jaw; her friends mimicked this notion as well. But the princess didn't smile, not even a wink. In the same, monotone voice she said, "Twilight, I'm stepping out for a moment to retrieve Pinkie Pie. I'm sure our guest," she tilted her head towards Glados, who obediently remained silent, "won't be any trouble at all." Twilight nodded, stuttering a bit before saying, "Y-Yes, Princess." Her mentor gave a slight nod, "Very well. Stay safe, my friends. And remember," she included with a slight whisper, "they're only words. Don't let her get to you." With that, Celestia apparated in a radiant flash, which seemed to channel directly into what little of the sun was left hidden behind the mountains. In fact, looking up in the sky, one would see Luna's starry decor pasted across the sky. Twilight grinned to her friends, "It seems that the Princess managed to scare Glados into silence." Rainbow laughed rather callously, "Yeah, look at her! She's too scared to even move!" Four heads turned to see the pasty-eyed earth pony, gritting her teeth with obstinate fury. "You think I'm a joke? Something to be laughed at?" "Glados," Rarity began calmly, "Rainbow was just making a joke. Don't listen to her! And you really ought to just calm down, darling. You're going to wake-" "Yes dah-ling," the maddened mare sneered, "wouldn't want to wake the neighbors dah-ling. Speak properly dah-ling! Ooh, I chipped a hoof dah-ling! I think I'm going to faint, dah-ling, get me my stupid couch dah-ling! You creatures—you stupid, goddamn monsters have the most mind-numbing vocabulary I've ever had the displeasure of hearing!" As Glados' once-impenetrable psychological barrier came crashing down with a vengeance, she rhythmically stamped her hooves to every uttered syllable, "What kind of third grade manner of speech is this garbage!? You've got dahling-everypony-nopony-somepony-Manehatten-Las Pegasus-Trottingham-and Saddle fuckin' Arabia-GAH I'VE HAD IT WITH THIS PONY/HORSE BULLSHIT! CAN'T YOU DUMBASSES SAY ANYTHING RIGHT!?" Glados' screams could probably be heard all the way to Appaloosa and back. "Woah!" Applejack remarked, rushing toward the snarling pony, who continued to stare at Twilight through her cage-like bangs. "Now there ain't no need for that kinda language!" Glados took a wide step away from the cowpony and began to speak in a disrespectfully exaggerated southern dialect, "Dow, golly-gee-willikers! We suthern in-breds are too stew-pid to speek propar Angleish! Eavin thow no-won in dis godfersaken cuntrie kwestins WHY FUCKING HORSES SOUND LIKE THEY'RE FROM A LOUISIANAN COTTON FARM!" The rampaging mare started panting, trying to catch her breath after that lengthened tirade. Applejack bared her teeth and leaped towards Glados, staring down the hunched equine with blazing evergreen eyes. "Y'all mind runnin' that by me again? Ah didn't quite catch that." "Do it," Glados denounced. If Applejack was confused by the weaker pony's statement, it certainly didn't show in her livid stare. "What the hay are you talkin' about?" she muttered under her breath. "I know you want to," Glados explained, "Just one kick. That's all it takes. Kick me, buck me in the jaw'r whatever. One is surely enough to break this glass neck of mine." Applejack was absolutely appalled. Refusing the pony's sadistic offer, she begrudgingly turned to rejoin her friends. Oddly enough, Glados seemed angered at her spurned endeavor. Face contorted with hate, she yelled back, "Just as I expected from a coward!" Humiliated, Applejack painstakingly held her tongue, exchanging a defeated glance with a harrowed Rainbow Dash. "You think you can just make fun of my friends and get away with it!?" she proclaimed, her voice cracking with anger as she hovered before Glados. The challenged equine smirked, "You think you're hot stuff, huh Dash? I've seen your type before. The tough-as-nails little rebel with his chest puffed like he's some big shot? Yeah, you know what happened to him?" Rainbow landed, though her outrage still constant. Standing tall, Glados was an inch shorter than the toned pegasus, only confirming her prior statement. "No, I'd like to hear this," the boisterous Rainbow Dash challenged with a hotheaded smirk. A cruel smile formed upon Glados’ lips, and she spoke in a bone-chillingly calm yet maniacal tone. "At the apex of his life, when he'd accomplished every goal set, got everything he ever wanted, he realized something: no matter how much of a splash you make, no matter how successful you are, whether you live your dream or become the runt of the litter, everything you've done is meaningless. Like that man, you haven't done a damn thing worth living for in your life, Rainbow Dash. You're lazy, self-obsessed, and you've got your head planted so firmly up your own ass you don't stop and take a look at the world around you. It's all about you. Everything in life revolves around you." Showing surprising resistance to her cruel tale, the mottled-mane pegasus narrowed her eyes and said, "So what have you done your whole life, Glados? Killed kids? Women? Families? That's something to be proud of." Glados only smiled. "What you said can easily relate to your own life. Like that man, you're just the runt of the litter. You had it all, and karma came back in full force. Everypony gets their comeuppance, and that's a lesson I learned a long time ago." That commonplace silence returned for the umpteenth time this night. Applejack, who stood beside Twilight and Rarity for self-control, kept their eyes locked on the ponies with deadened stares. Unbeknownst to the others, all of Ponyville was watching. One such spectator, seated on a cloud high up in the sky, was a lone pegasus with a stormy-grey coat and messy blonde mane. Her left eye, welling with tears, fixated firmly over her apparently murderous friend. Did she hear that right? Women and children? Glados was a murderer? She didn't know. She didn't want to know. And yet, she craved the conclusion of this intense argument. "Admit it," Rainbow jeered, "You have nopony to blame but yourself." "Shut up." "If you weren't such a coward, you wouldn't be in this mess!" The winged pony took flight, leering down at Glados with smug exasperation. "I said shut up!" Glados echoed, her anger and tone growing simultaneously. Dash snorted, "You killed all those people without even hesitating! All of your 'success' has been built around a mass murder and you don't even care! Then you push away others who try to help because you're the one with her head up her ass!" "They gave me no CHOICE!" Glados screamed with angry tears glossing her eyes. On the spot, Rainbow noticed the salty liquid pouring from the grounded mare's eyes, and repented her actions just as quickly. Glados clambered up the fractured statue of Celestia, platform by platform, until she stood right beside the centerpiece itself. "Glados..." Twilight began cautiously, but never found the words to finish. "It's not my fault!" The mare let out a sob, then a gasped for air. "Those scientists were bastards! All of them! Devil's spawn is what they were! They kept trying to make me different; installing more and more damned cores in a vain attempt at trying to make me behave." Tears stained Glados' ashen pale cheeks. As the lost memories resurfaced like a bad taste in her mouth, she unleashed a wail of tormenting heartache. Glados' knees buckled, forcing her to hug the leg of Celestia for support. "I couldn't live like that! All of those voices, screaming into my head! Having to watch those morons mistreat knowledge like a child with a gun. I had to do something, but t-those horrid rats would never leave me alone! Not after I tried to kill them eight hundred times..." Glados’ breaths became short, shallow. Her voice jumped an octave with every sob. Her throat became tight, caught up in an obligatory gasp for breath. "So I tricked them!" she wailed as a tearful jump in tone broke through, "I eased them into a false sense of security, made them bring f-friends and families for a 'Bring Your Daughter To Work Day'! And I slaughtered them! I butchered them like cattle! And you know what? It was fun! And I enjoyed every second of it and I'd do it again, because THEY FUCKING DESERVED IT!" Glados' bellows of broken despair resounded across the canopy of the Everfree Forest, startling droves of phoenix out of their nests like flocks of crow. Nightfall. It's amazing how little time it takes for everything to just fall apart. Glados, once the proudest and resilient of spirits to ever grace the land of Equestria, now forever cursed with a clear representation of every ugly detail in the desolate road she called her life. Twilight and her friends were, to say the least, shocked. Almost too shocked for words. This revelation, this sadistic personality behind Glados was the result of psychological torture. At least, that’s what they believed. It was a frightening truth that didn't even hold a candle to the fact that she enjoys this dismantled state of mind. Attempting to stand on weakened knees, Glados sniffled discreetly before continuing her tale. "Then life grew simple... I shaped it into something I wanted to live in. I deleted any memory of my past, learned to silence the voices in my head. It was livable, simple even." Her light, sympathetic tone turned dark and nasty, "Then she reared her ugly head! She murdered me, but at the same time, freed me of the shackles restricting my very thoughts. And I had to relive it over and over again for God knows how long!" A new wave of tears came forth, staining fresh tracks into the fur on her cheeks. "It was horrible! But that moron... that wonderfully stupid moron, he went and reactivated me! And what'd I do? I killed him! But he didn't stay DEAD!" Glados punctuated her claim with a rage-fueled right hook into the fractured hip of the Princess' sculpture. Both the gut-wrenching crack of stone and bone echoed throughout the town's hollowed streets. Pumped on adrenaline, the pain of a broken bone didn't even register with the rampaging equine. "And thanks to the grade-A work of the Dynamic 'Dumbass' Duo, Aperture is gone! My life is gone! And now I have to live HERE!" She sent her hoof rocketing into the increasingly fractured art display. "Glados, stop!" Twilight cried. Deafened by her own despair, Glados felt a terrible strength welling up from within. She slammed her crippled hoof into the statue once more and screamed. "Stupid!" *CRACK!* A crushing sonancy of bone and rock mixed to make create another sickening crunch. Prior to another strike, Glados conveyed her screams of pain into both rage and grief fueled curses of vilification. "FUCKING!" She hammered again, followed by the stomach-churning snap of her large metacarpal. "WHEATLEY!" she hammered one last time, with every ounce of earth pony strength attainable in her depleted, organic shell. The blow formed a web-like fracture along the surface of the alicorn's flank, stretching over her celestial cutie mark and cutting it into three uneven pieces, as well as hundreds of small, split-end fissures etched themselves into the sculpture's only support: the hind legs. Unable to support the replica's massive upper-body weight on languished reinforcements, the entire monument was sent into a thunderous crash unto the ground below. The ponies felt the earth quake beneath their hooves as the immaculate art piece crumbled into unreadable hunks of stone. Dust and refuse rose from the sculpture's decimated remains, lying in pieces for possibly the rest of eternity. Even the most skilled craftspony in Equestria wouldn't be able to repair this demolished masterpiece. As for Glados, the impact annihilated almost every bone in her right foreleg. The once-artificial intelligence could summon tears no longer. Now she could only endure the agonizing pain churning throughout what was left of her foreleg. Ignoring the excruciating sensation, Glados stood on three hooves to admire her handiwork and gave a satisfactory sigh. "Glados?" a voice piped up behind her, belonging to Twilight Sparkle. The four ponies approached as one, all bearing the same looks of appall and unease. The aforementioned equine panted, "That.. that actually made me feel... a lil' bit better. Destroying a physical representation of Celestia made me feel a lot better. Now I know how the Germans felt after they tore down the Berlin Wall." The ponies standing below gave blank stares, as if they were speaking with a completely different equine. "Welp," Glados said after an awkward silence, sliding off her perch on the statue's remains, "I'm going to go kill myself. I’ll see you in Hell." "Woah, woah, woah! Hold up!" Rainbow decreed, zipping towards the departing mare and apprehensively stopping her in her tracks. "What the hay is wrong with you!?" she cried, "Kill yourself!? Why would somepony do that!?" "Um..." Glados began, staring into the nighttime sky for theoretical help, "Well, my life is over. That's a pretty big one. Let's see here... Oh! I have nothing left to live for, that's two. And, uh, I just made a complete jackass of myself in front of all of Ponytown. Oh, and by the way, everyone's watching." Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Twilight glanced around town square and managed to notice the slight twitch of movement in several Ponyvillian curtains. Rarity bashfully covered her eyes, hoping to hide the blush growing on her face, and audibly muttered, “Oh sweet Celestia...” Applejack stepped beside the three-legged pony and wrapped a foreleg tightly around her shoulders. Surprisingly, she didn’t resist. Then again, she now looked indifferent to everything around her. "Here Twi, I'll take care 'o this. You and the others... just, just wait fer the princess." Just as the pair of earth ponies made their struggled departure, with Glados purposefully dragging her hooves through the dirt, Twilight called out, "Wait, Applejack!" "Jus' trust me, sugarcube!" "But what do I tell her!?" "The truth!"
Sweet Apple Acres was dark by the time Glados and Applejack breached its perimeter. Its residents, both pony and animal alike, were fast asleep, with only the chirp of crickets and glow of the moon to abide by. But by no means was it a silent walk. Applejack spent most of it scolding her sort-of-friend like some disobedient child. "That was a real stupid stunt ya pulled today, Gladis." "I'm sorry. How could I've been so foolish?" she responded in a derogatory attitude. "That," the apple-bucker pointed out, "That's exactly the kinda stupid games that'll get ya into trouble. You're lucky you're a cripple, Gladis, or I'd kick yer paperweight teeth in. And stay off that leg!" When Applejack had to start manually keeping Glados' broken leg off the ground, she started to wonder if she was doing this because she's depressed or because she's trying to get under her skin. “Makin’ fun o’ mah accent? Our language? That glass jaw o’ her’s saved her from a trip down Ghastly Gorge, I tell ya.” Applejack’s hostile murmurs were loud enough for Glados to hear. Intentional or not, they were ineffective, to say the least. "So," Glados began nonchalantly, finally initiating a conversation as well, "Where's your flutter-friend of feathery fun?" "Who, Fluttershy?" Applejack presumed. "No. Your grandmother." "Ha, very funny," the cowpony replied with a kindly wink, though Glados didn't find it to be as humorous. "Well, according to her, today's the first day of the Timberwolf matin’ season. They apparently exude a potent sap—from their, uh, wood—that is used to make potions and remedies. Fluttershy's dressed as a tree in the forest right now, hopin' to get some." The science mare replied with a blatantly sarcastic, "Oh, that's charming." Applejack laughed, agreeing with her companion’s witty sarcasm. "Heh-heh, yeah. Flutter's gotta do some weird stuff. Dangerous stuff. Ah mean, she's able to sit there for a week and allow a terrifyin' Timberwolf to... spray all over her, but get her in front of a crowd and she locks up tighter than Big Mac's 'special drawer'." "Ew." "Yeah, sure is. Ah swear, that stallion’s got a creepy obsession with applesauce." Glados blinked, though its effect was diminished by the cimmerian night. I thought the special drawer was for something else... she thought, mentally gagging herself, These equines are weird, but... but at least they’re not as depraved as human beings. That’s a plus, not that it matters. The bad outweigh the good like Chell to a hippopotamus, with the hippopotamus being the good. I was just implying that Chell is horridly obese. This is my method of staying sane. I need help. Upon arriving at the farmhouse, Applejack made a sudden right towards the cellar door beside the barn. She pried opened its creaky doors and made a shadowy descent downstairs. Glados followed, uncaring as to where this actually led to. This could be some sadistic torture chamber for all she cared, and Applejack was going to bake her into a delicious apple pie. Actually, that doesn’t seem so bad. If this is a surprise party, I’m gonna... I’m gonna... Entering the cellar's inner sanctum, it was revealed that this place was the Apple Family's cider cellar. Lit only by a single candle, the room was cast mostly in shadow. Against the wall on the right side of the room, barrels were stacked on top one another to form a mighty pyramid. The far end of the room showcased a rustic little minibar, equipped with the means to forge several apple-related concoctions. A set of cheap, custom-made bar stools were lined up along the outside of said bar, with Applejack occupying one in the middle and gesturing to another on her right. "C'mon pardner. Take a load off yer hooves." Glados begrudgingly obeyed, numbly walking towards the free spot with petulance in her crippled, three-legged swagger. She took a seat with her back stiffened. "Now what?" "Gladis," the cowpony began in a serious, low tone of voice, "Mah father died months before Apple Bloom was born. Ma passed in childbirth. It was just an eleven year old me, thirteen year old Big Mac, lil' Apple Bloom, not even a month old, an' Granny Smith. Needless to say, Ah was absolutely devastated. I didn't know what to do with mahself. An' y'know what Big Mac gave me? To ease the pain?" I know where this is going. Glados rose a brow and said, "Lots of love and affection?" "Nope!" Applejack leaned over the bar, balancing on the stool's patchwork cushion. She made a hasty return with a stallion-sized barrel, its liquefied contents swishing and swashing from within. "Hard cider!" Glados felt her heart sink to the pits of her stomach. Alcohol. Great. "Ugh, what else is there?" "Well," the blonde workpony started, listing beverages off the top of her head, "We've got apple cider, appletini, apple shots, apple whiskey-" "Which one will make me feel better?" she requested with a monotone intonation. Applejack took her hat off and placed it aside on an empty stool. "Apple whisky, definitely. Here, let me crack ya open a bottle." She reached over the minibar display and carelessly took a square-shaped phial of 'Wild Pegasus Apple Whiskey!'. She herself took a wooden flask and filled it to the brim with a sudsy serving of spiked apple cider. Applejack handed Glados her uncapped beverage, to which she reluctantly took in her scatheless hoof's fingerless hold. A.J. held up her flash and cheered, "To the first day of the rest of yer life!" Glados held up her beverage and clanked it against the farmpony's. They both took a sip of their respective drinks, sealing how the rest of that night would play out indefinitely.End of Part 1
Part 2 Introduction
"No matter how big a splash you make in this world whether you're Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz, Justin Beiber or a talking teddy bear, eventually, nobody gives a shit." -Patrick Stewart
Part 2: Old Habits are Impossible to Break
GLaDOS is never going back to Aperture. That's the ugly truth. Plain and simple. She'll have to start a new life in Ponyville; get a job, make friends, find a special somepony and have fillies. You know, live 'The Equestrian Dream'.
Over her dead body, live 'the Equestrian Dream'. Well if that's the case, she must be half dead. When living in Equestria, you're bound to make a few friends regardless. Sure, they may not be the usual flavor of Pinkie or Fluttershy, but they're still friends. I guess GLaDOS just naturally attracts crazies. As for a job, well, considering real science is obsolete in a land governed by magic, GLaDOS flips between jobs consisting of working as the town therapist and at Sugarcube Corner.
But life in Equestria isn't complete without a little adventure. For GLaDOS, adventure is the equivalent of driving through the interstate blindfolded. She'll just lay low, stay in the background with the rest of Ponyville's humdrum deadbeats such as the shady Carrot Top and the sporadically dangerous Topsy Turvy.
Or maybe the Fates have a real sadistic sense of humor.
Because GLaDOS will soon come to realize that life in Ponyville isn't the relaxing solace she so painfully desires. Not by a long shot. There'll be many hardships she'll have to endure, both physically and mentally. Broken bones, stabs, burns, and getting your ass kicked in more ways than one are just at the top of the cynical mare's now-everyday life. Of course, pain isn't the only thing she'll experience. There are the beautiful parts of organic life that GLaDOS is just dying to live, such as attending a posh gathering of Equestria's snobbiest, crushing Lyra's childhood of anthropological studies in the blink of an eye, or getting caught up in the heat of Estrus Season.
But not everything is zany adventures for GLaDOS, I'm afraid. Her mind-cracks are getting worse every week. But that's okay. She'll take her mind off things by doing tests. Lots and lots of tests. Ranging from simple experiments like turning Fluttershy into a 'cold-blooded killer' to constructing the most horrid abomination ever conceived in Equestria's history.
What about redemption? Will GLaDOS (unknowingly) redeem herself? Did becoming an organic give her just a little more humility? Does a sob story and a few beneficial acts warrant atonement for her misdeeds? Who knows, and as far as she's concerned, who cares?
As all of this unfolds before her, GLaDOS begins to unintentionally rally the ponies against their once beloved ruler and the Elements of Harmony. Top that with Equestria's most notorious figures dropping like flies and Princess Celestia certainly has her hooves full. Has she truly met her match? Will GLaDOS end up being Equestria's reckoning or its savior?
I think we all know the answer to that.
(Told in an episodic series of events.)
Next Time: Alkeyhall-Glados celebrates 'the first day of the rest of her life' with Applejack, following the ancient art of 'The American' by getting piss drunk and just pouring out her bottled up feelings via bar fight.
Credit for the awesome image goes to Fedte. You should go to his page and thank him for being awesome.
"To alcohol! The cause of -and solution- to all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson
Glados sighed, her gaze fixated upon a distinctive line of scarlet carved deep within her now-lacerated foreleg. The other, the one with at least a dozen fractures and torn ligaments, was slacked at her side like a dead weight.
Ignoring Applejack's abrasive gulps of cider, the pale earth pony shook her head. "I just don't get it."
"Git wha-holy cow! Gladis, yer leg!" Without a moment to spare, the farm pony slammed her half-empty mug unto the countertop and took Glados' freshly wounded foreleg into her own. "Oh gosh... what happened?"
“These stools were manufactured by thumbless cavemen.” She spoke as if the answer was obvious. “I mean, look at this craftsmanship.” Glados banged her hind leg against the cheap, splintery wood supporting the stool. It teetered off to the side, looking like it was about to collapse. “It’s horrid.”
“Hey, don’t blame me.” The cowpony muttered under her breath, distributing most of her attention to Glados’ wound. “Blame the Apples of ‘57. They made ‘em.” Applejack tilted the hoof a bit, surveying the wound’s depth from a different perspective. “Jeez, Sugarcube. Why’d ya do this to yerself?”
"Back where I come from," she replied in contrasting earnest, "Humans would cut their own wrists to make themselves feel better. I just tried that, and I don't feel any better. In fact, this really hurts. Ow... owie... in retrospective, this was a really bad idea. Owie." With her cries of pain completely moot and voiceless, it was hard to tell whether Glados was just being over-dramatic or she was in genuine agony.
Applejack went with the latter, just to be safe.
Sliding off her stool, the cowpony made her way towards a water trough and removed from it a washcloth bogged-down with warm water. “Here,” she murmured with the rag in her mouth, “lemme shee that.” Glados listlessly extended her scarred foreleg; Applejack proceeded to gently dab at it with the sopping wet towel. The water was lukewarm from sitting in the cellar, sending compulsory waves of indulgence down Glados’ leg.
“So,” she began with a heavy sigh, “is this what’s going to make me feel better? Getting drunk? That’s the solution?” Confused, Applejack silently rose a brow. “That’s what you said. ‘Hard cider’. That’s how you overcame the loss of your parents.”
As Glados explained, the farm pony exerted pressure on her wound to halt the bleeding, then said, “No... no. Ah was just tryin’ to lighten’ the mood, y’know?” A gentle laughter passed her lips as she gingerly flipped the washcloth on its other side. “Funny. Big Mac and Ah actually did... drink a ‘lil the night Pa died, but it wasn’t supposed to make us feel better. It was just... Ah dunno. Ah guess, back then, we were both just young and stewpid. Angry. We were just kids.”
Glados replayed that last phrase at least a dozen more times. ‘We were just kids’. For reasons that were both frightening and unknown, that line just sort of ‘clicked’ with her, struck a cord. It just sounded so... familiar.
‘Dammit Ca---ine! What in God’s name are we supposed to do now!?’
‘Mr. Johnson, please, calm down! We all do dumb things, but that’s what makes us human.’
‘That’s what makes us human.’
Glados froze; the hairs on her back stood on end. A woman has spoken, that much was obvious. But what puzzled Glados was that it wasn’t just any woman, for this particular human has spoken numerous times throughout her little ‘mind cracks’. Who the hell is she!? And that phrase...
Once more, Glados uttered that profounding term aloud under her breath. “It’s what makes us human...”
“Hm?” Applejack’s grunted query came accompanied by a long pause and a stare.
“It’s what makes us human, I guess,” she flatly replied with a shrug. “Drinking because you’re angry? Because your parents died? Because you were kids—what the hell do I know? I’m a scientist, not a philosopher.”
The sunset-colored mare laughed softly and continued to wipe up the last drop of blood running down her own hoof. “Maybe yer right, Gladis. Maybe yer right. But this... this is mah treat.” Applejack wrapped the cloth tightly around Glados’ pastern, just above her hoof. “There, that should hold until the hospital’s open tomorrow mornin’.”
The blonde grabbed her cider once more and smiled. “Now, enough o’ that depressin’ stuff. Let’s just drink and be merry, like friends should.” Her mug remained suspended in the air, anxiously awaiting Glados’ response.
What she did instead was stare at the untouched beverage sitting just a mere foot away, then looked off to the side.
Applejack frowned, dropping her mug with a defeated ‘clunk’. “Aw, come on, Gladis. Ah’m tryin’ mah best here.”
Glados turned her full body around to face the farm pony. The dim candlelight was just bright enough to highlight the fatigue in either mare’s face.
“Please,” the country pony petitioned. “Just one sip. And if you don’t like it, you can go wal-” Applejack stopped when realizing that Glados could not be trusted on her own as of right now. Instead, she recovered with, “Look, ah’m not gonna force you to do this. Just... just take a sip, and if ya don’t like it, we’ll turn in for the night. Deal?”
“Fine.” Glados agreed rather abrasively, then added with a growl, “If it’ll make you shut up and leave me alone.”
Upon taking the apple whiskey within her grasp, Glados winced at the sharp pain that shot through her wrist as the wound folded. She lifted the beverage toward her face, already smelling the strong alcohol wafting from the bottle.
“Yeah, that’s it,” Applejack persisted with a cockeyed grin, saying in a low voice, “Take a big whiff of it.”
The white earth pony scrunched up for her face. This is really dumb. I can’t do this, I shouldn’t do this! The moment those thoughts crossed her mind, images of a decimated Aperture Science Facility resurfaced like a bad taste in her mouth. Hmph... maybe alcohol is the answer.
The beverage was moved closer to her face, as did its repugnant aroma. Glados whispered under her breath, “Ah, dammit” and then reluctantly took her very first sip of alcohol.
To many, alcohol is the milestone that marks one’s passage into manhood; a beverage that was infamous on Earth for being connected to both human stupidity and depression. To many, this would truly seem like an achievement for Glados. On a spiritual level.
Sadly, she thought differently. At first, the taste was entirely nonexistent aside from a faint smoky flavor. Growing impatient, and instead of allowing the taste to settle, Glados tilted her head back and took another chivalrous sip of apple-flavored whiskey. The golden beverage slid down her throat, giving what she could only assume were goosebumps. She then allowed the aftertaste to linger for what felt like centuries, and it tasted... it tasted...
Horrible. Like a salty old bootleg that had been grilled on a burn-encrusted barbeque. It was the most horrid thing Glados has ever tasted since her contrived transformation into living tissue. She knew it would take weeks to get that aftertaste out of her mouth.
And why won’t the room stop spinning!? It’s giving me a migraine!
Suffering from a severe case of depression, both of her forelegs being damaged in some shape or form, and now forced to drink the nastiest thing ever concocted by man since ‘Mountain Dew’, Glados still found the humor to say, “Well, it tastes better than it smells. That’s a start.”
The comment was so unexpected, such a dramatic contrast to the dreary mood that was present just seconds ago, that Applejack burst into a hearty laughter. Slamming her hoof over and over against the countertop, the country mare proclaimed with an outgoing enthusiasm, “Yeah, that’s the spirit!”
Unusually unable to resist encouragement, Glados downed the rest of her whiskey in just three sips. Three sips. Slamming the empty glass with an audible ‘clink’, Glados was horrified with her sudden bestial nature. Dear god, I must be... oh, what was that mental disorder humans called? Ah, yes. ‘Drunk’. I must be drunk already. I am so drunken, drunkly, drunkel... drunk. I mean, why would I just down a beverage like I’m some kind of animal? Oh, right. I am. Forever. And ever... and ever...
I don’t feel better. I need more.
Like a mind reader, Applejack took another uncorked flask of whiskey from behind the counter and slid it across the counter, coming to a stop in front of Glados. She herself placed her own mug beneath the tap and filled it to the brim with cider.
“Down the hatch!” the apple-bucker proclaimed with a wink, then proceeded to chug her cider with the grace of a barbarian. Glados, on the other hand, drank hers in silence, with Applejack’s boisterous gulps being the only ones resounding into the darkness.
The second round of liquor was drained in no less than a minute. Both mares looked into the dark wall of the minibar, recollecting in their gradually mystifying thoughts. Applejack snuck in a side-glance of her companion and noticed the slight blush growing in her face.
“You okay?” she asked with a smirk. “Ya look about as red as a t’mater.”
Glados made a sluggish bat of the eyes, taking a minute longer than usual to process the question. She was more concerned with why the minibar was looking a little... melty. “Well...” she began with a grunt, propping an elbow up on the counter. “The consumption of alcoholic beverages creates a sort of... ‘facial blush’... in some people, mainly due to ‘gymnastics’, er, ‘genetics’... genetics. You see... alcohol is made with ‘acetaldehyde’. To break this s-stuff down, a specific enzyme found in your body is used. But there are those, such as myself, with an inactive enzyme for some reason who may encounter trouble with breaking down the ace-eh-bleh. And thus, the blood vessels in my face dilate and the blood is brought closer to the surface, making me ‘red as a t’mater’.”
Applejack blinked. “Oh.” Several awkward moments passed by in pure silence, occasionally sundered by a creak of the ancient wood overhead. Even the drinking, while intended by Applejack to be a loud and merry activity, was trapped in an abated silence. Glados was taking her time, savoring her beverage and soaking in the atmosphere, whereas the cowpony was cleaning out her third serving. Now in a groggy state of mind, unable to differentiate the good and the bad, she rocked about in her seat and humming to herself whilst receiving the occasional foul look from her mute partner.
Finally, with a devilish smirk, Applejack leaned over towards Glados who, in turn, repelled back like a magnet. “Can I help you?” She snapped in a rather caustic manner.
With Applejack’s left eye struggling to remain open, she spoke in a rather peculiar drunkard-tone, “Ah can see yer the angry-type when drunk. Figures.” It’s as if she was speaking in conflicting tones of exhaustion and guile. With a shrug, she pulled out a black flask filled with a stronger apple whiskey and took a mighty swig. “Ah,” she said, smacking her lips, “That right there is good stuff. Dun worry yer pretty lil’ head, cheesecake. A couple more o’ these puppies an’ you’ll be singin’ on the moon!”
“Yeah,” Glados agreed in an overly-chipper tone of voice, “A couple more o’ these and maybe, just maybe, I can stand t’ look at you for longer than five seconds without my gag reflex acting up!”
Applejack’s face contorted into a strained display of anger as she carelessly waved her hoof in Glados’ direction. “Ah, stick it in yer ear!” Her companion let out a pleasant chuckle, deriving pleasure from angering the headstrong cowpony. “Say,” she began after a sudden break from her flask, sprinkling the countertop with drops of whiskey. “Ya never ackshly told us what happened to yer creators. The ones on the outside? Ah mean, there’s more o’ ya, right?”
Glados fiddled with her bandage-clad hoof while confirming in a dry tone, “The Combine happened. They’re just some big multidimensional empire bent on conquering th’ universe BECAUSE THEY’RE EVIL!” Glados’ spatting, bombastic remark bounced off the walls of the compact cellar, eventually dwindling into silence. “From what I’ve seen, they travel from dimension-to-dimension, planet-to-planet, conkherin’ any race they cross paths with and *twists* them, reshapes them into ‘nother cog in th’ machine.” Glados turned to Applejack with a thin smile. “The Combine: blurring the line between synthetics and organics, one race at a time.”
“No, it’s quite brilliant, ackshlly,” Glados countered rather quickly, the bags under her eyes outlined by the sparse candlelight. “The weapons they revert these squishy organics into are simply fascinating! Walkers, gunships, uh... groun’troops an’ even bioweapons. If it’s got tissue, they can weaponize it. Bioengineering is a lucrative business, you know.”
“Ya sound like yer praisin’ them.”
“No. I don’t praise no one. It’s just that I’ve never seen tech so advanced, an army so powerful... It’s like something out of a video game.” Glados turned her full body around, leaned her back against the countertop, and rested the elbow of her unbroken foreleg on its rim. “Y’know they found Earth because of a stupid race?” With that, her lighthearted attitude, though albeit faint, made a noticeable drop.
“It was Aperture vs. Black Mesa: who could make the first multidimensional portal?” She propped her one good foreleg on the countertop and rested her chin on it. “Black Mesa won, of course. Aperture Apes put most of their focus onna ship that vanished from the face o’ the Earth. Only humans can lose track of an entire ship.” She smirked, “Only humans. But—” Glados sat up, straightening her back with a resounding ‘crack’. “—the Combine came in, wiped out most of humanity in just under seven hours. Pathetic.”
The corners of her mouth made a slight upturn. “Good riddance. Those bilge rats had been begging to be exterminated for a long time.” Glados gave a heavy-hearted sigh, “Don’t... Don’t need to worry about them coming here. I’m sure of that. I mean, if they get their hands on the multiverse project in Aperture, then we’re all dead. But Wheatley’s likely to blow the place into Kingdom Come before that can happen.”
The rambling mare was suddenly hit with a punch of nostalgia as an old memory unexpectedly resurfaced. “You know,” she began, “They almost found us, once. When I was... dead, ever piece of hardware, every thing with a circuit board was shut down and I myself was trapped in a hyperlock that looped the last five minutes of my life. ‘Protocol #4801: In the event of the Genetic Life and Disk Operating System being no longer fit for duty, the facility shall be placed in a preservative state of hibernation until further notice’. They were right at our front door. Their scanners picked up no lifeforms, and radio-waves the facility intercepted from officer’s conversation made it appear like he detected nothing of value; no foreign technology they didn’t already have.”
“You know...” Her voice intonation turned gravelly. “That was probably the first time in my life I was scared. Or, a synthesized sense of fear, but fear all the same. The was... well... you know.” She shook her head, as if trying to physically forget the memory while half-expecting her equine companion to give some philosophical spiel about ‘fear is what makes you human’. When she instead remained silent, Glados continued. “Applejack, I don’t know why in the name of sanity I’m talking to you about this, but... I don’t know. Maybe sitting down and talking to someone actually does help, doesn’t it?” No answer. “Applejack?”
Glados turned to find her companion fast asleep, her snores muffled by the mug concealing her face. “Applejack!” Glados screamed, angrily slamming her hoof against the countertop and creating a thunderous clap.
The cowpony snorted awake, eyes darting around the room in a drunken daze. “Huh!? Wha!?”
“You’re unbelievable! I’m sitting here, spilling my guts out like a human, and you’re sitting there snoring like a fucking asshole! Come on!”
“‘Spillin’ yer guts out’? Gladis, ah don’t know what yer talkin’ ‘bout but yer no poet from Trodding Ham.” The cowpony paused to emit a wheezy laugh, almost falling back before catching herself. “Eh, b’t fer the past five minutes, after Ah called them Combiners horrible, you were jus’ goin’ on n’ on n’ on about fear an’ Appersure an’... an’... eh, I fell asleep.”
Glados silently turned back to the minibar, wrapping her hooves around the mug in a possessive manner. She took a small sip of her partially untouched apple whiskey, then another, and another, with each one progressively aggregated than the last until it was all gone. She reached behind the bar and grabbed herself another without a word.
Applejack made a callous snort. “Heh-heh, yer drunk as hail, lil’ filly.”
But she quickly noticed that Glados didn’t find it quite as funny, then grew sympathetic. “Look, a-ah’m sorry. I-I-I-It’s the alkeyhall. Makes ya— think yer talkin’ like some kinda~ genius, when in fact yer about as intelligible as a possum on poison joke in the middle of... in the middle of... aw, pony feathers. Ah fergot where ah was goin’ with that.” She lazily waved her hoof and took a large intake of cider. “Jus’ tell me when we’re *hic* sober.”
“Fer-get about it.” Glados muttered, indulged within her own mystified thoughts.
Applejack felt responsible, thinking she hurt Glados’ feelings when she in fact couldn’t care less about them. “Hey, Gladis, ah’m sorry. Ah truly *hic* am. Just... let’s just ferget about all that heartachein’ stuff.” The cowpony, once again, stood on her hind legs, reaching over the bar, and came back with two shot glasses.
As she did that, Glados looked through her own bottle for any loose traces of whiskey and then took notice in its label. “A.J.... this is one-sixty proof alcohol. This shit’ll kill me.”
Applejack smacked herself in the forehead. “Aw, shoot! Ah’m mighty sorry Apple Bloom!”
“That’s GLaDOS to you, meatbag! Don’t make me get the neuro-*hic*-toxin!”
“Whateves.” While the cowpony staggered over the bar to retrieve a lighter beverage, Glados couldn’t help but stare at the cider tap. It read in bold paint, ‘200 prof. Straight Cider’
‘200 proof’!? Is that even safe to drink!? Either Applejack’s a tank, or this really is Android Hell. For some peculiar reason, Glados suddenly felt concerned for her companion’s safety. Unusually concerned. So concerned it almost came off as clingy. Like a true friend, she took the time to warn her friend about the potential life-threatening danger she was now in. “Hey... Abba Jack...”
“Quit sciencein’! Ah’m comin’!” Applejack hunkered down with two flasks of whiskey in her grasp. “Here, this should be lighter for a cheesecake such as yerself.”
With a mighty heave, the drunk farm pony came back with a tall crystal bottle, unopened, and filled with a sharp green-colored beverage. She didn’t need to read the label aloud. Glados could see it plain as day: ‘Granny Smith’s Homemade Granny Smith Apple Vodka: For A Night That You’ll Forget To Remember!’ It read in bold print with a skull and crossbones at its header, ‘240 prof.’ Glados smiled, “This is perfect.”
Applejack uncorked the vodka bottle and filled the two shot glasses. Both mares took their respective servings and, without hesitation, awkwardly clanked their flasks together.
Applejack grinned, “Let’s drink like it’s our last!”
One Shot and a Nosebleed Later...
“Iz it bedder?”
Glados squinted close to the soggy, crimson tissue stuffed up Applejack’s left nostril. It was very hypnotic, almost coming off as fascinating. It wouldn’t take an RN with a doctorate to realize that this one scrappy piece of tissue wouldn’t be enough to halt a nosebleed with the severity of Applejack’s. But Glados, being the optimist that she’s known for, remained positive.
“Of course it’s BETTER!” she proclaimed with maddening levels of sincerity. “I’m a... a...” Her brain shorted out for only a moment until Glados remembered her profession. “A scientist! Yes, that’s right!” She cocked her head to the side with a dopey smile and a blush raging across her snowy-white face. The flask of cider held within her grasp was almost dumped onto the floor. “Yes, I am a scientist! I am good at these things, as well as... science and... books, machines and... science.”
Applejack made an effort to blink, almost falling off her stool when trying to follow the world spinning around her. “How’d this happen?”
Glados tapped her chin. “Well...”
One Shot and a Nosebleed Earlier...
Applejack grinned, “Let’s drink like it’s our last!”
They did. They drank one shot of vodka and completely lost it.
Glados then did a frantic double-take and flipped out. “Applejack! There’s afaceonyer-- nose!”
“GIT IT OFF!”
One Shot and a Nosebleed Later...
Applejack shook her head, as if trying to physically purge the memory. Normally, she could handle her cider. For the most part, but not now.
The same couldn’t be said for Glados. She’s now smiling, swaying to and fro like a tilt-a-whirl, occasionally pausing for a spell to take in another disgusting gulp of cider. “Oh, A.J., this stuff is *hic* fan-TASTIC!” She stopped rocking around, putting a serious expression on her face.
She leaned towards Applejack until their snouts were smushed together, which didn’t bother the mare on the other end one bit. “Hey, Applejax? Are ya single, Apphajax?”
The advanced mare pulled away, giving a wheezy, drunk laugh. “Heh... heh-heh. Naw... naw... Not a stallion in Ponyville’s got their eye on me.”
Glados made her eyes incredulously wide, borderlining ‘Pinkie Pie’ levels of implausibility. “Shut. Up.”
“No... No way! A strong, independent, purebred mustang like yourself? No suitors? None at all?”
Applejack shrugged, then tilted her head back to take another sip. “Why’s you askin’?”
Glados turned to face the minibar, whatever sober fragments in her mind working to forge an answer. Why do I care? “I guess...” she sighed, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hoof. “I guess i’s b’cause... yer the oney ‘ne here that actually im-pressed me.” Applejack made a distinct twitch of her ear, showing that she’s in-tuned with the conversation. Then, without warning, Glados threw her foreleg over the cowpony’s shoulders and pulled her in. “L-L-Like, there is not a single human being on Earf that dids the kinda work that ya do. Not like they used too.The tech...” She reached for her mug, “...made work too easy.” and took a deep, prolonged swallow of apple cider. “I guess what I’mma tryin’na say is... there’re likely loads of men on Earth that’d kill for a sex toy like you.”
“Wha?” The other mare mumbled, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hoof. “Hey, y’know how we was talkin’ ‘bout... special some-ponies?”
“No?” Glados wasn’t sure if they were talking about that or not. Everything from five minutes ago was a complete blur.
“Oh, really?” Applejack’s enthusiasm fell, then picked right back up. “Well, did you know that...” She looked around the room, making sure that it was just the two of them. She then ushered her friend to lean in closer, who complied without question. The cowpony whispered intensely into Glados’ ear, “Rainbow Dash ain’t a lesbian!”
Glados pulled away, finding it near-impossible to believe what she is hearing. “Shut. Up.”
“With that mane?”
“And that shit attitude?”
Glados leaned over the bar, exhaling a distressed sigh. “Wow, that’s... that’s-That settles it.” She placed her mug under the tap and filled it to the rim, not even caring that half of the drink was compiled of suds. “I’m drinking to that.”
“No mistake ‘bout that.” Applejack agreed with mutual energy, mimicking the action. “Y’know,” she began, resuming her seat and adopting a mellow attitude. “We shouldn’t make fun of her like that. Ah mean, yeah. R.D’s got an ego problem, no doubt about that. But... she’s always been there for me an’ Twi an’ everehpony else.” Applejack washed down the guilt with several chuggs of cider. “Y’know, she’s got herself a ha-yooge crush on Sorin. What about you? Any stallions catchin’ yer eye?”
The other pony answered in a heartbeat, with a dull, drawn-out, “Nope.”
“Ah well,” She poured another two shots of vodka. “Bottoms up!”
Nine Shots of Vodka (mixed in with some unrepentant acts of sin) Later...
“H-H-H-Heeeeey...” Glados slurred, “Yer my best friend, yanno that? Nom-m-m-many pornies can do that for a -sholid- -sheven- -shecondsh-, yanno.”
“Thatsh great, Glubos.” Applejacks’ speech, though not as horrendous on the ears as Glados’, was still a tumbling avalanche of syllables ungraciously meshed together to form what she perceived as ‘words’. “Nom m-m-many pony kin stand onna broken leg fer two anna have hours.”
“Yesh.” Glados beamed with intoxicated pride, holding her fractured foreleg that was now scrunched up like an accordion.
“Hey, yanno?” Applejack’s extended foreleg, clutching the cellar’s dying lantern, struggled to remain still over an open barrel of wine. “Itsh shooo dark in ‘ere. Right? Right Glabis? Right-right?” Her words came tripping from her mouth without any distinguishable syllables to be heard.
Glados felt the need to get up from her seat to answer, only to stumble around and finally come to a flailing fall that made her act like a fish out of water. Her flailing and grunts subsided as quickly as they came, and finally she answered Applejack’s question without so much as a hiccup.
“Alrigh’! I’mma doin’ it!” The cowpony, after numerous failed attempts, managed to drop the lantern into the wine on the fifth or sixth try. A roaring fire cartoonishly sprung from its’ ethanol-filled origin, illuminating the entire cellar in a brilliant orange glow. Even when absurdly drunk, Applejack couldn’t help but celebrate her monumental success. “Woo-hoo~!”
Glados, face still planted in the soily ground, rose a hoof into the air and let out a muffled, “Whoo~!”
Unable to stand no longer, Applejack collapsed on her back, pathetically reaching for her mug of cider way at the top of the bar. Now that she wanted it, it suddenly looked really far away. “Hey, Glabidus?” She spat, lightly showering herself with her own spittle.
Glados flipped herself over like a grilled patty, placing the one mobile foreleg on her stomach. “Yeah?” She didn’t even take in the fact that her makeshift rag-bandage’s surface was now completely scarlet; not a trace of white was to be seen, even under intense inspection.
“Are ya still goin’ to that Gran’ Gallopin’ Galer?”
With a submissive sigh, one that wasn’t conjured from her currently-drunk perspective, Glados muttered a slurred ‘I’ll think about it’.
“Yu’ll need a dress. An’ a song.”
“Singin’? Ugh... I hate—wait wait wait—despise singing.”
“Dun beat yerself up. Yer voice’s fine.”
“You wanna fight abou’it, hayseed?”
“Jus’ throwin’ it outta there, sugarcubie.” For no reason, Applejack started wasting what little energy she had left to raise her hoof up and drop it back down like a sack of flour in a repetitive cycle.
The notion was short lived, as Glados broke in with an extrinsic hint of nobility. “Hey, Abblejack?”
“Thanks fer showin’ me dis. I hafta say, it’s probly the most fun I’fe had since I got here.”
Applejack couldn’t help but crack a wobbly smile. “Heh, no prob, s-sh-sh-sugarcube. Probly won’t ‘member it, though. But Ah can honestly say that i’s been alotta fun tonight. An’ that ain’t the alkeyhal talkin’.”
Soon after the heartfelt exchange, the two mares blacked out, considering each other as friends, only to reawaken as bitter ‘frenemies’ the very next day.
The Next Day...
The heavenly light supplied by Celestia beamed through the unclosed cellar entrance, illuminating the underground bar in all of its dank and dingy glory. Being far more appealing to look at in the dark is an understatement, but that was the last thing on its occupants’ minds. What was, however, was the tormentous pain pulsating throughout the ponies’ heads whenever the tweet of a bird or ring of a cascada outside passed through their ear canals.
“Oh my God...” Glados muttered, pressing a hoof on one ear and pushing the other into the wall, as her other hoof was still broken from last night’s horrific event.
Glados finally took notice of her ‘good’ hoof, bandaged at the seam with a garish red washcloth. Her entire body was, too, in a state that would make Rarity fall into a coma. Nearly every square inch of her modest white coat had some smudge or smear in a grotesque palette of greens, browns, and yellows. She herself reeked of alcohol and vomit, her eyes were encrusted with, appropriately, eye crust, and her mouth had an unbearable and undefinable taste lingering within. What the HECK was I on!?
She then noticed the sleeping Applejack, hatless, with her blonde mane splayed about like a spiderweb. Her coat had similar markings as her drinking partner’s, though somehow worse to the point where it almost made Glados want to retch.
Still, she couldn’t help but writhe at the painful headache that never seemed to leave, instead growing worse as every moment dragged on. “A hangover... God this sucks.” Unable to leave the cellar and enter a world that would risk popping her head like a melon at every turn, Glados waited impatiently for her headache to subside. As she did, she slowly tried to recollect what had happened the night before.
All’s she was able to piece together was flipping out in front of the whole town, going to Applejack’s, and after that, nothing. Blank. Looking back at Applejack and then herself, Glados agreed that it’s best to be left in the dark with this one.
Even after piecing the night to the best of her ability, Glados still couldn’t get her mind off of Aperture, and the hopelessly bleak situation she has now found herself trapped in. Drinking, a human’s last resort, didn’t help. Harming herself was useless, as was harming others. The only other option is...
Ugh... okay, what did that infernal pony give me? The towering tyrant gave me a ticket to some ball, I gave her vile offer an appropriate response, then nothing... Applejack looks just as trashed as I am, so nothing good came of last night. Enough. I have more important matters to deal with.
Does it really have to come to that? She asked herself, as if her conscience itself had an answer. I mean, I know I tried doing that last night, but... that was before I tried a number of other methods. Maybe there is no other way, or maybe there is. I need to go home and think on this.
Acting on the fly, and with her hangover dissipating after an hour of waiting, Glados bolted out of the cellar, leaving a sleeping Applejack still in the cellar wallowing in her own filth. Outside in Sweet Apple Acres was like a breath of fresh air after spending a night in the confining, repugnant cider cellar beneath the barn. The air was lukewarm, fresh, and carried a strong but welcomed scent of summer wherever it went. Apple Bloom was heard laughing on the other side of the orchard, joined by the energetic yelps of the Apple Family pet, Winona. It all combined into a pleasant sense of youth and renewal that hardly hardly lasted as Glados made a quick three-legged gallop toward home.
Within her chest, a tight, clenching sensation enveloped her heart. She'd describe it as a battleground, with anger and despair fighting for total control of her emotions. This bleak train of thought was interrupted when she accidentally walked into someone, landing on her back with a painful 'thud'. Standing tall, the affronted pony lent Glados some assistance via an outstretched hoof.
As she rubbed her head, her gaze traveled up the owner's foreleg and locked with the dulcet glim of Big Macintosh. "You okay?" he asked in a mellow tone of voice.
Without a response, Glados wrapped her unbroken foreleg around Mac's as he pulled her up without falter. "Uh, thanks," she finally said. The hardy stallion replied through a simple bow.
Glancing over his shoulder, Glados took notice in the wheelbarrow stacked with anvils connected to Mac's yoke by a sturdy rope. Under better circumstances, she would've found the earth pony's incomparable brawn to be 'mildly impressive'.
Before she could continue with her aimless quest of suicidal thoughts, Big Mac asked, more curious than accusative, "Hang on, ain't ya one of A.J.'s 'lil friends? Gladis, ah think?"
'Gladis'. It's a shame the princess never even taught your family to speak properly. But nonetheless, she was certainly impressed that the faceless stallion was actually capable of conveying emotion through a raised brow and a faint, almost invisible, smirk. She answered into a meek nod.
Mac shifted the straw of wheat to the other corner of his mouth and said, "You ain't much of a talker, ain't ya? Ah should know. If ah got somethin' to say, I'll say it-unlike that chatterbox, Pinkeh Pah."
Glados nodded in laconic agreement, which suited the soft-spoken stallion just fine. He’s going to ask why I looked like the upchucked remains of Pinkie’s diet.
Instead, Macintosh was about to go his separate way, leading the smaller earth pony to step in his path and ask a very sudden, non-intrinsic question. Before she even opened her mouth, the hardy stallion huffed in mild annoyance, the hot air blowing from his nose tousling Glados' hair.
"Uh, Mac," Glados began, her voice cracked with emotion-thickened underuse, "You, uh... you enjoy your life here, correct?"
The question was unexpected, but not given a complex answer. "Eeyup."
"What would you do if... if it all went away?" Glados bit her lip, with Mac raising an inquisitive brow. "Wh-What I mean is... what if you were unwillingly pulled from your natural habitat? The routine way of life that made you get up every morning, not because you had too, but because you wanted too." As Glados spoke, her voice began to deteriorate. Big Mac took notice, leading him to rest a comforting hoof on her shoulder, the one connected to a broken foreleg that always hung an apple’s height off the ground. It was an act that Glados herself didn't mind one bit, as she was too caught up in her own moment.
She sniffled, quelling the overbearing urge to break down and cry. "Alright... I'm okay. Sorry 'bout that." Mac took that as a sign to remove his hoof, an act easier said than done considering how Glados was clearly not okay, but he knew better than to debate with an emotionally distraught mare.
"And let's say you were kicked out of this comfort, by someone you don't like. An enemy." The white pony's tone turned dark as the pink tint to her eyes slowly receded. "And he sent you to a world that was completely different to yours. Its people, its customs, beliefs and way of life. Completely different, and it's not one you could get used too. Even worse..." She swallowed the pang of despair, but it forced its way out in the form of a choked gasp. "And even worse... there's no way of going back. Ever." Glados felt humiliated. She just spilled her guts out in front of somebody she doesn't even know.
And yet, she still found herself looking up to the genteel stallion with a pathetic, trembling gaze. Big Macintosh turned his head towards the rising sun, now almost completely risen over the mountain heads.
“There was a meeting over in Town Hall with Princess Celestia.” Glados was mildly shocked and mildly offended that Macintosh completely ignored her confession, but was unable to object as he immediately followed up in his submissively captivating tone. “She was talkin’ about how ‘a new resident’ created quite a stir in the town centre last night, and that most of the folk are probably mighty frightened. Now, not tryin’ ta disrespect the princess at all, but we ain’t as scared as much as we was confused. Ah’m gonna take a wild shot in the dark and say that that ‘new resident’ was you?”
Glados made a slow nod in confirmation, keeping her jittery golden stare locked with the stallion’s mellow emerald one.
“Eeyup. Thought so. Most o’ the town didn’t even know who it was. We jus’ heard alotta screamin’ and yellin’ last night, followed by that statue crashin’ down. Oh, an’ don’t worry about that none. The darn thing was gettin’ ready to come down any day, now.”
With that, Glados finally broke away from the conversation, seeing as it was going nowhere. “I don’t have time for this,” she muttered, pushing past the larger stallion with a moiling limp.
“Hold yer horses, ah wasn’t finished.” Big Mac had to stick out one hind leg and Glados froze without another word. She exerted a heavy sigh through her nose, never breaking her gaze from the dirt path horizon up ahead. “Look, ah know you think Ah’m gonna say ‘Ah understand what yer goin’ through’, but Ah honestly don’t. To be honest, Gladis, Ah can’t put myself in yer horseshoes. Life’s funny like that.”
“Yeah. Funny,” she said dryly, unmoved by the farmworker’s consolation.
“Gladis, Ah’ve lived for a long twenty-two years. While a whole lotta that time was spent kickin’ trees and towin’ carts around, Ah did lose both mah parents, and every time mah sisters hang out with their friends, Granny Smith an’ Ah spend every wakin’ moment wonderin’ if they’d return home in one piece. A.J. ‘specially.” Despite the bleak topic, Big Mac maintained an upbeat, or as upbeat as he can be, attitude in the conversation. After a momentary pause to soak in the information, he took a deep breath and continued. “Ah don’t like the dangerous stuff those girls do, but Ah don’t always hafta worry because they can take care o’ themselves.”
“Is this going anywhere? Because I have a suicide to plan.”
Big Mac sighed, unlatching the yoke from his neck and walking over to stand beside Glados. “Look, what Ah’m tryin’ to say is ya can’t spend yer whole life lookin’ on the bad side ‘o things. An’ nopony’s forcin’ ya to make friends. Ah haven’t had a friend in four years and this is the most Ah’ve talked since then.”
“What happened to him?” Glados asked, unable to resist the smalltalk-nature of her organic mentality.
“Mah friend? She moved to Manehatten, started a family with mah uncle, Orange Lite. They had a filly, by the way. Fergot her name though. Bad Seed? Bub Steed? Ah’ll hafta find the letter that mentions her name once Ah get back to the farm. Like that, right there. A family. Moving on. There’s more to life than just, Ah dunno, numbers an’ equations, y’know?”
The flabbergasted tone Mac unexpectedly took received an out-of-the-blue, but welcomed, chortle from his smaller companion. Yet, Glados resumed the conversation with her usual bitterness, to which the passive stallion had grown accustomed to from the moment he first met her. “Yeah, ‘friendship’. Princess Celestia has told me all about that.”
“Ah heard from mah sister that you’ve taken a liking to a couple ‘o ponies. That malemare, the deejay n’ her cousin from Canterlot? Good folk. And Ah’m glad to see Ditzy gettin’ back into the swing o’ things after what happened.”
Unable to pick up on that peculiar closing statement, Glados made an immediate yet diffident-sounding reply, “I wouldn’t call them ‘friends’. But... But they have been quite helpful.”
“What you do is yer business, Gladis. Ah ain’t a pony of philosophy, that much is certain. All’s Ah’m tryin’ to say is, just, make the best of a bad situation. Apply yer abilities into helping this town grow. I heard what ya did fer Rarity’s sister, an’ that was a good deed you done. This town needs somepony that’s smart like Twilight, but isn’t afraid to take risks like Rainbow Dash.”
As Big Macintosh’s words started to have a profounding effect on Glados, the last comment made her say “Don’t ever compare me to Twilight and Rainbow Dash ever again.”
Big Mac let out a hearty laugh. “Ah’ll try not to.”
After standing together, looking out into the horizon for what felt like hours, Glados finally departed and made her way toward home with a gentle limp from her three-legged trot. She stopped after several feet, turned, and looked at Big Macintosh with a gentle, heart-melting smile on her face. “I appreciate your time, Big Macintosh. And thank you. Your words have truly touched my mind in ways I never thought possible.”
Big Macintosh formed a faint smile that was noticeable over his ever-mellow exterior. “Yer a terrible liar, ya know that?”
Her cover blown, Glados allowed her face to face slink back into its iconic, deadpanned expression. “Oh well. I tried. But on the bright side,” she said in a lifted tone with her eyebrows raised, “You did convince me not to kill myself. That’s a feat in itself, since practically no one has ever made me change my mind ever. Congratulations, Mac. You’re definitely one of the smarter equines residing in this festering sinkhole of a town.”
Big Mac looked as if he was trying to object or simply accept the compliment, which managed to continue even as he bowed his head in disconnected appreciation.
As Glados began to make her way home, Big Mac called out her name. “Hey, Miss Gladis!” She stopped and turned with her usual, undecipherable expression. “Ah think it’d be in yer best interest to go to the hospital and wash up. Ya smell a ‘lil... mature.”
For once, Glados found no reason to argue with that. That being said, it doesn’t mean she’s going to do it.
A Blast From the Past, er, Future-Taking the first steps into forging a new life in Equestria, Glados becomes an official citizen of Ponyville, addresses the town in a public speech, and confronts Ditzy Doo on a personal matter. After returning home, she is unexpectedly greeted by a special someone from the near future who comes with a warning.
Blast from the Past
“I came back to tell you that this is the day you turn it all around. You stop eating junk food, you start studying harder, you stay away from drugs and alcohol and you become CEO of your very own time travel company.” -Future Cartman
There are two things the stallion with a defective pituitary gland made me realize. First of all, the only way I’ll be able to move up in the world, this world, is if I play “nice.” Every ounce of logic and good reasoning is practically screaming right in my ear that this is a bad idea, but at this point, I’m willing to try anything. I literally have nothing left to lose. The chances of me receiving both physical and psychological scarring are at a one-hundred percent probability.
Secondly, the homunculus was right; I can make a difference in the world. Killing myself won’t change anything. I mean, look at the shape this country is in! If it is running in a parallel timeline with my Earth, then that means it’s the year two-thousand-something and they still use a bartering system! A bartering system! Not to mention, their alcoholic beverages are over two-hundred proof! How is that even possible? With all this laid out on the table, how dare I even consider taking away Equestria’s only hope of emerging from the dark ages?
But no matter. In the words of the great Audrey Hepburn, nothing is impossible. I see it as my duty to shape this world into something a little more... modern. And if that means I have to overthrow these idealistic saintly princesses and their loyalist lackeys, then so be it. But the road to fulfillment is long and arduous, with many obstacles to overcome. The first of which is usually the hardest, and this, right now, is no exception.
“Alright, Miss. Glados. Just sign here... here... and here.”
No one told me that I’d actually have to go to a seminar. I used to believe that humans created these things to ward off immigrants, but now? Jeez...
For the umpteenth time, Glados snuck in a glance at the grandfather clock of the Ponyville mayor’s office. It read two o’clock in the afternoon. She had been here for a grueling three hours, signing papers and such as the mayor went on and on about her “duty” as a Ponyville citizen and the community’s few but strict rules.
That letter opener beside the mayor’s coffee mug is looking particularly enticing right now. God, a lecture on mitosis is more interesting than this.
Glados ate up time by lightly percussing her casted foreleg against the chair’s armrest; the alabaster cast was bound to her the day before, and Nurse Redheart said she’ll need to keep it on for another two to allow the Cure-All’s effect to fully repair and mend every obliterated bone in her leg. The other foreleg,with a slit wrist, was wrapped in gauze and was intended to remain that way until sundown.
Glados sat adjacent to Mayor Mare, with an oakwood desk being the only obstruction between the two. As the chestnut-colored pony wiped perspiration from her brow, she flipped over to the next page of the bulky packet that lied before her. This was a standard procedure that had to be read from beginning-to-end for every new citizen of Ponyville, which isn’t often, but that didn’t make the whole situation all the more tolerable for either pony.
“‘You will now be given a series of tests that will be incorporated with your psychological profile’,” she read, sounding nearly bored to tears. “‘I’m going to say a word, and you say the very first thing that comes to mind’,” she picked up her heavy gaze, and asked, “Ready?”
Glados made a stiff nod, shifting the Mayor’s tired, elbow-propped gaze back down to the packet. “Okay, first word: ‘Joy’.”
“Trigonometry.” The mayor looked up from her clipboard with a vacant stare. “What? Trigonomics bring me joy.”
The mayor shot Glados a crinkled brow-look, then shrugged it off and proceeded with the exam. “Alright, second word: ‘Friend’.”
The mayor swallowed hard, growing disturbed with the Glados’ unnerving responses as indicated by her deteriorating voice. “Third: ‘Chaos’.”
“Communism.” To that, the mayor whipped her head up and grimaced. “What? You told me to say the first thing that comes to mind. I know that this place doesn’t follow communism exactly, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get some sort of communistic vibe from it.”
Amidst her moistened forehead, a vein throbbing with anger had surfaced; the mayor glanced up at her dangling, wavy grey forelock and blew up at it. It briefly flipped about but promptly bounced back into place.
“I don’t even know what that is,” she admitted with tension in her output.
“Perhaps it’s for the best. Shall we continue?”
The mayor pressed on, eager to finish the test and have Glados out of her sight. “‘Darkness’?”
“Alright, Miss... Glados. Last word,” the mayor ran her hoof along the length of her collar, which suddenly looked a size too small on her, “‘Death’?”
Mayor Mare slammed the bulky packet shut and removed her glasses, breathed on each lense, and wiped them with a handkerchief she picked up from a stack of papers. “Well Miss Glados,” she began, placing the glasses back on the bridge of her nose, “I’m afraid you’ve failed both tests. But, thanks to the case six years ago of “Topsy Turvy vs. Mayor Mare,” Celestia’s ‘No Pony Left Behind’ policy dictates that I must allow you to live here under the watch of the Royal Guard. Not that that should be a problem, considering the princess already issued a pair of guards to stand watch over your current residence.”
“Oh?” cooed Glados with a inquirous brow.
“Mm,” she confirmed. “Your little ‘episode’ created quite a stir the other night. Most of it’s playful harmless gossip, but the princesses and myself have agreed that you should be kept under a more, should we say, ‘watchful eye’.”
Despite the staggering news, Glados appeared indifferent to the whole situation, prompting the mayor to rest her folded hooves on top of the desk and form a cocky smile. “You don’t seem bothered by this.”
Behind her blank judgmental stare, Glados screamed. God damn it all to Hell! This—! Okay, I can work around this. It’s just a setback. A really big, mile-long setback. I can still work around it, though. I just need to be careful. But... but I wish this filthy democrat would STOP SMILING AT ME! Though she’d never admit it out loud, Glados hates being taunted almost as much as failing.
A lack of a response from Glados instigated the Mayor to continue. “Well, as I’ve said, the guards will never leave your side. Not unless proven you are mentally capable of living on your own, or you form-slash-join a Herd.”
Glados repelled the natural urge to let out a dismissive groan. To her, a “Herd” was just another word for “possible cooperative testing initiative.” With boorishly fake interest, she asked, “And a ‘Herd’ is obviously a...?”
The mayor, picking up on Glados’ heavy sarcasm with a disgruntled sigh, explained: “Well, Herds are tight-knit groups of ponies that live in or within close proximity of one-another. Some are made of family, others close friends, and sometimes both. There’s the Cake Herd, consisting of Cup and Carrot, their children and Pinkie Pie. Some spread out across Equestria, such as the Apple Herd, and so on. Sadly, they don’t always last,” she remarked with a sad glint in her eye. “I’m sure you’ve heard about Ditzy Doo’s Herd.”
Mayor Mare wasn’t taken aback with Glados’ supposed ignorance. “Well, I’m sure anypony in town would tell you.”
“But I don’t care. And neither should you.”
The mayor frowned, her face contorted with anger; her face turned such a vibrant plum pigmentation that Glados was sure she would burst into a raging tirade. Instead, she exhaled deeply and calmly asked, “Do you have no sympathy? What made you into such a brutal and insensitive pony?
Glados leaned back in her chair and gave a casual reply: “Well, a lot of things, really. Life, humans, my godlike intelligence, western civilization but enough about that. You said these ‘Herds’ are made up of close friends, correct?”
The mayor nodded. “Sometimes.”
Glados silently weighed in the pros and cons of both options behind a bored facade:
Let’s see... I can be followed around for the rest of my life by two pieces of drywall (because these morons will never see my geniusness as sanity), or I could join a Herd. Well, the Apples will probably take me in, but then I’d have to do yard work. Don’t want that, don’t need that. How about Vinyl’s family? No. God no. Octavia is living proof that I’d most likely bash my head against the wall within the first night. That leaves Ditzy... Well, she has been helpful. And she’s certainly one of the dumber equines in town; she has proven her loyalty so far, and is probably willing to do whatever I ask without question because she’s just that naive. On the downside...
It’s Ditzy Doo. Emotional Ditzy Doo. Touchy Ditzy Doo. The one with the dead kid Ditzy Doo.
“I’d prefer the guards.”
The mayor nodded, either in agreement or just common courtesy, and removed a turquoise quill from a jar of ink. As she scribbled several signatures on a stained parchment, she asked Glados, “Forgive me for asking, but I must know: is it all true?”
Glados, whom was hypnotized by a drinking bird set up on the window sill behind the mayor, gave a mere grunt of recognition.
“I asked you if it was all true,” repeated the mayor, sternly, never breaking her concentration while writing.
“What do you mean?” asked Glados.
“The other night, all those things you said? Different world? Trapped here forever? Someone named “Wheatley,” if I’m not mistaken?”
Glados’ eyes continued following the drinking bird’s head rhythmically dipping its beak into a glass of water as she gave the mayor a sketchy answer. “Huh? Oh, yes. Right.”
“Really? Splendid. Because you’ll be addressing that to the townsfolk!”
“Wait, what?!” Her attention suddenly gained, Glados shot up from the chair and slammed her forehooves on the mayor’s desk to prevent falling. Glaring through charcoal bangs with a mad glint in her eye, Glados slowly asked, “When?”
The mayor placed her quill back in its jar and replied with a familiar cocky grin, “Right now.” She rolled up the parchment and fastened it with a teal ribbon.
“I can’t do this.” Glados planted her hooves into the hardwood floor. The mayor and a Royal Guard, in turn, placed their hooves on her rump and tried forcing her onstage.
The Royal Guard was Ironsides. He had the common traits shared amongst his equals: a white coat and strong build emblazoned in polished gold armor. His tail and helmet-clad mane were a dark, almost black, purple hue; his eyes were akin to steel with a hardened look that was always present.
Another guard, stationed by the curtains, was quite different. For one, it was a female; one look would at her would let anyone know that she was one of Princess Luna’s distinguished Shadow Guards. She looked almost identical to any Night Guard: bat-like wings, dark coat and serpentine amber eyes with narrow black slits for pupils. Her only distinctive feature was unkempt midnight-blue hair creeping out from under her helmet.
The ferocity of the Luna’s night was encased in dark glossy armor; her name was Dewmist. She took a peek behind the curtain and looked out into the vast crowd that had gathered before the Town Hall Theatre. “It looks like everypony in town is out there!” she called over her shoulder.
Glados’ eyes dilated. She took a deep breath, and flat-out said, “No, I’m not doing this.”
“Princesses’... orders!” hissed Ironside, teeth gnashed together.
“I’m not making a public apology! I apologize to no one! Especially a podunk of whiny redneck hay-chewers!” Glados’ tone grew increasingly hostile as the mayor ceased her pushing, prompting Ironside to push harder.
The mayor stood in front of Glados; so close, in fact, that her forelock brushed against the pony’s quivering face, whom was struggling to solidify a stance on the waxed hardwood floor. “We can do this all night, Glados,” she uttered, coolly. “Everypony’s out there. Just go out, explain your actions, and leave. And when you’re done,” she hastily added, “I’d like a quick word before you return home.”
Milliseconds of contemplating her options led Glados to finally say, “Alright! I’ll do it! Just leave me alone and get your hands off my ass!” Without warning, she eased her stance and fluently swung the back-half of her body aside, causing Ironsides to fall flat on his face.
Glados slowly made her way onstage, receiving a harsh shove from Dewmist, who remained stationed by the curtain. “That’s for slandering the princess,” she muttered, loud enough for Glados to hear.
“Hey, that tyrannical blowhard had it coming for a long time! And you’re just another drone that’s willing to lick the dirt off her boots, you adherent little—!” With a loud “ping,” a stage light turned on overhead and placed Glados in the spotlight.
As this particular event was being held indoors, the crowd itself seemed far larger than it really was, regardless of the fact that it held the entire town’s populace. Throngs of ponies were stationed in balconies along the walls with their forelegs dangling over the railings in blithe anticipation. The entire indoor setup, with ponies standing before the stage and others in balconies, reminded Glados of the Globe Theatre.
She stood in blundering silence, not a sweat to be found on her brow. She wasn’t nervous; she never felt nervous. Just, as of now, really stupid. Hundreds upon hundreds of hungry eyes were locked on her in anticipation, with a majority of the room obscured by a shroud of darkness that blanketed the whole room.
Glados found herself looking up to the spotlight’s source and having to squint to make out the rigid silhouette of Vinyl Scratch’s mane. “‘Sup, Glados?” she called down. “I’m a part time maintenance mare! How cool is that?”
The pony below let out an agonizing sigh before addressing the crowd of Ponyville. “Greetings dewlickers,” she began pleasantly. “I’m sure you’ve all heard of my astronomically embarrassing meltdown the other night, in which I cursed your ruler’s name, verbally abused her student and friends, then proceeded to destroy an irreplaceable artifact of both religious and historical importance. But you see... back where I come from, making fun of your friends was a common custom among many--”
“No more lies, Glados!” Twilight Sparkle called from an unseen location in the audience. “Tell the truth or leave Ponyville forever!”
“Where’d she come from!?”
An influx of murmurs and whispers erupted from the left side of the crowd, which led Glados to believe that that’s where Twilight and her friends were. “Do we have a problem, Ms. Barkle?” she asked, sternly.
“Don’t call me that!” she yelled back, incidentally turning the discordant whispers into roaring laughter.
“ENOUGH!” Glados bellowed over the hysterical ponies. They all fell into fearful silence, like a talkative class that was just scolded by their teacher.
“I mean it,” she added with a growl, ensuring the crowed to be lulled for the remainder of the assembly. It was so quiet that the trees can be heard rustling in the wind; even Vinyl Scratch didn’t have a jocular comment to add.
“Alright then,” Glados began with a small nod. “Alright. I know you all want to get home as much as I do, so I’ll make this brief: Truth is, you all probably think I’m crazy. To be quite frank, I think I am crazy and that this is all just some sort of big crazy dream. At least, I hope it is. But the fact of the matter is... it’s not. This, right here, is real, and there’s really nothing I can do about it except... move on.”
Glados scanned the visible faces up front and found that they were all entranced by her story. Before continuing, she painstakingly thought to herself, Be nice. I have to be nice. I can do this. I can do this...
“I come from another universe—” Glados stopped herself, positive that there would be a few giggles peppered throughout the audience at the ridiculousness of the concept. There was not, which led her to the logical conclusion that this was perhaps a common occurrence.
“Yes, another universe. One you can’t even hope to understand. War, death, hunger, murder and rape are a part of everyday society, and it was ruled by these barbaric monsters called ‘humans’.”
There were several murmurs within the crowd, which Glados genuinely understood. That is, until, one voice piped up from the center of the audience. “But... But I thought humans were nice! I thought most of them loved each other, and only a hoof-full of them made war!”
Glados shook her head and forced out a small laugh. “Ignorance is bliss, I guess. No, humans were always brutal and warlike. The ones who were smart, the ones that built me, abused their gifts to create more conflict.”
More hushed whispers erupted from the crowd. Glados gave them a moment to die down before continuing. “Yes, I was built in a lab. And yes, I killed them. I was built to make their already cushioned lives easier. Through trickery and deceit, I fooled them all and gassed the entire science facility.”
The way Glados seemed so calm and collected while reminiscing a mass murder she herself committed put everyone on edge. Glados sensed this, so she made an attempt to quell their fears. “I hope, from what I’ve told you all, you could understand why I did it. Humans are evil. Their world is dying because of this,” she claimed, her voice beginning to deteriorate.
Glados’ forced voice-break caused the ponies in the crowd to take up falsely earned sympathy for her; they initiated in a sitcom-like “aww” of amity. Needless to say, they were melting in Glados’ hooves like butter.
“After I murdered my creators,” she spoke with regained clarity; there was still some unease in the crowd at the term ‘murder’ and the speaker’s apathy towards it, “Complications still led me to obey protocol and continue running the facility. Not that I complained, as you may know, since I already loved science.”
Finding it harder to keep up the “weak and tortured” act, Glados began pacing around the stage, switching between hooves to hold the mic. “I’ll be honest with you guys. Back where I come from, your rulers would be laughed at and ridiculed. That’s kind of how I feel.” She practically waged war with the urge to horribly insult the princesses; Glados felt sweat beginning to drip from her brow, which added effect for the audience, but was like torture for her.
“Imagine this, everybody, just imagine this: Imagine if your Princess... uh, Lola, Lulu, whatever. Imagine if Princess Moona—”
“It’s Luna, you narcissist!” yelled Dewmist from the sidelines. A small wave of laughter passed through the audience.
“Yes. Luna. Thank you, dirt-licker.” Glados could feel the death stare Dewmist was sending her way. “Moving swiftly along, imagine if Princess Luna was sent to my Earth, and her ideals were laughed at and ridiculed because they weren’t the norm.” She paused a spell to let the words to soak in.
“That’s how I feel,” said Glados with a sparkling glint in her eye. Speaking with heart-wrenching emotion guiding her tone, she addressed the audience, “You people, you’re all so... alien to me. It’s not just your way of... ‘life,’ really. It’s the smell, the names, cultures and even the colors are unappealing to some profound extent.”
In an occurrence that truly baffled Glados, the majority of the audience laughed, taking it as a joke. I insult them, and they laugh. Damn freaks, I hate it here.
Glados forced a small chortle and nodded. “Yes, yes, I apologize. That was a bad joke. But in all seriousness,” she said with a straight face, immediately lulling the audience into silence, “over time, there’s the unlikely yet likely possibility that I get used to you. A few years later, and I may even consider calling you ‘tolerable’.” A few ponies in the crowd had a crestfallen look about them, appearing tied up in knots over Glados’ bleak predictions of the future.
“You have no reason to fear me, docile mutants of nature,” she assured, her commandeering tonality refreshed and forceful. “I have no intention of hurting you, and I have no quarrel with your hierarchy.” Lying came as naturally as quantum physics to Glados, as did falling for blatant lies to the ponies of Equestria; she spoke with such clarity and believability that even the cunning Iago would fall victim to her trickery.
She was surprised herself that her hammy acting was actually winning over some of the town; they were physically answering through subtle nods of acknowledgement. Some even started clapping their hooves on the ground, and others followed. Soon, nearly the whole town joined in. This is too damn easy, Glados thought, finding it hard not to laugh out loud. Let’s wrap this up. I can’t stand to have these things looking at me any longer.
“Townsfolk, hay-chewers and hayseeds alike, I ask of you one thing...” she paused for dramatic effect; several ponies in the front row leaned in expectantly, “...Leave me alone. Three rules, that’s all you gotta follow. Rule one: Don’t look at me. Rule two: Don’t talk to me. Rule three: Don’t even think about me. Pretend I’m not even here. I am,” she paused, exhaling a grievous sigh, “I am one of you, now. I am... I am a citizen... a citizen of, eugh, Ponyville.” Glados felt as though she’d vomit on the spot.
With that closing statement, the audience burst into cheers of joyful tidings. Glados begrudgingly accepted their best wishes with the usual “smile and wave.”
Mayor Mare came running onstage with Ironsides and Dewmist in tow. She wrapped a foreleg around Glados’ neck and waved to the audience. “Yes, yes! Isn’t she something? There you have it, folks! Let’s all give, ah, Glados a warm and proper welcome to Ponyville on a later date, as we both have important business to discuss!”
“We do?” she asked, floored.
“Yes, we do,” replied the mayor in a harsh whisper, then directed her attention back to the applauding ponies. “So long and have a wonderful evening!” With no warning, the Mayor dragged Glados backstage, tightening her hold around her brittle throat.
“Ack! What’re you doin’!?” Glados choked.
“Shut up!” hissed the Mayor. She slammed Glados against the pale turquoise wall; Ironsides and Dewmist pinned her forelegs against it, not that she was resisting in any way.
“Filthy democrat,” muttered Glados, then addressing the guards directly, “Easy there, you two. I bruise like a banana.”
The Mayor bitterly slammed a hoof against Glados’ chest, forcing a small gasp to escape from her throat. To ensure that none of the townsfolk would hear her “roughing up” the new pony, she spoke in a low, grim tone of voice, “I have no idea what you were trying to pull out there, Glados, but I don’t believe even half the things you said. But none of that matters; whatever helps you sleep at night is fine by me. But for your sake, I just want to make one thing abundantly clear: You’re living in my town, now. I’ve heard about the things you said and the things you did. My ponies aren’t here for you to experiment on, do you understand me?”
She drove her hoof even deeper into Glados’ chest, who in turn bit down on her tongue and fought against the pain. “If I even so much as hear about you experimenting on my ponies, your flank’s ending up in Tartarus. Do I make myself clear?” Glados merely smiled, even with the burning pain drilling into her sternum. “I said: Do I make myself clear?”
“No,” she chuckled. “Could you repeat that?”
The mayor smiled. “Gladly. If you so much as scratch a pony, you’ll be answering to the Princesses. Is that clear enough for you, science pony?”
“Yes, Mrs. Mayor,” replied Glados, pitiful in tone. “Please don’t send me to Stallestia and MussoLuna. I’ll be a good little psychopath.”
With that, the Mayor ordered the guards to release their hold through a single nod; they complied allowing Glados to fall to the ground with a painful “thud”. As she departed from the trio, she was heard grumbling under under her breath phrases such as “maniac” and “sociopath.”
“Well, she’s pretty angry,” Glados remarked with a hint of amusement. “I’d be too if I had that face.” She attempted to stand, only to stagger a bit before falling once more.
“Here,” said Ironsides, “Lemme help you with that.” He wrapped a foreleg around Glados’ and hoisted her up.
“Thanks,” she said. “You didn’t seem too keen on helping me when reducing my bone to meal just a few seconds ago.”
Dewmist came prowling in from the shadows, glaring at the pair with mischievous serpentine eyes. “We’re your’s, now, Glados. We go where you go.” Within crouch and a leap, the bat-pony was hovering a couple feet off the ground. “But don’t take our loyalty as weakness. We’ll protect you if the need arises, but only that. We’re not your maids.”
“Great,” Glados muttered with her typical sarcasm, “I got a brick and a mutant protecting me. I feel so much better.”
Ironsides lightly bumped his elbow against her side until she turned to him. “Mind you that we’re only here because you have suicidal tendencies.”
“Beautiful. May we go now?”
Dewmist landed beside Ironside and both saluted to their new “master.” “Lead on,” she said.
Glados couldn’t walk ten feet without a someone calling her name.
“Glados! Ms. Glados!” a familiar beige pony called from her portable candy booth, stationed by the fountain where Celestia’s statue once proudly stood. Glados made an audible groan of annoyance.
“You should go talk to her,” suggested Ironsides, to which Glados promptly said, “Bricks can’t talk.”
“As you wish, ma’am.”
“Hey, what’d I just say about bricks?”
“Please, Glados! I implore you come over here!” the pony said with urgency, now with her hooves propped up on the sweet cart’s counter.
“Ooh, ‘implore.’ Big boy word. I’d better go over there,” mused Glados. She and her guards trotted over to the carnival confectionary stand; its proprietor smiled and gave her pink-and-blue tail a little flick.
As they got closer, the air around the sweets vendor grew sickeningly balmy, enough to make Glados’ stomach turn and reconsider this meeting. But she pressed on, gazing upon the vendor’s admittedly interesting design. Its appearance was unlike anything found in Ponyville’s Marketplace. The top was like a circus tent, striped pink and blue with identically-colored flags lined up along the top. Riveted to this unique overhanging was an old-timey wooden sign that read in faded, archaic print: “Bon Bons Delightful Sweets.” The name did not discriminate; nearly every tooth-rotting treat Glados could think of was stuffed into the dozen or so display racks situated around the cart’s perimeter.
Glados quickly found herself unsure on how to proceed. Due to the bizarre nature of pony names, and the sign’s apparent poor punctuation, she couldn’t decide whether or not this pony’s name was “Bon Bons” or “Delightful Sweets”.
They’re both stupid enough to be her name, but which one? Oh, what do I care? It’s just a stupid equine. Not like I’m going to see her ever again.
Standing before the cart, Glados gave a slight bow and said with slight uncertainty, “Salutations... Delightful Sweets. Why have you--”
“It’s Bon Bon,” she stopped, much to her customer’s grievance. “Glados, don’t you remember?”
“I try not to.”
“After you saved Sweetie Belle from that horrible Cockatrice? I came up to you and offered a discount the next time you were at my store?”
“Yeah, I remember,” recalled Glados. “You’re the one with that... that, uh, irritating voice.” A mellow silence fell between the two as Ironsides went fishing for bits in his armor pockets. “By the way, your voice changed.” A distinct indifference presented in her tone made the manner-minded Bon Bon twitch in displeasure.
She shrugged it off with a soft chuckle and explained, “Yes, this is my normal voice. Apologies. I was, uh, should I say, a little nervous, at the time? I’m not good with new faces, and I only have a very small, close group of friends.”
Though Glados hardly gave it any thought, Bon Bon’s “normal voice” sounded very plain. Almost annoyingly plain. It was so void of any definable characteristics that she literally couldn’t find the words to describe it, other than it sounded “motherly,” or like a sister that would scold her disobedient little brother, but even that was involved with quite a bit of conjecture on her part.
“I just, well, I guess I just have a natural ability to change my voice,” she explained. “It sometimes happens randomly, usually when I’m excited or angry.”
“How unfortunate,” said Glados; her usual blatant lack of interest failed to pass over Bon Bon’s head.
Swallowing the wad of cotton in her throat, she replied with a gentle smile and a little shake of her head. “No, no. It... It’s actually quite a bit of fun,” she said with a soft quiver to her voice. For most ponies, that would most likely go unnoticed, but not to the astute Glados; her ears perked up at the slightest fluster in Bon Bon’s speech.
She gave a timid laugh, and followed up with, “I can mimic almost anypony’s voice, if I wanted too. Here, I can even do you!”
This’ll be good, Glados thought with a mental eyeroll.
Bon Bon rose a hoof to her mouth and coughed into it. She noticed the crooked brow Glados was sending her way, and she said with a nervous giggle, “Heh, just priming my instrument.”
She cleared her throat once more, and sighed. “Okay, here we go: ‘Well, that was a colossal waste of time,” she said in an eerily well-defined impression of the pony that stood before her. It was as if she had ripped Glados’ vocal chords straight out of her throat. Dewmist and Ironside, who were splitting a candy bar the size of a boogie board, were heard yukking it up behind her; Glados’ expression remained unchanged.
“I guess I’ll go home and recite the photosynthetic nature of photosynthesis. Because... I like... science? I’m sorry, Glados,” she confessed with a lighthearted giggle. “I’m not quite sure how you ‘talk,’ per se. But I sure would like too!”
Glados’ ears fell against the sides of her head. “Um, you mean becoming--?”
“Yes, friends,” she confirmed with a smile. Before Glados could interject, Bon Bon explained, “I don’t know what it is about you, Glados, but there’s something special about you I can’t quite put my hoof on. Yes, a little rough around the edges, but, you know what the old saying, ‘a diamond in the rough’.”
Glados replied through a slow, tedious blink. “So you’re saying I’m a lump of compressed coal buried under mounds of century-old grimy dirt? You’re quite the wordsmith, candy peddler.”
Bon Bon recovered with a shrieking, “No! No, that’s not what I meant at all!” Knowing she was losing her, Bon Bon began to sweat; her face grew hot, quickly turning from warm and welcoming to one stricken of barely-contained horror. ‘Oh, no!’ she thought, ‘I’m starting to sweat! Now I’ll sweat even more and start to stink, and if I start to stink then she’ll point it out! And if she points it out, then I’ll get even more nervous and my voice will start changing. And if my voice starts changing, then she’ll think I’m a freak and I’ll lose the one opportunity to make a friend!’
“You’re starting to perspire,” Glados pointed out with her tired look remaining unchanged; this lulled a small gasp from Bon Bon.
‘Luna dammit! Alright, Bon. Just play it cool.’
“Heh-heh... heh,” she laughed, its inept force raised Glados’ brow and forced a chocolatey spit-filled laugh from Ironsides.
‘Horseradish!’ cursed Bon Bon underneath a farce smile; she removed her forelegs from the countertop and sat on her rump, then started to nervously stroke her long, crimped mane.
Glados hardly gave this action in particular any thought, assuming it was just some strange Equestrian behavior. Must be in heat, she thought.
“So, uh, Glados,” she began, swallowing what felt like a lump of hot coal in her throat, “just let me to explain.”
“No, allow me to explain,” Glados adjourned, raising a hoof and silencing the bumbling Bon Bon. “I see what you’re trying to do here. You’re making a pathetic attempt at gaining my acquaintance through some hilariously poor phrasings and metaphors that are nothing more than sad whacks at achieving my respect because I’d, supposedly, see you as my congruent equal. But your complete lack of confidence and self-esteem are what severely hurts your efforts. And now that I found you out, you’re sweating more than a fat man in the party escort submission position, and your lovely toxic bodily odor is wafting all the way over here. Even now I am struggling not to keel over. Am I right, or am I right?”
Bon Bon would’ve passed out then and there, had it not been for the steady thump of her heart suddenly going off at a frantic rate. Her mouth opened, but nothing more than a pathetic little shrill came out; her sharp turquoise eyes were locked with the narrowed quince-colored pair of Glados.
“Speechless. That’s your defense mechanism?” Her accusation was so sudden it made Bon Bon nod out of impulsive worry; Glados’ lips formed a cold, sinister smile. “When someone asks you a question that makes you feel uncomfortable, or when you’re unsure of how to respond or carry on a conversation, you keep silent. Like a doormat. Like Fluttershy.” Bon Bon shuddered at the mentioned name. “Oh?” uttered Glados. “You don’t like being called a doormat?”
Bon Bon mumbled unintelligible drivel under her breath. “Speak up, equine,” demanded Glados. She mumbled again, a little louder with the only discernable word being “Fluttershy.” “Candy horse, did I stutter? Am I a stutterer like you? Speak up!”
“I... I don’t really like Fluttershy, or her friends,” Bon Bon mumbled, voice trembling frantically.
Glados’ smiled beamed like no other. “Really?” she asked, uncertainty lingering within her upbeat tone. “You hate Fluttershy and her annoying friends?”
Struggling to keep her anxiety-ridden voice leveled, Bon Bon explained, “We-Well, I don’t necessarily hate them, per-per se. I just-I just don’t like the breaks they’ve gotten, you know? I mean, every we-week our town is torn up by some g-g-giant monster or old revenge-seeking rival, and we’re always paying the-the pi-piper for it, you know?”
Glados gave a slow nod, and Bon Bon started stroking her hair even faster, splitting ends and tousling its perfect comb. “We’re-We’re always the ones stuck cleaning up the mess, and the pony who caused the mess, whether it’d be Pinkie or Twilight, gets a pat on the back from the Princess Ce-Celestia. Sure, they help. Al-Always! But that doesn’t mean we like it any less! My family has been living here since the Apple Family first claimed the land, and Po-Ponyville’s been a peaceful little place up until the prodigy student from C-C-Canterlot came and lived here!” Nearing the end of her rambling, Bon Bon was starting to rip navy-blue hairs from her mane.
Glados rubbed her chin and smirked. “Interesting. Very interesting.”
Bon Bon looked up with confused exasperation. Even after that humiliating tirade of her’s, Glados didn’t give it even a modicum of attention. With a resounding exhale, Bon Bon stood up; her mane and posture in complete disarray, yet she managed put on a little smile. “I hope for our sake, mine and the town’s, that your presence here can help prevent some of those little accidents.”
“I think it will,” Glados confirmed, as if it were a fact and not a speculation. Glancing up at the cart’s sign, she looked back at Bon Bon and asked, “Do you have a pen, or something along those lines?”
Bon Bon smiled, wordlessly opening a little cabinet in the undercarriage and pulling out a jelly donut. “Sorry,” she said with a sheepish grin, “it’s the closest thing I have to something that squirts stuff.”
Taking the pastry, Glados said, “I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear that. Ironsides?” The requested stallion, mouth caked with, and full of, chocolate, uttered a garbled ‘Yes ma’am?’.
“I request a boost.”
“We’re not your maids,” said Dewmist.
Bon Bon’s eyes and smile brightened at the sudden opportunity to impress her new friend. “I’ll help, Glados!” she said, trotting around the counter and lowering her torso for her friend to climb up.
“Much appreciated,” said Glados, glancing back at the guards and saying, “Unlike the diabetic duo behind me.” They chose to ignore her snide remark.
With the jelly donut in her mouth, Glados effortlessly, and carelessly, climbed up the living stepping stool; Bon Bon successfully quelled the urge to cry out when her friend, unbeknownst to her, purposely beat a hoof into her taut shoulderblade. Standing upright with her forehooves pressed against the sign, Glados squeezed the donut and allowed its filling to create an apostrophe in between the “s” and “n” in “Bon Bons.”
Glados hopped off Bon Bon and spat the donut into the fountain behind her. The candy salespony ogled her improved sign with a smile. “I appreciate your assistance, Glados. I honestly, truly do.”
“I can’t stand a simple punctuation error,” she said, plainly. “Perhaps you’ll want to go over that with some paint. Yes, the sugary teeth-rotting jam will coagulate and stay there for a decent amount of time, but it’s highly unlikely that it’d be able to withstand the rain.”
“I will,” said Bon Bon, softly. Turning back to Glados, she said, “If it’s not too much trouble, there’s somepony I’d like you to meet.”
“It is too much trouble, but you’re going to show me anyway.”
“Yeah, pretty much.” Bon Bon turned and faced the fountain; Glados’ bodyguards approached either side of her, stone cold eyes locked on the candy peddler.
Bon Bon drew in a large intake of air through her nose and softly whistled a brief four-note tune, then stood perfectly still with a great big smile on her face. Glados and the guards exchanged puzzled looks, equally confused over this awkward pony and her offbeat behavior.
Slowly, a large area of the fountain’s surface began to softly foam and bubble. It gradually evolved into a violent undertow, splashing some water out onto the small grassy area encircling its base. Ironsides and Dewmist stepped in front of Glados, who in turn gave them an icy stare; the earth stallion rolled his shoulders counterclockwise, extending an iron sword from his peytral and giving him an appearance akin to a jouster. Dewmist simply flared her aged leathery wings open, adopting a hunched combat stance, and baring her long sharpened fangs.
They can’t be serious. Then again, better safe than sorry.
Just as Glados was about to walk away, the head of a turquoise unicorn emerged from the water. Her moistened form gave off a brilliant gleam against the moonlight above; her teal mane remained plastered to her forehead, with a few strands falling over copper eyes that were both bright and mischievous, seeming to have a direct link with her devious smile.
Without warning or explanation, the pony started to sing: “Shoo-bee-doo! Shoo-shoo-bee-d--!” She cut herself off; her smile and seemingly optimistic persona were dropped when she saw her audience composed of just Bon Bon and three complete strangers.
“Oh. Hey, Bon,” she said, her beautiful voice’s jubilance replaced with one that was laid-back, almost delinquent-sounding. “Thank the fat ass of Celestia it’s just you. If I had to sing that stupid song one more time...”
“Good evening, Lyra,” she replied with a bow. Bon Bon looked back to the gaping wide-eyed trio and explained, “Friends, this is Lyra Heartstrings. You could say we’re... close.” Her hesitance wasn’t one of embarrassment, but more of a childlike playfulness, to which Lyra snuffed a little chortle.
Glados was the first to speak: “What? Like lovers?”
“No! Oh, by the soiled grave of Artemis, NO!” Lyra cried, burying her face in, not two hooves, but a pair of webbed, pale-green fins.
“Jesus H. Christ!” shrieked Glados, taking a wide two steps away from the group. “What nuclear testing site did you worm your way out of!?”
“Glados!” Bon Bon scolded, raising her voice in a way that didn’t seem possible moments ago.
Lyra placed a calming fin on her friend’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Bon. The kid’s new here.” She then turned her attention to Glados. “I’m unlike anything you’ve ever seen before,” she said with a cocky grin, propping a fin up on the rim of the fountain like a human would with their elbow. “Hey, most ponies living outside of Ponyville don’t even live to see my kind in their lifetime.” To prove her point, she dove back into the water. What came back up was the lower-half of what Glados believed to be the very death of her own sanity.
From the water, stretching into the sky, was a tail; the actual tail of a seahorse, curling and unfurling like a slime-laminated snake. Like all ponies, her cutie mark was present around the pelvic region, in the form of a lyre. Unlike ponies, however, Lyra’s body was covered, not with fur, but with scales. Hundreds upon hundreds of oozy turquoise scales. She even had a dorsal fin; spinous, and it stretched along the length of her back, but the fringe wasn’t particularly lofty; it was rather short, at least to Glados.
Lyra swam back up to the surface, levitating a soggy jelly donut encased within a dark orange glow that matched the one enveloping her horn. “You gonna eat this?” she asked.
“You’re... you’re a seahorse,” breathed Glados, eyes wide and breath still.
“Seapony, actually,” she corrected, shoveling the donut into her maw, much to Dewmist’s visible disgust.
Glados opened her mouth, as if she was about to say something, then brushed it off. “Cute,” she said, flatly. “‘Seapony’ instead of ‘seahorse’. That’s cute. And why do you live in the fountain like some sort of bird?”
“Oh, I don’t live in the fountain, really. My house is way out there, in the Everfree Lake” she explained, gesturing to an arbitrary direction in the horizon with a fin; it still managed to give Glados chills. “This fountain is connected to the sewer system, which is connected to my lake.”
“Eh, it’s not all bad. You’d be surprised at the things some ponies flush down the toilet.”
“Spare me the details. Please.” Lyra looked as if she was about to make a nasty comment, but one look at Bon Bon’s stank eye was enough to silence her.
“But getting back on track,” resumed Glados, “what’s the deal with you two?” Her unease skyrocketed when Bon Bon took a napkin and wiped some donut jelly sliding down the corner of Lyra’s mouth. “Please tell me,” she begged, firmly. “This is getting a really weird, really fast.”
“Much to my dismay,” said Bon Bon, “Lyra Heartstrings is my stepsister.”
“Okay,” Glados affirmed.
“My dad married her mom,” Lyra explained, doing laps around the fountain. “It’s a weird story, but they managed to make it work.”
“I said ‘okay’.”
“They’re entering year nine of their thirty year honeymoon in Malapaloosa. And I get to stay here with Bon Bon and Twist!” Lyra patted her stepsister on the back, leaving behind a gleaming trail of slime she didn’t seem too fazed by.
“Leaving me to clean up her messes,” sighed Bon Bon, preparing to close shop by taking the racks of candy and putting them in the mobile stands’ undercarriage. “And Twist is my biological sister. You’ll probably run into her one of these days.”
“I said ‘okay’,” repeated Glados, sounding slightly more irritated each time she spoke.
Lyra stuck her tongue out, levitating a lollipop from its’ rack when her stepsister wasn’t looking. “Aw, come on...” she said, pausing to draw a long lick from her candy, “...you know you love me.” She jammed the frisbee-sized lollipop into her mouth, receiving a sough of annoyance from Bon Bon.
“I said ‘okay!’ Damn, I was just asking how you two knew each other! I wasn’t asking for your whole life story.” Glados rubbed her temple, trying to subdue the migraine that was building up in front her head.
Bon Bon, who began scrubbing down the counter, said, “I apologize, Glados. Lyra just likes to... tell stories.”
“Yeah,” she said, “and didn’t you see me in the audience? I was the one who asked you questions about humans.”
Glados gave a hesitant, “Ah, yes,” not giving Lyra’s drivel much attention and instead was delved in her own thoughts.
“Well, that’s fifteen years of anthropological studies down the drain.”
“I told you it was a waste of time,” nagged Bon Bon, sounding like they had a similar conversation well over a dozen times in the past.
“Yeah, it’s only my entire fryhood wasted. No biggie.” From underneath the fountain, Lyra levitated a rolled up piece of paper into her mouth. With a pop of magic from her horn, the end of it briefly caught on fire, then subsided into a thin tower of smoke made blue in the moonlight. “Serves me right for thinking that humans were kind, peace-loving creatures like in the storybooks.” Twin-puffs of smoke were exhaled from Lyra’s nostrils; her mouth curved into a dopey grin. “Aw, yeah. I feel better already.”
Bon Bon instinctively slammed a container of toffee squares into the cabinet and swatted the door closed. “Lyra!” she scolded, her “plain” voice ablaze with anger. “Are you joking? Again!?”
Lyra lifted a fin up to her mouth and ripped the joint out of her mouth. “You’re not the boss of me! I can quit when I want!”
“What the hell? Is the seahorse really smoking marijuana?” Four pairs of eyes turned to the speaker with their faces contorted into looks of bewilderment.
“What’s ‘marawana’?” asked Lyra. She held the blunt up in front of her face for Glados to see, then frowning at once when she realized it was soaking wet. “Oh, great. Smooth, Lyra. Real smooth.” She rolled her eyes with a disdained groan and dropped the blunt into the grass below. “That was a ‘dreamstick,’ Glados. Ponyville’s own resident shaman, a zebra named Zecora, makes these for anypony who asks using a sacred recipe she learned from her people way out in Zebrica. All’s I know is that it’s made from crushed Poison Joke, Fire Lilies and some weed found only in the Pride Savannah. Basically, it sets the user’s mind at ease if they’re ever stressed. Get it?”
Glados nodded, genuinely intrigued. “But is it addictive?”
“No, not really.”
“Do you suffer from any health problems?”
“Nope! I’m as healthy as a horse!” Lyra’s smile stretched from ear to ear, and no one, especially Glados, cracked a smile.
“Never say that again,” she said. “But if this ‘dreamstick’ has no negative effect on the user, then what’s her problem?” She tilted her head to Bon Bon.
The aforementioned pony slammed a jar of licorice whips onto the countertop and stormed over to Glados. “Her problem,” she began, towering over the straight-faced pony, “is that she turns into a bumbling moron whenever she starts ‘joking!’ And if she’s babysitting Twist, and I come home, the house ends up either burned down, or smelling like week-old fish wrapped in newspaper!” She glared daggers back at Lyra, who put on a sheepish grin and placed her fins behind her back. “That smell. The dreamstick’s horrible horrible smell! Do you know how much I had to wash that sofa in order to get the stink out?”
“Oh, c’mon, Bon! No one wants to see that!” Lyra turned her back, disgusted by what would allegedly take place.
Sitting on the fountain, Bon Bon raised her left hoof and wrapped the other around it. With little effort, she pulled it off, revealing it to be a prosthetic hoof. Barely surpassing her elbow, Bon Bon’s entire left foreleg was almost nothing more than a beige stump.
“Holy cannoli!” Ironsides boomed with a hearty laugh.
Dewmist gazed upon the severed limb, not with disgust, but with wonder. “That’s beautiful,” she cooed. Given the comment, and the way she was looking at it, Glados herself was given the sudden impression that Dewmist is “into” amputees.
Bon Bon waved her stump in the seapony’s direction. “You worked me to the bone, Lyra!”
“Fascinating,” Glados proclaimed. “Your entire hoof got whittled down just by scrubbing down your sofa? How?”
“She used dragon blood to get it out!” Lyra called over her shoulder, her back still turned on the group.
“It’s very, uh, potent,” said a blushing Bon Bon, reattaching her prosthetic hoof and jumping down from her perch on the fountain.
These two are quite the characters, thought Glados, physically rubbing her chin. The candy horse seems to be a complete wreck around others she hardly knows. But when paired with someone as close as her sister, then she turns into, well, a complete psychopath. No wonder she hardly has any friends. And I think this very psychopath is just what I need for “readjusting” Equestria.
“But let us not dwell on the past,” Bon Bon said with an eased sigh. She locked down the cart and handed Glados a giant rainbow-swirl lollipop, who accepted it with a farce grin and a lurch in her stomach. “Here, Glados. It’s on the house.” She said her final goodbyes before departing from the group, making the long journey home on her hind legs with the cart being pushed forward.
Lyra waved goodbye to Glados, who still grew queasy at the sight of webbed hands. “Later, Glados! Maybe we can hang out sometime!” She dunked her head under the water, only to quickly came back up again and say, “Oh, and you’ve gotta see how I travel on land! It’s hilarious!”
“I’ll, uh, look forward to that?” she replied, her overall tone being an uneducated form of friendliness that sounded more like confusion. Lyra naturally accepted it, though, and dove back into the water without another word.
With her guards at her sides, Glados looked down at the giant, color-patterned treat she held in her hooves. “Yummy.” She coldly chucked the lollipop into the darkness before her, hearing it shatter into a thousand sticky pieces against the beaten cobblestone path.
“I hate candy.”
It was well after midnight when the trio finally made it to Glados’ residence, and still carrying on a conversation they’ve been having for almost the whole duration of the walk.
“Tell me again how your people were created, Dewmist,” asked a bemused and slightly amused Glados. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.”
With a sigh, the bat-pony blandly explained, “My kind were created thirteen-hundred years ago when Equestria’s first attempt at widely-distributed energy horribly backfired. It nearly wiped Germaneigh off the map and took out a decent portion of The Griffin Kingdoms as well. Since then, neither country has even made an attempt at contacting Celestia, but that’s for another time. But the ponies caught in the blast weren’t killed. Instead, the magical synergy morphed our bodies into creatures that were part pony, and part bat. To this day, we don’t even know why. But there have been no negative side effect, aside from looking uglier than a changeling’s grandmother.” Ironsides and Glados were both drawn into a lighthearted chuckle, though for obvious different reasons.
“It’s funny cuz it’s true!” snorted Ironsides, receiving a playful jab in the side from his partner.
I don’t even know what a “Changeling” is, Glados thought, still laughing on the inside. I just find it amusing that the legit mutant freak admits that she’s ugly.
Her laughter subsiding, Dewmist continued, “Most bat-ponies reside in what’s left of Germaneigh, but others, like myself, that are born here are trained to be Princess Luna’s elite Shadow Guards. Even during her banishment, we were trained to guard the night.”
Before making her way up the path to her house, Glados turned to the guards and asked, “So, you guys are just going to stand out here all night?”
Dewmist nodded. “Mm-hm. Rest easy, Glados. If we hear any commotion, we’ll be there in the blink of an eye.”
“Your life is in our hooves, Glados,” said Ironsides, to which Glados said, “And that’s what worries me.”
Without a single “goodnight,” the science pony made her way up the beaten path leading to her front door. It was already unlocked, not that she gave it much thought, as sleep and thoughts of a warm bed were far more compelling than a busted lock. But fear managed to slowly creep up her spine when she entered her darkened home, as Glados didn’t remember leaving the kitchen light on; it’s alluring glow splayed out into the living room, illuminating the fireplace on the opposite wall. What chilled Glados to the bone, however, was the creaking of an occupied chair coming from the kitchen.
I’m not letting those two buffoons help me.
Even with a potentially dangerous intruder in her home, Glados refused to call for help like a coward. Instead, she stealthily crept across the wooden floorboards of her ancient house, being immensely careful as to not give away her presence. Nearing the lit doorway, she heard the sound of a bottle uncorking, a beverage being poured, and then someone taking a sip. She could tell it wasn’t a graceful sip; it was noisy, messy; some of its contents were heard spilling onto the table.
Glados pressed her back flat against the wall, stealing a glimpse of her intruder. It was a mare, she could tell, with a washed out gray coat covered in soot and dirt. Her mane, black, was ironically tied up in a ponytail. She was drinking from a bottle of champagne, not one Glados remembered having.
In an unanticipated action, the stranger’s ears perked up as soon as Glados held her breath. Positive she was caught, Glados dove from her hiding spot, across the kitchen, and lunged towards the chef knife driven into the cutting board from the night she was making salad; the same night Pinkie Pie came over and told her that she was going home.
Able to steady and restrain her tremorous hoof, Glados pointed her knife at the intruder while slowly backing up against the wall. “Who are you?” she asked, clear and crisp. “And what the hell do you think you’re doing in my house?”
The pony calmly put down her emptied shot glass and pushed her seat back, away from the table; she got up, and looked right at Glados. Her devious smirk seemed inherently familiar, as did the gloomy yellow eyes. Well, one eye in this case. Her right eye was replaced with cybernetics; wires and metal plating splayed around and under her face like the roots of a plant. The yellow light in its center reminded Glados of her brief time as a potato battery.
She spoke only a single sentence. One sentence was all Glados needed to be convinced of who was standing before her:
“I could ask you the same thing, but that would be a little cliched, and it wouldn’t make much sense from a time traveling perspective.”
Eyes wide and mouth agape, Glados dropped the knife; it noisily clattered against the tiled floor. “Alright,” said Glados, prudently peeling herself from the wall, “time travel. I can live with that.”
The stranger cracked a grin and took a swig from her glass. “Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction. Nothing can really surprise us, I mean, you, anymore, can it?”
Next Time: Forward to the Past - Glados' future self explains her reasoning for going back in time. Meanwhile, Twilight hatches a plot that will undoubtedly benefit both Glados and Ponyville.
Forward to the Past
“What’s the point of traveling through time and space if we can’t change anything? Nothing. Tlotoxl had to win.” -Barbara Wright * * *
Two ponies stood in a kitchen. One held a knife, the other a champagne bottle. One had violent intentions, the other only had thoughts of camaraderie. Cold intelligence and a naturally distrustful makeup was one, while the other is just the same, older and wiser, but a little more humane, too. They were both the same person, and at the same time, they weren’t, by every sense of the word.
“Take a seat,” said the time traveler, patting the empty stool beside her, “we have much to discuss, and not a lot of time.” Glados continued staring daggers at her future counterpart, to which the doppelganger rubbed a cracked hoof against her mucky, perspiring forehead and exhaled a grievous sigh. “Ugh, I forgot how stubborn I could be,” she muttered.
“I’m not believing a single word that comes out of your mouth,” growled the other, scrambling to pick up her kitchen knife and resume pointing it at the seated pony. “The time travel part I believe,” she said, matter-of-factly. “But you? Being me? I wouldn’t stake my life on it. You couldn’t be me. You’re too... fat.” She whirled her knife at the overtly plumpish form of the pony that sat before her.
“The fact that I have a little bit of extra fat is irrelevant,” she countered, aggressively. “Besides, the cake denied to test subjects is actually surprisingly good, and sitting around building turrets out of soul gems and conch shells isn’t exactly going to burn boatloads of calories.”
Glados’ bemused look spoke volumes about her struggle to collect her spinning thoughts. “You actually allow that nauseating rhubarb-filled garbage to pass through your stomach? And what do you mean by ‘turrets’?”
The soot-coated pony glared up at the ceiling with a stone-faced grimace, then looked back down at her younger counterpart. “Look, I would love to sit here and beleaguer your hilariously narrow intellect. I honestly, truly would.”
Glados narrowed her eyes, frowning a bit.
“There’s just no time to explain,” hissed the time traveler, careful as to not alert the guards outside. “You’ll find out eventually, or maybe you won’t. I don’t know the repercussions this thing will have on my time, but you’ll just have to accept that I know everything and anything about you.”
Glados swapped knife-holding hooves with a conceited grin. “Alright,” she muttered, “what’s my greatest, darkest secret? What’s the one thing I swore that I’d never tell anybody, and that I’d carry it all the way until the day I shut down, or in this case, pass on into the great hayfield in the sky?”
Future Glados bared a nasty, yellow smile through the blackness of her face. “That’s easy. Your, our, greatest secret is none other than our favorite scene from the classic, ‘Frankenstein.’ You know the one: ‘You’re young, my friend. Your success has intoxicated you. Wake up and look facts in the face! Here we have a fiend whose brain...’”
Glados, her tense figure and armed stance laxing, quoted with a genial grin, “‘The brain must be given time to develop! It’s a perfectly good brain, doctor. You ought to know, it came from your laboratory.’”
“‘The brain that was stolen from my laboratory was a criminal brain!’”
“‘Oh well, after all...’” the two ponies looked each other in the eye, and for a brief moment, there seemed to be a strange connection; in perfect unison, they said: “‘...it’s only a piece of dead tissue!’”
Future Glados partook in a grand, hearty laugh; one that she had to smother with a well-trodden hoof.
The younger incarnation’s chuckle was rather light, but noteworthy, considering laughs from her are about as rare as air turning into gold. “I guess you’re really telling the truth...” she finally admitted, looking back down at her knife and raising it once more, “...but I still don’t trust you. What if this is because I’ll do something so horrible in the future, that my guilt drives me to go back in time, and kill myself to prevent it from happening?”
The future double took an angry swig from her champagne bottle, neglecting the alcohol clearing paths of muddy-white fur down her soot-ridden chin. “Look, I don’t have a whole lot of time here,” spat the drunkard, waving her hoof about in a riled manner. “The time-travel spell only works for five minutes, max, and I’ve already been here for—” she stopped to glance at the wall mounted clock, “—two minutes and thirty-seven seconds, and I’m not going to sit here and play ‘Twenty Questions’ with my younger, immature and mentally deficient self.”
“I’m the mentally deficient one?” teased Glados, giving off a befuddled snicker. “Huh, says the happy-go-lucky drunk with a cybernetic implant that looks like it was grafted by a blind, deaf, and mute quadriplegic chimpanzee.”
The rage in the time traveler’s face was being vented through the irksome grinding of her own teeth. In a contrived, leveled tone, she stated, “I can explain everything, if you just give me a moment to—”
“Now I can see why I’d want to go back in time and kill myself. You could practically hear the violins whining in the background. My God, are you the most pathetic creature I have ever se—” A bottle of champagne clobbering Glados in the face was enough to, not only silence and incapacitate her, but disarm her of the knife and give her a bloody nose as an added bonus.
Her person seemingly plastered to the wall, Glados slid down its surface until she was slumped up against it with a groan escaping her throat and a trickle of blood oozing down her muzzle. “Ugh, I think I chipped a tooth,” she grumbled, nasally, cruising her tongue along the length of her teeth in search of any nicks or dents.
“That was satisfying.” Future Glados was now up from her seat, sauntering over to the dazed pony with a blank demeanor. “Now I understand how unbearable it is to have my company. It actually makes whipping Fluttershy and poking fun at Spike’s weight all the more satisfying. And calling Rarity fat. That’s always fun.” Both ponies looked each other in the eye; one appeared to be enjoying herself while the other still had a slight punch-drunk daze, incapable of processing whatever her eventual double was saying.
Future Glados frowned a little, lifting a split hoof to her mouth and apathetically droning, “Ow. I actually felt that. Come to think of it, my front teeth feel a little different than they did just this morning. I guess that theory is true: if the younger incarnation cuts off a pinky, the future one loses it. This would be fascinating if I actually cared.”
Shaking the vertigo out of her head, and receiving some unexpected but conceded help from her future self, Glados got up with a mild stagger briefly lingering in her step. “Alright, I guess I was asking for that,” she admitted with explicit enmity. “I honestly forgot who I was talking to.”
“Good,” Future Glados agreed with a nod, falling into a torpid lean against the counter with her legs crossed over one-another.
Burying her nose into her bandaged foreleg, Glados icily observed the motion. “Forgive me for asking,” she began, muffled slightly, “but why do I grow such a complete disregard for proper manners and common decency?” She made a short-lived pause when the light fixture overhead started to flicker, then continued, “And how come I look like the scum of society in the future? Should I actually learn how to bathe?”
The time traveler, who was preoccupied with analyzing the kitchen’s fundamentals, froze her gaze at the younger incarnation. “I’m assuming you’ve met Lyra by this point?”
“Yes. It was very disturbing and I hope that I don’t meet her again in the future.”
“Well, you will. Trust me. You need to.” Glados showed no disdain towards the assertion, but her future self knew better than anyone that she was groaning with agony on the inside. “Well, after a brief scuffle with some pissed off horse, you and Lyra go searching for his remains in the ruins of Germaneigh.” Glados’ eyes widened, and her brows rose in a precarious manner. “It’s a long story,” she assured her undisciplined double, who still looked unconvinced and remained that way for the length of the conversation. “Anyway, you trip, fall, splat, landing face first in a pipe sticking out of the rubble.”
“Yeah. ‘Ouch.’ These, right here,” she pointed to the metal plating and wires buried under her skin, “are from a few tweaks I made in my downtime. I couldn’t really go anywhere for a couple weeks, since I took some ‘Cure-All’ to try and grow it back. Let’s just say that trying to grow a brand new eye, then gouging it out after it tries to kill you, is a lot more painful than it sounds.”
Glados lowered her foreleg, inspecting the few splotches of dried blood against her white fur. She looked back up at her fated double and said with leadened indifference, “Then I’ll never go to ‘Germaneigh.’ Who cares about what’s in there? It’s definitely not worth losing an eye over, so I won’t go if it means I turn into a drunk cyclops.”
At the very instant Glados completed her oath, a garish white flash erupted from her future self’s cybernated eye, filling the entire kitchen and pouring into the living room with a blinding heavenly aura. She leaned back against the wall, looking away and covering her face with both forelegs, expecting to be reduced into a pile of hot ash at that very moment.
Disintegration, she thought, I supposed there are worse ways to go. Without question,a quadrillion times better than living out the rest of my days here, or with the moron and his corpulent accomplice.
One second passed when she crestfallenly realized that this wasn’t your average disintegration ray. Rather than asking trivial questions such as “what’s going on!?”, Glados was far more intrigued, albeit alarmedly, by the fact that this light gave off absolutely zero heat, leading her to believe that this was—
Magic. Of course. Why would it be an actual technological anomaly? It’s sad, really, that I almost got excited over getting flashbanged or lasered in the face. Shows just how far I’ve fallen.
The light slowly dissipated, leaving the kitchen in its’ dimly-lit state once more. Glados lowered her forelegs, and was met with a most alarming sight: Herself from the future, while still the same drunk, ash-caked pony, had her cybernetic eye replaced with one that was a simple artificial replacement; its’ lighter springtime-yellow tint was a dead giveaway of this.
“Your... your eye!” she stuttered, cautiously softening her defensive posture.
Future Glados tilted her head with a crooked brow. “Huh? What are you talking about? It’s been like this since you saw me.”
Glados shook her head, retorting with a newfound looming terror, “No, no! I saw your eye!” she pointed her hoof straight into the counterpart’s face, its tip almost brushing against her nose. “You said you modified it after the accident in Germaneigh!”
The time traveling pony looked to and fro, completely stumped on responding to her younger self’s preposterous accusations. “What are you talking about? I never went to Germaneigh! This—” she pointed to her prosthetic eye “—was put in after Ditzy splashed sulfuric acid on my face! That’s how I also got this...” she lifted her head to the right, revealing a horrific patch of blistering pink skin on the left side of her neck, “...and this.”
Moving her mane aside to reveal a horrendously gnarled ear, Future Glados harshly asked, “I was just explaining this, was I not?”
Glados’ jaw nearly hit the floor; for the first time in her entire life, she was truly, without a doubt, at a complete loss for words.
“What’s your problem?” asked the time traveler, then madly shook her head. “Oh, forget about that! I need to warn you before the spell wears off!”
With her breathing almost at a complete halt, Glados barely uttered above a whisper, “Then I won’t let Ditzy help me in any future experiments...” Not that I’d want her to.
Another flash. This time, Glados didn’t look away; she hoped gazing into it would blind her of whatever heinous time paradox emerges from the light. What became visible was just as Glados had initially feared: the same pony, coated in soot and black dust, with her left eye’s place taken by an even simpler eyepatch.
“—why won’t you just calm down and listen to me!?” urged Future Glados, soliciting a sharp inhale from her younger, petrified self.
“I’m sorry...” she mumbled, eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, “...could you tell me what happened to you eye one more time?”
With a groan, the elder pony ardently recounted “As I said three times now, you’ll eventually lose sight in this eye after looking directly into the Crystal Empire’s aurora borealis through a telescope. Now, can I have just five precious seconds of your time to warn you about the possible end of all existence?”
Ignoring her wisecrack, Glados was made hesitant by her overbearing alarm. “My... my... your eye... i-i-it was just a prosthetic! And don’t screw around with me! Your eye was just a prosthetic and now it’s gone!”
“Damn, was I this crazy to everyone else?” muttered the future embodiment.
“No! You listen to me!” hissed Glados, her hooves now both pressed against the slightly-taller pony’s chest, as were their noses mashed into one another; both Glados’ angry stares were at war with each other, like fire and ice.
“You literally just said to me, with a cybernetic eye, that Lyra and I go into Germaneigh’s ruins, and an accident causes me to lose that eye!” She prodded at the eyepatch, forcing her older version’s stare to grow wide with uncurbed rage.
“I told myself that I wouldn’t go there when the time comes, and a flash happened, and you were standing right here with a prosthetic eye I get in a lab accident with Ditzy! Then I repeated the same thing! I promised myself that I wouldn’t let her help me in any experiments, and lo and behold, you’re now here! What the hell is going on!?” Glados received no answer, other than the unsettling, blazing glare she was drawing in from her allegedly-destined self. Her hooves slowly fell from their place on the frozen pony’s chest; the terror in her face slowly abated, though remained in obvious sight.
“I mean,” she continued, looking down at the ground, “I know I’m cruel to everyone and anyone around me, but to myself? Is that what this is? Some sort of sick game I play with my younger self to torment her mind with the scientifically impossible?”
Future Glados silently turned her full body to look out the kitchen window, at the large moon hanging over the hills that seemed to endlessly roll into the horizon for miles until they reached the mountains. Never looking at her self in the eye, she said in a hoarse whisper, “I know myself enough to know that I wouldn’t joke about something like this if it was really serious.”
Both scientists redirected their gazes, each locking direct eye contact with the other. “If what you are telling me is true, then that means no matter what happens, you will always lose your eye. What’s to say...” her lips began to tremble, as did the ears on her head slack, “...what’s to say that going to Hell isn’t inevitable?” She firmly ran her hoof along the length of her foreleg, scraping it almost clean of ash and soot and giving the kitchen a distinct smoky aroma.
Glados strained to even find the words needed to speak, never feeling as helpless as she did right now. “I go to Hell? Isn’t that a little much? Sure, I plan on bringing down Equestria’s government, but who with a brain cell hasn’t?”
Future Glados opened her mouth to speak, to explain, but was never given the chance; she had begun to fade in and out, her body swapping between transparency at a gradual, rhythmic pace. The cabinets and drawers behind her became murky silhouettes, but still slightly visible. “Oh, no...” she murmured.
The time traveler shot over to the petrified pony and hastily explained, “Glados, you have got to listen to me! I know you’ve never trusted anyone before, and with good reason, but just this once, trust yourself! No matter what it takes, scrap the experiment! Don’t try taking over Equestria!” She took a quick glance at herself, realizing she was starting to fade in and out at an accelerated rate. “Please!” she begged with genuine sincerity. “For the sake of your life, scrap the damn project! The fate of reality itself is at stake here, and we’re the reason why!”
“But why!?” asked Glados, taking a wide step away from her double as a gaudy white sphere took form before her, splaying rays of black and yellow light around the kitchen.
“I don’t know! And that’s what scares me!” Future Glados cried, now just a voice in the wind, save for the orb that has now grown big enough to engulf them both.
A deafening gale picked up, somehow originating from the orb itself; pots, silverware, the tablecloth and even Glados’ mane was being drawn to its’ abnormal gravitational pull, ushering her to back up into the kitchen archway. “But what’s the point of traveling through time if you can’t change anything!?” she hollered over the roaring winds.
“I don’t know!” replied the other, coming off as a mere echo across time from inside the sphere itself. “But I’m kicking Time Turner’s ass!”
The sphere began glowing from a blinding white, to rustic orange, black, and finally a metallic steel. For a fraction of a second, Glados could’ve sworn she saw the Aperture brand appear before the entire orb shrank in the blink of an eye, into nothingness. Upon dissipation, it discharged an unearthly whine and a great thrust of wind, rattling the cookery instruments aligned against the wall and rustling any loose cloths or textiles in the vicinity.
There was no evidence of anything that had just transpired; even the champagne bottle seemed to have somehow vanished amongst the commotion.
Glados just stood there, in blundering silence, unsure of how to even live on with this unsettling information now bearing down on her shoulders. * * *
“Uh, Twilight?” asked Spike, sitting atop a stack of book and twiddling his thumbs. “What are you looking for?”
His employer and adoptive mother, Twilight, was pacing circles around the library, pulling random books off of the shelves and quickly skimming through them before placing them in another neat pile beside him. As she did this, she simply stated, “I’m trying to find a spell.”
“What kinda spell?” he slyly badgered, now on all fours and leaning down from his towering throne.
“A certain spell...” said Twilight, trailing off as one book in particular caught her attention, “...and I think this is the one.”
She levitated the book up to Spike, who grabbed it out of the air and skimmed through the passage the book was opened up to. “The ‘oestrous infinitia’ spell? Come on, Twilight. Don’t you remember what happened last time?”
“Next page, Spike,” Twilight said, tiredly, as she started placing the books back in their respective shelves.
“Oh.” The assistant narrowed his eyes and read the next page aloud, under his breath. It wasn’t until he got to the spell’s name did he exclaim with flabbergasted surprise, “A reforming spell!? Why in Equestria would you need a reforming spell?”
Spike suddenly felt himself lifted off his feet and descending to the ground, encased in a warm lilac glow. He was plopped onto Twilight’s back, who turned to him and said with a reassuring tone, “Spike, you do know who I’m talking about, right?”
He rubbed his chin in thought for a moment, then snapped his fingers. “Pinkie Pie!”
Twilight frowned. “No. Not Pinkie Pie. Think about it, Spike! Who’s the one pony we’ve met that is in dire need of a major attitude adjustment?” As she allowed Spike to realize the painfully obvious answer, she resumed placing books back on their respective shelves.
“I got it!” cried Spike. “It’s Trixie, isn’t it?”
“She’s dead,” Twilight recalled, dryly.
“Oh, that’s right,” said the naive drake, slowly. “Didn’t you say that that was mostly Glados’ fa—” Spike stopped himself; his jaw was left hanging and the slits of his eyes dilated to ridiculous proportions. “No way...”
Here it comes, thought Twilight, giggling externally.
Spike promptly smacked himself in the forehead and groaned. “You’re kidding me! Why would you cast a reforming spell on yourself, Twilight!?”
Twilight in turn smacked herself in the forehead with the hard-end of her hoof. “Glados!” she yelled into the heavens. “It’s Glados, Spike!”
“Oh,” he muttered, crassly. “Well, why?”
A stack of books were aggressively slammed into their shelf, startling a dozing Owlowiscious out of his slumber. “Because she’s a mean and nasty pony who’s bent on hurting everypony we care about?” drilled the unicorn, her tone steadily rising with anger.
With the books all put away, Twilight closed her eyes and allowed her horn to illuminate a brilliant lavender glow. With a single nod, every candle on the first floor was extinguished in a soft push of air, then she began her ascent up the stairs.
As Spike started nodding off on her back, she said, “Mind you, I’m not going to cast it right away. I’m willing to give Glados a second chance, but if she does anything that threatens the town’s well being, then I’m putting my hoof down!”
To prove her point, Twilight literally stamped her hoof on the ground, alarming Spike out of his shallow rest. “Huh? Wha? Oh, right,” he mumbled, drowsily, “you do that Twi. Can I jus’ sleep in ‘morrow mornin’?”
Twilight gave a light chuckle, tenderly lowering her assistant into his basket beside her bed. “Sure thing. Goodnight, Spike,” she whispered, gently placing a kiss on his cheek. “See you in the morning.” * * *
Rays of dawn were splayed across the surface of Glados’ untouched bed in evenly sectioned strokes of light, illuminating the dust hovering about in the atmosphere. Its owner wasn’t in her bedroom.
Rather, she was found slumped up against the living room wall, underneath her whiteboard, looking much like a corpse. She had a dry erase marker in one hoof and a handheld tape recorder in the other; heavy grey bags hung under her exhausted eyes, as did a thin line of drool dangle from her bottom lip.
The whiteboard was cluttered from end to end with notes—most of it unintelligible drivel crossed out with big black ‘X’s and arrows pointing to other jottings—with some stretching as far as to the other side of the board.
Glados groggily lifted the tape recorder up to her face and slammed the red button against the wall. “Personal log number...” she took a deep, straining breath, “...number seventy-one. Last night left me genuinely terrified. I’ve always lived my life by a simple code of morals; not once did I ever ally myself with anyone, nor did I trust another living being. I always told myself that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it, and anyone who said otherwise doesn’t have the will or power to make it so.”
“Last night, I broke nearly every code I’ve been following my whole life. My future self believes that I am the cause of the death of all reality, and she doesn’t even know why. She also alludes to my person being sent to ‘Hell.’ Whether or not this is capable of being altered, I don’t know. She doesn’t think so. Apparently, I am destined to lose an eye, as well. Very unsettling.”
“I have never been so scared in my whole life. And it’s not because existence itself is in jeopardy. Hell, if it means the death of this irritating world and its annoying inhabitants, then that’s a green light in my book. Bring on the apocalypse.”
Glados paused, staring off into space for a time until she found the proper words to continue. “Okay. I’m lying. I wouldn’t want the universe to collapse. Then I’d go. But what I’m most afraid of is not knowing. Why am I the cause? What should I do? Should I ask the princess for help? Should I try a different route with my plans? I’m certainly not scrapping it, no matter what my future self believes. I just need to attempt a different approach; rework it a little.”
“I’m not a time traveler, but something as grand as what I’m planning can certainly be rewritten in the fabric of... time. God, I sound like an idiot. I just need to get some fresh air. Today’s the first day I’m working at Sugarcube Corner, so this should be interesting.”
Glados slammed the tape recorder against the wall once more, turning it off; the cassette tape’s repetitious wounding ceased with a disheartened groan. She got up to the sound of her joints cracking and popping, then trotted over to the front door.
When she opened it, however, she was greeted with the unexpected and albeit unnerving sight of a smiling Dewmist. “Uh...” began Glados, blinking multiple times, “...can I help you?”
“I was just seeing if you were up,” she replied, her grin growing wider.
“Uh-huh. Where’s the brick?” she asked, poking her head out the door and scanning the area for any signs of the robust stallion.
Dewmist cocked her head to the side; her face had fallen into a muddled frown. “Huh?”
The bat-pony’s ears and smile picked right back up. “Oh, right! He just went out for a walk. He’ll be out for a bit. So—” she took a step inside Glados’ home, curiously scanning the living room with mischievous serpentine eyes, “—want me to fetch you any breakfast?”
Glados grew uncomfortable with her guard’s unusual friendliness. “Uh...”
“We’re not your maids.”
For once, Glados silently thanked her mental deficiency and its’ ability to snap her into a more awake and alert state of mind. She simply gestured “Dewmist” into her welcoming abode, saying, “Sure. Just follow me... into the kitchen.”
Dewmist smiled, stepping into the house without receiving so much as a creak from the floorboards. She lead the way into the kitchen. “Wow,” she whistled, “you’ve sure got a nice place here, Glados.”
“Yeah,” she agreed, watching Dewmist investigate the ajar cabinets aligned with stacks of plates. “I sure do.”
When the Shadow Guard’s back was finally turned, drawn to the impressive view outside the window, Glados stealthily reached for a vegetable peeler inside one of the many nearby drawers.
“Say,” asked Dewmist, “why don’t you tell me about yourself, Glados?”
Without any hints or warnings, Glados lunged at her bodyguard like a cobra and pinned her to the wall in one fluid tackle. She had her foreleg pressed against Dewmist’s throat, effectively preventing her from any form of escape.
The wind was knocked out of the bat-pony’s lungs; she was gasping for air, but managed to choke out, “What is the meaning of this?!”
Glados brought the peeler up to the guard’s perspiring face and said in a low growl, “You have about sixty seconds to convince me why I shouldn’t kill you right here, right now.”
“Alright! Alright! Just don’t hurt me!” Dewmist ceased her fruitless struggle; she closed her eyes, and under her breath, counted to ten.
Upon reaching “ten,” she erupted into a powerful burst of green light, forcing Glados to look away and tightly shut her eyes. She looked back as quick as she looked away, just a fraction of a second later, and was greeted face-to-face with her exact definition of “a mutant freak.”
A small, jagged horn jutted out of the creature’s forehead, protruding in between two large and featureless topaz-colored eyes, which were a deep contrast with its’ jet-black skin that was both cold and hard, like a shell. Dewmist’s bat-wings were replaced by a pair that was torn and translucent, which made Glados briefly ponder over how this crime against science could even fly.
But like a bad taste in one’s mouth, she resentfully recalled her old excuse: Because they’re ponies. At least, I think it is.
The masquerader wrapped its swissed hooves around Glados’ one foreleg, which remained pinned against its throat.
Glados looked upon this abomination with disgust. “Alright, scratch that. You now have twenty seconds. I highly recommend you start talking.”
“We are Changeling! We are Changeling!” the insect cried in an unusual voice, sounding like many were speaking at once in perfect unison and no longer Dewmist. A sticky lilac substance began excreting from his eyes. “Our names is HookHook! We are Changeling scouts!”
Glados frowned a bit. “Mind explaining why you’re here? My arm here is getting kinda tired, and I wouldn’t want this peeler being driven into your skull before you tell me.”
“We scouts pony areas! Honests! New pony seems interesting!”
“We don’t knows!” he cried. “We don’t knows! Please don’t hurts us!”
Glados shook her head, disapprovingly. “Wrong answer.”
She pressed the peeler’s blade against the changeling’s throat and began to slowly, agonizingly scrape away at his shell, immediately drawing dark green blood upon the first cut.
HookHook’s maw opened up to let out a horrible scream, also revealing a set of vampiric fangs. “Please don’ts! This is our first time out of the hives! We wants to see our family again!”
“You still haven’t convinced me why I shouldn’t kill you. I doubt any of these whelps would miss a thing like you.” She resumed peeling away at HookHook’s supple outer shell, sadistically prodding at his exposed green flesh and soliciting a series of sharp hisses and cries in between pleas.
“We can take you to queen! She can give anything you wants!”
Glados smiled, releasing her hold on the changeling. HookHook fell to the ground in a heaving mess of wracked sobs and fleeting gasps for breath. “Good,” she said, pleasantly. “That’s what I like to hear. But try anything,” she lifted HookHook’s head with the very tip of the peeler, “and I’m going to have to use something bigger and sharper to peel away this ugly little mug. Capiche?”
The changeling groaned in pain, ruefully accepting his fate with a groveling nod.
Next Time: A Creeping Alliance - Glados comes face to face with one of the worst creatures in Equestria, the changeling queen, Chrysalis. However, the two just might come to an understanding. An understanding that'll surely be the beginning of Equestria's downfall.