“And that’s it. I’ve been living here ever since, just me, SyRE, and Windchaser. Occasionally I would venture out of town, leaving the kid with Sunny when I would. Typically it would be for old human technology from old abandoned bases like Stillwater, or even the Pentagon down in DC. But Celestia and Luna have held true to their word. I have lived a perfectly wonderful life up til you showed up.”
Twilight had looked visibly shocked from Isaac’s remark.
“But please, don’t take it the wrong way. I’ve lived far too long for my own liking. I have some things I'd like to take care of before this spell is cast, though.”
“Like what?” Twilight asked.
“Ah, ah, ah. Spoilers,” Isaac teased. “You’ll find out soon enough, Ms. Sparkle. Now that I’ve answered your questions, I’d like to ask you a few of my own, if you don’t mind. Don’t worry, it won’t be anything personal, I promise.”
“I think you deserve to be able to ask something, especially after having to put up with me for so long,” Twilight chuckled.
“Okay. First question. When this ‘purification’ spell is cast, where are all of the ponies living around the world going to tucker down in?”
“We have sent evacuation orders out already to some of the more distant areas of the world, but everypony will have to be relocated into Equestria by the time we cast the spell. They will all be safe in there.”
Isaac folded his hands. “I see. And humans can’t survive in Equestria from the magic, correct?”
Twilight frowned. “Unfortunately, yes.”
“And the entirety of the Earth will have this abundant magic after the spell is done, right?”
“I believe so.”
“But human technology will still be able to function, correct?”
“I... suppose... why?” Twilight asked.
“You’ll see. You are a librarian by trade, correct?”
“Yes... Oh won’t you please tell me what you are planning?”
Isaac laughed. “Good. You’re perfect then. Don’t worry, you’ll appreciate what I have planned for you. Just please take my word for it.”
Twilight slumped back into the chair. “Hmph. Fine.”
“Well, it seems to be getting a bit late. I need to go pick up Windchaser from Sunny’s place. Oh Twilight, do you mind letting me make a quick copy of that recording? For reference.”
“Oh, why of course!” Twilight floated the small recording device over to Isaac. He walked to his office down the hallway, and copied the audio files onto his computer terminal. After a quick moment, he reemerged and handed it back to the unicorn.
“Thank you very much. Please give Luna and Celestia my best when you see them again.” Isaac walked Twilight to the door and held it open for her.
“I will be sure to. It was simply marvelous spending these past few days with you, Isaac. I wished I could have gotten to know you better, though.”
“Such is the tragedy that is life. Don’t worry, there are plenty of more interesting people- er ponies out there. Take care now!” Isaac called as Twilight began to walk down the street into the night. She waved back to him, and watched him return to his house before continuing down the road.
There was a soft knocking at the door.
“Don’t worry, darling, I got it.” The brown stallion walked over to the door and tugged it open.
“Isaac! So good to see you again! The kids are all asleep. They had a blast with Windchaser here,” Bullseye said in a hushed voice.
“Glad to hear it. Can you get Sunny for me? I gotta talk to the two of you.”
The stallion walked into the living room. There were some hushed whispers exchanged, and the two pegasi joined Isaac back in the foyer.
“Thank you for looking after Windchaser for me again, sis.”
“Ah, it’s no problem. Bracket and Pearl love it whenever he comes over.”
Isaac walked over and sat in one of the chairs, with Bullseye and Sunny sitting on the couch opposite from him. “I... gotta tell you two some things. I don’t have much time left.”
Bullseye and Sunny looked at each other, their faces growing into frowns out of concern. “What do you mean, Isaac? Are you ill?”
“No, it’s nothing like that. I just won’t be around much longer is all, and I wanted to clear a few things up with you two before you have to leave for Equestria when the evacuation order comes around.”
“What evacuation order?” the two asked in unison.
“Right... they hadn’t given the order for this town yet. Well, in a few days, all of the ponies worldwide are going to have to move into Equestria in preparation for the Purification Spell when it’s cast. Nothing outside of Equestria will be safe.”
Sunny quickly mulled over what she had just heard. “Wait! What’s going to happen to you? Surely you... no... NO! You can’t! I won’t lose you!” she cried. She buried her face into Bullseye’s chest, muffling her sobs.
“What’s going on Isaac?” Bullseye asked.
“I’m not going to survive past the week. I can’t survive for any amount of time in Equestria, so when the spell is cast, I’ll be swept away along with the rest of the world.”
“What is this Purification Spell? We’ve never heard of it.”
“It’s supposed to fix the earth. That’s all I understand.” Isaac leaned back in the soft cushions as silence fell between the group.
“You could become a pony! I’m sure the princesses could figure something out to-”
Isaac simply put his hand up to stop his sister mid-sentence.
“No. I already told both Celestia and Luna that I don’t have it in me to throw away my humanity just to save my old worthless hide,” Isaac joked. “But in all seriousness... I tried. Turns out I can’t after my work at the IHSA.” Bullseye and Sunny both looked blankly at Isaac.
“I love you Isaac! You can’t just leave, I can’t stand to lose you a second time!” Sunny cried out.
“But you won’t be losing me. Well, not entirely. That leads me to the second thing I wanted to tell you two about. I’m leaving Windchaser with you two, if you’ll accept.”
They both nodded in unison.
“The I think it’s time I told you the truth about him. He’s not an orphan. I didn’t adopt him. He’s... he’s my clone. He was originally my project back at the IHSA. I took him with me when I made my escape.”
Sunny wiped the tears from her eyes and gave a small chuckle. “Heh, he always did remind me a bit of you when you were his age.”
“Yeah. Just promise you won’t tell him a thing about it? I want to wait until he’s at least a little bit older before he finds everything out.”
“You can count on us, Isaac,” Bullseye promised.
“Alright, I’m going to go get him. I’ll be leaving him with you when the call for evacuation is announced. I want you to take a few things along with you, if that’s alright. Nothing too big.”
Isaac walked out from the room and into the living room where the three young ponies were sound asleep. Bracket, a young grey pegasus, and Pearl, a light pink pegasus, were curled up around Windchaser. Isaac picked up the small colt, and wrapped his forehooves around his neck, so he would be hanging on Isaac’s back.
Isaac walked back into the foyer, waved to Sunny and Bullseye, who were still embraced, and walked out the front door into the night. They waved, Sunny’s eyes still damp from her tears, as Isaac closed the door behind him.
“Hello? Is anyone here?” a song-like voice called from the other side of the wooden door. Isaac walked up to the door, opening it to see two unicorns standing before him.
“Oh, hello. How can I help you?” Isaac asked. He didn’t usually get too many visitors, but after Twilight’s visits, he welcomed conversation.
“Hello! Me and my sister just moved in down the street, and we wanted to get to know more ponies around. When we heard that a human still lived nearby, we simply had to come over and introduce ourselves!”
“Well why don’t you come inside? I’ll boil some water for some tea, if you’d have some.”
Isaac held the door open for the two unicorns. The one who had just been talking had a bright white coat with a icy-blue mane. She wore a bright smile as she stepped inside. The other unicorn, slightly smaller than the white mare, was a dark maroon with an orange mane. She seemed slightly more shy.
They both sat on the sofa in the living room. “So, what may I get for you, Princess Celestia?” Isaac gave the white mare a smirk.
She smiled gently in return. “You are simply too perceptive, Isaac Hamilton.” There were two bright flashes of light in the other room. Replacing the two unicorns, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna now both sat on his sofa. They both filled the room with a sense of peace and majesty.
“Well, I do apologize, but I would have known if there was someone moving in down the street. Would you two like some sugar with your tea?” Isaac asked, pulling the boiling kettle off the stove. He poured the steaming water into three cups, tea bags in each one.
“Yes, please,” the sisters replied. Isaac poured a small spoonful of sugar into each cup, mixing the grains into the drink until they vanished. Isaac brought out two cups for the alicorns, setting them on the coffee table. Celestia picked the cup up with her magic, and took a slow sip. Luna mirrored her sister. Warm smiles lit their faces.
“This is delicious, Isaac. Thank you for your hospitality. I do apologize for Luna and I having been in disguise, getting out from the castle in Canterlot would have been somewhat difficult, what with... you know... so close.” Celestia’s smile began to fade, a faint frown replacing it.
“We listened to Twilight’s reports,” the midnight blue alicorn said. “About you and the IHSA. We... we are so sorry you had to go through such tragedies.” Luna’s mane draped over part of her face as her gaze fell to the floor.
“Indeed. No pony or human should have gone through anything like what you suffered. But... from what Twilight had told me, you gained something, did you not? May I meet him?” Celestia’s smile began to appear again, eventually reaching Isaac as well. He nodded, walking through the hallway to his son’s room.
*knockknock* “Hey, Windchaser? I have two very special guests I’d like for you to meet.” The blue colt bounced out of his room, following his father back down the hallway to the living room.
Windchaser’s eyes grew wide as soon as he saw the two alicorns smiling at him from the couch. His head began to feel light. Windchaser looked to his dad, unsure of what to think. “Yes, Windchaser, they are the Royal Alicorn Sisters. They are the ones who raised the sun and moon in Equestria. Say hello.”
Windchaser finally managed to close his gaping mouth and blink the wonder from his eyes. “H-Hello, my name is Windchaser, and it’s an honor to meet you two!”
“Hello, young Windchaser. I have heard many wonderful things about you from my student, Twilight Sparkle. I am Princess Celestia. It is an honor to meet you.” Celestia bowed her head to the young pegasus, who bowed in return, his wide eyed gaze not leaving the Princess.
“Oh, my! He’s so cute!” Luna whispered to her sister. “Hello, Windchaser. I am Princess Luna. I echo my sister’s sentiments. It is a pleasure to meet you!” Luna gave a bright smile, much to the contrast of her coat and mane.
“Windchaser, from what I have heard, you love flying. Is that correct?” Celestia asked the young pegasus. He nodded quickly with a bright smile. “Luna, would you be so kind as to show young Windchaser here a few tips for flying outside?” Celestia gave a firm gaze to her sister, who lit up with a soft smile.
“Of course, sister.” Her form shimmered for a moment, before settling on a smattering of blues, yellows, and whites with a windswept mane erupting from the back of the suit. Luna looked exactly like a Wonderbolt in full costume, much to Windchaser’s joy. “Come on, Windchaser! I’m gonna teach you how to really fly!” Luna cheered, opening the front door and walking outside, the blue colt in tow. They both leaped into the air amidst a chorus of shouts and cheers.
Celestia took another sip of her tea and placed it on the table. “I know how much he means to you, Isaac.” Celestia let out a soft sigh. “I wanted to apologize.”
“About what, your highness?”
“You know what. The Purification.”
Isaac took a sip of his tea and walked over to his chair, falling backwards into the soft cushions. “I’m so sorry. But for the effects to be what we desire, it needs to be cast by the end of the week. I’ve been putting it off for as long as I can... But the deadline is here.”
“So is that all you’ve come here to say?”
“I didn’t want the time to come without showing you how truly sorry I am that it had to some to this point. I was truly hoping for the pollution of the world to have reversed itself by now, but that is regrettably... not the case. Even after all of the efforts we have put into trying to stop it. Radiation tainting the landscape, poisons in the water and ground, and diseases still present in the wilderness... The Purification is the only thing able to take care of it all for good.
“The Purification isn’t a new idea. My advisers and scholars had come up with it several years ago, and suggested that the immediate casting of it was in the population’s best interest. But it wasn’t in mine. I oppose any needless loss of life, human or pony. I knew that humans couldn’t live in Equestria, so I had the survey Twilight told you about ordered in an effort to locate all remaining humans. Each one was approached and told of what was going to happen. I refused to have ponification forced on them. I did not want to fall to the level of the PER, especially after what happened at the IHSA and the event when you met with my sister and myself before. I offered them the choice, and let them decide.
“I came to you last, since my sister and I knew there was only one outcome. I know we promised to give you as best of a life as possible... It seems like we won’t be able to keep that promise.”
Isaac looked down at his tea. It had reached a cooler temperature, steam no longer rising from it. He took a sip and set the cup down on the table. “Princess, I’m sorry. I only wish I could have known what you had to go through these past years with the thought of the Purification on your mind. I’ve lived a fairly long life. Not as long as a human is able to live, but I’ve seen more heartbreak than any human should be forced to see or feel. But... I’ve also felt so much more joy and happiness... Between being able to see my sister and her husband, my niece and nephew, and my son, you have delivered on your promise. These past years have been the best of my life. I could never thank you enough for the memories I’ve been able to have.”
A single tear fell from Celestia’s eye. “I’m glad that I was able to do something right for you and your son, Isaac. What will become of Windchaser after you’re gone? If you do not wish to think of such things-”
“No, it’s alright. I’m going to send him to Equestria with my sister and her family. He’ll grow up with them, and I’m positive my sister will do a magnificent job of it.”
Celestia smiled. “I will do everything in my power to aid him and your sister’s family after the Purification. This I truly promise. I will make sure your town here is the last to evacuate to Equestria. That way, you can spent as much time as possible with your son.”
“Thank you so much, Princess. You would have made a truly wonderful human. And I could never think of entrusting the future of this world to anyone but you and your sister.” Isaac and Celestia both rose from their seats, the Princess finishing of the last bit of tea from her cup. She levitated it into the kitchen and into the sink for Isaac. Her form began to shimmer, taking on the body of the ice blue maned unicorn from before. Isaac opened the door for her, letting her trot outside into the beautiful afternoon sunlight. The pair looked up into the sky to see two blurs of blue flashing above their heads.
“Windchaser! Your friend has to go now!” Isaac shouted up at the blurs, causing them to slow down and their features finally visible again. They floated down to the ground, Luna, still in her Wonderbolts disguise, landing next to her sister and Windchaser landing next to his father. Luna’s form shimmered briefly to her maroon coat again.
“Goodbye, Isaac. Goodbye, Windchaser. Have a wonderful evening.” Celestia began walking down the quiet street.
“Goodbye Isaac! And it was fun flying with you, Windchaser! Be sure to keep it up!” Luna called, turning and catching up with her sister. The two disappeared in a bright flash, and with that, they disappeared, leaving Isaac and Windchaser alone in the middle of the street.
“Did you have fun, Windchaser?” Isaac asked as they walked back into the house.
“Oh, yeah! Princess Luna was a great flier! She even said that maybe one day I could maybe join the Wonderbolts!” Windchaser cheered, his wings beating on his back from the excitement.
“How about I take you to the park tomorrow for a picnic? You can fly around as much as you want! Maybe try some of those tricks you saw the Wonderbolts do?” Isaac cheerfully suggested to the already overly-excited pegasus. Upon hearing about the picnic, he almost exploded.
“That would be so awesome! Thankyouthankyouthankyou! You’re the best dad ever!” Windchaser leaped up and latched onto Isaac’s chest, holding him in a big hug. Isaac was almost knocked over by the force of it, but managed to keep his balance. He wrapped his arms around his son, feeling the pounding of his heart in his chest.
“You’re the best son I could have ever asked for, Windchaser.”
Isaac walked along the smooth sidewalk, a streak of blue and white speeding around above him. It wasn’t too often Windchaser got out of the house to fly, but when he did, he made it count. He was doing various different loops, dives, and corkscrews above Isaac, even before they made it to the park.
“Hey, ‘Chaser! Careful up there! It’ll be better when you crash into the grass than the pavement!” Isaac shouted above, the streak of white and blue slowing down. The pegasus dropped in height to right next to his father, his small wings flapping in the cool air.
“Awww, but dad...”
“Ah, ah. No buts! We’re almost there. Be a little bit more patient.” Isaac fixed his grip on the small basket. Inside were small lunches for the two of them, as well as a few snacks to recharge Windchaser’s flight batteries when he would get tired.
“It’s so cool the Princesses stopped by yesterday! I never really imagined that Princess Luna would be such a great flier! It’s awesome how you and Princess Celestia are friends too, daddy!”
Isaac chuckled. “Well, she helped the two of us out when we needed it. I’ll tell you the whole story some day.” A sudden weight hit Isaac in the gut with the realization of what he just said.
And as fast as it came, he shoo’ed it away. Today was meant to be a happy day between a father and his son. He didn’t want to think about anything else.
As the pair approached the park, the late morning sun shone down on countless families playing around and walking within it. Pegasi were soaring overhead, some lounging on clouds above, others chasing each other. Windchaser eyed all of the ponies around, a look of excitement growing before shrinking away.
“How come nopony else has a dad like you? Like... not a pony?”
Isaac sighed. “Let’s go and find a seat and I’ll explain it to you, okay?” Isaac asked. He was nervous for when this talk would come up. Windchaser never really got out too much to see the rest of society in any meaningful sense aside from the frequent trips he went on with Sunny and Bullseye. But he has never seen another human, aside from Isaac. He’s only ever seen other ponies.
After finding a particularly shady tree to sit under, Isaac set down the basket and gestured for WIndchaser to sit next to him. Isaac sighed, trying to think of what to say. He didn’t want to lie to his son, but he didn’t want to lay the whole truth on him either.
“Well, Windchaser... There used to be tons of people like me around. Humans.” Windchaser watched his father with rapt attention. He had never really asked about the world in detail before the bureaus. “But they all got themselves turned into ponies, like your Aunt Sunny did. They chose to do so.”
“Why didn’t you, daddy?”
“Heh, I kinda can’t. But it doesn’t make me any less of your father, does it?”
“But... who was my mommy? Bracket and Pearl have auntie Sunny for their mommy; who’s mine?”
Shit. Isaac froze. He should have expected this one, but... how could he explain this one off? Windchaser was Isaac’s clone. He didn’t have a mother. Isaac is technically his father, but only because of the genetic similarities. He could lie, and say that his mother died when he was born, but Isaac didn’t feel comfortable with such a blatant lie to the innocent mind, especially when he would find the truth out later on in his life.
“Windchaser... those were... some bad times in my life. Not you, by any means. You were the one who brought me out of it. But... if it’s okay with you, I’d prefer to not talk about it.”
Windchaser shrunk from his father’s change in demeanor. “Oh... sorry, daddy. I won’t ask again.”
“Don’t worry. There’ll be a day when you find out. I promise. Why don’t you go practice some of those tricks Princess Luna taught you yesterday? I’m eager to see what you can do!”
“Just you watch me!”
Windchaser leaped into the sky amidst a soft blur of blue and white, disappearing into the blue expanse. Isaac leaned back against the tree, closing his eyes and listening to the laughs and cheers of the families around him. Everyone out for a beautiful day in the park, enjoying the weather and each other’s company.
“Heh. Can’t imagine anyone doing that thirty years ago,” Isaac murmured to himself.
“What’s that? Going to the park? Tell me about it.” Isaac opened his eyes to see a mahogany brown pegasus stallion with a black mane standing next to him. “This spot taken?”
“Not at all.” The pegasus sat down in the shade, tucking his legs in underneath his body. “Don’t see many people around anymore. You live around here?”
“Yeah. I live on the other side of town with my son. He’s up there, practicing some tricks.” Isaac pointed to the sky, the characteristic white trail of Windchaser zipping around the other pegasi.
“Huh. Who’s the mother? You didn’t...with...”
“Nope. It’s a... a long story, though.”
“Ah. I got a son... somewhere around here. Eh, he’ll show up.”
Isaac smiled. He leaned back again, the tough bark of the tree scratching against his scalp. “I never imagined being a father was so wonderful.”
“I had a few of my hiccups. Got past ‘em though. And yeah. It’s great. You got the time?”
Isaac glanced at the watch on his wrist. “About 11:45.”
“Shit. I gotta bolt. It was fun chatting with you. I’ll be sure to keep my eye out around here in case you come back.” The mahogany stallion flapped up to a small figure chatting with what was likely Windchaser. The other small pegasus waved him goodbye and flew off with his father. Windchaser glided down to the tree with his father.
“Hey, dad! I meet this really cool pegasus! I don’t think I got his name though...”
“Yeah I saw his dad down here. Nice fellow. Say, you hungry? I packed a dandelion sandwich for you, you’re favorite!”
Windchaser squealed with joy and eagerly snatched the sandwich out of Isaac’s hand. He wolfed the meal down without a second thought. Isaac simply pulled out a thermos of tea and took a sip of it.
“Thanks, daddy! I’m gonna try some new tricks!” Windchaser flew back up into the sky, beginning a routine he saw on one of the Wonderbolts movies he watched on SyRE’s memory banks.
SyRE should be done tonight. Isaac took another sip of his tea and closed his eyes.
Isaac tucked Windchaser into his little bed in his room, and gave him a light kiss on the forehead. “Sweet dreams, kiddo.”
Isaac gently closed the door to the colt’s room. He was exhausted from his day at the park and fell asleep the moment his head touched the pillow. Isaac slowly turned the corner into this office, his computer screen glowing a bright blue, white text dotting it along lines across.
SyRE built up a redundancy overload. He essentially is too busy working through meaningless computations that loop into each other, resulting in no more processing output. Isaac closed the blue error window and looked down at his desktop. There were a couple folders littered throughout the space. One was the recordings of the interview he had with Twilight Sparkle. He dragged the audio files and dropped them into a folder labeled “LOCKED”. He didn’t want those files to be viewable until a specific time. He went through various other files from his work at the IHSA, the original gene structures Frank wanted implanted on the clones, the serum designed to activate it, and the various other research notes.
He completely forgot. Windchaser was a weapon. A living weapon that he designed to presumably assassinate Princess Celestia and Princess Luna with. Frank Dunland’s twisted legacy in a way. And the only thing needed to activate the proper genes for the mutation was this simple little serum.
“Some things are meant to be forgotten,” Isaac muttered to himself, as he dragged them to the trash bin on his desktop. While he wanted to preserve all of human knowledge, some of it was better to be left in the annals of history, lost for the rest of time.
Isaac opened the folder SyRE prepared for him a few days ago. He clicked to open the AI salvage files, and began reading.
“Hello? Anyone in there?” Isaac called at the screen.
A faint buzzing came from the speakers, followed by a hollow mechanically synthesized voice. “Starting up... Designation: Synthetic Recognition Emulator. SyRE. Software Designer: Thomas Marcus. Salvage Technician: Isaac Hamilton. Beginning recovery of banked processes... done. Scanning domicile... done. Scanning imminent area... done. Thank you for recovering me, sir. I greatly appreciate it. And it seems you managed to perfect your compression ratios for the holographic drives. Well done, sir.”
“Heh, how else am I going to fit everything on these two terminals?”
“Two?” the speaker buzzed.
“Oh, yeah. Well, three to be exact. But one doesn’t really count. He’s just an archival AI. ‘Ask and ye shall receive’ and all that jazz. It’s for the formal history terminal. I made a full copy of you and have you both linked up in real time on another portable terminal that I’m giving to Windchaser when he leaves with my sister to Equestria. He’ll have all of the history files as well as you.”
“What? It’s not like you can’t survive in Equestria. Why should I keep you from... um... ‘living’ on?”
“I left you some instructions concerning a particular folder in your archives. Do NOT let him know about it until he’s ready. I’ll leave when that is up to your discretion.”
The speakers did not respond immediately.
Isaac stood up from his desk chair and stretched his arms. “I think I’m going to go grab a bite to eat, then get some sleep. Working eighteen hours straight to save your cybernetic ass really took it out of me, SyRE.”
“I believe you deserve it, sir.”
“Everything else seems to be in order,” Isaac said, looking around his office at the various pieces of equipment strewn about. “Can you start importing the archives into two solar panel fitted laptops? There should be two somewhere around here.”
“Yes, they are right over in the closet. Can you please set them on your desk, sir? It will make the process work faster.”
Isaac looked through his cluttered closet, pulling the two computers out from the pile of loose equipment. He placed both on the desk just like SyRE asked and opened each one. Their screens winked to life, a progress bar appearing on both. After uploading the new compression ratio for the holographic drives, SyRE began uploading copies of the archives onto each one. With a smile, Isaac walked out from his office and stepped into his room. He fell onto his bed and closed his eyes. Before he fell asleep, a single thought wiggled its way through his head.
2 more days.
There was a quick knocking at the library door. Twilight Sparkle kept her nose buried in her book. “Midnight! Go get the door!”
The black unicorn sighed, closing his book. “Fine,” he sighed. He walked down the stairs of the Ponyville library to the front door, his prismatic mane and tail following in his wake. With a simple flash of his horn, the door gently opened.
“Delivery for a ‘Twilight Sparkle’,” the mailpony announced. He looked up from his clipboard, noting Midnight. “Uh...”
“Don’t worry, she’s here. I’ll sign for her.” Midnight gripped the pen in the air, gently signing the form and accepting the small package. The mailpony bid Midnight Shadow goodbye, flying back into the sky. “TWILIGHT! MAIL!”
“DON’T SHOUT! I’M COMING!” Twilight clopped down the staircase into the main room of the library, her eyes settling on the package Midnight held in the air. “Honestly, Midnight. You’re a worse assistant than Spike was.”
“Hey! I’m not your assistant! I’m Princess Luna’s prized student, as much as you are Princess Celestia’s. So...” Midnight looked at the package and set it on the table. “Any idea what this is? I didn’t know that the mail service was still running this close to the Purification.”
“I think I just might...” Twilight carefully opened the package, levitating handfuls of the soft packing insulation onto the table in a small heap.
Twilight recognized it, almost barely. The top of it had been covered in glossy black sheets. But the rest of it looked like a computer humans used back on Earth. She cracked the lid open, and with a flash of light, the screen inside came to life. The screen faded to black, but a familiar face to Twilight popped up.
Hello Twilight. I hope this makes it to you in good condition, not busted or broken, or anything like that. Well, here you go. What I promised you. Now it may not look like much, this computer. But I assure you, it will be well worth your trouble to keep it close to you and working for as long as you live.
Inside this computer is everything. All human knowledge. Every written document, every discovery, every historical moment, every movie, musical, television show, everything. This is my gift to you and your people: the legacy of the human race. Please don’t let any of it fade away, only to be forgotten.
The computer itself is solar powered, so as long as it gets enough sunlight, the battery should never fail. I’ve also loaded it with a simple artificial intelligence, able to pull up any document or file you ask of it.
Well, that’s about it. I wish the best for you and your peop- ponies. I hope the Purification works to perfection, and you heal the Earth.
This is Isaac Hamilton, signing off.
I always wanted to say that...
The video of Isaac winked out. Twilight didn’t know what to think at the moment. Before her sat the gathered wealth of knowledge of an entire species who had technologically advanced leaps and bounds before her own. But more importantly, the last of that species had entrusted her with it. She didn’t know whether to be happy, cry, or anything.
“That’s the guy you were chatting with back in America? And did he really mean it when he said he put everything on here?!” Midnight started at the small computer, his mouth agape.
“So that’s what he meant...” Twilight closed the computer and placed it gently back into the box. “Come on, Midnight. We have to finish up here and be in Canterlot tonight. We have to be ready for tomorrow.”
“Isaac? Isaac? Are you there?” a muffled voice called into the house. It was very early in the morning, yet the town was alive with commotion.
“Yeah, yeah, one sec.” Isaac wiped the sleep from his eyes and stumbled over to the door. He had been trying to get some sort of rest before the sun rose, but even that eluded him with all of the noise from outside. Swinging open the door, Isaac saw Bullseye, Sunny Days, and their twins standing outside, their saddlebags filled with what possessions they could gather.
“Is he ready?” the brown stallion asked, his eyes betraying his will to hide his sorrow.
“Yeah, I’ll go get him.” Isaac regained his composure, his mind jolted back to action.
He walked slowly through the living room, the same room he played with his son for countless hours on end. He would lay on his back, gently tossing the young colt into the air, the two of them giggling madly the whole time. They would sit, curled up with each other, watching some of the most amazing pieces of human cinema and television during the late nights that he was working and his son couldn’t sleep. SyRE would turn the television off once he detected the two had finally fallen asleep, the blue colt sleeping soundly on Isaac’s chest.
Isaac stared longingly at the living room, and turned his gaze to the kitchen, where he and Windchaser had held some of their own experiment sessions in how to cook for the two of them, but most of the time it would just devolve into one starting a food fight with the other. Isaac tried to stifle a chuckle, but instead felt tears beginning to fall down his cheeks, onto the floor beneath him.
He tore himself away from looking at the kitchen, and began making his way down the straight hallway towards the other rooms of the small house. His steps paused at the door to his office as he looked in. The computer screen was turned off for once after so many years. Many nights he would sit at that same chair, staring at the screen, tapping away at his keyboard for hours on end. Occasionally, Windchaser would just sit next to him, watching his father at work, not knowing in the slightest what he was doing. More often than not, Isaac would have to carry his small form from the office to his room and tuck him in after he had fallen asleep.
Isaac continued down the hall, all of the memories of his many years here washing over him. He looked into his own disheveled room, the bed he was tossing and turning in not five minutes before. Whenever Windchaser would be kept awake by nightmares, Isaac would have him snuggle into bed next to him, constantly reassuring his son that he was safe, and that nothing would separate the two of them.
Looks like a promise I won’t be able to keep.
Isaac finally stepped up to the last room in the house, guarded by a single closed door, adorned with pictures he and Windchaser had either taken with a camera or drawn together. There was one that stood out to him: a picture of the two of them, taken back at the house he had ran off to after fleeing the IHSA. From looking at the size of the colt, and the color of his own hair, Isaac figured Windchaser was about four in that picture.
Isaac was on both knees, his hands up against the door, holding himself up. Tears were freely cascading from his tightly shut eyes, his chest tight, his heart aching. He gritted his teeth, trying his hardest not to scream out from what he was feeling. His hands finally fell free from the door, slamming into the plush carpet beneath him with a dull thumph. He buried his face in the palms of his hands, rocking back and forth on his knees.
“Daddy? Are you okay?” a soft voice called from above Isaac. He quickly wiped the tears from his face, an attempt to keep up the strong figure he had held for Windchaser for so long. But no matter how hard he tried, his voice was still shaking.
Windchaser stood before Isaac, his mane a slight mess. “Hey, sport. I was about to wake you up. Auntie Sunny is waiting.” Isaac tried to stand up, his joints reluctantly following him. He felt his knees begin to shake beneath him, holding himself up against the wall beside him.
“Oh boy!” Windchaser cheered, before letting it fall into a long yawn. “Is she taking me camping again?”
“I’ll tell you in a minute. Come with me.”
The duo walked along the hall, past all of the rooms that Isaac had reflected upon seeing on his way back, without a second glance.
“Hi Auntie Sunny!” Windchaser cheered, bouncing over and hugging his aunt’s leg. She placed a hoof around his neck, holding him against her, tightly. She looked up at Isaac, who was standing in the doorway, with tear-filled eyes.
“We’ve got to get down to the town hall, we don’t want to miss the evac!” Bullseye growled.
“Daddy? What’s Uncle Bullseye saying?” the blue colt asked, looking back at Isaac. He walked out from the doorway, and out onto the sidewalk. He knelt down onto his knees, reaching eye level with his son.
Isaac looked at his son’s eyes. They were a brilliant emerald green, shining brightly even in the dark hours of the morning. They were the eyes of an innocent soul. They were the eyes of a child, and an endlessly curious one at that. They were the eyes of his son. They were the eyes of his family, whom Isaac had once thought lost to him. They were the eyes of those who sought happiness in such a dark and dreary world. They were the eyes of those who would deliver humanity from their sins. And they were the eyes of Isaac Hamilton, staring back at himself.
“I… I have to go somewhere,” Isaac began, his voice shaking even more so than before.
“Where are you going, daddy? Can I come?”
“Sorry, sport. This time I gotta do it on my own. I’m going away for a long time.”
“When are you gonna come back?”
“I… I don’t think I will.”
“Daddy, why are you crying?”
Isaac brushed his fingers along his cheek. He was indeed crying once again.
“Well would you look at that. Well, son, it’s because I love you so much. So very, very much. And I’m gonna miss you even more. But you gotta go with your aunt and uncle now.”
Windchaser’s eyes began to turn from confusion to panic. “Wait! Why do I have to go now?! I don’t wanna go! I want to stay with you, daddy! Daddy! DADDY!!” Windchaser screamed as Bullseye pulled him away. Windchaser was kicking and screaming, tears falling freely from his own eyes too.
“DADDY! I DON’T WANNA GO!! DADDY!!”
The screams began to disappear as Bullseye kept hauling the colt down the street, and the more Windchaser screamed, the faster he used up the little energy he had. Soon he would simply pass out, his efforts putting too much strain on a tired body.
“Isaac, I don’t think I can love him nearly as much as you do, but Celestia help me if I don’t try. I promise you he will have a wonderful life.” Sunny trotted up to the slumped over form of her brother. He rose up, and threw himself over her shoulders, burying his face into her bright blond mane.
“Just make him happy. That’s all I ask. Make him happy and give him the life we never could have ourselves.”
“You say that like you don’t trust me,” Sunny chuckled, wiping the rapidly forming tears of her own.
“Of course not. I trust you and Bullseye with every fiber of my being.”
“I’m… I’m gonna miss you, big brother. I really will.”
“You got me kicking and screaming over there! But I’ll miss you too, Erika. I’ll miss all of you. Now you better get going. You don’t wanna miss the teleport, Bullseye will have an earful for you if you don’t get moving.”
Sunny Days stepped back, and began flapping her wings, rising higher and higher in the air. “Goodbye Isaac! I’ll miss you!”
Isaac looked up at the mare, already flying in the direction his brother-in-law went. Waving his hand, he shouted back to her. “Goodbye sis!”
Looking back down at the concrete beneath him, Isaac rose to his feet and walked back inside, fresh tears forming in his eyes.
Isaac looked down over the valley below from his perch high on top of a nearby mountain. The empty town sitting amongst the endless sea of trees gave no signs of life. The residents had just finished evacuating a few hours ago; Isaac watched the last of them leaving through his pair of binoculars.
“Sir, are you sure you are okay with this?”
“As I’ll ever be, SyRE. If I gotta see the end of my days, I want to have a good view.”
Isaac sat back in his folding chair and opened his thermos of raspberry tea. He poured a cupful of the sweet smelling drink into the cap and took a long sip. He had been feeling nervous all day, after all. He had driven up the mountain to the old abandoned campground at the summit in the same pick-up truck he and Will had taken all those years ago to the IHSA along with a portable terminal so SyRE could accompany him.
“Sure is a beautiful afternoon.”
“I will have you know that Windchaser and your sister’s family have made it to the Equestrian border. Theirs was the last group to arrive, and the shield was raised to full power before I was cut off. It should be starting soon,” the speaker chirped.
Isaac leaned in his chair onto the back two legs. A warm breeze blew across his body, tingling his leathery old skin. His chair fell back down to the dirt and he bounced up and walked over to the rail that kept everyone away from the cliff-face.
“Sir, are you afraid of dying?”
Isaac looked at the computer for a moment. He scratched his head. “That’s a pretty deep question, wouldn’t you say so?”
“Yes it is. But you still haven’t answered the question.”
Isaac laughed as he walked back to his chair. “Well, I suppose I kind of am. Afraid. I mean, who isn’t? It’s the last frontier for mankind to explore, a land that once you venture to, you can never return to tell your brethren what you’ve discovered. It’s the ultimate mystery. But, when I think about it, there have been so many people who’ve already gone forth with it. It’s... humbling, I suppose. I will be the last human to make this journey.”
Isaac closed his eyes, relaxing in his chair. The weight of the thermos pressed down on his lap. He took deep breaths, his heart racing. Faster than it ever had before. He was excited, but he was still scared. Scared of the unknown, scared of what will become of his body and his mind. And he was sad. He was never going to be able to see his son ever again. His heart was going to be crushed once he found out. Isaac felt a gentle rumbling in the soles of his feet. He opened his eyes and pushed himself to his feet. He walked over to the railing by the cliff, staring out across the land.
“Ah! There it is!” Isaac yelled. On the far horizon, a bright green flash colored the sky for a few moments. The sky faded back into its blue hue, but closer on the horizon, the pale green was growing in intensity. The ground below Isaac’s feet began to rumble, the wind began to blow harder, carrying the smells of fresh cut flowers and the various smells of spring. It was something the entire world was feeling.
He could see it now. It was a massive wall of green light, sweeping across the landscape, coating everything in its path with its touch. Isaac looked out through the binoculars that hung around his neck, watching as the countryside was swallowed up by the wall. He tried to see past the glow to the lands behind the wall, but the light was too bright to make out any discernible detail.
“Hey, SyRE. You got it sent, didn’t you?” Isaac said to the computer, without taking his eyes away from the light.
“Yes, Isaac, it finished uploading just before the shield was closed.”
“Excellent.” Isaac started to look back through his binoculars, but froze. “Hey, wait. You just called me Isaac.”
“Yes, Isaac, I did. After all, there is a first time for everything.”
Isaac gave a hearty chuckle at the AI that helped him through so much. The wall of green was now washing over the town at the base of the valley now, flooding the area like a great tidal wave. It was only a matter of moments before he would be taken as well.
“To Mankind!” Isaac cheered, lifting his fist up towards the green light, a brilliant smile lighting up his face.
Isaac took a great breath as the wall of magical energy washed over the campsite.
Isaac could feel the energies nipping at his skin, his mind, and his soul. He looked at his hands, slowly dissolving into a loose cloud of shining mist that faded into the energies surrounding him. It didn’t hurt, he thought, but rather it felt good. He felt the grip of age fading away from him, he felt the years of sadness and regret being washed from his mind into the ocean of energy surrounding him. His body was now afloat within the swirling green mass, his legs having already vanished from sight. There was no blood, no pain, no feeling of loss. He felt like he was finally going home. He was joining with everything, and it just felt right.
His torso was now starting to fade now. Isaac still felt his lungs and took a deep breath, filling what was left of his chest with the swirling green mist. What he smelled, what he tasted, what he felt was positively beyond definition. He smelled the greatest and most beautiful scents that nature had to offer, and tasted the sweetest and most delicious of flavors he could ever have imagined. Everything was beautiful, serene, and just so complete. Every sense of his was being overwhelmed with pleasure and joy, and they were overcome even more so when he felt more of himself joining with the maelstrom swirling around him.
As the last parts of his body dissolved, he let out his breath in a great bellowing laugh. The most joyous, triumphant, and happiest laugh he had ever given as tears began to fall from his eyes. They too began to fade, as his head and face vanished in a flash of green. Even after the last parts of him faded from sight, he was not yet gone from the world. His laugh echoed throughout the empty valleys, across the barren plains and deserts, across the vast oceans until every corner of the Earth had felt his joy. As it circled the world, it finally converged on the great nation of Equestria.
Ponies were hunkered down in camps, cities, and towns all over the giant island nation. The sky above them was glowing an eerie green, eyes turned skyward to the Purification. Everything underneath the shield was silent aside from the sounds of nature spread out across the verdant lands. The breeze rustling the leaves, the rivers splashing against their banks. Colts and fillies clung to their parents, as nervous and unsure about what was going on as their parents.
But as they stared at the sky in wonder, something began to make itself heard within every gathering of ponies. It was a faint laugh. Everypony heard it, everypony felt it. Pure, infectious joy. As it spread through the crowds, frowns turned to smiles, smiles turned into laughs, which in turn grew into cheers and celebrations. The roars of joy and celebration echoed throughout Equestria.
Even in the great bastion of Canterlot, the Royal Pony Sisters succumbed to the infectious joy. They embraced each other, laughing and cheering along with the rest of the world. Celestia looked out towards the brilliant green sky, shedding a tear for the loss of the bravest man she ever knew.
But in the all the commotion, nopony seemed to notice a single young pegasus curled up in a corner. His face was buried in his hooves, hiding the mournful sobs of his loss from the world around him. He had lost the one person who had ever cared for him, not out of obligation or being forced to do so, but out of his own heart. The pegasus felt as if a part of him had been ripped away and was left for dead. What made it worse was that nopony seemed to notice or care. His aunt and uncle were cheering along with the rest of crowds, for reasons that he couldn’t seem to fathom. Even his cousins Pearl and Bracket were laughing too. He was all alone now. His father had been the whole world to him, guiding him since he was born.
Why did his dad leave? Was he a bad son? How could he hope to live on now? The sobs grew into full wracking cries, shaking the young pegasus with each wail. But as hard as the pegasus tried, he was drowned out beneath the cheers and celebration. As he ran out of breath and tears, Windchaser slumped in the corner, unable to find the energy to cry or even move anymore. He sat there, staring out through hazy eyes to an uncaring world. He closed his eyes, begging the darkness to take him and relieve him of his misery. But in the din of the celebrations, his ears picked something out.
When it finally reached him, it wasn’t in the form of a laugh or a cheer.
Windchaser felt someone rustle his mane, and a whisper in his ear.
“Make me proud, son, and live on for the two of us.”