Sparky was exhausted, and could barely keep her eyes open. Her head ached, and as she moved around, trying to determine where she was, she discovered that everything else did as well. She continued to blink, slowly adjusting to the light of the room when she realised that she was lying in a hospital bed.
Sparky sat up and groaned in pain, she felt as if her ribcage had been smashed, and then remembered that it had been, and set herself back down, back against the pillow. She looked to her left, the privacy curtain had been drawn, and likely, there was another pony lying in the bed next to her. ‘Anyone I know over there?’ Sparky asked softly. There was no reply. Her roommate, whoever he or she was, was probably asleep, though it was possible that Sparky had this room to herself.
She looked up above her, and discovered a holographic television screen on the opposite wall, the national news was on, and Sparky listened in to the report.
‘... The Ponyville Police Service announced today the arrest of several high ranking executives of the Equestrian Future Technologies Corporation, along with the managers of the Discovery Project for criminal disregard of ethics and safety protocols that resulted in the deaths of all those aboard the Discovery One space craft, the accused, whose names have not been released, are expected to be put on trial for six counts of negligent equicide, if convicted, they would likely receive life in prison. A statement from the head of the PPS Serious and Organised Crime Group, Detective Chief Inspector Viola Auditore said, that while she could not discuss the nature of the ongoing investigation she did comment to say that the evidence was conclusive... in related news, Vice Admiral Firestar, Chief of the Republican Navy was arrested today outside of his flat in Cloudsdale by Military Police, according to sources within the military, the vice admiral was arrested for interfering with an official investigation, though it is unclear if it is related to the FutureTec arrests, the Republican Navy has not announced who will be replacing the vice admiral as Chief of Navy, and he is expected to be court marshalled by a military tribunal sometime in the following weeks...’
Sparky turned as she heard the door open; someone had just entered the room. Suddenly the privacy curtain was pulled back. Sparky’s eyes widened with fear as DCI Viola Auditore stood before her.
‘Hey! No, no it’s all right!’ DCI Auditore said, waving her hoof to stop her. ‘I’m not here to hurt you! Though... I can understand why you would think that, based on the last time we met’.
Sparky did not reply, instead she shifted in her bed to move as far away from DCI Auditore as possible, grunting in pain from shifting her recently mended ribs. Suddenly, a new figure approached from around the corner, this one wearing a dark coat and matching fedora. She was not someone that Sparky was familiar with.
‘Miss Starlight?’ the newcomer said with a smile. ‘We haven’t met, I’m Detective Sergeant Ana Kelso, and I believe this is yours’, she said as she reached around and placed something on Sparky’s bed. Sparky looked at it closely, to discover that it was her MIP. She looked up at DS Kelso in confusion as to where she had gotten it.
‘It was lying on the ground outside of your crashed capsule. We’re lucky have to have found it, it had all the evidence that we needed for our investigation! We didn’t need to steal the information from FutureTec to put the masterminds behind the Discovery Project behind bars! Our schäferhund hacker was very disappointed’, DS Kelso said with a chuckle.
‘Your... investigation?’ Sparky asked. ‘Then... you know everything?’
DS Kelso nodded her head in affirmation. ‘Naturally, Viola and I decided that it was best to not tell everyone the entire story. You have to admit, the tetrahedron isn’t something that we’re ready to hear about... and I don’t think the evolving VIs is something we’re ready for either, synthetic life? It’s a dangerous thing... and my experiences with Mister Happy gave me some first hoof experience’, DS Kelso said with a small shudder.
‘You know Mister Happy?’ Sparky asked, raising an eyebrow.
‘Almost wish I didn’t, that crazy AI almost got me killed by FutureTec’s private security... long story, don’t ask’, DS Kelso said with a smirk. ‘We just wanted to thank you. Without the data on your MIP, we couldn’t have put those bastards that threw the lives of the crew of the Discovery One away behind bars... and Viola has something she’d like to say to you too’, DS Kelso added, looking towards her partner and gesturing for her to speak.
‘Yeah... Sparkplug, right?’ Viola asked.
‘Sparky. No one calls me Sparkplug’, Sparky corrected.
‘Sparky then... I wanted to say that I’m sorry for what happened three months ago... for what it’s worth, I’m not expecting forgiveness or anything... it’s not something that can be forgiven...’ Viola began, but Sparky raised a hoof to stop her.
‘I forgive you’, Sparky said simply.
‘What?’ Viola asked, taking a step back in surprise.
‘You said everything you needed to say when you pulled that curtain back. I can see the remorse in your eyes’, Sparky said softly, as she looked up at Viola. ‘You can’t fake that look’.
Sparky wasn’t exactly sure where this forgiveness was coming from, she hadn’t exactly planned on it. Maybe her mind was just too occupied with other things to have room for hate?
‘Thank you...’ Viola said just as quietly.
‘It’s not me that you should be apologising to; it is Dizzy and DC Hopely. Dizzy will probably forgive you because that’s who she is, not because she thinks you deserve it. DC Hopely will probably just spit in your face’, Sparky said as she readjusted herself in the bed, laying her head back down against the pillow.
‘I would deserve it’, Viola said, nodding her head in agreement.
Sparky took her MIP in her telekinesis, looking it over for a moment and snapping it back on her foreleg. She looked up at DS Kelso and offered her a small smile. ‘Thank you for bringing this back’, she said.
‘You’re welcome’, DS Kelso said with a respectful nod. ‘We should let you rest, you’ve got a fair bit of recovering to do’.
With that, she waved for Viola to follow her, and the two of them left the room. Sparky pulled her bed sheets over her as she struggled to get comfortable. Her stupid ribs aching with every movement, eventually she found her comfortable spot. She opened up the holographic display on her MIP, and selected a bit of light music. She closed her eyes, and allowed herself to fall back asleep.
By the time Sparky awoke, the stiffness in her ribs had passed and she was able to move around without pain. The wonders of modern medicine!
She took care to make sure that her flank was covered as she stepped out of bed and walked towards the door. However, she stopped, upon discovering that a large mirror was placed just before the doorway. She realised quickly that something didn’t add up. She had to have had a number of doctors and surgeons working on her to repair her broken ribs. Surely, the appearance of her cutie mark would have thrown them off... right?
Sparky turned towards the mirror and slowly pulled the covering off her flank, her eyes widened in shock. Her cutie mark... it was gone. Sparky’s jaw dropped wide open, she couldn’t believe it. She prodded her flank with a hoof to make sure that it wasn’t a trick.
It wasn’t, it was really gone.
Sparky didn’t quite know how to feel about this, in truth, it was everything that she wanted. Ever since the cutie mark had come to her, she had wanted it gone... but now that it was gone, she couldn’t help but feel a little empty. She closed her eyes and thought back to the crash. Trying to remember anything that she could... there was the dream, the dream of the luxurious hotel suite that she was struggled to remember. She tried as hard as she possibly could to remember it, but no matter how hard she thought, it did not come to her.
Sparky sat down on the floor before the mirror, looking into it with disappointment. Say what you will, that cutie mark had made her special. Without it, she would have never met Dizzy, or DC Hopely, or Amarilla and Juan Carlos. If she had never gotten it, Shortfuse would still be alive. Sparky’s eyes began to tear up at with the thoughts of her best friend. Shortfuse was dead, and there was nothing she could do about it. There was no way to bring her back. She was gone, forever, and it was all too real for her.
Sparky tossed away the covering and rose to her hooves; she trotted off down the hallway and towards the information desk. The last thing she wanted was to be alone right now, and she sure wasn’t going to sit around here and mope. Shortfuse had been right about one thing, Sparky had all sorts of friends now, and she wasn’t going to disappoint Shortfuse by pushing them away.