"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.
Anyone who's willing to draw a more story accurate cover will be greatly rewarded.....with stuff.