A soft breeze...
It is said that in the current age, the average human individual encounters more information on a daily basis than the average Equestrian would in a year (not counting the large cities).
Did I hear a bird sing?
Galinda had discovered quickly that losing her eyesight had left her mind with plenty of idle time, and almost disturbingly little to fill it with.
Definitely some bird... Must have come here from Equestria...
To make matters worse, the violent reaction the strange Blue Box had had to her presence had also fried most of her implants.
Then again, I “forgot” how to see. Wouldn’t have a lot of use for most of them...
So now, the morning of the day after her ill-fated attempt to find out about the Doctor found her, sitting on a bench in front of the bureau.
Hmm? Did someone walk by? I thought I heard footsteps... Nah. Must have been my imagination.
Sleeping had turned out to be almost frighteningly easy. Even after the events of the day, even after the changes she went through.
Even if I could no longer just stop my thoughts with the flick of a switch...
Of all the changes, having to listen to her own thoughts had been among the most difficult changes yet. For as long as she cared to remember, her network connection had given her mind plenty to mull over. At the moment however, no such influx of information existed, leaving her mind to wander over all the other things she now heard.
So strange... Do fish have fingers?... No! Focus!
Trying to organize her thoughts, Galinda went over the recent events again. At the party, most of the human population of the center had called her out on her latest hacking “victory”, while just about everypony was only worried about her, asking her how she was doing and if she needed any help.
Especially Surprise was nice... to me...
Apparently, the Doctor had given her some old walking cane and a pair of red sunglasses to at least allow her to get out in public until her conversion.
The shades... I guess it was really bad, how they all gasped when I showed them...
Lucky for her, standard bureau procedure meant that her new handicap put her on the fast track to conversion. Still, she had had to wait for a couple days.
Got lucky there... Wonder why you never hear stories of converts-to-be hurting themselves to get ahead in line... Gah! Focus!
Still, it had been three days since the incident. She was getting a bit tired of waiting, so to calm down she had found her way to the bench near the bureau she was now sitting on, hoping to get some peace and quiet.
Did it all by myself too... wonder if I ever get used to needing help. Or having to ask for it...
Hold on, did I hear someone?
Galinda got up, awkwardly trying to maintain her balance. “Is anyone there?”
“Don’t worry, it is only me.”
The Doctor? How did he get here? The voice is too high for the human one, and I should have heard his hooves...
“Doctor Whooves, I presume?”
"Yes. Were you thinking I was somepony else?" the Doctor replied.
"Well, I thought you might be the human Doctor... Why do you two sound so alike, if I may ask?"
*clip clop* "Long story. But enough about me. How are you feeling this morning?" The Doctor said.
Confused. A little scared. "Just fine," Galinda said.
"No, really. How are you feeling?"
That obvious, huh? "...Terrible. Alone. And not the good kind of alone."
"Good kind?" The Doctor asked, curiosity in his voice.
*rustle* Sounds like a bird nearby... another one, or the same one? “Independent. Not needing anyone. Right now, I’m more helpless than anything else...”
*clip clop* He is standing next to me... “Do you want to talk about it? I mean, you hardly said a word since it happened.”
Not like I have anything better to do. “Why not? Have a seat, because this is going to be one of those long stories.”
*plf* I guess he sat down? Right... ponies don’t really need benches for that. “Time is just about all I have.”
Dramatic, aren’t we? ”Whatever that Blue Box of the human Doctor did, it made me remember everything. And I truly mean everything, from the moment I could think to the instant I opened that Box. Every single moment, as clear as if I lived through it only a second ago.”
“That sounds... painful.”
Hm? Almost sounds as if he knows more about it... “It is, trust me. Anyhow, my story. I... didn’t have the happiest of childhoods. Until the last two were born, I was the middle child. So, my parents spent all their attention to my little brother while just letting my older sister do whatever she wanted, since she was the ‘test run’ for the rest of us. You know, see how she’d screw up, and make sure that the rest wouldn’t.” For a moment, Galinda just sat there, lost in thought.
“So, for most of the time, I was the middle kid. Not old enough to have achieved anything, not young enough to need help all the time. I was, as far as anyone cared, invisible. I learnt not to ask for anything, and just deal with it if I needed anything. It got even worse when my younger sisters were born, leaving my parents with even less time and attention for me.” Again, Galinda stopped for a moment.
“I was nothing, a shadow clinging to the walls, just living day-by-day. Until, one day...”
Several years ago. Galinda’s age: 12
Little Lindie looked at the computer. It was practically ancient, had a cracked screen, the plastic turned brown after years in the sun of some now-abandoned office complex.
Anyone else would have called it outdated, an ugly relic of a painful past. Lindie thought it looked beautiful.
Her parents had taken her and her siblings to the museum for the day. In practice this meant that the lot of them would be dumped there, while her parents were Lord-knows-where. Her older sister had ran off, saying something about her boyfriend and his friends, while her younger siblings had bolted without saying even a word. Normally, she would have done the same. Today however, she had hung around in the museum for a while and when she had made up her mind to go somewhere else, it had started raining. So, rather than getting wet outside, she had wandered back into the museum proper.
For a couple of hours, she had explored the vast reaches of the building, until her feet had carried her into the little corner on the second floor that fulfilled the role of “Interactive Experience,” now standing face to face with the old desktop computer that had been put on display that time.
Too old to be of any significance anymore, too young to be worth anything as an antique, abandoned by those it had faithfully served for all those years. Her opposite in nearly everything, and yet, if it could think, it would without a doubt be the one thing in the universe that could ever understand how she felt. She reached out to the front of the box containing that mind of silicon wafers and copper wires.
Initializing Bash Shell...
The computer sprung to life, green text rapidly filling the cracked black void of the monitor as Lindie backed away, afraid she had broken something.
She stood there for a moment, facing the machine, waiting for anything else to happen. Nothing did.
“Ok, stay calm Lindie, you just turned it on by accident. All you have to do is turn it back off again, no-one will notice...”
Lindie cleared her throat, and spoke loud and clearly. “Computer, Shutdown!”
“Shut down I said!”
“Run shutdown? Exit? Abort? Terminate!?”
Lindie tried every variation of “shutdown” she could think of, but nothing seemed to work. The computer hadn’t even acknowledged her existence, not since it had suddenly turned on. Lindie was getting desperate, silently praying that if she broke anything, no-one would find out.
“You know, those old-time pc’s didn’t have that fancy voice recognition stuff.”
Lindie spun around, startled by the sudden voice behind her. She found herself face to face with an old, dark-skinned man with a kind smile on his face.
“You have to enter those commands via that thing with the buttons. Here, let me show you...”
The man walked up to the machine, and pressed a series of buttons on the strange rectangle in front of it, text appearing as he did so. “This one needs a little persuasion to really start, but nothing big. See? There comes the interface.”
The screen now showed several small icons. Even several decades of development had yet to yield a better way to organize programs in a way anyone could understand.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble sir,” Lindie said as she slowly tried to get away from the strange man. Years lived almost alone had thought her to be wary around people who seemed kind, they always wanted something from her.
“Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m just a silly old man, hoping to tell the young’uns a little about the past. No trouble for me,” he said with a warm smile.
To this day, she still didn’t know why, but that smile made Lindie stop, her curiosity about the old machine overpowering her aversion. “Ok... Can you show me how it works?”
The strange old man chuckled. “That is why I’m here today! Well, let’s start with the basics...”
She had spent the rest of the day at the museum. The scolding her parents had given her when she finally showed up at the meeting point however bounced off of her, almost without her noticing it. Matter of fact, she spent most of the trip back home planning for what she would do next.
That one day at the museum had given her a glimpse of a world she never even heard of before, a world she could not ever forget. However, back at home the seven of them had only one computer, one her older sister had practically claimed for her “Art Projects.” But living for years with little other than what she truly needed had left Lindie with a gift to getting what she needed, if not what she wanted.
For almost a month, she brokered, traded, sold anything she could get her hands on. She sold half her clothes, the few books she was given for her last birthday, even the watch that her parents had told her would one day be her most important possession (though in reality, they just didn’t want to buy her another one.) She saved up every single credit she could spare, until one day she walked out of a store, a pile of large boxes on a small cart in tow.
The computer was old. Not nearly as old as the one from the museum, but still not nearly recent enough to have voice recognition as the main interface.
It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t flashy. It wasn’t new.
It didn’t matter. It was hers.
The computer had belonged to some guy who hadn’t bothered to wipe the disk. Her luck, getting an OS would have meant many months of scraping the bottom of the barrel. Additionally, it meant that the old machine came with a ton of stuff.
For the first time in her life, she had a place she could go and forget about life for a while. She played classic old games, like Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress. She even tried her hand at writing for a while, but stopped when she couldn’t find anything to write about anymore.
Her business as a hacker (she preferred the term “obtainer of digital goods”) had started by accident. Her old Braeburn desktop had earned her a little of a reputation, as “the girl with the old beast.” Not a positive one, nor a negative one. Still, people knew where to find her, and also that she had a knack for getting what you were looking for if the price was right. She had been working on obtaining a few old pieces of literature, when she came across an old digital library that might have had them. When she asked however, the system owners had told her that little girls like her shouldn’t mess with the affairs of grownups and that they had time nor patience for the questions of someone who didn’t even have a job. She did not take it well. In the past, this would have meant that she would just run off and hide in a corner where she wouldn’t be a bother to anyone. Now however, she had a way to make herself heard.
It had taken her a lot of time, research and effort, but after a while she managed to find a backdoor into the library. In there she discovered two things. 1) The library didn’t have the works she was looking for. 2) The library didn’t have anything, aside from some administrative records. From those records, Lindie managed to learn about the scam the owners were running, where they would contact rich collectors claiming to be in the possession of some priceless first edition or something, and would demand some massive sum for said collectors to even see the item in question.
The news that night headlined with the image of the swindlers being carted off to jail after an anonymous tip.
Shortly thereafter, Lindie got contacted by someone who wanted some information from a certain server and was willing to pay well. She accepted.
After the “library,” the server turned out to be a piece of cake, leaving her with another satisfied customer, a new venue of profit and more credits than she knew what to do with at that time. She had all she needed. So, for the first time, she started to look at what she wanted.
First she bought some new clothes, just because they looked nice. It got boring when she realized she hardly ever went outside to show them.
Then she bought a new computer, to see if it was any better than her old beast. The same day, she switched back.
For months she tried everything, finding nothing that she could spend her new wealth on for more than a week before it got boring.
One day however, she looked in the mirror. It had been years since that day in the museum, but when she looked...
She was still that awkward little girl.
Her waist a bit flabby, a large pair of glasses on her nose, her hair a tangled mess.
She looked terrible. But she didn’t have to.
The following years, she used the money from her various contacts to enhance her own body. First she underwent a liposuction. Then she got breast implants. A facelift. Eye surgery.
When her body was what she imagined to be perfect, she started to reach further. First she got a simple neural implant. Then a pair of implants for her ears. She upgraded her neural implants, got herself the best of the best. But the one upgrade that was truly special to her, were her optical implants.
Now truly, she lived in a virtual world. A world in which her word was law, where her wishes were as magic to the systems she spoke to.
"...and now... I lost them. I was going to lose them anyway, I know... but I thought..."
"You thought that by then it was not going to matter..." the Doctor said.
"Yeah..."He knows what it is to lose something like that, doesn’t he? Funny thing...
Suddenly, a string of electronic beeps pierced the calm silence of the morning. “Oh dear, I’m afraid I lost track of the time. I’m terribly sorry, but I have to go. I’ll see you later. Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Well, gotta fly so bye!”
*Rustle* Did I just hear wings? “Doctor?” Lindie reached out to where the voice of the brown pony had come from not a second earlier, her hand only finding air. “Doctor? Where did you go!”
“There she is! Found her!” The Doctor again? No, this must be the human one. Sounds like him anyway.
*tmpatmp*He is walking towards me. Why did he sound so worried? “I wasn’t hiding or anything, just taking a morning stroll.” Galinda got up from the bench, turning to face the footsteps moving towards her. “Besides, the other Doctor found me first anyway.”
“Can’t be. He stayed back at the centre while I went looking for you! But we have to hurry, your conversion was due ten minutes ago!”
What? Did I imagine all that?
Blindness is a curious thing. It robs you of one sense, but your other senses become much sharper. However, there is only so much you can do with only hearing, smell and touch. So Galinda couldn’t know about the brown feather that drifted away on the breeze, as the Doctor dragged her along to the centre and her new life.
So, last Wednesday my internet got connected, been a bit busy since, getting up-to-date with some things that had slipped the last few weeks.
Also, yet another chapter wordcount record, less than 100 words short of 3k. :flutteryay:
kryxel here. in case you were wondering that IS the doc she was talking to. not leroy wingkins.
explenations will happen later.