Near Human

by Element of Power


Chapter 3

Celestia strolled down the hall at a slow pace, in very deep thought. The recent events involving the escaped creature had her on edge. It had jumped from the castle window, and survived. It outran the royal guards. It had jumped down the mountain, and survived. It purposely fell down a waterfall, and survived. Now, it was somewhere in the forest. An unknown possible danger, in the position to potentially make its way to a town. That much she knew, without any further evidence.

Coming up to her room, she passed the numerous guards standing at attention all around the entrance to her bedroom. They didn't know that Celestia had overheard their talks amongst themselves earlier. Both blaming themselves and blaming each other for the creature found in the room they were guarding.

The normally silent doors creaked open as she went in. The rooms atmosphere was completely different, the tension still in the air. The large bed across the room was perfectly made, and the window was repaired; the staff had come in to tidy up.

There were no signs of the creature that had once been occupying her room. Except, one thing. When Celestia walked in, she faintly picked up the scent of the creature, getting stronger in different areas of the room. No matter how odd and random the situation was, it was real.

Slumping to the ground, Celestia laid there, contemplating her choices. The obvious idea was that the Elements of Harmony should be informed. They would be needed to investigate the creature, and protect other ponies if it came to that. Perhaps they were the next target of the creature. At the same time, that could put them into danger that they weren't currently in.

At this, she came to an obvious discovery. "I rely on them for too much, more than they should be handling..."

Often things that could be out of their control, they are still the ones who go to fix the issue. "Perhaps I should keep them in the dark, so they're safe..." Celestia spoke to herself. After thinking, she stood up and said. "No, they must at least be informed of what happened, and to stay alert."

In fact, they had been incredible saviors to all of Equestria. With their help, they had defeated an untold number of creatures the past few years, giving them more proof than they needed to know they could handle almost any problem. It was simply an issue of morality; sending a group of friends to help, or risk other ponies. How many other casualties could be avoided if only the Elements were sent?

She raised a hoof to her face. "Maybe I could inform Luna... but she's on that trip to Yakyakistan." She didn't want to ruin Luna's day about something that could be fixed before she got back.

Celestia walked over to the balcony, across the room from the window, the one that had previously been smashed in the successful escape. Taking a deep breath and letting it out with a sigh, her horn glowed, tugging the bright sun down to the horizon. It had only been a day, and in this time, the creature could possibly have done much damage.

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It has been two months since the experiment failure with E - 30. Both the subject and the device were unable to be found, seemingly destroyed.

Dr. Jovan thought otherwise.

For two months, he has had a multitude of tests conducted, all in the effort of recreating and discovering what had happened on that day. ABout a week after it had happened, they had another device built, identical to the original. A volunteer was sent in, an attempt to see what would happen.

When the volunteer started the machine in his hands, the same shockwave went out, before converging into a point, taking the volunteer with it. Except, the event didn't happen the same way as before. With the volunteer, he was pulled to the point, then promptly shredded and crushed, disrupting the device and leaving both it and the bloody mush in a pile on the floor.

Similarly, they tried the same test with a programmed robot. The same procedure, except when the wave was pulled inward, the robot wasn't pulled with it. The device disappeared, leaving behind the robot, and the frustrated Jovan watching from a distance.

While the rest his subordinates were confused at the turn of events, Dr. Jovan did not appear to be feeling too keen on having such issues. He was already asked by his superiors about the results of the original test, and just like him, they weren't too happy. Later, when asked why he was still pursuing this goal, he responded with agitation.

"We are still in the process of finding the cause of the observed anomaly," he explained. "If this were just some random fluke then this whole experiment would just be a waste of time, but there are some different possible explanations for the different effects. We will go down the list of possibilities here, and we will not leave anything out."

One scientist spoke up. "Until we get to the bottom of what is going on, we cannot be certain of all the possible causes of the anomaly, it would take forever, i-it would be impossible." Whipping around, Jovan stared at him, his teeth gritted.

"Then let's keep going."

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E- 30 silently made his way through the forest, careful not to attract the attention of any predators. He had already walked past a giant skull earlier. It was a wolf skull made completely out of wood, with green eyes and green moss growing on it. He didn't want to meet the animal that the wooden statue represented.

Beams of sunlight broke through the canopy of leaves, giving the darkening forest light. Every once in a while, a bird or two would fly through one, creating a flicker on the forest floor. The breeze would gently rustle the leaves and branches of the trees, creating a sound of peaceful white noise.

After a few hours of wandering, the beams suddenly lurched, slanting and disappearing. E - 30 looked up, seeing part of the sun through the trees. It was almost rushing toward the horizon, moving out of sight, while quickly being replaced by an equally fast moving moon.

"That's... odd. I'll have to figure that out later." He puzzled.

The forest, now covered in darkness, seemed much more dangerous. The darkness made it seem as though there were some kind of creatures lurking behind the trees and waiting for a chance to strike. More than once, he saw glowing orbs, deeper in the forest.

Altogether, it made for an eerie situation, but manageable. At least, until a roar rose in the distance, making the ground shake ever so slightly.

He threw his hands up. "That's it, I'm going to bed." Moving to a large tree, he dug his hands into the bark, and climbed. Near the top, below the final canopy, there was a section where the main trunk split in multiple directions, creating the perfect place to sleep. He laid down, not too bothered by the rough texture of the tree bark. Closing his eyes, he said, "I'll travel in the morning."

Blanking out, he entered darkness. Same as always, he had no dreams. It never made sense to him. His brain was still organic, with the exception of a few implants, but yet he always found himself unable to dream. He simply entered black, then woke up a few seconds later, finding that hours have passed.

Although he didn't see it, he felt something was different. Looking at the blackness, trying to see through it, he wandered in the direction of the feeling, tugging at his mind. He walked for hours, wanting to just quit and wake up, but his consciousness kept being pulled, feeling himself think about nothing except following it.

As he continued to walk, the feeling, like he was being pulled, grew more and more. He couldn't stop himself, as he moved faster and faster, faster than his legs were actually moving. His feet were sliding now, finding no traction as he got faster. He slid even more rapidly with every step backward he tried to take.

At the end of his vision, a silvery object, a speck at this distance, made itself known. But at the rate that he was now moving, it was right in front of him in less than a millisecond. It was his own body. Closing his eyes in anticipation, he smashed into it at the insane speed, unable to comprehend the action.

But, instead of a smash, he passed right into it, where he abruptly stopped moving. Squinting his eyes open, E - 30 saw light. Blues and greens, in the form of numbers, moved in every direction. Mixed into this, little squares zoomed around too, each showing a millisecond of something before getting to far away.

"They're, memories. My memories." He came to a startling realization. "I'm in my own mind, more than dreaming."

Taking a careful step forward, his foot met uneven ground. Looking down, he saw that he had stepped off of a metal floor, and was now standing on pink flesh. All around, patches of metal and flesh were mixed, fused together to create an interconnected floor.

"Machine and flesh." He studied. "My brain..."

He sighed. "Well, my body, but I can't use my body without my brain." He glanced up, at the ceiling, and saw what could have been a face. A machine's. And his own. Half and half, creating one face, looking down on everything. Just like his eyes, the face's irises were a pool of changing color.

"That's disturbing. Extremely disturbing."