Note: well this took a while sorry 'bout that! I just want to say, if anypony out there does notice any errors in this then please do let me know exactly what you think, constructive criticism is the best way to improve at anything and although, I check through each chapter carefully before uploading errors can slip through. I also must thank all of you who have rated and left comments in the past. Hope all of you had a great Christmas if you celebrate it and if I don’t manage to get the next chapter up before then, have a happy new year!
Chapter 8: The Speed Trials
Rainbow Dash awoke with a start. Her head was pounding from her crash landing back in GLaDOS’s chamber and she was stiff all over. She lifted a hoof to rub her aching head but instead managed to poke herself with the tip of the long fall boot attached to it.
“What the… what in Equestria are these!” she said to herself examining the boots attached to her hooves. “Ok, who’s been messing with my hooves?” she shook her hoof trying to dislodge the offending object. “What are these things?” she asked, more to herself than anypony else.
“Those are Aperture science Long fall boots, designed to protect our delicate equipment when unintelligent test subjects fail” The voice of GLaDOS erupted from the ceiling causing Rainbow Dash to jump back in shock.
“You! Where are you and who do you think your calling unintelligent!” Rainbow Dash spun around looking for the source of the offending voice in the small room, but aside from her the room was empty. “And where’s everypony else? What have you done with them?!”
“Your companions are currently unharmed and are participating in testing procedures around the complex. Whether they are to remain so is entity up to their own skill. So I wouldn’t your breath. The tests you will be participating in will begin momentarily”
“Tests? If you think I’ll be doing any of your tests you have a surprise coming. I won’t do them!” Rainbow Dash sat down on the floor defiantly.
GLaDOS was not accustomed to her test subjects being so insubordinate; this was partly because human test subjects usually had their vocal cords removed prior to testing. GLaDOS had decided against the removal of these subjects vocal cords on the grounds that their anatomy was completely unknown to her, if they had been accidently killed there would have been nothing for her to test. She decided to just ignore the undesired behaviour from the creature and continued to speak. “The following tests will be used to judge your physical and mental faculties and how well you can utilise them under extreme conditions. Detailed analysis has shown you to possess a physical structure that should allow swift flight and so the typical testing system has been replaced with one designed to test your speed and dexterity in the air, if any”
“What do you mean ‘if any’? Nopony insults my speed; I’m the fastest Pegasus in all of Equestria! I could win any race with both hooves behind my back! And I challenge anypony to say otherwise!” Rainbow was furious at the accusation of a lack of skill.
“The binding of your hooves will not be required as I am sure you will be able to fail by yourself.” Had GLaDOS had a face she would have been smirking “The first test will begin momentarily. When the door opens, please proceed into the testing area”
Rainbow Dash was about to reply when the doors in front of her slid apart with a hiss. ‘I’ll show her who’s slow!’ she thought to herself and took off through the open door.
It took Rainbow’s eyes a moment to adjust to the brightness of the chamber beyond. The room was long and had no floor, just a ledge at each end. The ledge she was on had nothing but a red button on a pillar and the ledge at the other side had only a closed door.
“So I’m supposed to…” Rainbow asked assuming that GLaDOS was listening.
“This initial test is simply designed to gain a baseline approximation of your speed. Your aim in this test as in any other is simply to reach the exit alive.” GLaDOS intoned from the ceiling.
“Ok then, well this doesn’t take a genius” Rainbow said to herself alighting on the ground and walking over to the button. “Press the button…” she did so “and the door opens.” The door at the other end of the chamber opened for about five seconds before closing again. “Plenty of time”
Rainbow took off from the ground and hovered directly beside the button “Ok, three, two one!” on one she slammed the button down and accelerated at speed towards the opening door.
“One". She counted as she sped towards the opening.
“Two”. She was halfway across the chamber now.
“Three” she was coming up on the door, she was going to make it!
“Four” she was almost at the door when it slid shut blocking her path. She yelled unable to stop in time and flew at speed directly into the door with a thud, sliding down onto the platform in a daze.
“Oh, I’m sorry; did I accidently close that door too early? Well you’ll just have to try again.” GLaDOS said infuriating Rainbow dash even more.
Rainbow Dash shook her head trying to clear it. “How am I meant to do these tests if you won’t even play fair?! If I ever get my hooves on you!”
“Test subjects are asked to refrain from violent outbursts towards Aperture science employees and equipment as it is an unproductive use of testing time”
Rainbow screamed out in annoyance pressing her front hooves to her face.
“Continue with the test” GLaDOS helpfully added from the ceiling.
Rainbow reluctantly complied and flew back to the button on the other side of the chamber. On the second attempt she made it through the doors before they snapped shut behind her. Beyond the door there was a strange glowing energy field across her path.
“Continue through the aperture science material emancipation grid to complete the test” GLaDOS intoned from the ceiling.
“Is it safe?” Rainbow asked fearing the answer.
“All authorised testing equipment can pass through the field unharmed” was the reply from GLaDOS. Rainbow cautiously continued through the grid.
Beyond the grid was a downward pitched corridor leading to a round chamber containing a glass and metal tube with a pair of doors. As rainbow approached the tube a platform descended inside stopping level with the floor and the doors slid open.
“Please enter the Aperture science test subject courtesy lift to begin the next test”
“What?! No. I did your dumb test now let me go!” Rainbow was incredulous she hadn’t expected more of these tests.
“The tests will be completed and then there will be cake. But I can wait. I have the rest of time, do you?”
Rainbow was slightly shocked at this and took a while to think of how to reply “I ask to be let out and you offer cake? Why? Why would you think I would rather have cake than freedom?”
“Test protocol states that all subjects will receive cake at the end of the testing process. Previous testing has shown that cake is the best motivator for test subjects. When given a choice all test subjects chose cake over termination”
“You call me stupid but you need to run a test to find out if ponies would prefer cake or death? That sounds pretty dumb to me”
GLaDOS remained silent.
“Oh you don’t have a reply for that? I guess that means I win!”
The chamber remained silent for several moments.
“Ok, fine I’ll get in the glass thing” Rainbow slowly trotted into the lift. As soon as she entered the lift started to descend into the dark.
The next test chamber was dark. As Rainbow Dash entered lights in the ceiling flickered into life illuminating a complex arrangement of large tubes separated from Dash by a glass wall. One end of the tube was situated in the glass wall with some kind of iris like door blocking it off. The tube was about five foot in diameter, large enough for Rainbow to fit through with no difficulties. There was a button on a pillar next to the entrance to the tube which Rainbow assumed opened the iris.
“The aim of this test is to set a base line for your manoeuvrability in the air. You must fly through the tube without touching the sides in the allotted time”
“Another flying test? I could do this in my sleep!” Rainbow boasted.
“Consciousness of the subject is mandatory for this test” GLaDOS added from the ceiling.
Not wanting to get into another pointless conversation with the machine rainbow trotted toward the button and pressed it. The iris opened just as she had expected, it remained open for about thirty seconds before sliding closed. Rainbow extended her wings and took off into the air. She positioned herself directly in front of the door and with a hoof, pressed the button again. As soon as the door had opened Rainbow accelerated into the tube. It ran straight for a several meters before veering sharply to the left at a ninety degree angle. For many Pegasi this would be a problem but Rainbow had spent much of her time back home in Equestria practising stunt flying, hoping to eventually be accepted into the Wonderbolts and took the corner at speed with ease. The next obstacle in the tube was a one hundred eighty degree turn vertically so the tube doubled back on itself. Rainbow took this on with ease as well ending up flying upside-down along the next stretch of tube, this turned out to be a mistake as her wing tip brushed against the wall. There was a loud buzzing sound and the doors at each end of the tube snapped shut. A section of wall slid across rainbows path making her panic. Knowing she was about to crash Rainbow shut her eyes tightly and braced herself for an impact that never came. She slowly opened her eyes and was astonished to find herself back in the chamber at the beginning of the tube. She spun around to try to see where she had come from and was even more shocked to see a glowing blue oval on the wall with a hole leading to the inside of the tube. She looked across at the tubes and saw an orange oval on the wall she should have hit. She gingerly placed a hoof through the hole and saw her hoof poking out of the hole across the room.
“What in Equestria… no fair! You can’t change the laws of physics! How can I do these if you pull weird stuff like this?!”
“The physical laws of this universe remain unaltered. Quantum tunnelling is perfectly valid when the fourth spatial dimension is taken into account.” GLaDOS explained from the ceiling “continue with the test”
Rainbow understood none of this and wished Twilight was there to explain it. Deciding to just get it over with Rainbow trotted back over to the door and prepared herself to try again. She took the first bend easily much as she had the last time, the second was more of a challenge. As she took the bend she spun around allowing her to fly the correct way up along the next stretch. The final corner was a bend directly down which she took with little difficulty flying out of the end of the tube through the ceiling of the next chamber.
The chamber she was now in was very similar to the one on the other side of the tubes. There was one glass wall showing the tubes and an open door leading to an emancipation grid.
“Congratulations you have completed the test. I’d offer you cake, but cake is only for winners. Please proceed through the aperture science material emancipation grid to end the test”
Rainbow Dash was about to exit the chamber when something caught her eye. One of the panels the walls were made of was damaged; one corner was bent up creating a gap in the wall, just big enough for her to squeeze through. Seeing her chance to escape Rainbow dashed towards the gap and pushed her way through.
The space beyond was dark, the only light coming from the gap she had come through. She could see the entire of the back of the wall here; each panel had a thick metal pole attaching it through a metal grating to some sort of machinery. The floor was made of cement and was dirty and cracked, there were empty cans and bottles littered all across it along with parts of the display terminals rainbow had seen across the rest of the complex. There was a wooden door on one of the walls of the space, Rainbow tried the handle but her face fell when it wouldn’t budge. She was about to leave when she noticed writing scrawled across the walls. ‘The cake is a lie’ she read off one of the walls, the phrase was repeated many times in increasingly shaky writing until it ended in a scrawled line. ‘she’s watching you!’ was written across the top of a crude picture of one of the red eye devices. None of it meant anything to the blue mare and some of it was freaking her out. One particular phrase caught her eye; it was in a different handwriting to the rest, far cruder and looked more recent than the scrawling’s underneath it ‘No way back, no way out, no life, no diamonds’. It made even less sense to Rainbow than the rest of it. She left the space and returned to the testing track, slightly down hearted but with more hope. If there was one way out, then there would be more!
Rainbow exited the test chamber and trotted directly into the waiting lift, if she was to find a way out then she would need to go through these tests.
The next test chamber was the largest by far, Rainbow had some trouble making out the end in the distance and it was easily the largest single room she had ever been in. most of Ponyville would have fit into it. The room was largely empty as far as she could see with only the door she had entered through and one other on the far side.
“I don’t get it, unless there’s some sort of invisible monster in there then I don’t see what I need to do”
“Simply reach the other side alive. This test uses deadly lasers. It is designed to determine the effects of putting a pony in a room filled with deadly lasers” With GLaDOS’s words, red beams of light filled the room crisscrossing across in every direction. Some fixed in place and some panning around on a fixed track. Pillars started to rise from the floor across the room, atop each one sat one of the egg shaped machines each with a laser of its own facing across at random intervals. Several childlike voices could be heard across the room saying ‘activated’.
Rainbow’s mouth dropped open. She surveyed the room with a look of shock on her face. Eventually she came to a decision and a look of determination crossed her face.
“Let’s bucking do this!” Rainbow said narrowing her eyes before taking off and flying into the room of death.
Rainbow flew across the room at her top speed, dodging lasers. One laser singed her wing tip and she had to do a barrel roll to avoid the rest of its arc. She flew down towards the ground spinning to avoid the path of an oncoming beam. As she approached the first of the egg shaped machines it opened up its sides revealing a pair of metal tubes. “Target acquired” the device said in its simple childlike voice as it opened fire on Rainbow Dash. Dash was shocked; she had never seen anything like it as she pitched sharply to the left to avoid the volley of projectiles the machine was shooting at her, what on Equestria had she gotten herself into! She quickly gained altitude avoiding the beams, trying to get out of the machines range. Unfortunately all this did was gain the attention of some of the other weapon turrets, each one opening and aiming its weapons at Rainbow Dash. Rainbow was less than halfway across the room and would never make it if the onslaught of projectiles continued. In a split second she came to a decision, taking a gamble that the lasers took some time to do lasting damage she aimed herself at the ground and flew as fast as she could, bringing her wings to her side to reduce her air resistance. A visible rounded shell of air started to form around her. Pulling herself in tighter still the shockwave of air sharpened to a point with an explosion of sound as she broke through the sound barrier. The sonic rainboom exploded out from her as she levelled off, much less vibrant in the dry air of the facility but with enough force to knock the precariously balanced turrets off their pedestals. Rainbow proceeded across the room at Mach one, decelerating only as she passed through the doorway at the other side.
GLaDOS was shocked. Something that hadn’t happened since Chell had first escaped from the testing track. The blue rainbow pony had broken the sound barrier; a living biological being with no sort of machinery of protection had broken the sound barrier! A pony that by all known physical laws should have not even been able to lift a foot off the ground had managed to fly at seven hundred and sixty one point two miles per hour! Three point five zero seven times faster than the fastest avian. Up until know GLaDOS had assumed their physiology had been similar to that of any pony from earth, just with a larger speech centre and more power to annoy, but this changed everything. These creatures must be radically different from anything she had knowledge of. The testing was no longer just of minor scientific interest. This testing was important. For science! The next tests need to be more in-depth, their intelligence must be tested. a modification was going to be needed for the hand held portal device.