That was the word they used to describe me. I heard it so often I began to refer to myself as Defect. My life was one of darkness and pain. Day after day,or that was what I assumed as I was unable to tell time, I was either trapped in darkness and unable to move, or strapped to some table, writhing and screaming in pain.
Not the best life.
Occasionally I would catch glimpses of strange machines, or even those who held my restraints. But I could never retain a memory beyond the pain.
While in the dark I could hear voices. Their words made little sense to me. Other than my name, there was one other word that I understood. And this word I learned to fear.
Anytime I heard that word it meant more pain, but not always for me. Outside the darkness I could hear the screams from five other voices. I assumed that they were like me, trapped in the dark and listening to the screams. Waiting for when they came to preform tests on them. Somehow knowing that I wasn't alone comforted me a little.
Sometimes I would dream. My dreams made as much sense to me as the voices in the dark. I would always be in a forest, but what I did varied. Sometimes I would be climbing trees to get to their fruits, swinging from vines to escape things that I knew wanted to hurt me, or even be around other creatures that reminded me of myself. These dreams though were few and far between the "tests."
Something was different about today. I felt more awake, more alert, however the darkness remained. Voices were shouting outside the darkness. Voices that I now understood.
"What's going on?"
"It broke free!"
"The new guy. He didn't use enough..." a distant rumble interrupted the voice.
"What's it doing?"
A scream, different from my own or the other five pierced my darkness.
"Oh sweet Celestia!"
"Too late, it's...!"
I felt my world shake.
"It's going for the others!"
"Destroy them! Quickly!"
I began to hear frantic clicking sounds. The only times I would hear this sound was when it was time for the "tests." This time though it became harder for me to breathe. I realized with horror that I was included with "them." And there was nothing I could do to stop it. My entire world was the darkness, and the pain of the "tests." I was immobile unless the voices moved me. I couldn't speak, only scream and even that was denied me now. All I could do was go to my death with dignity.
Despite being left in the dark, despite all of the "tests" I didn't want to die! I tried to struggle against my world of darkness, even though I couldn't move.
I don't want to die...
I could no longer breathe. I felt myself beginning to slip.
I don't want to die...
I clenched my teeth in frustration at my helplessness. I was getting weaker. This was it. This was the end.
I want to live!
More screams echoed in my darkness. Screams that seemed a lot closer to my world. Soon after, I heard more clicking and I could breathe again. I then heard a low hissing noise, and the sounds of my world opening. The darkness became a little brighter.
"Hey," an unfamiliar voice entered my world. It was deep, and gentle. "Hey, wake up," I felt something new. This feeling wasn't pain, but a soft tapping on my shoulder. "Open your eyes."
I can do that? Taking the advice of the gentle voice, I began to slowly open my eyes. This new world was bright and blurry, and there was a dark shape in front of me. The world slowly began to clear up, and when everything became lucid,I stared at the shape in front of me. I found myself face to face with a creature with a long muzzle and eyes too far apart. It had silvery white fur and black hair. Somehow I knew what this creature was, and I raised my arm and pointed to the creature. I spoke for the first time, "You're a horse," were my first words.
"And you're a monkey," he said back to me. I realized that the gentle voice belonged to the horse. " Now step out of there, but take it slow."
I hesitated for a moment before lifting a leg, and stepping down onto the cold floor. As soon as I put weight on my legs, they buckled and I collapsed to my hands and knees.
"I told you to take it slow. Are you alright?"
I chuckled, "I guess it has been a while since I've used my legs."
"Not as long as you might think."
I raised an eyebrow at the horse, but waved it off and slowly rose to my feet. This time my legs held, and I stretched the rest of my muscles. I scratched at my brown fur, and my tail twitched a little. Stifling a yawn, I gave the horse a toothy smile.
"Feel better?" he asked.
"A little," I answered. The horse nodded and moved to my right. I looked around the room, really seeing it for the first time. It was dark, spacious,and had strange machines with lights lining the walls. Across from me was a large door,and I assumed that it was the only exit. Turning around,I backed up to get a better view of the back wall. There were five pods of various sizes lining it. Near each pod stood more machines with buttons covering the tops,and small screens above them. Two were open and empty. They were obviously the pods that held the horse and me. The horse was near one of the closed pods. His fore hooves were (somehow) typing away at the buttons.
Something else (something that wasn't the oddity of hooves being able to operate something that clearly required more dexterity) caught my eye. Three small creatures in white lab coats were lying,seemingly motionless, near one of the open pods. Inching closer, I noticed that the creatures body type closely matched the horse's, but with noticeable differences. Their eyes, even closed I could see that they were a lot larger,almost dominating their faces, and were more centered than the horse's. Their manes and coats were a lot more colorful as well, and their muzzles weren't nearly as long.
I took one more step toward the smaller horses before my entire body stiffened. I turned my eyes to the ceiling.
"You can sense them," the horse said, not as a question.
I merely nodded, not caring that he couldn't see me. What I felt, I can't really describe. Dozens,maybe hundreds of creatures filled with...something. This "something" allowed me to pinpoint where each creature was, and where they were going. Something that I couldn't sense in the small horses, my horse companion...or myself.
"I never asked how you were really feeling," the horse said, drawing my attention away from the creatures above me.
I stared at him for a moment before laying a hand on my stomach, "Hungry, I guess?"
The horse smirked (a really strange looking smirk) before returning to whatever he was doing. "I'm sure those at the door will do."
I turned to the only door in the room. I could sense three creatures standing right behind it. I could also sense that one of the creatures had a lot more "something" than the other two.
"Do you know what to do?"
I crawled towards the door a little before standing upright. I looked at my hands for a moment before curling them into fists and said, "Yeah, I think I do."
"Good. They're all yours. I have my hooves full here."
"How are you doing that anyway?"
Before he could answer, the door burst inward. Behind them stood three extremely angry small horses. The two in front, male by the look of them, seemed to be twins. Their coats were pure white, were wearing golden armor that didn't seem to cover their more vital areas, and they both had wings. From their stony faces and armor, I assumed that they were knights. The small horse behind the knights, female definitely, had a horn jutting from the center of her forehead. Her coat was a dark red. Her mane, parted by her horn, was blue and her eyes were a pale yellow. I would have marked her as a civilian, if it wasn't for her white coat, and the mixed look of terror and hate she was giving me.
"Destroy them both before they activate the others!" she cried, and the knights sprang into motion.
They both leaped forward and,using their wings to draw a pair of swords, came at me from both sides simultaneously. They were fast, no doubt about that, however I was able to see through their strategy. I jumped over both them and their swords, feeling the wind of the blades beneath my tail as they passed through the space I was standing less than a second before. Turning in mid-air my hands landed on their heads, bringing them both to the ground with me standing atop them.
I never understood how I could do what I did next, or how I knew I could do it, but I felt the "something" inside the winged horses leave their bodies and enter mine. I was absorbing the "something" from them, draining them. Strangely they didn't struggle. It wasn't if they were paralyzed, but their faces showed no signs of pain or fear. Just a strange far off look in their eyes.
Once they were both empty of their "something" their eyes closed, and they both lie motionless. They were still breathing though, which strangely made me relieved. I also felt a little stronger, and not as hungry as before.I cocked my head to the side and looked to the knights beneath me. "Huh," I said as knowing entered my mind. "Pegasi. They're called pegasus ponies," I turned my gaze to the horned horse. "And that makes you," I took a step towards her, "a unicorn pony, and he," I gestured at the horse, "is an earth pony."
"I'm not a pony," the horse said, sounding a little offended.
I ignored him and continued my approach to the unicorn. She was staring at me with a look of shock and fear. All the hate had left her eyes, and I wondered what she was most afraid of. The fact that I could talk, or the fact that she was now alone.With me.
"I wonder," I continued, stopping just a few feet in front of the terrified unicorn. "Do you know what it was that I took from those pegasi knights? Wait don't tell me! I might learn it for myself if I do the same to you!" I smiled at her, "Won't that be an interesting," my smile vanished, "test?"
The unicorn backed away in sheer terror. Her horn was engulfed in a red aura, and I saw my body being surrounded by the same glow. The aura around me felt like the "something" I took from the pegasi, so I absorbed it just the same. The unicorn's eyes widened slightly before taking a look of concentration. The red aura appeared again, but this time a beam of the stuff shot out of her horn at me. Instinctively I raised my hand in defense, and I absorbed that, too as the beam struck my palm. She shot at me three more times, before giving up.
The unicorn took a step back, and I stepped forward. Her horn began to glow again, and I waited for her to make her move. That's when I sensed that she was manipulating something behind me. The swords! I thought before flipping into the air. The blades, both surrounded in the red aura, passed beneath me and embedded themselves into the wall behind the unicorn.
I landed and mimed wiping sweat from my brow, "Whew, that was a close one," I said with a smile. "Are you alright?"
For some reason my absolutely legit show of concern seemed to freak her out, and the unicorn tried to bolt. Before she made it three steps though, I had one hand around her neck and the other grasping her horn. I could feel her pulse beating frantically, and her pupils were dilated in a panic as she knew what was coming.
Seeing the unicorn like this, completely helpless and at my mercy, stirred a feeling inside me. A feeling that I never expected to feel.
The feeling intensified when the unicorn began to cry, "Please," she begged, her voice shaking, "p-please don't." I responded by tightening my grip on her horn and began to drain her.
Before she slipped into unconsciousness, I whispered, "Sorry," and she fell out of my grip.
Disgust. That is what I felt.
I was disgusted with myself for making this unicorn, this mare, feel that way.
I stared at her, no longer sensing the "something"...no longer sensing the magic inside her. It was magic that I was drained from the pegasi and the unicorn. But even with the magic of three ponies inside me, I still couldn't sense any magic within me. I still felt...empty.
I was torn from my thoughts when the horse called me back into the pod room. I took one last look at the magic-less unicorn before rejoining the horse.