The click-clack of fingers on a cheap keyboard sounds throughout your living room, where you sit and type numerous lines of code into a floating, holographic window.
“Let’s see now… just a few more annnnnd… finished!” you say happily as you type the last line in.
“Tats gret, cn I stop bitin dis thin now?”
You smile down at your browser pony, Chrome, who is biting the USB end of the keyboards cord with a less than amused expression on her face.
“Yep, go right ahead.”
She spits the cord out and smacks her lips, obviously trying to get rid of the taste of the metal that was on her teeth. “You know,” Chrome begins. “I’m not sure that this whole ‘having five senses’ thing is all that it's cracked up to be,” she says with a raised eyebrow.
Oh? Is that what she thought?
“Oh don't worry, metal is not the most pleasant tasting thing in the world. Actually, I'm pretty sure it tastes awful. But once we get all of your senses nice and tuned, I think you'll enjoy it,” you say with a smile.
Chrome doesn't seem to believe you if the annoyed ruffle of her wings is anything to go by.
“Hey, don't give me that ugly look. This has all been going well and once we're finished, I'll have an awesome grade for this semester in I.T. and we’ll prove that your kind can be even more than what is said on a simple instruction manual.”
Chrome sees right through your explanation, she probably knew your original motive right after the upgrade to let her analyze facial expressions and voice tone more in-depth. She puffs her cheeks out in irritation in a very humanlike fashion. “I’m a construct of information and energy, why in the world are you doing this all for me?”
“Do I need a reason to do this?”
She opens her mouth to bite out a retort but stops when you gently cup her face in your hands. Chrome shudders and unconsciously leans into the warmth your palms provide.
“You’re more than just a browser to me, Chrome. I’ve considered you a friend since day one,” you say quietly as you rub your thumbs through the plush fur of her cheeks. The nerve endings you programmed into her seemed to be working their magic as she calms almost instantly.
Chrome closes her sky blue eyes, the same eyes that seem to be gaining more and more soul each passing day as she basks in the simple joy of being touched.
“You’ve done a lot for me, and I just want to return the favor the best way I can. Let me do that much.”
She nods in an almost sleepy manner once your hands migrate up to her ears. No matter what she says, you know that at this point she won't be content until there's literally nothing left you can do.
“Hey, Anon?” she asks quietly.
“I’m sorry for snapping at you,” she says with genuine remorse.
Did she think that you would actually be angry over this? You smile and shake your head. Without giving her any warning, you scoop the white coated program up into a hug, making her squeak at the sudden motion.
She stiffens in your arms, not used to the overload of contact. Then she melts into the embrace. Chrome bites her lip as a look of indecision comes over her face, then, almost hesitantly, she nuzzles herself into the crook of your neck.
Your smile deepens ever so slightly. Every day her behavior becomes just a little more humanlike. Chrome, your Chrome, is already more than a simple out-of-the-box browser pony, but soon she'll be on a plateau of advancement she can call her own. You lean back onto the couch into a comfortable position, still holding the pegasus shaped program tightly.
This is nice…
So nice, that you feel your eyelids begin to droop. Taking a look at the clock on the wall, you see that it's almost 3 in the morning.
You look back down at Chrome, who seems to have gone into the appropriately named ‘sleep-mode’ still in your arms, and you really don't feel like moving.
She likely won't mind…
With thoughts of todays success in mind, you slowly drift off to sleep with the browser pony cuddled to you.
“Anon… Anon… Anon wake up!” Chrome's voice startles you into wakefulness, making you sit up in a hurry and flinging her away.
The surprisingly light program lets out a short squeal from the unexpected flight, but manages to right herself midair with a few hasty flaps of her multicolored wings.
You rub your eyes drowsily and wince at the nasty feeling you have in your back. Maybe sleeping on the couch wasn't the best idea after all…
“Mmm, wha time is’t?” you ask with blerily.
“It’s 6:54 AM exactly, giving you about 20 minutes to get ready and leave for class with 6 minutes to spare for extra things should you need them,” Chrome says like the finely tuned machine that she is.
Hmm, her voice is still pretty mechanical when it comes to precise things like this. You might want to fix that, just because it bugs you.
“Also, it's time to remember not to fling your browser off of you again…” she says somewhat irritably.
Well, that one sounded right.
“Chrome, new note, ‘Fix voice melds’ for… just anytime after we get home,” you say as you stretch.
“Gotcha, does 4 PM sound good?” she asks as she brings up a holographic screen and jots the note down.
“Just fine. How is weather and traffic looking today?” you ask as you walk to your room for a change of clothes.
Chrome thinks to herself for a moment, her eyes aglow as she loads the info. “The weather is looking to be a high of 76, sunny with no chance of precipitation. As for traffic, there has been a pileup on i95 and traffic is slowed to about 35 MPH. So nothing to worry about for us.”
i95? That’s the road that your friend Mous uses. You would be worried but he is perpetually late. So even if the crash happened just now, he would still be long behind it. Might want to rib him about being even later than usual. You walk out of your room looking around for your things
“He’ll be fine. Now, where are my-”
The jingle of keys cuts you off, making you turn and see Chrome holding your car keys in her mouth.
“Chrome, where would I be without you?” you ask with a smile as you reach out for the tangle of metal.
She drops them into your hand. “Probably still in bed,” she says dryly.
Patting your pockets, you find that you have your billfold, your phone, and a USB drive. Seems about right. You exit your 4th floor apartment with Chrome in tow and steadily make your way down to street level.
Once down and in the parking lot, you walk ahead of Chrome and open the door for her with a theatrical bow, making the program roll her eyes as she gets in.
(Later, University I.T. lecture hall)
You and your pony walk into the large room with a minute to spare, meaning you don’t get the best seats, but you’re still on time.
Shuffling up to the nose-bleed seats, you pass a ton of other students, some of whom give you and Chrome brief greetings before they go back to doing what they were before. A fair number of them have their own browser ponies in class with them, many of the equine programs different brands and at different upgrade levels.
It may not be apparent to anyone who is unfamiliar with energy constructs, but you notice the browser ponies in the room with lower level upgrades seem to be a lot less alert than their more advanced counterparts. You also spy Chrome looking at the lower-grades with an expression akin to pity, her blue eyes looking uncharacteristically melancholic, especially at an IE model struggling to open a webpage for her impatient looking user with the WiFi in the room as strained as it is.
Up into the first open row, you shuffle in and pull out a seat for yourself as well as one for your browser.
Now seated with Chrome next to you, she opens up a small holographic window in front of you and perks her ears up, likely ready to take notes for you. And she said pirating a bunch of voice-to-text programs was a bad idea.
Just as the clock strikes 7:00 AM, the professor, a rather nondescript middle-aged man with brown hair and glasses walks in with his own heavily customized Opera following at his heels.
He sets his things down upon his desk and turns to address the class. “Good morning everyone, it’s nice to see all your bright and shiny faces here. Or at least I can see some of them,” he says good-naturedly as he spies a few still drowsy students. “I hope you’ve been studying, because the CCNA certification exam is in less than a week! We need to get you certified and out into the workforce. Now, let’s begin were left off last week before I begin the lecture, shall we?”
Without any prompting, his Opera pony’s eyes glow, making the lights in the room slowly dim and the overhead projector whur to life.
The projector beeps a few times, then projects a diagram of a spherical object made up of many small hexagonal plates onto the wall.
”Alright everyone,” begins the professor as he takes out a laser pointer from his pocket. “Here we go, who can tell me what this little doodad on the screen is?” he asks, pointing at the object with the red dot from his laser.
Being a Monday morning, no one is willing to volunteer themselves to try and answer the question.
After a moment of silence, the professor beams a student in the face with his laser and says, “You! Marshall! Care to enlighten us on what this thing is?”
The young man, Marshall, squints into the laser and subtly tries to consult his Firefox pony for the answer. The sheer irony almost makes you want to facepalm.
“Aaaahh! No cheating.”
Marshall is silent for a moment, then shrugs. “I have no idea, teach.”
The professor clicks his tongue in annoyance then turns the laser pointer to you of all people. “How about you? What do you think this is, Anon? And no cheating.”
This is so horribly simple but you’re not sure how someone else didn’t immediately catch it. You’re sure that this was all covered in the A+ essentials exam last year.
“It’s a Hollow-Holo core, it’s what’s used in the construction of energy constructs like browsers, right?” Right? Of course it’s right.
The professor nods at the answer. “Exactly, a Hollow-Holo core, abbreviated to HHC. These wondrous little things are used in many things today, like the browsers many of you, and I as well have,” he says, gesturing to the array of ponies in the room. “Now, Anon, if you would keep the ball rolling and tell us how they work.”
You lick your lips and think to yourself. Generalizing this shouldn’t be too hard.
“The HHC projects a shell of energy and directed lighter-than-air particles held together with a dynamic magnetic barrier shaped into whatever the predefined form is. Then, you give it intelligence and mobility by having a CPU, magnetic barrier and particle emitter core being held aloft in the body via some form of levitation, usually magnetic. With that, it can move around on it's own and act as an individual. Hasbro currently owns the patents for the most powerful models.”
“Well said. Now, let’s get on with today. Notes out, eyes forward and-”
Everyone’s eyes immediately fly to the door, where none other than your best friend Mous is standing in the doorway looking rather sheepish.
“Sorry I’m late!” He says as he walks in with an IE model browser pony following shortly after.
The professor rolls his eyes. “Mr. Mous,” he begins in an irritated tone, “I would really appreciate it if you made an effort to be on time next time.”
Rather than try and argue with a possible excuse, Mous and his IE wave off the suggestion and make their way to set up next to you and Chrome.
You busy yourself tuning out the professor as he begins the lecture when Mous sits in the seat next to you.
“Held up by the wreck on I-95 I take it?” you ask, already knowing the answer.
“Yeah. That and Explorer here managed to misplace my phone.” He says with a shrug, making the program next to him smile embarrassedly.
“Say, can me and Explorer get a copy of your guy’s notes? I kind of didn't listen last time …” He asks after a second.
Chrome sighs and looks away from the holographic window filled with the professor's ramblings to Mous with a flat look.
He just responds with the biggest, cheesiest and most innocent grin that he can.
After a silent staring contest, Chrome sighs once more and copies the notes into an e-mail before sending it to Explorer. “This is the last time I'm going to do this, no matter what Anon says. You need to start earning your own credit, Mous.”
He just rolls his eyes. “Ok mom,” the slacker ribs as Explorer very slowly opens up a fuzzy looking window.
“Is that really fair, Chrome? You take most of Anon’s notes for him.” Explorer speaks up for the first time with a tilt of her head.
“Yes, it is. It's fair because Anon is the one who gave me the capability of doing so in the first place,” Chrome sniffs, barely hiding her dislike of the other browser.
“I didn't really ask, I can probably do it myself,” You say, jumping into the conversation. Is that her reasoning? That just because she can, she should? You might want to look into that.
The Google brand browser opens her mouth to reply but is cut off by a shout of “No talking please!” From the professor up front.
Something tells you it's going to be one of those days...