You sleepily scrunch your nose and turn over in your warm and very comfy bed, steadfastly ignoring the voice calling you.
“Time to get up.”
A weight comes down next to you, shaking the bed. Again, you turn away and ignore it, trying to block out the noise and escape back into dreamland.
“Look. You need to get up. I don’t really care th—“
Without looking, you sloppily swing an arm around and smack the noisy annoyance, making a distinct, bit crushed buzzing noise and a pained yelp come from nowhere… Wait a moment, you know that voice, but from where? It sounded strangely like Chrome.
With no warning, the mattress of your bed is turned upside down with you still in it, sending you tumbling to the cold and unforgiving bedroom floor.
Well, that certainly solves the whole ‘being sleepy’ thing.
A white hoof steps down in front of your floor-mashed face, making you look up into the face of its owner. Afterward, you kind of wish you didn’t look up.
Glaring down at you with a cringe-worthy bent muzzle and blue eyes full of very realistic anger is your pony. Reaching a hoof up, she twists her bent snout back into place with a loud electric “Bzzzt!” and a wince. Her pain programming wasn’t damaged it seems
“Awake now?” she asks mockingly, “or do you feel the need to cave my poor face in some more?”
You’ve been awake for hardly thirty seconds and you already feel like an ass. Great way to start the morning. From the looks of things, her injury is nothing she can’t shake off. So at least you don’t need to rewrite her damaged code. There’s that at least.
“Sorry about that,” you tell her with a sheepish smile as you stand and push the mattress off of you, “I didn’t mean to do it, honest,” you say with the utmost sincerity.
The browser keeps up the steady glare for a few more seconds before her eyes soften. “Fine…”
Dodged a bullet th—“But!”—ere… Spoke too soon…
Chrome takes to the air with a few lazy beats of her wings and stares at you once she hits eye level. “I think you’re going to get me that new twelve core processor that they released a week ago. Ten cores just doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore…”
Chrome sighs melodramatically and puts a fore-leg over her eyes as she sinks to the floor. “But then again, you could always refuse, leaving me to become slow and obsolete. To be a relic while all the other browsers race off into the future whilst their masters watch proudly…”
God damn. Sometimes it frightens you just how much she behaves like a real woman.
“Alright, alright! Stop with the guilt trip!” you interrupt her before she can fire off more. “Looks like I need to start saving…” you say despondently.
Even if it’s coming out of your pocket, seeing Chrome’s beaming face is definitely worth it.
“So, if we’re done discussing my soon-to-be empty wallet, what’s on today’s schedule?” you ask as you turn to your dresser and dig through it. Man, you need a bigger apartment if you can turn around and reach each side of your bedroom…
“Well…” Chrome’s eyes glow a ghostly blue, “there’s not much today. You have an essay due for English 101 at 10 AM, a lecture in Calculus at 1 PM, and you put aside some time after class for your ‘personal project’. Her eyes lose their glow. “You know, you never told me just what this project is. Am I not important enough to be told?” she asks dryly.
“Don’t go jumping to conclusions yet,” you say with a waggle of your finger, “I think after it’s done and ready, you’ll know why I wanted to keep it to myself.”
Chrome raises a questioning eyebrow, but does not pry any further.
“Anyways, class at ten, got it. What time is it now?” you ask as you throw a clean shirt over yourself.
“It just now 8:41:48 AM. Date; August forth of 2025.”
“You don’t need to be that specific, Chrome,” you remind her for the millionth time as you smooth down your bedhead. “You think Mous and Explorer are going to show up?”
Chrome lets out a disdainful sniff. “Probably not, considering it’s a monday. He’s been advised one hundred and forty three times that he should take more interest in his studies, yet…”
You smile and let out a chuckle. “Well, you know what they say about horses and water.”
She makes an ugly face at the metaphor. “I’m not sure if that was a jab at me or not…”
You just laugh.
This time around, you and Chrome are some of the first to reach the lecture room. But considering that the class is english, it’s no wonder why. Both you and the browser quickly find spots in the back of the room, knowing that the nosebleeds will go quickly once others begin to show up. Like every other class, Chrome opens up a holographic window that shows the iconic Google search page, still the same as it was over twenty years ago.
Your father once told you that when the search engine juggernaut first came around, that he used it to cheat on homework and nothing else.
Like she was reading your mind, Chrome opens up three tabs. Wikipedia, gDocs, and good old Plagiarism Scanner.
“Chrome, you know me so well.”
“These pages were in your history for last week…”
You gasp theatrically and fling a hand to your heart. “You wound me…”
“Keep it up and we’ll see…” she mumbles, too busy copying sections of Wikipedia to come up with a better retort.
Just as expected, when others begin to enter the room, they all make a bee-line for seats as far away from the front as possible. To your immense surprise, Mous gets in the room before the bell and shoots for the open spot next to you.
“Yo!” he says with a short wave as he flops down into the old lecture hall seat.
Chrome looks up from her screen to Mous, before going back to faking the essay you never did.
“Wait,” Chrome says abruptly as she turns her attention to a startled Mous again, “where is Explorer?”
You blink in surprise when your long time friend deflates at the question.
“She uh… got a virus…” he says, obviously uncomfortable, “I couldn’t get rid of it, so I took her to that computer store downtown. They said to it would be a few hours until they were done.”
You frown. It’s true that computer viruses had advanced along with the technology they infect, but even the most severe of viruses don’t take longer than an hour to get rid of. Mous must realize that too, because he sinks a little further into himself when he sees your “calculating” face, as Chrome calls it.
Your pony must have been on the same wavelength as you, as she looks at Mous with narrowed eyes before asking: “Why didn’t you just bring her here instead of paying to have her repaired? I’m sure that Anon could have gotten rid of it.”
“I thought that it might be a bad idea to bring Explorer here since that stuff can spread over networks, ya know?” he retorts with a shrug. “For all we know, the virus might have a homegroup password cracker and a wireless connection spreading script. Just trying to be safe.”
Your browser huffs. “I’m well aware, but would it really be that much trouble to disable Explorer’s wireless network port? A virus can’t exactly spread if it is isolated.”
Mous’s lips twitch downward. “Are you really going to blame me for being cautious? I mean, what if I brought her in here and YOU got the virus?”
Chrome just smirks and lays her chin on your arm.
“That doesn’t prove anything,” Mous says, thoroughly unamused, “I mean, I spent almost an hour trying to remove that fucking virus. It’s not like I just got lazy and took Explorer into the shop just because I didn’t want to deal with it.”
That makes the smirk drop off your browser’s face and prompts you to look at Mous with worry.
Even if his grades don’t reflect it, Mous is still one of the best networkers and general tech troubleshooters on campus. Its laziness and a love of cutting corners that holds him back. If he gave it some honest effort, you have no doubt that he would easily rival you for your spot as number one, if not just pass you altogether. It’s easy to forget how outward appearance isn’t everything…
“Look, ladies, you’re both hideous-“
Mous smiles slightly and snorts while Chrome looks at you with narrowed eyes.
“-so can you save this little spat for later? Class is about to start.”
Your human friend shrugs and pulls a laptop about ten years out of date from his bag while Chrome glowers at him.
“You’re still taking the idiotic route, Mous,” Chrome snarks, unwilling to go silent without the last word.
He ignores her and opens up his old laptop, making her turn back to her holo screen with a bitter gaze.
You sigh and rub your temples. You can already tell what kind of day this one is going to be. You look over to your browser to see her finish faking you up an essay with a frown still planted on her face.
“Chrome…” you whisper.
She doesn’t reply.
“Chrome,” you try again.
Her ears twitched. She can hear you.
“Chrome, don’t ignore me.”
She finally turns and looks at you, ears pinned back and ready for reprimand.
You let out an exhausted sigh and reach over, taking her soft hoof in your hand. “What’s gotten into you?” you ask gently. “I know you and Mous don’t see eye to eye the whole time, but that was totally uncalled for.”
She flinches at your words, as if struck. “I...I don’t know…it just sort of, came out...” she replies unsurely.
Just sort of came out? That can’t be right. Chrome may be a bit unagreeable sometimes, but open maliciousness was never something she has been able to do. Your mind flashes back to the other day, with Bernice, her daughter, and the voucher.
You know for sure that something is wrong with Chrome now.
Slowly kneading her hoof, you think about how to address this problem. “Hey, run a quick scan on yourself. When was the last time I recalibrated your emotional balance algorithms?”
She goes silent, her eyes glowing for a few long seconds as she digs for the info. “...Three months ago, on May first, seven’o’six.”
Ow, thats WAY too long to go without an update. but you swear that you updated her not long ago...
Her eyes loose the glow, prompting her to blink and look at you with scrutiny. “So you think you can fix this?”
If you didn’t know better, then you would have sworn that there was an undertone of hope in Chrome’s usually confident and factual voice.
“I know I can. I’m sorry for neglecting you, I really am.”
Like you programmed them to, Chrome’s cheeks and the inside of her ears burn red with the declaration. She clicks her tongue disapprovingly as she turns to hide her face. “You haven’t neglected me, it was just forgetfulness. It happens to the best of us.” She goes back to looking over your now finished essay, but not before smirking and adding: “Well, except me.”
You suppress a smile. At least her pride is still functional.
The shrill, decades old bell cuts off of the blowhard calculus professor, making everyone and their browsers jump up and make a beeline for the doors.
No one wants to be in this class. No one.
You had spent the hour long lecture updating Chrome’s emotional balance. The abundance of other browser ponies in the room made it look like you were just taking notes like the rest. Now that she was all up to date, your browser now boasted a much more even temperament. She hadn't cracked an insult the whole lecture.
“Ugh, that was a total waste. How does that peon even hold his job with such an impractical course?”
You shrug and raise and hand to rub the head of the pegasus fluttering next to you as you both walk out of the lecture hall and into the sunlight. “Dunno. I sure I’m not ever going to use what I learn here, but that’s pretty much the whole higher educational system.”
Chrome leans into the offered hand with a small smile, turning her head so you could scratch her ear. “Humans are weird.”
“I dunno about you, but I take offence to that.”
Both you and Chrome look over, where a grinning Mous cuts through the throng of walking students with a very happy, healthy looking Internet Explorer trailing behind.
“I take it everything went well?” you ask.
“Yep! IE here is clean as they come,” Mous exclaims with a thumb pointed back. “No more virus, no more sitting around in the shop.”
Explorer blinks in confusion when all eyes turn to her, she’s probably unused to all the attention.
“Boring, I take it?” Chrome asks, sounding like she already knows the answer.
“No,” the other browser admits with a demure shake of her head, “I was in sleep mode most of the time. It seemed quick to me.”
Mous looks down at her, his normally bored eyes filled with a sort of longing fondness. “Yeah, it was quick for you…”
Explorer squeaks in surprise when Mous unashamedly snags her up into a tight, loving hug. His arms are wrapped so strongly around her middle that it might have hurt her if she wasn’t a machine.
“...But if felt like forever to me…” he mumbles into her mane. “I thought something was really wrong with you…”
The Microsoft browser just nuzzles her master, her expression one of content.
The heartwarming scene pulls a smile onto your face. Even Chrome hides a small one of her own behind a hoof.
Then you remember that you’re on a college campus, where sympathy and subtlety are foreign concepts.
Mous’ head snaps up toward the parking lot where the voice came from, only to see a large Dodge SUV squealing out into the street with a vengeance.
Here we go...
“You better run, you fucking mangina!” Mous furiously screams over the sounds of other students leaving, drawing even more unwanted attention to your group.
“Must you really be louder than a rocket taking off?” Chrome asks, unamused.
Mous looks down at your browser with a raised eyebrow. ”Well, I could just say nothing, like, all day. You know, because I’m an idiot,” your friend retorts. The pony in his arms looks between him and her fellow browser, worry in her yellow eyes.
The white pegasus winces, then looks up to you, silently asking for support.
You just motion towards Mous with a nod.
She stands in pensive silence for a few moments, and for a second, you’re afraid she’ll stay that way. Finally she lets out a sigh, and looks up to Mous with remorse and a tiny bit of bitterness. “Mous, I want… to apologize for my foul attitude this morning,” the Google brand browser forces out, “I didn’t intend for what I said this morning to come out as it did. Can you…”
Chrome takes a moment to swallow her pride and keep her features stony. “Can you… forgive me?”
Mous stops holding his nose in the air to look down at your pony in surprise. If you know him, then the last thing he probably expected from Chrome was an apology.
A grin slowly begins to spread across his face as he leers down at the white pegasus, making you begin to worry. You aren’t the only one who noticed, as Chrome only takes one look at his face before her eye’s widened and she began to back away.
Mous takes a step forward.
Chrome takes two back.
Mous takes two.
Then, Mous strikes.
“I always knew you cared!” Mous whoops like a goof as he lunges for Chrome, who reacts too slow to dodge.
Your browser yelps as Mous scoops her up into a hug with Explorer still in his arms, smushing both of them together with a pair of uncomfortable “Oof!”s
“Friendship is magic, isn’t it?”
Chrome’s single exposed eye, the one not covered by Mous or Explorer looks at the ecstatic human like she wishes he’d burst into flame.. “Yuur goin’ tw ned moor thn majic wen I’m down wiff yu…” she says as best as a pony with a another pony mashed on their face can.
’It won’t be long now,’ you think to yourself as you type away at the cheap tablet in the comfort of your apartment. Countless lines of text and code sit in your lap and only continues to grow as your fingers relentlessly attack the device that holds them.
Curled up next to you on the couch is Chrome, who is snoozing away in sleep mode. The slow, steady rise and fall of her back is so realistic that it would be easy to mistake her for a real pony.
Well, if real ponies had wings and were made out of magnetized particles.
You gently run a hand through her soft blue mane, the hairs atop her head parting perfectly around your fingers.
Chrome smiles in her sleep and twitches an ear. You have to resist the urge to scratch it.
Looks like the mod to make her sleep like a real creature works perfectly.
It had taken a while to convince Chrome to go to bed. It had taken even longer when she learned that you were going to stay up and do work on a “vastly inferior device.” She seemed genuinely insulted that you wanted to use the tablet over her. You should talk to her about how efficiency wasn’t everything.
“Oh, well shit.”
That also reminds you, you need to talk to her about pulling potentially dangerous stunts without your permission. The situation in the car where she had internet access without a wireless point was a bit too much for you. You look down at the tablet with heavy thoughts in mind. If you can get this to work, what’s to say you’ll even be able to handle Chrome anymore?
The mere thought is as exciting as it is frightening.