Chapter XII - Two Souls, One Body
“Mind yourself there, your highness,” Archimedes said.
“Thank you, Archy,” Cadance smiled.
Archimedes nodded with a happy smile in return as Candace walked past him. The automaton held back the large branch that was blocking the path for the others to walks past. Alongside himself and Private Moon Dancer was a handful of guards from both Lunar and Solar corps, the two Princess’, Twilight and his new friend, Cadance. It had been a couple of hours since they had begun their trek into the forest, having been teleported a small distance into it by the alicorn sisters. Archimedes was the leader of the group, as now he was back in the forest he was able to figure out his bearings and where the old laboratory was. Though, he couldn’t explain for the life of him just how he knew where he was going. It was just a kind of gut instinct, or whatever it was for a machine to have.
“So… what was Starswirl like?” Cadance asked.
“Well… he was rather, eccentric,” Celestia began, “he always got intrigued by the most peculiar things.”
Luna nodded and snickered, “Tell her about the lecture on Terra.”
“Lecture?” Cadance asked, tilting her head at her aunts in curiosity.
Celestia had to hold back a giggle as she remembered the day fondly, “Starswirl had a somewhat short attention span at times. He would be talking with you one moment, and the next he would suddenly stop, his attention focused on something else.”
Cadance nodded as Celestia continued.
“Anyway, one day he was giving a large lecture to the royal court about his findings on when the planet Terra was discovered. He was… I’d say about midway through his lecture when he got, as always, distracted…”
“As you can see, from this new updated star chart I have created to include the new discovery, the new planet is roughly the same size as our own Equus. Further examination will be carried out using the latest magical detection spells but I Roughly estimate that the planet is about one hundred and fifty billion light years away.”
Starswirl beamed with pride and confidence as he used his pointer, levitating it in his magic, to point towards the planet ‘Equus’, the ponies homeworld and a small area that had a highlighted circle around a slightly blueish green dot. The new planet, ‘Terra’.
Starswirl walked over the stage as the members of the court watched in awe and curiosity, some scribbling down notes whilst others waited on baited breath for the unicorns next words. Celestia sat at the back, watching with pride as her friend delivered his lecture.
“Now, we won't get anymore information about the planet for a few days, due to the time and effort it will take to focus enough magic to…. to…”
Starswirl slowly stopped mid sentence as he slowly found himself gazing out the window at the night sky outside. The members of the court muttered to themselves as they watched in confusions as Starswirl walked over to the window and poked his head out, carefully scanning the sky.
“Uhm.. Lord Starswirl?” one of the court, a stallion, asked, “is everything—”
“Confound it!” starswirl shouted, interrupting the stallion and causing nearly everypony present to jump out of their seats, “Why in the hell is that buggery blasted star there?! It should be approximately three hundred million miles to the west!”
Starswirl cursed loudly as his chart was ripped off his board by his magic and quickly shot over to him. He held it beside him as the court members watched with slight concern. Starswirl began to jab angrily at the chart, still scowling up into the sky.
“See?! You’re supposed to be here you utter bastard! Right next to—”
The unicorn stopped as he looked at his chart, squinting at it as he twisted it left and right as he scanned over it. He then rotated it one eighty and glared before his eyes went wide.
“Oh… wait… you ARE supposed to be there. Huh... looks like I need to make adjustments to the new chart.”
With that, he tutted and sucked some air through his teeth before he left the courtroom, using his magic to levitate over his various equipment he had brought with him and slammed the door shut, leaving the courtroom in stunned silence. Celestia shook her head, but was trying her hardest not to laugh.
Cadance giggled uncontrollably with her aunts as their guards struggled to remain focused. Moon giggled softly as she sat atop Archimedes shoulder, the machine joining in on the laughter.
“So he actually just got up and left after swearing at a star for not being in the right place? Then realized he needed to fix his chart?” Cadance giggled.
Celestia nodded, “He was always doing things like that. He had a great mind, he was just incapable of really focusing on one thing at a time.”
As they entered the next clearing, they were greeted by the site of a ruined and decaying tower that stood tall, peaking just over the tops of the tallest trees around them. Twilight gasped as she took in every detail of the tower, her tail twitching with excitement and anticipation. Celestia took it all in, inhaling a long draw of air before exhaling. Luna gently rubbed her sister’s back with a wing and frowned in concern.
“Tia?” she asked.
“I’m fine… I’m just relieved I might be able to finally find the answers I have been craving.”
Celestia was about to talk to Archimedes but noticed he was slowly looking around the area surrounding the tower, particularly around the door area.
“Archimedes, are you okay?” she asked.
Aside from Twilight who was frantically scribbling away in a notebook, the others turned their attention to the giant machine. Archimedes was carefully scanning the floor before he took a couple of heavy stomps forward and looked up to the door.
“Archy?” Moon asked.
There was a brief moment of silence before he turned around with a cheerful expression, “Yes, my friends?”
“Are you alright?” Luna said, tilting her head.
“Oh quite alright,” Archimedes replied, dismissing her with a wave of his hand, “I just had some memories come back to me about the tower, that’s all.”
Celestia nodded, although she wasn’t one hundred percent convinced. She turned her attention to the guards that had accompanied them and spoke.
“Sergeant, form a perimeter around the tower. We shall head inside and investigate.”
“Yes, your majesty,” the Sergeant replied.
The three princess headed towards the tower as the guards took up their positions. The two princess’ headed inside with Twilight right behind them, her eyes wide and a massive eager grin on her face. Archimedes soon followed with Moon Dance in tow, Archimedes having to dip under the door frame again and saw that each princess had engulfed their horns in magic allowing them to see. Archimedes blinked and two beams of light shne from eyes, letting him and Moon have light as well.
The ground floor was just how he remembered it. Dusty, covered in a few worn down and a few broken pieces of furniture. He wondered over, past the princess’ and stopped when he looked at the floor. So wrapped up in their examination of the room, the princess’ had failed to notice that the floor had been disturbed somewhat. He stared at the ground as his eyes roamed the floor, catching Moon dancer’s attention as she whispered to him
“Everything alright?” she asked.
Archimedes nodded slightly, “I’m fine, my little friend, just reminiscing.”
The machine carefully looked around to see if anything else had been disturbed. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, he left the princess’ and started to make his way back into the basement, the dark much heavier as his eyes scanned the area. There was several broken chairs and tables, glass bottles and vials as well as stains from an unknown liquid. Two cages were on either side of the wall, the doors long broken and whatever was inside of them long gone. Archimedes curiously noticed several very smooth and similarly shaped rocks dotted about the room.
“This was his laboratory,” Archimedes told Moon.
The bat pony nodded as she looked around where Archimedes eyes shone, noticing all the broken furniture and arched her brow. “What’s with all the broken stuff?”
Archimedes coughed embarrassedly. “That… would be my handiwork. I didn’t really take much care leaving here and I sort of just walked through everything.”
Moon snickered behind a hoof, “You silly tin can…”
“Oh my, it’s awfully dark in here.”
Archimedes turned at the sound of Celestia’s voice, the alicorn being followed by the two others. Twilight now had several books floating around her, each one with its own quill furiously scribbling away.
“Allow me, sister,” Luna said.
The alicorn closed her eyes and her horn shone brightly before a ball of magical light shot out and rested near the ceiling at the center of the room fully illuminating it for all to see. Archimedes turned off his lights and looked around, seeing a large series of cracks in the floor where he figured he must of landed.
“Ohmygosh!” Twilight squealed, “I can’t believe i’m in Starswirl's laboratory!”
“You’ve been in his old one, though, back at the palace,” Cadance replied.
Twilight gave her a dismissive wave of her hoof, “Yes, yes, but this is his other one. No pony has been in this place for centuries!”
Cadance shook her head but smiled at the antics of her sister in law. It didn’t matter that Twilight was a princess and an alicorn now, she was still the same loveable filly who would get excited about anything she knew and loved dearly.
“Sorry about the mess,” Archimedes said, “I kinda destroyed a lot when I left here.”
“Speaking of which…” Celestia began, “where you always down here?”
Archimedes shook his head as he pointed to the area where he had appeared in, “No… I think I actually appeared in here like magic. I think, anyway… memories a little fuzzy.”
As steam started to seep out of his helmet, Moon bopped him on the side of the head, “No thinking, it hurts you too much.”
“My apologies,” Archimedes repled, “I just wish I wasn’t so gosh darned faulty.”
“It’s not your fault, Archy,” Cadance smiled.
The machine smiled down at the pink alicorn before he heard Twilight squeal again somewhere in another part of the laboratory.
“Ohmygoshohmygosh! I found his journals! Maybe there’s something in one of these!”
Twilight rushed back to the others as she carefully opened one of the journals, grinning madly as she hungrily read the journal, devouring its words. Luna shook her head as her own eyes wondered about before they settled on an unusual looking slab on the laboratory’s floor. She squinted at it and made her way over and carefully scanned it and noticed that unlike everything else in the room, the slab had little to no dust on it.
She turned her head back to the others, “Twilight, I thought you said nopony had been in here for centuries?”
“They haven’t, why do you ask?” Twilight replied.
“I believe somepony has.”
The princess’ Moon dancer and archimedes headed over to where Luna was. The alicorn pointed at the floor, revealing the slab to the others. Twilight pouted a little as she scrunched up her face.
“Darn… I was hoping we were the first.”
“Oh well, my little student,” Celestia replied, using her wing to gently pat Twilight on the back reassuringly, “I’m sure there are still things we can discover in here. But do remember we are here to see if there is anything that can tell us about what happened to Starswirl.”
Twilight nodded as she trotted back to the journals along with Cadance. Luna, noticing a few sheets of paper on a nearby table that was still in tact, walked over them to inspect them. Celestia was about to join Twilight and Cadance but noticed Archimedes staring at the slab. She could feel a strange energy emanating off him and it didn’t feel right.
“Archimedes, are you alright?” she asked.
Archimedes didn’t answer, remaining still in his spot. Moon flapped her wings as she got off him and landed beside him, looking up at the metal man.
“Archy…?” she asked worryingly.
“Confound it!” Archimedes suddenly shouted, startling everyone before he stormed to the far wall.
“A-Archimedes?” Celestia asked.
Archimedes ignored her as he reached the wall, and promptly smashed his fist into it causing a massive dent and a loud thud to echo in the room.
“Archy?!” Moon cried out.
“Why. Can. I. Not. Remember. Anything?!” Archimedes shouted, punching the wall in between words.
“Enough!” Luna shouted, using her magic to hold his arm back.
Archimedes swiveled round, his eyes glaring at the others and flickering between yellow and red. Luna held firm on her grip as he let out a loud exhale and slumped against the wall with his back against it.
“I… I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me.” Archimedes apologised.
“It’s fine, Archimedes. But you need to tell us what’s going on, you’ve been acting funny ever since we arrived here.” Celestia replied.
The others nodded in agreement as he sighed and nodded himself.
“Alright… something's been bugging me ever since we got back. Someone’s been here recently and that is making me feel unnerved for some reason. And when I look at that slab, my warning system goes into overdrive and I have no idea why!”
Archimedes looked away as he rested his hands on his hips before continuing.
“It’s positively infuriating having a faulty memory…”
“It’s not your fault,. Archimedes,” Twilight said with a warm smile. “I’m sure once we are done here, we can figure out a way to restore your memory circuits.”
Archimedes was about to reply when Moon Dancer suddenly spoke up.
Everyone turned to look at the bat pony who was pointing to a dusty looking ball that was on the floor near one of the walls. Curious, Celestia levitated it towards her before she gasped and her eyes widened.
“I… think it’s a memory recall orb.”
“A what now?” Cadance asked.
“Starswirl was always on about these, they were designed to record visual and sound and be able to replay it at a later date.” Celestia explained, “Though he never got around to fully finishing them before he vanished I think.”
“Fascinating… so it’s a sort of early form of camera?” Twilight asked.
Celestia nodded, “Exactly. I wonder if this one did work though…”
Celestia rolled the orb around in her magic before she let out a gasp as it suddenly shone a bright blue and staring back at her was the face of Starswirl himself.
“S-Starswirl!” she cried.
“There, that ought to do it.,” Starswirl replied, ignoring Celestia.
The alicorn sighed, remembering it was just showing her a glimpse into the past. However, she smiled and tear rolled down her cheek as she heard and saw her long lost friend again.
“Amazing…” Moon whispered.
“Alright. This is the fifth experiment I will be conducting into inanimate possessions, or in laymare’s terms. Fusing the soul of one being into another. Archimedes, bring me the specimen and the…. lets try it with the ferret this time.” Starswirl said as he finished adjusting the orb and headed back into the center of the room
“Of course, Master Starswirl.” Archimedes in the recording replied.
“Hey, that’s me!” Archimedes said as his past self replied.
“Shh!” Luna said.
They all leaned in a little to continue watching the recording, eyes wide and glued to the orb.
“Now, as you can see here. We have a goose and a ferret.” Starswirl said as Archimedes brought in two cages, one carrying a goose the other a ferret and placed them on the table, “I will now try to remove the soul of the ferret and infuse it into the goose. Two souls one body. Now, Archimedes if you would be so kind?”
“Yes, Master Starswirl,” Archimedes replied as he walked over to a stone and brought it over, placing it around the two animals before placing more rocks around the two.
“Those must be the runes you mentioned, Archy.” Moon whispered.
Archimedes nodded as Twilight turned to Celestia,
“Why is he using animals? That’s just wrong!” she asked.
“It was a different time back then,” Celestia replied, giving her student an apologetic look before they both returned to viewing the orb.
“Alright, experiment five is ready to begin!” starswirl said, his horn flaring up as the stones shone brightly displaying their rune markings.
The runes floated above the cages and started to spin. The two animals were by now panicking and doing all they can to get out of the cages and get away. Starswirl closed his eyes in concentration as his magic engulfed the two animals and slowly but surely, a small white orb of light left the ferret and slowly made its way towards the panicked goose as the body of the ferret fell to the bottom of the cage.
“A-almost…!” Starswirl groaned as his body began to shake.
“Master, what’s wrong? Your body is showing signs of distress and pain.”
Starswirl opened his eyes and he along with the others could see his veins clearly poking up under his fur, before he let out a pained gasp and fell to the floor, propping himself up on one leg. Something was wrong. The white orb of light had returned back to the ferret and both animals were still panicking, yet he could feel a life force being pulled out and his eyes went wide in alarm. It was his life force.
“Master! Cancel the spell!”
“I-I can’t! Something's not r-right!” Starswirl replied and whined in agony. “Archimedes! Initiate the failsafe, destroy the runes, now!”
Archimedes in the recording quickly went to grab one of the runes as Starswirl seemed to struggle to cancel the spell. As the machine grabbed one of the rune, the unicorn screamed in agony as his eyes rolled back into his head before he felt himself being pulled towards the runes. Just as Archimedes turned to see what was going on, Starswirl’s body contorted until it suddenly shot into Archimedes, throwing him to the wall in an invisible explosive blast. The machine crashed to the floor just as the magic in the runes suddenly exploded, creating a portal tear, Archimedes had no time to grab onto anything before he was violently pulled forwards into the portal along with a few other items in the room. The portal then suddenly vanished, the now spent runes falling onto the floor as the orb’s recording slowly faded out.
There was a long silence in the laboratory as everyone stared at the now dull orb.
“My gods…” Luna whispered.
“What happened?” Moon asked, “Did he die?”
“No… I think he fused… with Archimedes,” Twilight gasped.
“He… he…” Celestia began.
“Hmm, so that’s what happened?” a voice behind them said.
Everyone slowly looked round to see Archimedes looking down at them cheerfully. However, one of his yellow eyes had now turned a shade of ice blue and his usually grey metal armor had a tinge of blue to them. Celestia gasped as she looked up, tears in her eyes. Unlike Archimedes robotic tone, this one whilst robotic had a very distinct Trottingham accent.
“Very peculiar, was wondering why it was so dark in here. But now I know. And I appear to be sharing my automaton's body with him.” The voice continued.
“Well, that explains a few things. It's good to hear you again, Master!” Archimedes voice said.
“And indeed it’s good to hear you, my faithful companion!” The voice replied.
Archimedes laughed, but this time both the unfamiliar voice and Archimedes’s rumbled together through the laboratory.
“S-Starswirl…?” Celestia asked with a whisper.
Archimedes chuckled, “Yes. Celestia. It’s me. Stuck in here with Archimedes. So, how are we all doing?”