• Published 20th Jun 2013
  • 9,003 Views, 760 Comments

Technicalities - BionicBrony

After being forced from their home, a master engineer and his AI end up in Twilight's basement, their only desire to rebuild what they lost. Although not everything is as straightforward as it seems...

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The Liandri: part 2

Alex suddenly felt a painful sensation in his chest and clutched at it with his left hand.

God dammit, not now… he thought, clenching his eyes.

He forcefully pressed his right index and middle fingers against his throat to measure his heart rate and took short, controlled breaths. After longer than he would have liked, he started to feel his heart beat stabilize again. He took in one last deep breath to mentally reset himself and slowly let it out.

Upon opening his eyes, he realized that his little display didn’t go unnoticed by present company.

“It was your heart again, wasn’t it?” asked Twilight, clearly concerned for him.

“Yeah, it was… I’m fine now, though…” he answered quietly, still gripping his chest.

Twilight smiled weakly at him. “If you say so… I’m just glad those exercises are still working.”

“Yeah, me too… Anyway…” Alex repositioned himself in the chair, refocused his attention on the bones in front of him, and turned to Lyra. “How did you get this?”

“I found it when I was just a filly,” she said. “I thought I could get a cutie mark in archeology, so I would dig holes in places and hope I found something.”

“And you managed to find this?”

“Yeah, just a meter deep. Don’t really remember where, though… sorry.”

Alex was trying his best to make sense of the information. He was the furthest thing from an archeologist, but if the hand was really buried just a meter deep in dirt, it couldn’t have been terribly old. Unfortunately, that just left him with more questions than answers.

“Uh, am I missing something?” asked Twilight.

Alex looked at her, realizing that she had been left completely out of the loop. Instead of answering her directly, he placed his right hand directly above the bones in the box. As Twilight got a good look at the two, she made the connection and gasped in response, the same confounding questions starting to plague her as well.

“Yeah, that,” he said.

“This doesn’t make any sense…”

Alex grabbed his cane, stood up, and walked away from the desk. “Damn right, it doesn’t.”

“Do you have any idea how this could be possible?”

“Honestly, no,” he said as he rubbed his chin, pacing around the room. “I ended up in this world because of a mishap with a teleporter. I was using incredibly advanced tech that no one else in the world had, and that thing” – he indicated the hand – “was obviously here a lot longer than I was. Not to mention the fact that Equestria is-”

Alex caught himself midsentence. Had he continued further, he would have let it slip that Equestria was the setting for a cartoon show back on Earth. He wanted to avoid having to tell that to Twilight or any of her friends at all costs.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. “Not to mention what fact about Equestria?” asked Twilight, curious.

He looked away and cleared his throat. “Nothing. I, uh… I thought I had an idea, but I was wrong.”

Twilight, however, didn’t seem convinced by the way he was acting. “It certainly doesn’t seem like nothing.”

Alex bit his lower lip, keeping his face away. “Trust me, it’s nothing.”

He had expected her to say something, but was only met with deafening silence. He didn’t want to turn around and look at her, afraid that if she saw his eyes, she’d suddenly know everything. The fact that the silence dragged on for so long only unnerved him.

“There’s something you’re not telling me, isn’t there?” Twilight finally said.

The statement hit Alex like a brick to the back of the head and he felt the blood drain from his face. Shit! Think of something, ANYTHING!

Unfortunately, Alex’s inability to come up with a believable lie, or even any lie for that matter, was coming back to haunt him. He cursed himself as he realized he was well and truly fucked.

Alex took a deep breath and turned to face Twilight, looking directly into her eyes with his own dead serious look. “You’re right. There is something I’m not telling you. But trust me, you’d rather not know what it is.”

Twilight looked back at him with her own defiant look. “I think I have a right to know, Alex, especially after recent events, and especially if it concerns that.” She pointed towards the skeletal hand.

“Twilight, knowing what I know would only give you more questions, and no answers. And that’s on top of leaving you in a potentially massive existential crisis,” Alex said quickly and sternly.

“Existential crisis? Alex, what are you going on about?” Twilight stomped a hoof to show she wasn’t moving.

Alex huffed in frustration. “God dammit, Twilight… Tell me, do you remember the first night I spent here in Equestria? Do you remember how I didn’t get any sleep that night?”

She blinked at him. “Wait, are you saying that was because of-”

“Yes! That happened because I realized the exact same thing that you want me to tell you right now. You know I took it hard, and I’d be willing to bet that you’ll take it even worse!”

Twilight’s defiant stance deflated and she left herself deep in thought. She closed her eyes and angled her head downward, an almost sad expression on her face. For the moment, Alex figured he had managed to talk her down and his own stern expression softened. Eventually, Twilight raised her face again and looked directly at Alex with a newfound strength.

“Tell me anyway.”

Oh come on! Alex face palmed. I had it! I almost fucking had it!

“Well? Are you going to tell me or not?”

Alex looked at her with pursed lips. “I’m warning you, Twilight. If I tell you, there’s no un-ringing that particular bell.”

“I want to know!” she said, as defiant as ever.

“You really wanna know? Fine, I’ll tell you! The truth is-”


Alex and Twilight both turned their heads towards Lyra, whom they had completely forgotten was standing there.

“Look,” she said, “I don’t know about you guys, but if this thing is as dark as Alex is making it out to be, I don’t really wanna hear it.”

The other two let out a breath they didn’t even realize they were holding.

“Sorry, Lyra,” said Twilight. “I guess things kinda got out of hoof.”

“Yeah, sorry about that…” Alex followed up.

“We should probably talk about this at the library,” Twilight suggested.

Alex sighed. “Yeah, sure. Thanks for showing the hand to us, Lyra. It was… enlightening.”

Lyra smiled at them. “Hey, no problem! I thought you might find it interesting. Seems it was pretty important, huh?”

“More than you know…”

“We’ll see ourselves out, Lyra,” said Twilight, nudging Alex towards the door. “Thanks again!”

Lyra waved back as Twilight almost pushed Alex out of the room. He didn’t need much convincing to continue down the stairs and out of the house.

The entire walk back was silent and uneventful. It didn’t take a blood hound to be able to smell the tension between them. When they got back to the library, Alex entered first and hobbled over to the table in the middle of the room. As for Twilight, she took her time closing the door behind her, keeping an eye on Alex as if he’d somehow disappear into thin air.

Alex took a deep breath and turned to face Twilight. “I’m going to give you one last chance, Twilight. You really don’t want me to do this.”

Twilight frowned as she approached him. “I know exactly what I want you to do, Alex. Now what is it you’re keeping from me?”

He sighed. “Fine… Have a seat, I’ll be right back.” Alex turned and went off to the guest room.

Twilight did as was suggested and sat down at the table. A minute later, Alex came back with a small, flat object in his free hand and sat down as well, opposite Twilight. He held a button on it down for a few seconds, placed the object on the table in front of him, and looked directly at her. “This.”

Twilight looked at the object curiously as a small light swirled around what she figured to be its small screen and it emitted a chime. “Is that some type of computer?”

“Technically it is, but on Earth, it’s more commonly known as a phone. It allows for communication between other individuals with similar devices over long distances. Phones like this can play music and do a whole bunch of other stuff, too.”

Twilight almost found herself getting lost in the possibilities of having such a device, but quickly snapped herself back to reality, looking at Alex sternly. “What does this have to do with what you were going to tell me?”

He looked back at her neutrally. “Everything. You see, before I came to Equestria, I hadn’t used my phone in years. I completely forgot what sort of data I had on it. The day my old facility was attacked, I managed to grab it when I was getting all my things together. That first night here, I managed to unlock it and I went poking around a little bit, for old time’s sake. What kept me up all night was in the music folder, of all things.”

Twilight arched an eyebrow at this. “Music? I guess music can be pretty deep, but what sort of music was so existential that it managed to keep you up all night?”

“Allow me to show you…”

With the phone powered on and showing the lock screen, Alex quickly tapped in the proper code and hesitantly flicked it over to the music list. He scrolled down the list of songs and stopped at one which he felt would give the most obvious impression. His finger hovered over the title. He really didn’t want to play it. Trying to buy himself some time, he pushed the ‘volume up’ button on the side of the phone to make sure it was loud enough. With nothing else left to do, his finger hovered over the song again.

He quickly pressed the lock button on the phone and looked at Twilight. “Look, what you’re about to hear may disturb you on multiple levels. Are you really sure you want to do it?”

“Yes!” Twilight said impatiently.

Alex let in a deep breath and sighed. “Okay… Don’t say I didn’t warn you…”

He quickly unlocked his phone again, pressed his finger to play the song ‘Winter Wrap Up (Living Tombstone remix)’ and moved the phone closer to Twilight so she could hear it better.

Twilight put all her attention on the phone and the sound it was producing. The song itself started out innocent enough. She heard a variety of sounds that didn’t produce much of a melody, but flowed seamlessly together to produce something almost ominous. Twilight really didn’t think much of it, and hardly even considered it ‘music.’

And then she heard Rainbow Dash’s voice.

~Three months of winter coolness, and awesome holidays~

Her ears perked and her brows furrowed. She wasn’t quite sure if she was hearing things correctly.

~We’ve kept our hoofsies warm at home, time off from work to play~

Twilight’s eyes widened in shock. The voice that followed up, the vocabulary… It was unmistakably Pinkie Pie’s.

~But the food we’ve stored is runnin’ out, and we can’t grow in this cold~

She leaned in further as Applejack’s voice played, having no idea what to think.

~And even though I love my boots, this fashion’s getting ooooold~

Rarity’s distinct voice was next. For a moment, Twilight was starting to wonder if Alex had gone around to her friends’ homes and asked to record them singing for some sort of joke.

What she heard next completely shattered her hypothesis.

~Time has come to welcome spring, and all things warm and green~

~But it’s also time to say goodbye, it’s winter we must clean~

~How can I help – I’m new, you see. What does everypony do?~

~How do I fit in without magic, I haven’t got a cluuuuue~

Twilight’s jaw dropped upon hearing her own voice. What kind of song was this? Why were her friends’ voices in a song from Earth? Why was her own voice in that song too?

Seeing Twilight’s reaction, Alex pressed the pause button and brought the phone back over to his side of the table. Twilight’s eyes followed it and slowly moved up towards his face. Alex was resting his elbows on the table with his fingers interlocked. His head was resting against them in such a way that his hands hid his mouth, and he simply stared back at Twilight, scrutinizing every muscle twitch. Twilight just blinked, her thoughts still reeling about how to make sense of what she just heard. None of it made any sense, not if that device and song came with Alex from Earth! Twilight stared at the floor, trying to unsuccessfully piece it all together.

Alex, for his part, smacked his lips and leaned back in his chair. “Anyway… the song continues on for another few minutes with a catchy electronic beat with, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed, you and your friends’ voices singing along with it.”

Twilight looked back at him, trembling. “H-how…?”

“Well, that’s the golden question, now isn’t it?” he said, crossing his arms. “But, seeing as how we’re this far down the rabbit hole, I guess there’s no sense in trying to go back, now is there?”

Alex sat straight and held the phone in front of him. “The song you just heard was put together by a music artist back on Earth. I’m sure you remember me telling you about television, right? Well, that artist, along with hundreds of thousands of others, was a fan of a TV cartoon show called ‘My Little Pony.’ The musician made the song using clips from that show.” He put the phone down in front of her and leaned against the table. “If my memory serves well – and I'm pretty sure it does – you and your friends were the stars of that show.”

Twilight sat there, staring at him blankly. She had no idea what to think. Her life and the lives of her friends were fictional entertainment for countless people on another world? How was she supposed to react to that?

Alex sighed as he realized his worst fears about the situation were coming true: In one fell swoop, he completely turned her world upside down.

He, however, knew just how to fix it. All he had to do was get Twilight to focus on the right idea.

“Look,” he started, “imagine how I felt when I figured out I somehow ended up in what I thought was a cartoon show. Heck, you don’t have to imagine it, you know what happened: it kept me up all night. But I managed to reconcile with it that very same night.”

“B-but how…? H-how do you reconcile w-with… this?

Alex leaned towards her. “Three words, Twilight. It. Doesn’t. Matter.” He tapped the table forcefully with each word.

Twilight blinked in response. “Wh… What do you mean?”

Alex smiled inward, glad that the usual tactic of providing off the wall insight seemed to still be an effective way to get her to focus. “Tell me, Twilight. Had I not told you this information, would your normal, everyday life be any different?”

She looked at the ground for a moment before replying. “I… I guess not…”

He hit the table, then snapped his fingers and pointed at her with the same hand, causing Twilight’s eyes to snap back to him. “Exactly! You have a life! I have a life! Your friends have their own lives! Celestia still raises and lowers the sun! Knowing that Equestria is a cartoon show in my world, does any of that actually change?

He wasn’t sure, but Alex could swear he was starting to see the tiniest hint of a smile when she answered. “N-no…”

“And there you have it,” said Alex with raised arms. “That’s why none of it matters. Just because this is a cartoon on Earth, it doesn’t make your life any less real. I managed to figure that out on my own pretty early. Didn’t help me sleep, but I stopped caring. And Rose never cared to begin with.”

Twilight gave a small smile, but averted her gaze in thought. “Huh, right… Rose…” Her smile faded and she got up from the chair. “Sorry, Alex, but I, uh… I have to think about things for a little bit…”

Alex sighed, but nodded in understanding. “Alright… You do what you have to do. I’ve got a few things I need to do with Rose, anyway.”

Twilight didn’t respond, instead making her way to her own room and slowly closing the door behind her with her hoof instead of magic. With the door firmly shut, Alex sighed to himself. He did what he could to lessen the impact. Now it was up to Twilight to stay focused on what matters.

He sat at the table for a few minutes, reflecting on what just happened, before finally getting up and going back to the basement. As Alex descended the stairs, he was able to see just how much progress Rose made on the Liandri while he was gone.

The EMC itself acted like the world’s most advanced 3d printer, and what could be considered the Liandri’s “feet” looked completed and the neon blue tendrils appeared to be working half way up the “shins.” Compared to his own legs, the ones being built were large, though he knew the completed bot wouldn’t be too much taller than him.

He walked around the EMC’s work area, giving it a large berth, and sat down on the stool in front of his computer, rubbing his chin.

Rose’s virtual face appeared on the screen, perplexed. “Something on your mind?”

“Yeah…” said Alex, still rubbing his chin. “Remember when I found out that Equestria is the setting for a cartoon show back on Earth?”

“Yes, what about it?”

“Well, I just had the misfortune of having to tell that to Twilight…”

Much to his lack of surprise, Rose barely reacted to this. “And?”

Alex sighed. “She didn’t exactly take it well. I told her it wasn’t important because life still goes on and all that, but… Anyway, she just wants to think about things in her room for now…”

“She’ll get over it.”

“Heh, curt and to the point as always, I see?”

“I’m a bit busy, if you haven’t noticed.”

“Well here’s something distracting I think you should know anyway: We found a human hand.”

Alex heard the EMC slow down as Rose arched a brow. “What?”

“You heard me. That pony that came by to talk to us earlier showed us a fossilized human hand. Or maybe it wasn’t a fossil – I have no idea how old it was, I’m not an archeologist.”

“Are you sure it was human?”

He nodded. “Positive. Bone structure was spot on.”

“Strange… Very strange… I’ll file that away for later.” With that, Alex heard the EMC pick up again.

“Right… I guess we’ll deal with that later, then… Say, you won’t mind if I use the computer for a bit, will you? I wanna get to work designing the above ground portion of the new facility.”

“There’s still some of physical memory left. Just don’t ask for me if you can help it.”

Alex smiled. “Don’t worry, I won’t. Now then…” He cracked his knuckles and stretched his fingers. “Let the fun begin.”

Twilight Sparkle rolled over in her bed to look at the newly rising sun. She had spent most of her time the previous day mulling over what Alex told her and trying to distract herself by catching up on some studying. Although she caught herself just staring at the pages of her books and not actually reading anything multiple times. Spike was starting to feel really worried about her, but she refused to tell him what was on her mind, and with good reason.

Eventually, she resigned herself to what Alex told her. He was right. It didn’t matter. Just because her life was a fictional show to another species on a different world, that didn’t make it any less real to her or any of her friends.

Life would still go on as per usual.

Sighing, Twilight threw the covers off herself with a burst of magic and got out of bed. She had difficulty falling asleep, but she felt she had gotten at least enough sleep last night to get her through the day.

Making sure not to wake Spike, she carefully made her way to her bedroom door and quietly slipped out. As she did so, however, she noticed Alex sitting by the center table looking at what she recognized as a map of Ponyville by candle light with a cup of coffee in his hand.

As Twilight fully entered the room, Alex looked up at her and smiled. “Well well well, long time no see, huh? Your head in order, yet?”

Twilight smiled back at him. “Yeah, I’ve come to terms with it. You were right, it really doesn’t change anything.”

He smirked. “Of course I’m right. Now then, since you’re up and about, could you give me some advice on something?”

“Sure, just let me get something to wake up, okay?”

Alex reached over the table and brought over an empty cup and a pot half filled with coffee. “Help yourself.”

Twilight smirked. Of course he’d have that nearby.

She magically poured herself a cup and moved next to him. “So, what do you need help with?”

Alex put his own cup down and stood up, bracing himself against the table with his right arm. “I’ve been trying to find potential places to build a new facility, but I’m not exactly sure where to do it. I mean, Ponyville’s a pretty scenic place, so I don’t want to build anything that’ll completely ruin the feel. Most of it is going to be completely underground, mind you, just to save space, but I spent most of yesterday and last night designing an above ground section that people can recognize.”

Twilight took a sip of coffee and frowned in thought. She wasn’t thinking about where he could build so much as she was thinking about what he just said. “Alex, did you get any sleep last night?”

He grinned at her question. “Now why would I go and do a thing like that?”

Twilight shook her head with a smile. Of course.

“Anyway,” Alex continued, “I’ve had my eye on this northern portion of town. It’s pretty open, not much going on there, and not really in anyone’s way either…”

Twilight eyed the portion of the map he was pointing at. “Doesn’t seem like a bad spot. It’s clear of the Everfree Forest, so the animals won’t bother you. It isn’t very accessible to the rest of town, though…”

“Rose’s request, as I’m sure you can imagine. I could expand the road later, though.”

“That makes sense… How big is this above ground part going to be?”

“Sizable. Front portion’s going to be a garage, mostly, with storage and a manufacturing station behind it.”

“I see… Sorry, but what’s a garage, again?”

“A place where I’ll work on vehicles.”

“Oh, right…”

“Anyway, another thing I like about this area is that I’m thinking of expanding the building later, and there’s plenty of space there just in-case.”

Twilight nodded and took another sip of coffee. “That can work…” She frowned in thought. “Say, Alex, could I ask you something?”

Alex looked at her. “Fire away.”

Twilight hesitated for a moment, trying to find the right words. “This show you told me about yesterday… Were… did you watch it? Were you a fan like that musician?”

He scratched his chin in thought. “Once upon a time, yeah, I suppose. I saw the odd episode every now and then, but I mostly paid attention to the fan-made content. Mostly the music, really. There were some really talented fans, I’ll tell you that.”

She smiled at that. “Wow… Say, how much of the show do you remember?”

Alex shrugged. “In all honesty, virtually nothing. Remember when you told me about Celestia raising the sun? A detail like that is kind of important, right? Something you’d think I’d remember, but nope. I forgot most of it when I started pursuing, uh… Other interests.” He motioned towards the basement.

“You mean the Liandri?”

He nodded.

“Right. Speaking of which, did Rose finish making that, um… Axon, was it?”

Alex smirked at her. “She did. In fact, she already finished four of them.”

Twilight coughed. “What?! How did she finish making four already?”

“Well, each Axon unit comes equipped with two more advanced EMCs each. Once that first unit was build, she had three to work with, and if you do the math…”

She looked at him blankly, much to his amusement. “That’s… Wow…”

He chuckled. “Heheheh, you wanna see them?”

“Of course!” said Twilight, beaming.

Alex grabbed his cane and led Twilight over to the basement. “Okay, close your eyes and follow me. And no peeking!”

Twilight rolled her eyes at him and did as she was told. She followed Alex down the stairs, carefully feeling for each step. As she felt herself get closer to the bottom of the steps, she heard a low, almost alien hum coming from several different spots in the room. When she reached the bottom, she took tentative steps forward until Alex told her to stop.

“Can I open my eyes now?” she asked.

“Go ahead.”

Twilight slowly opened her eyes. At first, she couldn’t quite tell what she was looking at until a portion of her brain told her to look up. When she did, her eyes were met with a piercing, yellow glow bearing down on her. She yelped and back up in response, only to notice three other similar glows all angled towards at her.

Alex laughed at her response and walked around to the side of the Liandri directly in front of her, leaning against it with his right shoulder. “Introducing the new heavy class Axon mining and construction unit, each one powered by an individual Power-Core and equipped with not one, but two EMCs for both building and digging; an impact hammer for breaking apart rocks that are too large for the EMC to handle quickly; and a hand for grabbing whatever it is they need to grab.”

As Twilight receded from her initial shock, she was finally able to get a good look at the wall of beige metal before her. Each Liandri was humanoid, but they barely resembled a human beyond general shape. Each one was large and bulky, though only a couple of inches taller than Alex himself. Their arms and legs were irregularly shaped and the body looked more like extremely complex armor than anything else, yet the whole thing was beautifully symmetrical. The head was certainly no exception, looking like a helmet that seemed too small for anypony – or even Alex – to wear, but was just fine on its own. Not to mention the single daunting horizontal “eye” that stretched from one side of its “face” to the next. Looking at its arms, Twilight noticed that the one directly in front of her had what she recognized as EMCs instead of what was supposed to be forearms. The other three did not, as their right forearms appeared to be long devices with a large, flat end. Their left arms, however, appeared to have a hand, although they only had two oddly shaped fingers and a thumb.

All in all, the sight before her was jaw dropping.

Alex chuckled and moved beside her to take a good look at the Liandri for himself. “They’re really something, aren’t they?”

Twilight nodded dumbly.

“Ha! Speechless! Gotta love it!”

Twilight shook her head to snap herself out of her stupor. “Alex… They look amazing! Scary, but amazing! But I thought you said they each had two EMCs? Why don’t those three?”

“They do. There’s a mechanism on their back that swaps out their forearms.”

Curious, Twilight moved behind the one with EMC arms and, sure enough, discovered similar objects to those of the others’ within a complex mechanism on its lower back. She then noticed the other three each had their two EMCs in a similar spot as well.

As Twilight walked back around to the front of the first Liandri, she noticed its head follow her and froze. “Uhh… Alex, is it supposed to be doing that?”

“Heheh, each Liandri is driven by a Virtual Intelligence, or VI for short. They’re kind of a, uh… simulated intelligence that can only think and problem solve within the limits of its programming. The difference between a VI and an AI is that a VI isn’t sapient, or even sentient for that matter. That and they’re awful for conversations.”

Twilight walked around in front of the Liandri, watching as its head followed and tracked her. The simple act seem to mesmerize her, knowing that an action usually typical of living things was being performed by a machine with an incredibly basic intelligence.

Her wonder, however, was cut short by a low growling from her stomach.

“Geez, that was loud,” Alex commented. “Methinks you need some breakfast.”

Twilight giggled embarrassingly. “Yeah, maybe I do.”

“Come on, let’s go get something to eat. Hey, Rose, did you finish organizing the manufacturing station yet?”

Rose’s voice called out from the other side of the room on the workbench behind the Liandri. “Not yet! It’s proving more troublesome than I anticipated. I never realized just how simple our original facility was. I thought designing a building would be easy, considering what we do, but I can’t seem to figure out anything worth settling on…”

“Is… Is that artistic indecision I hear?”

“Of course not! I just can’t figure out the most effective layout for the expansion.”

Twilight started up the stairs with Alex in tow. “Riiiiight. Look, Twilight and I are going to go get some breakfast, okay? You just have fun there and I’ll be back in a little bit after we’ve figured out where to start building.”

“This isn’t fun, it’s frustrating! And please, do come back with a location quickly.”


Once breakfast was over and both Alex and Twilight confirmed that the northern portion of town they identified earlier was the ideal place for him to start building his new home, Alex went back downstairs to fetch Rose and the four Liandri.

Once again, Twilight found herself transfixed when Alex came back with Rose tucked under his left arm and the Liandri following behind him. Each one of their footsteps were heavy and powerful, the whirring of motors and servos accompanying the loud clanking of metal on wood. The ground itself seemed to shake with their collective movement.

It was then that Twilight realized they were called “heavy class” Liandri for a reason.

Naturally, the storm of sound didn’t go unnoticed as Spike burst out of Twilight’s room. “Twilight! What’s going– whoa…” Spike paused when he noticed the source of the disturbance.

Alex, Twilight, and one of the Liandri were standing next to the table in the middle of the room with the other three lined up against the far wall. All six of them were staring at him.

“Good morning, Spike!” Alex cried jovially as he placed his computer down next to the map. “We didn’t wake you up too early, did we?”

Spike flapped his jaw a few times before finally managing to say something. “Alex, what in the hay are those?”

“Oh, them? They’re what Twilight and I have been building towards for the past three months, Spike. Come on and meet them!”

Spike took tentative steps forward towards the Liandri standing next to them. As he approached the construct towering over him, its glowing yellow visor changed to a bright blue. Spike stopped a few meters away, noticing the sudden color change.

The Liandri slowly leaned forward, keeping its gaze locked on Spike, and spoke with a low, robotic voice: “Boo.”

In response, Spike cringed and took several steps back, eliciting a low chuckle from the Liandri that startled him.

Alex lightly shoved the bot on its bulky shoulder. “Quit scaring the poor guy, Rose. These things are intimidating enough as it is.”

The blue-eyed Liandri stood straight and looked at him. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”

“W-wait… That was Rose?” asked Spike, bewildered.

“Yes it was,” said Alex, shooting the robot a glare. “All Liandri normally have yellow eyes, but if Rose manually controls one, they turn blue. Makes it easier for me to keep track of her.”

Twilight walked over to her assistant and gave him a comforting pat on the back. “Don’t worry, Spike, they’re not gonna hurt you! And besides, aren’t they fascinating?”

“Oh, they’re something, alright,” he said, still feeling uneasy about the metal giants in the room.

“Right,” said the Rose-controlled Liandri. “As fun as that was, do we have a location to start building?”

Alex motioned over to the map on the table and the bot moved over to get a better look. “This spot right here on the northern end of town. We’d have to cut down a few trees, but there’s plenty of space. It’s also not overly close to anything that might keep a crowd, just like you wanted.”

“Good. Then let’s get started.”

“Getting eager, are we?”

The Liandri/Rose looked at him. “Yes.”

Alex chuckled. “Alright, alright. Twilight, mind leading us there?”

Twilight levitated the map off the table and made her way towards the door. “Sure thing, it isn’t too far from here. Come on, Spike!”

Alex picked the laptop up off the table and followed Twilight. Even if Rose was able to control the Liandri, the AI herself was still locked in the computer, making it necessary to keep it nearby. Spike watched dumbly as the four building bots thundered out of the library after them in single file, surprised at just how fast they were moving despite their size and obvious weight.

“Geez, how’d I wake up to this…?” Spike muttered to himself before sprinting after them.

As the group moved through town, Alex walked beside Twilight with a triumphant smile plastered across his face. He may have still be stuck having to use a cane for the next week or so, but he couldn’t care less. After everything that had happened, his new workshop was finally going to be realized.

Alex also couldn’t help but notice how the Liandri were starting to draw a crowd, something which he wasn’t exactly surprised by, considering how much noise they made by just simply walking. More curious ponies were starting to follow the group, though none of them wanted to get too close, happily observing the alien machines from a distance.

One such pony, however, didn’t care when she spotted her friend at the head of the troop.

“Hiya, Twilight!” said Pinkie Pie in her usual energetic manner as she bounced up next to them. “What’s with the robots?”

“Hi there, Pinkie!” Twilight greeted. “They’re going to build Alex and Rose’s new home! We were just on our way there. Wanna come with us?”

“Sure! Just gimme a sec.”

Pinkie stopped bouncing and started trotting backwards, facing the first Liandri in the line, which completely ignored her. While still keeping pace, Pinkie tilted her head every which way, examining it from top to bottom. Suddenly, she moved behind it and quickly hopped up and sat down on top of one of its broad shoulders.

Twilight gasped in surprise. “Pinkie! Get down from there! You’re not supposed to sit on that!”

“Pfffff, you don’t need to worry, Twilight!” Pinkie said, waving a hoof nonchalantly. “He’s just like Big Macintosh! It doesn’t bother him one teeny bit!”

Twilight shot a worried glace at Alex to see if he had anything against it. He simply shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry about it. These things are built to take a lot more weight than just Pinkie.

“Eeeeexactly!” said Pinkie with her trademark grin. “So, where you guys going?”

“Northern end of town,” Alex answered. “There’s this nice, open area there that’s perfect to start building.”

Pinkie pointed a hoof at an open field with a few oak trees in it just off the side of the road, the capital city of Canterlot visible some distance away and slightly to the right. “You mean that one?”

Twilight quickly unfurled the map to get her bearings. “Actually… yeah, that’s it.”

The Liandri slowed to a halt as Alex moved to examine the area more closely. It was mostly flat, with a few hills beyond, and a few trees stood defiant, complicating what could have been a perfect construction site.

“This’ll do,” Alex said, nodding in approval. He eased himself down on the side of the cobblestone road and sat crossing his legs, opening the laptop in front of him. “Alright, Rose, let’s get started.”

The Liandri with its two EMCs already equipped stomped out onto the field. The other three stood in place, instead moving right arms behind their backs. After half a minute of whirring, clicking, and hissing, they each brought their forearms in front of them again, an EMC adorning each one.

As the final three each made their way to one of the offending trees, Alex paid close attention to his computer screen. As the Liandri made their way out, Rose started to produce an image of the field from a top-down perspective, giving him a better view of the area. She also included a large rectangle to represent the “designated building area.”

While Alex was focused on his computer, the two ponies and dragon watched as the Liandri got to work clearing the trees. Each Liandri approached a tree of their own and, once close enough, pointed their right arms at the base of the trunk. Without wasting a second, a bright blue beam shot out of the center of their EMCs as they began slicing through the wood. Each tree collapsed within a minute, where their lumberjack would then grab one of their stronger branches with their left hand and start hauling it out of the way.

Spike let out an impressed whistle. “Wow, they don’t waste any time, do they?”

“Nope,” Twilight and Pinkie responded simultaneously, equally impressed by the display.

With all the trees within the building area cleared, each Liandri moved to a corner of the rectangle and waited until each one was in the proper position. Without any visible prompting, they all pointed their EMCs at the ground in front of them and shot out a much wider blue beam. Chunks of dirt and grass ripped themselves from the ground and approached the source of the beam in defiance of gravity, although they always broke apart and disappeared before reaching it.

“Wow, that is so cool!” said Pinkie. “Hey, Alex, what would happen if I put my hoof in that blue thingy?”

Alex looked up from the computer to see just what exactly Pinkie was talking about. “Hmm… Tell me, Pinkie, are you familiar with the term ‘atomic deconstruction?’”

Pinkie Pie sat down and rubbed her chin with her hoof. After a few seconds of this, Pinkie dropped her hoof along with all semblance of serious thought. “Nope!”

“It’s short for ‘don’t stick anything in there you don’t want to lose.’ Trust me, getting in their way while they’re working is the last thing you want to do.”

“Hmmm…” Pinkie rubbed her chin in thought again before gasping with inspiration and running off towards one of the fallen trees. She quickly snapped one of its branches off and ran over to one of the Liandri. Using her mouth, she held the stick in front of the moving Liandri and watched as the EMC disintegrated the portion she stuck in the beam.

Alex arched an eye brow. “Uh, someone should probably go stop her before she hurts herself.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “It’s Pinkie. Knowing her, she’ll be just fine. So when do you think they’ll finish building, anyway?”

Alex continued to watch as Pinkie started chucking pebbles into the beam. “Depending on how many more builders Rose puts together… And if Pinkie doesn’t do anything too serious… I’d give it about two weeks until the bare essentials are done.”

Author's Note:

Took me a bit to get this one done. You guys have no idea how devilish it is to describe the Liandri. These are based on the ones from UT3, and if you're familiar with how they look, you'd know exactly what I'm talking about. Here's a photo for those who aren't familiar with them:

Yeah, not exactly simple looking, are they?

In other news, I've got less than two weeks before my ass gets shipped off to college and I'm going to have a lot less time to write, so I'll try to get the next chapter out before then. After that, I'm going to take a story arc approach to chapters as they follow some of the episodes from season two, something I'm sure you've all noticed that I started a few chapters ago. I'm not going to do ALL the episodes and they're certainly all not going to be in order, if the "Winter Wrap Up" being two episodes ahead of "Fall Weather Friends" fiasco is any indication.

Again, a big thank you to all you readers! You guys are what make writing this worth it. If you have any questions about anything related to story, like if something doesn't make sense or what have you, feel free to ask. Doesn't matter what it is, I'll answer it as best I can without spoiling anything. And if you don't have a question, go ahead and leave a comment anyway! They're delicious!