• Published 29th May 2015
  • 25,755 Views, 2,225 Comments

Undead Robot Bug Crusaders - Banjo64



Scootaloo has a secret. So do Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle. What happens when the truth comes out?

  • ...
33
 2,225
 25,755

Chapter 9: Life's a Sweet Song with Sour Notes

The CMC had enjoyed a nice, quiet week. Or as quiet as it was possible for the three of them. The only thing remotely exciting was a camping trip to Rainbow Falls that passed without incident. Well, and the time they almost burned down the barn again, but that wasn’t anything new.

Come next Monday however, Sweetie Belle's friends’ curiosity could be contained no longer. They had to know. They had to get answers to the questions that had been burning within them for so long.

Unfortunately, they were quickly disappointed.

“OK, how about… laser eyes?” suggested Scootaloo.

“Scootaloo, changin’ the words around ain’t gonna make it work. Let’s just accept that Sweetie Bot can’t shoot lasers and leave it at that,” said Apple Bloom with a shake of her head.

“UNIT SWEETIE BOT AGREES WITH UNIT APPLE BLOOM,” announced Sweetie Belle.

Scootaloo groaned.

“Are you really a robot, Sweetie Belle? You have no laser vision, no rockets, and not even a built in shock thingy. What kind of robot doesn’t have a shock thingy?” she complained.

“UNIT SWEETIE BOT HAS NOT BEEN OUTFITTED WITH TASER ACCESSORY. PLEASE CONSULT LOCAL A.P.P. SPECIALIST FOR MORE INFORMATION,” said Sweetie Belle.

“Oh, sure. We’ll just travel through space, or time, or whatever the hay you came from and ask a specialist. Yeah, that’s fantastic advice,” grumbled Scootaloo.

“Ya don’t have to get snappy about it,” chided Apple Bloom.

Scootaloo took a deep breath and calmed herself down.

“Yeah, you're right. I shouldn’t get mad at her for something that isn’t her fault. Sorry, Sweetie Belle,” said Scootaloo.

And that’s when the pain kicked in again.

“WARNING: UNIT SWEETIE BOT’S M.P.S. SUFFERING COMPATIBILITY REJECTION. RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE DEACTIVATION OF COMPUTATION SYSTEMS,” announced Sweetie Belle.

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom sighed.

“Ah well, we weren’t making any progress anyway. Shut it down, Sweetie,” said Scootaloo.

A quick flick of the mental switch, and Sweetie Belle was back to normal.

“Ugh… huh. Hey, the headache isn't as bad this time,” she noted.

“And I think you lasted longer too. Maybe it was just the night vision that made it hurt sooner last time,” said Scootaloo as she got up and stretched.

“Well, either way, Ah think we’re done here. Got a lot to do today, so Ah’ll see y’all this afternoon,” said Apple Bloom as she filed away their notes.

“Yeah. Have a good day you two,” said Sweetie Belle as she watched her friends head out for their Monday chores.

I hope the smaller headaches is a good sign, not a bad one, thought Sweetie Belle.


Sweetie Belle sighed as she laid on her bed.

“Why is it always so difficult? I want to know more about myself, but every time we try I just want to stop and run away. Am I really that scared of what I might learn?” she mumbled to herself.

Sweetie Belle rolled over, once again turning toward the mirror, before shaking her head.

“Come on, Sweetie Belle. You promised that you wouldn’t get caught up on your reflection again. Seeing more of your metal body isn’t going to give you any answers,” she chided.

She turned back towards the ceiling.

“Remember what Pinkie said. The only way I’m going to feel better is if I can look at my situation and smile about it. Look on the bright side, and all that stuff. I mean, if I don’t have built in lasers, that means I can’t be some kind of alien weapon, right?” she asked herself.

You don’t have to be a weapon to be dangerous. Just look at your cooking skills, said a small part of her mind.

Oh, shut up me, thought Sweetie Belle as she forced herself upright.

“Well, whatever. It’s Monday, and it’s a nice and sunny outside. I’m going reading,” she declared.


Sweetie Belle hummed a happy tune as she made her way toward her favorite reading tree. She’d just stopped by the library for a new book, and was eager to see what the big fuss about this popular series was.

“The title doesn't tell me much. Is it a story about who can go the longest without food or…” Sweetie Belle’s stopped in her tracks as she noticed a very unwelcome sight.

Murphy Law was once again under her tree.

“Nope. I’m not putting up with him again. Crashing through a building once was one time too many. I’ll just find somewhere else to read,” decided Sweetie Belle.

“A very wise decision,” came a calm voice.

Sweetie Belle turned to see Octavia sanding nearby, with a rather sour expression on her face.

“Oh, hello Octavia. Uh… you’re not still upset about the wall, are you?” Sweetie Belle asked nervously.

Octavia blinked in surprise.

“No, it’s not you. Sorry, I’ve just been stewing over something for a while now. I suppose my expression must have seemed quite hostile,” she said with a shake of her head.

Sweetie Belle let out a sigh of relief.

“Well, that’s good. No, wait, that’s bad. Uh… I mean, good luck with whatever’s troubling you?” said Sweetie Belle hesitantly.

Octavia gave a soft giggle.

“Oh, I understand. And thank you,” she said as she turned to leave, but then turned back towards Sweetie Belle.

“Although, now that I think about it, perhaps you can help us. We did invite you to visit us whenever you needed, so would you be willing to join us for a cup of tea? I suspect sharing my roommate and I’s woes might help clear our heads,” suggested Octavia.

“Really? I mean, I’m just a filly. What can I do to help?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“I’m just hoping to let it off my chest. I think you’re more than capable of helping me with that,” reassured Octavia.

Sweetie Belle thought for a moment. On the one hoof, this sounded like something personal that she shouldn’t get involved in, even if Octavia was asking. But on the other, it wasn’t like she had anything better to do. And Rarity had always told her it was rude to turn down an invitation without a good reason.

“Um… alright. I’m still not sure how I can help, but I might as well,” she decided.

It was bound to be more pleasant than finding another reading spot at least.


“Financial issues? But you’re two of the most famous musicians in Equestria! How can you be having money problems?” asked Sweetie Belle.

Octavia sighed and sipped her tea, a faint blush on her face. Vinyl Scratch just smirked and gulped down her coffee. The three of them were sitting in the living room, with the hole in the wall fully repaired, though the paint was still drying.

“Well, yes, we do both bear some renown. But simply being popular doesn’t pay the bills. Especially after some recent… disagreements with our agents,” explained Octavia.

“Which is a fancy way of saying that we’re being ripped off. Really, taking eighty-five percent of our hard earned cash wasn’t enough for those creeps? I’d fire all of them if I didn’t know jack about how to get gigs,” grumbled Vinyl.

“I also lack a proper business sense, so we had no choice but to meet their demands. We’ve filed complaints, thought neither of us expect much to come from it. As it stands, we’re not it dire straits just yet, but, well...” Octavia trailed away.

“But we’re one big accident away from falling into a hole we’d never get out of. My ma didn't raise no fool. She taught me to do everything I can to keep the debt collectors off my back, and the best way to do it, legally at least, is make sure they never have a reason to visit you in the first place,” said Vinyl.

“I see…” said Sweetie Belle as she reluctantly sipped her tea. It wasn’t a bad blend, but it was a tad peppery for her tastes.

“So, in order to eliminate the figurative weight above our heads, we've been trying to develop some new musical accord that we could sell on our own. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been going very well,” admitted Octavia.

“Yeah. Octi sucks at mixing her own songs, and dubstep records don’t sell very well. Not that I blame ‘em. Part of what makes my music so awesome can’t be captured on a disk,” said Vinyl with a shrug.

Octavia growled but didn’t object.

“The problem is that if we’re going to make our own record, we’re going to have to come up with something new. Something that’s never been done before. Something that’ll blow away everypony who hears it. Too bad neither of us are skilled creative thinkers,” said Vinyl.

“It doesn’t help that we’ve had to take turns so that we don’t trip on each other’s hooves, which has been slowing us down considerably,” added Octavia.

Sweetie Belle raised an eyebrow.

“Why’s that?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Our music is simply incompatible, and neither of us wish to disturb the neighbors by playing outside,” explained Octavia.

“Yeah. Old music and wubs just don't go together,” said Vinyl.

Sweetie Belle sighed.

Yeah, that’s true. I’m still not sure how these two ever became roommates. Nopony’s ever put classical and dubstep together, and…

Sweetie Belle’s train of thought stopped as an idea popped into her head.

Nopony’s ever put them together. So that means it’d be something new. But would it be something good? Can they go together in a way that works? Hm… well, I guess it can’t hurt to try, she thought.

“Really? How do you know they don’t go together?” she asked.

Octavia and Vinyl shared an awkward look.

“Well, as much as I respect Vinyl’s abilities as a musician, I must admit I find her taste in music to be… rather undignified. And she had made no effort to hide how dreary she finds mine,” said Octavia.

“But that's just your tastes in music. Have you ever tried to putting them together? I mean, you’re both really good musicians. Surely you can work something out?” suggested Sweetie Belle.

Octavia and Vinyl looked at each other again.

“Well, I suppose technically there’s no reason why not. I mean, I myself am not very fond of tubas, but I can tolerate them when they’re part of an orchestra. This could prove to be similar,” she admitted.

“And I have mixed on disks full of awf… I mean, slow music before. And it would be kind of sweet to make music with my favorite roommate,” said Vinyl.

“I’m your only roommate, Vinyl. Though to be honest, I can’t imagine it turning out as anything other than incredibly painful, disharmonious noise,” said Octavia.

“Hey, when you break it down, music is all just noise. Noise that ponies want to listen to. And it can’t hurt to try, right? At worst we just have to put up with a bit of noise that neither of us like. I mean, we deal with each other’s music all the time, so it’s not like it’d be anything new,” said Vinyl.

Octavia raised an eyebrow.

“Since when were you so philosophical?” she asked.

“Since never. I just stole that quote from a magazine,” admitted Vinyl with a shrug.

Octavia sighed. Sweetie Belle giggled.

“Very well, I suppose we might as well give it a try,” Octavia said reluctantly as she stood up.

“Alright. I’m the better mixer, so you pick a song, and I’ll see what I can spin into it,” said Vinyl as she walked over to her station.

Sweetie Belle remained seated. She was curious as to whether her idea would work.

A moment later, Octavia had her cello out, and Vinyl had her wubs ready to go. Vinyl looked a little confident, though still a bit apprehensive. Octavia looked like she was already regretting her decision.

“Alright then. I suppose we’ll use a simple piece,” said Octavia as she began to play.

Vinyl listened for a bit, trying to a feel for the melody, and trying to keep her disgust off her face. Then she started adding some simple mixes. There was some awkwardness as their notes tripped up a bit, but after only a few chords they began to sync up.

And the music that resulted was, in a word, epic. It was energetic yet eloquent. It was peppy yet powerful. And it all came together in a way that sounded smooth and beautiful.

Well, for the most part. There were quite a few sour notes, but it was the first time they were playing together so it was to be expected. It was clear they’d need a fair amount of practice before they’d play something like this in public, but it was still fairly pleasant to listen to.

When the song finished, Octavia and Vinyl look at each other with newly found respect and affection. Sweetie Belle found herself applauding.

“That was amazing!” she declared.

“It was… certainly something. Is your music alway so… energetic, Vinyl?” asked Octavia.

“Hay yeah. And that had to be one of the smoothest beats I’ve ever dropped. You know, the classic stuff isn’t that bad once you spin it right. Want to do another?” Vinyl asked.

“Certainly. This is rather exciting, actually. We might very well be making music history today. The first time our music has ever been…” said Octavia.

“Less jaw flapping, more stick thingy on the strings, please,” chided Vinyl.

Octavia sighed.

“It’s called a bow, Vinyl. We’ve had this discussion before,” she groaned, but she started playing another song all the same.


After playing several songs together, the two musicians really started to come together. It was clear that they'd found the inspiration they’d been looking for. Sweetie Belle felt a small amount of pride in knowing it was her idea that had created this amazing new form of music. Just a little pride.

It was especially impressive since Sweetie Belle honestly found both classical and dubstep to be a bit boring. Not that she hated them, she just preferred jazz or pop when she had the choice. But there was something about the music being playing in front of her that really clicked with her.

But then she noticed something odd. It sounded like somepony was singing along with the melody. It wasn’t words, just simple ah’s, but it was there, and it was complementing the music in a pleasant manner. It wasn’t until the musicians paused and turned toward her that she realized that she was the one singing. She quickly stopped.

“Oh, uh, sorry. I guess I just lost myself in the music,” she admitted with a blush.

“Hey, don’t apologize. It sounded great. You’ve got quite a set of lungs on you. Hm… I know, how about you join us? Make it a three-pony gig? It was your idea, after all. I think you deserve to be a part of this,” suggested Vinyl.

Sweetie Belle froze up.

“Oh, don’t tease the poor dear, Vinyl. I think she’s a little young to be making her own albums. However, I agree that she is quite talented. Perhaps in a few years you’ll be willing to join us?” added Octavia.

They heard my singing? And they like it? And now they want to hear more of me? Me? Part of a band? Making music that could be listened to to ponies everywhere in Equestria?! Sweetie Belle thought through her rising panic.

“Oh, no. No, no no. I… I’m not that good a singer! I’d just drag you two down,” she stuttered.

Vinyl Scratch raised her glasses to show her raised eyebrow.

“Really? I mean, yeah, you don’t have a lot of experience, but neither did I when I got into dubstep. It takes a crap-load of practice to get this good. It was just dumb luck that I got to try one of those fancy new music making machines and get my cutie mark for it. Getting enough bits to buy my own set took years…” said Vinyl.

Octavia shook her head.

“I think you’ve rather missed the real issue, Vinyl. I understand, Sweetie Belle. It can be terrifying to let your music be heard by others, and not everypony will be pleased with it. But music is meant to be heard. Even if you don't feel ready for the stage, you can’t let your fear keep you from letting out your songs,” reassured Octavia.

Sweetie Belle sighed and tried to calm herself down.

“Yeah, Rarity’s been telling me the same thing for ages. But I still don’t want to. My singing really isn’t that good. And really, by the time I’m old enough to think about this sort of thing you two will probably have moved to Canterlot to be part of some new music movement. So thank you for the offer, but no thanks,” she declared.

Octavia and Vinyl Scratch shared a knowing smile.

“Alright then. How about taking music lessons with us instead?” offered Octavia.

“Wait, what?” asked Sweetie Belle in surprise.

“You have such a lovely singing voice. It’d be a shame to simply let it go to waste. I’m certain I can spare a little time every week giving you some basic tutelage. And really, we do owe you a fair bit for inspiring us. I think a few free sessions would be the least we could do,” said Octavia.

Sweetie Belle put a hoof to mouth to think. It honestly wasn’t a very difficult decision.

Free music lessons with one of the greatest cellists in generations? This could be the opportunity of a lifetime! And it’d give me something to look forward to on Mondays, too, she thought.

Sweetie Belle opened her mouth to speak.

CRUNCH!

At the moment, the ceiling collapsed.

Sweetie Belle coughed as the room quickly filled with dust. Far more alarming, however, was that a sharp pain shot up her leg. Ironically, it was the same leg that had been hurt the last time the house had been damaged.

“Ow!” she cried out in pain.

“Sweetie Belle! Are you alright?!” exclaimed Octavia.

“Why the buck does this keep happen to us?!” cried Vinyl.

As the dust started to settle, Sweetie Belle turned towards the leg that was in pain, and was horrified to see that it was being crushed under a large chunk of roof.

“My… my leg!” she cried.

Vinyl and Octavia quickly dashed over.

“Oh no… Hold on, I got this,” said Vinyl as she quickly lit up her horn.

With a grunt of effort, Vinyl levitated the chunk off Sweetie Belle’s leg. The sight underneath was horrifying. A large section of her skin-like shell had been torn off, and the inside was badly damaged. The metal was dented in several places, joints and chips looked bent or broken, and more than a few wires had been torn right out of her leg.

“Oh dear,” mumbled Octavia.

“Ah geez, this looks bad. I don’t think the old duct tape trick’s gonna work this time. Hay, I don’t think it’s even fixable. I mean, just look at how twisted the metal is. You might have to get a replacement, Sweetie Belle,” deducted Vinyl.

Sweetie Belle started hyperventilating.

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no! How in Equestria am I supposed to find a replacement robot leg?! There’s no Robot-Parts R Us stores in Ponyville! Or anywhere else! What do I do, what do I do, what do I... She thought.

SEVERE DAMAGE DETECTED. INITIALIZING ADVANCED AUTO-REPAIR.

“Wait, what?!” thought Sweetie Belle as her panic came to a screeching halt.

This has hardly the first voice Sweetie Belle had heard in her head, but this one sounded distinctly machine-like. It also sounded all too familiar.

Suddenly, her broken leg started getting really hot.

“What the…” mumbled Vinyl.

As everypony watched, Sweetie Belle’s leg started to fix itself. The metal started snapping and bending back into position. The wires seemingly grew longer and reconnected. Even the outer shell started to repair itself, not just covering the ongoing repairs but also regrowing hair. After about two minutes the leg was fully repaired, as if nothing had happened.

Sweetie Belle lifted her leg and moved it around. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it.

“Whoa…” whispered Vinyl.

ADVANCED AUTO-REPAIR COMPLETE. PLEASE REMEMBER TO REPLENISH MATERIAL RESERVES, AS ADVANCED AUTO-REPAIR REQUIRES A LARGE AMOUNT OF RESOURCES TO PERFORM.

There’s that weird voice again. It sounds a lot like Sweetie Bot. Is there some kind of robot mind in my head, or was that some kind of automatic message thing? And what did it mean by material reserves? Thought Sweetie Belle.

“OK, I’ve heard rumors about some really fancy stuff, but I’ve never heard anything about a prosthetic that can fix itself! What kind of tech are you packing here?” asked Vinyl excitedly.

Sweetie Belle sighed.

No point in hiding it now. And really, since Vinyl volunteered to repair me this was bound to happen sooner or later. Although, now that I think about it, if I have some kind of self-repair then maybe this could have actually been avoided? Thought Sweetie Belle.

She shook head.

This isn’t the time to be thinking about that, she thought.

“It’s a bit of a long story, but I guess you two should know,” said Sweetie Belle.

“Yes, but perhaps we should do something about the giant hole in our roof first. Why did it collapse in the first place?” asked Octavia.

“...and you're going to pay for it!” came a voice from the sky.

The three of them looked up to see a delivery chariot flying over them. One of the pegasi carrying it was arguing with Murphy Law. Sweetie Belle glanced around and noticed that a piano was lying broken on the floor.

“I didn’t even touch it! How is this my responsibility?!” yelled Murphy Law.

“Oh, and you just flew right towards us because you felt like saying hi?! This is definitely your fault, you sad excuse of a lawyer!” yelled the pegasus stallion.

Octavia sighed, while Vinyl Scratch facehooved.

“Of course it’s him again,” groaned Vinyl.

“Indeed. At least we can write the damages off again. Though perhaps we should leave and have our discussion elsewhere? I fear their argument may soon escalate to language Sweetie Belle shouldn’t hear,” suggested Octavia.

At that moment, there was a loud growling noise that made all three of them jump. It wasn’t until the hunger pangs began that Sweetie Belle realize it had come from her stomach.


“Wow. Twelve sandwiches and still going. I’d say you should have exploded by now, but then again I just learned you’re a robot, so what do I know,” commented Vinyl Scratch.

They were at the library. Sweetie Belle had figured Twilight would be helpful for explaining things, and it would be more private that seeing Pinkie Pie at Sugarcube Corner. Not that she hadn’t seriously considered talking to Pinkie. Whatever her body had done to fix itself, it had left her ravenous.

It was a good thing Pinkie had a Pinkie Sense for “somepony is really, really, really hungry,” and had meet them at the library with a large plate of daffodil sandwiches before dashing off to who-knew-where.

“I don’t get it. Not the self-fixing robot part, I read that in a comic book. I mean, why would fixing herself make her so hungry?” asked Spike.

“Ah feahd… *gulp*... I heard a voice say something about ‘material reserves.’ I think the repairs used up whatever material I had, and need to fill it back up,” said Sweetie Belle as she bit into another sandwich.

“With sandwiches?” asked Spike with a raised eyebrow.

“Well, matter transfiguration is possible. Maybe her magic simply uses whatever it can to make what it needs?” theorized Twilight.

“This just keeps on getting more confusing,” admitted Octavia with a shake of her head.

“You mean more awesome! We have an actual robot in town! Are you sure you can’t shoot lasers? It’d be perfect for my show,” said Vinyl.

Sweetie Belle rolled her eyes but didn't comment. She was too busy stuffing her face.

When Sweetie Belle finished sandwich number eighteen, the hunger started to abate. At twenty-one, her stomach finally stopped demanding food. It didn’t start settling down, though.

“Ugh. I think I ate half my weight in sandwiches,” moaned Sweetie Belle as she laid on the floor, sporting quite the noticeable food baby.

“I’ll say. I think you beat my record,” noted Vinyl.

“You do seem to be digesting it rather quickly, though,” noted Twilight as Sweetie’s stomach slowly flattened before their eyes.

“Well, at least now we don’t have to worry about you breaking anything. Binge eating like that has to be less painful than a broken leg, right?” added Spike.

“Less painful maybe. I don’t know about more convenient. I just hope this completely vanishes before Rarity sees me, or I’m going to be in huge trouble,” said Sweetie Belle.

“Don’t worry, I’ll have a word with her first if it comes to that. At any rate, what will you two do now? I don’t think I need to tell you that we’d appreciate it if you’d be willing to keep this a secret,” said Twilight as she turned toward the musicians.

“Oh, certainly. I believe it to be quite reasonable to want to keep something so profound hidden. We shall make every effort to assist you as best we can. Right, Vinyl?” asked Octavia.

“I guess. I still don’t think this is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen, but if you want to keep a secret, then fine,” Vinyl admitted with a shrug.

“I think this weird even by Ponyville standards. What could possibly be crazier than this?” asked Spike.

“Well, there was that one colt back in magic kindergarten who…” Vinyl trailed off when she noticed the look Octavia was giving her.

“Who I promised my roommate I wouldn’t talk about anymore after the story made her throw up. Right, sorry,” admitted Vinyl as she scratched the back of her head.

Sweetie Belle grumbled under her breath. This day had proven to be pretty unpleasant so far, and it was starting to get on her nerves.

“Well, at least there’s somepony out there who has it worse than me. That makes me feel so much better,” said Sweetie Belle with a sarcastic tone.

Octavia raised an eyebrow.

“Now what sort of attitude is that? You’ve never struck me as one to brood, Sweetie Belle,” asked Octavia.

Sweetie Belle sighed.

“I’m not, really. I’m still coming to terms with all this, and the fact that there’s so much I don’t know. It’s all so scary, and there’s just something about all of it that just makes me feel terrible,” admitted Sweetie Belle.

“It’s not your fault you’re a robot, Sweetie Belle,” reminded Twilight.

“I know, but it doesn’t seem that way. I don’t how to explain it but, it feels like… like the whole world is watching me, and it’s just waiting for an excuse to tear me apart,” confessed Sweetie Belle.

Octavia blinked, then sighed.

“That is a feeling I’m all too familiar with,” she admitted.

Sweetie Belle turned toward Octavia in surprise.

“Uh, Octi? I thought you said you never wanted to bring that up again,” said Vinyl.

“I don’t want to bring it up, but I think Sweetie Belle would benefit to hear it. As you’ve probably heard, I am a member of a noble family. A unicorn noble family at that, and one that took excessive pride in their heritage. My parents were significantly less than pleased when I born, as I was living proof that their ancestry wasn’t as ‘pure’ as they claimed,” explained Octavia.

“Wait, I think I read about that in a newspaper once. You’re the earth pony of the noble family that was involved in that terrible scandal a few decades ago, aren't you?” asked Twilight.

Octavia gave a hesitant nod.

“That was a messy affair all around. I’m glad to see you came out of it alright. I still can’t believe there was a family clinging to such horrible traditions only a generation ago,” said Twilight with a shake of her head.

“Traditions?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Er… let’s just say her family was involved in something bad, and leave it at that,” said Twilight with a cough.

“Indeed. I’ve since been all but disowned, though I managed to find myself under the care of foster parents. While my life at home was pleasant, my family’s name haunted me every time I stepped outside my door. I’ve long since risen above the stigma, but there was a time when it seemed that the world had already judged me, and decided I deserved to be ridiculed,” said Octavia.

Sweetie Belle thought about what she’d just heard. It really put her own problems into a new perspective. At least she had the benefit of only ponies she trusted knowing her secret.

Vinyl Scratch cleared her throat.

“Alright, if you’re spilling your guts out, Octi, I’ll do the same. You guys ever wonder why I wear these glasses all the time, even indoors? It’s not because they’re stylish (even though they are), it’s because I have photophobia,” said Vinyl.

“Photophobia? Wait… you’re afraid of sunlight?” asked a confused Sweetie Belle.

“Nah, that’s heliophobia. Photophobia means my eyes are extremely sensitive to light. Luckily, mine is kind of a mild case. I can look around in sunlight without my eyes burning up, but if I soak up too much, I go color blind. You can even see it happening because it makes my eyes turn red,” explained Vinyl.

“Ah ha! I knew it wasn’t just a trick of the light,” said Spike with a fist pump.

“Yeah. It earned me my nickname back at music school. Between my coat, my eyes, and my sleeping habits I really did seem like a vampire. Now, I thought it was a pretty cool nickname, but it also got me teased a lot. ‘What are you doing up this early?’ ‘Where’s your coffin?’ ‘That juice box is full of blood, isn’t it?’ And I never figured out who keep slipping garlic into my locker,” said Vinyl.

“I thought you love garlic,” noted Octavia.

“Not when I was a kid. Look, the point we’re trying to make here is that lots of ponies have to put up with being different. So what if you’re a robot? At least your eyes work fine and you don’t have family problems. And you have the benefit of nopony knowing what makes you different who would bully you for it. So don’t you be getting all sappy on us. There’s more to life than your own personal problems, you know,” said Vinyl.

Sweetie Belle just turned toward the ceiling. She felt a little ashamed to have been lying on the ground complaining.

And really, both of my friends have their own problems, but they’re dealing with them just fine. Even if I’m the only one without answers, is that really a good reason to stew about it like this? Sweetie Belle asked herself.

“Well, I believe we’ve made our point clear. Come along, Vinyl. We’d best get to town hall and fill out the paperwork for our roof before Murphy Law starts making excuses. Have a pleasant afternoon, everypony,” said Octavia with a courteous bow.

“Yeah, we’ll catch you guys later. By the way, that offer for music lessons is still on the table, Sweetie Belle. Feel free to stop by next week if you're interested,” said Vinyl as the two of them turned and headed out the door.

“Well, that makes another two ponies in the know, even if it’s just for Sweetie Belle. You know, if it wasn’t for the whole AAT thing, I’d say we should just come clean. At this rate, half the town will know before Nightmare Night,” commented Spike.

“Maybe, but hopefully by then we’ll have a better understand of the situation. Do you need anything else, Sweetie Belle?” asked Twilight.

“No. Right now I just need some time to think,” said Sweetie Belle with a sigh.


Sweetie Belle, once again, found herself staring at her reflection. She was managing to keep the dark thoughts away, but only barely.

“So, Sweetie Bot, you have a voice now? And you’re doing things to my body that I have no idea how to do myself? Does this mean I have a second mind growing in my head, or are you just some kind of built-in thing that comes with being a robot?” she asked.

If there was a second consciousness, it stayed silent.

“Well, I guess I’ll just have to add it to the list of things I’m not sure about. The list that just keeps getting longer every time I learn something about you. I said I wouldn’t let you bring me down, but can’t you just give me some kind of hint? If you bothered activating that self-repair thing then you probably care about my well-being, so why not help with my anxiety while you’re at it?” asked Sweetie Belle.

Again, there was no response. Sweetie Belle sighed.

“Oh right, because that would be easy. Celestia forbid things be easy. The only way I’m going to get any answers is by picking at my robo-brain, which it extremely frustrating to do, and I can only do for so long before that stupid ‘compatibility rejection’ thing happens,” Sweetie Belle grumbled.

And then an idea occurred to her.

“Wait… did we ever ask Sweetie Bot what compatibility is being rejected?” she asked herself.

After thinking about it for a minute, she realized the answer was no.

The knowledge that she had something new to try filled Sweetie Belle with DETERMINATION.

“Huh. You know what, Sweetie Bot? I’m not going to give up. In fact, I’m going to press you for answers right here and now, all by myself. I’m the real pony here, you disembodied voice! You don’t scare me!” declared Sweetie Belle as she flicked the mental switch.

Once the world was all 1’s and 0’s, Sweetie Belle made the search for compatibility rejection. There were three answers, but it was clear which one she was looking for:

COMPATIBILITY REJECTION: A TERM USED TO DESCRIBE THE NATURAL DISSOCIATION OF CONNECTED M.P.S. AND A.P.P. SYSTEMS. THIS DISSOCIATION CAN RESULT IN A GREAT AMOUNT OF PAIN WHEN THE TWO SYSTEMS ARE FULLY INTEGRATED. THIS UNAVOIDABLE SIDE EFFECT CAN BE REDUCED IN INTENSITY WITH TIME AND REPEATED USE OF FULL INTEGRATION TO ENABLE THE SYSTEMS TO CONFORM TO EACH OTHER.

Full integration, huh? I guess that’s the proper term for going full robot. And I also guess M.P.S and A.P.P. are both some kind of system. But why would two systems that are designed to work together have natural compatibility issues? And if they’re not supposed to work together, why would they be integrated like this? thought Sweetie Belle.

With a shake of her head, Sweetie Belle turned Sweetie Bot off.

“OK, This could be important. I’d better write this down before I try anything else,” she mumbled to herself as she pulled out some paper and a quill.

One step at a time, Sweetie Belle. You’ll get your answers eventually, she reminded herself.

Author's Note:

Darn. There goes my one chapter a month streak... Oh wait, I did two and half chapters in December. Never mind.

By the way, this is pretty much my head-canon on how these two started playing music together by episode 100, so those comics about them hating each other's music can still be considered canon! Well, except Sweetie Belle probably wasn't involved.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!