• Published 20th Oct 2015
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Norrath, Earth, Equestria. A Construct's Journey - Nimnul



A strange construct, or fancy golem, is displaced to Equestria. But Landshark is no servant, no mere automaton. She claims to be a renegade Bellikos. What and Who is she, and why does she just want to settle down quietly now?

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Disappointment

It was late Saturday morning when Landshark knocked at the door to the Carousel Boutique without waiting for a reaction. The door turned out to be unlocked, so she entered. "Good morning, Rarity!"

The response came from the back of the establishment. "Good morning! Come in, your order is complete as promised."

Thus invited, Landshark entered Rarity's work area. "Wasn't a doubt in my mind, Rarity." She paused. "And apologies for being so specific. I'd rather not stifle your creativity, but I do not know a lot of tailors."

Rarity joined her and began using her magic to tidy up the room. "Think nothing of it." She gestured at what appeared to be an actual mannequin, likely crafted with the construct's measurements in mind. "As you can see, I am prepared to continue supplying you any garments you might request."

Landshark nodded and made sure to sound impressed. "I see you're dedicated." She stepped closer to the mannequin and started to inspect the coat it was wearing. "I don't suppose ..."

She was immediately interrupted by Rarity. "I won't hear of it, Landshark. You know I am successful enough to clothe you free of charge. There's no particular need to keep thanking me or offering money."

Landshark shook her head, admitting defeat once more. "I'm not too proud to accept free stuff if that is your choice, but I'll always make sure to thank you, Rarity. I once read that in time, gratitude turns to expectation and expectation to demand. Rare is the soul so noble it always extends thanks for that which is freely given." She sounded amused. "I'd rather not sink so low myself."

Rarity tut-tutted in vague disapproval. "I have learned lessons in that regard, but also that I simply shan't let a few ingrates spoil my generosity. Now please, try on your coat. I admit to being curious. It's a heavy garment for one who shouldn't need to worry about inclement weather."

This was true, Landshark knew. "I'll admit that. I don't really need clothes, but I suppose in the past, garments were always a sign of personhood. Somewhat important if you look like a machine or golem. I also really appreciate pockets." She removed the woolen greatcoat from the mannequin to put it on. "And at the risk of sounding manipulative, harmless eccentricities can make me more relatable."

It was a heavy grey garment, with a collar and cuffs that could be turned out to protect the wearer's hands and face from cold and rain. The pockets were deep and had large flaps to keep moisture out as well. It was double-breasted, sporting two rows of shiny brass buttons, a back belt and simple black collar patches.

"This is a soldier's greatcoat. I once bought one, old surplus stock. As you may have guessed, I'm indulging in nostalgia again. Additionally, the distinct appearance is sure to be helpful when acting as superior officer to Dinky and Ruby Pinch. And this version fits a lot better."

Rarity nodded and allowed herself a chuckle. "I'm sure the fillies will be impressed." Then she turned more serious again. "And I hope my craft offers you comfort in your exile here."

Landshark adjusted her beret while inspecting herself in a mirror. "Makes me look a little wider in the shoulders too, I guess. This is another excellent job." She turned around. "It may be starting to feel like home, slowly. If I don't dwell on the fact that the sun is directly controlled by your ruler." She made sure to state the last part with a degree of wry amusement.

Rarity was a sufficiently courteous pony to avoid rolling her eyes. Just because she didn't understand, didn't mean she had to make an issue of the construct's attitude. She raised an eyebrow, but smiled. "I'm sure you'll get used to it." She turned to the kitchen. "Would you like to stay for a cup of ..." She stopped herself, then lamely finished. "Stay to watch me drink tea?"

Landshark cocked her head while sticking her hands into her new coat's pockets. "Sure, I suppose. Anything you wanted to talk about?" She squatted down by the little table she had seen Rarity use when sharing tea with ponies.

Rarity talked loudly as she prepared tea in the kitchen. "Nothing crucial, my dear. But I must say, my sister was quite upset to have missed out on the little demonstration you shared with Scootaloo last weekend."

"Ah." Landshark decided to sound embarrassed. "Well, I am sorry for upsetting her, but I think it may have been for the best. Outnumbered as she was, Scootaloo seemed to recognize that these things have to be done with care. I think that the Crusaders undivided might have been rather too energetic for me to be comfortable introducing them to thermite welding." She shook her head before stopping herself since Rarity wasn't back in the room yet. "Although I suppose now they wouldn't go around trying to become railroad track-layers."

"I'm glad to hear that line of reasoning from you. One hopes the Crusaders will settle down now that the long chase is over for them. Although perhaps I am having an especially optimistic day." Rarity returned from the kitchen with her tea and settled down at the table. "Are you sure you're comfortable? Ah, never mind, of course."

Landshark twitched her jaw to indicate her amusement. There wasn't any limit to how long she could hold the position, although it probably looked strange to a quadruped anyway. "It's endearing when you forget I'm not like you. Don't change on my account." She gestured vaguely with one hand as she continued. "As for the Crusaders, well, I only really collectively know them by reputation. I suppose they fancy themselves experts on cutie marks now, so I guess they won't be a problem for me, and they get along well enough with Dinky and Pinchy, I think." She ended with a shrug. She had briefly met all three of Crusaders at various times, but everything seemed to indicate that encountering them all at once would be an entirely different experience.

"They're good fillies, they've just been rather rambunctious." The mare usually prone to declare things to be the worst possible occasionally showed a flash of genius for understatements. Rarity sipped her tea. "How are things at your smithy?"

"Pretty well, I'd say. I'm going to have to start looking into dealing with the metalworker's guild or whatever you have in place in this country." She sounded unsure of herself. She had only picked up her craft because her leaders had ordered it. She had little experience with the way people did it in this nation. Or anywhere, really. "I'll at minimum need to be recognized as good enough to teach people or my employees are going to be the worse for it if they want what they're learning recognized, right? I suppose having a certificate in a frame for the front office wouldn't be too bad." She shrugged, again. "People behind desks are all the same. I expect it to take a while and be really exasperating."

"Hmm." Rarity drank more tea and nodded with an almost sadistic grin. "If you ever plan to shoe a pony, you should have proof that you know what you're doing. But I can see it now. Every time your case changes hooves, the next lackey sends you a letter asking you to please supply a picture or description of your cutie mark to complete your personal information before they can proceed. Every time you send a letter back explaining that you have no cutie mark. Exasperating may yet turn out to be an understatement. Displaying work that meets their standards will probably be the easy part for you, even without a cutie mark talent."

Landshark covered her face with her hands and emitted the sounds of soft weeping for several seconds before turning them into a chuckle and lowering her hands again. "You're cruel. I didn't think my expectations could be lowered. You've done it." She sighed. "I'm told there's some friction in all government machinery. Perhaps it'll wear smooth in time, perhaps it won't. I'm patient."

Before that line of conversation could be explored any further, Twilight Sparkle rather rudely burst into the boutique. Rarity supposed that at least Twilight had used the door after that time she had teleported into the middle of the room as the fashionista had been, as usual, floating about a multitude of tools of her trade, some sharper and pointier than others. It had been an ultimately harmless but poignant reminder to know what was going on in the teleport target area.

"Landshark! I've been looking for you!" The Princess looked eager and excited.

Rarity narrowed her eyes, but ultimately judged that she was looking at 'desperately eager to learn' excitement, not the sort of frazzled Twilight that might lead to real trouble. "And a good morning to you as well, Twilight."

Landshark merely nodded a greeting. "Twilight." There wasn't any point in asking what she wanted, and Twilight was already talking again. She stood up to her full height, however. Ponies might have the mass advantage, but at least the construct could be taller. Taller than a Princess!

"Yes yes, good morning." Twilight waved a hoof distractedly. One might think she was shooing away a buzzing fly. "Ditzy and Dinky were checking out books this morning and Dinky told me about your demonstration. Did you finally decide to share some more from your world?" Beyond explaining that her weapons were very outdated, the construct had generally avoided talking too much about the type of science humans had available. "You've got to share it with me, too! I really appreciate the implications of possibly alien science! I'm at least as responsible as a school filly." She almost sounded offended at the end.

Moments like these sometimes made Landshark wish she had a little more to work with in terms of facial expressions. "And when you heard it, you immediately got that far away look in your eye, maybe talked to yourself a whole lot about how interesting that might be, and started running about looking for me?"

Twilight nodded eagerly, eyes fixed on Landshark. The construct wasn't sure when the princess had last blinked.

Landshark crossed her arms and shifted her weight a little. "Well, maybe you don't listen quite as well as a school filly, Twilight." The construct chuckled as Twilight started looking a little unsure. "I'm sure Dinky could have told you that I taught them about black powder fireworks and thermite welding. You know, a process to weld together large pieces of steel, like rail tracks." She drove the point home. "With information from books written in your world."

Twilight's mouth worked silently for a moment before she blurted out, "But that's so ordinary!"

There was a flash of light that startled them both as Rarity tittered, holding a camera. Landshark shared in Twilight's new source of confusion. "Thank you, dear. I hope I caught that precise moment where Twilight went from vague confusion to crushing disappointment." She stowed the camera away again. "It was a spur of the moment idea, but I thought it might make a fine gift for Landshark." She smiled triumphantly. "I did listen to Sweetie when she relayed what Scootaloo had learned."

Landshark laughed while Twilight sputtered in indignation. "I guess being the Element of Generosity really inspires the most thoughtful ideas for gifts. I'll be sure to have it framed for the office."

Twilight facehooved. "You're both impossible! This-this is a bait and switch!" She glowered accusingly. "Why do you even have a camera here?"

"Yeah, one pulled on you by your own brain." Landshark snapped her jaws. "How much do you really think I learned about human science and industry? I know a lot about the sort of weapons a human might carry, because it was relevant to the job and I am rather fond of guns. Same for some other equipment. But I'm fond of trains as well because they didn't have those were I was made, and I couldn't really tell you how a steam engine is built."

Her tone softened. "Believe me, I absolutely understand being fascinated with all the things that are possible without magic. I am, as well. I guess I just wasn't academic enough to do more than marvel at much of it." She concluded with real fondness in her voice. "That's why I was teaching those things in the first place. To share that fascination with the fillies. Maybe the examples are ordinary to you, but they're still young. There's still cool stuff for them to learn from your own world."

Rarity smiled winningly. "It's completely understandable, isn't it? I know very little about advanced magical theory or even the precise workings of some things we take for granted. It's simply not relevant to my work. As to the camera, why, sometimes taking pictures of my work is quite necessary. It's also a pleasant way to remember past works when they're worn by smiling ponies."

Twilight did look a little sheepish. "You're right, of course. I did get a little excited and jumped to conclusions. In my defense, Dinky said it was classified!"

"She's a credit to the team, then. You are a princess, after all." The construct turned to the door. "It seemed wisest to make sure that they wouldn't go around telling just anyone how to mix up thermite. Now, if there's nothing else? Thank you for the conversation, Rarity. You two have a good day."

"Enjoy your weekend, Landshark. It was a pleasure, as always." Rarity smiled as she turned to Twilight. "Would you care for some tea?"

"Well, I suppose princess business will keep a little longer, since I'm already here." Twilight returned the smile, but continued. "But I needed to talk to Landshark about something else. Shark! Wait!"

The construct hadn't quite managed to leave yet and stopped at the door as the alicorn caught up. "Yes?"

"I just wanted to apologize for not getting back to you sooner on the steel question." Twilight looked uncomfortable. "I was a little swamped and couldn't devote a lot of time. I summed up what I could find with instructions that a laypony can understand, but there's experiments to be done to figure out at which point it's best to add the magical charge. When the steel is made, or when you forge it into something, or just at any time. I figured you'd rather have a friend try it at your place." She paused and chewed on her lip. "What little I found doesn't date back that far. I think in the past, most unicorns wouldn't have been fans of enchanting steel in a way that would let an earth pony or pegasus crafter shape the magic in the end. Better to just cast a spell on a finished product."

The construct nodded. "I see. I guess that makes sense, in a way. The privileged have to stay in control of their power, huh? So these instructions are where?" It was nice to know that the princess did not want to make her uncomfortable in her own workplace, as well.

Twilight seemed a bit nervous and looked away. "Sent via the postal service. I wasn't sure you'd want a royal messenger or me personally to drop by. I'm sure it'll arrive just fine!"

Landshark generated a quick snort. "Heh. I probably trust the mail more than you. Thanks, Twilight." She turned to the door again. "You ever need some work done, I'll offer reasonable rates. I'm not going to fly off the handle if just one of your lot swings by my place."

Twilight waved and returned to Rarity and the tea, mumbling to herself. "Trusts the mail more than I do, or trusts the mail more than she trusts me?"

"I'm sure I don't know, darling. Now, sit, have some tea. Enjoy your break from the castle."


"Absolutely not, Shark. I'm sorry." Berry Punch was adamant.

"We really can't even set aside some steel for Lyra and me to play around with now that the princess finally came through? Next month, maybe?" Landshark really hadn't had any reason not to trust Berry's book keeping. The news was still uncomfortable, however.

Berry rubbed her eyes with a sigh. "Look, you're lucky you don't eat, or drink, or see doctors. Your cost of living is really low, but you gotta watch your bits, Shark." She exhaled slowly, clearly uncomfortable. "I had a great time last weekend, really, I did, but you can't sneak those extra expenses past me. That pocket watch you got for Pinchy can't have been cheap either. It all adds up."

Landshark nodded, then tilted her head. "But we're keeping ahead of your wages and the loan payments?"

"Just so, Shark, just so. I'm telling you before things get too unstable." She paused. "We can talk about it a little more tonight with the others. Bon runs her own business too, after all."

"Sure, Berry. Sorry to bother you about work on a weekend. Looking forward to tonight." The construct lowered her head and indicated a tip of her hat, then turned to leave. "Going for a walk."

Maybe she had been too optimistic? Landshark supposed the signs had been there. Three workers, plus herself, was perhaps a little too much manpower for a town this size, and most of them spent more time practicing than actually making things to order, or performing repairs for customers. Thinking of it like that, they really didn't do a great deal of work that was sure to make profit.

She told herself that business just wasn't in her nature.

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