• Published 11th Jun 2016
  • 1,299 Views, 184 Comments

Equus Metamorphosis - boardgamebrony



2072 TX: A young human with a degenerative bone condition must prepare for a life-saving technological transformation into Rainbow Dash. His robotic partner Pinkie Pie, several other robot ponies and exosuited-humans guide him toward his new life...

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( 1 ) The Shell of Life - [1st Floor]

There were many things a person could expect to do by the age of eighteen, but searching a catalog for a new body is usually not one of them. The 2072 Technomancer Digital Catalog was Armin’s last choice for the next stage of his life, but thanks to his degenerative bone condition, he was left with little else. At the very least, he would be able to pick from one of over one hundred custom-made Meta-Frames to be installed over his existing hardware.

“Mom, I don’t…I don’t want to do this,” he said. “There have to be other options.”

“Sweetheart,” his mother said, “I understand your conflicted feelings. I really do.” The tea kettle whistled and she grasped the steaming hot side with a metal hand, placing it delicately on the heat-absorbing plate in front of Armin. “But we’ve been over this. We don’t have enough money for the full-body surgery. And even if we did, the success rate has yet to break 25 percent. I’m not going to invest in risky technology, especially when my son's life is at stake.”

Armin sighed and picked up the tablet again. He chose a drop-down menu from Technomancer’s website and saw the various subcategories including Superhero, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Pop Culture, and more. He eyed some under the living animations category, but quickly changed to a different set when his mother walked by.

“Armin,” she said and hugged him in his chair. “I think I know what you want. It’s okay to admit it. I mean, come on. Your partner is upstairs and you’d match her if you just chose what I knew you wanted already.”

“Mom, Pinkie and I are just friends,” Armin said. His face started to turn red. “She helps me get around. She’s not a girlfriend. She’s just a synthetic!”

“Armin!” His mom’s voice was reprimanding, “Don’t say that! You’ll hurt her feelings. And anyways, if she was just a friend, then why did you buy her all those upgrades during Valentine’s Day…?”

“Hearts and Hooves Day…”

“Hearts and Hooves Day, then…SEE? You even have a special horse name for it!”

“That’s what they call it on the show!” Armin said. “I’m going to college in like 3 months. I can’t…I can’t have a Meta-Frame that matches my part…friend. Or people will talk.”

“Why don’t you talk with her about it? You’re going to do that anyway, like you always do. Here,” she picked up the tablet and motioned for Armin to stand up. He leaned back and stared at his mom. “Let’s go talk to her together.”

“I can talk to Pinkie myself.” Armin picked up his crutches and moved over to the lift chair leading up to the second floor.

When he got to his room, a large pink pony was resting its humanoid body in a separate egg pod against the wall. Several posters of the Pinkie Pie character were placed on the wall behind the pod. Any observer could see that the humanoid body had taken some liberties with the design, stretching it out and making it significantly taller. She still had hooves instead of feet, but hands were a new addition. Her head structure was nearly identical to the cartoon character on the wall. And her tail fluff took off nearly half of the lower part of the pod, hiding most of her body. Her eyes were closed and she smiled serenely even in her sleep.

Armin looked at her with a sadness in his eyes. He didn’t want to wake her. He knew what she would say if he asked her about the Meta-Frame choices. Deep down, it’s what he wanted her to say. And she’d say it because she cared. Because she was built that way. He placed a hand on the pod absentmindedly, then pulled back too late when he remembered that any contact with the pod would wake her up. He always forgot when he was lost in thought.

Pinkie opened her big blue eyes and turned to face Armin. “Hi! Good morning!” The cover slid open and she smoothly moved into a sitting position. She yawned then held out her arms. Armin embraced her and felt the naturally warming synthetic skin bring a comfort to his heart like no other. “How are you today?”

“I’m…okay.”

“Come on…what’s bothering you?” She asked playfully. She held his hand in her own and clasped it gently.

Armin wanted to withhold the information from Pinkie, but it was nearly impossible. She always pressed for information in the gentlest ways. And Armin always relented. He pulled out the tablet he had been looking at and loaded up the Technomancer web page. “This.”

Pinkie took the tablet and stared at it. A variety of emotion played on her face. It didn’t have to. She could’ve done all of the calculations internally without any outward sign of understanding. But her creators knew what they were doing and made sure that her expressions were easy to read and very empathetic. She looked interested, then knowing, then serene again. She peered back at Armin with understanding eyes that melted him every time. “You know which one of these you want?” she asked.

Armin nodded slowly. “It has to be something I’m willing to live with for the rest of my life. Once that hardware is installed, it takes an incredible amount of money to change it. Insurance won’t pay for this a second time without a very good reason.”

“And you’ve been thinking about this for a while,” Pinkie said.

“Yes.” Armin kept his eyes averted. He didn’t want to see her right now. It was hard to think when she stared at him that way. She waited. “I know what I want," he said, "but I don’t want to be made fun of.”

“Which Meta-Frame are you gonna choose? Why would you be made fun of?”

“I think you know which one,” Armin said. He pressed the touchscreen and scrolled to the living animations tab. “It’s…It’s cel-shaded. Like one of your settings.”

Pinkie gasped, then held in her expression. Her eyes were bigger than the normal humans, and every emotion on her face was amplified because of it. Armin couldn’t help but smile at her. She turned to him “You want the Rainbow Dash Meta-Frame?”

“Well…I’d rather pick Twilight Sparkle but…they don’t have that style for this price range, so…Rainbow Dash was my second choice anyway…”

You mean we’re gonna be DashiePie together?

Armin turned pinker than Pinkie Pie. “Um…yeah.”

Pinkie embraced her human again, but her hold was gentle. She nuzzled him and he couldn’t help but nuzzle back. She pulled back and giggled. Armin looked nervous. “Hey…you don’t…you don’t think it’s weird that I mean…I’m a guy right, but I’m picking a girl Meta-Frame? This only comes in female. My voice will change too…I mean, If I want it to…”

“Do you want it too?”

“Yes. I gotta be Rainbow Dash all the way or not at all.”

“Then do it! Why worry? I just want you to be happy.”

“But…what if they make fun of me at college for being different?”

“Armin, let me tell you something: I’m going to be right there with you. The University of Texas at Austin is going to be a-mazing. They accept Pod Pals like most of the other colleges. I won’t leave your side. Ever. I’ll even help you take notes. You and I are gonna be an UNSTOPPABLE team!”

Armin looked down at the screen wistfully. The Rainbow Dash suit looked incredibly sleek. If he were to wear it and stand side-by-side with Pinkie, no one would be able to tell which of them was a Pod Pal and which was a human being. The Meta-Frame would guard him against any damage he might sustain from a fall or environmental hazards and the design would be the added bit of fun. Like roleplaying, but…permanently.

“Pinkie…”

“Yes, Armin?”

“You wouldn’t let me forget who I am, right? Even if I let you call me Rainbow Dash, you’d still remember to call me Armin when I needed to hear it, right?”

“Of course!” She hugged him again. “I’m not going to let you get lost in the suit. Maybe that’s something for someone else to worry about, but not you. I’ll be right here, by your side. You want me to call you Armin at least once a day? Fine. Got it. Easy!”

“I wish…I wish I didn’t have to do this. I wish my body wasn’t deteriorating like this. The bones will be pretty much useless in 2-3 years…”

“Hey, come here.” She held him in her arms as she spoke. “This suit is gonna help you. It’s going to save your life. Every day, those little nanobots are gonna go in and they’re gonna repair whatever bones they can. And they’ll add synthesized calcium wherever it’s needed, so over time, your bones won’t deteriorate at all!”

“But I won’t ever be able to take the suit off again…”

Even though she was an AI, Pinkie let the comment hang in the air for a moment. There was no doubt she had already come up with her answer the moment Armin stopped speaking. But sometimes she communicated in silence too. Finally, she spoke, and when she did, her words were calm, subdued and unmistakably compassionate. “I know it’s scary. I know it’s unfair. You were born with a condition that has changed your entire life. But now you’re taking that life back into your own hands. You’re not going to let this condition win.” She let her soft smile speak in the moments between sentences as Armin looked at her big blue eyes. “Think of it like being born again. For 18 years, you lived a life as Armin the Human. You went to school. You learned. You grew up. And now you’re at the entrance to a whole new way of living. In less than one month, you’re going to be Armin the Rainbow Dash. And you’ll see that this new life is going to be even more amazing than the old one!”

Armin smiled and Pinkie carried him to the bed where they both rested together. Armin fell asleep in her arms, as he always did. She stayed there in calm silence, saying nothing and thinking about everything.

--

The Technomancer offices were held in a vast complex in downtown Corpus Christi overlooking the sea wall. A center atrium building connected two twin spires of varying heights cutting into the skyline of the Texan city. People ascended the steps into a large gold and black interior etched in mirrors at all angles. Gleaming elevators welcomed visitors who were just beginning their journey into the Technomancer corporation's home offices.

Pinkie and Armin walked into the entrance and stared at their reflections. Armin thought about how this would be one of the last times he saw his human face.

“Which floor is it?” Armin asked. The touchscreen directory was unnecessarily complicated.

“37th,” Pinkie said. “Hey, you think we’ll see other Pod Pals here?”

“Yeah, but I doubt they’ll be ponies. The odds of that are incredibly unlikely.”

“I’m hoping to see a…DOCTOR!”

“Who?” Armin asked.

Around the corner walked two humans, or at least, they certainly looked that way. An older woman held the hand of a distinguished looking gentlemen in a black coat with a red silk-lined interior. His hair was gray and his face, though worn by years of experience, was kind with an edge of snarkiness to it. He walked with purpose and stopped when he say the pony. “Pinkie!” he yelled with his arms held out wide. She moved to hug him and he held out a hand quickly. “Ah, wait. I’m not a hugger. I don’t do the hug thing.”

“Oh of course you do silly! You’re just programmed to say that!” She embraced the man Pod Pal and his suppressed smile was obvious. “I never thought I’d see you here!”

“Well, one never thinks they’ll see a Time Lord walk into their life, and yet here I am.”

Armin looked over at the older woman. “I’m sorry ma’am. I’m Armin.”

“And I’m Clara,” she said with a smile. “Nice to meet you.”

“That’s her nickname anyway,” The Doctor said. “She’s my companion. Or I’m her companion. Or we’re both each other’s companions when the need arises. I mean…” he rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean.” Clara giggled. The Doctor looked obviously flustered. “What I mean is to say that I mean when it comes to need, I’m talking about that need that friends have for each other and…”

“Sweetheart, it’s fine,” Clara said.

“Sweetheart?” The Doctor looked back at her incredulously. “Clara, don’t toy with me today.” She smiled.

“I love this mad man,” she said. The Doctor rolled his eyes again and shook his head.

“Are there other Pod Pals here?” Pinkie asked. “I mean…are you guys gonna stay here today?”

“We’ll be back later,” the Doctor said. “But yes, upstairs there are plenty of pals for you to meet. I distinctly remember three North American cartoon characters, one Japanese anime character, two American cinema characters and two whom I could not identify. Hey, go get yourself some upgrades while you’re at it.” He touched hands with Pinkie Pie and their eyes grew a little brighter for a few seconds before they released their grip and stepped back. “That’s my contact info if you need me.”

“Ohhhhh are you both really from Britain?” Pinkie asked.

“Yes,” Clara said, smiling. She seemed content not to say much and just watch the Doctor speak instead.

“I’m from a little further north, but yes, that’s close enough,” the Doctor said. “See you later Pinkie.
Armin.”

“Bye bye!” Pinkie said. Armin and Clara waved to each other.

Armin pressed the elevator door and waited. “Hey Pinkie,” he said. She turned to him. “Did you notice something back there?”

“I noticed a lot of things! Which one specifically, though?”

“Well…you and the Doctor really hit it off, but Clara was content not to say much. I mean, I honestly didn’t know what to say either. But..you ever think that maybe us Pod Pal companions have it a little too easy?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean…well I WANTED to talk to Clara. To be polite, ya know. Get to know her. But it was much more entertaining to watch you and the Doctor speak to each other. I just…didn’t have the drive to really speak to Clara because of it. Maybe you make things too easy, is what I’m saying.”

“Oh…well next time, I’ll encourage you to speak too!”

“It’s not that so much…it’s just that when I’m with you, I love doing whatever I can to spend time with you, but I don’t really…pull away as much. I don't take the initiative like I think I should. You know what I’m saying?”

“Oh yeah, definitely. You and I have a system already done. I’m the talker. You’re the listener. So you listen to everyone else rather than talking. This will help you in college, since it’s mostly listening.”

“Ah, well…that’s not exactly what I meant but…all right.”

The elevator opened and they stepped inside.

--

Welcome to the Technomancer Industries Tour, brought to you to Coca Cola! Today, you will be led on a tour of the facility through the various divisions where our Meta-Frames and Pod Pals are constructed. You will see how the use of technology has contributed to advancements in various fields including robotics, artificial intelligence, exosuit construction and medical prostheses. To get started, step onto the moving platform and we’ll begin.

Technomancer Industries was founded in 2032 by real estate mogul Melody Noble. At the age of 46, Miss Noble financed her corporation through the major acquisition and sales of various stocks and properties throughout North America and Great Britain. As a result, there are five major bases of operation. These include Technomancer offices in Corpus Christi, Austin, Albuquerque, New York City and London.

Technomancer started as a small robotics company that specialized in making robotic assistants for various research laboratories and private citizens. After acquiring a contract for the U.S. Government under President Hensley in 2048, they moved on to robotic prosthetics for soldiers coming home from the Chinese/Russian border wars. In 2050, due to unprecedented growth in the company, Technomancer took in new talent who started to work in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Exosuit Design. Within 2 years, they had the first working prototype for what would become a household name today.

The first 2052 Pod Pal was a simple Artificial Intelligence by today’s standards. Only holding 2 Petabytes of data, they pale in comparison to the new 2072 models which hold half a Yottabyte of data (or roughly 550 billion terabytes). The first model was Melody Noble’s favorite cartoon character. Fans of the retro franchise known as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic know this character as Vinyl Scratch. The first Pod Pal still lives with Melody Noble today and has been upgraded over 250 times in 20 years. Any Pod Pals interested in contacting Vinyl Scratch may ask customer service for her pod calling number.

Today, there are over 250 licensed designs for Pod Pals including several characters form the following retro intellectual properties

- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
- Transformers
- Doctor Who
- Guardians of Harmony
- Cowboy Bebop
- Pokemon (Video Game Series)
- Lord of the Rings
- Zootopia

Stop by our gift shop to try out new upgrades for your Pod Pals and Meta-Frames!

Technomancer Industries: Our Future is your Present!

--

Author's Note:

Extra Story Details


Writing Time: Approx 2 hrs, 40min
Draft Number: 1 Draft
Story Settings: The Year 2072, Corpus Christi, Texas
Story Themes: Transhumanism, Body Modification, Identity, Technological Relationships, Fighting Death by Living Life

Note: This is a "B" Story, meaning I wrote it second during a marathon of story-writing one night. "B" stories are designated by having a quick setup, but taking a lot longer to finish and often develop deeper concepts and character connections rather than a more contained idea presented in an "A" story.

Story Background:

This story was inspired by my love of Transhumanism and my support in finding a way to help humanity excel socially and technologically. Games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution help immerse the player in a setting which explores concepts like identity, technological addiction and humanity's animal nature.

This story will explore how very personal technology can become in a person's life when they rely upon it for everyday survival, both physically and emotionally.