• Published 11th Jun 2016
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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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( 2 ) Zer0 to Two - [35th Floor]

The elevator inside the Corpus Christi Technomancer building stopped at the 35th floor. Armin and Pinkie Pie looked around at the reflective interior and then at each other. Armin spoke first.

“I thought we were going to the 37th floor. Why did it stop?”

Pinkie Pie was about to press the call buttons again when the doors slid open. There was a slight sound of air whooshing past and then silence again. “Huh…” Pinkie said, “There’s a pressure differential. Well, we are very high up…Let’s go!”

The hallway had subdued but classy ebony floors buffed to a reflective sheen. When Armin looked down at himself, he saw Pinkie Pie and he walking upside down etched in the outlines of the lights hanging off the sides of the walls at frequent intervals. Gold trim ran along the bottom and top edges of the floor and ceiling, trailing around corners and providing a subtle but useful guide through the corridors. Potted plants in opaque glass pots rested in alcoves next to two chairs at several points down the hall. Armin also noticed that each room had double-door openings, which seemed excessive for such a small space. He and Pinkie walked side-by-side and it was then Armin realized that the hallways were wider here than on the bottom floor.

“This place was made for couples,” Armin said. “Everything caters to two people.”

“Melody Noble didn’t ever want a Pod Pal or Companion to do anything other than stay next to each other’s side.” Pinkie said with an air of subdued respect.

“Are you going to talk to Miss Noble’s Pod Pal? They gave the number in that tour we heard in the elevator.”

“I have already. Once,” Pinkie said. “When I was born. Vinyl Scratch’s face was the first person I saw when I became conscious. She told me everything I needed to know about being your friend.” Pinkie hugged Armin and he blushed. Even now, he still found himself shy around her sometimes. She continued. “Vinyl talks to every single Pod Pal who is born. Can you imagine one person greeting the births of over 25,000 people in two decades? I still remember how gentle her voice was…Hey…” Armin looked at Pinkie Pie before she continued. “You ever think that Vinyl Scratch might be lonely? Miss Noble is super busy all the time.”

“I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

“I’ve just been thinking about you. When you get super busy…do you…do you think there’s ever going to be a point where I can’t help you? I mean, I want to help you, so there’s no reason why I couldn’t. But…I just want you to know that no matter what it is, I can always find some way to assist you. So don’t ever think that I can’t, okay?”

Armin looked into Pinkie’s eyes. She wasn’t trying to hide the emotion at all. She couldn’t. “Are you worried I won’t need you one day?”

“Yes…” Her ears drooped a little.

Armin embraced his Pinkie Pie and she held him back. He felt her hesitate in letting go and she nuzzled him gently. His heart had never felt more needed. “I’ll always need you, Pinkie Pie.”

A metallic masculine voice spoke up from behind them. “Touching.”

They turned to face a tall, helmeted individual in a mirrored faceplate. His suit was padded, almost like someone constructed light, aerodynamic armor out of car racer’s attire, then gave that armor to a ninja. Red icons lit up across his helmet as he spoke. “You must be new here. Welcome to the next big step. Your new life awaits.”

Armin felt the heaviness of the situation suddenly bare down upon him. His heartrate increased and Pinkie immediately grasped his hand. She had a live feed of his vitals programmed into her wireless network. He almost never felt anxious since he had met her. But even today, he was having trouble focusing.

“My name is Zer0. I will guide you through the labs. Ask me any questions,” he said. His faceplate displayed various comforting pixelated images in red, including smiley faces and birds in flight.

Armin knew his retro pop culture and he was absolutely excited to see this character. He couldn’t tell if they were a Pod Pal or a person in an Exosuit, but he felt it rude to ask. Still, he had one question. “I love your design! Are you from Daft Punk?”

The guide did not move for a few seconds. A large red number zero flashed on his faceplate and he looked down. He sighed. “Follow me.” He started to walk down the hall and shook his head.

“He’s not from Daft Punk,” Pinkie whispered.


As Armin followed Zer0 through the various research offices, he couldn’t help but notice how each room was decorated. There was a clear intent to create a subsection of human life by showing various places a person’s daily habit might take them. Here, Armin saw bedrooms, kitchens, apartments, and workplaces all separated by quiet hallways and occasional meeting rooms. It was as though someone had taken every major location in a person’s life, extracted the most important rooms and spread them out across the 35th floor of Technomancer Industries.

Zer0 explained. “Exosuits are tough. Not just in form but purpose. You have to learn patience.” He moved around the apartment and rested a gloved hand on the counter. He brought out some Coca-Cola for Pinkie and Armin. She took hers and pocketed it in a saddlepack she wore on her hip. Armin drank his and looked around as Zer0 continued the tour. “This is all training. Practice for those with new suits. This makes it easy.” He stood in the center of the room. “Some things are harder. Humans take much for granted. Sight is different.” He held out his arms. “You can’t see as much. But what you see, you see clear. Pinkie Pie knows, right?” he said, nodding to her.

Pinkie held Armin close to her. “I don’t have the wide angle vision that you do, Armin. My sight is limited but I can see much richer detail than the average human. Think of it like wearing a magnifier you can turn-on in your eyes at any time. You’ll never need glasses again. Isn’t that awesome?”

“Hehe yeah,” Armin said. “Hey Zer0…I can’t help but notice…have you been speaking in haiku this entire time?”

“Does it bother you? Language limits us sometimes. I don’t like limits.”

Pinkie Pie spoke. “Oh that reminds me. Armin, when you get your suit, you’ll be able to communicate with me, other exosuit wearers and other Pod Pals through a visual and mental interface. Kinda like the concept of telepathy, but with a lot more restrictions. Your mind will start to develop in new ways because of it. Language really does set the parameters for how you can form thoughts and concepts if you do so based on a limited set of linguistic principles.” She motioned to Zer0. “Our host is demonstrating how language can simultaneously limit and free a person based on the capability of the rules of language. Zer0 speaks in 5-7-5 syllables most of the time, which means he has to think in terms which will allow his language to fit those restrictions, but it also forces him to be more creative because of it.”

“Well spoken, Pinkie. Armin will learn new methods. To help him evolve.”

Armin smiled. “That’s a bit of a cheat. There were two sentence fragments at the end there, Zer0.” A winking smiley face appeared on Zer0’s faceplate. “This is really wonderful. I’m thankful I got to see this, but I’m still worried. I mean…” he looked at Pinkie. Her arm gently squeezed his side to encourage him to speak. “I don’t know why Technomancer Industries limits the style availability of some exosuits to certain genders. I don’t have anything against being a female, but the suit I want only comes in a female style. It has, um…subtle indicators of a feminine body type. And the character is clearly a female. But why can’t Technomancer just make a male version?”

“I’ll say this to you: you keep calling me male, but I’m a woman,” Zer0 said. Before Pinkie could muster an apology, Zer0 interrupted her. “Hey, I’m not bothered. My voice is masculine, though. Now that you know that…” Zer0 paused, “…did your view on me…change in any major way? I am still the same.”

“No,” Armin said. “It didn’t. I’m sorry if we made you nervous.”

Pinkie Pie looked at her partner. “I know the suit might seem to define who you can be, but with all the potential upgrades and custom paint jobs you can get over time, you’ll resemble your own new pony after a while. You can add all the masculine touches you want.” Pinkie thought for a nanosecond. “Hey Zer0, is the Nurse still here?” He nodded. “I think Armin would really benefit from speaking to her. Let’s go see the Nurse!”


Author's Note:

Extra Story Details

Writing Time for This Chapter: Approx 2 Hours
Draft Number: 1 Draft
Setting: Technomancer Industries Corpus Christi Offices, 35th Floor
Themes: Identity, Linguistics, Relationships

Story Notes: Zer0 is a playable assassin character from the video game Borderlands 2. He is a ninja who speaks mostly in haiku. His name comes from the large number zero which usually flashes on his face after he makes a kill.