• Published 22nd Jul 2012
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Away From the War; Away From Machines - iDeltaVelocity

An I-950 goes to Equestria, unaware of what has followed him.

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Ch. 4: "Uneasy Trust"

Ch.4: ‘Uneasy Trust’

The situation concerning Parker had quickly descended from bad to worse after his escape from the castle. The arrival of the second alien was horrifying enough, but after hearing of the conflict between the two, and the devastating weapons they employed, it was obvious that whatever they were fighting about was not good for the rest of Equestria.

“What happened after?” asked Princess Celestia.

“It fired some kind of weapon at us and made part of the ceiling fall. We barely got out of the way,” said Shining Armour. “After that, it went after Parker.”

“What was it that attacked you?” asked Cadance.

“It was a machine. And if Parker wanted to get away so bad, it has to deadly.”

“Nearly gave me a concussion after he threw the Prince at us,” said a Lunar Guard.

Prince Blueblood straightened his mane, still annoyed by the memory of him being used as a makeshift weapon. “It wasn’t fun for me, either. You weren’t the one held against you will. Or thrown like a ragdoll. Once we find him, I’ll see to it that he’s—”

“Held in front of the royal court,” Luna interrupted. She knew what Blueblood was about to imply. He had a tendency to go a bit extreme on a few things. She looked at a medic pony who was in the room. “How is Corporal Air Burst?”

“He’s resting in the infirmary with a broken left wing, but his leg should be healed within the week. But I suggest letting him rest before he’s able to go back out.”

The Princess of the Sun nodded. “Thank you very much, doctor.” The medic bowed his before leaving the room. Celestia looked out the window into the night. One of her most trusted Royal Guards had been injured, and it was increasingly possible that a brutal war between two races was beginning to leak into her country, one that could be ten times worse than the chaos Discord used to cause.

“I want all Royal Guards across Equestria to be on alert,” she said, the tone in her voice becoming serious. “He could be anywhere, so they need to be prepared. Have patrols centered in every city and town to be on the lookout for him."

“You got it, Princess.” Shining went off to relay the order to the rest of guardsmen. All Celestia could do now was hope that her guards would have every thing under control.

Applebloom tried in desperate vain to escape from Parker’s grasp. The I-950 had his hand pressed against her stomach, his superhuman strength being used to keep her pinned to the ground with virtually no effort.

“Let me go!”

“Keep squirming all you want, kid. There’s no way you can escape. Not this time.” He watched as she eventually exhausted herself, clearly frustrated that she was back in this situation again. Despite all that he had been through, it was kind of funny to him, though he could not say the same for the filly.

“Why are you back?” she asked in lackluster. Parker responded by looked over at Twilight as she departed from the orchard. Apple Bloom saw this. “You’re after Twilight now? Why do you keep try’n ta foalnap everypony—?”

She was silenced when quickly Parker placed his hand over her mouth. Her protests her muffled and hardly understandable, but even this didn’t get her to stop. I was right. She’s still got a big mouth. But, just like last time, she’s probably my only chance of leaving here unharmed. I rather not return to that castle.

Once the filly was done screaming at him, he removed his hand and replied, “I’m not after your friend, alright? That device she has with her. It’s mine, and I want it back.”

Apple Bloom eyed him. “What value does it have to you?”

“Let’s just say it saved my life more than once,” replied the human. He moved his hand from over her stomach, giving her freedom to move around again. He expected her run and tell someone about his presence, but it surprised him when she stayed. “Listen, I never wanted any trouble. All of this—kidnapping you and escaping from prison—I never wanted any of it. I have no idea how I ended up here in the first place, and I need your help. Maybe a place to stay for a while since I’m in town?”

The yellow filly tilted her head. “Wow… So a dangerous alien is coming to a little filly for help. But the question is: why should I?”

“Well, there’s always ‘other options’.” Parker reached for his plasma pistol.

Apple Bloom saw this and immediately changed her decision. “Okay, I’ll help. But where exactly are you gonna stay? My house is outta the question, and not like you can just go someplace in Equestria and hope not to get caught by somepony.” She said this in a mocking manner, awaiting a response from her captor.

Parker hated to admit it, but she had a point. No matter what, he couldn’t stay hidden, whether it was from Royal Guards or the T-X. He looked back at Apple Bloom, who bared a smug look on her face as she waited a response. That is why this next question caught her completely off-guard:

“Where’s that tree house of yours?”

Scootaloo stared out the window of the CMC clubhouse into the darkness of the Apple Family orchard. It’s been past a few minutes since Apple Bloom went to her house for some marshmallows they could eat while during the sleepover; she and Sweetie Belle were worried about her. They had been since she was foalnapped by the alien.

“Where do you think she is?” she asked Sweetie Belle who could only shrug.

The unicorn filly was equally worried, if not more. “I don’t know. I hope she’s okay.”

A knock on the clubhouse door drew their attention. It must have been Apple Bloom. Scootaloo went to open it, and as soon as she did, she saw her earth pony friend, and she was in the arms of an unwanted guest. “Oh no…”

She back up next to Sweetie Belle, who was already pressed against the wall on the other side, as the human walked inside and set Apple Bloom down. The filly immediately ran to the embrace of her friends.

They hugged, and Scootaloo glared at the strange being in front of her. She looked ready to charge, though her size didn’t intimidate Parker much. “What are you doing back?”

“Question of my life,” the human muttered, closing the door. “If you must know, I’m in need of a place to stay, and I decided it would be here—in this itty bitty tree house.”

“What? Why?”

Applebloom answered, “It’s because of Twilight. She has something called a Hacker an’ it belongs ta him.”

Parker nodded in confirmation. It was obvious that he was really desperate to get it from her, knowing the immense value it had. “Precisely, and that’s why I’m here to retrieve it.”

“But why should we let you stay here?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Because I am thoughtful, nice, and respectful?” The human said, earning a collection of glares from the fillies in front of him. It was worth a shot. He kneeled down in front of them, setting his plasma rifle down beside him. “Please, I know you don’t trust me, but you have to help. If you do, I promise I’ll be out of your lives for good. For good!”

Scootaloo scoffed. It was too clear to him that she wasn’t even trying to consider going through with it. “After you foalnapped Applebloom, do you really expect us to trust you just like that?”

Parker remembered asking a similar question during his interrogation. He shifted through his memory, memorizing the same response Princess Celestia had given to him: “There’s no way I can make you trust me. Even I know something like this is something hard to come by. But believe me when I say I just want cooperation from you. You have my word no harm will come.”

The clubhouse was quiet, save for the wind blowing against the leaves outside, and to Parker’s utter surprise, the three fillies were talking amongst themselves. He mentally patted himself on back upon seeing it. Wow… They’re actually considering it. Holy crap, I can’t believe that—

“We don’t buy it,” Sweetie Belle said.

At that moment, the I-950 felt like slapping himself. Thanks a lot, Celestia.

“But,” the unicorn continued, “We’ll help you get your device from Twilight.”

“Really? That’s—”

“We’re not done,” Scootaloo interrupted, holding her hoof up. “But in return, you have to keep your promise and leave Ponyville when we do.”

The compromise went through Parker’s mind. It sounded like a good idea; after all, he was only here for the Hacker, and these fillies had extensive knowledge of the city since they possibly resided here. They would know every nook and cranny of this place. In the end, after thinking, he smiled. “You got yourselves a deal.”

After what felt like hours of playing games, music, and taking about these so-called “cutie marks”, the Cutie Mark Crusaders were fast asleep. Parker, on the other hand, had found a place against the wall—the same spot he sat when he first came here. Without any lanterns, everything was dark, prompting him to his night vision to see.

Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Applebloom were in sleeping bags. Toys, comic books, and the like were scattered about around them. Parker hadn’t cared much for what they did; he was only worried about getting his Hacker back from Twilight before she would break it, and he knew there would not be enough time before that happened. She just seemed like the curious one to him.

He directed his attention out the window, towards the sky. The moon was obscured by the leaves, so he used his HUD to see through them. Looking at the floating gray orb in a blue-tinted vision wasn’t the same as looking at it in clear view, though.

Whatever the case may be, it’s still amazing.

Twilight looked at the small object in front of her—the alien’s device. Small, bulky at the edges, a plastic screen, straps to ensure it would stay on the wearer’s wrist, but what really drove her to study it was what might have lain underneath its casing. This was advanced technology, so the components, whatever they were, would have been something she’d never seen before.

She picked up the device with her magic and held it in front of her. The casing was sealed tight with several titanium screws. The lilac unicorn levitated a screw driver and undid the entire thing until the screws were nothing but a small pile on the table. Removing the metal casing, she was met with an assortment of various wires connected to each other and leading to what seemed like a small computer chip set on one side.

“Now, what can I do with you?”

Her concentration was broken by a sudden knock on the door. “Twilie, are you in there?” Her mind froze immediately at that moment. It was Shining Armour’s voice. She couldn’t let him see that she had Parker’s device, especially after Princess Luna ordered it to be in storage. She had to hide where he wouldn’t see it.

She went around the library, searching for a suitable place to hide the device. A few more knocks echoed. “Just one minute,” she called out, hoping to buy some time. “Spike!”

The baby dragon made his way downstairs upon hearing his name being called. “What’s up, Twi—”

“I need you to hide this, quick!” Twilight shoved the device in Spike’s arms. Spike stared down at the contraption in front of him and back at his friend.

“What’s the rush for?”

“Shining Armour’s here, and I cannot let him see that. If he does, he might take it back to Canterlot and then I won’t have a chance to study it.” The unicorn seemed frantic about this, and Spike learned the hard way before not to stand in the way of Twilight when something scientific or academic arises.

As he went to hide the device, Twilight calmed herself and hurried to the door. Opening it, she greeted her older brother, trying to seem as inconspicuous as possible. “Hi, Shining! What brings you here?”

“Parker managed to escape from Canterlot,” the Captain of the Guard said.

“He did?” This news genuinely came as a surprise to the purple unicorn. If he managed to escape, it was likely he would be looking for his device.

“Yeah,” replied Shining, “so the Princess sent the Royal Guard all over Equestria to search for him. My team’s been stationed in Ponyville, and while I was here, I figured I’d pay a visit to my favourite sister.”

Twilight blushed lightly. “Aw, that’s sweet. So did you find anything?”

“Not yet. We’re still searching. He could be anywhere in Equestria by now.”

“I’m sure you’ll find him.”

“I hope so.”

A Celestial Guard approached the unicorn stallion. “Captain, a squads has returned from the Everfree Forest. They say they might have found something.”

Shining nodded in acknowledgement. “Got it. I’ll be there in a second.” He turned back to his sister. “I guess I have to go. It’s been nice seeing you again.”

Twilight smiled. “You, too. Just be careful, will ya?” They hugged and Shining departed, shutting the door behind him as he left. Once he was gone, Twilight turned to Spike. “Where’d you hide the device?” she asked.

“I hid it in the plant,” Spike replied. “Last place I’d expect anypony to look.”

Twilight went over and lifted the device out into the open, shaking some of the dirt off of it. The moment she did, the door opened again with Shining standing in the doorway. “Oh, and Twilight, I forgot to mention—” he stopped upon seeing the piece of machinery levitating near the lavender unicorn. “Isn’t that Parker’s device?”

“I, uh…” Twilight was at a loss for words.

“We thought Parker took it back with him when he escaped the castle,” he said. “You had it with you this whole time?” There was no answer. She was too nervous to say anything. “Look, Twilie, you need to bring it back to Canterlot. You’re not safe with it.”

“I’m sure Parker doesn’t know I have it,” Twilight replied, though she was still uncertain with her claim.

“It’s not Parker you should be worried about,” said Shining. “While he was escaping the castle, he was attacked by a machine—something he calls a ‘T-X’. I've seen what it can do. We think they’re both fighting over it. That’s why I think it should go back to Canterlot, where it’ll be under better protection.”

“But, I’ve already began studying it!”

“How far have you gotten?”

“So far,” Twilight replied, “I just opened it. But I’m sure I’ll find out how it works. Please, Shining, you need to give me just a little more time.”

Shining Armour thought it over in his head. He wasn’t sure if it was his conscience or the giant pair of puppy dog eyes his sister was blasting him with, but he couldn’t say no. “Alright,” he sighed, “but I’m going to be keeping an eye on you. Just please be careful with that thing. We still have no idea what it does.”

Twilight nodded. “I will. Thanks.”

Parker could feel something prod at his leg. It was hard, most like a hoof. He tried to pay no attention to it, to keep his eyes closed and continue sleeping, but it was eventually too much to ignore after a while. I realize I’ve only been in Ponyville less than twenty-four hours, but now I’m really beginning to regret coming back here.

“Hey, alien, wake up.”

“I have a name.” Shaking the cobwebs out of his head, he opened his eyes to see the three Cutie Mark Crusaders standing in front of him. Scootaloo, as always, seemed the most agitated about having him here in their tree house.

Parker let out an exasperated sigh as he woke himself up. “So, what’s up?”

“We’ve spent almost the entire day at school try’n ta stir up a plan to get yer thing back from Twilight,” said Apple Bloom. “But so far, noth’n seems ta work.”

“What were your original plans?” asked Parker.

Sweetie Belle thought back, “Well, we wondered if we could sneak in at night, but then we remembered Twilight has a pet owl with her.”

“She also has an assistant named Spike that’ll watch over it when she’s not around,” said Scootaloo.

Parker tilted his head. “Spike?”

The pegasus filly nodded. “Yeah, he’s a dragon.”

The very mention of the word made the I-950 break out in a cold sweat. Dragons… Why is it that I did not see that one coming? “Well I guess that makes this a lot more difficult. Is there anything we could try to get around them?”

“We have no idea,” said Apple Bloom. “All our plans were scrapped.”

Parker stood up and walked around the tree house, contemplating. If there was one thing he learned from his years of deep reconnaissance beehind Skynet lines, it was always to approach an objective from a different angle. “Where does she live in town exactly?”

“In a tree,” answered Sweetie Belle.

Parker deadpanned. “A tree? Are you serious?”

“Yeah,” the unicorn filly said, nodding. “The inside is a library. It’s full of all sorts of books and stuff.”

The I-950 scratched his head, trying to make sense of what he just heard. A unicorn lives in a tree which is actually a library. Okay, that’s it; I think I’ve had enough of trying to make sense of this world. Better to stop now before my brain shuts itself down. “Okay, so she lives in this library-tree, then there should be a way to enter from above. From the branches, I mean. We’ll be able to sneak in while she’s sleeping, take my Hacker, and everything can end there. Does that sound like a good plan?”

The Crusaders thought it over, and at once, they nodded.

They moved swiftly through the baron streets of the town, using the shadows provided by the night to conceal their movements. Parker’s training kicked in during this time, keeping quiet as a mouse as he moved from cover to cover. But still, he needed to follow the CMC’s lead. They knew Ponyville better than he did.

After Scootaloo saw the coast was clear, she quickly crossed the street to the other side, closely followed by Applebloom and Sweetie Belle. Parker nearly stepped out of cover when a Royal Lunar Guard suddenly appeared down the road. He watched the area in front of him for anything suspicious before continuing his patrol, and once he was gone, Parker quickly crossed the street to where the three fillies were hiding.

“What are Royal Guards doing here?” he said in a hushed tone, though the way he was saying it, it wasn’t a question.

“Remember that you escaped from Canterlot, and probably caused more damage while doing it,” replied Sweetie Belle.

That made sense to the I-950. This would make the heist much more difficult with armoired ponies roaming around. “Guess your Princesses aren’t gonna rest till I’m behind bars… uh, barrier. Let’s just get the Hacker and get out of here before we’re spotted.”

The CMC nodded in agreement. They continued through town, avoiding various Royal Guards that were on late-night patrol duty on their way to Ponyville Library. As the fillies said, it was giant tree with windows and a door carved into it, as well as a balcony. “It’s weirder seeing it up close,” Parker thought aloud as he continued to gaze at the unnatural sight. It seemed like something out of a fairy tale.

“Yer thing-a-ma-jig should be somewhere inside,” said Applebloom.

“It’s called a Hacker, and I sure hope you’re right about that statement.” They quietly approached the library. Parker looked up to see the balcony, high atop a few branches. “Okay, you three wait here. I’m gonna try to climb up. I’ll unlock the door from the inside. Got it?”

They nodded. Parker took a few steps back before charging at the tree, running up the bark before grabbing into one of the branches. Pulling himself up, he continued to scale the side of the library, using window sills, branches—anything he could grab—for leverage, until eventually reaching his destination. He gently pushed open the balcony door leading into the library. He could see Twilight sound asleep in her bed and a purple dragon asleep in a basket. To his surprise, it was a baby dragon.

That must be Spike. I was afraid of him? That’s embarrassing. He quietly made his way downstairs to the front door and unlocked it, letting the CMC inside.

“What you did out there,” said Scootaloo, “was awesome. How’d you do that?”

“Years of training,” said the I-950. He closed the door before any Royal Guard pony outside could see them, and they began their search. It was hard searching in the dark, but they did not want to run the risk waking Twilight or Spike. But one question did cross the mind of Sweetie Belle:

“Hey, where’s Owlowiscious?”

“Who?” Parker asked.

“The owl we told you about. He’s not here.”

The human chuckled, “Maybe he joined the owl mafia.”

Scootaloo deadpanned. “What?”

“I’m not good at making jokes, alright?”

They scanned the entire downstairs, coming up short in their search. Most of what they’d found were a bag of gems and few pictures of an alabaster unicorn which Parker recognised as one of the ponies present during his interrogation. After finding nothing, the four of them decided to check upstairs. Going up the steps, they were met with Twilight and Spike still asleep as they were when he first entered. Parker noticed a small red and yellow bird sleeping in a nest next to Spike’s basket.

They went around in their search, still coming up short. “Where the hell could it be?” asked the I-950 after searching in a potted plant.

“Knowing Twilight, she’d probably hide it where we least expect it,” said Sweetie Belle.

Scootaloo looked at her. “Which is?”

“I have no clue. Just throwing a suggestion out there,” the unicorn filly replied. They were about to give up the search and head back to the tree house when the sound of blankets rustling suddenly drew their attention.

When they turned their heads, they saw Twilight sitting up in bed.

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