• 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. 5: "No Longer Hostile

Ch.5: ‘No Longer Hostile’

His years of training suddenly erased from his mind, his body frozen, Parker merely stared at the violet unicorn as she sat up, yawning. This was it; he would be compromised. The Royal Guard would enter the library and take him back to the castle. He was lucky he jammed his CPU signal before coming here, or he would have a difficult time fighting back against the ponies and T-X at the same time. But that would only be temporary before the signal would unblock itself again.

He heard hooves scrambling against the wooden floor. The three Cutie Mark Crusaders had taken to hiding from the unicorn’s line-of-sight. Acting upon his impulse, Parker did the same as Twilight got out of bed. She trotted downstairs, mumbling “water” under her breath, and the moment she entered the kitchen, the I-950 pulled himself over the banister, careful not to make a sound as he climbed over back onto the second floor.

Using his night vision implants to see through the darkness, he scanned the area until he spotted the CMC hiding underneath a table. He silently made his way over to them. “Hey, girls…”

“Parker, is that you?” asked Applebloom.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

“How can you even see us? It’s too dark in here,” said Sweetie Belle with a mix of utter confusion and curiosity.

The human didn’t answer. “Listen, you three, we need to abort; just get out of here.”

“What about your Hacker-thingy?”

Parker was hesitant—the last thing he wanted to do was leave without it—but he answered, “We’ll have to come back for it later. But right now, we should focus on not being spotted.”

Scootaloo nodded in agreement, “Yeah… That sounds like a good idea.”

“But we can’t go through the front door without alerting Twilight,” said Sweetie Belle.

Parker shrugged at this. “So what? We’ll just use the balcony.”

“It isn’t gonna be easy for us to climb out of a tree, ya know.”

“You three just leave that to me. Now come on.”

The fillies got from under the table, and they and Parker headed towards the balcony when they heard hooves trotting up the stairs. They got back into cover before Twilight stepped onto the floor, the fillies under the table again with the human crouching next to them. Parker saw Twilight crawling back into her bed before going to sleep.

He looked over at the CMC and motioned them to move towards the balcony. They silently made their way across the floor, wincing at every creek the floorboards made. He reached out to open the door, and the four of them stepped out into the night. Parker breathed a sigh of relief once his feet touched the wooden balcony and he closed the door until a satisfying click reached his ears.

“That was easy,” he said.

“Yeah, but now we have to get back to home,” said Scootaloo, “which means we have to make our way past the Royal Guards again.”

The I-950 threw his head back in frustration. This is going to be a really long night.

It took more time than usual since the Royal Guards were beginning to change shift, but Parker and Apple Bloom finally managed to return to Sweet Apple Acres after taking Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo to their respective homes. The clock on his HUD read around 12:43a.m., though he figured the time zones in this world would be different, also. Picking Apple Bloom up, the I-950 scaled the house to her room. He opened the window and dropped her inside.

He was about to climb back down and return to the tree house when Applebloom chimed, “Hey, Parker. Thanks for take’n us. It was fun—dodge’n Royal Guards and sneak’n ‘round Twilight’s library at night.”

The I-950 smiled, though he wanted to make it seemed forced. He failed, but didn’t care. “Spend a day in my world. We go through this stuff every five minutes. Anyway, thanks for trying to help get my Hacker back. It was unexpected, to be honest. You could have just left while I was sleeping and turned me in. But instead you decide to help me out. Why did you do that?”

“M’ah sister always told me everypony has a good side buried deep within. Ah don’t think yer all that bad like everypony says, Parker. Ah believe there’s some good in you.”

Parker opened his mouth. He wanted to say something, but no words came out. With his whole life spent as a technical war machine, he wasn’t used to those words. “G’night, Applebloom,” he said and scaled back down before heading back into the orchard.

A few days ago, Scootaloo’s initial thoughts of Parker were that he was a dangerous alien sent here to invade and take over Equestria. She denounced those thoughts, instead viewing the human as a close friend alongside Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, despite the differences they had to each other.

“It’s impossible, Scootaloo,” Parker said. “Nothing organic—pegasi included—can break through the sound barrier. They try and they would be ripped apart in seconds.”

The young pegasus filly flapped her wings, hovering in the air for only a few seconds. “Are you kidding? Rainbow Dash is the only one I know who can.”

“It’s true,” said Sweetie Belle. “We’ve seen it ourselves. It’s called a Sonic Rainboom.”

Parker barely stifled a laugh. “Sonic Rainboom…? That makes it even more ridiculous. Look, I’m just gonna say this: it’s all just smoke and mirrors.”

“Is not!” yelled the two fillies.

“Is, too…” Parker countered, “But maybe when this whole thing blows over and I’m not a fugitive running from the law anymore, you can show me firsthand. I’d love to see it.”

They heard glass rattling against each other and looked towards the doorway to see Apple Bloom entering the clubhouse with a crate of bottles balanced on her head. “I’m here with apple juice, everypony. Ya’ll want any?”

“Yes, please,” said Scootaloo as she and Sweetie Belle hurried to the crate. Parker followed behind; he reached for one of the bottles and popped the top off before taking a swig. The moment the liquid hit his tongue, he finished the rest before going for another.

Apple Bloom reeled back, slightly disgusted but unable to hold back a small laugh. “Whoa, slow down, Parker. You act like you haven’t anyth’n decent ta drink in ages.”

The human replied after downing his fourth bottle, “Drink, eat, sleep; you name it. Can’t get stuff like this where I’m from anymore.”

“And where is that?” asked Sweetie Belle.

Parker chose not to answer that question. Lately he noticed the Cutie Mark Crusaders were trying to get him to talk about his home world. He didn’t want to tell them. Seeing how young they were, they couldn’t fathom the type of horror he and humanity were subjected to on a daily basis. Every time they asked, however, he would break off the conversation and change the subject. “So...” he clapped his hands together, walking casually around the tree house, “what’s the next plan for retrieving my Hacker?”

Applebloom replied, “Actually, Parker, we were thinking, maybe we could spend the day together instead. Ya know, as friends?”

The I-950 thought about it. He thought it was a good idea, a good way to take a break and refresh his mind for future heists against Twilight. Besides, it was the first time they actually called him a friend. He looked at them. “Alright, sounds like a plan. But no asking where I’m from.”

“Why are you so secretive about it?” asked Sweetie Belle.

Parker smiled at the filly’s rising curiosity. Because it’s fun watching you three wonder so much? “That’s for me to know, and you to find out.”

Applejack stood next to her apple stand awaiting new customers. Everything in the marketplace had finally been restored, having been beforehand devastated by the fireball. More than a week passed since Parker escaped from custody. Maybe he was hiding somewhere far from Ponyville, or better, being chased by Royal Guards or captured again. She doubted the last two, though.

After a few minutes, her first customer approached. It was the guard that escorted her and her friends out of Canterlot. “Howdy, Corporal Air Burst. How’s yer wing feel’n?”

The pegasus guard glanced at his bandaged wing, cringing at the memory of his unwanted up-close-and-personal encounter with the machine. “It’s been better, Miss Applejack. I’m just glad I survived.”

“I’m surprised Parker didn’t do anyth’n else to ya.”

“Oh, it wasn’t Parker. It turns out he’s being chased.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Chased?”

Air Burst nodded, “Yeah. Something he called a T-X. It’s a machine—a very dangerous one if he’s running from it.”

“Ya’ll find either of ‘em yet? They gotta be somewhere.”

“Not yet. We’re still looking, trying to find some leads in the area. Hopefully something that’ll tell us where they might be.”

The cowpony smiled. There might have been some hope in locating the two aliens before they had a chance to cause more damage. “Well, it’s good ta hear yer feel’n alright. Hey, while yer here, ya feel’n hungry for an apple?”

The guard nodded, “As always!” He dropped some bits on the counter and took one of the juicy red fruits in his mouth. As he left, the two were approached by an alabaster unicorn.

Applejack tipped her hat and greeted her, “Hey there, Rarity.”

The prim unicorn returned the favour. “Good afternoon, Applejack. I have to ask you, do you know where Sweetie Belle might be?”

“Last I checked she was hanging out with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo in the orchard. They’ve been spend’n an awful lotta time there, lately.”

“They’re probably trying to earn some type of cutie mark.”

Applejack shrugged. “Well whatever they’re doing, I’m sure it’s safe.”

At those words, Rarity shot the farm pony with a subjective glance.

“Point taken,” Applejack said.

Another day passed. Parker managed to completely patch things up between him and the CMC, although he resisted the fillies’ repeated attempts to get him to reconcile with any other ponies. He figured the Princesses and Royal Guards would not be too forgiving after his and the T-X’s sudden path of destruction through the streets of Canterlot.

With a sudden jolt of energy, the I-950’s eyes snapped open, and he sat up in his spot, sweating and breathing heavily.

He looked around to see that he was still in the tree house. There was a lack of three fillies around planning for their cutie marks, so he figured it was around morning or they were still in school. He sat himself up against the wall, his hand grasping his chest to slow down his increasing heart rate. It was a dream. It was all just a dream.

“Are you feel’n okay?” He turned to the voice to see Applebloom standing in the doorway. She bared a worried look in her eyes.

He nodded, “Yeah… Yeah, I’m fine. There’s nothing to worry about. Where are Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo? I usually see you hanging around them.”

“Sweetie’s help’n her sister, Rarity with a dress and Rainbow Dash is teach’n Scootaloo ta fly. It’s jus’ me for the time be’n.”

“Just you, huh? That must be boring.”

“Actually…” Apple Bloom trotted up to him. “Ah was wonder’n if you could help me harvest some apples around here. Cider season is come’n up soon, and we need ‘em ta brew.”

Parker mused over the question for a minute and nodded, “Sure, but only if I get some cider after you’re done making it.”

Apple Bloom happily agreed. The two of them left the tree house, and Parker followed her. Most of the walk was quiet between them. Eventually they reached a large space in the orchard. Buckets had been placed underneath the trees that were chosen to be harvested.

“Okay,” said Apple Bloom, turning to the human. “The apples here look ripe; now all we gotta to is buck ‘em outta the trees.”

Parker barely stifled a laugh upon hearing her words. “What did you say?”

“Buck ‘em,” Applebloom repeated, not being able to realise finding what was so funny about what she said. “Ya know, jus’ kick ‘em outta the trees.”

The human tilted his head. “Kick ‘em?”

Applebloom nodded. “Yeah. It’ll take some time, Ah’ll admit—”

“I know a faster way.”

The filly was set back. “Faster way?”

Before she could ask, Parker aimed his plasma rifle at one of the trees. He set his finger on the trigger, but just as he was about to pull, Apple Bloom sent a kick to his leg, throwing the human off, the shot firing off into the sky.

“What was that for?” asked Parker, holding his leg as the pain was being suppressed.

“What do you think you’re do’n?” responded Applebloom.

“I told you: I was gonna get these apples down.”

“If Ah knew you’d meant like this, Ah would’ve stopped you before you even tried ta to it. Listen, Ah was always told that you should never rush things; that if you do, it’ll only lead ta more trouble than you want. It’s better to take things slow than try ta finish ‘em as fast as possible.”

Parker mused on her words, taking them into thought. He remembered the war, hearing a similar speech to one of his comrades.

“Skynet’s vulnerable without us.” The I-950 was frantic, trying to convince his brothers and sisters about his plan. “We know all of her secrets.”

“Not all of them, Xavier,” replied Angel.

Rachel continued, “Remember who she is. She might have tricks up her sleeve that we’ve never even seen. It’s better to wait than strike now and waste more lives on an operation that might fail. Use guerrilla tactics—wear Mom down before dealing a killing blow.”

Xavier didn’t like what he heard. Either way, continuing this war would result in more lives lost to the machines. “And how long will that be? How long will it take before she’s weak enough to finish her off?”

Parker shrugged. “As long as it needs to. But Mom trained us better. It’s stupid to attack now without proper knowledge on what she was planning. We’re most likely her primary targets. Don’t worry, we’ll have our time soon enough.”

He looked down at the small filly standing in front of him. “Alright, I’ll take your word for it. Show me how it’s done.”

“It’s easy. Ah’ve been do’n it for years.” Applebloom cantered towards one of the trees. “All ya gotta to is line up yer shot and give out a kick.” She demonstrated, lifting her hind legs before reeling them back and releasing them towards the base of the tree. The kick had made some of the apples fall into the buckets below. “See? Now you try.”

Parker played through the demonstration on his HUD. “Are you sure about this, Apple Bloom? Chances are if I kick the tree, I’ll break it in half.”

“Then give it a punch—as soft as you can.”

The human looked down at his fists. “Define ‘soft’…”

“Jus’ get the apples outta the trees.”

Walking up to one of the trees, Parker balled up his fists. He looked up at the red apples that were hanging from the branches. He wondered: if Applebloom and her family made her apples as well as they made apple juice, how good would their apple cider taste? He reeled his arm back and threw a punch at the tree.

Vibrations were sent across the bark, and almost immediately, the apples fell into the buckets until the entire tree was bare. “Wow…” the earth pony stared up at the sight. “You must be strong.”

Parker smiled, though before he could respond, the tree uprooted from the dirt and fell to the ground. “I guess I hit it a little too hard,” he said.

Apple Bloom nodded. “Yeah, ya did.”

Time flew by before the two finished harvesting the apples. They returned to the clubhouse, heading up the wooden plank inside. Parker stretched his arms as he took his seat against the wall again.

“How many apples did we get?” he asked.

“Jus’ enough to make twenty barrels of cider,” replied Applebloom, excited at the amount of work that got done. “Thanks fer yer help, Park. Ah couldn’t have done it without ya.”

Parker smiled, rubbing the earth pony on the head. “Thanks, Ribbons. You know, my friends back home call me Park all the time.”

“Do they?”

“Yeah… They’re—”

“Hey, guys!” Sweetie Belle’s voice shouted from outside. She and Scootaloo hurried into the tree house. Her saddle bag was bulging from whatever things must have been inside. “Look what we got!”

Straining, the unicorn filly’s horn glowed a faint light green colour, coupled with some sparks flying out, and she pulled the GPS/Hacker from inside. The small wrist device had already been disassembled with the metallic casing having been taken off and some of the wires disconnected from the computer chip.

She dropped it in Parker’s hands, but he could look down at it in disbelief.

“It was like that when we found it,” said Scootaloo.

The I-950 diagnosed the state it was in, bringing up his HUD. Diagrams and reports flooded his vision. “It doesn’t look too bad. Some minor damages here and there, but nothing too serious. I think it can fix this.”

He set it on the table and immediately got to work, eagerly reassembling it. Apple Bloom glanced over at her fellow Crusaders. “How did you two managed to get it from Twilight?” she asked.

“She was out,” said Scootaloo. “We saw Owlowiscious was asleep and Spike was the only one watching over it.”

Scootaloo continued, “So, we got some leftover gems from Rarity and used a trail of them to lead Spike out of the library. The rest was easy.”

Apple Bloom face-hoofed after hearing the incredibly easy plan. “Why didn’t we think of that before? We could’ve gotten this whole thing done a lot sooner.”

Within minutes, Parker managed to put his device back together. Everything was back in place. He hit the side a few times before it crackled to life, the azure-blue background glowing on the screen.

Parker was literally at a loss for words. He shifted through his mind to find something to say. “This is amazing. I can’t tell you three how much this means. I… Just, thanks. A lot…” The good vibe felt around the inside of the tree house soon disappeared as the Crusaders stared at the ground. “What’s wrong?”

“Remember the deal we had?” asked Sweetie Belle.

Parker shifted through his memory before realising what the filly must have talking about. “Oh, right… That…”

“Ah don’t remember a deal,” Applebloom said hastily.

Sweetie Belle looked at her. “You know, that deal we made when he—” She was interrupted when Applebloom shoved a hoof in her mouth.

“We can’t jus’ let him leave like this. There’s no way he can hide from the Royal Guard forever.”

“Well he can’t stay in our clubhouse forever,” said Scootaloo.

The human responded: “Nor will I.”

“Friends don’t abandon other friends,” said Apple Bloom. “Parker’s our friend, and Ah think we can help outta this jam.”

Sweetie Belle eyed the earth pony. “How?”

“If you’re thinking about going out in the open, I don’t think that’s the great idea I was looking for,” Parker proclaimed. “There’s no way to tell if any pony out there won’t end up turning me in.”

Apple Bloom put a hoof to her chin, before a smile grew on her face. “Maybe there is somepony.”

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