• Published 25th Sep 2017
  • 6,888 Views, 336 Comments

Familiar - GaPJaxie

Dash has a pet robot! She's just the best.

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Chapter 1

“I always loved you and I always will. I’m sorry.”

With two eyes, Cloudchaser stared at the note in front of her. With her third eye, she watched Rainbow Dash sleep.

There was nothing special about that particular nap and that particular moment—or if there was, Cloudchaser couldn’t describe it. She always watched Rainbow. She watched Rainbow every second of every day. It was what the interior cameras were for. It was what her third eye was for. It was how she anticipated her master’s needs. It was how she learned to read the little signs.

She could tell a lot, by watching her master sleep. Rainbow’s hooves were twitching as she lay curled up on the couch. That meant she would wake up soon, and would probably want to go flying. Cloudchaser queued a command to the robotic arms inside the house. They glided from their cupboards in absolute silence, and poured an energy drink and a bowl of oats, leaving them on the table near Rainbow’s side.

Sometimes, the imagery of it all struck Cloudchaser as funny—that her third eye let her appear to be psychic. The other robots gave that joke a polite note of amusement. Rainbow didn’t get it though.

A sudden gust of wind across the roof made the paper flutter and twist under her hooves, and Cloudchaser’s attention snapped back to her body. Quickly, she held it down with her other forehoof as well, straightening it out so that it wouldn’t crease.

It took all of her attention to focus on the paper. It was her last chance to get things right, but her mind kept trying to go elsewhere. Eventually, the wind died down. She still didn’t know what else to say. So she lifted her head.

It was a beautiful day.

The sun was high in the sky, shining down upon a world of white stone walkways and glittering glass towers. All around her, elegant frameworks of carbon and steel rose high into the sky, home to hundreds of millions of ponies and nearly a billion loyal robots to serve their every whim. She could see ponies celebrating, and hear the cheers of the festival that never ended. She could see the care put into every welded beam, and hear the Industrial Machine purr. She could feel the warmth that was the city’s life rise from the cracks in the earth. Every part of it was thoughtful and kind—the expression of a timeless affection.

The roof was her little part of it. When Rainbow had moved into the house, it was bare smart foam. But she added a garden and a little pool, and made the whole thing smell very faintly like lemon. Rainbow found lemon relaxing when she was stressed. She’d never commented on any of it, but it was okay.

Downstairs, Rainbow stretched. She yawned. Cloudchaser’s hoof shook. So she took the pen in her teeth and signed the note. There was nothing more to say, and she was out of time.

She called one of the robotic arms, and it took the note and pen from her. She scheduled the note for delivery, and turned to march down the stairs. She strained her muscles against each other, so her normally silent servos would make that distinctive “fzzz-vrrt” buzz that ponies associated with the movement of robotic limbs. It warned Rainbow she was coming.

“Good morning!” she called, all chipper and sing-song. She arrived just as Rainbow was sitting up. “Or, good afternoon. How you feeling?”

“Sluggish. I slept too long.” Rainbow wolfed down a hoof-full of oats, and chugged the energy drink before her. “I’m going to go flying. Keep my lap time.”

“Sure thing!” Cloudchaser give a little flutter of her wings, a grin on her face as she stepped out of Rainbow’s way. “Think today might be the day you beat your record? You came so close Monday. I bet today’s the day.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Rainbow stretched out her wings, and trotted up the stairs to the roof. And she flew. Cloudchaser kept pace for the warmups and shouted words of encouragement when she got lapped. Flying always improved Rainbow’s mood. She got more animate and more enthusiastic as the hours rolled past. And then it was time for the race.

“Okay, ready?” Cloudchaser asked. Her whole body was tense, with her wings aflutter and a wide grin on her face. If she could breathe, she would have hyperventilated. “You got this, Dash. I think today’s the day!”

“Yeah yeah.” Rainbow cracked out her spine and stretched her legs, crouching her body into the classic takeoff pose. The course appeared before her, floating in the sky. “Time.”

“Three, two, one!” Cloudchaser called. Then Rainbow was gone.

The whole city was her racetrack. Holographic golden rings floated in midair, marking a track that twisted high into the heavens and down into the depths of the earth. She curved around the vast towers, wove in and out of lanes of automated flying cars, and dove into the depths of the Industrial Machine, ducking robotic arms and weaving under sprays of welding sparks.

From the roof, Cloudchaser cheered her on. Sometimes with whoops, sometimes with shouts. Once with an, “Oh no. No no no no! Dash!” when from a certain angle, in a certain light, it seemed like Rainbow might miss the next ring. She didn’t, of course. She twisted her wings at just the right moment, and soared through the golden hoop before her. Cloudchaser let out a childlike shriek of joy, and Rainbow shot her a salute as the track curved back around.

Finally, she climbed high into the heavens, until the air grew thin and her ears strained to hear each ring’s beautiful chime. The track ended there, the last ring perfectly horizontal in the sky. And so Rainbow sailed through it, tucking her wings tight against her side. She sailed as a ballistic projectile, straight up, arching her back like a gymnast to orient herself back down. She came to a halt, suspended in the night sky.

Then her wings snapped back open, she reversed her course, and the sonic rainboom began.

“Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh!” Cloudchaser shouted. Rainbow was too far away to hear, but she did it anyway. She stood on tiphoof as Rainbow shot out of the proper blast, leaving a trail of rainbows in her wake. The tension in her body grew and grew, and her head snapped back and forth between Rainbow and the timer hovering in the air.

“And…” Rainbow called. Her hooves slammed hard into the roof, cracking the smart-foam and producing a spray of dust. “Time!”

“Twelve minutes, sixteen-point-two seconds!” Cloudchaser leapt forward, seizing Rainbow in a tight hug. “New personal best!”

“Aww yeah.” Rainbow grinned. She enjoyed the hug for a few moments, then gently but firmly pushed Cloudchaser away. “And you doubted me.”

“I never-” Cloudchaser stammered a moment, a faint blush appearing on her face. She quickly scuttled away, returning with a hot towel and a smoothie. “Uh. I mean. Right you are again.”

Rainbow ignored her hesitation, and took the smoothie with a faint roll of her eyes, sipping it as Cloudchaser worked the sheen of sweat off her coat. Cloudchaser took the moment to go on: “Okay, but you have to admit, that performance was improbable.”

“I’m often improbable.” Rainbow reached out to take the towel, and Cloudchaser immediately stepped away. Rainbow finished the job herself, running the cloth over her face and neck. “Did anypony see me?”

“Yes! Actually, a lot of ponies saw you.” As Cloudchaser rattled off the items, the projector on the roof sprung to life, holographic icons appearing beside her head. “Celestia sent you a thumbs up. She saw your sonic rainboom from the palace. You have one-hundred-and-two unread messages of congratulations, sixteen unread messages of substance, twenty-two new friend requests, and one stallion wants to ask you out on a date.”

“Only one?”

“Well,” she corrected herself. “Seven stallions and two mares. But, one who might be in your league.”

“Yeah, that’s fair.” Rainbow shrugged. “How cute is he?”

“Eh. Like, seven out of ten?” She gestured, and a series of images appeared above her hoof, depicting a charcoal black stallion with a blue mohawk mane. “But I did an analysis of all past social media posts regarding him, and according to a majority of his ex-partners, he’s really good in bed.”

Rainbow’s jaw worked back and forth, her eyes went up to the heavens, and finally she answered: “Nah. Send him a note in case I want to hook up later, but I’m not really feeling it today. Think I’m just going to go get a massage and chill out.”

“Sure thing!” The pictures in the air vanished. “I’ll get the house ready. One question first though. You know the deadline for Wonderbolts application is—”

“Yes, Cloudchaser. I know. Because you’ve told me already.” Rainbow’s tone turned stern, and Cloudchaser lowered her head, looking down and away. Her ears tucked in against her head.

Rainbow sighed, and stepped up next to Cloudchaser. She put a wing over her shoulders, blue feathers wrapping over purple-tinted chrome. “Look, Cloud. I know I’m awesome. And I know you know I’m awesome. But the best way to ruin a hobby is to turn it into a job. I already do air shows that are just as good as theirs, I already have my own fans. Why mess up a good thing?”

“Because…” She strained at the air. “I want everypony to see how great you are the same way I do. What if somepony doesn’t get it?”

Rainbow laughed, retracting her wing. “I think I’ll survive. Just get the house ready, okay?”

“Of course, Dash. Whatever you want.” Cloudchaser bowed her head low to the ground. “I live to serve.”

Rainbow ignored her, walking back down the steps into her house. Each step was made of transparent crystal, fluted and pure, and they sang with joy to know the touch of her hooves. Her living room was a work of art, decorated by monuments to her achievements, and with a vast window that looked out over the most beautiful city that ponykind’s children had ever constructed. She lay upon a cushion of smart materials, softer than any cloud, and watched the flying cars zip past as two robotic arms laid hot stones upon her aching muscles. She asked for a snack, and a medical supercomputer calculated the perfect dish to optimize her flight development while remaining within her tastes. Then she found a nice spot in the sun, and fell asleep.

The sun set while she rested. As it dipped below the horizon, a silent robotic arm delivered the note to Rainbow’s side.

By the time she woke up, Cloudchaser was dead.