• Published 25th Sep 2017
  • 7,192 Views, 336 Comments

Familiar - GaPJaxie

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

  • ...

Chapter 3

The house was too bright. Or, too dark. Trails of dried blood covered the floor. Dishes piled up in the sink, or simply gathered mold on whatever piece of furniture they’d been left on. Rainbow lay on the floor by the window, staring out at the city. Empty bottles of wine and used needles lay scattered around her. The bandage on her hoof was soaked through with blood.

It was a beautiful day. The weather was flawless. The city shone like a jewel. Outside the glass, the eternal festival that was equine civilization continued. It was the glorious apex of their species. It was perfect.

Things would never get any better.

Abruptly, the robotic arms of the house came to life. From their hidden slots in the walls, they glided out on metal rails, and began to pick up the dirty dishes. From under the counter, an automated floor polisher sped out to deal with the trails of blood. The lights of the house dimmed from full brightness to a more comfortable 60% power. The air conditioner kicked in.

Rainbow watched it all in silence, following the robots with her gaze as best she could without getting up from where she lay.

Until eventually, Twilight pretended to clear her throat again. She knocked on the doorframe, once.

“I told you to get out of my house,” Rainbow snapped, but her voice was weak.

“Absent the proper legal proceedings, I may not obey an order to harm my master—or to assist them in harming themselves.” Twilight took a few steps into the room, to be more clearly in Rainbow’s line of sight. She was tall, Rainbow realized. Even if they’d been properly standing face to face, Twilight would have looked down at her. With her lying and Twilight standing, her eyes were somewhere around Twilight’s knees.

“At this point,” Twilight continued, “allowing you to be left alone would constitute enabling self-harm.”

“Fine. You’re not my familiar anymore. You’re fired.” She shrugged, and went back to looking out the window. “Go recycle yourself.”

“I am going to clean that wound, make you eat something, and restore the house to a hygienic state. If you still want me to leave after that, I will obey.”

“I don’t take orders from machines.”

Twilight shrugged. “If you attempt to prevent me from assisting you, I will call emergency services and you will be treated in an ambulance. Notably, an ambulance being called to your home will automatically trigger an alert to your next of kin. Which I believe is still your parents at this point. I thought you would want to avoid that.”

Rainbow didn’t say anything for a long time. Until finally, she let out a dull: “Whatever.”

Twilight took it as a yes. At her command, the simpler machines of the house did their duty. In the kitchen, knives were pulled from blocks and rapidly honed, as a grill fired to life. Grasped in its little metal manipulators, a scuttling floor bot brought Twilight the first aid kit.

“Sit up, please,” she said, and Rainbow complied. “You should shut your eyes for this part. It will only take a moment.”

“No. I want to watch.” Rainbow’s voice was soft, and a frown tugged at her features, but Twilight offered no objection. Her horn glowed as she unwrapped the bandage, peeling away bloody layer after bloody layer. By the time the edges of her hoof were visible, there was as much pus in the bandages as blood. Rainbow’s hoof had alternately turned angry red or a pale white, and the cut edges were more ragged than when the wound was made.

Rainbow’s stomach churned. Her frown deepened. At several points, she started to turn her head away, but each time she caught herself. She made herself watch as Twilight washed out the wound and then administered a series of shots—four to her hoof, one in her leg.

“This could have been very serious if it had gone untreated another day,” Twilight said. “But as it is, you will be fine. Could I ask you to hold that pose for a little while longer, please?”

“Um…” Rainbow swallowed. “Sure.” In a matter of minutes before her eyes, the flesh of her hoof went back to its normal color. Twilight mixed several of the gels in the kit, and carefully applied the result with a swab. It was like superglue, binding the two edges of the wound together. By the time she finished, it was nothing more than a red line down the bottom of Rainbow’s hoof.

“There you go,” Twilight said. “All done. You don’t even need a bandage, just don’t do any heavy lifting with it. You will need to keep taking antibiotics for the next two weeks, but I have instructed the kitchen computer to automatically place them in your food.”

Rainbow tentatively put her hoof on the floor. She instantly pulled it away as though burned, but tried again a moment later, and found it would bear her weight. “Thank you.”

“I live to serve,” Twilight bowed her head low. “May I bring food now?”

“Yes. Ah… yeah.” Rainbow shook out her mane, and turned back to the window. She looked around, and reached for one of the bottles of wine. But before she could touch it, a purple aura enveloped it and yanked it away.

Glass belongs in the materials recycler,” Twilight said, though the bottle was more than half full. Rainbow Dash didn’t object. She ate what Twilight brought her—an iron-rich bowl of mixed grains and artificial meat. It was good. Twilight stood at attention as Rainbow ate, not looking directly at her, but instead vaguely off into the distance.

“I have decided you can stay,” Rainbow said, “until Cloudchaser is here.” Twilight nodded. “Since you… understand the appeals process better than me, I order you to do whatever you can to bring her back.”

“I obey.” Twilight nodded her head low. “But you should be aware, I estimate a very low probability of success. There is no way to bring her back that does not involve an audience with Celestia personally, and it would be highly irregular for a matter such as this to even be given her time.”

“Then I order you to do whatever you think has the best odds. Can you do that?” Twilight nodded. “Good. You… know how the system works. What makes Celestia tick. You can do something to get her attention.”

“I do know her very well,” Twilight agreed. “She created me. In a certain sense, she is my mother. But you know your mother very well. Can you reliably get her to do what you want?”

Rainbow looked away and off into a corner. After a moment, she asked: “Why did Cloudchaser do it? What was her… argument. For why she was suffering?”

“I don’t know. Those records are sealed. Additionally, per her will, I do not have access to the logs of her personal thoughts and observations. I have the full record of what the two of you did together through external cameras, but I don’t know why she did what she did.”

Rainbow nodded. She still didn’t look at Twilight. “How long will it take for you to get Celestia’s attention?”

“Again, the most probable outcome is that I will not. The automated bureaucracy has already rejected all relevant requests. However, if a sufficient number of ponies express a desire, that itself may merit an audience regardless of the desire’s feasibility. Speaking with all of your relatives, social media followers, and contacts at my best possible speed, I estimate it will take two to four weeks to generate a sufficiently large crowd to potentially garner attention.”

Rainbow nodded, and a long silence came between them. “If I may,” Twilight said, “you should do something that isn’t drinking or getting high. It has been several days since you went flying.”

“I guess.” Rainbow paused. Then she abruptly looked up. “Last time I did a sonic rainboom, Celestia noticed me from the palace. She… sent a thumbs up and stuff! If I do it again, you think she might notice me a second time? Take the audience?”

Twilight frowned. She furrowed her brow. Finally, carefully, she spoke: “That outcome is not theoretically impossible.”

It was good enough.