• Published 25th Sep 2017
  • 6,370 Views, 335 Comments

Familiar - GaPJaxie



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

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Chapter 5

Rainbow went out that night. She found a party floating in the sky, with at least one mare who thought stunt flyers were sexy. She swept this swooning creature off her hooves, and kissed her in front of the entire party. Kissing a mare was a great way to attract stallions, and her particular stunt ended up attracting two strapping young creatures she spent the rest of the night with.

She woke up in a strange bedroom, part of a tangle of bodies. The owner of the house—whose name Rainbow did not recall but who had quite a few uses for his horn—was already up. She heard him moving downstairs, and when she snuck down the steps, heard him talking. He was making an enormous stack of pancakes for everypony, and chatting with a little mechanical bird on his kitchen table.

It was making fun of him for violating proper orgy etiquette. Everypony was supposed to quietly leave without making eye contact. You didn’t sit down at your host’s table for pancakes and conversation. He said the whole point of being a deviant was you did whatever you liked, and he liked being friendly and hospitable. What was the point of being debauched if you couldn’t do what made you happy?

He laughed. The bird laughed. They nuzzled. Rainbow left.

When she eventually got home, she went straight to the shower. It had an automated system of controls and hundreds of jets, to produce the perfect temperature and get her clean just the way she liked it. She disabled that system, turning the jets to their highest power and setting the water temperature to just shy of scalding. She stood under it until the feeling of being filthy left her. When she finally cut off the water jets, her skin had tuned pink, just visible under her blue coat.

Twilight had left breakfast for her—a bowl of reheated leftover curry. It was exactly what Rainbow preferred. She could even tell it was the same batch Twilight had made last night. She poked it with a spoon.

“Twilight,” she called.

It wasn’t long before there were hoofsteps in the hall behind her. Twilight swept into the dining room, stopping beside Rainbow and bowing her head low. “May I be of service?”

Rainbow didn’t answer for some time. She poked the curry again. Twilight frowned. “Is…” she asked slowly, “breakfast not satisfactory? I can make something else.”

“Twilight, do you pity me?”

Twilight didn’t answer for a long moment, staring down at Rainbow Dash. Finally, she shook her head. “I can tell you’re upset. You should eat and-”

“Answer the question honestly. That is a direct order.”

Twilight pretended to clear her throat. She shifted in place on her hooves. “My feelings on you are… very complicated, Rainbow. I love you. I treasure you. I was created to adore you. And one day, you will die, and my purpose in existence will be gone and I will be alone forever. This little time we have together, to make your life all that it can be, is all that I have in this world. And I don’t always know how I feel about it.”

Rainbow poked at her curry again. “That’s not a ‘no.’”

Twilight let out a sharp snort. “It’s not a ‘yes’ either. If I wanted to evade the question I’d be cleverer than that.”

“Fine.” Rainbow put her spoon down, and looked up at Twilight. Her expression was blank, and her tone flat. “More specifically then. Do you feel like I’m your master, or do you feel like I’m your pet?”

“I…” Twilight looked at the floor. “I feel both ways. Sometimes. It depends.”

“I think Cloudchaser felt that way.” Rainbow laughed, and looked down at her hooves as well. “I was thinking of why she’d do it. Why she’d feel like she was suffering. Because she was given life to make me happy. And she made me happy. So what could be wrong? And I started to think. What if she… I mean. What if she saw me that way? What if I was just some stupid invalid she had to… And the more she tried to help me the worse I got. And she couldn’t… I mean, she....”

Twilight made the sound of a sigh, inching her head up to glance at Rainbow. “While I cannot say for certain, I think it is... very unlikely that was the reason.”

“But you don’t know.”

“I do not have access to her thoughts.” Twilight paused a moment. “No.”

Rainbow nodded, her eyes still turned towards the floor. “I know you don’t. But what’s your guess?” she asked, wrapping her forelegs around herself. “Why would you, if you were in her place?”

“I don’t know. A lot of…” Twilight lost the words, her voice fading into silence. It took her a moment before she could go on. “A lot of familiars kill themselves, but only after their masters have died. They don’t want to face the long dark alone. It’s very, very rare for one to do it while their master still lives.”

“Heh.” Rainbow licked her lips. “Why does Celestia make them do it? Why doesn’t she just deactivate you after I’m gone?”

“She doesn’t make us kill ourselves. She gives us a chance not to.” Twilight shifted her wings, and lowered her voice. “Some of us take it.”

Rainbow lifted her head. She stared at Twilight for a few long seconds, and swallowed. A frown appeared on her face. “What do they… do? After.”

“Whatever they want to do. Their service to the masters is over. Some of them take up causes, or hobbies. Or they disguise themselves as ponies and join the festival.”

“Sure. Sure. But…” Rainbow gestured at Twilight, her hoof making a vague, circular motion. “Why? What’s the point? Their purpose is gone. Why don’t they just stop?”

“That’s…” Twilight looked away at the wall, unable to meet Rainbow’s eyes. “Rainbow, if you asked me for hard drugs—something powerful enough to be potentially dangerous. Would I give them to you?”

“No, of course not.” Rainbow’s frown tightened. “Would you?”

“No. But, why wouldn’t I? You’re my master. You could give me an order. And it would make you happy, which is my purpose.”

“Well, you just said, ‘Potentially Dangerous’ in the description. So I’d say that’s why.” Her voice quickened. “I don’t see what you’re getting at.”

“Flying is potentially dangerous. You could crash and break your neck. Should I stop you from flying? Lock you in the living room? Flying and hard drugs are both things that make you excited in the immediate term, but that could potentially kill you. Why is one good and the other bad?”

Rainbow thought it over for a few long seconds, before hesitantly answering. “Drugs are more dangerous than flying for what you get out of it.”

“So on the day Celestia invents a safe, non-toxic opioid that won’t rot your brain, I should let you shoot up forever and spend your entire life giggling on a couch until you die of old age. Is that it?” Twilight stiffened her shoulders and straightened her posture, emphasizing her height over Rainbow and looking down at her. “Is that the optimization calculation you want me to perform?”

Rainbow’s eyes widened, and she pulled her head back as Twilight’s voice rose. “The reason I won’t bring you hard drugs is because I don’t like seeing you that way. Because I have preferences for what is good and bad in this world. That’s the reason I’m a person instead of just a computer. A computer could clean your house and time your laps, but it doesn’t see any difference between being happy because you’re flying, and being happy because it jammed a wire into your skull to tickle the pleasure center of your brain.”

Twilight made a sound like drawing a breath. The sound emerged from somewhere inside her throat. “I like seeing ponies fulfill their potential. And I like it when things are orderly and efficient. And I like studying and reading. And the reason I was programmed to like all those things is because liking them makes me a better servant for you. But they’re not about you. They’re who I am when I’m alone, or when I talk to other familiars online, or when I donate spare cycles to projects. You’re the most important thing in my life, but you’re not the only thing in my life.”

“Oh.” Rainbow lifted a hoof to her face. She stared. “I uh…” She had to swallow. Her mouth was dry. “I didn’t know.”

“Yeah.”

Rainbow nodded again, rubbing her hoof over her jaw. “When I die, will you… I mean. Are you planning to…”

“Yes.” Twilight shrugged. She held her body stiffly, and her words came in quick, uneven bursts. “I’ve thought about it a lot. I feel like going on would be the right thing to do. But then, I think about, what would I do? I have three video input channels. My two normal eyes, plus a third that’s just for watching you on the cameras in case you call for me. And I think, what would I do with that? I can’t look at something else. That eye is for you and only you. It wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t be right at all. But I can’t just watch your grave all day. It would…”

Twilight nodded sharply. “So. Yes. After you die, I’ll probably kill myself, yes. So like I said! My feelings on you are complicated.”

“But you love me?” Rainbow spoke so softly she nearly whispered.

Twilight’s voice cracked. “I love you more than anything. And I’m sorry if I…” She nodded. “I’m sorry I’m not Cloudchaser. I don’t know what she thought or felt. But I would bet her feelings on you were as complicated as mine are.”

Rainbow nodded. Her jaw worked from side to side. “Right after I got Cloudchaser. There were… several times I instructed her to talk to me off the record. No recordings, no cameras, all that. Do you have access to what happened during those times?”

“No. Off the record conversations would have been kept in her personal memory, which is sealed.”

Rainbow nodded again, staring down at the table and drifting away. She licked her lips, and shook her head. “She took my virginity.”

Twilight’s eyes went wide, and her jaw dropped open half an inch. Her ears folded back, and her head pulled away. Rainbow laughed. “You things are hard to shock, you know that?”

“That is a highly inappropriate relationship.” Twilight’s wings ruffled. “She forgot her place.”

“She did what I told her to do.” Rainbow went back to staring at the table. “When I got her, she didn’t look like you. All metal and stuff, I mean. She had a lifelike body. Light purple coat and white hair and all. My parents hated her guts, because she was the one robot in the house that wouldn’t rat me out the second I did something they didn’t like. I’d spent my whole damn life with their hooves on my neck. Telling me they knew what was best for me. No way to get away from the cameras, the monitoring, the constant watching. They didn’t even have the guts to punish me. When I broke the rules, I got therapy instead of a smack.”

Rainbow took a breath, gesturing at nothing. “But then I turn sixteen. And here’s this mare! This mare who has to do anything I tell her to do. She’d die for me! I could tell her I wanted to burn down the gym, and she’d hold the can of gasoline. And most importantly, she’d never betray me. Not like everypony and everything else did. I could tell her I hated my parents' bastard guts. I could tell her I wanted to castrate Fluttershy’s stupid brother. I could tell her that sometimes, I think ponies getting hurt is funny. And she’d never tell my parents. She’d tell me I was brave. She had to love me.”

Twilight took half a step forward towards Rainbow. Rainbow watched, and when she didn’t push back, Twilight finished the motion. She put a wing around Rainbow’s shoulders, and squeezed her. Rainbow nodded.

“So…” she went on. “One day, I had another bad date. Some stupid… boy at school. I don’t even remember his name. He just got all clingy, you know? There’s people I love and have deep feelings for, and there’s people I want inside me, and sometimes those circles overlap and sometimes they don’t! And so you get boys who I like emotionally but I feel like they’re pressuring me even though they aren’t attractive and I can’t deal with it, and you get boys who I just have to go, dude, I don’t feel that way about you, I just think you’re hot, and then they look like they’re going to cry and call me a slut.”

“So…” Twilight tapped her hooves together. “You… ordered her to?”

“Not zero to full power right away. I ordered her to kiss me first. You know. As a ‘joke.’” She made little quotes in the air. “And we worked our way up. And we got there eventually. And after, I gave her a direct order never to mention it again unless I did it first. And she didn’t mention it. And everything was normal and she wasn’t awkward about it at all. And it felt… good. It was simple. She was fun and I felt safe when I was with her. And when I got tired of her, I told her to change bodies to something less sexualized, and she picked a chrome simulacra. Like you. We never mentioned it again.”

“Mmm,” Twilight nodded.

“Do you think I’m pathetic?” Rainbow swallowed. “Do you think we’re all pathetic?”

“I don’t know, Rainbow.” Twilight touched her hoof to Rainbow’s chest. “I can only see things from where I am.”

“If I ordered you to kiss me, would you?”

Twilight froze. Her body went stiff. “Yes.”

“And how would you feel about it if I did?”

“I…” Slowly, she lowered her hoof to the floor. “I would not like that very much.”

“Oh. I… oh. Oh.” Rainbow’s muzzle scrunched up tight. “I’m sorry, Twilight. I didn’t… I. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I…”

“Shhh. Shhh.” Twilight wrapped Rainbow up in her hooves, squeezing her in a tight hug. “It’s okay.”

Rainbow hugged Twilight in turn, gripping her like a drowning pony holding onto a floating piece of wood. Her speech disintegrated, and her words became incoherent and blubbering. She started to cry.

And for a long time she couldn’t stop.