• Published 1st Apr 2018
  • 4,011 Views, 426 Comments

The Iron Horse: Human After All - The Hat Man



Turing Test is a robot pony. She's Equestria's Minister of Technology (it's a long story). When she learns of the untold advanced technology in the world of humans, however, she sets off on the ultimate field trip. Canterlot High has a new student...

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Falling for the First Time, Part 2

Sunset and Turing knocked on the door to Gadget’s house the next morning. The door opened, but it wasn’t Gadget who stood there or even one of her parents, but a little boy with orange and brown hair.

“Uh, hello,” Sunset said to the boy. “We’re here to see Gadget.”

The boy stared up at Sunset, his mouth dropping open.

“You’re pretty!” he said to her with a big grin on his face.

“Oh, uh… thanks?” she said.

The boy grinned. “I’m Fall Leaf! Why do you want to see Sis?”

“Sis?” Turing asked. “Ah, does this mean that you are Gadget’s brother?”

He nodded.

“We are here to study with Gadget. We hope to—”

“Your voice sounds funny,” he said, making a face.

“Ah. Well…”

“Now, that wasn’t very nice,” Sunset said, crossing her arms and looking down at Fall Leaf disdainfully.

“But it does!” Fall Leaf said. “And she looks kinda weird too. Is it because she’s a robot?”

“Actually, this is cos—”

“Oh the heck with it,” Sunset said, cutting her off. “Yes, she’s a robot. And I happen to like how her voice sounds and how she looks. How would you like it if someone said something mean like that to you?”

He looked down, pouting. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I was just kidding anyway.”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Well, you should apologize to her, not me.”

He sighed. “I’m sorry, Miss Robot,” he said, not meeting her eyes.

Turing shook her head. “It is all right. Still, if we could, we really must find your sister. And my name is Turing Test, by the way.”

“And I’m Sunset Shimmer,” she said, extending her hand to the boy.

Fall Leaf grinned, taking her hand. “Okay, Sunset. Come this way, I’ll take you to see Sis!”

He abruptly took off toward the basement door, yanking Sunset so hard she nearly lost her footing.

“Sis!” he shouted, pounding on her door. “Sis, open up!”

The sound of feel clamoring up the steps was heard and Gadget opened the door a moment later.

“Darn it, Fall Leaf!” she shouted. “Can’t you just knock like a normal per…son?” Her anger faded and her eyes went wide when she saw Sunset there in addition to Turing Test.

“Hello, Gadget,” Turing said. “I brought Sunset Shimmer with me today.”

Sunset turned to her. “Wait, you didn’t tell her that I was coming?” she asked.

“No, she certainly didn’t,” Gadget said, crossing her arms.

“I have heard it said that it is often easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission,” Turing said with a grin.

“That’s kind of underhanded, Turing,” Sunset said.

“It sure is,” Gadget said, scowling at her.

“You should just be glad someone wanted to hang out with you, Sis,” Fall Leaf said.

“Fall Leaf, I swear—”

“Usually she just hangs out alone in the basement all day,” he said, undaunted as he wore a bratty grin.

“Okay, that’s enough! Fall Leaf, mind your own business!” she shouted. To Sunset and Turing, she said, “You two: just come downstairs with me so we can talk about this in a brother-free zone.”

Sunset and Turing followed her down into the work area. Before Sunset could even properly take in the sight of the room, Gadget whirled on them both.

“Okay, why is she here?” she asked Turing Test, narrowing her eyes as she pointed at Sunset.

“Ah. You are more upset than I had anticipated,” Turing said. “Allow me to explain—”

“No, Turing,” Sunset said calmly, stepping toward Gadget. “Allow me.”

Gadget looked her up and down, eyeing her with distrust while taking a step back from her.

“I’m listening,” she said.

Sunset sighed. “Gadget, I wanted to apologize,” she said. “I treated you with more suspicion than I should have. And I was being overprotective of Turing Test. You didn’t deserve to be treated that way, and I’m sorry for acting the way I did.”

Gadget blinked. “R-really?” she asked.

Sunset smiled. “Really,” she said. “And I’m glad that you’ve been helping Turing Test so much. I’m here today because I want to help her too. And you, if that’s okay.”

Gadget put her hand to her chest. She gave them both a warm smile. “Y-you really want to help?” she asked.

Sunset nodded. Turing stepped beside her.

“I apologize for not telling you of her visit,” Turing said. “But you both have helped me on this trip so much that I thought it would be best if we could all work together. Still, I hope you can forgive me for omitting the truth.”

“Well,” Gadget said with a smile, “I guess you were right: it really is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. All right, I forgive you, Turing. And Sunset, you’re welcome in my home too.”

“I’m so glad,” Sunset said, returning the smile. “And now that we’ve got that over with, maybe it’s time you came clean to us as well.”

Gadget gave a start. “W-what do you mean?”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “You never did say how you detected Turing with that device of yours,” she said. “Or how you knew about Equestria. Or at least that there was another world. And something tells me that you knew who I was, too.”

Gadget gulped.

“I’m right, aren’t I?” Sunset said, crossing her arms as she gave Gadget a smug look. “It’s okay, but now that we’re all working together, you should probably tell the truth.”

Gadget heaved a sigh. “All right, you got me. I have been researching your world. Even if everyone outside the teenagers in this town thinks all the incidents surrounding Canterlot High are hoaxes, I know the truth. I’ve seen footage from the Musical Showcase and the Friendship Games that people took on their cell phones.

“I recognized your face as soon as I saw you, Sunset Shimmer. I knew you were present at both of those events, and probably involved in them both too.”

“Well, it’s a long story, but I’ll be happy to tell you everything,” Sunset said.

Gadget grinned. Then she paused, looking thoughtful. “So, that means you’re both… horse women?”

“Uh, ‘ponies’ will do just fine, but yeah.”

Gadget looked Sunset over from head to toe.

“Something wrong?” Sunset asked as she raised an eyebrow.

“I’m just having a hard time picturing you both as ho—er, ponies,” she said. Then she started to giggle. “Heh. But then again, there’s a pony version of me too. That’s so weird! I mean, what would I even look like with a tail?”

Her giggles became full-blown laughter, and soon Sunset couldn’t help but join in. The more they thought about it, the sillier it all seemed.

“Oh wow,” Gadget said after they’d calmed down. “Well, I should just tell you about everything I’ve been working on. I need to get some things first, but would you like a snack in the meantime?”

“A snack?” Sunset asked. “Um, sure, why not?”

Gadget grinned. “Watch this,” she said. “Ahem… Toaster!”

The mechanical toaster next to her workbench came to life. “Toaster - is - ready,” it intoned.

“Oh my!” Turing exclaimed. “You created a robot toaster?”

“Yep!” Gadget said proudly as she tossed her head back and placed her hands on her hips. “Sunset, just tell it how dark you want it and if you want anything on it.”

“Uh, okay,” she said. “I guess light toast with peanut butter?”

“Light. Peanut - butter. Confirm?”

“Confirm,” Gadget said.

“Now - toasting.”

“Pretty neat, eh?” Gadget asked. “It’s nothing compared to a robot like you, Turing, but I’m still pretty proud of it. Anyway, wait right here.”

She ducked into the next room, leaving Turing and Sunset alone.

“I am glad to see you both getting along,” Turing said to Sunset quietly.

“Yeah, she actually seems nice,” Sunset said. “I wonder what kind of research she’s been doing, though.”

Gadget returned a moment later, her arms filled with several devices and notebooks. She placed them all on her workbench and beckoned them over. She left again and returned with something that was inside a duffel bag that had been zipped shut.

“All right, Sunset, Turing Test… this is what I’ve been working on!” she proudly declared.

The two looked at each other, then back at Gadget.

“I believe you will have to explain further,” Turing said.

Gadget grinned. “Of course,” she said. “You see not long after I started with Everton, I caught wind of the things happening at Canterlot High. There were rumors and there was evidence, but it took me a while before I finally believed what they were telling me. They all came back to this one word: magic.”

Sunset’s patient smile vanished. “What?” she asked.

“Magic!” Gadget cried. “I built this device to detect it, and this one to capture it, and some of the others to measure its heat, radiation, and temperature. I’ve kept videos and notes about all my findings.”

“And you… found some?” Sunset asked, trying to stay calm.

“Heh,” Gadget chuckled, unzipping the duffel bag. “Feast your eyes!”

She opened the bag, revealing a glass jar with a glowing orb of pure magic levitating inside it.

“Ah,” Turing said. “Analyzing… results confirmed: it is indeed magic of Equestrian origin. It appears stable, though I have never seen such a concentration of neutral magical energy in one spot like this.”

“Oh really?” Gadget said, scratching her head. “I figured this stuff was just lying all over the place in your world. It wasn’t hard to find.”

Sunset swallowed. “It… doesn’t work in this world the same way as it does in Equestria,” she said. “So… you’ve been running experiments on this orb?”

Gadget wagged her finger, giving her a wink. “Not just this one,” she said.

Sunset’s throat went dry. “Y-you found more?”

“Lots more!” she cried. “I’ll show you!”

She led them both to the closet nearby and opened the door. She pulled the light switch and revealed the small pantry. The room was lined with wooden shelves, and on every one, there were more jars of magic.

“You certainly have been busy,” Turing remarked, her calm smile standing in contrast to the wide-eyed look Sunset wore. “Where did you find so much magic?”

“I’ve been collecting it from all around the city,” Gadget said. “I found the first one not far from Canterlot High and managed to capture it. I wish I had a better way to store it, but glass seems to be the only safe, non-reactive container available.

“Anyway, once I learned more about the first orb, I modified a Geiger counter to detect the unique energies it gave off. I’ve been searching all over to find more, and that’s how I found you, Turing. It turns out your thaumatrium reserves set it off by mistake.”

“It was fortunate that they did,” Turing said. “If they had not, we might not have met.”

“Good point!” Gadget laughed.

Turing then turned to face Sunset. “Sunset Shimmer? Are you well? I detect that your heart rate has increased dramatically. Are you perhaps excited about Gadget’s discoveries?”

Sunset tried to remain calm. “Excited… that’s… well, I’m certainly surprised,” she said. “Um, Gadget… what are you planning to do with all this magic?”

“Do?” Gadget echoed. “Are you kidding? Especially after what Turing’s told me, there may be no limit to what can be done! Magic-based computers, vehicles, generators, and maybe even more intelligent machines like Turing Test! With human engineering and Equestrian magic, we could create things no one ever thought possible! I bet I could rig up some kind of gun that would shoot rainbow-colored lasers like you and your friends used against those weird Siren girls!”

“Ah,” Turing Test said, her expression changing. “I would advise against utilizing magic for combat purposes.”

“Well, that was just an example,” Gadget said with a shrug. “We can talk about other applications later. Still, isn’t it exciting?! The possibilities are endless!”

Sunset only stared back at her. She was silent, but everything she and Twilight had discussed came back to her, flooding her mind.

A race of intelligent machines built practically overnight… Equestrian magic everywhere, available to every human in the world… she’s even nonchalantly talking about weaponizing it!

“Uh, hey, Sunset?” Gadget asked, frowning as she went over to her. “Are you okay? You look kind of pale.”

Sunset snapped out of it and focused on the girl in front of her. “Uh… sure,” she said slowly. “Hey, Gadget, do you mind if I talk to Turing Test for a few minutes? Alone?”

Gadget blinked. “Alone? Wait, why?”

Sunset forced herself to smile. “Just something I thought of that I wanted to discuss with Turing in private.”

Gadget bit her lip. “Oh, um… sure, that’s fine I guess.”

They exited the closet and found that the mechanical toaster had already popped the toast and a mechanical arm was spreading peanut butter on it.

“I’ll just go upstairs and let you two talk,” Gadget said, giving them an uncertain look over her shoulder. “Enjoy your snack, Sunset. I’ll be back soon.”

She made her way up the stairs and shut the door behind her.

Sunset sighed, taking the toast and taking a bite. She sank into a nearby chair, chewing thoughtfully.

“Sunset Shimmer?” Turing asked. “You are acting very strangely. What is wrong?”

Sunset swallowed and looked Turing in the eye. “Turing,” she whispered. “I’m sorry, but we cannot let Gadget keep this magic.”

Turing’s eyes widened. “What? Why not?”

***

Upstairs, Gadget went to her bedroom, shutting the door behind her. She sat down on her bed, took out her cell phone, and found a certain app. It connected with the hidden cameras she’d set up to catch her brother in case he started snooping around to mess with her things or steal her comics. Her finger hovered over the app.

I shouldn’t snoop, she thought. I’m just being paranoid. Turing is my friend now, and Sunset apologized… I should trust them.

And then a memory came to her…

“Hey, um, it’s Gadget, right?” said a voice over Gadget’s shoulder as she sat alone in the school library.

Gadget swallowed. “H-huh? Why do you want to know?”

“I’m really sorry,” the girl said with a warm smile on her face, “but this assignment is really tough. You don’t look like you’re having any problem in science class, though… could I ask for your help?” She blushed. “I guess I’m kinda dumb when it comes to this stuff, but my mom and dad are going to ground me if I fail the next science test.”

Gadget bit her lip. The girl was pretty, popular, and almost always surrounded by a huge group of friends. She ran with a different crowd, and she certainly had never spoken to her.

“I… I don’t know,” Gadget muttered, turning away.

“Please?” the girl asked plaintively. “I’d really appreciate it. It won’t even take too long, I promise!”

Gadget swallowed. The girl seemed so genuine. And her own parents had repeatedly urged her to try to make friends…

“Well… all right,” Gadget said, smiling back at her.

“Oh my gosh, thank you so much!” the girl said, pulling out a chair next to her. “By the way, my name’s Fair Weather.”

Gadget grinned. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said. “So, what’s the problem?”

And look at how that turned out, she though, shutting her eyes. But Sunset is… she wouldn’t be like that. Turing isn’t like that either. I should trust them…

Just the same, her paranoia wouldn’t leave her. Almost without thought, her finger hit the app, and the hidden cameras in her workspace turned on.

She selected one of the camera views and enabled the audio. She leaned in close. She heard every word.

***

“I’ll tell you why, Turing,” Sunset replied. “Two reasons: first of all, I’m honestly not sure this world is ready for magic. Maybe it never will be.”

“But Sunset Shimmer, you utilize magic.”

Sunset lightly touched the geode she wore around her neck. “That’s different,” she said. “This is magic that chose us. My friends and I only got these powers by using the magic of friendship, and we use it to help people and stop others who might misuse it.”

“You believe that Gadget will misuse the magic that she’s discovered?” Turing asked. She frowned. “I do not believe that. Gadget has only spoken of how she may help others with it.”

“It’s not necessarily her that I’m worried about, though,” Sunset said. “The other thing that worries me is the fact that magic in this world just doesn’t work the same way as it does in Equestria. It’s unstable and unpredictable. It reacts in strange ways, and a lot of humans who’ve tried to use magic for the wrong reasons end up transformed by it.”

She heaved a sigh. “I should know,” she said softly. “I was one of them.”

Turing’s expression turned from one of scorn to one of surprise.

“You, Sunset Shimmer?” she asked. “Twilight Sparkle informed that your first meeting with her was when you attempted to steal the Element of Magic, but she only stated that she recovered it. She did not mention any transformation.”

“I suppose I’d normally be glad about that,” Sunset said, “but this time I think you need to know the truth. When I finally got my hands on the Element, because of my corrupt desire to use it to get what I wanted, it warped me into a monster. And I mean that literally: an actual winged she-demon. And I wasn’t the last to have that happen.

“Turing… it happened to this world’s Twilight.”

Turing took a step back. “Twilight Sparkle? But how could that have happened?”

“She wanted to understand magic, just like Gadget, but others around her pressured her to use it recklessly to take advantage of the power she’d accumulated. Just like me, she became a shadow of herself. A lot of people could have been hurt… both worlds could have been put in jeopardy, and Twilight is normally one of the kindest, least threatening people I know. The point is that magic, even if it can be used in all the ways Gadget says, could easily bond to someone else, take their corrupt desires, and do something horrible to them too!

“That’s why we should take it from Gadget, Turing. Just like Twilight, she wants to understand magic no matter what the cost. But magic bonds to people with strong feelings, and Gadget’s obsession with it might be even greater than Twilight’s ever was! If the magic ever gets loose, Gadget might not be able to help herself, and then we could all be in danger.”

Turing paused, thinking that over. “Gadget seems to be taking every precaution,” she said. “Can we not trust her?”

“Turing, think about what her work might mean. It was hard enough for you to make your own way in Equestria with a princess helping you. If Gadget creates more robots like you in this world with magic, how will they be treated? Isn’t it possible they might be treated worse? And unlike you, if she sells her designs or someone steals them, there could be hundreds or thousands of robots like that! They could end up slaves, Turing Test.

“And to top it all off, Gadget didn’t even bat an eye when she suggested weaponizing magic! You heard what she said: laser guns!”

Turing shut her eyes and bowed her head. "I admit that such a thought disturbed me as well," she said quietly. "My father also attempted to use technology to weaponize magic, and his attempts also began to corrupt his mind and placed Equestria in great danger. Please recall, however, that Gadget gave that only as an example based on what she had seen. We may well be able to convince her not to pursue such applications. Would that not be sufficient?"

Sunset sighed. “I’m not sure that it would be, Turing,” she said softly. “You might think of her as the same Gadget you know in Equestria, but she’s not. The truth is that this Gadget is… well, she’s isolated and unhinged and obsessive. I know what it’s like to be all of those things, and that’s why we just can’t trust her with all this magic. Even with the best of intentions, the temptation to use this kind of power could overwhelm her. And even if she were strong enough to resist it, other humans might not be, and the damage could be irreversible. And with technology on their side and the allure of magic, they might turn their attention to the origin of that magic.”

Turing’s eyes widened. “Equestria,” she surmised. “They may come to Equestria to seek more.”

“If one human corrupted by magic was a threat, imagine hundreds,” Sunset said, narrowing her eyes. “Or thousands. We have to protect Equestria from humans and protect the humans from themselves, and that starts by stopping Gadget’s research before it gets out of control.”

Turing said nothing for a moment. Then she shut her eyes and bowed her head. “Understood,” she said quietly. “Very well, Sunset Shimmer. When Gadget returns, we must convince her to allow us to take the magic she has collected back to Equestria. It is the best thing for the safety of everyone involved.”

***

Gadget stared at the screen. Her chest felt tight. She covered her mouth, stifling the sob that was threatening to escape her.

“Not again,” she whispered. “Turing Test, Sunset… I thought you were different…”

“Hey, Fair Weather!” Gadget called, waving to her new friend when she spotted her down the hallway.

Fair Weather was surrounded by her friends, all laughing at some joke or funny story that they’d just heard. At the sound of Gadget’s voice, however, Fair Weather froze and glanced over her shoulder at her. But as soon as she saw her, she turned back, as if she hadn’t heard.

Gadget blinked. Had Fair Weather not seen her? She shrugged, maintaining her smile, and went over to her.

“Fair Weather!” she said, coming up behind her. “Hey, Fair Weather! How did it go?”

Fair Weather turned to look at her. Before she could say anything, another of her friends said, “Um, excuse you, this is a private conversation.”

“O-oh,” Gadget said, holding her books tightly to her chest. “I’m, um… I’m sorry, I just wanted to ask Fair Weather about the test, and—”

“Oh my gosh, do you, like, think about anything else besides tests?” said another girl. “Or playing with dumb toys?” she added snidely, getting a laugh from the others.

Gadget’s cheeks burned. “I, um,” she mumbled. “Yes, I do, b-but… well, I helped Fair Weather study, and I, um…”

They slowly turned to look at her before giving Fair Weather a questioning look.

“Well, it was no big deal,” Fair Weather said, giving them a shrug. “My parents said I had to pass or they wouldn’t let me go on that trip during the break. I just asked her for a little help.”

It hadn’t been “a little.” It had been a few hours of tutoring after school.

“Anyway, I passed,” Fair Weather said. “So, thanks, okay?”

She turned away.

“W-well, about the trip,” Gadget said. “You said if you passed the test and could go, that I could go too, remember?”

The other girls all gawked at Fair Weather.

Fair Weather remained calm. She only glanced back over her shoulder at Gadget.

“I said maybe you could go,” she said. “Well, what do you all think? Should we take her with us?”

“No way,” one said flatly.

“You’re joking, right?” said another.

Yet another just laughed. The others joined in.

Gadget felt hot. She could feel her cheeks flushing and knew she must be turning bright red, which made her even more self-conscious.

“Guess the answer’s no,” Fair Weather said, with a shrug. “Thanks for the help, though. Anyway, bye.”

Gadget only stood there. Her voice caught in her throat, but she opened her mouth, working her jaw to say something. Her eyes began to sting.

Fair Weather raised her head and looked over her shoulder at her once again, not even bothering to turn to face her. “You can go now,” she said.

Gadget slowly backed away. Her lip began to quiver, so she turned away and left hurriedly, hearing more laughter behind her. As she went down the hallway, she felt everyone’s eyes on her as she tried to avoid bursting into tears.

As the vivid memory played out, she could still feel the anger and humiliation of that day when she realized that she’d just been used. She swore that she’d never be so gullible as to let someone manipulate her like that again. But now...

She stared back at the image on the screen of Turing Test and Sunset. Thinking back on the incident with Fair Weather, she wondered if the girl had ever been her friend, or if she’d felt pressured into betraying Gadget by her petty friends.

Petty, hostile girls who thought they could just treat others any way they pleased.

Girls like Sunset Shimmer, who had turned Turing Test against her.

“Turing,” she breathed, feeling a lump in her throat. “I thought you understood…”

She swallowed and turned off her phone. She got up and exited her room.

“Sis?” Fall Leaf asked as she passed by his room. “I thought you were downstairs with your friends.”

She turned to face him. Whatever smart-mouthed comment he had for her died away the instant he saw her face.

“S-sis?” he asked, seeing the tears welling up in her eyes.

“Fall Leaf, could you go play with your friends next door?” she asked quietly.

“Umm… why do you—”

“Fall Leaf, please,” she breathed.

He swallowed and nodded, deciding it was best not to argue. He ran past her, out through the front door, shutting it behind him.

Feeling numb and lightheaded, she clenched her fists and took a deep breath to steel herself.

I won’t let them treat me this way, she said. I won’t let them take this away from me too!

She made her way to the basement door and began descending the steps.

“Ah. Gadget, you have returned,” Turing said, getting up to greet her. “Sunset Shimmer and I were discussing something—”

“I know,” she mumbled, walking right past her.

Turing watched her closely. She could hear her beating heart’s quickened pace, and her oddly tense posture was obvious to them both.

“Gadget, are you well?” she asked.

Gadget didn’t reply as she went to her workbench. She placed her hands on it, bracing herself as she heaved a sigh. She glanced at one of the devices she’d brought out among the others earlier: the gauntlet.

If they try to steal my research from me… I have to be ready to stop them…

Sunset watched her carefully. “Gadget, listen, there’s something we need to talk to you about,” she said slowly.

Gadget scowled. “I’ll bet you do,” she said, as she removed the gauntlet, pulling it over her hand and down over her forearm. She flexed her fingers gingerly. She picked up the jar of magic she’d left there.

“Gadget, are you sure you’re okay?” Sunset asked. “You’re… acting kind of strange right now.”

“You don’t have to pretend that you care about me,” she said. “I know you want to steal my research.”

Sunset blanched. “You… you heard us?”

Gadget pointed at a tiny camera placed in the rafters just above them.

Sunset gawked. “Turing, didn’t you notice those?!” she cried.

“I did,” Turing replied, “but I did not know that she would activate them.”

Gadget grit her teeth. Her anger flaring up inside her. “Well, I did. And I heard everything you said.” She turned to glare at them, then made her way to the pantry. She reached up to place the orb back on the shelf.

“Gadget, we are sorry,” Turing said as she followed her. She stood in the doorway.

“Sorry?!” Gadget cried, whirling around on her. “Turing, I thought you understood me! I thought we were going to help each other!”

Turing frowned. She placed a hand to her chest. “Gadget, that is still true,” she said. “I am trying to help you now.”

“No you aren’t,” Gadget said, scowling at her. “You’re just trying to make yourself feel better about stabbing me in the back!”

Sunset came up behind Turing, and Gadget’s expression darkened.

“And it’s all your fault!” Gadget shouted, pointing an accusing finger at Sunset.

Sunset gave a start and stared back at her. “Me?! Gadget, I—”

“I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you! You’re just like everyone else; you just want to take advantage of me and then leave once you’ve got what you want!”

“What? Gadget what are you talking abou—”

“Don’t you dare pretend like you don’t know!” Gadget shouted. “Get out of my house! Both of you!”

Sunset opened her mouth to speak, but Turing spoke first, cutting her off. “Gadget, please listen to us. I apologize for upsetting you. However, if you heard our conversation, then you must know that we are concerned about your wellbeing.”

Gadget bared her teeth. “My wellbeing?!” she shouted. “My research is the most important thing in my life, and you’re planning to take it away from me! Do you know how much time I’ve put into this?! Do you know what Everton would do if I came up empty-handed for my next report?! What am I supposed to do if you take it all away?!”

Sunset sighed. “Gadget, I know this seems cruel, but listen—”

“No, you listen!” she shouted, pointing an accusing finger at them both. “I trusted you both, I let you into my home, and you betrayed me! Turing, y-you…” She sucked in a breath, angry tears spilling out and running down her cheeks. “I th-thought… I thought you were my friend!”

Turing frowned. “I am, Gadget,” she said quietly. “Please believe me when I say that I am. It is because you are my friend that I do not wish to see you hurt. Perhaps if we could discuss this matter, we could find a solution to our dilemma.”

“I’m not discussing anything with you!” she screamed. “You’re both liars! You think you can just come here and steal human technology, but you won’t share what your world has to offer? That you can just take what you want and leave?! You’re only looking out for yourselves! I heard what you said: ‘We have to protect Equestria from humans and protect the humans from themselves,’ right?”

Sunset winced. “Gadget, what I meant was—”

“Well, if you think you can just look down your nose at us humans and take advantage of us without giving us anything back, then think again!”

“But Gadget, if I wished to take advantage of you,” Turing said, “then why would I have taught you about my inner workings?”

“And how exactly am I supposed to replicate the technology that makes you sapient without magic?” Gadget asked.

Turing fell silent. They both knew that she’d never be able to do so without the magical runic encoding that Turing utilized.

“That’s what I thought,” Gadget scoffed. She grinned in spite of herself. “Well, I’m going to use this magic to make this world a better place, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me!”

“Gadget, you have it all wrong,” Turing said, moving toward her. She reached out with a hand.

Gadget gasped. “K-keep away from me!” she shouted and held up a gauntleted hand, her palm outstretched.

All at once, Turing’s body froze, her joints locking up. She only stood there like a statue.

“Turing?” Sunset asked. “What’s happening?!”

“My body has become unresponsive!” Turing cried. “I cannot move!” She managed to focus her eyes on the gauntlet Gadget wore. “Magic… I detect a magical signature coming from that device.”

“I didn’t want to use this,” Gadget said, fixing her eyes on Turing. “But now you know what we humans are capable of. I call this machine ‘The Technomancer.’ It’s a device that allows me to control any machine I want with my thoughts. I didn’t want to use it on you, Turing, but you’re not leaving me any choice!”

“Gadget, let her go!” Sunset shouted. She moved to step around Turing in the tiny pantry.

“Stay back!” Gadget shouted, clenching her gauntleted fist.

Turing suddenly moved, elbowing Sunset hard in the stomach as she attempted to pass by, causing her to stagger back as she gasped for air. She collapsed to her knees.

“Sunset Shimmer!” Turing cried. “I am so sorry! I did not mean to do that!”

Sunset only clutched her stomach but glared up at Gadget. “Let… let her go…” she wheezed.

Turing narrowed her eyes. “Gadget,” she said sternly, “no matter what you may think, I will not allow you to harm my friends. And I certainly will not allow you to force me to do so either.”

Overriding system control. Diverting power to servos…

Slowly, stiffly, Turing began to move forward like a soldier trudging through thick mud.

“W-what?” Gadget cried. “How? Stay back! You keep away from me!”

Turing felt her controls resist her even more and channeled as much power as she could into her limbs to counter it.

“Stop!” Gadget pleaded, growing ever more hysterical. “I won’t let you take my research away! I won’t let you! Stop! Please, stop!”

All at once the gauntlet made a loud popping sound and sent a shower of sparks flying. All the resistance Turing felt was gone and she lurched forward without control. She slammed hard into Gadget, smashing her against the wooden shelves before stumbling backward, her balance lost and her systems trying to compensate.

Gadget slumped to the floor with a groan.

“Ugh,” she moaned. Then she looked up. The jars of magic lined on the shelf above had been knocked over and were rolling around. She watched as a few of the jars seemed to roll in slow motion over the edge. They tumbled down toward her.

She shielded herself with her arms as the jars crashed all around her, the glass shattering. She was surrounded by the uncontained orbs which began to glow ever brighter. They moved toward her.

“No,” she whimpered, her eyes wide with fear. “No no no no no no no—”

There was a flash of light, and the whole house went dark. Turing’s systems momentarily glitched out, and she nearly lost power. Through the chaos, she saw the gauntlet began to spark and glow and in the momentary showers of sparks caught sight of Gadget’s body convulsing.

Then everything went black. There was silence.

“Gadget,” Sunset whispered, her throat dry and her stomach still aching. “Are you okay?”

Out of the darkness, there came a low chuckle, followed by the sound of her breathing. They both heard the sound of shoes scraping on the floor as she took a few steps toward them. They heard the gauntlet clatter on the ground as Gadget shed it. In the darkness, they saw her hand. It was glowing.

“You want to know if I’m… ‘okay?’” said a strange, synthetic-sounding voice that crackled with distortion.

The lights slowly flickered on. Gadget stood before them like some sort of wraith, a shadow of the meek girl they knew. A giggle escaped her as she gave them an uneven, twisted grin. She began to levitate off the ground, a strange energy billowing about her, tossing her jacket and hair wildly as if she rode upon some ethereal wind. Her glasses seemed to glow pure white, obscuring her eyes as she looked down at them. The entire left side of her body, from her face down to her toes, was covered in scrolling ones and zeroes that glowed green.

“I feel much better than just ‘okay’,” she laughed, her voice a distorted electronic crackle that rapidly changed in pitch. In a more even voice, she said: “In fact, I feel like everything is going to go my way from now on...”

To be continued…

Author's Note:

Next time: Now corrupted by magic, Gadget hatches a new plan that may have grave consequences for both worlds... right after she deals with two 'traitors'...

References:

  • The title's double meaning becomes more obvious in this chapter: in addition to the reasoning behind the choice discussed in the last chapter, here we see Gadget's fall as she's corrupted by the magic she's accumulated.
  • Gadget refers to Sunset and Turing as "horse women." This references the "Friendship is Witchcraft" parody of Equestria Girls, entitled - you guessed it - "Horse Women." A shame it'll probably never be completed. Oh well... "Pony Princess good; High School great!"
  • Fair Weather's name is derived from the term "fair-weather friend," meaning "One who is friendly, helpful, or available only when it is convenient to be so." This reflects that she's only nice to Gadget when she needs help, and abandons her once she doesn't need help anymore.

See you next time!

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