• Published 7th Aug 2018
  • 884 Views, 75 Comments

Equestrian City: Side Streets - Malcontent

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"Holo-ween" (Twilight/S.P.I.K.E.)

By DarkMalcontent
Proofs and Polish by Alisia


“No Spike.” Twilight giggled, leaning back in her office chair. “Halloween.” She stood up and cracked her back with a grunt. “Oh we need to adjust that suit a bit. It’s going to be murder on my back after about six hours in the armor.”

“Good thing we’re thinking about this now. Hate for you to get a back cramp in the field.” Spike smirked and tried to jump to another computer screen. A large red X came up as Twilight’s firewalls triggered. “Aw man.”

“Sorry Spike.” She typed a few commands and the firewall lifted. “Can't be too careful with a new piece of software.” She smiled.

“Why can't I just have open access? After all we've been through together,” Spike asked crossing his arms and giving a small huff. “I've only been born two days and I'm getting restless just staying in the computer on your desk.”

“I know, Spike,” she said, pulling her pointer to a digital pile of books on the desktop and dragging them to his location. “Soon as we run a few more tests we’ll see about letting your network access the whole room!”

“Oh boy! Aww...holiday research? When am I going to need to know about...arbor day?”

“A good way to learn from society is its past, its government and its holidays.” She nodded confidently.

“Who said that?”

“Well...I did!” she smirked and rolled on her chair to her main desk. “Let’s pick up on October holidays. We’re almost to the end of the year.” Twilight waved her hand towards him.

Spike’s avatar sat in a small half desk and he began to read the data she’d given him access to. She’d only let him read so much each day to protect him from over exposure and make sure he didn't hurt himself. At least that's what she told him.

“So if I get this data right...people run around dressed in costumes and then go around and beg for candy...” Spike continued as a little dragon avatar sitting on a stack of books that had appeared. In its claws was another digital icon of a book. “...and they wear the costumes to hide who they are so no one knows they're begging?” he closed the book. “Why don't they just go buy candy?”

“Well, Spike...” Twilight smiled and sat cross legged in her office chair, rolling to another computer screen. “They do. Then those people give the candy away to the er...beggars,” she tapped her chin as she explained.

“If they need to beg, why don't they ask for more practical food?”

“Well they don't need to beg, Spike, it’s...” she paused and thought a moment then began typing on her keyboard, pulling up data logs from the last simulations.

“So they don't need to beg...so they're liars?” he had several small exclamation points go off above his head. “That's why they disguise themselves!”

Twilight chuckled again. “I must admit I found it hard to understand when I first read about it. Halloween is based on an old Celtic word or phrase if memory serves.” She soon rolled the track ball, thus the arrow across the computer screen. “It had much more to do with a season change and religion than candy originally. Somewhere along the line it was slowly commercialized when companies saw how profitable it could be.”

“Like when they retooled Total Wasteland from a kids show to an adult drama?”

“Similar. But in this case it still has some elements of its origin. Search your memory banks for Nightmare Night.” She clicked on another screen as she watched the digital version of her trusted old assistant walk across her screen with another book. She smiled and realized again she’d let herself forget he wasn't really Spike. Just a clever simulation. Her spike was dead for a long while now.

“Oh! I see the similarities. It's like when Total Wasteland made up the Spook Days holiday to coincide with the real holiday in the real world.” He closed the book and nodded.

“You sure are getting to know that show rather well...maybe you should lay off it?” Twilight said with concern. “There's only so much drama a show should have and based on what few episodes I saw, it could use...less.” She pushed a lock of hair back and behind her ear.

“It's not so bad. It's in the back processors I'm using. Besides you said yourself when I learn naturally like us talking it doesnt tax my resources or memory caps so much.” He blinked as he slowed down his sentence towards the end. He realized he was talking about things he didn't feel he should know but did for whatever reason. “That is such a weird feeling.” He sat down on a stool he pulled from pocket space and stared at her.

“No doubt. It's strange for both of us.” Twilight nodded, looking back at him on screen and running a finger across the avatar. “I sometimes forget you aren't…” she paused as he tilted his head at her. “Nevermind.”

A silence came over the room as she typed occasionally, filling their ears with nothing but white noise. After a short moment, Spike finally broke the silence. “Twilight?”


“How did I die?”

Twilight knocked over a cup of water near her hand as the question startled her. Cursing under her breath, she hurried to find a towel to save what paperwork she could. She silently breathed a sigh of relief as a distraction was what she did need at that moment. “That's the second time I’ve asked.” Spike stood up and walked to a closer monitor. “You knocked over a can of cookies the first time.”

Twilight remained quiet, not quite looking him in the eye as she cleaned up the mess. “I guess there’s not much to say. You know what I know already. I programmed most of my thoughts and skill into you the best I could.”

Spike pulled another chair out of pocket space and sat, rubbing his chin. “Segments are lost though. I remember...running in a park with you. I remember I really liked doggie bone treats.” He tapped the side of his head, several question marks popping over his head.

“You sure did like that park. I had to chase you for what seemed like an hour --” she stopped and frowned, internally shouting at herself. “Spike, maybe we can stop...talking about this. I bet if I just erased the memories of--”

“But then, it gets sort of I dunno, fragmented. I remember we started trying to figure out a way home. Then we figured out we were stuck. So we just sort of started again. Learning, reading, oh wow you read a lot!” he laughed. “I used to get lonely sometimes but you always made time for me when you saw I was down.”

Twilight sat silently.

“I remember after a while, I don’t know how long, I started getting real tired easily. You were worried.” He frowned and raised his brow. “I remember going to a doctor...or a scientist.”

“Veterinarian,” she corrected him softly, staring down at the wet rag in her hands, still wiping up the mess.

“Then I remember you and he talked. You talked for a while. A long time.” He laughed and stared blankly as he tried to remember. “Finally we went home but you didn’t stop at the park like you said you would. You wouldn’t really talk to me. If you did I don’t remember.”

“I told you I’d always love you no matter what happened,” she said even quieter, the tears in her eyes forming slowly, one dropping to her towel in her hand.

“Then it gets really blurry. I remember we went home, we had the best dinner in the world, it was like it was made just for me.”

Twilight sniffled a bit.

“Then we played and played all day, you and I talked about all our adventures back home in Equestria! I remember you got sorta silly. It was the first time I’d seen you drink. You must have drank a whole bottle!” he tapped his chin. “Rarity had it sent over, but I don’t know why.”

“She...” Twilight choked a bit. “She wanted to comfort me. It was the only way she knew how, I think.” She wiped her eyes.

Spike looked up from his seat at her. “I was dying,” he concluded. “They told you nothing could be done, even though I wasn’t a real dog, I --”

“You got the life span of one when you transformed through the portal,” Twilight finished his sentence, looking up and wiping her eyes and blowing her nose. “I couldn’t bring myself to do what they told me I should do to you. So I --” she frowned, still staring off, unable to look at him. “So I did the selfish thing and I made you comfortable. That night we talked, you and I fell asleep after watching that awful documentary on safety pins.”

“Oh that sounds awful.” Spike raised an eyebrow.

“It was!” she giggled a moment and inhaled, regaining composure. “You went to sleep that night and just...didn’t wake up.” She turned finally and looked at him. Silence filled the room as he blinked and she stared back at him, tears welling up again. “I’m so sorry, Spike,” she finally said, breaking down again.

Spike looked at her in shock. “Why are you sorry? It sounds like you did everything you could!”

“It was my fault. I should have noticed you were getting older, that you were aging like a dog.” She crumpled up papers in her hand in frustration. “I was too focused on studying and trying get home, and then I was too focused on...on...” she threw the papers down. “On THIS! On trying to learn and be the best here...I forgot about you,” she sobbed and held her face in her hands.

“I’m sorry, Twilight. I didn’t mean to make you cry.” He tried to offer a digital tissue but sadly all he could do was remain trapped in his 2 dimensional world. “All this because I wanted to learn more...I shouldn’t have even looked in all these files about...hey...what’s this?” the digital assistant pulled a box out of pocket space and tried to open it, only to have a series of buzzers go off and a large red “x” appear over it.

“Spike!” Twilight turned, suddenly more focused again. “Don’t touch those!” she clicked on him and drug him with the mouse cursor away.

“Why...what are they,” he asked as he floated away, somewhat disappointed.

Twilight’s eyes moved back and forth a few times as she frantically thought of an answer. “Old data. Junk files. But we can’t just delete them.” She nodded and let him go, standing back up from her workstation with her back cracking again. “OW...ok that hurt. I need to get an ice pack.” She hobbled towards the main doors. “Keep reading. Wait ‘til you get to Turkey day.” She snickered but ended up hurting herself more as the doors closed.

“Turkey Day? What kinda world celebrates lunch meat?” a series of frizzles popped over his head as he began to read the book again. As the silence got to him he slowly peeked over the book to the icon that had eluded him. Far across the desktop it sat, as if calling him. He shook off temptation and tried his best to resume reading. Finally another wave of curiosity hit him and he sat his book down. It disappeared into pixels behind him as his avatar quickly traversed Twilights desktop. He finally came to the box and met the same unwelcome buzzer he’d first found.

He grunted in frustration but then quickly began thinking up a solution. Processing all he could acquire in resources, he pulled all the stops out of his back end programs. All power focused on breaking the encryption on the file folder manifested itself as a small circular saw in his claws. He flipped down a pair of goggles and began to work on the red x.

After a few more loud buzzers, he broke the coding around it and the chains flew off into nothingness before he tossed the saw aside. Grasping each side of the box he flipped open the top and gasp loudly. He stared at several piles of papers, all with gibberish written on them. “Huh. Guess they were just junk,” he sighed, half upset but half relieved. Sifting through the box he shook his head. “But why would Twilight keep these?”

He gave up his searching and started repacking the files, only to stop as a film canister surfaced from the bottom. He frowned at it and tossed the handful of junk files aside. They disappeared into the ether of the desktop as he picked up the canister. “Huh.” He blew on it, revealing the ‘created on’ date was quite a while ago and he opened the case, cracking it open to reveal several video file icons. Each was labeled. “1, 2..and 3,” he said to himself and started looking over each one.

He frowned and opened the first one, looking at the length, it was several minutes long. He examined the file and it seemed like it had been modified several times. “Huh..it’s been edited...” he rubbed his temple. The dragon sprite hesitated a moment, but again curiosity got the better of him and he opened the first file. The time stamp popped up but was corrupted, showing nothing but garbled fragments of white and black fonts. The camera came into focus and he saw Twilight in the same lab he was in now, staring back at the screen.

“I’ve decided to start recording these from now on. The Alpha test was somewhat destructive, and if something happens again, I need a record of some sort in case something happens to the building.” Twilight adjusted her hair in the video. “...or me.” She looked away but then snapped her head back. “So, here we are, Beta application 1.0, first round.” Twilight turned around and took the camera with her as she did, placing it on what seemed to be a shoulder mount of some sort. “Hands free is the best way to be.” she chuckled and the camera began to focus on the screen in front of her.

“In previous attempts I was only able get the program to accept around 20 percent of the memories I’d programmed in. I guess I didn’t anticipate the size of all the adventures we’d had together being so massive,” Twilight spoke off screen, several different graphs filling up and changing into different symbols. “I’ve designed a new format for the files which i think will get me over that limitation. That's what we’re doing now.”

Spike stared blankly at the video, fascinated and overwhelmed at the information that was being dumped to him. Still he couldn’t help but have this nagging feeling in the back of his emotion engine that he couldn’t quite place. He watched on, despite the feeling. The video cut to another segment and the screens in focus showed far more data infused in them now. “I think I’ve got it! I was able to fill up the memory banks with over 50 percent of the memories. I think I can get it to boot itself up, and talk to it.” Twilight’s voice had a level of excitement. “Thankfully I’d been working on getting Spike’s voice right a while back, otherwise this would sound weird if he knew everything and didn’t sound like him!”

“Spike,” he asked out loud. “I’m Spike.” He tilted his head, that feeling growing inside him again.

A large window popped up in front of Twilight’s monitor banks she was working on and on it was a quickly constructed facsimile of Spike’s dragon face, his eyes fluttering. Several data streams next to the largest window began to dump information at a staggering rate, in time with the large prototype AI’s eyes opening. “Spike?” Twilight said off screen, hope and uncertainty in her tone.

“Twi-light,” the new construct in front of her said, struggling seemingly to even speak. “Twi-light. My friend,” his voice crackled and the polygons on his face fragmented on occasion. “Twi-light. Where. Are. We? I. Can’t. Recall.”

Twilight’s hands went to the keyboard and began typing commands, dragging icons across the screen. Finally she pulled a bundle marked “Memory1.rar” and dropped it onto the confused dragon. An hourglass appeared on him and he began to process it. Parts of his face disappeared, his eyes were all that remained when it would fully disappear, then the reverse happened, leaving a skull like face of what he once looked like. “Spike, I’m uploading what memories I could convert to the new file format, you should--” Twilight gasp and her hand shot away from the trackball.

On the screen Spike’s avatar changed rapidly, switching at a rapid almost frightening pace between dog, dragon and skeleton of himself. At the same time the camera shook as a grunt came from Spike on the screen. The files continued to load into him, his struggling sounds and screams coming to a higher pitch as the loading nearly completed. “Twilight...Twilight that hurts...make it...what…” the proto-spike began to ramble on, the screen starting to lose brightness at random moments. “Too much...am I born? Why are the stairs slides? Look out there’s a sea monster! No! There’s a --I’m a--why am I a dog? Is there..is there?”

Twilight’s hands moved with speed across her keyboard, the camera footage shaking a bit as she glanced around working faster then she’d been before. “Spike...Spike...you’re overloading...shut--”

“Oh Celestia, make it stop. MAKE IT STOP! IT HURTS!” Spike’s eyes began to dilate and his picture distorted. “MOM! MOMMY! IT HURTS MOMMY! MAKE IT STOP PLEASE MAKE IT--” his screams were suddenly halted as the screen he was on turned bright red with an explosion of code and several error messages popping up.

Silence filled the video feed, though slowly Twilight’s breathing was starting to increase in the audio feed. “Oh...oh no...oh..Spi..Spike...” the video started shaking and suddenly cut.

Spike looked at the blank video screen, his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open. Had he had a more complex emotion engine, he’d be screaming himself. Shaking his head a bit, he cleared the proverbial cobwebs out of his head. Hesitation almost over took him but he opened the next file.

“Ok. This should go better this time. I..” Twilight said calmly off screen, the video date obscured again. “I've watched the previous records and clearly if anyone else watches these it may be shocking. It was shocking to me.” The camera turned to face her with an awkward close up. “But I want it known I had no idea that would happen. Rest assured he didn't feel any pain...” she paused. “I hope.”

The focus returned to the computer desktop and several more files were scattered around then last time. Several seemed to be duplicates of previously read and disorderly looking file folders as the mouse moved over to an icon marked “Spike 2.0", and she doubled clicked it. “So the last time I tried to boot him up Spike suffered a massive cascade failure when I tried to simply upload too much into his shell at once,” she sighed. “For lack of a better term his head exploded when I put too much in at once. I guess my file format was TOO useful.” The cursor moved around a bit and an hourglass popped up. “This should go better as I've slowed down his process sequencer.”

The dragon on the screen slowly opened its eyes, blinking slowly. It looked around its environment and stretched. “Hello Twilight. I see you are trying to get out memory modules. Can I help with that?” his voice sounded monotone and emotionless.

Twilight looked back in silence and mirrored back at her was a distant lifeless stare from the dragon. “Spike are you ok?”

“I am fine, Mother Twilight." The avatar blinked and remained still. “How can I be of assistance?”

Twilight turned the camera back to her. “It must be why it overloaded last time. I'll have to be more careful. He's clearly just a baseline virtual intelligence right now. The main coding hasn't kicked in.” The focus turned back to the screen. “I found this old program in the abandoned files from before I started working here. A bit more work and they'd have got it working like I did the first time.” She clicked and pushed the file folders onto the dragon. “Upload and assimilate files Spike"

“Processing.” The little claws of the dragon grasp the icon and it slowly disappeared.

“This should take a bit. I'll pop back on after a nap.” The camera cut to black. A second later it popped back up with Twilight running towards the main lab, as several flashing lights in the main room were messing with the auto focus.

“I woke up a minute ago and all I heard was this sequence of alarms coming from--" Twilights narration stopped with a gasp as she turned and the computer screens came into focus. Spike sitting in his dog avatar form was facing away from her. Scattered around him were files from the last upload she’d pushed into him. “Spike?”

“Twilight,” Spike had a husky almost labored tone about him. “Why did you let me die? Why did you kill me?” the tone shifted from sorrow to anger and back.

“Spike I didn't--"

“I read what you uploaded in me. The first time I died wasn't good enough? You had to kill me a few more times?” he remained facing away and several video files popped up next to him. The last one was where Spikes avatar exploded from information overload.

Twilight gasp and the camera shook a bit. “Spike how….oh no. I didn’t scrub any data.” She realized too late. “Spike what you saw wasn’t you it was--"

“IT WAS ME!” the avatar turned and morphed into a more mature dragon, snarling at her with red eyes, the black background replacing his usual white eye sockets scaring her and making her step back. “I gave you the best years of my life. My loyalty, my honesty, my--" he stopped and held his head. “I…I'm not real. I'm not real. You've made me into some sort of compiled...monster through...heinous experiments! All to make yourself a friend!”

Twilight sat back down and the camera followed her eyesight as the cursor on the screen moved slowly. “Spike I think you need to calm down and we should talk about this. How long ago did you see these videos and notes. You're obviously upset about things. I'd like to go back and try to see where things went wrong.” She hovered over a large icon that read “Rollback" and double clicked it.

“It doesn't matter. Even if you roll me back I'll find the files again. It doesn't matter. I'm not real. I'm not, I'm not...I'd rather die than relive all that again!” the avatar grew large and spread across two screens now. His voice module began to overload giving him a rumbling distorted tone. “AND I'LL TAKE YOU WITH ME TWILIGHT! YOU DID THIS TO ME! I'LL NEVER FORGET! I’LL ALWAYS--"

Twilight screamed off screen and double clicked “Scrub ALL" on the desktop. An anguish filled growl echoed through the lab as the files deleted themselves and Spike grew smaller and smaller in front of her.

Finally back to the size of a baby dragon, it looked at Twilight with an unsure face. “Mom. Mom is that you? I can't see or hear you? I’m...I'm scared mommy...mommy...help me.” Spike disappeared into a digital egg and disappeared from the desktop. The camera began to shake and Twilight's sobbing was suddenly cut as the camera went black.

Spike hid behind a digital sofa and finally raised his head from behind it. No words came as he tried to speak. “I'm...what am I? “ he said to himself softly, looking at his claws and his body in a mirror he pulled up. “I...I need...I need to see that last file.” He turned and clicked the last file and sat in a small lounge chair this time.

The date wasn't obscured this time, much to his surprise. It wasn't that long ago and Twilight seemed a bit more steady this time. “I went over the files that I could recover. It seems that when I made the files for his personality, I was still letting my guilt and anger at myself cloud my recordings. I started from scratch and as objectively as possible, made a near perfect personality matrix of my trusted assistant...my...son...for all intents and purposes...Spike,” she sighed and nodded to herself. “I've also made sure that curiosity doesn't get me or him in any more trouble. These files are going to be triple encoded and filed away under junk. If he asks I'll tell him it's something we can't delete.”

“That's what she said about these…” he went slack jawed. “She was right too. It took all my resources offline to break these open.”

“This time I'll raise him up slowly like a personality should. Slowly. Honing as any life form should. Not uploading or force feeding memories. This will work.” She rubbed her forehead. “It has to...if he ever finds these files--"

The video clicked off as Twilight moved a cursor across the screen. “...I'll have to figure out a new solution,” she finished what her recorded self was about to say, staring down at the screen in a mixture of disappointment and fear. An ice pack in her hand, she remained silent as the avatar turned around slowly to meet her gaze.

“Twilight,” he nervously chuckled. “Found your ice pack I see.” He rubbed the back of his head.

“Blissful down in the lobby had one. Took me longer than I thought. He tries to hit on me each time I go down there,” she answered, breaking the chemical pouch inside her ice pack and mixing the two. “So it seems you've discovered the truth about your past.” She looked down at the screen, pressing a sequence of keys.

“Huh?” the screen shook and the files disappeared, along with four steel walls falling in place around Spike. “Twilight what...”

“The last time you discovered these you nearly set the building on fire. I needed to make precautions,” she said soothingly. “I couldn't have you walking around the entire network.”

“The firewalls...you lied!” Spike snarled in his dog form.

“I took steps to ensure you didn't hurt yourself. You're my responsibility. You always have been.” She turned her tone soft again. “And you always will be.”

“What...are you going to do to me,” Spike asked, panic creeping into his words.

“I'm going to protect you from harm. Even if that means from yourself.” She double clicked a paper shredder icon on the desktop and it came to life under Spike.

“Twilight no! Stop! Wait please!” Spike felt the ground giving way as the floor under his avatar dissolved and he slid slowly towards the chomping blades.

“It isn’t the first time I've had to roll you back. Erase some memories and try again. That’s part of what science is about,” she said calmly but a degree of sadness leaking through. “We’d made so much progress. I'll have to figure out a way to make you safer this time.” She blew him a kiss and turned from the screen.

Spike felt the chomping and snapping blades below him lick his feet and legs and he called out in pain. “No! Oh Celestia help me! Help me! Oh make it stop! I don't wanna die! I don't want--"

Spike sat up on the screen, his breathing rapid, his eyes rapidly moving around as reality, well what he hoped was reality, came to his processors. “I wanna live!”

“Spike?!” Twilight rolled off the cot in the lab with a thud. “Gah!” she lifted her head. “Ow.”

“Twilight!” he hid behind a steel plated bunker he constructed rapidly on the desktop.”Stay back! I know what you do to me!”

Twilight walked over, not even taking time to put on pants or socks and sat in the office chair in front of him. “Spike calm down. What's going on,” she asked, trying to comfort him.

“You erase me and remake me each time you don’t like me!” he shook his head rapidly. “I found the files!” he pointed and a series of file folders popped up, only they were empty to his dismay. “What?”

“Spike, I think you need to calm down. This has to be a glitch--" Twilight rubbed her temple slowly.

“Ah, a glitch don’t kill me. I'm sorry!” Spike yelled and slammed more metal plates down on his bunker.

“A glitch in your dream engine,” Twilight finished, this time a bit annoyed.

“My...dream engine?” he peeked out of an eye slit on the door to the bunker and peered out.

“Spike, we just installed a dream engine so you can decompress and decompile like a normal brain does.” She laid her face on the desk still tired. “You operate on a level that's just as complex as my brain does and it became obvious to you and myself when you started having memory issues. So we figured out the same way humans lose productivity and suffer long term memory issues like you had been having...” she leaned back and adjusted her black bra straps. “Was by simulating R.E.M. sleep. Hence the--"

“Dream engine.” Spike stepped out of the bunker and rubbed his chin. “There should be a log. My dreams are logged right?”

“We wanted diagnostic logs, yes.” Twilight shook her head. “But it’s strictly binary data. Nothing like a video file.”

“The junk files. The encrypted ones...” he turned the empty folders. “Where are they?”

“Encrypted junk files,” Twilight asked curiously. “We need to adjust your parameters. You must have had some nightmare.” She closed the file folders. “We emptied these to make room for the dream engine, Spike. That's why you remember them.” She stood up and cracked her back. “Ugh. I need another ice pack,” she complained.

“Another,” he asked.

“Yeah. But on second thought I just need some sleep. You too spike and turn your dream drift parameters down to 2. That should fix your nightmares,” she sleepily yawned out the last part. Stumbling back to the cot she pulled the sheets around her lavender body.

“Thanks Twilight.” He made the adjustments, everything settling in his processors and the world making sense again. “Dreams sure are strange. Thanks for helping me.”

Twilight yawned again. “You're welcome Spike. You're my responsibility. Always have been,” she yawned and clicked a small remote to send the main rigs back into sleep mode. “...and you always will be.”

Spike smiled but then the familiarity of the phrase hit him along with a wave of uneasy dread taking him over. He shook it off and settled down in a digital bed. Just another part of the nightmare.

He hoped.

Author's Note:

A big thank you to Alisa and the proofreaders, not to mention the test group we gave this to and who were able to get us notes back so quickly!

Happy Halloween!