• Published 25th Dec 2018
  • 884 Views, 73 Comments

The Iron Ho-Ho-Horse: Hearth's Warming By The Numbers - The Hat Man

Hearth's Warming with the family is traditional! A family made up of robots... that's less traditional. Turing Test decides to unite her robotic siblings and their creator for a holiday gathering in Mustangia in this collection of vignettes.

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Auntie Bellum stepped out onto the front porch of the Mustang Peach family manor. She shivered in the sudden cold and pulled her shawl around her.

“001?” she called, raising a hoof to the side of her mouth as she called out. “Where’d you get to, precious?”

After waiting for a moment and getting no response, she whistled for the house servants. In a few moments, some of the maids and butlers were at her side.

“You called, ma’am?” one of the maids asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “I do hate to be a bother, but these old bones are quite ill-equipped to go traipsing off in search of that grandniece of mine. I’d like you to please search for her. I saw her not ten minutes ago, so she must surely be in the orchard nearby.”

They all bowed. “At once, ma’am!” they all said, and immediately set out in search for her.

Auntie Bellum smiled as she turned to go back inside the house. She picked up the letter she’d received that day and gave it another look, smiling before she placed it behind her ear.

I don’t know what I’d do without the help, she mused. A rambunctious gal like 001 is almost too much to handle for an old mare like myself. Just so, I cannot wait to see how she reacts to this news!


Out in the orchard, the whirring sound of machinery could be heard alongside heavy hoofsteps. Weaving in and out of the rows of trees, a robot pony looked up at the branches overhead.

“No more, no more,” she murmured to herself in her squeaky synthetic voice. “Where dey all go?”

She paused for a moment, tilting her head to the left and right as she mulled things over.

There were so many peaches before. The branches were once so laden with the fruit that they bent and drooped under their weight. The great machines piloted by our family’s workers swept through the lanes to harvest them by the thousands. Auntie would always save some to use in her recipes… but now they are gone. I cannot imagine why.

“Where you go, peeshy peesh?” 001 said to herself, lowering her head dejectedly.

Ah! she thought suddenly. Perhaps they are merely hiding! They may reappear if I call out to them!

“Come out, peeshes!” 001 shouted as she broke into a gallop. “Me no look no more! Olly olly oxycodone!”

She heard a sound behind her, as if something running through the grass, so she came to a stop and waited patiently. But then she saw it was one of the maids from the house, not the expected peaches.

001’s ears drooped. “You no peesh; you pony,” she muttered sulkily.

“That’s…” The maid shook her head, choosing, as she often did, to not ask what 001 meant. “Miss 001, I’m so glad I found you. Your dear Auntie is lookin’ for you! Just what are you doin’ out here in the cold?”

Ah, it seems Auntie wishes to see me! I will simply explain that I’ve been searching for the lost peaches so that I could cook them with Auntie. Perhaps this young maid can then explain where the peaches have all gone.

“Me no cook with Auntie long time,” 001 explained. “Me go look, but no peesh in twees! Where they go?”

The maid chuckled. “Well, we harvested them all, of course!” she replied. “An’ now that we have, there won’t be any more ‘til spring comes around again!”

“Why no?”

“Well… I mean, because it’s winter!”

‘Winter?’ That word is in our database… it only states that it is a portion of the year in which the weather becomes colder. Is there some connection we’re missing? Did the peaches go someplace warmer? That must be it.

“Chilly peesh go home!”

“Oh dear!” the maid said. “Are you cold, Miss? Yes, we should get you home immediately.”

Cold? Us? What nonsense! We will never understand the strange things these organic ponies say. Perhaps we should rebuke her… ah, but perhaps this would provide an opportunity to go home and ask Auntie Bellum. She is often more patient and understanding than the others. Perhaps after we talk to her, we can bake something!

001 kicked her forelegs excitedly. “Me go see Auntie, talky talk, bake tings!” she exclaimed. “Bake all the tings!”

“Oh, uh, well,” the maid said uncertainly, “I’m not sure if she was planning to do any baking. But she surely does love to bake with you, Miss, so perhaps she will!”

001 trotted behind the maid as they went back to the house. Once inside the warm house, the maid let out a satisfied sigh and called out “I’m back, ma’am! I found your grandniece for you!”

“Thank you, dear!,” Aunti Bellum called back. “ I’m in the parlor! 001, would you please come here?”

“Me coming, Auntie!” 001 cried.

“And I’ll go ring the outside bell to let the others know they can call off the search,” the maid said.

001 made her way to the parlor where she found Auntie Bellum sitting in her chair while the fire in the fireplace crackled.

“Ah, there you are, sugar,” the old mare said, getting up to greet her.

“Hi hi, Auntie!” 001 said, bounding over to her, her heavy hoofsteps pounding loudly on the wooden floor. She came up alongside her, nuzzling her with one metal cheek.

“Gah!” Auntie Bellum cried, pulling away. “Oh my stars, baby, you are ice cold!”

001 took a step back, her ears lowering.

Ah. Of course. Somehow I always forget things like that. Poor Auntie… I don’t know what it means to be ‘chilled to the bone,’ but I know that she doesn’t like it. My body must be far too cold after being outside.

“Me sorry, Auntie,” 001 said quietly.

“Oh,” Auntie said, biting her lip before putting her hoof on 001’s shoulder. “Forgive me, dear, it was just a sudden reaction. Auntie’s not mad, okay?”

001 raised her head. “Really no mad?”

Auntie smiled. “Not in the slightest. Now, since you are here, I—”

“Where peeshes go?”

Auntie blinked. “What?”

001 went to the window and pointed out at the bare branches of the orchard. “Where all da peeshes go?”

“Ohhh, I see,” Auntie said, smiling patiently. “I guess this is your first winter since being back up an’ about, huh? Well, 001, the weather pegasi come around this time of year to make it colder. The land needs this time to rest. It’s like all the trees have gone to sleep. Peaches take a lot of work to make, you know!”

001 tilted her head, her eyes shifting as she thought it over.

“Well, think of it like this,” Auntie Bellum continued. “You know how you have to recharge your battery sometimes and go into sleep mode? It’s a bit like that for the trees.”

001 paused, then nodded her head slowly.

Of course, she thought, it all makes sense now! Auntie is so good at explaining things so I can understand.

“Peeshy peeshes go night-night,” 001 said solemnly. “Okay, me get it, set it, not forget it.”

“I’m glad,” Auntie said. “Now then, dearie, what I wanted to show you is this.” She held up the letter. “It’s a letter from your Daddy!”

“Dada write us? What he say? He want more sammich pie?”

Auntie winced, remembering 001’s decidedly odd choice of pie filling she’d used in her Sire’s Day gift. “No, dear, he’s written to tell us that he’s been given a 3-day pass for Hearth’s Warming. He and your brother and sister are coming here soon!”

001’s LED pupils shrank. “Dada come here? Lil’ brudda an’ Turry Tess come too? We no go to Cantaloupe?”

“That’s ‘Canterlot,’ dear,” Auntie corrected her. “And yes, that’s right, 001: we’re gonna have ourselves a good old-fashioned family Hearth’s Warming!”

“Weeeee!” 001 cried, leaping about excitedly. “Evvypony comin’ here! We be like bees in a cod!”

Auntie chuckled. “Well, sweetness, I am glad that you’re excited. But on account of it bein’ Hearth’s Warming, we’ll need to get a present for everypony.”

“Pleasant?” 001 asked, tapping her chin. “Pleasant pheasant plucker!”

“The only question now is what to get them,” Auntie Bellum said.

“We bake someting good?” 001 asked.

But Auntie shook her head. “Actually, 001, I thought we might try something different this time.”

She went over to her chair and pointed at a basket filled with balls of yarn.

“What dose?”

“They’re balls of yarn,” Auntie said.

“Auntie got big balls? Me get big balls! We got da biggest balls of dem all!”

Auntie blushed and stifled a laugh. “Er, yes, dear,” she said, clearing her throat as she gained her composure. “Now, it seems to me, even in this modern age, that any young lady, robot or no, ought to know how to knit. I was planning to teach you sooner or later, and it seems that now’s as good a time as any to pick.”

“Knit pick?”

“Now listen, 001,” she said, locking eyes with her. “It’s a fine thing to buy a present, but to make somepony you love a present with your own hooves is one of the finest, most lovely things you can do. I want to pass on this tradition to you so you can give your Daddy a wonderful gift that’s all your own. Do you understand?”

001 looked down at the yarn balls and then back to Auntie Bellum.

I see now, she thought. If I make a gift by myself, then it will truly be something special. What a wonderful thing for Auntie Bellum to teach me. I’m so grateful! I must tell her! I must tell her how much I appreciate all her efforts in spite of the trouble I sometimes cause her. I must let her know how much it means to me that she accepts me as her grandniece despite being a robot. I must tell her! I must tell her that I will give it my all! I must say it clearly!

001 threw her hooves around Auntie Bellum, hugging her tightly. “Me do good job!” she exclaimed. “Me love Auntie! Me love you so much!”

Auntie Bellum smiled and returned the hug. “I know, precious,” she said quietly. “I know just what you mean.”

001 rested her head on Auntie Bellum’s shoulder.

Yes, she thought. Perfect.

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