• Published 1st Jul 2019
  • 536 Views, 29 Comments

Sunless - Korenav



The sun is gone. The world has frozen over. Towering cities glow with power and warmth provided by the finite resource, Sunstone. Jovin, one of the many living a life run by cybernetics finds himself in debt as his body needs Sunstone to survive.

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A Day Better Than Most

“Are you serious? Why wouldn’t you want a cybernetically-enhanced ex-military pegasus like me? What’s not to like?” Jovin stood on the very tips of his mechanical hooves and still had to stretch to reach the counter top, claws digging into the wood. His height was already an issue, but his mane made seeing all the more difficult, and he blew one of his bangs out of the with a confident smirk. “You’re not gonna get someone like me again!”

A tired griffon behind the desk stared back at him, completely unamused. “Need I remind you that we are a data recovery business? Most of your enhancements are irrelevant to us and the ones that aren’t are hardly uncommon. You couldn’t pull your own weight. Literally. You’re too sma—"

“Hey, hey!” he snapped, glaring, eyes zooming in with the faint sound of a camera shutter. “I’m plenty able to pull my weight! In raw data decryption, recovery, and—"

“Jovin, you’re lazy, hot-headed, you break company rules, and think you’re better than everyone else. I’ve got plenty of guys that can do this work—"

He slammed his hoof on the desk, wings flaring as the sheer weight of the action rang out through the room. “I could do laps around those guys if this work was actually ‘real work’ and not some mind-numbing bullshit!”

The griffon sighed. “…Well, Miss Sharpsight—"

“Mister! That's Mister to you!”

He groaned and looked at his papers again, idly crossing out something on them as he grumbled under his breath. “Well, Mister Sharpsight… care to explain why I find you data snooping in on our clients files half the time?”

“Uhh, well…” His expression dropped a little, “I’m verifying data integrity.”

“On encrypted data. You don’t need to decrypt it.”

“Oh, come on. You never know! That takes real work!”

“Yeah, maybe, or because you are too bored to do anything else. I can always tell you’re bored when you got your hoof half disassembled or a dozen taco wrappers at your desk. And you should really lay off on those, by the way. You’ll get fat and someone will think you—"

“Okay, okay, I’ve heard that joke enough already,” Jovin groaned. “But come on, you know I just need some real work.”

“Then you can find yourself some ‘real work’ somewhere else,” the griffon grunted, pointing a claw at the exit. “You’re fired. Get out.”

Jovin narrowed his eyes, peering into him, but eventually pulled away, raking his claws along the desktop as he fluttered for the door. “Fffffffffffine… Your loss. But I’m taking all my goofy shit with me!”

“That’s coming out of your severance pay.”


Jovin groaned as he pushed his way through the door of his place of former employment, carrying a small crate with his personal effects on his back. He took a deep breath in and sighed once outside, the gruff, smoggy air of the city sprawl filling his nose. Looking back to the building he just left his face fell, ears drooping, before turning away. “Dammit…”

Lights were everywhere; streetlamps, LED billboards, headlights, windows, even the faint glow of cybernetic eyes and limbs from passersby. Not even the night sky was dark; the city below illuminating it like an irradiated gas. Everything glowed like it was alive. All thanks to Suntech.

And yet, everything was dark. Grime caked the cobblestone streets and mixed with the blackened snow, the walls and alleys crumbled with decades of posters stripped away. Overturned trash and unwanted personal belongings littered the streets, eventually becoming another pony’s treasure. If you could call anything here a treasure.

Even on the edge of the sprawl, it was impossible to not notice the radiant heart of the city, the brightest light on the horizon going on for miles. It was a city of light.

A city that would never see the light of day ever again.

Jovin pulled up the collar of his jacket, the colder air in this more rundown part of the world chilling his fur before he turned away, setting his sights on the darker, snowier outskirts.

“And now I gotta carry this stuff all the way back home.” He looked over his shoulder at the crate, then to his prosthetic legs. “I hate walking,” he grumbled, the combined weight a bit too much for him to fly, even with the mechanical limbs assisting his wings. “Can it get any wor—"

“HEY!”

“SWEET FUCKING SISTERS!” Jovin cried as he stumbled back, spilling everything in the crate all around him.

The peach-coloured blur from behind a nearby dumpster he was passing came to a halt in front of him. To his relief, the stallion was familiar. “I got you!” he shouted with a sharp smile, but his grin soon faltered when he saw the mess he’d created. “... Oh. Ooops. Didn’t know you had any cargo. Sorry.”

“I just… had to ask,” Jovin groaned, putting his crate down and returning everything to its rightful place, inspecting the damage.

“Hey, I’m not ‘worse’,” the new pegasus protested, assisting with what he could. “You know I’d be here for you through thick and thin.”

“Yeah, well, Poppy, you just kinda… popped the fuck out of nowhere. I was ready to have a griffon mug me for my legs honestly… Not that they could…”

Poppy giggled. It was a somewhat effeminate laugh, admittedly, and it matched his lanky form. “Well, luckily you have me. So, you’re having an even better day now, right?”

“Well, I…” Jovin grumbled, pulling his lips tight in a pout. “You’re not wrong…”

“Besides, if it was going to actually get worse, it would start raining.”

“Poppy… please don’t.”

Whaaat? I got an extra poncho.”

He eyed the green cloth around Poppy’s neck. “It’s not the stupid roll-up one that doubles as a scarf is it?”

“Pfft. No. But it was a cool idea.”

“It wasn’t waterproof. It was pretty stupid.”

“I, uh… Y-yeah… Okay, it kinda was.”

The crate was loaded, but before Jovin could hoist it onto his back again, Poppy took the liberty of putting it on his own back instead.

“Poppy, I can—"

“Nuuupe.” Poppy smiled down at him, half a head taller. “You’re having a bad day. My turn.”

Jovin pouted once more, grumbling to himself, then let out a sigh. “Fine, fine, but only because I know you’ll try to run with it if I tried to take it from you.”

“Hehe. And that wouldn’t be a fair race.”

“Hey!” he huffed, wings fluttering. “What’s that supposed to mean!? You calling me short?!”

“Noooooo? Just a handicap with this on my back.”

“…Oh.”

Poppy bit his lip, mulling over his thoughts in the momentary silence between them. “Soooo…” he began, running a hoof through his blue mane as his wings shuffled at his sides, “you wanna go see a movie tonight? I got a bonus this week and I know you want to see John Whicker 3~.”

“John Whicker 3? Heh. Heck yeah. I loved the first two!”

“Great! I’ll find us a time for later tonight! Maybe we can get a bite to eat too?”

“Yeah, I could really go for a burrito.”


The walk back home was hardly eventful. The further they travelled from the city sprawl, the more grime and junk littered the roads. The air chilled even more, and snow banks were scattered about all over. The horizon had far fewer building’s towering over them, and more chimneys lined the roofs, billowing smoke.

Neon lights and billboards lessened, but not by much; everything became gradually darker, the ambient glow in the sky slowly replaced by empty black. Green plumes of magic and fire were the only interruptions, bursting from the smokestacks of factories and power plants. The occasional drone or flying pony also drew the eye.

The apartment complex Jovin lived in wasn’t much to look at, but it could’ve been far worse. Millions called this city home, but of all the places available to him within his price range, this was one of the few he might have been willing to call ‘nice’.

Well, really, he mostly had his roommate to thank for it.

“Catch ya later at the theater, Poppy.”

“I-I could pick you up, maybe?” he offered, likewise offering Jovin the crate. “Meet you here?”

“Nah, it’s fine.” Jovin slipped the crate onto his back. “I can fly myself there. Ponies would think you were gay or something.”

Poppy let out an uncertain laugh. “Y-yeah. Wouldn’t that be something.”

Jovin chuckled, giving him a pat on the shoulder. “See you later tonight Poppy. Or today… Whatever time it is.”

“Bubye...” Poppy’s said softly, biting his lip.

Jovin was already on his way up the stairs, waving his keys at the entrance frantically until it registered his ID. The panel rattled with a verification hum, but the door required some ‘encouragement’ to open before he could enter.

The hallway lights illuminated a floor in dire need of mopping. He ascended a few more flights of stairs, passing the ‘out of service’ elevator. A couple levels higher, and on a somewhat cleaner floor, Jovin fumbled with his keys in his extended claws, mindful on any noise he made.

As silently as he could, he unlatched the door to his apartment and slipped inside. The lights were on, though everything was awash with the green glow of the city through the windows. It was tidier than the hallway, but the stains and weathering of time still dotted the walls and corners. Well-kept, as far as most apartments in the complex went, and that was thanks to its current occupants.

One of them, at least.

Jovin softly closed the door behind him and quietly made his way past the kitchen. The refrigerator was covered in notes and colorful magnets, most of them being messages to one another. A calendar showcased the chores done each day, quite a few dates of which had Jovin’s name on them, but most had ‘Buck’ instead. Most of those were where Jovin’s had been crossed out.

Focusing his eyes in, he sighed; he’d been listed for most of the chores again. He rolled his eyes and strolled closer, extending his claws for the marker, but winced as he felt a grinding in his hoof and stopped. They’d frozen up. He shook the limb a few times, but nothing happened.

“Fuckin’ cheap shit,” he grumbled, returning his hoof to the floor and trying with the other. Success. He drew a line through his name and scribbled ‘Buck’ in its place, then smirked to himself and resumed creeping toward the hall, turning the corner.

Right in front of his roommate.

The silhouette of an earth pony stood there, leaning against the wall with a foreleg crossed. Jade eyes stared down at Jovin, apathetic, if not entirely unamused.

“Ooooh, hey Buckface. Suuuuuup?” Jovin forced a smile and waved a wing, quickly toppling the crate on his back and spilled everything onto the floor in a loud crash and series of swears.

Buck raised an eyebrow at his hurried attempt to clean up the mess, his jade eyes looking him over. “Any particular reason you’re trying to be a ninja?” he asked, his voice as husky as ever, leering a little further.

“Uuuhhh. Didn’t want to wake you?” Another forced smile.

“You sound like a loose stapler with those legs of yours. Get them tuned up already.” He turned his attention to crate and all Jovin’s belongings. “Should I ask what…? Eh, no. I don’t want to know.” He sighed and shifted on his hooves, still blocking Jovin’s way. “Just so long as it's nothing illegal, and you keep trouble away from here. Did you do your—"

“Chores?” He cut in, that forced smile getting even bigger. You’d think he’d have gotten better at this by now. “Oh, I remember it was your tur—"

“You crossed out my name again. Yeah yeah, I get ya. You really suck at this.” Buck shook his head and turned around, his black tail swatting Jovin square in the face. “You do the grocery list on the fridge, I’ll do the rest. Like always.”

Sighing, Jovin tried and failed to hold in the sneeze that came soon after that tailwhip. The smell of oil and machinery wafted by with it. He always wondered if his grey furred roommate was some kind of robot sent solely for the purpose of trying to get him to do house chores. Not having a cutie mark didn’t make things any better, and avoiding any question about it only made Jovin all the more curious. All he knew was that he worked at a hardware store and liked it when everything was all orderly.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll get it. I’ll do it in a few. Don’t get your oversized fetlocks in a tangle.” He dragged his crate the rest of the way down, past the common area where his roommate sat in front of the TV now playing some game he couldn’t be bothered to look at, and went into his room.

Finally, a moment of peace — the place he truly called home. The window was its only major light source, but his computer and server racks blink orange and blue, holding aloft the plank that was his desk.

He kicked his crate over to it, the shelves nearby filled with various circuits and parts, some of them being partially assembled drones and unfinished projects. His wall had a few posters of music bands and such that he wasn’t even sure if he listened to anymore. A crossbow lay mounted to the wall above his bed, looking like it had seen better, but well used days.

Throwing himself onto his bed, back first, Jovin hung his head off the edge, staring out at the radioactive glow that was the city. Drones frequented the skies, carrying cargo, performing maintenance, or just running whatever task was assigned to them. Sometimes even the occasional sky car would pass by, bringing whatever VIP or pony who couldn’t be bothered by the lower street levels to some other place just as clogged and smoggy as before. Nothing ever stopped moving here.

It felt like ages since he laid there, staring off into the horizon, the glowing shutters of his eyes relaxing, taking in the sight of the sky, the stars that were barely visible. An open sky waited for him, and the urge to join it tickled in the back of his mind. His thoughts trailed off into past memories, back when he still had his legs.

It was time he got those groceries.

Rolling off the bed, he stretched and flexed his wings and legs. Metal and plastic clicked as servos whirled with the sounds of hardware in need of care. Despite one of his hooves claws getting jammed, he gave attention to his wings first.

Unlike his legs, which were completely cybernetic from the shoulder and knee joints down, his wings were still quite intact. The exos he had simply latched on to the leading edge of his wings on metal anchors, rooted to his bones. No permanent alterations there; with the right surgery and enough time to heal, his wings would be as good as new.

No chance of that happening when his legs weighed so much, though.

Jovin let out another, longer sigh as he looked down at them, staring at the metallic joints, the cheap plastic panels, and the talon-like claws that would neatly retract inside. At least when they were working.

“Let me guess, short on H.” He reached behind his head with his working claws, finding the plug and pulling a retractable wire out. He attached it to a port on the troublesome leg and blinked a few times as his eyes displayed what information he needed to know.

“Always the whiner, you are. Don’t worry, though, you’ll get your fill tomorrow. I can’t afford to go broke on you just yet.” He yanked his head, pulling the cable free as it zipped up right into his head with a wince. “…I gotta stop doing that.”

The next few minutes, Jovin spent dissecting his leg— removing a few panels, manually retracting the digits before reassembling it. “Fucking cheap ASL prototype.” A few scuffs joined the collections of numerous others on the plastic surface, eliciting a jaw-clenched sigh from him.

Tossing the screwdriver over his shoulder, he marched out of his room and past Buck playing the latest battle arena game on the couch, heading for the balcony.

“Have fun playing PUBA.”

“Have fun getting your ass checked out at the grocery store.”

Having already perched up on the railing, Jovin shot a flustered glare back at him, only breaking eye contact when he teetered off the edge and into the air.

“Suck my diiiick!”

“As if that’ll happen.”


The night air was frigid, only offering the occasional thermal updrafts to feel even slightly less chilled. Flying on the city outskirts was less restrictive, without a jungle of skyscrapers in every which direction, and as much as he wished it were more hospitable, he relished the freedom.

He rolled and turned and banked, throwing his weight into them as he danced through the sky, losing himself in the motions. Though his prosthetics made him more cumbersome, he could maneuver well enough. High above the ground, he could break away from everything. Other ponies, the grime, his job — or rather lack thereof — the debt, all of it. Nothing compared.

Flying on his back, Jovin stared up at the sky, starting to make out some of the specks of light as he pulled his scarf a bit tighter. The wind chill was harsh, but the frozen wastes beyond the city were far worse. Sweeping his wings through the air, he looked off to the distant horizon — that dimly lit, hopelessly desolate expanse of tundra, fading into nothingness. Out there, even with his enhancements, he’d be flying on borrowed time. His wings would be warm enough, but his body was another story. A lesson he already learned once before.

A rumble in his stomach reminded him why he’d come out here. A quick scan of the landscape surmised he had passed the grocery store by a fair bit.

“Oh well, more flying.” He smirked to himself, lazily banking to his destination with the occasional unnecessary twirl thrown in.

His stop was largely uneventful, grabbing some basic necessities and a couple choco tacos. One register checkout and uncomfortable eyeballing from the cashier later, he was on his way home. The flight was a fair bit more awkward, having forgotten to bring a saddlebag. Carrying everything in his claws worked fine, but he was forced to land at street level outside his apartment.

“Fuckin’ bags. I need to fix that damn drone,” he grumbled while fumbling for his keys.

“Oi!”

Jovin nearly jumped, the booming voice sounding a bit too close and loud. He glanced at the source, expecting to find some door salespony.

He was… off. By a fair bit.

“Ya need a hoof?” A wicked smile greeted him from a rather large thestral, her coat grey, her mane short and many shades of electric blue, her eyes a piercing magenta. Based on her beat-up leather coat and questionable horseshoes, Jovin got the feeling she wasn’t the average door preacher.

But hey, he’d been wrong before. Sometimes you meet the nicest ponies that just like to look scary. Right?

“Umm… No?” Even from a few pony lengths away, he was already feeling dwarfed. “I kinda got four of em. You know, like everyone else? Not that you aren’t,uh… great for things.”

Her smile grew sharper “Oh these hooves are great for all sortsa thing. I could show ye.”

Despite her intimidating appearance, something about her accent just made her sound a bit… off. It was something he’d never heard before, yet was somehow… familiar…

“Uh, boss?” Another, smaller pony peeked his head from behind the large mare. “Aren’t we looking for a stallion?”

“Hey!” Jovin dropped his groceries and squared up to face them. “I am a stallion, ass clown!”

The large mare raised a brow, her threatening smile faltering. “…Eh?”

“Yeah boss. It says right here. Stallion, on the—"

“I know what it says ye gob fuck.”

“W-well… she is—"

“STALLION!” Jovin stomped somewhat awkwardly, realising too late he’d used his malfunctioning hoof. “I swear I’m going to make you eat that data pad if you say that one more time!”

The large mare chuckled and began to smirk again, taking a step closer. “Ah. Jovin Sharpsight was it?”

“Yeah, what of it?”

Her grin grew more mischievous, sharpened by her fangs on full display.

“I’m your new debt collector.”

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