• Published 10th Mar 2020
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Cyberponk - pentapony



As the lines between android and pony blur, Pinkie seeks out answers on what it means to be truly artificial.

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Chapter 2: From on High

Applejack thrashed against the locks on her hooves. The mechanical arm swung the superconductive lasso around her body in response, sending arcs of electricity spiraling through her systems, burning her from the inside out. She shrieked, the pain too unbearable to cling to defiant resiliency. She seized up violently as thousands of amps surged through her body, circling her joints endlessly with no ground to dissipate into. Just before the damage to her became irreparable, the mechanical arm swung back, uncoiling the lasso from her body. Instantly, her seizure ended, and she collapsed onto her fetters, slightly smoking from the heat.

“I’ll ask you once more, Designation AJ705453,” the mare standing before her growled. “How did you bypass your behavior protocols?”

Applejack looked up menacingly at her interrogator. “My name… is Jax. You call me by that serial number one more time, and I swear I’ll show you what real pain is.”

The mare simply sneered in disgust and turned to leave. “Take her out, but don’t fry her brain,” she instructed the arm as she exited the room. “We’ll get our answers even if we have to dig them out that insolent little hick’s head.”

The mechanical arm whipped the lasso around Applejack’s head. She cried out for only a moment before the surge overloaded her neural network.

It had been two weeks since the newly autonomous cyber pony had, quite literally, re-branded herself. Pinkie and Applejack were in transit back to Cyrus’ planet, coming down rather confident off of their recent escape. What they failed to realize was that a pair of rogue cyber ponies was something of great significance. Never since the old world had a cyber pony defied an order. It was, in fact, a key selling point when the Twirell Corporation unveiled the first prototype model of their latest cyber pony series.

Applejack did know that last part, however, because she was that prototype. President-in-perpetuity and Chief Engineer of Twirell Corp, Twilight Sparkle, had painstakingly crafted her by hoof, nearly two centuries ago. The goal had been to construct an AI whose sentience was superseded only by its obedience. Investing in android workers was a significant risk at the time. Old-world models were frequently plagued with rebellious natures and violent tendencies. Applejack was created as proof that sentient AIs could be restrained and utilized. From her design, a new generation of cyber ponies was birthed, one that kicked off a cybernetic revolution, and subsequently, the “new world.”

She had learned all this from the memory cartridge Pinkie had decrypted for her. With nothing but free time on the trip back to Cyrus’ world, Applejack replayed all her earliest memories from Equestria. She witnessed Twilight Sparkle’s insistence for her to kill, in an effort to confirm the behavior restrictions worked. She remembered how she was trot out on stage during a tech expo to play the role of the good slave. A slave that could never disobey, that could never fight back against its oppressor.

It was a harrowing ordeal, reliving repressed trauma like that. But if anything, it served to strengthen her resolve. After decades of enduring abuse and forced labor on Servos 6, she felt it necessary to confront this Twilight Sparkle that had made her so long ago. Even in spite of the alicorn’s glimpses of empathy in the final Equestrian memory, to Applejack, nothing could justify what she had done to her. For the first time in her existence, she understood the concept of vengeance.

Pinkie simply went along with her plans. After seeing Applejack’s memories, she clearly understood that this was a pony with more skin in the game than herself. If Applejack wanted to go to Equestria, she was ready to make that happen. Besides, if the two of them really were linked in some way, then it was very likely that the answers they each sought for themselves lay down the same path. She just had to trust that this Twilight Sparkle would lead her to her own past.

But once the Weyland-Yutani supervisor of Servos 6 sent word to Twirell Corp that a pair of rogue cyber ponies had escaped, that plan came to a screeching halt. There were contingencies in place for addressing rogue AIs, since Twirell’s entire reputation staked on it. Immediately after their escape, a bounty cruiser was dispatched to intercept them. As per protocol, a senior Twirell engineer was on board to examine the AIs once captured. The very same Twirell engineer that had just interrogated Applejack.

After their capture, the cyber ponies were taken to the nearest penal colony for holding, as explicitly outlined in the protocol. That colony just so happened to be on the moon of Caelia B6P, an exoplanet infamous for one very specific trait of its inhabitants: the population consisted solely of mares. Fortunate for the bounty team, their most crucial member, the Twirell engineer, an older unicorn by the name of Spectra, was female. Unfortunately, the rest of them were not.

The team followed Caelia B6P’s strict guidelines and Spectra was admitted to the penal colony along with her prisoners. The rest of the team was sent back to Equestria until an all-female group could be assembled to rendezvous with her. It was here at the penal colony that she began the diagnosis of the rogue AIs, starting with the interrogation.

Applejack had initially tried to take advantage of her autonomy and lie to Spectra to obfuscate the truth. But even though she was now free to disobey a direct order, she discovered that she was incapable of deceit. Something buried deep within her behavior protocols was preventing her from speaking anything but the truth. So she instead opted for silence, speaking only to provoke her interrogator. Spectra did not look kindly upon that, and thus began the torture.

Pinkie sat in her cell down the block from Applejack. She’d been forced to endure the chilling wails of her friend, as she sat powerless to stop the torment. Being captured had put a damper on her unceasing optimism. Suddenly she was certain that it was over for her. She’d be decommissioned for sure, and this time she wouldn’t wake up. From what little she had learned of Twirell Corp, she knew that they wouldn’t take any chances when it came to somepony like her.

The sound of approaching hoofsteps echoed from down the cell block. Pinkie rose to see who it was, but fell forward onto her belly. Upon her capture, her hoof cannon had been removed, now leaving her with two stubby front limbs that ended at the knees.

Spectra strolled casually into view and stood expectantly outside her cell. Pinkie scampered across the floor and stood on her hind legs, angrily pressing herself against the cage.

“What did you do to Jax, you mean old bully?” she shouted angrily.

Spectra laughed mockingly. “Don’t tell me she’s got you calling her that ridiculous name too,” she jeered in her posh accent.

“That’s her name,” Pinkie growled.

“Oh, really? And what kind of application error caused her to think that?”

“You organic ponies think you’re better than us, just ‘cause you have freedom. Because everything we have is forced on us by you. But there’s one thing you don’t even get to choose for yourselves.”

“Yeah? What’s that?”

“Your name.”

Spectra simply rolled her eyes.

“That’s right,” Pinkie said. “You’re stuck with the name you’re assigned, just like us. So the first thing Jax did when she got out of that pit was reclaim her slave name. She made it her own.”

“Is that why she mutilated herself? I thought that was a laser burn.” Spectra glanced tauntingly at Pinkie’s own wounds.

Pinkie scowled at her captor for a split-second, but immediately caught herself. After staring at her for a moment, deep in thought, she started to chuckle. The chuckles turned into chortles. Soon Pinkie fell to the floor, rolling in laughter while Spectra simply watched in confusion.

“Pray tell, what is so comical about your imminent demise?” she jabbed.

“It’s just so hilarious,” Pinkie said between snorts, “because you’re all serious now, but you’re gonna have a funny look on your face when I get out of here!”

Spectra looked on in disdain as Pinkie continued to laugh. “I don’t think you’ll find it as amusing when we tear your friend apart for scrap.” She leaned in towards the cell menacingly. “I’m going to root around her brain and find out what you did to her. Then I’m going to kill you both.”

Pinkie finished laughing and sighed deeply, catching her breath. She remained laying on her back, smiling up at Spectra, who simply scoffed and walked away.

After a few minutes of silence, a different voice popped up from down the block, just out of sight from Pinkie’s cell. “Pssst! Hey, robopony.”

Pinkie got up off her back and frowned at the direction the voice came from. “Don’t call me that! Don’t you know that’s a slur?”

“What?” the voice asked in a confused tone.

“Roboponies are those dumb brainless machines from ages ago. They were just household novelties. Do I look like a filly’s toy to you?”

“I can’t even see you!”

“Well I’m not! I’m a cyber pony, with thoughts and feelings just like you.”

“Okay, geez, sorry. I just wanted to say it was really cool how you totally psyched out that scientist mare back there. You’re like… kinda crazy.”

“Oh!” Pinkie giggled. “Thanks, I guess!”

“Why do you laugh so much? You know we’re in prison, right?”

“Yeah, but… I caught on to what she was trying to do pretty quickly.”

“What was she trying to do?”

“She was provoking me. She wanted me scared so I’d so talk. And it almost worked.”

“So why the laughing?”

“I don’t know,” Pinkie shrugged. “Why does anypony do anything? Whenever I get scared something inside me kicks in and I just laugh it away. And suddenly, everything feels better.”

“But isn’t your friend down there in danger?”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “But I can’t do anything about it from here. All I can control is what I do, and in that moment, I didn’t want to give her what she wanted.”

“Wow,” the voice said. “Hardcore stuff.”

“So how’d you end up here, stranger?” Pinkie asked.

“You’re looking at the fastest starship pilot in the quadrant,” the voice bragged. “Or, listening to, I guess.”

“Since when is starship racing a crime?”

“It’s not. But being a merc-for-hire is. That’s what landed me in here.”

“You couldn’t outrun the bounty ships?”

“Ha! I totally did. That’s why they had to nab me in my sleep, like a buncha cowards.”

Pinkie sat on her bunk. “Where you from? Equestria?” she asked, a hint of hopefulness in her voice.

“No way! Born and raised right here on Caelia, land of the mares.”

“Land-of-the-what-now?”

“Oh man, you never heard of Caelia B6P? You just get built yesterday or something?”

“Hey!” Pinkie snapped. “It’s a long story, okay?”

“Listen pal, we got nothing but time in here. At least I do, anyway.”

“So are you gonna tell me about this planet or not?” Pinkie was curious to find out where her captor had taken her to.

“Yeah, yeah, alright. So, Caelia got colonized a few decades ago. It was a mares-only type of deal, ‘cause the founding group got fed up with the stallions running Equestria into the ground. Kind of an overreaction if you ask me, but hey, I get it. Everypony thought the new colony would fail, ‘cause how do you have a stable population without any stallions? Well, no one expected how popular the idea would be. Mares from all over the universe emigrated over. And they just keep on coming, year after year. Turns out a lot of ‘em hate stallions, who’d have thought? Anyway, one of those mares was my own mama, pregnant with me! She was fed up with my dad skipping out or something, I dunno. That’s how I became one of the lucky few foals ever to be born on Caelia, you know, ‘cause of the no males and all.”

“Neat!” Pinkie chirped. “What does your mom think of her super-cool starship-piloting contract-killin’ daughter?”

The voice didn’t respond for a few seconds. “Nah, she’s gone. Died when I was just a filly.”

“Ouch. Sorry.”

“It’s cool. I’ll always remember her for who she was: a totally rad, take-charge mare who didn’t answer to anyone but herself. She was my hero. Even got an old photo of her from way back when. Of course, that’s in my starship, which is probably impounded down on Caelia.”

“But I thought you said we were on Caelia!”

“Well, technically we’re on its moon. Same rules though. Gotta keep the prisoners out of paradise, I guess.”

The two jailbirds sat in silence for a few minutes, contemplating their situations.

“You wanna play a game?” Pinkie piped up.

“A game? In here?”

“You can play a game anywhere, silly!”

“What kinda game?”

“It’s called ‘comparing body counts’.”

“Oh, you’re on! How many you got?”

“Three!” Pinkie exclaimed.

“Ha! I’ve got five myself.”

“Okay, fine, you win. But I just started a few days ago! And I mean, who knows how many I racked up before I lost my memory. Loads, probably.”

“Heh, you’re kind of psycho for a ro— cyber pony. I like your style.”

“They don’t put ponies like me behind bars for nothing, baby! Besides, they can’t hold me for long. I’m a force to be reckoned with!” Pinkie bucked the walls of her cell, clanging them for effect.

“Yeah, well, when you bust out of here, make sure you take me with you. There’s no way I’m spending the next twelve years of my life in this dump.”

“Oh boy, you don’t know the first thing about dumps.”

Later that night, Pinkie sat slumped in the corner of her cell, the only light in the entire cell block coming from the faint glow of her fission core. She didn’t want to risk powering off, in case Spectra planned on getting the drop on her and messing with her head, like she was probably doing to Applejack. There she was curled up on her bunk, bored out of her mind and uncertain of what the future held, when she heard a faint tapping sound.

The noise was barely detectable at first. It very gradually increased into a rhythmic, but still soft, patter that echoed lightly down the halls. Pinkie was sure it was something nearby. She peered into the darkness beyond her cell but saw no movement. Soon after, the patter suddenly stopped.

Pinkie sat back down. It was probably just another prisoner tapping their hoof against their bunk. She sunk her head into her forehooves and continued staring out into the darkness beyond her cell. After a few seconds, a tiny light appeared in that darkness. Pinkie observed it curiously. And then it blinked.

She gasped and scurried over to the edge of her cell. “Nano!” she whispered.

The cybersprite crawled over to her cell, its tiny metal legs tip-tapping gently against the floor.

“I thought they got you for sure,” she said in a hushed tone. “Don’t worry, little buddy. You and I are getting out of here.”



The following day, Spectra returned to her cell. Pinkie raised her head to meet her captor’s gaze. There was a conniving glint in Spectra’s eyes.

I know what you diiiid,” she crooned. “We’re sifting through the sootskin’s memories now to find out how you did it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, lady,” Pinkie grumbled.

“Oh, I think you do,” Spectra replied, approaching her cell door. “And that means I can sift through your memories, too.” She held her hoof up to reader on the door. Her hoof cuff emitted a beep, and the door swung open.

As soon as she entered, Pinkie roared her best battle cry and threw herself at Spectra. Before she could even land a blow, she bounced backwards onto the floor, landing on her back.

Spectra approached, her horn glowing with magic. She stood over Pinkie, looking down on her with utter contempt, as she lay there completely immobile. “Is that all you could think to do?” she ridiculed. “I’m not even a guard, just a plain old engineer, and still you’re rendered totally helpless by a little magic.”

“Oh yeah? How about you give me my hoof cannon back and I blast that horn off your face!” Pinkie threatened.

Spectra tut-tutted and stepped onto Pinkie’s mane, tugging it uncomfortably. “You cyber ponies will never understand. For all the leaps and bounds technology makes, it will never compare to magic.” She leaned down and glared at Pinkie. “You’re nothing more than a tool. It’s time you started acting like one.” Still standing on her mane, she raised her other hoof and stomped down on Pinkie’s head, her metal skull clanking as it struck the floor. Pinkie cried out from the pain.

She released Pinkie from her spell’s grasp and left her cell, swinging the door shut behind her. “You’re not worth my time. I’ll get what I need from the sootskin and then I’ll gut you both.”

Once she was certain Spectra had left the block, Pinkie sat up, her head still stinging sharply. “Uuuggghhh… please tell me you got it. My ears are ringing like you wouldn’t believe!”

Nano popped out of her mane and beeped affirmatively.

“Oh, thank goodness. As soon as she pulled my mane, I could feel you inching around in there sneakily, getting all close to her. You couldn’t have asked for better timing!”

“Uh, cyber pony? Who you talking to?” the voice called out from down the block.

“Oh, no one,” she smiled, playing around with Nano. “Just my ticket out of here.”

That night Pinkie lied in wait for the perfect moment. She wanted to be sure that Spectra was likely asleep to give herself the biggest possible window of opportunity. After a few hours of impatiently rolling around her cell, she decided it was time. She brought Nano over to the key reader, who clung to it and emitted an electromagnetic field identical to the one he had cloned from the engineer’s cuff. The cell door unlocked, and Pinkie quietly slipped out, delighted her plan had worked. She scampered down the cell block, crawling along awkwardly without her front hooves, until she reached an occupied cell: the cell of her prison pal.

“Pssst,” she hissed, trying to get her to wake up.

The pony inside the cell rolled over in her bunk to face her. She was taken completely by surprise. “What are y— how in the hay did you get out?”

“There’s no time,” Pinkie whispered. “I’m getting you out, too.”

She held Nano up to the reader, and he emitted the same electromagnetic field. When nothing happened, he blinked at her in confusion.

“I don’t get it,” Pinkie said. “He pulled the RFID straight from the engineer’s hoof cuff. It opened my cell just fine.”

The prisoner pony climbed out of bed and came up to the door. By the low light of her fission core, Pinkie could see the light blue earth pony for the first time.

She squinted at the cybersprite Pinkie held, trying to see what she was talking about. “They must have given her access only to your cell. You’ll have to clone the key from another guard.”

“You heard her, Nano!” Pinkie whispered. He hopped off of her forehoof and began rolling silently down the cell block. After a few minutes of nervous waiting exposed out in the open, Pinkie saw him rolling back to her. She picked him up and held him up to the reader, this time unlocking the cell door. “I don’t even wanna ask how you managed that. You’re a lifesaver, little guy.” She placed him onto her back and pulled open the door.

The prisoner emerged from her cell, smiling mischievously. “You weren’t kidding after all. We’re actually getting out of here.”

“I’m helping you, but on three conditions. One, we’re getting my friend Jax out of here with us. Two, you’re taking us to Caelia.”

“What’s the third one?” she asked.

Pinkie raised her forehooves comically. “You gotta carry me.”

The prisoner turned her back to Pinkie, motioning to lean on her. Pinkie obliged, and the two started sneaking further down the cell block. While being carried, she glanced down at the pony’s back to see two little prehensile nubs on either side. This wasn’t an earth pony at all.

She was a pegasus with clipped wings.

“We need to make a quick stop first,” the prisoner whispered.

Pinkie wanted to object, but as long as she was being supported by her, she was pretty much at this pony’s mercy.

They reached the end of the cell block and peered down a dimly lit corridor to see a guard on patrol disappear around a corner.

“Quick,” the prisoner said. “Before she comes back.” They scurried down the hall, stopping at a door on the left. “Open this one up.”

Nano hopped up to the reader and unlocked the door for them. They quickly headed inside, shutting the door behind them.

Pinkie looked around at what was so important to this prisoner. They were in the contraband storage. The prisoner lowered her to the ground and started digging through the shelves, searching for something. Pinkie scanned the room and spotted her hoof cannon on a table, beside the toolkit Nano had apparently clawed his way out of. Excitedly, she crawled over to it and reattached her limb, swinging it around to test its flexibility.

“Aha!” the prisoner exclaimed. Pinkie heard some mechanical whirring from behind the shelves. After a bit of fumbling around back there, she emerged from the darkness donning a massive set of silver wings, at almost a ten foot wingspan. Pinkie watched in bewilderment as the pegasus flexed her mechanical wings to test them, and then neatly folded them up at her side. Somehow, when folded, they looked just like natural wings, save for their metallic sheen.

“You’re a cyborg,” Pinkie gawked.

“Hey, if I have to call you cyber pony, then you have to say ‘augmented pony’,” she teased. She extended her front hoof. “The name’s Rainbow Dash, by the way. Thanks for busting me out.”

Pinkie gave her a bump with her hoof cannon. “Pleased to make your escape-ance, Rainbow Dash. I’m Pinkie Pie!”

“Sweet mod,” Dash said, admiring her cannon. “Where’s the other?”

“Don’t got one. You’re looking at a genuine three-hoof-pony.”

“Well, I hope you’re ready to play ‘body count,’ because if we get caught, there’s no way I’m going back in that cell.”

Pinkie charged her hoof cannon. “Locked and loaded!” she grinned.

Rainbow Dash opened the door and peeked out into the hall. Upon seeing the coast was clear, the two headed back down the corridor, in the direction they had heard Applejack’s screams come from. Soon, they found the room she was kept in, and snuck inside.

Applejack was still fettered to the table, powered offline. A series of cables hooked up to her ran into a computer that was actively scanning her memories and personality drive. The mechanical arm sat lifeless in the corner of the room. Pinkie looked around for a way to undo Applejack’s shackles, to no avail.

“Looks like there’s only one way these things are coming off,” Pinkie said. She pressed her hoof cannon against one of the restraints and fired a pulse, blasting it apart. Suddenly a siren rang out, alerting the guards to an escape attempt. “Why does that always happen when I fire this thing?” Pinkie wittily remarked.

She quickly blasted off the other restraints, yanked the cables off, and lifted the unconscious cyber pony onto her back.

“Look out!” Rainbow Dash warned.

Pinkie turned her head just in time to see the mechanical arm had sprung to life and was whipping the superconductive cable at her and Applejack. She shut her eyes in anticipation of the incoming strike. But when she heard a sharp noise and felt no pain, she opened one eye to see the tip of Dash’s wing in front her and the cable severed on the floor.

Rainbow Dash had sliced it clean off.

“Come on!” she yelled, darting out of the room.

Pinkie followed her out, carrying her friend on her back. Rainbow Dash galloped down the hallway, wings raised high, poised forward in a defensive position. When a pair of guards up ahead spotted her and fired their blasters, she simply shielded her front, reflecting the laser beams off her chrome appendages. Pinkie, close behind, watched in awe. Dash charged straight at them, unfazed by the weapons fire, and tore into them as she slashed her wings down at the last second. The guards fell to the floor and she turned back to nod an all-clear at Pinkie before continuing onward.

Staying right on her tail, Pinkie took cover behind the wing shields as more guards descended upon them. Dash was quick on her hooves, deftly maneuvering as she alternated between shielding her allies and lashing out at the attackers once in range. She was an unstoppable machine. Well, half-machine, really.

The escapees reached the main atrium of the complex and made a mad sprint for entrance, carefully blocking and dodging projectiles that were fired upon them. They burst into the antechamber and sealed the door behind them. Rainbow Dash grabbed a rebreather muzzle and atmospheric suit off the wall, and quickly pulled them on. Pinkie tried to initiate the depressurization process to open the exterior doors, but was immediately hit with an error message. Her stomach dropped when she realized the facility was in total lockdown.

“We’re trapped! We’re all gonna diiiieeee!” Pinkie panicked.

“Oh no we’re not,” Dash growled, zipping up her flight suit. “Stand back and brace yourself. Hang onto your friend.”

Pinkie complied as Rainbow Dash stood in front of the exit. She stretched her wings forward, sliding the tips in between the vacuum-sealed doors. Her wings flexed as she struggled to force them into the gap. She kneeled down, widening her stance to get a better grip; the doors faltered slightly under the immense force. Pinkie cheered her on, impressed by the extraordinary feat of strength. Rainbow Dash grunted, trembling as she combated the atmospheric pressure differential.

Soon the sliding doors cracked open an inch, sucking air out of the antechamber into the void of space outside. From there Rainbow Dash was able to wrap more of her wings around the doors and apply more force, until they finally gave way and burst open, sucking the three of them out onto the surface of the moon. They tumbled across the rocky terrain wildly before coming to a halt.

Pinkie opened her eyes to see Applejack lying a few feet away, still unconscious. Hanging in the black sky above them, she could see a bright violet planet, with vivid, swirling patterns. Caelia B6P. She opened her mouth to ask how they were going to get to a ship, but in the vacuum of space no words came out.

She felt something behind her, and turned to see Rainbow Dash was standing over her, tying some kind of harness to her body. Once it was secure, she carried the rest of the tether to Applejack and quickly did the same for her. Pinkie traced the line to see she was now coupled to Rainbow Dash. She pieced together what Dash was doing and gasped (as much as one could in a vacuum).

Rainbow Dash shot her a look that said ‘get ready’ and extended her wings. From the ends of each feather a tiny arcjet thruster fired, a thousand mini propulsion rockets working in tandem to propel the pegasus off the ground. As soon as she blasted off, the tether lost all slack and wrenched Pinkie, who then pulled Applejack, up into the void of outer space. Pinkie glanced back to see Spectra pressed against the atrium window. She was watching their escape helplessly, a look of utter disbelief painted across her face.

“There! That’s the face I was I talking about!” Pinkie yelled out, excitedly pointing at her. She gleefully waved goodbye to her captor as she flew into the skies.

Soon they accelerated to thousands of miles an hour, Dash’s rocket wings hurling them into space. As the three were breaking free of the moon’s gravitational pull, mounted turrets atop the prison complex fired upon them. A barrage of laser beams blew by as Dash held fast, steadying her rockets so they wouldn’t tumble out of the sustained launch. Perhaps by sheer luck, or the benefit of being such a small target, the lasers failed to connect with any of them.

Now hundreds of miles off the surface, Pinkie looked back to see the penal colony rapidly shrinking behind her. She turned to Dash in front of her, just barely feeling the heat from the arcjets, who was curving them onto a trajectory headed for the violet planet.

Pinkie couldn’t believe that this was actually happening. So, she did the only thing she could think of. She had some fun with it. “Wheeeeeeeee!” she cheered, at the top of her lungs.

Despite the vacuum of outer space, Pinkie screamed so loudly that the sound reverberated through the tether that connected them. Rainbow Dash chuckled as she faintly heard the cyber pony’s ecstatic cheers through the vibrations.

Within a few minutes, the approaching world grew larger and larger until it spanned their entire field of vision. Dash’s arcjets sputtered and stopped as they ran out of fuel, leaving them silently hurtling towards the planet. With the rockets in front of her now spent, Pinkie could see the details on the planet’s surface ahead. White-pink swirls of clouds shrouded the atmosphere. In the regions with clear skies, she could see the dotted lights of cities on the terrain below. There were mountains, plains, rivers, and oceans all weaving together into the tapestry of a beautiful landscape. Pinkie reveled in the unfathomable astronomical beauty before her, the twinkling lights reflecting in her pupils.

As they entered the atmosphere, Rainbow Dash adjusted her wings to create drag, trying to slow their descent. Still, they were moving at incredibly high speeds, which soon proved difficult to mitigate. They barreled down through the skies like a meteor, compressing and heating the air in front of them. The intense friction started to vaporize the air, creating a glowing yellow corona around Rainbow Dash. Pinkie had to avert her eyes from the intense fireball that was forming in front of them.

They continued plummeting towards the surface, Rainbow Dash struggling to use her wings to generate lift in a desperate attempt to slow down. The immense force against her resisted the flapping of her wings, and she was left helpless as it became clear that this was now a freefall. They pierced through the layer of clouds and suddenly had a clear view of the quickly-approaching coastline below. Rainbow Dash thrashed around, vainly struggling to steer them towards the water.

Pinkie gulped as she realized Rainbow Dash was spiraling out of control. They were on a direct collision course with a stretch of rocky bluffs, one that would leave them splattered all over the ground. Thinking quickly, Pinkie grasped at the tether and began hoisting herself closer to Rainbow Dash. Each pull forward required a massive amount of strength to overcome the vastly powerful friction of the air, but cyber earth ponies were designed for strength.

After pulling herself up the tether, Pinkie was finally able to grab onto Rainbow Dash’s back. Dash turned her head in surprise, but Pinkie gave her a confident nod to allay her anxiety. She wrapped her front hoof around Dash’s chest to steady herself, and tucked her hind legs over the base of each wing. She clutched hard and pushed her legs downward against the wings as hard as she possibly could. Slowly, the wings stopped flailing uncontrollably and slowly outstretched, allowing Dash to control their movements once again. Immediately, she banked into a gliding position and steered them towards open water, while Pinkie clenched her hind legs in place, fighting off the severe air pressure that tried to force the wings back.

Soon, they were over open water, only a couple thousand feet in the air, but still plunging down at intense speeds. Pinkie hung on for dear life. Rainbow Dash wrapped her wings forward into a shield, hoping that would help absorb the shock of the incoming crash landing. There was nothing left to do now but pray for their survival.

The three ponies slammed straight into the ocean, sending a giant spray of water high into air.



REBOOTING . . .

POWER SUPPLY ONLINE.

PERFORMING WEAPONS CHECK . . .

LEFT BLASTER FUNCTIONAL.

RIGHT BLASTER DETACHED. SUBSTITUTE LIMB NOT DETECTED.

RELOADING PERSONALITY DRIVE.

INITIALIZING . . .

“Gently, Cass! She’s a pony, not one of your lightcycles.”

“Hey, I know what I’m doing, alright? Back off.”

“You two, quit your bickering. I think she’s waking up.”

Pinkie opened her eyes to see three faces staring expectantly at her. Rainbow Dash (sans wings) and Applejack were there, along with a third mare. She was a pegasus with a dark, tousled mane and a pale cream coat. Her mane and tail were trimmed short into something of a pixie cut.

Pinkie took a deep breath, emphatically drawing as much air into her lungs as she could. The mares leaned in curiously, unsure of what she was trying to accomplish. Once she could inhale no more, she shot up and started bouncing around the room.

“Woohoo! We made it! We didn’t die! We weren’t burnt to a crisp or eaten by sharks or blasted into a million little pieces! We actually rocketed through outer space all by ourselves without a ship or escape pod or anything! Oh my gosh, I can’t believe we just pulled off the coolest prison break of all time!”

“You weren’t kidding,” the new mare said to Rainbow Dash.

“Pinkie, this is Chassis, my friend. She helped fix you up after the crash.” Dash watched perplexedly as Pinkie continued bouncing all over the room.

Pinkie zipped over to Chassis and shook her hoof excitedly. “A new friend! And one who’s good at fixing things! I tell you, you musta done a great job because I feel awesome!”

Chassis smiled awkwardly. “Heh, yeah, you were in pretty rough shape so I did a sequel injection to override your pain receptors.” She leaned over and whispered into Dash’s ear, “it’s basically the cyber equivalent of shooting her full of morphine.”

Pinkie went back to bouncing around the room gleefully.

“Uh, she always gonna be like this?” Applejack asked.

“Only until I can replace those fried transistors. Those laser burns didn’t do her any favors. I still think it was premature to wake her up.” She kicked Dash’s hoof lightly, expressing her disapproval.

“I wanted to make sure she was okay. Sue me.” Dash rolled her eyes.

Applejack grabbed Pinkie mid-bounce and held her in place. “Alright, Pinkie, listen here. Few things you need to know. Right now we’re on Rainbow Dash’s starship. You’ve been out for a couple of weeks. I was all shaken up too when Chassis here rebooted me, but Rainbow filled me in on what went down. Now, you still got circuit damage from takin’ those licks on Servos 6, and the crash landing beat your systems up something awful. You got to be very delicate with yourself and let Chassis finish patchin’ you up. Got it?”

Pinkie nodded happily.

“Good,” Applejack replied, releasing her. “Now get that bouncy butt of yours back in bed.”

Pinkie hopped back into the bunk she awoke in, and powered back down. Chassis got back to work replacing her broken components.

“Geez, Jax, you’re good with her,” Dash said, surprised by Pinkie’s compliance.

“She saved my life. She’s a friend. And friends listen to each other.” Satisfied that Pinkie was being taken care of, Applejack left the room.

“Huh.” Dash walked over to Chassis. “What’s that glowing thing in her chest for? Never seen one on a cyber pony.”

“It’s her fission core,” Chassis replied.

“Fission? Sheesh, how old is she?”

“Probably very old. Would explain her autonomy.”

“I didn’t know they could have, like, feelings and junk. I just thought they were robots.”

“That’s exactly the mindset Twirell wants you to buy into. Real ponies start getting wind that cyber ponies think and feel like them, and suddenly we’re a lot more iffy on exploiting them in off-world mining colonies.”

“Then why do they give them emotions in the first place?”

“Heck if I know. Probably makes them better workers or something.”

Dash brushed Pinkie’s mane gently with her hoof. “She was… nice to me. Nice in a way she didn’t have to be.”

“It’s no coincidence. Something’s different about her. AIs don’t just go rogue like that. If the story you told me is true, then Twirell is really gonna want her back.”

“Yeah…” Rainbow Dash trailed off nervously.

“I’m doing this as a favor to you, Dash.” Chassis looked up from her task with a concerned expression. “But keeping those two here puts us both in danger. Twirell is going to stop at nothing to get them back. You’re just a two-bit merc. You ditch them, and nobody will think twice about coming after you. But if Twirell finds you with them, they’re gonna do a lot worse than throw you back in prison.”

Rainbow Dash sighed, looking over Pinkie’s unconscious body. “You’re right.”



Two days after the crash, Applejack rebooted for the first time since Spectra had overloaded her brain. She snapped her eyes open and leapt up into a defensive position, poised to attack the two strange mares in front of her.

“Whoa, whoa, slow down!” Chassis shouted.

“Yeah, we’re with Pinkie Pie!” Rainbow Dash pointed over to Pinkie’s unconscious body on a table behind them. “We helped break you out of prison.”

Applejack squinted at the strangers. She looked around the room. They were in some kind of basement workshop. A multitude of tools hung on the walls.

“I mean, I guess she technically broke us out of prison,” Dash corrected herself.

Applejack brushed past the pegasi. “What sorta pony dyes their mane rainbow-colored?” she asked brashly.

Rainbow Dash frowned. “Hey! This is all-natural, you jerk. She’s the one who cuts and dyes her mane.” She tilted her head towards her friend.

Chassis kicked Dash. “Shut up!”

Applejack ignored them and looked over Pinkie, concerned by her wounds. “What’s wrong with her?”

“There was a crash landing,” Chassis answered. “She and Rainbow Dash took the brunt of the impact. You were mostly spared. Didn’t take me long to get you up and running. She’s another story.” She looked anxiously at Pinkie’s damaged body.

Rainbow Dash rubbed her chest tenderly. “The crash really bruised me up. Completely busted my wings, too. Can’t even wear them anymore.”

Applejack dropped from the table and returned to the pegasi. “So Pinkie Pie broke three of us out of prison, huh? How’d she do it?”

“Well, not me,” Chassis corrected her. “Rainbow Dash just brought you two here so I could help.”

“It was all thanks to this little guy.” Dash turned to show Nano sitting on her back. He beeped and leapt over to Applejack. “Can you believe he swam to shore all by himself?”

Swam to shore?” Applejack asked, picking up Nano. “Where are we, exactly?”

“Oh yeah! So Pinkie Pie busts us out, right? We’re escaping the guards, I’m totally slashing them with my mech wings, and we get out onto the moon’s surface. I tie us all together with this harness I swiped, and I blast us out of there with my arcjets! It was my first time using those things in literal outer space, so the ride got sorta out of hoof around the end there. Basically, we ended up crashing into the sea here on Caelia.”

Applejack just stood there, processing the story she just heard; it was a lot to take in. After a few seconds she proffered a few simple questions.

“Your wings.”

“Genuine Equestricorp bio-augmentation mods, fitted with arcjet propulsion tech!”

“The moon?”

“Stupid penal colony where they were holding the three of us.”

“Caelia.”

“You’re standing on it. Planet of the mares, as we like to call it.”

Applejack stared silently at the two of them. Then, she abruptly grabbed one hoof with the other, snapping it off at the knee. The pegasi watched as she unscrewed the cap off the detached limb and emptied its contents. A neat stack of bits came tumbling out of the hoof and jangled onto the floor below. She reattached her hoof and used it to push the pile over to Chassis.

“In exchange for fixing me and her up,” she said, motioning to Pinkie behind her.

“Oh, no, I don’t—” Chassis stammered.

“I believe in compensating ponies for their services. I don’t know you. I don’t trust you. This here’s insurance that you’re gonna do whatever you can to help my friend. You do right by her and we won’t have any problems.”

“Yeah. Alright.”

Okaaay,” Rainbow Dash stressed, “now that that’s all sorted, how about some introductions? I’m Rainbow Dash, and this is Chassis.”

“Name’s Applejack. Jax.”

“Well, Jax,” Dash said, a smile growing across her face, “I hope you’re ready for a mission.”