• Published 27th Dec 2020
  • 1,294 Views, 61 Comments

The Iron Horse: Robot Rock - The Hat Man



Hearth's Warming with family? Awkward. Introducing your family to your girlfriend? Worse. Not mentioning to your super traditional family that your girlfriend is a ROBOT? Buckle up, Maud Pie...

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Hooves crunched in the fresh snow as the strange pair made their way up the path to the little farmhouse in the middle of the rocky valley. Crystalline rock formations decorated the yard. The giant, egg-shaped boulder stood silent and proud over the farm, as if it were a sentinel on guard.

At the door, a gray hoof raised and knocked on the door.

The door gently opened and there, waiting inside, was the Pie family.

“Welcome home, dearest Maudalina,” Cloudy Quartz said, stepping forth to embrace her gently. “Thy bedroom has been made up and thy sisters shall help with thy baggage.”

No sooner did her mother let her go then Pinkie sprang forward gripping Maud in a vice-like hug. “Maaaauuuud!” she squealed. “I’m so so so happy you’re here! And everypony is so excited to meet your special friend! Right, everypony?!”

“Mmhmm,” Marble added.

“Not really,” Limestone grumbled before being elbowed by their mother.

“Indeed so,” their father said. “We all wish to meet thy new paramour, and hope that they will find our homestead welcoming.”

“I’m excited too,” Maud said in her usual deadpan tone as she freed herself from Pinkie’s crushing grip. “I’m sorry I haven’t introduced you before, but I thought it was finally time for you to meet my special somepony.”

She moved from the doorway and gestured to the pony standing behind her.

The family’s expectant looks and welcoming smiles gave way to bulging eyes and dropped jaws (save for Pinkie, who was brimming with excitement and ready to burst after keeping her lips sealed about their new guest all day on Maud’s request).

The strange pony stepped forward to greet them, the servos in her legs whirring, her metallic body gleaming in the midday sun, and her violet eyes glowing gently as she met them.

“Greetings,” she said in her feminine, artificial voice. “I am known as Turing Test. Maud Pie has informed me about all of you, and it is my pleasure to make your acquaintance. It is my hope that this Hearth's Warming will be successful.”

The Pie family stood there in silence, still taking in the sight of Maud’s strange guest. That is, until Pinkie leaped forward, squealing happily as she embraced Turing.

“Rinny!” she cried.

“Hello again, Pinkie,” Turing said, returning the embrace. “Hug initiated.”

“I’m so glad you’re here! I’ve been waiting forever for you to finally meet my family! And I haven’t seen you in so long that I could just hug you all day! ...Except not really because Sweet Celestia you’re freezing!”

“My apologies,” Turing said, releasing her. “I have been meaning to install a new warming mechanism to my outer frame, but my duties have distracted me from completing such work.”

“Aww, that’s okay! Anyway, come on in, you two!” Pinkie said, bouncing as she led them inside.

The two stepped inside into the warmth of the house as the Pies continued staring on.

Limestone finally broke the silence, “Uhh, so… Churning Test—”

“Correction: it is Turing Test,” Turing said. “I was named for a griffon inventor named Talon Turing who—”

“Right, right,” Limestone said, cutting her off. “You need help with your bags or what?”

“That will not be necessary. I have a load-bearing capacity of several tons.”

“That’s… neat, I guess?”

“Ooh, but I can still show you your room!” Pinkie said. “Come on upstairs, Rinny! I’ll even give you a tour of the house!”

“Thank you, Pinkie,” she said, hoisting the two suitcases onto her back as she followed Pinkie up the stairs. Turning to Maud’s family, she said “I am very glad to meet you all. I will return shortly.”

Maud watched them go and turned to her family with a small smile. “Isn’t she great?” she asked.

“Ah, w-well,” her mother stammered, “though I am not one to judge, I admit that she was not what we expected.”

“That’s an understatement!” Limestone said. “What the heck is that thing, Maud?!”

Maud’s smile faded. “She’s a robot.”

The family’s collective heads all tilted to the side.

“A what?” Limestone asked.

“A robot,” Maud repeated flatly.

“No, you twit! I mean- ow!” she grunted as her father gently bopped her upside the head.

“What thy sister means is that the word is unfamiliar to us,” Igneous Rock Pie said. “Why doth her countenance resemble naught but a suit of armor? What appearance lies beneath, and why doth she hide it?”

“I don’t think it’s armor, Pop,” Limestone said, still rubbing her head.

Maud nodded. “Limestone’s right,” she said. “That’s all her. She’s a mechanical pony. She’s a machine.”

Her parents exchanged a look. Marble bit her lip and looked away, trying to hide behind her mane. Limestone just narrowed her eyes as she stared back at her.

Maud sighed. “Look, I know she isn’t what you were expecting. But I really thought you would all be a little more accepting.”

“Maud, dearest,” Cloudy Quartz said, clearing her throat, “as thy family, we only wish the best for thee. Surely thou art not satisfied with such a partner?”

“Actually, I am satisfied,” Maud replied. “On a nightly basis,” she added with a smirk.

Marble blushed deeply as her parents gawked, her father making choking noises.

“But seriously, she really means a lot to me,” Maud said, stepping forward as she placed a hoof on her chest. “So please, do me a favor and try to get to know her before dismissing her.”

The others all looked to each other uncertainly.

“Tis no easy thing you ask, dear,” her mother said. Then she smiled. “But we shall do as thou ask if she doth bring joy to thy heart.”

Maud slowly let out a breath. “Thanks. I hope you won’t judge her or me too harshly. I’m glad you’re not too mad that I’m dating a mare instead of a stallion.”

“Oh for the love of,” Limestone groaned, smacking her forehead. “Nopony cares about that! It’s because she’s a machine, you idiot!”

Maud blinked. “Oh. I guess I never thought about that. But I think you’ll all learn to like her. So, Mom, do you need help in the kitchen while Pinkie finishes showing Turing the house?”

Her mother nodded. “I would appreciate it, dear.” They all turned to go further into the house.

“Okay. I’ll be right there,” Maud said.

“Ah, one more thing,” her father said, his cheeks reddening. “While thou art in our house, young mare, thou wilt refrain from any… ah… untoward actions.”

Maud nodded. “Okay, Dad,” she said, giving another subtle smile. “We’ll be good.”

As they all left, Maud lingered in the foyer and subtly looked up at the ceiling, hearing Turing’s heavy hoofsteps on the second floor.

“Looks like we’re ready to get started,” Maud whispered.

***

Upstairs, Turing Test paused, her metal ears twitching as they squeaked on their hinges.

“I am glad,” she whispered back. “I will do my best to win their approval, Maud Pie.”

Pinkie turned to look over her shoulder. “What’s up, Rinny?”

“Nothing of vital importance, Pinkie,” Turing replied. “But it seems that Maud has at least secured temporary assurance that your family will allow me the chance to prove that I am a satisfactory significant other for you sister. It is my hope that they will grow to appreciate me as she does.”

“Aww, of course they will!” Pinkie said, giving her robot friend a hug. “Though… you might not want to tell them that you can hear them so well. And maybe try not to eavesdrop.”

“Ah. My apologies,” she said. “I have to admit my trepidation in coming here was great. I simply wish for Maud to be happy. I will do whatever it is in my capacity to achieve that objective.”

Pinkie smiled. “You really do love her, don’t you, Rinny?”

“Ah. I… I have not yet said as such to her, but… but yes, I do. I have simply not determined the right time and place to say so. It seems that it is a very significant declaration that must be timed and executed perfectly. And if I am to be worthy of your sister’s affections, I must be perfect in both timing and execution.”

“Oh, Rinny, you’re waaaay overthinking things! Not everything is like Twilight’s romance novels or fanfics she thinks we don’t know about.”

“We are quite fortunate in the latter case,” Turing remarked. “Still, I will consider your advice, Pinkie Pie. I simply wish to do the best for Maud Pie. Perhaps after this ordeal, I will feel more free to finally state my feelings.”

“Eeee!” Pinkie squealed, clapping her hooves. “It’s all so romantic! Ahhh, but I’m getting distracted. Over here is my old room, and next to that is Marble Pie’s…”

As Pinkie rambled on, Turing followed her.

It is true that Maud Pie was afraid to confront her parents, she thought to herself, but perhaps Pinkie Pie is correct, and it is not perfectionism that is restricting me, but fear. Still, until this situation is resolved, I cannot burden her further with my feelings… I must first prove myself worthy.


Maud helped her mother carry the pot of rock soup to the rough-hewn, wooden table. A bowl was put before each seat at the table and filled with the hot, greenish concoction complete with a large, edible stone dumped into it.

Limestone smirked as she took a seat. “Ohh, this oughta be good,” she remarked as she watched Turing Test approach the table.

“Of course it’ll be good, silly!” Pinkie said, taking her seat next to her. “Mom’s rock soup is the best!”

“Thou flatter me, dear,” Cloudy Quartz said. “But so long as it sustains our bodies amid this winter, that is all that doth matter to me.”

Maud Pie looked up from her bowl, followed by the others as Turing Test returned from upstairs and took her seat next to Maud.

“Hope you like soup, Turing,” Limestone said, her smirk turning up into a hard grin. “It’s an acquired taste, but—”

“My thanks, Limestone Pie,” Turing said, holding up a hoof as a bowl was shoved towards her, “but that will not be necessary. I will not be having any soup.”

Cloudy Quartz blinked, then looked down. “I realize it may be but simple fare,” she said quietly, “but to refuse it so…”

“Yeah, who do you think you are?!” Limestone shouted, getting to her hooves. “Even the Apples at least tried it when they came to visit!”

“Umm, Limestone,” Pinkie hissed, tapping her on the shoulder. “Rinny doesn’t really… eat.”

“What?!”

“It’s true,” Maud said. “It’s not personal.”

“That is correct,” Turing added, turning to face Cloudy Quartz and bowing slightly. “You see, Mrs. Pie, I would actually love to be able to try your soup. However, I lack a mouth, tongue, and digestive system, and therefore cannot consume food of any kind. In a select few extenuating circumstances, I was able to simulate the consumption of different foods and hope to one day create a permanent means of enjoying it. I would love to try this recipe at such a time, if possible. It looks delicious. Marble Pie seems to be enjoying it, for instance.”

All eyes turned to Marble, who was quietly sipping her soup as she kept to herself. Flinching at the sudden attention, she wiped her mouth and weakly said “Mmhmm,” before returning to her meal.

Cloudy Quartz and Igneous exchanged a look, but seemed to accept Turing’s answer as they continued their meal.

“Soooo,” Pinkie said after a few moments of silence among the group. “Um… how’s the rock harvest this year?”

“It’s fine,” Limestone grumbled.

“Though the northern field yielded poorly this last season,” Igneous remarked.

“Pfft,” Limestone scoffed. “We’ll get by. Maybe once Maud gets her fancy new Rocktorate she could come give us some pointers.”

“Sure,” Maud said nonchalantly. “Maybe you could add minerals, apply a little earth pony magic, and then let it lie fallow for a season to let more veins develop.”

“Oh, sure, just skip an entire harvest when the budget is already tight!” Limestone snapped.

“Hey hey, easy now, everypony,” Pinkie said, her smile becoming slightly forced. “No need to fight! After all, it’s almost Hearth’s Warming! We should be coming together as a family!”

“Mmhmm,” Marble agreed.

“Perhaps it would be best if our guest told us more about herself,” Cloudy Quartz said. “Since neither Pinkie nor Maud saw fit to do so before her visit.”

“Eheheheh,” Pinkie chuckled nervously, wincing as she hastily took another long slurp of her soup. “Have I mentioned how good this soup is? Mmm mmm good!”

Maud only looked away slightly.

Turing simply nodded. “I would be glad to answer your questions, Mrs. Pie. What do you wish to know?”

“Well, for starters,” Limestone interjected, leaning forward on the table, “how exactly did you and Maud meet?”

“We met through Pinkie Pie,” Turing replied. “At the time, I was still early in my development following my activation and was slowly making friends and experiencing emotions. Pinkie Pie was attempting to teach me humor, but to little success.”

“Hooboy, you’re not kidding,” Pinkie said, rolling her eyes. “It’s hard to get some ponies to smile, but with Rinny it was totally impossible! So then we tried getting other ponies to laugh, but that wasn’t much easier. But then Maud showed up to visit!”

“I thought she’d like the surprise,” Maud explained.

“Maud Pie noted that my understanding of conventional jokes was lacking, but that I possessed a unique manner of delivery that I was able to develop into my own style of humor.”

“She’s very funny,” Maud said with a small smile.

“Correct. I am,” Turing agreed, turning to face her, her glowing pupils changing to an upward arc to indicate that she was smiling.

“Squee!”

They all turned to look at the source of the sound. It was Marble Pie, who blushed, smoothing down her mane as she looked away.

“To complete my answer to your question,” Turing continued, “after our meeting, I received a present from Maud Pie for Hearth’s Warming. It was a small piece of rose quartz in the shape of a heart. I did not fully realize the significance of the gesture, but as my mental and emotional state further developed, I began to desire a romantic partner. Upon realizing that Maud’s gesture was an indication of her feelings, I sought her out and expressed a desire to enter into a romantic partnership. She accepted.

“I still have the piece of rose quartz. It is one of my most treasured possessions.”

“Squee!”

They all looked at Marble Pie again. The quiet mare slowly sank beneath the table, her face bright red.

Limestone blinked, her expression softening. “Huh,” she said. “That’s… kind of a nice story. Weird, a little sappy, but nice.”

“Mmhmm!” Marble Pie agreed, raising her eyes slightly.

“So, uhhh… you mentioned jokes?” Limestone asked.

“Affirmative,” Turing nodded. “If you would like, I will tell one now.”

Pinkie started to sweat. “Uhhh, ha ha, m-maybe we should save the jokes for later…”

“That will not be necessary, Pinkie Pie,” Turing said. “I will now initiate humor.”

Pinkie Pie forced herself to smile as the other Pies gave Turing their full attention.

“What is a rock’s favorite type of music?”

Limestone rolled her eyes. “Let me guess… rock and roll, right?”

Turing tilted her head. “Incorrect. Rocks, as inanimate objects that lack auditory senses, are incapable of hearing music or appreciating one kind over another, and therefore cannot truly have a favorite. Several, however, do produce distinct musical tones when struck with the appropriate object, which would at least make them passively a percussion instrument should you choose to use them as such. Still, they have no preference for the type of music you play with them, with the exception of Boulder, who has stated his preference for smooth jazz.”

They all stared back in silence.

“Initiating rimshot: ba dum ting.”

Maud smirked. “See?” she said, turning to the others. “Hilarious.”

“Ah, quite,” Cloudy Quartz said. “Yes, dear. Ha ha.”

“Ha… ha?” Igneous said, forcing a smile.

Limestone rubbed her temples. “Well, she definitely learned humor from you, Sis,” she groaned.


After dinner, Maud helped her mother in the kitchen to clean dishes. Turing had offered to help, but Cloudy Quartz had insisted that it wasn’t proper to ask a guest to help.

Of course, Maud wasn’t so oblivious that she didn’t figure out that her mother really just wanted to talk to her in private.

“I am glad that thou enjoyed the meal,” Cloudy Quartz said as she scrubbed a dish in the kitchen sink. “Thou seem to be in good health as well. I am glad that thy health hath not been neglected amid thy studies. Thy father and I hope to attend your graduation soon.”

“I’m excited about it too,” Maud said as she took the dish from her mother and began drying it. “So… what do you think about her?”

Cloudy paused for a moment before continuing to clean the next dish. “In truth, I know not what to say, Maudalina. Once we knew that thou had found a special somepony, I had prepared myself for nearly anything. I expected a fellow student of the rock arts, or a strong stallion from a farming family, or simply a pony who did share in thy… peculiarities.”

“Well… some ponies think Turing is peculiar,” Maud offered.

Her mother sighed. “That, I do believe. But it is the manner of her peculiarities that doth weigh so heavily on me. Simply put, we hoped that thou would bring home a real pony. At worst, we feared thou would simply bring home a rock or perhaps a statue. This… machine fashioned from minerals and ore clearly doth appeal to thy passion for rocks, but I worry that it is merely a continuation of thy tendency to assign personalities to things around you.

“It seems to mine eyes that this ‘robot’ is, in a manner of speaking, merely another Boulder.”

Maud’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly.

“Oh, dear daughter, I know that thou find it difficult to relate to others, but it doth not mean that thou needst give up on finding a mate of flesh and blood. Do not forego your happiness for the sake of a convenient curiosity!”

Maud sighed. “First, Mom, I think you owe Boulder an apology,” she said. “But either way, you don’t have to worry. Turing is a real pony. Even Princess Celestia said so. And you just had dinner with her. You heard her tell a joke. You talked to her just like anypony else. You’re right that it isn’t always easy for me to get along with other ponies. But Turing Test gets me. Not many ponies do. And that’s something we have in common. She makes me happy, and she makes me feel safe, like I’m not really so weird after all. I feel like I can stand strong with her, like a mountain of silica-rich quartzite, so I thought that would be enough for you and Dad to be happy for me too.”

“I am glad that thou hast found happiness, Maud,” her mother said, passing her another dish. “I only worry that thou art missing a chance for somepony greater. In truth, I simply find the very concept of… being with a metal, artificial creature to be confusing.”

Maud tilted her head to the side. “What do you mean, Mom?”

Cloudy Quartz cleared her throat. “I speak of relations, dear,” she said.

Maud blinked. “Oh.”

“Though it is not my wont to speak of it, I find joy and comfort in thy father, and I see not how thou canst find satisfaction with a cold, metal pony to share thy bed with. Yet thou say thou art satisfied. How?”

“Well, are you sure? We haven’t really talked like this before, Mom.”

“I would be remiss as thy mother,” she said, placing a hoof on her chest solemnly, “if I were to fail to give thee counsel on marital relations. Though I follow tradition and the old ways, I am not some ignorant, innocent foal. So speak plainly, daughter!”

Maud turned to face her directly. “Well, it’s true that Turing can’t really ‘feel’ things like normal ponies. It bothered her more than it bothers me. I think it still does bother her sometimes, and I hope someday I can make her feel how I feel with her.

“For now, it makes her happy to make me happy. And she tries very hard to keep me happy.”

“Well, that is good for her, but what of thee?”

“Well, she… hmm,” Maud said, pausing for a moment to rub her chin. “Actually, hang on.” She cupped her hoof to her mouth. “Turing!” she called. “Could you come in here, please?”

A few moments later, Turing Test walked into the room. “Yes, Maud Pie? What do you require of me? Were the dishes more difficult to do than you had anticipated?”

Maud shook her head. “Show Mom that trick you do.”

“Trick? Ah, understood.”

Turing then produced thumping electronic music and began flashing her eyes different colors and she began to dance what Vinyl Scratch had dubbed ‘The Robot.’

“No, not that one,” Maud said, going to her side. “I mean…”

She whispered something into Turing’s ear.

“Ah. Very well. Initiating in 3… 2… 1…”

Turing then began to vibrate. It was subtle at first, but then it grew in intensity and it rumbled through the floor, causing the whole house to shake and the dishes in the cupboard to rattle.

“Earthquake!” Pinkie shrieked from somewhere in the house. “Everypony get under the table! I’ll grab the emergency cupcakes!”

“Okay, Turing, that’s enough,” Maud said, holding up a hoof.

Turing ceased her vibrations and turned to Cloudy Quartz, who stood there slack-jawed as her spectacles slowly slid down her muzzle.

“I have found that with varying intensity applied to certain locations, this action produces a very positive reaction in your daughter, Mrs. Pie. For instance—”

“I think she’s got the idea, Turing,” Maud said, cutting her off. “Why don’t you go tell the family it was a false alarm and that there’s no earthquake?”

“Understood, Maud Pie,” Turing said. “I will do so.”

As she left, Maud looked back to her mother. “Well?”

Cloudy Quartz slowly nodded. “Thou… art indeed a lucky mare, Maudalina,” she said, adjusting her glasses. “Still, I should tell thee that your father and I reached a conclusion even before your arrival.”

Maud blinked. “What do you mean?” she asked.

Her mother narrowed her eyes. “Thou gavest thy word when thou left this farm that thou wouldst find a partner that we approved of, or else we would take thee to the Pairing Stone. Since thou did conceal your partner from us, we have decided that she must win the approval of not only your father and I, but also thy sisters. If so, then thou mayst do as thou wilt. If not, then I expect thee to keep thy word.”

Maud shut her eyes. “I won’t break my word,” she said quietly. “As long as everypony at least gives her a chance. I’m sure Turing Test will win everypony over.” Then she opened her eyes with a serene smile. “I’m sure of it. She’s amazing.”

“We shall see,” Cloudy Quartz said, giving her the last dish to dry. Then she smiled. “What I will say is that I am satisfied that thou art in an equal relationship. And if thy needs are met and this pony complements you so, then thou hast my blessing… provided thou canst obtain it from the others.”

Maud quickly dried the plate and returned the smile. “Thanks, Mom.”

“Now, let us rejoin the family and inform everypony of our decision.”

As they went into the living room, they saw Igneous standing in the middle of the room, his expression one of frozen horror and his hat skewed on his head. Marble was waving her hoof in front of his eyes.

“Dear!” Cloudy Quartz cried, dashing to his side. “What befell him?!”

“I am not certain,” Turing Test said, tapping her chin in thought. “I was merely explaining that the rumbling of the house he heard was not an earthquake, but simply me demonstrating to his wife the manner in which I please his daughter.”

Marble’s gray complexion turned completely red as she dashed from the room and Limestone smacked her forehead in exasperation.

“Nice gift your girlfriend got Dad, Maud,” she remarked sourly. “Just what he always wanted: an aneurysm.”

Author's Note:

It's that time again, folks! References! Gotta make up for the last chapter!

  • The story itself is named after the Daft Punk song "Robot Rock."
  • The Halloween sequence in the EQG world references my story The Iron Horse: Human After All
  • The lyrics of the song playing are from "Somebody's Watching" by Rockwell
  • Turing Test's costume is 2B, one of the protagonists of the video game Nier: Automata

  • Applejack's costume is meant as a vague reference to the supervillain the Scarecrow as he appeared in the animated series The New Batman Adventures

  • Human!Gadget's "Frau Blucher" prank references my favorite running gag from the Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein
  • This chapter is named after the 1960s comedy film of the same name.