• Published 27th Jul 2021
  • 1,067 Views, 124 Comments

Suck it up, Buttercup - David Silver

He marched through the wastes. He was also bright yellow, and had a tail that did not sway much. He was also named Buttercup, not exactly a manly name, but it was his. His friend needed him. What is that? It looks like him, but also very not...

  • ...

11 - Neigh and Trot

"Jackpot." The flickering green light was familiar enough. Stan approached with greedy fingers, but there was no keyboard. There was instead two large pads. "Seriously, they didn't include one normal one for when an engineer stopped by?"

Aunt flew in smoothly to the side of the computer. "It may be stored. We've never needed one before. I'm so very sorry."

Giddyup examined the computer with microsweeps of his head. "Interface port not detected."

"Right here." Aunt directed behind the computer but didn't touch it.

"What did you find?" At the door to the small library were their friends, new and old. Skyline was the one leading them, Buttercup behind him. Fend and Yellow took up the rear, gladly keeping an eye on their children.

Fend advanced past Skyline towards Giddyup. "All of our children are so lively."

"We would not want it differently," agreed Giddyup. "Can either of your children operate this?"

Fend and Yellow moved to see the keyboard as Skyline and Buttercup did the same to see what Stan was considering.

Buttercup tapped at the big buttons her hoof fit in easily. "What's it supposed to do?"

Stan gestured with his, for the moment, useless fingers "They are keys. You press them in the right order and the computer tells you things and does things." The fingers snapped into a jerked thumb in a wave at the four robots present. "Unlike those, who you can just talk to."

Skyline's expression brightened. "This is what we came for. Good job. Now..." He leaned in over the buttons, examining them. Wouldn't that be dangerous?" He pointed a hoof at what seemed like a little upthrust portion of the pad that'd poke a poke right on the frog of their hoof.

Fend leaned over to see what Skyline was pointing at. "Are you prepared to learn another ability? Yes. No. I will default to yes."

Skyline held up a finger. "Hold on. I think I got this one..." He looked to Giddyup. "This is one of those connecting things." He turned up his metal hoof and pointed with the other hand at where the data port was. "If I put this--" He pointed to the pointy bit. "--on that, I'll connect."

Fend danced in place. "You are correct! What a talented child you are. That deserves [Reward offering table not defined]!" He noticed the error as cleanly as anyone else there. "I'm sorry. I don't have a reward table for fully grown children. You still deserve one."

Miss Aunt inched closer. "Being an adult, the only proper thing to do is to ask what they might want. If it's reasonable, we can try to make it happen."

Fend inclined his head. "Suggestion accepted." He turned his head back to Skyline. "What reward do you desire?"

Skyline let out an equine snort. "Right now, I want information." He pressed his hoof onto the pad. A soft click sounded as the projection made contact with something internal to his hoof, and he went still.

Stan grunted softly. "I thought that was most of my job, working the computer." He shrugged. "I still got you here, held up my side of the agreement an' everythin'." He leaned back against a wall. "Not much to do but wait."

Fend fidgeted with metal taps. "I did not complete my instructions on this ability. There is a possibility of self harm as a result." He leaned towards the unresponsive Skyline. "I must rescind your reward."

"Don't be mean," scolded Aunt. "He was excited. Even grown children do that sometimes. I do hope he's alright." Not that there was much of a way to see with Skyline sitting placidly as he was. "Would the rest of you like a snack? I'll fetch some." And off she jetted to be a good host.

Skyline hit the ground, ear twitching. Unlike the time he had connected with Giddyup, there was a sense of space. He was standing on a bright green surface of grass extending to the horizon with just enough variation to make it look slightly hilly, rather than a flat sheet. "Hello?"

A pony charged past him close enough that its tail whipped Skyline across the snout, not that it seemed to care. It was not alone, an entire sizable herd charging past him in a thunder of pounding hooves that he was not a part of. "What...?" Some small part of him wanted to follow the herd. Surely they knew something. Surely it was safer with them.

Skyline started ahead, not following the herd of ponies shrinking in the direction they had gone. "This is a computer, right?"

It was. He knew that. But he hadn't been sure a moment before. Suddenly he was sure. It was an uncanny feeling, having certainty, a confirmation, thrust upon him. "Why do I exist?" And he stopped existing.

He had no body and no voice. He was a formless point of perception. There were several studious humans in labcoats. They all stood rigidly, lighting up from below when they talked, but not moving. Their lips didn't move either. Words spilled from them without emotion or body language.

"The ponies are ready," stated the first pillar of a person.

"Almost," flatly noted the third, none of them expressing. "I recommend a leader."

"Why not an egalitarian system?" proposed the fourth just as flatly. "More of a democracy."

The second light up. "The leader does not have to negate the idea of a democracy."

Skyline had no idea what was going on, but he watched, hoping to learn something.

The first lit up. "Like a president."

"Exactly like that," agreed the second without emotion. "Just because they are in charge does not mean they have to make the rules."

The scene faded. A filmy scene played, like an old projector. "We're so close." A human, the... third? labored over some device Skyline had no idea of. "Damn them. Human failings destroying a human world. We can do better." He ran his fingers over a keyboard. "But we're out of time."

"Done?" #2's head leaned into view, eyes showing the fatigue of many long days without rest. "Tell me you're done."

"As done as I will be." He stood up. "We don't have time to let them grow now. I'm setting--" The room shook violently. "The computers will finish this for us."

#4 ran into view, hands fretting over one another. "We have a vault, right here. We could hide ourselves. We don't have to die today."

#2 grabbed #4 by the collar. "We all agreed to this! Humanity brought this on itself."

#4 wrenched off his own glasses. "Damn the rest of them. I didn't do anything wrong! Why do I have to die?!"

#2 shoved #4 back, almost knocking him over. "These are our last moments. We can at least face them with dignity."

#3 let out a slow sigh as he stood up. "It's out of our hands. Nobody who's not a Vault-Tec employee is getting in there now."

The recording ended. Skyline was seated on the grassy field, shivering and rattled. That had not been his memory, but he saw it as if it had been one. He had seen the past. "I... see..." Sort of... "I need to... leave."

With a sharp gasp, Skyline roused suddenly, thrown clear of the connection at his own request.

"You alright?" Buttercup was leaning in from the right, blinking at him. "You look tired."

"I saw our creators." Skyline rose to his hooves. "Few are the creatures that get that chance, and I'm not sure I am better off for it."

Stan shrugged softly. "Sure they do. You said thanks to yer parents? Ya did it."

"I didn't." Skyline hissed softly. "My mother, yes... But no father. And I... I don't understand." He set his hooves on the side of his head. "Buttercup, I need a thinking run."

"On it." She practically bounced, hooves trotting in place. "Where can we run?"

"This way!" joyfully announced Yellow, leading the ponies away towards the freshly tended field. "I look forward to seeing you neigh and trot."

"Neigh and trot." Buttercup nodded as she followed. "Maybe a gallop and a whinny."

Yellow perked up. "That would be delightful," he said with astonishment. "Fend, are you coming?"

"Shortly. Please monitor my child for me."

"Affirmative." The two giddyups backing each other up without complaint as the ponies fled.

Fend turned to Stan and Buttercup. "He was injured."

Buttercup inclined his head. "He seemed to be in good health?"

Stan knocked the side of Buttercup. "Not every injury is on the outside. Skyline done saw somethin' that shook him up real good, even ah could see that."

Fend nodded quickly at Stan. "You understand. Do you have any recommendations? My experience with grown children is limited. Even when there were many ponies, the grown ponies were taken care of primarily by Miss Aunt. We were assigned to foals to educate them." He began his nervous little dance. "I wish to do well by my child, but I do not know how."

Stan reached for the familiar and yet strange buttercup, patting Fend on the head. "Hey, ah get it. Sometimes we don't know what to do, but we know what we wanna do, right?" Fend nodded against his hand. "Right now, I think he's doin' the right for him. Let him run and think." He looked to Giddyup. "In the meanwhile."

Giddyup was circling the computer without a command. "Port detected. Please insert cable." His cable popped free of his side, clattering to the ground limply. He had no ability to get it where it needed to be.

Fortunately, he had a very good child. Stan grabbed the cable and lined it up with the port he could see. "Hope this works." And in it went with a satisfying click. "It took about an hour fer Skyline. Doubt it'll be much faster, possibly a long longer."

Fend nodded at Stan. "While we wait, we can monitor the others. " He directed a hoof where the others had gone. "You should leave a note for Giddyup."

"Good idea." He fished out a pen and a pad, tearing off a sheet of paper with a quick note and setting it on the back of the computer where Giddyup would awaken facing it. "So where'd they go offta?"

"If I had to guess--" His words ended as Aunt powered into view. "Hello."

"I was bringing you snacks," she reminded, holding a tray of finger foods. "Where'd the others go?" She held out the tray towards Stan, who availed himself to a sugary cake. A fine taste, if a bit stale with time. Not freshly baked. "Oh." It became rather obvious as the descended a flight of stairs onto the grassy field where the two ponies were running alongside one another, laughing more than neighing as they danced and raced in sprints that both seemed to enjoy without spoken words of when to start or stop.

They were horse playing in the most literal sort Stan had ever seen. "Huh... They're havin' fun."

Fend nodded firmly. "They are engaged in acceptable horse behavior. There he is." He spotted Yellow, watching them rather than chasing them. "Did you want to continue?" He was looking at Miss Aunt.

"If they want to. Little dears look like they're having a lot of fun." Miss Aunt went around the side of the field along a cement sidewalk, perhaps to avoid setting the lush grass on fire. "Snacks," she called, shaking her held plate lightly.

Soon there were two ponies in front of her. Buttercup reared up and snatched one of the treats off its plate, munching up the soon-gooey pastry. "Mmm!"

"This is very sweet," noted Skyline, feeding himself at a less hurried pace. "Do you have a drink?" With a loud hiss, an arm thrusted up, holding up a jug of some sort of fluid that sloshed, unseen in it. "Oh... Thank you."

The playing paused for snack time, a time Stan was welcome to join. "So, what'd you see?" he asked as he sank down to sit with the ponies.

Author's Note:

Do you understand what Skyline saw? What manner of typo returns to haunt us?

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