• Published 27th Jul 2021
  • 456 Views, 92 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...

  • ...

4 - The Elders

Buttercup had the lead, because she insisted. Long was right alongside her, yammering excitedly, "I wonder if they've seen a robot before. I never had, but there he is!" He waved at Giddyup wildly, not at all slowing his pace. "You are a he, right?"

"Correct." Giddyup emitted a soft equine noise of approval. "A difference between my mechanical line and biological horses."

This only brought more questions to Long Stalk. "Wait, what? Horses come in boys and girls." He wobbled his head left and right as he went over the two sexes he was aware of. "How's a boy the opposite of that?"

"All Giddyup Buttercups are boys when assembled." Giddyup nodded lightly. Everyone knew that, right? "Most horses used for riding or work are girls. I am uncertain why this is the case."

Both ponies turned to look at him over their shoulders. Buttercup cocked a brow. "Humans are weird."

"Still here." Stan was, in fact, still there, following with them. "The, uh, 'people' of this town seem calm." For the reaction he got at the gate, the ponies they saw seemed entirely relaxed.

Long snorted, turning back forward. "I already told you why. No alarms, no screaming. We're not under attack. And you're right next to two ponies they know, and we're not freaking out."

"Yeah." Buttercup nodded rapidly. "If we're alright with you, must not be so bad."

It was guilt by association, reversed. "Explains why th' guards said to stay close to you."

"Hey Buttercup." It wasn't the first, nor would be the last. Different ponies were eager to wave and greet Buttercup as she went past, proving she was a reasonably popular sort in that community of horses.

Long Stalk got a lot less hellos. Some, but not as many as Buttercup. "Can I come with you, to see the elders?"

Buttercup perked an ear at Long. "That's up to their guards. You know that. They may not even let me in..." She danced, but only for a moment. "Only one way to find out."

There was only one guard on duty. He watched with a sharp gaze, and slit eyes.

"A fellow robotic equine?" Giddyup accelerated towards the guard. "Greetings. I am unit Giddyup Buttercup. What is your model?"

The guard spread his leathery wings as he reared up, drawing a blade free in the motion. He had hands, mechanical hands. "Stop right there." Giddyup did stop as requested. "Good... Buttercup, the hell's going on?"

Buttercup gestured forward at the cybernetic pony. "This is Skyline. He is a guard of the elders, and he's kinda awesome."

Skyline waved their free hand. "You always say that." The little smile hinted he was not that opposed to being complimented. "Though, seriously, who're your friends and why are they here? For that matter, why are you here? The elders didn't call you."

Stan took in the deep blues of the bipedal pony before him, armed. "We aren't here to cause no trouble. That one." He hiked a thumb at Long Stalk. "He said the elders would want to see us."

Giddyup nodded so firmly his jaw clanked, bouncing open and slapping shut. "I never heard of the Skyline model. Can you neigh and trot?"

Skyline turned his sword on Stan. "You are a human." Not that this was much of a question. "You will stay right there." The sword bobbed in the air as he looked to Buttercup. "Do you do everything Long suggests?"

"Usually?" She shrugged softly. "Why?"

Skyline snorted, falling back to all fours. He didn't let go of the sword, trotting along with a soft clanging of the sword striking the ground lightly with each downward motion of his foreleg. "Stay right there!" And soon he was lost to sight.

"Elders." Skyline poked his head into the round building he was guarding. "Buttercup is outside, with a human and a horse robot."

The other ponies, the elders, one of each major tribe, inclined their heads in unison, though in different directions. The earth pony raised a hoof. "A horse robot? It's friendly?"

"Very." Skyline rolled his eyes. "I think he thinks I'm a robot too. Should I tell them to bugger off?"

The pegasus rose to her hooves, her flowing clothes clicking softly with the beads that ran down her like waterfalls. "Don't be so hasty, Skyline. Escort them in, this human, the robot, and Buttercup."

Skyline took the time to put his sword away properly, leaving it hanging in a loop. "What about Long Stalk?" The elders looked confused. "He's with her, hoping for a peek."

The unicorn elder mare shook her head softly. "Send him home. But tell him we appreciate his efforts. If he is here, he was undoubtedly involved." The others nodded in agreement.

"As you wish." Skyline returned to the others in a soft trot. "You, you, and you." He pointed at each, a thing ponies did not normally do. "With me. You." He pointed at Long. "Go home. The elders say thanks."

Long's ears quivered atop his head. "They do?! Wow..." He walked off with a pleased smile on his face.

"This way." Skyline turned right back towards the building. "Don't disrespect the elders. They watch over us, and they have the years to know which way is up." Skyline turned an ear back at the others. For however mechanical his hands and the ends of his forelegs were, the rest of him was entirely organic, to his fuzzy lightly tufted ears to the lighter blue that made up his mane and tail.

"Of course," blurted Buttercup with a faint blush as she followed.

Stan rapped a knuckle against Giddyup's side as he whispered, "Think he's calmed. The sword's put away."

"You are good at reading horse behavior," complimented Giddyup, not that sword use was typical of horse behavior. "Have I provided useful examples?"

"Sure have, bud." He patted his mechanical friend on the back as they headed inside.

The three elders were sitting up, expecting them. The earth pony nodded towards them, his beard wafting lazily slower than the rest of his head. "Just as reported. Are you a Giddyup?"

Giddyup recoiled. "You are aware of my model? You are the first in a very long time that I have not personally informed."

He reached up, running a hoof along his wispy beard. "It's been passed down. Once, the Giddyups were our nannies." The other two elders made soft noises of agreement.

Stan put up his hands. "Alright, hold up. Break that down fer me, real slow like."

Giddyup looked as proud as he could look without facial muscles. "We are designed to perfectly emulate horse noises and behavior. Well enough to raise living horses." Though his features were impassive, his voice was clearly proud and excited. "Where are the units that accomplished this?"

The unicorn inclined her head, beads rattling in the motion. "Gone, left behind when we left the nest." A little smile offered. "The vault would hold us no longer. Humans, like him." She directed her horn at Stan. "They were coming, and would find us. They would not be pleased... Has this changed?" She met Stan's eyes directly. "Would humanity accept us now? Speak the truth of it."

Stan waved his hands across one another in a strong negative. "I am not gonna lie like that. People trust me because I'm a straight shot, both meanings of the word. Yer all kinda strange." He shrugged. "But not, like, offensive or nothin'."

Buttercup waved at Giddyup. "Stan was adopted by Giddyup and learned how to be nice and good."

Giddyup shook his head at that. "Technically, Stan adopted me."

The pegasus spread her wings. "And still, good impressions were made. Giddyups, you are good robots, built with pure hearts. But most of humanity is without this influence... We will remain hidden." She looked to Stan with new focus despite the faint fogging of her older eyes. "That you are accompanied by one speaks well for you. Skyline, you are still here?"

"Of course, elder." Skyline dipped his head at the older pegasus. "Do you have need of me?"

The elder gestured at Skyline. "For most of us, sapience was the end goal. One we met. We would like to know the rest of the story. Human Stan, do you know how to operate a computer?"

Buttercup tilted her head. "Computer?"

That was more the reaction Stan expected from what seemed to be tribal mutants. Still, the elder clearly knew what they were. "Sure, just enough to not make trouble fer myself. Why?"

"Fortunes smile upon us today, praise harmony."

"Praise harmony," echoed the other two.

The unicorn nodded lightly. "We left our original stable some time ago. If you can enter it and discover all there is to be discovered... Bring it back to us, weave together the tattered fabric of our past."

Stan squinted a little. "I'm not an expert on mutant horses or nothin', but..." He gestured a bit lamely at the unicorn's horn. "The one outside with that could grab things. So what do you need me for?"

The unicorn elder shook her head softly. "We, the elders, know what a computer is, and what it contains, but even we do not know how to make them give us what we want. It is also some distance, across human lands." A little smirk. "Though most lands are human lands. Your people spread far and fast."

"One of our specialties... Shoulda seen it before the bombs dropped." Though that was mythology at that point even for Stan. "Wall to wall people. Anyway, that's a hell of a chore you're throwing down on me. The hell are you payin'?"

The earth pony elder nodded towards Giddyup. "Perhaps, if fortune and harmony smiles this day, you may find one of his peers."

Giddyup thumped against Stan with a burst of excitement. "We must go! I have not met another Giddyup. I would like to very very much. Please?" He trotted in place, his speaker issuing the odd echoed clopping. "Please. Just think of it, giddyup units that succeeded in raising horses. I have so many questions for them."

Stan let out a weary noise between a chuckle and an outright laugh. "Bribin' my partner? That's cold. Look, vaults are dangerous, one thing that tends to define 'em if there aren't people already living in 'em, and those people usually don't want you around, which makes 'em dangerous anyway."

"We will not send you alone." The pegasus looked to Skyline. "You will go with them."

Skyline's ears danced. "Your grace? Who will watch over you?"

The pegasus pointed past, the the outside. "We have other guards. You are a capable warrior. Do you refuse this task?"

"No!" squeaked Skyline. "Never." He shook his head quickly. "If you want me to go with them, I will." He dropped his head low in deference to the elders.

"About that..." Stan gestured at the strange... somehow even stranger pony that had bat wings and predator eyes and mechanical hands instead of forehooves. "Gonna explain all this?"

"They are blessed," spoke the earth pony.

"Cursed," argued the unicorn with equal gravity. "We would like to learn more, but that is locked in the same vault. The metal that makes him... clearly human design. Why? We don't know. Find out. Why has he not aged in so long? Find this out."

Wait... "If he's as old as you're implyin', why isn't he an elder, instead of a guard?"

"I'm not old," cut in Skyline, scowling at Stan. "I'm still young in body and thought. I won't take an elder's position without a single wrinkle to my name."

The earth pony sat up. "He is also of some... other tribe. The others would be nervous, to have him here... Not earth, nor pegasi, nor unicorn, but something... else."

Stan leveled a finger at the set of elders. "Gonna want a reward besides a happy Giddyup. Scrape together something actually worth somethin'" He turned for the exit. "Got a map to where this place is?"

"You're not leaving me behind." Buttercup hopped in front of Stan. "I want to see this vault. I'll help!"

Author's Note:

An adventure does properly begin. A party is formed, with the classic 4! Stan, Buttercup, Giddyup, and Skyline. Surely, with the four of them gathered, they can keep the typos at bay.

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