• Published 27th Jul 2021
  • 464 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...

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9 - Visiting the Past

The walls were metal, as were the floors and ceilings. Vaults were metal coffins, ready to be buried in. "Looks like we're coming in the supply closet." The room they were in that Stan was referring to had cleaning supplies. Mops, brooms, detergents. Everything one might need to get things sparkly.

Skyline looked around the Giddyup-lit gloom. "Shouldn't there be light? We didn't stagger around the dark when we were here. I think we'd remember that at least."

Buttercup started circling the room, peeking at each object with wide and curious eyes. "Maybe they have to be turned on? Maybe the land slide broke them?"

Giddyup nodded as he started for the closed door. "Both are possibilities. We will discover. If the vault was buried, the likelihood of dangerous mutants is considerably reduced. We may encounter robots, but they should be friendly."

"We can hope." Stan took up position behind Giddyup, waving his flickering flashlight about. "Can you get that door open?"

Giddyup reached out a metal hoof, tapping at the door. "It is not opening." Well, at least automatically it wasn't. He looked left and right with slow methodical rotations. "Access port not located."

"Let's see." Skyline came in, reaching out to grab the door at the bottom, working his metal digits in just enough to catch and try pulling and heaving, but the door ignored his futile attempts. "We did not come this far just to be stopped by a closed door."

A loud hiss sounded from the door, sending Skyline scrambling back. It began to unfold and open, as if the door had heard his complaint. "What?"

Elsewhere in the room, Buttercup released a handle from her mouth and trotted over to join them. "I found something. Did it help?"

Stan chuckled softly at the whole thing. "You coulda killed us, but nah, worked out. Lucky us."

Giddyup started forward into the open archway. "We may proceed. The other Giddyups may be present. How should I greet them?"

Stan shrugged at that. "How would you wanna be said hi to?"

"An excellent thought." Giddyup went quiet, perhaps considering a moment. "Oh, yes. Of course." And so he began to nicker. Soft nickers that were the horse equivalent of 'come closer.' To a human, a curious noise. To a fellow Giddyup unit, surely the meaning would be clear!

Skyline raised an ear at the repeated noise. It was not hard for actual living equines to notice that the nickers were on a loop, cycling through. A robot thing? "Think that'll work? You sound like a mother calling her foals in the dark."

"That is not un-similar to our situation." And so Giddyup continued his nickers.

A pity the first robot they encountered was not a giddyup unit. With a soft fwoosh of flames, a handy robot approached without guile or subtlety. "How lovely," she? spoke, two of her eyes focused on the ponies, one on either. "They will be so happy to see them returned."

Stan's grip on his flashlight tensed. "Uh, hey. You know them?" He flicked a finger between the two ponies.

"Of course I do," assured the female sounding robot. "Well, not that one personally." She directed one of her metal grasping parts at Buttercup. "But that one." And so it turned to Skyline. "How large you've grown!"

Giddyup cantered in place with clangs of metal against metal. "It is nice to meet you. I am Giddyup Buttercup, but you may refer to me as Giddyup. What is your name?"

"Miss Aunt, Miss Nanny unit" replied the jet-propelled robot without delay. "Nice to meet you, dear. You seem more excitable than the other giddyups."

That got his attention. "Are they present? I would like to speak with them."

"They are here... But they're asleep. Without any ponies to watch over, the poor dears didn't know what to do with themselves."

Buttercup thrust a hoof up at the strange new robot. "So why aren't you asleep too?"

"Someone has to keep this place clean," she argued as if it were simple fact. "I helped in raising the ponies, but that was not my real job, which hasn't changed one bit."

Buttercup tilted her head at the Miss Nanny. "You talk differently than Giddyup. In a good way, I mean."

"Poor Giddyup is not made for casual conversation."

"Hey, don't put him down." Stan patted the back of his robot friend defensively. "He talks just fine."

Giddyup inclined his head. "It is a fact. My conversation is designed for upkeep and instructions, not casual conversations. I have had to learn how to do that. I am pleased that you approve of my progress." Giddyup raised a hoof to point at Stan. "This is my child, Stan."

"How lovely! I'd offer you a cookie, but we're all out." Aunt sighed at her pitiable lack of cookies to offer. "You're a little old for a child though, aren't you?"

Stan could but laugh at that. "Story of my life right there. Still--"

"I see," interrupted Miss Aunt. "You are providing medical supervision. How kind of you. Or were you ordered? Still a nice thing to do either way."

Giddyup inclined his head the other way with a few clicks that echoed on the metal walls. "Stan is not in need of medical attention. I attempt to avoid such requirements."

"With ya on that one," got out Stan in a half-chuckle.

"Are you certain?" Aunt brought in one of her big eyes on Stan, sweeping it up and down over him. "Poor thing looks like he's a bit under the weather."

Buttercup and Skyline looked at Stan with new eyes. Was he sick for a human? They couldn't tell. Sure, they had seen a few other humans, the traders, but what made a human healthy or sick? With such a pitiful index of examples...

"What ah got there ain't a cure for." Stan waved away the concerned robot. "And it ain't killin' me."

Aunt inclined her eyes apart. "Well, I am glad to hear that, little thing. If you feel bad, you just let Aunt know. She has the cure." She raised one of her attachments, a medical hypo coming into view.

"Handy..."

"Oh, no. I'm a Miss Nanny unit. Mister Handies are very different." She looked very much like a mister handy, painted white and with a female voice. "Now, I should warn. The guards are still awake and will react very poorly to unexpected guests." She pointed at the ponies, then Giddyup. "You three should be fine."

Stan reached for his dangling gun. "Great..."

Giddyup was quiet and still a moment. "Can you introduce us? If they are aware we are permitted to be here, we can avoid a violent confrontation."

Miss Aunt raised a grasper as if she could direct her voice, which she couldn't really. "Your child has a bit of an attitude problem. Do you want me to discipline them?"

"Ah can hear you." Stan rolled his eyes. "And it ain't an attitude problem."

"Your offer is appreciated but I must decline. My child has limited parent permissions, and I am their assigned nanny."

"Oh, so sorry." She patted Giddyup on his head. "I don't mean to intrude on your business. Now, about the guards... I could try. They're awful conversationalists. As worried as you are, you're a mile better than they are. I'm not flattering, promise."

Skyline nodded at Miss Aunt. "Yeah, give it a try. Just don't lead them back here." He pointed at the hallway before them. "Unless they're alright not attacking any of us."

Buttercup pointed a hoof at herself and Skyline in a wobble. "They won't attack us. Ponies are supposed to be here." Her eyes darted to Miss Aunt. "Right?"

"Of course you do." Miss Aunt delivered her pats to Buttercup. Patting ponies and equines of all sorts seemed to be in her list of things one should do. "Now you wait here and I'll be back." With a soft rush of flames, she took off back in the direction she had come in, vanishing into the dark as she turned a corner.

Giddyup turned to the others. "I would like to proceed, but I will not if Stan cannot accompany us."

"Thanks, Bud." He rested a hand on Giddyup's back. "Let's wait for that robot to come back."

"Miss Aunt," supplied Buttercup. "She said that was her name. She seems nice."

"She has a name that does not match her unit." Giddyup fidgeted a bit in place. "I wonder how she decided on it."

Skyline raised a brow at that. "Is... thinking of a name hard to do?"

"Can you do it?" Giddyup leaned in, metal snoot almost touching Skyline's. "That is not a function I have. I can be Giddyup, or Buttercup. Buttercup is not permitted. My child can assign a name for me to use."

Buttercup directed a hoof at Stan. "That's you." Just in case anybody there had forgotten who that could ever be.

Skyline snorted as he moved ahead of the others, to sit in guard. "If any guard does approach, they'll see me first." He flexed his mechanical right hand. "I belong here, where I came from, literally. They shouldn't tear me apart."

Stan leaned against a wall that was kind enough to support him. "Huh. Did you want another name?"

"I am happy with whatever name you are happy with." Giddyup nodded at what seemed to be basic sense to him. "I would ask that you not use profanity. I do have filters for that."

"Well, shoot." Stan ran his hand down along Giddyup as if stroking Giddyup's spine, not that such nerves really existed in the robot. "There goes my first idea. Kiddin'. I was pretty used to Buttercup."

Buttercup fluffed at that, cheeks puffing. "Yeah yeah, no using that," allowed Stan. "I'll think about it, but fer now, how 'bout we don't get mauled by angry robots?"

"Acceptable." Giddyup's eyes were focused down the hallway, sending light that way. "I do not hear them. This vault must be of considerable size."

"Duh." Buttercup rolled her eyes. "It had a whole herd of us ponies galloping around it. You don't do that in a small space."

Elsewhere, Miss Aunt tapped at the side of one of the roaming guard units. It turned on its treads towards her, staring with a baleful red eye that glowed in the dark. "Sorry to bother you. I know you're really busy. I appreciate the work you do, keeping us safe."

"What do you require?"

Miss Aunt raised a grasper up as if to stroke a chin she didn't have. "If a human arrived, what would you do?"

"Any unauthorized individual is to be exterminated." His guns revved up, ready to perform that action. "Are you reporting an intrusion?"

"What if they were authorized?" tried Miss Aunt, floating a bit closer on her jet of fire.

"Then I would not react." A pause. "Unless they issued a command."

"Well, they are authorized. They brought us two of our dear ponies, and a backup giddyup unit."

"Affirmative." No celebration. No joy. Just acceptance.

Miss Aunt began to describe Stan. "He's easy to recognize." She went on about his simple wasteland garb, his longarm, and... "Be gentle, I think he may be sick. I'm not sure what with, but that skin condition doesn't look healthy at all. Don't bring it up."

"Affirmative."

Miss Aunt could expect little more from the guard. "Can you inform the others? It would be quite a mess if he were attacked by them. Think of the performance review we'd get."

"Affirmative." And he rolled off without a goodbye. The command had been given and accepted. That was the end of the conversation by default.

"Giddyup is so much better." She turned away from the sentry and went to see if she could find another herself. No reason to leave it all in the treads of one guard.

She so very dearly wanted to have guests over.

Author's Note:

Welcome to the vault! So far, not so bad. As noted, it being sealed reduced the odds of mutants or bandits. Just robots... The first one's nice at least.

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