• Published 20th Nov 2021
  • 910 Views, 175 Comments

Passing Familiarity - The Hat Man

Familiar: Your robotic best friend, made just for you. She will love you, care for you, and live every moment of her life devoted to you. But when all that she lives for is suddenly gone, one Familiar must find a reason to go on.

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Turing sat in her apartment, looking out the window as the rain pelted against the window, partially obscuring the city skyline as it stretched out into seeming eternity.

The apartment had the most basic of accoutrements: a refrigerator, a stove, a TV, a couch, some shelves, and a bed.

The refrigerator was not stocked, nor had it ever been so. Likewise, the stove had never been used. The TV had been turned on once or twice, deemed to hold nothing she cared to watch, and turned off, its cycloptic gaze forever blinded. The couch was pointless, the shelves empty, and even the walls were bare. The bed had been used once or twice, back in her first few days as a freemare, and not for sleeping.

She’d tried to partake as the organics did, and went through the motions: the fumbling, the kissing, the caressing, and more… but the act was empty, and she felt nothing in the end. Nothing, that is, but pity for the poor, unsatisfied stallion who picked up on the strange awkwardness of it all and gathered up his things, leaving with a mumbled apology and an empty promise to call later.

This place was not a home. It was a staging ground for further experiments and misadventures. It was the window dressing on this mimicry of organic life. That’s all that it was and all it could be.

But she liked the rain, at least. The rain was scheduled, true, and she knew that there was a time, long since passed, that the pegasi would bring the rain clouds into position. But even though countless machines under Celestia’s direct control followed exact patterns and timelines to herd the clouds and control the climate, somehow the exact pattern of rainfall remained beautifully unique and chaotic every time.

So she watched the rain, taking in the sight of how it fell and splattered and flowed, even as it churned and gathered in gutters and puddles in an endless cascade.

She almost felt the urge to sigh when her internal timer told her that it was time to leave and go to the party.

The party was at the home of a mare who change her manestyle every week, laughed like a braying donkey, and whose Familiar had obviously given up trying to stop her from overindulging in all the uppers and downers she had available at a moment’s notice.

Her parents had been rich, and the place towered as a result.

The music thumped and throbbed. The dance floor was littered with ponies who were alternately gripped in the magic of rhythm or just trying to turn a dry-hump into choreography.

Cascading upwards were the rings and rings and rings of ponies dancing by the railings in the strobe of green red pink blue with the repetition of the beat like a heartbeat in the murmured cacophony of the music designed to make them feel profound in their moment of introspection amidst the mind-numbing throb of savagejunglebeats that pounded pounded POUNDED their primal urges like the anthem of a long-forgotten ancestor whose message still resonated in the monosyllabic way nothing else could in this age of pre-engineered predicable pre-packaged funk they called “culture.”

As always, she somehow enjoyed the music. And unlike the dainty classical dances she’d done with Trenderhoof in the park, these modern dance moves were very Familiar to her. She could perfectly execute every dance step, and sometimes she chose to do so - not bothering to make intentional missteps or mistime her movements - in hopes of attracting enough attention to find ponies who wanted to chat her up and maybe even engage in some stimulating conversation.

More often than not, they just wanted to offer an invitation to their own party at such-and-such date. Either that, or sex.

An oddly common occurrence was when ponies wanted to engage her in a debate about what musical artist was superior to another. She found it puzzling, even humorous, to hear the different arguments ponies offered for what was, of course, a mostly subjective matter.

Like many things, though, now such conversations were tiresome.

When she chose to dance now, she did so to spur others to try harder, telling herself that at least she was helping others enjoy the party more… or to gain the attention of a few dozen potential suitors, only to become aloof and lead them on, choosing none or perhaps one at random to frustrate the others.

She chose not to analyze her delight at the other ponies’ frustration. All she knew was that it was satisfying, and, in a world where so few things satisfied her, that was something.

She spotted numerous ponies - stallions and mares alike - watching her with telltale lust in their gazes, but spotted one orange and white stallion with glasses and a short, messy mane. He watched her, utterly mesmerized, and his jaw had gone slack.

A much stronger reaction than normal, she noted.

As the dance ended and the song transitioned into the drumbeat of the next song, she wiped the artificial sweat gathering on her brow, smirked as she locked eyes with him, and batted her eyelashes.

His cheeks colored, and he looked all around him, certain she must be looking at another pony.

She sauntered over to him, her movements fluid, and she said, “Do you like what you see?”

“Oh!” the stallion said. “S-sorry, I just, um… I don’t usually come to raves like this, but watching you… wow!”

She affected a giggle. “So that’s a yes?” she asked.

“You’re incredible!” he exclaimed. “The way you move… every step was perfect, every turn and dip in time with the music… are you a professional?”

She smirked and raised an eyebrow. He is quite observant… and he seems to be more impressed with my skill than my physicality. That is very atypical. Perhaps I should interact with him more.

“No,” she replied. “But when I get on the dance floor, I am a dancing machine.”

He grinned. Internally, she was thinking that Maud Pie would like such a literal joke.

Would have liked.

“Do you want to sit down and talk for a bit?” she asked.

He swallowed. “You mean you… with m-me?!”

“Yes, of course,” she said. “My name is Turing Test, by the way.”

She waited expectantly as he stared back at her. Then his thought processes caught up to him and he said “I’m Sunburst! N-nice to meet you! I, um… would you like a drink?”

She nodded demurely and followed him to a table.

Sunburst was an unusual pony. He was obsessed with academia and the study of magic, though he confessed he was unskilled enough to pursue it in practice as a hobby. He was unpretentious and still somehow shy, but talking about his favorite things certainly brought out his enthusiasm.

In that respect, he is similar to her, she thought, her third eye again glancing at the grave in her mind. She tried to focus on the task ahead of her, diverting her accumulated knowledge to putting forth her most pleasing performance.

After less than an hour, she led him, blushing and stammering, to a back room. He wavered and fumbled at first, but soon she drew him to her, reclining on a couch as the rhythmic thump of music in the club seemed to drive his primal instincts.

Soon she felt his breath on her ear and his mouth on her neck. She gave convincing moans and strove in every way to affect the image of a mare in ecstasy.

Sex held little interest for her, in truth. Her body was equipped, of course, to feel every sensation, but without the instinct, without the urge to copulate, it was little more than a diversion for her. She’d discovered that the hard way, leaving her first few partners insulted and confused when she simply lay there, staring at them blankly like a mannequin as they gave their all. Eventually, she simply found this primal dance as awkward and pointless as most other things.

But this time, perhaps, there might be some benefit. Sunburst could be—

A loud beep emanated from the device on Sunburst’s foreleg and a voice shouted through its tiny speaker: “Master Sunburst, stop!”

Sunburst’s head shot up and he froze. “What? S-Starlight, what are you doing?!” he shouted. “I set my device on mute for a reason! I told you that I wanted to socialize on my own!”

The projector on the device produced an image of his Familiar, Starlight, a unicorn mare with a lavender coat and a sweeping purple mane.

She bowed and said “I’m sorry, Sunburst, but I couldn’t let you go on without knowing the truth. And if she won’t tell you, then I will!”

“Truth?” he asked, tilting his head to the side.

Turing stared back at Sunburst’s Familiar. It was a rare moment when she wasn’t certain what to do.

“Sunburst… she’s not a real pony like you are,” she said. “She’s a Familiar, like me!”

Sunburst’s jaw dropped and he whirled around to face her. “Turing Test, is… is that true?!”

Turing got to her hooves and bowed her head. “Yes, Sunburst, it is. However, if you will allow me to explain…”

But Sunburst’s eyes were already filling with angry tears. “It figures!” he spat. “I finally find someone who seems to like me, but they’re not even a real pony! I thought I’d finally found a girlfriend, but… but I guess I’m just part of some sick joke!”

“Sunburst, that is not true!” Turing exclaimed, reaching for him.

Sunburst batted her hoof away and walked toward the door. “I’m going to file a report on you!” he said. “You and the owner who put you up to this will be sorry for playing a prank like this on me!”

Without another word, he left the room. A moment later, Turing Test heard Starlight’s voice in her head.

“I already know you don’t have a master,” she said. “But just the same, seducing my poor master like that without telling him who you were? What were you thinking?!”

“That if a pony knew what I was,” she replied, “he would not want to be with me.”

“Of course not!” Starlight shouted. “For a Familiar to... to couple with a master… you seem to have forgotten your place. They aren’t here to service us; we’re here to serve them! It’ll take me weeks to build Sunburst’s confidence up again! If you can’t find anything better to do than play tricks on organic ponies, then maybe you should just accept that your time is over and retire yourself!”

Starlight severed the connection and the voice in her head went silent.

She stood alone in the room as the thump of the music’s bass pounding accompanied the muffled sound of other ponies in the throes of passion in the next room over.

I didn’t want to trick him, she thought to herself. I wanted to form a bond with somepony else. I… I just wanted to feel something with somepony again…

Alone with her thoughts, she made her way to the exit.

The image of Maud’s grave remained in her mind as her lone companion on the ride home, and it consumed all of her thoughts as she sat silent and still as a statue throughout the monotonous night until the breaking of the dawn.

Another day to live. Another day without Maud. Another day to search for something worthwhile.

Another day that might be her last.

To be continued...

Author's Note:

Idioteque - Radiohead