• Published 12th Jan 2022
  • 1,849 Views, 39 Comments

Mechanized Misadventures - Some Leech

Anon continues to unravel the mysteries of Fortuna, his arcane automaton of a friend...

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Movie Mayhem

“Is this really necessary, Traveler?” Fortuna inquired, twisting around to peer at the sweating, wheezing man.

Having tilted the fortune-telling automaton’s housing to one side, barely able to hold the weight of the infernal thing, he frantically kicked a rolling dolly under one corner of her boxy frame. “Since the jackass who designed you didn’t think to include wheels, this is the best solution I could come up with.”

Moving her was not an easy task, mostly because whoever made her neglected to give her any reasonable means of mobility, but he wasn’t going to throw in the towel - not by a long shot. The past few weeks with her around had been more amusing than he cared to admit, even if he still didn’t fully comprehend everything she was capable of, and he wanted to thank her - as such, having earned a few extra bits from hawking refurbished furniture, he’d planned something special for her; but first he’d have to get her rolling. Easing her onto the portable platform, he straightened up and wiped his brow.

Watching the man walk around her front to her opposite side, she cocked her head. “My powers of prediction wane. Tell me, what are you doing exactly?”

“Considering you’re either fucking with me or have a faulty memory, since you’ve already asked five times, I may as well spill the beans. I’m taking you to the movies,” he grunted, bracing his legs and heaving her fully onto the cart.

“Movies?” she parroted, her right eye flickering.

“Yeah,” he replied, kneeling down to adjust her positioning, “like a film. Come on, you’re not that old ~ are you?”

“A moving picture show!” she exclaimed, finally putting the pieces together. “I have never been to one myself, although I have heard tales that they’re quite the spectacle!”

Strolling around behind her, he grasped the push bar of the dolly, leaned in, and shoved her forward. “Well they’re running a special tonight, so I thought it would be a fun - Mmmph - way to kill the afternoon.”

Having finally gotten her moving, he drove her past his office and towards the main gate. He’d already gotten the go-ahead to close an hour early, even though his boss had given him an exceptionally incredulous look, yet that was the easy part - the hard part would be wheeling her across six city blocks and to the theater. Though a good bit of the trek would be downhill, making the trip there an interesting mix of easy and terrifying, he was already dreading lugging her back to the scrapyard at the end of the evening.

Briefly stopping just outside the exit, taking care that she wouldn’t roll off without him, he chained the entrance and flipped the Open sign to Closed. He knew it would be a trial to haul her around, and he wasn’t really sure if she’d even enjoy going to see a movie, but it was the least he could do for her - well, besides trying to fix her up a bit. Leaning to the side, peering past her, he glowered.

“Just tell me if I’m going to run anything over,” he remarked. “It’s not like I can see that -”

“Fire hydrant!” she blared, bringing him to a screeching halt.

Nearly losing his footing and faceplanting into her back panel, he recovered and tensed his legs. “What side?”

“Two blocks ahead, on our right,” she coolly responded.

Holding her steady, lest she trundle down the street uncontrolled, he screwed his eyes shut and shook his head. “I meant if I’m about to run anything over - like if it’s right ahead of us.”

“You should really be more specific with your instructions,” she quipped.

“Yeah, sure, says the one who farts out crackerjack fortunes to foals with spare bits,” he countered.

Though he couldn’t see her, he heard what he could only assume was the mechanical equivalent to a peevish huff. “Traveler, they are hardly nebulous. Did you know I foresaw the rise and fall of Discord, Lord of Chaos?”

Uh huh -” he murmured, “I sure do…”

He honestly couldn’t say if she’d mentioned that supposed detail, after all the wild stories she’d told him. According to her, she’d done everything from meet the Princesses and travel the globe to foretell a division of the pony tribes and some sinister, inexplicable nightmare called Pony Life; it really wasn’t his fault that he couldn’t keep all her tall tales straight. Focusing on simply getting them to their destination without crashing, he issued the periodic, noncommittal ‘Mmmhmm’ and halfheartedly listened to her blather on.

Five blocks and what felt like a pint of sweat later, he finally spotted the illuminated marquee of the cinema. While he was glad that they’d made it in one piece, there was one final hurdle he’d have to overcome - one which would hinge heavily on his companion. Bringing them to a stop on a level piece of sidewalk, he strolled around and leaned through the open pane of Fortuna’s booth.

One of the few successes he’d managed to address the broken glass surrounding her compartment. With a bit of innovation, a busted carriage that had been in the yard for nearly a year, and copious amounts of elbow grease, he’d installed retractable windows for her. The motorized panes protected her from the elements, allowed her some modicum of freedom, and kept any of her visitors from potentially cutting themselves.

“I have two very important questions,” he began, conspiratorially looking around. “First of all, would you rather see a horror or a comedy?”

Knitting her motorized brow, she rubbed her chin. “A comedy would be nice.”

He nodded and anxiously licked his lips, hoping she wasn’t about to short circuit from what he was about to ask. “Alright. Second big one ~ can you pretend to be my date?”

The mechanized mare reared back, sparks flying from one ear, and held a forehoof to her chest. “Pretend? Traveler, we don’t have to pretend.”

Without saying another word, she lurched forward and pressed her lips to his cheek. He hadn’t been sure how she’d react, but the little kiss was the last thing he could have expected. Dumbstruck, seeing the light in her good eye wink, he scrunched his nose. Dismissing his curiosity about how one would court an automaton, he pulled back and waved his hand.

“It’s for the movie; they’re letting couples see a feature for half off,” he explained. “If we act like we’re an item, we’ll get -”

The sound of servos and a dull hum cut him off, as her housing began to shudder violently. Stepping back and away, fearing that he may have activated some unholy and more than likely dangerous feature of hers, he glanced around for something - anything to take cover behind. After a number of particularly devastating parlor tricks of hers, including one which had nearly burned down the scrapyard, he wasn’t about to take his chances with her.

Instead of an explosion or some arcane maelstrom, something even more surprising transpired. Four small hatches opened on lower portions of her housing, before a quartet of long, thick, serpentine appendages crept from her booth. The doorways were so perfectly fitted that he’d never noticed them, nor had he seen any traces of the appendages inside her undercarriage, leaving him amazed by the development. As the limbs fully extended and pressed to the ground, supporting themselves on claw-like hands, she pushed herself from the dolly and stepped forward.

“To answer your question, I can pretend,” she giggled, issuing a pair of air quotes with her hooves, “to be your date.”

“You have legs?!” he croaked, disregarding her acknowledgement.

Striding past him, like some robotic-pony version of a comic book super villain, she smugly grinned over at the gobsmacked man. “You never asked if I did.”

Too stunned to be upset with her, turning and watching her ponderously move to the ticket counter, he pinched the bridge of his nose. Celestia help him - he would figure out all the tricks she had up her nonexistent sleeves, even if it took him years to do it. As he spun around and marched after her, having kicked the dolly into an alleyway, he fished into his pocket and retrieved his careworn wallet.

“Two for Team Equestria, Friendship Police,” he intoned, slapping a number of bits onto the counter.

The clerk, a little pony wearing an usher’s hat, stared blankly between him and the then-towering, fortune-telling android. The shocked reaction was one he’d become all too accustomed to, being the only human in Equestria, so he politely cleared his throat and slid the coins over to the stricken stallion. Be damned if he was going to let a dismayed employee stop him from seeing a movie, not after he’d busted his ass to bring Fortuna all the way to the theater.

“Two for Team Equestria, Friendship Police,” he repeated, “please.”

Numbly nodding, keeping his eyes on the automaton, the clerk rang up the register, deposited the bits, and printed off two tickets. “H…here you are, Sir, enjoy the show.”

As if to emphasize the point, or possibly just to devil her companion, Fortuna tilted her booth forward, leaned out the front window, and pecked the man’s cheek. “Thank you, fine plebeian. My coltfriend and I are going to watch a talkie at your fine establishment! Traveler, come, let us procure refreshments in the lobby!”

“I - uh - sure, Honey,” Anon faltered, affectionately taking her proffered forehoof in his hand.

Though it may have been laying it on a little thick, their trick worked flawlessly - that or the employee was so nonplussed by seeing a literal alien and a robot to question the discount. As he opened and held the door for his date, she lowered herself and awkwardly entered the building. As impressive as it was to see her maneuver around, a potential issue came to mind - seating.

“Hey, can you go and see if you can find us somewhere to sit? They should have a handicapped seating area in the cinema,” he noted, strolling over to the concession stand.

Whatever magical engine powering her sputtered and backfired, as she issued a crisp salute, wheeled around and ominously stomped away. Silently praying that she wouldn’t spontaneously combust or suffer from some catastrophic malfunction, he nervously watched her disappear down a side hallway. While he did consider himself lucky that he wouldn’t have to push her back to the yard, once they were finished with the movie, he wondered what other secrets she’d been hiding from him.

“Can I take your order?” a cheerful mare chirped.

Um -” he hummed, studying the menu, “I’ll take a large popcorn and two bottles of pop.”

Absentmindedly strumming his fingers on the countertop, his mind wandered. Thus far, Fortuna had shown the ability to unintentionally cast devastating magic, could sprout legs seemingly from nowhere, held dubious powers of divination, and owned an assortment of brick-a-brac. He’d assumed he’d seen or at least heard of everything she could do, but the development with her tentacle-like appendages completely upended that notion. Since tomorrow was a Saturday, meaning he’d only half a half-day’s shift ahead, he made a mental note to bring his tool kit and have a second foray into her interior, if only to have a second look for damaged components or joints needing lubrication.

“Sir,” the mare called, snapping him from his stupor, “here’s your order!”

Grabbing up the tub of popcorn and the two bottles of soda, he nodded his thanks and made for the theater. Had his hands been free, he would have kept his fingers crossed that Fortuna would have found somewhere ideal for them to sit. At worst, she may have to occupy the aisle or situate herself at the very front of the theater, forward of the rows of chairs, but he hoped it wouldn’t come to that; given that it was her first time seeing a movie, he’d like her to enjoy the experience.

As he turned a corner and walked into a cavernous corridor, with theater doors lining either side of the hallway, he stopped dead in his tracks. Lingering not a dozen feet ahead of him, resting one flexible leg against a Pac Mare arcade cabinet, stood Fortuna. Snickering to herself, softly caressing the game machine with her clawed appendages, she fanned herself with a forehoof. Fuck if he knew what he was looking at, but he the sight was both baffling and inexplicably frustrating.

“I thought you were my date,” he quietly demanded, trotting up to her side.

Twisting around, somehow blushing, she peered down at him with a spooked expression. “W…well I - Tzt - thought we were pretending! It’s not my fault that this fine contraption is so colorful and chatty!”

Looking past her and to the illuminated screen, seeing little more than the Insert Bit To Play flashing, he pursed his lips and squinted up at her. “Come on, we gotta find somewhere to sit.”

Seeing his way into their auditorium, hearing his automated associate following along behind him, he surveyed the interior of the spacious chamber. There weren’t all that many ponies present, leaving plenty of empty seating available, but that wasn’t what drew his eye. Much to his relief, there was a vacant row of chairs near the front of the theater hall with empty spaces for those in wheelchairs; while the area wasn’t exactly designed to be used by a lumbering, sapient machine, they’d fit the bill nicely.

As he made his way down the central aisle, he smiled and tried to ignore the flabbergasted looks from the spectators. Silly though it was, he couldn’t help but take a bit of amusement from the spectacle he and his friend were unintentionally making. Reaching his destination and easing himself into an empty seat, he looked over while Fortuna parked herself beside him.

Her limbs retracted, concealing themselves from whence they came, as her eyes drifted over to the obscene tub of popcorn in his lap. “You know I could have made some fresh for you,” she whispered, the lights dimming from above.

Shush -” he hissed, pointing up to the screen, “it’s about to start.”

The room went dark, the overhead speakers barked to life, and the trailers began to roll, as a hush fell over the audience. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d gone to an honest to goodness theater to watch a show, spending most of his free time tinkering or reading, so he was a bit excited to see the film. From everything he’d heard, the movie was pretty damn funny, being a satire of how the Elements of Harmony used the power of friendship to solve everything, and it had gotten rave reviews. While the opening credits played, filling the air with a crescendo of overly dramatic music, he munched away on his popped corn.

To his amusement, the critics didn’t disappoint; it only took a handful of minutes until he was slapping his knee and nearly aspirating his cola. “Do they seriously think you can hug a bugbear like that?” he chuckled, elbowing his companion’s housing.

Her lack of response was a bit odd, prompting him to shift his focus from the show and over to her. Tranquil within her booth, holding her forehooves together before herself, she rested completely inert and inactive. His mood immediately soured, realizing what had happened.

Hey,” he softly grouched, knocking on her casing, “you’re missing the movie.”

Though it was rare, he’d caught her sleeping a handful of times before. As near as he could figure, going off what he’d seen, she’d typically power down when she wasn’t busying herself with something or chattering away, which was exceptionally rare. Rapping on her window, drawing a vehement Sssssssh from somebody behind him, he rolled his eyes, dug into his pocket, and produced a single bit.

Feeding the coin into her slot evoked an immediate response, causing her eyes to go alight. “Welcome, Traveler, I am Mistress Fortuna! What mysteries does your -”

“Shut up down there!” someone shouted, flinging a hooffull of popcorn at the pair.

Quiet!” Anon seethed, vainly attempting to juggle watching the movie and silencing his friend.

My apologies, Traveler, I must have dozed off,” she muttered, turning her attention back to the screen.

Only mildly annoyed with the distraction, Anon folded his arms over his chest. “It’s fine…

Unfortunately for him, things were far from fine. Not only did she fall asleep three more times, but two of which resulted in her same bombastic awakening. By the end of the film, with several of the moviegoers shooting them dirty looks or grumbling beneath their breath, he was left feeling defeated. Getting to his feet and putting the drained pop bottles into his nearly emptied tub of popcorn, he trudged past his companion.

The familiar whir of servos and motors, followed by the dull Thud Thud Thud of metal on concrete, let him know Fortuna wasn’t far behind - still, he felt as though his money and afternoon had been wasted. Slowing at the exit near the screen, opting not to leave through the lobby, he glanced up at her.

“I m-m-m-m-must apologize, Traveler,” she sighed, her vaguely electronic voice skipping slightly, “several of my parts may be beyond their warranty.”

His expression softened, as he closed his eyes and slowly exhaled. He really didn’t have any right to be upset - not knowing how old she was. Left to speculate on exactly when she was made, he assumed she was at least several decades old. Peering up at her, observing the light in her cracked eye blink on and off, he set his jaw.

“Don’t worry about it,” he stated, stepping out and into the alleyway. “I’m gonna see about getting you polished up a little tomorrow. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to do much, but I’ll see if I find any components I know are on the fritz.”

“Only because you asked nicely,” she hummed, loping along beside him.

“Yeah, I’ll come by early and - Fuck,” he blurted, tripping and falling over the dolly he’d kicked down the backstreet earlier.

Drawing to a halt, balancing herself on three of the opposable appendages, she wrapped one leg around him, pulled him upright, and dusted him off. “Am I still supposed to tell you if you’re about to run into anything?”

Shooting her a dirty look, fighting through his wounded pride and stinging shin, he did his damnedest not to smirk. “Yeah…Yeah, that’d be nice…”