That's what she hated the most. Of all the things she 'strongly disliked' (Celeste always reminded her not to use harsh language), cages were at the top of her list. Whoever designed them was probably burning in Hell, or at least her version of it. In her mind, they were locked inside of a cage inside of a cage inside of a cage inside of a cage, etc., with no escape.
How's that for inventing the scourge of the earth?
The next thing on her list of hate, she mused, were bright white fluorescent lights. Their harsh light always gave her headaches, especially if she had undergone testing that day. Thankfully, it was night, and all of the ceiling lights had been turned off inside the building. Twilight peered through the bars of her own cage, gazing out at the tiny window at the far end of the room. It was hard to make out among all the cages, but she could see a tiny sliver of moonlight slicing through the dark night outside.
As she pressed her face against the cold metal bars, Twilight sighed. She wanted to reach out and grab the moonlight, and let it take her far away from here. There was only the cage and the window between her and the outside, but she knew it wouldn't be that easy to get out. The compound's high security would make sure of that. She would never make it to the window before she would be caught and/or shot. Twilight's lavender hair cascaded down onto her simple lab gown as she turned away from the filtered moonlight and slowly sat down. Her gown wasn't the most comfortable of clothing, but then again, she had never known what true comfort was. All she knew was that it wasn't sufficient enough to keep her warm on really cold nights. One would think that the whitecoats would keep a controlled temperature inside the living area, so that their precious subjects wouldn't die from the cold.
Her gaze fell on a huddled form in the corner of the cage, surrounded by countless fashion magazines and tabloids. A little smile played on her lips. Rarity was such a neat freak, but her own area was one of the messiest of all of the cages. Twilight would have tried to clean it up now, if Rarity didn't go ballistic when anyone touched her magazines. The last time Twilight had tried to move the magazines, well... Let's just say that Twilight still had the bruise. Nevertheless, there was enough room for both of them in their cage as long as both kept their areas under control. Twilight stayed on her side, and Rarity stayed on hers. But Twilight envied Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, whose cage was slightly larger than the others, giving them a little more freedom.
A small whisper cut through the silence of the room, floating through the air.
"Hey... Twilight... You awake?"
"Yeah, Fluttershy. What's up?" Twilight softly responded, looking over towards Fluttershy's cage, which was stacked on top of a few others. She saw a body wrapped in feathers lean closer to the bars.
"I... I can't fall asleep," Fluttershy whispered. Her large, worried eyes gazed at Twilight down on the ground.
"I dropped Angel." Fluttershy pointed down to the ground. Twilight saw a mangled and beaten-up stuffed rabbit on the floor below her. "Can you get her?"
"Yeah," Twilight replied. Angel was Fluttershy's 'security blanket'. She couldn't fall asleep, last through a thunderstorm, or do lab tests without him. Twilight knew that Fluttershy wouldn't get any sleep if she didn't get Angel back. So Twilight cleared her mind and focused on the stuffed bunny lying on the ground. She had successfully done it a couple times before, it just took a while to focus her attention.
Gradually, the stuffed animal became enveloped in a soft purple glow. Fluttershy watched Twilight's eyes emit the same purple hue as she focused more and more on the animal. The stuffed rabbit slowly levitated up into the air, constantly glowing. Soon it was level with Fluttershy's cage, who reached out and grabbed the bunny. The purple glow faded as Fluttershy enveloped it in her embrace, wrapping even tighter in her feathers. A muffled "Thanks" floated over from her direction. Twilight just smiled.
She still wasn't able to fall asleep, not just yet. Her head was heavy with thoughts and memories. It was all one could really do in a cage at night, she thought. That and talk; but no one else was awake, and anyways, long conversations could draw the attention of one of the Buggers. Twilight readjusted her body and curled up in the corner, trying to get comfortable. As her eyes closed, her mind drifted off into the past...
Twilight had grown up in the lab, which she and her friends called The Facility. It was located somewhere in what the whitecoats called Nevada. Twilight only knew that it was the semi-diamond shaped one on the left of the map. It bordered a state called California, which from all the magazines Rarity read and the few books Twilight had read, seemed to be the perfect place to live. But that was a dream that would never be realized. Twilight had been created in the lab, and there she was to stay. If she were to escape, the Facility would make sure she didn't get far. And for good reason, too.
Twilight and all of the inhabitants of the Facility were special, and secret. It all started when some radical geneticists (whom Twilight had nicknamed 'whitecoats' in honor of their great fashion statements) claimed to know how to create 'better' humans. Their moves toward perfection shocked many, causing outbursts of protest among the general public. The scientific community condemned their ideas, and they soon disappeared altogether. But their work did not stop. Instead, they opened the Facility, a secret laboratory in the middle of a wasteland. There they played God, editing the genome code and splicing DNA of babies they had stolen from local hospitals. Many of their creations were failures, sickly creatures who died quickly. After a few years of research, however, they were able to build stronger and better hybrids. Only a few types survived into adolescence and adulthood, and Twilight, her friends, and the Buggers were all part of the outcome.
Twilight shuddered when she thought of the Buggers. They were the Facility's ruthless security force. Celestia called them 'changelings', but Twilight and her group nicknamed them Buggers, due to their appearance. They were an averaged-sized humanoid whose scaly black bodies and solid-blue eyes made them resemble giant insects, thus leading to their name. But their abilities were the really scary parts. Not only were the Buggers bred to hunt and kill, their special ability was to take the form of any person they chose, becoming an almost exact copy of their victim. They had a leader, too, named Chrysalis. She was slightly different than the rest, looking more like a true human than an oversized insect. Her green eyes peered out of her glossy blue hair, burning into anyone she focused on. Twilight estimated her to be around 19-20 years old, created a few years before Twilight and her friends. They tried to avoid contact with Chrysalis whenever possible, since she was known to have a very short temper. Many a hole in drywall had been created as a result of her short fuse. She was spoiled by many of the whitecoats, an 'example' of their success. They couldn't care less about Twilight and her friends, who Twilight listed now in her head.
There was Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, who were hybrids of avian and human genes. They both had massive wings, which they could use to fly swiftly through the air. Their bodies were built light but powerful, perfect for flight. Fluttershy was known to be the shy and fearful one of their group, always hiding from the whitecoats. And when she didn't have Angel, Fluttershy became even more withdrawn. She did have an uncanny knack for healing though, often taking care of the numerous injuries Applejack and Rainbow Dash usually sustained. On the other hand, Rainbow Dash was almost the exact opposite. An outgoing and athletic person, she was always challenging Applejack to races and tests of strength in the exercise yard. Usually, they came up tied.
Twilight's next two companions were Applejack and Pinkie Pie. They were built with horse and human DNA, resulting in an extremely strong and fast body. Their cage had to be made out of titanium, due to the weaknesses steel provided. There had been many a time when Twilight had seen Applejack bench press a good 275 pounds without breaking a sweat. And neither Applejack nor Pinkie were ripped with muscle, instead having some uncanny source of strength. Applejack was the hard worker of the group, whose strength was only matched by Rainbow's. Meanwhile, her cage companion, Pinkie Pie, was probably the weirdest out of the whole group. She was always happy, even when the whitecoats conducted harsh experiments on her. Nothing seemed to be able to crack her emotional state, amazing Twilight. Twilight wasn't sure if some of the neutrons in her brain hadn't connected to the right spots, but Pinkie Pie's positive attitude always helped her friends feel good when they had been feeling down.
Last but not least, there was Twilight and Rarity. They were probably the two most intriguing hybrids, as the whitecoats could not explain how Twilight and Rarity existed. All they knew was that they changed a few genes, spliced some DNA here and there, and ended up with Twilight and Rarity. At first appearance, they seemed like normal human beings, with slightly improved strength and mobility. But the whitecoats soon figured out there was something special with the two mutants. Early psychoanalysis showed that Twilight and Rarity had something extra going on inside their heads. The whitecoats were stumped, until Celeste suggested to try the idea of telekinesis and psychic abilities. Sure enough, Twilight and Rarity could soon levitate objects with mind power alone, and Celeste was working with them almost every week on honing other abilities.
Twilight liked Celeste. She was the only whitecoat that treated them kindly. Celeste was the one who first educated them, teaching them how to speak and read, and, after a little while, how to fight and survive. She was always bringing in goodies for the six children, like books for Twilight, magazines for Rarity, stuffed animals for Fluttershy, sports equipment for both Applejack and Rainbow Dash, and lots and lots of candy for Pinkie Pie. Twilight smiled, remembering a time when Celeste gave Pinkie a bag of...
She shook her head, clearing her mind. No matter the memories, she told herself, the Facility is still a laboratory, and Celeste is still a whitecoat. But... Celeste has helped them pick their names when they were young, and that became a major part of their identity in the lab. Celeste was the one that helped them become friends and truly become different. But still, everyday in the Facility was still the same. They all still had to take the tests, and comply for the experiments. In fact, Twilight had just been the subject of a particular experiment involving electrodes and certain voltage levels. Fluttershy could barely help her earlier that day when Twilight stumbled her way into the exercise yard and collapsed at the center.
But that was today. Tomorrow is going to be a different day... Twilight's head slumped forward as she drifted off to sleep.
Over along the far wall, a pair of glowing green eyes watched the purple-haired girl fall asleep...