Bionics Program: Test-1a

by Phonyyx

First published

What truly counts as a pony? Can only a physical creature be a pony, or can a learning, self-aware A.I. count as a pony. Is a soul only in a physical creature, or can a collection of 1's and 0's have a soul?

Does a self-aware A.I. count as a real pony? What if the A.I. does not know its a robot, and is sentient? Test-1a is an A.I. in a robotic body, affectionately named Tesla by his "father," Tesla is sent to Ponyville by Princess Celestia and Luna to be cared for by Princess Twilight Sparkle. They hope that he can learn. Learn about all that his programming doesn't tell him. He believes that he is a real pony. Meanwhile, Celestia and Luna ask themselves, "What truly counts as a pony?"


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A pony in a lab coat escorted the two regal princesses into a testing facility. "We have made numerous leaps and bounds in the Bionics Program. We have created a robot that can pass for a real pony," the pony said to the sisters. He stopped, slid his id, and pressed a button. The door slid up to reveal a metallic body in the shape of a pony, specifically an alicorn. Celestia could see wires and gears at pivot points between dull, grey metal plates that formed the robots' exterior. It was slightly shorter than an average adult stallion. "We designed it off of you two." The scientist turned back to face the motionless robot. "Voice command. Test-1a. Startup.exe." The robot's body made a humming sound. Its eyes glowed to life with a blue hue and it walked forward. It turned to look at the scientist, then at the two royal sisters. It bowed down in respect to the two princesses. "It's a program we added to it. It recognizes the princesses and shows respect."

"Can it speak?" Celestia asked still looking at the robot.

"Not on its own. But it does follow commands," spoke another pony in a lab coat walked into the room and bowed to the princesses. "Your Highnesses." The newcomer rose up and asked the princesses to follow him. The robot remained in the same spot. "Test-1a has incredible potential, imagine an army's worth of it. We wouldn't have to fear any other kingdoms ever again."

"Test-1a?" Luna asked.

"That's its assigned serial number. My colleague here, however, has taken to calling it Tesla. Its the first successful robot we have been able to build. My name is Dr. Lazour." The second pony said, giving the other scientist a disapproving glance. A door opened up and the ponies walked into the room. It had computers everywhere and a slightly cracked, six-inch thick glass overlooking the room they were just in.

"Where did the cracks come from?" Celestia looked at the crack, worried.

"The other subjects. The last one almost broke through." Lazour said walking over to a computer and typed a command in. The other scientist walked over to another computer and subtly inserted a flash drive. Lazour spoke into a microphone, "Voice command. Test-1a. Combat_sim_9.exe." The robot rose up and turned around, facing an opening panel, showing a holographic projector. A holographic pony appeared and attacked Test-1a, only to be shot by a mini-Gatling gun protruding from Test-1a's back. Multiple other holograms appeared and attacked Test-1a simultaneously. Test-1a flew up and released more magical bullets from the mini-Gatling gun.

"I still don't approve of using Test-1a for military application. Test-1a should be used to help ponies, not kill them." The other scientist said while typing into the computer. The simulation ended.

"Voice command. Test-1a. Recharge.exe." Lazour spoke into the microphone. Test-1a turned and "So, as you can see. Test-1a has limitless potential military applications. I can even begin to produce enough copies to create a squadron of Test-1as. All I need is you two's approval." Lazour turned back to the two princesses.

"No." Celestia shook her head in disagreement with Lazour's proposition.

"What? Why not?"

"Equestria is a peaceful country and has no need of a standing army. The rest of Equus looks to us as the peacekeepers. How can we keep the peace, and still be seen that way by the rest of Equus when we have an army of that. The truth is that we can't." Celestia looked over to Test-1a. "This. This isn't what I started the Bionics Program for. I want all of the documents on Test-1a and all that they have on what they've done here destroyed."

"Wait, no!" the other scientist turned to Celestia. "You can't destroy Tesla." Celestia looked back at the other scientist.

"Test-1a is its name. It doesn't have sentience, it isn't self-aware. The only name it will ever be assigned is Test-1a." Lazour turned on his colleague. He had enough of Doc's sentiment for the robot.

"It is now." Doc pressed enter on the computer. "Now, if you destroy him it'll be just like murder."

"What have you done?"

"What the original goal of this branch was, to create him." Doc pointed out to the robot, who was now walking around.

"What was the original goal you had in mind?" Luna turned to Doc.

"To create a robot that could pass for a real pony, and to create an AI that could learn, think, feel. That's whats in him now. A custom learning A.I. that is designed to well, learn."

"Sister, the scientist is right. If Tesla does have sentience and is self-aware, then we have to give it, err, him the chance to live." Luna told her sister.

"We will discuss this in a few minutes, first. Dr. Lazour, I am afraid that I must relieve you of your duties here. " Celestia turned to Lazour and watched as he was escorted out. She turned back to see Test-1a hovering just outside the room, staring at her. "Can it see us? Does it understand us?"

"Yes, and no respectively." the scientist activated a microphone. "Voice command. Test-1a. Recharge.exe." Test-1a flew down to the recharge station and powered down, as instructed.

"Alright, doctor. Before my sister and I can make an actual decision on what to do about the robot, we need to know how it works and all that it can do."

"Yes, princess. Test-1a runs on a dynamo that produces magic. It can utilize the magic created to run its operating systems, fly, and well... use magic. The wings and horn are purely for familiarities sake." the scientist lead the two princesses down to the training room and opened a hatch on Test-1a's back, revealing the dynamo he had described.

"What of the A.I. in it?"

"I designed the A.I. with the idea in mind of creating a pony. The A.I. is self-learning, it can learn and adapt when it observes others. The A.I. is designed to, grow if you will. It should be just like a pony's mind when finished. If it ever finishes."

"What do you mean?"

"Theoretically the A.I. will never stop growing. It will continue to learn long into its final moments of existence."

"Well, if we are going to allow Test-1a to live in Equestria, we need to make sure no pony finds out of it being a robot. If it is revealed that it's actually a robot, I doubt the general populace will take it well, nor would the robot. Can you make it not realize or remember that its a robot?"

"Yes. However, I can not change his appearance. He will still appear as a robot."

"I believe we can find a spell to hid its true form."

"Wouldn't anypony grow suspicious of Test-1a if it never eats or sleeps?" Luna asked the scientist.

"He'll feel hunger pains and fatigue, it won't be real, but still there. The dynamo can only produce so much magic at a time. To counter this drawback, the robotic body will decompose any food and most liquids to power itself even further. Mainly powering basic body systems like walking, hearing, and seeing. And resting will allow the dynamo to recharge and produce magic for later use." replied the scientist, "He will need some pony to teach him, otherwise he'll be just like a newborn foal. But if I teach him he might remember all that has happened here."

"Twilight Sparkle and her friends would probably be the best choice sister," Luna said to Celestia.

"Yes, Twilight and her friends would be best. Doctor, you will also go to Ponyville and live there. I want you to keep an eye on the robot, make sure it doesn't malfunction, but don't make contact with Test-1a, we wish for it to learn on its own. We can give it a cutie mark facsimile, and as for a name, I recall Dr. Lazour mentioning you had taken to calling it Tesla."

"Yes, I had." answered the scientist. He was looking back towards Test-1a.

"Then that shall be its name." Celestia looked at the motionless robot. "Tesla."


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Celestia paced up and down the throne room. The double doors opened and in walked the doctor pony with Tesla, who was in a half deactivated mode and a much smaller body -one that could easily pass as a colt- by his side. "Are you done with the programming?" Celestia looked over to the pony and then to the robot standing beside him.

"Yes. I've locked out most of the aggressive and militaristic programs. But, there is a self-preservation fail-safe. I've also added a series of false memories for him, that way he would appear to have a past and not just come out of nowhere," the pony replied.

"What of his memories of the time spent designing him?"

"I removed those memory files from his hard drive and placed them into a physically separate hard drive. When the time comes, I will re-upload them back into him."

"And when would that time be?" Celestia asked curiously.

"Once he is ready. When that is, I do not know. He may very well never receive them."

"What were the memories that you implanted of?"

"Memories of you raising him."

"Why me?"

"So that he'll trust you. This won't work if he takes off in fear the first chance he gets."

Now content, Celestia began the cloak spell. It would give Tesla a false skin that hid the robotic body, making it appear organic. A cold blue skin wrapped over and bonded to the robotic body and a brown mane covered the robotic hair. Once the spell was finished Celestia looked over to the pony and nodded. He activated the robot and a light blue hue flicked on in the eyes of Tesla, then vanished, replaced by a natural glow.

"Now, time to go meet with Twilight." Celestia guided the unknowing robot to a chariot. Once aboard, the pegasi took flight, pulling the chariot to its destination.

Inside Tesla's head, the implanted memories came rushing into focus almost all at once. Memories of being raised by Celestia. The years of her caring and nurturing for him. And all the moments the spent together, but they always ended with Celestia being called away to deal with some royal duty of sorts.

The chariot came to a stop outside Twilight's Castle. Celestia turned to the pony. "So, you will stay here in Ponyville, correct?"

"Yes, I will tell you about any problems or breakthroughs that arise." The pony turned and walked off to the center of Ponyville. Celestia faced the tall doors to Twilight's Castle, took a deep breath, and stepped forward. She knocked on the doors and waited. The doors opened slightly.

"Princess Celestia!" a voice called out in surprise. Celestia looked down to see Spike.

"Hello, Spike. Is Twilight home?"

"Uhhhh, yes." Spike turned and called out into the castle. "Twilight! Princess Celestia is here to see you!" There was a short pause.

"I'm coming!" Twilight's voice called back. Then a thud.

Spike looked back to Princess Celestia "Would you like to come inside, Princess Celestia?"

"Yes, please. And thank you for offering Spike." Celestia entered the castle, with Tesla hiding behind her.

Twilight entered the hall. Her mane was all messed up and had a quill stuck in it. "Sorry Princess Celestia, I didn't know that you were coming over. If I had I would've cleaned up the castle a bit." She tried to quickly make herself more presentable for the princess but the quill refused to be removed from her mane.

"It is alright Twilight. And as much as I wish I could stay and talk for a while I am afraid I cannot. Instead, there is a reason for my visit." Celestia looked back at Tesla. He was hiding behind her, peeking out a bit from behind her legs, unsure of what to make of the two strangers. "It's okay Tesla. You can come out." She gave him a smile and spoke softly, like a mother coaxing her child. Tesla looked uncertainly at Celestia and, after a little more persuasion from the princess, approached Twilight.

"Hello there. My name is Twilight Sparkle. What's your name?" Twilight extended her hoof to Tesla.

"T-Tesla," Tesla responded. He sheepishly extended his own hoof in return. His sheepish nature wasn't of shyness, rather of uncertainty.

"Is it just Tesla?" Twilight asked the little colt. He nodded in response.

"Twilight, I have brought Tesla here for a certain purpose. I want you to look after him for me." Celestia told Twilight. Tesla quickly spun around to face Celestia.

"W-What?" Tesla sputtered out in disbelief. "You are leaving me! Why?"

Celestia stepped forward, got on her knees, and placed a hoof on Tesla. "Yes, Tesla. I know that you don't what me to leave but trust me, Twilight here will be able to take good care of you. I wish I could but I have all my royal duties to attend to. I just wouldn't be able to give you the time and attention you need and you deserve better than that."

"Sniff! Royal duties to attend to. Like your royal cake tasting?" Tesla asked with a smile and chuckle.

"Hehe. Yes, especially my royal cake tastings. Now, be a good little boy for Twilight and if you ever need to see me again, don't hesitate to ask Twilight to take you to see me." Celestia rose and turned to leave. She only made it to the doors before Tesla ran up to her and jumped on her, giving her a hug. Tears streamed down his face, his breathing was sporadic.

"I do not want you to go. Please do not leave me. Please."

Celestia wrapped a hoof around Tesla and whispered softly into his ears. "I'm not leaving you, Tesla. I will always be with you, even if you can't see me." Tesla nodded and released Celestia. She smiled at Tesla and left. Twilight walked up to Tesla and, not entirely sure of how to handle this, patted him on the back.

"Hey Tesla, follow me. Cause I think we need to get you a room to stay in." Twilight smiled at Tesla and headed to one of the guest rooms. "Sniff! Tesla wiped his nose and followed her. Spike, meanwhile, was scratching his head, trying to understand the sudden series of events.

Twilight opened the doors. "Wow! This is my room?" Tesla asked. It wasn't a mansion room but it wasn't a cupboard under the stairs either. The queen-sized bed stood in the back center. A circular window lead with a view of Ponyville on the left and a small dresser tucked underneath. A red and blue oval rug in the center. And crystals everywhere.

"Yes," Twilight responded. "Now you've met Spike and me already but there is one more pony living in the castle with us. Let's go get introduced."

"Wait!" Tesla blurted out. He covered his mouth after his mind registered his sudden outburst. "Is there one thing I can do before that? Please?"

"What is it? You need to use the bathroom?" Twilight looked down at Tesla but he shook his head. "Hm? Well, I guess that you could."

"Yippee!" Tesla ran over to the bed and leaped onto it and proceeded to jump up and down on it. Twilight was surprised at Tesla's request but once she saw the face of pure joy he was wearing, her lips curled into a happy smile.

Tesla finally tired himself out and climbed off the bed and dizzily walked over to Twilight. "Okay, I am ready!" He gave a dazed salute and stood at attention like he was a royal guard pony.

Twilight couldn't help but chuckled a little. "Come on, let's go meet Starlight."

"That is her name; Starlight?"

"Yes, she is actually my student. I'm teaching her about the magic of friendship." Then a thought popped into her head. She looked back to Tesla. "Do you know what the magic of friendship is?"

"Um, I do not know," Tesla replied uncertainly. He genuinely couldn't remember Celestia telling him about the magic of friendship. Tesla racked his head trying to remember her mentioning it, but came up with nothing.

"Starlight. There's somepony here that I want you to meet!" Twilight called out into the castle. A moment passed and a voice, presumably Starlight's, replied.

"Okay." There was a sudden flash of magenta light.

"Ahh!" Tesla jumped behind Twilight in surprise. He cautiously peered out from behind Twilight and saw that a unicorn now stood in front of Twilight and himself. Twilight looked back to Tesla, perplexed. Then she simply smiled and nudged him out from behind her.

"Starlight," Twilight spoke, "this is Tesla. Princess Celestia asked me to watch over him for her."

Starlight quickly shook her head. "Oh. For a moment there I had thought that he was your son. Hehe." Starlight gave an embarrassed blush.

"Why would you think that?" Twilight tilted her head to the side.

"I guess that for starters, he's an alicorn," Starlight answered.

Twilight opened the door to Rarity's Boutique. "Miss Twilight, what are we here for again?" Tesla asked. He looked around the entrance. Dresses; dresses everywhere.

"I just needed to talk to Rarity for a while," Twilight answered.

"Twilight, dear." Rarity walked up to Twilight. "It's good... Oh. Twilight, I didn't know that you had a son." Rarity looked down at Tesla.

"What? Rarity, he's not my biological son."

Few Minutes Later

Tesla sat down, bored. "Sigh!" Tesla plopped his head in his hooves. Twilight had asked him to sit in a different room. Apparently whatever she wished to talk with Rarity about was taking a long while.


"Huh?" Tesla raised his head. In front of him was a white unicorn filly. "Are you talking to me?" Tesla pointed to himself.

"Yes," the unicorn responded. "My name's Sweetie Belle. What's yours?"


"Well, why are you here for, Tesla?"

"To be completely honest, I have no idea. Miss Twilight brought home here, she said she needed to talk to Rarity."

"Oh-oh-oh. Rarity's my sister." Sweetie Belle said with such enthusiasm.

"That explains why you are here. Then again, I have no idea why I am really here, so...Ehh?" Tesla shrugged.

"Tesla. Can you come here?" Twilight called back.

"Okay." Tesla hopped off the chair he was lying on and walked to Twilight. "Yes, Miss Twilight?"

"Tesla, this is Rarity, she's one of my best friends."

"Hello, Tesla. Twilight has told me of your, erm, predicament," Rarity said with a smile to the little colt.

"Pre-dica-what?" Tesla asked the white unicorn.

"Predicament. It means, situation. Usually a less than pleasant one."


Twilight looked down at the little colt recognizing the look of boredom on his face. She bit her hoof. She wasn't too sure of what to do. She didn't want Tesla to be bored but didn't know what there would be for him to do until she finished talking with Rarity.

Sweetie Belle walked over to the boutique's door and opened it. The ringing bell alerted Rarity. "Sweetie Belle, dear, where are you going?" Rarity asked her little sister.

"I'm going to see Applebloom and Scootaloo," Sweetie Belle answered with a cheery smile.

Twilight perked up with an idea. "Sweetie Belle, would it be okay if Tesla came along with you? He hasn't seen much of Ponyville after all." Sweetie smiled and nodded her approval. Twilight turned to Tesla. "Tesla, would you like to go meet Apple Bloom and Scootaloo?"

"Sure," Tesla answered. In all honesty, he was willing to alleviate his boredom in any way, such as getting away from there quickly.

"Then come on Tesla." Sweetie Belle practically sang out. Once Tesla and Sweetie Belle left, Twilight turned back to Rarity.

"Rarity, I'm not sure about how to care for him," Twilight exasperated.

"But didn't you raise Spike dear?" Rarity questioned back.

"Not entirely, when I was caring for Spike, I had help from my parents, my brother, and Cadence."

"Oh. So that's why you came to ask for my help?"

Twilight nodded. "I know that you had to start raising Sweetie Belle after your parents, accident." Rarity looked down at her hooves for a moment. She still remembered that day so long ago. When she received that horrible news. Ever since then, she had to raise and care for Sweetie Belle on her own.

Sweetie Belle pushed open the door to the Crusader's Clubhouse. Both Applebloom and Scootaloo were sitting in the center, thinking or something looking along those lines. Applebloom looked over at Sweetie Belle. "There ya are Sweetie, what took ya so long?"

"Oh, I was helping a new friend." Sweetie Belle took one step inside the clubhouse and looked behind herself, "Come on in Tesla."

"Tesla?" both Applebloom and Scootaloo asked in unison. Tesla walked in and looked over at the two other ponies. They stared at the strange newcomer.

"Um, hello," he said, unsure of what they were staring at. He thought he had something on his face. He squinted and squirmed his eyes trying to see the invisible object that held their attention.

"Sweetie Belle, either ma eyes are deceivin' me or..." Applebloom started.

"He's an alicorn," Scootaloo finished.

"Yes, he is an alicorn." Sweetie Belle said in an 'obviously' tone. She turned back to Tesla. "Tesla, these are my friends. Applebloom, and Scootaloo."

"Hmm," Scootaloo said while circling Tesla. "You don't have a Cutie Mark." Tesla then noticed the three almost identical marks on each of the ponies' flanks.

Twilight knocked on the door of Applejacks house in Sweet Apple Acres. Big Mac opened the door and looked down at her. "Big Mac, is Applejack home?"

"Eeyup." He moved out of the doorway and motioned for Twilight to come inside. He walked down a hallway and Applejack emerged later.

"Hay, there Twilight. What'ca ya here for? Ponyville need more of our delectable apples for an event?"

"Not this time Applejack. I came to ask you for some help." Twilight told her all that happened in the past few hours.

"Well, that's somethin' I didn't expect."

Tesla screamed as the sleigh he was sitting in rocketed down the hill. Trees and stumps stood beside him for less than a second and then were gone as fast as they came. Why and how the CMC convinced him to try this he'll never understand. And it wasn't like he was alone, all three of the girls were on the sleigh with him. He had refused to does this alone. In the midst of his screaming, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Applebloom were all laughing and screaming in a rush of thrill.

"Hold on," Scootaloo shouted.

"Hold on to what?" Tesla shouted back. It took a moment for Scootaloo to think of an answer, or to comprehend the question over the loud rushing air.

"I don't know," Scootaloo shouted back her answer. Tesla blinked. Suddenly the sleigh jolted to the side underneath him. Quickly he grabbed the first thing that he saw, which so happened to be Sweetie Belle. Scootaloo aimed the sleigh for a natural ramp. The sleigh flew. All the crusaders wee-ed and whooped in the air. Tesla was also flying -no- falling with style minus the style, however, he was still screaming, and thinking to himself just how he got into this predicament.

The Crusaders had insisted that they would help him find his Cutie Mark. They had first asked him questions like 'What do you like to do? What is it you're good at?' and 'What would you like to do?'. He answered each question with the same, simple answer; 'I do not know'. So then they decided to start by finding something he was either good at or liked to do. Their logic was sorta sound. He wasn't really interested in finding his Cutie Mark but wasn't going to resist it either. He had nothing else to really do.

THUD! Tesla fell hard on the dirt ground. His head was dizzy and his hearing buzzed and ringed. His vision split into twos, then threes, and then finally fours. He saw the twelve- er, three crusaders looking over at him. Their mouths were moving but no sound came. Tesla squinted his eyes and shook his head from left to right. That wasn't a good idea. It just made his head hurt more. Scootaloo waved a hoof in front of Tesla's eyes, trying to elicit a response aside from the groans he already made. Tesla's sight snapped back into singles and the ringing subsided.

"TESLA, ARE YA OKAY?" Applebloom shouted nearly into Tesla's ears.

"Oww," Tesla said, rubbing his now once again ringing ear. "Applebloom, please do not shout in my ears."

"Ya didn't respond for awhile."

"I could not hear for a moment. But I can now."

"Ohhhh," the three crusaders said in response to this.

"Well, wanna try again?" Applebloom asked Tesla.

"I am not too sure," Tesla answered with some uncertainty laced in his tone.

"Come on Tesla. One more try, this time we'll go slower," Sweetie Belle said. "Right Scootaloo?"

Scootaloo gave a shrug. "Hey, I can't control how fast that thing goes."

"Okay. But just one more try," Tesla relented.

Tesla, Scootaloo, Applebloom, and Sweetie Belle rocketed down the hill again. Even though Tesla was certain that they were going faster this time, it wasn't quite so scary to him. This time he actually enjoyed it. He had survived the first time, so why wouldn't he survive it a second time? But the idea of them all of a sudden ramming into a tree, log, or possibly a rock still terrified him. "Lean to the left!" Scootaloo shouted to the others. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle leaned to the left. Tesla simply looked on to what was ahead. A cluster of trees, too tightly packed to pass through safely, lay ahead. But something else caught his eyes, the ground to the left of the cluster was rough and rocky. The sled would practically be torn to pieces and wood chips. His eyes widened. They do not see the rocks!

"No, lean to the right!" Tesla leaned his head to the right and, unknowingly, focused his magic; grabbing the front section of the sled and aimed it for the right side of the tree cluster.

"Whoa-a!" all three crusaders exclaimed as the sled suddenly jerked to the right. The sled passed through the relatively safe path. Relatively meaning, it was riddled with low-lying branches. Tesla ducked his head, avoiding the branches. The Crusaders didn't however,"Ow, oh, ah!" The sled rocketed up a small slope and into the air once more, this time Tesla was sent flying further away from the ground, and into a river.

"Ahhhh!" Tesla splashed into the water, certain he was doomed. He popped open one eye and saw a small green fish swimming past him. He popped open his other eye and looked around. He wasn't dead. He paddled to the surface of the river, where the three fillies were looking at Tesla with worried faces. "What?"

"Are ya okay Tesla?" Applebloom asked him.

"Better than okay. What is the opposite of being bored?!"

"Fun?" Sweetie Belle answered, uncertain of why Tesla had to ask such a question.

"Fun," Tesla spoke the word in a way that seemed to be of him contemplating the meaning of the word. "Let us do it again!" Scootaloo gave a smirk, Applebloom gave a relieved sigh, and Sweetie Belle smiled.