Near Human

by Element of Power

First published

With his body modified, he is accidentally sent to an unknown land, where he meets the impossible...

A tool. That is all he is to them.They changed him, improved him, while taking what makes him human.
Just a long cycle of tests and experiments. Now, they need him for an important test. Teleportation. For better or worse, he ends up a bit farther than expected, like a lot farther. Now, he needs to learn to coexist with these technicolor "ponies", or try to survive on his own.

Chapter 1 (Edited)

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Darkness, cold, unforgiving darkness. Felt like home, or as close to home as he could ever be. Just like every morning for God knows how long, it started in that same darkness, awaiting the next test, experiment, assignment, or poke n' prod session with the scientists. He didn't move, instead choosing to lie in wait on a simple bed with the little free time he had.

One of the walls in the blackness of the room moved, opening like a garage door, and bathing the small room in light. Rising up to stand, he slowly stepped out into the white barren room like he had done hundreds of times, the door closing behind him.

When he was first put here, the first thing he noticed was that the main room was like the typical "white box" kind of room you find in a movie or something. It was bizarre at first, but over the... months?... years?... he wasn't too sure anymore... the room became almost normal, even if it got to him sometimes.

Now that he was in the white light of the room, he unconsciously looked at himself. Before all this, he would have been considered pretty muscular. Now, there were subtle differences. Not all were bad though. Both arms, once a slightly tan white, were a dark gray, almost black, color of metal. The material was definitely metal, though it had a softness to them like skin, but extremely hard to break like, well, metal.Otherwise they looked almost exactly like real arms. The same thing went for his legs, which were covered in a pair of plain, close to skin tight pair of workout pants.

Though these parts were artificial, they were still fitted with nerve sensors so he could feel, but the odd thing was that the pain felt was dull in most circumstances, like if he pinched his skin, he would feel it, even a bit of pain, but not the normal amount. This is probably because he was not really feeling, but rather a simulation of feeling.

He glanced at the rest of his body, he had metal which covered his main body, like his abdomen, back, chest, and neck. When you see his head, it looks normal by most standards. Brown, wavy hair, fair skin, and most importantly, a normal sized nose. That is always top of the list. The only visual difference was his eyes. Due to advanced eyes, the color of his irises were a pool of ever changing colors, like a dumping of all different colors of glitter into a bucket of grey paint. These eyes could see better than a normal human's ever could, while relaying information about his surroundings when he wanted.

While changed on the outside, his insides were also improved. The assho.... "scientists" that upgraded him wanted to keep the layout and workings of a normal human organ function, though slightly improved. His heart, stomach, liver, intestines, lungs, and even brain, were all changed, made to keep him going better than anyone, while things like his bones and muscles were fitted, almost laced with the same metal material to make them stronger.

Though these were extremely cool, like some kind of superhero, it made him feel like he wasn't himself anymore, like he wasn't fully human. More like near human.

He looked up, sighed, then said "Unit E - 30 ready for operations". He said this every single day, in the most monotone voice possible. He wasn't allowed to say his name, only his identification. He could have made a wise crack or even yelled. He could have beat at the walls or threatened them.

But he wouldn't, and they knew he wouldn't. They knew that the rebellious behavior was long gone, forced out of him.

Finally, the scientists spoke from the speakers lining the ceiling.

"Welcome back, let us begin the biomechanical pre-assessment"

Or you could just say move around and show us you work.

"Lets begin with your arm and hand movement."

So, like I practiced over and over, I lifted one hand on the air, made a fist, then lowered it and did the same with the other.

"Good, now check your leg and foot movement."

Now, I ran in place, while making surprisingly little noise given my feet were made of the same metal as my arms.

"Perfect. Now let's move on to the main test in experiment B - 74, the teleportation device. Please step forward and grab the device from off of the table."

This was it. I had been dreading this for a couple of weeks now. This test in teleportation was extremely risky, given all the possibilities. He could go to the intended place, or end up halfway in a wall of some restaurant, his glorious butt on display for all who eat there.

But, it also gave him a twinge of hope. Hope, that after all this time, he could have a chance to go somewhere else, to run and escape.

"I am only warning you once, you are connected to the remote shocker. if you use the device, then run from the mission, you will be sedated then captured. The shockers range goes to any part of the world, no matter where you are."

Oh well.

He walked over to the lone white table, where a device was laid out. It was spherical, with 4 holes on each side. They must have been to put his fingers in, like a bowling ball. There was an array of buttons where his exposed thumbs would be.

"Put your fingers and hands in the indicated spots on the device"

Carefully grabbing it, he inserted his fingers into the device, the inside was cool, like his fingers were around ice. Done

"Now, we will count to 3. At 2, press the left-most button, then at 3, the right-most. When you are transported, wait until we have a connection to you, then press the buttons in the reverse order to come back. Don't try anything else."

"1"

Fingers tensed.

"2"

Left button. This was it.

"3"

He pressed the right button, making the device let out a repetitive beeping sound. Then, a wave of matter exploded outwards, passing over everything without moving anything. Then, it came back and grouped back into a single point, this time pulling him forward. It shrank smaller, then became nothing, taking both the device, and E - 30 with it.

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After regathering and setting up different equipment, the team of scientists spoke into the radio. "Come in E - 30, was the test successful? You should be in another testing facility."

Static.

"You have 5 seconds to reply before we use the sedative."

Static.

They pressed the buttons on the panel, trying to send powerful amount of electricity through E - 30's body, but something happened.

The computer said "Subject out of range."

"That's... not possible!" Dr. Jovan, the lead scientist was shaking his head, his hands clenched in a fist. "The satellites, they cover the whole world, it should be in range!" He whipped around to yell at the nearest subordinate.

"I want all the officers searching for E - 30. Check every facility, every GODDAMN country! Both him and the machine are military property!" He growled between his teeth.

"It had to work..."

Chapter 2

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"Subject out of range."

"That's... not possible!" Dr. Jovan, the lead scientist was shaking his head, his hands clenched in a fist. "The satellites, they cover the whole world, it should be in range!" He whipped around to yell at the nearest subordinate.

"I want all the officers searching for E - 30. Check every facility, every GODDAMN country! Both him and the machine are military property!" He growled between his teeth.

"It had to work..."

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Water. That's what it was. As he was teleported, he tried to figure out exactly what it felt like. It felt like being turned into water, then shooting across a void.

He had thought it would be instantaneous, appearing somewhere isle in a snap, but that wasn't the case. He was aware that it had lasted for a second or two, much longer than an instant.

After a second of liquefied body, he and the device regained their solid state. Ripping back into reality, he fell down, onto something soft. Looking down, he realized he was in a bed.

Bed? I guess they didn't want me to fall to my death or something.

He then looked around, taking in the odd decor or the room he found himself in. The room seemed to be large, like an expensive hotel room, but with gold decorating almost everything. He got up, taking in the rich atmosphere.

Maybe I didn't end up in the right place...

He took a closer look at room, noticing all different things. He looked up and saw the ceiling decorated with a sky, with a magnificent painting of a sun shining down on it. On a desk across the room, he saw a photo in a frame, also lined with gold. Curious, he got up off the bed, and made his way to the desk to investigate.

In the photo, there were two horses. One was pure white while the other was a dark blue. On their heads, they had weirdly multi colored manes, waving in the wind. For some reason, they both had something on their heads, like crowns.

So, these people really like horses... I guess those are some beautiful horses.

Then, he noticed something. They each had a foot long horn protruding from their forehead. Unicorns. The photo looked real, not drawn. Even worse, the two unicorns had unusually large eyes, and expressive faces, which looked like they were happy and smiling for the camera.

That's not right, it's fake., he thought finally.

Walking away, he thought about his mission. He was supposed to immediately return, but he didn't want to. He decided that he wanted to test the shocker they had, so he laid on the bed. He waited for the eventual crippling bolt of electricity that would run through his body.

Wow... never felt a bed this soft.

After 5 minutes, nothing happened.

That's weird. I should be shocked, sprawled out with drool hanging from my mouth...

Then, from somewhere behind the double doors that lead outside the room, he heard footsteps, two sets of them.

Those must be the soldiers coming to collect me.

He decided to surprise them by laying under the covers.

The footsteps got closer to the door, stopping right in front of the door. The handle turned, and in stepped one golden shoe on a.... hoof!Then, in stepped another, followed be the rest of the body. The horse look just like the one in the picture, horn, hair, and all. He stayed absolutely still. Said unicorn looked around for a second, then locked eyes with him. It stayed like that for a second, until he opened his mouth.

"Uhh..."

The unicorns eyes widened in shock, then, the horn on it's forehead glowed a yellow aura, until his entire body was also encompassed with the light. He couldn't move when he tried to struggle. Maybe that wasn't a good idea. The unicorn brought him closer, out of the bed and right into it's face. As he stared into it's large eyes, it spoke.

"Who are you and what are you doing in my room!"

It, or rather she, had a surprisingly feminine voice. Unfortunately, that voice came with a fierce glare.

Oh wow, it talks... he proceed to faint.

Before he could though, she dropped him on the ground, still glaring.

I have to get out.

He jerked his head to look at the corner of the room, using the oldest trick in the book, distraction. Unsurprisingly, she looked, giving him the chance to get up, and fast as lightning, ran towards the window closest to him. Her head snapped back, eyes wide, then tried to run after him. Without looking, he jumped, smashing the glass and rustling the frilly curtains. Unfortunately, he was high up, like really high up. So, this wasn't just a house.

Oh well, might as well test these legs before I go splat.

He righted himself, tensed his legs, and landed. He hardly felt a thing, though the stone ground beneath him had a spiderweb of cracks spread across it.

Well, that worked...

He took a quick look, and saw that he was near the entrance of a large castle, overlooking town. Then he looked up, and though he was dreaming, lying on the ground with brain damage. He saw the same unicorn from the room spreading it's wings and soaring down from a balcony.

"She has WINGS! That's fucking cheating!"

He got his balance, turned, and ran to town.

"STAY WHERE YOU ARE!" she boomed.

Nope.

He pumped his legs, running far faster than any other human could. He suddenly saw a crowd of small horses, no, ponies, in golden armor had started chasing after him, armor clanking through the ranks.

This is bad, he thought.

He came up the the edge of town, and one look showed that the town was filled with ponies too. So, deciding to go a better route, he jumped, easily landing on the fancy rounded roof of a building. He broke into a sprint, leaping from uneven rooftop to rooftop. Looking back, he noticed they were still following him on the streets, while there were some that had taken to the air.

More wings.

Fortunately, he had his advanced legs, otherwise they would have easily caught him. Soon, he got to the end of the town. in the final stretch, he then looked down, and realized.

"The city is on a mountain... what?". He doubted he would survive a fall down a mountain. If he wanted to escape, he should have gone to the main entrance, but now...

The ponies chasing him all came to a stop in front of him, officially cutting off his escape. Then, in a pop, the large unicorn/pegasus appeared in front.

"Surrender creature, you are surrounded.", she said.

He looked back, staring over the edge, scooting closer to it.

Maybe I can make it...

She must have caught this, because she then said "No!" and her horn flared again. But this time, he was prepared. Rolling out of the way, he got out of her crosshairs momentarily, before looking back, and jumping off the edge.

Wind ripped past his face as he plummeted toward the slope of the mountain. There was nothing he could do but hope that he was strong enough to survive the initial landing. As the rocks got closer and closer, he readied himself.

His feet hit the rocks, and shattered them. Rocks turned to shards and shards to dust as they flew into the air, and soon enough, he was sliding. Going down the mountain, he was just barely able to maneuver himself to avoid larger rocks and crevices that he came across.

Taking a second to look back at the way he came, he saw the creatures he left behind. Most stayed on the edge of the mountain city, while the pegasi flew down after him. At the rate they were going, he could tell they would catch up to him.

Then, he heard a roaring sound. To the far left on the mountain, a waterfall was cascading down the rocks, creating a mist of water around it.

It's the perfect cover.

While sliding down, he also started running to the left, his hands ripping through earth to keep from losing balance. The falling water got closer, as did the following guards. The flying rocks in the air became mixed with misty water, and then, the fall was right in front of him.

Looking back one final time, he pushed off the rocks, throwing himself into the water. He was immediately pulled down from the strong current, pulled faster and farther away from the pegasi, who couldn't see him through the white, falling water.

The waterfall moved closer to the end, splashing into a small lake, which flowed into a river. E - 30 came crashing down, plunging into the deep water. Momentarily dazed, he gathered himself, and started to breach. But, before he did, he stopped.

Wait, they'll see me if I surface. I have to swim farther down the river if I don't want to be caught.

Making up his mind, he swam toward the mouth of the river, letting the current pull him while swimming as well, going as fast as he could run on land. In moments, he was far from the waterfall, and in a forest. Erupting from the water to take a breath of air, he made his way to the riverbank and out of the water, cold droplets dripping to the ground.

Not wanting to somehow be caught, he started trekking away from the river, stomping his way through the forest.

In a tree, a small bird watched him. Chirping a bit, it ruffled its feathers before taking off, flying out of the forest.

Chapter 3

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Celestia strolled down the hall at a slow pace, in very deep thought. The recent events involving the escaped creature had her on edge. It had jumped from the castle window, and survived. It outran the royal guards. It had jumped down the mountain, and survived. It purposely fell down a waterfall, and survived. Now, it was somewhere in the forest. An unknown possible danger, in the position to potentially make its way to a town. That much she knew, without any further evidence.

Coming up to her room, she passed the numerous guards standing at attention all around the entrance to her bedroom. They didn't know that Celestia had overheard their talks amongst themselves earlier. Both blaming themselves and blaming each other for the creature found in the room they were guarding.

The normally silent doors creaked open as she went in. The rooms atmosphere was completely different, the tension still in the air. The large bed across the room was perfectly made, and the window was repaired; the staff had come in to tidy up.

There were no signs of the creature that had once been occupying her room. Except, one thing. When Celestia walked in, she faintly picked up the scent of the creature, getting stronger in different areas of the room. No matter how odd and random the situation was, it was real.

Slumping to the ground, Celestia laid there, contemplating her choices. The obvious idea was that the Elements of Harmony should be informed. They would be needed to investigate the creature, and protect other ponies if it came to that. Perhaps they were the next target of the creature. At the same time, that could put them into danger that they weren't currently in.

At this, she came to an obvious discovery. "I rely on them for too much, more than they should be handling..."

Often things that could be out of their control, they are still the ones who go to fix the issue. "Perhaps I should keep them in the dark, so they're safe..." Celestia spoke to herself. After thinking, she stood up and said. "No, they must at least be informed of what happened, and to stay alert."

In fact, they had been incredible saviors to all of Equestria. With their help, they had defeated an untold number of creatures the past few years, giving them more proof than they needed to know they could handle almost any problem. It was simply an issue of morality; sending a group of friends to help, or risk other ponies. How many other casualties could be avoided if only the Elements were sent?

She raised a hoof to her face. "Maybe I could inform Luna... but she's on that trip to Yakyakistan." She didn't want to ruin Luna's day about something that could be fixed before she got back.

Celestia walked over to the balcony, across the room from the window, the one that had previously been smashed in the successful escape. Taking a deep breath and letting it out with a sigh, her horn glowed, tugging the bright sun down to the horizon. It had only been a day, and in this time, the creature could possibly have done much damage.

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It has been two months since the experiment failure with E - 30. Both the subject and the device were unable to be found, seemingly destroyed.

Dr. Jovan thought otherwise.

For two months, he has had a multitude of tests conducted, all in the effort of recreating and discovering what had happened on that day. ABout a week after it had happened, they had another device built, identical to the original. A volunteer was sent in, an attempt to see what would happen.

When the volunteer started the machine in his hands, the same shockwave went out, before converging into a point, taking the volunteer with it. Except, the event didn't happen the same way as before. With the volunteer, he was pulled to the point, then promptly shredded and crushed, disrupting the device and leaving both it and the bloody mush in a pile on the floor.

Similarly, they tried the same test with a programmed robot. The same procedure, except when the wave was pulled inward, the robot wasn't pulled with it. The device disappeared, leaving behind the robot, and the frustrated Jovan watching from a distance.

While the rest his subordinates were confused at the turn of events, Dr. Jovan did not appear to be feeling too keen on having such issues. He was already asked by his superiors about the results of the original test, and just like him, they weren't too happy. Later, when asked why he was still pursuing this goal, he responded with agitation.

"We are still in the process of finding the cause of the observed anomaly," he explained. "If this were just some random fluke then this whole experiment would just be a waste of time, but there are some different possible explanations for the different effects. We will go down the list of possibilities here, and we will not leave anything out."

One scientist spoke up. "Until we get to the bottom of what is going on, we cannot be certain of all the possible causes of the anomaly, it would take forever, i-it would be impossible." Whipping around, Jovan stared at him, his teeth gritted.

"Then let's keep going."

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E- 30 silently made his way through the forest, careful not to attract the attention of any predators. He had already walked past a giant skull earlier. It was a wolf skull made completely out of wood, with green eyes and green moss growing on it. He didn't want to meet the animal that the wooden statue represented.

Beams of sunlight broke through the canopy of leaves, giving the darkening forest light. Every once in a while, a bird or two would fly through one, creating a flicker on the forest floor. The breeze would gently rustle the leaves and branches of the trees, creating a sound of peaceful white noise.

After a few hours of wandering, the beams suddenly lurched, slanting and disappearing. E - 30 looked up, seeing part of the sun through the trees. It was almost rushing toward the horizon, moving out of sight, while quickly being replaced by an equally fast moving moon.

"That's... odd. I'll have to figure that out later." He puzzled.

The forest, now covered in darkness, seemed much more dangerous. The darkness made it seem as though there were some kind of creatures lurking behind the trees and waiting for a chance to strike. More than once, he saw glowing orbs, deeper in the forest.

Altogether, it made for an eerie situation, but manageable. At least, until a roar rose in the distance, making the ground shake ever so slightly.

He threw his hands up. "That's it, I'm going to bed." Moving to a large tree, he dug his hands into the bark, and climbed. Near the top, below the final canopy, there was a section where the main trunk split in multiple directions, creating the perfect place to sleep. He laid down, not too bothered by the rough texture of the tree bark. Closing his eyes, he said, "I'll travel in the morning."

Blanking out, he entered darkness. Same as always, he had no dreams. It never made sense to him. His brain was still organic, with the exception of a few implants, but yet he always found himself unable to dream. He simply entered black, then woke up a few seconds later, finding that hours have passed.

Although he didn't see it, he felt something was different. Looking at the blackness, trying to see through it, he wandered in the direction of the feeling, tugging at his mind. He walked for hours, wanting to just quit and wake up, but his consciousness kept being pulled, feeling himself think about nothing except following it.

As he continued to walk, the feeling, like he was being pulled, grew more and more. He couldn't stop himself, as he moved faster and faster, faster than his legs were actually moving. His feet were sliding now, finding no traction as he got faster. He slid even more rapidly with every step backward he tried to take.

At the end of his vision, a silvery object, a speck at this distance, made itself known. But at the rate that he was now moving, it was right in front of him in less than a millisecond. It was his own body. Closing his eyes in anticipation, he smashed into it at the insane speed, unable to comprehend the action.

But, instead of a smash, he passed right into it, where he abruptly stopped moving. Squinting his eyes open, E - 30 saw light. Blues and greens, in the form of numbers, moved in every direction. Mixed into this, little squares zoomed around too, each showing a millisecond of something before getting to far away.

"They're, memories. My memories." He came to a startling realization. "I'm in my own mind, more than dreaming."

Taking a careful step forward, his foot met uneven ground. Looking down, he saw that he had stepped off of a metal floor, and was now standing on pink flesh. All around, patches of metal and flesh were mixed, fused together to create an interconnected floor.

"Machine and flesh." He studied. "My brain..."

He sighed. "Well, my body, but I can't use my body without my brain." He glanced up, at the ceiling, and saw what could have been a face. A machine's. And his own. Half and half, creating one face, looking down on everything. Just like his eyes, the face's irises were a pool of changing color.

"That's disturbing. Extremely disturbing."

Chapter 4

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"Machine and flesh." He studied. "My brain..."

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E - 30 wandered his own brain, watching as information and memories rushed around and mixed together. Though, at the same time, he made sure to keep his head relatively low, avoiding the act of looking at the face in the ceiling. He instead focused on tracking the speeding parts of his mind.

After what felt like hours, he finally noticed a pattern. At first it seemed like all the memories and numbers were moving completely at random, but with closer investigation, he could see that both types originated and ended up in the ceiling.

"Great." he groaned. Steeling himself, he forced himself to look up, the terrifying face still up there. It's eyes seemed to glow a bit more when he did. Now, he could see that the memories were all flying in and out of the right eye of the beast, while the numbers were flying in and out of the left.

"Ok. Memories right, Data left. I'll go to the left for now." He reasoned. As he said this, the eyes on the face flashed, and he started to float. Flailing his arms did little to change his direction. He was pulled closer and closer to the face, merging with the flowing stream of green data. The face let out a horrifying rumble before its left eye glowed brighter.

A moment later, he found himself falling upwards to the center of the eye, where the flow of data entered with him. As he passed through, gravity was reset, sending him down and he landed with a thud.

Getting to his feet, he could see that the floor had changed. It was now completely metal, smooth and reflective across the expanse. In the air, the green data that he followed could be seen flying around the air, not a memory in sight. They would all pass through a small pillar in the center of the room, before flying back out.

The pillar was shiny black, about as tall as his abdomen. He moved forward to it, feeling a hum of power radiating from it. He stopped right in front of it, and waited for it to do something. It simply sat there, unchanged. It seemed to ripple slightly, like a liquid. Hesitantly, he put his hand on it, feeling it to be solid metal, and the pillar sprung to life. A beam shot out the top, almost like a projector beam. All the data flying around was pulled in, arranging themselves into neat rows that formed a cylinder around him.

He turned in a slow circle. "It's a database." He turned back to the pillar. "The information in the implants, it's all right here." Touching the pillar again, the data moved a bit. He swiped his hand, and the data spun in a circle, before coming to a slow stop.

"Ok, let's see." Swiping to the first in a row, he tapped the pillar. The "file" opened and expanded, showing a diagram of his body.

His thumb slid over the edge of the file, and a series of images appeared.There were many of them, displaying different angles to highlight different parts of his system. "The more detailed the better," he tapped the file again.

Now, he could see the multitude of features he had inside of him. Things like mechanical muscle tissues and brain implants were already known, and therefore less important. Mixed in were little tidbits of interesting and useful information, that he didn't even know about himself. Like how his eyes could also act as projectors and scanners.

One of the biggest finds was the apparent nanotech. While he wasn't made of them, there were some in his body. They would fix any damaged parts of his body, if given a material. Any type of metal would work, with which they would break it down, refine it into the metal he was made of, and use it to fix him. The nanos could even rearrange his hands and feet to recreate useful things like tools, weapons, and faster ways of moving.

"Well, that's surprisingly convenient. I don't have to worry about possible fights. But, I will need to get a stable metal source." At this, for the first time, he really thought about the creatures he met in that castle he appeared in. Even without the brain enhancements, he was smart enough to figure out that the talking horses that were chasing him, while wearing armor, were at least somewhat sapient. This would most likely mean that this was their world. Eventually, he would have to cross paths with them, whether it be for supplies, or by mere chance.

He went through hundreds of files; some many about himself, some about the research division that created him, a couple about a previous creation like him, except with a smooth swirling metallic face with no features and a midnight black business suit, glowing with orange highlights on the tie, and a few on future tests.

E - 30 was fairly certain that he had enough information to survive for now, so he back away, leaving a few files untouched. As he moved away, the pillar stopped projecting, letting the data flow freely again.

"Ok, now to wake up..." When he said this, metallic clanking occured behind him. He turned around, and saw another pillar that had come up from the floor. He made his way over, and when he was right in front of it, he could see a green square button, labeled "Wake up".

"Oh. Okay. Perfect." He pressed it, and the world around him pulsed with light before vanishing.

Barely a second later, his eyes opened. Light was pouring in through the leaves above him. Sitting up, he could see that he was still comfortably in the tree. So, armed with new knowledge, he jumped out of the tree, landing with a grassy thud. Small mice scurried away from him, running out of sight.

He turned and continued in the direction he was originally going, except this time, he was prepared for anything. He just had to make sure he kept an eye out for a metal source, and just in case, an area where the creatures lived.

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Twilight Sparkle; Princess, prodigy, and pragmatic thinker, was sitting in her room, reading one of the latest shipments of books. Lately, she has tried to tone down the obsessive reading, but she just had to enjoy these.

She moved them to her room, grabbed some snacks and drinks, and relaxed while digging in to her newest arrivals. About half an hour in, there was a knock on her bedroom door.

"Come in!" The door creaked open, and Spike ran in.

"Twilight! Put the book down!" Twilight smiled and shook her head. "Spike, I know I'm trying to cut down, but I am still allowed to read. It is good for your mind after a-"

She was cut off by Spike. "Yes, I know, but you have a letter from Princess Celestia. It says urgent on the outside!"

She frowned at Spike nervously, but didn't argue. She simply let Spike walk into her room. When he gave her the letter, she closed the book she was reading, and picked up the letter with her magic. Unfurling it, she read aloud:

Dear Princess Twilight
I'm afraid this letter is not one of our usual light hearted talks. There was an unusual occurrence in the castle, and a creature of unknown origins was found. It ran, and escaped from the castle, then headed into the woods.

Because of Canterlot's proximity to Ponyville, and the unknown intentions of the creature, I found it necessary to contact you and inform you of this, so that you and the rest of the Elements are aware and on a careful watch. Should you come across it, try not to aggravate it. Send me a message and try to keep an eye on it.

Your Friend,
Princess Celestia

Twilight finished reading, letting the letter fall. "What is this? I need to tell the others." Spike walked out of her room, leaving her alone with it. She sat down, and sighed. There was always something happening, but this seemed like a serious state of emergency, like the Tirek threat.

'I have full faith that we can overcome this, but... what if it is more than we can understand? More than we can handle?' She solemnly thought to herself.

Getting up, she decided to tell Fluttershy first. If there really was a creature loose in the forest, Fluttershy and her animals would know. Concentrating, she teleported away with a pop.

Chapter 5

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Getting up, she decided to tell Fluttershy first. If there really was a creature loose in the forest, Fluttershy and her animals would know. Concentrating, she teleported away with a pop.

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When Twilight arrived, she knocked softly on the door. She didn't want to frighten Fluttershy. While she waited for the door to open up, she looked around the outside of the house. She hadn't noticed it before, but now she could see that there were no animals out there. There were usually plenty of critters, in the houses, eating from feeders, but at the moment it was completely barren.

Twilight looked to the forest, wondering. 'Are they scared of the creature? Is it closer than we thought?

The door clicked and opened, revealing the pegasus Twilight was waiting for.

"Great! Fluttershy, there's something I need to tell you." She frantically stated. Fluttershy simply nodded.

"Of course, you can come in if you want." Twilight rushed in, already opening the letter she received from Celestia. She stopped short though, because now she saw the answer to her earlier question. All around Fluttershy's house, critters were flying, running, and resting in every place imaginable. The usual animals of her cottage were either having fun in the chaos, or cowering in a corner because if it. Shaking her head, she went back to the current issue.

"Princess Celestia just wrote to me about something that happened in Canterlot, something about a creature. Here, read it." She floated the letter over to Fluttershy.

Fluttershy read the letter, her eyes going back and forth across the lines. When she finished, her eyes widened in shock.

"Oh, that's scary... and it's in the woods. Many of my little animal friends told me they saw a weird creature in the woods." At this, Twilight jumped up. "They did?! Can they tell us where it is? Can they follow it?"

Fluttershy looked at the birds for a second. "I'm sorry Twilight, but all the poor little things were scared of the creature. I don't think they feel safe outside. They said the creature doesn't feel natural."

Twilight was frustrated at the lack of progress, but she took a deep breath and continued calmly. "Well, there has to be one animal willing to keep an eye on it." At this, a small blue bird flew over and landed on Fluttershy's head. It looked down, and tweeted to Fluttershy.

Looking at the bird, Fluttershy softly said, "You will? That's very brave of you." The bird tweeted in response.

"This little one said she's willing to keep an eye on it." Fluttershy told Twilight. "YES! Thank you!" Twilight celebrated. Fluttershy just smiled. "You should be thanking her", nodding to the little bird. Twilight smiled back. "Thanks!" Running for door she shouted, "I have to tell Princess Celestia!" and she ran off to town.

Fluttershy looked back at the bird. "Well, you can start now, if you want." The bird tweeted in agreement, before ruffling her feathers and taking off to the forest. Fluttershy sighed in worry before closing the door.

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E - 30 had been walking through the forest for the better part of 4 hours, and he still had not found anything of use. He had been using his scanner to search for any hidden metals deep in the ground. It was incredibly useful, even though he found nothing. All around, there had been nothing but trees and bushes.

At this point, it was getting annoying. He was looking for supplies, but deep down he knew he was looking for a town. Somewhere the creatures lived. They were the ones with the resources. In the end, they were the key to his survival. And if he couldn't interact with them, then their possessions would have to do.

After a couple more hours, he was about to break. There was still no sign of the end of the forest, or even a clearing in the trees. And, to add to the frustration, there was an annoying blue bird that kept following him through the trees, obnoxiously tweeting. It seemed like it was trying to annoy him on purpose. It never actually went lower than the branches of the trees, yet he could always hear it.

He looked up. "Maybe I could spot something from the top of a tree. Why didn't I think of this before?" He jogged a bit, looking for a taller tree. He found one, standing a good 15 feet taller than the surrounding trees, but didn't have any lower branches for him to climb. Walking up, he put his hands on it, small hooks emerging from his palms and fingers.

Digging his hands into the bark, he climbed. The bird that had been following him flew higher in the trees to avoid him, but he didn't care. He kept climbing, until he got to the part of the tree that split into branches to small to scale. Turning his head, he looked around the treetops, searching for anything of interest.

To his surprise, he did find something. There was a clearing about half a mile to the west.

"Well how about that. It's not much, but at least it's something." He descended from the tree, letting himself fall down at certain intervals to go faster. When he hit the ground, he took off running in the direction of the clearing. Trees blurred past as he leaped over bushes and fallen logs, never losing speed.

After a few minutes, the clearing appeared. He slowed to a stop and hid behind a tree just in case. He could hear the sounds, thing speaking to each other. E - 30 peeked around the trees, and saw a bunch of dog creatures, going in and out of a cave opening. They looked like upright dogs, except with large arms and small back legs, many with a posture like a gorilla. Most of them seemed to be wearing vests collars.

He decided to take a risk, and moved away from the tree, into the clearing. The bird that had been following him tweeted rapidly.

As he got closer, more and more began to notice him. The situation was becoming more and more dangerous as they did. He stopped moving, as did they. One dog in the front spoke up.

"Why you here? You no can steal!" He angrily shouted in a broken speech. Others got the same idea and began shouting over each other, the same broken speech ringing throughout the ranks. At this point, the situation was quickly becoming volatile, so he began to back up slowly.

Before he could start running for cover, the crowd quieted. He looked around, confused at the sudden silence. Then, the dogs in front of him began to part, letting a larger than normal dog through. The apparent leader looked at him with a neutral expression.

"Why are you here?" He spoke in a deep, rumbly voice. Unlike the others, his speech pattern wasn't broken.

E - 30 could tell that the dog was a lot more rational than the others. 'Maybe he's willing to help me.'

He cleared his throat. "I was just passing by, looking for anyone nearby. I just happened to notice this clearing."

The leader's eyes narrowed. "Yes, but why are you here? And still here?"

The leader looked like he was quickly becoming irritated. THis was his chance to get what he needed.

"Right. I wanted to know if you are willing to make a deal of sorts. I need metal, any kind you have." He quickly asked. The leader scratched his furry head in thought. The whole time, the crowd of dogs stared at their boss, waiting for his verdict.

Finally, the dog spoke. "We have plenty of metal. We are DIamond Dogs, so naturally we mine for gems. Of course, as we mine, we often come across pockets of unrefined metals, embedded in the rocks. We have no need for this, so we can give you as much as you need. However, we will need something from you. What is it that you can offer?"

The dogs around him started whispering among themselves, but E - 30 ignored them. He tried to think of a service he could offer. 'Wait, they like gems...'

"Well, you told me that you guys mine for gems. So, I have a way of scanning for certain materials. I could help you search, and you provide me with the metal you have.

The top Diamond Dog stood there, thinking. Then he nodded. "Deal. My name's Onyx. Like the gem." E - 30 spoke up. "I'm called E - 30." At this, Onyx shrugged. "Follow me."

He turned around, walking back through the crowd of dogs. The crowd stayed parted, waiting for him to follow their leader. E - 30 hesitated, then followed. The crowd joined together again, before following behind him.

They went into the cave, which turned out to actually be the entrance to a mine. The group followed a winding path through dirt and rock, lit by torches mounted on the walls. As they got deeper into the mine, the walls would occasionally have large sprouts of crystal like gems, already being harvested by a couple of Diamond Dogs.

"Hey!" E - 30 heard a shout from the front, from the leader. "Since you have more than likely heard about us Diamond Dogs, I wanted you to know that me and my pack don't employ slaves."

'Oh. Good to know I guess.'

Pretty soon, they all stopped at a pretty barren space in the mine. The crowd moved off to the side to let Onyx speak. "In this area we haven't been finding anything. This is where you come in. Tell us where to dig."

E - 30 nodded, before setting off his scanners. Directly below them, 15 meters down, there was a large deposit diamonds, surprisingly.

"I got something." He told the leader. "Below us. 15 meters down." The Diamond Dog turned to his pack, who quickly began digging a sloped tunnel down. E - 30 moved out of the way to give them space to work. Dirt and rocks flew out of the new hole, as the dogs dug with incredible speed.

They found the diamond, and had started a line to pass up the diamond chunks. Those were then dumped into a cart that was taken away to be emptied.

Apparently satisfied, Onyx turned back to E - 30. "Thank you. The reward is yours. Go back to the cave opening, there will be a pile of metals off to the side. Take as much as you want; you can even take a cart. Feel free to have some gems of your choice too. The rarer ones can fetch a decent amount of bits."

The dog extended his paw, so E - 30 did too, and they shook appendages. "Pleasure doing business with you." He walked off headed back up to the surface. He could hear Onyx yelling after him.

"You can come back anytime, we could always use your services, and we have plenty of metal!"

E - 30 finally found his way up to the cave, so he searched for his reward. Over in the corner, he saw a pile of dirt and rock covered metals. Obviously, they didn't particularly care what happened to it. He grabbed loading it up to the brim. He could have had his nanos break it down and store it inside him, but he read that a certain amount would make him considerably heavy.

"I'll just absorb some later, but first I should grab some gems, just in case." He pulled the cart over to a pile of gems, which were being sorted, cut, and polished. When he got there, the dogs knew he was allowed, so they let him through. He took a few handfuls, putting it in the cart with the rest of his loot. One diamond dog looked at his loot with envy, but let him take it.

Thanking them, he left the cave, pulling the cart behind him.

Chapter... 6...

View Online

After dragging the cart for many more miles, E -30 finally stopped to check things out. Following this direction didn't seem to be getting him anywhere. Everything was still looking the same as before.

'Maybe I should climb another tree.' Before he could decide, he heard another crack from behind him. 'Not again!'

He slowly turned his hand into a chainsaw, ready to tear the wolves behind him apart. He kept his arm in front of him, and waited. Another crack was heard, closer than before. That sound gave way to rustling in the bushes. Then, in a second, whatever was in the bushes lept out. E - 30 revved the chainsaw, bringing it to life, before he swung his body around.

He let out a roar, "Rraaaaaaaaggh!", as he thrust the chainsaw into the barrel... of a pony. His eyes widened at what he just did. Then, for some reason, he recognized the now dead body even though he had never met her: Ms. Hooves.

He changed his hand back, before falling to his knees. He felt like his heart was torn apart, much like hers was currently. He couldn't stop the tears from gushing down his face. He had just committed the worst crime imaginable. His robotic body felt colder than usual, his hands shaking at his sides.

He stayed like this for a while, he didn't know how long. Then, he shakily got to his feet. As he slowly walked away, he heard a rustle on the grass. Gasping, he looked back, and there she was. She was standing, perfectly healthy, and smiling at him. He couldn't bring himself to look her in the eyes, either one.

She walked forward, getting closer as E - 30 looked away. Her wings flapped as she rose in the air. Then, he felt a warmth. Looking, she saw her hugging him. He couldn't speak. Then, his arms started to raise, seemingly on their own. They wrapped around her, causing her to snuggle closer.

"I'm sorry..."

She leaned back, still smiling. "It's okay, you didn't mean it. Let's go, I can make something to eat. I live over that way." This made E - 30 smile as well. He held her in his arms as he walked in the direction she told him.

Years later, he lived with her, happily enjoying life. He still had to go to a therapist, as he often relieved that horrible moment in the form of nightmares and midday flashbacks.

Chapter 6

View Online

Thanking them, he left the cave, pulling the cart behind him.

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E - 30 walked across the clearing, encountering less and less Diamond Dogs. A few watched him leave, but the majority ignored him as they worked. One of them licked his hand as he passed. It would have almost been cute if they weren't built like gorillas. And could speak.

While it had been a nice distraction, the real prize was that he now had all the metal he needed, as well as a source for the uncertain future. The metal, he knew, would prove to be his salvation.

"With this, I won't even need to find the horse creatures. I can stay safe in the woods. Or, well, as safe as you can be in the woods." The edge of the clearing came up, and the little blue bird was still there. It looked like it hadn't moved from its spot on the branch since he left It, staring at him as he pulled his bounty behind him. As soon as E - 30 got close though, the bird flew off, disappearing through the tall trees.

The man had no time to think about it, as he had to keep moving. He couldn't keep living in trees, especially with his newly gained items. Another problem he faced concerned his "great escape" from the castle.

'It's only been a day and a half,' he thought, 'So they could still be chasing and searching for me. I have to keep moving. But, where?'

The only thing he was familiar with was that little bird that had been following him. Unfortunately, it had flown off in a hurry. 'Maybe it's going somewhere important... or it's just a bird.' At that point, it was his only option, though a bit shaky. He hauled his cart, following the direction the blue bird had gone. 'At least this way, I'm not just wandering.'

He stomped through more shrubbery, this time with his cart behind him. The whole time, it continued to be a nuisance, and got caught on everything it could find. A tree root. A rock. A mudhole. Another rock. It was almost impressive.

"I swear I'm going to smash this thing." He muttered to himself as it caught on another root. He yanked the cart forward, dislodging it. At that point, he was paying more attention to the annoying cart rather than searching for some form of sanctuary the bird might have. "That bird is the only lead I've got."

Thirty minutes later, he was still moving forward with a struggle. It was almost like things got in his way on purpose, just to stop him. On top of that, the sun once again set, letting moonlight shine through the forest. With the newfound darkness, all the little traps that slowed him down, were practically invisible. And bigger somehow.

Apparently, they were deeper too. The stain on his life that he was dragging sank into a pit of mud. It was much deeper than the others, the mud pushing past the wheels and almost spilling into the box of the cart, and yet, it was still sinking. Acting fast, he pulled the cart back onto solid ground. "Great. The whole thing's caked in mud." Shortly after he said this, he heard a snap.

Even though he was new to this forest, it was obvious that the sound could be very bad. Leaving his crusty cart, he searched all around with his eyes, letting them search for any signs of heat or motion. For a few minutes, he didn't find anything, like it vanished. Just as he was about to give up, he heard another snap. He was ready this time, and caught some motion close by. The suspect didn't give off any heat though, so when it stopped moving, he lost sight of it.

'What... is it?' He took a step forward. He needed to check to see what exactly it was. Before he could take another step, he heard a low growling. In front of him, the creature appeared to his eyes again, giving off vibrations from its growl. The situation was quickly becoming dangerous. This time, the creature came forward, still growling. First, its eyes appeared, glowing green orbs in the dark. More of its body left the darkness, and the moonlight revealed the shape of a wolf.

The animal approaching him looked just like the statue he saw earlier in the forest. The fur of a normal wolf was instead replaced with wood, twisted and rotting in some places. In other places, moss grew over the wood, creating a false image of fur. Its paws carried extended wooden claws, sharp and jagged hooks. Just below its unnatural eyes, its mouth was filled with equally sharp teeth.

The abomination stalked closer, gaining more and more courage. With each step it took, E - 30 moved backward, unnerved by the creature's appearance. He moved back more, and his back touched the rough bark of a tree.

Seeing this, the wolf growled deeper, before rushing forward. "NO!" E - 30 shouted, before kicking the beast. It went flying, going about 15 feet before smashing into a tree and falling to the ground. It got up shakily, careful about the new cracks in its body.

E - 30 moved forward, fists raised. "Alright, let's go." He ran forward, before being rammed into the ground by an unseen force. Lifting his head, he saw another wolf, in a ready stance next to the damaged wolf. "Okay, two on one." He got to his knees, then heard another growl. This one didn't come from the two, but from the sides of him.

All around him, wooden wolves emerged from the darkness, each one jagged, angry, and sporting glowing green eyes. Growls emanated from each of them, claws scraping along the ground.

"I... might need some help." Cornered, he quickly tried to remember what his capabilities were. The wolves kept creeping closer. Getting an idea, he strained, trying to tell his body to do what he wanted. Finally, it worked. Looking down, he heard a series of clicking, and saw his hand transform into a very sharp machete. He raised his sword arm. "Okay, now lets to this."

The wolves responded by leaping at him, all at once. Their claws were aimed all over his body, preparing to tear him apart. The world slowed down to him, as he slashed his blade at the beasts. It passed through limbs and bodies like butter. Time speed back up as the affected wolves fell to the ground in pieces. The remaining wolves that he missed hit their target, latching onto him.

They proceeded to claw and bite at his body, tearing some of his clothes and scratching his metallic body. Every time he would rip one off of his body, another would take it's place. 'I can't do this!' He was quickly being overpowered. The wolves were now starting to do some serious damage, as the previous scratches dug deeper.

His blade was doing nothing to them at close range, making it ultimately useless. As he struggled to stay standing, he desperately tried to think of something that would be a better weapon against the deadly logs.

His eyes widened. 'Wood...' His machete retracted back into his damaged arm, before changing into a nozzle. Activating it, he blasted a wave of fire to the attacking animals. Many of them were directly hit, catching fire. They ran back, yelping at the flames burning away their bodies. Seeing their weakness, all of the wolves backed up, wary of his flammenwerfer. Gritting his teeth, he growled, "Burn."

He let loose another torrent of fire, making the wolves scatter. Those that weren't on fire glared at him, trying to find an angle on him. All around them, other wolves fell apart, killed from the fire that ate away at them. He fired a continuous stream, aiming to kill the rest. At this point, the wolves knew they couldn't touch him anymore. Any of the wolves that were alive ran away, merging with the distance shadows of the forest.

Surprisingly, the trees and foliage around his didn't catch fire. 'Good, I don't want to start a forest fire.' The fire on the dead wolves died down, only leaving embers. He breathed a sigh of relief. Retracting his weapon, he noticed just how much the wolves damaged him. His shirt was torn in multiple places, revealing gouges in the metal on his body. His arms weren't spared either, where rows of metal were ripped apart, revealing machinery beneath them.

'It doesn't make any sense. Were they really that sharp, sharp enough to go through metal? A few days ago I jumped down a freaking mountain!' He puzzled. He thought it would take more to damage him, but it seemed like he was wrong. "There's definitely something abnormal about those wolves. I need to stay away from them, if I want to live."

Then, his head jerked to the side. "The metal!" He rushed over to the mud caked cart, stepping over piled of burned wood wolves. He leaned over the side, grabbing one of the chunks of his bounty. It still had a bit of rock in it, but it was fairly pure.

"So, what do I..." as soon as he said it, he felt a tingle across his body. Emerging from the tears in his body, thousands of tiny specks crawled up to his hand. They surrounded the material, coating it. Then, the metal started to get smaller. Once it was completely gone, they went back to the damaged parts of his body. Some grouped together and merged, making them bigger and more detailed. He could see that they were spider-like drones, getting to work on repairing him. Once they arrived at the damaged parts, they started welding the material into it, slowly spreading it until the holes closed up. This happened all over his body, rips and tears slowly closing up. Once there was only one hole, they all swarmed to it, crawling inside before repairing it behind them.

E - 30 stood their, completely surprised at what he just experienced. "Well, at least I'm fixed." While it was weird, he could appreciate how fast they got it done. Now, he was back in good condition. He grabbed the handles of his precious cart, and pulled it forward.

In the sky, he could see the sun emerging from the horizon, still fast. "Great, I didn't get to sleep." He groaned. Now that it was daylight, he continued to trek forward, trying to ignore the fact that the cart was still getting caught on things, and that he could feel some of the drones moving around in his body.