GREEN   682    8054   47.37 KB

Condense (/bootleg/ WIP)

By ReggieSomething
Created: 1st March 2021 03:40:40 AM
Modified: 17th April 2021 07:29:45 PM

  1. >April 1, 2463
  2. >
  3. >I'm going to do it.
  4. >For real this time.
  5. >
  6. >
  7. >Who am I kidding?
  8. >Guess I'm the fool today. Not that there's anyone around to point it out.
  9. >Who am I even writing this for? Myself?
  10. >I can't even reference my previous entries without cringing. Well, at least my entries following the Convergence.
  11. >It's funny how I continue to adhere to my old routine (at least, the parts of it that resources allow) as if nothing ever happened. It's like a compulsion; some ethereal motivator I cannot disobey. This can't be healthy.
  12. >I acknowledge it... why don't I act? Am I that terrified of change?
  13. >Nothing could be worse than what has already transpired.
  14. >
  15. >Resonance aftershocks have increased in the foothills. It's too soon to tell if they brought anything (or anyone) through with them.
  16. >Guess I'll have to increase my patrols, which means I'll have to get around to completing the repairs I've been neglecting.
  17. >With the increased dimensional instabilities come the EM bursts that my degraded shielding can't counter. My electropolymers are too sensitive to the interference. I may have to temporarily retrofit archaic servo motors to my leg while I find replacement shielding material.
  18. >What I wouldn't give for two hours in a synth regeneration tank. My leg would be indistinguishable from a natural one if I had access to that kind of tech.
  19. >The lab is an option. Plenty to be salvaged there. The journey is three days on foot- risky enough considering the state of my prosthetic.
  20. >
  21. >It's not worth the risk when considering the ever-present dangers of raiders... or those shapeshifters that sometimes come through the portals. My D.E. weapon systems are barely functioning as is.
  22. >But...
  23. >
  24. >
  25. >It would be nice to sleep peacefully for once. To go one night without my leg waking me up, spazzing uncontrollably in the wake of a transient EM storm. Nightmares notwithstanding.
  26. >Hell, it would be nice to have a lot of things; peace of mind, a friend.
  27. >Somebody special to hold at night.
  28. >I'd kill to talk with another friendly person; even an AI at this point.
  29. >
  30. >So much has irrevocably changed.
  31. >Look at me- I'm writing my journal entries ON PAPER! Like it's the twentieth century!
  32. >
  33. >
  34. >That's all I've got for today. More to come tomorrow.
  35. >
  36. >
  37. >Provided I don't go actually go through with it as soon as I set down this pen.
  38.  
  39. ...
  40.  
  41. >He capped the pen and set it down with deliberate, unnecessary precision. The notebook was closed in a similar fashion.
  42. >Electropolymers that interfaced with the remnants of his quadriceps clicked as they rolled over each other when he stood.
  43. >Ignoring the discomfort caused by the obsolete and degrading components, he brushed off his lap and reached towards his neck to straighten a tie he no longer wore; a tic from his previous life.
  44. >Turning his head, he looked up at the rope. It continued to dangle motionless from the exposed rafter, tied in a moment of anguish and summarily abandoned out of fear.
  45. >Several minutes had elapsed when he tore his eyes away from it.
  46. "Not today."
  47. >The pictures on the wall halted his exit from the study. Adoring eyes and beautiful, happy faces smiled at him from blissful days long gone, never to return.
  48. >The question he couldn't answer bubbled up to the surface of his turbulent, churning thoughts, refusing to be pushed back into the depths of his subconscious.
  49. "What am I holding on for?" he asked the empty house.
  50. >Flashes of blue light drew his attention towards the western-facing window. Ominous midnight blue storm clouds had advanced over the mountain range during his afternoon ritual, obscuring even the foothills.
  51. >His leg twitched.
  52. >It was going to be a long night.
  53.  
  54. ...
  55.  
  56. >Just a little further.
  57. >The mare galloped harder, pushing her battered body to the limit in a desperate attempt to evade the monsters that pursued her. A cacophony of buzzing wings filled the air.
  58. >Bolts of green light zipped past her head, impacting a tree to her eleven o'clock. The pine trunk erupted in a fiery green blast of magic and splintered wood.
  59. >Capturing the falling timber in her blue aura, she whipped her head aft, hurling the tree with devastating power. She dared not look back to see whether the effort had paid off, lest she run into another tree or trip on a rock.
  60. >Sure enough, screeches of agony joined the din.
  61. >Atta girl.
  62. >Just a little further.
  63. >Just a little further.
  64. >Bursting out of the forest in a blur of pink, purple, and yellow, she could see the breathtaking architecture of her home, a gleaming beacon of hope.
  65. >The relief that came with the sight of her domain vanished a moment later when the drones touched down fifty meters ahead, fangs bared, soulless eyes aglow.
  66. >Within three heartbeats, she was surrounded.
  67. >A thud behind her announced the arrival of the one she despised above all others.
  68. >"I've been waiting a long, long time for this," an unmistakable female voice hissed at her.
  69. >She spun around to face the newcomer, horn charging with a pale blue glow.
  70. >Thunderous eruptions broke out all around before either could attack. With them came shimmering holes in the ground and sky where their reality seemed to bleed together with that of another.
  71. >All she could do was scream as the spontaneous portals whisked them away without a trace.
  72.  
  73. ...
  74.  
  75. >*BOOM*
  76. >He jolted up from his pillow.
  77. >Muscle memory sent him rolling over the edge of his bed and returning to his feet with a directed energy weapon in hand.
  78. >His house rattled as the shock waves ripped through the landscape. Any concerns about a raider attack were assuaged when his leg began to spasm. The roving gangs used conventional explosives which didn't affect his temperamental prosthetic.  
  79. >At least the spasms weren't bad enough to impede his mobility this time.
  80. >The blasts faded as quickly as they arrived. He stood rigid, not daring to move whilst he strained to distinguish any unusual sounds from the background noise.
  81. >Five minutes.
  82. >Ten minutes.
  83. >He relaxed his tensed muscles with a forceful exhalation. The pillow welcomed his head.
  84. >...
  85. >Was that...
  86. >*bzzzzzzz*
  87. "Oh, SHIT."
  88. >Leaping out of bed, he rushed for the antiquated rifle that rested in the corner.
  89. >The shapeshifters were resistant to directed energy bursts, but old-school copper-and-lead projectiles worked like a charm.
  90. >He pulled back the small charging handle and released it. The rifle's mechanical noises were soothing on some base level.
  91. >With any luck, the little demon horses would pay his modest homestead no mind and carry on in search of a group worth attacking.
  92. >Nevertheless, he laced up his boots in preparation for the worst. A 9mm handgun was secured next.
  93. >"Heeeeelllllp!" a female voice cried out above the buzzing.
  94. >Oh no.
  95. >The buzzing grew louder as did the pleas for assistance.
  96. >"Please, anypony! HELLLLLLP!"
  97. >Any...pony? Did he hear that right?
  98. >Beams of green light brought his attention back to the present, as did the renewed screams.
  99. >They were headed straight towards his house.
  100. >He forgot to turn off the porch light.
  101. "Jesus... Tittyfucking-"
  102. >"AAAAAAAAHHHH!"
  103. >His hands smashed the switches by the back door. Floodlights erupted to life after a moment's hesitation.
  104. >The sudden and drastic change in lighting effectively disoriented predators and prey, affording easy targets.
  105. >*BANG*
  106. >*BANG BANG BANG*
  107. >Fifteen shots had rang out before the drones were able to regroup. A pink mass in his peripheral vision had taken cover behind a pile of cinder blocks to his right.
  108. >*ca-chunk*
  109. >The rifle bolt locked open upon ejecting the last cartridge.
  110. >One drone remained. It's horn shone with sickly green light as it focused whatever arcane energy it was able to summon.
  111. >Time slowed.
  112. >He saw the green light hurtling directly towards him.
  113. >His hands discarded the rifle in a frantic attempt to draw the handgun from its holster.
  114. >A pink mass impacted his right side with tremendous force, knocking him down.
  115. >The green bolt harmlessly impacted the wall behind him and his mysterious savior.
  116. >Scrambling to his feet, he lined up the sights on the final drone, who was already charging its horn for another attack.
  117. >The bullet tore through its right eye. It crumpled to the ground with a thud, but not before releasing a half-charged blast from its horn.
  118. >He watched helplessly as the bolt sailed to his right. It traveled past him, past the unusually pink equine that looked at him with uncertainty.
  119. >Wait, what?
  120. >There was a small pink horse thing next to him. Its head came up to about his sternum, but its horn brought its total height close to his own.
  121. >Large, light purple irises gazed into his soul for what seemed like an eternity.
  122. >His perceived time dilation came to an abrupt halt when the green bolt that had missed them both ricocheted off the home's steel door.
  123. >The green energy's impact to the back of the pink winged unicorn's skull didn't seem to faze it at first.
  124. >It shook its head, eyes clearly having trouble focusing on him.
  125. "Holy shit, are you alright?"
  126. >He facepalmed loudly.
  127. "Why am I even talking to you? It's not like animals can-"
  128. >"I- Did they...who are-" it sputtered in a clearly-female voice.
  129. >He slowly looked down at the creature.
  130. >Their eyes met.
  131. >He screamed in a manly falsetto.
  132. >She screamed, pranced frantically in place, and summarily fainted.
  133. >Barren ground likewise kissed his face a heartbeat later.
  134.  
  135. ...
  136.  
  137. >A peal of thunder brought the man forth from his stupor. Cold spring raindrops kissed his skin with ever-increasing frequency.
  138. >Groaning, he sat up and took stock of his surroundings. Memories of recent events flooded back into mind upon seeing the shapeshifter corpses. They laid about in various contorted poses, as if they were toys that had been unceremoniously scattered by a child that had lost interest in playing with them.
  139. >Their bodily fluids and entrails painted the once-dull brown earth a neon green. Onyx hides gleamed in the harsh illumination provided by the floodlights.
  140. >His gaze turned to the pink equine that lay unconscious an arm's length away. It had saved him from the last shapeshifter's energy blast.
  141. "Right... talking horse."
  142. >It wasn't wise to leave the corpses out, lest they attract more unwanted attention. However, the imminent storm wouldn't afford him the time to properly dispose of them.
  143. >Rising with an uncertain wobble from his left leg, he holstered his handgun and picked up his rifle.
  144. "Hey," he said whilst giving the mare a gentle tap on her withers, "we need to get inside."
  145. >No response.
  146. >Sighing, he slung his rifle behind his back, then squatted down to the mare, taking care when working his hands and forearms underneath her barrel.
  147. 'She's lighter than I expected,' he mused. 'Somebody clearly spared no expense if they wanted her structural members made from a superalloy.'
  148. >He kicked the door closed behind him and made for the living room couch. Squatting down once more, he deposited the mare on the worn cushions. He took his time snaking his arms out from beneath her, so not to jostle his guest more than necessary.
  149. >A sense of urgency and brisk steps carried him back to the door. Efficient movements extinguished the outdoor floodlights and locked the door. Rectangular tubes, welded on both sides of the door frame, accepted a two-by-four through their openings, effectively barring the portal.
  150. >He took a lap around the ground floor of his home, ensuring all blinds were lowered and curtains closed.
  151. >Satisfied with the state of the house, he returned to his guest.
  152. >She was still unconscious.
  153. >He unslung his rifle and set it on the coffee table, then turned to examine the pink curiosity that laid on her back with her wings and legs hanging limply and spread, respectively.
  154. >The mane and tail were similar mixtures of purple, pink, and yellow. Large wings were pink at the leading edges, but displayed a darkening gradient of purple towards the tips of the primary feathers.
  155. >Most curious (notwithstanding the wings and horn) was the multifaceted sapphire heart that embellished the rump.
  156. >If her voice hadn't already indicated the nature of her sex, the unobstructed view of her anatomy left no doubt in the man's mind that this creature was indeed female.
  157. 'And what a female you are!' he mused. 'Such attention to detail... you must've costed millions!'
  158. >The slight, steady rhythmic rise and fall of her belly and torso alleviated his immediate concerns for her well being.
  159. "You poor thing," he said while daring to scratch behind her left ear, "those shapeshifter energy blasts are nothing to sneeze at; even a partially-charged one."
  160. >Curiosity compelled him to hurry downstairs. Standing alone among the clutter of boxes, motors, and electronic components was his workbench; a tidy, organized island in the sea of chaos that was his basement.
  161. >He found what he was looking for resting on said workbench. Faded italic words reading "Android Detection and Diagnostic Device" adorned the object's top edge.
  162. "Hello, old friend," he spat at the handheld device.
  163. >It didn't respond to the venom in his words; only to his fingers pressing its power button.
  164. >A soft sequence of electronic chirps joined the sounds of his footsteps in the staircase.
  165. >To his relief, the bubblegum-colored horse was still in the position he left her in. Android or not, the thought of asking permission to scan her made his skin crawl with anxiety.
  166. >What she doesn't know won't hurt her.
  167. >Right?
  168. >Extending his arm out, he pressed the "Scan" button on the device. It emitted a wide, flat curtain of lights from the end that was pointed towards the horse.
  169. >With practiced movements he methodically waved the scan tool, moving the light over every part of her body.
  170. >It beeped once he moved the light past her tail. He inspected the tool's display.
  171. >[SCANNING... COMPLETE]
  172. >[NO ANDROID COMPONENTS DETECTED]
  173. "No way."
  174. >He repeated the process on himself, sweeping the tool over his head, arms, and torso.
  175. >[NO ANDROID COMPONENTS DETECTED]
  176. "So far, so good."
  177. >His right leg came next; same result.
  178. >He swept the tool down his left leg. It began to beep a few centimeters above his knee. The man completed the motion down to his foot, then looked back at the device screen.
  179. >[ANDROID COMPONENTS DETECTED]
  180. "So it is working."
  181. >No sooner did the words leave his mouth did their implications make his blood run cold.
  182. "Jesus Christ... you're a synth."
  183. >He stared at her in disbelief.
  184. "Who the hell created you? Where-"
  185. >Two beeps from the scanner disrupted his thoughts.
  186. >[VIEW RESULTS?]
  187. >He looked at the scanner, shifted his gaze to the horse, then looked back to the scanner again.
  188. "Sure, why not? It's been a while since I ran a diagnostic on myself."
  189. >[COMPONENTS: ASSY, LOWER LEG, LEFT, W/ PATELLA, MK. IV]
  190. >[MFG: RMPS TECHNOLOGIES- ADVANCED APPLICATIONS GROUP]
  191. >[LATEST FIRMWARE UPDATE: 4 JUL 2061]
  192. >[WARNING! EM SHIELDING INTEGRITY: 15%]
  193. >[WARNING! AVG. EP STRAND INTEGRITY: 45%]
  194. "Psh," he scoffed, lowering the device. "Tell me something I didn't know."
  195. >*BEEP BEEP BEEP*
  196. >[WARNING! ESTIMATED REMAINING POWER CELL LIFE: 2 MONTHS, 2 WEEKS, 5 DAYS]
  197. >[*** REPLACE POWER CELL IMMEDIATELY ***]
  198. >That was a new one.
  199. >His eyes widened.
  200. "Two and a half months? I had a year remaining when I checked it in March!"
  201. >He dropped the handheld bearer of bad news onto the coffee table. It clattered against the wooden surface and the rifle that rested upon it before coming to a rest.
  202. >His visitor began to groan and stir.
  203. >She opened her eyes and grimaced when she raised her head.
  204. >Their eyes met for the second time.
  205. >She gasped, and attempted to scramble backwards away from him.
  206. "Waitwaitwait! Hold on! I'm not gonna hurt you!"
  207. >She froze, but narrowed her eyes.
  208. >"Who are you?"
  209. "My name's Anonymous, but you can call me Anon."
  210. >"What are you?"
  211. >Anonymous gave her a quizzical look.
  212. "I'm a human, of course! What else would I be?"
  213. >"Where am I?"
  214. "In my house."
  215. >"Where is your house?"
  216. "Roughly seventy-five kilometers north of Denver, in the vast territory formerly known as the Rocky Mountain Autonomous Zone."
  217. >She responded with a blank stare.
  218. "Not ringing any bells?"
  219. >Her long, multicolored mane whipped to and fro with vigorous head shakes.
  220. "What's your name?"
  221. >Her impossibly-large purple eyes widened.
  222. >"My... name? My name..."
  223. >She looked around the room, noting the locations of the door and windows.
  224. "Easy now. Stay with me."
  225. >"I- I can't remember!"
  226. >Her breathing quickened.
  227. >"I've never heard of this place!" she screamed, rising to her hooves. "I've never even seen a creature like you before!"
  228. >She paced along the length of the couch a few times before returning her gaze to Anonymous.
  229. >"How did I get here!?"
  230. >Anonymous saw her heaving chest and took the initiative. He sat down next to her. She fell into his outstretched arms and buried her face in his shoulder.
  231. "Shhh... it'll be okay," he whispered into her right ear. "You took a nasty shot to the head earlier. I'm sure everything will come back to you in time."
  232. >He held the mare in his embrace until she regained control of her breathing. She exhaled loudly and relaxed in his arms.
  233. "Better?"
  234. >"Yeah. Thank you."
  235. "Of course, though, I should be thanking you."
  236. >She looked up into his eyes again. "Why's that?"
  237. >Anon frowned.
  238. "You don't remember?"
  239. >Another head shake.
  240. "What do you remember?"
  241. >Her muzzle scrunched. "I remember... running. I was being chased."
  242. "Shapeshifters."
  243. >"What?"
  244. "Shapeshifters. You were being chased by shapeshifters. Led 'em straight to my doorstep."
  245. >"I'm not sure what 'shapeshifters' are."
  246. >An explosion of thunder shook the house, startling the mare into hiding her face again.
  247. "I would take you outside and show you," he chuckled, running his fingers through her mane, "but it'd be best to wait until morning, after the storm has passed."
  248. >She pulled away from his embrace again and studied the strange, kind creature that had taken her into his home.
  249. >Thick, wavy jet black locks, accented with a fair amount of silver stands, covered his head. He had a week's worth of salt-and-pepper stubble on his face. The emergent beard, coupled with two scars- one above his right eyebrow, the other over his left cheekbone, gave the man a rugged, but world-weary look.
  250. >Distinct facial features aside, it was the man's eyes that captivated the mare. They were a brilliant light blue. They seemed too bright, too intense a tint of blue, for a creature with otherwise subdued coloring. It was as if his eyes could emanate light from their crystalline surfaces at any moment.
  251. >'There's more to you than meets the eye,' she thought to herself, amused with her pun.
  252. >She felt a twinge of embarrassment upon realizing that he had continued to speak whilst she ogled him.
  253. "-nasty little buggers. They're built kinda like you, what with the horn and wings and all-"
  254. >An involuntary frown danced across her muzzle.
  255. "-but they're smaller... and nowhere near as pretty as you, if I'm being completely honest."
  256. >She looked away, hoping to prevent a blush from taking root in her cheeks.
  257. >No dice.
  258. >He cleared his throat and continued.
  259. "Anyway, shapeshifters prefer to hunt in swarms, but will disguise themselves by literally changing their shape if they're alone. Never seen anything like it before. They feed off some from of energy from people and animals. Nobody really understands them."
  260. >"That sounds awful. I'm- I'm sorry that I led them to your house."
  261. "Don't worry about it," he said with a faint smile. "I dispatched them before they could do too much damage."
  262. >"I think I remember... oh," she mumbled with a fresh blush. "Did... did I push you earlier?"
  263. >Anonymous threw back his head and laughed. The mare covered her face with a hoof.
  264. "Yes. Yes you did. Like I said earlier, I should be thanking you. You saved my ass back there. Who knows what that energy blast would've done to me."
  265. >"Did I hurt you?"
  266. "Naw. I'm fine."
  267. >"Thank goodness."
  268. >They studied each other for a tense few moments, neither sure what to say to the other.
  269. "So," Anon said, breaking the silence, "you got a name, mystery horse?'
  270. >She frowned at the man. "Pony."
  271. "Huh?"
  272. >"I'm a pony."
  273. >Anonymous gave her The People's Eyebrow.
  274. "I've never seen a pony with a horn or wings before."
  275. >"I'm an alicorn," she said proudly, spreading her wings for emphasis.
  276. >She hissed and grimaced, retracting her wings to her barrel before they could spread to their impressive full span.
  277. "What's wrong?"
  278. >"My left wing... I must've hurt it somehow."
  279. "What do you need for it?"
  280. >"Not sure. Hopefully it's nothing more than a simple sprain. Guess I won't be flying for a few days."
  281. >Anon's gaping mouth made her giggle in spite of her pain.
  282. "You can FLY?"
  283. >"Of course I can, silly!" she giggled. "Did you think these big things were just for decoration?"
  284. "Um, yeah?"
  285. >The man's dumbfounded demeanor sent the mare further into a giggling fit, which eventually rubbed off on Anonymous.
  286. "So," Anonymous continued after his laughs subsided, "you know what you are, you know you can fly... Do you remember who you are yet?"
  287. >She scrunched her muzzle and stared at the carpet.
  288. >"My name is... Mia, no... Armor? No, that's not right..."
  289. "It's okay, take your time."
  290. >"... C-Cay? C-can... con... dance... dense? Con... dense?"
  291. "Cawn-dense?"
  292. >She tilted her head. "I think so?"
  293. "You don't sound so sure."
  294. >"I don't feel too sure."
  295. >Silence reigned again in the living room.
  296. "Well," Anon spoke up. "I refuse to call you 'Pony' -it seems rude- so, 'Condense' it is. At least, until you remember your real name."
  297. >She sighed.
  298. >"Okay, Anon."
  299. >Anon tentatively rested a hand on Condense's withers.
  300. "Can you remember anything else about yourself? Where you're from and all that?"
  301. >Condense shook her head again, then winced.
  302. "Easy now. You want me get you some ice or something for your head?"
  303. >"No. I just want to rest for a while," Condense responded softly. "I'm really tired."
  304. "Right. Well, I'll let you be for now. It's late anyway. Help yourself to the throw pillows and the blanket that's on the back of the couch."
  305. >Condense watched Anon stand to his full height. He bent down to grab a strange black object from the table. She figured it to be some sort of weapon.
  306. >Anonymous had taken two steps away before a panicked, "Wait! Where are you going?" stopped him in his tracks.
  307. "To my room?" he replied, spinning on his good foot.
  308. >Condense looked around the living room.
  309. >"Where's that?"
  310. "Up those stairs, third door on the right," he said, pointing with his left hand. "Come get me if you need anything."
  311. >"Oh. O-Okay..."
  312. "Goodnight, Condense."
  313. >"Goodnight," she sighed.
  314. >Anonymous shuffled up the stairs, rounded the corner and passed through his doorway. He pawed at the door as he passed through. It swung, but didn't latch shut.
  315. >Stopping by a wooden trunk in the corner adjacent to his bed, Anon ejected the spent magazine from his rifle. He slammed a fresh magazine in the well and released the rifle's bolt. After ensuring the weapon had successfully chambered a round, the checked the safety, then finally stood it in the corner, muzzle facing the ceiling.
  316. >The handgun came next. He unholstered and reloaded the weapon, setting it to rest in his nightstand drawer.
  317. >Anon stripped down to his drawers and flopped into bed. The room automatically switched off the main light and activated the lamp on his nightstand.
  318. >He laid motionless in silence, staring at the ceiling. His eyes danced from the painted handprints on the cieling and the names that accompanied them
  319. >Mama
  320. >Daddy
  321. >Daniel
  322. >Catherine
  323. >He continued to stare after his vision grew blurry.
  324. "I'm so sorry I couldn't do more" he whispered to the names.
  325. >Anon's thoughts inevitably returned to that fateful day. He clenched his jaw and pulled at his hair to force his mind away from that nightmare before it could consume him again.
  326. >He eventually reflected on Condense.
  327. >Who made her, and for what purpose? Where did she come from?
  328. >Sleep crept upon him before he could turn off his lamp.
  329. >He laid silently for some time.
  330. >Then his leg began to twitch.
  331. >Unbeknownst to Anonymous, he talked in his sleep. His voice carried out of his room on occasion.
  332. >The bedroom door creaked open.
  333. >Plush carpet muffled Condense's approaching steps, allowing her to reach Anon's bedside undetected. She studied his features in the dim light of the nightstand lamp.
  334. >Anon shot up to a sitting position. His unfocused eyes looked around the room.
  335. "What's wrong with me?"
  336. >Condense froze.
  337. "Why don't you want me anymore?" Anon mumbled, then flopped back onto his pillow.
  338. >Condense tilted her head.
  339. >Anon began to snore. His leg twitching resumed; more intense than before.
  340. >"Shhh," Condense whispered. She placed a hoof on his unusually-cold bare leg. The twitching ceased.
  341. >She caressed his face with purple-tipped primary feathers and his sleeping expression became serene.
  342. >Condense ceased her contact with Anon and turned for the door. He began to twitch again.
  343. >Frowning, Condense looked at Anon, to the door, and back to Anon.
  344. >The mattress absorbed most of her movements as she crawled beside her mysterious savior.
  345. >With her barrel pressed firmly against Anon's side, Condense unfurled her uninjured right wing and brought it to rest around Anon's torso.
  346. >"Sweet dreams, Anonymous," she whispered.
  347. >"Thank you for saving me."
  348.  
  349. ...
  350.  
  351. >Cold.
  352. >Wet.
  353. >Alone.
  354. >Lightning danced overhead, providing milliseconds of illumination for the disoriented Changeling queen. Thunder followed less than a second later, shaking her out of her stupor.
  355. >She wiped her rain-soaked mane from her face and rose to her full height on shaky legs.
  356. >Something felt different; wrong even.
  357. >The ambient magic of her surroundings was substantially lower than any place she'd been in Equestria.
  358. >Subsequent lightning strikes revealed rugged mountains towering around her. Could she have been deposited in the Crystal Mountains? The Yaket Range, perhaps?
  359. >She felt a vibration in the ground. A low, droning growl and moving lights announced the approach of some unknown entity.
  360. >Taking cover behind a nearby boulder, she watched a semi truck hurtle past.
  361. "What in Tartarus is that?" she asked aloud.
  362. >Wishing to track the truck's progress, she flew to the top of the nearest hill. To the east, she could make out other lights moving in the distance, as well as several static lights further away.
  363. >Realization hit like a charging yak.
  364. "This isn't Equestria."
  365. >How did she get here?
  366. >With a furrowed brow and shut eyes, she tried to recall her last memories before waking in this magic-forsaken place.
  367. >There were bright lights, thunderous blasts, and the terrifying sensation of being pulled somewhere against her will.
  368. >Before that, there was pink...
  369. "That BITCH," the changeling growled. "She'll pay for this!"
  370. >She paced back and forth along the pine-studded ridgeline until her rage subsided.
  371. >Lighting her horn, she passively searched her new environment for food sources, and for her drones.
  372. >Love was even more scarce than magic in this mountainous landscape.
  373. >To her relief, there were dozens of drones scattered about, but in small packs, and far away.
  374. >Still, they were closer than the faint traces of love she detected.
  375. >That was another disturbing absence she finally was able to qualify; no hivemind. The drones were too few, too scattered, and too disorganized to form a proper hive.
  376. >No sooner did the thought cross her mind, did a foreign presence invade her mind.
  377. >If was distant and faint, but unmistakable.
  378. >One of her drones was calling any and all changelings to itself. It was trying to rally and organize the others as a fledgling protoqueen.
  379. >She hissed and spat on the ground.
  380. "We'll see about THAT."
  381.  
  382. ...
  383.  
  384. >Sunlight warmed Anon's face and gradually roused him from slumber.
  385. >It was strange, to wake after sunrise. He hadn't done so since before the Convergence.
  386. >For the first time in years, his sleep was dreamless, instead of plagued by recurring nightmares.
  387. >Lack of dreams notwithstanding, his sleep was characterized by a new quality. It was a comforting, kind presence that made him feel as if he was being hugged.
  388. >0830.
  389. >Anon let out a low whistle of amazement at his nightstand clock. Truly, he'd been out like a light.
  390. >He rubbed his eyes, then sat up. Something fell off his chest, landing on the bunched white sheet that covered his lap.
  391. >A small pink feather.
  392. >Pinching the quill, Anon brought the feather closer to his eyes for inspection.
  393. 'Yup, it's a pink feather! Good work everyone, let's go home!'
  394. >Anon sniggered at his cheesy internal monologue and looked at the depression in the bed beside him.
  395. >A few short pink hairs littered the sheet's otherwise unblemished surface, as did a long purple strand.
  396. >Curiosity compelled him to bring his face to the sheet.
  397. >A faint, unfamiliar scent lingered on the fabric. There was a hint of sweat, and something he didn't immediately recognize.
  398. >'Musk' probably wasn't the proper word. It wasn't unpleasant, just different than anything he'd experienced.
  399. >Whatever it was, the scent had a quality that Anon could only classify as "feminine".
  400. >It was nice; comforting, even.
  401. >Anon sat back up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He pulled his nightstand drawer open and placed the feather inside.
  402. >Memories of the previous night consumed his mind as he trudged towards his bedroom door.
  403. >Condense.
  404. >Opening his door, Anon began to ponder what to do about his unusual new guest when a smiling face with unusually-large purple eyes appeared inches from his own.
  405. >"HI ANON!"
  406. >Anonymous lurched backwards, flailing his arms as he tried to regain his balance
  407. "Ah, TITS!" he yelped as he crashed ass-first onto his carpeted floor.
  408. >Condense giggled.
  409. >"Good mor-niiiing!" she sang. "How did you sleep?"
  410. >Anonymous looked up at the pony in bewilderment. He tried to scowl at her while he caught his breath, but it was hopeless to feign displeasure with that cheerful, pretty face.
  411. "Surprisingly well," he answered before giving her a very slight, sly smile. "How did the couch treat you?"
  412. >Condense's smile flickered.
  413. >"Yeah, um... the couch! Good! It was good!"
  414. >Anon cocked an eyebrow.
  415. "Is that so?"
  416. >Condense nodded several times. "Yep! I was so tired, I probably could've laid on a rock and been out cold."
  417. "I know what you mean," Anon replied as he stood up. "It's funny, I slept better last night than I have in years."
  418. >"Aww, I'm glad to hear that!"
  419. "Yeah, it was so weird... I didn't have any nightmares for once. Just dreamless sleep, and the feeling like I was being hugged."
  420. Condense chuckled and shifted her weight from side to side.
  421. >"Anon? I uh, need to tell you something..."
  422. "Yesssss?" he replied with a cheeky smile.
  423. >"I need to use the little fillies' room," Condense said with a sheepish smile. "Humans do have bathrooms, right?"
  424. "Oh!" Anon replied, chuckling. "Yes, we do. Right behind you. Meet me downstairs when you're done and I'll give you a proper tour of the place."
  425. >"Great!"
  426. >Anon left the pony to her business and headed downstairs to the living room, his brow furrowed.
  427.  
  428. 'Fully-functioning digestive tract,' he thought. 'She can fly, apparently. No reason to think the lady bits I saw last night weren't the real deal.'
  429. >He plopped onto the couch.
  430. 'Need to investigate the purpose of that big-ass horn. For all her complexity, there's no way it's for decoration.'
  431. >The faint sounds of a toilet flushing reached his ears.
  432. 'Tour first, then dispose of the corpses, and then...'
  433. >Pink appeared in Anon's upper peripheral vision. His eyes traveled up to follow Condense, who trotted across the landing and down the stairs. A faint smile was still present on her face.
  434. 'And then I'm going to figure out who made you, and why.'
  435.  
  436. ...
  437.  
  438. >The stretch of Highway 93 between Golden and New Boulder remained mostly uninhabited for centuries, but not for a lack of trying.
  439. >In fact, several communities had sprung up between the two historic cities in the early twenty-first century.
  440. >Breathtaking views of rugged, snow-capped peaks to the west commanded premium real estate prices at the time.
  441. >The vista also became the backdrop to some of the bloodiest conflicts of the War of Western Seccession.
  442. >Following their hard-earned victory, the government of the Rocky Mountain Autonomous Zone elected to employ new terraforming technology to erase the scars of war from the landscape.
  443. >Citizens were forbidden from building any permanent structures in the restored area. The official reason was to "give the land back to Mother Nature".
  444. >As for the real reason, that was anyone's guess.
  445. >A lone house sat upon a hilltop a few kilometers from the edge of this area. Its ostentatious architecture and decor was a throwback to days of wealth and prosperity long gone.
  446. >The house, built on a hundred-acre lot, afforded its owner all the privacy he could want. Automated defense turrets made the property a veritable fortress in the chaos following the Convergence.
  447. >But no machine is immune to failure, especially when repeatedly exposed to the effects of spontaneous inter-dimensional rifts.
  448. >Tony was a brilliant man, but placed too much faith in technology.
  449. >Now he paid the price, becoming a prisoner in his own home.
  450. >Bathed in sickly yellow light from a single overhead lamp, he struggled against his restraints.
  451. >He turned his head wildly to catch a glimpse of his captor, who circled him in the shadows.
  452. >"Come now, Tony. This can be over now, or I can continue for... well, let's hope it doesn't come to that."
  453. >Tony's strained against his restraints. His reply was muffled by the gag.
  454. >"Ah, my apologies Mister Bowhannon," Tony's captor murmured as he untied the gag. "You were saying?"
  455. "Please! N-no m-m-more!" Tony sobbed.
  456. >*SLAP*
  457. >"For God's sake, have some respect for yourself, man!" the captor growled. "It's simple- you help me out, and this all ends."
  458. >Tony held his breath and tried to contain his emotions.
  459. "Why are you doing this?" he managed to choke out.
  460. >The tormentor finally stepped into the light. He removed his padded gloves and long-sleeved shirt.
  461. >"Why do you think I'm doing this?" he spat.
  462. >Tony's face went pale.
  463. "I-I-I don't know why you came to me!"
  464. >Mechanical clicks and whirs reached Tony's ears when his captor lunged forward.
  465. >"These are RMPS parts... YOUR parts!" he roared. "I expect you to fix me!"
  466. "B-b-but... I'm not an android expert! I ran their synth program!"
  467. >"Wrong answer, chump."
  468. >Skinless robotic hands picked up a pair of pliers and snapped their jaws.
  469. "WAIT!"
  470. >"Yessss?"
  471. "I know who can help you!"
  472. >That earned Tony an exaggerated sweet smile.
  473. >"I'm listening."
  474. "deTerra... He ran our android department in the Advanced Applications Group. If anyone could fix you, it'd be him."
  475. >"There! Was that so hard?"
  476. >Cold metal fingers gently patted Tony's shoulder.
  477. >Moments later, the captor snapped the thin ropes securing Tony to his chair with minimal effort.
  478. >"Clean yourself up, Mister Bowhannon, and get packed. You're going to take me to him."
  479. >Tony bowed his head.
  480. "I'm sorry, Anon," he whimpered.
  481.  
  482. ...
  483.  
  484. >"You gonna be okay?" Anon asked as he chucked the last corpse into the incinerator.
  485. >Condense gave Anon a slow, silent nod.
  486. >Her smile was long gone.
  487. >The sight of the dead "shapeshifters" stirred up something deep within her. Their grotesque, lifeless bodies exhumed feelings of fear, loss, and rage.
  488. >Further compounding her emotional turmoil was the frustrating inability to recall any relevant memories regarding these creatures.
  489. >She knew they were relentless, cunning parasites.
  490. >But how did she know that?
  491. >Condense snorted, flicked her tail like a whip, and dug angrily at the ground with her right forehoof.
  492. >Anon took great care to close the incinerator's hatch as quietly as possible. He watched his new pink housemate pace in a small circle; alternating between clockwise and counterclockwise paths.
  493. >"Condense?"
  494. >There had to be more to these little black abominations.
  495. >"Condense."
  496. >The longer she looked at them, the more she felt the urge to scream. No, more than that...
  497. >"Con-dense."
  498. >...she wanted to hurt them. To hunt them down and make them suffer the way they made her suffer.
  499. >Wait, what?
  500. 'What did they do to me?' she wondered.
  501. >"HEY!"
  502. >Condense jolted to a stop and peered up at a concerned-looking Anon.
  503. "Huh?"
  504. >Anon approached her with cautious steps and his hands slightly raised. "Are you alright, pretty girl?"
  505. >The mare sighed and let her wings droop slightly.
  506. "Yeah, I'll be fine."
  507. >"You sure about that?"
  508. "I don't know," she admitted while kicking the ground with a foreleg.
  509. >Anonymous dropped to a crouch before her.
  510. >"Look," he said after getting on eye-level with her. "Whatever's bothering you, we can talk about it to your heart's content. But right now, we should get inside."
  511. >The man stood to his full height. Condense's gaze lingered on the mountains to the west, but Anon's gentle touch to the back of her neck soon coaxed her towards the house.
  512. >Anon shut the door behind them.
  513. >They had barely crossed the threshold when a yellow light that blinked on a wall-mounted glass screen caught Anon's attention.
  514. >Condense watched Anon hustle over to the screen and tap it with a finger. It came to life, displaying bright, colorful pictures on its surface.
  515. >It was hard to tell from her vantage point, but she believed Anon was looking at a map.
  516. >"Aw, shit."
  517. >The tone of his voice made her ears flatten against her head.
  518. "Anon? What's wrong?"
  519. >"What's wrong," Anon began as he spun around, revealing a grim face, "is I haven't been paying attention to the weather reports for several days."
  520. >Condense gestured towards the screen with her uninjured wing.
  521. "These reports... what did they say?"
  522. >Anon motioned for her to follow him, then jogged upstairs.
  523. >"They say we're due to get a meter of snow over the next four days," he called over his shoulder. "And more next week."
  524. "Really?" Condense asked as she followed Anon into his room.
  525. >"Yeah. Maria always said that March and April are historically the snowiest months in Colorado."
  526. "Who's Maria?" Condense asked, tilting her head.
  527. >Anon bowed his head. "My late wife," he murmured.
  528. >Condense rushed up to Anonymous and stroked his back with her right wing.
  529. "I'm so sorry, I-"
  530. >"It's okay... you didn't know."
  531. >Her host moved to the corner of the room and picked up the long black weapon from last night. He checked the rifle's chamber, then moved to his closet.
  532. "Anon, what are you doing?"
  533. >Her voice was saturated with concern.
  534. "What's that weapon for? Are you expecting more trouble?"
  535. >"I never leave the house without a gun," he said whilst raising his shirt to reveal a handgun holstered in his waistband.
  536. "So why do you need another one?"
  537. >Anon set his rifle down and began to put on body armor over his torso. Condense watched intently as he fitted protective gear over his forearms and legs. A helmet completed the ensemble. It completely covered Anon's head, and the visor was opaque, hiding his steely blue eyes from Condense's view.
  538. >Fully kitted up with armor, ammunition, and weapons, Anonymous was unrecognizable. Condense couldn't help that her ears flattened as she looked him over.
  539. >"I need to patrol the perimeter of my property, and you can never have enough firepower." Anon's voice called from his helmet. It was slightly distorted from the helmet's speakers, giving it a robotic quality.
  540. "Why?"
  541. >Anonymous motioned for Condense to follow him. He led her out of his bedroom and back to the main floor.
  542. >"It's something I do every day," he said over his shoulder. "I check on the sensors that track movement within the area. I also have a single automated defense turret that covers the only road in and out of the place. Gotta make sure it's functioning properly."
  543. >Condense ran in front of Anon to block his exit. She grimaced as she attempted to flare both of her wings out. The right extended fully, the left, she could only partially extend. Nevertheless, Condense maintained her posture in spite of her pain.
  544. "Let me come with you! I can help! I-I'll watch your back!"
  545. >An amused chuckle escaped Anon's helmet speakers. He removed his helmet and kneeled before the mare.
  546. >"Look at me," he said softly as he reached to scratch behind her ears. "What do you notice about what I'm wearing?"
  547. >Condense leaned into his touch and retracted her wings.
  548. "Hmmm... it makes you look scary?"
  549. >"Ha! Besides that. What do you notice about the colors of my clothes and armor?"
  550. "They're a dull mix of browns, greens, and, oh... I understand now. It's camouflage."
  551. >Anon gave her dual finger guns and clicked his tongue in affirmation.
  552. >"Exactly. I can blend in easily enough with the foliage. You on the other hand..."
  553. >He waved a hand over her coat, mane, and tail.
  554. >"...Your colors are bright. Vibrant. They'd make you stand out about as much as possible against the terrain."
  555. >Condense frowned.
  556. >"Hey, don't get me wrong, I think you've got a lovely color scheme."
  557. >That earned him a demure smile and a blush.
  558. >"But a beautiful thing like you-"
  559. >[Blush intensifies]
  560. >"- could attract all sorts of attention that you REALLY wouldn't want. Trust me. There are some baaaad dudes out there. Not as common as the months immediately following the Convergence, but they still come around from time to time."
  561. "Okay..." Condense replied with a pout.
  562. >Anon stood up and re-donned his helmet.
  563. "Hey, Anon?"
  564. >"Yeah?"
  565. "What's the 'Convergence'? I've heard you mention it a few times now."
  566. >Anon's body jolted as if he'd just been shot in the gut. Are you serious?" his incredulous robotic voice answered. "'The Five Minute Convergence'? 'Einstein's Boogaloo'? 'God's Great Eraser'? 'Your One-Way Ticket to Midnight?'"
  567. >[spoiler]CALLLLL IT...HEA-VY ME-TAL[/spoiler]
  568. >Condense scrunched her muzzle and tilted her head.
  569. >"You seriously don't know?"
  570. "Should I?"
  571. >A gloved palm slapped Anon's helmet visor. "Jeeeeeez-usssssss."
  572. "I'm sorry, A-Anon," Condense stammered, "I didn't mean to offend you!"
  573. >Anon waved his hands to dispel Condense's concern as if it was a fog that hung around them. "Hey, don't worry about it. You didn't say anything wrong, and I'm not offended."
  574. >He shrugged.
  575. >"It's probably something you've forgotten due to that energy blast you took to the head last night."
  576. >Condense's expression soured in a heartbeat.
  577. "Yeah..."
  578. >"Speaking of, has anything else come back to you?"
  579. >She shook her head. Her mane swept around her face like a multicolored curtain.
  580. >"Give it time. I'm sure your memories will return."
  581. >Anon's hand gently coaxed Condense away from the door. "I should be back in a couple hours."
  582. "What should I do while you're gone?"
  583. >"Feel free to shower, take a nap, or read any of the books I have. Anything in the fridge is fair game."
  584. >Purple-tinged primary feathers wrapped around Anon's gloved hand. He was amazed at their dexterity.
  585. "Please be careful..."
  586. >"I'll try to stay out of trouble," he replied, chortling.
  587. "Anon, I'm serious!" she exclaimed with a hoof stomp.
  588. >Her shimmering purple eyes attempted to pierce through Anon's opaque visor.
  589. "I can't remember where I came from, let alone my real name. I don't know anything about this place, I'm injured..."
  590. >She wiped her eyes with her good wing, then leapt to wrap her forelegs around Anon's torso. His rifle, magazines, and armor dug into her flesh, but she squeezed him tightly in spite of them.
  591. "Please... you're all I have," she whispered into his neck.
  592. >Anon froze.
  593. >Condense held onto him with surprising strength and didn't relent until he returned her embrace.
  594. >His fingers lifted her chin, and for a moment, Condense thought she could see his brilliant eyes shining through his helmet visor.
  595. >"I'll be back before you know it. And when I do, I'll move the boxes out of the guest room and get you settled. Make this place feel like a proper home for you."
  596. >He backed away and waved.
  597. >"Okay, honey?" he called through his helmet; sarcasm detectable in his distorted voice.
  598. >Condense gave an exaggerated smile and blew a kiss in response.
  599. "Mwah! Don't keep me wait-iiing, Mister!" she sang.
  600. >"Yes, ma'am!"
  601. >Condense stifled a giggle, then returned indoors. She recalled Anon's instructions from her tour of the house that morning, and pressed an orange button near the door frame.
  602. >A glass screen above the button flashed to life, displaying the words, "HOUSE LOCKDOWN PROTOCOL: PATROL".
  603. "Now we wait."
  604. >She trotted to the couch and plopped down with a sigh.
  605. >For a while, she laid there in silence with her muzzle scrunched in concentration as she tried to recall anything before the previous night.
  606. >Condense knew there were five different types of ponies, and that she was an Alicorn, the most rare of them all.
  607. >Magic.
  608. "MAGIC!" She shouted, jumping to her hooves. "I can do magic!"
  609. >A faint chiming sound filled the air as she lit her horn. Condense focused on the blanket that lay draped over the back of the couch. With some effort, she was able to envelop it in a sky-blue aura, which flickered as it pulled the blanket up.
  610. >The blanket traveled halfway to Condense before her spell gave out. It dropped onto the floor.
  611. >Condense frowned. Telekinesis was the most basic form of magic!
  612. >Over the course of the next hour, Condense groaned, grunted, and snorted as she struggled to remember the basics of her magic.
  613. >By the time she was able to consistently pick up the blanket and tie it around her like a cloak, she was exhausted.
  614. >She flopped back onto the couch and curled up in a ball, warm and cozy in her impromptu clothing.
  615. "Foal steps," she muttered between yawns. "Foal steps..."
  616. >When Anonymous returned to the house, Condense was sawing logs.
  617. >Anon struggled to contain his laughter as he looked at the adorable equine. Her mouth hung open and her legs were splayed out, hanging halfway over the edge of the couch.
  618. >Even more amusing was the fact that she had tied a blanket around her neck like a cape.
  619. >'How did you do that?' he wondered.
  620. >The man tiptoed up the stairs to his room. He took great care to remove his armor and stow his gear as quietly as possible, and then crept into the master bathroom.
  621. >After a quick shower, Anon was dressed in a plain t-shirt and running shorts. He peeked out of bedroom door and saw that Condense hadn't moved.
  622. >'Damn, girl, they're gonna hear you in Cheyenne,' he thought while grinning at the snoring mare.
  623. >Tiptoeing to his study, Anon booted up his computer and mouthed a silent prayer as he tried to access the net.
  624. >Even though telecommunication networks had been operating and maintaining themselves autonomously for a century prior to the Convergence, reliability had been spotty at best since the cataclysmic event.
  625. >"Yessss!" he hissed as he pumped his fist.
  626. >Anonymous frantically searched the terms "robotic companions", "synthetic partners", and every variant of "android/synthetic pony" he could think of.
  627. >He went down a rabbit hole of search results, ultimately discovering a children's web show episode from twenty years ago.
  628. >"My Petite Pony, My Petite Pony..." a cheerful woman's voice sang through his speakers.
  629. >"Come a-long, it's time to play..."
  630. >Scenes of castles and villages surrounded by pristine wilderness flashed across the screen.
  631. >"My Petite Pony, you're special to me..."
  632. >"Friendship, Love, Magic!"
  633. >A trio of ponies appeared after the words "Friendship", "Love", and "Magic", respectively.
  634. >The first pony was the largest. It was white, sported wings, and had a pink mane and tail.
  635. >Next came a green unicorn a yellow mane and tail.
  636. >But the third... the third pony made Anon's heart skip a beat.
  637. >This final pony had wings and a horn. Her coat was purple, and her mane and tail were a mix of yellow, pink, and white.
  638. >She even had a blue heart on each ass cheek.
  639. >Though the colors were wrong, Anon knew who he was looking at. There was no mistaking that smile.
  640. >Condense.
  641. >He sat there slack-jawed as the episode played to completion. When the credits rolled, he finally voiced his thoughts.
  642. >"Holy shit."
  643.  
  644. ...
bootleg Anon Condense Cadence Adventure Romance robot android dark

Legacy (Anon x Luna)

by ReggieSomething

Phonefag Shitposts

by ReggieSomething

/moon/day OP template

by ReggieSomething

Anon x Adult Flurry Heart and Cadence (clop)

by ReggieSomething

Condense (/bootleg/ WIP)

by ReggieSomething