This fanfiction is a nonprofit work.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is property of Hasbro, co.
Bioshock is property of 2K Games.
Notes:This fanfiction takes place in an alternate future, where industry has evolved rapidly, and with it massive social and economic changes. There are bound to be mistakes that the author has overlooked. Please feel free to comment on anything that seems out of place or unreasonable. Thank you.
I must have blacked out. I heard vague screams, gunshots (?), explosions, and a computerized warning of "altitude…altitude…altitude". A large splash, then a cold blackness followed.
When I regained consciousness, I found myself suspended in a world without gravity, chilled to the bone. Weightless, I spun around, trying to get my bearings. The movement was odd, hampered by a liquid that surrounded me. I tried to breathe, but water entered my lungs instead, freezing my insides as it had the rest of my body. I was underwater! We had crashed into the Antlertic Ocean!
I flailed in panic, trying to find the direction air was in. I saw an orange light above me, shifting over the surface of the water. My insides froze again when I noticed the outlines of ponies made visible by the light: limp ponies, sinking downward. Dead ponies. I panicked again, my scream silenced by the ocean water. A muffled blast drew my attention to a flare of red and orange. One of the turbines exploded, sending a propeller into the water, nearly slicing me in two. I coughed, expelling a precious bubble of air. I had to get to the surface!
I thrashed my limbs out, attempting to force myself upwards towards the light, passing the darkened silhouettes of lifeless ponies. The emptiness in my lungs told me that I was going to slow, that I would drown. My vision darkened, my legs aching from exertion and the extreme cold of the water. My heartbeat was painfully audible as I drew closer to the light. I coughed again as my lungs begged for air.
I finally broke the surface, greedily gulping in air. I coughed up water before taking several large gasps of sweet oxygen. I looked around, seeing the flames of the downed aircraft give light to the surrounding emptiness. Something about the destruction of the engine or the spell it ran on must have caused the gems to react violently, turning into an ignitable liquid that spread over the water and allowed for the fire to rise up over the ocean's surface. The tail end of the plane pointed up out of the water, slowly declining as the sea claimed it as its victim.
A dull light swept over the scene for a brief second. I spun around, finding its source: a lighthouse. In the dying moonlight, the massive shadow of a tower came into focus before me. It loomed singularly over the ocean, flanked by what I guessed was artificial rock, as it was highly unlikely that it was a natural island. Its spinning light swept over me again, an orb of glorious whiteness.
I praised Celestia as I swam desperately for the tower. As I approached, I found a flight of stairs, lit very dimly by slowly dying lamps, flanking the sides of the stairs as they wrapped around the perimeter. I threw myself onto the stairs, still panting for breath, my dark brown coat matted down with cold ocean water. I brushed my blonde mane out of my eyes as I climbed the steps away from the unforgiving sea. I turned to watch the chaos behind me.
The flames were still burning, the wreckage of the plane almost completely submerged. I tried not to think about all the dead that were sunken below the icy waters, nameless. Just moments ago, they were alive and well, enjoying an uneventful flight from the mainland to Great Bitland. Maybe they were off to visit family, or were in similar situations as myself. Now…
I shuttered both from the cold and the morbid thoughts that plagued my mind. I felt sick. I decided to keep climbing the steps, praying to the Goddesses that there was help waiting for me inside the tower. This was mostly a means to distract myself from the carnage in the waters.
I came to the large, grime-ridden golden doors of the tower, the dim light of the lamps reflecting off of them drearily. They must have been here for years, unattended to. I took hold of the handle with my teeth and heaved them open, the screeching of metal protesting the action. I was only able to prop it open partway before my muscles gave out. It was pitch black inside, the artificial light dimly illuminating the marble floor beyond the threshold. Hesitantly, I stepped inside. It was cold in the tower, only slightly preferable over the ocean water. Before my eyes could adjust to the blackness, the door screamed shut behind me. Now it was darker than black.
I heard an indistinct hum, then a sharp clink made me jump. A flash of light accompanied the noise, blinding me. Several more clinks echoed off the tower walls, before everything went silent. My eyes finally regained their vision, and I squinted about. I recoiled from the sight before me. Wall mounted lanterns, giving off harsh, industrial-grade light, revealed a brass statue of a tall, oddly familiar stallion rearing up at me, face contorted in a defiant scowl. His long mane flowed stilly behind him, his thin face conveying a sense of power and superiority. I noted his cutie-mark: an image of a pony bearing a globe on his back, holding it up triumphantly as the pony stood proudly. It was badly weathered due to age and lack of maintenance.
A banner hung above him, boldly declaring: No Goddesses or Masters. Only Ponies.
I reigned in my fear, gazing upon the statue with a mix of awe and suspicion. My hooves clopped along the marble floor wetly as the water dripped off of my coat. I glanced briefly at a bronze tablet in from of the statue. It read: "In what place is there a home for ponies like me?"—Freemane Roades
Realization dawned on me as I realized who this was. Freemane Roades was an entrepreneur of sorts: a savvy business pony, gifted speaker, and idealist, Roades was one of the chief proponent for the industrial movement. He was practically the poster-pony for industry and business.
I read about him in the Fillydelphian Times once. He had spoken at some rally, speaking (or rather preaching) against the hierarchy of pony society, and how unicorns were placed so far above earth ponies undeservingly, using Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns as an example. To say the least, his ideas were radical.
His eyes seemed to watch me as I walked to the left of the statue. Creepy.
The stairs I approached did not go up, as the tower led me to believe. In fact, the room I was in didn't go up nearly as high as I had thought it would. The roof ended abruptly with a ceiling light shining down on the statue of Freemane. I headed down the stairs, and down another flight of stairs thereafter.
Another series of harsh clinks brought on light as I came upon the next room, just below the one I had come from. Whatever lighting system they installed here seemed to be connected to some kind of motion sensor. Music began to play, a soft string quartet ushering me in with an upbeat tune.
This section of the building was relatively bare and nondescript, with a low ceiling and a spherical tub in the center. Stairs flanked both ends of the room; I took the flight on the right. I stopped in front of the sphere, observing it. It looked sturdy enough, made out of aged grey metal. Spotlights were mounted on either side of the shut door. I felt uneasy around it. A small pedestal was erected near the sphere. In official block letters, it read: Bathysphere station. Please present foreleg for genetic identification.
'Genetic identification'? That sounded odd. Like something that somepony had heard from some science-fiction broadcast. I complied nevertheless, gently placing my right foreleg on the pedestal. "OW!" I yelped, more startled than wounded. A needle had shot out of the pedestal, pricking me and drawing blood. I rubbed the spot where it pricked me with my other hoof.
A moment and mechanical whir later, the door swung open, apparently linked with the pedestal. The inside appeared more comfortable, benches flanking each side of the tub. A control panel with a single lever stood at the far end of the sphere. I walked in cautiously. A transistor radio was hooked into the wall near the entrance. I rushed over to it, turning it on and rapidly scouring the channels for an open frequency, shouting for help into it. Static was my only response. It was no use; the range was far to short to reach land, and the hope of finding any vessel out here was next to nil.
I went over to the lever. Aside from the short-range radio, I hadn't seen anything that I could use to get back to the mainland, or at least call for help. I haven't even seen a single pony! I hoped that the 'bathysphere' acted as a sort of elevator that could bring me to the upper levels of the tower. Maybe there was something up there I could use. At the very least, I might have been able to scavenge for supplies and sit tight until some vessel came within range of the radio. Somepony had to come out here to attend to the lighthouse at some point, right?
I pulled the lever, and felt the tub shake as the door shut. The stone that surrounded it receded away, revealing a tube of ocean water. The bathysphere began to descend.
"Oh no! No, no no. Nononono!" I protested. "Other way! Go up!" The elevator ignored my commands, continuing its descent into the ocean. The spotlights snapped on, and I was able to see the glass tube that surrounded us, with marks that measured how deep I had gone.
10 fathoms. I shivered, my still soaked coat adding to the chill running down my spine.
15 fathoms. I shook my head, cursing my luck. "Damn this stupid thing to the moon!" Another statue of a pony bearing a large globe, mirroring Rodes' cutie-mark, rolled up and out of view as I sank. It was overrun with algae.
20 fathoms. A screen unrolled from the top of the door, blanketing my view of the outside (not that there was much to see). A projector flickered on behind me, and an image of a young stallion firing lightning from his hooves at a hooded pony, presumable a burglar, flashed on the screen. The words "Stun those ruffians with a shocking show of force! Get Electro Bolt today!" decorated the image, denoted by small print: Rearing Industries
This image was replaced with a picture of Freemane Roades smiling at me, a cigarette in his mouth, frozen in time.
"Greetings, traveler," a voice spoke, his voice I presumed. It sounded, to put it frankly, professional, a voice trained in speaking to the masses after years of education and practice. "Today, you enter not a city, but a vision. My vision. A vision you may share. Or perhaps you do not. If such is the case, than let me explain to you the basis of my vision in the form of a single question."
The image cycled, a stallion, weathered by hard work and sun replacing Rodes' face. The stallion was sweating profusely, at work farming the land in front of a rural farmhouse. "Who is the beneficiary to a pony's labor?" He paused to allow the viewer to think on this.
It cycled again, the stallion bowing before a unicorn noblepony. The stallion appeared obviously overworked and downtrodden while the noblepony stood tall before him, holding a bag of coins in his mouth. " 'Society' says the noble, as ponykind heads blindly into civil and ideological conflict."
Another cycle, this time showing the stallion being approached by a royal guard, tall and opposing. The stallion stood passively by, not showing any sign of resistance as armed soldiers entered his barn, some already leaving with bags of food. " 'The soldiers', says the military, as ponies stand at a near cease-fire with the zebras under the flawed leadership of the Princesses and their biased advisors."
I had to agree with him on that point. The Elements of Harmony, now personal advisors to the Royal Princesses in conjunction with their normal duties, constantly fought against the war, ordering the soldiers to withdraw to hardly defensible lines, usually after being forced to take the offensive against the zebras in order to stay alive. It was a stalemate, the zebras always able to push our lines, and the ponies never being able to push back for long.
A final cycle, this time showing a horde of zebras, menacing and barbaric as they always appeared in the propaganda, raiding the stallion's barn as they restrained him. " 'Everyone,' says the zebras as they work themselves to the bone for grains of wheat."
The zebra's system was sheer madness. While the idea of 'too all a fair share' was good in theory, forcing anyone, zebra or pony, to sacrifice their possessions for the collective was tyrannical! I supposed that this is what Rodes' described as ponykind's "ideological conflict".
By now, my ears were popping due to the pressure change; I was feeling more and more nervous, yet curious at the same time. Freemane's smiling face appeared once again. "I rejected these answers, these social norms," he said. "Society in Equestria is collapsing in on itself. So I chose to separate us from the corrupting influences of the world. I chose the impossible." The screen rolled up, and I saw the shifting blackness through the glass. It was a seabed, noting spots of seaweed and sea anemones.
The seabed rolled away and I saw a city! A metropolis under the sea! Schools of fish swam away hurriedly as the tub drifted automatically towards the expansive buildings. Between the various structures were glass walkways that connected them. Neon-signs hung on the sides of buildings, as they would on the surface. Towering skyscrapers loomed in the center, reaching upwards towards the sky that was nowhere in sight. A squid zoomed by, tentacles trailing behind it.
As we passed underneath a walkway, I could barely make out a bulking figure doing repairs, sparks flying from a wielding torch fitted on his suit. I couldn't see his face. A whale (!) swam down between the buildings, a gargantuan bus in the city's streets (in my breathless state, I imagined that there were actually ponies inside the whale, casually traveling about the city).
The bathysphere swerved to the right, and I heard the transistor radio spark to life. At first static, then "…bloody hell, sum kind of plane crash up there!" I rushed over to it to radio to listen in. Another voice spoke. "What, right above us? How the hell…? What happened?"
"We crashed!" I yelled obviously into it.
"Dunno," the other said. "But it looks like you've got a bathysphere headin' yer way. Better get over there." It was no use. Either the radio was malfunctioning or some idiot purposely designed it so that it could only receive incoming messages. The former seemed more likely.
"Are you joking? The port is crawling with Splicers!" The other voice sounded genuinely scared, which made me even more nervous as my 'bathysphere' floated over to a set of rails built into the side of a large structure: a docking station. "They'll be all over the damn place!"
"So you plan t' leave sum poor soul to their mercy?" The first voice retorted.
There was silence on the radio as my sphere made contact with the rails, and I began to get bumped around as I was guided into port. "Look, if yer quick, you can meet up with whoever is in there and the two of you can get outta there before any Splicers show up. I'll see if I can hack into security and send ya some help."
"Fine," the other relented.
I fell to my haunches as I came to a sudden stop in another tube. I noticed various other 'plasmid' advertisements, but couldn't read them all before I ascended into whatever awaited me: either safety or a whole new circle of hell.
The pressure seemed to grow less extreme as I ascended into port. Slowly, I broke the surface of water, only to be greeted with more darkness. "Get a move on, Barry! I heard over the radio. "Security's goin' crazy!" A light fixture flickered briefly, and I could make out the figure of a pony. "Just a sec," came the reply. "The sphere's comin' up right now." I breathed a sigh of relief. The figure was a friendly. Finally, some good news.
The lights flickered again as another figure, menacing and dark, dropped down behind the other pony. The pony whirled around, cursed, and leveled a firearm with his telekinesis (he was a unicorn, apparently) at the figure, opening fire. He shot twice. The creature deftly avoided the first shot and closed between the two of them before Barry could fire the second. The lights flickered once again in time for me to see the creature—a horribly disfigured pony with four jagged hooks braced around each of its gnarled hooves—thrust the hooks into Barry's stomach. The second shot was thrown off course.
I stared wide-eyed, mouth agape. I fought the urge to vomit. The sound of liquid spilling out of Barry's wounds reached my ears. The groan I heard was weak, yet full of pain and incomprehension. Barry coughed once, his final breath. The ugly pony dislodged both of his hooves with a wide sweep, splattering blood and tearing chucks of Barry's flesh. The dark liquid sprayed across the glass of the bathysphere. I ejected the contents of my stomach.
The other pony, a 'Splicer' I realized, stood over the dead body of Barry. It looked up at me. The lights flickered again, and I could make out a sadistic grin on its disfigured, bandaged face, its one good eye (its left one) gleamed madly. Its hooks shone red with blood, both fresh and dried.
"Oh, look…somepony new…come and say hello…" it spoke in the darkness, voice haggled and as lost as its mind. I fell backwards, unable to speak. It shrieked at me, a terrible shrill noise like claws on a blackboard.
It leapt up onto the sphere and I head its hooks/ hooves scurry over the metal surface. There was a pause, then I heard the screech of metal tearing at metal. I cowered away from the sound.
Sparks of magical energy exploded all around as the splicer pierced the hull of the sphere. I shielded my eyes from the hot shower, and through the gaping hole I saw the mauled face of the monster, glaring at me. It shrieked again, reaching its hook through the hole in a wild attempt to attack me.
A high, wailing sound overpowered the wild ponies' cry. WEE-OOO-WEE-OOO! It heard the siren, and snapped it attention in another direction. BRRATTATATATA! A barrage of high-velocity metal unleashed itself on the demon. The splicer's forearm and leg were punctured, but it somehow managed to leap from the sphere to the ground. It limped with surprising speed, but couldn't out run bullets. Another hail of lead-death left the splicer in a pool of its own blood. I caught a glimpse of a metal orb before it flew out of sight, back to where it originated from, the whirring sound like pistons following it and eventually dying out.
Firearms were relatively new to Equestria, developed in face of growing tension on the zebra front; I had never actually seen one, let alone witnessed its death-dealing power! But I had an idea of how they worked. I was terrified. The monster deserved what it got, to be sure, but the sheer speed and effectiveness the new weaponry delivered was simply unreal!
It was earth pony engineering at its finest…and at its worst. With the growing conflict between ponies and zebras, 'less diplomatic' solutions were considered by those on the front lines. Weapons were designed and forged: not to stun or hamper a target, but to finish them quickly, and usually loudly. It was a simple premise. Take a small object, fill it with something that ignited, and set it off with a spark, turning it into a fast, accurate projectile— an indiscriminant killer.
Unicorns assisted with this venture. They developed the igniting agent, dubbing it 'gun-powder', and tested its capabilities. Earth ponies developed the 'guns'. Over a relatively short period of time, unicorns perfected the design to make them compact and easy to fire (for those with telekinesis). Earth ponies added to their own design, building large turrets and portable cannons that could be fitted to their saddles.
Tensions were high between unicorns and earth ponies during this time. Rodes' ideals only reflected a sentiment many ponies shared. In effect, civil war was brewing along with a coming battle with zebras.
The door swung open at length. I refused to budge, nausea rising in my throat and fear discombobulating my perception. I heard static over my thumping heart.
"…Barry? BARRY! Aw hell…is anypony there? Can ya hear me?"
I rose to my feet, ignoring the rising sickness in my gut. I tried not to look at Barry, but my eyes betrayed me. I gagged, but managed to avoid vomiting at the sight of the dark blue unicorn lying in a pool of red. Dirt and grime clung to his green mane so completely that it seemed to be a natural part of his hair. His cutie-mark was of a cart of coal. I doubted that coal was the source for the spots of brown and red that spotted his coat.
"If there is a survivor up there, would you kindly pick up the radio?"
I snapped my attention to the radio that rested in front of Barry, blood flowing around it. A cord looped around the radio, allowing it to be hung from one's neck. I stopped low, pressing my hoof to a button. "H-hello? I'm here. But your friend…wasn't so lucky".
I heard a sigh. "Damn. He was a fine pony. Well, at least you're still breathing. You a survivor from that crazy plane wreck up top?"
"Y-yeah. The only one." As an after thought: "What is this place?"
"Hell," the voice grumbled. "No time to talk. I managed ta keep the Splicers busy with the security drones, but more'll be comin', sure enough. Ya gotta keep movin', lad."
I nodded, gently picking up the cord around the radio from the pool of blood and getting it around my neck. "Where to?"
"Go up the stairs to the left," the voice guided. "The lobby should be just down the hall."
I glanced at Barry's gun, knowing full well that I would be unable to operate without telekinesis. "What was Barry's last name?" I asked as I moved over to the body of the Splicer.
"Why?" the voice asked, finding the question odd.
I shrugged. "Figure I should at least know his name."
I studied the limp form of the Splicer. It used to be a male, I guessed, but it was hard to imagine that such a creature could have a gender, much less an identity. Still, his ugliness demanded observation: his face was deformed with various tumors, a filthy bandage covering half his head. The body was dressed in rags, torn from age and continual use. The hooks on his four hooves were fastened around his ankle with rusted iron braces, resembling cruel slave chains almost.
"Pit," the voice finally answered over the radio.
"Barry Pit?" I echoed thoughtfully. A belt ran around the Splicers waist, and I hesitated to loot the dead body of the creature, but curiosity and necessity got the upper hand and I liberated two gold bits from Splicer; there was nothing else on him.
"And what do I call you?" I asked as I scaled the steps at a brisk pace.
"Just call me Atlas," he said. I thought back to the statue of the pony carrying the globe on its back and made a faint mental connection, though I didn't express as much. If he wanted to be mysterious, it was his right. "You got a name, surfacer?"
"Buck. Buck Flowerfields," I answered.
I heard Atlas chuckle. "Hope ya gave yer parents hell for that one," he replied.
I came upon another body, this one a repair pony that didn't seem to be suffering from the same deformity as the Splicers. He was covered with many deep cuts, dried blood streaking down his tan hide and ending in a wide dry stream across the floor. I glanced at the nut-and-bolt cutie-mark on his flank before taking note of the downed metal contraption just beyond him. It was small, a pair of metal wings furled around its spherical body, topped with a pair of antennae. A smaller pair of similar wings was placed below it. Butterfly wings, I realized, or at least mechanical representations of butterfly wings. The pony must have been at work repairing the drone when he was attacked. A wrench lay next to the drone.
I had just picked up the wrench with my teeth when Atlas buzzed in. "I'd try to get that security drone operational if I were you," he suggested. "More Splicers will be on top of ya before long."
"Hou uo ey uo tat?" I garbled through the wrench. There was silence on the other end, but Atlas seemed to piece it together. "Uh…there should be a control panel on the back of it. Pull that off and rewire the spell matrix to re-configure the I.F.F. system and reboot it."
Right. Simple enough. I rolled my eyes, but complied, using the wrench to undo the screws bolting down the panel. Removing said panel revealed a complex of tubes, pistons and other steam powered machinery. Atlas talked me through the relatively straightforward process ("The security system is shite," he had told me, and I had to agree). A flip of a switch in the bottom left corner shut off the water flow. After that, it was a simple matter of redirecting the pipes to get the water where I wanted it to go.
A vague understanding of the workings of the drone dawned on me once I was finished. Water flowed through the tubes, super-heated by the spell matrix inside that turned the water into steam that powered the working apparatus. Once the steam had done its work, another spell recycled in back into water. And so it cycled continually, allowing for a crude but working Identify Friend Foe mechanism and flight, as well as targeting and weapon systems.
Something in my subconscious recognized these series of tubes and junctions, as if I had glimpsed the blueprints before in some alien memory. It all seemed familiar, but I knew I had never laid eyes upon such a machine. I allowed Atlas's voice to guide me, however, not taking the risk of listening to my tired, stressed psyche.
The drone sputtered, then jumped to life, metal eyelids rolling down to reveal green insectoid orbs that scanned the area. The wings unfurled and buzzed as it hovered into the air, creating a constant hydraulic hum. It would have looked adorable if it weren't put together with rusted scrap metal like patchwork.
The metal sprite suddenly began to emit a high wail, its eyes flaring a bright red as it glared behind me. WEE-OOO-WEE-OOO! The small slit that I assumed was a decorative mouth slide open and a small multi-barreled protrusion jutted out from it. BRATTATATATA!
I dove to the side as the drone opened fire, the rapid volley of sound echoing in my skull. I feared I had made a mistake, and that the drone had malfunctioned. I cursed profusely, thinking that I was going to be its next target.
The firing ceased as quickly as it had begun, the siren silenced. I picked my head up, cracking an eye to see the drone hovering above me, watching me expectantly like a wrought iron pet. I glanced over to the fresh corpse nearby, riddled with bullets. The robot had saved my life!
"Um…thanks?" I ventured? The bot bleeped in response.
I searched the body of the repair-pony, finding a wallet (his name was Sparky Cogsworth) with 20 bits inside. I decided to take his dark red saddlebag as a replacement to the one I lost in the crash. It was dirty and stained red in places, but I knew it would come in handy.
I also repurposed his wrench sash as my own, slinging it around my neck so that the wrench could be sheathed across my chest. Feeling as prepared as I possible could, I walked on through the dark hall, flanked on both sides by dim, flickering screens. On them were supposedly departure and arrival times for bathyspheres. They all read: Canceled.
The lobby was once grand, I assumed, but years of disservice and violence had torn at it and rendered it ugly and damaged. Water damage was evident along the ceiling, and furniture was overturned and dismantled. Garbage cans seemed to have been rifled through, contents littered along the ground. On the opposite end, an archway hung, carved with the words: Welcome to Rapture. A revolving door stood underneath, leading into a glass walkway. Various ads for plasmids and lesser products hung about the walls, mostly torn and defiled. A mezzanine hung over my head, water droplets falling from its underside.
I walked further in, regarding the interior with a mixture of awe and distaste. I heard two thuds behind me, and spun in time to see two pipe-wielding Splicers, both sporting the creepiest bunny-masks I have ever seen, rushing at me with inhumane cries. The sprite-bot at my side wailed, unleashing its mechanical fury on one of them. I grabbed my wrench just in time to block a pipe-swing. The Splicer glared insanely at me and knocked me to the ground with a strong kick to my gut.
Winded, I looked up with bleary eyes as he began to swing his pipe down onto my head—before my trusty drone interrupted him with automatic justice. I uneasily regained my footing, regarding the Splicers with a pang of guilt, before an arc of purple lightning struck my drone, causing it to fizzle and ultimately short out with a loud pop. Another Splicer had appeared at the foot of the stairs that lead up to the mezzanine.
I threw myself to the ground behind a column as another bolt shot out, and I smelled the burning ozone. I leaned against the column, peering around the corner to get a better look at the Splicer. It (she?) was an earth pony, but its fore hoof pulsed and crackled with energy. A wicked smile formed in my direction. "Why are you hiding!" A shrill, disgustingly feminine voice called out. "Why won't you LOOK AT MEEEE!?"
I screamed as she fired another bolt from the sparking hoof. Sweet Celestia, she was able to shoot lightning from her hoof! The advertisement from the bathysphere tour suddenly made sense, and my face fell. This was going to be very difficult.
I panted and back away from the edge, trying to formulate a plan of attack. That became moot when the horribly disfigured face of the Splicer gaped at me from around the corner with another screech. I yelped and dove again, barely dodging another electro-bolt. As she reared up for another shot, I brought up my hind legs and bucked her hard in the chest. With a surprised 'oof', she collapsed to the floor, stunned.
I wasn't thinking, adrenaline pumping through my veins harder than ever before. I grabbed my wrench, jumped onto her ragged yellow coat, and swung it down on her skull hard. With a metallic 'crack', her body went limp. I knew her head had split open. I swung one more time, a sick, wet thump echoed throughout the lobby. Blood sprayed across my front with the cast off.
I stepped back, unable to look away from my work. Her face was crushed inward, the indent from my blunt weapon further adding to her disfigured image. Red flowed out, the same liquid trickling down my wrench and onto the floor with barely audible plops. I felt bile rise up in my throat, and I rushed over to a trashcan to release it.
"Never killed before, eh?" Atlas asked over the radio. I wanted to yell at him, to scream at him for putting me in this position. But it wasn't his fault; it was all a series of unfortunate events. Besides, I justified, I wasn't committing murder or any such evil. It was self-defense, pure and simple. They attacked; I fought back.
Still, so much blood…
"No," I panted, spitting out the taste of bile into the can. To change subjects: "How do you know what I'm seeing anyway?"
"Cameras," he said plainly. "I'm watching the security feed all across Rapture. If anypony sneezes in Rapture, I'll see it…most likely." I looked around and saw one of these cameras, bulky and far out of reach, in a far corner, lazily scanning the lobby.
"So…what you're saying is that I'm out here in the crossfire while you're safe somewhere watching me kill other ponies?" Anger was rising within me.
" 'Ey, somepony has to keep an eye on things," he replied casually. "Besides, way I remember it, I was helping you get to safety."
I sighed reluctantly. Luna damn it.
"And I'd hardly call Splicers 'ponies'," he continued. "They stopped bein' ponies when they started killin' and lootin' for the hell of it, splicin' themselves up for kicks. Yer doing Equestria a favor by puttin' them outta their misery."
"Splicing?" I repeated. I felt mildly for at ease with what I had done with his description, but I still had no idea what had happened to these ponies to turn them into monsters.
"Yeah, terrible business really," Atlas said. "Actually, you're about to find out first hand what it's like. Would you kindly head up stairs? There's something you need to see."
I didn't like the sound of it, but I obeyed. I didn't have much of a choice really; he was the one with the eyes.
Against the wall at the top of the mezzanine was a broken down vending machine, the neon lighting flickering erratically, illuminating the mauled statue of a young filly, not even old enough to have a cutie mark. She joyfully presented a gaping hole in the box that mangled a sentence the filly had once promoted. What was left was:
An empty hypodermic needle had fallen to the ground before the vending machine, and upon closer investigation, I found that it read: Plasmid 17b—'Electro-Bolt'.
"It's a good thing ya got here when ya did," Atlas said. "The Splicers woulda used up all the plasmids if ya hadn't. Damned junkies are addicted to 'em. Now, look around and see if you can find one."
"You want me to inject myself with one of these things?" I asked dubiously. "Wouldn't that turn me into a Splicer?"
"It don't work like that," Atlas reassured. "Plasmids introduce self-replicating stands of DNA that work into yer genetic code and let you do things you wouldn't normally be able to do. Splicers have used dozens of plasmids, one right after another. A pony's DNA don't take too kindly to bein' rewritten like a drunk playwright's manuscript."
I found a hypodermic needle in the vending machine, unused. I reached my head in and took hold of it. It had a small brace to steady one's hooves as they injected the needle. "Is this really necessary?" I asked, eyeing the point apprehensively.
Atlas sighed. "Look, ya gonna run into a helluva lot more Splicers down here. If you want to survive, ya gonna have ta splice up. Now, would you kindly get on with it?"
I nodded. Steadying the needle (Plasmid 23e—'Telekinesis'), I placed it along the black chain-link tattoo on my left forehoof (I had it done in my 'more youthful' years and had a matching set on the other hoof), a mirror of my cutie mark: a black strand of chain-links. It was rather unique; most metal workers ended up sharing almost identical marks of hammers or smelting furnaces. I took a deep breath and plunged it into my leg. I hissed.
But the sting I felt then couldn't even begin to compare to the pain that flooded my being. My blood turned to lava, and the skin where I had injected myself crawled and rebelled against the rest of my body. Soon, my insides had joined the rebellion and were trying to force their way out of my body. My stomach flipped and I chocked on vomit while I screamed. I lurched about, trying to stay afloat in a sea of nausea and pain. I was only half-aware that objects were flying away from my vicinity by some invisible force.
I had staggered over to the hoof rail and leaned against it to steady myself as the rest of my body convulsed in agony. I gritted my teeth, hot tears stinging my eyes as I clenched them shut. I prayed for the pain to subside. I heard the snapping of wood over my strained screams. Gravity had left me. I madly believed that my body had ejected my mind from it, and hoped that if that were the case, the pain would soon leave me.
I struck a hard surface instead. On the bright side, the pain was gone, replaced instead by a fever dream.
The dream replayed the events of the past few hours with a dull sort of quality, like a grey film was placed over my memory. I saw the smiling stewardess, the burning plane, the first glimpse of Rapture, Barry's dead body, and the Splicer-mare's screaming face. I heard a cacophony for sound and voices: shouts, explosions, words of insult and praise, whispers in the darkness. Then the sounds and images seemed to harmonize into one: an image of Freemane Rodes rearing before me, a look of triumphant rebellion boring into my mind. His voice reverberated in my ears proudly:
I have to admit, I really enjoyed writing the descent into Rapture. Again, feel free to comment about whatever I'm doing right...or totally wrong. Cheers!