Chapter 67 – The Courage of a Golden Heart

"We need to destroy that thing!" the Angel said as Twilight continued to protect the injured Blade. She found just enough time to return fire with one of her magical beams, "But Fluttershy's still in that thing." she argued. "Why is one friend so much more important than the others?" the Angel asked as Twilight again put up a barrier, "We should sacrifice the one to save the many."

"NO, I will save all of my friends, you just watch me!" Twilight shouted. "She could already be dead for all we know." the Angel reasoned. "But there's still a chance that she's alive, and I'm betting on that chance." Twilight countered. The Angel again went silent, surprised and amazed at Twilight's faith in her friends.

Fluttershy flew around quietly as she observed the green core, a large sphere made from several hexagonal panes of what looked like glass no bigger than her hoof. The sphere itself was almost the same size she was and a glowing red light on each of the cables rushed in and slammed against it before retreating and allowing another to attack. Each time one of them hit harder than the rest, the core let out a pained screech. "I have to do something." she told herself, and flapped her wings harder to rise up and look closely at the core. She could almost see the pain and suffering that resided in the mechanical core she looked at, and a surge of electricity wrapped around it every time one of the red lights slammed into it. "You poor thing." she said as she tried gently petting it with her hoof. "Um…excuse me…" she heard, and squeaked in fright before flying off to hide. Slowly she peeked out of her hiding place, a group of cables that ran straight up. "I…I'm sorry." the voice said again, it now sounded almost as if it was about to cry, "I didn't mean to scare you, I'll just be quiet from now on."

"Oh, no!" Fluttershy said quickly, "I just didn't expect anypony to be in here with me."

"I'm here." the voice whispered. Fluttershy looked around to find the source of the voice, instead she found nothing, "I'm sorry," she said, "but where are you?"

"It's me." the voice said, "The Valkyrie." Fluttershy looked surprised for a moment, and quickly remembered how the others had been talking about their NanoPacks talking. The scream of the core broke her out of her surprise, and she looked back up to the machine, "Maybe my Ion Deflector can help." the Valkyrie said. Fluttershy gulped at how many of the red lights were slamming themselves into the core. She furrowed her eyes and frowned before flying up to the cables. "You should all be ashamed of yourselves!" she said angrily. Each of the red lights stopped in their tracks, and almost seemed to look in Fluttershy's direction, "What did this poor computer do to you?" she asked, "Attacking the poor dear, why what would your mothers think?"

Each of the lights stayed still a moment, then shuddered before striking the core all at once. Fluttershy let worry consume her as the core screamed louder than she'd ever heard before and watched as all of the lights backed off, before attacking one at a time again. Without thinking, she flew towards the core and tried to wrap her hooves around it. One of them slammed into the core again, sending a shock through Fluttershy that almost knocked her off of the machine. The bottom part of her shield lit up dimly and the lights began to ricochet off of the barrier produced. They continued as Fluttershy held on tightly, each one smashing into the shield with a powerful force.

"This looks bad." the Valkyrie said in a panic, and the lights lined themselves up to slam into the shield all at once. The shock of power actually caused the shield to flicker once as they backed up. "One more hit like that and the shield will go down." her NanoPack said, and Fluttershy reached behind her. The lights all backed up again, this time at a much greater distance. Fluttershy made a split second move, quickly slipping her own Element of Kindness over her head and letting it merge with the Valkyrie's armor. Seconds later, the lights slammed into her shield again all at once, but instead of the barrier shattering, the surge backfired, traveling through the lights themselves. Several screams rang out through the space, and each of the lights seemed to just fade away. The screams stopped as soon as the last one disappeared.

On the outside, the Proto-Sentinel stopped swinging its massive fists and shooting its weapons. Everyone also stopped fighting, and watched as the machine grabbed onto its stomach in what looked to be pain. "What's going on?" Twilight asked and turned to her left. "Bubble says that it's got 'Core-Burn' or something." Pinkie said. "Pinkie, this is no time for jokes…" she scolded, and heard a strange metallic groan. They watched as the Proto-Sentinel placed its hands on the ground, heaving a few times, like it was trying to throw up, and the chest cavity opened up. Fluttershy fluttered down to the ground safely, and trotted back to her friends. "Fluttershy!" Twilight said happily and ran up to her. "Hi Twilight!" she greeted happily, and Twilight stopped as she got near. The Valkyrie now had a bright yellow sheen to it, and the butterfly shaped crystal of the Element of Kindness embedded in the chest. "It's not over yet!" they heard Breeze say and turned back towards the enormous robot. The three doors on its chest closed shut, and it looked up at them, "Identity Unknown. Nano-Weaponry Detected. Assuming Protocol 3." they all heard it announce. "But I just helped you…" Fluttershy tried to say. "It's no use." Breeze told her, "It's not an A.I. like our NanoPacks, it still has to follow a program."

"But…" Fluttershy tried to say. "We have no choice." Breeze said to her, "I'm sorry." They all ran in, attacking the machine all at once, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you." she heard the Valkyrie say. "You knew?" she asked. "Fluttershy!" she heard Blade grunt out, "You're alright." She turned her head and saw him just laying there on his side, his Standby NanoPack lying next to him on the ground, "Are you alright?" she asked in worry as shy approached him. "Eng!" he grunted, "Strained my legs to much, it hurts to move at all." The jewels on Fluttershy's helmet lit up to a soft blue, shining a light and what looked to be sparkling dust on him. He could feel his legs loosen and heal while the pain slowly faded away. Fluttershy flinched as she heard the scrap of metal and the battle cries of her friends, tears quickly beginning to fall from her eyes. Blade could only watch as she cried silently for the computer within the Proto-Sentinel, "I'm sorry." he said as he turned his gaze to the floor under him, his blue eyes shining with unshed tears. 'I can't seem to stop making her cry.' he thought to himself. The sounds stopped by the time he was fully healed. Fluttershy refused to turn around, the tears in her eyes flooding her vision, "It's not fair." she whispered. Blade lifted himself to his haunches, looking her in the face, "He's just doing his job." she said, and turned her shining eyes to him.

"Tch, that pile of junk won't be bothering anypony anymore." Rainbow Dash said as she hovered past them, "Eyup." Applejack said, "But it was a tough one." Fluttershy buried her face into Blade's chest, sad about the machine she just helped. Blade turned an angry glare to the two ponies, quieting them instantly as he wrapped is hooves around her comfortingly.

"I'm confused." The Angel asked as Twilight watched Fluttershy sob, "Why is it that she weeps for something that never lived?"

"I think she befriended it while she was inside the chest cavity." Twilight said, and turned to the pile of scrap metal next to her. "You can make friends with a machine?" the Angel asked. "As long as you're willing to be a friend yourself, you can be friends with just about anything as long as it wants to have friends." Twilight explained, and was surprised to see a soft green light blink slowly underneath the large pieces of metal. Without another thought, she began picking up the slabs of steel, revealing the soft light of the core. "FLUTTERSHY! COME HERE QUICK!" she called out, and continued to remove the metal. Fluttershy looked up, hope returning to her eyes and ran up to the pile of metal, trying to help Twilight remove the debris. Blade and the rest of the gang pitched it, until the entire core, minus all of the cables, was revealed. "Is that what I think it is?" Breeze asked. "It's Clorotalian tech. It's said that they use souls in their power cores. This stuff was supposed to be forbidden on the Genesis Ark." Blade said in amazement.

Fluttershy cautiously walked up to the core and placed her hoof on the surface, easily fitting it on one of the hexagonal panes. "We should set it free." the Valkyrie suggested. Fluttershy wanted to argue the point, but somehow, she just couldn't, it was almost like she agreed on the inside, so she pushed hard against the pain, eventually pushing it into the actual core. The light that surrounded her felt warm and friendly, but most of all she felt a kind feeling of something familiar. They all watched as the gentle light lifted to the ceiling and seemed to pass right through it. Blade again turned to the yellow Pegasus, the tears in her eyes now shined with the same happiness she showed on her face, "Fluttershy?" he asked, and she turned to him. "I'm ok." she said, and wiped away her tears with her knee, "They all just wanted to thank me for freeing them."