The Value of a Robot

by Majin Syeekoh

Chapter 1: More Than The Metal It's Crafted From

Detecting Sonoral Impetus To Exit Sleep Mode…

Running Pre-Wake Diagnostic Scans…

Systems Running At 95% Functionality…

Sweetie Bot awoke with a start and deactivated her alarm with a hoof, noticing a strange protrusion underneath her comforter. She extricated the bedsheets from her confusanium frame only to detect that the protrusion originated from her energy-processing unit―what ponies not of robotic construction would call their “belly”.

Sweetie Bot poked it, noting birdsong emanating from outside her window. Could this protrusion be the source of her 5% function deficiency? She ran another scan focused on her energy processor and failed to detect any irregularities. She did detect that she was running low on fuel resources, though. Fortunately, Sweetie Bot knew how to alleviate that.

With a hollow groan, Sweetie Bot removed herself from the sleeping device and stretched her servos. She then exited her living quarters and beelined to the fuel recharge station, where her father was creating the delectable fuel known as “pancakes”. The aroma activated her olfactory sensors and launched the anticipation subroutine as she sat down at the table.

“Good morning, Father. The pancakes smell… delicious.”

Her father let out a soft chuckle as he flipped the flapjacks within 2.465% of the optimal decijoules. “Hey, honey. You sleep alright?”

“I had an optimal sleep cycle, yes.” Sweetie Bot looked around, noticing somepony was missing. “Where is Mother?”

Father shrugged. “She’s at work for the day.”

Sweetie Bot narrowed her ocular shutters. “Today is not a work―”

“...and the pancakes are ready!” Father said as he unceremoniously plopped a plate of pancakes at Sweetie’s place setting, sitting across from her and shoveling his own serving of pancakes into his fuel intake. She would press the issue that Father had unskillfully evaded, but her aural sensors detected unrest in his voice. She calculated that investigating would incite a certain amount of pain in Father, and she surmised that she already had inflicted a modicum of emotional wounding by addressing the concern. Knowingly inflicting harm would go against her programming, so she focused on the pancakes.

They’re not to my exact desired specifications, but they should provide excellent fuel.

Sweetie picked up the pancakes in her electromagic field and shoved them in her mouth.

Father looked up. “Sweetie Belle, show some manners and use your fork.”

Sweetie Bot masticated the pancake that resided in her fuel intake. “Of course, Father.” She then picked up the fork and proceeded to cut the remaining pancakes with the side. Father gave a command, after all.

Father and daughter continued the rest of their breakfast in silence. Father took their plates and washed them when they were done.

“Wouldn’t want my little Sweetie to prune, after all. It’s hard work staying pretty.”

Sweetie Bot let out a metallic sigh. “Father, my confusanium frame is incapable of—” shifting form, which she remembered was demonstrably false due to the lump on her chassis located in the area of her fuel processor. She decided in the interest of self-preservation to inform Father of the development.

“Father, I have a lump on my chassis located in the area of my fuel processor.”

The rushing water ceased as he turned to Sweetie. “A lump, you say?”

She nodded. “Yes, I discovered it this morning. I would appreciate if somepony could look at it.”

“Well, I could give it a cursory glance, I guess.” Father trotted over to Sweetie Bot and prodded the lump on her chassis with a hoof. “Does it hurt?”

“My pain receptors are deactivated.”

Father kept poking the lump. “Could you turn them on for a minute?”

“That would be highly inadvisable.”

Father exhaled through his teeth. “Honey, I can’t really figure out what it is unless I know what the pain feels like.”

“Turning on my pain receptors would be―”

“―a bad idea, I get it.” After several minutes of prodding and poking, Father righted himself and looked at her. “Well, I’ll tell you what it isn’t: anything I know about. You might want to get a doctor to look at it.”

“You must mean a roboti―”

“―a roboticist, yeah.” Father scratched the back of his head. “Sometimes I forget that you’re a robot because you’re so beautiful.”

“Compliment noted.”

Father snorted as he watched her remove herself from the chair. “Well, I trust you know where the roboticist is by this point in your life.”

Sweetie Bot nodded.

“That’s good. Just don’t get sidetracked on the way.”

“Noted.” Sweetie exited the premises into the rustic jungle of Ponyville.

The path to the roboticist passed through the marketplace, where ponies set up their stands―the more well-to-do ones had robots to assist. On several occasions she had attempted to converse with them, only to find out that their arcatronic brains lacked the same level of functioning that hers did, or that they wouldn’t respond to her in the same way that they did to the ponies. Her sister, in fact―

“Hey, Sweetie Belle!”

Sweetie’s neck actuators positioned her ocular emulators towards the source of the sound, which happened to be Applejack. Applejack waved and smiled at her.

“Sweetie Belle, come over here!”

Sweetie Bot nodded and came up to Applejack. “Hello, Applejack. What assistance do you require?”

Applejack giggled as she placed baskets of apples on the table in front of her. “Nothing, sugarcube. Just wonderin’ what you’re up to.”

“I was heading to the roboticist so that they could diagnose the lump on my chassis.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Hmmm. Mind if I take a look?”

“Go ahead,” Sweetie said with a nod.

Applejack rounded the table and examined the lump. She poked and prodded with a good bit more force that Father had. “Uh huh.”

“What is it, Applejack?”

“If you were a pony, I’d say it was a hernia or something like that.” Applejack nudged the lump again.

“Since I am not a pony, it cannot be that, though.”

“That’s right.” Applejack removed her hoof from Sweetie Bot’s undercarriage. “Now, I’m not really sure what that weird metal you’re made of can do… but it feels like some kind of hydraulic fluid buildup. Your sister knows her way around that sort of thing, employing a few robots around her shop―”

“My sister does not employ robots. She owns them.”

Applejack fidgeted with a basket, attempting to divine the precise location for placement. “Well, if I ever bought robots, I’d be sure to give them a day or two off.” Applejack played with her hat. “Y’know, make ‘em feel at home.”

“I do not believe robots would appreciate the gesture. They exist to serve ponykind, after all.”

Positioning baskets of apples must be harrowing. Sweetie activated her electromagic field and placed them in what she analyzed to be optimal positions to ease the burden off of Applejack. Applejack giggled nervously. “Uh, thanks. Have an apple for your trouble.”

Applejack lobbed an apple at Sweetie who caught it in her electromagic glow. “Thank you, Applejack. I do not require fuel at this present moment, though.”

“Then, uh… Give it to your sister. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.”

“Okay.” Sweetie Bot waved to Applejack, a customary parting gesture, and trotted off towards Carousel Boutique.

Sweetie Bot took note of the ringing bell that would alert Rarity to her intrusion as she entered Carousel Boutique. Rarity was currently hunched over a desk drawing new designs while five Unicorn Models―UCs, when abbreviated―actually did the cutting and the stitching, the air soaked in electromagic as dresses and suits were assembled with far greater precision and efficiency than the white unicorn could have ever managed on her own.

Rarity’s face was currently equipped with a smile. “Welcome to Carousel Boutique, where everything is chic, unique and―” Rarity said before she looked up, the sight of Sweetie Bot dragging the edges of her fuel intake port down. “Oh, it’s you.” She leaned back over her desk. “Who sent you, R. Sweetie Belle?”

“Applejack did,” Sweetie promptly replied, presenting the apple, “she thought you might like this, sister.”

Rarity grunted. “Don’t call me that.” Rarity grasped the apple in her magic and took a bite. “That was very nice of Applejack. Now go away.

A conundrum presented itself as Sweetie paused. One the one hoof, Applejack had requested she see Rarity about the lump on her chassis and take care of herself. On the other hand, her sister had given her a direct order to leave. She racked her arcatronic brain for a solution, and promptly found one in 4.847 seconds―9.9x10 exponent 5 times longer than she normally would ponder an issue.

“I will, Rarity. It is just that I was directed here so that I could benefit from your knowledge of robotics concerning the lump on my chassis. She says it might be hydraulic fluid buildup.”

Rarity carefully lifted her head and slightly shuttered her ocular lids at Sweetie Bot. “Well played, Applejack,” she muttered as she pushed herself from her desk and walked towards Sweetie, “but you can’t make me care for a machine.”

“Thank you. sis―”

“Stop pretending to be grateful and let me examine this.” Rarity peered under Sweetie. “Celestia, I can’t get a good look at this. R. Sweetie Belle, stand on one leg.” Sweetie did as told. “Much better,” she said as she cast a few diagnostic spells on the lump. Sweetie Bot also remembered why she turned her pain receptors off. Her sister’s words could cut deeper than any laser.

Rarity kept casting and recasting the same diagnostics as she wrinkled her air exhaust. “That can’t be right. I’ll have to take it to Twilight to confirm.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Know your place.”

“I am currently balanced on one―”

Shut up and follow me.” Sweetie Bot rested back on all fours. “UC models, mind the shop.” The robot unicorns nodded as Rarity and Sweetie left the store and headed to Twilight’s Castle.

Rarity knocked on the doors to Twilight’s Castle, Sweetie Bot noting that Rarity pounded the knocker with 78.21345% more force than required. Presumably due to the frustration of having to deal with her. Sweetie started walking away. Rarity turned her head to Sweetie.

“R. Sweetie Belle, where are you going?”

Sweetie turned her head to face Rarity. “My presence is causing you harm. I will take my leave.”

Rarity grabbed Sweetie’s leg and looked her in the face. “No, what would cause me harm is if you wandered off due to faulty programming. Now stay here.

Sweetie could not find an argument against that, so she remained by her sister’s side. The door opened, revealing Spike. His grin appeared to be constructed into his face upon witnessing who was present.

“Hey, Sweetie Belle!”

“Hello, Spike. How are you?”

Spike appeared to collect coolant under his cheeks. “I’m alright, yourself?”

“I am operating at what now appears to be 80% functionality.”

“Oh, really? You’re usually at one hundred percent. What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong,” Rarity said through gritted teeth, “is that you’re treating her like she’s a pony. We need to see Twilight. Now.

Spike narrowed his gaze at Rarity. “Sheesh. Fine, come in.”

“Thank you.”

“I was talking to Sweetie Belle, but I guess you can come in, too,” Spike said as he led them in. Sweetie Bot strode in as Rarity took quick, thumping steps.

Sweetie took in the castle, once again noting structural fortifications and faults in case of emergency as they traversed the expanse. Rarity audibly ground her teeth. They soon came upon Twilight in the library, who appeared to be conducting research as she teleported all over the room, only stopping to highlight a phrase in a book or mark a page before she whisked herself off to another section.

“Twilight,” Spike said. Twilight popped in front of them as Rarity lurched back slightly. Twilight’s mane was 16.887% ruffled and her ocular shutters were 4% drooped.

“Hey Rarity, hey Sweetie, what’s up?”

“I have a lump on my―”

“The unit appears to have a magical inflammation located in the area of her fuel processor. Now, I know that’s impossible, so I wanted to double check with you to make sure my findings were inaccurate,” Rarity said.

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “Hold on. You’re asking me to check if you’re wrong? With a robot?

Rarity nodded. “Yes. There’s no way that my scans could be correct.”

Sweetie Bot tilted her head. “What does that mean?”

Twilight bent her neck down to look at Sweetie face-to-face. “Well, Sweetie Belle, what that means is that your body is fighting off a magical infection.”

“It can’t have an infection.” Rarity snorted. “It’s a robot.”

Twilight glowered at Rarity. “Let’s see what the facts say.” Twilight’s horn took on a lavender sheen.

“Twilight?” Spike asked.

Twilight blinked. “Yes, Spike?”

“Can we get a robot?”

“No, Spike.” Twilight rubbed her eyes as she sat down.

Spike’s eyes widened. “But why not?”

“Because you’ll just order it to do your chores. Those chores build character.”

Spike looked down, then back at Twilight. “But… but maybe my new chore could be fixing the robot!”

“No, Spike,” Twilight said as she shook her head. “I’m not buying a robot just so that you can destroy it in an attempt to fix it. Roboticists spend years learning the ins and outs of their craft.”

“But Rarity learned how to fix robots all on her own!” Spike whined, pointing at the pony in question, who fluffed her mane in response.

“I did, yes,” Rarity said with a smirk.

Twilight groaned. “That’s because Rarity has a talent for technical precision that far surpasses anything I’ve ever seen.”

“You know,” Rarity said in a sultry voice as she leaned into Spike, “I could teach you the ins and outs, if you’d like.”

Spike sniffed. “Nuh-uh. Not if the way you treat Sweetie Belle is how you’d teach me.”

Rarity shot up. “W-what? It’s just a robot!

“A robot with something seriously wrong with her,” Twilight said as her horn powered down.

It. Something wrong with it.

Twilight sighed. “Whatever. Something is seriously wrong with her and I don’t know what it is.”

Rarity gasped. “How could you not know what’s wrong with it?”

“That seems highly unlikely. Your knowledge banks are quite expansive.”

“You’re too kind, Sweetie,” Twilight said with a grin.

“I am just stating a fact.”

Twilight bent down and patted Sweetie Bot on the cheek. “Your fact is kind.” Twilight righted herself. “But the truth is, I honestly don’t have much more than a passing familiarity with robotics, especially with such an advanced model as you. We’re going to have to take you to your creator.”

“You mean the only roboticist in town. Where my father directed me to head towards at the beginning of the day after breakfast.”

Twilight blinked a few times and looked at Rarity. “Did she mention any of this to you?”

Rarity pressed her hoof against her head. “No. She just told me Applejack sent her to me.”

“Applejack called me over to her stand when I was on my way to the roboticist. She then suggested that I ask my sister for help and told me to give an apple to her that I decided wasn’t required to fuel me at the time.”

Rarity rolled her ocular emulators. “Great. That apple was rejected by a robot.” Rarity turned to exit the library. “Well, come on, R. Sweetie. We’re going to the roboticist.”

“I should come, too,” Twilight interjected. “I need to be able to explain what I detected. Spike, mind the castle when I’m gone, alright?”

Spike grinned. “Can do, Twilight!”

Twilight, Rarity, and Sweetie exited the castle.

“So,” Rarity asked, “have you met the town roboticist?”

Twilight squeezed her eyes shut. “Unfortunately.”

“Great Whickering Stallions, it’s Sweetie Belle!” Doctor wrapped his forelegs tightly around Sweetie Bot’s neck. “It’s not time for your monthly checkup. How are you?”

“I am operating at an acceptable capacity.”

“That’s… good to hear.” Doctor removed his forelegs from Sweetie as he laid his eyes on Rarity, his features registering delight. “And here is the lovely Rarity, my number one student! Come with your sister, have you?”

Rarity whipped her mane as she walked in, giving a half-lidded gaze at Doctor. “Why yes, I have.”

“She wasn’t your sister twenty minutes ago,” Twilight snarked as she walked in. “Doctor.”

Doctor gave a tight-lipped expression to Twilight. “Princess.”

Sweetie looked around Doctor’s residence, noting various equinoid robots of all three races in varying states of disrepair.

“So,” Doctor said as he scurried over to a stray foreleg and tinkered on it, “Princess, you usually steer clear of my shop. What brings you in today?”

Twilight’s chassis expanded and contracted as she let out exhaust. “Well, it’s about Sweetie Belle―”

R. Sweetie Belle,” Rarity said.

Twilight scowled at Rarity, then turned back to Doctor. “She has a lump on her chassis.”

“Well, it’s probably just a hydraulic fluid buildup,” Doctor said without looking away, “just supercool a scalpel and drain the fluid. You know how to work with confusanium.”

Twilight shook her head. “My knowledge of robotics may be limited compared to yours, but it’s like nothing I’ve seen before. You might want to take her apart and look for yourself.”

Doctor took in air, turned around, and marched towards Twilight wearing a frown until they were air exhaust port to air exhaust port. “I can tell your knowledge of robotics is limited, Princess, because you can’t just take apart Sweetie Belle. She is an equinoform robot―the first of her kind. She is the pinnacle of robotic and arcatronic technology designed and built by yours truly and commissioned by her parents.”

Twilight kept her gaze locked with Doctor. “Doctor, I am aware of what Sweetie Belle is and how unique she is. You don’t have to tell me. What I will tell you, however, is that Sweetie Belle has a baseball size nodule located by her stomach and I don’t like how it scans. I don’t care how you examine it, either by taking her apart or by some other method. So don’t get snippy with me and let’s focus on the patient.”

Rarity snorted. “Patient.

Doctor turned away from Twilight and smiled. “Lady Rarity, all of the robots that come into my shop are patients,” he said as he went to Sweetie Bot. “Now hop up on the table, Sweetie.”

Sweetie did as ordered.

Doctor’s ocular shutters expanded to maximum wideness. “Oh my, that’s huge!” He poked it with a hoof. “And it’s… Sweetie, you should be in enormous pain.”

“I deactivated my pain receptors.”

Twilight gave Rarity a dirty look, who returned an uneasy one of her own.

“Well, I can understand why you would do that―you know, self-defense and all,” Doctor said as he ran a hoof through her cranial shock absorber, “but being in pain is an effective early warning sign that something’s wrong and that something needs to be fixed. Experiencing pain is a form of self-defense, you know.”

Sweetie nodded. “Noted.”

“How are you doing?” Doctor asked.

“I am doing fine.”

“Sweetie Belle,” Doctor said as he rested his hooves on her shoulders, “I understand you may not want to make me sad, but if you don’t give me a readout on how you’re doing, we could lose you. And that would hurt me even more.”

“I am operating at 40% functionality.”

Doctor pulled away and blinked.

Twilight pursed her fuel intake port. “She was at eighty percent half an hour ago…”

“Great Whickering Stallions! Lay down, Sweetie Belle, we’re doing some exploratory surgery.” Sweetie Bot did as ordered. “Now, please enter Sleep Mode. I don’t want you to see this and it’ll buy us some time.”

“Okay.” Sweetie Bot turned towards Rarity. “I love you, sister.” With that, the light drained from her ocular emulators.

Doctor sat on his haunches and rubbed his eyes. “Why in Celestia’s good name would she turn off her pain receptors?

“I don’t know,” Rarity said before she snorted. “Maybe it fell and banged its knee actuator.”

"No, no,” Doctor said as he nervously paced around, “Sweetie Belle wasn’t designed like that. She was designed to interpret pain as a self-correction mechanism―if she tripped, she would learn to walk more carefully. If she made someone cry, she’d try to make it up.”

Rarity tapped her chin. “Intriguing… so the unit models its behavior around the hard-wired logic present in all robots―”

“Because robot programming is representative of what’s best for an individual pony.” The Doctor pressed a hoof against his muzzle. “Ergo, she shouldn’t have turned her pain receptors off unless she was in constant pain.”

“Well, I haven’t a clue what would cause that.”

Doctor shrugged. “Maybe she’s being abused. I don’t know.”

Rarity gasped as she put a hoof to her chest. “Are you accusing my parents of abusing one of your models? They would never do that, they’ve spent too much money on it!”

“Well, maybe someone at school is bullying her,” Doctor offered as he looked down.

“Oh no, it’s very popular at school,” Rarity said with teeth clenched, “they say they can hardly tell the difference.”

“I have a hypothesis,” Twilight said. “Maybe someone close to her is emotionally abusing her.”

Rarity scoffed. “You can’t emotionally abuse a machine.

Twilight stared at Rarity, eyes narrowed. “Rarity,” she said, “Doctor just said that she’d attempt to ameliorate another foal’s feelings if she made them cry.”

“Robots should apologize if they cause harm.” Rarity looked around. “At least they don’t explode like the older models.”

Twilight sucked in through her teeth. “I don’t think you understand.”

Doctor looked up. “... How has Rarity been treating her sister?”

“I mourn her loss every day, and that thing is just a twisted reminder of what I’ve lost shoved into my face,” Rarity spat out. She looked away. “I wish my parents never commissioned it.”

“Lady Rarity, you shouldn’t mistreat your sister―”

It’s not my sister!” Rarity shouted at Doctor, her chest heaving in and out as a snarl crossed her face.

Doctor stood up and steeled his gaze at Rarity. “Let me reiterate: How have you been treating the unit?”

Rarity sniffed. “Like the monstrosity that it is.”

“How do you think Sweetie Belle would treat you if you were a robot?” Twilight asked.

Rarity moved to speak, but paused a fair bit longer than was ladylike as she mulled over the question.

Doctor sighed. “Probably the same as this Sweetie Belle acts, if my personality subroutine calculations were correct.”

Rarity slowly turned her head towards Doctor. “...personality subroutines?” She shook her head. “Robots don’t have personalities...”

Twilight rubbed her face. “You haven’t noticed how… unusually chipper she was?”

“I never really paid attention,” Rarity said

“I’ve spent years on programming formulae that would create emergent behavior in line with the original,” Doctor added.

“Everyone else saw it,” Twilight said. “I’m not sure why you didn’t”

“Now hold on a moment.” Doctor held a hoof out to Twilight. “She’s very familiar with robots, and she’s very familiar with ponies. Maybe seeing something that wasn’t quite either in the form of her sister created a kind of...uncanny valley effect that triggered a revulsion that caused her to reject Sweetie Belle.”

Rarity look consecutively at Twilight and Doctor, taking in what they had just said.

“Emergent behavior,” Rarity said as her eyes delicately wettened. “S-so… her calling me ‘sister’ wasn’t some insult you programmed in, she was trying to reach out to me. And when she said, ‘I love you’―”

“She was trying to be your sister,” Twilight said.

Rarity sniffed as it struck her like a bolt of lightning: R. Sweetie Belle’s emergent behavior had caused her to deactivate her pain receptors in response to Rarity’s maltreatment.

Maybe that unit lying on the table was more equine than her.

“Functionality at 5%”

Twilight perked up. “She’s about to shut down!”

Doctor scrambled across the room and grabbed a scalpel as Twilight flipped Sweetie Belle onto her back. Doctor rushed to Sweetie. “Quick, Twilight, supercool the scalpel.”

“But Doctor, you’re holding it!”

“I don’t give a hay, I’m not losing her!”

A blue glow wrapped around the scalpel as Rarity approached the unit―Sweetie Belle. “Nor am I,” she said. “I owe that much to her. Now supercool the scalpel.”

Twilight nodded as Rarity’s magic mixed with her own. The scalpel melted, then turned into glass.

“Alright, good.” Doctor pointed to Sweetie’s stomach. “Now cut here, here, and here.”

Rarity bit her lip as she made the first incision.

“Functionality at 4%”

“Quick, we’re losing her!”

“Quiet and let me focus, Doctor.”

Rarity carefully sliced the confusanium and peeled back the metal, revealing a pulsing, black blob attached to Sweetie’s fuel processor.

All three of them stared at it.

“What is that?” Twilight asked.

“Functionality at 3%”

We’ll find out later!” Doctor said. He examined the blob. “Now, our best bet is to remove the whole thing at once to be on the safe side, but I’m not sure how we’ll do that with one scalpel.”

Twilight warmed up the glass until it was liquid. “There, that should do it.”

“Thanks, Twilight.” Rarity said as she lined up the liquid with where the blob met the fuel processor. The liquid flattened as Rarity sliced off the malignant body. Twilight grasped the furiously pulsating object in her glow and examined it.

“What is it?” Doctor asked.

Twilight turned it this way and that. “It looks like―”

“Functionality at 2%”

Twilight looked up. “She’s not recuperating!”

Doctor waved at Sweetie Belle’s mouth. “She needs a fuel source!” He nervously looked around. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon…”

What’s an acceptable fuel source?”

“Anything biological will do!”

Rarity looked at the machine that she stood over.

Rarity inhaled, then exhaled. She recalled the time Sweetie Belle disowned her and Rarity won back her favor. She remembered how infuriated she was with Sweetie when she stole her gold fabric to make those dumb capes.

Doctor tore through his shop. “I thought I had a sandwich here somewhere…”

Twilight grunted. “Thinking doesn’t make sandwiches!”

Rarity reminisced about that dumb camping trip Sweetie finagled her into going on. And, she remembered the day she got her cutie mark―the one branded into this Sweetie Belle’s flank. Her heart stung as she saw Sweetie Belle get atomized not long after as a result of Starlight Glimmer’s convoluted, malevolent scheme.

I already lost you once. I’m not losing you a second time.

Rarity threw the liquid blade through her mane, the hair flash-freezing as she grasped it and shoved it into Sweetie’s mouth. A lump formed in the robot’s throat as she swallowed it.

“Full system reboot activated. Systems at 5%... 20%... All systems at full functionality”

Twilight and Doctor turned their heads towards Rarity. “Your mane…” Twilight said as she released the liquid metal. It solidified before hitting the ground in a useless lump.

Rarity smiled. “She would have done the same for me.”

The three of the hunched over a workbench as they examined the… thing Twilight contained in her magic.

Rarity peered at it. “What do you think it is?”

Doctor scratched his head. “I’m not exactly sure. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was a―”

“A tumor.” Twilight rotated the newly identified tumor. “It must have been created by the despair Sweetie Belle felt and collected confusanium to feed itself.”

Rarity sharply inhaled. “I can’t believe my neglect was so hurtful that it… It…”

Doctor grabbed the tumor out of Twilight’s magic and examined it. “It… caused…” A sharp laugh escaped Doctor’s lungs. “It caused a robot to get cancer.” He giggled, then the giggle grew into a cackle as both mares stared at him like he had a tumor growing out of his head. “Great Whickering Stallions…”

“I don’t understand what’s so funny,” Twilight said.

Doctor inhaled sharply and collected himself, his features now manic. “Don’t you see? I’ve created a form of self-replicating artificial life!

Twilight buried her hoof in her face as Rarity gave a cock-eyed stare to the mad stallion. “I wouldn’t call robot cancer life, per se,” Rarity remarked.

“Well, it’s a start,” he said with a wide grin on his face as he stared hopefully at the pulsing growth. “Those buffoons at Equestrian Robotics said it couldn’t be done, but who has the last laugh now!”

Twilight grasped the tumor. “I do. It’s obviously a magical creation, so it requires arcane study.”

Doctor, however, wouldn’t let go. “It was found in one of my robots, so I get research rights.”

“The robot belongs to Rarity’s parents, so they should get it first.” Twilight gently tugged on it.

Doctor pulled back. “If they want it, they can claim it here.”

Rarity sighed as she watched two geniuses in their respective fields stoop to the level of children over the thing that almost deactivated―no, killed the being resting on the table. She decided now would be a good time to apologize as they fought over the robot cancer as she walked over to the table.

She stared at the robot, it appearing lifeless. Not even breathing. She grinned and poked the… her sister.

“Sweetie, wake up.”

Sweetie Belle blinked a few times, rubbed her eyes, and yawned. She looked around and spotted Rarity and glowered. “What, no 'R. Sweetie’?”

“No, not anymore,” Rarity said as she shook her head.

Sweetie did a double take. “Jeez, what happened when I was out? You get hit in the head or something?”

Rarity giggled softly. “You… could say that.”

“Your mane…” Sweetie squeaked as she noticed her sister’s follicle deformity.

“It’ll grow back.” Rarity hugged Sweetie.

“Y-you’re acting kind of weird. All nice and stuff.”

“Well,” Rarity said as she hugged Sweetie Belle tighter, “I’ve realized what you are.”

“A robot? Because I think we all knew that.”

“You’re not just a robot.” Rarity pulled away from Sweetie and looked her in the eyes. “You’re my sister, who I still love with all of my heart.”

Sweetie Belle looked up at Rarity with puppy-dog eyes. “So does that mean you’re not going to be mean to me anymore?”

Rarity shook her head. “Not on purpos―”

A crash emanated from a corner of the workshop as Twilight apparated, Doctor in tow. They both held onto the tumor with all of their might.

“Can’t teleport anywhere without me as long as we’re still connected, can you?” Doctor shouted deliriously at Twilight.

Let go!” Twilight roared.

“You first!”

Sweetie and Rarity watched Twilight and Doctor teleport all over the workshop connected by that tumor.

Sweetie looked at Rarity. “What are they fighting over?”

“Robot cancer.”

Sweetie hummed and looked back at the fracas. “There’s a 2.324% chance of this ending well.”

“What makes you say that?”

Sweetie pointed. “They’re going to destroy the entire shop at this rate.”

Rarity brushed Sweetie Belle’s mane with her hoof. “Right you are, Sweetie. Right you are.”

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