What I Am

by Knight Breeze

Chapter 2: Chapter II

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Chapter II

I sat motionless, staring at the chalkboard in front of me. On the board was a picture of a familiar fruit, while in front of the board was Scroll, the gray pony I had met in the woods with Carrot. “Khahu,” I said, trying to replicate the weird noises coming out of his mouth.

Scroll babbled something, to which Evening nodded in agreement. “He say you get main right, you not get last right. Has minor upturn voice, tone very important.”

“Khahu?” I said, hopefully making the necessary correction.

Scroll beamed at me, letting me know that I had gotten it right. “Good working!” Evening said, further reinforcing the feeling of a job well done.

Before we were able to go any further, I heard a light tap on the door. I looked up to see one of the doctors poke her head into the room, an expression that I couldn’t quite place on her face. She asked something that I didn’t understand, but she was quickly waved off by Evening. “Knowing, knowing. Not good overload, little by little.”

The doctor, apparently satisfied that the two ponies weren’t about to work me to death, gave a satisfied nod, then shut the door. Evening turned to me and gave an apologetic smile. “As much want keep move, already done hour now.”

“Ah… Are you sure we can’t keep going?” I asked. Their language, while complex, was quite beautiful. It relied as much upon the pitch and tone of the words, as the words themselves, to convey meaning. For example, the word ‘Ulralnad’ meant ‘defense,’ ‘defender,’ or ‘Stay where you are,’ depending on how it was said. I also found out that it was the word they used when referring to me when they weren’t trying to say my name. Why that was, I wasn’t sure, though it probably had to do with how my name was first translated, and why some of them called me Defender instead of Alex.

Evening just giggled a little, then shook her head. “Not think is time. Need time for lesson sink, stop for now. Though, if want, maybe review what learned?” she asked, tilting her head a little to the side.

I shrugged a bit, then nodded my head. “I don’t see why not. It wouldn’t hurt, and might help me remember a few things”

She smiled, then clapped her front hooves together. “Good! Then, tell what remember. Do not worry if not get right first, language take time learn, take years master. Go slow, as much can remember.”

I took a deep, steadying breath, then began to repeat all the words that I could remember, and their meanings. I tried my best to copy Scroll’s weird tilt when he had said some of them, but I’m pretty sure I got some of them wrong.

As I went on, though, I faltered a bit when I realized that Evening’s smile was becoming a little bit… strained, almost as if she was trying to put on a happy face when she knew that something was wrong. “Kala… a… sorry, is something the matter?” I asked, unsure at why she was making such a face.

She swallowed uncomfortably, then looked at Scroll for a second. “You not memory repeating, right? Those hurt long memory run.”

Scroll looked confused. He said something quick, probably in the negative, to which Evening gave him a really, really hard look.

“Look, I’m sorry if I butchered your language too badly, but please, don’t fight over that.” I said, holding up my hands in a placating gesture.

Evening looked back at me, then back at Scroll, then gave a heavy sigh. “No, not your fault, it… well, it not you carve up, but you get right. Too right. You… you copy Writing Words exactly. Not that only, but… so far, repeat every word, in order that taught.”

I stared at her for a couple of seconds before a light suddenly went on in my head.

I started to laugh. Tears came to my eyes, and I could see the worried looks on the ponies’ faces, but that made me laugh even harder. “Oh, if only Mrs. Morris could see me now… she would have a fit that this was happening,” I said as I got my breathing under control, the memory of my eighth grade french teacher making me smile even more.

This just seemed to cause Evening’s confusion to grow, though. “Excusing is me?”

I smiled at her, reached up, and lightly touched the metal hole on the back of my head. “Oh, don’t worry about it. I think I’ll be able to learn your language really quickly. Far quicker than I should be able to, in fact.”

The two ponies looked at me oddly at that, but that didn’t worry me in the slightest. After all, I’ve had these things in my head for over six months now. Might as well make them work for me, I thought to myself. I took a deep, steadying breath, then gave the two ponies a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry about it. It’s a… a beneficial side effect from what happened to us,” I said as I draped a hand onto Kazimir.

Kazimir, or, rather, the cat that Kazimir was currently controlling, batted my hand away again in irritation. “Stop that, Alex. You know how I feel about being touched.”

I grinned at him. “Why do you think I do it?” I asked him. He turned his head to the side, clearly confused, but I ignored him, choosing to instead concentrate on Evening. “Let’s continue the lesson. Unless, of course, you want to stop for now. But just so you know, I can keep going. And if my theory is correct, I think I’ll be able to remember all of it.”

Evening thought about that for a second, but shook her head no. “Though you learn quick, we only have time small portion. Need teach more, need see more. Not that only, but we prepare only so much,” she said, then sighed as she rubbed her forehead with her hoof. “Beside, Sun Goddess want talk, want tell thing, want hear thing. We end lesson, go see Sun Goddess, yes?”

I smiled at her, got up, and removed my lab coat. “Yeah, I kind of forgot about that. If it’s not too much trouble, I also wanted to go and see The Pink One. I know she kind of had her heart set on a party, and I wanted to apologize.”

Evening looked uneasy, but she eventually relented. “Okay, but important: If I say ‘running,’ you running, no question asking?”

This caused me to burst out into a fit of giggles. “Yeah, I got it. You don’t need to tell me twice,” I said as I pulled on the really nice jacket that Wonder had made me. Before I left, though, I turned back towards the desk and the small metal cat that sat on it. “Hey, Kazimir, their ruler needs to see me for a second. Do you want to stay active? Or…”

“I am fine as I am, comrade. Though, to be honest, I may unplug myself later,” the cat said as he settled himself into a lying position. “Though the ‘sleep’ can be a bit annoying, what with us not being able to act or experience the world around ourselves, being disconnected from a body is still quite relaxing. Almost like an extended, lucid dream. We will be fine until you return.”

I smiled at him, then turned to leave. I was grateful for a familiar voice from home, but that didn’t make me feel any better about what Kazimir and the others actually were. Nor did it make me feel any better about what I did to them.

* * *

“Do you really think this is a good idea, Pinkie?”

The pink pony looked at Fluttershy, a flat expression on her face. “Of course I think it’s a good idea. He obviously hasn’t been to a party for so long, that he’s completely forgotten party etiquette! So there’s only one, possible solution.”

Fluttershy looked at the hot-air balloon, as well as all the party gear loaded onto it. “But… This doesn’t seem very safe. And how will you know everypony will be in this exact spot?” Fluttershy asked, worry clear in her voice. “If… If you don’t mind me asking, that is…”

“My ears and knees told me. Now, let me climb in, and when I give the word, you untie the rope. Got it?”

“Okay…” Fluttershy said. Even though the party pony had reassured her, all the nervous pegasus could feel was a faint sense of impending doom.

“Okay, Fluttershy! I’m ready! Let’er rip!” Pinkie shouted at the top of her lungs.

Fluttershy gulped softly, took the rope in her mouth, closed her eyes, and pulled. Even as the manic pink pony’s giggling laughter floated away into the sky, Fluttershy couldn’t bring herself to look.

All she could really do was pray that things didn’t go horribly, horribly wrong.

* * *

Akitesh was in a foul mood. There was no excuse for this kind of oversight. By all rights, these ‘humans’ should have been taken under the wing of the Quzin a long time ago, and hailed as brothers and sisters across the void. Yet this is the first time I’ve heard about them? She thought as she played a quick percussion on her desk with her fingers. We were on a scientific mission to Gel. GEL! And only because they found a species that bore a passing resemblance to the sky drakes of home!

At the moment, she could think of two separate worlds that deserved their attention far more than that pathetic rock.

Akitesh was pulled from her musings by a hesitant knock on the door, quickly reminding her why she was in her office in the first place. “Come in,” she snapped, irritation clear in her voice.

The door opened, revealing a nervous-looking Lokar and Kivalt. Despite the look on Akitesh’s face, Lokar took the initiative and entered first. “You wanted to see us, Priestess?”

“Yes, I do,” Akitesh said. Then, with a flick of her power, she activated the holoprojector on the table. The image of the human homeworld, with the examples of their species, instantly appeared next to her. “You mind telling me why I’ve never heard of these people before?”

The effect was instantaneous. But rather than look ashamed, both looked even more nervous than before. “Um… I’m sorry to ask this, but why do you bring this up?” Kivalt asked as she followed her brother into the room.

“Why? Do you remember our mission a week ago? The one to the planet’s surface? Do you remember why we went there?” Akitesh asked, her voice deadly calm.

Lokar glanced at the hologram, then back at Akitesh, comprehension dawning in his eyes. “Wait.... you don’t mean…”

“What?” Kivalt asked, not quite catching on as fast as her brother.

“Ki, the victim is one of them,” Lokar said, gently putting a single claw on his sister’s shoulder.

Her eyes went wide, and she started to shake uncontrollably. “But… how? We… we were so careful.”

“Careful how? Explain yourself,” Akitesh said, her eyeridges furrowing together in anger.

Both twins looked at each other for a second, then back at the Priestess. “Well, to be honest, the discovery of these people was a… recent development,” Lokar said, twiddling his thumbs together. “In light of the events that surrounded the discovery, it was deemed too dangerous to bring these people to light.”

Akitesh scoffed, her ire raised even further. “What possible danger could just knowing about these people prove to us?”

“You misunderstand, priestess,” Kivalt said, bowing her head a little. “We were not implying that they would be a danger to us, but that we would be a danger to them, even if it were indirectly.”

Akitesh’s fury came to a screeching halt. “...Go on.”

Lokar rubbed his forehead a bit, inhaled deeply, then exhaled. “The exact year that the Magi sent out an expedition to that planet was thirty-three, seventy-four.”

The two didn’t have to say anything else at that point. Akitesh already knew precisely why this had been kept so quiet. “The year before war broke out with the Krin,” she half-whispered to herself.

Even though it was muttered to herself, the twins still heard her. “Yes. Had we gone public with this discovery, the Krin who had been monitoring our communications would have picked up on it immediately,” Kivalt said, clasping her hands on her top-most coil. “Neither of us were part of the original team to discover that world, but we were part of one of the relief teams sent to help pack up our operation. It was deemed too dangerous to keep a presence more substantial than a cloaked probe, since anything more than that could spell trouble for our developing brothers and sisters.”

“...nothing is as simple as you want it to be…” Akitesh said as she slammed her head on the desk in front of her.

Lokar looked hesitant at his priestess’s less-than-pleased pose, but plowed onward regardless. “Uh… that being said, what with us being unsure about the whereabouts of certain Krin war criminals, namely the former Emperor, the Speaker had decided to restrict this information to a need-to-know basis. Aliz obviously felt you needed to know.”

“Yes, I guessed as much,” Akitesh said, rubbing her forehead with a single claw. “Well, that probably means that the ‘Emperor’ has his sights set on the victim’s homeworld. I’ll send a missive to the council immediately. Hopefully they’ll have a few ships out that way in a few weeks.”

Kivalt gulped uncomfortably. “Do you really think they have a couple of weeks?”

Akitesh stood up, and slithered over towards the door. “By the Creator, I hope they do.” She quickly opened the door and made her way out, motioning for the twins to follow her. “Come, I will need your help.”

“With what, exactly?” The twins asked in unison as they both got to their coils.

“We still have a lot of ground to cover, a wounded brother in need of assistance, and a society of exceptionally gifted equines to deal with,” Akitesh said as she led the way to the lift. “At this moment, you two are the closest thing to experts that I have at my command. I need insight into the mind of our brother, as well as more information about these equines. Until this mission is complete, I want you two at my beck and call.”

The two gulped uncomfortably as Akitesh pressed a button to call the lift, then turned to the twins. “Go to your rooms, and collect your things. Report to my second voice for your new quarters assignments. As of this moment, you’re part of my senior staff,” she said, sealing the two scientists’ fate.

“I knew I should have gone into chemistry…” Lokar muttered to himself.

* * *

Tusk Breaker groggily opened his eyes, then immediately regretted this decision. Not only was his head killing him, but there was a blinding white light directly above him. He raised his hands to his face to ward off the light, only to realize that the only parts of his arms he could move were his fingers. “What… where am I?” he asked. He tried to move his head about, but he quickly found out that that, too, was restrained.

“Ah… our friend with the loud mouth is awake…” a quiet voice whispered from the shadows. “I apologize for the restraints, but we have too much respect for the mighty Minotaur, and would rather he listen, and speak, before acting.”

“Who are you?” Tusk Breaker shouted, pulling at his bonds experimentally. They didn’t feel like any material he was used to; they had a slight give, and felt soft and malleable, but when he exerted any force against them, they became as tough as steel. Tougher, in fact. “What is this stuff? Why am I-”

Before he was able to finish his thought, he heard a sound very similar to sometaur hawking a loogie, followed by his mouth being covered by something warm and sticky. “Yeesh, with the questions… it’s always with the questions. ‘Where am I? Who are you? Why do you have a bucket of scorpions?’ On and on and on. It gets really annoying sometimes,” the voice said, his tone somewhat irate. “Fortunately for you, certain parties want you to remain alive.”

Tusk heard a fluttering, buzzing sound, and briefly felt something pass by his left side, but his restraints prevented him from seeing what it was. Terror poured into his brain as he felt a warm breath near his ear, and he couldn’t help but pray to The Old Ones that they would show him mercy. “You have a very noisy mouth. Noisy mouths are good for my profession. They allow me to hear things that others would not have me hear.” There was a pause, and Tusk felt the tip of something hard and sharp press against his temple. “And right now, what I want to hear is more about this ‘upstart’ that took everything away from you.”

Tusk rolled his eyes to try to see what was happening, but he couldn’t quite get a good angle. Before he could even think about what horrors were about to happen to him, he saw a bright flash of green light, felt a sharp, piercing pain in his head, and he remembered no more.

Author's Notes:

Well, here's the next chapter. I knew I was missing something, and hopefully those of you who were proofreading earlier spotted what I added.:raritywink:

Anyway, I've been having a really hard time with writing lately, mainly because of my job, and how monotonous it's gotten. But do not worry, I took an extra day off this week, got my head on straight, and was able to bring you this little beutie. Enjoy!

Tip Jar!

Next Chapter: Chapter III Estimated time remaining: 14 Hours, 29 Minutes
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