What cause have I to feel glad?
I’ve built my life from judgment and causing pain
I don’t know those eyes I see in the bloodstained chrome
Now everything that I’ve had
and everything I’ve known have been thrown away
And with time I’ve come to find this isn’t my home…
Dr. Atmosphere stared at the failures via the camera in the security room. He couldn’t help but feel sadness. More murder, more fillies… more failures. He sighed to himself.
He was loyal to the company, but how much longer could he keep up his act? He had worked in the Rainbow Factory for almost two decades now, and each foal he seen killed over a failed test was just another stab to his heart. With the tests going on every month, he had seen thousands of ponies, loved ones even, be killed by that wretched machine.
He wasn’t like Rainbow Dash; no, far from it. Unlike her, he didn’t grow a sadistic enjoyment to watching the extraction of spectra via the killing of those who weren’t even given the chance to have a life. Quite the opposite: To him, it was intolerable. It was terrible. It was cruel and evil, but was he given a choice? Of course not.
He had helped two escape behind the scenes- it just took a bit of messing around. But he couldn’t do much else. Rainbow would catch on and put him through the Pegasus Device himself.
“Why are we here?”
“What are they gonna do to us?”
“What is this place?
Hide looked at the screen, hearing the same questions he had already heard millions of times in the past. He closed his eyes as the cyanide went off, knocking out the ponies as the guards headed towards them. They broke the wings quickly, and tied them up. Being the only one in the room, he shed a tear at the crimes he watched being committed- the crimes he committed.
He had done everything for this company, things he shouldn’t have done. He had been given the chance to escape, and all. But did he? No. Something possessed him to stay, and he hated it. He could’ve even ratted the whole damned project out to Princess Celestia, but did he? No. He cursed his loyalty silently.
He stepped out of the room, and headed into the third floor main factory. Rainbow Dash greeted him.
“Well, Hide? No trouble this time, I presume?”
Presume. He almost thought she didn’t know that word. She wasn’t an egghead.
“Not this time, no.” The stallion stepped beside the Cloudsdale Weather Corporation Manager, keeping up his act. It always caused him a headache.
“Good. We were short over a month of rainbows thanks to that last fiasco. It cost us a number of bits.”
Rainbows and bits. That’s all she cared about. Rainbows, and bits. Hide hated the dastardly rainbow mare beside him with a deeply engrained passion. What he would give just to put her through the pain those she had killed felt, that he felt, watching and doing nothing. The doctor maintained a pleasantry about him, however and answered.
“I’m aware, Ms. Dash. And it’s Dr. Atmosphere to you. I have a degree, you know.”
She was the only one he made call him that. He hated the formal name. Rainbow ignored the comment, however, and began speaking further.
“I know how aware you are, Hide. It’s just that we’ve made quite the bit of progress, and it can’t be spoiled by yet another escape and another investigation. Last time I checked, I was allowed to ask, being as my word is law around here.”
Funny how she was the only one who bothered to call him by his first name, and she was the only one he wanted calling him by his formal title.
They arrived by one of the Pegasus devices. A blue pony with a lab coat and tinted goggles, manning the controls of the accursed equipment, nodded to the ponies below, whose powerfully built bodies were threatening to rip the black suits they wore. They pulled a tied up foal with no cutie mark out from the group, and untied him, locking him to the machine. It pulled the struggling foal up to the labcoat pony’s height of view, who began messing with the dials, starting scanners that scanned over the pony’s limbs.
The blades came down, severing the limbs of the pony. They fell into the machine, bones crunching in between the multitudes of gears and bolts. The scream was loud and ear-piercing, but it wasn’t done.
The arm of the machine moved forward. There was a large blade containing a needle on the end of it, and it impaled the pony, spattering blood everywhere. The needle began sucking. The foal died, and in front of the factory ponies, turned a grayish color, as blood continued flow. The Pegasus device began pumping bright yellow and green colors as it dumped the gray body into the gears and levers, crushing it and pouring out even more spectra. An orange colored light emanated after the gears stopped, indicating the foal’s incineration within the built-in furnace.
“Ah, the progress. Don’t you love it, Hide?”
“Indeed I do, Ms. Dash. Indeed I do.” He was lying, he hated it. The spectra finished pumping from the floor wide machine.
“The more efficient spectra, going all the way down to it taking only one foal to produce a rainbow, being able to extract the spectra from everything, even their blood and bones! I love it, Hide. The newest Pegasus Device doesn’t even have to disintegrate the fur!”
“Yeah, it is progress…” He resisted the temptation to buck her into the boiling color pigment. “It’s just harder to maintain.”
“I know what you’re going to say, Hide. And the answer is still no.”
“Ms. Dash! Think! No more murder of innocent foals. We could run it like a blood drive without even revealing anything from the past. We’re talking practically infinite resources here!”
“It would cost more, Hide. We’re down to one unit per rainbow- we’ve hit the peak. And you want to cancel that out for a volunteer basis that could take double the time and twice the money, supposing that your ‘charge for donations’ plan even works?”
She didn’t know much, did she? She was worried about the bits, not about the lives she had taken. If she were half as hesitant to kill ponies as she was that amber-colored mare so many years ago, she wouldn’t even be here, watching ponies get murdered by the machine that had changed in both operation and size. Chances are she would be in her office, not psychotically insane, and Hide’s ideals would be taken to account.
But that wasn’t going to happen. Not likely, at least. Around a year ago, a stallion doctor named Test Tube had been assigned to a project that had found a way to harmlessly extract large amounts of spectra from ponies. No killing, no pain, no screams, no insanity. An end to the madness. It would be a single needle on a small conversion device, not an oversized murder-and-dismember rainbow maker.
He looked down at the Pegasus device- what he could see of the Pegasus Device- and sighed under his breath. He was too old for this.
The Pegasus Device, something once capable of being covered by a tarp, had now become twenty times that size, extending over most of the floor. There were six of them; and such “progress” had taken millions of bits to produce. It wasn’t exactly common for a company to not draw a royal guard investigation when they placed an order for a massive killing machine; they had to piece it together part-by-part.
“Now, Hide. I’m going to my office. I’ve still got a hangover from Cloudsdale’s finest wines. I’ll let you handle it down here.”
She left, but Dr. Atmosphere had little time to dwell on his own thoughts. He was being approached by a purple Pegasus pony, wearing a lab coat. She had a black mane with spiked bangs, and two strips of color –one pink and one cyan- going up the hair. Her eyes were a much softer magenta than Rainbow’s, but that didn’t make her less psychotic.
“Hide. We need to talk.”
“About what, Dr. Flicker?”
She glared at him. “If you don’t cease calling me that, I’m going to call you Dr. At to the mosphere for the rest of your life here. Just call me Hyper.”
This was Hyper Flicker, head of the research and development department. She was one of five; but also the most educated. Her work situation as far as employees went was about as bad as Hide’s, though she simply had trouble getting workers, where as he, to keep up his act, had to make more psychotic monsters. Not many Weather Factory workers below had degrees in theoretical chemistry. Her most educated (albeit not the best) worker was an idiot who, despite the place being hardly lit up enough to see through the goggles worn by some of the engineers, wore sunglasses and called himself “Mr. Ponytastic.”
“Anyhow, I need your help. The idiot in the sunglasses just blew up part of the equipment by mixing the spectra incorrectly.”
Another service to the accursed place, but at least not as bad as most were. They entered the third floor laboratory, Hyper tending to the other three as Hide merged with the somewhat broken wreckage to see what he could do. He spotted Ponytastic sitting there, still smiling.
He asked him out of curiosity, “How did you even get this job, anyways?”
“Uh… Well, they were calling for volunteers on the lower part of the floor, so I was the first to raise my hoof. Then Ms. Flicker over there asked if I had a degree in theoretical chemistry. I told her I had a theoretical degree in chemistry. She snatched me right up and took me in here.”
Dr. Atmosphere sighed… and began to work. This would be a long… was it day? He couldn’t tell anymore, he had been in here for so long. What he would give to see the sun again…
Hide walked out of the laboratory. A small beep sounded from his pocket as his PDA went off. He pulled it out, and looked. It was the next couple of poor souls who had failed their flight tests…
Blue sat there silently, contemplating what just happened. The pony across from her was far from freaked out for some odd reason, but then again, neither was she. She didn’t really know what to think, and she couldn’t speak to ask what. She was mute; and she didn’t even have an actual name. Ponies just called her blue because her mane was a light cyan, her coat a darker blue color.
“So, good to be gettin’ outta this place, eh?” the tan colored stallion asked her. She didn’t know him.
“Ah. Shy mare. Or disappointed and not in the mood to talk?”
She shook her head at both, the cart moving slowly along.
“Then what’s da matter which ya?”
She opened her mouth, and made a small squeak noise. That was all she could do, nothing else would come out.
The tan colored pony looked surprised for a moment.
“Ah. You’re mute. Well… do you have a name?”
She shook her head.
“Well, do others call you anything?
She pointed to her chest and mane.
Blue put on an awkward look and shook her head. She motioned to her mane.
“Uh… manegirl? No… Wait! I got it. Blue!”
At the last answer she smiled and nodded.
“Is it Blue?”
She nodded again. He smiled back at her.
“I’m Crestacio. Crestacio Hungwing. So… in all seriousness, where do you think we’re going?”
She shrugged. She thought it would be somewhere far away from Equestria. Cloudsdale can’t have bad fliers poisoning their good name, even if they can’t talk and say they’re from there.
As if knowing what she was thinking, he spoke.
“What gives them right to judge us? I’m just saying, what in the name of Celestia said ‘Go ahead, throw some of your citizens away just because they aren’t the best fliers?’ Seems pretty stupid to me, same as that test. They say it’s so simple, yet there are so many things that can go wrong it’s almost ridiculous.”
Blue nodded. She didn’t really know what to think herself. Just that she failed, but it wasn’t the first time she had come up worthless. Being unable to talk in this city was like already declaring failure to the flight test. Apparently, being mute meant that whatever you would talk about was ridiculous or stupid in the first place.
Crestacio looked out the window, and took note of the scenery.
“Wait a moment… I think we’re in the Weather Factory…”
Blue was confused for a moment, and looked out. Sure enough, they were in the Weather Factory…. But that was impossible, they had been in there for hours.
The back of the cart opened, and they were immediately greeted by two armed pegasi, wearing black suits that were skin tight enough to look like their skin. They were shoved down the ramp quickly and carelessly.
“Move along, worthless things.” One of them retorted to them.
Blue made an offended face. Not that she could do anything, a fight would have been a bit of a no-chance and she hadn’t magically gained the ability to speak. They walked into a small area, which opened a door to a massive room.
Six columns extended up the room, and there were a number of vents in the place. The guards closed the doors behind them. They were left in the room, alone.
Hide observed the room with a certain sadness about him, as usual. Being left in the security camera room alone had its advantages, but he always wished somepony were there with him who understood his pain.
It was a tan pony with a black mane, and small mare with a sharp snout. The mare was blue, and didn’t talk once in the hour that they were in there already. Hide attempted to recall, if he wasn’t mistaken, that the tan pony mentioned she was mute…
She gained even further sympathy from him, he knowing what the city once was like before the whole idea of flight tests and killing innocent ponies. Back then, they used death row criminals- but it was quite quickly nearly discovered. Now though, it was murder of those thought to be worthless by ponies, not gods.
Even then, he thought it was wrong. The device back then, same as now, put the ponies through insufferable amounts of undeserved pain. He watched the ponies carefully… if he didn’t do something, which he probably wouldn’t (despite the torturous guilt), they were both doomed…
It’s alright, she thought. We’re going to get out of here. She thought. She thought, she thought, she thought.
Crestacio looked at her. He knew it was a concerned face.
“It’s alright. They’re probably just preparing us for an actual exile.”
She wished. She hopped up and hugged him. He was a good-hearted stallion, but that didn’t calm her concerns. She had heard rumors…
About a year ago, Princess Celestia had come to the factory for an investigation. It was rumored that ponies who failed their flight tests didn’t get exiled; they were killed. Their bodies were used to produce rainbows.
She looked at him, worried in the face. His own face was smoothed out, calming and soothing. As of right now, they were all each other had.
But that wouldn’t be for long…
The gas flowed into the room the moment the guard ponies shut the door. They had been wearing gas masks, with goggles over their eyes. Blue felt everything go black as her breath went faint…
I man these wretched machines, Day in, Day out The grinding wears on my brain, Undermining my sanity Making me question my reality, but life is not as it seems Should I take a chance at freedom and throw it all down the drain I’ve been imprisoned, Please burn my transgressions away
Dr. Atmosphere had seen all that. Now he was broken-hearted… even more so than when Rainbow Dash had killed a pony she thought of as a member of her own family. He watched the wings of the two pegasi get broken, and tied. After a little time had passed, he walked out of the room.
The sound of the gears working pounded his head. It caused him a headache. He stepped down the stairs of the over head platform that allowed one access to the upper areas above the device, and went to the ground of the floor, where the spectra pools were. He stepped into the elevator slowly, hoofstep by hoofstep.
As usual, the bottom-most floor, the snow factory, tempted him. Because he could walk out the door soon after, and forget all of this. Do anything he wanted. Yet for some reason, he couldn’t. It was like whatever deity existed wanted him to stay here and suffer this cruel fate for the rest of his old forsaken life. Well, that, and the cameras would catch him.
Instead, he selected the floor directly below him, where the holding cells were.
While he was in the elevator, he kept his look. He was going into the area the holding cells were in, where the resources were held. While they could probably hear him, it didn’t matter. He could speak to himself in there. Hide could let everything he needed out, so that he could keep up the psycho pony act.
He needed out though, out before he actually did become a psycho pony. Before something terrible happened. Before he goes completely insane like ol’ Contrail over there.
He stepped into the room, and walked down the hallway.
“Why, why do I have to do these things? Is there some kind of deadly evil at work here?”
Crestacio could hear him. He had woke up and almost immediately screamed, realizing his wings were broken. Despite his pain, he listened to the red Pegasus in the labcoat outside.
“I… just need out of this mess. I hate it here. Murdering somepony everyday isn’t what I had in mind for my life. I need to be let out…”
Crestacio muttered to himself softly.
“You and me both, brother.”
Blue could hear the oppositely-colored Pegasus outside of her door. She felt sympathy more for him than herself, knowing she was in a bad situation as is.
“Rainbows and bits, that’s all she cares about! She gets on to me for showing even the slightest conscience! Flocking Hell, what did I do to deserve this! I need to lay off the act… somehow… lay off the act…”
Blue looked down at her hooves with a frown, before her broken wings spasmed. This was once again a time she wished she could speak. Even if she had to stay in the cell for the rest of her life, she wanted to help that pony…
Hide walked into the elevator. Another hour of ranting to the already dead. He would be watching at least two of them, he knew. Three evolutions of the Pegasus device, three wastes of lives. Both on the corporation’s part and the murders.
He closed the elevator after two black suited ponies stepped out. He hit the button going up to the third floor.
Blue heard other hoofsteps. She wished she could speak once again, for the millionth time in a row. The guards opened up on the cells.
“Hey, what’re you--?! AUGH, watch it!”
She was surprised. It was Crestacio’s voice! They had come to take him to whatever blasted place they were going for!
She couldn’t help but do anything but listen to his screams down the hallway, before she heard the ding of the elevator.
I’ve stoked the fire, seen more pain than you could know The tears of the broken have washed away my soul…
Pushed by desire, to change the way my stream will flow Now I’m awoken, and I’m taking back control
Hide walked up to the side of the rainbow mare. She had been getting a duller color nowadays, despite what she was like. Her mane, once vibrant and full of life, might as well have been gray.
They maintained a watchful eye on the Pegasus device, speaking very little. It wasn’t long before they heard the shouting.
“Hey! Stop! Let me go!”
He was untied…
“What is this thing? Don’t bucking lock me in there!”
He was locked into the device.
Hoisted up as he kept ranting to be viewed by the ponies. It was the tan pony who was the blue mare…
The dials were messed with quickly. The limbs came off, as the blades raised back up.
He screamed… Another stab to the heart of the doctor. He watched unflinchingly as the needle-blade impaled him, and looked up…
To see the foal looking at him, a gray color adopting to his fur…
It was like the foal thought he was familiar…
“Please… You have… to save… Blue…” The foal died, and the locks released, dropping him into the gears as Spectra of yellow and orange pooled out. He had stared into the doctor’s eyes as he said it… and it hadn’t gone unnoticed.
“Hide. Who’s Blue?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you know that worthless cunt?”
Rainbow quieted. Unable to really base any form of accusation against him, she held shut. The incineration device activated, as the spectra finally finished pumping into the pools.
“Alright… We’ll wait here. GET THE NEXT ONE!”
The guards responded quickly. They ran into the elevator, and quickly went down. Hide looked to his side, and seen something. A shutdown button… his ticket out. He remembered, each generation had a shutdown button in case of a reactor failure.
Blue’s cell door opened, and two ponies grabbed her. She fought as hard as she could, but their over-bearing strength quickly got her tied into position. She was hoisted over a guard’s back, and was taken into the elevator.
She was brought up a floor, and carried out. In front of them, lay a massive device of gears, dials, measurement takers, buttons and all. She looked at it, with a fear and awestruck wonder at the same time. She was plopped to the floor. An angry expression of pain quickly appeared on her face.
They untied her, and picked her up by the hooves as a table like structure came forward. They locked her into it, and it began to hoist her up.
The labcoat pony she saw messed with the dials as the scanner started…
He took off his goggles and stared wide-eyed and what had just happened. She looked over to her side. It was the red Pegasus. He had pressed a shiny silver button, so it appeared, and it shut everything down. The Pegasus Device had ceased functioning…
I’ve tried my best to block out the screams But they’re haunting me in my dreams Please break my shackles I want it to stop!
“What the Tartarus are you fucking doing, Hide?!” Rainbow Dash quickly yelled out, surprised and angered.
“Quitting. What’s it look like?!”
“You can’t quit! Since when in Hell did you get a conscience?!”
“Always have had one!”
He took off, flying up to the Pegasus device where the blue pony was being held, and bucked the locks holding the mute mare in place.
Hide pulled the blue filly over his back, her being too stunned to realize what was going on. He quickly started running toward the elevator, hoofs galloping as fast as he could get them…
Two black suits landed directly in front of him. Rainbow Dash landed behind him, along with the lab coat pony. They walked towards him slowly, angered looks dawning their faces. He couldn’t go to the sides, do the Spectra pools on each. Flying up would cost him do to the ponies being much too close.
“That’s enough, Hide. Stop this madness, and give the cunt back to the device.”
Rainbow Dash looked stunned. She became almost enraged at her subordinate just said.
“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME?!”
“No. No, no, no! I will not give you another pony to murder. I told you; I quit!”
Rainbow Dash screamed back.
“NOPONY TELLS ME NO!” She ran at him with lightning fast speed and jumped, flapping her wings. She was coming at him engagingly; she had finally completely lost her mind.
He stayed calm. He had seen this so many times. She was close. Getting closer, and closer…
He put his hind legs into the air with the right aim and speed at the right time. They collided with Dash’s chest, launching her and causing her wings to close in mid-air.
She flew over the side… directly into the pool of boiling spectra. She let out a scream as her fur and skin dissolved in the mess, burning off. The spectra was quickly ruining with a red pigment of blood and muscle, as a hoof slowly sinked down into it, and Rainbow Dash was no more…
The black-suits stood there stunned. The look of “What the bucking fuck just happened?” emerged on their faces.
Hide picked the filly back up and stepped forward a few steps, going between the two.
The ponies stood there, trying to comprehend the death of their boss and the betrayal of the second-in-command. Hide wasn’t putting on an act anymore. He entered the elevator, and finally accomplished his life-long dream. He pressed the snow-flake embroidered button, going down. He would no longer be in the Rainbow Factory.
The door closed. He looked over to the filly, who was still confused.
“So… what’s your name, filly?”
She motioned to her mane and chest. Hide forgot- she was mute. But he was good enough at guessing.
“Is it Blue?”
She nodded. She opened her mouth, and squeaking came from it slightly.
He had heard that in sincerity for a good act in a very long time. She had just spoken, and to him, to thank him. He felt the tear of joy emerge down his face. He pulled off the Rainbow Factory lab coat-it wasn’t like he would need it anymore.
The elevator door opened back up. They stepped out, and both galloped across the factory, attracting the attention of the workers nearby. The doors opened, and Hide finally saw the sun again…
I’m sick of hurting, sick of thinking it’s all I do I break souls around me, those spared are very few But the bright sun is burning, and my sky shines ever blue Friendship surrounds me, I’m becoming a part of you.
“Well, Mr. Atmosphere-“
“Just call me Hide. But the political term is Dr. Atmosphere.”
“No, just Hide is fine.”
The purple unicorn sighed.
“Well, Hide, I hope you and your… daughter enjoy it here in Ponyville. Has she taken the flight test yet?”
Hide winked at the blue pony behind him.
“Yes, she has. Passed with flying colors. But after her injury she stopped flying so well, so we’re kind of staying… grounded, persay.”
“Ah. Well, as I said, I hope you enjoy it here. And I live at the local library, if you need help with anything. Don’t be afraid to stop by.”
“We’ll see. Thank you.”
The unicorn went off. Hide had already came close to forgetting her name… “Twilight Sparkle” or something like that.
The two pegasi stepped inside the small cottage. It was around eight at night, so Hide turned around and closed the door. This was what he wanted. Retirement…
But something made him lock the door. Blue went up the stairs to the next floor, managing a “good night.”
He was proud, she was finally starting to be able to talk.
Something moved out the window. Odd, Ponyville was supposed to be a peaceful place without supposed ghouls and goblins.
He threw it off, but he couldn’t help seeing something with a rainbow mane out the corner of his eye…
Written by Velvet Rose.