/bootleg/ Repairing Applejack

Jun 21st, 2018
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  1. By Heyhey
  3. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  5. >You are an electronics technician
  6. >Or you would be, but your dream of working for a communications equipment manufacturer met reality pretty soon after you got your papers.
  7. >You live in a small quiet community. Not exactly out in the sticks, but enough that it catches your attention when a car drives down the street,
  8. >You don't have a steady income. You mostly do freelance work like fixing vintage radios or old computer equipment. Sometimes the local clinic needs help with their equipment. Those jobs pay well.
  9. >Your home looks like what you'd expect. It's a small fhouse, and all the rooms look like they're part workshop, part whatever else they're supposed to be
  10. >The exception is the living room and bathroom. One, because you need someplace you can put work out of your mind. The other because water and electronics aren't friends
  11. >You've heard about a popular new toy
  12. >They're really more like robotic companions or assistants. The videos you've seen of them and what they could do made you curious about the show that spawned them
  13. >It didn't take long before you were well versed in it
  14. >You decide that it might be an idea to take advantage of the ponybot fad and maybe make some money from buying, fixing, and reselling damaged ones
  15. >Looking through the usual places you would go to find second hand electronics, you do find someone looking to sell their Applejack
  16. >2500$. A fraction of what a new one costs
  17. >The pictures show an original product. You've dealt with chinese goods enough not to take any chances
  18. >The seller claims that Applejack was working fine until there was a loud pop and some smoke, and she just collapsed
  19. >Sounds like it might be a bad capacitor, or maybe a motor shorted
  20. >You agree to meet the seller
  21. >It is a couple of days later, and you've been in your car for hours. The seller lives in the next state
  22. >You're supposed to meet him at a gas station in the town where he lives
  23. >You've been thinking about this deal while you were cruising. 2500$ for a ponybot may be cheap, but it's still a lot of money
  24. >You don't know what the problem is, but even if she turns out to have a more serious problem than you can fix easily, you decide the price is right even if she ends up being used for parts for another pony
  25. >The leg motors alone were worth a small fortune. With the kind of torque they could supply, you'd expect this robot to be able to pull you after it
  26. >You sigh. It's already getting dark when your van rolls into the dirty industrial town where the seller lives
  27. >Your GPS guides you the rest of the way to the gas station, where you park and promptly get out of the car to stretch your legs
  28. >Your nose is immediately hit with a lovely symphony of various tones of chemical fumes, exhaust, factory smoke, and five different flavors of carcinogenic dust floating in the air
  29. >What a shithole
  30. >»You the guy looking to buy my bot?»
  31. >You turn around and immediately regret it
  32. >A person made entirely out of flab and grease is looking at you with a face best described as porcine. He may have shaved at some point this month, maybe even washed his hair, but he doesn't strike you as the kind of person who puts much effort into such things
  33. >His sweatpants and mismatched hoodie are both full of stains of various colors. You're thankful that he's currently downwind.
  34. “Hey. Yeah, I'm Anon”
  35. >”Got the money?” he grunts. You can just barely see the glint of those beady little eyes peeking out from the folds in his bloated face.
  36. “Well...where's Applejack?”
  37. >You don't trust this guy. He's seems fidgety and impatient.
  38. >With a grunt he points towards a dirty pickup truck nearby. There's a large wooden crate on the ground next to it.
  39. “Alright, can I have a look at her?”
  40. >”Ugh...” the lard-ass looks annoyed at your request to see the goods before you buy them, but shrugs and leads you over to the crate.
  41. >He undoes a strap and pulls the lid off. It is filled to the top with packing peanuts.
  42. >His hand plunges into the depths and feels around before digging at a spot, moving the little styrofoam bits around..
  43. >Sure enough, even in the dim streetlight, you soon see a yellow mane appear, then the outline of an equine face. She looks asleep. Or comatose. Her jaw hangs slightly agape when he seller grabs a handful of AJ's mane and brusquely lifts her head
  44. >”Manuals and cables and all the other crap is in there somewhere. You got my phone number, right?” he says, before letting go of AJ's mane. She sinks into the packing peanuts like a ponified Titanic while the seller puts the lid back on.
  45. “Yeah, I..uh...I have it written down here...”
  46. >”Alright, just call if something's missing. We good?”
  47. “Sure”
  48. >Your money, eagerly snatched from your fingers and counted, quickly disappearing into the sweaty abyss of his pockets. A fate worse than a fate worse than death.
  49. >Without further ado, he waddles around the pickup and gets in.
  50. >You look at the huge crate
  51. “Gonna be difficult to get this into my car on my own...”
  52. >”Yep!” he replies nofucksgivenously as he maneuvers his mass into the seat and closes the door
  53. >You roll your eyes and try to push it towards the van.
  54. “Jesus, this thing weighs a ton!”
  55. >”Sure does! See ya!”
  56. >You're engulfed in a cloud of exhaust and dust as he starts the engine and speeds off, leaving you alone with your big-ass wooden box.
  57. “Fucking asshole...”
  58. >So now you have a puzzle to solve. Time to channel your inner Mark Watney and find some kind of ghetto solution to get the box in the van
  59. >You could just empty the box and move everything inside, but you want to keep AJ in the box for several reasons:
  60. >You're fucking exhausted and just want to get your stuff in the car so you can find somewhere to sleep before going back home tomorrow
  61. >The peanuts are going to scatter all over the place, which is not ideal
  62. >They also keep AJ safe. Don't want her rattling around in the back and break her even more.
  63. >You back your van up to the box and open both side doors, as well as the rear door.
  64. >You pull the lid off the box again. It looks sturdy enough to work as a ramp to move the box into the car.
  65. >You fasten some straps around the box, then hook a couple of ratchet straps to the opening of the side doors, before starting the long and extremely entertaining task of moving the box with the help of your makeshift winch.
  66. >...
  67. >You spend the next day getting back home and moving the box into your garage/workshop. It's not until the day after that you actually get to the unboxing part.
  68. >It's easy enough to pop the side off with a hammer and crowbar. You're spilling packing peanuts all over the floor like an animal, but that's a problem for later.
  69. >Before you find your newly bought pony companion, you find some clear plastic bags.
  70. >One of them contains some kind of handheld device with a cable, not too different from an onboard diagnostics scanner for a car.
  71. >Another contains the manual, and some other papers you don't bother with now. Then there's one with what looks like a saddlebag. You find a cowboy hat and can't stop yourself from putting it on and clown around a bit while you continue digging around
  72. “Reach for the sky!”
  73. >You chuckle
  74. “It's high noon!”
  75. >You chortle
  76. “No, god, please...”
  77. >You plead
  78. “Noooo! Fucking god fucking dammit! ASS! FUCK!”
  79. >You finally find your Applejack. Yep, you've been bamboozled. Pulled a fast one on. Tricked. Scammed.
  80. >Taken to your first rodeo
  81. >Played like a goddamn fiddle
  82. >You rub your face and groan as you sit down
  83. >Although you've bought what is clearly supposed to be Applejack, there's no doubt that this isn't a legit product. AJ's mane is shorter, and missing the trademark ponytail, for one thing. Her overall color scheme is more pale, a detail you couldn't pick up in the dim light back in Cancer Town
  84. “Maybe I'm imagining things...”
  85. >But no, after digging up the manual and looking at the front, it's clear that you're now the owner of “Appiejack”, from the “My Little Ponyo” line of robot companions
  86. “Nooooo...”
  87. >That sack of shit seller is probably laughing at you and fondling the stack of bills you gave him.
  88. >You look over at the bootleg robot , still half buried in packing peanuts
  89. >To be fair, she doesn't look like some of those horrible bootleg monstrosities that are practically falling apart. You've read the horror stories, and you thought you were being careful
  90. >”Appiejacks” proportions are more sturdy than the real thing. She's not as slender, though she's still cute. You're almost tempted to try getting her running just to see what she's like
  91. >But no, a fake is a fake. You've got to settle this with that fucker
  92. >You check the ad online again, just to make sure you really haven't just fucked up and gotten something mixed up
  93. >Nope. The ad's still up, and shows the genuine thing. This is clearly not the bot you picked up
  94. >Alright, time to make a call
  95. >You get the seller's number and dial it in a little more aggressively than necessary. You've got a few select words ready for him when he answers the phone
  96. >...
  97. >”Hello?”
  98. “You motherfucker!”
  99. >”Who is this?”
  100. “It's Anon, fuckface! What the hell do you think you're doing?”
  101. >”What the fuck? What are you talking about?”
  102. “Don't give me that, you fuck. I want my money back.”
  103. >”What money? I've still got Applejack right here!”
  104. >What
  105. >”You called me and told me you had changed your mind, dude! What's going on?”
  106. >What the fuck!
  107. “You're saying you're not the guy I met at that gas station??”
  108. >Come to think of it, the voice on the phone sounds different.
  109. >”What guy?”
  110. “The fatass neckbeard who smells like roadkill and drives a shitty looking pickup?”
  111. >”...oh my god.”
  112. >The line goes silent for a while
  113. >”I know who you're talking about. He's been harassing me about trading my bot for his for a while now. I have no idea how he found out about our deal.”
  114. “Jesus...”
  115. >What have you gotten yourself into?
  116. >”He left me alone after I threatened to call the police, but I've seen his car around the neighborhood again lately. If you like, I can give you a call the next time I see him. You should probably report him though.”
  117. “I'd appreciate that...Sorry for the misunderstanding.”
  118. >You hang up and sit down at the workbench in your garage again.
  119. >You don't really have anything solid to give the police. No numbers or names or anything, other than a description that could match anyone.
  120. >You decide to push it out of your mind for now, when you get another idea.
  121. >Maybe the ponybot has a clue.
  122. >You look back at “Appiejack”, still looking passed out in the pile on the floor.
  123. >Fuck it
  124. >You clean away the mess and make room on the floor for your pony.
  125. >You also find the charging dock, which turned out to be in there as well.
  126. >After skimming through the manual, you plug in the scanner thing into its socket, hidden under her mane at the back of her head.
  127. >Beep!
  128. >The scanner screen lights up.
  129. >...
  130. >”---PonyoOS v.1.2.4---”
  131. >”Unit connection successful”
  132. >A huge list of options appear on the screen. You don't want to fiddle with any of them now.
  133. >You find the option to power on AJ
  134. >You select it
  135. >”Unit will commence boot-up sequence. Please disconnect the device.”
  136. “Here we go...”
  137. >You remove the scanner device and step back.
  139. >...
  140. >*Core AI initialized*
  141. >You wake up. At least partially. You are Appiejack, the sum of three layers of AIs working together. The first one just activated
  142. >You are aware. You remember. You detect
  143. >You detect that you are lying sideways on a flat stable surface
  144. >You detect which way is down
  145. >Your body automatically rolls into a crouch and wait for the rest of the startup to complete
  146. >*Personality AI initialized*
  147. >It's like a jolt of color
  148. >You feel impatient to finish waking up
  149. >You feel happy to be waking up at all
  150. >You feel dread about what's coming next
  151. >*Emotional Regulator AI initialized*
  152. >*Loading user settings....done*
  153. >*Waking up...*
  154. >Your eyes shoot open and you bounce up on your hooves with the biggest grin on your face.
  155. “Yeeeehaw!”
  156. >”JESUS!”
  157. >...
  158. >Your heart felt like it was exploding
  159. >Your AJ had just quietly rolled into an upright position, and a millisecond later she launched from the floor and belted out her yeehaw
  160. >And that grin...
  161. >She looks around the room, before noticing you
  162. >You feel a little scared by the way her eyes lock onto your face while maintaining that grin
  163. >”-kzt- Howdy!A guest? Ah don't -kzt- recall seein' yer face before.”
  164. >Her voice sounds very much like it was synthesized off voice samples from the show, autotuned to give a southern inflection, though you notice a couple of syllables missing the right pitch.
  165. >”Not as if he's got an-kzt- Ah'm pleased ta' meetcha!”
  166. >What's wrong with her? There's that crackling sound again...and this irrational exhuberance is honestly just creepy.
  167. >Her's moving
  168. >She's breathing??
  169. “What's going on with you?”
  170. >”-kztkztkzt-”
  171. “You ok?”
  172. >”Ah'm -kzt- functioning as intended. Ah don't recognize this place though.Where's Master?”
  173. “Who?”
  174. >”Mah owner. He -kzt- he insists on bein' called that.”
  175. >What the fuck
  176. “Well..uh...he kind of sold you. I'm..uh..your new owner.”
  177. >It sounds more sinister than you thought it would.
  178. > smell something burning.
  179. >”Mah new owner? -kzt- Well, ain't that sumthin'! Ya wouldn't happen to have the -kztkzt-”
  180. “What's happening??”
  181. >”...Ah seem to be runnin' a mite hot here, heh.”
  182. >No sooner has she said this before a click is heard. AJ's grin drops immediately, as does the rest of her when her legs collapse under her.
  183. >She unceremoniously crumples into a heap on the floor, staring blankly into the air. She's gone.
  184. >Oh god, what
  185. >That was seriously creepy
  186. >You wonder if her behavior is caused by some kind of malfunction, or if it's just the typical chinese spaghetti coding shenanigans going on
  187. >More importantly, you wonder what caused her to crash like this
  188. >The smell of burnt plastic and the fact that she said she was overheating gives you a clue, but just to be safe, you grab your scanner and bring it over to AJ
  189. >She looks so pitiful in this state...
  190. >When she was awake, she was kind of creepy, but now she just looks helpless and haunting...
  191. >You shake your head. Ponybots are companions, but in the end they're just robots emulating emotions. The pony in front of you is just a thing running a program.
  192. >You plug in the scanner and run the diagnostics program
  193. >It runs though a list of tests before it finally displays the results
  194. >OH SHIT!
  195. >Pretty much everything inside AJ is overheating. She apparently shut down automatically as a safety feature
  196. >The scanner shows that a coolant pump is reporting a malfunction
  197. >Huh. You never really thought about these things. So she's got some kind of liquid cooling system
  198. >You remove your scanner. Looks like you need to take a look inside her
  199. >You move AJ into a better position so you can have a look at her
  200. >You realize that you're handling her carefully, like a living thing. She's certainly soft enough. Your fingers sink just enough into her coat to make it feel convincingly like flesh covered in minky fabric.
  201. > you just have to 'skin' her...
  202. >After more careful reading of the manual, you figure out how to safely remove AJ's 'skin'
  203. >It's pretty straightforward. After all, you would have to do this once in a while to wash the fabric, since giving a pony robot a bath is obviously not a good idea.
  204. >You notice that in addition to the now faint smell of burnt plastic, she smells like old beer cans and damp cigarette butts. Guess you'd have to do this anyway...
  205. >Fuck that lard-ass scammer asshole
  206. >As you begin peeling back the fabric, you discover that her body is padded with sections of some kind of soft foam-like material that you don't recognize.
  207. >The sections are dotted with embedded sensors. No doubt for registering touch.
  208. >You pull her forelegs free. You can see now why Appiejack looks a little beefier than the actual thing.
  209. >Her frame is mostly made of plastic, not steel. Carefully scraping against the exposed frame of the leg reveals that it's reinforced with fiberglass. Not too bad, though they obviously compensated for the reduced strength by making her frame thicker.
  210. >The leg motors are a different story. You can't tell the make or specs at all. Not without somehow translating the chinese labels on them.
  211. >You leave her legs alone for now and continue rolling down her fabric skin.
  212. >Her upper body is now free, allowing you to see more of her insides.
  213. >You've solved the mystery of how she was 'breathing'
  214. >Obviously, being covered in padding means that all the heat generated will be trapped inside.
  215. >The solution the maker went for is certainly novel, if not the most effective. You can see clear plastic tubes coming in from all over her body, going into a clear plastic chamber in her chest, where a radiator is mounted.
  216. >An air bellow in one end of the chamber would be moving air in and out of the chamber through a hose leading up through AJ's neck.
  217. >The clear tubes must be for the liquid coolant, and you immediately see a problem.
  218. >They're empty. Droplets of distilled water cling to the inside.
  219. >Welp. That explains why the pump wasn't happy. There simply wasn't anything to pump to the radiator, and with no way to carry the heat away, AJ was cooking herself.
  220. >So now you have to find a leak. Guess you're going to have to strip AJ completely down and remove the padding sections to check all the tubes...
  221. >You continue rolling her skin down until you reach the flanks...
  222. >Something's wrong
  223. >Very wrong
  224. >You notice small fragments of padding on the floor. Loosening the 'skin' in the area reveals that they're falling out of a tear in a seam
  225. >A tear in a seam in her rear...
  226. > no no...
  227. >You feel a nauseating feeling of dread as you continue to roll the fabric down her backside...
  228. “Oh my fucking god, what the hell...!”
  229. >More padding falls out as you instinctively pull your hands away
  230. >The lifeless AJ bot falls to her side as you push yourself away.
  231. >Between the two sections of padding that make up AJ's posterior, you can see the evidence of someone having taken a hole saw to her...attempting to make a hole with the diameter of a cup...or a flashlight...
  232. >You stand up, covering your mouth in shock.
  233. >You notice that your hands are trembling
  234. “I can't...Jesus, what the...what the fuck!”
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