Heart Of Black Ice

White: You Have Earned 100 XP

Objectives:

- Complete recovery (self)

- Internal structure rework (self)

- Attend training (Heavy Hoof)

- Embarrass Dawn (self)

- Improve speech pattern (Heavy Hoof)

- Develop (Twilight Sparkle)

Status:

- Overload 1%

- Damage 0%

- Energy balance +25%

Experiments:

- Potential scenarios (imagination)

- Results of near-shutdown (muscular growth)

- Non-command based descriptions (thought)

When Dawn told Heavy Hoof what happened to us he ordered us to take few days off to rest and relax before starting the training. That would also help him clear his schedule to have enough time for us. It occured to me that I had a unique chance to observe the natural regeneration of this body since Twilight Sparkle didn't provide me with my internal schematics.

The results were... interesting.

It took three days, twenty hours, and thirteen minutes for the 'pain' to go away completely but during that time I found out what environment helps me heal the fastest. The muscle cable tissue reacts well to the energy pulses sent out by the pillar in my room installed by Twilight Sparkle. When Dawn visited she said it made her mane stand up if she was too close but the buzzing felt like a massage. She had to leave soon because the temperature there is not comfortable for ponies and I did not want to overload my internal heating to compensate.

The only time I left my room was to get some food from the guard cantine. The precise designation of said subject was a hay sandwich although the internal structure consisted of only thirteen percent hay, forty-seven percent bread, and the rest were artificial additives. Upon asking the lunchpony about the dichotomy I was told to shut my mouth and start chewing which proved physically impossible. Further research into magic might prove effective in achieving that goal.

Contrary to first expectations, lying on the floor of my room motionlessly did not speed up the recovery too much and upon further experimentation I found out that minor movement, while draining energy, helped the healing. In case of such situation happening again I should contact Twilight Sparkle and ask about the details. The scan of my cable structure did not make sense from physical standpoint which means that to analyze it correctly I will need a way to sense magic. The horn on my head tells me that the capabilities were planned but the correct process might not be running.

I experienced a problem with my command structure. The use of word association worked with high efficiency but gradually became overwhelming and chaotic, every word bringing too much non-essential data into the decision process. Also, the minimization of the used character set was useful at first but overuse made it more difficult to distinguish commands from arguments which led to unnecessary processing capacity use in eradicating false positives. The use of lists seems to be proving a better solution for the moment. The difference in effectivness has been noted and will be observed.

Location:

- Equestria

- Canterlot

- Canterlot castle training grounds

Timestamp:

- Winter

- 13:47

- runtime year 1

Mission: Attend training (Heavy Hoof)

Party:

- Dawn

- Self

- Heavy Hoof

Logging enabled

"I must admit I've never worked with somepony of your kind, Bucket," says Heavy when I put a small crate filled with various practice weapons down on the ground, "and I have only a little experience with mirror world husks and their combat methods."

"No problem," I showcase a word association I learned, "Princess Luna sent us to you so you must be the right pony. I will attend your training and find out the benefits and drawbacks it brings."

"S-s-s-so cold..." Dawn mumbles through chattering teeth, "C-c-can't we d-do this at the-the gym?"

Heavy, wearing nothing aside from a special belt designed to keep his staff on his back, shrugs.

"We could but you need to get used to this, crime doesn't wait for summer. Hold on, aren't you one of Rising Thunder's recruits? The old hardass is running his guys ragged an hour earlier than I do every morning."

"S-s-uspended," Dawn scruches her muzzle, rubbing her hooves all over her chest, "I've u-usually w-w-w-worn clothes anyway."

"It's no problem if you bring something next time but I'd advise against it, the weather isn't that bad. All you need is to move a little and your coat will be enough. Let's start with something simple - sixty pushups."

Objective added

Dawn groans but starts immediately. I, on the other hoof, believe more information would help matters. After all, last time we tried to complete an objective almost proved disasterous for no good reason.

"What is the preferred and most effective method of doing so?"

Heavy smiles at me and shakes his head when he looks at Dawn's head bobbing up and down.

"The best way not to hurt yourself is to stretch first, get your blood, or motor oil or whatever, flowing, and then split the exercise into parts fitting for you. In the case of sixty I prefer doing ten to warm up, stretch, then thirty as the main load, stretch, and wind down during the final twenty."

Dawn stops when she hears that.

"Huh? Sargeant Thunder always wants his recruits to do what he says as fast and as directly as possible."

"Well, the sargeant training me when I first came to Canterlot used to give us assignments and was dead set on us working through what he said and finding the best way to do it ourselves. If we found a way to get out of something he said because he worded it incorrectly then it was a bonus."

"That sounds sketchy."

32

33

34

"It might at first but he's always said that a guard needed head for more than just a thing to hang helmet on. A proof of that was that his recruits beat Rising's two years in a row during the mountain training for the finals."

Objective completed

"Where is he? I mean now it's just you, sargeant Thunder, and commander Darkness teaching."

"You are here to get in shape again, miss Dawn, so get going. Start over and this time do it correctly."

"On it, sir."

"Heavy is just fine. Well, Darky should be coming back from her vacation any day now and Blazing isn't a guard sargeant anymore."

Input: bitter undertone detected

Search: Blazing *

Entry found (Twilight Sparkle)

Species: unicorn / M

Primary color: bronze, black

Secondary color: blonde, blue

Cutie mark: img_28_doubleCircles, none

Standing: friendly

Threat Level: extreme

Name: Blazing Light, Mistake

Status: Nightguard, special agent, potential ascendant

Measurements: N/A

Damage type: physical(high), thaumic(insignificant), other(deadly)

Notes: keep under observation (Twilight), connection to Void (Twilight), father of queen Guiding Light (Twilight), split personality (Twilight), dead (Twilight), undead (Twilight), contruct (Twilight)

Add new descriptor: Connections

Search: Void

Entry found (Twilight Sparkle)

Species: alicorn / M

Primary color: black

Secondary color: black-purple

Cutie mark: img_05_blackHole

Standing: ally

Threat Level: deadly

Name: Void

Status: alicorn of Death, keeper of the Underworld

Measurements: N/A

Damage type: physical(extreme), thaumic(average), other(deadly)

Notes: past conflict with Celestia (Twilight), no imminent threat (Twilight)

Connections: Celestia, Blazing Light

"Blazing Light?" I need to make sure my entry is correct.

"Yes."

"My database entry says he is dead."

"It's complicated and it would take too much time to explain."

add connection: Heavy Hoof; Blazing Light

"Done!" wheezes Dawn.

"Good. Feeling warmer?" Heavy pats Dawn's head.

"Hm? Yeah, I do."

"Then let's get to business. Princess Luna wants me to teach you something about weapons. You should know the polearm basics, Dawn, the problem is that I have no idea what Bucket here can do."

"He hits like a hammer," she looks at me proudly.

"Weapon profficiency - three percent with a polearm. Other profficiencies - zero."

"Which means?" Heavy scratches his muzzle, "Sorry, I'm not THAT good with machinery."

For some reason I do not want to share my inadequacy but a request is a request.

"The probability of defeating an opponent of average skill and matching physical attributes is close to three percent."

Heavy chuckles.

"Don't worry about it. There is nothing like 'average'. Everypony has advantages and disadvantages and the same goes for every style. For example-"

Balance loss: cause - Heavy Hoof

Analysis: 180 degree spin

Prediction: end on the back

Brace for impact

No damage sustained

Restore balance... success

Vocalize

"That method seems uneffective."

"Woooooooooow," Dawn breathes out.

"That was... unexpected," Heavy nods his head, eyebrows raised, "Good job, you're extremely flexible it seems. Stand up on your hind legs, please."

New motion

Overload 38%

Balance gained.

"Good," Heavy stands up on his hind legs as well, "Now try to stay like that."

Balance loss: cause - Heavy Hoof

Analysis: push

Prediction: end on the back

No damage sustained

Restore balance... success

Vocalize

"Standing still is impossible."

"Okay," Heavy nods, "Do the same to me and watch what I do."

I push Heavy with requested strength and instead of standing still he immediately moves one of his legs behind to counter the force. Immediately after that he pushes one of his front legs to my belly and heaves. I make a little arc over his head and end up on my back again. This time the impact is much stronger but still not enough to cause damage.

I learned few tricks myself during my recovery period. No matter what my muscle cables are made from they still conduct electricity and according to the laws of physics the current going through a material creates an electromagnetic field around said material which in my case means that the field cushions the impact of steel of my armor into the half-organic cables.

!warning! Power spike detected

Overload 89%

Damage 2%

Energy balance: -59%

It, of course, drains a lot of energy for a short while.

"An effective strategy," I comment, "for temporary concussion."

"It works better on ponies than on you I guess," Heavy coughs, "No matter, if you can do it on the fly you should be able to incapacitate anypony. As for your stance... one of the magazines I got from Blazing said a pretty accurate thing - you are not solid as a rock but you should flow like water."

"No liquid parts found."

"It's a metaphor. Take it like this, when you were standing still I pushed you and you fell. When you pushed me I immediately changed my stance to counter that."

"I should react fast to counter the force affecting me."

"That wouldn't work. These are basics where reaction time might save you but most of the time you will need to predict what will happen in advance to avoid it."

I try to imagine all possible attacks from Heavy's current position and fail miserably.

"Too many possible scenarios."

"That will come with experience. You will find out that what ponies can do from a certain stance is limited and once you can get into the mind of your enemy there will only be few real and effective options. Are you listening, Dawn?"

"Yes, sir," she salutes, stomping the ground to keep herself warm.

"Good, same goes for you. Let's move around a bit to keep warm. What weapon do you prefer?"

"Sargeant Thunder taught us the basics with a spear and a staff. I prefer the spear, it looks more... guard-y."

"And all the trouble are on the other end of a long stick, right? No problem, the basics are similar if you're going for non-lethal combat. Grab a practice spear and let's see what you can do."

Weapon analysis: practice spear

- a long wooden pole with a small pink pom-pom on one end filled with chemicals causing extreme stinging on hit.

Weapon analysis: custom staff (Heavy Hoof)

- a collapsible steel staff with spring-powered mechanisms on both ends for currently unknown use

Vocalize

"What is the purpose of the springs on your weapon, Heavy?"

"Oh, these?" he twitches his hooves, something in the staff clicks, and a curved blade slides out of each end, making the staff look like a double scythe, "I prefer not hurting ponies but it's not always possible. I haven't had to use these yet but it doesn't hurt to be careful."

"I think I've just peed myself," Dawn chuckles, looking at the instrument in Heavy's hooves, and the blades slide back.

"Don't worry. I would use a normal practice weapon but it helps being used to the weight and the wooden staves are too light. Show me what you've got then."

Non-lethal combat: Dawn x Heavy Hoof

Weapons: Spear x Staff

Prediction: Heavy Hoof; victory (100%)

Few quick movements later Dawn plants her face into the stomped snow. Heavy's short and fast movements are a complete mismatch for her trying to swing or stab her weapon with as much strength as possible to break his balance and guard.

"Ooooh kaaaay... where to begin?" Heavy whistles, "What if I give you some motivation? Let's say that if you manage to hit me I'll find a big enough room inside the castle and give you lessons there from now on."

Dawn immediately grabs the spear and stabs upwards where Heavy isn't standing at all. A slap of steel on her rump sends her face back into the snow.

"And fight fair, Dawn," Heavy says seriously, "I'm here to teach you what skill is, not luck."

She stands up and looks at the ground.

"Sorry, sir."

"No harm done, let's go."

Even with Heavy just defending himself she's unable to land a single hit on him and whenever she mispositions herself way too much a quick push sends her back to the ground. This keeps repeating over and over for half an hour until Dawn just stays down on the ground, legs too weak to get back up.

"What about you, Bucket?" Heavy turns to me and twirls his staff.

"I see no chance of victory."

"So? Maybe you'll find a weakness while practicing."

"I've spent all this time reevaluating my physical attributes and comparing them with yours. I am stronger and more agile but I still see no chance of victory."

"The griffon grandmasters say that the mindset is half of the battle. Try to believe you can win."

"Falsehood."

"That's why it's called belief. You don't need to believe in what's true because you can touch it. I don't know how your mind works but tell me what has to happen for you to beat me."

"I don't know. Your movements seem faster than they are but that cannot be correct. I need to overcome the inconsistency."

"Let's do the same thing as I did with Dawn, I'll defend myself and you attack me. Unfortunately, I'm not as good with my hooves than I'm with my staff so our training might not have so quick results."

Attempt 1: Brute force

Failed

No damage caused

My straight punch to his chest is dodged by a quick spin. I graze him but not hard enough to even push him a little. Avoiding a straight blow by just turning his torso seems too easy then.

Attempt 2: Area of effect

Failed

No damage caused

This time I try a wide swing as I jump to him. Unfortunately, his balance on hind legs is way too good and he jumps backwards, completely avoiding the blow. I need to somehow block his escape paths and land a hit.

Attempt 3: Sequence

Critical failure

Counterattack

Restore balance... success

Damage 2%

It should have worked. By all calculations it should have worked. Only... it didn't. I punched with my left front leg to make him move the other way to dodge. I stepped towards him so he couldn't dodge backwards out of my reach. In the last part I punched with my front right hoof hard enough to break his guard. It failed completely because he wasn't there. No, he was there but before the punch chould connect I got grabbed and thrown on the ground just like the first time.

"I don't understand. You ended up where you should have ended according to my calculations. I am faster movement-wise and reaction-wise. Why didn't it work?"

"Heh, you seem smarter than Dawn at least. Sorry, miss," Heavy waves at the pile of misery still breathing heavily on the ground, "At least you asked. Your bait was good enough and would have worked against anypony who didn't know exactly what you would do. Your problem is that you're predictable. Both of us knew where this would end and I just thought a step ahead."

Imagine scenarios

Allocate more processing power

Overload 26%

More resources required

Overload 87%

"One more, sir, please," I say, snow melting around me.

"As you wish."

A quick jab exactly like last time. Dodged in the same way.

He will go right and back.

Jump forward, straight into him.

He always uses as little movement as necessary, making him faster because he doesn't waste any time by winding up attacks. Overload motor functions to counter this method temporarily.

Overload 98%

This time he has to take a step back which doesn't allow him to grab my outstretched hoof. I spin around him faster than he can turn and crouch, ready to strike upwards to his kidneys and cause a paralyzing but not overly dangerous wound.

Wait! He's not trying to turn around. Am I too fast for him? ERROR.

The last thing I see before everything goes blurry is a set of hooves rapidly closing in on my face.

Status:

- Overload 0%

- Damage 24%

- Energy balance +1%

"That was scary," Heavy whistles, "You really are crazy fast. Still predictable though."

While getting ready to strike upwards I wasn't in position to move fast enough to dodge as he dropped back on all fours and just bucked up with his hind legs. Just one unarmed hit almost took out my ocular sensors and some more sensitive ones are recieving distorted signal. Plus the shock to entire system will slow me down for short period of time.

"I am unable to fight effectively anymore," I state the fact of my utter defeat, "Further training will be useless in my temporary state."

"Fine then. Dawn?"

"Non-functioning. Beep. Boop," Dawn imitates me, "Unexpected error happened during leg movement."

Falsehood detected

"Liar liar, pants temperature currently rising," says Heavy and chuckles as both of us look at him, "Beep boop, motherlovers."

"Better looking, better with weapons, better fake robot..." grumbles Dawn while walking straight to the castle.

What an interesting, and depressing at the same time, afternoon.

Replay combat record

Over and over and over...

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