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Long ago, the great kingdom of Araea was connected to the world by the mystical Rainbow Bridge, a magical artifact of unbelievable power. But one day, an Event happened, and the great bridge fell into the sky, never to return again.
In the beginning of history, many a brave and daring pony attempted to reach this place of legend, but their courage was doomed from the start, for none could brave its dangers. Eventually, after many hundreds of years, the memory of its wonders of steam and metal became the talk of stories, told by elders around the campfire at night.
And so, the land atop the forlorn peak of the World’s Spire faded from pony memory, disappearing into the mists of time as if it never were. But this story is not about this, this story begins...
"You do know you're insane, right?"
"Hopefully, otherwise this is probably going to kill me."
Mira "Minion" Gears shook her head in disbelief as her best friend double-checked the straps attaching his ill-conceived, and highly dangerous, attempt at a personal flying machine to his back. For as long as she had known him, Gadgets "The Deathsmith" Gyros had been building one crazy, suicidal contraption after another in his grandfather's workshop, always with the same dream: "I'm going to fly to Equestria and meet the Princess, then I'll get my wish!"
But none of them ever worked and most of the attempts had only flown the adventurous earth pony to the nearest hospital; some he almost hadn't come back from entirely. It wasn't that he was stupid, in fact, Gadgets was the smartest pony Minion had ever met, it was just that he had never understood the importance of actually testing his devices before trying to use them.
The stallion's enthusiasm and will were unbreakable, however, often to the point of sheer folly, and he had bounced back after each failure more determined than ever before.
"Okay, Minion, prepare to be amazed. This time, I'm gonna fly!" with a snap of his neck, Gadgets yanked the final cord and punched the bright red button.
Several things happened at once: the backpack like device on his shoulders exploded to reveal a pair of glittering bronze wings, Minion gasped, eyes alight with horrified anticipation, and the never-say-never colt shot into the sky.
For a moment, all Minion could hear was the fading sounds of her best friend's insane, bubbling laughter in the wind, and the beating of her own heart against her ribs. Then with a whoosh a black, vaguely pony-shaped something rushed by her face, barely missing her snout.
"It works! It wo-o-o-orks!" came the cry of triumph over the wind.
Minion found herself laughing and crying at the same time as her greatest, craziest friend soared through the air on wings of gold and copper. Gadgets flew with all the skill and ease of seasoned cloudshepherd, artificial wings catching the sun and refracting it into a thousand spotlights on the cliffs below, dazzling dozens of critters with their splendor.
"I can't believe you did this, you crazy fool! You're flying! You're actually flying!" Minion jumped up and down on the forest loam, waving her hooves in the air as the dream of a lifetime unfolded before her eyes.
Landing with an easy grace, his metallic hoof clicking against bare stone, Gadgets returned to earth. With the barest flick of his neck, he folded the wings against their master's back. The colt's triumphant grin turned into one of pained shock as his ribs were crushed against his aviator's vest by the bone-shattering hug Minion tackled him with.
"You idiot! You absolute, hoof-clenching, mare-biting, dunderheaded, feathers-for-brains, idiot! You did it!" Minion could not adequately express her joy as she spun the stunned stallion around and around. Screaming insults and compliments at him as the fears and worries of a lifetime of failure flooded away. Gadgets allowed his friend to do as she pleased, his smile returning even as what little air remained in his lungs screamed at him to detach the squealing thing from his throat.
At last, the cherry-red unicorn realized her mortal friend was dying of asphyxiation and released him, coughing and spluttering (but still grinning), to the ground.
"How did you do it? What went right this time? How come you didn't tell me sooner that you'd figured it out?!" The barrage of questions went on and on, Minion's girlish excitement dissolving into scientific curiosity as the engineer inside her took over.
Gadget rubbed his throat gingerly with his left forehoof, jingling the dozen or so watches that adorned his remaining limb as he did. "I found a new metal, light-weight and immensely strong, hidden under Grandfather's old forge. After that it was a simple matter of re-distributing the weight to counterbalance the distribution of a pony-in-flight and after a few adjustments to the controls, bingo bango. I can fly."
Gadgets buffed his mechanical hoof against his vest nonchalantly, smirking at his own cleverness, his green and turquoise eyes sparkling with mad fire. Minion rolled her eyes in mock annoyance even as her own grin threatened to split her face into two. They stood like that for a few minutes in comfortable silence until Minion draped her hoof around the slightly smaller pony's shoulders and steered him towards home.
"Alright, Mr. I-Can-Fly, Mom and Dad are probably worried sick about you. Let's get home and share the good news."
Gadgets grinned mischievously and raced off, toppling her into the dirt. Through the muck and the dust she heard him calling: "Loser tells them I went flying again, winner gets to say it worked!"
With a laugh that swept the shadows from her heart, Minion charged after, hooves pounding the forest loam furiously. Back to home, back to what little of her family she had left, and back to the workshop in which she and Gadgets had built their dreams together.