An Engineered Friendship

by Engiminer


Ten Months Later

Life in Ponyville is one of the best things to happen to me. In my garden, I plant herbs as ingredients in both meals and medicines. Deep underground, machines pound away, smelting and refining precious metals. Ores are brought in by mining robots powered by solar, wind, and hydroelectric power wired in from above. I have enough energy stored to power America in its wasteful entirety for about a week. The robot miners place all their resources into a vacuum-tube system that sorts everything into alphabetically sorted storage chests. Any cobwebs found underground are processed into silk. After keeping a few rolls of silk for future use, I expanded the pipe system to pass the rest on to Rarity at the Boutique. The only jewel I need is diamond (for extremely efficient drill-bits), but since I can make artificial ones from compressed carbon from coal, I have no use for the real ones. So I keep a couple jewels to admire in my free time, and the rest are also passed on to Rarity. However, I asked Rarity to continue to take Spike on jewel-digging expeditions once a week, for his sake. Of course, Spike normally ends up eating most of the jewels they find anyway, as Rarity now has more jewels than she knows what to do with.

Civil engineering projects I have undertaken include underground desalination stations, which purify water pumped from subterranean springs and aquifers, then distribute it to water towers all over Equestria. After locating waterfalls while setting up these water towers, I created hidden hydroelectric power stations concealed in the rock, hidden by the very falls that power the stations. The electricity powers many major cities, and quite a few not-so-major ones. I supply factories in major industrial towns with metal and other supplies, and make a great deal of money from it. I am the second richest pony in Ponyville, behind Filthy Rich. I have industrialized my own little section of Equestria.

And now I'm bored. I have nothing else to build, improve, or industrialize. Sure, I do maintenance every now and again on my machines, AJ's auto harvester (I'll get to that in a little while), the desalination stations, etc; but that is usually but replacing a part, changing a battery, or cleaning a filter. When Princess Celestia or Princess Luna stay in their vacation home here in Ponyville, I work alongside Shining Armor as the Captain's right-hoof colt. When they are back in Canterlot, I am Ponyville's Chief of Police.

But who the heck attacks Equestria? Only a complete and utter dick would. So, I have deactivated all my automatic defenses (though I left my security cameras on in case of that complete and utter dick), and every once in a while I put a fresh coat of rust-proof paint on my concealed sentry guns. But when it comes to industry, I'm done.

Of course, I only built things when I wasn't hanging out with my new friends. Or sometimes, I would build as a direct result of hanging with them. For example: I build a spring-loaded launch-pad for Rainbow Dash's crazy stunts. For Applejack's use during applebucking season, I constructed an automatic apple harvester based off of Flim and Flam's cider juicer machine. There are three differences: quality control can't be turned off, the only speed setting is gentle enough not to damage the apples, and juicing is optional. I also designed painless traps that to this day still prevent Fluttershy's chickens from leaving their coop.

But enough about my accomplishments. I know I must be coming across as conceited right about now. So I will summarize what has happened these past ten months. One event in particular stands out:

The entrance to my basement (my base of industrial operations) is iris-locked, hoof-print locked, weight-sensitive pressure plate locked, and voice-recognition-password locked. And an Abrams tank couldn't knock that door down. My basement is DEEP underground (so ponies up above don't hear or feel the pounding of heavy machinery down below), and houses all my machines, pipe system, and all of the entrances into my mines. None of these mines touch the surface, never come close. Even IF other ponies knew my password, they would have to say it in my EXACT voice, so I am the ONLY one with access to my base(ment) of operations. I tell you all this so you know it is IMPREGNABLE.

One day, I went downstairs to turn on my machines. I opened the door at the bottom of the stairwell and...


"SONOFA-!" I whipped out my revolver and had almost taken aim when I realized who had penetrated my security. All of the Mane Six, plus Spike, were standing in front of me! And Pinkie Pie held a giant cake with 17 candles on it! "Gack!" I panted. "How? But... That's... What? You... Gah!" I holstered my .357 magnum and went on a short tirade: "Don't you EVER do that to me again! I lived through a frikkin' zombie apocalypse. I DON'T. LIKE. SURPRISES. Jesus Christ..!"

Pinkie Pie started giggling like crazy. I softened. I just can't stay mad at that happy-go-lucky pony. "Happy 17th Birthday, Engiminer!"

"How did you know it was my birthday? And that I was seventeen? And, more importantly, HOW DID YOU GET IN HERE?!?!"

Twilight chuckled. "I honestly don't know! Pinkie Pie just asked us to close our eyes, and when we opened them, here we were."

Rainbow Dash cut in, "There was no woosh, no bright light, no weird wind, no feeling of motion, no NOTHING! It's as if time froze and we just..." Her voice trailed off as she searched for a good word.

"...And our location just transitioned right under us." Applejack finished for the rainbow-haired mare.

I couldn't resist a jibe. "Ah, finishing each other's sentences for one another now, are we?" I busted up laughing as the pair turned a deep red.

"Now ya'll hold on just an applebuckin' minute..." Applejack protested.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." I gasped out between laughs. "I couldn't resist."

"So, where are we?" Rarity asked, trying to change the subject. "I noticed the machines and the metallic rocks in the pipes overhead. Does that mean we're in your industrial, ah, hub? Headquarters?

I got off the floor, shaking the rest of my mirth away. "My basement, actually." I shot Pinkie a meaningful glare. "The stone-craved room that was supposed to be impregnable."

She gave me a sly wink. "Screw physics. I'm Pinkie Pie!" She said with a mischievous grin.

Applejack spoke up again. "Have ya'll forgot'n what we came here for in the first place?" Blank looks all around.

Fluttershy cleared her throat and pointed at the cake. The candles had almost burned down to the blue icing. Even though my security had been ripped through by Pinkie Pie like it was tissue paper, I couldn't help but grin at the delicious looking cake with its seventeen candles. My friends sang "Happy Birthday" while I sucked up a big lungful of air. As the song ended I shot "bullets" of air out of my mouth to extinguish each candle. My wish? For some way to make my Flutterhugs more frequent.

I brought my broadsword down on the cake to make eight slices, one for each of us. I noticed Spike start drooling.

"Your favorite sword?" Twilight asked. "Are you sure?"

I laughed. "It's not like I have any OTHER use for it." I replied. I passed out the cake. Spike dug in immediately. He pulled his face back a half-minute later, covered in cake and icing.

"Delicious!" He exclaimed. Everypony laughed. I gave the cake a taste. My eyes widened when it touched my tongue. Spike was right. It was heavenly!

"I am not worthy for this recipe! But I gotta have it anyway!" I gushed. The cake was moist, light, and airy, and the frosting was obviously made from scratch. "Did you bake this, Pinks?" I inquired. She was visibly delighted by the question, but she shook her head.

"Nope. I helped and provided a few tips, but I didn't make it. Try again."

I took another taste. I detected a hint of apple cinnamon. That was Applejack's secret ingredient in a lot of her recipes. "AJ? Isn't apple cinnamon YOUR thing?"

She grinned. "Good attention to detail! And it sure is. But Ah only gave the baker a couple ingredients. Ah went nowhere near the stove."

I chewed slowly. "I would guess Mr. and Mrs. Cake, but this has a certain personality that commercial professionalism simply removes..."

Spike: "...Um, in Equestrian, please?"

Twilight elaborated, "I think he means that the Cakes wouldn't be able to put so much personality into the birthday cake because baking is their job."

"Spot on." I replied. I took another bite, but paid close attention to the texture. The cake was light and soft. The frosting was gentle and plush. Both the cake and the frosting gave easily to pressure, but sprang back immediately. Suddenly, the realization smacked me in the face with a rubber glove with a brick in it. "Fluttershy! I didn't know you could bake!"

She blushed and gave me a shy smile. "I had help, of course, Pinkie mostly. The Cakes also gave me a hoof. Angel Bunny found the recipe in a book, but marked out some ingredients, forcing me to improvise."

"Great improv you got there."

I finished my cake and Pinkie started bouncing. "Present time?"

Cue a smart-alack-y remark from yours truly. I check my watch. "Present time is... 1:27 pm." The looks of disappointed surprise made me laugh. "Alright, alright, whatcha got for me?" Sunshine smiles reappeared, and the ponies dashed into the next room.

They wheeled out a cart with one small box, a medium box, a large box, and a huge box. "How's about I work from smallest to largest?" The unicorns grinned at each other, and Dashie, AJ, and Pinks tried hard not to laugh.

I picked up the smallest box and popped the top. Inside was a jumbo jar of zap apple jam and a pair of aviator's goggles. The goggles looked oddly familiar...

"Wait a minute... Rainbow! These aren't Wonderbolt goggles, are they?"

She snickered. "You have no IDEA how hard it was to convince Spitfire that they were for your birthday and not for me!"

"These are SPITFIRE'S?" I asked, incredulous.

She laughed. "No, no. If they were, I'd be keeping them for myself. I did, however, ask her to get a new pair for you. I wasn't exactly begging, but I was definitely pestering. You owe me for that one."

"Agreed. And Applejack? I thought zap apple ended three months ago, and you sold out two weeks later. How..?"

"Zap apple jam keeps for a long time. And no matter how much somepony wants some jam, we always keep some for special occasions," She chuckled here. "and your first birthday seemed special enough."

Spike sighed. "Gee, now I feel bad. I don't have anything to give you."

"Don't feel bad, Spike" I patted his head. "Just being present in present enough!"

"And besides!" Twilight interjected, "this one is from both of us!" She levitated the medium purple box off the cart and set it down with a heavy thud in front of me. I untied the green bow and removed the top. Inside was...

"A typewriter!" Twilight said. "I would have given you a book, but Spike said if you wanted that, you could just come to the library. So I ordered this from Canterlot so you could make write your own!"

Underneath the typewriter was a stack of paper, which Twilight explained was a starter pack. I placed the gift box, typewriter, paper, and all, into a vacuum tube set to {Fragile} and sent it to the surface, where it would find a home in my study.

"Okay! Second to last gift."

This box was lavishly designed, so I didn't even need to glance at the name tag to know it was from Rarity. I opened the top and levitated out a tuxedo. I flashed Rarity a look that said, 'Wait, what?'

Rarity knew what the look meant. "Yes, darling, I know, 'Why am I getting a tuxedo for my birthday?' The Grand Galloping Gala is next week, and you need formal attire for it. You also mentioned you were going to help Shining Armor with security, so... Well, just put it on and you will see the method to my madness."

Rarity helped me get the tux on, and I noticed rather quickly that it was heavy, thick, and stiff.

"Rarity? Is this formal ARMOR?"

"Yes!" She answered. "I left some space in the Kevlar in the sides and top for any gadgets or weapons you might want to put in."

I was impressed to say the least. "How did you work with the Kevlar?" I asked. "That stuff is impossible to work with by hand - er, hoof, yet the suit fits me like a glove - em, sock."

"I didn't do anything with the Kevlar except cut out the gaps. I ordered the form of the Kevlar from YOU, ironically, and made the tux around it. I just put it together."

I looked in a nearby mirror. Normally, I can't stand formal attire, but this looked great. Satin black jacket, white silk undershirt, and a small cute bowtie. "Bowties are cool." I whispered to myself. I am such a Doctor Whooves nerd. I turned back to the group. "I look like a regular James Bond. All I need now are the gadgets!"

"Oh, and by the way," Rarity informed me, "the tux can be separated from the Kevlar for cleaning."

I took a couple minutes to take off the formal armor and put it on a makeshift mannequin.

"Okay! Last one. This one's huge!" The others tried to stifle their guffaws and failed miserably. As I pulled the bow to untie it, I finally noticed a certain pony's absence. "Hey, where's Fluttershy?" I asked, absentmindedly pulling at the bow. The second the knot came loose, my answer hurtled towards me at twenty-five miles per hour.

WHAM!!! Fluttershy hit me with a flying tackle-hug that knocked me to the ground. She squeezed for a good ten seconds before helping me up.

"F-Fl-Flut-Fluttershy?" I stammered, blushing at the affection. "What- Why- How are YOU my present?"

She giggled and gave me another hug before replying. I felt my skin tingle where she made contact. "We realized how bored you were with nothing to build or protect, so I decided to give you a job."

"Uh, a job?" 'Tis confusion!

"Yep. You can be my bodyguard."

I was already sold, but I didn't want to sound so eager so soon. "There's nothing to protect you from."

She was prepared for that argument. "Then it shouldn't be too hard for you to earn an irrefutable salary."

I thought I was going to be "working" for free. "A salary?" I queried. "But for the months that I have been here, I haven't seen any discernable source of income for you, and I have no idea how you manage to take care of all your animals. I doubt you would be able to afford one bit an hour. A day, maybe, but a bit a day isn't exactly what any of us call 'irrefutable.'"

I'd walked right into her trap. She grinned coyly. "I never said your payment would be in bit form." She whislpered to me.

Now I was getting suspicious, not to mention nervous.

"Your hourly wage will be one of these, plus expenses." And with that she gave me another hug, this one more gentle and heartfelt than the other two. "Expenses will also be paid in hugs." Helloooooo, dream job.

"One more question," I said, returning the hug.

"Hmm?" She pulled her head back to get a better look at my face.

"When do I start?" I asked, grinning from ear to ear.

Fluttershy answered immediately: "Right now, if you want."

"I wonder if this is a coincidence, or if birthday wishes actually come true in Equestria."

Pinkie, the party expert, answered, "That depends on how vague and realistic your wish was. Vague ones can come true, if they are realistic enough. Specific ones are harder to grant."

"How vague is 'I wish my Flutterhugs could be more frequent?'"

"Vague enough to be granted! Still, you're lucky. Granted wishes aren't normally that generous."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well," Pinkie replied, "You got a hug like, what, once a week? Now you're gettin' 'em hourly! That's a big improvement if you ask me."

"True." I smiled and gave Fluttershy another squeeze.

"Group-hug!" Applejack hollered. Ya know, a group hug with six other ponies and a baby dragon is very warm. What a perfect end to a birthday.