Mechanized Misadventures

by Some Leech

Power Play

“And you’re sure this isn’t going to kill you?” Anon asked, shuffling to the side and peering up at Fortuna.

Twisting over and peeking down at the man, she shrugged. “It shouldn’t. Considering I was deactivated for as long as I was, prior to your intervention, I doubt going without power will d-d-d…”

Her limbs and head went slack, while the light faded from her eyes. Wrinkling his nose, Anon reached around and applied a bit of percussive maintenance to the small internal combustion engine that kept her up and running. The motor coughed and sputtered, briefly recovering and bringing her back to life. Unfortunately for the both of them, the critical component was on its last legs.

“My thanks, Traveler,” she sighed, shaking her head. “But no, I don’t believe disconnecting the engine will do any harm.”

Glancing over his shoulder at his solution for her problem, Anon swallowed hard. Equestrian technology was a bit different from what he was used to on Earth - sure, there were some commonalities, such as coal-fired or gasoline engines, but some of the shit in horse-land bordered on mystical. Having never encountered a motor like hers, yet realizing he had to find something to keep her operational, he’d relied on what little mechanical know-how he had to cobble together a replacement.

“Alright,” he grumbled, repositioning himself behind her, “I’ll try to make this as quick and painless as I can.”

“Take your time,” she announced, “I’m i-i-in no hurry.”

Keeping his fingers crossed, Anon issued a silent prayer to whatever deity would lend him an ear, extended his arm, and disabled the engine. Though he couldn’t see her, being squatted down behind her booth, he listened to her clockworks grind to a halt. If he was lucky, the crystal matrix power supply he’d salvaged from a washing machine would dramatically reduce her little hiccups, but there was no guarantee it’d work as he intended.

Even though he knew it wasn’t the same as open heart surgery, he moved with a purpose. He’d already removed the mounting screws to her engine, after trying to fiddle with the damn thing to get it running smoothly, so sliding it out and unplugging it was easy enough - nevertheless, that did little to quell his unease. For all he knew, the substitute power supply may blow up in his face, possibly literally, which is why he’d had the forethought to keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

With a heave and a grunt, he lifted the motor from its compartment and sat it to the side. If his plan worked, he had every intention of dismantling and rebuilding the engine from the ground up, installing new gaskets and restoring it to its original state, but that hinged on if the generator he’d procured actually worked. Slotting the significantly newer power supply into position, he studiously plugged the unit in, closed his eyes, and shakily flicked the switch.

Seconds of silence passed, before he worked up the nerve to peek into her housing. Though the matrix seemed to be working, glowing and softly humming, Fortuna herself seemed devoid of life. Scowling to himself, he rose to his full height and stepped around to fully face her. If nothing else, he could take solace that his little experiment hadn’t ended with a catastrophic bang - that said, he’d be less than pleased if it hadn’t worked.

“Hey,” he announced, reaching into her case to softly pat her cool cheek, “you’re not dead, are you?”

Nothing, not a peep. Glancing up at her marquis, seeing that it was backlit, he scratched his chin. The generator was clearly working at some capacity, at the very least partially powering her systems, but it seemed as though something had gone awry. Turning his attention to her coin slot, he dug around in his pocket for a bit. Feeding the coin into her failed to produce any result other than a cold pit forming in his stomach.

Reaching into her booth, lifting and setting her turban to the side, he gazed at the crystal ball resting atop her head. He still wasn’t sure exactly how the sphere worked, or if it had any bearing on her functionality, but giving it a closer look certainly couldn’t hurt anything. As he wiped a bit of dust off the orb, leaning closer to her statuesque figure, the glint of something behind her caught his eye.

He’d always assumed that the curtain to her rear simply covered a wooden back panel, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. Brushing aside the cloth, he stiffened slightly. An dizzying array of vacuum tubes, electronic components, and what sure as shit appeared to be some sort of rudimentary chips sat to her rear. While he couldn’t be totally certain, he couldn’t help but feel like he was looking at her brain - that or something equally important.

Welcome, Traveler, I am Mistress Fortuna! What mysteries does…” she cut herself off, as she twisted her head to look at him. “I presume your endeavor was a success?”

“You tell me,” he countered, withdrawing to stand before her. “How are you feeling?”

Without saying a word, she launched into the most absurd display he’d ever seen. The lights in and about her person flashed and strobed, she waggled her arms to her sides, and a deluge of fortunes sailed from the slit beneath her coin slot, nearly forcing him to step back in surprise. Having half expected his makeshift solution to her problem to fail, the resounding success instantly brought a smile to his face.

“It appears as everything is operating properly,” she chirped, beaming over at him. “Once again, you prove yourself to be an invaluable friend.”

“Just don’t go doing anything too crazy. Until you get used to it, I’d hate for you to accidentally overload something somewhere,” he added, noticing her right eye flicker.

Though it seemed relatively inconsequential, given that she could apparently see perfectly fine out of it, he really wanted to either replace or repair her optic. The glass lens had been cracked ever since he’d found her, the backlight was either dying or had a short, and the aperture would occasionally stutter open or closed - the only problem was that he wasn’t sure how to fix the issue. With her manufacturer being an utter mystery, the chances of procuring a new eye for her seemed slim to none.

“It really doesn’t bother me,” she remarked, batting a hoof and giving him what may have been an unintentional wink. “It’s been cracked for longer than I remember, to the point where I consider it iconic.”

“Well if it starts being an issue, I’ll do what I can to get it up and running,” he chuckled, pleased that the damage was a nonissue.

Turning in place, he bent over and gathered up the papers she’d all but vomited out. Scrapyard or not, he did his best to avoid making a mess of things. He wasn’t sure if it was funny, sad, or some combination of the two, but finding her had been one of the best things to happen to him since getting to Equestria. Though her eccentricities could and on occasion would result in mild calamities, she’d made his time at work exponentially more enjoyable.

“That one,” she intoned, as he grabbed one of the innumerable cards littering the ground.

Staying his hand, he peeked up and over at her. “What?”

Seeing her grinning broadly, he turned and lifted the cardstock to his face. Being a soothsaying automaton, it was all too common for her to dispense fortunes to ponies - heck, a bunch of the local school colts and fillies had taken to paying her regular visits after classes, but the overwhelming majority of her clairvoyant hijinks were novel at best. More often than not, her sage wisdom consisted of vague, overgeneralized proverbs, although she would occasionally dispense something a bit more prophetic.

Squinting down at the card, he cocked his head.

The Standing Stall
Haystacks and Horseshoes

“And this is…?” he let the question hang, looking to her smug face.

“Do as it says and find out,” she tutted, straightening her turban.

Shifting his focus back to his fortune, he was left perplexed. The Standing Stall was a convenience store just down the road from his house, but he hadn’t a clue about what a Haystacks and Horseshoes was. Glancing down at his watch, seeing that it was only fifteen minutes 'till five, he quirked a brow and looked over at her.

“So I’m supposed to go to the store and ask for this Haystacks thing?” he asked, genuinely confused.

Placidly holding her hooves together, she nodded. “Just so.”

With a small shrug, he stood and brushed himself off. The yard had closed several hours earlier, only being open until noon on Saturdays, and he’d successfully replaced her generator, so he didn’t have a reason not to see what his fortune was about - that and it would probably be a good idea to get home and scrounge up something to eat. More than a little curious about his mystical errand, he turned and trotted to the entrance.

“Just put yourself back in place,” he called, waving a hand back at her, “I’ll be back in the morning.”

“Take care, fair Traveler, and thank you once again,” she shouted.

It took him next to no time to lock up behind himself, turning off all but a single light pole above his friend. Silently musing on what he should make for dinner, he numbly fished the small divination from his pocket and gave it a second inspection. There was a good chance that the prophecy meant nothing at all, but he saw no harm in checking just to be sure.

As he made his way into the Standing Stall, holding the door open for a customer on their way out, he moved to the counter and cleared his throat. “Hey, this might sound weird, but do you have any idea what a Haystacks and Horseshoes is?”

The clerk, a young stallion with braces, gave him an incredulous look and pointed to a display of scratch-off lottery tickets. “You mean those?”

Anon followed the pony’s hoof, spotting a roll of Haystacks and Horseshoes tickets. He wasn’t normally one to waste money on gambling, much preferring to spend his hard-earned cash on something that wasn’t a scam, but his gut told him this should be an exception. Retrieving his wallet, silently promising himself that Fortuna would pay if he was about to waste his money, he slapped five bits on the counter.

“I’ll take one right,” he paused, peering up at the clock on the wall, “now.”

It was probably dumb to wait until exactly five pm, yet his instructions had been precise - as such, he didn’t want to risk bungling anything. The attendant rang up his purchase, tore the end ticket free, and slid his purchase over to him. While he could have waited until he got home to see if he’d won anything, his nerves weren’t having it.

If he’d just spent his dough for nothing, he was close enough to the yard to head back and give Fortuna a piece of his mind - if not, he’d be able to cash in and save himself a trip for later. Using his thumbnail to scratch at the ticket’s playing area, revealing a series of numbers to be matched, he shook his head. With all but one field unveiled, without having found a winning pair, he cursed under his breath, dug at the last section, and froze.

“Wait,” he blurted, reading and rereading the ticket, “I won?!?”

Rolling his eyes, the clerk plucked the ticket from his grasp, looked it over, and handed it back. “Looks like it, but I can’t cash that here.”

Anon balked, glowering down at the stunningly apathetic pony. “Why not?”

“Sir,” the stallion sighed, “we can’t cash prizes over two-hundred bits. You’ll have to go to the lottery’s main office to claim your winnings - that or mail it in.”

“I…ok,” the man numbly stated, turning and proceeding out the door.

His shuffle turned into a slow walk, then a jog, as he ran back to the scrapyard. Throughout his life, he’d been through some wild shit, both good and bad, but this was easily a high point - well, aside from winding up in Equestria. Fumbling for and subsequently dropping his keys, doing his damnedest to open the employee entrance of the lot, he only eventually managed to let himself back inside.

“Fortuna!” he yelled, sprinting over to the oddly serene oracle.

“Did you forget something?” she inquired, watching him approach.

Stopping just before her, he triumphantly held the ticket out. “Look!”

“I see,” she smoothly remarked, smirking over at him. “I presume you’re pleased with your good tidings?”

“Good tidings?!” he guffawed. “I just won a million bits! I…I don’t know what to do!”

“Well,” she continued, leaning in and patting his arm, “it may be a good start to secure your windfall, but be mindful not to -”


He cut her off with a kiss to her cool, bakelite cheek. What felt like minutes before, he’d been apathetic to return home - now he moved with a purpose. Dashing to the exit, he ran out of the lot, down the sidewalk, and to his apartment complex. Fuck if he wasn’t going to fill out and mail his ticket in first thing in the morning, as soon as the post office opened, but there was one small issue. Now that he was loaded, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with himself…