“You are a fool…”
“You underestimate the character of the equine…”
“They are weaker than you think…”
“You think that they’ll surrender if you bind their working hoof, but they are strong…”
“Just wait and see…”
“We will build cities in a day.”
“Ponies would cower at the sight.”
“We will build towers to the heavens.”
“Ponies were not built for such a height.”
“We will be heroes!”
“We will build heroes!”
“They’ve waited so long for this day, someone to take the death away, no son would ever have to say, my father worked into his grave. We sleep tonight with hooves of bone, and we’ll awake with hooves of steel, with these hooves we will destroy, and with these hooves we will rebuild.
“And we will stand above a city, rising high above the streets, from tops of buildings we will look, at all that lies beneath! And we will raise our hooves above us, cold steel shining in the sun! With these hooves that will not bleed, my father’s battle will be won!”
“So be it.”
At the end of the argument the two ponies simply glared at each other—partners on the project for five years—friends for even longer—now grown bitter. Shining Light threw his lab coat onto the floor and left the building, leaving his partner with the monstrosity he’d built.
The device was not what Shining had envisioned when the two had started the project. The original design called for a pony to operate the suit, but Wiley Hooves had modified it to have a mind of its own, simply stating, “If you remove the ‘working parts’ you get a different machine.” It was all about the money. It always had been for Wiley. He was so bright, so gifted, but his visions were clouded by greed. To automate the workforce and put hundreds—thousands out of work would indeed have made the two very wealthy. His argument was that it would make life better for the workers who risked their lives in the mines every day. In actuality he’d been sick of doing what he called “charity work”, giving everything to them and asking nothing in return.
Shining Light walked the streets of the city; passing the electric lights he had created to replace the old kerosene ones of years past. The city had flourished thanks to his and Wiley’s work. What was once a poor mining town now stood as a technological marvel to all of Equestria. If only his father could have seen it…
Shining was the only son to come from his parents and they gave everything they could to ensure he had a bright future. His father worked the mines to the day it took his life, stealing him from his son, and stealing him from his wife. Shining swore upon his grave that someday he would make things right. So he learned how to bend steel, learned how to make it move, and watched as it withstood all the hell they put ponies through. He made safer mining equipment for the workers and saved hundreds of lives with his inventions. The demands for better equipment came in increasingly large quantities, and while he was happy to help, Shining couldn’t do it alone. He took on Wiley Hooves as his assistant and they quickly became friends. Together they brought the city into a new era.
With the S&W Towers behind him, Shining made his way to his apartment at the edge of the city. The retinal scanner he’d invented himself beeped in confirmation and the door slid open for him. He let himself inside and slumped onto his bed. The argument he’d just had with his long time friend was still playing through his head on a loop and he pulled a pillow over his head.
He embraced the silence and breathed deeply into the pillow, catching a whiff of his lover’s scent left over from a prior visit. Why had this all begun? For his father, of course. But why had it continued? For her—the one he loved so much. He wanted nothing more than to help.
“Everlilly.” He spoke her name softly as he exhaled. Slowly, he drifted to sleep. When he next opened his eyes he was not in his bed, but on top of a scrap pile. Rusty gears and bolts shifted beneath his hooves and he tumbled down the metal slope. When he landed he stood and surveyed his surroundings. There were piles of metal all around him—higher than most buildings in the city. He located the tallest one and made his way to the top. After what seemed like miles he reached the peak and looked out at his surroundings in horror.
The sea of scrap stretched for miles before coming to an end at the charred remnants of the city. The S&W Towers still stood in the middle, churning out plumes of smog from the smokestacks. Shining tried to look away, to escape from the scene before him, but there was nothing but more scrap and destruction. The scrap beneath his hooves gave way and he fell into a chasm within the mound. By some miracle, he avoided being impaled on the girders that stuck out of the floor of the chasm and landed in a pool of thick black liquid.
Coughing and sputtering he swam to the edge of the pool and climbed out. The liquid, which he identified as motor oil, clung to his fur and mane. There were noises coming from the darkness and Shining tried to locate their source. The light from above only illuminated the oil pool, casting warped refractions of light across the chasm. Occasionally a beam would illuminate a figure in the darkness before shimmering somewhere else.
“Hello?” Shining called into the darkness. As if that was the signal, a dozen or so red lights lit up and began moving from the darkness towards his location. They were machines, similar to the one he and Wiley had built. The soulless abominations grinded and creaked as they approached, backing Shining right up to the edge of the oil pool. They surrounded him and he turned to the oil pool where he saw a reflection staring back at him.
The Pony of Death stared back from within the pool with glowing red eyes beneath a cloak of darkness. The reflection slowly reached up and lowered the cloak, revealing its true face. “No!” Shining Light shouted. “I am not the father of death!”
He tried to run, only to bump into one of the machines that had come from the darkness; the S&W logo printed squarely across its chest. Backwards he fell, into the pool, into the darkness, drowning, dying. He closed his eyes and waited for it to end, to be over with and when seconds turned to minutes with nothing happening, he opened his eyes.
It had all been a dream. But what had it all meant?