Standard Disclaimer: I do not own, nor claim ownership, over any part of My Little Pony. My Little Pony is a registered trademark of Hasbro. Friendship is Magic created by Lauren Faust.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
A grey earth pony stood at the edge of a cliff, the hundred foot drop to the water of the lake below seeming to beckon to him, urging him to plunge himself into its depths. The water below sloshed up against the rocky shoreline, and a brisk, sharp breeze beckoned the coming of a storm.
The pony adjusted the contraption atop his back. “Yep, never been surer.”
“Yeah right,” the parchment brown pegasus replied, shaking her head. “Last time you said that, you ended up on the bottom of this very lake.”
“Pffft,” the grey pony snorted in return, slicking back his olive green mane. “Ye of little faith.” He adjusted his hooves. “Pre-flight self-check, run me down the list.”
The pegasus hovered over to a clipboard resting against a rock. “Very well…” she sighed, scanning over the list before reading the first item aloud. “Harness?”
“Check, and fastened,” the grey pony replied in a chipper tone, adjusting a strap with his teeth.
“Fiths in th’ mouf wit eathe!”
The grey pony turned his head side to side, simultaneously rotating the steering bar. “Rethponding wit fixty-fife perfent accurafy!” He spat the steering bar out, frowning. “That’s no good; only sixty five percent? Maybe the cable’s becoming loose… Ariel, please tighten screws nineteen through twenty four for me please? I need the response from these things to be at least eighty percent.”
Ariel put the clipboard down with a sigh, grabbing a screwdriver. Brushing a lock of her blue mane from her eyes, she walked over to the earth pony and began tightening a screw on the mechanical wing harness.
“Ow!” the grey pony exclaimed as the harness straps began to bite into his sides. “That’s screw twelve!”
“Oh, sorry…” The pegasus loosened the bolt, relieving the pressure on the grey pony’s ribcage. Able to breathe once more, he gasped and let his tongue lull out; this caused Ariel to roll her eyes. “Oh come on, it wasn’t that tight.” She flew back to the rock on which the clipboard had been set and picked up a small, leather-bound notebook. “Which screws again?” she asked, flipping through the many diagrams in the book; a device to walk on clouds, an auto winding clock, a horseless carriage; nigh a hundred inventions that had either not worked or had simply proven impossible.
“Nineteen through twenty four.” Ariel set to work once more, this time consulting several detailed diagrams of the contraption. She quickly tightened the six screws; upon her completion, the grey pony twisted his head once more, again observing the wings and their motions. “What’s that, would you say, eighty-five… eighty-six percent accuracy? That seems good to me.”
“Are you sure that you’re sure you’re sure about this?”
“Yes, Ariel, I am sure that I am sure…” The pony adjusted the harness once more. “I am as sure as I am that the sky is blue, and that the grass is green, and that I am the renowned inventor..." The pony turned his head to the sky. "...Gizmo Gadget!”
The pegasus brandished the leather bound notebook. “Gizmo, you’re not a renowned inventor. Pretty much every invention you’ve made to date has crashed and burned; sometimes horribly so.” Ariel flipped through the pages, looking for an example; it didn’t take very long. “Remember this thing?” She pointed to a drawing of a helmet with a hornlike protrusion, sitting on the sketched bust of an earth pony, with the caption fig 1. “The ‘Brainwave Amplification Device’; the one that was meant to grant earth ponies and pegasi rudimentary magical ability?”
“Um… no…” Gizmo lied.
Ariel cocked an eyebrow. “Well then, let me remind you.” She hovered back over to her clipboard and turned the pages to a spreadsheet. “’Brainwave Amplification Device,’” she read aloud. “It says here that shortly after you donned the helmet and attempted to levitate an object (a quill I believe) the thing began to overheat and subsequently exploded, with you still wearing it. The explosion cost you part of your ear; you were also deafened for, what was it? Two days? Three?”
Gizmo looked annoyed. “Hey, just because one thing…”
Ariel cut him off. “Horseless carriage: thing caught on fire in the middle of town. Cloud shoes: you plummeted fifty feet before I caught you. Auto winding clock: nearly burned down the house, that one.” She flipped through several more pages. “Here’s one of my personal favorites… No-pony band, that variation of a one-pony band that played itself.” She slammed the book shut. “Ended in a parasprite infestation so huge that Celestia herself had to come through to clean it up.”
If Gizmo had been annoyed before… “Don’t remind me,” he grumbled, his voice grating and angry.
Ariel sighed again, floating over to Gizmo’s side. “Giz, it’s not that I don’t want you to succeed, it’s just that, thus far, your experiments have ended, well, badly,” she said, placing a hoof on his shoulder. He turned his head, unable to meet her eyes. “Why don’t we pack back up and head home? We can do some smaller tests, make sure the wings are strong enough and responsive enough, and then come back here later.” She gave Gizmo a small smile, but he just kept looking away from her. “Giz?”
For a couple seconds, Gizmo said nothing. Then speaking slowly and deliberately, he said:
“You know, Ariel, there are several old sayings proclaiming the importance of what you just said; how it is always important to walk before you run. It seems that ever since I was a young colt, I’ve had trouble with that concept. Building up to a moment to me is a slow and inefficient method to getting things done. My mother (Celestia bless her) used to recall how as soon as I could stand on all four hooves, I was always attempting run, before I could even trot in a straight line. I went to school a year early of my own volition, attempted to learn calculus before I’d even managed to fully grasp the concept of algebra, and managed to build a gyroscopic stabilizer before I'd graduated high school. It spun itself apart, but that's not the point here.
“The point is, no matter how other ponies progress through life, I simply have to go faster. I never knew why; perhaps it was because of my father; apparently he was just like me, he could never stand to wait. Maybe that’s why he disappeared…
“In any case, for better or for worse, it is simply impossible for me to ‘walk before I run.’ I know your intentions are in the right place, Ariel, they always have been, but I simply can’t do it. For the most part, the way I’ve lived life has gotten me through quite well so far, and I intend to continue to live by my philosophy:
“Sometimes, you have to run before you can walk.”
Upon the completion of Gizmo’s anecdote, Ariel took a step back and stared at him scornfully. “You’re stubborn as a mule, you know that?”
“Yes,” he replied. “And proud of it. Why else would I be here doing this now?”
Ariel had to agree with that; if she was him, she’d have given up inventing a long time ago.
“Now, come on. Let’s finish the pre-flight checklist; I want to fly today, and I’m not liking the looks of those clouds.”
Ariel smiled a little and rolled her eyes, once again flying over to the checklist. “Where were we? Wings?” Gizmo nodded. “Okay, then, the last thing is the wind…” The pegasus checked this one for herself. “…which is south-southwest at about… five miles per hour, though we can expect it to really whisk up once that storm gets closer.”
“Then we’re good to go!” the inventor said triumphantly. Once more, he picked up the steering apparatus, gripping the metal bar between his teeth. “Commenth cowndown!”
Ariel began to count down from ten. “T minus ten, nine, eight…”
On zero, Gizmo chomped down on the bar, collapsing the wings. He launched himself off of the cliff side, allowing gravity to increase his speed. Seconds before meeting the hard, unforgiving shoreline, he loosened his grip on the steering apparatus, letting the wings spread wide.
Now was the moment of truth.
The wings caught him as he leveled out, pulling him out of the dive a mere ten feet from the crushing depths. They lifted him up, up… when his velocity could carry him no further, he began to chew on the steering bar, causing the wings to flap, sending him further into the sky.
Ariel couldn’t believe what she was seeing. One of Gizmo’s inventions had finally worked! Her open-mouthed gape was quickly replaced by a joyful smile, and she began to whoop for the inventor as he did a full loop, the wings easily holding him up, keeping him aloft.
Then, disaster struck. Gizmo was attempting another loop over the surface of the lake when a screw to the harness came loose. The apparatus failed, the belt holding the wings to Gizmo’s body fell off from its connection, and the earth pony, with a strangled “eep”, plunged into the lake along with the only invention he had ever made that worked.
Thunder struck, and the rain began.
“Gizmo!” Ariel yelled over the sound of rain and thunder and the rapidly increasing winds. There was no answer. “Oh no…” Ariel lifted off from the cliff, flying low over the lake, yelling out her partner’s name. Suddenly, she saw him, battered but conscious, holding his own in the waters that were rapidly becoming tumultuous. “Gizmo!”
Gizmo looked up, slightly bleary eyed. “Ariel!” he happily exclaimed. “There you are!”
Ariel was immediately put off by his cheerfulness. “Are you alright?” she asked warily.
“Yes, I am alright,” Gizmo replied, still cheery. Ariel was about to ask why he seemed so dapper when he said, “I was flying, Ariel! It was working!”
Ariel let out a little laugh, remembering the first time she had flown; the experience was unlike anything else in the world. “I’m glad to hear you’re okay.”
“Quickly!” Gizmo began to frantically point downwards, underwater. “We can still get it back!”
Another burst of thunder shook the air. Ariel looked solemnly down at her friend. “Um… Giz, I don’t think that that’s a very good idea…” The inventor immediately lost his cheeriness. The smile on his face was replaced by a look of sadness and confusion.
“W-what?” he asked.
“Giz, even if we did retrieve it, it would’ve sustained damage from the crash, and would eventually rust out. Not to mention, it’s a huge, unwieldy metal object, and right now, the weather isn’t exactly peaceful.” A gust of wind accentuated Ariel’s point.
The inventor’s confusion vanished, a look of pure sadness emerging on his face. Ariel was right, it would be nigh impossible to get the harness back to Fillydelphia, where the lab was, and even if they did manage to transport it back safely, the damage to the frame could be irreversible.
Gizmo sighed resignedly. “Okay… I hate to say it, but, well, you’re right. Again.”
“I’m sorry, Giz.” Ariel was genuinely sorry; she’d always wanted to see Gizmo succeed at at least one thing in his inventing career, and the wings had performed so well.
“It’s okay,” the grey pony responded with a wave of his hoof. “Mind helping me out? I can’t swim very well.”
Ariel lifted Gizmo out of the water and flew him back to the cliff, where the two collected the data and sketchbook, and began the long, soggy trudge back to Fillydelphia.
It was going to be one eventful month.
Several edits after leaving it alone for a day... Amazing what a fresh mindset can do for you.
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