• Published 11th Jan 2016
  • 4,305 Views, 228 Comments

Interviews At The Canterlot Exchange - billymorph

The Canterlot Exchange, ten thousand humans and ponies pass through its doors every day, on their way to destinations all across Earth and throughout Equestria. These are just a few of their stories.

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Canterlot Exchange’s twelve portals handle over ten thousand humans and ponies every day, but most will only see the titanic chambers from the other side. Beyond the sterile halls of the passenger concourses is the beating heart of the Exchange. The vast chambers that house the fusion of technology and magic which make crossing between worlds possible. I find myself at the edge of portal chamber A-3, watching ponies and humans surge around me. The portal that they tend to is huge, at least two stories tall, and in its charging state fills the room with a low pitched hum of high energy magic. Its surface is a quicksilver disk that looks at a glance to be reflective, but on closer inspection shows a kaleidoscopic whirl that tries to draw the eye off into infinity. Huge crystals hang in the air around it, plugged into thick rubbered cables that fizz and spark with raw magic. Ponies and humans hurry to and fro around the gate in a carefully choreographed dance, though there is much screaming and yelling as they struggle to bring the portal back into alignment.

Neutronium is a deep black unicorn, and watches the organised chaos with a contented smile. Standing fetlock deep in machinery, he occasionally barks out an order or makes imperceptible adjustments to the controls surrounding him. After a few minutes he steps back and the gate goes the colour of quicksilver.

“F**king awesome isn’t it?” he exclaims, as a level of tranquility begins to descend. The frantic pace slows for a moment, technicians hurrying out past us.

I strike through his swear in my notes. “It’s certainly a marvel,” I agree. “How many of these do you supervise a day?”

“Six openings. They happen every hour on the dot, or do if I have anything to f**king say about it. We haven’t missed one in three weeks, and that’s a crap ton better than the f**kers on third shift can claim. Not that they should have any problems on that front. The new inline charging means it should only take the f**kwits half an hour. Of course, the way the s**theads work you’d think they were still working with a portal that has a thirty f**king month charging cycle.”

It takes me a moment to catch up with his tirade in my notes. “Right... Well, Neutronium, I was wondering if you could tell me your story.”

“Heh, thought you might be asking that. Not many ponies come back here armed with a notepad. Thought you were the f**king safety inspector for a moment. Who’s pulling your strings anyway, Fox, CNN, some pissant blog?”

“None of the above,” I say, smiling. “I’m writing a book, you see.”

Neutronium regards me as if I were something unpleasant he’d just put his hoof in. “Urgh. That’s even worse than a blogger; at least they get shit done.” He sits back on his haunches and waves me on. “Well, come on then, ask your questions and let's get this shit over with.”

“I was interested in what brought you to Equestria,” I begin, glancing down at my notes. “You were the fifth American to be granted dual citizenship, I believe.”

“And the first f**king Mexican,” Neutronium cut in. “Hell, might be the only Mexican for all I know. Not that I care for that s**thole, I barely speak a word of Spanish these days. Dad got us all into America with a Green Card when I was five and I never looked back. Good call on the old man’s part there.”

“Quite... however, Mexico to America is a small jump compared to changing species full time. What prompted you?”

“Durh, magic.” Neutronium taps his horn. “You understand me, right? You’re a unicorn, were you born that way?”

I shrug. “Not as such.”

“See, even you Equestrians are getting in on the body swapping act. A few years late, but still, it’s progress.” He sits back on his haunches. “I was in my first year at MIT when the first reports of aliens among us came in. Of course, I was as sceptical of f**king magic as the next guy, but there’s only so many times you can see something impossible happen and start to question your definition of impossible.” Neutronium pauses, glaring off into the middle distance, before adding in a dark growl. “That is, if you haven’t let your brain fossilise.”

“So it was magic that drew you here?” I press.

“In a nutshell.” Neutronium lets out a bitter laugh. “Of course, that makes me sound like I want to dance under the rainbows with all the other pretty ponies. F**kwits. No one understood just what magic means.”

“And you did?”

“F**k yeah! Magic means that anything is possible.” He slams his forehooves against the ground in emphasis. “Any-f**king-thing. People look at the ponies and think ‘oh they’re so primitive, they don’t even have ipads’, big f**king deal. Ponies control the weather, they can shape the earth beneath their hooves with a thought, they can change their forms, summon fire with their minds and even move the sun. There is absolutely nothing magic can’t do.”

Neutronium shakes his head. “Yet somehow, just because of a cutesy look and a few bad puns, ponies are the laughing stock of Earth. Magic, proper magic, this kind of industrial magic–” he points his horn at the titanic portal “–this is the future. Ponies can do anything they set their minds to; humans are bound by the laws of nature. This decade the humans are on top, they’re the ones shipping tractors and phones and all sorts of high tech shit, and raking in the big bucks. In twenty years, though, the ponies are going to be shipping miracles on demand, and then Earth’s going to be dancing to Equestria’s tune.” He folds his ears flat, gazing wistfully at the gateway. “Not that anyone back home seems to realise it.”

“How long has it been since you went home?” I cut in.

“What?” Neutronium starts, as if only just remembering I’m here. “What do you mean?”

“It's just a short trot away,” I continue, pointing at the gate with my pen.

He shoots me a withering glare. “Don’t patronise me. There’s nothing worth saving on Earth, why would I ever want to go back?”

“Family, perhaps?”

A long moment passess, and Neutronium stands suddenly. “I need to get a coffee before my next shift,” he says. “You can see yourself out.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” I point out.

“I know.” He scowls. “When they grow up, then we’ll talk. In a hundred years they’ll look back and admit I knew where we were going all along, and laugh at themselves. Then we’ll talk. Not before.”

He walks away. Neutronium’s cutie-mark is a black hole, surrounded by an accretion disk. I am struck by how cruelly on-point marks can be sometimes.