• Published 4th Jan 2013
  • 658 Views, 63 Comments

An Equestrian Engineer - JetGrey



A unicorn inept at using more than remedial-level spells tackles the challenges of life in Equestria - with science! His story may just take him through the wildest places and situations imaginable.

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2: Renewed Study

Journal: Day Three,

I have arrived by train to the town of Ponyville. The small, rural, area seems like a perfect place to start. My letter of credit so far has been enough to get me here safely, but an income will be much appreciated. Even so, I will prioritize finding Twilight Sparkle first then set off to find suitable lodgings.

Nestled in the many hills of this region, the town was a fairly quiet place - at first glance. Anypony with just a hint of curiosity would hear all sorts of stories circulating around this little town. Nightma- Princess Luna had struck at that town first on her escape. The great beast Discord was also supposedly defeated in the area: Canterlot rumor mongers still speculated a year later! For a long time, I had thought that was why a student of the Princess would go there. In such a small place, I soon discovered that Ponyville was much more pivotal in history - and why.

Ponyville Station offered a great view of the surrounding landscape. Lush forest predominated to the south, bordered by careful rows of trees - the Apple Family Farm. Nestled on and within some low hills were houses and shops almost too rustic for a city colt like me. It all felt small. A quick question to the Stationmaster confirmed this: only about three thousand ponies lived in the area.

Upwards, Pegasi circled as a storm bank approached - a scheduled shower.

I trotted off for town square - perhaps someone could direct me from there? I wondered how to introduce myself. As an ex-resident of Canterlot, would Twilight hold to the same level of refinery? No, she left for a small town: perhaps a more modes -

THWUMP

Just like that, I was on my back, facing the sky. I felt a weight descend upon me, and a shadow filled my vision.

"Hiya! I haven't seen your face around here before. Are you new, gonna stay long? What about that cutie mark? Are you a fan salespony? I could always use some more fans; especially the ones with streamers that glitter while..."

I tried to gather my wits long enough to focus. The shadow resolved into a pony, a mare, pinning me down. She was...

Pink.

"You're right mister, I'm Pinkie Pie!" GASP "You must have heard of me somewhere..." She frowned with these words. Her face drew nearer to mine in a squint. "Who are you, anyway?"

If I were not on my back, gibbering in absolute terror, with a madpony interrogating me, I would have noticed another pony's approach.

"Oh, Pinkie, not another one! You'll frighten the poor dearie."

Pinkie Pie bounced off sheepishly. "Oooh, sorry Mrs. Cakes!" Those blue eyes caught mine again. "I get carried away sometimes, but if you come on over to SugarCube Corner, I'll make it up to you!"

With that, she was gone.

Forces of nature like that take a while to recover from. With some help from the newcomer, I found my hooves. No broken bones - almost a surprise at this point - kept me from trotting with her.

"Well, I'll help you get your bearings. New folk like you just need a few landmarks. Straight ahead is the town square, and that's a short trot from the Sugarcube Corner - our business. The library is that tree over there.."

The town was simple enough to grasp, and I filed away much of what she said to mull over later. As for Pinkie...

The kindly mare sensed my thoughts. "She can be a little much for all of us. That mare means well - just give her time."

That's fair enough. Sensing an opportunity here, I spoke up. "Would you happen to know where Twilight Sparkle lives? I came to meet her."

This brought a reaction. Her lips tucked into a disapproving frown. In haste, I clarified.

"Just a request, Ma'am. I was sent here to seek her help in my studies." That was enough to settle her down. Giving careful directions to a library, she dismissed herself. Work seemed to keep a pony like her always busy.

When I reached the... well, the tree, I paused. A muted series of crashes shook the door's frame. Sounds of a struggle brought a nervous energy. Though I had heard much of her copious magic talents, any danger to her also jeopardized my quest. I rushed in lend a hoof. Twilight Sparkle must be saved!

Apparently, I would "save" her from re-shelving. I saw what could only have been Twilight herself on a mound of fallen books, using magic to empty another wall. Far from the Canterlot fashion, she wore her mane simply cut but kept clean. The hum of magic surrounded her as hundreds of volumes wove through the air. She had yet to see me, talking to a sort of drake - no - a dragon?! My ears perked forwards.

"Come on, Spike, the letter said he'd be here any minute, and I still don't have his reading list finished!" At this she hoisted up a roll of parchment. The dragon burrowed into a fresh pile of books, surfacing with a rather dusty tome.

"I know, I know! Wait, here's a copy of Ancient Devices: Speculation and History. And, check. Do you remember where..."

My attention was diverted to the titles about my hooves. The pages held anything from Romantic Fiction, to guides, do-it-yourself instructions, and technical manuals on telescopes. Many were worn, but all seemed cared-for. A report by Mendelehoof caught my eye: On the Properties of Matter.

It was not sound that brought me out from reading - it was the lack of it. Somepony was holding their breath. I looked up to see two sets of eyes staring back.

Twilight awkwardly broke the silence: "Hello? Can I help you?"

"Well... possibly, I mean.." My voice trailed away as I realized my faux pas. I had ruined my first impression with Celestia's student. Still, this was my chance. I related to them the story of my leaving, and the nature of my quest. I spoke of the threat of banishment, and my plan to overcome it. In the end, Twilight questioned me at length on my abilities with machines.

Seeming satisfied, Spike resumed hunting for books. He carefully sorted out tomes as he went along with practiced grace. Lost in thought, Twilight Sparkle sat atop her mound of hardbacks. Time ticked by.

"So," I said, "Is there anything you can show me or teach me?"

She looked up from a set of notes she levitated near eye-level. Equine features clouded momentarily. "Stay in Ponyville for a while. When I'm not away, I can probably give some of my time to help you study. You can get plenty of work fixing stuff up otherwise. Ponyfolk here are always in need of somepony who can repair and maintain. " She smiled as my countenance fell. "Don't worry about missing out on any adventures in Ponyville. Just be careful not to go looking for trouble."

"Yeah, it'll come to you!" This from the dragon. I had no clue to what their in-joke might mean, so I shrugged it off.

I helped the two straighten the library together, then settled in for lunch. Over a plate of greens, we discussed the town, plans, and our views on various theories. Twilight was often kept busy being with her friends, but scheduling a small chunk of time to study wasn't too difficult.

Feeling that I had learned a good bit about the town, I asked about the forest beyond.

"Everfree? That place is best avoided, and only one pony has managed to settle in. It's dangerous enough, but something doesn't feel right about those woods. Equestria is full of magic, such that it is possible to feel it everywhere. Not there though, as if it was taken away..."

That sounded fitting. What better place was there for a unicorn of my condition?

I took my leave as the conversation wound down, thanking her graciously. She handed me a schedule, and the first book: an encyclopedia of common machines. The town limits were a good trot away, but I did want to take a look. From what I heard, it is possible for somepony to make or find shelter in the Everfree. As for potential danger... I shifted my saddlebags, loaded with supplies and tools. If I was careful, I could "fix" that problem, too.

Whether it was the fact that things finally seemed to go right, or the foolishness of youth, I ignored the warnings of common sense. I entered the Everfree Forest.

It was a shock to me, how quickly I became lost. I ventured down trails sunlight never seemed to touch, lit only by softly glowing herbs. I was sore, exhausted, but something beckoned me forward. I stepped out onto the edge of a cliff, shocked to see sunset-bathed ruins. Mossy and vine-covered stones shaped what looked like massive walls and towers. A castle, it seemed, had once stood watch over this land. A cool breeze drifted my direction from it. I had no idea how long it had stood, or how long it had been since.

I tested the air: first with my nose, then my horn. No scent of any beast, nor pony. I could feel a sense of emptiness, but not so strongly as to be dispiriting. Mist that clung along the cliff shifted enough to reveal a rope bridge.

Well, with such a welcoming gesture as this, I would be rude to leave now. A few planks were missing as I crossed, but each board I tested held. The structure still stood (here and there) despite perhaps hundreds of years of neglect. Many rooms lacked a ceiling, or a wall. I came to a long hall - no, a throne room or audience chamber. Arched windows, lacking glass, cast iron torch mounts, and shards of a mosaic - presumably remnants of a long-gone roof.

I slung my saddlebags off my back. These ruins were in terrible disrepair. It would take weeks to clean out, and repair. My breath left me slowly, and I closed my eyes to a vision of the castle - for that's what it was - restored. A quiet place of study. A shelter against the forest's dangers. A base of operations. A home.

My lids opened again, heralding a broad grin. I had plenty of time.

Author's Note:

Phew! This one was much more of a challenge to complete, and (for I while) I feared I had not done the previous chapter justice.

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