• Published 4th Jan 2013
  • 662 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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3: Unavoidable Party

Journal: Day Four

The quiet stillness of this Everfree morning is a refreshing change to the bustle of Canterlot. I slept well, although the intact bedchamber I did find suffers from a slight draft. As for rebuilding, I see now it will be a slow consolidation: one room taken back at a time. Out behind the ruins, I uncovered a garden gone feral, and a small grove of fruit-bearing trees.

Today, it's off to the hardware store in town. I'll also scrounge around in-town for a decent generator. I haven't the bits for machining tools, to my shame... I'll check on that work Twilight talked about.

Discovering those ruins became the turning point for me. I would, as time went by, convert many of the castle rooms into storage for engines, fuel, and batteries. I crafted others into workshops, and libraries. It would continue to hold some of its secrets, though - as some sections were too far gone to restore. Still, I quickly found reasons to stay a little longer through this work.

It wasn't just the castle though. I found good friends in the town of Ponyville. Even Pinkie Pie, who had unintentionally terrified me at first, broke through my walls. I didn't make it easy for her, though

I found my way back with incredible ease. Darkness had hidden a small trail from me, one that wound it's way back north. Shopping went similarly - without incident. A line of credit Father extended helped. I asked around for potential jobs before I left with a wagon loaded with mortar and a few odds-and-ends I planned to scrap for parts.

From what I heard, a local seamstress (and rather eccentric fashonista) just had her sewing machine fail. Though perhaps not the most glamorous of jobs, it was a great way to get my name out.

I was glad I took it. The mare who answered the door was simply... breathtaking. Describing her fully would require me to delve into poetry, reflect in deep philosophy, and cease drooling. Ahem. I generally abhor the mentality of loving an image skin-deep - but this was art.

Lead to the second floor, I arrived in a room which looked out over the town with more window than wall. Various fabrics hung from racks, or stuck out of cubbies. I'm fairly certain she started talking at this point, but I couldn't recall her discussion if I tried. The machine itself sat on a desk against the wall. From the first glance inside, I cringed.

Wear had weakened and warped several of the components. Lack of any lubrication had only worsened this, and shoddy work went into the finer parts. The sight of it burned a vision into my mind - I saw the reels and gears moving rhythmically, and how the belts spun. Perhaps I did have a fix for this...

It took some effort to face the fair 'corn. "Ma'am, this machine was made to break down. You see, the belt from your pedal chafes against a rim here - and who ever made these gears did a shameful job of it. However," I smiled as I pulled a items from my saddlebags, and began to replace parts from the old table-top "these gears from these fishing reels fit the size. I've got a little oil, too."

A look of shock and dejection melted into a soft smile. "Why, how could I repay you, darling?

This couldn't have been her main machine, I realized. The cost to her business would have been terrible otherwise, and this smelled like a setup. This was likely Twilight's work, helping find work for me. For this seamstress to offer felt a little like charity... that I needed.

Time for some quick math. The cost of materials, and the time it took were almost negligible. Charging anything over five bits would be downright theft. I shook my head.

"Oh, don't be ridiculous. I simply must repay you - I must!" She eyed me critically, then trotted around, before retreating into another room. I was afraid to enter - sounds of laughter, sighs, shouting, and even a few sobs emanated before she returned with a band of thick, light-grey fabric.

"It is rather simple, darling, but it would look quite smart on you." She waved away my objections with a hoof. "Nonsense, this is nothing after what you have done."

Her magic wrapped the band around my chest, and spliced the ends into each other. I felt the fabric - and my jaw dropped. Wyvern skin, though not as resilient as dragon scale, was much lighter. It was tough and partially elastic too - a band like this would distribute weight of increased loads wonderfully. The beasts shed their old skins once every decade. It had plenty of uses despite being so rare. That, and it was far more valuable than an acre of real-estate in uptown Canterlot! Everything told me I should not accept the gift, but her eyes would not accept a no.

I stumbled out of the Boutique in a daze, still stammering thanks.

My next job lay in Sugarcube Corner. I knew that Pinkie was still set on "making up", but my nerves could not handle five more minutes like yesterday's exposure. Perhaps I could finish the job quickly, and be off.

The bakery had an "Open" sign out, but the building was very quiet. Good, perhaps she was away. I stepped up to the door, and pushed my way in - only to face an out-pour of balloons.

It was sometime after that I heard about the "Pinkie Sense". She knew I was coming long before I did.

Well, it did look like an inviting party. All sorts of glazed, powdered, or frosted confections lay invitingly on tables pushed against the far walls. A took a breath to gather courage, then ducked inside. Several ponies stood in groups or danced around. Pinkie zipped between and through, checking up on friends and arranging dates for later occasions. She called each by name, and seemed to know all but the very latest developments for each.

She came up to me too, bouncing with ill-contained joy. "I said I'd make it up! Whaddaya think?" She extended a hoof. I couldn't hold in the smile. Taking her offer, she spun me into the dance. Quite the welcoming party! The manic twirls of the dance flew into a change of partners, then again, and again. I lost the count, and any sense of time. I was paired back up with Pinkie, when she suddenly stopped, shaking.

You see, that's when the kitchens caught fire.

It wasn't that slow smolder of an oven left on, but a burst. The gas line had corroded. I could see the rushing flames, and smell the odored propane. Quick action might save the building, but I had to act. The hostess was still in danger.

"Pinkie, out back, shut off the gas line!" She was already on her way, and counting the guests as they left.

Good, now the fire. Any combustion reaction requires three things. It needs enough heat for ignition - too late to anything about that now, and I don't carry around gallons of water. Fuel was too plenty to limit. Air was another problem. I couldn't just suck the...

Oh, but I could.

I braved the flames to make it to the pantry. The flames beat at my sides, and I was thankful for the Wyvern skin more than ever. Smoke blinded me, but I found the fine cloth of a flour bag with my teeth. Through the fire I went again, stumbling for the door and fresh air. Pain arced through were skin had been exposed, but I made a desperate toss with a neck twist. As I slammed the kitchen door shut behind me, I prayed Pinkie had shut off the gas.

The sack of flour, all 6 kilograms of it, spun into the inferno. Back to the door, I could feel the heat through its surface. My eyes glazed over, as a vision of the bomb I just made went off.


The shock of the blast unhinged the door, sending me flying. Disoriented by a sheer wall of sound, I could only see double images of the ceiling. I faded out.

I was told that, when the explosion hit, everypony in the party had made it safely away. The flour sack burst open in just the right way, in just the right amounts, they said. They told me what I already knew, that all the oxygen in the room had been sucked up. I came by the confectionery shop later, after my burns had been treated. The walls had held solely because the doors gave out first. The kitchen was a blackened box, but the fire had yet to reach the stores of food (and worse, more flour) one floor down. I felt sick when Fireponies told me how little time the fire would have taken to engulf the entire block. I stayed through the night to help rebuild

Even I, though, broke down in tears when - before I was carried to the hospital - I had heard the Cakes' newborns were found safe in their room