• Published 14th Jan 2013
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The Monster Below - Greenback



An earth pony seeks to transform himself into an Alicorn, but how far is he willing to go to get what he wants?

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The Next Wonder Of The World

I scarcely noticed the ponies outside the tube as they flipped knobs, pressed buttons, and drained the stasis fluid, leaving me dangling in a harness, barely able to look away from my wings even as I shivered at the bitter cold. Several ponies in lab coats took hold and guided me onto a walkway, where the harness and breathing mask was removed. Drowsy and cold, I tried to stand, but collapsed, my legs weak and unable to support myself.

The lab ponies parted as Beakbreaker came forward, relieved to see me. “You're weak,” she said, putting a hoof on my shoulder. “That's perfectly normal.”

My teeth chattered uncontrollably. “Is... it... normal to... to... to feel like a p... p... popsicle?”

Beakbreaker chuckled. “Glad to see your sense of humor is still intact.” Taking a thick blanket from one of her assistants, she wrapped it around me as I was taken to the showers, where the last of the stasis fluid was washed away with luxuriously hot water. Then came a quick dunk in a Jacuzzi, where jets of hot water blasted into my weakened muscles, and then I was helped to an examination room, where Beakbreaker did a physical, and injected me with all manner of needles. I would have freaked out at being poked so many times, had my attention not been on my wings. When all was said and done, and Beakbreaker decided I was in good health aside from slightly atrophied muscles, I was helped to the cafeteria, where Beakbreaker instructed me to eat as much as I wanted, so as to get my strength back up. Though I still had the aftertaste of chemicals and drugs in my mouth, I was all too happy to comply, wolfing down huge portions of whatever was put in front of me, oblivious to the other ponies in the room. The other patients didn't give me a second glance, figuring I was one of them, but the medical personnel knew the significance of my wings, and couldn't take their eyes off me.

“So,” I asked Beakbreaker, my voice sore from my long-dormant vocal cords, “how long was I out?”

“Two months.”

I paused, fork halfway to my mouth. “You're serious?”

“Your body has muscles where there wasn’t any before. It took a long time for the new nerves and attachments to grow in. We were going to wake you up after a month, but it seemed like your body was rejecting the muscles, so I had more growth hormones injected, along with steroids to see if they would help.”

“And did they?” I asked.

“By all appearances, yes. Coin Counter and the others will be happy to hear that; they came by frequently to watch you.” Beakbreaker chuckled. “In fact, a lot of ponies did. You were quite an attraction. And if I may say... you're cute when you're asleep.”

I blushed. “Cute?”

“Oh yes. Did you know you curl up when you sleep? You looked so sweet and innocent in there, especially when you turned upside down.”

My cheeks turned a bright red.

“Oh, don't worry. A lot of ponies do that when they're under. But you're definitely the cutest one I've seen.”

“You were watching me?"

“Of course. I needed to keep a watch on your vitals.”

“Couldn't the assistants do that?”

“Well, yes... but I wanted to watch over you specifically. After all, you're not just a patient. You're... ”

She trailed off. I was curious to hear her answer, but my stomach growled again, and I silenced it by finishing my salad, and starting to slurp up a smoothie. “So, when do we work these out?” I flexed my wings, but the soreness made me stop.

“Not for a few days. You need to get your strength back.”

“Oh, we can do that as we go, right?”

Beakbreaker chuckled. “You'll need every ounce of strength you can muster to deal with your wings; it's probably going to be several months before you can even fly on your own.”

I didn't believe her. “I'll cut that time in half.”

“You remember what happened to that one mare who was too impatient to wait, don't you?”

Realizing that Beakbreaker probably knew what she was talking about, I backed down. “Well, I guess you're right about that.”

Beakbreaker gave me a warm smile. “Don't worry Silverspeak. You'll fly. And I'll be there to help you all along the way.” She reached out, touching her hoof to mine. “I promise.”

I hadn't expected Beakbreaker to touch me like that, and wasn't sure how to react, especially with the way she looked at me. Was it with compassion, a professional friendliness, or something else? I couldn't tell.

“Well, I'm looking forward to it,” I said. “But I guess I got a lot of smoothies to go through before I get there.”

Beakbreaker chuckled as I finished my smoothie and began another one. I didn't care if it was going to take thousands of smoothies to get up in the air, or if it would take hundreds of hours of weightlifting, or anything else Beakbreaker was going to toss my way. I'd do whatever it took.

Those two beautiful wings upon my back were all that mattered.

***

I was as patient as could be expected while regaining my strength. Though my muscle loss wasn't as severe as a pony who had been lying in bed for months, I had to do a lot of walking and weight lifting to get myself back in shape, and was eager to get working in the tower's gym. And with Beakbreaker as my therapist, I began my regimen, spending a month building up my overall strength, mixing between light weights with many repetitions, and heavy weights with fewer lifts.

Finally, the day came when I was ready to start working with my wings. It had been tricky getting used to having new limbs on my back, especially learning how to fold them up, take showers, and sleep with them, but I was ready for them to send me into the sky. But as I quickly learned, Beakbreaker had been right in saying that I'd need all my strength to use my wings. Because my new muscles had never been used, I started with the lightest weights possible. I scoffed, figuring that my new appendages could handle one pound dumbbells. By the end of my first session, my muscles were so sore that I couldn't lift them.

Things were going to be tougher then I thought.

Thus began my quest to master flight. I spent most of my time in the gym working on my back and wing muscles, trying to increase my strength just a little more each day, and experiencing soreness I never could have imagined. Several days Beakbreaker and I had to skip exercising because I was too sore to do anything but walk. On those days I rested, doing little but reading and doing laps on the gym's track. When she wasn't busy in the lab or with other patients, Beakbreaker would try to spend time with me, usually reading books with me, joining me for a few laps, or helping me wash when my limbs were too sore to clean my back, something I was supremely grateful for. And when I was rested up, I would hit the gym harder than before, forcing myself through the pain of muscles being pushed to their limits, hissing as I performed one more exercise, one more set, and one more repetition through the sensation of fire beneath my skin. The work paid off: In five months I went from being able to do only ten wing push-ups to forty. My shoulder muscles went from lifting thirty pounds to seventy, and fat gave way to muscle as I got in the best shape of my life.

Seven months after we started, with Beakbreaker standing beside me, and several aides ready to catch me, I flexed my wings atop a table. Taking deep breaths, I began to flap. Slowly at first, then faster and faster, and when I was beating as quickly as I could, I yelled and jumped.

I didn't fall.

Opening my eyes, I saw my hooves dangling above the floor, my wings beating smoothly and efficiently. But the sensation lasted only a few seconds before my muscles got sore, and I dropped to the floor. Beakbreaker and the others rushed forward, but I said I was fine. In fact, I was more than fine. I was ecstatic, for all my hard work had paid off.

I, an earth pony, had hovered.

Progress was quick as I threw myself into my workouts like never before. My hover time increased from five seconds to ten, then twenty, and then a minute, and then five. With Beakbreaker satisfied that my progress was good enough, we tried flight, which was handled by running down the track, then leaping over a foam pit and flapping my wings. I thought it'd be easy, but hovering was one thing, and flying another. My first attempt ended with me embedded in foam, my hind legs kicking like a rabbit stuck in a hole.

I kept at it. On each jump, I went a little further than before. I began to fly for short distances; nowhere near what I hoped, but Beakbreaker pointed out that for a pony who had only just changed from earth to pegasi, I was doing well.

The day finally came when I crossed the pit with the help of my wings, and immediately rushed into advanced flight. But like my first attempts at hovering and flying, I failed miserably: turning, adjusting my altitude, and keeping a steady speed was diabolically difficult, and after a week of continuously crashing into the floor, I asked Beakbreaker why this was so much harder then everything that had come before. She theorized that pegasi ponies are used to three dimensional thinking, rather then the two dimensional ones that earth and unicorn ponies have. Their brains can handle constant input and adjustments, and make fixes almost instantly, but my brain had to rewire itself to learn all that from scratch.

I kept trying. Over and over again I kept trying to do the simplest of maneuvers, but it was so hard to focus on not only flapping my wings, but adjusting my speed, plotting a course, and keeping track of where everything was. Failure after failure bombarded me, and my days ended with me drenched in sweat, with muscles locking up after being pushed past the breaking point. But no matter how many scrapes I got, or how many bloody noises I obtained, I refused to give up. This was my dream, and I would have rather died than quit after coming so far. But my refusal to quit had been born from Beakbreaker asking what I would do with my wings. Unknown to her, I put many hours of thought into the matter, and decided that I would be a model to others, an inspiration to Equestria's young. In my mind's eye, I saw myself flying over Equestria, doing good deeds wherever I went, inspiring others to rise above their limitations.

I would be a hero from a comic book, the one who would inspire the next generation to pursue their own dreams, no matter how impossible they seemed.

As the months passed, I began to see progress. I could stay in the air longer and my flight was looking more natural, and after another five months, I was finally able to navigate the gym's obstacle course successfully. I was nowhere near Wonderbolt material, but I could (barely) pass as a pegasi to a casual observer.

Delighted, Beakbreaker said I was ready for the next stage of my training: open-air flight.

***

It was a beautiful morning when Beakbreaker and I left the tower, the first time I had done so in over a year. Though the gym had plenty of windows and views of the outside world, it was strange to breathe fresh air and be in the open once again. But we didn't linger, heading to Manehattan's docks, where Coin Counter and Medicomp's CEO's were waiting on an enormous yacht. As soon as we climbed aboard, the craft headed out into the open sea, until Manehattan was a blip on the horizon. Once it had vanished, the yacht came to a stop, and our plan was reviewed.

Because Medicomp didn't want their spokespony to die a very messy death, they wanted me to practice my first open-air flights over open water instead of the unyielding earth. It'd be safer... in theory at least. Slamming into water at breakneck speeds would break my neck and liquify what was left of me, and for that reason two pegasi ponies had come along to catch me in case of an accident, with three unicorns to cushion the blow should I somehow slip through the pegasi's grasp.

I was nervous, yet giddy as everyone took their positions. Everyone on the yacht was there because of me, and the best protection possible was being provided to keep me safe. Who wouldn't want to feel like a VIP for a day?

When everyone was ready, Beakbreaker came up to me. “Remember Silverspeak, take it slow and steady," she reminded me. "Enjoy the flight, but don't go overboard.”

“I got this,” I told her. “No need to get nervous.”

“I just don't want you to get hurt, that's all.”

“Don't worry,” I told her, spreading my wings. “I won't.”

She didn't reply, looking almost like my mother whenever I had done dumb things as a colt.

Sprinting, I beat my wings and leapt from the boat, my wings catching the wind and sending me up, the pegasi ponies staying close, but leaving me room for maneuvering and dashing about. I started the routine Beakbreaker and I had agreed on, duplicating the exercises from the gym: a few long loops, then a fast one. A quick spin to ensure I could keep my balance, and then a steep dive, only to pull up at the last second. I pulled them all off it off with no problems, and a flyby of the yacht showed Beakbreaker and the CEO's nodding, delighted at my progress.

With the main test over, I was now free to try any moves I wanted (within reason, of course), and decided to practice on speed. I started to loop around the cruiser, my organs sloshing from one side of my body to the other as the g-forces kicked in. But I didn't care about the nausea, for the sensation of speed was intoxicating: I was flying out in the open, as free as a bird, able to go anywhere I wanted, and without worrying about magic wings wearing out.

The sky was mine, and I was relishing it.

The faster I went, the more giddy I became, doing even faster loops, delighting in getting sporadic glimpses of Beakbreaker and the CEO's, who all looked very pleased that I was doing so well. But why stop there when I could really impress them? Breaking away, I headed up to the sky and did a vertical loop, only to realize that perhaps that wasn't such a good idea; reaching the top of the loop, I stopped beating my wings so as to head downwards, only to have a horrible instant of weightlessness as I looked down to the ocean quickly rising up towards me. Having never gone so high before, I panicked, flapping hard as I started to fall. The pegasi ponies shot in, but I managed to recover, and indicated that I was all right.

Shaking my head, I realized that a failed move wasn't going to impress the CEO's. If I was going to show off to the public what a winged earth pony could do, I'd have to know a few tricks. I tried the loop again, and had that horrible sensation of weightlessness as I reached the peak, but this time I was ready, and made a smooth dive until I was level with the horizon.

Elated, I did three more loops, each one faster then the last, and though I couldn't see the faces of the ponies below, I easily visualized them looking up at me, gobsmacked and in complete awe of how unquestionably awesome I was. Why, perhaps with a few more years of practice, maybe I'd become a member of the Wonderbolts, and the first earth... or rather, former earth pony to do so.

Getting an idea, I checked my muscles. I was getting tired, but could hold out for one last trick before calling it a day, and I was going to make it the best one yet.

Taking a deep breath, I flew towards the clouds above, my wings flapping for everything they were worth, and I went faster and faster, until it was like I could actually touch the white fluffiness. Beyond them lay a cloudless sky, and the sun. I was going to see it.

Or at least, I thought I would, because it seemed as if my head was suddenly light and weightless. My vision went fuzzy.

The next thing I knew, I was falling, my legs dangling before me, and my wings billowing uselessly at my side. Blinking, I tried to figure out what was going on, only to realize I was falling towards the sea at breakneck speed. I panicked and tried to beat my wings, but realized that I was going too fast; there was no way to pull up in time before hitting.

Then the Pegasus ponies were swooping in, and caught me, beating their own wings to slow us all down. But even their combined efforts couldn't bring us up fast enough, and we were spared a hard landing when a huge, transparent cushion appeared beneath us, which was submerged as we hit, but slowed us down enough that we only got wet, and were magically lifted to the deck, where I collapsed in a heap.

“Silverspeak!” Beakbreaker shouted, running over as I fell to my knees on shaking legs. “Are you okay?!”

“What happened?” I asked.

“You fainted. Went higher then you should have, and your body couldn't get enough oxygen.” She cursed something in her native tongue. "I should have remembered that!

Coin Counter came over. “Is that something you can fix?”

Beakbreaker shook her head. “It could be avoided temporarily with an oxygen spell, but his body will have to get used to flying at high altitudes.”

The CEO nodded, looked at me. “When you next go up, Silverspeak, please be more careful."

It took a few moments before I was able to gather my thoughts. “Don't worry... I don't think I'll be flying again today.”

***

Aside from nearly scaring the CEO's to death by seeing their prized investment plunging from the sky like a rock, the flight had been a success. Now knowing that I could fly on my own, Beakbreaker repeated the same exercise several times over the next few weeks, each flight getting better and better. I was even able to go a little higher each time, my body acclimating itself to greater heights.

Fewer CEO's went on the subsequent cruises, but Coin Counter was always there, eagerly watching as I worked, and congratulating me on doing well when I came down for a landing. He was there again on my last flight, wearing a big smile as he handed me a glass of water.

“What's got you so happy?” I asked.

"I think you're ready," he said.

“For what?”

“To make your public debut."

I had known that I would eventually have to be revealed to the world at large. I had pondered the thought myself over the past several flights, wondering when Medicomp would want to show off their latest achievement to the world. Now the moment had come, and with it, a momentary hesitation. Going public was a big step, and not to be taken lightly... but I had been preparing myself for over a year. I had taken all these flights, worked myself sore more times than I could count, and even learned some tricks to prove my newfound abilities. Continuing to practice would gain me little.

"Well?" Coin Counter asked me. "What do you think? You ready to dazzle Equestria?"

“I don't think I'm ready,” I told him. She was stunned, but I quickly added, “I know I'm ready.”

Chuckling, Coin Counter wiped sweat from his brow. “That's exactly what I had hoped to hear.”

***

In no time at all, preparations were underway as Medicomp prepared what was to be its biggest press conference ever. And when the big day arrived, I found myself backstage, endlessly adjusting my tie and endlessly fidgeting as I tried to compose myself. This was my big public debut, and I didn't want to screw it up.

“Stop worrying so much,” Beakbreaker teased. “You look fine.”

“You sure? Because I'm not sure this is my best tie. Maybe there's another one around here I can borrow.”

Rolling her eyes, Beakbreaker adjusted her glasses and looked me over. “You look fine. You have nothing to worry about.”

I knew Beakbreaker was right, but the confidence from my test flights was gone, replaced with a growing unease. “Sorry. It's just... well, I've never been the subject of a press conference." I peeked towards the curtain, listening to the reporters setting up beyond it. “You got any tips for being in the spotlight?”

“Be yourself. Put on a nice smile, and be relaxed. Picture yourself as the embodiment of... what's the word? Awesomeness.”

“Awesomeness? Really?”

She nodded. “It's helped me."

An aide came up. “Thirty seconds, Ms. Beakbreaker.”

“Thank you.” Starting towards the stage, Beakbreaker paused, putting a hoof under my chin. “This is your moment to shine, Silverspeak. If this is truly what you were meant to do, then everything will be fine.”

Coin Counter walked out from behind the curtain. Beakbreaker smiled, adjusted my tie, and followed after him as Coin Counter went on stage and began his speech. “Mares and Gentlecolts, thank you for joining us today...”

Heading to my designated spot behind the curtain, I breathed deeply to calm myself. It wasn't easy with the sound of hundreds of cameras going off, which would become a hurricane of noise when I walked out. Coin Counter continued to talk, reciting my carefully written speech to build anticipation to a fever pitch, but it wasn't needed. Medicomp had produced two miracles; the press expected a third one, and they would get it.

As I tried to calm my pounding heart, a thought came to me. In some ways, this was the end. The moments I spent behind the stage were the last I'd ever have as an unknown pony. Once I headed out onto that runway, I'd be a celebrity. Every move I made in public would be watched and scrutinized, and returning to my old life would be impossible.

This walk would be a one-way trip.

“...I present to you, the next wonder of Medicomp's technology. Where we can now give legs to those who have lost them, and wings to those who once had them, we can now give the gift of flight to ponies who have always wanted it.”

It was too late to run. But I wasn't going to. I wasn't going to let the fear get to me. This was my once-in-a-lifetime chance to make something of myself, and I'd be a fool to flee from it.

“Mares and Gentlecolts, I give to you, the first earth pony given artificial wings!”

The curtain parted, and I was assaulted by a literal wall of lights, momentarily blinding me. Instinct kicked in, and I almost retreated. But I I didn't. I walked onto that runway, trying to ignore the fear as I put one hoof in front of another, taking that one-way trip out of my old life.

The lights kept flashing. I adopted the most handsome, dashing face I could, pretending that I was a model at a fashion show, the pride and envy of everyone in attendance, hoping it would distract me from wanting to throw up. But it got easier with each step. Being the focus of this much attention was something I had never felt before. The air was charged with energy, and I could feel the astonishment of those around me.

“The stallion you see before you was born an earth pony," Coin Counter said. "He had no magic, and no flight abilities of any kind, yet he had a dream: to rise above the earth, and to fly among the skies. Fate said he would never do so, but we have now allowed him to fulfill that dream, and the dreams of other earth ponies who wish to soar like their pegasus brethren.”

The cameras continued to flash as photographs were taken. But I was no longer afraid. It felt so good, so right, so...intoxicating to be looked at like this. History was being made, and I was the one doing it. This was my reward, my victory after so much work and effort, and I was going to enjoy it for all it was worth.

I stretched out my wings and turned around, letting them be photographed from all angles, including the scars where they had been attached. And then I leapt, hovering in midair. There was a gasp from the audience as I flew through the air, doing a few quick tricks that I had practiced relentlessly when flying over the ocean. It only lasted a few seconds, but it had the desired effect of wowing the crowd. They knew the world would never be the same, and they had a front-row seat to watching it all happen.

Unable to resist, I raised my front legs high, as if beckoning to them like the princesses. And as I wanted, they went nuts, shouting out questions, snapping photographs like no tomorrow, and acting like worshipers before an angel who had descended from the heavens.

I grinned. No, it wasn't like seeing an angel. It was like seeing a god.

***

As evening fell, I stood in the gym, looking out the windows to the city below. From so high up, it was peaceful and tranquil from so high up, with life going on as normal. But it was an illusion. Editors, writers, and reporters were no doubt churning out as many copies of tomorrow's papers as they could. And when I woke up the following morning, one of those papers lay outside my room, the headline announcing the medical miracle of the century: Medicomp letting ponies change their race, and beneath that, a photo of myself on the walkway.

As a pony who had never gotten any media attention before, it was a huge shock to see myself, and to read about myself in the articles. And when I peered out the window, I saw huge crowds gathered around the base of the tower.

There was a knock at the door. Opening it, I found Coin Counter and Beakbreaker standing there. “Morning, Silverspeak,” Coin Counter said. “I trust you've seen the papers?”

I nodded.

“Wonderful. In fact, we've got a public question and answer session scheduled for this afternoon, and I as hoping you'd join us.”

In reality, I had to go to the session. After all, why set one up, then have the star not show? I at least appreciated Coin Counter being polite about it, rather then ordering me to go. After all, I still was a Medicomp employee, despite my newfound status. “Of course I can come,” I said.

When the session was held that afternoon, I was amazed at how many ponies showed up. There must have been hundreds of them, if not at least a thousand, all of whom wanted to get a glimpse of me. Even behind the line of security guards and the tables, I was a little nervous, now knowing what movie stars felt like when their own fans go nuts. As Coin Counter and Beakbreaker took their places, I looked over the crowd, wondering if there were any familiar faces, for I'd be happy to take questions from them over anyone else. But there were none that I could see... save one.

At the very back of the crowd, I could just make out the unmistakable face of the head librarian.

My stomach tightened. Why was she there? A few seconds of frantic thought, and I concluded that she was just curious to see an earth pony who had gotten wings.

Yes, that had to be it.

The session then began, and for the next hour Coin Counter, Beakbreaker, and myself talked with the crowd, giving details about the operation, my recovery and training, and how it had taken a lot of work to get where I was. Then came questions from the audience, almost all of which were directed towards me. And as difficult as it was to keep up with the barrage of questions, I was flattered, and quickly got sucked up into the role of the suddenly famous, delighted at the audience giving me their undivided attention with each word I spoke.

Still, I would occasionally glance towards the librarian. She didn't move; she just watched me, her gaze piercing even from so far away. Whenever I saw that look, I quickly turned away. I had no desire to engage in paranoia about what she was up to; I had been down that path before, and had no desire to repeat it.

At last, the session came to an end, with the announcement that Medicomp wanted me to try the wings out for a year, and if they still worked, then the company would open the procedure up to everyone who wanted a pair. Only then did the the librarian leave, but not before giving me one final glance.

***

For the next month, life rushed ahead at break-neck speed. Every day saw me waking up early from my new apartment in the tower (my old one was out of the question, as I'd be mobbed trying to go in and out every day) and attending any number of events. Talk shows, get-togethers, and public demonstrations sucked up my time, and it was common for me to not come back to the Medicomp tower late at night, collapse on the bed, and pass out, only to wake up early the next morning and do it all over again.

Still, I was having the time of my life, for I was the talk of the town. Every magazine, book, periodical, and media pony wanted to interview me, take photos, or both. Whenever I ventured outside, mobs of ponies would swarm around me, eager to see my wings for themselves. Yet, I didn't mind the attention. I was happy to pose for photos and give autographs, and soon I was amassing a collection of books, articles, fan letters, and everything related to my newfound fame. The public wanted to get all it could of Silverspeak, the next wonder of the world, the pony who defied nature and forged his own path.

But there was something I couldn't collect and display on a shelf, but was equally as important to me, if not more. Whenever I talked with other Earth ponies, there were inevitably several who told me that they shared the dream I had. They said I gave them hope for flight, and if I could get wings, then they could, too. To hear that made me feel... well, like a superhero. Many a day ended with me grinning ear to ear, feeling on top of the world, never tiring of hearing how I was giving hope and inspiration to so many.

Basking in the glow of my admirers, I thought the good times would never end.

***

It's hard to believe how the worst things can begin so simply and so casually. While going through some fan mail one night, I came across one from a pony who didn't approve of what I was doing. Surprised, I rationalized it away, thinking that not every pony was going to be happy with what I was doing. After all, not every pony had been happy with the legs and wings, so why should this be any different? I didn’t think about the letter for the next few days, and had forgotten about it while visiting a talk show one day, going through my usual topics and discussions. And when we got to taking audience questions, I went through the usual ones, thinking that there was no question that could surprise me at that point.

Then one pony, a unicorn, raised his hoof. “Pardon me for going against the grain,” he asked, “but don't you think changing your race is dangerous?”

“Perhaps," I said, "but who's to say that Earth ponies shouldn't get the same abilities as our airborne brethren?”

“But what if every earth pony out there went to get wings?”

“Then Medicomp would be financially fit for the next thousand years.” After the laughter from the audience died down, I kept talking. “I don't think that's going to be a problem. Earth ponies would still have their talents. They'd still have their connection to the earth, they'd grow food, and they'd be the strongest and most durable ponies. They'd just be able to fly.”

“But won't the balance of life be shattered? We'd have too many pegasus ponies flying around.”

“Well, then we'd probably have lots of farmers who could fly," I said. “In fact, now that I think of it, wouldn't it be an improvement in some ways? Earth ponies are traditionally the strongest, so we'd have earth ponies who can not only fly, but be stronger then normal pegasus ponies. They'd be able to accomplish twice as much.”

The studio went silent.

“Are you suggesting,” the unicorn asked, “that pegasus ponies would become obsolete?”

I quickly realized that something had gone horribly wrong. “No, no, not at all,” I stammered. “I mean... not exactly. Just because I'm technically a pegasus pony now doesn't mean I can manipulate the weather. I can't sit on clouds or fly fast enough to transfer rain water to another part of Equestria. Earth ponies can't do any of those things, and I doubt they ever will.”

The audience remained silent.

The host, realizing that things were getting out of hand, quickly cut to a commercial break.

***

The talk show became a huge fiasco in the papers over the next few days. Headlines screamed about how I had denounced the pegasus race, saying that it was going to be obsolete once everypony could get wings. The tabloids were even worse, saying that I had gleefully relished describing how the Earth ponies were going to overthrow the princesses and take over Canterlot, and that I had gotten into a fistfight with the audience (Medicomp's lawyers were quick to have that retracted). Coin Counter quickly held a press conference to assure the public that that wasn't the case at all, and I even went before the microphone to explain my position, but in the damage had been done. I had figured ponies were smart, but I was shocked at how the majority of ponies seemed to believe the headlines over what I said, judging by letters to the editors, along with volumes of mail sent to Medicomp, and to me.

I waited for the controversy to die down, but it didn't. It seemed that not all of Manehattan was behind Medicomp, and that the talk show incident gave them permission to come out of hiding. More articles and opinion pieces began to be published denouncing the company for interfering with what shouldn't be messed with. The more I read, the more I was shocked. I had thought the ability to get wings would delight everyone. I couldn't fathom why there was so much negativity.

Needing to recharge from going out in public so much, I stayed in the tower for a few days, trying to forget about the public and the talk show fiasco by reading books, relaxing, and sharing meals with Beakbreaker in her apartment, but it didn't work. It certainly didn't help that whenever I saw Mangus, he snickered at me, no doubt enjoying seeing me make a fool of myself.

Finally giving up on my books one evening, I focused on reading the letters sent to me, wanting to see why ponies were so upset. Maybe I could figure out why and offer an appropriate answer. Half the letters I got supported me, saying that I had clearly been made to look like an idiot by the press, but the other half mainly ranted about how I was a racist, how I hated pegasus ponies, how I wanted to blow up Cloudsdale, and other nonsense.

When Beakbreaker came in, she saw my bloodshot eyes and immediately took the latest letter out of my hooves. “You shouldn't read so much into these,” she said, putting a hoof on my shoulder. “It'll drive you crazy.”

“I just don't understand,” I said. “I thought everyone would be happy to see wings like these.”

“Many are.”

“But not everyone. I just don't understand why”

Beakbreaker thought for a moment. “Maybe because they're afraid,” she said. “They’re afraid that the ability to get wings is going to throw the world into chaos. And as some of them might tell you, change isn't always good.”

I groaned.

Beakbreaker put her other hoof on my shoulders. “Don't stress out so much. We just have to show them that you're still you. You're not a monster.”

I couldn't not stress out over what was happening, but I nodded in agreement. At that moment, I was just relieved that Beakbreaker was there, and, more importantly, that she was on my side.

***

Coin Counter called an emergency meeting the following day, with Beakbreaker and myself attending. The public relations situation, though not dire, was inching that way, and immediate action had to be taken to mend it. The floor was opened to suggestions, and many came out, but one of the fellow CEO's suggested that perhaps we could have a publicity tour throughout all of Equestria, going from city to city to let all ponies see me and realize that I wasn't a monster.

Everyone present agreed that it was a good idea, myself included. Not only because I could help work towards making things better, but I was also looking forward to the idea of traveling outside of Manehattan for a while. Hopefully one of the stops would be Saddle Lanka, for outside of a few letters, I hadn't met my parents since the Summer Festival, and this would be a good time to do so.

Besides, what better way to show them how far their son had gone than by showing off his wings?

Arrangements were made, and a train was chartered. While most of Medicomp's management would remain in Manehattan, Coin Counter would come with us, as well as Mangus and several of his guards to provide security. I was not at all happy with that; I could accept the need for security, but I would have taken anyone over Mangus and his brutes. Still, the day of our departure finally arrived. With all our things packed, Coin Counter, Beakbreaker, and myself got into the official carriage, and were driven to the station, where our special train awaited, complete with larger-then-normal cars more elegant then your ordinary passenger train; Medicomp wanted to make a big impression with this trip, and were pulling out all the stops. When we boarded, the doors were closed, and Medicomp's private train set off across the Bucklyn Bridge, and began our tour of Equestria.

Everyone else on the train was excited, myself included. Sitting in the lounge car, I watched as the bridge passed by, and the water below us sparkled under the sun. Everything seemed fresh and ready for us; beyond the bridge lay all of Equestria, and countless other ponies who could be persuaded to see that this wasn't the work of an evil company, and that it could help improve lives, like how it had improved mine. I was convinced we could persuade them to accept the idea. All we had to do... what I had to do... was win them over.

And really, how hard could that be?

Author's Note:

First off, a big thank you to InkRose for doing not only a drawing of Silverspeak, but also the first ever picture of Beakbreaker too! Check it out here!

Secondly, as some of you might have noticed, this chapter took a little longer to post then usual. Due to increasing offline responsibilities, my time for writing has dropped slightly, so from here on out, updates may come, on average, about once a month (I'll still do my best to have them out every two weeks or so).

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