• Published 14th Jan 2013
  • 26,295 Views, 1,588 Comments

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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Beakbreaker

Three days after receiving the letter, I walked into a restaurant on the outskirts of Manehattan’s upper class district; fancy, yet not so expensive so as the bill wouldn’t cost me a paycheck to cover. Sitting in a booth near the window, I watched the street for my client, having arranged a dinner get-together so we could learn more about each other. All I knew was that she was a recent graduate from Manehattan’s top medical university, and that her name was Beakbreaker. I had told her to look for the teal colored pony in a casual business suit, and beyond that, all I could do was wait.

My wait was short, for ten minutes after I arrived, so did Beakbreaker. I had expected a pony, but got a zebra instead, the very first I had ever seen face to face. She didn't look like the tribal zebras I had seen in books: with her lab coat and taped glasses, she looked like someone more at home reading books in a library than performing tribal magic around campfires.

She trotted to the booth. “So, Mister. Silverspeak, I presume?”

I offered a hoof. “The one and only.”

She shook it while taking a seat. “You have no idea how pleased I am to meet you! I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.”

“Oh no, not at all," I assured her, hiding my surprise that I'd be working with a zebra.

“You’re probably wondering why I’m dressed like this,” she said. “Just got out of the lab. Been working on something all day, and I’m afraid I’ll have to head back fairly soon, so this is going to be pretty short. Hope you don’t mind.”

“Oh no,” I said. “Not at all. So, I understand you're in need of a writer.”

Beakbreaker chuckled. “You could say that. I need someone to help write some proposals."

"Don't medical students have to write them?" I asked as a waiter brought us water.

"Yes, but they never were my specialty. Now, your classified said you were skilled in all types of writing. What experience do you have?”

"I’ve been writing for corporations for a few months,” I told her. “Memos, speeches for the CEO’s, that sort of thing. But my real talent is in the power of words.” I showed her my flank, and the cutie mark of an old-fashioned microphone. “It's also called the gift of the silver tongue: I have the ability to charm others, whether by speech or word. Now, what kind of proposal do you need?"

Beakbreaker gave a nervous chuckle and stirred her glass. “Oh, how do I explain this?"

“Take your time,” I assured her. “I’m in no rush.”

“Well, you see, I... can't exactly tell you. It's... a secret.”

“It'd be hard to write a business proposal without knowing what I'm supposed to be writing about,” I joked.

“Yes, I know,” Beakbreaker said. “But this sort of thing... well, it has the potential to change the field of medicine forever. But my professors and I don't want to risk it getting out before we're ready to unveil it to the public.”

That intrigued me; my first freelance writing assignment, and it was to be about a secretive medical project? How could I resist? “If you can't tell me what it is in public,” I said, “can you tell me in private?”

“I can do better then that. Meet me at my apartment this Saturday at nine AM sharp, and I'll show you.”

A clock chimed. Beakbreaker gulped down the last of her drink. “Sorry to drink and run, but I gotta get going,” Beakbreaker said. “Thanks for coming out though; I really, really appreciate it.”

“The pleasure's all mine.”

Grinning, Beakbreaker finished her drink and trotted out of the restaurant, looking quite pleased with herself.

***

I spent the rest of the week wondering what was so secretive that Beakbreaker didn't want to talk about in public? My curiosity concocted all manner of things, and I eagerly left my apartment on Sunday morning, wanting to get my answers.

Beakbreaker's apartment was located on Manehattan's south side, where most of the island's less affluent residents live. But a visitor won't find mounds of garbage, crumbling apartments, and the stench of unwashed bodies, for many businesses employ the poor them to clean up trash, paint buildings and pave the streets, while also providing cheap housing. The apartment I wanted was among them, and Beakbreaker opened the door seconds after I knocked, a large bag hanging from her side.

“Sorry I'm late,” she said, dropping the bag. “Was a little late finishing up the day job.”

I peered into the bag and found it full of garbage. “You're a trash picker?”

“Yes. But only to pay the bills. And when I'm not here, I spend my time in the lab." Tossing on her lab coat, Beakbreaker locked the door behind her. "Now, come. We have a lot of ground to cover!”

I let Beakbreaker lead the way through the streets to the subway. It was a long ride, and I fidgeted, wanting to pass the time. I figured getting to know my client better was the way to go.

“So Beakbreaker,” I said. “How did you get your name?”

“It's a long story, believe me” she said.

“I've got time.”

“Well, you ever feel like you don’t belong? That you were born with others like you, yet you weren’t one of them?”

Oh, if you only knew, I thought.

“Well, I was the only zebra interested in medical science in my tribe... you know much about zebras?”

I shook my head.

“We don't place much importance on technical things,” Beakbreaker explained. “We prefer to live close to the earth; we believe it has a spirit, and that we work with it in daily life. My parents are shamans and wanted me to follow in their hoofsteps." She chuckled. "But whenever my parents tried to teach me about the magic of the earth, I’d be reading about anatomy and how to cure diseases with plants and herbs. And as I got older, I began to experiment with making concoctions and crafting limbs out of wood for zebras who got into accidents. But it wasn't easy... I blew up a lot of potions, and even burned down a hut or two.”

“And that's how you got your name?”

She nodded, quite proud of herself. “I'm still amazed the others tolerated it all. But they saw my potential, and encouraged me to keep going. I studied under the tribe's doctor, and when I came of age I went to Manehattan to study medicine and technology”

“And here you are.”

Beakbreaker sighed. "It's been a long path, but if I can pull this project off, it will be all worth it.”

***

The subway came to a stop a few minutes later, and we disembarked to find ourselves before Manehattan's University of Science and Medicine. If someone wants to go into the field, there's no better place to go, and ponies, zebras, griffons, and many other species come here to become doctors, nurses, surgeons, and researchers. I let Beakbreaker take the lead as we headed inside a lobby adorned with statues of ponies engaged in various fields of medicine and science, making our way through hordes of students, professors and doctors dashing about.

Leading me towards the back of the lobby, Beakbreaker took me into an elevator, inserted a key, and we descended five stories underground. When the doors opened, we emerged into a clean, sterile hallway of stainless steel.

“Why the security?” I asked Beakbreaker.

“The university's most sensitive data is down here,” she explained. “Along with all its most important experiments.” Making a left turn, she went to a heavily reinforced door, entered her key, and did a retina scan. Only then did the door open, granting us access to a laboratory stocked with all manner of equipment. There was an older pony inside, and he hurried over.

“Beakbreaker! You're late!”

“Sorry, Glasseye. Day job got off to a late start.”

“Always with the excuses! They aren't going to tolerate those at whatever office ends up taking you.” He turned to me, his left eye moving slightly irregularly. “Silverspeak, I presume?”

I nodded.

The pony stretched out his hoof. “I am Glasseye, head of the science division here at the university. I trust you've heard about me?”

I shook my head. “Can't say that I have.”

Judging from Glasseye's scowl, I might as well have told him his mother was a scum-sucking cave eel. “You mean Beakbreaker hasn't told you about me?”

“She hasn't because she's been so busy,” I quickly said. “She's been trying so hard to set up this proposal that she hasn't had time to do anything else.”

Glasseye considered my answer, then nodded. “Well, I suppose that's an acceptable answer. After all, the university is putting most of it's time and effort into this project. It only makes sense that Beakbreaker here would want to keep it moving.”

Beakbreaker said nothing, but looked like she wanted to kiss me.

Glasseye walked towards a table, and a cloth-covered container atop it. "You are an author, are you not?”

“Yes,” I said.

“And how many proposals have you written?”

“None so far. This is my first.”

Stopping, Glasseye spun to Beakbreaker. "This was the best you could do?!” he hissed.

“No one else would take the job!” Beakbreaker said. “They wanted to know what it was before agreeing to it!”

“We need someone established! We..." Biting his lip, Glasseye turned to me. "I apologize, Silverspeak, but this is a very important project. If you're the only we can get, then I suppose you'll have to do. Now, what do you know about this project?”

“Nothing.”

“Good.” Reaching into a drawer, Glasseye pulled out a lengthy piece of paper and set it before me. “The project we are working on is being held in the strictest confidence, and everyone working on it has to sign this contract. If you are to continue, you will have to do the same.”

I looked at the contract, annoyed that Beakbreaker hadn't mentioned anything about signing one. It seemed pretty straightforward, nothing too out of the ordinary, and with no secret clauses that allowed the University to take my home and everything I owned should I squawk to the press. Instead, there would be a rather hefty fee, more then enough to wipe out my entire bank account. Still, my curiosity wanted to find out what was inside that container. I signed.

“Well, everything seems to be in order,” Glasseye said after seeing my signature. “Beakbreaker?”

Heavy locks fell into place as Beakbreaker swung the door closed, sealing us in, and shutting everyone else out. Once satisfied that we weren't going to be disturbed, Beakbreaker went to the table and pulled the cloth off the container.

“Behold,” Glasseye said with pride, “the next great advancement in medical technology!”

I hadn't been sure what to expect from the container, but was caught off guard by what was inside... and how ordinary it was.

It was a leg. A pony leg, to be precise, suspended within a thick, blue gel.

“That's it?” I said. “You got me all the way down here, made me sign a contract, and swear me to secrecy over a leg?”

“Ah, but this is no ordinary leg,” Beakbreaker said, beaming.

“It's a leg removed from some famous pony, and you're trying to clone him?”

Beakbreaker shook her head. “No, not at all. This leg didn't come from anyone.”

It took me a few moments to realize what she was saying. “Wait... then if it didn't come from a pony, then where did it-”

“Here.” Beakbreaker indicated the lab. “This leg was grown here from scratch.”

The resulting silence lasted for several seconds. I couldn't speak, at a loss for words.

“Well, Mr. Silverspeak?” Glasseye asked. “What do you think?”

I drew closer to the container. Without thinking, I pushed the lid off and reached inside. Beakbreaker moved to stop me, but Glasseye held her back as I pulled the leg from the viscous liquid, wanting to feel it for myself. It looked real, complete with fine fuzz on the skin and solid muscle beneath. But the leg was cold, making it feel dead. I could only hold it for a few moments before getting uncomfortable, and put it back into the container.

"How... how did you make that?" I asked.

“Six years of all-nighters and several thousand gallons of coffee,” Beakbreaker said.

“But that's impossible. You can't just grow body parts in a lab.”

"You're half right," Glasseye said, walking over to peer at the leg. "The leg has muscles, bones, and skin, but no nerves. It's little more than meat at this point, and not what we need.”

“Which is where you come in,” Beakbreaker said. “If we're going to perfect the process, we need additional funding, and for you to write a proposal for us.”

Glasseye started yapping on about technical details and exactly what they needed, but I ignored him, focused only on the leg. I couldn't fathom how it had been grown in a lab: pony science was nowhere near capable of doing something like this, yet here it was. My mind spun as I realized the possibilities: if Beakbreaker could get her funding, and if further research was successful, than crippled ponies could be walking within a decade, no longer hindered by accidents, age, or disease.

Beakbreaker hadn't been lying when saying that this could be the biggest medical breakthrough of the past one hundred years. It would be the breakthrough to end all breakthroughs.

“...I had hoped to make the presentation myself, but I've been called to Canterlot on official university business,” Glasseye continued, unaware that I hadn't been listening. “Thus, it is Beakbreaker who will have to make the presentation. And you, Mr. Silverspeak, will be the one to ensure we get our funding.”

The presentation was the last thing on my mind. “How long will this leg last?” I asked. “Does it ever need to be infused with magic?”

“Begging your pardon, Mr. Silverspeak, but we don't have-”

“Nope,” Beakbreaker interrupted. “Never. It looks like the leg of an adult, but when we create a perfected version, the muscles and nerves will be that of a young adult at the peak of health. The whole thing should be able to go for at least eighty years.”

I stared at her, my eyes almost as wide as our dinner plates. An artificially grown leg that never needed magic? It sounds insane, but for a few moments it felt like Beakbreaker was laughing in the face of physics and all that seemed possible.

It occurred to me that with a steady flow of funding, and enough time, there might be no limit as to what she could accomplish.

While I had been nothing but amazed, Beakbreaker had interpreted my distant, blank gaze as disbelief, an expression she had apparently seen far too many times. “You don't believe me, do you?” she said. “Well, can't say I'm surprised.”

“Surprised?” I said. “Of course I am! Who wouldn't be! This is... amazing! You've created an actual leg!” I reached into the goo and yanked the leg back out. “This is going to change the medical industry forever! Possibly even the world! And if you're going to change the world, then I want to be a part of it!”

I was surprised to see Beakbreaker's lips and cheeks were quivering. I thought she was going to cry, and didn't know why she would. Later on, Beakbreaker would explain how so many ponies and scientists laughed at her theories about what could be accomplished regarding limbs, seeing her as a joker who's head was stuck in the clouds. Even Glasseye hadn't believed her when they first met. But at that moment, I became the first pony who took her seriously.

Breathing deep, she smiled and extended a hoof. “Partners?”

I took her hoof in mine, all too happy to do so. “Partners.”

***

The moment I returned home, I wasted no time in writing out the proposal, scrawling out paragraph after paragraph. Before I knew it, I had written ten pages that gushed about the benefits of artificially grown limbs for use in the handicapped. But, passionate as it was, the paper was too long for a oral proposal, and I had to start over, limiting myself to just three pages. But it was a joy to write, as I was all but consumed by the feeling of working on something that was going to change the world.

Before the sun dipped below the horizon, I had finished a proposal that would stir the hearts of even the most hardened corporate executive. It was some of my best work, yet there was still a twinge of doubt that those same executives would accept it. Ponies, for all our tolerance and acceptance of new things, do have our limits. To be precise, science that disrupts the natural order of things. An artificial leg made of wood and metal would be easily accepted, but limbs grown in a lab could be seen as a sacrilege against nature itself. It was no wonder Beakbreaker had tried to keep her work secret, for if anyone learned about the leg had been completed, her work might have been stopped before it began.

In the coming days, I revised and tweaked the proposal while Glasseye scouted out companies that could be interested in the leg and had a few million bits to spare for research and equipment. He finally found a potential partner with Medicomp, the largest medical corporation in Manehattan. They had a reputation for being open to new ideas, especially if they benefited the greater good. A meeting was scheduled, and after a few more revisions, I delivered the proposal to Beakbreaker at her apartment.

“Here it is,” I told her. “My best work yet.”

“That's fantastic!” Beakbreaker said. “Then we have no chance of failing!” But beneath the cheerful demeanor, I saw a zebra who was frightened out of her wits, and wondering if she even had a chance at pulling this off.

“You all right?" I asked. "You don't look so good.”

“Is it that obvious?”

“Just focus on giving the speech, and you'll be fine,” I assured her. Then, deciding that she could use a little boost to her self-esteem, I turned on the charm. “If you focus on how much you believe in this project, the board will sense it. Couple that with the fact that you've got lab-grown limbs, and they'll be begging you to take their money."

The charm worked. Beakbreaker breathed easier, and her posture improved in the blink of an eye. “You know what? I think you're right.” She looked the proposal over with a confident smile. “Well, I'd better start on memorizing this! Thanks for bringing it by!”

As I headed back to the subway, I felt... well, surprisingly good, more so then in a very long time. I had always used my gift of the silver tongue to make things easier for myself, but that had been the first time I used it to help someone.

I still remember how good it felt.

***

With the proposal written, I went back to my speeches, memos, and press releases at work. Nowhere near as exciting as medical proposals that could change the face of pony society forever, but I still had bills to pay.

On the day of Beakbreaker's presentation, I was eager upon heading in for work. I wouldn't know how the presentation went for another day or two, but the thought that my words could jumpstart a medical revolution was intoxicating. It was certainly fun to imagine a room filled with executives leaning forward in their seats, eager to catch every masterfully placed word, weeping at the expertly constructed sentences that would move them to emotional depths they'd never experienced before.

Of course, I had no way of knowing how the presentation would really go. I could write the finest speech ponykind had ever heard, but if Beakbreaker stumbled, yammered on, or got choked up from fear, then all the words in the world would mean nothing. But that wasn't up to me. I could only trust that she was going to do her best.

As the workday came to an end, I hurried out of the building, and found Beakbreaker waiting for me. “So,” I asked, hoping for the best, “how'd it go?”

Beakbreaker had the face of a poker player. I couldn't tell if she had muted joy or melancholy sorrow. “Well, I gave the presentation,” she said quietly, “But I kept stumbling. I was just so nervous, but then I remembered what you had told me, and managed to get through the rest of it.”

I nodded. “And?”

She paused, trying to figure the best way to break the news. “Well, after hearing it, they didn't seem quite convinced about actually making body parts.”

My heart sank.

“But...” a smile came across her face, “...some of the more senior members of the board thought it had potential. So they were able to overrule the others, and gave me the grant!”

“What? That's great!”

Beakbreaker nodded. “Now we've got all the bits we need... but there's a catch. The company wants results a year from now.” Her smile, beaming and radiant, dimmed. “It took me almost six to make that first leg, and now I've got to do the whole thing again in a fraction of that time. And if I can't do it, then we'll lose funding, and the project's as good as dead."

“You can do it though, right?” I asked as Beakbreaker slumped onto a nearby bench.

Beakbreaker was silent for a long moment. “I really don't know. I just don't. And there's something else: If the project dies, Medicomp can legally take all my work and continue development themselves, and there's nothing I can do about it.”

It was as if all the joy Beakbreaker had ever felt slipped away. “This... this is my life's work,” she whispered. “I can't lose it... I..." She tried to speak, but the words died in her throat, and she struggled not to cry.

I wanted to comfort Beakbreaker, to assure her that she'd get through this, but I didn't know how... until an idea struck me. “You said with some help you might be able to finish a second leg,” I said. “Why not ask around for that help? I could write proposals and send them to the best scientists in Equestria to see if they can help."

Beakbreaker looked up, damp hooves pulling away from her eyes. “You... you mean it?”

“Why not? If you were able to grow a leg by yourself, imagine what you could do with a team of the finest minds in Equestria.”

Thinking quickly, Beakbreaker pondered my proposal. It wasn't long before her smile came back. "Yes... yes! If you could write well enough to convince Medicomp to give us a try, then it should work for the scientists!" She beamed once more and jumped to her hooves. "Okay! We'll do it! When can you send out those letters?"

"Tomorrow. Now, there is the problem of knowing who to write to: I don't know any other scientists who could-"

"I'll write up a list and send it to your apartment later tonight," Beakbreaker said, her mind going a mile a minute. "Be sure to mention that we got funding to go ahead; most scientists won't jump on something unless it's being funded by a well-known organization. That'll show that we're serious and not just a bunch of crazies!" She jumped up and down. "Oh my gosh, we're actually doing this! Oh!" She reached into a pocket of her coat and pulled out a small bag of bits. "Here. You've earned these. And I'll gladly pay you for writing those letters."

I took the bits, glad for them, but they were the last thing on my mind. The thought of Beakbreaker succeeding, and changing the face of medicine as we knew it, was more important than bits.

“Oh my, I'd better head back and get started! Can't waste a second! I'll talk to you later!

Turning, Beakbreaker dashed off. I couldn't blame her for running with the vigor of the possessed. We had taken the first steps towards her dream, and if we pulled this next one off, it would come so much closer to coming true.

***

The following year was one of those where you're constantly busy, yet wonder where the time went when the new year rolls around. For me, that year was spent writing all manner of documents for my day job, and, more importantly, for Beakbreaker, including the letters to scientists and doctors asking if they would be interested in helping Beakbreaker. Most weren't for one reason or another, but a few were intrigued, and after learning what was going on, threw themselves into the project with vigor equal to Beakbreaker.

Within two months, Beakbreaker's team had grown to five ponies, including Glasseye. Though she was the youngest, Beakbreaker was the leader, for she not only had worked the longest and the hardest to make it come true, but had more drive than everyone else combined. Glasseye wasn't happy at all with that arrangement, and voiced his displeasure to anyone who listened. Being the head of science, he believed that it was his right to lead such an important project, wanting to bring glory to the university, rather then just a single graduate. Privately, I thought he was more interested in bringing glory to himself, but kept silent, instead letting things play out as they would.

Despite working for her, I rarely saw Beakbreaker during the year. Being the only non-scientist granted access to the lab (on Beakbreaker's orders), I went down every now and then to see how things were going, and Beakbreaker was always hard at work. I learned from Glasseye that it was common for her to spend all night at the lab, sometimes only grabbing a few hours of sleep, or sometimes none at all. She could go weeks without seeing Celestia's sun, so much so that she began to turn slightly pale.

Still, even with the money, equipment, and scientists she needed, Beakbreaker's work was not a fast-paced venture, for she needed time to manage the complex process of tissue and muscle growth, while trying to speed up the process without causing any mistakes or issues in the leg. Progress was steady: the bones were grown first, and once they had set, the muscles came next, along with nerves and sinew.

Inch by inch, month by month, Beakbreaker's leg began to take shape.

Those who entered the lab began to sense that something miraculous was happening. It was like watching an alchemist turn water into gold. I must admit to feeling a rush of pride at seeing the leg. Though it was Beakbreaker's baby, I felt like the father.

Finally, at long last, Beakbreaker sent word on a cold day in late winter: the leg was ready.

Throwing on my cold-weather gear, I wasted no time in running to the lab, my heart pounding as I passed through the checkpoints and heavily sealed doors, finding the leg propped on a table, connected to life-support equipment and surrounded by awestruck scientists and doctors, eager to touch the limb and feel the life within it. Even Glasseye seemed humbled at the miracle before him.

Beakbreaker herself stood off to the side, beaming with pride at seeing so many individuals crowding around her work. Considering how many of them would have laughed at her ideas a few years earlier, it must have been oh-so satisfying to see them won over. She walked over at spotting me, exhausted, yet full of excitement.

“Silverspeak,” she said. “Can you write a letter to Medicomp? Let them know that the leg is ready, and we're prepared to present it.”

I wasted no time in doing so, and the reply was just as fast. A date and time was set for the presentation, and before we all knew it, the big day arrived. Normally, only Beakbreaker and her immediate coworkers would have gone to the meeting, but she insisted that I come along as well, noting that even without contributing a single bit or hour of time in the lab, I had done so much for the project, and figured that this presentation belonged to me as it did for everyone else. Honored by such a request, I dressed in my finest clothes and met up with her and the others as we entered the towering skyscraper of Manehattan's largest medical corporation.

The leg was carried by Glasseye, sealed within a medical grade carrying case. We got many curious gazes as we checked in, passed through the lobby, and entered the elevator that would take us to the top floor. Even without knowing what we were carrying, it was as if the random passerby sensed the importance of our mission.

Reaching the top floor, we went through elegant halls filled with lush carpeting and the finest furniture, and once we entered the meeting room, I saw why Beakbreaker had been so nervous coming here for the first time: the was a single, U-shaped table in the room, so that anyone asking for a grant would feel like they were in a courtroom standing before a panel of judges. The fifteen older ponies at the table had the looks and lack of smiles that judges would have. A few were interested in what we had to say, but the others had their doubts, apparently figuring this was all a hoax or a waste of time.

Beakbreaker took her place before the board members, tired and worn out from her year of hard labor, but there was no fear this time, no doubt or worry that things would go wrong.

“Thank you all for allowing me to come here today,” Beakbreaker said, reciting the words I had written for her. “But I also want to thank you for being present on what may be one of the most important days in medical history. Many have doubted my proposal and what I can accomplish. But thanks to your generosity, my dream is now one step closer to reality, and I'm here to share it with you."

Glasseye walked forward and set the case down.

“Mares and gentlecolts,” Beakbreaker said, grinning ear to ear. “Allow me to present the world's first completely organic replacement limb.”

Glasseye's horn glowed, and the leg was lifted from the case, held up for all to see. Even now, I can still see the shock and amazement on the board member's faces.

“The limb you see before you is no fake, nor well made prosthesis,” Beakbreaker continued, knowing that she had the audience in her hooves. “It is a pony leg that grown in a lab. There is no metal, wood, or steel within it, just bone, blood, muscle, and nerves. Nothing you wouldn't find in nature.”

Taking the leg, Beakbreaker pulled out a needle and pricked the skin. The leg twitched. Another prick, and it thrashed. “As you can see, it has nerves and is capable of feeling pain.” She put the needle away and stroked the leg. I could see the hairs flattening against skin. “It also has the capacity to feel pleasurable touch. You can't get that with a metal leg.”

Beakbreaker nodded to Glasseye, who levitated the leg and slowly passed it around the table, allowing the board members to touch it for themselves.

“This leg is alive, but no brain controls it. Yet, when connected with a patient's nervous system, it can be rewired to act as if it had always been there. The leg we have is grey, but we have the ability to color the fur to any tone imaginable. Once attached, even the patient won't be able to tell the difference between their new leg, and the one they lost.”

When the leg had completed it's rounds around the table, and the excited executives all got a chance to touch it, Beakbreaker moved in for the kill. “Now, think of what this leg represents. It is the first of it's kind, but it still has room for improvement. It took almost a year to create, but with further research and development, we can cut that time in half, or even half again. Within a few years, we can create legs for ponies who have lost their own. The crippled could walk again. The infirm could gallop through forests and grasslands. The elderly could gain new vitality with legs stronger then what they had before. Crude prosthetics would be a relic consigned to the history books. No longer would ponies be bound to wheelchairs for life or unable to get around on their own. We are at the brink of something extraordinary.”

She smiled, and delivered the punch line. “And that is why I am asking you for your help in making that dream a reality.”

***

By the end of the day, Beakbreaker had gotten all the bits she could ever want, and the finest medical equipment bits could buy. And not only that, but she would no longer have to work in the dark confines of the university, but in one of Medicomp's state of the art laboratories within the tower, and with her current staff and any others she needed.

I was happy for Beakbreaker, but no one could match her ecstasy at being accepted. No, that's not the right word. She was beyond ecstasy. Her dreams were coming true, and I have never seen anyone, pony or otherwise, be so caught up in the embrace of happiness that it seemed like they would burst.

There was so much to do, so much data to transfer and equipment to take to the labs, but Beakbreaker, having almost worked herself to death during the past year, wanted to take a few days off to relax, and on the night of having her leg accepted by Medicomp, Beakbreaker invited me out to dinner, and a celebration of a victory that had been hard won. As the sun set, and the rays of gold and orange lit up the sky, I found myself with Beakbreaker in a fancy restaurant atop a tall tower, giving us both a gorgeous view of the city skyline.

We didn't talk business most of that evening, mainly sharing drinks as Beakbreaker delighted herself by relaying story after story of some moment that had made her so frustrated and upset during that year in the labs. And despite knowing next to nothing about science in general, I went along, glad just to see Beakbreaker laughing.

The hours passed. The other diners began to drift away, until the two of us were the only ones inside the restaurant, sipping away at our latest bottles of cider.

“Wow,” Beakbreaker said. “Amazing how time flies, doesn't it? I suppose I'd better head home... it'll be nice to actually sleep in for once.” She rose from the booth, slightly intoxicated, but not enough to ruin her eye-hoof coordination. “Oh, before I forget...” She rummaged around and pulled another bag of bits from her coat. "Here Double your fee. I'd say you earned it."

"Oh, thank you!" I said. The bits would be enough to pay my rent for two months. "But still, don't forget who gave the speech."

Smiling, Beakbreaker started towards the door. But she stopped halfway to it and seemed lost in thought, the effects of the cider fading away. “Listen, Silverspeak,” she said. “I... I really don't know how to thank you for everything you've done.”

“It's all right,” I told her. “I'm just glad I could help make a dream come true."

“No, I mean it," Beakbreaker said. Any joking or gentle mockery was gone. "I mean, without you, we probably wouldn't be here right now. I'd probably be stuck in a grocery store pharmacy, drinking myself into a stupor every night.”

She stepped in close, and for a moment I wondered if Beakbreaker was going to kiss me. But she didn't, her eyes peering into mine, as if trying to discover my deepest desires.

“I don't know how I can ever repay you,” she said. “But If you ever need a favor, or anything medical related, then it's yours, no questions asked.”

I was caught off guard by her offer. "Thank you," I said with a smile. "If I ever lose a leg...Celestia forbid that ever happens...then I know who to come to.”

“And I'll perform the surgery myself,” Beakbreaker said. “Free of charge.” She took my hoof and gave it a quick kiss. “Good night, Silverspeak. I had a great time.” Then, after leaving her share of the bill on the table, she waltzed out of the restaurant, tired, but happy.

I watched her go, not as happy as Beakbreaker was, but still content at knowing that I was fulfilling my purpose, and, more importantly, that all was right with the world, and all was as it should be.

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