Pipsqueak is a nerdy and awkward colt in high school. That is, until he gets bitten by a Star Spider while on a field trip. Now he's got all sorts of strange powers. Now he's going to learn that with great power, comes great responsbility
Okay, he is a science major, so it's not like he's dumb or anything. But he's not what you would consider one of the 'cool colts'. He's just another face in the crowd, just trying to survive high school like any number of his fellow students.
That is, until he goes on a field trip to RichCorp, the corporation at the very cutting edge of everything scientific. While there, he gets bitten by a rare Star Spider. Soon, he starts to develop strange new powers and abilities. Now he's anything but normal. And with those powers, he'll learn a very important lesson:
With great power, comes great responsibility.
Pip now isn't just another face in the crowd. Now, he swings from the rooftops, keeping the city safe from danger.
The pegasus let out a bored sigh, pumping his wings again to maintain his gliding position above the large expanse of desert. Below him, standing out in sharp contrast to the rather bland browns and yellows of desert, was a black strip of road, upon which, glimmering in the sunlight, was a little blue car. From what the pegasus could see, it was a rather mundane four-door, speeding along at a brisk pace.
Must be out of towners, the pegasus thought, flexing his wings to send him banking to the east. He was getting distracted. His job was to survey the surrounding valley and lay out some simple coordinates that would later be used for housing developments.
Just survey the land and then you’ll be able to go back home. He told himself, swooping down towards the ground as he arrived at his search grid for the day, the automobile nowhere near the forefront of his mind.
Two hours had passed, and the surveyor began to pack his bags. He had completed his grid, and let out a grunt as he flexed his wings and back. Time to go, he thought, zipping the duffle bag shut.
A sudden low rumble caught his ear, and he looked off towards the horizon. A large plume of smoke billowed on the horizon. The surveyor raised an eyebrow.
“Well that’s odd…” he muttered to no one in particular. He slipped the duffle bag on his shoulder, pumping his wings and flying towards the smoke cloud. Something was wrong, that was for sure. There were no oil fields in this area, so the smoke must be from an accidental fire. As he flew through the air, he pulled out his camera, readying it for use.
Whatever it is, I’d better photograph it. Then contact the authorities. He thought. ...and sell the photos to the paper maybe…
As he got closer to the smoke, however, any optimism he had vanished like dust in the wind. It turned out, the smoke was from a large train that had managed to be derailed by a vaguely familiar blue lump of metal.
Mayflower was bent over the counter, busily clipping coupons for the next day’s shopping. The radio was tuned into the classical music station. The sound of a nature documentary drifted from the living room, where she knew her nephew, Pipsqueak, was most likely entranced by the intricacies of nature. He'd been left here by his parents, who had been asked to attend a science conference out in San Palomino.
The sound of someone knocking at the door caught Mayflower’s ears, and she straightened up.
“Honey, somepony’s at the door.” she called out. Probably just one of his poker buddies. She mused, returning her attention to the coupons. Her suspicions were confirmed when she heard Copper Wire heave himself up from his armchair and head towards the door, most likely firmly clutching his nightly Clydesdale. She thought nothing of it at first, busily working at her couponing, until the shattering of glass caught her attention.
“Honey?” she called out, setting her scissors down to turn and head towards the door. She was greeted by the sight of two police officers, one of whom she vaguely recognized as one of her husband’s old army teammates, looking very somber. She looked towards Copper Wire, who had grown noticeably pale, and looked as if he’d just been shot. His beer was in a puddle around his hooves.
“I’m so sorry, Copper, I really am.” the officer said.
“Sorry about what?” Mayflower asked, stepping forward. Copper Wire leaned in close, quietly whispering into her ear. As he spoke, Mayflower felt her entire body grow heavy.
“No...no…” she said quietly, shaking her head. She felt as if someone had taken a knife and plunged it into her. “They can’t be dead...they said they were coming back on Friday,” she cried, shaking her head again.
“I’m so sorry, Mayflower. But the train--”
Mayflower fell to the ground, letting out an anguished cry. Both of them, dead. She looked towards Pip, who was still watching television.
“He’s...he’s all alone now.” she said quietly, as Copper Wire somberly bid his friend goodbye, and closed the door slowly. He then leaned down, gently helping her to her hooves, and she leaned up against him, tears flowing freely.
“What are we going to do?” she sobbed, looking into her husbands eyes. He simply hugged her tightly, gently stroking her graying mane.
“Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out.”
Pipsqueak, meanwhile paid the adults no notice, instead observing the nature documentary on TV. He shivered slightly as the image of a giant spider climbing a leaf filled the screen.
Castle of the Two Sisters - The Everfree Forest - Five Years Later
“Are you sure, Doctor Bunsen?” The young stallion asked, flinching for what seemed to be the hundredth time at the sound of the wind blowing through the empty castle around him. He looked around fearfully, the large, empty castle looming over him, blocking out the soft breeze that had been so wonderful at the entrance of this hellhole of a forest.
“Yes, yes I am sure, Honeydew. Now, are you going to help me find the arachnids we need, or are you going to continue to complain?”
Honeydew let out a vague sound of unease.
The older scientist sighed. “Do you want me to inform your professor at the university that you abandoned your extra credit assignment because of a couple hundred mosquito bites?”
Honeydew winced. “No, no, I don’t. It’s just...this place is so...creepy.” he said, slapping away a particularly big mosquito. “I mean, like, we don’t even control any of it.”
“So? The griffins don’t control the weather or nature of their country and are just fine. Your argument is on weak ground Beaker.” Dr. Bunsen replied grumpily.
“Um, my name isn’t Beaker, sir. It’s Honeydew.”
Dr. Bunsen just looked over his shoulder, eyebrow arched critically. Honeydew sighed, letting his shoulders sag. “I’ll shut up now.”
“Good. Now, to answer your question, yes, I believe we are close to the spider nest. According to my research--which is always accurate--The Star Spider lives in and around the Castle of the Two Sisters. They prefer dark, damp areas. This place is full of those. Just look around for a cleft in the rock or some sort of hole in the ground, and you’ll find some.”
“But this is a castle. There must be a thousand rooms in this place.”
“Beaker. Stop complaining. Start looking. Or I shall leave the premises without you.” Dr. Bunsen replied sharply, and Honeydew nodded meekly. He reached into his pocket, pulling out a small flashlight, flicking it on and shining it about, searching for any place that looked damp or dark.
Given the ancient castle’s state of repair however, it seemed that ‘damp and dark’ applied to every square inch.
Now think Honeydew. If I were a mystical spider, where would I hide? he thought, looking along the castle walls, not really paying much attention to the faded frescoes and mosaics that showed golden clad alicorns in some sort of kingdom. That was for an art student. Honeydew continued to search, occasionally tentatively pounding his fist on the wall to feel along the walls, for a loose brick or a hidden door.
Suddenly, a part of the wall crumbled away, and a sudden swarm of jet black spiders poured out of the hole. On their abdomen was a bright blue star, which glowed faintly in the dark. Honeydew however, was far too busy screaming at the top of his lungs to notice the anatomical details of the spiders.
“GAH! GET ‘EM OFF ME GET ‘EM OFF!!!!!!!” he screamed, before feeling himself get dragged asides by a halo of green magic.
“BEAKER YOU FOOL! You’ve disturbed--” Dr. Bunsen stopped mid sentence, whipping out a clear glass jar and scooping up several hundred of the spiders. “You’ve done a wonderful job! Consider yourself promoted!” he finished, his voice loosing it’s previous venom.
A bewildered Honeydew blinked. “Wha?”
“You found the spider nest. Good job.” Dr. Beaker said, already heading towards the exit. “Now, are you going to stay here, letting wild spiders crawl all over you, or are you going to help me take these spiders back to RichCorp and to Dr. Cheerilee’s lab?”
Honeydew quickly clambered up to his hooves. “Here I come sir!” Quickly following the older scientist out of the old castle.
Dr. Bunsen carefully lifted the jar containing a small hoard of spiders in an aura of green magic. He swiftly moved it to the chamber that he and Honeydew stood in front of. It was a stout, glass-walled affair, with a nest of cables and nozzles running from the camber to come together at the pair of laser emitters that flanked the case. With a flicker of his horn, Dr. Bunsen deposited the jar inside the chamber, popping open the lid and gently shaking it to provoke the spiders into moving about before he emptied the jar entirely.
Outside the chamber, and behind two layers of magically reinforced transparent fiberglass, stood Honeydew and Dr. Bunsen. In front of them, quietly whirring and beeping, was a large, extraordinarily complex control panel, that looked more at home in a bad science fiction film than an actual laboratory.
Honeydew turned towards Dr. Bunsen with unease. “Are you sure this will work?” He squeaked nervously. Dr. Bunsen rolled his eyes, pushing his glasses up his muzzle slightly.
“Of course it will, Beaker. I’ve run the simulation at least a hundred times. It is going to work perfectly.” he replied rather acerbically, fiddling with the knobs and dials in front of him as he spoke. A couple dozen switch-flips later, a calm, feminine voice spoke over the intercom.
“Beginning thaumatic build up, please stand clear of the test chamber”
Bunsen turned to Honeydew, eyebrow raised critically. “Now, you didn’t leave your watch in there again, did you Beaker?”
Honeydew shook his head. “Meep-I mean no, no sir!” he answered, rubbing his orange hair reflexively. Memories of several weeks as a glowing energy being came to mind. It wasn’t an experience he wished to repeat.
“Thaumatic charge exceeding nine thousand Megathaums, discharge in thirty seconds.” the voice stated flatly, and Dr. Bunsen nodded.
“Watch now, Beaker. It’s almost ready.”
Honeydew bit his lip, taking a step back. “Oh joy...” He murmured, slipping the polarized goggles on. Getting hit by over nine thousand megathaums didn’t sound fun at all, even for something as gross as a spider.
The electronic voice of the computer began to count down steadily, and Honeydew hunkered down behind the desk, ignoring the snide remarks from Dr. Bunsen.
The emitters glowed with an strange blue light before two identical white-blue beams blazed out of the emitters and spread out like a spider web, shooting from spider to spider as the hundreds of arachnids crawled along the chamber walls. Honeydew covered his ears as the whine of the emitters proved to be unbearable and the light only intensified, beginning to overwhelm the polarized lenses of the goggles. The last thing Honeydew saw before he had to cover his eyes were the spiders, suspended in the beams, all writhing in pain.
The scream of the alarm clock hit Pipsqueak’s ears like a freight train. He let out a groan, stuffing his head under the pillow.
“Five more minutes…” he droned, blindly reaching his hoof out in an attempt to silence the horribly inconsiderate machine. He reached as far as possible, finding nothing but thin air. Dang it, where are you? He thought, before letting out a yelp as he lost his balance and fell out of bed with a thump. He swung his arms wildly as he fell, finally catching the alarm clock, which merely slid off the nightstand and plopped onto his head.
“Stupid bloody thing…” he muttered, blinking as he tried to find the snooze button. Forgot me glasses. He grumbled, reaching behind himself again to paw along the nightstand, his fingers finally feeling the plastic of the frames. He pulled them onto his face, blinking a few times as his eyes adjusted. There you are! He smiled as he firmly pressed the snooze button, finally causing the alarm to cease its cries. Satisfied that the alarm was silent, Pipsqueak stood up, flexing his skinny frame to loosen up for the day ahead, putting the alarm clock back on the nightstand.
The early morning sunlight drifted through the windows, illuminating the bedroom with a soft glow. Outside, the city streets were covered in a layer of fog, and the leaves had already begun falling off the trees. Pip, however, wasn’t really focusing on that, as a knock on the door caught his attention.
“Pip, dearie, are you alright?” came his Aunt Mayflower’s voice, sounding concerned. “I heard something fall.”
Pipsqueak shook his head.
“Um, no, I’m good Auntie,” he yawned, stretching as he spoke. “Right as rain, just fell outta bed.” His aunt could be heard chuckling from the other side of the door.
“Well, alright, then…” her gentle voice chimed back. “You should be getting ready though, school starts in two hours. Wouldn’t want to miss the first day.”
Pip’s eyes nearly exploded out of his skull. “It’s the first day o’ school?! Already?!” he panicked, and he could practically hear his aunt nodding her head.
“Yes, yes it is, now go get yourself ready so you don’t miss the bus.” With that, the older mare could be heard walking away. Pipsqueak, meanwhile, immediately grabbing the comb on his dresser and running it through his mane in an attempt to make his wild mane look ever. He swung the door open, scampering down the staircase and into the kitchen, where he was greeted by the sight of Aunt Mayflower, busily cooking what seemed to be pancakes.
“Well, look who’s up and at'em,” his uncle chuckled, looking up from his morning paper. “How’s the champ doing?”
Pip nodded, slipping into the chair he normally used at the kitchen table. “Right as rain,” he looked over towards the stove. “We eatin’ pancakes?”
“Yes, yes we are,” Aunt Mayflower answered, placing the plate filled with steaming hot pancakes. “They’re buttermilk chocolate chip, your favorite,” she smiled, taking her place besides Uncle Copper, who put his arm around her to give her a half hug. Pipsqueak smiled broadly.
“Brillant!” he cheered, practically ripping several pancakes off the top of the pile and onto his plate. The family then proceeded to eat calmly, with Pip using enough maple syrup to make a small ocean in his plate. As he put the syrup back down, he paused. “Half a mo’. It’s Monday. We don’t ‘ave pancakes on a Monday.”
Uncle Copper smiled one of his ‘scheming friend’ smiles. “No… unless it’s a birthday.”
It was then that everything dawned on Pip. “Oh my gosh! I totally forgot!” he said, face palming. “How could I forget that?!”
Uncle Copper leaned over, playfully ruffling Pip’s mane. “Because you are one easily distracted lad,” he laughed warmly, and Pip smiled.
“Or simply because he and I were preparing for school; after all, he needed new clothing. What with all that grease staining them,” Mayflower countered sweetly, giving Pip a knowing glance. “I still don’t understand why you felt so compelled to rebuild that old heap of rubbish.”
“Old heap of rubbish?!” Pip cried in mock outrage around a mouthful of pancakes. He paused to swallow after earning a glance from Mayflower. “I will ‘ave you know that that ‘old heap of rubbish’ is a 1965 Ponyac GTO convertible! It’s a classic!”
Mayflower nodded. “Yes dear, I know. I was with your Uncle when he bought it twenty years ago. It didn’t run then, and-”
“It runs now!” Pip stated proudly, puffing his chest out.
“Does it really?” Mayflower asked, looking at her husband in surprise. He simply nodded, motioning towards Pip. “You fixed it?” she asked again, and Pip nodded proudly.
“Damn right I did! All she needs is some oil an’ tires and she should run like new,” he crossed his arm with pride.
Copper Wire tapped his chin. “Well, considerin’ that I changed the oil and put on new tires last night, I think that now would be a perfect time to test that. Consider it part of your birthday present.”
Both May and Pip turned to gawk at him. “Really!?”
Copper Wire nodded. “Yes, really. Git the keys, I’ll drive you to school.”
Pip's face practically exploded into a huge smile, and he bolted out of his chair, scampering off into the garage, a frenzied thanks ringing out behind him as he almost slammed the door behind him. Within less than two minutes, the low rumble of the car’s 6.6 liter V8 engine filtered into the house. Mayflower said nothing at first, instead turning to simply give Copper Wire an unimpressed look.
“You’re not serious, are you? You’re driving him to school in that?”
“Oh, sweetie,” Copper said, standing up and pulling his wife into a tight hug. “‘e’s a smart lad. We’ll be perfectly fine. Anyways, it’s ‘is birthday, let ‘im live a little. I mean, when I was ‘is age, I was already driving meself to school."
Mayflower sighed, looking down at the tabletop. "I know, I know, but I still worry."
"I know. And I know that you know that I would never do anythin’ that would put ‘im in danger." He hugged her again, gently putting his hoof under her chin and moving her face up towards him. "Now, where's that ‘appy little honeybunny I met all those years ago?"
Mayflower smiled lovingly, giving him a quick peck. "Right here, pumpkin’." They both laughed warmly, and hugged tighter.
Their private moment, however, was interrupted by the sound of the car horn blaring from the garage.
"Oi! Uncle Copper!” Pip called out, shouting at the top of his lungs. “Come along or I'll be late!"
Copper Wire shrugged.
"Well, duty calls." He ended the hug, giving her a kiss on the cheek, earning a giggle from her.
"Go on now, or he'll be late!" She gently pushed him away, still smiling from ear to ear.
"Tarry not, for I shall return for my maiden fair," he blew her one final kiss before stepping outside and going into the garage.
Featherweight sighed, shifted in his seat, glanced across the interior of the limo to where his sister sat. She was slouched in her seat slightly, her bright white sweater contrasting with her purple coat. Her hooves were tucked under her on the seat snugly, and she looked out the window, her expression looking vaguely worrisome.
“There’s no need to be worried, my dear,” their father, a tall, authoritative looking stallion said. “The doctors say that your new medicine should prevent any more…” he paused, and Featherweight glanced towards him, catching his tentative smile. “... unwanted incidents from happening.”
Diamond Tiara simply sighed, nodding slightly. “Yes, daddy,” she replied with understanding, laced with ambivalence, but Featherweight could still catch the slightest hint of trepidation in her voice. It looked as if she was dreading school.
Featherweight and his sister had never been on very good terms. She was always the smarter of the two, and her manipulative ways seemed to resonate with their father more than Featherweight’s (relatively) more straightforward thinking and honest approach. For the past three months however, his relationship with his sister had taken a decided turn for the worse. It had all started during the summer break. For some reason, Diamond had begun to always complain about some sort of headache or something. Her fuse, which had always seemed to be on the short side, had practically vanished over the summer, and she was constantly snapping at him, her tone always biting and irritated. Then, a few weeks later, Diamond woke everybody up in the middle of the night, screaming about her coat. After that, it had been a flurry of doctors and scientists coming in and out, and Featherweight had been completely cut out from everything. “Your sister is sick” was all anyone would tell him. He cast a forlorn gaze outside the tinted window of the limousine. It didn’t help that Filthy now doted over Diamond constantly, and Diamond seemed to have grown even more abrasive towards Featherweight.
At least I’ll be able to get away from her for a few hours.
This morning however, she’d seemed oddly lacking in her normal confidence. The way she moved and acted, it seemed like she were walking on eggshells. She’d practically begged their father to allow her to stay home, something Featherweight found downright baffling. If there was anyone who adored the complex social dynamics of high school, it was Diamond Tiara.
Their father would have none of it, and he had stuffed the two of them into the limo, driving off towards the school. They had to ‘learn to pull themselves up by their bootstraps’. So here they were, being driven to school against their will.
Finally, something we can relate on, Featherweight thought, shifting in his seat again. The feeling of the car slowing down brought Featherweight out of his ruminations, and he looked out the window to see the entrance of the school. He was already reaching for the doorhandle when he heard his sister speak up for the first time since they left.
Both Featherweight and Filthy turned to look at Diamond. “What?” Filthy asked, raising an eyebrow.
Diamond swallowed slightly, shifting to tuck her boot covered hooves under her torso like a cat. “Can we, um, drive around the block please?”
Featherweight rolled his eyes, looking back out the window again. He honestly just wanted to get into the school building and get the day over with. But apparently, Diamond had developed a love for procrastination over the summer.
“Why? The entrance is right over there,” Filthy asked, visibly confused.
Diamond shifted in her seat. “Just because. I’m-”
Their father interrupted. “Listen, Diamond. I know what’s it like to feel nervous. While my own situation was not quite the same, I still know how you feel. The first time I went to school, I was terrified.”
The thought of his father feeling fear was so boggling Featherweight had trouble focusing on the rest of his father’s words.
“I let my fear rule me for most of the term,” Filthy father continued. “But then I realized something: life is, in the end, simple. You are put on the earth and it’s your job to make the most of it. It doesn’t matter if you are given a king’s fortune or a beggar's cup, there is nothing that can be allowed to stop you from discerning what steps you require to achieve your goal and implementing them.”
Privately, Featherweight actually agreed with his father, which was something of an oddity. You couldn't count on others to do everything. A lot of the time, you couldn't count on them to do anything. You had to get things done yourself.
His father leaned forwards and looked them both in the eye. His tone changed to one that command all attention in the car. “Always remember this: You are who you choose to be.” He sat back in his seat and gestured towards the door. “Now go out there and choose.”
“Alright then, are you ready?” Derpy asked, turning to look at the pale lavender unicorn sitting across from her. The filly was looking out the window, her brow furrowed slightly.
“There’s a lot of ponies out there,” she answered quietly, her expression growing somewhat uneasy. She glanced towards her mother. “You know, I’m kinda still okay with being homeschooled. I mean, dad was gonna show me how quarks work today and--”
“Dinky, you yourself said you’d rather be in a normal school than locked in the building all day," Derpy said, motioning towards the school building. "And to be honest, me and your father think you really need to open up and make some friends."
Dinky rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. "You make me sound like some kind of hermit, Mom. I'm not. I mean, I just don’t think we’ve done enough fieldwork to create a proper-"
"Dinky, you're starting to sound like your father. Look, I know firsthoof how it feels to not fit in okay? But the only way you can hone your social skills is to be in a social environment. As smart as you are, book smarts aren't the same as social smarts."
“I can reprogram a robot to do that,” Dinky countered, shifting her weight, and slouching slightly.
Derpy let out a chuckle. "H.E.R.B.I.E. isn't the same as a real friend. You sound like your dad. Don't worry yourself," she put a hoof on Dinky's shoulder. “But I do want you to remember one thing, muffin,” she said, adopting a much more serious tone, “You don’t know what somepony is like deep down, so try to be as kind as you can be to everypony. You never know who might be your next best friend." She unclipped Dinky's seatbelt. “Promise me you’ll remember that?”
Dinky took a breath, smiling meekly. "Okay Mom. I'll do my best."
"Which is good enough for me," Derpy was quick to add, her smile growing as Dinky opened the door to the minivan and stepped outside, slinging her backpack over her back with her magic. Derpy waved goodbye. "Remember, have fun! And call me if you need anything!"
Dinky turned and waved back. "Sure thing Mom! Have fun at the lab!" She turned back towards the school, taking a few steps before coming to a sudden halt. "Oh my gosh! I forgot! Remember to tell Dad that he promised to feed Tesla!" A few more steps. "Oh and Edison too!"
"Don't worry, I'll remind him!" Derpy responded as she drove off, leaving Dinky alone. Dinky turned towards the school building again, watching as dozens upon dozens of her fellow students started to slowly trudge their way into the building. She took a deep breath, straightening herself out.
Well… the grand experiment begins, I guess, she thought, swallowing one final time and starting forward.
“Okay then, champ. Do you ‘ave everythin’?” Copper Wire asked, looking over at Pipsqueak, who just unzipped his backpack.
“Let’s find out…” he said as he began to rummage through his personal school equipment. "I ‘ave me camera, me sketchpad, me books, me notepad… yup I think I got it all,” Pip answered, with a satisfying smile and closed up his backpack. “I think I’m ready.” He reached towards the door handle, only to be stopped by Copper Wire’s hand on his shoulder.
“‘old on there bud,” Copper Wire said, and Pip raised an eyebrow. “I just want to share some advice before you go.”
“Uh… okay,” Pip replied, releasing the door handle pushing his glasses up his nose. “What is it? Did I make the timin’ belt too loose, because I think I can fi-”
“It has nothin’ to do wit the car, Pip. It ‘as to do with you.” Copper Wire answered calmly, and Pip raised his eyebrows again.
“With me? Why, what did I do wrong?” he asked, wondering why his uncle suddenly seemed so sober. Copper Wire shook his head.
“No, you didn’t do anythin’ wrong. I just want to give you some advice for your life, after all, you’re turnin’ fifteen today, and today is the day you really start down the road to stallion’ood.”
Pip said nothing, instead simply glancing around slightly and briefly wetting his lips out of reflex. The conversation had taken a decided turn for the heavy. “Oh… um… you sure?” he asked, tilting his head slightly.
Copper Wire nodded. “Sure as ever. You’ve really grown a lot this summer. But you’ve still got a ways to go. You’re gifted champ, you know that, right?”
Pip shrugged. "Um, yeah, I s’pose I am."
“And everyday for the rest o’ your life, I want you to remember this, and this is something that your father used to say… if you have the power to help others, then it’s your obligation to help them. With any kind of power, comes a great deal o’ responsibili’y."
Pip nodded intently, sensing that this was a time for reverence, not sharp witticisms. "Yes sir, I understand.”
Copper Wire smiled. “Good, that’s good." If Pip didn’t know any better, he’d say the old stallion was choking up. “Now, time for you to git goin’,” Copper leaned forward and embraced Pip for the first time of the day. “I’m not goin’ to the principal’s office the first day of school," he added slyly, giving Pip a good, strong pat on the back.
“Yes, Sir!” Pip answered with a smile, giving him a quick salute and opening the car door and scampering off through the maze of teenagers.
Copper Wire, meanwhile, looked out as Pip started towards the school. Pip turned and waved, nodding his head. “‘e’ll be alright,” Copper nodded to himself, starting the ignition to his vehicle.
Pip walked along, vaguely ruminating over his uncle’s words. He was so wrapped up in his uncle's words that he was suddenly blindsided by a bundle of lavender.
“Bloody ‘ell!” he shouted as he crashed into the other pony, forcing them both to sprawl awkwardly over the pavement.
“Oh my gosh!” came a female voice, and Pip blinked a few times, his vision blurry. “I’m so sorry!"
“No, it’s alright,” he began, reaching to gather up his stuff. “I really should ‘ave watched where I was goin’.” He stuffed his papers and books rather sloppily into his backpack as he spoke, now searching for his missing glasses.
“Oh no, it was my fault,” the other pony apologized, scooping up her own books. “Um, here,” she added, picking up his specs and handing them to him.
“Thanks, Miss,” he expressed as he placed them over his face, happy to see that they weren’t broken or scratched in any overly irritating capacity. “And, at any rate, you don’t really have to blame yourself,” Pip replied, shaking his head as he reached for a nearby book, only stopping when the other pony reached for it as well. Instinctively Pip drew his hoof back before looking up, fully taking in the other pony for the first time.
She was a unicorn of some shade of violet, complimented flawlessly by platinum blonde locks that went down to her shoulders. Radiant seemed to be an apt word to describe her in her coat, adorned with a quintet of gold stars on her flank. Though she lacked Pip’s height, she also lacked his awkward and lanky frame, and then more than made up for it with her slim, yes decisively and near fully formed, body. Within the next few moments, Pip found himself staring into those two bronze novas that she’d claimed as her eyes.
“I-I’m really so sorry about all that,” she suddenly said, snapping Pip out of his fantasy. Pip blinked rapidly, shaking his head slightly to clear it.
“Um, I’m sorry what?” he asked, and the filly sighed slightly, looking down at the ground in embarrassment.
“I said I’m sorry. It’s my first day here, and I guess I’m a little bit nervous…” she blushed slightly, and a lock of her mane fell in front of her eyes, making her look even more angelic. Pip swallowed, before blinking again.
“Um, no, no that’s perfectly alright! I mean, it’s really not all that bad once you git used to it.”
The filly looked up at him. “Really?” she then smiled slightly. “Yeah, I guess all things considered it could have been worse. I mean, it’s not like I teleported across town or something...” she paused, blushing again. “Or did I?” she added with a smirk, and Pip merely smiled. She was so cute when she was nervous. She fiddled with some of her mane, which only managed to make her even more insanely cute.
“But I’m rambling, like I tend to do,” she laughed nervously. “My name is Dinky, by the way.” she said meekly, before nibbling her lip and looking down at her watch. “I should probably be going. I don’t want to be late for class,” she said, starting to walk towards the school. She stopped at the door and looked back to see that Pip hadn’t moved an inch. Raising an eyebrow slightly, she asked, “Uh...are you okay?”
Pip’s eyes bolted open, as he snapped out of his second fantasy in as many minutes. He instantly started to sweat, having no doubt looking like a complete idiot just gawking at her. “Oh, um, no I’m fine, just fine. Just got distracted by…” he glanced around briefly, feeling increasingly awkward by the second, his hand reflexively reaching up to fix his glasses again before catching sight of a familiar limousine pulling up. "That limo!" He then darted off, blushing furiously.
“Wait! I didn’t get your name!” Dinky called out, causing Pip to awkwardly spin around mid-run to shout back.
“I’m Pip!” he answered with a shout. “Pipsqueak!”
Dinky smiled, waving a little more noticeably this time. “Well then, see you later Pip!”
“You too!” he practically leapt into the air to return the wave, only to stumble over some random school filly, who voiced her displeasure with a stream of some very un-lady like language. Pip spun around, shouting back a brief apology, increasing his pace towards the limo, slouching in an attempt to avoid any further embarrassment.
Dang it. First time you talk to a pretty mare and you make a total donkey out of yourself. Stupid Pip, stupid! he admonished himself, finally reaching the limousine. The door opened to reveal the thin, scarecrow-like frame of his best friend, Featherweight. The colt stepped out, backpack slung over his back, black and white sweater vest snugly worn over his white long-sleeved shirt. His expression was rather sullen, but Pip figured that was mostly due to the purple earth pony who stepped out immediately after.
“‘ello mate!” Pip called out, and Featherweight smiled, the two sharing a quick fist pump, which only earned an eye roll from the purple earth pony. Pip looked towards her, waving slightly. “Hi Diamond.”
“Don’t talk to me, dork!” she spat back, stomping away harshly, her saddlebag yanked tightly over her back. It was then that Pip noticed the booties, something that, even taking into account the crisp September air, seemed out of place. “In fact, don’t even look at me. I don’t want to catch lower class.”
Pip simply blinked. “Well it’s nice to see that you… haven’t changed at all…”
“Hmmph!” came Diamond's response, and she stomped away, head held high.
“D’you know why she’s wearing the boots?” he asked Featherweight, who merely shrugged and rolled his eyes.
“Beats me. Something about her hooves or something. She’s been hung up about it all summer.”
Pip raised his eyebrows. “You mean like she’s got a disease?”
Featherweight shrugged. “No idea. I asked Dad about it, but he didn’t tell me anything.”
“Wow, Mate,” Pip threw his arm around his best friend. “Three months and still nothin’ changes. Just our luck, eh?”
“Asked me about what now?” came a deep, authoritative voice. Pip looked to see Featherweight’s father, Filthy Rich, step out of the limo, his eyebrow raised. Featherweight was quick to stand straight, and shook his head.
“Nothing, Sir. Pip just wanted to know why Diamond was wearing boots.”
Filthy Rich nodded slightly. “I see. Well,” he turned towards Pipsqueak. “That’s a private matter for Diamond. Understand?”
Pip was quick to nod. “Yeah-I mean-yes sir, I understand. My apologies.”
Filthy Rich quickly held up a hand. “No need. You were simply following your innate curiosity. Something I greatly admire about you, boy.”
Pip glanced towards Featherweight as Filthy spoke, and noticed how his friend’s shoulders drooped noticeably.
“Featherweight can learn a lot from a young stallion like yourself,” Filthy continued, and Pip looked again towards Featherweight, who seemed to grow increasingly sullen the longer his dad spoke. “After all, it’s not every day he’s able to come in contact with somepony as down to earth and responsible as you are, as well as intelligent. In fact, you remind me of a bit of myself at your age. Young and untested, but brimming with directionless ambition.”
Pip looked back at Filthy, and nodded slightly. “Thank you, sir, I appreciate that. But Featherweight’s really a smart colt. I mean, he’s probably smarter than me, I'd wager,” he smiled, giving Featherweight a sympathetic glance. Featherweight smiled slightly, idly pawing his hooves slightly.
“Even if that were so, he has no initiative. You on the other hand, do,” Filthy countered, before looking down at his wrist watch. “Alas, I must be on my way. The laboratory is probably wondering where I am.” He then spun around, stepping back inside the limo, which quickly drove off, leaving Pip and Featherweight standing on the sidewalk.
“So… how was summer break for you?” Pip asked in an attempt to cheer his sullen friend up. Featherweight shrugged, as the duo walked into the school. They ambled along, weaving through the ocean of students as they headed towards their lockers.
“I guess it was kinda okay… all things considered,” Featherweight said, as they both finally reached their lockers. He shrugged, opening his locker to put his backpack inside. “We spent most of it in Shady Oaks. Dad has a house there. How about you?”
Pip shrugged. “It was pretty good. I got a job helping Dr. Cheerilee. She needed some extra hooves after her lab got ruined last year. Remember, with that giant red rage monster?”
Featherweight lowered his eyebrows for a second before shaking his head. “Um, no I don’t.”
“Remember? The whole… something-hulk thing? The mass of muscle showed up an’ everythin’. It was all over the news.”
Featherweight’s face lit up in recognition. “Oh that, right. That was weird wasn’t it? I mean, right in her lab? That’s gotta suck. Did she ever tell you why that happened?”
Pip shook his head. “She didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to bug her anyways, you know? I mean, if my lab got destroyed by a giant monster, I’d be pretty bummed," he said as he collected the right school books. “But I guess all things considered, she seems to be handling it well. You’re dad’s funding really helped get things back on their feet.”
Featherweight shifted on his feet slightly. “Yeah… yay for dad.”
Pip could sense that Featherweight was starting to go down one of his ruminations again. He was quick to give him a pat on the back. “Hey, Feather, don’t be glum. I’m pretty sure you an’ your dad will find something to relate over. You just gotta look for it. Trust me.”
Featherweight rolled his eyes. “Easy for you to say. Dad already likes you.”
Pip shrugged. “Again, I think you shouldn’t worry about it. Ya just gotta keep on the bright side of life, an’ everything will work out,” he paused, thinking about exactly what Featherweight’s dad was like. “... eventually.” he finished after a moment.
Just then the school bell rang, its shrill cry cutting through the hustle and bustle. Both Featherweight and Pip traded glances.
“Well, I’d better get to Miss Proud Flower’s language class,” Featherweight sighed, giving Pip a fist bump. “See you in Science?”
“Yuppers. Good luck with that,” Pip responded, turning down the hall, heading to his own class.
Diamond Tiara took her time walking down the halls of the school, avoiding the areas where large numbers of ponies were congregated. Before, she would have loved a chance to go among them, to bask in the admiration and praise that she knew she deserved. But ever since she developed her... condition, she had begun to dread being around anything that could process coherent thoughts. The medicines her father gave her helped somewhat, and for now she was willing to put her faith in them, but she still felt it would be best to make sure to avoid any situation that might cause an... “incident”.
Just get through the day and get out, she thought, slipping around one corner and giving a semi-polite wave to a few ponies who recognized her. That’s all you have to do. Just get through the day and go home. Dad said everything would be fine, and it will be. Just keep quiet, avoid crowds and you’ll be--
“Diamond?” a voice said from behind her. Diamond froze mid-step, her composure shattering for the briefest of instances before she spun around to see a silver-coated filly with pigtails and glasses, Silver Spoon.
“Oh, it’s you,” Diamond said, relaxing somewhat but still managing to give Silver Spoon a look. “You know, I hate it when ponies sneak up on me.”
Silver Spoon shrugged. “Yeah, I know, but I saw that you were over here sneaking around and that got me curious. After all, it’s the first day of school. Usually you’re hitting on the football team captain or something.”
“I wasn’t sneaking around, Silver,” Diamond Tiara replied, starting back down the hallway with Silver Spoon in tow. “I’m just not feeling like dealing with the common rabble today. Honestly, why my father enrolled me in this pig pen is beyond me.”
Silver Spoon blinked. “I… guess that makes sense…” she paused, furrowing her brow slightly. “But, I didn’t get to hang out with you all summer. Like, I haven’t even talked to you since June. Are you okay? You can be honest with me.”
“Well...” Diamond Tiara stopped walking and looked around, noting that there were few ponies around her. She wondered if she should tell Silver Spoon what had happened. About her condition. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell her… I mean, she’s never squealed on me before… anyways, better get it off your chest now instead having her pester you about it.
“You know, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. It’s okay if you don’t.” Silver said, putting a hand on Diamond’s shoulder. Diamond shook her head.
“No, no, I’ll tell. Might as well tell you now instead of you finding out from somepony else.”
Silver arched an eyebrow. “Somepony else? Like who?”
Diamond sighed. “Nopony. It’s just… you know how gossip is. You do one thing and suddenly everypony knows about it.”
Silver simply nodded slightly. “I promise not to tell,” she crossed her chest as she spoke. Diamond smiled thinly. If Silver Spoon was anything, she was honest.
“Alright. I don’t really want anypony to know about this but... I’ve been sick.” Silver Spoon’s eyes widened and she took a small step back, causing Diamond to quickly raise a hoof. “Don’t worry, I’m not contagious or anything. It’s just a coat problem. That’s why I’m wearing the boots.”
“A-are you sure?” Silver Spoon asked. “I mean, we’re friends and all, but I kinda don’t want to get sick on the first day of school. Mom would blow a gasket.” she rubbed her arm slightly as she spoke.
Diamond sighed, rolling her eyes slightly. “That’s the problem with you, Silver Spoon. You worry too much.” As they continued walking, Diamond noted that Silver had fallen behind a few steps. “Anyway, Dad has me on some medication that should take care of it. I’ll be fine.”
“If you say so...” Silver replied, clearly not as confident as she would like to be. “Um... what exactly happens to you? I mean, when you don’t take your meds. Is it like asthma?” Diamond’s lips twitched, but she took a breath.
Keep calm. Just keep calm. She thought before answering the question. “Just... a few headaches, a panic attack every now and then, and a rash. Nothing more.” She raised a hoof to show Silver Spoon her boots. “Did you think I was wearing these because my hooves were cold?”
“Well, no, but--” Silver started only for Diamond to cut her off.
“It doesn’t matter.” Diamond quickened her pace. “Come along, we’re going to be late for class.” Silver Spoon nodded and the two continued on down the hallway, neither speaking. They didn’t have to go very far, a fact that Diamond Tiara was deeply thankful for, and she gave a small sigh of relief as she neared the classroom.
I hope Diamond Tiara’s okay, she heard Silver Spoon say. She seems a bit more on edge than normal.
“For the record, I am not on edge.” Diamond snapped, catching Silver Spoon off guard. “And I am perfectly fine. It’s just a few headaches, that’s all.”
“I know that,” Silver Spoon said, her face vaguely confused. “But what’s that about you being on edge? I didn’t say anything.”
At those words, Diamond Tiara’s mind came to a crashing halt. Silver Spoon had said that, she must have, unless...
... No. It was then that more thoughts began to drift into Diamond Tiara’s mind, none of them her own.
That pony Pipsqueak was cute, a filly thought. I wonder why he was so nervous, though...
There’s no way Tiberius could get out of that, a colt’s thought said. The Gorn has him dead to rights. Unless he decides to-
Should I tell Truffle I like him? A second filly passed, her brow furrowed. I mean, I don’t want to hurt our friendship…
“No...” Diamond Tiara whispered, halting mid step and putting a hoof to her head. “T-t-this isn’t supposed to happen.”
“Diamond?” Silver Spoon asked, taking a step towards her friend. “Is something wrong?” Please don’t be sick or anything; I don’t want you to just pass out or have a seizure or something.
“St-stay away from me!” Diamond stammered as she moved away from Silver Spoon. Her head had started to ache again, and try as she might she could not slow the influx of thoughts coming into her mind.
Silver’s face grew more concerned. “Diamond, what’s wrong?” You’re starting to scare me.
“Just leave me alone!” with that, Diamond Tiara sprinted down the hallway, shaking her head. She heard Silver Spoon call after her, but her mind was awash with other ponies’ thoughts.
I really shouldn’t have worn yellow today. All the colts will think I’m some kind of nerd.
Mom and Dad will get everything worked out... they should...
We already have three kids. How will he react when I say we’re having twins?
“Shut up. Shut up!” Diamond Tiara screamed, drawing several more thoughts from ponies curious about who was screaming. She turned left and ducked into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her and collapsing against it.
Stop! Just stop! She screamed into her mind. The endless cacophony of thoughts only seemed to get louder, almost as if it were fighting against her. I don’t want to hear anything, I don’t want to be... whatever it is I am. Just stop! She would have started rocking back and forth, but the pain in her head and the influx of thoughts only grew worse. He said the medication would make everything fine. He said this wouldn’t happen.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, she felt a tell-tale tingle spread across her hoof. Her eyes widened, and, in a panic, she pulled the boot off with her teeth, her left hoof still rubbing her temple in an attempt to alleviate her headache. Her face went pale at the sight that greeted her.
Her hoof and wrist were now covered in small crystals, more than she had seen earlier this morning. In fact, there were so many, that they formed a somewhat warped mirror, giving her a distorted mirror image looking back at her.
Diamond Tiara let out a choked sob, slumping her head down and crying freely.
Filthy Rich surveyed the board room with a vaguely contemptuous look. He’d been sitting here for almost an hour, his time slowly wasting away as he was brought ‘up to speed’ on the various methods that his scientists were pursuing in their feeble attempts to cure his daughter of her… condition.
At the head of the table, dressed in a lab coat that seemed ever so slightly oversized, was Dr. Cheerilee, a grape colored earth pony whose right foreleg was conspicuously absent, instead replaced by one made of plastic. She was nearing the end of her rather detailed presentation. “Thanks to the data we have received from the blood sample, we have managed to make quite a bit progress in repairing the sample you were so kind to provide for us, Mr. Rich. However, I’m afraid that, at this point, the word ‘cure’ may be too strong of a word. The term I would use is ‘remission’. Like chemotherapy.”
“Is this more or less effective than the medications that my daughter is already taking?” Filthy asked critically, arching an eyebrow. Cheerilee opened her mouth briefly before closing it.
“Well, Mr. Rich, I’m not sure if the condition your daughter suffers from is an actual disease,” she answered meekly, visibly shying away in fear as she spoke. Filthy Rich set his jaw, leaning forwards and steepling his hooves.
“Then what, Doctor Cheerilee, do you believe she suffers from?” he asked, his voice dropping at least two octaves to become a low rumble. Dr. Cheerilee shifted on her hooves, swallowing and fiddling with the projector controller.
“Well? I’m waiting…” Filthy prodded, and Dr. Cheerilee finally sighed.
“Sir, I have reason to believe that your daughter is actually a mutant.”
There was a gasp of shock, the other scientists in the room erupting into a cluster of hushed whispers and exclamations. This was exactly what Filthy wanted to avoid. He had tried as much as he could possibly do to keep this revelation away from others. He himself had only found out when a certain paraplegic professor showed up at his doorstep, offering her help. He had been quick to turn the mare away. The Rich family took care of its problems on its own. It didn’t need anyone else.
“Of what impact does this have on your work? She has a defect. Solve it.”
“But, Mr. Rich--”
“No buts. Solve the problem. Soon. Or shall I have to seek help from other resources.”
Dr. Cheerilee instantly shut her mouth. “I’ll do my best sir,” she answered, looking down at the ground and letting her shoulders sag.
Filthy nodded. “Of course you will. Now, when might I expect it on my desk?”
Dr. Cheerilee looked up, her face worrisome. “Well sir, we haven’t had a chance to properly test it beyond simulations--”
“When, Doctor?” he pressed, and Dr. Cheerilee sighed.
“I don’t know.”
Filthy Rich opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the sound of his phone ringing. He recognized the ringtone instantly. “Excuse me for a moment.” He then stood up and stepped out into the hallway. “I’m in a meeting,” he answered the phone curtly, already knowing full well who was on the other end of the line.
“Daddy, it didn’t work!” he heard Diamond Tiara sob. Filthy blinked in surprise.
“What didn’t work?” he asked, his voice losing some of its previous venom but remaining stern. He heard his daughter let out another sob.
“The pills! They didn’t work! I can’t stop it! They just won’t shut up and I can’t stop it and the crystals are spreading and-”
Filthy inhaled sharply. “Diamond, just calm down,” he ordered, his voice stern.
“I can’t! Every time I try, it just gets worse, and they won’t stop... what if somepony comes in and they’ll see me like this and-”
“I said calm down!” Filthy practically hissed. His daughter’s cries stopped instantly, and Filthy took that as a cue to continue. “Listen, it’s only going to get worse the more you panic, and I thought I had raised you never to panic, even if things are going wrong.”
Filthy shook his head. “But nothing. I don’t care how you do it, just stop panicking and remain focused. I’ll try to think of something to make sure these... outbursts stop happening.”
“... O-okay,” Diamond Tiara replied, her voice calming slightly. Filthy nodded in satisfaction.
“We’ll talk more when you get home,” he said before hanging up, staring off into space for a moment before stepping back inside. Whatever was going wrong with her, be it sickness or worse, mutation, it still pained him to see his daughter in such despair, especially if it ended up making her some ostracized freak. Of course, that was no excuse for her to constantly collapse into a pile of tears every time her symptoms showed. She had to learn to overcome such obstacles. Sighing, he turned around and stepped back inside the boardroom, where everyone looked at him with concerned faces.
“Sir?” Dr. Cheerilee asked as Filthy returned to his desk. “Is something wrong?”
“... I’m fine.” He turned back to the group. “New plan; I want your so called 'cure' on my desk by the end of the week. And I want something physical. I don't want some computer simulation or placebo. I want something that works. Understand?"
“A week?!” Cheerilee cried in shock. “But we don’t have the resources to-”
“I'll purchase whatever equipment you need.” Filthy said, giving her a dismissive hand wave. “Your project’s just been bumped up to priority status. Be happy.”
“B-But sir, we don’t have enough information, and we still need some test subjects-”
“I don’t care if you have to kidnap homeless ponies off the street, I want your cure finished and I want it by the end of the week. Is that too much of a task for you, ‘Doctor’, or should I give the project to someone more qualified?” Cheerilee opened her mouth to object, only to close it a moment later. Filthy took this as a sign of her cooperation. “I thought so. Get to work, all of you.” Cheerilee and the other scientists nodded and moved to leave.
“Oh, and one more thing, Dr. Cheerilee,” Filthy Rich said before Dr. Cheerilee could leave.
She looked over her shoulder, her good hand already on the door handle. “Yes?”
“If you find those doctors that developed my daughter’s 'medicine', tell them they’re fired.”
Act I - 02 - Please Let This Be a Normal Field Trip
Act I: “Origins” Chapter Two: “Please Let This Be a Normal Field Trip”
Diamond Tiara closed her phone, shakily putting it in her saddlebag.
Dad's ri-right...just bu-buck up, and concentrate...just like the doctor's said to do... she took a deep, heaving, shaking breath, clenching her eyes shut and trying desperately to drown out the droning noise of foreign thoughts that surrounded her. She rubbed her temples, ignoring the crystals on her hooves for the time being, simply wishing to finally get some piece and quiet.
The sound, however, of the bathroom door opening caught her attention, and she felt her heart flip-flop. The sound of footsteps followed, followed by Silver Spoon calling out.
"Diamond? Diamond you okay? I saw you run in here...you sure you don't need help?"
Diamond bit her lip.
"Do you want me to get the nurse?" Silver called out again, and Diamond quickly shook her head. The last thing she wanted was to have her secret exposed to everypony in the school.
They'd probably treat me like a freak...kick me out... she thought worriedly, only to clench her hooves and stomp on the ground sharply.
Stop it Diamond! Dad said to be strong. Buck up. You're Diamond Tiara Rich, and that means you can handle anything life dishes out at you. Just pull yourself up and move on.
That bit of self-help seemed to do the trick, as the noise decreased noticeably, leaving only Diamond's own, unique thoughts remaining. She let out a tentative sigh of relief.
"Thank Celestia..." she whispered, moving to slip the booties back on her hooves. "Peace and quiet." She leaned behind herself, flushing the toilet to quickly create a cover story. She then slipped out of the stall, and was greeted by the sight of a deeply worried looking Silver Spoon standing by the sinks.
"You okay? You look a little pale." Silver said, and Diamond glanced towards the mirror, noticing that she did, indeed, look rather paler then normal. However, she simply nodded her head, waving her hoof.
"Just a bit of a panic attack, that's all. Nothing major. I think I'm good." she leaned over the sink, taking a moment to calm herself a little more. She set her jaw, slowly straightening out and adjusting her mane. "Don't tell anypony, okay?"
Silver nodded. "Uh, okay Diamond, I won't."
Diamond gave Silver a thin smile. Always a friend. she thought quietly, before straightening up again and heading towards the door. "You coming, Silver?" she asked, and Silver, who seemed to have zoned out, nodded quickly, turning to follow Diamond out of the bathroom, and back into the nest of students.
“Welcome everypony,” the school teacher began, writing his name down on the blackboard. “My name is Bunsen Fizz, and I’ll be your chemistry teacher for this semester.” He then spun around on his hooves, turning to face the students and flicking on the bunsen burner. “Now, chemistry is technically the study of matter, but I prefer to think of it as the study of change,” he said, before launching into a long and impassioned lecture as he began the class.
Towards the center of the room, was Pipsqueak. Sitting a little ahead of him, desk already organized, and watching the teacher with rapt attention, was the mare he had bumped into earlier.
The sunlight caught her mane in just the right way, causing it almost glow with angelic beauty. She chewed on her pencil, staring at the blackboard with her gloriously golden eyes. Her other hoof twiddled with her mane, seemingly independent from the rest of her. She looked like some sort of figure you’d see in an old painting; something unsullied by the rest of the world, floating on a beautiful cloud of sunshine and clouds that--
With a start, Pip snapped to attention, looking around to notice everyone in the room was staring at him with slightly raised eyebrows. The teacher’s eyebrow raised and he looked rather bemused.
“Yes sir?” Pip murmured, noticing how stern the teacher seemed. The teacher pointed towards the blackboard, were a complex series of formulas and symbols were written.
“Could you please answer the question on the board?”
Pip’s eyes widened slightly. He hadn’t even the slightest clue what he was even looking at, let alone what it meant, since he’d been so enraptured with that wondrously beautiful filly and--
“Mr. Trottingshire? Answer the question,” the teacher repeated, his voice gaining some edge. Pip stammered for a moment.
“Eh-um-ah… 42?” The entire class started to snicker and Pip instantly slid in his chair slightly. The teacher simply rolled his eyes, shaking his head slowly.
“No, I am sorry to say it’s not 42. However, it was an admirable attempt. Anypony else want to give it a shot?”
Pipsqueak, meanwhile, mentally kicked himself for messing up so badly, barely noticing Dinky raising her hand to answer the question.
“Um... it’s .0422, right?” she said, Pip immediately taking notice of how her melodic voice floated across the room. She seemed strangely tentative however, as if she didn’t want to be noticed, and Pip spotted her shrinking away ever so slightly when the teacher cast his gaze upon her. Fortunately, the teacher gave her a warm smile before nodding.
“That is absolutely correct. Excellent job Dinky.”
Dinky simply blushed, letting that wondrous little bang fall in front of her eyes, and Pip once more found himself staring.
Doctor Cheerilee walked into her lab, letting out a grumbling sigh. She shrugged off her lab coat, idly tossing it asides as she slid into her chair and up to her desk. She opened up a folder she’d been carrying, revealing the presentation she’d shown to Mr. Rich this morning.
She looked down at her research. What was she to do? She had less than a week to create a cure for something that, in her mind, didn’t even need one. She ran her good hoof through her mane in frustration, chewing her lip.
Why does he have to be like this? Why didn’t he just come out from day one and say so instead of leading me on like this?
She held her head in her hoof, rubbing her temple slightly. She always, always tried to keep a positive outlook on things, something that had really helped her after the loss of her arm, but now she found it hard to find anything positive. It was either create something impossible, or lose all her funding, leaving her by the wayside and, most likely, bankrupt.
I have to do something… think Cheerilee… think… she thought, standing up again to walk around the room in frustration. She rubbed the steam where the stump of her right foreleg met the prosthetic. She was so close to finding a solution. So close to regaining what she lost. If only--
“Um, Doctor?” came a mild mannered voice, causing Cheerilee to turn around startled.
“Oh! Fairy Charmer,” she was quick to wipe her worried and frustrated look away with a smile. “What do you need?”
Fairy Charmer, a rather short mare with a strawberry mane and pale blue coat, swallowed. “Well, um, we all kind of noticed you looked rather… stressed when you came back from the meeting upstairs.”
Cheerilee’s expression fell slightly. “Oh. Oh I see,” she said, walking over to sit down, putting the papers back in the folder that she’d left on her desk. “It’s okay. Mr. Filthy--”
She heard a brief chuckle, and glanced up at Fairy Charmer to see the mare covering her mouth with her hoof, obviously trying to repress some giggles. Cheerilee quickly noticed her slip, but let it slide. “I meant Mr. Rich, Charmer. And he just wanted to see if we could get our research up and ready by next week,” she added, sinking in her seat slightly.
Fairy Charmer’s eyes widened. “Next week?! But we haven’t even gotten to testing! How can we get it ready time if we haven’t tested it?”
Cheerilee shrugged. “I don’t know, Fairy Charmer, I don’t know,” she allowed herself a small smile despite herself, sensing the assistants worry. “But don’t worry. I’ll handle that part. Just go tell everypony I’m okay.”
Fairy Charmer nodded slightly. “Yes, Doctor. Do you want me to tell them about the schedule update?”
Cheerilee shook her head. “No, no. It’s a Monday, so I figure their day is already pretty glum. No use getting them extra stressed. Anyways, if anypony holds that responsibility, it’s me. Just go back to work, while I try to work out a schedule in here. Okay? But tell everypony thank you. It really means a lot to know they care.”
Fairy Charmer nodded. “Of course, Doctor. Good luck with the schedule.” And with that, the mild mannered mare closed the door, leaving Cheerilee alone again. Cheerilee sighed, looking down at the formula that was written on one of the papers lying on her desk.
“You’ve been a whole mess of trouble, you know that?” she grumbled, picking the paper up and looking at the formula pensively. “But hopefully, it’ll be worth it. Just got to see if you work.”
Pipsqueak and Featherweight sat at the lunch table, thoughtful examining Featherweight’s meal.
“Kinda wishing ya di’n’t forget yours, don’tcha?” Pip asked, and Featherweight nodded slowly.
“Is it me or does this look like toxic waste?” he asked slowly, tentatively poking the… whatever it was on his plate with his plastic spoon. There was a grotesque slurping sound as the spoon began to slowly seep into the strange fluids, slowly melting away as it did so. If Featherweight didn't know any better, he would say the food was eating his spoon.
The two then looked up from the plate, and towards the cafeteria chef, who was looking at them with lowered eyebrows. Featherweight swallowed.
“Do you think she’s still angry over that whole ‘Ice Cream Freedom Revolution’ from ‘09?” he asked, turning towards Pip, who merely nodded.
“Probably. But then again, I think it’d be pretty ‘ard to forget that monkey…”
Featherweight shrugged. “You know that wouldn’t have happened if you’d brought the hair nets.”
Pip glared at Featherweight for a second. “I thought you were the one responsible for that?”
Featherweight lowered his eyebrows. “No. It was you. That and the tub of lard.”
Pip rolled his eyes. “Alright, fine… but really, she’s starin’ into me soul,” he whispered, motioning towards the chef before looking away. “Stop starin’ and pretend to enjoy whatever the ‘eck that is. Maybe we can escape.”
“You should have packed some lunch, man.” Featherweight countered, lowering his eyebrows. Pip simply sighed, shaking his head.
“Well, it was a ‘ectic morning. Anyways, I’m savin’ up for dinner. Birthday and all. Aunt May’s probably gonna be making shrimp and green sauce, so that’s gonna be worth the wait,” as Pip spoke, he motioned once more towards the chef. “Look, let’s just turn so we can at least get a view of outside. I mean, do you want that old mare starin’ ya down while treating to eat…” he glanced down at their plates, turning slightly green as he did so. “... whatever this is.”
Featherweight gave the chef one last fearful glance before silently nodding. With that, the two stood up, circumventing the table so that their backs were to the chef and her piercing gaze. As soon as they sat down, they went back to glaring at their food, neither really wanting to try and taste whatever it was that was apparently acidic enough to dissolve a plastic spoon.
“So… Pip… trade?” Featherweight asked, turning towards Pip to find him unexpectedly looking out the window, eyes wide and a downright dopey smile on her face. “Pip what are you looking at?”
“Her…” Pip replied, motioning towards the filly sitting under the tree, apparently wrapped up in a book of some kind. “Ain’t she sweet?”
Featherweight raised an eyebrow slightly. “What? That unicorn? She’s okay I guess-”
“Okay?! She walks in beauty, like the night…”
Featherweight blinked. “Did you just quote Byron?”
“So what if I did?” Pip responded, turning back to gaze at the unicorn. “It was the first thing that came close to describing her…”
Featherweight glanced out the window, at the mare and back at Pip. “So…” he began, sliding his plate forwards slightly. “How long exactly have you known her?”
Pip shrugged slightly, the same smile still plastered on his face. “Not long. She bumped into me this morning on the way in,” he sighed deeply, leaning against his hoof. “But her voice sounds like bird song in spring.”
Featherweight suppressed a gag. This was getting downright insufferable. “So, she’s a random mare who bumped into you, and you suddenly think she’s the very sun itself?”
“Yeah… what you said,” Pip answered before letting out a nostalgic sigh and looking down at the table. “But I probably made a terrible impression on her. I mean, I’m not exactly a chick magnet am I?” he motioned towards his glasses. “Didn’t help I royally screwed up in Chemistry today.” his shoulders sagged slightly. “But she was just… just so nice you know? As if she were made out of sugar or something. She wanted to know my name. No filly’s ever done that before,” he sighed again. “But she’ll probably just forget about me. I just wish I could muster up enough courage to talk to her you know? Try to get a better feel for her, see what she likes and all.”
“So why don’t you? Is there like, some magic spell preventing you?” Featherweight asked, raising an eyebrow rather incredulously. Pip shook his head.
“Because I’m a dirty rotten coward, that’s why. I keep imagining a scenario where I’ll talk to her, but it usually ends with her laughing at me and the world blowing up or something.”
Featherweight rolled his eyes. “So what, do you want somepony else to break the ice for you maybe? Like, test the waters or something?”
Pip gave Featherweight a hopeful smile. “You’d do that?!”
Featherweight blinked, quickly shaking his head. “I didn’t say that. I said get somepony else. Not me. I’m a dork remember?”
Pip frowned. “Oh come Feather! Aren’t we both technically dorks? Anyways, you’ve got a sister, so you know what fillies like right?”
“I have Diamond Tiara. That’s totally different.”
Pip’s frowned deepened. “Come on…. help a friend out,” he pressed, before motioning towards the backpack next to Featherweight. “I’ll do your homework for the next week if you do.”
Featherweight glanced down at the backpack. “Well… that certainly is tempting…” he mused, tapping his chin slightly. Pip’s hooves clapped together in a pleading gesture.
“Please please please please please please plea-”
“Ugh, alright, I’ll give it a shot,” Featherweight said, his ears splaying back slightly. Pip’s sad puppy look turned into a big grin.
“Awesome mate! I totally owe ya one!” he gave Featherweight a hard slap on the back. Featherweight winced slightly, rubbing the sore spot.
“Yeah… you do,” he murmured.
Dinky settled down under a random tree, quietly taking out her books. So far, the first day of school hadn’t been that bad. She hadn’t really spoken with anyone, that was true, but that was mostly because she’d been moving from class to class, and the massive oceans of students between classes where honestly a tad daunting to navigate.
One pony, however, that had caught her eye, was that thin little pinto colt that she’d bumped into that morning. The first thing that had struck her about him were how big his eyes were.
Like big chocolates, she thought dreamily, letting out a fluttering sigh. Just like those spots on his coat. She paused, blinking briefly before sitting up slightly. Oh stop it Dinky. You’re acting like you’ve never seen a colt before in your life. She sighed, reaching into her backpack to pull out a book. She started leafing through it, trying her best to focus on the words printed on the paper, but alas, found that her mind kept returning to the colt.
I should probably apologize for bumping into him like that. I mean, I can’t even remember his name.
“Excuse me?” came a voice, and Dinky looked up to see a noticeably thin, lanky, white colt with a light brown mane and very dark eyes standing over her. He wore a black and white sweater vest, and seemed to carry himself rather loosely, as if he were a marionette.
“Uh, my name is Featherweight,” he began, obviously trying to sound charming, but coming off more awkward. He rubbed the back of his neck slightly, and his other hoof rubbed along the ground idly. “I was walking around when I noticed you. I don’t think I’ve seen you here before, are you new?”
Dinky blinked. Somepony else had noticed her. She nodded slightly, and smiled. “Yes, yes I’m new,” she started, closing her book. Simple social interaction shouldn’t be too difficult. At least you have a name now, she thought briefly before continuing her greeting. “I’m Dinky, Dinky Hooves,” she held out her hoof in greeting, and Featherweight leaned down to shake it rather stiffly.
“I’m Featherweight--” He paused, his mouth closing for a moment. “Wait, I already told you that. Sorry.” he was quick to add apologetically, and Dinky simply shook her head.
“No, it’s okay. I get kinda awkward around other ponies sometimes too,” she smiled, standing up and dusting off some stray grass clippings that had stuck to her coat. There was an awkward pause as the two shared awkward glances, with Featherweight looking upwards into the tree briefly while Dinky found herself looking at a random cloud.
“So…” Featherweight unexpectedly said, breaking the silence. “You’re new?”
Dinky shifted slightly, nodding. “Yeah.” There was another pause. Featherweight looked down, idly nudging at a pebble.
“I was…” he started, only to stop again and scrunch up his face slightly. “... I mean… you look good.”
Dinky’s eyes widened slightly, and she couldn’t help but blush slightly as she meekly let her mane flop in front of her face. “Oh, thank you. You, um,” she trailed off, looking for some kind of topic they could discuss, since she could almost feel the awkwardness in the air. She had to find some sort of… something to talk about, if only to try and break the ice with someone.
“Do you have any hobbies?” she ventured, and Featherweight’s expression, which had been a tad downbeat, seemed to brighten slightly.
“Uh, yeah, yeah I do. I do photography. Nothing fancy though.”
“Really? Photography? That’s pretty darn cool,” Dinky replied, and Featherweight shrugged.
“Yeah, I guess. Dad says I don’t really get out enough though.”
Dinky raised an eyebrow. “Really? That’s just what my mom says.” That caused Featherweight to glance at her, eyebrow raised.
“Why’d she say that?”
Dinky shrugged. “Well, it’s just because I’m home schooled--or rather was home schooled.”
“Home schooled huh? That’s neat,” Featherweight frowned. “Not sure if I’d like it. Being cooped inside with my sister all day…”
“I thought you said you didn’t get out much?” Dinky asked, tilting her head slightly. Featherweight nodded.
“I don’t. It’s just my sister is like, a billion times more social than I am. She hates staying indoors.” He then let his shoulders droop. “Can’t really blame her I guess. House is kinda quiet for most of the time. Drafty too.”
Dinky didn’t respond, instead just looking at Featherweight with sympathy. Her home was almost never quiet. The Tardis Tower was almost always abuzz with all sorts of activity. The ever present humming and whirring of her parent’s experiments, her dad’s constant babbling in his thick Scoltish accent. The smell of her mother’s muffins or just the random assortment of millions of sounds, sights and smells that made home feel like home. The way Featherweight was talking, his home sounded more like a large tomb or an ancient castle, someplace lonely, cold and distant.
“Anyways,” Featherweight said all of a sudden, causing Dinky blink. “I kinda wanna tell you that, um, in all honesty, somepony sent me here to talk with you.”
Dinky raised an eyebrow. “What? What are you talking about?”
Featherweight shifted, idly moving to lean up against the tree. “You see that bush over there,” he pointed over to a large bush that sat a couple of meters away. “My buddy is in there. He kinda likes you, and he wanted to know if you were free later.”
Dinky raised her eyebrows. “Why didn’t he just ask me himself?” she inquired, wondering what about her was so awe inspiring to cause a colt to hide in the bushes and have his friend do all the talking. Featherweight just shrugged, dipping his hooves idly pawing at the ground again.
“Beats me. But he hasn’t stopped talking about you. Said he’s sorry for bumping into you this morning. See, that’s him over there” Featherweight motioned towards the bush again and Dinky towards the bush again to catch a colt peering out from it, his brown mane slightly ruffled from the bush and his glasses making his eyes seem even bigger than before. Dinky couldn’t help but blush, and the colt’s eyes widened, his head ducking back behind the bush. Dinky herself now started to feel incredibly awkward. Not only did she have a crush, but he wanted to go out on a date!
“I-Well-Um-” Dinky stammered, suddenly at a massive loss for words at the realization that someone found her attractive. And not just attractive, but they wanted to take her on a date. Sure her own family always said she was pretty, but she’d always assumed it was simply because they were just that, her family. Now she had a secret crush, and the first impression she’d made on him was by nearly running him over. That memory proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, and there was a flash of purple light as a massive portal opened right behind her, sucking her inside in a flurry of panic, leaving a stunned Featherweight behind by the tree.
With another flash, Dinky found herself standing, in all places, the gym. She instantly slapped her forehead. “Stupid powers.” she groaned. “Why’d they have to malfunction now?!” she slumped down on the bench, crossing her forelegs.
Now I definitely look like a dork. she mused dejectedly, only to hear the sound of the school bell ringing. She let out a frustrated groan as she got up and started towards the doors.
“First day of school and I make myself look like a complete dope. Great…” she paused, her hoof already starting to wrap around the handle of the door. She thought back to the colt peaking behind the bush. Pipsqueak.
“Well… I do have a date… right? I mean, if I teleported away like that does it mean I don’t have one?” she paused the memory of Pipsqueak’s face peeking out from behind the bush, bringing a blush to her face. “He did look really cute peeking out behind that bush like that…” Her eyes widened. “I’d better go set that! I don’t want to disappoint him now!” And with that, she swung the door open, diving into the ocean of students, ready to find Pipsqueak.
“So how did it go?” Pip whispered to Featherweight as the science teacher continued to lecture. Featherweight shrugged slightly, tapping his pencil on his desk.
“I don’t know. Soon as I mentioned you she teleported away.”
Pip’s eyes widened. “Teleported away? Really?” He tried to lean close, glancing towards the teacher and her frizzy orange mane briefly. “I thought only expert unicorns could teleport.”
Featherweight shrugged again. “Well, one second she was there, then ‘poof’ and then she was gone. She looked kinda embarrassed when she ‘ported”
“Oh no, she probably thinks I’m some sort o’ psycho stalker freak,” Pip groaned, and Featherweight rolled his eyes.
“Or she just thought the idea of you hiding behind a bush and sending me to talk to her was weird,” he said with some sarcasm. Pip was about to make a comeback when the teacher slapped her eraser against the blackboard, causing the entire class to nearly leap out of their skins.
“And now, students, time for a very, very special announcement!” she said, her voice practically bubbling out of her mouth. “As a way to start this wondrous new semester, I’ve spoken with Principal Wakleflanks, and she’s allowed me to take all of you to RichCorp Labs today, for an immersive, effervescent observational live learning experience.”
The class was silent for a moment, with a chorus of silent blinks being the only response. A random student’s hoof shot up, and the teacher was quick to respond with a brilliant smile.
“Uh, Miss Frizzle, what does ‘immersive, effervescent observational live learning experience’ mean?”
Miss Frizzle simply smiled a smile that could best be described as manic. “Well, it means we’re going on…” With a burst of inexplicable sparkles and spangles, she hopped into the air, forelegs raised. “A FIELD TRIP! To the bus everyone!” And with that, she practically bounded out the door, her students all trading confused and perplexed glances. Miss Frizzle leaned back in, her smile having shrunk slightly.
“It counts for extra credit!”
That seemed to finally get things moving, as the students all stood up, with Featherweight and Pip sharing glances as they did so.
“Is it me, or is the new science teacher really weird?” Featherweight asked, and Pip shrugged.
“I s’ppose, at least she’s better than last semester. Mr. Flatline put half the class to sleep, remember?” He went about packing his backpack. “On the plus side, this means I can maybe introduce you to Dr. Cheerilee. She works at RichCorp anyways, so maybe we’ll see her there.”
The tour guide, a lanky blue pegasus with a brown mane and glasses turned and gestured to the large, multi-chambered glass tank that was sitting on a table. “Now, what you see here are the fifteen surviving Star Spiders that Professor Honeydew found in the Castle of the Three Sisters, in the wilds of Everfree. Now, if you look closely, you’ll notice that these spiders look a little bit different from normal Star Spiders. That is because Dr. Honeydew has exposed them to high concentrations of magic, enhancing their already substantial mana reserves...”
Pip meanwhile, observed the tank closely. Inside, the spiders all had their own individual chamber, which had long since been enveloped in a nest of webbing. Every so often, a spider would skitter about, its bright blue coloring catching Pip’s eyes. Half a mo’… he squinted, noticing that one of the tanks was empty.
“Now, are there any questions?” he heard the guide ask, and Pip’s hoof bolted up.
“Um, yes, how come there’s only 14?” he asked, pushing his glasses up his face slightly. The guide’s brow furrowed and he looked back into the display tank.
“Oh… well, I suppose one of the researchers is currently working on it in one of the laboratories in the back. This isn’t a zoo you know,” he chuckled, standing back up and adjusting his own glasses, with Pip giving him a glance. “Any other questions?”
Pip was about to speak when another student spoke up, asking something about Bon Particles, which sent the guide on a long tangent. Pip meanwhile, gave the tank another cautionary glance, before sighing slightly and moving away. He drifted through the lab, pausing every so often to get a closer look at anything that caught his eye. One example was the large tank of electric eels that was built into the wall. He watched the eels swim about, little arcs of electricity jumping between each one as they swam along, glowing a bright shade of neon blue as they did so.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” came a familiar voice, and Pip turned to see, of all ponies, Dr. Cheerilee standing next to him, having joined him in watching the eels.
“Oh! ‘ello doc! How you doin’?” he asked. Cheerilee merely shrugged slightly.
“Oh, I’m doing good. How’s my number one assistant?” she asked, turning away from the eels to glance towards him. Pip shrugged.
“Oh, I’m good. Me birthday, actually.”
Cheerilee gave him a warm smile. “Really? That’s great, Pip,” she turned back towards the eels. “Really great.”
Pip noticed almost immediately that something was off about Cheerilee. Normally, she was talkative and engaging. Now, she seemed oddly subdued. And not in a relaxed way, like someone who was simply taking a moment to be quiet, but more like someone who was less than happy. “You alright, doc? Ya look a little glum?”
Cheerilee was quick to shake her head. “Oh, I’m just a little bit tired. Been working pretty hard to day. New frontiers don’t explore themselves.” she turned back to the eels. “Wonderful little things aren’t they?” she asked, and Pip looked back at the dozen or so eels.
“Yeah. Smashing really. Who made ‘em? RichCorp? Or are you just keepin’ ‘em here?”
“Oh RichCorp made them. We’re looking into some potential renewable energy sources and such. Apparently, these eels can generate a couple thousand volts between them,” she then took her pen out of her lab coat pocket with her good hoof, gently tapping on the tank. “The fluid they’re in was specially designed to better conduct the electricity.” She smiled, a satisfied look on her face. “Really a wonder of science.” She then slipped her pen back into her lab coat. “Well, I’d better be off. Things to study and theories to test.” With that, she turned, and started to walk away. Pip turned, waiving towards her.
“Um, hey, I wanted to know, ‘ow’s the lizard thing going. That looked really promising.”
Cheerilee paused, her expression becoming muddled. “It’s good. Making progress. I hope to have something…” Pip noticed her hoof gently rubbing the nub of her other foreleg. “... something soon. Hopefully. Thanks for asking.”
“Sure thing, Doc. Good luck wit’ that.”
Cheerilee’s expression grew a tad brighter, but she still looked tired. “Thank you Pip, I appreciate that.” And with that, she turned and walked away, leaving Pip by the eels. Pip turned back to the eels, his reflection showing his concerned expression.
“Wonder what’s up with Doc,” he mused aloud. I guess work is just getting’ to her. I mean, things haven’t been all that easy… what with the whole lab getting destroyed business.
He turned away from the tank, the sound of the guide’s voice having faded noticeably. He ambled after the group, still looking around the lab, taking in all the wondrous assortment of gadgetry and technology that abounded. It was as if he’d died and gone to science heaven.
“Excuse me,” Pip turned around, making contact with a familiar set of angelic golden eyes. He froze, his eyes wide. Dinky's face was covered with a slight blush, and she bit her lip slightly before speaking. “I, um, I just saw you standing over here, and I thought maybe somepony else should come stand over here so you didn’t look so alone.” She gave him a shy smile, her head dipping slightly, causing that wonderful little bang to drop in front of her eyes again.
“Uh...” was all Pip could manage, his mouth wide and body frozen. Dinky bit her lip, and swallowed.
“S-sorry if I sound weird, I just,” she blushed again, brushing the bag out of her eye. “Well, really I just wanted to apologize for earlier. Y-you know, for running into you and all.”
Pip blinked, his brain finally clicking into gear. “Oh, you mean that? No, you really don’t have to apologize for that.” He said apologetically. "I wasn't really paying attention and-"
“No really, I insist.” Dinky interjected softly, and there was a pause. “If this is getting weird, I can just leave,” she finally said, already starting to move away.
“No, don’t,” Pip said hurriedly, reaching towards her, causing Dinky to pause. “I mean..." Pip's voice trailed off, his brain at a loss as how to continue. He stammered slightly, his hoof tapping the floor slightly. "What I mean is, um, I'd like to get to know you a little better. If, um, that's okay with you." He smiled shyly, pushing his glasses up his nose again.
Dinky smiled gently, and she gave him a slight nod. "That would be great." Her eyes drifted to his backpack. "You like science?" She asked tentatively, motioning towards the EASA patch that was stitched onto his backpack. Pip looked down and nodded.
"Yeah, yeah I am," he replied, hefting up his backpack slightly. Dinky's smile grew slightly.
"That's pretty cool. What kind of science do you like?"
Pip opened and closed his mouth briefly before speaking. "Um, well, a wee bit of everything really. Usually chemistry an’ biology though."
"My dad's a scientist, actually." She added, and Pip raised an eyebrow.
"Really? What kind?"
Dinky waved her hand slightly. "Oh a bit of everything. But mostly Quantum physics. My mom helps him a lot."
"That sounds awesome, I mean to ‘ave scientists for parents," Pip responded with a smile, and Dinky gave him a slight chuckle.
"Yeah, I guess its kinda cool..." she trailed off, before asking, "Do you mind telling me what your parents do? I mean, if that's not too much to ask."
Pip's smile faded slightly, and he shifted on his hooves. "Well, me mom an' dad were scientists, but, um they died back when I was ten," he said with a touch of somberness, and he noticed how Dinky's eyes widened.
"Oh wow. I didn't know… I'm sorry. That must have been terrible," she said apologetically, reaching out to put a hoof on his shoulder. Pip gave her a smile, and shook his head slightly.
"No, I'm okay. Me aunt an’ uncle were there, so it turned out alright. Anyways, Uncle Copper says there's no reason for me to be glum. They did a good job being parents, an’ I’ll always remember them, but that was then and this is now.” He shook his head. “Anyway, enough about that. What about you?”
“Huh?” Dinky tilted her head slightly.
“What kinds of science do you like?” Pip clarified, smiling slightly as he tried to steer the conversation into something less dark.
"Oh! Well I like physics," Dinky said, shrugging slightly. "Usually the bigger stuff like quantum mechanics and stuff." She gave Pip a curious look. "You don't think that's weird do you?"
Pip shook his head. "No way! I think that's brilliant! I mean, that's stuff like wormholes an’ time travel! That's just downright awesome! Like somethin’ out of Adventures in Time an’ Space or something."
Dinky’s face lit up. “Oh! Do you watch Adventures?” she exclaimed.
“Are you joking? I love that show!” Pip said happily. “‘ave you seen most recent ones?”
Dinky nodded. “The relaunch?! Yeah of course! I can’t wait to see what they’re doing with Eleven! I mean, I like where they’re going with him.”
Pip tilted his head slightly. “Really? I haven’t really seen much of his work.” he trailed off for a moment. “Uh… did you happen to catch the reboot of To Boldly Go.”
“Oh you saw that too?”
Pip nodded. “You like To Boldly Go?”
Dinky nodded. “Yeah I do! But I prefer the original series. I mean, the reboot is okay, but I feel it could do with a little bit more internal consistency you know? Like, they introduce that Red Matter stuff, but really, it makes no logical sense!”
“Oh you didn’t get that either?! I was wondering how the heck the time travel worked. Like, is the old timeline still around? Or is it totally replaced?”
“I like to think it’s still around, I mean, that makes more sense then completely wiping it out. Maybe like Back to the Future?”
“Oh you like saw that too! I love that movie!”
“Me too!” Dinky practically cheered, and the two of them started on a long tangent, quickly absorbing themselves into the world of movies. However, unbeknownst to the two ponies, crawling along a wall, was a small, black spider.
The spider crawled along, seeking out a suitable area to hunker down and start building a web. However, everywhere around it was cold, sterile and dry. It wanted somewhere warm, damp, dark and quiet, just like it’s old home. It skittered along, desperately searching for someplace not completely dominated by light and sound.
Reaching out to the best of its abilities, the spider could find nothing that suited its needs. However, it could detect a small patch of what appeared to be darkness, far away from all the sound and light. If only it could get down.
After anchoring itself, the spider began to slowly lower to the ground. A light breeze caused the spider to drift slightly, but its limited understanding of worry was silenced as it saw it was drifting towards what appeared to be a small, multicolored pillar. From there, the spider felt that it could climb down to the floor without being spotted or killed. Simple.
Once it touched down, it took a moment to get adjusted to where it had landed. The pillar was warm, and had an odd texture not unlike a leaf, but before the spider could move the pillar seemed to shift.
The sudden appearance of a large shadow overhead, colored exactly the same way as the pillar, caused the spider’s mind to come to a realization; this was some kind of animal, perhaps one of the spider’s predators. Fear gripped the spider, but it could not run.
The spider could not run. It had to fight. Running purely on instinct, the spider reared up and sank its fangs into its “predator”.
“... So, anyway,” Pip idly massaged the back of his head. “I was thinking... well...”
“Well what?” Dinky asked.
“Well, I know a couple good restaurants downtown, a-and I can get my uncle’s car for the night we can... y’know, go get some food an’ then maybe catch up on Series Seven or somethin’?” She’s going to say no... she has to, Pip thought, a fear only confirmed when the only real reaction he got from Dinky was another blush. She always looked rather cute when she blushed.
“Well, um, I’d have to ask my parents...” she started, idly shuffling her feet. “But I’d love to go out with you,” she added, her voice taking on a tentative tone.
Pip was pretty certain his heart stopped working properly. Did she just say yes?! He managed to contain most of his excitement, for if he had let it out he was certain that he would have attracted too much attention and might have gotten thrown out.
“That’s... that’s great!” he beamed. “I’ll probably ‘ave to ask if I can borrow the car, but then we can-” Pip’s full reply was cut off when he felt a sharp pain stab into the back of his hoof. He let out a yelp, jerking his hoof back sharply, causing it to slam into a nearby table.
“You okay?” Dinky asked, instantly moving towards Pip with concern in her eyes, and lifting up his hoof to inspect it.
“Mr. Trottingshire?” came Mrs. Frizzle’s voice, and Pip and Dinky both looked up, with Pip noticing that everyone was now looking at him. “Is something the matter?”
“Uh...” Pip mind was racing as he looked down at the odd red welt that was forming rapidly. His brain flashed back briefly to the image of the empty tank, and his eyes widened. “Uh, no, I’m good. Just got a wee bit excited. Banged me hand on a table. That’s all,” he gave the teacher a sheepish grin, quickly moving his hoof back to the floor.
“Well, try to contain your excitement next time, and you better wash off your hand in case anything might have gotten on it,” Mrs. Frizzle responded, before continuing with her lecture as if nothing had happened.
Dinky gave Pip a worried glance. “You okay? That looked like a bite…”
Pip turned towards her, giving Dinky his most confident smile. Last thing he needed was to completely break down and have a panic attack in front of the mare of his dreams. “Yeah, sure I’m fine. We’ll just drop by the nurse’s office and check it. Probably nothing.” He gave his best attempt at a laugh, but could see Dinky visibly grow suspicious.
“Well… okay then…” she said, her voice vaguely suspicious. “If you say so.”
Pip just gave another smile, trying his best to ignore the throbbing that was beginning to claim his hoof.
“Let’s see,” the nurse said, taking Pip’s hoof, drearily looking it over. She leaned in close, picking up a magnifying glass and briefly looking through it.
“Seems to be a bug bite. How long ago was this?” she asked, glancing up at Pip.
“Uh, well, it was at RichCorp… maybe… an hour ago?” the nurse did seem rather surprised at this, but did not immediately respond.
“Have you felt anything particularly odd? Like, hot flashes or extreme pain?”
Pip shook his head. “No, ma’am. Just a bit of throbbin’.”
The nurse nodded, jotting something down on her clipboard. “I see,” she sighed, clicking her pen and slipping it onto the clipboard. “Well, I don’t see anything particularly out of place, since I didn’t see what bit you. Looks a lot like a spider bite, but if it were anything lethal, say a black widow or a brown recluse, you’d probably already be dead or, at the very least, in a coma.” She then rolled her office chair over to a large container, sliding open a drawer, and pulling out a bright yellow tube. “I’m just going to put this on the bite. If anything changes, call me immediately,” she said, uncapping the tube and rubbing its contents over the bite before slapping a band aid on.
“You absolutely sure?” Pip asked.
The nurse nodded. “Yes. I’ve been dealing with spider bites for twenty years, kid. No worries. Now.” She motioned him towards the door. “Get going or you’ll miss whatever class you probably need to go to.”
Pip didn’t say anything, simply nodding and turning to leave. He was a little shaken at the idea that he had been bitten by some spider, but the nurse had said that he would be okay for now. Then again, she had no way to identify just what bit him, so death by spider still loomed over Pip’s head.
I really shouldn’t get too panicky about it. If anything does go wrong, I’ll just call the nurse... that should be fine.
It hadn't taken long for Pip's confidence in his well being to take a nose dive.
What at first was a mild burning sensation around the area of the bite had quickly blossomed all over his body, and he had quickly staggered home.
He felt as if the world was spinning. He blinked, desperately trying to clear his field of vision, but everything remained strangely blurry. He curled up on the bed, closing his eyes tightly and rubbing his temple. He felt like his head was in some sort of torture machine, slowly and steadily crushing it while inserting a pair of screwdrivers between his eyes.
“Help,” Pip groaned weakly, pawing at his comforter in a vain attempt to pull it over his body. His whole body felt as if it had been dunked in a bucket of liquid nitrogen, thrown into a freezer for a few weeks, and then dragged through a bucket of bowling balls, rocks and broken glass. And that was just the outside. On the inside, he felt as if his internal organs were tied to some sort of taffy machine, pulling and yanking and stretching them over and over again.
He had to get out of bed. If he stayed there, he’d soon be rendered immobile, his muscles atrophying away and his skin getting horrific bed sores and then fleas and ticks an--
It was possible that his thoughts were wandering a bit. He shook his head as best he could, clearing away the (most likely unfounded) thoughts of doom and instead focusing on getting out of bed. He shifted his weight with a groan, but his legs refused to move. He tried again, this time managing to disrupt his center of gravity enough to send him rolling off the bed like an elephant seal into the ocean.
He landed with a rather underwhelming thump, hitting the carpeted floor and rolling onto his back. He waited for a moment, hoping against hope that someone heard the thump and come rushing upstairs. His blinks came slower and slower, as exhaustion slowly started to creep through his body. It felt now as if he had somehow managed to drink six gallons of alcohol and was now dumping himself into a scaldingly hot tub. He let out a moan, his sweat starting to lather up on his body as he rolled to his side. That must have done something to him, as he felt an explosion of pain shoot up from his wrists, causing him to let out a cry of pain. His hooves, which now felt numb, darted towards his wrists, clutching them tightly as he weakly rocked on the floor, seized up in what felt like some sort of seaizer. He wasn’t conscious for that long, however, as within a few seconds, he passed out, his body deflating like a punctured balloon.
Dr. Cheerilee limped along rather introspectively, the sound of her plastic prosthetic hollowly clopping on the ground with her normal hooves, towards the brownstone she called home. There were still a dozen and a half signs of the repair workers having recently been by the area, either by buckets of half-solidified concrete or the stacks of bright orange traffic cones that stood about idly, surrounded by strips of bright yellow warning tape. She looked up, observing the scaffolding that was still in place on the various buildings surrounding her own. It had been almost a year since the Flutterhulk episode, and her neighborhood was still a very long way from being back to the way it once was.
She was still somewhat glad she still had a place to call home, since, unlike many of her neighbors on the block, her home had been lucky enough to only have the top most floor destroyed and not the whole building. Of course, that top-most floor was her home laboratory, and contained dozens, if not hundreds of irreplaceable experiments and research.
Cheerilee let out a sigh, reaching into her lab coat pocket and finishing out the keys to her front door. She turned the key, the sound of locks tumbling reaching her ears, and tried to open the door, only to have it jam with less than a quarter inch of space.
Stupid door, she grumbled, giving the door a sharp slam as she pushed herself into it, causing it to pop open rather sharply. She stumbled forwards slightly, her plastic hoof scuffing on the floor sharply before she came to a halt. Once she regained her balance, she stomped the concrete dust from outside off her remaining hooves on the welcome mat, stepping inside.
She then closed the door as she entered, letting her briefcase slide off her back and onto a nearby chair. She moved into the kitchen, spotting the message light on her answering machine blinking. She let out a sigh. I’ll check them later, she thought, turning back to the living room and slouching down onto the loveseat as she let her sore legs rest.
Just as she’d expected, the formula wasn’t going well at all. After Mr. Rich’s announcement, she’d moved to the lab, nose to the grindstone in an attempt to hopefully make a breakthrough of some kind. Several chemical modifications and several dozen dead lab rats later, they’d reached an impasse. She let out a grumbling sigh, rubbing her hoof across her face. At least she was home now. Someplace quiet and private, where she could hopefully take a break, have some dinner, and clear her mind before turning back to the Rubik's cube that was the formula.
The sound of the phone ringing again greeted her ears, and she peered towards the phone with lowered eyebrows. The ringing continued for a few more seconds, before being cut off by a beep.
“Hello! You’ve reached the home/laboratory of Dr. Cheerilee! If you have a message, leave it after the beep and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible! Thanks!” her answering machine chimed, before another beep.
“Hey, Cheerilee. It’s me, Berry Punch. I’m about to drop off Ruby, an--”
Cheerilee’s eyes widened, her gaze darting towards the calendar, where, in bright red ink, were the words ‘Ruby coming to stay’ on today’s date. She let out a long series of expletives as she stood up from the chair, galloping over to the phone as best she could to pick it up before Berry hung up.
“Yes, Berry! I’m here,” she said, coming to a stop and leaning against the wall slightly. "Sorry, I didn't hear the phone at first," she apologized quickly. Berry could be heard laughing slightly on the other end.
“No problem, cos, you’re a busy mare," she replied, the sound of a car horn blaring over the phone, followed by Berry's rather coarse response. Cheerilee imagined the mare was most likely stuck in the notoriously difficult Manehattan traffic.
“Are you-uh, are you in traffic?” Cheerilee asked, glancing around her house to realize it wasn’t exactly up to her normal standards of upkeep. For one thing, the dishes were piling up something fierce, and the kitchen floor needed mopping. Can’t have guests if the house is such a dump, she thought, nibbling her lip.
“Oh no I’m not in traffic--ground traffic that is. We’re on one of those air taxis the pegasi run. You know, the blue ones that cost like, a billion bits? I was just shouting at some jerk who wasn’t paying attention. Nearly thwacked us.”
“Oh dear,” Cheerilee answered absent mindedly, leaning her head to the side to keep the phone on her shoulder while she tried to stretch her way across the kitchen to at least try to wipe the counter down with her good foreleg, causing her to wobble precariously. “Why did you take those? I mean, aren’t they expensive?”
“Yeah, but I didn’t want to get stuck in the ground traffic, since I have to be in Gravity Falls by the day after tomorrow. Business and all. You still live on Maple Street right? By where that big monster was?"
Cheerilee glanced upwards at the ceiling, which still showed signs of damage from the unwanted guest from a year or so ago. “Uh… yeah… yeah, I do. But Berry, the house is a mess, I mean, I’ve been really horribly--”
“No worries, cos. I don’t judge. Celestia knows that my house is usually a mess…" she trailed off, apparently distracted by something. “Ah! I see your place. Wow, that green freak really did a number on it, didn’t she?”
Cheerilee glanced at the ceiling again. “Yeah...you betcha.”
“Well, we’re coming in for a landing,” came Berry’s response, before her voice seemed to move away from the phone. “Hey Ruby, make sure you’ve got your stuff…”
Cheerilee’s eyes darted towards the kitchen window, catching sight of the blue pegasus driven cart landing outside. She bit her lip slightly.
“So, I’m gonna hang up and talk to you once I get inside, ‘kay cous?" Berry said, catching Cheerilee’s attention again. Cheerilee nodded slightly.
“Yeah, okay…” she was greeted by the click of the phone hanging up on the other end, and she moved to put her own phone back, quickly turning and heading towards the door. She opened it, grumbling slightly as it once again got stuck on its hinges. With a sharp pull, the door popped open with an over-dramatic creak. By the time she stepped out onto the front steps, the air taxi was already in the air, and Berry waved towards her, seemingly completely okay with the steamer-trunk sized suitcase she had on her back.
“Do you need help with that?” she quickly asked, galloping over to help Berry with the bags. Berry shrugged.
“No, no, I can handle it.” Berry replied rather dismissively, as if the steamer trunk were just a box of chocolates. Behind her, peeking out shyly, was a rather short filly who shared Berry’s reddish purple color-scheme.
“Well, if you say so…” Cheerilee answered, already looking down, giving the filly a kind smile.
“Why, hello there Ruby. How are you doing?” she asked, and the filly shied back slightly. Berry simply rolled her eyes slightly, giving Ruby a slight nudge.
“Come on now, Ruby, it’s just Auntie Cheerilee. You can relax.”
Ruby glanced up at Berry tentatively, before giving Cheerilee a barely noticeable nod. “Hello, Auntie Cheerilee… I-I’m do-doing okay.”
Cheerilee gave Ruby a supportive smile. “That’s great Ruby! You know you’ll be staying here while your mother’s out of town, right?”
Ruby nodded mutely, once more retreating behind her mother. Cheerilee, seeing that further conversation would likely just make Ruby feel all the more awkward, focused her attention on Berry, motioning for the pair to follow her.
“I know the place still looks rather decrepit, but I suppose I’m still one of the lucky ones…” she said, motioning towards the large gaps between scaffold covered buildings. Berry looked around, sliding her sunglasses down her muzzle slightly.
“I’ll say. I’m still shocked your place managed so well… all things considered.”
Cheerilee simply nodded, fighting the door open and giving Berry first entrance. The trio stepped inside, Ruby staying as close to Berry as was physically possible, as Cheerilee closed the door behind them. As soon as the door was closed, Berry set the large steamer trunk down on the floor with a loud thump.
“Oh, look Ruby! Auntie Cheerilee has a TV. How abouts you go and watch something while I bring Auntie up to speed?” Berry said, motioning towards Cheerilee’s rather humble looking television. Ruby nodded mutely, quietly trotting towards the television and taking a seat in front of it, flicking it on and turning to some random channel.
Once Ruby was visibly distracted, Berry’s upbeat expression lowered somewhat, and she beckoned for Cheerilee to walk over towards a hallway. Cheerilee followed, standing next to her cousin in the hallway.
“Well,” Berry started, letting out a slight sigh. “Sorry to have to leave her here, but you know how my job is.”
“Yeah. Hill over dale and all,” Cheerilee answered. Berry simply nodded. Cheerilee glanced towards Ruby for a moment. “She doing well? Like... with the…” she trailed off, giving Berry a questioning look. Berry nodded.
“With her sickness? Oh yes, she’s doing great. I found a medication that really works for her. Nice, no real side-effects.”
“Um, what kind of side effects?” Cheerilee asked, her curiosity piqued. “I mean, I am a biochemist. Maybe once I get some more funding I can help-”
“Nah, it’s fine,” Berry said quickly, waving her hoof to silence Cheerilee. “No need to really get you working anymore then you probably are already,” she rubbed her nose slightly out of reflex. “If you don’t mind me asking, how goes your work?”
Cheerilee shrugged. “Oh... it’s just the usual stuff Filth-I mean, Mr. Rich makes me work on. I signed a confidentiality agreement though, so that’s all I can really tell you.”
There was an awkward pause between the two, the only sound being the television running in the background. Cheerilee shifted her jaw slightly. “Do you know how long you’ll be gone?”
“About a week, give or take a few days. They have some nice real estate up there they want me to see, to check its value and such. Should be a real slice and dice operation.”
“Certainly sounds better than being stuck in a lab with a control freak breathing down your neck all the time,” Cheerilee muttered, at which Berry gave a small chuckle.
“Believe me, it’s nowhere near as fun as you think it is.” There was a pause before Berry frowned. “Hey, is something wrong?”
“N-no, I’m fine.” Cheerilee replied, but Berry did not seem convinced.
“You’re not mad at me, are you? I know I kind of warned you last minute about all this-”
“No, it’s not that,” Cheerilee shook her head. “I’m... I’m just stressed, that’s all. Things have just been piling up on me over the last few days.”
“Oh.” There was another pause before Berry spoke. “You know you can always call me if things get really bad.”
“Yeah, I know.” Cheerilee gave a limp nod as Berry pulled out a small bottle.
“I’ve got to get going soon, so we’ll have to continue this when I get back,” Berry said before passing the bottle to Cheerilee. “Here’s Ruby’s meds. Make sure she takes two before bed every night. I even packed a few extra, just in case.”
“Thanks.” Cheerilee inspected the bottle for a moment before looking back up at Berry. “Mind telling me what this is? It doesn’t have a proper label.”
Berry shifted her weight, visibly evasive. She bit her lip slightly.
“Just so I’m on the same page as you and Ruby… in case something happens.” Cheerilee added apologetically.
“Well, it’s from a flower. Her doctor recommended it. Made from verbena he said.”
“Verbena?” Cheerilee furrowed her brow slightly. “Really?”
Berry gave an exaggerated shrug, beginning to move out of the hallway. “That’s what he said. I’m no doctor, that’s for sure.” She let out a laugh, but Cheerilee could sense it was rather stiff. She quickly moved towards Ruby, leaning over and whispering something in her ear, and giving her a gentle motherly kiss before moving towards the door. Cheerilee hesitated, glancing down at the bottle in her hoof, before quietly putting it in her pocket.
“Um, good luck, Berry,” she called out, and Berry smiled, hand already on the doorknob.
“Sure thing. Stay safe you two. Ruby, listen to Auntie, okay?”
“Yes mother,” Ruby answered quietly, giving her mother a sad wave goodbye. Berry blew her a kiss, before opening the door and stepping out, leaving Cheerilee and Ruby alone.
Pip’s eyes shot open, the bright sunlight hitting him square in the retinas. He blinked a few times, smacking his lips as he felt the world around him quickly filtering into his brain through his eyes and ears. Unlike most mornings however, the information organized itself rather quickly, with all assorted sights, smells and sounds clicking into place and neatly organizing themselves in only a few seconds. Usually, that process took what felt like eons, with Pip having to force himself out of bed and shuffle along like some sort of half-rotted zombie.
Now? Now everything was seemingly enhanced and clear, and he felt as if he’d just been injected with a syringe full of energy. He looked around the room, his eyebrows lowering at how his vision was still strangely fuzzy and blurred.
Wha…. he moved his hand towards his face, his hoof wrapping around the frames of his glasses. I must have forgotten to take ‘em off… he thought, pulling the glasses from his face and blinking as his eyes adjusted. The first thing that came to his mind was how everything now seemed ten times clearer, with the room around him leaping into sharp focus. He looked down at his glasses, cocking an eyebrow and inspecting them. The lenses seemed as clean as possible given the fact that he’d slept with them on, and he gave them a quick wipe down to clear away some dust that had managed to cling to them.
He then moved them back to his face, peering through them. Everything went fuzzy again.
How did that ‘appen? He thought, giving his glasses a suspicious look before setting them on the nightstand and looking around the room. For as long as he could remember, he’d needed glasses like a fish needed water. Now it seemed they only seemed to make his vision worse. He rubbed the back of his neck in thought, sitting up in bed. He let out a perplexed huff, taking the hoof that had been bitten and inspecting it.
Asides from a barely visible bite mark, it seemed as if the swelling had decreased significantly, and the previous burning sensation was now gone.
As he continued to ponder his next move, he left his room, walking along the hallway and into the bathroom, going through the steps of his morning routine on autopilot. Like, maybe this is only short term? I mean, I’m not dead right? That’s a good sign. Anyways, can’t exactly report this if I don’t know what kind of spider bit me.
Still deep in thought, he absentmindedly reached for one of the knobs on the sink. It just so happened to be the one that always jammed. He let out a grunt, rolling his eyes and looking down at the handle. He gave it another tug, this time with some more muscle put into it. There was a sharp crack and an explosion of freezing cold water spewed up into his face. Pip let out a yelp, his hooves flying to grab one of the towels hanging from the shower curtain. That lead to him losing his balance and spiraling into a flurry of wild movements, which somehow ended with him spun around, balancing on the side of the tub, towel in hoof and shower curtain rod balancing on one of his hind legs.
Okay… that happened… he thought, looking around warily, only to be greeted by the sink water spraying in his face again. Oh yeah, sink.
He climbed down from the tub rim, making sure to put the curtain rod down carefully, before crawling under the sink. Using considerably more care than before, he turned the water off and then took a step back. Nothing seemed primed to explode, so he grabbed another towel and did his best to dry the floor.
After going back to his room to pack his backpack, Pip started towards the stairs, coming to a halt when his nose caught a scent that was usually one that was very unappreciated on any morning.
Wheat cakes. Pip cringed involuntarily. Pip always wondered what possessed Aunt Mayflower to craft those disc shaped abominations. They were like eating wet crackers, all grain but no flavor. He wanted to eat something grainy, he’d eat pretzels. With the dreaded wheat cakes on his mind, Pip hopped on the banister, sliding down and landing smoothly. He started to stalk towards the door, moving as quietly as his hooves would allow.
“Oh Pip!” Came Mayflower’s voice, causing Pip to halt mid step, whipping his head around to face her. “I made your favorite- wheat cakes!” Mayflower beamed, motioning towards a plate full of them sitting on the table. Across from a rather crestfallen Uncle Copper, who had obviously been caught in the web of wheat as well. Pip gave Copper a sympathetic glance, which the older stallion returned before raising an eyebrow.
“You look like you’re feeling better,” he said, beckoning for Pip to sit down. “I take it you slept off wha’ever bug you got?”
“Bug?” Pip arched an eyebrow slightly.
Mayflower nodded. “Oh yes, don’t you remember? You came home the day before yesterday sick as a dog. Went straight up to your room. Missed your birthday party and everything.” As she spoke, she flopped down several wheat cakes onto Pip’s plate. “Now, eat up. Celestia knows you need the energy.”
Pip stammered slightly. “Oh, well, uh-I’m feelin’ much better Auntie. Really I am,” he nudged his plate away as much as he could without her noticing and glanced up at the clock. “In fact, I’d better be ‘eadin’ off to school. I missed a day after all, an’ I gots Featherweight’s ‘omework I promised to help him with so…” he slid up out of the chair, already heading towards the staircase. “I’ll just be fetchin’ me backpack and be on my way. No worries.” He gave her a big smile and a quick peck on the cheek before spinning on his heels and striding out the door, only to trip on the door frame and go sprawling. However, he was somehow able to twist his body around mid-fall, and just ended up rolling along the ground and ending up back on his hooves.
Both Mayflower and Copper gave him surprised expressions, which he replied with a self-conscious smile. “Uh… post-sickness reflexes?” he muttered, before waving goodbye awkwardly and scampering away.
Back in the kitchen, Mayflower’s expression was quizzical. “What do you suppose that was all about pumpkin?” she asked, giving Copper a quizzical look. Copper merely shrugged, sliding his chair back and standing up.
“Beats me, honey bun,” he replied, stretching in an intentionally over the top manner. “But I’d better be heading to work too, the bo--”
“Oh no you don’t,” Mayflower chided, gently nudging Copper back into his seat. “You’re not going to be skipping breakfast that easily. Now, eat up, you look a little thin.” She emphasized her words by dropping a few wheat cakes onto his plate, which clattered in an acrimonious manner. Copper let out the slightest of whimpers, looking down at the clay-like discs of cooked wheat in horror.
Featherweight looked around the classroom, tapping his foot impatiently. For the years he’d known Pipsqueak, the pinto colored pony had only missed school twice. One time had been when he’d managed to catch a particularly nasty strain of flu, and was on sick leave, and the other was when his parents had died.
Come on, where are you? he grumbled, now starting to tap his pencil rapidly on the desk as he glared down at the quiz in front of him. Of course. One day you don’t come to school, and it’s got to be the day my homework is due. Perf-
“Mr. Rich, is there something you need help with?” Came a deep, smokey, commanding voice from a few feet away. Featherweight looked towards the source of the voice, finding his teacher, Mrs. Barometer, peering down at him with raised eyebrows. Featherweight gave her a thin, brittle smile.
“Uhh-aahh-” He stammered, moving to lean on his wrist awkwardly, rubbing his hoof in his mane. Mrs. Barometer’s gaze only grew more critical.
“I asked you a question, Mr. Rich,” she peered down at his quiz sheet, which was by now covered in a hopeless collage of doodles, random words and smeared graphite. Her eyes narrowed. “Never mind. I’ve seen enough.” her tone so savagely bitter that it felt as if she had just left behind a large, intimidating ‘F’ branded onto his forehead.
“You and I will trade words after class. Is that understood?”
“No buts. Failure is not an option in my class. Now, I suggest you get back to work and study properly.” With that, she turned around, striding away in a manner more akin to some sort of movie vampire then an actual, living breathing pony. Featherweight let out a grumble, letting his head smack down onto his desk.
Pipsqueak worriedly looked around the gaggle of students who were now heading to their lockers to prepare for the next class. Featherweight was nowhere to be seen, and a quick glance at his watch showed that Pip had managed to miss the first class of the day, Mrs. Barometer’s. Which, knowing Mrs. Barometer, was probably more positive than negative…
‘Cept for Feather… he’s probably getting chewed out for my mistake. Pip thought, shoulders sagging slightly as he opened his locker. He let out a small groan when his hoof stuck to the combination lock. Did somepony find it amusing to put glue on it… again? He tugged at the lock in frustration, only to have it stubbornly cling to his hoof. He gritted his teeth, tugging on the lock with more force.
Come… on… you.. silly… thing… get… loo-- His train of thought derailed as he gave the lock a tremendous tug, the sharp cracking sound filling the air for a fraction of a second before he felt himself tumbling backwards into the nest of fellow students. The feeling of something buzzing in the back of his head caught his attention, and he spun and stumbled about, somehow narrowly avoiding collisions with the passing ponies, and ending up standing on the opposite end of the hallway, lock still in hoof, the locker door hanging onto it stubbornly.
“Wha…?” he blinked awkwardly at the lock in his hoof, before flicking his wrist slightly, causing it to finally detach and plop to the floor with a clack. He looked around, wondering if anyone had noticed the fact that he’d just tore the door off of his locker. He discreetly walked back to his locker, the door awkwardly clacking on the floor as he did so, and he gave the student next to him a sheepish grin.
“Uh… guess I don’t know my own strength,” he said, only to be greeted by the other student blinking at him with wide eyes before they closed their locker and walked away, muttering something about Pip being a ‘weirdo’.
Pip let out a huff, looking over his locker to see if there was some way he could reattach the door.
“There you are!” barked a voice, causing Pip to jolt and spin around. He found Featherweight standing in front of him, arms crossed and eyes glaring at him from under his mane. “What the heck kept you, Pip?!” Feather barked, not even giving Pip a chance to properly form a response.
“Well?” Feather pressed, now tapping his hoof aggressively. “I got into trouble with Miss Barometer because of you being late! She gave me a lecture and everything! Why were you late?”
“I’m sorry, Feather, I really am. But I missed the bus and had to take the tube, ‘kay?” Pip responded apologetically, reaching into his backpack and rummaging around for a second before pulling out Featherweight’s homework. “Look, here it is. Again, sorry, but I got sick yesterday--”
“What do you mean, ‘got sick’?” Feather asked, his anger fading slightly as he took the homework from Pip, stuffing it into his own backpack. Pip let out a sigh, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Well…” he looked around. He wasn’t quite sure if he should let Featherweight in on everything that had happened over the past forty-eight hours… but then again, his antics had managed to get Featherweight into trouble for something that was obstinately his own fault.
“Well what?” Feather pressed, leaning forwards slightly with a raised eyebrow. He seemed less angry now, and generally more concerned. Pip rubbed his neck again, flexing the hoof that had been bitten involuntarily.
“Okay… remember yesterday’s field trip to your dad’s place?” Pip began, shifting his weight on his hooves slightly while continuing to look around awkwardly.
Featherweight simply nodded, seemingly pressing Pip to continue.
“Well, do you remem’er those spiders an’ stuff? I think one managed to escape an’…”
“You got bitten by one of my dad’s spiders?! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT?! Something could be going horrifically wrong! What if this is just the first step of some horrific Ponyberg-ish transformation or something? Like, next thing you know, you’ve got hair sprouting from your kneecaps and you’re vomiting acid and your skin’s flaking off and then--”
Pip stammered, spooked by the sudden physical contact and shaking he was now undergoing. “Don’t get your tail in a knot, Feather, I’m fine, see?” he held up the hoof that had been bitten, only for Feather to grab it and give it a close inspection. “All I got was a bit of a swell and that was it. Slept it off, and now I’m fine, I swear.”
“You sure? You’re not gonna sprout extra arms or anything?” Featherweight asked, and Pip shook his head.
“Uh, no, I don’t think I will…” he gently yanked his hand out of Featherweight’s grip. “But apparently I can open my locker without my lock now,” he added with a slight chuckle, motioning towards the broken door that was now stuffed sideways into his locker.
Featherweight’s eyes widened slightly. “You did that?”
Pip merely nodded and scratched the back of his neck. “Weird thing is that it just kinda stuck to my hand. Like somepony put glue on it or somethin’--”
“Hold on, hold on,” Featherweight interrupted, holding up a finger. “So basically, what you said is that you got your hand stuck on the door of your locker, and you managed to rip it off? You? Pipsqueak Trottingshire? Skinniest colt in school?”
“Look buddy, if it makes you feel better, I had a nurse check it as soon as we got back. She didn’t see anything wrong. So no need to get worked up, right? I’m sure everything will be fine.” Pip gave Feather his best confident smile, even though deep down, he was terrified. Now that Feather had mentioned it, he really did have no clue what was happening to him. Maybe Featherweight was right, maybe it would turn him into some unholy abomination or something. Of course, he knew that if he flew into a panic, he’d just make things worse.
Featherweight meanwhile, just frowned.
“Yeah, I probably should have called you to say I was sick. Hindsight is twenty-twenty after all…” Pip added, trying his best to smooth over the obvious wrinkle in their friendship that had just developed.
Featherweight just let out a grumble. “Whatever, man. Let’s just get back to class before the bell. Last thing I need is be late for another class okay?” He then turned and walked away, leaving Pip to stand alone by his damaged locker.
Really screwed up that one, huh Pip? Pip thought, sighing and plopped his bag inside his locker. It seemed his hooves weren’t randomly sticking to things, which was good, since the last thing he needed was to accidentally destroy his backpack by tearing it open or something. Feather's probably going to be a funk all day then now. Guess it’s justified though. He was depending on me for that quiz. He sighed. At least there's nothing else-
“Hey Pip!” Pip turned to the sound of the voice and was greeted by the sight of Dinky walking up to him, a surprised look on her face.
Pip’s eyes widened slightly. The date! You forgot the date!
“Oh, ‘ello Dinky,” he said, blushing slightly and waving awkwardly. She was probably furious.
“What happened to you, Pip? Why did you miss our date?” Dinky asked, tilting her head slightly. “I waited and waited but you didn’t come.”
“Uh... food poisoning.” Pip replied, causing Dinky to raise an eyebrow. “Yeah, I ate something a few days ago and got pretty sick,” he continued, trying his best to look as honest as possible. Sure it was a bold faced lie, but at least it was a better excuse than ‘bitten by mutated spider’. “I was stuck in bed all day,” he added, looking down at the ground.
There was a lingering silence as Dinky’s expression grew sympathetic. “Oh really? That’s awful. I’m so sorry. You’re feeling better now, though, right?”
“Oh, sure, most definitely.” Pip replied, and another awkward pause formed between them. “If it’s, um, okay with you though, I’d really like to make it up to you somehow. Maybe we can try again?”
Dinky bit her lip. “Well,” she said, dragging out the last syllable a bit “I have a pretty busy weekend… maybe we can try again next Sunday?”
“Oh sure!” Pip said, a little too loudly. “Great. That’s… that’s great.” He smiled awkwardly. Dinky smiled back. The two ended up just looking into each other’s eyes, both obviously trying to say something. Fortunately, the silence was broken by the sound of the school bell alerting them to be ready for the next class.
Pip was first to speak, with a large blush covering his face. “Well! Hate to run, but I’ve got to get to class!”
Dinky nodded rapidly, a blush matching Pip’s on her face. “Ya so… I’ll see ya later!”
Both turned and fled to their respective classes.
Pip walked along next to the traffic packed street, lost in thought. Today had been a weird day. Sometimes, the world around him would feel like it was going in slow-motion, with everything exploding into perfect focus. At other times, everything would seem to explode in an overload of noise and vibrations. His hooves had also kept randomly sticking to things, and one time he’d notice a strand of what looked like silk connected to his wrists. It had taken several tries to break it, causing an awkward moment between him and the random student he’d managed to get tangled with.
The most confusing aspect of the day, however, had been the recurrent tingling at the back of his skull. It kept popping up, seemingly throwing him out of the driver’s seat and causing him to dodge or duck whatever had been thrown at him. It had been most helpful during a particularly intense game of dodgeball during gym class, much to the frustration of the opposite team.
Maybe it’s some sort of precognitive thing, he pondered.
That wasn't all that was bothering him. Now that he wasn't distracted by the feeling of his internal organs waltzing themselves to death, he was free to panic over more down to earth, less life threatening matters: his date with Dinky.
He had already missed his first chance to hang out with her, so whatever he did the second time would have to be really special.
I’ll have to ask Uncle Copper for some cash. Where should we go? Paso Fino food is nice… wait she might not like that… probably should just straight up ask her what kind of food she likes…
That’s when he felt it. The buzzing sensation that kept bugging him was back, only this time it was far louder, more intense. Whatever it was warning him about, he needed to get out of its way, now.
Pip jumped away with all his strength. Looking back, he was watched a car pass right where he had been standing. His shock only grew as the street continued to recede from view.
Flailing his legs, he managed to grab a hold of a nearby wall, barely avoiding tumbling down to the street below. He looked down, his eyes growing to the size of dinner plates. He was almost five stories above the ground, sticking to the wall like glue. He froze in place, not wanting to jeopardize himself any further. The last thing he needed was to fly into a wild panic and end up falling at least sixty feet to the street below.
I’m… sticking to the wall.
I’m actually sticking to the wall.
I’m sticking to a vertical wall after jumping five stories straight into the air.
His eyes widened again… I have super powers. His massive grin however, faded somewhat when he looked down at the ground again.
How do I get down? Pipsqueak’s eyebrows furrowed, his eyes peering over at his hooves. They were apparently quite snug against the brick walls of the building he’d managed to find himself attached to.
I mean, this is amazin’ and all, but I can’t be stuck up ‘ere forever… he tentatively tugged at his hoof, and with a rather underwhelming flick of the wrist, it popped loose. His center of gravity wobbled slightly, causing him to tense up again and the grip of his remaining three hooves to tighten noticeably.
“Okay…okay…don’t panic Pip, panicking never solves anything,” he muttered aloud, looking down at the street below with a gulp. “Guess I’ll just climb down then…yeah...climb down...five stories...of sheer brick wall…using just me ‘ooves………piece o’ cake,” he told himself, trying to remain as calm as possible in his current predicament.
He closed his eyes tightly, lifting one of his rear hooves and slowly reaching it downwards, before mirroring the motion with one of his forelegs. He repeated it with the other hooves, and so on and so forth, eventually finding himself, somewhat stiffly, climbing down the wall. A smile slowly spread across his face, and he let out a giggle.
“Hey, this is actually pretty ea-”
That’s when one of his hooves caught the other, and he found himself suddenly tumbling forwards wildly. He let out a yelp, coming loose from the wall and throwing his forelegs forward on reflex. There was a noticeable pinch in his wrists, and next thing Pipsqueak knew, he was tangled in a web of silk and surrounded by papers of various kinds.
“-sy…” Pipsqueak let out a sigh of both relief and frustration, as he began to clamber awkwardly out of the recycling bin.
“Lucky for me it was just paper” he muttered, his hooves clopping against the cement as he hopped out of the bin, some pieces of paper still stuck to his hooves. He let out an annoyed grunt, shaking his hooves to cause the papers to fall away.
“Okay Pip, this is something you need to workshop…” he glanced up at the building. “I mean, I’m not exactly gonna try climbing another one of these…” he trailed off, closing his mouth and looking down at his hooves and back at the wall.
I wonder if I can get around faster now….
He tentatively walked over to the wall again, attaching his right hoof to the structure.
Only one way to find out I guess…
Followed by his left hoof.
And that’s by doing.
“Okay Pip, now for the big one.” Pipsqueak took a breath, flexing his neck as he watched the roof across from the one he was standing on. So far, climbing had been a rather straightforward matter of putting one hoof in front of the other, albeit with the conceit of being 90% up a flat surface. Once on top of the roof, of course, there was the matter of getting to the next rooftop.
“Just one little jump.” He crouched down, pawing at the ground and taking another breath. “You can do it…” He flexed his hooves. He’d been good at track and field, but that was before he proved he could jump fifteen feet straight up a wall. It stood to reason he could try to see if he could jump that far straight ahead.
“One… two… three!”
On three, he bolted forwards, his hooves carrying him much faster than expected. His eyes widened slightly in surprise, and he almost tripped over the edge of the roof. Fortunately, he came to his senses quickly and jumped, his momentum carrying him across the gap and halfway across the next roof. Pipsqueak quickly suppressed his surprise and kept running, and he was able to clear the next gap with no difficulties.
“Heh, this is easier than I thought,” Pipsqueak said after clearing another gap. He came to a stop, his smile large and wide. His breaths were now heavy pants, as this was the first time he’d ever really run so fast. He looked up, noting that he had reached a massive gap that he was pretty sure he could not jump, super jumping skills or no.
Guess now I can try out that... whatever it was I did earlier. Pipsqueak stared at his hooves, then back out at the gap. Deciding to start simple, he raised his right hoof and pointed it at the nearest building he could see, waiting patiently for something to happen.
“... Okay, that’s not working,” he muttered, looking back at his hoof. He could see a slightly off-white substance built up at the joint where the hoof met the wrist. He looked back at the nearby building again.
“Okay then….let’s fly!” he flung his hoof forward.
“Um... Go, web!” he tried a different hoof motion, but once again yielded nothing.
“Up, up, and away!”
Once again, nothing.
“Oh, this is ridiculous!” Pipsqueak angrily flicked his wrist again, more out of spite and frustration than anything else. As if a joke, a thread of webbing went sailing towards the building across the street, where it stuck to a water tower. Pipsqueak’s eyebrows rose and frowned.
“Okay, be like that,” he muttered, giving the line a tug with his other hoof to make sure it was connected firmly. “But at least you’re working now,” he added, bracing himself for the jump.
He took several steps back, pulling the line nice and taut.
“Yoiks! And away!” he shouted at the top of his lungs, galloping forwards and leaping off the roof. The line loosened, before going taut once more. With a sharp yank, it started swinging him forwards.
“This is awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeee--”
That’s when he hit the water tower.
Pip let out a pained groan, peeling himself out of the humorous imprint he created on the surface of the water tower and shaking his head to clear it.
“Yeah… note to self: practice swinging...” he crawled down to the surface platform, sitting down to take a moment and rest his now sore body.
“Recap time Pip. You got bitten by a freaky spider at RichCorp Labs, and can now climb up walls, jump across rooftops and swing from a web line coming outta your wrists,” he paused, letting the sheer strangeness of the past day or so filter through. “You gotta tell somepony. Somepony you can trust. Just in case something goes wrong...now, who do you trust?”
He tapped a hoof on his chin, his eyes wandering idly.
“Can’t really tell Aunt May… she’d just get worried… and Uncle Copper isn’t really a scientist…” he paused, his eyes widening. “Why didn’t I think of it! Dr. Cheerilee! I can tell ‘er! She knows all about genetics and mutations and stuff, maybe she can explain all this!”
Now that he had a semblance of a plan in his mind, Pipsqueak clambered down from the water tower and started down the wall. He’d had enough high altitude travel for the day, and he wanted to save his energy for Cheerilee. Also… he was rather sore.
Pipsqueak, sitting upside down on the ceiling, was looking at Doctor Cheerilee, who sat strangely quiet as she took in all the information he had given her.
She looks rather anxious… he thought to himself, noticing how, even though her face was rather flat, her eyes seemed to twitch involuntarily every so often.
“Um… you okay Doc? Or do you need a minute?” Pipsqueak asked, tilting his head slightly. Cheerilee shook her head slowly, leaning back in her chair and keeping her eyes fixed on Pipsqueak.
“No… it’s alright,” she said slowly and calmly. “Just let me get this straight: you were bitten by a spider, and now, for whatever reason, you seem to have gained abilities vaguely similar to that of a spider. Am I correct in assuming that?”
Pipsqueak, still perched on the ceiling, nodded. “Yeah… that’s about right.” He gave her a meek smile. “I think it was one of Bunsen's Spiders, Doc,” he added, giving Cheerilee another, somewhat more helpful smile.
Cheerilee's expression darkened, and she put her head in her good hoof. “Of course it would be one of his. Everything he touches goes haywire--”she halted mid-sentence, looking back up Pipsqueak to see him now hanging from one leg.
“Um, Pip, do you mind coming down from there? It’s rather worrying to see you hanging from so high up.”
Pipsqueak looked back at how he was hanging, before giving Cheerilee a nod. “This is pretty cool though, don’tcha think?” he said, shooting out a line of webbing and slowly repelling down from the ceiling. He landed safely and sat down in front of Cheerilee. “I didn’t know it was Bunsen who made the Spiders, Doc. I mean, didn’t he make that weird thing that started attracting lizards?”
“And an alligator. And a dragon scientist we had…” she let out a long sigh, her eyes sliding towards Pipsqueak’s wrists. “Have you run out of that webbing yet?”
Pipsqueak glanced down at his wrists. “Uh, no I don’t think so. I think my body just produces it naturally. Not sure if it can run out. I mean, I spent the whole afternoon swinging around on this stuff.”
Cheerilee sighed again, pulling out a pen and notepad. “How long have you had these… changes?”
“Uh, well, ‘bout a day. I got sick yesterday afternoon, came home, and then passed out. When I woke up, I felt perfectly fine, so I just kinda shrugged it off as the flu or somethin’... and then the weird stuff started ‘appening… like, I got this spider-sense…”
Cheerilee raised an eyebrow, glancing up from her notepad. “‘Spider-Sense’? Care to explain?”
Pipsqueak nodded, putting a hoof to his chin. “Well… it’s kind of hard to explain, I mean... it’s like I can automatically tell where anything is. It’s strongest when the thing is like, say, an oncoming car or a runaway dodgeball or somethin’.” He then shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck. “It’s sorta like psychic powers I guess…”
Cheerilee gave Pipsqueak a look, that he could see was the silent version of a long winded lecture about the dubious nature of what he just said. Instead of speaking however, she let out a sigh, clicking open her pen and jotting down what Pipsqueak said.
“Spider bite grants psychic abilities.” she let out another, more tired and downtrodden sigh, dropping her pen and sliding back in her chair.
“Um, you alright, Doc?” Pipsqueak asked, leaning forward slightly.
Cheerilee simply groaned in response, rubbing her forehead. “I’m just tired, Pip. No worries. I was up really late last night taking care of my niece.”
Pipsqueak raised an eyebrow. “Niece? What niece?”
Cheerilee sighed again. “Ruby. Ruby Pinch. My cousin had to drop her off while on a business trip. She’s a nice filly, but she couldn’t get a wink of sleep last night,” Cheerilee rubbed her eyes. “Something about nightmares or something. She didn’t seem exactly keen on going to school this morning either.”
“Well, I can’t blame her. Being the new filly and all. What school?”
Cheerilee motioned towards Pipsqueak. “Yours I think. Mostly because it’s nice and low key. Nothing crazy ever happens there you know.”
Pipsqueak quietly nodded, making a mental note to try to find this Ruby tomorrow, if only so she wouldn’t be friendless.
“If you don’t mind me saying, Doc, ya look pretty worn down. Have ya ever considered taking a vacation?”
Cheerilee laughed quietly, shaking her head. “I thought about it, but…” she motioned to her laboratory equipment. “I can’t,” she said quietly. “I have too much to do.” She straightened up. “At any rate, I think it’s best that you try and avoid using these newfound abilities. We don’t know the full effects yet, and we don’t want to cause any problems that could otherwise be easily averted.”
Pipsqueak frowned again. “Are you sure, Doc? I thought I should try and see just how much I got changed by-”
Cheerilee was already shaking her head. “No. There’s no telling what could happen. I want you to promise me that you won’t use these things to do something stupid or dangerous.”
Pipsqueak was quiet for a long moment, before letting out a sigh and giving Cheerilee a nod. “Alright… I’ll try.”
Cheerilee gave him a smile. “Thank you, Pip.”
Cheerilee stared at the computer screen, with a drained, vaguely frustrated look in her eyes. She’d been locked in her laboratory for most of the day, running simulation after simulation. So far, she’d made some vague progress, but nothing anywhere near definitive. She needed a break though, something to reignite both her passion for science, and her ability to solve the problems in front of her. She rested her head on her hooves, keeping her tired eyes on the screen.
What am I going to do? I’ve got Rich’s request, and now I have to figure out how in Equestria is Pip able to walk up walls and shoot webbing...
There was just so much. A little more than a week ago, Cheerilee hadn't had anything to do because she was waiting for the board to vote on her project. Now she had to take care of a child who took a medication that Cheerilee had never heard of before that had unknown immunosuppressive effects on the filly, a student who was apparently turning into a pony-spider, AND she also had to create a cure for something that didn’t even probably need a cure in the first place.
Across the room from, her, having been previously whirring quietly in the background, one of the machines started beeping sharply. With a slight grunt, Cheerilee pulled herself to her hooves taking a moment to steady herself on her three good legs before carefully attaching the prothesthic. She walked over to the monitor, her gait slightly off center as her prosthetic shifted a little on the stub of her leg.
Tonight, she thought to herself, I will get a full nights rest, and I don’t care what I have to do to get it. She clicked on the appropriate window and frowned. The machine had been analyzing Ruby’s medicine, mostly out of Cheerilee’s own concern for Ruby’s health.
Her cousin had been maddeningly vague on what exactly the medicine did or what it was for, and some initial tests had shown that it had some rather complex spell work interwoven into it.
Probably made in a brew or cauldron… Cheerilee mused, carefully reading the information on the computer screen. Whatever spell work had been done on the medication had apparently modified it to affect the DNA structure of the patient itself, forcing it to remain in a certain form.
Cheerilee leaned back from the screen with a frown on her face. This could be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands...repressing part of the genetic code...somepony could use it prevent a pegasus from controlling the weather or prevent a unicorn from using their magic--
Her eyes widened, and it felt as if a lightbulb went off above her head.
Wait a second! I can use this to solve Mr. Rich’s problem! I can use this to repress the mutant gene!
She quickly trotted back to her other set of computers, closing the results of Pipsqueak’s tests. She could focus on those later. Right now, it was time to study the medication in earnest.