What does it take to be a true friend when all you have to offer is your failures? Maybe there’s more to friendship than what’s on the table.
Come along and join Tinker Sparx as she has an encounter that will change the course of her life forever. What does it take to be a true friend when all you have to offer is your failures? Maybe there’s more to friendship than what’s on the table. Come and join us on this flyby of a story that has twists and turns only the best in Equestria can follow! I dare you!!
It sure was hot out Tinker thought to herself. She scooted out from under the wagon and wiped her mane out of her eyes. She can’t believe that the wagon still even seemed to hold together after all these years of abuse it had endured out on the family farm. Not that it really mattered. It looks as if time had taken its toll at last.
“Well, shoot.” Tinker struck the side of the wagon with her hoof as she turned to watch the sunset. The resounding crash startled her back to reality.
“Hock-Nippers!! I swur I’ll never get this old thing back together.” She frowned on the broken wheels, the rotting frame, even the metal joint plates had rusted straight through.
“TINKER!! Supp’r time!” A sassy voice echoed past the barn where she was working.
“I’m coming ma…” Tinker gave the old heap a disgusted look and walked off to go get cleaned up. She had been at it all day. Usually she could jury-rig anything up and get it to work better than it used to. But this today things just didn’t seem to be clicking. Was she that worried?
“Well there ya are Sugarloaf, any luck?” He father asked, he needed the wagon in a few days to take some produce to market.
“No, I think’s it’s gone done and fell apart for the last time.” She pouted as she took her place at the table with her brothers. They were all older than her and worked in the fields all day with their father. She looked over to the head of the table. Her father was a striking stallion, back in the day that is. He needed more help than ever now just to keep the farm going.
“Hey sourpuss, pass the gravy.”
“Huh??” Tinker looked up, had she really just missed the blessing? She must really be losing it to have missed that.
“Sage, that’s not the proper way to talk to your sister” Her mother scolded the younger of her brothers. There were two of them, Sage and Trim.
“It’s okay mum, sorry, I was thinking.” She passed the gravy and then continued to roll her food around on her plate.
“Whatcha thinking about honey, I’m sure you did fine on that there test last week.”
“It’s not that… well kinda.” Tinker pushed her plate away, not hungry. “I was hoping my results would come today, I guess I didn’t pass.”
“Ah come on Sugarloaf, you did your best, it’s not your fault if they can’t see your potential.” Her father reassured her.
“I’m not hungry, may I be excused… I want to finish the wagon.”
“Sure, go right on ahead, just make sure you’re back and in bed before midnight.”
Tinker nodded in answer as she walked out the door. She really had wanted to get the scholarship. Her family wasn’t too well off enough to send her to a fancy school. This would likely have been her only chance. Well oh well, as disappointing as that was she needed to get that wagon working. She caught something out of the corner of her eye. Hold on a sec, that might work! She dashed over and knocked some junk off the pallet.
“Well, I say where have you been this whole time.” She scolded the pallet, talking to herself. “I wonder if you have any more friends hiding around here somewhere.
It felt good to get her mind off of the test, do what she loved most, making things. Even though sometimes she didn’t really know what she was doing.
“Well shucks, it’s looking better than I thought.” She levitated the makeshift cart up on its side as she affixed the last wheel. It might not be the prettiest thing on two wheels but Tinker knew it would stand up to many years of good hard work.
“Oh shoot! I’m in trouble.” A quick glance up at the moon sunk all her elated feelings back down to earth. “Oh, daddy’s gonna kill me.”
“No he won’t.”
“What!?!! Trim! What are you doing here?” She turned around startled.
“Well, I came to fetch ya, but you seemed so lost in your work that I decided to wait. That was ‘bout an hour ago.”
“You stood there for a whole hour?” Tinker’s eyes widened in embarrassment, hey cheeks turning a light red.
“Well, I did clean up the mess you made outback.”
“All the spilled paint when you nabbed that there pallet.” Trim scolded her, half laughingly.
Tinker turned to look at the pallet her brother pointed out. Well, maybe she did manage to spill a ‘little’ paint.
“Well, we can repaint it later, I didn’t quite get that far.”
“Don’t worry about, come on sis. It’s time to head to bed, we’re all heading up to town early tomorrow.”
“Okay Trim, I’ll be right in.” Grabbing a few tools and levitating a few more with her horn, organizing them neatly into her grandfather’s old tool chest.
She slept well enough, but maybe not long enough. Evident by her inability to stay awake in the back of the rainbow speckled wagon. They usually made a trip to town once a week, and most times she’d stay home to work on something she had thought up. Most of the time it never turned out quite like she had imagined but every so often, one project would far exceed even her expectations.
“Hey wake up Sugarloaf, we’re here.”
“I’m up,” Tinker let out a yawn. She must have feel asleep, she couldn’t even recall most of the trip.
“Come on Tinker! Hurry it up!!” Sage exclaimed, bucking the air in excitement.
“I’m coming… Wait why are we here??” As she took notice of the store front they had come to a halt in front of. “No WAY!! Da…. No way… it’s too expensive.” It may not be the most elegant restaurant in town but it was certainly her favorite. She had only been a few times, but she could still remember those wonderful deserts that were imported from all over Equestria. Here favorite was the sweet apple pie they would have around harvest time.
“Well are you coming or not?” “I… I don’t…. I’m not sure…”
“Oh I almost forgot,” Her father grinned, pulling out a piece of paper with some writing on it.
“What’s that? What’s it say??” she asked curiously.
“Eh-hem... it says, ‘Dear miss Tinker Sparx, We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to receive the Gear-Head scholarship for your score on your entrance exam of 109/110. We formally congratulate you on your accomplishment and look forward to your enrollment in the mechanical engineering program we have at the University of Manehattan.’”
Tinker’s jaw dropped, could it really be true? She missed ONE QUESTION!!!
“Well, I don’t know about y’all but I’m hungry, come one boys lets go grab a table, your father and sister will be coming shortly.” “Daddy… you… you knew?!?”
“Well of course, it came yesterday, your mother and I are so proud.”
She couldn’t believe it. She had no words, she almost bowled her dad over with her hug. Tears wetting her cheeks.
“I love ya to Sugarloaf, know what do ya say we grab a bite to eat.”
“Sure thing!” Her excitement was almost uncontainable. This was just music to her ears. She couldn’t wait for the big city!
Tinker watched the trees and hills roll by. It had only been several hours since she had said her farewells at the train station, but yet it seemed like ages ago. She wasn’t sure when exactly she’d be back, Tinker hoped that they could all manage the farm back home. Fixing stuff had always been her strong point, and there was still so much more left in need of repair back at home. She let out a sigh. This was a big step for her, she had never been this far from home, especially not alone. Yet here she was, with all her belongings in one saddle bag, the school address and a one way ticket to Manehattan. She felt nervous and excited at the same time. This was a start of a new life, she was going to be somepony, and she would show them. She was going to make her mark on the world; that much she was sure of. If only they could get there faster.
“What I wouldn’t give to be a pegasus right now…” she thought out loud. Receiving several odd stares from the other passengers on the train. She looked down on the floor and wished she could disappear.
Sometimes she just figured it would be easier to zoom from one place to the next and not have to rely so much on everypony else. With the amount of time she spent with her head in the clouds, she still couldn’t figure out her problem of being grounded. Maybe she’d find something in her studies. Whoa! Her studies! She still couldn’t believe she had really made it! Just last week she had gotten the letter granting her wildest dream. Now she needed a new dream. Tinker looked out the window at the passing scenery, getting lost in thought.
“ALL ABOARD!” The conductor’s voice startled her. She hadn’t even noticed the train had come to a stop. She looked out the window for the station sign to see just exactly where they were.
“Hmm… Ponyville… looks like a nice enough place.” She watched the ponies off in the distance going about their daily lives as the train started to move off. “WHOA!! What’s that!!?” watching intently as a large purplish thing came to rest in the center of the town. Tinker watched in surprise as a pony hopped out, a unicorn no less. “So unicorns can fly… I’ll be.”
“Oh course they can fly.” A stranger sitting across from her groaned.
“Yes, it’s called a hot air balloon, you’re not from around here are you.”
“No, everything’s still kinda new to me.”
“Well kid, the world’s full of surprises just let your mouth dry out gaping at them all.”
“Oh I won’t… um…. I don’t think I got your name, I’m Tinker.”
They carried on a conversation for a good long while, until the kind gentlepony reached his stop that is. She still had a little ways further to go and the train car was starting to fill up fast. There were all sorts of ponies onboard. Everything from farm ponies like herself to important looking ponies wearing fancy looking clothing.
“Manehattan station!” The conductor hollered over the idle chatter that filled the car.
“Finally!” Tinker jumped up, checking to make sure her saddle bag was tight. She filled out of the train car with many of the passengers. The station was rather smoke filled but she could see the tips of the skyscrapers poking out above it all.
“Hey! Watch were you’re going!”
“Oh sorry, I didn’t…”
“How rude.” Tinker dashed off away from the station platform. She was amazed at how big the buildings were, many as tall as the fields back home were long. “I can’t believe I’m finally here.” Tinker circled on the spot, taking in the 360 degree view all around her. The bustling street corners, the bright yellow taxi wagons, the flashing lights on almost every building.
Tinker trotted down the block, admiring all the new sites. She had read so much about the city in books but none of them seemed to do any real justice to the scene before her eyes. She wandered around for a few hours before she started feeling a tad hungry. She browsed the numerous street side stands. Everything from sandwiches to delicate sweets could be had for the right amount. Opening her saddle bag she counted how many bits she had with her.
“Well darn, I barely have enough for my books, maybe I can spare one bit.” She focused her horn on the one small coin, bringing it out and setting down on the table of the stand of her choosing. She couldn’t remember when a sandwich had tasted this good. Or maybe it was just being someplace else, after all it wasn’t quite as filling as the ones back home.
“Excuse me sir…” She had seen quite a bit but still needed to find the university. “Ma’am….” It was if everypony was ignoring her. Oh well, maybe she would just wander about for a good while longer.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” as she rounded yet another corner. “Just how big is this city?”
“Only as big as you make it.” A firm voice answered from behind her.
“Wha…” She turned around, “Oh, hello officer.”
“Are you looking for someplace or just site seeing.”
“Well actually I’m trying to find the university, I have an address but I can’t seem to figure out where I am.” She held out the piece of paper that had the address on it out to the officer. “Two blocks down, take a left and go another five blocks, the university will be on your right.”
“Oh thank you so much,” a big grin spreading across her face.
“No problem miss, you take care now you hear.”
“I will and thanks again!” She trotted off in the direction the officer had pointed. One, two blocks, take a left. Or was it a right. “Well shucks, I should’ve wrote them down.” She stood on the corner, looking for any indication of which way she was supposed to go. “Ah-ha! University this way.” Finding a sign with an arrow on it. It was a dark sign, not even lit. “Hmm…. Five blocks was it? Must’ve been, now which side was it.”
“Excuse me, can you tell me how far to the university?” she stopped to ask an older pony. “Four blocks yet and on your right.”
“Thanks!” she hurried off. “I can’t believe how long these blocks are,” Tinker grumbled, finally coming to a halt in front of the university gates. “Well shoot, they don’t open till seven. I guess I’ll just have to wait.” She huddled down next to one of the gates pillars. The gate was secured with a simple lock, much like the ones back at home. She could have easily picked it with her limited use of magic, but what kind of message would that say about her? “I suppose I’ll just have to wait it out.” Tinker set down her saddle bag. It was an old bag, worn from years of use but it was hers. Her ma had made it for her when she had gotten her cutie mark. She could still make out the twin gears, though they were severely faded. At first it didn’t make much sense, living on a farm and all. Her brother’s marks had to do with farming and tending the land but hers. It took her while before it really clicked. And now here she was, at the gates of the place she could best learn to use her talent. She just hoped it would be easy.
“Miss?” A gentle voice echoed in her head.
“Huh? What…?” She must have dozed off. She could see that it was morning.
“Are you okay?” the concerned voice asked form behind the gate.
“Me, no I’m fine, I was just waiting for the gates to open.”
“Well then, you’d best be going.” The other pony removed the lock with a key and swung open the gates.
“YAY!!” She bolted past him, stopped, turned around and trotted back. Picking up her saddle back she then made her way to the admissions building. Hours of waiting, and after reading all the flyers at least twice she was finally enrolled. She just had to get books. She walked out and froze. There were so many ponies everywhere!
“Holy hock-nippers!! It sure got busy fast…” Tinker quickly trotted down the steps, making her way thought the crowd. “Oh excuse me… pardon me… sorry… my fault…” She was getting nowhere fast. In fact the bookstore seemed even farther away than when she started. “Ugh, how does everypony else do it?” she groaned in frustration.
“You’ve just got to be less polite.” An earth toned pegasus trotted up next to her. “Hi my names, Fluoresce. I overheard you’re in the engineering program.”
“I’m Tinker, it’s nice to meet you…” Taken aback by the brilliant blue mane and tail with red highlights of the pegasus.
“I’m in the engineering program myself, maybe we can be lab partners?”
“Maybe… If I can ever get my books.”
“No problem, here just come with me.” The pegasus took to the air, “Oh silly me, I forgot, you can’t fly.” Landing deftly back down on the sidewalk. “Well then come on, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!”
“Fluoresce, wait up…”
“Please just call me Flo, most everypony calls me that anyway.”
“Ok, Flo it is then.” They brushed though the crowd, maybe she had been too polite, none of the other students seemed to take offence at all the bumping and jostling as everypony headed off to classes.
“Tada!! The bookstore!” Flo did an aerial backflip.
“Thanks for the help. “
“No problem, I’ll see you around, I need to dash or I’ll be late for class again.”
“Bye, see you later.” Tinker waved to her new friend. Things sure were different in the city. She had a lot more to learn than she had at first thought.
“Come on Flo, tell me! I want to know what it was like, PLEASE?!?”
“NO, you wouldn’t even believe me if I told you.” Flo smirked. They had been assigned to be lab partners for the semester and it was great. They studied hard and worked really well together. Except when Flo would get really excited. She had a slight tendency to accidently break things as she wasn’t the best flyer by any means.
“Oh come on I’d like to know.”
“Ugh…. I think I’m gonna be sick.” Alighting on the ground and taking a few stumbling steps.
“Well no duh miss show-off. If you’d just fly straight for once.” Tinker scolded. It wasn’t the first time she had to deal with Flo’s flight-sickness. Honestly, a flight-sick pegasus? You had to be kidding to even imagine such a thing.
“Sorry, I think I’ll be alright.” Flo put a hoof to her spinning head.
“So how was it? The competition?”
“It was just… wow… I was all, eh seen that before, nothing special there… and then BOOM!! I’ve never seen anything like it!” “Anything like what? What did they do?”
“A sonic rainBOOM!!” Flo screamed with excitement, bolting into the sky with a sudden flap of her wings.
“You’re pulling my tail. Those are only old mare tales. Nopony can pull one of those off.” Tinker watched her friend zigzag back and forth, slowly turning green before she alighted a few paces off.
“I couldn’t believe it either… but that’s not the best part!!”
“Oh really?” Sparx grumbled in disbelief.
“She’s coming to Manehattan!!” She let out with a squeal of excitement.
“Who is… whose coming to Manhattan?”
“The pony that did the sonic rainboom!”
“And let me guess… you don’t know her name...”
“Well…. Not exactly… but I’m sure It’ll come back to me. Just like those test scores did last week. I passed those just fine didn’t I?”
“That’s only because I helped you cram in some last minute studying.”
Flo shrugged in reply, how she passed didn’t matter as much as actually passing. So what if she’d been busy. She had to take time off work to go and studying was hard enough to cram in as it was. “Anyway… she’s coming in later today, with the Wonderbolts!”
“Nice, that should be pretty cool.”
“It will be AWESOME!! I can’t wait!”
Tinker grabbed her pals scarf, pulling her back down to earth. “Well first we have class, then we can go to the station over lunch.”
“Ugh… fine but I won’t be paying much attention to the lecture.”
“Since when do you ever…” Tinker chuckled, dragging her floating friend along behind her.
Class was as boring as ever for Flo, all she could think of was getting to see the best flyers in all of Equestria. She hoped that by watching them she might pick up a few pointers, such as flying in a straight line. Tinker completely lost herself to the lecture. Copying down all the diagrams on the board to her notepad to make sure she could study them later. Not to mention cross reference them with some of the library books. The library was huge, though it was nothing compared to the royal Canterlot library. She appreciated all the texts in the engineering section, though she’d get slightly frustrated when they would reference books in the magic section. That part of the library was off-limits to any but the professors and magic students. She could understand why they’d keep it locked up, but honestly come on. If a book was referenced as a source why couldn’t she get to the source? Time slowly ticked by. To Flo it seemed like forever until it was lunch time and they were done with classes till later that evening.
“Come on Tinker let’s go!” Flo hollered from the doorway.
“Okay, just a sec… let me get my notes all put away.”
“Oh hurry it up will you.” The pegasus whined.
“Fine, I’ll sort them all later,” dumping all her papers into her saddle bag.
“Race you!!” Flo shot off into the sky, narrowly missing a lamppost.
“Uh-hu…” Tinker started off at a slow trot, keeping an eye on her friend, waiting for the inevitable to occur. To her surprise she managed to make it all the way to the station without having to land once. Though she did ram into more than one street side stand and did manage to clip one building.
“This is so AWESOME!” Flo was barely audible above the large crowd that had gathered. The Wonderbolts were here to perform and the lucky winner of the Best Young Flyers competition got to hang out with them. She was ecstatic. “OhMyGOSH! They’re here!! I can’t believe it.” She yelled as the train pulled in and came to a stop.
Three ponies in uniform stepped out of one of the cars, surrounded by news-ponies and camera flashes, a fourth pony accompanied them. A light blue mare with a tail and mane as colorful as a rainbow.
“Now ain’t that a sight.”
“That’s Rainbow Dash! She won the competition.”
“So know you remember.”
“I said it would come back to me.” As she tried to make her way through the crowd.
“You could just fly you know.” Tinker rolled her eyes as her friend stopped and jumped into the air, hovering in place to get a better view, a little wobbly.
“Careful now… Don’t… oh boy.” Tinker tried to make her way as best she could through the crowd after her friend. She called out for her to slow down but her hollering was lost in the crowd. She spent the better part of the afternoon this way. Playing catch-up with everypony as the crowd followed the stars around to some of the nicer places in the city. At times there would be so many ponies that they would block the entire street, everypony just hoping for a glimpse of Equestria’s best.
“This is pointless,” Tinker sat down on a bench leaving the crowd to continue on without her. The only reason she was here was for her friend. She didn’t care so much about famous ponies, so what, they were big shots. If this is what life was like for celebrities then count her out. She was getting ready to get going again when she noticed something. A loud crash next to her drew her attention elsewhere.
“Aren’t you coming?” Flo asked, getting up and rubbing her head.
“Yeah… in a sec…” She trotted over to a bush that decorated the entrance to one of the nicer hotels. “Hmm, what’s that doing in there?”
“What is it?” Flo brushed up beside her. “A book?? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“It doesn’t look like any book I’ve seen in the library.” Floating it out of the bush and setting it on the ground. “I don’t see a title.” “Maybe it’s inside.”
“Maybe…” Tinker flipped open the cover. “No way!!”
“What!?? What’s it called?”
Tinker slammed the cover closed before her friend could read it. “It’s someponies private diary.”
“I swear they were in here.” Tinker rifled through her saddle bag for her notes.
“Come on, I need to study those.”
“Ah, there they are.” Tinker dumped the contents of the saddle bag out on the floor.
“Hey aren’t you going to return that?” Flo motioned to the diary that lay among the various crumbled pieces of note paper.
“As soon as I get these notes sorted and put back in order we can go take it back.”
“You can do that, I’ve got a better idea, since you won’t let me read it.”
“Oh really? And what would that be?”
“I’ll let you know later tonight, I’ll need your help.”
“Okay, so see you later then?”
“Later Tinker,” Flo waved as she trotted off.
“Okay notes, time to get organized,” Tinker levitated the numerous pieces of paper and looked them over. “Nope, okay physics goes here, math, ugh language studies. I hate that class.” Tinker placed the papers in several organized piles and clipped them together, placing them neatly back in her saddle bag. “Now to go return a diary.”
“Okay, where did everypony go?” Tinker cantered along the sidewalk looking for any sign of a crowd. To her dismay the city seemed to have returned to the usual busyness. Somepony had to have seen them recently. After all she was only in class a little over an hour, she doubted they would only be in the city for that…. “There they are!” She caught a glimpse of one of the Wonderbolt uniforms. She dashed as fast as she could to catch up to the now much smaller group that followed the three ponies and there tag along around. Now just how would she be able to get the diary back without making a scene?
“What did you think Rainbow Dash? Did you enjoy yourself today?” Spitfire turned to the techni-colored pony.
“It was AWESOME!” Dash fired back, her eyes as big as saucers.
“Well that’s good but… ah could we grab a bite to eat now? I’m famished.” Soarin moaned, dragging his hooves.
“Sounds good to me. You up for a quick bite Dash?” Spitfire asked there tagalong. I quick nod of affirmation and they were all of for dinner.
“Ah shucks, this might take longer than I though.” Tinker settled down out on the sidewalk with the rest of the fans, and media ponies.
“So why are you here miss?” One of the reporters trotted over and shoved a microphone in her face.
“Huh?? HAY!!” Tinker Shot up to all fours.
“Which of the Wonderbolts is your favorite?” the news-pony insisted.
“Um…. None of them??”
“A diehard fan of all of them then?”
“No, I’m not really a big fan…”
“But you must be, to be waiting outside all this time.”
“I don’t want to talk about it. Just leave me alone…”
“Sounds like somepony’s got a juicy story just waiting to come to light.” The reporter said excitedly.
Man this reporter was starting to get really annoying. “I don’t care! Just back off already!”
“Ah, touchy… I doubt this would make good footage anyway” Turning to the camera and smirking.
“That’s it. You asked for it!!” Tinker glared, her horn starting to glow.
“Oh what’s that? You gonna use your shiny little horn? Well I can’t wait to see this.” The camera turned to catch all the action.
“Enjoy the show…” Tinker growled through her gritted teeth. Little sparks fizzling around her horn, intensifying as they accumulated at the tip. She lowered her head, aiming directly toward the camera and let forth a blast of electric blue light. She ripped the camera away from the videographer, floating it in mid-air as she deftly removed the tape. The camera fell to the ground as she focused solely on the tape.
“HAY! What are you doing!?!” The reporter gasped.
“Erasing… the… tape!” She narrowed the beam as the tape started to smoke letting it fall to the ground with the camera.
“My….my… report.” The reporter dropped down and swiped up the tape, blowing the smoke out, examining the melted ribbon inside. The crowd suddenly became alive as the restaurant door flew open and a mix of color blasted out.
“Ohmygoshohmygosh…. Where could it be??” Dash bolted down the street.
“Cloud feathers… HAY WAIT UP!!” Tinker took off at a gallop after the zooming pegasus.
“What about my tape!!” The reporter lifted a hoof in protest.
Tinker turned the corner, racing after the speedy pegaus. “You’ve got to be kidding me… ugh… I’ll never catch up to her at this rate.”
Flo was flying carefully with a stack of books, trying her best to stay straight and level. “Steady… steady…. Almost there….” CRASH!!!!
“Oh I’m so sorry.” The other pegasus stopped to help pick up the books scattered along the ground.
Flo’s jaw dropped as Tinker hurried up to the group, breathing heavily.
“Here let me help.” Dash started pick up several of the books. “Hmm… beginner’s magic, magical mysteries, flight spells? Be careful with that one, butterfly wings melt….”
“I can’t… can’t believe it… it’s… it’s…”
“Rainbow Dash… I’m glad I caught up, Oh hay Flo.”
“Yeah I think this is yours?” Tinker dug in her saddle bag and pulled out the diary.
Dash zipped by snatching it up in her hooves. “My diary!! You found it! I can’t believe I lost it. Did you read it!?!!” Dash glared eye to eye with the other mare.
“Nope, Only the first page because there was no name on the cover.”
“Phew, you had me worried for a second there.” She placed the diary in her saddle bag and secured the flap closed. “Okay, I got to fly… enjoy those books.” She dashed off back towards the restaurant, leaving a pile of sloppily stacked books in her wake.
“Boy was that close…”
“I bumped into Rainbow Dash!” Flo squealed, elated.
“Beginners magic? Magical mysteries… How’d you get these??”
“I borrowed them.” She stated matter-of-factly, looking away.
“From where…” she flipped open the cover, “No FRIKKIN WAY!!! These are from the University Library! You stole these??!”
“Of course not silly, I got one of the students to check them out for me, you think I’m that stupid?”
“Don’t answer that.” She shot a stern look at her friend.
Tinker let a grin slide across her face. “But you can’t use these. You’re a pegasus.”
“But I know a unicorn who will help me.”
“Are you kidding? I’ve wanted to get my hooves on these books for, like, forever!”
“I know.” Flo rolled her eyes. “You talk about them all the time it seems.”
“Come on, let’s get back to the apartment. I can’t wait to get started reading.”
“Just so long as you read the flight spells first. You wouldn’t believe how many times I dropped these on the way here.”
“I don’t even want to know…” Tinker looked at the mud and dirt, the scuffed bindings. They looked like second-hoof books by now.
“You really need to get a saddle bag.”
“No way, not cool.”
“Rainbow Dash has one…”
“Yup, she was wearing it when I gave her diary back.”
“Anyway let’s go.” Tinker levitated the stack of books and the pair started walking off. It was going to be a long night, and they had work in the morning.
“Um… I don’t think that one worked either.” Flo said hesitantly, looking back at her mangled wing feathers.
“I don’t know what could have happened. I followed the instructions perfectly.”
“I wouldn’t say perfectly, but yeah I agree with you I have no idea what that one did.”
“We’ll just have to try another one.”
“I think I’ll skip to the end of this book and start there, maybe there are some author notes,” the unicorn rambled on.
“Hmm, what is it?” Still fully absorbed in the book.
“GET ME DOWN!!!”
Tinker whirled around, her roommate was no longer standing where she had been just seconds before.
“I’m up here!” Flo panicked.
“Now what are you doing up there?” She looked up, seeing the pegasus plastered to the ceiling.
“I think I know what that one did”
“I’m on it… let’s see, there has to be a reversal spell somewhere in… ah-ha! Found it.” The resounding crash assured her that it had worked.
“I think I’ve had enough magic for one night.”
“Suit yourself, this was your idea after all.”
“Yeah but I didn’t think I’d have to be the test pony.” Flo whined, straightening out her scarlet scarf.
“Well I don’t have wings, so it’s not like I can try them on myself.”
“Good thing too, otherwise you’d be stuck on the ceiling and I’d have to try and read those crazy books.”
“They’re not crazy, just… hard to understand.”
“Yeah whatever cone head.”
“Just go to bed.”
“Will do, g’night.”
“Night,” tinker listened to the hoofsteps as Flo dragged herself to bed. Tinker finally had time to look over some of the other books. She grabbed the most interesting looking one and flipped to the table of contents. She alighted her hoof under one title specifically. “’Animation- bringing objects to life’ that sounds like a good place to start…”
“Hey Tinker wake up, it’s time to go to work.”
Tinker let out a large yawn, smacker her lips together as she looked wearily around the room. She had been up most of the night ready the animation section, a chapter on basic magic theory, even a section on history she had gotten so bored. “Any luck?”
“Luck? With what?”
“The magic. Did you find any good ones.”
“Oh, no I didn’t try any of them yet. I was too tired so I just read a while then I must have dozed off.”
“Okay well if you don’t hurry we’ll be late for work, again.”
The unicorn bolted to her hooves. “LATE!?!!?!” She dashed around the apartment. “Where’s my….”
“By the door, were you left it.”
“Oh, right. Thanks.” She flung it over her back tossing in last night’s read and dashed out the door.
“Always in a hurry,” Flo headed towards the door when Tinker shot back in.
“Almost forgot my lunch.” Bolting to the small apartment kitchen and grabbing a sack lunch out of the fridge. She didn’t even care what was in it. She couldn’t afford to be late.
Flo shut the door behind the two of them and they proceeded down the street. They only worked several blocks away from the apartment, even closer than school was actually. But you never knew how the crowds would be.
“Sorry I’m late!” Tinker said as she charged into the small shop on one of the street corners.
The clerk looked up at the clock, its hand showing fifteen past the hour. “Oh that old thing? It hasn’t worked for at least seven years. Don’t worry about it.”
“Hi Mike!” Flo strolled in.
“And miss Fluoresce, better hurry up and get going. Several new projects need attending to.”
“… it’s Flo,” She mumbled as she headed to the backroom.
“So what you got there?” Tinker came up next to her friend.
“I honestly don’t have any idea. What did this thing do anyway?”
“Beats me, I’m just the janitor.” She teased, continuing to sweep the already spotless floor.
“Har har, very funny. You know more about this stuff than I do. You tell me what it does.”
“Well now that you asked,” She set the broom down against the worktable. “Hmm… counter-rotating, worm gearing, variable speed motor…” Tinker rambled on.
“Well what is it? I don’t need to know everything, just what it’s supposed to do.”
“I think it’s an old hoof polisher, but it’s missing the polishing pad.”
“It looks as if it’s going to need a new thirteen tooth spur gear and a new motor housing.”
“Um… that’s not good.”
“Huh, why’s that?”
“I just used the last thirteen tooth last week, the new shipment hasn’t arrived yet.”
“Well shoot, let me think about it and I’ll get back to you at lunch.”
“Okay, will do.”
Tinker worked hastily at the rest of her duties for that morning. She didn’t really enjoy the work but she was thankful that Flo was able to get her the job. At least she got to work around a lot of really neat, though often times broken, stuff. That’s pretty much what they did here at Manely Mechanical. If it’s broken we can fix; or rather only if we have the parts and a repair manual. At least it allowed her to cover her half of the rent and have a few bits to spare. Flo was very gifted at fixing things when she had the parts, but often times she couldn’t think outside the box. Tinker sat down in the alley behind the shop to take her lunch. She pulled out the book she had brought and flipped through it for any ideas. She put her hoof down on one page in particular. “hmm…. That might… no, it’s too risky.”
“What is?” Flo peeked out form the back door. Stepping out with her lunch. “What are you reading?”
“Oh just one of those books you got. I had an idea.”
“That’s dangerous.” Flo teased, joshing Tinker with her hoof.
“Well… there’s this chapter on animation magic. There was an advanced spell…”
“There is now? Tell me about it?’ The pegasus took a bite of her sandwich.
“It says that once cast on an object that object will power itself, indefinitely, without magic.”
Half chewed sandwich pieces and grass flew across the alleyway. “What?!?! Without magic? That’s absurd.”
“But then you wouldn’t need that gear at all; at least I think.”
“What do you mean you think?”
“I can’t make out the last few lines of the text, I think there either smudged or writing in some strange language I don’t understand.” She showed the questionable text to Flo.
“Well that’s easy.”
“It is? What does it say?”
“It says, this spell is far to advanced and is of no use trying.” She stated matter-of-factly.
“No… it doesn’t.” Frowning at her friend’s lack of ability at detecting sarcasm.
“Ugh, it’s no use.” Slamming the book closed.
“Well it was a good plan either way.”
“But it still doesn’t solve your problem.” Chucking her empty lunch sack into the dumpster. Knocking a tin can out and sending it rolling along the ground. Tinker looked intently at the shiny metal cylinder.
“Now what are you thinking? I know that look.”
“I got it!!”
Tinker snatched up the can and a few more like it and ran inside. Leaving Flo to finish her lunch alone. She snatched a pair of welder’s goggles and the tin snips from one of the work benches and went to work on the flimsy cans. Cutting them into little gears and stacking the thin flakes on top of each other.
“Shoot, I need a clamp.” She turned, face to face with Flo, holding out a set of clamps. “I thought you were having lunch?"
“I did, and I came to see what you were up to.”
“Well you might want to shield your precious peepers.” She clamped the flimsy metal gears together and pulled the goggles over her one eyes. A spark formed at the tip of her horn as she reached down and touched the edge of the gears. A flash of white, several more flashes and a hoof full of burns later she was done. It didn’t look too pretty but it should work and would be far better than any mass manufactured replacement part. She took it up in her hoof once it stopped glowing red and handed it to Flo. “Here you go, that should help you get that thing all fixed up.”
Tinker had always dreamed of flying. Watching the birds soar through the sky, seeing the pegasus ponies at work, it was so beautiful. The way things could just take to the air. At least it seemed that way when you weren’t stuck with a rope around your waist and tying you down to the door handle.
“You know, you really need should read about things more before trying them.” Flo scolded from the kitchen. It was getting late once more and she was famished. A whole week of school, three days of work, she was grateful that tomorrow was the weekend. At least she should be able to get some rest. That is if that darn unicorn could get all that crazy spell reading under control. A loud crash and the sound of broken glass echoed form the main room.
“Oops, sorry.” Tinker rubbed her head, bouncing along like a balloon along the ceiling.
“Sure you are, just get down from there.” She tugged at the rope, reeling the wayward unicorn in.
“Well maybe if you want to be test subject instead of me I could get this done faster.”
“No thanks.” Flo let go of the rope, snatching it again a second later and jerking her friend back down. “You find the one that will get rid of my airsickness and then maybe, and only maybe will I reconsider.”
“Ah horse feathers, fine. Just get me that book will ya?” Tinker floated back up to the ceiling, planting her hooves on pushing off towards the ground. Kinda like a reverse jump if you will. Flo held up the book and she grabbed it before she ascended once more to the ceiling. “okay, here goes nothing…”
“Nevermind.” Flo walked back to the kitchen to finish making dinner, it was cheaper than going out but it still never tasted as good. At least she remembered to wash all the grease off her hooves this time.
Tinker took a seat at the table, holding a hoof to her head, as Flo set a plate in front of her. “Looks good… um… which plate is it?”
“The one in the middle, you really need to leave flying to us pegasus's”
“Yeah, no kidding.” Reaching to the left and missing the plate entirely.
“Maybe you should just go to bed.”
“I think I will.” She stumbled off.
Every night for the past week she had been this way. Flo started putting the dishes away, scraping the food in the trash. It still didn’t taste just right this time either. Once she was done cleaning up she headed out to the main room and picked up the book on flight spells. She might not be able to do any of them, but maybe it would be better if she tried to at least find the one they needed just so she could take the books back and be done with it. “Oh you’ve got to be kidding me,” She opened to a bookmarked page. “Cure for flight-sickness.” She read aloud. “You crazy, why didn’t you say so.” She flipped to other bookmarks. “A spell for flight, anit-gravity, increased speed and agility… this thing has everything! Why didn’t I look at this sooner?!” She didn’t even notice the day getting darker as the seconds turned to minutes, the minutes into hours. There was so much you could learn if you just read it. It sure beats reading all those boring lecture notes she thought to herself. Flo got up and grabbed a pencil and paper and scribbled down a few of the spells before she closed the book, set it with the others and headed off to bed.
Morning seemed to come all too soon. Tinker woke with a dull headache, dragging herself out of bed and in to the kitchen for some breakfast. Hmm, that was odd. Flo was usually up by now, she looked at the clock to double check. It read a quarter till eleven, she sure had slept in late. She fixed herself a quick breakfast and then headed to check on Flo. She knocked softly on her door, then carefully opened it when she got no answer. “Flo? You awake?” She flipped the light switch, seeing the bed neatly made a pad of paper with some notes scratched onto it lying by the pillow. “Well what do we have here…” She picked up the note and squinted, trying to read the poor excuse for hoof-scratch. “’Be back later… gone library… take books back.’ No she didn’t!” She dashed to the living room and looked over where she had left the books the night before. They were gone! She was just about to panic when the door crashed open and in tumbled the klutzy pegasus, a big smile on her face.
“OH, you’re finally up!” Flo smiled, getting up and shaking a few leaves out of her mane and tail.
“You took then back didn’t you…” She glared.
“Yes… but before you get all mad, I wrote down all the ones you had bookmarked, even that one animation one.”
“But I wasn’t done with them yet.”
“Please, if you read any more out of them I’d be looking for a new roommate.”
“I’m not that bad.” Tinker looked down, scuffing her hoof on the ground.
“No, there that dangerous. Seriously they have the potential to get you badly hurt.”
“Fine, I guess you did the right thing…”
“Oh and I got the unicorn who borrowed the books for me to do that anti-airsickness one. I feel great!”
“But you still can’t fly in a straight line.”
“Details, details, at least this way I can get in some much needed practice. Which is what I’m just going to do. What are you going to do today? With what’s left anyway.”
“Oh I don’t know I have an idea, but it’s a surprise.”
“Come on, tell me please!?” Flo begged, trying to look cute despite her rat’s nest of a mane.
“Nope, just keep your eye on the sky while you’re out an about today. Now get going.” She pushed her friend out the door. Closing it with her horn. As she turned away, she stopped at several knocks. “The answer is no.”
“Ah come on Tink.” The whining tone still apparent, though muffled by the door.
“Nope, go learn to fly straight.” She trotted away and headed to her room, pulling out an old notepad. She jotted down a few numbers alongside of a few old drawings and grabbed her saddle bag. In went the notepad, a good sum of the bits she had saved and the old set of welders goggles Mechanic Mike had given her along with her promotion. She had a long list of things to get and only an afternoon left to finish putting them all together.
Flo spent the rest of the afternoon in Central Park, trying her best to fly straight. Several broken branches, a few crash landings, and a hoof-full of hurt pride latter and she could just about make a straight path. She picked up some altitude, looking down at the ponies below as small as ants. She took a nervous gulp, closed her eyes and went straight towards the lone cloud down below. It was one cloud, nothing too technical. She just needed to build up enough speed and ram through it. THUMP! “Ow,” that hurt, she stood up on the cloud, rubbing her nose. She looked down at the strangely patchwork texture of the so called cloud. “I didn’t know they were this hard?”
“Hello? Anypony up there?”
“Hey that’s Tinker?!” She flew off to the side of the cloud and descended a ways. No way!! It wasn’t a cloud at all! She alighted on the deck of the small airship, barely noticing the sooty black smoke that was dirtying her mane. “By Canterlot, This is AMAZING! Where’d you find this thing hiding?”
“I didn’t, I built it,” Tinker said proudly from the helm, turning hard to the side, using her horn to pull back on a lever at the same time. The airship slowly began to rise even higher, eventually floating amongst the real clouds.
“You built this!?!” Flo’s jaw dropped.
“Well sort of… you see I had these old sketches for this thing but I didn’t know how to power it. Then I saw one of those steam engines in class, but they were too heavy. So I built my own, out of a lighter metal. And what do you know, she FLIES!!” She grinned from ear to ear.
“Well I’ll be a molting pegasus I thought only the rich could afford things like this.”
“Not anymore, though I do think there’s a few things I need to tweak.”
“But your flying! Without magic!!” Flo stuck out her tongue to taste a cloud as it drifted by.
“Who says unicorns can’t fly!” Tinker smirked, sending the airship straight through a wispy cloud as the sun started to set. This day had turned from downright disgusting to utterly amazing. At this point she knew the sky was no longer a limit!
Tinker finished tying off the ropes to secure the airship in place behind the science building. The professor asked her to bring it in so the other students could see what could be done with the knowledge learned in class. It was hard enough to get it onto the school grounds. With all the campus police giving her a hard time even with the note her professor had given her. That and the normal authorities didn’t take too kindly to an airship flying so low in the city. She had to agree with them. Navigating the streets was hard enough on hoof, try doing it in a thirty foot flying boat.
“Hurry up Tink we’re going to be late!” Flo zipped around from the stern with the final rope to be secured. She was quickly getting the hang of this flying business. As soon as she was no longer getting sick from flying it just started to come naturally. She just hoped it wouldn’t wear off anytime soon.
“What do you think I’m doing!?!” Tinker growled through her teeth, pulling her rope tight.
“I’m just saying.” Flo looped her rope over the railing, wrapping it a few more times to be sure.
“Okay, all done. Let’s hurry up and get to class.”
“Race you!” Flo blasted by her on her flyby.
“Oh it’s on!!” Tinker galloped the opposite direction, towards the classroom.
Tinker slammed up against the door to the classroom, sending it flying open. A blur of red and blue blasted by her though the door, coming to a skidding halt.
“Sshh!” Almost every student turned around to see what all the commotion was. The teacher waited for the two ponies to take their seats and then continued on with yet another boring lecture on something that nopony really cared about. When the lecture was finally over everyone filled out and headed off to their next classes. Tinker and Flo meet up with a few of the other engineering students. They didn’t have lab toady so they were going to do a little studying and then put in some time at the campus workshop. Most all the science majors could be found at the workshop from time to time. There would be all sorts of extra lessons that ponies could attend. Or if you wanted you could pick up one of the project sheets and do what they said. Those were Tinker’s favorite. Often times she would find herself spending hours on fixing up something that would be sold or raffled off to raise money for numerous school programs. She could care less about the programs, she just enjoyed having access to all the latest and greatest tools a pony could get her hoof on. She put in a good hour studying with her fellow students before parting ways for the rest of the afternoon.
“Hey Tink, I’ll catch you later.”
“I will, Oh can you tell Soap Thistle I won’t be able to make it? I think I’m going to put in a little extra time in the workshop tonight.”
“Sure I’ll let her know. It’s not like she ever expects you to come, you’re so caught up making new things all the time. She just invites you so you don’t feel left out.”
“I know, and I promise I’ll make one of those parties one day.” She smiled and waved as Flo took to the air, carefully balancing her books in her hooves. “We really need to get her some saddle bags,” she said to herself before turning around and trotting off. “I wonder what I’ll come up with today.”
“Oh don’t get your tail in a knot.” She argued back to one of the student safety officers overseeing the workshop that day. Tinker flipped her goggles down and touched her horn to the already glowing metal. Several of the other ponies had gathered around to watch her at work. Hoping to be the first to guess just what she was making. The long metal strips, the intricate cog work, springs and pulleys. It was a beyond any pony what the unicorn could possibly be working on. She also didn’t have any instructions, going off of whatever strange device she had imagined in her head.
“What’s she making?” “What do you think that does?” “Why do you think she used that piece?” The other ponies whispered to each other as they watched. Intently observing how she took care to adjust every little detail just so as the device started to come together.
“Hay, anypony got some leather straps I could use?” She asked the small crowd that had gathered around. One of the ponies ran over to one of the other work tables and grabbed a hoof full of various pieces of leather. “You know you won’t be getting these back.” The other student nodded in agreement and hoofed them over. Tinker punched a few holes along the end of one decent sized strip, then fastened it to a metal frame.
“Um excuse me?” Tinker pushed back a pony that had gotten a little too close and was infringing on her personal workspace.
“Oh sorry…” The other student stepped back to join the others as they watched. Eventually the crowd waned and those that still remained went back to their own projects. Whatever the crazy inventor pony was making, she sure was taking her time. Tinker aligned several of the long metal strips next to each other and fastened them each to a separate cog on one end, then placed them together in a gear box with some wires running out if it. “Well here’s hoping this works.” She put on hoof on the gear box to hold it in place. She then took up one of the wires in her mouth and gave a sharp pull. The gears worked flawlessly as the strips of metal glided over each other and spread into a fan pattern. She pulled the other wire and they snapped closed just as easily as they had opened. She quickly assembled a second device much like the first only a mirror image of its counterpart. Tinker set the fan-like devices to the side and started working on another set of cogs and a gear box, putting the parts together as best she could in the tight space.
It was starting to get late as she finished up for the evening. She packed a few of the gear boxes into her saddle bag and then strapped the fan-like devices to the side. She picked her books off the table, levitating them as she made her way to the door. “Hey Tinker! You almost forgot this!” One of the other workshop ponies shouted after her. She turned around, seeing the book she had forgotten about. She made her way over, not noticing the wire that dragged from her saddle bag as it trailed along the floor. “Thanks for reminding me.” Tinker turned to leave, eager to get home.
“No problem.” She picked her hoof up to wave bye and then set it down, not seeing the cable that was now trapped under her hoof. The resulting accident was beyond anyponies imagination. A bright flash of light was reflected off the spinning metal blades as they flew open, sending the saddle bag crashing to the ground and spilling its contents all over the floor. Cogs and springs scattered everywhere, several ponies tripping and sliding on some of the parts as pieces of equipment fell crashing to the floor. Vials holding chemical mixtures and numerous solutions shattered as they were knocked off tables to the floor. Tinker slipped on a wet tool on the ground and stumbled back into one of the many workshop tables, knocking over someponies solution, some of it splashing on her horn and face. She cringed as more ponies crashed to the ground. She felt herself get knocked over, ending up face to face with the other still recoiled device she had worked so hard on. Things felt as if they were happening in slow motion as she caught a pony slip off to the side of her vision. She watched as the pony fell and slid across the floor, snagging one of the cables to her creation. She heard the click as loud as a pin drop in a silent room. She closed her eyes in fear as she felt the blade-like strips of metal slice through her mane. After what seemed like hours she opened her eyes, the blades inches form her face. She pushed the device away, leaving it unwound and stood up. She felt a little light headed, it must be all the adrenaline. Now she just had to pick up this explosion of a mess that she had caused. She might as well start by picking up her books and setting them off to the side. But the books wouldn’t budge. She concentrated as hard as her headache would allow, but still nothing. “That’s odd?” She put a hoof to her head to ease the pain. As she did so she looked down, a cone shaped object lying on the floor covered in a blue goo. “Oh no…” She kicked the cone over, revealing the white spiraling pattern that she had seen so many times in the mirror. “NO!!!”
“But won’t it grow back?” Tinker hopefully asked the doctor.
“I’m afraid that the chemical compound we cleaned off will prevent it from ever growing back. Normally that stuff strips the hair for a time, but I’m afraid that it seeped into the base of the horn itself.”
“But, but what about my studies, and my work I can’t do them without my horn?!”
“I’m sorry miss, but these things happen; as rare as they are. Just be thankful it was only your horn.”
“Hmph…” Tinker let out a snort. “Yeah, I’m real lucky.” She hopped off the exam bed.
“Now just take it easy and try not to use any magic.”
“NO problem doc.” She rolled her eyes, then opened the door with her hoof, something she hadn’t really done in quite a while.
“Oh by the way,” The doctor held out a small sack. “It’s your horn, we cleaned it up as best as we could.”
“Thanks for everything.” She grabbed the sack in her teeth and walked out, her head hanging about as low as her spirits.
“Hey Tink! There you are! I came as soon as I heard. Are you o-“ Flo gasped, noting the lack of the distinguishing unicorn characteristic. “It’ll grow back… right?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay… Hay, I brought these for you.” Flo grabbed the strange metal device that her friend had been working on. The fan-like blades reflecting the bright lights of the hospital hallway.
“Ugh why did you have to bring those things?”
“Because they’re yours, and I kind of want to know what they are.”
“I’ll never be able to finish them now.” She sulked, heading for the exit.
“Why not?” Flo fluttered alongside her friend, fidgeting with the blades as they headed outside.
“I was counting on powering them with that animation spell if I could ever figure it out.” Now I’ll never be able to use the magic to make them work.”
“Work? I’d say they work well. They sure made quick work of the workshop on campus.”
“Yeah, tell me about it. That was a mistake waiting to happen.”
“Can’t you at least tell me what they were supposed to do?”
“Only if you promise to shut up about it then.”
Flo hovered in front of her friend, “Cross my heart and learn to fly, stick a horn in my eye….” She cringed at the last part. “Sorry.”
“Sometimes I swear you just have the worst timing.”
“Yeah, I do that a lot don’t I?” She scratched the back of her head. “So can you tell me?”
“Fine, just don’t tell anypony else.”
Flo nodded in agreement, all ears.
“I was making a set of mechanical wings.”
“NO WAY!!! I mean…. No way, really? That’s awesome. How’d you know that they’d work?”
“I don’t, and I guess know I’ll never know.”
“But there has to be some way of making them work.”
“Just can it will you? I’ve been through enough these last few hours. I just want to go to bed.”
“Alright, fine. We’ll head back to the apartment.” Flo landed on the ground and walked dejectedly behind her friend.
The walk back was oddly quiet for a night in the city. Even the normal commonplace sounds of the night seemed to dim with the mood of the two ponies as they made their way back in silence. Flo opened the door once they reached the apartment without receiving so much as a nod. Tinker drug her hooves straight off to bed, closing the door behind her. She had never felt so defeated. Flo set her friends contraption on the table in the kitchen and proceeded to fix herself up a snack. “It can’t be that bad, can it?” She thought aloud, pour herself a glass of carrot juice and setting it aside. “It’s not like can’t still make things… wait a sec.” She paused looking down at her own wings. She could only imagine how she would feel if she lost her wings, “That must be how Tinker feels right now.” She turned to the cupboard, accidently knocking her cup of juice to the ground. “Ugh, not again.” She groaned, fluttering up and wiping her hooves on a towel before proceeding to wipe up the spilled juice. “I wonder how she’ll be able to finish her studies?” What she didn’t know was that Tinker was quietly thinking the same thing.
A thousand images flashed through Tinker’s mind. A countless array of what-if’s and why-not scenarios bouncing around her still aching head. If hadn’t had forgotten that one book, if she would have tied up the cable, if only she had stayed all night to finish them instead of heading home. The possibilities were endless, but yet she had to deal with the outcome she had been dealt. She felt sick. She had kicked it off to a good start at the school, made several friends, landed a good job and she doing well in all her classes, except history that is. Honestly if everypony keeps making the same mistakes over and over again maybe teaching about the mistakes is pointless. They’ll just make them anyway. And yet she had made the biggest mistake of all, costing all too much. How would she be able to continue on with her studies? She glanced over at the night stand, piled high with service manuals and scraps of paper covered in equations. How would she ever be able to make anything ever again? She needed her horn. She’d be the laughing stock of the whole school. A unicorn who can’t use magic and looks like a sad excuse for an earth pony. Wait a minute, earth pony? Maybe that was the answer? She hopped off the bed, putting a hoof to her forehead when she remembered how much her head still ached. She walked over to her mirror, staring at her miserable self in the reflection. She just couldn’t look at the pitiful stump of what was left of her horn. But maybe if she planned everything right she could make a new identity for herself. She grabbed a brush and struggled with a bottle of mane-spray as she spiked her mane just enough to hide the hideous stub. She turned her head from side to side, looking at herself in the mirror, pleased by the result. “The hard part will be breaking it to Flo, I just can’t go back to school, and I can’t do my job anymore.” She muttered to help reassure herself of her decision. She pulled out several of her belongings and laid them out on the bed. “But where will I go?” She rolled up several sheets of paper and set them aside. Tinker looked at the books filled with spells and new tricks for welding and metal working, they were useless now; stacking them on the dresser. She was desperate to figure out a place to go when it hit her. “I can go anywhere! I have the whole of Equestria to see and my own private airship to take me there!” She spun around elated, catching the little sack out of the corner of her eye. She had set it down by the door when she had gotten home. She picked up the bag, not daring to open it and trotted over to the trash. She stood there thinking about what she was about to do, the bag poised over the place of lost dreams and scrapped ideas. “Ohgoshdarnit…” she mumbled through her teeth, as she tossed the bag onto the bed with the rolled up pieces of paper. Maybe she could use it later or maybe someday a miracle procedure will be able to reattach it somehow. She didn’t want to throw away that chance. Tinker eyes the stuff she had set aside to take with her, making a mental checklist of what she had and what she would need. She poured out all the bits she had managed to save and count them up. “Thirty seven… thirty eight… Only thirty-eight? I swear I saved more than that.” She then recalled how much it cost to rent a small enough space to store her airship. She would have to leave that night. She set her alarm so she could get a few hours sleep at least and make sure Flo was sound asleep. She pulled out a pad of fresh paper and started writing a note. It would just be easier this way she thought to herself, trying her best at the hoof scratch that she had used since she was a filly. It was time she hit the road, time to start anew.
“Okay, I need to be real quiet,” She nudged the door open a crack. It groaned on its hinges in protest. She opened it a little further, it speaking out again. Tinker stopped, poking her head out and looking down the hallway. Flo’s door was open, and the faint sound of snoring could be heard drifting out and down the hall. Tinker put a hoof on the door and took a deep breath, flinging it open with one deft motion. It hardly made a sound, “Figures.” Tinker crept down the hall to the kitchen. She’d need something do tide her over for tomorrow. She opened the fridge and pulled out some left overs that Flo had neatly packaged. It wasn’t the tastiest of foods, but it would suffice for now. She set the leftovers on the table and glanced around for her saddle bag. She could see the wings tossed on the table, as well as a few of the books she had left at school. She carefully lifted the wings and folded them back up, making sure to secure the cables this time to prevent any further accidents. “I guess I should take these, it’s not like Flo will have any use for them.” She set them with the rest of the stuff she planned on taking. “Ah, there you are,” she pulled out her saddle bag from under one of the books, shaking it out. “That’s not good,” noticing a small hole starting to form in the bottom. “Oh well, I’ll just need to get a new one eventually.” She started packing several of her smaller items in the bag, making sure to block up the hole well so as not to lose anything. It would still be several hours before Flo woke up but she wanted to make sure she was well outside the city by then. She tied the wings and a few larger things to the side of the bag and then fastened the strap, tugging on it to ensure it was tight enough.
Tinker hefted the small sack of bits she had left after paying off the storage fee. She could have sworn she had paid last week, not that it really mattered. She didn’t plan on coming back here anyway. She tossed her saddle bag onto the wooden deck of the airship as she performed her last minute checks. “Looks like I have plenty of fuel.” She said aloud, noting the containers of vegetable oil that she had topped off last week. She pulled back on a lever and the balloon started to rise. Slowly and silently lifting into the early Manehattan sky. She looked down from above, the ponies below like ants as she eased off on the lever to balloon ceasing its ascent. She turned around and fired up the engine, slipping her goggles down over her eyes to protect them from the smoke until she got going.
“Now that sure is a pretty site.” Tinker sighed, watching the sun rise over the tall buildings of the city. Flo would be getting up any minute now, she thought as the airship slowly put more distance between her and the city. She could see for miles in the clear sky of the early morning. She had no idea where she was going, but she had all the time in the world to get there.
“I just can’t believe I went through all my fuel that fast.” Tinker explained to the attendant at the station. The winds had really picked up once the sun started to warm things up. She hadn’t made much progress at all it seemed. “Are you sure there isn’t a cheaper place?” She asked, receiving an annoyed look from the attendant as he filled up the last of her fuel containers.
“There’s not a finer place in all of Filly Delphia miss, we don’t get many airships dropping by anyway.”
Tinker paid the pony and loaded the containers onboard. “At this rate I’ll run out of bits by Horse Shoe Bay if this wind keeps up.”
“Um excuse me?” An older stallion walking by couldn’t help but overhear her complaint.
“Do you need vegetable oil? I have a heap of a lot of used cooking oil you can have if you’re interested?”
“How much do you want for it?” She groaned. She needed as much fuel as she could get, for as cheap as she could get.
“Free, you can have as much as you want.”
“Free? What’s the catch?”
“No catch, it just costs us so much to get rid of it ourselves.”
“Are you sure?” Tinker couldn’t believe her ears.
“Yup, I’ll even get some help if you’d like and we could get it all loaded up for you, miss uh…um…”
Thoughts raced around in her head, if she told them her real name then they might find out what had happened to her, or worse ponies would be able to follow her. She glanced around at the different shops, looking for something to suffice for a name. A flashy display in a salon window drew her attention. “HiLite, you can call me HiLite,” She stammered.
“Well Miss HiLite if you would just follow me I can show you where we store the stuff and you can have all you want.” The stallion smiled.
What a sweet deal! She couldn’t believe all this; barrels filled to overflowing with used cooking oil. Just the stuff she needed, it wouldn’t burn as clean but hay, you couldn’t beat free. The stallion wrangled up several young lads and they loaded six of the large barrels onto her vessel. Each one holding as much fuel as she had just bought a while earlier.
“We’re mighty thankful of you for taking these here leftovers off our hooves Miss HiLite.”
“Oh no, thank you! You don’t know how much this means to me.”
“Well you be safe now you here, them skies aren’t even fit for pegasi when the winds get a going.”
“I’ll be careful, and thanks again.” She waved as the balloon lifted off into the sky, catching the breeze and blowing gently along with it.
It sure was going to be an interesting trip, she let the ship drift in the breeze for several hours, touching down when it got too gusty. Everywhere she went, everypony she talked to she used her made up name. HiLite the earth pony, captain of the skies. Well a girl could dream couldn’t she?
At Horse shoe bay she decided she would settle down for the night, and continue on in the morning. A her shops were still open when she trotted into town. She looked around, catching sight of her reflection in one of the shop windows. She looked disgusting, all the smoke and grease staining her mane, goggle marks rimming her eyes. She jingled the bag of bits she had left. She had plenty of fuel for a good long time now, so why not? “Too expensive… too fancy… already closed,” She walked by several salons. She finally stopped in front of a smaller shop, she looked in the window, seeing no one inside put the mane-dresser. A bell rang as she opened the door. “What can I get for… OH MY!” The stylist remarked at the disaster that walked through her door.
“I just need a wash…”
“Oh no my dear, I’m afraid you need much more than a wash! You need a completely new look on life!”
“A new look?”
“Yes dear, a new look. What’s your name?”
“Well HiLite it looks like we have some work to do, take a seat.”
Tinker did as she was told, the stylist going to work, with different shampoos, conditions, sprays.
“Not the front of the mane.”
“But why on earth not?”
“I uh… I want to do that myself, later…” She fudged her way out of that close call.
“Very well, I’d say you’re pretty much done then.” She spun her around so she could see herself in the full wall mirror.
“Wow!!” Tinker’s jaw dropped, “I Love IT!” Turning her head from side to side, not only was it actually clean, but the blue streaks added a lot! It was as though she was looking at an entirely different pony, she was looking at HiLite!
Tinker paid the stylist and headed out on the town, she felt great! She had become something new; and while it might not be better than the unicorn known as Tinker Sparx, it was something altogether different. Maybe being an earth pony would be easier than she thought. Little did she know what the night would have in store for her.
“No I don’t need a permit for it,” Tinker grumbled, answering yet another question. She just wanted to spend a nice night out on the down, where nopony knows her, or her failures. Instead she winds up in a seedy joint on the edge of town surrounded by everypony down on their luck.
“Come on sweets, what do you want for that thing.”
“I told you already, it’s not for sale.” She took another sip of her carrot juice. She flagged down the waiter for her bill.
“Where you going honey?” The annoying stallion pressed.
“I’m leaving, thank you very much.” She brushed past him.
“Oh come on, stay a bit. I’ll buy.”
The stallion blocked the door. “Excuse me, who said you could leave?”
“Get out of the way buster, and nopony gets hurt.”
“Hurt? Hey, did you here that everypony?? This little filly thinks she can hurt me.” He laughed.
“I mean it,” Tinker snarled, clenching her teeth.
“Make me.” He snarked back at the smaller mare.
Tinker was ticked, everypony else just watched, evidently looking for a good show. Oh she’d give them a show. She spun around and bucked up with all her farm-filly strength, connecting firmly with the jerks chest. He stumbled back into the door, the wood creaking under the impact.
“Is that all you got?!”
“You want more!!” Tinker yelled.
“Bring it….” The stallion’s expression changed from insolent to utter shock. He spun around and barreled out the door. Tinker stood there dumbfounded.
“Miss…. Are you alright?” The owner of the joint trotted over, unable to keep his eyes off her mane.
Tinker glanced up, not seeing anything. “I think so?” she stepped to the side to see her reflection in the window. “Holy Cloud Feathers!!” She grabbed a pitcher of water and splashed her face with it, a sizzling sound as the bit of smoke was dissipated. “Sorry for the mess,” She tossed two bits on the table and walked out.
She felt miserable, and yet she wasn’t exactly sure what had happened. Heading back to her airship she climbed aboard and pulled a small mirror out of her saddle bag. She parted her mane and examined the burnt area around her horn, small charred flecks sticking to the stub. “Well that’s just great.” She put the mirror down. “I can light my head on fire but I can’t use any spells. What a failure.” Tinker prepared to settle down for the night, when she heard angry voices coming from a few streets over. She could catch a few key words. Enough to know that she didn’t want to be around when they got there. She untied the ship and pulled the lever to ascend into the dark night sky. “I’ll just drift a while and then fire up the engine. That way they won’t be able to know where I went.” She looked down, she could see the ponies congregating below, their conversation drifting up to her ears.
“Are you sure she was…you know.”
“I swear, I never seen nothing like it.” She recognized the voice of the pony that had caused her problems earlier that evening.
“Well then where she’d go?”
“I don’t know, she had a flying boat thingy.”
“Your drunk again aren’t you.”
“I ain’t drunk…”
“Sure, just how many did he have to drink anyway?” A third pony chimed in.
Tinker lost track of the voices as the breeze picked up slightly carrying the airship to the west. At least she figured it was west. It was so hard to tell at night. How she wished she had taken an astronomy class. She could just pick out the Big Ladle in a break of clouds, but beyond that she was clueless. “Best get some altitude, I don’t want to run into anything in the dark.” She pulled back on the lever that controlled the altitude rising until she was above the clouds. “WOW!” She was astonished at the beauty of the moon swept cloudscape. The silver light glistening on the glowing crests as the ship flowed through. “It’s just so, so, pretty.” Tinker just sat back and watched the dancing lights of the stars, the soft glow of the moon providing light with which to guide her vessel.
She fell asleep that night to the gentle rocking of the ship as it was carried on by the gentle breeze. Awaking to the warming rays of the sun as they set the cloud tops ablaze with light. “Now that’s something you don’t see every day.” She yawned, stretching out her legs one by one. She fired up the engine, now that she could see where she was going. Pushing forward on one of the levers the balloon slowly lost altitude until she was gliding just under the clouds, the first beams of sunlight bursting through. She looked down at the land below her, the rolling hills and wide open spaces. “Now where in Equestria have I gotten off to?” She wondered aloud. Just how far did the evening breeze take her anyway? No bother, she didn’t care all too much, so long as it was away, far away from Horse Shoe Bay. Not that it was a bad place, don’t get her wrong. It just wasn’t the nicest place to hang around once you scare the local population. The balloon descended even further, skimming just above the tops of the trees. She set the engine back to an idle as she meandered her way across the country side.
Tinker gazed down to the earth below, the ships shadow moving gracefully along in front of her.
“Um… excuse me?”
“AHH!!!” Tinker jumped, nearly falling over the railing.
“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” The pegasus hovered just off the port side.
“Wha… who…?” Not sure how best to respond.
“I uh, could you umm…. Not to be rude but.”
“Listen… I don’t know who you are, where I am or what you want.”
“Don’t be. So what is your name anyway?” Tinker shoved a few barrels to the side to make room for the pegasus to land.
“My name’s Fluttershy.”
“Fluttershy huh, nice name. So where exactly am I anyway?”
“Oh, you’re just outside of Ponyville.” Fluttershy alighted on the deck, giving a weak smile.
“Hmmm, okay now if I only had a map.” She muttered under her breath.
“Do you think, maybe… if it’s not too much trouble that is…”
“I know that name sounds familiar… but from where?”
“… move your balloon, it’s blocking the sun and the reptiles can’t warm themselves…”
“Huh, what was that?” Tinker dropped her thoughts, “Oh no problem.”
“Th-thank you” Fluttershy perked up and readied to fly back down to the earth below.
“Oh, before you go… you wouldn’t happen to know of a good place to crash?”
“Crash?? Why would you want to do that?” Giving Tinker a concerned look.
“You know, a place to stay for a few days.” She placed a hoof to her head.
“Oh yes, we have a few places like that, just head on over that way.” She pointed off towards the hills. Tinker glanced into the distance, just able to make out the glint of sunlight reflecting off a window. “You should be able to find a place, no problem.” “Okay, thanks.” Tinker waved as she turned the ship towards the town.
“Oh, I almost forgot, what’s you name?”
“Ti…. Uh… Hilite… it’s Hilite.” Blushing out of embarrassment of almost blowing her so-called cover.
“Well it was nice to meet you HiLite.”
“Likewise, bye,” she increased power to the propeller, intent on making the town by lunch time. Despite nearly blowing her cover she might actually get some time to sort out some travel plans. She only needed to find a map, maybe a town hall, or even a library would be a good place to start.
“Well shoot, there’re just too many darn books in here.” Tinker pulled another one from the collection of travel books.
“Well anywhere special you had in mind?” The uni… no the alicorn asked. It was so not fair Tinker thought, to have both a horn and wings.
“No not really. Unless you can think of something at least semi pleasant, with not too many ponies around.”
“You’re more of a solo pony then?” Twilight trotted past, levitating a book off the top shelf and setting it down to flip through.
“No, I just seemed to get off on the wrong hoof last place I went.” Tinker grumbled.
“What about this one Twilight?” Spike slid down a ladder with a large book in his claws.
Twilight read the title aloud, “Atlas of Equestria: a Traveler’s Guide. Sounds interesting enough.” She flipped thought the first few pages, then handed it over. “Well I’m afraid I can’t be of much help to you HiLite, I haven’t traveled too many places and those that I’ve been tend to all be rather busy.”
“Yeah, no thanks… I’ll pass on busy, crowded and nosy.” She snickered.
“Hmm, nosy eh? I won’t ask then.”
“Wait? Won’t ask what?”
“Oh what you do, for work anyway, I saw your airship; whatever it is you do it must pay very well.”
“I built that,” She rolled her eyes. “I fix things, and make a few things from time to time.”
“Really! That is so cool!”
“Who cares…? It’s not like any-pony needs my skills anyway I was more use on the farm.”
“Did you say farm?”
“Yeah, I did. I grew up on one.”
“Oh you have to meet somepony, I’m sure you two will strike it off right away!” Twilight smiled with delight. “Come on follow me.”
Tinker followed the alicorn out of the library, it wasn’t like she was getting anywhere with the books anyway. Nothing seemed to interest her too much and she could use the fresh air.
Spike collected the books from the floor and began to neatly stack them as the two ponies closed the door behind them. Twilight trotted alongside HiLite. “So what do you think of Ponyville so far?”
Tinker glanced around, she hadn’t had too much time to actually think about it, much less explore. “I don’t know, it’s nice I guess.” They made their way to the side of town and headed down a dirt lane. Tinker looked on in awe at all the apple trees, spreading as far as the eye could see. “What is this place?”
“Howdy, and welcome to Sweet Apple Acres.” A brown mare said, bucking a tree and losing all its apples.
“Hi Applejack! I have somepony for you to meet.” Twilight galloped over, motioning for HiLite to follow.
“Well, uh nice to meet ya.”
“This is HiLite, she grew up on a farm and now she fixes things!” Twilight exclaimed.
“But I don’t have nothing broken?”
“Well maybe you too can just chat then.” Twilight smiled as she took sloppily to the air. “I have some reading to catch up on.” Applejack watch as Twilight disappeared over the tops of the apple trees. She looked over the stranger. “So…”
“Yeah, I know… This is really awkward.” Tinker finished her sentence for her.
“Um, hmm I guess I can take a break for a bit.”
“I’m sorry to intrude like this.”
“No problem, I’m sure Twilight had her reasons… even if I don’t understand them right away. So whatcha doing in Ponyville anyway?”
“Well, I was just passing through and stopped at the library to look at some maps.”
“I’m kinda wandering from place to place looking for a quiet place to settle down.”
“Well Ponyville sure is nice a place as any.”
“I don’t know… I haven’t seen much and I can’t really afford a place anyway.” She shrugged, thinking of the sad estate of her bit bag. “Well there sure ain’t many places to set up, what is it you do again?”
“I fix things that break, sometimes I make entirely new things.”
“Well we sure don’t have a pony in town that does that sorta thing.”
“Hey sis! The pumps broken again!” A small filly galloped up. “Oh, hay there.”
“Um, hello?” Tinker took a step back.
“Come on sis, I was doing the dishes and it just stopped.”
“Okay fine, I’m a coming.” Applejack looked over at HiLite. “You want to tag along?”
“I don’t have anything better to do…” The trio trotted off towards the house.
“Names Apple Bloom, what’s yours?”
“My name is HiLite” Tinker nodded, getting used to the new name.
“Your new to town ain’t ya?” The filly bounced along beside the two older mares.
“I guess, if you say so.”
“Oh boy, wait till I tell the rest of the gang! See ya later!!” Apple Bloom bolted off at the gate, heading towards a treehouse on the hill.
Applejack walked over to the old rusty water pump, the handle laying broken in the dirt. “Don’t mind ‘em, they just get excited over new things.” She kicked the handle with her hoof. “Well, I swear, sure is a mess.”
Tinker looked over the simple design and rusty components. Noting various pieces of metal scrap lying beside the barn, as she envisioned how the pump assembly worked.
“I’m gonna have to order a new one this time,” tossing her hat on the ground and stomping on it in anger. “Applejack if you don’t mind… I think I might be able to rig something up for you temporarily?”
“Pfft, be my guest, not like it works anyway. I’ll get you some tools.” She stormed off to the barn and returned a short time later with a wooden box full of wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers. “This work for ya?”
“I’ll make it work best I can.” She grabbed a wrench and loosened the main pump housing, then removed it entirely. “Might take a few hours.”
“Okay, I got some chores inside come get me when you’re all done.”
“Sure thing.” Tinker gutted the pump workings and set about laying them on the ground, piling up any parts that were beyond repair. She dragged some of the scrap metal and a few old pieces of timber from next to the barn over and set to work. Cutting and bending the metal, carving and sanding the wood. Slowly and surely the inner workings started to get pieced back together. She put the main assembly back on and rigged up a new handle fulcrum out of an old tin can. Running a rounded piece of wood though the fulcrum and the handle, then roping the handle top to the pump. “Here goes nothing…” She drew the handle up, then down; nothing. She pumped a few more times with no result. “Hmm…. That’s odd.” She lifted the handle one last time and slammed it down as hard as she could. A small trickle formed at the spout. “Come on, just a bit more….”
“Whatcha doing??” Apple Bloom questioned from behind her, scaring her half to death.
“Whoa kid… you need to work on your entrances.” She took a deep breath. “I’m trying to fix the water pump.”
“Can I try?” She jumped over and grabbed the handle in her hooves.
“Sure, be my guest.”
Apple Bloom bounced up with the lever, hanging on to bring it back down again. The trickle started back up. A few more bounces and a nice steady flow was streaming out of the spout and onto the ground.
“Well I’ll be, you done it.” Applejack closed the house door behind her and trotted over.
“It works even better than before!!” Apple Bloom shouted with excitement, bouncing up and down with the handle.
Tinker followed the filly’s movement with her head, starting to get dizzy. She shook her head quickly from side to side to reorient herself.
“I dare say your skills could be pretty darn handy around town if you do plan on sticking around.”
“Maybe, but I still wouldn’t have a place to stay.” Tinker thought of her ship. Where in Equestria would she find a place for that? It wasn’t like she could afford a dock fee, and it definitely wouldn’t fit in a small house.
“Hey… Applejack… what about…” Apple Bloom stopped bouncing and stood in the mud she had created. “What about that old barn down on the edge of the property?”
“I don’t know, I don’t even know if it’s still standing.”
“Aww come on, please?” She begged, smiling as hard as she could.
“I don’t know… do you want to see it?”
“Sure, I don’t mind.” Tinker shrugged. Anyplace was better than no-place at the moment. At least with a barn she might be able to get her airship inside out of any weather.
Applejack led her across the vast acreage of the farm, coming to an overgrown growth of trees near the edge. The trees had stopped bearing fruit years ago, and half of them were dead. Tinker could just make out an old rusty weather vane creaking in the wind over the tree tops.
“It ain’t much… but if you want it you can have it. We have no use for it.” Applejack opened the door, creaking on its hinges as it swung open. Cobwebs covered the rafters and several broken pieces of machinery sat collecting dust.
“It’s perfect, how much do you want for it?” She asked hesitantly.
“Much?? Oh nothing, you can have it, like I said we don’t use it anymore.”
“Are you sure? I want to pay you something?”
“Are you kidding? You fixed the water pump. If anything I should owe you. Call it even?” she held out her hoof.
Tinker thought about the offer for a minute. Her mind whizzing away at the potential the place had. She took Applejacks hoof in her own and shook it. “Deal.”
“Excuse me, HiLite?” Apple Bloom peaked around the corner of the open barn door. A lot had changed in only a week. Old rusty parts lay scattered across the floor, wires and cables running every which way. A hoof-full of strange machines sat in a far corner. Apple Bloom looked up at the airship that resided where the old hay loft used to be. The new roof patched up and reinforced. The sound of something crashing to the ground could grew the filly’s attention.
“Ah shucks, go back together you stupid piece of junk!” Tinker barked, working at the back of the barn turned shop.
“Um, HiLite?” She stepped into the doorway. She cleared her throat and tried again. “HiLite?”
Tinker paused in her work, looking up. “Oh, hay there Apple Bloom, what’s up?”
“Well I was just a… I mean we were…”
“We?? Whose we?” Tinker picked up a dirty rag and wiped her hooves, not making any noticeable difference.
“The Cutie Mark Crusaders!!” Two other small fillies sprang out of nowhere and stood next to the young earth pony. An orange hued pegasus and a white unicorn.
“The Cutie Mark Crusaders… It’s sorta like a club.” Apple Bloom scuffed at the dirt with her hoof.
“A club hay? Alright, what’s all y’all’s names?” She paced over, stepping gingerly over the cables on the ground.
“And my name’s Sweetie Belle!” The unicorn bounced up and down several times.
“Nice to meet you all, I’m HiLite. But Apple Bloom probably told you that already.” She rolled her eyes and let out a chuckle.
“Sure did!!” Scootaloo beamed.
“So what can I do for you today?” Tinker asked, she really should get back to her work.
“Well….” Apple Bloom Started before getting cut off by Sweetie Belle.
“Can you help us find our cutie marks!?”
“Find your what?” She stared at the fillies quizzically.
“Our cutie marks, we haven’t found our talents yet.” The young unicorn lowered her head.
“Oh, I get it… you want me to help you see if I can figure out what your talents supposed to be, is that it?”
“YES!!” All three fillies replied in unison.
“Okay, you’ve got to be kidding me, I don’t have any idea where to start. And I’m kinda busy at the moment.”
“Aww… but please? Maybe our talent is fixing stuff, like you do.” Scoot whined, half begging.
“Yeah… no, too dangerous.”
“Dangerous? It doesn’t look dangerous?”
“Scootaloo… it took a lot of training to do what I do. It’s just not safe without the proper training.”
“Aww, so not fair.” Her wings fell limp to her sides.
“Can’t ya just show us what you’re working on then?” Apple Bloom looked past Tinker to try and see what she was working on.
“Fine… but,” She held a hoof up in warning. “Only if you promise not to touch anything.”
“WE PROMISE!!” The fillies shouted, running past her into the shop.
“WAIT!!” She barked, stopping the trio in their tracks. “I need to disconnect the power first.”
Tinker walked to the side of the main door, to a strange machine that all the cables seemed to be connected to. She flipped a switch and suddenly they all noticed the absence of the humming sound that had gone on unnoticed until now.
“What is that thing?” Scoot bolted over to examine the strange piece of equipment.
“It’s called a Lightning Control Dispersion System, LCDS for short. It powers all the machinery I use to do my work.” She wouldn’t have needed one those if it weren’t for her horn she thought to herself.
“How’s it work?” Scootaloo questioned, reaching out to touch.
Tinker swatted her hoof away. “It uses lighting stored in special metal boxes, that’s about as simple as I can explain it.”
“Hay, what’s this?” Sweetie Belle asked no one in particular.
Tinker turned around slowly. Horror spread across her face, “Don’t touch that!!” She was too late, the sound of metal scraping metal as the blades sliced through the air.
“Whoa… Cool!” Apple Bloom came up next to the unicorn, looking at her reflection in the pair of metal blades that glistened in the light.
“What are those Miss HiLite?” Scootaloo asked, looking up at the shocked expression on the pony’s face.
“Gah…. I told you not to touch anything. Are you alright? You’re not hurt are you??” Tinker rushed over to check on the small white filly.
“I’m fine, but what are these?”
“They, look like… wings. But they’re made of metal?” Scootaloo trotted closer to examine the device, looking back at her own wings.
“But why would you have wings?” Apple Bloom turned to Tinker.
“I just do that’s all.”
“But why? You’re not a pegasus.” Sweetie Belle cocked to her head to the side, confused.
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Please!?” Sweetie Belle hugged her leg tightly, “I promise I won’t tell nopony.”
Tinker glanced to the other two fillies, nodding in agreement. “Fine, but I’ll only say it once, so listen closely.”
The trio plopped down on their haunches in front of her, eager to her what she had to say.
“I have a dream of flying. I built that airship to accomplish that dream.” She looked up at the crude berth that held her creation. “But I still had the urge to fly, to be able to soar the skies, under my own power. So I made those wings. There not finished, and I don’t know if I’ll ever finish them. They’re too dangerous. I sent a pony to the hospital with them once by accident.” Being careful not to let on to just who that particular pony was. “Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to get them working, or maybe never. Some ponies just aren’t meant to fly I guess.”
“I’m sure you’ll get it figured out someday.” Scootaloo looked at the ground, dejected. That would be the day, an earth pony flying when a pegasus can’t.
“Okay, shouldn’t y’all be heading off back home about now?” HiLite suggested.
“But you didn’t tell us how you got your cutie mark yet!”
“My… oh, that’s nothing special.” “Tell us! Tell us!” The trio bounced around. HiLite just really wanted to get them out of her mane. It was hard enough working alone, but having to worry about fillies around all the equipment? That was just too much.
“Okay, but it’s pretty boring.” She started. “I used to live out on a farm, much like you do Apple Bloom. Now, when I was about your age my brothers had to go out and help my pa with some work in the fields. I really wanted to go but my ma wouldn’t let me. So I got mad and went out to the barn where I bucked the wagon apart. I didn’t mean too, I guess it was still a piece of junk back then. Anyway, I figured I had best but it all back together as best I could before I got in trouble.”
The Crusaders sat as still as stone, riveted to the story.
“I never could get it put back exactly like it was before, and my pa sure was cross when he finally saw what I had done. It was so worth it though, I spent so much time working on that wagon over the years. I must have rebuilt it a hundred times, that old thing.” She chuckles at the thought. “That was the good ole days… before life got all complicated.”
“Complicated?” Sweetie Belle furrowed her brows, deep in thought.
“Yeah, you’ll understand when you’re older, now run along I’ve got work to finish and I can’t do it with y’all hanging around.”
“They all say that,” Scoot remarked as the trio trotted out of the shop. They could hear the hum of the machinery as the LCDS started back up.
“Well, I guess none of us will be fixer ponies.” Sweetie sulked, dragging her hooves.
“Ah nonsense, she said she started by kicking a wagon, come on I know just where to start!” Apple Bloom ran off, excited, the other fillies close behind.
“Well I’ll be.” Tinker gazed down on the old trees below. She tugged on the rope tethering the airship to the shop to make sure it was secure. “Nice and taught, guess that’s as high as we’re getting.” She turned the ship into the wind, cycling the engines just enough to hold the ship stationary in the gentle breeze. “Okay, should be just about… nice, here we go.” She flip a switch on a piece of machinery. “Okay, let’s see what kind of breeze we can….”
“Hay there!”” A pegasus blasted into view, barely a wingspan from the side.
“HOLY!! OH MY…. Don’t do that!!”
“Aww, come on. It’s was funny.” The pegasus started to crack up.
“Maybe, to you, but you messed up all my instruments.”
“Bwhahaha…” She wiped her snout with her hoof. “Name’s Rainbow Dash, what’s yours?” She alighted on the deck, resting a hoof atop the machine Tinker had been trying to calibrate.
“Hi…. HiLite.” Hold on, she had seen this other pony before.
“Hmm… okay,” Dash tilted her head to the side, matching the other pony’s expression. “Your new here right?”
“Yeah moved in about a week ago.”
“Well then welcome to Ponyville, catch you later!” She blasted off, rocking the ship.
Tinker watched her as she flew off, “That was rather odd… oh cloudfeathers! I hope she didn’t recognize me.” A thousand possibilities, various what-if scenarios, running around in her head.
Tinker started to recalibrate her device when she could see Applejack heading her way from a good distance off. She waved when AJ saw looked up, the earth pony picking up the pace a bit. “I’ll never get this working at this rate,” she cranked the airships tether back in, lowering the ship back to its berth. She was just finishing up tying it down when Applejack knocked on the open door, sticking her head in.
“Oh there you are HiLite, you haven’t seen a rainbow maned pegaus by chance would ya?”
“You mean Rainbow Dash? Yeah, she was here not ten minutes ago.”
“Ah fiddlesticks I missed her.”
“You trying to meet up with her or something?” Tinker draped a tarp over the machine she might never get a chance to use.
“Well sorta, she owes me a favor. That’s all, sorry to bother ya.” She turned to leave.
“Hay Applejack?” Tinker really needed to talk to somepony before they started asking questions.
“Hay what?” AJ stopped in the doorway.
“I was, just err… well I uh…”
“Well spit it out already.”
“I’ve met Dash before.” She blurted out, biting her lip.
“Well duh, you said she was just here.”
“No, that’s not what I mean.”
“Oh?” Applejack took a step forward, lifting a brow.
“I uh, we umm… We met a long time ago sort of. She was hanging out with the Wonderbolts in Manehattan…. I um, returned her diary.”
“Dash keeps a diary?”
“Yes… wait, you didn’t know that?”
“Nope, but I do now. Did she remember you?”
“I don’t think so, you see, a lots changed since then.”
“And you’re worried she forgot about you?”
“Oh no, that would actually be kinda nice.” She smirked, stepping gingerly over cables on the floor. “I’d just love it if she’s forgotten all about me.”
“Hold on a sec.” AJ stopped her short, confused out of her mind. “Are you saying you don’t want her to remember you?”
“Yes… at least, not who I was back then.”
“But why not?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Tinker looked away.
“Come on you can trust me to keep a secret.”
“Cross my heart and stick a cupcake in my eye.”
“Where’d you get a cupcake???”
“I have no idea.” AJ wiped the frosting away with her hoof.
“What am I supposed to do Applejack?? If she does remember me, she’ll start asking questions, and then everypony else will be asking them too. I can’t… WON’T let that happen.” She gritted her teeth in determination.
“I don’t quite get what you’re asking there HiLite.”
“What should I do!?! I can’t let Rainbow tell everypony about my past!” Tinker panicked.
“Oh, that’s easy.” AJ closed her eyes, grinning.
“It is?” Tinker licked her hoof, and touched her forehead, a little sizzling sound as a wisp rolled off into the air and dissipated.
“You go tell her the truth. If she doesn’t remember you as well as you think you’ll find out. No harm in asking.”
“But how’s that supposed to help?”
“Just tell her the truth. Anyway, catch ya later, gotta get back to work.”
“Okay see ya…” She came to the door and watched until Apple jack was out of site. “Oh I hope she’s right; otherwise I’m really gonna regret this later.”
The shop continued to grow smaller as the airship ascended. She fired up the engines, pulling back on the throttle as far as it would go. The props whirred to life, slicing through the air with a loud hum. Time wasn’t on her side, in fact it might already be too late she thought to herself. She shook the thought from her mind. No, there had to be time wait..? Where exactly did Dash live anyway? In her haste she had completely forgotten to ask.
She didn’t have to wonder long as she sailed on at a fast clip. Not a cloud remained in the sky above Ponyville, thanks to the weather corp. actually being on time for once. And yet she could just make out a small wisp of white to the north, a glimmer of rainbow apparent even from the distance. Tinker cranked the ship toward the lonely cloud formation, making good time. Tinker eased up on the throttle and swung the ship aside, casting anchor into the structural clouds that formed the base of the residence. She lowered the ship to cloud level and hesitantly walked up to the front door. Being careful of her step to make sure she wouldn’t plummet to the world below. She rapped her hoof on the door in quick succession. Okay, nopony home, time to go! She turned hastily to leave. Turning snout to snout to the rainbow pegasus.
“What are you doing here?” Dash hovered, her front hooves crossed.
‘I uh… um…. Apple jack was looking for you earlier.”
“Yeah I know, I talked to her already.”
“Yeah I did, AND she said you had something you wanted to tell me?”
“I did? Oh yeah, that….” She stammered.
“Well are you going to tell me or are you just going to stand there and block my door?” Dash was growing impatient fast.
“It was nothing, nothing, I think I’ll be going now.” She brushed past, almost stepping off the solid part of the cloud.
“Um, okay sure thing HiLite… wait a minute…”
Tinker froze in place, cringing. This was it, she was screwed big time now.
“I know you from somewhere… hold on a sec.” Rainbow dashed inside, slamming the door behind her. She appeared moments later with a small booklet under her wing. She set down the diary on the doorstep.
“I… I… it’s not what you think…”
“I’ll bet, but just so we’re on the same page, what is it you’re thinking that I‘m thinking that we’re both supposed to be thinking?”
“I’m not following you I SWEAR!!!”
“Following me??” Dash looked back at the other mare, confused at her remark.
“OH…. I don’t… wait a sec, you do look familiar.” She flipped open her diary and glanced through a couple pages. “Here it is…. Yeah I remember you. I bumped into that klutzy pegagus with those books and a unicorn gave me back…. But you’re not a unicorn.”
A sigh of relief escaped Tinker’s lips, at the same moment an unfortunate breeze ruffled her mane. “Hold on a sec.”
“No, get back” Tinker took a step backward as Dash grew closer.
“You’re not an earth pony at all are you.”
“I’m warning you, stay back!”
“Or what? You going to blast me with that??” She pointed her hoof at the stub of horn that was poking through her mane.
Tinker looked up, she blew it; and big time at that. “Promise you won’t tell anypony.”
“But what are you doing in Ponyville?” Dash ignored the question.
“Cross my heart and stick…”
“Okay, skip that last part.”
“Ugh, fine.” Dash dropped the cupcake that had somehow materialized in her hoof. “But what are you doing here anyway. I thought you lived in Manehattan.”
“I was going to school…”
Tinker related several key points from her adventures up till she came to Ponyville. Rainbow Dash promised that her secret was safe with her, though she couldn’t see why she should be ashamed of her accident. That was until HiLite related it to a pegasus without the ability to fly. A certain filly immediately came to Dash’s mind and then she understood why she felt compelled to put on such an act. Eventually the conversation drifted, and Tinker said her goodbye’s and set off. She’d be back in a few days to take a look at the faulty rainbow generators and see if she couldn’t get them back in tip top shape.
“Oh you’ve got to kidding me…” Tinker stood up and stretched. Seriously, who could be knocking at this hour? She pulled the door open, the blinding sunlight striking her face.
“Well good mornin’ sleepy head.” AJ chuckled.
“Morning?” Tink let out a yawn. “I was up all night…”
“Well it’s sorta not morning… more like noon or thereabouts.”
“Fine, I’ll get up,” she stumbled out the doorway. “Just what are you doing over here anyway?”
“Oh, well I uh, just wanted to invite ya to a picnic.”
“A picnic?” Tinker lifted a brow in disbelief. She got woken up for this?
“Well all my friends will be there and I figure it would be a good place to introduce you, I told ‘em I’d invite you.”
“And what makes you think I’d have time like that, I’m really busy with work.”
“I know sweet heart, that’s why you need to take a break. Live a little, your work can wait. Your working yourself into the ground.”
“Well maybe I want TO!!” Tinker snapped back, catching Applejack off-guard. “Sorry, I didn’t mean… I’ll go, lead the way.”
Maybe AJ was right, she had more than exhausted herself with her work, and yet still she couldn’t make any progress. A breath of fresh air might refresh her spirits; and if she was lucky she just might think up a solution? But still she couldn’t tell anypony what she was working on. Not yet anyway.
“HIYA!! NICE TO MEET YOU!” A frizzy pink pony bounced over.
“Um, nice to meet you too?” Tinker held out a hoof.
Pinky took it and shook it, and the rest of the pony attached to it. As soon as she let go Tinker quickly brushed the front of her mane to keep her secret, well, secret.
“HiLite you already met Rainbow Dash, but this here’s Pinky Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity and Twilight Sparkle.” Applejack introduced the ponies one by one. “Come to think of it, Twilight’s the one that brought you out to my place in the first place.”
“Well I dare say…” Rarity looked slightly shocked at the pony that AJ was eager for them all to meet. Her mane was a mess, her tail singed and all four hooves stained with grease. She hadn’t seen such a fashion disaster since, well since ever!
“Good morn… err… afternoon everypony?” Tinker glanced over the group. The only two she hadn’t seen before being the prissy unicorn and party central. Oh well, seemed like she’d be missing out on the relaxing part of a restful afternoon.
“HiLite how are you liking your place?” Twilight asked, taking a sip of some lemonade.
“Oh, it’s nice. I mean it’s big enough that it fits everything.”
“Except a bed.” AJ joked.
“You know, I never even thought about getting one?” Tinker said said matter-of-factly.
“Um, I was joking?”
“So was I!” She chuckled, the other ponies joining in.
“That was funny! OH Ooh I know!!! Wait… how can both of them be joking?” Pinky plopped down to think for three seconds before bouncing back up and being distracted by something else.
“So you used to live in Manhattan I hear.” The prissy white unicorn waltzed over.
“Well only while I was going to school, I shared an apartment with a friend….” Oh shoot, why did she have to have such a big mouth.
“A friend? Where is this friend now?”
“She’s still going to school… I uh… kinda graduated early??” She caught a disapproving look from the prismatic pegasus. “Oh I see darling, and I do like your mane color, such vivid color.”
“Oh, why thank you. I didn’t have time to brush it this mornin… when I woke up.”
“I see, either way I here you fixed the rainbow generators over at Dash’s house.”
“Yeah… oh hay Dash! How them gennies holdin up for ya?”
“Perfect! Just so amazingly perfect!!” Dash beamed. She had gotten them second-hoof years ago because they never would work properly. It was definitely worth it have to rig some ropes so Tinker could work on them.
“Well I may just have to have you come over and take a look at my sewing machine one of these days. It’s not keeping up like it used to.”
“I’d be happy to, just let me know a time that’s best for you.”
“Oh sure thing darling, now if you’ll excuse me…” Rarity trotted off to sort through the sandwiches one of the other ponies had brought to share.
“Um… excuse me, HiLite?”
“What’s on your mind… um, Fluttershy isn’t it?”
“Yes… it is.”
“Well go on what ya want to know.” Tinker grinned, starting to relax a bit.
“Um… I just thought… if you’re not upset in me saying so… but there’s something in your mane.” Fluttershy stammered, not making direct eye contact with the other pony.
“In my…” Tinker whirled around and bolted to the edge of the water, looking at her reflection. She returned to the group several seconds later, her mane messier than ever.
“Oh my, are you quite alright deary?” Rarity let out an exasperated gasp.
“I’m fine… I just didn’t get enough sleep last night.”
“Shoot, you said yer was up all night. I’d say you didn’t get hardly any.” AJ commented. Everypony could see the shadows under HiLites eyes. The one disadvantage of having a light coat.
“I think I should head home… catch a few more Zzz’s”
“Well thanks for coming to the picnic. It was nice to see you again.” Twilight said, looking around at the other ponies nodding their heads in agreement.
“It was great meeting you all, I’ll see you around.” Tinker trotted off towards her workshop, maybe it was time to invest in a real bed instead of that old sofa?
“Hey Dash, can I have a word with you?” Twilight said after everyone else had left.
“You seem to know something. I saw that look you gave HiLite. Is there something you’re not telling us?” “Me? Not telling?? What gives you that idea!?”
“Um… maybe the way you won’t look me in the eye and you scuffed your hoof on the ground while you said that.” Twilight accused. “I’m sorry Twi, but I can’t say. I promised her.”
“Oh really? It seems to me she needs more than that. You saw how uptight she was. I’m telling you there’s something funny going on here.”
“Yeah, about that.” Dashed put her hoof to her head absent-mindedly.
“What was that?”
Oh, nothing. It was nothing. Uh… I’ll catch you later Twilight.” Dash vanished in a bolt of color, blazing away. “Well that was odd, normally Rainbow can tell me, especially if it might help another pony. I’ll just have to do some investigating by myself then.” Twilight picked up her lunch basket and trotted back to the library. Wondering the whole time what could be going on, how many ponies knew even. It’s not like HiLite was very open. She’d only ever come to town to get some groceries or to fix something for Somepony if a machine broke. “Hey Spike I’m back, did you get all the books but back?”
“What do you think?” Spike groaned from underneath a pile a books, drumming his claws on the floor.
“Oh my, here let me help you.” Twilight lifted the books up enough so Spike could crawl out.
“Thanks.” He brushed himself off.
“Well I’ll let you get back to work I’ve got some working to do.” Twilight headed up stairs to the observation deck where her telescope was.
“Um, Twilight? What are you doing?”
“Huh!? Oh, um… just uh, looking at stars?”
“Uh Twilight it’s the middle of the afternoon.”
“Just calibrating it for tonight?” She said innocently.
“Okay, I’ll leave you alone sheesh.” Spike headed back down stairs to continue his work.
“Phew, that was a close one.” Twi said aloud. She carefully spun the telescope around and aimed it more in an earthly direction, towards Sweet Apple Acres. She could see Applejack working, Big Mac plowing… the CMC’s clubhouse. She kept scanning until she settled her focus on the old worn down barn that HiLite called home. Actually now that she thought about it, she never did call it home, just the shop. “Okay, now to just wait and watch.”
Twilight spent the rest of the afternoon watching, it was boring, tedious and in the end her eyes hurt. Maybe it would work better if she waited till tomorrow. After all HiLite had said she needed to sleep. She left the telescope and trotted downstairs. It would be dark soon, and tomorrow was a brand new day, which might just hold the answers she sought.