An Engineered Friendship

by Engiminer

First published

A human arrives in Ponyville at the beginning of the first episode, escaping from zombies on Earth.

A human male (16 years old) arrives in Ponyville at the beginning of the first episode. He teleported there to escape the zombies plaguing his Earth, though Engiminer had no control over where the teleporter took him. He fights for acceptance and alongside the Mane Six in the battle against Nightmare Moon.
Please keep in mind that this is my first attempt at storywriting, constructive criticism is welcome.
Teen for mild language.

Chapter 1

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“Oh thank GOD!!! The teleporter worked! Now, um… Where am I..?”

I slowly picked myself up off the ground, alert for any threats. A murky forest surrounded me. It seemed strangely familiar. “Oh, no. Don’t tell me I just teleported to another part of the planet…” My voice trailed away as an overgrown path catches my eye. It bent away from my field of vision in both directions. I decided to go right. I kept my right hand on my holster, where my magnum was held. Call me paranoid, but a few years of surviving the zombie apocalypse have kinda made me suspicious of dark, dank, muddy forests in which the canopy blocks out half the light. After fifteen uneventful minutes (not even some small animals to hunt), I rounded a bend and was startled to see a small home carved into a tree.

“Whoa. Why do I have a sudden feeling of déjà vu? I haven’t seen any place like this on Earth. Why can’t I shake the feeling that I know this place?” My stomach rumbled. I was starving; the teleportation had taken more out of me than I realized! I smelled something cooking inside, so I knew I could count zombies out of the equation. I pulled out my magnum and pictured it as a Tranquilizer pistol. It was difficult to do in my starved state. All I could think of was food. The magnum slowly turned into a suppressed Tranquilizer pistol. The refuge with food inside seemed too good to be true, and I had long since learned that that gut feeling was right 99% of the time. I cautiously approached the house, quickly, quietly, and crouched low to the ground, FBI style. I sneak up to a window and peer inside - and fall back flat on my ass in surprise.

There was a zebra in there! Mixing something in a cauldron! “That’s… That’s impossible…”, I whispered to myself. I couldn’t tell if I should be laughing out loud like my hunger hallucinations were telling me to do, or if I should be scared out of my wits because of where me teleporter took me. “That’s not Zecora. That can’t be Zecora. If that’s Zecora, then I’m in Everfree Forest! If I am in Everfree Forest, then I am in Equestria!” Wait, I thought. Is that such a bad thing? Should I go knock on the door, or head the other direction to Ponyville? I decided to go to Ponyville instead. At least there I have some idea of what to do. I turn tail and hoof it in the other direction for 25 minutes. I began to hear shouts, laughs, and calls from Ponyville, so I knew I was getting close. I creeped up to the edge of the forest and looked over the bushes to the wonderful town.

The sound coming from my stomach presently sounded like a friggin’ manticore. I needed to lay low, so I pulled out my DS flipped it open, turned it on, and pressed a few buttons. A bright light shined out of the DS and into my mind, where it read the picture inside. The light engulfed my entire body. When it dimmed, the DS turned off. I looked down and see powder-blue hooves. I looked up and see a light blue horn. I looked at my flank and found my cutie mark: a shield with a pickaxe crossed over a spanner wrench.

I grinned. "Sweet." I focused some energy through it. A translucent blue pickaxe slowly materialized. Then my stomach growled again, and the pick fizzled away. God, I need something to eat NOW. Damn, I don't have any sort of Equestrian money on me, and it feels REALLY wrong to filch something in freakin' EQUESTRIA. I mean, this place is almost specifically geared towards morals! ...I guess this means I should work on my swearing, too...

I walked out of Everfree Forest towards Ponyville, getting used to the fact that I have four legs. I sneaked in through an alleyway between two houses. I approached the town square, then froze as I heard a loud gasp to my left. I quickly look for the source of of the gasp, trying my best not to look like a fugitive. I relaxed when I saw (holy crap!) a confused Twilight Sparkle watching a pink blur (HOLY CRAP!) speed away.

"Well, THAT was interesting," I heard Twilight tell Spike. Jeebus, did I go back in time when I teleported? Paging Doctor Whooves, paging the Doctor... Wait. If my memory serves me correctly, Twilight is about to be introduced to the Apple family. I'm also new around here. I'm sure they will let me sample some goods too. I am certainly new around here... I tailed Twilight and Spike to Sweet Apple Acres, still getting used to this new mode of transportation and memorizing my way around town.

I waited for about a half minute after Twilight and Spike enter the form before walking under the arch myself. Just in time, too, because Twilight was reluctantly taking her seat when I called out, "Hello? Is this the Apple Family Orchard?" A question with an obvious question, I know, but would any new arrival NOT ask that question?

Applejack trotted over to me. Wow. They look a lot prettier in person. Stunning, in fact. This terrain may be more difficult to traverse than I thought. Applejack greeted me with her predictable southern hospitality: "Why, yes it is! This 'ere is Sweet Apple Acres, home to the tastiest apples in all of Equestria! We were just about to introduce Twi' here to the Apple Family!" Ho, boy... "Mah name's Applejack. What's yours?"

"Engiminer," I reply, after a short pause. No need for false names here; it's not like anyone knows about humans, except Lyra.

"Engiminer?" she repeats. "All righty then, take a seat next to Twi' over there and we'll get started!"

I sat down as best as I could next to "Twi'" and the introduction began. "Mah name is Applejack, and this here is Apple Fritter, Apple Cobbler, Apple..." I tuned her out after that. I was too busy getting used to the fact that I was sitting so close to freaking TWILIGHT SPARKLE and freaking APPLEJACK. I mean seriously, who GETS that kind of opportunity?! More importantly, I was trying not to drool at all the delicious food being piled up in front of me. "...Applebloom, Big Macintosh, AAAANNNNNDDD GRANNY SMITH! ...Granny Smith, wake up! We got guests!"

Granny Smith snorted herself out of her sleep. "Eh? What?"

"Well, this is all very nice, but I really need to get going," said Twilight, searching for a way out of staying for much longer.

"You're not even gonna stay for brunch?" I looked down and saw Applebloom with a look that would have convinced a starving man to part with the last cookie on Earth.

Twilight sighed. "Fine." Everypony cheered. She started eating. I was just about to dig in too, when my stomach let out the loudest growl yet. I froze with my mouth wide open as everyone looked around for the monster attacking the farm. One by one, those two dozen pairs of eyes settled on my gut.

Granny Smith cleared her throat. "If you like," she offered, "you can as much of that home as you can carry."

"I just might take you up on that offer." And with that, I ate till it hurt, ate a little more, then loaded up a couple baskets with the leftovers and set off towards the edge of Everfree Forest. I used force fields to fell some trees and refine the wood. I used the planks to lay the foundation for the house. The bark I used for the outer walls. I did this while drawing up the blueprint for the house on paper. Suddenly, I noticed a sudden change in sunlight. "That's weird. It was cloudy just ten seconds ago." Then I smiled, realizing Rainbow Dash had just completed Twilight's challenge. I continued building my house. Naturally, the new construction attracted quite a crowd, but half the population appeared to be attending a party at the library. I chuckled, knowing exactly what Twilight was thinking: "Confound these ponies. They drive me to insomnia!"

Chapter 2

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I shouldn't have laughed so soon. Even though I had magic to help me build the house, I can't exactly sprout a house out of the ground in a matter of hours, like I do in Minecraft. So I had to sleep in a spare bed in - you guessed it - the library. I was a bit more persistent than Twilight, but in the end, I had no choice but to go join the festivities. I pounced down the stairs just in time to see Twilight take a long sip of the hot sauce she had poured into her drink while Pinkie Pie was babbling incessantly to her. Then, Twilight's hair burst into flames and fire shot out of her mouth. She ran out side to guzzle some water. I slowly trotted towards the table and looked for something to drink, making sure to steer clear of the hot sauce. I was inspecting something that looked suspiciously like whiskey (alcohol? In EQUESTRIA?!) when I was startled by a familiar gasp behind me. I turned and found an overjoyed Pinkie Pie staring at me.

"TWO new ponies?" she exclaimed. "In one day?! And they're both unicorns! What are the chances of that!"

"Pretty slim, I'd say." I tried to back away from that chatterbox, but the drink table was right behind me. I watched that vibrating pink electric toothbrush in front of me and just had to ask: "Do you take caffeine?"

She paused. "Huh?" she asked with a quizzical look.

"You know," I elaborated, "coffee, soda, et cetera?"

"Never heard of that stuff. Sounds tasty though!" Her excited vibrations started up again. She was a stationary pink blur. "I really like sugar though! I practically live off of pastries, apples, and apple pastries!"

"Uh, huh." I gave up looking for a way away from the pink hummingbird wing, knowing she would just follow me anyway. I decided to enjoy the conversation.

"So you're Engiminer?"

"How-? How did you know my name?"

Berry Punch walked over, overhearing the conversation. "It's just the way Pinkie is. We all learn not to question it. You drinkin' that?" She gestured at the whiskey I had been inspecting a minute earlier.

"Uhh, no?"

"Cool. Thanks." She snatched the bottle out of my grasp and took a big swig.

"Wow." I said. That pony can really hold her liquor!

"Well," Pinkie said, "I am gonna go see how the others are enjoying the party! See you later Engiminer!" She bounced away, swinging her plot from side to side. My eyes followed for a few seconds. Then I shook my head to clear my mind of her plot, and went outside to check on Twilight. She was just hanging out outside waiting for the party to be over.

"Hey, you alright? That hot sauce looked pretty strong!"

"Yeah, I'm fine... I was trying to have a nice sleep like a normal pony, when suddenly laughter and screaming are going on just below me. Then Pinkie Pie bounds up the stairs and starts rambling, 'Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie and I threw this party JUST for YOU!!!'" She sighed. "I know, I sound like a complete jerk, don't I?"

"Not at all. My mom has a much worse attitude when she's tired." Or, at least, she used to before she was bit. Twilight giggled, which of course made me grin like an idiot. What the hell? If these ponies are cute enough to make me grin like this, I'd hate to see Fluttershy! "Well, I'll talk to you later, Twilight. I would like to do a bit more work on my house before the Summer Sun Celebration."

"Umm, okay. I'll see you tomorrow, then." Twilight became noticeably nervous when I mentioned the momentous occasion going on the next morning. Understandable, because Nightmare Moon was to make her dramatic appearance there. Twilight took a deep breath and headed back inside to brave the gauntlet. I turned around and headed back to my partly-built home. I focused on making my bedroom livable so I could sleep, and I managed a couple hours of sleep before the excited words of ponies going to the town hall for the Celebration acted as my alarm clock. I loaded my pack with food and water and set it by my bed for later. I picked up my human jetpack and touched it with my glowing horn. I put on my new jet saddle, and strapped it on tight almost tight enough to restrict blood flow.

"Ready for anything." I muttered. "The enemy stands no chance."

Chapter 3

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Everypony, including Mr. Fakepony, trotted up to the town hall and went inside. Pegasi took "seats" in mid-air to save room on the floor and in the balconies.

I took up position near the bird orchestra, led by Fluttershy. She is adorable on the show, so I'm sure you can imagine that she was even more so in person. She was the kind of adorable that makes you want a hug more than anything, makes you want to defend her from any threat. Her smile was a cure for suicidal tendencies and cancer, but it still gave you diabetes. Then, I realized I was staring. I blushed and looked for other things to attract my attention.

I looked to the balcony stage, where Rarity (with her obviously exquisite mane) was holding the curtain rope. To my left was Pinkie Pie rambling at poor Twilight, who looked like she was trying to find a polite way to tell Pinkie to PLEASE SHUT UP. On the opposite side of the room was Rainbow Dash and Applejack having an arm wrestle to pass the time. I looked up and saw (D'AAAWWW) Derpy Hooves munching on a muffin in all her ditzy, cross-eyed glory.

Then the Mayor Mare tapped on the mic to get our attention. Everyone shifted their attention towards the front of the room to the proud Mayor. She began her introductory speech, but I wasn't listening. I was too busy getting myself ready for Nightmare Moon.

I glanced over at Twilight. Pinkie had stopped talking long enough to listen to the Mayor, and Twilight was understandably more apprehensive then I was. I glared at the blacony stage as the Mayor finished her speech and Rarity pulled back the curtain. The collective gasp was deafening. Surprise, surprise, Celestia was nowhere in sight. As the Mayor tried to restore order, a sparkling dark-purple haze appeared onstage. This is it. The haze transformed into Nightmare Moon, and there was immediate silence.

"Oh, it has been so long since I have seen you ponies..." Wow. I just realized how much she reminds me of GLaDOS. "I doubt anypony here even remembers me..." She stroked Fluttershy, who was positively SHAKING, under the chin with her translucent mane. Remember my "defend her from anything speech"? Well, my blood was beginning to boil. The concealed jets in my saddle popped out and fired, raising me into the air.

"Hold it right there Moon Mare!" I called. Her attention averted, I smirked. "Did you find out whether or not you liked bananas... ON THE MMOOOOOONN?" I watched her rage build inside of her and laughed out loud. "Or were you fighting complete and utter boredom for a thousand years?"

"You have NO IDEA what it's like being on that damn moon!" She growled. Her horn glowed brightly. I knew what was coming. Her lighting struck, only to be absorbed by the lightning rod on my forehead. I charged, channeling the electricity into one hoof. When I got close enough, I unleashed a Megaton Hook with the electrified hoof. The effect wasn't as painful as I'd hoped, but it definitely left a dent in her helmet and certainly knocked her down. She got up slowly, and stared at me as though she had never seen a unicorn. Her horn flashed, and I was encased in a block of glass. Only my head showed.

"I have never seen a fighting style like yours. You're not from here, are you?"

"You haven't been around here lately yourself, miss!" I cackled. "And I ain't teachin' my style, either; it's rather personalized."

"Personalized?" She chuckled. "Ah. I see..." Another blinding flash from her horn shattered my glass prison. As I landed on my feet, there was another collective gasp. I looked at the other ponies, and to my surprise, they were backing away from me! I looked towards Pinkie Pie, and she stared straight back like I was an axe murderer! Everypony had the same fearful face.

"What is everypony afraid of?" That's when it hit me. I'd landed on my feet! Not my hooves! "Oh, no." I looked down and saw my heavy duty jeans and steel-toe boots. I stared at my ten fingers in horror. "NONONONONONONONONONO!" I looked up at Fluttershy. When my eyes met hers, she squeaked, her wings snapped to her sides, and she fell and landed on someone else. Great. Now she needs protection from me. I felt horrible, like a monster. Tears sprang to my eyes as I looked towards Nightmare Moon once more. Through my blurry vision, I could see her smirk, and I realized she had been waiting for the eye contact.

"How do you like THEM bananas?"

That did it. I was finished. I jetted out of the town hall. Ponies screamed as I flew by, digging my depression abyss deeper. I zoomed into my home... No. Not my home. My temporary lodgings. I was never my home. I zoomed inside, grabbed my food and water pack, and a matchbook. I lit a match, and let it fall on a pile of sawdust. Within minutes, the skeletal house was up in flames. Tears fell down my face as I turned my back on Ponyville and entered Everfree Forest. I softly sang "Welcome to my Life" as dark purple clouds drowned out the rising sunlight.

Chapter 4

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I had been sitting on a log for the past half-hour, weighing my options. I could head to Canterlot, and pray that my charade works there. I ruled that out, because I didn't want to pretend any longer. That, and the fact that I was sure that the journey was at least three weeks long, and I would be lucky if my supplies held out for three days.

Maybe Zecora will take me in? I'm sure she knows what it's like to be different. But what if she's afraid of me too? I won't have anywhere left to turn! All I will have left is a mercy bullet...

Suddenly an snapping twig yanked me out of my depressing thoughts. My head snapped up and to the left as the Mane Six ponies rounded a bend and catch sight of me. I expected them to scream or gasp and run away, but only Fluttershy shrank back. Twilight - to my immense surprise - smiled with genuine relief.

"Oh good," she sighed, one hoof over her heart. "I thought you would have gone much farther than this."

"I don't exactly have anywhere else to go." I replied glumly. I wasn't about to let myself feel much hope, lest it be dashed against the jagged rocks of jaggedness.

Pinkie Pie bounced up to me like a rubber ball. "YoucouldgobacktoPonyville!" she buzzed. Applejack shushed her.

Rainbow Dash (Rainbow D'AWW) flew up and held out a hoof. "Or you could stick with us!" She said with her usual confidence. "Name's Rainbow Dash. Your's?"

"Engiminer." I said. "I was going to change it, but I think it suits me too well to get rid of." I grab hold of her hoof to shake it, but she flaps hard a few times and pulls me to me feet.

"Ah figured yah were lying about yer name." Applejack said, crossing her forelegs and giving me a knowing look. "Yah had a bit of a pause before saying it. But Ah fed yah all the same. It wouldn't 'ave been good of me to turn you away because Ah was suspicious."

"So..." I was a bit confused. "...I'm being accepted?" I asked hopefully.

Dash fell to the ground, clutching her sides with laughter. "Wow!" she gasped out between laughs. "THAT'S an epic conversation killer if I've ever heard one. Yes, you are being accepted."

Twilight cut in: "I hope you won't mind an interview with me and Lyra, however." She clapped her hooves with excitement. "This is an EXCELLENT opportunity to learn about another sentient species that knows speech!"

Something occurred to me: "Hey, wait a minute! How are we speaking the same language? I'm from a different planet! Or is it a different dimension? Universe? Ugh, I don't know. Don't care, either. Maybe the ambient magic acts as an automatic translator, or maybe it's just coincidence. It is ambient magic, right? The horn just helps you focus it? Maybe -"

Finally Rainbow threw her forelegs into the air, shouting: "We don't have time for this! All of our introductions to science can be made later! Right now we need to stop Nightmare Moon!" She pointed deeper into the forest.

"Right. O-Of course. If I could have a quick introduction to the other two..?" I asked. I already knew them, of course. But that was going to be my secret. It's not like they would ever find out, anyway.

Rainbow looked to Twilight, who replied "C'mon, everlasting night can wait a couple more minutes." She directed her next instructions to me. "But Rainbow Dash is right. The sooner we stop her, the better it is for everypony," She smiled. "or everyBODY, in this case. You have five minutes, and then we need to move. Rarity! You're up first."

Rarity stepped forward. "That would be me, dear. I'm the tailor in Ponyville, and my specialty is formal attire."

"That's a great mane you've got, Rarity." Call it plot-kissing, call it flattery, call it what you like. I call complimenting her mane self-preservation!

She blushed, then smoothed her mane (though it looked exactly the same afterwards). "Oh, you can't be all bad; you certainly have an eye for fashion."

"Not really. I just know something that looks nice when I see it."

She giggled, then pulled herself together. She looked over her shoulder and called out gently. "Fluttershy, sweetie, come out and introduce yourself."

Fluttershy hesitated, then slowly walked out from behind her friends.

"Um, I'm Flutter..." She refused to make eye contact.

"What was that?"

"I'm Flutt..."

"Come again?"

She *squeaked* and faced her head away.

I knelt down in front of her. "Fluttershy, is it? Well, let me tell you a story, Fluttershy. One day, when I was at a summer camp, I was building a sandcastle on a lake-side beach. A butterfly (a monarch, I think) landed next to me, about a foot and a half away. I stopped building, then, careful not to scare it away, I slowly laid down to face it." Fluttershy looked up. One of her eyes was hidden behind her hair. The other looked me straight in the eye. I gently brushed her mane out her away from her eye before I continued. "Ever so slowly, I reached out towards the butterfly." I mimed the action in mid-air. "I was able to stroke the entire length of the butterfly's wing three times before it flew away of its own accord."

I looked back at Fluttershy, who just stared back in amazement. Then she gave me a great big hug. I sat in stunned silence for a few seconds before returning it. "No one that is able to touch a butterfly without scaring it away is bad!" She exclaimed. I would come to live off of my twice-weekly Flutterhug.

When she let go, I was as good as new. No, I was better than new. I was new in a new place, without corruption, disease, and pollution. I was in a place where everyone ate and ate healthy, common sense was common, and the people were (usually) rational and reasonable. Sure, it had it's fair share of problems, but nothing that couldn't be solved. It wasn't Heaven, but I'm pretty sure Equestria is as close as you could get without dying.

"So... uh, where ya' headed? Maybe I can be of some assistance."

"We are looking for the Ancient Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters." Twilight replied, a look came across her face, one that only a determined leader can make. She's a pretty badass librarian! "The Elements of Harmony are there, and they are the only things that can stop Nightmare Moon."

"Alrighty then! Let's get moving!" I pause. "So, uh, which way is it?"

"Right along this path, actually."

Rainbow Dash impatiently called out: "So let's get MOVING!!! C'mon, we're burnin' moonlight!"

Chapter 5

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I passed out sandwiches to my new comrades as we walked deeper into the forest. The unicorns levitated the earth ponies' and their own sandwiches so they could eat while they walked. The pegasi flew to keep their hooves free. When the food was finished, I passed out water bottles. When those were empty, I took them back.

"These won't take up much space it my pack," I said. "But, I wonder... The ambient magic is very strong in this dimension, planet, whatever, and I might not need a horn to harness it." I removed the caps from each bottle and put them in my jet pack. It would automatically break the plastic down into oil, and therefore fuel. Then I focused on the bottles. A faint blue aura surrounded them and levitated them into the air. The same aura illuminated my hand. My hand shook as I closed my fist, and the bottles collapsed onto themselves and made a small plastic ball. I opened my hand again, and the bottle ball dropped to the ground. I picked the ball up and inspected it. "Interesting... Apparently, it is a LOT easier to utilize ambient magic with a horn, but anyone with at least some knowledge of how it works can use it, if there is enough raw power around and within you."

Twilight said, "There is massive amounts of knowledge on how to utilize magic, but few know anything about how it actually works, or where it came from."

A frustrated Rainbow Dash interrupted, "Oh, come on, not this again! We can get back to the science later! I don't mean to rush everypony, but we have a forest to get through!"

Applejack and Pinkie Pie nodded their approval. Rarity interjected, "Dash is right. We have a task that needs to be completed before anything else."

Twilight inquired, "So, I take it none of you have been in this forest before?"

"Heavens, no!" Rarity exclaimed. "Why, look at this place. It's absolutely dreadful!"

"And it ain't natural." Applejack added. "Ah hear it don't work like the rest of Equestria. Ah wonder why?"

"NOOO PONY KNOWS!" cried Rainbow Dash, taking the opportunity to scare her friends.

"Rainbow!" Applejack scolded. "Cut it out!" Uh, oh. Here it comes.

"'Cause nopony who has ever gone in, has ever come back OUT!"

As if on cue, the ground suddenly gave out below us and everpony but the pegasi began sliding. I slid at first, but regained control by sprinting at the edge of the cliff rather than trying to stop myself. As I ran, I saw Dash grab Pinkie, Flutter stop Rarity, AJ bite down on a root, and Twilight stop at the edge. I reached the cliff, and, without hesitation, leaped off. I righted myself in midair, as if I was trying to land on my feet. I glanced up and saw that Applejack was holding on to Twilight, who was dangling over the edge. I fired my jet pack, which slowed my descent, then rocketed me upwards towards her. I shut the jet pack off just as she let go of Appejack. My momentum carried me forward, and Twilight fell neatly and gently into my arms. She threw her forelegs around my neck before she even realized that I'd caught her and stopped screaming.

"Oh, hello." She said. "Um, thanks."

I grinned. "Just a day in the life of this guy!"

The anti-grav on my jet pack kicked in as we neared the ground. We landed as if we fell from six inches. I set her down, and looked up the cliff face. Applejack bounded down the cliff face, rock by rock. The others were already on the ground.

"Well," I said conversationally, "that was one heck of a shortcut! Now that that horrific incident of terror is over, what say we take five and get back on the road?"

"Make it ten." The unicorns said in unison, shaking from residual fear.

"That is, if you don't mind..." Fluttershy stuttered.

"Take as long as you need!" I agreed cheerily. "But talk to Twilight. She's the organized one."

Twilight was instantly suspicious. "How did you know I was organized?" She asked.

"For starters, you live in a library." I chuckled. "Not many unorganized people would even think to live in a library, let alone enjoy it. Second, I heard you make your own checklists. That's rare, but a good quality to have."

"What about you?" Rainbow Dash asked. "You regained your balance in the landslide, ran at the edge, leaped off like it was the most natural thing in the world, caught Twilight like a little bird, and landed as gently as possible. And all without breaking a sweat!" She looked at me with impressed respect.

I coughed nervously, a bit embarrassed. As much as I like showing off, this is not my time to be a badass hero.

"Sorry 'bout that."

"Sorry?!" Pinkie exclaimed. "You saved Twilight's LIFE! What do you have to be sorry for?"

"The way I was showing off, I put myself and Twi' in danger."

"Well, at least you can admit it." commented Rarity. "I've found few ponies that can apologize for showing off something worth showing off, and lots who brag about absolutely nothing."

"True, but if I didn't have my jet pack on, or it didn't have much fuel, I would not have been so eager to leap, now would I?" I smirked ruefully. "I did NOT just get rescued from spiraling depression to commit accidental suicide because my jet pack peters out too soon. I checked the fuel gauge before regaining my balance. If I hadn't had enough, I would have smashed my pickaxe against the slope to stop myself. Don't get me wrong, I would've still found a way to help, but don't think for a moment that it would have been as efficient, stylish, or flashy without flight."

"You sound pretty organized yourself." Twilight said, smiling with one eyebrow raised.

"Adrenaline scrambles the minds of most, while sharpening the focus of others. I am one of the latter." I frown and hesitate before adding, "In a zombie apocalypse, the ability to think clearly and quickly is one's greatest asset. I... was one of the lucky ones. I am the only one who was able to escape, but I hope that some small pockets of humanity are surviving and rebuilding."

"Z-z-z-zombies?" Fluttershy stuttered. I am a little surprised her name isn't Stuttershy. She dived behind Pinkie Pie.

"That's a story for another time." I replied.

My new friends could see I wasn't going to elaborate anytime soon, so Twilight asked the group: "Has everyone caught their breath?"

Rarity sighed. "I doubt I should bother to clean my hooves before we leave..."

"Ready to move!" said Dash.

"Ready when everypony else is," responded Applejack.

"Letsgoletsgoletsgo!" Pinkie Pie cried. She looked over her shoulder. "How about you, Fluttershy?"

Fluttershy peeked her head over Pinkie's back. "Okay," she breathed.

Twilight clapped her hooves once. "Then it's settled! Let's move out!"

"Ok!" Dash shouted, already rushing forward to lead us on.

Chapter 6

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To pass the time as we walked, the Mane Six ponies interviewed me about life on Earth - both before and after the beginning of the Zombie Armageddon.

"I was apprenticed to an inventor named Roy Scott. He was like a second father to me. He was also the last human I saw fall to those cannibalistic freaks. He activated the teleporter on his final breath." I sighed as a single tear fell down my cheek. "He was the man that gave me these." I held out the DS and my pistol. "He was experimenting with something called 'artificial magic'. His reasoning was: 'If an illusionist can pretend to do it, a scientist should be able to perfect it.' He gave me these because I was the only one who believed in him."

Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie could barely contain their curiosity. "Well, c'mon! What do they do?!"

"A handheld game system was a perfect housing for this little device." I held up the DS, grinning. The grin faded fast as a look of horror scrawled itself across my face. "Um, R-R-Rainbow?" I stammered, pointing behind her. "W-What's that?!"

They whirled around and found... nothing but trees. They turned back, annoyed. Rainbow Dash asked, "Alright, what's the big ide-" She froze when she saw me - or rather, herself. "What the hay?"

I grinned again and chuckled. "That's funny," I spoke with her voice, "When did this mirror get here?" I opened my DS again and changed into the Team Fortress 2 Spy. (Note: I have a few other video game references in this story. Some are subtle, others aren't.) "Gentlemares." I said in a prim, dignified voice. Then I changed back into myself.

"That. Was. AWESOME!" Rainbow exclaimed.

We heard a roar coming from a gap in the rocks ahead. Fluttershy squeaked, Twilight gulped, and Rarity gasped. I tensed up. "Now to demonstrate Weapon X."

Fluttershy flashed me a disapproving look. "Weapon X?" she asked. I could tell by the tone in her voice and her posture that she hated weapons.

"Don't worry," I reassured her. "I never cause harm if I can help it. For example, thus:" I held up the pistol, now glowing brightly. Its silhouette morphed into that of a shield crest. The light dimmed, and I held I dark purple shield with a bright blue inlay. Engraved into the inlay were pickaxe and spanner wrench from my "Cutie Mark." "Say hello to the Obsidian Cobalt Shield."

"Hello!" called Pinkie, totally forgetting about the roar from the rocks. The source of that roar, a manticore, pounced out and roared again.

Rarity, who was closest, kicked the manticore in the face. "Take that, ruffian!" She taunted. The manticore roared once more, this time at Rarity, messing up her mane. "My hair!" she shouted with dismay. She didn't notice the claw that was rising to cleave her down the middle.

Why isn't she taking notice? I thought, sprinting towards them. She won't have time to dodge! The claw fell. Rarity finally realized the danger she was in and squealed. She rose her forelegs in a feeble attempt to ward off the attack. It never came. *CLANG* Rarity opened her eyes, surprised. I had hopped over Rarity and into the path of the humongous claw. My shield was the only thing between me and a rather ribbon-y fate.

"G-G-GET G-G-GOIN'!" I yelled. She backed away as quickly as her legs could take her. The manticore started slamming on the shield with both paws. My boots started to slide. "Damnit girls! Could use some help here!"

Rainbow dashed above the manticore, and stomped down with both hind hooves, stunning him. I backed off and yelled for Dash to do the same. No dice; she didn't listen. I cringed when the monster slapped her with his scorpion tail. The ponies lined up to charge-

"WAAIIT!" Fluttershy cried out. The others stopped confused. Fluttershy trotted right up to the manticore, who was about to slash when she nuzzled his other paw. The manticore hesitated, then, sensing no threat from the pink-haired pegasus, turned the paw over, revealing a thorn stuck inside.

"Oh, you poor little baby..." she cooed sympathetically.

"Little?" exclaimed Dash with disbelief. The others shushed her.

"Now, this may sting for just a second." Ploink! The manticore roared, scooped her up, and... started licking her. Fluttermedic giggled at the gratitude. The others smiled and waltzed right past. I started to follow them, amazed at Fluttershy's bravery, when the manticore started growling at me! I recoiled, a bit scared and unsure of what to do. Fluttershy placed one hoof against the monster's mouth.

"Shhh..." she whispered gently. She motioned to me with her other hoof. "Keep going!" she whisper-yelled to me. I tip-toed past the creature. The manticore tensed up when I got close, but reassurances from Fluttershy kept him calm. The second I passed the manticore, I bolted to safety. Fluttershy convinced the manticore to put her down, then she trotted over to join us.

"How did you know about the thorn, Fluttershy?" Twilight inquired.

"I didn't!" she replied. "Sometimes, everyone just needs to be shown a little kindness." D'AAWW!!! "Nice shield, by the way. I was expecting something more dangerous."

"If I had been alone, then trust me, I would have done some damage." I said thoughtfully. "But with you all here, I didn't need to, because we had a better option."

"Thank you. I hate violence." Fluttershy sighed. "Too bad there are times when it is the only option."

"Not all the time," I said. "Quite a few hostilities can be diffused with something even easier than a fight." It was my turn to sigh. "Unfortunately, my fellow man didn't seem to think so. Now violence is the only way to deal with zombies. Did I tell you that the entire plague was started when some hostile idiot released the virus onto the planet? It wasn't a natural virus, oh no. It was a military project, made as a weapon that was more devastating than a nuke." I felt my heart grow colder. I spat: "Well it sure hell worked wonders, didn't it?!"

Fluttershy gave me a sympathetic hug that thawed my cold logical heart a bit. "How in heck did you get so adorable?!?" Yeesh, me and my fanboy squeals.

Fluttershy blushed, making her even cuter. I just wanted to scoop her up and squeeze her. I coughed, blushing, and tried to pull myself together.

Pinkie broke the silence while the others stifled laughter. "Well, if everypony is done complimenting each other, those Elements of Harmony aren't going to find themselves!"

Chapter 7

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If you are reading this, I'm sure you've seen the pilot episode, so I won't bore you with the consistencies. All you really need to know is that I played no part in the three obstacles that came next. I am not skipping these parts because they had nothing to do with me. I am skipping them because I don't want to waste our time describing something that you can just as easily find on YouTube or Netflix. I will, however, fast forward to the scene right after crossing the bridge over the ravine.

"I told you guys," Rainbow Dash said with a satisfied smile, "that I NEVER leave my friends hangin'!" I'd drink to that, if I had some water.

I pointed to the crumbling castle ruins in front of us. "Sir Point-Out-the-Obvious-alot spys the... The, uh... What was it called again?"

"The Ancient Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters." Twilight breathed.

Dashie flapped up into the air, then sped towards the door. She tried the knob. "No dice!" she called back. "It's locked!" The others groaned.

"Celestia FORBID it should be easy!" complained Rarity, rather fed up with the mission and irritable because of her missing tail.

Dash backed away from the door, then charged. She bounced off like a basketball off a stiff trampoline. She hit the ground hard, holding one foreleg with the other and screaming with pain. Shy and I ran to her, the others on our heels. Fluttershy gently asked Rainbow Dash to let her get a better look at the injury. She studied the leg intently for a moment, then picked up the injured foreleg. Dashie yelped with pain, and I winced in sympathy. The impact had dislocated her shoulder.

Fluttershy whispered comfortingly in her ear: "This is going to hurt a moment, but it will feel much better." Without giving Rainbow Dash a second to react, she rammed the leg back into its shoulder socket, relocating the joint with a *pop*. Dash screamed with pain, but only for a fraction of a second. The scream rapidly faded into a sigh of relief.

I took out Weapon X, turning it into the TF2 Medigun. "Dash, I know that you are going to be just fine, but this will prevent any bruising and remove any splinters you may have gotten from that door." I pulled the lever on the Medigun, and blue and red streams of light glowed from the nozzle. The red lights phased into her, while the blue skittered over her skin, sealing a couple cuts and removing them without a trace. She hopped up with a smile on her face.

"Whew! I feel good!" She exclaimed, jogging in place. "Haven't had this kind of energy since I was a filly, racing everypony in flight school!"

"Yeah, the Medigun will do that. But don't get cocky," I warned. "that buff is only temporary, and it only strengthens you a bit. It does NOT make you invincible!"

Twilight had been inspecting the door while we were talking to the good-as-new Rainbow Dash. Her horn shined, a mask of concentration plastered onto her face. The shine faded, and Twilight turned back, panting. "Nothing." She said simply. "It must be magically sealed, and I can't penetrate the seal."

"Hmm..." A smile trekked across my face. "I think I can do something." I turned the Medigun into a cannon. I asked Rarity to light the fuse, then yelled to everybody to cover their ears. BOOM I smiled at the door, and my jaw dropped. Not a freaking scratch! "Alright. New tactic." The cannon transformed into a mortar tube. "Cover your ears again, and keep. Them. Closed!" Thoonk Seven to ten seconds later, the explosive round landed with and earth-shattering boom. The pegasi carried the earth ponies up to the hole in the roof, and I carried the unicorns.

The ponies gasped as we dropped through. We were too late. Nightmare Moon was already inside, working out her super-villain laugh. She gestured to the fragments of stone around her. "You are too late! I have already destroyed your precious Elements of Harmony! The night. Will last. FOREVER!" More villain laughter. Man, she gets on my nerves.

Twilight was devastated. "No!" she cried. "That was our only hope!"

Applejack put one hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Not our last hope," she said with conviction.

Dash zoomed up to the other side. "Yeah! We can... convince her to reconsider!" Huh. Her feisty side was more feisty than I thought.

"HUT!" Weapon X was now the Breaker Blade, 10 ridiculously long feet of serrated tempered titanium. I pointed the giant sword at Nightmare. "You stand no chance!" Twilight stared back at her six new friends, all backing her up. The panic slowly gave way to a confident smile. She turned to face the evil astronaut head-on.

"You may have destroyed the STONES, Nightmare, but the Spirits of the Elements of Harmony are right HERE! Applejack, when she reassured me when I was in doubt, represents the Element of... HONESTY!"

Applejack, as well as some of the stone frags in front of Nightmare Moon, levitated high up into the air. Nightmare's eyes widened in horror. "What!?" she cried. "NO!!" The stone frags began to orbit Applejack.

"Fluttershy, who subdued the manticore with compassion rather than violence, represents the Element of... KINDNESS!" Yeah, FlutterSHY! Fluttershy tried in vain to hide from the stone fragments that began to orbit her. Twilight continued:

"Pinkie Pie, who laghed in the face of danger to dispel our fear, represents the Element of... LAUGHTER!

"Rarity, who cut her own tail to benefit the river dragon, represents the Element of... GENEROSITY!" Last one, I thought proudly.

"Rainbow Dash, who couldn't leave her friends for her own heart's desires, represents the Element of... LOYALTY!" Now for Twilight Sparkle herself...

"And finally Engiminer," Wait, WHAT? "who rescued me from a fatal fall, and Rarity from the manticore's claw, and got us into the Castle in the first place; represents the Element of... STRENGTH!"

"Woah, woah, woah, hold on." I protested as I floated up into the air. My Breaker Blade fell out of my hand and fell to the floor with a mighty clang. "I thought there were only six Elements? And how the heck do I have an Element? I'm human!" I couldn't believe the Fragments of Harmony swirling around me.

"And when the, uh, spark, is ignited, it unlocks the Element within us all: the Element of... MAGIC!"

The Fragments of Harmony formed necklaces on each of us. The new Stone of Harmony, Magic, formed a crown on Twilight's head. I looked down at the emblem on my necklace. A shiny purple shield with crossed silver swords reflected my human face. I noticed a pimple on my cheek. Stupid acne! Wow, we humans think of the dumbest things, don't we?

Suddenly, a green light shot out of my necklace, blinding and startling me. My eyes darted around. Sure enough, various colors were pouring out of everyone else's necklaces, too. Twilight's eyes shone a bright, clear, white. Without warning, the colors from our emblems swirled around us, shot up into the air, and came down in a rainbow arc onto Nightmare Moon.


Finally, the colors disappeared. We all landed on our hooves. I opened my eyes and smiled. Princess Luna lay where Nightmare Moon had stood seconds earlier, all the evil and jealousy sucked out by the Elements of Harmony.

"Good work, my little ponies!"

Startled, I looked to my left. Gliding through a busted window was Princess Celestia.

"Princess!" Twilight called, overjoyed to find her teacher unharmed.

"Aw, man!" I cried. "There was a window? Al I needed was a damn sledgehammer! Oops. Need to work on my swearing some more, methinks." I glanced around and found I was the only one not bowing. I hastily closed my eyes and bent down. Celestia made a regal laugh that was somewhere between a giggle and a chuckle. I heard her footfalls (hooffalls?) grow louder as she approached me. I picked my head up and lifted my left eyelid as she spoke.

"I see we have a new addition to Equestria." Celestia bent her head down towards me. "And what might your name be, little one?"

I get out of my bow. "Engiminer." I replied. "I guess this is the first time you have ever seen a human?"

"No, actually. Sometimes humans do make their way here. Usually they are worried about home, but they normally decide to stay. Besides, you are no longer a human."

"Wha'?" I looked down. Hooves. Huh. I really need to pay more attention to myself, don't I? I heard groaning to my right as Luna came to. She slowly got off the floor. She opened her eyes blearily, blinked a few times, and inspected her surroundings. She caught sight of Celestia and gasped. Luna sprinted towards her big sister.

"Oh, Sister! Sister, I am so sorry. I don't know what came over me! Can you ever forgive me?"

"I already have." Celestia replied, nuzzling her little sister's neck. "I missed you so much. Please come back to Canterlot with me."

Luna smiled gratefully, and Pinkie Pie burst into tears. The full-fledged sobbing lasted for two seconds, then dried up immediately. "HEY!" She yelled. "Y'know what this calls for?!"

Chapter 8

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"A PARTY!!!" Back in Ponyville, a town-wide party had commenced. I simply stood on the sidelines, content to watch the festivities from afar. Berry Punch stumbled away from the crowd holding a half empty bottle of fermented apple cider. When she stumbled past me she smelled very strong. She stopped and turned back.

"Heeyy... It's Engi, right?" She slurred.

"Y-Yeah..." I watched her struggle to keep her balance.

"How-d you like ta-"

I cut her off. "I think you ought to go home and sleep that off. That's what I'd like YOU to do."

She shrugged. "Suit yerself." She took another swig of cider and stumbled off. Yeesh, I thought. If Equestria had cars, we would all be friggin' SCREWED.

Pinkie bounded up to me, shaking her plot to Vinyl's beats. "Hey, Engi! Why aren't you partying?"

"Sorry, Pinks. I just get claustrophobic around crowds. In large crowds, they always end up looking like zombies to me."

"How about a dance out here?"

I chuckled. "You sure? I've got four left hooves. Forget your tail; I'd probably end up stepping on your mane!"

She grabbed my hooves and giggled hysterically. "Nonsense!"

"That, and any dances I could think of would probably get me laughed at or attract confusion."

She let go of my hooves and thought for a moment, tapping one hoof against her chin, which made a humorous clopping sound. "Then, you could always go home." She said apologetically.

This time, my laugh was one of sarcasm and scorn. "I didn't think you would miss the blaze going on as you entered Everfree Forest."

Pinkie fell to the ground laughing her plot off. "None of us missed it! And I didn't think YOU would miss that fully-built new house as we were leaving the Forest! Come to think of it, I think Fluttershy is at your place, putting some finishing touches on the landscaping."

"...Wh-What?" I asked softly. I was stunned. I peered over the crowd and saw the gleaming new house. "I... I never... I never expec..." My voice caught in my throat. I felt my eyes burn as they moistened with tears of joy. I gave Pinkie a great big hug - much to her delight - and teleported to the location.

I gazed up at my new home. It was beautiful. "Engiminer?" I heard a voice whisper. A slight jolt went through my body as I heard the voice. I glanced over at Fluttershy and felt another tug of affection. Why does she have to be so cute?! She wore a wide-brimmed summer hat, held a flower basket over her neck, and held a trowel in one hoof. The basket was almost empty and Fluttershy was covered in dirt. She noticed the jump I made when she whispered my name. "Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."

"How did you ponies DO this so quickly? And on such short notice! It's exactly how I wanted it!"

Fluttershy giggled. "Scootaloo found a blueprint near the blaze and recognized it as your unfinished house. She used her scooter to go find Rainbow Dash and show her. Dash in turn informed Mayor Mare, who in turn asked for volunteers to help build your house. By the time we left for Everfree Forest, half of Ponyville was sawing, hammering, and drilling away. It's not done, mind you. There still needs to be plumbing and wiring installed."

"That explains how it was all done so quickly," I breathed. "but the landscaping was definitely not part of the blueprint. Is it all your work?"

"What, in so little time? No, the florist and landscapers did most of it, but I laid the plan out for them before I left. I am just adding a few finishing touches and correcting a couple mistakes."

"It's beautiful." I gushed. And beautiful it was. There was a miniature waterfall. Oak tree saplings lined the cobblestone walkway. But the garden. Oh, man, the garden. The garden was a botanist's wet dream. "It feels so... so... peaceful."

That's when Fluttershy dropped the cute nuke.

She squee'd.

I finally succumbed. I scooped her up into the biggest hug I could muster and didn't let go until two minutes later, with Fluttershy returning the entire hug. I was home at last.


View Online

Ten Months Later

Life in Ponyville is one of the best things to happen to me. In my garden, I plant herbs as ingredients in both meals and medicines. Deep underground, machines pound away, smelting and refining precious metals. Ores are brought in by mining robots powered by solar, wind, and hydroelectric power wired in from above. I have enough energy stored to power America in its wasteful entirety for about a week. The robot miners place all their resources into a vacuum-tube system that sorts everything into alphabetically sorted storage chests. Any cobwebs found underground are processed into silk. After keeping a few rolls of silk for future use, I expanded the pipe system to pass the rest on to Rarity at the Boutique. The only jewel I need is diamond (for extremely efficient drill-bits), but since I can make artificial ones from compressed carbon from coal, I have no use for the real ones. So I keep a couple jewels to admire in my free time, and the rest are also passed on to Rarity. However, I asked Rarity to continue to take Spike on jewel-digging expeditions once a week, for his sake. Of course, Spike normally ends up eating most of the jewels they find anyway, as Rarity now has more jewels than she knows what to do with.

Civil engineering projects I have undertaken include underground desalination stations, which purify water pumped from subterranean springs and aquifers, then distribute it to water towers all over Equestria. After locating waterfalls while setting up these water towers, I created hidden hydroelectric power stations concealed in the rock, hidden by the very falls that power the stations. The electricity powers many major cities, and quite a few not-so-major ones. I supply factories in major industrial towns with metal and other supplies, and make a great deal of money from it. I am the second richest pony in Ponyville, behind Filthy Rich. I have industrialized my own little section of Equestria.

And now I'm bored. I have nothing else to build, improve, or industrialize. Sure, I do maintenance every now and again on my machines, AJ's auto harvester (I'll get to that in a little while), the desalination stations, etc; but that is usually but replacing a part, changing a battery, or cleaning a filter. When Princess Celestia or Princess Luna stay in their vacation home here in Ponyville, I work alongside Shining Armor as the Captain's right-hoof colt. When they are back in Canterlot, I am Ponyville's Chief of Police.

But who the heck attacks Equestria? Only a complete and utter dick would. So, I have deactivated all my automatic defenses (though I left my security cameras on in case of that complete and utter dick), and every once in a while I put a fresh coat of rust-proof paint on my concealed sentry guns. But when it comes to industry, I'm done.

Of course, I only built things when I wasn't hanging out with my new friends. Or sometimes, I would build as a direct result of hanging with them. For example: I build a spring-loaded launch-pad for Rainbow Dash's crazy stunts. For Applejack's use during applebucking season, I constructed an automatic apple harvester based off of Flim and Flam's cider juicer machine. There are three differences: quality control can't be turned off, the only speed setting is gentle enough not to damage the apples, and juicing is optional. I also designed painless traps that to this day still prevent Fluttershy's chickens from leaving their coop.

But enough about my accomplishments. I know I must be coming across as conceited right about now. So I will summarize what has happened these past ten months. One event in particular stands out:

The entrance to my basement (my base of industrial operations) is iris-locked, hoof-print locked, weight-sensitive pressure plate locked, and voice-recognition-password locked. And an Abrams tank couldn't knock that door down. My basement is DEEP underground (so ponies up above don't hear or feel the pounding of heavy machinery down below), and houses all my machines, pipe system, and all of the entrances into my mines. None of these mines touch the surface, never come close. Even IF other ponies knew my password, they would have to say it in my EXACT voice, so I am the ONLY one with access to my base(ment) of operations. I tell you all this so you know it is IMPREGNABLE.

One day, I went downstairs to turn on my machines. I opened the door at the bottom of the stairwell and...


"SONOFA-!" I whipped out my revolver and had almost taken aim when I realized who had penetrated my security. All of the Mane Six, plus Spike, were standing in front of me! And Pinkie Pie held a giant cake with 17 candles on it! "Gack!" I panted. "How? But... That's... What? You... Gah!" I holstered my .357 magnum and went on a short tirade: "Don't you EVER do that to me again! I lived through a frikkin' zombie apocalypse. I DON'T. LIKE. SURPRISES. Jesus Christ..!"

Pinkie Pie started giggling like crazy. I softened. I just can't stay mad at that happy-go-lucky pony. "Happy 17th Birthday, Engiminer!"

"How did you know it was my birthday? And that I was seventeen? And, more importantly, HOW DID YOU GET IN HERE?!?!"

Twilight chuckled. "I honestly don't know! Pinkie Pie just asked us to close our eyes, and when we opened them, here we were."

Rainbow Dash cut in, "There was no woosh, no bright light, no weird wind, no feeling of motion, no NOTHING! It's as if time froze and we just..." Her voice trailed off as she searched for a good word.

"...And our location just transitioned right under us." Applejack finished for the rainbow-haired mare.

I couldn't resist a jibe. "Ah, finishing each other's sentences for one another now, are we?" I busted up laughing as the pair turned a deep red.

"Now ya'll hold on just an applebuckin' minute..." Applejack protested.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." I gasped out between laughs. "I couldn't resist."

"So, where are we?" Rarity asked, trying to change the subject. "I noticed the machines and the metallic rocks in the pipes overhead. Does that mean we're in your industrial, ah, hub? Headquarters?

I got off the floor, shaking the rest of my mirth away. "My basement, actually." I shot Pinkie a meaningful glare. "The stone-craved room that was supposed to be impregnable."

She gave me a sly wink. "Screw physics. I'm Pinkie Pie!" She said with a mischievous grin.

Applejack spoke up again. "Have ya'll forgot'n what we came here for in the first place?" Blank looks all around.

Fluttershy cleared her throat and pointed at the cake. The candles had almost burned down to the blue icing. Even though my security had been ripped through by Pinkie Pie like it was tissue paper, I couldn't help but grin at the delicious looking cake with its seventeen candles. My friends sang "Happy Birthday" while I sucked up a big lungful of air. As the song ended I shot "bullets" of air out of my mouth to extinguish each candle. My wish? For some way to make my Flutterhugs more frequent.

I brought my broadsword down on the cake to make eight slices, one for each of us. I noticed Spike start drooling.

"Your favorite sword?" Twilight asked. "Are you sure?"

I laughed. "It's not like I have any OTHER use for it." I replied. I passed out the cake. Spike dug in immediately. He pulled his face back a half-minute later, covered in cake and icing.

"Delicious!" He exclaimed. Everypony laughed. I gave the cake a taste. My eyes widened when it touched my tongue. Spike was right. It was heavenly!

"I am not worthy for this recipe! But I gotta have it anyway!" I gushed. The cake was moist, light, and airy, and the frosting was obviously made from scratch. "Did you bake this, Pinks?" I inquired. She was visibly delighted by the question, but she shook her head.

"Nope. I helped and provided a few tips, but I didn't make it. Try again."

I took another taste. I detected a hint of apple cinnamon. That was Applejack's secret ingredient in a lot of her recipes. "AJ? Isn't apple cinnamon YOUR thing?"

She grinned. "Good attention to detail! And it sure is. But Ah only gave the baker a couple ingredients. Ah went nowhere near the stove."

I chewed slowly. "I would guess Mr. and Mrs. Cake, but this has a certain personality that commercial professionalism simply removes..."

Spike: "...Um, in Equestrian, please?"

Twilight elaborated, "I think he means that the Cakes wouldn't be able to put so much personality into the birthday cake because baking is their job."

"Spot on." I replied. I took another bite, but paid close attention to the texture. The cake was light and soft. The frosting was gentle and plush. Both the cake and the frosting gave easily to pressure, but sprang back immediately. Suddenly, the realization smacked me in the face with a rubber glove with a brick in it. "Fluttershy! I didn't know you could bake!"

She blushed and gave me a shy smile. "I had help, of course, Pinkie mostly. The Cakes also gave me a hoof. Angel Bunny found the recipe in a book, but marked out some ingredients, forcing me to improvise."

"Great improv you got there."

I finished my cake and Pinkie started bouncing. "Present time?"

Cue a smart-alack-y remark from yours truly. I check my watch. "Present time is... 1:27 pm." The looks of disappointed surprise made me laugh. "Alright, alright, whatcha got for me?" Sunshine smiles reappeared, and the ponies dashed into the next room.

They wheeled out a cart with one small box, a medium box, a large box, and a huge box. "How's about I work from smallest to largest?" The unicorns grinned at each other, and Dashie, AJ, and Pinks tried hard not to laugh.

I picked up the smallest box and popped the top. Inside was a jumbo jar of zap apple jam and a pair of aviator's goggles. The goggles looked oddly familiar...

"Wait a minute... Rainbow! These aren't Wonderbolt goggles, are they?"

She snickered. "You have no IDEA how hard it was to convince Spitfire that they were for your birthday and not for me!"

"These are SPITFIRE'S?" I asked, incredulous.

She laughed. "No, no. If they were, I'd be keeping them for myself. I did, however, ask her to get a new pair for you. I wasn't exactly begging, but I was definitely pestering. You owe me for that one."

"Agreed. And Applejack? I thought zap apple ended three months ago, and you sold out two weeks later. How..?"

"Zap apple jam keeps for a long time. And no matter how much somepony wants some jam, we always keep some for special occasions," She chuckled here. "and your first birthday seemed special enough."

Spike sighed. "Gee, now I feel bad. I don't have anything to give you."

"Don't feel bad, Spike" I patted his head. "Just being present in present enough!"

"And besides!" Twilight interjected, "this one is from both of us!" She levitated the medium purple box off the cart and set it down with a heavy thud in front of me. I untied the green bow and removed the top. Inside was...

"A typewriter!" Twilight said. "I would have given you a book, but Spike said if you wanted that, you could just come to the library. So I ordered this from Canterlot so you could make write your own!"

Underneath the typewriter was a stack of paper, which Twilight explained was a starter pack. I placed the gift box, typewriter, paper, and all, into a vacuum tube set to {Fragile} and sent it to the surface, where it would find a home in my study.

"Okay! Second to last gift."

This box was lavishly designed, so I didn't even need to glance at the name tag to know it was from Rarity. I opened the top and levitated out a tuxedo. I flashed Rarity a look that said, 'Wait, what?'

Rarity knew what the look meant. "Yes, darling, I know, 'Why am I getting a tuxedo for my birthday?' The Grand Galloping Gala is next week, and you need formal attire for it. You also mentioned you were going to help Shining Armor with security, so... Well, just put it on and you will see the method to my madness."

Rarity helped me get the tux on, and I noticed rather quickly that it was heavy, thick, and stiff.

"Rarity? Is this formal ARMOR?"

"Yes!" She answered. "I left some space in the Kevlar in the sides and top for any gadgets or weapons you might want to put in."

I was impressed to say the least. "How did you work with the Kevlar?" I asked. "That stuff is impossible to work with by hand - er, hoof, yet the suit fits me like a glove - em, sock."

"I didn't do anything with the Kevlar except cut out the gaps. I ordered the form of the Kevlar from YOU, ironically, and made the tux around it. I just put it together."

I looked in a nearby mirror. Normally, I can't stand formal attire, but this looked great. Satin black jacket, white silk undershirt, and a small cute bowtie. "Bowties are cool." I whispered to myself. I am such a Doctor Whooves nerd. I turned back to the group. "I look like a regular James Bond. All I need now are the gadgets!"

"Oh, and by the way," Rarity informed me, "the tux can be separated from the Kevlar for cleaning."

I took a couple minutes to take off the formal armor and put it on a makeshift mannequin.

"Okay! Last one. This one's huge!" The others tried to stifle their guffaws and failed miserably. As I pulled the bow to untie it, I finally noticed a certain pony's absence. "Hey, where's Fluttershy?" I asked, absentmindedly pulling at the bow. The second the knot came loose, my answer hurtled towards me at twenty-five miles per hour.

WHAM!!! Fluttershy hit me with a flying tackle-hug that knocked me to the ground. She squeezed for a good ten seconds before helping me up.

"F-Fl-Flut-Fluttershy?" I stammered, blushing at the affection. "What- Why- How are YOU my present?"

She giggled and gave me another hug before replying. I felt my skin tingle where she made contact. "We realized how bored you were with nothing to build or protect, so I decided to give you a job."

"Uh, a job?" 'Tis confusion!

"Yep. You can be my bodyguard."

I was already sold, but I didn't want to sound so eager so soon. "There's nothing to protect you from."

She was prepared for that argument. "Then it shouldn't be too hard for you to earn an irrefutable salary."

I thought I was going to be "working" for free. "A salary?" I queried. "But for the months that I have been here, I haven't seen any discernable source of income for you, and I have no idea how you manage to take care of all your animals. I doubt you would be able to afford one bit an hour. A day, maybe, but a bit a day isn't exactly what any of us call 'irrefutable.'"

I'd walked right into her trap. She grinned coyly. "I never said your payment would be in bit form." She whislpered to me.

Now I was getting suspicious, not to mention nervous.

"Your hourly wage will be one of these, plus expenses." And with that she gave me another hug, this one more gentle and heartfelt than the other two. "Expenses will also be paid in hugs." Helloooooo, dream job.

"One more question," I said, returning the hug.

"Hmm?" She pulled her head back to get a better look at my face.

"When do I start?" I asked, grinning from ear to ear.

Fluttershy answered immediately: "Right now, if you want."

"I wonder if this is a coincidence, or if birthday wishes actually come true in Equestria."

Pinkie, the party expert, answered, "That depends on how vague and realistic your wish was. Vague ones can come true, if they are realistic enough. Specific ones are harder to grant."

"How vague is 'I wish my Flutterhugs could be more frequent?'"

"Vague enough to be granted! Still, you're lucky. Granted wishes aren't normally that generous."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well," Pinkie replied, "You got a hug like, what, once a week? Now you're gettin' 'em hourly! That's a big improvement if you ask me."

"True." I smiled and gave Fluttershy another squeeze.

"Group-hug!" Applejack hollered. Ya know, a group hug with six other ponies and a baby dragon is very warm. What a perfect end to a birthday.