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Hearts of Speed [Story Formatted] /CYOA/

By Aftercase
Created: 22nd October 2020 09:26:36 AM
Modified: 8th March 2021 12:07:53 AM

  1. “For heaven's sake Cold! Pull into the pit lane!” You Shout into the microphone. You look at all the screens, everything is flashing red. “Your cooling regulators are shot! Pull out the damn race!”
  2. >Your teammate didn’t reply. You watch on the screens as twenty AG racers whip by at an unimaginable speed. You match to get the glimpse of your team AG colors it seems like Cold Storage is in second place.
  3. >That damn Pegasus is going to get himself killed.
  4. “COLD!” You yell into the microphone again.
  5. >”Anon, I got this!” Cold finally replies, you can hear the sirens blaring behind his voice.
  6. “No you don’t, your ship is falling apart after the rail collision in the third quarter.”
  7. >”It’s still running fine, I can see the last turn.”
  8. “Cold!”
  9. >His microphone falls silent. All you can do is watch the live feed from the pits. Time itself almost slows to a crawl as you watch the carnage on the screen, his AG is aflame rolling sideways along the racetrack, air the fire into an inferno. Shards of metal screeches and sparks as it slides along the ground. After a few seconds it slams into the side rails cockpit first and then topple overs into a smoldering wreck.
  10. >”Oh the carnage! Cold Storage of Everfreek corp has crashed out! The medical teams are on they’re way.” You hear the commentator almost screaming over the monitor.  “It’s not looking good folks; we’re watching the fire ponies attempt to tackle the blaze and they can’t get near it!”
  11. >You still watch the screen unable to take your eyes from it. You knew no one could have survived that wreck. Your stomach sinks like lead, you’ve lost a good friend this day.
  12.  
  13. “And that’s why I no longer race, I lost a good friend that day.” You take a drag of your cigarette and smother it out on the dusty floor. “Besides the Equestrian AGR championships also died that day.”
  14. >”But but!” The earth pony mare stutters.
  15. “What? I told you my story, you can go.” You point to the door of your workshop.
  16. >”But I traveled all this way to appaloosa!”
  17. “Don’t care.” You turn your back on the pale red earth pony and look at the reconstruction of Cold’s Anti-grav racer.
  18. >”But my cutiemark…”
  19. “I said I don’t care! No other pony will race under me again. Besides there’s no one to race anyway.”
  20. >” Please, at least hear me out!”
  21.  
  22. “Fine! State your case then leave.” You decide to at least hear her out, it’s the determination in her eye’s that reminds you of your younger self.
  23. >” I’ve traveled a long way to meet you, I found out that you were rebuilding Cold’s AG racer and well… I want to drive one, no racing just to drive it.”
  24. “No.” You pull a cigarette from your pack and light it.
  25. >” Why? What’s the point of rebuilding it, if it's just going to sit here?”
  26. “It’s something, I needed to do. On top of that it’s missing some parts.”
  27. >” That’s fine I got the bits to pay for it!” The mare perks up.
  28. >You couldn’t help but laugh at her enthusiasm.
  29. “How much have you got?”
  30. >”Um…about twenty thousand bits in savings.”
  31. “So you’re willing to blow your savings to drive an AG one time…”
  32. >”If needs be! My cutie mark says it’s my destiny.”
  33. >You roll your eyes, you’ve been in Equestria for thirty years now and you never understood ponies and their cutie marks. Nevertheless, you glance down at her rump, sure enough there are checkered flags tattooed on her butt.
  34. You sigh and blow out the cigarette smoke from your nose. “What’s your name?”
  35. >”My name’s Pulse Sway”
  36. You chuckle at that, “Unusual name for an earth pony…”
  37. >”Actually I’m a pegasus, I lost my wings…” She replies almost being ashamed at the fact.
  38. “Let me guess, you were originally destined for the Wonderbolts or Pegasi Racing Leagues…”
  39. >She slowly nods.
  40. “Sorry to hear that. But AG racing is a completely different ball game, you could get killed.”
  41. >”I don’t care.” She stomps a hoof on the floor. “I just want to feel like I’m flying fast again, even if it’s just a few hoof-lengths off the floor.”
  42. >You couldn’t look away from her eyes, that fire burns within her. It’s the same as the first day you met Cold Storage. That stallion never took no for an answer, even one night he stole your AG and raced laps around the desert.
  43. >The damn idiot didn’t realize at the time that his borrowed Wonderbolt suit didn’t cut it when it came to the G-forces. He passed out as he tried to take a steep left, luckily, he slipped off the throttle bringing the craft into a sliding halt.
  44. >A smile creeps aross your face with those memories, even though you were furious with him back then.
  45. >You bring your attention back at Pulse Sway who is still staring at you with determination.
  46. >If she is like Cold was, then you could at least make her long journey worth it. Or maybe you can deter her from AG Racing for good, just like everyone else.
  47.  
  48. >It did scare you a little that you were considering giving her a tour of the AG, but that would have just got her hopes up. You know you had to nip this in the bud now.
  49. “Come with me.” You wave her over to follow.
  50. >”Huh?” Pulse tilts her head in confusion.
  51. “Follow., I want to show you something.”
  52. >You head to your ‘racing desk’ filled with trophies and other memorabilia. Pushing them aside you find an old data disk. You hope you never had to show this again, but it’s for her own good.
  53. >Turning on your monitors you insert the disk into the computer terminal and load the video file.
  54. “Watch.”
  55. >Pulse Sway trots closer to the screen and watches, a few moments later her eyes widen as she recognizes the footage.
  56. >”This is-“
  57. “Yeah, now watch.” You order, turning your back to the screen. Just hearing it is enough to bring back memories of that day. You can almost count the seconds before the accident.
  58. >”Cold Storage of Everfreek corp has crashed out!” The commentator announces sending a shiver down your spine.
  59. >You wipe a tear away from your eye before it threatens for fall. The young mare couldn’t pull her attention from the carnage, her eyes well up as tears start to run down her cheeks.
  60. >”W-why did you show me that.”
  61. “Because you wouldn’t listen! I told you the story, yet you still wanted to pursue” You kneel down and meet her at eye level. “Now can you see; this sport is too dangerous. Now scram!”
  62. >All you can do is watch the mare’s heart shatter with her dreams. You feel the pang of guilt doing this to her, but she’s better off this way. You would not live with yourself if another one got killed.
  63. >A few seconds tick by before Pulse takes off out of your workshop.
  64. >You breathe a sigh of relief.
  65. >Thank god that’s over with. You look at the clock at your workshop and take note of the time.
  66. >Time must have slipped you by, it’s already late and you need to close for the night. With that, you turn off the lights and slide the workshop's heavy doors shut.
  67.  
  68.  
  69. >A loud knocking bashes at your front door.
  70. >You grumble as you awake in your bed, you can’t remember going asleep, you’ve must have been exhausted from yesterday repairing the AG.
  71. >The knocking gets louder as a voice shouts from outside.
  72. >”Sheriff’s department! Open up Anon!”
  73. >You bolt out of bed and throw on some clothes that laden your floor around your bed.
  74. >Dashing down the stairs you open the door to see the town's sheriff Silver Star.
  75. “Sheriff…”
  76. >”Can ya explain why your AG is ripping around the ol’ track?”
  77. >Your heart sinks to your stomach as anger boils up from within.
  78. “What do you mean? As you can see, I’m not driving it!”
  79. >”I can see that Anon, but you haven’t filled in the paperwork for AG testing on Appleloosa plains.”
  80. “I can assure you; I have no plans on letting any pony drive that thing!”
  81. >You think back to yesterday, you can guess who’s driving that thing. You mentally kick yourself for not deadlocking the workshop last night. Over the years, with no competition you became careless over the security of it.
  82. >”I think you better head to the ol’ track.”
  83. >You quickly slip on your shoes and dash out. You hesitate at a crossroad.
  84.  
  85. >You force open the doors of your workshop, sweat is dripping down your face. Running the dry heat has almost exhausted you. Scanning over the workshop you spot your rucksack and dashed over to your workstation.
  86. >You grab your dusty laptop and communications aerial. You rummage through the piles of scrap and papers to find your old headset; you curse yourself for leaving your workshop in such a state. You would’ve slapped yourself for this back in the day.
  87. >You lift a few folders to find your headset, breathing a sigh of relief you tuck it into your bag.
  88. >You turn to leave, but a portable checkpoint beacon leaning against the wall catches your eye. It’ll have no use but to log lap times but something inside of you urges you to bring it.
  89. >Fuck it.
  90. >You snatch the beacon and fold it up before sprinting to the old Appleloosa racetrack.
  91. >Panting, you finally made it to the track, as expected your AG is flying around the bends and turns not quite following the optimal racing line.
  92. >You shake your head, you’re here to stop that damn mare before she kills herself. Not to comment on her poor racing skills.
  93. >Jogging up a flight of stairs through the spectators stands, you shoulder barge the door to the commentary room. At least you will get a good view from here.
  94. >You wasted no time to start setting up your equipment, you placed your laptop on the desk and pressed the one button. As you waited for it to boot you plug in the communication aerial and place your headset over your ear.
  95. >You couldn’t help but watch the AG take another turn and almost clip the side wall on the banking.
  96. >For heaven's sake! Slow up on the turns then accelerate after the midpoint! You internally curse at her. This is basic racing 101.
  97. >The AG wobbles as it pulls out into the straight due to the lack of a gyro stabilizer. It’ll only be a matter of time before the G forces will rip the AG into a roll.
  98. >Your laptop finally boots, and you boot the AG testing software, it took only a few seconds before it loads the last test data from many years ago.
  99. >Cold Storage – Appleloosa  - Best Lap: 28.4 seconds.
  100. >You mentally stop yourself from closing the laptop back down. With a bated breath you click to start a new test run clearing the old times and open the communications.
  101. “What the hell do you think you're doing!” You below into the headsets microphone.
  102. >”I’m sorry Anon! I had to.” Pulse’s voice crackles through the speaker.
  103. “Right whatever, neverminded that. But I am making you aware you’re driving an AG without a stabilizing system.”
  104. >”I thought it was a little wobbly.”
  105. “Yes! that means you will have to bring it to a slow stop else you will flip the AG.”
  106. >”What does that mean?” You hear worry creep into her voice.
  107. “It means if you pull the airbrake then bad shit will happen. It’s a fucking miracle you haven’t done it sooner.”
  108. >” So, you’re telling me there’s no way to safely stop!” Pulse says with rising alarm.
  109. “There is, but this moment I need you to maintain your speed. Slowing down would mean there’s less air resistance pushing against the antigrav plates under the hull, it’ll give your less ‘grip’ so to speak.”
  110. >”Ok…”
  111. “And ease up the throttle on those bends and don’t touch those breaks!”
  112. >You watch out the window as the AG takes another corner near the viewer stands, you hear the engines dip and it eases around the corner. At least she is following your orders, hopefully you’ll have her alive and your AG intact.
  113. >You hear the door open to find Silver Star entering the room.
  114. “Where have you been?”
  115. >”Ah been trying to wave her down. She’s not stopping out there, I even got the deputy keeping ponies away.” He points towards the audience stands, a fair few ponies are spectating and waving on the AG. “With not much luck it appears.”
  116. >Great this will bite you in the ass later.
  117. “Well I got coms with our culprit, and there’s a situation.”
  118. >”Situation?” The serif tilts back his hat.
  119. “There’s no gyro stabilizer on the AG, she can’t safely stop.”
  120. >”I’m hoping you got a plan Anon.”
  121. “I do,” you look at the small audience and notice a few unicorns. “I got two ideas,”
  122.  
  123. >You cast aside the idea with the unicorns as you didn’t want anyone else getting hurt if things decide to go south.
  124. >You pick up the portable checkpoint beacon and turn it on before handing it to the Silver Star.
  125. “Sheriff, I’m going to need to you place this next to the track, I need to know her average speed for this to work.”
  126. >Silver Star nods and takes the beacon in his mouth and sprints out the door. You watch him from the window as he descends the stairs and places it next to the track. He turns back at you and waves his hoof.
  127. >You wait until the AG passes the beacon, sure enough the speed data comes through to your laptop. A few more laps should give you a good average. You pull the mic of your headset to your mouth and give Pulse the rundown of the plan.
  128. “Pulse, I need you to listen very carefully.”
  129. >”O-ok.” She stutters through the mic, hopefully it’s nerves not racing fatigue setting in.
  130. “I need you to slow down each lap to around hundred miles per hour.”
  131. >”But the speedometer is in Kilometers!”
  132. >Dammit Cold, he never did see the superiority of the imperial system.
  133. “That’s around one-sixty kilometers per hour. Keep it at one sixty. Once the AG levels out I’ll tell you to break.”
  134. >”I-I’ll do that, please hurry, my legs are getting tired from steering this thing!”
  135. >Shit, you hope the hard breaking at the end won’t cause her to black out.
  136. >You look at the laptop, average speed is now 250kph.
  137. “Right Pulse, keep bringing that speed down. Next lap, take it down to two hundred, use the straights to slow!”
  138. >”Alright…”
  139. >The AG flies past at a much slower pace from before. You look down at the data, 190kph.
  140. “Keep it steady! Ease the throttle to slow, not the breaks!”
  141. >”I am – I am” Pulse panics as you watch the AG start to sway and tilt around the corners.
  142. “Keep it steady, you’re doing fine…” You try and reassure her over the headset.
  143. >She does another lap. 170kph average.
  144. >Okay moment of truth.
  145. “I can see you're nearing one-sixty, on the large straight I want you to pull the brakes, keep it steady and use the length.”
  146. >”Alright Anon…I-I hope this works...”
  147.  
  148. >You watch Pulse pull out of the final bend and into the straight. You hold your breath as you see the AG break flaps engage. The craft wobbles and tilts causing the wings to almost clip the ground.
  149. >You pray to lady luck that it’ll stop smoothly.
  150.  
  151. >The AG rapidly decelerates along the strait, the craft sways and bobs. You didn’t dare to let go of your breath until it fully stopped.
  152. >What seems like an eternity the AG slows to a crawl just before the bend.
  153. >Finally, you let go of your breath. You slam your laptop shut and throw all your equipment into your rucksack and head to your AG.
  154. >You hear the small crowd whoop and yell at the show. You silently curse them as they do not know how much danger she was in.
  155. >Silver Star is now running behind you as you both approach the AG.
  156. “Pulse! What the fuck were you thinking!”
  157. >You watch the red pony descend the floating craft wearing a blue G-suit.
  158. >”I’m sorry Anon! I don’t know what came over me last night!”
  159. >Silver Star passes you with hoof cuffs in mouth, spending no time he clasps them around Pulses’ front legs. “You’re in ah lot of trouble young lady, Breaking and entering, Joyriding and driving an AG without a permit.”
  160. >”What no! I’m sorry!” The mare panics are tears well up in her eyes. “I didn’t mean to.”
  161. >You couldn’t help but think back to when Cold stole your AG, luckily that time the AG wasn’t faulty, and the frontier was practically lawless back then. It’s like history is repeating itself.
  162. >”Do you wish to push charges Mr Anon?” Silver snaps you from your thoughts.
  163. “Uh...”
  164.  
  165. “No.” You answer.
  166. >Pulse looks relieved that you aren’t going to push charges on her.
  167. “But,” You continue, to Pulses’ dismay. “I have another solution to set this mare straight”
  168. >”What would that be, Anon?” The sheriff asks, he has known you for a while now, so he was willing to listen.
  169. “I want Pulse to work off her misdemeanor at my workshop. Nine to Five for two weeks”
  170. >”You can do this!” Pulse yells.
  171. >Silver Star ponders on it for a while, “I think that’s an excellent idea Anon, a little hard work can set anypony back on track. In Pulses case, make it three weeks.”
  172. >”But but, that’s slave labor! You can’t allow this Sheriff!”
  173. >”Yes I can. Call it educational work experience on bail – one month.”
  174. >Realizing what Silver is doing, Pulse bites her tongue and stays silent.
  175. >You smile and nod at the sheriff pony as a thank you.
  176. “Alright then! Let’s get this thing back to the workshop and Pulse…” You grin at her, “9am sharp.”
  177.  
  178. >The next day you are currently working on the AG, the fiasco yesterday has caused a few issues with the craft.
  179. >For starters you had to clear the dust from the intakes, you always hated that job after racing in desert conditions that is why you had Cold or your other crew done the task.
  180. >You clip back in the air filter after banging out the dust and debris that were picked up from the track. You normally just replace them, but there’s no point. It’s not if you’ll drive it anytime soon. You’re too old, the G-forces will just rip you to shreds G-suit or no.
  181. >You glance at the Clock, it’s 8.45am, your new assistant will be here soon.
  182. >As if on cue you here knocking at your door.
  183. >”Anon?” You hear Pulse call into your workshop.
  184. “You’re early.”
  185. >”Yeah, I just want to show how sorry I am.”
  186. “Trust me you will, there’s plenty of things that need doing here.”
  187. >Pulses ears drop back as she looks around at the mess.
  188. “Let's get to it!” You clap your hand to draw her attention. “You first job is to clean the AG. Look at it, covered in dust and crap.”
  189. >”Okay…”
  190. “The ladder and clothes are over there.” You point to the corner. “I want to see the AG shining by lunch. If not, I’ll happily drop a message to the Sheriff.”
  191. >The mare quickly hops to it and grabs the cleaning equipment and begins cleaning the bottom of the hull. At least she has the common sense to start with the hardest job first.
  192. >You head to your work bench and sit down on the stool and flick through the news on your tablet. You had to admit the ponies in the last few decades made leaps and bounds with technologies. Without the help of magical systems, you’ll say there about in the early 21st century in human terms.
  193. >Then again that being generous, much of their tech has been reversed engineered from your stuff over four decades ago, they mostly just infused it with their magic to replicate its function.
  194. >Deep down it felt it was cheating.
  195. >Nope, you’re nothing but a tech purist when I came to AG’s. None of that fancy magical crap you had from the Unitech incorporated or Wonderbolt Research Division. At least you had the same ideology as Gryphfoundation, even though they were sore losers.
  196. >You continue to flick through the ponynet looking at the stocks and the latest news.
  197. >Your heart stops dead when you see a recently posted article.
  198. >>EVERFREEK INC TESTING AG, IS ANTIGRAV RACING BACK?
  199.  
  200. >You frown at the short video clip of your AG as it kicks up dust barreling past the camera.
  201. >You continue to read the article.
  202.  
  203. >>A high speed AG racer took speed on the old Appleloosian track yesterday, reports said that Mr Anonymous, the co-racer of the late Cold Storage, has been seen in the comment booth with his testing equipment. The once thought disbanded Everfreek inc has failed to make any comment at this moment.
  204. >You groan as you flick open your email app and see dozens of unread emails from the reporter. You quickly flick back and continue reading.
  205. >>We managed to contact the old leader Equestrian Anti-gravity Racing Committee who made certain they are unaware of any renewal of the sport, while Diamond Tiara has commented that Richcorp, once a big player in the scene, has been looking into reinvesting into AG technologies.
  206. >You couldn’t read any more of the article.
  207. >You knew this would happen, the greed for money once again cost ponies’ lives.
  208. >Getting up from the stool your stomp your way over to Pulse and bend down shoving the tablet in front of her nose.
  209. “This!” You shout, “This is why I wanted you to go.”
  210. >Pulse reads the headlines silently before speaking up “It’s not as if AG racing will start again, all the companies are now defunct.”
  211. “You do not understand! The money in it is ludicrous, do you really think that big mega corps will just ignore a rival starting up again?”
  212. >”But I was only having a drive, I just wanted to feel like I was flying again…” Pulse starts to whimper.
  213. Your resolve softens, it breaks your heart seeing mares cry sometimes. “Pulse, ponies’ taste for AG racing has been reignited because of your antics. Either way, I’m going to find myself dragged back into this whether I like it or not.”
  214. >”I-I’m sorry…”
  215. You sigh and stand back up. “You're lucky that I got this building registered under a different company. Else we will be swarming with the press by now.”
  216. >Pulse doesn’t reply and simply picks up a cloth and continues to clean the AG.
  217. >You do hope that the press won’t investigate your company records and find this place. Then again, they’ll just have to ask around town.
  218. >Another knock on your door causes your heart to sink once more. That rhythmic knock, not only a reporter has already found you.
  219. >”Mr Anon? Appleloosa Evening News…” A female voice calls out. “I’m Pencil Push, can I ask for an exclusive!”
  220. >The nerve of her, a fucking exclusive.
  221. “Not interested.” You yell back.
  222. >”You’ll be interested about your tax returns. I see a discrepancy between your two companies Anon.”
  223. >You freeze.
  224.  
  225. >You glare at the pink coated reporter as she magically scribbles note down into her notebook.
  226. >You walk up to your doors and hold either handle, with a nod you slam the shut.
  227. >”Hey!” You hear him callout from the other side. “Fine if you want to play hardball, I’ll get my story one way or another!”
  228. >You hear her stamp off.
  229. >You sigh and return to your workbench and continue looking through your stocks.
  230. >Deep down you hope she was bluffing; AG companies have always been shady at best when it comes to their accounting.
  231.  >You just hope it doesn’t lead to an audit; you better check your reports just in case.
  232. >And probably lose a few invoices along the way.
  233. >You check the news feed again on your tablet.
  234. >Breaking news.
  235. >You groan as you see a tag for AGR.
  236. >You tap the article link.
  237. >>BREAKING NEWS: UNITECH REVEALS PLANS FOR NEW AG!
  238. >Already? The news broke about a few hours ago about Pulses joyride.
  239. >>Starlight Glimmer announces that a new anti-gravity racer is in production with the latest mana systems magic has to offer. More information about the new AG will be released over the following weeks.
  240. “Starlight? That old mare’s still alive?” You mutter to yourself as you continue to skim through the article.
  241. >>Is this a new revival of an AG championship? or a flash in the pan due to old rivalries as Everfeek inc still remain silent on their motives.
  242. >Looks like the news is spinning shit again. You expect a media frenzy before close. Only one reporter so far is good news, as you can remember you and Cold constantly pushing through hordes of reporters every day.
  243. >You glance at the clock on your tablet.
  244. >11.46am.
  245. >Close enough, Lunch time.
  246. >You place your tablet on the workbench and walk over to Pulse.
  247. >You can hear chattering from behind the AG. You pause a listen.
  248. >”I don’t think so, I’m here on work experience so I don’t know much about the plans.” You hear Pulse reply.
  249. >”Ah so there are plans!” You hear the fucking reporters voice.
  250. >How the fuck did she?
  251. >You look at the window that is slightly ajar.
  252. >You walk around to the two ponies and thump the side of the AG making them both yelp.
  253. “You!” You point to Pencil Push then the door “OUT!”
  254. >”I’m sorry, Miss Sway is having an interview, I’ll leave once I’m done!”
  255. “OUT!” You yell louder.
  256. >”I’m sorry Mister Anonymous, you missed your opportunity for an interview, free publicity for your company if I might add.” She turns back to Pulse. “Now, did you say you’re an employee here?”
  257. >Pulse looks at you while you glare back at her.
  258. >”I already said I’m here for work experience.”
  259. >”I’ll put down the use of free Labor…”
  260. >”No he pays me!”
  261. “Do I? Yes, yes I do,” You give Pulse the fakest smile you can pull.
  262. >”How much?” Pencil asks.
  263. >You open your mouth to chime in, but Pulse beats you to the punch.
  264. >”Excuse me Miss, but I don’t think that’s relevant.”
  265. >”Very well.” Pencil finishes as her notebook and pencil magically vanishes. “I bid you both good day.”
  266. “And don’t come back!”
  267. >”No promises, this story is a goldmine!”
  268. “JUST FUCKING GO ALREADY!” You yell once again pointing towards the doors.
  269. >Without a word Pencil Push leaves slamming the doors behind her.
  270. “Fucking reporters…” You mumble as you feel your anger subside. “Pulse go and have a break.”
  271. >You look over the AG as you see your reflection in the hull, you hate to admit it, but you think the young mare has done a good job. Lifting a few panels, you noticed she even cleaned every intake and filter. Running a finger inside the filter cases proves fruitless for any dust or debris.
  272. >You couldn’t help smiling at her thorough work. Maybe having her work here for a few months won’t be bad at all.
  273. >Your tablet buzzes and rings from your workbench, you grumble again as it is probably another reporter who discovered your contact details.
  274. >You walk over to it and see a name you haven’t seen for over twenty years.
  275. >Sharp Point
  276. >You old researcher. You thought he would never have talked to you again after you originally blamed him for Colds death as he was the one who designed the cooling regulators after all.
  277. >It was later you found out it was an unseen manufacturing failure that caused the crash.
  278. >You hover your finger over the answer button.
  279.  
  280.  >You press the green answer button.
  281. >The tablet opens the live video feed and sees Sharp with his iconic black glasses staring back at you.
  282. “Sharp?” You ask the old grey coated unicorn
  283. >”Hey…it’s been a while.”
  284. “It has…”
  285. >An awkward silence breaks out between you both.
  286. “So why are you calling?”
  287. >”Oh right, I run an AG fan club forum on the ponynet and they are exploding today. My site can’t even keep up with the traffic.”
  288. “I guess they’ve been following the news then.”
  289. >”That they have, is it true?”
  290. “What’s true?”
  291. >”You got a new AG and racer?” You see a glimmer of hope behind his glasses.
  292. “No no no no. Some pony stole my AG yesterday and decided to go for a joyride.”
  293. >”So you do have a AG running.”
  294. “No it’s a side project.”
  295. >”And you think I’d believe that?”
  296. “It’s Cold Storages’ old AG.” You snap back at the unicorn.
  297. >He falls silent and brushes back his light blue mane with a hoof.
  298. You let your voice drop, “I’ve been rebuilding it.”
  299. >”I see,” Sharp replies barely above a whisper. “I guess he would have wanted that.”
  300. “I think so too.”
  301. >The unicorn on the video feed sighs “Look I got to go, I’ve got dozens of emails from Unitech and others asking if I’m looking for work, let alone moderate my website with the new traffic.”
  302. “Alright, make sure we chat soon, it’s nice to see an old friend, and I’m sorry.”
  303. >”I’m sorry to bud and yeah that’ll be nice. See you.”
  304. “Bye.”
  305. >With a beep the feed closes.
  306. >The call went better than you expected, I’m some ways you wish to have Sharp around again. In fact, having the old team back is one of your pipe dreams.
  307. >You pull yourself from your depressing thoughts and glance at the time.
  308. >12.15pm
  309. >Time to get the mare back to work.
  310. >You also make a mental note to tell her not to talk to anymore reporters and make it clear she’s not being paid, no matter what she covers for you.
  311.  
  312. >The next day you lay in bed thinking things over.
  313. >Yesterday went pretty well in the scheme of things, only one reporter invasion, no fires or any mishaps. Plus, the workshop never looked better once Pulse started cleaning the workbenches and the floor.
  314. >You are certain that you got your work out of her, as she left completely covered in dust and grime. You aren’t sure how she got hydraulic fluid in her mane though as there wasn’t any being used.
  315. >You roll over and glance at your clock.
  316. >Friday: 7.45am
  317. >Meh, it’s Friday, no point opening the workshop early. You’ll just open it at nine for Pulse.
  318. >Grabbing your tablet from the side you…
  319.  
  320. >You tap the app icon for your emails.
  321. >Your tablet bleeps for a whole minute as the emails flood through.
  322. >Ugh…
  323. >You quickly swipe your finger across the spam emails to delete them, also the mail from news agencies asking for interviews.
  324. >Scrolling down a certain email catches your eye.
  325. >Starlight@unitec.eq
  326. >Subject: Old times.
  327. >Raising an eyebrow, you open the email.
  328.  
  329. >>Anonymous, I have to say it’s been a while. I honestly thought you would be six hooves under by now. I had to ask the name twice when reporters flooded my office asking about the reemergence of Everfeek inc. Once again you have seemed to sparked my interest in AG’s.
  330. >>Between me and you, it’s true that my team have recently developed a new mana system for our crafts and they’ve been itching to test it out.
  331. >>So Anon, I ask you, one more race?
  332. >>Magic Vs Tech, Just like the old days.
  333. >>Reply soon.
  334. >>Glimmer.
  335.  
  336. >You lower your tablet.
  337. >She wants a race.
  338. >You had to admit it is tempting…
  339. >Seeing Colds old AG around the old track, did bring back some sweet memories.
  340. >Aside from the darker ones, which were few in comparison.
  341. >You weigh in the pros and cons for one little race.
  342. >The only thing you can think of at this time is a lack of a pilot. You would race yourself but let’s face it, the G-forces will just break you.
  343. >You press the reply button…
  344.  
  345. >You hover your fingers over the onscreen keyboard.
  346. >Maybe you’ve gotten ahead of yourself.
  347. >The AG is in no condition for a race and finding a driver at short notice would be a nightmare.
  348. >Pulse does cross your mind, but she’s too inexperienced. Sure, she’s got skill, operating an AG without a gyro stabilizer is no easy feat. Maybe next time she won’t be so lucky.
  349. >You flag the email for archive and close the app.
  350. >Looking at the time you decide to finally get up.
  351. >You put on your work clothes, and head to the kitchen for a quick breakfast snack and a coffee.
  352. >With toast and coffee in either hand, you use your elbow to open your front door and shoulder it behind you.
  353. >Turning around you are blinded by the flash photography and the yelling of reporters.
  354. >”Anon! Is it true that Everfreek incorporated is making a comeback!”
  355. >”Our sources say your new AG is a very early model, is this correct?”
  356. >”Who is Pulse Sway?”
  357. >”Anonymous! Can you answer for your anti-gryphon remarks you made thirty years ago?”
  358.  
  359. >You groan as the questions keep piling up.
  360. >You look at your watch. 8.30am
  361. >Still running early.
  362. >Maybe you should answer some now, else they might just follow you to the workshop.
  363. >Or on the other hand, you might be able to lose them in the morning rush.
  364.  
  365. >You take a bite out of your toast and push through the crowd, any pony who dares to stand too close will run the risk of being scolded by a hot coffee cup.
  366. >”Anon! is it true that your AG was stolen two days ago?”
  367. “No comment” You speak with your mouth full.
  368. >”Sir! Can you confirm that you have plans to release new AG tech to rival Unitechs mana control system?”
  369. “As I always said, magical AG systems still suck. Other than that, no comment.”
  370. >”What are your thoughts about the rumors about the Wonderbolts re-establishing their AG Research Division?”
  371. “Don’t care.”
  372. >You keep pushing through the crowd, eventually it starts to thin out by the time you reach the other side of the street.
  373. You turn on your heel and announce you will no longer be answering any more questions and quickly walk away.
  374. >The crowd still follows behind, yelling more questions. You wished you still had your PR team around.
  375. >God you kept them for granted.
  376. >You slip down a side street and into an alleyway, the crowd of reporters thinned out considerably.
  377. >Looking over your shoulder you quickly sprint the rest of the way to your workshop and slide the doors shut with a slam.
  378. >Thank fuck for that.
  379. >You rest your head against the cool metal door.
  380.  
  381. >”Oh, here he is!” A familiar voice calls out. “Anon! enjoy the commute this morning?”
  382. >You clench your jaw, it’s that damn reporter pony again.
  383. >You don’t even bother to turn around and look at her.
  384. “You have five seconds to leave Pen. I am not in the mood for games.”
  385. >”No games here, just me, you and Pulse.”
  386.  
  387. >Pulse?
  388. “For fuck sake Pulse! Why did you let her in!” You snap round and see the wingless pegasus.
  389. >”Sorry Anon! I let myself in this morning and she just followed me in.”
  390. “Well you could have kicked her out!” You point at Pen as you shout.
  391. >”She had breakfast muffins.”
  392. >You stand there speechless as you stare at the floor, bribed by muffins.
  393. >There is no anger. Just emotional defeat.
  394.  
  395. >”Ahem, yes. Anon.” Pen fake coughs into her hoof. “I would like to talk to you. No interview, no tricks, just some advice.” She smiles, “I’ll even throw in a breakfast muffin.”
  396. >You glance up at Pen who is looking sincere.
  397.  
  398. “Fine, I’ll at least listen.” You grumble as you make your way to the makeshift coffee table.
  399. >”That’s all I can ask.” Pen replies, she places a muffin in front of you.
  400. >Damn it looks delicious. You pick it up and take a bite.
  401. >Not bad. Still preferred the ones back at ponyville.
  402. “So,” You say as you chew. “What’s your advice.”
  403. >”Accuse me of being hyperbolic, but it seems at this very moment all of Equestria and maybe the rest of the world is waiting for you.”
  404. You furrow your brow. “For what?”
  405. >”Talk about dense.” She elbows Pulse. “They’re waiting for your next move.”
  406. “There isn’t going to be one.” You say flatly.
  407. >”Really? Don’t be a fool Anon, it seems your little mishap on the track last Wednesday has set everything in motion.”
  408. “And they are fools for thinking that AGR will become a thing again.”
  409. >”They want to believe Anon! Come on, have you seen the ponynet? It’s exploding now.”
  410. “Don’t care.” You pop the final piece of muffin into your mouth.
  411. >”Old companies are now hiring any researchers with AG experience. There’s even kickbuck campaigns for new startups!”
  412. “Still don’t care.”
  413.  
  414. >”Okay maybe you’ll care after I show you this.”
  415. >She magically hovers her tablet over to you.
  416. >You look on the screen, you easily recognize the graphs, it’s the stock market.
  417. >You almost faint when you see your company abbreviation.
  418. >EFKI – 24.4 bits per share.
  419. >Shit… 200% rise in a few days.
  420. You swallow, “That’s a big increase.”
  421. >Pen smiles at your reaction. “It’s growing by the day.”
  422. >You watch the graph update, 24.5 bits.
  423. >”So what’s it going to be Anon? A simple “no” will be devastating to your finances, yes?” She sips her coffee with a smug expression. “Like I said the world is waiting.”
  424. >You look at the AG.
  425. >The press, the never-ending emails and now the stocks. It seems the universe is dragging you back in.
  426. >”Anon, I’ll even sweeten the deal. You start, and I’ll be your PR. I can make those pesky reporters go away…”
  427.  
  428. >You stare at Pen with suspicion.
  429. >You couldn’t figure out what’s her gain in doing this.
  430. “Why are you so insistent on bringing back such a blood sport?”
  431. >”You crashing into the Everfree with your AG all those years ago gave us a great gift. Never have we seen such a machine reach those speeds, many ponies envied you and wanted to experience those speeds themselves Anon.” Pen sighs, “Our whole civilization changed almost overnight because of it.”
  432. “I still feel I changed it for the worse.”
  433. >”No it hasn’t. All we had was the Pegasi Racing Championship and the Running of the Leaves, but AG was different, it made everypony, no, everyone, on an equal playing field.” She looks at you with pleading eyes “How can you expect us to go back?”
  434. “Ponies died,” You mumble. “That’s why the Equestrian Championships folded.”
  435. >”Yes, ponies died, but they knew the risks. Didn’t you humans back your planet know too?”
  436. “Yeah, but that’s different.”
  437. >”How is it?”
  438. “Because us humans are just adrenaline junkies looking for the next hit. Watching or racing. We want that rush.” You pull your cigarette pack from your pocket; your nerves are being frayed. “The fame, the lights, the money. It’s like a drug to us.”
  439. >”That sounds just like ponies to me.”
  440. You light your cigarette, “I guess you're right, either planet there are fools.”
  441. >”Maybe we are, but please take that first step that every pony is hesitant to take. Bring it back.”
  442. >You muse over her words in silence. Taking a drag of your cigarette you nod to yourself.
  443. >There is no escaping this.
  444. “Fine, I’ll make you a counteroffer for your deal.” You blow out a cloud of smoke from your nose, “How well connected are you?”
  445. >”Uh, quite a bit. I’m still in contact with most of the old players and investors in AGR if that’s what you mean.”
  446. >You nod.
  447. “I want you to work for me, year contract, termination on my terms.” You take another drag for effect. “I need investors, I’ll need press releases and the final thing I’ll need advertisements.” You stand up, “And I want the entire world to know Everfreek is back. Can you do that?”
  448. >”That’s a bit outside of my skills.”
  449. “Take it or leave it.”
  450.  
  451. >The reporter mare thinks about your offer for a moment. She smiles before she speaks up “You have a deal Anon.” she holds out a hoof.
  452. >You wrap your hand around her hoof and give a strong shake.
  453. “Brilliant, I’ll see you on Monday.”
  454. >”But my current employer needs two weeks’ notice”
  455. “Monday.”
  456. >”Fine, Monday it is then.” She couldn’t help smirk at your enthusiasm. She gathers her things and heads out the workshop shortly after saying goodbye to Pulse.
  457. “So, Pulse…” You speak up while grabbing a dirty oil rag from your workbench.
  458. >”Y-yes Anon?” She looks up with muffin crumbs around her mouth.
  459. You sock her with the dirty rag as you speak. “WHAT. HAVE. I. TOLD. YOU. ABOUT. SPEAKING.TO.REPORTERS!” You finished slogging the mare who is now covered in dirt and oil.
  460. >“I said I’m sorry!” She hangs her head low.
  461. >You throw the rag on the floor and gently lift her head up with your hand.
  462. “Pulse, I’ve decided to make you an intern.” You said softly.
  463. >”Really! You’re going to do that!” Her face fills with Joy as you nod.
  464. “Yes, a free intern. As all your wages will be going on your licenses and training.”
  465. >Her face drops with her ears. “But how am I going to live!”
  466. “You said you got twenty thousand in bits, that should last you a good year in Appleloosa.”
  467. >”I guess. But why me?”
  468. “Why? Because you’re available.” You reply, watching her sink lower. “And I want to make sure that piloting an AG with a stabilizer wasn’t a fluke.”
  469. >”Thanks Anon.” She says with a smile returning to her face.
  470.  
  471. >You pick up your tablet and open a few web pages.
  472. >”What are you going to do now?” Pulse asks.
  473. “We need staff, that bucket of bolts,” You point to the AG, “Won’t cut it, it’s too old for racing but perfect for training in, well once it’s fixed that is.”
  474. >”Can’t you fix it?”
  475. “No, it’ll take too long. I need help with more complex systems.”
  476. >You find yourself looking at a job headhunting site on your tablet. Searching for AG engineers brings little results, you guess any pony with any skill has already been offered a job.
  477. >Looks like others have beaten you to the punch.
  478. >You frown, this will be really scraping the bottom of the barrel, but at least you can pay them a low salary. Plus, they have somewhat had experience in engineering.
  479. >It’s worth just hiring two for now on a temporary contract, with a promise of permanent work later down the line.
  480.  
  481. >You consider the Changeling, hell free labor for hugs. It’s a business owners’ ideal worker. Except for the hugs part. You’ll probably get another worker to do it for you.
  482. >What is promising is his knowledge of materials, which you are hoping it’ll come in handy or even surprise you. If not, then you could just have him make the coffees.
  483. >Next is Spanner Throw. His skill will come nicely, say he's a little hot headed, but hey, who’s not in this sport.
  484. >Finally, you look at Bashful Craft, the job probably won’t suit her as she’s more for repairs. But her pit lane experience does tickle your fancy…
  485. >You save her contact details for now. If she’s still available, then you’ll offer her a pit crew job. But before then you need an AG that can race.
  486.  
  487. >With the engineers emailed to come into your workshop on Monday to start work, you need a Lead Researcher and a Lead Engineer.
  488. > You smile as you know two ponies who you can think of.
  489. > Sharp Point, if the phone call from yesterday means anything he’s willing to at least talk. You hope he hasn’t been headhunted by Unitech or any other company yet. You’ll probably have to convince him to close his fan forum as he will not have time to do both.
  490. >Steel Beak, he’ll be harder to earn back his respect. You two haven’t talked after he stood up for Sharp Point after the wreck. You said nasty things to him back then.
  491. >There are a few others you could call out of retirement but Sharp and Steel are a must for now as some good old blood in the company would give it experience it desperately needs.
  492.  
  493. >You open your contacts up on your tablet and tap Sharps name.
  494. >The tablet rings a tone while it connects.
  495. >After a few moments the tablet loads the video feed.
  496. >”Anon?” Sharp answers looking confused.
  497. “Hey, it’s only a quick call.”
  498. >”What about?”
  499. “I’m looking for a Lead Researcher.”
  500. >”Lea- Anon are you?”
  501. “Yeah I am.”
  502. >”But yest-“
  503. “I’ve changed my mind.” You cut in.
  504. >You watch his face drop as he looks unsure.
  505. >”I don’t know Anon. I’m kind of happy being retired.”
  506. “What? Running a fan site?”
  507. >”I’m getting old Anon, can’t an old stallion rest?”
  508. “Pfft no.” You smirk trying to brighten his mood. “It’ll be like old times.”
  509. >”Look, Anon I can’t. Being bombarded with emails from AG companies constantly since yesterday reminded me why I threw in the towel.”
  510. “Sharp. We both know that’s a lie.” You face the camera on the tablet. “I am sorry for blaming you. It wasn’t your fault.”
  511. >”Maybe it was, or maybe it wasn’t. It was my idea to use the new cooling system anyway.”
  512. “And I authorized it.”
  513. >”It’s a moot point now. Besides like I said, I’m happy running the forums.”
  514. “No, you still got talent Sharp. My company needs you.”
  515. >”It doesn’t. It’s all just a flash in the pan Anon. Old nostalgia kicking up old hay.”
  516. “I’m certain it isn’t, I hear even the Wonderbolts are on about reopening their AG division.”
  517.  >”Yeah I read on the forums about that.”
  518. “So what do you say?”
  519. >”No Anon.” Sharp sighs, “It’s not if I don’t want to. I got a server to run.”
  520. “Lame excuse.”
  521. >”Bye Anon.”
  522. >The tablet beeps as the feed ends before you could say anything more.
  523. >That pony is wasting his life.
  524. >You light another cigarette and try to come up with a plan to get Sharp onboard.
  525.  
  526. >Probably calling him back would be a bad idea. Instead you open your email app and search through your old address book.
  527. >Shit its his old company email address.
  528. >You open Sharps AG fan forums and scroll through the admins, good you can at least message him there.
  529. >You begin tapping away at the onscreen keyboard.
  530. >>Hey Sharp.
  531. >>Following up our phone call, I respect your decision, but I still like to see you. How about coming to my workshop and we’ll play catchup and have a few drinks? Let me know. My email is still the same. Contact me there. – Anon.
  532. >You press send.
  533. >You glance at the time, 11.55am. Damn time goes quick.
  534. ”Pulse have a break!” You shout not looking up from your tablet.
  535. “Alright, once I will once I finish cleaning the tool cabinet…” She calls back.
  536. >You hover a finger over your screen.
  537. >There’s no point contacting Steel Beak yet. Having Sharp around would at least increase your chances getting him to even talk to you.
  538. >Even finding his contact details would be hard, that gryphon can disappear when he wants to. Maybe it’s worth asking Pen on Monday, she seems good at snooping.
  539. >Like every lunch break, you sit down at your workbench and browse the ponynet.
  540.  
  541. >The stocks have been playing at the back of your mind all morning.
  542. >You couldn’t keep yourself from checking.
  543. >Opening the stocks app, you scan down the list for your company.
  544. >25.3 bits
  545. >Climbing steadily.
  546. >You guess it’ll rocket once you start with the PR and start hooking in some investors.
  547. >You run some calculations on the calculator.
  548.  
  549. >Maybe you should wait. There's no point rushing things.
  550. >You still can’t believe your stocks are on the way back up.
  551. >You would like to see them around the 500 mark when AGR was at its peak.
  552. >You frown as you remember the crash that happened soon after the Equestrian Championship closed their doors. Your stock plummeted down to a few bits.
  553. >You lost everything, Everfreeks Research Labs, the workshops, even your home.
  554. >You’re glad Appleloosa is a cheap place to live, and selling your old remaining tech kept your head above water as you crawled your way out of debt. That was a rough 11 years.
  555.  
  556. >”Hey Anon?”
  557. >You look down to see Pulse tapping your leg.
  558. “What’s up?”
  559. >”I was wondering, my ‘internship’” She air quotes with her hooves. “When are you planning to get me my AG permits?”
  560. “Crap, you almost forgot about them. I’ll need to get you a G-suit fitted as well.”
  561. >“I already got one, I was wearing it when I..uh you know…”
  562. “Right, that blue suit.” You think back to the other day. ”Where did you get it from? Looks pretty worn.”
  563. >“I was in the Pegasus Championships…” She coughs in her hoof “…Second League.”
  564. >You couldn’t help but laugh.
  565. “I’m surprised anyone still watches that.”
  566. >”Yeah…laugh it up. I almost made it into the first Leagues.”
  567. “So what happened?”
  568. >You mentally facepalm realizing what you just said. You look at her wingless back and grimace.
  569. >”I think you can guess already.”
  570. >You don’t know whether to push on or not. It seems a touchy subject for her.
  571.  
  572. “Sorry, wasn’t thinking,” You quickly change the subject back to the permits, “Anyway, I’ll get the permits sorted and sent over the weekend. Hopefully you’ll get your license next week.”
  573. >Pulse nods “Thanks Anon. I’m starting to think stealing your AG was the best choice I made.”
  574. You laugh, “You think that now, you got it easy tidying up around here. Just waiting until training.”
  575. >”Training?”
  576. “Of course, training, do you think I’ll let you race with your skills at the moment?” You crouch to meet her eye level. “Your turning is sloppy; you follow the racing line like a blind rat, and you see this AG?” You point behind you.
  577. >”Yeah.” She tilts her head to look over your shoulder.
  578. “I can guarantee It’ll be useless compared to the newer ones. That thing can barely hit three hundred Kilometers per hour it was considered slow back when it last raced and I bet all my bits the newer ones will be faster.”
  579.  >”I was doing alright at two fifty Kilometers without a gyro thingymajigs”
  580. “Gyro stabilizer,” You correct her, “Two fifty is nothing Pulse, we had trains back on Earth that went faster than that.  The bottom line is I got to make sure you can safely pilot an AG, I’m not losing another racer.”
  581. >Pulses’ ears drop as she realizes who you are referring too.
  582. “I will be making it as safe as I can, as these things are no longer toys like back when.”
  583. >The mare slowly nods, trying not to make eye contact with you.
  584. “Hey at least you still get to eventually fly, right?” You reach out and lightly bump her on the shoulder.
  585. >That brought a smile to her face.
  586. >”Thanks again Anon.”
  587. “Good, now get back to work.”
  588.  
  589. >The rest of Friday afternoon was quiet like the day before.
  590. >You managed to work on the AG a little more, but you still need to find a suitable replacement for a gyro stabilizer. Other than that, it’ll be just updating the on-board computers and testing the shielding.
  591. >Then she'll be good to go.
  592. >Only for training at least.
  593. >Pulse left very quiet when you closed the workshop.
  594. >You guess it was the conversation you had, if she’s going to be your main pilot then you should get to know her.
  595.  
  596. >You wake up and check the time.
  597. >Saturday: 9.34am
  598. >Weekends has always been boring for you as you have to figure out what to do other than work.
  599. >You reach over and pull up your tablet and start your daily morning routine.
  600. >You turn on your tablet and lean back.
  601.  
  602. >You check your emails first. Hopefully Sharp has replied.
  603. >Scrolling through the spam you manage to spot another email from Glimmer.
  604. >Shit, you didn’t reply.
  605. >You hesitantly open the email.
  606. >>I take it you are busy. Or up to something… What are you up to Anon?
  607. >>Regards,
  608. >>Starlight Glimmer.
  609.  
  610. >You should consider replying eventually. She has known you for a long time now, so hopefully she’s used to your radio silence.
  611. >You continue looking through your emails but haven’t seen any from Sharp. Maybe you should wait a few days before contacting him again, you don’t want to bother him too much.
  612. >Closing your email app, you open the news feed and scan through the headlines. You guess it’ll be mostly hype.
  613. >> - BREAKING, HARMONY CORP SPLITS, RETIRED SISTERS QUARREL.
  614. >> - AGR STILL SEXIST? INTERVIEW WITH AN EX-TRACK MARE.
  615. >> - EVERFREEK INC STILL SILENT, STOCK PUNDITS NERVOUS.
  616. >> - EQUESTRIAN AG RACING COMMITTEE RETURN? RUMORS CONTINUE.
  617. >> - TOP TEN HOTTEST PILOTS IN AGR HISTORY
  618. >> - KIRIN COMMUNE ENTERS NEGOTIATIONS WITH WONDERBOLTS
  619.  
  620. >As you mostly expected, hype and spins. Though you did check the Top Ten ‘news’ article for research purposes. Sadly, your name was mentioned as a side note on one of the images.
  621. >Feeling ashamed you even checked, you swing your legs over the side of your bed and stretch your back.
  622. >Saturday…
  623. >There are a few things you could do today…
  624.  
  625. >You get ready and grab a bite to eat from the fridge as the coffee boils.
  626. >Pouring it into a disposable cup you take a sip. It’s just what you need to start the day.
  627. >Make sure you have your cigs, wallet and keys you head out the door with a throw-away cup in hand.
  628. >The sun beats down on your back and shoulders as you head through the dusty streets of Appleloosa, after thirty years of rapid technological advancement it still somehow kept its rustic charm.
  629. >You make it to the town hall through the busy main street as you just finish the last drop of your coffee. Crushing the cup, you throw it in a nearby trash bin, before entering the building.
  630. >You were glad to get here early; the line isn’t too long for permits. So, like the cultured creature you are you join the que and wait.
  631. >”Anon?” A voice comes from behind you.
  632. “Huh?” You turn around to see Pencil Push, “Oh hi Pen, decided to join the wait too?” You strike up casual conversation to alleviate the boredom of waiting in line.
  633. >Pen chuckles. “Yeah, tried coming in last week and the que was out the door.”
  634. “Guess we’re lucky today then.”
  635. >”That we are, so…what brings you here?”
  636. “Pulses AG permit.” You state, “I like it before when you could just hop in and go.”
  637. >”Trust me I know a few ponies who would be a disaster in one of those, including me.”
  638. You laugh, “I’ll probably be on that list as well by now.”
  639. >”Say, weren’t you a pilot at one point?” Pen gives a sheepish grin, “Sorry I’m just interested, no hot scoops or anything…”
  640. >You smile, she seems alright, but you still don’t know her motive in this. You hope she’ll be loyal to the company.
  641. “Yeah I was for a while,”
  642. >”Why did you give it up?”
  643. “Got too old, couldn’t keep up with the young ones.”
  644. >”I know that feeling, foals these days are all over with their blogs and podcasts.”
  645. “Rough time on the newspaper front then.”
  646. >She nods. “Middle age ponies like me are in dire straits in journalism. I guess we're the product of the past now.”
  647. “I’m guessing that’s why you worked hard on getting a story from me then.”
  648. >”You got me.”
  649.  
  650. >”Ahem…” A pony coughs behind the counter, it was your turn.
  651. “Paperwork to AG Permit please.”
  652. >”Give me one moment.” The pony goes through a file cabinet and pulls out the paperwork “Here you go, anything else.”
  653. “No that’s it.”
  654. >You turn and start to head out.
  655. >”Anon, are you busy today?” Pen stops you with a hoof. “I was wondering if we can grab lunch, there’s a few things I want to go through with you.”
  656.  
  657. “Sure I got time,”
  658. >Pen smiles “Good! Give me a moment I need to submit some paperwork.”
  659. >You stand to the side and wait for Pencil Push to finish.
  660. >It didn’t take long as she was only submitting paperwork, she trots up beside you and asks if you are ready.
  661. “Yeah, lets go.”
  662. >The paperwork in your hand reminds you that you should get it home first as you don’t want to lose it. Or god forbid coffee strains.
  663. “I need to drop this home first, is that ok?”
  664. >”No problem, we can find a café near your side of town.”
  665. “Sounds like a plan.”
  666. >Both of you head through the streets to your house, opening the front door you pop it on the side table in the hallway, so you don’t forget it on Monday.
  667. >You both find a small café not far from where you live and sit down.
  668. >You look around the place, the inside looks more like Canterlot than Appleloosa in terms of décor. Probably why you never really eat or drink here.
  669. >”Coffee and chocolate muffin please.” Pen orders her food to the pony waitress.
  670. “Same, but blueberry instead please.” You chime in.
  671. >Within minutes your order is placed on your table with the waitress leaving with a nod.
  672.  
  673. “What is it you want to discuss?” You ask taking a small sip of the hot coffee.
  674. >”Getting straight to the point then?” Pen replies as she samples her hot drink as well. “I’ve been going over your situation in regard to PR.”
  675. “I don’t pay unauthorized overtime.” You deadpan, followed by a smirk. It's nice to see a pony take her job seriously enough to start before her first day.
  676. >”I just want you to succeed Anon. I’ve quit my job for this.”
  677. “I was messing around.” You shrug.
  678. >”I know, but I want to stress the point.” Pen magically materializes her tablet out of thin air and places it on the table. She flicks to her news feed. “Have you seen the news?”
  679. “What about the company being silent.”
  680. >”Yeah, we need to act soon. Else investors and pundits will look elsewhere.”
  681. “I did think about that. What do you suggest?”
  682. >”We need to make a statement that Everfreek inc is back and here to stay.” She flicks the tablet with a hoof. The screen displays a mini presentation. “We need to do something that will cause hype and throw the news cycle into a frenzy.”
  683. “Back in the day we used to print cute mares in tight G-suits…”
  684. >Pen sighs and rolls her eyes. “Times have changed Anon, pony expect more…” She pauses as she tries to put things into perspective “Creative, it has to be big and loud and full of hype. It needs to be a spectacle.”
  685. “I guess, what do you have in mind?”
  686. >Pen swipes to the next page with her hoof to display a photo of an old AG venue. “A venue with music, good food and advertisements.”
  687. “OK sounds good, but what about the ‘spectacle’?” You form air quotes at the end.
  688. >”A race.”
  689. “No.” You quickly reply.
  690. >”Why? That's what ponies want to see.”
  691. “Pulse isn’t ready, she won’t be for a while. We need to act quickly to save our stocks.”
  692. >Pen thinks for a while ”What about a tech show?”
  693. “Everything we got is outdated.”
  694. >”I know one company who’s been developing on the down low.”
  695. “Unitech?”
  696. >”Yes, how did you know?”
  697. “I know Starlight, old friend and rival of mine.”
  698. >”How did I miss that? Thinking about it should be painfully obvious. There’s hundreds of old photos of you two stating each other down.”
  699. “That sounds creepy, how much have you researched me?”
  700. >Pen waves a hoof, “Hello, Journalist!”
  701. “Right.”
  702. >”Besides the point. If you know her see if you both do a joint convention.”
  703. “Yet we still don’t have anything to show.”
  704. >”You're going to hate me for saying this…but.” She hesitates, “Isn’t that Cold’s original AG?”
  705. >You furrow your brow.
  706. >”Hear me out, we can do old and new. That machine is iconic. Plus, it could serve as a subtle warning about the danger of the sport.”
  707. “I don’t know it sounds kind of morbid, he was my best friend Pen. It seems wrong.”
  708. >”Maybe, I’m just throwing ideas around.”
  709. “Got any more?”
  710. >”We could make your workshop a museum for a night,”
  711. >You screw you face up at the idea
  712. “What?”
  713. >”No no, you said your stuff is outdated right? And it’ll be more respectful to Cold then you can just tell his story. Ponies would love to see it.”
  714. “That sounds a little better. We can say it’s a send off or something for the new future.”
  715. >”Now you’re getting it.
  716. “But it’s the future but I’m worried about it. Investors want to know what we are doing tomorrow.”
  717. >”Fancy graphics, flow charts and blueprints.”
  718. >You muse over the ideas. They still don’t sit well with you.
  719. >Pen sighs after watching your expression change.
  720. >”What about a party? Cute mares, booze and invite representatives from other companies so you can trash talk each other.” She says sarcastically.
  721. “That’s one of your better ideas.”
  722. >”Stallions you’re all the same…”
  723. >You couldn’t help but laugh.
  724.  
  725. “Museum, actually…”
  726. >”hmm?” Pen looks up from her coffee. “What was that?”
  727. “Thinking about it, a museum is a good idea, it’ll inspire the younger generation by showing them our humble beginnings.”
  728. >”That it would,”
  729. “I think we can pull this off, as well I got an idea to run past you for the online hype.”
  730. >”As in getting the fans interested?”
  731. “Yeah, what about if we post teasers online all the way up to the announcement?”
  732. >”That’ll just cause fans to argue online and cause the rumor mill to turn.”
  733. “Precisely.”
  734. >Pen grins “I love it.”
  735. “A small photo on a fan forum using a fake account should do the trick.”
  736. >”Devious…”
  737. “Then it’s set, we got a plan. Hell, I thought today would be a waste day, but a lot got done. Well for a weekend anyway.
  738. >”When do you want me to start planning?”
  739. “As soon as you can. Draft up a plan for Monday and we will go from there.”
  740. >”I think I’ll start now,” Pen gets up from her seat. “Toodles…”
  741. “See ya.”
  742. >With that Pen trots out of the café leaving you.
  743. >You decide you will head off too, you stand up and drink the rest of your drink.
  744. >”Don’t forget your bill sir…” The waitress pony speaks up placing the bill on the table.
  745. >You sigh, realizing what just happened.
  746. >This is coming out of her pay.
  747.  
  748. >The hot midday sun warms your skin as you make your way home. The town has gotten much busier as ponies go about their business. You catch a few ponies trying to snap a picture of you. Probably paparazzi, at this moment it didn’t matter as you were only walking, and they kept their distance not to bother you too much.
  749. >You spot a red pony you recognize talking to a grey coated earth pony.
  750. >You wonder who Pulse is talking to, either way you will have to at least say hi to her, as it’ll be just rude to walk pass.
  751. “Hi Pulse.”
  752. >”Hi Anon,” She waves, she seems much happier today. “oh wait, this is perfect.” She pulls on your arm as you try to walk by. “Meet Drone Seven Seven Seven Three Thre-“
  753. >”I told you just call me Trips” The grey earth pony cuts in.
  754. >Trips? Oh, right he must be the changeling you hired.
  755. “You’re the changeling engineer, right?”
  756. >”Shhh! Not so loud…” He hushes you.
  757. “Why? Ponies and Changelings haven’t been enemies for decades now.”
  758. >”Still don’t trust them.” He replies curtly.
  759. >Pulse frowns at his statement, “Hey! I’m trying to help you here!”
  760. >”And you are failing!” Trips snaps back.
  761. “Okay, break it up you two. Now what’s the issue?”
  762. >”I-“ The disguised changeling starts to speak.
  763. >”He didn’t bring any bits, he can’t afford a room at the inn.” It was Pulse turn to interrupt. “I offered to let him stay at my place, but he just refuses.”
  764. >”On the hive pony! Don’t you realize the implications of me staying with you?”
  765. >”No.” She shrugs.
  766. >Trips rubs his temples with both hooves, “You are living in a room at the inn.”
  767. >”So.”
  768. >”What would it look like if you bought someling like me back?”
  769. >”Helping a pony in need.”
  770. >”…I’m not getting through to you, am I?” He groans, “Besides I’m used to sleeping outside in the rough.”
  771. >”B-but that’s horrible!” Pulse covers her mouth in shock before throwing her hooves around the changeling. “No pony should live like that changeling or no!”
  772. >”Get off me!” He struggles to escape her grip “I hate the taste of pity!”
  773. >You watch on as Trips struggles against Pulse’s death-grip of a hug.
  774. >You cough into your fist to their attention.
  775.  
  776. “I got room at my workshop.” You speak up once Pulse releases Trip from her grip.
  777. >”You expect me to live and stay at work?”
  778. “Yeah, it might be cold at night, can get hot during the day plus it gets a bit dusty  in there.” You end with a shrug.
  779. >The changeling stares at you, you couldn’t quite read his face, but the way his eyes widened made it look if there’s a hint of disbelief.
  780. >”I-it sound perfect. Just like the badlands.” He smiles. “Sure, I’ll take it!”
  781. “Really?” You were half expecting an abrupt no for an answer.
  782. >”Yeah, it sounds perfect.”
  783. “Great!” You clap your hands together “Pulse take Trips here to the workshop if you can.”
  784. >”I was leading him there anyway; I saw him wandering around aimlessly.” Pulse replies.
  785. >”I knew where I was going!”
  786. >”Hmm… No you weren’t. You walked around the same block three times.”
  787. >”Pony settlements are confusing!” Trips yells as Pulse starts to trot off.
  788. >”Are you coming or not Bugbug?” Pulse looks over her shoulder.
  789. >”Never call me that else you’ll be in a pod before you know it!” He shouts back at her before looking at you.
  790. >You raise your eyebrow.
  791. >”That mare is deluded…” He mutters before making his way towards Pulse.
  792. >You couldn’t agree more, it’s like that mare is attracted to danger. You hope hiring an unreformed changeling will cause problems.
  793. >You take a cigarette from your pack, light it and continue your way home.
  794. >Stubbing out the cigarette in your front garden you open your front door and bee line towards your computer.
  795. >Turning on the screen, you decide what to do.
  796.  
  797. >You open your email client
  798. >Just like this morning there’s no reply from Sharp, instead you got an email from Starlight.
  799. >You open the email, it reads:
  800. >>OK monkey colt I’ve found where you are hiding so I’ve booked a train for Wednesday to kick your flank. See you soon.
  801. >>Glimmer.
  802. >>Ps. Drinks are on you.
  803.  
  804. >You check the calendar, Wednesday seems clear, you guess you can see her then.
  805. >You don’t mean to ignore her; you’ve just been caught up with other things.
  806. >You email back with a simple ‘Sure’. It’s nothing you can really do to stop her.
  807.  
  808. >After you check the news, clicking on the news feed a list of headlines loads.
  809. >>BREAKING NEWS, HARMONY SPLITS, LUNA FORMS NEW VENTURE
  810. >>NEW RIVALS? CELESTIA GIVES PRESS RELEASE.
  811. >>HARMONY STOCKS LEVEL AFTER SLIDE.
  812. >>EVERFREEK HIRES AG THIEF AS INTERN, FANS SPECULATE ON RUMOR.
  813. >>KIRIN COMMUNE RETURNS HOME IN SILENCE AFTER SHORT WONDERBOLT TALKS
  814. >>NEW AGR TEAM ‘OUR TEAM’ FORMS FROM KICKBUCK CAMPAIGN.
  815. >>UNITECH PLANS TOUR OF ALL EQUESTRIA’S UNIVERSITIES.
  816.  
  817. >You grumble as you read the headline about your company. You decide to click on it and open the article.
  818. >>RUMOR has spread about the now elusive company. Everfreek, unlike the team that the old fans love and know, the radio silence is deafening. Yet, fans on the ponynet are crawling through all corners of the net to find information on the mysterious mare who Everfreek apparently hired…
  819.  
  820. >It's only to be a matter of time that they will find out about Pulse. Sure, it’s a rumor now, but as soon it is confirmed she will be swarmed by the press.
  821. >And you know Pulse and Reporters do not mix.
  822.  
  823. >With nothing else to do today, you wonder what to do for the rest of today and tomorrow.
  824.  
  825. >You enter the inn and look around. It’s like the place has been forgotten in time, except from the modern tills and the few of the guests are on their tablets.
  826. >You slide onto the bar stool and tap the bar to signal the bartender.
  827. “Beer, Hoovendale if possible,”
  828. >”Two bits,” The bartender stallion replies.
  829. >You pull out two bits from your pocket and dump it on the bar.
  830. >A glass of beer slides over the bar.
  831. >”Say, you’re Anon right? Owner of Everfreek?” The bartender asks as he cleans a glass with a cloth.
  832. “Nah, ponies confuse me with him all the time.” You jokily dismiss his question.
  833. >The bartender laughs, “From what I was aware there was one human in Equestria.”
  834. “I’m a minotaur, I was involved in a tragic barber shop incident.”
  835. >The stallion shakes his head and smiles. “You know, I used to follow Anti-grav obsessively when I was a colt.”
  836. “Fan of Everfreek then?” You take a swig of your beer.
  837. >”Pffft, no. Dodge Prospects.”
  838. You laugh, “Didn’t they go bankrupt after what? Five seasons.”
  839. >”Come on you and I both know it was bad management.” The stallion puts away the glass he was cleaning and leans on the bar with his front legs. “Besides the word around here is that they are reforming.”
  840. “Good to hear really,” You take a sip of your beer.
  841. >”Also, there has been some hear-say they are part funding the restoration of the old track.”
  842. >That can be bad news, as you were planning to train Pulse there.
  843. “You wouldn’t know who’s overseeing the project?”
  844. >”No idea, like I said rumors.” The stallion pauses as another patron waves him over to be served, “Give me moment, got to serve this gentlecolt.”
  845. >As the bartender serves you glance around the room, you spot Pulse again. Looks like this is the inn she was staying at.
  846. >She hasn’t noticed you and it seems she’s waiting for someone by a table near the door.
  847.  
  848. >You pick up your drink and shuffle to the far corner where she can’t see you, but you can see her if you lean forward.
  849. >You watch as she fidgets in her spot; she is clearing nervous of something. A few moments later a brown male Pegasus enters and makes a bee line straight to her.
  850. >She’s got a boyfriend? No, she doesn’t seem pleased to see him. They both chat for a bit, you try and listen in but the sound chattering around the bar muffles them out.
  851. >Pulse is looking more distressed, as he edges closer to her. He jabs her right in the shoulder before wrapping a hoof around her and whispering something in her ear.
  852. >She pulls back and rapidly shakes her head.
  853. >You couldn’t help noticing another stallion across from them is watching intently as he drinks his beer.
  854.  
  855. >You turn around and continue drinking, trying to ignore what’s happening. But you keep finding yourself peeking over just to make sure things weren’t getting out of hand.
  856. >The pegasus stallion is still talking to Pulse, she looks like she’s pleading for something but he just shakes his head in refusal. Your intern says something else causing him to snap back, you could just make out his raised voice.
  857. >You glimpse over at the second stallion who was watching you out of the corner of his eye. Whoever he is, he knows who you are. He waves a hoof under the table to signal you to stay put.  
  858. >You look to Pulse then back at him, the second stallion gently shakes his head. You guess he is advising you not to interfere.  
  859. >The unknown pegasus flairs his wings before folding them back in, Pulse is clearly threatened by the display. Eventually the stallion walks out of the bar with the second tailing him shortly after.
  860.  
  861. >You wait a few moments before slipping from your stool and walk up to Pulse, who is sniffling in place.
  862. You play ignorant to your tears and speak up in a friendly voice. “Hey Pulse, fancy seeing you here, I hope you're following me, are you?”
  863. >Pulse looks up and quickly wipes her tears. “Hello Anon,” It takes all her strength to muster a smile “I could say the same about you.” You could still hear the shakiness in her voice.
  864. You look at her concerned “Are you alright? You look shaken.”
  865. >”I-I I’m fine, it’s been a long day.”
  866. “Has that changeling caused you trouble? He did seem irritated by you.” You lie, you know it wouldn’t be that. You could tell the Trips threats to Pulse earlier were hollow.
  867. >”No, actually he’s a really nice pony err, changeling. I’ve spent most of the day with him showing him around.”
  868. “That’s good to know, but I can tell somethings wrong.”
  869. >Pulse looks at the floor as if she wants to tell you.
  870. >”…It’s nothing really, a little homesick.”
  871.  
  872. “I think it’s much more than that Pulse.” You fold your arms.
  873. >”It is honest.”
  874. >You raise your eyebrow.
  875. >”It is!” She looks up at you, her eyes imploring you to drop it.
  876. “I’ve watched the whole thing with those two stallions.”
  877. >”Two?”
  878. “There were two. One talking to you and one at the table.”
  879. >”I-I didn’t notice him.”
  880. “What’s going on?”
  881. >”I can’t say. Please drop it Anon.”
  882.  
  883. “Can you at least look me in the eye and tell me you’ll be okay?”
  884. >She opens her mouth but struggles to find her voice. Upon doing so her gaze falls to the floor.
  885. “Thought so.”
  886. >”Anon.”
  887. “Pulse. I need to know, give it a few weeks and everyone will know your name. I can’t have you involved in some dubious shit.”
  888. >”Please just drop it.”
  889. “Alright fine, I’ll just report it to the sheriff that somethings going on.”
  890. >”No don’t!”
  891. “What do you expect me to do? You come in to steal my AG and now you are meeting unsavory characters. On top of that you looked scared half to death from whatever he said to you.”
  892. >”I…” Pulse looks like she’s going to break down “C-can we sit down?”
  893. >Smile and nod, you’ve finally got her to open up.
  894. >After buying Pulse a drink to calm her down, you both find a quiet table in the far corner; you place your pint on the table.
  895. “Start from the beginning.”
  896. >It takes a moment for her to speak up “It started when I was in Las Pegasus.” She looks off to the side gathering her thoughts. “Times were hard, I had little bits and barely anything to call my own. So, I made my bits in illegal racing in battered old AG’s out in the Palomino Desert.”
  897. “That explains why you were able to pilot mine somewhat without destroying it.”
  898. >Pulse nods. “It was mostly cross desert racing though, we barely turned.”
  899. “Then what happened?”
  900. >”One night I was approached by some ponies claiming they were a new professional AG team looking for talent. It started out as odd jobs like scouting out abandoned buildings and looking through scrap yards for AG technologies.”
  901. “And you didn’t find that weird?”
  902. >”Not at the time, they told me the company had very limited funds. So, for me to race properly I need to find some parts.”
  903. “Then they sent you to Appleloosa.” You guess the next part.
  904. >”Yeah, they offered me twenty-five thousand bits to-“ She pauses as she sinks into her chair. With her ears pinned back, she could barely look at you. “Steal your AG… Sorry.”
  905. “But you ended up just racing on the track.”
  906. >”I couldn’t help myself, I just wanted to prove to you I could race.”
  907. “Why?”
  908. >”Because you are Anon. You’re the father of AG in Equestria!” She fires a hoof at you before slumping back down in her seat. “I was born too late to race in AG professionally.”
  909. “Okay, I got the gist of it. But what about those guys from earlier.”
  910. >”They’re from the company I told you about. They were wondering why I failed to deliver the AG. I tried telling them I needed more time, saying I gained your trust.”
  911. “So henchmen.”
  912. >”Henchponies, Yeah. But what they said I find terrifying.”
  913. “What did they say?”
  914. >”Before he left, he told me I’ll end up like Cold one day if he finds out I double crossed him.” Tears well up in her eyes. “I’m scared Anon…”
  915.  
  916. >That threat rubbed you the wrong way. The cooling system failed. You know, because you watched it happen.
  917. >You push the thoughts to the back of your mind. One thing in racing that you’ve learned over the years is to always keep focus on what's in front of you.
  918. “Pulse.”
  919. >”Yeah?”
  920. “We need to report this to the sheriff.”
  921. >”No! We can’t!”
  922. “I’m sorry but it’s the only way I can think of to keep you safe. We had an organization like this back on Earth, and if it proves true then… We’re out of our depth here.”
  923. >”But Anon, they’ll kill me. They made it clear on that.”
  924. “We don’t know that.” You are mostly reassuring yourself at this point. “Silver Star is a good person. He keeps this town safe, and he’ll keep you safe too.”
  925. >”But I was an illegal racer Anon! he’ll just arrest me.”
  926. “I have known him for years Pulse. He will hear you out, he’s a justice over law type of guy.”
  927. >”I-I don’t know…”
  928.  
  929. “Pulse. This is serious, you can’t treat this as it'll go away on its own.”
  930. >”But I don’t know what Silver Star can do.”
  931. “He’ll do something. You got good ponies that protect this town.”
  932. >”Alright, fine.” She finally takes a sip of her drink. “I’ll talk to the sheriff.”
  933. “No, we will.” You correct her. “And will go tomorrow, his office should be quiet on a Sunday.”
  934. >”Sure.” She trails off sounding unsure.
  935. “At this moment we need to get you out of this Inn, it’s a public place sure but it does close at night.”
  936. >”Do you think they’ll come here again?”
  937. “Depends, are you going to steal my AG for them?”
  938. >Wide eyed she shakes her head. “No.”
  939. “Well then, they’ll be back.” You take a swig of your beer. “Do you have any friends or family who live around these parts?”
  940. >”I’ll probably would be staying with them by now Anon,” She starts to whisper “The beds here are like rocks”
  941. >You muse on what to do.
  942.  
  943. “I got a sofa that’s probably comfier, plus it’s human sized.”
  944. >”You mean I should stay with you?”
  945. “Would be safer.” You take the last gulp of beer. It’s been a while since you had a guest round, but the anxiety is mostly having Pulse round. You hope she won't touch any of your stuff. His past record hasn’t been clean.
  946. >”Thanks Anon. I feel a lot better.”
  947. You smirk “No problem, I can’t let ponies push around my intern like this. It’s damaging company assets.”
  948. >”Oh..” A small frown forms on her face.
  949. You get up and lightly jab her in the shoulder. “I’m joking. Now come on, get your stuff, it’s getting late.”
  950.  
  951. >You wait in the bar while Pulse gathers her things in her room.
  952. >A short while later she trots down the stairs with saddlebags on her back.
  953. >”Ready.”
  954. “Good. Let’s go.”
  955.  
  956. >The walk home was uneventful, but Pulse couldn’t be anymore nervous, every scuttle or bump she either leaped or flinched. Eventually you both reach your front door; you unlock the door and motion for Pulse to go first.
  957. >You step in after Pulse and close the door behind you. She looks around your hallway a bit surprised at the height of the ceiling.
  958. >You squeeze past her and pick up the AG permits from the table.
  959. >”What are those?”
  960. “The paperwork for your AG License. I guess since you’re here, I’ll get you to sign them tomorrow and get them sent off.”
  961.  >Her ears perk up as she smiles. “Oh thank you!” She dives forward and hugs around your waist.
  962. “Thought that’ll cheer you up. Now let’s show you around.”
  963.  
  964. >You barely slept last night, too much has been playing on your mind.
  965. >’I’ll end up like Cold one day’ Pulses voice echoes through your mind. What the hell did he mean by that? Something unsettling sits in your stomach like a lead weight. You pray that it was just a threat.
  966. >Your alarm beeps cutting you from your thoughts. You sit up and rub your tired eyes.
  967. >You instinctively grab your tablet from the bedside table, hoping it’ll distract you for a while.
  968.  
  969. You tap open your new feed, and glance through the headlines.
  970. >>TGN OIL RETURNS TO INVESTING IN AG TECHNOLOGIES
  971. >>NEW AG GAME ANGERS FANS, PAY TO WIN AT FAULT?
  972. >>TOP TEN AG RACES FROM YESTERYEAR.
  973. >>DRUGS BOOZE AND MARES, THE DARK SIDE OF RACING.
  974. >>FIRE BREAKS OUT AT WONDERBOLT RESEARCH LABS
  975. >You mumble over the headlines, not many interests you at the time. You kind of feel bad for the wonderbolts though as they’ve always been an honest team.
  976. >You next open your email app.
  977. >In between the spam you see a reply from Sharp, you quickly open it.
  978. >>Sorry for the late reply, I had a rough time. I’ve lost everything I’ll tell you about it when I can.
  979. >>Don’t reply, see you soon.
  980. >Sharp Point
  981.  
  982. >You furrow your brows at the email. What the hell has happened to him? And why doesn’t he want you to reply?
  983. >You throw the tablet down on your bed. You sigh and rub your temples; you need a smoke.  You just wanted a small quiet life, but instead it seems you're being dragged into something big.
  984. >You get dressed and head downstairs. Pulse is snoring loudly half draped over the sofa with her head resting on the arm. The blanket you gave her last night is now on the floor
  985. >You decide to leave her for now. You head to the back door and light up a cigarette.
  986. >You stare out into your garden, looking at nothing in particular.
  987. >”hmmphf ugh… what time is it?” Pulse wakes up rubbing her eyes.
  988. “Around ten.”
  989. >”Hmm.. need coffee.”
  990. “Sounds like it.” You slowly blow the smoke between your lips. “Don’t forget we are seeing the Sheriff this morning.”
  991. >”Ugh…”
  992. “You agreed.”
  993. >”But I didn’t promise…” Pulse pulls the blanket over her head.
  994. “Pulse…”
  995. >”We’ll do it later…”
  996. >You flick the cigarette out the back door and march over to Pulse. You pull back the blanket and scoop her under your arm.
  997. >”Noo…It’s Sunday.”
  998. >You ignore her plea and carry her to the kitchen. You drop her in the dining chair and start to brew a coffee.
  999. “How do you have your coffee?”
  1000. >”Three sugars.” She yawns. “Better make it four.”
  1001. “I take you didn’t sleep well either.”
  1002. >She shakes her head.
  1003. >With your coffee, you both sit at the table. You take a sip before remembering about the paperwork for Pulse.
  1004. >She could do it now and get it out of the way.
  1005. >You get back up and grab the AG permit and a pen then place them in front of Pulse.
  1006. “Sign this.”
  1007. >Pulse looks over the papers with slight confusion before grinning “Oh my AG License.”  She grabs a pen with her mouth and squiggles her signature.
  1008. “You’re going to have to fill out the rest Pulse.”
  1009. >”Oh,” She turns over the paper and drops the pen from her mouth. “err… I don’t have an address.”
  1010. “Use mine.” You drag over the paper the tabletop and reach for the pen. “Gross…Pulse you slobbered all over the pen!”
  1011. >”Sorry.”
  1012. >You wipe the spit back onto the mares red coat.
  1013. >”Hey!”
  1014. “Shut it, it’s your spit.” You reply as you write down your address. “Write and fill out the rest.” You slide back the papers and place the pen in front of her.
  1015.  >Once she’s done you place the paperwork back inside its envelope.
  1016. “Well get it to the town hall tomorrow before work.”
  1017.  
  1018. >After coffee and a burnt breakfast later you both walk along the main street under the warming morning sun.
  1019. “I can’t believe you decided to warm cereal in the oven!”
  1020. >”I told you I’m sorry! I like my breakfast warm!”
  1021. “You set the oven on over 250 degrees?”
  1022. >”I thought it was in hoofenheight!”
  1023. “Fahrenheit! Ugh never mind we are here.”
  1024. >You both turn to the sheriff’s office and walk inside.
  1025.  
  1026. >”Anon?” Silver Star speaks up from his desk before grinning at Pulse. “Changed your mind have ya?”
  1027. “No but I’m thinking about it.”
  1028. >Pulse shrinks down behind the desk out of Silvers sight.
  1029.  
  1030. >”So what can I do for you both?” Silver askes.
  1031. “Pulse…” You fold your arms and look down at her.
  1032. >”Right. Sheriff, I’ve got involved with some bad ponies.” She nervously scuffs her hoof on the wooden floor. “And now I fear for my safety.”
  1033. >Silver raises his brow as he smirks. “Ah straight confession? Wew-we Anon, what did you do to her?”
  1034. “She just needed someone to talk to. She isn’t a bad mare, Silver.”
  1035. >”Just ended up on the wrong side of the law, due to rough times?” Silver asks the mare.
  1036. >Pulse nods. “Yeah, I needed the bits to make rent.”
  1037. >”Where are you from?”
  1038. >”Las Pegasus.” Pulse replies.
  1039. >”Well it’s outside my jurisdiction. So, any petty crime you did there I can overlook.”
  1040. >”Would you consider Illegal AG racing petty?”
  1041. >”That’s a thing?” Silver asks, looking surprised.
  1042. “They race in the desert in old scrapped AG’s”
  1043. >”Who would have thought. Well I hope you’ll get your license soon Pulse.” The Sheriff sits forward “So, to the more important subject, why do you think you are in danger?”
  1044. >”I’m being followed, this company tricked me into signing up with them as a pilot. Then before long they had me trying to steal Anon’s AG”
  1045. >Silver tips back his hat. “But ya didn’t get far. You were goofin’ around on the ol’ track.”
  1046. >”I kind of wanted to impress Anon. I’m kind of a fan of his.”
  1047. >”I see, this company can you give a name?”
  1048. >”Yeah, Fairstorm.”
  1049. “First I’ve heard of them.” You mumble.
  1050. >The Sheriff picks up a pen and scribbles down the company name. “Okay, so have you seen these ponies in Appleloosa?”
  1051. >”Yeah,” Pulse replies then proceeds to tell him what happened yesterday.
  1052. >You also chime in when she gets to the inn part.
  1053. >”Right.” The sheriff shuffles his notes. “I think I got enough information I need. I’ll send a few stallions out to see if they can find anypony matches those descriptions.”
  1054. “Thanks Silver.”
  1055. >”No problem, and miss,” Silver turns to Pulse and gives her a warm smile. “Keep out of trouble.”
  1056. >”I will,”
  1057. >”Good.”
  1058. >You both thank Silver Star again and leave.
  1059. “That wasn’t so hard was it?”
  1060. >”I guess not.”
  1061. “He’ll look after you. I promise.”
  1062. >”Thanks Anon.” Pulse smiles up at you. “So, what now.”
  1063. “To be honest, I just normally lay around on Sundays, I really haven’t got anything planned.”
  1064. >”Well there’s a new game in the arcade that every pony is raving about.”
  1065. “Arcade? Come on Pulse, how old are you?”
  1066. >”Old enough to know it's rude to ask a mare her age,” She sits on her haunches and folds her front legs.
  1067. “I’ll just guess you’re in your thirties.”
  1068. >”Hey! I’m 27!”
  1069. “Gotcha.”
  1070. >”No fair.”
  1071.  
  1072. >You had a spare few bits in your pocket for the machines in the arcade, it wasn’t much of an arcade in Appleloosa, it's more of a mini casino with an arcade floor. Probably put in to escape a few tax laws or something.
  1073. >You lead the way to the arcade, it wasn’t too far away from the Sheriff’s office, just the other side of Main Street.
  1074.  >Your senses were instantly overloaded by the sound of cashing out and the sound of videos being played as you entered the arcade.
  1075. >You never understood why ponies favored arcades over home consoles or computer gaming. Maybe it's due to them being very social creatures.
  1076. >Pulse runs in like a little child looking for her favourite game to play.
  1077. >You should've guessed when she stops next to an AG simulator.
  1078. >You were quite impressed with the tech, though you see a little magic involved. But you spot a fully life-like AG chair ergonomically designed for ponies with a large screen with two joysticks either side of the chair.
  1079. >You look underneath the chair to spot hydraulics; you guess that’s the haptic feedback system.
  1080. >”This one Anon! It’s even two player!”
  1081. “And..”
  1082. >”Race me!”
  1083. “No.”
  1084. >”Is it because you're too old?”
  1085. “What no!” You snap back at her
  1086.  
  1087. >”Well what is it then?”
  1088. You groan, “Fine get in newbie, I’ll show how it’s done.”
  1089. >You climb into the chair, it's very uncomfortable due to your size and body shape but you make it, you can reach the controls at least.
  1090. >You place your bit into the slot and so does Pulse.
  1091. >The screen flashes with the games logo and thumping electronic music starts to play.
  1092. >You hit start and choose your AG.
  1093. >You laugh at the made-up teams on here, Neverfreek? Surely there’s a copyright claim here somewhere. Hell, they even just made the logo blue and put a different type of tree.
  1094. >Regardless you choose your team and AG.
  1095. >Pulse selects Startech for her team and selects an AG of her choosing.
  1096. >The game loads as the bass of the music thumps you in the back.
  1097. >Eventually the game loads with a virtual crowd cheering you on and a countdown begins as the camera hovers over 14 other AI racers.
  1098. >3
  1099. >2
  1100. >1
  1101. >You jam both joys stick forward as your seat launches forward and shakes mimicking an actual start launch.
  1102. >You spot Pulse’s virtual AG in front of you, she is inside the racing line currently trading shields with a virtual racer. You see the flicker of the blue energy as they both bump into close proximity with each other as the both enter a corner.
  1103.  
  1104. >You pull behind Pulse and use the slipstream.  The other racer takes the bend wide and loses ground on the both of you. As you see your speedometer climb as you pull into the straight you start gaining on Pulse.
  1105. >You glance at the position you are in, Ninth. You are in the mid-pack.
  1106. >You prepare to overtake as you both leave the corner.
  1107.  
  1108. Note: In racing, your skill roll is now done by average of the last number of the posts requested.
  1109. If there’s 3 posts requested for the roll then it’ll be this (x+x+x)/3
  1110. The total number is the position you’ll be in after your roll and to pass the maneuver.
  1111.  
  1112. >You pull out from behind Pulses’ AG and slip past her, just before another bend.
  1113. >You pass a fair few AG's inside by turning slightly early.
  1114. “Who is the old man now Pulse?” You shout over the music.
  1115. >”I’m just behind, you know!”
  1116. >Glancing at Pulses screen you notice she’s tailgating you. A few virtual feet away.
  1117. >She manages to catch up as you both went through a chicane.
  1118. >Looking back at your screen you see that you are in 4th.
  1119. >You pass the final corner and through the finish line completing your first lap.
  1120. >Reaching the first bend again you see second and third battling out as they fly through the first corner and onto the straight.
  1121.  
  1122. >You start tailing the AG that’s in third place.
  1123.  >You both barrage around the bend following in the inside line.
  1124. >You see the chicane approaching, your push the joy sticks forward and press the top button for the afterburn.
  1125. >The screen darkens around the edges to simulate the symptoms on rapid acceleration. You pull out into the outside racing line to overtake.
  1126.  
  1127. >You swerve around the side of third place and proceed to overtake.
  1128. >The chair shakes as you mistimed you overtake; the chicane is closer than you thought.
  1129. >You see your shields flicker as you clip the side of the track.
  1130. >In AG racing it’s a costly mistake. You see Pulse fly past and claim fourth place.
  1131. >”Bye Anon!” She calls out.
  1132. >Cursing, you quickly accelerate to gain ground on her.
  1133.  
  1134. >You chase her tail along the track, another corner quickly starts to approach.
  1135. >You press the buttons on the joysticks for another boost from your afterburner, you slip onto the outside lane
  1136.  
  1137.  
  1138. >You pull around the corner with Pulse on the inside, at the midway point you slam forward the joysticks to accelerate out of the corner. Like an amateur, Pulse  continued her speed only to accelerate on the straight.
  1139. >It was too late; you pull in front of her and pull away. You look at your position, fourth.
  1140. >You slip through the last bend and through the chicane blocking every chance of Pulse overtaking.
  1141. >You hear her shouting next to you about being a cheater.
  1142. >Raising your arms up in the air you cheer yourself on as your AG sails past the finish line.
  1143.  
  1144. >You couldn’t help but smile as you climbed out the chair.  Your back is a little sore from sitting in an odd position, you stretch out giving your back an audible pop.
  1145. >As Pulse climbs out as you offer your hand for a shake.
  1146. “Not bad Pulse, not bad at all.”  
  1147. >”Thanks Anon. That was fun!” She offers a hoof and you shake.
  1148. “A little work on your cornering, I think you would beat me.”
  1149. >”Really!?” Her ears perk up as she smiles.
  1150. “Yeah really.”
  1151. >”So, what next?”
  1152. “Let’s head home and grab some lunch.”
  1153.  
  1154. >Your Alarm beeps.
  1155. >7.30am Monday.
  1156. >You roll over and turn it off.
  1157. >As per usual you grab your tablet and turn the screen on.
  1158.  
  1159. >You open your email app.
  1160. >You see a message from Pen
  1161. >>Hey Anon,
  1162. >>Thanks for lunch on Saturday, I’m just finishing some ideas to run past you.
  1163. >>See you at the workshop after lunch.
  1164. >>Pencil Push.
  1165.  
  1166. >You sigh, you don’t remember even giving Pencil your email address, honestly, it’s kind of weird how she can easily gather information about you.
  1167. >Before getting dressed you quickly flick through the news feed.
  1168. >>SAFETY STANDARDS FOR AG PILOTS?
  1169. >>UPDATES ON EQUESTRIAN AG COMMISSION
  1170. >>NEW AG MERC AVAILABLE IN STORES
  1171.  
  1172. >No headlines really catch your attention. Though you do like the retro look of the new AG models, you bookmark the page for later.
  1173. >You slip on your work clothes and make your why downstairs.
  1174. >Pulse is snoring away on the sofa, nested in her quilt.
  1175. “Pulse, get up. I’ll get the coffee on.”
  1176. >”hmm…sounds good.”
  1177. >You head to the kitchen and place two cups down then boil the kettle.
  1178. >”What’s the plan today Anon?” Pulse speaks through a yawn as she enters the kitchen.
  1179. “I need to get the new staff into shape and start on the AG.” You reply adding milk to the coffees.
  1180. >”Oh you mean Bugbug?”
  1181. >You chuckle at the Trips new nickname.
  1182. “Yeah and Spanner Throw.”
  1183. >”Don’t forget, four sugars.”
  1184. “Right and add a bit of coffee.” You shake your head as you spoon the sugar into Pulses cup.
  1185. >With a quick breakfast with your coffee you both head out to work. You made sure you handed in Pulses AG permits into the town hall on the way to the workshop.
  1186. >Upon arriving, you see your workshop door already open, peering in you see Trips talking to a brownish red unicorn stallion with a purple mane. That must be Spanner Throw.
  1187. >You listen to their conversation.
  1188. >”So, do you throw spanners or not?” Trips replies, clearly frustrated.
  1189. >”No.” The unicorn replies with a deadpan tone.
  1190. >”Then why are you called Spanner Throw.”
  1191. >”Parents called me it.”
  1192. >”Let's take a different approach, what’s your mother’s name?”
  1193. >”Daisy pick.”
  1194. >”What does she do?”
  1195. >”Picks flowers for a florist.” Spanners eye twitches, he is clearly getting agitated.
  1196. >”Right, with that logic you throw spanners!” Trips throws his fronts hoof forward.
  1197. >”No.”
  1198. >”Ahh! I had enough!” Trips pulls on his ears.
  1199. >”Morning Bugbug!” Pulse chimes in as she trots past you to meet them.
  1200. >”And, it’s only Monday.” The Changeling sighs.
  1201.  
  1202. >You cough in your first to gather everyone’s attention.
  1203. “Since everyone that is needed is here, let's start.” You speak up, “It’ll be simple work today as it’ll just be repairing this old AG behind me. Now let's put you guys to work.”
  1204.  
  1205.  
  1206. >”Spanner, I want you on technical repairs. I believe there is some frayed wiring loom and a few chips do need replacing.” You look to the changeling. “For now, either help Spanner or take a look around the AG and decide on needs fixing.”
  1207. >”Sure.” Spanner says flatly as he picks up his tools.
  1208. >”I take it you're putting him in charge of me then?” Trips frowns.
  1209. “What? No, just take this as an opportunity to impress me.”
  1210. >”Fine,”
  1211. >Man, where did that come from? You see why it said temperamental on his overview.
  1212. >You watch Trips fly over the AG and inspect the machine, tapping the hull once or twice.
  1213. “Alright…Pulse.” You turn around to the red mare. “We'll be opening this place up to the public soon, so everything needs to be organized and cleaned.”
  1214. >She replies with a nod of her head and trots off to her job.
  1215. >You fold your arms as a smile creeps onto your face. To be honest having workers around the workshop is something you never thought you would miss.
  1216. >First things first, you need to get a new Gyro Stabilizer. You've been laying it off for too long now.
  1217. >You pick up your tablet and search through a few online marketplaces.
  1218. >After a while searching you find a few that might be worth buying.
  1219. >You found two “new” old stock ones, a second hand one from Bitbay and another that can be custom made.
  1220.  
  1221. >You tap the checkout icon and your order is complete.
  1222. >It will be delivered tomorrow.
  1223. >You wonder how long it’ll take to fit you look over to Spanner.
  1224. “Hey Spanner! Have you fitted a Gyro Stabilizer before?” You shout across to him”
  1225. >The unicorn lowers a mesh of wires in his magic. ”A few times, mostly mana base ones.”
  1226. >Close enough, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. As long the gyro is aligned right it’ll be fine.
  1227. >You continue to idly flick through web pages on your tablet, until you hear arguing between your two engineers.
  1228. >”Sweet Celestia what are you doing!” you hear Spanner shout from behind the AG.
  1229. >”Making a new seal for the cockpit. The rubber is frayed!” Trip snaps back.
  1230. >”You're just playing with your puke!”  
  1231. >”I’m molding it! And it’s black resin.”
  1232. >”We can just order new rubber ones!”
  1233. >”Black resin is fine! We used to build hives out of this stuff!”
  1234. >You place the tablet down with a sigh and walk around the other side of the AG.
  1235. >You see Trips molding a slimy rubbery substance between his hooves, carving out grooves with his fangs with acute accuracy.
  1236. >”Besides it lasts longer than rubber. More durable.”
  1237. >You had to side with Spanner here it looked disgusting, but you cannot help but admire his craftsmanship. The way he vomits out more black goo he acts like a vintage 3d printer.
  1238.  
  1239. >You look down the rubbery material.
  1240. “I have to admit that’s pretty disgusting.” Trips frowns at you, you hold up a finger to silence him long enough for you to continue. “But can you tell me more about this resin of yours?”
  1241. >Trips grunts “I keep telling the food bag over there.” He fires a hoof at Spanner, “That black resin is superior to any rubber or plastic that any pony could ever manufacture.”
  1242. >Once you get a researcher you may put the material through extensive testing. But for now, it’ll be best to just order some new seals online.
  1243. “I see.” You fold your arms, “Tell me has this stuff been used on any AG technologies in the past?”
  1244. >”No…Yes. Kind off.” Trips looks away from you. “It was at one point, mostly for experimental designs.”
  1245. >You feel there’s something more to the story, but the look on his face seems like he’s not willing to say anything more.
  1246.  
  1247. >You click your tongue in thought.
  1248. “Tell you what, finish making that seal and order some rubber seals.”
  1249. >Trips groans and kicks the black resin across the floor.
  1250. >”I’m telling you, it’s much better!” He snaps, pinning his ears back to his skull.
  1251. “Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. We need to research into the material before we can efficiently put it to use. Rubber is tried and tested as a seal.” You raise your voice a little bit.
  1252. >”It’ll work!”
  1253. “Like I said, not after research. Like how many G’s can black resin handle before it warps? Can it handle extreme pressures? if so, how much?”
  1254. >Trips opens his mouth to answer back but he has no answer.
  1255. >You kneel to meet his eye level.
  1256. “Once we know those answers, then maybe we will use it. But this moment we are sticking to what we know.”
  1257. >”Fine…” The changeling give’s in.
  1258. >Your tablet rings out a tune from across the workshop.
  1259. >You stroll over and look at the screen.
  1260. >It’s a call but the screen name is just displaying an error.
  1261. >You have no idea who is calling.
  1262. >You tap Answer on your tablet.
  1263. >A video feed loads on its screen, once connected a face of an old unicorn appears.
  1264. “Sharp?”
  1265. >”Hey…”
  1266. “Why didn’t your name appear?”
  1267. >”Proxy.” He gives you a curt reply.
  1268. “Right.. so, what’s up?” You ask looking in the background trying to figure out where he’s too.
  1269. >It takes a while for him to speak up. “I need your help Anon.”
  1270. “Help?”
  1271. >”I can’t explain here. Can you meet me? I’m nearby.”
  1272. >You look at the time, it’s 11am you got to meet Pen in a few hours regarding the launch of your company.
  1273.  
  1274. >You manage to take a glimpse behind him as he slips out of frame. It looks like he’s nearby the main street, not far away from town hall.
  1275. “Come to my workshop. We can talk here.”
  1276. >”Sure…where’s it to?”
  1277. “By the looks of it, you're nearby the town hall, head there you can’t miss it. Take a left, follow the street till you're nearly out of town. My workshop looks like an old barn with metal doors.”
  1278. >”Alright. I’ll see you soon.”
  1279. “Call me if you get lost.”
  1280. >”Right, thanks for this Anon.”
  1281. >The tablet bleeps as the video call ends.
  1282. >You dread to think what happened to him; he was never the one for trouble. Plus, he did look a bit fazed.
  1283. >”Who was that?” Pulse appears behind you, making you jump a little.
  1284. “Sharp. My old researcher.”
  1285. >”Oh, a new member of staff?”
  1286. “No, old friend of mine.”
  1287. >”You look worried.” She says with some concern.
  1288. “I’m fine.”
  1289. >”You sure?”
  1290. “Yeah, just get back to work.” You place the tablet down on your workbench.
  1291. >”Actually, I’m all done.”
  1292. >You look around the workshop. Everything is packed neatly bar from the tools that Trips, and Hammer are using.
  1293. “Not bad. Are you sure your talent isn’t tiding?” You smirk.
  1294. >Pulse screws up her muzzle at that. “Are you kidding?”
  1295. “I don’t know, I think a cleaner would be good for you.”
  1296. >”Hey! I’m just doing your dirty work so I can fly the AG again.”
  1297. “In time, Sport.” You ruffle her mane. “Go and talk to the engineers, one of things you’ll need to know is how the machine works.”
  1298. >”Why?” She cocks her head to one side.
  1299. “Because the more you know about the machine the more you can push it to its limits.”
  1300. >”Oh, ok.”
  1301. “Just don’t bother them too much, ask then listen.”
  1302. >Pulse nods and trots over to them.
  1303.  
  1304. >You return to our bench and look through your company records. After a while you hear hoof steps walk up to you. Looking up from your paperwork you see Sharp Point, he’s aged quite a bit than you thought as you could only see his face from the video call. By the looks of it some weight as well.
  1305. “Shit man, you look awful.” You comment looking at his shabby grey coat and messy mane.
  1306. >”Yeah, it’s been rough.”
  1307. “What do you mean rough?”
  1308. >”They’ve taken everything.”
  1309. “Who’s they?”
  1310. >”I-I don’t know, my house was robbed then torched, “ He stutters, you can see him visibly shake “They took all my research, backups and all!”
  1311. “How did you know you were robbed, not just burned?”
  1312. >”I put trackers on all my devices, they’re being fast tracked all around Equestria as we speak!”
  1313. “Have you told the authorities?”
  1314. >He looks away and nods.
  1315. “Well that's good at least. But it’s old research anyway, I don’t see the problem.”
  1316. >”I-I never s-stopped Anon and dappled in things I’m not proud of.”
  1317. “What do you mean?”
  1318. >He pauses as he clenches his jaw.
  1319. >”You know, mana-based technologies.” He looks down at the floor, you spot a hint of guilt on his face.
  1320. >You knew there’s something more to it than that.
  1321. >Sure, you didn’t like magic when it comes to AG, as you are a tech purist, but you’ll never loose a friend over it.
  1322. “You should know me better than that Sharp. There’s more, isn’t there?”
  1323. >”There is.” Sharps ears fall back as he sinks. “I’m sorry Anon.”
  1324. You fold your arms “Sorry about what?”
  1325. >”I know it’s widely looked down upon in the AG communities, but I’ve been conducting research into AG for military uses…”
  1326. >You stay quiet, there was always a debate back on Earth regarding this issue. You always just ignored it and continued what you loved, that was the racing.
  1327. >But now the issue rears its ugly head once more, this time you cannot just shrug it off.
  1328. >You sigh and rub your face.
  1329. “Damn, Sharp. How did you get caught up in this?” You slowly shake your head. “You had always struck me a pacifist. Military research?” You struggle to form your own thoughts.
  1330. >He stays silent for a moment before speaking, “Anon, I know . But I didn’t realize what I was doing before it was too late.” He falls back onto his haunches and continues. “I needed the money, same as the others when AGR collapsed.” His eye’s drop to the floor again. “I took a small contract with a small company – What I believe to be a small company.”
  1331. >Something stirs within you. It’s starting to sound familiar to Pulse’s story.
  1332. >”It started out with simple improvements with armors and shielding, but as time went on it became more.”
  1333. “What do you mean more?”
  1334. >”Thicker armor and more advanced shielding,” He flattens his ears back with his hoofs, as if to pull them back. “It was always more, the AG’s no longer looked like the racers were used to. The only thing I could think of when I saw the prototypes is - war machine.”
  1335. “Sadly, how much I would like to see AG technologies just for racing, I guess it’s only inevitable it’ll fall into military use.”
  1336. >”You mean it happened back on your world?”
  1337. “Yeah,” You rub your shoulder, “I’m kind of surprised it took this long for your ponies to adapt it to such uses. With the guilt on your face I can see why.”
  1338. >”So, you’re not going to be angry at me?”
  1339. “No, you told me the truth.”
  1340. >”Thanks Anon.”
  1341. >With this new information you ponder what to do. Sharp is one of your longest friends here in Equestria, you can’t turn him away, can you?
  1342.  
  1343. >You look over to Pulse who is happily talking to Trips, who is pointing out some of the components of the AG to her.
  1344. “This company.”
  1345. >”What about it?” Sharp asks looking over in the same direction as you.
  1346. “Is it called Fairstorm by any chance?”
  1347. >”Yes, it is. You know of them?”
  1348. “Only recently.” You turn your attention back to the unicorn. “It seems using violent or threatening tactics is one of their game plans.”
  1349. >Sharp does not look away from Pulse and your staff, “I fear how far they will go and what they're capable of.” He groans, “I just wanted to live a peaceful life and do what I enjoy.”
  1350. >You think back to the inn, that stallion. Could it be true what he said about Cold?
  1351. “I fear that too,” You nod over to Pulse, “See Pulse over there?”
  1352. >”The mare?” Sharp looks up at you.
  1353. “Yeah, she had a run in with them. They were threatening her.”
  1354. >”What about?” He tilts his head to one side.
  1355. “If she double crossed them, she’ll,” You pause and wonder to tell him the rest.
  1356. >”She will do what?”
  1357. “End up like Cold.”
  1358. >Sharp jolts up before he starts to tremble. “Are they implying?”
  1359. “Maybe? I don’t know Sharp.” You pull a cigarette from its pack, thinking about it puts you nerves on end. “I just hope they’re bluffing.”
  1360. >”Have you told anyone about this?”
  1361. “Like I side I hope they are bluffing.”
  1362. >”So why are you telling me this?”
  1363. “I thought you should know; he was your friend to Sharp.” You light your cigarette, “Besides this rabbit hole is deep, and I wanted to show you how far it can go.”
  1364. >”I-Im going to get some fresh air.” Sharp stammers out, “This is too much.”
  1365. >You watch him walk out of the workshop with his head hung low as a familiar pink unicorn comes trotting in.
  1366. >Pen pauses and looks at Sharp with some surprise.
  1367. >”Sharp? Sharp Point?”
  1368.  
  1369. “He’s having a rough time Pen, chat to him later.” You shout over to her.
  1370. >She looks at Sharp then back to you. Sharp continues to walk out the workshop after giving a little nod to her.
  1371. >”What happened? Never seen him so shaken up before” The unicorn mare asks as she trots up to you.
  1372. “Like I said, a rough time.” You finish off your cigarette. “Do you know him?”
  1373. >”Yeah I do, we go way back at Canterlot university. He was in a few of my classes.”
  1374. “Really?” You raise an eyebrow. “Couldn’t imagine you and him studying the same subjects.”
  1375. >”Both of us took business and trade as a secondary course. Of course, he was more focused on science. Can’t remember what science course he was on though.” She taps her chin with a hoof.
  1376. “I see, he never really mentioned you at all, and I knew him for years…err no offence.”
  1377. >”None taken,” she waves a hoof. “We weren’t close friends, more acquaintances than anything.”
  1378. >You look back out through the workshop doors. Is it worth letting Pen know what’s happening? Also it seems she is knowledgeable when it comes to AG companies.
  1379. “Hey Pen..” You speak up.
  1380. >”Yes?” She looks over to you.
  1381. “Ever heard of a company called Fairstorm?”
  1382. >Her face scrunches up for a moment, “Heard it thrown around a few times, why?”
  1383. “Just keep you distance from them. They have been giving us trouble.”
  1384. >She glances over her shoulder towards Sharp who was pacing outside the doors.
  1385. >”I will.”
  1386. “Anyway I got your email, what do you have for me?” You change your tune.
  1387. >”Oh! Right!” She pulls out her tablet. “Since this company has some prestige behind it, I’m proposing to do viral marketing.”
  1388. “Viral marketing?”
  1389. >”I’ve been looking over the AG forums on the ponynet. Like we discussed before, we drop some ‘leaked images’” She quotes with her hooves. “On to them and let the fans go wild over it for a while, then we drop the date for the relaunch.”
  1390. “You think it’ll work?”
  1391. >”Sure, plus it’ll save a lot of Bits.”
  1392. “Didn’t you shoot down my idea at our last meeting? Plus, thanks for leaving me with the bill” You fold your arms.
  1393. >”Ah, I am sorry about that, got too excited. Next one's on me.” She sheepishly replies. “Regarding your idea, yeah, I’ve just professionalized it.”
  1394. >You couldn’t help but to roll your eyes.
  1395. >”I know, I know, but it’s hard to hype up a museum. But this way it’ll give the fans and media something to chew on.” The unicorn flicks through her tablet and shows you some ideas for the ‘leaks’
  1396.  
  1397. “An obscure photo of the rebuilt AG being repaired is probably the best idea. At this moment I rather keep the staff out of the limelight.”
  1398. >”Sure,” Pen walks over to the AG with her tablet hovering in front of her.
  1399. >She notices Trips and hums in thought as he works away on some wiring.
  1400. >”You’re a changeling, right?”
  1401. >Trips sighs then gives the unicorn a deadpan look. “No, I’m a Pegasus who found black paint.”
  1402. >”Perfect, just what I need. Anon wants me to take a photo of you working.” She chirps ignoring his sarcasm.
  1403. >”Ask Mr Doesn’t Throw Spanners.” He points up to Spanner Throw who is working in the cockpit.
  1404. >Both flinches back as a spanner clanks on the ground beside them.
  1405. >”I bucking knew it!” Trips shouts up at the cockpit.
  1406. >Spanner peers over the side and shouts back down to him, “I dropped it you ingrate!”
  1407. >”Ok you two, that’s enough!” Pen cuts in. “Trips, can you change your appearance so I can take a photo.”
  1408. >”Sure,” Trips replies before a green flame erupts over his body, looking a spitting image of Spanner Throw but with a tiny horn.
  1409. >Pen tries to stifle a chuckle behind her hoof.
  1410. >”I swear to Celestia bug!” The real Spanner bellows from the cockpit. “Keep this up and I’ll ground you into paste and feed you to the bats!”
  1411. >”I mean change into a pony that’s not easily identifiable.” Pen asks, trying to keep a straight face.
  1412. “Just do what she says Trips and leave Spanner alone.” You chime in as you make your way over to them.
  1413. >Trips finishes laughing, “Fine, fine.” He changes his appearance to a navy-blue unicorn. “There. Happy?”
  1414. >Pen nods “Now continue what you're doing.” She watches Trips continue rewiring between the panels of the AG. She snaps a few photos with her tablet and thanks him.
  1415. >Spanner appears back over the side of the cockpit, “Hey it looks good on you…” He pretends to hold back some laughter “…Bugbug.”
  1416. >”Don’t you dare start that!” Trips snaps back at him. “You’ll be in a pod before you know it!”
  1417. >Spanner snorts at his threat.
  1418. “Get back to work you two!” You yell over your shoulder as you walk back to your workbench with Pen. “I’m getting to the point I’m worried about them tearing each other apart then them doing a bad job.”
  1419. >”They’ll be fine, Anon. Its stallions being stallions.” She replies, tapping away at her tablet screen. “There, done.”
  1420. “Already?”
  1421. >”Yep,” She nods. “Had the accounts already set up to post the image and share it to get it started.”
  1422. “Nice.”
  1423.  
  1424. >You hear Spanner call out to somepony from the AG.
  1425. >”Hey new guy! I wouldn’t touch that if I was you. It’s bug vomit.”
  1426. >”It’s black resin!” You hear Trips yell back.
  1427. >You spot Sharp inspecting the black resin that Trips made earlier. He lifts it up with his magic and inspects it with a close eye.
  1428. >”Black resin, you mean you made this Mr uhhh…” Sharp freezes when he sees the changeling hover towards him. How he missed him before you do not know.
  1429. >”Just call me Trips and yes I’m a changeling.” He finishes off the last bit by darting a stare at Pen.
  1430. >Sharp quickly regains his composer, “Sorry, Trips did you make this?”
  1431. >”Made it this morning. Feed me some food, water and love and I can make it.”
  1432. >”Fascinating. Would it be possible to have a sample?”
  1433. >”Take the whole thing. It’s not needed now.” Trips shrugs.
  1434. >A smile forms on your lips. Maybe you can use this to your advantage.
  1435.  
  1436. ”Hey Sharp, there’s space here for a lab.” You chime in, the unicorn looks over his glasses, holding up a hand before he could reply to your continued, “you're down on your luck, and I really need you back Sharp, you're like the smartest pony I know.”
  1437. >Sharp continues to stare at you before letting out his breath, “Alright, I’ll join but I would need a proper lab.”
  1438. “Wouldn’t have it anyway, come to think of it, we’re going to grow out of this place before we know it.” You look around the workshop upon remembering what you just said there’s space here.
  1439. >”You’re going to have to move Anon, if you are planning to have a full team then this place won't do.”
  1440. “I realise that Sharp. I originally brought this place just for me.”
  1441. >”There're plenty of old factories around Appleloosa, most of them are abandoned after the bust.” You here Spanner Throw chime in from behind you followed by Trips.
  1442. >”Oh! What about your old workshops on the outskirts of Ponyville?” This time Pulse add’s trotting up to the group.
  1443. “I don’t remember calling a staff meeting.” You frown and fold your arms.
  1444. >”We’re taking lunch Anon, plus the unicorn is right, we need to move, there’s not enough room to swing a cat here, or throw a spanner.” Trips replies while Spanner mutters under his breath.
  1445. “Alright those are good ideas, but I don’t know if they’re for sale.”
  1446. >Bar from Trips, all the ponies trot off and grab their tablets and start to scroll through them.
  1447. >”Hey I never knew a mare could do that with those tools…” Trips mentions looking over Spanner's shoulder at his tablet.
  1448. >”Will you buck off!” Spanner shoulders Trips away before returning to his screen.
  1449. You sigh and slowly shake your head, “Do you guys dislike this workshop that bad?”
  1450. >”Dislike is a weak word.” Spanner mumbles.
  1451. >”It doesn't matter how much I clean…” Pulse stares off into space.
  1452. >”A move to a bigger place would get investors excited. It shows your upscaling.” Pen finally speaks up from across the workshop. “Also the photos have been realised on the net now Anon.”
  1453. You nod, “Noted,” You pick up your tablet and scroll through some business properties.
  1454. >Maybe your staff is right, this place won't hold a full company.
  1455. >Another idea forms in your mind as you see an advertisement for building contractors, this workshop does have a fair bit of land around it, that’s included in the deed. Maybe expanding the workshop would be a cheaper way to go.
  1456. >Besides if you do move it’ll have to be after the company relaunch.
  1457. >You muse over the ideas put forward.
  1458.  
  1459. >Moving back to Ponville would be nice, also remodeling an old factory could have it’s pro’s, and maybe be a bit cheaper. Moving or extending the workshop will have to be put back on the back burner but I would need to be done eventually.
  1460. >”Hey Anon!,” Pulse shouts over to you, “We’re all heading to the bar after work, you want to come?”
  1461. “It’s Monday, we all got work tomorrow, I don’t fancy having hungover staff working on expensive equipment.”
  1462. >”Come on,” Pen joins in, “It’ll be great to all get to know each other and it’ll be only the one.”
  1463. “They all say that,” You mutter, “I got a busy day tomorrow, in fact we all do,  got the gyro stabilizer being delivered plus a meeting with Starlight.”
  1464. >”Starlight from Unitech?” Pen asks, looking amused.
  1465. “Yes that one, we go back a long way, surprise you didn’t know that Pen,”
  1466. >”I do, but besides that, are you coming or not?”
  1467. >You groan.
  1468. >You guess it could be a good opportunity to know your staff. A well bonded team works wonders on the track. But at the same time this is a business.
  1469.  
  1470. Agree to go to the bar after work.
  1471. Refuse and have a quiet night in. Skips to Tuesday.
  1472.  
  1473. >You groan, it's obvious that these ponies are excited, being that AG racing is making a comeback but there’s a lot of work to do.
  1474. “Ok listen up,” You raise your voice a little, “I’ll cut a deal with you all, I know I can't control what you do outside of work, but can you guys postpone it until Friday and I promise I’ll tag along.” You pause to listen to a few groans, “I know you guys want the glamor of the parting, the drinks and the other things that come with this sport, but not now, not this week., there's too much to do.”
  1475. >”Can we at least go for a quick drink?” Pulse pipes up.
  1476. “Like I said, it’s your choice, if you're still intoxicated in the morning, then consider your contract terminated.”
  1477. >”Harsh,”
  1478. “This is a job Pulse, well for you and an educational internship.” You hate to be this type of boss, but from past experience, especially with Cold, you have to crack the whip sometimes. “Anyway, back to work, Lunch is over, I want that AG prepared for its new stabilizer for tomorrow morning.”
  1479. >Trips and Spanner both nod and head to the AG.
  1480. >The day draws to a close and you lock up the workshop and make sure Trips has a key to get back in later.
  1481. >Pulse still decides on going to the bar with the others. You remind them of your warning before they leave.
  1482. >Sitting at home you twiddle your thumbs, you kind of worry about Pulse. You're sure the others seem level headed.
  1483. >Fuck it.
  1484. >You quickly change out of your work clothes into your standard jeans and jacket and head out.
  1485. >You can guess what bar they would be in.
  1486. >The raceway in.
  1487. >Became a bit of a dive in recent years, but the drinks are cheap at least.
  1488.  
  1489. >As the sun sets you make your way along the street and push through the bars doors.
  1490. >Your suspicions are correct, they are all sat on the table near the front.
  1491. >You had to admit, you saw no spirits or hard booze in their glasses, so they seem to have kept their word.
  1492. >”Anon! You decided to come!” Pulse waves at you.
  1493. “Well I should really get to know you all. Plus to keep you out of trouble Pulse.”
  1494. >Everyone chuckles except Spanner who was twirling his drink in his magic.
  1495. >Pulse sinks in her chair.
  1496. >You tell the others you’ll be back and head to the bar only to be stopped by Sharp who already had one for you in his magic.
  1497. >Thanking him you sit down next to Pen you take a swig.
  1498. “So why did you guys want me to come anyway, inviting your boss is a bit weird don't you think?”
  1499. >”To see you outside of work Anon.” Pulse answers. “Like did you forget that your legenary when it comes to AG racing?”
  1500. >”Not sure about Legendary.” Sharp muses from across the table, “Anon’s was more like the mascot of the company.”
  1501. “Please, without me Sharp you would have still been working in a supermarket.” You retort with a smirk.
  1502. >”That job was to get me through university!”  
  1503. >”Really you worked in a supermarket?”
  1504. >Sharp nods, “Yeah, I met Anon, when he was visiting Canterlot to meet the Princesses.”
  1505. >”Wait you met Luna and Celestia?” Pulse asks.
  1506. “Well yeah, a big bipal ape crashes outside of the Everfree in something that was nothing seen before will get their attention.”
  1507. >”Story has it that Celestia had the guards cease all your tech from your world.” Pen speaks over her glass.
  1508. You laugh, back then you didn’t. Your original AG, even though destroyed, was your pride and joy. “Yeah, I never got the remains of my AG back.”
  1509. >””How did you end up in Equestria anyway?” Spanner eventually joins the conversation.
  1510. >You feel your smile drop, damn even now, all these years, that question still stings.
  1511. >Like a script you give the best answer you care to let.
  1512. “I was racing, Temtesh Bay, I’m not sure but I was in the midpack and there was a bright light. My AG shook like mad and before I knew it I was tumbling through a forest.”
  1513. >Pen notices your expression and her face looks back at you with empathy. “Seems like a bad memory.”
  1514. “Kind of, it was the injuries I endured. If Twilight and Starlight didn’t find me, I would have been a goner.
  1515. >”Well you survived, and brought AG to us!” Pulse smiles.
  1516. “Yeah, I guess,”
  1517. >Pen notices your mood drop lower and speaks up again, “So tell us, what was AG’s hayday like? When it was in its prime?”
  1518. You smile back at her, to thank her for shifting the direction of the conversation. “Well, busy I guess, during the season we were always traveling and racing.”
  1519. >”Have you got any good stories when your team was on tour?” Trips asks, his voice seems to throw you off as it changes with his disguise.
  1520. >Sharp laughs, “We will be here all night. Plus Cold would be the protagonist in most of them.”
  1521. “He would,” You chuckle as a few come to mind. “Alright, I got one, you’ll remember this one Sharp. One day Cold decided to use his fame and prestige to pull a Kirin ‘chick’ while on tour” You air quote with your fingers to highlight the point,”
  1522. >”Oh sweet Celestia,” Sharp breaks into laughter. “It’s this one. He’ll haunt you for telling that one Anon.”
  1523. You smirk,“I told him that I will tell everyone I meet and I still keep that promise to this very day. That's what he gets for pinning the blame on me for the ordeal.”
  1524. >For a moment, it feels like the old days as you tell the story.
  1525. >You couldn’t help but smile at your new team as they all chat to one another.
  1526. >Even Spanner and Trips are getting along, somewhat.
  1527. >Looking down at your empty glass, a part of you want to carry on, but you need to get home.
  1528. “Alright guys, I’m heading off,” You mention as you get up from your chair.
  1529. >”See you Anon,” Pen waves.
  1530. >”But I haven't finished yet.” Pulse sighs looking at her quarter full glass.
  1531. “Come on Pulse, just down the rest, I ain't staying up to let you in.”
  1532. >”I won't be long,” She replies.
  1533. “No Pulse enough trouble has followed you already. Being out late isn’t the best idea isn’t it.”
  1534. >”I guess,” Pulse shrugs before gulping down her drink. “See you all in the morning.”
  1535. >”See you Pulse,” Pen says her goodbyes along with the others.
  1536. >You both slip out of the bar into the dark street.
  1537. >You spot a shadowy figure slip away into a dark alleyway seeing you with Pulse.
  1538. >Not sure if you were being paranoid, but your gut tells you Pulses troubles are far from over.
  1539.  
  1540.  
  1541.  
  1542. >Your alarm buzzes waking you from your sleep.
  1543. >You search around in a mid morning daze and turn off your alarm.
  1544. >Turning on your tablet you are blinded by the bright screen.
  1545. >Grumbling you decide what to check.
  1546.  
  1547.  >You open your email app and scroll through your inbox.
  1548. >You take note that your delivery will arrive soon, as mentioned in the email from the courier company.
  1549. >You continue to scroll through some more spam and newsletter until your thumb lands over a message from Pen.
  1550. >Tapping the screen you open the email.
  1551. >>Anon,
  1552. >>I’m making you aware that some ponies were snooping around the workshop in the early hours this morning.
  1553. >>I found Trips stumbling along the mainstreet, he seemed to have taken a few hits to the head. I took him to A&E to get him checked out. Will be late to work.
  1554. >>Regards
  1555. >>Pen
  1556.  
  1557. >Well shit.
  1558. >This is bad news, could it have been Fairstorms work?
  1559. >Then again it could have been a few regular thieves.  
  1560. >You rest your tablet on the bed and get ready for work.
  1561. ”Hey Pulse, wake up.” You nudge the sleeping pony on your sofa.
  1562. >”Ugh…Is it Friday yet?” She mumble rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
  1563. “No, it’s Tuesday,” You head into the kitchen, “Coffee?” You raise your voice a tad for her to hear.
  1564. >”Yeah.”
  1565. >You hear Pulse hooves clop on your kitchen floor as she sits at the table.
  1566. “Got some bad news.” You state as you pour the water into the cup, “Trips is in A&E”
  1567. >”What!?” Pulse snaps from her sleepy mood, “What happened?”
  1568. “Some ponies were snooping around the workshop, I guess he chased them off and got himself roughed up.”
  1569. >”That’s awful,” Your pilot raises her forehooves to her cheeks, “I-Is he okay?”
  1570. “Not sure, found out from Pen this morning as she was the one who found him. I guess we’ll find out later.”
  1571. >”Anon...do you think…” She mumbles.
  1572. >You know what she is going to say.
  1573. “I don’t know Pulse, it could be some thieves, over excited fans, hell, could have been some delinquent teenagers.”
  1574. >”I guess.”
  1575. You sigh and place the cup in front of her. “Don’t worry. I’m sure the sheriff will place some of his boys around the area once he hears of this.”
  1576.  
  1577. >After a while, you both finish your coffees and breakfast and head to the workshop.
  1578. >Spanner is already outside thumping on the door for Trips to open up.
  1579. >”Open up you lazy bug, we got a full day's work ahead of us!” He yells through the workshop doors.
  1580. “No point Spanner, Trips isn’t in there.”
  1581. >”Did the bug quit?” He asks, but you couldn’t tell if he was being hopeful.
  1582. “No he’s in hospital, apparently he got rough up last night while protecting the workshop.”
  1583. >The unicorn's face drops into a frown, “Damn, that means I’ll be installing the stabiliser myself.”
  1584. You roll your eyes at his remark and open the workshops doors, you and Pulse gasp upon the sight of the place.
  1585. >Tools and parts were slung everywhere and scorch marks litter the walls. Even the AG has taken a few hits. You can see a trail of green blood along the floor towards the window.
  1586. >”Sweet Celestia, there must have been a few,” Spanner comments looking at the mess.
  1587. >”I-I really hope he’s okay…” Pulse eye’s begin to well up upon the sight of the blood.
  1588. You pull a cigarette pack from your pocket and light up. “We will find out when Pen comes, for now I guess we better start cleaning up.”
  1589. >Both of your staff nods,
  1590. >”Anon!” You turn to see Sharp running up to you, “It’s Trips,”
  1591. “We know, Pen emailed me.”
  1592. >Sharp pauses and peers into the workshop, “For love of…” His jaw hangs open in shock, “They really did a number on this place.”
  1593. >Your old friend cautiously walks in and glances around the place, “Has anything been taken?”
  1594. “Haven't checked yet. Being the AG is the most expensive thing here, or even in Appleloosa, I’m starting to doubt it were thieves.”
  1595.  
  1596. >”Delivery!” A courier shouts as he unloads a heavy box from his delivery wagon. He uses his magic to push the box to you, “Phew, sign here please.” He says with a smile, in stark contrast with everyone else's mood.
  1597. >He magics his tablet out of thin air and you scrawl your signature with a finger.
  1598. >”Have a good d-” The delivery stallion pauses mid sentence when he sees your workshop. “Oh, what happened here.”
  1599. “A break in” You mutter.
  1600. >”Sorry to hear that good sir,” he tips his hat for a goodbye and leaves.
  1601. >You look down at the big box, at least the stabiliser is here.
  1602. >Flicking the ciggerette but on the floor you stub it out with your heel.
  1603. “Alright let's get everything back in order.”
  1604. >”Are we still installing the stabilizer today?” Spanner asks.
  1605. “That’s what I’m hoping.”
  1606. >”I’m sorry Anon, but it’ll take two to install it and with good blueprint knowledge too. If I do it myself, it’ll be a poor job and AG stabilization isn’t something  to risk.” He replies.
  1607. “To be honest I wouldn’t expect you to work alone.”
  1608. >You bite in the inside of your mouth in thought as you look over your remaining staff.
  1609.  
  1610. “Alright,” You wave everyone into the building, “Lets clean this mess up, and Spanner, I’ll give you a hand fitting the stabilizer.”
  1611. >Spanner nods as Sharp and Pulse starts cleaning up.
  1612. >A few hours pass and the workshop is somewhat back to normal and most things are returned to their rightful place.
  1613. >You rummage through the drawers of your workbench and pull out a knife and proceed to cut along the tape of the big box.
  1614. >You pull out the packaging and the blueprints.
  1615. >Spanner unfolds the paperwork and reads through them, occasionally murmuring to himself.
  1616. “I’m hoping you understand them,” You glance over at him.
  1617. >He takes a moment to finish what he’s reading and nods, “I can fit it if that's what you are asking. But the calibration…” he flicks to another sheet, “It’s done by computer, programming it would be a problem as it’s out of my skill set.”
  1618. >Sharp upon hearing Spanner, he trots over and glances at the plans. ”Can I have a look?”
  1619. >Spanner gives over the plans.
  1620. >You watch Sharps eyes dart back and forth across the page, with a smile he nods. “It’s coded in Cantor Plus, a useful language for crunching numbers quickly.”
  1621. “I was hoping to reuse some of the code from the old one if needs be.” Realising what you said, You hold a finger up to Sharp as you know what he is going to say, “I know, I originally never intended to race this thing at highspeeds.”
  1622. >”Still, I’d rather have it done from scratch. I can start now if you wish,”
  1623. “How long will it take?”
  1624. >”About a hour or two, look,” He shows you the papers, “You just need to tell the onboard computer to read the x, y and z axis and for it to adjust the roll, pitch, and yaw accordingly.”
  1625. You scratch your head as you voice the question that is forming in your mind, "Who programmed the gyro's back in the day?"
  1626. >Sharp looks at you confused, "Quick Type, she was under my management?"
  1627. "Oh right...Her..."
  1628. >"You don't remember her do you?"
  1629. "No." You say flatly.
  1630. >Sharp sighs, "Do you want me to code it?"
  1631.  
  1632. “Go ahead, the old code is on my old laptop. It’s still the same password as before.”
  1633. >”Thanks, I’ll be using it to code anyway, now I just need to remember my typing spell, your keyboard layout why start with Q-W-E-R-T-Y I do not know…” Sharp continues to ramble on as he trots away to find your laptop.
  1634. “Right, shall we get this fitted?” You ask Spanner.
  1635. >”Ready and waiting.”
  1636. “Alright this thing weighs a ton, getting this behind the cockpit will be a challenge.”
  1637. >”I’ve already undone the bolts for the back panels yesterday, they should pop off.”
  1638. “Good to know, help me drag the A-frame over and we’ll hoist it in.”
  1639. >”As you wish.”
  1640. >After pulling the A-frame to the craft you chain the gyro stabilizer and begin hoisting the component, after a few big pulls you lock the chain and call for Spanner to guide it in.
  1641. >”Alright, slowly now, lower her in,” Spanner orders as you slowly release it. “Little more, they hold it.”
  1642. >You watch him push and jiggle the stabilizer into place.
  1643. >”Let her go, she’s in.”
  1644. >You let the chain go limp while he tightens the bolts. Wiping the sweat from his brow he gives you a quick nod.
  1645. “Excellent, you need help with the wiring?”
  1646. >”Pass me up the prints, they look color coded,”
  1647. “They normally are on this model,” You reply, handing him up the blueprints. “Don’t forget to grab some lunch after,”
  1648. >”Will do,”
  1649.  
  1650. >”Anon, Pen and Trip is here,” Pulse calls across the workshop.
  1651. >You spin on your heel to find Pen with a Trip with a bandage wrapped around just above his brow.
  1652. “Nice to see you still standing Trips, surprised they let you out so soon after the amount of blood on the floor.”
  1653. >”No I ended up bandaging him myself at home,” Pen interrupts, “Damn doctors wouldn’t even see him once he dropped his disguise.”
  1654. “Surely you have a right to basic health care Trips.” You are a bit angered at the relevelation.
  1655. >”I do, they don't have the training to treat changelings,  apparently their insurance doesn’t cover untrained practises.”
  1656. “That’s a bullshit excuse if I heard one.”
  1657. >”I said that to them,” Pen says “If I was still a journalist for the paper, I’ll be writing a scorcher of a story right now.”
  1658. “You probably would,” You reply before returning your attention back to the Changeling, “So what happened?”
  1659. >”I got woken up by some movement in the workshop, I have no idea how they got in, but there were a least three of them.” Trips replies as he recalls the events from early this morning. “I found them hanging around the AG. They decided to bail once they found out that the back plating was loose and I was missing parts.”
  1660. “Did you manage to catch what they look like?”
  1661. >”One had a black G-suit for sure, the blighter was the one who gave me this, “ He points to his bandage, “Would have torched all of them if I was able to aim straight.”
  1662. >That explains the scorched marks over the walls and floor.
  1663. “I’m guess you gave them chase,”
  1664. >Trips nods, “Yeah, lost sight of them on mainstreet, before I bumped into Pen.”
  1665. >You take a few moments to mull over Trips acounter.
  1666. >Maybe it’s time to get some real security here.
  1667. >It’s clear now, that your company has now become a target.
  1668.  
  1669. >You’re not a monster, you didn’t bother sending Trips back to work, you gave him the day off.
  1670. >Being that he practically lives in the workshop he just pottered around occasionally talking to the other staff.
  1671. >You make a mental note, to ask him for more details about the ponies who attacked him.
  1672. You turn your attention to Sharp, with his horn glowing he’s still magically typing on your old laptop. “Hey Sharp, how's it going?”
  1673. >”Almost done, I’m just cleaning up the code and doing a quick debug. I would advise letting me improve the code at a later date as there's a few things I wish to try.”
  1674. “Good to know,”
  1675. >Without taking his eye off the screen he speaks up again, “We also need to talk about security here.”
  1676. “I’ve been thinking the same thing, an alarm and a close circuit camera system would be a start.”
  1677. >”Have you thought about contracting a security consultant company?” He continues to type, still not even glancing at you.
  1678. “Not sure really, they always seem to jack up the prices everytime they do an audit.”
  1679. >”Well our old base of operation never got broken into.”
  1680. “I didn’t say they did a bad job.” You shrug.
  1681. >”So what do you suggest then?”
  1682. “I wish you ponies hurry up and invent security drones,”
  1683. >”Well sorry there Anon, that the tech boom you singlehoof-handly caused doesn’t meet your expectations.”
  1684. “Hey, I never wanted to give the tech to you ponies, it was Celestia who gave it all to canterlot university to study.”
  1685. >”And it was a good study,” Sharp sighs as he finally looks away from the screen.
  1686. “I just don’t want to invest too much into this place, as we would eventually have to move.”
  1687. >”Or extend this place,” Sharp replies returning to his work.
  1688. “Yeah that too,”
  1689. “I think, I’ll just order a CCTV system and alarms,” You mention as you grab your tablet and browse a few products.
  1690. >”You think that’ll be enough?” Sharp asks.
  1691. “It’ll be more as a temporary solution for now,” You reply.
  1692. >After reading a few reviews and you order a few cameras, a DVR system and an alarm with sensors.  
  1693. >The screen confirms your order and will be delivered tomorrow.
  1694. >With that done, you call over Trips.
  1695. >”You want something?” The changeling asks.
  1696. “Yeah, I wanted to ask you more about the ponies who attacked you, plus are you alright still staying here?”
  1697. >”I can look after myself,” He shrugs his shoulders and wings, “With those ponies who broke in, I said what I already know.”
  1698. “Right, the one with a G-suit. Can you give me more detail?”
  1699. >”Not much, he was wearing a racing balaclava as well.”
  1700. >You needed a different approach.
  1701. >Thinking about it, Trips can change into anyone he sees.
  1702. Maybe he could change into that pony. “Is it possible for you to change into that pony?”
  1703. >”Uh, sure. I can try,”
  1704. >Trips body engulfs with green flame, revealing a pony in a black G-suit with his face covered by a balaclava.
  1705. >You use your tablet to snap a picture for future reference.
  1706. >Looking at the photo’s quality, you notice his eyes are still bug-like.
  1707. “I take it you didn’t see his eyes?”
  1708. >”No, hard to pick out the finer details, besides I mostly saw the back of him when I gave chase.”
  1709. “You look around the G-suit, nothing really makes it stand out.”
  1710. >”Can I drop the disguise now? It’s making my headache worse.”
  1711. >”Whoa, one second,” Pulse trots over and takes a look over the G-suit. “I know those suits, they’re Fairstorm issued. Their test pilots wear them.”
  1712. “How do you know that?”
  1713. >”The collar, the balaclava is attached to the back of it. They tried to get me to wear one, those things are as itchy as tartarus.” She replies, pointing at the base of Trips neck.
  1714. >”Okay, dropping the disguise now,” Trips says, as he is once again engulfed in green flame.
  1715. >He winces for a bit as he rubs his head.
  1716. >”Are you okay, bugbug?” Pulse looks at him concerned.
  1717. >”What have I told you about calling me that,” He snaps only to immediately soften his expression, “But I’m fine, head is still pounding though.”
  1718. “I hope it's nothing serious,”
  1719. >”I can still use my magic at least, even though it causes a massive headache. Other than that, I think I’m fine.”
  1720. “Alright, go and have a rest. If you remember anything else let me know.”
  1721. >The changeling nods and walks off back to the storeroom that he uses as a bedroom.
  1722.  
  1723. >”Alright, that’s the wiring done,” Spanner shouts across to you.
  1724. >”And the code is done too, it's on here ready to be transfered.” Sharp approaches you with his tablet.
  1725. “Alright good, lets give this thing a test run.”
  1726. >Sharp haphazardly climbs into the cockpit and starts to download the code from his tablet to the computer. “Alright, everything is looking good at my end. The computer is reading the output from the gyro, it just needs to be calibrated. I need somepony to take my seat and do it, I need to monitor it from outside the cockpit.”
  1727. “Alright,.” You look around at your staff.
  1728.  
  1729. “In fact, since you are already in there, pass me the tablet and I’ll monitor the data.” You walk up to the AG and hold up a hand.
  1730. >”Alright, it's been a while since I’ve controlled one of these things.”
  1731. “You’ll be fine, don’t scuff the floor with the wings.” You order as you grab the tablet from Sharp.
  1732. >”Wait are you telling me shields are disabled?” He looks at you with worry.
  1733. “No, I’m messing. Still, be careful.” You reply taking a few steps back as Sharp fires up the AG. “Alright Spanner, release the supports.” You point at the supports holding up the AG, “Also Pulse, I like you to watch. I’ll be using these commands on your training.”
  1734. >Pulse nods.
  1735. >Spanner nods and pulls back the supports letting the AG hover.
  1736. >”Everything is reading fine?” Sharp asks from the cockpit.
  1737. “Looking good so far, reading flat one eighty so far. Try rolling left.”
  1738. >Sharp tilts the craft left slowly.
  1739. “Looking smooth,” You glance at the numbers on Sharp's tablet. “Roll right.”
  1740. >”Rolling right.”
  1741. >The AG tilts right.
  1742. “Off by a few degrees it seems.” You touch the screen to log the output. Normally an error this small is due to a loose bolt that holds the gyro framing.  “Try it again.”
  1743. >Sharp centres the AG and rolls slowly right again.
  1744. “Reading the same,”
  1745. >”Alright, put the supports back, I’m setting her down.”
  1746. >On cue Spanner replaces the supports.
  1747. “Spanner, check the bolting on the gyro, a few degree error is normally caused by a loose bolt causing the gyro frame to be off kilter.”
  1748. >He glances at Trips, probably half expecting a comment before nodding at you.
  1749. >Using a ladder, he climbs the side and uses his spanner to tighten a few bolts. “Tight as they would go Anon,”
  1750. “Good, remove the supports.”
  1751. >Moving the ladder out of the way he pulls back the supports once the AG starts hovering again.
  1752. “Roll Right.”
  1753. >Once again the AG rolls right.
  1754. >The reading on the screen shows no issues.
  1755. “Looking good. Now pitch forward.”
  1756. >The nose of the craft lowers.
  1757. “Brilliant,” The numbers are still looking fine. “Now back.”
  1758. >The nose begins to raise.
  1759. “And that's fine too, Yaw left.”
  1760. >The AG swivels to the left.
  1761. ”And...Yaw right,”
  1762. >Finally it swivels to the right.
  1763. “That’s all, Put the supports back and let her down.”
  1764. >Once Spanner returns the supports, Sharp gently lowers the AG and switches it off.
  1765. >”How's it looking.”
  1766. “Not bad at all, other than the loose bolt, it looks fine.”
  1767. >Sharp magically takes the tablet from you and goes over the numbers.
  1768. “There’s a few sensors taking a little long to read the position, other than that yeah. Not bad for just over half a day's work.”
  1769. >”So I can fly this thing now?” Pulse gives a big grin.
  1770. “Not yet, not until I go over the basics with you.”
  1771. >”But I already know how to pilot one.”
  1772.  
  1773. “No, we are going over the basics. Back alley drag racing isn’t legit Pulse, racing along a track with others is a whole nother level of danger.”
  1774. >”But I did race against others.”
  1775. “No...ugh,” You run your hand over your face, “Alright, answer me this Pulse, you’re racing along a track at two fifty miles per hour. Another AG spins out in front, there’s no room to swerve. You have a second to react, what would you do? ”
  1776. >”Slam on the brakes.”
  1777. “At two fifty? Just dropping down to two hundred is around minus two G’s Pulse if you're planning to stop in one second.”
  1778. >Pulse looks down, “When what do you expect me to do?”
  1779. “You trade shields, and hold on tight. One more, at the start of the race what do you never do at the green light.”
  1780. >Some guilt shows on your pilot's face “Go full throttle.”
  1781. You laugh, “Something tells me you know that from past experience.”
  1782. >She nods, “Passed out on my first drag race,”
  1783. >You ruffle her mane.
  1784. “Every rookie makes that mistake. But please know you're dealing with extreme G forces when racing, far more when you were able to fly-” You internally cringe on what you just said, “Shit, Pulse I’m sorry…”
  1785. >She turns her head and looks at her back where her wings once were before facing back to you, “It’s fine Anon, but I do understand, I ain’t no Rainbow Dash when it comes to speed and G forces.”
  1786. “She’s a freak of nature.”
  1787. >That brings a small smile to Pulses face. “She is, well used to be, like to see her do a Sonic Rainboom at her age.” She takes a deep breath and slowly exhales, “I should say sorry too Anon, I’m a little excited getting to fly in the AG, it’s like a second chance for me. On top of that, I’m being trained by you. The father of AG racing.”
  1788. “If you want it then all you have to do is listen to me, we go over the basics then I promise I’ll get you out on the track - Can you do that?”
  1789. >She nods, “I can.”
  1790. “Good, now go and see if anyone needs help. I still got some things to do.”
  1791. >”Alright,” Pulse gives a small smile and trots off.
  1792.  
  1793. >”She reminds you of Cold, doesn't she?” Sharp asks while poking away at his tablet.
  1794. “Too much Sharp, way too much.” You slowly shake your head.
  1795. >”Ah Anon, are you busy?” Pen trots up to you, with her tablet hovering in her magic.
  1796. “Where have you been?”
  1797. >”Working outside, it’s a nice day out there.” She points to the door with a hoof. “Anyway, not sure if you’ve been checking the stocks but the leaked photos worked, they’re at 26.8 bits per share. Not a bad increase for a day don’t you think?”
  1798. “Not bad at all. At this rate we can rapidly expand and get a second AG going.”
  1799. >Her smile drops as she looks at Trips, who was rolling a screwdriver on the floor with a hoof. “Do you think he’s alright?”
  1800. “Not sure, yesterday he was giving Spanner grief most of the day. But today he’s completely different.”
  1801. >”I did have a pleasant conversation with him earlier, but he’s worried about something Anon, he doesn’t look the type for idle chit chat and he’s probably doing it to keep his mind occupied.”
  1802. “He’ll probably bounce back tomorrow,”
  1803. >”Not only him, we’re all worried. This Fairstorm company isn’t going to let up.”
  1804. “That's a point, did you find anything about them?”
  1805. >”It isn’t a public company, that's for sure. But I did manage to find they are based in Las Pegasus.”
  1806. “Well I guess we visit and tell them to knock it off.”
  1807. >Pen rolls her eyes, “I’ve done some more digging, there is a conspiracy online that they caused the fire at the Wonderbolts research lab the other day.”
  1808. ”I read about that. But read somewhere else that they were also having a meeting with the kirin commune, I just presumed a kirin lost its temper and burned it all down.”
  1809. >”I think most ponies thought that too,” Pen replies.
  1810. ”So why are they attacking other AG companies?”
  1811. >Sharp lowers his tablet to cut in, “Research data, plus probably to destroy the domestic market.”
  1812. “Why destroy it?”
  1813. >”They invest in military AG applications, hence they had me research it. Destroying any competition means they corner the market completely.”
  1814. “And the Princess is allowing this to go on? Surely she must know, there’s a rogue company developing military tech.”
  1815. >”Actually, I’ve been following my stuff that had trackers on them. Two of my items ended up in Canterlot Castle before being deactivated and one to Las pegasus. Watch,” he hovers his tablet in front of you.
  1816. >It shows a map of Equestria with three blips, the blips slowly make their way to Las Pegasus until two rapidly take a sharp turn to Canterlot.
  1817. “When did this happen?”
  1818. >”Last night, trying to make sense of it most of today, it seems that they’ve been forcibly retracted.”
  1819. >”The news said this morning that a train to Las Pegasus was stopped by the Royal guard last night. The Princess never made an announcement nor the guard.”
  1820. “Well hopefully with them involved things might quieten down.”
  1821. >”Still no excuse not to increase our security,” Sharp says peering around the tablet.
  1822. “The camera’s on order so is the alarm system. They’ll be here tomorrow.”
  1823. >”That’s good.”
  1824. You glance at the AG, “Still why would they want to steal my AG?”
  1825. >Pen tilts her head, “Tell me Anon, how much would a collector pay for Colds rebuilt AG?”
  1826. “Not sure, a lot I guess.”
  1827. >”Precisely, this company seems to be all for profit, so I wouldn’t put it past them to sell it to the highest bidder on the black market.”
  1828. “True,” You pick up your tablet and look at the time, “Looks like the days over, time to lock up I think.”
  1829. >You gather your things and wait for everyone to leave.
  1830. >”See you Anon,
  1831. >”See you tomorrow,”
  1832. >”Bye.”
  1833. You spot Trips returning to his ‘room’ “Hey Trips, are you sure you’ll be okay?”
  1834. >”I’ll be fine, I’m taking an early night.” He replies before shutting the door behind him.
  1835. >”Are you sure he’ll be alright?” Pulse asks standing beside you.
  1836. “I think so, I don’t think they’ll come back tonight.” You close the door and lock it, “Come on lets get home,”
  1837. >The evening ended up very quiet, you and Pulse, mostly ended up quietly playing on your tablets.
  1838. >She asked a few questions about AG racing while on her tablet. You presumed she was researching. You couldn’t help smile at her eagerness to get into the cockpit.
  1839. >Your alarm clock startles you awake.
  1840. >Placing a hand on your tablet, you drag it off your side table and turn it on.
  1841. >With a tap you open the news app and read the headlines.
  1842.  
  1843. >>Unitec on tour. Tech show, or scouting competition?
  1844. >>Everfreek leaks, net breaks. Is this moment we are waiting for?
  1845. >>Leaks or hoax? Everfreek images scrutinised by AG experts.
  1846. >>Is Everfreek falling behind? AG companies move ahead.
  1847. >>Everfreek still being quiet on the AG front.
  1848. >>Equestrian Anti Grav Championship committee reformed confirmed.
  1849. >> Richcorp buys rights to Dodge Prospects patents and branding.
  1850. >>Lunar22, a new company to rival Harmony.
  1851. >>Petition to ban AG racing, damages our environment protesters say.
  1852.  
  1853. >It seems the ‘leaks’ are working. The press is still talking about your company.
  1854. >It wouldn’t be long to do a full press release.
  1855. >You roll out of bed, and get ready for today.
  1856. >Your old friend Starlight would be here soon.
  1857. >Heading down stairs you start the routine of waking up Pulse and making coffee and breakfast.
  1858. >Just before heading out you spot a letter on the floor addressed to Pulse.
  1859. “I think this for you.” You hand her the letter.
  1860. >Opening it a small card drops out.
  1861. >”It’s my license!” She jumps on the spot in excitement.
  1862. >You couldn’t help but chuck at her display, “Alright, let's get going. Hopefully we will have time today to get you in the AG.”
  1863.  
  1864. >Making your way to your workshop you spot a massive hover truck with a trailer outside with the Unitech logo vinyls and colours displayed along its side.
  1865. >You couldn’t help whistle at the size of the thing.
  1866. >Walking into the workshop, you see a familiar pink, purple mane unicorn.
  1867. >”Anon!, it’s been way too long.” Starlight greets you with a smile before immediately dropping it, “Why havent been responding to the majority of my emails?”
  1868. “Been busy.” Your reply, it was the half truth.
  1869. >Her smile returns, “Sure,”
  1870. “I’m guessing that’s your truck outside?”
  1871. >She nods, “Sure is, decided to bring our old AG with us today.”
  1872. “What for?”
  1873. >”Using the Appleloosa track, we got a pilot to train. So we’re going to be here for a while.”
  1874. “Its being restored, by Dodge Prospects,”
  1875. >”It is, Rich Corp owns them and the track now, so if you were planning to use it, then you’re going to talk with them.”
  1876. “Great, more meetings,”
  1877. >Starlight laughs, “Still haven't changed have you.”
  1878. “Not really.”
  1879. >She falls silent for a moment with a solemn expression, “Your old friends still miss you Anon, even Twilights still talks about you sometimes.”
  1880. “Like I said, been busy.”
  1881. >She looks at Colds old AG, “I can see that, I know he was your best friend, but we could have helped you through those times.”
  1882. “Maybe, at the time, I ended up driving those who care away,” You glance at Sharp who was tapping away at his tablet.
  1883. >”But are you alright now?”
  1884. “Doing alright, having ups and downs at the moment,” You shrug.
  1885. >She gives a small smile, “I’ll take your word for it.” She starts to walk towards the workshop door, “Anyway, I need to get this thing to the track and start training, you want to come?”
  1886. >You muse over her offer.
  1887.  
  1888. “Sure I’ll come, got room for one more in there?”
  1889. >”It’ll be a squeeze,” Starlight replies, as she nods to the driver of the truck.
  1890. “Alright, Pulse?” You call out for your pilot.
  1891. >”Anon?” Pulse looks up from her tablet from the workbench.
  1892. “Come with us, we got some competition to scout out.”
  1893. >”You mean we’re going with Starlight?”
  1894. “We are, get your stuff and hop in the truck.”
  1895. >While Pulse packs away her things, you turn to the other staff.
  1896. “We will be gone for a few hours, Sharp your in charge, I want the AG checked over and prepared for use.”
  1897. >”As you say boss,” Sharp replies.
  1898.  
  1899. >Grabbing the handle you pull yourself into the truck cabin.
  1900. >Starlight is right, it’s a tight squeeze.
  1901. >Positioning yourself in the seat made of ponies you got somewhat comfortable.
  1902. >”Everypony in?” The driver speaks up before starting the engine.
  1903. “Think so,” You pause as you look at everyone, “Where’s your pilot?”
  1904. >”He’s at the track, said the truck was too stuffy and flew there a few miles back.”
  1905. “Ah right, were all set then.”
  1906. >The truck pulls away with the trailer in tow.
  1907. >It took a while to get to the track as Appleloosian streets didn’t have trucks in mind when it was a frontier town.
  1908. >After a half an hour of beeping and the driver yelling out the window for ponies to move, we got there.
  1909. >The driver didn’t take long to hop out of the truck and start unloading the AG in the back.
  1910. You smile, as a familiar AG slides out the back of the trailer. “I remember that one, I saw it always in the pits of every race.”
  1911. >”Ha, ha. Very funny Anon” Starlight mocks her laughter,“Once, we were called to the pits once due to a mana leak.”
  1912. “I hope that got eventually fixed.”
  1913. >”Yeah, we did it last night.” She replies dripping with sarcasm. “If you excuse me for a few moments, I need to brief my pilot.”
  1914. “See you a bit then,” You wave her off.
  1915. >”Are you two always like that?” Pulse asks.
  1916. “Yeah, she’s my old best rival.” You reply before pointing to the commentary room and audience stands. “Come on, let's find a good seat.”
  1917.  
  1918. >You and Pulse climb the new stairs and open the door to the commentary room. New wiring now dangle from the ceiling as a few other ponies tap away one of their tablets and terminals.
  1919. >”Hey you two you shouldn’t…” A stallion wearing a Unitech uniform pauses as he looks you over. “Well shoot, isn’t it the legend himself…”  He says with a grin. “Hey guys look who it is.”
  1920. >You are swarmed with technicians all bombarding you with questions about your company.
  1921. “Woah guys, I’m just here to find a good seat, I didn't think anypony would be in this room.”
  1922. >The first stallion speaks up, “You can hang here if you wish, we’re just finishing setting up our equipment.”
  1923. >To glance at the new monitors with preset lap times on them.
  1924. >The door swings open, catching your attention. “What did I tell you all about letting non-staff in here?” Starlight scorns the staff half jokingly as she steps in.”
  1925. >”Sorry Starlight, but look who it is!” The stallion points his hoof at you.
  1926. >”I know, I brought him here,” She replies, turning to you, “I guessed that’ll be up here.”
  1927. “It’s the best seat,”
  1928. >She puts on a headset and adjusts it. “Let’s get started.” She presses the side of her headset. “Starlight to Smooth, Starlight to Smooth, Com check.”
  1929. >You hear a static voice from her headset but you couldn’t hear what was said.
  1930. >Looking out the window you watch the AG hover onto the Track.
  1931. >”Alright Smooth Glide, three laps. Go on the green light.” She continues speaking into her head set.
  1932. >Pulse watches eagerly out the window almost pushing her muzzle against the glass.
  1933. >The track starts light flicks from red to amber then to green.
  1934. >The AG rockets from the start line and takes the first corner, you couldn’t help but wince, that was too fast.
  1935. >Your suspicion was correct. The AG crawls to a stop and glides haphazardly sideways.
  1936. >”Oh for Celestia sake!” Starlight curses before speaking back into her mic “Smooth? This is Starlight…”
  1937. >You couldn’t help but grin at her.
  1938. >”Smooth Glide are you with us?” She waits a beat until sighing, “He’s blacked out.” She confirms before sliding off her headset.
  1939. >Glancing out the window you see ponies run and fly to the AG.
  1940. “I’m glad you already learnt that lesson Pulse.” You lean over to her.
  1941. >”He must be a rookie too.” Pulse replies, not taking her eyes off the AG.
  1942. “I think all the pilots would be, all the original ones are now retired.”
  1943. >”I want to race him.” Pulse says looking at you with determination.
  1944. “No Pulse,”
  1945. >”We’re both rookies and it’ll be good for training.”
  1946. “No you haven't done the basics!”
  1947. >”That sounds like a lovely idea,” Starlight cuts in, “Plus it’ll allow you to use the track…”
  1948. >You grumble as you forgot how manipulative Starlight can be sometimes.
  1949. >With a sigh you look back out the window, Starlights Pilot seems to be conscious again as the AG returns to the startline.
  1950. “Fine, we’ll race.”
  1951. >Pulse  leaps and almost hits the ceiling in excitement.
  1952. “But first we need to head back and go over the basics. Not letting you race until we do.” You point down at Pulse, “And you…” You turn still pointing, but directed at Starlight. “What have I told you about manipulating people,” You prod her in the nose.
  1953. >Starlight snorts and rubs her muzzle, “Really Anon? I thought you grew out of that!”
  1954. You grin, “I thought you grew out of being a bad pony.”
  1955. >”Ouch, well at least I can gloat tomorrow,” She grins before slipping back on her headset and gives a few orders.
  1956. >You decide it was best to leave her be and return to the workshop. As you step out the door, you wonder if Starlight knows about Fairstorm.
  1957. “Starlight? Have you heard of a company called Fairstorm?”
  1958. >Her eyes widen, pressing the button on her headset she tells her team to standby. “Anon, keep away from them, that is all I’m going to say.”
  1959.  
  1960. ”Keep away from them? It's more that we need to find a way to keep them away from us.” You reply.
  1961. >”So you too?”
  1962. You nod, “Been stalking Pulse here and roughed up one of my engineers.”
  1963. >”One of your staff mentioned this morning that you had a break in yesterday, I didn’t put two and two together.”
  1964. “So any information would help Starlight.”
  1965.  
  1966.  
  1967. >Starlight sighs, “Just don’t do anything stupid Anon, All that I can say Twilight is dealing with them. I cannot say much more.”
  1968. “Starlight, one of my engineers has been attacked.”
  1969. >”You said, just keep away from them, hopefully Twilight will keep them off our backs.”
  1970. “Can you at least tell me if you know why Sharps stuff ended up in Canterlot?”
  1971. >”How did you? Ugh, I spoke with him earlier. That was the other reason I called by.”
  1972. “But you still didn’t tell me why?”
  1973. >”Anon, please. As a friend, drop it.”
  1974. You huff and shake your head. “I’ll see you tomorrow Starlight.”
  1975. >”See you then.” You turn to the pilot, “Come on Pulse, we got a race to win.”
  1976.  
  1977. >A little while later you return to the workshop, Trips and Spanner are doing the checks on the AG.
  1978. >”Trips, did you order those rubber seals?” Spanner asks the still bandaged changeling.
  1979. >”I thought you ordered them?” Trips replies rubbing his head.
  1980. >”Your kidding right? Anon asked you to order them!” Spanner snaps back.
  1981. >”Well sorry, I presumed you’d do it, I don’t have a tablet!” Trips starts to snarl back at him.
  1982. >”You bucking idiot! If we don’t replace them then we’ll be clearing out the dust for hours!” Spanner bellows back.
  1983. “Woah, okay you two, chill out.” You step between the arguing pair. “What's happened.”
  1984. >”Bug brain here forgot to order the rubber seals.” Spanner replies.
  1985. >”I told you I can’t without a tablet. I thought you'd use that meat head of yours and order them yourself.” The changeling retorts.
  1986. “Enough!” You nearly break to a yell.
  1987.  
  1988. Scorn them both, maybe Trips can make some for at least temporary use.
  1989. Use the old ones, those two will be cleaning the dust out after.
  1990. Send them both to Starlight to see if she got some spare, her AG is a similar chassis model to yours.
  1991.  
  1992. “Starlight isn’t going to let me live this down, but you two go to the old track. Find Starlight and ask nicely for some spare rubber seals.”
  1993. >Spanner grumbles under his breath and heads out of the workshop followed by Trips.
  1994. >Spotting Pen, you order her to go with them, being a mare around they might not tear each other apart.
  1995. “Right, they shouldn’t take too long,” You mostly say to yourself, Walking over to Pulse you ask her about her G-suit.
  1996. >”It’s old, I found it while raiding old AG factories.” She replies.
  1997. “Well I probably feel more comfortable with you wearing a new one. I don’t want you passing out on me.”
  1998. >”Can I keep my old one?”
  1999. “I guess, but wear the one I’ll be giving you - company policy.”
  2000. >You head to the store and rummage through old stock of yours. You remembered you had ordered new G-suits a week before Colds crash.
  2001. “Hah there they are,” You pull out a few plastic wrapped G-suits and place them on Pulses back.
  2002. >”Why are you giving me a few?”
  2003. “I don’t fancy asking a mare her size, try them on and use the one thats tightest fitting, but comfortable.”
  2004. >”Will do,” She trots off to find a secluded place to get changed.
  2005. >You’ll never understand about ponies wanting privacy when getting dressed, as they are naked all the time.
  2006. >Something that still baffles you to this day.
  2007.  
  2008. >While you have a moment you decide to talk to Sharp, you haven't really seen him since you came back.
  2009. “Sharp!?” You call out.
  2010. >Up here!
  2011. >You look up to Sharp standing on a ladder adjusting a mounted camera.
  2012. >”Been up here most of the morning, as you can guess they arrived when you were out so I took the initiative.”
  2013. “Always can count on you bud,” You say with a smile.
  2014. >”Well with what has been going on, I want a piece of mind.” He replies as he continues tinkering with the camera. “Can you see the monitor, I’ve fitted the DVR to it, there should be a signal.”
  2015. >Glancing around the ladder you see the monitor displaying several images, with one of a close up of Sharps face.
  2016. “I think one's broken,”
  2017. >”Which one?” He sighs.
  2018. “The one your working on all I can see is an ugly mug,”
  2019. >”Not much of a looker yourself Anon.”
  2020. >You didn’t reply as you remembered about his stuff.
  2021. “Did you have insurance on your house?”
  2022. >”I did, the insurance company was actually pretty helpful for once, and should receive my check in a few weeks once they check the overall damage.”
  2023. “I hope you're planning to buy a new house around here?”
  2024. >”Probably, might build an underground bunker and become a mad scientist with it.”
  2025. >You smirk at his reply.
  2026.  
  2027. >”So what do you think?” Pulse steps up from behind.
  2028. >Turning around you see Pulse wearing a green and white G-suit with the Everfreek logo on her thigh.
  2029. “Looks good on you, what do you think of Sharp?” You look back up at him.
  2030. >His mouth hangs open a little too long before replying, “It looks good, though we should cover up those wing holes.”
  2031. >Turn your head back towards Pulse and spot two slits down her back.
  2032. You fold your arms. “Well shit I forgot about those.”
  2033. >Sharp steps down the ladder and tugs on the G-suit with his magic.
  2034. >”There’s a little overlap so it can be sewn shut. The suits mostly stop the blood rushing to your limbs, give me a second while I check the enchantment.” His horn glows and he casts a spell over the suit. “Still some magic left, but Anon, I would advise getting new ones ordered. This one would be fine for now, I’d give it a few weeks of heavy use left.”
  2035. “But the suit is practically brand new!”
  2036. >”Magical entropy Anon, like batteries, they lose their charge over time, even without use.”
  2037. “Alright I’ll get them ordered along with new rubber seals.”
  2038. >”I thought you were a tech purist Anon?” Pulse asks with a bemused smile.
  2039. “You ponies didn’t have the Tech to replicate my G-suit back then. Plus not much of it remained when I came here. So I had to let enchanted suits slide.”
  2040. >”What were they like back on Earth?”
  2041. “They were pressurised using the on board computer. They fill with air restricting the blood flow to our limbs. They’re far more efficient then your ones.”
  2042. >”Then why don’t we use them? Surely we got the techno know how now.” Pulse pause at her own unintentional tongue twister.
  2043. You laugh at her expression, “We had plans before AG ended, but we canceled after the prototype.”
  2044. >”It was the weight, the extra wires and a bigger onboard computer and the weight of the suit itself made the craft heavier. Having it so you can tolerate higher G’s became irrelevant when the AG itself had a slower top speed.”
  2045. >As Pulse and Sharp continued to talk about Gsuits you grab your tablet and order some more G-suits and rubber seals.
  2046. “Pulse, what size was that suit?” You ask.
  2047. >”Small,”
  2048. “Thanks,” You continue ordering the items, luckily the company that makes them is still in business. Which isn’t a surprise as they also supply suits for the Pegusi Championships.
  2049. >Releasing you had to send them the designs, you headed towards your old laptop and searched through it.
  2050. >Today, not clearing out the clutter on your harddrive has paid off. The graphics are still there, probably in an outdated format by now, but you give them a try anyway.
  2051. >Clicking order, you're greeted with a “Order Being Reviewed” screen.
  2052. >Going back on your tablet you finish the order of rubber seals, thanks to the age of the AG, they have to be custom made and all the old new stock you can find has been sold out. You wish you had a 3d printer.  
  2053. >Come to think of it, you need to ask Sharp if he started his research on black resin.
  2054. “Hey Sharp, have you looked into the black resin yet?”
  2055. >”Done a few preliminary tests last night.”
  2056. “Found anything?”
  2057. >”It’s black and stretchy.”
  2058. “So nothing then.”
  2059. >”Actually, it has a high fire and heat resistance compared to rubber. Other than that, that’s all I got.” He shrugs.
  2060. >That seems promising.
  2061.  
  2062. >”Anon were back, we got the seals you needed,” Pen calls out to you.
  2063. >You spot Spanner and Trips already heading to the AG to replace the seals.
  2064. >”Starlight says, you owe her.” Pen continues as she trots up to you.
  2065. “Thanks for that Pen, I hope those two weren’t too much of a hassle.”
  2066. >She shakes her head, “No they were fine. Had them talk about they’re favourite AG chassis. Surprisingly they found some common ground.”
  2067. “That’s good to know,”
  2068. >”Oh Pulse!, you look stunning in that suit!” Pen exclaims.
  2069. >You chuckle as you notice Trips peer over the AG to sneak a quick look.
  2070. >”Thanks Pen, it’s a little stiff.”
  2071. “It’ll become more flexible as you wear it in.”
  2072.  
  2073. >After a short while the seals were replaced and the AG was ready.
  2074. “Alright Pulse hope in,” You order, before grabbing the eager pilot by the shoulder, “and wait until I tell you to turn it on.”
  2075. >Pulse nods and climbs into the cockpit.
  2076. “All checks completed?” You ask Spanner and Trips.
  2077. >”Yes boss,” Spanner replies with Trips simply nodding.
  2078. “Lit her up Pulse,”
  2079. >The engine rumbles as the craft starts to hover. It bobs for a bit as it comes away from its supports.
  2080. “Don’t touch the steering Pulse!” You shout up to her.
  2081.  >She replies by lifting up her forelegs so you can see them.
  2082. >Ordering your engineers to move the supports out the way you start on the basics.
  2083. >Slipping on your head set, you wave to Pulse to put on hers.
  2084. “First things first com check.”
  2085. >”Hear you loud and clear Anon.” Pulse replies through your headset.
  2086. “Right, we're going to start off with maneuvers like what me and Sharp did yesterday.”
  2087. >”Okay,”
  2088. “Roll left,”
  2089. >Pulse tilts the craft left.
  2090. “Roll right”
  2091. >She tilts it right.
  2092. “Yaw left”
  2093. >She turns it left
  2094. “Yaw right”
  2095. >The AG turns right.
  2096. “Pitch up,”
  2097. >The crafts nose tilts up.
  2098. “Finally pitch down,”
  2099. >Lastly the nose pitches down.
  2100. “Pulse, I want you to slowly throttle forward and take the craft outside of the workshop doors.
  2101. >You watch as the AG makes its way outside and stop.
  2102. “Next I want you to slowly move forward and use your airbrake to strafe left.”
  2103. >”Alright, I’ll try,”
  2104. >The craft accelerates slowly forward, you watch as the airbrake flaps open and the crafts hull tilts and strafes right.
  2105. “I said left Pulse,”
  2106. >”Sorry nervous...”
  2107. “It’s okay, try again.”
  2108. >She tries again and strafes left this time.
  2109. “Now right this time.”
  2110. >She strafes right.
  2111. “Now I want you to practice the maneuvers and practice turns slowly. I want you to get used to the craft handling.”
  2112. >”Alright Anon.”
  2113. >While she practises you sit down outside so you could keep an eye on her, as you eat some lunch.
  2114. >Turning on your tablet screen you decide what to do.
  2115.  
  2116. >Your finger hovers over the Email app on your tablet.
  2117. >Thinking about it, it’s best if someone else helps to keep an eye on Pulse, while you have your lunch.
  2118. >You notice Pulse getting a little cocky with her turns.
  2119. Picking up your headset you speak into the microphone“Keep the speed low Pulse, I’ll let you loose after my lunch” You get up and peer into the workshop, “Sharp, can you keep an eye on Pulse?” You ask your researcher.
  2120. >”Sure,” Sharp trots over and takes your headset.
  2121. “Thanks,”
  2122. >You return to your lunch while on the tablet.
  2123.  >Opening the email app your scroll through the usual spam.
  2124. >Not much really peaks your interest.
  2125. >Thinking what Starlight said about your old friend. You wander if you still have their contacts.
  2126. >Not much luck, you must have lost them as you went from new tablet to new tablet.
  2127. >Still you pop an email to Starlight asking if she has them, it's about time to ask how they are.
  2128. >Just before you close the app, you spot an email from the G-suit company, they’ve accepted the order.
  2129. “Hey Sharp,” You get the attention of the unicorn.
  2130. >”Anon,”
  2131. “Whatever happened to the research for pressurized G-suits?”
  2132. >He scrunches his muzzle as he thinks, “I think they’re still backed up online,”
  2133. “There servers still active?”
  2134. >”Well yeah, I’ve been running the AG fan site off it.” He pauses, “On a seperate partition of course.”
  2135. “Damn Sharp, talk about causing a massive IP breach.”
  2136. >”Don’t ever doubt me when it comes to securing intellectual property Anon.” He turns back to watch Pulse practice in the AG, “Plus, when I started the AG fan forum, AG was practically dead apart from a few diehard fans. Didn’t think you would need that data again.”
  2137. “Can you at least move it to a different server?”
  2138. >”Sure, I’ll do it after lunch.” He magically summons his tablet and makes a note.
  2139. > “So why are you asking anyway?”
  2140. “Well the tech has improved, greatly over the years, we might be able to make a more lightweight version.”
  2141. >”That’ll be a big project Anon, I would need a proper lab and a full team.”
  2142. “I know, just a thought.”
  2143. >Sharp muses in silence for a bit, “I think it’ll be possible,  I’ll dig up the old research files after work.”
  2144. >Finishing your lunch, you ask Sharp to tell Pulse to pull back in.
  2145. >A few seconds later the AG slows to a halt and the cockpit windows lift to reveal a grinning Pulse.
  2146. >”How did I do Anon?”
  2147. “Pretty good, try not to lock the air brakes, keep them in control”
  2148. >Pulse nods.
  2149. “Next, see that tree way out in the distance?” You point into the Applosian desert.
  2150. >”Yeah,”
  2151. “I want you to loop around and come back, pay attention to the G-forces. Try and work out your limit, and for heaven sake don’t black out!”
  2152. >”Will do,” She closes the cockpit and accelerates towards the tree.
  2153. >You could barely make it out, but the AG turns around the tree only to drift off course and spin to a halt.
  2154. >”What did Anon just say Pulse!?” Sharps scorns into the headset.
  2155. “Is she ok?”
  2156. >He listens into the headset, “She's fine, saying  her hoofs slipped off the controls.”
  2157. >You knew that’s a lie, it obviously blacked out for a second.
  2158. “Okay, just tell her to take it easy on the turns.”
  2159. >Sharp nods and relays the message to Pulse.
  2160.  
  2161. >”Hey Anon?” You hear Pen trot out of the workshop.
  2162. “Yes Pen?” You reply not taking your eyes off of the returning AG
  2163. >“Have you thought about when we announce the Relaunch of Everfreek?”
  2164. “Right,turning the workshop into a museum thing”
  2165.  
  2166. “We will announce tomorrow at the race,” You finally make a decision.
  2167. >”What?” Pen looks at you in surprise.
  2168. >Sharp even looks over his shoulder upon hearing you.
  2169. “Anon, it’ll take at least a week to organise something like this!” Pen continues, “What about security? What about the things we are going to have displayed? I urge you to reconsider…”
  2170. >”She has a point Anon.”
  2171. You hold up a hand to silence them both, “I said we’ll announce tomorrow,  and we’ll have an event on Tomorrow.”
  2172. >”Tomorrow? Anon, please. There isn’t enough time.” Pen is starting to look worried.
  2173. You kneel and place a hand on her head, “I hired you for PR? Correct?”
  2174. >Pen nods, “I believe so.”
  2175. “Then go and get some leaflets printed, and also prepare to post the advertisement online.”
  2176. >”I guess there’s still time for next day delivery.” She taps her chin with her hoof, “Bit still this it cutting it fine for a spur of the moment decision.”
  2177. “For the museum I’ll look in the store, I still have some memorabilia, and generation one AG parts somewhere.”
  2178. >”I know you like rash decisions Anon, but I have a bad feeling about this,”Says Sharp as he glances back as Pulse completes another lap of the tree.
  2179. “Just trust me Sharp, we are falling behind other companies, we need to officially relaunch.”
  2180. >”Well you pulled crazier stunts before,” Sharp shrugs. “But Anon what will you do if hundreds of ponies turn up? This place won't hold that many.”
  2181. >”What do you want it to say on the leaflets Anon?” Pen says, while taking notes on her notepad.
  2182.  
  2183. You hesitate as Sharp glares at you, it’s  the classic ‘Stop and think you idiot’ look you haven’t seen for a long time. “Getting ahead of myself aren't I?”
  2184. >Sharp give a quick nod.
  2185. Sighing, you change your plans. “Well still announce tomorrow, Being that a certain word has already spread about the race, the press will be there.”
  2186. >”So do you still want me to get the leaflet printed?” Pen looks confused.
  2187. “Not yet, get them properly designed first. Have it one pony per ticket and set the event Saturday next week.”
  2188. >”Not this saturday, the one the week after?” Pen asks scribbling in her notepad.
  2189. “Yes, that saturday.”
  2190. >”Alright, I’ll get them done then.” She walks away looking a little relieved.
  2191. >”I’m surprised you listened.” Sharp mused lowing the headset from his ear.
  2192. “I do learn from past mistakes you know.”
  2193. >”I’m not sure, it’s like it was always you that starts the fire and Cold adds the fuel then everypony else has to fight the flames.”
  2194. “It seems you are trying to get something else there Sharp.” You fold your arms.
  2195. >”I just don’t want you to start acting without thinking again Anon, you drove everypony away last time.”
  2196. You feel your shoulders droop, “I - yeah. I’m still sorry about that.”
  2197. >”I forgive you, but I think a few others won't be as quick.” Sharp replies before he looks at the AG returning. “Shall we call her in?”
  2198. “Yeah,”
  2199. >Sharp holds the headset up to his ear and tells Pulse to bring the AG in.
  2200. >The AG slows to a reasonable speed and pulls to a stop.
  2201. >Pulse opens the Cockpit once again grinning, “Oh that was awesome!” She jumps down and splats on the dusty ground.
  2202. “Shit, Pulse. Are you alright?”
  2203. >”Ugh...forgot for a moment there I don’t have wings.” She rubs her head as you help her up. “So you think I’m ready?”
  2204. “To race? No. Not by a long shot. But ready for tomorrow. Starlights pilot is as green as you, so it'll be a fair race.”
  2205. >”Oh,” Pulse sinks a little bit on the spot.
  2206. “You’ll learn.” You bend a little bit to pat her on her withers, “So what did you think of the AG?”
  2207. >”Fast, faster than the old clunkers I’m used to.” Her smile returns, “Can’t wait until tomorrow.”
  2208.  
  2209. >The rest of the day went by pretty quick.
  2210. >Spanner and Trips, finished up cleaning and checking the AG for tomorrow
  2211. >After showing Trips the alarm system and how to disable it, if he needed to, you close up the workshop for the day.
  2212. >Opening the door to your house you make a beeline to the sofa and sprawled out on it.
  2213. >Pulse proceeds to the kitchen and makes you and herself a coffee.
  2214. >Bringing out the cups that's placed on a tray on her back she stops in front of you.
  2215. You grab a cup with a thankful smile, “Thanks Pulse.”
  2216. >”No problem Anon, looked like you needed one.”
  2217. “I do,” You take a sip of the hot coffee.
  2218. >”Anon?” Pulse asks climbing onto the sofa, “I was wondering, what was AG racing really like back on your planet?”
  2219.  
  2220. >Lying to her is something you didn’t want to do. But on the other hand you don’t like talking about AG racing back on Earth. Especially the shooting at each other bit.
  2221. >You didn’t want the ponies to see you as a barbarian from the stars back then, so you mostly kept it a secret.
  2222. You take another sip off your coffee before replying, “Bit like how it is here in Equestria, or how it was, that's probably a better way of explaining it.”
  2223. >”So a big deal on Earth as well?”
  2224. “Big deal? It’s been going for well over hundred and fifty years. It started well before I was born, so no putting years on to my age.” You wag a finger at Pulse.
  2225. >She giggles a bit, before the age of the sport sinks in, “Hundred and fifty… I suppose your AG was bleeding edge back then?”
  2226. “In the F9000 league... yeah, it was. AG’s on Earth should be a lot faster by now.”
  2227. >She fidgets excitedly on the sofa, “I would've loved to see you race in that.” She stops fidgeting as she sees your expression.
  2228. “You probably wouldn’t,” You reply.
  2229. >Her ears fall flat, accompanied with a sorrowed expression, “Sorry Anon. That was your last championship before coming here wasn’t it?”
  2230. You nod, “It was.”
  2231. >She cautiously asks what happened, trying to be as respectful as possible.
  2232. You get up and slide open and light a cigarette, not for the dramatics, you always needed one after remembering that day. “Temtesh Bay, last race of the semi finals, I got caught in the midpack with several other racers,” You take a quick drag of your smoke, “There’s a part on the circuit that goes down into the old mines, before I know it something roars past me and causes an explosion, next a white flash tearing through the other AG’s in front of me.”
  2233. >Pulse looks horrified ”What caused it?”
  2234. “To this day, I’m not sure, it was definitely an explosion of a missile some kind.”
  2235. >”What do you mean by a missile?”
  2236. >You curse internally, you only want to tell her what she asks, not put your own foot in it.
  2237. “A weapon, it's like a rocket.”
  2238. >You half expected, for Pulse to be in shock, but she sits and stares blankly into her coffee.
  2239. >”You said last Monday at the bar, Celestia never gave your AG back. Why?” She asks not bothering to look up from her cup.
  2240. “She thought, it was a weapon.”
  2241. >”But she kept it because she did find weapons on it.”
  2242. You’re taken back, you never thought to see Pulse of analytical. “Pulse, how did you manage to put two and two together like that?”
  2243. >”It was a conspiracy I stumbled across online years back, never really believed it back then. I always thought the protesters calling it a blood-sport were being hyperbolic.”
  2244. You finish your cigarette and flick it outside, “It’s true, we raced with weapons, they were mostly designed to knock out shielding or cause competitors minor damage to pull out the race,” You shrug, “Of course it got heated and there were casualties,”
  2245. >”Why didn’t you tell anypony?”
  2246.  
  2247. “I did, Celestia knew, and Luna. Celestia was disgusted at the thought of shooting at each other on the track, and well Luna… She thought it was wonderful, apparently it reminded her of ancient chariot racing. Even called me a gladiator instead of a pilot for a while.”
  2248. >To your relief, a small smile spreads on Pulses face, “I can’t really judge, Pegasi Racing came from chariot racing, a successor of a bloodsport like Equestrian Anti Grav Racing.”
  2249. “Yeah, I figured that you ponies detest violence in this age, so I kept weapons out of AG at the beginning,” You finish your sentence with a yawn.
  2250. >”I’m glad you did Anon, I couldn’t imaging hurting another pony because I want to win,”
  2251. “That why you’ll make a great pilot Pulse,” You ruffle her mane before standing up, you arch your back to give an audible pop, “I’m off to bed, we got a big day tomorrow,”
  2252. >”Night Anon,”
  2253. “Good night,”
  2254.  
  2255. >Your alarm clock buzzes once more,
  2256. >Thursday.
  2257. >Today is the day you get to gloat once more to Starlight.
  2258. >Rolling over you grab your tablet.
  2259. >Deciding to check what's been happening in the world of AG you open the news app.
  2260.  
  2261. >>UNITECH AND EVERFREEK OWNERS SEEN ON TRACK.
  2262. >>UNITECH STARTS TOUR IN APPLELOOSA.
  2263. >>STARLIGHTS SECRET PAST REVEALED - AGAIN.
  2264. >>PROTESTS OUTSIDE OF AG CHAMPIONSHIP COMMITTEE. PROTESTS CALL FOR BAN.
  2265. >>FIRST LEGIT RACE IN DECADES? PONIES FLOCK TO TRACK.
  2266. >>LUNAR22 PLANS TO BREAK LAND SPEED RECORD.
  2267. >>FLURRY HEART USES TAXPAYERS FUNDS TO START NEW COMPANY. ROYAL STRIFE CONTINUES.
  2268.  
  2269. >You wonder how many reporters are now lurking around Appleloosa, scrolling through the article about the ponies flocking to the track, you notice that it was posted at 6am.
  2270. >A shiver slithers down your spin, how many ponies will be there?
  2271. >We didn’t really set a time, some of those ponies will be waiting for hours.
  2272. >Flicking out of the article, glancing over the article about Starlights past makes you chuckle, you must have seen over a dozen of these over the years. It always seems like it’s breaking news to the press.
  2273.  
  2274. >You get up and get ready.
  2275. >Heading down stairs you notice an absent pony.
  2276. >Searching in all the rooms in a small panic, you spot a note on the kitchen table.
  2277. >>Anon, couldn’t wait. Already at the workshop - Pulse Sway.
  2278. >Why did she sign her full name, you have no idea.
  2279. >Shrugging you make a coffee and toast as you decide to snack on the way to the workshop.
  2280.  
  2281. >”Morning Anon,” Pen greets you at the door, “Ready for today?”
  2282. “As I can be, but shouldn’t you be asking Pulse?”
  2283. >”She’s uhh, got cold hooves.” She points back in the workshop.
  2284. “What do you mean?” You ask making your way into the workshop.
  2285. >You look around for the wingless pilot.
  2286. “Where is she?” Your heart pounds in your chest. She better not have skipped out on you.
  2287.  
  2288. >”Get out of there!” Trips bangs on his ‘bedroom’.
  2289. >”NO!” You here Pulse yell from behind the door.
  2290. >”It's your first race and you chickened out!?” Trips tries a different tactic to remove her from his room.
  2291. >”Go away!”
  2292. >”Why are you hiding, you were all excited yesterday!”
  2293. >”Too many ponies...there hundreds heading to the track! Haven't you seen them?”
  2294. >”They’re called fans Pulse! Get out here!”
  2295. >”I’m not coming out, I’m going to read these magazines instead.”
  2296. >”YOU DO NOT TOUCH THOSE!” Trips bangs on the store room door.
  2297. >”Sweet Celestia! It’s going in her butt!” You here Pulse exclaim either in shock or surprise.
  2298. >This even earns a snicker from Spanner.
  2299. >”You shut up!” Trips fires a hoof at his co engineer before returning to bang on the door.
  2300. >Magazines? They still sell them?
  2301. >”I think he just reads it for the articles, Miss Sway.” Spanner cracks a smile.
  2302. >”I told you to shut it!” Trips yells with his face full flush with green in embarrassment. “Open this door Pulse!”
  2303.  
  2304. >Walking up to the storeroom door, you tell Trips to return to work. You want the AG ready as soon as possible.
  2305. >He agrees, still green with embarrassment he starts quietly checking the hull of the AG for defects.
  2306. “Alright Pulse, what's wrong?”
  2307. >”Anon?” She replies through the door.
  2308. “It is, now what's wrong? It’s your first race today and you acting like a filly,”
  2309. >”I’m sorry, I saw the crowds and...and…” She trails off.
  2310. “What's got you all twisted about crowds? Surely you’re used to them,”
  2311. >”I used to be,” You could just about hear her reply through the door.
  2312. “Just open the door Pulse,”
  2313. >You hear something being moved behind the door before Pulse opens it with teary eyes.
  2314. >Pushing the door open, you step in and close the door.
  2315. >You sit on Trips goo bed, trying not to crush his lewd magazines.
  2316. >You make a mental note to tell Pulse to wash her hooves after.
  2317. “What's wrong?, you repeat the question.”
  2318. >”I told you, it's the crowds.”
  2319. “Bullshit.”
  2320. >”Anon! Please. It’s true.”
  2321. “Pulse.” You glare at her, to let her know she’s treading on thin ice.
  2322. >”Alright! I’m worried. I’m worried about Fairstorm being there.”
  2323. >You feel a little regret not hiring a security firm when Sharp mentioned it.
  2324. “If they are there, you’ll be in a AG hitting speeds faster than a Pegasus…”
  2325. >Pulse tries to retort but you beat her to the punch.
  2326. “She’s a freak of nature,” You continue, knowing what she would have said, “Besides, you’ll be protected by the best kinetic shielding available, designed to take hits from other racers at similar speeds. Honestly the AG will be the safest place to be.”
  2327. >”Thanks Anon,” Pulse replies looking much happier than before.
  2328. “No problem, let's get going we got a race to win.”
  2329. >Pulse nods and leaves the room.
  2330. >Taking the opportunity, you sneak a flick through of Trips magazines.
  2331. >Mare Monthly, looks a bit tame compared to what you have seen on the net.
  2332. >Beat the Heat, again tame…
  2333. >Gagged and Podded Magazine…
  2334. >You hit the jackpot...kind off..
  2335. >It’s just mares being gagged and rutted by changelings while in a pod.
  2336. >The hell?
  2337. >You never thought changelings would have got off on podding ponies.
  2338. >The more you thought about it the more it oddly made sense.
  2339. >Shaking your head you shove the magazines under the bed and leave, closing the door behind you.
  2340.  
  2341. “Right everyone,” You clap your hands to get your staff attention, “It’s go time, Trips, Spanner, have you finished checking over the AG?”
  2342. >”Checked three times boss.” Spanner replies. “Should be good to go.”
  2343. “Good, I want you two to be on guard, while the AG is stationary noone bar from Pulse or me go near it, understand?”
  2344. >Your engineers nod.
  2345. “Pen, Sharp. I want you two on the lookout. Any one seems dodgy, use your tablets to snap a picture of them and let the security on the track know.”
  2346. >Without question Pen and Sharp both agree.
  2347. “Alright Pulse, climb in the AG, take it slow as we got to walk. Just don’t go racing off.”
  2348. >”Okay Anon,” Pulse replies as she awkwardly climbs up the AG.
  2349. >You watch as her hoof slips only to be caught by Trips who pushes her in the cockpit by the rear.
  2350. >She leans over the side and whispers something in his ear slowly shaking her head, only for Trips to push her in then shutting the cockpit tight before storming off.
  2351. >”What do you think she said to him?” Sharp asks watching the changeling wait outside who’s frowning like no other.
  2352. You smirk, “Not sure, but I can guess.”
  2353.  
  2354. >Heading to the track didn’t take too long, though, eventually getting a truck and tow for the AG will be going on the shopping list.
  2355. >You grumble as you shuffle the rucksack on your back, the weight of your gear is starting to cause your back to sweat causing your t-shirt to cling to your skin.
  2356. >The sound of a huge crowd calls you away from your discomfort as you reach the track.
  2357. >You stand in awe at the crowd, every seat is taken.
  2358. >Even the sky darkened from the clouds used as spectator benches chaired by pegasi and other flying creatures.
  2359.  
  2360. >The crowd cheers and hollers as they spot your AG slip onto the track grounds.
  2361. Putting on your headset you talk into the microphone, “You okay Pulse?”
  2362. >”I’m fine...there’s so many!”
  2363. “More than I was expecting,” You nudge Sharp and point to the pits, “Alright Pulse, I want you to follow Sharp, Trips and Spanner to the pits.”
  2364. >”Roger that!”
  2365. >Sharp takes the lead and heads to the pits to get set up with Trips and Spanner.
  2366. “You can stick with me Pen,” You order as you pull a beacon from your rucksack. You head to the start line and jam the pole into the ground.
  2367. >”What's that for?” Pen asks while inspecting the device.
  2368. “It’s a beacon it tracks the lap times. Normally the track will have one already, but I think the one here no longer works and still needs replacing.” You reply looking at the old rusted beacon attached to the start-line.
  2369. >”Oh, some I’m safe to say that one's Starlights?” She points to a similar device.
  2370. “It is, come one lets meet up with the others.”
  2371. >”Whoa hold on there Anon,” A familiar voice calls out.
  2372. “Silver Star.” You smile at the sheriff.
  2373. >”Drop the smile Anon, do ya know ‘ow much hassle you’ve caused me?”
  2374. “I’m failing to see what I did wrong.”
  2375. >”There’s over a thousand ponies here Anon! That was a head count a few hours ago! Do you know the panic you’ve caused in the offices? We had to call in the royal guard for extra security let alone borrowing extra deputies from other towns!” The town sheriff barks his rant at you finishing with a hoof stomp on the dusty ground.
  2376. “I didn’t think it'd attract so many…”
  2377. >”Don’t give me that nonsense Anon. The mayor told me to place the security expenditures on your head for today.”
  2378. “Hey, Rich Corp owns this place, they could have closed this event down. Go and talk to Diamond Tiara, she's the director.”
  2379. >Silver Star raises his hat up with a hoof, “That maybe, but you still the cause Anon, authorities must be notified of events like this.”
  2380. “I didn't advertise this, I didn't know this was happening until yesterday.”
  2381. >”Yet the mayor demands somepony to hoof the bill,” Silver steps a little closer, raising his voice. His normal relaxed attitude has been blown to the wayside due to the stress. “Tell me Anon, the town is shelling out around thousan’s bits per hour for the security here. How do you expect the Mayor to pay for it?”
  2382. “If the Mayor actually pulls her head from her ass, maybe she'll realize this is the most tourists this place has seen in years, maybe she should think of a way to take advantage of the situation. Hell the town could maybe profit from it.” You snap back at Silver Star.
  2383. >”That’s something I cannot comment on. All I can say the Mayor has held you accountable.”
  2384. >Pen uses her magic to pull you back before you say something you regret, ”Actually, the law states that the property owner is responsible for public safety.”
  2385. >The sheriff thinks for a bit before breaking eye contact with you. “Fine... Ah talk to Miss Tiara. Just no more stunts like this Anon, the mayor is putting me through Tartarus for this.”
  2386. >Quickly tipping his cowboy hat he leaves for the hunt of Diamond Tiara.
  2387. You breathe out a sigh of relief. “Fucking hell, we dodged a bullet.”
  2388. >”Not really, Rich Corp aren't going to be happy hoofing the bill.”
  2389. You wave Pen to follow you to the pits, “Diamond will give me shit for it, but the fine wouldn’t dent her daily finances. Hell it’ll probably get her lawyers to find a loophole and not pay it. Even if it’ll cost more than the actual fine. ”
  2390. >Why would she do that?”
  2391. “That’s just how she works. Sometimes she’ll cut off her own nose just to spite someone.” You shrug.
  2392.  
  2393. >Making your way down to the Pits, you spot your team prepping Pulse for her race.
  2394. >Sharp has most of the gear set up, the empty space under the monitors tells he’s waiting for the laptop.
  2395. >Handing your old laptop over, Sharp plugs it in and dons his own headset as he watches the system boot.
  2396. >You spot Starlight, across from you talking to her staff as they prepare for the race.
  2397. >She catches you looking and smiles before making an L shape with her forelegs and mouthing ‘Loser’
  2398. >You greet her back with a middle finger in which you both share a laugh.
  2399. >It seems hard habits do die hard as she checks both ways before crossing the pit lane, even though there are only two AG’s and they're both stationary.
  2400. >”I think we’ve caused a bit of a crowd,” She almost yells over the roaring crowd as they watch you both talk.
  2401. “And trouble to go with it, had the sheriff grill me on the way in, tried footing me the bill for the security here.”
  2402. >”Shoot, sorry Anon, I didn’t think this would have gotten so much attention.”
  2403. “Well someone must have put the word out.”
  2404. >”Maybe, but word spreads faster these days, though I wonder if…” She raises her hoof to her chin. “If Diamond had something to do with it.”
  2405. “What do you mean?”
  2406. >”I notified her yesterday about our plans. She seemed overly keen. A little too much if you ask me.”
  2407. “Should have known…” You mutter.
  2408. >A couple of flashes catches both of your attention.
  2409. >A few reporters wearing ‘pit passes’ snaps photos of you two.
  2410. “I bet they paid for a fair bit for them…”
  2411. >Starlight sighs “Always for a quick bit with that mare.”
  2412. “Well let's give them what they came for.”
  2413. >Your old rival grins, “Alright, three laps.”
  2414. >You nod in agreement.
  2415. >”Good, let the best team win.”
  2416.  
  2417. >You are now Pulse.
  2418. >Your stomach churns with anxiety.
  2419. >You're actually racing again, and to top it off your racing under Anon, piloting Colds old rebuilt AG.
  2420. >The headset covering your ears crackles, as Anon's voice comes through the speakers.
  2421. >”It’s go time, take her to the start-line Pulse, there’s no track mare , so just follow Spanner.”
  2422. >You hear Spanner shout back at Anon, something about it’s a mare’s job.
  2423. >After a bit of bickering between the two, Spanner, not looking happy one bit waves you over for you to follow.
  2424. >You slip onto the track and pull up next to Starlights AG, piloted by Smooth Glide, if you remember correctly.
  2425. >”Good luck out there Pulse,” Anon says through your headset.
  2426. “Thanks Anon.”
  2427. >You take a deep breath and wait for the count down to begin.
  2428. >Right Pulse time to get in the zone.
  2429. >You focus on the track ahead, tuning out the crowds cheering.
  2430. >Taking a quick glance at Smooth in his AG next to you, you wonder if you can bet him off the start line or play it safe.
  2431. >You watch the countdown start.
  2432. >Three.
  2433. >Two.
  2434. >One.
  2435. >The crowd roars ecstatically as you and Smooth both launch forward, rapidly accelerating along the straight.
  2436. >He looks like he learnt his lesson yesterday and eases the acceleration.
  2437. >Not risking a blackout yourself you keep to his pace.
  2438. >You see the first bend approaching fast.
  2439. >With you being on the inside, he starts to drift over to you.
  2440. >Already he wants to trade shields.
  2441. >”Hold steady Pulse, remember your shields can take some punishment before failing.”
  2442. >You take Anon's advice, and brace keeping the AG steady as Smooth leans and attempts to cut in.
  2443. >Your AG shakes as your shields flicker against his.
  2444. >You both round the bend, as he eases off your shielding.
  2445. >He has slipped back at little as you both race into the second straight.
  2446. >But it’ll be only a matter of time until you're both neck and neck again.
  2447. >You try picking up speed but you know a sharper corner will be coming up soon.
  2448. >Your headset crackles to life “Good job Pulse, Starlight always trains her pilots to race aggressive. Focus on gaining ground instead of relatilation.”
  2449. >You pick up speed to try and bait smooth into running the corner too fast. You feel yourself being pressed back into the seat as you accelerate.
  2450. >You glance right to see Smooth still holding by your side.
  2451. >Perfect timing is needed, you ready your hoof over the air brakes.
  2452. >”You may want to slow down Pulse! You're going way too fast for that corner.” Anon warns.
  2453. >Now.
  2454. >You apply pressure on the air brake, you feel your body pull forward for the G forces.
  2455. >Your seat belts dig into your fur as your vision darkens around the edges.
  2456. >You see Smooth flash by and attempt to take the corner.
  2457. >It worked, he took the bait and clips the rails on the corner.
  2458. >His shields flicker as he grinds on the railing.
  2459. >The back end of his AG swerves as he over compensates attempting to regain control.
  2460. >You easily glide around the corner over taking him on the inside.
  2461. >”Damn Pulse give me a heart attack why don't you!” Anon bellows in your ear. “Not sure if it’s dumb luck or skill but you got a good second on him.”
  2462.  
  2463. >You continue through the last couple of bends and fly past the finish line.
  2464. >”Two more laps Pulse, Keep that speed up on those corners.”
  2465. “Will do Anon,”
  2466. >You rush down the straight and into the first bend.
  2467. >As you turn you catch a glimpse of Smooth regaining ground.
  2468. >Coming out of the bend, your shields flicker as he bumps you from the rear.
  2469. >Your cockpit shakes from the shock.
  2470. >”Ignore him Pulse, keep your cool.”
  2471. >You feel another bump from behind.
  2472. >He must be a little ticked off by your trick.
  2473. >You take a quick look at your on board computer.
  2474. >The shields are dipping by three percent each hit.
  2475. >Your AG shunts left as he clips your shielding from the back right.
  2476. “Anon I think I’ve made him mad.”
  2477. >”Those are love taps, get used to them. Try and pull away from him after the next corner.”
  2478. >You pull around the corner with Smooth still in close pursuit.
  2479. >As the track straightens out you start to pull away.
  2480. >As you pull away he does the same.
  2481. >He’s using your slipstream to keep up with your acceleration.
  2482. >You push though the next bends with your competitor still in tow.
  2483. “I can’t get away from him Anon,”
  2484. >”Relax, you're still in the lead, take it one corner at a time and don’t let him pass.”
  2485. >As the final corner approaches you spot Smooth trying to undertake your from the inside lane.
  2486. >You feel a hard shudder from the left as he tries to wedge himself between you and the inside.
  2487. >The shield crackles as it continues against Smooth’s.
  2488. >Now with both AG's side by side, you start to tilt the AG ready to pull around the corner.
  2489. >As you both head around the corner you quickly accelerate out of the corner.
  2490. >Glancing to your left you see your rival slip back a little, taking the opportunity you pull close into the inside as you round another corner.
  2491. >Zipping past the finish line you hear Anon over the headset.
  2492. >”Final lap Pulse you got this.”
  2493. >You shoot along the straight and into the bend.
  2494. >Coming back out onto another straight you spot the other AG making ground.
  2495. >It didn’t take long for you to see Smooth from the corner of your eye.
  2496. >This pony doesn’t give up.
  2497. >You can hear his engine over yours, he’s really giving everything he’s got.
  2498. >You both slip though the corners.
  2499. >As the last corner comes into view you run a few decisions through your head.
  2500. >You both approach the corner, as you start to tilt slightly right.
  2501. >Your shields meet once again and start crackling and flickering.
  2502. >This is it, it's now or nothing.
  2503. >Rounding the corner, you let the AG drift into Smooths shields
  2504. >The shields flicker furiously as you push his craft into the outer line.
  2505. >Quickly, you pull left tucking in tight into the corner.
  2506. >Before Smooth can act you slip in front of him, then open the throttle to the finish line.
  2507. >You hear the crowd break into cheer as you pass the finish line with Smooth half of second behind.
  2508. >”Hell yeah!” You hear Anon shout with joy over the headset, “Excellent racing there Pulse, take a cool down lap and return to the pits.”
  2509.  
  2510. >You are Anon.
  2511. >You staff are ecstatic with cheering on Pulse for the win.
  2512. >The race has been nail biting all the way through and by the sound of the crowd is exactly what they came to see.
  2513. >Pulse slips into the pits after the cool down lap.
  2514. >Docking, the cockpit window flicks up, unveiling a sweat matted Pulse, grinning ear to ear.
  2515. >Spanner and Trips immediately start the post-race maintenance as they congratulate her.
  2516. >”So how did I do Anon?” Pulse asks dropping down from the AG with shaky legs.
  2517. “Not bad, not bad at all.” You reply, grinning back at her, “With some more practice I can see you in the championships.”
  2518. >”You think so?”
  2519. “I think so,” You put your hands in your pockets and walk past your pilot, “Now if you excuse me, there’s a unicorn I need to gloat too.”
  2520. >You check the pits track before crossing over to Starlight.
  2521. >”Oh no, someone call security, somepony let an ape on the track.” Starlight announces to her staff jokingly.
  2522. “So…” You give the best smug face you can muster.
  2523. >”So…” She mimics knowing what's coming.
  2524. ”How does it feel?” You bend slightly to look down on her.
  2525. >”Feel what Anon?”
  2526. “The feeling of losing.”
  2527. >”Never heard of the word,” She shrugs.
  2528. “Really? I thought you would know about losing by now, reminds me of years ago.”
  2529. >”Surprised you can remember that far back Anon, now, do I have to remind you where the elderly home is again?” She asks, smirking up at you.
  2530. >Both share a laugh.
  2531. >”I missed this.”
  2532. “Losing? Or being back on the track?”
  2533. >Starlight rolls her eyes, “Being back on the track. With all these new pilots, teams and everything else, I can’t wait until the championships start up again.”
  2534. “Me too, me too,” you nod.
  2535. >After a little more chatter between you and Starlight, you decide to return to your team who were packing up their stuff.
  2536. >You tell Trips to return to the workshop ahead of everyone else, the lack of Fairstorm at the event fills you with a little worry.
  2537. >Just before he leaves, you ask Sharp to go with him, you didn’t want a situation like yesterday.
  2538. “Right guys, is everyone packed up?” You ask.
  2539. >The remaining staff replies either with a nod or a vocal yes.
  2540. “Before we go, I’m going to do a little surprise press release.” You glance towards the reporters who are still snapping pictures of you, as well as Starlight across the way. “Pulse have you recovered enough to get the AG back to the workshop?”
  2541. >Pulse nods, “I can, but would you like me to stay for the press?”
  2542. “No!”
  2543. >”Sweet No!” Pen matches your tone.
  2544. >You raise an eyebrow at her, as you didn’t expect that from her.
  2545. >She coughs in her hoof, “Pulse, dear. Anon was right to keep you away from the press. Being on the flip side, now having you talk would be a disaster for my career.”
  2546. “Couldn’t of said it better myself Pen,”
  2547. >Pulse deflates on the spot, before slumping on her haunches, like a wounded animal, “I’m not that bad,”
  2548. “You are Pulse, you sometimes don’t think before you speak or act.”
  2549. >”You have somewhat impulsive behavior, Pulse.” Pen adds.
  2550. >”You two sound like my parents.” She sighs, “Alright I’ll get the AG back to the workshop,”
  2551. >You watch Pulse climb into the AG as Spanner waves at her to follow him.
  2552. “Alright miss PR, what's the plan?”
  2553. >”Plan?” She looks up wide eyed at you,with a hint of worry. “Anon, you decided this yesterday. I-I havent had the time…” Her expression drops to a frown with her ears dropped back, “Honestly Anon, you really know how to drop bombshells on ponies.”
  2554. “Maybe I do, keep on your toes - er hooves.”
  2555. >Pen scrunches her muzzle, “Fine, just announce Everfreek is back in the game. Keep it short. Make no promises.”
  2556. “Exactly what I was thinking.”
  2557. >”Then why did you-” Pen pauses as if she’s reconsidering something, “You’re testing me aren't you?”
  2558. >You didn’t answer other than a smile.
  2559. >You both make your way to the press, who are now furiously shouting questions. Dozens of ponies frantically switching their cameras to video mode.
  2560. Ignoring the questions you speak up. “Everfeek is back. Stay tuned.” You finish with a curt nod.
  2561. >That was enough to drive the reporters into a rabid slur of shouted questions.
  2562. >Keeping to Pen’s advice you turn on your heel and start walking back to the workshop.
  2563. >A well dressed stallion blocks your path with an outreached foreleg. “Mr Anonymous, Diamond Tiara bids to see you at the main offices.”
  2564. >If she’s here, then why didn't she make her presence known until now?
  2565. >You nod to the stallion.
  2566. >”Alright, follow me.”
  2567. >”Am I coming too?” Pen asks.
  2568. “Sure, you met Diamond Tiara before?”
  2569. >”Only to shout questions at her,” She shrugs as she follows along.
  2570. >You enter the offices, it looks like no expense is being spared on the renovations.
  2571. >Ponies wearing hard hats are seen walking around and looking over blueprints.
  2572. >The stallion leads you both up a flight of stairs and into the main office space.
  2573. >More ponies can be seen setting up computers and monitors around the room.
  2574. >In the center you spot Silver Star talking to Diamond.
  2575. >”Dotted Line, can you please keep giving this ‘sheriff’ bits until he goes away, I don’t have time for this.” The pink earth pony waves he hoof dismissively.
  2576. >”Now listen here missy-” Silver Star says, a little aggravated.
  2577. >”Miss Tiara…” She corrects.
  2578. >He groans in frustration, ”May need to mention again, attempting to bribe authorities is a serious crime.”
  2579. >”I’m not bribing. It’s an incentive to leave.” She curtly replies.
  2580. >”I’m here to notify you-”
  2581. >”Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. Talk to Dotted Line here,” She points a hoof to another well dressed blue stallion with a pen and paper cutie mark.
  2582. >”Mr Star, my client wishes for me to represent her, if you do not have a warrant then, it’ll be me who you’ll be talking to.” Dotted Line steps up to the sheriff.
  2583. >Silver Star mumbles something under his breath, “Very well, but expect a direct letter from the town mayor.”
  2584. >”Dotted Line, make it a priority to visit the mayor today,” Diamond Finally notices you standing in the doorway. “Ah! Anon!”
  2585. “Tiara.” You fold your arms.
  2586. >”Come in,come in. You!” She points at a suited mare. “Two coffee’s for our guests.”
  2587. >The mare nods and heads out of the room.
  2588. >Silver Star walks past you and gives you a glance to say to be careful. “See you around Anon.”
  2589. >You think he doesn’t realize you and Tiara go way back. You have known her since she was a young filly.
  2590. >”So Anon, it’s been way too long~” Tiara smiles at you, half genuine.
  2591. “Cut the crap Tiara, when you speak like that you want something.”
  2592. >She laughs, “You haven't changed one bit Anon.”
  2593. “Can say the same about you. So what do you want?”
  2594. >The mare from earlier gives you and Pen a coffee, giving a nod and smile she leaves.
  2595. >You tilt the cup into the light and give it a sniff.
  2596. >”It’s not poison.” Diamond states, looking a bit hurt at your actions.
  2597. “Sorry, I’ve gotten a little paranoid due to...some events have taken place.”
  2598. >”Fairstorm?” She asks, tilting her head with another smile.
  2599. “How did you know?” You furrow your brow.
  2600. >Pen looks at her with suspicion.
  2601. >”Please Anon, you may be an alien from another planet, but your not that special - well anymore.” Diamond Tiara pulls out her tablet and taps the screen and shows you some numbers, “They’ve been buying up all the rare minerals and massively undercutting the technology sector, hurting Rich corp in the process.”
  2602. “You think it’s an attack?”
  2603. >She shrugs, “Maybe, maybe not, but they’ve been hitting all anti gravity related companies.”
  2604. You sigh, this is going deeper than you thought. “Anyway, the question still stands: what do you want?”
  2605. >”Your original AG.”
  2606. >Why would she want such a thing?
  2607. “What?” You look at her as if she grew an extra head, “Even if I would give to you, Celestia probably either scrapped it or have it still locked away somewhere.”
  2608. >”How would having Anon’s old AG help against Fairstorm?” Pen finally speaks up.
  2609. >”We all know they are doing military research, your old AG, even though old, still have cutting edge weaponry on it.”
  2610. >”That’s just a conspiracy on the ponynet!” Pen dismisses her.
  2611. >”Really? How come I remember the crashed AG firing a missile knocking out the shields of the royal guards?”
  2612. “I don't remember that.”
  2613. >”You are already in hospital, the guards were ordered to move your AG to a safe location. They set up a shield around the crash site so ponies couldn’t see in. I was Silver Spoon at the time, we were hiding in the bushes when the shielding was put up.”
  2614. >You always wondered what happened that day when you were rushed to hospital, any questions about your AG were always brushed off but the guard and Princesses.
  2615. >”So Anon, will you help?” Tiara asks, “With that technology Rich Corp can bankroll those fair-freaks out of existence.”
  2616. “Like I said, it's probably scrapped by now.”
  2617. >”No, Celestia still has it, all you need to do is ask.”
  2618. >You would like to have your old AG back, it's still a little piece of Earth, a momento for your previous life back in your world.
  2619. >If you do have a chance of getting it back, then giving it to Rick Corp is out of the question.
  2620. >You do wonder if the Royal Sisters still remember you, it's been a very long time since you even talked to them.
  2621. >And their email address isn’t something they would just hand out.
  2622. >”So what is it Anon? Will you help me?” Tiara asks, snapping you out of your thoughts.
  2623. “No.”
  2624. >You brace for a tirade of a spoiled brat.
  2625. >Fortunately it didn’t come.
  2626. >Diamond Tiara simply nods. “That’s your choice Anon and I respect your decision.”
  2627. >You fold your arms and raise an eyebrow, this is far from the Tiara you know.
  2628. >”Anyway, I would love to stay and chat. But I got a busy schedule to keep.” Diamond smiles, nods and trots away with her personal staff.
  2629. >”I don’t trust her Anon.” Pen pipes up.
  2630. “She’s up to something, the Tiara I know would be throwing her toys out of her pram by now… and I don’t buy that she just matured either.”
  2631. >Pen stays silent for a moment before turning around, “Are we done here?”
  2632. “Yeah. Lets head back to the workshop.”
  2633.  
  2634. >Back at the workshop Trips and Spanner are just finishing the post race maintenance on the AG.
  2635. >Trips wipes his brow and places his tools down, “Glad that’s done...Say, Spanner?”
  2636. >”What is it?” Spanner grumbles as he shuffles out under the AG.
  2637. >”I forgot to ask, how did your Track Mare debut go?” Trips asks, trying not to smirk.
  2638. >”Did I say when I got back to the pits we would never speak of it again?”
  2639. >Trips taps his chin. “Nope. you said…” he disguises himself as Spanner but as a mare, with a voice to match. “No *pony* ever speak of this.” He holds a hoof to his mouth and whispers, “And I’m not a pony.”
  2640. >”You know what meant!” Spanner stamps a hoof, he takes a look at you and takes a deep breath and sighs, a rare small smile forms on his lips “besides, it hasn’t been me you’ve been watching all day, you haven’t taken your eyes off Pulse all day.”
  2641. >Trips drops his disguise, “No I haven’t.”
  2642. >”Was it her tight G-suit?”
  2643. “Alright you two, that enough,” You finally step in. “I take it the post race maintenance has been done?”
  2644. >”All intakes and filters have been cleared of dust.” Spanner replies.
  2645. >”And the hull and panels have all been checked for defects. All are clear, just need to finish checking the electrics.”
  2646. “Good to hear.” You reply glancing around the workshop, looking for a certain wingless pegasus. “Where’s Pulse?”
  2647. >Spanner shrugs. “She’s somewhere.”
  2648. >”She’s asleep.” Trip deadpans “On my bed.”
  2649. >You guess the race really took it out of the mare.
  2650.  
  2651. >Just over a month has passed and everything seems to have mellowed out in regards to AGR.
  2652. >The news has started to call the quiet spell the silence before the storm, which is accurate as all the big companies have gone into early season mode, where everyone is hard at work and their secrets kept safe from the press.
  2653. >You flick on your tablet and check the stocks.
  2654. >They seem healthy, the share price has leveled out due to your companies inactivity since the museum relaunch. To which it became a surprise success, investors steadily rolled in over the weeks that followed.
  2655. >A few changes to the workshop also followed, the main AG area has been moved over to fit another. It’ll be a tight fit for another, but you’ll have to make due.
  2656. >You place the tablet down on your desk, you spot Trips and Spanner arguing over something as usual, once again you listen in just in case you have to intervene.  
  2657.  
  2658. >”I’m telling you,  Mare’av Technologies pulled out of that season due to unrest in Saddle Arabia.” Spanner shouts at Trips.
  2659. >”Utter rubbish! They didn’t pull out, it was due to the funds being cut mid season!” Trips yells back.
  2660. >Looks like another heated AG history argument between the both of them again.
  2661. >”Sharp! Mare’av,” Spanner calls over to Sharp who was typing on the laptop with his magic, “They pulled out the fifth championships due to the unrest didn’t they?”
  2662. >Sharp not bothering to look up from his screen replies, “You’re both right, Mare’av at the time was funded by TGN Oil, TGN had to stop funding due to the loss of their oil fields in Saddle Arabia. Now can I get back to researching changeling puke?”
  2663. >”See, I’m right.” Spanner points at the changeling.
  2664. >”He said where we’re both right you idiot!”
  2665. “Enough you two,” You finally chime in, “We need to be deciding on what chassis to use on our new AG. Sharp, you got anything?”
  2666. >The grey coated unicorn nods, “There’s a few companies who are willing to accept AGR contracts. You want me to read them out?”
  2667. “Sure,”
  2668. >”We got Desert-town metal works, they can supply aluminum light class chassis. Blackwater industries can supply magic imbued steel mid class chassis. And finally Mino Unlimited Limited, they can supply heavy chassis, being of steel or titanium alloy.”
  2669. “Any company that does special order contracts?”
  2670. >Sharp looks down the list he has on his screen and clicks with his magic “Desert-Towns’ website mentions they do, but we have to call them for an estimate.”
  2671. “Good to know,”
  2672. >You ponder on your options.
  2673.  
  2674. >Come to think of it, you never heard of these companies before.
  2675. You look back around to Sharp, “Is there any more information on these companies?”
  2676. >Sharp nods and taps a key on the laptop skillfully with his hoof, “Desert-town metal works are based on the outskirts of Dodge City, so not far from here, as far as I can tell the company is around ten years old...A has a four star rating.”
  2677. “What about Blackwater?”
  2678. >”Got an Anti-Grav pedigree, used to be part of Richcorp until AGR collapsed and it was sold off. Looks like they survived by creating small truck chassis and steel girders for building works.”
  2679. “And the last one?”
  2680. >”Looks like a minotaur company, from what I can tell there is a new company that works with magic imbued metals. From their blog it seems they just opened their second steel works factory.”
  2681. >With the new information you mull over the companies.
  2682. “Sharp, can you give Desert-Town a call, try and get an estimated price for a special order. Or at least a price guide.”
  2683. >The unicorn nods and starts calling the company on his tablet.
  2684. >You turn your attention to your two engineers.
  2685. “Spanner, Trips. I got a quiz for you.”
  2686. >”Quiz on what?” The changeling asks cleaning his hooves with a dirty cloth.
  2687. “AG chassis and class.”
  2688. >”Easy.” He gives a cocky grin.
  2689. >Spanner trots over and sits next to Trips and listens in.
  2690. “What are the pros and cons of a light class chassis?”
  2691. >Trips smiles as he knows the answer ”Faster speeds and tighter cornering due to less G-forces. Cons is that light chassis are prone to heat stress due to being made with lighter materials plus, you'll always lose when bumping shields with a medium or heavy class AG.”
  2692. “Alright, Spanner, pros and cons of a medium class chassis?”
  2693. >Spanner nods, “Mediums are normally slower than the light class, but it’s known to still match one on cornering with a skilled pilot.  The cons are that they aren't nimble enough to evade a hit from a heavy class and due to their size they have trouble strafing left and right.”
  2694. “Good. Now how about Heavy?”
  2695. >The both engineers look at each other then back to you.
  2696. >”I think there have only been two heavy class AGs, so I’m not sure.” Spanner says shrugging.
  2697. >”There’s been three,” Sharp corrects him, while his call is on hold. “Hold music is always the worst…” He mumbles under his breath.
  2698.  “Heavy classes are a nightmare on a track. Get one with a good pilot then other AG’s are nothing but bowling pins. With the size of the frame you can install much more tech like better shields, stabilisers, on board computers, you don’t need to worry about space too much. The cons is that they are slow, and of course, heavy.”
  2699.  
  2700. >You return your attention to Sharp, who is finally talking to someone at Desert-Town Metalworks.
  2701. >”Does it have to be aluminum or can you use another similar metal?” The old unicorn speaks into his table, “That’ll come under a special order then? How much are we looking for special orders?”He pauses for the pony on the other end to speak, “Alright I’ll hold,”
  2702. “On hold again?”
  2703. >Sharp brushes his messy mane back then adjusts his glasses, “I think I heard the company owner in the background, I smell a forced advertisement deal.”
  2704. You laugh, “Nothing never changes,”
  2705. >Though this gives you some leverage to get a decent price, you make a mental note.
  2706. >You continue to think things over.
  2707. >A Lightweight class would suit Pulse, she’s that type of pony, acts on impulse.
  2708. >Though a mid class would giver the extra protection if things go wrong. You don’t want her to end up like Cold-
  2709. >You stop that trail of thought immediately.
  2710. >You can’t allow all of the decisions to be tainted by his death.
  2711. >As you wrestle with your own thoughts a small compromise forms in the back of your mind.
  2712. >What about an unique chassis that's somewhere between light and medium?
  2713. >That would mean Pulse will get more protection, while keeping somewhat of it’s agility. Also a slightly bigger frame means a bigger engine, so with some timing mapping, it is possible to make the lost speed negalable.
  2714. >You look back over to Sharp who is still on hold.
  2715.  
  2716. >”Okay thank you, bye.” Sharp ends the call on his tablet then places it on his desk.
  2717. “Did you get a quote?”
  2718. >The unicorn nods, ”For a standard aluminium chassis we’re looking at fifteen thousand bits, though I did speak to the owner for a quote on a custom order. They are willing to do a sponsorship, so advertising their brand on the side of the AG to pay it off kind of deal.”
  2719. “As always. Though we may need to go with them, I’m thinking of a new chassis design.”
  2720. >”New chassis design? As in class?” Sharp sits up, it's always stuff like this alway gets him excited.
  2721. “Yeah, I’m thinking of a new light to medium class. It’ll mean it’ll be less of a headache to install more pilot protection than we would using a smaller frame.”
  2722. >”I see what you mean-” Sharp pauses and taps his chin in thought, “I know this is unorthodox, but a while back a young fan posted some blueprints on my website. He got grief to no end by other users as he widened a light frame to install an internal steel roll cage, a rudenmenty fire prevention system and crumple bars at the front behind the radiator.”
  2723. “Nothing special about it,” You point at the AG behind you, “That old thing has that, though the roll bar is external.”
  2724. >”Ah,” Sharp raises a hoof, “That’s the point, the panels are made with an aluminium alloy that’s designed to crumble around the internal roll cage, if there’s a fire, then the prevention system deploys the foam.”
  2725. “So in a bad crash the pilot suffers a bad case of whiplash and covered in foam.”
  2726. >”Yes, but still alive.”
  2727. “I don’t know…”
  2728. >”Look who ever created those blueprints is smart for a young colt, well at least what I presume it’s him in his avatar picture.”
  2729. “Let me guess, you checked the math?”
  2730. >Sharp pushes up his glasses and smiles, “Of course, though he was off in a few places, nothing too worrying though and easily corrected.”
  2731. “Have you got these blueprints?”
  2732. >”I archive and index the site every month, it’ll be a simple search.”
  2733. “Are the blueprints copyrighted or patented?”
  2734. >Sharp shakes his head, “I wouldn't have thought so, it was a colts project. Besides, I could modify it enough to make it our own legally.”
  2735. >”If you two are thinking about plagiarising another blueprints then consider me gone,” Spanner trots up to you, “Copyrighted, patented or not, I’m not doing it.”
  2736. “Whoa, calm down Spanner, I was just asking,” You look over the stocky unicorn at the changeling, “I guess you have the same sentiments too?”
  2737. >“You’re asking a changeling about copying laws?” Trips replies chuckling as he picks up a broom to sweep around the AG.
  2738. “Good point.”
  2739. >”What about if we track the colt down, he posted the blueprints years ago, with that intelligence I presume he’s in university by now.”
  2740. “Why would you want to track him down?”
  2741. >”Personally, I kind of want to meet the mind behind it, it’s almost a genius design. Almost.” Sharp chimes in.
  2742. “Sounds like jealousy there Sharp.”
  2743. >”Me? Jealous? Never. I never let such emotions get in a way of science.”
  2744. “Let me guess you gave him grief on the forums before you checked the numbers right?”
  2745. >”No...Okay maybe a little.”
  2746. >You fold your arms and raise your eyebrows at your lead researcher.
  2747. >”Alright, I may have accidentally caused him to deactivate his account, my feedback was a little…” He rolls his hoof, “Rough.”
  2748.  
  2749. You glance over to Spanner to check he’s out of hearing range, then back to Sharp. “How long would it take to modify those plans?”
  2750. >”A few days.” Sharp replies clicking on the laptop, you guess he’s already started, “There’s a few adjustments I need to make first.”
  2751. “Alright, and is it possible to track this guy down? If he’s a genius like you said, then I would like to meet him.”
  2752. >”So do I, though for more of an apology. Finding him would be no issue, just do a reverse image search on his profile image. It'll be bound to be on a social media account somewhere.” The unicorn says as his types, “Once I have his real name then it's a simple directory search. If that doesn't work I’ll just search his email.”
  2753. “And ETA on that?”
  2754. >”A few minutes,”
  2755. “You know it’s kind of creepy you know how to do that. Like Pen always seems to know more than she should about you.”
  2756. >”Information is information. If you dumb enough to put your personal life on the ponynet then thats your problem.” Sharp pauses typing and looks up, “Say where is Pen and Pulse anyway?”
  2757. “Collecting the new G-suit.” You reply.
  2758. >As on cue, the two in question trots in through the workshop door.
  2759. “Took you time,”
  2760. >”Sorry, there was an issue on collecting the G-suits, now come Pulse, you need to try it on” Pen almost sings as she passes straight past you.
  2761. >”Okay…” Pulse walks behind, she pauses in front of you and whispers, “Anon help, I think she’s gone loco, she thought we were on a shopping trip!”
  2762. “What do you mean?”
  2763. >”She made me wear every suit in that place, even the ones that the track mares used to wear...They were so revealing...” Pulse blushes.
  2764. >”Pulse! Come!” Pen shouts from Trips room.
  2765. >”Hey out of there!” You hear the changeling shout.
  2766. >”Pulse is using it for a changing room. Mr Trips. Please be a gentlecolt.”
  2767. >”Uh...Fine...Just don’t touch my stuff!” Trips grumbles.
  2768. You bring your attention back to Pulse as she looks at your with pleading eyes, “I think your better do as she says”
  2769. >”But.”
  2770. “Besides I need to check it over, make sure it's up to standards. Last thing I want is you having a faulty suit and getting killed.”
  2771. >Pulse slumps a little, “Alright.” She says, slowly walking towards Pen who is eagerly waiting.
  2772. >”Mares…” Sharps shakes his head, peering over his glasses, “Never understood their fascination with clothes.”
  2773. “I still don’t understand why you ponies need privacy to put clothes on…”
  2774. >”I don’t understand why you need to wear clothes all the time,”
  2775. “Else you’ll get a face full of junk.”
  2776. >”Ah no sheath. I forgot...Weirdo.” He chuckles.
  2777. “Don’t start that crap again,” You point at the unicorn.
  2778. >”But it was like a limp-”
  2779. “Stop!”
  2780. >”And two sacks-” He grins.
  2781. You grab a wet oily cloth from your desk, crumple it up and throw it at the unicron.
  2782. >”Gah! Come on! Oil takes ages to scrub from your coat.”
  2783. “Should learn some manners then.”
  2784. >You both glare at each other then laugh.
  2785. >Just like old times.
  2786.  
  2787. >Eventually Trips bedroom door flings open with Pen happily trotting out.
  2788. >”Everypony! Meet our new and improved pilot! Pulse Sway!” She exclaims.
  2789. >Meekly, Pulse comes out of the room wearing the new G-suit. The suit is tight fitting that wraps snuggly around her frame, the suit is mostly white, with two stripes of green down the sides with the Everfreek logo.
  2790. >”So what do you think?” Pulse asks.
  2791. “Looking good.”
  2792. >”Looks fine, Ms Sway.” Sharp calls over.
  2793. >Spanner glaces over and shrugs, “It’ll do the job.”
  2794. >Trips says nothing and just stares.
  2795. >Upon noticing this, Pulse approaches him with a sudden confidence, “Don’t you like it Bugbug?”
  2796. >The changeling nods with a green blush forming across his face as Pulse gives him a twirl.
  2797. >”Tell me, do you like it?”
  2798. >”It’s a nice G-spot I mean- G-suit! G-suit!” Trips trips over his words.
  2799. >Everyone cringes at the slip of his tongue.
  2800. >The workshop fills with laughter from Spanner, “Oh my, sweet Celestia!”
  2801. >”Shut it! She knew what I meant!”
  2802. >”I’m pretty sure she does!” Spanner continues to laugh.
  2803. You clap your hands to get your staff's attention.“That’s enough everyone, back to work!”
  2804. >You shake your head, and pick up your tablet again.
  2805.  
  2806. >With a finger over the news app you wonder if you should get Pen to snap some photos of Pulse for more marketing posts.
  2807. >Then again, Pen seems to be fine doing what she does. Maybe there isn't a reason to start micromanaging her.
  2808. >But on the flip side, making Pulse a bit of a sex symbol would make more fans to cheer her on.
  2809. >You shake your head. You'll think this through another time.
  2810. >You press the news app on your tablet.
  2811. >One by one your screen is filled with news lines.
  2812. >You read a few that grab your attention.
  2813.  
  2814. >> TGN OIL, BUYS OLD LAS PEGASUS RACE TRACK. IS SYN CITY BACK?
  2815. >> AGR COMMITTEE MEETING HELD OVER NEW "POSSIBLE" CHAMPIONSHIP.
  2816. >> 'OUR TEAM' WALKS ON GRYPHON MONARCHY'S OFFER.
  2817. >> MINOTAUR AG LOST IN MAZE. SCIENTIST BAFFLED.
  2818. >> NEW GLIMMER OF HOPE? STARLIGHTS NEW SCIENCE DIVISION.
  2819. >> QUILLS AND SOFAS MEGA-CORPORATION AND RICHCORP CAUGHT IN AG BIDDING WAR.
  2820. >> WHEN IS A SPANNER NOT A HAMMER, A NEW AG TECH GUIDE.
  2821.  
  2822. >See the headline about the new possible championship pretty much confirms it.
  2823. >You've been in the sport far too long, where you can read between the lines of news articles.
  2824. >The question is, when are they going to drop the sign up date?
  2825. >Next you check the stocks, the price per share now sits at a comfy seventy-six bits.
  2826. >Last but not least you check your emails.
  2827. >Thanks to Pen you inbox has been very quiet for the last month. Other than Glimmer sending you chain mails from ten years ago and old memes.
  2828.  
  2829. >”Hey Anon?” Sharp asks looking over from the laptop.
  2830. “Yeah?”
  2831. >”Found him.” The unicorn replies sounding a little worried.
  2832. “You don’t sound happy about it.”
  2833. >Sharp takes off his glasses then stares into space, “I think I unintentionally ruin a young colt's life...By a single post…”
  2834. “How? We all say nasty stuff online to each other everyday.”
  2835. >Sharp shakes his head, “He’s in a rehab center located in Dodge City. I even checked the public criminal court records, the colt, well now young stallion.”
  2836. “...Are they bad?”
  2837. >”Possession of Illegal Substances, Assault of a Royal Guard, Drunk and Disorderly and Petty Theft.”
  2838. “So a normal Saturday night for us from years ago then?”
  2839. >”Anon this isn’t funny! What if I caused this! The colt was a genius! He should be in university! Not like this!” The unicorn flattens his ears with his hooves as he rambles.
  2840. “Sharp! Calm down!” You yell over his rambling. “Jeez, what got into you? There could be a number of reasons why he ended up this way.”
  2841. >”But what if?”
  2842. “What Sharp? You have no idea what his home life was like. Maybe his parents were junkies too and he simply followed suit.”
  2843. >”But!”
  2844. “Enough Sharp.”
  2845. >You rub the bridge of your nose, you forgot when Sharp panics about something he doesn’t shut up about it. Especially when he feels guilty about something.
  2846. >You think what to do.
  2847.  
  2848. >Knowing this, hiring this pony is out of the question. Sounds like it's a possibility that the drugs have ruined his brain. Besides, you have faith in Sharp to create something new based on the blueprints.
  2849. >You couldn't help to glance at Sharp, you know that look. It's eating him inside.
  2850. >There's no harm in paying the colt a visit, at least it'll be resolved for Sharp. You hope that the colt just ended up hanging around with the wrong crowd.
  2851. >Another look at Sharp confirms your next action.
  2852. "Alright," You stand up and start packing your things, "Come on, we're going to Dodge."
  2853. >"Huh?" Sharp snaps out of his worried state.
  2854. "I said we're going to Dodge, get the address of the rehab center. We're going."
  2855. >"Now?"
  2856. "Yes we're going now, now pack what you need."
  2857. >"Uh sure..." Your lead researcher scrambles to pack the laptop and his tablet.
  2858. "Pulse, you're locking up tonight. I'll see you all tomorrow."
  2859. >The wingless pegasus trots over to you a little confused. "Where are you going?"
  2860. "Dodge, Sharp, and I are tracking someone down."
  2861. >"Alright, I'll make sure Bugbug is tucked in too." She smiles.
  2862. >You hear the changeling curse her from behind the AG.
  2863.  
  2864. >With that and saying bye to your staff you and the old unicorn walk through the dusty Apploosian heat and make way to the town's station.
  2865. >Like the Inn where Pulse was originally staying, the class of present and future made the place a literal juxtaposition, the old western redwood held up by chrome beams, scattered video advertisement boards and digital information signs.
  2866. >The old ticket booth now houses touchscreen computers that list the next train times and a function to purchase tickets to use at a later date.
  2867. >Even though it’s been this way for years it’s still odd seeing it run with minimal staff. The whole place just feels empty and dead without the whistles and the rattling of the luggage carts.
  2868. >You both wait a little while on the old platform for the train to hover along its tracks to a stop.
  2869. >Hopping aboard you both find a seat with a pull down table, using the black-rimmed touch screen attached to the back of the seats in front you pay for your tickets.
  2870. >A melodic chime rings throughout the carriage to indicate to be seated as the train starts to pull away.
  2871. >A few yards out of the station, you feel yourself be gently pushed back into your seat as the train accelerates at great speed.
  2872. >Fellow passengers start to whisper and sneak photos of you.
  2873. >You try and distract yourself from them by staring blankly at the advertisements that litter the walls of the train.
  2874. >Floating digital text flashes about the new hot fashion event, to the coolest new drink.
  2875. >You huff and draw your attention to the desert scenery that is racing by.
  2876. >That being just as boring, you nudge Sharp.
  2877. "Have you located the Rehab Center?"
  2878. >Sharp nods, "A ten-minute taxi ride from the station. It seems to be on the outskirts."
  2879. "Alright I'll let you lead the way"
  2880. >”Okay.” He says, sounding unenthusiastic.
  2881. >You frown at your old friend. “Hey,” You give your old friend a light playful punch to his side, “Don’t worry. I bet this isn’t your fault.”
  2882. >”I don’t want to be a cause of another ruined life.” He says quietly.
  2883. “This is about Cold isn’t it.”
  2884. >”The cooling syst-”
  2885. “Sharp stop.” You order, “We’re not sure why it failed. But Cold kept racing even when I called him to the pits.”
  2886. >It takes a while for the unicorn to speak up again, “...Are you worried about Pulse?”
  2887. “Of course I am. This is one of the reasons I’m doing this. Well we got the blueprint anyway.”
  2888. >”So why are we going?”
  2889. “To help you. I need you on top of your game if we want to succeed. You got some past issues to sort out.”
  2890. >Sharp thinks for a bit and smirks ”Are we doing all this, the relaunch of Everfreek and AG racing just to sort past issues? Or have a second chance on how things should have gone?”
  2891. “What kind of question is that?”
  2892. >Sharp doesn’t reply, he simply shakes his head and stares out of the window.
  2893. >Before answering, you ask yourself why you are doing all this.
anon cyoa future wipeout racing

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