by That 1 Guy

Chapter 16: Flight

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Clockwork looked around in a half-daze. His senses had been dulled significantly, but he had enough feeling left in his body to tell that he was falling. Yet, there was no significant wind, or light. He could still see himself though.


He shook his head and flared out his wings to both stabilize and slow his descent, he needed to-

Wait. . . Wings?!

The pegasus looked over each shoulder, finding a fully formed wing just where it should be! What the hay?!

The stallion’s attention was brought back to the surrounding environment. The wind was picking up now, and he could faintly make out the ground far below. He had to get himself flying now!

Clockwork frantically beat his feathery appendages in a desperate attempt to gain lift. While he did have moderate success in slowing down, he hadn’t stopped falling. He had to calm down and focus, or he would die before he could actually experience flight. Taking a few deep breaths, the pegasus stretched each wing as best he could and folded both back into his sides. In an instant, he unfurled both and flapped hard. For a moment, he felt the sensation of falling disappear from his body.

And then he looked down and realized he was about 5 inches from the floor.

“GYAAAH!” Clockwork would’ve catapulted upright from where he lay, but his body failed to accomplish the task due to several pairs of legs holding him against something. He struggled for several seconds, not bothering to take note of his surroundings before he heard the last voice he ever expected to hear in his life.

“Clockwork, please calm down. You are safe here.”

Clockwork practically froze solid at the calming voice, he could almost hear the soft smile in her tone. His eyes fluttered to the foot of what he realized was a medical cot. There was Haywire, Wetwork, Saltwater Taffy, and. . . and. . .

“Princess Luna?” Clockwork breathed, his mind almost completely devoid of belief.

The alicorn of the night nodded, eyes closed and smile gentle. “At last, you awaken. How are you feeling?”

“I guess I’m okay.” after sitting up, Clockwork ceased all motion to check for any aches or pains. Amazingly, there were none. He looked back to his friends, and most importantly, his ruler. “What happened?”

“You did something nopony ever has ever done before and succeeded! Yippee!” Taffy bounced up and down as high as she could without bumping into the princess next to her.

“I did. . . what?”

“Look to your left, silly!”

At Taffy’s word, Clockwork did in fact look to his left. His heart skipped a beat.

Clockwork had a left wing, though it looked very different now. Where there used to be jagged edges, gears, and springs, there was only a silver hued metal. It looked like and moved as fluently as the real thing with only a thought from Clockwork’s mind. Just beyond where mithril had bonded to flesh, his fire ruby glowed a brilliant red, sealed in place by the metal. He looked back to his comrades in total exasperation. “What the hay did I do?”

“We don’t know,” Luna explained. “Mithril has always been a substance of remarkable potential, though in all my years I had never once seen it do something like this,” she paused. “It is magical in nature, and all magical things have life to them in some fashion. Perhaps it guided you. Stranger things have happened with metals from the world’s core.”

Clockwork laughed under his breath.. “Forgive me, princess, but this didn’t just attach itself as easily as you expect.”

“Ooh!” Taffy ran up to Clockwork’s bedside and appeared to vibrate where she stood, causing the night princess to give her a short-lived look of concern. “Tell us everything! How’d you do it? What did it feel like? Can you do it with all of us now?”

Clockwork raised an eyebrow at the mare’s questioning. “I wrote down everything. What happened to my records?”

Taffy shrugged “Records? What records? I found you unconscious on the floor, but no blueprints or notes or anything!”

Clockwork gritted his teeth for a moment and sighed. “Well then that’s it then. My memory's shot, and without records, I can’t do it again.”

“Awww. . . please?” Saltwater Taffy gazed at Clockwork like a lovesick puppy, to which the stallion only shook his head. With a whimper, the mare returned to her previous spot.

“What else can you tell me about it?” Clockwork asked to nopony in particular.

“Ahem.” Luna cleared her throat. “The primary and secondary feathers’ tips are unimaginably sharp, one of the doctors accidentally cut himself on one, actually. As you already know, the metal is also incredibly resistant to damage. We went through three bonesaws without so much as a-”

“Excuse me for interrupting, your majesty. Did you saw bonesaw?

The alicorn nodded. “You were unconscious, and there was no real concern that the attempt to separate the prosthetic would’ve worked. Furthermore, a scientist like you doesn’t need artificial limbs as powerful as yours to function at peak capacity, only your mind.”

Despite the princess’ gentle voice, Clockwork couldn’t help but feel like they had tried to steal from him. He decided to change the subject. “How long was I out?”

“You were asleep for the whole week!” Taffy squeaked.

The pegasus stallion turned back to his ruler, eyes wide with concern. “Your majesty, I am fully lucid and understand that I am in no position to make demands, but I request that I be given all updates on the war’s current state or I shall refuse to part unto anypony what knowledge I still have to myself.” he took a deep breath, he didn’t think he could articulate that well. He was about to apologize for his brash statement when he heard the princess’ reply.

“Very well, though I believe you will not find joy in what I have to say. The Griffon Empire has pushed farther inland than we anticipated, and they’ve already taken three of our border outposts. We have reports coming in that the changelings are attacking Appleloosa in full force, though our Bison allies are holding fast. However, the changelings appear to be a different species from the ones defeated at the royal wedding. Finally, the zebra clans are reporting poison gas attacks by Diamond Dog soldiers. The situation seems grim, but as my sister has said before, we will prevail.”

A long period of silence followed the princesses’ words. It was Taffy who broke the silence first. “Hey Clocky, you okay?”

Clockwork looked up, fear clearly present in his eyes. “Which outposts?”


“Princess Luna,” Clockwork ignored the confused pegasus mare. “which outposts were taken?”

Luna sighed, hanging her head slightly to mourn the lost. “We lost Forts Courage and Reverence simultaneously, and Valor Point days later. Do those names mean anything to you?”

Clockwork’s vision focused on something far off in the distance, and his attention was not brought back to the real world until Wetwork had placed her forehoof on his real wing. “Clockwork, are you okay?”

“Hmm? What? Oh, yeah, I’m fine.”

In truth, Clockwork was far from fine. Charger had sent him a letter not too long ago, saying that she had been assigned to Valor Point until further notice. The last words in that letter were “write back soon.” The pegasus’ attention turned back to the occupants of the room. “Well, I’m awake and able to control my body to its fullest extent, and I doubt many tests could be run on this thing without me being conscious. So what do we test first?”

“Umm. . .” Wetwork began. “its endurance is without question, and there’s no way we can get the thing off, so. . . how about performance?”

Clockwork shrugged, managing to get out of his cot with a little help from the mare he was now in a relationship with. “Sounds good a plan as any.”

Clockwork stood in a large testing room, brass walls lined with lead for extra protection in case something unthinkable occurred. Two inch thick, high endurance glass, made up the only window into the unnervingly quiet room. The pegasus shifted about uncomfortably; sure, he was finally out of that extremely-difficult-to-keep-clean lab coat and back into his vest and undershirt, but familiar clothing didn’t help to calm him as he continued to fidget. Something about this room just didn’t feel right to him. He sighed as he waited for the scientist on the other side of the glass to give him the first of many orders to test out his new appendage. Sheesh, it certainly wasn't going to start acting up on its own or anything. What the hay were they so afraid of?

. . . him?

"Alright, let's start out simple," the researcher spoke over the intercom. "unfurl and a few flaps to test reaction time. Whenever you’re ready."

Clockwork nodded and unfurled his wings without a moment's hesitation. He flapped them thrice, noting the strange feeling in his left wing. It felt. . . well, normal really. However, when he had accidentally hit it a few times on his way to the testing room, the most noticeable sensation he had experienced was a numb pressure. That might come in hoofy one day.

"Okay, reaction times appear perfectly synced between both wings. You sure you can't remember how you made this thing?"

Clockwork shrugged, then shook his head "no."

"Ah well, what's lost is lost. Try a few more beats, faster this time."

"Got it." Clockwork beat his wings in rapid succession, creating a downdraft strong enough to lift him off the ground for the briefest of moments. It didn't matter though, for it produced the same exhilarating effect. The pegasus grinned from ear to ear. It may have been for just a second or two, but he had achieved lift.

"Performance seems nominal, range of motion matches up with natural limitations. Bring in the rods!"

To Clockwork's mild surprise, several panels from the wall rotated until their reverse sides were exposed to the interior of the room. On each panel, mounted on small, twin poles, was a rod of a different substance. "Mind telling me what these are made of?"

"High quality metals used by both the Supremacy and Alliance for militaristic purposes. We want to know just how sharp those primaries and secondaries are, so chop away until you hit something you can't cut."

Clockwork unfurled his left wing only and angled it perpendicular to the first rod. It felt a little odd using his wing like a blade, but he would probably get used to it by day's end. With little effort, he brought the prosthetic downward, its outermost feathers cleaving the rod perfectly in two. Every rod in the room met the same fate, and upon further inspection, Clockwork found that his wing had taken no damage whatsoever. "Like a hot knife through butter, eh?"

The scientist only nodded before pressing the intercom button once again. "Very much like one, yes. This next test will involve live fire, do you want to keep it up or take a break?"

"It depends on what you're gonna use those guns for."

"While your wing's endurance is unquestionable, the higher ups want to see just how much it can take. We'll start with .22 rimfire, and from there we'll work our way up until we reach a full on three second burst of airship turret fire. We can stop whenever you want, sound good?"

Clockwork almost felt like laughing at how ridiculous that sounded, but only nodded. Seconds later, a pair of heavily armored ponies entered the room, one carrying a large sack of weapons over his shoulder, the other carrying a disassembled turret. Before any kind of tests could take place, a thick, padded wall rose from the floor. The pegasus got the hint, put on his own eye and ear protection, and made his way to stand on the other side of the wall. He unfurled his metal wing to full breadth and gave the signal that he was ready.

It wasn't much longer before Clockwork heard, but didn't feel, the .22 rimfire hit his wing. The same results occurred for the rest of the pistol rounds, though he did feel like somepony had softly thrown a tennis ball at it when they fired the .44 magnum.

He certainly felt the shotgun and assault rifle rounds a bit more, though they didn't hurt in the slightest. Before the soldiers moved on to the turret, they stopped to inspect the wing for damage. Miraculously, they reported back the only difference being a dull spot which returned to its original gleam after a quick rub. Clockwork felt like giggling, this thing was kind of awesome.


The pegasus gulped as he heard the turret's action prime to fire. He didn't have to wonder what a stream of 7.62x39mm rounds would feel like much longer afterwards.

The bullets came in what felt like a solid stream of immense, accurate presure. Clockwork had to struggle to keep his wing still against the barrage, but still felt no pain. He theorized that if this didn't damage it, then the only thing that could would be a point-blank cannon round, and he certainly wasn't up to trying that.

Just like that, the pressure vanished and the bullet's echoes faded away. After the all-clear was given, Clockwork removed his protection and checked his wing. Much to his surprise, several of the feathers had become misaligned, and many more scuffed, but not even the tiniest dent presented itself. After a minute or so of maintenance, the prosthetic was good as new. The stallion wondered what kind of effort it would take to preen this thing, but dropped the thought when he remembered that metal didn't replace broken bits of itself and regrow. The sickly sweet aroma of knockout gas also drew away his-

Wait, knockout gas?!

Clockwork hurriedly set his goggles over his eyes and his bandanna around his muzzle. He looked behind him to find that the barrier had dropped, revealing that the two stallions were now sporting gas masks. It was only then that the engineer realized that the armor they wore wasn't to protect from ricocheting bullets, it was riot gear.

"Hey! What the Tartarus is this for?!" Clockwork screamed as he pounded away at the glass with his forehooves.

The scientist on the other side let out a long sigh while he readjusted his spectacles. "Orders from the higher ups. While that wing of yours is certainly useful, it will help little in your line of work. Guards, restrain him."

"What?!" Clockwork struggled furiously as he was immobilized by the two workhorses. Sweet Luna, were these guys wrestlers in their spare time?! The pegasus suddenly felt light-headed and stopped all struggle. His training kicked in, and he took three rapid breaths before gulping in as much air as he could. He went limp in the guards' hooves, making them drop their defense for the scant few moments Clockwork needed. With a mighty heave, the stallion unfurled his artificial wing and swung it around, removing both guards from him and the masks from their muzzles. They began to panic as their eyes started to water and began felt for their masks, and Clockwork considered taking one of them before he realized it would've been a pointless action. There was already too much gas in the air for the filtration systems to work properly. He turned his attention back to the scientist behind the glass, who was now yelling frantically for something.

The engineer began slamming his mithril prosthetic against the window with as much force as he could muster. He hit the window again, and again, and again. He wasn't going to let them take away his greatest creation, not while he still had air in his lungs. The pegasus halted for a moment when he noticed a long crack appear in the glass, then proceeded to focus his efforts on that single area. After the crack had widened, Clockwork noticed his vision darken significantly. He had to act fast or else he would be forced to return to the life of a one-winged outcast from society. Backing up as far as he could, the stallion brought his wing to bear and charged forward, simultaneously leaping towards and swinging at the glass at the last available moment.


Clockwork felt the window's resistance give away before tumbling to the floor opposite the barrier. The pegasus got to his hooves and checked to make sure he didn't have any shards of glass impaled in him before hurrying out of the room. He didn't even bother to notice the researcher from before's feeble attempts to restrain him.

The stallion continued to run, unsure of where he was going and not entirely caring. His only goal was to get away, get out, or both. Yes, he had to escape the cave system. While it seemed like a ridiculous plan, Clockwork reasoned that there was no alternative, and that he'd make it up as he went.

The pegasus deliberately slowed his pace enough not to arouse suspicion as he continued in the direction of the exit (thank Faust for directories). He brushed himself off, placed his eyewear around his forehead and muzzle-wear down around his neck; he even stopped to get a drink of water before quickening his pace. He hadn't heard the chemical hazard alarm go off yet, nor had there been any announcement that he had just taken out three allied ponies. Giving silent thanks to the royal sisters, Clockwork broke into a healthy jog, even managing to chat idly with a few familiar faces as he passed. It wouldn't be much longer before-

Clockwork reeled as he heard a shrill ring blast his eardrums. Dammit, they were on to him. He broke into a dead gallop, desperately trying to avoid running into others as he struggled to get by.

"Alert to all Research and Development personnel. A traitor pegasus is present within this facility and is in the possession of experimental weapons technology. Physical description is as follows: Male, dark cream coat with brown mane and tail with thin gray streaks, red eyes. He was last seen in A Wing, and is considered armed and dangerous. Avoid contact if possible."

Clockwork scowled at the unknown voice. Had he been there when the pegasus was almost gassed and amputated? No! The stallion cleared his mind, making one final turned and running as fast as his legs could carry him. All that was left was the elevator, and if worse came to worse, he could-


Clockwork stabbed his metal wing into the ground, causing his body to swing back around and graze the wall before he removed his appendage from the floor and turned to face his attackers. Three soldiers blocked his only route to freedom, and they were all dressed in full battle gear.

"Engineer Clockwork, you are to surrender immediately or face termination on the grounds of attacking three of your allies and attempting to escape a military facility with a top secret weapon."

Clockwork looked over his shoulder to find no soldiers blocking the opposite end of the hallway. It wouldn't have mattered though, there were probably guards swarming his position. He turned back around and faced his accusers. "Three things wrong with your claim. One, they tried to knock me unconscious so I retaliated in self defense. Two, it is not a weapon! I designed this prosthetic as a tool to help winged creatures recover from losing a significant part of themselves. Three, I can't get it off, so likely the only way to remove it is from my corpse!"

"Then so it shall be," the head guard replied as he and his comrades prepared their weapons.

"Dammit!" by instinct, Clockwork flared out his artificial wing and crouched knelt behind it, putting as much strength as he could into keeping the appendage steady. Seconds later, the barrage of lead arrived in full force. The pegasus was surprised he wasn't blown off his hooves in the first second, and completely amazed when he was still alive to hear the roar of gunfire come to an abrupt halt. He peeked out from behind his (somehow still intact) makeshift barrier to find all three soldiers preparing to reload their weapons. They weren't even going to wait until the barrels cooled off? The rifles would melt in their hooves!

Clockwork knew he had only a few good seconds at best to make his escape, and then it was probably over for him. He readied his prosthetic for a wide swing. "My turn."

The stallion bolted forwards, covering the remaining space just as the center soldier brought his rifle to bear once again. With little effort, he swatted all three ponies out of his way and into the wall. He didn't bother checking to see if they were alright, for their groans of pain signalled they were still alive. Clockwork mashed the "Up" button on the elevator for a good 5 seconds, though it never lit up a dull yellow to show that the request had been acknowledged. The engineer cursed under his breath as he looked behind him to the sound of at least a dozen pairs of frantic hoofsteps.

He turned back to the double-panelled entrance and immediately shoved his artificial wing into the tiny fissure. In a manner similar to a crowbar, Clockwork pressed his weight against the door until the security lock gave in. After that, it was just a quick scramble inside and frantic flapping of wings.

Up the pegasus went, and though the shaft had enough space to fit four ponies comfortably, the stallion couldn't help but feel seriously cramped as he continued to aerially stumble towards the surface. Maybe it was the fact that there was almost no lighting to speak of. However, this soon turned out to be a goddessend, for the bright sliver of light that came into view after a while acted as the perfect beacon for him to follow. After grabbing onto the elevator's cables and stabilizing, Clockwork repeated the same action he used to enter the shaft, only this time with the purpose to exit.

He practically fell outside into the mid-morning air, relishing in the natural sunlight and soft breeze before his attention focused on something far more life threatening.


Guards blocked his path once more, though they weren't nearly as well equipped as the previous bunch. They were the duo that guarded the only official entrance into the cave system. They weren't aiming their weapons at Clockwork just yet, though the way they stood gave the pegasus plenty of cause for concern. With a roll of his eyes and a bout of adrenaline, Clockwork ran.

The pegasus flapped his wings in a desperate attempt to achieve flight, or at the very least get a little extra speed in his step. He was a fugitive now, a rogue scientist with a fancy wing, he was-


Clockwork looked down, and sure enough, he was met with immense wind resistance. His legs felt no ground beneath them, and his wings flapped in a fruitless attempt to stabilize. Yep, he had just run off the side of the damn city. How the hay did he manage to pull that off?!

He shook his head to clear it of irrelevant thoughts. All that mattered now was that he keep himself from hitting the world below with the force necessary to convert him to mulch. He tried to stay calm, tried to remember his training. In the end though, he found both acts pointless, as it was extremely difficult to stay calm when death was imminent, and his training never covered falling out of the sky.

Dammit, Clockwork. Think!

The pegasus struggled to remember those old flight instruction videos he had watched as a colt, before he had his heart broken when he was told he might never be able to fly. Simple diagrams came back to his eyes, an annoying teacher’s voice filled his ears, taking the place of the roaring wind. His panicked grimace became a tiny smirk as he angled his wings and body appropriately. He had thirty seconds left at best before he became a puddle.

Just a little more. . .

The earth was the only thing left in Clockwork’s field of view. It was now or never, and he suddenly felt gravity take its hold on him once again as he turned his muzzle and body slightly upwards. He outspread his wings, and beat them with as much energy as he could muster.

Much to Clockwork’s surprise and sheer joy, he did not become a puddle. Rather, he was now flying just inches above the ground. He would’ve wiped the sweat from his brow out of relief, but had no time to do so, for he was too busy dodging trees or large rocks or any sort of thing that stuck up from the soil. Taking a gamble, he flared out his wings to dump his speed, and as soon as he felt his hooves touch the ground, he pushed off as hard as he could. After a few more seconds, he was truly airborne, soaring above the forest that covered the world below like a green blanket. He climbed almost straight upwards for what felt like hours, basking in the warm sunlight and the feeling of finally being able to leave the earth of his own power. After charging through a barrier of thin clouds, he let himself fall before attempting to hold his altitude.

He was clumsy, his wings were beginning to cramp up, he was winded, and he had even somehow managed to turn himself upside down a few times, but he was flying! He was actually FLYING!

“Yes!” the pegasus screamed at the top of his lungs before coming to rest on a cloud not too far off. He panted like an exhausted dog, but he didn’t care, he had finally achieved something that every pegasus believed a simple part of life, something they took for granted. To him though, it was an extraordinary feat in which the memories would never fade from his mind. He had always hoped that it would feel wonderful, but it passed that expectation immediately. Clockwork struggled to get in enough air to laugh, the view was just. . . amazing from up here!

“I can see my house from here! What about you?”

Clockwork nodded at the question, then spun around to face the voice’s owner. He must’ve been too tired to recognize it immediately, for his heart skipped a beat when he noticed Saltwater Taffy on the opposite end of the cloud, smiling at him.

The pale blue mare giggle-snorted, gazing at Canterlot for a moment before turning her attention back to Clockwork. “It’s an awesome feeling, right? The wind in your mane and feathers, the sense of freedom and all that?”

Clockwork remained silent. He knew his fun was over, of course somepony would’ve come after him. Maybe he could outfly her. . . or not, if she was inside the building when the alarm sounded.

“What’s the matter, Clocky? Tongue tied up?”

“What’re you doing here, Taffy?”

“I heard over the speakers that a traitor was in the base, and when their description matched you, I couldn’t believe it! I just had to go figure out the truth before you got hurt or something!”

Clockwork nodded, even if Taffy wasn’t the smartest pony he knew, her word was likely the most truthful. “So you didn't come to haul me off to jail by my ear?”

The mare rubbed her ears, imagining the pain for a moment and not liking it one bit. “Ouch, and no. I just wanted to talk with you for a little while!”

Clockwork sat down and finally wiped his forehead. “About what?”

“About why you chose to escape. I’m pretty sure something fishy’s about.”

“Forgive me for sounding rude, Taffy, but I don’t find anything ‘fishy’ about ‘the higher ups’ wanting to amputate my prosthetic, the device that I put my time and hard work into, just for them to modify it for their own intent. It’s wrong. It wasn’t designed as a weapon, and-”

“The signature was fake, you dummy!”


Taffy’s voice took on a disturbingly serious tone. “Just before I went after you, I checked our military records for anypony by the name of Rote Learning, the researcher in the testing room. I couldn’t find any note of him or his guard buddies at all! The ‘higher ups’ Rote referred to was princess Luna or her sister, and while it isn’t my specialty, I can tell when a signature is faked. Not just that, but I think that the three are griffon sympathizers. They must’ve sent word back to the Empire when your wing became common knowledge in R&D, and they wanted it for the griffons. I think you can fill in the rest.”

Clockwork whistled in amazement. “That’s a pretty serious accusation to make, but I won’t object. Heck, I’ll probably get up on the witness stand if you need me to. So. . .” the stallion pawed at the cloud. “what happens now? Am I under arrest or something?”

The mare laughed as she stood and made her way over to Clockwork. She held out a forehoof and helped the stallion to his hooves. “Nope! I saw you recover from your fall, and I have to say that it was awesome for your first time trying to fly! I don’t want to be a meanie, but your form was kinda bad and you looked silly when you tried to turn. Do you want lessons?”

Clockwork screamed internally for several seconds before he fully registered what his friend had just asked. He nodded, and a little while later, they were off.

Next Chapter: Trust Estimated time remaining: 8 Hours, 5 Minutes
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