Growing Up Dandy

This story is a sequel to Change of Life
Dandelion is a pegasus filly, Cogs and Lavender's firstborn daughter, and a joy to them both. As a changeling though, Cogs had no experience with raising pony foals, so when a crisis arises, he often has to wing it. Sometimes the solutions are more creative than others, and sometimes the problems are unique. After all, how many fillies have a changeling parent?
This is a series of stories that are sequels to "Change of Life" and takes up after chapter 10 (Foals).

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/163295/growing-up-dandy

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4. Learning Experience

After a couple of hours of entertainment by the premier party pony of Ponyville, both Cogs and Lavender realized that they had to seriously up their game next time they threw a party back home. They did wonder where the pink pony got so much energy though. Cogs was feeling great from all the positive emotional energy that he was able to consume, and if he didn't know better, he would have sworn Pinkie Pie was doing exactly the same thing. Surely no normal earth pony could be so relentlessly tireless?

However, in the end it did not really matter. Both the foals had thoroughly enjoyed themselves, allowing the adults to do the same. Eventually all good things had to come to an end though, and Spike was the apologetic reminder of that fact.

“The balloon to Cloudsdale leaves in fifteen minutes,” Spike pointed out.

“Oh dear,” Twilight said. “I lost track of the time completely. Good thing that I can rely on my number one assistant.”

Cogs got the fillies’ attention and said, “Time to leave, girls. Go grab your backpacks.”

“Aw!” Pinkie whined. “We were just getting warmed up!”

‘If that’s just a warm-up, I don’t know if I could cope with a complete event,’ Lavender thought. “Just one more thing to do before we leave, Twilight.”

“I haven't forgotten, Lavender. We’ll do it on the way out,” Twilight reassured her.

“A visit to Cloudsdale would be mighty short for Fern and myself otherwise.”

They gathered at the doorway, and Twilight said, “Just hold Fern still while I cast the cloud-walking spell.”

With practiced ease, Twilight cast the spell on mother and daughter. “There! That’s good for four days at least. Lots longer than you plan to be there.”

“I don’t feel any different,” Lavender said.

“It's not supposed to, but I assure you that it works well. I've used it on my friends, and myself too before I got these wings,” Twilight replied with a flutter of her feathers.

Cogs said with a mischievous smile, “Don't worry, hon, you know I'd catch you anyway.”

Lavender gave him a dirty look before saying, “Thanks, Twilight. It’s really been wonderful catching up with you here, and we really must do it again soon.”

“Anytime, Lavender. I hope you have a wonderful holiday.”

Pinkie Pie grabbed a filly in each arm and gave them a huge hug. “Don’t forget to write to your Auntie Pinkie!”

“I will,” Dandelion assured her with a hint of discomfort from the overenthusiastic cuddle, “but Fern doesn't know how yet.”

“Then you can have her hoof stamp yours!”

“Okay!”

 

 

“Alright, everyone, time to make tracks,” Cogs ordered. “Spike, you were going to show us the way?”
“Yep! Follow me, and we'll be there in a jiffy.”
Twilight managed to give everybody a hug as they left, and then closed the door behind them.
“You sure have some neat friends, Twilight,” Pinkie said brightly. “Who knew changelings could have such great kids? Seeya!”
Pinkie Pie left as precipitously as she had arrived, leaving behind a slightly stunned alicorn.
“But I never told her that Cogs is a changeling,” she said with a perplexed look on her face.
* * *
It was quickly obvious where their destination was. A balloon tends to stick out, even in a town as big as Ponyville. Spike said his farewells and the family approached the balloon pilot. While the fillies looked over the balloon in excitement, Cogs set about purchasing their tickets.
“How much for two adults and two children to go to Cloudsdale?” Cogs asked.
“Pegasi don't get a discount just because they can fly part of the way,” replied the yellow-maned pink mare pilot with a cherries cutie mark.
“I'm not trying to get a discount. This is a family trip, and I intend to spend the time enjoying the flight with them. Besides, it's a long way to Cloudsdale, and after we put the foals to bed, I don't want to be too tired to enjoy time with my wife, if you know what I mean?”
“Ah, yes, right,” replied the slightly embarrassed pilot. She named the cost and Cogs handed over the bits. “You can board any time – we depart in three minutes.”
There were two other passengers, both unicorns, and they politely exchanged greetings, but otherwise kept to themselves. The scheduled time came and no late arrivals held them up. The pilot secured the door to the basket and announced, “Mares and Gentlestallions, we are about to depart. If you are not a pegasus and have not gotten a cloud-walking spell, you will not be allowed to disembark at Cloudsdale. You are reminded to not lean over the edge of the basket while in flight. Snacks may be purchased in flight. In the event of air sickness, please ask for a sick-bag and refrain from puking over the side – it annoys the ponies on the ground underneath. I hope you enjoy the flight.” She then released the mooring ropes, the balloon shot up into the air, and they started drifting in a northerly direction.
“Whee!” Dandelion said, straining to look over the side of the basket to see the scenery, much as she had done so on the train. Lavender lifted Fern onto Cogs back so that the little filly could see too.
Cogs had to admit that although he could easily fly this himself, it was so much more tranquil just floating along like this and taking the time to enjoy the view. Best of all, he could share all of it with his family.
They had been travelling for over an hour when Cogs said, “Dandy, it’s time for a flying lesson.”
Dandelion looked over the edge of the basket and gulped. “I… I've never been this high before, Daddy.”
“True, but there’s always a first time. It's also the perfect time to practice some more tricky stuff. If something goes wrong, you won't crash into the ground because I'll have plenty of time to correct you and have you flying straight again. You trust me, don’t you?”
“Of course, Daddy!” she replied with barely a tremor in her voice.
“Okay, then let's go!”
Cogs took off out of the basket. With only a slight hesitation, Dandelion jumped up and followed him. Lavender meanwhile just clenched her teeth and tried not to squeal at the sight of her daughter jumping out of a balloon that was so far above the ground. Needless to say, she had a tight grip upon Fern to prevent her from following her sibling’s example.
Cogs started Dandelion with some simple straight flying to warm up the wing muscles. Then he had her put on some speed for a few sprints. After that, he began teaching her the more serious stuff. While flight magic was a major part of their aerial ability, they were still subject to various aerodynamic forces, and the problems that come with them. Above all, young pegasi had to learn how to cope with stalling and spinning, especially in an emergency situation. An accidental collision with a bird might make a pegasus too dazed to think clearly, but well-drilled maneuvers would pull them out of a predicament out of sheer reflex. Up here, hundreds of feet from any possibility of a fatal crash, Cogs could give his daughter those vital lessons without having to worry if things went wrong, which they almost inevitably did the first time. By that time, the balloon had gained quite a lead on them, so Lavender could not see when Cogs had to catch their daughter for the second time after failing to pull out of a spin. He took them over to a nearby cloud and set her down before sitting beside her.
This was the first time that Dandelion had been high enough to sit on a real cloud. She had practiced forming small clouds out of steam from the kettle which were barely big enough to support her, but this was so much better. It helped calm her fluttering heart after that last failed attempt.
Cogs let her relax for a moment before he spoke up. “Now think, honey. What did you do wrong then?”
Dandelion tried to think over the exercise and what she might have goofed up. “Oh! Wrong angle on my left wing.”
“That's right. You tried to make the same correction as you did with the first try, but you were spinning in the other direction. Now, do you think you're ready to try again?”
“I want to get it right!” she said determinedly.
“That's my girl! Okay, when you’re ready….”
Once again they started the exercise. Cogs forced her into a spin, and Dandelion fought to correct it. This time she got it right, and she pulled out of the fall by herself.
“I did it!” she cried exultantly.
“Well done!” Cogs said with pride. “Want to practice that some more?”
“Yeah!” she replied confidently.
Cogs repeated the exercise, varying the spins that he put on her. Twice she fell towards the ground, and twice she corrected herself without him having to intervene. He noticed though that she seemed to be tiring.
“That’s enough for today. I think it’s time we rejoined with the others.”
Dandelion looked about and suddenly realized that she couldn't see the balloon at all. “Oh no! Where are they?”
Cogs grinned. “Don't worry, Dandy, your old sire knows the way. However, we need to put on some speed to catch up, so get onto my back and hang on.”
Dandelion did as she was instructed, and as soon as he could feel that she had a firm grip on him, Cogs took off like a shot in the direction of the balloon. He let himself stretch the limits of his speed, and soon Dandelion was squealing in joy, enjoying how fast they were going. Before long, the balloon hove into sight, and moments later, they landed back in the basket.
“Where have you been?” demanded Lavender. “You've been out of sight for ages!”
“Doing exactly what I said we would be doing, dear,” Cogs said as he gave her a reassuring hug. “I’m afraid you’re just going to have to trust us to behave ourselves while out of your view,” he added with a wink towards Dandelion.
Dandelion grinned and said excitedly, “I learned how to pull out of a spin, Mommy!”
“That’s good, dear. I suppose it’s best that you learn that now, even if I can’t watch out for you.”
Dandelion gave her mother a hug. “It’s alright, Mommy. Daddy catches real good!”
“I should hope so!” Lavender tried to keep sounding annoyed, but it was hard to do when her child was so obviously happy about the events of that session. She sighed, reminding herself that she had always known that there were going to be parts of her daughter’s life that she could not be directly involved with. That was the way of mixed species marriages, and theirs was about as mixed as it could get. For such an abnormal family, things were actually working out pretty well.
The rest of the journey was spent in the balloon basket, and together they watched Cloudsdale approaching. As expected, the fillies were awestruck by the sight, and Lavender had to admit that the cloud city was very impressive. The towers, columns and domes all shone in the sun’s light, and they extended over several banks of snow-white clouds as far as they could see. It was the oldest pegasus city in Equestria, so it strove to live up to its reputation for magnificence, not a little helped by the slight egotistical tendencies of the pegasi who lived there.
Right on time, thanks to the scheduled winds provided by the weather ponies, the balloon arrived at the Cloudsdale dock. The pilot threw the mooring ropes to a couple of waiting pegasi who secured the basket to the dock. They then waited slightly impatiently for the passengers to get off so that they could start unloading the goods that were the main reason for the regular flights.
Cogs and Dandelion left the basket unhesitatingly. Fern squirmed out of her mother’s grasp and followed suit. Lavender gingerly stepped out onto the dock.
Cogs grinned as he watched his wife. “Honey, the dock is solid. You aren’t even on normal clouds yet. Try stepping over here.” He pointed to Fern who was bouncing excitedly on the springy cloud, rapt in the new experience.
Despite the reassurance, Lavender still very carefully put a hoof down on the cloud. She was startled to feel the tenuous vapor resist, stopping it from sinking more than a little into it. She brought the other forehoof down, then the hind legs. The surface of the cloud supported her completely, and she sighed in relief. She stepped over to the others and said, “This feels like I’m walking on a trampoline.”
Cogs smiled and replied, “Really? I've never been on one, so I’ll have to take your word for it. So are you going to stop worrying about falling through the clouds now?”
“I’m counting on you to distract me a lot tonight,” she said slyly.
“Oh, I believe I can manage that,” he replied, his grin broadening.
Lavender looked about at the dock area a bit more, and then asked, “So what makes the dock solid? And what about the buildings? How are they held up?”
“Construction-grade clouds, of course,” Cogs replied.
“Of course,” Lavender repeated with a roll of her eyes. “Care to explain a little more in depth?”
Cogs laughed. “Sorry – standing joke among pegasi to other ponies. They are all compressed clouds reinforced by a special kind of weather magic. Any of those are capable of supporting such things as non-pegasi and structures.”
“What happens if the magic wears off?”
“It doesn't get the chance. It gets constantly reinforced by the ambient magic of pegasi. It’s made to be self-sustaining that way.”
“Does that mean that if all the pegasi left Cloudsdale, the city would suddenly fall apart?”
“Good grief, no! Even the newest construction-grade clouds would remain intact for months. Older structures have been absorbing pegasus magic for ages and would last for years. The oldest stuff could last for decades before dissipating.”
“Ahoy, ground-pounders!” came a familiar voice.
They looked towards the source of the voice, and spotted Blue Arc winging their way. Dandelion flapped up to meet him.
“Hi, Uncle Blue!” Dandelion said as she met him in a hug that was almost a crash.
“Hi Petunia!” he replied with a grin, bringing them both to a landing in front of the others. “I see you’re right on time. Welcome back to Cloudsdale, Cogs. The foreman told me to tell you that you’re late for your shift.”
Cogs smiled back at his friend. “I’ll have to see him and plead extenuating circumstances.”
“Better make it good. He’s getting a little tired of marking you absent after so many years.”
“It’d take a doozey of an excuse to account for that!”
They laughed at the thought of trying to convince his former boss that his disappearance was a perfectly reasonable thing.
Blue Arc then turned his attention to Lavender. “And what’s your first impression of our fair city?”
“Much better now that I’m sure that I’m not going to fall through it,” she replied drolly.
“You’re going to surprise a few pegasi because you don’t. Cloud-walking spells are rather rare. Or rather, unicorns who can cast such sophisticated spells are rare. Most earth ponies and unicorns have a pegasus agent for dealing with Cloudsdale.”
“Seems to me that the city is missing out on a bit of potential tourism opportunity there.”
“You may be right, but speaking of tourism, it’s time we got you to your hotel so that you can drop off your luggage and enjoy the sights for the remainder of the afternoon.”
Blue Arc helped carry their luggage to the hotel. Because it was a city built by a race who could fly everywhere, there weren't too many paths built specifically for pedestrians, and certainly no luggage carts. The group did raise a few eyebrows, as predicted, but the pegasus behind the reception desk at the hotel took them all in her stride. After all, a modern 4-star hotel had to cater for all kinds of visitors, even griffins sometimes!
After finally managing to drag the fillies away from bouncing on their cloud beds, the family took the opportunity to look around the city some more. Cogs and Blue Arc would point out various sights, and occasionally acted as air taxis with Cogs carrying his wife, and his friend carrying their youngest daughter. It was an unhurried and fascinating experience for the newcomers, and a pleasure for the two stallions to share it with them.
Stomachs that had only been mollified by in-flight snacks soon demanded attention though, and Blue Arc led them to a family restaurant.
“My treat,” Blue Arc said. “You've fed me often enough on my visits, so it’s my turn for once.”
The fillies had never experienced a big city restaurant quite like this before, and it wasn't easy keeping their excitement restrained. When the food finally arrived, it was much to the relief of the adults. Full bellies helped slow down the sisters though, and their tiredness started to show. Cogs and Lavender took that as their cue to head back to the hotel. They said their goodnights to Blue Arc, and not long later, they were tucking their children into bed.
With their parental responsibilities completed, Cogs and Lavender at last took some time for themselves. Cogs took a bottle of sparkling wine out onto the balcony, while Lavender brought along a couple of glasses. They made themselves comfortable on the seat there, and Cogs poured some of the wine into their glasses. They snuggled up together and sipped their drinks while watching the moon rise over the city. The soft moonlight gave the scene a magical feel of its own, and set the mood perfectly.
“Happy anniversary, dear,” Cogs said, and gave her a kiss.
Lavender returned it with feeling, and then said, “Thank you for everything, darling. This was a brilliant idea. You've made us all very happy today, and when our children are happy, and I’m happy, then you’re doing everything right. I’m proud to be your wife.”
“And I’m proud, delighted and privileged that you have taken this odd changeling as your husband. I never knew how good life could be until you became part of it. I love and adore you, Lavender Dreams.”
Then their drinks were forgotten as they lost themselves in a fervent embrace and a long sensuous kiss.
When they finally parted, they were quiet for a while, just sipping their drinks, admiring the view, and simply enjoying the special moment. Eventually Lavender broke the silence.
“This puts me in the mood for another foal. You know that I’d still like to try to have a colt.”
“Haven’t two fillies been enough of a handful for you?” Cogs asked with a knowing smile.
“Call me a glutton for punishment, but I still want that foal.”
“Well, Silver Heartbreaker is out since the Morningbell twins snared him a few months ago.”
“I know, but I have an even better replacement for him in mind already.”
“Oh? Who would that be?”
“He’s already almost part of the family,” Lavender hinted.
It took Cogs only a brief moment to connect the dots. “You mean Blue Arc?” he asked with surprise.
“Why not? The girls already call him Uncle Blue, he’s a very acceptable stud, and he’s not in any relationship.”
“Yeah, but that would mean that I’d have to make out with my best friend!”
“Surely that’s got to be better than doing it with a near stranger like Silver?”
“Well, yeah, but it’s just so… weird,” Cogs protested lamely.
“Take the time to think about it, darling; you’ll get used to the idea. However, there’s no rush right now. This time is just for the two of us, and honey, I’m horny.”
The half full bottle of wine was completely forgotten after that. Cogs reflected later that his words to the balloon pilot had been very prophetic – he really had needed to save up his energy for that night!
* * *
Although Lavender and Cogs would have preferred sleeping in the next morning, of course their children had other ideas. Dandelion and Fern both woke early and wanted breakfast, and they barely tolerated their parents taking the time to brush their manes and make themselves presentable for the day. A breakfast of oatmeal, apple-cinnamon waffles, and orange juice served to fuel them all up for another big day of touring the cloud city.
A few pamphlets from the hotel foyer helped decide the morning activities. Cogs had to admit that even he did not know all the interesting sights to see in his former home town, but it meant that he was able to enjoy some novel experiences along with the rest of the family. They visited a historical museum that documented Cloudsdale from its inception, took in some pegasus races that were qualifying events for the next Equestria Games, and admired the unique cloud gardens. However, there was one sight that Dandelion in particular was eager to see, and that was the weather factory.
Blue Arc had promised to arrange a tour of the facilities. Due to disruptions caused by previous tours, these were more strictly controlled nowadays, and children especially were restricted from certain areas. However, there were other areas that were always a popular place to visit, such as the rainbow pools. The fillies were delighted by the colorful displays, and Dandelion asked if ponies were allowed to bathe in them.
“No, but you can taste them if you’d like,” Blue Arc replied with a mischievous smile.
Lavender frowned in suspicion. “What are you up to, Arc?”
Cogs said, “Don’t worry, dear – it’s harmless.”
Dandelion barely hesitated before leaning over one pool and lapping up some of the rainbow content. Suddenly her eyes bulged, her face started changing colors, and she breathed fire. “Hot! Hot! HOT!” she cried.
Blue Arc handed her a bottle of water that he had brought along just for the occasion, and Dandelion started gulping down the contents.
“I thought you said that it was harmless?” Lavender said with an accusing glare at Cogs.
Cogs gave her an apologetic grin. “It really is, but the effects are spectacular. It’s a practical joke that gets played on all the ponies coming through on tours, but it also provides a harmless lesson on what not to try in future.”
Just then, Fern decided that she wanted to see if she could change colors also, and took a sip of the rainbow too, with predictable results.
“Or maybe not,” Cogs had to admit as Lavender gave him an ‘I told you so’ look while comforting Fern.
Fortunately the effects of the rainbow tasting wore off quickly, and their tour continued. They saw the rain reservoir, the snowflake design workshop, the weather planning office which sent out the schedules to all the local weather management teams across Equestria, and watched some trainee weather ponies learning their trade.
“Where do you work, Uncle Blue?” Dandelion asked.
Blue Arc smiled at the filly. “I've saved that for last. I work in the power generation facility, same as your dad used to do. I’ve told you that I’m a lightning specialist, and that means I get to wrangle the thunderclouds that are used to produce the lightning that we use to heat the boilers and create the steam power that the entire weather factory runs on. However, because it’s also a rather dangerous environment, children aren't allowed to tour it.”
Dandelion and Fern looked very disappointed.
“However, you’re in luck today because one of the units is shut down at the moment for maintenance and refurbishment, and if you promise to be careful, I have permission to show you around that one today.”
“Yay! We promise, Uncle Blue,” Dandelion said enthusiastically, while Fern nodded her head vigorously in silent agreement.
Blue Arc led the way, while Cogs brought up the rear to keep an eye on everyone. As they entered the complex, he started a running commentary.
“On your left are the boilers that produce the steam. Despite the fact that they have been shut down for two days, their sheer size means that they are still warm. Once restarted, it will take a few hours to get them back up to full operational level. To heat the boilers, we use lightning power, and that is channeled there by these cables that you see above of us. That large drum of cable ahead of us is meant for the new boiler that they have just installed, and while it’s already connected at the boiler end, the cable won’t be connected to the lightning supply until it’s 100% ready for safety reasons.”
Cogs interjected, “If I was still working here, I’d be one of those ponies installing that new boiler.”
Blue Arc nodded. “Actually Cogs is being a bit modest. He would have been in charge of the team because he was lead mechanic, but that job belongs to Mighty Lever now.”
“Mighty Lever? How in Tartarus did he get the job?” Cogs sputtered in outrage. “I was always having to fix his oversights and mistakes.”
“What can I say? He had seniority,” Blue Arc explained with an apologetic shrug.
Cogs fumed silently, and Lavender patted him on the back consolingly, realizing how much his professional pride was bruised by that revelation.
“Anyway, to continue – the cables go through the power control board on your right to manage the output of the thunderclouds. And that brings us to my favorite part – the power source and my primary job – the thunderclouds. We’re coming up to the insulated thundercloud storage silo for this unit. Through the observation window, you can see that it contains highly charged thunderclouds. It’s completely full at the moment because the boilers aren’t in use, but normally it would be my job to round up new thunderclouds and top up the silos as the others get depleted. It takes a skilled weather pony to handle thunderclouds, because otherwise they might get zapped by the lightning that they’re trying to control.”
The fillies oohed and aahed appropriately, and it was clear that Blue Arc was lapping up the adulation. It caused him to be distracted at a critical moment though.
Dandelion noticed a nearby access hatch to the silo was ajar, and she went over to have a look. Without the insulating properties of the wall and window, her weather sense could now feel the pent-up power of the clouds. She flapped up into the air to get a better look and reached out with her weather magic in the way Blue Arc had taught her.
Just then, Blue Arc noticed what she was up to, and yelled out, “Dandy! Stop!”
The distraction was enough for Dandelion to mishandle her effort, and suddenly a surge of lightning streamers passed through the partially open hatch and struck her on her left side. Her eyes lit up with a glow of power as she started a high-pitched squeal, and then a large bolt of lightning exited her right hind hoof, grounding itself on the nearby drum of coiled cable. As the electricity continued to flow, Cogs launched himself frantically towards her, only to be smashed aside by Blue Arc, who then threw himself into the path of the incoming arcs. Straining his lightning management abilities to the limit, he managed to halt the flow of power. The glow died in Dandelion’s eyes, and she fluttered helplessly to the floor.

 

 

Cogs caught Dandelion before she hit, and laid her down carefully. He looked her over worriedly, but she was still breathing, and he couldn't see any damage to her, not even a singed feather.

Blue Arc landed next to them, looking a little worse for wear. “What were you thinking, Cogs? You could have been killed trying to rescue Dandelion. You’re absolutely useless when it comes to weather magic!”

“My daughter was in peril, Arc – I’d gladly die to save her!” Cogs snapped back.

Duly chastened, Blue Arc asked, “How is she anyway?”

Cogs did not have a chance to answer before Lavender galloped up to grab their daughter in her forelegs and start weeping and wailing in distress.

“Ow! Mommy, will you quit that, please?” complained Dandelion.

“Oh! How are you, Dandelion? Where does it hurt?” the hugely relieved mare asked.

“Where your hoof is digging into my side,” Dandelion answered. “I'm fine; just a little dizzy is all.”

Blue Arc was flabbergasted. “Dandelion actually managed to channel that power by herself? She must have an amazing weather talent! Are you sure she's your daughter, Cogs?”

“Very funny, Arc,” Cogs said without much fervor. He was just too relieved that his daughter was uninjured.

Just then there was a clatter of metal striking the floor. They looked over to see the drum of cable with several steel objects such as tools and a bucket lying on or near it.

“What happened there?” Lavender asked.

Blue Arc explained, “When electricity passes through cable, it produces magnetism. That coiled cable with that huge lightning surge must have turned that drum into a strong electromagnet briefly to attract all those nearby objects.”

Dandelion got back onto her hooves, saying, “Well I’m not going to do that again in a hurry.”

Her surprised mother pointed at her flank and said, “I’m not so sure about that.”

“Huh? Why?” Dandelion asked, looking at where Lavender was pointing. Her eyes opened wide as she suddenly realized that she was staring at a brand new cutie mark adorning her creamy yellow fur. It consisted of a red bar with a coil around it and lightning going into and out of the ends.

“Looks like electromagnetism is your special talent, Dandy,” Blue Arc said with a grin.

“Ooh! Does that mean I’m going to be doing your job when I grow up?” Dandelion said excitedly.

Blue Arc laughed. “Maybe. Maybe something completely different. A special talent doesn't define your career, but it could be of big help. Exactly how is up to you to discover.”

Just then they were interrupted by a shout from an approaching pegasus. “Hey! What in Tartarus are you doing here? Are you trying to get us killed with that uncontrolled lightning?”

Cogs scowled at him. “One – the lightning was controlled, apparently. Two – there would not have been any lightning if someone had not left that hatch open. Now who do you think is responsible for that, Mighty Lever?”

“Back off, Whirring Cogs. You’re not lead mechanic here any more,” Mighty Lever replied.

Blue Arc said, “No, you are, and that means you’re responsible for safe working procedures here, and as head lightning wrangler, I want to know why that hatch was not secured.”

“It’s not my job to look after the storage silo.”

“While this facility is being refurbished, everything in it is your responsibility, and if you don’t agree, we’ll just let the factory manager decide. Come on, folks – this tour is almost over. We have just one more stop to make.”

They left the fuming Mighty Lever behind, and the next stop they made was at the weather factory’s offices. There Blue Arc lodged a formal incident report and also a formal complaint against the negligent lead mechanic. The mood was lightened a lot though when Cogs bumped into his former boss, and he jokingly apologized for being a little late for work. The boss had played along and warned him that it would not look good on his next assessment if he was late again. After he was introduced to Lavender and their children, he congratulated Cogs, and they parted on the best of terms.

By the time that they were done at the weather factory, the day was nearing an end. Instead of a restaurant though, Blue Arc had invited the family to his home for dinner. It was only home-delivered food, but the family atmosphere was a lot more enjoyable than the restaurant had been, and they stayed until very late. Lavender and Cogs each carried a very sleepy filly back to their hotel room that evening.

* * *

The family vacation was coming to an end, and the next day saw them all back at the dock for the morning flight to Ponyville. Dandelion showed off her cutie mark to the pilot who congratulated her. Another flying lesson was done, but this one culminated in Cogs and Dandelion flying into Ponyville just a few minutes ahead of the balloon. There was very little time between the arrival of the balloon and the scheduled departure of the train to Whitetail Meadows, but Cogs knew that Twilight would be cross with him if he did not give her a report on the latest development, so he took advantage of those extra minutes to drop around to the library with Dandelion, and let his daughter tell the story herself. Twilight promised to spend extra time with Dandelion on her next visit so that they could explore her talent a bit further. Then they had to rush off, but not without a hug from the alicorn for her honorary niece.

The fillies spent most of the train journey leaning on the window sill once more, except that they were looking at the view on the other side of the tracks this time. Cogs and Lavender were content to hold hooves while watching both their daughters and the scenery. Sometimes the best moments were the ones spent just enjoying each other’s company without having to exchange words. Well, almost without words.

Lavender leaned over to whisper in Cogs’ ear. “Don't think that I've forgotten about wanting a colt.”

Cogs sighed and wondered how he was going to be able to get out of that.

Author's Note:

It's a little ironic that Lavender, the somewhat protective parent, should feature just a couple of days after the "Somepony To Watch Over Me" episode aired. At least she's nowhere near as over the top as Applejack got!

Anyway, I have finally gotten Dandelion's cutie mark episode done. I initially had problems getting around to this episode because I hadn't yet decided exactly what her special talent would be, let alone her cutie mark. I wanted something that was applicable to her mechanical inclinations, yet still something a pegasus would be good at doing. Electromagnetism seemed the best solution.

Awesome illustrations as usual by Foxenawolf.

   
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