Samantha Woodman held the phone to her ear and listened to it ring. It picked up on the fourth ring, and the familiar voice of her ex-husband's lab assistant said, "Savage Inventions, what can we make possible for you?"
Sam shook her head. It wasn't even dawn yet, and they were already at work. "Hi, Pete," she said. "Can you put Max on for me?"
"Oh, hi Mrs-- Miss Samantha. Sure, I'll get him. Hang on a sec."
There was a brief pause, and then her husband picked up the phone. "Samantha," he said by way of greeting. "May I assume that Stacy's present has arrived?"
Samantha paused, her suspicions confirmed. "Why don't I tell you about my morning, and you can tell me what happened?"
"Sam--" Maximilian Savage paused, then apparently reconsidered whatever protest he had been about to make. "Go ahead."
"To start with, there was this godawful shrieking right outside my window. That was what woke me up. By the time I fought my way out from under the covers, it was fading back down to nothing -- but by then I could hear Stacy, crying and screaming outside my window."
"She's fine, Max. Just upset. So I ran outside, and found her sitting on the ground beside a giant wooden crate. I tried to ask her what was wrong, and she just says that her pony flew away. Any of this sound familiar?"
"Humor me and explain."
"Well..." Max's voice turned distant as he considered. "Stacy asked for a pony for her birthday. I arranged to have it delivered last night, as a surprise."
"...And she woke up very early, and went outside and found it." Samantha took a deep breath, and reminded herself to be patient. "I got that part. How did a pony manage to fly away from my parents' ranch?"
"Jet engines, of course." Max sounded impatient, as if he thought this should be perfectly obvious. He probably did. "The wings are cybernetic, but even so it takes more than wingspan to get something size of a pony off the ground."
"Wings," repeated Samantha. She shouldn't be surprised; she'd known what Maximilian was when she divorced him. "You gave our daughter a pony with jet engines and wings."
"Impressive, isn't it?" He sounded pleased. "Actually, getting the horn to shoot rainbows was more of a challenge."
"Rainbows?" Samantha echoed dubiously.
"Don't worry. The default setting is non-destructive."
Samantha decided to ignore that. "Our daughter just finished first grade. She isn't ready for a driver's license, let alone a pilot's license. And even if she were, I am not ready to have our daughter flying around on her own."
There was a long silence.
"...Very well," Max said stiffly. "I have an earlier iteration, non-flying, that I can send in its place. And I'll dispatch... something... to make certain that the original pony does not return on her own. Will that satisfy you?"
"Yes, Max. Thank you, Max." Samantha took a deep breath. "That will do very nicely."
Then she hung up the phone, knowing full well that the day's excitement wasn't over yet.
Proceed to Iteration 2...