Luna opened the ornate doors to Celestia’s room. She looked around the room to gather her surroundings. In the center stood a velvet bed with plushy pillows and blankets suffocating the mattress. A hearth for the fire lied on left side of the room, empty of any flames at the moment. Bookcases lined the walls from top the bottom. They were filled with encyclopedias, scrolls, and tomes of all kinds.
She checked them for the one case that her sister kept the games. She found the source of her objective and pulled a green box with the Haylo Reach title on in. The examined the outside, intrigued about the detailed mini portrait of 5 ponies (or what she assumed to be ponies) on the front. They seemed to be walking away from the lands behind them.
She couldn’t see what it looked like, so she focused her attention on the characters themselves. The center was obviously the leader. He was in front of all the other ponies and had the dignified look of a captain. All of the others were looking around, wary of any signs of danger that could threaten their security. They were clearly soldiers; the way they were heavily armored pointed all clues towards that conclusion. The only mystery about the picture was the objects in their hooves.
She couldn’t put her hoof on it, but she felt like she’d seen them before. Especially the smaller one of the items in the cyan armored pony’s hoof. After several moments of memory searching, she remembered a long time ago before her banishment of the utility gryphons used as weapons. “Flint-locks” they called it. Hand-held cannons meant for anybody with fingers, with the capabilities of eliminating a Manticore with only a couple shots.
Her sister clearly saw them as a threat, and immediately set a rule to have all of the Royal Guards to have an active projectile shield around them. Either the protection would have to be provided by themselves or by another unicorn. After many tense years between Equestria and the gryphon nation Gryphoian, the gryphons agreed to stop the production of weapons.
Luna assumed that ponies today have learned about this. What she couldn’t put her hoof on is how these weapon’s designs came to be. She made a note to herself to ask Celestia if flint-locks were being made again. Despite the fact that they were extremely dangerous, they are certainly more powerful than the standard swords and spears the guards still use today.
She pushed the thoughts out of her head. She was here to have fun, not to focus on the well being of the nation’s security. She opened the box and took out a discus. It was very thin, and had a hole in the middle. Luna couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that a game could be contained in such a small thing, but she didn’t want question her sister’s knowledge of video gaming.
She looked around the plasma television her sister kept in one corner of the room. Tia told her that she kept a certain black box which is needed to play the game. After a minute of searching, she found the box and dragged it out to get a better look. It was sleek, black, and had grills on its sides. A shiny, concave circle was on the front part of the box and a bundle of cables stuck out from the back.
She pressed the shiny circle to turn on the device, and like her sister told her, the box hummed with magical energy. Luna could also sense electricity circulating through the box as well. Celestia told her that a combination of magic and science had created this wondrous tech: the XBUCK-360. She turned on the TV as well to see how the screen had changed. She was greeted by a large number of options and menus. The screen was literally filled with them.
‘This must be the Dashboard Celestia was talking about,’ Luna thought.
Luna didn’t stop there however. She snooped around the cabinet that once held the XBUCK, and brought out two other devices. One was a white, boomerang-shaped object. The sleek surface was smooth to the touch, and it had all sorts of buttons on it, including two padded sticks. Celestia told her it was called the Controller and that it was mainly used to navigate through everything in every game. However, that was not the tool she was going to use today, for there was the second object. The Interactive Pony Visor, a sleek white headset, was held in her right hoof. The visor’s eyepiece was singular, and its tint was a shade of orange. It was large enough to completely cover both eyes of a pony. The temples of the visor connected with each other, forming a complete circle. An antenna stuck out from the top rim on the visor, and an insignia of Celestia’s cutie mark could be seen on the bridge of the visor.
She tried to fit the visors over her eyes, but had some trouble with her horn. It blocked the bridge of the visor, impeding its way. After fumbling around with the visor, she found a switch that allowed her to separate the two temples. After placing the visor over her eyes and reconnecting the temples, she felt around for some sort of ON button. After feeling around the right side of the visor, she felt a bump. She pressed it and immediately a bright light was forming in front of her, or rather in front of her eyes. She blinked as the radiance temporarily blinded her.
When she opened her eyes, her lungs were filled with air as she gasped in awe. She found herself floating in a massive, gradient green space. Surrounding her were wall-to-wall panels, each of them displaying an option for her to choose. What she was impressed with wasn’t the world around her. She’d been to the pockets of space between Tatarus prison islands and the mysterious white gap beneath Canterlot Castle. What surprised her was the fact that ponykind was able to simulate a virtual world similar to an ether dimension. As she looked around, she caught sight of another pony within the virtual space. Curious enough, the pony reminded her of somepony else. As she drifted towards the being, she noticed how the pony looked like her sister. The unicorn mare cheerfully giggled a little and poked Luna’s snout. Her mane was a hue of multiple colors, and her coat was the same blend as a flurry of snow. As Luna tried to touch the mare’s mane, the avatar itself flew away, giggling away as it weaved its way through the forest of panels.
“This place is weird,” Luna concluded.
But it was all very interesting to her. She decided to explore around for a bit before finding a panel option to start the game. Using her wings to propel across the green neo-space, she came across a multitude of panels with icons of shopping bags and various items. A big, white logo stood on top of stacks of boards, displaying the words: ‘XBUCK Live Marketplace’. Luna poked around and chose the shopping bag. Immediately, the panel glowed and a white ball expanded from it. Luna backed off as the ball took shape of a large silver orb. A green X was emblazed on the orb, mimicking the XBUCK-360 symbol. The orb continued to glow as it fired off numerous panels from its depths. A string of neon light connected each option to the orb itself. Luna looked around and saw that every other option available before had disappeared. Suddenly, Luna was worried that she might never find her way out of here. As she contemplated her situation, another panel bumped into her. She looked at it irritatingly, but immediately switched to curiosity. The panel had an open doorway with a pony walking through it as an icon. Above it were the words ‘Exit’. That’s one crisis solved for now.
Luna’s mind wandered as she thought what happened to that mare she met earlier. As she turned around, the night princess yelped as the said mare appeared in front of her. The mare giggled a little and hoof bumped Luna’s nose again. She then gestured to Luna’s hooves, and then pointed to her own nose. Luna didn’t know what the mare was trying to do, but the motion was simple enough. Luna prodded the mare’s nose and a bunch of panels popped up behind the unicorn. The mare performed a happy flip in the air. She seemed pleased. As the little pony flew around Luna, the princess peered at the options the mare seemingly gave. A profile of Celestia was displayed to her. A picture of Tia, her short biography, her likes and dislikes of all sorts, a basic stack of information of the mare, anything that wasn’t confidential about her sister could be found here. Suddenly, the mysterious mare made sense to her. The mare was Celestia herself! Or at the very least, was a small, artificial extension of the sun goddess. The mare certainly did act childish like Tia was back when the two goddesses were both very little fillies. Luna looked at the profile again, and saw a display of a name.
Luna suspected that Celestia went by this persona to avoid unnecessary and awkward conversations with other ponies. It was also certainly a fitting name for Celestia. She looked at the avatar of Celestia again. She was looking very expectantly at her.
“Sunny Skies, is that your name?” Luna asked.
The mare blissfully nodded and did another happy flip. Luna gave a grin of her own as Sunny Skies dancing in the space around her. She wondered if she could have an avatar of her own like Sunny Skies. She doubted that. Luna admitted to herself that she wasn’t exactly the most gleeful of most ponies. Her avatar would certainly be more serious than her sister’s, and definitely the color of blue. Sunny Skies flew around the space and grabbed a few more panels. The gleeful unicorn brought back them back. They were the gateways to the other realms of the Dashboard, all for the Moon Princess to take her pick. She was tempted to discover some more, but she waited long enough. She chose the option to play a game. The world around her dimmed until Luna could see through the visor again. It was like looking at two worlds phasing through each other.
After fumbling around a bit, she grabbed a hold onto Haylo Reach and popped the disc into the now open tray. She closed the tray and waited as the Dashboard world materialized around her again. The panel that allowed her to open the tray changed appearance, and the team of soldiers popped up again as its cover. Sunny Skies tapped the panel, barely containing her enthusiasm. Luna smiled with and tapped the panel along with her. As soon as her hoof made contact, the space of the Dashboard slowly faded around her into darkness.