Twilight Sparkle plopped down in her bed after stuffing the last book back on its shelf, leaning back into her delightfully comfortable pillow and looking out the window into the night. The curtains billowed softly in the wind, sliding into a smooth pattern that could carry itself for hours of simply drifting in a gentle breeze. As she stared outside, her eyes lost the weariness of study and slowly brightened up into a deep appreciation for the night sky. The art of the stars dancing across the indigo canvas didn’t reach most ponies, yet the spotty few still found it in themselves to climb out of what would have been a good night’s sleep and to walk out into a grassy field or onto the roof of their building, depending on where in Equestria they lived. Twilight now found herself in such a position, lightly moving through her home so as to not disturb Spike as he slept, a contented smile on his face.
The library carried a stiff darkness now that the candles sat extinguished, and Twilight had to conjure an ever so soft light to keep her from tripping over the various objects and furniture. Even so, she still bumped into a rather rickety table, nearly causing it to fall over. She held her breath for a few seconds, keeping complete stillness and silence until soft snoring assured her of maintained stealth. Twilight continued onward to the door, her movements becoming less and less quiet as she moved to exit the library.
With a gentle click, the door slipped shut. Breathing a sigh of relief, Twilight began to trot in the general direction of Ponyville Hill, where she had previously staged an area for viewing the recent meteor shower. Her trip brought back sweet memories of that night—excited chatter about the shower itself along with some rather aggressive note-taking on her part. I still don’t know how I found the time to fill two scrolls with notes, much less one. She grinned as she recalled that she had left all of her supplies behind, taking a small delight in the fact that this trip served no real educational purpose. Even the very studious need a bit of time off from learning.
As she neared the crest of the hill, Twilight looked up and into the gloriously bright night. The stars, distant as they were, still shed their own motes of light on the world, the twinkling pinpricks in the sky smiling their eternal vigilance over their own little portion of night. However, the milky swirls of stars blanketing her view paled in comparison to the moon. It stood, pure and white, as a sentinel over any who fell under its calculating rays. Behind Twilight, the moonbeams cast shifting, benevolent shadows that danced out emotions that the body could not with movements usually impossible for a pony to achieve.
While she gazed up into the stars, Twilight slowly slipped away, letting her body slide down into a state where she could bleed away the stress of life and allow herself to relax beyond the ordinary. Her mind filled with images and daydreams, spinning themselves together in a glorious theatre that only Twilight would ever witness. Blankets of stars draped themselves around ponies in strange suits, and Twilight herself reached out into an ocean of night, somehow scooping up a hoofful of stars and blowing them out and into the sky, the lights sticking where they saw fit. She could see a very young Luna, soaring through the sky and merrily spinning and mixing the stars about until they slowly waltzed into a standstill, ever-twinkling sentries of light in a sea of darkness.
Suddenly, a hoof on her shoulder pulled her out of the delightful experience and back to the real world. Twilight turned her head and gave a start when she met the magenta eyes of Rainbow Dash. “You okay, Twi? You looked like you were sleeping, and it’s a bit chilly out tonight. Don’t want you getting sick or anything.”
She blinked a few times before running a hoof over her coat, realizing that it had begun to gather a bit of moisture. With a slight shudder, she looked up wistfully. “Yeah, I guess I got a bit carried away. I just came out to stargaze a bit, and I guess I was a bit more tired than I thought.” As if to prove her point, she yawned openly. “But what were you doing out here, Rainbow Dash? I’m glad you’re here and all, but I would think you’d be sleeping by now.”
The pegasus looked off to the side and quickly ran a hoof through her her mane. “Well, you see, I...” When she looked back toward Twilight’s warm eyes, she lost all desire to lie. What’s the harm in one pony knowing? “If you’d believe me, the same thing you basically fell asleep doing. Looking up at that sky.” Rainbow gestured with her hoof. “It’s a great view, and it really reminds me of what I’m aiming for.” She smiled, not the usual determined smile she carried, nor the prideful and confident one she held at other times. It seemed almost hopeful and pure, not tainted by her needs or past.
As Twilight looked at that smile, she saw a completely different side of Rainbow Dash—a part of her filled with dreams and goals, a part that reached out for what nopony else had achieved—and understood the words before Rainbow spoke them. “It’s my dream, you know. I want to reach out there into that big ocean of stars and go places nopony has seen before. I want to be the first normal pony to land on the moon and I want to go even farther than that. Flying farther than the rest and finding what might be out there.” She chuckled and looked back toward the sky. “Now that I actually say it out loud, Twilight, it sounds so silly. I mean, seriously! Going into space! I can barely impress the Wonderbolts, much less go out where there’s no air to fly in.”
Twilight noticed the rainbow-maned head turn down just a little bit and point away from her desire. She watched, stock still, as slow hoofbeats marked a turn from dreams and the dejected path of habit. Just before Rainbow flew away, Twilight jumped forward and put her hoof on the pegasus’ shoulder, turning her back toward the sky. “Listen to me, Rainbow Dash. Just because your dreams seem impossible now doesn’t mean that you should accept that. We can make the impossible possible. I think that all of what us and our friends have done is a testament to that. Right here, right now, I promise that you will stand on that moon and plant Equestria’s flag there.” She sat back on her rump, making the motions with her hooves as she said the words. “Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my e—Ow!” Twilight rubbed her eye, hoping that the repeated failed attempts at making a Pinkie Promise wouldn’t cause her to go blind eventually.
After a while, the pair started laughing. “You know, Twilight, you’re right. If you’re the one saying it can happen, then I bet that your egghead brain will find a way to do it somehow. Now, how about I walk you home so you can get some sleep? I’m sure you studied all night before this.” Rainbow Dash held out a wing and set it on Twilight’s back, gently urging her forward. With a sheepish smile, the bookish unicorn obliged and began an easy, steady pace back to the library.
Twenty years later, Twilight Sparkle sat in a large room, surrounded by dozens of whirring machines and a number of unicorns to match scurrying this way and that. Papers came off in rolls weighing anything up to about a dinner plate’s worth of material and various ponies sat at small stations, carefully tapping numbers into a rather large network. As checks started here and there, Twilight steadily fueled the machines’ generator with her magic. A single, bright monitor stood at the front of the room, displaying numerous equations and diagrams depicting one of the most dangerous processes discussed in an Equestrian lab to date. Even so, years of work and preparation culminated that day, and Twilight gave a determined smile as a signal crackled in on the magical relay. Celestia’s voice came through clear.
“So, Twilight, I take it that everything is going well and to plan?”
Even though the Princess couldn’t see her, she nodded. “It most certainly is, Princess. Everything needs just a little bit more checking up and then we’ll be green.” Twilight started to bounce up and down, nearly unable to contain her giddy excitement. “I still can’t believe it’s really happening! I mean, she’s actually going to do it! Isn’t that exciting?”
“Of course it is, Twilight. Luna is so joyful that I think she’s decided to pay you a visit herself. I really do hope you’re ready for her. You know how she can be.”
With that, the other line clicked off and Twilight shut her own off. Luna? Here? Oh my, I don’t think my staff could handle her. After ensuring that the machines had enough power to run for at least a good hour, Twilight rushed up toward the entry level of the building, hoping to spot the Princess of the Night before she could do any psychological damage to the staff with how overbearing she could be.
Luckily, Twilight caught Luna just as she entered the building. Not a moment too soon...
As she turned her head, she spotted Twilight and rushed over toward her. “Twilight Sparkle! Oh, how delighted I am to see you! And how amazing this little project of yours is! I had hoped to do something like this myself sometime not too long ago, but I merely couldn’t find ponies that would do it because they wanted to and not because it was me asking. I also would have helped you in your endeavor, if I didn’t have duties and you weren’t so adamant about me keeping them.” Twilight chuckled as Luna took in the area around her eagerly, glancing this way and that as a filly might in a candy shop. She had certainly improved since her first venture back into society, and spoke somewhat normally. Even so, that slightly overbearing aspect remained, endearing her to Twilight as she led the Princess down into the control room.
It took every last ounce of Twilight’s will to keep Luna from inspecting every machine and asking every staff member about his or her work. Somehow, Twilight convinced Luna to go with her to the operator’s platform as she explained the inner workings of her thoroughly maintained machine. “So, it all starts here. I manually charge the generators that run these machines with my magic, and then the machines do calculations on the data we feed them—most of the time it’s going back and rechecking the work we’ve done before to ensure that everything we beam to the module is as accurate and precise as possible. In our testing chamber, which is over in that direction,” Twilight pointed at a door off to the side, “we are currently running Rainbow Dash through a few scenarios, just in case something bad should happen. We want her back safely, so it doesn’t hurt to be over-prepared. Other than that, the rest of the building deals with infrastructure and development, in one way or another.”
Just then, multiple yellow lights on the wall began turning green at a steady pace. When Luna pointed this out to Twilight, she nearly began to bounce with excitement. “Oh, we’re almost ready! Just a bit more and Rainbow will be off!”
With that, Twilight magically retracted the main view screen to reveal an amazing view of a launch pad, complete with crew, fueling up a pony-sized capsule and charging it with magic. They scurried this way and that, making small adjustments here and there while the dock inspector looked over the machinery. He gave a genuine smile and turned to Twilight, giving a single hoof pump. She beamed brightly and turned to the Princess. “Are you ready for this?”
Luna nearly vibrated in place. “I’ve been ready for ages, Twilight! I can’t believe it’s finally happening!”
Twilight giggled at her heavily eager demeanor. “I guess that settles it then!” She used her magic to pull up a small microphone from the platform and connected it to a small board next to her, giving off a crackle of static as it did so. She cleared her throat and phased into a calmly soothing voice. “Mares and gentlecolts, thank you for all of your patience. We have just received word that everything checks out and we will begin the launch. Please leave the launch area and retreat to a safe distance. If you’re joining us in the field, thank you for coming out today! I hope you’re taking notes, because this is history in the making!” Right as she finished her announcement, Rainbow Dash exited the testing chamber and walked up to the platform. Upon seeing the Princess, she bowed deeply.
“Princess Luna, I had no idea you were coming. It’s an honor.”
She stood and walked over to Rainbow, picking her up and embracing her. “Really, the honor is mine. After all, you’re the one that’s launching. I just came for the experience. And to be honest, Twilight didn’t know I was coming either.” She chuckled lightly at the thought, and Rainbow shared in the moment of normalcy.
Then, she turned to Twilight. “I don’t even know what to say. I never even thought this would be possible. But you, you made this happen.” Twilight blushed a little as she got caught in a strong hug. “I don’t think I could repay you for this.”
Twilight sighed softly, considering how long she had worked so that this could happen. “You can’t, but nopony other than you has the drive to do this. So go out there and make Equestria proud!” With that, Rainbow backed off and smiled, the last bit of uncertainty in her eyes vanishing. She took to the stairs, slowly descending toward the prep room. Twilight gazed after her as she went, recalling that night so long ago when she first promised to get Rainbow Dash to the moon. Luna hoofed her an Equestrian flag.
Rainbow Dash finished donning her space suit and had the helmet in her hooves when Twilight rushed in the door behind her. She turned around, noting the flag in her mouth and the slight pant. Rainbow smiled, taking the flag and setting it beside her. With no words, Twilight stepped back out and ascended the stairs back to where the Princess watched the pad eagerly.
A mare, clad in a suit sealed against the threatening vacuum of space, strapped a capsule nearly as large as she onto her back. Launch control gave her a green light, and she tapped the small ignition button on the side of the shell. Readying herself and pointing to the sky, the rocket propelled her forward, carrying her at dizzying speeds higher and higher into the clear sky.
Rainbow Dash sweated inside the tight suit. She had broken the sound barrier not too long ago, and the heat from the rocket hadn’t yet been matched by the cool of the outside. Fancying a glance down, she could see the whole of Equestria splayed out under her. Cities became small areas on the ground, and anything much smaller became tiny grains, undetectable and unrecognizable. The Everfree Forest cut a swath of dark, brooding green into the area, and Cloudsdale stood out as an overtly large cloud. Then, she remembered the advice Twilight had given to her yesterday.
“Okay, so you’re probably going to launch tomorrow. Everything is basically complete, and we just need to finish up the capsule and make sure all of the numbers are right. Now, I know for a fact you’re going to look down when you’re way up in the sky. It’ll be an amazing view, I’m sure.” Twilight pointed Rainbow Dash’s head toward her. “No matter what happens, though, don’t forget to look up. That’s where your dream is. Keep your head up, and stay on target. We wouldn’t want you to miss, after all.”
The view of space Rainbow had now nearly stopped her heart in sheer greatness. The moon loomed ahead, larger than life, and the stars behind it shone solidly, no longer twinkling like dreams about to leave you. These were real and firm, with no chance of change anytime soon. When she gazed off to her left, a very bright star caught her eye, almost as if an immense galactic poker had burned a new hole in the night.
After a long time spent shooting through space at very high speeds, Rainbow noticed the moon almost fill her vision. Noting this, she angled her booster and fired short bursts just as she had in training, leveling herself and turning to the point where the moon lay behind her. Then, she started pulsing thrust behind her, slowing her descent more and more to the point where the moon lay a few hundred lengths below and her descent had become a rather slow fall. When her hooves alighted on the surface, tears filled Rainbow Dash’s eyes. She looked at the flag she had stored in the capsule’s side compartment, seeing a small note taped to the back, addressed to her from Twilight. After reading it, she gave all of her might and stuck the flag into the moon’s surface, marking forever her journey into the impossible. Just before she readied for takeoff, Rainbow noticed a rock about the size of an apple. She picked it up and stowed it before looking at the ball that was her home. It looked so strangely distant from here, yet she still loved it all the same. “Ignition.”
Twilight looked around the brightly lit pad as the moon sat high in the sky. Even though everyone else had gone home to sleep, she knew Rainbow well enough to be prepared for a very speedy return. She looked up into the sky, staring into that abyss of stars and nebulae and all other sorts of phenomena, and felt her eyes grow heavy despite her best efforts. Her mind filled itself with dreams of even bigger things, such as finding other planets out there with their own princesses and ponies not quite like them but allies in the universe all the same.
Suddenly, a hoof on her shoulder pulled her out of the delightful experience and back to the real world. Twilight turned her head and gave a start when she met the magenta eyes of Rainbow Dash. “This sure does seem familiar, doesn’t it?” She held out a hoof, and Twilight’s eyes went wide. There, before her eyes, lay a sample of moon rock. She gingerly took the material from her friend. “I-I didn’t think you would bring any back. You’re not a science-type, so I thought you might not consider it...” For the next few minutes, Twilight simply sat there, speechless, turning the only sample on Equestria of their moon over and over in her magic. “If you had handed this to me twenty years ago I would’ve ran tests on it until I ran myself into the ground. But now,” she broke the rock in half, “I think I’ll let the staff run tests, and keep a bit of it for myself. No testing involved. After all of this work, I think I just—”
“Want to discuss what was on that note? Tomorrow night. I’ll be in the usual place.” Rainbow smiled as she noted Twilight’s agreement. “I think it’s about time to get some sleep. Let’s go home.”
There’s always a right time to say something, and infinitely many wrong ones. I think you’ve got an idea of what I’m talking about. Back there, right before launch, it definitely wasn’t the right time, but I guessed that you might notice this note on the flag and read it then. Out there, where there’s nothing but space and beauty all around, is definitely a good time, if not the best. Well, here goes then: I wondered if, now that all of this is over for now, if you would like to—
Rainbow Dash sighed as she got to the point where the note had been torn, apparently in Twilight’s rush to get the flag to her. So many things could lie on the other end of that sentence, and she felt that some of them would be much more enjoyable than the others. It could certainly make a pony think, even her. She looked out over the small hill as she approached it, the night twinkling above her and whispering its power into the air. Deep indigoes and ebonies swirled around and through the pinpricks of purity, casting a smooth canvas for a wonderfully starry night.
As she crested the hill from one direction, Twilight approached it from the other. The unicorn took a deep breath, lingering for a moment while the cool grass swept along her hooves, almost urging her forward and deeper into the night. When she reached the top of the hill, she noticed Rainbow Dash just beginning to lay down on the crisp ground, stretching her wings out before tucking them back into their folded state. Twilight took a place beside her, deciding to not break the silence quite yet as the pair instinctually let their eyes drift skyward.
After a long pause spent simply enjoying the peace after years of hectic work, Rainbow finally spoke up. “So, you know, that note got torn somehow. I only got part of it. Although I still think I have a pretty good idea of what you were headed to.” She hoofed the paper to Twilight, and the unicorn’s eyes glazed over a bit when she discovered the most vitally important section of the note completely missing.
“You’re right, part of it’s gone...” Twilight trailed off, lowering her head a bit as her dejected voice slid her mouth into a line. Now what do I do... The still air sat heavily around them, pressing in as the crickets let loose somewhat muted chirps.
Rainbow Dash caught the action in the corner of her vision and turned to face Twilight, a late night breeze stirring and wafting a nippy graze over them. For a moment, she thought she could see the world turning in lavender eyes. “Something up, Twilight?”
She looked up into those eyes, those rubied eyes, and realized that if Rainbow could go after her dreams, so could she. In a moment of inspiration that could only have come on that night, she spoke up. “There was, but I think I’m good now. How about I let you know what was on the rest of that note?” Twilight gave a tiny smile, and the pair locked eyes, two fates spun together by night’s loom. A full moon gave the landscape a mercurial glow as two ponies found warmth in each other.
Rainbow Dash and Twilight sat in a booth in the onboard meal hall, sipping sarsaparilla and snacking on scones slathered with strawberry sauce. They chuckled, thoroughly enjoying the week vacation they had before work came back in full force with the recent establishment of the Equestrian Space Committee. Twilight mentioned that she had respectfully declined the position of chairpony, instead opting for lead researcher and letting Princess Luna handle the main operation of the organization.
When the laughter from one of Pinkie Pie’s strange stories trailed off, Rainbow turned to Twilight. “Y’know, I used to think that you didn’t have the guts to do something like you did last night. I mean, it takes a lot to tell that to a friend. But hey, I guess I’m a bit of an inspiration.” She jokingly puffed her chest out a bit and made a show of tossing her mane back heroically.
Twilight blushed a little at the recent memory. “Well, I can’t lie and say that you getting to the moon didn’t inspire me just a little. It just felt right, you know? I knew that there wasn’t going to be another chance quite like that again, so I seized it. Carpe diem, as the ancient Pegasus empire liked to say.”
“You certainly did great on the timing, that’s for sure.” Rainbow Dash took another bite of the scone in her hoof and downed it with some sarsaparilla. “I know I would’ve never been able to do it. Sure, I can go to the moon, but I’m not one for too much reflection. You’re cut out for that.”
Twilight’s brow furrowed for a moment before relaxing back. “Sometimes, though, you have to break the mirror.”
In another area of the ship, Luna’s magic encased a large, vibrant quill in her indigo magic, slipping it into an inkwell. With careful motions and an ending flourish, her signature sealed itself in place alongside Celestia’s. The otherworldy ambassador that sat across from her gave an excited bounce as the treaty returned to his hooves, approved.
Meanwhile, Twilight and Rainbow Dash paced out onto the bridge of the large vessel they now lived in, looking out over the area beyond the viewport.
Twilight smiled as she leaned on Rainbow’s side. “And to think, this all started with dreams on a starry night...” She thought back to the torn section and to wherever it might be, drifting in space or decomposed in some plot of soil.
—maybe grab lunch and see where it goes from there. I mean, it’s a start, right? Anyway, I thought we’d do that and talk about the possible formation of a space committee as well. I couldn't imagine the last two decades spent any differently. It just goes to show that dedication pulls through.
With hope and sincerity,