All character rights reserved, of course, by Hasbro, Lauren Faust, likely, and Bungie for the excellent voice that says “Slayer” when you play Halo. That is just so nice to hear every once in a while. If you find any errors, it would be nice if you put them in the comments. Er, onto the story.
[Player LASER LILAC signed in]
In bright purple letters, the message blipped onto Twilight Sparkle’s screen, a small noise playing in her earphones. The normally studious unicorn had to repress an urge to laugh at the irony of her situation. The most thoroughly dedicated student in Equestrian history now spent her research time plopped in a beanbag chair, a white oblong of plastic across her lower legs. A hoof stroked down the side of the smooth device, touching the four shiny coloured buttons affectionately. The two cupped sticks, perfectly formed for a mare’s hooves to fit into, seemed to jiggle lightly in their sockets at her touch, as if to say to her, “Toggle us! Toggle us!” Across the centre of the device, a massive pink X was encased in a silver circle, broadcasting to the world exactly what it was and who had made it.
The XBUCKS 360. The most wonderful machine she had ever amused herself with. Infused with the magic of billionaire unicorn Gilded Gates, a master of electrical magic theory, the smooth white box had capabilities she wouldn’t have believed existed. She still remembered how she had been introduced to the rectangular deity that was the XBUCKS four months earlier.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“C’mon, Twilight, give the thing a try!”
Rainbow Dash had the most pleading look she could muster in her eyes, her wings drooping as Twilight turned the offer down once more. “I’m sorry, Rainbow, but I can’t. I’m too busy with my studies on pandimensional communication techniques to play any games.” The cyan pegasus waved the white plastic tray in her friend’s face. “But, but look at it! This controller is awesome! See, ya put it on your legs like this,” she fluttered on to her hooves, then dropped on her flank, setting the tray-shaped device across her legs. “And then, you put your hooves in these little cups- they say the left one usually moves you, an’ the right one changes how you see.”
“Rainbow, how’s it going to move my piece for me if it doesn’t touch anything?”
“No, Twilight, it’s not that kind of a game. They’re called video games.”
Twilight looked to her, confused. “Video games? The next evolution of board games, I assume?” Rainbow’s eyes were sparkling as she gushed, “Next evolution? They’re millions of light-years ahead of board games!”
“Rainbow, a light-year is a measurement of distance, not time.”
“See, that’s the egghead thinking that keeps you stuck on board games. Look, you put the XBUCKS near another new thingy called a ‘teevee’ and put these little wires in the back of it. Ya turn ‘em both on by pressing the little buttons, and magic makes the teevee light up with all kinds of stuff, depending on what game you put in the XBUCKS.”
Twilight facehoofed, shaking her head and brushing her mane from her eyes. “Rainbow, how are you supposed to put a game board into that thing?”
“No, featherbrain! See, the games are on these little silvery circles, sorta like a Frisbee. Besides, this isn't the XBUCKS, it's just the thingy you control it with. I already bought the teevee and the XBUCKS, and now I just bought a game they say is gonna be epic! You have gotta see me try it out!”
“What’s the game called?”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Twilight felt the familiar warmth as her magic enwreathed her hooves and formed into pads at the bottom. Trembling, she set a hoof onto the fluffy clouds Rainbow Dash called home. She never doubted her magic, but she had had Rarity’s help the first time she tried the Cloud-Walking Charm, and wasn’t sure she could pull it off solo. Delighted that the vaporous water held her weight, the lavender unicorn leapt from her balloon. The clouds bounced under her before settling into a semisolid path towards the three-story citadel.
“Welcome to- pause, for dramatic effect- the DashCave!
“Really, Rainbow? I mean, you built it nicely, but I don't think your house needs a name..."
“What? It’s awesome, and so am I- therefore, the name is justified. Now let’s get started!” The eager athlete turned her key in the fluffy white door, opening it wide. Inside, all Twilight could see was more cloud, the lack of outlines preventing her from seeing if the room was furnished or not. Everything was pure white and wispy, except for a big black box in the corner, with a smaller white box beside it, already plugged in.
This was Twilight’s first chance to see the machine up close. A slightly off-white rectangle of plastic, with transparent sections forming a ring within a ring. Probably for magical lights and sounds, Twilight thought. As she inspected the machine, Rainbow opened her shopping bag, pulling out a transparent pink box with absurdly detailed art on the cover. It showed two unicorns in mechanical looking armor under an ashy sunset. Overhead, massive lumps of metal swerved and zoomed. In the background, more unicorns pointed up to a hilltop, where stood the single largest unicorn Rainbow ever thought she’d see somepony draw. His armor was green, his face hidden by a sheet of orange reflective glass. Even the horn was coated in green metal, giving no clues whatsoever to the appearance of the massive stallion inside the suit.
Done with her investigation, Twilight looked over the cover artwork. “Wow, a-are they robots or something?”
“No, I don’t think so. It’s called ‘power armor,’ some kinda weird magical armor that’s heavier than stone but twice as strong. It runs on the wearer’s magic, so you have to play the game as a unicorn. Now, fluff up a chair and we can play!” Rainbow pulled at the floor, yanking a large tuft of cloud from it and sculpting it into a throne. Twilight did mostly the same, substituting the enormous seat for a simple pillow, albeit a very large one.
“Alrighty, I think I’m ready. So, how do you play?” One of the white oblongs Rainbow had bought fell into Twilight’s hooves. “Alright, ya put these little cups on your front hooves, and use them to steer yourself. Hit these buttons with your back right leg to do different stuff, depending on what the game says.” She opened the instruction manual, scanning the controls. “Alright, there’s little buttons inside those cups. The right one says ‘use magic’ and the left is ‘zoom.’” Twilight nodded her understanding, and Rainbow Dash held the pink X on her controller down. The XBUCKS console’s clear portions glowed pink in response, and the black box above, the teevee device Rainbow had mentioned, clicked into life. A hidden compartment on the white box opened up, allowing Rainbow to pop the Frisbee-like disc of silver in. After a few seconds, the word “VIDEO” disappeared from the television's screen, instead replaced by a silver ball whooshing across the screen before coming to a halt, a pink X flared across it. Beneath the sphere, the phrase “Marecrosoft XBUCKS 360” faded onto the screen. Rainbow squealed with anticipation.
Somber choral music started up, a row of tenor stallions chanting together. In almost lifelike detail, the pony from the cover art, High Command, stood tall, his faceplate reflecting the sights of beams of light flaring across the sky. Rainbow and Twilight oohed and ahhed at the display before suctioning the controllers onto their front hooves. Rainbow pulled her left leg back, and the word ‘multipony’ lit up in response. She selected a few options faster than Twilight could read them, and laid back. “I dunno how we really play this game, it just said to use magic on other players until you or your team win. Oh, look! It’s gonna start!”
The screen went from dark to light, showing two unicorns in lavender and cyan suits of the same power armor High Command wore. In the top left corner of each of their halves of the screen, "Rapid-fire Round," a combat spell Twilight knew well, was lit in pale green. Suddenly, a stallion called out from the screen in a voice that sent chills down their spines and sped their heartbeats up.
To be continued…