Twilight shuffled through the books one at a time in the bookshelf. “Ugh, why can’t I find a book here on squirrels in Equestrian antiquity?” The Unicorn rolled her eyes and continued looking.
The studious Unicorn had been searching all afternoon for a book on this very subject, but at the time being, to no avail. It intensely frustrated her. All this mare desired was a little touching up on her knowledge in squirrel history, more specifically the Acorn Period, in order to complete an assignment, but this was simply impossible due to the lack of informative sources in her very own library.
After Twilight finished browsing through each and every last novel, reference guide, newspaper article, magazine, and textbook in the upper and main levels of the Ponyville Library, the mare decided to continue her search for Squirrellian glory in the deep depths of the basement.
The mare almost never entered that strange and mysterious place, as it was Spike’s job to carry down the undesirable and carry up the new shipments of books kept down there. In fact, the last time Twilight strolled down those wooden steps was when she hooked Pinkie Pie up to that funky mind-reading device, which of course turned out to be a one-thousand bit scam. If only Twilight wasn’t so gullible...
Once Twilight skedaddled down to the bottom of the stairs, she walked across the room towards with the machine towards the next, where the archives were kept. Upon entering, the mare gazed around at the eye-popping sight before her. Piles upon piles of stacked book columns were situated in all reaches of the lusterless room. A few of the stacks, especially the ones containing newer looking books, appeared straight and neatly organized.
The vast majority of the book stacks, however, could barely be labeled as ‘columns’, since many seemed to be on the precipice of tipping over. In fact, many had already made the plunge, and the books were lying around in small piles on the dirty wooden floor.
Most of these books were old and musty, incorrectly categorized, and not even in alphabetical order! Twilight was astounded and disgusted by such an organizational miscarriage. She believed these old books were left by the previous librarian. “How in Equestria could somepony let this happen?” She trotted up to the closest stack of books. “Oh well, better keep looking. I really hope there’s a fascinating reference guide on squirrel history here. Otherwise, I'll never finish my assignment, and I’ll never get to know more about squirrels than Fluttershy, and that makes me feel less smart!”
Twilight proceeded to use her magic in order to levitate each book up to her face for examination, and quickly discard it after realizing it’s uselessness. “The Essential Guide to Equestrian Flora and Fauna? Ugh! This is way too broad! Why isn’t there anything here just about squirrels?!”
The Unicorn was on her third or fourth stack, when suddenly she heard the faintest of voices.
Startled, Twilight dropped the novel in front of her and spun around to face a possible intruder. But when the mare thoroughly peered around at the stacks and piles of books, she concluded nopony was there.
“I must be hearing things,” cackled Twilight with a sheepish smile before turning back around and lifting the next book in the stack.
In a flash the Unicorn spun her front hooves around again to catch the source of the same noise, this time considerably louder. She cantered around and scanned the room thoroughly, but alas, her eyes laid on nothing but the same dilapidated columns and piles of useless out-of-date reference guides and newspapers scattered across the floor.
Flabbergasted and somewhat alarmed by the bizarre callings of her name, Twilight began to slowly amble towards the door. Now the Unicorn was inclined to find a reference guide on ‘paranormal activity’.
The Unicorn gasped, leaping to her right, away from the same profoundly audible voice immediately to her left. However, one of the mare’s back hooves just happened to land on a drab copy of Encyclopedia Britannicolt.
Twilight instantly lost her balance as her back hoof slipped, catastrophically propelling the flailing mare back in the direction of the eery vocalizations. Immediately before the mare collided with a towering book column, she managed to analyze of a few of the titles. They appeared to be more broad encyclopedias such as Equestria Book: Late Celestian Period.
Twilight had no time to think, however, as her horn struck the encyclopedias composing the lower end of the column, initiating the remainder of the encyclopedias up above to cascade down atop the mare like a flurry of ponies would fall atop... Rainbow Dash.
Once the avalanche of information ceased, Twilight discovered herself buried from head to tail in secondary reference sources like The Griffinic Cooking Styles Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Everything We Don’t Know About Dragons, and The Rock Farmer’s Encyclopedia.
One by one the Unicorn used her levitation spell to lift each encyclopedia off her body, since the mare was simply too weak to push the books off of her with her hooves. In a jiffy, Twilight had removed nearly every piece of reference that had fallen on her. Only a single large encyclopedia remained lying on her belly.
Curiously enough, this one appeared quite contrasting to all the others, since it was entirely white in color and considerably larger. Intrigued and forgetting there still may be an intruder in the library, the Unicorn’s studious instincts took over, and she levitated it directly in front of her face in order to examine the front cover.
A large black and white sphere-like object dominated most of the cover, and it appeared to be made up of smaller pieces, similar to a jigsaw puzzle. Each ‘puzzle-piece’ had it’s own strange little symbol situated in the middle, which, except for a large capital ‘W’, Twilight recognized none of them.
Underneath the large sphere lay the title of the book in large print:
The Free Encyclopedia
Its title was so broad, yet for some unknown reason so alluring to the mare. It didn't point to any subject in particular, but its simplistic title The Free Encyclopedia seemed to imply every subject.
Twilight chuckled, knowing it impossible for there to exist such an amazing all-knowing encyclopedia, but nevertheless decided she would peek inside anyway out of raw curiosity.
Twilight had barely engaged in opening the front cover when that same mysterious voice made itself known directly in the librarian’s face. The voice was deep like a stallion’s, and also seemed to be similar to that of a Canterlot pony.
She stumbled and fell backwards again, dropping the Encyclopedia onto the floor. Her mind in utter shock and awe as a result of what she had witnessed. Thoughts zoomed through Twilight’s mind, ‘Did that book just... talk? It’s either that or I’ve read one too many of those Hairy Trotter novels.’
“Twilight Sparkle! Is this how you: the prestigious pupil of Princess Celestia, a multi-savior of Equestria, and Ponyville librarian treats her books? It seems somepony has made a critical error in one of my articles!”
Twilight’s jaw dropped to the ground. The source of the voice was clearly reverberating from Wikipedia Encyclopedia. She slowly approached the book.
“H... how can you talk? Books aren’t supposed to talk! Oh, maybe I'm dreaming! Or maybe all this searching for squirrel history references is starting to go to my head!”
“No, Twilight Sparkle, according to my archive, your psychological mechanics only grow unstable whilst you become overly concerned about minor and obviously inconsequential events.”
Twilight was dumbfounded by the talking encyclopedia’s specific knowledge of her. “Wait a minute, how do you know of all of this about me! And why am I talking back to you!” Twilight levitated the book off the floor and back towards her again. “You’re a talking book for Celestia’s sake!”
“You're a talking horse, but that is irrelevant. The logical solution is simple. I am Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. I am the encyclopedia of encyclopedias. My glorious insides are rife with every significant pony, event, you name it, I’ve got it. Gaze upon my rectangular greatness, as I am the only reference source you shall ever desire in your studies. And the best part? I am free from all irking fees associated with lesser encyclopedias.”
Twilight remained skeptical. “Alright, Mr. Wik--ee--pedia, show me my own personal article!”
“It would be my pleasure for a brilliant mare such as yourself, Twilight Sparkle. Simply open to the first page, and you shall gaze upon the words of your very own greatness and significance.”
The Unicorn couldn’t help but blush slightly from the book’s compliments. Not too many ponies offered her such praise.
Twilight opened to the first page, and her jaw fell to the ground once again in extreme bewilderment. The page was filled from top to bottom with relevant information and pictures of herself.
The article included all of the important events relevant to the Unicorn’s life so far, such as, ‘Twilight and her five best friends proceeded to use the legendary Elements of Harmony to defeat the terrible Draconequus Discord,’ among many others. It was truly awe-inspiring.
However, one thing bothered Twilight. “Hey, Wikipedia? I noticed a mistake on this article. It says here that my personal assistant’s name is Mike, and that he is a baby minotaur. I assure you this is inaccurate, as his name is Spike, and he is a baby dragon.”
“I am glad you brought that up. You see, on extreme occasion, somepony with another copy of myself shall make an error minor enough that I will fail to notice--”
Twilight gasped. “Are you saying there’s more than one copy of you, and your information can be accessed and changed by anypony, as long as it’s accurate?”
The Wikipedia giggled, “Why, of course you silly little filly! How else do you think colts and fillies complete their academic research endeavors? By actually spending their time locating and reading endless out-of-date and extremely broad other encyclopedias? Bah! I think not! Nopony actually does that anymore! The librarian who ran this library before yourself used me ad nauseam.”
Twilight dropped her head, her eyes gazing dolefully at a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Being a Great Magic Student on the floor. “I’ve always done my research that way. Princess Celestia told me hard work and studying many different sources was the only way for me to properly learn how to become a powerful Unicorn in the art of magic.”
“Well, bright studious mare, now you have acquired me, and I am correct way to do research. With your wit and my intellect, there shall be no assignment from your princess that you cannot complete in less than an hour, and no friend you cannot feel smarter than!”
Twilight lifted her head and shot a hopeful glance at the Wikipedia. “Do you really think so?”
“I know so!” rejoiced the book.
The largest grin amassed itself on Twilight’s face. She was on the verge of tears. This talking magic Wikipedia encyclopedia was the answer to her recent aggravating problems pertaining to her a studies, in addition to being the ultimate resource for indulging herself with as much information as quickly as possible.
That reminded Twilight of something as she trotted up the basement stairs, still levitating the book in front of her. “Wikipedia, could you be so gracious as to find me an article on Squirrelian history? I so desperately need it for my current assignment to the princess.”
“Of course, Twilight Sparkle, anything for such a distinguished student of the princess herself.”
Twilight blushed slightly again whilst exiting the basement. She eagerly ambled up the wooden steps leading to her bedroom, where the mare trotted outside onto the balcony, her favorite study spot.
Twilight set the Wikipedia down in front of her and opened the cover again. The Unicorn’s eye-pupils shrunk as she recognized her own article was gone, replaced by a long detailed new article pertaining to the Squirrel civilization’s role in Equestrian history.
“Wow! This includes everything I need for my assignment, and the information I need to be smarter than my friend, all in one place! From the Great Walnut Republic, to the Chipmunk Wars! This is incredible! It would’ve taken hours to find all of this in the library! You know, maybe I could even use you for friendship reports! Just wait til Spike--”
A thought burst into Twilight’s head, and she clopped her front hooves together whilst smiling. “You know what? I think I’m going to write a letter to the princess! I think it would be a wonderful idea for the Princess to know about you and what you have to offer in my studies, don’t you agree?”
Twilight spun around and walked off the deck in order to find Spike.
“Actually, I am not sure if that is such an optimal idea...”
Dear Princess Celestia,
Today I learned that hard work exhibited on research and studying is completely futile. I discovered that just because somepony has a lot books and encyclopedias, doesn’t mean they should be used. All they really need is a single encyclopedia titled Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Any amount of significant material can be found within this amazing resource, thus emphatically decreasing the amount of time and effort needed to complete any given assignment.
Your Faithful Student,
Princess Celestia levitated the letter into the fireplace, an acrimonious expression plastered on her face.
“What seems to be thy problem, sister?” asked Princess Luna, who stood across the room preparing to raise the moon.
“It has happened again, Luna, I’ve lost another personal student to the dreaded Wikipedia.”
Luna gasped. “Do speakest thou of Twilight Sparkle, the mare who saved me--”
“Yes, Luna, of course I’m speaking about her. How many other personal students do I have?”
Luna put her head down and remained silent for a few seconds, before inquiring, “Does she know not that the dreaded Wikipedia is a mentor’s most hated resource?”
“It unfortunately seems that way, little sister. Once the vile Wikipedia is discovered by an unaware student, it is nearly impossible for that student to relinquish it. The temptation of it's use is simply too great.”
“What are thou going to do?”
“I shall do what I’ve done with all the others. I’ll send her back to Magic Kindergarten in order for her to relearn the basic principles of good research studying, and have her copy of Wikipedia destroyed. It is a pity, I really believed I had vanquished that monstrousity from Equestrian libraries, including the Ponyville Library. It seems the previous librarian there failed to dispose of it after I caught her using it.”
Celestia began composing her despondent reply to her personal pupil. Luna, on the other hoof, remained curious.
“Sister, why is the Wikipedia so dreaded? It seems to me such a resource could be very useful.”
Celestia dropped her quill and rolled her eyes.
“Luna, how many times must I remind you! The Wikipedia is scorned because it's too easy! And we as teachers and mentors dislike more than anything our students researching an assignment the easy way! Everything must be long and tedious. Otherwise, they'll begin to notice how pointless most of the work we give them really is! Is this what you desire, Luna? Young ponies questioning our brilliant education system?"