"So what are you doing exactly?" Twilight asked, trying to make sense of the mess she was looking at.
"I am attempting to find the best way to store magic in a solid medium," answered Starlight. Her gaze fixed on the small collection of crystals she had arranged in front of her. They were arranged by density and mass, which in practice meant they were in order of smallest to largest and lightest to darkest. The only consistency between the crystals was the purple hue each of them carried.
Twilight nodded in thought. "I remember reading some books on the subject some time ago. If I recall there was very little success at the time. Although those experiments were done a long while ago and magic theory has progressed significantly since..."
She made her way along the library wall, scanning each book for title and author. It didn't take long to find the one she was looking for, 'Unexpected Uses of Gems, Stones, and Gemstones'. Twilight plucked the book from the shelf and floated it over to Starlight who immediately started flipping through its pages.
"Where did you get this idea from, anyway? The last time I even heard someone talking about gemstone and magic interactions was final-year magic class in Canterlot."
Starlight didn't look up from the page she was en-rapt in, but answered anyway. "Oh, it's just something Maud mentioned a few weeks ago. Apparently rocks take on different properties when interacting with magic. With the right rock you could control all of Equestria." Starlight recited Maud's sentence before remembering who she was talking to. "Heh, although I'm only looking to store magic. Don't worry."
"Maud? You mean-"
"Pinkie's sister." Starlight interrupted. "Pinkie introduced us, and we really hit it off." Starlight flashed Twilight a quick smile before returning to her new book.
"Oh, that's great!" Twilight thought for a moment. "What would you use stored magic for?"
Starlight thought for a moment as well before offering an idea, "Well, you could have a light, that just works without having to maintain a lighting spell."
"So...like a lamp?" Twilight asked as she reached out and the pressed the button on the standing lamp next to her, casting that corner of the room in a soft yellow glow.
Starlight blinked and smiled nervously, "Well, it was just an example. I'm sure I could come up with something better."
Twilight shook her head, wondering if Celestia ever had to put up her doing stuff like this.
"Okay then, I'll let you get back to it."
"Twilight! Twilight!" The cries came from down the hall, and were getting louder. Twilight frowned, trying to reach the end of the sentence she was reading before she would have to put the book dow-
"TWILIGHT!" Starlight yelled, slamming open the doors to Twilight's study with a burst of magic.
Twilight sighed, placed her bookmark into the spine and closed the page she was on.
"Yes, Starlight?" Twilight threw up her best smile as she spun to face her student.
"I did it!"
"Did what exactly?"
"I made the crystal hold the magic!"
"Oh...well that's excellent! Show me!"
The two made their way over to Starlight's room where she already had a demonstration set up. Starlight was almost unable to hold in her excitement. She bounded over to her workbench where a device sat. It had a solid chrome base where a similarly chrome stick sprung from. The stick travelled up half a meter before curving downwards and ending in a cone. Within the cone sat an elongated crystal. Starlight held out her hooves like a presenter showing off the first place prize.
"You made...a lamp..." Twilight stated.
"Yes, but it's a really cool lamp! Don't you think that deserves an applause?" Starlight said wiggling her eyebrows in a very suggestive manner.
"Where are you going with this, Starlight?" Twilight asked.
"Just roll with me on this one."
Twilight was sceptical but played along. She had only clapped her hooves together twice when the crystal lamp suddenly lit up, giving the room a calming purple glow. Twilight smiled, it was kind of cute.
"Ah, you made a clap lamp," She corrected, "I like it."
"Not just any clap lamp, however." Starlight gently turned the lamp around so Twilight could see the back of it. It took a few seconds for Twilight to realise what Starlight was indicating. When Twilight noticed the lamp had no cord her eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Huh...how is that being powered?" Twilight asked, no longer needing to feign her interest. "Batteries?"
"It's a spell! It doesn't need power! It just needs magic, watch this." Starlight gently enveloped the lamp in her magic glow and the brightness of the light visibly increased.
"That's really impressive, Starlight!" Twilight exclaimed. "This could be exceptionally useful for unicorns! Especially night owls."
"That's where I got the inspiration from! After seeing you go through so many candles during those long research binges I figured there might be an easier solution." Starlight said.
"And I'm sure you'll get a similar use out of something like this too," Twilight said, knowingly. Starlight missed the inflection in Twilight's voice, too excited to stop talking about her creation.
"Anyone really! The spell doesn't take much to maintain so the light should last a few weeks at a time. So long as whoever owns it knows a unicorn then really anyone could get functional use out of it."
"It might be difficult to get unicorns up to places like Cloudsdale," Twilight said.
Starlight rubbed her muzzle in thought, an idea forming.
"This is incredible, Starlight! These crystals of yours not only require no electricity to work, but because magic can be compacted so well they can last eight times as long as a similar sized battery!" Twilight exclaimed, reading through the results of Starlight's latest tests. The crystals Starlight had been researching had quickly become a focus of Twilight's. The work behind them was something Twilight had never seen before.
"I was thinking of giving a few out to the local groups. You know, helping out the community and such!" Starlight informed.
"I think that's a great idea! Ponyville is primarily an earth pony village so if they could store unicorn spells then the local agriculture groups could do so much more. So long as the local unicorns don't mind providing a recharge every so often that is."
Starlight trotted over to Twilight and passed her some more notes.
"Actually," Starlight began, "I've looked into that and I figured out how to power the crystals with the natural magic of both earth and pegasus ponies!"
Twilight was quick with her knowledge on the topic, "Doing that takes way more magic energy than you get out of it. It's usually not worth the effort."
"Well this system is definitely not efficient. But it does work! I asked Rarity if she could make some crystal bracelets for me that can be wrapped around legs or wings. Then, I added a magic absorption spell to them and connected the bracelets to a type of rock, that Maud showed me, which realigns the ley field. By tuning the rock you can shift earth or pegasus magic to unicorn magic! Then you just connect the fixed magic to the crystal you're charging, and ta da!" The explanation just threw itself out of Starlight's mouth. She took a deep breath when she made it to the end. "You lose a bit of magic during the process through powering the bracelets. But enough gets through to allow a non-unicorn to power the connected crystal in maybe double the time."
Twilight said nothing. She wasn't able to, her mind was racing with possibilities. A rock with natural properties that most unicorns couldn't replicate?
"The question now is, what to do with them." Starlight said.
Twilight's mind already had several ideas. "There's a lot of places that would greatly benefit from something like this. Lots of remote villages who can't get power because the infrastructure just isn't built out that far." She offered.
"That's not a bad idea, actually." Starlight acknowledged. "Also if those towns are able to attract new residents and expand it might even be easier to get to them if there's any friendship emergencies out there. I remember you mentioning how far away those Hooffields and McColts families were a little while back."
Twilight nodded, "We had to take a hot air balloon. This could make a real difference in ponies lives!"
"Your company? What are you talking about, Starlight?"
"Oh! Right, so don't be mad but I asked Celestia for a bit of help getting these crystals produced and sent to those remote towns we talked about. She got me connected with a manufacturer that could produce Glimmer Crystals. We just needed a company and product for their record keeping. They're producing them over in Baltimare and are shipping them via train to our central storage here in Ponyville. I've been thinking about selling these anyways ever since their success amongst some of the local groups," Starlight explained.
"Wow, you're really going all in on this aren't you?" Twilight smiled at Starlight, proud of her student.
"Yeah, I think this is going to go great places!"
"What's your company called?" Twilight asked.
"Glimmer Electronics!" Starlight announced.
"Electronics? Isn't that a bit strange to associate your company with the exact thing your product removes the need for?"
"Well I spoke to a PR and marketing firm for any suggestions and they said there might be some confusion as to what the product actually does. So now we're an alternative to electricity instead of just some new 'fad'."
Twilight nodded. Then motioned for Starlight to continue when she noticed Starlight was waiting for what she had said to sink in, as if she had just said something world-shifting.
"Not only that, but we sort of are about electricity now. We did some market research into who would actually buy Glimmer Crystals and it turns out that it wasn't many ponies. Nopony wants to replace every appliance and light in their home or office just for a bit of convenience. So with a bit of help from the research team-"
"Wait, 'We'? You have a research team?!" Twilight exclaimed, suddenly feeling very behind in the conversation.
"Yes, and they're fantastic. With their help and some guidance from Maud we were able to create converters that allow anything to be powered by our crystals!"
"Anything? So there'd be no need for power anymore?"
"None at all!"
Twilight hesitated. "Starlight, I'm not sure how I feel about that."
Starlight paused. "What do you mean?" She asked.
"Well," Twilight started, rubbing the back of her head, "It's just that's a lot of responsibility. Are you sure you can handle that?" Twilight had other concerns, but she decided to give Starlight the benefit of the doubt for now.
"I've brought it this far." Starlight stepped over to Twilight and placed a hoof over her shoulder. "Besides, now that I'm no longer your student I need to work towards something, right?"
"I guess..." Twilight said, unconvinced.
"Look, just give me a chance on this. And if it gets too much, I'll leave it to someone else!"
"Great!" Starlight said. "Now I'm afraid I have a meeting with finance later today so I've got to get ready for that."
Starlight turned and trotted away. Twilight watched her leave, a feeling of unease creeping into her stomach.
"I want to see Starlight." Twilight demanded.
"Starlight is going to be booked out until 3pm today. Is that fine with you?" The receptionist immediately replied in a thick Manehatten accent without looking away from the Glimmer Electronics computer she was typing into.
"Yeah, that's fine. I just want to talk to her."
Twilight took a seat and started the hour long wait. During that time she took in the posters that lined the walls. One featured a smiling Starlight Glimmer holding a crystal in her forehoof. The other simply showed a stylised version of the same crystal with the phrase 'Wow! Glimmer Electronics.' proclaimed above and below the picture. Twilight's eyes moved to the clock sitting on the opposite wall. The hour hand ticked over to 3. Then like the clockwork inside it Twilight's student, former student, Starlight Glimmer walked into the lobby at exactly that moment.
"Hey Twilight! Good to see you. Come on in!" Starlight exclaimed, excited to see her mentor again. Twilight took a deep breath in and let it out again before walking passed Starlight who was holding open the door to her office. The inside of the overly expanded room was coated in a dark oak, with a gentle lilac carpet. There was a large desk near far end which complimented the walls. The whole room was illuminated by a floor to ceiling window that allowed them to see almost over the horizon.
A fake leather seat sat between the desk and window. Starlight climbed onto the chair while Twilight took the smaller wooden stool that was closer to the door. Starlight then sat up straight, hooves together on the table.
"So what was it that you wanted to talk about?"
"Please, call me Glimmer."
"Glimmer?" Twilight paused, frowning slightly. "...Okay...it's just that you haven't been around the castle for a while. Not that I'm against you branching out! But I was just making sure you were doing okay."
"I'm doing just great, Twilight! Glimmer Electronics is really taking Equestria by storm. With the help of Cadence we've managed to expand our reach into the Crystal empire as well. They were right in the middle of modernising their infrastructure too. You know what with being cursed away for a thousand years and all that. So we decided to give them a hoof and upgrade it for them. Also I'm sorry I haven't been about the castle much but you know how it is, running this business is taking most of my time at the moment."
Twilight nodded, "Oh of course of course! Actually I wanted to ask about the expansion of your company."
"It's just that...you've more or less taken over the electricity industry."
"Yes. Our power is cheaper and easier to acquire. Plus it virtually removed the need for any ongoing payments. The existing power companies were no match for us and as far as I've heard a few of them have even shutdown."
"Don't you think that taking over the existing industry might be unfair to the ponies working in it?"
"Well that's just it Twilight. Glimmer Electronics has grown so large now that we've ended up hiring many of the ponies who were working in power previously. In fact our current Las Pegasus Branch Manager used to own the Ponyville Hydro Dam."
Twilight hesitated, "Okay look, Starlight, I'm just...I'm just worried that maybe having that much control under one pony is too much?"
Glimmer opened her forehooves and let out a dry laugh. "Twilight! I'm a different pony now. I'm not going to be forcing equal power use or anything like that. How would one even do that?" She threw her hooves into the air.
"But you control one of the most important utilities entirely by yourself! It's too much power!"
"Well, there's not much you can do about it now is there." Glimmer said almost too casually. She continued, "Honestly Twilight I'm surprised you aren't on board with this. With all this power we could spread friendship so much further than you ever could before. What if you could have stopped the Hooffields and McColts from fighting simply by turning off their power, and their ability to fight? You wouldn't have had to spend so long flying all the way out there!"
Twilight baulked, this was not the student she had taught. The tower Starlight ran her business from was just a monument to her arrogance. She had taken everything Twilight had taught her and poisoned it with the belief that everyone should share hers, or else. Twilight sat up and slammed her hooves on the table.
"That wouldn't have worked and you know it. This isn't right, Starlight! Celestia wont stand for this."
"Neither Celestia nor Luna can do anything. Even if they wanted to. Not only do I have the support of Cadance but without Glimmer Electronics there's no more power."
"Your product doesn't need a constant supply. The ponies who own those crystals can just refuel them without you. You've ruined yourself." Twilight's voice shook slightly.
"I don't think you understand Twilight. Without Glimmer Electronics, those crystals wont work at all."
"Wha...what do you mean?"
"Like I said before: if there's trouble, we just unplug the power. How do you think we could do that without an off-switch? And Glimmer Electronics existing is better than not having any power at all."
Twilight found herself unable to move. Unable to say anything. Even if she could, she didn't know what she would say.
Starlight gently tapped the crystal display Glimmer Watch attached to her foreleg. "I'm sorry Twilight but I have a meeting in about twenty minutes with the co-owner of the company. I'm going to have to cut this short."
Twilight blinked. "Co-owner? But this was all you. Who's else was in on this?"
From the top floor of Glimmer Electronics, overlooking all of Ponyville and Equestria, sat two purple ponies lounging in their deck chairs. One of them was a unicorn for which the company was named after, and the other was an earth pony.
"You were right about one thing. With the right rock you can control all of Equestria."
"This isn't what I meant when I said that. But it works." Maud paused, "Did you know?"
"I spent a year and a half convincing ponies to live in a dead-end town in the middle of nowhere. I've manipulated enough ponies to see when some pony is doing it to me. You're just lucky that ruling the world was also something I thought was a pretty good idea. We can finally show all of Equestria the way of friendship, whether they want it or not." Starlight responded.
Starlight smiled at Maud, hovering a glass of champagne over to her. In return, Maud lifted and tinked her own glass against Starlight's, and slipped a microscopic smile back. The two sipped at their glasses and watched as the night arrived. It was quite a sight, watching Equestria light up below them with a purple glow.