"Is it me, or is this the most random extra credit assignment ever?"
The Rainbooms met up after school on Friday to hang out. The topic of the extra credit assignment they'd been given that day was fresh on everyone's minds.
The assignment was deceptively simple: Come up with an idea for an original invention, write a marketing pitch, and give an oral presentation. No actual invention was necessary, although there were certain students, such as Twilight Sparkle, who many believed would probably show up with a completed prototype.
"Ah ain't much fer inventin' new things mahself," Applejack said, scratching her head. "Ah'm all about stickin' with whut's tried an' true."
"Well I, for one, find creation and innovation to be refreshing and inspiring," Rarity said. She paused, then added, "Of course, I'm not sure my, ahem, particular set of skills is a proper fit for this assignment."
"Yeah, you can't exactly invent clothes," Sunset Shimmer pointed out.
"Ooh! Unless you invent some kind of super special new clothes!" Pinkie Pie said excitedly. "Like, I dunno, maybe Peggo clothes? You know, those fun little building blocks? You could make your own outfits out of Peggos, put it all together every day, make it so you can take off any part of it you don't want on?"
Everybody stared at her. Rarity crossed her arms. "That..." She pursed her lips. "Actually isn't terribly ridiculous. It just isn't, well...practical. Also, I don't think it counts as an invention."
"Ah guess Ah could invent some shitkickers that kick more shit..."
"I have so many invention ideas!" Twilight Sparkle said, vibrating excitedly and clutching a thick notebook.
"There's a surprise," Rainbow Dash said dryly, rolling her eyes. "What about you, Sunset?"
Sunset bit her lip. "I'll think about it," she said. "Fluttershy?"
"Huh? Oh, umm..." Fluttershy tapped her lip. "Actually, I...I think I'm going to e-mail the teacher to ask if genetically engineering a new animal species would count as invention. Because if it does, then I, umm...I know what mine is. But...maybe not?" she ducked her head sheepishly.
"Well I know what mine is!" Pinkie Pie declared excitedly.
"Oh? What is it?" Twilight asked interestedly.
"It's a seeecreeeet," Pinkie said with an evil grin.
"Of course it is," Sunset said, rolling her eyes. "Still, it'll be interesting to see what everybody comes up with." She grinned. "Especially since we get to present these in front of the whole school."
"And a panel of judges, like that Bear Cave show," Twilight said. "I wonder who'll be on the panel?"
* * * * *
"I feel ridiculous," Vice-Principal Luna muttered.
Four weeks had passed. The Saturday of the extra credit presentations had arrived. There was a festive atmosphere in the Canterlot High auditorium.
Down front, the three judges—Vice-Principal Luna, Principal Celestia, and Miss Harshwhinny—sat with the teacher who had given the assignment.
They were all wearing bear suits.
"Oh, Luna, it's all in good fun!" Celestia said lightly. "Besides, the Bear Cave is a fun show. I've always wanted to be a judge."
"Ugh. How did I get roped into this again?" Miss Harshwhinny asked.
Luna smirked at her. "I seem to recall it involving us making all the evidence of your drunken bender in Las Pegasus disappear before the school board got wind of it," she said.
Miss Harshwhinny shot her a sour frown. "Blackmail is a felony, you know," she said.
"So is most of what you did in Las Pegasus."
Harshwhinny rolled her eyes. "Fine," she huffed.
Celestia cleared her throat and turned on her microphone. "Alright everybody, we're ready to begin." She looked at her list. "First up is...Applejack!"
Applejack walked onto the stage to polite applause. She had an embarrassed blush on her face. "Uhh...howdy y'all," she said. "Okay, so, uhh..." She coughed. "Whut Ah got fer y'all today is all-natural apple-based personal hygiene products. Uhh..." She rifled through a handful of dog-eared note cards. "Lessee here..." She coughed. "So uh, apples got them there e-mulsificatin' properties, an', um, they're good fer yer skin an' full of vitamins, an'...an' they smell nice..." She scratched her head. "Right, so anyway, we got us some apple hand cream, made with natural products, an' an apple body spray, apple perfume..." Her ears turned red. "Uhh...got an apple, uhh...lady wash, uhh...you squirt it up yer hoo-hah—"
"I think we get the idea," Celestia said, holding up a hand to stall her and pinching the bridge of her nose. "Thank you, Applejack. We've heard enough." She glanced at her list. "Alright, our next presenter is Ditzy Doo."
As a red-faced, surly Applejack stalked off the stage to laughter and catcalls, Ditzy Doo flounced out onto the stage, a remote-operated drone tucked under one arm, a basket of muffins in her other hand. She set the drone down, nearly toppling over and spilling her muffins everywhere in the process, then smoothed down her skirt and stood, blinking.
Luna coughed. "You may begin," she said.
"Oh! Right," Ditzy said. "Well, my invention is a fresh-baked muffin delivery system." She held up her muffins. "You know how they've started using drones to deliver packages and groceries and things? Well, it's kind of like that, except my drone would also be a complete portable baking oven!" She smiled brightly. "A drone equipped with a miniature specialized baking oven. You pour the batter in, set the controls, then send the drone on its way! As it flies to the customer, it bakes the muffins right inside the drone! Then when they get there, they're fresh-baked, moist, hot and tasty!"
A ripple of interest rose through the audience. "That's...actually not a bad idea," Sunset mused.
"It could work," Twilight said, pursing her lips. "The logistics for the heat source and motors would be tricky, but I think that could actually be a thing. Huh."
Down at judge's row, the judges conferred.
"That's quite an idea, Miss Doo," Miss Harshwhinny said. "Certainly it sounds like the sort of thing delivery-based businesses will be looking into in the next few years."
"Yes, you see drones everywhere these days," Luna said. "It's only natural that you'd see them equipped to do more than simply deliver goods."
"My only concern would be overheating, scorching, oven fires and such," Celestia said. "I can see an idea like this leading to a lot of drones that catch fire in the air or dump burning hot food on passersby. But I agree, this is the kind of thing real businesses will actually employ in the future."
Everyone applauded, and Ditzy skipped happily away, munching on a muffin.
* * * * *
As soon as she sat down by her friends in the audience, Applejack found herself on the receiving end of a merciless ribbing from Rainbow Dash. "Squirt it up your hoo-hah?" Rainbow cried, tears of laughter welling up in her eyes. "Oh my gosh, AJ, I know you love apples, but that's lovin' apples a little too much!"
"Dammit all, Rainbow Dash, Ah—"
"Umm...I actually agree with Rainbow," Fluttershy whispered, blushing. "I think you may need an...an intervention..."
Applejack looked around at the rest of her friends, who merely looked at her with pity, amusement, or gentle understanding. She sighed. "It ain't like that, y'all," she said. "Ah jes'...when Ah don't know whut t' do, Ah think about apples. It's jes' who Ah am."
"We understand, AJ," Sunset said. With a good-natured grin, she added, "But really? An apple douche? You, uhh...you know we can't not tease you about that, right?"
Applejack rolled her eyes. "Yeah yeah, get it outta yer systems..."
"Oh, umm...can I get it out of my system later?" Fluttershy asked. "It's my turn after Flash Sentry, I need to go set up." With that, she stood, her skirt swishing around her thighs as she hurried up to the backstage doors.
"So has...anybody seen what it is she came up with?" Twilight asked, adjusting her glasses.
Rarity smirked. "It's...interesting, I'll give her that..."
* * * * *
Flash Sentry stood on the stage, hands jammed in his pockets, looking nervous and uncomfortable. "R-right, so, umm..." He coughed. "They say different people react different ways to different sounds, and that's true! Especially with music. And a lot of guys—and girls, I guess—have trouble hooking up with people they have a crush on. And that old 'random serenade out of nowhere' thing never works, especially since you can't be sure they'll, uhh, y'know, like the song you play." He scratched his head. "So, uhh, anyway...my idea is for an app that helps you write the perfect song to get your crush interested. You tell the app everything you know about them, and it uses that to predict what style of music, what tempo, what key, and even what chords they'll like hearing. From there, you just...write the song, or if you can't write a song, get help from a friend who can, and...yeah."
A lot of students snickered at him. Sunset Shimmer groaned, facepalming.
Luna raised an eyebrow. "An app marketed to lovesick fools...well, there would certainly be a market."
Celestia frowned. "Sorry, but it sounds like, well...frankly, snake oil."
"I agree," Harshwhinny said. "What you're describing is patent nonsense."
Flash sighed and trudged off the stage, hands in his pockets.
"Wow," Twilight said, blinking. "That...was embarrassing. I feel sorry for him."
"Uhh...what was even up with that?" Rainbow wondered.
"No idea, but it does explain why I keep finding random mix CDs stuffed in my mailbox," Sunset muttered, shaking her head. "Guess he's trying to tell me something...I'll have a talk with him later."
Once the reactions to Flash's epic fail settled down, Celestia said, "Alright, next up we have Fluttershy."
Fluttershy walked onto the stage, pushing a large trolley with two massive, covered lumps on it. "Good morning, everyone, and thank you for, umm, sitting there listening to me." She ducked her head, brushing her hair out of her face nervously. "My presentation isn't so much a product invention as it is, umm...the creation of a new domesticated animal species. Umm, for people to keep as pets."
The judges conferred. "Interesting," Luna said. "If ethically questionable. Go on."
"Oh. Okay. Umm, well..." Fluttershy coughed. "A dream I've had for a long time is to take two different cute, cuddly animals and combine them, taking the best, fluffiest, most fun aspects of each and creating one super-cute, super-cuddly, super-adorable pet. Today, I'd like to present two pet hybrids I've come up with." She paused. "Oh, and these are just stuffed toy representations. I, umm...I haven't been playing god or anything."
She whipped the sheet off one of the two lumps, revealing what looked like a large, stuffed white rabbit...except it had fangs, tufted ears with a rounded, leathery interior, and large, white-furred, pink-leather-webbed wings. "First up, we have a babbit. Um, it's...it's a cross between a bat and a rabbit. It's cute and cuddly and fluffy like a bunny, but it can fly like a bat! And it's, umm...not scary."
"I beg to differ," Luna said softly with her microphone covered, eyes wide. Celestia chuckled.
"And, umm...the next one..." Fluttershy uncovered the other one. This one was a squat, shaggy, four-legged animal that had big, shiny eyes with slit pupils and long, droopy, fluffy ears. "This is a cabbit. Umm...a cross between a cat and a rabbit." She coughed. "Yeah."
The judges conferred for a minute. Celestia sighed. "Well, it's certainly...creative," she allowed. "But I don't think this is, well...feasible."
"Or sane. Or legal," Luna added.
"It's very...Neighponese," Harshwhinny said. "I think perhaps instead of creating impossible new domestic animals, this idea would be best served in the form of stuffed animals."
Fluttershy looked at her two large plushies and sighed. "Yeah, you're probably right." She trudged off the stage, her trolley of plushies in tow.
"I want one," a girl behind Fluttershy's friends said.
"Me too," the girl sitting next to her said. The same sentiment was heard across several rows. The Rainbooms looked at each other, eyes wide.
"Wow, Fluttershy's gonna make a fortune off those things," Rainbow said, impressed.
When Fluttershy returned to her seat a few minutes later, she was staring at her phone in bewilderment. She looked wildly around at all the people waving at her, eeped, and sank into her seat between Rarity and Sunset.
Rarity raised an eyebrow. "Need my help sewing plushies, darling?"
Fluttershy nodded. "Yes," she said softly. "Goodness, yes. So...so many requests..."
* * * * *
After a break for lunch, the extra credit reports resumed. Many of the students who had gone earlier in the day did not return for the afternoon presentations, but Applejack and Fluttershy were there to watch their friends' presentations.
"Next up is Pinkie Pie," Luna said. Covering her microphone, she muttered, "This should be interesting..."
Pinkie Pie walked out onto the stage, wearing a black suit, her hair slicked down. She coughed into her fist, then approached the microphone. "Good afternoon, Bear Cave," she said in a subdued, professional voice. "My name is Pinkamena Pie, and I am here to present my invention: the Bananalarm." She held up a large sketchpad and flipped it open, revealing a drawing of a device with a banana sticking out of it.
"The problem with traditional alarm clocks is that people ignore them," Pinkie began. "You roll over and hit the snooze button or you just turn it off. Phone alarms are no different—it's easier to ignore them because you don't even have to put any effort into it. So I've created the ultimate solution to the problem of people ignoring their alarms and not waking up on time.
"The Bananalarm is a smart alarm system with special visual sensors designed with facial and body recognition. Unlike traditional alarms, which make an annoying noise until you wake up and turn them off, the Bananalarm is a physical contact alarm system. You simply insert a banana into the Bananalarm's load system, then program in a body orifice of your choice and set the time. When it's time to wake up, the Bananalarm will shove a banana up your selected orifice. Mouth, ear, nose, or elsewhere, you're going to get a banana in it, and believe me, nothing wakes you up faster."
She flipped the page on her sketch pad. The next page held demonstrational diagrams of the Bananalarm in action. Some of them were very...detailed.
A lot of the students in the audience laughed, cheered, or hooted wildly. Pinkie's friends groaned, facepalmed, blushed, and shook their heads with weary sighs.
Principal Celestia blinked rapidly, her mouth pursing into a small 'o'. Luna stared at Pinkie with a flat, unamused expression. Harshwhinny grumbled under her breath.
"Umm. Well. Okay," Principal Celestia eventually said. "That is certainly...creative," she allowed. "Although not entirely...appropriate. It certainly carries the potential to be used for purposes other than what it's...marketed as?"
"As an invention, it fails to serve the advertised purpose," Harshwhinny pointed out. "It is easier to circumvent than a normal alarm clock by simply failing to load a banana into it. Or placing it somewhere that it cannot physically reach you to, ahem...function."
"Then there's...other problems with it," Luna said. "For one, it's a health and safety hazard. Then there's the post-purchase cost of operation. A regular alarm clock just has to be plugged in to work, and only adds a few cents a year to your electric bill. This? You're wasting a banana every time you use it, and that cost could add up over time."
"I'm afraid your Bananalarm invention...just isn't ripe," Celestia said with a game smile.
"I see," Pinkie said. She straightened her tie. "Thank you for your time." She walked off the stage.
"An' y'all made fun'a me for wantin' t' squirt apple juice up mah hoo-hah," Applejack said with a smirk.
"What worries me is her insistence that having a banana shoved up your, ahem, orifices wakes you up fast," Twilight said, eyes wide. "Is that...is that a thing? In her house?"
"I don't know, and I don't wanna know," Rainbow Dash said. She groaned, stretched, and stood. "Well, I'm almost up. Wish me luck!"
* * * * *
Rainbow Dash jogged up onto the stage, grinning and waving. "Right, get ready for an awesome presentation!" she said enthusiastically. She reached into her hair, pulled out a soccer ball, and started bouncing it on her knee. "So, if you've ever played soccer, even if you're not as awesome at it as I am, you've had to wash your balls. And I don't need to tell you, balls can get messy!" Rainbow switched knees, bouncing the ball higher into the air. "Washing your balls yourself with a rag and a water tap is boring and takes forever. There's gotta be a better way, right?" She headed her ball into the crowd, then pulled another one down and sat on it, her legs sprawled out in a very unladylike way. "So I was watchin' a cat lick itself, and I thought of a better way! It's kind of like a car wash, but for your balls." She pulled out a large red sponge from her jacket. "It's got two of these warm, wet, rough sponges that get your nasty balls nice and wet, a vacuum that sucks all the dirt right off 'em, and a dryer that blows on 'em and blows on 'em until those balls are nice an' clean!" She flashed a winning grin...
...to a completely silent auditorium.
Sunset Shimmer facepalmed.
Fluttershy groaned. "Rainbow..." She shook her head and sighed. "Why?"
The judges were staring at Rainbow Dash, eyes wide. "Umm." Celestia coughed. "Th-thank you, Rainbow Dash. Umm...very...creative presentation."
"Positively delightful," Luna said testily.
"No comment," Harshwhinny ground out.
"Please...please sit down," Celestia said. "I'm almost afraid to ask, but Rarity? You're up next."
As Rarity passed Rainbow on her way to the stage, she gave her an ascerbic glare. "Really," she said.
Rainbow blinked. "What?"
With an indignant snort, Rarity passed her and strutted crisply onto the stage. "Good afternoon, everyone," she said primly. "As you well know, I am not an inventor, I am a designer. My forte is fashion, creation of the bold, daring new look. However, as this is an invention assignment, I shall endeavor to dazzle you all with an original product of my creative imagination." She gave a delicate cough. "To that end, I would now love for my precious little sister Sweetie Belle to join me on stage as my assistant for this demonstration."
Sweetie Belle trudged onto the stage, the look on her face screaming 'I don't want to be here'. A large, bulky, very noticable bracelet was clasped around her right wrist, painted gold.
Rarity gave the judges a winning smile. "Has this ever happened to you? You want to spend a leisurely day pampering yourself and shopping with your friends at the mall, but your parents force you to take your delightful little sister and her friends along with you. And, of course, as soon as you're there, she's going to take off on you. I'm sure many of you know the frustration of spending hours trying to find your sister and her friends, watching texts go unanswered, and wasting time you could've spent in a boutique trying on that gorgeous blouse and those perfect indigo jeans waiting for your sister and her friends to show up where you agreed to meet, only to find yourself tracking her down at the other end of the mall because she got the meeting place wrong and didn't bother to text you."
A lot of her classmates were staring wide-eyed at her. The judges blinked. Sweetie Belle looked as though she wanted to be anywhere else.
Rarity cleared her throat. "Which is why I've created what I like to call: the SISTER GET YOUR BUTT OVER HERE THIS INSTANT! bangle." She smiled winningly. "As you can see, Sweetie Belle is sporting the prototype of my device, which is connected through WiFi to a handy smartphone app." She held up her own phone and gave it a model's flourish. "If your dear sister is ignoring your texts and isn't where she's supposed to be when she's supposed to be there, you simply tap the app, and..."
Sweetie Belle suddenly twitched and gave a startled squeak, shaking her wrist.
"ZAP!" Rarity exclaimed. "A repurposed joy buzzer is triggered, giving her a jolt that's sure to get her attention."
Sweetie Belle rubbed her wrist and glared at Rarity as half the audience snickered.
"Oh, that is so not right," Rainbow Dash half-said, half-laughed.
"Only Rarity," Sunset Shimmer muttered with a sigh, shaking her head.
"And what, you might ask, is to keep your charming sister from simply removing the device and tossing it in the nearest trash receptacle? Well..." Rarity gave Sweetie Belle a meaningful look.
Sweetie sighed, rolled her eyes, and took the bangle off. It immediately let off the shrill, piercing shriek of a rape whistle. The judges covered their ears and glared reproachfully at Rarity. Rarity smirked and tapped the app on her phone. The bangle went mercifully silent.
"And there you have it," Rarity said. "With my special bangle, your sister can no longer afford to ignore your texts or forget when and where you were supposed to meet up." She gave Sweetie Belle a catty, half-lidded stare. "Or else."
Sweetie Belle gave a long-suffering sigh and trudged off the stage. Mixed applause followed her.
The judges looked at each other. Luna looked vaguely amused, while Celestia had a note of mild alarm on her face. "Ahem, yes, well..." Celestia coughed. "I'm...not entirely certain your invention is, strictly speaking, legal. It certainly isn't very humane."
"Remarkably effective, however," Harshwhinny noted. "And you deserve some measure of congratulations for actually producing and demonstrating a working prototype. That's actually quite impressive."
"It's definitely...interesting," Luna said. "What's more interesting to me is that it could be turned around and used to corral a self-absorbed, forgetful, recalcitrant older sister as well." She arched an eyebrow. "But was it strictly necessary to publicly humiliate poor Sweetie Belle for the purposes of your little demonstration?"
"Yes," Rarity said crisply. "Yes it was."
"I SAID I'M SORRY!" Sweetie Belle yelled from offstage. A lot of people laughed.
The judges looked at each other and shrugged. "Well, all things considered, you passed and get the extra credit, obviously," Celestia said. "Just...please, bury that thing in a hole and don't get any ideas about marketing it for real."
Rarity blinked. "Why...why I would never! Only the absolute worst person ever would do something like that to their own precious little sis—" She trailed off, then facepalmed. "Set myself up for that, didn't it?" she muttered flatly. Shaking her head, she walked off stage, picking up her invention as she left. Hoots, whistles, cheers, and laughter followed her.
* * * * *
"You're not taking a turn?" Rarity asked Sunset once she rejoined her friends.
Sunset shrugged. "My grades are second in the class. I don't need extra credit. I mean, sure, it's kind of a fun challenge, but I just didn't feel like wasting time on a project I don't even need to do when there's so many other things I do need to focus on." She smirked. "Besides, after watching you all go up there and make fools of yourselves? I'm glad I skipped on this." She sat back in her chair and folded her arms. "So, Twilight, when's your turn?"
"Right after Trixie," Twilight said, adjusting her glasses.
Trixie stood on the stage in her full performing regalia.
"Bears! Has this ever happened to you? You're at the movies on a date, the guy you're with takes you to some action film full of short skirts and explosions, but all the greasy pizza you ate before the movie makes you feel like your colon's about to implode?"
Pinkie Pie scratched her head. "Y'know, something about Trixie's pitch is making my Pinkie Sense itch, but I can't quite put my finger on it!"
* * * * *
Twilight Sparkle stood on the stage, wearing her lab coat, holding a clipboard, her laptop set up on a rolling table. She pushed her glasses up her nose. "Good afternoon, everyone," she said. "Today, I would like to demonstrate my latest invention..."
She pressed a few keys on her laptop. With a pneumatic hiss, the entire stage split open, and a massive cylindrical object pulsing with lights and humming with power emerged onto the stage.
"A DEATH RAY!" Twilight cackled maniacally.
Half the school screamed and ducked for cover. Celestia's eyes widened. Luna was already halfway to calling the police. Twilight covered her mouth and giggled. "Just kidding," she said. "It's a hyperspace pulse beacon." She pressed a few more keys, and the thing lit up brightly, tilting skyward. A heavy thrum shook the school.
"Alright, so...what exactly did that do?" Celestia asked as Luna slowly put away her phone.
And then the roof above them split open, a golden beam of light shining down on the stage.
A tall, spindly creature with a bulbous head, huge, black eyes, grey-green skin, no nose or ears, and a tiny mouth appeared on the stage, dressed in flowing silver-white robes. It raised a three-fingered hand in greeting.
"That," Twilight said. "It does that."