Professor Argall let out a lazy yawn, staring off into the nighttime moon. "Anyways," He began slowly, "I guess I'll be sticking around for a bit longer. It's not like I really have anywhere else to go at the moment..." The man glanced towards Lisa with a grin. "And besides, I'd rather spend some time with an old student of mine anyways. Retirement be darned, I just get bored with life when I don't have anythin' to do."
A distant breeze whistled through the streets, earning a surprised yelp from the girl as her vision was covered with a flurry of hair. "Ugh." Lisa began, rolling her eyes as she swiped her hair out of her vision, "Professor, any idea why these... cities are so far from each other? Are all the cities around here like this?"
Argall shook his head. "Hardly, Lisa." He scratched is head as he stared down the empty nighttime streets, leaning back against the siding of the City Hall building. "This specific little bundle of cities that make up your Sustenance Sector, or whatever they call 'em, is just a bit isolated. That's all."
"W-what do you mean?"
The Professor shrugged. "Hey, it wasn't my decision when it was voted to keep the people in the simulations out of the way of regular society. Personally, I would've preferred if it was more of a portable setup. Y'know?"
Lisa shook her head, brushing another stray lock of hair from her face. "So, you're saying that not everyone is in the simulations?"
"Nope." The old man said nonchalantly with another shrug. "You even went as far as to argue that you yourself should be put, as you specifically stated, 'far away in the middle of nowhere', just because you were paranoid of something going wrong and causing harm to others."
"Huh." Lisa whispered to herself. "That certainly explains why I was so far away from the others when I first woke."
Professor Argall glanced towards the girl. "What was that?"
"Oh, nothing." Lisa brushed off the question, "Just talking to myself a bit."
"Well then..." Argall began with a grunt, pulling himself off the ground. "I'd say that we had a nice little chat tonight. You'd better get to bed soon, Lisa. We've both got a long day ahead of us."
The girl nodded, turning to leave before she was stopped by a final question from the old Professor.
"Oh, and say hi to Samantha for me, eh? I saw her earlier around here, but I couldn't quite catch up with her."
So. Lisa thought to herself as she ascended the steps of City Hall. He does remember.
"Hey, Twilight." Timothy greeted, swinging his legs over the side of Lisa's bed. "How was the conversation with that Professor of yours?"
Lisa shrugged. "Interesting, I guess. I'm really not all that sure of what to think about this whole situation yet." She sat down beside the boy with a huff. "Well, to begin, it turns out that in a way, Professor Argall is Starswirl the Bearded, but only in a way that was meant as a joke."
Timothy snorted in amusement. "Yeah, and?" He said impatiently, staring at the girl.
"Second, there's an entirely different world out there, beyond the cities that we've been living in for the past week or so."
"Understandable." Timothy agreed, "Go on."
"What I mean is," Lisa continued, "not everybody is in a simulation. Apparently, most people still live outside of them."
Timothy went silent, staring out the window with wide eyes as he let the girl's words sink in.
"Timoth--I mean, Spike." Lisa called, "I wasn't done yet. Do you want to hear the rest?"
The boy shook his head, getting up and making his way to the door. "Nah, I think I've heard enough for the day. I'm going to bed now, so just knock or something if you need me. Alright?"
Putting on a friendly grin, Lisa nodded. "Yeah. Goodnight, Spike."
The sound of the door's clack reverberated throughout the room for a brief moment. Once again, the room went silent. Lisa collapsed onto her bed, blowing a stray lock of hair from her face with an irritated huff.
I need a haircut. The girl realized, slowly drifting into sleep. It's been a while since I've let it down like this...
Lisa winced as the soft rays of the morning sun blasted down on her face. "Ugh." She groaned slowly, turning in her bed as she pulled her blanket over her face. "So that's how it's gonna be. I wake up from a dreamless sleep to blindness..."
"Twi-light!" Samantha's voice called through the open window, "Wakey time, sleepyhead! That funny professor guy from the meeting told me to say hi to you!"
"Not now, Pinkie..." Lisa shouted back groggily, "Lemme just have my sleep."
"What if I told you that mister professor guy is down here with me?"
Lisa jerked awake, clamoring to her window and gazing out. Sure enough, Professor Argall stood beside Samantha, a warm grin spread across his face.
"Okay, okay." The girl replied, darting through the doorway. "I'm coming!"
Moments later, she burst through the doors of City Hall. "Alright, I'm here! What do you wanna talk about, Professor?"
Argall gestured towards the ecstatic girl beside him. "Not much, but I definitely see that Samantha here certainly made her word on merging herself with the intelligence she created. Heck, if she looked any different, I wouldn't have been able to tell that she was your friend at all!"
Samantha eagerly nodded beside the man. "Yeah, I mean, when he first started out calling me Samantha, I was all like, 'Ooh, who are you?' and then he was like, 'Ah, so don't you remember your old professor?' so I had to think and think until I finally--"
Lisa placed a finger over her friend's mouth. "Okay, Pinkie. We get it." She turned back to Argall. "So, do you want any breakfast?"
Professor Argall shrugged. "Beats me." He began with a chuckle, "Last time I remember you tried cooking, the pressure cooker exploded! You should've seen the janitor's face when I told the guy what happened."
"Ha!" Samantha threw her arms into the air. "I bet it just went all boomy-kablooey!"
"Oh, no no no." The girl quickly clarified, "I'm not the one doing the cooking. Um... let's see. So, you know how there were others besides me and Samantha that joined the simulations later on?"
"Hey, Twilight." Timothy greeted as the three entered the lunchroom, "That the Professor you were talking about last night?"
Professor Argall nodded proudly, stepping up to the boy with his hand outstretched. "You must be that Timothy boy that Lisa here keeps talking about. Word has it that you were her, and as I quote, 'Assistant and companion to the point of having a familial bond to her'. Am I correct, Lisa?"
"H-hey!" Timothy blurted before anybody could answer, "You didn't have to tell him everything, y'know!"
"She didn't have to, but she wanted to!" Samantha argued, snatching a pancake from the boy.
Lisa shrugged. After all... she thought to herself, It gave us something to talk about on our way here...
The girl turned to the the towering stack of pancakes, then back to Timothy, a silent brow raised.
This time, it was his turn to shrug. "Don't look at me," The boy countered, "I don't have any idea how much he's gonna eat."
"Oh, me? I'm fine." The Professor quickly dismissed, shaking his head with a cocky grin. "I gotta watch my calories. My parents always told me to grow up, not sideways... Though, by all means, those pancakes you got there sure look tasty. Perhaps one or two should serve me fine."
"Suit yourself." Timothy grumbled, eliciting a slight chuckle from Lisa as he slid a couple pancakes onto a plate. "More for me and Twilight."
The room fell into a tranquil quiet as the four turned their focus onto breakfast, broken occasionally by the clinking of silverware.
"So." Professor Argall began, setting down his fork, "Samantha, I take that everything's going well mentally for you?"
Samantha glanced up from ground zero of her pancake carnage. "Huh? Well, I--"
A series of short beeps came from the Professor's pocket, interrupting the girl. "Whoops.” The man began, pulling out a cellphone as he stood up. “Hold that thought, Sam. Gotta answer a thing real quick, alright?"
“Okay!” Samantha grinned, grabbing her temples. “I’m holding it!”
The Professor wandered from the room, leaving the remaining three at the table. Lisa sighed gently, resting her head on a hand as her gaze set on Samantha, who began to idly fiddle with her bangs as she “held her thoughts”.
It’s been a little while now since you’ve surfaced, Samantha. The girl continued watching her friend’s antics. You still there, Sam?
Lisa froze, catching her train of thought. Wait… Her eyes narrowed as she became fixated on the windows. Was I really just wishing for Pinkie’s alter-ego to come out?
Shaking her head, the girl brushed away the thought.
Professor Argall returned to the room almost immediately after, a slow stroll in his legs. “Well,” He began solemnly, “Seems like most of the simulations just went back online a couple minutes ago. I guess this’ll be goodbye for us?”
Lisa’s eyes widened at the man’s words.