The Maker

by kovabomb

"Please Don't Eat My Brains"

“So, what do you think? Chimi-cherrys or Cherry-changas?” Pinkie asked.

What’s the difference?

“Well, duh! One is cherries prepared like chimichangas, the other is chimichangas filled with cherries. I spent moons getting the flavors and textures just right!” Pinkie’s logic was not to be questioned on this point. That much was clear.

OK. Well, since I’ve never tried them, how about...

“You’ve never tried them?!” Pinkie was flabbergasted. “Oh, you’re missing out! They’re one of my signature treats!”

Twilight Sparkle looked on with growing agitation as she finished cleaning off a small table in a corner of the lab. Her unease wasn’t from Pinkie’s antics or Stephanie’s reactions, but from Spike’s continued absence. He hadn’t been gone long yet, but the clock continued to tick. Had Stephanie or another Observer discovered what he was supposed to be doing? Or was he just taking his time in the kitchen? The questions kept simmering in her mind.

Thankfully, it was at that moment that the young dragon made his appearance.

“Hey, everypony! Tea’s ready!” Spike called as he stepped through the door, a loaded tea tray in his claws.

“Oh, thank you, Spike,” Twilight said, trying to mask her relief. Stephanie was still listening after all. The young mare trotted over to meet her assistant, stealing a glance at what could be seen of their extraordinary guest to ensure her figurative back was still turned. Twilight glanced at the tray Spike carried, then met the dragon’s eyes. “It looks like you took care of… everything,” she said, a question hidden behind that last word.

Spike answered with a wink. “Yes, Twilight, I took care of everything.” With a subtle body gesture, he indicated his supply of writing utensils and the letter stowed within. Twilight visibly relaxed, drawing a grin from the dragon. “Did I miss anything important in here?”

“Yeah, you missed out on the kind of parties and party foods Stephanie likes!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Don’t worry; I’ll fill you in later. That way we can plan her Welcome-to-Equestria party together.”

The Observer made no written response to that.

Twilight lit her horn and carried the tea tray from Spike’s grasp toward the short-legged and potion-stained table. “I’m sure that will be fun Pinkie, but now that Spike is back I’d like to start with some of my own questions.” With a clink, the tray was placed on the table and the young Alicorn began to lay out the plates and cups.

“Oh, sure!” the bubbly mare said as she took her place at the table. “Wouldn’t want to hog all the bonding time.” Pinkie sat to Twilight’s left, across from where Spike had taken his seat at the square table. Following the Equestrians’ lead, the floating text box that marked Stephanie’s perspective turned and made its way over to the impromptu tea, situating its self at eye level across from Twilight Sparkle and correcting its orientation once again.

“Sugar for you, Pinkie Pie?” Twilight asked, hefting both the tea kettle and sugar pot. The pink pony nodded eagerly. “Say when,” Twilight remarked as she began measuring out what many would consider an obscene portion of sweetener. A word from Pinkie, a tip of the kettle and a flick of a spoon later and the young mare was joyfully sipping away. Wordlessly, but with affection, Twilight then prepared a cup for Spike. They had taken tea together so many times that they knew each other’s preferred mixtures by heart. Then, before serving herself, Twilight politely asked their guest “How do you like your tea, Stephanie?”

The artist blinked. What did Twilight just ask? Stephanie quickly turned her perspective to take in the scene at the table. The three characters were sitting expectantly while Twilight levitated the kettle above a tea cup set out where Stephanie was “sitting.” The ponies were trying to serve her tea.

Stephanie’s eyes fell to her hand then returned to the screen. After a moment of hesitation, she traced her “pen” across the sensor pad and hovered the cursor on the screen over the image of the tea cup. Another beat passed. She was sure she knew what would happen, but it was worth a shot. She tapped the stylus.

Nothing. As expected.

Then, on a crazy whim, Stephanie set down the tool and raised her hand in front of her. She paused one second more, contemplating the shear absurdity of the idea in her head. But, given how absurd this whole encounter had been so far, she was willing to bet that just about anything was possible now. She deliberately pushed her hand into the screen.

The seconds ticked by, each one adding to the awkward silence in the room. Twilight nervously watched the floating panel of reversed text as it stared back at her. What was Stephanie doing? Did she not like tea? Had Twilight done something to offend her? The array of vibes she was getting from the Observer didn’t seem to say so. It almost felt like she was worried about something, yet hopeful. Much like how Twilight felt when she would debate with herself over something. Was Stephanie trying to decide if she wanted tea? No, that choice would not have taken this long to make. Then it occurred to her: how would their guest even drink the tea?

Finally, with a splash of self-derision and disappointment, the force field turned around and new words began to form upon it.

I like my tea with a spoonful of sugar, but there’s just one problem.

Twilight knew the answer. “You can’t reach through and take the cup, can you,” she said.

There was a surprised pause, followed by Stephanie’s rueful response.

Yes. Exactly. Remember, I’m not actually in the same room with you right now. I’m talking to you over a great distance.

Spike sat with a confused expression. “Wait, what? I thought that…” The words died on his lips as comprehension dawned in the dragon’s eyes. “Oh…, right,” he said sheepishly. “You’re looking at us through a window or portal or something. And if we can’t reach through it, then I guess you can’t either.”

That’s right.

“What?!” Pinkie exclaimed, a look of consternation crossing her face. “But that means that you won’t be able to try my Chimi-cherries or Cherry-changas. Not even your own Welcome-to-Equestria cake!” The confectioner’s face fell. “What a bummer,” she said dejectedly.

“I’m sorry,” Twilight consoled as she set down the tea pot. “I guess we all made the same assumption. But, it’s the thought that counts.” With a slight blush of embarrassment, Twilight began to clear away the extra tea setting.

“Hey! What are you doing?” Pinkie blurted.

The teacup, saucer, and plate shuddered to a halt in Twilight’s magic. The Alicorn was confused. “Umm, Pinkie, if Stephanie can’t use these things then why have them out?” she said. It would be rude to taunt somepony with something they could not have, after all.

Pinkie smiled, a twinkle in her eye. “Just because she can’t use them doesn’t mean they’re not useful,” she answered. The pink pony beckoned for the flatware to be set in front of the visitor again. Still confused but willing to play along, Twilight complied. After making a few adjustments to the placement, Pinkie sat back to consider her work. “See? Helps add to the illusion.”

Twilight Sparkle looked back towards the Observer’s window. It looked like a floating sheet of white hanging over an empty table setting. At least, at first it did. But as she looked, her mind’s eye began taking liberties. The box of writing could be substituted for a head and Twilight could almost imagine a body sitting beneath it. Add to it the dishes on the table and it did indeed start to look like somepony was actually sitting there.

The magical window turned for a moment and glanced at the table setting. A mirthful vibe seemed to emanate from the Observer. Then she gave her opinion.

If it helps you at all, then I’m fine with it. I don’t mind.

Pinkie Pie’s satisfied smile spoke for its self. Or rather, squeaked.

“Well… OK then,” Twilight said at last, settling onto her haunches. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, she thought. If it moved things forward, she wouldn’t complain. She took her pad and quill in her magic and marked the heading. “I think we can get started.”

Ask away.

With great anticipation, the studious mare did just that. It was time to get down to business.

“Well, you said just now that you’re talking to us over a great distance,” Twilight noted. “So the obvious first question would be: From where? Where do you come from?”

There was a pause. It felt almost like Stephanie was deliberating her response. But the moment soon passed and the first answer came.

I’m in a city called Vancouver, in a country called Canada. Do either of those names mean anything to you?

“Van-cou-ver?” Spike queried. “I’ve heard of a Van-hoo-ver, over on the west coast. Is that what you mean?”

“I don’t think so, Spike,” Twilight said. “Vanhoover is still in Equestria, just north of Tall Tail. I’ve never heard of a country called ‘Canada’ before.” With a flash of magic, the young Alicorn summoned a globe from the library and set it next to her. After a moment of studying the device, she shook her head. “Nope, there’s not a Canada anywhere on this map.” A chill trickled down her spine as the implications of what she’d just said fully registered.

Pinkie Pie must have caught on as well, for she was the one who voiced the question. “Ooh, does that mean you’re from another world?” she asked excitedly. Then her eyes lit up as she made another mental connection. She leaned forward. “Are you an Alien?! I’ve never met an Alien before. This is so cool! Are there other Aliens with you? What’s your flying saucer like?” The pink mare stopped abruptly, eyes wide. Her ears splayed back and she looked awkwardly around the table at the appalled looks of her friends. “Oops. Sorry. That was rude.” She sat down and looked apologetically back at the floating panel. “Please don’t eat my brains.”

There was a stupefied silence as the occupants of the room tried to sort through the wreckage that had just been their thought trains. Spike shook his head vigorously to clear the dust cloud within it. “Uh, Pinkie,” he said, “I think you’ve been reading a little too much science fiction.”

Twilight gave a nervous chuckle, a tick coming to her eye. “Y-Yeah,” she stuttered. “I mean Stephanie could technically be called an ‘alien,’ she not being from Equestria and all, but that doesn’t mean she’s a brain-eating extra-equestrial here to take over the planet. Right?”

NO! I’m not! We may be from different worlds and we may be different species, but I promise I mean you no harm.

Stephanie’s words splashed across the text box as quickly and accurately as they could. Though still very faint, the Observer’s feelings of shock and panic were the strongest vibes Twilight had ever felt. Twilight could sense Stephanie’s desire to calm the ponies’ fears. It was a feeling Twilight recognized: not wanting to lose a friend.

Pinkie Pie’s embarrassment fled her face almost as quickly as it had come. “Oh. So, no flying saucers?” She asked.

The worry seeping from the other-worldly wall ebbed a bit and was again mixed with a hint of amusement.

Sorry, Pinkie. No flying saucers.

“Awe, that would’ve been so cool,” Pinkie sighed.

Twilight took a deep breath to steady her nerves and coax her train of thought back onto the tracks. She still didn’t understand how Pinkie could veer off onto such wild tangents with even the simplest of ideas. But more often than not those tangents yielded something worthwhile. Such was the case now.

“Well, at least that answers one question,” Twilight breathed, her quill resuming its recording work. “You’re from a different world. Now, that prompts me to ask: What kind of world? What I mean is, are you from a different planet or another reality entirely?”

Once again, there was a silence from Stephanie’s end. But unlike the previous pauses, there was no hint of indecision from the Observer. In fact, there was almost nothing emanating from her at all, just a confused trickle. And with all that had been flowing from her since the conversation had begun, that was puzzling. But before Twilight could form her thoughts on this oddity, Stephanie began to write out her response.

In all honesty, I’m not sure. Different planets? Yes. Different dimension? More than likely, but I don’t know.

Now it was Twilight’s turn to pause. True, it had been shown that the Observers were not omniscient, but this? It flew in the face of every conclusion Twilight had made about them thus far! “How is that possible?” Twilight asked in disbelief. “You’ve been watching us all this time; how can you not know where your world is relative to ours? How can you even contact us if you don’t know?” Beyond the catch-all of random chance, it just wasn’t probable. And with the behavior the Observers had displayed up to now, the Alicorn researcher refused to accept mere happenstance as an explanation.

With a conciliatory sympathy, Stephanie responded.

I’m sorry Twilight, but I don’t have a solid answer for you. This whole situation is as new to me as it is for you and I want to understand it just as much as you do.

Twilight was aghast. Everything she thought she knew about these creatures was falling apart around her and she couldn’t understand why. “But… but you couldn’t have just stumbled across Equestria by accident!” Twilight ranted. “With all the time you’ve spent watching us and the way you’ve followed my friends and I, it… it just… it doesn’t make sense!” As much as she tried to contain herself, Twilight could feel her temper rising. She couldn’t allow that. Not now.

With a frustrated grunt and the stamp of a hind hoof, the frazzled mare shut her eyes. She took a deep breath, brought her foreleg to her chest, then breathed out slowly as she extended her limb. She repeated the action, letting the stress flow out and her mind settle. One by one, the unsupported assumptions Twilight had been hanging on to fell away, leaving only the facts she had in the forefront of her thoughts. Questions and suppositions still roiled in her head, but she felt much better now. She opened her eyes and put on a smile. “Sorry about that,” she apologized. “Just had to let go of some ideas that were… getting in the way.”

Concern was evident from each of the other occupants of the room, but it was tempered by knowing looks and feelings. Both Pinkie and Spike had seen this side of Twilight before and they had grown to live with it. Stephanie, while a bit more apprehensive, also seemed to be accepting of the Alicorn’s outburst. The creature might not have been omniscient, but she was familiar with Twilight and her friends. That at least was certain.

It’s alright, Twilight. I can only imagine how confusing this must be to you. But between the four of us, I’m sure we can puzzle this out.

It was indeed confusing. Normally Twilight didn’t like confusing. She and Confusing usually didn’t get along well in the slightest. But this time, perhaps things would be different. Despite floating in the sea of the unknown, she was sharing that unknown with friends. And a very interesting creature who apparently shared Twilight’s desire for knowledge. “Yes,” the young Alicorn said at last. “Yes, I’m positive we will.”

Stephanie seemed to radiate satisfaction for a moment. But then her mood changed abruptly, as if in realization. New words began to flash across the field.

You said “watching us all this time.” How long have you known that you’ve been watched?

Now that was more along the lines of expectation that Twilight had harbored. Still, it was a fair question. And knowing that this was a new experience on both ends, almost any question could yield positive results. “Well, it was brought to my attention only a few weeks ago,” Twilight replied. “But Pinkie Pie here has apparently been able to sense you from the time I first came to Ponyville.”

There was a small surge of surprise from the Observer, though not nearly as big as others had been. Again, if felt as if Stephanie had somewhat expected this of the Pink Party Pony, but was genuinely impressed.

Really? All that time?

“Yep!” Pinkie chirped. “Didn’t know what my Pinkie Sense was telling me at first, but I figured it out. With that warm-and-fuzzy tummy and all those nice feelings to go with it, it wasn’t too hard to guess. It’s like what you feel when you’re up on stage with all those ponies and all those eyes looking up at you, watching your every move, but in a good way.” She took another swig from her teacup, then passed it to Twilight for a refill.

Well, knowing Pinkie Pie, I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised.

There it was again: That uncanny knowledge of Pinkie Pie and their ring of friends. There had to be some explanation for it! It was a real thorn in Twilight’s side, not knowing that answer. It was one of the most important questions, but seemingly one of the more complicated as well. The lavender mare took a deep breath and kept that particular pot stewing on the back burner of her mind. It would come in time. It had to. It would not be a pretty sight if that caldron of mystery soup boiled over.

Having reset herself, Twilight glanced at her pad and fielded another question. Perhaps this one would get a better answer. “Right, so moving back towards my first set of questions,” Twilight said, “Can you tell us more about your kind? Your species, I mean. You did mention you were different from ponies after all and I am curious to know what you call yourselves. I mean, we’ve just been calling you 'The Observers' until now.”

This question seemed to sit more comfortably with Stephanie, as there was no major hesitation nor apprehension this time. She cleared her field and began to answer.

We call ourselves humans. We are the only sentient and sapient species on our world, but we are very determined and very creative.

Twilight gave a start. She knew of humans! Or at least some form of them. Was this Stephanie somehow from the world Sunset Shimmer resided in? That could answer a few things, but it raised a whole new set of questions. She would need to clarify later though, as Stephanie was still writing.

In terms of what we look like, I think the closest thing you could compare us to in your world would be Minotaurs. We stand upright on two legs and

Stephanie cut off for a moment, seeming to question what she was doing. Then she resumed.

Actually, let me sketch something out for you.

A second white field appeared beside the one Stephanie had been writing on, though this one had no flashing black bar. Then, lines began to appear on the field. Some of them looked as though they were drawn by a magical pen, flowing out in curves. Others were more ridged and appeared all at once, after which they would bend and move into place. In short order, a clear picture began to form. The ponies and dragon watched in fascination as the image of a being took shape on the apparent canvas. “Wow!” Pinkie Pie intoned. “So you’re an artist alien! That’s awesome!”

Stephanie paused a moment and chuckled. This was without a doubt the most interesting conversation she had ever had in her life! She set down her stylus a moment to type out “Thank you, Pinkie. That means a lot,” then continued to draw.

It was something that came naturally to her. She loved to draw and create. She counted herself lucky that her line of work also coincided with her talents and passions. Her hands moved quickly and surely, deftly manipulating the tools at her fingers. She almost managed to forget just how strange this day had become.

Within minutes, a sketch of a human woman was completed. It may not have been The Vitruvian Man, but it got the point across and was a fairly actuate portrait of herself. Stephanie gave a nod of approval. Almost on instinct, she tapped her stylus and input one final command. A command that, had she been doing her normal job, would have been routine to finish an image in the software and turn it into something she could manipulate in the scene. But here and now it triggered something quite different.

Twilight gazed at the image in wonder. There was no mistaking that form! These observers were indeed similar to the beings she had encountered on the other side of the magic mirror! Whether or not they were from the exact same world remained to be seen, but the mare’s mind was quite boggled none the less.

Then it went from boggled to rattled and shocked in a flash. Literally. There was a brilliant flash of light from Stephanie’s window. The Alicorn felt a surge of power twist through her horn, hooves and wings. It was as if a very powerful spell of raw, unrestrained magic had just been cast. Her shout of surprise was joined by those of Pinkie’s and Spike’s.

Then, there was a flutter. The bookish mare instantly recognized the sound of paper falling through the air and landing on a surface. She cleared her eyes and gawked at what she saw. There, on the table, was a pristine and perfectly white sheet of the exact dimensions that Stephanie had used for her drawing canvas. The image the human had drawn sat upon it, unmoving and exactly as it had been in the window. It appeared for all the world like a page taken from a sketch pad. Twilight glanced up. The second white field was no longer on the window.

A deathly silence ruled the room for a moment. Then a pink hoof reached out and plucked the page from the table. “Oooooooh!” Pinkie Pie breathed. “She’s a gooooood artist.”

Twilight shook her head vigorously, her thought train once again in ruins miles off its tracks. Had she not been so flabbergasted, she would have let loose with a string of pony expletives and a river of questions right then. As it was, Spike managed to find his voice first.

“What the hay?!” the young drake cried, snatching the drawing from Pinkie. “You can do magic?!”

There was a crash of shock and surprise from Stephanie’s window, followed by a splash of words.

That wasn’t supposed to happen! I didn’t realize that I could do that!

Didn’t know she could?! Twilight felt like she was on a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster on an airship a mile in the sky with her wings strapped to her sides. How could this Observer… this Human not know that she could do what she did?! How did she even have magic at all?! Humans didn’t have magic! At least, not that she knew of. Was this confirmation that these observing humans were indeed different from the ones across the mirror?

Again, Twilight’s torrent of questions was preempted, this time by Pinkie Pie. “Can you do it again???” The pink pony’s eyes were excited and eager, like a foal who had received a new toy.

There was a pause, Twilight’s river of inquiries blocked and bottled in anticipation by this new request. Stephanie didn’t give an immediate reply, but after a moment her cautious but curious words came.

I don’t know. Let me try something else.

A new image began to form on the window. This one was not laid out on a white field, the black lines of the sketch simply appearing in midair. At first, there was just a circle. Then the circle was filled with red. A few decorative yellow spots appeared on the red filling, followed by a small highlight off to the side. It looked like a drawing of a small toy ball.

There was a sudden flash, the same as before. The next instant, something dropped to the table, bounced a few times, then rolled over the potion-stained surface and into Twilight’s hooves. A red toy ball sat innocently before her, its very existence taunting her rational and reasonable mind.

Silence again ruled the room, no one able to speak as they came to grips with what had just happened. Pinkie’s eyes were alight with the possibilities and thoughts of fun. Spike’s eyes were wild and confused. Twilight’s eyes were pinpricks of amazement and alarm. And yet somehow, each one was thinking the same things. What else could Stephanie make? What else could she do?!

Activity from the human visitor drew the attention of the ponies and dragon, new words appearing before them.

Perhaps we should end our session here for now. I think there’s a lot we all have to think about and people we all need to talk to. I promise that I will be back and that we will continue our discussion. Perhaps tomorrow. And with this new power I apparently have, I might be able to come up with something that might make it easier for us to communicate. Does that sound good to you?

Twilight shook herself again and gave a nervous chuckle. “Uh,… yes… yes that sounds like a good idea. You… you go talk with your people and we’ll… we’ll pick this up tomorrow. In the morning. At 8:00. Does that work for you?” The Alicorn was trying and failing to make her voice sound calm and collected. So much to do! So much to learn! So many questions! So many implications! Would Equestria ever be the same?!

Yes. I will be available then. Hopefully. I will have the window here in the lab again tomorrow at 8:00.

There was a pause, then Stephanie added a small addendum.

What time is it for you right now?

Spike checked the clock. “It’s about 11:30 in the morning. Almost lunch time.”

Another splash of surprise colored Stephanie’s faint vibes.

That’s actually very close to the time it is here for us. Very well. Tomorrow at 8. I will see you then.

Without further ado, the mysterious and magical window disappeared, zipping toward and then through the wall of the castle as if it was made of cloud.

Stephanie quickly re-positioned the view of her “camera,” leaving Ponyville far afield and then rising high into the sky. From her new vantage, the Equestrian town was quite small and clouds lazily drifted by. She had thought at first to close the program, but had quickly thought better of it. She didn’t know if she would be able to re-establish contact if the window was closed. She hoped that from the window’s new location, the ponies would not be aware of the strange connection or her continued presence.

She sank back in her seat, breathing a huge sigh. However, she did not relax. Her mind was going a million miles a minute, trying to process everything that had just happened. Again and again she tried to reason that it had all been a dream or prank, but a glance at the still open window shattered her rationalizations each time.

After a few minutes of floundering contemplation and getting her mind into a semblance of order, Stephaney sat up and began to go to work. She minimized the strange window and opened a new project; a blank and clean project rather than a saved one. To Stephanie’s relief, the new window behaved normally. She could work in the program without interfering with the Equestrian window.

Next, she picked up her phone and dialed a very important number. “Meghan!” Stephanie said after a brief dial tone, “I need you and Jayson to get down to my office right away. Something… well, something big has happened!” There was a confused pause on the other end of the line and then a concerned question. “No, nothing’s wrong. At least, not yet. But… well, I think you’re going to have to see it to believe it. Heck, I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself.” Another pause, then Stephanie nodded. “Okay, but please be quick. And see if you can get any of the other senior staff in here too. This is… huge!” With that, she hung up.

That task taken care of, Stephanie sighed and slumped in her chair again. After a short spell of quiet, she sat back up and began to fiddle with the blank project, working the tools in an attempt to craft something she could use in the meeting she had promised to have with the ponies the next day. A stone settled in her gut as that thought percolated through her head. She wouldn’t be sleeping tonight, that was for certain.