by TheMajorTechie


"Twilight, don't you remember?" Timothy pleaded, "You're Twilight Sparkle, you live in Equestria. I'm Spike, remember?"

Lisa shook her head.

"Twi--" Timothy pleaded again, his cry cut off by Samantha.

"Tim." Samantha began, "It's okay. She's still your big sister, isn't she? She'll be fine."

The boy sniffed, nodding. Samantha turned back to her friend. "Lisa," she said slowly, "what's the last thing you remember?"

"I... I was talking to someone." Lisa mumbled, fidgeting with her bedsheets under her. "I think they wanted me to read my diary?"

Silence fell over the room as the girl paused, thinking. She glanced over at her overturned diary sitting on the desk. The bed creaked beneath her as she leaned over, first tracing her fingers along the spine of the book, and finally picking up the diary itself. Lisa sat back up, flipping through the worn pages to the final entry.

She leaned in closer, inspecting the faded eraser marks crisscrossing the page.

Samantha let out a groan. "It's probably nothing, Lisa." She began, folding her arms over her chest. "Twilight was very studious, like you. She probably just wanted to find out more about your past."

"No, no. It's not that," The girl shook her head, still scrutinizing the diary's pages. She looked back to her friend. "Samantha, how long have I been in the simulation?"

Samantha scratched her head, staring up to the ceiling. "Geez..." she grumbled to herself, "How long has it been?" She turned back to Lisa. "I'd have to say roughly a decade by now, give or take a year or so. Why'd you ask?"

"I... I think I'm starting to remember a bit more now," Lisa nodded, "I just needed to know how far back it was."

"Oh?" Timothy gasped, pouncing onto the bed beside Lisa, "Like what? What do you remember?"

Lisa smiled, patting her little brother on the head. "Well for starters, if it's really been that long since my last diary entry, then that kinda explains why I remember so little."

"Lisa, you've been outside of the simulation for over two weeks now." Samantha deadpanned.

The smile faded, replaced instead by a grim expression. "Really now." Lisa commented, "It's been that long already?"

Samantha nodded.

Lisa returned her gaze to her diary's pages. "Anyways," she continued, "I was gonna mention how I kinda remember what happened over the past few days."

"'Kay," Samantha gestured, "go on then."

Lisa took a breath, setting her diary aside. "Well," she began, "for starters, I remember a gruelingly-long car trip..." Lisa paused, trailing off for a moment as she struggled to recollect her memories. "...and, there was a man with us in the car-- not Timothy though. I... I believe his name was--"

"Andrew." Samantha finished for her friend, "He doesn't really matter. We all know that car trip already."

Timothy raised a finger in protest but held back.

"Anyways," Samantha continued, "just tell us what you remember about Twilight. She went crazy just this morning, and I had to remove her to keep you from getting hurt."

Lisa snorted, a brow raised. "If you want to know about Twilight, then why don't you just ask her?"

"No, no." Samantha shook her head, "You don't understand still, Lisa. Twilight was you. You and Twilight were one and the same ever since you entered the simulation we created together. She was your character."

Lisa quieted, letting Samantha's words process. "Wait." She suddenly blurted, "Wait a sec, I do know that. You said Twilight was my character, right?"


"And you know the way we integrated the characters into the simulation was through the transmitters?"

"Yup." Samantha nodded. She paused for a moment before a grin spread across her face. "Oh... Oh, I know what you're leading into."

"Why don't we take a trip to our old home away from home?"

Samantha shrugged, pulling her car keys from her pocket. "Idunno," she grinned, "do you want a nostalgia trip?"

"Holy crap, Sam! You got a car?!"

"I bought it myself once the company boomed." Samantha shrugged, stuffing the keys back into her pocket. She turned to her handbag, rummaging around inside it before pulling out a small, white box. "This here's your transmitter," she began, tossing the box at Lisa, "we can hook it up to the computers in our office and see what Twilight can remember about this whole ordeal."

"Wait!" Timothy chimed in, breaking his silence for the first time in minutes. "Twilight was acting all weird earlier before Samantha came. Don't you remember, Tw... er, Lisa"

Lisa shook her head, standing from her bed and ruffling her brother's hair. "I'm sure we can fix her, Tim." She smiled, glancing to the carrying case in her hand. "C'mon, let's head to the place that started it all."

Argall's car rolled up on the driveway as the three exited the house. The old professor stepped out of the vehicle, squinting in the midday sun. "Hey," he waved, "What're you doing here so early, Samantha?"

Before Samantha could answer, Lisa strolled up to Argall. "It's because of me." she began, "According to her and Timothy, something went wrong with Twilight."

The Professor nodded. "Alright then," he turned to Samantha's own car parked beside him. "I'm assuming Samantha's driving you?"

Samantha jingled her keys in response.

"'Kay. Just call me if you need something." Professor Argall mumbled, lumbering into the house with the groceries. "I'll just be here at home."

The door shut with a click. Lisa turned back to her friend, a brow raised. "What's up with Professor Dad?"

Samantha shook her head. "Pretty sure he's still bewildered by the fact that you're actually here again." She replied, jingling the keys again. "C'mon, let's head off to the office now."

The car whirred to a halt before the small building. Lisa tightened her grip around the small box, its rounded edges slipping between her fingers as she stared at the building she'd spent days on end working in.

"Welp." Samantha chirped, cutting the engine. "We're here, Lis!"

"Looks a bit... old," Lisa commented, undoing her seatbelt. "I thought that by now, our company would've moved on to something bigger. Y'know?"

Samantha shrugged, opening the door as the keys dangled in her grasp, her handbag already hanging on her shoulder. "Argall wanted to keep the place for you. Said something about keeping things the way you liked them." She stuffed her hands in her pockets, bumping the car door shut and wandering to the dusty glass doors of the building. "Anyways, the new HQ is just a bit further down the road. I could probably give you a tour later if you'd like."

Lisa nodded, shutting the car door after her brother. "So," she trailed on with a comedic smirk, "what you're basically saying is that Argall's been obsessing over the fact that I liked this place."

"Well," Samantha snorted in return, "when you put it like that, you just make the guy seem like a creep. I'm sure he just kept things the way they are because he wanted you to be comfortable when you returned."

Lisa stretched, yawning in the midday sunlight before making her way to the doors of the office. "Anyways, now that we're here, we should probably get to work. Y'know?"

"Yup." Samantha agreed, unlocking the front doors with a turn of the key.

A wall of cool, musty air hit the trio as she pulled the door open. Lisa's eyes widened, the girl smiling as the familiar view of the office spread before her eyes.

Samantha strode into the building, turning to face her friend. "It's hard to think that this, of all places, is where we began." She commented, motioning for Lisa and Timothy. "The old office."

"You mean our old office." Lisa corrected with a chuckle. She paused, glancing about at the dust-coated surfaces around her. "...With an emphasis on old." She continued on. "Did the Professor really keep things exactly the way they were?"

Samantha nodded. She looked to Timothy, who continued to remain silent, trailing behind his sister as she entered the lobby. "Hey," she began gesturing for him to come, "if you want, I can let you play on some of the computers in the break room. We've got some dusty comic books in there as well, last I remember."

Lisa squeaked in surprise as she felt her younger brother rush past her to Samantha.

"Uh..." The boy froze, caught between the multitude of doors lining the hallway. He turned back to Samantha with a sheepish grin. "Which one's the break room?"

"First door to the right."

With the squeak of a door hinge, Timothy disappeared into the break room, his silhouette pouncing on an office chair behind the frosted glass walls.

Samantha turned to the door opposite to the boy. "Anyways," she coughed, glancing back at Lisa, "after you joined the simulation, I retired as lead developer and licensed out the framework to the public through the company your dad founded with Argall."

"Oh?" Lisa replied, "If you're not working on the simulations anymore, then what do you do now?"

She hesitated for a moment before setting her hand on the doorknob. "Up until I joined the simulation myself to chase after Pinkie Pie, I was more or less just overseeing the new development team."

Samantha opened the door, the automatic lights in the room flickering to life with an electric buzz as she entered. "Though, I... I just kinda miss having it be just the two of us, coding together..." She continued slowly, her voice trembling. "I mean, the royalties together with the money from the initial release helped both my parents and Argall retire pretty comfortably, so I guess it's turned out fine in the long-term."

She sighed, dumping her handbag on the table beside her as she grabbed a dusty office chair. "Sorry if it sounds like I'm rambling or something," Samantha grunted, taking a seat, "it's just that so much has happened since the last time we were in here as a team, y'know?"

"Yeah." Lisa agreed, taking a seat beside her friend. "Don't worry, I'm pretty sure I'd be doing the same if I was in your place." She placed her hands on the table, letting the plastic carrying case clatter from her grasp. Expectantly, she stared at her friend.

Samantha snorted. "Hey, you're the one that wanted to see what's on that thing," she exclaimed, playfully smacking Lisa on the shoulder, "I just drove you here."

"Sure you did." Lisa remarked as she pushed away from the table. "I'm guessing the passwords were never changed since the last time I was here?"

"Yup. All the equipment should be in the same places as well. When we moved into the new building, we just left everything here and bought new ones to avoid having to haul everything over."

Lisa rolled her eyes, smiling as she rolled herself in front of a computer. "Geez, okay," she grumbled sarcastically with a snort, "I get it now, the company's too rich to care about saving money, isn't it?"

"As if." Samantha retorted, grabbing the carrying case Lisa left on the table. "Even with licensing out the tech, we still have to monetize the simulations themselves to keep ourselves running."

Lisa winced, turning back to her friend. "Really?" She began, "I was just joki--"

Samantha's grim expression dropped. "I know you were joking." She laughed, "I'm just messing with you."

"...Oh. Well, I guess that's good then." Lisa sighed, pulling a dusty keyboard closer. "The last thing I'd wanna see in the simulations are monetized ads for whatever crap people want to sell out here in real-life."

"But in all seriousness, Lisa, we still are a for-profit company. I was serious about the monetized simulations, but not quite in the way you were thinking."

Lisa waved a hand in the air. "Okay, okay. We can talk about the boring company finances later, though." She spun around, a grin on her face as the system booted behind her. "How 'bout we have a good ol' debugging session in the meantime?"

The two girls jumped as a heavy knock sounded at the door. Before either one could respond, Argall opened the door, sticking his head into the room.

"Hm," he remarked, "I knew I'd find you girls in here."

"Dad?" Lisa stared at Argall. "I thought you were just gonna stay at home, weren't you?"

"Hey," the Professor joked, "just because I'm retired doesn't mean that I'm gonna be crammed up inside all day." He glanced at the monitor behind Lisa, raising a brow. "What're you two doing right now, anyways?"

Samantha held up the carrying case containing her friend's transmitter chip. "We're just gonna see what's wrong with Twilight Sparkle." She replied. "I have a feeling that something might've gotten corrupted last night, based on what I went through earlier today."

"Yup." Lisa followed up, nodding. "Samantha, could you hand me that now? Can't really do much if I don't even have the chip connected, y'know."

Argall watched for a few moments, before continuing. "Oh!" He exclaimed, "Speaking of last night, I nearly forgot why I even came here in the first place!"

The two girls paused, turning their focus to the Professor.

Professor Argall gestured to Lisa. "Would you mind if I pulled you from the room to talk for a moment?"

"Not right now, dad. Samantha and I were just abou--"

"It's fine." Samantha dismissed, shooing her friend away. "Lisa, go with Argall and hear what he has to say. I can get things set up for you in the meantime."

Lisa shut the door behind her as she and the Professor stepped into the hall. She glanced around for a moment, shifting on her feet before returning her gaze to Argall. "So..." she began, "What did you want to talk about?"

Professor Argall sighed, scratching his head. "Lisa, I'd like for you to take my old position as CEO of TechSIG."


"Lisa, I'm getting old. I was in my forties already when we first met, and now look at me. I'm a sixty-whatever guy who still has no idea what he's doing half the time."

Lisa glanced at the blurry figure of her friend behind the frosted glass, then back to her adoptive father. "Are you sure about this?" She asked, "I don't think I have the experience to take on something like that, and what about the rest of the company?"

"I've already circulated the idea for a few hours last night," Argall answered, patting his phone in his pocket. "Nearly everyone wants to see you step up to the ranks, especially given how you co-created literally the one thing that the entire company revolves around."

"What about Samantha?" Lisa blurted, "I thought she was working at our company in my place!"

"Was." Argall emphasized, "She was CTO for quite some time, but stepped down a few weeks before she decided to join you in the simulation."

"So what about the CEO? Who's been in that spot since you stepped down?"

Argall shrugged. "Nobody, really. I'm retired, Miss Daalmans is happy micromanaging people in her division, and Samantha's been gone for several years already, so she never rose higher in the ranks. We pretty much just picked whoever happened to be the best suited for the job and let 'em have the title until they didn't."

"Didn't what?"

The Professor shrugged again. "Didn't want to be the CEO, I guess," he continued, "with so few people having the experience for the position, there's kinda just been a power vacuum at this point."

Lisa shook her head, facepalming. "Oi." She grumbled, looking back at Argall, "What kinda experience are you even talking about?"

"We wanted everyone in the company to have some kind of role in the simulations themselves, so most of our new hires are also former students like you and Samantha."

Lisa wrinkled her nose. "Really?" She deadpanned, "That doesn't exactly sound like a good way to run a company. I don't exactly remember seeing very many others besides me and Samantha in the first place, either."

"Hey," Argall chuckled awkwardly, "we're tech-first, not business-first." He shifted on his feet, putting his hands in his pockets as he cleared his throat. "So... would you accept the position?"

"I..." Lisa frowned, "I don't think I'd be able to do it. If nobody after you has wanted to be the CEO, then why would I?"

The Professor nodded, disappointment tinging his voice. "It's alright, I understand." He mumbled. "It's just... well, the company was hoping that we'd have somebody that the public knows running the place."

Lisa shook her head again. "Again, I'm sorry. I can't do this... I wouldn't know how to, either."

"Just like me..." Argall sighed, wandering back to the office lobby as Lisa turned, opening the door. A soft click sounded behind her as she entered the room, her eyes set on her computer's screen.

"So, what was that all about?" Samantha began, still facing the screen as she pulled up a list of files. "I heard some stuff about being the CEO of the company."

"Dad wants me to take his place." Lisa stated, "He was asking me if I wanted to or not."

"Oh?" Samantha replied, turning to face her friend. "So what was your decision?"

"I turned down the offer."

Samantha huffed. "Well, there goes that out the window." She remarked, spinning back around. "Maybe I should look into taking back my spot as CTO."

Lisa paused for a moment, watching in silence as Samantha continued working on the computer. "...Anyways," she began, walking up beside her friend, "what's the progress with Twilight?"

"I've already got everything pulled up." Samantha responded with a nod, "I was just checking what might've gotten corrupted when you came back in."


"I know which files are corrupted based on the checksums, but I haven't checked the extent of the corruption yet."

Lisa leaned closer to the monitor, staring at the list of files. She turned back to her friend. "Have you tried running her AI in the simulation yet?"

"Not yet." Samantha shook her head, "Why'd you wanna do that?"

Lisa folded her arms, leaning against the table. "Doesn't the simulation's framework force an update check on new connections?"

"Hmm... don't quite remember that, but let's try it anyways."

Samantha fell silent for a few seconds, staring blankly at the screen.

"You should probably load Twilight's AI from the transmitter into the viewer program, y'know."

"Yeah." Samantha nodded, "Um... yeah. I kinda forgot that you could do that. I haven't exactly been using that program for quite a while now."

The room silenced yet again, save for a succession of clicks as Samantha ran the simulation viewer. A solid-black window appeared on the screen, flickering for a moment as the Equestria_04's geometry loaded into view.

"There's Twilight's library." Lisa commented as the familiar scene finished rendering. She frowned, narrowing her eyes as she noticed another thing that had loaded.

"Why's Twilight already in there?" Lisa asked, turning to her friend as the virtual pony cantered across the screen. "You haven't loaded her in yet, right?"

"Oh, that?" Samantha gasped, "Shortly after you first connected, I modified the framework to regenerate missing users' characters after a certain amount of time using the usual script-based AI, in case if something happened to them in real life." She paused, receiving a slow nod from her friend. "...Y'know, to keep things feeling immersive for everyone else."

Lisa snorted. "Well," she began slowly, "that's gonna be an issue."

"... Oh."