Pandemic: Departures

by Cosmic Eclipse


Ch 11 - "If We Can Dream It... We Can Do It!"

It was another early morning for Tinker and Gyro, but today marked a notable departure from the norm for them. Instead of starting their own separate tasks right at the crack of dawn, Tinker decided to spend the day planning things out for the future going forward. The unicorn would likely be annoyed at the prospect but Tinker knew that this discussion was an inevitability, there was so much change on the horizon for them, and this was their chance to nail everything right from the start and not have to stress about it later like they so often did. There was much to do and Tinker needed to work as efficiently as he could, a usually tricky task for him as thousands of thoughts and ideas raced through his optimistic head.

He thought back to the previous night, and the strange turn of events it had resulted in. As much as it was a lot to take in, it was fortunate enough for his liking. At least there were now four new ponies to help with the move, and tonight was the big night, where Silver would meet up with Sunset’s emissary and finalize their agreement. There was still a lot of planning left to do, and Tinker knew that if he didn’t start soon he’d get distracted with some other project or idea before long.

TinkerTech’s future success was still very much in limbo, but setting up a permanent base of operations would help them greatly, even if Tinker would have to shift their focus away from regular consumers for now. He hated to admit it, but ponies out west just weren’t interested in really even being a part of the economy. Tinker hoped that that would change someday, but it just wasn’t feasible to try and market their inventions here for now.

He sighed and walked over to his desk, calling in his assistant. He sighed deeply and hung his head in defeat, dreading having to admit defeat to the stoic unicorn. “Gyro, I think we need to be realistic with ourselves… most of the ponies out here just don’t care about living like they did before, it’s a dumb idea to try and sell consumer products to them right now...”

Gyro furrowed his brow in confusion. “What are you proposing Sir?”

“That we shift our focus to a more industrial approach. I think the BioMask is a great way to do that, we just need to focus on getting that refined more.”

Gyro nodded. “I’m already on it.”

“I know you are Gyro. No rush though, I have a feeling that we’re going to have plenty to occupy our time, what with the Oasis and all.”

“Ok.”

“You’re quite the conversationalist Gyro!” Tinker said smiling. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to email Dave and let him know about the change of plans later, I just need to get the hang of using this infernal machine first.”

“Have fun with that Sir, I’ll be out in the workshop.”

“Alright, you do that Gyro! I’ll see you later…” he paused, holding up a hoof. “Wait a second, you’re still in on the plan right?”

“For Silver? Yeah.”

“Good, go shake Stanley awake before you start your work, I want to get his input on it.”

“Alright.”


Silver couldn’t have been any more cheerful, for one, today was the big day, the day where he would finally seal the deal and make the Oasis a viable project. Silver never honestly thought that the Oasis could be a truly feasible project in his lifetime, but it was something that he really needed. Something that he could work towards to distract himself from the fears and memories he refused to move past. Silver was still apprehensive about dealing with Sunset Blessing, he had done his fair share of research over the last few days and didn’t quite care for her overzealous devotion towards shimmerism, still though, she could get things done, and it would be incredibly stupid to say no to someone who had the connections she did. Silver could only hope that Sunset would be more personable once he had the chance to actually interact with her, Tonya seemed to imply that she wasn’t really all that bad so he at least had that to ease his discomfort.

He knew more or less everything they’d need to discuss, and to make matters even better, Midnight was a cartographer and knew the area better than probably anyone else in the group. She’d sat down with him and gone over the various sites that might suit them nicely, and as such Silver had extended her an invitation to formally join the group. Something she had accepted in a heartbeat. Silver only saw it fitting that she sit in on the meeting tonight, seeing as how she filled in the final piece of the puzzle that they needed. There was a lot of prepwork to do before the big meeting, and Silver needed to sit down with her and Stanley and discuss what was going to happen. Touching base with Scarlet beforehand would be useful too, as she was the perfect kind of pony for the team… plus Silver just enjoyed her company.

The two had been messaging each other and exploring different dreams for a few nights now and as the nights went on Silver found himself spending less and less time in his own dream and more time with her. As hesitant as he was to spend time with her at first, he had slowly grown to value her friendship, and it was something that he genuinely looked forward to each night now. It had taken some practice to find each other at first, but once they did it only made it easier the more they met up.

Silver pulled out his phone and set it on the table, typing out a message with his stylus. “We need to talk later, my dream, Usual time. It’s important.”

Silver stared at the screen for a few minutes. Before long the reply he was waiting for came.

“Ok, cya then”

“Perfect! I better go talk with Stanley and Midnight, let them know what they’re in for tonight…” Silver stood up and walked to the bathroom, figuring that he might as well try and make himself look presentable to the others. He splashed some water on his face, and then smoothed his mane back to the side, really not caring to do more with it. He shut the water off and walked over to Stanley’s room, knocking on the door.

“Come in!”

“Stanley,... Midnight, good to see you both. I know you two kind of had a rough night last night, glad to see that you’re at least up now. I know we talked a little bit about what was going to happen tonight, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to at least clue you in on it a little more Midnight.”

“What to you mean? “Clue me in”? What’s going on?”

“Seeing as how you’ve been an instrumental part of this plan, helping us find the best site and whatnot, I think it’s only fitting that you sit in on our meeting.”

“Well thanks Silver, It’s really nothing though, I mean cartography is my life after all and-- Wait, meeting? What do you mean meeting?” She added with confusion.

“We are meeting an emissary of Sunset Blessing, but I’ve had to keep some of this information private from all the non night pony members. I think you’ll understand why, so let me cut right to the chase.” Silver glanced around a little and leaned in, lowering his voice to a whisper. “We’re meeting Sunset’s fiancé Tonya Middleton--”

Midnight gasped and tensed up. “The mind magic abuser?!”

Silver quickly shushed her, frantically looking around to make sure that no one else was around. “Keep it down! And yes. The very same pony.”

She lowered her voice, whispering out a hushed reply. “Why are we meeting with her?! Do you really think we can just trust her?!”

“Because she’s Sunset’s messenger, at least for this. Besides, the wardens gave their judgement and that should give us more than enough reason to trust her. She survived their wrath after all, if that doesn’t make her trustworthy then I don’t know what does.”

Midnight seemed slightly hesitant, but closed her mouth and nodded. “Fine, you have a point. I’ll just have to trust you on this.” She relaxed a little. “So when and where’s this taking place anyways? Is Tonya really here? This far from South Carolina?”

“No Tonya isn’t. We’re having this meeting in a dream… my dream. Shortly after I sleep, probably around early morning? Time’s weird in dreams, but we can just hang out until she shows up.”

“We’ve just met though, how am I supposed to find your dream?”

“Well, you could try dream hopping with Stanley if you think you know him well enough, or try and call out to Phobia if that doesn’t work out. Apparently she’s good friends with Tonya, I’m sure she’d be able to direct you to the right place.”

“That’s kind of a big “What if”... I’d rather not annoy her for some simple request like that… but I guess if push comes to shove it’ll work though. Do we need to do anything in the meantime?”

“Not really, the day is yours to do with as you please, just as long as you’re asleep and in my dream by the set time. We’ll be moving forward regardless of whether you’re there or not, but I really would like you to sit in with us.”

She simply shrugged. “I’ll give it my best shot.”

Stanley nervously glanced around a few times. “Silver… I uhh.. Can’t help but feel a little nervous about this. I mean it’s Sunset Blessing…”

“Still nervous? Don’t be. Think of us like contractors, yes we’ll be working on Sunset’s behalf for some stuff, but I don’t think we’ll ever have to actually deal with her in person. And if we do you’ll be fine. You just want the Oasis to be up and running right? You’re not actually going to be involved with the research and development stuff.”

“Well I… I mean yes? but--”

“--Well then you’ll be fine. Sunset only cares about the project side, not the operational side, which you’ll be working with. So you really have nothing to worry about.” He said reassuringly.

“I… I guess you have a point.”

“We’re all good then?”

The two ponies nodded in agreement.

“Perfect. I’m going to go see what the others are up to in the meantime, go over some final stuff with Tinker and whatnot, make sure we’re all in agreement… you get the idea. If you need me just hollar, I won’t be far.”


It was late in the afternoon when Gadget and Sprocket had made their way to Tinker’s workshop and Gadget was more than excited to start work on the utility prototype. She saw it as something positive that Sprocket could work on that could actually be used to help others rather than some hacked together project that he could use to fuel his own ego. Much to her annoyance the day had not gone the way she had wanted it to so far. Sprocket had seemed to fall back on his promise, practically begging her to help him with the defense gauntlet. As much as it hurt them both, most of their time there had been spent engaged in a rather heated debate, something that neither of them really wanted to happen.

Gadget sighed, frustration rising in her voice. “Sprocket what did we talk about last night?”

“I know Gadg, just please hear me out. We’ve come so far on this project and I just want to see it come to a close.”

“But Sprocket why can’t we just finish it after the utility prototype?”

“Because I need this!” He yelled back in frustration, immediately regretting his decision.

Gadget started to raise her voice again. “Why do you need it though?! Why won’t you just talk to me about this?! I’m your best friend, don’t you think that you could share whatever’s bothering you?”

Sprocket shrunk back with his ears lowered. “Just trust me please?”

Gadget sighed and paced around in place. “Fine. But can you please just tell me about why it’s so important for you?”

“I can’t Gadget… I don’t want to hurt you.”

Gadget looked on with a look of concern on her face. “What’s going to hurt me though?!”

“It’s just… there’s some stuff in the past that happened that I don’t want to get into. It’s too much to burden yourself with.”

Gadget brushed a hoof against his face. “Sprocky please, just tell me.”

Sprocket shrugged away. “I’ll tell you when I’m ready. It’s not time yet, I need to sleep on it.”

Gadget stepped back, evidently hurt that he wouldn’t tell her what was bothering him. “Fine… but please just tell me sometime, It hurts me to see you stress about stuff like this.”

Sprocket smiled. “I will Gadget, just let me figure out when I’m ready for that.”


Silver walked down the hall and into the main workshop, noticing that Sprocket had brought another pony with him this time. He still couldn’t shake that weird feeling that he got whenever he saw him and he didn’t quite know why. He walked a little closer, while still keeping his distance, trying to see what they were working on. He leaned a little closer, noticing that their plans were seemingly pulled from Tinker’s archive, and seemed to be of Gyro’s stun gauntlets. The mare with him was currently holding a similar gauntlet that still looked distinctly different. The two seemed to be arguing about something, but must have resolved it because they returned to fiddling around with the design.

Silver stepped away and walked over to Gyro, who was currently manipulating a soldering iron with his magic, carefully modifying his mask.

Silver turned his head away from the two, looking towards Gyro. “Hey, I don’t want to distract you but I just wanted to ask you something.”

“You’re doing both right now. Ask away though.”

Silver glanced back towards Sprocket. “Those two ponies, do you know what they’re working on?”

“Some project of their own, Tinker… decided to trust them with our plans and prototypes, the blue one wanted to see my gauntlet plans the other day.”

“It looks like they’re copying one of your designs, or at least using it as a base for their own project.”

The unicorn set the iron down and turned towards Silver. “What do you mean?”

“The gauntlet, they’re doing something with the plans, fiddling around with their own design.”

“I wish Tinker would communicate a little better, I would have liked to know what they were coming in here with. Give me a second, I’m going to go see what they’re doing.”

Gyro stood up and walked over to the pair, the conversation audible enough for Silver to eavesdrop on. “What are you two up to today?”

Sprocket stopped his arguing for a moment, cheerfully greeting Gyro. “Oh, hey Gyroscope! Just working on some old self defense prototype while we plan out some stuff for the other thing. I hit a roadblock with it and figured that I might as well look at how you did things.”

“It’s Gyro. And that’s fine, make sure you don’t just copy my work though.”

“Oh we won’t Gyroscope! Just seeing how you solved some problems!”

Gyro rolled his eyes and walked back to his desk, leaning close to Silver. “We don’t need to worry about them… yet. We can just keep an eye on them and go from there. I don’t trust them.”

Silver nodded his head. “I feel like I’ve met Sprocket before, but I can’t place where. It’s a weird feeling but I just can’t shake it. Something just screams don’t trust him but I can’t place why.”

Gyro resumed his work, seemingly disinterested in continuing the conversation further. “Don’t stress about it, just keep an eye on them for now.”

“Alright Gyro. I just don’t want anything to jeopardize our plans when we’re so close to securing this.”

“Noted. Have you ran everything by Tinker yet?”

“No. I was on my way to doing that.”

“You should get back to it.”

“Alright, I’ll let you get back to work.” Silver started to walk away, but turned back towards Gyro one more time. “Thanks Gyro. I appreciate this!”

“Yep.”


Tinker sat in his office, carefully dictating an email into his laptop. “Dave, we’re going to be working on expanding our operations soon, I’ll be sending you the revised correspondence address soon, along with our new operational plans going forward. At your suggestion we’re shifting focus from less of a consumer based company to more of an industrial based one. We have ideas that may cross between the two nicely, but for now we’re going to work on getting our bigger projects out to parties that may find better use from them. Our initial data has shown that it simply isn’t feasible to focus our efforts on anything consumer based out here at this time, but we do want to look into pursuing that at a later date when it’s a more feasible endeavor. Thanks, Tinker.”

Silver silently worked his way into Tinker’s office, seemingly unnoticed by the distracted pegasus.“Not happy with how the ponies out here are receiving your ideas?”

“Huh? Oh, Silver. I didn’t hear you come in. To answer your question… It’s not that I’m not happy with that, It’s just not as feasible for us right now. We’ve got many innovative and spectacular ideas, we just don’t have the kind of market share that we need to get those out there right now is all. Some other enterprising minds have beaten us to that, but they’re dealing with the same problem out here as we are.”

“Alright calm down, I’m just teasing you.” He straightened up. “So we’re all set for tonight, I’m going to have Stanley, Midnight, and an astronomer friend of mine sit in on the meeting.”

Tinker raised an eyebrow. “Who’s the astronomer? I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them yet.”

“Scarlet Moon, a good friend of mine. I met her back in Greenview, she’s smart and has a natural love of astronomy. I figured that if we’re going to be out in the middle of the desert, we’ll have a great view of the night sky, and an even better site for an observatory… to do some interstellar research you know?”

“Well if you think she’s a necessary asset then I won’t argue with you... Captain.

Silver’s face scrunched up in confusion. “Captain? What do you mean?”

Tinker sat up and smiled. “More like Director. It has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

Tinker smiled. “Oh, that’s right, we didn’t tell you. Let me call the others in.” He pressed a button on a small console on his desk, leaning closer to speak into it. “Gyro, Stanley, please come into my office.”

A few moments later, the door opened and the two ponies walked in. All three had knowing smiles on their face.

Silver stepped back. “What’s this all about?”

Stanley walked forward. “Silver, the three of us talked before you woke up, and we think you should be the leader. You brought us all together after all, if it wasn’t for you none of this would be happening.”

Silver was taken aback. “But… you really think I’m the best candidate?”

Tinker jumped up excitedly. “Why of course! You caught the eye of someone who’s got a lot of government influence Silver, in a good way too mind you. That’s not exactly the easiest thing to do. Stanley’s got a point, you brought us all together, you brokered a deal with Sunset, I think you’ve been the leader all along even if you haven’t quite realized it yet.”

“I… I don’t know what to say.”

“Thanks would do just fine.” Gyro flatly replied.

Tinker shot a stern glare at Gyro. “What Gyro meant to say is that you shouldn’t sell yourself short. If we’re actually going to try and inspire others to make a better world, we need to organize ourselves better. An important part of that is actually having some level of organizational hierarchy. You’re the Director, Gyro and I are the R&D directors, and Stanley is in charge of operations. We can expand as needed when we actually start making progress, but for now we need to actually start making a name for ourselves.”

Silver nodded. “Alright, well I guess if I’m going to be the director, our group needs a proper name. Any suggestions?”

The four sat and pondered this for a few minutes. Gyro was the first to break the silence. “R.D.M.S. - Research and Development in Magic and Science.”

Silver didn’t seem enthused by the suggestion, but didn’t have the heart to break it to Gyro. “That uhhh.. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue as well. But that’s just me. Anypony else have any ideas?”

Stanley shrugged. “I’m fine with just the Oasis.”

“That works for the site’s name, but I think we need to have something a little more marketable as a group.”

Tinker sat at his desk, holding his head up with a hoof. He suddenly bolted up in excitement. “Pony Research Institute?!”

An idea suddenly hit Silver, if this was a cartoon a lightbulb would have brilliantly sparked to life above his head. “I have an idea! What if we call ourselves the “Pony Research Institute of Science and Magic”? Or just P.R.I.S.M. It rolls off the tongue a little better… plus it sounds cool.” he added with a smile.

Tinker’s face lit up in happiness. “I think you’re onto something Silver! PRISM it is!”

“Is everypony ok with that?”

“Fine by me.”

“Yeah.. I like it! It’s kind of takes all our suggestions and rolls them up into one!”

Silver almost couldn’t find the words to speak, this all felt so sudden to him but Tinker was right, they needed to really organize themselves better. Right now they were a band of overly optimistic ponies drifting around the desert, trying to tackle the impossible task of making a better future for themselves. With this, they could at least make a name for themselves and look slightly more professional… as professional as a bunch of pastel ponies trying to be taken seriously could look. “Well I guess it’s settled then. We’re really official now, aren’t we?”

Tinker nodded his head, smiling from ear to ear. “I believe we are, Director Silver.”


More than a few hours had passed and Silver was beginning to feel a little anxious. As calm and personable as Tonya was, he still couldn’t help but feel a little nervous about the meeting. He shook his head, forcing his thoughts to clear, it wouldn’t help him to worry about it when there was really nothing to stress about. Silver walked into Stanley’s room, excitement building in him. It was almost time for him to sleep, which meant that their big meeting would be mere moments away. “Alright, I’m going to start getting ready for bed. You both know the plan?”

“Try to follow Stanley to your dream, go run and cry to Phobia if it doesn’t work and hope she’s actually asleep, willing to help, and able to help?”

“Yeah that’s more or less the gist of it. I don’t think you’ll wind up having to go through with that, but if you have trouble finding Stanley it might be your only way in.”

“Well I guess there’s only one way to find out isn’t there.”

Silver nodded his head. “Mhmm”

“Silver, I think we’re all good to go. I’ll see you in there!”

“Alright Stanley… Midnight, Goodnight.”

Silver walked back across the hallway and into his room, quickly typing out a message to Scarlet. “We’re on, see you soon!”

He didn’t need to wait for her message to arrive, he was sure that she’d already be heading to sleep in a few moments anyways. Seeing no other reason to wait, he lied down in his bed and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and quickly drifting off to sleep.


Silver found himself in a relatively peaceful dream, a starry landscape greeted him outside of a large hexagonal window. He was aboard some spaceship, a genuinely fascinating dream to him, but he unfortunately couldn’t sit and watch it play out. Deciding to wait for his friends, he summoned five chairs and arranged them around a simple table. Silver sat at the head of the table and gazed out the window, trying to guess who would be the first to arrive. Before long he was greeted by Scarlet, who trotted up to him and gazed out the window with him. A few minutes later Stanley appeared, followed by Midnight.

He turned towards Midnight, smiling warmly. “Good, you’ve made it. I trust nothing went awry?”

“Well I’m here aren’t I? I think that answers your question.”

“Very good. Please, take a seat in an open chair. I’ll get our little meeting room set up, it’ll just take a few moments to do so.”

The three visitors took their seats quietly. Stanley leaned over to midnight and whispered to her. “You’re gonna like this part, it’s always so cool to see!”

Silver closed his eyes and conjured his usual dream, however with a few major differences this time around. The Grand Salon was the only room he bothered to summon, and it was currently set up as more of a large banquet. What were once a set of five simple chairs mere moments ago were now five ornate and comfortable seats set around a large intricately carved wooden table. Silver sat at the head of the table, dressed in a more formal suit, an ornate ensemble that resembled something you might see the captain of an elegant ship wear. Scarlet, Stanley, and Midnight Sun sat off to either side of him in their own elegant seats, though vastly underdressed by comparison. Another seat, albeit currently empty, sat at the far end of the table.

Off to the side was a large bar containing a fine selection of drinks, none of which would really have any real effect on the dreamwalkers, but the hollow comfort would help them relax nonetheless. The ceiling above them was noticeably different too, large glass panels revealing the serene ocean above replaced the steel ones that normally sat in their place. The organ in the loft above began to play a calm tune seemingly on it’s own, almost as if it was being played by some unseen phantom. The entire atmosphere of the room seemed to reflect a more calm and collected mood, as if Silver had specifically crafted this particular dream to give off some grand and mystifying impression. The only thing left to wait for was for their special guest to make her appearance.

Midnight looked around the room, surprised by the sudden transformation. “That was uhh…”

“Cool as always!” Stanley finished.

“This is the Nautilus isn’t it?!” Scarlet excitedly shouted out to Silver.

Silver smiled warmly. “Welcome aboard!”

Scarlet spoke up again. “So Silver, I don’t think you ever introduced me to your friends here.”

Silver took a drag on the pipe he was holding, breathing out the smoke for a moment. “Well Stanley, Midnight, I’d like to formally introduce you to Scarlet, an intrepid astronomer with her head in the stars, a valuable member of our team as I’m sure you can agree.”

“It’s nice to meet you-- Scarlet.”

“It’s wonderful to finally meet you too Stanley, and what about you?” She asked, looking towards Midnight.

Stanley suddenly spoke up. “Oh-- Scarlet, This is Midnight Sun. She and another new recruit helped Pat and I out with some trouble in the canyon.”

Silver smiled. “She’s a relatively new recruit, but she’s been extremely helpful in scouting out and researching potential sites. Cartography is her talent and as such she has unmatched insights into the local land and the advantages and disadvantages with each site. It was very fortunate that she wound up finding her way to us, and we really have Stanley to thank for that—“

The group was suddenly interrupted as the large doors at the end of the Grand Salon swung open, followed by the unmistakable form of Tonya Middleton walking in.

Silver spoke in a low voice. “Ok keep cool everypony, this might be a bit of a shock to your systems...” Silver sat up in his chair, and called out to her excitedly. “Welcome back Tonya! Please-- sit down and have a drink, we have a fine selection of beverages available, not that it’ll really compare to the real stuff, but hey, it’ll offer comfort all the same. Tonight’s a celebration after all! I hope you don’t mind that I’ve brought along some of our other members, I’d rather we have our entire group here, but that’s just not possible at this time… and there’s rules and secrets that they aren’t privy to, plus the fact that they’re not in your… unique position, so the night pony members will have to do for now.”

“Yeah, that makes sense. So how have you been?” Tonya said as she sat down at her seat at the table, looking over towards Stanley, who was eyeing her with a look of fearful bewilderment. “Oh and you must be Stanley! Phobia’s said some nice things about you. I guess she was the one who met you when you first dreamwalked.”

“Yes… It’s uhh… nice to meet you outside of a trial...”

Silver sat up in his chair and took another drag on his pipe. “I’ve been doing wonderful. So sorry for freaking out at you last time… you have to understand that it was a little… frightening and surprising to say the least.” He leaned forward in his seat, setting his pipe down for a moment and straightening his jacket. “So, let’s talk business. After considerable deliberation with the others, we’ve come to an agreement in regards to what we’d like to request from Sunset in return for our… services.”

Tonya sat up in the chair, taking a sip from her drink. “I can’t wait to see what kind of crazy and wild requests you’ve thought up!” she said, smiling.

Silver smiled, taking another drag on the pipe before continuing. “We need a more permanent base of operations. The Oasis is currently a pipe dream and we need to start seriously planning our next course of action if we want to even begin to build it up. We’ve carefully scouted out and researched the potential sites. With Midnight’s assistance, we’ve identified one that might suit our needs nicely. There’s an abandoned mining town in the Verde Valley out near Sedona. All we require to start is the land rights, a small construction crew to help clean up the town, and some basic materials to get a solar farm up and running. If Sunset can help us do that then we’re open to assisting her with any project she needs our help with going forward.”

Tonya raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Huh… ok, well that’s not as crazy as I thought it would be. I was expecting some crazy out of the blue idea like a rocket or submarine or something that you might have found in one of your Jules Verne books.”

Silver smiled, “Oh, we’re not anywhere close to those projects yet, but let’s not worry about it for now! Those particular type of plans are still very far out on the horizon!”

Tonya smiled back. “That should all be doable. Let me just tell you what Sunset’s going to want in return though. I know you had a concern that you wanted to work on your own projects and that’s fine. Sunset’s not going to force you to come up with anything for her, and in fact she’s only going to give you the details of her projects as needed so you should be fine doing your own stuff. I know you also had some concerns about the nature of her projects, but she wanted me to let you know that they won’t be anything unethical, and you’ll never work on them for more than 60 calendar days, but keep in mind that those might not always be consecutive days.”

“Well that sounds fair enough. So about the resources we’ll need? I can understand if it’s a little too much to ask for, so we’re willing to work with Sunset and negotiate something that’s fair for both of us.”

“Oh don’t worry, Sunset can get you any equipment you need, but they’ll be loaners. You can use them as much as you want, and for whatever you want, but if you purposely stall or delay her projects she’s going to have to ask for the equipment back. That’s understandable right?”

“Right. I can only assume that she just wants to make sure her investment isn’t going to waste, and that’s perfectly fair.”

She continued, “You can pull out of the deal at any time, but just remember that the equipment is hers, and she’s letting you guys use it in return for helping her. It’s fine if you decide to part ways but if you still need the equipment you’re going to have to buy it from her. You can negotiate payment how you see fit, cash is fine or you can sell whatever patents interest her to SPEC in lieu of actual payment, whichever works best for you. Is that fair?”

“Yeah that’s fair enough. So I believe that that’s everything, anything else on the agenda?”

“Oh, yes! One more thing too, and this is going to sound really really harsh but I can’t stress how important it is. All of the details about Sunset’s plans should be considered extremely classified. We’re talking like the highest security clearance you can imagine. Under no circumstance are you to share any of it with anypony who isn’t directly involved with the project, and if you do Sunset will make sure that you’ll never be able to conduct serious research again. Those are her words not mine. I know she sounds harsh but she’s putting a lot of trust into you guys and just wants to make sure that you all know how important these projects are. I hope you understand that this isn’t personal, it’s just a serious matter to her.”

Silver gulped for a second, but quickly fell back into his confident “all business” mode. “I can… understand that completely, and I appreciate you bringing our concerns forward to Sunset. This is obviously a lot to take in, you’re basically handing everything we need to us on a Silver platter, but if Sunset can help get the Oasis up and running then we’re willing to look past our own… reservations… in return. It’s only fair after all, I know we’re asking a lot but this is a good opportunity to jumpstart our plans. It’s going to be a small operation at first, but in only a few short years we’ll hopefully be at a point where we can actually start going public with some of our plans. I’ll even add this in, if we develop anything that might be of use to Sunset we can negotiate sharing those discoveries with her as well, even though that’s not part of her deal. Consider it a thank you for doing so much for us!” he said as he smiled.

Tonya looked at Silver and the three other night ponies, “So we’re all good? It’s a done deal then?”

The three nodded in return, with Silver adding, “I’ve personally talked with our other members on the matter, and they’re willing to work with Sunset as long as we can maintain a level of independence in our projects. We’re happy to help Sunset with her projects but we’d like to also maintain our own projects if that’s alright with you.”

“That’s perfectly fine, just remember that she’ll want to see progress on her own projects more than yours, just to make sure her investment and resources aren’t being wasted.”

Silver sat up in his chair and reached for his drink. “I think that that means we’re at an agreement!”

Tonya shifted in her chair, “I think we are! I’m glad this was able to work out Silver!”

Silver lightened up, raising his glass. “A toast then, to the future!”

The other ponies lifted their glass as well. “To the future!”, they called out together.

“I’ll notify the others when we awaken, Let me give you our contact information so you can forward any relevant documents and information to us in the waking world. When we receive confirmation on the agreement we’ll head directly to the site and begin work!”

“I’ll forward it to Sunset and you’ll hear back from her soon. I’m glad everything worked out. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!”

“Likewise, if you should need anything else please do not hesitate to contact us again, for now, feel free to stay and have another drink, relax, whatever suits you. If not, no hard feelings, adieu, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, and farewell! Please do send Sunset our regards as well!”

“I sure will, she’s going to be so happy to hear that. Goodbye Silver! Nice meeting you three as well, I’m glad the trial didn’t scare you all as much!” she said, earning a hesitant look from the other three night ponies.

And in a moment Tonya was gone, leaving the four night ponies to their discussion.

Midnight, Stanley, and Scarlet simply sat in bewilderment for a moment. Midnight finally found the courage to speak.

“You uhhh… sure weren’t kidding when you said your friends had some big plans in mind wolf man…”

Stanley sat there blinking for a few moments, finally speaking up. “Silver told me all about how this might go down and what I should expect, but it still couldn’t really prepare me for it. Sorry if I froze up a little, the fact that she knew me by name kind of caught me off guard… and the fact that she’s apparently friends with Phobia Remedy herself.”

Silver set his pipe down and stood up to go refill his drink. “Yeah… I know I mentioned it before, I was hoping it’d be enough to ease your mind on that, but I’m sure it’s still surprising to hear it all the same. I hope you all weren’t too surprised by this.”

Scarlet shook her head and smiled. “Well justice was served right? I can’t be too surprised or afraid of somepony if the wardens executed their judgement and she lived to tell the tale. She seems nice, that Sunset character sounds a little too harsh for my liking, but I guess I just didn’t really know how big of a plan this all was.”

Silver set his pipe down, no longer seeing it necessary to relax further. “It’s uhhh… well, it wasn’t originally this big of a plan-- or at least it was, but we never imagined that so much would be possible in such a short amount of time. I’d consider it a very fortunate blessing that we’ve come across, hopefully it won’t be a curse as well. I believe she left enough open so it won’t tread on that ground.”

“So what’s next? Where do we go from here?”

“That’s a good question. Seeing as how we’ve just solved a very important piece of the equation, I’d say we really only have a few items left to tackle. We’ll have to start packing up our warehouse, Tinker and Gyro are already so organized that shouldn’t be an issue. So next we’ll have to start making a move out to the site as soon as we can, that shouldn’t be an issue, but we’ll probably need Marcus’ help with that, especially now that we have more members than we initially started with. More importantly though, we need to start planning how everything is going to be organized. We’ll need to expand our leadership hierarchy, set up project teams— really anything we can think of in that front. We all have talents that can be put to good use in different divisions so we’ll have to hold a meeting and go over that with the others as soon as possible. Were there any other questions?”

“No, not really, not for me at least. What about you two?” She said, looking at Midnight and Stanley.

The two night ponies glanced at each other and then shook their heads in unison.

“Well if there’s no more questions then I think we’re set! We can discuss this more with the others when were all awake. For now feel free to enjoy yourselves or leave, I’ll probably remain here for a little while and reflect on everything.”

And the group did just that, celebrating their newfound direction, and excited for the bright new tomorrow that lied ahead of them.