Spike of All Trades

by Ariamaki

Chapter 27: Departure

“Those are a totally unique power that only the Princesses can bring to bear."

At first Spike had been listening to avoid offending other Guards in the future. Now he was listening with rapt attention for an entirely different reason: This was big, and now he understood why Celestia hadn't explained the details to him when he’d essentially been a baby.

"It's called Benediction. An unrepeatable and irreproducible miracle that cannot be faked, imitated, copied, stolen, taken or broken. In a very real and literal way, it's an investiture of their authority onto their most trusted servants. We carry a fraction of Luna's power, and as such we are like her eyes and ears and hooves in the world. The Benediction is something no normal pony could do, not even a unicorn as powerful as Ms. Twilight. Cadance, maybe... I wondered why Captain Armor never took the call from Celestia, but maybe he's waiting for his lover to make her own version, to be her First."

"Yeah that sounds like something Shiny would do alright."

"Shin- Right, you're basically his nephew. Hah! I guess you could ask him directly, hear it from the horse's mouth. Of course, if the pattern holds true then he might not have an easy time of it..."


"Mmh. Celestia's Benediction sort of 'gravitates' towards unicorns. It's why you see so many in the Day Guard, above and beyond Canterlot demographics. And Luna's leans towards pegasi: Hence all the flying Night Guard. Cadance having an easier time laying her power onto earth ponies would complete the little triad, and historically speaking magic likes neat little sets like that."

"Ooooh. That... Wow. This is a big deal. And I can guess it's not a 'public knowledge' sort of thing?"

"Natch: I had assumed you knew, being from the palace and all... I guess when you were younger Celestia might not have wanted to explain the details."

Spike nodded, letting his thoughts drift. It made sense in a lot of ways. And it... Well. The idea of a power that only one single pony in all of the world could use, something just as unique as a Cutie Mark and yet was shared with others by its very nature... It gave him ideas. Not ideas he could act on just yet... But in the back of his mind, the ticket from this morning held an all-new significance.

Further musing was interrupted by Piercing Ammunition standing up and offering a hoof to Spike. He took it and stretched, looking over at the one section of the arcade they hadn't gone through yet.

"Long-term games is all that's left: A lot of the stuff with that 'profile' tech, role-playing games and adventures and building games. These are all pretty much permanent installations, instead of swap cabinets: Made sense to give the games ponies are likely to replay a more permanent home."

"Favorite section, here we come!"

"Heh. Lead the way, little expert."

A blur of cabinets and rapid-fire patter and chatter later, Spike and Piercing Ammunition came out the other side of the 'longplay' island and up into the food court. Pierce, for his part, was mulling over everything Spike had explained about the costs of playing some of the really long-term games, while Spike himself was engrossed in his latest piece of user interface.

> Hit the Arcade, Look at RPGs (research!)
Reward: Quality Assurance

[Quality Assurance] (Subskill) Lv Max EXP: 0.00% MP: N/A
For one who has the ability to claim all things, study all things, learn all things, know all things, and become all things, it is important to make sure that what you do claim, study, learn, know, and become are of the utmost quality. This skill enhances 'Observe' to make sure you don't waste time.

Your Observe is now capable of highlighting objects which pertain directly to The Gamer.
This includes but is not limited to:
Skillbooks, Skillgames, Fuel-for-Fire, Buff Consumables, and Recipes.

"...Who slash what writes these things?"



"Sure. That aside, think fast: The gals are a-comin'."

Spike straightened his posture and tapped the skill window closed with a quick jab of his attention. Sure enough, Rarity and Arcane were approaching from across the food court, having some kind of animated discussion that he couldn't quite hear. By the time they made it all the way over, their conversation had ended, so Spike put it all out of mind. It wasn't his business, right? But it seemed like Arcane Ammunition had some amount of business with him, from the way she was angling that piece of paper towards his face.

"Here you go!"

He looked down. It was a schedule written onto a copy of the next month’s calendar, a few blocks of several hours marked off on various days, at various hours early and late alike.

"You mentioned having some interest in Rarity's ranged spells, yes? And I don't doubt that my husband got some ideas into your head as well, so... Those are times we'd be free, if you want to come learn from us. Rara's welcome too: If I'm going to be teaching things anyways I might as well get two birds with one. And we wouldn't mind getting some work out of you in return, of course..."

He cut her off with a surprise hug, smiling wide.
"That's so cool! I'll make sure I can find a time where I have openings and Twilight isn't having me do anything at the library and... Yeah! Thank you so much."

"Nothing to it, kid. You two need anything else before we go our separate ways for the day? It has been one beast of an afternoon for sure."

Rarity shook her head, while Spike stood up and surreptitiously slid the schedule into his Inventory when nopony was looking.
"I think we're good to go!"

The four of them walked to the front doors of the arcade, right back where he had started. It felt like it had been a long time since he arrived, but emotional moments always made him feel that way. In reality, it was still a good forty-five minutes before school was scheduled to let out, so he was right on pace.

"Nice meeting you two!"

"And you as well, kid."

"Keep in touch, huh Rara?"

"Of course. I merely had a fair few spring orders to get through and-"

"No excuses. We literally know where you live, all that jazz."


As Rarity trotted away, Spike turned back to take another look at the husband and wife duo. For the sake of testing his earlier Observe grinding, he made an effort to use it anew on both of them. He expected two boxes of information to pop up... What he got was a chorus of dinging bells and seven boxes. Above the two Observes were quest completions and one new message, first of its kind.

> Look at Ponies (titles? levels?)
Reward: Indra's Net

> "Game"
Reward: 2,500 Experience (+240 from bonuses)

Your level has increased by one!
Your level has increased by one!

His claw shook a little as he tapped the name of the unknown reward: With a name like that, it had equal odds of being an item or a skill. Turns out it was the second...

[Indra's Net] (Subskill) Lv Max EXP: 0.00% MP: N/A
In the same way that one pearl reflects all others. In the same way that one thread connects all things. Denying the singular vision of Gutei, those who see the world through the filter called Indra's Net are able to perceive the inherent and pervasive interrelationship of all things.

Your Observe is now usable on the relationships between things, as well as the things themselves.
All uses of Indra's Net are automatically compiled into a network of relationships (In a new menu).
Relationships that you know about are automatically added when Observing only one part of it.
Relationships for which you have a false impression will not be corrected until you are corrected.

Indeed, between the two expected Observe boxes was a third, filled with lines of holographic fire that reminded him of his earlier sorting job on the Hopeless Case. In the center of the diagram the Cutie Marks of Arcane and Piercing were connected by various lines (pink for marriage and love to each other, red for familial ties to Rarity, a solid blue for cautious respect of Spike himself, a plain black for ownership of the Arcade, etc) and boundaries.

Without saying anything he Observe'd Rarity again, and watched as a cascade of information added her relationships into the diagram. A swipe of his mentally-imagined claw over the interface moved it all aside, letting him see the vast space prepared for the information he would gather... Maybe with practice and more complex information, he could change this into a three-dimensional model like the ones Twilight used sometimes. Or maybe he just needed the right commands? This was going to take time. And it was also going to have to wait...

Because he had just leveled up.