The Equestrian Enrichment Project

by GandhoofOfManyColours

Chapter 12: The Sparkle challenge

note:- Just as a quick aside, is anyone interested in being a proof reader for this? My grammar isn’t exactly the best as some have pointed out, on the plus side you’d get to read new chapters before everypony else!

Chapter 12: The Sparkle challenge

Twilight Groaned. She had a splitting headache and her body ached all over. Her eyes still closed she groaned again this time managing to form words.

“Ugh… Spike, what time is it?” Her words echoed around the empty room but there was no response. “Spike?” she said again, finally opening her eyes. Upon seeing the room, she leapt to her hooves in shock. Instantly falling back into a heap on the floor.

“Oh Celestia, I remember now” she groaned to herself, examining the devices affixed to her hooves that had caused her fall.

“I suppose your behind these.” She said out loud to the machine that she was now sure had placed her in the room, while continuing her examination.

GLaDOS, who had been silently observing the mare, was not for the first time today shocked. An activity she made a mental note to cease as soon as was possible. This was the first subject who had realised she was being watched without being told.

“You are correct. Those are Aperture Science Long-fall boots. The device attached to your right fore-hoof however is an elegant combination of the Aperture Science hand held quantum tunnelling device and the Aperture Science long-fall boot; it was designed especially to allow use of the device by your unusual quadruped form” She explained, still slightly taken aback by the unicorns apparent intelligence, not that she would ever admit to this.

Twilight was angry, she had been abducted and placed into a small cell by this machine, but she knew an outburst would get her nowhere. After all, GLaDOS was not even in the room. All she would manage to do would be to work herself up. One of her ears stared to twitch as she tried to calm herself. She looked around her small room; it was featureless apart from the locked door and a light fixture in the ceiling. If there was a way out of this room, it was through that door and there was only one pony who could open it, even if she wasn’t really a pony.

“So, what exactly am I doing here?” Twilight asked, she already knew the answer, the machine wanted to run its ‘tests’ on her but what she didn’t know was exactly what these tests entailed.

“You will be participating in the Aperture Science cornuted equine primary testing programme.” GLaDOS intoned. “The test will begin as soon as the chamber-lock opens, in three, two, one.” on one the door to Twilight’s cell opened with a hiss, allowing the purple unicorn to progress into the chamber beyond.

On first appearance, the room was small and, apart from a deep pit at one end, empty but that was only until Twilight looked up. The room was tall, so tall that no details could be made out on the ceiling. The only breaks in the otherwise flat black walls were a series of blocks jutting out at varying heights. A sound behind the unicorn made her spin around, but it was just the chamber door sliding shut behind her. The only lights in the room filtered out of the window of an abandoned office close to the top.

“Please proceed to the chamber-lock to complete the test” the voice of GLaDOS emanated from somewhere above her.

Twilight was confused; she had performed her share of scientific tests and she had suspicions about what GLaDOS wanted to do to her and her friends but this was nothing close to what she had suspected.

"What exactly do you expect me to do?" Twilight asked, assuming GLaDOS could still hear her in this room. "I mean, exactly what are you testing here? I assume this exit you want me to go to is up there somewhere." She indicated the tower. "but unless you're expecting me to fly up there, which by the way I can't, maybe back in Equestria I could have levitated up there, or even teleported if I knew exactly where I needed to be but not here, the magic field just isn’t strong enough. There is just no way for me to get there."

For the first time in her existence GLaDOS was not sure what to say. This creature was talking about magic as though it was a real thing. Not only that but actually suggesting that she personally used it like it was an everyday normal activity, as normal as turning on the deadly neurotoxin generators. Surely the unicorn didn’t actually believe in magic. This, after all was the creature that had managed to repair a fusion reactor within hours of first encountering one and as much as she didn’t want to admit it was a slightly impressive feat for an equine.

“You do realise that there is no such thing as ‘magic’ do you not? Such superstitions are only held by truly primitive life forms, such as test subjects.”

This just confused Twilight more, she sat down before replying “hold on a moment, so you’re saying there is no magic in this world at all?”

GLaDOS considered this for a moment, the creature seemed genuinely surprised about this, was it possible that the physical laws of her home universe really allowed for magic? The thought was deleted from her memory banks as quickly as it had come, of course it wasn’t magic. Magic was just the explanation used by truly stupid people when they didn’t understand the operation of the universe, no. but maybe there was some hitherto unknown force at play in the creature’s home universe that allowed for some form of telepathic or telekinetic ability this was worth testing.

“If you truly have a ‘magical’ ability then by all means demonstrate” GLaDOS stated turning an additional security camera onto the unicorn.

“On what exactly, like I said the magical field in this universe isn’t strong enough for me to do much” Twilight was annoyed that her question had been ignored but she decided not to press the matter too far.

After a few seconds of silence a single section of the chamber wall slid back to reveal the end of a glass tube. Out of the end of the tube shot a large reflective disc with a small hole in the centre, the disc shot across the chamber coming to a rest directly ahead of Twilight.

“Please levitate the Aperture science security records Laserdisc” the voice of GLaDOS echoed throughout the chamber.

Twilight examined the ‘laserdisc’ it was an odd item but obviously just used by the machine as a random small object. Deciding that she would gain nothing from refusing Twilight concentrated hard on the object; pouring in all the magic she had access to in this universe. Eventually after considerable effort on the unicorns’ part the disc became surrounded by a faint glow, matching that which enveloped her horn, and started to slowly float into the air.

GLaDOS watched the security feed silently for a moment then ran a full system diagnostic, the results showed no problems. GLaDOS ran the check again this time including her own optic processers with the same result the unicorn really was capable of telekinesis. GLaDOS remained silent for some moments processing this data.

Twilight was growing impatient; she did not want to be stuck in this chamber forever. One of her eyes started to twitch along with her ear. Not wanting to wait any longer she broke the silence “Well then, I showed you what you wanted to see. Are you going to tell me exactly how you expect me to get up there or not? I just want to get this ‘test’ of yours over with.”

The voice that replied was not that of GLaDOS but the male robotic sounding voice of the facilities backup systems “All Aperture science AI personality constructs are currently busy processing previously acquired data, we apologise for any inconvenience caused by this. If because of this you have been injured, killed or received damage to personal property please contact an Aperture Science testing associate to request the appropriate injury or loss paperwork.”

Twilight snapped. This was the absolute last straw. “NO!” she yelled looking directly into the nearest security camera, stamping her hoof, her mane becoming dishevelled. “That’s it, First you capture me and my friends for no reason at all other than we happened to be here, then you separate us and lock us into tiny rooms for Celestia knows how long, and now I’m in this frankly idiotic test of yours you refuse to even tell me what you want me to do? That’s… that’s idiotic! You sit up there saying you’re so much better than us, well NO! You’re NOT! And you never will be! I demand you tell me how to get out of here now!” Twilight was breathing heavily, mane askew, teeth gritted, with anger in her eyes.

GLaDOS, who’d finished processing part way through the Purple unicorns rant, scrutinised Twilight before replying. “Interesting while you do seem to possess some unusual ability’s you do not seem to possess patience, could these two facts be linked or is it just you?”

The reaction this provoked from Twilight was immediate, she had had enough. She leapt into the air eyes burning, perhaps even literally as her normally purple striped mane burst into what appeared to be flame. She ran at full speed towards the camera, leaping at the last moment lowering her head, sending her horn directly through the lenses into the CCD and control circuitry beneath. She slowly slid down to the floor taking much of the now destroyed camera with her. After shaking her head to remove the remains of GLaDOS’s camera she stood panting by the wall, her anger slowly fading and her mane returning to normal.

GLaDOS stared at digital static for a moment before re-routing her main optical feed through the rooms secondary surveillance systems, the purple unicorn reappearing into her vision although now from a different angle. This unicorn was full of surprises; GLaDOS had only ever known one other subject quite as destructive of enrichment centre property and she… Well that was not something she wanted to relive.

“Please refrain from destroying crucial Aperture Science Testing apparatus.” The voice of GLaDOS calmly echoed through the chamber. “This test requires the use of the Aperture Science hoof attached quantum tunnelling device attached to your right fore-hoof. You will find two controls positioned conveniently in the hoof rest of the device, these are used to fire the device. The device creates a pair of intra-dimensional quantum linked portals linking two points in three dimensional space using the fourth dimension. The device can only create portals on portal conductive surfaces, for your convenience these surfaces are painted white.”

Twilight was intrigued; she examined the device attached to her right fore-hoof for a moment before experimentally aiming it at the white floor of the chamber and tapping one of the controls with the tip of her hoof. A burst of blue energy shot out of the device, impacting on the floor sending tendrils of energy across the conductive plane, destabilising quantum level fractures in the fabric of existence, the energy expanded into a glowing quantum interface. The fascinated unicorn slowly approached the blue oval on the ground, examining the interference patterns of the energy as it flowed across the surface of reality. Now all traces of Twilights anger were gone, replaced by her natural scientific curiosity. She placed the tip of her long fall boot into the energy field, quickly retracting it when the energy started to flow up the strut.

“To be fully operational two portals are required.” GLaDOS’s voice rang out bringing Twilight back to reality.

Eager to see the result Twilight re-aimed the portal device and depressed the second button sending an orange ball of energy into the floor next to the first portal forming an orange ring of energy, as the second portal finished forming the centre of each disappeared leaving a hole in each. Twilight trotted over to the new portal in wonder, again placing a hoof into it, this time however the hoof passed through undamaged and appeared out of the other portal next to her.

“Incredible.” Twilight said in awe. “You’ve managed not only to expand a quantum distortion in space-time to a macroscopic scale but to fully stabilise it, all without the use of magic.” For a moment Twilight was lost for words, she understood the theory she had read about such things in a research journal in the Canterlot archives but even that paper had stated that any practical use of it was far off In the future if not impossible entirely. “How?” was all she could manage.

For the second time in as many minutes GLaDOS was unsure of how to respond, she understood? This couldn’t be possible. No test subject could possibly understand the intricacies of quantum tunnelling could they? Especially not this creature, this pony! There must be more to these creatures than met the optical sensor.

“The devices operation is to complex. To simplify its operation to your level would be impossible.” GLaDOS eventually answered.

Twilight’s eyes narrowed, she was beginning to become annoyed again. “Don’t give me that just tell me!” her voice echoing in the silence.

“The device uses a miniature quantum singularity to produce a compressed wave of positively charged Leptons, primarily Antimuons and Antielectrons, each exhibiting the same spin. Up for the first portal and down for the second. That wave impacts the particles making up the portable surface energising quantum level cracks in the fabric of space, destabilising them producing a portal.” GLaDOS answered. “Now that you’re done not understanding quantum physics, please proceeded to the chamber-lock to complete the test.”

Twilights eyes opened wide in shock as GLaDOS spoke. “There’s a black hole attached to my hoof!?” Twilight yelled as GLaDOS completed her explanation, near terror in her voice.

“The stable micro-singularity in the portal device has proven to be safe in ninety nine per cent of circumstances. Please proceed to the chamber-lock to complete the test.”

Twilights fear lessened slightly but she was still on edge as she replied. “Ok, ok, fine. I’ll do your ‘test’ keep your mane on.”

“I do not possess a ‘mane’” the voice of GLaDOS rang down from the ceiling.

Twilight ignored her, instead turning her attention to the chamber. Now she’d seen the portal device she had a very good idea of exactly how to proceed. She trotted over to the pit at the other end of the chamber and peered down it, smiling when she saw the white portable surface on the bottom.

“I assume that momentum is maintained through these portals of yours?” The purple unicorn asked not looking up.

GLaDOS refusing to be surprised anymore by this unicorn, answered with a single word. “Correct.”

Twilight smiled to herself before turning round and shooting a portal at the floor of the chamber under the lowest of the protruding panels. Turning back to the pit she shot the second portal at the floor beneath her before leaping down into it. She accelerated through the portal flying up until she could see down onto the platform. Just as she had expected it to be, the surface was portable. She shot a portal onto this platform as she reached the apex of her flight before falling back down through the portal on the floor of the chamber and up much higher in line with the next platform. She repeated the procedure several more times before reaching the top of the chamber. The last platform in the line was slanted. When she placed a portal onto it she flew out onto a ledge directly ahead of an open door.

“There I’ve done your test.” Twilight said, feeling quite proud of herself. “And I’ll point out that the very fact that it was possible proves that your portals violate the law of conservation of energy, invalidating most of the other laws of physics, this being impossible means that you must be draining some external energy reserve using them.” Not expecting an answer to this Twilight exited the chamber.

Twilight stood in the next chamber examining the lift. “Well, are you going to let me go then?” she asked becoming impatient.

“Test subject must complete all tests. When you complete all tests you will be, ‘missed’” was the only answer from GLaDOS.

“And what exactly does that mean?” the unicorn asked suspiciously.

“Please proceed into the inter-chamber lift to begin the next test.”

The sound of that ‘missed’ worried Twilight; she needed to find a way out of here and soon. She entered the lift guessing that the only way she would find a way out was by continuing, the lift descended slowly into the floor.

The next chamber was dark. It had a low ceiling, no higher than the corridor Twilight had just entered from. The chamber was set up like a maze, glass walls crossing each other with the occasional grate. In one seemingly inaccessible section there was a strong beam of red light falling directly into a corresponding orifice on a wall, a line of orange circles lead out from this across the wall onto a glass panel with an obvious large machine attached to the back, behind this was the only portable surface Twilight could see. There was also a large button on the floor directly ahead of this wall. As Twilight entered the room several childlike voices sounded as white egg like machines activated each with a red beam of its own adding slightly to the light in the room.

Twilight Trotted into the maze, heading for the large button. Part way there she passed a window to one of the abandoned offices, this one level with the floor. Seeing her chance for escape she ran over and bucked at the glass, the window vibrated but did not break.

“Please do not attempt to damage enrichment centre property” came the voice of GLaDOS from the ceiling.

‘If Applejack was here we’d be out by now.’ Twilight thought glumly, the thought resonating with her for a moment before she asked. “Where are my friends anyway? What have you done to them?”

“They are running similar tests in other parts of the facility. They are safe, for now. Continue testing” The machine replied.

Twilight sat down, slightly confused. “If they’re all testing anyway why aren’t we together? If you’re testing to see how we act in these different circumstances wouldn’t it be better for us to be together like we would normally be? We’d be able to get done faster that way” she said.

“My previous experience in corporative testing would indicate that test subjects tend to work better alone. Cooperative testing leads to subjects competing, usually resulting in failure of the test, followed by death. What makes you believe that you would be able to do any better?” GLaDOS asked the unicorn.

“The magic of friendship.” Twilight answered simply.

GLaDOS was appalled; she didn’t want to deal with such nonsense. “Stop this foolishness and continue testing.”

Twilight sighed and stood up she hadn’t thought it would work but it was worth a try. Getting back to the task at hoof Twilight trotted the rest of the way to the large button to see if it gave her any more clues. Standing on the button caused two things to happen, A panel raised itself in front of the light beam, cutting it off which directly caused the glass panel in front of the portable surface lo lower. The portable surface was directly ahead of Twilight now past a grating; Twilight fired her first portal onto it through the grating. Looking round for another portable surface, she spotted two. One at the other side of the room next to its exit and the other directly behind her under a cube shaped object boxed in by yet more gratings. She fired her second portal at the only spot she could reach under the cube sending it flying out across the room. Now seeing exactly how to solve the test Twilight smiled and quickly trotted back through the maze to retrieve the cube, pushing it back with her to the button and placing it upon it. Next she trotted through the maze towards the exit, carefully avoiding the paths containing the egg shaped machines. Twilight didn’t know exactly what these were for but she knew she didn’t want to find out.

GLaDOS was silently watching the unicorns’ progress through the test. She was still bothered by what Twilight had said, it had sounded like another pointless emotion filled response but still, the last time the creature had mentioned magic she had proven herself correct. Perhaps there was something to this after all; maybe these creatures did function better in a group. This needed to be tested further.

Finally Twilight reached her destination, a grate in front of the last portable surface in the room. She turned around checking the colour of her last portal through the glass of the maze. “Blue” she said quietly to herself, turning back she placed the orange portal on the wall behind the grating before returning back through the maze. Now the test was easy, all she needed to do was walk through the pair of interconnected portals and out of the chamber.

As the unicorn took the lift to the next chamber GLaDOS came to a decision. Sending a few commands to the lift mainframe she diverted the path of six express testing elevators to a new set of chambers, it was time to test the science of ‘friendship’.