• Published 20th Oct 2011
  • 26,470 Views, 1,241 Comments

Death Note: Equestria - Nonagon



A deadly notebook called the Death Note lands in Equestria. Chaos ensues.

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Obsession

11
*Obsession*

“Suicide” is always a valid cause of death. All ponies are thought to have the potential to commit suicide. It is, therefore, not something “unbelievable to think of.”

Deep underground, there was no way of telling day from night. As the sun rose over Equestria, the base was kept in darkness. Without an alarm or the rays of Celestia's sun to prise her from her bed, for the first time in her adult life Colgate overslept.

The base was unusually quiet as the blue unicorn stumbled bleary-eyed into the main chamber. L sat in the same position she'd occupied last night, apparently having not moved in over twelve hours. Bon Bon stood nearby, attempting with little success to spoon-feed her a bowl of sugary cereal. Behind her, Derpy Hooves was trying to imitate the mare's implausible sitting position and had gotten herself thoroughly stuck inside one of the regular desk chairs. Colgate shook her head and trotted over to help her out. Locket stopped her halfway. "Um..." The earth pony looked at the ground. "Good morning."

"Good morning." The two blue ponies shifted awkwardly, neither quite able to meet the other's gaze.

"I'm sorry about Berry Punch," Locket blurted out. "I mean, um, I... I'm so sorry. L asked me to keep an eye on you, so I followed you two home from that party, and... it wasn't hard to figure out." She pawed uncertainly at the ground. "Um. So... I don’t know if I can really understand what you must be going through, but if you need somepony to talk to..."

"It's fine." Colgate shook her head and closed her eyes. It was too early in the morning to be grief-stricken. "I'm fine. There will be a time for mourning later. For now, I... I don't want to hear her name again. Not until all this is over."

"Okay." Locket tried to smile but couldn't quite manage it. Her head lowered and she turned away. “You’re a good pony, Colgate.” She grasped desperately for words before turning and rushing off towards the kitchen, her head held lower than ever. Colgate sighed and kept walking.

After a minute of pushing, Colgate was finally able to squeeze Derpy out of her chair with a loud pop. "Oof!" Derpy rose and stretched, luckily seeming none the worse for wear. She turned around and gave the unicorn a painfully tight hug. "Thanks, Colgy!" she said warmly. "All my base are belong to you!"

"Um, thanks?" Colgate brushed the pegasus off and sat down in the now-vacant chair. "You really shouldn't sit that way, you know. You might get hurt."

"Harpy sits funny," Derpy argued, pointing. "And she's smart!"

"She shouldn't sit like that either." Colgate looked up at the unmoving unicorn. "Hey, Harpy. Why do you sit like that, anyway?"

"Hm?" L looked to the side, causing Bon Bon's proffered spoon to collide wetly with her cheek. "I just can't sit the way other ponies do. If I do, my reasoning ability drops by 40%."

"See?" Derpy looked around for another chair.

"Miss Hooves, don't you start work soon?"

The pegasus jumped up and gasped. "My muffins!" With surprising speed she zipped over to the base's main door and vanished.

L sighed. "Bon Bon, could you open the trapdoor for-" There was a loud thump. "Quickly, please."

As the cream pony rushed over to the door, Colgate scooted a little closer. “So, what’s our plan now, oh glorious leader?” she said coldly. L didn’t immediately respond. “I’ve trusted you so far. Please, don’t let that trust be unfounded. Don’t tell me you’ve given up just because you’ve lost your favorite lead.”

“Lead?” The detective finally looked her way. “My dear Colgate, there are always leads.” L's face lit up. "There are always loose threads, unfinished ends, different angles to lead us to the villain. All we have to do is find them. And on that note..." L flexed her muscles and, to the police pony's shock, rose out of her chair. She stumbled slightly as all four hooves hit the floor, then stretched out her back with a series of dull popping sounds. "Ah, that's better." The change was radical and instantaneous; instead of its usual cold flatness her voice sounded positively cheery. She smiled, a real, natural smile that actually reached her eyes. She brushed aside Bon Bon's proffered hoof and stood proudly on her own. "I'm going out."

Bon Bon gasped. "I'll get my cloak," she said, fussily gathering up the bowl and spoon.

“Thanks, but I’ll be fine on my own.” The detective bounced lightly from hoof to hoof, stretching her legs well after prolonged time in her chair. “I think I can handle myself for a couple of hours.”

Colgate stared, agape. If she hadn’t seen the change she wouldn’t have guessed this was the same pony. “B-but what about your identity?” she stammered. “I thought you never showed your face to anypony. You can’t just go outside without a disguise!”

“No, it’s cool. Watch this!” L focused and a sickly green light enveloped her forehead. Slowly, with much grunting and straining, her horn started to shrink. It shortened inch by inch as if it was being sucked into her skull before vanishing completely under her skin, not even leaving a mark. “See? Perfect disguise.” The detective shook her now hornless head, letting her mane fall more naturally across her forehead. “L is a unicorn. Everypony knows Harpy Chords is an earth pony. Flawless.” While the blue unicorn was taking this in, L bounded Pinkie Pie-style over to the base’s exit and opened the door. "Oh, and if I die in the next few days, Twilight is Kira." Without another word she started up the stairs and the great iron doors clanged shut behind her.

---

First stop, of course, was Sugar Cube Corner.

"Here you are, dearie." Mrs. Cake lowered a large box onto the counter. "Two dozen doughnuts and one strawberry shake. That's fourteen bits, please."

L shook a hoof-full of coins out of a bag onto the counter, not bothering to count them. "Keep the change," she said cheerfully. "Also, could I speak to Pinkie Pie, please? I understand she works here."

Mrs. Cake shook her head, dropping the coins into the register. To her mild puzzlement she found she had exactly fourteen. "I'm sorry, dear, but I haven't seen her all day. She should have been here an hour ago."

L seemed unfazed by this information. "That's okay. I'll stop by later and check again." She put the box of doughnuts onto her back and wrapped her shake up in her hoof, sucking greedily on the straw as she started towards the door on three legs.

"If you see her, tell her we're expecting her!" Mrs. Cake called after the mint green visitor. As the unicorn walked outside, she allowed her face to collapse into a more worried expression. "Such a nice girl," she said to herself. "I do hope she's all right..."

---

At the same time, Rainbow Dash finally emerged from the kitchen area with crumbs around her lips. She glanced casually around and made her way over to the abacus, trying a little too hard to look nonchalant. Jazz gave her a hard, suspicious stare as she approached. "Hey," she said.

"Good morning, miss Dash," Jazz said gruffly. He became increasingly tense as she sauntered closer to the wooden structure. "Is there something I can help you with?"

"Sure! I mean, um, not really, you know." The filly momentarily floundered for words. While Jazz had been perfectly civil in the kitchen, nice even, now that he was back in his element he looked much more intimidating. “Uh... you know, when I first met you I thought you were kind of lame. But since I’ve been talking to you, you turned out to be a pretty cool guy.”

“My opinion of you remains unchanged,” the stallion intoned.

Rainbow Dash chose to take this as a compliment. “Thanks. So, you know, I was just wondering...” She gulped. "This abacus... thing. How does it work?"

"How does it work?" Jazz twitched, then the corners of his mouth flicked up into a cold smile. "How does it work? Little lady, Minty works through some of the most complex spatial and mathematical formulas ever devised. The blending of wooden and crystal structures requires such unbelievable fine-tuning and attention to detail as to require decades of study even to grasp the basic principles of, an education which you, my dear, are sorely lacking in."

Rainbow Dash glared momentarily, then shook off the insult and took another step forward. "I get that," she said flatly. "And I don't really care about all the inside stuff. What I want to know is, how do you get it to work? Like, you just push beads around and you make stuff happen. How do you know how to do that?"

Jazz was silent for a few seconds before breaking into a harsh laugh that made Dash's skin crawl. "Hah! You want to know how to operate an Analytical Engine, do you?" He guffawed at the thought. "It requires great skill, discipline, multitasking, the ability to memorize large amounts of data and recreate them flawlessly. I sincerely doubt that you have the capabilities."

"Are you saying I can't do it?" Dash growled.

“You haven’t the schooling.”

“So? All you do is push beads around. It’s just like flying.” She flapped her wings once. “When I do tricks, I don’t care about care about angles and altitude and all that dumb stuff they teach at flight schools. I just find what works and I do it. If you can show me the controls, why would I need any of that other stuff?”

Jazz raised a hoof and gingerly pinched the bridge of his nose. “Look, my little pony,” he said. “This isn’t the kind of skill one can pick up in a fortnight. It requires time and dedication to learn, and you are already at a natural disadvantage. Why on earth would you want to put that much work into a skill you will never have the opportunity to use?”

“Because...” Dash bit her lip and looked around. Spike was presumably still in bed and Locket was nowhere to be seen. The only other ponies in the room were Colgate and Bon Bon, and they seemed more occupied with throwing worried glances at each other than listening to her. The pegasus lowered her voice. “Because everypony else has something,” she admitted. “Everyone else here has some secret talent that L can use. I don’t. She never asks for my help with anything. I want to help my friends, but being the best flier is useless if I’m stuck down here. I want to do something... anything to help.” She looked at Jazz pleadingly. “Won’t you teach me?”

Jazz also spoke more softly. “There's a reason only unicorns are trained in the practice,” he said gently. “You are a pegasus. Without magic you would have to do everything by hoof, one bead at a time, without being able to look at the whole picture or even directly at what you were doing. Even if you were able to learn the needed formulas, the required speed to perform even the simplest of calculations would-"

"Speed?" Rainbow Dash took to the air and hovered in front of the unicorn, glaring hard. "Don't talk to me about speed! They don't call me Rainbow Dash for nothing!" She whirled around and flew a circuit of the room in little over a second. "I can keep up with anything!"

Jazz stood still for a few seconds, appearing to think. A hint of a smile appeared momentarily before he forced it down and turned to the side of the abacus nearest him. "This face is the primary input panel. Most simple operations are performed through here. Number input is at eye level, while letters and symbols cover the next three rows..."

---

By the time L arrived at the Books and Branches Library, her shake was completely empty. She gave a final slurp on the straw before dropping the cup on the ground and walking inside.

Despite Twilight's efforts to clean up, the inside of the library looked even more chaotic than usual. Books of all shapes and sizes were stacked in disorganized piles all around the circular main room, while some of the shelves had been completely emptied. In the middle of it all the purple unicorn lay sprawled on a bed of encyclopedias, poring over A Spotter's Guide to Gemstones. L carefully placed her box of doughnuts on the counter by the door and approached the unicorn. So engrossed was she in the guide that she didn't notice the arrival of the new pony until she walked right up to her and coughed. "Augh!" Twilight Sparkle dropped the book in surprise and flung up her hooves to defend herself. She then smiled meekly when she saw the intruder was a friendly-looking earth pony. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn’t see you there.”

L chuckled. “Are you always this way around patrons?” She helped the unicorn up.

“No, it’s my fault. I live upstairs, so sometimes I forget this is still a public building.” She raised a hoof politely. “I’m Twilight Sparkle. And... do I know you? I feel like I’ve seen you around.”

“It’s possible. I have a lot of family here.” The pair shook hooves. “My name is Harpy Chords. I’m here for... well, I’m here for a book.”

Twilight smiled sheepishly as she looked at the towers of texts around them. “I’m sorry about the mess. If your book’s in here it may take a little while to find.”

“No, I wouldn’t think so.” L leaned over and inspected the nearest stack. “You’re studying... gemstones?”

“Golems, actually.” Twilight's eyes lit up with the faint glow of obsession. "There's just so much information here that I never found anywhere in Canterlot! It looks like the story of the golem became popular during the civil war, but there are references to earthen creatures from as early as..." She trailed off, sensing that she was rambling. "I'm sorry, I do that sometimes. What kind of book were you looking for?"

“Don’t worry about it.” L beamed brilliantly. "I was actually looking for something from the archives. Could you tell me where that is, please?"

A bubble of suspicion welled up in Twilight's mind, but she pushed it aside. "Sure, it's right this way." She led the earth pony to the staircase leading down into the library's basement. "There's some old scientific equipment down there, so try not to touch anything that looks too expensive."

L giggled. "You can count on me," she said, starting down the steps. Twilight watched her go for a few seconds before returning to her studies.

A few minutes later the green pony reappeared. "Excuse me," she said quietly, breaking Twilight more gently out of her reading, "but I can't seem to find the book I'm looking for."

A sharp coldness shot through Twilight. She raised her head and forced a concerned frown, hoping desperately that this wasn’t going where she thought it was going. “That’s strange. All the books should be clearly labeled. Are you sure you’re looking in the right section?”

“Yes, I checked twice. It seems to be missing.” The green pony gave Twilight a searching stare. “It’s the latest edition of the Equestrian Justice Records.”

Several thoughts went through Twilight’s mind simultaneously. The first, and by far the loudest, was Uh-oh.

Several more coherent thoughts followed. Who is this pony? Who does she work for? How much does she know? She stared into the earth pony’s eyes. She’s watching for my reaction! she realized. Quick, what would I normally do in this situation? “That’s odd,” Twilight found herself saying, keeping her voice at an appropriate level of concern. “Nopony’s supposed to remove books from the archives. Could you show me where it should be?”

The green mare nodded. “Of course.” The pair started towards the basement steps.

As the two ponies descended, Twilight’s thoughts raced furiously. First came a slight sense of relief. A while ago Byuk had gotten bored watching Twilight study, and was now napping upstairs. Though by rights the god should have no need for sleep, he seemed to spend more time dozing off than Rainbow Dash. She counted this as a stroke of luck; she couldn’t afford to have his disruptive presence throwing off her act. If this pony caught her casting glances at an unheard invisible entity, her whole career might end up being compromised.

On that note, who was this pony? There was no way this could be the result of idle curiosity. Since no one ever went down into the archives outside of librarians, very few ponies even knew that enchanted records existed. The mare’s age made it unlikely that she was still in school, so she probably wasn’t doing research for a project. Maybe if she came from one of the universities in Canterlot... but then, why would she need to come all the way to Ponyville just for the records? This left only one stomach-turning conclusion: she was somepony who had made the connection that an enchanted records book would be a valuable asset for Kira. That left very little doubt about who she could be working for.

For a moment a glimmer of fear caused Twilight to pause, but it was quickly replaced by a chilling coldness hidden behind a friendly smile. I’m on to you, Harpy Chords, she thought, letting her eyes drift to the light turquoise form in front of her. You’re here because you’re desperate. You’re looking for a reaction. You wouldn’t have revealed yourself in such an obvious way if you had any evidence against me. Well, you won’t get anything from me today. I can see right through you.

All this passed through Twilight’s head in the time it took for both ponies to reach the bottom of the stairs. From there it was a short walk to the space where the Equestrian justice records should have been. The shelf was almost completely full; while enchanted records had existed for well over a century, the magic would wear out of the books after a few years, leaving the older editions to be used as permanent records. It was the latest, self-updating version that the pair were after, though, and its space at the end of the shelf was conspicuously empty. “Right there,” L pointed. “Do you have any idea where it might have gone?”

Twilight thought carefully, though not about the question posed. “I’m not sure,” she answered. “I’m not technically a librarian, but I try to keep track of what books ponies check out. But we work mostly on an honour system, and this is still a public building. If somepony came down here without my knowing, then it could have been taken by... just about anypony.” Her face fell. She knew that if she wasn’t aware the text was hidden away in her secret compartment upstairs, she would be absolutely devastated by the theft. “This is my fault. I should have kept a closer eye on them. I don’t even know when this might have happened.”

The mint pony patted Twilight on the shoulder reassuringly. “It’s not your fault. Nopony can be expected to watch over their stock all the time.”

“Nopony should have to,” Twilight muttered, then winced. She hadn’t meant for that to slip out. Thankfully, the green mare didn’t seem to have noticed.

“Oh well.” L sighed and turned away. “Looks like this was a dead end. Still, no matter. It was only a hunch anyway.”

“Um... Harpy?” Twilight decided to take a risk. L looked back towards her, something unreadable in her eyes. “This may sound like a strange question, but...” This is it. “Do you work for L?”

At first there was silence. For a few seconds an invisible tension wrapped around the two ponies, binding them together. Then the mint pony shifted and the spell was broken. “That is a strange question,” she said in a quieter voice. “What makes you ask that?”

“Well...” I need to be careful how I phrase this. “There have been a lot of strange things going on lately. Spike, my assistant, told me that he’d been working directly with L, so I know that there’s somepony in Ponyville who’s at least calling himself that. You’re somepony I’ve never seen in the library before, but you know about a book that most ponies have no reason to look for. I don’t think you’re a student or a researcher, so the only thing you could want with this particular book...” She gulped. “Is because it has something to do... with Kira. And the only group of ponies who want anything to do with Kira are the ones who work for L.”

The green pony was silent for a few seconds. “Interesting,” she said at length, appearing to mull Twilight’s words over. “Tell me, do you have a kitchen in this building?”

Twilight blinked. “Um, yes. It’s upstairs. Why, do you need something?”

“I could just really go for a drink right now.”

A few minutes later, both ponies sat at opposite ends of the library's kitchen table. L squatted awkwardly in her chair, clutching a large glass of milk in her front hooves. Twilight watched, bemused, as the mare drank greedily. "Tell me, Twilight," L said between gulps, "why do you think I came to the library?"

"Um. To look for the record books, and to see if you could track it down." L gave her a strange look. Twilight frowned. "No, wait. If you do work for L, then you would have sent Spike, since he knows the library as well as I do. That means that you had another purpose in coming here, which means you probably came... to see me."

L nodded slowly. "I like the way you think, Twilight," she said, lowering her now-empty glass. "Most ponies would cling to the most obvious solution, not wanting to think any more than they had to. Not you. You challenge your original assumptions and pursue a problem all the way to its solution. I appreciate that."

"Thanks." Twilight smiled at the praise. "I consider myself an intellectual."

"As do I." The green mare smiled thinly and closed her eyes, as though thinking hard. "Twilight Sparkle... what do you think about Kira?"

"Huh?" Twilight considered her response. The other pony cracked one eye open slightly, watching her carefully through the slit. I'm not the best liar. I can't tell a complete untruth, she'd see right through it. But if I just twist the truth a little... "Well, I'm interested in the magic he uses. And statistics have shown that after he started... you know... crime rates have been declining across Equestria. But I still don't think that killing is the right thing to do. Social reform is what we need, not murder."

L nodded slowly. "You know, there are many ponies who believe that Kira is good for Equestria. Thanks to him, many evil and unrighteous ponies who, without his intervention, would have caused great harm to others are now dead. Knowing this, given the choice, would you arrest Kira and prevent him from carrying out these acts?"

"Yes." Twilight nodded emphatically. "No matter what he's done, murder is still murder. Even if it was done for the right reasons, everypony should still have to face the consequences of their actions." Her eyes widened slightly. "Is that what this is about? Is this a test? Do you want me to join your team?"

"Everything is a test." L fully opened her eyes. "One more question, Twilight Sparkle. Perhaps the most important one.” She leaned forward. “Given the opportunity... would you kill me?”

“Huh?” Twilight’s lips moved soundlessly for a few seconds. “W-why would I want to kill you?”

The green mare stared in silence for a full minute, as though searching for something. She then stood, looking away. “Well, miss Sparkle, this has certainly been eye-opening.” She trotted away, her original demeanor returning. “It’s been fun talking to you. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around in the future.”

“Wait, you’re leaving? Already?” Twilight stood as well and followed L to the door. “Did you need anything else before you go?”

“Oh, I’d like to stay longer, but my wife will worry about me.” She picked up the box she’d left on the counter and smiled back at Twilight. “Don’t worry. Your heart is in the right place. I’d like to talk to you again soon. Until then, my friend.”

Twilight smiled back and watched the green pony skip out the door. “Until then,” she repeated, only half to the retreating form. After L had gone she returned to the kitchen and sat down again, sighing contentedly.

As the minutes went by, however, the smile slowly drained from the unicorn’s face. “Oh.” She furrowed her brow, realization dawning. “Oh. So that was your game.” She began to tremble. “Darn it.” She stomped angrily and threw her face into her hooves, screaming. “DARN IT!”

“Huh? Wuzzat?” Byuk’s face drifted down through the ceiling, blinking sleep out of his oversized eyes. “What’s going on?”

“That pony who was just here,” Twilight hissed through gritted teeth. “She was L.”

“What!?” The god fell down into the kitchen and quickly righted himself, looking around excitedly. “The real L? How could you tell?”

“Because she admitted to being Kira.”

After taking a minute to explain the events that had just occurred, Twilight took to angrily pacing around the kitchen. Byuk followed her with his eyes, trying not to smile. “She was feeding me hints the whole time,” the unicorn muttered. “She never confirmed that she was with the police, and she told me to challenge my initial assumptions. All those questions about morality, it was all a big test. It all pointed to the final question, which was where I was supposed to realize she was confessing to being Kira. Only a clever pony could have worked it out... but I’m supposed to be a clever pony.” She groaned dramatically. “So now she either thinks I’m not smart enough to be on the team, or that I never realized what she was doing because I already know who Kira is.”

Byuk opened his mouth, then paused. He scratched his head. “Run that by me again?”

Instead of answering, Twilight spun around and continued pacing, her heavy hoofsteps echoing loudly in the tiny room. “And you know the worst part?” she carried on. “I can’t even kill her now. She thought of that, too.”

“Really?” Byuk brightened up. “Because I can still give you the Shinigami Eyes if you want. That offer is still there. That way, if you see her in person again-”

“No, no, no! I don’t mean I can’t do it physically, I mean I can’t kill her at all. Don’t you get it?” She whirled on the puzzled god. “She showed her face to me! Just me, nopony else! That means that if she dies now, I’ll be the only one who could have done it!”

The shinigami frowned. Watching Twilight get huffy was less fun when she took it out on him. The young mare finally ceased her pacing and sat down, putting her face in her hooves again and taking deep breaths to calm herself. Gradually, after a few minutes of this, she started to relax a little. “It’s fine,” she said in a much calmer tone. “Everything’s fine. This is still a step forward. L’s still got nothing on me, but now I’m much closer to her than I was before. I’ll figure something out, you’ll see. I’ve still got some tricks up my sleeves. This game isn’t over yet.”

“You’re not even wearing-”

“It’s an expression.”

“Oh.”

---

“Vacations!” The brown earth pony Crew Cut pounded his hoof angrily on his desk, gripping the stem of his pipe tightly between his teeth. The pipe itself was empty - Nurse Redheart had strongly recommended he give up blowing bubbles for the sake of his health - but it still felt good to have something to grind on when he was in a bad mood. “Endless paid vacations! First Peachy Pie demands week after week off work when her idiotic coltfriend bit the bucket, and now her sister wants some alone time too? Unacceptable!” The station manager stomped on the wooden surface with each statement, eliciting a wince every time from the other pony in the room. “We must have content! This station will not operate itself on reruns! Don’t you agree, Highlight?”

The pink pegasus, the latest in a long line of easily-intimidated assistants, nodded meekly. Around them the Ponyville hub station bustled and hummed. The circular building rivaled the town hall in size, spanning four busy floors of sound stages, writing desks and the latest in crystal technology. The whole building buzzed constantly as lines of energy traveled in glowing streams towards the hub crystal that gave the station its name, a mighty amethyst that collected light and sound and broadcast it at different frequencies around Ponyville.

Despite the relative newness of the technology involved, the station was surprisingly well organized; under Crew Cut’s iron hoof everything worked with near-total efficiency. It was for this reason that Highlight was reluctant to bring up anything that might threaten to disrupt his boss’ schedule; a manager’s wrath was a hard thing to endure under any circumstances. Unfortunately, he’d quickly discovered that trying to hide such things or deal with them himself only led to far worse results in the long run. “There’s one other thing, Mr. Cut,” Highlight said meekly. “A slight change in the schedule for tomorrow.”

“Oh, really?” Crew Cut leaned forwards, leering angrily. “By whose authority?”

“The...” Highlight held up a tiny package that had arrived in the post that morning. “The highest authority, sir.”

The earth pony accepted the parcel with a puzzled look and began tearing away at the packaging. It had already been opened once, then hastily taped shut. “You mean Celestia herself?” he grunted around his pipe.

“No, sir.” Highlight was now sweating profusely. “The highest authority.”

Crew Cut finally got the package open. It contained two tiny recording crystals, the cheapest variety, only able to capture sound. Both were marked with stickers that looked like they came from a child’s play set: the first with a number 1 surrounded by a smiling sun, the other with a number 2 covered in cartoon birds. “Is this some kind of joke, Highlight?” Crew Cut said coldly.

“No, sir.” Highlight was sweating more, surreptitiously trying to back away from the desk. “I’ve listened to the first one myself, and...” His voice caught in his throat. “It’s already started,” he mumbled.

Ordinarily, Crew Cut would have passed the crystals on to one of his aides and told them to deal with it. However, his assistant’s bizarre reaction was giving him pause; Highlight was prone to melodrama, but not this much. “All right,” he said, “let’s have a listen.” He lifted the sunny number 1 crystal out of the package and placed it on top of the little stratoscreen on his desk. The audio recording began to play.

When it was finished, Crew Cut’s pipe fell out of his mouth. “H-Highlight,” he stammered. “It looks like we have some changes to make to tomorrow’s schedule.”

---

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I was reminded about the importance and dangers of first impressions. When you spend all your time around the same group of ponies, meeting someone new can be strange if they don’t act or think in the way that your other friends do. But even if they seem unusual at first, you should never brand somepony as weird or different because of it. Deep down, they might be just the same as you - you just have to give them the chance to show it. At the same time, it’s important to remember how you come across to others when you meet them. After all, first impressions go both ways.

Your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle.

PS: Are my letters reaching you okay? I’m still anxiously awaiting a response regarding our golem problem.