• Published 26th Mar 2012
  • 15,927 Views, 770 Comments

The Past is the Future - the_panic



A human escaping from a nuclear holocaust brings change to all of Equestria and a certain librarian.

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How Long Was I Out?

Standing in the dimly-lit room, surrounded by crumbling cinderblock walls, Sam Mitchell stared at himself in the mirror. The single, feeble yellow lightbulb hanging over the cot behind him revealed an exhausted figure glaring back from the mirror. The weak light didn't do any favors for his pale complexion, and dulled the color of his eyes. He remembered that they used to be a bright blue. A long-established diet of war rations and military meals-ready-to-eat had left him with a thin, lean build, exaggerated by the unkempt mass of brown hair on his head.

"Today's the day", he noted.

The war had been raging for some time now, and the shells just kept falling. How one had not been dropped on THIS research station was a miracle, as it seemed like they got closer every day. Only a few nuclear bombs had been detonated, but they had managed to ruin and contaminate enough land to cover a huge portion of the planet in radioactive fallout. Even if anyone survived the war, there wouldn't be much left to go back to. Not for at least a few hundred years, anyway, hence the reason for today's "festivities", as they had begun to be referred to around the station.

Time-viewing had long been achievable, though actual time-travel was still in the works. Once string theory and M-theory had finally been combined into one workable "theory of everything" earlier at the turn of the 23rd century, it was just a matter of time before that level of technology was attained. It was also the cause of the war; as if out of a Greek tragedy, each country with access to time-viewing technology saw a future filled with attacks and conflicts, provoking them into becoming the very cause of those attacks by launching "preemptive strikes."

Sam reflected on the events leading to today. How fitting, then, that the very technology that started all of this would be what could hopefully save a part of humanity.

Today was to be the culmination of a year's worth of work. After several failed attempts over the previous months, last week the research team had finally sent something into the future: a living animal, a dog named Laika. Unlike her namesake, this dog survived the trip. When they activated the capsule, it appeared to vanish, only to reappear precisely five hours later. The clock sent with the dog registered a much shorter elapsed time, mere seconds. Today would be much different, though; in attempt to escape to a place untouched by war and nuclear fallout, Sam, his family, the scientists, and various other lottery-selected citizens would be using these capsules to send themselves a few hundred years into the future. By then, it was estimated that mother nature would have healed some of the ravages of war and that much of the nuclear fallout would have dissipated. Each capsule would be carrying with it a single passenger, a few personal luxuries, and a digital archive containing a history of human civilization and technical details regarding the passenger's occupation. Additionally, a survival kit featuring collapsible shelter, basic tools, a few meals-ready-to-eat, and a "universal translator" of sorts was stored in another compartment to give the survivor an initial boost. The capsule itself had removable panels that revealed solar cells to help power any initial colonies.

Sam had had his "personal luxuries" packed for days now; all he really wanted was his computer and digital music player. His laptop contained all that remained of his life before the war: photographs, books, favorite movies, music, and the project files from his job as a computer hardware engineer. Likewise, his archive would contain a veritable how-to on recreating almost every piece of computational and electronic technology Sam's country had produced.

He stood up, adjusted his blue, one-size-fits-all cloth shirt and pants, and grabbed his bag. He made a few steps down the hallway, just as decrepit and gray as his room, to claim his spot in the fleet of time-capsules. Sam was halfway through, and checking his watch when a massive quake tore through the complex.

Immediately sirens and warning lights screamed to life. A panicked voice on the intercom began shouting orders to scramble to the capsules. Not wanting to hang around to find out what happened, Sam sprinted through the corridor towards the capsule hangar, trying not to knock over or run into any of the other equally frantic base occupants. As he continued towards the hangar, he passed through a section of hallway featuring one of the only five windows on-base. What he saw froze him in his tracks and made his blood run cold: just on the edge of the horizon, Sam saw the flared top of a mushroom cloud blocking out the setting sun.

Snapping out of his horror, Sam noticed the crowd in the corridor had long outpaced him. He knew there were only mere minutes before the shockwave hit the base. His mind devoid of nearly any other thought, Sam raced as fast as he could to the capsule hangar. After what felt like an eternity of running, Sam was greeted by the sight of a grid of steel coffins laid out on the ground. Several capsules had already been activated and sent on their way; the remaining pods were still in the process of fading from the current time period. Though he had no time to express it, he was relieved that everyone else was safely on their way to the future.

Sam raced to his designated pod, and jumped in. He scrambled to enter the correct activation commands. Just as the hum of the time-engine began, he felt the world turn upside down as the nuclear shockwave hit the base, and his capsule. Even through the reinforced steel of the capsule, the roar of the inferno outside deafened him. He didn't even have time to scream before it all went silent.

---

The sun shone brightly; it was yet another beautiful day in Canterlot. The shopkeepers happily showed off their wares for the high-class ponies that window-shopped their way through the cobblestoned-streets. The stone and stucco walls of the buildings looked as if they'd been cleaned only moments ago. In the cafes, mares with perfectly-coiffed manes and intricately-designed dresses chatted idly as they sipped their tea.

This serene scene of everyday life was soon interrupted, as a bright orange flash illuminated the market square, followed by a loud crash and clattering of steel as a flaming, battered metal capsule came tumbling out of thin air, tearing out chunks of cobblestone as it careened into one of the many dress shops along the street.

As the dust settled, a brown stallion from the cobbler's shop next door stepped forward to examine the wreckage. Seeing a few flames beginning to leap about, he quickly stomped those out, and turned his attention to the charred, dented metal box that caused this. Extending a hoof to touch it, he swiftly jerked it back with a yelp; he could get no closer than a few inches from the thing without the tough, keratinous tissue of his hoof beginning to smolder.

A matter of minutes later, the shining armor of the Canterlot Royal Guard blocked the public's view. A crowd had long gathered around them, trying to peer over the guards' shoulders. Once the metal had cooled a little, the guards began inspecting the pod and brushing the charred remains of shredded cloth off of it, searching for any kind of writing or distinctive marks that hadn't been scraped off by the heat and impact.

One of the guards managed to partially pry open the lid; seeing the unconscious alien within, he quickly slammed it shut, and matter-of-factly said to his sergeant, "Sir, maybe we should inform the Princess."

The squad leader nodded. "While we wait for further instructions from Her Highness, let's get this... Thing... To the castle dungeons."

---

Sam awoke to find himself restrained on a gurney in what appeared to be a medieval dungeon. His eyes struggled to see in the torch-lit cell. Looking around, he saw two ponies alternating their gaze between him and their notepads, separated from him by a set of thick iron bars. One pony had a white, frizzed-out mane, an equally pale coat, and a pair of spectacles balanced on his muzzle. The other, younger-looking equine was a navy blue, with a short shock of green hair for a mane with what appeared to be a horn on its forehead. Both were wearing something resembling lab coats.

"Ponies...?" Sam shook his head a few times, not sure if he was hallucinating or having some sort of bizarre dream. He was leaning towards dreaming, considering the coloration of the more youthful pony, and the strange sounds coming out of their mouths. It almost sounded like speech, but like no language he'd ever heard before.

The two lab ponies, as Sam mentally named them, seemed to be conversing with the guards. The guards didn't seem to have nearly as much enthusiasm as the lab ponies had for whatever they'd written down. Though it would be futile to speak, Sam reasoned, he figured it wouldn't hurt to at least try to say something.

"Hey! Can you hear me?" Sam stared right at the white lab pony. It responded by excitedly jotting something else down.

---

"Professor Hoofstein, is that thing trying to speak to us?" Bunsen asked, moving his green mane out of his eyes.

The white pony adjusted his lab coat, "Why yes, I think it just might be! It's too early to say for certain, but judging by its morphology, particularly the shape of its head and the fact that it has opposable thumbs, it appears to be some sort of primate, possibly even one possessing sapience!"

"Should I loosen its restraints so that we can attempt to interact with it?" Bunsen asked curiously.

The bound alien shouted something, startling the pair of researchers.

Professor Hoofstein's pupils shrank. "Oh, Celestia, no! Not yet. It could be a dangerous species, whatever it is. Possibly a predator of sorts, given the forward-facing placement of its eyes. You heard the Princess when she called us here, our first assignment is to assess any possible threats this creature may pose. Which test would you like to try first?"

Bunsen raised a hoof to his chin and stared up at the ceiling. "Well, we may be testing it, but I don't think we aim to torture or starve it. Might as well go ahead and attempt to discern its diet."

Hoofstein nodded in agreement. "Very well. Grab that cart at the end of the hallway and bring it here."

The younger researcher left, returning a few seconds later with a wooden cart bearing a few different kinds of fruit, vegetables, some dairy products, and a few cages containing a rabbit, squirrel, and a mouse. The elder scientist mentally recoiled a bit at the thought of possibly feeding a carnivore, but it was, after all, part of the test, he reasoned.

The guard opened the cell. Bunsen placed the food near the gurney that the creature was bound to, and unlocked the cages containing the rodents, leaving the hungry guest to open them at its leisure.

"Bunsen, feel free to undo the restraints once the cell is closed."

Upon hearing the lock click, Bunsen concentrated and his horn began to glow a light green, as did the canvas straps on the creature's limbs as they loosened and fell away. The alien looked at both ponies, who could detect some confusion in its eyes. Hoofstein raised a hoof and pointed it at the food.

---

Guessing that the pony was signaling for him to examine what they'd put in the cell, Sam began picking through the pile. He wasn't sure why they'd put the little animals in with him, but the fruits, (at least he thought they were fruits), were pretty enticing to him, so he began to eat. Picking up a red fruit that vaguely resembled a cross between a strawberry and a pear, he took a small bite at first, in case it was poisonous to him, and set it down for a few minutes. He noticed that the two lab ponies had confused expressions on their faces.

After a few moments, Sam was feeling no ill effects. In any case, the fruit was sweet and his growling stomach demanded more, so he obliged. The lab ponies seemed elated by this as he stuffed his face with the various fruits, vegetables, and cheeses before him. Their expressions of excitement, however, quickly turned to shock as Sam turned his attention to the caged animals next to the veggie pile.

As he began petting the rabbit, he heard a collective sigh from the pair when he offered the rabbit a carrot.

---

Bunsen was grinning. "Does that mean its safe for us to get closer to it now?"

The Professor was more restrained. "Not quite, but its certainly a good step in the right direction. Next we need to examine the objects that it was found with." He pointed towards the saddlebags leaning on the corridor wall. "Let's start with this thing." The Professor pulled out a thin, curved, wiry object. It seemed to be made out of a flexible material, and certainly didn't seem capable of cutting, burning, or firing anything at anypony. One end had a small, foam tip, while the other end terminated in a rounded black box with a sort of hook.

The creature saw the Professor holding that, and began making motions toward both its ear and the Professor's ear, while loudly crying something out.

Bunsen scratched his head. "It seems to want that thing to touch yours and its ears together?"

"I'm not sure... One second... Oh! There are two of these... Things." Hoofstein leaned closer to the cell bars. The creature slowly moved towards the bars, holding its forelimbs out and the bottom of its front paws extended out flat. Once only a few inches separated the Professor and the alien, the alien turned its head and fully pulled its hair away from its ear.

"Bunsen, look at the shape of this hook," pointing to the heftier end of the object, "It looks as if it would fit on the creatures ear!" Hoofstein tapped the creature's shoulder, causing it to look him dead in the eyes. He lifted a hoof, pointed at the device, and then pointed at the side of the aliens head. The creature responded by repeating the gesture, and turned its ear towards the Professor again.

The Professor slowly hooked the object onto the creature's head. It then responded by pointing to the other, identical device, and pointed back to the Professor's own ears. He put the device on as securely as he could, given how different his own ears were. The creature then tapped something on the boxy end of the device, causing the one on the Professor's head to give out a small "BEEP."

"Professor, what are you doing?" Bunsen cocked his head.

"I'm not sure. Keep watching it." Hoofstein saw the creature making gestures towards its mouth and his own mouth, and it seemed to be gibbering endlessly.

Suddenly, the Professor heard a strange voice coming from the device on his ear, "Can... hear... me?"

---

"Can you hear me?" Sam practically shouted into the microphone on his ear. He continued speaking and gesturing to his mouth, hoping the pony would pick up on what was going on. He just needed for both of them to speak into these devices long enough for the translation algorithm to pick up some of the basics of converting between both languages.

Eventually, Sam heard the mechanical voice in his ear respond, "What... this... thing... ear?" The pony was moving its hoof towards its ear.

"Translator! Can you understand me at all?" Sam was elated to finally figure out what was going on.

---

"Can understand me?" The Professor heard it again.

He turned towards Bunsen. "This must be some sort of magical translator! The sentences are becoming a bit more clear and well structured. The creature just asked me 'can understand me?' !"

Bunsen's jaw dropped. "Incredible!"

---

After roughly an hour of them exchanging basic sentences, Sam found that the translation was becoming more comprehensible.

"I am Professor Hoofstein. The pony next to me is Bunsen. What are you?"

Sam stood still, staring in shock at the scene before him. I've just traveled in time, and am now a prisoner of sapient ponies. Who can talk. What. The. Hell.

The professor knocked a hoof against the cell bars, snapping Sam out of his daydream.

Sam startled slightly, and adjusted his mic. "Sorry. My name is Sam Mitchell. I am a human male. Why am I locked up? Where are the other humans? They were in capsules like mine."

Hoofstein shook his head. "We have never seen your kind before. You are locked up because we are studying you. For now, we are assessing if you pose us a threat. We saw no other capsules or... Humans? We only found you. But, there will be time for YOUR questions later. First thing's first, how did you get here, and WHY are you here?" The white pony had a slightly incredulous look on his face.

Sam considered arguing, but he realized, at least for now, it was probably best to cooperate. These ponies did at least do him the favor of not *immediately* assuming he was out to hurt them.

"Fair enough, I suppose. It's a long story, but the short version is that my people were caught in the middle of a massive, global war, and we tried to escape it by transporting ourselves into the future by using capsules like the one you apparently found me in."

Hoofstein took this information surprisingly well. He began scratching his head. "That is quite interesting. Provided we can reconstruct that machine of yours, that will certainly further our own understanding of time travel."

Sam doubted they'd be able to understand the time engine, but was intrigued that they might be familiar with time travel. "Your society is capable of time travel?"

Hoofstein nodded. "Somewhat. The spells we have developed through history have only allowed us brief, temporary existence in other time periods."

Sam's mind had stepped out of the building again. "Ahem, Sam? Are you ok?" Hoofstein coughed.

Sam shook his head as if something had landed on it, snapping back to attention.

"Spells? As in magic?" Sam's eyebrow was on the verge of rising right off of his forehead.

"Of course! You didn't think Bunsen's horn here was just for show, did you?" The Professor mumbled something to Bunsen, whose unintelligible response was accompanied by a slight chuckle.

"I guess I did. How does this magic work? Can you use it?" Sam was fascinated by the idea of this; it hadn't hit him until this point that when he was released, his restraints seemed to just let him go of their own volition.

"Me? No, I'm just an earth pony. As for where magic comes from... Well, frankly we've never really stopped to consider that." Hoofstein turned to Bunsen, and they conversed briefly in their own language. "Bunsen says it's second nature, as if it's an extra limb or an extension of your mind."

Sam scratched his chin. He theorized that, maybe, just maybe, 'magic' was a form of manipulation of quantum physics, and unicorns were a species capable of this. Shaking his head, he remembered he had his own questions that still needed answering.

"So, am I going to be allowed any questions yet?"

"Not yet. There's still the matter of all of the strange objects we found with you." Hoofstein motioned to Bunsen, who produced pictures of the gear Sam had packed with him. He was relieved to see that most of it, save for the tent and archive drive, were completely intact.

Sam decided to clear all of this up quickly. "Alright. The rectangular object there is a laptop computer. Later, I may be able to demonstrate what it does, but think of it as a small library or a very powerful calculator. The bottom part allows me to input text, and the top part displays the output, which may be more text or pictures. The small perforations allow sound to be output."

The two ponies exchanged a few brief words, and very excited looks. This visitor claimed to be from the past, but his technology was far more advanced than their own.

Hoofstein then pointed to a small, black device. Sam nodded. "That's a music player. You can connect it to the computer, and transfer music from the computer to the player."

"A miniature, record-less record player?" The Professor's jaw dropped slightly. Sam nodded.

Next, he pointed at the survival tools. Sam explained what they were for, and, satisfied that they weren't offense weapons, Hoofstein moved on to the final object, the archive drive. Sam was visibly bothered by its condition; the connection port had been broken off, and the case was dented. He wondered if anything would be recoverable, assuming he could fix the connector.

"That WAS a data archive. It's a specialized storage device with a data capacity far above that of my computer, hence the separate unit. Assuming it's still recoverable, it contains a large portion of my people's history as well as an additional section unique to the carrier. In my case, it's a database of computer technology, since I was an electrical and computer engineer in my own time."

Hoofstein's eyes went as wide as dinner plates. He knew that finding these objects and their owner would be an incredible find, but to realize that he'd practically been given a preserved copy of pre-Equestrian history... His mind was on the verge of exploding.

"Sam, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we have much more to learn from you than can possibly be relayed just through me." Hoofstein motioned towards the devices clamped on his and Sam's ear. "If you could be so kind as to describe to me the process by which these devices translate our words, my brilliant assistant here should be able to develop a spell based on the procedure that should perform the same function, but for everyone around you."

"If I do, will you FINALLY answer some questions for me?" Sam was slowly losing patience.

Professor Hoofstein nodded, and passed the headset to Bunsen. They then spent the next few hours discussing the process by which the headsets allowed them to communicate. Once satisfied, Hoofstein reclaimed the headset.

"It will take him the rest of the night to research this. Fortunately, he says there is a similar spell for another language our society is encountered; he should be able to adapt it based on your program. It seems that magic and your 'programming' style of describing processes aren't terribly dissimilar. I hope that your night isn't too unpleasant, but do understand that we initially locked you up for everyone's safety, including your own."

Sam realized he still had no real answers to his own questions, and he was getting a little pissed. "Oh no, you aren't going ANYWHERE until you finally stop and answer at least one of my questions."

Hoofstein was taken aback. He hadn't been outright ignoring Sam's requests; his mind was still reeling over the day's discoveries. "But of course, I'm terribly sorry. As I'm sure you can understand, this whole event makes one a bit preoccupied. Ask away, please."

Sam closed his eyes and let out a relieved sigh. "Ok. What year is it?"

The Professor said matter-of-factly, "Why, it's 1003 PCV, meaning after Celestia's victory over Nightmare Moon."

Sam cocked his head. "Ok, nevermind. That doesn't tell me how far into the future from my OWN time I am. Do me a favor, near where my head should have been inside the capsule, there's a small clock-like device, a chronometer, that measures how far the capsule has suspended itself from time. Dismount it and let me read it."

"Of course, Bunsen needs to grab something from that room anyway."

Bunsen returned a few minutes later with the chronometer in his mouth. To Sam's surprise, the three digits read '010', as if he'd only been sent 10 years into the future.

"You say that society as you know it has been around for at least a thousand years?" Sam was clearly worried about something.

Hoofstein responded, "Yes, probably far longer than that. The princesses are at least a few thousand years old, themselves."

Sam's mind was on overdrive. He was obviously further in time than a mere ten years, meaning the chronometer must have 'rolled over', having only three digits. After all, he was only supposed to travel a maximum of a thousand years. Coupling that information with the fact that a race of intelligent, talking pony-like creatures have evolved to become the dominant race on the planet...

Sam was easily estimating that the capsule had easily sent him at least a few hundred million years forward in time.

"What could have caused this?!" He screamed in his own mind. He realized he was pacing around his cell. "Right as I was activating the pod... The explosion hit me... There's no telling what that could have done to the controls, and the surge of energy from the radiation into the time-engine..."

The two researcher ponies exchanged worried glimpses, their 'guest' was now frantically pacing and yelling at the top of his lungs.

The Professor attempted to talk Sam down. "Everything ok? What's the problem?"

Sam felt something in his mind snap. "Ok?! OK?! I JUST FOUND OUT I'M A MILLION YEARS, POSSIBLY MORE, AWAY FROM EVERYONE I KNOW. SINCE PERMANENT TRAVEL TO THE PAST IS A SCIENTIFIC IMPOSSIBILITY, AND I'M OBVIOUSLY THE ONLY HUMAN AROUND, THAT MEANS THAT EVERYONE I KNOW AND LOVE IS DEAD!" Sam stopped and gave a fiery glare towards the Professor that could have set water on fire. He resumed his pacing, throwing his hands in the air wildly. "DEAD! GONE! DUST! MY PEOPLE, MY FAMILY! GONE! YEAH, YOU DAMN PONY, EVERYTHING IS PERFECTLY ABSOLUTELY FINE!"

The two ponies realized their manes had been blown back. Meanwhile, their observation subject continued stomping around his cell, screaming out one continuous string of words that, although the translator could not process them for the Professor, were obviously not meant for the meek-hearted or soft-hooved.

Professor Hoofstein nervously grinned and quietly mumbled a goodnight before the two scientists left for the evening, with Sam still cursing as hard and as loudly as he could.

---

Sam's anger finally burned itself out, leaving him laying on the straw-pile of a bed. He stared blankly at the wall opposite of the cell bars. His mind could only focus on a few words, usually a variation of 'they're all gone' or 'I'm alone'. He couldn't sleep. As the realization slowly mounted, he could feel his eyes stinging a bit, as a few heavy tears fell from them.

---

The next morning, Bunsen and the Professor returned, with Bunsen bearing a scroll in his mouth. It took him far less time than he expected to adapt the translation spell, much to his relief. After the previous day's excitement, he needed a good night's sleep. Once they reached the end of the dank, stony dungeon, it became apparent to them that Sam had not had such rest.

The human was sitting slumped against the wall, and his eyes had formed dark circles beneath them. The cell was a mess; Sam may have burned his anger out, but not before upsetting, overturning, or smashing anything he could. Fortunately, that was a limited list of items.

Hoofstein motioned to Bunsen. "Alright, let's try out that spell of yours."

Bunsen nodded, and began focusing his energy. Sam's ears and throat began to glow, and he took notice of a slight warming sensation as the spell did its work.

Bunsen was the first to speak. "Sam? Can you understand me? Please let me know so I can adjust the spell if need be."

Sam replied, with a very monotone, very emotionless intonation. "Yes. I can hear you. The spell worked."

Bunsen triumphantly pumped a hoof in the air.

Hoofstein spoke up with a slight tone of concern in his voice. "Sam, are you alright?"

Sam continued staring into the floor. "Yes. Fine."

"Good! Let's get started, then, shall we? That archive of yours, how do we access it?"

"Can't. It's broken."

Bunsen piped in, "Can it be fixed?"

"Maybe. I don't know."

It was clear Sam wasn't totally willing to cooperate anymore. Hoofstein was the one getting impatient for a change. "Sam. I don't think you understand. This is a huge discovery for us. Can you fix it?"

Sam briefly came to his senses. He realized this was his one bargaining chip. He knew exactly what needed to be done to attempt to recover the disk, and that he was literally the only living being on the planet that could fix it. He turned his gaze back to the Professor. "Yes, actually, I'm pretty sure I could. And I'm willing to..." The scientists were beaming. "...On one condition." The ponies smiles vanished.

The Professor responded, "What's the condition? Seriously, name it and I'll do whatever I can to meet it, just promise me you can and will fix that archive!"

Sam rose to his feet, walked over to the cell door and grasped the bars. "You let me out of here. It's apparent that I'm here in this place and time for the long-haul, and I don't aim to be locked up like a criminal for the rest of my natural life."

Hoofstein shook his head. "Sam, it's not that simple. Bunsen, myself, and the rest of the research team, who you'll meet soon, are used to seeing strange things, no offense. But the rest of society... We have no idea how they'll react."

Sam began his death glare again. "Oh, it most certainly is that simple. You want that archive fixed? You get me released, or at least more civil living conditions. I don't care WHAT you have to do. I'm the only one who can fix it. Assuming I can physically repair it, I'm also the only one capable of accessing and interpreting the data it contains and I don't aim to do it for nothing." Sam reached through the bars and jabbed Hoofstein in the chest with his index finger. "Let me reiterate: if you want the data, you're going to get me out of here."

There was an awkward silence as the Professor attempted to process the ultimatum, and avoid Sam's furious stare.

Bunsen spoke up. "Professor? We already noted that the subject possesses no natural defenses. The artifacts that came with him are clearly not weapons, at least not for offensive purposes, and his diet doesn't suggest a predatory nature. Surely that would be enough to convince Celestia that Sam isn't a threat when she comes to see all of this for herself?"

Professor Hoofstein scarcely had enough time to formulate his reluctant assent when a tall, slender, white alicorn slowly walked into view, her shimmering multi-colored mane seemingly giving off its own light.

The two researchers immediately dropped into a kneel, and collectively shouted, "Princess!"

The Princess broke the silence, smiling kindly. "Sounds like you two have a lot to catch me up on!" She gestured towards Sam. "I'm guessing that is the cause of yesterday's excitement?"

Bunsen and Hoofstein nodded.

"Can he understand us?"

Bunsen again nodded.

Celestia giggled. "Oh no need to be so reserved around me, my little scientists!"

Professor Hoofstein nervously answered, "Yes, well, it was just such an honor to be personally chosen by YOU for this project! And you have come at just the right moment. Our visitor here, a human! Have you ever heard of such?! He had in his possession an archive detailing his race's history. Ancient, pre-Equestrian history!" The Professor began to ramble. "It's broken though, and he, his name is Sam Mitchell, can fix it! But he refuses, unless he's released to live normally, but we can't do that without your approval, which you should give, (if you want!), because we have proof that he's quite probably totally completely harm-"

The Princess cut him off with a gentle hoof to his muzzle, still wearing that kind smile on her face. "I overheard everything Bunsen said. And I agree. I'd hate to keep him locked up if he's no real threat to us." With that, Celestia realized she had yet to actually address her new subject. "Oh, where are my manners, Sam Mitchell. My name is Celestia, I am the princess and ruler of Equestria. I understand that you are not from around here and now."

Sam nodded. He temporarily forgot his rage; he'd never seen such a magnificent creature. His adrenaline wearing off, his voice returned to a dull, robotic tone. "Yes, it's nice to meet you."

Celestia continued. "So, it should be obvious to you that I intend to let you out of here. I regret that you were locked up in the first place, but I'm sure my two top researchers here have explained to you why; I just didn't want to run the risk of exposing my subjects to anything dangerous. However, though I feel certain you mean us no harm, I intend to have you under supervision, as much for your own safety as ours. Meanwhile, you can live more or less normally as you attempt to help us learn about you, your history, and your culture."

Sam's exhaustion was getting the better of him; he simply nodded his head and mumbled, "Sounds fair to me, and you can just call me Sam." He only heard the Princess say "I intend to let you out", the rest was unimportant.

The Princess nodded in return. "Good! I must admit, I've been around for quite a long time, so the idea of learning about civilizations that predate even myself... It's quite exciting."

Sam decided to bring up the circumstances he'd be living under. "So, you say you want supervision over me. Does that mean you're going to have me live with Bunsen or the Professor?" He looked at the scientists. "Because no offense guys, but I don't think I like the sound of that." The researchers glared at him briefly.

The Princess laughed. "Oh, come now, they aren't that bad are they?" Bunsen grinned. "But no, in fact, I have got the perfect pony in mind to take charge of you. That is, after you’ve recovered from all of this for a few days."

"Hey! I thought this was OUR project!" Hoofstein exclaimed.

"Don't worry, you still are in charge of examining the data and the objects that Sam does not need in order to work on restoring the archive. But, the pony I'm thinking of will be able to better handle helping Sam get comfortable living here, and as a result allowing him to better work with us to learn about him." Celestia turned back to Sam, and unlocked the cell door. Sensing his apprehension, she attempted to reassure him. "Don't worry, I'm sure you will get along great with this pony, she is, after all, my best student. Now, in the meantime, I intend to make up for this rough greeting; I'll have a guest room in the palace made up so you can get some rest, I think you could use it. Come with me, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have."

---

To My Most Faithful Student,

I'm sure by now you've heard of the little incident in Canterlot's market square a few days ago. Contrary to popular belief, it was not an accident involving an unloading moving cart.

Rather, a most amazing thing happened. A being from long before our society existed has been transported to our time! I'm sure I don't need to explain to you the implications of this event and the ancient history it will allow us to study. Even more, his people were far more advanced technologically than we are, though in his time, our primary innovation, magic, was regarded as superstition! But I'm rambling...

In any case, you can see there is much for you to learn here, and I have a special favor to ask of you in regards to our visitor. I would like to discuss it in person with you here at the palace, and as such, I would like to request your presence in Canterlot at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,
Princess Celestia

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Down in Ponyville, shouts of excitement could be heard coming from inside a certain tree-house. A lavender unicorn mare was sprinting around inside, carefully avoiding knocking her painstakingly-shelved books from their resting places as she ran, her deep-purple mane with its pink stripe trailing behind her. Struggling to keep up with her, a small baby dragon was shouting, too, though for different reasons.

"Twilight Sparkle! Slow down will ya?! What's all the excitement about, anyway? Did your request for the new stock of spellbooks come through?" The little dragon was panting.

The purple pony stopped running, and started hopping in place. "Even better, Spike! Princess Celestia has another personal project for me! They've discovered something BIG in Canterlot, and I get to be part of it!" Twilight's eyes grew wide. "SPIKE! We have to pack for Canterlot! NOW!"

Spike sighed. "Can't it wait until after lunch at least? I'm starved." He patted his round stomach.

Twilight giggled. "Oh, Spike, don't you ever think about anything besides your appetite?"

Spike rolled his eyes. "Hey, a guy's gotta eat."

"Fair enough. I've got to run through my checklists a few more times anyway, in case I missed any of the sub-checklists. OH! I should make a checklist on what to ask the Princess when I get there! Spike, I'll need your help for this. Spike? Ugh. He must be long gone, stuffing his face. Oh well!"

Twilight began scanning through her long flowing lists, for the fifth time that day. Satisfied that she had completed the day's chores, she began levitating items into her saddlebags, preparing for her trip to Canterlot.

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