• Published 26th Mar 2012
  • 15,908 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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Dealing With It

Twilight was beside herself; she hadn't felt this much anticipation since Princess Celestia first chose her for private lessons as a young filly. When she received the Princess's letter that morning... She had to try to push it all from her mind; it was all she could do to keep from galloping up and down the aisles of the train car. She couldn't help but laugh a little at the sleeping form of her little dragon friend; not quite sharing her enthusiasm, Spike had long drifted off to sleep curled up next to her on the cloth-covered seat, despite the fact that it was still mid-day. Twilight shook her head. She tried to occupy her thoughts with the beautiful forest scenery passing by on the other side of the window.

Eventually, the train rounded the curve of the mountain bearing the City of Canterlot, bringing the castle into view. Twilight's smile seemed to extend for miles; she never grew tired of the sight of Canterlot's skyline. As the train began slowing down on approach to the rail station, Twilight attempted to rouse her "#1 Assistant" from his nap; the way he had been giggling in his sleep, there was no doubt that he'd been dreaming again of his crush, their friend Rarity. Twilight laughed as Spike struggled to sit up, rubbing his eyes with his free hand.

"So, Spike, what horror did you save Rarity from this time?" Twilight giggled.

Spike's face turned beet-red. "I'll have you know that I took Rarity on a nice, romant- HEY. I see what you're trying to do."

"What? You're adorable when you're embarrassed." Twilight could hear the conductor announcing their arrival at Canterlot. "Anyway, would you mind passing me my bag there?"

Spike obliged, and the pair began making their way off the train and onto the platform.

Twilight re-read the Princess's letter for the thousandth time. "Spike, I know you don't quite take the same interest in science and history as I do, so if you want to go hang out at the donut shop, I can spare you a few bits for a snack while you wait on me."

Spike thoughtfully rubbed at his chin as he considered the offer. "That's really tempting Twi, but I think I wanna see what's got you and the Princess so excited. A pony from the past... I wonder what kinda food they ate back then?"

Twilight placed a hoof on her forehead. "Always with the food," she thought. "Well, Spike, the Princess said he came from a time before our society existed, as in, before ponykind existed... So... Who knows what sort of being may be waiting for us?"

As the two made their way towards the castle through the market district, Spike began animatedly conjecturing as to what the time-traveler might look like. "What if he's got the head of a pony, but the body of... Hmm.. An alligator! Yeah! Or, maybe he'd have dragon wings? Wow, wouldn't that be cool! He'd be like a flying dinosaur or something!"

Twilight chuckled and rolled her eyes. "Oh Spike, such an imagination! I'm sure whatever he is, he's not THAT bizarre."

After several minutes of heated discussion over the what a time-traveler might look like, the pair made it to the castle gates. No matter how many times Twilight saw the castle, it never failed to take her breath away; the way the light reflected off of the tall, ivory towers, tipped with golden-teardrop spires further emphasized the opulence of this massive palace. The guards at the main entrance immediately recognized the Princess's most favored student, and, having expected her arrival, immediately escorted her and Spike to the main hall, where Celestia was waiting.

At the sight of her student entering, the Princess immediately moved off of her throne to meet her in the middle of the room. "Twilight! My, what a quick turn-around on my letter." Celestia was beaming. She continued, "You always were one for punctuality! So, let me get right to the point. As I said in the letter, we have a visitor of sorts from the past. When we found him, he had a sort of archive in his possession that could be the key to unlocking much of what we currently lack in our understanding of pre-Equestrian history."

Twilight's eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. Spike yawned.

Twilight's excitement was audible. "Think of all the books I... We could write with that knowledge! But what does that have to do with me? I'm sure you've got the archive in the hooves of the university researchers by now."

Celestia motioned to follow her. "Normally, yes, that would be the case. But, before I tell you your proposed role, why don't I introduce you to our guest?" The Princess led Twilight and Spike to the upper-floor guest suites. The trio stopped in front of one of doors. The Princess knocked at it.

"This is the Princess. I've got someone I want you to meet, we're coming in if that's alright."

There was no answer. The Princess laughed quietly. "He's still adjusting to us. Come in."

Twilight and Spike followed the Princess into the room. Her mind began to race, wondering what sort of creature she was about to see; she silently prayed that Spike's earlier guesses were wrong. She was relieved to see that her fears were unfounded; the creature that sat on the enormous, fluffy bed, returning her stare, was far less intimidating than she'd expected, and besides, if the Princess was this cavalier around him, he must not be all THAT bad. She noticed he barely met Celestia's height as he stood up on two legs...

Spike piped up. "Hey! He walks like me!"

Twilight's curiosity was instantly piqued. Forgetting her apprehension, she trotted right up to Sam, circling him, and began barraging him with questions. "You're bipedal?! What sort of creature are you? What was the past like? How'd you get here and why are-" Twilight's inquisition was cut short by the Princess's hoof on her shoulder. She noticed that the visitor's eyes were a little sunken, and she could have sworn there was a touch of sadness on his face. "Oh. Sorry."

The Princess's voice took on an apologetic tone. "Forgive my student's eagerness. Sam, this is my best, and closest student, Twilight Sparkle. I've been personally teaching her since she was a tiny filly." She turned her head to the lavender unicorn. "And Twilight, this is Sam Mitchell. He is the time-traveling guest I have told you about."

Spike interjected. "Princess, are you sure he's not an awesome-cool-super-tough dragon-pony with a lion's body?"

Twilight face-hoofed. "Spike!"

The young dragon shrugged, and made for the door. "If you need me, I'll be outside in the market. I'm starving!"

Twilight shook her head. Turning her attention to Sam, she extended a hoof in greeting. Sam grasped and weakly shook it.

The Princess began again. "Now that you've been introduced, Twilight, I can tell you how your talents will play into things. The archive Sam has is damaged. It's beyond our capabilities to fix, but he has agreed to work with our researchers to fix it and recover the historical data from it. In return, we will allow him to live -relatively- freely. However, for his safety and ours, I would like somepony responsible to help him adjust to things, so I would like him to stay with you a while. You would also have a unique position to observe and learn from him." Celestia looked at Sam, slightly concerned that he'd been silent through this exchange. "Sam, I know I already discussed this with you, but are you alright with this?"

Sam flatly answered, "Yes, Princess." He shook his head as if snapping out of a trance. "That sounds fine. Twilight seems nice."

Twilight's enthusiasm was only slightly dampened by Sam's deadpan attitude. "Princess, that sounds great! If... Sam, right?" She looked up at the human. "I'm sure once you're settled, you'll love Ponyville as much as I do! Oh I can't wait! I've got so many questions... I want to know EVERYTHING!"

The enthusiasm that his new 'landlady' exuded was a little off-putting to Sam. "All the same," Sam glumly muttered, "Living with a bookish, FRIENDLY unicorn in an actual house has got to be better than living with a nerdy, clinical pony in a research facility..."

Celestia smiled. "Great! Then it's settled. Twilight, when you and Spike are ready to leave, I'll have one of the concierges gather Sam's things."

Twilight leaned towards the Princess. "Princess, can I speak to you in private for a moment?" Celestia nodded.

The Princess faced Sam. "We'll be back momentarily."

Stepping into the hallway, the Princess leaned down to hear what her prized pupil had to say. "Princess, is he alright? I can't place a hoof on it but I think he might be ill. I don't have the abilities to care for sick guests, let alone guests of an unfamiliar species."

The Princess sighed sadly. "Yes, I wondered if you might pick up on that. I doubt he's actually ill. Bear in mind, my little pony, Sam has been through a lot recently. As far as we know, he's the only one of his people left, and now he's been thrown into a foreign world and a society much different from what he knows. This is why I chose you to take him on, Twilight Sparkle. His condition is after only a single night in the dungeon after he was first found, he’s been in here under watch ever since; someone in his state needs more than just a researcher prodding him for information. He needs a friend, and the space to deal with his situation."

Twilight's worried expression changed to determination. "I won't let you down, Princess!"

Celestia was beaming. "I knew I could count on you! Now, one other detail. Since you'll be effectively taking care of Sam, I'll obviously be increasing your monthly stipend to cover the added costs of him living with you."

"Thank you, Princess. I'll do my best to take care of Sam. I can't wait to pick his brain on... Well... Everything!"

"Of course you can't. Do remember, he's not a book!" The Princess giggled.

Sam wearily called out, "Twilight, I'm ready to leave whenever you are."

Twilight grinned sheepishly. "I guess that's my cue. I hate cutting a visit with you short, but if we leave now, we can get back to Ponyville in time for a slightly late dinner."

"Very well. You go get Spike, and I'll have a concierge escort Sam down to meet you. OH! One final thing, rather than take him on the train, where who knows how many ponies will see him, I've arranged for a carriage to take you back home." Celestia turned to walk back towards her chambers, before stopping and looking back over her shoulder. "And, Twilight? It is good to see you!"

Twilight made her way back to the main gate, where Spike was waiting, idly licking icing and sprinkles from his claws. His face was covered in donut remnants.

"So, Twi, where's Sam, and when should we run on to catch the train?" Spike asked lazily.

"He should be right behind us. And the Princess is having a private carriage take us home tonight." Turning back towards the castle gate, Twilight saw Sam's thin form, flanked by a lone pony in a bellhop's uniform, advancing towards where she and Spike were waiting.

Sam took a few deep breaths, taking in the sight of the castle imposed against the soft evening sky. He didn't have much to say as the carriage was loaded with their belongings, and he maintained this silence all the way to Ponyville, despite Twilight's attempts to carry a conversation.

"So... What do you think of Canterlot?" She asked with an eager grin on her face.

Sam stared out through the carriage window.

"How did you like staying in the palace?" Twilight inquired earnestly.

Still no answer.

Spike chimed in. "Hey bro, you like donuts?"

Sam sighed. "Look, I appreciate you two letting me stay with you. But you're both going to have a long time to ask me questions, and I'm... I'm beat. The last few days have been less than wonderful for me. Just... Let me get some rest and we'll get started fresh in the morning, ok?"

Spike rolled his eyes. "Whoa, what a buzzkill."

"Spike!" Snapped Twilight.

For the remainder of the trip back to Ponyville, the trio rode in silence.

---

After what seemed like an eternity spent in silence, the carriage arrived at Twilight's library. As the driver helped his passengers disembark and retrieve their belongings, Sam stretched his legs and looked around. The sun had already set, but he could just barely make out some thatched cottages a short distance down from this treehouse, for lack of a better term.

Twilight attempted to cheerily break the silence. "Well, this is home!"

Sam scratched his head. "You live in a tree, huh?"

"Yep, it's the town library. You wouldn't think a girl like me would be a librarian, I bet!" Twilight said with a grin.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah, total shocker."

Spike yawned, stretching his arms. "Are we gonna go inside or is there a surprise Pinkie Pie party out here that I'm not in on?"

Twilight nodded. "After you, number one assistant." She thanked the driver, and bid him goodnight.

Once inside, the primary issue on Spike's mind was, yet again, food. "So uh... What are we doing for dinner, Twi?"

"Hmm... Well, I figured tonight we'd try to do something nice for our new friend. Sam, anything in particular you'd like? I just made a trip to the market yesterday, and grabbed tons of fruits. Maybe some steamed vegetables? Sam?"

He was too busy following with his eyes the almost endless stacks of bookshelves that lined the inside of Twilight's treehouse.

"Oh, right, sorry. That all sounds fine," Sam said with a short wave of his hand, "but really, I just want to sleep. Just tell me where to crash and I'll be out of your hair for the night."

"Fair enough." Twilight seemed a little disappointed, but she motioned for him to follow her upstairs. "I didn't know I'd have anypony moving in today, so I haven't had time to get another bed set up. You can take mine tonight, I can sleep on my couch. I've got a little reading I want to catch up on anyway."

You don't say.... "You sure you don't want ME to take the couch? I don't want to impose anymore than I have to."

Twilight looked up at him and smiled. "Oh it's no bother, just one night. I've got a spare bed frame and mattress in the closet. If you're really that worried about imposing, you can help me set it up tomorrow." The pair reached the top of the stairs. "Anyway... My room is right around the corner. Make yourself at home, and I'll see you in the morning. If you need anything, just ask!"

Having settled her new housemate, Twilight made her way back downstairs to the kitchen to make something for Spike and herself to eat. She settled on a simple salad with daisies, adding a few bits of ground-up turquoise to Spike's. As they ate their meal, Twilight wondered if she was up for this; she'd be effectively rehabilitating a traumatized alien.

After dinner, Twilight tucked Spike in, and moved to take her spot on her couch by the window. After shuffling around to find the most comfortable position, she curled up and levitated her current reading material several inches away from her face. The cover read "Advanced Magical Meditation, 6th Edition." After reading the first five editions, Twilight was excited to learn what the sixth had to contribute. She was halfway through the revised chapter on "Maintaining Focus" when she heard yelling and groaning coming from her room.

She jumped up and galloped upstairs to see what the problem was. The yelling got louder as she got closer to her room. Inside, she saw Sam tossing and turning in the bed, but still asleep. Twilight let out a small, relieved sigh; he was only having a nightmare. A rational reaction, she figured, to whatever it was he had experienced.

---

Sam saw his family. His mother, father, and younger sister were all walking with him on a beach. They came here to this same pristine beach every year for a Summer vacation. Though Sam had long since graduated from university, moved out of his parents place, and nailed down a job that kept him several hours away from his hometown, he always managed to get time off to go on the traditional family trip.

His father turned to say something to him, probably a joke, as usual, but while Sam could see his mouth moving, he couldn't hear any words. He couldn't hear anything. Before he could react, he saw his family's faces contorting into horrific expressions of fear and panic. Sam spun around just in time to see a mushroom cloud expanding, before blowing his family and himself away.

---

Sam bolted upright with a start, still screaming, and arms flailing wildly. He was further startled to hear another yelp next to him.

"Sam! Sam, it's me, it's Twilight, you were just having a nightmare!" The unicorn reached up to place a hoof on his shoulder to try and calm him down. Sam looked down and saw two big purple eyes staring up at him worriedly.

Sam gave a nervous laugh. "Nightmare, yeah... Uh, sorry if I scared you."

"Likewise. Are you going to be ok? I've got this tea that I usually make when I have trouble sleeping... It'd be no problem to make some. I could go for a cup myself..."

"Thanks, but I'll be ok. Just let me go back to sleep." Sam laid back down.

Twilight nodded. "Ok. Well, I'm still making that tea. If you want any, feel free to help yourself." Sam was already out cold again. She quietly walked back down to the kitchen, amazed that Spike was still asleep. She knew he was a heavy sleeper, but this was ridiculous.

---

The gradually growing glare of the sun roused Sam from sleep, not that he had really been sleeping for long. He sat up and stretched his legs; he'd been curled up in a slightly awkward position since the bed was designed for an occupant half his size.

His nose caught the scent of something sweet coming from the kitchen, and his stomach loudly reminded him that he hadn't eaten anything since he'd left Canterlot. He laced up his shoes and went downstairs, making sure to duck as he passed through the doorways. Entering the kitchen, Sam was greeted by the sight of his lavender hostess and her purple lackey working on breakfast.

Twilight heard him come in. "Oh, Sam! You're up! I hope you slept well, all things considered. Come have some breakfast with us."

Sam's stomach ordered him to comply. "Sure."

A few minutes later, Twilight levitated three bowls onto the table, and ladled a portion of something closely resembling oatmeal into each of them. Spooning up a mouthful, Sam realized that it actually *was* oatmeal, maple syrup-flavored, too. He chuckled quietly to himself.

Twilight barely heard him laughing. "What's so funny?"

Sam swallowed. "Oh, nothing really. Just struck me as odd that even several million years into the future, oatmeal is still a common breakfast food."

"Well, yeah, what else would it be?" Spike said, raising an eyebrow.

"Nevermind. So, Twilight, I'm guessing you're going to wanna start interrogating me after breakfast, eh?" Sam hit the bottom of his bowl.

Twilight's eyes lit up. "Sure! Oh, this is going to be so exciting! All your history, culture, and techn-" She could feel Sam's eyes shooting daggers at her. "Sorry, heh. Let's finish breakfast first, then."

"One other thing. I think I may know the answer to this already, but am I free to kind of roam around? I mean in town? Or am I under house arrest here?"

"Eventually, yeah, I'd really like to show you around. But for now, I'd rather you hang around inside for a while. Everypony else can generally be pretty accepting, but I think it would be best to take foal-steps on that one, as they can also be pretty easily spooked."

Sam sighed, and continued eating his oatmeal. He had to admit, she had a reasonable point. "Whatever you say."

Once the matter of the morning meal was wrapped up and the dishes done, Twilight had Sam follow her into her study. She floated in some more comfortable chairs from the next room for them to sit on. With her quill and paper floating in front of her, Twilight was ready to go, even if Sam's face screamed "I don't give a buck."

"Alright, so... Unless you can't fix the archive, there's no sense in having you try to recount your entire species' history... And for now, we're assuming you can, so I think I'd just like to get to know more about your story first."

"Whatever floats your boat." Sam rolled his eyes. "Let's just get started already..."

"Ok ok... I'm sure you've gone over this several times already, but would you mind explaining to me why you're here and how you came to be here?"

"Really? You really want me to rehash that?" Sam's face was scrunched into a frown. "Fine. It's not like I haven't been having nightmares about it since I got here."

"Sorry... I just want to be thorough..." Twilight squeaked.

Sam shook his head, and waved it off dismissively. "No, I'm sorry, I wasn't expecting to be a research project for a pony..." His face softened a little, he meant for that to sound apologetic. "I can go into the dirty details of it all later, but in my time, nearly the entire planet was engaged in a massive war. A special type of bomb, a nuclear bomb, was used by many of the larger nations. Combined with the normal wear-and-tear of warfare, the residual effects of those bombs threatened to poison the land and make much of the planet uninhabitable for quite some time."

Twilight's eyes were wide-open, and her quill was quickly taking notes on Sam's story.

He continued. "So, my country developed a way out. We managed to figure out how to travel forward through time. With that ability, we hoped to send ourselves to a time where the nuclear radiation had faded and the environment had recovered from the damage we did. We built these pods, like the one I was found in, to do this. We couldn't make enough to save the entire country..." Sam's eyes got a little misty at this point. "So we held a national lottery to choose who would be sent, after giving the engineers and scientists, as well as their immediate family, a spot in the group. That's how I was picked, I was an electrical engineer who worked on the power systems, so my family and I got to go."

Twilight got a quizzical look in her eyes. "So, we should be finding others like you soon?"

Sam shook his head. "No, I doubt it. I was the last one out, and there was an attack, an explosion, right before my pod activated. The radiation must have caused a power surge or something, because between the information the Professor in Canterlot gave me, and my own knowledge of the time-pod's function, there's no way I'm only a thousand years in the future. That's where, or rather 'when', my family and people should be." Sam sighed. "Is that good enough for now? Can we talk about something a little happier?"

Twilight nodded. "Sure. So, in Equestria we've got several different races and entirely different species that exhibit sentience like you and I. In your time, were there other intelligent creatures besides humans?"

Sam gave a weak laugh. "Sometimes I wonder if you could really classify us as intelligent..." Given that we set off to kill each other, Sam finished mentally.

His sarcasm was lost on Twilight, who cocked her head. "Assuming all humans are similar to you, of course you're a sentient species. But we can debate the origin and definition of intelligence later! And... You didn't really answer my question."

"No, we were really the only intelligent species in my time. Certain primates, and dolphins, came close, but yeah, no, humans were pretty much the only ones."

Twilight mumbled to herself as she wrote. "Mhmm... Interesting... I know that you've got a spell placed on you by the researchers that translates for you, but I think it's interesting that you knew to call us 'ponies' when you first saw one of us."

"Oh, yeah. In my time, there were several types of animals that we called horses or ponies. They looked a bit different from you and the others; longer muzzles, eyes not as close together in the front, and they certainly didn't talk or have full societies going. Maybe you evolved from them or something. Biology isn't my specialty, really."

Twilight was intrigued. "Equines have been around THAT long?! Wow..." She quickly scribbled something else down on her parchment. "Ok... This is more to help me be a decent hostess. I've seen you eat some of the same things we do, but I can't imagine your diet is the exact same as a pony's. Is there anything extra that humans typically need or like?"

Sam realized he had to be careful how he approached this question; during his brief time in Canterlot, he was fairly certain that he'd seen a cow or two enjoying a conversation as they walked through the castle. "Well... Biologically, I'm more of an herbivore, though as a species we do eat meat." He rushed to finish the sentence before his unicorn friend had a heart attack, "BUT we don't really have to. We just need a source of protein, like nuts and legumes, along with fruits, vegetables, and grains. So... If you can get those sorts of things, I'll be ok. Though... If you’re okay with me eating fish, that would be a great addition, nutritionally."

Twilight was relieved that her guest was not a predator, and began silently lecturing herself for even briefly thinking that the Princess would have her take in a creature that might eat her. Besides, if he were going to try to eat a pony, he’d have attacked the scientists long before I met him...

"Eh heh, yeah, I think we can handle that. Moving on... What kind of culture did your society have?"

Sam scratched his head. "That's probably more of a question for my archive, if I can fix it. We had a pretty incredibly diverse range of people in my time. Honestly, you could probably write an entire series of books devoted to any single subculture of my time. We had almost any kind of music you could imagine, art forms that were even more varied, ranging from styles similar to what I saw in the castle to styles that make you wonder who would enjoy them."

The thought of art that was unattractive and unappealing confused Twilight. "What about entertainment? Or sports?"

"Oh, yeah, we loved that sort of thing. We had stock car races, various types of ball games, video games, movies, concerts..."

Twilight cocked her head to the side. "Stock... Car?" As Sam began trying to describe automobile technology, (something Twilight was willing to bet her friend Rainbow Dash would love), Twilight noticed that he seemed to be relaxing a little bit. That weary scowl he had earlier had faded off a bit as he lost himself in telling her about how the races were held, how football was played, and attempted to describe what a 'video game' was. He decided to stick to sports for the time being.

"...Yeah, football was a PRETTY big deal in my part of the country. Hell, I remember... When my dad... Took me to a game with him..." Sam's voice trailed off, and his eyes seemed to stare off towards some infinitely distant point, as the realization that his father, and the rest of his loved ones, were gone. The scene from the previous night's nightmare flashed back into his imagination.

"Sam? You ok?" Twilight saw sadness flash briefly before his face straightened out again.

"Yeah. Fine. Nothing."

Twilight wanted to talk more, but sensed that Sam probably wasn't sharing her enthusiasm at this point. "I think... Maybe we can take a break for a while. Why don't you come help Spike and I set up your bed?" She got up, called for Spike, and walked towards a closet in the hallway. Sam followed.

It took the trio several tries, and more time than Spike was happy to waste, (especially working through lunch), to assemble the bed. Twilight, obsessive-compulsive as ever, would disassemble the entire thing if she noticed even the slightest misalignment. She'd apologize and giggle, Spike would press his palm into his face, and Sam just stood there, emotionless. The way he responded to questions and requests to pass tools to his partners reminded Twilight of a mechanical toy robot that Spike used to play with. His voice was flat and unaffected. Twilight wasn't sure if she should be worried, but at least he wasn't being so sarcastic anymore.

---

Twilight kept a close watch on Sam out of the corner of her eye all the way through dinner. Though he wasn't totally ignoring his housemates when they spoke to him, he was oddly stiff and flat in the way he addressed them. It was as if his mind was somewhere far away from Ponyville.

The meal over, Twilight went upstairs to move Sam's things into the spare room. She managed to find some extra planks and another spare mattress to extend the bed to better fit someone of Sam's size. Though her new housemate hadn't exactly been as pleasant as she'd hoped, she wanted to make sure he was comfortable all the same.

She passed him on her way to her own room. "I hope you sleep well, goodnight!"

Sam didn't even look down as he said, "Goodnight," and shut his door behind him.

Twilight raised an eyebrow as she closed the door to her own room, and settled down to sleep herself. "I hope he's not going to be like that for much longer..."

---

Sam wasn't sleeping. The sole thought occupying his mind was "I'll never see my family again. Everyone I know is gone." Earlier, when he remembered going to the football match with his dad, that single idea was driven through his heart and mind like a red-hot rusty nail. He was alone; as the sole remaining member of the human race, he didn't feel like he would ever fit in with this society, not that fitting in was his primary goal. No matter how he figured it, he felt like he'd be alone: either literally, by living alone, safely isolated from pony society, or figuratively by being the only human among ponies.

His grief at losing his family and the loneliness he felt began swirling together in his mind, pushing any other thought out. After an eternity spent staring into the darkness, Sam felt numb. He saw his arms and legs moving, but it felt like it wasn't him controlling them. It was if he were watching a movie from first-person perspective; he grabbed a spare bit of clothing from his bag, and walked down the hallway towards the balcony doors.

---

Twilight had just fallen asleep when she heard a noise coming from outside her bedroom door. At first she thought it was Spike making another late-night kitchen raid, but the footsteps were much too heavy to be Spike's. Twilight dragged herself out of bed and carefully, quietly opened her door an inch or so. Peering out, she couldn't see anyone, and the footsteps had stopped.

Allowing herself to further venture into the hallway, she spied the balcony doors sitting open. She feared she may have a burglar, so she levitated next to her the heaviest object she had nearby: a large self-help book titled "Organizing Your Life Part 2: Organizing Your Checklists." She carefully began sneaking through the hallway, hoping whatever had been in her house was already gone.

She heard some scuffling and a tearing noise coming from the balcony. She screamed and galloped the rest of the way to the balcony, hoping to scare off this intruder. To her shock and surprise, what she saw once she crossed through the balcony door was not a burglar.

Sam was standing on the balcony rail, with one of his spare cotton pants ripped and tied into a makeshift noose around his neck, the other end tied to the door frame.

"Sam?! What are you doing?!" Twilight screamed. Sam continued staring out into the distance.

"Sam! Take a step back, please! Whatever you're thinking about doing, don't do it!" She saw Sam shift his right foot and flex his legs.

He jumped.

"NO!" Thinking fast, Twilight concentrated to summon her energy into her horn. Quickly, the glow moved from her horn to one of Sam's feet, suspending him in midair just before the cloth pulled tight. Twilight further focused her energy, pulling him back up onto the balcony.

As she set him down in front of her, he began thrashing and yelling at Twilight. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her violently. "Why'd you stop me?! Why didn't you just let me go!" He let go of her, and his yelling became quiet sobs. He collapsed onto the ground, slumped against the door frame.

Twilight moved closer to him and sat down beside him. She reached up and placed a hoof on his shoulder.

Sam stopped crying and took a deep breath. "I'm... I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me there... I... This whole thing, I just lost it. I mean... Twilight, everyone I've ever cared about, I'll never see them again. Beyond that, my species is dead. After me, humanity is gone for good. Besides, what's the point of me being here, anyway?"

Twilight could feel her own eyes watering up slightly. "Look, Sam, I'm not gonna try to say I understand what you're dealing with. I can’t even say for sure what I’d do in your position. All the same, I’m sorry you have to deal with all of this. I know it can’t be easy. But for what it’s worth, I’m here for you..."

Sam weakly nodded, and looked out at the night sky.

"And... Yeah, you're right, you may be the last of your kind. But if I hadn't caught you, you wouldn't have been the only thing to die tonight. All that knowledge of your past, your history... It would go with you, especially since you're the only one who can fix your archive. I know it sounds a little cliche, but if you help preserve that knowledge, you can at least let your society live on in that way... You know, preserve humanity's legacy?"

Sam sighed. "I guess it would be a shame to lose all of that..." Sam looked down into the unicorn's eyes. "Thanks for keeping me from doing something stupid."

Twilight stood up and wrapped her forelegs around Sam's shoulders in a hug. Briefly taken aback, Sam reached around and placed an arm around her.

Spike came drowsily stumbling onto the balcony, rubbing his eyes. "Hey... What's the big idea? What's a dragon gotta do to get some sleep around here?"

Twilight let go of Sam and turned to face the dragon. "Oh, sorry Spike. Sam wasn't feeling so well, and needed some fresh air. I was checking up on him." She didn’t want him to know that their new houseguest had just attempted to kill himself.

"Oh, ok. Well, if anypony needs me, I'm going back to bed. G'night Twi, g'night Sam." Spike waddled off.

Twilight turned her attention back to Sam. "Are you ok?"

Sam nodded slowly. "Not exactly, but I think I will be..."

"Well... If you need anypony to talk to..."

"Thanks, Twilight."

He stood up to walk back to bed, and Twilight followed close behind, shutting the balcony doors as she reentered the house.

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