The University was a building of significant importance. Its architects and engineers had their choice of building material, and many were considered. It is important, then, to consider what it could have consisted of, but was not.
It was not made of marble. Marble is expensive and presumptuous. Marble is delicate and troublesome to shape. A building made of marble is, therefore, like a pompous dandy wearing fine tailcoats and silk shirts: a lot of time, money and effort spent to present to the world that you are important, because you can spend a lot of time, money and effort on your appearance. Such a stallion stands out nicely from the crowd, but as soon as he opens his mouth, the illusion is dispelled.
Neither was it constructed of wood. Wood rots. Wood ages. Wood may be fine and cheap – unless it is an exotic wood imported from the colonies – and it is certainly easy to shape and work. But wood does not stand the test of time – unless it's coated decade after decade with toxic and wasteful paints and treatments.
It could have been made of iron and brass and lead and glass, like those pillars of modern design reaching into the skies of the Empire's cities. This University was not like those skyscrapers, however. It sprawled low to the ground, hunched like a squatting giant, engulfing parks and quadrangles like an amoeba consuming prey. The University was not to be filled with claustrophobic seas of clerks’ desks drowning in oceans of typewriter ribbon, boldly navigated by a few floor managers. It was cavernous lecture halls and bustling laboratories.
It is important to note that the University was constructed of sandstone. Sandstone is not beautiful. Sandstone is not temperamental. Sandstone is not auspicious, nor is it revered, refined or especially respectable. What it is, however, is functional. Sandstone is comparatively easy to cut, it's comparatively cheap, and it stands strong against the test of time.
Even the occasional fluted column, topped with etchings and engravings, was far more for function than form. Designed more to hold up the floors above it, than to show off the delicate carving the stone could be known for.
This was a building, then, that made no efforts to appear grand, grandiose, or especially great. It was huge, vast and sprawling, but it looked more like a series of cubes chiselled directly out of a cliffside than an opulent locus of higher learning.
This was a building that was simply content with the knowledge that it was indeed great, and need make no effort to show it off. Ponies simply knew, and that was that.
It was a building that Twilight had a lot of respect for. Its occupants, too.
It was also one of the very few places in the Empire that Twilight could wear her absolute favourite brown tweed jacket and a modest bow tie without feeling silly.
The main courtyard was flanked on both sides by sandstone arms forcing their way out of the main, four-floor hub of the building, reaching out towards the smooth cobblestones of Old Minusculus Equusurbem;, literally "Diminutive Horse City" in old Equus. The Capital had far exceeded the bounds of what Clover the Clever and Smart Cookie could ever have imagined when they combined what remained of their territories to make a final stand; a bastion of Civilisation, standing against the nomadic military conquests of the pegasii. Its beating heart, the remains of Minusculus Equusurbem, remained true to its founder's intentions.
Twilight stood now, in that main courtyard, studying the list of departments and their location on the University's campus.
The Electrical Engineering department, a relatively new addition with its age measured in mere decades and not centuries, would probably be her best, safest bet. She pointedly ignored it, looking at her alternatives.
The Chemistry department? A field in which she had notable expertise, but not one she could readily apply to her current objective. Her attempts at communication with her Mare on the Moon using the chemical sciences would probably end in several large craters visible even without the aid of a telescope, let alone the Telescope.
Applied Engineering? Tempting, but not even Twilight would have the materials to build an elevator to the moon. A one-way journey would be far more feasible, but far less preferable.
The Electrical Engineering department was famous for its revolutionary new communication technologies, technologies that were connecting the globe in ways never before imagined. Twilight Sparkle pointedly ignored it. Talking to him should obviously be avoided as much as possible.
Biology? Now, that was just getting silly. Unless somepony could breed some sort of dragon that could fly her through the aether...
No, no... No. Down that path lay madness, and an incredibly jealous Spike.
She was getting desperate now, grasping at straws. Psychology? No, they'd just call her insane, and ask her why she thought an aether-faring dragon was a good idea, and about her relationship with her mother, who she should probably call — on the telephone, an invention of this very University's Electrical Engineering department, which she very pointedly ignored.
It was only, to her horror, after she had seriously started considering asking for the Drama department's help that Twilight Sparkle, Philosopher In Residence, inventor, tinker and polymath extraordinaire... admitted defeat, hung her head low, and forged a slow path to the Electrical Engineering department, to meet the only pony in the Empire who made her feel stupid every time they talked.
It was time to talk to Professor Bright Sparks.
Navigating the University was no mean feat for the uninitiated. Clover the Clever had designed the layout herself, which meant that the floorplan made a great deal of perfect, rational sense – if you were very clever, and thought about it, but otherwise completely nonsensical if you didn't.
The most important requirement on any first year student's book list was the school map. Overconfident teachers had wandered off into these hallowed halls looking for a friend in another department, never to be seen again, except perhaps as a fresh model in Biology.
It was understandable, then, that when Twilight came across the lecture theater and found it empty – despite her timetable assuring her it would still be holding Professor Bright Sparks – she had presumed herself to simply be in the wrong place.
She was about to turn tail from the room when she heard humming, an idle tune drifting from behind the blackboards. Twilight stepped into the room, down into the lecture pit. The simple carpet muffled her hoofsteps as she stalked down between the sloping rows of chairs.
She could make out words, now.
"The wavelength of light in the aether is a thing we cannot know
but soon our understanding of this science shall I grow
I stimulate emissions of radiation held in tow
though diffraction in the atmosphere will... huh."
Twilight had made it to the front, now, or perhaps the bottom. Blackboards filled with mind-numbing and world-changing formulas dangled from crisscrossing polished rails nestled in the ceiling, like somepony was designing a miniature train set to push any combination of pieces across a chessboard. Each blackboard slab could be spun, flipped, rotated, pushed back, brought forward...
Or used to conceal a mare in their depths.
"Ah, hello?" Twilight questioned, annoyed by her own anxiety, "I was looking for Professor Sparks lecture?"
Two boards parted like theater curtains, exposing an almost offensively bright pink mare, who had a mane less like a hairstyle and more like she had actually held her head in a cotton-candy vendor's machine. She didn't seem to be capable of stillness, shifting her weight constantly. She wore a bowler hat, which was annoyingly askew, a simple waistcoat, asymmetrically buttoned up, and a polka dot bow tie, a mockery of Twilight's own.
The mare's face bore a smile that was maddening, or perhaps infectious. Was madness contagious? Twilight suspected talking to her was as good a way as any to find out. Before she had the chance to back away from the pink spectre before her, perhaps even run, the earth pony mare answered her.
"This is Professor Bright Sparks' lecture, silly! You're just late."
Just another thing about this mare that offended every fibre of the unicorn's sensible being. That wasn't right. That couldn't be right. "Late? I hate to correct you, miss...?" Twilight left the invitation hanging, but the ghastly pink mare simply cocked her head to the side and waited for her to continue. "I'm sorry to correct you, but it is 10am on the dot. I'm dreadfully persnickety about my punctuality, you must understand."
The unicorn's magic thrust itself into a pocket within her brown tweed jacket, reaching for the pocket watch it contained. A button on it depressed and a mechanism flipped it open, revealing with stern decorum that the time was, in fact, 10am. "See?"
"Ooh, that's a very pretty pocketwatch you have," the pink abomination cooed, zipping forward well and truly inside the boundaries of Twilight's personal space. She felt distinctly invaded. "It's a shame the second hand isn't moving, though."
Twilight's brow knotted tight, the faint and guilty smile she had at the joy of correcting this mare capsizing like it had hit an iceberg. "What?"
She checked the watch itself and found that it was, indeed, not moving. How long had it been 10am for? "I've forgotten to wind it again, haven't I." It was a statement, not a question.
"I can be really scatterbrained myself," the pink atrocity to good sense assured her. She wrapped a sticky, oily hoof around Twilight's withers and lead her toward the lecturer's desk that sat between the boards and the empty seats. Before she removed her hoof, however, Twilight's withers were treated to a barrage of prods and pokes. This seemed to satisfy the pink thing for some reason. "That's why I have a watch with a battery, now. You can have one of mine!"
A pink hoof slid open the second drawer of the desk and rifled through it, coming back out with a rather shiny looking pocket watch. Even a glance could tell it was much nicer than Twilight’s own. It looked almost achingly fragile.
The mare threw the watch at Twilight. Her eyes widened as she made to grab it with her magic. "Careful! These things are very delicate!"
"Oh, I know," she nodded, "I just wanted to see if you were as strong a unicorn as you looked. You totally are, by the way."
Twilight didn't know how to feel about that, so she turned her attention to the watch. It didn't have a winding key; the mechanism at the top was capable of changing the time, and opening its lid, but it was becoming rapidly clear that this watch was not powered by its clockwork.
It was electrical, then. Twilight immediately distrusted it, almost as much as the mare that gave it to her. Deep into her pockets she reached with her magic once more, pulling out a simple device that she had made in her early attempts at the Telescope; a magnifying glass.
The unicorn pored over the brushed bronze casing of the watch, studying it carefully. Good machinework, expensive material; an excellent accessory, all told. Better than anything the mare before her would own. The mark confirmed her suspicions.
"This has Bright Spark's name on it," Twilight accused, "and you just pulled it from his desk. This isn't your watch, is it?"
"Oh, it is mine, see?" Pinkie nudged the magnifying glass further along. Engraved into the back of the watch was–
"TESLA?" Twilight looked up from the magnifying glass, back at the still-too-wide-smiling mare fiddling with her own bow tie. "What does that mean?"
"It's my name, silly!" The mare apparently named 'Tesla' replied, "or at least my title. I always get those two confused."
"Well, which is it, then," Twilight breathed through gritted teeth with all the patience she could afford, which was a small amount indeed, "your name or your title?"
"Oh! Title. I'm The Electrical Science's Lecturer's Assistant. It's an acronym!"
Twilight's mouth formed a little 'o' of understanding. It all made sense now; this was a mental invalid that Bright Sparks had hired out of pity, an act of philanthropy. Her safest option was to humour this mare until she revealed where the professor was, now.
"So, did Professor Sparks give you this watch as a gift, too?"
"Well, not exactly," TESLA's smile dimmed a little, and she turned back to the blackboards with a stick of white chalk in her mouth, "I helped make it, though."
What? Clearly she misspoke.
"Eugh," the pink mental invalid spat around the chalk in her mouth, "you unicorns are lucky. Chalk tastes terrible."
"Wait, did you say you helped make this? What did you help with?"
"Just the battery, and the circuit. All the mechanisms and the pretty case it's in was all Bright Spark’s, though! I didn't know what else to do with the battery I made, and he told me it would be really good for a watch. Bright Spark is so clever, isn't he?"
"Right," Twilight muttered. Of course this mare wasn't capable of something so sophisticated. Her battery was obviously the project of a dim, if enthusiastic, dabbler. It couldn't possibly last more than a day. "If I asked you to replace the battery when it ran out, where could I find you?" Twilight asked, hoping the mare would reveal the location of Bright Sparks' secret staffroom.
"Oh, I really don't think I'll live that long," TESLA replied cheerfully, "I think you'd find a much better watch in the next sixteen hundred years, anyway."
"That's the half life of the radium I used, anyway. There was plenty left over, too, so I painted the hands of the watch with it. It totally glows in the dark, now!" The ESLA dove into her designated drawer again and pulled out a crumpled blueprint, covered in crumbs and hot cocoa stains. Twilight could tell they were cocoa stains and not coffee because of the tiny little marshmallows melted into them.
The schematics revealed a design for a micro-reactor, powered by the substance that scientists had recently isolated and dubbed 'radium;' a means to produce electricity that Twilight Sparkle – a mare employed to the highest position of advisory to the Princess of Mourning herself by merit of her intellect – could not even begin to comprehend.
"I used smiley faces instead of ohm symbols, because they're about the same shape and they're much more fun, don't you think?”
It was becoming dangerously apparent to Twilight that she had grossly misjudged this mare.
"Pinkie Pie," she breathed, reading the name traced in rather feminine cursive at the bottom. "Is that you?"
"Yepperonies. I couldn't be anypony else, because they were already taken. Geddit?"
"Yes," Twilight's eyes remained focused on the schematics, "how wonderfully droll. What else have you done?"
"Well, I worked out why Professor Spark's generator design didn't work and fixed it – I tried to make a better one, too, but he got really mad and told me I was making the wrong kind of electricity. I told him it was different, but better. Then he got really, really mad at me, I thought his head was going to explode!" Pinkie laughed a lot at that, but it wasn't happy laughter. It was almost manic. In fact, there was no place for 'almost'. Her loud, boisterous voice got quiet.
"He didn't let me help him for a while, after that. He didn't kick me out, though." She brightened considerably, at that thought. "Oh! That's an idea!"
"I'll show you!" Pinkie jumped with joy and began pushing apart blackboard after blackboard, as an explorer would clear through jungle with trusty machete. Row upon row of formula and theorum were brushed aside to reveal what could generously be called a small living quarters, and more accurately called a hovel.
"Is this... is this where you live?" Twilight asked, worried the answer might be in the affirmative. Dreading it, actually. This was no act of philanthropy at all. "When you said he didn't kick you out, surely you didn't mean from here?"
"Of course this is where I live. Where else would he kick me out from? Boy, for a unicorn that thinks she's so clever, you sure ask a lot of silly questions."
That hurt, actually. "How did you know that I thought I was clever?"
"I could just tell. If it helps, I think you probably are, so it's probably okay for you to think it. Just be careful, because clever ponies are the best at proving they're right when they're wrong. So they can be wrong even more than a not-clever pony could."
"It appears I'm not the only philosopher in the room, then," Twilight remarked, wandering around a straw mattress on the floor. Pink linen, of course. Above buzzed a flickering light tube twice as long as Twilight herself, which seemed to be the source of light for the room.
It was cold to the touch.
"Oh, yeah, I made that!" Pinkie's beaming smile was twice as bright as the tube was, "but Bright Spark says that it takes too long to burn out, so nopony will keep buying them. And if nopony buys them, then he can't make them."
Twilight put on a small smile, the kind adults use when talking to small children about concepts they know they can't grasp, and she wore it to hide the sickening knot that had begun to form in her stomach. "What else did you make, Miss Pie?"
"Just Pinkie. Or TESLA. I like both. It's just really nice of Professor Spark to give me so much just for my stupid ideas, isn't it?"
That knot balled tighter still. "Please, Pinkie, just show me what else is your design."
Pinkie looked around the room, at discarded balls of metal, at trailing coils of copper wire, at workbenches and drawing easels and all manner of bric-a-brac... until she found a little box, whirring very quietly, with what looked like part of a sewing machine on top. She gasped in delight and bounced toward it, skipping over piles of junk in her way, and stoodbeside it.
"Okay, are you ready? Follow the beep!"
Pinkie touched her hoof to the metal device on top of her box, which looked almost like a lectern, and Twilight heard a short, sharp 'beep' from somewhere across the room. There was nothing else for it, so she decided to follow it.
Every few seconds Pinkie would make a beep, and with every beep Twilight waded through more junk to her goal. An identical lectern, an almost identical device.
Another beep came from the softly whirring device before Twilight, a metal head on a hinge just-not-quite resting against a metal baseplate. It was for completing a circuit! A circuit across the room.
"You invented the telegram? Pinkie, that's amazing! That's–"
"Oh, no, no, that was all Professor Bright Spark’s. He really is very clever."
Twilight felt almost disappointed, and she couldn't fathom why. She suspected it was because the idea of giving Bright Spark credit for his accomplishments now left a bitter, coppery taste in her mouth. Or maybe that was just the strange air of this room behind the chalkboards?
"I made it wireless though."
Again, a simple, casual sentence from Pinkie had rendered Twilight speechless. She wordlessly removed a back panel from the lectern at her side, even as Pinkie Pie started tapping out nursery rhymes with her little beeps. Below the lectern was copper coils and wires, but none of them trailed into the floorboards like she had assumed. Pinkie Pie was sending information through nothingness itself, and communicating with Twilight across–
"So, what did you want to see the professor about, anyway?"
"Apparently," Twilight breathed, staring at the lectern in wonderment, "you. You're a sandstone mare."
"No I'm not, I'm a fleshy one."
Twilight ripped her eyes away from the more-magic-than-magic coils and stared down the mare on the far side of the room. "No, I mean... you don't care what you look like to the world. You're not expensive, and you just work. You do your job, and you do it so well, because you know that inside you're brilliant, and that's the only thing that matters."
Pinkie blushed faintly at the praise, visible even through the pink. "You really think I'm smart?"
"No," Twilight corrected, looking around the room and seeing the piles of junk lying scattered on the floor for what they truly were: buried treasures. "Brilliant."
The big, blue eyes of the pink mare started watering, visible even from across the room. She pushed herself away from the wireless telegram machine suddenly, and the constant vibrations that now seemed typical of the mare ceased, save for a few wretched jerks that Twilight very quickly identified as sobs.
"What? I said... is that wrong? I can't be the first pony to tell you that?"
Pinkie nodded, even as her cheeks became matted and slick, trails falling from her eyes. "Other than Professor Spark, but he says I can't go out and talk to ponies, or they won't think I'm smart. They'll think I'm crazy, because I am crazy, because you're not really there! You're just another... another one of them! I really, truly thought you were real..."
Twilight was thoroughly confused by this remark. "I am real, Pinkie."
This seemed only to enrage the mare. Blue eyes turned puffy, the whites bloodshot and red. "No! That's what they always say! And then the Professor has to hide me again, and tell me not to talk to ponies, because they're just in my head. The stallions in white coats, you're tricking me into going to them. The stallions in the white coats will take me to the Asylum, just like Bright Spark said.”
The pink mare was vibrating, a bundle of terror and nervous energy. “But I did the poke test! You should be real!" She was screaming now, bolted to the spot, unsure whether to confront Twilight or run as far from her as possible, her body making the only compromise that it could, which was to do nothing.
It was with horror that Twilight had to admit a sick satisfaction with the knowledge that her first assessment of this psychotic pony was probably correct.
The sandstone pony before her had started to crumble.
Because Twilight had to get to the lectern, had followed the damned beeps, she had placed Pinkie between herself and the exit. No other outs, no egresse, she was trapped with an escaped mental patient.
She should have been scared. Terrified, even. Spike's penny-dreadfuls assured her that this was certain death, but as Twilight looked at the twitching, wretched mess before her she felt no fear.
Only a deep, aching sadness.
"He hurt you, didn't he?" she whispered, making sure the whisper was loud enough to carry, loud enough that this demented mare could hear her.
"I deserved it! You know that!" Pinkie wailed, trembling, a filly who had lost their mother in the bustling markets trapped in the body of a full grown adult Twilight's own age – perhaps even older. "Alternating current is dangerous! And Gummy was dangerous!" Twilight followed those eyes to where they darted now, to a little black shoebox atop an overturned bathtub, neatly painted black. Nothing surrounded it. A bastion of neatness and order in a temple of chaos.
"If it was safe, then it couldn't have hurt Gummy in his bathtub. And if Gummy was safe, then the Professor wouldn't have had to use him for his demonstration! And if I was safe, he wouldn't have had to try to fix me... And you're here! It didn't work! It never, ever works!"
The eyes darted again. Under a pile of coils and wires, Twilight had missed it, but not now. Restraints. More archaic than a dentist's chair. Were those capacitors? And electrodes, at head height?
Electrodes at head height.
Before, when Twilight had thought herself talking to a mare who was merely childlike in their naivety, she had masked the growing ball of discomfort in her stomach with a kind smile. Now it seared like nova-hot plasma. She reached into her jacket pocket again, pulling out the watch that Pinkie had thrown at her.
What had Bright Spark done to a mare so kind as to share what little she possessed with a stranger?
She pulled out her other watch, the one she had forgot to wind. It felt cheap, now. Chintzy. "Pinkie 'TESLA' Pie, what is the most you could possibly imagine a unicorn being able to do?"
"You caught a watch I threw at you, and it was pretty heavy. That's it, right?"
Pinkie had given Twilight a watch to give her peace of mind.
It was only fair that Twilight return the favour.
Her old watch levitated over to Pinkie Pie now. Pinkie watched it, mesmerized, as it drifted ever-closer. She gasped as Twilight cracked it apart with her magic, no more troublesome than a walnut. She unscrewed every screw, pulled every rivet, and broke down the watch piece by piece until nothing but the component parts remained, floating lazily in the air in front of Pinkie's eyes, a three dimensional model on the thing it once was.
The lavender glow of Twilight's magic blinked once, then faded. The watch pieces clattering softly to the ground. Twilight doubled over, panting, a migraine beginning to form. She wasn't used to magic that complex, no unicorn could have been.
Her eyes pressed as far up as they could go, to keep Pinkie in view even as her head sagged towards the dusty, litter-covered ground of the hovel. "Could you imagine a unicorn doing that?"
"No way. No unicorn could ever do that!"
"Well, if you couldn't imagine that," Twilight explained, smiling just a little smugly, "and I just did, then that means you couldn't have imagined me, right?"
"Right," Pinkie agreed, nodding. She caught herself. "Wait... you really aren't imaginary?"
"This headache certainly feels real." Twilight grumped.
"But you still think I'm crazy?" Pinkie accused, pointing a trembling hoof at Twilight.
There were certainly many ways Twilight could play this. Appease the dangerously insane pony with lies and platitudes.
How easy it would be.
How cruel it would be.
Some things we do not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
"A little," Twilight admitted with complete honesty, walking slowly towards the pink pony. What compelled her forward, she could not say, but she'd know she had done the right thing when she got there.
"But you know what? I'm crazy too." Half the distance between them had been closed now. The sobbing pink pony dared look up.
"R-really? Really, really?"
"Really, really." Twilight nodded. Three quarters now. "And you know what else? I'm so crazy I think there's a mare on the moon. I've seen her, too."
Pinkie snorted, giggling a little. "You're right, that is crazy."
Twilight smiled herself, at that. They were inches apart now. Twilight cupped Pinkie's chin with a hoof and raised it, meeting her eyes. "And I would be honoured, Pinkie Pie, from one crazy pony to another... if you would help me find a way to talk to her."
Pinkie looked conflicted, momentarily, her eyes refusing to meet Twilight's, which worried the unicorn, but those worries were dashed as quickly as they had come when Pinkie met Twilight's gaze with her own, and a confident smile to boot.
"Okay," she said, voice quavering and hoarse, "Okay," she repeated, "I'll get started right away. My easel's just over there, I'll–"
"No!" Twilight startled herself with the swiftness of her own answer, "No, I'll... I need to borrow you. Yes, I've got plenty of space for you back at my library." A blatant lie, but Twilight would be damned if she couldn't make room.
Pinkie looked down, to the side, anywhere but Twilight's eyes. She didn't brush away the hoof held to her chin, though, which the unicorn took as a good sign. "Won't the Professor be mad?"
"I promise you that Bright Sparks," she refused to honour his title, forevermore, "will not be mad at you in the slightest, Pinkie Pie."
He will, however, be absolutely livid with me.
So let him.
"But... my inventions?"
"Cartponies are cheap!" Twilight declared loudly. "We'll bring it all with us. I'll have every one at the patent office by the week's end, if I have my way."
"What about my bed?"
"I'll buy you a better one!" Twilight was practically shouting, now, a wild look of raw determination in her eye.
"What about Gummy?" Stormy eyes once more looked to the oasis of clean, and the simple shoebox casket of what had been this mare’s only friend.
Twilight was about to answer louder still when she caught herself. The hoof dropped from Pinkie's chin, and Twilight voluntarily did something she had never done before in her life.
She hugged the broken pink pony, and held her tight.
"A proper burial," she promised, "at Old Bones Park."
Pinkie’s answer was little more than a whisper, but Twilight heard it all the same, as close to the pony as she was. "That sounds nice."
Pinkie tensed, then, and pushed Twilight away from her, shaking her head.
"But I can't... the Professor's been so nice to me!"
That nova in her gut cooled, hardened, set. It chilled, and froze. This is not to say that Twilight's fury was any less intense. Fire burns itself out. Ice? Ice endures. "Pinkie Pie, it breaks my heart, more than anything else, that you believe that."
Professor Spark had more bits to throw around than even Twilight, and here he had kept this fractured soul on a bed of straw behind his classroom? Worse still, bits he had made off this mare's brilliance, even when he was hardly short of his own intellect, staff or resources?
Twilight left, then, with the promise to Pinkie that she would return before the hour's end. The mare had burst into tears when Twilight kept that promise, the unicorn carrying behind her a newly-purchased suitcase.
What little clothes, toiletries – no cosmetics had been lavished on her – and necessities that the mare couldn't part with were hastily thrown together, zipped, and slung across Twilight's own withers as she led the mare out of that lecture hall.
Her heart broke all over again when Pinkie told that she couldn't remember the last time she had left this room, not with anger or sadness or regret, but with a sense of wonder and trepidation.
When Twilight led Pinkie out beneath the wide open sky, the mare hugged tightly into her side, staring up at the clouds with a mix of fear and awe, pointing out shapes she saw in the clouds until staring up at the vast expanse gave her what the unicorn recognized as vertigo.
Soon Pinkie was once more blissfully looking up, her wobbly steps growing more and more confident at Twilight's side, when they passed Professor Bright Sparks in that courtyard. He was talking to some colleagues.
Twilight made deliberate eye contact as they passed. The professor looked at her first in horror, then in revulsion, then pure and unbridled terror. The terror, too, passed, and in its place was an anger Twilight had never seen before.
Perhaps that was only because there had not been a single mirror in Pinkie's room.
Pinkie herself never noticed that they had passed her keeper and her captor. Twilight, though, shared non-verbal communication of a level that surpassed even the telegram. She sent Bright Spark a look.
And in that look, Twilight told Bright Sparks that for what she had planned for him, there would need to be fewer witnesses... or perhaps far, far more.
Pinkie, for her part, remained silent, too lost in the wonder of the sky above.
It was not until the pair were nestled together in the plush, upholstered back seat of a hansom cab, rattling its long journey back to the library, that Pinkie finally blurted out: "Make divergence grow!"
Twilight blinked in very genuine confusion. "I'm sorry?"
"You made me think of the perfect way to finish my song!" Pinkie closed her eyes, smile almost beatific, as she completed her verse: "Diffraction in the atmosphere will make divergence grow!"
Sandstone mare indeed, Twilight thought to herself, as she rested herself back into her seat. A bright pink file searched for its appropriate filing cabinet in her mind. It found it, nestling in next to the only other file in this particular cabinet. An orange one.
She hoped that somewhere in that tortured, brilliant head beside her, a purple file had made its way into a similar cabinet of its own.
“I’m not TESLA anymore, am I?” Pinkie asked, bright eyes looking to Twilight. “I really liked that title.”
“Well, you can keep that too, then.” Twilight thought for a moment. “Twilight’s Extra Special... what were you singing about?”
“A big laser,” Pinkie explained, “I want to shoot the moon with a big laser, so when the light shines off it, I can prove it’s actually way up there, and it’s not just in everypony’s imagination, or painted on the sky.”
“Well, there’s our last two letters then. Laser Artificer. Twilight’s Extra Special – wait, did you say bouncing light off the moon?”