• Published 27th Jan 2013
  • 6,934 Views, 315 Comments

The Research of Wing Spell Development and Mechanics - The Wizard of Words



Twilight finally perfects the Wing Casting spell, perfecting it down to the most trivial detail. Her friends are more than thrilled to hear and experience the fruits of her labor. All of her friends, except for Rainbow Dash.

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Introduction

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Twilight bit the end of her quill as she read her carefully scribed notes. There weren’t any grammatical errors, no missing observations, nothing to make the paper anything less than flawless. Still, there was a problem on it that she just couldn’t pin point.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

She moved one section of the papers aside, using her magic to levitate another forwards. Her eyes scanned the words scribbled across it again. Her lips twirled the quill in the air. The feeling of unease had yet to leave her.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Wing-Casting:
Purpose: Grant the subject temporary flight with varying capabilities.
Level of Difficulty: Advanced to Accomplished
Recommendations: The larger the subject, the more magic will be required to complete the spell.

And that was it. There was nothing else for Twilight to read on, document, or refer to aside from her own experimental notes. She got more information about a powerful alicorn queen from a foal’s story book than she did a professional documentation on spells.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

The paper fluttered back to the table as it left Twilight’s magical grasp, gently landing on the many other pages beneath it. Her horn gave a slight flare as she levitated several other pages to her eyes. They detailed many different forms of wings. Butterfly wings, pegasi wings, insect wings, and even dragon wings.

The quill flipped in her mouth as she read over all the descriptive references to the varying appendages. They all varied in size, texture, weight of the owner, durability, and most especially, strength. But they all had two things in common.

One, they all gave the subject who owned them the capability of flight.

Two, at least one of each kind had appeared in her experiments thus far.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Gah!

The sudden shout made Twilight jump, dropping her quill and wing references. Her head whipped left and right before her eyes settled on her young assistant, claws to his ears and head tilted backwards.

“Spike!” She called worriedly. “What’s wrong? Are you alright?”

“No!” He shot back quickly. His head lowered to the unicorn, and Twilight had to stop at the look of near savage annoyance across his features. “You’ve been tapping on the table for the past five hours! It’s driving me up the wall!”

“Spike, I’ve only been here for…” Her head turned to the grandmother clock hanging from her wall, fully prepared to see both hands pointing towards twelve. She was rendered speechless as she saw the smaller of the two hands pointing towards three.

“Oh.” She noted in a surprised tone. She really was there for several hours. Turning back to Spike, she offered the baby dragon an apologetic gaze. “I’m sorry about that. I just lost track of time.”

“No kidding.” The young assistant noted dryly. He was already walking over to an untouched pile of books, ready to be restocked and shelved. “You’ve been pouring yourself into that Wing-Casting Spell every time you have a second to spare.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just… I’m so close on making a breakthrough with this spell, but… something’s just not quite right.” Twilight heard the dragon give a sigh, but chose to ignore it. “All the calculations work out properly, and there are no notable side effects from it either. Statistically speaking, I’ve made no more progress in understanding the Wing-Casting Spell now then I was back for The Best Young Flyer’s Competition.”

“Good thing Rainbow Dash was there to catch Rarity.” Spike noted as he continued his work, focused on the task at claw while easily continuing the conversation with the unicorn.

“That’s what I’m trying to prevent from happening again.” Twilight continued on. Her magic pushed the papers left and right across her desk, finally pulling up a single dried piece of parchment. “The Wing-Spell I casted on Rarity was my first time, and it was highly variable at that. Those wings were just as likely to weigh twenty tons as they were to be lit on fire by the sun.”

“Well, it’s not like you’ve made no progress.” The dragon supplied, pushing another heavy volume into a shelf a few hooves off the ground. “I mean, you don’t nearly faint when casting the spell anymore, right?”

“True, yeah, you’re right about that.” Twilight admitted with a slight cheer to her tone. But nothing followed afterwards.

The silence hung in the air between the two, broken only by the soft thumps of Spike placing books back on their shelves and Twilight shuffling papers. It took only a few more seconds before the baby dragon chose to break it.

“But?” He ventured forward. Twilight continued easily.

“But I have yet to develop any predictable method for the generation of the extra appendages.” The annoyance in her voice was as clear as air.

“Predictable? Like, they come out wrong?” Spike raised a scaly brow at her words. A quick shake of her mane put the idea to rest.

“No, wrong’s the… wrong word.” She answered simply. “The addition of body segments along the posterior coronal plane comes out different in every subject.” Her eyes returned to her documents, levitating them through the air.

“Every subject so far has come out with a differently organized set.” Twilight noted as her eyes drifted from page to page, scanning picture by picture. “They all serve the same basic function. Drag increase, lift forces, surface area increase, minimized volume. But that’s where the similarities end.”

Spike set the last book along the book shelf, sliding down the ladder with a feeling of satisfaction. His claws clapped together a few times before he turned to Twilight. His serpentine eyes looked over the floating documents as he approached his surrogate mother.

“I still can’t believe Fluttershy was okay with you testing the spell out on them.” He added as he lifted a claw to the back of his neck. He had more than one memory of Fluttershy clinging to him when her animal friends were being used by Twilight’s magic.

“It all worked out once she told them I would help them fly.” The passiveness of her tone was far from hidden. “Besides, they enjoy my magic. Fluttershy’s just nervous that something bad could happen to them.”

“Because nothing bad can happen when you use magic, right?” Twilight gave her number one assistant a hard glare. “Uh, sorry, couldn’t help it. I’ve probably been spending too much time with Scootaloo.”

“Scootaloo?” Twilight asked, the heightened tone of curiosity bleeding into her voice. A small flash and hum from her horn, and the papers slowly stacked themselves back on her table. “You sounded a lot more like Rainbow Dash there.”

“Yeah, well, Scootaloo wants to be Rainbow Dash, so it makes sense she tries to talk like her.” The unicorn couldn’t help the grin that formed over her features.

“You’re talking like Scootaloo, who talks like Rainbow Dash. Therefore, you are talking like Rainbow Dash.” She flashed a wide smile as she finished.

“The Law of Transitivity at its finest.” Spike grumbled in annoyance.

“So, what were you saying about the flying animals again?” Spike spoke, hoping to force the unicorn’s train of thought back on topic. He didn’t need to work hard to succeed.

“Ah!” Twilight let out with a small gasp. “Thanks for reminding me. Like I said, each animal produces a different set of appendages or growths to allow the function of flight to manifest. The squirrel, for example,” she spoke as she levitated the top sheet of the pile in front of her. It had the image of a small squirrel across it, complete with measurements of height, mass, strengths, and other carefully written details. Around the well detailed sketch were notes and markings of spells casted, metabolic pathways, and even a few lightly scratched notes from Fluttershy about what said squirrel enjoyed eating.

The detail, however, were the light sketches between the creature’s front and rear legs.

“The squirrel manifested a large growth of skin between his superior and inferior appendages. They protruded roughly one point two three times his width from each side. They didn’t allow him to generate any lift force, but his drag control was significantly increased. He was able to jump and glide for over two-hundred thirty four meters.” Twilight picked up another piece of paper from the pile, lifting it to her muzzle.

“But that’s completely different from this.” Like the image of the squirrel, the paper in front of Twilight had every possible note laid out in perfectly legible letterings. The glare the inked sketch gave was just as detailed, almost as much as the feathery appendages that were hanging from its back.

“Angel metabolized a pair of wings that extended to twice his size, but by mass measurements, weighed no more than one of his paws. They were extremely fragile and brittle. What made them even more significant was their ability to cycle over eighty times per second. They moved so fast, they buzzed.”

“So… like a hummingbird?” Spike’s simple question earned a thrilled response from the unicorn.

“Yes! Exactly!” Twilight nearly cheered as she turned to her assistant. “Angel’s wings are near identical replicas of that of a hummingbird, but scaled to match his own increased stature and size from that of a normal bird. That’s why this is so complicated.”

Without waiting for the dragon to pose the question, Twilight continued on. Once more her horn flashed, lifting the many pages and notes of her research off the table. The detailed sketches, markings, and general test taking data hovered around her, surrounding the vision of both of them.

“There is no statistically different method for what the wings generate as. In the case of the squirrel, the Wing-Casting Spell generated a skin layer from hypodermis to epidermis similar to those of his “Flying Squirrel” cousins, though he belonged to the hereditary genes of a more grounded race. But then you look at Angel and how he received wings from a different species altogether.” A sigh of aggravation left the unicorn’s muzzle.

“And that doesn’t even come close to this one.” Her horn gave a small buzz of energy as one of the papers stilled in the circle. It levitated to wait in front of her as Spike jumped onto her back, gaining a better view of the parchment.

“What’s the big deal about this?” He asked with a motion of his claw towards the sketch. It detailed another one of Fluttershy’s animal friends, a cat to be precise. Like the rest of the sketches around it, measurements of all kinds, complete with complimentary notes from the timid pegasus, were listed next to the well defined sketch.

The cat’s fur was drawn well groomed, its pose prime to proper, and thick leathery wings extended along its back.

“Because Spike,” Twilight began. “The cat has draconic wings. That goes beyond just a different species, they’re along a completely different order in the evolutionary tree. Birds and Rabbits aren’t close on the evolutionary path, but they have a common ancestor from the Carboniferous era. They share similarities close enough for this distinction to be theoretically possible, specifically regarding the mechanisms regarding tissue growth and temperature regulation. But this cat, a mammal, has appendages similar to those of the reptiles. That’s not normal.”

“Yeah, because wings are just so common on rabbits and cats in the first place.” Twice now, Twilight turned to give the baby dragon a fierce gaze. He fell under its power quickly.

“I’m not Scootaloo, Spike. You’re going to have to tone down the sarcasm around me.” An understanding nod came from the baby dragon. “Good.”

Twilight turned her attention back to the documents again. Her eyes ran from measurements of wingspans, to total mass, and then ending at Fluttershy’s notes. A slow deep sigh rolled from her lips.

“So, um,” Spike began to venture. “Got any theories?” He could read her expression before she gave it to him. “I don’t mean answers, I mean just like an idea. You’ve gotta have like a million of those, right?”

Twilight bit her lip.

“Well…” she began, trailing off the stalling word. Her magic gave another hum of activity as the papers reorganized themselves in the air. Instantly, four pages were separated from the rest. As far as the dragon on her back could tell, the only thing different from them and every other paper flying through the room was the lack of drawings on them. Across the parchment there existed only scrawled notes and calculations he could only tangentially follow.

“I developed some basic theories while performing the experiments, but for nearly every animal I have to enforce the theory, there are at least two or three providing counter-examples. Look,” Twilight’s horn flashed again, dragging one of the papers to Spike.

“What’s this?” He questioned with genuine curiosity. His tiny claws grabbed the parchment, pulling it down to eye level. He quickly read it over.

“It was my first theory. Specifically, I theorized that the Wing Casting Spell is meant to provide a temporary bridge between the subject of the spell and another member of its species already capable of flight.”

“You mean like the Squirrel?” The dragon asked absently. He said the perfect words.

“Exactly! He was what initially gave me the idea. But then, Angel and the cat both proved that wrong quickly.” The unicorn’s voice fell as she spoke. Spike either didn’t notice, or forgot to turn off that now accursed sarcastic switch.

“Yeah, not including Rarity and her butterfly wings.”

Spike gave a small gasp of surprise as he found himself being levitated to the floor.

“What did I say about the sarcasm?” The strict tone was spoken with only a few hairs space between the muzzle of the unicorn and end of the dragon’s face. Fortunately, dragons have great memories.

“Uh, no more?” Spike asked with a shrug.

“That’s right.” Twilight reminded. “Now be careful, or you won’t get your ruby dessert after dinner.” The whine that came from the dragon’s mouth was childish. It brought another odd sense of giddiness to the unicorn. She turned herself until she was facing her levitating pages again, reading them over for what was very well the hundredth time that day alone.

“So,” Spike began again, standing on the wooden floor. “Got any other theories?” He clawed upwards, letting the unicorn grab the parchment out of his hand without even a glance. It quickly fell into place along the wall of papers as another fell from the levitating collection. The dragon took it with the same motion.

“The next idea I had was concerned with the available tissue the subject had.”

“Meaning?” Spike asked with beckoning claws. Twilight gave a slow sigh before continuing.

“Meaning I expected tissue covered animals to create tissue resin wings and scaffolds, and reptilian species to generate wings similar to draconic species, with slight webbing. But that was thrown out with the cat.”

Spike knew better than to throw out a sarcastic comment.

“Then, you got nothing else?” He asked as he reached for another paper hanging from the levitating wall. Twilight watched him jump with shaking claws for a moment before passing the sheet of paper. A little teasing did her good.

“Not quite,” she began. “After the cat, I started to theorize that there may be some connection between the efferent nervous system and the Wing Casting Spell.”

“The what now?” Twilight turned to see Spike giving her the most obvious expression of bemusement she had ever seen. Mouth left slightly agape, one eye squinted till near shut, the other wide open, and his cute button nose scrunched into his scaly features. She was having a tough time deciding between giving him a motherly hug for being so cute or a half-serious talk about his studies. Twilight mixed it up.

“You’re so cute when you’re confused," she chided half-heartedly towards the dragon. His expression of confusion quickly morphed into an immature pout. Twilight found a giggle coming from the back of her throat before she knew it.

“Are you gonna tell me what you’re talking about, or am I going to have to find a dictionary?” The unicorn let her content smile linger on her lips for a moment longer. Teasing him was fun, but she was never the kind of pony to ignore a question, especially about her studies.

“The nervous system is divided into three parts,” she began easily, letting her hoof wave through the air as she spoke. “The afferent, efferent, and central spinal cord. The spinal cord is the primary receptor and propagator of nerve impulses. Both the afferent and efferent nerve endings synapse into or from the central cord. The afferent nervous system is where sensitization begins. It’s basically how you feel hot, cold, pressure, or anything else you lay your claws on.” She watched with an eager smile as Spike examined his claws with a new sense of awe. If nothing else, she taught her number one assistance something new today.

“Then, the efferent is for creating reactions?” As kindly as she could, Twilight shook her head.

“Close, but not quite.” Her hoof tapped the end of her noggin a few times. “Your brain is responsible for interpreting the signals of the afferent system, and creating signals to carry through the efferent system. The efferent system doesn’t create the signal, it just tells the muscles or organs what to do.” Two wide reptilian eyes stared at Twilight with complete comprehension. She loved that expression, she really did.

“So, then…” Spike spoke as he let his thoughts turn into words. “You’re theory is… that the new wings don’t have efferent nerves?” Once again, Twilight gently shook her head.

“Close again Spike, but not quite.” Her sketched papers circled her again. “I know for a fact that the wings created by the Wing-Casting Spell all created efferent nerves with their creation. Otherwise, the wings wouldn’t have been able to move, which defeats the point.” Spike nodded in understanding.

“So then, what was the point?” Twilight gave a wise smile.

“Well Spike,” she began, adopting a studious tone. “If the wings were able to generate and create efferent nervous systems, what does that mean with its connection to the brain?”

The baby dragon’s features turned serious with all the time it took to flip a bit. He pursed his lips, holding his clawed digits to his mouth. He pulled his eyes to half-lidded gazes, letting his focus turn inwards. He fell onto the floor to sit, forcing Twilight to stifle a laughter at the undeniably cute display.

He slowly rocked back and forth, moving in some implausible method to have his brain work more efficiently. Twilight quickly filed the idea away next to Pinkie Sense Prediction.

“If the efferent nerves are delivering a pulse from the brain,” Spike began, listing what Twilight had told him. “Then does that mean the brain had to have some connection in the creation of the wings?”

Twilight could have cheered with joy.

“Yes! Exactly right!” She fought the urge to lift her number one assistant into a bone-crushing hug. That was Pinkie Pie’s job. Instead, she opted to levitate him onto her back. The smile that beamed across his face was indication enough that he was proud of his conclusion. Levitating the paper between the two, she gave it a slight poke with her hoof.

“This is the closest theory I have behind the mechanisms of the spell. However, I can’t list any specific resources or data behind it. It’s still just a theory. More than that, it doesn’t help me predict how the wings will turn out. All it tells me so far is that there’s something going on in the brain that determines how the wings are created, but I don’t know where to look or how to measure it. And believe me, the brain’s a complicated place.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you know all about that.” Spike bit his tongue between his teeth, but he was too late.

He was back on the ground.

“Aw, c’mon Twilight. It just slipped out, honest," he whined dejectedly. “When you hang out with somepony like Scootaloo for weeks, you get used to making comments like that. Do you know how many times I’ve been called “handy”?” Twilight’s expression had yet to soften.

“Sorry Spike, but I did warn you.” The baby dragon let out a sigh of defeat, crossing his arms as he gave a huff of breath. An idea quickly swam through Twilight’s mind. “But, if you can help me come up with a new theory of how the subject’s brain patterns affect the Wing-Casting Spell, I just might give you your ruby dessert.” His eyes lit up like candles.

“Really?!” The baby dragon cheered with excitement. Twilight had one more nail to deliver.

“And if you can tell me how to test it, I might even give it to you early.”

Spike was over Twilight’s table in a second. She couldn’t suppress the giggle that ran up her throat this time. She let her hoof over her lips, already fully aware of the rubbing noise of delight that emanated from it.

Twilight trotted to a collection of pillows beside the desk, making herself comfortable on the pile. The papers she had collected into a small wall display slowly began to spread out, circling the two again. With all the ease of breathing, Spike would look up at the twirling papers, read over a line, and then pull it down to the desk.

Her slit eyes read the pages Twilight had scripted herself. Twilight watched on from her own seat, collecting papers as she needed them. Working on magical research was something Twilight would never grow bored of.

Teaching someone about magical research. That felt like something she could live for.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Twilight’s ears twitched.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Twilight was going mad.

She was sure Spike was exaggerating before when he noted his annoyance with her tapping. She was so absolutely sure it was just his impatience. That would make sense. He was just a baby. Almost anything that took longer than a few hours meant forever to him.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

But after listening to that constant noise for two straight hours, no breaks, no rests, no signs of slowing, Twilight was almost 100% sure that Spike was more than just patient with her. She couldn’t think of a word strong enough in the Equestrian language to describe the amount of patience he must have with her.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

What she did know was that she was much closer to losing her cool now then Spike probably was. Only two hours from his tapping and she was almost ready to telepathically rip her notes to shreds. It was only that small, docile, still logical piece of her mind reminding her that she had no copies sorted and stored away that kept her from doing just that.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

She should stop him. Twilight really wanted to, but what kind of example would that set? He could handle her annoyances for five hours, but she couldn’t handle two? That would be a horrible example to set for a growing dragon.

But her hooves were starting to rub at one another rather intensely. Twilight’s ever analytical mind was sure that just a few more minutes of frictional contact and the fur would rub right off her coat. That would be awkward to explain.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

There had to be a way out of it. Organizing and studying her notes was long past possible, impossible exactly 1.175 hours ago, but she couldn’t just leave. That would confuse, maybe even worry, Spike. But there had to be a good reason to get out of her home, even if just for a few… hours.

Maybe Pinkie Pie needed help in the bakery, or Fluttershy with her animals. She owed Applejack a favor on the farm. Spike wouldn’t forgive her if she went to see Rarity without him knowing. Where was Rainbow Dash and her invasive behavior when you needed it?

“Um, Twilight?”

The unicorn blinked.

She turned her gaze slightly to see Spike standing at his tallest just beside her, head cocked to the side as he gazed at her in moderate confusion. She returned with a similar look of her own.

“Are you alright? You look…off.” The unicorn sighed.

“I’m sorry Spike,” she apologized to her number one assistant. “I guess I’m just getting a bit too stressed over this problem. You know how I am.” Twilight donned a half-hearted smile, assuring the baby dragon that she was alright. Like her expression to his confusion, Spike put on an effortless smile to match Twilight’s own.

“Well, I think I have an idea about that.”

“Oh?” Twilight questioned with genuine curiosity. Her purple eyes looked down to the few sections of parchment in Spike’s claws. The writing on it was clearly that of a novice, despite the many letters Spike had penned throughout the years, but it was far from illegible. Confessingly, that may have been due to Twilight’s constant presence around her number one assistant.

“Yeah,” Spike let out as he held out the papers at his arm’s length. “I honestly didn’t really bother to try and solve for any kind of formula or metabool… metebal… path in the body, because if you couldn’t find it, there’s probably no chance that I would.” Twilight listened to the baby dragon as she levitated the papers in front of her.

“Then what did you find?” she asked as she let her eyes scan the pages, reading the scrawled words across them. Spike eagerly spoke on.

“Well, I know that none of the animals were upset about what kind of wings they got. I mean, you did give like a hundred different animals the ability to fly. With your luck, I’m surprised they didn’t all get upset about it.”

Twilight’s gaze grew stern. This time, Spike didn’t flinch.

“That wasn’t sarcasm. You don’t exactly have the best track record with Fluttershy’s animal friends.” The hard gaze of the unicorn quickly melted under the words. That was something she absolutely could not deny. A few chills ran up her coat regarding her first Winter Wrap Up and assisting Fluttershy with it.

“I’ll give you that one," she admitted. “So what do you think that means?”

“About your luck with animals?” There was no way out of it this time.

“You just can’t help yourself, can you?” The question was more honest than it was mocking. Twilight was seriously beginning to question Spike’s ability to control himself. A sheepish frown fell over the baby dragon’s scaled lips.

“I-I’m sorry.” He stuttered out, foot kicking a pillow beneath Twilight lightly. It was hard for the unicorn to ignore the sense of peace she got, watching his cute little form pout.

“It’s alright,” she admitted. “You did spend several hours trying to help me. You were due for one sarcastic comment. But only one.” She clarified at the dragon’s quickly grinning lips. “Now,” she continued. “What did you think the wings on the animals meant.” She emphasized her point clearly. The baby dragon spoke on.

“Well, I was looking over Fluttershy’s notes about the different animals. I know you gave them to her as more of assurance that you wouldn’t hurt them, but she did write down some things that were… relevant, I guess.” That earned a quirked eyebrow from the unicorn.

“You guess?” Twilight repeated. Her eyes scanned over a hastily scrawled note regarding Angel. It showed a crude drawing of the rabbit with tiny wings, stating next to it Fluttershy’s note about how protective he was of her. It was circled twice and underlined thrice.

“Well, it’s just a theory, that’s always a guess.” Twilight couldn’t hide the beam that grew over her lips. Spike, however, pretended not to see it. “Anyways, Fluttershy wrote down things like what the animals liked to do, what they enjoyed to eat, who they enjoyed being around the most, and stuff like that. But I saw something that was… I guess related.”

“What was that?” Twilight asked as she followed Spike’s scribbled claw writing down the parchment. She found herself flipping to the next page, detailing two squirrels. One, she assumed, was the same squirrel that developed the attachment layer of skin and coat between his appendages.

“It looks like the wings depend upon what the pony, or animal, is thinking about?”

Twilight stopped reading.

“Come again?” She must have misheard him.

“I said that the wings look the way they do probably because of what the pony, or animal, is thinking.” That's what she thought he said.

That was impossible.

One of the first things Twilight learned about magic, in the advanced studies class under the tutelage of the Princess, was the caster of a spell was the one who determined its outcome. The object that it was cast on was at the complete mercy of the spell.

It didn’t matter what form of spell was being cast. The object that was being casted on couldn’t do anything to stop it. If they could, Discord would never have been turned to stone, Sombra wouldn’t have been expulsed, and the animals from her orange alteration spell never would have been… turned into oranges.

It wasn’t possible that the Wing-Casting spell was contingent upon the mindset and thoughts of the subject.

“Spike, you’ve read all of my notes from my classes with Celestia.” She reminded carefully to the baby dragon. “You know that spells are only affected by the caster.”

“I know. I know.” Spike quickly relented, and he continued to press on. “That’s why I was taking so long with this. It didn’t seem possible, but it’s probably the only thing all the animals have in common. I mean, look at this!” Without any warning, the small purple dragon jumped into the air, at a height that was easily equal to his own.

Twilight took an involuntary step back as he did so, more of surprise than anything else. She only passively watched as his claw swiped at one of his papers in the air, bringing it back down with him. He must have grabbed the one he wanted, because it didn’t take him long to turn it back to her pointing at the words.

“This is Angel bunny, and how he has smaller wings than you would expect. You said yourself that they were really light and brittle.” Twilight nodded at his words.

“I did, but I don’t see how that plays into his… mindset, Spike.” The dragon didn’t relent.

“According to Fluttershy, he’s always trying to protect and stay around her. He’s one of the biggest reasons she has the courage to do half the things she does! I mean, the little guy stood up to Discord when he was teasing Fluttershy, before he went good and all.”

“Spike, I still don’t see-” Twilight didn’t have time to finish.

“It sounds like he always thinks about Fluttershy, the most timid and gentle pony around. His wings are soft and fragile. That’s all that Fluttershy is!”

Twilight’s gazed at the paper. Hard.

She levitated her own dictated notes regarding the protective bunny, rereading her measurements and analysis notes regarding the small animal and his magically acquired appendages. They were small, smaller than his size would normally call for, and the wings definitely wouldn’t stand up to any kind of force. But… could she really just assume that meant it was because of Fluttershy?

“It’s… one example,” she cautiously admitted. “But you’ve seen me perform experiments enough to know that it takes more than one example to make deem a hypothesis statistically significant.”

“But it’s not just Angel, it’s all of them!” Spike’s scaly arms motioned to the papers floating in the air. Again, without warning, Spike showed the strength of his small stature, jumping to grab at another piece of paper. He briefly looked over it himself with his reptilian eyes before turning it in front of Twilight.

“This is the cat.” He noted quickly. “According to Fluttershy’s notes on her, she is very greedy, often taking from other animals’ food when she doesn’t have enough. Fluttershy was a bit kinder with how she said it, but really, she was acting like a dragon!” He waved the paper in the air as he finished his sentence.

“Well…” Twilight began again, far more hesitantly than before. “That does increase the likelihood, but you need more than just two examples. It may be improbable, but-”

“But, there’s tons more!” Spike declared as he jumped and plucked his papers from Twilight’s magical grasp. He read them, one by one, before listing off more and more proof for his observed hypothesis. He began by holding up another piece of claw written parchment. The only thing Twilight could easily see in the shaky grasp was the large heart drawn around two stick figures.

“The squirrel that developed skin between his arms and legs was, quote, being sweet on Ms. Squirrel, who is, I checked, a flying squirrel. In other words, the squirrel you tested on was thinking about a squirrel he wanted to date.” Unceremoniously, Spike dropped the page reaching for another.

“And this one!” He nearly shouted as he held up another scrawled work of parchment. The design of the mouse was what Twilight vaguely thought it was. She only recognized it as that because of the wing designs along the scrawled creatures back. She had drawn something similar, though far more detailed, in her own notes. As Spike spoke, he confirmed Twilight’s musings.

“This mouse developed wings like those of a fly. I remember you gasping in surprise.” The unicorn felt a warm heat flood her cheeks at the memory. “Fluttershy’s notes say that the mouse, sorry, Mr. Mouse enjoys pulling small pranks on the other animals. Usually, he’s just a small distraction. That sounds exactly like a fly, doesn’t it?”

Twilight worked her jaw silently.

It was impossible, completely impossible. There was no way that this spell, the Wing-Casting Spell, was capable of changing its effects and alterations based upon the mindset of the subject. It defied one of the most golden rules of magical properties. There was no way that this could be the answer to the spell. It was an idea almost as crazy as Discord himself!

And yet, it made perfect sense.

“Twilight?” The unicorn shook her head as she heard the dull ring of her name. “Twilight, you alright.” She blinked once, twice, then saw her number one assistant looking up at her. He didn’t look worried in the slightest. He was definitely used to her thinking states at this point. She offered him a peaceful, albeit excited, smile.

“I’m fine, just rolling your idea around in my head.” Spike’s confused gaze matched her own excited features.

“And?” He asked with a leading tone. Twilight was all too happy to indulge it.

“It… does make sense.” She admitted, causing the excited features along Spike’s fast to break out into an energetic smile. Twilight, however, spoke on. “But it’s still only a theory Spike.”

“Oh, yeah.” The energy that seemed to be barely contained within the baby dragon’s form dissipated all at once, leaving Spike hanging in the air. Twilight however, already was making plans.

“Spike, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong.” She trotted past him with a small flash of her horn. The pages that were hanging in the air, and caught within Spike’s paws spun like a contained twister in the air. In an organized fashion, they positioned themselves along her desk, stacked neatly, squarely, and orderly. Another hum and spark from her horn, and a new piece of parchment and fresh dipped quill hovered in front of her.

“Theories exist so we can test them.” She lightly explained. “Since you have a theory, and a good one at that, we have to test it now with a set of constrained variables to ensure that it works.”

“Oh. Oh! Right!” And just like it left, the joy in Spike returned all at once. Twilight heard more than saw Spike bouncing up to her side. He climbed her back carefully, looking over her head as he read her magically printed writing. “So what’s the plan then.”

Twilight was only too happy to indulge in his curiosity.

“If the spell is contingent upon synapses occurring in the brain, then it should be easy to read the pony’s mind before casting the spell to ensure that what they are thinking produces a similar result. However, that may lead into magical interference, which would dilute the data into too many variables to estimate. So it would be easier to have subjects capable of speech to speak out loud what they are thinking as the spell is cast.” Twilight flicked her quill as she finished, turning to see the same satisfied expression on her number one assistant.

She was met with a face clouded in utter confusion. She sighed, knowing she had lost him again.

“I mean we can’t test on more of Fluttershy’s animals because I can’t know what they’re thinking about without using magic, which might alter the results of the test.” Spike’s perplexed gaze gave way to wide eyes of recognition.

“So you need to test on ponies, ‘cause they can tell you what they’re thinking of, or focused on, or wanting to be.” The unicorn nodded in agreement.

“That’s right, but I hate testing spells like that.” Twilight noted with a bit of her lip. “I’d never say it to Fluttershy, but testing on animals is much easier than on ponies.

“Now hold on! You test your spells out on me all the time!” The sudden accusation of Spike’s voice nearly made the unicorn gasp.

But she let her lips bend into a carrying smile before she twisted around, pulling Spike from her back and holding him in a large hug. He stiffened for only a moment.

“Oh Spike, I’d never test a spell on you that I thought could be dangerous.” She spoke caringly as she nuzzle the baby dragon. “You’re my number one assistant, and my very first friend. I’d never put you in harm’s way if I could help it.”

“Oh,” the dragon muttered sheepishly in the unicorn’s hold. Twilight stifled a giggle as she felt Spike’s arms wrap around her neck, pulling her a little closer. She happily obliged.

Softly, in the back of her mind, Twilight realized that she didn’t hug Spike often, at least not as much as she had when she was younger. He was always her number one assistant, almost from the moment she was accepted as Princess Celestia’s protégée. He was a welcome source of comfort she could hold and confide in, even back to before he could even speak.

He followed her nearly everywhere she went, staying with the princess only as he needed to. It would never take long for him to run to Twilight’s side, and it would never be said that Twilight thought of the dragon as anything less than dear. They were important to one another.

And now, years later, he was learning almost as fast as she was, giving advice she never thought of, and ultimately, being her voice of reason in more than one scenario.

Things really did change fast.

“Hey Twilight?” His voice softly shook her from her thoughts.

“Yes Spike?”

“Can you test the spell out on me first?” Twilight couldn’t resist the urge to giggle.

“Sure Spike, we can do that.” She felt the dragon squirm in her gasp. Curious, she leaned back, letting him earn some room between the two. He looked up at her with his big green reptilian eyes.

“Can I ask something else?” He asked with open curiosity. Twilight smiled down at him. She felt one of side of her lips twisting in a mischievous manner.

“Another request? You’re getting a little greedy Spike.” She giggled in amusement as he childishly pouted in her hooves. Twilight watched as his lips almost began to move in argument, but his stilled them before a breath passed between them. His lips pouted for a moment before he tried to voice his question again.

“Would… would it be a good idea to use more ponies in the experiment?” Twilight’s gentle teasing turned on its head faster than she expected. Her mouth shut tight and eyes opened wide as the idea circled her mind. It was a very good idea, and a recommended one for studies such as this. Her eyes looked back down at the dragon, marveling all the more how much he had grown.

He was really only little in body. Honestly, he was almost as wise as she was.

“You never do stop in surprising me.” Twilight encouraged in an affectionate tone. The green scales across Spike’s cheeks took a darker tone at the words. The unicorn found herself smiling again. “Do you have any pony in mind?”

“Well,” Spike let his claws play with one another, eyes looking skyward. “I-I was thinking we could try it out on Applejack, a-and maybe… Sweetie Bell.” Twilight knew full well what name he really wanted to say. She couldn’t stop herself even if she wanted to.

“Don’t you mean Rarity?” The dark green instantly turned a bright red. Twilight just nuzzled the baby dragon closer.

“Hey! Cut it out!” He tried to call out defiantly, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

“Nope, not until you confess.” She threatened in a light tone, nuzzling the underbelly of the baby dragon more and more. He fought valiantly, but fruitlessly, against his captor.

“Alright!” He let out in a whiny tone. “I… I do want to ask Rarity, but… but if you tell her what we’re doing… and I’m right…” He trailed off, looking away from the unicorn with a guilty expression.

Something clicked in Twilight’s mind.

“You think you’ll get a pair of wings like Rarity did, right?” The small cringe from the reptile was all the admittance Twilight needed. She smiled as softly as she could at her number one assistance.

“It’s alright Spike, I won’t tell her. I promise, Pinkie Promise.” He gave her an unsure expression. Twilight felt the sigh pass her lips before she knew any better. Her hooves released the captive dragon, letting him stand on the floor as she sat back on it. Raising her forehooves, she let them dance in the air as she spoke.

“Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.” She definitely remembered to avoid poking herself this time. Spike’s expression grew hopeful at the, honestly, rather childish display.

“Thanks, Twilight.” The dragon spoke in an earnest tone, smile across his lips.

“Anytime, Spike. Now go on,” she spoke as she made a batting motion with her hooves. “I can’t use the spell unless I have someone to cast on.” Spike jumped to attention

“Right!” He cheered. “I-I’ll go get them as fast as I can!” He ran out the door without waiting for a response. Twilight chuckled at the display.

“Some things never will change.” She muttered to herself as she turned back to her desk. Her notes were still scribbled across the lone piece of parchment, kept separate from the impressive pile beside it. It was short so far, listing only the broadest necessities to conduct the Wing-Casting Experiment, but details were never something she had to worry about adding.

Her hoof rose to her back, tracing the muscles that run above her carriage. The idea of having something growing from there, another set of appendages, was almost beyond her to imagine. Almost, being the key word.

She had seen more than her fair share of wings by now. From animals, to pegasi, to even insects and reptiles, there probably wasn’t a type of wing she wasn’t familiar with. The idea of being able to have any kind, any set, just by thinking about it was more than exhilarating to her.

Twilight let her mind wander as she waited for Spike’s return. She thought about the joy that would come from flying by yourself, independent of every force but your own. No gravity to worry about, no carriage to cling to, and only the sensation of wind running over your coat.

To put in the words of a famous pegasus, it would be awesome.

Twilight couldn’t help but smile as the mare filled her mind.

Author's Note:

Lot's of edit have been made. Thank you to the kind comments and editors \.

Credits: King of Cerberus, Echriedz, Coandco.

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