• Published 6th Oct 2012
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A Discordant Tale - piedol



A story of Ponies, Humans and Discord, and the tragedy lost to history.

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Chapter 8

ADT Chapter 8

I was never too big on parties. Not. At. All.

Being your average awkward and introverted young adult, I always enjoyed the company of a glowing screen to people. Interaction with strangers has never been one of my strong points. Take that up a notch and stick me in a room full of people all hot and sweaty and excited and dancing, toss is a bit of alcohol to go around (Of which I would never partake), loud music and sugar, and you've effectively killed any chance of me enjoying an evening.

These weren't people though; They were ponies. Ponies are cool. That's why I was actually looking forward to my party, at first.

Yeah, there was all that dancing and up-beat music pumping from who-knows-where, but not an obnoxious soul to deal with, and no pressure to drink, or have a girl to flaunt. Heck, the only alcohol in the room was being hoarded by Cashmere, who it no doubt belonged to to begin with. Pinkie had stocked up on sugary snacks, sugary drinks, sugary cakes, and sugary sugar, and that had everyone who decided to so much as sniff the air in the room jittery and almost high off the rush, leaving them with almost no choice but to expel the tension through spontaneous dance.

That said, I still failed to get into the spirit of things beyond the first few minutes. The place was huge, and I mean huge. The living room alone was over fifty feet on the longer sides, and it was packed. So packed, in fact, that its occupants had begun to drift into other rooms to have their fun after the initial unsurprising “Surprise”. I'd said some "hello's", done some short and sweet introductions, been introduced again to Pinkie Pie by none other than herself, and even gotten a chance to find Rarity, who was more than happy to try her hoof at designing some clothes for me once I'd asked, and being the ever generous soul she is, had even promised to give me the first few sets free of charge as a welcoming gift.

Fluttershy was as much of a dear as could be expected. She’d been curious at first, since we hadn’t crossed paths at any point during the day, but she had obviously caught word of me from her friends. After the initial inspection, though, she gave me the usual “You’re going to love it here,” promise, and even tacked on some Fluttershy-exclusive Happiness Insurance by way of a squeak-smile.

Motherfucking squeak-smiles. If the sugar wasn’t potential diabeetus threat, those were.

Then along came Rainbow Freaking Dash. She'd been a unique individual to meet for the first time...

"So you're a what-now?" she asked, hovering in the air before me and stroking her chin with a cyan hoof as she eyed my frame up and down..

"Human," I answered.

She shrugged. "Never heard of ya. You've probably heard of me, though. Name's-"

"Rainbow Dash, the fastest flier in all Equestria," I finished in the raspiest voice I could force.

"I take it Twi's been going on and on about me all day, hasn't she?" the proud mare chuckled knowingly.

"No, but she did warn me to look out for your ego," I said with a smirk.

Her laughter was cut off by a shocked intake of breath. "Wha- Hey! My ego's not big; I just know a great thing when I am one." She said it with such conviction that I almost couldn't help but believe her words.

I smiled and shook my head. "Whatever you say, RD."

She glared at me. "Ah, to hay with it. I'm off to show some ponies a good time. Catch ya later!" With that, she was gone in a blur, once again leaving me to my own devices.

Problem is, I had nothing to do, seeing as:

I can't dance.

I can't sing.

I don't overindulge in sweet things past late afternoon.

I don't like crowds, no matter the composition.

This sad combination of traits had led to me being inevitably pushed to the edge of the party that was being thrown for me to begin with, where I became nothing but a background character. In fact, it was obvious that more than half the partygoers had only shown up for the free food and chance to mingle, since everywhere I looked from my self-appointed post at the punch bowl, ponies had their circles of friends and lovers that, unconsciously or not, they saw no reason to break away from. That left me with all the time in the world to spend with myself and the oh-so-joyous company of... Myself.

Don't be so negative. At least you've still got me.

It's too bad you're practically me. That makes the attempted consolation even more pathetic than it sounds.

Groaning at my own spiral into self pity, I forced myself back into the throng of ponies once more, only to somehow end up pushed to the drink table on the opposite end of the room by a combination of being bumped into and being bumped off by those in conversation with others—About me, no less!

I hate parties...

Then let's make this fun.

How the bollocks will I go about doing that?

Let's see; There are no less than a hundred ponies having their fun about the house right now. They've all got their friends and girlfriends and agendas to make impressions and whatnot.

What's that got to do with me?

Figure it out. You've got magic. You've got ponies. Put one and one together.

I looked around at the technicolor swarm of bodies that occupied the room around me as I grasped the potential of the situation, and a smile began to form on my face as an idea began to form in my mind.

I'd done some manipulation once before. It would be difficult to do anything in-depth with so much sources of distraction in the room, but then again, who said I had to go into detail?

Needing no prompt from my alter ego, I expanded my awareness to cover about half its potential distance, and about a quarter of the room's total area. The auras of every living thing that it encompassed were pressed against one another so closely as to become one almost incongruous tangle of whitish haze. That proved to be useful when it came to the task of gaining mental impressions from them, as almost every pony was clustered into their personal groups, and so their thoughts ran almost in sync. I merely needed to glimpse into the aura of one set to know that they were each trying to humor one another, while another bunch would show its members as simply enjoying the raucous atmosphere.

What I was looking for, though, were those that had significant amounts of emotional tension between the ponies that made up the whole—be it positive or negative energy, it didn't matter. I just needed it to be unresolved and unknown, and these kinds of cases were easy enough to find, being identified when the uncertain wavering of one pony's mind would be sending me images of another whose thoughts would be on another matter entirely; When one infatuated unicorn would be unable to express her feelings to her oblivious Earth stallion, who she'd invited for the sole purpose of seducing with charm and wit, but had been unable to muster enough of either to make an impression. The intent fueled by those desires would have nowhere to go, simply maintaining its faltering state till something triggered its release into an emotional or physical outlet.

If the choice for that outlet came from me, however, and was designed with a certain reaction in mind, the result would be akin to putting a drop of dye into a bottle of water; My injected idea would take root as one of their own and affect the entire behavior of the pony. My single experiment back at the castle had been enough to illuminate the inner machinations of the feeling mind to me, and making one pony fall for another would be as easy as:

One... Two...

***

Stupid Dawn Prancer. Why's he constantly eyeing that hag? There's no way he'd go for someone so... Distasteful. I'm better looking than any two-bit joyride he'd fine here. Why can't he see that?

"Dawn Prancer," I call above the thumping bass, flashing a smile as I do so, "how about we head over to the drink stand over there? I'm feeling a bit parched."

"I'm fine, Iris. You can go on ahead. I'll just be right... Here." He waves a hoof dismissively while not so much as turning away from that infernal filly.

Couldn't he at least have the decency to not stare? I know we're friends and all, but I'd like to think he at least showed some semblance of fondness or something! We've known each other for years, and he's never so much as winked at me, let alone ogle like he's doing for that harlot that he hasn't so much as spoken to yet.

Maybe I'm not so eye-catching? Is it that I'm just not attractive enough? Is it my personality? What's wrong with me?

It's not me, it's him; He's the problem. I'm above stressing so much over one so trivial.

Yes, that's it! Why should I care so much what he does? He's just one dumb stallion. An adorable hunk of one, but dumb nonetheless. If I went for someone else, he'd be sure to pay attention then. I'll make him so jealous that he'll go to his knees begging me to reconsider.

Why stop there? I'll have proven to both him and myself that I don't need his attention. He can have the hussy. I'll find a hotter stallion in no time. Heck, I see a pretty cute one over there right now.

I saunter over to a particularly fetching young unicorn in a tux. Prancer doesn't notice me go, but who needs him? The guy's sticking to the sidelines and looking around nervously almost like he's hoping he won't get noticed. He looks like a stallion who'd come for the sake of a date, but had either been stood up or just plain replaced at some point during the evening. Poor guy just needs a confidence boost.

He sees me heading his way, does a double-take, and his jaw drops when he realizes that I'm looking directly at him. I give a small but saucy smile, and I can practically feel the room heat up around him. He tugs at his collar nervously and tries to smile back, but his grin cracks and he's left trying to cover his awkwardness.

Still got it.

I stand right in front of him, making sure that all the attention he was putting on the dance floor a moment before is now on me. "Hey," I coo.

"H-hey," he stammers, trying to keep his eyes from my curvy flank. "What- uh, can I help you with anything?"

"I've had my eye on you for a while now," I say with as much sincerity as I can manage. "How's someone as adorable as you not have every filly in this place hanging off your neck?"

His eyes go wide, and he blushes red through his light brown coat. "A- A- Adorable? Y- You th- think that..." He trails off and swallows nervously. "Wow."

"What's your name, babe?" I ask.

"I- It's Napoleon."

"Fitting. A unicorn like you deserves a name that'll make mares swoon." I smile again, gently this time, and he relaxes. "Have a dance partner?"

A look of resentment flashes across his face, but is gone in an instant, and he looks to the floor dejectedly. "Had one, at least. I guess most girls prefer toned and headstrong to... Well, me."

I put a hoof under his chin and gingerly lift his gaze to meet mine. "You've got one now. Why don't we have some fun tonight?

I turn back towards the dance floor, and he's at my side in a flash, eager to prove his worth to me.

I like this one. I think I'll keep him.

We walk off together, pressed side by side.

***

Blech

I hadn't expected to get any level of emotional fulfillment. I'd been hoping to cause some sort of jealousy, or conflict—not lovey-dovey seduction for some nerd.

It's a start. That's one friendship that will never be the same after tonight, now that's she's let go of Dawn, and one very lucky stallion that didn't even have to introduce himself.

I suppose that's true. Let's try some more. This time, let's go for the ponies that are the object of attention, instead of the poor saps clamoring for it.

And so I found a way to pass the time. Fueled by energy from my nap a few hours before, I was more than able to sustain the minor use of magic that it took to place suggestions into individual minds.

I made two best friends both realize and confess their spontaneous undying love for one another... Right in front of their next best friend, who from that moment would have to live with the honorary title of 'third wheel.'

I caused one mare to believe that she was a filly fooler, leaving one happily confused partner to watch as she tried to express her newfound feelings to a surprised lone female pegasus, who was flattered but not interested in the proposal. Seeing as she was so unsure of how to respond, though, I convinced her to give it a try. I didn't get to see more though, as they'd left the party together after that, but I'm sure there would be one heck of a conversation to be had in the morning, once my impressions faded and they were able to think straight once again. At least the guy didn't seem to mind too much. He was practically cheering them on leading up to and after the kiss.

I made one aloof stallion take a liking to an attractive mare... Causing him to completely forget his date and official girlfriend, who was at a loss for words when he suddenly walked off and professed his true feelings to the complete stranger... Only to have yet another stallion with previous commitments show up, claiming that he had first set eyes on the now confused and abashed mare between them. Man, that must have been one hell of a situation for Napoleon to come back to, having gone for drinks and returned only to find his girl in the arms of two bigger, stronger males. I'll give him credit though; He sure didn't hesitate before tackling them both to the ground.

I chuckled with mad glee at the various scenarios unfolding in the tumultuous crowd before me. In all the commotion from the heated dancing and music alone, hardly anybody even noticed that a fight had started, or that relationships were being ruined. It was the perfect, chaotic atmosphere for me to test my capabilities, and I loved it.

That's why it was a real shame when I prodded a bit too hard into the minds of a group of mares all having a rather relaxed and civil discussion, which was odd considering the environment. Curiosity got the better of me, and what I'd intended to turn into a love sextangle (I mean the shape, but it's fitting here, no?) between ladies resulted in me running into the only pony I'd been trying to avoid; A pony who would be capable of both sensing and ruining my fun.

My mind infiltrated the group, going right for the member that had the most attention, and whose actions would therefore carry the most weight. As my thoughts probed hers, though, I got a distinct feeling of mental awareness and resistance that had been absent in all other previous targets. Choosing to ignore it, I pushed harder, trying to essentially force my way into her mind.

Her aura suddenly and violently expanded, reaching out and gripping onto mine before I had a chance to retract. It held my tendril of energy close, preventing my escape as its owner began some counter-probing of her own. Through that connection, I sensed a familiar presence—as did she.

Oh shit.

... Joseph? came the thought.

Uhhh... hey, Twilight. How's the party going?

I'd never formed any explicit two-way connections before then, only sending images and impressions the minds I connected to. I simply hadn't had the focus. Twilight, however, seemed to have no trouble making that link, and the steadiness of her own aura, combined with my adrenaline rush from the shock of having so suddenly been realized and forcefully attached to, held my mind steady and allowed me to direct all of my attention to her despite the noise all around me. She was practically on the other side of the room from where I was standing, yet every thought sent was received with near crystal clarity.

That was not a good thing for me.

Joseph, why were you trying to get into my head? What are you up to?

Nothing! Nothing at all. I was just... Trying to find you so that I could- Charlie horse!

Before she had a chance to react, I attempted to withdraw my energy. The cloud of awareness around me snapped back into place, but she held fast to the extension that remained, causing my mind to reel in shock from the unexpected strength of her grasp. She was not left unaffected though, having to exert some effort on her own part to prevent me from escaping and avoiding her interrogation. As we mentally grappled—one for freedom and one for control—our energies mingled and were forced apart repeatedly, till there was a sudden snap between us. All at once, I lost awareness of the world around me. There was only the two of us existing in the same ethereal space, and we were both powerless to resist as our link reacted and dragged us together. Our minds clashed, and we were flung into mutual darkness.

***

"Sweet merciful mother of matrimony, what the heck was that?!"

I opened my eyes to find myself in... My bed?

"That... Could that have all been a dream?" I asked myself. "There's no way it could have lasted that long. It had to be-"

I sat up on my mattress—the one that most definitely only existed back at my home in the Human world—and looked around. I saw my drawers and dressers, my television, my couch, my desk and faithful computer, the window...

Wha?

The glass panels gave me a plain view of... Nothing. Just pitch blackness. There was no familiar suburban street outside. It wasn't as if it had been painted over; There was a literal void outside the window of my one room apartment.

What's going on?

I got off the bed and walked towards the computer. The lights in my place were on, bright as ever. If I was receiving power, that meant that I was still connected to the outside world in some way. Just as I moved to press the button on the machine, however, the screen came to life of its own accord. I leapt back from the suddenly brightly shining white display in surprise, staring disbelievingly. The speakers beside the monitor crackled with light static as they were turned on by some invisible force, and a mechanical voice came through.

"Hello, Joseph," it said.

"C- Casper?!"

"Must you insist on calling me that?" it asked irritatedly.

"What's going on? Why am I back home?" I asked, ignoring his annoyance.

"You're not back home. You're still stuck in your little corner at the party. Your awarenessour awarenesshowever, has been transported here, along with Twilight's. This is your personal mental space. It is the familiar place you imagine yourself in when most at ease. She has her own as well, and right now, the two of you have linked in such a way that your minds have joined, and so your innermost sanctums are now connected. And since you're next going to ask how this happened to begin with; the constant push and pull exerted by the two of you outside caused a spontaneous reaction when your wills conflicted on too many fronts simultaneously. When all commands had canceled each other out, what was left was the desire to return to your mind, and Twilight's desire to hold you to hers. There you'll find the similar intent, and so when the energies met, you were attracted to one another rapidly due to the force exerted by each party, the result of which was a merging of minds to fulfill the vaguely mutual goal. Sad to say, you pictured me as a sort of false intelligence, and so my form here is that which you see before you right now. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have used that 'Artificial Intelligence' analogy early on."

A simplistic picture of a sad face popped up to cover the otherwise plain white screen.

I looked around as I digested that information. Every aspect of my room, down to the last scratch on the computer desk and the almost empty container of salt on my kitchen counter, was precisely as I'd left it. And just as Casper had said, I felt far relaxed than I'd been in days—even more that I’d been before the whole fiasco had even started. I was homesick, and it turned out that I'd brought a piece of it with me when I left. I closed my eyes and breathed deep, enjoying the atmosphere.

My space... I wouldn't mind (God that pun was terrible) coming here more often.

The computer spoke up once more, "You could always just ask, you know. When it comes to altering your state of mind, I'm always here to assist."

Having Casper respond came as a slight surprise. I was used to having the voice respond to my thoughts because it existed solely in my head, but being in what felt like a real and physical space and thinking to myself without so much as opening my mouth, yet having him answer me as if I had done so was just the least bit bizarre.

"Wait," I said as I noticed that there was nothing but my completely familiar apartment and I, "If our minds are linked now, then where's Twilight?"

As if on cue, the door that was meant to lead out of the apartment gave a familiar creak as it was gingerly pushed open. I looked on in shock at what seemed an intrusion into my mind (Karma's a bitch, aint it?) but my indignation faded before it had a chance to form, when the one that had opened the door turned out to be none other than the only one who could have possibly been there to begin with.

Twilight stood in the doorway and stared at me with wide, confused eyes. Behind her, I was almost surprised to see a picture perfect replica of the Golden Oaks library. It made sense that it would be her own place of inner peace, seeing as it was where she was most in her element.

After a moment of silence in which we exchanged glances, she spoke. "So this is what a human home looks like?"

I giggled helplessly. There we were, trapped in our conjoined minds and completely cut off from the outside world because of a psychic conflict we'd been having, and in typical Twilight fashion, the first thing she would think to do was learn what she could about my mysterious background while she had the chance.

"Yes, Twilight," I answered as my mirth faded, "this is—or was—my home."

She remained at the entrance and looked around in fascination at all the objects that would seem strange and alien to pony kind. The fridge would have seemed a cupboard to her, and the computer would appear a miniature filing cabinet, but the glowing monitor and microwave and LED clock and whatever electronics she could lay eyes on—all would be new and intriguing. Curiously enough, she didn't make a move to inspect any further, not taking so much as one step into the room despite her clear urge to do so.

I saw no harm in allowing her a closer look at the technology, and actually wanted to see her reactions once I showed her how to use them. That's why was surprised by her hesitation.

"What're you waiting for?" I asked.

She gave me a reprimanding look. "Because it's rude to just waltz into someone's home, much less their minds. I'm not coming in without the owner's permission."

Twilight used 'Good Example'!

"It's not very effective." came the monotone reply from behind me.

Twilight tilted her head at the noise, looking towards Casper's physical representation with more interest she showed for anything else. She bit her lip as she resisted the urge to simply waltz in, which I emphasize that she was fully capable of doing.

"M- May I?" she asked.

"Nope." I grinned smugly.

Her ears fell in disappointment. "No? But why-"

"I don't need you acting all 'holier than thou' for me. If you want something, go for it. You don't have my verbal permission to enter my mind, but nothing's stopping you from doing so anyway. Why not just make use of that freedom?"

The concept of a sentient creature with the power to do something, but that would deny themselves the pleasure of doing so for no other reason than the fickle and highly subjective concept of 'ethicality' intrigued me. She had morals that she tried to adhere to, but she was also a thinking and feeling creature, meaning that she had the potential to abandon those morals if she truly desired to do so. I wanted to see just how hard of a push it would take for her to take that step, and so I dangled a metaphorical carrot before her hungry eyes.

She gulped, but stayed put and firmly replied, "Because it's not right. It was wrong for you to try invading my mind earlier, but me returning the favor won't change that. Two wrongs don't make a right, and I've learned too much about the importance of strength of character to just go against that now."

Righteous conviction. Cute, cliche, but I can appreciate the sentiment.

"Alright," I conceded with an impressed smile. "You can come in. Also, I apologize for the invasion of privacy earlier. I promise it was more a personal test of skill than anything, and that my goal was not to make you feel violated."

She doesn't need to know about what I was doing before I accidentally tried her. Ignorance is bliss, and it would be wrong to ruin her excitement now, right?

Twilight smiled gratefully and walked in.

"We need to find a way out of here," she informed me, though I didn't get the impression that she was in any rush to do so I watched her eagerly run between the unfamiliar gadgets, sparing each a glance or a prod to figure out what one did before moving on to the next. "This is my first time being unintentionally linked with somepon- someone, but I've read that the those involved in a disorganized joining of minds could go insane if they're allowed to stay connected for too long. Their memories would begin to merge together after some time, till all that's left is a combination of the originals that ends up being split between both bodies."

"Sounds pretty morbid," I stated flatly. "How do we get back to the waking world, then?"

"There needs to be a consensual attempt to break apart."

"Well then..." I trailed off.

I looked at her, and she looked at me, fidgeting in place as my memories of my world's artifacts tempted her.

There was obviously one thing we could agree on.

"Ten more minutes?"

"Ten more minutes."

The first thing she decided to inspect in detail was the computer, though what had her attention was the monitor.

"What is this?" she asked. "I've never seen anything quite like it. Is it hologram magic?"

"Yes, that's exactly it. Humans just prefer to theme their instruments differently than ponies," I said with a straight face.

Ponies did have electricity, and as far as I knew, they almost exclusively applied it in lighting and music, but the extent to which they'd developed technology that was capable of utilizing it was well behind human progression. In reality, there was no electricity or running water in the false room, but there would appear to be because that's what I was used to and expected. I didn't want a repeat of the night spent with Luna, not just because I wasn't eager for more narration, but because Twilight would undoubtedly become so interested in my race afterwards that she would be driven to learn more about them, which would mean asking me for details that I was doing my best to keep vague and open-ended, which would then lead to the whole awkward "You've got something to do with Discord and we can't trust you" deal.

It was far simpler to just pretend it was all magic.

She experimentally poked at the speakers with a hoof. "And what's this for? I thought I heard a noise coming from it just now."

"It's part of the hologram projector," I explained. "It allows sound to be incorporated with the scenes being displayed."

"Can I have a demonstration?" she obviously asked.

Cas, quick, run a non-human related clip or something. Don't say a word, that'd just lead to more questions.

I waved my hand before the screen to make a show of casting a trigger spell, and it flicked to a looping video of a cat running across space while crapping a rainbow. I groaned inwardly at the sight of the obnoxious creature. I was far from fond of that particular icon, and was sure that Casper had chosen precisely for that reason. Twilight seemed to love it though, and clapped her hooves for the show.

Once she'd had her fun enjoying the animation, she put her forelegs atop the desk and got as upright as she could manage so that she could get a closer look at the monitor. All the buttons were set along the side, so she failed to notice them. This was to my benefit as she soon accepted the moving pictures as being the extent of the device's ability, and said as much with her assessment.

"A hologram sequence tied to a sound projection sequence both activated by a single trigger spell," she mused. "It's creative, if a bit inefficient. Why's all the equipment so bulky? Wouldn't it make more sense to put the sound portion of the magic in the same object as the visual?"

I waved a hand again to signal the end of the video, and the screen faded to black.

"Twilight, you're a well read unicorn and all, but you've got a thing or two to learn about acoustics. Let's leave it at that."

She tilted her head curiously, but conceded. I next introduced her to the wonders of the microwave. There'd been no food in the fridge, but I was able to simply imagine up a frozen burrito or two, seeing as we were in my mind and all. She'd been curious as to its function, and so I was kind enough to let her do the honors of pressing the start button after I’d punched in a suitably long time. She watched with great interest as the ice melted and the food soon began to sizzle as it was cooked without any visible source of heat.

She'd decided to explain it as "A reinforced box with an isolated short range heating spell", because that's the first logical explanation a pony magician would arrive at for something as strange as a microwave.

"It has its uses," she continued, "I must say. It certainly seems safer than using a stove or open fire, and the inclusion of a digital timer? Ingenious! I could learn a thing or two from human inventions.."

"Indeed you could," I agreed as an idea came to mind. "Think of the fortune you'd make patenting and selling it in Equestria."

"What's a patent?" she asked, already walking towards my washing machine.

I stared at her, mind uncomprehending till I realized that there would have been no need for the invention of a patent to protect inventions, since, you know, ponies were good guys that would never plagiarize, and loved to share without hope for profit. Damn shame, really.

As continued to showcase device after device, we almost lost track of time.

And by that, I mean that I completely did, and so it was completely unexpected when Twilight suddenly stopped flitting around and sighed disappointedly.

"Well, it seems our time is up. Thanks for letting me look at all this. I would have shown you some of what I know, but there's nothing much that you’d find interesting, just a lot of facts and figures that could easily be learned in your own time in Ponyville."

I shrugged. "It's no big deal. You're an appreciative audience, so I don't think the time was wasted. Now how do we go about this consensual separation deal?"

"It's easy. You just need to withdraw into yourself, like you were trying to do when I caught you."

"Oh, heh, right." I chuckled nervously.

She headed for the still open door to her representation of the library. "I can't do that from within your mind though, so I'm going to close all connections to mine so that we can properly split. Once the door's shut, just try to isolate yourself and it should be straightforward from then."

Twilight entered her imaginary library once more and pulled the metaphorical door shut behind her, after which it promptly disappeared. Before I could begin trying to visualize what I was supposed to, though, it reappeared. This time, however, it remained closed.

The speakers crackled to life behind me again, "Damn, couldn't you have held on for a little longer? I barely got half of the information."

"What are you talking about?"

"I was in the process of copying over Twilight's memories into your own. There wasn't time to sort through and organize anything, so I just started pulling as much stuff as I could. She left the door open and unguarded, and her consciousness was here, so I just took advantage of the situation."

I crossed my arms and looked hard at the sentient machine.

"You mean to tell me that while I was trying to earn Twilight's trust, and upsetting my own inner sense of security by giving her access to my memories in an attempt to help foster that forming bond, you were already busy betraying her and stealing from her very mind?"

"Yes."

"Excellent. What did you find?"

“I'm not sure yet, though I managed to store most of the books from the lower section of the library. The books themselves are based off of real world counterparts in the corresponding locations, but the actual text has been slightly or significantly altered depending on Twilight's interpretation of it at the time of reading. I got somewhere around two hundred titles, any amount of which could be texts on magic, or the land's history, or even cooking. I'll need some time to analyze it all and figure out exactly what's what, but the fact of the matter is that you've profited from this incident. Once I'm done, you'll find your version of Twilight's library added as an extension to the apartment. It'll be mostly incomplete, but it's still something significant. You'll be able to check it out whenever you want."

"That's wonderful news. For now though, I'm thinking I should head back to the party before anyone finds it odd that I'm just standing stock still and staring into space like a psychopath."

"I wouldn't worry about that. Events perceived here are literally happening at the speed of thought, so what's been a relatively relaxed but interesting fifteen minutes for you has taken up no more than a second or two in real time."

"Well that saves some awkward explanations. Could you do me a favor and let me out of-"

***

"-here?"

The music was once again thumping, and the crowd of ponies had returned as numerous and vibrant as ever. My transition into the waking realm had been instantaneous, almost like blinking.

Well that was a close call turned beneficial. Now what do I do?

How am I supposed to know? Go so 'hi' to somepony?

Please, for the love of all things respectable, don't use that word again. These are peoplelittle furry people with manes and tails and the occasional spark of magic. They are 'someones', not 'someponies'.

Whatever you say. You're in Equestria. You've got to embrace the cute at some point.

I didn't want to risk any more mental escapades, so I figured I'd hit the punch bowl and drink till the sugar rush had me too excited to be care what anyone around me thought, then proceed to try my two left feet at dancing in spite of all my previous failures. I'd been beside the refreshments the entire time, so I didn't have to move far to load myself up on a mug of an impossibly pink juice whose flavor had been completely obliterated by the sheer amount of sugar dissolved into the liquid. I grimaced as I forced it down, already dreading the sleepless hours to come and the inevitable crash the following day. Before I could completely empty my first round though, there came the sound of a throat being cleared behind me. I turned to find Twilight, who had evidently left her circle of friends to venture across to my side of the room.

"Not one for partying, I take it?" she asked with a smirk.

I smiled unremorsefully. I’d been caught red handed, but, "I'd ask you the same. I’ve yet to see you so much as start a jig to the beat."

"Well whatever our differences, I can see we're similar in at least one regard. I've never been too keen on these types of social gatherings. Too noisy..."

"Too crowded. Too much dancing. Yeah, I know the feel."

Twilight shrugged. "Well, whether or not you like the atmosphere, it is in your honor. Technically, you could change its theme to whatever you want. You know, make the music more mellow, or start a karaoke contest... Something to make it more interesting than just a room full of ponies flinging themselves around."

That suggestion set the gears turning in my head. It was my party. If I didn't like the whole 'dancing in a dark room with strobe lights' getup, I had the power to change it purely by suggestion, since it was really my way or bust.

I had an idea, but I needed some help to get the ball rolling. Twilight definitely wouldn't approve of it, so I'd rely on another.

I turned to her. "Twilight, where is Pinkie Pie?"

The unicorn snorted. "Where isn't she?"

She then cupped a hoof to her mouth and called out, "Pinkie!"

Her voice was practically lost in the din, but that didn't stop the instantaneous response from behind me. There was a splash, and I spun around to find the Earth pony in question suddenly lounging in the large bowl of sugary punch.

I and several other ponies at the table set down our drinks immediately, deciding we'd had enough for the night.

"Yeah?" asked the dripping pink pony.

Twilight didn't even bother to comment on either her showing up out of thin air or her choice of seating.

"Joseph was looking for you," she said and pointed my way.

Pinkie's large blue eyes locked onto me. "Sup Jo?"

I shook off my confusion, hoping that I'd get used to her spontaneity in time, and told her, "I need some help to shake up this party. You in?"

"Sure!” she chirped, leaping out of the bowl and onto the floor. And by 'floor', I mean 'table top', of course. “What do ya have planned?"

"Sure! What do ya have planned?"

"How much food do you have stocked in the room?" I asked.

"Enough so that everypony will have leftovers. Why?"

I smiled devilishly and drummed my fingers together in a villainous manner. "Then there's enough to use for ammunition. Pinkie Pie, I want you to assist me in staging the largest food fight the residents Ponyville have ever witnessed!"

Her eyes grew wide in surprise, then wider in excitement, then wider still with maniacal glee as she processed my words. Twilight, on the other hand, had been listening in, and her jaw dropped to contrast with her friend's eyelids.

"That's how you're going to make this interesting?" she asked in disbelief. "No. No! That's a terrible-"

She didn't get to finish, as her face was garnished with yellowish cream from a custard pie that had been launched by a conspicuously extended pink hoof.

I chuckled, then snorted, then cackled aloud at the pie-smitten unicorn. Pinkie rolled around on the table in her own fit of giggles. Several ponies around us turned to see what the commotion was about, and soon joined in when they laid eyes on Twilight's creamy visage.

The now lavendar and whitish-yellow pony grit her teeth in irritation, then anger. The custard seemed to melt off her features as many of the cakes, pies and other baked goods lying on the table began to lift into the air, in the grip of a violet glow.

"All right then," she said through her teeth, "you can have your food fight. More than that; You can have a WAR!"

With that, she launched over a dozen assorted food items forward and into the crowd, which was quick to shift from laughter to shocked exclamations once the first sticky bun exploded on someone's fleeing flank. I ducked below the first barrage, but Pinkie collected a revenge cherry pie straight in the muzzle. She was flipped over backwards by the force of the impact and landed face-first in a pile of powdered donuts.

No worse for the wear, she rose with a wide grin and forelegs armed with sheathed donuts up to the elbows. Milling them about, she began her return assault to Twilight, who collected so many of the pastries to the noggin that she ended up looking like a pony mime. Those that missed or were dodged ending up clocking whatever ponies were in the surrounding crowd, which by that point had mostly stopped dancing and were either fast retreating or grabbing hold of their own share of food with which to vindicate their sullied clothing and dates.

Before long, there was food being flung left right and center across the entire room. The party had devolved into a sticky-sweet brawl, and that was exactly the kind of thing I could get into. After blinding Twilight with a well aimed muffin as she'd chased me down wielding several massive cubes of colorful jello, I'd given her the slip and spent some time darting between messy party guests. In the heat of it all, I'd glimpsed Rarity heading for the front door, escorting a jumpy Fluttershy and using her magic to deflect any projectiles that went their way. The music had stopped—whether it was because someone had turned it off or because the speakers had become clogged with stray cake and cream, I cannot say—and Cashmere was nowhere to be seen in the chaos that her living room had become.

There was no longer a dance party. All that remained was the unwavering law of food fighting; Paste or be pasted. I'd done my share of the former, but could not prevent the occasional strike to my once blue T-shirt. I'd ended up taking it off at some point and stashing it beneath the couch to spare myself the trouble of serious cleaning afterwards. At one point in my bare-backed rampage, I'd had the supreme pleasure of having a hot sauce-engorged muffin rocketed into my face, and I had failed to shut my eyes in time.

As I writhed on the ground in agony, making a mental note to never allow Pinkie to stock hot sauce at any future parties that I'd be involved in, I couldn't help but laugh inwardly at the beauty of the sheer chaos.

It was brilliant, mad fun.

Best party ever?

It's my only party ever, but let's go with that.

After dusting myself off and succeeding only in smearing chocolate over my chest, I leapt back into the fray to make the most of my evening.

End of Chapter 8

First week of exams are done. I have been writing for the past week, but I have NOT been able to write one full chapter in that time. In other words... One chapter off my buffer list. One left. I need to get my act together. ;_;

As far as character progression goes, how's Joseph shaping up for you guys? Is he every bit the semi-bi-polar, cynical, self-absorbed, uncaring, insensitive jerk I pictured him to be? :D

New chapter coming in a week. COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK ARE APPRECIATED IN THE MEANWHILE.

Till then, Cheers! :3