The Maker

by kovabomb

First published

Creation is a work of art. But what if the creation could contact the creator?

Suppose for a moment that a person created a beautiful work of art that went on to inspire many hundreds of thousands. Then suppose that that work of art took on a life of its own, drawing on the praise and popularity of the masses. Then suppose that that work of art somehow realized that something was watching it from beyond and somehow made contact with its creator!

What lies on the other side of the page, the canvas, or the screen? Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie are about to find out.

"Somepony's watching me."

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The world is a wonderful and beautiful place. Its picturesque wonders have inspired many a work of art, be it painting, song, or written page. Interestingly, there are times that nature’s scenes appear taken from the pages of a storybook, or to have leapt from the painter’s canvas or the bard’s lyric. Indeed, one could entertain the thought that the two inspire each other in a never-ending cycle of creation, a thought that has further tickled the minds of philosophers and thinkers across time.

It was such a pictorial scene that framed the community of Ponyville one spring day. The Sun shone high in the noontime sky as life and color filled the avenues and byways of the Equestrian town. Ponies of all kinds, be they Unicorn, Pegasus, or Earth Pony, could be found trotting the streets, caring for foals, tending to shops, all adding to the life that filled the neighborhood.

There was one pony that was particularly busy that day, cantering from place to place with packs on her back and a list close at hoof. But though she went about her errands with purpose, she was very much aware of the vibrancy around her and made a point to appreciate as much of it as she could as she passed. It was a lesson that this Alicorn Princess, one Twilight Sparkle by name, had learned time and again during her vivid life in Ponyville.

As Twilight left the Town Hall, she scratched a satisfied checkmark next to “Appointment with the Mayor,” then gave her to-do-list one last critical scan. Far be it from the studious Alicorn to miss anything on a checklist of any kind. Finding a mark next to each listed task, Twilight gave a contented sigh and, using her magic, stowed the list and her feather pen away in her saddlebags. With all her errands complete, the mare turned down the street and began a leisurely trot back to The Castle of Friendship; her home.

As she made her way through the avenues, Twilight’s now unoccupied mind took in the full myriad of sights, sounds, and smells that permeated the town’s busy streets. Colts playing an animated game of ball in the alley, barkers and shopkeepers tending to their work and wares, fruits and vegetables enticing customers with their scent and color, the chime of the Ponyville clock tower; all these things and their subtle beauties were not lost on Ponyville’s lavender localite.

With a small sigh, Twilight recalled the time when she wouldn’t have given a second thought to her surroundings, except when it directly involved her predetermined task or her studies. As a young Unicorn, it had been a common sight to see the mare with her muzzle buried in a book, almost completely oblivious to the ponies around her. What had finally managed to pull her from her studies? Her unexpected yet blissful discovery of true friendship. Through the fires of adversity and necessity, Twilight Sparkle had forged a powerful bond between herself and five other mares who came together to defeat a powerful threat to their homeland, a bond that was cemented, personified even, by the magical relics that she and her friends came to wield that day: the Elements of Harmony.

From that time on, the six friends had continued to grow and learn from each other, overcoming their fears and differences, learning valuable lessons about friendship, one another, and themselves. With every challenge they faced, great or small, they grew closer together and the magical bond they shared grew stronger. Until one day, that bond came to fruition and Twilight ascended to take her place as a Princess of Equestria. The recollections of that fateful event brought a smile to Twilight’s face.

Though she had left her life as a Unicorn and a student behind, she was by no means estranged from the friends she had made. Nowadays Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie were practically inseparable and their names were becoming known all across Equestria. Sharing thrones together in Twilight’s castle, they had traveled to many places, met many new ponies and creatures, healed some old wounds, and build new friendships. And while the pomp and circumstance of Twilight’s royal title sometimes came to bear, their fame had thus far remained rather placid in nature. It was a fact Twilight was grateful for. She didn’t share Rainbow’s thirst for the spotlight, nor Rarity’s socialite hunger.

While no longer the recluse she had been, Twilight still enjoyed the quiet life of study and the company of her close friends, something Ponyville provided plentifully. True, the frontier community saw its share of excitement and Twilight had her royal duties to perform, but she found it a refreshing balance to the usual calmness that prevailed. Indeed, Twilight could safely say that Ponyville had become a true home to her and Spike; it was here her heart had found its roots, knit together with those of her friends.

As chance would have it, while Twilight was caught up in her thoughts of friendship, she passed the workplace and domicile of Pinkie Pie, the happiest and most eccentric of her inner circle. While not planning a detour, Twilight hoped that she would see the pink party pony and offer her a greeting. And sure enough, the princess did spot her, sitting at one of the outdoor tables with a plate of pastries. It was about the lunch hour for the confectioner after all. Yet, something was off about this fairly common sight. Where a smile and bright eyes almost always could be found, there sat a forlorn and distant expression. It was the sad face of a pining lover.

Twilight paused for a moment, analyzing this unusual scene. To her knowledge, there was no current stallion friend of Pinkie’s who was close enough to her to bring such a look of despondency to the pink earth pony, though it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. But if lover’s lament wasn’t the answer, what was it? This Twilight knew: if something could get Pinkie Pie into such a funk, it didn’t bode well for anypony. The Alicorn decided that some cheering up was in order, both for Pinkie’s sake and the good of the rest of pony kind. With some trepidation, Twilight made her approach.

“Hey Pinkie,” Twilight said, mustering as much good humor as she could.

Pinkie didn’t respond. Her expression remained unchanged, her eyes staring out into space. Twilight grimaced inwardly. Was it that bad? A quick glance confirmed that Pinkie’s mane retained its usual frizz and brightness, the absence of which would indicate true emotional trauma.

“Uh, Pinkie? Hello?” Twilight raised a foreleg and waved it in front of her friend’s face. With a start, Pinkie turned and blinked.

“Oh,” Pinkie exclaimed, “Hi Twilight. I didn’t see you there.”

“Ah-ha,” Twilight nodded.

Pinkie’s expression had brightened significantly, but the melancholy was still there. Twilight knew she would need to choose her words carefully.

“Pinkie,” Twilight began, “I was passing by just now and I couldn’t help but notice that you looked a bit… distracted.”

Pinkie’s face fell and she heaved a heavy sigh. “Yeah, I guess I am a little distracted,” she said as she popped a cupcake into her mouth. She’d only chewed once when her face twisted with unpleasant surprise. She continued to chew, focusing on the taste in her mouth, and then swallowed.

“I think it’s even gotten into my baking!” Pinkie cried. “Here, taste this.”

The baker pushed a cupcake toward the surprised Alicorn. Knowing better than to question Pinkie’s judgment in sweets, Twilight took a magical hold of the proffered treat and tasted it. She chewed critically, comparing the sensations of her tongue to her memories of Pinkie’s usual vanilla cupcakes. After a moment, she swallowed, meeting Pinkie’s waiting eyes.

“You know, I think you’re right.” Twilight hesitated a moment, trying to phrase her next sentence tactfully. “I mean, don’t misunderstand, it still tastes good, just not... as good.”

A determined look came to Pinkie’s eyes. “Well, that settles it,” she declared. “If my distractedness has gotten into my baking then something must be done about it!”

“What are you going to do?” Twilight asked warily. She never could nail down how Pinkie could shift from one mood to the next so fast, though she did have her theories. That volatile personality also made traversing Pinkie’s personal problems hazardous.

Pinkie reared up, raised a hoof into the air, opened her mouth,… and paused. She held that position a moment, her eyes shifting in their search for an answer. Failing to find one, the pink pony sank to her haunches and frowned.

“You know,” she said after another moment of thought, “I don’t know.”

Twilight set her bags down beside the table and took a seat across from her friend. “Would you like to talk about it?” she asked.

Pinkie’s expression brightened again as she returned to her own seat. “Yes, Twilight, I would. I always feel better after I talk to one of my friends, and you are just about the bestest friend a friend could want.”

Twilight smiled. She had won another small victory in weathering the random tides that made up Pinkie’s personality. That random energy also had a way of infecting those around the free-spirited pony, and Twilight was happy to see its positive side at the surface again.

“So,” Twilight asked confidently, “what is it that’s got you so preoccupied?”

Pinkie’s face grew serious and she stated, very matter-o-factually, “It’s my Pinkie Sense.”

A world of alarm bells rang out in Twilight’s mind, a slight twitch tickling her eye. Twilight had lots of experience with the inexplicably precise predictions of the Pinkie Sense. Usually, when Twilight was around to witness Pinkie’s sudden and involuntary feelings and impulses, it involved something unexpected happening, mostly to her and mostly it came crashing down on her head. Still, though she didn’t understand it (and likely never would), she had come to trust it and to heed Pinkie’s warnings. Those who ignored it often ended up in varying degrees of pain.

“Your… Pinkie Sense?” Twilight uneasily asked.

“Yeah, my Pinkie Sense.”

“Um…, dare I ask, what sense could possibly get you so upset?” Twilight steeled herself for the answer. Whatever it was it had to be quite a doozy.

“Oh, no, no, no, no, Twilight,” Pinkie assured her shaken friend. “It’s not something I’ve sensed, it’s something I haven’t sensed.”

Twilight was taken aback, not quite comprehending her friend’s words. “Something you haven’t sensed?” she finally managed, a mix of fear, relief, and curiosity swirling in her heart.

“Yeah, something I haven’t felt for a long time,” Pinkie said, a distant look coming to her eye. “A warm-and-fuzzy tummy.”

Twilight was intrigued. Though she still felt apprehensive, she was genuinely curious to know more. “I don’t think you’ve ever told me about that one,” she said. “What does it mean?” What could be so interesting and common to the party pony that going without it for so long could sink her into depression?

“It means that somepony is watching me,” Pinkie said.

Twilight blinked, her thought process jamming momentarily before whirring into overdrive. “Umm, Pinkie, how is somepony spying on you something to be missed?!” she asked incredulously.

“Oh no, silly filly,” Pinkie laughed, a smile once again gracing her muzzle. “Don’t you remember? Itchy Neck means somepony mean is spying on me. Warm-and-Fuzzy Tummy means somepony nice is watching me.”

“A nice somepony… is watching you?”


Twilight didn’t understand. More than anything, she was concerned.

“Why? Why would somepony be watching you?” Twilight pressed. She could think of several reasons, not all of them good. “And do you know who this somepony is?” Where would he be watching from? What motivation or intention could he have? Was he a stalker? A secret admirer? There were so many questions running through the troubled mare’s mind, too many to ask all at once but questions that still needed answering all the same.

“Nope. I don’t know who they are or why they’re watching,” Pinkie simply said. “I just know that when they’re watching, they’re having just as much fun as I am and they have my best interest at heart. It's like I'm feeling those good feelings right along with them, almost like a party! A party where you can't see or hear anypony else but you know they're right there with you.” There was a confidence in Pinkie’s voice and expression that diffused some of Twilight’s worries. Pinkie really didn’t feel threatened by… whoever her watcher was. “They want to see me learn and succeed,” she continued. “That’s how I know they’re nice.”

A light went on in the lavender mare’s mind. “You said ‘they’ just now,” Twilight interjected. “Is there more than one somepony?”

“Now that you mention it,” Pinkie mused, “I guess so. It feels more right to say ‘they’ than ‘he’ or ‘she.’ That’s kind of funny, actually. I might have had an entire audience watching me! How cool is that!? My own life audience! If I just knew where they'd scampered off to.”

So many questions. So many implications. Twilight mentally cleared her schedule. Somehow, this seemed too important to pass up.

“Pinkie, could you come with me to the castle?” Twilight asked as she strapped on her saddlebags.

“Sure, Twilight,” Pinkie replied, rising to her hooves. “What for?”

“I think this calls for some research.”

"A Warm-and-Fuzzy Tummy"

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Dear Princess Celestia and Princess Luna,

As much as I’d like this to be a regular update or a simple hello, I’m writing to you regarding a discovery that is both exciting and disturbing.

You are well acquainted with my friend Pinkie Pie, as well as her lighthearted personality and many of her quirks. You may recall that she has an uncanny ability to predict imminent events through sudden twitches and sensations, something she calls “The Pinkie Sense.” Examples of this include a pinchy knee (something scary is about to happen), a twitchy tail (something is about to fall), and a wide range of other sensations and combinations. Though I still don’t understand how it works or why, I’ve seen it in action and have come to trust it. It is through Pinkie’s ability, a close examination of the time I’ve spent in Ponyville, and my own intuition that we have come to our conclusions.

I know it doesn’t sound very scientific, but it feels right so just hear me out.

In discussion with Pinkie, we discovered that the day I first arrived in Ponyville, Pinkie began feeling a sensation she’d never felt before: a “warm-and-fuzzy tummy”. It was subtle, almost unnoticeable, but Pinkie knew that it had something to do with her Pinkie Sense. Since I always seemed to be around her when she felt it, she first thought that it meant I was somewhere nearby. But as time passed, she concluded that that wasn’t the case. She found it would manifest most often when she or any of her close friends (specifically Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and I), was going through some kind of major learning experience. It seems that, as a general rule of hoof, if an event resulted in a report on friendship or an entry in our friendship journal, Pinkie would experience the warm-and-fuzzy tummy during the event.

However, learning a lesson on friendship is not what Pinkie came to associate the warm-and-fuzzy tummy with. It means that, in her own words, “somepony nice is watching [her].” This conclusion came from the fact that whenever she felt it, she would also get a vague sense that somepony, perhaps a whole group, was watching her actions with a vested interest in her well-being and success. Though the sensation wasn’t specific enough to identify who or what these creatures were, or where they hail from, it did give a sense of what they were feeling at that moment. Pinkie reports that the “vibes” she got from them were comparable to her own and that they ran a full range of emotions. At times these feelings would be so strong, she reports getting a distinct idea of the viewers’ perspective and going so far as to address them directly, almost like they were her own personal audience, even though to anypony else it would appear that she was speaking to nopony at all.

All through these events, she never felt compelled to tell anypony about these watchers, her reasoning being that they never felt threatening to her and that she didn’t want to violate what she felt was a private relationship with these spectators. She describes the “warm-and-fuzzy tummy” like a security blanket or a favorite toy you don’t get rid of because of its personal significance. No need to tell anypony about something they likely wouldn’t understand, she thought.

She likely never would have told anypony about it, if the warm-and-fuzzy tummy hadn’t inexplicably stopped after the return and defeat of Tirek.

Pinkie reports that, while the feeling came intermittently, it would never be more than a few weeks between episodes, a couple of moons at most. They were most frequent during the spring and summer, with occasional occurrences during the fall and winter, but they always came. So when the feeling failed to manifest, Pinkie began to worry. She had grown so used to the feeling that her life felt empty without it. After moons of waiting, the emptiness was driving her to distraction, so much so that it drew my concern and lead to our mutual discoveries.

Celestia, Luna, the implications of this are incredible! If all these observations are to be taken as fact (which I know is a stretch by any scientific view), then some entity, perhaps an entire group of entities, has been but is not currently observing Equestria from someplace beyond normal pony perceptions. They appear to have taken special interest in my friends and I, tracking our growth and bearing silent and affable witness to our accomplishments. I speculate they must have some level of omniscience, since they could not have been observing the right place at the right time otherwise. And if they are omniscient, then we must also consider the possibility of omnipotence!

It will take some time to compile all of my notes on the subject, but I expect you will want to see them as soon as I do. In the meantime, I ask for your wisdom and guidance. Have either of you sensed any foreign presence in Equestria in the last few years? Do you know of anything or anyone that could behave in this manner or wield such a level of power? Most importantly, what do you think we should do about it?

Under Pinkie Promise, both Pinkie and I will keep our observations to ourselves until we know your thoughts on the matter, though I think the rest of The Six and Princess Cadence should be informed as well. I know you trust my judgment and I feel that, as Equestria’s leaders and protectors, we must learn all we can and prepare for whatever truths we uncover. We anxiously await your response.

Your Fellow Princess, your Friend,

Twilight Sparkle

Pinkie Pie stood at the counter in Sugar Cube Corner, frosting in hoof, decorating her latest batch of confections. She hummed a simple happy tune to herself, her mind drifting over the events of the last few weeks. Her talks with Twilight had lead to what she thought were some awesome discoveries: It was entirely possible that a whole bunch of possible friends had been watching her and her friends ever since Twilight came to Ponyville. Pinkie still didn’t know who they were or why they had been watching or why they didn’t just introduce themselves, but she knew for sure that they were nice.

So much nicer that that Itchy-Neck-Pony she had picked up on a few times over the last few moons, but now she knew who that somepony had been and that she was trying to be a friend now.

Twilight had written a letter to the other Princesses, telling Celestia and Luna about what they had discovered and asking what they thought about it. They had responded very quickly, saying that even they didn’t know of anything quite like what Pinkie had described. Celestia and Luna had instructed Twilight to inform the rest of their friends about what they had learned, but that each of them would be under Pinkie Pie Promise not to tell anypony else, unless all the Princesses said otherwise. They also asked Pinkie to be on the alert for any signs that The Observers were back and to tell Twilight about it as soon as she felt them again, to which Pinkie had enthusiastically agreed. She, more than anypony else, wanted to know when her audience came back. Maybe even meet them.

It had done wonders for her mood to talk about them with Twilight and get her worries off her chest. Her baking was almost back to normal. Still a trace of distractedness here and there, but nothing a little extra frosting couldn’t cover.

Pinkie dabbed the last few designs onto her cupcakes, then set aside her baking tools and made to put the tray into the front counter display. Then, with a clatter, the tray fell to the ground. Pinkie’s eyes widened. A huge smile formed on her muzzle, stretching from ear to ear. Ecstatic giggles bubbled up from her barrel.

There it was: A Warm-And-Fuzzy Tummy.

“Helloooooo Everybody!!!”

In a flash of Pink, the party pony was gone.

In a realm beyond Equestria, a creature sat with a bewildered expression on its face. In one hand was what looked like a featherless, blunt pen, frozen above an apparent writing or drawing surface. Its eyes were fixed on the place where a pink Earth Pony had just disappeared. After a spell of palpable silence, the creature finally found its voice.

"What just happened?"

"Why are you scared?"

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“Yes Spike?” The lavender mare turned from her work to regard her draconian assistant.

“Here’s the last box for you,” Spike said, hefting a large cardboard container in his claws as he walked through the door of the new bedroom.

“Thank you, Spike,” Twilight said. Her lavender magic lifted the box from Spike’s grasp and the top was popped open. Twilight peered in, assessing its contents to determine where they would need to be placed. “Ah! Starlight’s books and papers. You know where those go, right?”

“Yep!” Spike replied, waddling over to the currently empty bookshelf where Twilight set down the box. He got to work placing the literature on the shelves, sorting them with practiced skill. After cleaning up so many crash study sessions, it was almost an instinct for him now.

Twilight smiled and turned back to her own task of sorting and putting away what few personal effects Starlight Glimmer had brought with her. There really wasn’t all that much. Starlight had lived a very minimalist life during her time as an iron-hoofed dictator, even more so during her time plotting revenge for being deposed. Were it not for the fact that the citizens of Starlight’s town had boxed up and stored their former leader’s things rather than throwing them out, the repentant time-breaker likely wouldn’t have had anything to her name at all.

The former antagonist was currently out and about Ponyville with Rarity and Fluttershy, trying to find a suitable bed and desk for her new room in Friendship Castle. While a little timid at first to the idea of having a “Lady’s Day” out shopping, Rarity had insisted that it was a prime opportunity to get to know ponies and the town better and help put Starlight at ease in her new home. That, and the fact that Starlight had not had a bed to call her own for quite some time and had even resorted to sleeping outdoors for the past few moons had appalled the fashionista so badly that she wouldn’t rest until Starlight had something comfortable to lay her head on.

It still staggered the young princess’s mind. That such a hardened and belligerently determined mare like Starlight had turned from her ways and was now her own personal student and newest friend. It was incredible to think that she, a comparatively young and new Alicorn, was so quickly assuming the same role her own mentor held. To say that Twilight’s life had been a bit of a whirlwind was an understatement, but it had all turned out well in the end.

Of course, there was still that one lingering nag in her mind. The events of the last few days had not just saved Equestria, but had also served as a diversion from her research on The Observers. In truth, Twilight was almost thankful that something new had drawn her attention. Almost every spare moment of her free time had been taken up by her studies. Her thoughts leading up to her encounter with Starlight had been troubled, even paranoid. The realization of being watched by unknown and unseen beings of untold power and intent could definitely do that to a pony. It didn’t help that, despite all the research and postulating Twilight had done, she still knew precious little of the true nature of The Observers.

However, for now, Twilight was content to sort, put away, and relax a bit. As Spike had emphatically assured her, she had done all she could with what she had. More answers would come with time.


Twilight jumped at the sudden rapid report at the castle’s door. Skillfully, she restrained herself from dropping the items she held in her magic and set them back in their box. She then went to answer the insistent knocking.

Spike followed after her, also drawn by the sudden commotion. “Who could that be?” he asked as Twilight neared the door. Twilight shrugged and took a telekinetic hold on the door handle.


The lavender mare was swept from her hooves by a barrage of pink the moment the door came open. She found herself on her back, dazed from the sudden impact. She quickly gathered her wits and looked up into a face-full of pink fur and frizzy mane. Standing over her with ecstatic blue eyes was the living sugar rush that was Pinkie Pie, a stream of nonsensical gibberish tumbling from her lips.


“Pinkie! Stop!” Twilight plugged the verbal torrent with her hoof, looking her animated friend in the eye. Dutifully, Pinkie paused and returned Twilight’s gaze. “First of all, you’ll need to slow down if you want me to understand anything you’re saying,” Twilight said calmly. “Second of all, what in the name of all things Equestrian has you so excited?”

Twilight removed her hoof slowly, allowing Pinkie Pie a moment to calm herself (as much as that was possible). Then, with a deep breath, Pinkie pushed her nose to Twilight’s and spoke very deliberately.

“Three words, Twilight: Warm! And! Fuzzy!” she said.

“Warm and fuzzy?” Twilight asked in confusion. “Pinkie, what is that even suppose to…” The princess stopped, her eyes going wide as the realization struck. “Wait; warm and fuzzy? As in: warm-and-fuzzy tummy? As in: Pinkie Sense Warm-And-Fuzzy Tummy?”

“Mm-hmm!” Pinkie nodded vigorously.

Twilight’s heart was pounding out of her chest. “You felt it?!” she asked urgently.

“Not felt; feel!” Pinkie chirped.

Twilight’s breath caught in her throat. “You’re feeling it right now?” she breathed.


“As in: Right Now, right now?”


“As in:…” Twilight was thunderstruck! “The Observers are watching us again? Right Now?!”

“Ding, Ding, Ding! Give the mare a prize!” Pinkie proclaimed.

For the briefest of moments, eternity passed. Then all Tartarus broke loose.


Twilight exploded from the floor, tossing Pinkie Pie in a heap against the opposite wall.

“What! What!” Spike yelped, his eyes wild and his arms shielding his head.

“The letter to Princess Celestia sealed with yellow wax. Send it! Now!!!” The frazzled pony cried with a stamp of her hoof. “There is no time to waste!” Then, in a flash of magic, she vanished, a muffled crack upstairs announcing her appearance in the castle laboratory.

Spike immediately snapped to attention. “Right away!” he declared. He ran across the entrance hall to an alcove table as Pinkie Pie picked herself up off the floor. He opened the drawer which contained a set of pre-written letters, each sealed with a different colored wax. Similar sets had been stashed in the library, Twilight’s room, and in other convenient places around the castle in such a fashion that would make Pinkie Pie proud. He seized a roll of parchment sealed in yellow, drew a deep breath and blew out. His magical green fire consumed the role and the resulting cloud of energy shot from the castle, speeding on its way toward a mountainside city in the distance.

The city of Canterlot, the capital of Equestria and the home of the Royal Pony Sisters, stood gleaming and resplendent high upon its mountainside. The morning’s scheduled rain had washed the stone of the city clean, leaving the white and gold of the ancient buildings with a special luster and a freshness to the air.

Within the walls of Canterlot Castle, sitting upon her throne, Princess Celestia, Immortal Alicorn, Regent of the Sun, and Co-ruler of Equestria enjoyed a light tea before returning to the duties that attended the Solar Court. The morning had been busy to say the least; meetings with the royal cabinet members, regents and emissaries to treat with, new edicts to read, edit, and sign, all while making time for the young ponies who came seeking an audience with her.

Though the bothersome royal protocol often hindered such encounters, Celestia desired that no pony should feel unwelcome in her presence. And indeed, those who came to know her never did. Be they old or young she knew them all as her little ponies and loved them all as a mother loves her children. It was the source of both her greatest joy and her greatest pain: watching them succeed and fail, help and hurt, live and die. Yes, she felt herself a mother to her ponies and wished to shelter and protect them, but she also knew that they couldn’t learn and truly be happy without both the bitter and the sweet.

Thus it often was that she knew of the trials facing those she loved, yet would stand by and let them work through it, refusing to deprive them of the lessons they would never learn otherwise. She would advise, guide, and direct, but it was only in the direst need, when all else had failed, that she would intervene directly. And even then, there were sometimes forces and magics greater even than her own that came into play; forces no one pony, not even she herself, could truly wield alone.

It happened that an example of this occupied her thoughts at that moment. She was pondering the growth of her former apprentice, Twilight Sparkle, and the remarkable bond that the young Alicorn shared with her friends in Ponyville. Through that bond, they had realized the full potential of the Elements of Harmony and overcome many obstacles and opponents. They had purified Nightmare Moon, defeated and befriended Discord, conquered Tirek, and saved the very future of Equestria, just to name a few.

It was both an irony and blessing, in Celestia’s mind, that the greatest and most powerful mystic force then known in Equestria had ultimately been taken up, not by its rulers, but by its citizens. That blessing had born fruit in the six mares and one dragon who now shared thrones of friendship and leadership in Ponyville. It was a sign to her that her little ponies were that much closer to what she foresaw they would ultimately become.

Celestia’s musings were cut short by the sudden appearance of a roll of parchment. Being borne in magical dragon flame, she knew instantly who it was from. Celestia smiled. She had been expecting an update from Twilight on how well her new personal student was settling in. It was such a treat to see how quickly her newest peer was progressing. But as she made to open the scroll, she noticed the seal. The wax was very dry and was cracked in places, indicating that it had been made some time ago. Additionally, it wasn’t the usual red wax of Twilight’s letters, but was instead a distinct and urgent yellow.

Her curiosity piqued and a small stone in her gut, Celestia unfurled the letter and read this short message:

Dear Princess Celestia,

This letter is to inform you and Princess Luna that The Observers have returned and that I am currently investigating the matter. Updates will be forthcoming.

Your Fellow Princess,

Twilight Sparkle

A crash was heard as a tea cup fell to the floor of the throne room.

“Guards!” Celestia barked. The sentinels beside the throne and at the door snapped to attention. “Find Princess Luna and tell her to meet me in Canterlot Tower, at once!”

“Yes, Your Highness!” The watch at the door about-faced and raced down the adjoining corridor, followed closely by the throne’s guards.

With a flash of her horn, Princess Celestia vanished from the dais and reappeared in the stain-glass and history steeped hall of Canterlot Tower, the resting place of many of Equestria’s most valuable and magical treasures. With a regal, yet short command, she dismissed the guards. Then, finding herself alone for the moment, she closed her eyes and opened her mind.

True, the yoke of protecting Equestria may have extended to include others, but it still rested squarely upon Celestia’s withers, the regalia about her neck a symbolic testament of that fact. She didn’t know who or what these Observers were or what they intended for her kingdom. She didn’t even know what they were capable of or if she could match them. But if they proved to be a threat, she would not be caught unawares and she would do all in her power to defend her children.

Thus, she reached out with her senses and magic, searching for something, anything that could give her an idea of the presence that looked down on them.

“I know you’re out there somewhere,” the Sun Mare said quietly, her awareness brushing the very fabric of reality. “Where are you, and what do you want?”

High in Friendship Castle, among the crystalline limbs and walls that made up the magical structure, the equipment of a laboratory hummed. Within this laboratory sat two equines and one dragon, each sharing a common goal: find out who was watching them and why. One pony was sitting quite happily with a large, brightly lit contraption on her head and her forelegs strapped into a large device, both of which were connected to a scanning machine that was monitoring her vital signs and brain activity. The other pony checked over the equipment one last time before taking a seat across from her friend, pad and quill close at hoof.

“OK, Pinkie Pie,” Twilight Sparkle said, marking the date and time on her pad, “Let’s get to the bottom of this!”

"Okey-dokey-lokey!" came the exuberant reply from the wired-up pony. “I really want to meet these guys!”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Spike, keep a close eye on that monitor and take down any strange readings. Now, Pinkie,” Twilight said, “When did you start feeling the Warm-and-Fuzzy Tummy today?”

“About fifteen minutes ago,” Pinkie replied. “I was just finishing some cupcakes…. Oh no, my cupcakes!” Pinkie cried. “They must have gone all over the floor!”

“Focus, Pinkie!” Twilight chided. “We can worry about that later. Now, you were finishing your cupcakes when….”

“Oh, right! I was finishing my cupcakes when, Boom; I felt a warm-and-fuzzy tummy complete with major vibes!”

“And what kind of ‘vibes’ were you getting?” Twilight asked, her quill scratching away.

Pinkie’s brow creased in thought as she recalled the moment. “Happy and excited, like they were getting ready to do something they loved.”

This comment sparked several tangential ideas in the researcher’s mind, but she shelved them and pressed on with the questions. “And what are you feeling now?”

Pinkie didn’t answer right away. After a moment of inner searching, she finally said “I’m not getting anything right now.”

Twilight’s eye twitched and her quill spattered to a halt. She didn’t want to believe it. All this time and all this preparation and the feeling just slips away? Right now? Of all times!? “You mean the feeling’s gone?” Twilight asked, trying to keep the strain out of her voice.

“No, no, no, no, the warm-and-fuzzy is still there,” Pinkie assured, “but I’m not getting any vibes at the moment.”

Twilight’s internal stress valve let off a sigh of relief. They were still in business. She hoped. “And why aren’t you feeling any emotions from them right now?”

“Well, it’s almost like they’re watching, but not watching right here right now,” Pinkie explained. “You know, like when you’re reading a book or baking a cake, but step away for a moment to do something real quick? You’re still reading or baking, but not at the same time.”

Twilight struggled with the idea for a moment. “I’m not sure I follow, Pinkie. How could they be watching but not watching…”

“Wait, wait, wait!!!” Pinkie shouted. “Vibes! I’ve got the vibes again! They’re back!”

“We got a big jump on the graph, Twilight,” Spike reported from the monitor.

“Oh good!” Twilight chirped. “Now we’ve got something. What are you feeling, Pinkie?” the eager pony pressed, her quill hovering over the page.

Pinkie paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts. As she did, a confused look came to her face. “Surprise, shock, a hint of excitement and… fear?”

Twilight paused. She wasn’t expecting that. Why would an omniscient and presumably omnipotent being be surprised, shocked, or afraid? “Why would they be scared?” she asked to no pony in particular.

“I don’t know,” Pinkie answered. She then turned her head toward the wall, a quizzical look in her eye. “Why are you scared?” she asked.

A creature sat in a chair, its wide eyes glued in disbelief to a screen sitting on a desk in front of it. On that screen sat the image of two ponies and a dragon in a laboratory. One pony had a lavender coat and held a pad and quill pen in its Alicorn magic. The second pony had a pink coat and a frizzy mane and tail. She was attached to some kind of monitoring device which chugged away as it processed. She was also looking the stunned creature straight in the eye. Her question, which had been clearly audible through the screen’s speakers, hung in the air.

“Are… are you talking… to me?!” it asked.

"What Gives?!"

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This had to be a prank. There was no way that this was really happening, the creature reasoned. It was just some practical joke that Tim had decided to play. Or maybe even Chris. Or perhaps both of them were in on the gag. It was just like them to pull something like this. Wasn’t it?

Yet, somehow, the images on the screen were defying the creature’s logic.

“Why am I scared?” the image of Twilight Sparkle asked. Whoever did this voice was really good. It was a dead ringer for Tara Strong. Maybe they got her in on the prank too.

“No, not you, Twilight,” the image of Pinkie Pie responded, with a voice exactly like Andrea Libman’s. The image slipped a hoof out of its strap and pointed right at the screen. “Why are they scared?”

Again, the creature was shocked. The couldn’t-possibly-be-real Pinkie Pie was pointing right at her! Could Pinkie see out of the screen? No, that would be impossible. Wasn’t it?

The Twilight image briefly glanced in the direction the encouraging hoof was pointing. “Who?” the Twilight image asked the Pinkie image.

“Them!” the Pinkie image urged, jabbing its hoof in emphasis.

The Twilight image turned to the screen again, a confused look on its face. It turned back toward the Pinkie image, then back at the screen. As it did, comprehension dawned in its expression.

The creature had to admit that this animation was beautiful. It must have taken weeks to do it. In fact, it looked much too good for a prank video. It was too fluid. Too natural. Too refined. Everything in the scene looked alive, somehow.

“Wait! You mean…” the Twilight image said, turning back toward Pinkie, a hoof lifted in the screen’s direction. The Pinkie image nodded, continuing to point. The Twilight image turned back toward the screen, a look of wonder on its face. Slowly, it started to approach.

The creature seized the featherless pen it had set aside and drew it across the pad on the desktop. On the screen an arrow icon followed her hand’s motion, tracking over the images in the window. It hovered over the image of Twilight and the creature gave a sharp tap with the pen. Nothing happened. The creature tapped again. Still nothing. The Twilight image was still advancing toward her.

This was impossible! Why were the character rigs still not appearing? They hadn’t been since the creature had first opened the project. She checked a bar across the bottom of the window labeled “timeline.” No keyframes, no layers, no soundtrack, no nothing. It was empty and unresponsive. Just as it had been since she had first seen the Pinkie image zip out of the shot on its own accord. Nothing should be in the window, and yet there was. And so far nothing, save the movement of the apparent “camera” in the scene, was responding to her inputs. She had no control!


The creature froze. Her eyes met that of the inquisitive mare staring out of the screen at her; the eyes of the mare that had just addressed her.

“Umm, is somepony there?”

Spike and Pinkie looked on as Twilight spoke. Spike was confused, yet optimistic. Pinkie was confident and excited. In their own ways, they both hoped that all the worry and preparation of the last few weeks had paid off. Yet it couldn’t be denied that their lavender friend appeared to be addressing the lab wall.

As for Twilight, her thoughts and feelings were wrestling with each other. She genuinely wished to meet whoever these Observers were yet didn’t want to frighten them off. If they were actually there, that is. Twilight’s logical mind told her that she was talking to a wall; a wall that had not changed in the slightest from the many times she’d seen it before. Yet, her gut feeling was that something from someplace beyond her vision was looking back at her.

Determined to make a good impression, Twilight attempted to shut out her doubts and pressed on.

“I, uh… We don’t mean to frighten you, but my friends and I would very much like to meet you,” Twilight ventured. She paused a moment. There was no response. Just a crystal wall accompanied by the whirring and chugging of the monitor.

“My name is Princess Twilight Sparkle and these are my friends, Pinkie Pie and Spike,” she continued, indicating each of her companions as they approached. Again, the Alicorn paused. Again, there was no response.

“Twilight, are you sure somepony’s over here?” Spike asked. By this time, he and Pinkie Pie had joined their friend by the wall and were taking in the complete lack of activity in that corner of the room.

“Well, Pinkie Pie seems to think so,” Twilight said. “You are sure that this is the Observers’ vantage point?” she asked, turning to Pinkie.

“Sure I’m sure,” the pink pony declared. However, her eye betrayed a slight hesitance. “At least, I think so.” As she said this, Pinkie lifted a hoof and reached out to the wall of the lab. Her hoof didn’t reach the wall, however. Instead, with a deep thoom, her hoof made contact with a much different barrier.

Everyone in the room, save Pinkie, jumped in surprise and shock, a multi-voiced yelp sounding forth. However, three pairs of eyes couldn’t tear themselves from the sight before them. There, suspended in the air a few hooves from the wall, was a transparent, roughly 3-hoof-by-2-cannon*, rectangular surface of some kind. Were it not for the distortions that played across it, it would have been completely invisible. It rippled with the force of Pinkie’s contact, the rings spreading out and rebounding off its edges.

“Yep,” Pinkie said with a smile, “I’m sure.”

Twilight gazed in wonder as the ripples in the surface faded. “Is it really possible…” she breathed. She lifted a hoof and placed it gently against the surface. Again, soft ripples appeared as the transparent plane reacted to her touch. She noted, with some unease, the tingle that played across her hoof. Carefully, she ran her foreleg across the surface. It offered no resistance to the lateral motion, yet didn’t yield to the pressure she applied against it. She came to the edge and traced her hoof to the back side of the field. It wasn’t a box. It appeared to have no thickness at all. It seemed to be an infinitely thin slab of pure energy. A force field? A window? She didn’t know. It was a beautiful impossibility.

Twilight wasn’t the only one gawking.

“Wow,” Spike said. “This is an Observer?”

“No, silly Spike,” Pinkie corrected. “This is just what they’re looking through. We can’t see them, but you can bet your tail that they’re on the other side of it.” Pinkie absently shoved Twilight to the side (much to the chagrin of the lavender mare), reared up, placed her front hooves upon the mysterious field, and pressed her face against the barrier. “Isn’t that right?” she said.

Quite suddenly, the surface moved. Not just a slight jitter or recoil, no. It zipped upwards with surprising speed, out of the reach of the pink Earth Pony that had plastered itself against it. The said Earth Pony promptly fell on her face with a loud smack.

“Oh my gosh!” Twilight yelped. “Pinkie, are you OK?” Both she and Spike rushed to help their friend.

With a pop, Pinkie extracted herself from the flooring and gazed up at where the rippling surface mocked her. “Hey! What gives?!” she complained.

“What? What’s wrong?” Twilight asked, pushing her concern for her unharmed friend aside. Pinkie’s resilience was another mystery for another day.

“It’s never done that before,” Pinkie said.

“It’s never moved before?” Twilight asked skeptically.

“Then how could the Observers watch what you were doing if it never moved around,” Spike inquired.

“No, I mean it never moved like that before,” Pinkie clarified as she got to her hooves again.

By this time, the ripples had settled and the strange rectangle was once again invisible, though the three friends continued to stare up at the spot it had moved to. Suddenly, Pinkie jerked her head, as if catching and following the movement of something out of the corner of her eye. She paused a moment, looking over her shoulder across the room, then snapped her head around to face the monitor machine. Again and again her gaze bolted around the room, following an unseen object as Twilight and Spike looked on, perplexed. Finally, the pink pony’s eyes fixed on a spot opposite the lab door, not far to the left of where the ponies and dragon stood.

“This is weird,” Pinkie Pie stated as she untwisted her neck and walked to where her visual chase had stopped. She extended a hoof and, once again, ripples played across the elusive field of energy.

“Says the weird pony,” Spike retorted with a smirk as he and Twilight made to join their friend. Even circumstances like this couldn’t dull the young dragon’s wit.

“Got me there,” Pinkie conceded, “but this is weirder.”

“How so?” Twilight asked. What could be so strange about discovering an invisible, free-floating panel of energy through which god-like beings might be looking and tracking it all over a room without actually seeing it?

“Well,” Pinkie began, “somehow, this feels different. Different from all the other times I’ve felt the warm-and-fuzzy tummy. Always before, it felt like the people were just… there. Not really doing anything, just watching, following along and sharing in the feelings. This…” The eccentric mare paused, trying to find the words. “It’s like they’re more there than usual; more active. They’re moving around more, doing things, and their vibes are a lot clearer. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s a ‘they’ right now. It feels more like just a one.”

“Just a single Observer?” Twilight asked. “How can you tell? It feels that specific?”

“I don’t know, it just feels right,” Pinkie Pie replied. “But that’s what makes it so weird. It’s like...”

At that moment, something happened that not even Pinkie Pie was expecting. Two ponies and a dragon jumped and squeaked in surprise as a white, one-hoof-square box appeared upon the mystical invisible screen before them! It was perfectly formed and completely visible, yet it, like the surface it resided on, seemed to have no thickness. Within it, in the top-right corner of the square, a single vertical black line blinked in and out of sight.

A flood of excitement and anxiety rushed through Twilight Sparkle’s heart. What did it mean? Was the Observer trying to interact with them somehow? Was it going to hurt them?! Was it just trying to talk to them?! What?!

Almost in answer, the black line began to move toward the left of the white box. As it did, it left behind a string of symbols. Symbols that looked very much like letters! The Observer was trying to communicate! Except… the letters were backwards, as if they were reflected in a mirror. Making a slight mental adjustment, Twilight looked again at the single word that had been formed on the white box.


That’s new,” Pinkie Pie said.

High above the city of Canterlot, within Canterlot Tower, the Royal Pony Sisters stood facing each other, their eyes closed, their horns crossed and glowing with magic. Their minds were linked together within the ethereal plane, gazing with inner vision upon the very life-fabric of their world. Their expressions mirrored their mutual feeling of uncertainty.

Their search had begun as a hunt for an entity or intelligence roaming free in the unseen world surrounding Ponyville, a presence Celestia reasoned would feel much akin to an Alicorn or elemental spirit. What they did find was a focal point of strange magic within Friendship Castle interacting with the three entities that were Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie and Spike. It was powerful and didn’t coincide with any magical signature they could recognize, so the sisters assumed that it must be the work of the Observers. But after probing it and the surrounding ether, they could find no trace of an actual awareness associated with it.

It was then that Luna had suggested they take a different approach. Princess Twilight had described the Observers as taking interest in individual ponies. Surely the attention of an omniscient being would leave some kind of magical mark. And since Pinkie Pie seemed to have the strongest connection to the Observers, perhaps they would find a lead within her aura.

Almost immediately, Celestia and Luna had found the connection they were looking for. Indeed, what they saw within the Earth Pony’s aura looked to be a connection of some kind, bound to the mare’s very life force, hidden among yet independent of the natural magical ties of life. Were it not for the strange energies within the room disturbing it, the Royal Sisters would not have seen it; it was a very fragile link. In fact, it looked to be the last of a cluster of now severed lines. Further examination revealed that each of the individuals within the room had this partially dissolved connection imbedded within them, though Pinkie’s was the strongest. But what did they connect too? Was this some remnant of marionette string these Observers had left behind? And were they pulling on it again?!

Well, a rope has two ends. It would be a simple matter to trace the ties within their friends back to their source and break them if need be. Taking care to protect themselves from backlash, the two immortal Alicorns ran their magical sight back along the gossamer strands bound to Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle. Farther and farther they went, noting with growing concern the increasing depth of reality these lines seemed to run. And they were not the only ones. Hundreds, then thousands, then millions of fibers joined the two threads as the Solar and Lunar Regents followed them down to the very foundations of their universe.

Finally, they came to the bottom of the well. Though they had known of this place even before taking up their heavenly mantels, neither Celestia nor Luna had dared to dive this far into the ether before. It was only by virtue of their incredible power and disciplined minds that they could survive the cosmic forces at play. Here the two demigods could feel the nearby thrum of the beating heart of the cosmos; the center of the web of life and the source of all magic. But that wellspring and the intricate connections it shared with all things of their world stood separate and distinct from what Celestia and Luna now saw. There, sitting upon the very base of reality, perhaps crossing the dimensional divide itself, was the root of a veritable cable of fibers that conceivably connected to each and every intelligent life. And coursing up and down it was a power identical to the strange focal point they had seen in Friendship Castle.

What do you make of it, my sister? The Lunar Princess’s voice sounded within the vaults of Celestia’s consciousness.

I honestly do not know, Luna, was the Solar Princess’s reply.

"From My Perspective"

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The word hung in the air, both figuratively and literally. Under any other circumstance, either the Princess of Friendship or the most sociable mare in Ponyville would have responded quickly and affably to such a simple greeting. But faced with such a bizarre greeter and method of greeting, one could easily forgive the silence that briefly ruled the room.

Do you read me?

The mirrored words strung themselves one letter at a time across the white box, forming a line below the initial greeting.

“Oh! Um, Yes! Yes, we can read what you’re writing,” Twilight stuttered with a shake of her head. “Um, can you hear us?” Though still trying to wrap her head around what was happening, the Alicorn mare had the presence of mind to pursue this strange conversation.

Yes, I can see and hear you. This may not be the quickest way to talk, but it’s better than nothing.

“I’ll say!” Pinkie Pie piped in. “It might be funny, but it’s hard to read something backwards. Do you always talk backwards?” Trust the Element of Laughter to turn a weighty moment on its ear. Spike snickered while Twilight brought her hoof to her face.


Twilight couldn’t quite put her hoof on it, but… was that a faint whiff of surprise and confusion she sensed in that word?

Stay focused. Answer possibly-omnipotent-being’s question first, puzzle over conundrums later. “I hope you’ll excuse my friend here,” Twilight said, “but yes, the words we’re seeing are backwards. It’s like they’re reflected in a mirror.” Twilight sincerely hoped this Observer wasn’t easily offended.

There was a thoughtful pause. Again, Twilight could almost feel a hint of emotion emanating from the Observer’s window. Were these the vibes Pinkie had been going on about?

What exactly is it you’re looking at? Can you describe what you’re seeing?

It finally struck the young Alicorn: Why would an omniscient being ask these kinds of questions? Shouldn’t an all-seeing entity know exactly how it appeared to pony eyes?

The researcher’s thoughts were interrupted by Pinkie’s animated description. “It’s a see-through-but-solid rectangle of magical something floating in the air that we can’t see unless we touch it and it has a white rectangle in the upper-right corner of it that has backward words written on it.” Twilight was impressed. It was a rather good description and she had said it all in one breath. Then, with a sudden splash of what Twilight could only describe as “understanding,” the observer responded.

Hold on a second. Let me try something.

The energy field abruptly spun around, back to front. The comical image of a sign spinning on its post came unbidden to the lavender mare’s mind. But this was no signpost, as Twilight was surprised to see that the window of text was now correctly facing. The white, opaque field should have hidden the words printed on its face when the transparent pane turned away. The words weren’t cut or stamped through the white surface, a fact shown by the flashing vertical bar to the right of the text, yet it seemed that the black letters and white surface intersected each other on the same plane. Was this some kind of regenerating image projected onto the energy field? Like a motion picture or an illusion spell?

Is that better?

Twilight again shook herself. “Yes, thank you,” she replied, trying to hide her befuddlement.

Good. I might be looking at the wall right now, but I can still hear you just fine.

It was very faint, but Twilight couldn’t deny the feeling of relief and satisfaction trickling from the Observer’s vantage point. Yet another score in the Pinkie Sense’s favor, as these had to be the elusive Vibes the pink confectioner claimed to feel in an Observer’s presence. That she was also feeling them was a fair indication of how strong and clear they were.

Wait a minute…

There was a reason Spike was Twilight’s Number One Assistant, for he voiced Twilight’s thoughts before she could speak. “Why are you looking at the wall? Can’t you see out of either side of that thing?” the dragon queried.

There was a pause, the Observer apparently considering its answer. After a few seconds had past, the words on the white field vanished and new words began to form. As Twilight watched beside her friends, she noticed something about how the words were being written. They were formed one letter at a time, the words formed tidy lines beneath each other, and there were points when the black bar would erase a few words and form new ones in their place. It was like the Observer was writing with a typewriter.

Finally, the message was finished:

Imagine that the “floating rectangle” is like a screen. Then, picture me sitting in a chair on one side of it. To you, it looks like the screen is transparent. To me, the screen is opaque, has the image on the front, and is blank on the back. I’m looking at the side of the screen that has these words facing forward. That means that, from my perspective, I’m looking through the screen at the wall.

“I knew it!” Pinkie cried, springing into the air excitedly. “It’s like you’re looking through a window watching a bunch of ponies playing hoofball on a Sunday afternoon, isn’t it Mr. Watcher. Like you’re sitting in a cinema, and you’re the audience to a cool show about us ponies! Only it’s real life! You like us so much you want to watch us learn and grow and have fun and… PARTY! You like my parties, don’t you Mr. New-Awesome-Watcher-Friend?”

There was no response from the entity for a while, a mixed air of surprise, alarm, and certitude radiating from it. It seemed like Pinkie’s observations had caught it off guard, yet it had somehow been expecting such a thing from the sugary mare. Twilight could sympathize. Finally, there came a response.

First: Yes, that’s very much what it’s like, Pinkie. Second: I do like your parties. Third: Call me Stephanie.

Pinkie Pie let out a squee of delight as she bounced about the room. “Oh, this is so splendiferously great! I’ve made a new friend who likes my parties and knows my name and….” She stopped abruptly as a look of chagrin plastered her face. “Wait! Your name is Stephanie?! Oh, fudgesicles! Here I am calling you mister when you’ve got a girl’s name and everything! How did I miss that?”

Nearby, Twilight Sparkle stood quietly with a conflicted expression. The wheels in her mind were trying to process the wrench this exuberant exchange had thrown into her theories. Before now, Twilight had assumed that the Observers were a group of higher beings, all-seeing and all-powerful yet non-interfering. But this conversation and interaction had disproved that hypothesis. It was clear that this Observer who called itself Stephanie did not know everything. She (if indeed it was a she) needed explanations, time to form thoughts, could make mistakes and be taken in surprise. And with that part of the theory debunked, the rest fell with it. If the Observers were not omniscient, then there was no basis for them being omnipotent.

So what did that leave? Clearly these entities were powerful, but to what extent? They knew who Twilight and her friends were, but how much did they actually know and why them in particular? How did they know where she and her friends were and when to watch them? And above all, what did they ultimately want? The science-minded royal was drifting in the unknown. What facts she had seemed to conflict and confuse rather than enlighten. She needed more data. And she needed support.

“Excuse me,” Twilight called out. The one-sided stream of questions and babble issuing from Pinkie Pie came to a halt as the Alicorn took a step forward. “I hope it’s not too much to ask, but would you mind if I took some notes while we talk?” she asked the Stephanie entity. “This is the first time I’ve ever met something… or someone like you and I don’t want to miss anything.”

Of course, Twilight. I don’t mind. I can imagine the questions a pony like you would have.

“Thank you,” the Alicorn said, seizing her notepad and quill in her magic and immediately beginning to write. “Spike!” she said in a neutral tone as her urgent hoof furtively gestured the dragon to her side, trusting that all the Observer was seeing was a blank wall. She flashed him the message she had scrawled out as she said, in a conversational way, “Could you go and get us some tea and toast? We may be here for a while.”

Spike took in both her spoken words as well as her written request. “You got it,” he winked. He turned and made for the door as Pinkie commented on the awesomeness of a Get-to-Know-You Party, even if it wasn’t a Welcome-to-Equestria Party.

Once outside the lab, instead of moving toward the kitchen, the adolescent dragon jogged to the library. There he opened the writing desk and drew out two scrolls, each sealed in a different colored wax. As quietly as he could, he drew a breath and sent a roll sealed in green on its way to Canterlot. The other roll, sealed in a blaring red and marked with the words “Open Immediately,” he tucked away with the writing supplies he always carried. That task done, he then went to the kitchen to start on the tea and toast.

Gently, ever so carefully, the minds of Celestia and Luna probed the mysterious bond they had discovered at reality’s foundation. The billions of individual strands it consisted of made the cable strong and sturdy. The whole of it was firmly anchored to the dimensional wall, unyielding to the cautious tugs the two Alicorns exerted on it. But what was most intriguing was the power that flowed through it.

Running down each individual strand of the cable and into the Equestrian world was an energy that was primal and raw. When tentatively sampled by the two rulers, it inspired within them a distinct feeling of passion and appreciation. It sang with positive feeling. It also bore a resonance that was similar yet decidedly alien to Equestria, suggesting that it and the connection its self did indeed have their origin in a different universe. Yet, despite the many differences between them, the sisters couldn’t help but think that this strange energy was somehow akin to the magical power that made up the life blood of their world.

Stranger still was the power which ran up the strands and into the other reality. This energy was undoubtedly similar to the first and the royal sisters understood how one could lump the two powers together. However, this returning stream bore an Equestrian resonance and instilled a desire to create. Where did this power come from? Was it being drawn from Equestria, or was it being fed into the neighboring realm?

Before these thoughts could fully mature, Celestia felt a familiar pull from her magic and carefully withdrew her awareness from the ethereal plane and back to Canterlot. She had only experienced the Ethereal Bends once and she intended to keep it that way. Luna followed after her sister as the two Alicorns opened their physical eyes and took note of what had interrupted their investigation. It was a roll of parchment, sealed with green wax and carrying the marks of magical dragon flame; another letter from Twilight Sparkle.

“Most fortuitous,” Luna said as Celestia took the scroll in her magic and unfurled it. “Perhaps Princess Twilight will be able to enlighten us concerning these observing creatures.”

“Not by much,” Celestia replied. She read the letter aloud.

Dear Princess Celestia,

This letter is to inform you and Princess Luna that peaceful contact has been made with The Observers. They have revealed themselves with no ill will and I will likely be talking with them as you read this. You can expect a full report of the encounter once it is concluded. I will contact you immediately if there is an emergency. Wish me luck!

Your Fellow Princess,

Twilight Sparkle

“Indeed. Not very informative,” Luna nodded. “But we at least know they can be reasonable and civil.”

“That remains to be seen,” Celestia said gravely. “A pre-written notice doesn’t leave me with much confidence.”

“Then why not go to Ponyville ourselves and discover the truth?”

“You don’t know how tempted I am to do just that, Luna. But I’m afraid of what our sudden arrival would do in this situation. We know so little, there’s no telling what would happen, good or bad.” A mixed look of concern and confidence lit the Diurnal Matriarch’s face. “I think it’s best that we wait until Twilight contacts us herself. I trust her and her friends to act in our best interest.”

Luna quietly appreciated her sister’s restraint. Knowing how much Twilight Sparkle meant to her sister and to Equestria, the Nocturnal Matriarch was impressed that Celestia didn’t take to the skies that very moment. Yet, Luna agreed that jumping to conclusions and sticking a hoof in where it wasn’t needed could only cause distress. Besides, there was much the two of them had to talk about.

“Then let us leave them to their own devices for now and discuss what we have learned,” Luna suggested.

“Yes,” Celestia nodded, determination replacing her doubts. “Yes, we should. There’s a lot we can learn about these Observers by their power and how they use it.”

“Agreed,” Luna affirmed. “Their power is unique, yet I can’t help the feeling of familiarity it has. You felt the underlying similarities it had to our own magic, I’m sure.”

“Similar, but only in the most basic ways,” Celestia conceded. “It’s like raw emotion. Our magic may have once been like the Observers’ magic, but theirs hasn’t matured like ours has, if at all.”

“And yet there was a similar power flowing from our world into theirs,” Luna reminded her sister.

“True.” Celestia paused a moment, considering she and her sister’s discoveries. “Do you think it could have been the power of the Observers cycled back through the hearts of our little ponies?”

Luna was thoughtful for a moment more. “Perhaps, but I think not,” she finally replied. “Considering that the two forces had distinct magical resonances, coupled with the positive nature of both the incoming and outgoing energy, I’m inclined to think that both sides of the connection are contributing to the flow.”

It made sense. Celestia smiled her approval. Though Luna was still a very passionate mare, Celestia was happy with her sibling’s improvement with emotional control and critical thinking skills. Plus, it was fun to watch the younger Alicorn mull things out in her mind.

“What’s more,” Luna continued, “it isn’t just Twilight Sparkle and her friends that are being touched by this presence. There were billions of strands branching from that connection, enough for each and every creature in this….”

The eyes of both the Lunar and Solar Regents met as the implication struck.

“Luna, are you suggesting that you and I might be bound to this… thing?” Celestia asked incredulously.

“There is one way to know,” Luna replied anxiously.

The Princesses shut their eyes and reached into themselves, searching for what they had seen in their subjects. After a moment, the two of them withdrew their inner sight and looked at each other in bewilderment.

“’Tis there, my sister. Plain as thy day,” Luna whispered, momentarily lapsing into archaic speech.

“In both of us,” Celestia confirmed.

“How did we not see this before?” Luna asked, visibly bothered by the revelation.

“We weren’t looking for it before,” Celestia replied soberly. “The link is very subtle, buried deep within our souls. And the flow along it is very small. We wouldn’t have seen it within Twilight or Pinkie Pie were it not for the presence of the Observers. And if anypony had stumbled over it before now, they likely would have seen it as part of the magical web of life.”

Silence descended on the tower, the Alicorns stewing in their thoughts. Celestia berated herself for her blindness. She felt violated. Had she and her own sister, the ancient rulers of Equestria, the stewards of the sun and moon, two of the most powerful beings in the world, been influenced by these Observers in the past? She knew it was a blind assumption that these strands within herself were the strings of a puppeteer. Yet the proposition that her life might not be hers to live, however irrational and unfounded that thought was, filled her with outrage.

“Sister,” Luna intoned. Celestia snapped from her ruminations and regarded her younger sibling. “How does this strike you? Magic is the veritable life-blood of our world. We have discovered a connection that links us to another world or entity. Magical powers consisting almost entirely of emotion, a component of our own magic, flows both ways along this cord. The flow seems almost symbiotic. It is rooted to our very life force. Consider a moment and tell me: Is not the umbilical bond between a dam and her unborn foal similar?”

Celestia swore she heard a click as the cognitive piece fell into place. The comparison was almost perfect. Two entities bound together and sharing their life-force across a barrier that ensured the safety and separation of the two. She was surprised that she, the one to whom so many looked to as a second mother, had failed to make the correlation.

But while the metaphor was sound, it stirred a whole new range of questions. If the relationship between Equestria and the Observer’s world was that of a mother and a foal, which world represented which? Considering the level of influence the Observers had already displayed and what they potentially could do, Celestia was loath to admit that her world may very well be the offspring. And from there it was easy to make the logical leap that the relationship could be parasitic, one way or the other. Darker and darker possibilities presented themselves within Celestia’s mind, though she continually tried to see the brighter solutions. It was not easy.

In the centuries that Celestia had lived, she had learned to school her feelings very well. A precious few could claim that they had seen the princess truly overcome with emotion. But she was still very much a pony, complete with instincts and inborn tendencies. And at that moment, both the Mother and the Protector within the Matron of the Sun were squabbling with her.

Celestia finally answered her sister’s question, her voice solemn. “Yes, my sister, they are similar. In many ways, our two worlds are like a mother and foal. It well could be that one world begot the other. And like a mother and child, it would appear that there is a love and respect between our two realms.”

Luna’s ears twitched. At a time like this, it was a sure sign of agitation when Celestia lapsed into formal tones.

“But we do not yet know the intent of these Observers,” the Sun Mare continued, her multihued mane billowing in the ethereal wind. “And while we have yet to find any ill about them, we must be prepared for all contingencies. While I sincerely hope it is not so, we may yet find that the mother and child could be more akin to the master and slave.”

Luna was genuinely surprised that her positive and sunny sister would come to such a conclusion. Yet she could see the track that train of thought had run. “I admit, the same did occur to me,” the Moon Mare said. “As you say, we have not yet detected any malevolence from these beings. And if either of us were to recognize darkness within a creature, it would be myself.”

It was a painful memory for both of the Royal Sisters, one that had been put behind them and learned from.

“Nevertheless, your caution is not unwarranted.” Luna’s expression was infused with steel and the stars in her mane shimmered. “We are Equestria’s leaders. Her guardians. And we are faced with the unknown. We must take care to not offend a possible ally, nor to fall prey to a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Celestia’s face had also become hardened, but it was also touched with pride and appreciation in her sister. With a controlled fervor, the Guardian of the Day spoke out, her mane and tail whipping about her and a gleam in her eye. “Well said, my sister. If given the opportunity, we will gladly extend the hoof of friendship. But if these Observers show themselves to be Usurpers, then by the Sun and by the Heavens they will feel the heat of my wrath!”

"By the Moon and by the Tides as well, my sister!" the Guardian of the Night proclaimed, her power rising up to match her elder sibling. “If enemy they are, they shall find no sanctuary in the shadows! They shall know the displeasure of those who sit on Equestria’s thrones.”

The one who had called herself Stephanie sat at her desk engaged in a conversation she had never expected to have. Though she couldn’t see them from the “camera’s” current position, the fact remained that it was Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, and Spike she was talking to. And as that exciting fact percolated through her mind, she was struck with another sobering realization: she had to be extra careful. Depending on her actions, here and now, she could either befriend the ponies or make them her enemies. If she messed this up, she got the distinct impression that there would be dire consequences.

"Please Don't Eat My Brains"

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“So, what do you think? Chimi-cherrys or Cherry-changas?” Pinkie asked.

What’s the difference?

“Well, duh! One is cherries prepared like chimichangas, the other is chimichangas filled with cherries. I spent moons getting the flavors and textures just right!” Pinkie’s logic was not to be questioned on this point. That much was clear.

OK. Well, since I’ve never tried them, how about...

“You’ve never tried them?!” Pinkie was flabbergasted. “Oh, you’re missing out! They’re one of my signature treats!”

Twilight Sparkle looked on with growing agitation as she finished cleaning off a small table in a corner of the lab. Her unease wasn’t from Pinkie’s antics or Stephanie’s reactions, but from Spike’s continued absence. He hadn’t been gone long yet, but the clock continued to tick. Had Stephanie or another Observer discovered what he was supposed to be doing? Or was he just taking his time in the kitchen? The questions kept simmering in her mind.

Thankfully, it was at that moment that the young dragon made his appearance.

“Hey, everypony! Tea’s ready!” Spike called as he stepped through the door, a loaded tea tray in his claws.

“Oh, thank you, Spike,” Twilight said, trying to mask her relief. Stephanie was still listening after all. The young mare trotted over to meet her assistant, stealing a glance at what could be seen of their extraordinary guest to ensure her figurative back was still turned. Twilight glanced at the tray Spike carried, then met the dragon’s eyes. “It looks like you took care of… everything,” she said, a question hidden behind that last word.

Spike answered with a wink. “Yes, Twilight, I took care of everything.” With a subtle body gesture, he indicated his supply of writing utensils and the letter stowed within. Twilight visibly relaxed, drawing a grin from the dragon. “Did I miss anything important in here?”

“Yeah, you missed out on the kind of parties and party foods Stephanie likes!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Don’t worry; I’ll fill you in later. That way we can plan her Welcome-to-Equestria party together.”

The Observer made no written response to that.

Twilight lit her horn and carried the tea tray from Spike’s grasp toward the short-legged and potion-stained table. “I’m sure that will be fun Pinkie, but now that Spike is back I’d like to start with some of my own questions.” With a clink, the tray was placed on the table and the young Alicorn began to lay out the plates and cups.

“Oh, sure!” the bubbly mare said as she took her place at the table. “Wouldn’t want to hog all the bonding time.” Pinkie sat to Twilight’s left, across from where Spike had taken his seat at the square table. Following the Equestrians’ lead, the floating text box that marked Stephanie’s perspective turned and made its way over to the impromptu tea, situating its self at eye level across from Twilight Sparkle and correcting its orientation once again.

“Sugar for you, Pinkie Pie?” Twilight asked, hefting both the tea kettle and sugar pot. The pink pony nodded eagerly. “Say when,” Twilight remarked as she began measuring out what many would consider an obscene portion of sweetener. A word from Pinkie, a tip of the kettle and a flick of a spoon later and the young mare was joyfully sipping away. Wordlessly, but with affection, Twilight then prepared a cup for Spike. They had taken tea together so many times that they knew each other’s preferred mixtures by heart. Then, before serving herself, Twilight politely asked their guest “How do you like your tea, Stephanie?”

The artist blinked. What did Twilight just ask? Stephanie quickly turned her perspective to take in the scene at the table. The three characters were sitting expectantly while Twilight levitated the kettle above a tea cup set out where Stephanie was “sitting.” The ponies were trying to serve her tea.

Stephanie’s eyes fell to her hand then returned to the screen. After a moment of hesitation, she traced her “pen” across the sensor pad and hovered the cursor on the screen over the image of the tea cup. Another beat passed. She was sure she knew what would happen, but it was worth a shot. She tapped the stylus.

Nothing. As expected.

Then, on a crazy whim, Stephanie set down the tool and raised her hand in front of her. She paused one second more, contemplating the shear absurdity of the idea in her head. But, given how absurd this whole encounter had been so far, she was willing to bet that just about anything was possible now. She deliberately pushed her hand into the screen.

The seconds ticked by, each one adding to the awkward silence in the room. Twilight nervously watched the floating panel of reversed text as it stared back at her. What was Stephanie doing? Did she not like tea? Had Twilight done something to offend her? The array of vibes she was getting from the Observer didn’t seem to say so. It almost felt like she was worried about something, yet hopeful. Much like how Twilight felt when she would debate with herself over something. Was Stephanie trying to decide if she wanted tea? No, that choice would not have taken this long to make. Then it occurred to her: how would their guest even drink the tea?

Finally, with a splash of self-derision and disappointment, the force field turned around and new words began to form upon it.

I like my tea with a spoonful of sugar, but there’s just one problem.

Twilight knew the answer. “You can’t reach through and take the cup, can you,” she said.

There was a surprised pause, followed by Stephanie’s rueful response.

Yes. Exactly. Remember, I’m not actually in the same room with you right now. I’m talking to you over a great distance.

Spike sat with a confused expression. “Wait, what? I thought that…” The words died on his lips as comprehension dawned in the dragon’s eyes. “Oh…, right,” he said sheepishly. “You’re looking at us through a window or portal or something. And if we can’t reach through it, then I guess you can’t either.”

That’s right.

“What?!” Pinkie exclaimed, a look of consternation crossing her face. “But that means that you won’t be able to try my Chimi-cherries or Cherry-changas. Not even your own Welcome-to-Equestria cake!” The confectioner’s face fell. “What a bummer,” she said dejectedly.

“I’m sorry,” Twilight consoled as she set down the tea pot. “I guess we all made the same assumption. But, it’s the thought that counts.” With a slight blush of embarrassment, Twilight began to clear away the extra tea setting.

“Hey! What are you doing?” Pinkie blurted.

The teacup, saucer, and plate shuddered to a halt in Twilight’s magic. The Alicorn was confused. “Umm, Pinkie, if Stephanie can’t use these things then why have them out?” she said. It would be rude to taunt somepony with something they could not have, after all.

Pinkie smiled, a twinkle in her eye. “Just because she can’t use them doesn’t mean they’re not useful,” she answered. The pink pony beckoned for the flatware to be set in front of the visitor again. Still confused but willing to play along, Twilight complied. After making a few adjustments to the placement, Pinkie sat back to consider her work. “See? Helps add to the illusion.”

Twilight Sparkle looked back towards the Observer’s window. It looked like a floating sheet of white hanging over an empty table setting. At least, at first it did. But as she looked, her mind’s eye began taking liberties. The box of writing could be substituted for a head and Twilight could almost imagine a body sitting beneath it. Add to it the dishes on the table and it did indeed start to look like somepony was actually sitting there.

The magical window turned for a moment and glanced at the table setting. A mirthful vibe seemed to emanate from the Observer. Then she gave her opinion.

If it helps you at all, then I’m fine with it. I don’t mind.

Pinkie Pie’s satisfied smile spoke for its self. Or rather, squeaked.

“Well… OK then,” Twilight said at last, settling onto her haunches. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, she thought. If it moved things forward, she wouldn’t complain. She took her pad and quill in her magic and marked the heading. “I think we can get started.”

Ask away.

With great anticipation, the studious mare did just that. It was time to get down to business.

“Well, you said just now that you’re talking to us over a great distance,” Twilight noted. “So the obvious first question would be: From where? Where do you come from?”

There was a pause. It felt almost like Stephanie was deliberating her response. But the moment soon passed and the first answer came.

I’m in a city called Vancouver, in a country called Canada. Do either of those names mean anything to you?

“Van-cou-ver?” Spike queried. “I’ve heard of a Van-hoo-ver, over on the west coast. Is that what you mean?”

“I don’t think so, Spike,” Twilight said. “Vanhoover is still in Equestria, just north of Tall Tail. I’ve never heard of a country called ‘Canada’ before.” With a flash of magic, the young Alicorn summoned a globe from the library and set it next to her. After a moment of studying the device, she shook her head. “Nope, there’s not a Canada anywhere on this map.” A chill trickled down her spine as the implications of what she’d just said fully registered.

Pinkie Pie must have caught on as well, for she was the one who voiced the question. “Ooh, does that mean you’re from another world?” she asked excitedly. Then her eyes lit up as she made another mental connection. She leaned forward. “Are you an Alien?! I’ve never met an Alien before. This is so cool! Are there other Aliens with you? What’s your flying saucer like?” The pink mare stopped abruptly, eyes wide. Her ears splayed back and she looked awkwardly around the table at the appalled looks of her friends. “Oops. Sorry. That was rude.” She sat down and looked apologetically back at the floating panel. “Please don’t eat my brains.”

There was a stupefied silence as the occupants of the room tried to sort through the wreckage that had just been their thought trains. Spike shook his head vigorously to clear the dust cloud within it. “Uh, Pinkie,” he said, “I think you’ve been reading a little too much science fiction.”

Twilight gave a nervous chuckle, a tick coming to her eye. “Y-Yeah,” she stuttered. “I mean Stephanie could technically be called an ‘alien,’ she not being from Equestria and all, but that doesn’t mean she’s a brain-eating extra-equestrial here to take over the planet. Right?”

NO! I’m not! We may be from different worlds and we may be different species, but I promise I mean you no harm.

Stephanie’s words splashed across the text box as quickly and accurately as they could. Though still very faint, the Observer’s feelings of shock and panic were the strongest vibes Twilight had ever felt. Twilight could sense Stephanie’s desire to calm the ponies’ fears. It was a feeling Twilight recognized: not wanting to lose a friend.

Pinkie Pie’s embarrassment fled her face almost as quickly as it had come. “Oh. So, no flying saucers?” She asked.

The worry seeping from the other-worldly wall ebbed a bit and was again mixed with a hint of amusement.

Sorry, Pinkie. No flying saucers.

“Awe, that would’ve been so cool,” Pinkie sighed.

Twilight took a deep breath to steady her nerves and coax her train of thought back onto the tracks. She still didn’t understand how Pinkie could veer off onto such wild tangents with even the simplest of ideas. But more often than not those tangents yielded something worthwhile. Such was the case now.

“Well, at least that answers one question,” Twilight breathed, her quill resuming its recording work. “You’re from a different world. Now, that prompts me to ask: What kind of world? What I mean is, are you from a different planet or another reality entirely?”

Once again, there was a silence from Stephanie’s end. But unlike the previous pauses, there was no hint of indecision from the Observer. In fact, there was almost nothing emanating from her at all, just a confused trickle. And with all that had been flowing from her since the conversation had begun, that was puzzling. But before Twilight could form her thoughts on this oddity, Stephanie began to write out her response.

In all honesty, I’m not sure. Different planets? Yes. Different dimension? More than likely, but I don’t know.

Now it was Twilight’s turn to pause. True, it had been shown that the Observers were not omniscient, but this? It flew in the face of every conclusion Twilight had made about them thus far! “How is that possible?” Twilight asked in disbelief. “You’ve been watching us all this time; how can you not know where your world is relative to ours? How can you even contact us if you don’t know?” Beyond the catch-all of random chance, it just wasn’t probable. And with the behavior the Observers had displayed up to now, the Alicorn researcher refused to accept mere happenstance as an explanation.

With a conciliatory sympathy, Stephanie responded.

I’m sorry Twilight, but I don’t have a solid answer for you. This whole situation is as new to me as it is for you and I want to understand it just as much as you do.

Twilight was aghast. Everything she thought she knew about these creatures was falling apart around her and she couldn’t understand why. “But… but you couldn’t have just stumbled across Equestria by accident!” Twilight ranted. “With all the time you’ve spent watching us and the way you’ve followed my friends and I, it… it just… it doesn’t make sense!” As much as she tried to contain herself, Twilight could feel her temper rising. She couldn’t allow that. Not now.

With a frustrated grunt and the stamp of a hind hoof, the frazzled mare shut her eyes. She took a deep breath, brought her foreleg to her chest, then breathed out slowly as she extended her limb. She repeated the action, letting the stress flow out and her mind settle. One by one, the unsupported assumptions Twilight had been hanging on to fell away, leaving only the facts she had in the forefront of her thoughts. Questions and suppositions still roiled in her head, but she felt much better now. She opened her eyes and put on a smile. “Sorry about that,” she apologized. “Just had to let go of some ideas that were… getting in the way.”

Concern was evident from each of the other occupants of the room, but it was tempered by knowing looks and feelings. Both Pinkie and Spike had seen this side of Twilight before and they had grown to live with it. Stephanie, while a bit more apprehensive, also seemed to be accepting of the Alicorn’s outburst. The creature might not have been omniscient, but she was familiar with Twilight and her friends. That at least was certain.

It’s alright, Twilight. I can only imagine how confusing this must be to you. But between the four of us, I’m sure we can puzzle this out.

It was indeed confusing. Normally Twilight didn’t like confusing. She and Confusing usually didn’t get along well in the slightest. But this time, perhaps things would be different. Despite floating in the sea of the unknown, she was sharing that unknown with friends. And a very interesting creature who apparently shared Twilight’s desire for knowledge. “Yes,” the young Alicorn said at last. “Yes, I’m positive we will.”

Stephanie seemed to radiate satisfaction for a moment. But then her mood changed abruptly, as if in realization. New words began to flash across the field.

You said “watching us all this time.” How long have you known that you’ve been watched?

Now that was more along the lines of expectation that Twilight had harbored. Still, it was a fair question. And knowing that this was a new experience on both ends, almost any question could yield positive results. “Well, it was brought to my attention only a few weeks ago,” Twilight replied. “But Pinkie Pie here has apparently been able to sense you from the time I first came to Ponyville.”

There was a small surge of surprise from the Observer, though not nearly as big as others had been. Again, if felt as if Stephanie had somewhat expected this of the Pink Party Pony, but was genuinely impressed.

Really? All that time?

“Yep!” Pinkie chirped. “Didn’t know what my Pinkie Sense was telling me at first, but I figured it out. With that warm-and-fuzzy tummy and all those nice feelings to go with it, it wasn’t too hard to guess. It’s like what you feel when you’re up on stage with all those ponies and all those eyes looking up at you, watching your every move, but in a good way.” She took another swig from her teacup, then passed it to Twilight for a refill.

Well, knowing Pinkie Pie, I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised.

There it was again: That uncanny knowledge of Pinkie Pie and their ring of friends. There had to be some explanation for it! It was a real thorn in Twilight’s side, not knowing that answer. It was one of the most important questions, but seemingly one of the more complicated as well. The lavender mare took a deep breath and kept that particular pot stewing on the back burner of her mind. It would come in time. It had to. It would not be a pretty sight if that caldron of mystery soup boiled over.

Having reset herself, Twilight glanced at her pad and fielded another question. Perhaps this one would get a better answer. “Right, so moving back towards my first set of questions,” Twilight said, “Can you tell us more about your kind? Your species, I mean. You did mention you were different from ponies after all and I am curious to know what you call yourselves. I mean, we’ve just been calling you 'The Observers' until now.”

This question seemed to sit more comfortably with Stephanie, as there was no major hesitation nor apprehension this time. She cleared her field and began to answer.

We call ourselves humans. We are the only sentient and sapient species on our world, but we are very determined and very creative.

Twilight gave a start. She knew of humans! Or at least some form of them. Was this Stephanie somehow from the world Sunset Shimmer resided in? That could answer a few things, but it raised a whole new set of questions. She would need to clarify later though, as Stephanie was still writing.

In terms of what we look like, I think the closest thing you could compare us to in your world would be Minotaurs. We stand upright on two legs and

Stephanie cut off for a moment, seeming to question what she was doing. Then she resumed.

Actually, let me sketch something out for you.

A second white field appeared beside the one Stephanie had been writing on, though this one had no flashing black bar. Then, lines began to appear on the field. Some of them looked as though they were drawn by a magical pen, flowing out in curves. Others were more ridged and appeared all at once, after which they would bend and move into place. In short order, a clear picture began to form. The ponies and dragon watched in fascination as the image of a being took shape on the apparent canvas. “Wow!” Pinkie Pie intoned. “So you’re an artist alien! That’s awesome!”

Stephanie paused a moment and chuckled. This was without a doubt the most interesting conversation she had ever had in her life! She set down her stylus a moment to type out “Thank you, Pinkie. That means a lot,” then continued to draw.

It was something that came naturally to her. She loved to draw and create. She counted herself lucky that her line of work also coincided with her talents and passions. Her hands moved quickly and surely, deftly manipulating the tools at her fingers. She almost managed to forget just how strange this day had become.

Within minutes, a sketch of a human woman was completed. It may not have been The Vitruvian Man, but it got the point across and was a fairly actuate portrait of herself. Stephanie gave a nod of approval. Almost on instinct, she tapped her stylus and input one final command. A command that, had she been doing her normal job, would have been routine to finish an image in the software and turn it into something she could manipulate in the scene. But here and now it triggered something quite different.

Twilight gazed at the image in wonder. There was no mistaking that form! These observers were indeed similar to the beings she had encountered on the other side of the magic mirror! Whether or not they were from the exact same world remained to be seen, but the mare’s mind was quite boggled none the less.

Then it went from boggled to rattled and shocked in a flash. Literally. There was a brilliant flash of light from Stephanie’s window. The Alicorn felt a surge of power twist through her horn, hooves and wings. It was as if a very powerful spell of raw, unrestrained magic had just been cast. Her shout of surprise was joined by those of Pinkie’s and Spike’s.

Then, there was a flutter. The bookish mare instantly recognized the sound of paper falling through the air and landing on a surface. She cleared her eyes and gawked at what she saw. There, on the table, was a pristine and perfectly white sheet of the exact dimensions that Stephanie had used for her drawing canvas. The image the human had drawn sat upon it, unmoving and exactly as it had been in the window. It appeared for all the world like a page taken from a sketch pad. Twilight glanced up. The second white field was no longer on the window.

A deathly silence ruled the room for a moment. Then a pink hoof reached out and plucked the page from the table. “Oooooooh!” Pinkie Pie breathed. “She’s a gooooood artist.”

Twilight shook her head vigorously, her thought train once again in ruins miles off its tracks. Had she not been so flabbergasted, she would have let loose with a string of pony expletives and a river of questions right then. As it was, Spike managed to find his voice first.

“What the hay?!” the young drake cried, snatching the drawing from Pinkie. “You can do magic?!”

There was a crash of shock and surprise from Stephanie’s window, followed by a splash of words.

That wasn’t supposed to happen! I didn’t realize that I could do that!

Didn’t know she could?! Twilight felt like she was on a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster on an airship a mile in the sky with her wings strapped to her sides. How could this Observer… this Human not know that she could do what she did?! How did she even have magic at all?! Humans didn’t have magic! At least, not that she knew of. Was this confirmation that these observing humans were indeed different from the ones across the mirror?

Again, Twilight’s torrent of questions was preempted, this time by Pinkie Pie. “Can you do it again???” The pink pony’s eyes were excited and eager, like a foal who had received a new toy.

There was a pause, Twilight’s river of inquiries blocked and bottled in anticipation by this new request. Stephanie didn’t give an immediate reply, but after a moment her cautious but curious words came.

I don’t know. Let me try something else.

A new image began to form on the window. This one was not laid out on a white field, the black lines of the sketch simply appearing in midair. At first, there was just a circle. Then the circle was filled with red. A few decorative yellow spots appeared on the red filling, followed by a small highlight off to the side. It looked like a drawing of a small toy ball.

There was a sudden flash, the same as before. The next instant, something dropped to the table, bounced a few times, then rolled over the potion-stained surface and into Twilight’s hooves. A red toy ball sat innocently before her, its very existence taunting her rational and reasonable mind.

Silence again ruled the room, no one able to speak as they came to grips with what had just happened. Pinkie’s eyes were alight with the possibilities and thoughts of fun. Spike’s eyes were wild and confused. Twilight’s eyes were pinpricks of amazement and alarm. And yet somehow, each one was thinking the same things. What else could Stephanie make? What else could she do?!

Activity from the human visitor drew the attention of the ponies and dragon, new words appearing before them.

Perhaps we should end our session here for now. I think there’s a lot we all have to think about and people we all need to talk to. I promise that I will be back and that we will continue our discussion. Perhaps tomorrow. And with this new power I apparently have, I might be able to come up with something that might make it easier for us to communicate. Does that sound good to you?

Twilight shook herself again and gave a nervous chuckle. “Uh,… yes… yes that sounds like a good idea. You… you go talk with your people and we’ll… we’ll pick this up tomorrow. In the morning. At 8:00. Does that work for you?” The Alicorn was trying and failing to make her voice sound calm and collected. So much to do! So much to learn! So many questions! So many implications! Would Equestria ever be the same?!

Yes. I will be available then. Hopefully. I will have the window here in the lab again tomorrow at 8:00.

There was a pause, then Stephanie added a small addendum.

What time is it for you right now?

Spike checked the clock. “It’s about 11:30 in the morning. Almost lunch time.”

Another splash of surprise colored Stephanie’s faint vibes.

That’s actually very close to the time it is here for us. Very well. Tomorrow at 8. I will see you then.

Without further ado, the mysterious and magical window disappeared, zipping toward and then through the wall of the castle as if it was made of cloud.

Stephanie quickly re-positioned the view of her “camera,” leaving Ponyville far afield and then rising high into the sky. From her new vantage, the Equestrian town was quite small and clouds lazily drifted by. She had thought at first to close the program, but had quickly thought better of it. She didn’t know if she would be able to re-establish contact if the window was closed. She hoped that from the window’s new location, the ponies would not be aware of the strange connection or her continued presence.

She sank back in her seat, breathing a huge sigh. However, she did not relax. Her mind was going a million miles a minute, trying to process everything that had just happened. Again and again she tried to reason that it had all been a dream or prank, but a glance at the still open window shattered her rationalizations each time.

After a few minutes of floundering contemplation and getting her mind into a semblance of order, Stephaney sat up and began to go to work. She minimized the strange window and opened a new project; a blank and clean project rather than a saved one. To Stephanie’s relief, the new window behaved normally. She could work in the program without interfering with the Equestrian window.

Next, she picked up her phone and dialed a very important number. “Meghan!” Stephanie said after a brief dial tone, “I need you and Jayson to get down to my office right away. Something… well, something big has happened!” There was a confused pause on the other end of the line and then a concerned question. “No, nothing’s wrong. At least, not yet. But… well, I think you’re going to have to see it to believe it. Heck, I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself.” Another pause, then Stephanie nodded. “Okay, but please be quick. And see if you can get any of the other senior staff in here too. This is… huge!” With that, she hung up.

That task taken care of, Stephanie sighed and slumped in her chair again. After a short spell of quiet, she sat back up and began to fiddle with the blank project, working the tools in an attempt to craft something she could use in the meeting she had promised to have with the ponies the next day. A stone settled in her gut as that thought percolated through her head. She wouldn’t be sleeping tonight, that was for certain.