The night wind howled when the illuminated moon appeared in the dark-blue sky, a night that would even bring Luna to her knees. But even such a beautiful celestial body like this isn't all about staring high above the heavens and dazzle at the glistening stars. After all, you can thank the never-ending progress of globalization which so happens to block that precious starry night with its smog.
The smokey cubicle apartment rooftops filled every air space of Neighpon with their rusted satellite dishes and cheap, crooked TV antennas. Neon signs flickered continuously while worker surveillance drones roam the streets for any trouble makers. Truly the blend of old, reliable technology and sophisticated ones is not at all new in the eyes of a Kirin. The citizens of Neighpon, a genetic pool of hooves and scales, are the ones usually with the upper hand on gadgets and ideas in making the world a better place. But times went rough, and the understanding of progress is either too quick to keep up or too demanding without any planning of technological/magical ingenuity. The use of magic has been steadily decreasing due to this and even then, the trend of using it has become quite impractical. If it weren't for that certain "incident" no one wants to remember hadn't happened, then the kirin wouldn't have any problem of going back to the basics.
Neighpon is now just piled up one building after another with only patches of its famous cherry blossom trees, one of the results of Terrarum Conglomerate's over-funded but poorly-maintained international renovation projects. Much similar to Canterlot 3, the city of Tokyo Prime is structurally the same, considering it was the Neighponese government that did all the maintenance after the conglomerate handed it over to them. At the vast, expanded center of the hub stood the shining white Obelisk, the third tallest structure in the world and the last remnant of Celestia's Equestrian Cooperation Pact. It may also be a reminder that even in the great struggle of ponykind, there is still a will to persevere what is left for the benefit of the future; the "Future", if there ever will be another. Criss-cross sections of steel bars expanded for miles, supporting this giant city hub and its sprawling inhabitants even though the dreaded rust started to kick in. Through these bars zipped the subway trains of the old Tokyo underground, deteriorating but still fully functional, though the Mag-Lev installation make the train rides much more seamless. Passengers of the tram left and right and standing minded their own little worlds either with their pocket booklets of classic drama or the indecent "tail lifters" or their trendy 10-in-1 gadgets with a 2-year warranty. A female kirin sat on a corner, her hood on and earphones plugged. Her blue coat from her snout and and short antlers were the only protruded features from her nearly covered body. She rubbed her hooves in a nervous fashion while listening to her tune by White Rabbit Tattoo. She took a glance at the glitched Holo-Ads:
<Tired? Relax now at Fuji Springs Holo Spa!>
<The all-new EV-68 Retinal Augment! Now available for pre-order!>
<Order your A.R.D now at your local cybernetics retailer!>
<My Little Kitsune! Every Mondays and Saturdays 7-12 noon. Only on DTV!>
She swear that every time she looked at those stupid screens, she would almost get a seizure from the too many colorful images. She rubbed her eyes and covered it before she could vomit.
<This is the Jinkeshi subway line bound for...Shibuya...Shibuya...the doors on the right side will open...Please change here for the Yumiko line and the Yamato express line.>
The seemingly dead passengers sprung up to their feet as they heard the intercom. The Mag-Lev tram stopped at the station and opened its doors, passengers swiftly brisk walked in and out of it. The blue kirin followed suit, struggling to get out of the clamor.
<Excuse me...sorry...umm, pardon me...> The kirin finally breathed as she was out of the sea of passengers. She brushed her dark-blue mane with light-blue streaks and fixed her red sash promptly. The look on her face was shivering with cold sweat; she was late no doubt. Even if she tried to fasten her bag with her teeth while brisk trotting, the weight of her body plus the added encumbrance only made her lose momentum. Every Holo-Ad she brushes through only blurs her vision and perception; pictures of peaceful zen gardens and heavenly streams of fresh spring water doesn't help at all.
<Oh my! I'm sorry! Sorry, I didn't see you->
<No no! It's fine.>
The kirin tried to wrap her head around at the sight of a dark stallion. He had a white snout hooves, so not completely dark. The kirin knew obviously that he is a foreigner, but the tone of his voice felt very fluent. She even stammered for awhile after observing his body structure: tall, bold, strong, definitely a good choice for a suitable mate. But she neither could find the right words to reply back to the stallion nor the right comments about his handsome features. The stallion helped her pick up the scattered remains of her bag.
<Here, let me help you with that,> he said with such flow of words.
<Uh...T-t-thank you...> She said, feeling trembled and quite flimsy. "AH! I-I-I mean t-tank you..."
The kirin felt ashamed as she tried to recover from her words. It was very insulting for her to just go ahead and reply politely in the form of a completely alien language to somepony new. She didn't want this to happen and not look at herself. But the stallion didn't throw any crippling judgement or criticism at the kirin. A light chuckle escaped his mouth, causing the kirin's deep blue face to redden quickly.
"Hehe. You're welcome, miss. <But you should be careful where you're going next time>" He said fluently again. This is really making the kirin feel uncomfortable. She knew she's wasting his time but she still froze. She eventually got back to her senses.
<I-I'm sorry. I must go!> She darted away, grabbing her bag.
<Uh...ok...bye?> He said, bewildered.
<STUPID STUPID STUPID! You just had to talk like that! Always so clumsy! No...no. Must focus and get there on time.> She continued to gallop while desperately gasping for air. It wasn't long for the stallion to see her blend again with the endless streams of people going back and forth.
"BWA HAHAHAHAHA!" Rainbow Dash began to burst in tears and even cringe at what she heard.
"RAINBOW! This isn't funny! I'm telling you this can change the lives of many!"
"Oh ok, sure! I'll just leave you to your science-y stuff and "wait" until its done!"
"NOT. HELPING. DASH!" It was supposed to be a nice lunch with friends at The White Saddle, their favorite restaurant in Ponyville. If it weren't for Rainbow Dash's constant teasing, it would've been much more subtle and peaceful.
"Really Rainbow Dash! Can't you at least show some respect at her decision." Rarity tried to keep things calm and in control. After all, they are in a public place with many ponies watching out for any suspicions, knowing how Ponyville reacts to such things.
"Aww I was just messing around Twi! I think it's good idea. I mean not looking at how geeky the stuff you're gonna be facing. But if it means bringing friendship everywhere, I'm totally down with it!" Even though hearing the word "Science" was too much for her, Rainbow Dash felt supportive for her friend, but mostly eager that Twilight would spread stories about her awesomeness. "Eh, What was his name again?" she asked.
Twilight looked the calling card given to her. "Nimbus. He said I'd be great asset to their team."
"Is he cuuute?" Rainbow Dash teased while raising her eye brows.
"I'm not gonna answer that question." Twilight bluntly replied.
"Well Ah think its a mighty fine idea if ya'll be part of it." Applejack said.
"It would. But..." Twilight cut off what she said with the shift of tone.
"Is something wrong?" Fluttershy said with her usual concerned voice.
"I can already see it now. Traveling beyond Equestria and exploring new bounds while doing field work, meeting new people. I get to be part of a majority that aims to innovate and create possibilities no other pony has neither thought of nor dared made. But to think that I'll be investing a considerable amount of time at it. I'm not even sure if I'll ever come back and visit here." Twilight knew she couldn't just abandoned her responsibilities as princess, but she would be busy as ever just like her previous study habits back in Canterlot; no time for friends just pure research with only people interested in the same background. The whole feeling just made her sad and conscious to even avoid such things.
"Uhh...Hey! If it makes you feel any better, we can try to visit you from time to time." Pinkie Pie suggested with reassurance.
"Thanks Pinkie. I just hope I do well on my first day."
"Aww don't be modest Twilight. You're the best brains Ponyville has!" Spike reassured her as well.
"Yeah! I bet you can spread friendship faster than Starlight did when she was an equal flank!" Rainbow Dash got glare from Applejack instead of a laugh.
Twilight smiled at the support from her friends. Besides Spike and her parents, they're one of the only reasons she kept on striding to push forward and even try new things. "You really think I should go?" She said still unsure about leaving the only place she considered home.
"Twilight, even in planning parties, you have to take risks! If the client wants balloons but you ran out, I take initiative and think of something else. That pony may either love it or hate it, but at least you tried!"
"But whatever happens out there, just remember that we'll always be here for ya, sugar cube. No matter what." She softly placed her hoof on Twilight's.
"We've come a long way, Twilight. But we're all still here aren't we?" Fluttershy wanted to make her feel company but the conflicts in her thoughts were too much.
7:00 PM, back in Twilight's castle
Twilight lay down on her bed, levitating the calling card in front of her. This was it. Another big responsibility much more meaningful for her role as princess besides reading a plethora of books a thousand times over. She may need to hold her usual book delivery from Celestia, but knowing that this project she will undertake will be something new entirely. She recalled her life again: a young purple unicorn filly, daughter of a simple book binder and an author, with talent and promise before she became the princess's personal student. She had dreams of being a teacher or a scribe for Celestia during her studies. But being a princess in the end after her time in Ponyville was just overload for her. The castle looked great, but at the cost of a simple tree house that meant so much for her. "Sigh. I miss that place already." She looked at the card again, flipping it mid air slowly, and read it.
ALICORN ENTERPRISES: Recreating Possibilities
This was it. THIS was it.
She touched the card. A scratchy electronic voice spoke.
"HELLO AND GOOD EVENING TO YOU! MY NAME IS A.L.I.C.E. YOUR PERSONAL ASSISTANT AND GUIDE TO YOUR NEXT STEP ONTO THE FUTURE. SHOULD YOU WISH TO PROCEED AND UNDERTAKE THIS ENDEAVOR, PLEASE REPLY: YES OR NO?"
Choices, as if that would make Twilight comfortable. She sighed, wanting to deal with it now and put it aside.
"Yes," she replied.
"THANK YOU FOR YOUR REPLY. PROCESSING INPUT. PLEASE WAIT......................................................"
At this time, waiting for her is now a subtle way of torture. She wondered if she's either taking her princess duties to a whole different level or if she's making a huge mistake and needs to turn back while she still can. She couldn't do that; she's doing this for her friends, for her family, the welfare of everyone. She can't turn back now.
"YOUR INPUT HAS BEEN ACCEPTED. PLEASE LOOK AT THE CARD." Twilight followed her instruction.
"SCANNING FACIAL RECOGNITION"
With a pulse scanner coming out of the card and stamping it on Twilight's face that seemed to read her mind, she threw the card as if a spider crawled on her shoulder and backed away in shock.
"MATCH: TWILIGHT SPARKLE. SCANNING CURRENT LOCATION"
Twilight's room became a dazzling light show when a pulse light field expanded out of the calling card. Twilight is still shaking after what happened and what's happening.
"CURRENT LOCATION SECURED. ISOLATING FREQUENCY........"
Twilight nervously picked up the card and read it.
***WARNING! THE FOLLOWING RECORDED MESSAGE IS FOR YOUR EYES ONLY AND WILL ONLY BE PLAYED ONCE. IT IS A FEDERAL AND INTERNATIONAL CRIME TO SHARE OR DISTRIBUTE THIS MEDIA WITHOUT ANY PROPER AUTHORIZATION. VIOLATORS WILL BE PUNISHED TO THE FULL EXTENT OF THE LAW***
She felt a cold sweat running down her face and a sharp tingle on her spine. She quickly got out of bed, sealed the curtains, locked the door and even barged it with an entire bookshelf. With no Spike lingering or eavesdropping, she turned her study lamp to see what happens next.
"FREQUENCY SECURED. AP READINGS STABILIZED. COMMENCING PLAYBACK...."
A very familiar blue pegasus flashed onto the card.
"A very wise choice you have made, miss Sparkle. ALICORN Enterprises is pleased to have another addition on their team. Please be reminded that this conversation and any form of communication from here on out will remain disclosed. Enclosed on this card is a map needed for you to reach our main facility in Fillydelphia. Please follow the indicated instructions; any further questions can be consulted by the card as well. I will have an associate meet with you at the rendezvous point. Please pack what you need, for the trip will be quite long. But rest assured that all required necessities will be complementary upon your arrival. MENTIS will be our most innovative and ground-breaking project yet, and with you helping out, many lives will be saved. This is proof that people like you still exist in this world. People like you aren't gone. You're still here. You can still do great things. And you can have the chance to help us change the world for the better, forever. Think about it.
The screen blacked out "PLAYBACK DELETED. DO NOT LOSE THE CARD ON YOUR WAY TO ALICORN ENTERPRISES. HAVE A SAFE TRIP! AND MAY THE FATHER OF UNDERSTANDING GUIDE US."
Twilight sighed, wondering if this whole thing will turn out fine. Like going to your first day on the job, she can only assume that there will be bumps on the way. I can do this. It'll be worth it. Mom. Dad. She went straight to her writing desk, took out a quill and paper, and started scribbling a letter for them.
DE TOG DET