Chapter 2: Another World
Inkblot woke up with his head leaned against his desk. He was dead tired, and the morning sun hurt his eyes as he opened them and surveyed his desk. The first thing he saw was his favorite blue quill, which was right in front of his eyes. Underneath his head was the note that he had started to write the night before. Finally, in front of him on the desk, was the strange device he had picked up in the bushes.
The colt closed his eyes and tried to remember the night he had. He remembered the attacking Ursa Minor. He remembered Trixie coming to town. He remembered Trixie's kiss. He remembered the two ponies arguing in the bushes. He remembered picking up the laptop. They didn't take his memory.
Inkblot silenty cursed himself for falling asleep like that. If the HP guys found him, they wouldn't have had a problem erasing his memory. While he was disappointed in himself, he was also relieved that he still had his memory of the events. That meant they didn't know it was him. For now, he was in the clear.
The colt looked down at the page he had started writing before he fell asleep. After a minute of analysis, the writer concluded that it did a sufficient job summarizing the night before. It wasn't exactly lengthy, only covering half of a page, but it got its message across. He put his note underneath his bed. It wasn't a brilliant hiding spot, but it would work for the time being.
"Now, let's see if I can find out how you work," Inkblot said to the laptop. The pale pony used his magic to open the lid of the foreign device. The black screen of the laptop was dormant and unchanging, but he kept in mind that the first time he found it, it took a while to start. So he waited.
After about a minute of waiting, the unicorn realized it was taking longer than it should. Maybe he had to push some of the buttons in order to get a response. So he brutishly and randomly pressed the buttons with his hooves, as if he was trying to squash a bucket of grapes.
The unicorn was right. The screen lit up subtly from black to a very dark grey. The top half flashed a symbol that was unmistakibly a lightning bolt. Then it returned to the unresponsive black.
Inkblot tried pressing the buttons again, but there was no response from the laptop. There wasn't even the lightning bolt from earlier. The alien device seemed dead.
The colt assessed the situation. The laptop flashed a lightning bolt, and then turned off. Maybe it needed lightning in order to work. Sure, it didn't make a lot of sense, but it was a possibility, and other possibilities weren't rearing their heads.
Now how would he get lightning? He could ask somepony on the weather team to pull up a thundercloud and give a jolt. But then that pegasus would see the laptop and would have to have his memory wiped, too. Inkblot didn't want to have anypony else's memory cleared because of him. Not to mention that pegasus would probably tell someone else about it. From there, the news would spread like the plague, when Inkblot would've preferred to deal with this problem himself. The last thing the town needed was the chaos of knowing that they were being spied on.
Maybe there was a spell that could create lightning. That was a safer idea that would involve less spreading of the news. Worst case scenario was that there wasn't a spell for creating lightning and he could try something else.
So it was settled. Some time during the day, he would drop by the library and see if there was a lightning spell. As Inkblot planned his day, his stomach churned. First thing was first. He had to get himself some breakfast. Knowing his dad, he was in for a good meal.
The black-maned unicorn closed the lid of the laptop and hid it under his bed with the note as he ran out of his door. He could already smell what his dad was making.
"Hey dad! Is that what I think it is?" Inkblot called down the stairs.
The gruff voice of his father responded with "Yep! Toasted Bermuda Grass Sandwich! Your favorite!" as Inkblot made his way down the stairs. When he arrived at the bottom of the stairs, he went immediately to the kitchen, led through the halls by his nose. The unicorn was led straight to the table where he had a seat at one of three chairs. His dad was still preparing the food in the kitchen. "You're up a little late, aren't ya?" the brown stallion said.
The unicorn closed his eyes and inhaled deeply from his nose to smell the sandwiches. "Yeah. I had a bit of a late night last night."
His father chuckled as he turned around, using his magic to bring the sandwiches with him. "Really? I'm sure I'd be up late too if I were doin' what you were doin'," he said while stroing his messy beard.
The younger unicorn was confused and worried at the same time. There was no way he could have seen the laptop. Then again, his dad's bedroom window overlooked the front door. Inkblot took the safe approach and played dumb. "What are you talking about?"
His dad saw right through him. "I saw you follow that show pony when she ran out of town. It's okay. You don't have to hide the fact you like mares. So long as you didn't...you know-"
"Dad!" Inkblot was blushing furiously. He was relieved, but it was still pretty embarassing. "We didn't, like, make out or anything!"
The unicorn flinched as his dad wiped his cheek. When he retracted his hoof, a visible blue smudge was seen on it. "Yep. You keep tellin' yourself that. Also, you might wanna check your face for lipstick next time," the old gray-maned pony said with another chuckle.
As Inkblot took the first bite of his sandwich, desperately trying to avoid the subject at hand, the sound of the door opening echoed down the hall. The call of a little filly followed. "Inkblot! Headline!"
The old stallion answered the call. "In the kitchen, Snapshot!" A couple seconds passed before a little light blue earth pony came running in the room. She took a seat at the third chair. "Hey boys! How's it going?" she said with her ever so sweet voice.
Headline went to the stove to get the drinks he had left next to it. "I thought you said somethin' about not hangin' out with us stupid boys yesterday."
Inkblot joined in on the accusation. "Yeah. You wanted to spend more time with your fillyfriends."
"Yeah, but...um," she paused mid-sentence to fix a hair out of place in her straightened white mane. "...you guys always make the best breakfasts."
Headline gave another one of his signature chuckles. "Well, you're always welcome here. And believe me, you've been here so many times, you're basically family."
The little filly let out a big smile. "Thanks, you guys. By the way, my mom said that I was allowed to give you guys my pictures for the Ponyville Post."
The pale unicorn clapped his hooves in celebration. "Wow! That's great news!"
The older pony wore a look of concern. "You can take pictures all you want, but I can't pay you for it. You're too young. In fact, why is someone as young as you workin' anyway? Aren't your parents concerned about you goin' to work?"
"Well, ever since I got my cutie mark yesterday, I've been positive that my special talent is being a photographer, which is super, cuz I LOVE taking pictures." She showed off her new cutie mark. It was a camera with its bulb flashing. "I figured that I'd use my skills to help out Ponyville, and since I'm friends with you guys, here would be a perfect place to do that. So, I told this to my mom and dad and they agreed with me."
The old stallion nodded. "Alright. You can work here, but again, I can't pay you for it. Child labor laws and all."
"Yippee!" The blue filly jumped for joy, but stopped quickly to make sure her mane wasn't messed up.
Inkblot sighed before he asked, "So, about the new cutie mark. How's it doing?"
"Oh my gosh! It is so great! Everypony I know LOVES it!! In fact, Cheerilee told me that my cutie mark represents cherishing the greatest moments of my life!"
Inkblot smiled. He loved hearing his little friend talk about the joys that came with getting a cutie mark.
"And then, yesterday after class, Sweetie Belle and I tried to guess what her cutie mark was gonna look like. By the way, what would a forgetful cutie mark look like?"
The black-maned colt's ears perked up. His father responded to the filly with a question. "That's a peculiar question. Why do you ask?"
"Because I made this joke about how her cutie mark would be something forgetful since she forgot about how I got my cutie mark, which was really weird because she was there. Anyway, I said it would be a goldfish, cuz she once told me they only had three second memories."
Inkblot almost spat out the bite of sandwich in his mouth. The voice from the night before resounded in his mind. They said one pony was losing its memory, and that pony wouldn't remember ANYTHING that happened that day.
Less than a second later, the unicorn was out of his seat and running for the front door. His alarmed parent yelled, "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to the library! I'll be back soon!" the running pony called back. He had to find out what was going on, and he had to find out now.
After a few long minutes of running, Inkblot finally made it to the library. He used to go there all the time to read when he was a kid, and sometimes still went there for writing tips for his articles in the Ponyville Post. Although he goes there from time to time, he hadn't been there since the new librarian started working there. Inkblot was curious to see what he or she was like.
But that was at the back corner of the unicorn's mind. His mind was racing about what he had just heard. Apparently, the HIP or whatever guys took the memory of an innocent little filly. That was nearly intolerable. He had to find out why they were there, and the secret was in that strange device he found on the ground.
Inkblot approached the door and gave it a couple knocks between pants and gasps. Exhausted as he was, he was determined to get power to the laptop. Fortunately, the door was opened only a couple seconds after the anxious pony knocked.
The little purple dragon that opened the door looked up at the unicorn. "Welcome to the-"
"I need to find a lightning spell!" Inkblot interrupted. Despite how tired he was, he still managed to sound urgent.
The baby dragon flinched in surprise. After a brief pause, he yelled. "Hey, Twilight! Some guy looking for a book!"
A mare's voice followed, "Alright, Spike I'm on my way downstairs." Inkblot saw the lavender unicorn as she descended the staircase. She had a purple mane with a hot pink highlight, and a cutie mark with a star on it. The colt knew exactly who she was.
"You!" he said involuntarily. How dare she make herself look better than the Great and Powerful Trixie? How dare she humiliate Trixie in front of all of Ponyville?
Twilight wore a look of confusion. "Me?" she asked innocently.
Before he could let out his onslaught of accusation, the pale unicorn thought about what he was going to say. Apparently, this neighsayer was the librarian, so if he wanted to learn that lightning spell, throwing insults at her wouldn't be the best idea. Putting his priorities in order and his grudges aside, he tried to recover from his previous statement. "You... uh... must be... the new librarian! I've heard a lot of great things about you!"
Twilight blushed as the little reptile in front of her started talking. "You mean like how she's the talented unicorn in all of Ponyville!"
"Spike! I told you to stop showing me off!" The mare's cheeks were still red as she scolded the baby dragon.
But Spike continued anyway. "Oh, come on! You just defeated an Ursa Minor last night! You might be one of the greatest unicorns in all-"
"Anyway, I need to find a lightning spell." Inkblot interrupted before he followed his urge to kick the dragon in the face.
This elicited another puzzled look from the librarian. "A lightning spell? What do you need a lightning spell for?"
Inkblot suddenly felt stupid. He forgot to find an answer to this question. He had to draw an answer from out of nowhere. "Because it would be cool."
Twilight gave the colt an unimpressed stare. Spike also gave him a stare, but it was one of wonder. Twilight spoke first. "Well, lightning isn't exactly a force to be tampered with."
Her little friend cut in. "Are you kidding?! The guy is right! Shooting lightning would be so cool!"
The pale unicorn added to his fabrication. "And my friend is a pegasus. We've been fighting about who's better: unicorns or pegasi. And I thought since they had lightning clouds, we could have lightning, too."
"And just imagine shooting lightning! It'd be like a superpower!" the purple dragon added.
Twilight groaned. "Fine. But it won't be an explosive lightning bolt like you'd find from a storm cloud. It'll just be a little jolt," she said as she used her magic to retrieve a book from one of the shelves.
A little jolt would most likely be enough. A box that small probably couldn't take a lightning strike. "That'll do."
As she placed the heavy book on his back (causing him to buckle slightly), the librarian said, "I believe your spell is on page...1367. If it's not there, try the index."
Inkblot took the unneeded weight off his back using his magic. "Thank you. When should I bring this back?" he asked with a smile.
Twilight returned the friendly smile. "Whenever you're done with it."
The colt gave a neighborly wave before saying "See ya!" and trotting away. He didn't get the chance to see the cheery mare wave back. Once he was far enough from the tree house, he uttered something under his breath.
Inkblot was positive he was alone in his room. If anypony saw what he was doing it would mean their memory would be wiped, and he didn't want that happening. Either way, he wanted to keep this to himself until he had more information in what was going on.
He opened the goliath of a book called "Directory of Spells" in front of him. The thing must have had at least 3000 pages. After flipping through entries entitled "Teleportation", "Flower Generation", "Telepathy", "Creating Wings", and many others that he didn't even know there were spells for, he finally came across page 1367: "Electricity".
It was a very simple spell. In fact, it took the monochrome unicorn less than a minute to learn, and he was terrible at learning new spells. After only a couple minutes, he was shooting sparks like a master.
Once he was confident in his new magical ability, Inkblot opened up the laptop to see if it would respond. After mashing a couple buttons, it was evident that the device didn't even have enough power to show the mysterious lightning bolt symbol it showed earlier.
He turned the box on its side, showing him a plethora of little holes, each one having its own symbol. After spying a headphone symbol and symbols that he couldn't even guess what they meant, he found the lightning bolt symbol.
"Here goes nothing!"
He released a set up sparks into the hole, making a quiet sizzling sound. It didn't sound harmful. It sounded like it might have been working. Checking to see if the hypothesis was true, the unicorn reopened the laptop to see if it would respond. The laptop's dark screen remained dark for a moment, only to reveal the lightning bolt symbol once again. That was a good sign. It meant that the laptop got a bit of power from it. He just needed to give it more power.
Inkblot gave it five sparks this time. He figured it ought to be enough. He looked to the screen, hoping for a response other than the lightning bolt. Fortunately, he got one. Like the night before, the screen jumped to life. He was back to the white screen labeled "Gmail". It looked the same as it did when he first booted it to life, except there was a message with thick words: "To the Pony on The Laptop".
His eyes darted to the message. He needed to read that, but he didn't know how to use the laptop. So he inspected the bottom half of the device. There was the field of letters, numbers and symbols, and the small indention with two buttons that made an oval. Why was there an indent?
He put his hoof on the indention and felt around its ridges. The crater didn't feel any different from the rest of the surface, which confused him. As the unicorn continued rubbing, he checked the screen to see if there was a response. At first, he didn't notice anything, but after a couple seconds he saw a little thingy flying around. He stopped moving his hoof, and as he did, the thing stopped. It looked like a tiny, white, lopsided triangle with a stumpy little tail. He stroked his hoof downward to see how the thing would respond. As he did, the thing went down, too. Then, he got an idea.
Inkblot used his hoof to drag the thingy over to the words "To the Pony on the Laptop". He looked down to the indention again, and tried pressing the button under the crater. When he pressed the left button with his hoof, the entire line turned blue. Aside from that, nothing happened. Inkblot's deductive reasoning led him to try the right button. When he pressed that button, a box appeared next to the thingy. It said things like "Open", "Open in New Tab", "Open in New Page", "Properties", "Copy Link Address", "Save Image As...", and others that just reading them made the unicorn's mind hurt. Confused by all of the choices, he figured "Open" would be the best choice. As he moved the thingy over to the word, the "Open" turned into a blue rectangle with "Open" in white. Instinctively, the colt pressed the left button.
Suddenly, the entire screen went white. Inkblot nearly panicked, afraid he had messed it up. Fortunately for him, the screen showed the Gmail screen again. This time there was a message visible.
"Hello. If you are reading this, it means that you have a basic understanding of how the computer (what you're using) works. Not only that, but you're reading it before I have to delete it (can't let anyone else read this, or I'll be in more trouble than I'm in already). That is beyond incredible, but that isn't the reason I'm sending you this message. I'm sending you this message to let you know of some things.
First, I should introduce myself. My name is Steven Franklin. I was the one being attacked last night. I quit my job last night, and the reason he took me quitting so seriously was because of the laptop you are holding right now. I won't go into too many details since I could be found at any point in time and I want to have this sent to you. (by the way if you need to move the screen to read the rest of this move the cursot (the white thing) over to te side of the screen and drag the blue bar)
Now, one important thing you should know about us is we are not ponies. In fact, I'm not even sure if our species is known in your world. It was by sheer coincidence yours existed in ours. We are called humans.
Now I suppose you have questions:
How did I get here?
While our scientists were playing aroun in the labs, they accidentally found an odd sort of wormhole, moving objects to an alternate universe. Recently, they have sent humans through a wormhole via a remote control hologram. You're world to us is some sort of a parallel universe that is still very unknown to us. (I apologize if you don't understand some of these terms. I hope one day I can explain this to you better.)
Next you're wondering, why is the computer important?"
Inkblot, transfixed on the message, moved the cursot (now that he knew what it was called) to the blue bar on the right, and pressed the left button to drag it down, exposing the rest of the message.
"The reason that computer is so important us because it's the way to get home. Put simply, the computer locates where my hologram is and takes the hologram back to my home. If you don't understand, don't worry. It's difficult to understand.
Who was the guy strangling me?
That was my former partner, Hopkins. He works for the same company I used to work for, and we had slightly different opinions. He's gone now, don't worry. When the HPIRT came to wipe the memory of Pony 167, he went back to our world. I personally have no intention of going back yet, but either way I can't without the laptop.
Who is the HPIRT?
I know you're probably intimidated by the acronym, so I'll start with this. HPIRT stands for Human Pony-"
Suddenly, the screen went completely black. Inkblot was so focused on the message, he nearly flinched. Then the dark screen showed the lightning bolt symbol. The colt cursed the computer as he gave it another set of sparks.
The laptop reacted to the sparks immediately, showing a bright white screen. He was back at Gmail, but the screen show a message that nearly enraged him.
"[MESSAGE HAS BEEN DELETED]"
Inkblot let out an audible groan. The answer was right in front of his face, only to be yanked away immediately. Human Pony IRT. What did that IRT mean? What did it mean?! His angered spiked every time he asked himself.
After his anger died down a little, he thought about the rest of Franklin's message. One thing that hit him hard was that Franklin and Hopkins weren't ponies! They were those human thingies, or whatever. It was like an alien invasion. But wait, they weren't really invading, were they? They were just sending holograms, whatever those were. Were holograms like death robots or something? Then again, Franklin seemed friendly. Inkblot didn't dismiss the idea of an invasion, but put it in the back of his mind.
And apparently the laptop he was holding was incredibly important. Returning it wasn't even an option, since he didn't know where to find Franklin. Besides, Franklin wanted him to know about his world, so he may as well learn about it through the laptop.
Suddenly, the colt remembered something. He got his saddlebag out and packed it up with bits and snacks. He folded the laptop and put it away into a concealed pocket within the saddlebags. It was better to take it with him than to leave it at his home unguarded. When he thought about it, he didn't need that much more.
Inkblot ran down the stairs and called to his dad, "Hey! I'll be back on Sunday! Goin on a trip!"
His father gave a nonchalant, but loud response. "Alright, just be sure you have your article done when you get home."
The article! Inkblot had forgotten about that completely. "Don't worry. It'll be done!"
"Where are you goin' anyway?"
Inkblot opened the door. "Canterlot. There's a show tomorrow night. Tickets in Canterlot sell out quick and it's a long trip. See ya!" He closed the door behind him and went on his way to Canterlot.