-IceMan-

Mad Science: Chapter 2

Oct 11th, 2015 (edited)
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  1. Mad Science
  2. By IceMan
  3.  
  4. Chapter 2: Electrostatics
  5.  
  6. >In front of you stands a green armored being, or well, mostly green.
  7. >On its head sits a green helmet with a slightly transparent green visor.
  8. >The torso, legs, and boots of the suit are black, with a crimson stripe down the middle of the chest plate, but the arms are the same shade of green as the helmet.
  9. >Behind the visor, you can faintly make out two searching eyes, eyelids slightly narrowed, focussed and piercing.
  10. >“Alien species?” says Fluttershy.
  11. >“Human?” says Rainbow Dash.
  12. >“Parallel universe?” says Rarity.
  13. >“Anonymous?” says Applejack.
  14. >Your five friends are all staring at you, as you were most familiar with three of these things, having travelled to an alternate reality through a magical portal once, to a world of human doppelgangers.
  15. >“Yes, that’s what I said,” the being replies. “If you aren’t going to do anything except echo me, then I have nothing to gain from you, unless you have some answers for me or resources I can use to return to my home universe.”
  16. >You think for a moment.
  17. “We can help you,” you say. “But, you’re going to have to come with me. Girls, you can go. I don’t think he’s a threat.”
  18. >Your five friends and the Cutie Mark Crusaders nod, and then go off towards whatever they were doing before.
  19. >You start walking through town towards the library.
  20. >The creature holds in place for a moment, then takes a long stride to catch up with you.
  21. >“Alright. Let’s start simple then,” the creature says. “Where am I?”
  22. >His (at least, you assume it’s a his, based on the pitch) voice is a bit muffled and tinny, presumably from having to travel through whatever device allows him to speak through his armored suit.
  23. “You are in the town of Ponyville, Equestria.”
  24. >“Who are you?”
  25. “I am Twilight Sparkle.”
  26. >“Who were those eight other beings back there?”
  27. “Those were my friends. Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie, plus the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Sweetie Belle, Applebloom, and Scootaloo.”
  28. >“Why does this universe have the same laws of physics as mine?”
  29. “Should I be able to answer that question?”
  30. >“Considering that the number of alternate universes is infinite, and I travelled at random to one of them, yes.”
  31. “Well, I can’t. I’m sorry.”
  32. >“Where are you taking me?”
  33. “My home. It’s that large tree up ahead.”
  34. >You point to the large oak tree that makes up the Golden Oaks Library.
  35. >“What do you plan on doing with me?”
  36. “Just some simple experiments. Nothing harmful.”
  37. >“Are you a scientist?”
  38. “Of sorts.”
  39. >You climb up the stairs and open the door with your magic.
  40. “Come on in, but please try not to get any multiversal dust or anything on the books. It’d be a pain to get that off, I’d imagine.”
  41.  
  42. >“You can’t keep that helmet on forever, you know.”
  43. >You are standing in the basement of a large oak tree which, while still being kept alive, has somehow been fashioned into a library and domicile for your host in this universe, a small purple unicorn named Twilight Sparkle.
  44. >After learning from your brief monologue that you were a human, Twilight practically immediately whisked you back to her home, the Golden Oaks Library (as the sign near the front door read), and began what you assumed was an examination.
  45. >She had briefly introduced you to her friends, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie, and what you presumed was her servant, a purple and green dragon named Spike.
  46. >You have long accepted that there would be differences between your universe and this new one, but the similarities are far more uncanny.
  47. >The fact that a creature similar to the lizard-like monsters of legend, if miniaturized, called exactly the same thing as in your universe exists in this universe is a bit curious.
  48. >Of course, it could just be the result of rolling an infinitely-sided die.
  49. >The upper floor of the library was filled from floor to ceiling with wall-to-wall bookshelves, stacked with thousands of books.
  50. >A small table, also covered in books, but with a wooden bust of a horse's head in the center, sat in the middle of the room.
  51. >Two small staircases led up into a loft area and down into the basement.
  52. >The basement is dark and damp, the brown wood having changed to a more reddish hue.
  53. >Several pieces of what appear to medical equipment lie around, along with various other electronics.
  54. >Neatly labelled cabinets and drawers line the walls.
  55. >Twilight now seemed to be examining you, though what exactly she was doing was a mystery to you.
  56. >Her horn was glowing, producing some form of energy, but of what type you were uncertain.
  57. >Unfortunately for her (and possibly fortunately for you), your hazard suit was preventing her from making much progress.
  58. “My hazard suit is capable of keeping me alive for eight hours, until the air supply runs out, so long as the laws of physics of this reality remain compatible with its function,” you say.
  59. >“I can safely assure you the laws of reality aren’t changing any time soon, but eight hours is not much time,” Twilight says.
  60. “If the alternative is instant death, then eight hours is plenty of time. There are an infinite number of unknown factors that could immediately destroy me. I would rather preserve my existence for a few brief moments than give up immediately. But, while we still have time, I might be able to determine if this reality is safe. So, first of all, what exactly are you trying to do to me?”
  61. >“I’m examining your biological characteristics to see if you are similar to other humans that I have seen.”
  62. >You pause for a moment.
  63. >Other humans?
  64. “There are other humans here?” you ask.
  65. >“No. Not here. In an alternate reality that I have visited on a few occasions. But any human that travelled from that reality would be transfigured into an equine form via the magic of the portal. Clearly, you are not a pony of some kind, so you did not travel through this portal,” Twilight answers.
  66. “And where is this portal? Is this town just some kind technological backwater?”
  67. >“The portal is a magical mirror in the Crystal Empire. Its exit is the reflective base of a statue outside of Canterlot High.”
  68. >Behind the visor of your hazard suit, you merely blink.
  69. “What? How?”
  70. >You process a little more, just as Twilight begins to answer.
  71. “A ‘magical’ mirror? What exactly does that mean? Surely you know how it works; it can’t just be ‘magical.’ How does it produce enough energy to breach through dimensions? Mirrors themselves cannot transfer things between dimensions. You need large amounts of energy to tear holes in space-time, not simple reflections of electromagnetic radiation, the kind of energy only possible to create by annihilating the very building blocks of my reality. And why does it lead to a statue outside of a high school?”
  72. >“We don’t know how the mirror works. The enchantments used to imbue it with its powers were lost, presumed destroyed,” Twilight explains.
  73. “Then we will need to start over.... Okay, what is this ‘magic’ then? Some alternate word for technology, or what? There must be rules to it. Laws. Controls. A way to describe its function: how it applies force, how it changes objects. You must know something.”
  74. >Twilight thinks for a moment.
  75. >“I don’t know how to answer your question. It’s magic. And as for those things, well....”
  76. “Well, what?”
  77. >You pause, thinking.
  78. “Have you never even considered doing a scientific investigation into how exactly you perform your... ‘magical’ abilities?”
  79. >“No! Well, yes, but - Magic isn’t a science, it’s an art, a skill, like... baking, or basket-weaving.”
  80. “And can there not be said to be a ‘science’ behind both of those activities, both in the literal and figurative sense? Surely baking is governed by laws of chemistry and physics, and basket-weaving as well.”
  81. >“But to make a good basket doesn’t require that you know, I don’t know, the tensile strength of the wood you’re using, or something, you just need to know how to make a good basket.”
  82. “But would not understanding the science behind basket materials help you make stronger baskets?”
  83. >“Alright, fine, enough, point taken. Regardless, plenty of ponies have tried to understand how magic works at the fundamental level, and they all failed. Including me.”
  84. “Why?”
  85. >“Because there are so many different forms of magic that it’s impossible to completely understand it all and sum it up in one simple model. There’s the magic that unicorns can use, but then there’s also the magic that the pegasi use to keep themselves in flight, and the magic that earth ponies have that gives them a better connection to matter, and alchemy, and zebra voodoo and the magic that the princesses use for their feats, and chaos magic, and the magic of love, of course, the magic of friendship.”
  86. “The magic of friendship?” you echo.
  87. >“Yes.”
  88. “Are you saying that if I have enough friends, I can, I don’t know, see the future, or something?”
  89. >“Well... er... no. Friendship is just some sort of driving force in this universe, some metaphysical property that has power over things. It’s really beyond my comprehension, but it seems to be the most powerful form of magic that we know of.”
  90. >Your brain is boiling inside your skull, your muscles tense and ready for action.
  91. >What is this universe?
  92. >What is anything?
  93. “Alright, enough of this. You have to be kidding me. This is just completely absurd.”
  94. >“What’s absurd?” Twilight asks.
  95. “Everything! This entire universe. Magic. You. This tree. The trees outside! The town! The - argh! Nothing makes sense anymore.”
  96. >You forcefully pace towards the steps out of the basement, Twilight following you.
  97. >“Where are you going?” she asks.
  98. >You turn around, one foot on the first step.
  99. “I don’t know! Does it matter? In...”
  100. >You look at the air indicator on the HUD of your hazard suit.
  101. “... less than 6 hours I am most likely dead. I have lost absolutely everything that was important to me. I wanted to be a new Einstein, a new Hawking, and yet I have lost that. I wanted to bring humans to the Jupiter, instantaneously! I wanted to explore the cosmos, the entire universe! And because of those complete and utter idiots on the board of directors I am now stranded in a completely different universe with no means to return.”
  102. “Do you know how many times I had tested the wormholes? Hundreds of times! And one faulty magnet has to ruin me forever. This is absolutely absurdity. All the care and time and effort that I put into to ensuring that we could stabilize those things, and all for naught. Complete madness!”
  103. >You stomp up the stairs.
  104. >“No! Anonymous, don’t - Anonymous, I can help you, but you need to calm down.”
  105. “I don’t need your help. Leave me alone. I’m getting out of here.”
  106. >You’ll make your way to that Crystal Empire place.
  107. >Yeah, that’s what you’ll do.
  108. >You can use the portal there to get back to the other human world.
  109. >Even if it’s not yours, it’s at least better than being in a place with horses as the primary sentient lifeform.
  110. >Maybe they will have the technology to build a new portal, back to your universe.
  111. >You try to tramp up the stairs, but find yourself held in place.
  112. >An oscillating purple aura shines around you, like aurora borealis.
  113. “Let. Me. Go.”
  114. >“No. You’re going to stay.”
  115. >Twilight looks you straight in the eye.
  116. >“Sometimes... sometimes things happen for a reason, Anonymous. I travelled to an alternate reality because that place needed my help. The magic of friendship -”
  117. “Oh don’t give me that.”
  118. >“I’m serious! There are forces beyond our universes that bind them together. Maybe - maybe magic is one of them. Maybe it’s some expression of a force beyond our universes!”
  119. “A nice theory,” you say, your eyes narrowed. “But, are you seriously giving me this spiel unironically? Love and friendship as a force beyond our physical reality? How would you even prove it?”
  120. >“I don’t know! Maybe you can figure it out. Maybe that’s what you’re here for.”
  121. >“I’m going to let you go, and then... then, you’re going to ask me whatever you need to know, and I’ll tell you if I can answer it. You need to start with simpler things. Getting angry at metaphysics will solve nothing. Trying to tackle some huge problem immediately with no knowledge of how to begin will just make you frustrated. You are here now. You’re just going to have to deal with it.”
  122. >You sigh.
  123. >She’s right.
  124. >You can’t know why the universe is the way it is, as opposed to some other way.
  125. >The universe simply is.
  126. >And you know nothing about this “magical” force.
  127. >But there must be some logic to it, some rules and laws that you can understand.
  128. >If it has the power to cross dimensions, then it can lead you home.
  129. >Twilight sits at the foot of the steps.
  130. >You take a similar position on the third step, your feet resting on the first.
  131. >You pause.
  132. >What else is there to ask?
  133. >What will get you an answer that is comprehensible?
  134. “How is this tree still alive? You have carved out the entire interior for this library. And yet the leaves are still green, and the wood -”
  135. >You place a hand on the wall.
  136. “Still moist.”
  137. >“The tree is kept alive through... magical means,” the purple horse answers. “I maintain the spell that keeps it healthy.”
  138. >You remain silent for a moment.
  139. “This is getting us nowhere.”
  140. >“Then why don’t I ask you some things?”
  141. “Fine. Shoot.”
  142. >“Where are you from?”
  143. “I am from Earth.”
  144. >“Have you heard of Canterlot High School? Maybe on the news? Strange things that have been happening there?”
  145. “What kind of ‘strange things?’ Occurrences that could be described as ‘magical’ in nature?”
  146. >“Yes.”
  147. “Then no. Only things I hear about high schools are murders, suicides, murder-suicides, and low test scores. I presume that this school is in the alternate version that you visited.”
  148. >“Yes. It has to be, if you never heard about a girl turning into a demon and transforming most of the student body into zombies and being defeated by six girls using a rainbow beam and the power of friendship.”
  149. “I have never heard of any such thing. I assure that nothing of that nature happens on my version of Earth outside of fairy tales.”
  150. >Twilight frowns.
  151. >You think.
  152. “What do you know of Earth?”
  153. >“I’ve only been to it a few times, but it seems quite nice. But magic seems to work differently there than it does here in Equestria.”
  154. “Magic does not exist in my world.”
  155. >“Well, then we’ve clearly established that the Earth I visited and the Earth you come from are in different realities. Unless you are also from the past? What year was it when you left?”
  156. “2019.”
  157. >“Then no.”
  158. >You pause for a moment.
  159. “Very well. I’ve decided.”
  160. >“Decided what?”
  161. >You reach around to the sides of your helmet, to the secondary latches keeping it attached to the rest of the hazard suit.
  162. >“What are you doing?”
  163. >You unlock the latches, and tap at a small blue touchscreen on your wrist
  164. >With a hiss of escaping air, the suit depressurizes.
  165. >The helmet clicks, allowing you to detach it from the rest of the hazard suit.
  166. >You place it on the steps next to you and take a deep breath.
  167. >Clean air.
  168. “Well, I’m not dead,” you say.
  169. >“But you might be in a few hours!” Twilight says.
  170. “That we’ll just have to see. I can’t know about any toxins my detectors can’t pick up, as their chemical properties are unknown to human science. But, I might have a bit longer now. Let’s roll the dice once more. I’ve done it plenty of times today.”
  171. >Seeing as there’s no further use for the rest of your hazard suit, you disrobe and disassemble it.
  172. >You take another deep breath.
  173. “Alright, we need to move on to more practical matters,” you say. “Such as, where I’m going to live.”
  174. >“You can stay here. I’ve got some extra blankets and pillows that I can put somewhere....”
  175. “Down here is good.”
  176. >“Are you sure?”
  177. “I noticed the leftover laboratory equipment. The EKG machine and such. It might be of some use to me. I may as well live where I work.”
  178. >You wave your hand at the various pieces of silver machinery lying about, red and green wires poking out everywhere.
  179. >You identify what appears to be a magnetic tape reel, possibly connected to some form of early computer; the EKG machine you mentioned; some sort of helmet with electrode patches hanging from it (presumably for brain scans); some beakers, flasks, test tubes, and an alembic; an oscilloscope; various tools, including a soldering gun and a few screwdrivers; some coils of wire and a handful of capacitors, resistors, batteries; and a few diodes and transistors of the older vacuum-tube type.
  180. >“Fine by me.”
  181. >You get up from the stairs and begin to examine some of the equipment.
  182. >Yes, it’s mostly medical devices, but some of the electronics might be useful to you.
  183. >Somehow.
  184. >You turn back to Twilight.
  185. “I need you to leave. I need to think,” you tell her. “And I need to be alone.”
  186. >“Okay,” she replies. “I’ll go get those blankets and make some tea.”
  187. >She trots up the stairs and slowly closes the door behind her.
  188. >You sit back where you were before.
  189. >Nothing makes sense.
  190. >Twilight says that you were brought here for a reason, but that’s idiotic.
  191. >Things don’t happen for a reason.
  192. >That’s just foolish superstition.
  193. >There must be some rational way to out of this.
  194. >Somehow.
  195. >Some way.
  196. >The weight of the events of the past few hours suddenly comes crashing down, as it has a few times before, but this time with the greatest intensity yet, like a poorly constructed building undergoing a grand collapse.
  197. >You are trapped in an alternate universe with some yet-unknown force of nature which you need to understand if you are ever to return home.
  198. >You stare blankly, thinking blankly, as the light fades through the small windows at the top of the basement.
  199. >What more can you do?
  200. >Everything is gone.
  201. >What do your achievements matter now?
  202. >The door creaks open above you.
  203. >“Well, I brought the blankets and tea,” Twilight says. “I’ll see if I can scrounge up a few pillows and - Anonymous? Are you okay?”
  204. “Go away," you say in a tone barely above a forceful whisper, the amount of effort necessary to speak simply too much right now. "I don’t want to see you right now. I don’t want to see you ever again.”
  205. >Twilight drops the blankets with a soft thump and then shuts the door with a clunk.
  206. >You grab a blanket from the top of the steps and wrap it around you.
  207. >You watch the night pass overhead, unfamiliar stars and galaxies whirling by, uncaring as ever to your plight.
  208.  
  209. >Morning.
  210. >Sun streams through what few openings you have to the outside world.
  211. >Above, you can faintly hear the hustle and bustle of a small town on a busy day, a faint chatter of voices, the clunking of carts on rough ground, the tromping of feet.
  212. >A knock comes on the door.
  213. >“Anonymous? Can I come in?” Twilight says, muffled by the thick, hard wood.
  214. >You give no response.
  215. >The door creaks open.
  216. “I didn’t say yes.”
  217. >“Sorry.”
  218. >Twilight comes down the stairs and sits next to you.
  219. “What are you doing?”
  220. >“Giving you company.”
  221. “I never asked for it. I don’t want it. Leave me alone, I’m thinking.”
  222. >“Bottling everything up is -”
  223. “Did I ask for your advice?” you interrupt.
  224. >Twilight stares at you.
  225. >“What is wrong with you?” she says abruptly.
  226. “Oh, I don’t know, I’m in a completely alternate universe, possibly trapped here and -”
  227. >“No! Not that! I mean, there’s that, but.... Why are you rebuking my attempts to be nice to you? I want to help you, sincerely. And I can’t do that if you won’t give me something.”
  228. “Why would you expect me to open up to you? You really don’t even know who I am. How can I possibly trust you?”
  229. >“Who else do you have to trust?”
  230. “Myself. Myself and myself alone. That’s all who I’ve ever needed to trust.”
  231. >“Oh, come now, you must have had at least one friend at some point in your life.”
  232. “I don’t need friends.”
  233. >“Do you know how many ponies have told me that?”
  234. “Obviously not, and I don’t care. I am not a pony. Tell me, have any of those people - er, ponies, whatever, lived their entire life alone? I ask you again, do you really know who I am?"
  235. >Twilight thinks for a moment.
  236. >“No, I don’t know who you are. But, I can tell that you want to have friends, but you just don’t know how and I can help -”
  237. “You do realize this entire conversation is entirely irrelevant to me, correct? My single, solitary goal right now is to get home. Whatever life lesson you’re trying to teach me about friendship, I don’t want it. The only thing I need from you is a place to stay and a place to work. And so long as you don’t come bothering me about friendship, then I think we can live a peaceful, productive relationship, and at some point you will find me gone, and that will be that. And, with that, I have work to do.”
  238. >You get up from the mire of the steps and head over to the worktable.
  239. >Twilight watches silently as you plug a few strips of wire, into the breadboard.
  240. >“What are you doing?”
  241. >No, that’s too complicated; you need to test the underlying phenomena first.
  242. “Testing things. Do you have a bar magnet?”
  243. >“Uh, second drawer, should be labeled.”
  244. >You reach down, though not that far, the table being designed for smaller proportions than you, to the second drawer (which is indeed labeled ‘magnets’) and pull out a flat, rectangular, black piece of iron.
  245. >You bend a piece of wire into a loop, snip off a bit of insulation with a wire stripper (from the conveniently labeled compartment in the conveniently labeled drawer of wire cutters and strippers) and wrap into around the two poles of a battery.
  246. >This would of course be better with an AC source of power, a signal generator or something, but this would work too.
  247. >Now you just need some way to allow the magnet to freely rotate....
  248. >Grabbing two of the wooden test tube racks, you hold the magnet between them, squeezed between the cylindrical spokes.
  249. >You pull your loop of wire over to set up the full experiment, and the magnet falls with a clunk on the table.
  250. >Once again, you set up the loop of wire and magnet.
  251. >Because you’re holding the test tube racks together, the wire falls over, landing neatly around one of the racks, a horseshoe over a spoke.
  252. “Argh.”
  253. >“Do you need some help?” Twilight asks.
  254. “No, I can figure this out.”
  255. >You try to set up again, and fail for the third time.
  256. >“Ugh, here,” Twilight says.
  257. >A purple aura appears around your magnet.
  258. “Don’t do that. I can’t have any outside variables in this test.”
  259. >“I’m just going to hold it. Do you need it to spin freely if some force is applied?”
  260. >Carefully, you poke the floating magnet, causing it to spin rapidly for a moment until air resistance slows it down.
  261. “Yes. That will work.”
  262. >For the fourth time, you set up your loop of wire around the magnet.
  263. >The magnet wobbles back and forth a little bit.
  264. “Are you doing that?”
  265. >“No. I’m holding it perfectly still.”
  266. “Good.”
  267. >You give the magnet a small push, just a bit of energy to get it going.
  268. >The oscillations increase.
  269. “Well, look’s like Faraday’s law still holds true,” you mutter to yourself.
  270. >You pull the loop of wire away and disconnect it from the battery.
  271. >“What was that?” Twilight asks.
  272. “Nothing. Do you have a voltmeter?”
  273. >“Look in the meters drawer.”
  274. >You easily find one.
  275. “Alright, I need you to spin the magnet,” you tell Twilight.
  276. >“Like this?”
  277. >The magnet rotates at a fairly constant speed, a few rotations every 15 seconds or so, by what little you can judge.
  278. >You hook the wire to the voltmeter and pass it around the magnet.
  279. >A small voltage is read on the meter.
  280. “And looks like the Ampere’s law is also true.”
  281. >“Okay,” Twilight says. “Neat. What does that mean?”
  282. “A loop of wire with current running through it can induce a magnetic field, causing a magnet placed in it to oscillate. And a rotating magnet in a loop of wire can induce an electric field, causing a current to appear in a wire. It’s the foundation of classical electromagnetism, and the basis for almost all of modern physics. Special relativity depends on it, and thus everything that depends on special relativity depends on Maxwell, Ampere, and Faraday’s equations. Plus it also establishes that magnetism and electricity are just two sides of the same fundamental force, and that force also produces the phenomenon we know as light, an electromagnetic wave with constant speed of 3 times 10 to the eighth meters per second.”
  283. >“Oh you mean Lodestone’s laws!”
  284. “Lodestone? Is that a name? I have no idea who Lodestone is, though I guess that he discovered the same phenomenon relating electricity to magnetism and vice versa in your universe.”
  285. >You think for a moment.
  286. “Of course, the phenomena could just match up to the expected result qualitatively, but not quantitatively.... I’ll need to run a few more tests. But either way, it appears for now that the laws of physics of our two realities are more similar than I thought.”
  287. >“Well, how about this?”
  288. >Twilight disconnects the wire from the voltmeter, levitates the magnet inside the loop, and charges her horn.
  289. “What are you doing now? Whatever you’re doing, stop. I don’t want this... this magic interfering with the properties of that wire. For all I know, you’ve already affected the re-”
  290. >Twilight fires a narrow, sparking beam of violet-white energy at the wire.
  291. >The energy travels along the wire as a white pulse along its length.
  292. >The magnet spins as if attached to the bit of a power drill, faster than your eye can pick up the rotations.
  293. “Magic can create an electric current,” you conclude.
  294. >“Well, isn’t that what ‘electricity’ is? We just power things with magic stored in batteries here.”
  295. “What? But that means -”
  296. >“You were powering your first experiment with magic as well. But now you’ve seen it’s raw, uncontained form.”
  297. >That’s impossible.
  298. >How could some phenomenon known as magic be the same as electricity?
  299. >How could that same force be used for telekinesis?
  300. >Why does it generate from a unicorn’s horn?
  301. “I - I need to run more tests. There must be some answer to this, some reason as to why you can do all this....”
  302. >“Then, if you want my help,” Twilight says, “Then you’re going to have to learn something about being nice to others.”
  303. “No. That won’t be necessary. These batteries contain magic, like you said.”
  304. >You pick up one of the batteries and examine it.
  305. “I just need them to figure this out; I don’t need you.”
  306. >“Really? Can you make a circuit that can do this?”
  307. >Twilight disappears in a flash of light, and then reappears at the top of the steps.
  308. >Your jaw nearly hits the floor.
  309. “H-how? How are you doing this? Levitation, inducing electric currents, and now teleportation? So far the laws of physics of this world have seemed identical to mine, but this - this is just lunacy. How does this ‘magic’ function? There must be some rules to it, something!”
  310. >“I guess that’s for you to find out,” Twilight says. “But, you’re going to have to let me help you.”
  311. >She giggles.
  312. >“Really, this isn’t much of a bargain on my end is it? I’m helping you in two ways."
  313. >Twilight looks at a clock on the wall.
  314. >“Now, come. I want to introduce you to my friends more properly.”
  315. “What are you talking about? There’s no time for that. We have more tests to do. We need to acquire more - What are you doing? Stop that!”
  316. >Twilight surrounds you in a purple aura and drags you up the stairs.
  317. “Do you understand what you’re doing? You could be rearranging my molecular structure, or something. If you don’t stop this, then I could die!”
  318. >“Well, that clearly hasn’t happened yet, and I am directing my magic to do nothing but lift you. And, I haven’t changed what I want my magic to do, so I doubt that it would somehow rearrange your molecules. Plus, I already used magic on you yesterday, when you tried to run away, and that has seemed to have had no adverse effects.”
  319. “Yet! No adverse effects yet!”
  320. >You grab hold onto the banister.
  321. >The force on you increases sharply.
  322. >“Hey, let go of that! Come on, Anonymous, don’t be difficult.”
  323. “So, there is a maximum force that you can apply with your telekinesis.”
  324. >“No, there is a maximum force that I can apply such that I don’t tear your arms out of their socket or break the banister to splinters.”
  325. “Is that a threat?”
  326. >“No!”
  327. >Twilight stoppers her magic.
  328. >“Look, you can either come with me, or I’ll drag you there. What’s it going to be?”
  329. >You cross your arms and grimace, but reluctantly get up and follow Twilight upstairs and out the door into a warm summer day.
  330. >So, this is how it’s going to be then?
  331.  
  332. >You built a gingerbread house with your mother once, around Christmas time.
  333. >Mostly what you remembered was two things:
  334. >1. Frosting is not a good adhesive.
  335. >2. The tensile stress limit of gingerbread is not very high.
  336. >Thus, your attempt to make a fully accurate replica of a Saturn V rocket (or as close as you could get with six-year-old dexterity) failed quite spectacularly, a pile of cylindrical and circular cookie pieces crumbling to the heartless floor in an avalanche of sugar, ginger, and buttercream icing.
  337. >The other thing you remembered was how quickly the second house you built, this of a more typical design, went stale and had to be disposed of before it became more of mold incubator than a frosting-icicled winter cabin.
  338. >And though you begged and pleaded to take a few samples to put on petri dishes and let grow in the incubator you got from Santa that year, your mother and father insisted that it be disposed of before the whole house smelt of mildew.
  339. >And so now, looking at not just a small holiday crafts project but a full two-story gingerbread building,bedecked with roofs covered in multiple colors of pastel icing, what appeared to be candy cane drainage pipes, and a wooden sign reading “Sugarcube Corner,” you couldn’t help but feel that the multiverse was having a laugh at your expense.
  340. >First, for your failure as a child.
  341. >Two, because you presumed the answer to how such a building was kept up was “magic.”
  342. >Fortunately, you manage to keep your boiling blood from giving you a brain aneurysm, but it takes quite the effort to prevent your vision from going scarlet.
  343. >Enough complete and utter absurdity has occurred to you in the last approximately 24 hours.
  344. >Taking deep breaths, you follow Twilight through the doorway, a bell jingling overhead, followed by a loud thump as your head collides with the low door frame.
  345. >You rub your forehead.
  346. “Urgh.”
  347. >“Are you alright?” Twilight asks.
  348. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just need to watch my head.”
  349. >Compared to the exterior, the interior of the bakery is considerably less ostentatious in design, with some simple carved wooden pillars and lots of small round tables.
  350. >A small glass case at the front holds various baked goods: donuts, a large chocolate cake, and a variety of cupcakes.
  351. >Behind the register on top of the case, a thin yellow horse counts a stack of golden coins.
  352. >A set of blue wooden saloon doors lead into a room you can't quite see into, presumably the kitchen, and a staircase leads to the upper level, presumably living quarters for the owners.
  353. >Five familiar-looking ponies sit at a table with bagels, cream cheese, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, jam, and a basket of pastries.
  354. >“Hiya, Twilight!” the pink one says, immediately noticing your entry. “Oooh, and you brought Humanonymous. Wait, that’s not right. Anonahuman! Nonapottamus? Humanimous?”
  355. “Anonymous,” you say.
  356. >Silence.
  357. >“I think that in all the confusion, Anonymous forgot everypony’s name. Anonymous, these are my closest friends,” Twilight says. “Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, and Fluttershy.”
  358. >She points in turn to the pink one with a bubblegum-flavored cotton-candy mane, the blue one with the rainbow mane, the orange one with a blonde mane and a cowboy hat, the white one with a purple curling mane, and the yellow one with a pink mane.
  359. >You nod.
  360. >Twilight sits down at the table.
  361. >“Don’t you want to sit down?”
  362. “That chair can’t possibly support my weight. You realize you horses -”
  363. >“Ponies,” Applejack corrects you.
  364. “Very well, ponies. You ponies are barely three-fifths of my size. If I tried to sit, that chair would assuredly break. So I’ll stand, lest I end up sitting on the floor.”
  365. >Rarity and Applejack exchange glances.
  366. >“So, Anonymous, uh, tell us about yourself,” Rarity says.
  367. “I am from a completely different universe from this one, which follows different laws of physics, albeit slightly. I am a human from Earth, a perfectly ordinary rock which orbits a perfectly ordinary star in the outer reaches of a perfectly ordinary galaxy that just so happens to support the extraordinary phenomenon of intelligent life.”
  368. >“So, you’re from Earth, huh? And you’re a human? Do you know the awesome alternate me already? Do you know about this high school place that Twilight -” Rainbow Dash says.
  369. “No, I have never heard of a Canterlot High School or any magical goings on because ‘magic’ does not exist in my universe,” you interrupt.
  370. >“Anonymous is from a different universe than the one where Sunset Shimmer and I were sent to by the mirror,” Twilight explains.
  371. >“Then how did he get here?” Applejack asks. “If he didn’t use the portal in the Crystal Empire, and that portal is closed, and he’s not a pony.”
  372. “There was an accident. I miscalculated the temperature increase if increased mass was added to the wormhole... the magnets quenched -”
  373. >“What, were they thirsty?” Pinkie Pie asks.
  374. >You look to her, brow furrowed.
  375. “As I was saying, the magnets quenched - they broke down - and we lost control of the wormhole. And so I was sucked through to this universe.”
  376. >You pause.
  377. “At first I thought it was my home universe because A. I wasn’t liquified, vaporized, turned to plasma, or otherwise dead due to incompatibility with this universe’s physics and B. the properties of this world that I could easily detect almost exactly matched my homeworld, which is also why I can safely exist here without my hazard suit. But you have this force. You call it magic, but there must be some underlying structure to it, something quantifiable.”
  378. >“Well, I’m sure Twilight can help you with figuring that out,” Rarity says. “She’s always solving magical problems and -”
  379. “No. Twilight will make for an excellent assistant and a source of the phenomenon, but, I don’t think I will require much of her help in figuring out the theoretical aspects of this ‘magic.’ This is my project, and it seems to be something which your society has utterly failed at, but where I plan to succeed. Harnessing this power is clearly vital to me returning to my home universe.”
  380. >Fluttershy coughs.
  381. >In the background, you can hear the clinking of ceramic plates, saucers, and mugs.
  382. >“So, uh, Anonymous, tell us about your experiment that you did with the magical batteries and the magnet and the wire this morning, about the -”
  383. “Yes, yes, the relation between electricity and magnetism. That is, that they are a single force. It was a simple test and it wasn’t even completed. The fact that the source of current was ‘magical’ may have completely altered the entire experiment. We will need to re-perform it to eliminate possible variables.”
  384. >You turn towards the door and walk away from the table.
  385. >“Hey, where are you going?” Rainbow Dash asks.
  386. “Home. There is clearly nothing more I can provide to this gathering, and there are more important things for me to do there. So, I will leave you all be and bid you good day.”
  387. >“No, Anonymous, stay,” Twilight says.
  388. >You feel a light tug of magic on the collar of your shirt, as if Twilight were a mother cat redirecting her kitten.
  389. >Preferring not to see what happens if more force is applied to your neck area, you voluntarily turn around.
  390. >“Hey, Applejack, remember that problem you were having with the apple harvest this season? Do you think Anonymous could help you with that?” Twilight says.
  391. >“I mean, he’s a scientist, right? If he knows a little about apple trees, then maybe,” Applejack says. “But, I don’t know, Twi, we Apples have been doing our thing without magic or science or whatever for generations, so I think we’ll be able to figure this out.”
  392. “Plus, I am a physicist, not a botanist,” you say. “My expertise is in the mysteries of the universe, not plants.”
  393. >“I mean, that’s fine,” Applejack says. “We have some things going around that you might be able to help us with. Maybe you can help figure out why our threshing machine stopped working. Or Rarity’s sewing machine. Or who keeps leaving those weird circles out in the fields at night.”
  394. “I mean, I do have some aptitude with machines, but I think my talents are better used at this point with other -”
  395. >“Hey, Twilight, you were talking about the physics of my Sonic Rainboom a couple weeks back,” Rainbow Dash says. “Maybe Anonymous could help us with that?”
  396. “What’s a ‘Sonic Rainboom?’”
  397. >“Oh, it’s the most awesome thing in the world, I’ll have to show it to you,” Dash replies.
  398. “That really would be a distraction from my more important work. As much as I would like to help you all, I really don’t have time for such diversions at this point. There is major scientific research to be done, an entire new force to be explored, and I cannot be diverted from that at this point. In fact -”
  399. >You look around the room, searching for a clock.
  400. “I really have spent too much time here. I was hoping this would be a quick ten minute meet and greet, and yet I have already spent over half an hour here. So, I apologize, but I really have to go.”
  401. >“No, Anonymous, wait! Just stay and -”
  402. “I’ll be downstairs in the basement if you need me for whatever reason, but please leave me alone unless it’s important.”
  403. >You exit through the door and shut it with a slam and a bell jingle.
  404.  
  405. >You are Twilight Sparkle.
  406. >“Uh, Twi, what in the hay was that?” Applejack asks.
  407. >“What that rude creature thinks is a proper goodbye,” Rarity answers.
  408. “Look, I’m trying to help Anonymous be a friendlier person. The first impression is going to be... a little rough. Don’t be too hard on him.”
  409. >“Don’t be too hard on him? Twilight, we’ve dealt with plenty of ponies that have had trouble making friends,” Rainbow Dash says, “And they’ve at least tried to be nice to others on their first shot. Anonymous didn’t even seem to care.”
  410. >“He was pretty mean,” Fluttershy says.
  411. “Don’t worry. It won’t be long before he comes around to friendship. Have we ever had anypony who we haven’t been able to convince that friendship is valuable?”
  412. >“I don’t know Twi....” Applejack says. “There’s something that I can just sense in my gut about this Anonymous fellow. I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as you think.”
  413. “Trust me, we’ll bring him around. I know there’s a good person inside of him somewhere, someone who wants friends but just doesn’t know how to get them. He’ll get better. Trust me.”
  414. >You pick up a bagel with your magic and schmear it with cream cheese.
  415. >“Well, the first thing we need to do is get him a better outfit.... I bet a bit of generosity is all that Anonymous needs to open up,” Rarity says.
  416. >“I dunno, Rare,” Applejack says. “He seems to really not want to be distracted from his work. I don’t think a day-long shopping session will really go over well with him.”
  417. >“Oh, pish-posh. We’ll make time.”
  418. >“Anon said he was good with machines, so maybe he can help make my flying machine work,” Pinkie Pie says.
  419. >“Pinkie, that machine has never worked right,” Rainbow Dash says. “And it has that magical generator in it. There’s no way someone who doesn’t even understand magic could get that thing to work.”
  420. >“He’d just have to try,” Pinkie replies.
  421. >While your friends figure out possible ways of becoming acquainted with Anonymous, you puzzle over his demeanor, until finally, you say:
  422. “I just don’t get it!”
  423. >The table falls silent.
  424. >“Don’t get what, sugarcube?” Applejack says.
  425. “Why does he act this way? Why is he this unfriendly?”
  426. >“Maybe he’s like Cranky Doodle Donkey,” Fluttershy suggests. “Maybe he’s just not as friendly as some people.”
  427. “But Cranky Doodle at least had time for others in his life, and he was just miserable because his love had left him.”
  428. >“Maybe Anonymous’s love left him,” Rarity says.
  429. “As if. What kinda thing would love a thing like him?” Applejack says.
  430. >“Maybe he’s never had a friend before. Maybe everyone was just mean to when he was small, so he never liked anyone,” Fluttershy again suggests.
  431. >“Maybe that’s just how humans from his universe are,” Rainbow Dash says.
  432. >“You’d have to ask him,” Applejack says. “I’d imagine only he knows why he is the way he is. And I also imagine he’s not plannin’ on tellin’.”
  433. “There has to be some reason,” you muse. “I’ll find it out, and then we can work together to show him why friendship is valuable.”
  434. >Mrs. Cake collects an empty plate of muffins.
  435. >“Sooooo,” Pinkie begins, and you brace for a barrage of words. “Have you guys heard about this great new comedian coming into town, I heard he’s great and....”
  436.  
  437. >You are Anonymous.
  438. “Oh, good, you’re back,” you tell Twilight as she descends into the basement.
  439. >“Alright, Anonymous, how did you think that little introduction you gave there went?”
  440. “Don’t know. Don’t care. What I do care about is that I did manage to create a near-frictionless mount for this magnet.”
  441. >You show Twilight your contraption.
  442. >Two triangular legs hold up the central free-spinning axle, around which you have placed a loop of wire.
  443. >A small part of the axle, bent at 90 degrees, allows you to spin it manually.
  444. >“Well, then I tell you how it went. That was terrible! Do you even know how to be nice to - wait are those my test tube clamps?”
  445. “Oh, yes, I needed parts to set this up, and your clamps seemed a bit dusty and under-used, so I disassembled them. I also used a bit of duct tape.”
  446. >“Anonymous, you can’t just use things without asking.”
  447. “Why not? You clearly weren’t using them. They were covered in dust.”
  448. >“Because, one, it’s not polite, and, two, now I have to re-write the inventory because we’re down three test tube clamps.”
  449. “Well, I need them for this experiment. If you need them back, once I’m done I’ll put them back together.”
  450. >“That’s beside the point. No, wait, that is the point! Anonymous, do you even know how to be nice to others? Do you even care?”
  451. >You turn around and look at Twilight.
  452. “No.”
  453. >“What do you mean, ‘no?’”
  454. “I mean, ‘no,’ as in, no, I don’t care what your friends think of me, and ‘no,’ as in, you’re distracting me from my work and I really would prefer you didn’t do that.”
  455. >“Then I guess you don’t really need my help with solving magic then. And I guess you should just leave then, because I don’t let rude jerks live in my house.”
  456. “Then I guess you won’t learn anything else about my version of Earth either then.”
  457. >“I - I don’t care about that.”
  458. “Come now, you really don’t want to know anything about my universe? For someone who owns a library, you sure don’t seem that curious.”
  459. >“No. You just go. Unless you’re going to try to change. For real this time.”
  460. >You sigh.
  461. “Very well. It is obvious for once I need someone else’s help with my problems, and that help comes at a cost....”
  462. >“I wouldn’t necessarily say that -”
  463. “No. We have a deal. I will try to treat others better, and in return you will help me examine this phenomenon you call ‘magic.’ And that will be that.”
  464. >You spin the magnet on its axle and watch the voltmeter tick up.
  465. >“Good. Then let’s practice. Let’s start over. You want to use my test tube clamps to hold your spinning magnet. What do you say?”
  466. “Hello, Twilight Sparkle. May I please use your test tube clamps to build a setup for my experiments with Maxwell’s equations?” you say in the most sing-songy voice you can achieve.
  467. “Of course you may,” Twilight says in a similar manner. “I’m happy to help you discover the secrets of magic in anyway possible. Thank you for asking first.”
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