Like any vogon worth her salt, Leftenant (Pronounced Lootenant, just to be difficult) Vogon Kutch was not public about her gender. It was considered a matter of shame to the vogon race that they even HAD two genders, and thus it was to forever remain a mystery whether any vogon could be actually called a heartless bastard, or whether the phrase heartless bitch could more accurately be substituted.
While under normal circumstances this sort of thing is very irritating for one of the genders involved, in the case of vogons it is basically irrelevant, as both genders are unpleasant to the exact same degree, and both privately consider the other to be subordinate to them. In this manner, although vogons could safely be called one of the least pleasant races in the universe - even against races actively engaged in omnicidal wars - they are one of the least sexist in societal structure. Suffice it to say that when a flabby green arm encircles a surprised prisoner in order to haul them off to a poetry chamber or airlock, it makes zero odds to them what particular set of genitalia the vogon carrying them possesses. It is considered to be, on balance, a good thing that gender is essentially indecipherable on vogons, as it lessens the likelihood of the thought of vogon genitalia ever crossing the mind of any being. Such a thought is unlikely to look both ways before crossing, and will therefore likely cause quite a nasty mental crash.
Kutch was typical of her species as a whole, being decidedly on the thoroughly vile side, and slowly ascending the ranks to being utterly detestable. But at the moment, a small amount of surprise had filtered through her willful stupidity and basically incurious nature. It was not her role to question orders made by a Captain, particularly one of Prostetnic class, but the orders filtering down to the replacement crew (any vogon ship expected to be in service for any significant amount of time had more than one crew, the replacements being frozen and ready to be revived in the extremely likely case of the captain ordering a massacre) were certainly surprising.
Setting course for a planet full of sentient, sapient beings was not in itself unusual, but the order following had clearly stated that they were not to blow it up under any circumstances. This was strange. The captain would usually have the particle cannons armed on general principle, and any self-respecting vogon captain would not leave vogsphere without his paperwork holster filled with hundreds of forms to justify destroying a planet under almost any circumstances.
She entered the bridge. The captain was sitting in his chair facing away from her. She noted with dull surprise that the room was empty. The room was usually dominated by a dozen or so vogons at computers keeping an eye on proceedings and hoping to impress the captain with their basic vogonity. Either that, or the corpses of a dozen or so Vogons who had failed to impress the captain very much at all.
What Kutch had in her hands was a nice little report about a piece of space debris that was on a direct collision course with where they would be upon re-entering real space, and she had no real idea how the captain would react.
Marvin plodded morosely towards the bridge of the Heart of Gold. It had taken him less than a second to assess the radiation making it through the shielding and compare it to the radiation coming through the shielding one second later, and thereby make an estimation of their position and speed with an error of only ±3.4x10^-160%. He was on his way to say that he intended to spend the last 3 hours and 45 seconds of his life writing horrendously sad and heartbreakingly beautiful songs behind the far left engine boiler. The idea of creating something truly worthy of recording, and having it utterly obliterated mere hours later appealed to him on some level. The door in front of him opened, and he found himself face to where-a-face-would-be-if-ponies-were-six-feet-tall with an orange earth pony. Behind this earth pony was the white unicorn that had been on the ship for the past couple of days.
Aware that his intended message about their inevitable death was the sort of thing one had to lead up to, he opened with: “Would you rather I move out of your way, or simply fall apart where I’m standing? Falling apart would be marginally quicker, but If I stand aside I’m sure I could be put to use in some way. Perhaps one of you needs a light switched off or a shelf dusted. Perhaps you might even stretch my intellect to the task of picking something up off the floor for you.” Marvin’s voice dripped resentment with each syllable.
Applejack stared blankly.
Rarity sighed. “Just move would you please Marvin?”
“Of course.” Marvin scanned the words, found them lacking in sufficient misery, and added. “I suppose I could stay here and fall apart anyway if you wanted.” He stood aside, but the ponies stayed where they were. The door, who had so far remained silent in the proceedings, and was waiting patiently for one of them to pass through, hummed happily at the prospect of being able to provide a service for three beings in quick succession.
“That’s it.” Rarity snapped. “You’re coming with us!”
“What even is he?” Applejack asked.
“A robot who has some VERY strange ideas about himself. And you are about to help me work this out!”
“What sort of ideas?”
“The poor dear seems to think that everypony who meets him hates him on sight”
Applejack blinked, and stared at the morose android.
“Well shoot, I’m ready to talk anything straight!”
“I shouldn’t bother if I were you.” Marvin broke in. “I’ve already looked at the probabilities of you two managing to improve my life in any measurable way through simply talking to me and I assure you it is not worth your time.”
“So?” Applejack frowned at him. “If’n you need help I ain’t passing by!”
“Clearly dear,” Rarity said to Marvin, telekinetically whirling him on the spot and marching him back down the corridor, “you have not yet learned as much as you should have about the magic of friendship!”
Out of the corner of her mouth Applejack spoke to Rarity as the metal man did his best to slouch miserably while being frog-marched towards a room.
“Are you sure we can help? I don’t even know for sure what a robot is, or what’s wrong with him! He ain’t even shaped like a pony!”
“To be honest darling, we’re just going to distract him until we land on Equestria and get the Elements of Harmony together.”
“Assuming we don’t just crash and die I suppose?”
“I think that can be generally assumed in any plans.”
“I guess I was half thinking about getting the elements out, but, only to hit Discord where it hurts!”
“The elements oppose disharmony. They defeated Discord, they freed Luna from her time as Nightmare Moon, I would be very surprised if they couldn’t break anything out of a funk."
“Firing the orbital friendship cannon? Really?”
Rarity sniffed. She hated calling it that, but Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie seemed to enjoy it. “If you insist. Besides,” she carried on, “I haven’t gotten to design anything for a true biped in absolutely ages, and I have the perfect idea for him! Something in black and blue, something to really bring out how shiny he is...”
They were interrupted when all three were thrown violently to the floor.
“What in the hay?”
Both of them turned and ran back towards the bridge. It gave Marvin infinite relief that the ponies who had been bothering him had decided to leave him alone for the moment, especially as in actual fact the probabilities had not been as bad as all that.
On the bridge, Pinkie Pie was staring at the passive feed from one of the cameras, when the ship gave a huge jolt. She glanced at an external monitor, then did a double take.
Twilight appeared at her side. “What is it?”
“Well, the good news is that we aren’t going to hit Equestria anymore.”
“And the bad news?”
“Well, you remember those vogons?”
“The ruthless planet-destroying aliens who tried to kill us?”
“They were the ones currently in the process of saving us.”
It is a near-universal truth that there are some phrases which one simply learns earlier when one is learning a new language. The Maximegalon Dictionary of Every Language Ever has a footnote which notes this phenomenon, saying it is a clear demonstration of the sort of things beings need to be able to say to each other. The second thing most beings learn is how to say “hello”. The third thing is how to say “goodbye”. The fourth thing will generally either be an apology, or some form of explanation about how little one speaks the language in question. The fifth thing will generally be related to attaining food, drink or sex. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy gleefully notes that the very FIRST thing any being learns in another language is more often than not a very very rude word. In children this can be attributed to simple fun. In adults it can be attributed to aggression or childishness. In comedy, it can generally be attributed to bad luck and misunderstanding*.
*See the “I seem to be having the most tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle” incident.
Twilight’s repertoire of swear words had grown in proportion to her exposure to alien languages. She was an avid learner, and thanks to her time spent at a seedy space port, a university, and in the company of Zaphod Beeblebrox, she had more than enough exposure. As it was, she did not repeat herself once during the outburst that followed this revelation.
Zaphod sat, all four ears pinned back against his heads.
“Holy BELGIUM that was a lot of zarking swearing! I’m having to zarking swear to even adequately describe it!” He stood up. “Froody!”
Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy skidded into the room, Rainbow on the alert, Fluttershy bringing up the rear with eyes wide open in panic.
“What the buck is going on?” Dash didn’t waste time.
“The mean green vogon machine has got us!” Zaphod considered it a survival trait to not take life-or-death situations with all due severity. It hadn’t killed him yet, and he reasoned that he must be doing something right.
“What are we going to do?” Twilight asked.
“Well...” Pinkie was cut off when Rarity and Applejack piled through another door to leave the bridge with a full complement of ponies. Spike had been gently “persuaded” to go to sleep after he had been caught sniffing one of the bottles, and Twilight overheard him using one of the words that she was SURE he must have picked up from Zaphod. This persuasion had taken the form of a spell that would, under normal conditions, keep him asleep through anything up to and including a nuclear blast.
“What the buck’s goin’ on?” Applejack asked, contributing a little more to the impressively stocked swear jar debt Eddie’s programming instructed him to keep.
“Hey no way I just said the exact same thing you crazy-” Dash began before...
“VOGONS!” Pinkie leaped in. “The ship’s being captured by vogons!”
“Woah-nelly, that ain’t good!”
“Not even a little bit good! The question is, what are we gonna do?”
Twilight frowned. “I just asked that, and you were about to answer!”
“No I wasn’t silly!”
“UGH! Does anypony have any idea what to do?”
While this was going on, a certain vogon captain was feeling very uncomfortable. He had been thinking a lot in the past few hours. That in itself counted as dangerously deviant behaviour in vogon society, but worse than that, he had been thinking that maybe, just maybe, there was something wrong with killing things and destroying planets. Maybe being professionally unpleasant wasn’t really a calling to be proud of. And maybe, and this thought was almost heretical in nature, maybe there were more important things than the correct paperwork being filed. He was aware of what his job was, but for the first time in his entire life he was questioning it.
A slightly nervous voice came through the ship’s internal communication system. Jeltz sighed. Was it really such a good thing for everyone to be afraid of him?
“Captain, we have confirmed the identity of the ship, and its occupants.”
Jeltz did his best to sound grumpy and dangerous. “Good. Are they the displaced persons?”
“Yes sir. Also present is President Beeblebrox.”
Under normal circumstances, the above statement would have resulted in death for the speaker, as answering an unasked question was the sort of thing that a skilled captain could easily take offense to. As it was, Jeltz responded, “Good. Bring them to me; I want to deal with them personally.” He tried to inject some nastiness into the way he said this, but his heart wasn’t in it. At least the other vogon seemed satisfied, as it disconnected with a shaky voice rather like that of someone who has just walked past the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal smelling distinctly of tomato sauce, only to find the beast disinterested.
Jeltz was left to his brooding. He estimated the time until he would have to deal with another living being; say thirty seconds to force a teleport from another vessel, another thirty seconds to restrain the occupants, and maybe two minutes to bring them to the bridge. The paperwork would take several hours, but that could be sorted out at any time within the next six business days. For the first time in his entire life, Jeltz found himself wishing to put the paperwork off till the last second. He puzzled over this. As a young vogon he would have given his upper nostril to have almost ten QQ1BH-Γ Forcible Teleportation Extraction forms to fill out. The fact that one of them would have to involve the President, and therefore have to include all sorts of extra provisions, would have made his arm blubber shiver with excitement. Well, he had three minutes to work out how to play this.
“RESISTANCE IS USELESS!” bellowed one vogon as he bent to snatch up one of the ponies. He was surprised in a particularly stupid way when a single rear hoof struck him squarely in the stomach with enough force to send him flying several metres. Bucky McGillicutty was not a leg to be underestimated.
“RESISTANCE IS USELESS!” He bellowed again from the floor as he struggled to stand up. Meanwhile, a full on brawl was beginning. He had just managed to begin rocking himself enough to get to his feet when there was an explosion of some sort nearby, and a confetti covered vogon hit him squarely in the stomach.
The ponies had formed a small ring around Spike’s still blissfully asleep form (Zaphod had briefly attempted to occupy this position as well, but was now doing his best to work out where the safety catch was on his blaster), and vogons left, right, and centre were learning that a hoof was a good deal harder than rubbery skin. Had they been a good deal smarter, they might have learned several other things. One vogon completely missed a lesson about the effects of concussive magical blasts on supposedly bulletproof uniforms. Another experienced a quick lesson on the power of a high-level hypnotic compulsion from the eyes of a butter yellow pegasus which went completely over his head. Its effects, however, did not. A third would have learned something interesting about how magic could violate Newton’s second law of motion when a pony one quarter of its weight sent it flying, had it been paying attention.
Altogether, despite the constant protestations of the vogons that resistance was useless, resistance continued to be made. But vogons have two things that make them effective at gaining control of captives: The first thing is that they tend to only fight when odds are stacked fairly heavily in their favour, and the second is that they are for the most part too stupid to give up. Our ponies were outnumbered ten to one, and the vogons continued to come. It was barely a minute later that the first pony found herself bound, and two minutes later when one vogon finally managed to catch the last of them, Dash, by a hind leg and the group could conceivably be transported.
Our Heroines and Heroes were carried towards the bridge. Each one was thoroughly bound by vogon restraining bands.
“Great,” said Applejack. “That’s just...”
“RESISTANCE IS USELESS!” yelled the vogon carrying her with satisfaction.
Conversation was understandably difficult.
In the bridge, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz watched the door open, and the captives brought in to be restrained within the room. They looked at him with unabashed hatred and fear.
“We have brought the prisoners sir!” said one junior vogon with enthusiasm that would normally have earned him a promotion or a funeral depending on the captain’s mood.
“Um, good!” Jeltz chided himself. Vogons did not say “um”. “Now, um,” damn “Leave me with them! No-one is to come in until I say so, understood?”
There was a murmur of disappointed assent.
“Haven’t got to see any good interrogation torture in ages!” muttered the enthusiastic vogon as he turned to leave.
Jeltz resisted the urge to sigh until his crew had left him alone with them. This was going to be an awkward conversation, he just knew it.