Princess Luna and several guards landed outside Ponyville’s town hall, where the mayor was waiting for them. Both the mayor and Princess Luna went inside to have a ‘talk’ regarding the disappearance of the Elements and a possible Changeling threat. The guards took up patrols around the town, being extra vigilant around the treeline of the Everfree Forest.
Ponyville’s residents were scared. Not only was the disappearance of six of their friends and neighbours unnerving, but having a platoon of guards in town and Canterlot on alert with a protective shield surrounding Equestria’s capital was downright terrifying. Ponies suspected others of being Changelings, and this led to several false alarms and once the entire town was evacuated when one of the guards returned bloody and bruised after having survived an ambush on his patrol from something in the forest.
It was now a week since Applejack led the others into the forest to locate their friends, and Princess Luna slowly raised the moon as she hovered above the balcony at Ponyville Library, which had been transformed into a command centre of sorts.
After the moon was raised, she slowly floated back down to the balcony and slowly trotted inside. She stopped near the flight of stairs that led to the bed that Twilight once slept in. Luna sighed as she turned away and headed downstairs.
In the library proper, several tables were placed with documents and reports from patrols and flybys of the Everfree Forest as well as maps of the forest and of Ponyville, which displayed tactical information in case whatever in the forest decided to mooch over to the nearby town.
Only Luna and the patrols were convinced that whatever it was in the forest, it wasn’t an army of Changelings. The incident with the ambush on one of their patrols proved that.
“Princess Luna, there’s a message from Canterlot,” Spike said as he walked to the Princess, holding out a scroll. Luna plucked it from the dragon’s grasp with her magic and read it.
“’No change, and no reports,’” Luna read out loud. She tossed the scroll onto a table with a map that had a coffee stain on it, covering half of Equestria. “Has the patrols reported in?” Luna asked, slightly hoping that something had happened, but she felt guilty of thinking it.
“As usual, no changes and no incidences,” Spike sighed as a Pegasus guard flew past to retrieve a book from a shelf.
“They have to make a move at some point…” Luna muttered as she trotted out of the library and out into the night. Spike followed her.
“What do you mean, Princess?” Spike asked as he jogged to keep up with Luna’s powerful strides.
“Whatever’s inside the forest is watching us, waiting for us to make the first move, as we await it to make the first move. We seem to be at a stalemate with it.” Luna explained as they walked down the path into the centre of the town. In the distance, Canterlot can be seen encased in a purple bubble around its perch on the side of a mountain.
Luna took a turn down a different street, and Spike stopped at the corner. This road led to the Everfree Forest.
“Uh… Princess Luna? This road leads to the Everfree Forest,” Spike said as he pointed out the obvious. Luna continued to trot down the road.
“I am well aware of that, Spike. I wish to take a different way tonight, perhaps meet one of the patrols.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea…” Spike feebly said as Luna didn’t stop. He sighed and ran down the road to catch up with the Night Princess.
They left the town and continued past the abandoned home of what used to be Fluttershy’s cottage. After her disappearance, the animals that lived there just disappeared, vanished. No trace had been found of them but those that knew Fluttershy and her animals well know that they went far away to get away from the danger in the forest.
Luna and Spike spotted a patrol that was slowly moving at a safe distance from the forest edge, although this wasn’t the case. Many ponies that lived in or near Ponyville knew that a minimum safe distance was over the mountains and in Las Pegasus, or even one of the small isles out at sea from Fillydelphia.
They conversed quickly, matching the patrol’s pace. The guards showed concern that Princess Luna was out near the forest at night, but she dismissed them with a wave of her hoof. Agter several minutes, Princess Luna and Spike left the patrol and began to head back to Ponyville.
At least, that was the plan.
Luna turned around sharply when a scream from behind them startled herself and Spike. They rushed back to the patrol to find that they were under attack by bipedal monsters made of metal that were walking out of the forest.
The nearest guard had been grabbed by the horn and dragged into the forest, while the other five advanced. Luna took to the air as she powered up her magic, and sent a devastating beam of moonlight onto a metal monster, the power of the moon boosting her abilities. It was struck in the chest and was sent flying back into a tree, the lights that flashed on its body went out.
One of the Earth ponies was grabbed by their mane by another metal monster and was lifted into the air. The pony tried to buck its captor, but with failure. The poor pony was carried by their mane into the forest, screaming.
Luna sent another beam of moonlight down at another metal monster that had swung its saw appendage down at its victim, a Pegasus, and slicing the Pegasus’ left wing in half. The beam struck the chest, but the metal monster merely stumbled, before continuing its assault on its target.
A metal monster raised its cannon-like appendage and a burst of green erupted from inside. It struck Luna’s right wing as she prepared yet another beam. Caught off guard, she spiralled down to the ground in a mixture of pain and agony.
Spike, who had been sending a scroll by dragonfire ran to Luna’s side.
“Princess! Are you all right?” Spike asked as he crouched near the stricken Princess. The metal monsters had finished off the patrol and started their advance on their two remaining victims.
“Brace yourself!” Luna grunted as her horn glowed brightly with her magic, and with a flash, Luna and Spike had been teleported back to the library. The pain from her injury caused Luna to black out as soon as they had safely arrived at their destination.
The Borg had made the first move.
Captain’s log, Stardate 51124.8
Voyager’s long-range sensors had detected a subspace anomaly directly in our path, and after further scans, it may be a wormhole. We have increased speed to reach this phenomena with hopes that this wormhole may help us get a little closer to home.
Janeway took another sip of her coffee as she sat at her desk in her ready room, reviewing their sensor scans with those taken observing wormholes in the past.
The chime of the door broke her concentration momentarily before she called out to let the visitor in. As expected, Commander Chakotay entered the room, holding a PADD.
“Last week’s security reports,” he said as he offered the PADD to Janeway, who took it and gave it a brief once over, before chuckling. “I knew you’d find it interesting,” Chakotay said with a smile.
“Over five cases of sightings of a pink horse aside mine and Kim’s, I bet Tuvok had each and every one of them endure a thorough medical examination just to confirm that he was right and that ‘seeing a pink horse is illogical.’” Janeway said as she smiled. She placed the PADD on the desk before beckoning to Chakotay to look at her terminal’s screen.
“Come look at this,” she said. Chakotay leaned in and stared at the screen. The various lines of data and code were gibberish to the former Marquis member.
“What am I looking at?” he asked, thinking that the Captain was going to explain some interesting facts. He was right.
“I compared the sensor scans of the subspace anomaly with those taken by other ships observing wormholes. In each previous observation, the wormhole gave off a strange energy flux. It what causes the wormhole’s unstable nature. I’ve checked all previous scans, and one of the nearest ones I can find that matches this energy flux is of a scan that the Enterprise-D took of the stable end of the Barzan Wormhole. They reported that it didn’t give off the energy flux.” Janeway explained.
“But I’m guessing that the scans of our side of the Barzan Wormhole showed that our side had it,” Chakotay replied.
“Indeed. When we tried to stabilize our end, we only ended up increasing the energy flux to the point of which it had spread to the Alpha quadrant’s side, which caused it to start jumping erratically. However, the closest scan that matches it is those taken of the Bajoran Wormhole from Deep Space Nine.” Janeway said with a hint of excitement.
“Meaning that this anomaly may actually be a stable wormhole,” Chakotay finished Janeway’s line of thought. “At least it’s more stable than the previous ones that we’ve encountered.”
“We’ll find out soon enough.” Janeway said as she looked out of the ready room’s window at the view of space as Voyager continued to travel at warp speed, with streaks of light being the only indication that the ship was travelling.
Luna opened her eyes as she regained consciousness. She was in Twilight’s bed back in the library, and it was morning as Celestia’s sun seemed to smile warmly through it’s rays of light.
She got out of the bed and noticed that her wing was bandaged to her side. Sighing, she summoned her magic and healed the injury instantly. She removed the bandages and flexed her right wing. It felt stiff, but apart from that it was healthy.
Luna quickly adorned her royal attire and hurriedly flew down the stairs to the library proper. As she arrived, this caused the ponies and dragon in the room to gasp.
“Princess Luna, your wing-” Spike began to say but Luna cut across him.
“Is fine. I want all patrols scrapped and place watchponies at Fluttershy’s cottage. Move everypony near the forest to the other side of town. Spike, send a letter to my sister,” Luna commanded. The ponies rushed to obey her orders as Spike told the Princess that he had already sent a letter to Princess Celestia, and recited it.
“Excellent. Has there been any activity near the forest while I was… sleeping?” Luna asked.
“Nothing, it’s all quiet.” A thought struck Luna that everything and everypony was treating this situation like it was a war, and she had to agree. But how can you fight a war against an enemy you don’t know?
Luna sighed and walked out of the library and out into Ponyville, Spike following her. It was strange that he had become her assistant after Twilight and her friends disappeared in the forest, but she welcomed it. An assistant that can send messages to her sister faster than any Pegasus and that can breathe fire was helpful.
EIGHT-OF-FIFTEEN, TURSIORY ADJUNCT OF UNIMATRIX 01, ACTIVATE.
A Pegasus drone that looked shockingly like Rainbow Dash trotted out of it’s regeneration alcove, or stable, and proceeded down a corridor. It passed the assimilation chamber where one of the guards captured from their ambush on last night’s patrol was in the process of having one of their limbs being sawed off. He screamed pitifully, but the Borg showed no remorse, or any kind of emotion.
The drone continued down the corridor, passing an Earth pony drone that vaguely resembled Applejack.
Eight-of-Fifteen entered the main chamber in which Twilight of Borg resided. She gazed up at a holographic screen showing Ponyville. She sensed that Eight-of-Fifteen had arrived and turned to face her former friend. Accessing the link, she temporarily allowed Rainbow’s personality to surface, allowing it to take temporary control of her body. At the same time, a force field surrounded the former Pegasus.
Rainbow Dash looked down at her body, taking in every component and implant. She was horrified when she saw her wings were now just flexible metal, wires and joint connectors.
“Hi Dash,” Twilight said as she stared at the Pegasus drone.
“You!” Rainbow snarled as she attempted to lunge at Twilight with the intention to kill, but rammed the force field instead. “You monster! I hate you!”
“That’s not a very nice thing to say, I’m your friend.” Twilight said stiffly.
“We’re not friends. We will never be friends again. You are a sick, twisted monster!”
“Insults won’t get you anywhere. I need to ask you something.”
“I’m not going out to assimilate and slaughter innocent ponies!” Rainbow shouted as she headbutted the force field several times.
“Don’t worry, you won’t. I just want to give you your freedom, for a price.”
“No way, I am not going to do anything for you.” Rainbow said with venom as she shot Twilight a death glare.
“Are you sure? I thought that you would leap at the chance to be you again, but I see that I was mistaken. Maybe I should get somepony else to do it, perhaps rarity, or Fluttershy?” Twilight said as she turned away from Rainbow.
“Fine, I’ll do it, just don’t do anything to my friends.” Rainbow sighed in defeat. Twilight smiled, which was very creepy with the eyepiece, furless and pale skin, and cybernetic enhancements.
“Great,” Twilight said, as the force field was lowered. But before Rainbow could do anything, Pinkie and another earth pony drone appeared on either side of Rainbow. “Please let some of my friends escort you to the assimilation chamber.”
Janeway entered the mess hall on deck 2 to get some more coffee. Voyager was due to arrive at the anomaly any minute now, and she needed something to perk up before reaching it. The replicators produced something similar to coffee, but Janeway preferred the batch that Neelix makes fresh in his kitchen. It was well known that if you gave Neelix the bare essentials of cooking, he’d whip up a miracle.
Janeway stopped at the counter and peered into the kitchen. There was no sign of Neelix. Curious, Janeway walked round and into the kitchen, checking the pantry, butt no Neelix.
She spied a pot of coffee on a kitchen counter, and decided to go for it. She clutched her cup tightly as she grabbed the pot and poured out some steaming coffee.
With her coffee cravings satisfied, Janeway left the mess hall and within a minute, he was on the bridge. Tom Paris was at the helm, With Tuvok at tactical. Harry Kim was at ops and Chakotay was in the captain’s chair. None of them noticed Q lean against the side of the view screen.
“Are we there yet?” Janeway asked, causing the Humans on the bridge to chuckle.
“We are about to drop out of warp, Captain.” Tuvok stated as Janeway liberated her seat from Chakotay who went back to the first officer’s chair.
“Hang on… taking us out,” Paris said as he pressed several buttons. Voyager decreased speed as the streaks of light that indicated warp travel disappeared.
“I have a visual,” Kim said from ops.
“On screen,” Janeway said as she took a gulp of coffee, and almost spat it out again.
On the screen, there was some hole in space. It had an outline of silver that rippled, and they could see a planet through the hole that wasn’t actually near them. The strangest thing was, it looked like Earth.
Q watched with fascination as Janeway choked on her coffee in surprise, Chakotay rubbed his eyes, Kim’s jaw was as close to his console as humanly possible, Paris leaned back in his seat in surprise and almost fell out, and Tuvok arched an eyebrow.
Other bridge officers showed somewhat similar reactions, but Q didn’t care about the anonymous people in red shirts, he cared about the senior officers.
“Is that Earth?” Janeway managed to say after winning the battle against the coffee. The other officers were broken out of their daze and began get back to work.
“I cannot tell, the anomaly’s energy flux prevents scans from passing through.” Tuvok stated as he pressed buttons and read displays.
“Launch a class five probe,” Janeway ordered. Tuvok made the preparations and launched the probe. Chakotay got out of his seat and went to the tactical console.
“Probe is away.” The probe streaked across the gap between Voyager and the hole. It passed through the hole and continued without incident.
“We’re not receiving anything from the probe when it entered the anomaly. If we want information, we’ll have to go through it.” Chakotay said as he looked at a display on the tactical console. Janeway mulled it over for a minute, before coming to a decision.
“Mr. Paris, take us in at one-half impulse.”
“Yes Ma’am,” Paris replied as his hands flew across the console.
“Geez, I would’ve dangled a turkey from a piece of string if I knew how easy this would be,” Q scoffed as he slowly shook his head. “Humans…” he muttered.
“Q!” a female voice shouted, and only Q heard it. He groaned. There was a flash of light and the female Q appeared next to the helm. Time on Voyager stopped, as the female Q slowly walked up to Q with murder in her eyes.
“You said that you would look after Junior while you checked up on some acquaintances of yours,” she snarled.
“But I am!” Q protested.
“That was three of their weeks ago!” the female Q said, waving her hand at the frozen Starfleet officers.
“Something came up…” Q started to say but he was cut off.
“I don’t care if ‘something came up’! I don’t care if this pitiful excuse of a race that you seemed fond of goes extinct!” female Q said with another gesture at the Humans, before she jabbed a threatening finger in Q’s direction. “You can watch Junior for a millennium or two. I’m going to watch two galaxies collide with each other.” And with a flash, she was gone, replaced by a seven year old boy in a small Starfleet uniform with Lieutenant Junior Grade Pips on the neck collar.
“Mommy’s fed up with you,” Junior said in a childlike tone. Q sighed, at least the boy understood him.
“Mommy’s just grouchy that she hasn’t been able to leave the continuum for a while,” Q said as he walked over to Junior and took hold of his hand. “Do you want to see what happens to a planet that gets ripped apart by two black holes?”
“That can’t happen because of the laws of physics,” Junior said as he looked up at his father.
“I could teach you.”
“Really? Can you also teach me how to play that game you mentioned that involved planets and black holes?” the boy asked. Q smiled.
“Sure, son,” and with a flash, they disappeared.
In the Andromeda galaxy, the universe’s second game of galactic snooker was played. With uninhabited planets, of course… well, mostly uninhabited, save a few civilizations, but who really cared about them anyway?