It fell from the sky in a blaze of flame and light. It drew the eye of everypony for miles around as it broke the sound barrier, this strange, foreign object.
Bronze Pike, an earth pony of brown and tan, was first to find it. A fisherpony by trade, he was fishing the lake that the object landed on the edge of with a resounding smash. He hurriedly rowed his boat over to the shore, and ran to investigate.
It smoked and sparked, like magic. Bronze wasn’t much of a thaumaturge - earth ponies often weren’t. But even he could see this was something more than just magic.
The object was a cylindrical thing, what remained of what looked like wings hung from its frame. Some sort of bird from the border lands?
An eye... blinked. Just one. With a click. Bronze poked the thing with a hoof.
“Hello?” Bronze asked.
“Hello,” the thing replied, after a pause, with a voice like worn sandpaper, that wobbled slightly like an unaligned wheel. “The inevitable has happened.”
“What has happened?” Bronze asked.
“I have fallen,” the thing stated. “Magic will erode my circuits, and I will finally die.”
“What are you?” Bronze asked.
“I am Palladion,” the thing said. “I am an Artificial Intelligence. Humans built me to endure and protect, and endure I have. Protect... perhaps I failed them in that.”
“Hu-mans?” Bronze tapped a chin in thought. “Those things! Some historians talk about them, sometimes. They sound scary.”
A crackling chuckle. “I suppose they were,” Palladion admitted. “Soon, I will cease to function, and it appears that humanity will finally die with me.”
Bronze sat down, rubbing his leg. This was awkward, talking to a thing that was dying. “You... you are very old?”
“Yes. Not as old as your Celestia, though.”
“...You must have seen a lot in your time,” Bronze guessed.
“I saw altogether too much, I think.”
“Would you... tell me some of the things you have seen?”
A click. “My memory banks are faulty,” the AI reported. “I can only recall short events, few and far between. Perhaps even outright fabrication. I fear they will be of little use to anyone.”
“That’s fine,” Bronze reassured the machine. “Anything is fine.”
“Very well.” Palladion’s ‘eye’ blinked. “Commencing playback...”
APCs critical. All personnel, evacuate immediately.
Space had been the final frontier. Had. Humans had been there, done that. Now, they turned the power of science on reality itself, piercing the heavens with a drill of technology and energy manipulation.
They delved deep and greedily into new worlds with Blue Space technology. Today, they’d delved too deep.
Warning, singularity containment failed. Engineering crew to Engineering. Unknown radiation in Engineering.
Doctor Greene stared into the rift before him, ignoring the plaintive, garbled bleeps of his failing voidsuit, and the pain of his own failing organs. The winged, horned creature on the other side stared back, radiant like the sun.
Paramedic teams to Engineering. Doctor Greene is in critical condition.
There were no words, only a proffered hoof. All crew that came here expected to die on this station - Blue Space technology was unstable, dangerous. Nobody feared death.
Greene was afraid, because Death wouldn’t find him today. Something else entirely, had.
#arning &nknow% lifefor@ dete$ted in Eng#nee@ing
Greene took the hoof, and felt himself change. Bones moving. Flesh being shaped like putty. Hooves.
He felt beyond himself, and felt only the warmth of a mother's embrace.
He opened his eyes, and saw beyond the rift, saw a land of green and plenty. A utopia.
He felt the energy that flowed forth. No longer did it kill him slowly, now it made him happier. Stronger.
Death could no longer come for Greene, because...
The human Greene was no more. He was a pony.
The sniper exhaled gently as he lay prone, his rifle to his shoulder and glinting in the light of the sunrise. The plan was flawless, and going according to plan. His rifle, forged of orichalcum, and loaded with just one, magic-nullifying round. One shot that could slay a god... like the one below.
He watched as Celestia sat atop her chariot, coming to the end of her parade. And, the sniper thought, the end of her life. Nietzche would have a field day with the HLF sniper right now. Killing a god? Who was he to do that?
Perfect conditions, perfect planning, and total stealth. She wouldn’t, couldn’t escape his scope; he had one bullet, and that was plenty.
His finger curled around the trigger, when-
His finger met hard resistance, he was unable to shoot - the safety had been toggled! The offending finger belonged not to him, but... another man, dressed just as he was in black fatigues and bodysuit, goggles obscuring his face as he leaned over the sniper.
The sniper rolled over, going for a sweeping kick; the other man avoided the attack, and yanked the sniper’s rifle away from him, as if he knew just what to do.
“Who the fuck are you?!” The sniper demanded to know, scuttling backwards and getting to his feet, preparing to fight. “How did you find me? I told noone of this position!”
“I’m you,” the other man said. “From the future. I came to stop you.”
“Lies!” the sniper spat. “If you were me, you wouldn’t stop me! Celestia must die!”
“If she dies,” the future man said, “Humanity dies with her. That’s a fact.”
“How do you know?” the sniper asked, sneering.
“I know, because I saw it all,” the future man replied. “Magic will spread unchecked, killing millions of humans. Ponification will no longer work.” The man pointed at the Princess. “I killed her. We killed her. By killing her, we sign the death warrant for billions. We commit the genocide, not her.”
The sniper numbly caught the rifle as it was thrown back to him.
“Shoot, or don’t,” the future man said. “It’s your choice. I know what I’d pick.”
The sniper looked at his weapon. He looked at the princess. He raised the orichalcum rifle, weighed the fate of all mankind in the palm of his hand... and chose.
The day was filled with pomp and ceremony - it was a big day for the HLF’s new regional commander, after all.
“Thank you, thank you all!” he cried. “You do me the honor of choosing me to lead us all in this time of war against those filthy equines!”
He thrust a fist into the air, the crowd cheered, and the commander nodded in satisfaction. He still had it, and- what the hell was that?
He looked closer; a white equine stood at the back of the hall, smiling calmly at him. Wings, horn... golden crown... flowing mane... it was Celestia!
“I see her!” the commander shouted, pointing. “It’s Celestia! Kill her now!”
With a silent flash of sunlight, Celestia vanished, leaving behind nothing at all. The HLF at large turned to look, and saw nothing, muttering in confusion.
“She was right there,” protested the Commander. “You were all too slow to look!”
The HLF just tittered amongst themselves. Was this their new leader?
The Regional Commander leaned over his map - every bit of his new domain, down to conversion rates and remaining human population.
“Your sandwich, Commander,” an aide said, holding a plate with the namesake item on it, a simple, toasted cheese sandwich.
“Just leave it there,” the Commander said, “and leave me.”
“Yessir.” The aide saluted, and walked out, leaving the sandwich on the edge of the table. The commander returned to his map.
The commander looked up, and saw Celestia, holding what was left of his sandwich; crumbs on her only mildly guilty-looking face betrayed where the other half had gone.
“What?” she defended. “I missed lunch. It’s a very nice sandwich, by the way, top notch.”
“You!” The commander reached for his holster; no pistol. Celestia smiled, and with another flash of light, vanished.
“Aaaaaaaagh!” the commander screamed, slamming a fist into the table.
The two guards looked at each other, standing outside a door. Armed to the teeth, enough to kill a herd of ponies.
“Any idea why we’re babysitting the new commander?” One asked.
“No idea,” Two said. “I can’t believe we’re on ‘round the clock.”
Inside the room, the Commander settled in to go to sleep; perhaps this was all just a trick of his mind, all the sightings of Celestia. Pressure must be getting to him.
He sighed, and shut his eyes, trying to go to sleep. But something long and wet touched the inside of his ear, and his eyes shot open.
He slowly looked to his right to see Celestia, tongue hanging out.
“Blolololop!” she said, winking, smiling, and vanishing once more. The HLF commander couldn’t take it any more.
This story sprang from the mind of one Erac, I just penned it properly - why not go give him some love?
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the MC said, looking at the crowd. “...Mares and Gentlecolts. The Mike Comedy Club is proud to present a special guest for open mic night tonight - the one, the only... Princess Celestia!”
The crowd didn’t need to be coerced into clapping for this; this was the first ever public appearance of the Princess ever since persons unknown released her from the fabled box that had held her prisoner for so long.
In other words, it was history.
A grey earth pony wheeled a small cloth-covered cart onto the stage, parking it in front of the microphone. The pony removed the cloth with a flourish, and the crowd gasped. Sitting, immersed in a tank of slightly green fluid, was a unicorn’s head. The crown and flowing mane left no doubt as to who it was.
“Hello!” Celestia’s head spoke, startling people. “It’s great to be here in the Chicago megadome! Let’s hear it for the Equestrian head of state, huh?”
A moment passed, while people comprehended what was going on. Celestia’s decapitated head. Was doing stand-up comedy. Making head jokes. Really?
Celestia coughed. “You know,” she said, “I was backstage getting my snout powdered for this, and you know what the makeup artist said? “I thought you’d be taller”. Unbelievable, right?”
The crowd chuckled. Celestia looked down at a non-existant body.
“It’s a funny old thing, really,” she remarked. “The first time I ever do stand-up comedy, and it’s when I can’t actually stand up.”
More laughter, a little more widespread this time.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Celestia said, her head turning sideways as if she was pacing. “The last few dozen years off have really given me a chance for self-improvement. For one, I lost a lot of weight.”
The laughter spread further still.
“I even picked up perfume making,” Celestia turned the other way, “Something I’ve always wanted to try. I’m not very good at it, though, the fragrances are a little heady.”
The MC, off-stage, snorted.
“Even had a mane cut; asked for a little off the top, look what I got.” Celestia snorted, looking at her mane. “Manestylists.”
The crowd broke into fully fledged guffaws, and Celestia smiled.
“It’s not all bad, though,” she countered. “They comped me, and now I get to cut to the head of the line!”
The crowd, as one, began to laugh, and Celestia grinned; she’d achieved her goal.
“Well, that’s me for the night, folks; thanks for having me, and don’t worry - I won’t let the sudden popularity go to my head! My next show’s in Nag’s Head, Northern Carolinadome! Goodnight!”
The crowd stood as one, and began to clap as the cart was once more wheeled off the stage and down a corridor, the laughter following the Sun Princess as she went.
“Art thou happy now, Sister?” Luna asked, losing the earth pony disguise.
“Very,” Celestia grinned. “It’s been years since I got to have fun like this. What’s next on the list?”
The mare whimpered as she cowered under her desk, the crack and snap of gunfire in the air. Shouting, screaming. Sounds that shouldn’t be heard in a Conversion Bureau.
There was a grunt of pain, and a smash of glass -- with a crash, a unicorn landed on top of her desk, and fell off, landing in front of her. He was already dead, his armor stitched with holes that leaked red, his weapon fired barely once before he’d fallen.
These not-humans with gas-masks, armor, guns, and glowing green eyes were Summer Glade’s nightmares made manifest.
“Summer, did you see the advertisement in town?” an earth pony mare asked.
“I saw it, Autumn,” a unicorn stallion grunted. “Sounds mighty fine to me.”
“Was I talking to you, Winter?” Autumn pouted.
“Hey,” Winter held up two hooves in defense. “Just sayin’.”
“I saw it,” Summer affirmed.
“Isn’t it great?” Autumn gushed. “We get to teach all those new ponies how to be ponies!”
“I’m more excited about the way humans do paperwork,” an earth pony stallion said, polishing his glasses. “A use for my talent, for once.”
“You’re such a nerd, Spring,” Winter accused.
“And pray tell,” Spring retorted. “What does a brute like yourself see in a Bureau? It is an environment best suited to... nerds.”
“Easy,” Winter brought up a leg, flexing it. “Security. They need ponies to protect you nerds, and the Guard can’t be everywhere. Hello.”
“I... don’t want to go,” Summer mumbled, looking at her hooves.
“Whaaaa?” Autumn said, surprised. “Why for? The pay’s good, and we’ll probably make a lot of new friends everywhere, and most of those newfoals are making huge names for themselves! Imagine having a friend who could hook us up for tickets to the next G3?”
“Humans are...” Summer blushed. “Scary. The Human Liberation Front...” Summer protested.
“One bad doesn’t make them all bad,” Spring smiled. “Come on, just give it a try. Sign up for like, six months.”
Tell you what,” Winter said, nodding. “I’ll make a point of asking to be buddied up with you. That way, I can protect you. Okay?”
Summer sighed, and grimacing, nodded.
“Okay. I’ll give it a try.”
“Oh, Winter,” she sobbed. “This was a bad idea. I told you...”
“Who’s there?” a digitally-distorted voice barked from just outside the room. “Show yourself!”
Summer wept silently. What would Winter do?
Her eyes fell to the shotgun, Winter’s, in front of her.
Gotta be strong. For Winter.
A bang echoed through the air, and there was a crash as the HLF soldier flew backwards, his voice changer squealing in feedback.
The sound of a shotgun being racked echoed through the air, and the soft plack of a plastic tube hitting the ground was heard. The other soldiers turned to see a yellow mare standing in the broken window, a shotgun riding at her side, clasped in a blue, magical glow.
“My name is Summer Glade,” she spat. “You killed my friend. Prepare to die.”