Out from the Cradle
She had to admit, the view was glorious.
Below the ship, Equestria turned, a large, quiet ball above which the ship hung suspended. It still amazed her just what they'd accomplished from studying that wreckage, especially in so short a time.
Twilight Sparkle shook her head. “The Crash” was what most ponies called it, that night when the massive ship had come tumbling out of the stars. Princess Celestia had quickly quarantined the remains, but not for long. There was no way she could keep that kind of secret for long.
It was a ship, more massive than anything built by ponykind, before or since. And parts of it had been alive. Its builders weren't ponies, but another species. Bipedal, with odd hands that reminded Twilight very much of monkeys.
Figuring out what it all was had taken years. The ship had crashed when she was just a foal, no more than five. Technology had progressed rapidly through the last twenty years. The biggest changes had come when she was fifteen, when they'd finally translated the written language of the ship's occupants. That had led to a greater understanding of the 'Human' technologies.
She shook herself out of reminiscing and strode down the corridor. There was a surprising amount of hustle and bustle on board. She knew that the number of ponies on board would only decrease in the coming hours, as the Seabound made its first journey.
She poked her head through the hatch behind the cockpit. “Hey, you two. Everything's okay back here?”
Applejack poked her head out from behind the massive, semi-organic computers. “Well, Twi, I reckon’ it’ll work. Did in the short-range hops, didn’t it?”
From nearby, Rarity scoffed. “Why they have to be so ugly, though, is beyond me.”
"Won’t work otherwise,” AJ fired back. Rarity turned and began to chew into Applejack’s statement, and Twilight left the pair to the small argument. Her wanderings took her forward, towards the small, semi-cramped space that would serve as her home for the journey.
It had always struck the researchers as odd, that the set-up in the cockpit of the crashed ship appeared to be for someone casting a spell of far viewing, rather than amplifying a natural teleport. Nopony had ever been able to figure out exactly why that was.
She let the thought drop from her mind as she felt a familiar presence approach her. “Princess Celestia!” she said, bowing with her usual respect.
"Twilight Sparkle, you really don't need to be so formal with me.” Celestia smiled warmly. “I'm surprised you're still up, actually. I would've thought you would go to bed early.”
"Just...checking to make sure everything will work,” Twilight said, hesitating only a moment in her response.
"In other words,” the Princess said knowingly, “You're too nervous and excited to sleep.”
"Well...yeah. I mean, we still don't understand half this stuff. And it's supposed to give us the ability to go between the stars themselves? Princess, that sounds a little fantastic, even to me.” Twilight looked at Celestia, concern etched on the violet pony's face.
"Perhaps,” Celestia admitted. “But things like this are natural. Sometimes you can't know everything, but must take something on faith. It's my belief that this ship's abilities are one of those things.”
"And...if we get lost?” Twilight asked. “Not that I'm worried it'll happen, or anything, but-”
"Then I'll come find you,” Celestia said, cutting Twilight off abruptly. “Now, then. You need your sleep.”
Twilight let herself be led back to her quarters. With some reassurances from the Princess and Spike, Twilight finally fell asleep.
“So, is she going to be okay?” Spike asked quietly. Celestia nodded.
“She's just stressed. She'll do better once the ship gets under way.” Celestia chuckled a little. “I don't blame her.”
“I don't either. But it's a big deal, and everyone's been making a fuss-” Spike began, and Celestia turned a wan smile on the young dragon.
“-And that only serves to make her a bigger perfectionist.” Celestia finished. “I know. But she'll do it, even if things are imperfect.” She strode into the corridor, Spike following.
“I hope so. You know how obsessive she gets,” Spike pointed out evenly.
Celestia only laughed. Spike sighed, and returned to the room he shared with Twilight.
The helmet settled over her head, fixing around her horn. It wasn't exactly comfortable, but it fit. That was what mattered.
"All right, Twi, we're in position,” Rainbow Dash's voice echoed in her ears. “Do your thing.”
Twilight closed her eyes. “Equestrian ship Seabound, ready for jump.”
"Good luck, Twilight Sparkle,” came Celestia's voice. Twilight thanked her silently, then let her mind out. It touched the ship's organic computers, and finally let her awareness expand. Behind her, the computers pulsed to life. Her mind registered some surprise as they actually touched her mind; she could feel them. She could feel the whole ship. She found the destination she'd wanted, the nearby star listed in the human databases.
She sucked in a deep breath, and felt the universe around her. She focused, focusing her teleport spell. She felt the spell expand, engulf the ship. And then it happened, pulling the Seabound through infinity.
From the outside, it was very much normal unicorn teleport. The magic built up in a sphere; a moment later it collapsed. And so, in a lot of ways it was. The only thing that was different was the distances involved. The distances in turn increased the time before the ship would reappear at its destination.
The days slid past. Twilight remained isolated, in meditation, pausing only to eat as she guided the ship through the ethereal currents of the void. Finally, nearly a week later, the Seabound emerged from its teleport. Her senses reached through the interface, touched the universe around the Seabound. Around, in many ways, what was an extension of herself. She allowed herself a single sentence:
"We have jumped.”