71w, 2dHuman in Equestria
63w, 2dPony Warfare
63w, 2dThe Writer's Group
62w, 6dPonies in the Real World
62w, 6dPonies of War
56w, 4dRead Later
- Show All Groups
56w, 11hHumans Aren't Bastards
52w, 6dThe Usual
30w, 5dBattlefield: Equestria
21w, 6hPonies in the Military
19w, 3dWarriors in Equestria
11w, 4dTechnology VS. Magic
10w, 2dThe Good HiE List
2d, 3hHumans are Superior
Chapter Four: Through The Looking Glass
Lenard opened his eyes.
He saw blue.
He saw white.
He blinked again.
The white faded into...
Out of his cockpit, he saw a landscape not unlike what he'd seen his entire life: blue skies, green trees, white clouds, and a yellow sun. Yet, somehow, it all looked a bit...
Lenard closed his eyes.
He saw black.
"Yaahhhh!" the young pilot screamed as consciousness leaked back into him.
He was on his back, looking up at the stars.
"What- So... I dreamt that then? Or... no."
He found himself lying on some kind of really soft bed, looking up at the stars.
"Wait! where's my roof!? And why is the moon so bright?" he questioned.
He sat up and took inventory of his situation. He immediately found something wrong. One, he wasn't in a bed. Two the ground he was lying on was snow white. Three, behind him, there was some creature eying him with an almost quizzical look on its face. Its eyes were a creepy purplish color. The rest of it wasn't illuminated enough to see.
The creature continued to stare him down, so he took off his helmet and starred back, to much in shock to speak.
"Wait, I'm wearing my helmet! It wasn't a dream!" Lenard exclaimed. He also noticed that his parachute was still strapped to his back, unopened.
The strange creature jumped back, obviously surprised by both his outburst, and the removal of his helmet. Lenard stood up to address this, then immediately fell back down. The surface of the ground was strangely soft, and the creature seemed to be confused by his clumsiness.
He stood up again, this time with much more caution, and succeeded. He squinted, trying to get a better look at this... whatever it was.
The creature looked to be about four or five feet tall, but it was hard to determine in the darkness. He looked around again, and saw something that didn't make any sense whatsoever. The ground was far below him, and he appeared to be standing on some kind of plushy platform. Realizing that he was suspended several feet in the air, he yelled,
"Where in the world am I?!"
The creature looked up at him, and did something that almost made him fall off the platform.
"Uh, you're in Cloudsdale?"
It just spoke.
Trembling, and with a look of terror and confusion of his own, Lenard fumbled around for his flash light. It was where it always was, in his bottom left pocket in his flight suit. He dropped it, picked it up, turned it on, and shined it on the creature's face.
The creature cringed and looked away. "Hey, what was that for!?" the creature yelled.
"Who are you?! What are you?! And what are the exact coordinates of this "Cloudsdale" place you're talking about?!" Lenard asked, just as loudly. "What is this!?"
"You tell me what this is!" the creature shot back.
Lenard was not having any of this.
"I asked you first, now who and what are you?!" he demanded.
"Fine! My name is Rainbow Dash, and you destroyed my house, moron! Now who are you!?" the creature yelled with a much more angry look.
"You're house?! What house?! there's only...
It didn't make any sense, but it seemed that he was standing on a cloud, and so was this creature. The only logical explanation was that the mission had been a success, and he was... somewhere.
Lenard collapsed into the surface beneath him and began to hyperventilate. "I'm- *gasp* Captain *gasp* Lenard Greene of the *gasp* United States Air Force! S-Serial number *inhale* 23-762-698! I- I-I'm on a mission of e- explor- exploration! I'm *exhale* required t-t-to say that, *gasp* I th-think! Now- You- Who-"
He took a moment to try and collect himself.
"Y-Y-You said I b- b-broke your house?" he stammered, not knowing if his words meant anything to the creature in front of him.
"Yeah, see, look!" The creature answered and pointed forward with its... hooves?
It gestured towards a strange looking house that appeared to made out of, unbelievably, clouds. Part of it was sunken in and, inexplicably, appeared to be smoking.
"Well I'm sorry, M-m-miss, erm, D- Dash! I'm just a little c-confused here, you know what I mean!? What- what do you want me to do about it?!" the captain asked, not completely convinced that any of this was real.
The creature put one of its... hooves to its chin.
"Not much now, I already put out the fire! But you can explain what exactly you are, and how you did all this damage!"
Internally, Lenard was still asking himself how a cloud could be on fire, but he snapped back to reality or wherever this was, and uttered, "I- I don't want any trouble! I'm just a pilot! I didn't come here to hurt anyone! I just flew through an anomaly thing and woke up here! I mean- Just- talking horses?! This is all just- wrong!"
"I don't know what what you're talkin' about, but I'm callin' the guard if you don't tell me what's going on! And the Wonderbolts for backup!" Dash stopped. "You really don't know what I am either, do you?" Dash realized. "I'm a pegasus for cryin' out loud! You haven't ever met another pony before?! What kinda freak are you?!"
"Ponies I've met! But never one that could talk to me!" Greene answered. "This is all some sort of lie! It has to be! It's gotta be some sick psychological test they're running on me in my sleep! Ponies don't talk! Period!"
"They were probably too shy because of the way you look! No offense, but you ain't normal lookin'!" Dash spoke as if that wasn't offensive. "Wait! You said you flew here! You can fly?! But you don't have wings!"
Lenard gasped, remembering how he came to be... wherever he was.
"My god, the jet! Where is it?!" he urgently asked.
"What's a jet?" the pegasus wondered aloud.
Lenard realized just how far away from home he was. Now faced with the reality that he really was in another world, he found himself trying to explain something that just about every human child grew up knowing. How does one explain the concept of fixed wing aircraft to someone that doesn't already know?
"Think of it as a big metal machine, with wings and, engines!" he desperately tried to explain. "How could you miss that?!"
He looked around for the tell-tale smoke and flame of a wrecked aircraft, but saw none. the ground seemed to be completely clear of any wreckage.
"Okay! Gotta calm down! M- Miss Dash, have you seen any wrecks, or crashes or something falling out of the sky recently?!"
"No, Mister, uh, Greene, wasn't it? You can just call me Rainbow Dash, I never liked fancy names, they make me feel old... and slow. and I'm not either of those," she answered.
"Listen to me!!! No fiery destruction of any kind?!" the pilot asked.
"Not unless you count Rarity's reaction to seeing Prince Blueblood again," she chuckled under her breath. "So this jet machine, it lets you fly?" she queried.
"Yes! Yes! That's right!"
"And it's metal, and has wings?" she asked.
"Yes!" the pilot answered enthusiastically
"And it flies? Metal is too heavy to fly, isn't it?" asked the mare.
"Apparently not! Have. You. Seen it?!" the pilot asked yet again.
"No, unless it's that thing." she pointed to a cloud floating slightly lower than the one they were standing on.
There, inexplicably, was his F-15, comically wedged straight through one of the clouds. Without thinking, Lenard hopped off of his cloud and onto the one the jet was impaled though. While Lenard skillfully searched the plane for any damage or faults, Rainbow Dash lazily drifted down, and took in the sight before her.
"You were right, it is pretty big!" she spoke. "Wait! Are you an alien?! Or some kinda spy?! Whatever this is thing is, it's way bigger than Twilight's balloon!"
Greene ignored her. "I can't be stuck here! No, no, no!" He reached the downed aircraft. "It's a little scratched up, but it looks like it would still fly!" the pilot spoke, still trembling. "Now how do I get it down?!" he yelled to the heavens.
"Chill, dude! It's too late now, but in the morning we could go get some other pegasai and push the cloud down!" the pegasus responded.
"Push?! A cloud?! Down?!" Despite that odd suggestion, Lenard felt calm for the first time since he'd arrived in... wherever she said this place was. Then immediately his heart rate shot back up, and he began to panic as he realized that he had forgotten something very important.
"Wait! Reed! Kaiser! Where are my wingmen!?"
"Welcome to the Ponyville Inn, my name is Airy Breeze. How may I he-"
The horned receptionist stopped as she laid eyes on the new type of creature she'd never seen before.
"My, my, what do we have here?" the desk pony asked. "Forgive my manners, can I help you?"
Greene had long since abandoned his manic line of thought in place of a quiet acceptance, simply going along with whatever he saw without question. "It's quite alright. I'll explain everything in the morning. For now, I just need a good night's sleep," the tired pilot spoke.
He reached into one of his flight suit pockets, and retrieved several coins given to him by Rainbow Dash, who after a few brief explanations, suggested he check into the local hotel, sleep, and leave the problems for tomorrow. The pegasus then took her own advice, and passed out on a cloud. Unsure of anything, he snuck away to find this hotel himself.
Two hours had passed before he had found the place. In reality, it was probably about thirty minutes or so, but in his current state, even the passage of time seemed tired. He had floated down using his reserve parachute, then wandered through town, eventually finding the place.
He snapped back to reality. The receptionist pony, which Lenard now recognized was, unbelievably, a unicorn, just as the blue pegasus had described, took the money, gave some of it back, and gave Lenard a room key. It wasn't the electronic card keys he was used too, but an actual metal key. He wondered how these "ponies" could even use such a device, seeing as they lacked hands or fingers. But it was far too late to ponder such things. Had he been more awake, he would have noticed that the key had floated into his hand. Oblivious to this, he walked up to the matching room number on his key, turned the lock, and entered his room. The door was low, as it was designed for the slightly shorter creatures that typically traversed it. Inside, the lamp, the nightstand it sat on, and the bed itself, all seemed to be completely unergonomic for someone of equine form.
That didn't seem to bother them, so it didn't bother him. He inspected his bed, climbed into it still in his flight suit, and began running over his day.
"Let's see. I got into a plane, flew into an alien dimension, went to an alien hotel, and now I'm wondering just what happened to my squadron... my friends."
There were many other questions: like how did all these ponies, as well as he, stand on clouds? Why do they speak the same language we do? What are the odds that they'd call their world Earth, just like us? And what crazier things were to be found in the morning when everyone realized that there was an alien among them?
He chuckled at the thought of them seeing him as an alien, then remembered that Rainbow Dash had mentioned that one of her friends, an "egg-headed" unicorn might be able to help him figure out all these questions. Although she also mentioned that this friend of hers would probably have just as many questions for him.
He wished he could have talked with the cyan mare a little longer, there were many things he wanted to know, about ponies, the world he now found himself in, and how he might find his friends, if they were still alive.
Knowing that he'd just have to wait and see, Lenard finally allowed exhaustion to overtake him, and the intrepid pilot quietly fell asleep.
"I got to get home! Gerry, Mike! Where are you!?"
There was a knock at the hotel room door.
The ever so graceful captain fell out of his bed, still wearing his flight suit.
"Whoever you are, can it wait until morning?" the still exhausted pilot weakly asked.
"Uh, it is morning, and I'd like to talk with you," came a voice from the other side of the door.
The pilot opened his eyes and now saw that, to his dismay, it was indeed morning, and the strange fantasy he thought was a dream, was still in fact, very real. He lazily walked over to the door and opened it, revealing a green Equestrian male with bizarrely spiked green and white hair, err, mane he remembered. This pony was wearing a necktie. This must be an "Earth" pony, he thought, lacking wings and horns, but supposedly possessing far greater strength than the others and some kind of "ground link," or at least that's what he remembered Rainbow telling him.
The green stallion spoke, "Greetings, I am Lime Tree Hill, assistant to the Mayor, or Vice Mayor, as it were, and I have been sent to invite you to a meeting with the Mayor of this town, in order to figure certain things out, I guess."
"Alright, but how did you even know I was here?! Just about everyone was asleep when I got here!" the human answered.
"Rainbow Dash told everypony, and the news of Ponyville's visitor spread pretty quickly, until it eventually reached the Mayor herself. I can take you too her now, if you want."
"Sure, just let me get my stuff from, uh," he paused, "Cloudsdale."
By the time Lenard arrived, a team of pegasai had already assembled around the plane-impaled cloud. The two pegasai that had carried him up had joined the other curious ponies eying the strange contraption. Many of them had looks of wonder and excitement. Some were touching it, trying to figure out how it worked. Even a certain rainbow-maned pegasus seemed interested. When Lenard walked over to the cloud, those looks of wonder and excitement turned to him, eying this new and amazing guest. He sheepishly waived to them as he approached, and tried his best to answer their questions.
"How does this thing work? Why is it so heavy? Is this symbol your cutie mark? Why do you walk on only two legs, dragons walk on two legs, but you're not a dragon, are you? Why is your mane so short? How can you stand on clouds? Can we please just get this plane down now?"
Admittedly, that last question was his.
"I'll explain everything to you guys later. In fact, I've been invited to talk to the mayor later on." Lenard explained. "So let's focus on getting this plane down to the ground first, alright? Then, answers for everyone!"
The pegasai smiled excitedly, then put on serious, determined expressions. They flew down to the large cloud and began to push downward. The force made small waves in the cloud, if that was possible, and knocked Lenard to his knees. He got up, and realized that the cloud, and the plane crashed trough it, hadn't moved.
Rainbow Dash spoke up, "We're going to need more pegasai."
"Or just more power," Lenard added, "I've got an idea."
He heard a yell from below. "It's not working, should I get help?"
"it's all right Lime, I got this," Lenard answered.
"Are you sure?" the green stallion asked nervously.
Lenard carefully walked over to the plane. The nose and canopy of the plane were lodged into the cloud.
"Everyone, stand back! You don't want to be on this cloud right now!" he warned.
He made sure his parachute was securely fashioned to his suit, hopping he wouldn't need it. The ponies watched as he dug into the cloud, still amazed that such a thing was possible. After a suitable hole was opened, he stood up and warned to ponies once again, telling them to stay away from the rear of the jet. He then jumped into the now exposed cockpit, which somehow still had its seat.
"I had to have ejected for some reason," he muttered, confused. "-but then how is the seat and canopy still here?" He looked around, but saw no sign of answers. The cockpit looked perfectly normal. "I'll worry about it later. Alright. Pre-flight checks... Plenty of fuel. Power looks steady..."
"What's he doing?" A pegasus spoke to another nearby,
"I think he'd examining it for ticks or something," the pegasus answered as Greene climbed out and began to carefully examine the inner and outer sections of the plane, opening panels and looking over various gauges.
After a thorough set of tests and checks, the pilot climbed back into the cockpit. "Alright I'm turning it on!" he yelled out to the spectators, hopping they headed his warnings. The young pilot watched as the Cloudsdale constables began to move the onlookers to a safe distance. He'd rather not have to tell this place's authorities that he'd killed some poor soul.
Greene toggled the power controls, and the cockpit lit up. Then he flicked the engine controls and waited.
He tapped the engine controls again.
The engine coughed but refused to spin up. He climbed out of the cockpit and made his way to the intakes, which were stuffed with.... clouds?
He finally gave up trying to comprehend the surface on which he stood, and effortlessly pulled out the stoppage. He jumped back in front of the controls, and toggled the engine switches again. This time, the engine began to groan, quietly at first, but slowly turning into the roar he knew quite well. He noticed the pegasai seemed to be having trouble holding on to their jaws. Some were talking, but the engines we're far too loud to hear anything.
The pegasai backed off, and Lenard closed the canopy, hopping his plan would work. On the ground, a small crowd of earth ponies and unicorns seemed to be watching intently, unaware of what was to happen next. Based on all he knew of the cloud, which admittedly was not much, Lenard began to formulate a plan.
The altimeter read: "200 Ft."
"That's not enough distance to get the plane going if it falls through the cloud, but it would hold, wouldn't it?" he thought to himself, unsure.
The plane itself seemed to be ready to go, so he did what came naturally: He jammed the throttle wide open, maximum thrust.
The cloud lurched forward.
Lenard could feel every shake, shutter, and vibration in his bones. But he was moving. At first, it appeared to be a slow drift, but soon the cloud picked up a bit of speed and the deafening roar of the engines echoed throughout the entire area. He couldn't tell, but he was pretty sure a few more heads turned up towards the sky. According to the heads up display, he was moving 47 mph.
The cloud seemed to be dropping off around the jet, and small puffs of white began to flutter behind him. With an almost audible "poof," the cloud dissipated completely, and despite Rainbow Dash's earlier assumptions, the F-15 was flying.
"Whooooo, hooooooooo!" the now exuberant pilot yelled, looking out of the canopy to get his bearings. The HUD now displayed an indicated speed of 305.
"That's one less thing to worry about," he smiled smugly, happy his harebrained scheme had worked.
He circled around and flew back towards the cloud platforms.
Some seemed greatly impressed with his close flyby, while others seemed to be scared out of their wits. In the brief glance he got of Rainbow Dash, she appeared to just be staring.
"Okay. Procedure was to contact the base. Time to find a way back," Greene thought out loud.
For the next few seconds, the F-15 spun, flew almost sideways, dived, swung, looped and zoomed above all the ponies, many sporting foal like looks of utter amazement. Its pilot pulled off high speed passes, low speed passes, jukes and rolls, but an anomaly refused to appear. He adjusted the settings of his radio.
...."Dobbins Air Command, are you reading this transmission?"....
There was no answer.
He climbed to 10,000 feet, looked around to get his position, and throttled up to maximum speed run. The F-15 speed up to about 600 mph as he rocketed away from the town. Everypony looked around for the plane, wondering where it had disappeared to.
Suddenly, something moving faster than anything anypony had ever seen before, flashed by at no less than Mach 3.1.
The equine spectators looked confused at first. Why was there no sound?
A deafening boom was the last thing anypony heard for the next thirty seconds, followed by an explosion of radiant greys, whites, and fiery colors as the sound wave caught up to crowd.
"Nothing. No portal! No communications! I'm running out of options here," Greene muttered to himself.
Despite the ringing in their ears, the ponies below clapped and cheered enthusiastically.
"Are they clapping?" Greene thought from high above in the aircraft. "Hmm. Must have thought I was showing off."
Pleased with himself, the pilot throttled down to subsonic speed, and quickly realized he was in serious trouble.
It seemed that somehow the engines now read "low on fuel" despite being nearly full just seconds before. Something had completely drained the fuel tanks, and he had put no thought into where he would land.
"The tanks were full a few seconds ago!"
Out of reflex, he frantically yelled into his helmet radio.
...."This is Intrepid-Sparrow one. I am bingo fuel and need a place to land immediately! Repeat, I am bingo fuel and need a place to land!"....
He wasn't surprised when no answer came.
As the engines began to flutter, and the klaxons blared, Lenard pulled the ejector.
Realizing that without ejection, getting out safely would be almost impossible. He had no way out, other than landing the plane.
He noticed a prismatic streak of light behind him, struggling to keep up. He throttled down and braked. The streak maneuvered up to his canopy, and revealed itself to be a winded Rainbow Dash. Lenard yelled out to her, hoping that somehow, she would hear his plight.
Somehow, she did.
Rainbow forced one of her hooves against the overpowering wind pressure, and pointed down toward an open clearing that might be large enough to land a jet, but not necessarily long enough to land one safely.
He had no choice. He had no more than a few minutes of fuel, and he wasn't about to waste it looking for another clearing. Lenard looked at the cyan mare flying alongside him with a worried smile. She had and equally nervous smile, but continued to point toward the clearing. Lenard nodded, then dropped his landing gear. and silently whispered,
"I guess there really isn't any going back now."
The two flew in formation towards a very uncertain landing.