The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has much to say on inevitability, almost all of which is utterly dismissive. In an infinite universe it says, more or less anything is possible. Even when one is trapped on a broken starship hurtling through deep space to seemingly certain doom, there could, at any moment between the birth of the universe and the final crash, be set in motion a chain of events that will ensure said crash never occurs. And even after the event, the invention of time travel and the multidimensional nature of reality means that there is no guarantee of anything at all. It would be possible, for example, for the entire ensemble of beings currently seemingly doomed aboard the Heart of Gold to be rescued by, say, randomly intersecting with a gravitational fluctuation caused by a passing vogon ship. It could even be rescued by a giant flock of Arcturan megabudgies – curious creatures with hundreds of reflective wings, which coast about the galaxy, sailing on the photons of the stars and feeding on stray molecules here and there in the ether.
Conveniently enough, such a flock is passing through space on almost a direct collision course as we speak. This would provide a very convenient solution, were the rescue actually to take place. It doesn’t for several reasons. Firstly, this particular flock actually passes no closer than half a lightyear to the ship. Secondly, outside of hypothetical scenarios, Arcturan megabudgies are not in fact sapient enough to decide on any such course of action. Thirdly, our crew have recently been going through their allocated “million-to-one chance” rescues at a rather alarming rate, and it’s about time they got what logically should be coming to them. The universe will only make so many allowances. Fourthly and finally, it is a recognised fact that Arcturan megabudgies are, to a bird, absolute arseholes. Non-sapient arseholes, but still generally arseholes.
As it is, the ship continues to speed through deep space at a thoroughly uncomfortable velocity. On board, the ponies have taken the news in a variety of ways.
Rainbow Dash lay on a bed. She was shaking from the tips of her hooves to the primary feathers on each wing. Nopony could say that she was easily scared – at least, nopony that didn’t want to bear witness to A) a spectacular show of daredevil tricks, or B) a pair of hind hooves approaching their face at high speed. She could and would do anything to prove that she was no coward.
But that was the problem right there. A stunt was hers to do or die at, a fight was all on her. Danger could usually be dealt with, if you had the ability, and one thing Rainbow never doubted was her own ability. This was something very different. From what Pinkie had said, this was something that NONE of them could do anything about, and from what Twilight said, this was something only a pony with a solid understanding of magic and/or astrophysics could do anything about. Rainbow had protested that as the only pony present who had willingly left the upper atmosphere (dares being sacred at Junior Speedsters Flight Camp), she was perfectly qualified to weigh in on space travel, but nopony had listened. Now she was lying here on a bed, devoid of anything to do to avert what seemed like certain death for her and her friends. It was... horrible.
Her body was considering mutiny; that could be the only reason it wouldn’t listen to her and stop shaking. It was apparent that her inability to think of a course of action had caused every part of her body to begin questioning its allegiance. A vote of no confidence was being brought against the brain, but it was clear some parts were baying for worse. She concentrated, and managed to quell the rebellion in her wings enough to stop them from shaking. The rest of her body would not stop its tremors.
“Snap out of it!”
The bodily proletariat refused to snap out of it. In fact, her eyes seemed to be betraying her right to her face.
“I won’t cry!” she muttered resentfully, and against all available evidence. There was a hum and a satisfied voice announced to the world that it was very happy to allow somepony admittance to this room.
Rainbow made a desperate mental scramble for something she could do that would make it seem like she had been doing that thing the whole time she was in here. Come on, there was always an excuse of some sort! There had to be! There was always a solution somewhere. Otherwise the universe was just being unfair.
A single butter yellow wing settled on her back, and Rainbow Dash, president for life of the awesome pony Rainbow Dash, gave in.
Fluttershy suddenly found herself at the epicentre of a slightly damp hug that crushed the air from her lungs.
“There there...” she said, which is the sort of thing one says when one has no real words of comfort to offer, but has to say something anyway.
Twilight paced. It was a pacing sort of situation. In front of her were two aliens. One of them looked suitably alien: twice as many heads, twice as many horns and just about half as much brainpower. The other was one of her best friends. Between their knowledge of space travel and her intellect she felt certain something could be done. The trouble was, from her perspective, that both of them had managed to down a few drinks before she had got control of them. In truth, that computer was being more helpful in answering her questions.
After extensive questioning she had ruled out several possibilities.
1. Calling ahead to Celestia, asking for a rescue, a hug and several very quiet, very definitely not-in-space rooms to recuperate in. Quashed because Celestia didn’t very much care for technology of any sort, and furthermore the radios were broken.
2. Throwing random objects at high velocity from the front of the ship to slow their descent. Vetoed on the grounds that A) those objects would likely collide quite hard with Equestria were they to make it through re-entry, and B) Zaphod insisted that if any of the drinks were being thrown out, they might as well let themselves die right away.
3. Attempting to repair the normal star-drive. Vetoed because, to a pony, none aboard had even the slightest understanding of engineering. Pinkie exclaimed that she knew a froody space wagon from a non-froody one, and that that ought to be enough for anyone.
4. Using telekinesis to slow the ship. Twilight gave this one a lot of thought, before pointing out that telekinesis, although very useful, moved an object in relation to the pony doing it, and that it would be entirely impossible for her to do so without leaving the ship. Even then, she pointed out, she would only be able to slow it for the thirty or so seconds in which she remained alive, and furthermore while she remained in range of the ship.
Twilight paced angrily. She thought as hard as she could. In mental terms, this was rather like revving a V8 until the smoke poured out.
She suddenly jumped in the air, squealed with delight, and then turned red.
“How could we be so stupid?”
“Hey, what now?” Zaphod’s mental processes were less impressive.
“I can’t believe I missed it! For so long!”
“Twilight?” Pinkie ventured.
“Dragon mail! I can get Spike to send a letter to the princess!”
Pinkie Pie was suddenly animated. Figuratively, that is. She didn’t become a cartoon or anything. That would be silly.
“OH! Wow Twilight, you’re right! Little Spikey could send her a letter, right?”
“I don’t see why not! UGH! I feel so STUPID! He’s been with us the whole time!” Twilight could not believe that they had literally been carrying a communication device with a direct line to a celestial superbeing on them at all times, and at no point had the possibility of sending a letter occurred to anypony on board.
“Don’t blame yourself Twilight.”
“How can I not?”
“You can only be as smart as the author. Blame him. Oh, and the people who write comments too, they could have noticed too. But mostly the author, that’s a pretty big plot hole there.”
Twilight ignored this, her mental filing system marking it down as “indecipherable, but potentially ridiculous or disturbing if deciphered.” This folder had been getting fuller from the day she met Pinkie.
In the end, this idea was quashed when Spike had grudgingly admitted that he couldn’t “feel” the princess from here, and all he would be able to do would be to reduce the letter to cinders. It was suggested that a letter could be written, so that the moment he “felt” the princess again, he could send it. This idea met with initial approval, and Twilight had already begun drafting it in her head.
“Dear Princess Celestia,
I literally don’t have time to explain. Before you read any more of this you need to summon a giant net or something that can stop a spaceship hitting Equestria really hard without damaging the ship or anypony onboard. Do it NOW. Please. Seriously.
If you are still reading, I mean NOW. PLEASE.
Ok, if you’ve done that, then I guess I can explain now...” She had got this far before it had been discovered that there was no paper on board.
“Paper is so last millenium! Everybeing who is anybeing did away with all that un-cool physical media stuff as soon as possible!”
This much was true. Once the Sirius Cybernetics corporation realised they held a monopoly on the terminally stupid technology seekers in the galaxy, they had bought out any producers of anything on which information was transmitted in writing or print, to force beings into using their revolutionary ether paper.
They had been very certain to include paper napkin manufacturers in this plan, as it was realised that many of the best inventions were conceived in hasty doodles on the backs of napkins, and they couldn’t be having with that. (The Guide has nothing to say on the catastrophic effects on space-liner travel once paper napkins, even of the lemon soaked variety, ceased to be produced.)
So much for writing a letter then.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says that the most dangerous and effective warship the universe has ever known is the class H planet Bunnytopia, homeworld of the recklessly brutal humanoid race the Fwuffeykin. The cause for this transformation was the result of a heated argument in the president’s bunker/ bar area. The president himself had got the job by the simple expedient of spending several years on the road, personally punching every being on the planet who did not agree to vote for him until they did. He was having a discussion with his top astronomer (who had gained his position in a similar way, albeit concentrated only on the scientific minds of the planet), when the subject of everywhere else happened to come up.
“What I’m a-saying,” began the astrologer, “is that somewhere out there there are billions of other races right?”
“And a lot of them must be looking up at the sky at some point right?”
“I spent some hours with a calculator, and I’ve worked out there’s a pretty high chance that at some point one of those races looked at the bit of sky we are in, and he did it with a funny look on.”
The president, whose name incidentally was Fluffybuffy the Terrible, blinked.
“Them bastards have been looking at us funny?”
“Sixty-five percent chance of it.”
“Right, get your boots on. We’re going to war!”
“Whoever we find first! Teach them to look at us funny!”
And so the announcement was made. Many generations of development were spent in making the entire planet capable of interstellar travel. It was fitted with state of the art hyperspace engines, and with two of its major continents crafted into enormous antimatter singularity cannons the ship abandoned its parent star to find whatever race was out there and reduce it, and everything within several hundred light years of it, to a point where it was no longer capable of looking in a funny way at anything at all.
By a staggering coincidence, the first race their planet came into contact with was in fact the home of one Bribog Lerxiun, a lonely misanthrope who had in fact woken up one morning several hundred years ago, looked up at a distant star and muttered under his breath “Bunch o’ tossers.” Fortunately for him and the surrounding system, by the time the planet arrived its entire population had wiped itself out. Many from simple fights, but many more had simply declared war on themselves after catching themselves looking at themselves funny in the mirror, or looking at their own partner.
The G.S.S. Suicidal Insanity is the largest warship owned by the Imperial Galactic Government, and it is many times smaller than the planet Bunnytopia. Its captain was not aware of this, but it no doubt would have annoyed him. He is a small, dumpy equid of uncertain nature, who always felt that somehow people looked down on him. Being in charge of a multi-billion tonne piece of potential war crime wasn’t enough to keep him from feeling that somehow everyone who looked at him did so askance. This depressed him beyond measure. As such, when a respectful knock sounded at his door, he imagined it must have been done sarcastically. He sank a little more in his chair. The knock came again.
“Come in,” he managed, and instantly regretted it. He was sure his voice had come out in a meek way. The handle twisted, and a very strange creature indeed walked in. It was bipedal, and clad in a strange ensemble of white. White trousers, white collared shirt with gold brocade and associated medals, and a cap set at a jaunty angle on his head. This was far from the strangest thing about the creature though. Stranger than this was his build, which seemed, to the captain, to be what would happen if one allowed a child access to god’s building kit and several kilos of sugar. Even this was not the strangest thing, the crew of his ship being extremely varied in nature. The strangest thing was that the creature was singing.
“In the navy,” It began, “You can sail the seven seas!”
“In the navy,” it repeated, seemingly with even more gusto than before, “You can put your mind at ease!” The creature ceased its singing, saluted to the captain and stood to attention, only moderately impeded by the inconsistent length of his legs.
The captain sat, mouth agape. He spluttered incoherently. Discord responded with a similar spluttering sound, but evidently posed as a question. The captain spluttered again, even though it hadn’t helped the first time. Discord spluttered back , as though he had received a suitable answer. The captain, thoroughly off balance, reached up to check that the Babelfish was firmly ensconced in his ear.
“Who the hell are you?” he shouted, standing up and trying to see if he could be convincingly authoritative.
“Oh, are we speaking Galactic basic now? Shame, I thought that new language we were working on together had potential for a moment.” Discord, with the speed and sleekness of a cat coming in from the rain, flowed onto the desk in front of the captain.
The captain stared down in horror at the thing lying on his desk. It blew him a kiss. Then the room around him began to change. It seemed as though suddenly they were surrounded with watching crowds, all looking just a little unimpressed. There was a single “boo” from the crowd, which, upon finding no resistance, happened again. Then another came from somewhere else. The unfortunate captain cowered behind his desk, wishing that he could convince himself that this was a hallucination. The crowd seemed to be getting angrier. There was actual hissing. Then a voice, calm, confident, and just a little bit evil, whispered in his ear.
“You could be better than this you know.”
The captain shook his head.
“Oh yes you could. Think about it: a little captain with a big toy, never being brave enough to actually play with it.”
Suddenly two eyes were almost pressing on his.
“Maybe you should go play with it for a while. I’m sure you could impress a lot of mares with this much ship...”
The captain, in an abstract way, saw the eyes doing impossible things. But that didn't matter. It was only now occurring to him just how many things he could do. He would be a great hero! There were so many things in need of a good lesson! THEN! THEN nopony would ever look at him askance again.
As Discord flowed out to leave the hopefully thoroughly changed captain alone with thoughts of conquest, he grinned to himself. It was a good grin, and he was a little miffed that nopony witnessed it in all of its malicious beauty. He was relishing shaking things up. He had let them build quite a little system here, and it was going to be so beautiful watching it come crashing down.