Prologue: Drawing Lines::> Entry #24--------------------------------------
The USS Vector is the fifth Terra-class vessel built under the banner of the United Systems and Colonies (USC). It falls under the category of a ‘Supercarrier.’ Being a Terra-class war vessel, the USS Vector excels in military capability, being able to assault entire solar systems in mere minutes, and possessing the thickest hull the USC is capable of producing. However, in terms of pure firepower and armor penetration capabilities, Terra-class vessels are outmatched by the Mars-class Superdreadnaughts. Even so, Terra-class vessels are the biggest to date with the USS Vector, at approximately six hundred kilometers in length, being the largest. The USS Vector is also the only Terra-class vessel capable of performing orbital troop drops, as it possesses a “Z-Grav” generator that allows it to get close to planets without altering both the vessel’s and the planet’s gravitational state, as well as rendering the ship almost frictionless, thus allowing it to enter atmosphere without suffering structural damage. However, it should be noted that although atmospheric entry poses no threat to the USS Vector, the same cannot be said for the surface of the planet, due to the destructive forces produced by the ship as it moves the air around it. Every Terra-class vessel has the necessary equipment to initiate the colonization of planets. These ships are capable of building small but relatively secure colonies which will later be utilized by one of the major corporations of the USC, such as “Landrex Arms and Construction”. Another feature of Terra vessels is that they are almost completely self-sufficient, possessing an inner factory complex that provides its crew with all the supplies and commodities they may require, with the exception of food. Of course, that does not mean that Terra vessels are unprepared should they find themselves in a lack of supplies. Every Terra-class vessel has six months’ worth of basic supplies and two months’ worth of building materials. In the event that a vessel such as the USS Vector is in need of additional supplies, a small military colony may be established by the crew on any suitable planet or asteroid it comes across, so long as the gravity and temperature at the surface are within the nominal operating range of the Colonial Guard’s vehicles and personal infantry armor. The entire crew of the USS Vector consists roughly of five billion individuals, the vast majority of them capable of operating most military equipment on board, and is able to host half a billion more should the need arise. Due to their nature as both battleships and colonisers, Terra vessels may often come across planets with sentient life forms. For that reason, the members of each Terra vessel are carefully chosen to fit the profile of the ‘Exemplary Human’; strong, stern, dutiful, and trained to operate efficiently should they find themselves in a 'First Contact' scenario. The staff of the USS Vector consists almost solely of Humans, as having a mixed species crew (Lakuran and Gektar, for example) would require many technological adaptations to accommodate for practical multi-species use. Colonial Guard: Peace Through Unity And Strength. *End of entry* --------------------------------------
Lying on the lower half of a bunk bed was an unnaturally large man who squinted as he read the words being displayed by a small holopad. The whole setup was almost comical as the device he was holding was like a glass walnut nestled between the teeth of the fleshy nutcrackers that were his fingers. His knees were bent towards his chest, almost forcing him into a fetal position as the bed was not big enough to fit the entire length of his legs.
This man was commonly known as “Atlas”.
He sighed, carelessly tossing the pad onto the bed as if it was nothing but a useless rag. This was the start of his third day on board the Vector,
and since he had been having trouble sleeping, he opted to spend his time reading about the ship in which he would probably spend the next couple years of his life. He found the ship itself to be slightly boring. Maybe it was the fact that it was so clean and orderly unless it was in the middle of a battle, then it got better. He smirked as he pictured a few projectiles flying across the hallways, coupled with explosions resonating all throughout the ship. Perhaps such a thing would not be as enjoyable for the rest of the crew, but he enjoyed a change in pace every now and again.
Another sigh escaped his lips as he attempted to sit up in his bed. He cringed as it creaked loudly under his massive form. Then he regretted moving altogether as a dull pain shot up his lower back, forcing a groan out of him.
“This is stupid,
” he thought. “They might as well stuff me inside a crate.
He relaxed as the pain subsided, resting his elbows on his knees as he rubbed at his eyes. He yawned as he looked just above the doorway. 7:02 am, Universal Time
He sat on his bunk, looking around the room. Metal walls fenced him in on all sides. Halfway across the room sat a small sink, while the far end housed a second bunk bed, occupied top and bottom. He proceeded to check the top of his own bunk, finding it empty.
A loud hiss suddenly came from his left as the door slid into the wall, a dark-skinned man promptly stepping through the open portal, leaning on the wall just inside. He was clad in a suit that was quite familiar to Atlas.
This outfit was standard issue armor. The outer layer was a synthetic muscle, most commonly known as ‘Syntex’. This was all reinforced with a strong, lightweight alloy of metals that could endure the harshest of conditions. The shoulder pads were large, etched with the initials ‘CG
’ and painted blue with a yellow stripe cutting across the middle, which identified him as a combat technician.
"Hey Atlas. How'd the 'normal' sleep go?" the man asked, emphasizing his comment with air quotes.
“I don’t wanna talk about it,” Atlas groaned, stretching as he got to his feet, popping several joints as he did so. Because of his insomnia, Atlas had always had problems with sleep. The only way for him to get any real rest was through the use of stasis. However, this did not affect him too severely; humans had the ability to go days, even weeks, without rest, and Atlas was no exception.
"Hah! I figured. You don’t look so pretty," the trooper said as the door slid shut behind him.
"I don’t recall being pretty to begin with, Morris…."
Atlas shifted his view back to one of his bunk-mates across the room, a man laying face-down on the bottom bunk, snoring loudly, and a slimmer figure, occupying the bunk above the first.
Atlas stepped across the small space, crossing the distance between the two bunks in a second, and gave the man on the lower bunk a slap on the back. “Wake up, Allen.”
“AH!” The man woke with a start, briefly thrashing about weakly as he came to his senses. “Shit! Did you really have to do that? Again?” he asked as he sat up, rubbing his back as the other two in the room chuckled at him.
“Well, yeah actually,” Atlas replied honestly.
“Last time we were in a ship with you and got attacked, it took damn near fifteen minutes for the explosions to wake you up. We thought ya' died!" Morris added in between laughs. Allen could only growl in response as he got off the bed, stretching as he did so.
"G'morning boys," came a chipper, feminine voice from the upper half of Allen's bunk.
"Mornin’ Torres," the three men replied in unison.
She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, allowing them to dangle freely, while Atlas went back across the room and pulled out a footlocker from under his bunk. From within, he extracted a pair of pants, a shirt, socks and his boots.
Atlas quickly pulled on his socks, pants and boots. As he struggled with the shirt—which was too small once again—the ship’s AI bellowed out over the loudspeakers, “Attention all crew members, re-route to your nearest armory to retrieve your equipment, then report to your designated briefing chamber. Attention all crew members....”
“Alright,” Atlas said, interrupting the announcement, “I’ll see you guys soon.” He promptly ducked under the doorframe and stepped out into the hallway. He immediately fell in step with the flow of men and women heading towards the armory. To his left was a series of viewscreens that allowed one to view the expanse of the universe, or at least part of it, without the inherent danger of having glass blown inward and an atmospheric breach sucking you out.
His destination, known as the Heavy Armory, was one of many located throughout the ship. Heavy troopers like himself clad themselves in enormous exoskeletons that could tower up to twelve feet in the air—just a touch taller than Atlas stood without any assistance. They were placed on the front lines as walls of metal and muscle carrying a large variety of weaponry, all for one purpose: eliminate the enemy. Heavy troopers were equipped to deal with almost any ground threat, ranging from triple-barreled autocannons for anti-infantry use to anti-material kinetic pulse launchers against light and medium armored vehicles.
He soon found himself in front of the Heavy Troopers’ Armory, with a much more comfortably sized doorway to boot, with a pair of guards, clad in the signature exo-suits of an average Heavy Trooper, flanking the entrance. They were completely black aside from the dark green shoulder pads, the logo of the Colonial Guard clearly etched upon them.
The troopers stepped aside as Atlas approached, allowing him to enter the armory. As he stepped inside, he was immediately swept up in a current of motion, weaving himself through the flow of men, armored or otherwise. Much of the bustle in the room came from the already armored men moving from dispenser to ceiling-high dispenser, collecting their assigned equipment as they did so. The dispensers often reminded him of a joke that involved a private mistaking them as coffee dispensers, allowing a little chuckle at the thought.
A few moments later, Atlas found himself entering a familiar chamber. Inside was almost nothing; just a grated floor, various vents, a sealed door to the next chamber, and a series of nozzles along the wall. This was the first step in the armoring process, which he was privileged with undergoing every couple of weeks. He smiled to himself as he looked forward to having his rest in the cryo-tubes, glad to be rid of the small, uncomfortable bunk beds for the next week or so.
The door slid shut behind him, leaving him sealed within a small chamber. He removed all of his clothing, dropping them into a small hatch in the wall to his right. He shivered as the cold air of the ship rippled across his bare skin. A few moments after he deposited his clothes through the hatch a metallic voice rang across the room.
“Initiating decontamination and scanning cycle.”
A clear liquid was sprayed on him from the nozzles around the room, only taking a few moments before it had completely evaporated, making him shiver once again. In another instant, a device that resembled an eye popped out from its case from above the door in front of him before scanning his body from top to bottom, the familiar red light crossing through his vision in a fraction of a second. As the device retracted back into the holding chamber, the door that it was above slid open, allowing Atlas to step into the next room. He walked into the middle of the room as the door slid closed around him, now finding himself within an array of mechanical arms.
“Error: User data nonexistent. Requesting bypass.”
A small screen extended from a recess in the ceiling with the words “REQUESTING RETINAL SCAN” displayed prominently across the screen. Atlas quickly complied with the machine, leaning towards the device. A moment later, a flash of light went off before the machination retreated back into the ceiling. Atlas stood upright once again as he waited for the armoring process to continue.
“Scan complete; subject ‘Atlas’ recognized. Initiating assembly of the ‘Titan Mark Two’.”
A small section of the wall slid open, allowing another set of mechanical arms to produce a silver bodysuit. He knew from all of his training and previous uses that this suit was a strong, flexible nanocomposite that was created to keep the wearer safe from the vacuum of outer space and other factors. It was specifically fitted to his body, covering everything except his face. He grabbed the suit and pulled it on, the arm sealing it shut as he did so. The friction of the nanocomposite against his skin made the experience mildly uncomfortable. The mechanical arm receded as the voice spoke up again. “First layer: Complete. Preparing Syntex layer.” As the words cut off, the arm came right back, along with the next layer: another bodysuit composed of muscle-like fibers that interlaced with each other, forming a replica of the human body. Atlas quickly took this new piece and slipped it on as well. It felt quite heavy at this point, as it was not yet physically connected to him and his neural system.
The mechanical arm welded the suit shut, and then retreated back into the hatch.
“Second Layer: Ready. Beginning assembly of third layer.”
Suddenly the room was filled with a brief flurry of motion. All the arms in the room started moving in sync, preparing to finish his armor. All but two of them obtained a piece of black metal; the last two grabbed a pair of orange shoulder pads imprinted with the logo of the Colonial Guard: a shield with rifles crossing the center in an X and the letters "CG" engraved over the intersection. At this point, the arms froze for a moment before the automated voice sounded once more, “Assembling.”
The arms came back to life immediately, swiftly connecting the various pieces of alloy on his armor, while a pair of arms began to work on his back, initiating the attachment of the Syntex to his nervous system. Meanwhile two tubes latched onto his shoulder pads and began pumping a blue, gel-like substance between his skin and the first layer of the armor. Known by most simply as Nanogel, it consisted of a mix of nanites and various minerals that allowed any wounds on the body to be repaired quickly and efficiently. The nanites would then, be absorbed into the wearer's bloodstream. There they would spread throughout the body to couple with the biological enhancements implemented in the men and women of the Colonial Guard. By interacting with neural boosters, the nanites would provide an amazingly quick reaction time.
As the arms on the back finished preparing the wiring of the suit, they sealed the power pack shut and connected two cables to it which proceeded to begin charging Atlas’ suit. He flinched slightly as several needles pierced his spinal cord, which finished the transformation of the suit into a second skin. The weight of the suit didn’t just disappear, he actually felt lighter. He brought his hands in front of his face, flexing his fingers before taking a step backwards. This triggered the release of all the tubes and cables, a series of pops sounding as they detached and receded into their respective housing compartments.
And with that, it was done. His armor was ready and functional, covering everything but his eyes. With a tap on the side of his neck, an orange visor slid into place over his eyes, displaying a typical HUD: heart rate, body heat, motion sensor. Everything that he’d ever want to know, and more. As he confirmed that everything was in working order, he turned on his heels and walked back out through the decontamination chamber. Once he reentered the main room of the armory, he quickly scanned the room and located a dispenser that was currently not in use.
He moved over to the glorified vending machine and tapped a few buttons on the side, folding his arms impatiently as the machine whirred to life, clunking and beeping as it processed the commands he had given. A few moments later, the machine opened revealing a large rifle accompanied by several magazines alongside it. His visor promptly identified the rifle as a BAUR-80 Gauss Rifle, a long-barreled weapon that fired large caliber rounds made of a compound based on depleted uranium. Atlas grabbed the rifle, quickly slinging it over his back and engaging the magnetic locks to secure it with a mental command, ready to be disengaged once more at a moment’s notice.
Having everything he required, Atlas promptly made his way out of the armory, greeted by the sight of the virtual windows. Out there was a vast emptiness, a large amount of nothing. Atlas had little time before he had to catch his tram to the debriefing chamber, but he decided it was worthwhile to take a moment for himself. --------------------------------------
A midnight blue equine with a flowing mane of blue rimmed with a translucent border paced about the large room. Aside from her physics-defying mane, she was defined by the wings on her back and the horn protruding from her forehead, as well as the black splotch on her flank that displayed a white crescent moon on each of her hips.
“Tia, you really should get some rest. You have been up for over five days now. Besides, your work will improve after you do,” the mare implored. She was watching as a snow white mare, also adorned with an ethereal mane, a pair of wings, and a horn, was using her magic to write several letters simultaneously.
Tia sighed as she briefly looked at the dark-furred mare before promptly returning her attention to the letters. “I know, Luna. I just need to finish these letters. I have enough pressure on me already, and being late with these will only serve to reinforce their belief that I don’t care.” Luna knew, unfortunately, that her sister was right. The ambassadors from the various nations surrounding Equestria would take anything negative and blow it out of proportion. Something as small as a letter arriving late could very well satisfy the criteria for them to do just that. This was made even more likely during the last meeting, in which they had made it very clear that they were not content with Equestria’s policies, nor the way that they were handling their emigrants, and it was starting to affect the Equestrian economy.
Luna walked over to Tia and proceeded to nuzzle her gently. “Well, at least hurry it up so you don’t miss out on the meteor shower,” Luna prodded as she trotted over to the balcony. “You know: ‘Enjoy the small things.’ Did I get that right?”
While the blue pony chuckled at her statement, Tia redoubled her effort to finish the letters. She had been awake far too long due to the recent meetings between various ambassadors as well as a number of other politicians, not to mention the veritable plethora of correspondence associated with such tasks. She was concurrently working on three letters with three quills moving independently. As each quill began to run dry, they would dip into an ink pot to resume their task. The speed and accuracy with which she wrote was awe-inspiring and would have made even the most adept of writers jealous.
However, her appearance detracted much from this awe-inspiring performance. Her entire body showed signs of exhaustion; her eyelids were tinted an unusual shade of purple and bags had formed under her half-closed eyes. Her ethereal mane and tail, which normally sparkled and fluttered as if they were the proud flag of a nation, had fallen limp, appearing as that of a normal pony’s. Under normal conditions, she was considered to be the most beautiful mare in all of Equestria, only rivaled by her own sister; however, the stress of the last five days had taken a great toll on her, giving her the appearance of having aged another thousand years.
With a great, heaving sigh, the three quills were returned to the single ink pot amongst the many others that still remained filled. The three letters were then encased by a yellow aura and promptly placed into envelopes, quickly being sealed with a wax emblem of the Equestrian Royalty shortly before being sent off in a bright flash. Having completed her work, she gave a long, satisfied sigh and closed her eyes, allowing herself a moment of rest. Celestia stood up and stretched each of her legs in succession. Trotting across the room to join her sister on the balcony, she carefully avoided the variety of items that were scattered around her room, such as cushions, disregarded notes, empty ink pots, and several tomes.
The two sisters nuzzled against one another, and Luna placed her midnight blue wing over Celestia’s back. "The meteor shower should start any moment now."
"I really hope we can make amends with the other nations...” Celestia looked up at the stars. “At least Docaro appears to be loosening up.”
"We do share a lot of similarities with the Zebras,” Luna said. “I find it hard to believe that so many ponies think of them as evil. I remember reading that letter from your student, about that Zebra that lives in the Everfree… What was her name? Ah yes, ‘Zecora’. Maybe if everypony knew more about them, the immigrants from Zebrica could make a better living here in Equestria.”
"I know… Nowadays it seems most of our little ponies are xenophobic."
Silence reigned supreme for the next few minutes before Luna turned to her sister once more. "I really wish for things to go back to normal, Tia."
"I know, sister… I want that as well."
Both of the sisters looked up as pieces of rock and ice hurtled into the atmosphere, lighting up the midnight sky. The friction brought on by such an entrance caused the rocks to ignite in an astonishing flash of light, producing a spectacular show for those watching from below. Though the whole process took less than a second, the ionization of the high atmosphere and the sheer amount of meteors ensured that the show would continue for a fair while longer than that.
The two ponies were grinning contentedly, enjoying a moment of peace in the sea of stress in which they were currently submerged in. Just as they thought the sky was out of tricks for that night, a bright, blue flash was followed by the appearance of another meteor, burning in an aura of the same hue.
Celestia looked up, smiling widely. "Luna, that's beautiful. I know that I keep telling you, but I really do love the night." She then turned to her right, towards a rather confused looking Luna.
Luna cocked an eyebrow. "Thanks for the compliment, sister. But… this one doesn't feel right…" She narrowed her eyes as she monitored the bright, blue burning object that was hurtling through the night.
"What do you mean?" Celestia inquired.
Luna took a step backwards, her eyes widening. "What is—It’s getting closer!" Celestia followed her sister’s gaze back towards the sky; the blue meteor had gotten significantly closer.
Their hearts leapt into their throats when the crackling of superheated air reached their ears, as the object charged through the sky at speeds that would have made any pegasus jealous. The Princesses’ horror-filled gazes met for a moment. They shared a simple nod as their looks of fear swiftly transformed into cold, stern expressions. They stood in tandem, planted their hooves down on the bright, white marble below them, and ignited their horns as they channeled magic through their entire beings.
The meteor was now clearly visible, a blue aura, made of several interconnected hexagons, wrapped all around it, forming the image of a bright blue, glowing net. Not only could they see it, but they could also sense the energy emanating from it. This was no ordinary meteor. The two alicorn sisters released the pent-up energy together, producing a magical barrier that would protect Canterlot from the meteor. The light from the barrier could be seen for kilometers in all directions, ready to test its strength against that of the oncoming meteorite.
Their preparations complete, all the two sisters could do now was wait; wait for the unavoidable impact of the meteorite, confident that the shield would be enough to deflect the debris. They were confident in this outcome; they had conquered far larger and more dangerous obstacles, blocked even more powerful attacks, and defeated more devious foes than a meteor. This was just foal’s play. The alicorn sisters gritted their teeth in anticipation. With a mere moment left before the meteorite collided with the barrier, they shut their eyes in preparation.
And then nothing. Their eyes snapped open once more as they scanned the sky. The barrier was still there, but there was no trace of the meteorite. A dumbfounded look was exchanged by the sisters for a moment before the barrier dissipated. Then an explosion rocked the castle.
The sisters’ hearts skipped a beat. That should not have happened. They each moved objects that were much larger than a mere meteorite; for them to not be able to control something of that size was unthinkable. Yet it had just happened.
The two sisters froze in horror, the next moments feeling like a thousand years, before a night guard landed next to them. Desperation was spread across his face as he panted as if he’d just finished a marathon. For a moment, an awkward silence reigned as the royal guard caught his breath. “Something hit the Southern Tower,” the guard exclaimed, still panting heavily, “it went right through it!”
The princesses took off at full speed, leaving the floundering night guard in their wake. All of Canterlot was awake at this point; the streets were full of alarmed citizens as screams of terror echoed throughout the city. Every window was lit up, and doors were left open as confused and terrified ponies fled their homes. Most of the ponies were in nightgowns, having been rudely awakened by the explosions and not having the time to worry about their attire during the commotion occurring in the destructive wake of the meteorite.
It only took the alicorns a few minutes to cross Canterlot, soaring through the sky at full speed. As they made their way into the south district, they found themselves in a storm of paper fluttering through the air. Moments later they found themselves in front of the Canterlot Library, and discovered that the source of the maelstrom of paper was a hole that had been blasted clear through the third floor of the Southern Tower.Books that had been stored inside had been strewn everywhere. Fortunately there appeared to be no threat of fire breaking out, as it would take next-to-no time to spread through the paper-laden environment.
The alicorns set down near the entrance of the tower amidst the evacuation proceedings. Royal guards were quickly escorting terrified citizens out of and away from the crippled spire. Most were bruised and battered, although a few ponies were not quite as lucky. Almost everypony was shouting, trying to figure out what had happened to the building, and those who weren’t yelling were simply standing there, dumbfounded.
Two guards exited the building, carrying another pony clothed in janitor’s overalls, a nametag showing his name to be “Scruffy”. He was covered in all manners of debris, his clothes ragged and his eyes wide. “This one was on the same floor that the thing
went through, your highnesses,” one of the guards stated plainly, as they set the janitor pony down in front of the pair of alicorns.
The janitor pony, knees still shaking in fright, focused on staying upright as Luna approached him. “Are you alright?” she asked, carefully examining his figure in an attempt to locate any wounds, though not finding anything outside of minor bumps and scratches. “What happened?”
"I-I-I was c-c-clean-ning t-the floor y-y'know, a-and then I l-looked out t-the wind-dow a-and saw the... t-thing!
" The janitor took a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself down.
Luna gently placed a hoof over his shoulder. "Please, relax and take your time." giving him a smile, hoping that it would help him calm down.
The janitor took a deep breath and then exhaled slowly, "I dove out of the way a-and covered my head, and then... then it came through and it made a bright blue flash a-and this weird sound...."
Luna tilted her head to the side out of confusion. "A sound...? Mister Scruffy, what sound did it make?" she asked with a slight hint of curiosity in her voice.
Scruffy’s legs gave out, putting him back on the ground as he considered her question. "Oh, I-I don't know... I guess it was a really deep
sound; I swear it shook the tower almost as much as the crash itself! It was deep, like, 'HOOOMMPH
'!" He left his mouth closed while he made this last sound, while gesticulating wildly for effect, stunning the princesses with the craziness of it all.
"I see... Thank you, Scruffy. You will be rewarded for your troubles. Guards, please make sure that Scruffy and the other ponies get to the hospital and are checked for any injuries," Celestia said.
“Oh, but I ask that a contingent of pegasus guards remain with me,” Luna added, a mischievous excitement in her voice as she turned back to Celestia. “Sister, you need to stay here and rest, please. I can handle this. We need to go find out what this thing is.” Her eyes pleading with her sister.
Celestia hesitated, taking a deep breath. "Alright Luna, but please
do be careful."
"Oh, don't worry, I can do this!" Luna said, a smirk playing across her face.
With the discussion completed, the pegasi of both the day and night guards gathered before Luna while the unicorn and earth pony guards went about their assignments. There were eleven guards left in front of Luna once the clamor had died down. Luna looked over to Celestia one last time, exchanging nods as Celestia lifted off and headed back towards the castle.
Luna noticed that a crowd was starting to form around the spectacle of the smoldering tower. She indicated the guard at the far left of the line. “You! Tell the rest of the guard to form a perimeter around the tower. Nopony gets in without permission from a captain of the guard, Celestia, or myself.” The guard immediately bowed and took flight to carry out his orders as Luna looked back over the remaining guards. Luna cleared her throat. "Alright, the ten of you are going with me. We're going to track down that... whatever that was. Now, does anypony know where it landed after it went through the tower?"
"It flew over Ponyville, your highness, and landed near the Everfree forest," one guard stated promptly. Luna furrowed her brow as the pony mentioned Ponyville, causing him to gulp worriedly in response.
"Ponyville? I hope it did not wake up the entire town. Let us make haste!" Immediately taking to the air as she finished speaking, she sped off towards Ponyville with the pegasus guards close behind. --------------------------------------
A yellow pegasus with a pink mane was hiding under her couch, shaking like a leaf in a late autumn wind while clinging to a small white rabbit who was noticeably displeased with the situation that he currently found himself in: stuck under a couch, getting the life squeezed out of him. The pegasus kept repeating the same phrase to herself under her breath, “Oh please, please, please, don’t let anything happen to me, Angel Bunny, please.
Her eyes constantly swept the room as the night’s shadows played around the corners of her room. Though she knew the only beings in her humble abode were a variety of creatures that she was taking care of, the commotion outside had awoken many of them. Her eyes snapped back to the window as she noticed something out of place; a pair of glowing red eyes staring inside. “EEP!” she shrieked, crushing the bunny even more as she shrank even further beneath the couch. --------------------------------------
The meteor had crashed on the outskirts of the Everfree Forest and had dug a trench a fair way into the forest before it had come to a halt. The grass around the imprint was singed, trees had been reduced to splinters and much the dirt in the area was hot to the touch. The sound of flapping wings could be heard in the distance as Princess Luna and her contingent of pegasus guards came into view, illuminated by the midnight moon. The group landed a safe distance away from the impact site, not sure of what to expect from the object.
Luna took in her surroundings as she approached the crash site. The cottage of Fluttershy, the spirit of the Element of Kindness, stood off to her left, while Sweet Apple Acres was visible far off to her right, the Everfree forest, along with the recently-formed ditch, in front of her.
She could still see a faint red glow in spots where the friction between the object and the ground, leading Luna to believe that it whatever the fallen star was, it was composed of metal. Then she looked at the object itself, and it was like nothing she had seen before. She couldn’t make out the details from where she stood, but they did not look natural. She quickly looked over the guards, “Spread out, look for anything of importance,” she ordered as she trotted towards the object lying in the forest. Just what in Equestria is this?
Luna thought to herself as she circled the alien contraption. Now that she’d taken time to examine the crashed object, she found that it appeared to have a window on the front, and opposite that was a door, hinges located on the bottom, that was currently lying open. Inside was a large compartment, its inside containing seats and lights that glowed with a faint hue of blue, which tried but ultimately failed to give a clear picture of said compartment. There were a pair of metal wings fixed to the outside of the object, which itself was mostly composed of metal. She concluded that the design must have been created with high speeds in mind, as it had flown faster than anything she had ever witnessed before, giving her an idea of what it was probably used for. Coming to the conclusion that this thing was for use in transportation, and most definitely not alive, Luna breathed a sigh of relief.
After a few moments of trying to figure out what this thing was, she noticed the two guards that had rescued Scruffy from the tower earlier that night were standing nearby, idly chatting. She approached them, receiving salutes from the two ponies as they noticed her presence, “your Highness.”
"I need you both to come with me,” Luna said. “We are going inside of it."
The two guards hesitated for a second before nodding their understanding, "yes, Princess."
Luna turned back to the box, and walked over to the side that had the door. It was almost pitch black inside of it, save for some spots and bits which glowed in a faint blue, but aside from that, nothing too interesting or eye-catching could be seen.
Luna ignited her horn, shining some light inside the metallic contraption as she walked confidently towards the entrance, the two guards close behind, clearly unnerved by the situation - one visibly shaken, the other merely hesitant. The Princess’ light illuminated the insides of the contraption, allowing a better view of what was found inside.
Along the sides were what seemed to be seats, but different from those that she would normally expect. Each of them had a strap that was clearly not meant to be used by a pony; they were far too large and constricting. A large, rectangular black surface took up much of the far wall, opposite the strange seats. It was pitch black and unreflective, so Luna quickly discarded the idea that it was a mirror. Perhaps it has some form of enchantment on it?
A rotten odor invaded their senses as they continued further inside. As Luna’s light illuminated the interior of the contraption, the three ponies noticed that the floor was bathed in blood. The rotten stench crawled deeper into their nostrils with every step they took, eventually causing one of the guards gag.
"Copper! Are you okay?" asked the other.
"Yeah... d-don't worry, Shield Soul," was all the guard could manage between gags.
Luna, having kept her composure thus far, cast a momentary glance back at the guards before catching her hoof on something. She looked down at her hooves, "O-Oh my...." In between her forehooves she found the head of an unknown creature looking right back at her. Unlike the cranium of a pony, this one was far more rounded and lacked a muzzle. It was completely devoid of any fur, scales, or feathers, just two empty holes in which the eyes should have been, amid the decomposing flesh.
She stepped back, her hooves splashing in the blood, as the guard gagged once more. Luna kicked the head and watched it roll away. As her eyes followed the path of the skull, she saw more bones; entire bodies lay in a pile next to a door leading to another compartment, consisting only of bone and rotting flesh. The skeletons were larger than those of a pony. They had no tails, and their feet each divided into five separate appendages, presumably claws. Those on the forelegs looked to be particularly dangerous. Even in their current state, the bones looked strong, dense, and none of them had been broken during the crash.
Luna looked away as she began to feel sick. As she did so, something that just... wasn’t quite right caught her attention. Strapped to one of the seats was an object that stood out among the bones and blood. Part of it was soaked in the red fluid, but most of it was a bright pink. Luna could tell that it had the basic features of a bipedal creature, similar in structure to that of the other bodies. She slowly walked over to it. Why would there be a doll in something as crazy as this!?
Her mind lit up. The chairs... the straps... This is... This is a vehicle! Like a chariot of sorts, except... different... Much different.
Luna was distracted from her revelation by Shield Soul, who had fallen into the pool of blood. Or rather, she was distracted by what happened as he pulled himself up using a nearby surface. When he placed his hooves on the table, he hit a couple of buttons and, in response, the black surface suddenly lit up. Amazing...
Luna marveled. The glass was now displaying an image and sound emanated from an unidentified location. A scene played out from within the confines of the formerly black screen.
The setting was the same that they were in now, though much brighter and cleaner. They saw two creatures strapped into the seats, presumably asleep, while another was standing in the same spot that Luna currently occupied. The three beings had very short manes, all of them wearing clothes and showing no signs of having any hair or fur aside from their manes, just covered in bare skin. The image showed by the glass was rather distorted, but they could distinguish the eyes of the creatures; they were beadier than those of a pony.
The creature that was standing was holding a smaller one in its forelegs, bouncing it up and down playfully. This smaller creature had a longer mane, was dressed in pink and held the plush doll that was currently strapped to one of the seats in its claws. "It's like... a filly...."
Luna took a glance at the pile of bones, then looked back at the glass.
The bigger creature walked over to the glass while holding the smaller one, and seemed to be looking right through the glass, staring at the ponies though never acknowledging their presence. It then began speaking, its tone clearly that of a male, joined by the giggles of the smaller one.
"Say hi to Mommy!
" the male creature said, waving at them.
The smaller creature obeyed, "Hi Mommy! I love you!
" it said, smiling at the group of ponies.
The male creature spoke up again, this time looking at his daughter, "Sweetie, how about you show Mommy the new toy daddy got for you!
The little one smiled, holding the doll in front of the glass, as if she was showing it to Luna and the guards, "Mommy, this is Guardswoman Kelly! Daddy got her for me, and I named her like that because she is part of the Colonial Guard! She’s strong and always takes care of people!”
She held out the doll for the ponies to see. The toy itself had the same figure as the bipeds, including a set of pink armor, but not much else could be distinguished as the image was too distorted.
Luna was covering her mouth with one of her forelegs, avoiding her bloodstained hoof in shock; unsure of how she should react to something like this.
The male figure stepped away from the glass and gently placed his daughter back on the ground, allowing her to stand on her own. She proceeded to approach a chair before strapping the doll into it. She was talking to her father, but she was too far away for the voice to be distinguishable to the ponies.
Once she had secured the doll, her father lifted her into an adjacent chair and strapped her in before sitting down next to her and doing the same for himself.
Then the image flickered before resolving into something quite different, showing some letters that read "Loading next entry... Warning, Energy Critical...
The image started distorting, flickering on and off several times, but enough for Luna to catch a glimpse of another creature and the others backing away from it. After that it went back to its original pitch black, leaving three very confused ponies. This—this isn't right,
she thought. Did she call me... Mommy!?
Luna walked over to the seat the doll was on, gently grabbed it in her mouth and slid it out from under the strap, carefully avoiding the bloodied parts. She turned to the two guards that accompanied her, and saw them looking above her, scowling.
Luna flinched and backed away, slowly looking up. On the ceiling was a square hole with a yellow substance that had begun to drip out of it. She moved out of the way just in time for a drop to leak down from it onto the floor, mixing with the blood. She channeled more magic into her horn and used it to illuminate the newly found hole; it led to another room of sorts, but she saw nothign but a few metal boxes within.
She shook her head to clear her thoughts and then looked back at the guards. "Go to Ponyville, make sure everypony is safe. I do not think everything that was inside of this... chariot was dead when it arrived. Hurry, I will go to Canterlot to speak with my sister. I will be back in no time."
Copper and Shield nodded. "At once, Princess."
Luna trotted out of the contraption, promptly pushing off from the ground with a mighty flap of her wings, taking flight in the direction of Canterlot.
She never noticed the two glowing, red eyes that stared at her from within the forest. ***
Specials Thanks To:
John Of Equestria
Happy Little Ball Of Uncontrollable Rage