This post's title is the only piece of unsolicited direct advice I will ever intentionally give.
See, after last night's blaring success with my half-finished crossover, I dug recently through my Google Docs recently and searched for the very first one, the first pony-related thing I ever wrote; I was sure it was going to be the futa Derpy/Dinky rapefic that for some reason no one has yet written and I swear to god I may one day write just to spite all of you and be able to say to a reporter 'I write creepy fanfiction where cartoons fuck, got little Dinky Hooves sucking Derpy Hooves' nuts' like I always dreamed, but it turns out I wrote something much, much worse.
Lieutenant-Commander Jane Shepard lies dying.
Her armour burnt to cinders, her wounds cateurised, lying in the city of the dead; her charred bright red hair falling down over one of her eyes. The Catalyst exploding around her.
She looks around, taking in her surroundings as the place breaks into pieces around her. The mass effect generators are still working, of course: she can breathe, but she can see space without a filter. The solar radiation bursts into her eyes; it should kill a lesser person, but the implants quickly adjust for it as she stares down the sun.
She has one thought as she feels the fires getting closer, sees the central generator breaking apart and exploding, sending her fractured piece of metal into space:
Well, I’m fucked.
She looks at her gun, turning it around a little in her hand. Primitive heatsink model; low power, infinite shots. She always missed those. In these last moments, she thinks, perhaps she can afford to shoot off a few rounds. For old times’ sake.
Heh. Look at me. I’m getting nostalgic about guns. I have a crew loyal to me, a galaxy admiring me, and what I’m getting happy about’s the gun in my hand while I wait to die. Pew. Pew.
She shakes her head, closing her eyes as she fires towards the sun, the bullets passing through the malleable mass effect field. She’s just defeated the Reapers; maybe she’ll kill the sun along with them. The same oxygen feeding her feeds the fires raging close to her, on the spinning piece of metal once part of the greatest undertaking in galactic history.
But as she fires for the fourth time, she hears something other than her gun.
She hears a cyclonic barrier blocking one, and she opens her eyes.
The Normandy, its door open, hovering around a metre above the flaming hunk of metal. Its thrusters firing as it struggles to keep alignment with the wildly spinning piece of air-filled scrap. The door, opening. Garrus, holding out a hand. Liara, kneeling and beckoning for her to run.
Her, running like a motherfucker.
She jumps up to the ship, holding onto the bottom of the door as it begins to lift off; Garrus and Liara help her up, and as she is safe and the door closes, she promptly collapses onto the floor, hardly able to move.
“Shepard. You look horrible.”
She looks straight into his eyes. “Garrus.” She coughs out a clot of blood as she rolls over onto her back, smiling. “I forgot. Which side of your face got blown up, again?”
Before he can retort, she falls into slumber.*
“Commander Shepard on-board! Suggest immediate take-off!” EDI’s voice speaks—her body left on Earth—as Joker taps hurriedly at the controls as he tries to make sure the burning debris doesn’t break his ship into pieces. He looks to the side to see an empty space.
“I am here, Jeff.” The ship lifts off ‘vertically’ and begins to fire its thrusters at full speed. “Literally.”
“The sexy robot body would really help right now, EDI.”
EDI seems to ignore his quip. “I’m picking up some activity from the Crucible’s core. It appears to be preparing to launch a third shot. The energy would disintegrate us as a side-effect.”
“Shit, shit. Okay, can we make it to a safe range before we get disintegrated?” He pushes ceaselessly at the tactile holograms, minimising and maximising windows to keep his hands twitchy in case of emergency.
“All sensors indicate that there is no possibility of getting to a Mass Relay in time.” A pause. “I have, however, computed a trajectory which might save us. This will, however, leave us with insufficient fuel.”
“Hmm. Okay, insufficient fuel or disintegration?” Joker’s sarcasm isn’t lost on her.
“Exactly. While we were speaking, I’ve taken the liberty to prepare the engines. Stand by.”
Just as the Crucible begins to fire its final shot, they no longer exist in the spot where they once stood.
Yet the heat of the faster-than-light wave pushes against them; Joker struggles to accelerate faster. He turns behind him and shouts. “Garrus! Calibrate the engines or something!”
“Very funny, Joker!” The ship begins to rock in the turbulence as the wave catches up with them, pushing and jostling; Garrus holds Shepard down in an attempt to stop her from breaking her neck or head on the corners as Liara grabs her legs. Shepard seems to go in and out of consciousness, mumbling something occasionally.
As if to say:
I knew you wouldn’t leave me there.
And then, as their power systems go into emergency mode, all is dark.*
Apple Bloom is walking about along the edges of the Everfree Forest. She can quite well understand the problem with entering it, but she’s rather miffed that she hasn’t yet earnt her Cutie Mark. The other two Cutie Mark Crusaders are busy on various things, leaving her to spend this holiday alone trying to find her cutie mark by herself: she figures she might as well just look around.
And then quite suddenly, a miracle happens.
An extremely loud noise explodes through the atmosphere—though she wouldn’t know it, the sound of an object going faster-than-light coming to a complete halt. The brilliant Čerenkov radiation almost blinds her as she stumbles over something and falls on her back, smacking her head on something hard.
Ow. What in tarnation?
She rubs her head and opens her bedazzled eyes just in time to see the Normandy careening towards the ground, making her teeth rattle a bit.
Most fillies would turn and run screaming to their mothers.
“An alien!” She grins. “I’ll get my ‘alien ambassador’ Cutie Mark!”
Apple Bloom isn’t most fillies. She quickly begins to trot towards the scene of the incident, fearlessly rushing straight into the forest towards the scene of the crash.*
“Joker. EDI.” Shepard coughs out, pushing herself to her feet as the lights turn on. The medigel has patched up just enough to walk. Being naked is an unfortunate side-effect, but she has more pressing concerns on her mind. “Where the hell are we?”
Joker’s too busy pressing on buttons to notice her, but EDI responds immediately. “Unknown. The Tantalus core appears to have suffered a very slight malfunction caused by the Crucible’s wave. Initial scans reveal an Earthlike atmosphere and similar life-forms. Garden world. Manmade structures resembling rural Earth architecture are located in the vicinity. Further scans are inconclusive; I believe that the sensors are malfunctioning.”
Joker lets his hands down and swivels around in his chair.
He immediately swivels back, blushing furiously. “Commander Shepard. You’re naked.”
“I have more important things to worry about, Joker.” Considering her state, it’s rather amazing that she can afford to joke. “Which reminds me. I’ve been meaning to tell you: would you mind getting rid some of your porn?”
“You know about that?”
“It’s clogging up the data-banks.”
Mordin runs up to her from behind, holding in his hand a syringe and putting it into Shepard’s. She grins and takes it. “Thanks, Mordin.”
“Don’t mention it, Shepard.” The salarian smiles. “Keeping you alive—thanks enough.” He looks her up and down. “Suggest putting some clothes on, unless you wish to be the Vitruvian Woman.”
“Mordin. We are going to undertake an initial survey of planetary conditions. Would you like to join us?”
Mordin gives the inevitable response. “Of course. When do we depart?”
Shepard sticks herself with the syringe, draining the plunger into her neck. Almost immediately, her more severe burns begin to heal. “Should I come along?”
“Would advise against it. Walking too much will kill you, Shepard.” Mordin taps on his omni-tool a bit, moving up and down her body with it. “Suggest you take a rest in the infirmary while Garrus fetches armor.”
Liara speaks. “I’ll go.”
The Commander laughs, her hands absentmindedly caressing the few glowing scars that trail over her face. “Liara? You do realize that this civilization isn’t dead yet, right?”
“Very funny, Shepard.”
“And you, Garrus? What’re you gonna do?”
He shrugs. “I’ll go calibrate the guns until you need me to blow a hole in something.” He walks off.
“Uh, Commander Shepard? I think you might want to see this.” Joker’s voice comes from the front compartment, and the Commander ambles over to look at the picture before them.
“What am I looking at here, Joker?”
EDI speaks. “It appears that the local dominant life-form—”
“—are pastel-colored, tiny ponies.” Shepard groans. “This is just great.”
Joker pushes himself up from his chair. “That’s it, I’ve got to see this.” He walks over to the airlock, stumbling a bit. “Mordin, Liara, you coming?”
“Joker...” Shepard trails off as she realises that there’s no real reason to stop him talking to the ponies, but notes the regulation. “Remember, these ‘ponies’ could be hostile. First contact guidelines are to assume hostility.”
“Clearly,” Joker says sarcastically, “That little pony is in league with the Reapers.”
Shepard puts her palm on her forehead. “Right. I think I’m still unconscious. These are my dying dreams. I’m going to my quarters and going to sleep until I wake up.” She walks away, mumbling something about pastel ponies.*
Apple Bloom pokes curiously at the alien structure, creating some clanging sounds. “Oooh! I’ll get my Cutie Mark fer sure this time!” She looks up to see rainbow contrails.
“Rainbow Da—” She barely gets the name out before she’s pounced on, rolling a bit.
“Applejack told me you ran off into the forest after that—thing.” Dash says, looking nervously to the right. “What the heck were you thinking, Apple Bloom?”
She grins. “I’m gonna get my alien ambassador Cutie Mark!”
Before Rainbow Dash can reply, the door slides open.
Joker nearly breaks his jaw as it drops, his eyes confirming the sight that they’ve just beheld through the cameras.
“Flying biotic ponies,” says Mordin. “Excellent.”