So, the readers are getting restless with my lack of updates. The next story that will most likely get updated will be Mass Effect: Dissension since chapter two is coming together rather quickly. However, that won't be at least for another week or so because of the big projects I'm working on for my education classes, so I felt I'd give readers something to chew on until then.
This is the first third of the chapter, and the only finished section, that I have at the moment. Things are rough, for the most part unedited, the italics won't transfer over (and are more effort than they are worth to go back for them in a blog post), and it is subject to change. You have been warned.~'.'~'.'~
‘Seriously? Technicolor ponies?!’ Commander Williams inwardly groaned in disbelief. ‘They couldn’t have given me a little more warning, could they?!’ Truly, if god existed, she believed that this was his idea of a joke at her expense.
The purple unicorn in front of her tilted her head and gave Ashley a confused look. “I... beg your pardon?” she asked hesitantly, unsure of what to make of the commander’s statement.
“Sorry, your appearance just... surprised me.” Ashley glanced at the assembled ponies, noting a few looks that looked slightly offended.
Before she could offer an explanation however, the rainbow maned cyan pony shot into her face. “Oh yeah?! What’s wrong with our looks?! You’re nothing much to look at yourself!” Ashley suppressed her natural reaction to get defensive, if only because the thought of chewing out a rainbow colored pegasus felt completely strange at the moment.
The yellow pegasus gave a small gasp and hid behind her mane, while the guards tensed up, expecting a possible confrontation; the unicorn in front of the commander looked at her companion, completely mortified. “Dash!” she yelled out before grabbing the pegasus’ tail in her teeth and yanked her back to the deck.
“Twilight, what th--” she turned around to protest, only to be met with an her friend glaring at her. For a moment the pegasus sputtered, “Hey, but it, she--” Rainbow stopped as she noticed the frown on Twilight’s face only grow bigger. She looked away and annoyedly ground out, “Fine...”
“I apologize for my friend’s behavior,” Twilight laughed nervously, “she’s a little defensive at times. I hope you can forgive her reckless attitude.”
“Duly noted... though I’ll just say that better not happen again,” replied the commander dryly, deciding to simply ignore the pegasus’ outburst for the moment. “Anyway, as I said before, you appearance threw me off momentarily, and I’m sorry if I offended any of you. I just wasn’t expecting a new species quite so... well...” she trailed off, unsure of what to say exactly.
“I think the word you’re looking for is ‘cute.’” offered Garrus, speaking up for the first time.
Ashley sighed at his suggestion. “You’re not helping, Vakarian.” Forcing a smile onto her face in an attempt to look friendlier towards the ponies Ashley suggested, “Look, let’s just start this conversation over, sound good?” Looking down at the unicorn in front of her, and still not sure of her state of mind, the commander leaned down a little and offered her hand, “As you seem to already know, I’m Commander Ashley Williams, and I suppose I should welcome you and your party to the SSV Normandy.”
Twilight extended her hoof to accept the handshake with a cheerful smile. “Thank you, Commander Ashley Williams,” the purple pony nodded slightly in acknowledgement, “we are honored and very happy to be here.”
“If you don’t mind, you can just use Commander Williams, or even just Commander when addressing me,” Ashley stood up once again before nodding her head once again the unicorn. “You said you were... Twilight Sparkle, right?”
“Oh! Of course, Commander Williams,” Twilight replied with a friendly smile. “And these,” she motioned behind her, “are a few of my friends as well as our escorts.”
At that, the three armored ponies walked forward, with one eventually taking his place beside Twilight, before giving Ashley a crisp salute. “Captain Stronghoof of the Equestrian Royal Guards. Behind me are Corporal Swifttail and Private Stalwart Shield. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Commander Williams.”
The commander unconsciously returned the salute. “It’s an honor to meet you and your men.”
“Ponies, actually,” came a curt reply.
Twilight motioned behind her once again at a buttercream pony with a pink mane. “This is one of my very good friends, Fluttershy.” When the named pony didn’t come forward, Twilight nervously jerked her head at her friend. “Fluttershy?”
Fluttershy bowed her head and played with her hoofs nervously and quietly said, “Thank you, but I’m fine over here... um, if you don’t mind that is.”
The purpled unicorn turned back to Ashley and gave her a slightly nervous smile. “I apologize for my friend. She is rather... well, shy when it comes to meeting new faces.” She gave a small cough before noticing a cyan-colored shape hovering out of the corner of her eye. Twilight’s smile faltered a bit before. “And I believe you’ve already been introduced to my good friend. I know she won’t cause anymore problems,” Twilight turned to look at the pegasus crossly, “will she?”
“Yeah, yeah,” the pegasus replied dismissively as she floated towards the commander before landing, striking a smug pose, and proudly exclaimed, “I’m the one and only Rainbow Dash! I’m the fastest flyer in all of Equestria!”
“That’s good to know,” replied the Spectre icily, “but just so we’re clear, I’m the commander of this vessel and my word on this ship is law. Which means I’m the one person above all others you do not shove your face into. Is that understood?”
For her part Rainbow Dash looked ready to argue, but a soft cough from her unicorn friend, followed by a withering glare directed at the pegasus, forced her to hold her tongue. Instead, she merely grunted and muttered, “Yeah, I get it.”
Ashley nodded and replied with a simple, “Good.” She took note of the almost audible release of breath the purple mare had been holding in and had to wonder just how many times her friend’s brash attitude had put them in awkward situations.
With the tension in the room eased, Twilight cleared her throat and continued on, “Also, I’d like to mention that two of my other friends are currently in your medbay and should be joining us shortly.”
That got Ashley’s attention. “Medbay? Is something wrong with them?”
The unicorn’s ears folded back as she gazed downward, and the mood of the other ponies in the room visibly darkened. Fluttershy looked on the verge of tears, while Dash looked incredibly agitated. Ashley even noticed anger in the eyes of the otherwise stoic faces of the guard ponies. After a few moments, Twilight finally spoke up. “I was told you’d be informed about our situation. So I assume you were informed of the attack on one of our settlements, correct?”
The Spectre regarded her stoically momentarily before nodding her head. “I was.”
“That settlement’s name is Ponyville...” she trailed off with a sigh, her voice completely downtrodden. “I know that name must not mean much to you, but for Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, my friends Applejack and Pinkie Pie down in the medbay, and myself, Ponyville is our home.” Twilight’s shoulders slumped a bit before she continued. “Another friend of ours was... taken,” the pony’s expression turned angry, “and Applejack... she tried to stop them since she was nearby at the time... and...” the pony trailed off, unable to continue as she fought back tears.
Ashley’s eyes narrowed, understanding where this was going, but at the same time choosing to remain silent.
The unicorn looked up at the commander, tears forming in the corner of her eyes. “It could have been worse... much worse from what I’ve found out. If the projectile hadn’t gone through the cart she had ducked behind first... but it still hit her hind leg and--”
“And when I get my hooves on those alien bucktards, they’ll wish they never set hoof in Equestria!” loudly interjected Rainbow Dash with as much menace as one could muster after saying such a sentence.
Twilight looked horrified for a moment before she shot the pegasus a glare. “Rainbow, watch your language! We’re representing all of Equestria at the moment! I don’t want to report back to Celestia to tell her that we made a bad impression on the rest of the galaxy with your use of such crude--”
“Alright, alright!” responded the pegasus while rolling her eyes. “Shesh.”
For her part, Ashley simply gave the two mares a dumbfounded expression. ‘Bucktards... really?’’ If the topic of conversation wasn’t so somber at the moment, the lone human in the room probably would have found herself laughing. As it was though, she held back her laughter at the complete ridiculous nature of the pegasus’ outburst; especially so since meeker mare of the group was clearly on the verge of crying. “Uh, that’s fine Ms. Sparkle, I understand emotions are running high and I won’t think less of such... er... language. You don’t have to say anything else” she reassured the group in front of her calmingly, “I can only guess how hard it is for you and your friends.”
Twilight gave her friend one last glare before she turned back to the commander, giving her a weak smile in the process. “Thanks for understanding... it’s very appreciated.”
“Is she going to be alright?”
Twilight took a deep breath before nodding her head. “It looked worse than it actually was at first. There... there was just so much blo--” she briefly shivered then sighed, her friends looking just as shaken as her. “Anyway... a medical team from the Council examined her later and said she would fully recover in time, though I think even they were surprised she’s moving around so soon. Still, your ship’s doctor insisted on examining her for good measure.”
‘Of course she did,’ though Ashley with no small amount of amusement. Dr. Chakwas was a great doctor, and very thorough, but sometimes that meant she was wary of the opinions of other physicians.
Bringing her thoughts back to the present situation, however, the Spectre looked at Twilight with a bit of concern in her eyes. “What about your other friend below deck with her? Was she hurt as well?”
“Oh, no! She’s just there to keep Applejack company during the examination,” replied the unicorn, her tone much more upbeat that earlier. “We would’ve stayed down there with her, but I felt it best that we greet you immediately once we heard you were arriving.” Twilight chuckled softly, “She even insisted that it wouldn’t be polite to keep you waiting on her account.”
The commander nodded before sighing, regretting what she was about to tell the group of ponies in front of her. “Well, if that’s the case I suppose we should get down to business then. And I’m sorry to say this upfront after the things you’ve gone through, but I’ll be completely honest Ms. Sparkle... I won’t make any promises about finding your friend,” she admitted somberly, scanning the reactions of every pony in the room. As she expected, one pony in particular did not fail to vocalize her concerns one bit.
“What?!” yelled Rainbow Dash indignantly as she flew into the Commander’s face. “What the hay good are you--”
‘Not this time,’ thought the human as her irritation made itself evident. “Enough!” she barked out tersely, getting in the pegasus’ face, much to the surprise of the rooms other inhabitants. “Remember your place or I will have you off my ship in a heartbeat! Are we clear this time?” She starred the mare down for a few moments, her features daring her to go on.
A few tense moments passed before the pegasus huffed and finally backed down; not the least bit happy, but at the same time not willing to risk being separated from the rest of her group. Satisfied that her message got through, she relaxed and sighed. “As I said, I’m not promising anything concrete,” she reiterated before going on, “but as a Council Spectre, I will use whatever available resource I can to get your friend back if possible. That’s the best I can offer you.” The Commander looked at the downcast expression of both Twilight and Fluttershy, and the disgruntled glare being thrown her way by the cyan flyer before simply sighing. “Look, I know that isn’t much... and I understand how little consolation that must seem at the moment. However, hope is all I can give.”
A few moments of silence followed as her words sunk in before the resident hot head huffed indignantly, “Well this sucks.”
Twilight, her eyes half lidded and full of sadness staring down at the deck, could only nod her head in agreement. “I hope you don’t hold it against me if I agree with my friend on this.”
Ashley nodded in understanding, her features softening somewhat as she looked at the downtrodden pony in front of her. “I won’t, Ms. Sparkle. Like I said, I understand this is all frustrating to you. But there is something you can do that will be a major help.”
“Of course!” responded the purple pony without hesitation, before looking at her curiously, her head cocked to the side. “Just what sort of help are you asking for exactly?”
“It’s simple, really... I need details,” she stated in a tone that left no room for negotiation as she crossed her arms in front of her. “I’ve been given the runaround for the past few hours, and frankly I’m flying blind here without something more concrete to go on than what little breadcrumbs the Council has given us. I need descriptions of anything and everything that you can remember. The more we have to go on, the more likely this mission will be successful, okay?” She knew she wasn’t being entirely truthful to the ponies, but every little bit of hope for them to cling onto was something at least.
For a moment, the purple unicorn looked extremely uncomfortable, downright nervous even. She looked over her shoulder back at Captain Stronghoof who, after a few seemingly tense moments, in turn gave her a curt nod. Turning back to the Commander, she smiled nervously. “Of... course,” the purple pony nodded hesitantly, “in that case, we have a few things to discuss.”~’.’~’.’~