Equestrian Space: Short Stories

by Shirlendra

The Stargazers

Just out past the planet Tharatos was a tiny ancient station, designated "Equestrian Watchpost: T-03". It was a small station, manned by a crew of just three ponies. They were assigned the very important job of making sure no ships ran into each other, and use the high power telescope built into the station to help map the far stars out past the edges of the Equestrian Solar System. They were technically part of a whole Equestrian legion, but considering it was made up of washouts that wasn't saying much. The whole legion, being the worst of the worst were nearly always assigned to stations like the one the three ponies were stationed on. They were jokingly referred to as "The Stargazers".

Funny thing about sensors, sometimes they get confused. Of course with a high enough powered scope and a sharp pair of eyes even the most confusing sensor reading can be visually confirmed. That is, if the sharp pair of eyes were actually watching for strange sensor anomalies. Instead of feasting on a variety of wholly inappropriate content, on some of the best several generations out of date viewscreens that taxpayer money could buy. But as many knew, these were not the best ponies. These ponies were wholly unqualified to run a hayburger stand, let alone anything as important as mapping the stars or looking for sensor anomalies.

It was on one of the late "night" shifts, if one could call them that due to Equestrian main time. During the time when one of these ponies sipped on some reheated and entirely too strong coffee that a sensor or two began to beep. The pony with mug in hoof tapped on the console, waiting for the sensor light to go back to its dreamless sleep. The slow beep however did not stop and after staring at it in annoyance for a moment the pony sighed and sat forward in the consoles spinning chair. After scrolling through several, extremely simplified menus the pony came to the source of the sensors incessant beeping.

An object, which the sensors couldn't quite identify was moving around out in the system. Several hours out at best speed for the stations little shuttle but just a quick visual inspection away. That was, if this pony could be bothered. But why would they be bothered by some random object the sensors couldn't identify? It wasn't as if it was traveling sunward towards them, it was probably just another comet on its long journey around the system. The pony marked the object as non-essential and to be ignored by the sensors. The pony manually shut off the sensor warning light and after a moment pulled up a report log to made a quick journal entry.

"To: Crew"
"03:27-EST: Unidentified object detected by sensors, probably just another comet."
"Note to self: Request better coffee."

The pony closed the entry and sat back, A sensor anomaly, That's all it was. The pony sat in silence for some time, and sipped its terrible coffee until just the dredges remained in the bottom of the chipped mug. The pony sighed and got up, taking a quick look at the time. The glowing clock-face read "07:42-EST" not long until the ponies shift was officially over, it sauntered over to the coffee machine and after dumping out the mug set it in the wash bin. It was just as the cup touched the bottom of the bin that the pony felt it, the unmistakable thud of a ship landing against the ancient hull and magnetic clamps slamming into place.

The pony stood stock still for a moment, trying to decide if its sleep deprived mind had really just felt a ship land against the ancient station. As the pony thought about it, it decided that no that wasn't possible. The sensors would of warned them long before anything got close to the station. But the pony could of sworn something had hit the hull, and it was up to them to find out what. So the pony, brimming with confidence strode purposefully towards the tiny armory and donned the meanest looking out of date gear it could find and the heaviest weapon, A Mk-3 training shock stick.

It was about this time the pony became aware of three things. First, that all the lights had suddenly decided to stop working. Second, the gravity had shut off and lastly, the constant hum of the air recyclers had quieted into nothing. It was just about then when the pony started to panic. The pony grabbed the nearest thing tied down to the floor of the ancient station, a central column and held on tightly so they didn't float away. Before remembering that each of the standard issue jump suits did in fact come with magnetic boots.

The pony quickly smacked their hooves together and the boots hummed softly, before touching the metallic floor and sticking too it. After another brief moment of panic when it couldn't move, the pony quickly turned down the power on the boots, the hum moved into a almost unhearable range, just at the edge of the senses. The pony found the light built into its suit and after smacking it on light filled the small armory. Hefting the shock stick in its mouth, The pony moved back slowly out of the armory, bumping into the wall a few times as it got used to the boots.

Slowly, the pony moved back to its terminal, and into a cloud of floating objects that the crew had never bothered to secure as per regulation. As the pony neared its station it could hear a faint sound coming through the vents, it sounded like metal screeching and tearing and all sorts of sounds that any space fairing pony really did not want to ever encounter. Luckily for the pony the terminal was still functional and after maneuvering into the seat the pony went to work.

The pony pulled up interior cameras, all down. Exterior cameras, all down as well. Sensor data, which the pony stared at dumbfounded for a moment. The object had changed trajectory, hours ago. After the pony had turned off the annoying sensors and written that report. It had come in on a collision course, but the sensors didn't mark it as a problem. Because, well comets don't change trajectory like that in space and the pony had marked the object as such. So the sensors, rather than realizing there was a problem decided to, just as the pony instructed, Ignore the object.

Perhaps... thought the pony, as panic turned into outright terror. That it was just pirates, pirates who would ransom them back to the nearest outpost for a bit of cash and fuel. But as the pony pulled up the interior sensors on its console it realized that, well. These probably were not pirates, as both of the ponies companions vitality monitors were reading as "No Activity", and that the sensors were showing only one life form aboard the station.

It was at this time the pony looked over its shoulder at the door just a few feet behind them and stared into the darkness. The light from the flashlight only illuminated the console and the control room but did not penetrate the darkness beyond. The pony quickly turned back to the console, pulled up emergency procedures and initiated lock-down. There of course, was no lock-down, Only the console still had power. A cruel joke played on the pony as it quickly pulled up a new report.

"To: All"
"We are unnnnnnnnnn..."

Unfortunately for the pony, the only warning was a slight sense at the nape of its neck as the hair stood up. Before a sound not much louder than a cough echoed through the confined space and the pony, in the beginning of the most important message it would ever send simply stopped. The message, forever left unfinished and the console turned a lovely shade of red.

The figure stood in the shadowed doorway, watching the corpse of the pony slowly float forward in the command chair before it bounced softly off the console screen. If by sheer dumb luck or some divine intervention the ponies nose bounced off "Send" and the message, routed to a secondary communications array with its own backup power. Fired off sunwards, back to those who had sent The Stargazers out into the cold vacuum in the first place. The figure watched the corpse float gently away, before it turned away from the scene. Its voice growled through its suits built in communications, "Only Equestrian."