Luna's Return Trajectory

by Stainless Steel Fox

The Conversation

"Alright Mr President, sir, we're connecting you in to the line now."

The speaker was one of Doctor Sagan's assistants, Nixon had memorised his name as any good politician would, but right now he was focussed on the conversation ahead. He glanced over his notes, and the ones prepared by his communications secretary.

"Thanks. Hopefully this phone call won't be interrupted." The assistant relaxed slightly at the quip, just as Nixon had intended.

"Greetings, this is Luna calling. Am I talking to President Nixon?" The voice was slightly distorted and crackly, but unmistakably the feminine voice that he'd heard during that original converation, and in numerous broadcasts since.

"You are, Miss Luna. I assume you've been told why I'm talking to you?"

There was a pause, and he wondered if she was considering an answer until he remembered the three second delay.

"Indeed. You wish to take my measure, face to face, or as near to it as can be arranged. You lead the United States, and wish to decide for yourself whether bringing me to your country will be more of a benefit or a risk, as a wise leader should. I hope I can answer your questions, and allay any fears you may have."

"That is correct, though the decision ultimately resides with the American people, as expressed through Congress." This conversation would probably be broadcast, whatever final determination he made, and it would need to give the best possible impression. He counted out another three seconds.

"But you will be the one to put it before them, so I must needs convince you first. Though my first priority is to apologise to you personally."

"Well, your confession about Nightmare Moon didn't exactly make my job any easier."

"For that as well, I apologise. I believed that I was talking only to Sir Neil and Sir Edwin. However, I meant my earlier trespass, where I interrupted your speech. I should have realised that Sir Neil and Sir Edwin would not simply be standing around doing nothing."

Nixon waved it off, forgetting it was only a radio link. "That's in the past, but if it makes you feel better, you're forgiven."

He wasn't one to fret about things he couldn't change, and whatever happened, keeping a good relationship with Luna cost nothing.

"Thank you, Mr President, you are most generous. As to your decision, I have listened to many of the broadcasts from Earth, and understand that many people fear me for the power I wielded, and the mare I became. I can say all I want that I am no longer that mare, that the Nightmare was stripped from me and that I would never allow it to happen again, even if it could, but I can not demonstrate the truth of my words directly."

"That is the problem. Though it's not just your past. Some people worry about the power you possess, or how the things you can teach us will affect their lives and their jobs."

"That fear, at least is easy to allay. Doctor Schopf has discussed the need for quarantine. Even after that, it would make sense that I stay at the Lunar Recieving Laboratory, or some other institute of learning, and work with whoever you designate to ensure that my knowledge is used to the greatest benefit and least disruption."

"Reasonable restrictions on your movements would be one of the requirements." Nixon had to tread a thin line, reassuring the anti-Luna brigade without offending the Lunatics. "Nothing onerous, I assure you. Spending most of your time at one place would help make any arrangements easier."

"I would guess that the arrangements would include guards of some sort? That would further help to reassure your people."

"The specifics remain to be worked out, but yes, that is a reasonable assumption. They would be there for your protection as well. Your point that we will need to assess any new technologies you help us develop is well taken too."

"To properly reassure those who fear my magical abilities they must needs be armed with tools and weapons that could restrain me. I will work on such as a gesture of good faith."

That stunned Nixon for a second. Luna was actually willing to go that far? His years as an attorney and politician had made him highly sensitive to verbal bovine excrement, but those senses were telling him there was no deception here. Though he had to remember that for all her juvenile appearance, she was over 800 years old, and had been a ruler for much of that time. On the other hand, she'd demonstrated a distaste for dissembling. Best take it as genuine.

"That is more than we could have hoped for."

He heard Luna sigh, and wondered for a second how that worked on the moon. "'Tis about building trust. I am an outsider, and something new and different to most people. I am an unknown, my magic is an unknown, and it seems many humans fear the unknown, and that which they can not control no less than ponies. My admissions about my part in creating Nightmare Moon will not have helped.

"To that end, I have been working on another project that will demonstrate my good will, and allow your people to better understand the power of magic. I believe the term would be a 'photothaumic cell'. I will have them prepared and deliver them to the astronauts of your next voyage whether or not they come to take me with them."

Nixon was not a scientist, but he could derive the context from the name, his knowledge of classics and the science briefings he'd had. "Would this be a device that converts light into magical energy?"

"Indeed, Mr President. I was inspired by the description of photovoltaic cells on the various space probes. It takes some elements from my light amplification spell as used in the radio I designed, but most of it was simply worked out by arithmatic decomposition of a simple 'light object' spell. I inverted the matrix through a Fourcart convolution and reversed the intent. It wasn't easy, but light spells are something of a speciality of mine.

"It takes the form of a thin plate of almost any non-magically conductive substrate, etched with runes. I've embedded a small quartz crystal at one end as an accumulator. It takes some mana to enchant, but after that, as long as light falls on it, it will produce magical energy, which is stored in the crystal.

"It hath both practical ends and is a show of faith. You will be able to recharge the items I crafted, and your scientists and researchers will have access to a magic power source to experiment with so they can better understand it's properties. It also makes your research independent of me. They will be able to test independently any ideas on blocking and supressing magic, as those restraints I mentioned will require. Undertstanding, and a feeling of control will hopefully lessen the fear of those who now rail against me."

"I suspect Doctor Sagan and his crew are eager to get their hands on it. Though you understand if anything this may delay any effort to rescue you, if that's agreed to, as there will be people who will insist on using it to research magic and it's implications before we can safely bring you to Earth."

"What boots it? I said this was a gift, and I meant it. After all, your people have already given me the greatest treasure I could ask for... companionship. I may be alone here, but at least I have voices to keep me company, a way to talk to others and make friends, access to your rich culture of stories and songs, and a chance to learn new things no pony has before.

"It may mean I will be here longer, but in the meantime your gift to me will make the waiting easier, and the delay will hopefully mean that when and if your people do rescue me, our mutual trust will be stronger for it."

"That's a pretty magnanimous thing to say." Nixon considered the ramifications. Delaying until Apollo 13 would give the technical people more time to put together the modified lunar lander, and his own team to take care of the non-technical aspects of bringing a sapient non-human to the U.S.A. The additional time and chance to study magic would, as she said, help reduce fears and tensions over the unknowns, which was all to the good.

He'd have to check with NSA and CIA sources as to when the earliest possible Russian launch could happen, but if the answer was, 'not before April', it seemed like a plan. While he'd schemed, Luna had replied.

"I have much ground to make up. I can only do that by being generous in my dealings, even if Generosity was my sister's Element." The last part sounded like a gentle quip.

"Well, as I said, Luna, I have to put the proposal to rescue you before Congress before anything else can be done. I'm sure Doctor Sagan and his team will keep you informed. For now, I must go."

"Thank you for your time, Mr President. May you continue to lead your people wisely."

There was static for a moment, then silence.