November 25th, 2257
A note of reference for any future missions.
Pegasi do NOT react well to microgravity.
They are also extremely resilient to electric shock.
That being said, orbital insertion went okay for the most part. I did find myself having to scold Twilight for her continuing disregard of GSA property. I allowed her to get away with so much up until this point, but after finding out she'd re calibrated the automatic direction finder and compass I had to put my foot down. I'd already done the calculations for our launch trajectory and had accounted for the incorrect readings of this planet. If it hadn't been for the fact that she'd recalculated the trajectory for me, we would have had to abort the launch right then and there.
Of course, that wasn't the only problem. I know I said insertion went okay for the most part, but there were a series of problems late in the scram ascent stage.
Most importantly, the number seven turbopump locked up at full throttle and refused to shut down. That gave us all quite a good scare for a minute. I managed to resolve the problem before it became critical by starving the engine and increasing our insertion angle to leave the atmosphere sooner.
Still, that little scare revealed a problem I hadn't expected from my second passenger, Rainbow Dash.
I saw no signs of it before hand, and according to Twilight, Dash had never shown any symptoms. But I believe the pegasus is claustrophobic. Right after the turbopump malfunction, she began to panic, and it only got worse at MECO. Twilight tells me she was complaining about the seat crushing her and being unable to breathe at first, and then began to panic about falling.
Things reached a head when Rainbow Dash got out of her harness and began flailing about the cabin. I'll be honest, once I realized she was having a panic attack, I expected microgravity to make things worse. Given her natural flying instincts, the sensation of falling that comes with weightlessness could only be counter-intuitive to her. And boy, was I right.
It got so bad that I was worried she was going to get seriously hurt. So I ended up breaking out the shock probe I made to deal with Twilight and gave Dash a good zap.
To restate what I've already said, while Unicorns seem to be as vulnerable to shock as anyone else, pegasi, or at least Rainbow Dash, are practically immune. The voltage was at least as powerful as a taser but didn't seem to so much as faze her.
I'm extremely glad she had no physical purchase at the time, because she immediately kicked me in the face in retaliation. If she'd had any leverage, she probably would have broken my jaw.
In the end, Twilight ended up taking care of her friend. She grabbed Dash with her TK and rammed her head-first into the access panel for the CHM. That might have been a bit over the top, but without any better ideas, I guess that was the best we could hope to get with such a short amount of time to work with.
Dash remained out for a good thirty minutes after that, long enough to get her strapped back in and perform the final orbital insertion burn.
The next two hours we spent just trying to keep her calm, plus I spent some time grilling Twilight as to why exactly she'd let her friend get into this without knowing what was going to happen. Honestly, in retrospect I feel like an idiot. I have years of training and I let two ponies play astronaut with practically no knowledge or experience in the matter. I hope the doc can tell me what's been wrong with me the last few months when I get home. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't DARE let inexperienced people (or ponies) anywhere NEAR the Raven, let alone in it.
Anyway, Dash is calm now, but looking a little sick. I finished our third burn fifteen minutes ago and we're well on our way to meet up with the arrow. Twilight's been dividing her time between staring out at the planet, experimenting with weightlessness, and scribbling frantically on one of her old wrinkly papers. (She's using one of my pens.) It almost made this whole fiasco worth it to see the look on her face when we crossed the dawn terminator during our second orbit. For a while, I thought she'd forgotten to breathe.
I'm going to grab a quick nap in the CHM. It'll be a few hours before rendezvous with the Raven, and I'd rather be fresh for docking.
Seriously, whoever designed the docking configuration for the Arrow and the Raven needs to try handling it some time. I mean it guys. Vertical approach to a horizontal docking ring in a tight rectangular bay. Someone's watched too many of those OLD Star Wars movies. I can't even see the vertical fins to ensure they clear the back rim of the docking bay!
November 25th, 2257
I wish I could say I was used to taking naps in microgravity. But in all honesty I've been sleeping in a glorified centrifuge or on an actual planet the last eight months. I almost forgot how uncomfortable it is to try and sleep with the sensation of falling and this nauseating headache keeping me company. Man, Space Adaptation Sickness SUCKS!
But we all know that, don't we?
Anyway, I had such a fitful time sleeping that when I finally got comfortable enough to pass out, I ended up dreaming about the weirdest thing. Skydiving with Rainbow Dash, without a parachute, while she screamed endlessly.
Actually, the screaming was Twilight. And it wasn't really screaming, it was more like squealing.
As it would turn out, I almost overslept the appointed rendezvous time with the Arrow.
I hate to be a bit of a bragger, but... Yeah, I'm good. I synched our orbit up with it enough that we had drifted to within five kilometers of the Arrow without course correction burns. Close enough the proximity radar had gone off, which is what set Twilight squealing.
Twilight's squealing set off Dash again, forcing me to, half-asleep mind you, try and get the distraught pegasus to calm down. For the record... Waste of time.
I ended up having to tune the pegasus out for the remainder of our approach until she calmed down on her own. I thought she'd never stop crying.
As for approach itself, the Arrow managed to get a 30 km lead on us by the time I was strapped in and firing another burn. It took another half-hour to make a revised approach after matching velocities.
Docking procedure itself was quite a treat, and almost worth the headache today has turned into. When Twilight finally got her first up-close look at the Arrow itself, she began speaking in a kind of half-English, half-pony ramble that reminded me of that first day of contact going over math problems. About the only thing I think I understood out of that whole thing was the phrase 'Giant Metal Ant'.
The final kicker to getting the Raven docked with the Arrow was the moment of contact. If it weren't for the reverberating thump of the contacts and the cyclic clicks of the locking clamps in the contact ring, the only indication that we were connected to the ship would have been the external port lights changing colors. Twilight was impressed I could make such a huge machine behave with such gentle motion.
Now, aside from docking, and Twilight's continued fascination with the ship, I've still got a minor problem in the form of a very distraught pegasus. Even as I type this, she's still strapped into the seat on the Raven and now refuses to budge. Poor Dash was shaking so badly I could hear it rattling the buckles.
I don't know what we're going to do about it, but I've got a week's schedule to take care of, and Twilight agrees that Rainbow Dash can't just sit there for six days. Maybe if we can get her into one of the chambers in the gravity wheel without another panic attack, she'll be okay.
In the mean time, Twilight's getting herself acclimated to microgravity up on the command deck of the Arrow where there's more space to move around.
(Pocket Comment: What is that tiny purple dot on the command deck?
November 26th, 2257
Day and night can lose its meaning up here in space. The nap during approach helped, but I haven't otherwise slept a wink since docking with the Arrow. It's been busy. Twilight's still running as if she had a caffeine pill and even though I recognize some of the effects of sleep deprivation from her previous 'episodes', I think I'll just let her go until she burns out this time.
Oh, we also managed to get Rainbow Dash moved to the gravity wheel. You'd be amazed how much motivation someone can have when they've been sitting on an eighteen hour bladder. Still, this didn't remove the problem. Just like during ascent, Rainbow Dash's flight instincts tried to take over and she ended up pretty much out of control. It was only with Twilight's assistance with her levitation magic that we were able to safely move the pegasus into the marginally more comfortable simulated gravity environment. She's been there ever since.
Speaking of Twilight and microgravity... The girl's a natural. In fact, she's proving to be better at moving around in microgravity than I am. It seems she managed to get a handle on the change of behavior with her levitation magic and now uses it to move around the ship. She explained to me that once she realized she had to establish an anchor with a fixed object, she quickly found that normally difficult self-levitation was practically a 'no-brainer'. She can 'grab' any handhold in the ship and use it even if it's physically out of reach.
I say grab with quotations because from what I gather, it's not a grab in the traditional sense of the word. According to her, Unicorn telekinesis requires an anchor point of a sort to pass momentum to, otherwise it becomes unpredictable. From what I gather, the anchor acts as a kind of... I guess you can call it a short range spatial distortion. The potential energy, or should I say 'weight' of an object is passed into the anchor point rather than through the body of the unicorn itself. Without it, the first time Twilight attempted to lift anything larger than herself, she'd be smashed like a watermelon. Usually, the anchor is just where their hooves are in contact with the ground, because it's easier to set up with physical contact. But it can be done externally much like how she can teleport others. In the case of moving around in microgravity, she reverses things so that the 'anchor point' is what she would normally be levitating, and then levitates herself in relation to that anchor.
She said this could be done on the ground, but the pull of gravity makes it extremely difficult to maintain even for her. Here in space though, the amount of 'power' required is so small in comparison that it makes it seem almost effortless.
Given the way Twilight's taken to weightlessness like a fish to water, I want to say that contrary to any future intuition, it'll be unicorns that are more suited for space travel. One would imagine a pegasus as a perfect candidate, but given what we've learned so far in just one day, it'll be a serious case of having to 'unlearn' their natural instincts.
Observations aside, I have to get some sleep. Tomorrow I'm going to be performing EVA work on the Raven. The number seven turbopump didn't just break by itself. I have to find out what's actually going on before that thing gets me killed.
November 27th, 2257
Rainbow Dash hasn't spoken a word since we got her into the gravity wheel. I'm starting to think that maybe this was much harder on her than I thought. She stays curled up in the entertainment area, staring at the viewing monitor we'd set with images of flying machines and avoids looking out the view ports at all costs. I think I was more comfortable when she was wailing away in terror to this strange behavior.
Twilight STILL hasn't slept, but as far as I can tell, she shows no signs of slowing down and continues to 'experiment' (play around) with microgravity like a kid would play in a sand box. If previous incidents like this were any indicator, I'd give her maybe another day before the lack of sleep starts to catch up on her. Still, I don't like when she gets like this. Cute, sure. Hilarious too. But that responsible part of me nags that if she gets tired, she might try something silly, like teleportation experiments in zero-G. The last thing I'd like to see is a miss-aimed teleport through a bulkhead depositing her in hard vacuum.
That would be the end of her right quick.
Speaking of vacuum. Pulled the EVA today off without a hitch. Got it done in record time too thanks to some help from Twilight. Okay, I spent half the time in my space suit biting my lip, but she really did pull through for me despite not having slept. And it was interesting.
Imagine a decently capable unicorn like Twilight Sparkle as a living, remote-remote manipulator arm using her TK. She sat in the Raven while I was removing the number seven turbopump, and watched me the best she could from a view port. The entire time, she not only acted as a backup tether, but she helped me move around and manipulate the parts as I pulled them, decreasing the fuel consumed by my turbo-pack. After about an hour, she got so proficient at it that I was almost able to move at 'normal' speed instead of 'spacewalk speed'. The space suit's still bulky and hard to move in. That's one thing that hasn't changed in 200 years. (Kind of like dehydrated space food. Actually, now that I think about it. That stuff lasts forever. Did you guys pack me the vintage, 200 year old NASA rations?)
Now that we've got all the turbopump parts and the error log in the tech lab, I can start trying to figure out what exactly is wrong with the Raven. I REALLY hope it's fixable. Because if I can't fix it, I have to bring it back to Earth for repairs BEFORE I can send Twilight and Rainbow Dash home. I'm sure Princess Heaven and Princess Luna would be overjoyed to find out I had no choice but to abduct two of their citizens for a year minimum. That's sarcasm by the way. Just in case I didn't make that painfully obvious.
Anyway... Twilight's on the console nearby looking at spectrograph readings. Probably the only nice thing about being stuck on a ship built to house thirty for asteroid mining missions. I have more ship than I know what to do with. And that reminds me. I've got to calibrate the on board observation instruments and take some readings of the sun, the moon, and 'Canterlot'...
Canterlot is the capital.
I should have mentioned that sooner...
Long story short, Twilight came up with it. I think it's in the flight data recording. She's editing the transcript from what I can tell. Actually, I can't wait until she finishes because I want to know what Dash was saying all this time.
I better go. Twilight wants to try a zero G experiment out and I'm acting safety. And I've still got instruments to calibrate and an engine to troubleshoot.
November 27th, 2257
Seriously? Randy's password is 'gummiebear' ? I spent eight hours with a trace-mapstate spell for this? Isn't a gummiebear one of those weird rubbery gelatin snacks made of sugar and food coloring shaped like a bear cub? You humans are weird.
And this hidden entry feature is strange too. Meant only for engineer access...? I probably shouldn't be in the system like this, but I just can't help it! I haven't slept in... 54 hours? I bet you humans are wondering how I managed to get into the system despite only learning of computers two months ago.
Well actually it's simple. Well, simple if you know how to use magic. Randy thinks I'm watching him type the password. But really, all I have to do is find the digital bit determining if the password authentication is true or false, and just flip it with magic to the 'true' condition and it doesn't matter WHAT the password is. Think of it like I can magically reach in and flip a switch. We have spells to prevent things like that with levers at the palace, but I guess without access to magic, you humans never would have thought it was possible.
I'll admit, it takes some effort on my part, and other unicorns probably can't do it. But after reading all about logic gates and how your computers worked, I just HAD to give it a shot. I mean, I can turn birds into... well, orange-birds. Without hurting them! Not orange coloured birds... Oranges, that are birds. You know, like fruit with wings. Well, that was an accident, I was really aiming at an apple when Pink Pie startled me... But technically this is simple compared to that. I think... Is tripping a computer bit simple compared to turning a bird into an orange? Wait, why am I asking a computer screen? You humans won't be able to answer me for a year!
Ha ha... Listen to me, I probably sound like I'm losing it. I mean, I didn't think I'd get administrative access to the main system. But I guess with a glaring weakness like that, it couldn't be helped. Don't worry though. I'm not going to mess with anything. There is WAY too many things here I can't fix if I mess it up. And Princess Heaven can't bail me out like she did when I used that Want It Need It spell on my old doll. But I'm rambling aren't I? I should close this log before I spill all my secrets. But typing is just so addictive! It's so much faster than I could ever write with a quill. So fast it can almost keep up with my thinking!
Oops, stopping now. I hope whoever reads this doesn't think I'm weird.
November 28th, 2257
Twilight Sparkle still hasn't slept, and she's now in full swing of what I've come to recognize as her obsessive compulsive desire to 'know stuff'. I admit, I saw this coming, but it's no less concerning to watch her totally disregard sleep, food, and even hygiene (her mane's a mess) simply to cram as much experimentation and learning in as she can.
Even more concerning, is that she's somehow managed to gain administrator access to the Arrow's main computer system.
I'm the only guy on this ship and you guys didn't even give ME that!
So far it looks like all she's done is simply gain the access, but hasn't actually used it for anything. I'd like to give her another scolding about respecting GSA property, but at the same time I don't think she'd really listen in her current state. Not to mention I'm actually more tempted to have her give me admin access instead of chew her out anyway. You guys don't like it? Tough, you're seven thousand light years away from telling me how to treat the equipment 'I'M' currently responsible for.
Anyway, the other interesting thing for today turned out to be Rainbow Dash.
I woke up early 'this morning' because I found myself unusually warm. At first I thought the environmental control system was malfunctioning and an air handler cooling line had failed. In reality, Rainbow Dash had, at some point, crawled into my bunk and latched onto me like an over sized stuffed animal.
When I tried to get up, all she did was grip tighter, bury her muzzle in my suit, and shake in her sleep. Honestly I'm reminded of that day where she took a nap in the Raven. For such a brazen and noisy pony, she's actually very cute when she's asleep. According to Twilight, who found out about this incident this afternoon, Dash mentioned that I 'smell familiar'.
Smell familiar? Isn't that an animal thing? Then again, alien ponies. I know that back home young kids and pets are more comfortable around the smells of their parents/masters, but as far as Dash is concerned, I'm neither.
On the plus side, once Dash woke up, she seemed a little more... I don't know. Coherent? Alert? Not utterly terrified to move? I couldn't convince her to leave the gravity wheel, but I think it's starting to settle in for her that we're perfectly safe. (As safe as one can get in an interstellar craft.) Maybe tomorrow, with Twilight's help we'll be able to get her out into the rest of the ship. A little zero-G fun to lighten the mood if she can overcome her anxiety.
I did a check of the instruments just before lunch. For the most part, all the readings I got of both Canterlot and and of Omega Centauri Prime are normal. Disgustingly normal.
And that's NOT normal.
The kicker is the solar magnetic field and solar magnetic activity.
There isn't any. Nada, nothing. Zip, zilch, void, empty of any and all interesting activity. No loops, no flares, no prominences, not a sun spot or coronal mass ejection in sight. X-Ray dynamics comes up with the star being almost perfectly uniform across the disk. Solar wind monitoring shows a near perfect steady stream with a constant proton density and velocity.
It's so plain that it's weird.
The only thing I can think of that would cause that is if the star had no dynamo activity whatsoever. I can't think of anything that would make a star completely halt any and all rotational activity either inside or out.
The only other unusual readings I have is an this oddball microwave reading. It contains a very powerful standing wave and several layers of harmonics that cycle over the course of the day. The frequency also appears to rise abruptly at the times that coincide with dawn and dusk in Canterlot. I can only assume that this has something to do with how Princess Heaven controls Omega Centauri Prime.
Other than that, everything else is normal for a star of this type. Emission and absorption lines are as expected and match what TNLRT observed. I will have the Arrow continue to collect data. Maybe the think tanks back home can find something I can't. Can't see the forest through the trees after all...
Oh, speaking of lunch. Twilight's gotten so flaky from her lack of sleep that she misread one of the meal packets. I believe it was... Pasta noodles with meat sauce. She had almost completely finished the package, going on about how interesting a taste it was when she finally realized what she'd been consuming.
I thought for a minute that she was going to vomit. Instead, she just closed her eyes and forcefully finished the rest of it. Then she went and locked herself in the astrogation lab and screamed. Diagnostics reported a 0.4 volt surge across the entire ship and tripped all the electrical cautions. I had to reset several of the battery isolation buses and do generator tie resets thanks to that. The gravity wheel had to be power cycled as well. Lost 0.05 g and I don't doubt Rainbow Dash noticed.
Reviewing my notes on pony dietary habits, they are chiefly herbivores like their Earthen counterparts. However I have noted supplementary protein consumption in the form of eggs and fish. Eggs mostly go into their baking, with some instances of direct consumption. Fish is much rarer, and seems to be an extremely acquired taste limited mainly to males. I make no assumptions at this time, but I will have to ask in more detail about the local food chain.
But enough about food. A quick report on the Raven's turbopump. I inspected it the best I could today and found that the turbine had been eaten up slightly during this last ascent. Flight data shows that it had been over-driven to nearly 125% of its rated output. Ten percent above the red line for maximum safe performance. In light of this, I'm going to revise my ascent profile to allow for a lower throttle climb. Scrams at 75 or 80% of maximum throttle should be plenty to get me into orbit on a strict 5-5-5 profile (Rather than the 10-7-5 profile).
I need to fish the parts out of storage and schedule an EVA with Twilight to replace the components. Everything from the flow valve right up to the injectors has to be swapped on SCRAM 2, and I'm also going to overhaul SCRAM 1 just to be safe. It'll take me at least a day for each engine WITH help.
I haven't heard from Twilight since lunch though. I hope she didn't freak out TOO bad.
This evening I had some downtime. So I spent it in the entertainment section of the gravity wheel with Dash. Her mood's improved a lot since this morning. But now she follows me around the gravity wheel and lays down next to me. She's been staring at the screen the entire time I've been typing today's log.
I have the feeling that I'm going to be stuck with her sleeping next to me the remainder of the trip.
November 29th, 2257
GWAH! It's BACK! And by it, I mean 'IT!' That weird sensation of being watched. The same sensation I was getting when I first arrived, and all the times I was being watched by Princess Luna. I thought it was just nerves... But... This is tangible. So tangible that it woke me up! I've got goosebumps, my pulse has quickened, and I keep looking over my shoulder as if expecting to find the Princess standing behind me. And the strange thing is that I KNOW I'm not afraid of her, but my entire body is going into panic mode as if I'm utterly terrified.
Even crazier, is the sensation comes in pulses. It took me a while to realize it, but the interval was the same as the rotation rate of the gravity wheel. Every time Equestria goes by in the view port, I feel the sudden urge to hide. I've since blocked off the view port with some tape and paper, and that seemed to reduce the strange terror significantly.
I don't think I'm imagining this. There's something very real, very physical happening and my body can sense it. I don't know what it is. But when I get up later, I'm going to ask Twilight about it.
November 29th, 2257
After the incident this morning, I set about searching the Arrow to see what shenanigans Twilight was up to after her food freakout yesterday.
Regrettably I found her in what I guess you could describe as the most awkward situation to date. She was in the mess, floating passed out in a cloud of MREs and space meals. She'd torn into fifty-seven different packets, all of them some form of meat. She hadn't eaten all of it. But from the looks of things, she'd sampled every single one of them. There's a clipboard she wrote notes on, describing content, flavor, and texture, followed by some pony script which I suspect is either a translation, or her own notes.
I suspect her lack of sleep as a prime culprit here. I've noticed that the longer she goes without sleep, the less rational she becomes. Much like the other times this happened, everything around her gets trashed. I never thought it would get this chaotic though. This is the kind of mess you'd expect a drunk to get into. Or maybe a five year old.
Actually, I'd have to give a five year old more credit. They don't know what they're doing, but they know what they want. Twilight seems more like the opposite...
I had to move her, and it wasn't easy. She was out cold and didn't so much as twitch until I got her into one of the zero-G sleeping sacks. Did you know Twilight sucks her hoof? It's adorable...
And she'll probably kill me if she reads this entry...
I spent the rest of the day pulling the scramjet parts from storage and stocking up the Raven with unopened rations. I'll leave cleaning up Twilight's MRE mess for later. Maybe during the trip back. Six months with nothing to do will be plenty of time to deal with that.
November 30th, 2257
It finally happened! Rainbow Dash finally worked up enough resolve to try and leave the gravity wheel this morning! I almost didn't expect her to do it, but on my way up to check if Twilight was awake, she somehow managed to fight her way up the ladder and out of the wheel.
Almost immediately, her flight instincts took over, and she almost bounced all over the corridor before I managed to bring her to a halt. It look a little work, but after about an hour of carefully showing the pegasus how gentle motions work better than her full throttle actions, she finally started to catch on. Imagine the look on Twilight Sparkle's face when she woke up to find her friend staring back at her. Actually, don't imagine it, check the photo archives. That shot was a classic!
When I explained to Twilight the mess I'd found her in yesterday, she apologized profusely claiming that she hadn't been thinking straight. I told her it was okay since it was obvious she was losing it. But I made her promise that she wouldn't stay up for days on end any more and would take care of herself properly.
That started immediately with showing her (both of them really) how the space shower in the gravity wheel worked. I won't get into details on that. It was just awkward. It's like you have to give your pet dog a bath, but your pet dog is really a cute girl and... Yeah. I'm not a psychologist, so I can't tell you exactly what's going on up inside my noggin. When I get back, I really need to talk with the Doc. about the psychology of dealing with sapient non-humans. All I know is the entire time I spent explaining the space shower (and a few days back, the vacuum toilet) it felt weird. I could talk a human girl through this any day of the week and I wouldn't bat an eye. But every time something like this comes up with these Equinoids (Hey, that's perfect!), it's like I'm at war with myself.
I guess I'll just get off the subject and let the Doc. explain to me the amount of crazy I've got.
Once Twilight was washed up, we went out to prepare for my next EVA while Rainbow Dash got a shower. By the way... These ponies sweat like humans. So they stink after a few days without a shower. You don't really notice in the stale air of the Arrow, but the difference when they're actually clean hits like a punch in the face.
Anyway, the EVA went off without a hitch. It took most of the day, but we got the first turbopump and valve set reinstalled and pulled the other one thanks to Twilight's ability to move me around like a manipulator arm. I'll admit it, we ABUSED that TK ability to get the job done.
Rainbow Dash had watched the entire thing from the docking bay cameras.
During dinner I told Twilight about the sensation of being watched the other day. She seemed genuinely puzzled when I explained to her the physical reaction I had, and how it seemed connected to being in direct sight of her planet. She's got a theory on that based on some previous reactions to different kinds of magic I've had, but can't conclude anything until we get back.
I can't believe I'm actually talking about magic as if it were an everyday thing...
December 1st, 2257
With the turnover of the month, I'm sure the holidays are in full swing back on Earth. I know this isn't really a message home, but if it were I'd be saying to string some bulbs on the tree for me.
I appear to be Rainbow Dash's new giant living teddy bear. I woke up with her actually laying on top of me like an oversized cat. Don't ask me how she managed not to wake me, but sheesh. I hope this isn't a sign of some kind of misplaced affection. The last thing I need is a psychologically unstable alien equinoid half a galaxy away from-
You know what? Forget I typed that.
Today's EVA activity went even faster than yesterday's. Once again Twilight's abilities were a real boon to getting the job done. No, I didn't cut any corners. Sparkle made sure of that by walking us right down the entire installation checklist for the other scram turbopump. It's like I said just before we launched... That girl would make an excellent engineer.
We actually managed to finish just after lunch time, leaving the rest of the day to make sure I had adequate supplies stocked in the Raven itself for the return. (I made sure to load extra printer paper, extra ink, a portable console, and an auxiliary solar panel for Twilight. That should keep her off the Raven's computer and give me some extra privacy.)
I checked on the data from the solar observation instruments once more. Same activity as before. Same microwave 'tone' and standing waves. I'm downloading all the readings I've got to the Raven to go over later, plus I'm tuning the sensors to monitor the microwave readings in sweeps. I want to see if there's any form of shift over time that might tell me something.
When I finished working in the science lab, I went up to the command deck to find Rainbow Dash staring out the view port. Without the thumping of my heavy footsteps (thank you microgravity), she didn't even hear my approach. I watched her for several minutes as she just stared out at the planet. She'd place her hoof on the window, then move it back, then put it on the window, then pull away again.
We were so caught up with our respective observations that Twilight startled both of us when she floated in and started talking to Dash. According to Twilight, Dash mentioned that seeing their home like that made her feel small. I can empathize with that feeling. The first time I saw Earth from high orbit, something just clicked. Everything you've ever known. Everyone you've ever met. It's all down there...
Everything, on a ball of dirt the size of your fist. Or in Dash's case, the size of her hoof.
I'd like to say though, that Twilight brought that mood up by mentioning that my appearance shows that even as small as we are, there are friends to be had out there.
I feel kind of proud this evening. Mankind's first meeting with an alien race, and I've been officially described as a friend. To have mankind thought of as a friend... If this is to set the stage for the future, then I think that for all my screw ups, all my mistakes, I did the best anyone could ever hope for.
I think with most of the work out of the way for now, I'll spend tomorrow with my 'friends', and just have fun goofing off.
December 2nd, 2257
Today is the last day on the Arrow. And from the moment I woke up until now, I resolved to make it as entertaining as possible for the two ponies.
With some practice, Twilight and I helped Rainbow Dash learn to effectively 'fly' in zero gravity. She's not quite as proficient at the process as Twilight has become with her TK manipulation, but by lunchtime she was zipping around the command deck with only a few minor collisions with bulkheads. It seems her biggest impairment is the lack of equilibrium in finding up or down, so she loses orientation very easily. In order to solve this issue, we developed a routine wherein by default, down is always direction of travel. And if she gets confused, just to bring herself to a complete stop relative to the movement of the air.
By the time any of this becomes relevant to future generations of ponies, she should have perfected the technique.
We spent lunch in the entertainment area of the gravity wheel. I introduced the two of them to the bane of all mankind... The video game. I kept the selection pretty tame for their sakes. Some of the stuff I played on the way here would give these ponies nightmares for months. Still, they seemed to like some of the war games I had. Twilight was absolutely fascinated to watch me work my way through one mission. She said it was extremely interesting to actually see the strategies and tactics she'd only read about up to this point go into play.
From the looks of things, Dash wanted to play too, though one look at the controller and my hands and she just sat grumbling in her language.
I didn't stay on the gaming too long. I know how it gets to be stuck watching something for too long and I also didn't want those two getting too curious about the collection. However, after some thought I went to the Arrow's archive and put a few strategy and puzzle games on a flash to place on the portable console. Nothing big, just a few time-wasters.
After that we goofed off some more on the command deck. I showed dash the main console and the holographic master situation display. For a little fun, I used the high resolution cameras to take photos of their homes. Mementos we printed out so they could show off the 'pictures of home from space'. On top of that, I took dozens of snapshots of the planet and their continent so they'd have something to give out.
While they were going over that, I realized that I could probably do better than just bringing some photos for them. In particular, I figure a good token of gratitude would be to bring some kind of gift for the princesses since they've been such good sports about my time here. I hope nobody back home minds too much if a pair of old touch pads and a solar charger go 'missing'. Princess Luna in particular really seemed to like the instrumentation. So she should REALLY like this old toy.
I should get some sleep now. When I get up, we've got to suit up and prepare for the return trip. I'm hoping that after warming up a bit to microgravity, Dash will be able to handle reentry without freaking out.
That reminds me, I better go connect the fuel line and refuel the scram tanks on the Raven. I almost forgot about that...
****Got some ideas to fix the marked issue from someone on the software side of the spectrum of electronics engineering. Once we bounce some thoughts around a little, I'll rewrite Twilight's entry.