The moon. A lifeless yellow landscape, pockmarked with craters and hills, underneath a sky full of twinkling, distant stars. From the lunar surface, the blue marble of the earth seemingly floated in an inky black ocean.
The dog standing next to the spaceship gazed upon this beautiful scene, and wiped a tear from his eye.
His human companion walked over, took a glance, and said, “Flamin ‘eck! Not a bad sight, is it, lad!” From where Wallace was standing, he didn’t notice how Gromit’s shoulders slumped.
He walked on obliviously. “Alright Gromit, no more faffing about! Go and nab the basket, there’s a good chap.”
Gromit let out a silent, long-suffering sigh, before climbing back up the ladder into the homemade rocket. Wallace, meanwhile, inhaled deeply through his nose, revelling in the scent of cheese. Truly, such a creation could have only been the work of God. And also crackers, which, in Wallace’s order of excellence, ranked somewhere above a nice green cardigan and below the almighty Wensleydale.
“Hurry up, lad! There’s cheese to be had!” He paused. “Oh! That rhymed!” Gromit climbed down the ladder and followed his master as he looked for a suitable place to set up the picnic.
From behind a collection of stalagmites, two teal eyes gleamed. They followed the two strange beings – a tall, bipedal monkey thing with a head shaped like a car accident, and a floppy-eared dog – as they meandered across the moon.
Wallace put his hands on his hips and glanced around. “Hmm… alright, lad, stop here.” Gromit complied, unravelling the tartan picnic blanket and draping it on the ground. Wallace hummed a little song as his canine friend produced the crockery and crackers.
Meanwhile, the pair of eyes, as well as the body they were attached to, crept out from behind their hiding place and trailed behind the duo. When they stopped, she leapt behind a small hill and watched as they set up shop.
Her eyes widened when she saw the odd man pour a brownish liquid from a flask into two teacups. Her horn glowed a blue aura as she cast a spell.
“Mmmm. Nothing like a spot of tea to get the taste buds going!” Gromit watched Wallace pick up a cheese knife and cut through the base of a small, cheesy stalagmite, and put a slice of it on a cracker.
“Now, let’s ‘ave a bit of moon cheese, eh lad?” Gromit, of course, couldn’t respond, so Wallace took that as his cue to take a bite.
The pony, meanwhile, took that as her cue to appear behind him and say, “Hello.”
“Bloomin’ Nora!” Wallace yelled, spraying half-munched bits of cheese all over his canine companion. Gromit scrunched his eyes shut and went to his happy place, which mostly consisted of tea, bones, and weekend newspapers.
The pony tilted her head, unperturbed and untouched by the cracker shrapnel. “Nora? What is Nora?” She pondered. “Oh! Is it a flower? I do not think I have seen one.”
Wallace stared at the new arrival, before leaning down towards Gromit and whispering conspiratorially into his ear. “Bleedin’ eck, Gromit lad! A talking moon horse!” Gromit stared at him as he tapped his cheeks and hummed. “Wonder if it likes cheese…”
Watching the horse carefully, Wallace held out the block of cheese tentatively, as if afraid that it would bolt. “Would you like some cheese, girl?” he cooed.
The moon horse gave him a queer look, then cleared her throat. “Actually,” she said, “I watched your arrival in that enormous machine of yours, and kept an eye on you. I was not sure if you were, in fact, a threat.” She jabbed a hoof at the tea cup tilting dangerously in Wallace’s slack hand. “Also, I could not help but notice you were drinking tea.” The moon horse looked up at him expectantly.
Wallace stared at her. Gromit stared at her.
Wallace cracked a grin, and waggled his palms. “Cor! The moon is rather smashing, isn’t it, Gromit lad?”
Gromit watched the alien over the top of his newspaper. She had been amicable enough during the course of the introductions, but Gromit was prone to suspecting the worst of people – uh, ponies – and this one had his alarm bells ringing. Just what was that look in her eye?
He perked a floppy brown ear; Wallace was talking again.
“So — uh, Luna, wassit? — where’re the other moon horses?”
“We are not a ‘moon horse’.” Luna replied, with decaying patience. “I am a pony, and the rest of my kind is far from here, in a land called Equestria.” She sipped from her teacup. “Mmm… If I may compliment you on this tea, it is quite delectable.”
“Oh aye, it is rather cracking! Gromit here brews a nice cuppa, don’t you lad?” They both looked towards Gromit, who hurriedly pulled the newspaper up to shield his eyes.
“Ah, yes, the hound who has been watching me throughout our intercourse.” Gromit rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
Wallace gasped, then frowned at his dog. “Gromit! Stop being rude to our guest! Bad dog! Sorry about that, Ms. Luna, dunno what’s gotten into him.”
“It is quite alright, sir.” She looked at Gromit seriously. “You were just concerned for your charge, were you not?” Gromit studied her, before nodding. “I cannot fault you for that. In fact, I commend you for your loyalty.”
“Aww, you were just worried about me, lad?” Wallace patted him on the head. “Thanks, Gromit!” Gromit blushed, pulling up the newspaper to hide his face again. Wallace chuckled and took a bite of his cracker.
Gromit remembered something, and gave Luna an exaggeratedly curious look. Luna, for some reason, knew exactly what this meant. “Oh, you’re wondering how I appeared seemingly out of nowhere like that?” Gromit nodded. “Naught but a simple teleportation spell.”
Wallace and Gromit exchanged a glance. “Spell? Magic spells? Abracawotzit, and all that?”
“Um… I think so? I have never heard of this ‘abracawotzit’ you speak of.” Luna frowned. “Do you have magic back on your homeworld?”
Wallace chewed thoughtfully. "'Fraid not, but my inventions are rather magical, if I may say so meself!” He chuckled. Gromit just rolled his eyes and sipped his tea.
Luna’s ears perked up at that. “Inventions, you say? Like that strange metal cylinder you arrived in?” She leaned in with a rather ferocious curiosity in her eyes.
“Oho, aye, ma’am! Built this morning, after we ran out of cheese back home. Took a bit of elbow grease and hard work, but it’s a fine machine.” As Wallace took a slurp of his tea and smarmed, Gromit lamented that he couldn’t point out that it was mostly his hard work and elbow grease.
Luna stared at him. “You made a machine capable of travelling through space in one morning? With no magic?”
Wallace looked around. “Well, I did stub me toe during. Had to take another tea break while I recovered. Bleedin’ travesty is what it was.”
The box sat. It couldn’t do much else, being a box and all. If it were capable of thought, it would have remembered being quite the thinker back in the day, before it was a box. That hadn’t been for a very long time, however. It hadn’t been touched in so long that even the dust that coated it was getting bored.
Until, that is, Luna happened.
“Ow!” Luna rubbed her head from where she lay on the ground, and glared up at the obstruction. She’d apparently been so caught up in her discussion with Wallace that she’d walked right into something.
Wallace stopped. “Ms Luna?” He looked around for a moment, dumbfounded, until Gromit pulled his trouser leg and directed his attention to the sprawled alicorn at his feet. “Blimey! Are you alright, ma’am?”
In front of them, a metal box riddled with knobs and dials stood placidly, unperturbed despite the alicorn cranium that had just collided with it. Gromit thought it looked like an oven.
“Yes, We are fine,” Luna pushed herself to her hooves, and glared at the metal contraption standing in front of her, “No thanks to this… gizmo.” She kicked it and it dented, teetering slightly before settling back into its original position.
Wallace tapped his cheeks and thought, examining the odd device with a critical eye. Suddenly, a flash of brilliance: he searched his pockets and pulled out a ten pence piece. He pushed it through the slot, and waited.
The tension mounted as three pairs of eyes watched the machine with intense curiosity. Eventually, Wallace shrugged, and said, “Probably busted. Now, let’s get some more cheese, eh?”
Luna looked at the machine, tapping with a tentative hoof. When it failed to respond, she sighed with disappointment, and trotted off after Wallace. Gromit peered at it awhile longer, his curiosity piqued.
“Gromit, what’s tekken so long lad? Is there a moon-cat?” Gromit rolled his eyes, and followed his master obediently.
The machine just stood there. Knobs remained untwisted, slots stayed unfilled…
Except for the coin inside, which finally dropped with a *clink*.
Immediately, two metal arms fell out the holes on the sides and dropped to the ground. Slowly, the robot shifted, wheels popping out underneath it. The robot shook itself, rolled backwards and forwards a few times, and then finally woke up.
It was a bit confused, for a moment. It whirred, clicked, and made other assorted noises, then yanked open a drawer inside its casing and pulled out a spyglass. It held it up to its tiny camera eye.
It reeled back in surprise, then looked again, sure that it was just malfunctioning. Nope. There it was; an honest-to-calculator-god spaceship, just standing there. Parked, in fact.
In a no-parking zone.
Puffing up its proverbial chest, the moon-bot replaced its spyglass in favour of a nice, thick baton, and trundled off at speed. A machine on a mission.
The robot probed the ship with a tentative whack of his baton. After several repeated whacks offered no insights into it’s construction, it promptly scribbled a parking ticket and stuck it to the exterior. Wheeling back with satisfaction, it moved on to examine the remains of what seemed like a picnic nearby.
It prodded at some leftover magazines, whacked at some teacups, and was generally stumped. The robot pulled the eyeglass to its camera eye and looked around once again.
And then his crooked antenna stood rigid with a comically loud *sproing!*.
A pretty powder-blue mane that fell over her perfect teal eyes filled the moon robot’s vision. If the robot was capable of waxing poetically, it would have sung to the stars above of the beauty of this lunar angel, her crescent cutie mark reflecting in his cold metal heart.
Instead, it resigned to some very suggestive beeps and whistles.
Then it saw her laughing, and a very oddly shaped being pouring her a cup of tea.
The robot watched them for a moment, before throwing the eyeglass back in its drawer, and withdrawing a large, thick baton.
Gromit watched Luna as she watched Wallace watch nothing in particular. He knew himself to be a clever pup; it was almost a necessity, when you were the butler and occasional best friend of someone like Wallace.
But this Luna character, she was something else. Definitely odd. Odder than Wallace, perhaps? He doubted it, but one could dream.
There was definitely something to the way she looked at them, on occasion. Something hidden beneath the layers of boisterousness, formality, and general oddness.
“Aaaa… CHOO!” Wallace snorted loudly and rather disgustingly. Train of thought throughly crashed, Gromit clenched his eyes shut and handed his handler a handkerchief. “Cheers, Gromit lad. Now what were we talking aboouu…” Wallace stared at the glowing horn pointed directly at his face, backlit by the thunderous face of the indigo mare.
There was a gasp of surprise, and the horn disappeared to reveal a very bashful Luna. “Uh, my apologies. Old habits die hard, as they say.” She faltered when she noticed that Wallace was still staring off into space. “It appears that We may have broken thy handler, loyal Gromit.”
Gromit watched Luna with newfound apprehension, before waving a slice of cheese underneath Wallace’s hooter. Immediately he began to sniff it, with a groan of “Mmmm, cheeeese…” His tongue fell out the side of his mouth and he panted excitedly. Gromit threw it, and our cardiganned hero bounded after it on all fours.
The dog and the pony watched the human chase the chunk of cheese across the lunar meadows, before the former turned to the latter with crossed arms and a raised brow.
Luna sighed. “We should have known that thou wouldst be curious by our behaviour. Alas, there is not much to tell.” She sat up straighter, staring at the twinkling stars. “We hath been here a very, very long time, and not by any choice of our own. In fact, calling this sphere our prison would not be inappropriate.” She sighed. “We are not a very nice pony, in actuality.”
“Well, that’s no reason to be so down, Ma’am!” Wallace marched over, cheese held aloft proudly. Luna watched him approach with a dubious frown.
“What are you talking about?” She asked. “What is there to be “up” about?”
Wallace spread his arms. “Lots!” He declared, and then he grinned. Luna continued to stare at him. Gromit performed a roundabout gesture with a paw. “Oh! Uh…” He looked around for something to use, and his eyes found the cheese in his hand. “Well, just look at this cheese, for example! This cheese wasn’t ready from the get-go, y’know. It had to be aged. It took time to mature, before it became the beautiful thing it is today. Reminds me of a certain somebo- somepony, dontcha know?”
Wallace looked at her meaningfully, and Luna, for reasons quite beyond her understanding, began to blush.
“I mean, just look at Gromit! He was quite the scamp when ‘e was a pup, I tell you what!” He chuckled and looked down at his dog, who was staring at something behind him. “What? It’s true. Oh! Dropped me cracker.”
And so he leaned over, just as the moon bot swung at his head with a baton and froze.
All was quiet, except from the muffled sounds of Wallace chewing heartily. “Mmm, cracking. Now, what were we talking abou–”
His head collided with the static baton with a thwack.
“Oof!” He moved to the side and got back to his full height, rubbing his conked head. He noticed the outstretched baton, and tugged it out of the robot’s grip. He looked from it to the robot, shrugged, and slotted another coin into the slot. Turning back to the others, he said, “Welp, we better be off then. Come along Gromit.”
Luna jolted, alarm breaking out across her features. “Y-You’re leaving? So soon?”
Wallace looked at her oddly. “It’s gettin’ a bit nippy up here. Nearly time for tea, too. We can’t faff around ‘ere all night, after all!" He stopped, his mouth forming a small 'o' of realisation. "Gosh, I nearly forgot to ask: would you like a lift, ma'am?"
Luna’s mouth opened and closed hesitantly, as if she were unable to come up with a suitable response. “We… I think I shall stay here, actually. I have a lot of maturing to do, it seems.” She smiled sadly. “Tis rather odd, is all, for I have hardly known thee, yet it feels as if we have known one another for years. It is nice to speak with another being, I suppose.”
Wallace slapped her on the back heartily, drawing a surprised yelp. “Ah, we love ya too, ya big softie!” He punctuated this with a yawn. “Anyway, time for us to head home. Remember to write!”
Gromit rolled his eyes, then gave Luna a polite wave as they headed off back to the ship.
Luna watched them go, waving with a hoof. She noticed the leftovers of their impromptu picnic—specifically, a block of cheese and a half mangled packet of crackers.
She eyed the snacks carefully, then, tentatively, raised a cheese-loaded cracker to her mouth, and immediately had it pushed aside in favour of a bouquet of old flowers, held in the trembling grip of an oven-like robot.
Luna eyed the robot carefully. The robot lasted five seconds under her scrutiny before dropping the flowers and clamming up inside its casing.
Luna watched it quake, before looking back down at the delicacy in her magical grip.
Beauty takes time to mature, does it?
She popped the cracker in her mouth.