The Conversion Bureau: United We Stand

by RK_Striker_JK_5

Chapter Ten

Marissa Faireborn and Bat Madison entered the main monitoring room and walked up to a sensor technician at a station. “Report,” Marissa said as she leaned down and peered at the display screen.
The sensor technician pointed to a spot on the screen. “There was a surge of Thaumic radiation five minutes ago, followed by six ponies teleporting in. There was a stronger surge two minutes later, and they teleported out.”
Marissa growled as she quickly identified the six ponies. “Dammit, their versions of the Elements of Harmony.” She stood up and walked around to the large wall-mounted monitor. The image on it was a close-up of the barrier. A dot on the screen marked the spot of the teleportation. She growled and rapped the screen with her knuckles. “I know what you're about to ask, General, and no.” She turned her head as Bat walked up to her. “The Earth Defense Command has no way to plot the direction of a teleportation.”
Bat nodded. “I figured. For what it's worth, neither does the US military.” He turned around. “I want all crews on the perimeter on high alert, and to have anything suspicious reported in. My guess is that's the prelude to something. What, I don't know, but we can't be caught unaware.”
Marissa stepped back and her eyes widened as she watched the screen. Before she could say anything, another sensor technician spoke up. “General, Commodore, we have pegasi emerging from the barrier!”
Bat spun around. The image on the screen had split in half. One side showed the same overhead view of the barrier, while the other showed it from the side. Pegasi flew up from the hole leading to Neo-Equestria. They started flying around in a tight, circular column a few dozen meters or so from the barrier's edge. A dial showing wind speed suddenly began climbing, even as another showing air pressure dropping. Dark clouds also floated up, collecting and coalescing around the barrier
Marissa shook her head. “Weaponized weather, but a bit early. I expected them to wait until nighttime, at least. Still thirty minutes to sundown.”
Bat shook his head. “Their mistake.” He pointed to the map. “We’ve already got reinforcements from Forts Knox and Campbell. The perimeter's been reestablished and reinforced with pre-railgun artillery. More useful against pegasi than missiles.”
Marissa nodded. “Those and the laser artillery platforms we airdropped in should keep them contained. For now, at least.”
Bat touched the comm unit in his ear. “Contact the battalion's CO and tell him all positions have permission to fire. Take out that tornado team and any pegasi that fly out of the barrier!”

Flash Sentry could barely contain his excitement. Here he was, about to strike a blow for peace and harmony! He hopped from hoof to hoof as squadrons in front of him were called forward. One by one they flew through Queen Celestia's gateway to Earth, to spread the potion and help those nasty humans.
Quicker than he thought, he stood at the base of the gateway. He barely listened to Captain Armor's instructions as he took in the sight of the roiling energies that connected Neo-Equestria to Earth. He suddenly snapped to attention as his flight leader spread her wings and flew through the gateway. Flash followed her through the gateway, through the barrier... and he was on Earth.
He unbuckled his saddlebags and readied his bottles of potion. Flash's helmet slid down over his eyes and he was blinded for a moment. He stopped in midair and slid it back. Loud crashes of thunder echoed through the air, surprising him. Wait, when did we send thunderclouds through? All we had available were regular dark clouds!
He looked around, suddenly noticing how very few other pegasi there were. The tornado that was supposed to be uprooting the humans' weapons emplacements was barely ruffling his mane. He looked to his left and saw a few pegasi flying around, but not nearly enough to form a proper tornado, just enough to kick the wind up. Dark clouds hung in the air, and he coughed. Where is –“

Sergeant Dale Peterson lowered his binoculars as his team continued firing shells at the pegasi flying from the barrier. Although their M198 howitzer was not specifically designed for anti-aircraft duties, their airburst shells were proving quite effective against their current targets. The roar of jet engines overhead briefly drew his attention, but he quickly focused once more on the barrier and the pegasi still emerging from it. “Continue firing.”
A strong gust of wind blew through, causing everyone there to clutch at their helmets or duck behind sandbags. Dale scanned the barrier again and swore as he saw more pegasi flying around in a tight circle. Trees near the area swayed and lost their leaves. “Fire-control, target the pegasi trying to form a tornado. If they get going we'll end up in Oz.”
One of the soldiers loading a shell looked over from the howitzer. “And me without my ruby slippers,” he quipped.
Dale allowed himself a smile before turning around and scowling. “Can the chatter and keep firing, or the Wicked Witch is gonna be the least of our worries. And put a call in to Battalion S4, too. I don't want us running low on ammo.” He looked once more to the battlefield as more shells exploded amongst the pegasi. “God knows how many more are coming.”
A small dot near the barrier caught his attention. It quickly grew into a tan-colored pegasus. Dale dropped his binoculars and pulled out his sidearm. “Incoming!”
The pegasus flew forward in a steep dive, hitting the ground. He bounced and skipped along the ground, rolling with each bump. He finally slowed to a halt a few meters from the howitzer, body heaving. His wings were torn and missing a lot of feathers, while his armor was pitted and ruptured. Blood matted down his mane and oozed from cuts and gashes along his forehead and body. Groans and cries of pain came from him as he tried and failed to get to his hooves.
Dale swallowed. He looked back. “Get a medic team over here, on the double. Reed, Abgarowicz, cover me. I'm gonna check on him.” He held his pistol up and slowly moved around the sandbags. “I'm coming to check on you! I will not harm you unless you try anything!”
The pegasus slowly raised his head. His eyes focused on Dale. “Not... ugh, not in a position to stop you.” His head dropped back and he panted. “Didn't expect this.”
Dale's eyes narrowed as he knelt by the pegasus. “Didn’t expect what? The resistance, or me helping you out? And what's your name?”
“Flash Sentry, and the resistance mostly. Although it's a bit surprising to see you trying to help me after blowing me out of the sky.”
Dale looked Flash over. “Well, considering your queen or whatever is trying to wipe our species out without even asking, I'm not gonna apologize.” He froze as his eyes fell upon Flash's saddlebags and several bottles clinking around inside them.
Flash raised his head and looked back in the direction of Dale's stare. “Oh, don't worry. Those are just bottles of potion. We were –” He stopped and slapped his face with a hoof. “Oh, horseapples!”
Dale turned and waved at his team. “Get command on the line. We got something big. And get those medics here!”

A comm officer looked up from her screen. “General, Commodore, there's news from the perimeter.” She adjusted her headset as the two walked over to her station. “Artillery position twenty-three reports taking a prisoner, along with seven bottles of their potion.”
Bat leaned back, while Marissa let out a low whistle. “That's one hell of a big break,” Bat said.
Marissa nodded. “If I may recommend Autobot City for analysis? It's probably the closest and best place to study it and develop some sort of countermeasure under controlled conditions.”
Bat rubbed his chin. “Can't disagree with you on that. You heard her, Lieutenant. Send the word, and make sure they know to be extra-careful with that crap.” He paused. “And let them know that POW better be taken care of, or else someone's ass is gonna be in a sling.”
Marissa half-smiled. “Well, this may not be the beginning of the end, but to paraphrase Mister Churchill, 'the end of the beginning.'”
Bat shrugged as he turned and looked to the main wall-mounted screen and the barrier. “Maybe, but we've still got one hell of a middle and end.”

Equestria, across the Rainbow Bridge
Megan looked up. The ground raced above her head, a brown and green blur. She looked down between her forelegs and saw the endless sky. She looked ahead as she flew over Equestria. “Firefly always made this look so easy.” She leaned to her right slightly before throwing the entire weight of her body to her left. She spun around, momentarily righting herself before spinning back around to end up right where she had been before. “Of course.”
She slowed herself down, not entirely sure how. Her forward momentum slowed, finally ceasing. Megan hung in midair and swung her head about. “Where the hell am I?” She narrowed her eyes, but quickly yelped as the landscape zoomed in, blurring and dizzying her. She covered her head with her wings and shut her eyes. Even her legs folded up into a sitting position.
A few minutes passed. Megan finally uncovered her head and slowly opened her eyes. She sighed in relief as the world did not suddenly converge on her. She slowly spun herself around, kicking her legs out as she righted herself and sending out miniature whirlwinds with each thrust. After a halting spin, she found herself right-side up.
A cool breeze ruffled Megan's mane. She closed her eyes for a second, letting the horrors of the day's events fade, if only for a moment. Queen Celestia's voice had faded to little more than a whisper in the dark corners of her mind. It nattered away, other thoughts and concerns drowning the words out.
Megan's eyes snapped open as she heard shouts and cries. Her ears twitched, and she quickly located the source of the cries. She turned and shot off, reaching a small lake in the middle of a forest within seconds. She threw her forelegs out as she slowed down, but still overshot the lake by two miles. Megan turned around and flew back, slower but still reached it within seconds. She leaned forward and flew down, as slow as she could.
Down in the lake, a small rowboat was out near the middle of the lake. A small filly in it leaned over, reaching for a colt in the water that was struggling to keep his head above water. His legs kicked and thrashed, sending up waves that rocked the rowboat and kept the filly inside from being able to get to him. Both shouted at each other, but the colt's head bobbed up and down beneath the water, drowning his words out.
Megan gritted her teeth. “Hold on, I'm COMING!”
The water rocked from Megan's voice, pitching the boat up and sending the colt underwater. Megan tapped her forehead. “Dammit, Megan!” She dove down into the water and looked around, quickly spotting the colt. Her eyes adjusted instantly, and her mane and tail flowed back, the mane plastering itself to her body and the tail twisting around almost into something a fish would have. Her horn lit up and she carefully, gingerly grabbed the colt. She flew up, taking the colt and also grabbing the filly.
Megan touched down onto the shore and placed both foals onto the sandy beach in front of her. She looked them over. “Are you two alright?”
The colt coughed and sputtered, but nodded. “I – hack – think so.” He cleared his throat and wiped his eyes. He then batted the filly away as she fussed over him. “I'm all right, Sassa!”
Sassa rolled her eyes. “You weren't all right a few minutes ago, Sure Hoof!” She looked up at Megan and smiled. “Thank you so much, Miss...” Sassa's voice trailed off. Her eyes widened as she spotted Megan's wings and horn. “W-who are you?”
Megan smiled. “Oh, my name's Megan Richards.” The smile fell away as soon as the words escaped her lips. “Oh, dammit.”
Sassa's and Sure Hoof's eyes went wide. Sassa shook her head. “N-no, way, you can't be Megan Richards! Megan Richards is a human from Earth, not an alicorn princess.”
Sure Hoof patted her on the shoulder. “Wait, wait, Sassa! Maybe it is Megan Richards, and she's showing her true form! Maybe she's decided to show she really is the Mag'ne!”
Megan shook her head and waved a hoof at Sassa. “No, nonononono! I'm not the Mag'ne. Well, I sorta am but not in the way you're thinking. You see it's...” She trailed off and she stared off into the distance. “It's a bit of a long story, actually.” She suddenly noted the low position of the sun in the sky and how dark the sky was getting. “And I don't have time.” She knelt down and gathered the foals close with her wings. “Listen, do either of you have an idea what direction Canterlot is in? I really need to get there quick.”
Sassa and Sure Hoof looked to each other, then up to Megan. “Canterlot is south, Miss Megan. Or Miss Mag'ne, actually,” Sassa said, bowing her head to her.
Sure Hoof nodded. “It's about three hundred miles, I think.” He too bowed
Megan gently reached out with her wings and lifted their heads “Thank you very much, you two. And no need to bow to me, either.” She stood up and looked around. The sun was now a thin sliver on the horizon, but it was more than enough for Megan to orient herself to face south. She leapt into the air and sped off, quickly disappearing into the sky.
Sassa and Sure Hoof turned and galloped off. “No one's gonna believe this!” Sassa shouted. “We met the Mag'ne and helped her out!”
Sure Hoof nodded, grinning. “I know. Wait until we tell Mom and Dad about this!”

Megan looked down at the ground as it sped by. Night had finally fallen. Clouds blocked most of the stars, but a few shone through. The moon was little more than a fuzzy patch behind them, but Megan could see everything and everyone just fine. “I could get used to this.” She gasped as pegasi and airships appeared ahead. She dodged and weaved around them, shouting, “Excuse me!” as she passed by them at transonic speeds.
After nearly an hour, the familiar sight of Mount Eohippus and Canterlot itself rose, as if in greeting. Megan kicked her forelegs out once more to slow down, not only to avoid overshooting her target, but to better avoid any airborne obstacles. Finally, she was over the city itself. She flew down as slow as she could, circling around until she came upon Canterlot Castle.
Megan's eyes narrowed. “Okay, no X-ray vision. I think.” She stopped in front of a balcony and looked inside. Her heart jumped with joy at what she saw inside. “Oh, thank goodness!”
It was a small sitting room, with some bookshelves, a desk, chairs and other amenities. At the desk sat Celestia herself. She was absentmindedly leafing through a dogeared copy of The Two Towers and sipping tea. Suddenly, she stood up, knocking the chair over. “Who's outside!” she commanded.
Megan flew over to the balcony and touched down onto it. She swallowed and kicked the air. “C-Celestia, I... I'm not sure how to say this, but –” She gasped as Celestia walked through the double-doors and outside.
Celestia's eyes widened as she took the sight of Megan in. She stepped back and leaned first to the left, then right. She locked eyes with the alicorn before her. “By the Herd, by Granny Bonnie herself. Megan... is that you?”
Megan nodded. “Yeah, i-it's me, Celestia.” She turned her head around and looked herself over. “I know it's hard to believe, but – ”
Celestia rushed forward and wrapped a foreleg around Megan's neck in a tight hug. Tears streamed down her face. “Oh, thank goodness you're alive! I was so worried about you when that barrier went up and that other Celestia was there!”
Megan let out a deep breath and shrank into herself. She returned the hug and her eyes stung with moisture. Within seconds, she was crying too.
The room's inner door opened and a hoofmaiden poked her head in. “Princess, are you all right? I heard voices.”
Celestia screwed her eyes shut and nodded. “I'm fine,” she slowly said. “I wasn't before, but now it's a little better.”
The hoofmaiden, Featherful, stepped into the room proper. She started to speak, but froze as she caught sight of Megan. “Princess... if I may ask, who is that?”
Celestia turned and looked to Featherful. She slid out of the hug and stepped around to Megan's side. She looked to Megan, then to Featherful, then back to Megan. She walked forward and placed a hoof on Featherful's mouth. “First, it's Megan. Second, I need you to immediately go and get Luna.” She paused for a second and cocked her head to the side. “She's in the Senate Chamber.” Her horn glowed and rolled-up scroll with a large, red seal popped into existence. “This will get you in without any questions.” She loomed over the hoofmaiden. “Don't tell anyone!”
Featherful took the scroll with her magic. She bowed her head to Celestia, then glanced at Megan with wide eyes before turning and galloping off.
Megan let out a soft whinny. Her head hung low and her mane drooped to the floor. “This has been one of the most insane days of my life, and that includes the time the Decepticons attacked my hometown in 1985.” She dropped to the floor. “I'm so tired.”
Celestia walked over and dropped down next to her. “I have so many questions, but they can wait for when Luna gets here. Right now, I'm glad you're safe.” She floated a cup of tea over. “How's your telekinesis?”
Megan half-smiled. “Probably better than my flying, but right now I don't wanna chance it.” She opened her mouth as Celestia tilted the cup forward and sipped some tea.
The two sat there for a few minutes. Finally, a dark-blue mist flew into the room and coalesced into Luna herself. She stared down at Celestia and Megan, her expression one of naked shock. “I do not believe this, but yet my eyes, and my magic...” She dropped down to the floor. “Megan, what did this false Celestia do to you?”
Megan nickered and slowly stood back up, Celestia and Luna following. “It's not a long story, but there's a lot to it.” She started at the beginning, detailing everything the other Celestia had told her, where she had ended up in Equestria after teleporting from Antarctica, all the way up to arriving at Castle Canterlot. With each word, Celestia's and Luna's expressions grew darker and more somber. At the end, Luna shook her head. “How could any version of us be so foalish as to trust Discord of all beings?”
Megan shrugged. “I don't know much beyond a few fragments and what managed to slip out during our telepathic chats. Quite frankly, I don't care.” She held her head up high and snorted steam. “She threatened my family and–” Megan suddenly gasped. Her horn lit up and both Celestia and Luna were drawn in close to her. “Danielle, Danielle! She was talking to me when this whole damned thing started!” She closed her eyes and hopped from hoof to hoof. “Oh, god, is she all right?” She shook the two with her magic. “Is she?”
Celestia's magic flared and Megan's grip on her was broken. “Megan, it's all right. Calm down. Calm down!” She reached out and placed a hoof on Megan's shoulder. “Danielle's in Ponyville right now. She's checking out our side of the Rainbow Bridge. She's strong, Megan, just like her parents.”
Megan barked a laugh. “I wouldn't call myself 'strong', Celestia. I've been having to fight off the voice of that crazy version of you ever since I got changed into this.” She held up a foreleg and looked it over. “I'm not even sure what I am, not anymore. Am I an alicorn, now? Can I go back to being human?” She looked down and sighed. “I just don't know anything right now.”
Celestia's lips pursed. “Megan, I don't know how, or what it will take, but I swear to you. No matter what it takes, we will make this right.”
Megan opened her mouth slightly, but it quickly stretched out as she yawned. She folded a wing over her head. “I-I need to go see Danielle. I got to get to...” Her wings dropped and her body wobbled back and forth. “I have to get to...” Her mouth stretched open once more in a yawn, and this time she didn't even bother to cover it.
Luna reached out with a hoof to Megan's chin and held her head up. She locked a stare onto her and Luna's eyes glowed white. “Megan, sleep.”
Megan's eyes rolled into the back of her head and her entire body slumped down. Within seconds she was gently snoring
Celestia yelped and caught Megan's drooping body. She floated a pillow over and placed it below Megan's head. “Luna, what the hay?”
Luna stood over Megan, face impassive. “Celestia, she's exhausted, mentally and physically. Even an hour's nap will help her while we retrieve Danielle from Ponyville.” She held up a hoof. “I know we could teleport there ourselves, but Megan really does need the rest, and I suspect Danielle would appreciate her mother getting it.”
Celestia stared at Luna for a moment before sharply nodding. She walked over to the desk, and a quill and parchment floated up to her. She scribbled a note on the parchment, rolled it up and teleported it away. “She should receive that momentarily, and be back in Canterlot soon.”
The door opened and Featherful stumbled in, panting and snorting. She leaned against the doorjamb, body trembling. “Princess... Celestia...” She sucked in a breath and, in one gasp, blurted out, “I told Luna and she disappeared on me and flew out and I tried to catch up to her but she was too fast and there were so many to get through and I got stopped a dozen times along the way and is there anything else I can do for you?”
Ten seconds later, Fancy Pants, Spanish Steel and Shining Armor showed up behind Featherful, slightly winded but nonetheless all right. Fancy Pants spotted the still-sleeping Megan and his monocle flew about. “I say, for once we really did have to see for ourselves!” He looked up to Celestia. “Princess, that is... the Mag'ne?”
Spanish Steel's wings jutted out in surprise. “Like the Prophecies of the Moochik!”
Celestia blinked. “Well, that saves me a step.” She walked around her desk and over to the three. “Come on in, gentlestallions. We have a long night ahead of us.”

Doctor Whooves floated twenty feet in the air. Ditzy was to one side, their friend Raindrops on the other, holding his forelegs and maintaining his position in front of the Equestrian side of the Rainbow Bridge. Trixie, who had canceled her tour of Flutter Valley when news had reached her of the crisis, and Amethyst Sparkler, were below him, both using their telekinesis on him for added safety. He clutched his sonic screwdriver between his teeth, waving it about as he scanned the hole in the sky.
Below him, Danielle stood and craned her head back, looking up at him. She wobbled a bit, but managed to remain vertical. Mayor Mare stood by her, along with numerous other ponies, including the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and a few humans. She cupped her hands to her mouth. “Got anything?”
The Doctor switched off his screwdriver and motioned to Ditzy and Raindrops to lower him. They fluttered down and gently released him a foot off the ground, letting him land with a mild thud. He turned and trotted over to Danielle. “All right, good news and bad news time.” He held his screwdriver up and looked at the scanner end. “The Rainbow Bridge itself is intact. Time still flows the same in Equestria as it does on Earth.” He braced himself. “The bad news it, that barrier is immensely powerful. It's like a sky trench!”
Murmurs of equal parts relief and concern swept through those standing about, but it quickly died down as they all refocused on the Doctor and Danielle.
Danielle breathed out. She dropped to her knees and hugged the Doctor. “Thanks, Doctor.”
The Doctor's cheeks colored, but he leaned into the hug. “I just wish I had better news, Danielle. I'm sorry about that.”
Danielle shook her head. “It's something, at least. Better than what we had before.”
Trixie leaned her head to the side. She reached out and gently patted Danielle on the forearm. Danielle glanced at Trixie. She wound her arm around, gripped Trixie's forearm, and half-smiled at her. “Thanks. This hasn't been the best day for... anyone, probably.”
Trixie snorted and rolled her eyes. “Gee, I wonder why.” Her expression turned serious as she looked to the Doctor. “Okay, any ideas how to get to Earth? Can we use that time machine in your backyard to, I don't know, get there somehow?”
The Doctor broke from Danielle's embrace and turned to Trixie. He locked eyes with her for a second before looking to the night sky and the moon overhead. “Get to Danielle's Earth, well, it's possible.” He paced back and forth. “I mean if I can get another power source then definitely, definitely! Inter-dimensional travel's tricky, though. If you don't have a precise quantum signature you could end up in a reality where we're all shrimp, or even worse, all talking pears!” He stopped and shuddered. “I can't believe I even said that.”
Danielle held up a hand. “Trixie, it's a good idea, but I'm not sure it's the right time.” She slowly stood up. “Even if we get there–and that's a big if–I'm not sure what I'd be able to even do over there.” She abruptly covered her hand with a mouth as she yawned. After, she held up her arm and looked at her wristwatch. “Good lord, how'd it get so late?”
Ditzy trotted over to Danielle and flew up to eye level. “Danielle, you've been running back and forth for hours with almost no rest.” She grabbed Danielle by the shoulders, spun her around and started pushing her towards Ponyville. “You need some sleep, even if it's for a few hours. You're in no condition to do anything at the moment.”
Danielle stumbled a bit from Ditzy's prodding. “Hey, hey, slow down!” She turned around and held her hands up in front of Ditzy. “I know, I know, but I'm not sure how I'm gonna be able to sleep at a time like this.” She looked up to the hole in space and kicked at the grass. “Mom's over there. Michelle, Dad, Uncle Danny, Aunt Molly, and here I am in Equestria. And I can't do a damned thing to help.”
Trixie, Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Dinky all walked over to Danielle and Ditzy. Sweetie Belle wrapped a foreleg around Danielle's leg. “If you want, I could sing you a lullaby, Danielle.”
Apple Bloom smirked. “I think that'd keep her awake, but I could go to Zecora's and get you some sort of herbal sleeping thing!”
Scootaloo stuck her tongue out and gagged. “Ugh, that would taste horrible! No, what Danielle needs is a nice cloud-pillow, and I'm just the pegasus to make that!”
Dinky cantered back and forth. “No, no! Danielle needs something to put her at ease!” Her horn lit up and Trixie's hat floated off her head and over to Dinky. It plopped onto the filly's head, swallowing it up. “I, the Great and Powerful Dinky shall tell her a majestic tale of daring and adventure! As soon as I can see, again.”
Trixie stared at Dinky. Her horn flared and the hat teleported back onto her head. She trotted to Danielle's side and started shooing the Crusaders away. “What Danielle needs is some peace and quiet, girls.” She craned her head around and looked up at Danielle. “You're not staying at Golden Oaks tonight by yourself. I've got room at the theater for you and I am not taking no for an answer.”
Danielle held up a hand, but dropped her arm and slowly nodded. “Okay, Trixie, you win.” She leaned forward and patted the side of Trixie's head. “Thanks.” She looked to the Crusaders. “And you four! Thanks for wanting to help.”
A puff of smoke erupted in front of Danielle. She recoiled, but stopped as it cleared, revealing a scroll. She grabbed it and unfurled it, skimming over it. She gasped and tossed it into the air. “Oh, oh oh! Mom's here!”
Sweetie Belle's head darted back and forth. “Where, where?”
Danielle looked around, finally spotting Canterlot in the distance. “There, in Canterlot!” she said, pointing up at the city. She raced over to the quartet of guards that had brought her to Ponyville. “How soon can you get hooked up to your chariot and get me there?”
The pegasus straightened up and saluted. “Give us five minutes, Miss Richards, and you'll be on your way back.”
Danielle smiled at him. “Thanks!”
Trixie and the Doctor galloped over. “We're coming with you,” Trixie said. “And we're still not taking 'no' for an answer. At the very least you need someone to keep you awake on the ride there!”
The Doctor nodded. “And you might need an expert on inter-dimensional travel. In case you decide to make the try, that is.”
Danielle barked a laugh. “Then welcome aboard.” She looked up and over at Ditzy. “Ditzy, you're in charge until we get back!”
Mayor Mare, silent for the most part until now, scoffed. “As if!” She placed a hoof on her chest. “I am still the mayor of Ponyville!”
Trixie smirked. “Right, right. Ditzy, you're in charge until we get back!”
Ditzy reared back on her hind legs and saluted. “You can count on me, Trixie!”

Nearly an hour later, Danielle, Trixie and the Doctor were airborne and rapidly approaching Canterlot. The city built into Mount Eohippus glittered, even in the low moonlight. She bit her lip as a yawn threatened to escape, but her body shuddered. She spared a glance at her wristwatch. Nearly 1AM. I need caffeine, or to sleep for eighteen hours. Whichever comes first.
The sky chariot slowed down as it approached one of the tallest towers of Canterlot Castle. The pegasi touched down on a balcony jutting out and trotted to a halt. Trixie's horn glowed and the rear door swung open, allowing them to disembark.
Danielle ran off the chariot and through the balcony doors to the inner room. She skidded to a halt as she quickly spotted Celestia, Luna and a familiar-seeming alicorn. Danielle leaned back as she locked eyes with her. She suddenly covered her mouth and gasped as recognition set in. “M-Mom!”
Megan swallowed and tentatively stepped towards Danielle. She looked to Danielle's left and rubbed her wings in nervousness. “Yeah, Danielle, it's me. I know this might seem a bit–”
Danielle rushed forward and hugged Megan's neck. Tears streamed from her bloodshot eyes and down her cheeks. She stood there, rocking back and forth.
Megan leaned into the hug and wrapped her wings around Danielle. She too cried, tears of relief and exhaustion flowing freely.
Trixie and the Doctor walked into the room. Trixie's right eye arched at the sight of Danielle and Megan. “Who is...” She suddenly sucked in a breath. “Oh, Herd! Is that Megan?” She took her hat off and dropped low to the ground, her forehead almost touching the floor.
The Doctor simply stared in open-mouthed shock, finally uttering a single word. “What?”
Danielle finally broke the embrace. She wiped her nose with her shirtsleeve and sniffed. “W-what happened?”
Megan swallowed and took in several breaths. “It's complicated, but here goes.”

The Valley of the Chieftains
Cadance floated before Spykoran the Old, King of the Dragon Clans. “We're not entirely sure of the threat facing Earth, but we do know we've been cut off and that some... thing appeared over there and there's every indication of hostile intent.” She bowed her head low. “We request the aid of the Dragon Clans, your majesty.”
Spykoran snorted, jet-black plumes of smoke shooting from his nostrils. He looked out to the clan heads all around, all sitting on their hoards and listening to Cadance's message. “I will go myself. Whatever is threatening Earth – threatening Megan – will not be threatening her much longer.”
Jormun the Red's head shot up. “Spykoran, you cannot go to Equestria to help. It is not a good time for that.”
Spykoran roared. “And what in the name of Draco would you have me do, hatchling? An allied nation calls for help! A friend is in danger! What would you expect me to do?”
Jormun rose from his hoard and stalked forward, head and neck low to the ground even as he looked up to Spykoran. “I would 'expect' you to realize what time of the year it is, or are so enfeebled as to forget of the Trials of the Younger?”
Spykoran gasped and recoiled slightly. “No... it is that time again already?”
Cadance spun around to face Jormun. “'Trials of the Younger'? Oh, right! I remember attending those twenty years ago!”
Jormun bared his fangs to her in his best smile. “I remember you there, Cadance. You and Celestia honored us with your presence.” He drew himself up to his full height. “Unless it is physically impossible, the King of the Clans attends the Trials. I am... sorry, Spykoran.”
A low growl came from Spykoran. He clenched his hands tight enough for his claws to pierce the scales on his palms and draw blood. “And you are right! But still, Equestria and Earth need help!”
Mei Long slithered forward and twirled her body around into a corkscrew. “Yes, they need help, but probably not the help you could provide, Spykoran. I have a feeling this calls for knowledge, not brute force. This may not be a problem you can solve by hitting it.” She soared to Cadance's side. “I will fly with you, Cadance, and help as I can.”
Cadance swallowed and bowed her head. “Thank you, Mei Long. How soon can you be ready?”
Mei Long flew back to her hoard. She dove her head into the pile and gulped down several mouthfuls of gold, jewels and other precious materials. She suddenly thrust her head into the air and let out a long gout of flame. “Ah, much better!” She stretched out and flew to the east, comparatively-small wings beating rapidly.
Cadance reared back and kicked the air. “Wait for me!” She flew a few feet, but stopped, turned and bowed to Spykoran. “Thank you, your majesty!” And with that she shot after Mei Long. Within moments both had dwindled into small dots in the sky. A minute after, they disappeared below the horizon.

Most roads, streets, and highways in Kentucky that led to the Rainbow Bridge had become clogged with people streaming away from it and the barrier that enveloped it, their cars and other vehicles loaded down with whatever they could take before leaving. They moved away as fast as possible, several streets becoming one-way to increase traffic flow.
One street, however, had two vehicles heading towards the barrier. They were a white 1984 Martini racing Porsche 935/76 with blue and red racing stripes, and a bright-red Cybertronian sports car with flame decals on the hood and trailing along the doors. They were Jazz, member of the Autobot Council, and Hot Rod, ambassador from Cybertron to Earth. Hot Rod's engine revved and he sped up. “Two hours, Jazz. If we had left two hours earlier we could've helped out against that attack.”
Jazz's high-beams brightened. “Hey, we got out as quickly as we could, and we're almost to the command post. They kept the lid on this sideways version of Equestria by themselves. Humans aren't as helpless as they used to be.”
Hot Rod growled. “I know, I know! Primus knows how glad I am, but it still grinds my gears. They're our friends, our closest allies.”
The pair passed through several checkpoints, finally arriving at the command post. As they pulled up, hard-light holograms of humanoids coalesced into existence in their driver's seats. Jazz's avatar was somewhat lanky, with dark-skin, short black hair and a bright smile. He wore an impeccably-tailored three-piece suit that fit him perfectly. Hot Rod's avatar was rather more muscular, pale-skinned, with sunglasses, casual clothes and his brown hair tied into a ponytail.
Outside the command post stood Marissa and Bat. They straightened up as Jazz and Hot Rod pulled up to the curb and their avatars disembarked. Hot Rod strode up to Marissa and hugged her,  lifting her off the ground. “Hey, Marissa!”
Marissa squirmed, kicked and bared her teeth. “Hot Rod, what the hell is the matter with you? Put me down!”
Hot Rod swallowed and dropped Marissa back to her feet. He scratched the back of his head and swallowed. “Sorry, I forgot myself a bit. Just good to see an old friend, you know?”
Marissa punched him in the shoulder. “I know, but I'm on duty, and so are you.” She turned to Bat and tugged down on the front of her uniform. “My apologies, General.”
Bat held up a hand. “Forgiven, Commodore.” He turned to Jazz. “So...”
Jazz straightened to attention and saluted Bat. “General, Councilor Jazz of Cybertron reporting as per the Geneva Accords.”
Bat snapped to attention and returned the salute. “Thank you, Councilor.” He turned his head and looked down the street in the direction the two Autobots came from. “Who else is coming?”
Jazz followed his gaze, then looked to the command post. “You got one of those big situation monitors inside, right?”
Inside, the four stood in front of the main wall-mounted screen. Jazz's eyes turned a bright green and twin beams of light shot from them, hitting a sensor right below the screen. “We figured it'd be one bad traffic jam if every Autobot in the area showed up around the police station, so they're deploying around the barrier.” On the screen, small Autobot symbols appeared at various points around the barrier.
Bat let out a sigh of relief. “Thank god.” He squinted as he read names floating besides the symbols. “Are there any more coming?”
Hot Rod spoke up. “This is what we could get out right away. We've got reserves organizing in Autobot City, but the rest are scattered all over the globe and even the Sol System.” He rocked back and forth on his heels. “And... most all the big guns like Omega Supreme or the combiners are on Cybertron itself or deep space. Optimus is bringing in a small army on Iacon-One, but it's still a ways away.” He cleared his throat and looked to the floor. “Sorry, General.”
Bat nodded and patted Hot Rod on the shoulder. “You can't fight all our battles for us, Hot Rod.”
Marissa rubbed her chin. “Well, we should be able to keep any attacks contained, especially with the international forces on their way, but what about the barrier itself? It's only a matter of time before that other Celestia begins expanding it again. What then?”
Jazz's eyes stopped glowing. He turned to the others. “I know Wheeljack and Perceptor are doing their extreme science to try and figure something out, but you're right.” He pointed at the barrier and the Rainbow Bridge. “We've got to get back to Equestria. They're probably the best ones to knock that thing down.”
Bat sighed. “So, we have to get to Equestria to get help to get the barrier down, but right now the only way to Equestria is... behind the barrier. So to get the barrier down, we have to go through the barrier to get to Equestria to get what we need to get the damned barrier down.” He rapped his knuckles against the screen in frustration. “Dammit!”
Marissa glanced at the screen. “We might not be so bad off, General. Twilight Sparkle and her fellow Elements of Harmony are in Washington DC, last I heard. She and Rainbow Dash are the ones who created the new Rainbow Bridge. If there's anyone who can figure out a way to get to Equestria, it's her.”
“We can only hope so,” Bat responded. “We're going down fighting, but if that barrier's not stopped, this Queen Celestia might succeed where Megatron, Cobra Commander, Cobra-La, Metlar and others failed.”
Jazz shook his head. “General, if the worst happens and Earth falls, you won't be alone. No matter what, Cybertron will stand with you, as you did for us.”