Spike asked, "But what are we going to do? I mean, if she has been caught in the wormhole, then how are we supposed to find her and bring her back?...Can we even do that?"
In spite of the grim and slim chances of Luna's survival, Celestia was already forming a plan. "As I said, we must take this possibility into consideration. We'll bring our newfound knowledge with us to our next destination."
Next destination? Twilight shared quizzical looks with Spike. "What? Where are we going?"
"The Canterlot Observatory. If there is one other location where we might research the stars in-depth, it's there. We can compare our newfound knowledge to what is known about wormholes in the Observatory. Now let's go, my friends."
"Yes, your Highness."
The trio quickly gathered up their facts and whatever books they could carry with them and took off into the night.
Ty and Nebula waited in silence a few feet away from the curtained arena as the LGMs put the finishing touches on Luna's newly secured wing.
The process, thankfully, took no extensive amount of time and it didn't leave a staggering amount of pain behind for her. She stood up from her position on the bed the LGMs had Luna lie on and gently descend off, inspecting her wing afterwards. The fractured wing was carefully remedied into a figure eight wrap. The bandage wrap was wound around Luna's appendage, carefully holding her radius, ulna and humerus in place. One of the LGMs pulled aside the curtain to reveal Luna, looking better with a grateful smile on her face.
Ty couldn't help but grow a smile back. "I'm guessing you're feeling better?"
"Very much, with the support and aid from your little green men." She turned around to express her gratitude, to which the LGMs happily replied back, "You're welllllcome."
As she turned back to face the Rangers, Nebula fiddled with his mustache in thought. "Right then. Now that you're feelin' better, we need to take matters into our own hands."
"Whatever do you mean?"
"Well, we need to keep you safe from Zurg. I don't want to send you on your way into the galaxy as long as that buckethead is out there tryin' to look for you. Since he's seen ya defend yourself against his attacks, there's no doubt he'll be tryin' to capture you for his own benefits. Maybe even try to hunt you down for revenge."
Luna's ears wilted in discouragement. Oh…yes. There was that harsh truth she was going to have to deal with. "Very well then. Then how must we go about this?"
"Well-" A series of beeps would interrupt the conversation, prompting Nebula to excuse himself and open up his communicator. "Yeah?"
Buzz's voice echoed as he said, "Commander, my team's all here. We're ready to hear about the assignment, sir."
Nebula's blank brain lit up. "Oh, right, right. The mission. I'm on my way, Lightyear. Nebula out." He closed the communicator hatch before apologizing, "I'm sorry, ma'am, but I gotta cut this short. I need to go assign Lightyear and his team on a mission they're needed for."
Luna nodded solemnly. "I understand, Commander. Do what you must."
Nebula had to admit; this pony's royal title wasn't just for show. Her gracious sense of elegance was genuine. To that end, Nebula was thankful for her patience. He did feel bad that he couldn't help her now, but at least she seemed willing to wait. To add on, she did seem to enjoy Ty's company and vice versa, so she could hang around the man until they could sort the whole thing out.
"Thank you, I'll try. In the meantime…Parsec."
Ty stood to attention. "Sir."
"I want you to look after Princess Luna until the meeting's done. I'll call you when you can come into the Briefing Room. Be sure to bring her al—"
Ty and Nebula blinked in alarm. What in the galaxy was that?
The answer? Luna, smiling awkwardly, held a hoof to her belly. "I am terribly sorry. I have not eaten for some time now."
Nebula questioned, "Uhhhh...alright then. We'll just have to take care of that. By the way, what do you like to eat? You don't just like to eat sugar cubes, do ya?"
Luna scoffed in playful indignation. "Ha, certainly not. I like to eat desserts, apples and grilled cheese sandwiches, thank you. They are GLORIOUS foods to eat." And she's proud to be a proud time consumer for them too, she'll have you know!
Nebula and Ty were a little surprised to see Luna get testy over her food choices. But they both supposed, upon trading curious glances with each other, that since she was a talking pony, that of course she would have her own tastes in cuisine. Even if it was something neither of them had been expecting, with the latter food choice.
"Huh. I see. Well then, Parsec, you can take her to the cafeteria to get her whatever's available. And if you haven't eaten anything, get yourself something to eat too, son."
"Yes, sir." Ty saluted and motioned for Luna to follow behind him. Luna bid a goodbye to the LGMs, with the little guys waving after her before returning back to their own work. Nebula watched everyone go before taking off to the Briefing Room.
Ty and Luna reached the cafeteria to find that there were only a few Rangers out enjoying their food at their chosen tables.
Ty was a little thankful for that; he didn't want to have anybody asking about Luna, even though it would probably happen anyway, at least in his cynic view. It wasn't that he wanted to avoid interacting with his comrades, but he wasn't feeling particularly chatty at the moment.
He wasn't the only one. Luna herself wanted to have privacy and the opportunity to eat in peace and enjoy her surroundings, especially in this room.
The room's size was expansive, shiny and clean, with an equally large window overlooking the borderless sea of stars. Tables and chairs were set up in particular areas of the room to allow space to roam and eat, while a buffet table stood by ready to be of service to the hungry customers, But what truly captured Luna's eye was the enormous sphere softly glowing with its vibrant appearance. Shining in blue sea, rolling in green earth, Capital Planet's light shone to all of the guardians each and every day on the space station.
Ty caught glimpse of Luna's curious gaze and grinned a little. He suggested, "If you'd like, we can grab a table near the window so you can see the planet."
"If it is permitted, that would be lovely."
"I'm sure it's fine. There's no rule that says we can't sit by the window. Anyway, I don't know what will be left over from the lunch hour, but we'll find something for you to eat."
Luna assured, "That's alright. I'm grateful for whatever food we can find. Thank you."
"No problem. Now c'mon, let's go see what they have." Luna followed behind Ty as he grabbed two trays in the waiting line. "Whenever you see something you'd like, tell me and I'll put it on your tray, ok?"
"Oh, do not fret. I will be happy to take my own tray, Ty Parsec."
Ty raised a brow. "How's that-"
Luna's horn gently glowed a light blue and much to Ty's mild surprise, the tray was taken out of his hands and now levitating and glowing in front of Luna. "Like this. Now shall we feast?"
About a few snarky remarks and careful food choices later, Ty and Luna managed to claim the table by the window with food on trays. Luna scored a crispy grilled mozzarella cheese sandwich with a Red Delicious apple on the side, and a glass of water as a beverage. Ty's meal consisted of a fresh tuna sandwich and side salad, and a glass of water for his beverage as well. The table they chose was in a corner of the room, private and out of the way from the other Rangers. Luckily, either through sheer good luck or dumb luck, the other officers didn't seem to see Ty and Luna pass by. Still, it was a matter of time before they took notice of the royal and magically gifted equine sitting with one of the veteran officers of Star Command. Both Ranger and pony were conscious of this possibility, and thus, put on a reserved but approachable front, should anyone grow curious about either party.
They began eating their food. At first, neither Ty nor Luna engaged in conversation. Both of them wanted to get in a few bites first. Luna would be the first to devour her food. Sitting on her haunches in her chair, she lifting her sandwich off her tray with her magic, brought it to her mouth and bit into the sandwich. One bite after another, and she would soon catch Ty looking at her with a funny and pointed brow. She asked innocently, "What?"
Ty held up his arms in defense. "Nothing. Just uh...just enjoy your food, ok?"
Luna had a feeling that Ty had never seen a pony eat her food like the way she was currently doing, but she let it go with a shrug and a casual, "I will." After taking another bite from her levitating sandwich, she placed it down and Luna turned to look out the window from her seat to catch a view of the planet. "So, that is Capital Planet your space station orbits around, I assume?"
Glad to clear up a potentially embarrassing moment, Ty took a swig of his water first before replying, "Yep. Like I told you when we first met, it's where the Galactic Alliance is stationed, and where a lot of the Rangers live if they have homes there. A lot of them like to take a break from being in space for so long."
"I see. I wish we could have time to visit it if we did not have more important tasks to attend to. It certainly looks beautiful. Do you have a residence there?"
"Yeah, although I don't go there a lot. Usually I need to be here to report for duty. When you're a Ranger, you tend to be married to the job."
"I understand. The guards in Equestria are also dedicated to their careers and often must stay in Canterlot to perform well. They have been for as long as my sister and I have ruled over our fair country."
"Huh. Interesting. I'm curious, how long have you and your sister been in rule?"
Luna took a bite of her apple. "Oh, for many years now. We have ruled for over one thousand years to be exact." It occurred to her that she failed to tell her friend about an alicorn's longevity and agelessness. The price it brought her was another slacked jaw.
"...A THOUSAND years...you're kidding!"
Luna shrugged again, as if this is nothing new to her. "No."
Ty felt uncertain if Luna appreciated any comments, positive and negative, on her youthful appearance, so he kept that part to himself while he went on. "...Huh. So how come you didn't tell me this before?" His slightly annoyed and exaggerated pout prompted Luna to hold a hoof to her mouth to hold in her laughter.
Luna tamed her temptations to laugh and explained, "I simply did not see the need to bring it up. Nothing more. I wanted to give you the information that was needed at the time we were learning about each other's worlds. And of course, we still are learning about our worlds and each other, correct?" She brought the glass of water to her mouth, ignoring Ty's irritated groan. She'd take that as a yes. After another sip of her drink, she asked, "Now I would like to ask you a question about your services."
Ty lightened up considerably, his curiosity peaked. "Oh? What would you like to know?"
"About your time in Star Command. How long have you been serving?"
"I've been with with the Space Rangers Corps for over twenty years, give or take." He shrugged himself. "There's honestly not that much to tell. I've been enjoying my job, although it doesn't always come with the perks a Rookie would expect right off the bat." Not to mention the risks that came with the job, as he himself came to learn over time, and as he unwillingly did in recent events...
"I suppose you are referring to the less exciting aspects of your work?"
"Yeah. Things like paperwork and patrol sweeps and all that jazz. It's not exactly my idea of a good time, but it is necessary for what we do here."
"I can relate. I must spend my time attending to meetings and patrolling the stars, the grounds, and dreams. But I do enjoy what I do. I would rather have my subjects safe than in danger. "
"Heh. Well, that makes two of us and I'm glad that we-hey, wait a minute, wait a minute. Whoa, back up here!" His mind backpedaled. What did she say?!
"Is something the matter?"
"No! No, I mean, I thought I heard you say you patrol dreams...uh...what exactly do you mean by that?"
Luna, a little confused by Ty's shifty tone, took a swig of water before answering. "Well, I am a dream walker. My duty is to protect everypony's dreams from nightmares, and to help them face whatever fears or obstacles that cause their nightmares. I can enter dreams and weave dreams if I must." And she could thank Twilight and her friends for breaking her free from her own nightmare... "Why do you ask?"
"..." Ty looked down at his half eaten food, suddenly losing his appetite. He pushed the tray aside to cross his arms on the table and breathe in his uneasiness. If Luna claimed she could walk through dreams, then would that mean when she first spoke to him back on 42, that when she woke him up from his nightmare...she knew about his green past? The past that kept on haunting his mind, body and spirit?
He looked at the pony before him, and there he could see the worry in her eyes. A part of him almost felt...violated of his privacy. But his shock overwhelmed him more than his anger. And how could he be angry with her when he just met her? He didn't know her as well as he knew Buzz in the time they served together. And she obviously never met someone like him before, if the fact that humans were practically nonexistent in Equestria was anything to go by.
His throat dried up. He grabbed his water and finished it off to regain his voice again. Taking a deep breath to keep his emotions at bay, he intensely but softly asked, "Luna... did...did you see what I was dreaming about when I was asleep on 42 and you woke me up?"
The lack of her royal title and his desperation to know the truth caused Luna to crease her brow. She quickly realized what he was referring to and realized she may have tripped on a thin and delicate wire. The nightmare he was trapped in after she woke up from her own slumber. The pain she remembered seeing was a vivid sight she would never forget. His attempts to run away, the spooky and mechanical forest that made the Everfree Forest pale in comparison, the horrifying monster chasing after Ty, the bats... in her time as Princess of the Night, she never bore witness to someone like Ty, who bore a heavy weight on himself, who tried to put the past of whatever was following him out of his life.
Something terrible happened to him, something that would forever scar him for years to come.
Something that forced him to inflict pain and suffering onto others.
Although Luna was unaware of the exact context behind such a horrifying dream, she understood the need to bury dark secrets and guilt. Perhaps she could convince her friend that.
She shoved her own tray with her hoof, turned in her seat to face Ty head on, and inhaled deeply. With all her grace, with all her patience, with every element of harmony she had in her body, she said, "Yes and no. Yes, I did bear witness to your dream, but no, I do not know what it was you were dreaming about. I did not inquire you about your dream because at that moment, I did not truly know anything about you and I could not bring it upon myself to ask. And I shall continue to refrain from asking any questions. I am the Princess of the Night, and I do wish to help out all of my subjects...and my friends.
I am aware you carry a great burden on your shoulders. And I do want to aid you. But you do not have to tell me what it is. I understand the need for privacy. I only glimpsed into your dream to wake you. At that moment, when I did look, I was too concerned helping you to even notice your fears. I simply did not want to see you in pain. You have helped me in my time of need, and I wanted to repay your kindness.
But I...I am sorry if I have frightened you, Ty Parsec. Can you forgive me?"
For some time, the two engaged in a staring contest. Ty stared into Luna's eyes, absorbing her apology and explanation for why she did what she did. Luna stared into Ty's eyes, awaiting his reaction. The contest seemed to go on forever. Until one of them broke it away.
Ty averted his eyes. Luna, although disappointed and sad, averted and closed her eyes as well, believing that Ty would not accept her apology.
But in fact, it was the opposite.
Ty thought over her apology, realizing that it was echoing what Buzz said to him earlier that day. She was willing to help him, but only if he was wanting her to. From the way she reasoned about her actions, it almost sounded like she had some experience in helping others deal with trauma. The way she carried her grave state of mind? Given she was well older than he, that of course she would understand the need for privacy and respect. She did also seem genuinely sorry about what she did, but if it weren't for her...well, that nightmare probably would have bothered him for the remainder of the day. And there was one other thing that stood out in his mind.
She called him a friend.
That was what truly struck a chord with Ty. He didn't know why that was, given that he did have friends, but there was some sort of strange vibe he picked up from Luna when she called him that. Almost like...a bond of some sorts. A bond that was in its infancy yearning to grow. A bond that felt strong, as strong as the bonds he shared with Buzz and others, but this one...it was almost like it was born from empathy, from beyond the cosmos that he couldn't describe. Whether it was out of pure imagination or some other peculiar force, he had to act on his Ranger instincts and see where it would take him.
Luna considered talking to Ty again when she felt his hand touch her shoulder. She looked up to see him with a small and sad smile. "How can I not forgive you? Sure, I may...have some reservations about what you did, but you did it to help me, not invade my thoughts or anything. And I'm glad for that."
"So you are not angry?"
Ty chuckled a little as he took his hand away. "Well, I am a little mad. But I'll get over it. You were honest with me, and I'm grateful for that. So thanks for that. And thanks for...y'know, helping me when I needed it." His smile widened a little, but the gratitude was there.
"..." Luna caught Ty's smile, smiling back in relief. "I am glad I could help. You are welcome, Ty Parsec."
There goes the usage of his full name again. "That reminds me...you don't have to call me by my full name. You can just call me Ty. It's not that I hate being called by my full name, but I just generally go by Ty, except when I'm working and have to go by my rank or title."
Luna regarded his request momentarily before smiling again. "Very well then. In that case, you may just refer me as Luna. I prefer to be called by my name, anyway."
"Heh. Sounds good to me."
The two of them enjoyed the rest of their meal time before Ty's communicator went off again. After being informed by Commander Nebula that it was time for them to go, Ty and Luna cleaned up their table and went off together to solve the problem of how to return Luna home. But not before confronting the Rangers they tried to avoid earlier.
One question after another, Ty and Luna managed to answer the questions that the Rangers, who were merely cadets, had in mind.
"Is she your pet?"
"Whoa, you're Ranger Ty Parsec!"
"What's it like working with Buzz Lightyear?"
"How can you talk?"
Once they succeeded in answering as many questions as they could without scaring them off, Ty and Luna finally received a reprieve from their mountain of questions by excusing themselves off for a meeting with Nebula. Although Luna seemed more than happy to oblige, but Ty didn't.
Luna simply smiled and rolled her eyes as she took Ty's grouchy grumblings about first year Rangers in stride.
"Now that we're inside the Observatory, shall we resume our quest for the answers? Twilight, Spike, look to the books. I will look towards the heavens."