• Published 19th Jun 2013
  • 3,849 Views, 86 Comments

Pony Express - ocalhoun

The Planet Express delivery company takes a delivery to a planet called 'Equestria'. This won't end well.

  • ...

Chapter 2

Stars swam around in Rainbow's head as she picked herself up from against the bulkhead; she must have fallen against it when the ship blasted off. This wasn't going to be an easy crash to get over – and Rainbow knew her crashes. Her head felt like it was splitting in two. Woozy, she staggered to her feet. Was anypony else hurt? The first pony she saw was Twilight Sparkle. Seeing the dazed look on the alicorn's face worried Rainbow for a moment... until she saw the stars reflected in those purple eyes.

Quickly, she turned to look through the windows herself. Too quickly. She winced as the pain in her head redoubled. She could still see though, and what a view! Stars and faint, colorful clouds whizzed by, uncountable and beautiful beyond words. It was mesmerizing. She could just stare at that for–

“You okay there, sugarcube?” Applejack interrupted her daze. “Ya sure looked like ya took an awful knock to the head back there.”

“Ugh.” Rainbow winced and rubbed the bump on her head. “I'll... be fine.”

* * *

“Okay, ponies, this is your captain speaking. We're coming in for our final approach to a big blue round thingy, and the little glowy thingy in front of me says it's called 'Earth'. Weather conditions are currently...” Pinkie leaned forward to look out through the window. “Looking pretty nice. We know you have a choice of space lines, and on behalf of all of us at Pinkie Pie Spaceways, I want to thank you for making the only choice you had.”

“What was that all about?” Rainbow hovered in the air behind Pinkie. Everypony could see the planet up ahead.

“Just letting everypony know we're almost there.” Pinkie smiled back. “It's traditional.”

Rainbow shook her head... and immediately regretted it. It still ached badly. “Well, we could have gotten here faster if we hadn't stopped at McPluto for the fourteenth time.”

“Well, we had to!” Pinkie rolled her eyes. “If we had only stopped thirteen times, that would have been really unlucky. Duh!”

Rainbow just shrugged it off and flitted over to the front window to see what was going on. She should have known better than to argue with Pinkie Pie, after all. The view outside, though, was almost as bizarre as a discussion with Pinkie. Looking outside didn't help to bring any sense of normalcy to the situation at all. Dozens of other ships whizzed by in every direction, and the nearby moon was actually eerie in its similarity to her own familiar one.

As the ship zipped through a layer of clouds, an unbelievable cityscape came into view. It was beyond anything Rainbow could ever have imagined. Lines of tiny little ships zoomed around, intertwining with the bluish tubes that wove all around and through the city's huge skyscrapers. As the ship continued to plummet, the buildings rose up around them on all sides. This place was enormous, far beyond the size of even the largest pony cities. How were they going to find Scootaloo in the middle of all this mess?

“We're approaching our target,” Twilight called out from her side of the bridge, where she had been watching a little glowing box intently.

As Rainbow looked back out through the window, she saw that they were slowing down. The ship came to a halt just above a relatively small red brick building next to a river.

“The tracker says the royal regalia is somewhere inside this building.” Twilight stopped staring at the box for a moment and turned towards Rainbow and the rest of her friends. “Is everypony ready?”

Applejack jumped up to the window, staring down at the building. “Well, we didn't come here just to look at the scenery.”

“A-J's right.” Rainbow could hardly wait. “But how do we get in there?”

“Maybe this button!” Before anypony could stop her, Pinkie smashed her hoof down on a big red crystal button on the console in front of her. Everypony winced as a whining, humming sound filled the ship, quickly growing in intensity.

* * *

Zoidberg sat across from his dear old friend, Hermes, at the Planet Express conference table. The Jamaican accountant was laying into him about office supply usage, but Zoidberg knew he was really just engaging in friendly banter.

“And furthermore, there will be absolutely no more eating of my industrial white-out refills!”

Zoidberg hastily wiped the last bit of delicious white liquid from his mouth tentacles. “What white-out? What gave you that idea?”

“Don't you play games with me, you overgrown crawdad. I've been watchin' the surveillance tapes, an'–”

Hermes' rant was cut off by a whining, humming sound that suddenly filled the entire room. Before either of them could react, a blinding light like sunlight, but much brighter, shot into the room from above. As the glare faded, Zoidberg noticed that most of the launch bay doors were now missing, replaced by a few wisps of quickly dissipating smoke.

Hermes, apparently, also noticed the missing doors. “That's comin' out of your pay!”

Zoidberg collapsed into tears. He didn't even notice the gleaming white and gold spaceship landing in the now-unprotected bay.

* * *

“Is it just me, or is the animation style here different?” Pinkie asked as the six ponies descended the Solar Flair's ramp.

“Pinkie, what in tarnation are you talkin' about now?” Applejack apparently couldn't make any more sense of that question than Rainbow could.

“The only thing that's animated around here is that corpse in the basement!” Rainbow's attention was – regrettably – drawn to the creature now standing in front of the ship. While the other creatures she had seen before were strange, this one was hideous. It was completely covered in wrinkles and moles, its eyes were blank slabs of glass, and as it stooped there in front of her, she could already begin to smell it. Rainbow felt Fluttershy bump into her back as the timid pony hid behind her. The bump didn't do her still-aching head any favors.

Rainbow shouted back at him. Her frustration needed a target. “Who are you, and what have you done with Scootaloo?”

“With whaa?” It craned forward in apparent confusion, hunching over even more.

“Three creatures like yourself came through here not long ago,” Twilight cut in, “they were in a big green starship, and they would have had a little orange and purple pony with them. Surely you'd remember that. Where were you when they came through?”

“Where am I now?”

Rainbow growled in frustration. She hadn't come all this way to play silly games. “Look, just tell us where they took Scootaloo, and nobody has to get hurt!”

“Oh, I wouldn't know anything about that, I'm just the Professor.” the creature replied flippantly. “Maybe you should talk with my record keeper, Hermes. He should be just up the stairs there, giving his weekly Zoidberg lecture.”

“Ugh. Fine.” Rainbow trotted up the steps, her friends following close behind.

What else would meet her at the top of the steps but more strangeness? Sitting at opposite sides of a big, round table were two more of these strange creatures. One was bigger and rounder than any she had seen so far, and the other was the strangest she had seen yet, with crab-like claws for hands and some kind of weird fingers on its mouth... but these two were more conventional in color at least, one a rich brown and the other red: good, normal pony colors.

Before Rainbow could do anything, Fluttershy shot off toward the red one. “Oh my goodness! I've never seen a lobster this big before, and I've never seen one so cute before either!”

“Ha ha!” the creature shouted in triumph. “Now Zoidberg is the popular one!”

Fluttershy gasped. “You can talk?” She spun a quick circle in midair. “I've always wanted to talk to a lobster!”

“Yeah, that's nice.” Rainbow shoved Fluttershy out of the way. “But don't forget why we're here.” She whirled around to face the big brown one. “Where did you things take my friend?”

“Whoa there, ya little alien colorbomb. I'm Hermes Conrad, bureaucrat, grade thirty-six, and just who the hell are you?”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. She didn't have time for this. “I'm Rainbow Dash. Don't forget it!” She pointed to each of her friends in turn. “This is Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, and the one making friends with the lobster over there is Fluttershy.”

“Okay,” Hermes said, “And who the hell is that?” He pointed toward the corner of the room where another of the creatures leaned against the wall. This one had a grey mustache and was holding a mop and bucket.

“I'm Scruffy. The janitor.”

Rainbow rubbed her aching head. This was all getting a little overwhelming.

Hermes turned back towards the table. “Now, I've got twenty-three minutes of Zoidberg lecture time left, so I'd appreciate it if–”

Suddenly, the red one, the one they called Zoidberg, sprung into action. He shot away from the ministrations of Fluttershy, and away from the table, to suddenly appear at Rainbow's side. “Oh no! It looks like you have injured your head organ! You should come back to my office to get that examined right away!” He hurried sideways down a hallway with claws held high, not even waiting for Rainbow to follow. “Sorry, friend, Hermes, no time to talk now. I have work to do!”

With a resigned sigh, Rainbow followed the strange creature. It would be nice, at least, if she could get her head feeling better. Maybe then, she could think straight.

* * *

“So, if you could just step into the cross-species identifiomatic, here, we can get started.” The lobster-like creature gestured towards a large circle next to the wall, as if Rainbow should stand on it.

“The what?” Twilight asked.

“You unlock this door right now, you worthless crawdad!” a voice called out from behind the door. “I'm not done with you yet!”

“That ring there?” Rainbow asked.

Zoidberg nodded, paying no attention to Twilight or the door.

“Well, um... okay.” Rainbow hesitantly stepped into the glowing circle. “But I'm not sure what–” Rainbow suddenly felt as if she was a cloud and a flock of birds just flew right through her. “Whaa... What was that?”

A little display on the wall next to her started clinking rapidly as pictures of lots of different aliens started spinning through the screen like a slot machine. Eventually, the motion slowed down, and three pictures of Celestia stopped along the center of the screen. As soon as the last one stopped moving, bells rang and lights flashed. Out of a little slot below the screen came a piece of paper with one word on it: Pony.

“Is that Princess Celestia in those pictures?” Twilight's wings popped open as it caught her interest. “Hm, she must be the only pony that whoever made this machine knew about...”

“Aha!” Zoidberg called out. “A pony! Just as I suspected. Now...” He looked closely at the picture on the screen, then back at Rainbow, evidently comparing the two. “...to find out what the trouble is.” He jumped up in excitement. “Aha! That's it! No wonder your head hurts. Your horn is missing!”

“Huh?” Rainbow didn't get it. Her horn? She didn't have a horn. What did he mean by that?

“You have no horn! Your horn is gone. Where it is, I can't say, but on your head it's not!” That only confused Rainbow more. “Don't worry though. A good friend of mine named Fry once had the same problem, so I made sure to stock up on horn-growing cream, why not.”

“Wait,” Rainbow said, “I think you're–”

She was too late. The lobster-like creature quickly whipped out a tube of some strange-smelling goo and squirted a bunch of it onto Rainbow's head.

For a moment, nothing happened, but then, suddenly, a strange feeling overcame Rainbow. Her scalp was itching... then stretching... and finally, growing. She rushed over to a mirror mounted on the wall, and there it was, staring her right in the face. Her horn. She was an alicorn now! Rainbow's jaw dropped.

“There, all fixed!” the lobster proclaimed.

Rainbow continued to stare at her reflection. She couldn't believe it.

“Uh, you okay, R-D?” Applejack moved in close behind her.

Okay?” Rainbow finally broke loose from her stupor. “I'm better than okay! I'm, like, twice as cool now!”

Twilight just stood there, glaring at her.

Rainbow giggled. “What's the matter, Twi? Upset that you're not the only alicorn around anymore?

She continued to just stand and glare, prompting Rainbow to completely burst into laughter. “Oh my gosh! Twilight's jealous because I got a horn!” She chuckled again before edging over teasingly. “You know, I think mine's a little bit bigger...”

Rainbow Dash, that's quite enough.” Rarity shot over a reproving look. “She just needs a moment to adjust, I'm sure. There's no call for teasing.” She brought a hoof up to her chin, and her stare grew appraising and speculative, rather than reproachful. “I wonder... does it work?”

“What? Of course it–” Rainbow stopped herself mid-outburst. Did it work? She focused her will, staring cross-eyed at the tip of her horn. Nothing happened. She tried harder, straining and groaning, but not even the smallest spark appeared. As the first few drops of sweat formed on her face, she stopped and gave it a rest. “Whoo... this stuff is harder than it looks... and... and I don't even know how.”

With that, Twilight's glare seemed to soften. “Well, I'll be glad to be your teacher, Rainbow. But for now, we need to focus on–”

With a crash, the door to the room slammed open. The Professor and Hermes creatures were on the other side, prompting Zoidberg to scuttle sideways out through the back door. As the two rushed through in pursuit, Rainbow could see that there was a third creature at the door. Its mane was black, and it was all dressed up in pink pajamas.

A gasp of, “Ohmygosh! Pink!” startled Rainbow, and a pink blur whizzed past her towards the door.

Rainbow knew this wasn't going to end well when the creature let out an answering call of “Ohmygosh! A pink pony!”

“Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie!”

Talking adorable ponies? This is the best thing ever!” The creature danced in place. “Oh, and I'm Amy Wong.”

As the two started babbling and dancing around each other, Rainbow rolled her eyes and covered her ears. This was the! Worst! Possible! Thing!

* * *

“No, you're awesome!”

“No, you're awesome!”

“No, you're the one who's awesome!”

Sadly, Rainbow's hooves couldn't entirely block out the torrent of babble coming from Pinkie and her new friend.

Just when Rainbow thought she couldn't take it for one more moment, the clinic's back door opened. Farnsworth and Hermes came through it, carrying a trussed-up Zoidberg between them.

“Help, my new friends! Untie me!”the lobster cried out.

“I am not your friend,” Rainbow replied.

The lobster's expression fell, and he let out a pathetic little “Aww.”

“But I am!” Fluttershy burst in, uncharacteristically forward. “Let me just–”

“Oh no you don't.” The Farnsworth creature blocked her path. “We put a lot of work into catching this damnable crustacean.”

“An' he's got twenty-three minutes and thirty-eight seconds of lecturing left to do!” Hermes added in.

“Oh,well, if I could just–”

Fluttershy's reply was cut off by a shout from Pinkie, her continuing tirade hitting an even higher crescendo. “You really think you can find some pink pajamas like those for me!?”

“This crawdad's got a lot of explainin' to do!” “And you say you live in a house made of candy!?” “Um... excuse me... if I could–” “Pony friends, if you can help me, I can–” “Really? They're pink too!?” “Make sure he lives, so there's some left for me.” “And the rails on the stairway are made of candy cane!”

Rainbow couldn't take it anymore. She looked over to Twilight pleadingly.

Twilight nodded in return. With a violet flash, everyone in the room was suddenly silenced, and they found themselves floating helplessly in a purple telekinetic aura.

The Farnsworth, though he seemed the oldest and slowest, was the first to overcome the sudden shock. “Eh, whaa? What's going on?”

“I'm holding everyone with my magic until we can settle down and get to the reason we came in the first place,” Twilight explained blithely.

“Oh pish-posh.” Farnsworth crossed his arms as he slowly rotated towards being upside-down. “There's no such thing as magic.”

Hermes, from his position floating alongside, was quick to disagree. “I wouldn't be so sure, Professor. My grandmother – God rest her zombie bones – warned me about this. We should take it very seriously.”

“Your grandmother warned you about colorful magic ponies?” Farnsworth's incredulity was plastered all over his face. “Do you really expect me to believe that this pony can–”

With another flash, Twilight teleported herself right in front of him. She didn't even flicker in her telekinetic hold over everyone – she was a talented alicorn, after all.

The sudden look of fear that crossed Farnsworth's face said it all: they wouldn't be hearing any more protests from him.

“Now,” Twilight continued, her voice cloyingly sweet, “about our missing royal regalia...”

* * *

“If he took it, he probably stashed it here before they left again,” Hermes explained as he approached Bender's locker. He pulled the master key from his pocket. “Lemme just get the master key out.”

“Wait...” Amy piped up from the rear of the group. “You have a key that opens everyone's lockers?”

“I find the best way to store certain items of questionable legality is to hide them in somebody else's locker.” He glanced back and forth shiftily. As soon as he opened Bender's locker, a huge golden collar, a big crown, and a few golden horseshoes came tumbling out. “Aha! And would that be this 'regalia' you ponies been looking for?”

“Yes. Yes it would,” the purple one said, levitating the items in a magical glow. It still gave Hermes the shivers.

“So you can be on your way then, right?” Hope shined on the Professor's wrinkled face.

“Not so fast,” the pony replied. “There's still the little matter of finding out where your people took our friend, Scootaloo.” She gave him a withering glare.

“How am I supposed to remember where I sent them?” He threw his hands up. “I can't even remember my own name most of the time! Have Hermes go dig the flight plan out of his office. I'm going to go enjoy my bath!” With that, he dottered off, slowly leaving everyone else behind.

Well?” The purple pony was staring at Hermes now.

He sighed. After the chaos these things had brought into his life so far, the last thing he wanted was to have them in his meticulously organized office – especially with an inspection coming up next week... but it looked like he wasn't going to have any choice, not if he wanted to avoid being on the wrong side of that Twilight Sparkle's creepy magic again.

* * *

Twilight rolled her eyes. Again. “No, Rainbow, it takes more to make a pony a princess than just getting a horn implanted on your head by some weird alien lobster.”

The little blue pegasus – or alicorn, rather... Twilight supposed she had to concede that, if only by technicality – zipped up in front of her in the hallway, conveniently placing herself where it looked like she was wearing the royal regalia Twilight still levitated in front of her. “Hey, you got to be a princess because you got wings!”

“No, Rainbow Dash. The other way around. I got wings because I became a princess. Besides, can you even do magic? I'm not all that sure your horn is even real.”

What!?” Rainbow jumped in front of Twilight, wings outspread and a scowl on her face. “Of course I can do magic!”

Twilight just gave Rainbow her best 'oh, really?' look before calmly stepping around her and continuing on down the hallway.

Rainbow, of course, kept pace right alongside, but her scowl of shocked indignation had been replaced by a look of intense concentration and effort. She grunted and groaned, and a look of truly monumental strain broke out on her face... but nothing happened, not even the slightest glow or spark. Rainbow finally gave up the effort with a tired pant. “It... that doesn't mean... anything. I can... I can still learn it!”

Twilight gave her a look that she usually reserved for Pinkie and the Cutie Mark Crusaders. “Rainbow.

“Just 'cause I can't do magic doesn't mean I shouldn't be a princess.”

What a mess. Twilight could only hope that Princess Celestia would be able to fix this when they returned. “Can we please just drop it, Rainbow?” She pointed at the Hermes creature, who was opening a door. “Look, we're here. Let's just find out where Scootaloo is, and then we can worry about it, okay?”

Not waiting for Rainbow's reply, Twilight stepped through the now-open door, into Hermes' office. The precious royal regalia clattered to the floor as Twilight lost herself in a utopia of order and neatness she had never expected in this place. On the desk, perfectly aligned with the wall, she could spot a calendar, and inbox and an outbox, exactly three pens, a stack of papers, and finally a stapler – the office supplies perfectly aligned and in perfect alphabetical order. Across from the desk – perfectly across from it – a bookshelf was filled with binders of all different colors: black, blue, brown, orange... Twilight's daze faltered for a moment. Why weren't they in the proper chromatic order? Purple, red, yellow... Her euphoria returned full-force when she realized the colors were in alphabetical order! Of course! And to top it all off, a potted plant perfectly centered on the top shelf, with every branch trimmed to exactly the same length. Why, even the–


“Huh?” Twilight asked, shocked out of her reverie.

“If'n you're done singin', Sugarcube, that Hermes feller has the file out already.”

Her world suddenly filled with awkward silence, all Twilight could muster was a meager, “I was singing?” Her face burning red, she used her magic to pick the regalia back up off the floor.

Oookay...” Hermes apparently wasn't as accustomed as the ponies were to spontaneous bursts of song. “Anyway, here's the filed flight plan. They headed for Corneria, in the Lylat system to deliver some gold rings. Here's the coordinates.”

“Do you think these will be enough to get us there, Twilight?” Rarity asked.

“Well... I guess...” Twilight still hadn't quite gotten over her earlier episode of organizational bliss.

“Then come on, girls!” Rainbow called out, already flying through the door, “Let's get to it!”

* * *

Twilight caught a tuft of pink tail in her telekinetic grip before Pinkie could make it into the Solar Flair's pilot console again. “Hold it right there. How about this time, we give somepony else a turn at the controls?” She began trotting around the suspended – and miffed looking – mare, only to have Rainbow zip right past her into the pilot's seat.

Rainbow!” Twilight protested, releasing her grip on Pinkie.

“Hey, I may not be able to use magic, but I do know flying! ... and you know what else I know?” She took hold of the big red lever on her right side. “Going fast!” She slammed the lever all the way down, and immediately, the ship shot forward and upward at a ludicrous speed. “Whoo!” Rainbow called out as they broke out through the rest of the atmosphere, “Now this is what I call flying!”