• Published 16th Jul 2013
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Transformed - the flying spaghetti monster



A new stallion shows up in Ponyville, garnering a lot of attention from the mares. But watch out, he is not what he seems!

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Chapter 1: DiE

Transformed



Chapter 1: DiE



He felt his chest expand and contract as his lungs dutifully exchanged the air. His optical sensors weren’t reporting any visuals. And then, as if on cue, his eyelids separated and a new view of his world was offered. His optical sensors had been replaced with eyes, he soon realized. The relatively huge pony eyes managed to take in a lot more of his surroundings than his previous mechanical eyes. The recovery room, in all its blue-grey metal glory, was the first thing his new form observed.

At a whim he could activate various computer assisted views. He brought up his diagnostics, both mechanical and biological. Everything from data rate to body temperature could be viewed with this interface. 'Body temperature', he thought. The need to monitor his body temperature was new, since the enzymes that catalyzed his metabolism worked best at a specific temperature. This data, along with a host of other data could be superimposed on his world view at any time, and in a way that didn’t compromise the ability to see where he was going. He shut the diagnostics down when he ‘felt’ uncomfortable for having laid on his back.

He blinked automatically. It was something his new eyes would need to do to stay moistened, but the former pantherbot was a bit surprised anyway.

With muscle and machine working in unison, he started to move his limbs and right himself. A whole new wave of sensations hit him. His back gave him the all new feeling of being somewhat cold, and clammy. His lungs had sucked in more air from this simple maneuver, before returning to the previous rate of respiration. Cybertron’s atmosphere was breathable by creatures from Earth as well as ‘Celestia-1’, the new name for the planet they were studying.

His limbs were shorter, and his head was closer to the ground. He walked around a bit, and was relieved to find that it was just like his panther mode, though with a reduced stride length. His hooves took a little getting used to. He felt the brush of his rather substantial tail on his backside. It was amazing, the sheer amount of sensation he could feel. His back felt quite cool, but only after having got up. The rest of his body integument felt ‘well’, neither hot, nor cold, and the cool sensation on his back was slowly dissipating.

He sped up his walk to a trot, and then to a temporary gallop, since the recovery room was only so large. The feeling of the air passing over his body was difficult to describe, as some areas felt cooler than others. Stopping abruptly, he observed that his respiration had increased substantially, and took less than half a minute to return to normal. His body had warmed up, and the cool sensation from his back disappeared without him noticing it. His integument provided a massive amount of data, yet when it was processed, Ravage felt it a certain way, from a generalized location. Gone was the sector by sector breakdown of environmental variables.

“Environmental detection is more efficient,” Ravage spoke. He did a double take at the sound of his own voice. “What in the universe!” That was when he realized he had a tongue, and he started to feel his new teeth with it. The fact he could speak at all was a testament to Starscream’s ability to preprogram motor skills into the cerebellum. Ravage would eventually discover that his walking, trotting, galloping, and many other motor skills were also preprogrammed, all under the auspices of digital control.

What caught Ravage by surprise was how smooth his voice seemed. When Decepticons spoke, the ‘echo’ of computer generated audio accompanied every word. That was gone now. The only thing that carried his voice was air, and only during exhaling. His new lips, teeth, and vocal chords conspired to modulate the air passage to produce speech. It was a truly remarkable system.

He saw the mirror next, and walked up to it, taking in the image of his new body. What certain Equestrian inhabitants would have described as terracotta, Ravage saw as dark brown fur, his ‘coat’. His mane and tail were black. The eyes were the colour of brushed aluminum metal, a light grey. His body was lithe and muscular, with a ‘little extra’ in the flanks. It was decided in the planning phase that social acceptance was a priority. According to the data, stallions, the adult male ponies as learned by the Decepticons, did better with that feature. As an added bonus, Ravage was able to store more ammunition for his rear mounted weapons. It was a win-win scenario.

His ‘cutie mark’, an all-yellow feature, was the crescent of a ringed planet on a 30 degree angle. Ravage was about to become an explorer after all, and this space born image made sense.

The next new sensation was truly alien to Ravage, having no Decepticon counterpart. It came from his gut.

“That’s hunger,” Starscream’s voice chimed over the intercom. Of course, Ravage’s systems were constantly being monitored. “How are you feeling?”

A more intuitive question could not have possibly been asked. ‘Feeling’ had been all that Ravage was doing since he got up. “I don’t know… All this sensation, I’m surprised it’s not overloading my processing circuits. I have millions of new sensors, and yet it seems summarized automatically.”

“That means your new systems are working properly,” Starscream surmised. “You’d better eat something. You’ll need your strength.”

A quick check of his diagnostics indicated that his radio was left turned on, probably by Starscream, and it had been silently reporting his condition. It also explained the lack of external sensors strapped onto his body. Ravage left the system as is, placing his faith in Starscream and the reconstruction team.

His olfactory sensors were reporting…

“Something sweet,” indicated Starscream. “Simple carbohydrates give that aroma when mixed with warm water.”

Ravaged noticed his ‘meal’ had come in through a chute in the side of the wall. To the side of this he noticed a new structure. Having studied ponies in a little detail before the spark transfer operation, he knew that his room was for later, after his digestive system had sapped as much energy as it could from the food he ate.

His meal consisted of various plants’ seeds grown and ground in the same lab where his tissue was grown. The seed grindings were then incubated in water at 95 degrees C for 15 minutes, followed by the addition of a calculated amount of disaccharides. It felt good just eating it. Using his robotic grabbers and pincers installed in his hooves consumption was made easier, though he will eventually have to learn to use the utensils the way true earth ponies do. Having ate up every morsel he felt his lips curl up at their sides. He didn’t need a mirror to know that this was a smile.


=^.^=


Before he went out of the recovery room, Ravage installed his first weapon system: the missile racks. The rebuilt Decepticon was expecting Thundercracker to try to step on him, and when he did, Ravage would blow a leg off, or an arm. It would be so funny! Not only that, it was to cement his status as a Decepticon that should not be toyed with.

The first room was the repair bay. Starscream was going over the reconstruction procedure at a workstation. “Ah, I see you’ve made a full recovery?” The designer asked this as a formality.

Ravage was about to answer when he saw his old body lying on the repair platform. The good mood he had coming off from eating dissolved into something he’d never felt before. His panther form – his panther form - it looked so cold, lifeless. The bright red colour from its eyes was replaced by black, and bits of light reflecting off the surface. It was dead. Ravage felt the blood leaving his stomach. He felt sick.

“Now this is something I never expected from you, of all Decepticons.” Starscream observed the mood swing as a series of brainwaves on his monitor.

He brought a hoof up to the black metal head, and stroked it gently. It was cold and smooth. There was no vibration, nothing to indicate that the body was anything but a shell. “I feel as if I’ve murdered myself.”

Starscream dismissed this comment as inane banter. “When you two are done bonding, you should go into the lab. Quite a lot of Decepticons want to see you.”

A whole new level of stealth was sought after that would make Ravage a more convincing pony. Since the ponies appeared and behaved in a mammalian way, the new brain included an improvised limbic system. Influenced by the spark, Ravage was to experience emotion with the hope that he would react the way ponies would. While missing nothing in the normal gamut of Decepticon emotions, he was enabled to experience emotion through his pony body as well as his brain.

Ravage forced himself to move along, wondering if the process could be reversed when his mission was done. A detrimental thought it was, considering the work that had to get done, but it helped him feel better. He could hear the chatter of Decepticons as he approached the doors, which soon slid open.

The room was abuzz with conversation as Ravage stepped in, but it hushed quickly. All eyes were on the new pony with the ‘clip clop’ of hoofsteps serving as the backdrop of sound.

There must have been over thirty Decepticons in the room, including Starscream who just followed in. The normally animated monitors were occluded by the heads and shoulders of inquisitive Decepticons. Shockwave, Blast Off, the interceptors, the Constructicons, and many more were watching with interest.

Megatron was the first to speak up. “How is your new body, Ravage?”

Ravage paused briefly, gathering his thoughts. “Very different. There’s a lot more to being a pony than I expected. The locomotion is fairly easy to get used to, though.”

“As we expected it would be. Soundwave, you have something to say to Ravage.”

Soundwave took two steps out from the crowd, identifying himself. “Ravage! Transform.”

Ravage’s mood immediately improved at the prospect. Like the transformations of all Decepticons, all it took was a whim, digitally blessed by activation circuitry. With a surprisingly quiet whirring of solenoids and clicking of parts, the pony quickly transformed into robot mode. His upper back split off, anchored at the sternum, into ‘wings’. The newly exposed jet engines had rested in the abdominal region before sliding upward and closer to the center of gravity. The wings rested butterfly-style so the upper appendages could move about freely. His head split in half, face from occipital region, revealing a smaller, robot head, while the back of his pony head split again and folded themselves inside of the pony face. The remaining compacted head turned about one-hundred eighty degrees, with the eyes closed and face inward. It slid down the neck, coming to rest between the wings. The whole upper body twisted one-hundred eighty degrees. His forelegs turned themselves inside out becoming blocky arms. While all this was going on, his backside changed into his lower body, folding in on itself and becoming blocky, with the tail being sucked into a holding chamber, since is was made of pliable mane. Metallic, wedge shaped feet emerged from the lower, rear leg mechanisms.

The tissue did not bleed and it did not yield pain for the circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems were routed in a manner similar to circuitry and conduits, avoiding the transforming surfaces. In addition to the natural microfilaments and microtubules, the tissue was also equipped with carbon fiber tubes to give them strength. When in robot mode, or when endangered, the carbon fiber tubes could hook up with each other, forming a lattice that made the tissue stronger than steel. In pony mode, carbon fiber tubes were also used to knit the seams, making them virtually invisible.

A new transformation system, never before seen, had worked perfectly. A roar of cheering greeted the new Decepticon body, adorned in black and silver with little indicator lights and the Insignia for colour. As per his request, Ravage had a panther head. It was black, with sharp angles and flat surfaces like a typical Decepticon face, and it looked nearly identical to his old head, but with his red eyes facing forward.

All those incredible new sensations Ravage’s new body was feeling seemed to be gone! The body and integument felt like nothing, although he seemed to be aware of his internal organs. His lungs still breathed, though not through his robot mouth; his stomach still digested. His robot mode obeyed standard operating procedure. The pony bot wasn’t sure how to feel about this.

“Excellent, Ravage,” Megatron commended.

Thundercracker picked up on Ravage’s lack of enthusiasm. “What’s the matter, Ravage? Sad that you’ll be missin’ out on blowing up Autobots?” the interceptor teased, followed by his trademark bass chortle.

“Destroying the Autobots is the foremost thing on my mind. Out of the coming mission, we will have an inexorable energy source which will bring us on even ground with our enemies. Our superior technology and perseverance will do the rest.” The bizarre new body aside, Ravage was looking forward to spying on the unsuspecting ponies.

“Spoken like a true Decepticon.” Megatron was most satisfied with Ravage, one of his best warriors. “Now the real work begins. Scrapper, prepare Ravage’s ship. Shockwave, Starscream, Onslaught, plan the insertion of our agent.”


=^.^=


Deception: the sum of all tactics and strategies designed to mislead. It was the defining trait of Decepticon culture. Blending into their environs was not enough; they were eager to blend their motives as well. Oh look, an unassuming freighter. It was really a battleship. How about making a case for peace? It was all for buying time to build more ammunition stockpiles. Decepticons excelled not just in imitating vehicles, they imitated anything and everything. An observant Autobot once said, ‘Even in the most unimposing fields, buildings, and bridges lay the Decepticon army’.

Ravage’s hoofsteps were a new sound on Cybertron. Sharp, rhythmic, and definitely audible, the echoing in the ubiquitous metal construction of his home world made him detectable anywhere. This was in stark contrast to his panther mode, which was designed to traverse any kind of terrain soundlessly, and flawlessly. The spy hardly accepted that soon, very soon, his metal enclave would be swapped with the bright, flowery world of the ponies. The very thought of it made him shudder, but he accepted this mission because of the freedom it offered. No turning back now! It was time to plan.

What he found puzzling was how accepted his situation was among his fellow warriors. They never laughed at his ridiculous form, nor ever jeered at the unspeakable act of actually preparing to interact with the Equestrian people. In fact, if he didn’t know better, he was actually more accepted by his peers. Was it respect for the bravery it takes to explore the unknown? Perhaps. However, it was apparent that Starscream, the Decepticon who had masterminded the entire operation, had also come across similar luck. He wasn’t going anywhere except into combat.

Combat. Ravage relished a chance for combat with the ponies, and a smile cracked upon his face just thinking about it. His smile disappeared just as quickly as soon as he thought about one thing: the unicorns. It was well established that if they wanted to pin you with their magic, there wasn’t a damned thing you could do about it, save for being a unicorn yourself. The best strategy, so far, was to avoid fighting them. Since they were consistently mixed in with the other pony varieties, it meant that battling any pony would be equally problematic. A glorious firefight was simply not going to happen. 'A pity', Ravage had thought. Unicorns were easily the weakest of the pony races. As such, they deserved to be beaten down. Regardless, fighting needed to be avoided until the secrets of telekinesis were elucidated. After that, well – Ravage planned to bring a small arsenal of nuclear and antimatter weapons along. They fit in his ship’s cargo bay, so why not? Megatron certainly had no qualms about it.

Ravage was as ready as he was ever going to be. His ship was fully fueled, and armed to the teeth. All he had to do was go to the space bridge where Starscream and Shockwave would be waiting. Less than an hour later, he would be flying over Equestria. He passed through the Engineering lab on the way. Oddly, the Decepticons were still gathering data on the target.

“Ready to go, Ravage?” queried Skywarp, one of the interceptors.

It was then that Ravage noticed that all the screens were tuned into the same event, some sort of exchange between a green unicorn, and a cream coloured earth pony with a pink and blue curly mane.

“Ready,” was all the ponybot replied. He was trying to figure out why the Decepticons were so transfixed on those particular ponies, who now appeared to be embracing.

Megatron entered the room.

FWOMP! The Decepticon leader blew up the central monitor with a single shot from his fusion cannon, sending smoking debris flying everywhere. Frightened Decepticons backed into the wall, keeping as far away from Megatron as possible.

“I really hate to think that further study of those pathetic ponies is necessary for the conquest of Autobot City,” spoke the irate commander, his voice slow and sinister.

Some stupefied responses were made. They included ‘We were testing the overhead system’, ‘The main monitor’s colour scheme seemed out of whack’, and ‘Just cranking up the anger for the fight with the Autobots’, among other whoppers.

“Laserbeak has returned from Moon Base 1. Do you know what that means?” Megatron asked, still pointing his fusion cannon at his troops.

Suddenly, the red alert alarm came on, with red emergency lighting and the whining klaxon, capturing the attention of every Transformer under Megatron’s command. An intercom transmission of Soundwave’s voice described the situation. “Strike commencing. All Decepticons to battle stations!”

Megatron lowered his fusion cannon. “Get to your posts!” His troops dispersed quickly, if a little clumsily, getting out of the room with exceeding speed. He turned to face his spy. “Ravage! Once your mission is completed, destroy those wretched flesh creatures!”

“As you command, Megatron,” the Decepticon pony happily replied. The upsetting sight of seeing his fellow warriors – glued to the view screens! – just to see those bizarre aliens was most disturbing. Megatron turned around and calmly walked out of the room. Ravage galloped. Starscream couldn’t leave for the attack until Ravage was safely seen off to Celestia-1.

The cyborg pony reached the space bridge room quickly, with Starscream, Shockwave and the Combaticons waiting for him. Onslaught’s team of Combaticons was chosen to stay behind, in case the Autobots counter-attacked instead of protecting Autobot City.

In the center of the space bridge ring, Ravage’s ship was already prepped, with the engines running. The bottom hatch was extended down. It was a fairly large, black vehicle whose shape resembled a ‘manta ray’ from Earth, only it was angular with well defined facets.

Ravage ran straight for his ship’s hatch, when Starscream halted him. “Stop, Ravage!” The explorer turned around. “There’s been evidence of counter-intelligence. Apparently, the Autobot shuttle has already been six days delayed because of it.”

“I’ll watch my back. I doubt the Autobots know how to get to Celestia-1,” Ravage responded confidently.

Onslaught offered his tactical support. “The satellites have found a massive weather system approaching Equestria. I suggest using it to cloak your landing.”

“Maintain radio silence for at least three days,” Starscream commanded. “By then we should hopefully have found out how much the Autobots know about the Celestia system.”

Ravage nodded in response. “It shall be done.”

“Good luck, Ravage!” added Blast Off, enthused. He helped Starscream do a lot of ground work in during the initial investigation, and he was looking forward to the new chapter in Decepticon history that was about to be opened up.

“Who needs luck and magic when you’ve got science and technology,” Ravage quipped. “And thank you.” A short silence occurred, in case anyone had anything to add. There was nothing more than a team of Decepticons standing at attention, accompanied by flashes of red light and the sound of the klaxon.

“Then it’s time to go,” said Starscream. And then, all the Decepticons in the room held a hand in the air, in a certain way, like a frozen wave. It was a gesture of respect that Decepticons gave only to the bravest warriors. With high odds that Ravage may eventually be stomped out of existence by Princess Celestia herself, he was indeed very brave in taking on this mission.

Ravage smiled at his comrades, looking at them for a moment, for it may be the last time he could. He then spun around and entered his ship. He quickly transformed into robot mode and sat in the cockpit, and performed the final manipulations before take off.

The rings of both space bridges, on Cybertron and on Earth, came to life triangulating on the destination, sending Ravage on his way.


=^.^=


It was night time in Equestria, but Luna’s glorious moon did not shine upon the nation. A heavy thunderstorm was upon them, with the most spectacular thunderheads in the Everfree and areas north. The pegasi had done their best to disperse it, but sometimes even they could get overwhelmed with nature’s fury. Luckily for a certain Decepticon invader, the storm was more than enough to conceal his spaceship which made its way to predetermined coordinates, about two kilometers south of Ponyville.

Close to the surface, practically sitting on the tree tops, a powerful beam of energy shot out of the front of the ship, burning into a the side of a ridge. The infiltrating ship’s shields were used to push out a hollow as the energy beam vaporized the ridge side. On the surface, the very ground of the trees bulged upward and outward as the alien craft dug in. Ravage spent the next two days reinforcing the hollow his beam had made. With his ship safely inside of it and out of the prying eyes of pegasi, it was a top priority to avoid a cave in. He had rearranged the vegetation and soil on the plate metal over the entrance, also reinforced. He still needed to add the gear widgetry to allow the side of the ridge to open and allow him to fly his ship in and out – essentially a great door. He also wanted to build a tunnel to the top of the ridge. The operation used a lot of his precious energon cubes. Ravage yearned to start his mission in earnest, but experience taught him to prepare properly.


=^.^=


Aster emerged from the train and looked upon Ponyville for the first time. The pegasus mare welcomed the cool, fresh air after having spent four hours in a confined space. Mid morning sunlight reflected off of the still puddles that were randomly spread about, but concentrated where the heavier hoof traffic made well worn lanes. The place was quaint, but surprisingly active for what was supposed to be a small town.

Rainbow Dash flew down from a nearby cloud she had been napping on while waiting for her friend. The two mares embraced briefly. “Long ride?” she ventured.

“Yeah, it was. But that’s all done with now.” Aster was a big mare, a whole head taller than the junior Wonderbolt she had business with. The long legged mare had a lilac coat, an azure mane and tail, both with golden highlights, and green eyes. A cutie mark consisting of a golden wing in profile was featured on her flanks. Her wingspan was very large for her body size, giving her incredible lift. In fact, she’s been known to glide at the speed of a trot without flapping her wings at all – just using the air currents.

“Do you want me to take your bags, or did you just want to go straight to my place?” Rainbow offered, trying to be a good host.

“Nah, I got this, let’s go.” Aster’s great size also came with great strength. The saddlebags were really not a bother.

A short while later, Aster emerged from Rainbow’s bathroom, freshly bathed. “You have a nice washroom. Actually, I’m loving this huge cloud house too,” she commented.

“I know right! And I totally own it. No mortgage!” Rainbow Dash responded proudly.

“Good on you.” Aster smiled. “You ready for the info?”

“Anything to help Canterlot. We’re working on new maneuvers, right?” Rainbow carried a pitcher of orange juice and a couple of glasses on a tray in her teeth.

“We are.” Aster pulled out a plain looking folder and placed it on the coffee table beside the orange juice while Dash poured their beverages.

The junior Wonderbolt read the simple document. “I have to try to time my sonic rainbooms?” Rainbow peered keenly into Aster’s face looking for a sign of confirmation. The tall mare just nodded, and maintained a neutral expression.

“I don’t think Canterlot would request anything untoward, but you never know,” said the flight instructor from Hoofington.

Aster taught a range of theoretical and practical flight material, and had earned accolades for doing so. When she was told that Rainbow Dash was to take advanced flight mechanics courses in order to be allowed to enter officer training, the two mares were requested to work on supersonic flight training by the Equestrian Air Force, the top air authority. It took about four months for Rainbow Dash to complete the schooling. She had to do it all in Hoofington too, as prescribed by the EAF. In doing so, the two mares had become good friends. Hanging out a lot, they often delved into very unladylike conversation, drank beers, and played hoofball. Suffice it to say that the junior Wonderbolt did well under Aster’s tutelage.

Rainbow Dash was getting excited just thinking about it. “Aster, strap yourself in, because we’re going for a wild ride!”

“In your house?” the flight instructor quipped.

“Actually, I wonder if I can blow up a cloud house with a sonic rainboom,” Rainbow wondered, ignoring the jab.

“I think that’s why the EAF has taken an interest in you.”

“You do realize that nothing’s stopping me from becoming a Wonderbolt officer, right?” Indeed, the agreement between Rainbow Dash, the Wonderbolts, and the EAF was for her to do her practicum on supersonic flight, pending successful completion of the theoretical course material. Most Wonderbolt officer applicants already had the appropriate education prerequisites, but Rainbow did not. However, since she was the only pegasus capable of faster-than-sound flight, as well as the Element of Loyalty who answered directly to the diarchy, a compromise was made.

The tall mare had a mild look of surprise. “Money talks.”


=^.^=


On the forth day after he landed, Ravage emerged on a muggy, sunny morning. Humidity was high as the storm had soaked everything. His new found senses made it a delight to experience. He could smell the soil and moisture in the warm air, and it had a calming effect. He wanted to get a closer look at his surroundings, but felt that he had delayed his mission for long enough. It was time to meet the ponies.

The Decepticon made his way to a path the satellites had picked up. It led to Ponyville.

Ravage turned on his Battle Computer, a sort of ‘Heads Up Display’. He didn’t feel comfortable unless he had all the information he could get. The main satellite orbiting above provided information on ponies in the vicinity while his own processors provided an instant profile on every pony that came into view. Detailed dossiers were available on the Elements of Harmony.

The path he was taking had slowly changed from a muddy, leaf covered trail with exposed roots to compacted gravel to cobblestone as pony buildings increased in number, complexity, and height. His intent was to do a walk through Ponyville and test his disguise.

It was late in the morning. The heat and humidity kept increasing, and Ravage felt somewhat uncomfortable as his sweat glands started up. Indeed, any breeze that passed over the sweatier portions of his coat was welcome.

The sight of ever increasing numbers of colourful, smiling ponies gave him a bad taste in his mouth. What have I gotten myself into? he thought. Even though he had long since accepted his mission which entailed learning a new way of life in order to empower the Decepticon war machine, the overwhelming feeling of not belonging was difficult to ignore.

And they were mares… Mares, mares, mares, mares, mares! In abject defiance of evolutionary prerogative, where approximately equal ratios of male and female individuals could be found even in the forest creatures around Ravage’s ship, the population of ponies was primarily female. Every now and then, a stallion could be spotted, but they seemed to be the exception. Unnecessary to Decepticon propagation, typing its warriors as male and female was never attempted, and thus they were profoundly male. Let the Autobots waste their energon on useless robot sex typing.

As if that wasn’t enough to confuse the zoologist, there were an endless range of colours in these ponies. There were green ponies with purple manes, yellow ponies with orange manes, blue ponies with silver manes, and every colour combination imaginable. Ravage would have to check if colour traits were not inherited by subsequent generations at all, but rather established at random like some sort of genetic lottery.

Ravage started his way down the main strip. This was it! If he was detected now, he would go down fighting. He felt a wave of trepidation though, as he realized he brought the wrong weapons, the mini guns. Now, if he were being attacked by pegasi from the sky, the effectiveness of the mini guns would be known by bringing down the whole flock in a hail of bullets. In this case, the threat was more likely to come from the ground. His machine guns used armor piercing rounds and would be far more useful in close quarters combat. The bullets would have been able to stop at least 2 ponies each, one in front of the other, if not more.

The Decepticon tried to walk confidently, and for the most part did just that. The air was strong with sweet smells that seemed to waft off of the mares’ bodies. Not food, per se, but sweet, and pleasant. The mares’ scents mixed in the smells of fresh produce, wet soil, cooking, and wood smoke. It was, in all honesty, comfortable being downtown. To find out why, Ravage looked at his integument profile. All readings were normal. The mares were certainly not a threat, and most of them paid him no heed. Most of them. The Decepticon agent picked up a few of them that were looking directly at him, mostly smiling, but some wore more provocative expressions.

Surprisingly, the ‘mare walk’ had disarmed Ravage’s more war like instincts. His disguise appeared to be working as it was meant to. He had a few questions though. His ‘ears’, which turned out to be excellent audio sensors, sometimes heard a distinct noise amongst the din of busy ponies. It had two tones, with the first bit being of higher pitch, and the second bit was more drawn out, ending with decreasing volume and pitch. This behavior was not picked up by the investigation team, along with a lot of behaviors not previously observed. Ravage had no choice but to learn pony society while trying to live within it, and learn fast.

Suddenly, his Battle Computer picked up a pony familiar to the database. Overlaid on his vision, the pony was outlined in a box of red. A unicorn! In spite of having just walked by several of them without incident, Ravage hated unicorns and their cowardly magic. There was a dossier on her, and the information was on display. It was Twilight Sparkle. Realizing he was on a side of the street that would put him directly in her ground space, Ravage turned direction, practically ninety degrees, in order to put himself on the other side of the street as quickly as possible without arousing suspicion. Barring the element of surprise, and having no idea how to handle unicorns in a fight, he had no wish to face one of their most powerful members.

Calmly he continued to walk, approaching her position, but still side stepping it. He considered powering up the main satellite’s forward weapons array. If she pinned him, he may still be able to operate it.

“No, no. Princess Celestia is going to the Summer Sun Celebration in Trottingham this year,” Twilight spoke.

“Awww. But when is she coming back to Ponyville?” replied a slightly disappointed mare named Carrot Top. As was typical, she was selling carrots from her stand.

“Well, she comes at least once a year, kind of at random, actually.” Twilight continued on with her description of the Princess’s visiting demands when she realized that Carrot Top’s attention was turned elsewhere. “Um, hello?”

“Yeah,” said Carrot Top, dreamily. “Hello gorgeous.” Her eyes were fixed on something behind Twilight, who turned around to see what it was that caught her friend’s attention.

Of course it had to be a stallion. Twilight giggled at how easily the carrot vendor was distracted by him. “You silly pony,” she jabbed. Looking a little closer though, the mare noticed that he seemed to have exceptional physical attributes. His shiny, jet black mane and tail went perfectly with his terracotta coat. His earth pony body sported sleek musculature, contrary to the typical ‘big boned’ look. And his cutie mark… a planet! Even though she was skeptical at first, the academic unicorn was drawn into watching him stride by. After all, if he had a planet cutie mark, it could mean he was as educated as he was handsome. It didn’t take long for Twilight to notice how happily the planet mark stretched and bounced about his very well developed flanks.

Carrot Top whispered into the research pony’s ear, “Twilight, I don’t think we’re the only ones staring.” She followed up that statement with an effeminate giggle. Indeed, the two friends noticed another physical attribute: he didn’t have a mare to escort him.

BOOM!

The crowd hushed as a decent sized cloud exploded in a shower of rainbow coloured precipitation.

Way ta’ go, Rainbow Dash! could be heard amongst the murmuring. Soon however, with the crowd used to explosive aerobatic displays, things soon returned to normal.

Ravage, however, was stopped in his tracks, gawking. He knew there was a cloud there before. It was somewhat out of town, but now it seems to have been turned into a colourful explosion. His sensors had recorded the cloud in his peripheral vision. He would have to review it when he was safely at his base. The power of the shock wave it created was no minor feat either! Had the ponies developed heavy caliber weapons that were not noticed by the investigation team?

“You must be new here.”

Ravage turned to somepony who appeared to be addressing him directly. 'By The Pit, no!!' Thanks to eons of being a Decepticon, he remained calm enough, as Twilight Sparkle was clearly not using any magical attacks – yet.

“You can tell?” he responded, looking a little surprised.

She giggled, elated to be talking to this stallion. “Well, everypony’s seen Rainbow Dash do a Sonic Rainboom. Except for you, of course. Right?”

'Is that what that was, a Rainbow Dash attack?' Ravage brought up the dossier on Rainbow Dash. Sure enough, she was one of the Elements of Harmony: the Element of Loyalty, to be exact. And that shock wave may have been a sonic boom!

“Remarkable,” he concluded, staring into the sky where a cloud once floated.

Twilight laughed and snorted all at once. “I knew you were from out of town! Heheh. Actually, Rainbow Dash is a close friend of mine.” The prospective unicorn loved the way this was going, making small talk with one of the hottest dudes in recent memory. She was thinking about suggesting he have lunch with her and her friends where he might meet Rainbow, but decided on another kind of tactic.

“So,” she started, curving her purple body into a more provocative stance, “What planet are you from?” she asked making reference to his cutie mark. Twilight intended to respond to whatever Ravage said with something on the order of ‘I’m from planet Canterlot’ in an attempt to appear clever while finding common ground.

“Not from here,” he calmly replied, starting to walk away. Ravage needed to get away from Twilight. He felt that the longer he was around her, the higher the risk to him and his mission was. She may be well on her way to deducing that he really was from another planet. The more distance the Decepticon could put between him and the oddly behaving Unit Commander of the Elements, the better.

“But….” Was all Twilight could say, after he walked off.

“I don’t think it was a good idea to try to make friends by insulting him,” said Carrot Top, whom had just come up from behind. “Why not just ask him to have lunch with us?”

Twilight face-hoofed.

Ravage picked up the pace. Satellite thermographics indicated that the mare was not following. He didn’t pick up any of Twilight’s signals, let alone the unintentional ‘insult.’

What he did find puzzling was that the crowd didn’t seem impressed with the sonic boom event. They seemed almost bored. Ravage used his satellite to locate where the sonic boom had originated. A small video window indicated pretty clearly where that was. The fact the cloud was spinning before Rainbow Dash blew it up made the maneuver all the more impressive. He decided to head for ground zero.

The buildings slowly gave way to wider spaces which featured fields of short grass kept to a specific height. Dispersed at random were large, healthy trees unmarred by deadwood like forest trees. Cobblestone pathways, benches, and the occasional construct from which foals hung, swung, and ran about completed the scene. 'This must be a ‘park’', the Decepticon thought.

In a few minutes, Ravage was at the beach where the cloud had exploded. Rainbow Dash was grouped with three other ponies. His database identified Pinkie Pie and Rarity, but the other pegasus mare was unknown.

“Aw yeah, now all I gotta do is try that with a snow cloud!” Rainbow Dash declared.

“Hmm…” Aster was pondering Rainbow’s statement. “Snowflakes do refract light, but not the same way water does. And how would you keep them from melting?”

Ravage arrived. “Impressive.” The four friends turned to the stallion that made that statement. “Was that really you?”

Pinkie Pie gasped, having found pony in Ponyville she’s never seen before, but before she could interrupt, Aster covered the pink mare’s mouth up with her hoof. “Shhh… Let ‘em talk,” she whispered into Pinkie’s ear.

Rainbow giggled a bit, “Yup, that was me.” She was faux observing one of her hooves for debris.

“You flew faster than the speed of sound?” Ravage’s face was serious with inquiry.

This time, the giddy pegasus let out a choked, almost cackle of a laugh, “Yeah! Master of the Sonic Rainboom and Rainbow Rain.” She had put on a pair of shades to emphasize the point.

Ravage didn’t notice Rainbow Dash’s antics. He had been alive for millions of years, and had been on countless worlds. Up till now he had never, ever seen an organic being fly faster than sound under its own power. Looking upon the pegasus, it still felt like something of a miracle. Her wings seemed small and she possessed no engines or propulsion systems of any kind, at least outwardly. Even Ravage had jet engines attached under his wings in his robot mode. How did she do that?

“Amazing…” he uttered, starting to walk away. Dossiers on Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie had popped up and been verified. Having encountered four of the Elements of Harmony without being detected was sufficient evidence of his disguise’s effectiveness. His first objective was accomplished. His next objective was to find work. He needed to earn and spend bits like all the other ponies if he was to integrate into Equestrian society. Besides, his ‘amino acid pony’ diet that he had crates of in his cargo bay was nothing short of awful, even with the sugar.

The sexy stallion that sauntered into the suburbs of Ponyville did not escape Aster’s notice. “Rainbow. Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

“I think so, girl, but burlap chafes me so,” Pinkie Pie interrupted.

“An untaken stallion?” the blue pegasus answered. “There’s no way.”

“Pinkie Pie, have you seen that stallion before?” asked Rarity.

“No, and that’s why I gotta get his name so we can party!” The energetic mare was bouncing in place, eager to welcome the new stallion in the traditional Pinkie Pie style. “Not to mention giving him his welcome song. Oh! I gotta write him a welcome song! Oh! Oh! I gotta get his name so I can write him a welcome song!”

“Okay Pinkie, we get the idea,” said Dash, trying to calm down the pink mare.

“Ya know Dash, he was looking at you,” Aster indicated, and winked. “I think he was looking at you all the way from the park, actually.”

“Oh please! The only mare he would have been looking at is moi,” Rarity didn’t notice him until he addressed the group, but was certain that she was the center of his attention.

“No, he was looking at Dashie,” Pinkie declared. Rarity wore a disbelieving look. “When my shoulders shiver and my tail twitches, that means that a stallion was looking at my best friend.”

Rainbow Dash blushed. Rarity opened her mouth, inhaled, and prepared to say something along the lines of who Pinkie Pie’s best friend really was, but stopped herself, looking nonplussed. She then closed her mouth.

“You got the ball, Dash. Don’t drop it.” Aster smirked at her friend.

“Okay well, I guess I can talk to him.”

“Go get ‘m, Dashie!” Pinkie cheered.

Rarity decided to support the initiative. “I concur. If such a handsome, polite, and probably educated stallion is actually available, then no time should be wasted. Besides, our herd could use a stallion.”

“Ooooh, your herd is pretty big,” said Aster, thinking out loud. “You’ll probably kill him!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, one thing at a time here. We don’t even know this guy.” Rainbow was uncomfortable with shifting her focus from aerial maneuvers to ‘sappy talk’, but having a stallion around would be useful in combating certain ‘urges’ that popped up from time to time. She’d feel better if it was Rarity that got elected to make his acquaintance, but from what was said it was herself that he was interested in.

The speedy mare began to hover. “Alight, I’ll see what I can do. Catch ya guys later.” With that, Rainbow Dash took off.

“For the herd!” shouted Pinkie Pike, raising a front leg in victory.


=^.^=


Rainbow Dash did a quick patrol over Ponyville and she found the stallion of interest walking around the perimeter. She landed on a cloud, and thought about how to start communication with him without seeming totally lame. What could she use to break the ice? “Aha!” she said, having figured out an angle.

Ravage was taking the safest path he could think of that would most likely avoid Twilight. The satellite was tracking her to the library, though. It was a good bet that she was going to spend the afternoon reading. The pony bot was getting hungry so he decided to head back to base and correct the problem. His disguise was successful and he felt like celebrating. It would be like a victory toast drinking energon.

With a loud thud, a pegasus suddenly landed on his left side, startling him.

“Hey there,” Rainbow Dash said squeakily, smiling up at him. She barely managed to hide a laugh from his surprise, though a couple of snickers got out.

“Hello?” Ravage didn’t know what to make of the situation.

“Question for ya. Are you new here?” Any nervousness Rainbow had was abolished, now that she was steering the conversation.

“Uh, yes. Just got here today.” This was close enough for the Decepticon.

“Did you want me to show you are around? Ya know, a little orientation. Makes it easier to find stuff.” The pegasus’ plan was to ‘include’ the library, the boutique, Sugar Cube Corner, and other of her friend’s abodes. What are friends for, right?

Ravage had satellites to find stuff. Rainbow’s unexpected arrival did get him thinking though. Could this pony be useful? Unable to come up with an answer, he decided to do a risk/benefit analysis on possibly befriending one of these ponies later. He had always questioned being stationed in the same place as the Elements Of Harmony, and while he understood the need to be close to powerful magic so he can study it, it seemed a little reckless, even for him. It didn’t help that the Element bearers were the first ones to talk to him.

“The way I like to remember area layouts is to explore them myself,” the Decepticon pony explained. “I find that this is the best way to commit the details to memory. You showing me around isn’t a bad idea, but I need to get home, and I’ve already explored most of Ponyville.”

Rainbow Dash’s confidence waned, as she tried to carry on the conversation. The stallion needed to head home, should she get in his way?

“Did ya like it?” the pegasus asked, looking inquisitive as she started hovering.

Ravage thought a bit. “Yeah. It’s alright,” he replied, smiling. Ponyville would be easier to get used to if it wasn’t for the Element bearers, but this problem was dropped into his lap by Starscream, with Megatron’s permission. He just had to endure.

Rainbow felt she was intruding by then, and hovered with the intent to fly away. “Okay, I’ll leave you to it. Oh! Name’s Rainbow Dash, by the way,” she said as she extended a hoof.

The Decepticon bumped it – his first hoof bump! “Ravage.”

Rainbow smiled, a little evilly, “Now that’s a cool name!”

“Ya like it?”

“Yeah. Listen, I gotta head too. I’ll see you around, okay?”

“Alright. Thanks for the tour offer.” The Decepticons established the use of such polite mannerisms during the investigation. They were easy to understand, and, with luck, would help keep Ravage out of trouble.

Rainbow Dash flew off, feeling positive about their encounter. Her and her friends’ stallion prospect seemed solid. He spoke intelligently, and kept it real. He spoke in a smooth baritone voice that didn’t slur or stutter, in fact, Rarity would love his diction and enunciation. He may have turned her ‘tour’ down, but he didn’t turn herself down. They will meet again, and by then Rainbow will have thought of a few strategies that she can use to try to sway him over to the lives of the Elements.

Ravage quickly put the bothersome pegasus in the back of his head, and began figuring out how to statistically implement a risk/benefit analysis of a friendship with one of these ponies, adding today’s experiences to the data set. The Elements of Harmony were too dangerous to befriend, and yet they were the only ones bold enough to strike up a conversation with him. Indeed, most puzzling. The stallion bot was so deep in concentration he hardly noticed when he was well into the Everfree Forest, nearing his new home.

Author's Note:

The story begins after the events of MLP:FIM, Season 3.

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