• 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 10: Flitter

Transformed



Chapter 10: Flitter



Friday had come. Warm winds had delivered a smoldering evening that succeeded a cooler, rather breezy day.

Ravage departed from his ship’s hidden entrance, and proceeded toward Ponyville. He focused hard on ‘pony affinity’, which is what he decided to call the very un-Decepticon suite of feelings which occurred during periods of interaction with the species. He felt this was the overwhelming influence of his pony body which, disadvantageously, could not be reprogrammed. It got worse with proximity and would keep getting worse over time. In fact, his lying with Fluttershy eclipsed his mission objectives, whereas he would have normally kept them in mind at all times.

Trepidation was becoming an all too familiar feeling to him. He was actually going out with one of these creatures. The option to turn around and flee the planet and continue his research from a safe vantage point was looking more and more attractive with every hoofstep.

What good was it even being a pony? This was not his culture. These were not his people. From the perspective of a Decepticon, the statistical number of uses his pony body had when not for disguise was zero. And yet, Ravage had long since convinced himself that he didn't want to get rid of it! This was an enigma that needed to be solved, for the first date between a pony and a Decepticon was going to begin in less than an hour.

In spite of this, it had been a trouble free day for him, and he even managed to soak in the tub for nearly an hour after work. Inside the bluish grey metal paneling of his ship he felt at ease. Homesickness was the worst emotional experience he had in his life, bar none.

Be that as it may, ponies spoke of far, far worse ways to feel; in particular, the end of things. The end of relationships and the end of traditions were certainly high on the ponies’ scale of emotional hardships to be avoided. Most feared among the ponies though, was the end of life, but this meant little to Ravage as his mechanical and organic components could be restored indefinitely.

The ponderous Decepticon hardly noticed that the Everfree forest had vanished behind him.

=^.^=

Go to sleep, little foal…

Pumpkin Cake bore her head into her pillow a little harder, and smiled a little wider at the sound of the soothing lullaby. The suspended toys and trinkets seemed to dance in rhythm to the melodic voice. Pink hooves that hung over the wooden bars also swayed to the tune. Behind them the darkened silhouette of the singer, with her impossibly big eyes and bubbly mane, sung softly.

It instantly put her brother to sleep.

Pumpkin closed her eyes, tranquil from listening. She heard the soft hoofsteps of the singer fading into the distance, followed by the click of the door as it was closed.

Her eyes opened up again though. Would the monsters come for her tonight? Sometimes, the pretty blue pony swooped in and shooed them away, but not always. Slowly, and surely, Pumpkin Cake’s fear mounted.

=^.^=

Pinkie Pie bounded into the private living area of Sugar Cube Corner. “Pound and Pumpkin Cake are sound asleep!” she tweeted.

“They don’t still wake up in the middle of the night crying, do they?” responded Sweet Leaf, an engineering student ensconced in a fortress of literature on the table. Delegated foal sitter of the Cake family for the night, the glasses wearing, dusty green earth pony was the daughter of one of Mrs. Cake’s longtime friends. As such, it was easy for Pinkie to ask her to take her place as foal sitter in exchange for some cold, hard cash.

“Welllll… they seemed to sleep fine laaaast night…” grimaced the pink mare.

Surprisingly, Sweet Leaf didn’t seem that bothered. “Ya know, that’ll probably be a good time for me to take a break if they wake up.”

“Great!” Pinkie exclaimed with a wistful bounce. She placed her saddlebags on her body with her teeth, and turned around to go. “Enjoy yourself!”

At the front entrance of her home and place of work, Pinkie stood. With an irrefutable smile and a foreleg to protect her eyes from the Sun, she glanced upward toward the horizon, and waited for her date to come in from the sky.

=^.^=

Aster and Rainbow Dash left the cloud home and set a flight path toward Ponyville. It didn’t take long for the Element of Loyalty to get over Aster’s description of what the organization did, and she actually became very curious about it.

“So?” Aster queried.

“So what?” The junior Wonderbolt’s attitude could be felt in the terse response. “Ya know I can’t do the double rainboom, or whatever it is you wanna call it.” Truthfully, Rainbow Dash had attempted the stunt almost every afternoon since the Monday, without success. “Oh, and I’m not going to be trying it again unless you’re there. I kinda hate landing on my face.”

Aster nodded in agreement. “Okay Dash, just let me know when you want to practice, and I’ll be there for you.”

Rainbow felt little comfort from Aster's commitment. Scattered aches and pains could be felt with every wing flap, much more than usual. “I guess you missed the part where I said I can’t do the stunt?”

“What the organization was asking of you isn’t easy. When the time comes, you will have magical assistance.”

“Okay, but I’m going to be mixing in my regular routines too,” Rainbow demanded.

“Sounds fair to me.” The last thing Aster wanted was to suppress the one pony in the world that could have a chance at doing the maneuver. She felt it strange though, that no further intelligence was provided describing why Rainbow Dash needed to do such a thing.

A couple of minutes were spent without conversing as puffy white clouds zoomed by the pegasi and the breadth of Ponyville quickly engulfed the scene. Out of curiosity, Aster looked at her friend. Dash did not have the look of a Wonderbolt, and her normally cocky attitude was swapped out for silence and beads of sweat that accumulated on her forehead before they were dried away by the wind.

“Is everything alright?” the big mare asked.

Dash sighed. “What is it when you’ve been friends with somepony for years, and now she’s going on a date with you?”

Aster’s face contorted at the simple question. “Progress?”

Rainbow sighed again. “It’s just that, when I hang out with Pinkie, we shoot the breeze, we play pranks, we get hay fries… Now she wants,” she gulped, “Me.”

“I think half of Equestria wants you,” Aster interceded. That put her friend back in the saddle with a confident grin. “I don’t see what the problem is if Pinkie does too.”

“She actually asked Twilight if it was okay. Can you believe it? Twilight!”

Aster merely nodded her approval. “Good herd communication is essential.”

“Yeah, but now I have to go.” Rainbow was slowly becoming more and more exasperated.

“You do realize you could have refused.”

“Yeah, yeah, but I was kinda thinking it was, you know, just gonna be another fun time with Pinkie. But the last couple of days, she’s been rubbing her cutie mark against mine, whipping her tail against my flank, nipping at my ears…”

“Well you’ll have to decide what to do soon. She’s right there,” Aster indicated, pointing at the widely smiling mare with a hoof.

Like a true champ, Rainbow Dash went straight in, as Aster looked on while hovering. Pinkie immediately tackled her friend, bowling her over like a big dog.

As fun as watching Rainbow sweat it out would have been, Aster had other business to attend to, and flew up toward Canterlot.

=^.^=

Ravage once again found himself looking at the statue of Celestia.

Thankfully, the mares didn't bother him that day. They probably knew about his date with Flitter and respectfully waited on the sidelines. What she had in store, he had no idea, but he ate well just in case. Actually, there only really seemed to be Twilight’s group, Cloudchaser’s group, and Luna who showed any real interest in intimacy. Perhaps Luna’s claim of ‘all the mares were dreaming of him’ was an initial reaction to a new face in town, and that it had since ebbed.

“Oof!!” he yelled as an unseen object smashed into his side and turned his world ninety degrees. He had to snort out the grass that got into his nostrils before turning his head toward the cause. A deviously smiling Flitter, her head resting upon the bends of her forelegs, had shown up at eight o'clock exactly. Then his satellites warned him with a proximity alert, indicating that the plucky pegasus was nearby.

She laughed jovially at Ravage's misfortune as she watched him get up and dust himself off. “Got ya!” When it looked as if he didn't get the joke, she up and hugged him lovingly. “Aww, I was just having a little fun.”

Ravage realized he had forgotten how strong these things were. More impressively, she managed to get around his early warning systems. It made him grin.

His satisfaction in turn piqued Flitter's excitement, as she casually wrapped her forelegs around his neck and started kissing him.

Ravage's senses were overwhelmed with the familiarity of Flitter, with her lovely scents, perky demeanor, and violent kissing; Flitter in all her glory had returned to him, four days hence. The hot sliding of her lips upon his felt good, and the electric feeling in his chest started up once again. From angles not occluded by his date's gyrating head the Decepticon pony saw the trailing hairs of her exuberantly swishing tail – something he couldn't view during their first encounter. She pulled her mouth from his face. No damage this time. Supposedly, introductory kisses were just that: the beginning.

“Is a sexy stallion ready for some real fun tonight?” she said, bouncing on her hooves briefly, making her forelock puff up and waver. Flitter was optimistic, and didn’t even bother with the half-lidded stare, or ‘bedroom eyes’ so common when a mare hints at the mischief to come.

The smile bearing her teeth, and the way her eyes seemed to shine, and how her mane seemed to ‘frame’ those features up was more than enough for Ravage’s heart to beat unnecessarily rapidly. This was not unexpected, as his pony body seemed to have a will of its own, though it still disturbed the Decepticon to no end.

With great suspicion, he followed his body's cues. “I would have to say yes,” finally answering Flitter’s question.

Flitter chortled. “Mmm, I thought you would be,” she replied breathily, bedroom eyes full on. “To the train station!” she announced. The excitable mare started walking in the general direction of the station, and Ravage followed.

“Train station? Aren't we having our date here?”

“Nuh-uh. I had four days to think about what to do with our time. Gotta say I came up with a doozey,” she propounded with confidence.

“I need to point out that I have to be at Twilight’s library at nine o’clock tomorrow morning.” Even with his limited information on pony outings, Ravage knew that leaving this late would make it impossible to return until the next day.

The affectionate pegasus rubbed her head into Ravage’s neck as they walked. “No problem, sweetie,” she crooned. “We can take the seven-forty-five train back to Ponyville. Just wake me up in time,” she explained, chortling once again, “Assuming we actually sleep.”

Flitter produced tickets for them both when they reached the station, and they boarded. Though he had already used the service, Ravage still had trouble getting used to the vehicle designed for transporting quadrupeds, with its rows of benches separated by frilly dividers.

Flitter giggled. “It's like you've never been on a train before.” She hopped onto one of the benches, looking at him expectedly. He got on beside her, occupying a space by the window.

The conductor yelled something regarding the boarding status of the ground vehicle. In the next moment they started moving.

“Where are we going?” he asked simply.

And with a wry smile, “Canterlot,” Flitter replied, feeling proud of herself.

Ravage was surprised, but was careful enough to hide the negative feeling. Into the fires of The Pit, he thought woefully. By his estimation, the odds of running into Princess Luna were at least nine chances in ten. However, she laid down the rules for dating itself. Would she respect them? She certainly left him and Applejack alone the previous night, though that could have been classified more as ‘hanging out’, than dating. “Sounds like a ton of fun,” he responded, maintaining his order and calm.

“You got that right!” the cheery mare proclaimed, before giving him a peck on the cheek.

Tacitly, the wary pony bot admitted to liking Flitter’s kissing. He knew that this was one of many bouts of affection, and that it would continue throughout the date. He couldn't help but wonder what it would feel like if Fluttershy kissed him like that. She did attend the Libido Nocta party after all.

Ravage pondered a lot on Applejack’s application of affection. The warmth he felt was as welcome as sturdy shielding in an asteroid field, but it was the gentle touch of her hooves, petting him, and comforting him, that really supplanted his sad feelings. His observations of Bo and Micah, and the massage he received from Fluttershy supported this idea. His recollections of pony behavior recorded in research videos further strengthened it. Thus gentle touch, he hypothesized, imparted positive feeling in ponies. It was no mere poke and prod though, as one would do in a scientific analysis. There was timing involved, the pressure used had to fall within a specific range, and only certain zones on pony bodies would respond to it.

Ravage decided to test his hypothesis. He deployed his right foreleg, and gingerly snaked it around Flitter’s withers. His test subject emitted a high pitched girly sigh and snuggled into him, giggling as she did. A sensation akin to fuzzy warmth soaked his upper body. How satisfying it was to feel that way after supplying affection.

Flitter pressed her face into his side, kneading her head into the muscle. She liked muscles, and her date’s delectable paragon of maleness launched many a daydream from her lately.

A powerful device it was, this affection, and since the explorer’s own experience supported its use he could not easily rule it out as ‘flesh creature nonsense’. In fact, he could use it to lend credibility to his stallion mode’s claim to being a pony. Nonetheless, there appeared to be a distinct disadvantage.

He saw the data points line up. Three times in twenty-four hours, the mares had used his body as their personal comforter, ironically starting with the most timid one of all. Applejack, the strongest of her herd, couldn’t take the cold in the meadow, and snuggled up against him in the middle of the night when he was sleeping. And now, Flitter. Prolonged use of affection would almost certainly drive up his intimate interactions with mares.

“Ravage?” Flitter asked in a soft, almost whispering voice, “I’m really looking forward to this evening. And I hope you don’t mind, but you’ll be meeting lots of my friends tonight.” She angled her head toward his muzzle. “Lots of girls,” she teased, practically singing the last word.

That made him nervous, as it sounded like more data points on intimacy would be acquired regardless of whether he showed affection or not. He felt one of her forelegs wrap around the front of his chest as Flitter clamped on him more tightly. The warm comfort of affection competed with a very loud Decepticon identity, making him confused.

Flitter was looking at the world rolling by as she snuggled into her date. “Do you like dancing?” she asked playfully.

“I have – rudimentary skill.” Ravage wasn’t sure if he wanted to explore his weakest ability just yet.

Flitter practically purred into the stallion bot. His use of language was oblique, yet likable, as no other pony seemed to talk quite like him. It was a mystery she would enjoy solving as she got to know him better, slowing peeling away his substance layer by layer. “Oh! And we totally have to try out white cider!”

“White cider?”

Flitter and Ravage went on for the next twenty minutes discussing the details of their outing. Eventually, Flitter yawned and closed her eyes, still cuddled against him.

With nothing more to do for the rest of the train ride, Ravage also sought sleepy relaxation. Leaning against the window with Flitter still under his foreleg, he closed his eyes and began scheming.

It was essential that the black matter detector be built as soon as possible. If he kept Saturday night clear, then the material acquisition would be done. After that the construction of the detector was mostly automated. Then the calibration, accompanied by the relocation of the orbits of at least two of his satellites would need to occur. Speaking of which, why hadn’t the galactic satellite reported in yet? It should have been well within range of Cybertron and sent its observations the previous day.

=^.^=

Princess Luna watched the sun set, entranced by her sister’s hoofwork. Like Celestia’s devotion to running their great nation, her artisan-ship was always a marvel to behold. Sipping at her moonflower and rosebud tea, she struggled to reconcile the emptiness she felt from witnessing the daily event. The Solar Diarch expressed great reservations against courting Ravage, assuming Luna actually got close enough to suggest so, until the riddle of the magical bond had been solved.

She closed her eyes, and reached out for Ravage’s essence. He was on the move, and it didn’t take Luna long to deduce the means and destination. She smiled, pleased with Flitter’s date solution.

Yet, her heart longed for him still. If only she could get closer! While sipping her tea a smug smile worked its way onto her face, as the machinations of her extraordinary mind yielded a plan. The only delay was the wait to raise the Moon.

A knock came at the door and right on time. “Enter.”

In walked two ponies, clad in silver and black Night armor.

A big, grizzled unicorn stallion by the name of Scorched Earth took the lead. Where his coat was exposed, scars could be seen on his shoulders and forelegs; a blue, magical orb occupied the space where his left eye once was. He had served in the Night Guard for decades, and earned great respect and experience.

Accompanying him was a young pegasus mare by the name of Feral Flight. She was of slim build, and nearly as tall as Luna. A superb tactician and fighter, she excelled in Hoof to Hoof combat.

The duo bowed before the Night Keeper.

“Salutations, my little ponies,” Luna greeted. “I hope you are ready to work alone tonight.”

Rising up with his partner, Scorched Earth responded curiously, “We are not continuing our studies tonight?” His liege smiled upon him, and in a way that told him what they would really be doing tonight. Finding it difficult to contain his enthusiasm, his good eye widened as he began smiling himself.

“Whoo-hoo!!” Feral Flight hollered as she jumped into a somersault, stopping in a hover. Seeing Luna and ‘Scorchie’ giving her stern looks, she settled down.

“Feral, do you even know what I want you two to do?”

“Go into the Dream World?” she responded, smiling broadly and practically springing off her hooves.

Luna chuckled. “Correct. I want my finest apprentices to come to the aid of our fellow ponies tonight.” She swore that the high pitched squeak she heard was a giggle from Feral.

“May I assume that her majesty has important projects that need her attention?” The inquisitive stallion always tried to get more information on the subject whenever he could.

“Neigh, my apprentice,” she responded, drawing in more closely to the two. “I am not working tonight.” The Princess enjoyed the puzzled looks from her pupils. “At all.”

“Oooh…” Feral Flight was getting a gleam in her eye as to what her Princess might be doing with her time.

“Feed yourselves, and meet me in the classroom in thirty minutes,” Luna ordered.

“Yes my liege,” her charges said in unison, before leaving the Night Princess.

=^.^=

Aster was about halfway to Canterlot when the Moon rose.

Come to me,’ Princess Luna summoned.

Responding to the telepathic message, Aster adjusted her course so she could arrive at Luna’s tower as quickly as possible.

=^.^=

Rising from their cuddling positions was surprisingly difficult for the dating pair. Alertness and vigor were restored quickly, however, as the two ventured into the sweet night air.

For Ravage, walking in downtown Canterlot on Friday evening was a vastly different experience from walking it at two in the morning the past Wednesday. A spectrum of colours and buzz of commotion vied for his eyes’ attention as the streets seethed with laughing, cheerful ponies and decorative carriages. Contrary to Ponyville, most ponies in Canterlot were adorned with some sort of clothing, even the males. He caught glimpses of many ponies staring at him and Flitter, probably because neither had any real clothes on. Also, it appeared that a shift in race occurred in this place, as the majority of ponies were unicorns. Overhead, proportionately fewer pegasi plied the Canterlot skyways; most were pulling carriages.

“Ya know, I’ve been meaning to ask, where are you from?” Flitter suddenly asked out of the blue.

“Well, I’ve been living north of Froggy Bottom Bog in the rural areas, but I grew up in Cybertron.” He didn't know what kind of response to expect from saying ‘Cybertron’, but hoped it would be as uninteresting as Applejack’s was.

“Ah yeah, I’ve heard of it.”

Ravage did a double take. “You have?!”

“Yeah, it’s up in the northwest, isn’t it?”

It was possible that there was a town with a similar sounding name. Ravage would be sure to check later, as his attention was drawn to what lay beyond the windows of the shop they were passing, which featured several gem encrusted garments. Gems seemed to be valuable in Equestria, tossed around like currency; a two-tiered money system?

“I’m actually born and raised in Ponyville,” Flitter said like it was a confession. “I guess you can kinda tell, can’t you?”

“Oh? How is that?"

“Well, I don't project attitude like a lot of the ponies here. Ponyvillans have a nice mix of all the races, and even one alicorn. I think it goes a long way to making us good cooperators, having dealt with all the hurdles regarding race as foals.”

Ravage didn’t realize that race could have a big influence on culture. Autobots and Decepticons kept themselves pure and never mixed unless it was absolutely necessary. The very thought of having to interact, let alone work with the Autobots could make Ravage cringe.

The pony spy had expected Canterlot to be a more wide-open, spacious city, but it turned out that many businesses and residences coexisted in a compact arrangement, where one dwelling continued into the next without any spacing, each separated only by a wall. Ravage approved of this, of course, as yards and gardens seemed to be an inefficient use of space.

Eventually, their walking route opened up, and a rather substantial park lay before the two dating ponies. In just under ten minutes of walking on the cobblestone trail, “Ravage, this way,” Flitter bade, motioning for him to walk a root-strewn dirt path which wove its way between large, old trees.

The tree canopy covered the stars and made it very dark. The Decepticon was about to turn on his infrared when they seemed to arrive at their destination: a small clearing, surrounded by several greenish-white blossoms that seemed to glow of their own light. Ahead between the trunks of centuries-old trees, a built-up section of the city adorned by a plethora of little lights could be seen. Up until they reached the dirt trail, Flitter had been talking, describing the trouble she and Cloudchaser used to get into. Ravage only just then realized that she had quieted up.

Flitter sat down on her haunches, and motioned Ravage over. Licking her lips, she watched as her compliant, handsome stallion date sat down beside her, though his attention was on the amazing array of infrastructure and culture that lay beyond the trees. Without warning, the eager pegasus mare toppled him and started to kiss him, madly mashing her face into his with unbridled passion. Joined at his lips she sucked, slurped, and drank like an animal that had been without water for days, forcing him back and making him have to support himself with his forelegs. She gripped his head from the base of his skull, gaining leverage, as her tongue twisted and struck against his mouth. Allowed entry, she lashed and probed his oral space, finally forcing him onto his back with a thud. She violently tore her sopping lips from their quarry, and attacked his chest muscle, savaging it with lustful bites and kisses. In a long lick she reveled in his delicate, salty taste as she made a saliva trail to his ear where she nibbled and sucked on the base. Her date gasped and convulsed from the sensation, and she enjoyed latching on, continuing her assault on his ear unabated. She took the top half of the extremity into her mouth and pulled on it, using her lips and suction. His head was hoisted up before she let it fly out with a pop. She hunkered down, her mouth just millimeters away from his ear. “I want you,” she whispered huskily, breathing hard.

Those three words could have not been clearer, and Ravage computed his options as fast as he could. Her behavior was consistent with the intimacy data he had been gathering since his first day in Equestria. He was pretty sure of what she wanted to do next, and avoidance was essential! He had to kick her off, and end the date. But then, both Ravage and his date’s ears twitched, and rotated toward a sound – the sound of singing.

“Oh, you have gotta be kidding me!” Flitter was really angry and upset, as another mare was walking on the same dirt trail toward them.

“Who is that?” Ravage asked, relieved that the passionate mare’s plans had been halted.

“I don’t know!”

In the darkness, the figure of a tall mare with a blonde mane emerged. “Oy!” She was as surprised at Flitter was. “Are all the spots in this park filled up?” she asked in a Trottingham accent, also as annoyed as Flitter was. She shook her head and started to backtrack. “I’ll just get me mate ‘n we’ll go somewh…”

“Don’t bother!” Flitter spat. “C’mon Ravage, we’re gonna be late.”

“I’m terribly sorry, I really am.” The intruding mare’s apology went unnoticed, as the angry pegasus had stomped away, and her boyfriend had to almost trot to catch up.

Minutes later, the interrupting mare emerged from the dirt path she trod on. She then removed her blonde wig, revealing its owner to the park, Aster. Princess Luna had assigned her to follow the pair and report their whereabouts when they settled down.

She felt remorseful as she stored the wig in her saddlebag, but felt it had to be done. As Luna’s agent, it was part of her job to protect Luna’s interests. Though the risk of impregnation of Flitter was small, she couldn’t take any chances.

She removed the blanket that covered her wings and put it in the saddlebag.

Princess Luna was a conundrum for Aster. The same mare that worked so hard to better Equestria and protect foals in their dreams also attempted to murder her sister, and a thousand years of imprisonment on the Moon did not rehabilitate her. In fact, she brought about ‘eternal darkness’ as soon as she came back. But all things come to an end, and she was struck by the Elements of Harmony, and thereafter was said to have lost her dark powers. Presently, she sits beside her once hated sibling, working hard, and doing her best to reintegrate into pony society.

As fishy as that sounded, Princess Celestia was not much better. Without warning and without proper training, she sent her introverted student into the crucible from which Nightmare Moon emerged. She did this even after being advised by said student of the imminent return of her mighty sister.

Aster had trouble believing, let alone understanding it. It was her business to test information; to weigh it against as many variables as she could, and do it quickly. The story of the six mares who brought down a juggernaut like Nightmare Moon seemed sketchy at best. For the magic to transfer from stone to living ponies required great planning, the academic pegasus thought. She may not have been a unicorn, but she had considerable knowledge of how magic worked, as well as its history.

Regardless of what Aster thought, the Sun and Moon rose and set in a timely fashion, and both of the ruling Sisters were back. More than that, the Elements of Harmony managed to defeat Discord, though more out of his carelessness than their strategy.

With a flap of her powerful wings, Aster was airborne. It was not time to report back to her boss, not yet. Her targets’ position had not stabilized, though she suspected it would be soon.

The agent had to restrain her analytical mind from delving too closely to the affairs of the silly alicorns, with all the power games and nonsense they allowed. As far as she was concerned, one of the essential ingredients needed to safeguard Equestria was to keep Luna happy. Sometimes, amoral things had to be done to achieve this.

=^.^=

Princess Celestia walked elegantly up to her bed, and wafted up the covers with her magic. She only managed to get a single hoof on when a knock came from the door. It was a very specific knock from her sister. “Come in?” Her sibling entered and approached excitedly. “To what do I owe such a cordial visit?”

“Sister, we’re going out tonight!” she confidently explained, with as much determination as gusto.

Celestia maintained a neutral expression. She levitated over a dainty she ‘rescued’ from a botanical conference attended earlier that afternoon and nibbled on it, never taking her eyes off her sister. Luna’s smile never left. Celestia levitated the treat back to its plate and still Luna’s face would not yield. “’Beg your pardon?”

“We. Are. Going. Out tonight. Like a pair of sisters should on a vibrant Friday night such as this.” Now it was Celestia’s turn to hold her expression. “We will change our appearances, and melt in. Nopony will be the wiser.”

A night of frolic? With just Luna? This hadn't been done in centuries. Funny, she thought, that the urge to do so came on the spur of the moment. “Is this because Ravage has come to Canterlot?”

“It’s your chance to meet him,” the Night Princess winked. “I’ll go whether you come or not, but I feel that this opportunity could be very educational for you.”

Celestia quickly caught on to what her sibling was saying. “My skills are requisite then? You can transform yourself, certainly. Is it because you think ponies will be able to spot you, like your disguise was so much mosquito netting?” Her sister’s head tilted whimsically from side to side, eyes to the ceiling, looking like she had been caught fibbing. “You need me to coach you on how to manage your behavior.”

“Right on all counts!”

“Luna,” Celestia started as she approached her sister. “I work during the day. Tomorrow morning I…”

“Most ponies work during the day!” Luna fired back. “Trust me; I know this all too well.” The uncharacteristically excited Princess briskly walked over to the glass doors that covered her sister’s balcony. “And yet, there they are, playing at night,” she indicated pointing downward with a hoof. “You have given up countless thousands of nights like this one just for our ponies. It’s noble. It’s agreeable. But don’t think that is how things should be until the end of days. Besides, have you not relished a little night fun for yourself every now and then?” Finally, the Day Keeper’s face started to shift. “I know the time is short, and I apologize in advance, but I need your help.”

Celestia paced slowly, weighing the pros and cons of Luna's plan, a long night ahead of her if she accepted. She lived to raise the Sun, and raise it she shall! However, she would surely be tempted to collapse right back into bed. Nevertheless, there had been too many mornings where that was already exactly the case: too much work, not enough time to herself, and quantities of sleep that were all too short. All of it was due to too much demand on her time, and now her sister had made a rare request for her presence. Could she really have refused her, while so many other ponies, institutions, and dignitaries stole away all her time? Without realizing it, Celestia had plodded an errant circle around her very excited sibling. It felt so much better seeing her perky and energetic rather than the reserved, all too serious pony she typically was. She cast an eye on her sister, “So much for showing your lovers your true face, hmm?”

“He is not yet my lover.”

The pensive Princess sagely nodded. “Indeed.” Celestia processed her thoughts just a little more. “More than transformation will be required for this little ruse to work. Your voice must change and your cutie mark shall be blanketed with a false one.” Her sister smiled broadly. “I trust you know how to make your magical aura invisible?” Luna nodded, grinning cheek to cheek. “I suggest you use your spell craft so we may communicate mind to mind, just for tonight.” Luna cheerfully nodded. Celestia swallowed her dislike for telepathy in a bid to abandon all barriers to helping her sister this night. “Most difficult will be the art of disguising your mannerisms, for no magic may aid you in the arena of self-expression.”

“You're going to do this?” Luna gushed. “You're really going out for a night on the town with me!” Her body took on a pale appearance and started to glow, and the whine of the influx of a tremendous amount of magical power could be heard, increasing in pitch.

“Yes Luna. I like the idea of doing more for our recreation than playing a chess game.” Celestia activated a similar magical transformation sequence.

“Then let us instantiate the great veil over the rulers of Equestria,” Luna suggested, smiling wickedly. Her eyes and body radiated white hot.

A serpentine, blue-white ribbon of magic coiled around the bodies of both princesses.

“By all means,” said a now brilliantly glowing Celestia. “Let’s!”

A flash of light and colour followed the princess’ spell casting, and their transformations were underway.

=^.^=

Ravage filed through a glut of ponies with Flitter leading, the noise of conversation and background music making it difficult to hear each other. His head was suspended over her rump as he kept close. Though it was rare and interesting to watch, he was glad her anger had subsided.

Entering the establishment was a surprise in itself, as from the street it was identifiable only by a single unassuming door with a dark wooden sign hanging over it. The use of low light, and lacquered, reddish wooden furniture made the place somehow comfortable, in spite of the constricting forces. Several photographs and mementos hung off the walls. Servers were valiantly trying to transport trays of drinks and snacks.

“This way!” she directed, as she guided her date to a booth where four other ponies were settling down. Flitter looked upon the expectant pack. “This is Ravage,” she said, and indicated him by hoof. “Ravage, this is Octavia and Storm Front.” She looked at the other two mares she’d never seen before. “And friends!”

Storm Front gestured to the new faces. “Hyacinth, and Indigo Light,” he said, the mares smiling at the new arrivals. “We sort of got the last booth at the same time. Been chillin’ ever since.”

Storm Front was a lanky pegasus stallion. He sported the same confident swagger that did Ravage’s construction worker associates. “Pleased to meet ya,” he addressed as Ravage met his hoof bump. And were those – earrings? Not to be outdone by merely having the shiny gold rings on his ears, he had them on his left nostril and bottom lip as well. As Rarity might have pointed out, they went with his golden brown coat. Like the infiltrating Decepticon, he had a black mane, but with a rainbow of colours on the edges of each of his locks. Actually, his mane seemed almost messy for a pony, as if it were organized chaos.

“Hiiii.” gushed an overly ecstatic greeting from Indigo Light. Her almost alien, dark blue eyes and equally dark blue mane were in stark contrast to the deco blue coat of the unicorn mare. Two thin streaks of pink in her weightless forelock reminded Ravage of the neon lights back on Earth. A ‘ponytail’ (do they really call them that?) of mane erupted from the back of her head, alight with more pink streaks; both of her ponytails were adorned with bright green bows where they attached to the body. And then, she up and hugged him! Lovingly! She crammed her face into his neck with such force he had to adjust his posture so he could breathe properly. By some miracle her horn didn’t wound the flesh.

“Octavia,” the smiling grey earth pony mare identified herself, with her discourse coloured by an ‘accent’. Ravage met her hoof bump with Indigo Light still attached to his body like a parasite. The grey mare carried herself differently from the others, exuding confidence like Storm Front, but her posture was perfect, giving her a commanding presence among her peers. Indeed, Ravage noticed that many ponies tended to slouch, though not himself. The perfectly centered pink bow and white collar on her neck added to her authoritarian stance.

“Okay, I’ll let you go now,” Indigo said, and then proceeded to sit down as if nothing happened.

“Hyacinth,” the other unicorn mare spoke, indicating to herself with a foreleg. Her huggy counterpart had sat down between her and Ravage. She was very colourful, with a violet coat, green eyes, and a two-toned blonde and orange mane. Added to that was a white flower wedged between her mane and right ear which had large pointy petals and leaves– a lily?

Yet more database entries were made as Ravage processed the whack of new information. He and Flitter sat down across from each other, Indigo beside him, and Storm beside the Ponyville pegasus. Hyacinth and Octavia were in the corners of the booth.

“We're all going to the party tonight?” Storm asked, having his query quickly verified by the mares, including Flitter. “Hey, you know where we're going, right?” he asked Ravage directly.

“Dancing?” Ravage’s simplistic response earned chuckles from every pony in the group.
He was told that he'd be meeting up with Flitter’s friends, and then they'd be going dancing after. It was suspicious, he felt, that dancing was the only activity discussed for the upcoming party.

“Oh, did I forget to mention? We're going to the Warehouse for dancing,” Flitter said with a wink.

The Decepticon's glazed expression earned looks of surprise from the other ponies, which in turn really bothered him, which in turn yielded more giggles. A warehouse was a storage unit, but this particular warehouse seemed to have more to it.

Octavia reached out with a foreleg to get the noob's attention. “Have you heard of Vinyl Scratch?”

Ravage recalled the DJ from the Libido Nocta party. “The name rings a bell.”

Storm Front shook his head, chuckling, and looked upon Ravage like he were a cadet, “Dude, you have no idea what you're getting into.”

“He’s a tough stallion, he can get through it,” Flitter retorted, nudging Storm with her foreleg.

A server came with six drinks, all in large, frosted glass mugs; all the same drink. It was the fabled white cider.

“To partying hard!” Flitter toasted, and all six clinked their glasses together.

“To parties!” screamed Indigo, while the other ponies echoed Flitter’s toast. She seemed out of place for having really enunciated the ‘t’.

Ravage had long since learned the custom from Pearl Bliss’ party, but said nothing. It appeared that he was to have his third party, and within the space of a week. Ponies sure expended a lot of energy on gatherings! The infiltrator thought of the food that would be available, and it made him smile.

Storm Front downed his cider quickly and piled some boxes onto the table. Hyacinth levitated them so they were somewhat evenly distributed between the six ponies. Upon opening up one of the containers, Storm tilted it and several coloured rods spilled out. Applying pressure with his hoof, he broke them all at once, making an audible crunch as he did so. Then they started to glow!

Ravage looked on with curiosity, as the other ponies began to process the coloured rods the same way.

“Ravage,” spoke his date trying to get his attention. She had assembled a green and purple ‘glowstick’ in her hooves she had bowed into a horseshoe. “Gimme your leg!” she demanded. He did so, and was surprised to see the glowing green and purple loop installed upon it. In fact, her entire pile of glowing matter seemed to be composed of green and purple.

As the hour went on, every pony at the table engaged themselves in constructing elaborate designs with the glowsticks. Round after round of white cider accompanied the laughter and merry making, each pony paying in turn. Storm Front actually managed to create a reasonable likeness of ‘The Wonderbolts’ insignia, or so the mares had claimed, and wore it around his neck. Hyacinth made rainbow baskets which hung around her neck, torso, and legs, but also wore coloured beads referred to as ‘rock kandi’. Indigo enchanted her collection of blue rings and things so that a ghostly trail of blue light followed her motions. She also enchanted several of Octavia’s pink glowsticks so they formed neat little treble clefs. Ravage wasn’t idle either, having been called into the service of Flitter to sculpt various designs consisting of green and purple. Interestingly, she was adamant that they were for both of them.

Great quantities of cider meant a great number of bathroom trips, and this shuffled the group around. By the time Ravage sat beside Octavia, his own glow units were finished. Under Flitter’s direction, they had fashioned hexagonal frames for their necks, legs, torsos, and even tail bases.

“Ravage, is it?” Octavia verified with the big stallion nodding the affirmative, giving her a crooked, mischievous grin. Pink treble clefs connected to white glowsticks hung from all over her body. The clefs on her ears exaggerated her otherwise modest head tilt. “Did your parents name you that?” Another nod gave Octavia a cheery chuckle. “They must know something I don’t.”

“Oh, what do you mean?” Ravage liked talking to Octavia, and enjoyed hearing her crystal clear diction and accent.

“Well,” the grey mare continued as she tidied up her area, “It sounds like the kind of name ponies gave their foals during extended periods of war.” The stallion’s brow went up; she had hit a nerve! “Yet, Flitter says you’re in construction, not military training,” she ended with a look of faux puzzlement.

“Well maybe I am – military,” Ravage toyed. His eyes partially brightened at what he actually just said. He knew that ponies sometimes referred to alcohol as social lubricant, and now he understood why. Wanting to steer the conversation away from anything that might reference his Decepticon life, he opened up the music database. In green font and formatting, an inset screen appeared in the top right corner of his vision. Having no information on treble clefs was troubling him.

Octavia chuckled. “You’ve got the body for it.” She tossed back a swig of cider. “You can probably guess what I do for a living.”

“Practice your scales and arpeggios?”

For a moment, Octavia was frozen with surprise before letting loose a jovial laugh. She extended her head to see around the so-called construction worker. “I like him! Flitter, can we keep him?”

Flitter really appreciated that Ravage was able to shake up her icy symphony mare buddy. “As long as I get first dibs!” she shouted.

In another corner of the pub, a small table with a single, hooded occupant had been watching the group of six closely. Sipping slowly at her ‘hydra’, a strong green drink, Aster had also been mouth writing. The exhaustive assembly of their glowsticks was a good clue, but the presence of Vinyl Scratch’s girlfriend was a dead give-away, and she had long since deduced where they were preparing to head off too. The spy rolled up the parchment she had been writing on and placed it in a green tube hidden by her cloak. In a flash of green light, the message was on its way.

No more white cider had appeared for a while, and the group finished up what was on the table. After a last round of bathroom visits they left for the Warehouse, leaving any Canterlot elite unlucky enough to cross their paths gawking at the gaggle of rainbow lights.

=^.^=

Ravage didn’t say much during the short trip to the Warehouse, while the other ponies were loud and exuberant. He used the satellites to observe Luna’s tower for activity, and there seemed to be none.

He hardly knew they had arrived, as the Warehouse was an unassuming building, but the two stallion guards that accepted everyone’s rather ornate tickets indicated that there was more going on.

Inside, a repetitive, low frequency rich kind of music cycled through the sound system. Indigo Light, Hyacinth, and Storm Front galloped into the area called a ‘dance floor’ and began their unpredictable torso gyrations. Flitter continued a conversation with Octavia they had been having for the last ten minutes. Ravage was ignoring them.

The interior looked like the Libido Nocta party one hundredfold! A great, vast space it was, like a gymnasium. Dozens of light-emitting devices occupied the dark place, along with a pair of reflective globes that hung from the ceiling. The side opposite the entrance was adorned with tables, chairs, and couches; stairwells rose up from behind. Another side had a serving station, a ‘bar’, like the one from the previous establishment. Opposite from that, a control room was suspended over the floor. One could faintly see a pony moving from within it. The side they just came in from had the exit, as well as stairs that led to other levels beside the dance room.

Ravage closely observed all the walls, and quickly became very concerned. He couldn’t believe what he wasn’t seeing!

No food tables.’ He sighed in disappointment.

“This way, Ravage,” Flitter gestured. The dating ponies followed Octavia up the stairs.

Ravage kept his eyes askew as he followed Flitter and Octavia up, avoiding the full, unobstructed view of Flitter's rear end. The unplanned presentation should have made his stomach turn, but the way things were going even this abysmal piece of pony anatomy may catch his eye. If he didn’t get off this planet soon, he may end up like Flitter, who just kept looking into Octavia without a care. It took another five turns in the hallways to finally enter the room they were heading for.

The same music that was playing on the dance floor was playing inside the room, which turned out to be the DJ’s inner sanctum, but at a volume where conversation could occur unimpeded. The jagged, multifaceted area was full of instrumentation and furniture that rose up from the floors, hung from the walls and ceiling, and reeked of booze. It was only slightly more brightly lit than the big room the trio first entered.

Octavia suddenly galloped to the white unicorn that was operating some equipment, who seemed equally pleased to see the earth pony.

“Mah mare!” yelled Vinyl Scratch, like she hadn’t seen any ponies in ten years. She and Octavia shared a loving hug before quietly speaking with each other for a couple of minutes. Vinyl took a good look at Flitter and Ravage, lifting her glasses up with a hoof.

“Hey ponies.” Her tone was rife with mischief, and it matched her crooked, smiling expression.

Flitter was unmoved by the unicorn’s bearing. “We meet again.”

“Hi.” Ravage was shaken a bit by Vinyl’s piercing magenta eyes.

“Welcome to our humble abode. Enjoy the dancing. Get yourselves some drinks. And then, we afterparty,” the DJ insinuated, sneakily rubbing her hooves together. “I just want a few minutes with Ravage, if it’s alright with you two.”

“Sure thing,” responded Flitter.

The confused stallion bot gave a yearning look toward Flitter. Ever since they arrived in Canterlot, she did her best to keep the other females away. But this female, this DJ, seemed to easily get the protective pegasus to relinquish control. Was this another dating rule?

“You’ll be fine, Ravage.”

Flitter’s wink did not make him feel any safer.

“I’ll be back in twenty minutes with some drinks,” spoke Octavia, also seemingly unaware of Ravage’s confusion.

=^.^=

“Weeeeee!” Pinkie Pie yelled as she cartwheeled into the Warehouse.

Rainbow Dash was taking baby steps, stunned and open-jawed at the sight. “How did you get tickets for this?!” You couldn’t easily buy tickets for the Warehouse, which were mostly offered, or bartered for. Nevertheless, her widening smile made it clear that she was pleased.

“I’ve helped Vinyl Scratch a few times with DJing,” Pinkie explained. “She gave me those tickets as a way of saying thanks.”

“Okay, colour me impressed,” Dash admitted, amazed at her friend’s acquisition abilities. “Just gotta get some glowsticks.”

“Got ‘em right here.” Pinkie buried her face in her saddlebag, and fished out a box of the colourful party favours with her mouth.

Rainbow’s opinion of Pinkie Pie kept getting higher and higher. “Pinkie Pie, you’re amazing,” she praised while patting her friend on the back.

=^.^=

The door of the public washroom flew open as the two mares who went in to freshen up made off for the dance floor in a trot. The only sign of life in the now empty room was the thin rod of bluish light sandwiched between the door and the floor. Curiously, the light turned white, and got brighter and brighter, enough to light up the opposing wall and door to the stallions’ washroom. As quickly as it happened, everything returned to normal.

And then two more mares exited the washroom.

Luna giggled squeakily as she walked toward the attenuated thumping sound of the dance music. “I can hardly believe it, Sister. We’re almost there!”

Celestia looked up at her taller, very well disguised sibling. “Just remember what I told you. Also, I’d like to add that dropping ‘sister’ when you refer to me when other ponies are around will help.”

“Of course! I’m not a foal.” Luna looked down at Celestia, impressed with her camouflage. “And thanks for this. You don’t know how much this means to me.”

The music got louder and louder, and the great room burgeoned with excitement as the princesses got closer. A smile crossed Celestia’s new face. “The pleasure is all mine. I’m glad you dragged me out of bed for this.”

=^.^=

Vinyl poured liquor into some small glasses, levitating one of the beverages over to a table where she asked Ravage to sit. “You know, for a wall flower you sure do grab a lot of attention.” She regarded him closely with her hoof under her chin, and then acted surprised, as if she discovered something. “Aha!”

Ravage knitted his eyebrows in trying to understand his musical host.

“You’re a big puppy!”

“A puppy?” Ravage was now genuinely confused.

“Yeah,” she confirmed as she levitated the potent brew onto Ravage’s hoof. “Cute. And loyal too, judging by how you’ve been sticking to Flitter this evening, and...” She downed her drink.

The pony bot downed his, trying to mimic the same carefree way. He immediately coughed violently, and had to raise a hoof to his mouth while desperately trying to get is breathing under control.

Vinyl giggled. “Watching you is like watching a puppy at play. It's fun! Can I assume that your dancing needs work?”

Ravage realized that he was being assessed. For what purpose, he couldn’t even guess. “Your assumption is correct. I’m a terrible dancer,” he said difficultly, his throat still hurting from that drink.

“So if you didn’t come here to dance, what did you come here for?” She looked smug, not at all like an interrogator.

The befuddled Decepticon was tiring of the way these mares talked, seldom making any sense. “Flitter acquired tickets and brought me here.”

“Exactly!” She gave her puzzled guest another shot glass full of drink. “And you’re welcome, by the way.”

Ravage looked at another potent vial of liquid on his hoof, this time a different colour. Vinyl drank hers without so much as a hiccup. The Decepticon regarded the drink with disdain. Expecting another coughing fit, he drank up the toxic brew as fast as his hostess. This time, his breathing was temporarily halted as the vile fluid burned its way down. Holding his throat in pain, “Thanks,” he croaked.

“Another?”

“No!” His whole world became the river of fire raging in his esophagus. “I mean – no, thank you.”

The DJ laughed at Ravage’s predicament. “Here’s some water,” she offered, levitating a glass of it toward her guest, who eagerly drank it up. She then trotted over to her collection of vinyl records, and picked out an album with a colourful cover.

Ravage was feeling much better after dousing with water, almost like nothing happened.

“Check it out,” the slinky white mare invited, holding the album to his face.

It took all Ravage’s will to not avert his eyes from ‘Buttaface’ which proudly displayed the musician’s posterior, bisected by a pink bow and her tail hanging down in the middle of it. The disproportionately small musician’s head could be seen looking over her shoulder from the top and left of the left gluteal complex. Vinyl Scratch was excited about her ‘homegirl’s’ production, and described in detail how it made ponies so randy that they stayed up all night long doing – well, doing things Ravage was never meant to do.

“And Ah’m gonna play it,” she proclaimed loudly, stowing the infernal disc on one of her many turntables before turning around and winking at her dishy guest, “Just for you.”

Ravage’s urge to leave was strong, but the disc had not yet started playing.

“I’ll be back in a few, Puppy,” she spoke as she deftly avoided equipment and tables of empty glasses, and musical minutia. “Gotta fetch Flitter and Octavia. You can handle three little mares, can’t ya?”

Ravage gawked.

Vinyl laughed before exiting, closing the door behind her.

Transforming into robot mode, Ravage went for his sidearm, and pointed it directly at the console, specifically at that damnable disc, the death knell to his Decepticon identity! He halted, trying to think of another way – and maybe there was another way.

“Analytical mode,” he dictated, as he interfaced with the Decepticon network database. Using both passive and active sensors, he took in data about the control console. The network quickly deduced its function, parameters, and how to operate it. In an inset on top of his vision, a block diagram of the device was constructed, taking only a few seconds.

“One of these units is used for recording,” Ravage observed. Indeed, a device with a recording head was connected to the mixing unit. Closer inspection of the area revealed a stack of discs that bore a remarkable resemblance to the vinyl discs on the turntable array, except that there was no etching on them. Blank discs.

The turntables did not spin using electric motors, as they would have done almost anywhere else in the galaxy, but used magic to turn them. Ravage couldn’t interface.

Analysing one of the pre-recorded discs playing for the vigorously dancing ponies, the rotation speed and the distances between the grooves gave the spy enough data to act. He placed one of the blank discs on the recording turntable, which he found was able to spin freely and with almost no aberration. His right hand was retracted into the forearm, and using the micro machinery in the forearms that all Transformers have, a recording needle was produced. It helped that Ravage’s connection to Soundwave allowed him to specialize in audio manipulations.

He pressed down the blank disc with two fingers and a thumb with his other hand, and spun the disc literally by turning his hand like a gear. Ravage accessed one of the clusters from the data track “Screaming Angry Earth Music” and routed one of the music assemblies to his recording head. Syncing the data rate with the revolutions, he spun the disc faster and faster, reaching over ten times the normal playback speed, which he hoped was still slow enough to avoid overheating. It took only a few minutes to finish recording. He had a fair grasp of human music as well as pony music, and knew that the material he was copying had no analog in Equestria. He counted on it to be so jarring it would disrupt and prevent the night's dance inspired frivolity.

Five subdivisions, or songs, were loaded onto one side of the disc, and five on the other. He peeled off the labels from the Buttaface disc using the same small grippers he used when he had his first meal with his pony body. He put them on his new record, and then swapped the records.

Holding the offensive defaced album to eye level, his red eyes glowed white hot. “Bye bye, Buttaface,” he spoke in triumph, as searing beams blasted the dance tunes disc, reducing it to nothing. Only a slight odour remained.

=^.^=

“You’re sure he’s not gay?” Octavia questioned, walking with her friends back to the control room.

“Oh no. I asked my gay friends and they feel he is most definitely not,” Flitter explained. “I’m also sure he would have told us if he had any significant others by now.”

“Yeah, I don’t get that vibe from him, either. But I do like a challenge.” Vinyl and her girlfriend had been made aware of Ravage’s ‘shyness,’ though her recent exchange with him made her think that something else was barricading mares from getting too close to him.

Octavia continued pondering. “Could he have a tragic history? Something that afflicted him in his childhood?” the inquisitive grey mare suggested.

“That’s what I was thinking,” Flitter agreed.

“Aww, does that mean that magical restraint is out?” Vinyl gave her friends a mischievous look.

“I had a dream involving Ravage in magical bindings last week,” Flitter recalled wistfully, “And then Canterlot exploded.”

“Sounds hot!”

“It was!” The pegasus mare wouldn’t be forgetting that dream anytime soon.

The trio entered the control room, and saw Ravage examining the mixing board closely.

“Like what ya see?” The stallion guest’s curiosity gave Vinyl an idea.

“Yes,” Ravage answered as if only partially paying attention to the mares. “This device is fascinating.” He tried applying his knowledge of sound systems to his new found knowledge of how magic may be manipulating the audio signals.

“Anypony wanna lay down a few tracks?” Vinyl suggested.

Octavia conveniently coughed. “As the only qualified musician here, I whole-heartedly endorse that idea.”

“Flitter?”

The pegasus mare’s face lit up. “I can sing!” she proclaimed with a bounce.

“My cello is in the back closet, and I can sing too,” Octavia added.

“My singing kills babies, so I’ll just operate the sound board,” Vinyl decided. “Ravage, can you sing?”

The Decepticon pony gave her a look, as if he had just been asked to walk into the fiery molten pools of The Pit.

“Yeah,” Vinyl verified, nodding slowly. She really didn’t mean to make him squirm, but it sure was fun to watch. “Why not perform a duet with your date?” She gestured to Flitter who had just assumed an alluring pose

What did she just ask?! “I – I can’t sing,” he retorted fearfully. The other ponies chuckled at his expense. “Seriously, I’ve never sang before.”

“Ravage,” began Octavia in an almost pleading manner, “Ponies will appreciate a rich baritone voice like yours. Why deny them?”

“Yeah, and alongside an alto like Flitter – mmph!” the unicorn DJ trumpeted, gesturing with her forelegs in a grasping manner, “That’ll be irresistible!”

Starscream designed Ravage’s voice modulation tissues for communication, nothing more! Ravage had computed many different scenarios that could have ended up happening this evening, and should have seen this coming. Ponies had a massive propensity for music. His face continued showing fear and surprise, what was he going to do?

Octavia strode forward, putting herself in front of flustered stallion. “You’ve never sung before?” The stallion bot shook his head. “Not even in school?”

“No.” Ravage looked away from the symphonic mare, feeling very uncomfortable.

“Ravage, if you could do me the pleasure of letting me try to show you how to sing tonight, I would be most honored,” Octavia offered, her hoof on his shoulder indicating the seriousness of the suggestion.

The exacerbated stallion had no idea to respond to that, and just kept looking at Octavia. Of all the ponies he’d met till then, she was one he learned to respect quickly. To say it would be hard to deny her request was an understatement.

“Just repeat after me,” the intervening mare commanded. “Ahhhh.” It was a specific tone.

It seemed simple enough for the Decepticon. “Ahhhh,” he copied, matching the note exactly, only in his much deeper voice.

“Ahhhh,” sang Octavia, one tone higher, which her impromptu student copied just as easily. She didn’t want to mention that his voice contained zero crackling, or interferences of any kind. That would be useful later. She sang more tones, and Ravage copied them. Before long, they were practicing in unison.

Soon, the uncertain stallion and his improvised music teacher managed to traverse an octave – together. An unexplained, euphoric wave passed through the studious pony bot’s body. He couldn’t identify what it was; the earth pony mare just kept teaching. Did he like what the ponies were getting him to do?

Secretly corroborated by the network database, Octavia reviewed the basics of music construction in Equestria. Simplistic it was, and the reticent Decepticon picked it up very quickly. The crash course took little more than ninety minutes.

This newly unearthed ability amazed the mares.

“Would you like to try some lyrics?” Octavia offered, trying very hard to keep from fan-girling at what an amazing study Ravage was.

Perhaps he had learned to ignore the gaudy glowsticks infesting his body, or maybe it was because he was the only Decepticon with proper vocal cords, but Ravage had stopped thinking of the absurdity of a Transformer singing, if only temporarily. He was still feeling the effects of the enlightenment of just practicing an octave with his treble clef toting mentor. “Okay.”

Many moons, and many nights…” Octavia began. Her pupil easily repeated the phrase, tone for tone. “Try to sing to the ponies in the back, Ravage,” she taught, pointing to the dance room. “It should feel like it’s coming from your gut.” He repeated the verse, but this time he was able to really project.

Vinyl was shaking her head in awe, operating her control board and manipulating the music on the dance floor. She was also recording Ravage and Octavia’s learning session. “Ravage, was your dad a sound board?” she joked.

He actually laughed. “You could say that, yes. Very talented.”

Octavia finished teaching the lyrics of the short song to Ravage. “It’s a song about a pegasus mare looking for her lost love, just in case you were wondering. They met briefly in a cherry tree orchard she was working in, and she fell in love. Deciding that collecting fruit was more important than pursuing him, she finished the day’s work first. However, after that he was gone. Not willing to be denied, she searched for him; first locally, then in an ever expanding range. She flew so far, and for so long that many say she actually went around the world,” she explained. “But never found him.”

Ravage felt a twinge of agony for the character, and then had a full understanding of the song’s title, ‘Cherry Moon.’

“Would you care the sing it for us?” the smiling symphonic mare asked.

Not wanting to waste the time spent, Ravage began to sing in earnest, much to the joy of his three cohorts. And then, a second voice joined in – Flitter!

The duet was underway, as both ponies sang with emotion. Ravage appreciated the somber feel of the tune, finding it counter to the ponies’ flowery world.

The end of the song was a crescendo, which seemed to amplify the sadness. It was over quickly, and only the subdued noise from the dance room could be heard. He noticed Vinyl Scratch was grinning at him; Octavia had an open jawed look of pleasure; Flitter he managed to unknowingly cradle in his arms. She looked upon him like he was a hero.

“Oh Ravage, you’re wonderful!” she praised, hugging him tightly, and rubbing her head into his neck.

The Decepticon spy could hardly believe it either. Transformers were explorers by nature, and could be frequently found in areas of the galaxy they had never been in before. But this – this was a frontier that none of his people could have ever even imagined exploring, and Ravage stood upon the precipice. He felt a natural fear of it, like if he let himself fall into it, he would not be able to withstand its irresistible pull.

Octavia also seemed emotionally charged up, and had begun softly kissing Vinyl’s neck as she sought an outlet.

“Uh, why don’t you two enjoy the dance floor for a while? We’ll come get ya,” Vinyl requested.

Flitter gestured to her date with a knowing look, and they left the musical mares to themselves.

=^.^=

It was nighttime in Ponyville, an interval of quiet for ponies. The hushed whispering of the trees in the wind mixed softly with the calls of the nocturnal creatures.

All but one of the town’s denizens slept peacefully.

Pumpkin Cake struggled fitfully in her sleep, desperately trying to wake up, but so tired she couldn’t. She was dreaming…

A misty, featureless surface; an orange sky without air; an apprehensive baby unicorn trying to crawl in the opposite direction of any movement she sees.

A copse of trees appeared from out of the ether. Trees were nice, and the youngling kept a steady pace toward them. But then, a flock of silvery creatures blew through the trees at high speed. Wrenching, splintering wood erupted as the trees were shattered to dust. Returning to the sky, the creatures banked left trying to turn around, a soot trail spewing from each one.

The foal turned and fled in the other direction as fast as her crawling could take her. Her solution did not last long as the flying creatures and their filigree of soot trails slowly began to block her escape. They had the look of ponyquins made of crinkly tin foil.

Shivering with fear, the foal backed away from her pursuers. The hazy dreamscape had become overrun with the shriveled ponyquins as they floated around and encircled the young filly. Try as she might, she could not scream, as more and more of the alien figures surrounded her.

‘Begone!’ a stallion’s voice commanded, and the swarm of harassers backed off like they had just been kicked. Two armored ponies, a unicorn and a pegasus, landed firmly between the dreamer and the frightening ponyquins.

The child’s tormentors did not back off very far, however, and incoming legions made their numbers larger and denser. Finally, they started combining into a writhing, hissing mass of soot and ponyquins.

The armored ponies knew that anything this aggressive was not only rare, it was also very, very bad. It was worse than a nightmare!

The mare turned to the filly. ‘Wake up, little one!’ she pleaded.

She could not, and lay catatonic with her eyes averted, for she could not shut them.

‘Contact Princess Luna!’ the mare yelled hurriedly.

The stallion nodded, and his eye jewel scintillated a bright blue light as he attempted communication with their commander.

=^.^=

Ravage yet again tried to eke out an existence on the dance floor. Though doing his best, he was able to manage only the simplest of maneuvers. It went without saying that pretty much every other pony harboured more skill in this field, even foals. His date dialed her moves down to around the level of his ability, and it didn’t seem to bother her. In fact, she was thrilled to be with the novice dancer, and always encouraged him to pick up his pace, or try another technique.

Suddenly, Flitter’s face filled with surprise and joy. Surely the pony bot didn’t do anything so impressive to warrant such a reaction. In fact, it was Cloudchaser who made a sudden appearance, and the excited mare bounded up and hugged her long time pegasus friend with great force. Checking the saddlebag her buddy just carried in, Flitter became most pleased as she held her hoofs to her jaw. She quickly went back to her beau.

“Ravage, do you want to wait on the side for a few minutes?”

“I can wait, but don’t you think I should practice?” he yelled back, against the loud music. Whatever Cloudchaser brought sure got her friend’s attention.

Flitter gave his suggestion a couple of seconds of thought and agreed. “Okay, but don’t get into any trouble, sweetie!” she said, before kissing his cheek and trotting off with her pegasus friend. Being left alone off the dance floor put him in the line of fire of a lot of unpaired mares, but she felt she could trust him.

It felt odd for him to dance by himself, as he was usually dependent on his partner for timing. Stumbling his way through the regimen of dance moves he was learning, another mare filled the gap left by Flitter, and then another. He kept dancing, somewhat perturbed by the presence of an interloping unicorn and pegasus, and hoped his purple and green glowsticks would be the sigil they were supposed to be. Notwithstanding, they did prevent his cutie mark getting rubbed by that of a complete stranger’s. Secretly, he wished that one of these dance partners had been Fluttershy, whom he knew he could trust.

Luna couldn’t help but get close to her love interest, especially after searching much of the building for him. It was only dancing, right? She couldn’t help but steal glances at his dancing form, the superb musculature making up for the clumsy execution. There was nothing wrong with looking at a pony, right? Through the magical connection the Princess could feel that Ravage was genuinely happy this night. This only encouraged her further.

Looking from across the room, Celestia noticed her sister was about to get into trouble, and break her own rules in the process. Easily maintaining the conversation with the stallion she was talking to, she chastised her sibling telepathically – except that she couldn’t make the connection! It was then that she remembered one of the weaknesses of assuming a new pony form: the covering up of one’s cutie mark with another confounded telepathic communication.

Error Port 17, 228: Unauthorized Access

Incoming Video Message

Ravage kept trying to dance as this bizarre new form of interruption carried out. How would Luna annoy him this time? A video message should have been a boon for the Decepticon, perhaps finally being contacted by Cybertron, but this one was unauthorized just like all the others.

An inset screen appeared in the top right corner of his vision. Some sort of pulsating metal thing occupied the center view. Erring on the side of caution, the stallion bot had the battle network analyse it.

Princess Luna, we need assistance!

I am not Princess Luna,’ the Decepticon’s disembodied voice responded in the dream realm. This was already too weird for words.

The guards briefly gave each other a shocked look, still maintaining a defensive blockade between the dream creatures and Pumpkin Cake.

Who goes there?’ demanded Feral Flight.

The stallion bot needed to understand the nature of the message. ‘Who I am is not important. Why you have decided to interfere with my progress is.

Pattern Detected: Forty point pentagonal fractal. The battle network highlighted an area where a multitude of the crinkly creatures had been circling around. With there being several hundred of them flying randomly, it would have been very difficult to detect them without network assistance.

You seem to be in a spot of trouble,’ Ravage quipped.

Either call Princess Luna, or leave us to our fate, foul knave!’ Scorched Earth scolded. ‘Know that the mind of a child is at stake!

The massing creatures started taking on the appearance of an amoeba, with globs of it swinging out from the main gathering, becoming more and more threatening.

Ravage saw that there was a terrified filly and two adults between her and the monstrosity that was developing. ‘I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a pattern to their flight, lower and to the left of the center.’ And then, Ravage figured it out: this was a dream – the foal’s dream! That’s why it looked familiar, for the pony bot had experienced the otherworldly feel of dreams. That’s why the adult ponies requested Luna’s presence. ‘Look for the floral pattern; like a daisy, but with forty petals,’ he added.

Feral tested the strange information, and she could see it! ‘He speaks truthfully!’ She saw her partner gawk and nod in understanding. He saw it as well.

Good. Now blow it up!’ The two adults just stood there, not believing what was said. ‘Pegasus, draw its fire by flying in close quarters. Use evasive maneuvers and try to keep its attention on you. Unicorn, protect the asset by carrying it with you. Look for an opening on its flank. When the enemy is sufficiently distracted, open fire! Try to hit the center of the daisy.

Princess Luna isn’t coming, is she,’ Scorched Earth said abysmally.

Do I sound like Princess Luna!?’ Ravage snapped back.

There was no time for any more words as an amoebic limb thrust itself upon the dreaming trio.

Back at the Warehouse, ponies danced around the stallion bot. To the onlooker, he appeared to be focusing on the wall behind them with a wide-eyed, absent look.

“Hey Spacey,” prodded a very unexpected mare with a multicoloured mane.

Ravage was watching the dreaming ponies scatter, trying to avoid their amoebic enemy, as they had taken his advice. Refocusing on the real world around him he noticed Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie had been trying to drive themselves in between the unknown mares. “I was trying to focus,” he covered. “And uh, hi.”

Pinkie got in close and whispered, “Don't worry, we'll protect you!”

The familiarity the pink mare was exhibiting caused the unicorn to give up and leave, but the tall, tan-coated pegasus only fell back one pace. Her plume of straight, platinum blonde mane wafted in rhythmic waves to her seductive hoofwork.

Ravage had trouble keeping his eye on both worlds, but the sudden appearance of Pinkie and Dash made him feel secure enough to observe the dream world more closely.

Feral ducked and dodged the roiling, bubbling mass, and expertly managed to buck some of the tin foil ponyquins into dust. This angered the monster, and its very center of gravity seemed to shift as more blobs of tin foil went after the pegasus guard. With skill that would make a Wonderbolt hopeful jealous, she eluded every assault launched by their foe.

Scorched Earth was running at top speed, at least as fast as one can run in a dream, with Pumpkin Cake in his magical grasp. The ‘Voice’s’ plan seemed to be working, and he charged up his horn, taking care not to enrage the creature any further. Opportunity presented itself, as the center of the daisy was briefly exposed.

The unicorn warrior blasted the target! Judging by the freezing and sudden collapse of the ponyquin monster, it was as effective, but then the thing melted and assumed a new form.

Melting, shaping, and congealing, a new pony mode appeared. This one was a dark shade of blue, gleaming and metallic. Several strands of metal ribbon fluttered down from some sort of saddle, and more such ribbons formed the mane and tail, and could be found above the hooves. Small daisy flowers adorned the edges of the saddle, and flank. A pair of dark pink discs occupied the arches of its cheeks. To be honest, it wasn’t frightening anymore.

Suddenly it exploded! Feral Flight and Scorched Earth turned away from the blast wave, but Pumpkin Cake seemed to be anticipating it. It started raining candy!

The giggling little foal would have danced if she could, as her forelegs were joyously flung up, greeting the saccharine rain.

=^.^=

Back in Ponyville, Sweet Leaf put her books down and went to comfort the Cake foals. Strange noise that wasn't crying came from Pumpkin, and it had ignited crying from her brother. To the foal sitter’s surprise, Pumpkin Cake was laughing.

=^.^=

Ravage lost the signal and the video inset ended. Was Luna predisposed? Even absent? His satellites couldn't find her, and being night meant he shouldn't use his small flock of raven androids either. They were stationed near the castle and also couldn't spot the darkly pony.

He knew that message was meant for Luna, not him, and the whole episode was one giant communication error. Puzzlingly, it was him specifically that received the signal, of all the millions of ponies. The Decepticon had no choice but to accept Luna’s claim of a connection between himself and the Night Princess. Now, among all the other mounting problems of trying to coexist in this place, he needed to find a way to sever it.

Accepting Pinkie and Rainbow as dance partners had yielded good defensive results, as the two played off of each other. Consuming a lot of floor space, their elaborate moves also kept other mares away, at least in front of him.

Behind the two Elements, the tan pegasus mare still danced closely. She seemed to float on her hooves, though she was executing only simple moves. The observant pony bot often caught her stealing glances at him, but he was drawn to glancing at her, especially her magnificent mane. Depending on the angle of the light, her mane transitioned from blonde to steel coloured. Her long neck often swirled in opposition to her long, fleecy tail, maintaining an almost unperturbed balance.

He turned on his compass. As expected, the needle immediately found one of the alicorn sisters, pointing through the tan pegasus. However, the armature was shivering in place, which is what it did when it discovered Twilight Sparkle during his first lunch with Bo and Micah. This wasn't surprising. The ruling alicorns were orders of magnitude more powerful than any other ponies, including Twilight, and activating the compass anywhere in Canterlot probably meant a vibrating armature.

=^.^=

Scorched Earth's good eye peaked open, revealing the Dreaming Room from which he and Feral Flight launched their patrol. She was already getting up. Once they established that Equestria’s foals were sleeping peacefully, they made it a priority to find Luna. What high form of sorcery could have possibly intercepted their telepathic communication so casually?

“That rescue wasn’t right,” Feral said. The foal was spared the terrifying nightmare, yes, but that didn't make her feel any less suspicious.

Scorch's eye jewel glowered as he attempted to contact her again, with no results. “I fear we may have to use the Quickpaper.”

Feral frowned at the suggestion. “I think she's gone out tonight. Call it mare’s intuition.”

Scorch nodded in understanding. “I believe you. But do you understand what just transpired?!”

The pegasus warrior pressed her lips bitterly. Though the rumors concerning the Day Keeper were abundant, Princess Luna alone had governance over telepathic powers, and that knowledge was smeared until it had become an urban legend.

=^.^=

Ravage turned off his compass. He felt that either of the ruling alicorns could be on the other side of town and yield the same reading, making the device useless for early warning. Besides, the bright white inset was annoying.

Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie had engaged in an unscripted dance competition, and it had drawn the attention of much of the dance floor. The sleek, muscular pegasus used her wings to execute difficult moves with fluid, athletic skill. The physics-breaking earth pony similarly wowed the dancing spectators with her over-the-top acrobatics. Vinyl Scratch must have seen the dance battle, and adjusted the tunes to incorporate orchestral combat music into the fast paced beat.

In the control room, Octavia gave her girlfriend a lascivious smile as she mixed in one of her classical music albums.

Ravage wanted no part of this, and retreated to the bar. On the opposite end, the tan pegasus mare also slunk away from the ever growing crowd.

Perfect!’ Luna thought. All she needed to do was buy him a drink, and begin a candid conversation. This was almost too easy! When he was looking away, she allowed herself to ogle him, and found it hard not to use her hooves to frame him, as if in a pictorial. She noticed then that magical dust started to swirl directly in front of her. Did she inadvertently release a spell? The tinkling, magical dust got brighter and brighter, and started concentrating in the center of her vision.

Culminating in a bright flash, a scroll with her seal imprinted on it teleported directly in front of her face. Luna quickly grabbed the message in her mouth, and looked left and right. To her relief, Ravage appeared as if he hadn’t seen the scroll teleport in front of her.

=^.^=

Against her desire to converse with the elusive stallion, Luna took the moral high ground and headed for the Mares’ room. She was in the hallway leading to the private spaces when her sister trotted up alongside her.

“An unexpected message, I gather?” the Day Mare teased, finding the scroll jammed between her sibling's ear and mane to have a nerdy appeal.

“Very. I received no more than two of these since my return, and one of them detailed the threat of King Sombra upon the Crystal Empire.”

Celestia's cute discourse suddenly became very serious. “I see.” The sisters walked into the bathroom, the younger of which looked at the bottom of the stalls, and made sure they were alone. “Also, you do realize that your telepathy is disrupted by disguising our Cutie Marks.”

Luna’s eyes rolled to the message still stuck by her ear. “I figured as much.” She took the nearest stall and tried to wave her suddenly apprehensive sister in. “Don't you want to read it?”

Celestia could appreciate that her co-ruler wanted to keep her in the loop but, “What would the other mares think?”

“Whatever they want, it is inconsequential. Now come in,” Luna demanded.

Closing the door behind them in the cramped stall, both mares took to their hind legs as Luna opened the message using her ever potent magic, horn unseen, and they read the contents.

“How can this be?” the Night Princess questioned. Her counterpart’s brow was knitted in concentration. “This doesn't sound like something Discord would do, does it?”

“I doubt it,” Celestia agreed. “Discord prefers grandiose over subtlety, and I’ve never known him to enter the Dream Realm.”

Both girls contemplated the situation when they heard another mare walk into the bathroom.

Cloudchaser snorted at the four hind hooves and two tails dangling on the floor. “Get a room you two!”

Celestia cringed and blushed. Being pressed against her sister’s fur didn't help her feel any better.

The purple pegasus situated herself in front of a mirror. Slowly closing each eye, she checked her mascara, ensuring that every eyelash still floated weightlessly, even with the make-up. Feeling very satisfied with her work also made her feel generous. “Or,” she began, pulling two notes out of her side-bag with her mouth, and depositing them on the floor in the sisters’ stall, “You can come to this thing.”

After the other pony left the room, Luna levitated the papers to Celestia. “Hold these, please.” She then teleported in a piece of parchment, ink, and quill and suspended them in space.

It turned out that the unseen mare had given them a pair of special room passes, which the Solar Diarch held in her magic. “What are you going to do?”

“I'm bringing her in.” She hastily scratched instructions on the parchment.

“Who, the apprentice?” She had only an inkling of what Luna was doing, and didn't like it at all. “Shouldn't we be getting back to the palace? Surely, it is a better place for debriefing.”

Luna smiled wryly and chortled, “No. Nopony in Equestria knows where we are. I would like to maintain that advantage.” She could see her partner wasn’t convinced, yet still teleported in a copy of one a Warehouse admission ticket for that night. “Please stay by my side?” In another flash, she had teleported everything away to their final destinations.

Celestia sighed, hoping that her dark compatriot was right. “Very well.” She read the passes again. The fact they didn’t have any information on what could only be described as an obscure event troubled her.

=^.^=

Ravage finished his drink, and put the glass down by the bar. Pinkie and Rainbow Dash had finished their ‘dance off’, and he had nothing to do. A plume of soft tail was felt brushing up against his haunches. He turned to face the culprit – and gawked. A giggling green-haired pegasus, his date, appeared to enjoy the transfixed reaction. Replacing her glowstick attire were clothing tubes on all four legs, as well as a special unit bound around her waist that covered her reproductive apparatus; it had a hole that her tail was threaded through. The fabric was especially fetching, consisting of frilly crimson and black sections that overlapped each other like roof tile.

Cloudchaser had dawned similar clothes, only hers were sky blue, and shimmered in the light as if refractive dust had been sprinkled over their entire surface area. “Hey lover boy,” she said as she lightly tapped the side of his face with her hoof.

Did he actually… He did! He ogled Flitter! He shook his head free of the spell, disappointed in himself for the lack of self-control. Curse this pony body! A quick evaluation indicated that he probably would have done the same to Cloudchaser if it had been her to alert him with a tail brush. The new clothes they wore somehow increased their appeal. Was it the combination of colours? Was it the highlighting of body parts?

“Rarity made them,” Flitter said, more than satisfied with the quality of the dressmaker’s work, as well as its effectiveness. She slunk a foreleg around the stallion’s withers. “You don’t mind if Cloudchaser dances with us do you?”

“Uh, no.” The spy was honestly surprised he was even being asked. Nevertheless, he developed newfound respect for Rarity, and vowed to study this phenomenon later.

The three of them enjoyed dancing for the next hour. Flitter and her supportive friend were a great help in not only showing him how to dance better, albeit slowly, but he had fun doing it.

=^.^=

Feral Flight was excited even before she came into the Warehouse, but the scene was more than she could have hoped for. Dozens of glowstick-covered, sweaty bodies throbbed in jubilation to the pounding music. The socializing and alcohol combined with the din of laughter made this the best assignment ever! Of course, Scorched Earth was to get the next day off while she and Princess Luna patrolled the Dream Realm, but it would be worth it. Her herd approved, and all she had to do was find Luna, then she could enjoy the festivities.

Tearing her eyes away from the fun she would soon have, she proceeded directly to the place that the Night Princess specified. A couple of stairwells, and three or four hallways later, she arrived.

Entering the room, she tried to flick the lights on, but without success. The door suddenly closed behind her.

“You will not need lights,” the somber voice of Princess Luna reverberated. From behind a stack of old music equipment, a blue hue appeared. It shined more brilliantly when Luna herself walked from behind the pile.

“I – I need to know,” Feral stuttered, “Uh – what goes well with fur and bunny?”

“Eggs and toast, and milk and honey,” Luna replied.

“My Princess!” Feral bowed deeply, ashamed of doubting the regal form of her mentor. Her fears were abated though, as Luna’s gentle laughter calmed her down.

“Rise, my apprentice.” Feral still didn’t look right from asking the code phrase. “Under the circumstances, your actions are admirable.”

“Thank you,” Feral replied as she got up, feeling much better.

Luna needed to know the details of what happened in that night terror, and approached her pupil slowly. “Now, tell me everything.”

And tell the Princess of the Night, she did. Luna didn’t know what to make of it, and she focused hard in concentration, trying to decide if a trap was being laid.

“Princess? I know you probably don’t like anypony eavesdropping on your telepathic conversations, but it didn’t sound malevolent,” Feral Flight offered.

Luna smiled. “Thank you, Feral. That will be all. Go and enjoy yourself.”

Feral returned the smile, and curtseyed. “Princess.”

Once the guard was out the door, Luna used a Reversal spell to resume her previous pegasus form, and left out another door.

=^.^=

The ruling Sisters relaxed on one of the couches in another room away from the noise. Conveniently, they were the only two there.

Celestia spent a good half a minute digesting the information. “Well, whoever it was helped rescue a filly from considerable anguish.”

“Doesn’t it bother you that this meddler refused to identify himself?” Luna rebutted.

“It does. But do you agree that he cannot actually enter dreams?” Establishing the size of the problem was the priority now, for neither Princess had a clue of any being capable of doing such a thing that they didn’t already eliminate.

Luna shook her head slowly. “No, it doesn’t sound like he can.” She looked at her cutie mark of a cloud, sun and wheat shafts blowing in the wind. “I do wonder how much this thing is interfering with my communication though.”

Celestia smiled. “It sounds like you have your answer. When in disguise, be more cautious with telepathy.” Luna hadn’t veiled her true form in many centuries. Seeing her visibly relaxing from the rediscovered wisdom gave the Day Princess the impetus to ask her next question. “Do you think you’ll need me anymore this night?”

“What? Not enough fun for you?” For a moment, Luna was tempted to unleash a plague of spiders as a joke.

“It has been a fantastic night! I’m glad you brought me here,” Celestia defended sincerely.

Luna knew her sister well, and felt satisfied that she had a good time. “You can least come to the room with me? Else, why would only specific ponies get passes?”

“I think only amourous ponies get those passes. But certainly, I will accompany you there. After that, I will take my leave.”

A short walk later, and the Princesses were able to peer into the room.

“Well, it looks like your knowledge of pony behavior trumps all others. I’m impressed.” Luna was not expecting her sibling to be wrong, and it was always a treat to observe her almost prophetic powers of deduction.

Celestia hugged her sister affectionately. “It’s been a pleasure. We simply must do this again sometime.”

“Indeed we shall!” Luna waved goodbye to her departing sibling and friend.

=^.^=

Dodging dancing ponies on the way out, Celestia felt good and decided to treat herself to a walk home tonight. It was then she noticed a cobalt blue pegasus pony with black wing tips; her bluish, silvery mane, and hazel eyes topped off a chiseled military body. But her cutie mark, which exhibited a quartz crystal with two crisscrossing lightning bolts beneath it, was unmistakable. It was Feral Flight. Luna had spoken highly of her, outlining her merits, and in the light of recent events made a convincing argument that she could be trusted with the sensitive information that was wrought by the night’s telepathic faux pas.

Perhaps she would make use of the room pass. It would be a shame to simply throw it away, and her herd had allowed her to come to this den of debauchery in the first place. It seemed like a good reward.

“Excuse me,” Celestia greeted, having found a brief pause in their conversation. While her talking partner seemed annoyed, Feral seemed almost too happy to have the little earth pony interrupt them. “I apologize for interfering, but I’m on my way out, and I was wondering if you could make use of this,” she said as she flashed the room pass.

“Oh yes I can!” replied the thrilled pegasus. She approached the disguised diarch, getting well within her personal space. “Just put it under my wing.” The off duty night guard flexed the powerful appendage while the smaller mare daintily wedged the pass into the space between the wing and body.

She turned to leave when Feral suddenly grasped her in her forelegs, stopping her cold.

“Huuuuugs?” suggested the flamboyant mare.

The tired Princess gently hugged the barrel of her chosen gift recipient, who returned what would be considered by most to be a bone-crushing hug. Luna didn’t forget to mention that Feral had a preference for earth ponies, and hailed from a herd of six that included four earth ponies.

She was intrigued by her earth pony benefactor. Her little body had very limited give to it, and felt like sack of cement. It made her smile widely. “Whoah, you must work on a rock farm!” She thought a bit on that line of conjecture as she let go. “You totally haul boulders. Am I right?”

Celestia laughed at the allegation, walking away from Luna’s well-adjusted apprentice. “Much bigger than that,” she hinted before continuing on her way.

=^.^=

Ravage and his friends finished dancing, and had a couple of drinks. Once again, he was following them into the bowels of the building. Sick of not knowing where he was going in this place, he tasked the satellites to develop a floor plan. Lewd expressions on the faces of his pegasus friends brought on a familiar worrying feeling.

He entered a new room with them, one where over twenty ponies had sat down forming a circle on the floor. In the center was a cone with a bluish glow. It supported, horizontally, a glass bottle on its apex. The pony bot felt that a balancing act like that could only be achieved magically.

Among the seated were Vinyl Scratch, Octavia, and even Indigo Light, who had decided to break off from her non-stop dancing to do this.

The tan pegasus walked in, her lithe form bringing a hush to the conversations. She swooshed her silky tail out of the way and sat down, all in one fluid motion.

“Oh don’t mind me,” the tan one comforted with a smile.

“We don’t mind you,” flirted a random mare.

“That’s the spirit,” Vinyl complemented, Octavia smiling by her side. “I’ll start us off.” Her horn flared, and the spun the bottle around rapidly. Twenty to twenty-five seconds later, it finally stopped – on Cloudchaser.

“What’s it been, six days?” the pegasus quipped as the unicorn DJ moved toward her. She then received a wanton kiss, as their eyes closed and their muzzles mashed together for a few seconds. “Okay, my turn!” the weather mare chirped excitedly. The bottle spun again in response to Vinyl’s magic, and landed on a stallion she didn’t know. It didn’t matter to her, as she enjoyed giving him a simple kiss on the lips.

Ravage closed his eyes, trying to hide his disappointment. Not this again! In only a few minutes, a third of the ponies swapped kisses with each other. How long would it be before he would have to kiss one? Were there any he wanted to kiss? Could Fluttershy withstand be… No! The Decepticon shook his head, and pushed the thought out of cognition.

Pinkie Pie walked into the room, “Oooooh Rainbow Dash, look! Look!” Her hooves were pushed against her chin, and her face was lit up as if she’d been given a mountain of presents on Hearth’s Warming Eve.

“Huh. Spin the Bottle,” Dash stoically replied. She noticed Cloudchaser sitting across from her, grinning smugly. The junior Wonderbolt laughed inwardly, thinking about that awesome prank Cloudchaser received at her hooves just a couple of weeks ago. The look on her face was priceless! And now – she was in a roomful of lusty mares. Oh… Pinkie was eagerly motioning for her to sit down, and she did so.

Rainbow found she was able to take loving mares in small doses, though Twilight had gotten farther than any other. She liked snuggling with Twilight, but only in private quarters, and that was only one mare. Now, she could be on the receiving end of several!

She spotted Ravage with Flitter and Cloudchaser. Those two trouble-makers coming to a thing like this was just like them. Ravage, however, looked out of place. It was subtle, but he almost looked frightened when the bottle was spun, like he didn’t want it to land on him. Why bring him here? Why doesn’t he protest?

Eventually, the bottle landed on Rainbow Dash.

Cloud Kicker eagerly went forth to the perturbed pegasus, only to find her cool attitude supplanted with nervousness. “Awkward?”

“To say the least,” Ponyville’s weather manager said, steeling herself once again.

“Well,” the passionate pegasus began, “You helped me with my weather jobs last Friday.” She put her hooves around her quarry, “Just relax. I’m told I’m really good.” Slowly, she drew her face to Dash’s, and gingerly kissed her upper lip. Parting with a smile, she sat back down again.

Rainbow was thankful that was all Kicker did. In the affairs of love and lust she was most infamous.

“Ready to go?” Vinyl asked.

“Ready,” Dash said firmly. The bottle spun once more, this time landing on the tan pegasus across from her.

Luna smiled with anticipation as the streamlined Wonderbolt approached her, but then she received only a quick peck on the cheek. The pegasus’ job was done. That disappointed the crowd, but the rules did not describe how one pony was to kiss another. “Next one, please,” she asked with a smile, and the bottle was spun again. This time…

This time it landed on Ravage, who hadn’t done anything yet. The crowd responded with interest in the upcoming pairing.

Go get ‘er,” Flitter encouraged, whispering into his ear.

Luna couldn’t believe it. No magic of any kind was used in the direction of the bottle. There was no interference whatsoever, just blind luck! The willowy mare got up and strode to her stallion partner. The room went quiet.

Ravage’s heart beat rapidly. This mare looked fantastic. The way she carried herself, the way she glided so effortlessly, it seemed familiar. She sat in front of him, eyes like twin blue suns boring into his – definitely familiar! Yet he had never known her before. Settling in, she placed, no, installed her forelegs around his neck, for they seemed to hide incredible strength. She closed those radiant eyes, opened her mouth and leaned in. Ravage closed his eyes and inhaled, fearing what was to come. The sensation of warmth and moisture could be felt as their lips met. And then, a new feeling of elation electrified his senses, like he never experienced in his long life. It was like the feeling of being reawakened in the Arc after four eons of deactivation, only much, much stronger. She kissed him, and he kissed back, their lips shifting and sucking, giving no quarter.

Princess Luna used exquisite self-control to keep herself from jumping him right there and managed to pull away, eyes still closed. Her lips hung just millimeters from his face as she tried to process what just happened. She felt his breath as he tried to recover precious oxygen. No simple kiss was this, but something that felt more akin to lifelong accomplishment. It was as if she was directly connected to Ravage’s soul.

As the tan mare was sitting back down, the bottle was spun again. Octavia was the random choice this time.

Ravage approached her casually. “Well, I never expected thi-mmmp!”

Octavia had closed the gap while he was prattling on, and gave him a loving kiss on the lips. “My apologies, Ravage. I usually exercise superior restraint.”

She certainly didn’t look apologetic. No, there was something hidden in her face that he couldn’t interpret. The spy sat back down again, but not before he saw his pegasus friends whispering to each other.

“How much time, Vinyl?” Flitter asked.

“About fifteen minutes.”

Ravage’s companions got up, and motioned for him to follow. Were they leaving? What a relief!

“Till next time, friends!” Cloudchaser said cheerfully.

Feral Flight approached the door to the room as the trio was passing her by. She immediately took notice of Ravage. “It’s that time is it?” she spoke to the fine looking earth pony.

“It’s been that time for a while!” Flitter answered back.

Cloudchaser nuzzled the stallion as they walked.

Feral spared the outgoing group a glance, mostly looking at Ravage.

=^.^=

Flitter closed the door behind them, gripping the lit candle and holder in her teeth. Even this barely contained the loud music just a wall’s thickness away.

Cloudchaser arranged four other candles. “Just crawl into bed, Ravage. This will only take a minute.”

The uncertain stallion placed one tentative hoof after the other as he climbed onto the large, soft bed. He can’t do this. How did he go from planting antimatter mines in Autobot substations to sleeping with Equestrian mares?

He volunteered.

Interacting with the natives was deemed essential. To that end, a tissue body that could transform along with its mechanical components was developed by Starscream. Somehow, he allowed himself to date them. Did he overstep his bounds? This was just Flitter and her friend, imagine those infernal unicorns – imagine Princess Luna!

The pony bot lay on his stomach facing the headboard, which vibrated to the thumping music. Maybe if he covered up for long enough they might get tired. With a soft thud, his hip girdle was driven into the mattress, causing the whole bed to rock. Taking a look, it was Flitter that hopped on top.

“Ya know this works better if you lie on your back,” his date joked.

Cloudchaser sidled up beside Ravage. “Maybe he’s cooking something up for us,” she insinuated.

“Oh! Maybe it’s ready!”

Ravage could feel their hooves work their way underneath his body, which he stiffened to increase the difficulty. He intended to stay in this position and resist them to the last. Repel all invaders! With a quick flip, Ravage was spun around onto his back. Curse their pony strength!

“Hmm, nothing yet,” Flitter noted as she positioned herself by his left thigh.

“I have a sure fire way to get him started,” Cloudchaser boasted, placing herself opposite to Flitter. She put her forelegs around her friend’s shoulders, as if she was about to kiss her.

“Ah ha!” Flitter exalted in understanding. She and her partner adjusted themselves before she turned to her date. “Hey Ravage, check this out.”

Flitter and Cloudchaser began kissing each other, and grew more and more impassioned by the second, rubbing their wing bases as they went. Ravage’s jaw dropped at the act before him.

It was time to end the date. There was no way that Ravage would go through with this. He would lose his social standing, but it would be worth it. Being labeled ‘undatable’ would lose the attention of quite a lot of mares including the ones he’d been depending on for resources and education.

And then, as always happens in dire situations, his Decepticon nature supplied the simplest, most elegant idea. If no ponies helped him, what good were they? Shoot them! Just shoot them both. Just walk out of here in disguise, grab the statue and go. If they wouldn’t help him, then there was no sense in keeping up the charade.

Cloudchaser gained leverage as Flitter sank half a head during their kissing, and she forced her tongue in, violently reefing her mouth against her partner’s. Ravage couldn’t avert his eyes – he couldn’t look away! That was what Flitter did to him nearly a week ago. It felt so…

And then today, when the tan mare kissed him, nothing he felt before felt as good as that moment. Who was she?!

Shoot them!

Ravage remembered Flitter kissing him, and how good it felt; he remembered her scents, her personality. With fondness, he recalled their cuddling session on the train. But then he steeled his nerve once again. ‘Just kill them and be done with it!’ he chastised himself.

Without noticing it, they had stopped, both looking at the stallion bot like prey. Ravage grabbed a pillow and whisked it over his lower half in one fluid motion. It caused them both to giggle, all the while maintaining malicious smiles. They crept toward him fully intent on expanding his intimate experiences beyond mere affection.

Flitter slipped a hind leg between her date and the pillow, and with a flick, the bedroom implement was sent careening against the door.

“Save the pillow for when we’re done, Ravage,” Cloudchaser suggested.

Flitter turned his face toward hers with a hoof. “Don’t be afraid,” she said sweetly. “Just give me a chance. It’ll feel great!”

Transform you fool! Now!!!

New music started playing just then, but it was not Buttaface, as intended by Vinyl Scratch’s timer. No, this music was – different. It was fast, much faster than any pony song ever written. It was heavy, the percussion accompanied by what sounded more like instruments of death than music. And then, the wraith-like singing began, and in a language never before heard in all Equestria.

The girls sat on their haunches looking utterly confused.

“What is that?” Cloudchaser asked.

Flitter’s confusion turned to horror. “That’s not Buttaface!” she fearfully proclaimed.

Both mares hopped off the bed.

“I sense a prank!” Cloudchaser declared angrily.

“We’ll be right back,” Flitter promised to Ravage.

And like that, they were gone. The tumultuous new music kept playing.

The Decepticon soldier lay there, too engrossed in marshaling his thoughts to feel grateful for the interruption he inspired. Why didn’t he act? Was he just going to let them have their way? He was disappointed in himself. For all his clinical thinking, brutal experiences, and hard work, he couldn’t bring himself to transform and kill those that would defile his body. Pony bot or not, those were his feelings that he was unable to countermand.

“Why am I just lying here?” This bedroom was the last place he wanted to be at the moment. The roof! Maybe it was foggy outside, or maybe there were no ponies on it.

=^.^=

The cool night air was most welcome to the tiring pony bot. On the large flat roof only one couple was having a moment to themselves with food and cider over in a rather inaccessible area behind a chimney. Ravage ventured to the side farthest away from them. Only the soft sounds of the picnicking couple and the surrounding city could be discerned under the star canopy. ‘Why are Earth’s stars above Equestria?’ He had been here for over a week, and was no closer to answering that question.

There was no fog that night.

Infrared revealed invisible night guards floating around Luna’s castle, though a small number had saw fit to come fly overhead. He’ll have to watch out for those.

Looking over the safety rail, he wondered how he would get home. Cybertron was so far. Even if he built a space bridge terminal, he couldn't triangulate, as was done to get him here. That would require communication with his Decepticon comrades, which had somehow ceased working.

A fluttering of wings could be heard, and with a small crash and dispersal of roof pebbles, Rainbow Dash made a landing right behind Ravage. She was glowing white hot before he turned off his infrared.

“Nice night for a flight,” Ravage said. “Why did you leave the Kissing Room so soon?”

She snickered. “That music that sounded like dragons singing, it stopped the kissing pretty quick,” Rainbow said, trying her best not to laugh. “You should have seen Vinyl's face!” she squeezed out before breaking into a fit of laughter. After half a minute, she calmed down enough to speak again. “Pinkie went to help Vinyl, so I did some flying. Thank goodness!”

“You prefer the open sky to a roomful of mares?”

Rainbow Dash leaned in, and checked left and right for eavesdroppers. “Yes,” she confirmed. “But don't tell Pinkie that.” The stallion nodded in understanding. “Actually, we both noticed that you were pretty uncomfortable until tan-wings totally made out with you. Even Flitter and Cloudchaser were surprised.”

“Oh?” Getting another perspective was most revealing.

“You three are gonna hook up tonight, am I right?” Dash said, prodding Ravage with her foreleg.

“Uh, well, they’ve gone to find out what was going on with the music,” the stallion bot sheepishly replied.

“Ya know,” Rainbow thought, “Dragonsong didn’t sound too bad, actually.” She nodded, deciding that was her conclusion. “Not too bad at all. Lotta energy.”

“I didn’t find it too bad, either.” Ravage stretched his limbs and yawned. “But it is getting late.”

“Oh, there is one other thing I wanted to talk to you about,” Dash insisted.

Ravage suspected that it couldn’t be good, as the night’s interaction with her and Pinkie Pie had already been covered.

“I talked to Zecora this morning,” she began. “I wanted to know how you were doing, ya know, since you go into the Everfree forest a lot.”

Ravage froze.

Ever since Rainbow Dash and her friends first met him, and she agreed to help get them better acquainted with him, he became the unwitting observational mark for the keen eyed pegasus. She saw Ravage go toward or away from the Everfree forest a few times over the past week, and connected it with the potion maker. What she didn't see was his actual residence.

“She was like, ‘Who is Ravage? Is he savage?’ doing the rhyming thing. She also said that something savage chased the timberwolves off, and that we should be extra cautious because new predators may have moved in.”

If the Decepticon stallion had any exposed skin, it would have turned white. He opened his mouth, trying to speak, but nothing came out. He had nothing to say to that!

Rainbow laid a supportive hoof on his shoulder. “Hey. Homelessness is a serious matter, dude. I can understand why you’d want to cover up something like that. I’ve talked to the others about it too, and they’re willing to help.”

“I, uh…”

Dash assumed a heroic pose. “Oh, no. No need to thank me,” the smiling pegasus self-praised, dusting herself off with a hoof. “I think I should find Pinkie now. Toodles!” Like a jet she took off into the sky, presumably to twist around in the air a few times before she went back to her friend.

Ravage became worried about how he was supposed to get back to the base. He concluded that there was only one thing he could do.

“I'm going to bed.”

Author's Note:

Wanna know what music Ravage recorded on the blank disc? This is the opener:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hog8DTQkjBM

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