• 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 3: Pattern Analysis Blue!

Transformed



Chapter 3: Pattern Analysis Blue!



Ravage got up for work much earlier than usual this morning. A couple of attempts to establish contact with Cybertron were made first, but nothing had changed from the previous evening.

He used the roads on the outskirts of town to walk to the construction site. There was adequate tree cover so he was able to avoid being spotted by Cloudchaser and Flitter. The pony bot didn’t know what to think of the pegasi duo and their unicorn friends yet, but he was suspicious. His resourcefulness overrode his pride and caused him to take action and shift to a longer, safer commute, and avoid the purple pegasi. It took longer than using the main roads, but keeping the location of his base a secret was paramount. However, as long as he was unable to contact his people this felt like a useless gesture, as he was overwhelmed by a feeling of helplessness.

The Decepticon managed to start a good thirty minutes earlier than his coworkers. His initiative had allowed everypony to start working immediately, since Ravage unpacked and distributed all the relevant tools. A pleased Bright Rock said that he could add the time to lunch, or to leave early.

Micah approached him at coffee time, Bo in tow. “Wanna go out for lunch? All you can eat daisy sandwiches for ten bits at The Flower Factory,” he chirped. Oh, the engineers looked so happy. That dusty, harsh working environment did nothing to dull their seemingly blissful state. Or, that could have been because it was Friday.

Ravage put on a strong, but silent face. “Alright, I’ll go get some bits,” he said unenthusiastically. The stallion bot was only a couple of scoops into his oatmeal, but he could easily eat it later, or even during the weekend. He decided that he would add a heating circuit to each of his ‘kegs’ this weekend, that way he could reheat his food without having to remove it.

Ravage closed up his containers, and set off for the bank, having made sure he had Wednesday’s bank draft with him. He hoped he could get a sack o’ bits in just a few minutes, and it helped that a bank was one block away. Not surprisingly, Bo and Micah joined him at his side.

“You don’t look so good, Ravage,” Bo observed. “Did something happen?”

“I’ll be fine.” Ravage had zero desire to discuss his communication problem.

“We’re here if you need us,” Bo spoke with empathy, speaking for her husband as well.

Ravage admired loyalty, theirs in particular. Indeed, these two unicorns could be counted among Soundwave, or even himself in terms of being loyal. “Thanks for that,” smiling as he said it, once again having drawn out a bout of positive feeling. Only these two have accomplished that so far. How were they doing it?

The unicorns were making small talk as the Decepticon entered the bank. He managed to convert the draft into bits just as he had planned.

“Do you have an account with us?” said the dark blue pegasus stallion.

“No.”

“Would you want one? It allows you to store bits in our vault, so you don’t have to carry them around with you all the time. All the ponies are doing it.” The teller thought he was merely being humorous. Ravage, on the other hoof, was only too happy to receive such useful information.

Ravage agreed, and they began to process the account opening. It could not be completed due to the stallion bot not knowing his ‘roll number’, apparently some sort of number that Equestrian citizens use for official purposes. Ravage agreed to complete the procedure later that morning, and the construction trio went back to work.

Taking lunch a half an hour early, he went to get his roll number from city hall. As expected, the clerk was inspecting her hoof while simultaneously being useless.

“So, you won’t give me my roll number?” the Decepticon stallion asked patiently.

“No, you don’t got one,” replied the clerk, whom might as well have been asleep.

Ravage already encountered this individual and expected this, so he had a contingency plan prepared. He leaned in over the counter, his face looking stern. “I’ll be back.”

And return he did, with Bright Rock. In the most heated exchange between ponies Ravage had ever witnessed, including all the video he’d seen during the investigation, Bright Rock managed to tear a strip out of the clerk, whom emphatically denied Ravage even having a roll number. Bright Rock argued that this was simply not possible, and that no adult pony could function in modern day society without one.

Eventually the clerk relented, ‘prepared’ a number for Ravage, and put it in the books. Ravage got his bank account, and returned just in time for lunch with his coworkers. The pony bot had noted an impressive use of intimidation on the part of Bright Rock whenever a perceived slow down in production occurred. He also noted Bright Rock really liked having him around. It was a cinch to conclude that using her as a catalyst would speed up the bureaucratic process.

“Shall we go?” Ravage asked of his two unicorn friends, smiling as he did. It had turned out to be a pretty good day so far.

“Glad to see you’re feeling better,” noted Micah.


=^.^=


Ravage and the engineers started their trek to downtown Ponyville. “So how was your dinner last night?” he asked, wondering at what he might have missed.

“Cabbage soup and garlic bread with a cheese, tomato, onion, broccoli, and noodle casserole. Yeah, you definitely missed out,” Micah gloated.

“This guy knows how to cook.” Bo was looking conspiratorially while motioning to her husband with her head.

“Why else would you marry me?” he joked.

“I have my reasons,” she said right into his ear, followed by a peck on the cheek.

“Okay, so Micah makes good food,” Ravage concluded with a nod.

“Shall we ask him over tonight, babe?” Bo suggested. Micah nodded and smiled. “We’re having company over, ya’ know, food and fun. Wanna partake?” she asked Ravage.

The Decepticon pondered the offer. If he left at his normal time after work he would almost certainly have to deal with Cloudchaser’s gang. They might want to know where he lives and ask to visit. That would have been an unacceptable situation. On the other hand, he could stay with Bo and Micah, be fed, and get to know pony society in a safe environment. He calculated a departure time so he could see Princess Luna in action, but he’d have a couple of hours with them at least.

“Okay, sure. I’ve gotta head out around 7:30. Is that okay?”

The couple looked at each other and nodded in agreement. Bo continued, “In that case, you can come straight to our place after work. You can help get things ready.”

That was exactly what Ravage wanted. “Sounds good.”

The couple went on about who’s coming over, food they’ll eat, games they’ll play, the status of their plumbing, and other minutia.

Speaking of safety, Ravage turned on his internal compass (he turned it off when he went to bed, otherwise he’d be looking at a bright white compass icon when he was trying to sleep). As commonly happened, the armature swung sharply away from whatever unicorns he was with to somepony more powerful. Passing the windows of a store front, he could see that it was Twilight Sparkle in the reflection. No surprise. She didn’t appear to be following him though, as she was talking to some squat little green thing on her back – and it talked back! Another species? Ravage thought.

Taking into account that it was lunch time, and that Ponyville was a small municipality, he deduced that he could be passing by Twilight almost everyday. Therefore, she was considered a non-threat as long as he avoided purposely interacting with her. In a few weeks from now, he would be able to act like he belonged here, no matter how much he missed the G forces of fast ships, hammering guns, explosions, dire situations, and the excitement of war. He even had himself slowly getting used to having his overhead displays turned off. The ponybot didn’t need it telling him that Flitter and Cloudchaser were on the prowl, he knew they were there. The only thing he needed to do to feel right is re-establish communications with his Decepticon comrades.

They turned the corner. Jam-packed in front of The Flower Factory were countless ponies. The line-up spilled out into the middle of the road, creating havoc with traffic. Needless to say the inside of the establishment was probably full.

“I sense failure,” Ravage remarked.

“Ummm, there’s a pub at the end of the road. It’s got a patio,” Micah hinted. The other two understood and changed plans.

And a large patio it was, with several round tables for four to six customers, and facing a park no less. That made the prices more expensive, but the trio didn’t care. They sat at a parasol-covered table near the patio fence.

Just then, Rainbow Dash came cruising down to the establishment, landing smoothly on the patio. “You guys are Flower Factory refugees too?”

“Yeah, there was no way we’d get in without missing work. Our boss just doesn’t allow lateness,” Micah explained.

“You’re Ravage, right?” inquired Rainbow Dash, pointing her hoof at the brown stallion, smiling confidently.

“And you’re Rainbow Dash,” Ravage quipped.

“And who am I?” Bo asked pointedly, looking at Dash.

“Uh, I dunno? You never introduced yourselves.”

Introduce themselves, they did. The Wonderbolt bumped with the hooves of both Bo and Micah at the same time while hovering.

“Say, do you mind if me and my friends sit with you guys?” Rainbow suggested.

Bo had no issue with Rainbow’s request, since she wanted to see the dynamics between the blue pegasus and Ravage. Micah had zero qualms about having Rainbow Dash sit with them, as he was a Wonderbolt fan, and was told of Ravage’s interest in the pegasus. Ravage didn’t seem to care one way or the other.

Aster landed just then. “I gather we’re eating here due to the sheer impossibility of eating at The Flower Factory?” A large number of ponies, including temporarily displaced customers, started trickling onto the patio.

“Say Aster, do you mind getting us some tables while I get the others?” asked Dash.

“Good plan.” Aster started yanking on a couple of large tables while Rainbow took off.

“We’re on a tight schedule,” Bo indicated. “We have to be back for one ‘o clock.”

“I don’t have a problem if you order now, but do you mind moving to one of these larger tables? That way we can all sit together.” Aster tried to do her part to support the plan. Bo and Micah agreed immediately. Ravage was puzzled; as far as he was concerned, he should be able to sit down, order, eat, pay and leave. The unexpected inclusion of a pile of other ponies which his engineer associates so readily agreed to seemed forced. Something was amiss, and he couldn’t put his hoof on it.

Ravage’s suspicions were silenced however, as Bo had already waved over a ‘waiter’ and they began ordering. The stallion bot had only seen Micah order hay fries the day before, but it was accomplished at a stand. The waiter seemed to be a more mobile transaction facilitator. He just ordered the same thing as Micah, but realized he’d made a mistake shortly after though – he eats considerably more than Micah! Ravage decided that suffering will be his teacher and this would make him order a more appropriate food quantity next time.

Shortly after the construction ponies’ orders were taken, Rainbow Dash walked up to their improvised tables with the Elements of Harmony in tow. Fear struck Ravage’s heart as he realized that one of the worst case scenarios was about to happen. He considered trading seats with Micah, but he knew that these ‘coupled’ ponies were supposed to stay together. He had concluded that he was to try to avoid the Elements, and make associations with other ponies. In spite of his attempt to do so, the failure in progress continued as more and more of the forbidden troupe settled down. Rainbow Dash sat down beside him. Ravage wondered if he should prepare for combat as the Element of Laughter approached – no – bounced toward him, her face contorted in an impossibly wide smile.

She grabbed him in what would be a ‘death hug’ if it weren’t for his metal frame.

“Welcome to Ponyville, Ravage!” she shouted. But the death hug was only the beginning! What happened next had no Decepticon, nor even Autobot counterpart, and would test his endurance for torture to the limit. Pinkie Pie sang.

Welcome, welcome, welcome,
Welcome Mister Ravage,

Welcome, welcome, welcome,
We are not so savage,

Welcome, welcome, welcome,
Gotta try our cabbage!

Welcome, welcome, welcome,
We welcome you, Ravage!

Accompanied by some strange art form the investigation team identified as ‘dancing’, Pinkie’s body twisted and gyrated, all the while juggling between various props, including three cabbage heads and a small reptile.

The speechless pony bot just wanted to eat.

Before Pinkie could do anything else, the waiter asked to take their orders, immediately causing the pink ball of energy so sit down and behave. It turned out that she was hungry as well.

After the waiter left, Rainbow Dash introduced her friends. Ravage made new database entries for Aster and Spike, whom both seemed to have better powers of communication than the much lauded Elements of Harmony.

Their questions would come, but Ravage was prepared for even this contingency. He only had to hold out until the food got here, and he would use deflection and redirection to the best of his abilities.

“Oh my,” Rarity started. “I’ve never seen a stallion with grey eyes before.”

“They’re very pretty,” added Fluttershy.

The assembly of mares staring at his face was unnerving. Unlike plate metal Decepticon faces, pony faces left little to the imagination as to how they were feeling at that particular moment. Ravage had been developing his skill at reading them during his time at the construction site, though he had a long way to go. By his reckoning, they all were curious, but each with their own individual bent. Fluttershy and Applejack shared neutral stares; they were reserving judgment. Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle had curiosity and wonder. Rainbow Dash was difficult to read, could she be feeling proud? Aster had a look as if she’d just won at something. Rarity’s half lidded stare and smile spelled trouble.

Of the group, Ravage liked Spike best as the ‘dragon’ was perusing the dessert menu. Not contributing to the tension was a trait that the Decepticon really enjoyed.

Deflection. “Spike, what are you looking at?” asked Ravage. All stares turned toward Spike.

“The desserts. Do you think it would kill ‘em to have a few gem stones?”

Does the dragon eat precious stones? Ravage wondered. It wouldn’t surprise him if he did.

“Spike,” Twilight said in a soft, almost chastising voice. Ravage failed to understand why she would do that. Did she want him to join the mares in their scrutiny? It didn’t feel right, yet she was displeased with her dragon companion.

Aster spoke across the table to Rainbow Dash, and Rarity to Fluttershy. Quickly, the tables became awash with the chirpings of mare talk. The cacophony would be deadly if it wasn’t for the fact that everybody was outside. Ravage felt that he might sustain nerve damage if the location were inside a room with hardened walls and floors. He decided to watch out for that.

Ravage was feeling half relieved that his inevitable interrogation seemed to be postponed but then Rainbow Dash nudged him with a hoof, wanting to speak. Having spoken with her before, and having found her straight forward approach appealing, the Decepticon prepared himself for conversation. “Yes?”

“So what do you think of Ponyville now?” she asked. She showed genuine curiosity.

He was indeed comfortable talking to the blue pegasus. This could be a function of familiarity, but Ravage still proceeded with caution. “I’ve got a job. I’ve got bits. So far, everything is good.” He purposefully avoided mentioning ‘got a place’.

“What about the scenery?” Rainbow asked, her expression looking more like Rarity’s.

Ravage thought about the question. “The infrastructural layout is not efficient, but quaint, as all small towns gain their character from the very land they were molded in.”

Twilight heard the big words, and her ears perked up.

Rainbow Dash laughed a bit in her trademark cackle, “No, no. I mean, how do you like the scenery.” Her eyes gestured in the direction of her friends, but it made Ravage look to the street behind them. So much for straight forward talk. If he wasn’t confused before, he certainly is now.

Rainbow picked up on Ravage’s puzzled expression and switched gears. He would get to know her friends in time, there was no rush. “So, do you like sports?”

“Sports?” Ravage desperately needed to research all these terms. Also, it was apparent that some words had additional meanings that were not defined in the literature the Decepticons copied from the school and library.

“Yeah, like running around, kicking, dodging and trying to score.”

Ravage suddenly remembered some of the video from the study. Some ponies were kicking around a ball in such a game. That was a sport. It was called…

“Hoofball?”

Rainbow Dash’s eyes lit up brightly. Applejack and Aster stopped what they were doing, and zeroed in on the magical word. Ravage was amazed at how easily it claimed their attention.

“Do you play?” asked Aster.

“I’ve – I’ve never played.”

“Never played!” Applejack said, almost in shock. “Shoot, you look like you could kick out the side of a barn, feed the dog, buck a quarter-section, and come back before the wall even hit the ground.”

Ravage had no idea what Applejack just said. Some of her friends were similarly puzzled, rarely having seen Applejack talk so much or so fast. Perhaps she really liked the idea of having Ravage play hoofball with them.

“Do you wanna play with us?” Rainbow Dash asked, hope in her eyes.

Ravage felt the gaze of the three powerfully built mares bore into him like a laser beam. He felt a sense of urgency to respond fast. “O – okay?”

Then all at once, unrestrained yelping and cheering came from the ‘hoofball’ trio, topping it off with a three-way hoofbump. It created a scene, as all on the patio were staring. Rainbow Dash and Aster glided to the grass on the other side of the patio fence. With a mighty leap, Applejack jumped over the fence, elegantly and with ease. It made the patio shake. They started drawing shapes on exposed soil while in discussion, presumably on hoofball.

Ravage found himself admiring Applejack’s strength when he felt another hoof touch his side.

“I heard you talking about,” Twilight narrowed her eyes as she finished the sentence, “small town infrastructure?”

“Yes?” Ravage found it odd that Twilight would be interested in something so trivial.

“Did you – want to comment on the geopolitical ramifications of relocating the ruling class to an elevated central location after the banishment?” Like her blue friend’s, Twilight’s eyes were wide with anticipation of Ravage’s answer. But there was something else beyond the words. There was something about the way Twilight looked with her big eyes and soft smile, and her front legs primly locked together, and the way her tail lazily wrapped around her, and how her head tilted to the side just so. The Decepticon’s tissue body was sending yet more strange signals, emanating from his chest. He felt as if he needed to pick up and squeeze the purple mass, and couldn’t explain why.

“Canterlot?”

Twilight smiled brightly at seeing that Ravage was on the same wavelength. Just then, everypony’s food came. The hoofball ponies scrambled to sit down just as much as the construction ponies scrambled to shove down their food, time being of the essence.

Having paid the establishment, Ravage, Bo, and Micah started on their way back to work. Rainbow Dash caught up with Ravage. She tapped her hoof on his shoulder while hovering, getting his attention.

“We’re gonna practice on Sunday. Ya know, kick the ball around. Wanna join us?”

The stallion bot’s having never played before didn’t seem to deter the pegasus. “Sure.”

“Alright!” Ravage was surprised as he was suddenly hugged by Rainbow Dash. “See ya on Sunday at Sweet Apple Acres! Ten ‘o clock!”

After Rainbow Dash flew off, Micah spoke up. “Careful there, Ravage.”

“Kicking the ball around doesn’t seem to require much care,” the Decepticon countered.

“Have you seen the mares around you?” Bo was rather surprised.

“They’re being sociable, yes.” Ravage noticed their concern, but didn’t know what could have prompted it. “Where is all this leading?” he asked, wondering what kind of social faux pas he may have committed.

“I think the problem is that Ravage hasn’t had much experience with mares,” Micah suggested to his wife.

The trio approached the job site. “We need to get to work,” Ravage said sternly, wishing no more discussion on mares. It was difficult enough dealing with them. “We can talk about this later.”


=^.^=


The end of the work week finally arrived. Bo noticed that Ravage’s stern expression hadn’t yet lifted, in spite of the freedom of the beginning of the weekend. It was senseless to try to talk to an angry pony on the delicate issue of mare-stallion relationships, so she came up with an idea that would hopefully soothe the savage beast.

The group was on their way to Bo and Micah’s when the mare made a suggestion. “It’s Friday. It’s after work. I definitely think we should get some ice cream.”

“Totally a good idea!” Micah heartily concurred. “You down for ice cream, Ravage?”

“Uh, okay.” Ravage didn’t know what ice cream was, but these ponies seemed enthused by it. He decided it would be a low risk to follow through.

The ice cream parlour had a menu detailing many different kinds of ice cream. Bo and Micah had their favourites. “Ravage, you look puzzled,” said Micah.

“I don’t know what to choose.” Indeed, the food made of cream and sugar came in a surprising number of varieties.

“Get mint chip. It’s what I do when I’m not sure,” Micah suggested.

Following his coworker’s advice, Ravage acquired a single scoop ‘n cone of the mint chip ice cream. It was a decision he would learn to revere as the ‘ice cream’ substance tasted great! Hay shakes and ice cream were welcomed as foods he enjoyed while being in a pony body. It helped a lot that one of the unicorns (he guessed Bo, by the magical colour being close to her mane) was levitating all three snacks in front of them as they walked.

They arrived at Bo and Micah’s house on the north side of town. It was close to the library, the residence of Twilight Sparkle. This proximity did not sit well with the pony bot, as she still had the potential to be very dangerous. The couple was adamant about getting everything ready for the gathering first and then they would have a period for themselves with which to explain mares to Ravage.

They swept and tidied, taking turns bathing. Ravage preferred soaking in the bath water for at least thirty minutes but that wasn’t happening tonight. Micah cooked while Ravage and Bo cleaned the cookware and distributed the food. Broccoli, carrots, potatoes, as well as apples, strawberries, and oranges were whipped into tasty things to eat. The dishes were enchanted to keep the food fresh and warm.

After an hour, leaving well over an hour before any guests would arrive, the group relaxed in the living room, all drinking coffee. Drinking coffee on their breaks had gotten Ravage interested in the beverage.

“Ravage, do you know what a herd is?” asked Micah.

“A group of ponies?”

“Well yes, but I’m referring to a more specific kind of grouping.” Micah was somewhat miffed, thinking Ravage may be making fun of him.

“Have you seen many stallions around?” Bo asked.

“No. They seem rare for some reason. Would you know why that is?” Ravage had always wondered this himself. The pony literature never even mentioned the problem.

Micah found it odd, the use of the word ‘they’ in this context. “Well, nopony really knows, that is, except for the conspiracy theorists.” This elicited a chuckle from his wife.

Bo tried to explain. “Well, basically a herd is made up of mares, but they tend to have at least one stallion. Sometimes the mares gather together first, and seek a stallion for their herd. Sometimes, a stallion and mare come together and slowly add mares to their herd. Sometimes, like us, they just want to remain a couple.”

“And this concerns me how?” Bo and Micah’s mouths dropped open upon Ravage saying this. Ravage knew of cliques, loose social associations that form out of common interests. This happened even with Decepticons. This whole thing sounded like the pony equivalent of cliques.

“Well…” Micah honestly didn’t know how to reach Ravage. Could their intellectual friend really be so dense? “Ponies don’t just ask you to join their herd. They, well…”

“They test you first, to see if they like you,” said Bo, completing Micah’s thoughts.

“Look, I don’t have the Equestrian guide to herds. I have no idea who’s in what herd, especially if they’re just ‘testing’ me.” Ravage was thinking of using the time for a nap. This whole ‘herd’ business was nothing more than street talk.

“Yeah, you kinda have to know the community you’re in,” Micah admitted.

“Did you know the Elements of Harmony are a herd?” Bo asked.

“No.” Ravage’s face twisted in thought a bit. “They answer directly to Princess Celestia, so it occurs to me that they can acquire a stallion whenever they want to.”

“And yet they haven’t,” Micah pointed out.

“Then how do you know that they’re seeking one?” Ravage countered.

“Ravage, did you see the way the Elements were looking at you this afternoon?” Bo challenged. “They were longing for you, craving you.”

Ravage laughed. “They’d never seen grey eyes before.”

“Do you want to be part of a herd?” Micah wasn’t sure if Ravage would be a good fit for the Elements of Harmony.

“Nope.”

“No?” Bo seemed shocked. “Not even for the benefits?”

“What benefits?” Ravage was getting tired of this. This was supposed to be an earth shaking conversation, yet it turned out to be pointless etiquette.

“You’ll never sleep alone, for one.” Micah thought he had made a good point, but noticed that Ravage had started laughing.

The annoyed Decepticon had finally stopped. “Thank you for your information. I now know exactly what to do if I am asked to join a herd. I’ll say ‘no’. See, wasn’t that easy? I’m not going to remain in Ponyville forever, why would I tie myself down like that?” In reality, Ravage was very perturbed by the unfettered staring and interest. For his protection, he would seriously consider relocation. While groups of awestruck mares could be handled, the Elements of Harmony situation could explode. The literature indicated that if just one Element was threatened, all six would come after you. Needless to say, they were backed by forces that moved worlds and stars.

Bo and Micah noticed that Ravage was getting upset. “You know, we’ve got some time. Perhaps we should take a nap?”

“I agree.” Ravage had returned to his polite state. After helping put some dishes away, he napped on the couch while Bo and Micah relaxed in their bedroom.



=^.^=


Soon, the expected company came along. A wall eyed pegasus and her unicorn foal, as well as a pair of earth ponies and their two foals met with Ravage and the two hosts. It was pleasant enough, especially since Bo insisted that he eat his fill and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She didn’t mind having had to prepare additional baked potatoes, and Ravage ate heartily.

Again, the stallion bot mostly listened. Again, he picked up more terms to research and would try to learn. The questions directed at him were answered quickly, and simply. He felt almost embarrassed when he was forced to admit that he had no ‘special somepony.’ He didn’t like the social pressure to be coupled with another pony.

The foals were simultaneously fascinating, and annoying. They were given to running around corners at the top speed that their little legs could carry them, often shrilly laughing and screaming – that was hard for Ravage to take. When they settled down, they became unwitting objects of study, as the Decepticon stallion observed them closely. What would take the Decepticons the mere flip of a switch to activate, took the ponies years and years to develop. A baby foal was a piece of meat with a blank slate for a mind, and instincts. Knowledge was gleaned slowly, at first from their parents, and then it was added to from their community. It grew inside them as their bodies grew. After two decades or so, an adult would appear. They were remarkably like their parents, yet each was an individual, with his own unique personality. Ponies had one particular, and massive, advantage over Decepticons: they didn’t need to harvest sparks. Individuality, it seemed, was something they had in infinite supply.

Despite their physical and mental differences, they all saw the stoic pony as something to conquer. Ravage couldn’t believe it. The three were clamoring up on his body, as he was lying down, trying to claim a spot on his back. The dozen little hooves would have felt like a gigantic centipede on his back if he didn’t know better. He could hold two more if he extended out his missile racks, but that was an idea he kept to himself. He stood up. The foals braced themselves. He walked to the kitchen to get more of the delicious coffee he’d been becoming more and more fond of. They treated him like – what was it – an airship? Such imagination!

Carrying a cup of the brew in his teeth, Ravage went back to his spot and set himself down on his belly. The very happy parents smiled at him, perhaps because he inadvertently took the foals’ attention from them? It was almost a shame that he had to bid farewell to everypony so he could continue his mission. The foals were especially vocal about their ‘airship’ leaving way too early.


=^.^=


The train station where he got off at a copper mine was also virtually devoid of ponies. From there, Ravage had hiked for thirty minutes to his spot on a ridge overlooking a remote lake. There were no trails that lead there, but he found it thanks to his satellite systems.

Thankfully, the Decepticon brought his telescope and other instrumentation with him on his way out to work that morning. With it, he watched Celestia lower the sun, since he had to wait anyways. She was as magnificent lowering the orb as she was raising it. The spectacular vista of colours seemed improbable, but then again, this was a magical world.

The Decepticon pony munched on a few chocolate-hay bars as he waited. There was really nothing more to do. Unlike observing Celestia, who did her work from afar, Ravage, according to his calculations, had a front row seat to view the night princess. Darker and darker the sky became, as twilight ebbed away.

Movement… Ravage’s telescope had a sophisticated tracking system, and it immediately zeroed in on a dark, fluttering creature. The moon followed it from the horizon. It was Princess Luna! Second in command after Celestia, she watched over Equestria at night. She was not easily seen – the telescope had to activate the infrared so Ravage could study her in the view finder. She was a true creature of the night, forsaking splendor for stealth.

Then all at once, the indigo sky faded to the black dome of space, with thousands of stars twinkling as their light was distorted upon entering Celestia-1’s atmosphere. Ravage took only a moment to view the improbable night sky, hastened so quickly into existence. When he peered again at his view finder, Luna was gone. Odd, he thought. Even Rainbow Dash shouldn’t be able to evade the motion sensors at that height.

Something was wrong. Ravage’s predatory instincts did not disappear now that he had a pony mode, and up till now the Decepticon could at least hear the sounds of animals in the distance, and the rustle of leaves on the wind. This was replaced by total and utter silence. In fact, he couldn’t feel so much as a breeze. The lake was still. The gentle waves that lapped at the ridge side only moments ago were replaced by a great mirror. The stars’ reflection shone off of it. It was so dark and still, he could hear his own heartbeat.

On instinct, Ravage packed his things into his saddle bags, and he was quiet about it. Something wicked was coming, and he had no interest in an unprepared confrontation. He felt it might be wise to activate the satellite’s overhead display. With a final pull from his teeth, he secured the last flap. It was then that he noticed a blue sheen on the buckle.

Reflected light.

His heart rate increased significantly as he turned slowly towards the source.

“Fair stallion, what brings thou to this part of Equestria so late in the evening?” She was a deep blue. Everything about her physical being was blue, her mane, her tail, her fur, and arguably, even her eyes. She was glowing blue, even though every feature about her could be seen crisply. Her mane and tail were stellar fields in of themselves, and they twinkled brightly as they wafted on some unseen magical breeze. Among the metal garments adorning her graceful form was a black breastplate with a white crescent moon embossed upon it, a black crown, and silver shoes. Princess Luna started to walk toward Ravage, and the wind suddenly picked up. The animals and waves from the lake could be heard again.

Remembering to behave like a pony, Ravage bowed. It disgusted him to do so, but Luna was a creature not to be trifled with.

Then he heard it. A giggle. If he would abolish giggles he could, for trouble was never far behind them.

“Please rise, my handsome stallion.”

Ravage rose back up, standing on all four legs. If he heard her correctly, then she said that he was hers. The statement felt ominous as he looked up, straight into her face for they were the same height. The distinctive way that lock of mane curled over her left eye was unmistakable. Blood left Ravage’s stomach when he noticed that she was smirking. Her expression was almost identical to Rarity’s at lunch earlier in the day.

“You didn’t answer my question,” she said expectantly.

“I – I came to do observations, then I saw you. You are hard to follow.” Ravage didn’t know what else to say.

Luna smiled. “’Tis a good place to gaze upon the night.” She nodded while she spoke.

“It is bereft of population.” Ravage felt he needed to support his ‘reason’ for choosing this particular spot. Luna slowly moved to his right side.

“So,” she began, “thou art the stallion the Ponyville mares are dreaming about.” Another evil giggle poisoned the air. “Even some of the married ones.” She placed an ice cold shoe on his shoulder, and slowly walked to his backside, tracing the metal shoe along his firm body. Luna made sure to firmly indent the flank. “Even Fluttershy,” she said as she beamed a particularly naughty expression at him. Her eyes took on a blue glow as she looked up into the vast night sky. “She’s dreaming right now. It’s quite vivid.”

Luna removed her hoof. “May I ask why thou hath come alone?”

Ravage had no intention of spying on Princess Luna with other ponies. The question still made his face contort in puzzlement. “Because it only takes one to operate a telescope?”

“I’m speaking for your herdmates, Ravage,” Luna clarified, shifting to more modern speech. She slipped into the old ways of speaking from time to time, especially when she was focused, but always tried to speak like a pony of the modern era.

The Decepticon stallion was taken aback, but only a little when Luna spoke his name, even though he was not introduced. He was addressing an immortal Princess of the night. Could it be true? Could she really have the power to see into dreams? If so, why in the universe were so many mares dreaming about him? Needless to say, dreams seem to be Luna’s source of information on Ravage. He was at a serious disadvantage here. What he understood about dreams, at least during the construction phase of his new body, was that they were the byproducts of the mind trying to repair nerve tissue, and reorganize memories for more efficient storage – much like a computer hard drive, or data tracks must be reorganized from time to time. In the process, images known and unknown appeared in the ‘mind’s eye’ of the sleeper. What Luna was doing was almost literally mind reading! If she was able to read minds, and tried to read his…

The other bothersome notion was that Ravage seemed to be more popular with the mares than he realized. He considered his fake back story, which indicated that he was from rural Equestria. He may need to do that. Thanks to the limited – and very biased – information Luna may have obtained, the most damning thing was that she may be regarding Ravage as some sort of tool, a tool to be brought into service for pleasing mares! Ravage doubted that the mares were dreaming about him hammering nails into a plank, his body sweaty and his muscles knotted like iron – actually, that’s probably exactly what they were dreaming about. Strange, these mare beings.

And now, the herdmates. “Herdmates?” Ravage had none, why would Luna assume he did? Indeed, the dreams she had been reading may have emitted incorrect information as well.

Luna gasped. Uh oh, his ramblings had just disturbed a night goddess. The trepidation he had experienced when he first walked into Ponyville returned with a vengeance, but he managed to remain calm.

“Surely, you are part of a herd?” She sounded shocked.

“Um, no. The only one in my herd is me,” Ravage responded, smiling confidently, indicating to himself with his hoof.

“Are you being courted?” Luna appeared almost suspicious.

Since no courtship rituals were detected, “No?”

Ravage’s situation downgraded, as Luna caught a gleam in her eye. Sure enough, it was followed by one of those vile, half-lidded smiling expressions.

Ravage prepared for combat. He counted eleven missiles in the racks he had hidden way. That should do for now. He then activated his satellite overhead display, looking for a way out. In front was Luna and rough terrain, and behind him was a lake, about six body lengths to the surface.

Another giggle. Ugh! How he despised those!

The once clear night had suddenly become overcast, and thunder rumbled. Ravage should have LIED, but it was too late for that. ‘What a minute, can you be courted by an entire herd?’ His thought came too late…

“Then I hereby claim you, fair Ravage, as my partner in intimacy.” Luna raised her voice to deafening levels by the end of her proclamation while bolts of lightning criss-crossed the sky.

'Not happening.' Ravage didn’t care what Luna did to him, he was not doing that with her. It didn’t help matters that she would eventually find out that he was not actually a pony. What then?

The satellite reported the depth of the lake by the ridge.

She turned to face the still visible Moon, the ridge behind her. “Your life will be a grand one now,” she said, smiling as she began describing all the nice things she would do to Ravage. “You will serve me nightly. You will also serve any mares I deem fit.”

It was difficult for Ravage not to let his face become crippled with anger. He could be angry later though, for it was time to escape. Ultimately, Equestria was not a place for Decepticons. Ravage hadn’t even remotely come close to deducing how magic worked and already his life was in danger. It hadn’t even been a week.

Ravage came up with an escape plan and stealthily put on his saddle bags.

Luna continued her prattling. “You shall be with me for the rest of your days. Mine and my ally’s infernos of desire shall forever be quenched by your salacious form, and under my training, your own pleasure shall reach previously unattainable magnitudes as you sate us. And there shall be other benefits! All Equestria will be available to you. You may go wherever you please.” The list of destinations in Equestria almost certainly didn’t include Cybertron. She didn’t notice the splash, which was quieted by the height of sheer rock.

Luna’s features softened while her front hooves came together in front of her heart. She gazed dreamily upward, “Tonight, my dear stallion, we shall make love amongst the Moon flowers on the Rainbow Range. In the blissful afterward, we shall sip hundred year old brandy…” Luna continued for an indeterminate amount of time.

Under the water, Ravage transformed quickly as his heavy body sank to the bottom. To support his tissue he activated the carbon dioxide scrubbers, and reoxygenated his blood by electrolyzing the water.

‘I follow only MEGATRON!’ he thought angrily.

Ravage activated his infrared vision, turning night into day, giving him a clear view of everything on the lake bottom. He spun the turbines in his jet motors in and effort to try to displace water to provide locomotion – and it worked! He moved his body at quicker than the speed of a trot using this method, and headed for the river that would take him into the Everfree Forest. His onboard nuclear reactors, as well as the energy taken in the food he ate gave him more than enough power without having to use any of his energon supply.

His saddle bags tossed around, buffeted by the water currents. Thanks to over twenty years of being in an undersea base on Earth, the Decepticons had learned to make their technology very water proof, as well as corrosion proof.

The satellites had been monitoring Luna’s heat signature. It took nearly ten minutes for her to vanish.

This entire observation had been a disaster. What data he did collect was nothing more than heat and light. Useless! Ravage wished he had stayed at Bo and Micah’s, like those foals begged him to.

The Decepticon wondered if his tissue body was sleeping. Then he realized with horror that the tissue part of his brain may start dreaming.


=^.^=


Five hours passed, and Ravage was still moving underwater, nearing the path that would take him home. It turned out that this was a very efficient mode of transport indeed, but there were problems. The water was frigid, and murky. He would have to spend at least two hours getting the gunk out of his robot body’s inlet and outlet ports, and the cold water forced him to use more energy to keep his tissue warm. On the good side, his tissue was alive and well. He had good respiration and heart rate, among other physiological indicators.

An error message in a red box interrupted his infrared view of the passing riverbed. Ravage sighed internally, thinking that he would probably have to replace a jet engine or, unfreeze some sort of locked up hydraulic system, or…

Unauthorized Port Access?’ Ravage thought, as he read the message. ‘Port 32359? What’s going on!

Princess Luna soared in the ethereal plain. This particular dream state was the most bizarre one she had ever observed in her long life, the blackest place! It was like the night, but with no stars. Her wings flew in a windless void, for there was no surface for her hooves to walk on. “Ravage?” she called out.

Incoming Audio Message: ‘Ravage?

All stop!

Having turned off his turbines, Ravage quickly sank to the bottom of the river bed, assuming a comfortable sitting position on a large, algae covered rock. He turned off his infrared, because this new problem would need all of his focus. Just a couple of meters above, he could see the water’s surface with the Moon shining through it. Assuming a thinking pose even Rodin would be proud of, his fingers cupped the jaw of his panther head.

The stallion bot performed an anti-software scan, just in case. Ponies had nothing even remotely comparable to digital technology, and yet somehow Princess Luna had managed to infiltrate his mind through his subspace radio. The Decepticon smiled. ‘Touché.

Touché? What do you mean touché? And what are you stopping?

Realizing that any words he formed in thought could somehow be heard by Luna, the Decepticon switched to thinking in machine language, unless he wanted to address her directly. It was cumbersome, but effective as Luna’s presence didn’t seem to react to it.

The scan identified a group of memory clusters from which the audio was emitted. How Luna managed to do that was amazing. Either that or it was the cursed magic that infected every corner of Equestria. While many clusters had been linked, only a few stored data – yes, actual data – on the audio. Ravage decided that some video could be piped into the remaining clusters.

Luna was still coming up with no reason on why Ravage’s dream was so black when suddenly Ravage appeared right in front of her.

Can I help you?’ He used his pony form, of course.

How dare you run away like that!’ she scolded.

Ravage was sitting at the bottom of a river bed, out of harm’s way. If this was the best Luna could do to try to reach him then he had little to fear, at least immediately. ‘How dare you try to force me to be one of your playthings!

It was done out of love! And it is my right!

I don’t care. What you wanted to do was to bring my existence under the total control of yours.’ Ravage decided that being civil was the best tactic. Luna seemed immature for a princess.

You don’t want to be with me?’ she said, a sadness taking over her features.

I had known you for not even two minutes before you decided my fate.’ Ravage felt his logic was undeniable and very effective judging by the apparent weakening of Luna’s resolve.

I – I thought that it was every stallion’s dream to be courted by a princess,’ Luna rationalized.

Not all stallions are built the same.’ Truer words were never spoken. ‘So, of all the stallions available, why would you be interested in me?

Luna paused, looking away from Ravage, and collected her thoughts. ‘When I noticed how coveted you were by so many mares I became interested myself. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw you sitting by the lake, watching me. I took action, for I’ve developed a rather desperate need for intimate contact since my return from banishment. Needless to say, there are few ‘available’ stallions, and fewer who are as handsome, and fewer still with an intellect and courage like yours.

Courage?

Facing the Princess of the Night?

I was running away, but I think I see your point.

How did you pull that off? And – what is with this oppressive blackness?

Ravage’s underwater figure smiled again. He piped in video of a profile of Saturn’s upper cloud decks, billowing and churning, with lightning bolts that could incinerate a small ship. The Decepticon shuttle, Astrotrain, had used this place to stage an ambush on the Autobot, Cosmos.

Oh my…’ The Princess looked impressed at the yellow and golden-brown cloud formations. ‘Where is this place?

Just my imagination,’ he lied.

I’ve never seen a dreamer so lucid either,’ the Princess said to herself. She walked up to the Decepticon pony. ‘Ravage, may I please start again with you.’ She took his hoof into hers. ‘I’ve not had any experience with courtship in this new age, unfortunately.

Ravage wasn’t comfortable with Luna picking up his hoof like that, even if it was harmless video. Just then, he received a Proximity Alert from his base. He launched himself off of his watery sitting rock and started heading back. He reactivated his infrared sensors. ‘Start again? What do you mean?

Well, I want you to choose me, since me choosing you is not enough,’ she explained, and chuckled.

I’m not interested in a relationship.’ Like, at all. Ravage was adamant. Luna responded with her best ‘does not compute’ face. ‘Too much trouble,’ he added, trying to drive his point home.

Luna giggled. For the love of all that is quiet and still, not again!

Then let me convince you. We could at least spend a few hours to get to know each other, not in a dream, of course.’ Luna smiled confidently. She was a Princess after all, and this Ravage character would eventually succumb to her wiles. All she needed was some time.

The satellite reported two ponies on the elevated clearing from which Ravage first observed Princess Celestia! That’s what torched off the proximity alert. Ravage drew his sidearm, and crept up to the shoreline, all the while staying underwater. Their position was distant, but within the line of sight from the shore. The Decepticon activated his gun’s carbine mode. With a few minor transformations the gun got longer and more accurate, though less powerful. ‘Before you were banished, what did you do when you wanted intimate company?

Luna laughed, letting go of Ravage’s hoof. ‘I would just send out my guards and they would procure a pony for me. All I needed to do was specify the gender, and colour.’ Luna looked up, recalling better days. ‘Of course, my partners could not have been taking care of family, or something equally important.’ Luna believed that her rather revealing discourse wouldn’t see the light of day, since she was in the dreamscape of another pony, even if it felt unusual.

Ravage adjusted his form while still underwater, throwing his weapon forward and appearing to take aim. One hand was on the trigger, and the other cupped the newly extended barrel. In his hunched position, he lined up an eye through the sights. Then he slowly raised himself above the surface, exposing the top third of his body, river water gently cascading down his many metal facets, his gun already aiming at the two ponies. ‘Times have changed.

They most certainly have! Oh! One moment, Ravage. I have to take care of something.’ Luna closed her eyes as her horn glowed briefly. ‘And done! Sorry, just a small domestic issue I had to take care of.

Ravage had the two ponies in his sights. He calculated that 1.2 seconds would be needed to deal with them both. They were very unusual looking ponies, as they appeared to have bat wings. The Decepticon waited, knowing that killing ponies would almost certainly cancel his mission, not to mention himself – unless he transported the corpses very far away, say, by river. Before he could finish his thoughts, the two bat ponies looked away as if scrutinizing some distant object, and then they showed a lot of movement packing up the remains of some sort. He saw apples, eating utensils, various small cloths, and finally one big cloth being wrapped up. The two pressed mouths together while embracing before taking off into the sky. Ravage had his sidearm transform back into a pistol, before putting it away. There were no other ponies in the vicinity. ‘I hope your issue wasn’t too much trouble.

Oh, no trouble at all. So, did you want to meet again soon?

Ravage turned off his subspace radio.

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