• 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 8: Girls, Girls, Girls

Transformed



Chapter 8: Girls, Girls, Girls



Ravage’s head slowly emerged from under the base of a bridge, looking like a piece of driftwood. He scanned left and right while his telescopic ears bent and twisted in an almost machine-like manner scrounging up any stray sounds. Satisfied it was safe, the cautious pony bot climbed out of the river. His pony form and kegs full of food and drink dripped wet. Having arrived earlier than usual, his strategy was to make an exaggerated walk through Ponyville while he dried off. During his recent attempts to contact Cybertron, dozens of guards had been sent to the Ponyville area. At least two patrols had been sent into the Everfree forest too. He smiled. The worn Decepticon pony’s prank gave him solace amidst all the crazy events that had been happening lately.

Another reason for his good mood, regardless of how tired he was going to feel after toiling all day long, was that his ship would be finished constructing the energon collection parts he needed while he was at work.

His weary, but satisfied feel was continuously fueled everywhere he trod; the faces of tired ponies mixed with the buzz of guards flying and searching everywhere. Many folks were being interviewed as Ravage strolled by. Actually, it was a very strong response, he felt. Walking by Town Hall made him smile once again, as several shattered windows defaced the proud, but pretentious building; all the damage was on the north side.

“Halt!” commanded a nearby guard pony, causing him to stop. It appeared that he was to be interviewed as well. “Sir, I would like to ask you a couple of questions, please,” stated the armored stallion.

“Sure.” Ravage examined the colour codes on the guards clothing, trying to establish a relationship with pattern and function.

“You look tired,” the guard started. “May I ask why?”

“I was awakened by a loud crash.” Ravage overheard many ponies saying that very thing.

“Anything else?”

“Not really, no. What happened to Town Hall?” Ravage had no intention of acting differently from the other affected ponies, and easily maintained a veil of ignorance.

“I’ll ask the questions. Please take no offense.” The guard was only looking to do his job quickly so he could move on. “Did you see any rainbow trails?”

Ravage’s face contorted in disbelief. “Rainbow trails?”

“Did you see any?”

The Decepticon found the question to be unrelated to the incident that he himself caused. Also, Rainbow Dash didn’t wake up before the sunrise without good reason. “No.”

The disinterested guard decided that enough information was gathered. “Thank you for your time,” he said, before moving on.

Ravage started to think on what else he might do to Town Hall. Well placed bombs could collapse the whole structure into the basement, and just thinking about it gave the pony bot yet another reason to smile – that is, until he saw a pair of bat ponies.

His smile quickly contorted into a frown. It can’t be! he thought, before switching to machine language. Another bat pony flew by, followed by another, and then other. Ravage’s eye followed the flight paths to a wicked looking chariot that distantly approached from the mountain, its features a quagmire of darkly spikes and sharp edges.

He turned on his compass, and the needle swung directly at the incoming coach. Figuring that Princess Luna was headed toward the damage zone, the surprised pony bot picked up the pace and headed as far away from Town Hall as possible.


=^.^=


A knock came at the front door of the library, awakening Twilight Sparkle. She cracked an eye open, taking enormous effort to do so. She heard Spike’s little footsteps though, probably answering the call. Ah, good ‘ol Spike, she mused, as she resumed cuddling with Rainbow Dash, who didn’t wake up at all. She knew her bliss was about to end when Spike’s rushed footsteps were heard approaching up the stairwell. Soon, another knock occurred on her bedroom door.

Muted by the door’s thick wood, the troubled dragon’s voice came, “Twilight, wake up! The guards are here. They wanna speak to Rainbow Dash!”

That got Twilight’s attention, her eyes popping open at the implications. She shoved at her lover’s shoulder, trying to rouse her. “Rainbow, wake up,” she whispered. She and Dash had been woken up by a loud noise earlier that morning that sounded like a thunder clap. They both had gone onto the balcony to find out that it was foggy; Rainbow flew around to see what the cause was. There were no storm clouds, and most ponies were still in their homes, except perhaps Applejack. The two ponies decided to speak to their farmer friend at a later time and returned to sleep, since there appeared to be no immediate danger. “Rainbow!” she hissed, “The guards want to talk to you.”

Now figuring out why it was so important that the athlete’s sleep be interrupted, Rainbow Dash’s eyes sprung open. Her body shook violently, as Twilight had started using her magic to wake her. “Okay, okay! I’m up!”

At their request Rainbow Dash was separated from Twilight, and Lieutenant Consummate Curiosity conducted a heated interview. It became clear pretty early on why they wanted to talk to the junior Wonderbolt specifically. “Miss Dash, all of the broken glass was on the inside of the building; several windows were broken on the same side; most of the damage was on the second floor. Now, what aside from an aerial blast wave could have done this?” she prodded.

“You think I did a sonic rainboom in my sleep?” Rainbow rebuked. Her frazzled forelock couldn’t hide her contempt.

“There were witnesses.”

But before Rainbow could lose control, “Rainbow Dash and I were sleeping when we were awakened by a loud crash,” interrupted a crown bearing Twilight Sparkle, slowly, difficultly descending to the floor with her wings. Having put on her work clothes, the guards both bowed.

“How do you know Miss Dash was sleeping when it happened?” Consummate prodded.

“Because she was sleeping with me,” Twilight explained, referring to herself by hoof, and looking pretty angry. The Canterlot-sent guards had no idea how to respond to this rather fantastic news, as the rumors of the Elements having formed a herd were just confirmed. Twilight looked to her partner and saw Rainbow’s face scrunched up in annoyance; however, ‘I got this’ was not uttered this time. Taking that information as a green light, the Princess proceeded. “If you’re going around accusing ponies of misdemeanors without evidence, I suggest rethinking your career objectives. Now kindly do your jobs and gather any information you can, and do NOT shake your hooves at anypony until you are absolutely certain, or at least until a trial can be prepared.”

Both bowed once again at the royal command, but Consummate braved expressing her opinion, “With all due respect, Princess, what do you think may have caused that sonic rainb- blast wave?”

Twilight leaned in calmly, leaving only a muzzle’s width of space between her and the guard. “I don’t know,” she said calmly, temporarily showing a face of understanding. “But that’s what we have the scientific method for. Now go!”

One final, quick bow and the guards left.

As expected, Rainbow Dash was still upset. “I could have handled it, ya know.”

“I know, Rainbow.” Twilight hugged and nuzzled her pegasus herdmate, and then administered delicate little nibbles to the back and bottom of one of her ears.

The volatile pegasus gasped and calmed down almost immediately. “Just gimme’ more of a chance next time, okay?”

Twilight landed one last sloppy kiss on the ear, “Alright Rainbow, I’ll try my best.” The Princess disliked giving vague answers, but she didn’t feel like discussing boundaries at the moment.

“I think I need to see Applejack,” Rainbow decided.

Twilight’s face lit up, “Yes! Great idea! She may have actually seen something through the fog.”

“Or lack of fog. Remember what happens when I do a sonic rainboom inside a cloud?” The junior Wonderbolt winked and flew out.

Twilight was very satisfied with Rainbow’s reasoning, and happy that she’s not as thick-headed as many make her out to be. She felt it might not be enough though. “Spike, I’m going out for a while…”


=^.^=


Luna sat inside her coach, which was parked a couple of blocks from town hall; guards barricaded the nearby roads and walkways, and formed a secured perimeter around their Princess. The disaster prone village had yet another unexplained and disruptive event. The typical results from such occurrences were property damage, and the threatening of ponies’ lives. Well this time, Luna was not tolerating it. Ravage lived here! Her bond with him had strengthened to the point that she could feel that he was in good health, and she intended to keep it that way. His residing in Ponyville tipped her decision to come down and investigate the incident herself instead of sleeping, regardless of her afternoon schedule.

A guard opened the door, and Mayor Mare clambered inside the chariot’s plush interior. There was plenty of room to bow, so she did so. “Your highness.”

“What happened?” Luna asked plainly.

The mayor righted herself quickly and answered. “There was a loud noise before the sunrise, like a thunder clap, that managed to wake up nearly every citizen in Ponyville!”

“Were there injuries?”

“No, not from what we can tell. Oh, but our poor town hall! So many windows were broken, mostly on the second floor,” Mayor Mare described, trying to stick to the facts.

Luna’s time was limited, so she needed to move quickly. “Assess the damage. Gather evidence, and try to come up with an explanation. Then clean up. I will personally cover the cost of replacing your windows.”

Mayor Mare’s face brightened up, and she gasped in joy. “Oh my!” she gushed. “That is so kind of you!”

Luna chuckled a bit and rattled her right hoof at the mayor, trying to calm her down. “But I want you to do something for me.”

“Oh?” A green tube, paired with green parchment floated to the politician in Luna’s magical glow. “Is this what I think it is?”

“Quickpaper, enchanted in a way much like Spike’s dragonfire. I assume you know of Spike?”

The mayor nodded fervently and smiled, “Of course, your highness.” Then, her face gained an air of seriousness, “So I just write a message down and put it in the tube?” Every hamlet, village, town, and city was supposed to govern themselves, preferably with zero oversight from the ruling Princesses. What Luna was doing was highly irregular.

“Correct. Your message will be instantly teleported before me.” Luna knew her underling wasn’t convinced. She leaned forward, getting inside of the mayor’s personal space. “You have only three sheets. They’re difficult to produce and it takes alicorn magic.”

Mayor Mare supported her chin with her hoof for a bit while she pondered. “So you want me to notify you if there’s a town emergency,” she suggested. Luna smiled and nodded. The mayor gestured to the town outside of the carriage. “This does not qualify as an emergency.”

Now it was Luna’s turn to ponder; only she finished her thoughts more quickly. “In that case, notify me whenever something out of the ordinary happens until you run out of sheets. Dismissed!” she rapid fired.

Mayor Mare jumped a bit at the command, “Yes, my liege,” curtly bowing. She exited with the messaging equipment in her teeth.

The guards purposely waited a couple of minutes after Princess Luna was done with her first guest. She liked to reflect and plan while relaxing with a drink which was a nice, cool glass of white wine in this case.

The Dark Princess was really waiting for a specific pony to show up for debriefing, one whom she sent for before she left Canterlot. She would be taking on visitors until that moment. The guard opened the door once again, and Twilight Sparkle herself entered Luna’s private space.

“Twilight, how good to see you again!” Luna dispensed cordially.

“Princess Luna,” Twilight replied, nodding curtly.

“I gather you have thought on this morning’s disruptive events?” The level of professionalism drowned out what little affection there was.

“I have. Something woke everypony up before the Celestia raised the sun – and – you seem to be stonewalling my requests to discuss revamping the infrastructure for researching, developing, and teaching science,” Twilight stated with great seriousness.

“I am aware of your unreasonable request. I will make time for a formal meeting on it next month. This, I promise.” Luna had a feeling that their talk was about to start right away. “Besides, the children actually take science classes as part of their curriculum by royal mandate. Is that not satisfactory?”

“Absolutely not,” Twilight rebuked. “They are learning about the components of our world, and how they interact and work together, but that is not science. It’s memorization. The crucial idea left out is the scientific method. I just saw a cadre of trained guards all but accuse Rainbow Dash of causing the damage to Town Hall, long before the evidence was gathered up and processed.”

“I can assure you that accusation without proof is unacceptable. Those guards will be reprimanded,” Luna shot back. “And what does this have to do with your quest for science?”

“Everything,” the Element Princess replied plainly.

Luna raised an eyebrow. She didn’t know whether to cheer Twilight’s passion, or belittle her for it. “You’re a great one for deduction, Twilight. Alright, explain to me how science, this morning’s noise, and the broken windows on Town Hall are related.” Luna crossed her forelegs, waiting to be entertained.

Twilight made herself more comfortable. “The scientific method is essential for science, but it is applicable to any problem, particularly where the causes and effects have never been encountered. This morning’s noise and associated damage is a perfect example.”

Luna sat calmly, unmoved. “Go on.”

Twilight became electrified with the thrill of progress. Having sensed that her chance to fully advance her ideas was at hoof, she eagerly grasped it. “If those guards had been trained to approach their evidence collection and interviews in a more scientific manner then the Lieutenant may have never insinuated that Rainbow Dash did the damage.”

“Consummate Curiosity was it? I’ll remember her. However, the fog was not dispersed by the noise so that automatically clears Rainbow Dash. The Lieutenant is not as big a Wonderbolt fan as you and I are,” the Night Princess winked, purposely using the singular.

Twilight was unfazed at the veiled, but lewd remark. “I feel that all young ponies need to be formally introduced to the scientific method, and tested appropriately. Also, I feel that organizations where problem solving involving unknown variables is the norm, like the police, should embrace the scientific method and put it into practice.”

“You want to change the world,” quipped Luna, grinning, her cheek resting on one of her hoof shoes. “How ambitious.”

“Isn’t that what Princesses do?” Twilight was well aware that her function as a Princess had to have a grander purpose than merely reading and expanding her personal knowledge pool.

“Well, keeping everypony happy and everything working smoothly is our top priority. We prefer to let society advance itself.” Luna knew her broad definition of Princess-work wasn’t going to stop her implacable guest.

“I wish to enhance pony education with this idea,” Twilight continued. “It will lead to superior performance in many disciplines. Reasoning without proof, and needless assumptions will be relegated to the imagination.” The accomplished alicorn held her nose high, like a Canterlot noble.

Luna golf-clapped with her front hooves. “More science, just what ponies need.”

Twilight overlooked the sarcastic remark. “Then it sounds like it’s time for us to discuss the other side of my proposal: applied science.” Luna was unresponsive, but Twilight powered through. “Most of our technology is dependent on magic. It’s fantastic really, and I’ve enjoyed devoting my life to its study, but ever since I became a Princess, I’ve – I’ve kinda been a little disturbed by our unfettered use of magic.”

Luna’s face screwed up at this. “But you’re the Princess of Magic!”

“Let me explain,” Twilight said as she held a hoof up. “We are blessed with magic in this world, and all ponies have it in some form or another. But we don’t know if it’s ubiquitous. Does it work at the bottom of the ocean? Does it work miles underground?”

“If it didn’t work on the Moon, I’d be dead. How’s that for ubiquitous?”

“That’s still assumption,” Twilight maintained. Luna rolled her eyes up in annoyance, but the former pupil of Celestia needed to push on. “In fact, it took the use of the very science I’m trying to propagate in order for ponies to understand and develop magic.”

“The scientific method you aspire to understand and help flourish also has another name. Do you know what it is?” Luna countered. Twilight gestured for Luna to continue. “It’s called reason.”

“But the scientific method is a form of reason; a systematic approach!”

“It seems we’ve deviated from the other half of your proposal, Twilight. Applied science?” Luna didn’t have all day.

“Oh my!” Twilight realized she was getting off track, and reached into her saddlebag.

“It’s all right, Twilight Sparkle. Conversations with you will always be stimulating,” Luna soothed.

She pulled out a small device. “Look at this,” she urged. Upon a wooden platform, a metal box with wires coming out of it attached to a small light in front, also attached to the wood.

“What, pray tell, am I looking at?” Luna was perplexed at the tiny light accompanied by all the metal gear.

Twilight flicked a switch with her muzzle, and the light came on. “Do you know what makes this device amazing?” Luna raised an eyebrow, not impressed at all. “It uses no magic.”

Luna twisted her head to and fro, looking at the tiny machine closely. She formulated a response, not understanding why Twilight would put her weight behind such an inferior device. “We are underwhelmed.”

“The lights in a flashlight use batteries like this device, but they’re magically enhanced. In fact, when you look at it, most of our technology arises from pursuits of pure science, but then it’s quickly enhanced by magic.”

“And this is a problem how?” Luna challenged. “It sounds like you’re describing a good marriage between the two disciplines.”

“The laws of nature never change. Magic, however, is at their mercy. It can change, and it has. There are mountains of documentation that suggest that magical energy actually weakens whenever there is a delay in raising the sun or the moon. And not just for ponies either,” Twilight described.

Luna suddenly became interested, her ears pricking up. “How much of a change are we talking?”

“Point one percent!” Twilight replied, raising her head high as she spoke.

Luna suddenly became very disinterested, as she difficultly resisted frowning. “I see.”

“I believe that magic is finite, Luna. It can be blocked. It can be corrupted. It can be stolen. Things like gravity, heat, and light behave reliably the same every day.”

“You’ll get no argument from me on those points, except for magic being finite.”

“I also believe that galvanizing our every technological development with magic actually thwarts its advancement. The science ends as soon as a device is perfected with magic, at least from understanding it using the natural laws of our world.”

Luna thought for a few moments, trying to piece an appropriate response to what her royal counterpart was saying. “So, enhancing a device with magic, a discipline you agree uses the scientific method for its development and implementation, isn’t good enough for you. You want technology to be as good without magic, as it is with it.” Twilight nodded. “No industry will champion such a cause, you do realize that. The resources needed would be astounding, yet magic is free for all to use.”

“But we could redevelop technologies in Canterlot,” Twilight countered. “All we have to do is install new, far more substantial facilities so we could properly do the research and testing.”

“We already have the Faculty of Science at Canterlot University.”

“Yeah,” Twilight said sardonically, “In the annex of the Music Hall. That’s pathetic!”

“It performs its function admirably, does it not?” Luna knew Twilight had a good point, but didn’t want to get into the monetary values needed for the proposed change that could rival military expenditures.

Twilight wasn’t finished. “More than that, I firmly believe that we’re missing out on developing associated technologies. Take a carriage, for example. It has to be pulled by ponies. Imagine a carriage that can move under its own power! We can do this with enchantments, yes, but it would be tremendously difficult to cast properly, and to cover the distance from Ponyville to Canterlot would use more mana than can be found in a small town,” Twilight paused, “Or, -ahem- I could do it.”

“And I suppose you want them to move fast enough to drive from Ponyville to Canterlot in less than an hour,” Luna teased. Twilight’s face lit up at the thrill of a great new idea. Luna intervened as quickly as she could. “Easy Twilight,” she soothed again, trying to calm the young alicorn, leaning in and rubbing her right shoulder as she did.

“Well, that’s my proposal,” Twilight concluded, calming down. “Revamp our facilities so we can develop technologies that can flourish without magic. Revamp our education system so that the scientific method can at least be considered by young adults when encountering a problem, and implemented by organizations that need it the most, like our police guards.” Reading Luna’s reaction though, Twilight’s chipper mood was slowly replaced with sadness.

After carefully thinking, Luna responded. “These kinds of ideas shouldn’t take hold in the royal domain and filter down the ranks until it has touched everypony. Ponies will resist them. Strongly!” Luna kept rubbing Twilight’s shoulder, and tried as hard as she could be a friend, in particular, a friend that delivered bad news. “Instead, start from the grassroots up. Hold public forums on your ideas, and encourage teachers, researchers, vets – anypony with a stake in the sciences – to attend them. You have a travel budget, use it! Remember, stripped down to our basic fiber, we’re all creatures of habit, and we naturally get defensive when change comes knocking at our door.”

Twilight’s head slumped low, processing the wisdom of the Night Princess. It was going to take much, much longer to see her vision if she had to communicate her ideas pony by pony. Her eyes looked up to Luna in an almost foal-like manner. “Do you like my ideas?”

“Developing more technology with pure science? Training professionals to act more responsibly? How could I not?” Luna decided that enhancing research and development using only the natural laws of the world didn’t threaten magic, and probably never would. Most crucially though, Canterlot didn’t have to raise taxes or drain the treasury if such ideas were launched too soon. “In fact, I’d like to attend a few of your lectures.”

Twilight’s smile returned with gusto. She leapt up, wings springing out, and hugged the other Princess. “Thank you Luna! You’ve been a big help,” she gushed, nuzzling into her friend’s long neck.

Luna soaked it in and visibly exhaled, wrapping her forelegs around Twilight, as if she’d found instant relief. Now, if only I could get Ravage to do that, she thought.

Twilight released Luna from her affectionate grip and the two resumed their normal seating. “Just work at it, Twilight. I’m confident in your abilities.” Luna enjoyed Twilight’s cute little blush from her supportive words.

The Elemental Princess basked in the compromise. Knowing she would soon be immersing herself in the details of Equestria’s scientific redevelopment, the preparing of its exposition excited her. She was so happy she could hardly contain herself! “Thank Celestia for the scientific method!” she proclaimed. “She’s the one who taught it to me, you know.” Luna grinned at how cute it was that Twilight always held her sister on such a high pedestal. “And special thanks to the one who taught it to her!” Twilight announced, holding a hoof in the air.

Luna blushed a little bit, and turned her head to the side, holding one of her hooves to her breast plate. “Why, thank you,” she spoke calmly, smiling.

Twilight ceased all motion as her eyes opened as wide as search lights, and her jaw was gaped and ajar at the shock of disbelief. She didn’t believe it, but attempted to confirm Luna’s involvement. “Y- you?”

“Celestia isn’t the wellspring of all Equestrian learning, my friend. I contributed plenty, as did many other ponies.”

“That’s so incredible... Wow!” Thinking back, Twilight knew that Luna was right and that in addition to Celestia’s timely leadership, Equestria was built by countless ponies. Having accepted Luna’s surprise history lesson, Twilight calmed down once again. “I – I really think I should get to know you better, Luna.” She gasped at the sudden onset of an idea, “We could talk about science!” she gushed.

“We’ll fit it into our schedule. How does that sound?” She giggled a bit at Twilight’s emphatic nodding then poured herself another glass of wine. “Wine?” Luna offered her scientific friend. Twilight declined gracefully. “How’s the herd doing?” she asked before taking a swig.

“Oh! Very well, indeed. It looks like we’ll be dating Ravage too.”

Luna did a spit-take at the new development, covering Twilight’s face in expensive Griffonian white wine. Having experienced this kind of reaction many times before, Twilight just let the precious liquid drip off her face as if she didn’t notice it. “Uh, was it something I said?”

“Oh noooo, nooo…” Luna fibbed. “Just happy to hear it, eh heh.” The Dark Princess was grimacing now. The one group powerful enough to stop her was now interested in the same stallion!

The air became heavy with unwelcome emotions. Twilight was sensing that their hard sought bonding was about to be derailed. “Oh! Well then I’ll just let you get on with your day, er, sleeping that is,” she said, quickly bowing. “Have a good sleep!” Upon wishing Luna well, the Princess of Magic quickly exited the coach.

Luna slumped in her comfy seating. She wasn’t surprised that there were other mares interested in Ravage, but why the Elements! She was a good pony now; she didn’t want to back-stab the ones who saved her from Nightmare Moon. The difficulty had been doubled!

A couple of minutes passed as Luna valiantly tried to assess what kind of threat the Elements were to her interest in Ravage. Just then, a hooded figure walked into the coach – a tall mare, judging by the build.

Sitting down, she flipped the hood back and revealed herself. “Can I hitch a ride?” Aster asked, charming as ever.

Relieved, Luna smiled and relaxed. She tapped the side wall three times, a signal for the coach to take off. The two mare’s bodies rocked gently as the coach was hauled into flight.

Luna closed her eyes as relaxed more deeply, sensing that sleep was not far away. “Please share your thoughts with me, Aster.”

“On this morning?” Aster supported her chin with a hoof in concentration. “Nopony was even remotely injured, and only one building was damaged: Town Hall. Just vandalism. In fact, I’d say this has all the ear marks of a prank.”

“Very well,” Princess Luna nodded with her eyes still closed. She didn’t think it was that serious either. “Did you uncover anything untoward, or new about the griffons’ information?” Luna asked, snuggling into the posh upholstery.

“It looks legitimate. They’re not trying to pull anything,” Aster responded professionally. “Isn’t your meeting in a few hours?”

“Yes, unfortunately,” The Princess lamented, her eyes comfortably closed, and her voice getting fainter.

“In that case, why don’t you just nod off,” the agent suggested, but found out that Luna had beaten her to the punch, her head having lazily fallen to the side with her jaw opened just a touch. Aster smiled at the rare moment of peace her Princess managed to eke out for herself and let her be.


=^.^=


Fluttershy walked down Ponyville’s main strip. It was lunch time and she was hungry. Catching Rarity before she broke for lunch was her plan, even though the dress maker prudently emphasized planning ahead. Regardless, the elegant yellow pegasus needed to talk to this friend in particular.

Fluttershy had gone to bed the previous night thinking about Ravage. When she slept, she dreamed about him. After rising, the smitten pegasus continued thinking about him, even while she interacted with her animals. Without a doubt, she wanted to be with him, but what was the best way to proceed? Her herd’s decision to explore him further certainly helped strengthen her resolve, but she needed to hear Rarity out first. She organized all the information regarding her feelings about Ravage, so that Rarity may process it more easily.

And how did the Element of Kindness feel about the elusive stallion? She wanted him. She thought about what happened at Pearl’s party many times. Admittedly, Winter was fun. With Fluttershy so lonely and enamored, the prurient unicorn was only too happy to be on the receiving end of the dam burst of pent up romantic frustration. Even so, Fluttershy still wished that she could have projected herself onto Ravage.

The typically shy pegasus was hooked the moment she laid eyes on him at lunch the previous Friday. He had an edge to him; an attitude that could cut through anything. Ironically, he felt darker, and scarier than the average male, yet Fluttershy felt safer around him than any other pony, save the Princesses. He was able to talk to any of her friends, and make them happy. He was also willing to participate in quite a wide variety of activities, even if he had to learn them. These were attributes that only a scant few stallions possessed. Finally, he had eyes like pools of silver; rich and expressive. After a little digging, she found that silver, or grey according to some ponies, shouldn’t even exist on the eye colour palate. Somehow, this made Fluttershy desire him even more.

It was at about that time that Fluttershy realized that she had been sitting down on her haunches, staring into the open blue sky for no apparent reason. A cursory look around showed that a couple of ponies were actually staring at her as if something was wrong. She ‘eeped’ and blushed, and was about to get back on all fours when she noticed a trail of drool had just stuck itself to her neck. Quickly wiping it off, she proceeded eastward, getting away from the staring ponies.

She approached the construction site where he worked, as it intersected the route to Rarity’s. Her face brightened with the thrill of discovery when she deduced that in just a couple of minutes she could actually be with him, and took to the air enthusiastically. It was lunch time, after all. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Cloudchaser in flight. Her group was also interested in Ravage, and they pursued him aggressively. With this thought, Fluttershy’s objective was made all the more clear: find Ravage.

The enamoured pegasus flew over the construction site. Using the information she’d gleaned from the party, she knew that lunch times were stringently observed, and hoped to spot him from the air. The law prohibited her from flying lower than the highest crane, so she carefully scrutinized each little gathering for his telltale black mane and brown coat. Unable to locate him in the compound, Fluttershy flew in toward the engineering trailer, hoping he might have been in there. Not once in her adult life had she been so keen on finding a stallion just to be with him. It was a feeling that was frightening and exhilarating all at once. She opened the door to the trailer and found that it was empty. Where could he be?


=^.^=


Pearl Bliss, Winter, and Saffron left their shop to go to lunch, still clad in their work uniforms.

“So, not the Flower Factory?” Pearl suggested.

“But I like Flower Factory!” Saffron had been looking forward to a daisy and celery sandwich all morning.

“They raised their prices.” With no responses from her comrades, Pearl felt that statement ended the debate. All that was left was to figure out where to eat. “We could try – hell-ooo…” The freckle-faced unicorn stopped what she was saying when she noticed Cloudchaser approaching their position – fast! “It looks like we might have to modify our lunch plans, girls.”

Cloudchaser landed beside her three unicorn friends. “Guess who I found?”

“Money?”

“Carrots?”

“No!” the pegasus lamented, applying her hoof to her face like it was salve.

“Silly Cloudchaser, any inanimate object can be part of a pony’s name,” Pearl Bliss dead panned, earning a couple of snorts and chuckles from the other unicorns.

“Is ‘Ravage’ an inanimate object?” the indefatigable weather pony countered. All three unicorns froze in lieu of the new information, with their eyes widened their mouths forming cute little O’s. Cloudchaser crossed her forelegs in smug satisfaction. “Yeah, I didn’t think so either.”

Winter suddenly looked very concerned. “The coupons!”

“They’re in my sock,” Pearl Bliss said, answering the implied question.

“Ew!” the slinky winter unicorn shuddered. Winter had bad experiences with overused socks.

“In the clean set, Winter. Where did you put the clothes I took off the line yesterday?” Pearl inquired.

Winter looked up, trying to remember her actions from eighteen hours previous. She quickly went back inside the shop, which doubled as her uncle’s home, intent on tracing her hoof steps back to the suddenly very important socks. Pearl Bliss followed her in.

Cloudchaser watched the two unicorns fumble about, trying to remember where their coupons went. Then she noticed Saffron was giving her a funny look. “What?”

In a squeaky, yet cool and collected voice, “You’re totally going to crash Flitter’s date, aren’t you?” she accused, but with more than a hint of mirth written on her face.

Cloudchaser said nothing, but a sideways glance with a raised eyebrow was all the information Saffron needed.

“You are!” the light orange unicorn declared, smirking and being surprised all at once.

“Hey, she asked me to,” the pegasus mare reasoned. “Connections. Besides, we work together when it comes to fun time with stallions, so it’s not really surprising.”

“Ah, so that’s how it is.” Saffron was actually quite jealous, but she’d long since learned how to keep that emotion in check.

“Social networking is more important than rain,” Cloudchaser propounded. Her friend nodded in agreement.

Pearl Bliss and Winter rejoined Saffron, and Cloudchaser flew off, having told them where Ravage was.


=^.^=



Ravage and some of his coworkers were relaxing in a park. It was a much cooler day out, and their increased mobility made them seek out nature’s greenery; the shade of an oak tree provided the perfect dining platform. It was about a month into spring and such days were to become scarcer so they took advantage while they could.

Die Cast and Rock Crusher had an involved conversation about some sort of hoofball league to which Micah had a passive interest in.

Bo saw that Ravage was once again eating oatmeal, “When’s the last time you’ve been shopping?” she asked incredulously.

“Last Saturday,” the Decepticon answered plainly.

“Don’t you get bored of the same thing everyday?” she asked.

“Admittedly, yes.” Ravage kept eating his food indifferently. He was seriously considering making a dash for groceries after work though. A well executed foray into the shopping district in a way that minimized the distance traveled between food stands should significantly reduce his exposure to the mares, he thought. His saying ‘no’ to date requests had never worked even once, and he knew it was a good bet that the determined females would keep badgering him. If he knew ahead of time which ones were not ‘single’, that would have been a great help. If fact, he considered updating his pony database to do precisely that task! Ravage’s eyes narrowed, liking the tool of indicating relationship status more and more.

Just as he was pondering his food acquisition plan the three unicorn mares, Pearl Bliss, Winter, and Saffron approached from a distance, easily identified by their green and white work shirts. Ravage shoved spoonful after spoonful of oatmeal into his mouth with almost machine-like repetition trying to consume as much as he could before he had to talk to them.

He noticed Winter though. Like the shining jewel of a mare she was, she easily stood out in a crowd. Winter broke ahead of her friends, and approached enthusiastically. Her immaculate white face was rife with mischief, like the blizzards that ravaged the continents of Darmacron-5. Bouncing with each hoof fall, her long, baby blue bangs spanned the curvature of her forehead, and then cascaded downward in an elegant, shimmering sine wave that cast itself into tresses that rolled inward beside her soft white neck. Reactor cores of blue energon could hardly…

“Hungry stallion, aren’t ya?”

Blinking as if having awakened from a dream, he noticed Winter right in front of him. Ravage shook his head as he silently chastised himself. Did he just stare at her mane? And her face!? The Decepticon felt his heart beating hard in his chest – hard enough to register against the inside of his metal rib cage. This was not good, not good at all!

The effect was worsened when Winter hooked her right foreleg around the back of his neck like a clamp, and into his left ear, “And I meant the other kind of hungry,” she whispered teasingly. Ravage’s exasperated mood only served to encourage the passionate unicorn further, who then started massaging his shoulders.

“Whoah, is that really your thermos?” Saffron observed as her hoof clanked the side of Ravage’s radioactive waste vessel turned water keg.

Unlike Winter, who seemed to think she could do whatever came to her little pony mind as if there were no consequences, the Decepticon welcomed Saffron’s more down to earth nature. “Indeed. It gets hot working on that building,” he explained, just before gasping at Winter’s hooves finding another sore muscle group. He didn’t want that pony touching him, he really didn’t, but whatever she was doing was positively delightful! If his muscles could talk they would be thanking her.

Winter continued to work on Ravage’s shoulders, “You don’t need a building to get that way, Sweetie.” She kissed the back of his left ear, and relished in the very noticeable shiver on his back.

“Beggin’ yer pardon, but who in Tartarus are you three?” Die Cast asked calmly, though pointedly.

Rock Crusher crossed his forelegs, finding these three ponies to be highly invasive.

“Ah!” Pearl replied, “I’m Pearl Bliss and these are my friends, Winter and Saffron.” Though introductions were long overdue, she felt she didn’t need to point out that Winter was the one with the snowflake on her flank. The alert unicorn also picked up a lot of negative emotion coming from Ravage’s construction buddies.

Ravage couldn’t help but sink into the bounty of attention that Winter was giving, and his eyes had long since closed. He didn’t notice that he had dropped his spoon in the grass. The attentiveness, it reminded him of Fluttershy. The way the soft spoken pegasus had been going on, he actually saw her giving him shoulder rubs like this.

Saffron assumed a position beside Ravage and threw her left foreleg around his right shoulder. “We’ve come to ask Ravage out on a date,” she announced plainly.

Ravage’s eyes opened up widely. How was he supposed to refuse a date request now? He had all but ogled Winter, and then did nothing to block her affection. More than that, he had expected only one of them to come forth and ask him out – but all three? His face focused in concentration. There had to be a way out of this.

Bo and Micah had a look on them that somewhere between surprised and upset. Ravage, who had so prudently avoided getting romantically involved with other ponies, was allowing himself to be whisked away by this group. It was puzzling, and they didn’t like the look of it.

“Wait a minute, all three?” Ravaged asked, pretending to be surprised. “I can’t do that. It is too much.”

“Threesome and foursome dates are more common than you think, Ravage,” Saffron parried.

“And by foursomes, we’re not talking double dates,” Winter added lasciviously.

Pearl Bliss thought she heard a crackle of magic coming from Ravage’s group. Any more dumb comments from Winter, and they could intervene. Very strongly! “Uh say, girls! Could you leave Ravage alone for just a bit?” From years of friendship, Winter and Saffron were finely tuned to Pearl’s voice stressors, and let him be almost immediately. They walked to Pearl’s side.

Pearl took a step closer to the construction group. “I’m sorry that we disturbed your quiet lunch. That was rude. We’ve been interested in Ravage for some time, and yes, we’ve come to ask him out.”

“He hasn’t got a lot of experience with mares,” Rock Crusher stated. “The three of you might be overwhelming.”

“He came to our Libido Nocta party, as did Princess Luna,” Pearl countered.

Ravage was trying to figure out what was going on. One moment, the unicorn mares were all over him, the next they’re debating with his coworkers on a date they wanted to make with him. It was strange behavior and the Decepticon observed it carefully, trying to take in every detail.

Micah leaned forward to speak. “He’s new in town, and parties are a good way to get to know the neighbors…” The engineer and his wife didn’t want these mares taking advantage of Ravage, especially since he couldn’t possibly know who’s in what herd, or other arrangement. He was a good pony, and yet claimed to want nothing to do with relationships. He therefore, should not have gone to that party. Was he pressured to? “I guess we’re just concerned about whether or not he’ll be treated decently. Also, he is to be Princess Luna’s first date in over a thousand years. Isn’t that significant?”

“We’re not gonna break him, we’re just gonna have a little fun.” Saffron didn’t see what the problem was. Princess Luna’s approaching date with him was pretty much her seal of approval. Luna courting him would have been a different matter entirely.

The ruling Princesses tended to avoid bonding with, and then subsequently outliving their mates. For Princess Luna, however, Ravage was special case, complete with a magical bond. Though he refused her courtship, he did eventually settle on a date with her – better than nothing!

Bo was worried that her group’s comments may have made them look like they were mothering Ravage, but thankfully the conversation turned out to be a civil debate. For a responsible adult, Ravage lacked knowledge of the opposite sex, and his friends were well aware of that deficiency. The audacious mares were after a pony who Bo thought was an asexual stallion, but that characteristic seemed to be slowly changing, judging by a complete lack of anger at Winter’s just walking up and smothering him.

Pearl Bliss was relieved to see that Ravage’s watchful friends had calmed own. “I have the perfect idea for a date,” and looking over to their stallion of interest, “If Ravage accepts of course.”

Ravage raised an eyebrow and tilted his head. Were these three after his friends’ approval?

Winter turned sharply toward Pearl Bliss, “I thought we had an idea?”

“Hear me out,” Pearl insisted. “Ravage, would you want to have a picnic with us on Sunday afternoon? Pretty much what you’re doing now with your construction friends, but it will be with us. Games, food, good times. What do ya say?” Pearl could almost smell the burnt mane of Winter, smoldering from the heat of her disagreement. The construction workers seemed passive – good!

“So it would be like the hoofball then?” Ravage didn’t have any qualms about doing more sports!

“And swimming!” Saffron enthusiastically added. Ravage’s eyes widened at the idea, and a genuine smile graced her face.

Winter’s friends looked at her expectantly. This was not what they planned. Clearly, they didn’t want to provoke Ravage’s crew and changed plans on the fly! She felt like snarling at having to reign in her passion for the handsome stallion, but kept herself in check, allowing only her eyes to telegraph what she really thought of the situation. Ravage seemed calm, almost clueless in fact, which Winter found to be charming and sexy – par for the course for Ravage! For his sake, she would fold without an argument this time. “Okay girls, I’ll bring the volleyball stuff.” She walked in toward her target stallion, lavender eyes locked onto silver. “How about it, Ravage?” Her smile was subdued compared to the almost Pinkie Pie level she exhibited when she first walked up to Ravage this day.

Ravage was only too happy to converse with a tamer version of Winter. Also, sports are fun! Ravage had put a hoof to his chin to think about it.

“We could meet at high noon on Sunday at this oak tree,” Winter suggested, looking to her friends to see their appreciative nods. It wasn’t often that Winter took the reins.

“Sure, okay,” Ravage said, nodding in agreement. Sunday events tended not to spill into the night, since almost everybody worked the next morning. He also admitted to himself that he like playing sports, and actually looked forward to Sunday’s games.

“Alright then, it’s a date!” the white unicorn squeaked, her enthusiasm returning. It was a date, and with Ravage!

“Time to have lunch?” Saffron prodded.

In more ways than one, was a quip that Winter yearned to say while perusing the chiseled features of Ravage’s body, but she restrained herself. It was as if she had turned on additional mental filters.

“Definitely, but before we go,” Pearl Bliss produced a hoof full of coupons and levitated them to Ravage and his construction friends, “Enjoy a free game of mini-golf, on us.” The pleased looks were a welcome change from the scowls the unicorn trio had to endure just a few minutes earlier. Ravage was nonplussed as he looked at his ticket. “Don’t worry, Ravage, we’ll show you how to play.”

A few courteous ‘thank yous’ and goodbyes later, Pearl Bliss and Saffron started heading toward the restaurant block. Winter stuck back, not wanting to leave Ravage so soon. She trotted up to her coming date and kissed him on the cheek, smiling at his smirking, semi-surprised look, and then rejoined her friends.

The way the three unicorn mare unit worked was that if one hooked up with a pony, all three benefited, like a herd. Flitter and Cloudchaser, also good friends of theirs for a long time, used the same technique and sought to expand their range, though they usually snagged stallions. Since the pegasus and unicorn units worked the same way, and all decided Ravage was a particularly good catch, they combined their efforts in order to increase their chances of getting with him.

Recently though, the maturing mares of both groups had discussed forming a herd for real. After all, they knew each other very well, lived close together, they all worked and pulled in incomes, and they had their fun together. An official herd seemed to be the next logical step.

Winter wasn’t completely sold on the idea though. Was it a problem of being the youngest in the group? Almost certainly, but she still didn’t like it. She liked the idea of lavishing a pony with good times and satisfying herself in the process, and then moving onto the next pony; she loved to browse the selection. She loved to ‘hunt’ her pony prey, and used her looks and charm in increasingly diabolical schemes. Sticking with the same friends was fine for that’s what she’d always done, but sticking with the same target stallion or mare was a foreign concept to her.

The girls walked into the more urban areas of Ponyville. “Thanks for changing your mind, Winter. You really came through,” Pearl praised.

“We’re still camping, right?” the still fuming mare attempted to confirm. Her friends’ nods were relieving.

Saffron offered her assessment, “Ravage is shy, girl. Chances are he would have run away if we tried anything sexy with him.” This also explained his sudden absence at the party. She was secretly thankful his construction friends were there to keep her group under control.

Winter wasn’t quite convinced. “Hmmm, I dunno. I’d think he’d come around.”

Pearl laughed, “Count your blessings when you get them! Did you see that?” she asked, but looked precisely at Saffron, as if directing it toward her.

Saffron saw that Winter was still processing Pearl’s advice and helped her out. “He likes you, Winter. It was written all over his face.”

Winter finally clicked what her athletic friend was saying, and an evil smile, forming at a glacial pace, crept upon her face.

“You got a shot,” Pearl concluded. “Just don’t scare him off.”

Winter could only giggle at the images of her and Ravage together. Her mood became all the more lascivious once she included her friends in her daydreaming. “Perhaps it might lead to him camping out with us, eh?” Her friends got a good chuckle at that statement.

And thus, the unicorn trio went on to have a very satisfying lunch, having packed their weekend full of fun.


=^.^=


At about half-past noon, the five ponies were engaged in a card game. Ravage liked the delightful simplicity of the rules, ease of set up, and how much fun was had from such a simple game. He also admired at how a pair of hooves could effectively be used to play it.

“Pony up,” Micah dictated.

The relaxed Decepticon yielded two of his sapphire cards. If he could prevent Die Cast and Bo from getting his diamond card, he could win!

Rock Crusher shifted his gaze to the field, where a pony approached Ravage from behind his back. “Ravage, I think we need to get you a receptionist.”

“What?”

The older pony nodded in the direction of an incoming Twilight Sparkle. All in the group turned around and laid their ‘hooves’ down, not wanting to give away any information. “Twilight,” his deep voice greeted with a smile.

Bo noted something definitely different about the young alicorn. “With wings,” she teased.

“So is that Princess Twilight, or Twilight, I’m confused,” Micah prodded.

“Oh ha-ha,” the Element retorted. “I – erm – well, I’ve decided to use them regularly. I have them, so I might as well use them, right?” Besides, Twilight felt she had become powerful enough where any magic used for her wings would not interfere with her more complicated spells, like teleportation.

Bo had already come to a conclusion about the Princess’ rather sudden appearance of her wings. “The Dash effect.”

A grumpy Die Cast hoofed over some bits to Rock Crusher, who was smiling smugly.

Hrmph, Twilight growled, none too pleased with the big stallions’ display. Must she withstand their teasing, even as a Princess? She turned her attention to the pony she had come to see, sitting right in front of her, his silvery eyes sparkling like crystal. “Hey Ravage!” she beamed, her mood instantly shifting to that of joy. She grasped the unsuspecting Decepticon in a loving hug.

“Twilight,” he addressed, taking in the sweet smells from her mane and coat. Tacitly, he admitted to himself that he actually liked the way mares smell.

She broke the hug but still held Ravage in her arms. “I just wanted to know if you wanted to come over after work for a Magic lesson. It’ll be short though. I’ve got some planning to do this evening.” Twilight wasn’t planning on talking to Ravage, as she took the route through the park to the Apple farm, but she seldom ignored an opportunity.

His eyes lit up at the prospect, “Yes. Definitely!”

Twilight smiled. “Then I’ll see you at the library.” She gave him a peck on the cheek before turning around and departing. “Ta-ta!”

Ravage picked up his cards, ready to win the round! He noticed that his coworkers did not. In fact they were expressing concern.

Satisfied that Twilight was out of earshot, “Twilight too?” Bo asked. She didn’t expect the Princess to be so familiar with Ravage.

“All of the Elements are part of one herd,” Micah added. “Actually, I think she’s liked him for some time. Remember the first day we went out to lunch?” His wife nodded sagely.

“She has a noticeable sway in her hips, that one,” Die Cast observed.

“He’s already made dates with Luna, Flitter, and three unicorns.”

“Cloudchaser’s in with Flitter. Thought you might like to know.”

“What if Luna’s starved for attention? What then?”

“We all know what happens when earth ponies try to do magic with unicorns.”

Ravage’s jaw was ajar as he observed the other ponies talking about him like he wasn’t even there.

“Okay, that’s one, two, three, four, five, six – twelve mares!” Rock Crusher rolled up a newspaper and hit Ravage with it.

“Hey!” Ravage’s cry of protest went unheeded, as the other ponies continued their exclusive discussion.

And yet again, Ravage had misjudged pony society. Their card game was never finished, and he was about to win it too! They went on till the end of lunch about the implications of the pony bot’s dating methods, accompanied by dire warnings. Fortunately, Bo and Micah promised to straighten him out.


=^.^=


Princess Cadance emerged from her quarters in Canterlot castle, and escorted by the guards, made her way to the meeting room. She was surprised how difficult it was to sleep any number of nights without her husband, as both rulers of the Crystal Empire had gone away more often than they wanted, typically on matters of state, or public interaction. Cadance’s recent outings, however, had little to do with festivities.

Upon personal request to Luna, Princess Cadance wanted direct involvement in Equestrian Security. ‘Getting nailed twice in as many months’, as one guard so eloquently put it, certainly helped sway the Night Princess to her side. Additionally, she had experience in the operations of the Royal Guard and she was good at it, especially since her beloved rose quickly among its ranks. On this alone, Princess Luna allowed her to share in overseeing the Guard. The actual directing, of course, was done by the Captain. However, the Love Princess was also granted access to the ‘other’ branch of Equestrian Security. The difference between that branch and the regular Guard was that most ponies didn’t even know it existed. Sadly, her toil for such an organization forced her to leave the Crystal Empire more than she wanted to.

She ached for Shining Armor, and daydreamed of him as she strode along. Leaving the tapestries and stained glass unnoticed as she passed them by, she reached out for him with her magic… Ah! There he was. Cadance could feel his heart, healthy and strong. He was probably dealing with matters of state at this very moment. But there was something else she could feel, another smoldering; something nearby. Somepony she knew personally had become smitten! The Princess of Love smiled, longing to find out who it was. Eventually she arrived just outside the meeting room, where the Griffonian envoy was waiting. The new love had gotten stronger, and Cadance was puzzled by this. She found it agreeable to have just walked through the door to sate her curiosity, but procedure dictated that she and Luna go in together.

It was nearly two o’clock in the afternoon. Princess Cadance’s desire to know who`s heart was aflutter elevated the moment she saw Princess Luna striding down the cavernous, ornate hallway that bisected the castle’s south wing. With her head held nobly high, the Princess of the Night projected dominance. Her might was legendary, and her accompanying Night Guard, though respectfully powerful in of itself, felt more like an afterthought.

A wry smile forced itself onto Cadance’s face as Luna walked closer; she could feel something stirring in the indigo alicorn’s heart. Knowing what it was, she still couldn’t believe it! “Oh my goodness!” she blurted out as she covered her mouth with both hooves, hardly believing what she felt.

Luna returned a smile while waving her guards off, “Hush Cadance, there are more important matters at hoof.” She motioned for the guest Princess to proceed to the room’s entrance alongside her. “We can talk afterward.” The pair walked in for their meeting and the doors were closed behind them.


=^.^=


Ravage’s plan was working perfectly. The Decepticon stallion acquired celery, bread, milk, butter, spreads, and of course, more carrots, since he quickly consumed the entire two pounds from his first batch. Carrot Top treated him very well, and her half-lidded stares made it look as if she was about to ask him out, but he was quick and decisive, and bounded from stand to stand, getting the food he needed.

Finally, he reached Applejack’s stand, but she had already closed up. In fact he was nearly galloping when he skidded to a halt, surprising her in the process.

“Whoah partner! What can I do ya for?”

“I guess you’re closed. I’ll come back tomorrow.” Ravage wasn’t surprised at missing one of his targets since the vendors seemed to close at around half past five.

“Shoot, we’re as good as friends you and I. What do ya need?”

“Oh!” It looked as if Ravage caught a break after all, though he didn’t recall when he became ‘friends’ with Applejack. “Six of your red ones will do.”

“That’ll be four bits.” Applejack bagged them, and put them into one of the forward saddlebags on the apparently overburdened stallion. Though normally folded and stored behind his kegs, the wearing of his saddlebags made it look like he was about to travel over to another country. This gave Applejack an idea.

“That’s a pretty big load yer haulin’. ’Ah got a little bit of time before supper. You wanna little help getting those to yer house?” When Applejack was little, her mom told her doing a favour like that helped fire up the romance with her father. For farm ponies, a mare’s strength was not only respected, it was sought after.

Ravage didn’t even need his hydraulics to help him carry his things. Also, the possible meaning behind Applejack’s facial expression was only recently discernible by the Decepticon pony. The eyes were more focused, and there was perhaps just a hint of a smile. And yet, this expression and Rarity’s half-lidded projection meant almost exactly the same thing. Applejack was just more subtle. “I move concrete all day long for a living, but thanks anyways.”

“Well shoot, ‘ah can at least walk ya home,” continued Applejack, undeterred.

“Actually, I’m on my way to Twilight’s first. I know, neither place is very far, but Twilight’s time is limited, and I missed yesterday’s Magic lesson.” What Ravage meant to say was ‘Don’t follow me,’ but such a statement could obliterate his social status. He would receive no more help from the Elements; in fact, he could even get harassed by them. Such were the teachings of Bo and Micah from the afternoon coffee break. The more mares he got romantically involved with, the more work he would have to do to gently let the rejected ponies down, trouble multiplied by the number of mares in the herd of each representative. Date a mare, and her herd has shown interest in you. Court a mare, and you court the entire herd. Ravage had tried to explain that no Element had asked him out yet, but Bo dismissed that with a simple rebuttal, ‘wait.’

“Fair enough.” Applejack was only slightly disappointed. She tipped her hat to him, “Catch ya later, partner,” she bounced back with her characteristic country charm, and turned around to haul her cart away. She had entertained thoughts of getting together with Ravage more. Fluttershy may have taken the lead, but that didn’t mean the dependable orchard mare couldn’t help things along.

One of her big tests of the quality of a pony was how she, or he, lived. When it was for frolic, the Elements typically gathered at the barn, or Sugar Cube Corner, and sometimes the library. Even Fluttershy has had friends over for tea at her place. However, what about Ravage’s place? Finding out that a house was clean, and well maintained earned big points from Applejack, and a possible new venue for her group piqued her interest.


=^.^=


Of course, Twilight had complained about her earth pony student bringing groceries to the evening’s lesson instead of going home first. The librarian specifically mentioned that she had limited time though, and her persnicketiness was completely overridden by the stallion’s scent from the shampoo she bought for him.

All sat down at supper and were hungrily devouring their meals before Twilight started her lecture. “Spike, Ravage, I’m about to embark on a campaign, a campaign for science!” the librarian said excitedly.

Spike, in his characteristic deadpan tone, asked, “For science? Why?”

“Science is the backbone of technology,” Ravage offered.

“That’s correct, Ravage. Well done,” Twilight complimented.

“Isn’t magic, ya know, the backbone of everything around here?” Again, Spike only drew upon the facts, in this case, the immediate world around him.

“I believe magical craft is limited, whereas technology, and the science that generates it, is limited only by our imagination. The basic premise is that I want to see our technology not rely on magic so much, if at all.” Twilight enjoyed just thinking about the possibilities, if the dreamy expression on her face was any indication. She also decided to leave the ‘scientific method’ portion out of the supper table conversation.

Ravage was awed. It was as if the studious Princess had escaped their world and saw the galaxy for what it really was: an entity that obeyed the laws of physics, and nothing magical. “You are perhaps the most perceptive pony I’ve ever met, Twilight.” Not perceptive enough though, as she had no idea there was an alien spy right across from her, taking advantage of her knowledge and status.

“Thank you, Ravage,” she trumpeted, putting her foreleg to her chest. “I’ve got a slogan for my campaign too: Science Needs More Love.” The Princess was absolutely beaming. “Well, what do you think?”

Spike wore a cock-eyed expression with his jaw agape, and said nothing.

Ravage, while not intrigued by the idea so much, was very intrigued by Twilight. “Impressive foresight.” He decided to test the idea. “Okay Twilight, a carriage can be pulled through the air by pegasi. Without any magic, how could the carriage move through the air on the same flight path, while maintaining the same or greater speed?”

The challenged mare focused her mind on the problem, and her brow furled and her lips were pressed tightly until they mouthed invisible words. She shot down one idea after the other, including strapping on fireworks rockets onto her grounded mental carriage. A magically unassisted balloon or airship didn't work because pegasus coaches typically move faster. And then it looked as if she’d figured it out! “I have no idea!” she said with a surprisingly happy smile. “But with the application of the scientific method, I believe anything is possible.”

Ravage smiled at this. In spite of the difficulties of living in this world, he suddenly became very happy that he met Twilight. It had been very pleasurable conversing with her, regardless of if it was for study, or for casual talk.

The three of them finished their meal. Spike went out, and Twilight began to teach in earnest. As promised, the lesson was short. Twilight’s exposition on the details of magical power, and mana storage and development, though fascinating, ended at around half-past seven. Ravage’s agreement to take on a full lesson on Saturday morning resulted in a kiss on his muzzle from a very pleased Twilight.


=^.^=


For the first time since Sunday, Ravage arrived back at his ship while it was still daylight. It seemed that Bo's premonition was coming to pass, and by all estimates it was only going to get worse. Safely within his metal fortress, he transformed to robot mode. The significantly reduced feeling of emotion actually felt akin to coming up for air.

The influence on his emotions from his flesh body had no analog in a Transformer body, and on top of that, they were very persuasive. Why like certain smells? Why suddenly like the way a mare’s mane and tail blow in the breeze? Ravage took time to stare at his shiny, metal hands and arms, noting the intricate facets and little lights. How in the name of Cybertron could a cold blooded killer have done the things he had been doing? Cover or no cover, this was all wrong. Ice cream? Mind controlled animals? Parties? Mares??? This was a backward world in a backwater part of the galaxy that singularly owed its existence to not having been blown up yet by some marauding interstellar warlord, or sterilized by a gamma burst from the center of the galaxy, or hypernova. It was an irregularity, a blemish upon the rest of the universe which harmoniously followed the laws of physics. A zit!

Rationalize as he might, one pony in particular occupied a disproportionate chunk of his thoughts. Her constant attentiveness at the library party, her deep, relevant queries, and her inscrutable need to have the Decepticon stallion walk her home just because it was dark added up to something significant. However, though it was for a brief moment, Ravage had wished it was Fluttershy who was rubbing his back earlier. Furthermore, whenever mares were discussed that day, it was her that he envisioned as the model.

The spy was glad he was in robot mode and resolved to stay that way for as long as he could, for it was the only way to shut out his pony body’s mewling for attention. Fluttershy would soon be forgotten, and he could live like a Decepticon again.

Ravage quickly put his groceries away. There was real work to be done now. Suddenly, his battle network had relayed a message to him. How fortuitous! Already within the bridge of his ship, he routed the message to the main screen.

Survey Completed: Planet located. Organic life suitability: excellent. Distance: 14.3 light years.

“Finally, some good news!” Ravage checked out the specifications, and it was indeed an excellent planet for his pony body. Of course, it would be a moot point to go there if he reestablished contact with Cybertron, but for now it was the only option. Some cursory calculations indicated that it would take him about eighteen months to fly there. With just his robot mode that would not be a problem, but his living tissue needed nearly constant servicing. This would be more difficult than he thought.

A spacecruiser could reach that world in just a couple of weeks, but it required exotic elements and alloys that were not easy to come by on Celestia-1. It would take over a year to build by himself too, needless to say how would he secure it? Also, staying for an entire year in Equestria was out of the question.

Ultimately, nothing happens without energon, and Ravage went to work, first collecting his newly fashioned generator parts.


=^.^=


The base’s underwater river access door opened up and Ravage swam out. Anchored behind him was his neutrally buoyant package of generator, microwave emitter, and various pieces of installation equipment. Swimming from the base to the confluence, and the taking another river north to the dam was a round trip distance of over two-hundred kilometers, with a total travel time of over eight hours. Ravage didn’t dare use any energon, as his supplies were so depleted, so he relied on his on-board nuclear reactors operating at maximum to plow through the river.

When the infiltration ship busied itself with the construction of his equipment, the main satellite’s fabrication facility built additional microwave receivers and emitters; distribution to the rest of the satellite network was in progress. The strategy was to power the entire Decepticon network. Ravage could top off his own energon supply whenever he saw fit.

Down the river, the pony bot went. Even with the coming energon and the newly found world where he could escape to, his future was never more uncertain.

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