• Published 14th Sep 2013
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Equestria's first warp drive - CCC



The Enterprise pays a visit to Equestria. Luna decides to go and see what this new thing in the night sky is.

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Further communication

It had become a tradition for Princess Celestia to have tea with the Admiral at regular intervals(1). The exact times had been a matter of some negotiation, since the Equestrian day was half an hour longer than the Earth day(2); and so it was inevitable that at least one of them would not be taking tea at the same time every day.

Nonetheless, the occasional quiet chat over tea was, in the opinion of both leaders, an excellent way to learn more about the other in a friendly and non-threatening way. And it was inevitable that, sooner or later, the conversation would turn to the kidnap rescue mission.

“I'll be able to have some people in Orion within a few hours.” the Admiral said. “I can't be sure whether the Ferengi will arrive first or not, and I can't be sure where they'll go, but we'll keep a lookout.”

“Thank you very much.” said Celestia. “You have taken a lot of trouble over this matter.”

“Least I could do.” said the Admiral. “Taking children and selling them is one of the lowest, most despicable crimes I can imagine.” He took a sip of his tea. “You seem to be taking the whole business pretty calmly, all things considered.”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, I suppose I am.” she said. “It helps that I know that Twilight Sparkle is on the rescue mission. She's a truly amazing mare, and I am quite certain that she'll succeed.” She sipped her tea. “Did I ever tell you about Disqord?”

The Admiral considered the question, as if every video frame of this communication wasn't being stored in Federation archives and pored over by legions of xenobiologists, xenopsychologists, and subspace engineers. “No,” he said, “I don't believe you have.”

Celestia nodded. “He was a strange creature.” she said. “We called him a draconequus, because we'd never seen anything of the like before; and we called him Disqord because of what he did. He was... chaos incarnate. He made cotton candy clouds that rained chocolate rain; he changed the grass into a checkerboard design of purple and white; he took the sun and moon, and made day and night last mere minutes each. It seemed that he could do anything he wanted with a mere snap of his claws.”

You called him Disqord?” asked the Admiral, putting down his teacup.

Celestia nodded. “That is correct.”

“Then what did he call himself, if I may ask?”

“He called himself Q, at first.” said Celestia. “It didn't last long, however. He quickly decided that he much preferred the name Disqord.”

“Hmmm.” said the Admiral, picking up his teacup again. “The Q. We've met them before.”

Celestia lowered her teacup to the table. “Them?” she asked.

The Admiral nodded. “Them.” he said. “A whole race of near-omnipotent beings, all of whom call themselves Q. Somehow, they can tell which Q you're taking about when they hear the name, but the rest of us can't. Troublesome and, usually, very irritating to deal with. I take it Twilight dealt with this one?” He took a sip of his tea.

“Yes.” said Celestia. “She turned him to stone.”

The Admiral spat out his tea(3).

“She turned a member of the Q Continuum to stone?”

“Oh, yes.” said Celestia, calmly. “He's still in my statue garden.”

* * *

The turbolift door opened, and Pog hurried onto the bridge. An alarm warbled through the room – Warp field instability detected – and, with a quick series of taps on the relevant console, Pog shut the warp drive off.

This let out the piece of wood that Spike had sent out; and, at the same time, it let in several other messages.

* * *

Spike hammered on the cabin door. “Hey!” he called out. “You guys okay in there?”

“We're fine,” called back Sweetie Belle's voice, “but we can't get the door open from this side! How are you?”

“I'm great.” said Spike. “Their – whatever those things were – didn't work on me, and then the Ferengi ran away. What did they do to Flam?”

“Made him fall asleep.” called out Dawn. “Is there any way to open the door from the outside?”

“Not that I can see.” said Spike. “One of those Ferengi hit the other one into the wall and said 'Lock'.”

“Try sayin' 'Unlock' and hitting the wall there?” asked Applebloom.

“It's too high,” said Spike, “I can't reach.”

“What happens if you just say 'unlock'?” asked Dawn.

“Unlock!” said Spike. He waited a while, and then said “Nothing.”

“Maybe that's the wrong word.” suggested Sweetie Belle. “Try, um, 'Open'? Or 'Unfasten'?”

“Open!” said Spike. “Unfasten!”

*BUUUUUURP*

“Hey, I got a letter from the Princess!”

“Oooooh!” cried all three Cutie Mark Crusaders. “What's it say?”

My dearest Spike

First of all, let me assure you that we are doing everything in our power to rescue you. Twilight, and the other Bearers, will be on their -

*BUUUUUURP!*

“What?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Another lett-” *BUUUUUURP!* “There seem to be a few -” *BUUUUUURP!* *BUUUUUURP!*

There was a long silence.

“Ooooh.” said Spike, after a bit. “I think that's all for now.”

“Could you read them out?” asked Dawn.

“Sure,” said Spike, reaching out for one of the scrolls at random and reading it aloud.

Scoots, it read, I'm coming. - Dash.

“Is that all that one says?” asked Dawn.

“Uh, yeah.” said Spike.

“It's all it needs to say.” said Scootaloo. “If Dash says she's coming, then she's coming.”

“What's the next one?” asked Sweetie Belle.

Spike picked out another letter.

My dearest Spike

First of all, let me assure you that we are doing everything in our power to rescue you. Twilight, and the other Bearers, will be on their way as soon as possible. However, there will be some delay. You are on a starship -

“A starship?” asked Dawn. “What's a starship?”

“Says here it's a 'vehicle to navigate between the stars'.” replied Spike.

“What, like some kind of night-only airship?” asked Dawn.

“I, uh, I dunno.” said Spike.

You are on a starship, a vehicle to navigate between the stars at an unimaginable speed.

“It can't be faster than Dash.” volunteered Scootaloo.

It is thousands of times faster than even Rainbow Dash can travel, read Spike. He frowned at the letter, and added “Surely that can't be right? Nothing can travel that fast?”

“Yeah!” agreed Scootaloo. “Rainbow Dash is the fastest thing in ever! Nothing can go faster than her!”

“Nah,” said Spike, “lots of things are faster than Dash. Light, for one. Twilight told me once that -”

“Twilight can't prove that light is faster than Dash!” objected Scootaloo. “I bet if they raced, Dash would win!”

There was a brief silence. Spike decided not to press the issue, and cleared his throat. “Anyway.” he continued.

and by now you will already be outside the solar system.

“Oh.” said Spike. “That's what 'starship' means.”

“What's a solar system?” asked Red Dawn(4).

“The sun,” said Spike, “and the moon, and the entire planet of Equus all together.”

“You mean we're in space?” asked Scootaloo. “Coooool!”

We have made arrangements to obtain another starship in which to pursue you, but it will not arrive for three days. If there is any way that you can slow the Ferengi, without putting yourselves at risk, then that will allow the Bearers to reach you all the sooner.

The invisible wall at the front of your cell is called a forcefield. It is dangerous, and I advise you not to touch it as far as possible. Look after each other, and above all, stay safe.

Princess Celestia

“It doesn't say anything about breaking out of our cell and running away.” said Spike.

“We've bin travelling for three days?” said Applebloom, nervously.

“Um, yes?” said Dawn.

“An' this things faster than Dash? Like, thousands o' times faster?” she continued.

“That's gotta be wrong!” insisted Scootaloo.

“So...” said Applebloom, “even if we find a door leadin' out, how long would it take us ta get back?”

This question was greeted by a long silence.

“Are we sure we've been going all the time?” asked Spike.

“The floor's bin shakin' for almost alla those three days.” said Applebloom. “It stopped jus' a little afore ya started getting' yer mail. Ah bet that's the whatever makes this place go.”

“Could you read one of the other letters?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Oh, right.” said Spike, picking one out at random.

Hey, girls. And Spike. And Flam. And I don't know if Dawn is a girl or not, so hey, Dawn.

Don't worry, okay? We're gonna come and rescue you, and nothing's gonna stop us. I've packed my party cannon and I've done a whole lot of baking. When you all get back to Canterlot, we're going to have the biggest party EVER!

Got to go now. The ship will be here in a few minutes, and then we're coming to rescue you.

You haven't forgotten us, have you? I'm the pink one, just in case you have. Except Dawn, you can't forget us because I'm pretty sure you never met us, so if you think you remember us then it might not be your memories that you're remembering, and if that happens, then please give them back to whoever they came from, okay?

Pinkie Pie

“Any others?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Two more.” said Spike.

Spike

No apology necessary. The reference section is entirely unimportant at this juncture; Fluttershy's arranged for a temporary substitute librarian.

I have no idea how long it'll take for us to catch you, as it depends on the relative warp factors of two unknown starships. But rest assured that we will catch up with you.

It seems that the warp drive interferes with magic. I'm not sure whether you'll get this message at all; you might get it as soon as the warp drive shuts down, or you might not. You won't get it while the drive is online though, that follows as a minor corollary to Starswirl's Third Law. That also means that you probably won't be able to send any more messages back to us until the drive is off again.

So the fact that you have received this message implies that you are most likely at Orion already. See if you can leave a trail for us to follow, and pay attention to where everypony else goes. Rumour is a trail as much as anything else; be visible as much as is safely possible.

We will find you.

Twilight Sparkle.

“Anything else?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“One last one.” said Spike.

Applebloom,

There was a thump as Sweetie Belle dropped to the floor. “My sister didn't send anything?” she asked.

Spike cleared his throat.

Applebloom

I'm coming for you, little filly. Stay safe, stay calm. Rescue is on the way.

Give those Ferengi a good kick in the teeth for me.

Tell Sweetie her sister's on her way, too. I think she's too angry to write.

Applejack





(1) Or, at least, for them each to have tea while on opposite sides of the same subspace video link.

(2) On average, depending on how Princess Celestia was feeling. On one memorable occasion several years back, Princess Celestia had become engrossed in a particularly gripping novel, and the Equestrian day had been a full three hours longer than usual.

(3) It is worth noting that there are three races known to Starfleet where the sudden spitting out of liquid is a declaration of war; four where it is a marriage proposal; and one (a reptilian species with poison glands in their cheeks) where it is an assassination attempt. As a result of this, Starfleet's diplomatic corps go through significant training to try to repress this instinct; actually spitting out one's tea while talking with an alien representative was punishable by being sent on a three-week refresher course with a roomful of rookies. For a highly-ranked officer, the only thing that could possibly be more embarrassing is having the original tea-spitting moment recorded for posterity in Starfleet archives and seen by legions of xenobiologists, xenopsychologists and subspace engineers.

(4) Changelings are not known for their astronomy.

Author's Note:

This is the point where the alternate ending branches off from the main story.

If you would like to continue the main story, wherein the Ferengi ship meets a very unwelcome ship before they get their engines online again, then just continue reading from this point on.

If you would like to read the alternate ending, wherein the Ferengi ship remains alone in space for the moment (as is only statistically likely, given how empty space is) then click on this link and read on from there.

This split is certainly an interesting writing exercise. I'd be interested to know what readers think of it...