• 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.

  • ...

Communication IV

Sunek marched rapidly along in the direction that the Klingon had dragged the Ferengi. One thing he knew about the Borg was that they didn't particularly enjoy losing drones; there were stories of a few beings who'd managed to escape from the Borg hivemind, and in almost every case, those beings had made immediate attempts to rejoin the Hive, having developed a dependency on the group mind. Only in a very few cases had that tendency been averted, and then only after significant time reconnecting with their individuality.

He largely ignored the two fillies – one yellow, with a ribbon, and one orange and winged – who ran past him at full speed, checking behind all the doors for who-knows-what.

Sunek also had not heard of a case where someone, on being released from the Borg hivemind, experienced total amnesia of the intervening period; though, from what he had heard of the distress experienced by such former drones, the amnesia was no doubt well-intended. Especially since they would likely have to move with some speed to escape any Borg attempt to recapture -

Two little fillies, ahead of him in the corridor, opened a door, and promptly screamed. The high-pitched, loud noise carried little information but attracted a lot of attention; Sunek did not need a universal translator to recognise a call for help. He rushed forward, hoping that the fillies hadn't found a still-assimilated Borg drone...

They hadn't.

The fillies rushed past Sunek again, their eyes tight shut, hiding behind him as if he could save them from whatever it was that threatened them. And, as long as it were not a Borg drone, he might well – Vulcans look very similar to humanity, but conceal unexpected physical strength in their unassuming limbs.

The creature that slithered out from beyond the door was one with which Sunek was not familiar. It had the body of a snake, and the head of a chicken; its tiny wings flared aggressively as it turned the full force of its glare on the Vulcan.

Sunek took the moment, while the creature stared instead of attacking, to consider the best response. The creature had no limbs, apart from stubby wings; this implied that it killed by either constriction or poison. To avoid constriction, he held his left arm parallel to his body and a small distance away, leaving his right arm free to deal with any other attempts at attack. The fillies' response indicated that this creature was dangerous, and not allied with the equines. Its only sound was a hiss, which did not appear to be an attempt at communication. It was likely that the creature was a predator of some sort, perhaps taken from one of the worlds colonised by the equines, as a specimen for a zoo.

Sunek noticed that his feet and ankles had lost all feeling, and the numbness was spreading up his legs. He also noticed that he appeared to be stiffening, unable to turn his head to look away from the creature. It was apparent that there was more going on here than appeared to be the case. He reached out suddenly with his right hand, placing it against the creature's head, and initiated a mind meld.

* * *

The creature's brain was simple; a whirl of instincts, senses, reactions with little or no intelligence behind them. It was not used to being steered by intelligence, but it was not used to fighting intelligence, either. It is only with great difficulty, and direct contact, that an intelligent being can be forced to act against his own interests through the mind meld, for the intelligent being fights against any change. The beast, on the other hand, is more easily controlled if one knows the trick; the beast's nature is that it will always take actions in service of its immediate goals, and it is near impossible to change that nature. On the other hand, it is comparatively simple to change the goals.

The cockatrice's goal was “petrify”. Sunek changed that goal, first to “release”; the numbness in his legs immediately vanished, and he almost staggered and broke the mindmeld. Then he rummaged through the cockatrice's mind; there was a category there for creatures to hide from, containing prominently a rock-like crocodile. Sunek added both the juvenile equines and a vague bipedal shape to that category. The change wouldn't hold for more than a few minutes, but the creature would likely be wary of both types of sentient for several days at least... long enough for a more permanent solution to be sought.

* * *

The creature broke the mindmeld, jerking back from Sunek's touch in fear. It turned, and slithered away rapidly.

The yellow equine whinneyed; something long and complex, no doubt containing information(1).

The winged orange one replied(2); it was always unwise to judge alien communications by their tone, but this equine sounded distressed. Perhaps it was now afraid of Sunek's mind meld?

No matter. The snakelike creature would not bother any of them for some few hours, at least. Enough time for Sunek to retrieve the Ferengi's universal translator and obtain some more information.

He started towards the bridge, leaving the equines to follow or not as they wished; but was quickly stopped by a tug on the sheet he was wearing. He looked down to find the yellow equine looking up at him. Her eyes were opened wide, as if in imitation of a newborn mammal; most mammals, Sunek knew, would find such a facial expression endearing, and it seemed likely that that was the yellow one's purpose in adopting it. She whinneyed, apparently asking him something(3).

Though he could not understand her words, Sunek assumed that she was asking for protection from further attacks by the snakelike being. He considered for a moment, and then picked up both fillies, one under each arm, before continuing to head for the bridge. If they had intended to ask for anything else, he could work it out once they were all in range of a universal translator again.

He ignored their further conversation(4). The yellow filly did not struggle; and while the orange one wriggled, it did not appear to be trying to escape.

* * *

“I am Admiral Richard James of the United Federation of Planets.” said the Admiral. “This is Princess Celestia of Equestria. Could you please describe to us what you know of the situation you find yourself in?”

“I know very little.” replied Var'aQ. “I know nothing of what happened before I awoke, mere minutes ago, since the day I was piloting a ship and saw a Borg cube. There are... several of us, of many species. We appear to have awakened all at once, and our last memories are all of the Borg. We'd rather get out of here before they come back and re-assimilate us, if it's all the same to you.”

“Of course.” said the Admiral, typing rapidly on a keyboard. “Start by heading for these coordinates at maximum warp; a Galaxy-class ship will meet you on the way.”

Var'aQ let go of the Ferengi, but not before delivering a dire warning; “If you run away, or touch a single control, I will break your arm.” He walked to the pilot's seat; the controls were unfamiliar, but not entirely impossible for an experienced pilot to figure out. It took him a few moments, but he quickly had the coordinates entered, and engaged the warp drive.

“Now that you're on your way,” said the Admiral, “would you mind describing to us exactly what situation you woke up in? With particular attention to the fate of any equine lifeforms that may have been present.”

* * *

Twilight Sparkle's body protested. It had gone without sleep for far too long. But her mind, warned by Luna that somepony had tried to enter it, fought against her sleeping body, flooding it with adrenalin, trying to force itself into activity again in fear for her friends.

The tired body fought back, trying to construct a dream in which Twilight awoke, in order to obtain much-needed sleep. But in the dream, the Borg were one-by-one assimilating her friends; and the nightmare triggered a greater fear reaction.

Her eyelids were as heavy as Tom; but with an effort of will she levered them open. Several bipeds stood around, in non-threatening postures; a short distance away, Rainbow Dash snored, holding tightly on to Sweetie Belle. Twilight attempted to leap to her hooves, and scan the room for potential threats while asking Sweetie what was going on.

However, her exhausted body simply didn't have the energy reserves to manage that. Twilight managed to move one leg slightly, turn her head, and mutter “whss g'ng on?”

“Twilight?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“wha's 'appning?” mumbled Twilight.

“You saved us!” said Sweetie Belle. “You saved us all!”

“wh're's t'others?” asked Twilight.

“Oh, Scoots had to go find the restroom.” said Sweetie Belle. “Dash didn't want to let go of her, so we kinda had to swap, and Applebloom went with to go help her look. I'm sure they're fine.”

“b'rg?” asked Twilight.

“All gone!” said Sweetie. “Scoots was one for a bit, and I think I might've been too, but you sorted us all out. Everything's fine.”

“g'd.” mumbled Twilight, and dropped straight back to sleep again.

* * *

“I recovered my senses,” said Var'aQ, “in a corridor not far from the bridge to this ship. There were several equines there; three small ones, probably children, and a number of larger, sleeping ones. There were also two older ones awake, very similar, one with and one without a moustache.”

“Flim and Flam.” said Celestia.

“They were unfamilar with Federation dates,” said Var'aQ, “but said that the Federation had been good enough to supply them with a ship. I left at that point, considering it more important to find out what was going on outside the ship, and avoid any further entanglements with the Borg.”

“You saw no sign of further Borg activity on the ship?” asked the Admiral.

“No.” said Var'aQ. “Should I have?”

“Given the time since they took over that ship...” began the Admiral.

“Considering the size of the ship, I very much doubt that any part evaded the Elements.” said Celestia. “They can in theory be used to cover an entire planet; and have been, on at least one occasion.”

“Now,” said Var'aQ, “I've answered all your questions. Could one of you please tell me what's going on here?”

“The Ferengi ship that you are on,” said the Admiral, “recently visited the world of these equines. They are not yet part of the Federation, nor are they officially allied, but so far we have been working together without significant friction. The Ferengi ship kidnapped three children and one unicorn from the surface of the world, then fled.”

“The Federation arranged for a ship to go to the world in question,” continued the Admiral, “and convey a rescue team to attempt to reach the Ferengi ship and rescue the victims. Unfortunately, the Ferengi ship ran into the Borg. Despite being warned of what they were to face, and against my recommendation, the rescue team insisted on continuing their mission; largely, I imagine, due to the fact that several of them were closely related to the children in question. The rescue team arrived on your ship less then half an hour ago; and you know what happened since then better than we do.”

“The good news, for you,” concluded the Admiral, “is that Equestria is only about three days' travel from your current location. It's probably the safest place in the galaxy from the Borg right now, and you're directly on course for it.”

(1) “Didja see that, Scoots? He just touched the cockatrice an' it unstoned him an' ran away!”

(2) “Yeah, but now I really really really gotta go pee. We gotta go find the toilet!”

(3) “'Scuse me, mister, but Scootaloo really has ta go an' we don't know where the toilets are on here an' there might be some other creatures hiding in here or another cockatrice or something, so could you pleeeeeeeease help us find where there's a toilet?”

(4) “See?” said Applebloom. “He's gonna take us right ta the toilet. I bet we'll be there in double-quick time.”

“We'd better be.” squeaked Scootaloo.