• 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 V

“Captain James.” said Sunek, standing to attention(1) as soon as he stepped onto the bridge.

“Sunek?” asked the Admiral. “Oh, and it's 'Admiral' now, by the -”

“Hey, how come now y'all are talkin' sense?” asked Applebloom, from under Sunek's right arm.

“It is because -” began Sunek.

“Wait!” interrupted Scootaloo, from under Sunek's left arm. “First! Where's the toilet? I gotta go!”

“Out that door, turn right, third door on the left.” said the Ferengi sitting slumped on the floor.

“Thanks!” Scootaloo wriggled frantically until Sunek let go, then dashed out the door full speed.

“So... why are y'all talkin' sense now?” asked Applebloom, as Sunek put her down as well.

“Doubtless we are now within range of a working universal translator,” said Sunek.

“It's surgically implanted in my ear.” said the Ferengi.

“What's a universal translator?” asked Applebloom.

“A fascinating piece of technology,” explained the Admiral, “it means that any people speaking almost any form of language can understand each other. In short, you hear us talking in your language, while we hear you talking in ours.”

Applebloom thought about this for a moment, and then said, “So y'mean Ah sound like you guys?”

“You appear to have retained an accent of some sort.” said the large, imposing Klingon warrior seated in the helmsman's chair.

“Ah see.” said Applebloom. “So... where 'xactly did you folk come from?”

“We had been captured by the Borg,” said Sunek patiently, “much as I imagine you had been. When your... friends came to rescue you, they managed to rescue us as well.”

“For which we owe them our gratitude.” said Var'aQ. “I, personally, would greatly appreciate a sparring match with one of our rescuers.”

“And right now,” said Celestia, “you're on your way back home.”

“You'll be there in just over three days.” added the Admiral. “Sunek's a good Vulcan – I'm sure he'll make sure you have enough to eat and a comfortable place to sleep over the next three days, until you're safely back.”

“If you and your friends will stay close to me,” offered Sunek, “I shall take all reasonable steps to ensure your safety.”

“I'll keep an eye on this scum.” said Var'aQ, pointing at the Ferengi with one thumb. “He won't bother you again, not if I have anything to say about it.”

“What about the other one?” asked Applebloom.

“...other one?” asked Var'aQ.

“There were two Ferengi.” pointed out Applebloom.

Var'aQ smiled, slowly. “I see.” he said. He stood up abruptly, grabbing Frem's arm. “This way,” he said, “we're going to go hunt your partner.” As he approached the door, it slid open, revealing a little orange pegasus on the other side.

“Scoots!” said Applebloom. “You find it alright?”

“Yeah, I found it.” said Scootaloo. “And the toilets in this place are seriously weird. I mean, I figured it out, but...”

“Most known sentient species,” said Sunek, “are approximately twice your height and bipedal. It is no coincidence that the plumbing should reflect this.”

“What's 'bipedal' mean, and how come you guys are talking Equestrian now?” asked Scootaloo.

* * *

“I don't remember much of it,” said Flam, quietly, “but what I do remember suggests it might be dangerous to remember more. It was... well, imagine you've somehow ended up with somepony else's mind in your head, fighting you for control over your body. You both know everything the other one knows, but you've got different aims, different things you want to do.”

“That doesn't sound pleasant.” said Flim. The two unicorns had wandered off to find somewhere to talk in private, and had ended up in the forward observation lounge; they sat side-by-side on the floor, surrounded by three chairs which did not take pony anatomy into account, and looked out at the stars.

“It wasn't,” said Flam, “but now imagine that instead of one other mind, there were... billions.”

There was a brief moment of silence while Flim considered this, and then he said “Billions? Are you sure?”

“No.” said Flam. “I'm pretty sure it was a good deal more than that. The Borg have taken over thousands of worlds, and they consider a world that holds twenty billion drones to be sparsely populated.”

There was another long silence.

“That can't be right.” said Flim, eventually. “I mean, surely the agriculture to sustain that amount of ponies alone...”

“They don't eat,” said Flam, “not like ponies do. They have this... machine. They put stuff in it – just about anything, really – and get some sort of stuff out that they swallow, but only when necessary. They don't care about taste. They sleep stacked up like logs in little alcoves, and they do that in shifts. They can pack themselves in like you wouldn't believe.”

There was another silence.

“Okay,” said Flim, eventually. “So there's billions of these Borg out there.”

“And I can remember them now.” said Flam. “Dimly. It's like... a faint echo of a memory of the Borg hivemind, whispering in my head. It wants... everything. The whole universe. Everyone and everything ever. It definitely wants me back.”

“I'm not sure,” continued Flam, “if I remember all of it, if I'll still be me afterwards, or if the memory will overwhelm my mind and take over as easily as the Borg took over me the first time.”

“I see.” said Flim. “Should we wait for the Bearers to wake up, and ask them to hit you with the Elements again?”

“Now, I didn't say that.” said Flam, with a grin. “It's only the vaguest echo of a memory of the Hivemind... but the Hivemind knows an incredible amount about this sort of technology.” He rapped on the floor of the ship with one hoof. “Flim, my brother, the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy was nothing compared to the sort of mechanisms that are in my head now.” He placed one foreleg around Flim's shoulders and waved a hoof dramatically. “Imagine, Flim... a holodeck, a room that can show anypony their greatest desire... at a rate of ten – no, a hundred bits an hour – a half hour. One that runs on a fusion generator – powered by hydrogen – which can be produced easily and cheaply from just a little bit of water. And if they don't pay – we just turn off the room. Or imagine a device that can change anything to anything – rocks to diamonds, quills to sofas, branches to bits – at the mere touch of a button. Devices to take energy from sunlight, and store it as electricity; or a device, the size of your hoof, that can hold all the information in all the libraries in all Equestria!”

* * *

“...at which point,” Sunek finished off his summary of the de-borgification process for the Princess and the Admiral, “I attempted to initiate a mind meld with one of the ponies, in order to find out whether she had made any plans that needed to be completed.”

“Ah, so that was you.” said Celestia, nodding. “Luna – my sister – did mention that she'd noticed somebody trying to gain access to Twilight's mind while she slept. I do hope she didn't scare you too badly – she can be a little intimidating at times.”

“Your sister is aboard this ship?” asked Sunek.

“No,” said Celestia, “she's upstairs. Maintaining that link was rather exhausting for her.”

Sunek was silent for a long moment, and then he said “She's on the planet.”

“Yes.” said Celestia.

“A planet that will take us three days, at warp six, to reach.”

“That is correct.” said the Admiral, nodding.

“Is there some area along our path that requires us to slow down to safely navigate it?” asked Sunek.

“No,” said the Admiral. “It's a straight run. Full speed. You could go warp nine if that ship had the engine power.”

Sunek was silent for almost a minute as he considered this.

“And your sister,” he finally said, “at that range, not only maintained a telepathic link, but very decisively overpowered and cut off a link formed by direct touch?”

“That's right.” said Celestia, wondering where this was going. “I'm afraid she thought you might be the Borg; I'm sure she'll apologise when she wakes up.”

Once again, Sunek tried to work out the energy requirements of maintaining a telepathic link across several lightyears, and once again he got a very large number.

“And... no doubt she used some kind of amplifier?” he said.

“Oh, no.” said Celestia. “We've never managed to produce any sort of magic amplifier that can handle an alicorn's full sustained output; neither me nor my sister can use them.”

Sunek's eye twitched slightly. He quadruple-checked his calculations.

“She did shore up Twilight's mental defenses somewhat, while she was there.” continued Celestia. “And then she went and did the same for the other five Element-bearers, of course. I think that's the part that really wore her out.”

Sunek took the number he had worked out and multiplied it by six. His eye twitched again.

“This... is a 'prank', is it not?” he asked, cautiously. “A series of untrue and implausible statements, given to provoke a reaction?”

“No,” said Celestia, raising an eyebrow slightly. “Why would it be?”

“I have found,” said the Admiral, cautiously, “that it's often best not to ask an Equestrian certain questions. The answers can be rather disquieting, especially in light of what we do know they can do. I'd strongly recommend dealing with the immediate situation first, for the moment, and then you'll have the opportunity to find out more about our new allies later.”

Sunek blinked, twice, and then nodded. “Very well, Admiral.” he said.

(1) To the extent which one can while carrying a Crusader under each arm.