• Published 14th Sep 2013
  • 6,571 Views, 492 Comments

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.

  • ...

The Pursuit Begins


Flam knocked, quietly, on the wall separating his and Dawn's cells. “Dawn, are you awake?”

“Yes.” said Dawn, also quietly.

“Good.” said Flam. “I wanted to talk with you while the fillies and Spike were asleep. I didn't think you'd want them to hear this, but we need to discuss it.”

“...I'm listening.” said Dawn, with a small yawn.

“You're not a pony.” said Flam.

Dawn sat up, suddenly very wide awake.

“You're a buffalo, or a griffin, or something.” continued Flam. “You've been playing dumb anytime Frem's around, and so he thinks you're just some sort of animal.”

I can work with this. Dawn quietly told herself. I can take a buffalo shape if I need to. Not sure I can manage a griffin, though.

“Quite frankly, I don't care what you are.” continued Flam. “Or where you're really from, or what you do for a living. I don't always follow the strict letter of the law myself; I know what it's like, to fear that anyone might turn on you, to worry that everyone knows what you've done. And what I want to say is, I don't care. I don't care what you've really done, or where you're really from, or anything of the sort. What I care about is getting back, safely, and meeting my brother again.”

Flam took a deep breath.

“It's been three days.” he continued. “It's clear that, whoever Spike's letters went to, they're not sending help; if there was anyone on the way, they would have caught up to us already. So tomorrow, I am going to escape. I plan on taking the fillies and the dragon with me. When I do so, would you like to come along?”

There was a long silence, as the changeling tried to absorb Flam's words. “I, um...” she said, hesitantly, and then stopped.

“I have no intention of turning you in to Celestia.” Flam continued. “On that front, by the way, would you expect her to recognise you if she sees you? It'll be a lot easier to smuggle you past if she doesn't give you a second glance, after all.”

“No.” said Dawn. “No, Celestia won't recognise me. And yes, thank you very much. I would love to escape. To get back... home.” To get back to the Hive. To the mind of the Swarm. I didn't realise I'd miss it so much, until I got cut off...

“Then it's settled.” said Flam, still quietly. “When I break out, I'll open your cell as well.”

There was silence for a long while. Flam had lain down, and almost fallen asleep, when a voice quietly said “Thank you.”

“Mm?” asked Flam.

“Thank you... very much.” said Dawn. “For, well, for thinking of including me in your escape.”

“Oh, no trouble at all.” said Flam. “No trouble at all, my dear.”

* * *

“Captain Anderson.” Celestia nodded at the small screen on the communication device Starfleet had installed in Canterlot Castle.

“Hiya, lady.” said the Captain. He was nowhere near as neat as the Admiral had been; his uniform was creased and rumpled, he slouched in his chair, and he had a generally unkempt look and a line of just-visible fur running along the underside of his chin. “You're the alien Starfleet's been on our backs about transporting?”

“No.” said Celestia. “That would be my student, and her friends. I am merely calling to finalise the arrangements.”

There was, again, a fraction-of-a-second delay. Celestia knew that the signal was being routed from Equestria, to the impossibly-distant Earth, and back almost the entire way; to have kept that communications delay down to a fraction of a second was truly a masterful feat of technology. Not for the first time, Celestia wondered just how the Federation's communication technology worked.

“Well, as I understand it,” said Captain Anderson, “I'm supposed to pick up a few high-and-mighty VIPs off of your world, drag 'am off wherever they want to go for some-or-other urgent reason, keep the bureaucrats back on Earth informed of just where it is we're going, and then offload said dignitaries onto a 'proper Federation vessel' as soon as it catches us. And for this, Earth's paying a handsome sum of credits into my account. That right?”

“I believe you have the essentials.” said Celestia. “Permit me to fill in the fine details. The ponies you will be carrying consist of seven individuals, six mares and one stallion.”

“Okay, hold it right there.” said Anderson. “We've only got proper berths for five, we weren't expecting more than that. Don't want to have VIPs sleepin' on the floor, it ain't neat.”

“That will be sufficient.” said Celestia. “The mares would all be more than willing to sleep on the floor if it would get them to their destination more quickly.”

“Why not just wait for the Federation ship?” asked Anderson. “They got hundreds o' berths, and a higher top speed. This little merchant ship o' mine can't do above Warp Four.”

Celestia closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “I believe the operative word here, Captain, is 'urgent'.” she said. “These individuals must reach their destination as quickly as possible. The Federation's exploratory ship will only be able to reach Equestria two days after you do; that will be too late.”

“I see.” said Anderson. “You're hoping to save a day or two on transport.”

“Yes.” nodded Celestia. “This day or two is incredibly important to us; hence the amount that you are being paid to provide us with it.”

Captain Anderson shrugged. “Well, hey, I can't argue with that.” he said.

“And one further thing.” added Celestia.

Captain Anderson frowned. “Yes?” he asked.

A large, gem-encrusted necklace floated up next to Princess Celestia. “We are given to understand,” she said, “that an item such as this will have some monetary value to your society, as a work of art?”

Anderson straightened up a little more. “Indeed it would.” he said.

“In addition to the credits given to you by the Federation,” she said, “I will be sending fifteen similar necklaces, including this one. The necklaces are a gift, a token of the appreciation of Equestria for your help in this difficult time. Furthermore, should you ever return here after this task is completed, know that you will have the favour of the Crown, and with it, an exemption from all import and export taxes, for as long as you live.”

Anderson looked at the necklace, then at Celestia, then at the necklace again. “On top of what Earth is paying?” he asked.

“On top of what Earth is paying.” confirmed Celestia.

Anderson looked at the necklace again, then at Celestia. “What's the catch?” he asked.

“All I ask,” said Celestia, “is that you take my faithful student and her companions where they direct you, as quickly as possible.”

“Lady, the amount I'm being paid, I can afford to go Warp Four all the way.” Anderson assured her.

“And to start as soon as possible.” added Celestia.

“And to start the moment your little team is onboard.” nodded Anderson. “We're only a few minutes away from your world, so once we have a transpo-”

“My sister will be bringing my team onboard,” said Celestia. “May we have permission to board the moment your warp drive stops? I can assure you that your ship will be well in range.”

Anderson shrugged. “Fine.” he said. “I guess it saves a couple minutes...”

Celestia smiled. “Thank you.” she said.

“Which only leaves the question of diet.” said Anderson. “I don't know what your species can and cannot eat; some of our foods might be poison to you, and vice versa...”

“A valid concern.” said Celestia, nodding. “My student will bring with her four day's worth of rations for the group. I am given to understand that your technology is capable of analysing and duplicating most substances?”

“Yeah...” said Anderson, nodding. “...most substances. Organics tend to be difficult.”

“If necessary,” said Celestia, “my team will be happy to subsist on hay. We are herbivores; we can eat many types of plant, and do not have complex nutritional needs. I am certain that suitable arrangements can be made.”

“...if you say so.” said Anderson. “Ah, I see we're about to enter orbit -”

There was a brief moment of static on the display.

“What the -” asked Anderson.

* * *

Luna grabbed all six of the Bearers, and Flim, and their luggage, all in a single teleport. The human ship had a room on the front, behind a large window; this was Luna's target.

There were seats, a few semi-transparent images along the walls, and of course, a large window near the front. Luna vanished as quickly as she had appeared; it would not do for her to be dragged along as well.

What there was not, was any sign of humans. The room was conspicuously empty.

“Formation, girls!” said Twilight. “No time to waste. Flim, try to find the humans, we need to get going as soon as possible.”

The inclusion of the unicorn salespony had been a last-minute decision; Flim had simply arrived atop the tower and announced that he wanted to go too, since his twin brother had been among those taken. It had taken only a brief discussion for Celestia to support Flim's decision.

None of the Bearers had bothered to contest it. Not even Applejack.

A voice crackled to being in the room, as a rainbow light glowed around the Bearers of the Elements, and their Elements glowed with power. “Good morning, and welcome to the Flight of Fancy.” said Captain Anderson's voice. “Most guests turn up in the transporter room or the shuttle bays, you know, not the forward observation deck. So, I understand you lot are going to be giving me a destination. Which way?”

Twilight rose slowly into the air. Her eyes opened; and they were orbs of bright, white light.”

“I do believe, dear sir,” said Flim, calmly, “that the answer to your question -”

“Follow the rainbow.” interrupted Twilight, as a path of rainbow light sprung into being. It left orbit a little behind and to the left of Anderson's ship, stretching out into interstellar space. Even as it did so, the rainbow light around the Bearers faded, and Twilight sank to the ground. The glow of the Elements faded, and in moments the only thing left glowing was Twilight's horn.

“Follow the rainbow.” she repeated.

“On the way.” Captain Anderson assured them, as the warp drive started up once more.