• Published 1st Mar 2012
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Arrow 18 Mission Logs: Lone Ranger - AdmiralTigerclaw

A mission to investigate a far off world takes an interesting twist.

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Archive Two: Contact

- Courtesy Kovabom/Indubitably Ponified: Nimbus Productions

Mission Log:
August 13th, 2257

First Contact…

Up until this point, I have not been any closer to any of the ‘ponies’ than fifty meters. Today however, I approached my hill only to discover that ‘Smarty Pants’ had occupied my normal space. Her intent was clear. She wanted to actually ‘meet’ me.

We stood, watching each other across a short gap. ‘Smarty Pants’ seemed intrigued by my bipedal nature, but not intimidated by it in the least. It appears the reason for this was her familiarity with it thanks to the lizard-like creature that seemed to follow her anywhere she went. It too moved in a bipedal fashion. However, the thing that Smarty Pants seemed to be most fascinated about was my ability to achieve the same method of locomotion without the aid of a tail. At least, that seemed to be the case from the way her head would seem to try and peer behind me.

Given the amount of information we had exchanged at this point, I felt that approaching would be safe to do at this point. The ‘lizard’ seemed to be unsettled, but ‘Smarty Pants’ made a noise that seemed to quiet it down. It was possible this creature was also sapient as she was. Her body language, as best as I could tell, was relaxed. I had been observing the ‘ponies’ for over a week now, and while I’d been able to derive some moods from my observation, their expressions were not yet familiar to me.

It was an interesting moment when I finally closed the gap. When I plodded the rest of the way up the hill, I could tell her mood and posture were adjusting to account for my vertical size. No doubt my bipedal nature made me look larger than I really was even though I calculated our masses to be more or less even. Once I sat down, she seemed to relax.

We exchanged papers once more, the language of math the only thing we seemed to understand. As we did so, we examined each other up close. She was fascinated by the dexterity of my hand as much as I was intrigued by the elasticity of her hoof. The lizard attempted to garner attention of its own, displaying a grasping hand similar to mine, capped with elongated claws. It seemed it was sapient, which was interesting. That would mean that this planet had not just one form of intelligent life form, but two, perhaps even many. Though the odds climb astronomically with each new possibility.

This close, I was finally able to give one of these creatures of a proper examination. ‘ Smarty Pants’ was one of the ‘unicorn’ type. She had a small, six-inch horn at the crown of her head that glowed whenever she levitated objects… A feat that was astonishing to witness up close. I surmise this horn is the source of her ability to perform such tasks and will be checking others to establish patterns of aptitude.

Her body structure was definitely equine in nature. Though as I had previously observed, it was deformed from what humans knew as horses. She was more round, filled in, and far more ingeniously colored. Her ‘mane’ was a darker shade of purple than her coat, but had a pink stripe in it that may or may not be a dye job. I am unsure; it seemed pretty uniform.

The upper section of her hind legs was the most curious point. At first, I thought it might be a tattoo, but upon actual close examination,I discovered that the marking adorning ‘Smarty Pants’ flanks appeared to be part of the fur itself. It was impossibly precise for a mere dye job, and matched perfectly. I had seen these from a distance, but was unable to determine their origins or purpose. Hers in particular seemed to be a series of ‘twinkle’-like shapes.

‘Twinkle Butt’ will be included in the list of nicknames for ‘Smarty Pants’ in the future. In the considerably unlikely event that we manage to bridge the communication gap and I need something to blackmail her with…

Mission Log:
August 14th, 2257

‘Smarty Pants’ was there once again before I arrived. This time with a large number of items and food as if preparing for a picnic. Tests on the food I had been given before had come up safe. The apple had been, for all intents and purposes, just an apple. And the drinks had been something akin to an apple soda. We performed a similar exchange of paperwork as the previous days, though the fascinated examinations were more subdued this time around.

Mission Log:
August 15th, 2257

We are becoming used to each other’s presence at this point. While we have yet to formulate any comprehensible communication beyond wild gestures and mathematics, I repeatedly caught myself talking to her as if she’d understand what I was saying. Likewise, she appeared to be in a similar state, babbling off in ‘pony’ about something or other as she tried to make a point on a physics concept she’d thrown at me.

The lizard, whom I felt the need to call ‘Spike’ due to the spines on his back, would prattle with Smarty Pants for minutes on end. The ‘unicorn’ would engage the little guy (I’m pretty sure he’s male) in seemingly fast-witted streams of unintelligible debate. ‘Spike’ proved himself to be rather good at math, though not to the level of engineering mathematics we exchanged.

Instead, he seemed to have a knack for writing. As I have observed, he seemed to keep his clawed hands on that rolled up, dried paper most of the time, and would appear to write fervently whenever Smarty Pants dictated to him.

The very act of observing the ‘pony’ speak was also fascinating. She would ‘dictate’ and I would watch her mouth for the syllables being spoken with. It was remarkably similar to the method a human used to control sounds.

But what was most important was what ‘Spike’ did with everything he wrote. As soon as he finished something, he rolled it up, sucked in a breath of air, and set the paper on fire. The first time that happened I about jumped in surprise, nearly causing the three of us to panic. I soon discovered this ‘fire’ was somehow being used to do something rather strange, because not less than ten minutes later, the creature let out a loud burp, accompanied by a puff of flame that dropped a similar rolled up paper on the ground.

For lack of a better term, I quickly dubbed the fire spitting lizard ‘Dragon’.

Mission Log:
August 17th, 2257

I’m beginning to think that there’s more to this world than just a few quirks of physics. The similarities it has with Earth are beyond astonishingly coincidental. Not only is the atmosphere breathable, and the climate comfortable, but the familiarity of the ecosystem and biology continues to stagger the mind.

Smarty Pants brought a friend today. She was one of the ‘normal’ types. Well, relatively speaking. This pony had fur that was the most appalling shade of hot pink I have ever seen, and her mane and tail were equally jarring. The mane itself was curly and tangled but thankfully seemed to be clean. Her flank marks appeared to be a series of colored ovals that seemed to resemble balloons. I’ve seen this one before. Based on past observations, she's some kind of caterer of baked goods. She was quick, hyper, and appeared to be cheerful most of the time. The explosive way in which she seemed to move has made me nickname her ‘Party Popper’.

I found I was unable to keep up with her energy. And it seems Smarty Pants was in a similar state. Party Popper seemed to behave much like a child who was stuck in a sugar rush. This may be due in part to the amount of confectionary treats she consumes. Unlike most of the ponies, who seem to eat the treats in more moderate quantities, ‘Party Popper’ seems to consume a far greater quantity than normal. Upon trying one of the confections offered, I was quick to discover that it was similar to a sweet lemon tart. Even more enigmatic was a small bottle of red liquid she poured on it. Upon a careful taste investigation, I discovered it was similar to an old American cajun style hot sauce.

Given the nature of the food I’ve been eating for the last six months, I may increase my diet of the local food.

Mission Log:
August 18th, 2257

Party Popper was with Smarty Pants again today, and Spike appeared to be absent. Based on gestures from Smarty Pants, I presume he decided to sleep in.

I brought some GSA dehydrated food packets and MREs with me today. Both Smarty Pants and Party Popper were astonished at the material used to seal them. However, I quickly discovered that apparently ponies share more than just environments with humans. One look at their faces and I could tell that despite 200 years of advances, long term preserved space meals still taste like rehydrated cardboard.

The military MREs that were available, however, seemed to please them more. Party Popper loved the brownie that came with it, and Smarty Pants enjoyed the macaroni and cheese side. The beef tips that were the main course seemed to cause them some level of unease, though. Smarty Pants watched my face carefully while I ate. I have the feeling that with them being largely herbivores, the meal I ate proved to be a little unsettling.

Mission Log:
August 19th, 2257

‘It’ watched me again. And I’m beginning to feel this forest is not the safest location. I encountered a creature on my way to meet Smarty Pants. It was a strange looking thing. It had a body that looked like a strange cross between a chicken and a snake, and had very large, angry looking eyes. I know this much because when I startled it, it just stared at me for over a minute. Perhaps staring down predators with such large eyes is a psychological defense mechanism. But after a while, it seemed to become very jittery and vanished into the underbrush. I’d hate to find out if they get much bigger. It had fang-like protrusions in its beak from what I had seen. And if it’s even remotely snake-like, there’s the possibility of venom.

After encountering that creature, I suspect I was a little stressed by its appearance, as I have had a splitting headache since then. Smarty Pants seemed concerned by my condition, but probably understood she couldn’t do anything about it without knowing my biology a lot better. I took an anti-inflammatory when I returned to the Ravenstar an hour ago. It has had no effect.

Mission Log:
August 20th, 2257

I am awake early this morning due to the continued pounding of my head. Medicines seem not to have any effect. I’ve tried several different types to no avail. As far as I can tell, I’m fine, and medical scans have turned up nothing unusual. Given the sudden onset of the headache right after I had encountered that snake-chicken animal yesterday, I suspect that what I thought was simply an intimidation ploy may have been an exotic defense mechanism far more potent than I could have possibly known. I’m going to try some morphine to dull the pain and see if I can sleep it off.

Awgust 20- PM

this morpheen is not helping at all.. I have been unable to rest propppery and Im sure I’m making a large number of typing errorsdas ljkrhlukhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


Mission Log:
August 21st, 2257

I awoke this morning with my head still hammering, and discovered I’d fallen asleep at the terminal. It’s a good thing the medical dispenser limits the amount of medicine I can get my hands on. The morphine messed me up pretty badly. I don’t even remember getting up to type.

I decided to take my problem to Smarty Pants. Perhaps she might know what that creature had done to me. I had to sketch the animal by hand, but I think I got the point across. When I met her on the hill, she seemed concerned for my absence the day before. Upon showing her the picture, she took off in a hurry, only to return a short time later with a book ‘floating’ next to her head.

I was unable to read anything, or understand her words. However, Smarty Pants flipped through it extremely fast until she came upon a picture that matched the animal I had encountered. She pointed it out, gesturing with her elastic hoof rather animatedly until I confirmed it with a nod. Then she turned the page, showing me a rather elaborate illustration of the animal looking at a pony, and then the next image showing the pony, now gray and cracked, like stone.

That seems beyond scientifically possible, but due to evidence of observation, I can't dismiss that judgment. Had that creature been attempting to turn me to stone? If so, that would make for one powerful defense mechanism. Much like the gorgon Medusa, the ability to turn any attacking predator into a stone block would make such attacks suicidal.

Smarty Pants seemed shocked that I had walked away from that encounter with only a horrible splitting headache though, and then shocked me when she gently patted me on the back. Up until now, we hadn’t had actual physical contact. It had been a kind of unspoken (not that we could speak) rule not to touch each other directly.

Mission Log:
August 22nd, 2257

I am feeling better this evening.

After discovering the reason for my headache yesterday, Smarty Pants came to the hill with a small bottle of liquid and motioned that I drink it. The liquid in it had me wary, as it was glowing faintly like a nearly dead chem-stick, which is toxic to ingest. However, Smarty Pants appeared confident in what she had given me. Whatever it was, it tasted a bit like soy sauce and pop rocks in soda. Not the most pleasant mix, but before I had even finished downing the bottle, I could feel the headache I had receding. Smarty Pants appeared relieved that it worked.

My breath smelled like chicken noodle soup for the rest of the day. Curious.

Mission Log:
August 23rd, 2257

Despite being the height of summer back home, the outside temperature in this valley never seemed to peak much past eighty. I had neglected to compile a celestial chart to tell me what season this area might be in. The pegasus groups were at it again all morning, moving clouds in that fascinating way they do until they had pieced together a rainstorm from scratch.

Smarty Pants seemed reluctant to stay out in the rain, and had motioned for me to follow her back towards the town. However, I felt that was an unwise choice and had to decline. I spent the rest of the day in the Raven researching mythological earth beasts. If things here were so similar to Earth, perhaps I could glean some knowledge on that animal that ‘attacked’ me.

Mission Log:
August 24th, 2257


That’s what I found after six hours of skimming the database. Like many of the creatures I’ve encountered, the match is disturbingly accurate. Head of a chicken, body of a snake. This mythological beast could turn you to stone by staring you in the eye, just like what the animal had done to me, with the only exception being that I did not turn to stone but instead got a headache.

I’ve realized that with all these strange matches between mythological Earth animals and the real deal on this planet, I might have a lot more information than I first thought. I printed out the data I had on every mythological beast I could find and took the mess to Smarty Pants.

I have never seen a creature look so excited -- except maybe Party Popper, but that’s like watching a living sugar rush. Smarty Pants was astounded by the images I brought and even more ecstatic to hear the human words for them.

We tried our dexterous appendages at bridging the communication gap, having not gotten very far with ‘grass’, ‘tree’, ‘rock’ and other words over the last few weeks. Objects were easy, but objects alone did not communicate ideas as well as we’d like. And being so different in physiology, we had a hard time connecting emotional concepts. However, we managed to come to a conclusion after we singled out Manticore, Cockatrice, Hydra, and Dragon from the extensive listing I’d brought.


Smarty Pants was so excited for a moment that we’d communicated a concept rather than a thing, that for a moment, it didn’t immediately click in her head. But when it did, she stopped, once more making contact by grabbing me on the shoulders, and turning me towards the forest, and making a gesture.


She repeated her warning, a serious face on as she gestured again, this time tapping the images, then pointing at the forest. I think I understood clearly what she meant. The forest was dangerous. And if the creatures we’d selected from the group were any indication... Then so far, I’ve only encountered the small-fry. I mean, a HYDRA?

Once again, moving the Raven seems to be a good idea.

Mission Log:
August 25th, 2257

I’m more wary of the forest now. With Mythical creatures having real counterparts on this world, the concealing canopy of the trees has become unsettling to me and unusual sounds I previously ignored have become more alarming. I noticed the yellow eyes once more. They retreated quickly when I stopped and rested my hand on my weapon. Whatever it was, it was intelligent enough to know I was nervous, and knew the object I had was dangerous.

Moving the Raven, while technically a snap, won't be so simple considering I don’t want to frighten the locals. Before I can move it, I want to make sure that the roar of the rocket thrusters won’t cause the entire town to evacuate in a panic. As far as I can tell, while they appear to have a few forms of vehicle to work with, large, LOUD spacecraft are not one of them.

I brought Smarty Pants some documents and schematics on the Ravenstar, plus a few pictures of the trial flights of the design prototypes. She seemed confused at what it was as I did my best to communicate my intent.

Spike was there once more, and the little critter seemed intrigued by the design. Unfortunately, aside from solidifying a few more concepts and vocabulary, we did not achieve much.

Mission Log:
August 26th, 2257

Smarty Pants brought another friend with her today. This one was one of the pegasus type. In fact, it was the blue one I’d seen zipping about the clouds like a fighter jet. She -- I think it’s a she -- was colored in such a way that I had only ever seen on parrots. Most of her fur was blue, save for the flank marks. But her mane was a bright and neatly organized length of rainbow stripes. I’m still amazed these aren’t dye jobs. Her flank mark, of course, was very clearly a cloud with a rainbow colored lightning bolt. How do they DO it? That looks so natural! It’s got to be fake.

‘Thunderbow’ -- it’s the only way to really describe her in full with that mark -- was completely different from both Smarty Pants and Party Popper. The moment I approached, she was instantly leery. She started circling, investigating me in a suspecting manner as if expecting me to try to jump and gobble her up at any moment.

This aggressive behavior was short lived once Smarty Pants had brought out the flight documents I’d given her. The pegasus seemed intensely interested in the vehicle. I would suspect the reason was because she could fly.

‘Thunderbow’ treated us to an acrobatics display not long after that. If I were to hazard a guess, it was an attempt to impress from one flier to the next. If only I could tell her that I found the cloud moving more impressive than the acrobatics…

Mission Log:
August 27th, 2257

I was awoken this morning by a tapping noise and was shocked to discover ‘Thunderbow’ standing on the nose cone of the Ravenstar. Apparently the pegasus had followed me the previous evening to discover what I had been disappearing off to. And with her ability to fly, I guess she had no issues keeping up with me through the forest.

Smarty Pants had also come along it seems, as when I popped the hatch, she was standing on the ground inspecting the vehicle curiously. The small unicorn examined my vessel and then looked at the sheet of paper I had given her, seeming to inspect various spots, most likely identifying parts.

As curious as they were, I allowed a tour of the vehicle. ‘Thunderbow’ spent much of her time checking out the flying surfaces and comparing them to her wings. Smarty Pants was more interested in looking at the inside.

Her curiosity seemed endless. Smarty Pants examined almost every last inch of the cabin, from my bunk, to the sanitation station, to the cockpit. But it was the cockpit that seemed to captivate her most. I caught her trying to play with controls several times, having to actually slap her elastic hooves away from several controls citing the now familiar word ‘danger’. Of course, with the APU offline, she would be hard pressed to do anything dangerous unless she found the throttle. And I was between her and the throttles.

It took a lot of work to divert her from the cockpit, but I managed to drag her to something even more captivating: the computer. This may have been a mistake, because once she discovered how to operate it, she couldn’t stop playing with it. I would have expected her to be deterred by the inability to read English, but she still managed to learn how to navigate the core menus through trial and error.

I ended up showing her and Thunderbow a video demonstration of the craft, as well as map out what I intended to do. This time they both seemed to understand. I wanted to move the Raven from the clearing to the area outside of town without causing a panic. I could only do that with their help.

Mission Log:
August 28th, 2257

I awoke again to tapping and discovered that ‘Thunderbow’ was once more standing on the nose of the Ravenstar. Smarty Pants was also there, this time with Spike and Party Popper in tow. Popper seemed excited to the point of bursting upon seeing me, and Thunderbow seemed agitated and ready to take off at any moment.

It took some creative charades to work it out, but it seemed they had excitedly prepared for the move some time yesterday evening. Smarty Pants practically crawled over me to get into the cockpit. I can only assume that she wanted to see the Raven in action. Spike and Party Popper, likewise, appeared to want a ride in the vehicle. And somehow, I think Thunder wanted a race.

I was apprehensive about allowing these locals to actually ride in an operational spacecraft. The seats were designed for human anatomy, and so were the harnesses. There was no proper way to secure Smarty Pants in the cockpit seat she’d taken up, and the other passengers were likewise out of luck. Then again, I was the sole human, and the only being qualified to operate the craft, and thus, the authority on any safety decision rested on me.

I weighed this option heavily. Serious injury could occur to those who were not properly strapped down during the operation of an aerospace craft. However, as a general rule, if the craft crashed, it exploded in a fireball, killing everyone on board regardless of a shoulder harness. The straps were more to prevent bumps the turbulence from throwing pilot and passengers all over the craft. Since we were only traveling a short distance at low speed, likely on VTOL the entire time, chances were the only real threat of injury would be the fireball situation. That being said, I opted to allow it.

The ponies were ecstatic, especially Smarty Pants. She watched relentlessly as I ran the ignition checks and started up the APU. It was like seeing a child who got to come to the front of an airplane for the first time (Which technically is exactly what was happening here). When the multifunction displays came on, her eyes got bigger. The voice assist made her head dance around looking for the source.

Igniting the VTOLs startled her. The Raven never was, and never would be the quietest thing. Taking off in our own cloud of dust and slowly rising over the canopy of the forest on pillars of smoke and fire, I could only imagine the look on Thunderbow’s face. The flight itself was rather easy. I saw the pegasus zoom on ahead towards the town. The main engines were unnecessary. Instead, I pitched the spacecraft like a helicopter and let us gently coast forward.

Upon arrival near the town, I met the pegasus circling the back side of the hill, indicating my landing spot. Locals in the area had frozen in place to watch the lumbering spacecraft as it roared overheard. The entire time, Smarty Pants seemed glued to every motion I made, and every control I touched until the moment I retarded the VTOL throttles and set the Raven down in the field with only a minor bump, completely hidden by another cloud of dust.

The ride had been less than four minutes, but I’m sure the impact it made would last a lifetime. Just in case the warning hadn’t been adequate, I spent the rest of the day inside the Raven.

Mission Log:
August 29th, 2257

I write this log as Smarty Pants and her friends watch in fascination. So far, it seems that my docile, slow way of approaching them has garnered me at least a certain level of familiarity and acceptance with the town.

Overnight, I could feel ‘it’ watching me again, and decided to set up some security cameras to monitor whatever approached the Raven. When I awoke, it was to the now familiar tapping of Thunderbow on the cockpit viewport. Smarty Pants, of course, was with her and was as curious as ever. No sooner did I let her in, did the Raven’s computer terminal come under siege.

Party Popper showed up in the afternoon and fed the lot of us an interesting twist on pastries.

Mission Log:
September 5th, 2257

Smarty Pants is a beast. Every morning she comes over to the Raven just after first light, and sits on the computer terminal until well after dark. She studies the computer displays almost without interruption the entire time. I notice she mainly goes after the basic language libraries I showed her on the second day, and appears to be slowly deciphering words by going back and forth between what few we understand between each other and the program. I wish I could say I had this level of attention in school. Things she does not have time to study, she records on one of those dried up papers. I imagine her abode looks a bit like a library at this point.

Due to Smarty’s occupation with GSC’s knowledge database, I have found myself returning to observations of the town. The inhabitants are much more aware of my presence now after the showy display I made of moving the Ravenstar. I have noticed a number of ponies stop and observe me during the course of each day. Several of the younger ponies also appear to have taken an interest in me.

Mission Log:
September 8th, 2257

Smarty Pants is still at it. I can hear the voice synthesizer going at it non-stop as she tries to mimic as many English words as possible. I have never seen such dedication to learning anything in my life.

Spike wandered up around lunch time. The little critter seemed worried for Smarty and had a sheet of paper rolled up in his grasp. Smarty Pants quickly dictated at him and he burned it on the spot. I have yet to determine what purpose that actually serves.

Mission Log:
September 9th, 2257

Smarty Pants fell asleep at the terminal. I have to be extra careful as I write this not to wake her. She’s just too adorable.

Party Popper brought an umbrella today, an indication that the pegasi were at it again. Sure enough, the rain came by early afternoon. It was like clockwork. I spotted Thunderbow doing what I guess was her job in the process. She waved as she went by.

Mission Log:
September 10th, 2257

The rain hasn’t let up. Smarty Pants decided not to go home yet and stayed in the passenger cabin. I would offer to let her sleep in the crew habitat module, but I don’t really know how to explain it.

I spotted that thing that likes to watch me as well. The rain had forced me to pull the cameras in, but I managed to catch a glimpse of it through the viewport.

Mission Log:
September 11th, 2257

The rain has ended.

I almost choked when Smarty Pants practiced talking to me by saying ‘Good Morning’. In less than a month, we've gone from just identifying numbers to her being able to greet me in my own language. It makes me feel a little insensitive that I have not even attempted to make the same effort to understand her language.

Spike returned today. He brought Smarty something to eat, and also brought along a pony I had not seen before. She was a white unicorn-type with a dark purple mane. The mane itself seemed more meticulously styled than most I’ve seen, suggesting something along the lines of a more feminine type. The marks on her flank appeared to be a series of gemstones.

This new unicorn circled me much the same way Thunderbow had, but her mannerism seemed less like assessing a threat, and more like she was looking for something. Having begun to grow accustom to their facial expressions, I had to blink when she suddenly stepped back as if disgusted. I’m not sure if she thought I was ugly, if I smelled, or what. These flight suits were designed to be worn a long, long time without the luxuries of being washed. Each one has carbon inserts good for ninety days.

Author's Note:

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Arrow 18's title track is "Harlock's Passage" which is part of my album "Trans-Atmosphere: The Cosmic Concert". 12 tracks at 7 USD (Or more if you so wish). This way, everyone wins!

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