• 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 Seven: Bigger Surprises


November 12th, 2257

Man I’m exhausted… I never expected to be gone for an entire week. I’ll just start this log by mentioning secure file X112257. There are photos, and videos, and all kinds of goodies for the scientists to tear into.

Now, where to begin? If I had any of the stuff I had at home, there would have been real-time updates to the log almost non-stop. But of course, I was only allowed to bring the rugged equipment for a space mission like this. ‘All the fancy stuff’s too delicate’ the guy said. ‘The subspace displacement will fry it’ he said…

But ranting about it won’t make our technology any more resistant to displacement flux, so I’ll just skip it.

I suppose I should begin with my impressions of the capital city. (Well, the highlights anyway. If I try and type up everything, I'll never be finished.) If anyone recalls the log entry from when I first made planetfall, I had passed over a 'settlement' on the side of a mountain.

Turns out I buzzed their capital at mach two.

I guess that explains how Princess Moon picked up on me so fast.

But anyway, the capital itself is built into the side of the mountain and partially suspended right off a cliff. Back home, the first engineer who sees the pictures will probably throw a fit. At least a good thirty percent of the outer city structure is suspended above a bone-chilling nineteen-hundred foot drop. It's a nice view if you don't mind heights. However I made it a point to stay away from the rails. I'm an aerospace pilot, not an adrenaline junkie.

The actual building architecture is a little more standard. Generally it's mostly stone and wood and gives off a 'middle ages' kind of atmosphere. Colorful though... They had a lot of flags and banners on the various tower structures. Photos, in the file. I'm not describing everything in detail.

The people- well, ponies were interesting too. I'll note that unlike here in 'Ponyville', the demographics are considerably different. Here, unicorns are few and far between. But up at the capital, I couldn't go a hundred paces without seeing two, or three. I did a lot of staring just trying to mentally catalog it all.

Speaking of staring, I got a LOT of it.


I don't know what it is, but for some reason the ponies around 'Ponyville' adapted to my presence rather fast. Most ponies generally moved on from the 'look and stare' action after maybe ten to fifteen seconds early on in my visit. But here in the capital, I held the attention of many of the residents to the point that once it actually stopped traffic.

Carriages. Pony-drawn. Just want to note that real quick.

And it didn't stop with the staring. Upon arrival, Twilight must have been stopped every few dozen paces by one of the locals. Apparently the way I was following her, a good half of them thought I was some exotic jungle pet. The rest seemed to think I was some tame monster from some place called the Forever Sovereign Forest... (I'm starting to think Twilight is indulging on larger English words. Her vocabulary is progressively becoming more and more multi-syllable to the point she's starting to sound like my old college professor. And that name doesn't sound 'right' compared to all the other pony names she's translated.) I never did ask her what that was, I better remember to do that.

It got to that point that once the traffic had effectively come to a stop, I realized just how much of a sideshow act I was becoming in a hurry. Twilight even mentioned she got about a dozen offers to PURCHASE me from several of those who thought I was a pet.

In the end, it took a small group of guards to break up the gaggle that had formed.

The guards themselves stared as well, but as far as I could tell, were at least professional in their mannerisms and did their jobs. They wore plate mail armor and had helmets that looked similar to those 'brush-head' helmets depicted on ancient Roman soldiers.

According to Twilight, the one leading the group was her brother.

You wouldn't believe how nervous I got when she mentioned she was talking about how we'd tased each other. But I think I got lucky. Her brother didn't look like he knew what tased meant, or what a taser even was. I think Twilight was so caught up in things, she forgot the technology she'd been around wasn't exactly pervasive.

But I digress...

Once we had a small contingent of guards though, the city locals backed off. This allowed me to do some staring back of my own. I can note for the record, that the unicorns in the capital made a whole lot more use of clothing and accessories in general than those of Ponyville. Interestingly enough, as a luxury item. I didn't ask Twilight about the details, as she was busy catching up with her brother. But if the pattern I noticed is correct, much of the city is an upper-class society. That should be expected from a capital, but I don't like to make a habit of counting my chickens before they hatch.

The castle, or palace, or whatever the correct term for the structure is ended up being our final destination in the city. I have to admit that I wasn't as surprised I think I should have been. I've already been in contact with the rulers of this nation, and I was starting to see all the subtle signs that Twilight is either in direct contact, or very close to them.

I'll note for the record here, that the size of rooms and doors in the palace are almost ideally fit for a human. Back in Ponyville, I neglected to mention that under most circumstances, I only just barely manage to fit through a doorway when standing fully upright. A few smaller doorways required me to duck a little. However the palace is scaled more to the height of the tallest princess.

Also, the place was crawling with guards. Interestingly enough, it seemed they were mostly unicorn or pegasus staffing. Rarely at any time did I spot a 'normal' type in armor at all. I guess you need much stronger credentials to be a guard when your competition can fly, or fling sharp, pointy sticks with their minds.

Our final stop on the first day was a suite at the top of one of the palace towers. I honestly don't know how the ponies do it. I'm in the best shape of my life, and it nearly wiped me out to get up there. Twilight didn't even look like she'd exerted any effort. Maybe I should check the surface gravity values. 'Equestria' is so Earth-like that I probably never bothered to actually revise the values estimated by those made by the scientists operating TNLRT.

A final note about the first day is the bed. There was a slight issue with the sizing. Ponies don't fully stretch out like a human does. Their natural postures just don't allow it. So I ended up with my feet dangling over the end and using an extra blanket. And I needed them.

It's COLD at that altitude.

The next day involved more of the same, lots of staring. Local palace nobility especially. However they seemed to know better than to bother me. Especially when I started breaking out some of the recording tools that made various beeping noises.

I spent most of the second day being escorted around the palace by Twilight. She explained a good many things I can't realistically hope to remember and type down. Again, check the files. Other than that, there just wasn't much to describe that isn't better shown through the photos.

Day three, things got interesting. I set off an ultrasonic mapper (forty-kilohertz) in one of the halls to check its total volume. Twilight Sparkle and six unicorn guards nearest to me dropped to the floor screaming. However the pegasus guards appeared completely unaffected. Unfortunately, after a second 'test' to confirm what I had just seen happen, Twilight CRUSHED that particular tool with a TK field until it looked like I'd fed it through a trash compactor. What I did notice though is that the unicorns hadn't grabbed their ears when they went down, they had tried to cover their horns. Twilight said it felt like 'somepony' had set her horn on FIRE.

Needless to say, I won't be attempting that again, but it provides evidence to suggest that the unicorn horn is an extremely sensitive component of their bodies. First, the electric shock from tasing Twilight had rendered her unable to use magic for a short time, and now an ultrasonic device proves to be cripplingly painful to them without actually causing physical injury.

I may invest some of my time in producing a device with a little weaker output as a much more controlled way of subduing Twilight in any future incidents like the one where she was up for days. It would be a substantial improvement over the taser. Even at a safe, low power output, I don't like the idea of shocking her. (I also don’t like her learning to shock me back.)

I think Day four was where things got really busy though. Twilight told me that was the day she'd scheduled to meet with Princess Heaven and Princess Moon. I don't know what took them three days, maybe they just wanted me to get used to the place before the next shock to my system.

We met the two princesses in what I guess is the throne room at the crack of dawn. And that's when both Princess Heaven, and Princess Moon both greeted me with a hello in English.

That's not the shock though.

The shock was when Princess Moon asked to be referred to as Princess Luna, because she like how it sounded.

Okay, her English was like listening to a toaster-oven undergo nuclear meltdown, but it was understandable so long as Twilight was in the room to coach her. Princess Heaven tried as well, but fell apart after a sentence or two. Still, I was greatly surprised that my personal pony stalker had been taking the time to learn how to talk with me.

According to Twilight, they were both extremely interested in speaking with me directly and she'd been passing her notes on English to them almost from the start. Something about dragon fire being used to send messages... Given the difference in proficiency, I'm only more convinced now that Twilight Sparkle is some kind of pony learning-machine.

I think Twilight mentioned that 'Luna' (that really does work better) was likely a close second (relatively) because she had more free time at night than her diurnal sister.

We got to eat breakfast with them after the reintroductions. I've got a good photo set from that too. Check out the one of Princess Heaven trying to sneak a slice of cake past the camera without me spotting her. It's hilarious how she tried to hide that.

That was good cake by the way.

After that, Luna had wandered off to bed, and Twilight had vanished with the larger ruler to discuss something. I was left for a few hours to just wander around. I wasn't alone of course, guards everywhere, and eventually Twilight's brother had found me snapping some photos of the waterfall that cascaded down into the city and out the bottom.

I'll tell you what, the varied differences between who can speak English and who can't around here leaves me thinking I can communicate sometimes, and then not at all at others. I caught myself talking to the male unicorn and expecting a reply.

I got to spend lunch with the princess as well. Unfortunately, Sparkle was out, so even though I had the perfect opportunity to grill the princess on how she could control the motion of a star, I couldn’t communicate with her well enough to make the question stick. Oh, there was one other guest as well. Some unicorn ‘stallion’ that kept staring at me (I was used to it by then) and giving me this ‘look’ like he was expecting to get an infectious disease. I think the presence of the princess kept him quiet though.

After lunch was the big kicker. The princesses picking up a little English was a good surprise, but this takes the cake.

Apparently Twilight had taken my idle ‘promise’ to take her to ‘see the stars’ rather seriously. We’re not talking your average expectations here either. When I mentioned to her in that interview I recorded a while back that ‘if she worked hard’ that I’d take her to the stars, she took it literally.

How literally?

Well, I recall joking in a previous entry that she looked like she was studying to FLY the Raven. Turns out I wasn’t far off. She wasn’t expecting to fly it herself, explaining that she knew full well that it took years of training. But she fully wanted to understand enough to sit in the cockpit and act as a copilot if I’d allow it.

She’d gone even further though. I recall from a previous entry that ponies do not fit very well in seats designed for humans. Sparkle had remembered this from when I had given her that short ride from the forest, and apparently been actively working with the princess to solve that problem.

All those notes she’d been taking the week before we left, all the entries she pulled on the raven. Between the flight operations, she’d grabbed engineering diagrams…

It was for what the princesses were having made.

Pony seats.

Two of them.

I’m not sure where they found the tooling, or how they managed to do it. But the workmanship (workponyship?) was top notch and looked fully compatible with the Ravenstar. I’ve got photos in the archive like everything else on this trip.

The seats and their corresponding harnesses are an odd shape. Humans have it easy in terms of seat design. Since we sit and stand upright, our seats need be little more than an L shape to accommodate us. Ponies on the other hand, sit much the same way a dog or cat does. So their backs actually don’t rest against anything, resulting in a lack of seat backing in most of their seats. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen very many pony seats beyond what look like stools. The sole exception being Princess Heaven’s throne.)

However, in order to be correctly supported against accelerations such as those involved in space flight, they still need some kind of backing support to keep them from sliding right into the back of the spacecraft. Thus, the most peculiar flight seat design I’ve ever laid eyes on. It looks as if somebody had taken a bucket seat out of a race car, and folded it forward into a V-shape.

A demonstration of how the seat works: Twilight sat in it, and she looked a little like a pony sandwich held up on her stomach at an elevated angle, all four of her legs dangling off the sides, and the back of the seat wrapping up around her flank and half way up her back in such a way as to firmly secure her in place. Her natural sitting posture was preserved at the expense of freedom of movement, but her front legs were freed up to allow her to manipulate things without the use of TK, just in case.

It’s a convoluted looking design, but I think it’ll work. But that’s assuming I’ll allow it. I know I what I said with that recorded interview, but I didn’t expect the unicorn to take me up on it. But I have time to think about it.

The real question is: Why are there TWO seats?

Day five was a little less hectic, to an extent. Princess Luna woke me up before dawn and asked me a couple dozen questions in horribly mangled English. We didn’t get much out of each other. I think she asked about some of the gadgets I had on me, and I did my best to explain them. Honestly I don’t think she got it very well.

When it was my turn, I took the opportunity to ask her how her abilities to control the moon worked. I can’t tell if she understood what I meant with the question or not. The answer I got back left me with just as many questions as when we started.

Far as I can gather, the princesses have the natural ability to control the sun and the moon. They call it their special talent, and that their flank marks signify that talent.

I’ll just note, flank marks indicate special talent. That’s important to note when I review all the ponies I’ve met so far. Princess Heaven’s mark is very much a representation of the sun, while Luna’s is a crescent moon.

When I tried a second time to ask her ‘how’ her ability worked, I think I lost her, and she just stared blankly. I tried asking if it was amplified telekinesis, but my vocabulary stumped the night princess. I tried asking if she was manipulating gravity, but that failed too.

In the end, she completely mistook what I said and dragged me out to show off her ability by ‘lowering’ the moon over the horizon just in time for dawn. I never get tired of seeing that trick, but I honestly would like to pin down how they’re pulling it off.

Shortly after that, the night princess went to bed for the day. That left me to attempt to grill Twilight Sparkle and the day princess for some answers. The short version is, I got nowhere. The princess was either too busy, couldn’t understand the question, or I got ‘special talent’ for an answer.

I suspect they don’t even know how their power works.

Day six was more of the same. Not even Twilight could adequately find an explanation for just how powerful the princess really was. After explaining the dilemma of this star system to her in rather explicit detail, even she became confused. She tried to explain it in terms of ‘magic’, but when presented with the sheer difference between normal magic, and the kind of magic needed to move a star, she just couldn’t come up with a good theory. In the end, she too fell back on ‘special talent’, but obviously found that explanation lacking in rationality.

I think we sat most of the day in some huge royal library just going through books. Well, she went through books, I scribbled a few math equations at her request. We got nowhere.

Day seven was the last day there. Both Twilight and myself had pulled an all-nighter in an attempt to find that elusive answer, or some hint to it. Unfortunately, success managed to evade our efforts by a wide margin and by noon we’d given up and got packed to return to Ponyville.

During this process, I had one last interesting encounter. A pink-colored pony of the same ‘species’ as the two princesses. We met for maybe all of thirty seconds while I was getting some last minute photos. Nothing came of it, but her presence was enough to add a new question to the multitude already boiling in my mind.

What was HER special ability?

I managed to get a snapshot of her at the last moment. Her flank mark appears to be a crystal heart of some kind. I have no idea what that could mean at the moment without knowing pony symbolism.

I suppose that’s enough for Today’s log though. After that, we returned via train. I’m pretty much beat to exhaustion after that all-nighter. So I’m going to hit the sack now and then sort out my plans in the morning.

November 13th, 2257

Someone remind me not to expect to sleep in the day after a trip anywhere within the same star system as Pink Pie. She woke me up at the crack of dawn with some kind of short musical number before shoving a card into my hand and taking off. I can’t read it.

I spent this morning reviewing everything I have to take care of in the next few days. Between the issues with the turbopump, the questions about how the princesses actually control the system, and knowing that Twilight wants to take a ride into space, I’ve got a full plate.

I think for now I’m just going to focus on making sure I can reach orbit and get that Turbopump fixed. Once I’m back on the Arrow, I’ll have it point every sensor it has at the capital and see if I can’t pick up any odd anomalies. Even the tiniest amount of data would allow me to develop a theory.

Other than that, I’m going to look at the cockpit seat on the Raven. Before I say yes or no to Twilight, I’m going to make sure that thing will pass GSA safety standards.

November 14th, 2257

Pink Pie woke me up again this morning. For some reason she looked absolutely LIVID. I had to endure a breakfast of dehydrated eggs and bacon (do you guys even taste the stuff you pack me before you pack it?) while the pony gave me a completely unintelligible third degree.

After an hour, she finally seemed to figure out that: no, I didn’t understand a single thing she’d said. It was rather interesting watching it click in her head and then seeing the pink pony smack herself in the face.

She returned around noon with Twilight when I was starting to take the Turbopump apart.

Apparently I had been invited to, and summarily missed some kind of ‘welcome back from the capital and your meeting with the princesses’ party. (Was that really the whole name of the party? Or is Twilight indulging in gratuitous English again?) Given the nature of her last party, I think I’m kind of glad I missed it. I just didn’t have the energy yesterday to handle something like that. Plus I don’t think I need another one of those hangover inducing cupcakes (until I prove one way or another, I’m sticking to that as my story). I was forgiven, but then invited to - Sheesh, did she really call it a ‘Sorry you missed the first welcome back from the capital and your meeting with the princess party’ party? She did, didn’t she? Twilight wouldn’t come up with a name that silly.

Twilight helped me finish taking the Turbopump apart after Pink left. At least two impellers and half the bearings were practically burned up and ground down to a substantial degree. In the state they were in, they’d probably fail mid-flight and strand me planet-side. In this condition, I have no choice but to rebuild the turbopump. I have spare parts in the cargo hold behind the crew habitat module. At least someone had the foresight to stock me with spare parts to all the critical mechanical components on board. I’ve got to take it slow though. I’ve only got one set of the critical parts and the nearest shop is 3,750 lightyears away. The shipping fees alone would be... astronomical.

Don't even get me started on towing costs...

November 16th, 2257

Rainbow Dash came by to see me today.

And I type this with a certain level of forced stoicism on my part considering the manner in which she showed up.

Somehow, it no longer surprises me some of the physics defying activities these ponies can perform. The regular ponies are anything but; unicorns can teleport and perform telekinesis; and pegasi can handle the weather as if moving crates with a skycrane.

Oh, and apparently they can hit mach one.

Yeah, I just said that. Mach. ONE. Not point one, not point zero one. No, we’re talking genuine, faster than sound travel.

And I only managed to see it happen since I was looking up at the time. Rainbow Dash came in over the trees, trailing some kind of bizarre rainbow-wake/contrail complete with shock collar, not a sound from her. She went on by and less than a quarter second later the sonic boom nearly knocked me over and caused me to drop one of the turbopump stator disks on my foot.

By the time I’d looked up, she was gone. If I hadn’t been looking up at just that moment, I would have missed her and caught only the weird trail she left. It makes me wonder if that was the same thing I heard a couple weeks back. That would certainly account for the frisky way she was acting that day. I’d be excited too if I’d just broken the sound barrier under my own power. I guess I’ll have to check with the Arrow and see if the signatures matched up.

But honestly, the mechanics involved in breaking the sound barrier are complicated. You guys know that.

When Rainbow Dash returned, she seemed just as excited as always, and after a bit of our usual charades (I made my hand like a fast moving plane and made a ‘pwooom!’ sound), she got even MORE excited.

I just realized, I need to check the Seismograph. It should have caught that boom quite nicely. Then I can graph Dash's sonic signature! Sweet!

November 17th, 2257

Still rebuilding the turbopump. I think I’m about half-way done. Sometimes I regret being the only guy on this mission because it would be REALLY nice if I had an actual engineer to tell me if I happened to put a part on backwards. You know, before I spend another two hours fighting to get a few more parts on.

Twilight Sparkle came by to get into the computer today. I was just starting to miss her near daily arrival. So this return to routine activity was welcome. (Not to mention her TK was useful for lifting heavy items and holding them in place.) She printed something extensive this time around, used up the last of my paper, and had to take a break to fetch parchment. Honestly, I don't know how she got that stuff to work in the printer without jamming, but she pulled it off.

November 18th, 2257

I’ve almost finished rebuilding the turbopump. I’ve got a week left until my scheduled liftoff and I still have to plot the best intercept trajectory to meet up with the Arrow.

When Twilight came by, I was in for a shock. She came trotting up in a bright orange outfit, complete with a small patch that matched her flank mark. It looked not too unlike a pressure suit. That was of course because it WAS in fact a pressure suit. Ponies don’t have a space program, so where…




November 18th, 2257


Two of the spare pressure suits are gone! I can’t believe it! How, and WHEN? I’ve been here the entire week, and I haven’t seen her go anywhere with anything larger than a sheet of paper. I’m going to have talk with that mare in the morning.

November 19th, 2257

I don’t think Twilight expected me to show up at the Library as early as I did. But I caught her groggy and used the advantage to grill her on what happened to those GSA pressure suits.

Apparently, over the course of the week we were in the capital, she had Rarity drop in and grab the suits for the materials, and had them converted to fit a pony. I’ll admit, you don’t normally just take something like an air-tight pressure suit and just ‘adjust’ it like you were tweaking a tuxedo. Otherwise you’d compromise it. But whatever technique Rarity had used seems to have worked. The suit was air tight and worked just as well as the unaltered version.

Now, I was mad, and I’m still mad. But that’s impressive. It’s also funny to what extreme Twilight’s taking this whole mess. She even had an embroidered name tag on it that said ‘Sparkle Space Program’ in English. Or at least, she thought it did until I pointed out that Rarity had goofed up the spelling. Twilight’s name was spelled ‘Sparkal’. Apparently Rarity had been left with no coaching and just an instruction sheet on how to read and replicate English.

That accounted for one pressure suit, but I had to ask why two were missing.

According to Twilight, one was of course for her, and the other was still being made for Rainbow Dash.

I don’t remember offering to take that pegasus into orbit, but that explains the second seat Twilight had made in the capital.


I wonder if Twilight understands the philosophy of it being easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. Because while I should ban her from the Raven altogether for that stunt, it just seems cruel to deny her the opportunity to go into orbit simply because I’m a little sore about her not asking me first. Especially considering just how much effort she’s already expended setting this up as completely as she’s done.

The worst part is that I can’t tell if she thought it was okay, or if that was a calculated move. She seems so naïve at times, but as learning English in three months flat shows, she’s a bloody genius.

Still… Rainbow Dash? I guess that makes sense. A flying aerobatic pony capable of mach one WOULD be the one most interested in spaceflight after the ‘geek’.

I guess I could take her, take them both really. But it has to be safe.

First thing tomorrow, I finish that turbopump, then I check the seats.

November 20th, 2257

I got the turbopump reassembled today like I wanted, though it ended up taking all day because I got another part flipped. I can’t believe I did that. The manual explicitly says to be aware of doing that. I guess these ponies are distracting me more than I thought…

But with the turbopump out of the way, I can look into those two pony seats. Twilight left them under a small tarp near the Raven. Far as I can tell with preliminary inspections, they’ll fit the modular slots just fine. However, I don’t know how secure they’re going to be until I have them installed. The bolt holes look to be the right size, but I don’t have a measuring tape handy to double check. I can only assume that Twilight somehow managed to get measurements at some point in the process.

Rainbow Dash came strutting by today.

I say strutting and not flying because she walked up in her brand new pony pressure suit. (I’ll find a way to make Sparkle pay for that stunt, mark my words.) I bet Rarity’s having kittens right now… or would that be foals? See, the last time she dealt with one of my pressure suits, I ended up naked, hog-tied, and being ‘fitted’ for whatever outfit she was planning. She HATES the color or something. How Twilight got her to agree to whatever it is she did…

Anywho, the suit seemed to fit Rainbow Dash rather nicely for something originally meant for a human. I noted that there weren’t any openings or pockets made for her wings. In fact, I hadn’t noticed with Sparkle, but there wasn’t a place for a tail either. I guess their tails were just tucked in. Honestly it made Dash look rather strange. Maybe I’m just used to seeing ponies with tails so much at this point that it’s like seeing a person missing their arm.

There was also a patch with her flank mark on it, and a embroidered name tag written in English.

November 21st, 2257

I got swarmed today. I was in the middle of trying to reinstall the turbopump when Twilight sparkle and her other four friends came by. Having her and Dash help me lock it in place was a godsend.

But after that, Twilight began explaining something to her friends in ‘pony’, using both myself and the Ravenstar as presentation tools. Apparently this was planned, because a much larger crowd of ponies started to form not long after this. By the end of the first hour of talking, the field around the Ravenstar looked like a concert rally.

Whatever she was saying, it must have been good, because the crowd occasionally erupted into loud cheers, and once even looked like it was putting on a show of its own. At one point, a slightly older looking pony made a speech, followed by another wall of cheers.

I have no idea what’s going on. I suspect Twilight was 'officially announcing' she was going to space, but she's not talking.

November 22nd, 2257

Whatever happened yesterday, it seems to have lifted the unspoken Taboo the town had with the Raven. Visitors stopped by to gawk at the spacecraft every five to ten minutes without fail. Some of them even tried to climb on the thing to get a better look. Of course, they would HAVE to try and climb on it in every single place specifically marked ‘NO STEP’. I about went nuts trying to chase them off before they could damage it.

I think the only thing that kept me from losing it today was when Applejack came by and said SOMETHING that sounded rather menacing even to my untrained ear. Then she roped the area off, much to my relief.

She also assisted me in working to remove the copilot seat, and one of the passenger cabin seats in preparation for installing the two pony seats. I recall seeing the dexterity she possessed a few months back when I was first here. It was quite a treat to get to see how she manipulated a socket wrench up close. Most of the time Twilight did anything, it was with almost express use of her TK.

For the most part, working with Applejack wasn’t too hard. Sure, we couldn’t communicate verbally, but we made due with gestures and body language well enough to get the removal done.

Rainbow Dash came by late in the afternoon while I was treating Applejack to a thank you drink (water, unfortunately). She said something that appeared to annoy Applejack before taking off in a hurry. I think I heard the pony equivalent to rain in there. I'm glad I've picked up SOMETHING.

The rest of the afternoon I spent working with AJ in something akin to a mad dash (no pun intended) to get the pony-seats installed before dark. When it was all said and done, we were too tired to do anything.

She’s currently passed out in one of the pony seats, hat and all.

November 23rd, 2257

It’s been pouring down rain all day. Applejack didn't leave the Raven even once because of it. Instead she just took to staring out the view port in the passenger cabin. She'd watch me every once in a while as I went about making sure things were getting tied down properly, but I guess she decided it was just better to let me do my work and stayed out of it.

I tested how resistant to stress the pony seats were. Bounced on the seat in the cabin, yanked on the one in the cockpit...

Rock Solid. That's pretty good work-pony-ship.

From there, I got down to plotting the launch trajectory and finishing it up in about an hour. After that, a few glances over the VTOL liftoff checklist to refresh my memory.

One more day... I want dock with the Arrow by the 26th.

November 24th, 2257

Dawn found me going back over the systems checks. Thankfully this time all the responses for the engines passed.

The rain had stopped some time during the night, and Applejack took off with a tilt of her hat with the sunrise.

Twilight showed up around noon, Spike in tow with single rolled scroll that easily hit the two-meter mark when it was unfurled. The unicorn made a systematic, if not downright rigorous series of checks on the entire craft, taking no less than three hours to walk several dozen laps around the outside before she even bothered to look in the hatch. If it wasn't for the fact that she was a four-legged alien equine, she'd fit right in with a GSA engineering crew.

Once she was inside, the rather stoic nature she'd been going over the list with evaporated as she tried out the newly installed pony seats. Ever heard a pony giggle like a schoolgirl? It's the strangest little chirping noise.

After getting acquainted with her new seat, she breezed over another, smaller checklist while reaching out and coming disturbingly close to flicking several switches as she memorized their locations.

Twilight did not like it when I kicked her out of the cockpit at that point. I had to make it ABSOLUTELY clear that she was to touch NOTHING. I don't think she quite understands the reality of 'Flick the wrong switch and you get front row seats to your own cremation'. There IS a full canister of LOX on this craft. All we need is a leak and a spark, and 'Equestria' gets a second sun for a few short moments.

After another few hours of checks, the pony took off for the evening to get a good night's rest.

Given everything that's happened, I feel kind of apprehensive. I know back home the guys at ops will read this and foam at the mouth. I'm taking unqualified, and ALIEN creatures on a craft not meant for them. I've let them get into a computer system containing any number of possibly crippling pieces of intelligence. And I'm going to let one of them pretend she's my copilot for an hour.

Perhaps I AM crazy... Maybe six months alone in space, and then finding out the entire star system is like a giant clock being controlled by a pony goddess has finally done my sanity in, breaking it down nice and slow. When I get home, my career will probably be over.

You know, thinking of it that way... Might as well make the best of what I've got.

I better make one more check on the systems. If I'm taking ponies to space, I WILL make sure they get home again.

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