• Published 2nd Dec 2013
  • 22,345 Views, 1,665 Comments

I Against I, Me Against You - Flynt Coal



Twilight is teleported to Blood Gulch Canyon after meddling with a ship that crash landed in Equestria. She must enlist the help of the local red and blue soldiers to get home while unraveling a dark conspiracy linking her world to a shadowy agency.

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Act 1 Part 1 - Intro

It was a clear, idyllic night in Ponyville. Crickets chirped and wind rustled the trees. The sky was clear (courtesy of the weather team) and the stars were out, unaware that they were being watched.

Up on the second floor balcony of Golden Oaks Library - a dwelling carved into a great tree - sat its two purple caretakers. The purple unicorn Twilight Sparkle was looking through her telescope at the stars above. Her equally purple assistant - Spike the baby dragon - was standing to her right, looking across the town with an expression of boredom on his little scaly face.

“Hey…” Spike eventually said.

“Yeah?” Twilight removed her eye from her telescope’s lens to look at her assistant.

“Do you ever wonder why we’re here?”

Twilight turned to stare at the sky without the aid of her telescope as she contemplated the question. “It’s one of Equestria’s greatest mysteries, isn’t it? Why are we here? Are we just the result of some accident of nature, or is there a higher power out there? Something greater and more omnipresent than even Princess Celestia, watching over us and controlling our destinies…”

Twilight looked back down at the baby dragon. “I don’t know, Spike. But it makes you think…”

The librarian then returned to studying the sky through the lens of her telescope and a strange silence lingered between them for a moment.

“… what?” Spike finally asked with a confused tone.

Twilight removed her eye from the lens again. “Hmm?”

“I meant ‘why are we here?’ At the library staring at the sky, when we could be at Sugarcube Corner partying with the others?”

“… oh.” Twilight looked away, her slightly redder cheeks betraying her embarrassment.

“What was with all of that philosophical stuff?”

“Erm… nothing.”

“Didn’t sound like nothing.”

“I guess I’ve just… been in a really contemplative mood lately.” In truth, Twilight had been spending a lot of time thinking about her own strange life. The seemingly simple and studious unicorn had spent the past few years saving Equestria from evil kings, queens and gods while studying under the wing of Princess Celestia herself, and was beginning to wonder if there was more to her existence than she once thought.

Spike, however, was simply staring at her through suspicion-lidded eyes. “Wanna talk about it?”

“No.”

“You sure?”

Twilight chuckled. “I’m fine Spike. Really.”

Nodding once, Spike returned to their previous conversation. “Seriously though, why are we here? Pinkie Pie is throwing a huge party for Mr. and Mrs. Cake's anniversary right now and we’re missing it!”

“I told you, Spike. Princess Luna is going to be adding a brand new constellation to the night sky.” Twilight suddenly returned her attention to her telescope as if she just suddenly remembered herself why they were there. “I want to document it as soon as it appears.”

Twilight noticed the disappointed groan from her number one assistant and turned to address him. “Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of time to go to Pinkie’s party when I’m done.”

When Twilight next returned to looking through her telescope, she gave an excited gasp. “There it is! There it is!” The purple mare began frantically alternating between jotting down notes and staring through her telescope.

Sure enough, when Spike looked up at the clear night sky, he saw several stars that weren’t there before. About nine stars arranged to look like a unicorn’s head in profile. It was incredibly reminiscent of the Mare in the Moon; the pattern of dark blemishes that once occupied the moon's face during Luna's banishment now gone with her return.

Satisfied that they would soon be leaving for Sugarcube Corner, Spike took it upon himself to start cleaning up the various books Twilight had left on the balcony they were currently standing on. Among them was one that she had been reading while waiting for tonight’s celestial event to occur. When Spike went to retrieve it, he noticed that the book was one of the new additions to the library, having just arrived in a shipment that day. It was titled “Spells and Enchantments of the First Millenium” and was currently open on a chapter about something called “Magical Intelligence Constructs.”

With all of the books left on the balcony in claw, Spike turned and was about to make his way inside when he heard Twilight make a puzzled noise.

“What the…?”

Spike turned back to see what was perplexing the unicorn and saw her still looking through her telescope. The look of joy and excitement on Twilight’s face when she was documenting the new constellation was replaced by one of slight trepidation. Following her gaze skyward, Spike saw the source of her confusion. Streaking past the new constellation in the sky was a shooting star. At least, that’s what he thought at first. Contrary to how shooting stars normally behaved (only ever appearing briefly before disappearing just as fast), this one continued across the dark expanse with consistent visibility.

“What’s that? A meteor?” Spike asked.

“I guess…” Twilight muttered, not taking her eyes off of the strange celestial entity.

After lingering for a moment longer, Spike turned and went back into the library, deciding that putting those books away was a bigger priority. Twilight stayed on the balcony, oddly transfixed by the distant moving body as it continued traveling lower and lower in the sky. Only when the thing reached the horizon and disappeared did Twilight Sparkle finally turn to join her companion inside.

Absolutely nothing interesting ever seemed to happen in Blood Gulch, the tiny box canyon in the middle of nowhere. This was a fact that the two teams of Red and Blue soldiers had come to accept. Each team seemed to exist in the dreary box canyon solely because the other team did. Neither team was very motivated to fight, and most of their time was spent stewing in boredom, getting into arguments with each other to pass the time.

This fact however, was not prevalent at the moment as all of the Red and Blue soldiers that occupied Blood Gulch stood in its center. Each one of them - covered head to toe in advanced armor, each a shade of red or blue - watched as a man in cobalt armor faced a soldier in black.

You have no idea what kind of trouble you are in,” the soldier in black laughed.

Church’s heart sank when he heard Tex speak in a deep, distorted voice. One that wasn’t her own. The woman in black turned away from the man in cobalt and headed for the ship a few feet away, only stopping briefly to pick up a white helmet.

“Tex, wait! You don’t want to do this!” Church desperately called after her.

Sheila, are you ready?” The deep menacing voice only served to remind Church that he was not speaking to Tex anymore. The Omega A.I. was behind the wheel now.

All systems online,” Sheila - the ship’s own A.I. - replied in her pleasant yet monotonous voice. “Ignition coil activated. Starting thrusters.

That was the last of the conversation Church could hear as the Pelican dropship engaged its engines and began to hover off the ground. Tex and Omega were on board with everything they needed to enact their plan to enslave the Sangheili, a race of aliens human kind had been at war with for almost thirty years.

“Tex! Don’t. Do this!” Church’s plea was in vain. The ship began its ascent.

Church turned to Sarge. The Red Team’s leader in standard-issue red armor had been a constant foil to Church throughout his time in Blood Gulch, and now he was relying on the sergeant to put a stop to Tex and the maniacal A.I. controlling her.

“We have to stop her right now!” Church exclaimed.

“No problemo, Blue!” Sarge replied in his gruff Southern accent. Church then heard Sarge’s voice inside his helmet as the sergeant began speaking over the radio. “Andy, you there?”

I’m here coach!” the unmistakable obnoxious voice of Andy the Bomb replied over the radio. By this point in Church's life, the novelty of speaking with a literal talking bomb had worn off.

“What’s going on?” Church asked Andy, realizing with a growing sense of panic that the talking explosive was on board the ship that was growing smaller in the sky.

“Tex is hookin’ up Wyoming’s helmet to the computer!”

Church immediately knew what she was planning. With that white helmet and the device it concealed, Tex would be able travel across the galaxy in no time at all!

“Ready for your job soldier?” Sarge asked the talking bomb.

You bet!” Andy exclaimed all too enthusiastically.

“Alright then, son. Do what you were born to do: Detonate!”

Hey! Do you want me start from three or ten? C’mon! Let’s build it up a little bit! Suspense! It’ll kill ‘em! Ten…

Just when Church thought his levels of fear couldn’t get any higher. The one thing that frightened him more than Tex getting away was losing her completely. Church rounded on Sarge.

“I told you to disable the ship-”

Nine…

“-not destroy it!”

Eight…

“Oh well, score one for the Red Team, I guess.” Sarge said.

Seven…

Church ignored the bickering between Sarge and one of his own teammates as he tried to think of something. Anything.

Six…

Five…"

"Four…

Church desperately tried to reach out to Andy. “Andy! Do NOT detonate!”

Three…

The ship was a mere speck in the sky now.

“Can you see her heading?”

Two…

“Do you know where she’s going?”

One!

The ship suddenly disappeared in a bright flash as it made the jump to slipspace.

“Tex…?”

“Boooo no explosion!” a soldier in orange armor whined. “That sucked!”

On cue, the spot in the sky where the ship disappeared was engulfed in a fiery explosion.

“Haha! Blam-o!” Sarge cheered.

“Wow! That explosion was awesome!”
Church didn’t so much as glance at the man in pink armor who just spoke. He simply turned and started walking away.

“What explosion? I didn’t see it! Do it again!” the orange soldier said.
Church ignored him as he walked towards his teammates.

“Uh, Church? What should we do?” asked Tucker, Church's subordinate in aqua armor.

Normally when faced with a question from his comrade, Church would do one of two things: either he would give him an order, or find a new creative way to call him an idiot. Oftentimes both. However, like everything else that was accepted as “normal” in Blood Gulch, this fact was not prevalent at the moment.

“Do whatever you want. I’m going home.” Church tuned out the bickering that immediately followed between the rest of the Red and Blue soldiers as he walked solemnly towards Blue Base.

This wasn’t the first time Tex had died while Church was helpless to do anything, and it hurt just as much now as it had each time before. It seemed as if his entire life was nothing but an endless cycle of failure, where the people he loved suffered the consequences.

What bothered Church the most this time was that he didn’t even get to say goodbye. This was strange, because for as long as Church could remember, he hated goodbyes.


Twilight Sparkle wasted no time in stepping off the train as soon as it came to a complete stop in the station. It had been a long three-day ride from Ponyville with only one stop for fuel on the second day, and she needed to stretch her legs. Stepping out onto the wooden platform, the desert air was oppressively hot and dry, but no less refreshing.

“Welcome to Dodge City!” a tiny enthusiastic filly with a sky-blue coat and blonde mane greeted.

Twilight smiled at the bright young foal as she continued to make her way off the platform. The filly simply continued to give the same greeting to every pony that stepped off the train, apparently having made it her mission to welcome every new arrival to her town.

“Mighty eager to git off the train, huh?”

Twilight turned at the familiar southern twang and saw Applejack and the rest of her friends step off the train with their saddlebags… and hers.

“Oh, whoops.” With a burst of telekinetic magic, Twilight levitated the saddlebag with her cutie mark on it out of Applejack’s extended hoof and placed it securely across her back.

“Honestly, sugarcube. You’d forget yer own horn if it weren’t attached to yer head!” Applejack snickered.

“Welcome to Dodge City!”

A certain energetic pink earth pony wasted no time in hopping up to the tiny blue filly. “Well aren’t you just the most adorable-est thing ever!” Pinkie Pie giggled, ruffling the filly’s mane. “I could just eat you up! OM-NOM-NOM-NOM!”

Twilight gave a good-natured sigh as her poofy pink friend continued making goofy exaggerated eating noises for the hysterically giggling filly. Pinkie had only barely gotten off the train and already she was making new friends. Though, Applejack had to step in and pry the pink pony's mouth open to release the filly's tail from its grip (the filly, for her part, seemed to be having fun regardless).

“It’s about time we got here, I thought my wings were gonna fall off if I was cooped up in that train a second longer!” Rainbow Dash complained, stretching the aforementioned appendages out.

“I’m pretty sure no pegasus ever lost her wings from not flying for a couple of days,” Spike deadpanned as he walked up to Twilight.

“Yeah, still think I’ll stretch the girls out a bit,” Rainbow Dash said nonchalantly, giving a few flaps of her wings “Maybe show the ponies of this town some awesome moves while I’m at it!”

Satisfied with her idea, the rainbow-maned pegasus took off into the air and started lazily circling over the town, throwing in the occasional spin or loop-de-loop. The other five ponies and one baby dragon continued stepping off the train platform and took their first steps into Dodge City proper.

The name Dodge City was a little misleading. It was more of a junction between the various distant outlying farms, at the center of which was a small cluster of run down wooden buildings. Ponies that thought of Ponyville as rustic have clearly never been to Dodge City. A bucktoothed earth pony stallion sitting on a nearby veranda strumming on a banjo completed the picture. The one thing that clashed with the town’s bucolic image was a very out of place patrol of ponies in the iron armor of the Equestrian Military that caught Twilight Sparkle’s attention.

“Ooh! Ooh! I should start planning the welcome party right after we’ve done Twilight’s thing!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed as she bounced merrily along with the rest of the group.

“Um… I don’t really think you’re supposed to throw your own welcoming party…” Fluttershy said at barely audible levels. The shy yellow pegasus with pink hair was currently walking behind the group and was doing her best to avoid eye contact with any other pony in town.

“I’m not throwing a ‘Welcome to Dodge City, Pinkie Pie’ party, silly! I’m throwing a ‘Welcome to Pinkie Pie, Dodge City’ party!” Pinkie explained as if it was obvious.

Twilight and the others simply decided to drop the issue, lest they fall deeper into the black hole that was Pinkie Pie’s logic.

“Well, I fer one like it here. Reminds me a bit ‘o Appleloosa, only a little more in need of a fixer-upper!” Applejack drawled, already studying the buildings in the vicinity, imagining how she would go about repairing them.

“Erm… yes. Not that I’m unhappy to be here to help you, Twilight darling…” Rarity carefully started. The finicky fashionista paused to maneuver around a particularly muddy spot, giving it an offended glare. “But did Princess Celestia say what exactly she needed you here for?”

Twilight looked at the posh white unicorn with an amused grin. “Oh, Princess Celestia isn’t the one who sent for me.”

“But… did you not say that you received a letter from her the day after the Cakes’ tenth anniversary celebration?”

“I said I received a letter from the Princess. I didn’t say it was Celestia.”

On cue, the group of five mares and one baby dragon turned a corner and came face to face with a dark alicorn flanked by two ponies in dark purple armor. Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity and Spike all gaped at Princess Luna, wondering for a moment if the coincidental timing of her appearance had been planned.

The night alicorn gave no indication of such as she simply looked at Twilight and her friends expectantly, her starry ethereal mane flowing majestically. This regal image was abruptly ruined by Rainbow Dash colliding with the ground a few feet behind the Princess of the Night. Apparently, she too had been surprised by Princess Luna’s sudden appearance.

“I’m okay! My face cushioned my landing!” Rainbow’s voice was slightly muffled by the ground that her face was buried in.

Despite Rainbow’s assurance, Fluttershy bolted past Luna and her guards to make sure her friend wasn’t hurt. Twilight meanwhile approached Luna and gave her a quick bow.

“Hello, Princess Luna!”

“Well met indeed, Twilight Sparkle. We- I am most pleased to see you again!” The night alicorn was still adjusting to modern language conventions since her attempted reintroduction to modern society on Nightmare Night about a year ago.

“I see you brought your friends along with you. Excellent. Come with me. There are great matters we must see to.”

Luna turned and began walking through town, the rest of Twilight's group right behind her and her two guards taking up position behind them. The group got plenty of curious looks from various local ponies as they walked. Twilight sped up a little so she was walking alongside the Princess. A couple of things about the whole situation were on her mind and she wanted to ask Luna about it. She decided to engage in a little small talk first.

“I really like your new constellation by the way.”

Luna gave a solemn nod. “Thank you, Twilight Sparkle. Your recent efforts in defense of the Crystal Empire were quite admirable.”
Twilight didn't miss just how quick Luna was to change the topic. She couldn’t help but wonder about the reason why Princess Luna had put the same image in the stars that was on the face of the moon during her banishment. She thought it best not to ask whether the new constellation served to remind Luna of past mistakes.

The two of them chatted for a few minutes as they walked, after which Twilight decided to address what was really on her mind. The group had completely left the center of Dodge City and were now walking along a relatively secluded dirt road, a thick line of trees to their right.

“It’s not unusual for Princess Celestia to call on me for a task of some sort. She is my mentor after all. But I have to ask: why have you called upon me with… whatever this is?” Twilight then realized what she said could be misconstrued as ungrateful or indignant and quickly added, “Not that there’s a problem, of course! I really like the night! And the moon! It makes late night studying very...”

“No no, I understand," Princess Luna jumped in, cutting off Twilight's anxious rambling, "me calling upon you for some task rather than my sister is indeed outside the norm.” Luna then paused. It was brief, but for some reason it stood out to Twilight. “Princess Celestia has been out of the country dealing with foreign affairs. Thus it was left to me to deal with this… situation.”

And so, the second question on Twilight’s mind came up. “And what exactly is the situation? Your letter didn’t say anything about...”

The Princess of the Night raised a hoof, stopping the purple unicorn’s frantic rambling before it could properly start. “Since this is a matter of national security, I couldn’t risk disclosing the exact nature of what is going on in my letter…”

The group found themselves before a crossroad in the dirt path they were traveling. An even smaller path branched off into the forest to their right. It was so indiscreet that the ponies almost didn’t notice it until Luna started walking down into the shade of the trees around it.

“You say you saw my new constellation when it appeared did you not?” Luna asked. Twilight nodded, not sure where the Princess was going with this. “Then you must also have noticed something else strange in the sky that night.”

Twilight remembered the meteor she saw the other night. Before she could give the matter any more thought, the group came upon what appeared to be a guard checkpoint, with a pair of white-coated ponies in the telltale armor of Equestria’s military. The two guards stood aside for Princess Luna and saluted. Twilight and the others followed closely behind.

The purple unicorn’s head began to fill with even more questions. Why were there so many guards here? What did any of this have to do with the meteor she saw? Unless…

Twilight nearly tripped over her own hooves when she remembered exactly what direction she’d seen the meteor disappear over the horizon: Southeast, the direction Dodge City was from Ponyville!

“What the Sam Hill’s with all these guards?” Applejack asked as the group passed another guard patrol along the path.

Luna took a few more steps before answering, “Patience, my little ponies. For this type of thing, showing is better than telling.”

The group continued to walk through the woods for another minute before they came to a hill overlooking a large clearing. What they saw caused all seven of their jaws to hit the ground. The clearing below was filled with what appeared to be enough Equestrian soldiers to garrison a town. Several tents had been set up throughout the clearing, and squadrons of armored pegasi circled in the skies above.

All of this, though, was not what had caused the group’s state of stupefaction. Nestled in a crater in the center of the clearing was… something. None of the ponies nor the baby dragon could tell exactly what it was, other than it was a rather large hunk of twisted metal. It appeared to be painted a dark green and had various markings on it, but the group couldn’t see them clearly from that distance. Much of it was covered in black splotches where it looked like it was burned.

After a while, Rainbow Dash voiced the question that was on all of their minds. “So… what is it?”

“That… is the answer!” a male voice answered. The baby dragon and six mares all took their eyes off the metal husk in the distance and looked to the foot of the hill they were standing on, where the source of the voice was making his way up towards them.

“The answer? To what? Today’s crossword?” Pinkie asked, pulling a newspaper out of... wherever she kept her belongings.

The new arrival approached the group of ponies. He was a tan unicorn with a short dark blue mane and wore a pair of glasses. His cutie mark was obscured by the white lab coat he wore.

“The answer to: Are we alone in the universe?”

Twilight let out a small gasp, while Pinkie dove into her newspaper. “Are we alone… nope! It’s seven letters!”

“Everypony, this is Arcane Star: Head On-site Researcher,” Luna introduced.

The Princess then proceeded to introduce each of the mares, who each bumped hooves with the unicorn.

“So are you saying that thing is… an alien spaceship?” Twilight asked once she was thinking clearly enough to form words again.

Arcane Star nodded and gave a wide sweeping gesture with his hoof in the direction of the crashed ship. “You’re looking at Equestria’s first contact with another world!”

This got the attention of everyone on the hilltop, as even Pinkie Pie abandoned her crossword to stare at the distant crumpled metal with renewed wonder. Each of the ponies opened their mouth.

“Well I’ll be dipped in applesauce…”

“Oh… my…”

“I can’t say I care much for the color scheme…”

“Whoa… AWESOME!”

“Do you think the aliens like cupcakes?”

Luna raised a hoof, getting the attention the excited individuals. “Would you all like to see it up close?”

Seven wide-eyed nods answered Luna’s question, then Arcane Star turned and led the group down through the clearing, all too enthusiastic to show off his findings. The seven of them ignored the small army of guards and scientists bustling to and fro through the campsite. They only had eyes for the spacecraft, and soon enough they were standing right in front of it.

Twilight immediately noticed that the ship looked much more damaged up close. What she imagined had once been a symmetrical piece of technological brilliance had been broken and twisted into an asymmetrical monstrosity. Twilight doubted it even came close to resembling what it looked like in peak condition. Now that they were close enough, she tried reading what was written on the surface. She saw the words “UNSC,” “Marines,” and “Pelic”: Gibberish, though it looked like a large part of the latter word had been burned off.

She noticed a window covering a smaller part of the vehicle protruding from the front. Inside she saw what appeared to be large seats facing out, and guessed it must have been the cockpit. Looking at the hulking vessel, Twilight couldn’t help but be reminded of a beached whale.

After the group had been given a moment to take in the amazing sight, Arcane Star spoke up. “Anypony want to see the inside?”

“I don’t know… is it safe?” Fluttershy took a few steps back and crouched low behind her friends.

“Yeah, are there any aliens in there?” Spike asked, sounding a little worried himself.

“We’ll get to the issue of the aliens themselves later,” Star said, adjusting his glasses. “Don’t worry though, there are no aliens currently on board.”

The unicorn stallion led the group around the derelict ship until they arrived at what Twilight theorized was the back. Looking down into the crater, Twilight saw a large opening in the ship underneath something that looked like a big metal tail, further affirming Twilight's mental comparisons to a dead animal.

“Alright, who’s going in?” Arcane Star asked.

Fluttershy’s response was to “eep” and try her best to sink through the ground. Rarity moved beside the cowering yellow pegasus and put a hoof on her back.

“I should probably stay with Fluttershy.”

“Yeah… ‘S probably not much more interesting inside anyway…” Rainbow Dash moved beside the two of them. “I’d totally go in if I had to… cuz I’m not scared or anything… I just don’t feel like it!”

“Hey! Wanna help me finish my crossword?” Pinkie Pie asked, bouncing up to Rainbow Dash and pulling out the newspaper from before (which was weird, because Twilight was sure Pinkie had left it back on the hilltop).

Twilight looked over to Applejack, who was staring at the entrance to the alien craft as if an orange had popped up in her apple orchard.

“Yeah, I’m gonna be honest: this thing right spooks me!” The apple farmer went to join the rest of the ponies who had opted out on the tour of the ship’s interior.

Twilight looked at her five friends and then at the opening in the ship. She repeated this motion a couple more times before looking at Luna, who gave her an encouraging nod. Twilight turned to Arcane Star.

“Alright. Lead the way.”

Treading carefully, the pair of unicorns made their way down into the crater towards the opening. Hearing another pair of footsteps behind her, Twilight glanced around and saw Spike rushing to catch up to them.

“Glad I can count on you not to chicken out!” Twilight giggled once her assistant fell into step beside her.

The trio entered the ship. After ascending a small ramp, they found themselves in an extremely dark corridor. Twilight wasn’t sure if it was normally this dark or if whatever the aliens used as a light source had been damaged in the crash. Firefly lanterns were placed here and there by the research team, giving off enough light to see where they were going and making it apparent that other ponies had already given the vessel a thorough search.

Moving deeper into the ship, the hairs on Twilight’s back stood on end as she was overcome by a growing sense of unease. This wasn’t just the natural fear of entering a dark, foreboding alien machine. There was something else to it. It was a feeling of being watched. Like some intangible entity was studying her with unseen eyes. Twilight pushed the feeling aside, choosing instead to focus on her curiosity of her new surroundings.

Looking around at the walls, Twilight noticed that many of them were covered in small blinking lights. Upon closer inspection, she realized that these were all buttons on computer consoles not unlike the enchanted gem-powered ones she kept in her basement lab. These machines, however, seemed way more technologically advanced than the ones she used.

“Amazing! Have you figured out what any of these are for?” Twilight asked.

“We’ve guessed at the function of some of the terminals, but most of them are damaged beyond use,” Star answered.

The three of them soon reached the end of the corridor, where they saw another computer terminal and what looked like a door to the cockpit.

“Here is what we believe is the central control system,” Arcane Star announced, gesturing to the wall of glowing buttons that honestly did not look much different than the others on the ship.

“What’s that?” Spike asked, pointing at something on the floor just in front of the terminal.

Twilight looked at what her number one assistant was pointing at. It was a slightly rounded white metal object with what appeared to be a chrome window on the front. The thing was roughly the size of her head. Twilight had at first assumed it was just a discarded piece of equipment until she realized that it was connected to the central computer with a few wires.

“That is actually a helmet of some sort that the aliens wear,” Star explained as Spike moved closer to get a better look. “Don’t touch it!”

Spike froze, his arms extended towards the alien headgear. “Even though it looks like a simple piece of equipment by these aliens’ standards, for some reason they’ve connected it to the computer. We don’t know what will happen if we disconnect it, so we decided to just leave it.”

Twilight nodded in understanding. Better safe then sorry. Still though, something about the helmet piqued Twilight’s curiosity. She found herself wanting to grab it and study it from every angle right then and there, but decided it was ultimately a bad idea.

The purple mare took another look at the computer that the white helmet was connected to. Aside from the various buttons and charts, there was a screen with two different combinations of numbers on it. Twilight wasn’t sure why the numbers drew her attention, but she couldn’t figure out their function any more than she could the rest of the controls.

“And finally, we have the cockpit!” Arcane Star led Twilight and Spike through the doorway into the cockpit that Twilight saw from outside. Sure enough, through the cockpit’s windshield the Royal Guard infested clearing was fully visible.

For the next few minutes Arcane Star showed her the various points of interest in the cockpit. Twilight soon lost track of the time in the thrill of discovery as she and Star excitedly bounced ideas and theories off each other on the purpose of every piece of machinery in the cockpit.

“Not that this isn’t super interesting and all, but can we go now?” Spike asked, interrupting the two unicorns’ latest musings. Twilight felt bad that for a moment she’d nearly forgotten her dragon assistant was there. “This place kinda gives me the creeps!”

Twilight nodded, as that ominous presence she felt on board the ship returned to the forefront of her mind. “Okay, let’s go.”

As the trio left the cockpit and started walking back down the dark corridor towards the exit, Twilight couldn’t help but glance back at the main control console with the mysterious white helmet plugged in. That little oddity was the biggest mystery yet, and Twilight kind of wished she had more time to study it. Regardless, the three of them made it out of the oppressively dark metal atmosphere of the ship and rejoined the others.

“C’mon! There’s one more thing I want to show you!” Arcane Star ran ahead to a nearby tent with renewed excitement.

The five ponies took some time to talk to Twilight about what she found inside the ship before following their guide at a leisurely pace. Twilight however, lingered a bit to talk to Princess Luna.

“This is all… really incredible, and I’m grateful to be here to see all of this…” Twilight hesitated as she tried to find the right words for what she wanted to say next. “But… I’m guessing you didn’t summon me here just so you could show me all the neat stuff you found!”

“Yes. We were hoping that you would stay here for a while and take part in the research. As my sister’s protégé, your skills would be invaluable.”

“Of course, I would be honored!” Twilight then looked ahead at the group of five ponies entering the tent in front of them. “But, what about my friends?”

“To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting your friends to come along. However, they are all more than welcome to stay. Who knows? Having the bearers of the Elements of Harmony may prove useful!” Luna turned to face the tent the rest of the ponies and baby dragon disappeared into. “Now, as much as I’d like to stay, I have business to return to in Canterlot. Why don’t you join Arcane Star and the others in the main research tent? You might want to see what he has in there!” Luna gave a playful smile.

After saying her farewell to the Princess of the Night, Twilight turned and made her way towards the research tent after her friends. Admittedly, part of the reason Twilight loved astronomy so much was the idea of life existing beyond the stars. Now, with proof of such life in a crater ten feet behind her, Twilight found herself imagining what an alien world must have looked like. She could only imagine it was beautiful and full of wonders.


The scenery of Blood Gulch remained unchanged: bleak and lifeless. A few days after the incident with Tex, Omega, and the ship, things in the box canyon were as quiet as if nothing had ever happened. But things had happened; that was the reality Church had lived with for the past few days. The man in cobalt armor walked out of the front entrance to the round concrete slab that served as Blue Base, turning to face the large tank parked a few feet away.

The M808B Main Battle Tank, or “Scorpion” as it was more commonly known by, was the most reliable weapon in the admittedly small arsenal Blue Team possessed. It was a large rusty metal box with four sets of treads and a single massive cannon on top capable of rotating 360 degrees. Church walked towards the large armored vehicle intending to get in. There was a time Church thought he could blow up the whole Goddamn world with that thing. Maybe it was time to put that statement to the test. He’d start with Red Base and then… who knows? At the very least, it was something to do to keep his mind off of recent events.

That was the plan anyway when Church climbed into the tank’s pilot seat. A few seconds after starting the ignition, Church found himself climbing back out of the tank and taking a step closer to Blue Base.

“Tucker! Hey Tucker! TUCKER!” Church called, hoping that simply yelling his companion’s name enough times would get him to answer.

Sure enough, the soldier in aqua armor appeared on the roof of the base. “Ugh, dude... we have radios in our helmets. Why are you yelling like a fucking lunatic?”
“Oh yeah, good point.” Both Church and Tucker heard the all too familiar beeps and static in their helmets as Church turned on his helmet radio. “TUCKER! GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE NOW!”

“Ow! Goddammit!” Tucker shouted, putting his hands to the sides of his helmet where his ears were located, suffering the feedback that naturally came with Church yelling over the radio at top of his lungs. “Asshole…”

Soon, Tucker joined Church beside the tank. “Alright, I’m here. What do you want?”

Church sighed. “What the hell’s wrong with the tank?”

“I dunno, you tell me! You’re the one who was out here fucking with it!”

“Well for starters, I can’t drive it. The engine works, but I can’t get it to move.”

“Did you shift the gear?”

Church gave an exaggerated shrug of his arms. “Oh of course! That’s the issue! I had it in park! Thanks Tucker, what would I ever do without your fucking expertise?” Church then dropped his arms and with them his sarcastic tone. “Of course I shifted the gear! Do I look like a Goddamn idiot?”

“I don’t think you want me to answer that…”

“Whatever, do you know who the last person to use the tank was?”

There were three other people currently stationed at Blue Base aside from Church and Tucker. Sister, Doc, and…

“Caboose,” Tucker answered. “He said he was trying to find Sheila or some dumb crap.”

“Sheila?”

Sheila was the A.I. that once operated the tank. Church found this strange, namely because, “Sheila’s not in the tank anymore, remember? We moved her to the ship!”

“I know that! But you know Caboose. He’s kind of an idiot.”

“Understatement of the century…”

“He probably thinks some part of Sheila’s still in the tank or something!”

Church sighed again and put a hand to his forehead. “So, let me get this straight: Caboose told you that he was going to go mess around in the tank… and you let him?”

“The guy just really misses Sheila.” Tucker shrugged. “It was either let him screw around in the tank, or listen to his sad and somewhat poetic rambling.”

Deciding he’d heard enough, Church once again turned to face Blue Base. “Caboose! Hey Caboose! CABOOSE!”

Church then heard the sounds of someone turning on a helmet radio. “Hey Caboose. Church wants you. We’re outside,” Tucker said calmly over the radio.

Church remained silent as he and Tucker waited for Caboose, deciding not to mention that he had once again forgotten that he had a radio inside his helmet. Soon, a certain soldier in standard issue blue armor walked out of Blue Base and started slowly trudging towards Tucker and Church.

“I am alone… my life is a lonely road… walking alone… into a dark darkness… that is dark… also lonely…” Caboose continued his odd musings until he reached the other two blues standing outside. “Hey Church. Tucker said you wanted to see me… he used the radio.”

“Yes. Thank you Caboose.” It was then that Church realized that the intellectually impaired man was taking Sheila’s loss as hard as he was taking Tex’s. Church didn’t know what was more depressing: That Tex was gone or that he had something in common with Caboose.
“I need to ask you about the tank,” Church continued.

“I didn’t break the tank! I didn’t even know it was broken!” Caboose then leaned in closer to Church and whispered conspiratorially, “I think Tucker…”

“…Already told me you were messing with the tank. Don’t lie to me Caboose.”

“Tucker did it!”

“No moron, we literally just established that you broke the tank! Nobody’s debating that,” Tucker groaned.

“I wasn’t talking about the tank thing. I was talking about the ‘ratted me out to Church’ thing.”

“Yeah that’s true, but nobody’s debating that either.”

“Caboose. What did you do to the tank?” Church made sure to speak very slowly and clearly so that Caboose would understand.

“Nothing! I didn’t do anything to the tank…” Caboose paused when both Church and Tucker looked unconvinced, “...that didn’t involve pulling out those wires under the pedals.”

“Goddammit. Guess we’d better get to work fixing it then.” Despite Church’s words, none of the three Blue soldiers standing around the tank made a move to fix it. “Nobody’s moving. Why isn’t anyone moving?”

“Uh, that would be because none of us knows how to fix a tank,” Tucker stated.

“Right…”

The Blues stood in silence for a few more awkward moments.

“The gun still works right?” Tucker asked.

“On the tank?” Church asked. “I guess. If all Caboose did was take out the wires for the pedals.”

“Then there we go! We can still use it to fight the Reds, we just can’t move it. All Caboose really did was turn the tank into a stationary turret.”

“That’s good right? Because if so, that was my plan all along!” Caboose said.

Church, meanwhile, was holding a hand to his chin. “It’s good enough for me!”

With that settled, the three Blues went their separate ways. Tucker and Caboose began to wonder around the perimeter of the base while Church lingered behind.

“Good job team! I knew we could fix the problem!” Caboose exclaimed.

“But all we did was decide to ignore it,” Tucker pointed out.

Church on the other hand began a slow walk towards the top of Blue Base. He just remembered that Tex was always the one who fixed the tank. Church wasn’t sure why he was so obsessed with her memory. There was not much love between the two of them, despite their history. It seemed like every time Church and Tex were together, there was nothing but the bitter exchange of insults, no different than the banter between he and his teammates.

And yet (for some inexplicable reason) whenever Tex was gone, she was all he could think about. She was like some part of him he couldn’t let go. Church soon found himself wondering whether her ship had survived, and if it had, where she had ended up.


The first thing Twilight noticed about the tent was that it was a lot bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. She guessed that it had been enchanted with several spatial compression spells.

The next thing she noticed was that the whole room was set up much like her own basement lab, with several gem-powered machines working away at various tasks. What really caught her eye was the centerpiece of the room. On a fairly large operating table sealed off by airtight transparent plastic curtains was a large bipedal figure in black armor.

Twilight didn’t even notice she was moving closer to the inert alien form until she was right outside of the protective curtain. It also took her a while to notice that the rest of her friends were standing right beside her, also staring with wonder at the black armored creature that Twilight gestured to.

“Is that…?”

“Eeyup…” was Applejack’s reply, not taking an eye off the motionless alien.

The black armor the thing was wearing looked incredibly advanced, and even had a few areas that seemed to light up like the computers on the ship. The armor covered the figure from top to bottom, with even its face hidden behind the reflective visor of its helmet. It was then that Twilight noticed that apart from the fact that the helmet was black rather than white, it looked exactly the same as the one that was hooked up to the computer on board the ship.

“Well, what do you think?” asked Arcane Star, standing next to the group. “Isn’t she a beaut?”

Twilight nodded, then stopped as what Star said suddenly clicked. “Wait, she?”

Arcane Star nodded. “Actually, we don’t know if the thing even has a gender, seeing as it appears to be entirely mechanical. But Tome Keeper and I have a bet…”

The latter half of the head researcher’s words were drowned out by Twilight’s thoughts. A race of mechanical beings? Or was this one just a robot built by the actual aliens?

“So is it… dead?” Fluttershy’s small voice made its way to Twilight’s ears, snapping her out of her thoughts.

“Looked that way when we found it. Even if it is still functional, it isn’t capable of moving now. Here, I’ll show you!”

Twilight didn’t miss the way Fluttershy shifted closer to her friends in spite of this information. The shy yellow pegasus couldn’t seem to be able to decide whether she was sad or relieved that the alien being on the table was dead.
Arcane Star wasted no time in moving along to another table. The tan unicorn beckoned the others to the table he was at.

“A mechanized body this advanced requires equally advanced cognitive functioning!” Arcane Star received blank stares from all but Twilight.

“Uh… sorry, I don’t speak egghead,” Rainbow Dash bluntly stated.

“Essentially, he’s saying that everything needs a brain,” Twilight explained, well used to simplifying things for her athletic friend.

“Somethin’ RD here’d do well to remember once ‘n a while…” Applejack muttered, though it was just loud enough to receive an angry glare from the aforementioned blue pegasus.

“Exactly! So, I present to you: the creature’s brain!” Arcane Star did a practiced dramatic gesture with his hoof to the table they were all standing around.

It was then that they all noticed what seemed like a relatively empty table did, in fact, have a small square object sitting in the center. It looked like an incredibly small version of the computers on the ship. On closer inspection, Twilight noticed an odd symbol engraved on it. It looked like an irregularly shaped horseshoe.

Ω

“We pulled this sort of artificial brain out of a slot in the back of the alien robot’s helmet,” Star explained. “After much research, we’ve discovered that, functionally, it is not that different from an M.I.!”

“M.I…” Pinkie said, putting a contemplative hoof to her chin. “What’s the M stand for?”

“Magical…” Twilight then saw Rainbow Dash open her mouth to say something. “Intelligence,” Twilight answered before the blue pegasus could even ask.

“Pretty impressive, Miss Sparkle!” Star commented. “I heard you really know your stuff when it comes to magic, but Magical Intelligence constructs have all but been forgotten!”

“Would either of you mind elaborating for us what exactly a… ‘Magical Intelligence’ is?” Rarity asked.

“Sure! I just got a new book with a whole section on them!” Twilight took a breath, eager to share her knowledge. “Magical Intelligence constructs, or ‘M.I.’s’ are incorporeal magical consciousnesses that were used to operate and maintain a variety of high level spells and enchantments too great for any lone unicorn to manage!”

More blank stares from her friends made Twilight realize she’d have to slow down and simplify things some more.

“Think of them as like ghosts. They don’t have physical bodies and have really advanced, fast working brains. They’re capable of performing more spells more efficiently than even the best unicorns!”

“Well that sounds incredibly useful!” Rarity exclaimed. Being a unicorn, she was one of the few ponies in the room who could appreciate their potential. “Why doesn’t anypony use these M.I. things anymore?”

“They became forbidden about one thousand years ago. Just after Princess Luna’s banishment.”

“Yes, they were pretty controversial, ethically speaking,” Star explained.

“Why?” Spike asked.

“M.I.’s were created by essentially copying the minds of real, living ponies. Because of that, they were capable of experiencing the full range of pony emotions. As self-aware magical tools, many became emotionally unstable. They became a danger to themselves and the ponies around them,” Twilight explained. “Some of them even thought that they were real ponies.”

The ponies in the room were silent. Each of them made uncomfortable by what they had just learned (though, an exaggerated yawn from Rainbow Dash indicated she was simply bored).

“Yes. In spite of this, though, I have full clearance from the Princess to proceed with this experiment,” Arcane Star said.

Twilight suddenly turned to face him. “W-wait wuh-what? What experiment?”

“Oh right, I forgot to tell you. I need your help with an experiment!” Star cheerfully announced. “That is why Princess Luna called you here, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s just… it’s been a long day of travel and I wasn’t expecting to get started immediately…”

“Oh it won’t be much, I just need you to transfer some magic to me while I convert this alien intelligence into an M.I.!”

The tent was filled with perfect silence… for about a second. “WHAT?! AFTER EVERYTHING I JUST SAID???” Twilight proceeded to hyperventilate.

“Relax, Miss Sparkle. Breathe.” Arcane Star waited for Twilight’s breathing to reach a relatively normal pace before continuing, “My team has put all the necessary protective enchantments on this tent and everything in it. It will be a safe procedure.”

Twilight looked at the head researcher skeptically, still unconvinced.

“Think of how much we could learn from a being of alien origins! The way this artificial intelligence was designed, it cannot communicate with us without a body it’s compatible with, and right now the only compatible body in Equestria is damaged beyond use.”

Star gestured to the operating table where the black armor-clad alien lay motionless. “If we want it to talk to us, we need it to be able to do so without a body, and the only way to do that is to convert the data in here,” Star pointed to the A.I unit on the table, “into magical energy. Energy which can then be housed in any properly enchanted object.”

The unicorn stallion leaned in closer to the skeptical Twilight. “The Princess herself asked me… asked us to learn everything we can from this being.”

Finally, Twilight let out a long sigh. “Fine. Let's do this.”

Spike and the other five mares all stepped back from the table while Twilight Sparkle and Arcane Star prepared to cast their respective spells. Twilight closed her eyes and focused magic into her horn. She then focused on Arcane Star and began casting onto him.

Transferring magical energy was a fairly common practice among unicorns. More often than not, a unicorn with relatively low-level magic would need to cast a spell requiring higher magical reserves. It was often easier to just have a higher-level unicorn transfer a portion of their magical reserves to the caster rather than the caster teaching them the spell. Teaching even a high level unicorn a new spell often took days for them to be able to perform decently.

After she felt enough of her magic reserves had been transferred to Arcane Star, Twilight opened her eyes and watched as the head researcher began to work his own magic. Twilight studied the way he worked his way through the data in the alien unit with his magic and changed it into magical energy. Twilight figured that she would probably be using the same spell herself in the coming days and decided she should start familiarizing herself with it.

After a few minutes, an ethereal mass of dark energy began to appear in the air above the table. A definite shape slowly began to form as Star continued casting the conversion spell. Twilight and the others looked on with a mix of intrigue and trepidation.

Soon the spell was complete, and floating above the table was a spectral image of a humanoid creature in armor very similar to that of the alien robot on the operating table. The ghostly thing floated silently, staring at Arcane Star and the six mares in the tent as an incredibly uncomfortable vibe slowly filled the air. Looking at the spectre, Twilight could feel something powerful emanating from it: rage. Pure, concentrated anger.

“Uh… greetings!” Arcane Star finally broke the ice, trying his best not to sound completely terrified. Twilight had to keep reminding herself that the incorporeal creature could not harm them. The negative emotions the thing was emitting with its mere presence was overpowering.

“We… f-found your ship. We mean you n-no harm,” Star said slowly. The ponies weren’t so sure the same could be said for the entity. They all waited for the thing to give a response, but it just continued to float there, radiating hate. “Do you… understand us?”

Finally the creature gave a response. A deep, distorted voice gave a slow sinister chuckle, which seemed about to give way to a full-blown terrifying laugh… but the ghostly figure vanished before that happened. Very quickly and anticlimactically the rage that had filled the air like a poison was completely gone, and the research tent was as normal as it was when the ponies first entered it.

“Huh. Is it… gone?” Applejack asked.

“I hope so… that was terrifying!” Fluttershy exclaimed, now huddled in the far corner across the tent.

“What? What happened? Where’d it go?” Arcane Star frantically began scanning the tent for any sign of the alien entity.

“It looks like it’s gone,” Twilight said. “I guess even as an M.I. it couldn’t survive on its own…”

“NO!” Star screamed, smashing a hoof down on the table.

“Don’t be upset, Mr. Star. We gave it our all,” Twilight put a reassuring hoof on the researcher’s shoulder, “our endeavors don’t always work out the way we’d like them to. That’s just the nature of science.”

Arcane Star gave a defeated sigh. “You’re right, Miss Sparkle. I’m sorry for getting upset.” The unicorn stallion turned and made to leave the tent. “Let’s call it a day. We can start taking a closer look at the ship tomorrow.”

Arcane Star exited the tent and Twilight Sparkle made to do the same. Rarity went to coax Fluttershy out of her corner while Rainbow Dash started to follow Twilight.

“Anypony else hear that?” Pinkie asked.

“Hear what?” Rainbow asked, looking back at her pink friend.

“A very specific pattern of beeps and boops?”

Rainbow scrunched her face up in concentration as she listened for a moment. “Nope!” The rainbow-maned mare laughed and gave Pinkie a friendly nudge. “You’re so random, Pinkie Pie!”

Rainbow Dash continued to chuckle as she made her way out of the research tent with Twilight Sparkle. Had she been paying more attention, the rainbow pegasus would have noticed that for once, Pinkie wasn’t smiling at her in response.

As Twilight exited the tent and allowed herself a moment to relax after the admittedly tense moments earlier, she found herself actually kind of disappointed that Arcane Star’s spell hadn’t worked. They could have learned so much from such an advanced race. She began to wonder if she’d ever get the chance to meet an alien.

She could only imagine how wise and noble they must be…


“ATTENTION TURD-BISCUITS! FRONT AND CENTER! DOUBLE-TIME!”

One would think that the loud, gruff southern voice of Red Team’s Sarge yelling at the top of his lungs would be enough to mobilize an entire army. Instead, the only soldier to assemble before the sergeant in anything that resembled “double-time” was a man wearing maroon-red armor: brown-noser extraordinaire, Private Dick Simmons.

The two Reds were not waiting outside the round concrete slab that served as Red Base alone for very long, and were shortly joined by Private Donut. The flamboyant soldier in pink armor was late to assemble because he had decided to leisurely skip his way over rather than walk like a normal person. The last member of Red Team to arrive outside the small base was Private Grif. Red Team’s resident slacker in orange armor was moving at a deliberately slow pace, stopping to stretch and groan loudly every few steps.

“Grif! Quit stalling! What part of ‘double-time’ don’t you understand?” Sarge barked.

“Hey, it’s not like I’m the only one who was late,” Grif grumbled as he joined his teammates outside of Red Base at the end of the canyon. “Donut was late because he skipped all the way here. At least I was doing something productive, like stalling this no doubt stupid meeting.”

“Ugh, I was not skipping, Grif. I was frolicking!” the appropriately pink soldier argued. “And yes: there’s a difference! Frolicking requires more grace and tact. You have to know when to bound and when to leap!”

“Can it, Bambi!” Sarge ordered before clearing his throat. “Now, I’m sure you have all been wondering about the purpose of the special top-secret project that I’ve been working on…”

“I’m going to guess: it’s something to kill the Blues,” Grif stated in a deadpan voice.

Sarge sputtered unintelligibly for a few moments. “What?! How did you know my super-secret plan?” Sarge then approached Grif and raised his shotgun to the snarky soldier’s face. “Are you workin’ with the Blues? WHAT ELSE DID YOU TELL THEM?!”

“Nothing. I just know that everything you do is about killing the Blues!” Grif did not seem the slightest bit concerned about looking down the barrel of Sarge’s shotgun. To say he was used to being on the receiving end of the Red sergeant’s trademark weapon was an understatement.

“If Grif is a spy, I’d be more than happy to beat the information out of him, sir!” Simmons piped in, the maroon soldier jumping at the chance to both kiss up to Sarge and hurt Grif at the same time.

“It’s okay, Simmons. Grif probably doesn’t even have the motivation to betray us… lazy bastard!” Sarge lowered his shotgun from Grif’s face and stepped back to his position before the entire team. “Besides, killing the Blues is only half of my master plan.”

“Really? What’s the other half?” Grif asked.

“To kill you in the process.”

“Oh. Of course.”

“Well, I for one would never have thought that was your plan! You truly are a master of discretion, sir!” Coming from anyone else, those statements might have been rightfully construed as sarcastic, but there was nothing but sincerity in Simmons’ words.

“Right as always, Simmons!” Sarge complimented before getting back to business. “Now, with the new vehicle that Lopez and I have been working on, we will most definitely have the upper hand on those no-good dirty Blues!”

“Wait, that’s what you’ve been working on all this time? A new vehicle?” Simmons asked. “Correct me if I’m wrong sir, but didn’t you just build a new vehicle a couple of days ago?”

The gathered Red soldiers all looked to the side opposite the base where a small, one man ATV sat alone and neglected.

“Ah yes, after some consideration I realized a crucial design flaw with the Mongoose: there’s no massive gun turret like all normal vehicles have!” Sarge explained.

“I still can’t believe you went with ‘Mongoose’ as the name,” Grif grumbled, referring to the fact that he let Simmons name the new ATV.

“Fine, asshole. What would you have called it?” Simmons asked.

“I think it looks kinda like an ocelot.”

“Uh… a what?”

“An ocelot! It’s like a small cat!”

“Then why didn’t you just fucking say ‘cat’ then? You don’t always have to invent new animals, you know!”

An exasperated sigh was the only response Grif gave.

“’The Cat’ is a terrible name for a military vehicle!” Sarge stated. “A good vehicle name needs to inspire terror proportionate to the combat effectiveness of the vehicle!”

“Which is why ‘The Cat’ would be the perfect name for that piece of junk!” Grif explained. “That ATV is about as useful in combat as an actual cat is as a pet!”

“Fine, if it’s all the same to you, let’s just stick with using fictional animals,” Sarge patronized. “How about ‘Unicorn?’”

“Ooh! I would be all for calling it ‘the Unicorn!’” Donut exclaimed.

“I know you would, Donut. That’s why I was bein' sarcastic!”

“So, what is this new vehicle you’re working on, sir?” Simmons asked, trying to bring the easily sidetracked team back on topic.

“I’m glad you asked that, Simmons!” Sarge exclaimed as he turned to face a hill in the distance and turned on his helmet radio. “Lopez! It’s show an’ tell time!”

On cue, the four Reds heard the sound of a car engine starting up and accelerating, and in a few short seconds, the vehicle in question crested the hill, drove down and skidded to a stop in front of the gathered Red soldiers. The vehicle was an all-terrain jeep with no doors and a 360 degrees revolving gun turret on the back.

“Um… that’s the Warthog,” Grif stated.

“Nice work, Lopez,” Sarge said, ignoring Grif. “Though yer entrance could’ve been more dramatic. You barely got any air comin’ over that hill!”

What appeared to be a head wearing a brown helmet rolled out of the driver’s seat of the jeep and landed upright on the ground in front of Sarge. This was Lopez: Red Team’s very own robot head that exclusively spoke Spanish.

“No había suficiente momentum (There was not enough momentum),” Lopez stated. “Además, un monte no es un salto (Also, a hill is not a jump).”

“It’s okay Lopez, jus’ try harder next time!”

“Uh… how was Lopez driving the jeep?” Donut asked. For once, the pink-armored private had a point: Driving was typically pretty difficult without arms or legs.

“Estaba programado con una función que me permite controlar remotamente este vehículo (I was programed with a function that allows me to remotely control this vehicle).”

“I dunno. Robot magic?” Sarge shrugged.

“Puto.”

“This is just the Warthog! We’ve had this jeep for years!” Grif exclaimed. Indeed, the M12-LRV or “Warthog” (alternatively, Puma) was Red Team’s always-reliable vehicle of choice.

“While this is the very same jeep we’ve used over the years, I’ve made a very special modification!” Sarge gestured with an arm to the Warthog’s turret.

That’s when the Reds all saw it: The chain gun that was the Warthog’s primary weapon had been torn off and replaced by what appeared to be three rocket launchers held together by duct tape.

“You created a rocket gun?” Simmons asked. “Cool! But... does it really work?”

“Yeah, don’t we need more… torque, or something?” Grif added.

“What are you talking about, Grif? We have plenty of torque!” Donut exclaimed cheerfully, “Why, just the other day I was torqueing my heart out!”

“No Donut. What you were doing is called twerking,” Simmons groaned. “And for the love of God, don’t ever do it again!”

“I’ve tested this bad girl out and everything works perfectly,” Sarge said with plenty of pride in his tone. “I even set it to fire in bursts of three rockets!”

“What about reload time, sir?” Simmons asked.

“Well, each rocket launcher only holds two rockets, so you’d only be able to fire two bursts before having to reload all of them!”

“You have to reload all of the rocket launchers? As in one at a time?” Grif asked.

“Is that a problem?” Sarge asked nonchalantly.

“Think of it this way Sarge: the old Warthog gun could fire hundreds of bullets without reloading… somehow. This new one can only fire two bursts of three shots for a total of six and then has to take at least a minute to reload,” Simmons explained.

“I’m well aware that there’s a slight difference in reload time, but I think the increased firepower’s a good trade off!”

Slight difference? The person using the gun could be killed before even being halfway done reloading!” Grif exclaimed.

“That’s exactly why I’ve decided when we attack the Blues that you’re going to operate the gun and Simmons here will drive the Warthog!”

What???” Grif then sighed. And here he thought Sarge finally had a plan that didn't involve him needlessly being put in danger of dying.

“Ooh! Sarge! Can I drive the Unicorn?” Donut asked.

“I don’t see how it’ll help, but sure!”

“Yes!”

“We attack the Blues at 1800 hours today!” Sarge declared. “Any final thoughts?”

“Just one: that changing the Warthog gun was a mistake!” Grif said. “Here’s my policy: If something works just fine the way it is, don’t fuck with it!


The interior of the crashed ship was even darker and more menacing with the absence of daylight. Regardless, Twilight Sparkle bravely pressed on into the darkness. Again she felt the presence of something unseen watching her. Added together with the darkness of night and the fact that she was alone, it was almost enough to get her to run back to her tent and dive under her covers. Unfortunately, Twilight knew that once she got there, she would only continue to toss and turn sleeplessly.

Twilight had spent a good three hours in the comfortable bed in the tent that was made for her and Spike, but sleep would not come. Twilight could not stop thinking about the events of the previous day: the experiment with the alien intelligence unit in the main research tent, but mostly the ship itself. For some inexplicable reason her thoughts kept going back to the main computer and the mysterious white helmet that was connected to it. Twilight couldn’t be idle with the desire to know more about that enigma.

So she had gotten out of bed (careful not to wake Spike in his basket) and had made her way down to the ship. Reaching the main computer with the strange helmet attached, Twilight allowed herself to forget her discomfort in the alien environment as she once again immersed herself in the realm of scientific discovery. She started by picking up the helmet in question. After taking a few seconds to realize it wasn’t going to explode in her hooves, Twilight studied it closely.

Her first once-over with the alien headgear proved fruitless. She remembered that Arcane Star had said that they had taken the alien intelligence chip out of a slot in the back of the black alien’s helmet. Checking the back of the white helmet currently in her hooves, Twilight got excited upon finding a slot where a similar chip would fit, but was disappointed when she realized it was empty. Running out of ideas, Twilight tried putting the helmet on her own head, but quickly gave up when she couldn’t get it to fit past her snout.

Setting the white helmet down, Twilight turned her attention to the computer it was wired to. Once again her attention immediately went to the two sets of numbers on screen. This time, however, something clicked in the unicorn’s brain, and suddenly she realized what the numbers were.

“They’re coordinates…” Twilight muttered out loud. Two sets of them: a destination and a point of origin. So this was the ship’s navigational computer. Now she was getting somewhere!

Or so she thought. Upon further evaluation, Twilight realized this still didn’t explain why it was connected to the helmet. The purple mare then thought of an idea. Thinking back to the conversion experiment with the A.I., Twilight carefully recalled the way Arcane Star used his magic on the alien robot’s brain before charging up her own horn to perform the same spell herself.

After a few moments, Twilight fired a burst of magical energy at the computer and was met with success when she felt her magic coursing through the alien machine.

“Yes!” she silently cheered. For reasons unknown to even her, Twilight was always adept at learning new spells more quickly than any other living unicorn she knew of. Most unicorns couldn’t even learn more than a few spells at all. Recently, Twilight chalked it up to being the bearer of the Element of Magic. Regardless, Twilight still wasn’t sure that she could convert any of this digital data to magical energy the way Arcane Star had done, but she didn’t need to. She was just going to take a look around.

Twilight began making her way through the digital information of the ship’s navigational computer. The feeling was kind of strange, like simultaneously existing in two places at once. She could actually feel her conscious mind moving through the streams of data as if swimming through a river, while at the same time she could still feel the cold metal floor of the ship under her hooves.

After about a minute of exploring the digital world of the computer and finding nothing of note, Twilight came across a section of the digital data that was (for lack of a better description) blocked off. It was as if the aliens had put up some digital equivalent to a barrier enchantment around something in this computer. After mulling over what this could mean for a moment, Twilight decided that whatever the aliens were trying to protect would be worth checking out.

She started dismantling the digital barrier, destroying or rewriting the many lines of information that comprised it. It was then that… something came out. A complex set of data separate from the rest of the computer. Twilight quickly realized that whatever it was, it was alive: it moved through the streams of data with a purpose.

It was then that it occurred to Twilight just what it was: another alien intelligence like the one in the research tent. She then realized that this was the reason she could never shake this foreboding feeling like she was being watched whenever she was on the ship: The alien construct was watching her!

The A.I. for the most part ignored Twilight’s presence in the computer, spreading its own code to the various systems. Twilight allowed herself to relax once she realized the thing probably didn’t mean her any harm. Right now the A.I. seemed to be checking the various systems in the computer to make sure it was all working. Twilight was just about to get back to what she was doing when she remembered that what she was doing was finding out what was behind that firewall.

Was that it? Was the A.I. the only thing behind the digital barrier? Why would something that was apparently so crucial in maintaining the ship’s systems be locked away like that?

That’s when it hit her: The firewall wasn’t there to keep nosy ponies like her out, it was there to keep the alien construct in.

Twilight frantically searched the digital space to see what the A.I. was doing. While the A.I.’s code was spread throughout the computer performing routine system maintenance, the digital entity itself was moving towards the wires connecting the computer to the white helmet!

Twilight panicked when she realized the A.I. had deceived her. There was something about that helmet that the A.I. knew. Twilight tried to chase it, but it was already too late. The A.I accessed something in the helmet. Whatever it was, it was an incredibly powerful piece of technology: something beyond standard even for an advanced race such as this. The A.I. then targeted something outside the computer with it. Twilight investigated to see what it was targeting and her eyes widened.

It was targeting her.

Twilight severed her magical connection to the computer and turned in an attempt to get out of there, but the A.I. had already activated the device in the helmet. Twilight suddenly felt disorientation begin to set in and a wave of nausea begin to wash over her. She recognized this sensation: It was how she felt the first time she ever used her teleportation spell.

Just before all of her senses shut down, Twilight saw that she wasn’t alone in the ship. The last thing she saw before succumbing to the blackness were the two green serpentine eyes of her number one assistant wide with fear.


Wherever Twilight appeared next was incredibly windy. The nausea, dizziness and general disorientation that came with a poorly executed teleport spell were all there. Additionally, Twilight felt an intense tingling sensation in her stomach. That was new.

Opening her eyes and getting herself reoriented, Twilight discovered the reason for the wind and the sensation of butterflies in her stomach. She had appeared a fair distance up in the sky and was now falling towards the ground. Twilight tried not to panic as the ground rushed closer and closer. She remembered reading a section of a book once on how to survive falling from a great height. If she rolled right at the moment of impact…

She hit the ground dead on, sprawled out like a star. Adrenaline was still rushing through her aching body as she lay there, which caused her to perform a delayed, pathetic little roll. Twilight decided that the next time she fell from a great height, she would roll a lot sooner.

“Oww…” Twilight groaned. Her legs and stomach were in intense pain now that the adrenaline was wearing off. Her breaths came in pained gasps from having the wind knocked out of her.

With a sore grunt, the purple mare pulled herself to her hooves. All four of her legs were throbbing, but the moment she put weight on her right foreleg sharp pain shot through the entire appendage. Twilight winced and shifted her weight off of the troublesome leg. She could only hope that it wasn’t broken.

Now that she had more or less pulled herself together, Twilight took a moment to observe her surroundings. She was in the center of a canyon that wasn’t very big. There wasn’t much to look at either. A tree here, a rock there. Twilight saw a small, round, single story building on one end of the canyon and started limping in that direction, hoping there would be ponies there that could help her.

As she hobbled along for a few minutes, Twilight became suddenly aware that it was daytime. Or rather, she remembered that it was not daytime when she was teleported here by… just what happened to her anyways? Regardless, the fact that it was daytime now could only mean one of a few things.

A) There was a significant time delay between when Twilight disappeared and when she reappeared. B) Twilight had been transported to a part of the planet where the sun was still up. Or C) …

A loud bang and something whooshing by her right ear interrupted Twilight’s train of thought. She didn’t know what was going on, but a sound that loud was never a good sign. So with a yelp, Twilight dove for cover behind a nearby boulder to her left. Her probably broken foreleg made its dislike for that action known.

Once she stopped panicking and her breathing returned to normal, Twilight tried to figure out what exactly had just happened. Looking at where she had been standing when the loud noise had occurred, Twilight could see a small, smoking hole in the ground a few feet away. It wasn’t much bigger than the tip of her horn, but the fact there were small amounts of smoke coming out of it indicated that a heavily concentrated magical attack or high-powered projectile had barely missed her.

“Uh… All right! That was your one warning shot! Come any closer and the next one’s going between your eyes!” a loud and somewhat nasally male voice called out from the distance.

Realizing the source of the voice was at the building she had been approaching, Twilight carefully poked her head out from behind her boulder to take a look at who was yelling at her. Twilight gasped loudly at what she saw. Standing on top of the concrete structure a fair distance away was a bipedal creature wearing cobalt armor: The exact same kind of armor that the alien recovered from the ship had been wearing!

… Or C) She had been transported to another world entirely!

The cobalt alien stared at her through a scope mounted on some sort of long metal stick. He slowly lowered the long object in bewilderment, continuing to stare at the purple pony partially hiding behind a large rock.

“What. The fuck. Is that?

Author's Note:

Sorry things start off so slowly in this first chapter, but I had a lot to establish and a lot to set up. I also don't like when crossovers like this rush to combine the two worlds without much setup. Regardless, I don't expect future chapters to be quite this long. Chapter 2 is looking to be somewhere closer to the 6000 word mark.

On the topic of future chapters, I don't intend to turn this story into something that takes months to update. Chapter 2 will be up next Monday (December 9). I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with weekly updates, but I can guarantee you'll never have to wait too long for a new chapter.

Just like the show this crosses over with, be sure to check back on Mondays. Don't forget to check the blog I posted with more information on this story!

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