• Published 12th Dec 2013
  • 8,726 Views, 559 Comments

A Friend In Need - sopchoppy

Something has happened and Twilight finds herself in a strange and dark new world. The Bipeds here have strange magic, advanced technology, and a lot of problems. She needs a few friends, and they just might need her. WORM crossover.

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2 - Wards & Interlude 3 - Aegis

Twilight turned sideways in the seat, head facing the window, and pulled her legs up underneath her. It was the third position she had tried in as many minutes. Human vehicles, it seemed, were not made for quadrupeds. This position at least had the benefit of avoiding the stern face of Director Piggot.

Humans were strange. Enough alike to be relatable, but so different as well. They had agreed to help her and provide a place to stay in exchange for assisting them in turn. She was a little worried about that. What assistance she was to provide had not been very clear. The way some of those parahuman response officials on that wondrous screen had talked had not been very enlightening or particularly encouraging. Most of the others had been nice though, and Assault had even gotten a giggle out of her at breakfast.

She withheld the sigh that wanted to escape her chest. She had never been that good at figuring out ponies. Figuring out humans seemed like paddling into the ocean without a raft.

Looking out the window she got her first real look at the city. This area looked much better than what she had seen last night. Buildings made of steel and glass soared into the air. Personal vehicles with combustion engines and interior climate regulation moving at a fast gallop down wide smoothly paved avenues. Curiously, she didn’t see any hints of magical engineering of the kind that let Canterlot Castle hang dramatically from Mount Canter. Maybe the current human architectural preference was to show what could be done without it? Regardless, the city was impressive display. Manehatten in 100 years maybe.

While she was looking out the window she realized something she had overlooked before and turned to ask Director Piggot a question. “This is a very large city and I’ve been looking for a while now. Are there not any other races or sapient species that live here?”

Twilight couldn’t say that the Director frowned, as she seemed to perpetually frown, but maybe she frowned harder before she answered. “Humans are the only definitively sentient species on the planet. What do you mean when you say race?”

Twilight startled a little at this. Humans had only each other to talk to. She could imagine that would have had far reaching consequences for their culture and thought process. Hardly conscious that she was doing it, she levitated a notepad from her bags and started writing even as she spoke. “There are three distinct kinds of pony on my world, all easily distinguishable by their physical differences and to some degree their abilities. Looking out there,” she gestured to the window and the sidewalks full of people, “I only see relatively minor variations in build and skin tone. Are there other variations of humans or is this a good sample of the populace as a whole?”

Piggot seemed to think for a moment before responding. Her tone eased a little as she explained. “If that is your definition of race, then there is indeed only one kind of human. If a human refers to race they are usually referring to a group of people that share a cultural background or set of physical features like eyes, hair, and skin tone. Brockton Bay is fairly diverse, as far as that goes.” Before Twilight could pursue the topic further Director Piggot changed gears.

“We are only a few minutes away from the building where you will be staying. When we get there I would like to sit down and go over your abilities with me and some of the staff. Any abilities that we determine are safe to test on site we would like to see demonstrated. While we conduct the testing, some of my staff will be setting up your living quarters. Do you have any special needs or requests?”

Twilight put the notepad she was currently writing in away and pulled another out, flipping about a third of the way through it while it was still en route from her bag. Director Piggot noted that she did all of this without looking. “Yes, I have a few small requests that I hope you will be able to accommodate. Ms Yamada already told me it would take some time to arrange the visits with the scholars that I need to speak with. To prepare for those meetings I would like a few books. A general overview of your physical sciences, a general overview of your biological sciences, a general overview of your magical sciences, a general world history, and a comprehensive history of the last century. Once I have an idea of where my knowledge and your science aligns and diverges I can start getting into the details of the relevant subjects. If they are available, besides reading materials, I could use a large chalk board, a writing desk suited to my height, as many bookshelves as will fit into the space, a few hundred of these bound notepads, a few dozen pens, and a bed.”

A nonplused look briefly crossed Piggot’s face before she responded. “I’m sure we can supply most of that. Dietary requirements?”

Twilight started to bring her fore hooves together in anticipation of the books, but the gesture withered under the Director’s stare. “Um, the breakfast this morning was nice, so probably nothing out of the ordinary. Grains, vegetables, fruits, long grasses and wildflowers. Daisies are a particular favorite of mine. Breads and Pastries.”

“Again I’m sure we can arrange most of that, I’ll let the cafeteria know.” The car they were in went over a bump and began descending an incline that led them beneath a large glass and steel building styled somewhat differently from its neighboors. The driver stopped the car beside two large metal doors surrounded by unadorned concrete. He stepped out and opened the rear door. Twilight gratefully climbed out of the uncomfortable seat and took a moment to stretch out her neck and each of her legs. The Director walked up to the doors and pressed a circular emblem which then began to glow. Twilight’s ears swiveled towards the sound of machinery engaging off to right and she nodded to herself. ‘All electrical again, no magical assistance. No wards,’ Twilight thought. Now that was strange. If this was something like a secured government building, there should be security wards somewhere.

A moment later a loud chime sounded and one of the metal doors opened. When Twilight and Director Piggot stepped inside and the doors closed again, it immediately began moving. Somewhat surprisingly Twilight felt the lift start to descend. She almost asked why, but thought better of it. Director Piggot seemed not to enjoy conversation very much.

The elevator doors opened to a well lit, but unadorned, hallway. No pictures, murals, or aesthetic of any kind seemed to have been applied. Long electric tubes hung from the ceiling, emitting light and an annoying high frequency buzz that made Twilight’s eye twitch. At a T-intersection they turned left down another short hallway that had a series of doors down one side. Director Piggot stopped at the last door and punched a series of numbered buttons on a panel beside it, causing it to unlock.

The near side of the room had another of those long conference tables that the humans seemed to prefer. Three people were seated at it while another one of those fascinating electronic displays hung above the far end of the table. Two more people were on the display and she had learned earlier that they could be looking in from other cities hundreds or thousands of miles away. The knowledge and engineering that had to underpin such a system spoke of the vast hidden iceberg of science and innovation that this species had at their disposal. Just thinking about it put a little spring in her step as she walked towards a cushioned stool that had obviously been set up for her. Director Piggot left an empty chair beside Twilight and sat down to her left before speaking.

“Everyone, this is Twilight Sparkle. As I am sure you have all read the briefing by now and are aware,” sounding like she actually doubted that was the case, “we believe she is from both another planet and another dimension. She was stranded here by some unknown event or accident. For the time being it has been decided that she will be housed here at the PRT to ensure she has support and a secure location from which to work on a way to contact her people and learn about our society. We hope to learn about her culture in turn, so that if and when contact with her planet is established we will be ready for it.” This was more verbose than the Director had been in the past, and Twilight had a feeling that the lines had been prepared by someone else. “Twilight, to my left is Aegis. He is the leader of the local Wards.” She gestured to the younger human who had tan skin and wore a rust colored costume with a shield emblem on the front. “The Wards is a program for young people to learn the skills they need before joining the Protectorate.” ‘Guardsman in training, cadets,’ Twilight concluded.

“You will see him and his team throughout the building at different times don’t hesitate to ask them for assistance.” She paused and cleared her throat a little, which seemed to snap Aegis out of the slacked jawed expression he had been wearing since Twilight came into the room.

“Oh, right. It’s nice to meet you Twilight. I hope we can help you.” Twilight nodded at him and smiled, but was prevented from returning the greeting because Director Piggot had already moved on.

“To his left is John, my chief of staff. He handles most of the logistics and day to day details that keep the place running.” The man nodded at Twilight and Piggot continued. “At the far end of the table is Marian May, our information officer here at Brockton Bay.” The slight woman at the end had long brown hair that framed her face and fell over her shoulders and the same style of clothes as Piggot. “On the screen we have Wendy Sherman, who is the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. If we succeed in contacting your world, she would coordinating relations between our nations.”

The woman had short white hair, a friendly smile and spoke in a warm tone. “While I hope to speak with you in person in the future, it is very nice to meet you. Welcome you to our planet and our country. I know you wish to return to your home as soon as possible, but while you are here I hope you find your stay hospitable and that we may learn as much from each other as your stay allows.”

Twilight nodded her head and smiled as she responded. “Thank you. I admit my first impression of your world was frightening, but since arriving at the Protectorate building last night everyone has been very kind and generous. While I do hope to find a solution sooner rather than later, I think it would be criminal not to use the opportunity to further the scientific knowledge of both our species.”

Director Piggot moved on to the next person on the display. “This is Chief Director Costa-Brown. She is the head of the PRT and is ultimately in charge of the Protectorate, the Wards, and the PRT divisions across the country.” ‘Which makes her the most powerful person I have been introduced to,’ Twilight thought.

The Chief Director had a congenial smile on her face, and it seemed like Twilight had her full attention. “Like the Under Secretary I hope to soon meet you in person, but until then I trust my staff will prove to be gracious hosts in my absence. Be assured that we are looking into the circumstances of your arrival with all of our resources.”

Twilight smiled politely in return. “Thank you, Chief Director. I’m honored that you and the others here took the time to speak with me and for all the kindnesses you all have shown me…It means more to me than you can imagine.” A sniffle threatened and Twilight forced a smile and a glance around to regain her composure.

Director Piggot spoke up once again. “Thank you all for coming. We are here today not only to welcome Ms. Sparkle, but to evaluate her abilities before she begins her residence here. In accordance with PRT safety regulation 714.865. For the archivist this proceeding is to be filed under PRT-SPARKLE0035. Now Ms. Sparkle, I’ve read through Ms. Yamada’s notes and when talking about para-abilities you mentioned that your,” she looked down at her notes, “Special Talent was magic. We understand that you are speaking with the aid of translation and this word is probably one that means something different to you than it does us. Can you expand on what you can do with magic?”

Twilight was nonplussed at the question. It was like asking what you could do with gravity. After thinking about it for a moment she guessed they were referring to the most common applications she used the magic field for. She pulled her notepad and pen out of her bag again and took a second to organize her thoughts.

“Well as you can see the most common application I use it for is remote manipulation of physical matter, like this notepad and pen.” She noticed that other people had started taking notes, while Aegis and Marian had pulled out another one of the humans’ fascinating electronic devices. It contained what looked like a vertical electronic display and a horizontal tray with a series of depressible buttons. ‘Were they somehow electronically storing notes? Without paper?’ Twilight’s mind quickly extrapolated the uses and applications of such a thing and had to bite her lip to get back on track with what she had been discussing. Someone cleared their throat and Twilight turned towards them and avoided the temptation to demonstrate her telekinesis to get a better look at the devices.

Twilight blushed a little and apologized, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that? I’m afraid my mind went off on a small tangent for a moment.”

The information officer spoke again, “What are the limits of this power? How many objects could you lift? how much mass?”

Twilight looked up in thought while her pen continued to scribble notes on the pad, flipping over to a new page. ‘Those questions aren’t quite right. Are they subtly testing me on my knowledge of magic theory?’ “Hmm, well I’m not sure. It’s been years since my last formal physical test with it. Volume is more of a limitation than mass, The more field area you control the more focus and concentration it takes. I’m fairly proficient, the most I have stretched the ability recently is when I re-shelve the library.” She paused a moment as another one of those hazy memories skitter out of her grasp. “I typically handle a few hundred books at a time.” The Chief director was looking at her with an unreadable expression her face, while Piggot was jotting something down in her little notebook and Marian tapped rapidly at her device.

Director Piggot dug further. “If we crushed the vehicle that we drove to this building in to a suitable volume, you could lift it regardless of its mass?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t need to reduce its volume. Contiguous field volume requires a lot less concentration than non-contiguous volume.” Twilight replied in a light tone, happy that she seemed to be exceeding whatever expectations they had for this test. The sound of more tapping and writing filled the room, Twilight’s ears twitching in time with the noise.

The Chief Director spoke again. “I think we can move on for now and perhaps later we can talk about that more in detail. How else do you use your magic?”

‘My magic?’ Twilight hesitated then continued with her initial assumption. “Well, I let Armsmaster copy my notes from my arrival so I am sure you already know some of this. I guess teleportation and transmutation are the next most common applications I use. Teleportation is again limited by the volume of the area to be teleported, but it is further limited because you need to control an identical remote field volume at your desired destination. It also requires much more fine control than telekinesis to connect the two volumes and…I’m not sure I have a word for it in your language but it’s like…stepping around everything between the two. I’m afraid I’ve only really mastered self teleportation so far in my studies.” Twilight took a pleased breath before continuing, there were few things she liked better than discussing magic, and not one of them had that vacant expression so many ponies got when she did.

“Transmutation is probably the skill I’m most proud of. There are two types of transmutation. Temporary and permanent. It involves…again I’m at a loss for the right words…which is odd because this spell should translate concepts both cultures share. Let’s see…the pattern… or blueprint of the matter contained in the remote field is…^$%^%…pushed aside?..at the same time you…push…or layout?..a new pattern into the same space. Thats not quite right. If you…argh stupid translation spell, it will probably work better once I have studied some of your scientific texts. Anyway, most transmutation is temporary as it takes an incredible amount of…%^$#^^@$…sorry but there is nothing the translation spell is giving that is remotely close, but it takes a lot to permanently…push…the old pattern away. It is one of the most challenging areas of magic to master. It took me three years of dedicated study and practice before I was able to produce a decent paper analog.” Twilight finished with a smile, thinking of how proud Celestia had been when she surprised her with the skill.

“However, those are just the spells that I use most frequently. In the course of my tutelage under Princess Celestia I have studied all the major branches of magic and their practical applications like enchantment and magical engineering. Then, of course, there are higher level spells that involve intwining @$%@$#% with….emotion? Purpose? And @$%@$. I’m only just starting to explore that area in my studies…I think…there were…ponies I was…I’m sorry there’s just…something about that…I…can’t remember right now.”

She took a slow breath to get past her anxiety before she continued. “So let’s skip that for now. What else were you interested in?” Then she noticed that the sounds of tapping and writing had stopped completely and no one was speaking. Even with the rough similarities between pony and human facial expression, she couldn’t quite place what she seeing here.

Chief Director Brown was the one who broke the silence, “That is quite an extensive skill set. I think I understand why your Princess choose you as her student.” Twilight blushed and ducked her head a little bashfully as she heard the others begin writing and typing again. “I think that’s enough of a demonstration for today. Director Piggot, can you call one of your aides to show Twilight around the building and where she will be staying? I would like to take a few minutes since we already have everyone here to discuss a few other matters. Does that work for you Twilight?”

Twilight nodded and quickly replied, “Yes, that would be fine,” as she couldn’t think of a reason it wouldn’t work, and suspected the question was posed more as a matter of form than any real interest in Twilight’s opinion on the matter. While she had been responding, Director Piggot had picked up a small device and tapped it a few times.

“Aegis, please escort Twilight to the elevators. Sam is going to come down and show her around. Come back after she meets you. There are a few other things we need to inform you of.” Director Piggot addressed the cadet.

“No problem ma’am, Miss Sparkle?” Aegis replied and turned to look at her.

She nodded and hopped off her stool. “Thank you all again. It was really nice meeting you.”

Aegis opened the door as the rest of the group told her goodbye and she stepped back into the hall. Aegis closed the door behind them and started walking back they way they had come from before. “So, most of the other Wards are probably going to be around a little later. Would you mind if we swung by? That way I could introduce you to everyone you’re likely to run into while you’re here.” Twilight smiled a little nervously. She had been introduced to more humans in the last two days than she had been to ponies in the last two years. She kind of wanted to spend as much time as possible setting up the room they were going to give her, but she supposed it wouldn’t be polite to decline. Besides, it sounded like the time would be lost either today or later anyway. Hopefully it wouldn’t take to long.

“Sure, that sounds great.” Twilight said as she started to write more notes down on the pad she was levitating beside her. She noticed Aegis looking at her a little…maybe unsure, and thought of the distance between them and the elevator. Right, conversation etiquette, he was probably waiting on her to ask him something. Ohh, she was never good at this stuff. What had the Princess said about small talk?

“So what made you want to become a ca- a Ward?” Twilight asked and reluctantly stopped writing on her notepad.

Aegis’ smile ran away from his face and a troubled look replaced it for a second before his smile returned. When he spoke again it was in a strange accent he hadn’t been using before.

“You could say someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

“Really? It may be an error in the translation matrix, but that sounds contradictory. Is it an idiom? Those often don’t come through quite right.”

Aegis shook his head and laughed. “No, sorry. It’s a famous movie quote. I was joking, but it probably loses something if you’ve never even heard of the movie.” They had almost reached the end of the hall and an elevator door opened with chime. A grey-haired man in a PRT uniform stepped out. When he saw them a pleasant smile appeared on his face.

“Ms Sparkle, it’s a pleasure to meet you. They’re still working on setting up your room. While we wait for them, would you like to tour some of the facility?”

“Oh, ah, yes, I guess since I am probably going to be staying here for awhile, that makes sense. Thank you that would be nice.”

“I’ll let you two get to it then. I’ve got to get back to the meeting. I’ll see you later Twilight.” Aegis said and turned around after she nodded in acknowledgment. The doors were already closed and the elevator had started moving back up the building before Twilight realized Aegis had never really answered her question.

A few hours later Twilight looked out a window at the sprawling city below. Dozen of different vehicle designs in a rainbow of colors crowded the streets, bright yellow by far the most popular. Humans walked along the edges, their ungainly two-legged stride smoothed out by the distance. An aircraft landed on a rooftop not far away. For some reason it made her think of the color pink. She sighed. A lot. A lot to take in and so much work to do.

Turning away from the window, she surveyed the room she had been given. One whole wall was a floor to ceiling “whiteboard.” When she had been told what it was and given the marker pack for it she had hugged the startled aid and dove right in. Some time later she had realized she was alone. She hadn’t noticed him leave. She felt a little guilty about that. The happy thought of never having to wash chalk dust out of her mane again pushed it aside. Along the window beside where she was standing was a nice, long, wooden desk that looked like its legs had been truncated to make it the right height. Her notebooks arranged by subject and stacked neatly on one side. The other wall was taken up completely by industrial metal shelving, empty except a small section containing half a dozen books. The shelving was broken up only where a comfortably sized bed rested against the wall. The center of the room had a small round table with two human chairs and cushioned stool.

Everything she had asked for, and the speed at which they had provided her with the requests astonished her. It was very generous, but it made her a little uneasy in a way she couldn’t quite understand. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she walked over to the bed and hopped up. A glow surrounded her horn and the book she had been reading floated over from the desk to hover in front of her while a marker uncapped itself and took position against the whiteboard. It was time for science!

She wasn’t sure how long she had been reading when she heard the knock on her door, but the whiteboard was half full, and the sky had turned the burnt orange of an impending sunset.

“Come in!” she called, letting the book settle onto the bed in front of her. The door opened and the young human from this morning’s meeting was there.

“Hi Twilight,” he glanced around the room eyes looking over the alien script on the whiteboard before looking back to her. “Jumping right in huh. How’s it going?” Twilight smiled. Unlike Armsmaster the cadet seemed to be asking out of real curiosity rather than politeness sake.

“Ok, but it’s going to take me forever just to get an idea of where I’m standing. It can be a little daunting if I let myself think about it to much. For now I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time to keep myself on track,” gesturing to the book in front of her with a hoof. She was about to ask him how his day had been when a cough sounded from the hallway. Twilight’s left ear swiveled in that direction.

“Uh, right, me and a few of my teammates have a little time before we have to go out on patrol. Want some company?”

Twilight gave a longing look at the whiteboard before using her magic to cap and put away the marker she had been using. There was so much for her to do she really couldn’t afford the interruption, but some, she didn’t know, but something about this felt familiar. Like getting to know these humans would be more important than any research she could do. Which was ridiculous, but the feeling persisted.

“Oh, okay. It looks like that marker was about to run dry, so that’s as good as place to take a break as any.”

As soon as she agreed, she felt the field distort in a way she had never experienced before, and suddenly there was something right in front of her face. She lurched back instinctively and her eyes had a moment to take in a short human dressed in an unusual style, at least compared to those she had seen so far, consisting of shades of green. The top half of her face was obscured by a matching visor, but the bottom displayed a wide smile as she reached out an arm.

“Hello.” She, as the tone of the voice obviously indicated, said warmly. “I’m Vista, and on behalf of the Brockton Bay Wards and the People of Earth, welcome to our planet.” Twilight looked down at the arm extended towards her and then up past Vista’s head to see a group of what she took to be the other Wards coming into the room with variations of amusement on their faces. Tentatively, she stretched out her right foreleg and touched Vista’s hand with her hoof.

“It is, uh, nice to meet you as well. My name is Twilight Sparkle, as I am sure Aegis already told you. That was really a fascinating application of magic you just used. Some form of spatial distortion? A @#$%@#$%? How did you mange to shape the field in Q$$% manifold and achieve a uniform $@#%@ so quickly?” With hardly a thought Twilight levitated a notepad and pen over and flipped it to the first un-used page.

A look of confusion replaced the smile on Vista’s face.

“I’m not sure I understood a lot of that. If you’re asking how I appeared in front of you like that, I sort of compressed all the space between us for a brief moment and stepped across it. It’s my power. I just sort of know how to use it. I’m not sure there are words that would describe it.”

A slightly disappointed frown crossed Twilight’s features before brightening again as she nodded. “Oh, it’s your special talent! Don’t worry, they often can be hard to describe or explain to other ponies. If you’re willing, I would love to do a couple of experiments with you later.” She looked past Vista again to see that the others had mostly closed the distance between them. “Who are your friends?”

Vista turned halfway and extended arm to point towards Aegis.

“Well, you’ve already met our fearless leader Aegis. Our very own knight in shining armor beside him is Gallant, and last and most certainly least is Clockblocker.”

The aforementioned Clockblocker gasped as if he had been struck and clutched his chest dramatically. Twilight couldn’t stop a giggle from escaping, especially when she remembered a similar introduction from last night. She wondered if it was some kind of human custom to have jester as part of your group. The one called Gallant stepped forward and gave a slightly theatrical bow before speaking.

“Sir Gallant at your service milady. I would apologize for the uncouth behavior of my companions, but if I made a habit of doing so, I fear I would spend my time doing little else.” That brought out more giggles from Twilight and seemed to startle one out of Vista. Gallant’s stoic face cracked into a grin.

“Hey, who are you calling uncouth?” Clockblocker asked from where he had just finished ‘dying’ on the floor.

“You, everyday, among many other things not fit for polite company.”

“Ha! Yup, I probably deserve it to. Which reminds me, I uploaded all those test glamor shots that PR took of you last week to your PHO thread last night. It’s really blowing up.”

The joviality fled from Gallant’s face as he rounded on Clockblocker. “You wouldn’t. Tell me you didn’t actually do that.”

“Your fans were calling out in the darkness. ‘More Gallant,’ they pleaded. What kind of hero would I be if I denied them?”

Gallant walked quickly over towards Clockblocker, clearly aggravated, and Clockblocker scrambled up from the floor and took refuge behind Aegis’ body.

Aegis looked amused and made no move to hinder either one of his teammates as they circled him. He turned to Twilight. “I promise that we can, at least sometimes, approach professionalism.”

Twilight laughed lightly at his put upon expression and nodded. “It’s okay. They kind of remind me of…I don’t…anyway, it’s fine.”

“Enough about them.” Vista said in a dismissive voice and gestured towards the chairs behind them. Twilight nodded and turned that way just as Clockblocker did something that seemed to have frozen Aegis and Gallant in place. Gallant’s arms stretched out and trying to reach around Aegis’ torso.

Twilight settled down on a padded stool while Vista sat herself in the chair closest to her. “What did you want to talk about?”

Vista hesitated a moment, glancing over her shoulder at the three behind her. Clockblocker had pulled out some small rectangular device as was circling the frozen pair for some reason.

“Everything really, but let’s start with the important things first.” Twilight nodded and set her pen to the notepad. She figured she could learn a great deal of human culture and what they found important just from the kind of things they asked her.

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

End Chapter 2 - Wards

Interlude 3 - Aegis

“…dangerous. I,” Director Piggot’s voice cut off as Carlos opened the door and stepped back into the room. As the eyes of everyone in the room settled on him, he quickly got to his chair and sat down. He wasn’t sure what they had talked about while he was gone, but the tension in the room seemed a couple of notches higher than when he left. Channeling a little of his inner Clockblocker, he decided to re-break the ice.

“Um, just putting this out there, but I call dibs.” The serious look on the Chief Director’s face gave way to a brief snort. Marian let out a chuckle and the tension in the room relaxed. Director Costa-Brown gave Aegis a wry look.

“Aegis, if there where such a thing as dibs in the PRT, let me assure you, you would not get first dibs on Ms. Sparkle. For now, I’m inclined to agree with the recommendation from Ms. Yamada. She should be treated with kid gloves and kept away from violence until we have a better bead on her psychological makeup. That she could be a tremendous asset is a given. That she could be a threat if we read her wrong is also undeniable. Remember, whatever method she is using for translation is imperfect. She may be getting the google translate version of what we are saying and vice versa. Until we know more I would hesitate to trust that what we are hearing is what she is meaning. We need to be careful, but not second guess ourselves to death either. I like the idea of the Wards socializing with her. It will give her people to talk to that she isn’t dependent on and hopefully to let her guard down around. However, any attempt to get her come along on patrols or similar hijinks will be severely frowned upon. I trust that we are clear on that, Aegis?”

Aegis nodded somberly, “Yes ma’am.”

The Under Secretary cut in quickly. “Putting aside the powers discussion, this is a remarkable moment in history. Our first true alien encounter, and our first interactions with another intelligent species. Given how the world seems to work, I would have never bet on such a first encounter being friendly. Let’s not do anything that could change that. I know the initial projections don’t look good for the feasibility for contacting her home dimension, but imagine if we pull it off. The world would never be the same. I’ve got to run. Presidents to brief and a dozen crises, none of which are nearly as pleasant as the one that just left. Keep me in the loop.” With that her screen clicked off. Marian picked up where the Under Secretary left off.

“I’ll let the Secretary plan possible first contact, the Wards handle acclimation, and the Chief Director handle the ramifications of what Ms. Sparkle talked about. I’ll just note two things. The first is that I agree with Ms. Yamada’s notes in referring to Twilight as a likely prodigy. So here’s a recommendation: don’t expose her even tangentially to anything you don’t want her to know or work out, because she strikes me as someone that could pull a sweater string until she has a ball of yarn then knit a new sweater for herself. The second thing is that this secret is going to be blown, and soon. Too many people know, too many peoples assistant’s know, and she was out on the street for god knows how long last night. If you want to get in front of this thing I would have a press statement out before tomorrow morning at the latest, and that might be too late. I’ll keep an eye on the boards. I might be able to give five or ten minutes warning before it hits the media.”

Director Piggot sighed, but nodded. “That’s…Inconvenient. Thank you for the analysis Marian. John, if you could do what you can to prepare for a press blitz without informing any more people in the meantime?” John nodded his assent. “Good, thank you. Chief Director I assume you will want to coordinate with that State Department for the press conference. Is there anything more you need from us here?”

“No, I think that’s all. I have some people to brief myself, so I’ll let you get to it. Thank you everyone. Emily, I’ll give you a call in an hour or two to go over some things.”

“I’ll be here.” With that Director Costa-Brown’s screen went blank. “Okay, let’s pack this up. Carlos, you can go ahead and brief the wards that are onsite, but warn them that if one word of this leaks, they wont see anything but the inside of the console room in Alaska until they turn eighteen. Clear?” Carlos nodded as he stood, the four of them filing back out into the hallway and locking the door behind them.

They boarded the elevator together and Aegis suffered through the familiar awkwardness of sharing a confined space with one’s superiors until they departed on the third floor. He stayed on till the tenth and, after walking down what he still felt was an excessively chromed hallway, leaned forward for a retinal scan that, after a moment, admitted him into the large dome shaped room that was the home to the Brockton Bay Wards.

Vista and Gallant were both sitting at computers on the far side of the open area, while he could hear Clockblocker giving an off-color commentary to some daytime television program from the doorway that lead to their meeting room. He knew Kid Win was home for the day.

“Hey, either of you seen Shadow Stalker?”

Vista turned from her screen with a grimace. “Yeah, miss smiles-a-lot is taking a shower. What’s up?”

Before he could answer Clockblocker came out of the press room and interjected. “Uh-oh. Boss has his serious face on. That means serious things are happening. I hate it when serious things happen.”

“I have a serious face?” He asked, momentarily distracted by the statement.

“You kinda do.” Vista said. “So, whats going on?”

“I need a few minutes to put something together for a briefing, and I’d rather only go through it once. So when Shadow Stalker gets done with her shower catch her and tell her to hang around. Meeting in thirty.”

Clockblocker sighed dramatically as Carlos started walking towards the partition that marked his private space.

“I knew it. A briefing means something to be briefed about. Things that we get briefed about are never good things.”

Just before he shut the door to his room he heard Vista respond. “Not every briefing is bad.”

“Name one.”

“..Ok, you might have something this time.”

Forty-five minutes later he was standing beside a podium with a list of facts being projected onto the screen at the back of the room. Vista was staring incredulously at him while Stalker’s perpetual scowl was fighting with disbelief. Gallant seemed to be trying to maintain a neutral expression, while Clockblocker had finally stopped saying ‘bullshit’ and had now transitioned into asking questions in an ever more agitated tone.

Carlos was trying so hard not to smile.

“So you’re saying there’s an alien in the building.”


“You’re saying there’s an alien in the building that can teleport.”


“You’re saying there’s an alien in the building that can teleport, and can lift several tons off the ground.”


“You’re saying there’s an alien in the building that can teleport, lift several tons, and can rearrange matter at will.”


“Why exactly are we not supposed to be freaking out about this? Cause ya know, it sort of sounds like the thing people should freak out about.” Several other heads in the room nodded at this, and Aegis finally let go and donned a shit-eating grin. He clicked a remote to advance to the next slide in the presentation.

“Meet Twilight Sparkle. A monster sure to haunt all your dreams tonight.”

Silence reigned for a moment before Shadow Stalker broke it with a succinct, “You’ve got to be shitting me.” Aegis laughed and started to hand out a small file folders to everyone there. Gallant was laughing, his power having let him in on the joke, if not its punchline.

Stalker started to absently flip through the packet while Clockblocker gave Aegis a good natured shove. “You ass.”

Vista had begun reading as soon as the packet was in her hand, a smile growing the farther into the packet she got. “This is so cool,” she murmured.

Aegis gave them all a few minutes to look it over before continuing. “So, here’s the deal boys and girls. This is the real deal, first contact, President is a phone call away situation. Twilight’s had a rough time, has been separated from everyone she’s ever known, and to top it off her introduction to the human race was Lung. Think about that for a minute.” He paused to let them do just that, then continued. “In short, she needs some friends, and we’ve been drafted.”

Shadow Stalker tossed her copy of the file onto the floor in front of her and didn’t look impressed. “You’ve got to be shitting me. We’re not a fucking day care center. If she’s from another planet or whatever how are we even supposed to fucking talk to her. Doesn’t the government have like, a base in the desert or something for this kind of shit?”

“Some aspect of her power is allowing her to talk with us, and I’m not shitting you. I’m telling you Chief Director Costa-Brown was in the meeting and extended every courtesy. The most powerful people on the planet are taking Ms. Sparkle very seriously. So, if you don’t think you can be civil you should probably keep your distance. They are putting a lot of trust in us. People much higher up the food chain are going to be dealing with the fallout, the politics, media, and all of that BS. But we are the ones that are going to be spending the most time with her, and we are the people that are going to be showing her what it is humanity is about. Let’s not screw that up.”

“We’re boned.” Clockblocker deadpanned, causing Vista to laugh before her face became serious.

“How is she doing, with the whole, you know, everything?”

“She’s an alien, so no one is really sure. She’s keeping it together, but the shrinks think she’s probably pretty emotionally fragile at the moment. Which brings me back to my presentation. Now, part of the reason I went over her powers before showing you what she looks like is so you would remember what you were feeling before her appearance could disarm you. She’s the real deal, and in the wrong state of mind she could be real dangerous. Keep it in mind. That all being said, I liked her. I think she’s good people. Pony. Whatever. So, we are going to do our best to help her get through this. Any questions?”

“Yeah, what kind of fucking name is Twilight Sparkle?” Shadow Stalker grumbled as she stood up from her chair.

“Cast no stones ’Shadow Stalker.’” Clockblocker said, matching the scornful tone Stalker had put into the aliens name. She turned sharply towards him, but when Carlos stepped between them she stopped and instead just gave Clock the bird.

“Yeah, I already know I’m not going to be on team diplomacy. Don’t think I didn’t catch that little bit earlier Carlos, so I’ll see you losers later.”

“One last thing.” Carlos said and Stalker paused at the door, tension in every aspect of her posture. “Director Piggot mentioned something about permanent assignment to Alaska if any of us mentions any of this before they have a press conference.”

“Fucking PR. Who’d believe this shit anyway.” She left the room and a minute later he heard the security door open and close again.

Meanwhile, Clockblocker had walked up beside him. He leaned his head against Carlos’ shoulder and sighed in a dreamy voice. “There goes our little ray of sunshine.” Which caused him and everyone else in the room to laugh.

He shoved Clockblocker away, careful not to use to much force. “Get off you goof. The whole line about being able to be diplomatic goes for you too you know. Please refrain from causing the first inter-dimensional war with a poor chosen attempt at humor.”

Clockblocker stiffened and gave an english salute. “You can count on me sah”

The response, remarkably, did not make Carlos feel any better about introducing Clock to the alien. There was nothing for it, however. If he didn’t bring Clockblocker along now, he would just go on his own later, and heaven only knew what he would get up to unsupervised.

“Ok, they want to give her a little time to tour the building and settle into her quarters. How about we all head up there an hour before the scheduled patrol tonight?”

“Sounds good,” Gallant said.

“I can do that,” Vista replied and then vanished through the doorway with a quick use of her power.

“See you there boss,” Clockblocker said and put a hand on his shoulder. The next thing he knew he was alone in the room and all the lights had been shut off. He chuckled but mentally added it to the list of reasons to put Clock on monitor duty so he didn’t have to do it himself. Paybacks were a bitch.

A couple of hours later he was adding yet another notation to that mental list when he noticed Clockblocker had moved and Vista was well into braiding Twilight’s mane. Things that had not been true a moment ago, at least for him and Gallant. Gallant apparently came to the same conclusion as him and hastily stepped back to give them both space to observe the room. Also to surreptitiously check for any traces of permeant marker drawings on their persons. As they did so, they drifted back towards the door so they could talk without interrupting the scene in front of them.

Clockblocker seemed to be trying to comprehend what Twilight had been writing on the board while Vista worked on the unicorn’s hair. “So, what does this part mean?”

“That set of equations is the first part of how one could derive one’s location in space-time based on the @#$%$@ and the magic field resonance between $@$%@ and local gravimetric forces.”

Clockblocker nodded sagely, as if he had simply seeking confirmation for his own thoughts. “Yes, yes I think I see what you mean.” Carlos couldn’t contain a small bark of laughter at that, and he heard Gallant chuckle beside him.

“Times like this he almost makes you forget that you’ve already worked out how you would hide his body.” Gallant said quietly as the two of them watched the scene from the doorway.

“He knows how to walk the line alright.” Carlos agreed. “Picking anything up from our guest?”

Gallant nodded. “Yes…it’s different, and complicated. Lots of stuff swirling around, not really surprising. It feels like she’s happy for the company however, at least on the surface.”

“I’ll take it. Alright, let’s go be friendly. We can’t let Clockblocker be humanity’s main impression on first contact.”

Forty minutes later, after having learned entirely to much about hairstyles and either entirely to little or to much about theoretical physics, he noticed Clockblocker leaning up against the door frame to the room with a small frown on his face. Getting up while Twilight’s attention was focused on Vista’s hair he walked over to him.

Clock almost seemed to be staring through the scene in front of him. Gallant, Vista, and Twilight were having a good spirited conversation punctuated intermittently by Vista giggling as the unicorn braided her hair with telekinesis. Over the past year, Vista had put a lot of effort into trying to shed her image as the kid sister of the wards, but given the cover of fostering inter-galactic or inter-dimensional relations she was letting herself have fun. It was striking seeing her really relaxed for the first time in months.

“Whats up Clock? Figured you’d still be busy corrupting the alien.”

Clockblocker shifted a little so that he could face Aegis and still see into the room. “Just wondering where the bag of shit is.”

Carlos felt his face take on a puzzled frown. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that this is reality, and everything awesome comes with a bag of shit. Superpowers come with triggers, Scion comes with Endbringers, and Doritos have trans-fats.” He paused and gestured to the scene again. Vista was blushing at something Gallant had said and Twilight was clopping her fore hooves together with a smile on her equine face. “That, that right there, is awesome. So, what I’m wondering is, where’s the bag of shit?”

Author's Note:

Re-Written and edited with the help of Deadpan