• Published 6th Apr 2012
  • 6,684 Views, 259 Comments

Equestria Trek: First Contact - MetBoy



A Starfleet ship discovers that the Orion Syndicate is enslaving ponies & her commander decides to do a good deed and return Rainbow Dash home. Things don’t go smoothly for the USS Judges, but what they find is one of their biggest discover

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An Arrival and An Ambush

An Arrival and An Ambush: In which things are not as expected, and do not go as planned.

Onboard a KDF Bird-of-Prey, the captain, a female Orion, is spinning around in the chair at the middle of the bridge, leaning back all the way.

“Ugh. This is so boring.”

“Yes Captain.”

“No one visits this stupid little system.”

“Yes Captain.”

“Mother thinks there’s something worthwhile here.”

“Yes Captain.”

“And right now she’s the only one willing to put up with me.”

“Yes Captain.”

“It was only one lousy cargo ship I blew up.”

“Yes Captain.”

“How was I supposed to know it was carrying the General’s shipment of Romulan Ale?”

“Captain, a ship just dropped out of warp.”

The captain righted herself in the command chair, looking at a screen in one of the arms. “Starfleet. No one else would enter a system and go to active scanning that quickly. Scientists.” The single word held the scorn of the Klingons for the unwarlike Federation. “Go to full cloak, sneak up on them.”

“Yes Captain.”

---=={***}==---

“Today we joined a Valda Group ship in looting a planet full of pre-warps. The freaky place was a cloud city; they claimed they can get the slaves to manage weather for them. For my part, that’d be too much effort, we took the most distinctive looking slave. No need to train it, we can just sell it to a zoo for exotic life, and that rainbow hair will fetch a good price. In any case, my brother sent me a tip about a Federation convoy without an escort. He figures both of our ships should be able to take them all.”

Delilah looked up from the transcript of the log pulled from the Orion frigate. “’Valda Group,’” she mused. “That’s a new one on me.”

She was thumbing through the decrypted files on a data-pad separated from the ship’s network, passing the time as the turbolift took her to the bridge. She used her implant to made a mental note to look up ‘Valda Group’ later.

“Lieutenant?” the one word question was addressed to Bindalla, who was sharing the turbolift. She shrugged.

“Captain on the bridge,” Raat said as the doors slid aside. While she found her first officer’s adherence to petty protocol annoying, she found his situational awareness while on watch to be very comforting.

“Mister Raat, I take command,” she formally said as she approached the command chair.

“Commander O’Niel, you take command,” he replied with equal formality as the watch shift changed.

“Maya, stay a moment,”

The ensign so named stopped, letting Saitt and the other crew going off shift take the first turbolift. “Yes captain?”

“Anything interesting come up in your interview with Rainbow Dash?”

“Well, I did get a hit on her name in the historical files, a fragment from a fictional series from before the Third World War,” Ensign Oasis said. “The ship’s database didn’t have much, and records of those times are fragmentary, but the computer did come up with the line ‘Rainbow Dash always dresses in style.’”

Delilah thought a moment about that line, trying to put it on her mental image of the athletic pegasus. “And did you ask her about it?”

“I did.” Maya paused, a smile hiding behind her formal expression.

Delilah was less restrained in her grin, as she rose to the bait. “And her reply?”

“She laughed, and told me about her unicorn friend, Rarity, who is the fashionista among her friends.”

“Unicorn?”

“Another equine-based creature from Earth’s mythology. I pulled out a list of creatures to show her, and found hits across Earth’s myths and legends.”

“Huh,” Delilah pondered that. “More questions than answers. Thank you Ensign, that’s all for now.”

Maya nodded, and left the bridge.

Delilah punched in a command on her chair’s arm, bringing up a schematic of the system they were entering, the first possible candidate for Equestria that they had come to, with two other ‘probable’ systems on the list. The Commander input another command. “Bridge to Security; Tarah, send up Rainbow Dash.”

“Aye aye, Captain.”

“Captain, I want to say, again, that the requirements of the Prime Directive mandate minimal exposure-”

Delilah closed her eye with a sigh as Raat proved that he hadn’t left the bridge yet. He was still standing at attention beside her. “Vulzy, sit,” Delilah commanded, gesturing to one of the nearby seats. “You’ve brought up your concerns before, and I’ve explained my reasoning. Do you have anything new to add?”

The bajoran sat, silent for a long moment. “Captain... Delilah,” he stared, fumbling for words. The use of her given name told Delilah that he was dropping his usual formal barriers, trying to convey how he really felt.

“If Starfleet judges that you’ve violated the Prime Directive unacceptably... this could kill your command career. I... I don’t want to see that happen.”

.o(It might not be that bad a thing...) Delilah put her calculating thought away, not letting it show on her face as she took off her optic, her one eye meeting Raat’s.

“Vulzy, the Prime Directive doesn’t exist so Starfleet can get rid of officers they don’t like. It exists so that we don’t harm, or exploit, cultures that don’t have the means to protect themselves. So that they can make their own decisions on how they develop. With what the Orions have already done, it’s too late to keep knowledge of advanced civilizations secret. They’ve provided energy weapons to native collaborators. Our best hope is to go in, disarm those natives, and leave again. But even then we can’t keep our presence completely secret. In fact, we may need the active assistance of the locals to find those weapons. We’re not going to get that assistance if we aren’t open with the first of their people that we meet.”

Delilah sighed. “There is no perfect option. We can’t hide everything about ourselves while being sure those potentially destabilizing weapons aren’t removed. The letter of the law must submit to the spirit of the law. If Starfleet Command decides to court marshal me for my decisions, I’ll pay the price my oath requires.”

Vulzy was silent for a long moment. “I... I don’t want to lose you, Captain.”

Delilah put a hand on her first officer’s shoulder, a crooked smile on her face. “Oh, don’t look so glum. It’s not like I’m talking about giving an oppressive government matching technological capability to ‘even the balance of power’ or anything crazy like that. Just explaining that we want to take away the crooks’ toys, and asking for help finding the scoundrels.”

Lieutenant Commander Raat nodded, relaxing enough to lean back in his chair. “It may take a while to reconcile those conflicting interests,” he admitted, “But I guess you’re right.”

The turbolift doors opened again, letting in a chromatic pegasus and her escort.

“Ah, good, you’re just in time,” Delilah said, putting her optic back over her left eye.

“Time for what?” Rainbow Dash asked, glancing at the view screen, which showed only a blue-green marble, slowly growing in size.

“We’re coming up on a place that could be Equestria,” Delilah explained, activating a command. “Just one sun in the system, orbited by an M-Class planet with a relatively large moon.” She called up an overlay that showed the orbits of the other planets around the star, and the U.S.S. Judges approaching one highlighted in green. “If you had known more about astronomy we could be more sure, one way or the other, so I don’t want to get your hopes up.”

“Orbit?”

“Yes. The planets orbit the star, which stays relatively still,” Delilah clarified, ignoring the emotions Raat was trying to repress. His mind had agreed, but he needed some time to get his feelings in line. He was keeping those feelings off his face, at least.

“Wait, the sun stays still, and Equestria moves? I thought Celestia raised the sun each morning.”

“The sun seeming to rise and set is caused by the rotation of the planet, and honestly, stopping that rotation is nearly impossible. The sun comes up anyway.”

Rainbow Dash was silent for a long moment. “But after Nightmare Moon was defeated, we had to reset the time on all the clocks,” she said.

Delilah looked at that with an expression of surprise. “Huh. Don’t know how to explain that yet.”

“Entering planetary orbit,” Der Trihs reported from the helm. The blue-green marble had grown to a globe, touched with clouds.

“Strange,” Bindalla said. “Detecting sub-space distortions. Most too small to isolate, one large.”

“Put the largest on the main screen, Lieutenant.”

The screen switched to showing green clusters, with red dots, arranged in ordered rows, with rectangles of brown lines, and blocks that could only be building roofs. A sidebar showed information about the anomaly.

“Hey! That’s Sweet Apple Acres!” Rainbow Dash interjected.

Bindalla refined the focus of the display, zooming in on one of the older barns.

“Someplace you know?” Delilah asked, her gaze turning back to the screen.

“Well yeah, it’s just outside Ponyville. I’ve flown over it enough to be sure.”

“Think they might use it as a convenient place for a high power test?” Delilah asked, looking with interest at the informational sidebar that made no sense to Dash.

“Huh? Well, it’s not in the middle of town-”

“Woah!” Delilah’s interjection made even less sense to the pony, nothing had seemed to happen to the barn.

“Did something happen?”

“The warp field collapsed.”

A purple dot emerged from the barn. Five more spilled out, of varying colors. White, purple, yellow, orange, white. Plumes of smoke began to leak out.

Delilah turned her face from the display, pulled by Rainbow Dash’s silence, and the emotions in the pegasus’s soul. The happiness at being able to even see home again, to see her friends again, was mixed with worry about what she was seeing but not understanding.

“At a guess, it looks like the materials didn’t hold up under the power load. Shouldn’t be anything to worry ab-”

The reassurance was interrupted by the bridge shaking, overhead lights dimming as red lights began to flash.

“We’re under attack! Torpedoes coming in from astern!” The crewman at tactical shouted. “Attempting to raise shields!”

The view on the screen went fuzzy under the interference of the protective shields, then static, then reverted to a star field as Bindalla freed the system resources for more pressing concerns.

“Helmsman! Evasive action!” Delilah’s command was crisp and quick, as she gripped the arms of her chair with her hands. “Sensors, give me a target to shoot at!”

The bridge rocked again under another impact. A console exploded as the circuit breakers were overloaded by the energy release caused when the still-charging aft phasor bank was hit.

---=={***}==---

Engineering was in a state of controlled chaos, Syoosi using reflexes intended to let him tear people apart to keep his ship from falling to pieces. Multitasking like a champ, he shouted orders to his team, while monitoring the ship damage reports, sending people to where they could make the most difference. “Re-route the energy from aft phasors to shields! That’ll bleed the power surge out of the control systems. Cut the port conduits if you have to, just get it shifted!” His fingers flew over his console, the warp core humming beside him.

The deck shook, as the ship was hit again.

A warning popped up on the screen, and in a fraction of a second Syoosi punched in the command that might save the crew... then he told the bridge what was going on, stabbing another command to access the communications channel.

“Engineering to bridge.”

The hum of the warp core stopped.

“Critical failure in anti-mater storage, I’ve started the jettison sequence, but I expect the capsules to fail within seconds. We’re on battery power.”

“Understood,” came Delilah’s voice in response. “Reshape shields to deflect the blast from the surface.”

“Captain, doing that-”

“I know, just do it.”

Syoosi smiled as he inputted the commands.

“Not as long as I might have liked, but at least I’ll spend my life in a good cause,” the gentle giant of the crew mused. A final command, reversing the polarity of the tractor beam, gave the capsules jettisoned from the rear of the ship an extra nudge.

“At least I’m going out with a bang.”

Perhaps cliché, but he thought they’d make for good last words.

---=={***}==---

The Klingon Bird-of-Prey had crept up on the Federation light escort from behind, hiding under cloak until it was close enough to strike deciseively. Already the assault of photon torpedoes and phaser beams had severed one warp nacelle, and shorted out the weapons systems before the shields could be raised. As neutrino scanners revealed that the warp core had shut down, the Bird-of-Prey started pulling away, knowing what would come next. But instead of the warp core breach they had expected, the cluster of antimatter-fuel canisters detonated, the blast coming sooner than they had thought would happen.

The last act of the U.S.S. Judges was to reshape her shield to be closer to the hull, under the explosion. This diverted the blast away from Equestria, keeping it from ruining the biosphere, but required weakening the shields to the point where there was no hope the crew would survive the shockwave.

And yet... they lived.

But they were far too busy to ponder their good fortune, as the remains of their ship were headed downward towards the planet’s surface.

---=={***}==---

It took Delilah only a few seconds to realize that she had survived the blast. A quick look at the display showed the expanding curve of the planet turning, as the ship began to tumble.

A sigh. The U.S.S. Judges had been the first ship she had been assigned to, rather than simply winding up as the senior surviving officer. Her memories of serving as chief engineer on the U.S.S. Quebec were fond, if bittersweet, counting the friends killed by the Borg. Her memories of commanding her were tainted by her resentment at the destruction of her career plan. But with Judges she had begun to adjust to her new role, and found herself finding satisfaction in managing a full shipload.

Delilah shook her head, banishing the thoughts. She could mourn the dead and dying later. Right now she had a duty to the living.

“Bridge to all hands,” the four spoken words activated the starship’s intercom to repeat her words to all compartments on the ship.

“All hands, abandon ship. Repeat, abandon ship. If you can’t get to a life-pod, get to one of the secure compartments, and brace for crash landing. Repeat, abandon ship, or brace for crash landing. Message ends.”

The last two words killed the announcement state.

“Bridge to Transporter.”

“Oasis here, kind of busy-“

“Direct order time. On my mark, lock onto my com-badge signal and beam to the planet surface. Try for near a settlement near our projected crash site.”

“Understood.”

Delilah turned to Rainbow Dash. “You’re our best hope for getting us help from your people in time to make a difference,” she said, her voice level, as she moved her badge from her uniform to place it on Dash’s hide, nifty future materials letting it adhere to hairs without discomfort.

“Please, help them.”

Rainbow Dash nodded solemnly. She didn’t understand this emergency, but she knew she wouldn’t leave her new friends hanging.

Delilah closed her one open eye. “Transporter. Engage.”

Rainbow Dash vanished in a swirl of sparkles, followed one-by-one by Raat, Bindalla, and the rest of the bridge crew, as Maya used their com-badges to lock onto them, and beam them to the planet surface.

---=={***}==---

Maya was managing the transporter systems, applying her energy to a problem that, frustratingly, wasn’t going to be made better if she had more time to think. Her problem was that she was running out of energy available to transport crew members to the surface in point-to-point transports faster than she was running out of crew to transport, or places to beam them down to. She sighed as the console refused to let her try and beam another from elsewhere in the ship to the surface. But there was just enough energy to beam someone on the transporter pad to the surface.

Maya input her last command, and rushed up to the pad.

---=={***}==---

Delilah was left alone on the bridge. She took off the optic on her left eye, revealing the data plug on her temple. With a wry smirk she looked out the main display, twirling the optic around one finger as the image of the approaching surface began to fade behind the red glow of uncontrolled entry.

“So much for a career in politics,” she mused.

As the hull heated up, already stressed systems failed, leading to smaller explosions. The shockwave from one hammered through the bridge, driving Commander O’Niel unconscious as the captain went down with her ship.

---=={***}==---

“Status report.”

“Captain, we’re at 90%, forward shields down but field generators undamaged. Primary fore sensors burned out, bringing secondary sensors online.”

“The target?”

“Broken, powerless. I doubt any could have survived that blast, but even if they did, they’re going to crash soon.”

The Captain of the Bird-of-Prey was silent, then nodded. “Set a course out of the system, we’re heading back to Qu’noS.”

“Captain?”

“This will prove that we’re more valuable at the front, where we can get some glorious combat, and will wash away the lingering disfavor.”

The first officer pondered how his captain seemed so... uneven. Almost inconsistent. She was one of the finest combat commanders in the KDF, capable of cold tactical and strategic planning that amazed, yet going into a battlelust that operated on instinct. And yet, disinterested in any of the other facets of starship command, ignoring anything she thought of as boring. If she didn’t have her loyal officers organizing things behind her back, the ship would never be capable of going into battle.

She would lead them to glorious battle, and that was what any Klingon crew asked of their captain. He was loyal to her, but he was brave enough to bring things up he suspected she might rather avoid.

“And your mother’s operation?”

“Send her a message that we’re leaving; if she thinks this dirtball is worth guarding, she can guard it with one of her ships.”

“Yes Captain.”

---=={***}==---

Rainbow Dash was glad to be flying the skies of Equestria again. She was finding that Delilah had been right; by relaxing during the trip she was refreshed and ready to do what she needed to in order to help her friends... Even if it was her new friends that needed her help, rather than her new friends helping her older friends.

While it wasn’t yet time to pull off a sonic rainboom, Dash was flying very well, a mach cone around her as she sped up the path to Ponyville; if there was anypony that could organize enough ponies in time to rescue the crew of the U.S.S. Judges, it would be Twilight Sparkle. She came up from behind the purple unicorn, Dash lowering her hooves to the ground. She skidded to a stop, making four furrows in the dirt path, turning to face Twilight, who had been watching the descending fireball.

“Twilight!”

“Huh? RAINBOW DASH!? What is going-”

“I’ll explain later, we need to help the people on that ship, now,” Dash shouted, pointing one hoof at the fireball.

Twilight Sparkle blinked, then nodded. “Right. Emergency response plan Six stroke bee.”


---=={***}==---

Author's Note: I am fully aware that this chapter will raise more questions than it answers.

This is the first chapter nearly all written after posting the prior chapter. Which means if I can keep up this pace, I'll be posting a chapter every week and a half to two weeks.