• Published 6th Apr 2012
  • 7,127 Views, 260 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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A Discussion and Before Breakfast

A Discussion and Before Breakfast: In which priorities are discussed, and the impossible is dealt with.

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

Lieutenant Siatt Onehli had a very flexible mind, a trait that had served him well as Tactical Officer of U.S.S. Judges, and during his time at Starfleet Academy that flexibility had allowed him to keep up with Delilah, keeping her interest long enough to be considered her lover. But that was the past, and while the Bolian hoped that someday they could pick things up again, he also needed that flexibility in the present.

A few hours ago, he had been expecting to protect a helpless pre-warp culture from being exploited by scoundrels. Now he was depending on those natives to protect and hide the crew that had survived from a foe much more capable than they had expected.

“I don’t know why they didn’t finish us off,” he explained to the alabaster unicorn trotting beside him, “It’s out of character for Klingons to give quarter to foes like that. Their ‘mercy’ is to kill defeated enemies.”

“Goodness! Isn’t destroying your ship enough for them?” Rarity asked, astonished, “What kind of monsters are they?”

“They’re not really monsters, they just look at life much differently,” Onehli replied, “But for right now, I don’t know how long this reprieve will last. We should have enough prefab shelters pulled from the ship to build a complete camp, but I’d like to manage some level of concealment, to get our people and things under some sort of cover before any hostile eye looks our way. I’d also like, and I mean no offense, a place where we can keep an eye on comings and goings from our camp. Do you have any suggestions?”

Rarity hummed to herself, eyes narrowing as she trotted along with the alien down the quickly-built road to Ponyville. The specified requirements were mentally assembled, and compared to the resources she knew the town had available. “Oh, IDEA!” she exclaimed in her musical voice.

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

This planet was full of surprises, Siatt reflected, as he looked out over the Ponyville Fairground. Even as the night closed in, the ponies had been able to put up their tents and pavilions, using quickly erected gas lamps, supplemented by a few flood-lights from the emergency supplies, and lanterns hung from the branches of nearby trees, that held glowing gems, the light coming from what Rarity had explained as ‘simple unicorn magic.’

Magic. Siatt was unsure what to make of it. On the one hand, science had birthed the technology that in turn enabled warp drive, and in turn the United Federation of Planets. That science had been born, in part, by rejecting explanations that relied on magic. On the other hand, there was the evidence of his eyes, the approach enshrined by that same science. He had seen unicorns straining, their horns aglow, as they telekinetically lifted heavy objects.

Then there was Starfleet’s tradition of exploration. “To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before” had been their guiding motto for centuries now, and as they boldly went they kept running into more and more things that they simply couldn't explain, only faithfully document and describe, in hopes that future generations, maybe, just might be able to make sense of it. A pre-warp culture with such powers seemed almost tame.

Lieutenant Onehli chuckled to himself. Those sorts of thoughts were too heavy for him. Let the Science types beat their heads against the riddles, and let the Engineering types try and find uses for the secrets beaten loose. HE was Tactical. It was his job to use those tools to fulfill the OTHER Starfleet mandate, and protect the citizens of the Federation. He would fight the wars, so others could secure the peace and freedom the Federation stood for.

That meant he had to live and act in the present. And in this present he had a camp that could hold the forty-nine survivors of the crash, and was establishing contact with the nineteen that had escaped before the crash. The biggest group of those that had escaped by teleporter or life-pod had found their way to the location of Lieutenant Commander Vulzy Raat, who was with the pony search party in the mountains. The rest were making their way on foot to Ponyville, Starfleet’s physical fitness regimens paying dividends. Of the original crew of eighty-five, sixteen were confirmed dead in the attack or the crash, one way or another, leaving one missing.

The lone person unaccounted for was the captain, Commander Delilah O’Niel.

Siatt turned as he heard a familiar voice arguing with the apparent leader of the ponies.

“But it’d be so easy for you to share what you know! If you could just look at my notes on the Lost Formulas-”

“That’s exactly the problem, it would be too easy!”

The Bolian laughed as Syoosi and Twilight Sparkle approached. “I take it you’re the last from the crash site?” he asked, and at the engineer’s nod he continued. “Then come on in, and we can talk about the Prime Directive.”

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

Pinkie Pie was away in the mountains, far from Ponyville, but it made little difference. The ponies INSISTED on having some kind of celebration that night, with a fervor that reminded the Bolian of his home-world. It had taken all his convivial skill to convince them that the Starfleet personnel couldn’t take part that night, without offending them or explaining all his real reasons involved. In the end he used the argument that it wouldn’t be fair to those too injured to attend, or those treating the injured. Even then, they’d extracted a promise that they would attend a party later on.

So while the rest of the town threw a (relatively) small party to celebrate Rainbow Dash’s return, Siatt, Syoosi, and Twilight Sparkle discussed Starfleet General Order #1.

Lieutenant Onehli held the position of second officer; in the absence of the captain and the first officer, he was in command. He also had much better people skills than Syoosi, so by mutual agreement was handling most of the explaining. “We are- were- the officers of the starship U.S.S. Judges, which is part of Starfleet, which is the primary military of the United Federation of Planets,” Siatt told Twilight Sparkle, skipping over a lot of details in the interest of brevity and clarity, “and one of our fundamental principles is that we shouldn’t interfere with the freedom of other cultures.”

The three were the only occupants of the small pavilion. The fabric walls, held up by the thick wood pole, and pony provided pillows on which they sat, contrasted with the crates marked with the Starfleet logo, all dimly lit by a few lanterns, hug from the support against the deepening night, aided by the faint glow of active consoles. The basic theme was repeated in the most of the other tents. The town had supplied enough various temporary enclosures to store all of the salvaged materiel; a prefab building had been constructed under the big top’s canopy to serve as the camp’s hospital.

“So what does that have to do with helping me study the Lost Formulas?” Twilight interjected.

“Well, one of those freedoms is the freedom of a culture to develop and grow on their own,” Saitt replied. “If we gave you the technology, or if helped you discover something before you’re ready to handle it, we have no idea what could happen, but given the history...” He trailed off, looking down.

“History?” Twilight asked.

“He means the Prime Directive was established after a number of cases where weaker cultures were destroyed,” Syoosi supplied, not looking up from the small terminal he was using to interrogate the computer core backup he had taken from Judges, “Often times almost by accident, or for reasons of crass greed. Traditions, art, even whole peoples, gone into oblivion, before anyone understood the value of what was being lost.” His deep voice was level, almost mater-of-fact, belying the horrors his words implied.

“But the griffins... and the aliens that gave them weapons...”

Saitt shook off the melancholy, saying, “That’s a bit more clear cut for us, as those aliens are criminals, and the Prime Directive does let us take actions to correct other violations. Our normal policy when dealing with,” he paused a moment, choosing his words carefully, “cultures around your level of technology is to completely avoid giving any evidence of our presence, even when we set up observation stations. Obviously it’s too late for that level of concealment.”

His long relationship with Delilah gave Saitt better insight into what she might want them to do in her absence; while she had often proven unpredictable in her chosen means, her ends were much more consistent. “What the Commander was planning to do was to locate the base of the griffins working with the Orions, with your people’s help,” he nodded to the purple unicorn, “if need be, but that would be the whole of your involvement. Starfleet personnel would take responsibility for going in to take the advanced technology away from the griffins, and remind the Orion Syndicate how much Starfleet disapproves of this kind of meddling. After that, we’d leave, and let all the cultures here go back to developing on your own.”

“And what would thou say, if thy assistance would be requested, in giving Us the means to protect Our subjects?”

The female voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. Syoosi’s fingers froze on the console touch screen. Siatt’s eyes flickered around the tent, looking everywhere; was there a deepening in the gloom? Twilight Sparkle took in a quick breath and held it, her face paling.

Siatt licked his lips before replying to the mysterious voice, “In that case I’d want to know who was doing the asking, and what fraction of the planet she spoke for, but the answer would probably be ‘no.’”

Twilight gasped again at the alien’s response. Nopony would just refuse one of the princesses-

“Interesting... A brave answer, or a foolish one. Few would refuse a goddess; fewer still would survive the refusal.”

“You might be surprised,” Siatt replied, “Starfleet officers aren’t known for fearing the unknown, or meekly obeying those that call themselves gods, and particularly not when the speaker has yet to reveal themselves.” A little throat clearing accented the final words; not enough to be rude, but a reminder.

A mist had infiltrated the tent, heightening the gloom. Now that mist gathered, star-like sparkles glowing in its depths. Even in the dim light the figure that emerged was regal, midnight blue, her mane was the glories of space, taken into the humble structure. Her understated jewelry seemed unimportant compared to her bearing and presence. The combination of horn and wings simply marked this as being something special. Her posture was stiff and formal; not hostile, but demanding respect.

Siatt stood up, and gave a half-bow; not of submission, but of respect to a legitimate ruler. “Then I believe it is my pleasure to meet you, Princess Luna,” he said, as he straightened back up, “I am Lieutenant Siatt Onehli, and my companion is Lieutenant Syoosi. I believe we have things to discuss about how we can help you, and your people.”

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

Lieutenant Commander Vulzy Raat had a very disciplined mind, a trait that had served him well as Medical Officer of U.S.S. Judges, and as XO to Commander O’Niel he had been able to keep up with her wild energy, making sure that the ship and the crew were ready for action. He organized things into neat categories, cleanly separating different circumstances so that different responses could be effectively brought to bear, an approach that he was finding to be less useful in the present.

The day before, he had been expecting to face the challenge of navigating between assisting a pre-warp culture and the mandates of the Prime Directive. This morning he was depending on what might be a transitional culture to feed the fifteen officers and crew that had joined the ponies’ camp. The attack had caught them by surprise, and only a few of those who beamed down had the chance and presence of mind to grab more than a few pieces of personal equipment not already on their persons; Lieutenant Bindalla was rumored to sleep with her special tricorder. The two life-pods that had landed near the camp had yielded more in the way of provisions and medical supplies, but it wasn’t much among so many. Ensign Oasis had managed to grab the caches of phaser rifles and equipment kits stored in the Transporer Room’s small weapons safe before she stepped onto the pad.

One of those ‘panic boxes’ yielded the medical tricorder that the Lieutenant Commander was using to scan the food the ponies had provided for breakfast. He had insisted on checking each and every item their hosts were offering to share before any member of Starfleet could so much as taste it. As the senior officer on the scene, he had the authority to make it stick, even if it meant the toast would be eaten cold.

Many of the crew thought he was wasting his time; the legacy of the ancient race known to the Deferi as the Preservers had created a galaxy filled with life, and where the food of alien worlds was many times more likely to be healthy and nutritious than to be dangerous. The degree of compatibility had baffled scientists who tried to explain how there could be children born of parents of different worlds. That those children experienced so few health issues was testament to the bioengineering ability of a race, so determined that even if all their people should die out, the universe should NOT be a lonely place.

But the Bajoran biochemistry expert knew better. People could develop lethal allergies to things even from their native world, and odd combinations of normally harmless chemicals could produce unexpected reactions. But even his painstaking approach would have an end. His eyes had been focused on his tricorder as he scanned each item in turn, the device’s sophisticated internal computer examining the chemical composition of each foodstuff, and projecting possible interactions. The last item was a fruit derivative, remarkably similar to Earth’s apples, with the addition of only simple sugar in the preservation process. In short, jam.

“To the best of my knowledge, it should all be safe to eat,” he announced, looking at the final report on his tricorder.

So Raat was surprised to look up from the device to see that the last item on the spread picnic blanket was a jar that contained a rainbow spectrum of colors.

His eyes flicked down to the tricorder, then back up as he found no answer there. Natural compounds could explain the colors, but not their separation or organization. “Ah... just what is that?” he asked.

Applejack had been helping him, moving through samples of the food the Search Party had brought. “This? Zap Apple Jam,” she answered, pulling herself up proudly, “One of Sweet Apple Acres’ special products! Finding zap apples is what lead to Ponyville’s founding. They don’t grow every season, but we were lucky this year.”

“And,” Vulzy was choosing his words with care, as might a miner chose his tools, materials, and even movements with care, on the sudden discovery of a crack across a major support, “How do you make it like that, with the-” suddenly, a glimpse of hope! “-colors separated into bands?”

“The apples just grow like that,” the farmer replied, looking at the Bajoran a little oddly, not understanding why he seemed confused. “All we do is cut ‘em up, boil ‘em up with some cane sugar, mix, and pour it into jars for keepin’.” Vulzy’s hope vanished, as the wood of the tunnel support proved to be not just cracked, but badly rotten. “Woodja like some, sugarcube?”

“I would,” Bindalla answered, entering the area of focus, a slice of toasted bread and butter knife heald in one hand. The female Packled sat cross-legged on the grass, and it took her no more than ten seconds to figure out the jar lid and open it with her free hand. After placing the lid on the picnic blanket she transferred the butter knife from one hand to the other. That hand dipped the knife into the jar, lifting out a serving of the already unbelievably improbable zap apple jam. Bindalla spread the jam onto the slice of toast, producing a glaze with colors neatly sorted into the colors of visible light.

Raat blinked, watching as his crewmate did what should have been impossible. There was no reaction on her face, until she took a bite of the toast, when a smile appeared on her face. This was normal for Bindalla, who took in the wonders of the universe without outward reaction. She sometimes appeared oblivious, but was impartially observing. The only things that made her smile or frown were things she wasn’t studying, such as enjoying; food.

“That... couldn’t have just happened,” the Bajorian said.

“Computer, end program.”

“Sorry Raaty-Taaty-Waaty, but it’s not that easy,” piped up Pinkie Pie, from across the group, where she was talking with Maya and two of the crew about recent parties and celebrations in Ponyville.

“Computer, Arch!” Raat was becoming frantic... and Bindalla was expressing rare emotion. Disappointment with the behavior of her superior.

“Raat, not holodeck. Not joke.”

“But it’s jam that takes it on itself to reverse entropy! That’s flat out impossible, there must be some trickery-”

The Lieutenant cut off the officer in charge of the group. “Be science Raat. BE science. Science does not know. Science is not knowing. Science is looking. Science is eyes and ears. Look.”

“But it flies in the face of everything I’ve been taught, everything-“

“No. Science is not what is told you, science is what you see.” Bindalla’s voice was like iron, as she exposited the philosophy that made true scientists, “Science is not knowing, science is good guessing. When guesses wrong, science must look better. Look around Raat. Your guesses wrong. Look better. Be science.”

Raat sat down heavily, trying to absorb both what he was seeing and the lesson that Bindalla had just given him, looking into open air, occasionally muttering the one word question: “How?”

Into the sudden silence, as Applejack watched, still largely confused, Ponyville’s premier party pony approached. Pinkie Pie had been talking with Ensign Oasis. They had started discussing the various foods, and how ponies cooked them, and had transitioned into a long talk about the events Ponyville had celebrated recently, but after Raat’s outburst she decided that this was more interesting.

“Ooo, did I miss a too-ordered mind breaking?” she asked Applejack

The farmer nodded. “Yep, he started ranting, but he seems to have simmered down some.”

“So you were telling him about all the impossible stuff I do? That sort of stuff always makes Twilight’s break squeak.”

“Nope, he was just looking at the jam,” the cowpony indicated the jar in question with a pointed hoof.

“Wait,” now it was Pinkie Pie’s turn to sound shocked with disbelief. “We’ve got a stereotypical ‘science explains everything zealot’ here,” she gestured dramatically, forehooves forming a bracket to indicate the Bajorian sitting on the grass beside her, “And the thing about Equestria that he can’t accept is zap apple jam?” As she spoke, the tone of the Champion of Laughter turned from being shocked to being offended.

Bindalla and Applejack nodded.

“And not how I can build a working flying machine that is little more than a framework?”

“Anti-gravity and structural integrity fields. Known tech,” Bindalla supplied.

“Not how I can turn up in the most unlikely places?”

“Teleporters. Known tech.”

“Not even my Pinkie Sense? How I get twitchy feelings that predict the future with uncanny accuracy, breaking causality!?”

Raat looked away from his inner confusion to the encounter between his shipmate and the alien native.

“Time is not a simple linear progression of events,” Bindalla stated, “Bajorians know best; the Prophets reveal that it is more of a wibbly-wobbly, time-wimey-ball, from their non-subjective viewpoint.”

Pinkie Pie was growing frantic as her most outrageous behavior was accepted without question. She leapt up onto Bindalla, hooves grabbing the Packled’s uniform as she ranted incoherently, the science officer showing no emotional reaction at the invasion of her personal space. “BUT I’M- WHAT I DO- I BREAK THE FO-“

The rant was cut off by an unfamiliar sound, one none had heard in many, many years.

Vulzy Raat was laughing.

The crew of U.S.S. Judges watched, not quite believing, as the infamously inflexible and humorless officer laughed and laughed. He laughed away his stress, his worries, his confusion, and his need to understand before proceeding.

“How,” he said, pausing to lick his lips, as he sought the thing that really mattered now.

“How,” he repeated the first word, “Does this ‘zap apple jam’ taste?”

“Good,” Bindalla stated, extending the rest of her slice of toast to her superior officer. “Try, and make your observation?” she offered, while Pinkie Pie hung onto her uniform.

Pinkie Pie hopped down from her perch, and trotted away with a smile on her face. “He looked like he needed a good laugh,” she said as she approached Maya, and the crewmembers that had been talking with the pony about native customs. “Now, we were talking about the Running of the Leaves, right?”