• Published 6th May 2012
  • 2,086 Views, 186 Comments

Space Captain Pinkie Pie - terrycloth



Rainbow Dash reveals the little-known fact that pegasi can survive in outer space.

  • ...
15
 186
 2,086

13: Easiest Mission Ever

“Be careful,” Tess said as Chance drove the electric cart into the airlock lift. She was feeling calmer, at least. Maybe it was Chance’s advice to pretend that her unicorn transformation was like controlling an avatar in a virtual reality program, maybe it was Pinkie Pie spending fifteen minutes comforting her. Maybe it was just having a plan to get themselves out of at least this latest disaster.

Chance was certainly being more careful than last time, wearing his jumpsuit, thick gloves and boots, and the helmet from what was left of his space suit. The patch where the poison joke cure was scattered was itself contaminated with poison joke, and he’d have to pick out the evil blue leaves, since it was unlikely the centrifuge would separate them. “As long as Pinkie Pie is right about it needing direct leaf-to-fur contact, I should be fine,” he said. “And I’ve got some tongs so I won’t even have to risk touching it with my gloves unless I screw up.”

“Yeah, well, you’re our single point of failure,” Tess said, a feeling of impending doom looming over her. “If something happens to you we won’t even be able to come help you without somehow fixing up a working space suit, and guess which of us is the only one left with the implants to run the skill software and the hands to work the machinery?”

“Tess?” Chance said, staring at her strangely. “Your horn’s glowing.”

“Again?” Tess said. She couldn’t quite focus her eyes on her own forehead, but she could feel something tingling there. “It was doing this before, but nothing happened. Nothing I could see anyway.” She reached up and rapped her hoof against it until the tingling stopped. “There. Stupid thing’s probably on the fritz.”

“Don’t worry,” Chance said, forcing his face back into a neutral expression. “I’ll hurry back as fast as I can. Even if you’re really as okay with this as you’re pretending to be, Twilight’s probably stuck in a sensory deprivation state and that’s not something you want to play around with.” He looked at her frown, and smiled. “Relax, this is a really easy mission – drive a few hundred feet, pick out the blue leaves from the target area, then scoop the rest of the dust and debris into the back of the cart. What could go wrong? We’ve been stuck here for more than a year and this terrain doesn’t even have any real hazards. It’s not like I’m going to the edge of the moon to check on the probes or something.”

“Right,” Tess said, feeling a sudden chill. “The probes.”

Chance hit the button to cycle the airlock, and the door slid closed, followed quickly by the hiss of the pumps and the rumble of the lift as it carried him to the hatch on top of the ship.

“The probes that should have seen those pegasi flying away if they really left the moon,” Tess said, turning away and walking back towards the crew area. “But we didn’t check, did we? Because Rainbow Dash said they were supposed to meet up back on the ground if they were separated.” She broke into a trot without thinking about it, and rammed her hoof into the ‘open’ button of an internal pressure door. “And of course ‘separated by accident’ is exactly the same as ‘kidnapped by moon ponies’, so I probably shouldn’t even bother scrolling through hours and hours of recordings using voice commands and hooves because I don’t have a direct neural interface!”

“Do you want some help?” asked Pinkie Pie, who’d heard the last part of that as Tess galloped past.

“Yes!” Tess shouted.

===

“So, is this the bridge?” Pinkie Pie asked, as the two of them sat on the table in the conference room. Or at least, Tess sat on the table -- Pinkie Pie was perched atop Twilight Statue, ‘just in case’. Tess hadn’t wanted to ask.

“What?” Tess asked, trying to concentrate on scanning the feeds for anything that looked like a pegasus. The big screen was split four ways to show the raw footage from the four probes Tess and Chance had set up on the edge of the moon to monitor Equestria, once it was obvious that they were likely to be stuck for a long time.

“You know, the bridge? The place where you control the ship? I’d expect there to be more controls but maybe one giant magic window is enough for a moon pony ship,” Pinkie Pie asked. “And better chairs. No offense Twilight! Your chairs are awful, although not as awful for moon ponies in moon pony shape as for normal ponies I guess. Although I know a pony who likes to sit in them like I saw Chance sitting in his but doesn’t that do terrible things to your back?”

“This is the conference room,” Tess said, ignoring the babble at the end. “There’s a bridge, somewhere, but I usually fly the ship from my bunk.”

“You fly the ship?” Pinkie Pie asked, hopping to her feet. “That’s so cool! Woooosh! Swoop! Oh no, asteroids, dodge!” Tess paused the feed as Pinkie Pie ran around the table, waving her limbs madly as she acted out the maneuvers she was describing. “Ah! Space pirates! Pew pew pew!”

“That’s… completely wrong,” Tess said.

“Aww,” Pinkie Pie said. “But you still need a love for speed and really fast reaction times, right?”

“Those don’t hurt, but any moon pony has that much,” Tess said, shaking her head. “If you need to react, you’re doing it wrong. Things move too fast, and space ships don’t turn on a bit. You need to plan ahead, and make intelligent guesses for the factors you can’t pin down. It’s not about reaction speed, it’s about predicting the future.”

Pinkie Pie gasped, and grinned, and gave Tess a tight and extremely unanticipated hug. “I bet that’s your special talent! Have you cast any fortune telling spells yet?”

“I hope not,” Tess said, disentangling herself from the pink pony. “Because if this,” she waved at the screens, to try to get Pinkie Pie’s attention back on them, “is just ordinary paranoia, then maybe we’ll find those pegasi winging it for home after all, and I’m wrong about the impending doom.”

“You’re probably wrong,” Pinkie Pie said. “I see them – see? Right there.”

Tess turned back to the frozen screens, and saw the glowing spot that Pinkie was pointing at, looking awfully like a faint star, among all the other faint stars and minor planet-based light sources that looked awfully like faint stars from a distance. Leaning very close, she could see that it was faintly pony shaped. “How did you –“

“It’s also in that picture but in a different place,” Pinkie Pie said, pointing to another glowing spot on the far side of the screen. “Weren’t we playing ‘spot the differences’?”

“That’s one way,” Tess said. She traced a tiny box around the spot with her hooves, and had the computer zoom in. There, up close, they could see Thunder Lane resting comatose on the back of an exhausted looking pegasus in a power dive.

One pegasus.

===

Chance nearly flubbed the easiest mission in history before technically leaving the ship. They’d modified the cart with some extended walls for the cargo area, to hold more of the moon dust if the cure fragments ended up being deeply embedded. Between that change, and having only the one moon pony in the driver’s seat at the front, the center of gravity was high and forwards enough to let the cart dig its front end into the dust at the base of the final exit ramp, at which point it flipped end over end like some sort of spring-loaded scoop.

Chance threw himself to the side in time not to be crushed underneath, but the controls were jammed and he spent a few minutes dancing around the overturned cart and its dangerously whirling wheels until he finally found an opening to shut off the controls, after which he still had to flip the thing over.

After that, he spent another half hour gathering moon rocks to prop up the ramp at a lighter angle, since on the way back it’d be even more top heavy. It was a good thing they weren’t in any hurry.

“Chance?” came voice data over his wireless neural interface. “Chance, are you still there? I can’t find you on the external camera.”

-That’s because it’s still focused on the crash site,- he sent back, -I’m not there yet. Had to do some modifications to the exit ramp.-

“You’re still at the ramp? Look, you’ve got to hurry. We checked the probe data to make sure the rest of those bucking pegasi headed home, and it looks like there’s one left, that might be lurking nearby.”

-Which one?-

“Pinkie couldn’t tell which. Ditzy and Derpy are their names, apparently – do those ring any bells? They’re not celebrities like the others. Neither of them should be hostile, but Rainbow Dash shouldn’t have been hostile either.” There was a pause. “You tried to kill me with a freaky tornado! You’re lucky all I used was the tape!” After another pause, the voice link cut off.

Chance drove on, keeping an eye out for anything flying, but there was nothing but the glow of the moon and stars. Before long, he was at the crash, and a comparison between his stored imagery and the current state of the debris showed that only minor settling had occurred since the tornado incident. He drove the cart carefully along the pre-arranged path overlaid on his vision, and parked it perfectly in the designated rectangle. -Driving 300 feet, check.-

“Hiiii, Chancie!” came another voice stream, Pinkie Pie on the microphone this time. “Tess is busy keeping Rainbow Dash distracted so that she doesn’t break all the locks on your air trying to go help you, so I’ll be your control tower buddy tonight!”

-Okay, Pinkie. Can you read my responses?-

“Affirmative, badger one. Translation circuits on line, logging enabled. We are ready for phase two. Engage manual toxin removal clamp!”

Chance picked up the tongs he’d brought with him for the purpose, and stood on the edge of the designated area, picking out the blue poison joke leaves and setting them aside. Even though the area was only ‘lightly contaminated’, there were still dozens of leaves to move, and they were fragile after exposure to vacuum and tended to break into multiple, smaller pieces if he moved too quickly.

“Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh don’t look up!”

Chance looked up, and saw a blonde-maned gray pegasus sitting not ten feet from him, staring at him silently. -Where did she come from?- he asked.

“I don’t know! Just don’t look in her eyes!” Pinkie replied, terrified.

It was too late, though – Chance had already met her gaze, and found himself unable to look away as the mare’s bright yellow eyes started to rotate in opposite directions.

Information-based attack detected, shutting down visual sensors, said one of Chance’s anti-hacking subroutines, and he felt his eyelids squeeze shut on their own, breaking him out of his trance.

Something kicked him while his eyes were closed, and he went sprawling into the dust. He opened his eyes to see the pegasus flapping her wings slowly as she floated above him, then she swooped down at him and he only barely managed to roll out of the way. Before he could get to his feet, she landed between him and the cart, and lunged at him, trying a headbutt. He grabbed her mane and forehead to stop her charge.

-I think she’s hostile,- he sent back to the ship as she kept up the pressure, slowly pushing him back. -Sorry, girl,- he added, as he pulled his mini-taser out of his pocket and jabbed it into the side of her neck.

Somewhat to his dismay, if not to his surprise, the pegasus failed to fall over unconscious like she should have. Instead, her wings flared, and her eyes spun again, and she took an unsteady step towards him, so he zapped her again, on the nose. That stopped her advance, at least, and as lightning seemed to crawl across her feathers and fur, she sat down heavily.

There was a crash of thunder – in space? – and lightning flew everywhere. “Chance? Chaaaaance!” cried Pinkie Pie over the microphone, as his consciousness faded.

He awoke to a terrible pain in his tail – he was lying on his back, on the surface of the moon, and some pony was dragging him by his tail. His perspective was upside down, but he could see the electric cart less than fifty feet away, so he couldn’t have been out for long. Judging by the gaping hole in its side, and the sparks occasionally flying from severed bits of the internal workings, it wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.

-Ugh, what hit me?- he asked, as he flipped to his feet and yanked his tail out of the teeth of the gray pegasus, who’d been dragging him deeper into the crash site.

“You’re alive!” Tess said. “Damn it, Chance. I told you to be careful!”

The gray pegasus stared at him, but this time he knew to avert his gaze before she could hypnotize him. She lunged at him, mouth open to try to chew on his hand, but he dodged, and when she took to the air to try to headbutt him from behind, he dodged that as well, and started running back towards the cart.

“Uh oh, I think you made her mad, she’s stomping at the ground now.”

Sure enough, the cart was dead, and worse, the scuffle with the pegasus had mostly taken place inside the dust he was supposed to be collecting, which meant that it was scattered across a wider area now, with more blue leaves. -How do I make her leave?- Chance asked.

“Woah. How is she -- that’s not even – Chance, heads up!”

Chance looked up in time to see a larger-than-pony-sized bundle of ropes and sacks plummeting towards him. Not quite in time to dodge it fully, although he managed to avoid being crushed. The pegasus landed on top of it and stomped on it while glaring at him.

-I think I’m outgunned,- Chance said, yanking his leg out from under the bundle and making a run for the ship. -Any bright ideas?-

“Duck!” Tess said urgently, and he threw himself flat, just in time to avoid being beaned in the back of the head as the bundle went flying past. The ropes holding it together finally came loose as it bounced and rolled across the field of broken glass in front of him, and it disintegrated into a spray of smaller sacks.

As he got to his knees, the pegasus landed on one of the loose bags, and reached her muzzle inside, pulling out a small paper-wrapped packet and whipping it at him like a grenade. Chance batted it aside before it could hit him, and it burst open, spraying flowers and leaves – familiar flowers and leaves.

He caught the next one. -Is this what I think it is?- he asked, bringing up a picture of the poison joke cure packet from Twilight’s bag. It was the same size and the same kind of wrapping, at least. He looked back at the pegasus, who had three more in her mouth, and was staring at him, exasperated.

-Right, you!- he sent, although there was no chance that the pegasus could hear him. -Let’s go inside and talk.-

===

The vents hissed as air filled the lock, and the platform rumbled as it sank deeper into the ship. “So, um, Ditzy?” Chance asked his new companion, who’d followed him into the airlock without asking, but without any further signs of hostility at least.

“Derpy,” she replied, rubbing her neck where he’d zapped her. The fur there was scorched.

Chance nodded. “Derpy. Let me guess. You figured out what I was there for, and were just trying to get my attention the whole time.”

“Um… no?” Derpy said. “I was just trying to get you to take some poison joke cure to Rainbow Dash. You know where Rainbow Dash is, right? Ditzy told me you’d probably know and that I should take you some poison joke cure for her, before she went to take Thunder Lane to the hospital.”

“Told you how?” Chance asked. “Can you hear each other talk?”

Derpy stared at him, and he looked away before her eyes could catch him. “Oh! You mean in space! No, she wrote it in the dust,” Derpy said. “Oh! I should have written what I was doing in the dust. My bad.”

“Well, yes, writing notes to each other might have made things easier,” Chance said, tucking his notepad deeper into its pocket. “But no pony got hurt, which is the important thing.” The lift reached the bottom, and the airlock door hissed open, revealing the winding corridor that led through engineering to the rest of the ship. “Welcome to the Here to Help!”

Derpy stared at the narrow corridor, lined with pipes and conduits. “It looked bigger on the outside.”