• Published 2nd May 2012
  • 5,084 Views, 250 Comments

Homebound - Retsamoreh

A space military captain, who believes that Equestria resides on the legendary, long-lost planet of Earth, attempts to save Twilight and her friends from an incoming invasion that threatens both Equestria and the galaxy while keeping them all sane.

  • ...

(8) Welcome Aboard

-Aboard the Fate Dropship 1K-196

-Twelve hours after first contact

-Fate Cabin


"Sir. We're here. Landing in one.... Sir?" A hand brushed up against my shoulder, and I jerked up. It was Roland, with his visor rolled up and a stupid grin on his face. I blinked, then looked back down to my arm. I had been deeply absorbed in modifying some concept sketches for a new ship, and had been comatose to reality for who-knows-how-long. It was the curse of being a genius, I suppose. Or perhaps genius was too strong a word. I had never been explicitly brilliant at designing tech, but my team of ragtag engineers knew how to make the individual parts just fine. That meant it was my job to get creative with them. Balance out ship firepower to the amount of power they’ll have at their disposal, etcetera. It was complicated and sciency. It had taken me four years just to learn the basics. Designing was time consuming, and required me to not be actively getting shot at.

So I didn't often find time, or energy, to design new ships, guns, and the like, and I enjoyed the time when I could. It signified peace - and also that the enemy was just outside of the peace, and my only hope to survive was to keep making better ways to blow them up. I'd send the plans off to a KaidenTech engineer lab when we reached Omega. The boys over at the KaidenTech facilities on Han Wavel would get it, make it, and by the time we would reach them, it would be ready to fly. I’d designed this one to be a luxury ship, specifically made for me, the ponies, and the crew. It would be perfect.

If you were wondering, I meant Han Wavel the planet, not the system. I’m pretty sure that when the first galactic council was naming the place, some poor bloke made the error. It stuck, and it confused the hell out of all our star-charts. Specifically, the star-charts in the navigation room I had built into the Homebound. It was commonly referred to as a "holo-room" by most denizens of the galaxy, but it was labeled for what it was used for, and it was used for cool stuff like star-charts. For that, I was proud. Sort of. The navigation room and its hologram capabilities were normally a tool, not some sort of odd entertainment. Watching the planets and systems dance around you in the way that only sophisticated holograms could might be somewhat hypnotizing, but nevertheless, a tool. The ponies, as they seemed to be a tad more, for lack of a better word, immature than most ambassadors tended to be, would no doubt find the holograms to be an infinite source of entertainment on our journey. If they liked that measly thing, there's no telling how they'd react to the massive holo-halls on Gantoris, or the VR-Simulators I would be reserving at one of the Academies.

I sent the small screen back into the oblivion of the datapad, and willed my stiff neck to look up Something was wrong; Roland was out of his chair, and floating sideways. All of the crew was floating in some form or another. Except Dylan. Dylan was sitting down, and this perturbed me for some odd reason that I couldn’t and didn’t want to guess. I coughed politely. "Alright, everyone, pony, human, and dragon alike. Please make your way back to your seats and buckle back up. After that, you'll get to tour your very first starship."

There was a bout of excited chattering, and a few questions that I ignored. The buzzing and clicking filled my mind, and I did my best to tune them out. They wouldn’t like it, but in the end, I didn’t care.

What was worse: I didn’t know why I didn’t care.

What was it, I wondered? Their naivety to the ways of the galaxy and life in general? The wonder of all these new and exciting terms and technologies? Pondering such thoughts would have to wait for now. All that mattered was that I dodged every enemy from Omega to Aedinia, and we'd be off the hook and in secure Wing space from then on. After that, it wouldn't be a problem keeping them from the great dangers of the galaxy. The Empirium, LRA pirates, and heavens forbid we come in contact with the BAI on our trip. I had gone compeltely overkill in my attempts to wipe out the BAI, and each time I knew it wasn’t enough. Long after I was dead, they’d still be a plague on the galaxy. All that mattered to me, though, was keeping them out of Wing space. They were the rest of the galaxy’s problem, now.

Safety was all that mattered. I couldn't care less if they were fascinated by a bug. I mean, I would care if said bug was something that could tear one of their faces off,

I smiled as Roland hurried to settle the ponies down, and I bothered to peek out the window. The planet below was dark, with a few lights popping up where life thrived. I couldn't see the moon through the window, because by now it was somewhere behind us. The low red glare from the Homebound's engines could be seen in front of us, and I brought a hand up to the small headset without a second thought.

"Oi. Pilot."

"Hmmmm?" she hummed in manner that made me wonder if she was even paying attention. We were getting closer to the Homebound by the minute; there was no doubt in my mind she was focusing mostly on getting command codes out to Evo, who would be moving furiously in the bridge to accept each one.

“Pass us by the ship, cadet. I'd like the girls to get a good look at the outside of the place they'll be traveling in for the next long while. I know I’d want to in their position."

"Aye aye, cappy,” Lilian mutted, probably turning the mic off to grumble a few words I wouldn’t want to repeat. I felt the engines deep within the dropship shudder, and we veered off-course. I tapped on the window behind me, drawing the attention of the ponies.

I’d said it before: I designed most of the Homebound. My engineers and scientists at KaidenTech made all the small working bits, and I piled them on top of one another and claimed all the credit. It was only fair, of course, if everyone knew I had a team behind me, they’d have targets on the back of their skulls. It wasn’t like I didn’t pay them or anything. I honestly shouldn’t have to defend myself for this sort of thing. For God’ sake, I was like the CEO of a company, except that the company only sells to one place, and sells everything for free.

The best thing about it was that nobody had ever asked where I kept getting the money to pay everyone.

The Homebound was one of the most over-balanced ships the Wing had to offer. It was completely unique. Medium armor, heavy shields, fast speeds, and light to medium firepower. With the Wing being one of the most technologically advanced factions in the galactic community, that still made the Homebound the equivalent of an LRA battleship. That was the Homebound. That was my darling. It couldn't take on a fleet all by itself, but it was my newest and maybe my favorite ship.

Not like it mattered. I commanded an entire fleet, so why should I care about one tiny ship? The answer is super secret, naturally. I'm serious. We're delving into territory very close to my heart, here.

The outward appearance of the Homebound was a bit different from most ships that followed KaidenTech design patterns. For one, the hangar bay was astonishingly big. It had to be, to fit a ground vehicle and the Fate in it, as well as all our other cargo. It showed, too, almost like the ship had eaten a few too many sweet. The other part, the main hull of the ship, was a bit slimmer, and was slanted so that it would eventually come to a point if it wasn't cut off by the bridge at the front. On each side the gargantuan boxlike engines sat, connected to the outside of the hangar on either side, and connecting back with the main body in the middle of the hull. As we flew past, I could see the ventilation grids digging into the side of them like old war wounds, and the low red glow of the stabilizers on the bottom of the ship just came into view. I’d made sure to put extra stabilizers in the design, just so we could do some of the more advanced fancy-flying that one could normally only do in a smaller vessel.

Connected to both engines were sixteen small, laser based broadside cannons, with eight on each side. They enough to take out a smaller pirate vessel in one pass. It seemed a bit foolish to stick them on the vulnerable engines, but the engineers insisted it was the only way to include them in the ship, and I wanted my broadside cannons, so I’d get them. But when it comes to technical stuff like that, I don't argue. Besides, they said, the ship has some pretty advanced shielding, so it shouldn't be a problem unless your shields die. Then you die too.

As we flew further along, and the bulk of the engines slid past, the nameplate for the Homebound came into view, followed by a forward projectile-based canon designed to take out fighters and small frigates. Automatically reloaded itself. Nice stuff.

The nameplate read, in large bold, black letters that stood out against the light grey of the ship, "ESS: Homebound."

There was a collective gasp that I ignored, and the dropship swerved around the front of the ship, no doubt surprising Evo as we passed by the bridge. The window to the bridge, in comparison with the size of the ship, a very small window, but still a window. You see, that was important, because when it comes down to it, I'm not a big fan of windows. Unless they're heavily secured and reinforced, or energy-based like the "window" to the hangar was, I wanted them off my ship designs. Sadly enough, the Homebound had three. Three. Absolutely terrible. The builders assured me that they'd be reinforced, especially the bridge one, but still. I've been sucked out of windows before. It's not a fun experience. Zero thumbs up.

We made the second pass, and as we spun to face the entrance to the hangar, I pressed at the headset, staring on as the ponies floated about. "Hey. Make sure to turn the gravity on, kapeesh?"


I sighed, and settled back into my seat. I did my best to ignore the startled yelps as several bodies hit the floor, and looked idly down at my dat-pad. As I waited for the long stream of messages load, I glanced up to see Dylan helping the ponies strap back into their seats, the soldier's gloved hands moving with surprising gentleness. The scene pleased me. Not in the sense of "Aww adorable ponies!" but rather the fact that it proved Dylan wasn't a robot. I'd have to shoot him out of the airlock if he was.

It was my favorite thing to do to enemies back in the day. Nothing like seeing bodies flail about in the vacuum.

There was a blip of light, and I looked back down at my arm. Messages, messages, and lots of them. I was never one to delete important messages, though sometimes I did archive them. Messages on the dat-pad, you see, are not easily forgeable, and are valid evidence in any trial of court. Don't ask me why. I'm not a politician.

I could feel the thrum of the engines die down, and looked out the window. We were now fully facing the back of the hangar. The large metal covering slowly slid back into itself, revealing the cool blue of pure energy.

Energy "walls", as they were called, were pretty revolutionary as far as space-warfare went. No more big, bulky hangars that needed to be pressurized and unpressurized constantly. I actually served on a ship that had one of those. ESS Legacy. Lovely vessel. Too bad I only served on it for a short amount of time. The entire story around that is something of a long one, so I'll save it for later.

Meaning never.

I could only see one side of the hangar as we entered through the energy-wall, and until the actual wall passed through where I was sitting, it was a bluish blurry mess. There was a very noticeable tingling sensation, and an even more noticeable buzzing sound deep in my skull. The energy-wall, of course, had never been known to create any tumors, cancers, or have any real side-effects. So much so that some people had even brought it upon themselves to create very expensive, and very useful, "energy-suits". I had never had the pleasure of wearing one, but I've heard it to be quite a rush.

The walls of the hangar were, unlike most of the walls in the ship, a simple light grey, and reflected the light from the Fate as we entered. On my side of the hangar, I could see the large piles of cargo crates stuck fast to the ground, several of the smaller ones strewn about and left open. The crates themselves were a dark grey, with several lighter grey stripes around them. Yes, we all know that our ships are made up of a lot of grey. So many shades of it it’s impossible to list. It's better than the pitch-blacks that some idiot ship designers use. You can't even see where you're going in those. It made boarding them so much harder, so most of the time I just chose to blow it up whether or not they had surrendered. By the time they did, their fate was sealed.

Hanging above the cargo was the Bearclaw Transport, one of the older Kaiden Tech models. It was, for all intents and purposes, a very large truck or a very small tank. The wheels were about a head shorter than I was, and you had to use a ladder to climb in the back. There wasn't a way to directly enter the driver's seat, of course. You had to go through the bed. That's how all the Kaiden Tech ground vehicles worked. Right next to the cockpit, for the vehicle was so large that the driver's seat had been referred to that since it was made, was a small area strictly reserved for the gunner. Two autocannons with a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree turning ability. It made a lot of noise, but I'll be darned if it wasn't effective against anything nasty that wanted to impale you with something even nastier. In the bed itself were some seats, the same ones that were in the Fate. It was a shame the Bearclaw had been discontinued after DragonTech had blown it out of the water and taken control of most ground based technology. Kaiden still owned the skies, at least.

There was a loud snapping noise, and the Fate jerked. I looked over to the passengers of the ship, each looking as alarmed as the next. I said, "It's alright, girls. It's just the crane. We'll be getting out of here soon."

"Fan-ta-stic!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, looking just about ready to explode out from her seat. I frowned, and rolled my eyes a bit too hard when I thought none of the ponies were looking.

The engines of the Fate completely faded off, replaced by the whirring and ka-chunking of the crane as it lowered us to the hangar floor about as silently as a collapsing building. Somewhere in the ship, Evo was furiously working to make sure the dropship landed just right in its designated spot, outlined by thick reflective yellow paint. A final thud marked the end of our descent, and all sound seemed to choke a bit before dying, as if the entire ship was just waiting for someone to say something and break the silence. It was almost oppressive.


I nonchalantly unstrapped myself from the chair, and spread my arms to stretch. Ignoring the blank stares I received, I smoothed out my old uniform. Inhaling the artificial air of the ship, I looked up to them, forcing my face to be blank and emotionless. "We're here."

What happened next was something I'd rather not describe in large detail. Perhaps it was a certain pink passenger chattering it up, or perhaps not. As soon as I shut my mouth, the door to the cockpit opened up and the outline of Lilian Andres stepped through, everyone simultaneously struggled to open their harnesses, promptly aided by a burst of magic from Twilight. The cadets and I stared blankly at the magic, sharing the same awed look while the ponies lined up at the closed exit ramp. As if on cue, the ramp hissed downwards, revealing a haggard looking cadet tapping feverishly at a dat-pad. She paid the very peculiar-looking passengers no mind as they assembled in front of her. Dylan and Roland leapt off the side of the ramp in quick succession, their armor hissing like an angry feline. It was their anti-fall devices implanted in the legs. Theoretically, if you had them in your armor, you could fall from any height and survive. Nobody wanted to test it, though; all we knew was that it worked. At the noise, the cadet looked up.

"Alright, sir. We-" Her mouth suddenly dropped open a notch, and she jerked back in such a way that I'm sure if she were holding an old fashioned clipboard, she would've dropped it. Her jaw and brain worked at different speeds, it seemed. "I. Uh. Aaahh..." she sputtered, both of her arms dangling stupidly at her sides.

"They're ponies, you know," I said swiftly, standing directly behind Spike. Everyone, pony, dragon, and otherwise, gave me an awkward glare. Except for Dylan, because he had never taken his visor off. How polite. "Apparently being called 'horse thingies' is somewhat offensive and inconsiderate, nevermind how accurate."

The cadet, an alien herself by the looks of things, nodded. I could tell by her face she didn’t understand any of it; that, or she already understood it and was waiting to dissect them.

She was teryn. A species of agile, grey-skinned furred race - thicker fur around the face, mind you. Commonly called “dogfaces” amongst the more rude parts of society. Normally make sure to bar any thick-furred creatures from my ships. All that hair clogs the drains. Terrible for the maintenance guys when it backs up; have you ever tried to unclog a drain in Zero-G?. Anyway, as far as the teryn went as a whole, I suppose she would be attractive. I’m not one for staring at women, my species or otherwise. Not to imply I’m not into women, I’ve just know that it’s hard to be in love and fight the galaxy at the same time. Civilians and some of the other Wing members still had time for it, though. I’d just learned it the hard way. On to something else.

I found myself pretty happy to have her with us; her kind was known for having quick reflexes and a sharp mind, not very different from the draxians. A bit more brittle than their red counterparts, but nonetheless just as useful in battle. It was a shame the Wing didn’t have more aliens. A quick glance at her white uniform showed that she was our medical officer. Good. I like medical officers. They're nice to have when you find yourself missing an arm.

"Uh.... Alright, sir," she said, backing up a few steps. "Quadrupeds, then. Fine with me. Anyway. The crew beds have all been sterilized, as has the rest of the ship. I have a long list of vaccines I'll be administering to them as soon as possible, and I sent a big package of them down with Commander Boyo for good measure. I'm sure the last thing we want is to wipe out that planet on complete accident."

"Uh, yes," I covered quickly. Even from behind the ponies, it was obvious they hadn't taken the concept of their entire race being killed off lightly. "Talk about something else. Like, uh, your name?"

"Aran V!los, sir. Chief medical officer. I’m from the Academy on Feros-Tyr, and I specialize-"

"Yea, sure. Listen, I need to - excuse me, Spike, Twilight," I muttered, squeezing my way past the two purple beings. I heard Lilian rummaging about the Fate, no doubt cleaning up any scratch marks on the seats, untangling the belts, and etcetera. I brought my hand up to the Cadet’s shoulder, turning her around so we weren't facing the ponies. "I need to clear some things up, get some reports organized. I'll give them a quick tour of the ship, but I'll need someone to take care of them after that. I'm putting you, Roland, Dylan, and Lilian in charge of them while I'm occupied. Keep them away from the armory, the dangerous medical equipment, anything that can blow up; deadly foods, and most importantly, keep them away from any airlocks. I want those things sealed tight."

"Uh." Even through her alien face I could tell she was slightly taken aback by all of this being dumped on her at once. Too bad for her, because it just happened. "Yessir. Will do. I'll talk to the other three in a moment."

"Good," I said, and turned back to face the others. Roland was off in one corner of the hangar with Dylan, making some wild and rather obscene gestures with his hands. I heard Aran's light footsteps fade as she walked over to them, hopefully to slap Roland for whatever he was describing. The ponies stared uncomfortably at me, half-on and half-off the ramp in an odd fashion. I smirked. "And as for er, you si- uh, seven! They'll be getting ready for you while I show you the ship. Now for the first part of our galactic-tour, I'll be a bit preoccupied setting things up with my superiors, but that's natural. After this walk, I'll leave you to explore the ship as you wish... with some restrictions, of course. Now...." I spun left, dramatically holding one arm out as I walked around the Fate. The ponies followed me in a group, whispering hushed things amongst themselves. I didn't bother to pay attention. I didn't care.

"Welcome to the Homebound! This is the hangar bay. That's our main cargo holding area, and that lovely vehicle is called the Bearclaw. Hopefully we won't actually have to use it. Haha!" I gave a fake laugh and even faker smile, gesturing to each object in turn.

"Whoa! Does that thing move? What's that thing on top?" Rainbow Dash said excitedly, flapping up to get a closer look at the vehicle. She was stopped quickly and rudely by her tail behind chomped on by an orange hat-wearing pony. Rainbow frowned, but stayed hovering a few feet off the ground, only slightly higher than me. Good girl, AJ. Teach her some manners!

"Yes, it does," I said as we walked past it. Above us I could hear another loud grinding and whirring noise as the crane for the Fate lifted it back up to the ceiling, where it would be stored until it was needed later. "And that's a turret. It fires kinetic projectiles."

"Like what?" Twilight asked from beside me. I looked down at her and continued that fake flight-attendant smile.

"Explosives. Like fireworks," I said simply, eliciting a startled gasp from one of the ponies, nevermind which. I could hear Pinkie chattering to Fluttershy about how great it would be if I could make a cake-firing gun.

It wouldn’t be awesome. It would be a waste of cake.

"Why would you need to fire those, though?" Twilight asked, arching an eyebrow innocently.

I stopped in my tracks. That was the word, wasn't it? Innocently. Innocent. I guess I hadn't thought of it that much, or really comprehended it at all, really. These ponies, and dragon, and hell, all of Equestria, they were all innocent. How ironic that I, a man who had ended billions of lives, would end up taking care of some of the most innocent things in all of existence. How unfair. Unfair to all of us, really. But mostly to me. Don’t ask why I just said billions.

It was about then that I realized that I would probably be going to Hell. Or worse.

Unless, I thought, I did my best to attempt to preserve their innocence. Then they wouldn't have to face the horrors of the galaxy. Their infant-like minds would not be saddled, pun intended, by the weight of such terrible nastiness. I would not be the one to smudge their entire culture with the horrors of the galaxy. I was going to do the impossible. I was going to make the galaxy look like a nice, caring place. One that these beings could relate to.

Trust me, I’ve done the impossible lots of times.

"And that over there," I said, shattering her question with the butt of my heel, pointing directly in front of us, "is the Wing insignia. You can see it on my uniform, and on the armor the cadets and I wear. It's very lovely." Above the door exiting the hangar hung a large golden statue. Not actual gold, but gold colored. Etched upon it was a massive rendition of the Wing symbol. Every ridge on the diamond, every feather on the outstretched wings. It was all there in its glory. It was very pleasing to look at, and it was very shiny. I liked shiny things.

The back wall to the hangar was a lot less blank than the other two walls. Every few feet was an outcropping of, you guessed it, a deep grey. Technically, these were referred to as "wires" and they ran all throughout the hallways of the ship and acted as an easy way to fix power problems without digging through the innermost bits of the hull. It also looked snazzy, I thought.

Above us, spaced out between the crane machinery, were large overhead lights. They cast a dull, sterile white glow on everything, and were placed all throughout the ship. The only exception for this rule was the navigation hub, because the holograms fizzled out under this particular light.

I lead the group over to the door, most of them looking up in awe at the statue resting above the doorframe. Two light black panels slid back, revealing a square room in front of us, two doors to either side, and two hallways leading down on either side of the room. Each had one of the thick, thrumming grey "wires" protruding down them, which only stopped to arch toward the ceiling when a door came in the way. I pointed at the door in front as the ponies accumulated behind me. "There's the medical bay. You'll see it soon enough. And those two..." I swung around to point at each of the doors to our immediate lefts and rights. "Both of those lead to crew quarters, bathrooms included. You won't be getting your own rooms, so I hope you can get along during the night. One of you will also have to periodically switch beds with one of the crew, unless someone wants to cuddle up with me in the Captain's bed." I grinned at them, getting a few chuckles from most, and an uproarious bout of laughter from Pinkie Pie. God, she was annoying.

Leading them down one of the two hallways, I gestured to each door as we came to it. "There's the power control, cafeteria, meeting hall, kitchen, AI core."

"Oooh! Can we make cakes in the kitchen?"

"I-" I stopped, turning to face the excitable pink menace. I frowned, and looked to Twilight. "I'm going to have to stock up on lots of sugary stuff with her around, aren't I?"

"Yes,” Twilight said matter-of-factly.

"Awww, so you don't have any cake?" Pinkie asked, grimacing pathetically as her face suddenly appeared in front of mine. For the briefest of moments, I felt very violated, as if my entire view of how the universe worked had briefly been trodden upon, and it made me uncomfortable. "Well the next time we can get cake, can you pleasepleaseprettypleasewithacherryontop get some?"

I blinked.

"Yea, whatever."

"Do you swear?"


"But do you Pinkie Pie Swear it?"

I blinked again. Pinkie Pie Swear? Was that like, swearing on some sort of holy-text in Equestria? Was she named after some past deity? That would make the most sense, so I replied in turn, "Yes. I Pinkie Pie Swear that at the next opportunity, I will get some cake for you."

"Yay! Omigosh, I forgot! There's going to be so many new treats to try! Spacey treats!" Pinkie bounded around me for a moment, making me stagger backwards in confusion and, for the briefest of moments, fear. She stopped - finally - and gave me an all-too-serious salute. "Captain, with your permission, I'd like to make it my mission to try every treat the galaxy has to offer."

I absently brushed at nonexistent dust on my jacket, licking my lips. "Uh, sure. You can do that. As I was saying, girls." I grinned that big fake grin again, and spun around on one heel. "We're coming up to the stairwell. Three directions. Two go to the engine rooms and manual cannon control, and the other leads up to the navigation room, lounge, bridge, and most importantly, my quarters."

"Why iss your room the most important? I mean, um, not to sound rude or anything, I’m just curious." Twilight asked, cantering over to my left side. I glanced down at her, and turned to face one of the various screens hitched to the wall. I tapped once on it, and TACT's signature mushroom-like symbol appeared on top of a loading bar.

"Because I'm in it, and I'm the captain. You can have a ship without a ship, but you can't have a captain without a captain." I blinked, frowning. "Wait. That's not right."

"TACT Online. Welcome Back Aboard, Sir,“ the mushroom droned out, glowing on each word.

"Yea, yea. What's our energy reserve at?" I asked, nervously flicking my eyes between the ponies and the screen. They just stared open-mouthed, and I could see Pinkie Pie withholding a gleeful something-or-other by dancing precariously on the tips of her hooves, mouth scrunched up. It was probably a shout, or maybe she'd just explode into confetti. That would be funny. Freaking hilarious.

"Energy Reserves Are Currently At Fifty Four Percent. Fuel Is At-"

"Stop there. Alright. Can you level out our speed, so that we can get to Omega as fast as possible, preferably with at least ten percent energy left?"

"I Can Make The Necessary Adjustments. We Will Arrive At The Anomaly Exit Point In Several Minutes. Is That All, Sir?"

"Oh, yea. We have some guests aboard with us. Ambassadors. So don't yell at them, alright?"

"Yes Sir. I Think It Fair To Note That They Are Equine In Nature, Though They Do Not Appear To Be Of Any Recognizable Species In My Databases."

"Yea, horse things. They're called ponies."

"According To My Databases, Ponies Are Extinct." TACT said, and I groaned as several gasps came from behind me. I clamped down on the silver ring Celestia had given me, rolling it between my thumb and forefinger. TACT stayed mercifully silent, of course, that didn't stop the ponies from crowding around me, glaring up into my eyes in a sort of creepy menacing way that didn't fit their adorable outward appearances. Rainbow Dash hovered, somehow, with her hooves crossed.

"Um," I said stupidly.