• Published 15th Jan 2015
  • 11,562 Views, 1,348 Comments

Unity - Kieva Lynn



Ponyville, Equestria. Fallow Meadows, Indiana. Two towns torn from thier worlds and deposited together on a third. Can Human and Pony work together? They'd better hope so, because they're not alone...

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Chapter Three

Unity
Chapter Three

Cole Porter Public High School, Fallow Meadows. Sheriff John Tucker stood on the stage of the school's auditorium, looking out over the gathering crowds as people found seats. From the look of things, he suspected the announcements over patrol car loudspeakers had worked: very nearly the entire town seemed to be present, people packing into the chamber like sardines.

"Where are all the kids?" A deputy asked, noting that only adults were present.

Tucker answered "There's eight thousand people in this town, and only five thousand seats in here... We've got the kids and teenagers busy in the gymnasium for the time being. If we're lucky, only a few people will have to stand."

As the deputy nodded, Bert approached from the seating area. "I dunno Sheriff." He said, "It's like you thought, a lot of folks don't have the slightest clue what's happened yet. But there's been rumors flyin' left and right..."

"Correct rumors?"

Bert laughed. "What do you think? I heard at least five different stories just walking through the room... I especially liked the one in which I've staged a coup and taken over the town government."

"You might as well have." Tucker replied. "Damned Mayor off in Hawaii when this happens..."

"Lucky guy." Bert said. "Or maybe not, I expect the press won't leave him be right about now." He shuddered. "Way I see it, you've got the easy job here compared to that."

"Yeah, I'll keep telling myself that." Tucker answered sourly. He looked out over the room. "Looks like we're ready. Tucker walked to the podium, tapping on the microphone to get people's attention. Once the room was quiet, he began: "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming... I know that you're all at least a little scared right now. I also know that there are a lot of false rumors running around-"

The Sheriff was interrupted by someone in the second row, "Just get around to it! What the hell is happening?"

"Yes. That's where I'm going, if you'll please settle down. Now then, at the moment I can't tell you everything for the simple reason that we don't yet know everything, but I'll tell you as much as we do know. To squelch to rumor mills though, With the Mayor gone I'm in charge not Bert. There hasn't been a nuclear war, ravenous aliens aren't eating people, or replacing them, or laying eggs in their chests, and we still don't know what happened at the end of 'The Sopranos.'" Several people chuckled at this last one. Tucker continued, "So far as we can tell, that freak storm yesterday was something more than a storm. We don't know what it was, or how it did it, but as anyone who has been to the edge of town knows, we're no longer where we were. We're not in Indiana, and based on the total lack of radio transmissions we don't think we're even on Earth anymore."

Tucker fell silent here, waiting patiently for the predictable commotion to run it's course, a wait which took several minutes. As people began to quiet down, several questions were shouted at the stage. "How will we get home?"

"What about our food and water supplies?"

How are we supposed to survive?"

"All good questions!" Tucker answered. "And yes, one of the reasons why we've called everyone here is to work together on answering them. I can tell you that we have enough resources, both human and materiel, to make this work if we all come together. But, before we go into that, there is one more very important thing I need to tell you." As the crowd again gave it's undivided attention, the Sheriff said "We aren't alone here. There is another town about two miles from us... ...And it's inhabitants are not human."

This time the commotion was deafening, a frightened ruckus that nearly turned into a riot. "Carl was tellin' the truth!"

"They'll kill us all!"

"I say we go make 'em send us home!"

"Yeah! Chew bubblegum and kick ass!"

"Horses I tell you! Weird alien horse things!"

"Horses!?"

"People! People calm down!" Tucker was shouting into the microphone, but it was doing no good. As the Sheriff began to worry that the situation might get out of control a blaringly loud sound rang out, causing a hush as everyone looked towards the source. Which was of course Bert, holding a naval air horn to a megaphone.

"Calm the hell down or I turn the thing on high and hold the button down for a full minute!" the survivalist shouted. "Now listen to the man, he's got more to tell you!"

Though the crowd was still muttering, they looked towards the podium, where Tucker resumed his presentation. "Alright, yes, there are aliens. And yes, they look kind of like small horses or ponies though the differences are strong enough you'd never mistake one for a regular Earth horse. Furthermore, as I'm sure many of you have heard, when they made contact with us yesterday there were a pair of incidents involving Carl Harner and the cook from the Spoony Bard Diner..." Over the next few minutes the Sheriff explained what had happened as best he could. When he finished there were of course questions, though at least the crowd stayed calmer this time around.

"How's Herbert doing?"

"Doctor Burns has him under observation. He looks to make a full recovery."

"What if these aliens turn hostile?"

"We've got Bert." The crowd laughed.

"Why are you so sure that what they tried to do to Deputy Harner wasn't an attack?"

"I'm not. But it wouldn't make sense to attack just one of us... And they did use the same power to save a man's life a little later. I think that deserves benefit of the doubt."

"Benefit of the doubt!? But if they bought us here..."

There was the question Tucker had been waiting for. "I don't think they did." He explained, "In fact, I think they're in the same boat we are. Bring up the pictures boys!" He shouted. On a projection screen behind the sheriff an aerial view of Fallow Meadows appeared. "This picture was taken yesterday by a drone we sent up. Notice, all the way around the edges of town, how clear-cut the line is between what was already here and what got bought along with us from Earth."

There was muttering and discussion in the crowd as people took note of the clear line all the way around the town. Tucker motioned for the next picture, which was a close up of the edge, at a place where it intersected a rail line. "Here you see where the railroad met one side of the edge. It's sheared cleanly at the border, and the other end of the tracks is the same way."

"Nice slideshow sheriff, but what's the point?" Someone yelled.

The room turned dead silent when the third picture appeared. Tucker let people look for a moment before he said "Here is an aerial shot of the alien's town. As you can see, it shows the exact same circular border, razor-sharp, all around the perimeter. In fact..." He motioned for the fourth picture, an image of where the alien town's railroad was cut, "...The size specifications are different of course, but our neighbors have rail service at home too... And it's cut in the same way."

"It's true then..." A man in the front row said, "They're victims here too."

"Can they help us? Can we work together?"

"I hope so," Tucker replied, "And I think that they hope so too... I think it's why they came yesterday. But there is a problem, naturally we speak different languages."

With this knowledge discussions started in earnest all through the crowd, people suggesting possible ways to breech the language barrier, things the aliens might be able to offer humanity and vice-versa, the implications of first-contact, and a myriad of other important topics. Tucker looked on, proud of his townsfolk and daring to hope that just maybe this would all work out.

And so it was at that moment that a deputy stuck his head in the room and shouted "Sheriff? They're back."

XXXX

Pinkie Pie bounced energetically through the dense forest, the large box of donuts (and muffin) somehow staying perfectly balanced no matter what kind of crazy jumps and stunts she performed. "...I just hope they turn out to like chocolate. And vanilla, strawberry, butterscotch, caramel-mmmmuph!" The pink mare was silenced by an orange hoof in her mouth.

"We get it Pinkie." Applejack said. "Just like I hope they like apples, Twilight hopes they have a library, Rarity wants a closer look at their clothes, etctera etcetera etcetera... We gotta be calm and polite though..."

"Oh duh, I know that." Pinkie answered. She did a full double backflip, the box uneffected even when she was upside down with it underneath her. "That's why I'm working out all my energy now, so that even I can be reserved for once... Well... Reserved by my standards anyway..."

Twilight favored Pinkie with an incredulous look. "Um... Thanks, I guess..."

"No problem! Just don't ask me to do it on a regular basis."

Fluttershy whispered "I hope the sick one from yesterday is okay."

"Well that's up to their egghead doctors." Rainbow said.

Twilight nodded. "Rainbow's actually right for once."

"HEY!"

Twilight continued, "We did what we could to help, but it's up to him and the doctors they've got. And speaking of doctors and sickness, Pinkie, don't be upset if they don't eat any of that right away. They might want to test it first. I know I would."

"What!? You mean they might think that we mean to poison them!?" Rarity was aghast.

"Not necessarily... But they'll want to be safe I'm sure, and that means making sure... I mean, even though there's nothing wrong with our food for us, maybe there's some ingredient harmless to us but dangerous to them?"

"Ahh... Well that is a more palatable concern."

"An' I'm guessin' it goes both ways?" Applejack asked.

Nodding, Twilight said "Absolutely. If they offer anypony anything at all to eat or drink, accept it but don't consume it, not until we know for sure it's safe... As with our food to them, even if there's nothing wrong with it from their point of view it could still be toxic to our systems."

They continued on until the town came into view from atop a high ridge. "Huh... Looks awfully quiet." Applejack said.

"Perhaps they're all still in their homes." Rarity suggested. "They could be late risers in the morning."

The group continued into the town itself, going past the location where they had met with the locals the day before, still neither seeing nor hearing anything. "It's like a ghost town today..." Fluttershy said.

"No kidding." Rainbow agreed.

Even though the creatures wouldn't be able to understand her words, Twilight called out "Hello? Is anypony here?"

Her query was answered by an unexpected source; with a fluttering of wings a green pegasus dressed in royal guard barding set down in front of them. "Royal Guard Private Updraft Ma'ams." He said by way of introduction, "Looking for the locals?"

"Yes. Where are they all?"

"Keep going this way ma'ams, they're all gathered in some large building. You can't miss it, it's the one surrounded on all sides by those carriages they use."

Twilight gave the guard a smile. "Thank you Private. Come on girls."

Following Twilight, Pinkie asked "Why would they all be in one place? Even I can see these aren't partying circumstances."

"Emergency meeting maybe?" Applejack suggested.

Twilight agreed."That'd be my guess... Unless something spooked them and they've holed up together for mutual protection... But then, the guard would've seen anything like that and told us."

It took another ten minutes before the target building came into sight. As Updraft had said, it was unmissable owing to it's size, all the carriages, and one other tell the pegasus hadn't mentioned: armed guards at all the doors. "They look... ...mean." Fluttershy said.

"They're on guard duty. It's their job to look mean." Rainbow reassured her friend.

"Yes, and we did have a mostly peaceful meeting yesterday."

"Let's try to approach them."

Moving slowly and carefully, the ponies approached the guarded doors. The guards saw them almost immediately, but made no move to attack or even threaten the group, a single individual disappeering into the building. At a range of twenty hooves they stopped to wait, knowing that an authority figure would probably arrive soon enough.

And indeed he did. Twilight recognized the features and uniform as belonging to one of the creatures who had come to meet them the previous day. He didn't come alone, though: Through the doors and the glass walls to either side of them she could see a large crowd staring out at her and her friends. At least most of them appeared to be more curious or shocked than afraid, though a few looked frightened or even angry, and at least one ran away screaming something.

While Twilight analyzed the crowd, Pinkie stepped forward, sat the box on the ground, and opened it. She looked up and smiled as the lead creature bent down, inspected the contents, and shouted something before picking the box up and handing it off. There was a short awkward silence before another creature approached and sat a plate on the ground. Pinkie beamed with joy when she saw what was on it: A slice of cake.

>Mmumph, mmumph, chomp munch chomp...< Twilight was distracted from her observations by the sounds of somepony eating. "Pinkie!!" She exclaimed upon seeing what the mare had just devoured, "What did I tell you!?

"Oh relax Twilight, it was fine!"

"Pinkie you can't know that..."

Pinkie gave Twilight a serious, dour expression. "Twilight. It's me. You can't possibly think I would eat anything bad."

Twilight returned the expression and answered "Pinkie. It's cake. I can totally think you would eat it even if there were a label that listed sauerkraut, toadstools, and arsenic sauce as ingredients."

"Oh no way." Pinkie replied, "Sauerkraut is gross. But really Twi, it's okay. If there had been anything wrong with the cake my Pinkie Sense would have told me."

"Wait, there's a Pinkie Sense tell for bad food? What happens?" Applejack asked.

Rainbow Dash said "She keels over and dies."

"Rainbow!" Rarity snapped, "That's a horrible thing to say!"

Pinkie said "Um, actually Rarity Dashie's right."

"Wot?" Twilight asked blankly.

Pinkie laughed. "Oh, I mean I don't really die of course. But see, if I get within ten hooves of bad food my whole body goes rigid, then my eyes cross, I flip over onto my back, my hooves all stick straight up, and I lay there as if I'd keeled over! That didn't happen, so I know the cake was okay!"

Twilight simply shook her head. "Okay..." Levitating objects out of her saddlebags, she began preparing for the task she had in mind...

xx

As Sheriff Tucker stepped outside, he could see that it seemed to be the same group as before waiting for him. He was a bit concerned that so many of the townsfolk had followed him out of the auditorium to see their visitors, but people seemed to be staying calm, save for one younger woman, who took one look before exclaiming "They'll kill us all!" and bolting. He was pretty sure it was the same one who had screamed those words earlier.

As he approached, the pink one presented a box and opened it. "Donuts?" Tucker wondered. "Gotta have these analyzed. Probably best to return the favor too..." He looked back over his shoulder, shouted "Hey! Someone run to the cafeteria, get a slice of cake or pie or something!" Carefully closing the box, he handed it off to a deputy with instructions to deliver it to the lab. The local facilities were not as well equipped as those in a major city of course, but they would be able to detect any toxins or unknowns.

A teenaged boy came, delivering a slice of red velvet cake. Tucker expected that the ponies would treat this gift in the same way that he intended to treat the donuts, and so was surprised when the pink one gobbled it down in seconds. He then watched with bemusement as the purple unicorn seemed to chew pink out over it. He had already concluded that purple was the leader, and he was getting more and more certain that she was also the smart one of the group. As the ponies argued back and forth over something, he wondered absently if these beings chose their rulers on the basis of I.Q.

After a few minutes of discussion, purple returned her attention to the Sheriff. Her horn began to glow, but before he could react several items floated out of her bags: a sheaf of paper, quill, ink, and a number of short wooden sticks that she dropped in a pile. Suspecting this might be something important, Tucker called back for Bert and some of the school's teachers to join him.

As they watched, the pony pulled a single stick out of the pile, slid it towards them, and said "Tik." She added another stick next to the first. "Pau." Tucker, Bert, and the teachers exchanged looks, then looked back at the pony who had an expectant look on her face. Tucker shrugged.

Pulling back the second stick, the pony said "Tik." Returned the stick, withdrew the first. "Tik." Both sticks. "Pau." A third. "Gim." One stick to the far right. "Tik." a symbol drawn in the dirt. "Onos." Another stick. "Tik." A new symbol. "Maqes." Two sticks. "Pau." The first symbol. "Onos." One stick. "Tik." Second symbol. "Maqes." Three sticks. "Gim."

"Holy shit." Bert said. "She's giving us numbers." He grabbed up one of the sticks. "Tik. One." Then added another. "Pau. Two."

"Tik... Wun, erm... Onne... One?" The pony said, before scribbling something down.

One of the teachers looked on in awe. "One plus one equals two plus one equals three... We're actually communicating simple but clear concepts with an alien being..."

"Yeah Ed, that's neat and all," The other said, "But it'd take forever to learn each other's languages like this."

Ed replied "Total language, true. But basic numbers, mathematical notations, and a couple hundred concrete nouns and simple verbs won't take long at all, and it'll cover the essentials."

Bert nodded. "Trade, if nothing else." He held up four sticks. "Four."

"Four." The pony answered. "Loowom."

xx

The linguistic exchange continued for three hours, each side writing down phonetic translations for the other's words. Numbers were covered first. Notations like plus, minus, and equals. Colors and shapes. It was like the first day of school, for both species, and both were excited. There was some exasperation when more complicated words didn't get across; both tried to communicate names only to be hindered by the other's uncertainty of whether the words being said were individual names, species names, genders, races, or something else. But it was a start...

XXXX

Somewhere else. Deep in the forest, several miles from the two towns,a creature stirred. It had no name, neither for itself nor for it's kind, for they were clever but simple creatures, beasts of prey that lived for the moment. Rising, the creature (Call it Alpha, for that was it's function in the pack,) stretched its many legs and turned its head all about, echolocating it's surroundings.

Alpha was hungry. So were the cubs, if the sounds they made were telling. Leaving the rest of the still-sleeping pack behind, it climbed to the top of a rise and enhaled deeply, testing the scents in the air. Something was different. There were smells Alpha had never encountered before.

Like all predators, Alpha now had to stride a narrow line. Caution, concerned with survival odds through the risk assessment of unknowns, told it to steer clear. Curiosity, also concerned with survival through learning, told it to investigate. The creature wavered between the two for some time before calling out. It was soon joined by it's mate, Beta, and second male Gamma. Leaving the pack, the trio moved to investigate.

Perhaps an hour later, they heard sounds none of them recognized. Alpha gave a soft three-beat growl, instructing the others to stay hidden. As they observed, a small herd of unknown quadrapeds passed by, making much noise as they went. Alpha wanted to hunt them, but it was leery. For one thing, this was an unknown. An unknown that stalked through the forest with no concern for being quiet to avoid those that hunted by sound. Those types were usually troublesome to bring down, or poisonous if you did.

As Beta and Gamma waited for Alpha's signal, a new creature suddenly passed into range. A large, long-necked grazer that Alpha knew well. This would be an easy kill, food for the whole pack for days. It gave the signal to charge the new prey.

But even late that night, it's hunger sated, Alpha thought about the new prey. It was an unknown, which made it too dangerous to attack. But that wouldn't be true for long. Alpha would stalk. Alpha would study. Alpha would learn. And soon, Alpha would feast...

XXXX

Ponyville. The small run-down cottage had sat near the edge of town for nearly a century. When occupied, the owners had all made sure to keep it in pristine condition, but after a decade empty it was getting to be in rough shape. The paint was peeled away, the roof leaked like a sieve, the windows were shattered, and the lawn was overgrown in tall grass, weeds, and young trees.

But it was structurally sound and had a cellar, which was all that had mattered when the stallion's private guards saw the storm rolling in, the terrible lightning, and the flash of white light. Convinced that they were witnessing the rolling in of some terrible magical weapon, they had ushered their charge down into the cellar, and there they had waited.

And so now, in the dead of the second night on the new world, a cellar door slowly, carefully, as quietly as possible swung open. Four burly guards trotted out and looked around in surprise. "The house is still here?" One of them whispered.

"The town's still here." Another answered, peering out the window.

The third looked down into the cellar. "Stay there. We'll check it out."

They did so, and returned to the house. "It looks okay sir! You can come up now."

"Ugh... It's about time." Prince Blueblood complained as he climbed out of the cellar followed by his remaining guards (Including the Illusionist Guard hired to create assassin-foiling body doubles) and two heavily laden porters. "What happened? Why is the town still here?"

"We're not certain your majesty."

"Hmmph." The prince shook his head. This was all too much. First, it was bad enough that business had bought him to some jerkwater town in the first place. Then, it had to be the same town that the madmare from the gala called home. And then something spooks his guards and they shove him into a hole for two days. Just. Too. Much.

"Your majesty, I think we should leave."

"Oh yes, we should absolutely leave this terrible hovel."

"Actually sir, I meant the town itself. Even if the town wasn't destroyed, something odd happened here and it's probably best that we head back to Canterlot."

With an exasperated sigh Blueblood answered "Well, the business is concluded at any rate... And I really do not want to encounter... ...her. Very well, let us be on our way then. Even walking is better than being here..."

As the Prince and his entourage filed out the door and crept stealthily out of town, a mare watched from the shadows. Two days in a cellar with that fool had been the last straw. Watching as an illusory copy of herself accompanied the group, Trixie Lulumoon sighed. All she had to do now was hope that the magic keeping the illusion together lasted long enough that none of Blueblood's guards would come back looking for her... Oh, and how to get out of a town where everypony hated her...

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