• Published 15th Jan 2015
  • 11,597 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 Four

Unity
Chapter Four

Fallow Meadows. Day Five. Bert Gumbal rose with the Sun, prepared and ate breakfast, and climbed to his rooftop with a cup of coffee. The native forests of this world pushed close against the line of Bert's property, and from them he could hear the noises of various alien creatures as they went about their business. Sitting his cup down on the ledge, Bert drew a small plastic baggie from a pocket, opened it, and deposited a small pile of sunflower seeds next to his cup. He then took the cup, stepped back several feet, and waited.

The wait was short. In less than a minute, a small winged native flew in, landing of the ledge and helping itself to the seeds. Bert crept in close, the creature not seeming to consider him a threat as he examined it up close. On first glance, this being didn't look all that dissimilar to a terrestrial bird. It was covered in feathers, had a beak, and hopped along the ledge on a pair of thin clawed feet. But there the likenesses ended: This 'bird' had four wings rather than two, and in place of eyes were a pair of large parabolic-dish shaped ears.

Bert switched on a small pocket recorder and began speaking. "Notes on local fauna: Day five. Natives seem to be primarily hexapeds and octopeds rather than tetrapeds... Bird analogue sports four wings, all feathered. Also of note: I've yet to see anything local that has eyes... This was puzzling at first, but now that I can see clearly that even the birds here have external ears, a trait unique to mammals on Earth, I think I know what's going on. I suspect that most, if not all, of the local animals echolocate like bats. Call it 'sounding' rather than seeing, the result is the same, sonar is the primary sense here..."

He paused for a moment, thinking, before he continued, "This will have a significant impact on survival tactics in fighting back against local predators... For example, surfaces transparent to us should be opaque to them. On the other hand, even the slightest movement or sound could be fatal at the wrong moment... I've been giving this a lot of thought for the last couple of days, and I've come to a conclusion: We need to know more. I still think what I told John Tucker was right, fortifying needs to come before any major exploration. But that's well in hand under the Sheriff's guidance. So I'm breaking my own rules and heading out for a short foray, probably just a couple of hours. If anyone finds this I didn't make it back. Good luck to you all."

Switching off the recorder, Bert finished his coffee before climbing back down, and heading into his armory to prepare. He loaded a large hiking pack with food, water, a first-aid kit, and other supplies including pen and paper, a camera, and extra ammunition for both of the guns he planned to take. For maximum flexibility, Bert took both a handgun and a rifle, and also fastened a machete to his belt. "Shadow! Come on boy!" He called, the dog racing to join him. Man and beast headed into the forest, alert for whatever they might find.

Finding something of interest took less than an hour. Bert had found a game trail and decided to follow, which led past densely packed trees, over a steep hill, and down into a narrow valley with a swift-running creek. After gathering a water sample for analysis back in town, the man stood and looked around. A handful of the local birds could be seen in flight, and further upstream was a trio of natives Bert hadn't yet encountered. Each looked like a bizarre cross between a giraffe and an armored dinosaur: Bigger than elephants, they were covered in fur except where the armor plates were located, and had long thick tails. The necks were elongated, the better to browse from trees as two of them were doing. And as with the 'bird' they had no eyes and large dish-ears to listen to echoes.

"Doesn't anything here have eyes?" Bert wondered. Then he heard the familiar sound of Shadow growling in the back of his throat. "What's wrong boy?" Bert whispered. He turned to look, half expecting to be staring down a predator. Instead he found his dog, ears forward, hackles up, staring intently at... ...A mushroom. "Really?" Bert asked, one eyebrow raised. "Some guard dog you are."

Shadow glance back at his master, a hurt look in his eyes, before turning his attention back to the fungus, glaring as if it were the most. Dangerous. Thing. Ever. Laughing, Bert muttered "Well, I should gather a sample I suppose..."

Pulling a thick plastic bag from his pack, Bert reached down, intent on plucking up the mushroom. Then fell back with a shout of surprise as it moved, jumping up and turning in place. It now looked like a bizarre cross between the cap of a mushroom and the body of a frog, with the cap where the frog's head would be. Bert watched, bewildered, as the whatever it was hopped away out of sight. The dog, rather than pursuing, simply looked Bert in the eyes, as if to say "Told you so..."

XXXX

Ponyville, Sweet Apple Acres. Scootaloo sat in the Crusaders clubhouse, staring out the window, bored to tears. "We've gotta do something!" She finally exclaimed.

"Yeah but what?" Apple Bloom asked. "You know the grown-ups are gonna be too worried to let us leave town. Hay, I'm amazed Applejack let us come back out here."

"I know, I know..." Scootaloo conceded.

"Of course, our cutie marks aren't gonna find themselves... And we've done everything I can think of that could be done in town."

Scootaloo gestured angrily. "That's my point! We've gotta get out there in the woods! Destiny is waiting for us! I just know it!"

"Maybe..." Apple Bloom said. "Sweetie Belle, what do you think?"

When Sweetie didn't answer, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom looked around, seeing that she was not inside the clubhouse. They found her just outside, staring intently up at the sky. Scootaloo asked "Sweetie? What's up?"

"Do you see one of those flying machines?"

"No, I'm just looking to see if there are any more moons."

"Say what?"

Sweetie Belle looked down, met her friend's eyes. "Last night Rarity was busy at Twilight's 'til after dark... She didn't want me left alone so I had to be there with her. We walked home after dark, and when I looked up at the stars I saw two moons! So I'm wondering, if there are two here, why not three or four?"

"Really? Two moons? That's cool!" Scootaloo said, looking up for herself.

Apple Bloom said "Cool to look at maybe, But I bet Princess Luna is glad she's just got the one. I mean, can you imagine having to juggle two of them? Or more?"

"Yeah that would stink." Scootaloo agreed. Then a funny expression crossed her face. "Hey! Wait a minute!" She exclaimed. "If this is a whole other planet that even the Princesses don't know about then how are the sun and moons moving!?"

"You're right!" Apple Bloom said. "There must be somepony that lives here!"

Hopping up and down, Sweetie Belle said "Let's go tell the adults!"

Apple Bloom started to nod in agreement, but Scootaloo's eyes went narrow and shifty. "Yeah... We could tell the adults... or.... We could go find this somepony ourselves. We'd be awesome heroes and maybe get our cutie marks for it!"

The trio leapt into the air, clapped their forehooves together, and shouted "Cutie Mark Crusaders! Alien Alicorn Hunters! YAAAY!!!!!!!!!" They galloped away into the forests...

xx

Some time later, a trio of very tired, very hungry, very lost fillies were still wondering through the dark forests. "Maybe this wasn't the best idea." Sweetie Belle said.

"Yeah... At least we've been dumb enough to go into the Everfree enough times we sorta know our way around there." Apple Bloom agreed.

Scootaloo snorted. "Oh come on you two. This'll all be worth it soon! You'll see! We'll find this planet's Alicorns and ask them to send Ponyville back home. Then we'll be super-awesome heroes and get super-awesome hero cutie-marks!"

"Ooh! What'dya suppose hero cutie marks look like!?" Sweetie asked.

"Like in the comic books of course." Scootaloo's eyes went wide. "Oh hey! Y'know what would be sweet? My name starts with an 'S' anyway, what if I got Supermare's 'S' Shield for mine?"

"I wouldn't mind a Batmane symbol." Sweetie said. "But... Nah, it'd clash with my color scheme and Rarity'd freak out. What about you 'Bloom?"

"I dunno... Maybe a Plaid Lantern symbol with an apple inside it... I've just had a bad thought though... "

"Bad thought?"

"Yeah... Who says it has to be Alicorns controlling this sun and moons? What if it's, like, the timberwolf or chimera equivalent of an Alicorn?"

"They'll roast us over the sun and eat us!" Sweetie Belle gasped.

Scootaloo had a brief image of herself roasted and served on a bed of rice, a cutie mark of herself on fire over a sun on her flank. "Nah, not worth it." She decided. "Okay, I'll confess, this was a bad idea I had."

"Yeah. Let's turn around and go back."

With Scootaloo in the lead, the fillies turned to retrace their steps, hoping to find their way back to the town... They had only gone a dozen hooves when, somewhere ahead of them along the path they had followed, something roared. The fillies stopped and stared down the path, eyes wide.

"Okay... Let's take a little detour eh?"

"Yeah, that sounds good."

Angling ninety degrees to the right from their original heading, the trio slowly made their way through the forests, moving with slow careful steps to avoid being heard by whatever had roared...

xx

Had it possessed the intelligence to conceive of the concept, Alpha would have thanked the heavens for what was now before it: Three of the new prey creatures, all alone, and clearly young. It traced their outlines in the echoes reflecting off of them as they turned and tried to evade it's position. Even without backup, this was a perfect test of how easy or hard to kill these prey were...

xx

With a suddenness that belied it's size, a massive predator stormed out of the trees, running straight towards the Crusaders. "Run!" Scootaloo shouted, and they took to their hooves, not thinking to scatter. The hunter was close, so close they could smell it's breath on the air. A fallen tree trunk appeared ahead, with just enough room underneath for the ponies to fit.

"Pour on the speed!" Apple Bloom yelled. "Then stop as soon as we're under the log! It'll have to go over the top, and maybe it'll be dumb enough to think we kept running!"

"Good plan!" Scootaloo agreed.

They ran as fast as their short legs would carry them, reaching the tree trunk in moments and ducking underneath. Safe for the moment, they looked around, seeing that the tree had been even bigger than they had first thought: at the center there was at least ten hooves in either direction to where the creature would be able to get to them.

Speaking of the creature, it had indeed leapt to the top of the trunk, as Apple Bloom expected it to. But it hadn't kept on running. "Where'd it go?" Sweetie Belle whispered.

"Still up on top I reckon." Apple Bloom whispered back.

"Well no more sound. Not even whispers. Maybe it'll go away."

It didn't. Instead, with a crash of it's feet on the ground and a loud roar, the creature reappeared, trying to reach it's head under the trunk to grab one of them, but unable to reach far enough.

"Ha! It can't get to us!" Scootaloo triumphantly exclaimed.

Apple Bloom shook her head. "Yeah, but we're still trapped."

"Maybe we don't have to be." Scootaloo said. "If we back closer to the other side, maybe it'll try to push in further and get itself stuck... Then we can just walk out."

Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle agreed that this was worth a try. But as the started to edge towards the far side of the trunk, another creature like the first appeared there, growling and snapping.

"That roar must've been a call for reinforcements!"

"Great. Now what do we do?"

"We sit tight. They still can't get to us, and they never will with all of that wood in the way."

And then the first creature pushed harder, and the wood began to splinter and crack, allowing it to get a bit nearer to it's quarry. The second creature did the same. The Crusaders looked back and forth in fear, knowing they didn't have much time to do something.

"Well... Only one thing to do now." Sweetie Belle said.

"Eyup." Apple Bloom agreed.

"Shall we then?" Scootaloo asked.

"Lets."

Three fillies nodded in agreement, then screamed at the top of their lungs...

XXXX

Meanwhile in Fallow Meadows trade negotiations were under way. It wasn't easy, what with an extremely limited translation list, but working together Twilight and the Mayor on one side, and Sheriff Tucker and a local merchant on the other, had managed to convey what each side needed and what each could spare. Now it was just a matter of exchange rates.

"I still think we should offer them a fair weight in bits." the Mayor insisted.

Twilight shook her head. "That's no good... We don't know what they use for money, and besides what good is money, or even precious metals, when they're stuck here?"

"I see your point... Perhaps a barter then?"

"Yeah, I think that's what it'll have to be." Twilight looked at the Sheriff, and as best she could in his language said "Trade... One-One? Weight? Value?"

"Value. Weight inequal."

Twilight nodded. Switching back to Equish, she said "That makes sense. I mean, can you imagine an equal weight trade of, say, cotton and gold?"

"If you find anypony willing to make such a trade dear, let me know."

The mares both chuckled. Twilight looked back to the Sheriff. "Value. Yes. Um..." She pondered for a moment how to phrase the question of ratios with so few words. She finally settled on "Quantity?"

xx

Tucker glanced at the merchant. "Quantity? What do you think she means Jack?"

"Not sure... Asking about how much for how much maybe?"

"Makes sense..." Tucker agreed, nodding.

Watching from the sidelines, Florence sipped her coffee and said "Looks like we're maybe getting somewhere."

"Yeah." Roger agreed.

"Of course, none of it'll mean much if we don't figure out how to get power back to the whole town... Or stable food supplies."

Roger said "It's not quite as bad as all that. The tests so far show that the local plants are mostly edible. And we've got some livestock, and seed stocks for planting crops too."

"I know, I know... It still worries me." Florence sighed. "I mean, it's just like how we can technically survive even if we don't get the power up. But we're all so used to having it, I'm not sure how most people will do in the long run."

"We'll have to get used to walking instead of driving." Roger said. "The generators we've got can power key infrastructure indefinately. But the fuel supplies are gonna go stale in the space of a few months and then... I've heard there's a group trying to figure out how to build wind turbines with the supplies on hand."

"I hope it works."

From behind the pair, a familiar voice spoke. "Long term? You're all giving up already..."

"Stuff it Carl." Roger said, turning to face the former deputy.

"Why can't you all see it?" Carl Harner insisted. "These aliens are why we're here! They can send us home if we make them!"

"You don't know that Carl!" Florence exclaimed.

"And you don't know they're not!"

Roger laughed. "That's the best you've got? Absence of proof!?"

Carl was about to respond with a stream of obscenities, when a shout drew his attention. "Great. More of them again." He grumbled. From the edge of town, a pair of the aliens, one orange and one white and purple came running, shouting something to the two already present...

xx

"Twilight! Twilight!" The mare looked up at the sound of her name being called to find Applejack and Rarity galloping towards her.

"Girls!? What's wrong!?"

The girls, the Crusaders, they're missing!" Applejack exclaimed.

"What!?"

"Oh yes it's horrible! They're wandered off into the forest I just know it!" Rarity said.

"Okay... Okay..." Twilight tried to think. "Is anypony looking for them yet?"

"Rainbow Dash of course." Applejack answered. "And half a dozen guards."

"And several others are planning to join the search shortly as well." Rarity added.

"Okay good." Twilight said.

The Mayor said "I shall return to Ponyville. The search effort will need a coordinator."

"Good thinking." Twilight agreed. "Okay, let's go find them." The mares started to rush away when Twilight exclaimed "Oh duh!" She returned to the waiting Sheriff and rummaged about in her saddlebags until she found a photo album...

xx

John Tucker and the other humans present watched as the purple unicorn pulled a book from her bags, paged through it, then presented them with a photograph. Pictured were a trio of obviously young ponies. Purple gestured towards the photo, then towards the outskirts of town.

"Ah hell, I think she's sayin' some kids have gotten themselves lost out there." Roger said as he looked at the picture.

"Children?" Florence said. "Dear Lord anything could be out there..."

"Get some rifles." Tucker called out. "We'll help look."

"Put a price on it Sheriff." Carl shouted. "The kids for our trip home!"

Angry, Tucker stomped over to Carl and got in his face. "Even if you were right about them, which you're not, these would still be children! What the hell is wrong with you!?"

"Ask your purple friend!" Carl shouted back.

The surrounding crowd was growing bigger. And Tucker couldn't help but note, more unsettled. Several were shouting, and it sounded as if a notable percentage were taking Carl's side. Not wanting push the situation further, Tucker turned away from his former deputy and walked back to where the ponies were. "Anybody got those guns yet!?" He demanded, "And where the hell is Bert!?"

XXXX

Following their encounter with the mushroom-frog ('Frogshroom?') Bert and Shadow penetrated deeper into the forest. As they went, Bert took samples of fruits, nuts, and other potentially edible plants for the labs back in town. The more they knew about this place, the better.

They reached a clearing as the sun neared it's apex. "Good a place as any for lunch." Bert said spying a large rock formation. Climbing to the top, man and dog settled in to eat. But no sooner had Bert finished unwrapping his sandwich, a scream rang out through the trees.

"Sounds like someone's in trouble!" Bert shouted, leaping to his feet and grabbing up his rifle. "Come on boy!"

Finding the source of the trouble took only a few minutes. Bert carefully parted a pair of branches to see a troubling scene. Two large animals, obviously predators, were ramming themselves at a fallen tree that was beginning to splinter under the assault. The screams were coming from underneath. "What the hell are kids doing out here?" Bert wondered, then decided he could get answers later. Right now he needed to save them, but how...?

He considered the guns he was carrying. Too risky, these creatures were huge. Then again, like the other indigenous life so far, they didn't seem to have eyes. If they used sonar, they would need very sensitive ears. Maybe too sensitive, in proximity to the boom of a gunshot. "It's the best chance we've got boy." Bert said to his dog. "Heel."

With Shadow close at his feet, Bert strode out into plain view. The beasts heard him, and turned, facing right towards the man. They roared in unison, and charged. Bert calmly raised his weapon and fired into the air. The effect was immediate: Both of the predators reared back, letting out an ear-piercing shriek of pain. But they didn't flee.

"Ah hell!" Bert exclaimed as they began to come after him again. Seeing no other option, he ran and dived for the tree trunk. At least he could be with the dumb kids, able to calm them down while he thought up a new plan. Shadow close beside, Bert rolled under the trunk just in time, barely avoiding the snapping jaws of the hungry beasts.

Safe, he looked up, searching for the lost kids. And saw ponies. "Really?" He groused.

Author's Note:

Alpha's species is basically the Night Stalker from Dougal Dixon's 'After Man: A Zoology of the Future' but with more legs.

The "Frog-shroom" is a Final Fantasy 11 style funguar.

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