• Published 19th Mar 2015
  • 5,596 Views, 944 Comments

Across the Sea of Time - Meep the Changeling

Three nerds are summoned by a mysterious force to save Equestria by helping an Artificial Intelligence build a starfaring Changeling civilization in an attempt to save the world.

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2 - A Close Encounter of the Creepy Kind & First contact? YAY!

Captain’s Log: Stardate Um, August. 69072.8

With Lieutenant Munroe’s assistance, I have discovered how to formulate a stardate correctly. This new discovery is only vaguely interesting as all of the Sagan’s clocks utilize American military time and therefore do not display a Stardate... meaning I would have to perform math each time I wanted to put a date into the log. To hell with that, it’s 1432 hours on August 10th.

No Tess, my ship, my rules. Official log entries get a normal date so I know when it is without doing algebra. Yes, I know that your segments are personal logs, but eventually you will have to make a security log and since no one is going to read these besides us I want to know when anything important happened!

My name is Ed, though for the foreseeable future I am going to have to get used to being called Captain Tylor. As an anime fan, this makes me cringe. I hope I captain the Sagan better than Captain Tylor captained the Soyokaze. Fortunately, that shouldn’t be too hard.

I had pulled the Sagan into a Chevron station to load up on groceries for the upcoming week. The Sagan is a new thing for me still, my last car ate gas at roughly the same rate as a four year old eats fruit loops. As such I am used to getting as much done in one trip as possible.

The Sagan’s solar powered electric motor was a little something Kaily and I whipped up to help my wallet out. The old RV used to be my dad’s, and when he died last year it became mine. She’s a nice thing to remember him by and he would be thrilled with the gadgets the two of us built into her. He always wanted a Bond car, but I am sure he would have been happy with a Rustbucket or Eagle Five.

The Chevron didn’t have much in the way of meal-grade food, but that was okay I survive mostly on a diet of whatever is in arm’s reach. I was in the middle of randomly grabbing packaged food when a voice started talking to me.

“Ah there you are! Do you have any idea how hard it was to get here?” It was a man’s voice, one I knew very well.

“John de Lancie?” I asked incredulously. As I turned around and saw a tall, gangly, black suited, pale faced white guy in sunglasses I felt the need to instantly apologize, “Ah- Sorry, I’m guessing you get that a lot.”

The creepy dude nodded. “Yes he does sound like me, doesn't he? Let’s get your ship on course, I can’t stay here forever and you have somewhere to be Mr. Tylor.”

He snapped his fingers, pulling a small pin seemingly from thin air. I do magic tricks, and that was one of the best sleight of hands I had ever seen. No flick of the wrist to dislodge something from the sleeve, no twist of the fingers to slide something into the palm, just snap and there it was.

The pin was pretty nice too. It was a silver eight pointed star with the vertical and horizontal points three times as long as the diagonal points and connected to a gold ring which made the pin into a circle.

“Er- Do I know you?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“No. But trust me, you want this. Call it a door prize.” He held the pin out to me, sunglasses slipping down his nose to reveal red eyes with yellow where the white should be.

That’s when it clicked, I had been the first person to enter the Con this year. There must have been a prize. “Oh! Sorry, your Thin Man costume threw me off. You didn’t have to track me down just to deliver a door prize. I mean, thanks, but that’s seriously creepy man.”

He smiled. “Oh but I do. I know it doesn't go with your uniform, but I would recommend pinning that to your collar so you don’t lose it. It’s rather priceless.”

I took the pin, it felt rather heavy. “Is this real silver?”

“No it’s platinum, and the only one of its kind remaining. I am dead serious, do not lose it. You will find it to be valuable in more ways then one.”

“Woah! Now I get why you tracked me down. I wouldn’t trust this in the mail either.” I bent my head down to pin the pin to my collar.

Just as I fastened it on I heard a finger snap, there was a camera-like flash, and the smell of burnt ozone. I looked up to see if someone had taken my picture and the guy was gone. Not gone as in, across the store leaving, as in had never been there gone.

To reiterate, a dude who looked like a Thin Man from X-Com gave me a badge out of nowhere then vanished into thin air. This was how every single conspiracy theory involving the MIB started. For a moment I thought about throwing the pin across the store and running, but then I realized that could easily screw me over later. It would be best to lock the thing in my safe at home and never think about it again unless I needed it to prove to the Feds I had been contacted or something. Or that guy was just an asshole and this really was a door prize.

Thoroughly creeped out, I quickly paid for the snacks I had grabbed and jogged back to the Sagan with the X-Files theme playing rather loudly in my head.

Kaily greeted me the second I pulled the door open. “Hey. You didn’t get much.” Then her eyes spotted the pin. “Woah! That’s a really cool pin, do they have any more?”

“No idea,” I answered, “We should get out of here before Sectoids spawn or something.”

She gave me a confused look. Tess looked up from her laptop with equal confusion and asked, “Er-what?”

“Creepy dude gave me the pin. Said it was a door prize. He could be telling the truth, I was the first one at the con this year but he seriously creeped me out by vanishing into thin air so we are going to get moving,” I answered.

I quickly tossed my grocery bags onto the couch and slipped back into the driver’s seat. As I slipped the key into the ignition Tess pointed out, “You’re letting your imagination run away with you again.”

“He was dressed like a Thin Man from X-Com.” I turned the key, the Sagan’s motors quietly humming to life.

“Yeah, and Vidcon opens in three hours,” Kaily pointed out, “They scheduled it right after Trek this year.”

“I know. Still creepy.” I stepped on the gas and started heading for the road. Home was sounding great right now.

Tess giggled, “I think Ed stole my schizophrenia. You can keep it if you want to.”

Kaily laughed at her joke. I would have if I wasn’t busy being creeped out. I honestly didn’t know why he had been so creepy. Somehow that guy was still making me feel uneasy, and the entirely traffic free highway didn’t help either. “You know, maybe I did. Do you get full body tingly dread when it hits you?”

“Yeah, you can. But normally you actually see things instead of being vaguely creeped out. Trust me, if you had just developed schizophrenia we would know. Kaily is great at telling when I’m out of it, and the docs made me memorize the signs. You’re fine. Some dude just rubbed you the wrong way,” Tess said in an informative and polite tone.

Then she gasped and asked, “Hold on, are you creeped out because you thought he was cute? That would be adorable!”

I slammed my head into the steering wheel. “Not everyone is gay, Tess.”

“Ha! Called it!” She teased.

I turned to look over my shoulder at her. “For the record-”

“Holy shit!” Kaily shouted, Her jaw dropping as she pointed out the windshield.

“What?” I turned my head to look back at the road. A huge wall of swirling sand covered the entire road, having apparently come right the fuck out of nowhere.

I stared out the window in shock at the swirling cloud of sand. The Mojave got dust storms sometimes, I knew what those were like. This was an impossibly huge vortex of sand hundreds of feet high which suddenly started shooting red lightning bolts out of itself like some sort of final boss’s special attack.

The storm was coming right for us, there was no time to turn around, and it was too big to drive around. I slammed on the breaks, reached up to the switchboard above my head and flipped a large red switch marked ‘Red Alert’. Instantly steel shutters slid down over the windows, the door’s magnetic lock clicked on, hydraulics hissed underfoot as the stabilizers lowered and leveled us out, and the cabin lights turned off as the main batteries disconnected, replaced by red lights as the emergency power came online.

“Right, that should ground us and keep the sand out. Everyone hit the deck just incase,” I ordered.

We threw ourselves onto the floor just as the sandstorm hit us. The sand hit with a sound like a thousand needles scraping over tinfoil. The Sagan creaked and moaned as the winds shook her like a dog with a new toy. I could hear the steel stabilizers scraping against the road as the winds slowly started to push us backwards.

Suddenly the RV started to spin. Just a little at first, then faster and faster until I was slammed against the side of the couch like I was on the goddamn Gravitron. The scraping of steel on road stopped as the entire RV lurched, the wind picking us up like we were some kid’s matchbox car.

At some point someone started screaming. It may have been me. It could have been all three of us. I couldn’t tell you for sure.

The cabin lights flickered and died leaving us in the dark, spinning impossibly fast and shooting through the sky. A sound like a million old tvs blaring static filled the air. A sharp smell of burnt ozone filled the entire cabin. Something sent a jolt through the Sagan’s shocks bouncing everything a good inch into the air.

Eventually, the emergency lamps flicked back on and everything was still. Absolutely still.

Tessarah Munro's Personal Log: Stardate 69072.9

The red glow that lit the RV was appropriately hellish for the churning feeling in my gut. I felt like a scrambled egg. Amazingly nothing hurt, but i could feel something wet on my face. I wiped a finger across my cheek, instantly feeling an oily liquid under my fingers. “Oh shit… Please tell me this is a nose bleed.”

Kaily moaned and looked towards me. “Yeah. Nosebleed.”

“Oh good. No one died,” Ed groaned. Pushing himself up into a sitting position, Ed rubbed his forehead. “So… that probably destroyed the solar panels. Hopefully we can fix them, or have enough power to get home.”

“Son of a bitch! Do you have tools in here?” Kaily asked.

Ed nodded. “Yeah. Full tool kit.” He stood up slowly and flipped the ‘Red Alert’ switch. Within a few seconds the cabin’s normal lights came on, the door unlocked, and the steel shutters rolled back up.

Sunlight lanced into the RV like a laser, blinding me until I managed to squint past the glare and take a look outside. The road was nowhere to be seen. We were sitting on the side of a hill in a bunch of dry, withered plants, with red tinted steam rising up from the ground around us in a circle.

“Well… I can’t see the road. How far do you think that blew us?” I asked.

Ed shrugged. “I’m just glad we are wheels down.”

He tapped a few buttons on the dashboard and frowned. “Shit, we don’t have a GPS signal.”

Suddenly Ed blinked, grinned, and gave me one of his famous ‘I’m so happy I can do this’ looks.

“What?” I asked tentatively.

Ed cleared his throat and in a flawless Patrick Stewart impression ordered, “Our first priority is to ascertain the status of the Sagan. Chief Engineer Kaily and I will inspect the ship and repair damaged systems as they are found. Meanwhile, someone needs to figure out where we are. Lieutenant Munro, you’re wearing a Hazard Suit, I want you to exit the ship and search for any landmarks we can use to identify our position.”

I groaned, “God damn it Ed…”

He was right. I had designed my uniform to be a replica of Elite Force 2’s hazard suit, and I didn’t have the know how to fix the RV, but still, after 24 years of trekkies making that joke it was very old. “I knew I should have made myself a Commander.”

“Alex Munro made Commander in the novels,” Kaily quipped as she opened the RV door to step outside.

Defeated, I sighed and followed her outside. The RV’s fiberglass decorative ‘hull’ was blackened, cracked, melted, and even had a few pieces missing from it. The steel plating Ed had welded over the original skin could be seein in a lot of places and was also blackened, but otherwise looked ok.

“Mother fucker! Yeah, there is no way the panels are ok. The glass covering them probably melted,” Kaily swore. Grumbling, she walked around to the back of the RV and climbed up the ladder to the roof.

I started to walk off into the distance, there was a pretty tall hill a few hundred yards away that looked like a good place to get a look around the area. As I walked I heard Kaily call behind me, “Hey Ed! We have one completely intact panel, the others are damaged but not as bad as I thought. See if the battery is getting a charge.”

I started to jog towards the hill. Time was not a good thing to waste in a desert. The three of us lived in Lancaster, smack dab in the middle of the Mojave. While the sandstorm would have everything hiding out right now, very soon the entire place would be swarming with coyotes, kingsnakes, rattlesnakes, about a million kinds of scorpions, and bobcats.

Sure it wasn’t as deadly as the Mojave as seen in Fallout New Vegas, but there were still animals that would kill you if they had the chance. Not to mention the dangers inherent to desert environments like heatstroke and dehydration. Since we had stayed in the RV for the con to save money its water tank was low, possibly even empty. Not wanting to die of thirst in America’s third biggest desert because a heavy metal album cover decided to come to life and throw us off the road, I focused on the task at hand. Figuring out where in the hell we were.

As I ran to the hill I did my best to look around. This was pretty far from Lancaster, but most of the Mojave looks the same. This patch of it was different though, it had way less plant life then it should. I know that seems like a weird thing to say about a desert but most of the Mojave is covered in dried up shrubs, and Joshua Trees can be seen in a lot of places.

This spot only had a few tiny shrubs, a few tumbleweeds, a handful of spindly saguaro cactuses, and a crap ton of rusty colored rock formations. It looked more like a desert you would see in an episode of Looney Tunes, only a live action one directed by Peter Jackson with a budget equal to the GDP of a small nation. It wouldn’t be out of the question for a part of the Mojave to look like this.

As I crested the hill, I spotted a small town on the horizon a few more hills a way. It looked to be about three or so kilometers away, and was pretty big. Big enough to have a mechanic at least, and big enough to have a road for people to commute to work on. I smiled and tapped my uniform’s combadge, which was actually a bluetooth mic and speaker I had paired to my phone. “Call Kaily,” I ordered.

“I’m sorry, there is no service in your area,” Siri’s mechanical voice replied.

“Great…” I muttered.

I mulled over if going back to the RV to tell everyone about the town or if going and getting some water for everyone would be best. It would take them a while to get the RV moving, or at least get as many panels working as they could. It was kinda hot out, they would probably be thirsty when done. I pulled out my wallet, checked to make sure I had cash, then started for the town.

It would take me maybe forty minutes round trip at a jog. Nothing I couldn’t handle. Sure I’m a nerd but I also like to keep in shape, I do HEMA and Amtgard after all. Physical fitness can be nerdy too.

As I reached the bottom of the hill a loud buzzing sound reached my ears. An unsettling, insect like buzzing, the sort of buzzing one would expect from a monstrously huge fly. My first thought was ‘Cazador! Whip out the flame thrower!’. Then I reassured myself that this was real life, so it was probably just a Tarantula hawk wasp. Then I remembered that a Cazador was just a giant Tarantula hawk wasp, and realized that whatever was making the buzzing had to be at least a meter long.

Just before I turned to run back to the RV screaming for Ed to get his Mossberg, a shiny black thing dropped from the sky, landing halfway up the hill ahead of me. I felt my heart skip a beat as the first thing I noticed was a glossy black exoskeleton, then I noticed that despite two pairs of large dragonfly like wings it wasn’t a massive bug.

It looked more like what a kid might doodle a pony as, only with insect features, and you know, real. It had four legs and looked like it would stand about as tall as my chest, a waspish build, large head, dull gray green horse-like tail, really big solid green eyes, a smooth, slightly curved unicorn-like horn, and a mane which would be better described as a spiky kinda-sorta-mullet hair cut.

It was adorable! It looked like a quadrupedal version of someone's anthro insect fursona. It even had a human-like mouth and short rounded anthro style muzzle. Normally I don’t like quadrupeds, but I did like bug-girl art and that thing demanded a hug.

Two more things dropped from the sky. I felt my brain punch itself as I realized they were technicolor pegasi clad in what looked like brass armor. Maybe pegasi wasn’t the best term, they had the same proportions as the bug thing but also had a few feline features, triangular ears, small muzzles instead of the normal horse face, and their wings were way smaller then they should have been. But what else do you call a hoofed, horse-like animal with bird wings?

The two pegasi said something in a language I didn’t recognise. As in they spoke. With words. I didn’t react to this, my brain was still processing what I was seeing. Only when the bug thing started to run towards me screaming for help in English did my brain let me do something.

“What the actual fuck?” I demanded. Reality refused to answer.

“Please! They’ll kill me!” the bug thing begged in a creepy-pleasant, clearly female voice.

A bug girl was pleading for me to save her from two armored pegasi. I understood what was happening now, I had forgotten to take my Zyprexa today and the RV’s death spin triggered a psychotic break. Kaily would find me if I made enough noise and she kept my backup meds on her. At least this time I wasn’t being chased by hungry xenomorphs, and was aware I was hallucinating this time so I could have a little fun.

Falling into the role this particular break from reality was giving me I nodded. “Get behind me miss, I’ll save you from those flying feather dusters.”

Ignoring the adorable little thing as it ran behind me I tapped my combadge. “Siri, play sparring playlist two. Max volume.”

The two pegasi hesitated as I slipped into a krav maga stance and the energetic sound of Rhapsody’s The Wizard's Last Rhymes shattered the air. But only for a second, then one of them yelled something and they rushed down the hill at me. Hoping that realizing you were hallucinating worked like lucid dreaming I threw my left hand infront of me and tried to fire off a ki blast. I had just enough time to be disappointed before they were on me.

The blue one jumped, twisted and launched a flying dragon kick at me. I was in awe, it was like when a Raccoon stands up and goes all bipedal for a few minutes only with kung-fu worthy of a Jackie Chan movie. I had enough time to think ‘good one brain’ before the kick connected squarely with my chest and I was thrown onto my back.

Across all my hallucinations one thing remained constant, I never felt anything. That kick hurt like hell, and so did landing squarely on a pointy rock. As my breath exploded from my lungs one thought filled my brain, this was actually happening. I was in a fucking fistfight with four foot tall pegasi, and right now they were kicking my ass.

Quickly getting my breath back I smashed my knee up into the blue pegasus’s groin. He shouted something and staggered off me. The second he was off I rolled to the side, twisted and got back up to my feet. I fell back into my stance, but this time was actually ready for a real fight and not to play hero in the land of make believe.

The red one turned, spotted his buddy laying on the sand holding his groin, and rushed me. He sprinted on all fours, but at the last moment reared up to throw a human-like punch with a hoof at me. I knocked the punch aside with my left forearm and countered with a quick jab and a screamed “Ki-ya!” for good measure.

Amazingly the pegasus dodged the punch by leaning to one side. He dropped back down to all fours, turned, and bucked. I jumped back, his hooves missing me by centimeters. I snapped one foot down in an ax kick, he sidestepped and reared up again throwing a few jabs. I blocked the first two but his third and fourth hit me right in the tits.

Incase you don’t know that hurts really bad, and makes a girl very mad. I reached out with both hands, growling savagely from the pain, sized his forelegs, jerked him forward and slammed my right knee into his chest Muay Thai style. As the air rushed out of him I felt something snap under my knee.

I let go of him and he dropped like a sack of potatoes, face clenched in a very human pained expression. I didn’t think I hit him hard enough to break a rib. Noting that pegasi bones apparently are hollow or otherwise brittle I took a step back. I didn’t want to kill a mythological creature that I had somehow found myself in a fistfight with.

The blue pegasus shouted something in whatever language he spoke. He sounded very distressed and pretty mad. Remembering the bug girl spoke English I shouted, “Tell him he can get his friend and leave or I can break both-er all of his knees. His choice.”

The bug girl’s voice quickly rattled off what I hoped was a translation. The pegasus gritted his teeth angrily, I adjusted my stance and threw a few palm strikes. Just when I thought he was going to charge the red one hissed something in a pained voice and the blue’s enraged expression softened slightly.

As the red one staggered to his hooves and limped off a short ways the bug girl asked, “Is your universal translator not working?”

“Um- what?” I blinked and gave her a quick confused look before turning back to make sure the pegasi were backing off.

She frowned in the absolutely most adorably sad way I had ever seen in my life. “I’m sorry. Is my English bad? I could try a translation spell but I am low on energy. I burned too much fighting them.”

I couldn’t not answer her, literally. Something deep in my heart and mind demanded I care for and protect the adorable thing. “No, your English is amazing. How do you know what a universal translator is?”

The blue pegasus took off, picked up his friend and started to fly towards the town I had seen earlier. Realizing I was watching a pegasus in armor fly off carrying a wounded comrade away from me after a battle and was not having a psychotic episode if my bruised breasts were any indication, I changed my question. “Scratch that, what the hell are you?”

She frowned, bit her lip revealing half feline, half vampire fangs, “I think my people’s name translates best as changelings, but I could be wrong. You don’t recognise us? We’ve been sending messages into space for years now!”

“Err… you don’t seem to understand. You are the alien here, this is Earth,” I pointed out.

She shook her head no. “No, this is Equis, only class M planet in the Celestial system. My homeworld… Don’t you have a ship in orbit?”

I blinked twice as my brain did it’s best to understand what she had said and failed. She grinned suddenly and exclaimed, “Oh! Hang on!” She then shut her eyes tightly.

“What are you-”

When she opened her eyes, she looked me over and nodded, “Yep! You must have come through the gate spell, you’re still glowing with thaumaturgic radiation. Don’t worry it’s harmless.”

The words gate and thaumaturgic caught my attention. I played enough D&D to put the pieces together. “Did this gate look like a sandstorm that was spitting red lightning bolts?”

“Probably,” she nodded, closing her eyes again, “I normally see in the ultraviolet spectrum so I didn’t see the color, but an electrically charged sandstorm is a good description.”

“So, you are saying that we fell through a wormhole and are on an alien planet?” I asked, putting everything together in my head as I spoke.

She frowned for a moment then asked, “A wormhole is a space-time anomaly and not a hole left by a worm, right?”

I nodded.

“Then yes,” suddenly her eyes went wide, she gasped and bounced from hoof to hoof in an adorable little happy dance. Then her voice filled my head, <I’m talking to an alien! I’m the ‘ling who makes first contact! Nyee!>

A bug girl just squeed at making first contact, with me. I was on an alien planet. Talking to an alien. Who apparently was a telepathic pony-like bug girl.

She beamed a huge, delighted grin at me and asked, “We have been watching the dramatized recordings of your Federation’s hero’s missions for generations! It’s an honor to meet you! You won’t be stranded here, we have a subspace transmitter working at the hive and you know the Federation frequencies so you can call them to pick you up.”

“Y-you do?” I asked thoroughly confused. What was she even talking about? Why was she treating me like a member of Starfleet?

As she nodded happily in response, I remembered that I was in a fleet uniform. She said her species watched… Oh no, her species had been watching Star Trek. They thought the show as some sort of retelling of real missions, I was trapped in a real life version of Galaxy Quest.

I opened my mouth to explain that this was just a costume but stopped as my sense of self-preservation kicked in. If her species thought Trek was real, and had for generations, nothing I could say would make her stop believing that false reality. Especially not when a living breathing human was standing in front of her in a fleet uniform. If I said the uniform was fake, she would conclude I was impersonating an officer.

A quote from Ghost Busters came to mind, ‘When someone asks you if you’re god, you say yes!’ I threw on a smile and nodded. “That’s great! Two more of my crew are over the hill behind me with our ground vehicle. We were camping out while on shore leave and well I guess chanced upon a spacial rift. My name’s Lieutenant Munro what’s-”

Her jaw dropped. “The Lieutenant Munro?”

“No, he was my great grandfather,” I lied. Thank god I played so many RPG’s, coming up with a character on the fly was practically my special talent. It was partially true anyways, my great grandfather was a Lieutenant in World War Two.

Ignoring how an alien species got ahold of a copy of a videogame for now, I asked again, “What's your name?”

“Oh!” she snapped one foreleg up into a salute, “Ensign Ad’ika, Scout for the Emerald Hive currently assigned to keep an eye on…” Her face fell. “Er- I was assigned… Sort of botched it. The Captain asked me to check out the anomaly you arrived in and the ponies saw me in my real form. Thanks for saving me! They seriously would have killed me if you hadn’t been there.”

I mentally face palmed, they even modeled their civilization after Starfleet. I was on the planet of the nerds. “Hey no problem, I like insectoids.”

I blinked, fully realizing that I was standing on an alien planet. I, Tess Munro, lowly gas station attendant, was the second human to set foot on an alien world, the first human to make first contact with a weirdly cute alien species. I laughed and felt myself grin as wide as I could. If I wasn’t dreaming, life just went from the worst thing ever, to the best thing ever.

There was only one way I could make sure I wasn't dreaming, or having the first break where I felt something. I would have to see if Kaily and Ed could see Ad’ika too. “Would you like to meet my Captain and girlfriend?”

A telepathic squee and rapid series of nods indicated her answer was yes.