• Published 19th Mar 2015
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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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3 - Do we stay, or do we go? & Medical Emergency

Chief Engineer’s Log: August 10th, 1502

Sorry Tess, but Ed wins the dating system war. It makes no sense to use the stardate when none of our clocks do. The math is easy, but doing it every time we want to write down the time is just irritating.

Oh stop complaining about proper procedure and go hug the bug girl some more. No seriously, go ahead. I’m not jealous. Just let me do the log entry you asked me to do.

The Sagan wasn’t as banged up as she looked to be. The outer layers of just about everything had been badly sandblasted, and lightning strikes had melted most of the fiberglass skin. The solar panels’ glazing was equally damaged but, aside from one panel which took a direct hit, everything underneath was working just fine according to my multi-meter. In fact, they were running at a much higher efficiency than they should have been, most likely due to leftover electrons in the system from the lightning strikes.

The worst of the damage was a ruptured power cell which looked to have had all the energy of a lightning bolt go right through it. It was a simple matter to bypass the damaged cell, and the remaining ones should have enough power for us to get home on. Ed had some spare parts back home where a proper fix could be done.

I closed the access hatch in the kitchen floor and locked it into place. “Right, that should do it. See if the motors start up.”

Ed turned the key and after a few seconds the buzz of the Sagan’s electric motors hummed softly. “Looks like we’re all good. It looks like were losing charge in the batteries faster than normal, but we are getting enough sun to move on solar alone if we have to. We should be able to make it a few hundred miles.”

“Good. That will get us to Lancaster. I have work tomorrow, but I’ll stay over until we can get this girl fixed up, ok?”

“Sounds- Oh hey, Tess’s back,” Ed’s voice suddenly took on a concerned tone, “She looks… um-you got her meds, right?”

I facepalmed, realizing we had sent Tess off on her own after a really stressful accident. “Dammit… Yeah, it’s in my pocket. I should have realized she wouldn’t be ok. I could have sworn she took her meds this morning.”

I stood up, fished the small packet of two pills out of my right pocket, and moved to open the door only to have Tess quickly open it from the outside, step in, and close it before moving directly into a rant, “Ok so one of three things is going on: option A, I am having a psychotic break; option B, I am dreaming; or option C, this is actually happening. Due to the fact that my ribs are still hurting from that kick, I am pretty sure that it’s option C. So I need you two to play along for a second while I check to see if I’ve snapped or literally the best thing ever just happened. I am going to walk back outside and come back in just a minute. If I have someone else with me for the love of god pretend to actually be Starfleet members, because this is a ‘if someone asks if you are god scenario.’ If I come back alone, Kaily please fetch my meds and we will need to schedule an appointment with Doctor Kessler because I’m getting a sense of touch with my hallucinations now. Right back in a sec!”

“Wait what?” Ed and I asked together.

Tess sighed. “It’s simple. If I come back with an alien bug girl, roleplay as a Federation officer. Because that means we fell through a wormhole and are on an alien planet and they apparently went all Galaxy Quest.”

Before I could stop her, Tess stepped out of the RV and started to jog back over the hill she had gone to a second ago. “Okay this is a bad one. Ed, if she goes crazy help me get her still so I can get her to take her meds,” I groaned.

“Way ahead of you,” he sighed.

It’s a terrifying thing to see a loved one in the grips of mental illness. A lot of people have grandparents with dementia or alzheimer's, and while that’s a sad situation at least it’s because they are old. When it’s someone your own age completely caught in a false reality, there’s the added horror of realizing that it could just as easily be you.

Ed and I climbed out of the Sagan just as Tess stopped about halfway up the hill and shouted, “Ok, they know you're coming now.”

Ed sighed, “Yep she-”

He stopped mid sentence as a large, glossy, black colored insect-like creature poked it’s head over the top of the hill. I felt my heart skip a beat as the creature stepped over the hill top and started jogging towards us. It was a big, black and green four-legged bug.

I hate bugs. They trigger a deep primal urge to squish them in me. An urge I felt the second I saw the four foot tall insect until it was about thirty yards away from me. In that instant the creepy, terrifying, disgusting feeling I get from insects vanished. As if someone flipped a switch, I noticed all the various small details about the creature like it’s large eyes, human-like mouth, happy expression, and hair cut shaped mane which made it look absolutely adorable.

“The fuck? Did that thing just turn cute?” I asked, turning to look at Ed.

He nodded slowly. “Yeah… I guess it was just too far away to see the little fangs and her expression.”

“How do you know it’s a female?” I asked curiously, my brain trying to piece together why my opinion suddenly changed.

“Well it looks like an ant, aren't all ants female?” he asked, “Besides, look at her face, that’s a female face.”

I looked again. It was a female face! She had a clearly female face, much like the sort you would see on any given anthro character. I could see how my instinctive responses toward insects would make me ignore her people-like features, but what had made me notice them?

When she got close enough I simply noticed, like my brain was asked to take another kinder look at her. She had made me notice them! She was an insect, but a highly evolved one; perhaps she had some sort of pheromone signature which humans just so happened to like. If so, that could be a defence mechanism or a weapon.

Before I could decide which was more likely, and whether or not we were going to be attacked by some sort of quadrupedal predatory insect, Tess and the creature walked up to Ed and I. The bug girl raised a foreleg and actually waved before saying, in English, “Hi! It’s an honor to meet members of Starfleet! My people have been hoping to contact you for generations!”

Ed’s jaw dropped. “You speak English? How does an alien bug girl speak English?”

“Son of a bitch!” I cursed under my breath, “The ‘Aliens Speaking English’ trope applies to real life!” This was a bitter disappointment to me, I always had a soft spot for ‘First Contact Math’ stories.

“Er- I was taught it in school. We watch your species recordings all the time and translators spells take up too much power. It’s best to learn the language yourself,” she replied, ears drooping a little.

It suddenly hit me that I was talking to an alien. I’m not an idiot or anything, it’s just that this was so alien to my normal daily life that my brain needed to catch up with what was happening. Tess had said we somehow were on an alien world, that she had found an alien, that they thought we were members of Starfleet, and that she was pretty sure things would go ‘angry natives’ if we didn’t play along. Since she apparently wasn't having an episode, I had to trust her judgement.

Clearing my throat, I knelt down to get closer to eye level with her and held out a hand. “Sorry, you just took us by surprise. I’m Lieutenant Commander Kaily Munro, I’m guessing you met my wife Tess.”

“Ensign Ad’ika, Scout for the Hive,” she replied shaking my hand with her hoof. To my amazement, she somehow was able to grip my hand and even gave it a firm squeeze like a proper handshake. Apparently her species had some form of tactile telekinesis.

“C-captain Tylor, nice to meet you,” Ed stammered.

“May I ask a question?” I asked as I stood back up.

“I’m happy to answer anything I can!” the bug girl, Ad’ika, replied.

“Our species is normally disgusted by insects. I was myself until you got closer. Can you explain that?” I asked, eyes narrowing suspiciously.

To my surprise she nodded. “Yes, my species emits a pheromonal agent which is meant to calm prey. It doesn't work on everything, and in fact it makes a lot of species nervous. Er- Don’t worry we’re not carnivores. I’m not going to hurt you or anything.”

Ed frowned and went to ask the obvious question, but Tess beat him to it. “Hold on, you have a calming aura to hunt prey with but you are not a carnivore? Does this planet have walking plants?”

“Wait, this planet? This isn’t Earth?” Ed asked quickly.

Ad’ika shook her head. “No, you came out of a… wormhole?” she asked looking up at Tess

Tess nodded. “That’s the right word.”

“I was asked to check it out by my Captain. For the record, this is my homeworld. Its name is Equis and its star is named Celestia but that will change if there ever is a new Princess of the Sun.” Ad’ika blinked, and flashed a silly grin. “Oh! Almost forgot. You asked what we eat. We’re emotivores, we feed on the energy left over from a sentient creature’s emotions. You know, sort of like the Drella of Alpha Carinae Five. Only we have solid bodies.”

“Excuse me for a moment, I need to talk to my crew in private. We have to discuss proper first contact procedures.” Ed said slowly, choosing each word carefully, “Wait here while we talk aboard the Sagan. It won't take long.”

She frowned, looking like a puppy someone just yelled at. “Ok… but please don’t take too long. The two pegasi Lieutenant Munro drove off might get reinforcements.”

“What?” Ed and I asked together.

“There appear to be multiple sentient lifeforms on this planet sir,” Tess answered, “Ad’ika was fleeing two winged horse-like aliens of a similar size and build to her when I encountered her. Since she called for my help and mentioned the Federation by name I assisted as instructed by Section Eleven of the Prime Directive. In doing so I broke at least one rib in one of her attackers. They were sporting armor with matching emblems so it is very likely they are a part of a military or security force. She claims their species kills her kind on sight.”

That would have been good information to know sooner. “We will be very quick, I promise. But we must be sure we are doing the right thing given the circumstances,” I said, attempting to soothe things over. Pheromones making me like her or not, Ad’ika was definitely a sentient creature. Her feelings mattered.

Ed nodded and quickly walked into the RV. Tess and I entered just behind him, and the second I closed the door Ed hissed, “Are you insane! You see an alien and just attack it?”

“I thought I was having a psychotic break!” Tess hissed back.

Ed bit his lip, then nodded. “Okay, that’s fair. But we are stranded on an alien planet and now-”

Ed stopped, blinked twice, then grinned. “We’re on an alien planet!”

I grinned too. “I know!”

Tess nodded eagerly. “We just talked to a real alien, and she’s adorable!”

“Well yeah, but that’s alien pheromones talking,” Ed said pursing his lips. I could tell he didn’t like the idea of being influenced like that.

“Ed, you have seen my porn folder. I’d like her anyways,” Tess informed teasingly.

“Ugh, don’t remind me. I am never using your computer again,” Ed groaned.

“Hold on, since when have you liked quadrupeds?” I asked curiously. Tess normally told me everything, even the kinda gross stuff.

“I don’t, I guess changelings are just an exception. Besides they are sentient. So it’s not bestiality even if she has four legs,” she said with a smile, “I wonder if she would let me hug her?”

“Can we not talk about this?” Ed begged.

“Sorry,” I apologized, “We should figure out what to do, and quick. Wait, her species’ name is changelings?”

“Yeah why?”

I rubbed my chin in thought. “She said she eats emotions, and changelings are a type of fairy in Irish folklore that feed on love. That probably means she translated her species name, which implies they know a lot about human culture and history, so they likely have computers or other advanced technology.”

Ed’s eyes lit up. “Maybe they have some stuff they wouldn’t mind giving us, or trading. I have some stuff in here we could part with.”

“She told me her hive has a working subspace transmitter. So if you want to go home, it’s probably a good idea to see if she will take us to her leader,” Tess said in a bitter tone.

Her tone caught my attention. She only used that particular low, harsh, buzzing tone when she was thinking about something which upset her a lot. “Hon, what's wrong?”

Tess squirmed for a moment then opened up with a sigh. “I just saved a bug girl’s life by fighting off two pegasi with my fists. That’s basically a fantasy of mine since, like, ever minus the pegasi I mean. It’s usually goblins or somthing. Also the bug girl is normally a biped. This world is awesome, I don’t want to go back to ringing up people’s booze. But you two probably want to go home, or at least will once the thrill of being here wears off… I don’t want to choose between you guys and-”

Ed cut her off, “Are you out of your goddamned mind?”

Tess’s face turned red, I could almost feel the anger welling up in her as Ed just insulted her feelings like that.

“Why the hell would I want to leave either?” Ed demanded, “To quote No Game No Life, ‘Usually in a story, when the protagonists end up in another world, they try their best to find a way home. Why would they try to go back to a world like that?’.”

Tess’s face scrunched up. That wasn’t the reply she had expected. “Huh?”

“You just punched out a mythological creature to save a bug alien,” I reminded, “We are somewhere actually interesting, and apparently there is a whole community of people who want to see us. Now, Trek science may not be real, but I’m smart enough to pick up how whatever tech they use is working if I can see it’s manual. I can pass as an engineer, you definitely can pass as a security officer Ms. Punches Pegasi, and Ed shouldn’t screw up playing captain too hard.”

“Hey!” Ed objected irritably, “Is that how this is going to go? Well think again! I’m in charge here by virtue of our little deception and that means I am going to do a good job of things! Now, lets figure out a quick and simple cover story to use with these… changelings and see where the wind takes us.”

Tess beamed us a smile. “Thank god! I’m sorry for doubting you guys… One condition though… Kaily, remember when we decided we would have an open relationship?”

I groaned, “Yes… do you have to go Captain Kirk on the locals?”

She nodded. “They are cute, and apparently eat emotions. Also you’ve seen-”

I cut her off with a raised hand. “Yes, hon. I know. Don’t squick Ed.”

Tess wouldn’t just drop this, she gushed over alien species from fiction too much to just ignore the… possibilities when given the chance to try her fantasies in reality. The only way I could convey the stupidity of her desire to boink the bug girl was to go full science on her, “I suppose that she count’s as a person, so I wont take offence if you try to pursue a relationship with her or given she is an insect, her several hundred siblings. However, you need to keep in mind this is not one of your hentai games. You don’t know what diseases she might be carrying, so if you do somehow seduce her, I won't do anything with you until if or when we find a doctor who can assure me it’s safe. Furthermore, she may not even have sex. Many insects reproduce via cloning, but if she does reproduce, it’s safe to assume that means she will lay eggs inside of you. Now since many insects larva eat their way out of a host organism-”

Tess put a finger over my lips. “Yeah I know. I’m not stupid, I obviously am going to ask if it would be safe first. But still, I kinda have to try. It’s like if you ran into a catgirl.”

I groaned. She had a very good point, stupid sexy catgirls. “Stupid point making xenophilic wife… Fine, but I am serious! Make sure it’s safe first, see a doctor.”

“Can we please stop talking about interspecies sex? Thank you. I’m going to let her know that she can come aboard so we can get out of here,” Ed informed quickly.

As he moved to open the door I couldn’t help but sigh. Knowing Tess’s love of aliens, I would have to get used to the idea of living in a three way relationship inside of three months. On the upside, life had finally given me something interesting to experience!

“Hold on a moment,” I said.

“What for?” Ed asked.

“We need to start off living on an alien planet properly,” clearing my throat I intoned, “Space: The final frontier.”

Ed caught on instantly. He grinned and added, “These are the voyages of the Winnebago Sagan.”

“It’s indefinite mission,” Tess gleefully added, “To explore a strange new world, to seek out new life and new civilizations.”

I held up one hand and counted down from three on my fingers. When I reached zero we all said in unison, “To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

I smiled, silently adding, ‘Thanks for a reason to live universe. I owe you one.’

Ad’ika's Personal Log: 12th of Harvestide '09 EoH

I have to admit, my heart fell a bit as they got into their vehicle without me. I was certain they wouldn't just go somewhere without telling me, and it looked to be about the size of a shuttle craft so it probably had living quarters. Also I’m pretty sure my Captain would want to consult the regulations and his crew before proceeding with an unexpected first contact too.

Still, I just got to meet real live humans! That’s a dream for almost every single Emerald in the Hive. Mostly because we want to get Queen Phoenix up and running so we can go to space too, but a lot of us really like humans. It’s their appearance really, bipeds are just cool. Also, humans’ various fun bits are spread out where if you snuggled one from the back your hooves would each have something to grope.

I guess you could call them fetishized aliens, but not in the way you think. We lack the taboos most species have when it comes to sex. It’s a part of eating love, we’re taught from an early age how to make creatures feel it so we can eat it. Sex is an easy, fun, and generally safe way to do that, and one of our best hunting strategies. While enjoyable, it’s not the same for us as it is for other species.

To a changeling, the biggest way to express love and appreciation for someone is to cuddle with it. It’s not something I could easily explain, it’s just a thing we do. What do you do with friends, loved ones, general acquaintances you actually like? Cuddle with them.

Mostly I just wanted to snuggle up with a human, they just look comfy. Of course snuggles tended to make me hungry, and well there’s someone else right there who can whip up a good meal for me pretty easily, but I doubt I could even get that far with Tess. Their Chief Engineer mentioned their species didn’t like insects much.

So, despite my curiosity about how humans looked under their uniforms, and that ‘snugglebug urge’ I’d been having since I saw Ms. Munro, I would have to make sure she was ok with the idea. Then make sure she was ok with a few other ideas. One of which being letting me take a photo. I have a pony pen pal who just might go and murder me if I don't get her a photo.

There was one more thing to think about, if she and I did do more then snuggle sometimes would we be ok? I mean, that would probably be fun and nice and exotic, but who knows what could happen? Changelings can breed with lots of different species, so who knows what could happen with aliens?

A sister of mine almost died from her pregnancy with two pony hybrids. She knew sleeping with a male pony could result in her giving live birth, but she went ahead anyways. It took three doctors and Queen Phoenix's help to save her and the foals. I’m glad they saved everyone. We could use more hybrids in the hive, they have extra tasty emotions.

While I really wanted to just glomp Tess, I knew I should wait until I could ask Queen Phoenix if there would be problems. She should be able to answer that question. It wasn’t about advanced technology, and with a real life human there… My eyes widened as the full realization of what three humans on Equis meant.

Closing my eyes I opened my hive-link and sent a message to Captain Skriit. <Sir! Ensign Ad’ika reporting, priority one mission update, code mauve!>

The reply came instantly, <Tell me every single last detail you can remember.>

I spent a minute filling the Captain in on what had happened. My escape, rescue, and first contact. He listened patiently as I explained everything I could then asked, <Their Captain is determining what course of action to take as we speak?>

<Yes sir.>

Captain Skriit’s voice took on a tone of glee, desperation, and extra authority as he spoke. <Ensign Ad’ika, as you have made first contact, I am assigning you to be our temporary Ambassador to the Federation. This assignment will be made permanent if you can convince them to accompany you to our hive. I am ordering you to extend a personal invitation from me to join me for dinner on the first possible evening... Just a moment Ensign. Her Highness wishes to speak to you. Brace for relay.>

I winced and lay down in the sand. Her Highness’s artificial telepathy was far more powerful than a changeling’s mind was meant to take. She toned it down as best she could but most ‘lings get headaches or migraines from her. It’s not her fault her transceivers have a minimum power threshold.

The second I felt her connect to my link my head started to pound. Queen Phoenix's powerful and mind consuming, yet kind and motherly voice filled my mind. Her speech resolved into words after she stopped talking and I could resume thinking. <Well done my child, but the humans are not safe here. You must do everything in your power to bring them to me. Our world is toxic to them. The air is different from their homeworld, and while thaumaturgical current is harmless to everything native to Equis it will slowly kill them. Fear not, I can save them. In return, they can allow me to utilize my full abilities to help you, and all my other children. You must tell them so they know they require medical attention. That will ensure they come to our home.>

A tinge of fear filled my mind. If they couldn’t live here for long, what would interacting with me do? Would I be sick? Could my hoof shake have killed their Chief Engineer? Gulping nervously, I replied, <A-as you will my Queen.>

<I am sorry to pain you with further speech, but I feel your fears. Please forgive me for this.>

A spike of pain rippled through me as Her Highness increased her link’s power in order to to read my memories. I hated it when she did that, it made me feel powerless, but I can’t blame her for doing it. She can not disobey her creator’s programming even if she wants to, and she is programed to ensure mental health.

<I see. Fear not little one, humans and changelings are perfectly biologically compatible. Yes, even for ‘snuggles’. Furthermore, the nano-immunity graft I gave you will keep you safe from any diseases which might have accompanied them here. Do as you will, but keep in mind human pheromones should affect you in the same way your own affect them. Be sure you truly wish to do what you desire before you do it, or you may regret your actions later. I am sorry for the pain, farewell.>

I sat up slowly, wishing I could do the pony thing of rubbing my head to make the headache go away. “Stupid insectoid non-centralized brains... “ I muttered irritably.

As Her Highness’s words sank in I tilted my head curiously. Human pheromones make me like them? Why? How did she know that? I supposed she simulated us interacting, after all she did have files on human anatomy. The idea didn’t upset me, if hanging out with humans meant I would feel like cuddling up with one that’s fine. I wanted to before I met real ones anyway.

“Hold on,” I muttered to myself, “she said perfectly compatible.” I reached into my saddlebag and dug out part of my Scout’s kit I hadn’t used in years.

Every Scout is issued certain equipment to make our jobs easier. Since we are meant to direct Harvesters to food, one piece of equipment Queen Phoenix designed for us was a small lens which could detect emotional energy, guide us too it, and display exactly how much someone had which we could safely take. Sure, a changeling can do that on our own, but the device did it at a better range, the precise measurement was nice, it let us use our normal eyesight while still seeing food, and looked really cool.

Since they basically did a Scout’s job for them we called them scouters. Our Queen laughed for an hour when she learned what we had taken to calling them. Apparently she was inspired to make them after seeing a similar device from an ancient entertainment program stored in her databanks. I guess it was kinda funny that we called them the same thing as the show did, but I mean, what else are you going to call a small food locating sensor?

I stuck my scouter on to the side of my head under my left ear, blinked in irritation as my left eye’s vision was suddenly tinted pink, and tapped the scan button. Instantly three sharp points of white light blinked into existence on the lense. Focusing my vision on one I sparked the scouter with just a hair of magic, asking it to focus on just the one I was looking at.

After a moment the scouter displayed the energy reading and my jaw dropped. The reading of 9.02 kilohugs wasn’t too impressive, most species produced comparable amounts. The crazy thing was the energy efficiency of their emotions. Unable to believe the data I tapped scan again, then again, and again.

The conclusion was inescapable. Human emotions have a 93 percent energy efficiency. If I was to feed off them only seven percent of the energy would be lost. This was insane! Ponies held the highest energy efficiency at 38 percent, to get a day’s worth of food we had to extract several thousand extra kilohugs per pony which meant the pony was at risk of injury from having too much energy drained. A human would be perfectly fine.

Suddenly the vehicle's door opened and Captain Tylor leaned out, “Hey we would like to- Where did you get a scouter? Wait, scratch that, how do you even- I… what?” His face scrunched up into what was easily the single most confused expression I had ever seen a living creature make.

“Er- Queen Phoenix makes them so we can find food easier. She said she based the design on an old program,” I explained.

He was silent for a few minutes before asking, “So, your species has produced scouters and uses them to find love, which you eat? How would you display love as a power level?”

That was an easy question to answer. “We measure love in a unit called the hug. It’s named after, well hugs. One hug is equal to the amount of emotional energy produced by a loving couple’s hug after twenty-eight hours apart. Well, at least, on average. The same act could produce a kilohug depending on how much each loves the other. We’re working on a better definition… but that’s hard for emotional physics.”

“You measure love in hugs,” he laughed, slamming a fist into the side of the vehicle, “That’s amazing… Hold on, if that’s meant to help you find food, are you hungry?”

I nodded.

“Come on in. My crew and I would like to accept your invitation to visit your hive. I will be driving, but I am sure that you can convince Lieutenant Munro to let you eat her out- er I mean munch on some- No, bad brain!” Captain Tylor leaned into the vehicle's cabin and shouted, “God damn it Tess! Now I can’t think about how to feed her without thinking of changelingus… Son of a whore!”

I giggled at his easily flustered nature. Thank goodness this Starfleet Captain wasn’t some stick up the butt regulations machine. “Actually, my-”

“Fuck you Ed!” Kaily interrupted, “You have known her species name for all of five minutes and you already use it to make the worst pun I have ever heard!”

“I know! I’m sorry! This is all Tess’s fault!” he moaned in response.

“Er- if I could-” I tried to speak again.

“Well now that you just blew my chance at possibly getting together with her maybe we can get going?” Tess growled from inside the cabin.

This is exactly why I hate vocal communication. Focusing my mind to send my thoughts to everything within the vehicle I said, <His pun has not reduced any chances of you hanging out with me. In fact it let me know you might be open to some snuggles after all, but that’s not important right now. As you may have guessed, my species is telepathic->

“You don’t say,” Ed mumbled, “How about some warning next time you intrude into our brains?”

<I’m sorry. This is my native language, and I was frustrated because you weren't letting me speak,> I apologised.

“Oh. Sorry, I feel like a dick now,” Ed appologised, “What were you trying to say?”

<I contacted my hive while you were in your vehicle. My Captain has asked if you would like to join him for dinner as soon as possible, but there is a very important reason you should come to our hive. Our Queen told me that humans are not able to survive for more than a few days here so you are all->

“Oh fuck!” Tess exclaimed, “How did we space the idea of a deadly alien atmosphere?”

Before their panic could set in I shouted, <We can fix it! Our Queen has very advanced medical technology. You will be fine, she has to help you it’s part of her programming.>

“How can you be sure she can help us? Oh god! It’s an alien sun, who knows what kind of radiation exposure were getting?” Kaily said, sounding panicked.

<She’s a human built colony ship and her medical bay is fully automated. Of course she can heal you!> I said soothingly.

Ed stepped into the cabin, leaving the door open behind him. “Right! Ignoring why and how for now, lets get going before we die from alien ebola. Ad’ika, please help me navigate.”

I hopped into the vehicle and blinked. The interior was nothing like what I expected. The recordings showed human built vessels as being mostly grey with square rooms and objects, with full color computer displays. This vehicle however featured rounded shapes and arches in it’s design, and the few displays I could see were high contrast orange and black vector panels.

Realizing I was just gaping at the scenery, I closed the door with my telekinesis.

“Woah!” Tess exclaimed, “Did you just telekinetically close the door?” As she asked, she looked at me with an expression I really hoped wasn’t hunger.

“Yes. My species is able to use magic to a small degree. I will happily show you once I show your Captain the way to our hive.”

“Magic?” Kaily asked curiously.

“I’m not a mage, I couldn’t explain it to you in full if I wanted to. Some of our Royals have compared our abilities to a few of the alien species seen in your documents though.” I looked around, spotted a small section with two chairs at the vehicle's noise and pointed at it with a hoof. “Is that the cockpit?”

Ed leaned around one of the chairs which had hidden him from my view. “Yes. Sit down and help me get going.”

I looked at the chair, and noticed a five point harness attached to the seat. I assumed it was for keeping you in place when the vehicle was moving over rough terrain or in turbulence. That meant it would be a good idea to buckle in, but unfortunately my body wouldn’t fit comfortably into the seat and it was a two day flight to the hive. I didn’t want to sit on my back for that long. “I’ll be there in just a moment.”

Turning around I looked at Tess curiously for a few minutes, studying her shape and how she moved. I was familiar with apes already and humans were clearly descended from them. Also I was very familiar with humans thanks to watching Trek. It shouldn’t be too hard to adjust my mental template to take a human shape. The only problem was I didn’t know how they looked without the clothing in the way, and I was not skilled enough to morph clothing yet.

“That seat won't be comfortable to sit in, so I want to shapechange into a human form to fit-”

Tess’s eyes bugged out of her head for a moment, it was fascinatingly creepy. “You’re a shapeshifter?” she exclaimed.

I nodded. “Yes. It’s what my species is best known for. We take the shape of other species and use that to blend in and get food… anyways I would like to take a human form so I can sit comfortably. Could you take off your uniform? I’ll need to get a good look at you. Or any of you, I’m not picky.”

Much to my confusion, there was a full five minutes of awkward silence. Kaily suddenly cleared her throat. “Humans have a nudity taboo. We usually only undress for loved ones and to bathe.”

Oops. Well now I felt awkward, I hadn’t even considered how their culture might work. Some ambassador I was. I giggled nervously. “Oh, sorry! Er… I’ve never heard of any species like that. I’ll just take a shape kinda like yours then. I doubt you have a spare uniform for me to use and well I don't want to be rude.”

I closed my eyes and focused. Deciding to confuse them as little as possible, I focused on my own shape. Every curve of my exoskeleton, every vein in my wings, my mane and tail, mouth, nose, eyes. I pictured them as clearly as I could, rearranged them to fit a human-like shape, envisioned my hooves as hands, my hands as feet, my torso as having those two bouncy bumps human females had. I pictured me but as human as possible, while still remaining myself.

I felt the tingle of my magic as I shifted, green flames engulfing my body for an instant. I opened my eyes, flexed my new fingers curiously, then watched as Tess turned beet red and fell over unconscious. “Oh my gosh! Is she ok? Her Highness said magical energy could be harmful to you I didn’t think-”

Kaily held up a hand. “It’s fine! She just fainted because you turned into her desktop image.” Kaily helped her up into a seat along one wall and buckled her in. “She will wake up in a minute or two. Just… warn her before you do that again. As awesome as it is Tess, well, she likes bugs.”

“Oh. So this form is highly arousing to her?” I asked.

She nodded. “Yes. You might want to…” Kaily trailed off then sighed. “Ok, full disclosure. Tess and I are a couple, but we have an open relationship. She found you cute in your previous form, but now that she knows you are a shapeshifter she will likely be all over you. Just… If you don’t want to be more than friends with her please let her down gently, ok?”

I nodded slowly. “I promise I will if it comes to that.” I doubted it would. She was very snuggly looking, apparently a god damn buffet for a changeling, and would likely want to stick with me. Why would I reject someone like that?

I slipped into the other seat in the vehicle's cabin. “Okay so we need to go east. It’s a two day long flight at my cruising speed. How fast can this go?”

“On this terrain? Probably about one hundred and forty kilometers per- Woah!” Ed exclaimed as he finally turned to look at me. Clearing his throat Ed called, “Kaily? I have a bathrobe in the top left drawer in the bathroom. Please get it for our guest. So, what direction do we go?”

“From here?” I took a few seconds to think. “Head east by one hundred and ten degrees.”

Ed nodded, turned a key, and with a hum the vehicle started moving. “Make it so!” I added teasingly.

“Oi,” Ed exclaimed, “That’s my bit.”