• Published 8th Sep 2015
  • 3,958 Views, 44 Comments

The Equine and the Immortal - Architect Ironturtle

After being forced into a deal with a creature of questionable motives and species, George Someone finds himself in an abandoned palace surrounded by an unfamiliar forest. He quickly dies, then comes back to life. Expect a lot of both.

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In Which First Contact Could Have Gone Better (And Worse)

The worst mistake of first contact, made throughout history by individuals on both sides of every new encounter, has been the unfortunate habit of making assumptions. It often proved fatal.
David Brin

Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.

I'm not certain how long I was under the rainbow falls. I don't think it was more than a few seconds, but it felt way longer than that. The magic (actual, real life magic that made the kid in me want to squeal while the engineer ranted about impossibilities) didn't really seem to know what to do with me.

Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.

The burning sensation had only lasted for a very short moment before the, Elements? Yeah, the Elements, realized I was not Nightmare Moon and backed off a hair. I could feel them rubbing up against my soul, somehow, testing it: judging me. The bottom of my left foot went numb for a bit, but the Elements changed their mind an instant later and the feeling retreated. They tried to purge the evil in me next, but must not have found something strong enough to latch onto. If I'd been possessed maybe they might have been able to do something, but I wasn't, so...

Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.

They were now brushing up against my Atlas, and surprisingly, they seemed to recognize it, if not for what it was than for what it stood for. The Atlas is the tool of the Immortals of Aelion, used to help them defend their planet against all would-be conquerors. While my Atlas may not be directly connected to the planet Aelion or its people, it had the same purpose, a purpose that I sensed lined up with that of the Elements's: protect and save.

Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.

With one final round of prodding, the Elements retreated, leaving spots in my eyes and feeling like I'd just gotten the spiritual equivalent of a day at the spa, despite never actually having gone to one. I felt clean on the inside, which was a very strange sensation, if not unpleasant. Actually, I felt great. Refreshed, even. I carefully sat up, making sure not to hurt myself on the steps again, and looked around. I noticed I wasn't wearing my armor anymore, and assumed it must have come off when the Elements hit.

The six ponies in front of me were staring in my direction with a surprising variety of expressions, ranging from curiosity to confusion to hostility to barely contained glee. That last one was only on the face of a pony that I was pretty sure would be hot pink in better lighting, and I found her intense scrutiny strangely unnerving. In an attempt to break her gaze, I glanced behind me at Nightmare Moon, or rather, what I thought was her. She was a good bit smaller and more brightly colored than before, lying next to the remains of her armor, and seemed to be unconscious. Other than that, and the sudden bling around each of the smaller ponies's necks, nothing appeared to have changed while I was out.

For a long moment, it was perfectly quiet. I had no idea what to say, and I don't think they did either. The purple unicorn was about to break the silence when a bright light shone through the window I had shattered with my entrance, and the biggest pony yet sailed into the room on angelic white wings. The other ponies all hit the floor at more or less the same time, so I knew I was looking at a figure of power, although not how powerful. She (yes, another female) was smiling contentedly as she entered, right up until her cartoonishly huge, wise, and downright ancient violet eyes locked with mine, freezing her smile into a rictus of its former self. I was a surprise, and I instantly knew that that was not a good thing to be.

I decided I didn't want her taking the initiative and maybe hostile action, and bowed, Eastern style, cupping my right hand around my left fist and bending at the waist, respectful, but not submissive. The ponies had all taken a knee, as I would have if they had prostrated, so I hoped that this gesture would show respect to an authority that was not my own, and desperately prayed that it wouldn't be taken as an insult.

The bow seemed to mollify her, and her expression softened as I breathed an inward sigh of relief. The white pony now seemed more curious than wary, and she looked me up and down as I did the same to her. I spotted a gold crown tucked behind her horn and golden shoes around each hoof, confirming my earlier suspicion of authority, and while she was plump, even taking in her increased stature, rippling muscles under her coat hinted that she wasn't just some bureaucrat.

She spoke first, her voice melodious, regal and carrying a weight of power I'd never heard outside of a fantasy movie, "Greetings, George, and welcome to Equestria. Would it trouble you at all to tell me your title, species, and reason for being in a place few ponies dare to tread?"

I was stumped by her use of my name until I remembered I was wearing a name tag, and while she may have phrased it as I question I could tell it was anything but. I started to reply, but broke off in a bout of coughing as my vocal chords seized up. It cleared away after a few seconds, and I said, my voice sounding strange in my own ears, "Mechanic, homo sapiens, or human, and I have no idea. You'll have to ask the guy who dumped me here. Would you mind answering those questions yourself?"

Her eyes widened in surprise as I finished, and I wondered if prehaps she'd never had to introduce herself before. "What!?" shouted the purple unicorn, her voice piercingly loud as she looked up from the floor, "How could you not know about Princess Celestia!?"

The Princess sent her a harsh look and the unicorn dropped her head again immediately, her cheeks turning pink in embarrassment (it's odd how it showed through coat, I'll have to look into that).

"I'm new here," I drawled, "Just assume I know absolutely nothing about your culture and history and we should be good. Oh, and if it helps I mean you and your followers no harm." Followers was a nice, neutral term, right? Diplomacy had never been my strong suit, and I had no idea what I was doing.

The Princess nodded, glancing at the group of ponies as she did so, "A reasonable request. Very well then, George the Mechanic, I am Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria and Alicorn of the Sun. I am an Equus Magicae, or pony of the subspecies alicorn, and I am here to return my sister to sanity after a thousand years of being bound to a dark spirit. These are my subjects Applejack," the orange normal pony who tipped her hat towards me, "Rainbow Dash," the colorful pegasus (now I've seen everything), "Pinkie Pie," the one that was still grinning at me, "Rarity," the white unicorn looking at me like I was something on the bottom of her shoe, "Fluttershy," the yellow pegasus who squeaked and tried to hide even farther behind the others, "Twilight Sparkle," the purple unicorn, "And my sister, Princess Luna." She gestured over at the other alicorn, who was staring at me like she was torn between fear and... gratitude?

I'll admit, it took all my composure to not snicker in a very inappropriate manner, although my twitching lips probably gave me away. I mean, really, who came up with this naming system? A porn magazine? I wouldn't have been surprised.

"Now," Celestia continued, turning her gaze back to me after finishing the introductions, "What was that you said about being dumped here?"

I took a deep breathe as I prepared to try to explain Larry's antics, but a sudden blast of noise interrupted me.



My eyes snapped towards Nightmare's armor, and the two blotches of mist that were hovering about it, one grey, one black. The grey one seemed to be chasing the black one, which was trying its hardest to get away.

"Come on, Sammy, it's been centuries, just one hug?"

"No! I've told you once, I've told you a billion times! DO. NOT. HUG. ME."

"Come on, bro, don't be a downer, put 'er here!"


The two balls of mist chased each other around the rafters for a minute or so, exchanging more pleading and insults before they bounced out the window and soared up into the sky, disappearing into the darkness. When I was finally able to wrench my gaze away I saw that the ponies were still staring after them, mouths gaping open.

"That," I said, snapping Celestia out of her shock, "Was Larry, the being responsible for my spontaneous transportation. He's the immortal equivilant of a teenager, and apparently he got it into his thick skull that this planet needed saving from something, then forced me into doing it for him. I'm pretty much stuck here until he gets bored, fed up, or changes his mind, but I have no idea how long that's going to take."

Celestia didn't say anything for a moment, then her horn lit up and I found myself immobilized, "Quick Twilight," she ordered, "Use the Elements of Harmony on him before he turns into another Nightmare Moon!" I would have facepalmed if I could move my arms. Really, Princess? You hear that otherworldly forces interfered and that's the first thing you think of?

While I was fuming over my sudden imprisonment, Twilight just looked confused, "Um Princess?" she said tentatively, "We already did. He got hit by the beam at the same time Nightmare Moon did because he was holding her off until I could activate the Elements. I don't think he was evil before, and if he was he's definitely not anymore."

Celestia looked at me inquisitively, and I did my best to shrug and nod while being suspended in mid-air. She sighed, and carefully set me down, saying, "I apologize for my rough behavior, George. I hope you understand that I could not risk my subjects's safety on such a matter. However, I must ask: why did the Elements need your help?"

"Basic competence check," I replied, "Twilight here had to make a long speech about how the Elements worked before she could use them, and Nightmare Moon was smart enough to interrupt her. Frankly, I would be more worried if Nightmare just stood there and let herself get shot. The only kind of person who does something that stupid is working an angle you can't see yet." Celestia winced ever so slightly, and I wondered what that was about, assuming I wasn't seeing things.

Luna must not have been able to contain herself any longer, because at that point she leapt up and all but threw herself at Celestia's hooves, begging for forgiveness. I looked away as my ears turned red. I hate seeing people get embarrassed or embarrassing themselves, probably due to one too many times on the receiving end of such emotions. It makes watching a lot of media difficult. Thankfully, Luna didn't embarrass herself for nothing, and the two hugged it out. The grievance must not have been that bad then, because anything serious wouldn't have been forgiven that easily, right? Right.

"Twilight," Celestia said as the sisters separated, turning to address the smaller pony, "Could you and your friends accommodate George while I head back to Canterlot (snicker snicker) for a bit? I still need to get Luna settled, and I can't exactly leave him in the middle of the Everfree Forest by himself."

Twilight sprang up and nodded enthusiastically, "You can count on us, Princess!" she chirped.

"Wonderful," Celestia said with a smile, "I'll be back to raise the sun in half an hour or so. Take care until then. George," she added, "We'll discuss your situation when I return. Until then, please follow my student back to Ponyville (snicker snicker snicker). If you find any part of your stay unsatisfactory, please be sure to let me know." If that wasn't a threat, however subtle, I was a dragon. With that, she nudged Luna, and the two of them flew out into the darkness. It was only after they had left that what she'd said about the sun sank in.

"Hey, Georgie," Oh great, Larry's back, "Remember: you're on an alien planet in another dimension. Don't assume that it works the same way Earth does, ok? Just go watch the sunrise before you start on the whole 'that's impossible' spiel." He vanished before I could reply. I considered ignoring his advice, but A. he had a point, and B. I didn't want to stay in this ruin any longer than I had too. I was looking forward to a hot shower and a good night's sleep, if I could get them, and while the Atlas may have boosted my alertness it wasn't going to last forever.

"Ok," I said, flashing a large and very fake smile at my new companions that caused them all to flinch back and pin their ears down, "Is the Everfree Forest dangerous, by any chance?"

"Y-yes," mumbled Fluttershy, peeking out from behind her friends, "Very dangerous."

"Great, thanks," I said, and pictured the classes. I'd already tried the paladin out, might as well pick something else for the trip. I focused on the snowflake, and stepped into the air, hovering curled around my arms as a blue aura of power surrounded me. With a flash, I dropped back to the floor, now wearing a black and silver armored trenchcoat with a greyish blue shirt and pants . "I was just curious. Shall we go?"

"Awesome," muttered Rainbow Dash.

"How did you do that?" asked Twilight, staring at me in disbelief.

"Can we talk as we walk?" I replied, swinging my arms over my shoulders to get a feel for the suit, "As nice as this place is I can't say that it's grown on me."

"I must agree," added Rarity, batting at her hair with a hoof, "All this dust is getting in my mane."

As we headed down the stairs, I ended up in the middle of the group, letting Rainbow, Rarity, and Pinkie take the lead (How does a pony bounce, anyway?) while Twilight stayed next to me and Applejack and Fluttershy trailed behind, probably to keep an eye on me. I took a deep breath and prepared for a very lengthy monologue. I wondered if it would be worth it to be as a boring as possible to see if I get them to fall asleep on their hooves, but decided it wasn't worth the effort. It was also pretty stupid.

"It's called the Ascension Atlas," I began, while Twilight recorded my words with a quill and piece of parchment I was pretty sure she wasn't carrying earlier (Magic! EEEEEEE!), "It's a sort of mental projection of my capabilities. Are you familiar with RPG's?"

"Like Ponies and Princesses?" Twilgiht asked, scribbling furiously.

"If it's anything like Dungeons and Dragons then probably, yeah. You know how most games like that have a skill tree, where you learn simple skills at early levels and more powerful ones later on?" A nod. "Take that, and make it a skill web, where you start in the middle with dozens of branches peeling off in all directions and connecting to each class, if it actually existed. It's more a visualization tool than anything else, helps me understand what powers I have and which ones I can get at next."

"Fascinating," Twilight muttered, still writing, "Why do you have a game concept for your magical powers anyway?"

"It was part of the deal with Larry," I said, causing Twilight to look up, "When he forced me to come here, he gave me the choice of what power set I would take with me to help fight the threat that he still hasn't told me about yet." Silence. "Anyway, I picked this one because it's so flexible. I'm not stuck with a set of powers that won't work against certain opponents. Oh, don't give me that look, if you were faced with the choice I was you'd pick your favorite powers too. There's also the chance that I can't be killed now, but I'm not sure about that part yet."

"Wait, what?" All the ponies said at once as we exited the castle. Apparently Twilight wasn't the only one listening to my ramblings.

"Oh, yeah, it's part of the Atlas's history. You see, it's exclusively used by Immortals, special humans that can't die, naturally or otherwise. The Atlas is an amplifier of their power, allowing them to use it for more than just getting back up after what should have been a permanent defeat. Without it, they don't have access to any of the 'classes' or their weapons or fancy tricks. The class you saw me use on Nightmare Moon was the Paladin, a tough in-your-face fighter. This one," I gestured to my clothes, "Is the cryomancer, an ice based caster. I also have access to the lightbinder, a buff and shield specialist. I haven't had a chance to try that one out yet, though."

"Wow, that sounds really violent," Rainbow Dash said, doing the backstroke while flapping her wings above me. I considered having a freak-out about how that wasn't possible, but shoved it into the "research later" draw instead, which was starting to distort from all the files inside it (I could spend an eternity just figuring out how this place worked, if I wanted too, there were so many questions). The others were looking a bit green as well, and I forcefully reminded myself that they might not be as jaded to violence as most humans.

"Well, it is violent. The Immortals live on a planet called Aelion, named after Aeli, the first and greatest of their kind. The thing is, their world is under constant attack by aliens, and they're the only ones strong enough to defeat them and keep the peace. Sure, the mortals under their care help, but fighting a war is a lot easier when dying is more a 'Don't do that, you moron,' thing than, well, death. They need to know how to fight to protect those that can't protect themselves."

"That sounds just horrible," Rarity moaned, swooning as she held a hoof to her head, "Doing nothing but fighting for all of eternity. How can they stand it?"

"Well, they don't fight all the time," I said as the trees started to thin out, "And they are definitely appreciated for their efforts. The citizens of Aelion understand just how important the Immortals are to their safety, and combined with the fact that anyone can become an Immortal because no one actually knows how it happens, they receive the best of everything. They don't even suffer from the usual curse of immortality because they number in the tens of thousands with more being discovered every day. All in all, it's a pretty sweet deal." You just have to be willing to go out and die in battle thousands of times over to earn it.

I carefully left out the biggest and most controversial piece of Aelion's lore, that the Immortals who protected the planet were literally worshiped as gods, with every single one of them having his or her own cult following. Given that a good portion of that following was made up of people who had been personally helped and/or saved by that Immortal, it was understandable, even if the idea of being worshiped made me squeamish. Hopefully, if I never mentioned that part it wouldn't become a problem.

"Hey look, everypony, we're here!" Pinkie said as I stepped onto a cobblestone road, rustic European houses popping into existence right in front of us, "You go calm everpony down, Twilight, I've got to start planning a Welcome-to-Ponyville-and-Congratulations-on-Your-New-Atlas Party!" She zoomed off before we could respond, leaving a cloud of dust in her wake.

Twilight and I blinked while the others rolled their eyes, "Wait, how'd we get here so fast?" I asked, "It's only been a few minutes."

"It's Pinkie Pie, don't question it," chanted all the ponies except Twilight, sending shivers down my spine and making her hair stand on end. Now that needed further investigation, and I was lucky that Immortals make such good researchers, mainly because their experiments don't do as much damage when they blew up in their faces.

As we headed further into town, making me feel less like I was on an alien world with every step and more and more like I was just catapulted two centuries into the past, Larry showed up in my head again. However, unlike his usual boisterous-unless-impeded personality, this time he seemed almost... nervous.

"Hiya, Larry," I muttered, getting a weird look from my companions, "How did the family reunion go?"

"Ok, I guess, but that's not important right now," he said, a slight stammer and rush in his voice, "I took another look at that threat I told you about, and, well, I think I know why the devices chose you now."

"Really?" I asked, while Applejack twirled a hoof beside her head, while glancing meaningfully at Twilight, "Why's that?"

"You know the game you took your powers from?" He took a deep breath, somehow, which put me on edge. Larry didn't seem like the kind of guy who got the jitters easily, "It's the Reapers of Death. You're facing an alien invasion led by a god stronger than me."

Author's Note:

Well, I've made it past the 10 like starter count, and am now sitting at 12 to 2. It wasn't as much as I was hoping for, but I will admit that the story idea sounds really dubious if you didn't know going in it wouldn't suck. Now that this chapter is up, people can see that is was generally well received, which should boost the view count.

I wrote a new quote for chapter one because the current one didn't quite fit. I'll find a better place to put it later.

Written to the sound of Terran Up the Night.