• Published 7th Jun 2012
  • 15,158 Views, 1,020 Comments

The Conversion Bureau: United We Stand - RK_Striker_JK_5

The TCB bites off more than it can chew as humans, Equestrians and Autobots roll out.

  • ...

Chapter Two

Nicknames/shortened names: Conversion Bureau ponies
Full names: Rainbow Bridge ponies

Twilight Sparkle inched her way to the wall and stood up on her hind legs, resting her body on the top of the wall and peering down at the various giant robots moving along. “I've only seen one Autobot up close,” she said, her voice almost drowned out by the din. “It was at Canterlot, about six months ago when their leader Optimus Prime drove up to meet the Princesses. He seemed so intimidating... but he was actually very gentle, and kind.” She dropped back down and looked up at Marie. “Have you ever met him?”

Marie shook her head. “I've seen Optimus Prime in the distance a few times, but I’ve never met him personally. I've worked with some Autobots before, mostly the Technobot subgroup, and some others.”

One of the Autobots stopped in mid-stride and pivoted on his heel, looking over at the corridor with bright-blue optic sensors.[1] His torso was red, with a transparent material over the upper half and identical-colored shins. His hips and forearms were blue, with chrome-plated disks on the forearms. A large barrel was attached to his left shoulder, next to a head with a rather inquisitive expression on it. “Hello,” he said, in an accent not out of place at an upper-class university on either side of the Rainbow Bridge. “Ah, of course! The sapient equine population from across the inter-dimensional and trans-chronological gateway! The bearers of the Elements of Harmony, if my datatracks are not in error.” He reached out a hand large enough to pick up one of them. “My name is Perceptor, and it's an honor to meet you!”

The six ponies stared at Perceptor, all six pairs of eyes the approximate size of saucers. Perceptor's optic sensors blinked on and off and his hand slowly slid back. His head dipped low and he looked away. “My apologies,” he said. “I... I did not mean to disturb you and your tour.”

Fluttershy looked the giant robot over before she hopped up, spread her wings out and flew over to him. She extended her forelegs and embraced Perceptor on his upper arm. “No, I'm sorry,” she said. “You didn't disturb us or the tour.”

Twilight Sparkle hopped up, resting her forelegs on the guardrail. She looked Perceptor over, wide eyes taking in every detail. “Treads on the back of the legs, that's obviously a cockpit in the chest, you've got a cannon on your left shoulder...” She slapped her hoof against the guardrail, her hoof thudding against the metal of the guardrail. “Your alternate form must be some sort of artillery unit or tank!” she declared, grinning.

Rainbow Dash rubbed her chin. She hopped up and flew out, circling around Perceptor's torso. “No, way,” she said. She reached his chest and flew straight up, looking at his face. “He talks too much like you. No way he's cool enough to be a tank!” She leaned in close and held a foreleg up to her muzzle. “No offense, Percy.”

Perceptor's mouth turned upward slightly. “None taken, Miss Dash. I assure you my emotive programming was not adversely affected by your evaluation of my vocabulary.” He looked to Fluttershy, still hugging his upper arm. “And I am most appreciative of your greeting, Miss Fluttershy. It warms my laser core that you are receptive to me.”

Applejack blinked twice. She moved her hat back and scratched her forehead. “Whad he say?”

Twilight Sparkle let out a mild sigh. “He said he wasn't hurt by what Rainbow Dash said and he's glad we're not afraid of him.” She looked him over again. “So, are you a tank or artillery unit?”

Rarity arched an eyebrow. “Darling, I don't mean to intrude, but I think you're focusing too much on the obvious and not enough on details.” She stepped forward, hopped up on her hind legs and leaned next to Twilight. “His language isn't that of some soldier, but of a scholar. And that barrel's not one for shooting beams of death, I'd wager. The dials on it and his forearms look to be for more manual adjustment than being turned in the heat of battle, even by him.” She pointed down at his shins. “And the treads are too short for mobility, unless he's got some other part that unfolds for transport.” She looked up at Perceptor's face. “So, my dear. Who is right; Twilight or myself?”

Perceptor chuckled slightly. “I am afraid, my dear Twilight, that Rarity is correct in her line of thinking. I do not transform into any piece of military hardware. Rather, my alternate mode is a microscope.”

Twilight Sparkle tilted her head to the side. “Really? That makes a–a lot of sense, actually!”

Rainbow Dash merely crossed her forelegs in front of her and nodded. “I knew it! You sounded way too much like an egghead to be some cool tank or cannon!” She suddenly gulped and a nervous smile crossed her mouth. “N-no offense, big guy.”

Perceptor chuckled. “None taken.” His optics shifted to the left and he looked to Marie. “My apologies, Commander Hernandez, if I have delayed your tour. I simply let my curiosity overwhelm my caution subroutines. I shall endeavor to be more careful next time.”

Marie shook her head. “Not a problem, Perceptor. I'm simply taking them around some of the more human-scale areas for a few hours.” She looked around as Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy flew back to the corridor. “So, more sightseeing from here, or does anyone have a destination in mind?”

Twilight looked to Marie, then to Perceptor. “Sorry, Perceptor. It was nice meeting you, but there's so much to see here!” Her face stretched into a wide, almost impossibly-wide grin. “But that doesn't mean I don't want to see you again!”

Rarity nodded. “Indeed, my dear Perceptor. It’d be ever so fascinating to hear what you think of Equestria. Have you been there?”

Perceptor nodded. “Indeed I have, Miss Rarity.” He let out a chuckle. “In all actuality, on my visit, I was able to find an old acquaintance of mine. Although his base form has altered itself quite radically from its previous bipedal humanoid form.” He abruptly spun on his heel, producing an ear-splitting screech and causing the ponies to cringe. “I look forward to processing your images again!” he called out over his shoulder before marching away.

Twilight Sparkle looked out at Perceptor. Her ears stood straight up. “Wait, wait! An 'old acquaintance'? Who the hay is this?!” She jumped over the guardrail into the open air, forelegs extended. “Wait...” She hung in midair for a moment. “Uh, oh.”

Time slowed for a moment. Marie's arm darted out as she yelled. Pinkie Pie and Applejack stood there while Rarity's mouth hung open in shock. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy stared at Twilight for a fraction of a second before instincts kicked in and the pair of pegasi dove, reaching out with their forelegs and snagging Twilight before she fell more than a few feet. They slowed her descent, all three coming to a gradual halt. “Okay, let's get you away from your coltfriend,” Rainbow Dash said, winking.

Twilight Sparkle grunted, but remained mostly silent as the two flew her up and back onto the corridor. “Thanks, you two,” she said, giving first Rainbow Dash and then Fluttershy a hug. She looked around as Applejack, Rarity and Pinkie Pie gathered around her. Her cheeks reddened slightly and she looked up to see Marie standing over her. “Hehe, sorry about that.”

The EDC officer loomed over the unicorn, arms crossed over her chest and a scowl on her face. “Miss Sparkle, in the future, please leave the flying to those with either wings or jetpacks,” she said, a sharpness in her voice not there before.

Twilight Sparkle and the rest of the ponies suddenly stood up a little straighter than before. “Yes, Commander,” Twilight said, her head bobbing up and down. “I'll keep all four hooves on the floor for the rest of the tour!”

Pinkie Pie's head craned around. “Then how are you gonna walk?”

There was silence for the briefest of moments before Marie coughed into her fist. The coughing continued, rapidly evolving into laughter. She cleared her throat and looked down at Pinkie. “Okay, good one.”

Pinkie Pie grinned. “Thanks!” Her head suddenly twisted around. “Wait, what one?”

Marie looked at the pink party pony. She glanced to the others as they shrugged and waved Pinkie Pie off. “Never mind.” She pulled a small rectangular pad from her belt and pressed a small button along the edge. A screen on it flickered to life, displaying a map of Autobot City. “All right, from here we can get to the hangars,” she looked to Rainbow Dash, “the greenhouses,” she eyed Applejack,” or any number of other areas.” Her gaze swept over Twilight Sparkle, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Rarity. She knelt down and held the map out for all to see. “Anything catch your eye?”

Twilight Sparkle looked at her friends. “I'm up for anywhere you girls want to go.”

Rainbow Dash thrust a foreleg into the air and waved it around. “Ooh, ooh! The hangars, the hangars! Please, I have got to see those ships that fly through space!” She stopped as everyone looked to her. The pegasus shrunk down bit and scratched the back of her head. “Or... the greenhouses would be cool. I guess.”

Applejack chuckled. “Nah, sugarcube.” She looked to Marie. “Iffn it's all right, I'd like tah see these hangars with Dash. Sounds mighty interestin', actually.”

Rarity nodded. “It would be nice to see these ships of the stars, darling.” She held up a foreleg and swept it from side to side. “The grace, the elegance, the clean lines!”

“Not to mention the cannons!” Pinkie Pie shouted, hopping up and down. She stood up on her hind legs and held her forelegs out as if gripping an imaginary rifle. Her upper body leaned back a few times. “Pew, pew pew!”

Fluttershy shook her head a bit at Pinkie Pie. “Oh, my! I hope none of those cannons have to go off while we're there!” She shuddered slightly. “Too loud...”

Applejack bit back a laugh. “Hasn't Big Mac toldja about his stint in tha Royal Tank Corps?” She looked up to the ceiling. “Land sake, he loved firing off those big cannons and driving 'round in those big things.”

Rarity looked to Twilight Sparkle. “A shame Spike couldn't make it. I have a feeling he'd simply fall in love with the place. You know how boys can be,” she said, winking.

Marie spoke up. “Maybe I'll tell you about my own brother.” She stood up and waved her arm. “All set?” At their nods and words of assent, she turned and started walking, the ponies trotting, flying or hopping along behind her.

Twilight Sparkle turned her head to Rarity as they followed Marie down the corridor, moving in close to allow others moving along space to get by. “I bet Spike's having too much fun at Megan's,” she said. Her eyes tilted up slightly as warm thoughts of her first human friend filled her mind. “Last I heard from him, he's helping out with a birthday party for her younger daughter.”

Rarity's eyes lit up. “Oh, Michelle! How marvelous! The little darling will be eleven, I believe?” She tossed her head back. “She simply has a most divine talent for braiding and working with a mane. She could open her own shop in Ponyville and have customers coming out of her ears!” She rubbed her chin. “I know humans don't mature as fast as we do, but her braiding and my eye for fashion...”

“Might wanna let her get past puberty,” Twilight Sparkle remarked. She sighed as they turned a corner, moving away from the Autobots below. “I might give Spike a call tonight. I wonder how he's doing.”

Spike thrust a small, scaly arm into the air. “Ha, I did it!” he shouted, hopping up onto the couch and wiggling his body around. “Who's the dragon? Yeah, who's the dragon?” he turned to the human sitting next to him. “Did you see that, Danny? I saved the princess!”

Danny Williams chuckled at the baby dragon's enthusiasm. “Nice job,” he said. He grabbed his wheelchair's wheels, rolled forward slightly and bent down, switching off his old Nintendo Entertainment System. The adoptive uncle of Princess Luna looked over his shoulder at Spike. “So, ready to experience a true legend?”

A voice from behind caught their attention, a voice tinged with wisdom, compassion and a slight weariness. “Maybe first you two should help out with the legend of the party planning?” Megan Richards said, emerging from the kitchen and walking into the living room. She placed her hands on the back of the couch and leaned over. “We've got about a week, and I do not want Pinkie Pie overdoing it like with Danielle. Or when I went back to Equestria. Or when the Cake twins were born. Or–“

Danny held up a hand. “Okay, sis, we get it!” He wheeled around to face her. “You might have wanted to wait for Pinkie to get back from Autobot City before doing the planning.”

Megan let a small smile cross her mouth. “By the time she gets back, it'll be too late for her to overdo things. Michelle will have a nice, fun birthday party that won't force the police to come and politely ask us to stop it from overflowing into the streets.” She looked up to the ceiling and the sky beyond. “And absolutely everything will go wrong!” she shouted. “It will be the worst birthday party ever!”

Spike blinked. “Danny... why did Megan say that?” he scratched his spinal crest in confusion.

Danny shrugged. “Trying to fake out any gods listening in, methinks.” He rolled forward and looked up at his older sister. “Think it'll work?”

Megan shrugged. “Can't hurt to try.” She stood back up, worked her shoulders and looked around the living room. She sighed and crossed her arms. “Doesn't matter much. Michelle's birthday party's gonna be the last thing we do before moving.” She pointed at the kitchen, the backyard beyond and the Rainbow Bridge that connected Earth to Equestria. “After that, the entire house gets moved ten blocks down and a month from now the embassy from Equestria to Earth opens up.” She looked away. “Still can't believe it.”

Danny's mouth turned down. He rolled around the couch up to Megan and grabbed her arm, Spike following to stand by his side. “You all right?”

Megan snorted. She wound her arm around so she could grab Danny's forearm. “I'm fine, thanks.” She looked to Spike. “Thank you.” She let go and stepped back. “Well, still lots to do.” She turned on her heel and faced the kitchen. “You two able to tear yourselves away from Super Mario Brothers long enough to help with Michelle's party?”

Spike sighed. He looked to the television and the video games, but quickly nodded. “For Michelle.” he stole a glance back. “But later can I save the princess again?”

Megan stepped back and patted Spike on the head. “I'm sure Mario will need your help, especially if the princess is in another castle.” She sat down at the kitchen table and swept her hand over a few sheets of paper. “Now, let's make sure our little princess has the best eleventh birthday we can give her.”

[1] http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Perceptor_%28G1%29

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