• Published 13th May 2016
  • 4,481 Views, 219 Comments

Friendship is Sufficiently Advanced - Cordial Nova

A first-in scout from the Associated Worlds investigates a very odd star system.

  • ...

X. You Must Attend Your Party Before Venturing Forth, Part I

Author's Note:

And in the New Year, we pay a visit to Chekov's Armory. Shorter than I wanted, but real life time continued to be annoying, so I split it; part 2 will follow shortly hereafter, but I promised something in 2017, and doggone it, it's in 2017.

(Also, Happy New Year, folks!)

Near Sugarcube Corner, Ponyville

The sun was lowered almost to the horizon by the time the two of them returned to Ponyville, teleporting back to the library to check on the safe arrival of the teleported items, and then setting out through the quiet streets to attend Pinkie's - as the hastily-painted banner put it, lettered in silver over midnight blue - "Welcome, Spacemare!" party.

"'Spacemare', is it?" Cordelia snorted. "Well, I've been called worse."

"And it's easier to fit on the banner than 'Not-At-All-Scary-Alien'", Twilight pointed out dryly.

"A point, a very good point." Quicksilver, Cordelia subvocalized, go up and get me a picture of that, would you?

Twilight startled slightly as the little white sphere shot up from Cordelia's pocket, golden lens glinting, then dropped to hover over her shoulder, spinning back and forth in place, with only the faintest glow to suggest how.

"So that's - she's - your muse? The assistant you mentioned?"

"Not... exactly. She lives in" - Cordelia tapped her temple - "my brain, or the lace wrapped around it, rather. This is her bytegeist (3); it's a sort of portable body that lets her do things on her own, when she needs to. Say hello, Quicksilver."

3. As briefly summed up here.

"Fair evening, Twilight Sparkle," the sphere said politely, eye-light flickering.

Twilight's ears flattened dubiously. "You implanted a machine in your brain?"

"Not implanted. It grew along with me," Cordelia explained. "It's more like a symbiote than a machine, really. And a very efficient one; I have an assistant who knows everything I need just as soon as I do, or even before."

"Please accept my assurance, Twilight Sparkle," Quicksilver said, "that I would never do anything which might cause harm to my principal. I exist only to be of help to her."

"Thank you, Quicksilver. And I'm sorry if I implied otherwise. It's just... very strange."

"And it looks like we're here!" Cordelia interrupted the awkward moment. "At least, if I had to imagine a building to go with the name Sugarcube Corner... well, I wouldn't have imagined that," she continued, looking up and down the gingerbread façade, "but it does seem to suit the business perfectly. Is that really a cupcake cupola with candle minarets? If the food is even half as tasty as the building looks, I'm going to enjoy this. And -"

Reaching the doorway, they entered the brightly lit bakery, to the limited extent to which that was possible given the crowd. "- it looks like absolutely everypony is here," she finished.

Indeed, that seemed to be the case, from the size of the crowd, now glancing around at them from listening quietly to the grey-maned, pale beige earth pony at the front of the room, whose speech their entrance had evidently interrupted.

"Ahem," she continued, straightening a bright green cravat. "As I was saying, Princess Luna has written to me to ask us, as one of the friendliest towns in Equestria, to host an unusual guest - the first visitor to Equestria from another world. I know that we're all honored to have been chosen by the Princess, and that you'll all do your best to make her feel welcome. And with that, I'll let her introduce herself..."

The crowd turned back as one to face them. Cordelia (whose previous few months had been spent alone in space) took a brief moment to thank Quicksilver for suppressing a sudden surge of social phobia.

“Ah… hello,” Cordelia began, with a half-wave, as she gazed out across the large crowd of expectant large-eyed faces. “I’m Cordelia Vintar-ith-Vidutar Iriliselen, but Twilight Sparkle calls me ‘Moongleam’, and I hope you’ll all do the same. My people - the eldrae - sent me to find new worlds, new knowledge, and new friends out in the depths of space, and, well, here I am, and here you all are, and I certainly hope we can be friends!

That got her a brief stomp of what she supposed was the local version of applause.

"I'm sure many of you are as curious about me as I am about you," she went on, "and that such a sudden and unfortunately spectacular arrival" - a snicker ran around the room -"is likely to have raised some concerns, and so I'd be delighted to answer any questions anypony has about me, my people, my mission, or anything else.

“I’d also like to thank everypony for the wonderful hospitality I’ve been shown, and - oh – and if I might ask a favor of you all - though I’m here to learn, I’m afraid that right now, I know almost nothing about your culture or customs, so I’m almost certain to say, or do, something horrifically offensive at some point without realizing it. Please tell me straight away when I do, so that I can be sure not to do it again. I’d very much regret to hurt or offend anyone by accident.

“That’s about all I can think of —”

“— so it’s time to PARTY!” Pinkie pronked up next to them, adding in a clearly audible whisper. “This is the right kind of party, right? I know you said you liked parties and so I made you this party but then I thought you might only like some strange kinds of party like rocket parties or science parties or space parties in space —”

"I like those too, Pinkie Pie," Cordelia grinned, "but trust me. This is going to be the best kind of party."

A short while later, in a brief moment of calm and cupcake-nibbling, Cordelia was interrupted by a voice from behind:

"Are you an Ancient?"

Turning, she found herself standing eyeball-to-golden-eyeball with a mint-green unicorn, with a disturbingly wide grin and what appeared to be little sense of personal space (4).

4. This may have been slightly unfair on Cordelia's part, given that she'd already noted that ponies tended to stand much closer together than her people and had adjusted her social distance expectations accordingly. On the other hand, Lyra was standing really close.

"Well, I'm a hundred and twenty-six," Cordelia replied while stepping back, "but I've never thought of that as being particularly ancient. Not even old, really."

"No, not an ancient, an Ancient! They came from the stars in ancient times according to legend - before Equestria, before Discord, before the Three Tribes left the old homeland - and grew huge cities of living crystal and steel. All lost now. We learned so much from them! Some say the old gods were made from stories about them. Are you one?"

"No, not as -"

"Lyra!" An exasperated earth pony with a bicolored mane trotted over to them. "Don't bother the visitor with your wild theories."

Lyra's ears were flattened to her head. "But Bonnie, she might be -"

"Here to study Equestria today! She's not here to listen to your old mare's tales and wild conjecture! And besides," the newcomer's voice softened, almost too quiet for Cordelia to hear, "I don't want you to be disappointed again."

"Actually," Cordelia coughed, "I'm very interested in the theories of - I'm sorry, I didn't get your name?"

The unicorns ears perked back up, and the impossible grin, if anything, widened. "Lyra. Lyra Heartstrings, amateur archaeologist. And the grumpy one is Bon-Bon, of Bon-Bon's Bon Bons."

"Well, Lyra Heartstrings, I - wait, seriously?"

Bon-Bon smirked. "No-one ever forgets it."

"Hah! Anyway, what I was saying was that while I'm not one, I'm pretty sure you're right about the existence of the Ancients. Because the first thing I noticed at breakfast this morning was that I recognized the food, and many of the plants are the same, and if no-one had been to both our worlds in the past, that should be impossible - and we definitely had Ancients of our own, the Precursors. So I'm going to go out on a limb and hypothesize that our Precursors and your Ancients might be the same race, and even if they aren't, I'd love to hear what you've got (2)."

Lyra was now practically prancing in place, glowing with glee. "Yes! Yes yes yes! Wonderful! I'll get my notes for you -"

"- after the party."

"Oh, horseapples."

2. "In this universe, the role of Daniel Jackson will be played by Lyra Heartstrings."