• Published 13th May 2016
  • 4,143 Views, 219 Comments

Friendship is Sufficiently Advanced - Cordial Nova



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

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IV. Awakening

Cordelia, her muse(1) murmured in her thoughts. This would be a good time to wake up. Bodily integrity has been sufficiently restored. Also -

Ugh. Six more minutes.

- and also, you have company now, it finished, accompanying its words with a brief surge of epinephrine.

1. The implanted AI that serves most Imperial citizen-shareholders as companion, aide, assistant, and body manager.

Dismissing a collection of mesh-connectivity failure warnings, she opened her eyes to the sight of a ceiling painted a cool blue, while the phenolic scent of what had to be antiseptics tickled her nostrils. The not-quite-universal-but-typical signs of a hospital, she concluded. Probably. It could also be a laboratory, she supposed, but from what Princess Luna had said, it seemed unlikely that dissection was the next step on the list, and she could feel bandages wrapping her forehead and parts of her back.

Raising her head as subtly as she could, Cordelia looked around the room. It did indeed look like a hospital room. She was lying diagonally across two beds pushed together, and could see both a small table with a vase of flowers and some sort of monitoring equipment shoved back against the wall to make room. And, too, conversing in some breathy language that flitted up and down in pitch, were three of the strange sevdra - sevdramorphic exotics, she reminded herself. None of whom fit the pattern of the one she'd first met, nor quite of the same size: one cyan with a spectacular rainbow mane, hanging in the air with forelegs crossed and wings beating improbably slowly - where's the downdraft?, she noted to herself - but without the horn she'd noticed before; one white with mane pink and gathered up, wearing a white cap with a red symbol, but with neither wings nor a horn; and the last -

...running from the wreckage of the ship and the explosion she knew would come, seeing a figure at the edge of the trees, yelling a warning that wouldn't be understood...

"Romúrcé. Anan romúrcévár hál! Mekt..." (2)

Her words caught their attention, and all three of them turned towards her. It seemed, though, that that was all they did, no-one seemed to understand her words. Both White and Purple spoke to her in that breathy language, but she couldn't make any sense of it. Perhaps only Luna spoke Trade (3) (and how?), but then why send her here?

2. "Purple. You are purple! What..."

3. The Royal Canterlot Voice also sneers at the necessity for translation. At least when Luna's using it.

Back to the first contact checklist, then.

Cordelia lifted her arms off the bed, and positioned them carefully in front of her, clearly visible, and began to clap.

Clap.

Clap.

Clap clap.

Clap clap clap.

Clap clap clap clap clap.

Cyan and White didn't seem to be following her, but Purple looked excited, as far as she could tell. And then Purple stomped on the floor with one hoof, eight times in succession.

Perfect. Now we're getting somewhere. Okay, prime series next -

Cordelia's thoughts were interrupted as Purple's horn began to glow, and some small object - wrapped in a matching glow of that same purple shade - floated out of Purple's saddlebags and over to her, dropping into her lap. It was a small pendant, a finely worked silver crescent wrapping a cabochon-cut blue-black stone, strung on a fine silver chain. She reached to pick it up -

"- all that supposed to mean, Twilight?"

"It's the Fillinacci sequence! She's showing us that she's sapient, and asking us if we -"

Cordelia's finger jerked back from the stone.

Well. That's interesting. Especially since there's no way they could have a translation matrix for the language, especially since the only knowledge of it in the system is in... my brain. Or the ship's, if it wasn't completely destroyed. But - she looked up at a row of expectant faces - the only way to find out is to keep talking. So file this under 'big angelic powers', and worry about it later.

She picked up the necklace, and dropped the chain around her neck.

"- because it's one of the only things we might have in common, Rainbow! We don't know if -"

Cordelia coughed gently to interrupt. "Pardon my interruption, but - does this work in both directions? Can you understand me now?"

Purple bounced a little, and clapped her front hooves together. "Yes! It works!" Then, more calmly, she added, "I'm Twilight Sparkle. And you are?"

"First, if I may - my ship, the explosion, did it hurt anypony?" Cordelia blinked at hearing herself say that word, then carried on. "Is it still burning? There are some -"

It was Cyan who answered. "Nah. Just a few singed feathers and a couple of hard landings, but we got the fire out fast. How come you crashed, anyway?"

"I didn't exactly crash. Istry's a pure starship, and not supposed to ever land. When Princess Luna translocated her here - well, she can't support her own weight in this much gravity. Just sitting on the ground snapped her in half."

"Oh!" That was Purple - Twilight Sparkle - again. "I'm sorry. I'm sure the Princess didn't mean to -"

"Either way, that doesn't matter right now. But there's some dangerous equipment inside, if you're not familiar with it, and everypony should stay well clear of the rings at the back. Even with the drive off, they'll still give off dangerous radiation - does that translate?"

"We have guards keeping everyone away already, but I'll make sure they're told. So - you were going to tell us who you were?"

Cordelia gathered the top of the sheet up around her, and executed as a good a half-bow as she could manage sitting up. "I am Cordelia Vintar-ith-Vidutar Iriselen, first-in scout of the Imperial Exploratory Service, of the Empire of the Star. It is an honor to meet you, Twilight Sparkle."

"And what are you doing in Equestria, huh?" Cyan broke in. "Scouting for some sort of alien invasion? Because -"

"Rainbow Dash!", Twilight interrupted. "That's not -"

"What? She could be!"

Before the argument could escalate - and she noticed the white-coated near sevdra's ears had flattened - Cordelia held up one hand. "It's a fair question. As I told Princess Luna, I'm on a mission of peaceful exploration. I do want to learn all I can about your world - that's what the Exploratory Service does, seeks out alath ap dalínef, knowledge and friendship, among the stars. I can't prove to you that I don't have any sinister motives. I could give you my word, but we've only just met. So I'll just have to ask you to trust me a little, and hope I'll earn more."

"And you're just telling us all this?"

Cordelia shrugged. "Well, we could - if it hadn't been for Princess Luna sending me here, it would have been a proper follow-up team - sneak around and try and observe you stealthily, but that would just make us look like a bunch of devious alírvelv (4) up to no good. Then people get paranoid, and accuse each other of being spies," and here she was surprised to see Rainbow blush slightly (5), "and so on, and it all becomes very unpleasant. It's very hard to walk up and introduce yourself after that. I mean, we're looking for new friends out here, but even if we can't have that, we'd like to at least not make new enemies."

They looked at each other for a few moments. Then Rainbow nodded, once, and turned to Twilight.

"I'm gonna go make sure the guards know to stay back."

Then she turned, and flew out the door. There was an awkward pause.

4. A near-eel critter with the chromatophores of a octopus or chameleon. Its sneakiness is exactly the reason why you shouldn't go swimming in eel country.

5. Not least that it was visible through her coat.

"So, Cordelia Vintar-ith-Vidutar Iriselen," Twilight said, the translator fuzzy, as if her name was hard to pronounce in Equestrian, "... your name is very long. Is there a short form? And what does it mean - or do your names have meanings, like ours?"

"There is: Vintar-ith-Vidutar is my family name, Either of the other two will do for short: Cordelia's my personal name, and Iriselen my, um, who-you-are-right-now name. And meanings... Hm. About as close as you can get in current words would be 'Heart-keeper Glass-shaper Moon-gleam'. Use one of those if it's easier to say, if you like."

"Moongleam?"

"That'll work. A dear friend gave me that name when I joined the Service, so it's apt."

"I was going to ask you what sort of things you wanted to learn about?"

"Anything and everything, given the chance. Why your sun and moon don't behave like anyone else's, for a start. But then there's science and art and technology and culture and literature and... well, how for the sweet love of aerodynamics was your friend hovering like that!? And, of course, I'll answer any questions you might have about us, as well. It's only," Cordelia fumbled for the right word, "equitable."

Twilight's ears perked up at that. "Are you feeling up to walking? The -"

The white-coated near-sevdra coughed, which sent her ears back down again. "Oh. Sorry. This is Nurse Redheart, who has been looking after you here."

"Well. Never having seen any creature like you before, we couldn't do much for you but clean and bandage your wounds."

Cordelia offered another half-bow. "That will have helped a great deal. I am indebted for your care."

"Before Twilight takes you away, you need to come back here tomorrow to have those bandages changed."

"I will do that. And - I do not know if you are responsible for this here, but while I've been checked and treated to make sure that I don't accidentally bring any diseases from my world to yours, I wasn't originally supposed to land, so I didn't have the rigorous course of treatments. If you want to take blood and tissue samples to make sure that I'm safe to be around, I'm amenable."

"I'll tell the doctors that for tomorrow. You take care of yourself, now, and try not to have any more accidents."

"Princess Luna," Twilight said as the nurse left, "asked me to answer your questions and learn more about you. I thought" - she shuffled her hooves a little on the floor - "it would be easiest if you stayed with me for now, at the Golden Oaks Library. Is that all right? I -"

"Wait, you live in a library?"

"Um... yes?"

A beatified expression spread itself over Cordelia's face.

"Oh, you and I are going to get along just splendidly."