• Published 20th Jun 2012
  • 3,622 Views, 95 Comments

N7 - Operation: HARMONIZER - Useless Machine

Six N7 marines find themselves in Equestria post Battle for Earth. Hilarity(?) ensues.

  • ...

Not One Shot Fired

Twilight and her friends backed away, preparing themselves to fight as the manticore finished roaring, beginning to slowly close in on them. It purred in an almost sensual way that seemed to let slip its comfort in the current situation, as it pawed at the ground, preparing to charge at its prey. The Elements grit their teeth and prepared for another long, drawn-out battle simply to survive, and as they saw Twilight’s horn charge up a spell they hoped that it would be able to faze the manticore long enough for them to split up and surround it.

Instead, they were momentarily surprised when Twilight teleported everypony directly next to the shuttle.

“…I was expecting a fight,” muttered Pinkie.

“That was rather convenient,” agreed Rarity. “Still. Thank you for the save, Twilight.”

“Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” whispered Mart. “Uh… it appears the purple one is capable of self-translocation.”

“They can teleport?” came the incredulous cry through the radio.

“Well, unless there’s some miasma that’s messing with my mind… Hitman, you saw that, right?”

“Affirmative. Unknown entity used area-of-effect teleportation to attempt to escape from the manticore.”

“Then I guess that settles that,” replied Martilus. His attention returned to the aliens.

The manticore growled on the other side of the ravine, angry that its prey had cheated and escaped. Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, was ecstatic - so much so as to blow a raspberry at it. While the manticore was significantly more animalistic than the ponies that had eluded its jaws, it was smart enough to know when it was being mocked, and it roared.

“Sucker! Look at him, girls! He’s mad that he can’t cross the ravine to get to us!” taunted Rainbow Dash, unaware that this was only making the manticore even more angry. It was seeing red now – it was mad enough to go beyond reason to kill its targets.

Springing up and forwards with grace that seemed to contrast with its brute strength, the Manticore for a moment almost looked as though it would not make it over the ravine... and then it flapped its wings, and landed directly in front of the Elements.

“Aheheheheh,” awkwardly laughed Rainbow Dash, “I think he’s just… just mad now…”

“The beast just jumped the ravine,” supplied Martilus.

“Copy that, Aleph Six. No interference – am I clear?”

The thought of saving them tugged at Martilus. He could do something – he could save those people – but at the same time, Sam had given him an order, and usually he wasn’t without fault. “Clear as crystal, Aleph One. Besides, now we can watch how they fight.” Martilus activated his battle recorder.

The Elements quickly split up and surrounded the manticore – all save Fluttershy, who decided to retreat immediately, as fighting wasn’t her forte. Twilight swooped up into the air, charging up a bolt of magic and loosing it at the manticore, which screeched at the impact before attempting to bat her out of the air. Twilight swooped to the side, dodging its paw, and firing another bolt of magic into its underbelly. The manticore responded by lunging again, an attack she barely dodged. Deciding she’d leave the acts of derring-do to the truest fan of said series, Twilight flew back and continued to empty bolts of magic into the attacker. She never tried to grip it with telekinesis – the manticore wasn’t staying still enough.

Rainbow Dash, in the meanwhile, had circled around, attempting to deliver a high-speed punch – which turned out to be her downfall as the manticore batted her aside, and she careened into Twilight, knocking both of them down. As the manticore lunged towards them, it got a taste of its own medicine – being blasted to the side a good ten hooves as Pinkie stood there, the party cannon she produced smoking, and confetti littering the forest.

“The pink one just pulled a cannon from… uh…” Martilus took a second to raise himself up a little, as if to try and gain some clairvoyance. With none to be found, he returned to barely leaning out. “Looks like nowhere, sir.”

A fucking cannon? She just spontaneously manifested a fucking cannon?” Sam was absolutely livid, something that wasn’t helped by Hitman’s absolutely deadpan “Affirmative”.

Heavy krogan laughter rumbled over the comnet. “I like these aliens! They sound pretty hardcore.”

“Alright.” Sam had regained his composure in the time Barx had taken to comment. “Mart, Hitman, keep observing. If they win that fight hopefully they’ll spend time celebrating their victory - time we can use to get the hell away from them.”

“Copy that,” Martilus said, but he wasn’t really paying attention. He had to take a moment to lower his head, transfixed as he was by the battle.

As the combat raged on, flurries of kicks, paw swipes, attempted bites, and bolts of magic sailing around everywhere, Twilight and Rainbow Dash recovered from their mid-air collision. Twilight turned to look at her erstwhile partner with scorn. “Rainbow, you dived right at it, didn’t you?”

“Of course, what else was I supposed to do?”

Twilight growled, though you couldn’t hear it over the twin cracks of Applejack kicking the manticore into a tree – one when hoof met head, the other when head met wood. “Dash! How about this! Don’t go for a single, decisive hit! You’re fast-reacting and fast in general, try getting in there and hitting him a lot!”

Dash blinked. The gears in her head turned as slowly as they usually did. “Huh. I’mma try that.” Dash shot off, leaving a trail of rainbow behind her. She zipped in at the manticore, but seemed to zig-zag and stutter her movement – leaving the manticore confused as to when she would actually arrive – before she triumphantly ducked under the manticore’s swiping paw and started delivering a series of rapid-fire strikes, with Pinkie providing the appropriate commentary in the form of “ATATATATATATATATATATATA…”

A fucking rainbow trail-

“Sam,” came the voice of Dari’Nava, “calm your shit. You sound like you’re going to have a heart attack. Take ten seconds to take stock. Martilus, keep watching.”

There were a few moments of sputtering silence, before Sam finally nodded. “Nix on the reports for now, I suppose. Keep watching, Mart. Let me know if they do anything especially egregious so I can die on the spot, would ya?”

“Wouldn’t dream of not keeping you informed,” deadpanned Martilus, as he continued to record the battle.

Having stunned the manticore, Rainbow Dash took the moment to charge back a strong buck. With a single, decisive blow, Rainbow Dash launched the Manticore onto its back, and then continued her full force assault by pouncing on it and continuing to hit it. This only enraged the manticore, and Dash’s felt a peculiar pain in her flank. Turning around, she noticed that the manticore had just stung her - and it had injected lethal venom into her hind muscles.

Dash yelped in pain and pulled away, but she already felt the world getting blurry. She struggled to stand, but the damage had been dealt.

“Rainbow Dash!” shouted five voices at the same time, as the manticore seized the opportunity and smacked Dash into the ground. The pegasus brutally rammed into the earth, and was only saved when Applejack delivered another well-timed buck to the stomach that caused the manticore to go sailing into a nearby stone column. Applejack immediately headed over to check on Rainbow Dash, who was beginning to go awfully pale. Her breathing was beginning to labor.

“I can take her away!” shouted Applejack, but the manticore was fast on track to her as soon as she’d said that. Knowing there was only one way to stop it, Twilight prepared a shield spell, her horn glowing as she cast the spell and dove in front of the manticore, hoping to stop it. The manticore crashed into the shield at full tilt, and Twilight managed to slow it down for a moment before the shield broke and it bowled her over. The scorpion tail thwacked her in the head - by no means a lethal strike, but it put her out cold.

Pinkie ran forwards, producing a mallet that had previously seen use at the Ponyville Fair two weeks ago and ramming it into the underside of the manticore’s head, a hollow crack and a scream resulting as the manticore took a moment to step back, its jaw broken. Rarity followed that up with a beam of pearlescent light, causing an even higher-pitched screech of pain as it swung blindly at Pinkie, who seemed to outright flash from one spot to the next to dodge. Fluttershy could only watch helplessly from the sidelines.

“Ooh. You see that, Hitman?”

Hitman stared on with calculated precision. “Affirmative. The blue entity seems to have been poisoned, judging by how the color is draining from her coat.”

“Coat?” Martilus quirked an eyebrow – an involuntary response, given he was still in a full battle suit – but Hitman had picked up on his curiosity. “Yes. Zooming in on each member before the current battle started has confirmed they have a coat of fur, though it seems short. Leathery.”

Martilus quietly hummed in response, and his attention turned back to the fight. As much as it pained him to admit it, this had gotten awfully interesting and dramatic. I’d kill for some chips right now, he thought, but then his stomach rumbled. He decided food probably wasn’t the appropriate thing to focus on at the moment.

Pinkie continued to artfully dodge as Applejack managed to successfully leave the battlefield, where she promptly laid Rainbow Dash by a tree. In a moment that could easily be seen as something far more lewd as it actually was, she attempted to suck what she could of the venom out of Rainbow’s wound, interrupted only when Pinkie slammed into the tree next to her, several baby chickens appearing around her head.

“Pinkie?” stated Applejack in disbelief, as the farm mare spat venom – and blood – to the side.

“I tried to butt heads…”

Applejack stared back on at the field. Twilight was knocked out, Dash had poison coursing through her veins, and Fluttershy was a no-show – with Pinkie out of commission, that left her and Rarity to fight off the manticore. Her heart dropped into her stomach, but her resolve quickly strengthened. She’d win for her friends.

Left with no choice, Applejack returned to action.

Martilus stared on in horror. A veteran turian Sentinel, he’d seen quite the amount of battles. And this one had quickly performed a U-turn because of a single decisive event. With only two versus the massive beast fighting, which was battling through its clearly evident and high level of pain, it was clear they wouldn’t last much longer.

Something drew at his heart. His trigger finger itched in turn, and against all better judgement, he activated the comlink. “…Sam. We need to intervene if they’re going to-“

“Didn’t you fucking hear me, Aleph Six? NO. INTERVENTION. We cannot disrupt their civilization through our discovery – we don’t even know how advanced they are-”

“And? Our shuttle, with an active distress signal, a recording, and an open door wouldn’t 'disrupt their civilization'?” Martilus wasn’t even sure why he was arguing with Sam, but he felt all of his anger and rage – all of it that he had kept down during the War – start to bubble up. “Listen, Sam. I don’t want to disrupt their civilization, I don’t think anyone wants to. But they already knew we were here. They knew aliens of some sort existed, the fucking door was left open. You couldn’t have seen that coming, I didn’t, hell, Hitman didn’t either.”

He paused for only a moment to watch as the white one was slapped into a tree, falling limply to the ground. “I’m getting ready to intervene. Hitman, I’ll distract it with suppressing fire. You lay into it with your Javelin, we’ll take it out.” Hitman made no move as Martilus checked his Revenant.

Sam had finally seemed to recover. “They’re not – but - we don’t even know if they’re civilians or military! Martilus, for all we know they could be fucking axe murderers getting their just desserts.”

His patience finally breaking, and with no more heed for whether or not they’d hear him – after all, they were probably going to die very soon – Martilus raised his voice. “If they were axe murderers they’d have blood on them that wasn’t from this fight, and if they were military they’d be wearing armor of some sort and carrying weapons! They’re civilians, dammit! How much fight do you think a civilian’s seen?”

“Hitman. Restrain Mart.”

Hitman made no move.

“Sam.” Martilus took a moment. “I’m going to die in three days if this planet’s levo. And chances are it is – you know how rare dextro species are. Saving them will curry favor with the locals. They’d have found us anyways – teleportation, blasts of energy, they probably have some form of radar, because it damn sure looks to me like they’re using magic.”

There was a faint cry of pain. Martilus didn’t even need to lean over cover to check who that was – it was the last combatant. They had lost the fight – and if he didn’t act quickly – would soon lose their lives.

Please. Let me have this.”

The line was silent for a moment, before a digitized sigh finally wormed its way through the air. “Alright, Mart. Hitman. What do you think the probably of them finding us is?”

“Calculating…” muttered Hitman. However, the geth, surprisingly, seemed to be jolted out of his own little world – Martilus felt a bolt travel up his spine as he heard the hoarse screech;


Fluttershy had heard the yelling as the fight continued on, and it jolted her out of the state of horror she experienced as, one-by-one, her friends were beaten into the ground by the manticore. She slowly began to back away and head towards the castle. She couldn't make out who was yelling or why, but she hoped they could help.

Of course, however, those thoughts were quickly drowned out as she turned back and saw Applejack get pimp slapped twenty feet. The farmpony looked entirely out of it; and just as quickly as fear filled her heart at the sight, it quickly began to molt into something else. Something far more primal. Something that would have scared her if it hadn’t already caught her up in itself.

Pure, unending rage.

She stared down the manticore as it closed in on the hapless Applejack. It was three times her size and adorned with claws, teeth, and a terrifying roar. It thought that it could hurt her friends. It thought it could kill them. It thought that it could poison Rainbow Dash and get away with it..

It thought so horribly, horribly wrong.

HEY!” screamed Fluttershy, and the shout caught the manticore’s attention. It lowered its paw and stared at its new foe. It had multiple broken bones and bruises, but even in its weakened state it turned to regard its foe. Its eyes held hunger, but they quickly widened when they realized exactly what Fluttershy’s held.

“YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST WALTZ ON IN BEHIND US AND EAT US FOR A SNACK?” Fluttershy began marching towards the manticore, WELL, YOU’RE WRONG! PONIES ARE NOT SNACKS! MY FRIENDS ARE NOT SNACKS! AND YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE! YOU’RE A BIG! FAT! MEANIE!!” The manticore seemed to reel back from each verbal stab as though they were physical impacts.

“You know what you need to do?” asked Fluttershy.

The manticore held baited breath, hoping that this demon would leave it alone, hoping against all hope that it wouldn’t be consumed alive.


The manticore screeched in pure fear. Faster than it had ever tried to run during combat it bolted over to Rainbow Dash, and carefully picked her up with its scorpion tail. Laying it on her back, it sailed over the ravine and sprinted off.

Fluttershy, in the meanwhile, slowly calmed down, taking in and letting out deep breaths. What were those voices, though? Her head turned back up towards the castle.

Martilus had been on a hundred battlefields and killed a thousand enemies. He’d done it all, from picking off a geth from one thousand metres to killing a Banshee with an omni-blade, mere milliseconds away from being impaled and neuro-shocked to death by the former asari husk. There was nothing that could faze him – in fact, even Husks were known to run in fear.

Yet as he sat there, he stared in total disbelief of what was going on. The yellow alien – the one that had ran away, the one that had stayed on the sidelines – had seemed to grow a pair of balls. Upon doing so it immediately shouted down the massive creature, and ordered it to collect one of its friends (he guessed the one with the polychrome hair that had gotten poisoned), and take it to be cured of its poison.

And the most perplexing thing, the one thing that really turned the turian’s noodle, was that the alien had done so in Galactic Standard. An easily understood language, that everyone knew. It didn’t answer any questions. In fact, there never were any to begin with. All it did was just raise questions Martilus didn’t feel like answering.

“Aleph Six? Come in, Aleph Six, is everything okay out of there?” His mental ministrations came to a harsh halt when Sam attempted to contact him, and he immediately tapped into the comnet. “Aleph One, this is Six, yeah. Sorry about that, uh… it would appear that one of the aliens has shouted down the monster.”

The line went quiet, as it had the habit of doing. Martilus could hear Sam’s slowly eroding sanity through the static. “You’re fucking kidding.”

Martilus immediately opened up his omni-tool. “I’ve been recording everything since the beast appeared. Give me a few seconds to upload the footage to you all.”

“Hinfax-Sentinel,” broke the voice of Hitman, “I have already done that. I have also been taking optical footage and have uploaded it in organic-consumable format.”

Martilus barely stopped himself from rolling his eyes – not only was the effect nonexistent under a helmet, but it wasn’t as if the geth would even care anyways. Hitman barely understood sarcasm. “Thanks, Hitman. Anything else you’d like to make me aware of?”

“The yellow alien is directly behind you.”

“Oh, ha ha,” responded Martilus, “real funny joke, Hitman. You’ve finally come to a consensus on humor?”

“You know, you should listen to your friends. For all you know, they could be right,” came a voice from directly behind him that sounded exactly like the yellow alien.

Martilus took his sweet time turning around so that he could compose something of note. These words would be noted as the very first thing said from aliens to whatever these beings were, and they needed to be historic. They needed to be momentous. They needed to be something worthy of rememberance for as long as history was recorded. In fact, they might even remember him – and he couldn’t go and just trip up over himself, now could he? Sure, it may have been his fault that-

“Excuse me, Mr. White Alien, is your friend okay?” asked the yellow alien. Before Martilus could think to shush him Hitman had replied, helpful as always.

“Hinfax-Sentinel is likely attempting to compose memorable words for your species’s first recorded contact with extraterrestrial beings.”

Martilus’s eye twitched. “Memorable words, that you just said, Hitman.”

Hitman seemed to shrink back a bit, as it understood what it had just done. “My apologies, Hinfax-Sentinel, but I believed that if we kept the alien waiting for an answer it may have become offended or confused. Surely you would agree that not botching First Contact takes higher priority than memorable first words.”

“He has a point, you know,” chimed in the yellow alien. “If I were in this sort of situation I would much rather focus on ensuring everyone is calm and happy so that nothing bad happens.”

Great. I’m getting tag-teamed by a never-before-seen alien species and a robot. Martilus waded in his frustration for a moment, before he decided to pull the plug. “I’ve got a couple of friends who are exploring this castle. Mind if I call them back up?” he requested.

“Oh, certainly,” replied the yellow alien. “Though, if I can ask a question, would you and Mr. White Alien please help me in treating my friends? They’re surely hurt badly, and two extra sets of hooves…” It paused for a moment, as if to stare at their hands. “…or paws, will help greatly.”

“Give me one second, I need to let them know about this, okay?” With an almost diabetic noise of affirmation from the yellow alien (whom Martilus was half-sure was female), he immediately tapped into the squad communications network. “So, Aleph One. How’s life down in the castle?”

“Treacherous. We just met back up and we’re stuck in this labyrinthine complex of pure bullshit. How about you?”

Martilus steeled himself. “You know those aliens from before? One of them just initiated First Contact. And then tag-teamed me with Hitman. It speaks Galactic Basic.”

Martilus waited ten seconds, then twenty, then thirty. He looked over to the alien, which was discussing things with Hitman – so far they had seemed to get along pretty well. As it turned out, the yellow alien was a she, and part of a species of “Equestrians” – she had the name of Fluttershy. They were currently discussing the stupid, stupid odds of having somehow been able to entirely disregard the language barrier, and Hitman’s nature as artificial life – something that was entirely mind-blowing to Fluttershy.

It was a minute of waiting in when Martilus quietly tapped Fluttershy on the shoulder. “I haven’t gotten a response, and chances are I’m going to get screamed into the ground for disobeying orders and letting you all know we existed. It was the yelling, wasn’t it?”

Fluttershy nodded. Martilus sighed. “Alright. Take me to them and I’ll help out. Hitman… just… do whatever you want, I guess. You’re the good guy here, so you get carte blanche.”

Hitman made no response, and Martilus set out.

Under the ground, as the rest of Aleph Squad gathered, Sam didn’t seem to be happy. Sam wasn’t happy at all. Before anyone had the chance to query him as to why, he answered their questions for him.

“Alright. So. You know how I ordered Martilus to not get found by aliens? Well, I just learned five seconds ago that he got found by fucking aliens.”

“Sounds like ol’ Mart, alright,” mused Barx. “They probably heard him arguing with you.”

“If that stupid motherfucker had just stayed back like I told him to-“

“And what?” Yelena stared at Sam, five hundred and twenty-two years of asari life boring him right through the eyes. “If you had been the one up there, I guarantee you that you would have been chomping at the bit to assist. All of us would have. The only one that wouldn’t is Hitman.”

“Alright.” Sam took a deep breath in, then a deep breath out. “You know what? Hitman sent us the battle-logs, so I’m just gonna… I’m just gonna review them. You guys wanna join in?”

“I’m game.” “Why not?” “Sure.”

Opening his omni-tool, Sam noted that the catacomb was becoming significantly lighter than before as the rest of the Alephs opened theirs. Quickly finding the videos he opened them, sat down against the stone wall, and began reviewing them.

As he watched the battle he began to cool a bit. Martilus had a point in that argument – they had left an open door, active electronics, and a distress signal. And most likely footprints that lead into the castle. They’d probably have taken the Kodiak somewhere to disassemble it and see how it ticked; provided they didn’t just assume there were interlopers and come to find them directly.

Could they evade them, given their use of what seemed to be magic, as there was no other explanation for the blasts of directed energy that sprouted from some of them? How long would they have lasted?

As he stared at the disturbingly cute inhabitants fighting, he had another internal question; were they dextro-amino acid creatures, or levo-amino? He felt like he didn’t like either answer – too many people would die on both ends for his tastes. Sam desperately wanted to strike a wall, but the act would just be pointless violence that solved nothing. There seemed to be no easy way out, no way to win.

They had been doomed from the moment the Ottawa exploded.

He was barely paying attention to the now rapidly down-turning fight. As his and Mart’s shouts entered his ears he was too lost in the grimness of the situation to even care. It was only when Barx harshly shoved him onto the ground that he was dragged out of his daydreams.

“You okay, sir?”

“Yes,” replied Sam. It was a lie. But sometimes you had to do that to remain in command. Morale was always more important than your feelings.

Sam decided that it would probably be in his best interests if he didn’t agonize over what could have been done. What mattered now is that they had been found – something that was likely to have happened anyways – and that they needed to take command of the situation and ensure it went over as smoothly as it could.

“Alright. Alephs, we’re headed topside. If they know we’re here we’ve got no reason to hide from them. Let’s just hope they’re peaceful.”

“So, you already know my name,” began Fluttershy, as the two of them headed for the Kodiak at Martilus’s request – the shuttle still had a first aid kit that he could hopefully use to help assist in healing up her friends. “What’s your name?”

“Martilus Hinfax, at your service. Probably sounds weird, but alien names are sort of like that,” answered Martilus.

“It does sound… sharp, somehow,” concurred Fluttershy. “But I don’t think that matters. It’s nice to meet you, Martilus.”

“I just wish it were under better circumstances,” the turian pined. Fluttershy emitted a quiet hum of affirmation, then looked over Martilus, her eyes taking in every detail of his armor. “Um… can I ask a question?”


Fluttershy looked him over. “Is that armor, or your skin?”

“S’armor,” replied Martilus. “Keeps me safe. You can probably guess from that that I’m a soldier, huh?”

“Yeah.” Martilus braced himself for the question many inevitably asked – “have you killed somebody” – but surprisingly, it never came. Instead, Fluttershy decided to focus on the land they were in. “Well, you won’t need to worry much about fighting. Besides the occasional incident, Equestria is rather peaceful.”

“Thank the spirits for that, then. I won’t horrify you with the details, but…” Martilus turned to face Fluttershy. “Suffice to say, I’ve been a little busy the past two weeks. A rest would be nice about now.”

The unlikely duo had reached the Kodiak, and Fluttershy waited as Martilus gripped onto the lip of the shuttle’s exit and pulled himself up and in. “You haven’t been getting any chances for shore leave?” pitched the pegasus.

“One day,” replied Martilus, as he hoisted himself up into the Kodiak. “The nature of what we’ve been fighting sort of precludes any real form of breaks. But that’s enough about my line of work, I’m sure it’s boring.” The turian, as he began unstrapping the medical kit, idly noted that to keep him in line of sight Fluttershy had decided to use her wings, and was currently in flight.

“Um…” began Fluttershy. For a moment she faltered, but then pressed onwards. “Could you… could you please take off your helmet? It might not be good if we’re treating one of my friends and the first thing they see is… that.

“Certainly,” went Martilus. “Just do me a favor and set this first aid kit down onto the ground while I undo the helmet latches.” Fluttershy drifted into the Kodiak, and Martilus pressed the thing into her hooves. The yellow pegasus sank for a moment, but quickly headed down to the ground and placed the first aid kit onto the loose dirt.

Martilus, meanwhile, popped his helmet’s hermetic seals and pulled his helmet off, dropping to the ground. Fluttershy stared at him, her eyes widening at his… rather exotic look. It was like ruggedness taken to eleven. She quickly realized that he might have caught on to what she was thinking.

Martilus proved her right. “Yeah, I get that look sometimes. We’re pretty spiky. Not my fault that so many of you are soft and pudgy.” He leaned down and picked up the first aid kit. “So, Fluttershy,” he began, testing the name out. He still couldn’t believe someone had seriously been named that, but kept it to himself – the ridiculousness of alien cultures didn’t tend to make a nice icebreaker. “You have a job?”

“Oh, yes!” answered Fluttershy, as the two of them headed along towards their first patient. “I look after-“

“HOLD IT!” Both of them turned around, Martilus spotting another pony, color of orange, wearing a hat that didn’t look very happy, and Fluttershy spotting Applejack, who looked a little tetchy and understandably so. “Fluttershy, who’s this you’ve gone and found?”

“Oh, him?” Fluttershy smiled, trying to get Applejack to calm down a bit. “This is my new friend, Martilus. He’s an alien.”

Applejack blinked once, then twice. She temporarily grasped her hat and pulled it down over her eyes, then raised it, expecting the spiky thing that was next to Fluttershy to not be there when she saw it again. She desperately prayed she was hallucinating, but her prayers went unanswered as the turian she laid eyes on continued existing directly in front of her.

“I take it she’s not reacting very well,” observed Martilus, as Applejack continued to try and work through what she was seeing.

“Well, you are an alien. It’s not like we don’t meet a lot of things that can talk, but as I was going to say, my job involves working with animals. I take care of them at my house near this forest, the Everfree. I can understand what they all say – so I guess I’m a little better equipped to handle the existence of aliens.”

“Ya know,” commented Applejack, “I was gonna ask why y’all were bein’ so calm about this, but that was actually a pretty sensible answer.”

“I might as well give you an answer, then. Just for the sake of honesty. I was…” Martilus fidgeted a bit. “I was kind of watching your fight with the manticore.”

“You were watching?” Applejack was incredulous, but her shock quickly gave way to annoyance. “Then why didn’t y’all help out? Rainbow Dash might be dead because of you!”

“We had a valid reason,” replied Martilus. “What’s the most advanced weapon you’ve seen so far?”

Applejack thought for a moment. “Prob’ly a cannon, somethin’ like Pinkie Pie’s.”

“I have, on my person, a weapon that is… similar to a cannon, in much the same way a sword is similar to a club, that is capable of hitting a point target to five hundred metres. I use it for personal defense. True, weapons probably aren’t the best thing to bring up in these sorts of conversations, but it’s the first example of how advanced we are that I could reach of. Now, riddle me this; what would happen if you were to travel back in time a thousand years and give Pinkie’s cannon to someone who barely knew what one was? What do you think he would do?”

Applejack found she had no response.

“Exactly. I didn’t want to just leave you to a grisly fate, but destabilizing your entire civilization with technology that might be several thousand years ahead of what you’ve built is also something I didn’t want to do.”

Applejack only grew more irate. “And how do y’all know that we’d get “destabilized”?”

“Because it’s happened before,” answered Martilus. “Alright, look. I’m not interested in a fight, and quibbling about what we could have done does not solve the plight of your friends. The story of what happened before is…” He thought for a moment, then decided that at this juncture, the horror story of the Rachni War and the Krogan Rebellions was a story better saved for another day. “…Well, it’s not quite relevant to the task at hand.”

“I’d say it’s very related to your reasonin’s,” deadpanned Applejack.

Fluttershy decided to swoop in at that moment, and Martilus quietly thanked his yellow savior as the pegasus interjected. “Applejack, he can tell us the story later. It doesn’t sound like it’s a very happy one. Or a very simple one. Until then, let’s focus on helping our friends, okay?”

Applejack sighed, but relented. “Alright, fine. Just for you, Fluttershy. But ya’ll’re tellin’ me that story later. Got it?” The orange farm mare pointed at Martilus with a hoof, and he nodded. “Sure. I’ll tell you the story when we get settled in.” That only brought to mind the future. He refocused on the task at hand, compartmentalizing to avoid his fate.

After a few moments of quiet walking, they arrived at the current resting place of whom Fluttershy called “Rarity”, and Martilus and Fluttershy took a second to look her over.

“Oh, my… I believe she broke her foreleg. And she has some very deep gashes. I don’t think a bandage is going to staunch that. Martilus, can you pass me the gauze?”

Martilus had extended his arm over Rarity’s gashes, his omni-tool glowing. “One-step ahead of you.” As Fluttershy and Applejack watched, the omni-tool squirted a strange, teal blue liquid onto Rarity’s wounds, which quickly solidified.

“What’s that?” asked Applejack.

“What, the medi-gel or the omni-tool?”

Applejack blinked, the terms sailing directly over her head. Fluttershy, in the meanwhile, reared up and balanced against Martilus. She whispered a quiet “I think you should start from the basics” before dropping back down, and the turian blinked.

“Okay. This…” He brought up the omni-tool again, the haptic interface glowing around his wrist. “This is an omni-tool. It’s… It does a lot of things. I mean, a lot, I don’t have time to explain how many. But one of the things it can do is apply medicine. This particular stuff here?” He quietly poked the blue stuff in Rarity’s cuts, which offered no response. “This is medi-gel. It’s not quite medicine, but it’s the pinnacle of first aid – it clots your cuts, dulls your pain, and keeps you from dying until you can get to a doctor and seek proper treatment.”

“So it’s like a bandage?” asked Fluttershy.

“Sort of, yeah.” Martilus set down the first aid kit and handed Fluttershy the roll of gauze. “I presume you can splint her foreleg?”

Fluttershy nodded, taking the roll of gauze in her mouth. That can’t be sanitary, thought Martilus. She quickly – and with a modicum of respect for Rarity’s injury – splinted her broken foreleg, in a manner that looked strange to Martilus, but seemed to check out considering she walked on two sets of legs rather than one.

Leaning down, Martilus carefully grasped Rarity and lifted her up. The woman had some heft to her – but he was careful to take things slowly and lift properly, and within half a minute was standing. “Alright. Let’s move. By the way, uh… Applejack, you sure you’re not hurt?”

“I’m alright, thank you for asking,” responded Applejack, in a manner that seemed far too tetchy for Mart’s liking.

“I’m not trying to imply anything, Applejack, I’m just saying that you were slapped about a good twenty feet. You sure you’re-“

“I’m. Fine.” Applejack left little room to maneuver, and Martilus felt this particular alien was going to be a wall of stubborn on par with Barx. “If you say so, but I reserve the right to tell you ‘I told you so’ after you pass out. Deal?”

Applejack spat into her hoof and held it out. “Deal.” She promptly laughed on the sight of Martilus’s disgusted face, wiping the spit off on the ground as they progressed near the Kodiak.

“So. You deal with animals, Applejack does…”

“I operate Sweet Apple Acres. A massive farm, with apple trees as far as the eye can see!” Applejack, in the middle of walking, somehow was able to splay her front set of legs out to indicate just how large it was.

“Apples? Aren’t they, like, some sort of fruit?”

Applejack bristled. “You don’t know what apples are?”

“I’m an alien, Applejack,” responded Martilus. “To be honest, I’m surprised you’re speaking in a language I can understand. Give me the benefit of the doubt.”

Applejack, of course, quickly recovered. Aliens that didn’t know what apples were meant new potential customers. “Wanna try one? It’s on the hou-use~”, she sing-songed.

Martilus, in the meanwhile, noted that yet again the topic of food came up. “I’ll think about it.”

“If ya’ll’re sure,” replied Applejack. Breathing a sigh of relief at having dodged that particular bomb, Martilus continued on, reaching the Kodiak and gently lowering her down to the ground.

The process continued twice like that. The three of them would head over to one of the unconscious ponies, Fluttershy would take care of any wounds that weren’t bleeding, and Martilus would apply a liberal spritz of medi-gel to seal any open wounds before carrying them back near the Kodiak. In the process, Fluttershy and Applejack were all-too-eager to explain what their friends did for a living, seeing as that was the overall topic of conversation when it didn’t veer off course.

Rarity, the pony they first stabilized, was evidently the town’s fashion expert and custom clothing designer. Ponies didn’t place much emphasis on clothing; it was more of a personal preference and a fashion statement rather than a necessity.

“That seems strange,” commented Martilus, as he applied medi-gel to a small cut (if you could even call it that) on someone named “Pinkie Pie.”

“Well, that’s how it’s always been, really,” justified Fluttershy. “What about you? How does your species view clothing?”

“Most denizens of the galaxy wear clothing. It’s kind of, um… a… a decency thing.”

“Decency?” inquired Applejack.

Martilus gave a clear look not to push, and Applejack’s face blushed slightly, as she got the intent. “Oh, uh… okay, sure.”

No further comment was made.

As the two of them trekked back towards the Kodiak, Fluttershy revealed that Pinkie Pie was the town party pony. She planned parties for many things. A lot of things. In fact, they were very likely to be invited to a “Welcome Aliens” party within the week. She seemed to call on a infinite reserve of energy to do these things; as a potential side effect, she did a lot of things that, quite simply, couldn’t be explained.

“Like what?” asked Martilus. When he got the same look he’d given Applejack reflected back to him from the same pony, he decided to not inquire further.

The last pony they picked up, Twilight Sparkle, was a rather interesting case. There were apparently four types of ponies. “Earth ponies”, like Applejack, tended to be more in tune with the land, and had massive amounts of physical strength and endurance – explaining both Applejack bucking a two-ton predator into a wall, and Pinkie Pie’s ability to hold a party every other week. “Pegasi”, like Fluttershy, had wings, and were capable of flight as well as manipulating the weather-

“Whoa. Whoa. Wait a second, stop right there.”

Applejack and Fluttershy stared at the turian as he realized he needed to apply medi-gel. Doing so, he proceeded to get back on his original train of thought. “You’re telling me you can control weather.

“Oh, it’s not simple,” exposited Fluttershy. “What we can do is physically interact with clouds. A lot of machinery has to be constructed to allow for weather control, and it’s very complex-“

“Apologies for interrupting, but my beef isn’t with complexity, my beef is with the fact it’s not supposed to be possible. I mean, we’re capable of powered spaceflight, and we still haven’t figured out how to control weather. You’d be highly desired in the galaxy – you might even save lives.”

Moving on rather quickly, Twilight Sparkle had formerly been a member of the third class – “unicorns”. Capable of performing magic via their horns, unicorns were special purely because of what their horns let them do. Twilight, in and of herself, was a fourth kind of pony, one that was extremely rare – an “alicorn”. With the strength of an earth pony, the flight of a pegasus, and the magic powers of a unicorn, there were only four in existence – and all four were Princesses of some sort (which Martilus took to mean were leaders, or people in positions of power). This included Twilight, the Princess of Friendship.

Well… still not the biggest piece of bullshit that I’ve ever heard, thought Martilus, as he made a note to be extra careful with Twilight.

Eventually all three of them were laid side-by-side, their wounds treated for the time being. They’d need to see a doctor in Ponyville (the all-too-ridiculous name of where they lived), but they would survive until then.

Their jobs completed, Martilus finally sat back, relaxing for a moment and taking stock. As he looked up towards the castle, he finally noticed the rest of the Alephs heading out – and Hitman rejoining them.

“Remember how I said I have friends, Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy nodded, as Martilus pointed to the rapidly approaching Aleph Squad.

“There they are.”

Author's Note:

You would not believe how many iterations this went through.
A special thanks goes to Ashrytan and spu313, for being able to put up with my shit, giving me ideas, and guiding me through this ball-busting process.
There's also a little something special for you next chapter... literally next chapter, mind.