• Published 27th Jul 2016
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Harmony Among The Stars - tom117z

The ES Harmony, the pride of Princess Twilight Sparkle and Equestria's first FTL capable starship. It is due to make its maiden voyage to travel further than anypony before it, and yet its first mission... may be its last.

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4 - Distress Call

Captain's Log, July 2nd, 3382 AD.

The ES Harmony is three days into its seven day voyage to Alpha Centaur, and so far no problems have come about with the FTL Drive that my chief engineer couldn’t handle. In all, it has been a peaceful trip.

I anticipate the rest of the trip will be much the same, and the crew are eager to lay eyes on Alpha Centaur for the first time, Princess Twilight Sparkle among them. None of them have ever laid eyes on another world outside our home system before, until now that right has been left to the colonists and the colonists alone.

For now, I am to meet with her royal highness in my personal dining room. And I do so hate to be tardy.

ES Harmony, On Course To Alpha Centaur

The ES Harmony remained on course, distant stars still blurred outside the windows due to the speed of which they were moving. They had been at constant FTL for three days and it had shown no major signs of giving up the ghost, and a contented ship meant a contented crew.

The Captain could see his crew’s high spirits as he made his way through the corridors towards the captain’s mess, which was in the command dome on top of the ship a short ways away from the bridge just like his quarters, all so he was nearby should problems arise.

He nodded to the various crewmembers he passed, and they nodded back as he went by. After a small trip he reached his destination and the doors slid open to allow his entry.

The Princess was already inside, standing by the window looking out into space with a glass of wine held in her magic. The bottle was laid out on the table next to another, currently empty glass.

The Captain stood to attention as the door slid closed behind him, and Princess Twilight took a sip of her drink before turning from the window and looking towards Star Gazer.

“Captain,” she greeted. “You need not stand on ceremony for me.”

“Eh, sorry,” he said sheepishly. “Force of habit.”

The Pegasus approached the table and proceeded to pour himself a glass of wine, moving to joint Twilight by the window.

Silence reigned for several minutes between them, both just looking out into the depths of space as the ship sped by it all.

“You know,” Twilight finally said. “One of my favourite memories is of the stars.”

“Is it now?” The Captain looked up at her. “How so?”

The Princess kept looking out the window as she replied. “A little over two thousand years ago, I was the bearer of the Element of Magic, as I am sure you know.”

Star Gazer nodded. “It’s taught in pretty much all schools. History was never my favourite topic, but I still managed to pay attention.”

Twilight smiled. “Yes, well, I wasn’t the only bearer of course. Five of the greatest ponies I have ever had the pleasure of meeting represented the remaining elements, it is thanks to them I am where I am today.”

Star Gazer racked his brain, thinking back to the old history lessons he had in school as a colt. “Let me see… Fluttershy, Pinkamina Diane Pie, Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow Dash. Am I correct?”

“Full marks for you,” Princes Twilight chuckled. “Of course time claimed them all eventually. But I always held onto the memories of the times we shared, and I still hold them tight to this day. One of those memories is of a time when we went stargazing on a hill just outside Ponyville. Well… it’s all been built over now as Ponyville expanded into a city, but you must remember Ponyville was still just a town at the time.”

Twilight sighed, thinking back on times long past. “We talked about the universe, what could be out here and our hopes. Rainbow Dash quite typically fell asleep and Pinkie Pie was… Pinkie Pie. I never did manage to work that mare out, though perhaps that is for the best.”

“You miss them, don’t you?” Star Gazer softly stated.

“Of course,” Twilight responded. “Before they went I was afraid their deaths would destroy me. But friends come and go, and the times you have will never come again. Though saying that, what is important is how you spend that time, take in and savour every minute of every day. And when that time has passed by, you hold those memoires close, but look to make new ones too. That is what I do, and that is what I know they would want me to do.”

“Wise words, I will keep them in mind,” Star Gazer said.

Twilight chuckled “You don’t get to my age without becoming wise in one area or another. Anyway, dinner should be here soon.”

“You already sent for some?” The Captain asked. “What exactly?”

Twilight only grinned as right on cue the door chimed.

“Come in,” she called out.

The door slid open and some serving staff wheeled in a trolley with their meal on board. They unloaded their meals neatly onto the table, bowed to Princess Twilight and then vacated the room.

“Hay burgers?” The Captain deadpanned. “Seriously?”

“Of course!” Twilight cantered over to the table and sat down. “You have no idea how old all that posh crap gets. Nothing beats a good burger every now and then.”

The Captain raised an amused eyebrow, moving over to the table and sitting down opposite of Twilight. He examined the meal in front of him, remembering that he hadn’t actually had a hay burger since the academy. Smiling to himself, he went and took a bite out as Princess Twilight got to demolishing hers in such a way that would make any noble faint in sheer horror.

“You know, when working as a guard at your castle I only ever saw the ‘princess side’ of you. I never really had the chance to see Twilight Sparkle,” The Captain commented.

Twilight sat up in her chair and raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

He shrugged. “It’s good to see there is a pony beneath that regal mask, Twilight.”

Twilight simply smiled “Being regal comes with the job. But believe me, the things I could tell you about the others behind their own masks.”

“I can only imagine,” Star Gazer chuckled, taking another bite.

Twilight Sparkle and Star Gazer weren’t the only ones enjoying a meal, for Nimble Star and Geneser were sharing a table in the ship’s mess hall.

Nimble Star himself was coincidently having the exact same meal as his superior officer and princess, while the zebra he sat his was contented with some herbal bread.

Nimble looked disapprovingly at what Geneser was eating. “Why are you just having bread? Not really much of a meal is it?”

“What’s your deal?” Geneser glared. “I happen to be quite enjoying my meal.”

Nimble held up his hooves. “OK, I’m sorry! I suppose it’s just a zebra thing.”

“Not zebra, but the shamaness life,” she responded. “I assure you it is quite free from strife.”

“That’s nice,” he muttered. “So, how are things down in sick bay? Any fatalities yet?”

“No,” she said. “There was one nasty burn though.”

“Silver Wrench?” he asked in a deadpan.

Geneser nodded in confirmation.

Nimble Star just rolled his eyes at the information, not at all surprised their chief engineer got himself hurt.

Geneser tilted her head a little. “If I were to surmise, you don’t seem surprised.”

“Not one bit,” Nimble smirked. “Knew him in the academy. One hell of an engineer, though he would always pick up nasty scrapes and burns. That’s what happens when you love big engines as much as that guy.

“Hmm, I see. Perhaps I should talk to him about it when he is free?” she suggested.

“Don’t bother,” was the reply. “Telling him to take it easy is like talking to a brick wall with starship worthy shielding surrounding it.”

The zebra hummed, before she decided to change the subject. “What about you up at the helm? I take it the new systems haven’t been enough to whelm?”

“Nah,” he dismissed. “It’s nothing I can’t handle. FTL is largely automated anyway, and at sub-light it’s not actually all that different from flying a Celestial Class, despite the size difference.”

Nimble would have continued, but he was stopped when the captain’s voice came up over the intercom.

“All senior officers report to the bridge.”

Nimble looked up at the intercom, slightly confused. “Huh? I wonder what that is about.”

He shook his head, moving to get up. “Anyway, that’s us. Come on.”

The Bridge, A Few Minutes Earlier

“How’s the burn healing up?” Iynx asked Silver Wrench as she attended her console on the bridge.

The helm was currently being attended by a backup helmspony who took the controls when Nimble wasn’t there. Though aside from him, Iynx and a few others the bridge was pretty empty at that current time.”

“Fine,” Silver Wrench. “Still itches, but Geneser’s salve did the trick I see why they got a zebra shamaness to be chief medical officer.”

“Yeah,” Iynx agreed. “Apparently Princess Twilight had a zebra shamaness for a friend way back when, she had great respect for their abilities.”

“Oh?” Silver said questioningly. “That never came up in the history texts back in school.”

“Oh, it was there if you read far enough into them,” Iynx stated. “Zecora was her name I believe.”

Silver Wrench smirked. “My my, Iynx I never took you for a historian. I thought you were more of a shooty shooty bang bang type.”

“I’m full of surprises,” Iynx stated. “I studied a great many things before I joined the ESP. I may even have a degree or two.”

“Wait, really?”


Silver laughed in slight disbelief. “If you have, then why are you here?”

“Why do you think I am here? Me, on the first FTL capable ship venturing into the unknown rather than some other weapons officer?”

“Ah, good point,” Silver Wrench conceded.

“All griffons learn how to fight, it is part of our culture,” Iynx explained. “Learning my way around a starship’s weapons was just an extension of that.”

Iynx sighed, a hopeful smile on her face. “I’m actually up for a promotion to Commander after we get back from this mission”

“Oh really?”

“Yup. I kind of have a little bit of an arrangement with Princess Twilight going on. Should this ship work, and I continue my exemplary service, I am to be promoted to Captain and given command of the next Harmony Class ship to be built and launched in a few years’ time.”

“Captain Iynx, huh?” Silver Wrench smirked. “Nimble Star told me your description of yourself was a little… briefer before we left.”

“Ah, that,” Iynx chuckled. “The Captain already knew it all anyway. Besides, at the time I was more interested in hearing the Captain’s background than telling my own.”

Silver chuckled, looking over to the time displayed on one part of the console. “Well then! I wish you luck with the whole promotion thing, but I’m due back in engineering. Somepony has to make sure the kids don’t break anything.”

Iynx rolled her eyes. “Well, don’t let me keep you, I’m sure… that…”

Silver Wrench gave Iynx a concerned look. “Iynx, what’s wrong?” he asked, only just noticing the beeping coming from her console.

“When no crewmember is managing the communications console all comms get routed through my console instead, as there is always a crewmember on tactical just as there is on the helm,” she said, looking towards the empty communications station on the other side of the bridge.

Iynx performed a quick diagnostic to ensure what she was seeing was real. And of course, it was.

“We’re receiving a distress call.”

After Iynx had informed Captain Star Gazer of the distress call, he had immediately ordered all senior officers to the bridge. When he himself arrived with Princess Twilight they were all already gathered, Nimble Star having retaken his station.

“So, what’s this about a distress call?” The Captain asked.

“We received a distress call from an unknown source, Captain,” Iynx explained. “It’s pretty garbled, I could barely make it out.”

“So it’s not ESP?” Princess Twilight asked.

Iynx hesitated a moment, considering the implications of her answer. “Negative, ma’am.”

Captain Star Gazer and Princess Twilight shared a look of disbelief.

“Are you saying it could be alien in origin?” The Captain asked.

“Perhaps,” Iynx answered.

“Captain,” Twilight addressed. “I don’t need to tell you how major this is. And if this is an alien race and we make first contact by helping a starship in distress, it will look very good for us indeed.”

The Captain nodded, turning towards the pony now on the communications console. “Run the transmission through a few translation spells, they display it on the view screen.”

“As stated, it is pretty garbled,” the pony reminded him.

“Then display what you can.”

The officer nodded, getting to work.

After about two minutes of near silence on the bridge, the communications officer gave a huff as he finished his work on the transmission and moved to display it to the rest of those on the bridge. The screen lit up, static dominating most of it, though a vague equine shape could just be made out amid the static.

“This is ca----- --- of the sharin starship, designati-- --- ----. We are under a----- -- -------! Please… send help!”

The message repeated over again as it reached its end.

“That’s all you could get?” The Captain asked. “No matter. Helm, can you track the signal?”

“Aye,” Nimble confirmed. “It’s only a small course change, I can have us there in a couple of hours.”

Captain Star Gazer looked up at Princess Twilight. “Your highness, permission to deviate course and investigate.”

“Granted,” Twilight nodded.

Star Gazer turned back to Nimble. “All right, do it.”

“Changing course for intercept,” Nimble reported, imputing the new coordinates.

“The sharin… do you think that is the name of the species?” Twilight asked out loud.

“Perhaps,” The Captain stated, sitting down in his chair at the very centre of the bridge. “We will find out when we arrive.

Twilight listened to the message again as it continued to play. A sense of excitement filled her, but at the same time it was being overtaken by a severe sense of foreboding…

Author's Note:

After Discord = AD

After his initial defeat a new calendar started.