• Published 3rd Dec 2016
  • 4,367 Views, 544 Comments

Wanderlost - GMBlackjack



The Immortals of Equis have been adrift in space for an eternity... And they are starting to lose hope as they continue onward...

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XXIV - Probing Asanta

"Hold it," Discord said.

"Yes?" Tirek responded, his face displayed on a screen to the left of the bridge.

"If magic can't affect you, how are you traveling through the jump with us?"

Tirek smirked. "The jump itself is not magic, it's warped space. You just use magic to make it. For example, if you cast fireball on us, we'd still be burned by the heat, even if the spell maintaining the fireball vanished upon touching us."

"So..." Discord furrowed his brow. "I can't just create you a new body?"

"Magic constructs will be dispelled. You could try genetic cloning, I suppose, but we tried that already. Didn't work."

"Evil twin?"

"Evil twin."

Discord looked at the main screen, pursing his lips and contemplating the stars. "You know, I just had a thought. The moon is basically our ship now. Our 'ships' are just little huskie dogs pulling our sled."

"Precisely," Tirek said, "perhaps we can intimidate these Asantans with this."

"If not, I can just bust a planet into confetti."

Tirek laughed. "I wish there was a big red button that I could press to unleash you."

Discord clapped his hands and created such a button.

"I have no limbs, Discord."

Starlight appeared, staring at the button. "I'll press it," she said, fire in her eyes. "I am so going to press it."

There was silence in the room.

"...We're all diabolical aren't we?" Tirek asked.

"You never quite get fully reformed," Starlight commented. "You always have this little urge to turn everything into chaos..."

Discord laughed, setting the button on the table. "I feel sure we'll need to use that button. But let's wait until we actually get to the system before blowing everything up, hrm?"

Starlight rolled her eyes, grabbing the button and placing it in her bags. "Of course. ...Can we go fly kites out in space while we wait?"

Discord grinned. "Why do you even bother asking? Just give the word!"

"Word."

~~~

"We'll be arriving at the Asanta system within a few hours!" Celestia announced. "Our probes will be arriving within half an hour!"

She paused for a moment to let the message sink in. "Our journey is nearing its end - the cause of so much suffering is just over the horizon. I know not what we will find. I know not what Central is. What I do know is that everything we've done over the last fifteen years has been leading up to this, in one way or another.Whatever we find, I want it known that I am proud of each and every one of you - be you pony, dragon, griffon, gari, changeling ; magic, or mundane - I couldn't have asked for better people to serve. Thank you all for the light you have brought to my eyes. But do not let your judgment be clouded! The time is at hand and I fully expect that everyone will have to try their very hardest to do what needs to be done. Thank you all for your dedication, strength, and ingenuity that has gotten us this far. Keep it up. We'll need it." Celestia cut the announcement and sat back in her chair.

Twilight and Luna clapped their hooves together.

Celestia nodded. "Here we go..."

"Into the abyss," Luna said.

~~~

The Equi-gari probe was a bluish sphere covered in scanners of all kinds surrounded by a faint white magical aura.

It jumped into the Asanta system. The star was a brilliant white one, the light creating an intense glare on the probe, disguising the aura. The probe began scans immediately - a dozen or so planets were found, all inhabited, three heavily so. There were hundreds of structures and ships in space within the system - but everything was far away from the probe's location. Space was huge. Even within a single system there was an excessive amount of it to sit unnoticed in.

The probe performed further scans - there were thirteen large satellites orbiting the star at a surprisingly close radius. There were eleven meteor-ships orbiting the first planet from the star. The probe was definitely in the right place.

The probe transmitted all the information back to its creators. A ship was on it in seconds. The craft was long, black, and covered in strange round discs that shifted around the hull continually. The constant shifting made the craft appear almost as a liquid - even though scans showed it as a solid. It was heavily armed - though there were no signs of anything magical within it.

-WELCOME TO ASANTA,- the ship transmitted in dozens of languages, Asantan being the only one the probe understood. -WE ASK THAT YOU REVEAL YOURSELVES SO THAT WE MAY TALK-

The probe forwarded the message back to its creators.

Discord stared at the message onscreen. "So much for stealth," he muttered. "What are we going to say back? You know, besides 'we are here for revenge, can you kindly stand still so we can annihilate your planets'?"

Starlight smirked. "Offer to meet them face to face. Some of us will take a single ship out to converse. We reveal nothing about the rest of our fleet or the moon. We don't reveal anything about why we are really here - say we are explorers. Feel them out. See what they stand for and what Central is."

Twilight sighed. "A deception... ...We aren't good at lying, Starlight."

Celestia and Starlight exchanged glances and smirked. "The two of us are," Celestia said, "as is Tirek. And Orgis, come to think of it. We will be the ones to go, the rest of you stay behind."

Discord groaned. "Missing out on the action? Really? Oh well, needed to work on my moontan anyway, I suppose..."

Luna facehooved. "Not how it works, Discord."

Twilight looked at Celestia, a pained expression on her face. "Are you... sure you want to do this?"

"Yes," Celestia said.

She was a good liar.

~~~

The Equi-gari ship Ajax sat in space, alone, waiting. Celestia sat in the meeting room, her mane flowing in the still air. She kept her uncertainty under wraps, a soft smile forced on her face. She wasn't sure she would be able to maintain this in front of the Asantans...

She was one of only three on board - four if you counted Tirek and five if you counted the Hexalin hiding within Orgis's body.

Celestia glanced at the door the Asantan delegate would arrive through. The aliens had confirmed the meeting with a short burst of information and promised to meet them here - only after Celestia agreed to have the probe leave the Asantan system. She had no idea if the Astantans were late or not - there wasn't really a given time in the message. Celestia had no idea what to expect from them - but she did know that she had to keep her anger under control. It was best if the Asantans didn't know why they were here, for now at least. Celestia needed information, information from which to make a plan.

She slowly looked at all her friends and companions on this journey. Starlight was the closest, her emotions still a mystery to Celestia after all this time. She truly was a pony who knew how to deceive others - Celestia often didn't know what really went on behind the mare's ever-shifting expression. If Celestia were to hazard a guess, she'd say Starlight was plotting; thinking of all the possible things that the Asantans could say and dreaming up responses.

Celestia's gaze fell upon the screen that displayed Tirek. He was not actually on the ship - he was just transmitting his image from the moon through an encrypted signal. Celestia found him easier to read - he didn't keep his cards as close to his chest. He wanted power back then - and he didn't now. Really, he had gone through the change many others had - he had seen the joy and happiness of friendship, and didn't want to give it up for his own selfish purposes in the end. So he changed himself. Now he was here, having lived a full life, wanting to do some final things before his time was up.

And then there was Orgis...

Oh Orgis, the Immortal of Garilend, the one who shaped her planet's history from behind the scenes. She was not one Celestia understood. The gari who had seen Harmony and turned it into a religion - a religion she herself didn't truly follow. She was manipulative. She claimed that her past life was behind her, and perhaps it was... But she was apparently unable to completely move past her old habits.

The doors slid open, cutting Celestia's thoughts short. A single Asantan walked in. He was a black color - and that was where the similarities between him and Sorn ended. The creature was tall and had four arm-like limbs above a single foot. He had a strange, bubbly appearance, with six eyes circling a central orifice in his chest. There was no head to speak of.

He spoke in Asantan, the central orifice moving like a rubber band. "Pardon my tardiness, we usually are not this slow to respond. I am Errynai. What brings you to Asanta?"

"Exploration," Celestia said.

"Ah. How did you come by our language?"

"Found some broadcasts and recordings. Pieced it together from that." She needed to continue before Errynai could ask about the recordings. "We never were able to figure out what one thing meant though. What is Central?"

"Ah," Errynai said, speaking as if this question didn't surprise him in the least. "You probably know Central by another name. The Eternal One. God. Divinator. Corot. Different cultures call Central different things, it's just the way things are."

"Not true," Orgis said, "on our world, we worship many different things. Most of us agree they aren't just different names for the same thing."

Errynai raised an eyebrow. "Are you an authority on the matter?"

"I am Orgis, High Priestess of Harmony."

Errynai let out a snort - perhaps in annoyance? It was hard to tell. "Mhm. The rest of you?"

"Princess Celestia of the Sun," Celestia introduced herself.

"Lord Tirek," Tirek followed.

"Starlight Glimmer," Starlight said, "...no title."

Errynai nodded slowly. "Tell me, how did such a diverse group of races come together?"

"Most of us came from the same planet," Starlight answered, "Orgis here is from another world, which we consider our close ally and friend."

Errynai seemed surprised. "...How many races are there on your world?"

"Twenty-seven," Celestia answered.

"That is quite a fair amount," Errynai observed.

"What of your people? I take it you're the only race here - what are you like?"

"We are indeed alone on our world. We have encountered other races but none live here. We keep to ourselves and follow the Central Path. We generally do not mix with others."

Celestia frowned. "Why not?"

"Our culture must be upheld. Diplomatic relations are not out of the question, but mingling is against Central Edicts."

"Hrm..." Starlight pondered this. These people seemed a little odd, but they didn't seem like the type to construct giant life-exterminating ships. They seemed like your basic leave-us-alone types, with a bit of religious extremism thrown in.

"My turn for a question," Errynai said, his many eyes turning to focus on Celestia. "Where did you get your power?"

"Our what?" Celestia asked.

"It's coming off all of you. An aura of that which is impossible - which only the highest acolytes of Central are given." Errynai leaned in, eyes narrowing. "Where did you get it?"

"We've always had it," Starlight said, "why does it matter?"

"Why does it matter?" Errynai sat back. "It truly is normal for you isn't it? ...The power does not exist anywhere else. It only exists in those deemed worthy by central. None of you fit the criteria."

"Perhaps you need to adjust your worldview," Celestia said. Starlight motioned for her to stop, but Celestia was already going. "Maybe the power can exist without Central, did you ever think of that?"

"Impossible."

"Then why do we have it if we are not what Central would approve of?"

Errynai thought for a second. "A test for us."

"Please," Tirek said, "that's a copout answer and you know it."

"Or not," Orgis said, "tests are thrown at all of us. If I was in their position I might think the same. But the fact remains - most of our races are given the power from birth without discretion."

Errynai frowned. "From... birth? ...I... I need to leave to ask the Gurus about this. Perhaps... you would wish to come along?"

"Thought you didn't mingle?" Starlight observed.

"Oh no, we don't," Errynai said, "but this is obviously a special case. Direct your ship to the innermost planet, the Gurus will tell us where to land."

Celestia frowned for a moment, turning to her companions. "What do you all think?" They all knew the meteor ships were around that planet.

"Either or," Tirek said.

"I wish to see their place of spirit," Orgis said.

"I don't like this," Starlight added.

Celestia nodded, slowly. It ended up as her decision... "We will come, Errynai. Lead the way."

Errynai nodded. The course was set and they were on approach to the innermost planet within a minute. The white star soon filled their view, blazing down upon them with intense light.

Then Tirek's screen went dead.

"What?" Celestia asked.

"Interrupted communications..." Starlight responded. "...I've lost control of the ship."

Errynai smiled. "The Gurus have noticed us. We are being guided directly. We should be honored to feel the hand of Central."

Starlight scanned the area, wincing. There was a powerful grasp of magic on the ship, guiding it towards the planet. She sent a telepathic message to Celestia. This magic feels a lot like that meteor ship's black crystal, except stronger, more organized.

Celestia frowned. They needed to get out. "I'm afraid we have to cancel, Errynai. You can tell us of your decision later." She lit her horn and used her celestial power on the Ajax. Summoning the strength she had used to move the sun all that time ago, she pushed.

The ship didn't move. The power surrounding it was too strong.

Starlight joined in with her power, but the course remained unchanged.

Orgis frowned, adressing the Hexalin with her thoughts. Can we hack the magical construct holding us?

>My efforts are proving to have minimal results. The lattice is resistant and counters automatically.

Unfortunate, she thought.

>Certainly. It's also aware I'm attempting to divert it. I have never been detected this quickly before on anything.

Celestia twitched, grabbing Errynai in her magic. "You are going to call this off or I swear to Harmony I will-"

"I cannot call it off. The Gurus are my superiors. You have to talk to them."

Celestia growled. "Everyone, prepare yourselves, there's no way this can be good."

Starlight cast dozens of spells on herself, ready. Orgis enveloped her hands in pink flames.

The Ajax was brought into a circular temple on the surface of the planet. The white star was directly above them, filling the sky. The ship was surrounded by dozens of black beings, each vastly different from the one next to it. One appeared to be made of tentacles and plant matter, while another was a snake made almost entirely of eyeballs. There was a jellyfish with physical feet, and a humanoid creature with mouths in his hands.

Celestia stepped out of the ship, eyes aflame. "This is unacceptable," she said.

The humanoid one shrugged. "Let me explain something. We don't care about what you think, your opinions are worthless to us. We serve Central, and nothing else means anything. You are our prisoners now. By Central Edict, you are not allowed to leave, contact your people, or do anything without our consent."

Celestia and Starlight exchanged glances, unsure of what to do.

Author's Note:

The end is approaching - Wanderlost will end with chapter 27. I hope you've enjoyed the ride, because it's almost over.

If you are looking for another story, I have a new one that's just starting - Broken Mirror. It's a significantly darker story, do be warned, but if you can get past that I'm sure you'll enjoy it if you enjoyed this.

-GM, master of shimmering reflections.

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