• Published 13th Apr 2017
  • 1,325 Views, 56 Comments

Fate of the U.N.S. Moon Dancer - Shrink Laureate



New frontiers aren't always safe.

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Chapter 4

“Good morning, Admiral!” chirped the pony cheerfully. She danced across the walls to greet Sunset, leaping from screen to screen.

Sunset yawned. “Morning, Moon Dancer.”

“I made coffee for you,” said the pony.

This produced a smile. Sunset blinked sleep out of her eyes as she reached for the steaming mug.

“Are you still wearing those old pyjamas?” called Solar Flare from the next room.

Sunset looked down. “What? These aren’t old. They’re only… uh…”

“Older than I am?” suggested Solar.

“I only bought them yesterday,” she snarled through her coffee. “Can’t have been more than twenty years ago.” She picked up the second mug of coffee and took it through to Solar Flare, who was sat at a terminal reviewing the AI’s results.

“Thanks,” she said, gratefully receiving the mug. She added, “Morning, Sunshine.”

“Welcome back. How was Panama?”

“Hot. Very pretty, though. Huge numbers of butterflies, all over the place.” She gestured broadly.

“What’ve we got, then?” asked Sunset.

Solar brought up a list of audio files. “Computer’s flagged a few promising clips. It’s still translating some of them.”

“I found you a good one!” sang Moon Dancer, tapping a hoof against the first item, a clip only two minutes and twenty seconds long.

The quality of the reception had improved a great deal since the communications relay had reached the gravitational focus at 591 AU where it could pick up a signal from Equestria. The round trip to the far side of Sol and back added a week’s delay to signals that were already eighty-five years late. The probe was still searching for the exact sweet spot, but for now they and dozens of other teams were emailed a few minutes of useful audio each day.

With some real material to work from, Sunset and her friends had been training Moon Dancer to understand the alien language. She was getting there, slowly.

Solar Flare played the clip, while Moon Dancer helpfully brought up the transcript that she’d produced.

“…that everypony is adapting well to the conditions here.” Twilight Sparkle’s voice came out loud and clear, if a little tinny, through the hiss and crackle of noise. She sounded a little older, a little deeper, but still with the same enthusiasm that Sunset remembered. As she listened, a smile slowly crept across her face. “The lower gravity does take some getting used to, though it’s actually quite fun to bounce around in, particularly for those ponies who’ve never been able to fly before. In fact, sometimes the hardest part is getting everypony to stop playing around when there’s work to do.” She laughed, and another pony laughed with her.

Sunset’s smile broke into a broad grin. Partly from hearing Twilight’s voice for the first time in centuries, and partly from the reassurance that ponies hadn’t changed all that much.

“And what of the lunar inhabitants?” asked a stallion’s voice in a nondescript but refined accent. It sounded like the interviewer was in the studio, while Twilight was coming through a radio.

“They’ve been quite welcoming, actually. Ever since that first mission centuries ago, we’ve been sure to leave a positive impression with the nyx each time we visit. It is their home, after all. They’re quite intelligent, and well aware of the ponies and other creatures living on the surface.”

“Have any of the nyx expressed an interest in visiting Equestria?” asked the interviewer.

“Often, but sadly that isn’t possible yet, even though both Princesses Celestia and Luna have said they’re welcome to visit. Their bodies are adapted to the moon’s gravity, and simply wouldn’t be able to survive the much higher gravity of our world, nor the stress of launching into space. We’re happy to show them pictures and illusion spells of life on the surface. And we’re looking into magic that could make it possible some day.” Twilight spoke with the confidence of a mare who regularly made new things possible.

“Before you launched, some ponies were concerned that the same could happen to ponies - that living on the moon for so long might weaken them to the point where they could no longer return to Equestria,” said the interviewer. “Is that a real risk?”

“Yes, and it’s a risk we take seriously. Everypony spends a large part of each day engaged in physical exercise designed to maintain muscle and bone strength…”

The recording devolved into noise again, then came to an abrupt end.

“I’m afraid that’s all I could get of it,” said Moon Dancer apologetically, her ears flopping down. She perked up again and asked, “But it’s a good one, right?”

Sunset nodded, unable to speak for the moment.

“That was her, wasn’t it?” asked Solar. She’d been following the transcript that Moon Dancer provided, even though it was an approximation at best.

“I… yes, that was Twilight Sparkle. She… she’s alive. She’s out there and she’s alive.”

Solar stood up to stand close to Sunset. She was taller than Sunset now, and her long hair reached down her back. Where once Sunset looked like the older sister, now it was the other way around. “You knew that already, from Luna’s interview,” she said softly.

“I know, but it’s… hearing her voice. She’s the same pony, exactly the same. The same curiosity, the same love of discovery, all these centuries later. It really is her.” Sunset wiped her eyes messily. “Sorry, I… I’ll be okay in a minute.”

“You don’t need to be composed, not with me. Let it out.” Solar rested her arms loosely on Sunset’s shoulders.

“Thanks,” said Sunset, sniffling.

“You miss her,” said Solar. It wasn’t a question. They’d talked about Twilight before.

Sunset nodded anyway. “She’s so brilliant. So smart. She sees right to the heart of things. And so dense at the same time. Like she doesn’t see the obvious things.” She clutched at the fabric of Solar’s shirt. “She comes at everything with an open mind. And she’s so good that she sees the good in everypony.”

Solar rested her forehead on Sunset’s. This was almost ritual for the two now. “She changed you.”

“She…” Sunset broke off, coughed, and sniffed. “She made me who I am. She believed in me, when I didn’t believe in myself, when I’d given up. She had no reason to, but she trusted me. She gave me a chance I never gave myself. She made me better. Every day, since then, I try to be better, and every day it’s because of her.”

“You want to see her again.”

Sunset nodded again. “I want to say ‘thank you’. I want to show her all the things I’ve done, tell her about my friends. I want her to be proud of me. It’s selfish, really, I know.”

“Selfish is fine,” whispered Solar.

“And I want to hear all about her adventures.” She smiled. “Equestria always sounded so much more exciting when she talked about it. I’m sure she has plenty of new stories now. Centuries of them.”

“A lot can happen in four hundred years.”

A worried frown flickered across Sunset’s face. “How did she sound to you? She sounded happy, right?”

“She sounded, um, nice.”

“Nice?” asked Sunset, drawing back.

Solar looked guilty. “Okay, fine, she sounded like a horse. You know languages aren’t my strong suit, and Equish isn’t the easiest to learn.” Solar scratched her face. “I mean, I think I heard her say ‘wings’ near the beginning. Or maybe it was ‘interview’. Or it could have been ‘team’.”

After a pause, Sunset said, “Do you mean,” followed by a breathy nasal gasp that sounded like, “hngu?” Solar nodded hopefully. “Sorry, that means ‘gravity’.”

“I knew that!” contributed Moon Dancer, using one hoof to push her glasses up her muzzle.

Solar deflated. “I’ll just stick to astronomy, shall I?”

Sunset patted her on the back. “What news is there from the telescopes?” she asked, looking at the screen.

“It’s pretty much the way you thought it would be, actually,” said Solar, leaning over to bring up a map of the 23 Librae system, incorporating all the latest information from the big research teams at Ceres, Geneva, Pyongyang, Phobos and Panama. “Most of the focus has been on the inner planets, but the signal is coming from somewhere a very long way out, three or four hundred AU at least. I’m not even sure it’s part of the same system. It could be a stray rock passing through.”

“It’s in the same system, I promise. It’s been there for millennia. Are there any visuals yet?”

“Nope. The big telescopes are still scanning the inner system, using wobble and occlusion to track down all the inner planets and moons, and found nothing habitable there.” The display zoomed into the middle of the 23 Librae system, with its cluster of labelled planets and moons. “But the outer system is harder to map, even with the whole Ceres/Vesta array. If we can pinpoint the source, maybe we’ll be able to persuade them to give us telescope time.”

“You tried looking for the signal I suggested?”

“I tried, but couldn’t narrow it down. Nobody on Earth knows what the spectrum of magic even looks like.”

“I know. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but nopony in Equestria was looking at chemical spectra when I left.”

“You said you knew what they were, though?”

“Yes, but it was considered redundant when you could just cast a spell to work out what something was made of. Nopony thought of applying it to distant objects. The same for so many of the sciences, really, magic made us lazy.”

“It’s still hard to imagine. But you’re sure this ‘Crystal Faire’ will show up?”

“Absolutely. It’s the biggest magical event of the year, lights up the whole country in aurora. We just need to keep watching until we catch it.”

“How long is an Equestrian year, anyway?”

“However long Celestia says it should be.” Solar made a face at her. “What?” asked Sunset.

“Your planet is weird.”


The U.N.S. Moon Dancer was not a large ship. There were no grand ballrooms on board, no officers’ dining room, no impressively long corridors or tall stairwells. She didn’t have a great amount of free space for living quarters either, so dorms with bunks were the norm.

This room was square, with six bunks on three of the walls. There was an octagonal column in the middle filled with cupboards and drawers, and divided down the middle. Like the rest of the ship, the spaces were narrow and peppered with hand-holds, ready for times when gravity cut out or the engines exceeded the inertial compensation. The power supply was stable now across the ship, but gravity had clearly been lost in this room, from the mess of personal belongings scattered over the floor.

Sunset grasped the door handle and pulled the door shut behind her with a wrench of scraping metal. The dorm was quiet and dark, lit only by a few emergency lights. Everybody who could was helping get the ship up and running.

She knelt down to pick up a holopicture from the floor. Solar Flare, Silent Running and Sunset Shimmer, all smiling into the camera. Behind them, the silver-blue hull of the experimental ship Rainbow Dash, the first craft to break through the Cherenkov barrier and make FTL travel viable. The race to Eris had left a few scratches along her hull.

Sunset ran a finger slowly across it. No matter how real the holopicture looked, it was nothing but a moment from the past.

“When does it get better?” she asked the empty room.

“Better?” queried Celestia, stepping around her. “What do you mean, better?”

“When does it stop hurting like this, Celestia? When do you… get used to losing people?”

“Why would you want to?” asked the alicorn. Her wingtips brushed against the walls as she walked around the room.

“It never seemed to bother you. I didn’t see you mourning the ponies you’d lost. You sat on that throne, all smiles and calm confidence.”

Celestia paused at the other side of the split column, looking at Sunset through the gap. “Never,” she said seriously. “I never stop caring about my ponies. I never stopped caring about you, Sunset Shimmer.”

Sunset stared through the narrow gap into her mentor’s imperial purple eyes framed by a luminous mane. Celestia’s expression showed comfort and compassion but no sorrow. Just as she remembered it. “How do you do it?” Sunset whispered, averting her gaze. “How do you watch them grow old and die, and keep smiling through it? You’ve ruled Equestria for centuries. You’ve seen so many ponies come and go. Thousands of them. Millions. One day you’re talking and laughing with somepony, the next they’re gone.” She slumped against the wall behind her, turning her eyes to the ceiling. “I just can’t work out how you managed it. Whatever you and Luna have, I don’t.”

Celestia took a deep breath as she resumed pacing around the room, her wingtips brushing against bunks and hand-holds. “Nor did we, at first. Our lives as warriors did not adequately prepare us for the job of ruling a kingdom. Luna and I grew up in a different world, one where life and death were cheap, even after we defeated Discord. We both saw war more times than I care to count. We saw natural disasters steal settlements away. We saw plagues run through towns like fire through a dry forest. We saw monsters end a pony’s life for no more reason than they felt like it.” She paused by a poster for a movie, tilting her head left and right to try and look around the edges of the holopicture. “Every pony who lives a full life, every pony who pursues her dream, every pony who dies doing what she loves, is something to celebrate.”

Sunset stared at the holopicture of Solar Flare in her hands. “That’s your answer? ‘Life is fragile so every day is a bonus?’ Or are you just saying I’m a spoiled little filly who grew up in safety and comfort and doesn’t know what the world is like?”

Celestia turned to look at Sunset with a stern expression. “Come, Sunset, self-indulgent pouting like that does not become you.” Her multicoloured mane flowed across the dark bedclothes. She took in an air vent in the corner, identical to three others. “There’s a lot of redundancy on this ship. Backups of backups.”

“It’s safer that way,” said Sunset half-heartedly.

“Isolated sections of the ship. Internal airlocks. Separate power supplies, life support. Convenient air closets everywhere.”

“I insisted. Thirty billion miles from home, you can’t expect a lucky rescue. You have to bring three or four of everything. Be your own reinforcements.”

Celestia stepped closer to Sunset, looking down at the picture held in her hands. “Tell me why she died.”

“She died because of me,” said Sunset.

Celestia rolled her eyes. “Care to try that again with our talk about humility taken into account?”

Sunset sighed with increasing frustration. “She died because she travelled light years from home, on a mission to test out a new, faster engine, and launch an array of deep space telescopes. The engine that I wanted to use to reach Equestria. The telescopes I wanted to use to see and hear Equestria.”

“So if you hadn’t pushed for this, if you weren’t there to spur humanity on, if you’d left them four hundred years ago, would they have stayed on the surface of their world, content to leave the skies alone? Would they be slumbering yet in the cradle of their civilisation?”

Sunset shook her head. “Humans have always had to explore. They push boundaries like a foal. They might have done a few things differently, but they’d be up here.”

“And would they be safe?”

Sunset looked down at the holopicture of the blue metal body of the Rainbow Dash. “I suppose not. They’d probably be even more reckless. Just like Rainbow Dash was that day.”

Turning away, Celestia reared up on her hind legs, planted her forehooves on the edge of the upper bunk, and started to push her muzzle through the rumpled bedclothes.

“Stop that,” said Sunset, upset.

“Congratulations on your promotion,” said Celestia through the fabric.

“What?”

“You are the humans’ princess now, are you not?”

“No. What are you—”

“Their queen, then? Or their empress?”

“Of course not.”

“Corsair? Tyrant? Pontiff?”

“You know I’m not any of those!”

“Their Goddess?” asked Celestia, looking down at Sunset with a raised eyebrow.

“No!”

Celestia dropped to four hooves in front of Sunset, her wings flaring briefly to slow her fall. “Then what are you?”

Sunset paused before answering cautiously, “I’m an admiral of the U.N. Fleet.”

“You sound uncertain. Why are you an admiral?”

“Because the U.N. like to keep me where they can keep an eye on me,” said Sunset, remembering some of the bastards she’d met in centuries past. She added, “And… it’s kind of hard not to get promoted when you outlive generations of command staff.” She slumped further down the wall.

Celestia nodded knowingly. “So as a military commander, you ordered Solar Flare to venture on a dangerous mission?”

“No,” said Sunset with a frustrated sigh. “I mean, first the U.N.F. isn’t military. I made sure of that back when the charter was signed. And experimental flights like this are all volunteer-only.”

“Meaning that everybody on board chose to be here,” pressed Celestia.

“So what, I have no responsibility?” said Sunset louder, pushing off from the wall to confront the alicorn. “Sorry, but that doesn’t fly. This whole space program is pretty much my pet project. I more or less built this ship,” she said, gesturing at the ceiling. “I’m the ranking officer on board. I have a responsibility to keep them safe!”

“Space is not safe,” said Celestia firmly. “It never was. Space is a vast abyss of lethal darkness. You didn’t make the darkness. You didn’t lead the humans into it. The danger would be there, with or without you.”

“I’m supposed to be better. I’m supposed to be making things better.”

“And you have been doing, in a hundred little ways. You aren’t a goddess, you can’t be responsible for everything that happens. Only for what you do in the world.”

Celestia wrapped her wings around Sunset and pulled her close.

“Your friend died younger than she might, but she lived doing what she enjoyed.” She spoke softly. “She loved astronomy. She loved pushing at new frontiers. And yes, she loved you, and wanted to help make your dream come true. So she took a risk, knowing it wasn’t safe.”

Closing her eyes, Sunset pressed her head into Celestia’s neck. The hand holding the holopicture dropped to her side. “Is that enough? A good life, a good death, and you accept it and move on? Is that how you manage to rule them for centuries?”

“It has to be,” said Celestia, “because the alternative is a tyrant. One who would reshape their subjects’ lives to suit themselves.” She wrapped her wings further around Sunset, enveloping her in familiar warmth.

Sunset took a few seconds to breathe in through the hair of the pony’s neck. “Is that what the real Celestia would say?” she asked.

“You’ll just have to come and ask me,” replied the apparition.

The room filled with light as the door slid open.

“Who are you talking to?” asked Silent Running from the door. He sounded concerned.

Sunset looked up, taking a second to focus. “Just my memories,” she said. “How’s the Moon Dancer? I heard from Dr Honeysuckle that you’ve been hard at work.”

“We’re getting there. She’ll be floating soon.”

“Good.” Sunset carefully placed the holopicture on Solar Flare’s bunk.

“She could use a good captain,” said Silent Running.

“She’s got one,” said Sunset absently. “I can announce your field promotion right now if you want.”

Silent Running shut the door quietly. “No. I meant you, numskull. The crew need someone who can inspire them.”

“You can lead them as well as I can.”

“I’m an engineer. They trust me to do repairs, but I’m not the immortal admiral.” He stepped closer. “Listen. There were thirty-two people in section three, and thanks to you more of them survived than didn’t.”

“I didn’t save that last air cage.”

“No, but you inspired Lieutenant Splashdown to find a spacesuit and go fetch it. The crew look up to you. They trust you, and that’s what they need right now.”

“Even if I don’t trust myself?” she scoffed.

“Doesn’t matter. With the beating this ship’s taken, it’s going to take a miracle to get her back. That miracle is more likely with you at the helm. Now get your pony ass out there and take this ship home.”


“Realistically, we only have enough antimatter to spark a few dozen times,” said Mantissa. “The rest is in bottles too damaged to safely pour. Really, we’d be better off throwing them away before they can fail entirely and blow another hole in us.”

Silent Running was leaning over the logistics station. “Then we’d best make it count. Have Plasmid pick the generators that have the best chance of running. Once we have two going, we can use one of them to spark the rest, given time. And let me know as soon as power reaches the field emitters, we’ll need to start spooling them up.”

“Admiral on the bridge!” called out one of the sailors on the upper level as Sunset Shimmer strode up the steps to the raised platform. Silent Running straightened and walked up the steps to meet her.

“Status?” she asked, standing by the empty captain’s chair. Her expression was stern, her voice professional.

He glanced at several different panels as he replied, “Basic power has been restored to most of the ship, and we’ll have two or three generators up within an hour. All the engines look good except for #4, and we can compensate for that. Reaction control is functional as long as we have power. FTL field emitters are undamaged, but they’ll need a few hours to spool up.”

“Will two generators be enough to run the engines and the emitters at the same time?”

“Just barely. The lights will dim when we punch the emitters, and the gravity might wobble a bit, but we’ll have inertial compensation up to two Gs. It’ll be enough for her to limp home.”

“Giving us what, two or three c at best? Gets us home in three years?”

Silent Running nodded. “That’s about all the Moon Dancer has in her right now. Any faster and she won’t have enough power to feed the engines and the FTL at the same time.”

“How about if we alternated? Engines first, then FTL?”

Silent Running’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. FTL didn’t work like that: you had to run the field emitter at the same time you used an ordinary engine to accelerate. Unless…

“What are you planning, Ma’am?” he asked suspiciously. He knew her too well. She was up to something.

Sure enough, a mischievous grin crept across Sunset’s face. She leant over to the captain’s astrogation panel and tapped a button to fill the bridge’s big, spherical walls with a representation of the space around the ship: the large gas giant Ægir below them, with its intricate rings and a dozen moons, each tagged with a little label.

She plotted a course that took the ship away from Ægir, into a higher but unstable orbit, then sharply down again in a five hour dive that brought them extremely close to one of the larger moons, labelled ‘b IV / Hefring’. So close, in fact, that the moon’s gravity would fling the ship out of Ægir’s orbit entirely. At the periapsis, the point where the Moon Dancer would scrape closest to the surface of the icy moon, the line changed colour, indicating a switch into FTL mode. The line heading away from the moon was ringed by a little circular rainbow.

“So, in a dive like that, do you think you can build up enough power for a rainboom?”

Mantissa whistled as she grasped the idea. “A slingshot around that moon, then straight out through the middle of the rings. We end up pointed right at Sol. All the acceleration that goes into FTL comes from gravity rather than from our own engines, so we can build up… thirty or forty c.”

“It’s genius,” said Silent Running quietly. “It would get us home in a few months. We’re going to need four generators up to make it work.”

“It’s going to need some very careful piloting,” said Mantissa. “You can’t adjust much during slingshot, so you have to get it lined up perfectly in advance. The astrogation we’re trained on is all based around stable orbits, not stunts like this.” She turned to look at the Admiral and asked with amusement, “With respect, Ma’am, are you insane?”

“Perhaps,” said Sunset Shimmer, returning her grin. “But I think it’s time for this ship to earn its name.” She took in the room full of awestruck faces. “Let’s go dance with that moon. Who’s with me?”

Author's Note:

The stories of Admiral Sunset Shimmer will continue in Mutiny on the H.M.S. Star Swirl!

If you'd like to see more stories set in this universe, how about writing one? Take a look at the Writing Bible.

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Comments ( 31 )

8101707 I'm afraid that really is the end now.

I can't remember if I typed a comment along these lines on your last story so here it goes (again?)

I really like what you have done here. You have taken the wonder for the unknown and the strive for a better tomorrow from the science fiction genre, and molded it with FiM perfectly. It has all the elements that made me love both sci-fi and FiM, and the tones fit flawlessly together, there isn't a single thing that feels out of place! This was a blast to read and I look forward to read every fic in your verse.

8108897
Thank you. I'm glad to hear you appreciate the type of world I was trying to conjure.

Would you be interested in writing stories in the verse? If you have any ideas, whether now or in eighteen months time, drop me a line.

8109187
While I would love to contribute to the verse, I don't feel I could match the quality of your work, or even come near it. Not for a while, at the very least. However I will take you up on the ideas bit. Just give me some time to put my thoughts in order and I will leave a message on the story bible blog post.

8109230
Cool. There's actually a group for these stories now, if you'd prefer a forum thread.

I do much love this - though I'm curious! In the UNS Twilight Sparkle everyone seemed absolutely shocked about the Equestrians.

Yet, here, it seems like everyone seems to be increasingly filled in on Equestria. Did you choose to go a different tack?

This was great! I really really enjoy this universe you have created and am hugely excited for more in it!

Mutiny on the HMS Starswirl... Ooooooohhhhh

8115971

I do much love this - though I'm curious! In the UNS Twilight Sparkle everyone seemed absolutely shocked about the Equestrians.

Yet, here, it seems like everyone seems to be increasingly filled in on Equestria. Did you choose to go a different tack?

On the surface
Don't worry, I totally have a plan to explain that :rainbowdetermined2:

Behind the scenes
Shit, she's right, how do I fix that? :twilightoops:

The real answer, that I should expand upon in further stories, is that information about Sunset is tightly controlled - as seen in chapter two of this, where they talk about Silent Running getting security clearance.

The levels of information are:

Magic is real — widely rumoured, though not officially acknowledged.

One of the U.N.F. admirals is immortal — widely rumoured, but not widely believed.

Sunset Shimmer is immortal — generally known among the admiralty and command staff, as well as any crew she serves with, and rumoured among the U.N.F. in general.

Sunset Shimmer is an alien — limited to her close friends, and a select inner circle of the U.N.F. Rumoured among the crew that with under her.

So even if she works up a translation program, she can't publish her findings without inviting scrutiny: "Please tell us how you happen to know an alien language?". The AI would be audited, and by that era there's a full history tracking of every bit, so she couldn't realistically hide or obscure her methods. To avoid that she has to work in private; anything she publishes has to be within the bounds of what she could have discovered from the same starting point as the rest of them.

The rest of humanity only knows that there's a signal coming from the 23 Librae system, of which they catch occasional snippets. They may decode some of the language given a large enough sample, but it's far from perfect and all out of context. And it only lasts as long as the analogue broadcasts continue – which is already overdue, even given 85 years lag and the relative levels of pony and human technology. With 170 years round trip, there's certainly no conceivable way of having a conversation.

It's a bit like Anubis from the latter seasons of Stargate: having previously ascended he had access to knowledge that no mortal could, but was forbidden from using any of it unless he came up with a narrative by which he could conceivably have found it by mortal means. Of course he cheats with both hands, because he's Goa'uld.

8130118

Shit, he's right, how do I fix that?

She's right :rainbowwild:

Anyhow, yea, the idea I would have, given that the Moon Dancer occurs a good 48 years before the Twilight Sparkle is that something happens in the interim - and arguably the Moon Dancer is a good catalyst - that causes Sunset to clamp down on telling more people, hard. Like...along the lines of 'I don't want people pushing themselves into it for the glory of uniting the immortal alien with her fellow immortal, so nobody can know and instead they should do it for the drive to explore' or whatnot.

But yea, if the Moon Dancer AI is kept tightly under wraps and only Sunset can call her up or whatever - and it does look like only Solar/Silent are in on the Equestria bit, here - then that may work in syncing up with the Twilight Sparkle.

8130560

She's right :rainbowwild:

<edit edit edit> That's what I said, right?

8130560
The events on the Moon Dancer are definitely a catalyst for Sunset to finally step up to her role as Earth's Celestia, guiding them in the right way rather than just pushing her own agenda. This includes her promotion to Fleet Admiral, as seen in Log of the U.N.S. Twilight Sparkle.

There's so much story here that I may never get to tell. As I've said before, if anybody wants to write a story in this verse, you're welcome.

8130736 Clearly it just says there is so much story you ought to tell since it's wonderfully captivating :twilightsmile:

8132023
A marginally relevant passage from a future story.


There was a class at the academy that wasn't officially listed in the curriculum, yet every young sailor was required to attend. For the duration of this class the doors were locked and guarded by senior officers.

The class included footage of testimony from men and women going back centuries, from simple audio to 2D to 3D to holograms to proper modern recordings, each with their own take on the same subject. A lot of people had something to say about it.

Its official title, if anybody asked, was "Shipboard Orientation and Internal Signals Protocol." The unofficial title was, "Do not fall in love with Admiral Shimmer."

8134339 The only thing I can see here I recommend changing is that you change the official name to something that makes the first letters in each word of the class spell a silly thing.

Oh, Sunset, you heartbreaker. Turning down all those poor non-horses.

Wow, this is really good story telling right here. :rainbowderp: Kudos!

Your universe is fantastic, and your 400 year old Sunset Shimmer is superb. Hard Science Fiction is hard! The attention to detail is great. I personally would never try to write something with so much science explained. :twilightblush:

Thanks for sharing this universe, and hopefully will see more stories from you and other writers. :twilightsmile:

8136366
I never intended to go into this much science. I wrote the first story with an attitude of "FTL is obviously just magic and you'd be a fool to try and explain it". Somehow an explanation seems to have happened anyway, one mostly born from the tenet that all the other laws of physics should still apply as much as possible.

8136429 Well, going that extra mile with real physics, gave the story a lot of depth. :raritywink:

Loved the intro to this verse, and this story just hooks me in deeper. Just, seeing sunset like this was amazing and you really pull her off well, the visions of Celestia and the talk... basically with herself. But with just the right ideas, just the right way of Celestia being Celestia. And the physics, actually making it matter, HARD, that is amazing. The whole story is simply phenomenal.. for the most part. The early cuts showing Sunset’s past were odd, took a while to get that Sunset was pretending to be a new recruit, and acting and living like one, just to go back through and refresh herself on stuff. Seemed odd she was dealing with a roommate and what not.. it came together once it shifted to showing the three of them setting the pieces in place for this trip.

A lot left to see, like how Sunset ended up with this much authority and ability to do stuff, was it simply the immortality thing? Also nice was of dealing with that, it’s just.... I am not a fan of ‘Sunset’s an alicorn’ but taking that idea as true.. you did a great job of this. Really not sure what more to say beyond I cannot wait for more.

A fantastic blend of character piece, survival story, and sci-fi that's by and large harder than that fateful micrometeorite. Eagerly looking forward to more. As I've said before, I may need to make something in this setting.

Just checking in again to say i still think this is one of my favorite emerging universes on the site right now. Wondering if you were writing more, putting it on hold or were done with this little experiment?

8261510
Thanks. I have plans for several more stories at least, but they're queued up behind a few other things I want to finish first. The next story in this verse will be called Mutiny on the H.M.S. Star Swirl (or possibly Starswirl, I'm not decided).

If you have story ideas, I'd welcome other authors joining in. Check out the writing bible and drop me a line.

I am intrigued and will await future stories.

Great stories, terrible endings/lack of any endings.

I recommend researching the mega structure class known as Orbital Rings. The point being that the statement a few chapters ago about how getting mass into space still being expensive is quite silly. Such a thing would only cost a few tens of billions of dollars to build today.

I'm surprised I let the story go this long before reading the 2-4 chapters. But it was nice to read it in one chunk. Get piece of exploring people and surviving in an unforgiving situation. Also, I like Sunset's solution to get back. :)

“It’s pretty much the way you thought it would be, actually,” said Solar, leaning over to bring up a map of the 23 Librae system, incorporating all the latest information from the big research teams at Ceres, Geneva, Pyongyang, Phobos and Panama. “Most of the focus has been on the inner planets, but the signal is coming from somewhere a very long way out, three or four hundred AU at least. I’m not even sure it’s part of the same system. It could be a stray rock passing through.”

Ah. Well, scratch my theory then. I guess this really is a world where Celestia literally raises the sun.

All in all, a very good story. I'm looking forward to the next entry.

Took me long enough to read this 'verse's stories, which was actually my loss. I love proper SF, and you did a wonderful job here.

I now somehow suspect that Sunset shall never retire because nobody wants to pay out her retirement and creating special laws "in case of immortals" would violate the secrecy of the issue.

I recently read The Cold Equations and couldn't help but gripe about the silliness of a space-faring vessel having no redundancy for something as important as fuel. It just brings me back to this awesome line.

When the nearest help is sixty trillion kilometres away, you bring your own reinforcements.

“And finally my own Team Canterlot with our craft, the Rainbow Dash, and its characteristic ‘rainboom’ as a means of overcoming the Cherenkov radiation barrier.”

I also love this sentence. On its own it sounds innocuous, but its implications shine with the light of a trillion stars.

This story is full of similarly awesome moments, and I can't wait to see the directions this universe heads towards next.

8881053 I'm thinking the quirks of entanglement hint at a deeper level of matter-space interaction, perhaps a method by which to skip out on space entirely. Entanglement, which is now a proven phenomenon a hundred times over, and truly does appear to have no speed limit (the closest thing to a measurement of its effect had a MINIMUM speed of 10,000 times the speed of light), suggests that space itself is a constructive artifact and that there is a region outside of its influence which can be interfaced even by normal matter to transmit some sort of influence on partner particles instantaneously.

The effect has now been documented even for sizeable molecules not composed of 'twin' particles formed by an accelerator. Merely synching their spins with lasers is enough to induce the effect.

I'm hoping this indicates wormholes are plausible, or perhaps something even better which we have not yet even conceived of.

hope you still got some more of this

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