• Member Since 5th Jun, 2015
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Snuffy


Injection molding technician from Sweden that owns stocks in Hasbro—because ponies.

E
Source

Three million years ago, at the very beginning of the starfaring era, the daughter of a powerful noble house headed out into the galaxy, ready to uncover the mysteries of the Milky Way. However, Helena never expected her greatest discovery would be hidden away inside a foreboding nebula.

Twilight Sparkle's love of astronomy was well known, but she never imagined a day would come when she aimed her telescope to the heavens and found nothing but a dark, empty void.


Additional notes:
-First contact story with an ominous setting and mild conflict between human and ponies-
-The main character is not your average human-

Proofread by Snakeskin Ducttape and PresentPerfect
Artwork by: Rossby Waves
Featured on Equestria Daily
Review link: PresentPerfect and PaulAsaran

Chapters (9)
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Comments ( 137 )

Interesting. I've thought of doing similar.

The three hundred thousand years from the first chapter to cross the milky way at sublight seem to fast. It is a hundred thousand light years across, after all. She'd have to travel at .33C in a straight line without ever stopping to make it that fast.

Curious story, extremely curious. Certainly following now, so much tantalising possibilities. Specially liked what your did with the Stars. Will our alien do anything about them later?

8556632
I actually counted on her to reach around 0.8C when I wrote that. Sure, the rate of acceleration she needed, if she decided to stop at every solar system, would still be complete bonkers to make it in time, plus the entire center of the galaxy would likely be untraversable. But I hope you'll give me some leeway. The entire story would be bogged down with weird explanations if I went through every detail.

Will our alien do anything about them later?

Now that would be spoilers.

Oh man! OH MAN!
Crashing your car into a house with no way of getting home instead of parking normally possibly isn't the best idea, but it's one hell of an entrance to the party!

Why would she deliberately crash it? Why would she allow her ship to become damaged in the first place if shes as BAMF as claimed?

Seems I don't need to be worried about her being stranded, with the ship fixing itself.

Why would she go and knock Soarin unconscious?

8559136
Next chapter will begin with Helena’s perspective of the encounter, and her motives behind it. As for crashing her main ship onto the planet. It was badly damaged, and would either be stranded in space or on the ground until repairs could be made. Since she was going down to the surface anyway, she decided to bring the ship down with her, in case she needed easy access to it.

I am intrigued. Please.... continue

8611470
Hopefully I can get the next chapter out on Sunday. Depends if my editors have the time, but the chapter itself is complete.

You are amazing and i want to see more if this fic.

I LOVE IT!!!

I would normally say story moving like this was too fast.

This however works which is pretty neat. Feels quite a bit like alot of science fiction I read in the past when I was younger.

Too early to tell but it seems internally consistent, and well written. Just in a style I haven't seen in a bit. Kind of like the early ring world short stories.

Looking forward to more.

If you could indulge us gentle writer in more; then I do believe that the majority of readers in attendance would appreciate it to the utmost and further more would, in the nature of such a possible event as you continuing your story weaving should come to pass, would enjoy such writings as you have currently written so far to their inevitable Apex leading to probably being upvoted and further praising upon reading.

Please. Do continue.

Helena's really, really bad at this whole "being a decent person" thing, isn't she. :rainbowlaugh:

Hmm....
Seems to me that Helena has encountered plenty of travelers like her that were not what you'd call decent... They were power hungry people who used their tech and power to place themselves as "gods" and she seems to think that Celestia is the same....:trixieshiftright:

Interesting. I wonder how disappointed she'll be when she finds that Celestia is just another pony.

Or maybe excited? It is a true alien species, after all.

I am digging this. Has a Vernon Vinge Charles Stross vibe to it.

... wow, Helena sucks at her job, doesn't she? I won't blame her for her dramatic landing since there was no way she could have predicted that, but everything afterwards? First contact with the locals involved abduction, the second busting down their defences and sending an entire town into panic (and yet she worries about a random pony's door. Priorities girl!) And then when one of the locals seeks contact with her despite her every effort to make her people appear like evil invaders, she slams the door on her because it's not going the way she likes.

Seriously, Helena's character so far gives every appearance of a spoiled noble who is playing at explorer but has no idea what she's doing. I hope she runs into a problem her supersuit can't magically solve for her soon, because this girl is in dire need of a reality check before she further destroys Equestria for her own amusement.

idolizes celestia, yet she can't place how the creature holds itself just like the one she holds on a pillar?

8736322
Twilight saw something deeply familiar within Helena, but think of the way Helena has acted so far in the story. Would that behavior really be similar to Celestia's persona? Or is there someone else?

8736320
That Helena acts like a spoiled noble is an apt comparison. She certainly was a jerk to best pony, but in her defense she did say she was in a hurry when Twilight tried to stop her. But I can assure you that there is a bigger meaning behind her unlikable behavior.

The look she was going for would likely pass her off as a young noble woman, and the chaos and confusion would make it easy for her infiltrate whatever government ruled the small planet.

Too bad lady, your the wrong species to "blend in" with the society on the surface :pinkiecrazy:

“They are all gone,” Luna said, her voice broken. She was looking up into the sky with lifeless eyes. “I can’t sense a single one.”

The defense platforms were the stars and Luna could "feel" them... interesting :moustache:

8736330
i see where kereko is coming from, but has kereko considered that helena has done nothing to invoke the panic that the town was in? that was all the ponies doing.

all helenas actions so far has been non-combative, or not threatening. harmless knockouts and preventative measures. again, it falls to the ponies military personal failing to realize this detail.
the mining town, though- all helena did was walk through town, and go inside a building. that wa sit. the ponies are the ones that incited panic

I love the heck out of this story and I can't wait for there to be more of it.

All she knew was that the stars vanished the same night as the alien ship appeared with the meteor storm, and Princess Luna confirmed that she could no longer sense their presence.

This is an interesting piece of information :trixieshiftright:

The stars had apparently been one of the few things she remembered from her exile, and rearranging their formations at night was to her like greeting an old friend

So Luna had some form of control over the defense platforms :trixieshiftleft:

In the story description, astrology is not the right word, as that is the practice of using stars to predict the future, like horoscopes for the astrological signs of Capricorn, Leo and Virgo, among other things. The word you want to use is Astronomy.

8736381
Oh crap, that's embarrassing! Good catch!

Most foreboding of all was the disappearance of Discord. The draconequus had left her a note, stuck to a wall in her bedchambers, telling her in frantic writing that he was going into hiding. She had attempted to contact him several times, but even the summoning spell failed to locate his presence.

He knows something :pinkiecrazy:

Let's see how this goes :moustache:

Looks interesting so far :twilightsmile:

8736330
Oh undoubtedly. You don't go onto a million year journey without a reason after all, but so it seems to be to satisfy her own curiosity, something she could accomplish just as well by talking to the locals, rather than causing mass panic.

8736364
Well, no, walking into a town is not aggressive, you're right there. Walking into a town after you just tore apart its defences, that is aggressive. If I were to walk into a room after I just blew up the wall keeping me out, then I very much would be responsible for the panic that followed. I'm the one that just casually destroyed their sense of security because it inconvenienced me, after all.

Plus, non-lethal abduction is still an aggressive, threatening combat action. And one I would fully understand would mark me as a criminal purely on the abduction alone. Were these acts done on any society other than Equestria this would damage diplomatic relationships for years to come.

This looks very promising. I'm going to read the hell out of this when I get back.

She is an immortal posthuman GOD... she’s not trying to hurt anyone but she’s so far from human she’s like an alien.

8736425
true, but it's not like the equestrians are giving her any choice either. they immediately rolled out the army when she arrived, humans may have done the same- point stands though. the ship i can understand, it's a crash site, and rescuing any life from it is good. the patrols? those can be seen as an offensive combatant. but it goes both ways i guess, so meh

8736641
A bit backwards, I'd say. Helena in her supersuit is a god amongst mortals. She's completely untouchable to anything the ponies can throw at her. If anyone doesn't have a choice it's the Equestrians because Helena can just plain not care about anything they want and there is nothing they can do about it.

Meanwhile that same godlike power means Helena has every choice. She could have opened diplomacy with her first encounter, but she chose the convenience of abduction and mindmelding. She could have opened diplomacy after Starlight escaped, but instead chose to rip apart a town's defences and send it into panic so she could break in get her hands on some books.

Hell, Twilight pretty much gift wrapped a diplomatic route for her by opening dialogue, a clear and obvious choice right there, but Helena just went 'nah' as if it was too much of a bother.

So; Helena encountered a series of defensive stations surrounding an apparently populated planet.

Did she respect other peoples privacy and property rights? Withdraw and try to make contact? Attempt to analyze the purpose or purposes of those stations? Try to determine their programming? Find out if they had other functions of if they were needed to defend against something else?

She's been around for millions of years. So divide 75 years by even 1,000,000 years. One year is less important to her than half an hour is to you. And she could not be bothered to spend even the equivalent of a couple of minutes actually working on finding out what was going on before she started meddling on a planetary scale? After all, we know she didn't, because the basic properties of the system (such as the rapid change between day and night) are still surprising her. That tells us that she spent less than a day observing before starting to meddle.

So she blew those defenses up. In the process of ripping down someone else's protective systems, she scattered debris of unknown composition across a populated planet and into it's orbital space. If that world had any basic orbital facilities, or weather, communications, or other utility satellites, or was likely to develop any, they're out of luck for a few millennia. Even of those stations didn't have some vital function other than defense in this blatantly artificial system, and even if no larger pieces started forest fires or something, she scattered dusts, metal compounds, combustion products, and quite possibly toxins and radioactive materials throughout a planetary atmosphere. At least a few people - those with borderline-survivable respiratory problems, or sensitivities, or who needed emergency services that were diverted to dealing with the panics she caused - will have died. Depending on the composition of those defenses it was entirely possible that the entire planetary population would die.

Even disregarding those indirect casualties, she terrified a planet because she had no patience. She is, at the least, criminally negligent, trespassing, performing medical and mental probes without consent, and kidnapping people. Stopping to rescue a bear or fix a latch just points up that she shows no comprehension of the large-scale impact of her impulses - and that same lack of comprehension shows any "for the greater good!" style of justification as a mask for pure arrogance and a complete lack of ethics.

I'm sorry if Helena is meant to be a sympathetic, or even responsible, character... but at this point, if the ponies should manage to kill her, it really looks like they will be doing the galaxy a considerable favor. She controls a lot of power and has no sense or impulse control, and that is not a good thing.

God damn it! First it’s Overlord, then it’s Starblazers, and now it’s this story!

Why must I be cursed with finding such interesting stories, go through everything they have available, then be forced to wait for the next update???:raritycry:

Wow, Helena is an asshole.

8736425
I'd like to highlight that there are two more factors in play here for Helena. They don't justify her douchey actions, but they may make them more understandable.

She believes a human like her self is controlling the ponies, and the defense stations have been destroying ships for a very long time. It would be safe to assume that the hidden human (if there are any) does not like that Helena is on the planet. She needs to confront that danger as soon as possible, and having friendly discussions with primitive ponies would likely take too long, not be productive, and leave her vulnerable.

Remember her reaction to finding out that real aliens do exist after searching for them for millenia? Now, there is more to say here but that might be spoilery. Hopefully it will become clearer with the next chapter.

I did say that calling her a noble was a good comparison. Part of that means that she's responsible for the big picture. What she does affects entire worlds, and if she can gain an advantage by experimenting with magic and further increasing her knowledge about their language, than she might consider it despite the temporary consequences to one town.

There is also a theme going on here with Helena. Think about her actions, big and small, and how Twilight reacts to her. Helena herself is a puzzle that is beginning to unravel.

8736929
She had to destroy those station before they destroyed her. She deliberately cut them to small pieces so they wouldn't impact the surface, and probably took unnecessary damage in doing so.

In the process of ripping down someone else's protective systems

A defense system that ambushes and destroys anyone that travels through the nebula.

She's been around for millions of years. So divide 75 years by even 1,000,000 years.

It's been three million years since she left Earth, but remember they only have sublight travel. Nearly all those years would have been spent in cryostasis while her ship traveled between the stars. But to say she's a few ten thousand years old wouldn't be incorrect.

I'm sorry if Helena is meant to be a sympathetic, or even responsible, character...

Actually, I think few people see here as such, including me. She is so far more of a villain than a hero. Or you could say misguided hero? She might be a good guy, but doesn't mean she's a good guy. (Wreck-It Ralph)

8737383
Oh. Ooooh. So she's not just a spoiled noble, she's a spoiled noble with a hero complex? Trying to ride in and save Equestria from a wicked tyrant?

... My earlier hope for something her super suit can't handle forcing a reality check stands. In fact, it's gotten a bit bigger. The only thing worse than someone with no regard to consequences is someone who is that, but also believes they are in the right and everyone else is just blind to the truth.

8736690
i like you lol nice to talk about things this way and not have someone yelling at me in the comments section.

8737544
Likewise. It's always nice to discuss different views on fics without being shouty about it.

8737411
You're making quite a few assumptions. We know that Helena seeks to confront Celestia to find answers, but not what she plans after she learns the truth. Granted, her prior interactions may not speak highly of her decision making abilities, but note those decision were made with little information and a very foreign world view. Ultimately, much of what she did can't be reasonably justified, but that's also part of the story for a reason. I believe it's possible to figure out those reasons with the information the chapters have given so far, but more will be revealed in time.

8737657
Well of course I'm making assumptions, I don't have your author's inside eye. :rainbowwild: Making assumptions and seeing whether you're right or wrong is part of the fun! And who knows? Maybe meeting Celestia will be that reality check I'm hoping for. Not all reality checks have to be curbstomps after all, some can just be realizations that you just dun goofed. Helena seems to think Celestia is a human playing pretend god over the ponies, but that's a mistake a simple meeting will dispel unless she is going to approach that meeting with denial at full charge.

8737709
Indeed, and I highly encourage any sort of delicious speculation. One reader could pick up on details that another might have missed, or even inform the writer when there might be potential plot holes looming. But I do get wary when nearly all the focus is to bash a character into the ground.

I think few people dispute the fact that Helena, like Twilight thought, deserves a good scolding and a lengthy lecture on common courtesy.

Yes, please do not take a criticism of her actions to be criticisms of your writing. :-) I am enjoying your story very much and I look forward to her getting her comeuppance. :-) or whatever the story has in store. :-)

8738389
Oh don't worry, I'm not saying that Helena should forever burn in hell or whatnot. I don't hate her, I just think she needs a wake up call that Equestria isn't her kingdom to do with as she pleases. The focus on Helena, at least on my end, is more because the story is focused on her. With Helena being the big unknown factor central to the story, she just draws the attention more than the other characters.

Two parts then: Behavior and Physics (I prefer the physics really, but the behavior is much shorter. Unfortunately, the physics part is going to be pretty long).

1) Helena encountered a probably-inhabited planetary system.
2) She had no reason to presume that she had arrived at a crisis point.
3) Since she determined the outcome of her "battle" (victory for her with little or no lasting damage) in advance, she was not threatened.
4) She decided to meddle without bothering to determine what the consequences would be first. Since she didn't know if those stations did anything vital, that meddling could have resulted in anything from crop and navigation failures up through planetary genocide.

Not realizing that would be idiotic. If she realized that and proceeded before investigating anyway, she decided that gambling with the lives of a planetary population was preferable to taking some time to investigate what was going on.

Yes, you can have her make assumptions calling for urgent intervention (although any that do not recognize that the place has gotten along without intervention for a long time will be silly) - but using personal assumptions as a basis for major decisions is simply another form of idiocy or insanity (irrational arrogance in this case). .

There's nothing wrong with a stupid or psychopathic character, but there IS a problem if that's not what she's supposed to be, since that's what she's been written as to start off. Endangering other peoples lives because of your own poor logic is not acceptable.

Now when it comes to the physics, I'm going to be taking figures from Barnard 68. It happens to be thoroughly studied, is very well defined, and is dense enough to be past the critical point where it starts to collapse into a star (it will take about 200,000 years) - and so gives us some easy benchmarks; it's as dense as a dark nebula can get. Avoiding collapse in a denser nebula is possible, but involves adding enough energy to hold it up - and then it will no longer be dark. There's no way around that while respecting relativity, thermodynamics, or the various conservation principles.

The mean free path of a photon within Barnard 68 is roughly 5.5 Light Days (sources vary slightly, but that's fairly close to the average). This reduces the apparent luminosity of a photon source by one magnitude for every 18 light days of distance through the nebula from the source. Helena's "abrupt" entry into the "clear area" is most likely a perceptual artifact of operating in extremely slow time.

A radius of roughly .25 light years and a mass of about two solar masses (4.0 x 10^33 grams) gives Barnard 68 a volume of about 5.5 x 10^52 cubic centimeters and a density of about 7.3 x 10^-20 grams/cubic centimeter - about 6.1 x 10^-17 times the density of earths atmosphere.

Dark nebulae are easily probed in infrared and radio frequencies. To avoid this and to effectively conceal a star we will want to use a much larger nebula, with a radius of at least five light years - still not very large for a nebula or a significant interstellar barrier. .

For the solar system we have a type-G star (main sequence, .84 to 1.15 solar masses) and an extremely earth-like planet. While this gives us a potential orbital radius of 6 to 20 light minutes (depending on greenhouse effect and any special conditions), going with the lower end of the mass range and a smaller orbit makes it easier to conceal as required by the story. Fortunately, the radiation pressure of the star itself can adequately explain the "clear bubble" containing the system.

Given speed-of-light delay on the coordination of the attack, the weapons systems, and on detecting success or failure of an attack, the description implies that the battlefield has a maximum radius of about fifteen light minutes and that the stations and Helena's ship rely on missiles for attacks (dispersion and targeting difficulties make the use of energy and kinetic weapons impractical at ranges of more than a few light seconds). Incidentally, this means that the defense stations had plenty of time to launch every missile they had - and the sum total was not a threat to Helena's ship since she calculated the outcome in advance.

As a side bonus, Helena's ship being able to cross the galaxy in a mere 300,000 years tells us that it has a cruising speed of at least one-half the speed of light. That would call for converting roughly one-eighth of the mass of her ship into energy to accelerate to one-half the velocity of light (and another eighth to decelerate)- and that's disregarding reaction mass. Since she was exploring, she could gather replacement mass along the way - ergo she is most likely using some variant of the Bussard Ramjet (there are problems with that too, but they're ignoreable for our purposes). Her ship is also capable of some form of acceleration compensation since otherwise she could not quickly reduce her speed below the "planetary cataclysm" level. (she had to be traveling at a substantial fraction of the speed of light to "explore" a nebula; dropping that speed inside of a few hours would call for thousands of gravities of acceleration).

The defense stations were simulating stars and were close enough to Equestria for a substantial portion of their debris to enter the atmosphere soon after they were destroyed. This means that they were actively station keeping (to simulate a celestial sphere since a geosynchronous orbit is only possible over the equator), were far enough out so that shifting locations on the planetary surface would not quickly give their proximity away (to successfully simulate stars), and yet were not too far out to produce a swift rain of debris.

Since a bit of debris roughly half an inch in diameter is large enough to reach the surface as a red-hot firestarting bullet, this implies that - if Helena's ship was carefully making sure that the pieces were too small to reach the surface - her weapons would have to be able to accurately track, analyze, and hit at a range of light minutes, targets down to a one-half inch diameter by the millions or billions (if these defense platforms are merely 20 foot cubes - incredibly small considering that they carry weapons, a perpetual power system, station-keeping drives, instruments, computer controls, maintenance systems, and more, that means that each must be reduced to a minimum of 120,000,000 pieces. Of course, this still will not do a thing about dumping dust and toxins into the atmosphere). I'd drop that as a justification; it really will not work. After all, if - in the midst of battle - she can carefully ensure that every bit of the defense stations gets ground small enough to burn up in the atmosphere, than they should never have been able to do any damage in the first place. Secondarily, if her instrumentation is THAT good it's incompatible with the notion of her NOT knowing the shape of the various city-building equestrian species unless she is silly enough that she didn't bother looking at the planet before going in.

When it comes to the notion that the defended system was hindering exploration... From the information given the defended area is a sphere less than a light hour across. Even extending it's range slightly... that's less than one one hundred trillionth of the nebulas volume - and gives less than one chance in five billion that any given course through the nebula will encounter it. Assuming that the defended area represents a serious obstacle to exploration is nonsensical. There pretty much MUST be other exploration-blocking dangers in the nebula.

Star systems are very small and widely separated compared to interstellar space. That's why two galaxies that "collide" can simply pass through each other,

Finally, of course, "she spent a lot of time in suspended animation" is relevant in justifying her impatience only if there's some reason why she cannot go into suspended animation or slow her perceptual time while her computers collect information. Just as with interstellar travel, she doesn’t have to sit around and experience the boring bits.

Overall, it's going fairly well and you're doing all right with the physics (although a few parts of that look accidental). It's only the indirect implications that are tripping you up, which is very good for Fanfiction.

I kinda really fucking hate Helena.

8811132
Indeed, Twilight is gonna have to read a lot of friendship books to sort out this mess.

8811141
Well, I'm kind of not really bothering to properly read her POV sections because she's an overpowered douchebag that's putting me off the story, so yeah.

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