• Published 10th Oct 2018
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Voyage of the Equinox - Starscribe

Equestria's first interstellar ship is crewed by the best and brightest Equestria has to offer. Twilight Sparkle and her friends are determined to uncover the origin of the mysterious alien Signal, no matter what it costs. A comment-driven story.

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Chapter 1

Captain Twilight Sparkle shifted uneasily in the confines of her insulated sleeper suit. She could feel the fabric pressing down on her coat, constricting her movement. It’s alright. Once I go into hibernation, I won’t be feeling anything.

She pushed off gently from the back of the elevator, then used only an occasional flap of her wings to keep her moving through cryogenics. She passed five other pods, each of which was already occupied, and had been for weeks. There was no way to look inside, but the glowing name she saw on each screen was enough of a reminder that she wasn’t really alone.

Geologist, Pinkie Pie said the first of the screens, along with the crewmare’s cutie mark. Heart rate .01 BPM. Lifesigns nominal. So went all the others, each one shining a friendly green. Cryogenics were a testing field of thaumic science now—not at all the shotgun in the dark of spellcraft that had sent the Crystal Empire spiraling forward in time. But fundamentally, the theory was the same. And equally secure.

Twilight’s own pod waited in back, its mechanisms open and exposed. The cot within had been pulled out, along with the intricate series of enchanted crystals, plastic tubes, and flashing circuitry.

But that wasn’t what she cared to see. No, she was far more interested in the dragon sitting beside it.

Second Officer Spike wore no compression suit, only plain fabric with a belt holding his various tools. He clutched a tablet in front of him, and seemed to be studying its contents intently. He looked up as Twilight approached, eyes widening with joy at seeing her. “You finished your goodbyes, Captain?”

Twilight grinned stupidly at the title. It was either that, or let him see her pain. “You don’t have to call me that.”

“Do now,” he said, rising to his claws and saluting. “We’re Equestria’s best. They’ll be watching the holovids of this for centuries. You know they’ll watch this part.” He pointed sideways, towards the large display above the last pod. There was a camera built into the screen, even if it was too small for Twilight to see. And Spike was probably right.

“The little colts and fillies watching this shouldn’t think we’re not real ponies, Spike. It doesn’t matter how important our mission is.” She reached out, pulling him close to her with a wing. It wasn’t easy, not with the wrap thoroughly covering her feathers. But she stretched against the spandex, and he seemed to get the message. She held him there for a few seconds, as tightly as she’d held her brother back in Equestria. “What about you? Last chance to change your mind.”

Spike laughed, though there was something of nervousness to it. “You’ve got one escape pod, Captain. You really offering to give it to me?” His voice cracked, and he looked away, wiping a tear from his face with the back of his claw.

“We’ll have a lander by the time we get there,” Twilight said. “Better than any escape pod. It’s not like there will be anywhere to escape to before we get to Proximus. If something goes wrong, we either sleep until Equestria can send a rescue, or…” She trailed off. There was no need to say more.

Spike nodded. “I knew I’d be saying goodbye to some ponies when I came, Twi. I picked the ones I couldn’t give up. Besides…” He chuckled weakly. “In dragon time, forty years is nothing! Maybe Rarity won’t think I’m a baby when she wakes up.”

“Specialist Rarity,” Twilight corrected, though her tone was teasing. “Seriously though, don’t be afraid to trade with me if you start…” She reached up towards her head, making a twisting motion with one hoof. “Just because the psychologists say that dragons are solitary creatures doesn’t mean there’s any shame in taking some time to rest. Or waking me up for a little company.”

He nodded. “I’m not too worried. We’ve got the tight-beam from Equestria following us the whole way. Big Mac says he’ll make sure they include all the solo adventure modules published in all of Equestria.”

Twilight nodded. There was a few seconds of silence between them, with nothing but the steady hum of the Equinox’s engines.

“You really think we might find somepony waiting for us when we get there?” Spike asked.

“Somepony sent the signal,” Twilight said. “We get to be Equestria’s first ambassadors. I know we’ll make a good impression.”

“Assuming they’re still there in forty years,” Spike muttered. But his pessimism didn’t seem serious. He offered Twilight the pad he was holding, which she took in her magic. “One last thing before your nap. Preliminary readings from Proximus. The computer wants direction on which landing craft to build. Uh… material permitting.”

Twilight scanned the tablet at a glance.

There wasn’t as much as she’d hoped. Calculations based on observations of Proximus suggested there were three planets, at least one of which was in its predicted habitable zone for liquid water. There was a large gas giant almost certainly outside that range, which might or might not be composed of the hydrogen they would need to make a return trip. Assuming the Equinox is still working after forty years. From that information, the Equinox’s computer had suggested one of several designs Equestria had provided to them.

Twilight had a decision to make. They only had the resources to build a single lander.

1. Construct the Wraith (Visual and machine stealth capabilities)
2. Construct the Pioneer (Reinforced to survive in extreme environments)
3. Construct the Prospector (Equipped with mining and fabrication hardware)
4. Let Spike Decide (He’ll be awake anyway, might as well let him choose once there’s more information)

(Confidence 50 required)

Author's Note:

Hey there ponies! Feel free to use the comments to discuss, but note that I don’t count them for the purposes of what happens next. If you want to make your voice heard, make sure you do it in the poll. This entry’s poll:


What you’re reading is a CYOA-style adventure story, fully driven by its user feedback. This story is written using a system called Mythic, a GM-simulator that allows me to be fully in the driver’s seat for the prose, without actually knowing what will happen next. Success or failure in this story is fully governed by the fickle hand of fate, as well as the wisdom of those who chose to vote on it.

You can go ahead and vote in older polls if you want, but obviously they won’t retroactively change the text going forward, so the links are left behind mostly because I’m lazy and as a record of previous decisions.

If you’d like to take a look at my semi-regularly updated blog post with character sheets and stuff, go ahead and visit here: https://www.fimfiction.net/blog/834930/voyage-of-the-equinox-resource-page

And if you’re curious about the dicerolls and the system, you can see all of it for yourself and verify that I’m not cheating on my discord here: https://discord.gg/mQfUn75

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