• Published 31st May 2019
  • 4,247 Views, 148 Comments

The Teacher - Flyingboat Boy



Houston has gone by many titles. The Star Player. The Courier. But to the ponies of Equestria he goes by a different name. The Teacher.

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Negotiations

They had been following the strange creature for a good long while now as it proceeded deeper and deeper into the forest, passing more pieces of debris on the way. Making sure that they weren't detected, they sadly had to let many of the pieces go and made sure to stay at least a few feet away from it at all times. Not that they knew it, but the creature ahead actually had no idea it was being followed as it walked back to its main camp.

What started as excitement and optimism soon faded away as the exhaustion of the day's search efforts and the constant walking finally caught up to them. In Twilight's case, a combination of sleep deprivation, severe depletion of magic, and excessive stress meant that she quickly fell to the back of the line. Every step became a struggle to stay awake as she continued to shamble on like a zombie.

"Hang on yall," warned Applejack as she extended a hoof out and stopped Rainbow Dash who was following close behind her, subsequently halting their entire convoy. "Ah think it's doing somethin'"

Sure enough, the creature passed through a particularly large clump of trees by parting the overlapping branches with its massive arms, briefly illuminating the lights beyond, before the trees once more returned to their place and their darkness once more surround the group of mares.

Nodding to one another in acknowledgment, the group of mares sprung right through the bundle of trees, ready to face whatever laid ahead of them.

...

To their surprise, however, nothing of the sort happened. Instead, they were greeted to the sight of perhaps one of the most normal campsites that they've ever seen in their lives.

That's to say if they could even call a majority of it a campsite, to begin with.

The only thing that made this place resemble a standard campsite was the orange flames that danced on the bed of wood in the center of the camp and several crumpled sleeping bags, as well as several blankets with tribal patterns, not unlike those of buffalo tribes, sown into the stitchings. Apart from that, everything else was completely foreign to the group.

The first thing they noticed was the mass amount of wires and cables that ran along the forest floor. Some were as thick as tree branches, others much shorter, but all interconnected with numerous ports and machines that scattered the campsite. Speaking of the machines, while there were several small square machines around, the ones that caught the group's attention were three large cylinder-like containers that stood side-by-side once another. Next to them was a table with a machine not unlike the ones Twilight had in her laboratory. Within the glowing blue hues of the containers, the creature they had followed stood limply within, its body held within the confines by wires and cables that connected to ports all over its body. Its once-vibrant quadruple eyes were now faded as currents of electricity flowed into its depleted body.

Further away from the mess of objects, several rectangular and square boxes stood stacked in neat piles. Some were made of metal, others made of wood. But all were stamped with a symbol, be it two interconnecting hexagons or a large white star within a large circle. As Twilight and her friend's eyes wandered over the stacks of boxes, that was when they finally saw it.

A large machine, presumably the alien's ship, laid across the grass of the meadow like a dragon sleeping on its hoard of jewels. The machine was a behemoth in size, easily four times bigger than the average pony and taller than Princess Celestia herself by at least two times. Rusted green in color, it laid slightly on its side, its flanks dotted with smaller circles of a different color and material. Two wings stuck out from the middle of its sides, each sporting large cylinder-like objects with propellers facing the forwards. To the rear of the craft, its tail divided into three parts; two of which stuck to its sides just like the wings, and one which shot right up.

All in all, while the sight was eye-boggling, Twilight herself was slightly disappointed with how things turned out. Make no mistake, while she was rather intrigued by the technologies that laid across the campsite, she wasn't completely blown out of this world. Some of the technologies looked rather similar to their Equestrian tech, such as the alien's craft which featured the same propeller system utilized in Equestrian airships, except the blades faced forwards and the frame was composed of much more metal than wood.

The same couldn't be said for her friends, who began exploring the site and rummaged through some of the cases already slightly open with keen interest. Rarity winkled in disgust at a footlocker of clothes, Pinkie Pie stared into the cylinder containing the creature with apt curiosity, Applejack and Fluttershy poked around with several green metal boxes and pulled out various food items. Rainbow Dash...

"Hey, Twi! Look at this!" exclaimed Rainbow Dash as she pulled out a contraption from one of the metal cases with hexagon markings and turned around to display it to Twilight in her hooves. Before Twilight could reprimand her for possibly injuring herself with unknown alien tech, she found her attention encapsulated to the device instead.

Twilight...wasn't sure what to make of it. In Rainbow's hooves was some sort of ring-like object, easily a head wide in diameter and shimmering a bright blue aura, yet it didn't seem to be made of any form of metal, even though Rainbow physically held it. Rather, the thing looked as if it was made of light itself.

"Oooohhh," said Pinkie as she bounced over and took a keen interest in the device, "Very alien-like"

"Nevermind that!" Rainbow Dash positioned it above her head, "How do I look?"

To all of their surprise, except Rainbow Dash of course who didn't notice, the moment she raised it above her head the device locked itself into place around her forehead. It hovered mystically, seemingly without any trances of magic, and it really did give Rainbow the impression of an Angel.

At the same time, her rainbow-colored mane completely vanished from sight, giving her the image of a bald Angel, so that was a bonus.

Really...the sight was so silly to look at! So the rest of the group couldn't help but laugh at Rainbow Dash who remained oblivious to her situation.

"What? What is it?" Her eyes widened as she followed Rarity's hooves pointing at her head. Panicking, she quickly ripped the device from her head, sighing in relief as her mane came back to her.

"Just this once...I'll agree with Rarity" mumbled Rainbow Dash as she stroked her mane possessively, "I do not look cool without my mane"

"See Rainbow Dash, It's not such a bad thing" Rarity eyes sparkled as she looked Rainbow Dash up and down, "If you just let me make a few...adjustments here and there and-"

"Nah. No way" screeched Rainbow Dash as she took several steps back, "NEVER! AGAIN!"

"But you look so good in a blouse" pouted Rarity.

"Rainbow's fashion sense aside" stepped in Applejack quickly, before the situation could blow itself even more out of proportion, "Any yall see that Griffin anywhere?"

That was a good point thought Twilight, ever since they had arrived in the alien's camp they had been so preoccupied with examining the uniqueness of its machines that they've forgotten why they even came here in the first place,

"Yes, yes, back to work" Twilight cleared her throats as she once more took command of the group, "Everypony spread out and look for the Griffin, If each of us takes a specific part of the alien's camp, we can cover more distance and hopeful-"

Before she could finish, however, the sounds of a door opening were heard behind her, cutting her off from her train of thought and directing everypony's attention to the alien's ship.

Out of a hatch on the side of the ship the black and white griffin, Natalya, emerged. Looking rather well for an alien captive, she emerged with a large pot in her beaks as she hummed a tune to herself. In her claws were several sharpened sticks, most likely done by the Griffin in question.

Natalya turned around and swung the hatch closed behind her. She then turned around as was going to keep walking until her eyes widened as she finally noticed the group of mares staring right back at her.

The meadow was deathly quiet. So quiet that it almost felt like the forest animals had gone quiet to spectate the silence between the group of mares and the griffin. For several minutes, the two groups just watched one another carefully, Natalya with suspicion and some form of relief, the Mane 6 with worry and fear.

Eventually, though, the griffin continued to walk and pushed herself pass a confused Fluttershy and Rarity laid near the campfire. Using her beak, she edged the pot she had been carrying in her beak into the heart of the flames and laid the sticks in her claws next to the flames.

"Apologies about that," said the Griffin gruffly as she straightened her feathers out and directed her attention back to the group, "Had to put the pot down. Still...awkward, no? You ponies sure took your sweet time getting here, didn't you?"

A wave of shame hit Twilight as she realized how long the griffin must have been suffering under the alien's grasp. "I'm so sorry about that. You're sister and friend warned us days ago, but finding you proved to be so...difficult " said Twilight mournfully. She was going to say more until the Griffin raised a claw in understanding.

"Gaston and Giselle? Never knew I meant that much to them. Still...nothing against you, your Highness" replied the Griffin, "The pine forest is rather tricky to navigate. Nothing against you too, Elements"

Natalya's eyes skimmed over the other group of mares, hovering over each of them in time before a particular blue one caught her eye. her eyes widened in realization before the griffin chuckled lightly. "And Rainbow Dash. Still causing trouble?"

"You know her?" asked Rarity incredulously.

"Yeah, I do" replied Rainbow Dash, the tension between the two was so thick, you could cut it like one of Pinkie Pie's cheesecakes "Met her during the Equestria Games. Quite polite...for a griffin at the time"

"And your quite arrogant and brash...for a pony" Natalya and Rainbow Dash smiled to one another, "But you've got the skills to back it up. Either way, It's so good to see you again. Better than the first time we met"

"You know what would be even better?" asked Rainbow, "If we got out of here as quickly as we can. You know where the alien is anyway?"

"Umm...he's not here right now" replied Natalya uneasily as she crossed her arms.

He?

Surely Twilight wasn't the only one that picked up on that. Glancing over to the rest of her friends, not one of them seemed remotely concerned as to how Natalya knew the alien gender. They all instead looked relieved to know that the alien wasn't there, to begin with. Twilight couldn't help it, but there was something off with the griffin. It was almost as if...she looked reluctant when Rainbow Dash opened her mouth about leaving.

"Perfect!" smirked Rainbow, completely missing the point about the alien's gender. "Let's go then! Quickly, before the thing comes back. We have a campsite not far away, so we can rest there until dawn, then we'll be on our way again"

As the majority of the group made headways into departing, Fluttershy and Twilight were the first to stop and notice the griffin not following them. Rather she had sat back down near the fire and was instead warming her claws.

"Um...are you not coming?" asked the timid mare.

"Yeeeah...It's a bit complicated" Natalya chuckled nervously as she scratched the side of her cheek, "I'll make it simple. I'm not going to leave"

"WHAT?!"

"WHAT THE HAY?!"

The entire Mane 6 yelled out in shock, but no pony was louder than Rainbow Dash who stared at sheepish griffin with a stony-look.

"Ah don understands, why 'tcha not wanna leave?" stammered Applejack.

"Oh make no mistake, I appreciate you coming all this way out here to rescue me. But I just can't...return yet. Not until my business is concluded"

"Oh yeah? What business are we talking about?" asked Rainbow Dash dangerously. Twilight noticed that the griffin looked extremely uncomfortable as she squirmed in her spot near the fire, "What business is so important that you'll-"

Rainbow's voice trailed off as she finally noticed it, as did Twilight and everyone else in the group too.

Natalya's wings, unfurled in her moment of agitation, gave the group a clear view of the layers of bandages underneath. Though a majority of her wing looked normal, the group could only shudder at the thought of what lay underneath the bandages.

"W-what happened to your wings, dearie?" cried out Rarity, absolutely mortified at what she saw. Natalya guiltily looked back at them as she mumbled.

"Nothing much...it's healing slowly...just takes time. But-" She was cut off as Rainbow Dash leaped forwards and grabbed Natalya by the shoulders with her hooves. The look that she gave the griffin could freeze water if she was a unicorn.

"What. Did. The. Alien. Do. To. You?" Said Rainbow Dash dangerously as she glared at Natalya. Slightly off-put by the pegasi's action, but not entirely surprised, Twilight watched closely as the Griffin sweated under Rainbow's gaze.

"He...he severed the nerves in my wings" replied Natalya slowly as she dropped her head. She quickly bounced back as she noticed Rainbow's thunderous expression. "But I swear it wasn't on purpose!"

"How can you say that?! Those were your wings! Without them, you'll never fly again!" argued Rainbow Dash back, "Nevermind that, Once I get my hooves on that damn alien, I'm going to-"

"And just what is it you plan to do to me, equine?"

A rustic voice entered the conversation from behind every single one of them. Its metallic tone gave it the impression of a voice spoken through a badly tuned microphone, yet there was a hint of flamboyancy there. Turning around slowly, Twilight was immediately hit with a wave of relief as she took in the alien before her.

It was human.

Granted the human looked nothing like the humans she'd seen on Sunset Shimmer's world. Whilst those humans were much more colorful in their skin tone, this human was much more gruff-looking with his olive-colored skin. The human was towering in height, easily the height of Princess Celestia herself, with sharp brown eyes, a small nose, and high cheekbones. A cascade of long black hair flowed from the left side of his head, while the other side was shaven away.

Twilight bit her lips.

This was where all resemblance to the humans in Sunset's world was completely gone. The shaven part of it head was home to a metal plate with several holes, most likely surgically done, as numerous blue and red wired connected directly into those metal ports. These wirings then trailed towards the floating robot next to the alien, plugged directly underneath the machine and formed what looked like an odd connection between the human and his machine.

Now that she had a closer look, the human seemed to have quite a preference towards metal. Apart from the fact that there was metal drilled into its skull, the human wore several pieces of metal armor over and underneath its brown trenchcoat. On its left arm was a device also made out of metal, as well as several dead rabbits hanging from a metal wire that is held in its left fist.

Twilight felt her voice hitch in her throat. Turning slowly to her friends, she observed every single one of them closely. Rainbow Dash and Applejack seemed to be the only ones on high alert. Rarity and Pinkie Pie merely watched from the outside with curiosity. While Fluttershy...

Twilight really had to feel sorry for Fluttershy. The already timid mare had gone completely pale the moment the alien had entered the camp. But she hadn't been frightened of the alien. No, rather her attention had been fixated on the dead rabbits that hung from his hands since the beginning. Twilight knew that such a sight would most likely be traumatizing for the poor mare, especially since she was so loving to all kinds of animals.

"You're a human" blurbed Twilight slowly without thinking. Her friends stared at her wide-eyed, before directing their attention back to human in question.

"You know what I am...that is...unexpected" What made this human disturbing was the fact that the voice didn't come out of his mouth, but rather the speakers on his robot. The same could be said for the expression on his face, which remained blank despite the emotions in its robotic voice.

"I must admit though, the way Natalya described you, I didn't expect you equines to be so...rough on the eyes" continued the human.

"What? What did you say buster?" Rainbow Dash, ever the hothead that she was, floated over to the human until she was eye-level and peered directly into its brown eyes. "I dare you to repeat that"

The human stared back at her, before placing two claw digits onto her nose and pushed her back slightly, "Yeah...you? Definitely rough on the eyes"

The alien pushed himself pass the fuming rainbow-maned mare and plopped himself next Natalya by the campfire. For a moment, there was an awkward standoff between the alien and the Mane 6 as they stared back and forth at one another.

"Well? Are you going to sit down or not? Fire's not getting any colder" the human asked impatiently

The Mane 6 stiffened at the human's request. Not one of them moved for several minutes, before Pinkie Pie and Twilight slowly stepped forwards and placed themselves directly opposite the griffin and the alien. Eventually, Rarity joined them, followed by Applejack, a sobbing Fluttershy, and finally Rainbow Dash.

"Looks like we're going to have guests for dinner" The group stared in silent confusion as the voice chirped sarcastically whilst the main body of the alien clapped, albeit with a lackluster effort. The alien held up the limp forms of the rabbits for all of them to see, "Question. Are you capable of digesting meat-based sustenance?"

At his words, Fluttershy completely broke down into a flood of tears. Her shrieks of pain could be heard all across the meadows, causing quite the ruckus as Twilight could see several forest animals poke their heads out from bushes to see what all the commotion was about. As Applejack and the girls surrounded Fluttershy to calm her down, Twilight watched closely to see how the human would react.

"Hmm...overly dramatic, but not unexpected" Twilight couldn't believe it, but there was a hint of a chuckle in its tone, "Quite stupid of me to think that herbivores could digest meat. We'll have to see what else is there"

Ignoring the crying yellow mare, the human got to his feet and proceeded to one of the crates close to the crashed airship. He rummaged through the wooden crate for quite a few minutes, before extracting several lime-green colored boxes from its confines.

The alien took another pot from the crate and filled it to the brim with the contents of the lime-green boxes. He then removed the pot Natalya had left in the flames and replaced it with the one in his claws.

"Natalya, be a good birdie and get me some plates"

Birdie?

"How many do you want?" asked the griffin in question as she opened a green crate.

"Around a dozen or so would do"

The plates were collected and passed onto the alien, which gratefully accepted them. He then reached into Natalya's pot and attempted to grasp onto a small bar simmering away in the boiling water, but retracted it quickly due to the heat.

"Let me get that for you" Using her magic, Twilight levitated the object out of the boiling water and handed it over to the alien who accepted it cautiously.

"Thank you...equine," said the alien slowly.

"My name's Twilight Sparkle, Mr. Human"

"Very well...Thank you. Ms. Sparkle"

The alien flipped the knife in its claws and positioned it near its eyes. The normally vacant eyes squinted slightly as the group watched its actions silently.

"Yes...very good. Cleaned."

"Pardon me for askin', but why's that there knife glowing purple?" asked Applejack curiously.

"Do not worry about that...erm, name?"

"Name's Applejack"

"Ms. Applejack" insisted the human, "As for why the knife glows purple. That's just Red Cloud residue in the Saturnite's corrosion reacting with basic solutions. Nothing harmful about it"

"Saturnite?"

"A ceramic and metal composite alloy" explained the alien, "'Space-age' metal. Lightweight, durable and able to absorb enormous amounts of kinetic and heat energy. Uses include artillery shells, armor plating, even kitchen knives. Although..."

The alien twirled the blade in its hands with expert precision, "The knife is uncanny in its sharpness, almost ridiculously so. The number of chopping boards this thing can go through..."

The alien chuckled to himself darkly before turning back to the stunned group of mares, "I'm sure you all have many questions, but we shall skip those for now and focus on introductions. You are?"

"Oh-oh, me next, me next!" Pinkie Pie jumped up and down like a filly high on sugar and bounced over to the alien to shake his claws, "Pinkie Pie's my name. Party's are my game."

"Nice to meet you, Ms. Pie," said the alien as he let his claws be moved up and down erratically by the enthusiastic mare.

"Call me Pinkie" Pinkie got scooted closer to the alien and her voice lowered, "Say...do you like parties?"

"No" replied the alien simply. Pinkie's wild mane quickly deflated like a balloon, sounds and all included, as well as her joyful expression.

"W-what? How could you not enjoy parties?!"

"No reason to. Been so long since I had one."

"Well...we can't have that now, can we?" Pinkie's mane inflated once more as a determined expression drew itself on her face, "Once we get back to Ponyville, I'll make you the greatest party ever! Just you wait!"

Pinkie jumped back to her spot, mumbling to herself about many things party related. The alien watched her with apt curiosity before directing his attention back to mares yet to introduce themselves.

"Next?"

"Rarity, darling" Rarity moved over and shook his claws with slight hesitation. Her eyes twinkled as she took in the alien apparel, "You simply must visit me once we get back to Ponyville. I'll need to do something about that dreadful attire of your's"

"Excuse me?" In a remarkable display of emotion, one of the alien's eyebrows rose in question, "What's wrong with what I'm wearing right now?"

"Why, everything!" Rarity cried out as she reached up and touched the brown material on its trenchcoat. "This material is simply dreadful. I've never seen such a badly degraded piece of material. What is this by the way?"

"Leather"

"Oh! I use leather quite extensively myself, dearie. Where do you get your leather from?" Rarity asked with felicitous curiosity as she placed her head closer to the material to get a better look at it.

"Brahmins"

"What's a Brahmin?"

"Mutated cows"

COWS?!

Twilight wasn't the only one to gag at that thought. Most of the girls turned either green or white at the mere thought of it. Poor Fluttershy was on the brink of fainting.

"Right...apart from that..." Rarity grimaced as she pulled away and directed her attention to something other than the leather the alien wore. "We'll have to fix that. Oh, yes. The metal plates will have to come off too"

"Sorry Ms. Rarity, but that is a no-no" replied the alien.

"But what is the point of it?! It makes you look so bulky, and it simply must be uncomfortable as Tartarus to wear with all that weight" argued Rarity.

"But it serves its purpose and that is all that I need. As long as the armor that I wear can soak up bullets, plasma, and lasers, then that is all that is necessary"

Rarity tsked and pouted her lips as she pulled back and returned to her place by the fire, "This isn't over, just so you know"

Next to come up was Rainbow Dash, who still remained rather annoyed at how the alien treated her before, but still stuck her hooves out to shake the alien claw.

'Rainbow Dash. Wonderbolt" she eyed him up and down with a critical eye, "I don't know what you did to Natalya, but if it was something bad, then I'll make sure that you'll regret ever coming here"

"Rainbow Dash!!" reprimanded Applejack, "Was that really necessary?"

To her surprise though, the alien's voice chuckled rather sinisterly from the robot ball. "Don't worry about it Ms. Applejack. I take no insult to the statement. All shall be explained shortly. But for now, I'll like to ask a simple question; What is this Wonderbolt thing you mentioned?"

"Thing? The Wonderbolts aren't a thing, they're the thing" bragged Rainbow Dash.

"You didn't answer my question"

"I was getting there. Simply put, the Wonderbolts are the best of the best, the greatest thing to have ever existed in Equestria" Rainbow placed a hoof over her chest proudly, "The best flyers in all of Equestria, and I'm proud to be a part of it"

"Sure..." the voice responded as if it was unsure of itself, "I bet they are...Mr. Dash"

With just one word, the tense atmosphere of the conversation came crashing down. Animals and insects went as quiet as death, leaving the only sounds of the campfire crackling eligible. Everyone in the camp froze, with the only oblivious one been the human who stirred the pot with a metal spatula.

The first sounds that broke out were Pinkie's bad concealed laughter, then Rarity joined it, then Twilight, Natalya and Applejack too had to shove hooves/talons over their muzzles/beaks to muffle their own badly concealed laughter. Giggling echoed across the meadow and even Fluttershy, who had been terrified up to this point, gave a small smile.

Funny of all was of course Rainbow Dash, who froze in midair and somehow suspended herself despite her wings not actually moving. Her tail had gone completely stiff as her mouth hung open.

"M-m-m-Mr?!" croaked Rainbow Dash with barely suppressed rage.

"Why yes, that's what you are after all, aren't you?" The human looked her up, though he sounded unsure of himself as he spoke again, "Aren't you a male?"

"I'M A MARE!!"

"Huh, who would have guessed. Sorry, but you..." The alien gave Rainbow Dash another scrutinizing gaze, "Don't really accentuate the 'feminine' persona"

"See Rainbow Dash? Even the alien agrees with me" added Rarity from the sidelines, "Now if you would just let me-"

"NEVER!" screamed Rainbow Dash to the high heavens as she zoomed back to her seat, "Just...never mention this again!"

"Sure...sir," said the human cheekily.

"Argh!!' screamed the furious mare exasperatedly.

"And you are?" The human directed his attention to the final member of their group, the one that Twilight had the greatest fear for. She found her fears warranted, as the yellow mare went pale and quickly scooted as far away from the human as she could.

"Sorry about Fluttershy," said Twilight protectively as she stood in front of her before the human could take a step towards her. "She is terrified of you. Mostly because of the rabbits"

"Is that so?" Fluttershy nodded her head slowly behind Twilight's back in response to the alien's question, "Apologies, but that is the way of nature. My species is capable of digesting both meat and plants, however, such scarcities in resources often make the choices a...luxury that I cannot afford"

"But...those rabbits had a f-family...a...life that they had,...you took that...away from them" mumbled Fluttershy.

"True, but I'm not going to put their lives above my own. If what is necessary for survival is to take a few lives, then I shall do so without hesitation"

The alien flipped his knife around until the blade ran underneath his claws, "Look away if you must. Birdie, pass me the plates. Watch closely at what I'm about to do"

Twilight watched with closely at what the alien did, as well as a majority of the girls and Natayla. The alien made a few quick incision near the rear of the first rabbit. He then grabbed the flap of skin that hung from his incisions and with one quick tear, he skinned the entire rabbit in one fell swoop. Twilight felt the pit in her stomach grow as he then discarded the fur and flipped the raw, red carcass around, dissecting the rabbit and opening its insides for all of them to see.

"What you want to do is use the other side of your knife. Easier to cut through the meat and a less likely chance to pierce the internal organs" instructed the alien as Natalya slid a plate over to him as he worked. The alien reached in and pulled out several strands of entrails, as well as a large ball-shaped organ. "See this? Bladder. If we had pierced this then most of the meat would have been spoiled. Discard the bladder, guts, brains, head, and stomach. Don't need those. What you can have for extras are the..."

A small piece of vibrant red meat was placed on one of the plates. "Heart"

Two smaller purple pieces placed next to it. "Kidneys"

Two flabby pieces of meat came next. "Lungs"

For the final piece, the alien examined it lovingly in its claws for a brief moment.

"Ah yes. The liver. Such a powerhouse, it cleans stuff, detoxifies stuff and synthesizes proteins. Such a valuable organ" He gently placed it away with the rest of the accepted organs on his meat tray, "And yet...leave it on the pan for a few seconds longer than it must and you've already blown it. Such a delicate thing"

He soon fell silent as he scooped the last of the rabbit's innards out and flipped it around once more. He then flipped the knife to its other side and began making cuts out of the outer flesh. Soon, the plates were stacked with chunks of rabbit meat, the repugnant smell emulating to the group of mares and turning them all green.

"Here" The alien flipped the knife around and offered it to Natalya handle first, "Your turn. Careful with the knife, can't remember the number of times I nearly sliced off my fingers."

As he left Natalya to try her luck with the second rabbit, the alien directed his attention to the fire and pushed the pot he had placed before in there slightly to the side. He then took out a small pan and began slowly placing the chunks of meat on it to fry.

"Umm...Ah don't mean to inject mah' self" Applejack flinched as the meat made contact with the hot pan and the sizzling of fat became apparent, "But we never got yah name"

"Who I am is....difficult to explain," said the alien, "But if you want the most simplistic answer. This body's name is Houston. If you want the complicated answer, then the one currently speaking to you is Houston's brain"

"I'm sorry, brain?" asked Rainbow Dash incredulously.

"It was Birdie's idea to tackle the language barrier" Houston pointed towards the griffin still butchering away at the rabbit, "She raised a good point. I had built a device for communication, but it was limited to one creature at a time. I didn't have the time to build a hundred more, so I just did the next best thing. I plugged myself in a machine, and now the brain is the one talking"

"You say that the brain is the one talking, yet you refer to yourself in the first person. Why is that?" asked Twilight.

"Cause whether it is the brain who speaks or the body that speaks. We are Houston in the end" replied the brain, "Heart, Spine. Whatever it may be, they are all intricate parts of you"

"Cool! Does this mean my heart and spine can talk too?" asked Pinkie excitedly.

"Erghh...you do realize that those particular organs lack neurons, don't you? That means can't speak?"

"But a brain lacks a mouth! Rebut that Mr. Smartypants" argued Pinkie.

"I...I...My inferior frontal gyrus is wired up to both a language translator and a thought-synthesizing processor in my robot. Your heart and spine can't be wired up to thought-synthesizing processors! They can't SPEAK!!"

"Hey, Twilight?" Rainbow Dash nudged Twilight gently, "Can you explain all this egghead mumbo-jumbo to me?"

"Very Well, let me put it in simplistic terms for you. Brain. Smart. Heart. Stupid. Spine. Very stupid. You? Exceptionally stupid" Applejack and Rarity had to push themselves against Rainbow dash to hold her back from pouncing on Houston.

"Why are you such a jerk now?" asked Twilight slightly annoyed.

"Meh. Just felt like it" yawned the brain, "But don't think that it is limited to me. If I were to plug your brains into thought-synthesizing processors, then you might be just as bad, if not worse. The reason most of us aren't complete and total bastards in public is that our true opinions are held back by morality, a sense of social pressures and fear of social stigmatization"

"So the reason that you are so snarky right now..."

"Its because the outlet has allowed me to speak my thoughts without filters such as second thinking. What's the expression? 'Speaking your mind?' I just took it literally. The real Houston is closed off, calculative, and hides his manipulations behind a veil of sympathy and care. Now I'll admit that I'm partially responsible for that persona, but in all honesty, I'm one of the many pieces that make up the complexities of a sentient being."

"This...is so weird. A talking brain is making me rethink myself" mumbled Twilight as she rubbed her head. The alien sighed before taking several plates and distributing the yellow pasta he'd been cooking evenly.

"Might as well get comfortable, Ms. Sparkle. Dinner has just begun" The alien slid a plate to each of them, forks and spoons accompanying each of their plates. Twilight, too exhausted and hungry to care at this point, dug in without a second thought.


Overall, dinner with the alien wasn't as bad as Twilight thought it would be. The food Houston (calling him brain would just be complicated) served them wasn't as bad as she expected. After he and Natalya assured them that it contained no meat, most of the group was more than happy to start eating. Fluttershy just needed a few minutes to mop up her crying.

Speaking of the meat, Twilight watched with fascination as Houston and Natalya consumed the meat. While sickening at first, she soon grew accustomed to it as she allowed herself to delve into her more nerdy side and watch the human's teeth tear apart the meat with ease.

Of course, there were moments where her curiosity couldn't even hide her disdain. Especially when Natalya and Houston took their time consuming the rabbit's hearts with relish.

Conversations were polite as the two groups exchanged comments back and forth. After it was established to the human that he was in Equestria, and to them that he was from another world, the conversation so took a more casual tone. Twilight for one had a rather extensive debate with Houston of the principles of magic, seeing as how he said he came from a world that didn't have such a thing and seemed to have quite a scornful outlook towards it. He, in turn, gave brief descriptions of the technological marvels of his world, never telling her how they worked, just a vague illustration of what they did.

"I must admit...I may have been too quick to judge on magic. I did not expect it to have such a strong dependence on the field of science. Nor that its limitations, too, lie within the realms of science" said Houston as he discarded another bone onto the slowly growing pile. The human had made sure to make the bone pile far away from Fluttershy, just in case she breaks down into another outburst.

"Yes, yes," said Twilight impatiently as she waited for her turn to ask the next question. She had to admit, it felt absolutely frustrating talking to this alien. Every time she tried to squeeze any more information out of the alien about his technology, he would skimp out of the detail and move on to another topic. It was like he was purposefully only giving her the hints and minor details, skipping on all the intricate workings of the tech he was talking about. "You were saying something about medical technology"

"Hmm...? Oh yes, humanity has developed several medicinal technologies. Our greatest advancement's in that field has to be the Auto-Docs line"

"Auto-Docs?"

"Automated Doctors," said Houston, "Machines capable of performing any forms of surgery, as long as you have the appropriate programs to supplement them. Try to use them without the correct programs and the machines will tear you apart in confusion. Other than that, the machines have an almost completely 100% success rate"

"Could these machines of yah's fix a pony's hip?" asked Applejack as her eyes lit up, no doubt thinking about Granny Smith.

"Of course they can. But as I said, only if the correct program is fed to the machine's databanks" replied Houston as he took a sip of his tea, "Why? Are you interested?

"Perhaps" whistled Applejack innocently, "Yall have that machine with ya?"

"I do. It's in my ship" Houston waved down Applejack's excitement though, "But Birdie's gotten first dibs. Sorry"

Natalya?

The group turned their attention back to the griffin, whose head current laid across the human's lap and snoozed away peacefully. Having fallen asleep with a chunk of meat in her mouth, Houston reached a finger in a retracted it and consumed it himself, much to the rest of the group's disgust.

"You never did tell us how you met Natalya, dear," said Rarity as she stared at the griffin's sleeping form. "Or why she refuses to leave and chooses to stay with you"

...

The human fell silent, slowly stroking Natalya's feathered head. As the group watched on from across the flames, they felt as if they had encroached on a topic they perhaps shouldn't have brought up so soon.

"Your...early...arrival sparks a problem. I knew that contact with your world's populace was inevitable. Natalya was the first that I met and her...predicament was a perfect place to start"

"I'm sorry, predicament?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Her wings. I found her lying on the fringes of a canyon. I did his best to fix her up, but...complications in her biology resulted in an unfortunate loss of limbs" Houston poked the dying fire to get more out of it, "Hope was not lost. Communications were established. And a deal was struck. She would provide information about your world, in response, I would repair her wings"

"But how can you repair them when you were responsible for breaking them in the first place?" asked Twilight.

"Hold on, this has somethin' to do with that there machine of yours, innit?" interjected Applejack.

"Correct. If she provided all the information that I needed, then I could have developed a program for the Auto-Docs to fix her wings. We did not expect a...search effort to come looking for her" Houston readjusted himself to get a more comfortable position whilst keeping her dozing head on his lap, "It is not in a griffin's nature to care for one another. Or so she told me. Our plans relied on that aspect of griffin nature. If successful, she would return to the general population without any harm and I could have taken my time to slowly reveal myself. But now that plan is trashed and we find ourselves at an impasse"

"How so?"

"What to do? By contract, she is yet to receive the treatment I promised her and at the moment I lack the knowledge to make it happen. You come here, to my home, and no doubt wish to take Natalya back with you and return to civilization. That spells problems for my current dealings with her"

"Couldn't you just come with us?" asked Rainbow Dash simply as if it was the clearest answer in the world.

"And leave my plane, my weapons, my technologies in the middle of the forest?" rebutted Houston, "I will die before he allows anyone else to touch my technology. No...if I'm to go anywhere, then my tech must come with him"

"Wait. I think I have a solution to that problem" Twilight pulled out the bag she had brought with her, which up to this moment she had neglected to bring up. "If I use a shrinking spell, I should be able to put it in this bag and take it back with us"

"Maybe...Magic might work," said Houston uneasily, "But what about accommodation? Where am I suppose to stay? Especially in a world that has never seen me before and most likely will not respond well. How am I meant to integrate into a world like that?"

"I-I can put in a good word for you" responded Twilight, "I am a Princess after all"

The human chewed his lips, which was quite unsettling considering the fact that his eyes remained blank and vacant. "Should have guessed that you were someone important. But fine. Considering the fact that you give a good word. What am I suppose to do with that without any legitimate way to back it up?"

'You could always work for us!" Twilight had a sudden stroke of genius as an idea came into her head, "We wouldn't mind having another teacher at the School of Friendship"

"A teacher?" For the first time since they've met the human, this was the first time that there was genuine uncertainty in his tone. All the other times were either cleverly faked, or so perfectly acted unless Twilight took the time to listen in and get a closer look. "I don't know Ms. Sparkle. A teacher is perhaps one of the last things you would want me to be. Especially...friendship"

"That won't be necessary" assured Twilight. "You could teach my students about your world. In fact, you could also teach us about it as well. We've just begun to learn about your world and there's still so much left to learn"

"But...but..."

"Or" interrupted Twilight, "You could just stay here in the forest for a long time"

It wasn't in Twilight nature to act so manipulatively. At the moment, however, her excitement grew so it clouded her usual better judgment. She was just so excited at the prospect of a human in her world and all the knowledge they could get out of him, that he smile grew wider and wider as she watched the human sit and ponder.

"How soon can you shrink my equipment?" asked Houston slowly as his resolve capitulated and Twilight internally squealed.

"Around tomorrow"

"Tomorrow morning it is then" replied Houston slowly as he removed Natalya's head from his lap and got to his feet. He whistled loudly and soon a robotic dog emerged from the shadow of the forest's edge. "B-6-RK will guard you for the night. There should be some extra blankets and the such in that brown case over there. Take what you need, but don't touch anything else"

With a loud hissing sound, the pod containing the creature they followed, emerged and waddled over to Houston and the group. Bending over, it reached down and picked Natalya gently, before following his master over to the hatch of Houston's plane.

Opening the heavy doors, the robot came in first, Houston remained behind to give the group a few parting words.

"I hope this contract proves to be long and beneficial for all of us. Sweet dreams" And with that, the heavy metal doors slammed closed. Leaving the group of mares to their thoughts, their fears, and their excitement.


"Set her down A L P H A" commanded Houston while pointing to the retractable bed built near the cockpit, "You can return to your charge pod afterward. You shall need all the strengths for tomorrow"

After making sure that the griffin was carefully tucked into the bed, A L P H A quietly retracted himself from the tight and cramped area. Houston too was going to join his robot and grab a sleeping bag to sleep at the back of the plane, until he noticed he was being held back by a talon.

"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" Houston turned around and stared down at the offending griffin, eyes wide awake and holding no trances of exhaustion.

"I want to speak to Houston," said Natalya simply, pushing herself up into an upright position.

"You can speak to me right now"

"Not you" Natalya's eyes flashed dangerously, "The real you. The real Houston I know. Not some alien comic book cliche, but the Houston that healed me. The Houston that fed me. Warmed me. Saved me"

The symbiosis of man and machine fell silent as the griffin continued to apply pressures to his wrist. Eventually, he sighed and a hand reached up and ripped the blue and red wires out of their ports on his head. The moment he did that, color flushed his cheeks and life returned to his previously blank eyes. As the eyebot floated away from Houston, he reached over to the table and fetched the headsets he built a few days ago, passing one to Natalya and keeping the last for himself.

"Hey, Birdie" He flinched as the griffin threw herself at him and into his chest, "Happy to see me, aren't you?"

"It's great to hear your voice again. Not that garbled mess that came from the speakers" mumbled Natalya in his chest. She quickly pushed herself away from him and took a few deep breaths. "I was so afraid when you came out of that Auto-Doc. You sounded so different"

"We knew the risks Natalya" Houston patted her shoulders reassuringly, "Still, it all worked out so no harm was done, yeah?"

"Perhaps" She crossed her arms, "So...what is this about a deal you've made with the princess and her gang of lackeys behind my back?"

"Hehe..." Houston laughed nervously, "I take it you didn't like it?"

"Not at all. I think you and I know that it was bound to happen sooner or later. What I wanted to know is why you'd manipulated them into thinking you were desperate. Or how you attained so many conditions onto your side of the contract?"

"How'd you find out? Are you mad at me?" Natalya smiled for the first time and shook her head.

"To read character is every griffin's gift. Nah, you did something every griffin does. Bend the conditions so that you get the better end of the deal" she punched him playfully on the shoulder, 'I find that admirable, really. Still, why did you do it? Most griffins don't even have the guts to bargain with royalty. Much less a pony princess"

"Basic rules of the bargain. Always. Make sure that you the better end of the deal. Doesn't matter with who. Doesn't matter what it takes" Houston threw himself into a chair adjacent her bed and leaned back in contentment, "I'm getting accommodations, I'm getting paid, no one touches my tech, and all I have to do is traumatize a bunch of kids about my world. What's not to love?"

"Exactly! Feels great to speak to someone about things like this. Griffins are too selfish to bother being my friend and ponies are too busy buried in flowers to even consider such a pessimistic thing. Still..." Natalya trailed off as her smile slowly dropped, "What about the contract you've made with me? Where does this leave me?"

"Birdie..." Houston got up and slowly stroked her cheek, forcing her head up to look into his warm brown eyes, "I expected more faith from you. Didn't I say? I always fulfill my contracts. It doesn't matter how many I take. I will always finish all of them...to the best of my ability. If it makes you better, hopefully where we are going has a library with plenty of books on Griffin biology"

"Now sleep" He lightly pushed her back and forced her onto the bed, "Tomorrow is going to be hectic"

Getting off his chair, Houston stared out of one of the plane windows, seeing the silhouettes of the pony princess and her friends. Sighing in exhaustion, he shut the covers and walked down the hallways to set his sleeping bag down on the cold metal.

"Goodnight Houston" yawned the griffin from her place of the bed.

"Night...Birdie"