• Published 14th Aug 2020
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Star Trek: A Knights Gambit - Sparky Brony



The Enterprise is off on another adventure...but this time, sentient quadrupeds?

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Chapter 1.

Author's Note:

In the endless blackness, a single beam of light slowly illuminate the ebony and ivory game board. Two rows of intricately carved figurines stand on either side. Gleaming marble like figures facing off with dark onyx pieces, their placement mirrored. Slowly a single hand moves to pick up a pawn moving it forward a space, and a soft chuckle can be heard, "Your move Mon Capitaine, you had better hurry, or it will be mate in 67 turns."

Princess Celestia was quite a happy pony. It had been months since the last world ending monster had attempted to take over Equestria. Her most faithful student has actually gone on vacation with her friends. She was still getting the occasional dragonfire letter from her fellow princess talking about this quiet time in Equestria. The Storm King’s forces had retreated after his defeat. Equestria was heading towards a great age of advancement and prosperity.

Today had been quite a momentous day for the Solar Princess; she had presided over the signing of two treaties. She and her dear sister had been negotiating for months with both the yaks of Yakyakistan and the Minotaur Confederacy to expand trade with Equestria. The signing of those treaties was a source of great celebration for Celestia. She was pleasantly tired as she headed towards the highest parapet in the Canterlot Castle. She could perform her duties anywhere, she could feel where the Equestrian sun was at all time due to her magical connection to it. But she preferred to not just be outside, she liked being visible to her subjects as she performed her daily duties in continuing the orbit of the sun around their world. Without her input, the sun would continue its orbit, but it would slow down and eventually stop after a few days. So she regulated the day of her world, just as her sister regulated the moon, which also had the added effects of moving the tides and the phases of the moon. Not to mention her time spent in the world of dreams, helping the ponies as they slept

Her magic touched the sun, that connection having her horn light much brighter than any other time she accessed her magic. Though that was normal for her, lighting the entire area as she moved the sun. The sun sent back a short pulse of power to her, acknowledging her input into its perpetual orbit like a dog wagging at a command. She smiled as she let the connection fade back to its usual background noise. The sun slowly slid under the horizon, eliciting a smile from the alicorn of the day. Luna stepped closer to her, her own duties regarding the moon complete, she nuzzled Celestia’s cheek lovingly.

“Good night, my sister,” she murmured softly as Celestia walked slowly towards her quarters. She nodded at the guards walking their nightly rounds as she headed into her suite. Sleep beckoned the alicorn mare, and she was quite happy to comply. Again she lit her horn and pulled her royal regalia from around her neck, her hoofguards were next, and finally her crown. As her horn quieted her ears flicked. She heard something that was completely out of her experience, an almost musical chime along with an undercurrent of electrical discharge. She turned around in her darkened chamber, her eyes wide as she flicked her ears, trying to pinpoint the source of that sound. She rounds the corner from her bedchamber into her study and stops, one hoof in the air in surprise.

Standing before her desk was a creature she’s never even contemplated, bipedal like the minotaurs, but that was where the similarities ended. Then she blinked. He, or it, was wearing some kind of clothing consisting of dark black cloth from its ankles up to it’s neck, though there was bright red shoulders. On its chest was an oval pin with some sort of delta shape on it, on the neck of it’s bizarre outfit was four silver circles. The face of the creature was mostly hairless, only having a thin fringe around the ears. She cocked her head to the side, the quiet authority of the creature was enough to stay her hoof, she did not feel in danger from this biped standing before her. Though a single shout would have a dozen royal guards roaring into her quarters.

That shout was never uttered.

After a slow count, the creature inhaled and spoke. She could tell that it’s language was very different than hers, though a flick of the ears pinpointed that her language was coming from the pin on its chest.

“My name is Jean-Luc Picard. I’m here because your world is in great danger, Princess Celestia, and we need your help.”


*****==8==*****


Star Trek: The Next Generation

A Knight’s Gambit

*****==8==*****


Eighteen hours earlier.

Captains Log: Stardate 46225.2

The Enterprise is in route from Starbase 395 to the Betazed star system. Interstellar sensors have determined there is an incoming massive gravitic anomaly, on its current path, it will pass quite close to the planet of Counselor Troi’s birth, to devastating effect. At its current speed, it will arrive in a matter of a few weeks. Our orders are to close and scan this anomaly, which has so far resisted any attempts to view it via long range sensors, and mitigate the threat to a populated planet. Measured gravity readings indicate something planet sized or even larger. Yet sensor views simply show a dark cloud. The Enterprise will be arriving at the cloud momentarily.

Checking his chronometer, Captain Jean-Luc Picard stood up from his desk and strode to the door from his ready room. As he entered the bridge, his first officer, Commander William Riker looked up, nodding to the Captain as the android officer spoke up from his ops station. “We are entering visual range of the anomaly, Captain.”

“Very good, Mister Data, drop out of warp and bring it up on screen.”
As Picard sits in his seat, he gives his shirt a slight tug to ensure his uniform is sitting properly. A moment later the star ship collapses its warp field, bringing back fully into normal space, the stars shifting from appearing as streaks to normal spots of light. Visual sensors trained at the coordinates reported by the other sensors of the Enterprise. The sensor information was fed into the holographic visual system at the front of the bridge. After some computer processing, the image appeared on the main viewscreen.
Looking at the screen, the image displayed just seemed to be a normal star scape, “Magnify, Mr. Data.”
Data taps on his LCARS and the image wobbles slightly as it zooms in, still showing very little out of the ordinary.
“What are we looking at, Data?” Picard leaned to the side a bit, “Are we viewing the correct spot?”
“Yes sir, though unsure exactly what we are seeing, Captain.” Looking back down at his control panel, Data again taps on the LCARS, “Visually, this is the correct location. From this position, several stars, however are incorrect.”
Blinking Picard looks up at the screen, then to Data. “Explain.”
“A few stars seem to be missing, others seem to be phase or spectrum shifted, not appearing exactly where they should be, or the same color or magnitude they should be.” Data looks up at the main display.
“Okay, what do active sensors say?”
“Stand by.” The pale hands of the android officer flew across his console. As he worked, the computer added details to the near featureless blackness, painting emitted energy, along with reflected information that the computer slowly rendered. Before too long, Data had pulled up a fairly complete view of the cloud.”
“Captain, what we are observing is not interstellar dust, but an energy barrier, roughly elliptical in shape, with a diameter of nearly twenty AU’s. Gravimetric sensors indicate there is at least one planetary mass inside, along with one or two smaller masses.” He taps his board a few times.
“Can we launch a probe?”
“Doubtful, sir, a probe would likely be torn apart by the gravitational eddies at the objects boundary.” Data said, looking up.
Picard looked to the android then the screen again. “Options, Mr. Data?”
“While the barrier itself seems to be a gravity distortion effect, of unknown origin, a low level warp field should allow the Enterprise to pass through unharmed at low impulse speeds. I would, however, recommend going through with full shields and extra power diverted to structural integrity fields to mitigate any effects of the gravitational shear from crossing the barrier.”
“Agreed. Yellow alert, shields up.” Picard said, “Make it so, Mister Data.”
Riker quickly tapped the com panel, sounding all hands, “All personal, brace for impact, we are about to pass through an unknown gravitational field. Damage control teams to standby.”
The automated systems instantly responded to the verbal command.
“Aye, sir.” The helmsman said softy has his own hands play across his board. The starship probed cautiously forward.

Monitoring his displays, Data called out. “Entering the barrier in ten seconds.” Riker found himself gripping the arm rests of his seat as the ship appeared to be diving into nothingness.

“Contact.” Days says as the viewscreen flares and the ship shudders as it passes easily through the barrier. The main view screen goes blank for a moment then shifts to displaying static.

“Data, what are we looking at?”

“I am…unsure sir,” Data started working on his board as new information was coming in, looking down at his LCARS display. “Captain, what I am seeing, seems to defy known laws of physics.”

Picard’s brow furrowed. “Explain.”

“There are three bodies in this system, a class M planet, a single moon that is roughly in a similar orbit as Earth’s moon, and another unidentifiable body in a slightly larger orbit around the planet.”

“Another body?”

Data’s hands moved faster than any human could, bringing different sensors and systems to bear on the small system in front of the starship. “Yes, sir. For all intents and purposes, it is a sun. It is producing heat and light, the radiative energy is similar in spectrum to a G type main sequence star, but no other radiation outside of visible light, infrared and ultraviolet.” Tapping on the console Data continues, “It has mass and gravity, but I am not detecting any known forms of fission or fusion in progress.”

Picard leaned over to Riker. “As interesting a mystery as this is, there are billions of lives at risk with this, the damage to the Betazed system would be incalculable. Do we have enough photon torpedoes to break up the planet?”

Riker nodded. “A modified torpedo with an 80 isoton gravitic warhead should be enough for the moon. The planet, however, would require modifying several torpedoes, and time may be an issue. As well we would have to carve the planetary debris into manageable sections and deflect the pieces away from danger. The sun, however, I couldn’t even begin to speculate, it may be possible, but it would take more energy than the Enterprise alone could put out. I recommend calling for more starships to help with the job.”

Captain Picard grimaced, much as he didn’t want to call for help, this time it’s actually needed. “Call Starfleet, see how many ships can be dispatched to help.”

"Aye. Sir," Worf growled from his tactical station confirms. "Sir, subspace communications cannot penetrate the barrier, we will need to exit first before I can transmit."

Data flinched. “Captain. I’m getting life readings from long range sensors.”

Riker grimaced, looking back up to the monitor, “Life? In here? How is that possible?”

“Unknown. But sensors are positively detecting biological organisms, the planet has an ecosystem of some kind.”

“It is an M-class planet in size, but life?” Picard glances at Riker before turning his attention back to Data. “Standard orbit around the planet, though avoid that proto sun. As soon as we are in orbit, begin a biological and geological survey scan. Hopefully the life forms aren’t much more than lichen, algae, bacteria, bugs.”

“That does not seem to be the case, sensors are detecting settlements. Possible roadways, well as long bands of ferromagnetic bars laid in parallel and spanning vast distances.” He frowns and leans a bit closer. “Once we get into orbit, we will be able to get more detailed information. I can already detect several large cities from here, however. Give me a few minutes to catalogue.”

“Railway lines?” Picard looked to Riker.

“Cities?” Riker said incredulously.

“Yes sir, I believe I said that,” Data said, looking back, “Rail lines much like those on Earth in 19th and 20th centuries, though other species have invented similar means of transit the, term railway seems to be…”

“Thank you, Mister Data, please continue with your scans.” Picard says shaking his head slowly.

“Yes, sir.”

“Curiouser and curiouser/ Something is definitely odd here. So, we are going to need every colony ship we can get our hands on, apparently.”

“What about the prime directive, sir?” Worf asked.

“We may need to make an exception here, I don’t like this, a Federation world endangered by this world.” Picard shook his head, “Our choices are do nothing and let Betazed be destroyed, evacuate the planet in violation of the prime directive, or destroy the planet, killing all life, in violation of the prime directive.”

“Seems like evacuation is our best option,” Riker says.

“Agreed.” Picard nodded. “Mr. Worf. Is there a way to penetrate the energy barrier with subspace communications?”

“With information from passing through the barrier. I may be able to modify a class 9 probe, once clear it could broad cast a pre-programed message, but we would not be able to receive a response.”

“Make it so.” Picard turned to Data, hunched over his station. “Mr. Data, an update?”

“I…” Words failed the android for a long moment. Finally he looked back at Picard. “What I am processing is completely out of my experience. There are several different species on this planet, and many, if not most of them, are apparently sentient. While the Xindi had six different species that had reached sentience on their planet, this may exceed even that.”

“The Xindi?”

“Yes, sir, but one species went extinct when their home world was destroyed, hence most only know of five. In this case though, I can see a well-defined rail network connecting between various settlements, and there are quite a few different nations. Species seem to be grouped in their own cities or settlements around the planet. Many of the rail lines however seem to concentrate or meet at once central city. The species inhabiting that city seem to be the most numerous on the planet.”

“Then that’s where we will need to start. what can sensors tell us about their species, Mister Data?”

“It would seem to be populated by sentient…” He taps a few more keys and brings up sensor data onto the main viewscreen. “…equines.”

“Pardon?”

“Scans do not indicate they are related to Earth or similar Equines beyond passing familiarity. Though there are four distinct types, or tribes, among these ponies.” He brings up some pictures the computer had finished rendering. “We have the standard ponies, then we have the winged ponies, then we have ponies with horns much like the unicorns of human mythos, and lastly we have the rarest of the ponies, the ones with wings and horns. Scans show a total of three of them, though there is a possibility that there are others that our scanners haven’t found as of yet.” He looked back at the Captain. “I recommend beaming down a few dozen holographically camouflaged probes, we can try to get linguistic information, as well as some close observation of the population. Their culture, habits, and behavioral patterns.”

“You are talking first contact procedures.”

“Yes, sir. Normally a discovery of such an unusual amalgamation of different species, all sentient, would require months, if not years of study before we even consider first contact with them. But given the time pressure, as well as the potential loss of life. The prime directive I would think does not cover such situations.” He brings up more species that the sensors have been detecting. A half cat half bird, half pony half bird, half bug half pony, minotaurs, and then Riker holds up a hand.

“Wait a moment, dragons?”

Data nodded. “Sensors indicate one large colony of dragons on the large central continent.”

Riker turned to Picard. “It’s as though all the Greek myths are on display here.”

“Anthropology department is ready to begin beaming down the probes.”

Picard pinches the bridge of his nose. “Gather information quickly, Mister Data. We need a good picture of this amalgamation of a society before we even attempt to make any kind of contact. I’m going to get a few hours of sleep.” He stands up, straightening his tunic. “It looks like we will be in short supply of sleep for the near future.”

“Aye, Captain.”

In a matter of minutes, the entire bridge crew, save Lt. Commander Data, was replaced by second shift officers. Data continued working, trying to build some sort of sense into the information flowing into the main computer from the orbital scans and the miniature cloaked probes flying all over the planet. While he was always aware of the passage of time due to his internal chronometer, the ebb and flow of starship life left him unaffected as he continued the work.

When Captain Picard entered the bridge early and headed to his ready room, Data did note his movements, but did not respond outwardly. Though he did message the Captain about setting up a staff meeting later in the morning. He continued his work without pause. At first, the work was simply his job, but as he was continuing to learn about the ponies and other creatures on the world they orbited, he found himself more and more fascinated.

***

Data strode into the conference room behind the bridge. With the current orientation of the starship in it’s orbit, the planet wasn’t visible at the moment. He looked around at the assembled crew members sitting around the conference table. He set down a PADD and looked to Captain Picard.

“You have a report, Mr. Data?”

Data nods. “I do, sir.” He tapped on the pad and the wall mounted viewscreen lit up. “This world is far different than anything the Federation or any known civilization has encountered.” He looks at the screen. “The main computer has been able to form a translation matrix based on a few hundred thousand samples the various probes have been able to garner. It is an OSV language with numerous trilled and non-pulmonic or even inhaled consonants. Many of the language’s sounds cannot be product in the human vocal tract exactly. We have a good set of information about the political structure of the primary nation-state, known as Equestria. They have two primary leaders, Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna. They are alicorns, which are the ones with the horns and wings.” On the screen was a frozen video image, apparently taken through a window. Showing a brilliant white alicorn sitting on her throne. “They seems to alternate how they preside, this one, Celestia, is the princess of the day, and the other one.” A similar picture pops up, but a dark blue alicorn. “is Princess Luna, who presides over the night.”

“Some observations that have been rather confusing is those appendages on the foreheads of the alicorns and of the unicorns of the ponies are functional. They glow when the ponies are performing telekinesis. Though that doesn’t seem to be the limit of their abilities. Transmogrification, teleportation, and quite a few other feats are regularly done by the ponies.”

“Magic?” This comes from Counselor Troi.

Data looks over at her. “I would hesitate to call it magic, counselor. While I do know understand or know the means yet, we have seen many species utilize technology to complete tasks that have appeared to be magic to us, as well as many life forms with abilities that are beyond are understanding as of yet.” He taps a few keys.

“True,” Counselor try nods, “My empathic abilities may be viewed as magic to some.”

“These are pegasi.” A pegasus stallion is pictured, white with a dark mane, a compass on his flank. “Sensors indicate their gravity is ninety-six percent of Earth normal, yet they can fly. This specimen measured in at just over eighty kilograms, yet his wings are only twenty percent of the required size for that mass. Yet he flies with ease.” He tapped the PADD again, and the pegasus took off, flying off at a surprising speed. “Pegasi have been observed at altitudes greater than any bird on record and exceeding the speed of sound. While scans of the clouds indicate they are entirely normal in the sense they are made of water vapor, the pegasi have been observed to land, and even walk on the clouds. Without detailed close up scans, I cannot begin to explain those abilities.” He tapped a couple more times bringing up another picture. “They even shape those clouds into homes and live in them. They have a massive cloud city, floating around the continent. I have not been able to deduce how this is possible based on the information at hand.”

“Interesting.” Riker said softly.

“Wait a moment, they fly, and land on clouds? The unicorns do magic? What about the ponies without horns or wings?”

“From the translation matrix, they are called Earth ponies. They are the most numerous of the ponies, they grow the majority of the food, they are the builders, the craftsmen of the ponies, entertainers, just everywhere. And they have their own unique abilities themselves.”

He taps the padd, bringing up another video file. This one shows an orange mare with blonde mane and three apples on her rump. She calmly walks up to a tree that looked diseased, she turned around and bucked it, smashing the trunk and knocking down the tree.

Worf leans forward. “An impressively powerful kick.”

Data nods. “And they seem to have a strong aptitude for growing things. Observations have shown Earth ponies spreading seeds, and within minutes germination is above the ground level, and hours later, growth is equivalent to several weeks of growth of known plants. Though I cannot discount there might be some genetic variation, though the plant growth does seem to exceed known biological limits.”

Picard shifts in his seat. “How utterly fascinating. What of the other species?”

Data looks at his PADD. “While they are mostly organized into some form of government, it seems that the Princesses of Equestria are responsible for the sun and the moon, so they are the primary government we would need to work with. More study would be needed before we approach them. As it is, we do have sufficient information to begin negotiations. We can communicate the seriousness of the situation to them, and hopefully make arrangements for transporting them off of their world.”

Riker looked from Data to Picard. “You do know that won’t go over very well. I will have to…”

“No, you won’t, Number One. I will.”

Riker inhales to object and was stopped by the Captain’s outstretched hand. “I know your objections, and they are noted. This requires a negotiator, with diplomacy, delicacy and finesse.” He looks at Worf. “I will beam down to this Princess Celestia, alone.”

That had Worf shifting in his seat. “I would prefer that you had security with you, Captain.”

“I shall carry my phaser. He stands up, adjusting his uniform. “But my decision is final. Though you can keep a transporter lock on me, and if anything untoward happens, which I don’t think will happen. You can beam me back.”

“Captain. It is quite near sundown in the crown city. Would you want to wait?”

“No, this needs to be handled delicately, I will talk to her as privately as possible. Remember, this is a pre-warp civilization, and I don’t want their first contact with extra planetary civilizations to be rudely beamed up into a colony ship before their planet is literally carved up before them. I will talk to her.”

In a matter of minutes, Captain Picard is standing in the transporter room, his best operator at the controls. “Energize, Mr. O’Brien.”

He forces a smile on his face as the energy of the transporter takes him, and in only seconds, he is standing in a large bedchamber. At its center a round low bed with large pillows in a semicircle along one side. A fire burns in a large ornate fireplace, and several dressers and tables are against the walls.

A chime sound of telekinesis reaches his ears as and draws his attention to the alicorn as she pull off the regalia he had seen her working in on the display.

Turning her head, she looks at him and flicks an ear, Celestia speaks softly and gently, “Should I call for the guards?”

“My name is Jean-Luc Picard. I am here because your world is in great danger, Princess Celestia, and we need your help.”