• Published 5th Apr 2021
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Star Trek: Phoenix - Dewdrops on the Grass

Transported away from their home far across the galaxy to a planet called Earth, Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle must devise a way to cope, learn, and find their way back home to Equestria, by joining Starfleet.

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Season 1 Episode 1: "Welcome to the Stars" Part 1



“Welcome to the Stars”

Part 1

I’ve always liked mirrors.

Mirrors reflect who we are. They show us what the world sees of us. They help us figure out who we are, and who we want to be.

I know who I am. I’m Sunset Shimmer. I’m the personal student of Princess Celestia.

I know who I want to be. I want to be a Princess, just like her. Just like I deserve.

She showed me my future, this morning, in a mysterious, magical mirror. Said it would show the future. She said it showed me as powerful. Strong. A true leader among ponies. Exactly what I deserved.

And then she took it away. Said I hadn’t earned it yet. That I needed to grow. To learn. To make friends.

Pah. Like friends matter. She doesn’t have any friends. She just has subjects… and me.

I tried to tell her that. I tried to tell her it didn’t matter, that I was ready, that this was the time. But she wouldn’t listen. She screamed at me, louder than I’d ever heard her shout. She even said she’d rethink having me for a student if I persisted in this!

Well I’d show her. After that fight, I went to my room in the castle, threw together some supplies, and went to track down the mirror. I knew it had something to do with getting the power I wanted. I just had to figure out how.

But it wasn’t in the room where she showed it to me. Nor was it anywhere else I usually visited in the castle. No big surprise. Of course she’d hide it.

It took a great deal of time, but I eventually located a secret passage in a small broom closet, one of many such passages hidden in the castle. A twisting, winding tunnel, curving in on itself so many times it felt like it violated at least three different laws of mathematics. I trotted my way down the corridor, carrying with me a lit torch for light. The flickering flames fizzled and flared, casting an eerie glow to my surroundings.

The further I descended, however, the more the corridor around me changed. At first, it was marble, like the rest of the castle. Then it became sheer rock, granite, like Mount Canter. But then it surprised me. It changed to metal. Not iron or steel or copper or bronze, nor gold, electrum, or platinum. Some metal unfamiliar to me, alien to my hooves, warm to the touch but unyielding. Pausing for a moment, I tried to use my horn to scratch the wall.

Big mistake. “Owww!” I groaned as I held a hoof up to my aching horn. “Feels like I just chipped it.”

I had to pull a small hoof mirror out of my pouch to examine it. I’d done a bit of damage all right. Not a lot. Just a little bit. Nothing that interfered with my spellcasting.

Still hurt though.

Taking up my torch again, I moved on, further down the corridor. I’d never heard of a place like this in the castle before. I’d seen the other secret passages before. Most led down into the crystal mines below the city, inside the mountain. But this? This was nothing like what I’d seen.

A cold sense of unease trickled down my spine and into my rear hooves as I walked still further. For what seemed like hours now. When would it end?

Then I finally reached a doorway. At least, I thought it was a doorway. It resembled no door I’d ever seen before. Two large hexagonal panels, pressed together with a seam in the middle. No clear handle or knob, no way to open it I could see. I tried walking right up to it, in case it was enchanted to open without a touch, but it didn’t budge.

Not to be defeated by a mere door, I powered up my horn, and tried using Jackle Benimble’s Easy Greasy to apply some lubricant. That plus some applied telekinesis was enough, after a few moments of patient effort, to force the doors open with loud, horrific squealing. I had to flatten my ears against my head just to block out the noise. But eventually I had them open enough to allow me inside.

To my surprise, I found a lit room, about twenty feet by twenty. The lighting was electrical, or so I presumed, since it didn’t resemble the smokeless sconces favored in Canterlot, but the harsher fluorescents and neons Manehattan preferred. Except instead of white or yellow, the room focused on some sort of hideous blue shade. They constantly flickered, like their electrical circuits were faulty. Or old.

Shelves lined three of the four walls, but there was little-to-nothing left save piles of dust and broken pieces of what might’ve once been boxes or other equipment. A few of what might’ve been tables and chairs littered the area around the shelves, equally crumbled to bits.

But by far the most prominent element of the room was a large standing mirror, dead center, held up by a large framework of more of the alien metal. A small pedestal stood about five feet away, in front of it, with a few buttons atop, still faintly glowing as if they were powered. The mirror shone solidly, reflecting the light around it like it had been freshly polished.

Although it was contained in a different frame… somehow I knew this was it. This was the mirror, the one Celestia showed me. A squeal of joy escaped my lips as I cantered over, eager to reflect myself in it. Sure enough, as soon as I did, I saw the same image I’d seen before.

Me, standing tall. Not as tall as Celestia, but certainly much taller than my gangly eleven year old self had any right to be. My mane streamed around my head, brushed to perfection. Curiously, I wore an outfit of some sort, in a style I didn’t recognize, with an unusual symbol on my chest and jewelry on the collar. That hadn’t been there the first time I saw this.

But I didn’t care. My eyes fixed on the real prize. The real reason I wanted to see this again. That is, the two massive wings spread out behind me. Alicorn wings. The wings of a Princess.

So enraptured by the sight, I didn’t realize I’d taken a step too close to the pedestal. My tail brushed over the buttons. Instantly, the mirror shifted, my gorgeous Princessly self vanishing like a mirage, replaced by some sort of cityscape, with bizarre creatures walking about on two legs while odd carriages of metal flew through the air.

Horrified, I ran forward, reaching out to the mirror, as if trying to wish the image back. But the instant my hoof touched what I thought was glass, it sucked me forward, engulfing me like a tatzelwurm consuming its prey.

For what felt like several long moments my body stretched out, agony filling my every limb, my stomach churning and bouncing like a ship caught in a fierce hurricane, so dizzy I thought I’d vomit up my entire intestinal tract.

And then I emerged, shooting out like a rocket into a park, bouncing off the ground and rolling to a stop amidst a pile of grass. It knocked the wind out of me, forcing my eyes shut as pain leeched down every nerve ending, like my whole body was on fire. It swiftly faded, however, leaving just the aches and bruises from the landing. Only after a few minutes was I finally able to get enough air back in my lungs that I could stand.

And instantly wished I hadn’t. My ears drew back, my eyes widening as I realized I was surrounded by a throng of those odd creatures I’d seen on the image. All of them towered over me, easily five or six feet tall, far taller than the average stallion, let alone a filly like me. They all wore clothing too, covering most of their bodies. Some wore outfits that looked a lot like the dresses or suits I’d see ponies in Manehattan or Fillydelphia wear, but most of them wore something else, some kind of uniform maybe. Black on their long, slender legs, their torsos covered in shades of red, gold, or blue. All of the ones in uniform bore a piece of jewelry on their chests, some sort of oval overlaid by a chevron shape.

Everyone talked at once, babbling about in what sounded like twenty different languages, all harsh and guttural, nothing like the smooth whinnies, neighs, and nickers of Ponish. They pointed oddly proportioned forelimbs at me, with digits on the end of large paws… no, hands, not paws. Like minotaurs. Except unlike minotaurs, they seemed like little more than gigantic, furless apes with bizarre tufts of mane on their heads, with a variety of skin tones, though lots of them had varying features. Some with pointed ears, others with odd knobs or spots on their foreheads or neck. Still others looked like some sort of horror writer’s version of a gremlin, with large, sharp teeth and bizarre ears shaped like fans. Others were furred, with tusks and fangs. Still others bore scales. Some of them even resembled felines or canines! But they all walked on two legs, every last one of them.

Terrified for my life, I spun around in place, shrinking in on myself, squealing as the crowd grew thicker by the second. “S-stay back!” I shouted. “Don’t come any closer! I mean it!”

Some in the crowd grew concerned by this and brought out odd devices from pockets in their clothing, pointing them at me. Some sort of weapon, perhaps, though like nothing I’d ever seen before, long and slender, colored silver, with a gaping front that, oddly enough, vaguely resembled a cleaning device some inventor tried to pawn off on Princess Celestia at Day Court a while back. I think he called it a… vakum cleaner? Something like that. All I remembered was a hideous shrieking and it trying to suck my mane off my head.

Unwilling to be cowed despite the fear running through every inch of my body, I grit my teeth and powered up my horn, readying up a ball of pure telekinetic force. The instant that appeared on my horn, many members of the crowd shrieked. Some fled the area, while many more of those wearing the golden uniforms brought out their boxy weapons and shouted something in their harsh excuse for a language, obviously some sort of threat.

“Back off!” I shouted as I lowered my horn, preparing to fire.

Then an authoritative voice called out, this one deeper than the others, as a new creature in one of the golden uniforms stepped forward to reveal themself. This one loomed over most of the crowd, even taller than the rest, maybe six and a half feet, covered in thick fur over much of its body, including a magnificent mustache and beard. Its head was elongated and bald, devoid of anything save for some kind of odd ridge that extended from the very top all the way down to just above their dog like muzzle. They carried a larger looking weapon, similar in design to the smaller ones but with an extended back end piece made to be carried in their hands. They pointed it at me and barked something in their harsh language, exposing a full mouth of razor sharp teeth.

Unwilling to find out what precisely that weapon was capable of, I fired my spell. The force bolt shot forward like a rocket, impacting the largest creature. Their weapon flew out of their hands and up into the air as they fell back, knocking over many of the other creatures behind them like bowling pins.

I pivoted on my hooves and fired off several more charged bolts into the crowd, enough to break up a hole. As I did, several screamed a single word and their weapons sizzled with an ear-piercing high pitched whine, beams of golden orange light lancing out in my direction. A quick jet of light from my horn summoned up Stalwart Aegis’ Energy Barrier, a shield of scarlet energy, angled towards my attackers. It wasn’t very strong, nor was it a complete bubble like what Princess Celestia could utilize, but it was enough to deflect their fire. The beams bounced off, a couple of them hitting a pair of creatures, sending them topping like puppets with cut strings, completely unmoving.

I didn’t have time to gasp in horror at that, because whatever these things were, they wanted me dead. Another fusillade of energy beams screamed in my direction, my shield cracking under the strain. Scanning my surroundings I spotted a nearby patch of freshly turned soil, awaiting some sort of plant. A savage grin split my muzzle as I scooped up the dirt in my telekinetic field and hurled it all in the direction of the creatures, obscuring their view of me long enough to let me gallop out of the circle and find a more defensible position.

Even despite their gargantuan legs they had no chance of catching up to me. An excited laugh burst forth from my chest as I dodged beam after beam heading my way, throwing up a fresh shield every so often while searching the area for something, anything to let me get away from these monster beings.

Then I spotted a nearby boxy carriage thing landing on some sort of landing pad made of concrete. As its back door opened I leapt inside, and used my rear hooves to kick one of the creatures off the door that doubled as a ramp. I sent another one spiraling to the ground with a bolt of force, then pointed my horn at the third, a shorter one sitting in a chair at some kind of table of controls at the front, who raised its hands and spouted some string of gibberish at me.

Phezzew! Phezzew!

A few deadly energy beams blasted against the inside walls of the carriage, leaving scorch marks. Grimacing I searched the wall next to me then hit the largest and most obvious of the buttons with my field. “Nice try, jerks!” I shouted as the door to the carriage shut itself.

Then I faced the other creature again, whose hand darted towards a smaller version of the energy weapons on its waist. “Don’t you even think about it!” I ordered as I stripped the weapon away from it and tossed it on the floor. “Make this thing fly! Now!”

It stared at me, nonplussed, then shook its head and muttered something unintelligible.

“Aaugh! You stupid--look, do this!” I grabbed its hands in my field, making it shriek in fright, then slapped them down onto the control table. “Make it fly!”

Seeming to get the idea, the creature tapped at the controls. I prepared for it to ascend, to take flight and take us somewhere away from those who were hostile.

And then my whole body tingled, like being softly caressed by a piece of Hearth’s Warming Eve tinsel, over every last bit of me, before my surroundings abruptly changed and the sensation disappeared. I found myself outside again, next to a building, with no creatures in my immediate vicinity.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, the thought that I had--possibly--killed two of these creatures, and severely injured several more, gnawed at me, a sick sensation worming its way down into my gut, dropping in like a stone. But I tried to ignore that as I scanned the area I found myself in. It was an entirely different part of the park, as if the creature who teleported me hadn’t bothered with aiming it very well. Which, judging by the carriage rapidly ascending into the sky like a bat out of Tartarus, was probably a reasonable assumption.

Then a few shouts of alarm caught my attention. A small group of golden uniformed creatures spotted me, pointing their fingers at me before aiming their weapons. As I was standing next to one of the buildings now, I dove for cover around the corner, trying not to wince as bits of material went flying off the building in puffs, scattering me with dust.

Only to come face to face with a whole row of uniformed creatures, weapons raised and pointed at me, ready to fire… led by that same one that had the massive larger weapon. It grinned at me in satisfaction as its fingers twitched.

I tried throwing up a shield, but against that much firepower, I had no chance. The shield held up for about five seconds, then it shattered.

But I refused to die without one last spiteful act. I dove to the ground right as the shield shattered. Rolling along the ground to dodge most of the beams, I summoned up a burst of magical flames, and shot them in a jet-like cone at the tall creature, setting its beard ablaze. It dropped its weapon in a hurry and cried out in horror, batting at itself to try and put it out.

Then a blast from one of those weapons caught me straight in the chest, and then a second one caught my flank from behind at the same time. My whole body froze up, as if submerged in ice.

Then nothing.

Light. Bright light, right in my eyes.

“Uuugh…” I groaned as I raised a foreleg to try and block it out. “What… what happened?”

Then my eyes shot open wide as I gasped, taking in great lungfuls of air. Unfamiliar scents hit my nostrils like a series of thrown rocks. My hooves searched my chest, trying to find the horrific burn mark I surely must have possessed, only to find nothing except smooth, unmarred coat and skin. “What… huh? I’m alive?!”

Something feminine spoke words in that bizarre, guttural language. I sat up immediately, finding I was laying on some kind of bed laden with sensors, especially at the head, which bore a few lighted panels covered in shifting symbols and patterns. Like a heart monitor or an EKG, only much more sophisticated. Similar equipment decorated the room, pieces unfamiliar to me, but clearly medically related. I knew a hospital when I saw one.

Which meant that the creature standing before me now must be some sort of doctor or nurse. She stood tall, just like all the other creatures, though she wore a blue uniform rather than gold. Unlike most of the other creatures I’d seen, the mane atop her head was cropped short, like a bowl cut, except with points crawling down each side of her face, perfectly framing her prominent pointed ears. She eyed me cooly, but with a clear shine of intelligence twinkling in her gaze.

A different voice spoke, eliciting a frisson of fear down my spine as I turned to see another one, almost identical in appearance to the first one, right down to the pointed ears, pointed hair, and blue uniform. Except this one seemed much more severe, colder. Almost hostile even. And then she raised her hand, one carrying a device far too similar to the weapons for my taste. I tensed, ready to move the instant she tried anything. Then she pulled some kind of small peripheral out of the front of the device and pointed it at me.

I rolled off the bed, on my hooves in an instant, my magic flaring up to raise a shield to protect me as I backed up into a corner. These stupid creatures didn’t kill me the first time? They’d regret it. “Don’t come any closer,” I warned.

Both creatures paused in their movements and exchanged a glance, briefly communicating in their language. Then the more severe one touched a button on her device. It warbled and trilled in a rising and falling pattern with several repeated beeps accompanying it. No energy fired towards me. No spells of any kind. Nothing, in fact, save the noise. Eying them suspiciously, I decided to cancel my shield, just for a moment, in case it was blocking the effects. The less severe one seemed to almost nod in approval when I did so.

Then a third creature entered the room, from a doorway I hadn’t recognized was one at first, because it looked like another piece of the wall. This one was taller, also female, wearing a red uniform, with a deep dark brown, almost coal black tone to her skin, similarly dark hair, and bright, shining chocolate eyes. Unlike the two blue uniformed creatures, she lacked pointed ears, and showed very obvious signs of emotion, looking at me with an excited, happy expression, in a manner similar to that of somepony going goo-goo eyed over an adorable cat. She squealed and made a few happy sounding noises to the less severe pointy ear creature.

The one with the device, meanwhile, took a step closer to me, apparently feeling less afraid now that I’d dropped my shield. She murmured something to me as she tapped at her device. “No!” I growled immediately, warming up my horn with an overflow of magic, preparing half a dozen different possible spell matrices in my mind ready to utilize. “I’m getting out of here. I want to go home, and you’re not stopping me!”

The severe looking creature stepped back, though she showed not even a hint of emotion on her face, simply cocking her head and arching an eyebrow. She then looked to the other one like her and said some gibberish. That one shook her head, so device lady turned back to me and approached me once more, this time taking several steps in rapid succession.

The closer she got, the more furious I became. “I told you, back! Off!” My horn swirled with energies now, roiling with the power. As her device unleashed an alarming rapid beep, rising with every passing second, the sound drilled its way into my ears, boiling my blood. I didn’t know what it was about and I didn’t care anymore. No holding back this time. I lowered my horn and prepared to fire off a brutal blast that could shatter bones.

The one in red barked something at the less severe one, who abruptly rushed forward at blinding speeds. Before I could let loose my volley of magic, she pressed her hand up against my face, spreading her fingers.

A presence hit my mind all at once, undeniable, inescapable. Calm it ordered. Not in words, not in thoughts, but in feeling. At the edges of my mind there were words, nonsensical, unintelligible, but while they were there, the pervading request for calm dominated the exchange. Along with it came a sense of reassurance. As if the creature was promising no harm would come to me.

I gasped, my mouth falling open, the energies dissipating from my horn with a single flash of light. I stared into the eyes of the creature, which didn’t blink, didn’t show any sign of emotion. “I… I… how are you…”

Then another feeling came forward, despite the lack of emotion in the creature’s gaze. It was… ashamed. As if it wanted to apologize for the intrusion. Like this wasn’t something the creature would’ve done if she had any other choice.

I still couldn’t understand a word from her. But I understood her intent. My heart rate slowed, my anger and fear evaporating, replaced by the same calm she insisted I feel. I closed my mouth, then my eyes, and nodded. “Okay. Okay, I’ll… I’ll be calm.”

Satisfied, the creature released her hold upon me, causing the one in red to smile happily and flash her an odd gesture, a closed fist with a single fat finger on the end sticking up. This time, when the other one approached with her odd warbling device, I allowed her to get close. I still flinched as she ran it over me, but after a couple of moments, when I felt no sensations or anything else threatening, I relaxed again. “Must just be medical equipment,” I mumbled to myself.

The one in red looked at me quizzically when I said that, then patted the bed I’d been sitting on before, as if beckoning me over like I was a dog or something. That got under my skin, just a little, but I stepped forward even so. When I reached it I realized it was too high for me to hop back up on by myself, so I looked at it, then up at her. She stared back, seemingly confused for a moment before she held out her hands. I nodded and allowed her to pick me up and place me on the bed.

This allowed the one with the equipment to scan me some more, this time more symbols and lights flashing up on the screen behind me. Definitely my vital signs, it seemed. “So, now what?” I asked them, trying not to wince every time that sensing device passed over me. “I don’t know any kind of translation spells. Princess Celestia never taught me any. So I don’t have a clue how to talk to you.”

The three creatures all exchanged glances at that, then the one who used her mental powers on me brought out a device very similar to the one the doctor used. This didn’t have the peripheral at the end, but it produced the same warbling trilling sounds. She looked at me, arched an eyebrow, then held out a hand as if to say “go ahead.” Go ahead and do what?

I eyed the scanning device suspiciously, then said, “What is that thing, anyway? Is it like a thaumometer or something?" Just because it didn’t look or feel like a weapon didn’t mean I should trust it. “Look, whatever or whoever you are, I don’t know where I am or how I got here. I didn’t even mean to show up here.”

She tapped her device several times with her hand, then looked directly at me and said something long and rambling, like a question. Or maybe three, I couldn’t tell.

I shook my head. “I don’t understand. Talk to me all you want, but it’s not going to make any sense to me.”

Bizarrely, she nodded at that, as if she understood what I said! Then she tapped some more at her device, and opened her mouth. This time however, when she spoke… it sounded like Ponish! “I am/are officer/scientist/person. Not/isn’t threat/danger. You are clearly intelligent/sapient/thinking. Speak/say/talk more/greater.”

Well it sounded like Ponish, but it was also complete nonsense! Still…it was better than before. “You need me to say more?” I asked. “Well, I can do that. What are you? Where am I? What is this place? Why am I here? What did you shoot me with? What is that thing you keep pointing at me?”

She arched an eyebrow as her sensing device let out a loud, disapproving squeal. She blinked, her mouth creasing up in a frown so slight I thought I might’ve imagined it. Several more taps on her device later, she spoke again. Except instead of the mangled Ponish it was a stream of messy gibberish, with the occasional word like “speak” or “uncertain” mixed in with a whole lot of useless garbage.

“Uugh!” I rolled my eyes and sighed, bowing my head. Whatever translation spell matrix they used clearly didn’t work very well if it tripped up after just a few sentences. “This is hopeless. Just… just stop. I can’t understand you. Just let me go and I’ll… I’ll figure out a way out of here myself.”

The creature glared down at her device. Although her expression and body language betrayed no hint of emotion, nor did her eyes, I got the sense that she was… displeased. Setting it down on the end of the bed, still pointed at me, she glanced at both the other creatures and said something long to each of them. The doctor one went back to scanning me, causing my hackles to raise, while the other left the room. “Where is she going?” I wondered, not that I expected an answer.

Then I got one. She returned, carrying a stack of something white and uniform, as well as what might’ve been a set of writing utensils? Then she set it down in front of me and gestured to it, smiling and saying something that might’ve been encouraging. Raising my eyebrows, curious now, I shifted over on the bed, enough to get a closer look. “Is that… paper?”

Using my field I picked up a sheet. Sure enough, it was. Crisp white paper, fresh and warm like it had just been churned out of a paper mill five minutes ago. The writing utensils were larger than I expected, and smelly too when I popped the cap off. Some kind of marker, it seemed. I glared down at it then looked up at them. “What am I supposed to do with this?”

In response, the scientist took up a marker in her own hand, pulled out a sheet of paper, then laid it down on some kind of table on wheels nearby, in clear sight. She drew a single large dot on the paper, then pointed at it with the marker, and spoke a single syllable. She repeated the syllable a few times, then tapped on the table once with her finger, and said the syllable again. Then she looked at me expectantly.

I frowned, my brow creasing in thought before the realization hit me. “That must be your word for one,” I murmured. “You’re trying to communicate the old fashioned way. All right. I can do that.”

Using my magic, I took the marker I held and my own sheet of paper, and drew the same kind of large dot. Then I pointed at it with my hoof. “One. One. One.” I tapped once on the bed. “One.”

The red uniformed one let out a happy squeal at that and chattered at the scientist excitedly before the scientist held a single finger to her lips. Then she took up her marker, and drew a second dot next to the first. She enunciated clearly as she spoke the syllable several times, tapped twice on the table, and spoke it again.

Having caught on now, I repeated what she did, this time repeating “Two” over and over in the same pattern.

We repeated this a few more times, and then switched to prime numbers. We got up to thirty-one, then backtracked and focused on regular numbers, till we both established we both used the same sort of number system, base ten surprisingly enough. I would’ve thought these creatures would use something else, like base five, or maybe base twenty, if their feet had the same number of digits as their hands.

Then again if you judged ponies that way, you’d think we use base four. And we did, once upon a time in the distant past, until minotaur mathematicians proved the superiority of base ten. Not to mention the existence of zero.

She tried fussing with her device for a couple of moments, and looked at me while speaking. At first it sounded like Ponish again, but then the device made another loud squeal and her speech reverted to nonsense. I saw that almost frown appear on her face again, for longer this time, long enough that even the red uniformed one seemed to notice it, judging by her concerned reaction.

While they continued to talk, I decided to take the initiative this time. I brought out a fresh sheet of paper, and drew two dots, side by side, with the symbol for addition between them, then the equality symbol then two dots closer together. Clearing my throat, I startled them into looking at me, then pointed with my hoof. “One plus one equals two,” I said.

This prompted her curiosity and started a rapid back and forth exchange. We moved swiftly through small amounts of addition and subtraction, then I decided to try multiplication and division. She handled those easily, and I picked up a few of her words in the process. After the third division problem, I held up a hoof, then with a new sheet I drew the original addition problem again. But this time, I decided to try using her words for it. The guttural growls escaping my voice sounded more like a minotaur choking to death than actual, proper language, but it nevertheless caught her attention. She even arched both eyebrows.

Smirking, I then proceeded to repeat the next several math problems we did, using her words again and again. As I did so, she scooped up her device and readjusted it, drumming a rapid series of button pressed and beeps that seemed meaningless to me. After a few moments, right as I finished reading out the final problem, she nodded to herself, then pointed at me, and repeated the gesture she used before, to encourage me to talk.

“What, you think you’re going to make it work now?” I said, my muzzle twisting into a frown. “I don’t think it’s going to work anymore than it did before.”

Red uniform lady gasped at that however, and then looked at the scientist with her eyes gleaming with excitement. Several more taps on her device later, the scientist spoke again. “Is/are better/good/improving. Please speak/talk/ more/greater.”

“Wait, really?” I leaned forward, close enough that I could reach out and touch the device. I wanted to get a look at the thing myself now. However, she pulled it away when I tried. Not far, but enough for me to get the hint. “Okay, okay, I won’t touch it. Look, you really think this is going to work?”

“Yes/correct. I/we understand/recognize you/your words better/well,” she answered. “Continue/carry on math/numbers/concepts.”

While bizarre, I understood what she was getting at. While this had been going on, a greater sense of calm filled me. This, I could handle. This, I could do. Princess Celestia trained me to do things like this. To meet new creatures, to speak with them, to negotiate. At the time it had all felt pointless--why bother learning how to negotiate if I was going to be a Princess and could just order ponies to obey my every whim--but now I was grateful to her for the instruction.

So taking up more sheets of paper, I switched to geometry, mapping out shapes and using the respective words. As I did so, rather than draw them herself, she kept her sensing device locked on me, and occasionally uttered her own word for what I drew. “Square. Circle. Triangle.”

Then I decided to get crafty. First I drew a series of quick numbers, using the proper symbols this time rather than dots. “One, one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty-one,” I said as I pointed to each set of symbols. Then, setting that aside, I took another sheet of paper, and sketched out a large grid. They’d provided several colors of markers, despite us so far using only the one shade of black, but I used that to my advantage now, marking out the grids in several different colors. Each grid was progressively larger, matching the pattern I’d written. And then once done, I took the black marker and sketched out a single curve, starting at the middle in the pair of singular squares, then slowly out, catching the edge of each larger set as I went.

She watched me, very curious indeed until I finished, and set my marker down. I patted the paper with my hoof. “Golden ratio,” I said, my muzzle split in a wide smirk from ear to ear. “Beat that.”

“Fibonacci,” she replied. At my puzzled look, she pulled out my original sheet, with the pattern of numbers, and pointed at it. “Fibonacci,” she repeated.

That must be her word for it. I spoke aloud the pony term for it, then nodded and tried out the word she used. “Fibonacci.” It tasted odd, even odder than most of the other terms she’d used. Almost like it wasn’t even the same language. Maybe it wasn’t. The pony term wasn’t Ponish, after all, but the name of a griffon mathematician that first discovered the golden ratio.

“Better. I understanding you better muchly now,” she abruptly said, having brought her device back up. She tapped out a sequence on it, then eyed me. “Just little more.”

Her grammar certainly improved. It’s actually reasonable now. “Alright. Do you just want me to speak, or do you need me to draw out some other kind of concept?” As I spoke I found myself smiling, a genuine one this time, rather than the mocking smirk I’d adopted just moments ago. My words took on a note of sincerity that surprised me. “You know, I think I’m actually a little sorry I threatened you all when I first showed up. Yeah, sure, I just wanted to go home. And maybe you were pointing weapons at me. But I guess I started the fight, huh? I didn’t mean any harm.” As I spoke that last word, a realization came to me, and my heart sank, the smile vanishing. “I didn’t, but I sure caused some, didn’t I?”

“Translation analysis complete,” spoke a new voice, this one emerging from the device in the authoritative creature’s hands. “Universal translator online.”

“Nice!” shouted the red uniformed one. “It’s about time. What the heck took it so long?”

“That should be fairly obvious,” spoke the doctor, who shot me a look that seemed almost nasty, despite the lack of emotion. “Her method of speech is unlike that of most sapients the Federation has encountered. Much like her physiology. She is a unique lifeform.”

The scientist, meanwhile, ignored the other two and focused on me. “I believe we should now be able to understand each other perfectly,” she said. “My name is Lieutenant Commander T'Lona. I am an officer in Starfleet, with the United Federation of Planets.” She held up her hand to the doctor, then the red uniformed one. “This is Doctor Selar, and this is Commander Amina Riviera. May I ask who you are?”

I held a hoof up to my barrel. “Me? I’m Sunset Shimmer. Princess Celestia’s personal student.” My ears flattened against my head as I wilted under my own shame. “I really didn’t mean to hurt those creatures. Are, are they… dead?”

Riviera shook her head and flashed me a reassuring smile. “No, kid. You didn’t kill anyone, don’t worry. You just bruised a few egos. Though I think Lieutenant Zhidar might want a second go at you. It took him a long time to grow that beard.”

“Oh.” I took a moment to process that, then grinned, my heart soaring till it felt light as a feather. “Well in that case, tell him anytime, anywhere.”

“Perhaps we should not encourage further violence, competitive or otherwise,” T’Lona said, cutting through the mood. “In any event, do not worry, Sunset Shimmer. We understand you were acting in self-defense. Please forgive the initial reception.We were unprepared for your arrival, and did not realize at first that you were intelligent.”

“Yeah, I kinda figured that out,” I grumbled, my smile slipping. Then with a mental kick to my own head I fixed it back in place, drawing upon my diplomatic training. “May I ask where I am?”

With a small nod, she replied, “You are in the Presidio, Starfleet headquarters, in the city of San Francisco.” She paused a moment, then added, “On the planet Earth.”

“Earth,” I repeated, running the word through my mouth. “As in, earth pony?” Then my brain caught up with the other word she’d said. “Wait, planet? As in, I’m in another world?!

“Presumably,” answered Doctor Selar without a hint of sympathy, or any other emotion for that matter. “Although you appear to resemble the equines native to this planet, you are far smaller, with different proportions. Your coloring strikes me as especially unusual, particularly the vibrancy of your hair. No species like yours has ever been encountered by the Federation before. This would appear to be a first contact situation.”

“First contact? What? No!” I lost all sense of diplomacy, all my training forgotten as fresh waves of panic filled me, sending my heart stampeding like a herd of startled cattle. “No, this doesn’t make any sense. It’s impossible to visit other worlds! This has to be some kind of, of a trick. Or I must be somewhere else on Equus. That’s the only possible explanation.”

“Woah, woah, easy, Sunset,” Riviera said, her eyes widening. “It’s okay. Relax.”

Once more T’Lona arched a single eyebrow. “Fascinating. Despite clearly being from a pre-warp civilization, you’ve crossed an unknown distance to arrive here. Do you know how?”

“No!” I railed as my breathing rapidly accelerated, to the point of hyperventilating. “No, I-I don’t! All I know is I found some weird blue room under the castle and it had a mirror and I touched it and then I ended up here!” Then my eyes bugged out. “Wait… the mirror. Is it still here?!” I hopped off the bed in an instant and ran for the door, only to bounce off of it as it made a loud bzzt noise at me, refusing to let me through. “Oh no no no no no! Let me out!” I reached up and tore at my hair with my hooves, tears filling my eyes. “Let me out of here! I need to go home! I can’t be here!”

Riviera took a step towards me, but T’Lona held out an arm and shook her head. Then she approached me, slowly, one step at a time. “I must ask that you please be calm, Sunset Shimmer. We will investigate this. We will find you a way home.”

Shrinking away from her, I fell over, onto my side, and curled up, crying now. Fear overwhelmed my senses. Why am I so stupid?! Why didn’t I just listen to Princess Celestia? Why did I have to argue with her? Why can’t I stop and think for two seconds? No, it’s just go go go with me! No time to think when I can just act like a complete idiot!

Then her hand touched my shoulder. It was cool to the touch, much cooler than I would have expected, as if she was suffering from hypothermia. I hadn’t noticed that the first time she touched me. I jerked at the sensation and tried to pull away. She didn’t fight me, but she did keep in contact, moving her hand till it ran through my mane, as if she was brushing it. “You must be calm,” she repeated, her voice as steady as ever. “Calm.”

Although the effect was lessened, just like the first time I could feel her instruction radiating from her hand. As if she was casting a spell, but without any of the traditional signs or appearances of magic. It helped, a little. Enough to let me relax my breathing, slow my heart rate down to dozens rather than hundreds of miles per hour. “Calm,” I repeated, focusing on the word like a mantra. “Calm.”

Out of the corner of my eye I caught Selar eying T’Lona who, after a moment, nodded. Selar then approached me with her medical equipment. At that I hissed, and took a step back. “No. No more scans. Get that thing away from me,” I growled.

Selar glared at me, disapproval clear in her eyes. “I am just attempting to ascertain your condition. I do not mean any harm. I would have thought this clear by now. You trusted me earlier.”

“No I didn’t,” I retorted with a snort. I pointed a hoof at T’Lona. “I trusted her. You? I don’t trust you. So stay back. Or else you’ll find out what I did to Lieutenant Zhidar first hoof.”

Riviera visibly winced at the sound of my threat. “Doctor, maybe you should leave the room for a while. Give T’Lona and me some time to build a rapport.”

Selar arched an eyebrow, then set her equipment down. “Aye, ma’am,” she said, then swiftly left without another word.

“Doctor Selar truly means you no harm, Sunset Shimmer,” T’Lona said as she stood back up, giving me some space. “She was simply attempting to perform her duties, nothing more.”

“Maybe,” I allowed, “but I don’t care. I’ve had too many blinky loud things pointed at me today. I’m tired of it.”

She paused to consider that, then nodded with a deep bow of her head. “Of course. Our apologies.”

A small smile of relief crossed my muzzle. “Thank you for listening.” I don’t know why, but the more time I spent around T’Lona, the more I felt like she was trustworthy, despite her odd lack of emotion. She reminded me a lot of Princess Celestia in her more serene moments, except without the sense of humor. Like a bulwark, unmoving, unyielding to any pressure. I needed that kind of reassurance right now.

“Of course,” T’Lona said. She gestured over to the bed. “Would you care to sit back down?”

I shook my head. “I’d rather stand, thanks. Look, can I ask a couple of questions?”

“As you wish,” T’Lona replied. She reached for her sensing device, which made me fear for a moment she’d disregard my request and pointed at it, but all she did with it was fold it up and place it in her pocket.

“First question then,” I said, pointing at the pocket she’d stuffed the device in. “What’s that thing you keep pointing at me? It’s some kind of thaumometer, right? With a translation spell?”

“Spell?” Riviera muttered, her mouth pursed in a pout. “No, Sunset, it’s called a tricorder. It’s a piece of technology, a multitool. It can detect a lot of different things.”

“Okay then…” I muttered. “Second question then. What the heck was that weapon used on me earlier? Why didn’t it kill me?” Or the ones I reflected the beams into.

T’Lona cocked her head. “It is called a phaser. It is a defensive weapon, capable of stunning without harm.”

Phaser? What kind of word is that? That didn’t translate. Sounds like some term from their weird language. Shaking it off, I said, “Fine. Third question then: what’re you planning to do with me?”

T’Lona straightened her head and pulled out a different device, vaguely similar to the tricorder, though this one was flat, almost like a thick sheet of paper, except with an obvious screen. She tapped a button on it, then said, “Sunset, as I said earlier, this is a first contact situation. We simply wish to learn more about you. You are not being held prisoner here.”

“Then why won’t the door open for me?” I retorted.

“That was just for your safety, Sunset,” replied Riviera. She held a hand to her chin, stroked it a moment, then nodded and approached the door, tapping a few buttons on a panel next to it. “There. I’ve made it so it’ll open now. If you want to leave, you can.”

“Okay…” I took a couple steps back from them, slowly circling around T’Lona and Riviera till I was on the other side of them, closer to the door. Then I backed up towards it, not looking away, till I heard it swish open. Only then did I glance back to see she’d told the truth. Somehow… somehow seeing that eased my desire to leave significantly. Now that I knew I could… my curiosity got the better of me. I no longer wanted to. So I moved back away from the door, and sat down on my rump. “You said you wanted to learn more about me.”

T’Lona nodded. She gestured to her device. “I have a series of questions I would like to ask. First, what do you call your species?”

“My species?” I repeated, blinking owlishly. “Um, I’m a pony. A unicorn pony.”

“I see. You mentioned a term earlier. Equus. Is that the name of your world?”

“Yeah,” I said, a frown pulling at my muzzle. “But nopony calls it that, usually. Usually we just call our home Equestria.”

“Curious,” said T'Lona, cocking her head. “I may need to ask that again later, without the translator. It seems to be interpreting some of your words in an unusual manner. Perhaps it is still failing to properly function.”


She shook her head. “Nevermind. My next question. How old are you? Are you an adult of your species?”

My face heated up, my muzzle contorting into a pout as I glared at her. “I’m not a baby, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m eleven years old.”

Once again she arched that single eyebrow, then lowered her head to look at her device. “I meant no offense. Is eleven the age of maturity for your species?”

Trying not to roll my eyes, I replied, “...no. No, I’m still a foal. You’re not an adult in Equestria until you’re at least sixteen and have your cutie mark.”

Her head shot up, the very first sign of anything approaching shock crossing her face momentarily before she dismissed it. And she wasn’t the only one to react in a funny way. Riviera slapped a hand to her mouth, choking noises escaping her as she squeezed her eyes shut, her face burning. “Did you say, cutie mark? What is a… cutie mark?”

My first instinct was to bark, “What kind of a question is that?” before I managed to restrain it, reminding myself these weren’t ponies I was talking to, but weird two-legged creatures. “It’s something everypony gets when they discover their special talent. Mine is magic.” I pointed at the red and yellow sun gracing my flank. “See?”

“Magic?” she repeated, her eyes full of doubt. “This is the second time you’ve referred to that. What do you mean by magic? Are you referring to the abilities you demonstrated against our security officers?”

Now I did roll my eyes. What kind of so-called scientist doesn’t know what magic is? Good grief. “Not just that. I mean magic. Like this.” Lighting up my horn, I gently removed the rectangular screen device from her hand and floated it around us.

Riviera froze, a shocked look crossing her face while T'Lona pulled out her tricorder and rapidly pressed many buttons on it. “Fascinating. This is a reading unlike anything I have ever encountered before.”

The corners of my mouth turned up, the beginnings of a smirk gracing my muzzle. “Oh, you think that’s impressive, huh? Watch this.” With a few quick zaps of my horn, I swapped the colors on the device, from the silver to a bright pink, then a forest green, then chartreuse, before finally switching it to a rich scarlet red.

“Uh, T’Lona? Should she really be doing that?” asked Riviera with a concerned frown.

T'Lona cocked her head. “I am not detecting any harmful radiation, if that is your concern. But I believe that is sufficient demonstration of your… magic, Sunset. Please return my PADD to its original color and give it to me.”

With a shrug, I dismissed the prestidigitation spell and floated the PADD back over to her waiting hand. “There you go.”

“Thank you,” she said. She ran one final scan of her PADD with her tricorder, then returned the tricorder to her pocket. “With your permission, Sunset, I would like to examine your… abilities further, when you are more comfortable with such things.”

“If it’s all the same to you, T’Lona, I’d rather just go home,” I said, finding myself growing bored with this. “Look, when I showed up here, did anyone see any sign of any kind of portal?”

“I do not believe so,” T’Lona answered. “However, it would be prudent to check the records.” She tapped a piece of jewelry on her chest, something I’d dismissed as meaningless. “T’Lona to Grav.”

“Grav here, ma’am.”

T’Lona moved over to the single desk occupying the room and sat down in the chair, moving some other device with a screen on it closer to herself. “Please transmit all sensor data from the arrival of our new guest to the terminal in examination room seven. I wish to examine it presently.”

“Aye, ma’am. I’ll send it straight away.”

“Thank you. T’Lona out.” She tapped her jewelry again, then glanced over at me, and gestured for me to take a seat next to her. “If you would like, you may look at the data with me. We might be able to discover how you arrived here.”

With a shrug, I walked over and sat next to her. Although I still wasn’t sure how much I trusted these creatures, I felt like I could trust T’Lona. For now. I’d still keep my eye on her.

“Dunno how much we’re gonna be able to figure out that way,” Riviera commented as she grabbed up a chair from the corner and placed it down to T’Lona’s left, sitting down next to her. “Might take a lot of analysis.”

“I am aware,” T’Lona said, “but it is worth taking a look. It could be that Sunset has a key piece of insight that will solve the problem quickly.”

While the data, whatever that was, took its time to arrive, I asked the next question that occurred to me. “What’s that thing you pressed on your chest?”

She glanced down at it. “This is a combadge. It is a communications device. It allows me to speak with others at a great distance.”

“Huh. So it’s kind of like a radio, then.”

Arching an eyebrow at me, she gave a swift nod. “Of a sort, though far more complex. Your civilization is more advanced than I expected. One other question, if I may.”

I gestured to her. “Shoot.”

“Is it normal for your species to not wear clothing, or was your clothing lost when you were transported to Earth?”

Riviera slapped a hand to her face. “Oh my word, T’Lona, is this really the time to be asking this?”

T’Lona glanced dispassionately at Riviera. “It is as good a time as any to ask. It needs to be addressed before she can walk around in public.”

Heat filled my face as I unconsciously moved my tail over my rear, scooting back slightly. “Uh, what do you mean? What’s wrong with no clothes?”

“In my experience,” T'Lona answered, “it is extremely rare that a species reaches your level of development without the social requirement of clothing.”

“So what?” I retorted. “Ponies don’t feel the need to wear clothes all the time.”

“But most sapients do,” she said. “There will be many who will find someone who doesn’t wear clothes… unusual at best. And in many jurisdictions a lack of clothing is considered a misdemeanor. We will have to find you something suitable.”

Now my face paled. “Wait, I’m breaking the law? By being naked?

“Technically, yes, but it can be excused due to the manner in which you arrived and your ignorance of local cultural norms,” she answered matter of factly. “Doctor Selar’s initial scans should have provided us with enough data to allow the computer to replicate something that will fit your form. I will take care of that when we are finished.”

“Thanks, I guess,” I muttered, repressing a shiver. Jeez. These creatures are bigger prudes than pre-Exodus Unicornia was. Nothing wrong with not wearing clothes.

The terminal bleeped, indicating it was ready. “Curious,” T’Lona said as she scanned through the data. “Nothing was detected upon your arrival. No chronitons, tachyons, or any other unusual particles. Nor any radiation, at least not until you began using your abilities. You simply appeared.”

“Is there a visual we can check?” Riviera inquired, leaning forward to look more closely at the terminal.

“There is.” T’Lona ran her hand on the terminal’s button. “Computer, display visual record of Presidio Park, camera 3J, time index 1527.65. Begin playback.”

Like a movie in a movie theater, but with far greater fidelity and sound, almost as if it was a three dimensional image leaping off the screen, we saw a view of the park. For a moment, nothing seemed to happen, save for various two-legged creatures passing by on their business, until suddenly there was a single flash of light, and I came flying out of it, hurtling onto the grass. “What was that flash?” I wondered.

“Pause playback,” T’Lona ordered. “Reverse to time index 1528.12. Resume playback, one quarter speed.”

The terminal obliged, and showed the footage once more. This time, the instant the flash appeared, T’Lona ordered it to pause again. The frozen image revealed what looked like a rectangular window floating in the air above the grass, through which we could see a hint of blue light, just like the blue room I’d been in before. “The mirror,” I said, pointing at it. “That must be the mirror. The thing that brought me here.”

“Fascinating,” T’Lona commented as she examined the image. “But why did our sensors not detect anything unusual? Surely some form of energy must have been emitted by it.”

“Somethin’ tells me we’re not gonna figure this out by staring at a computer screen in an exam room,” Riviera said with a sigh. “I’m sorry, Sunset, but I don’t think you’re getting home anytime soon.”

“Then I’m stuck here?” I said, my voice rising in pitch as my heart hammered in my chest. My coat soaked itself with sweat. “I-I can’t be stuck here! I have a life back home! I’m Princess Celestia’s personal student! I have a destiny!

Instantly T’Lona’s hand shot out to stroke my shoulder. Once more I felt the sense of calm pervade me, this time accompanied by a strong element of concern as well. “Apologies for resorting to this so often,” she said, the slightest hint of actual shame in her voice as she spoke. “But please, do not forget to stay calm, Sunset.”

The magic, or whatever it was she used, provided me with a lifeline to grip hold. I took it with fervor, and managed to still my beating heart. “H-How do you keep doing that?” I wondered.

T’Lona, after taking a moment to ensure I had relaxed, withdrew her hand. “I am a Vulcan. Vulcans such as myself are touch telepaths. I have been using this ability to help you control yourself.”

I blinked, then my eyes widened. “So when you put your hand on my face earlier…”

“Yes,” T’Lona answered. Despite the lack of emotion on her face, I could hear it. I could hear her regret. “Those who are well versed in the ability can perform what is called a mind meld. It is… truthfully, using it in the manner I did earlier would normally be considered a violation of the sanctity of one’s mind. It is not something I would ever resort to under normal circumstances. However, you had already been stunned once, and it seemed unlikely you would allow Doctor Selar to sedate you.”

“I guess,” I murmured, trying to shake off the memory of the feeling. It wasn’t unpleasant, just… unexpected. Similar in some ways to a few of the mind spells Princess Celestia had once shown me, as a demonstration of what not to do with them. And yet, I hadn’t felt T'Lona attempt anything other than simple communication. Communication that penetrated my mind more effectively than any spoken word, yes, but still just communication. Nothing more. So while it was unexpected, it somehow didn’t feel invasive.

I’d still rather she not do that again without permission though.

As if reading my thoughts, T’Lona continued, “Nor would that have been a good way to obtain your trust. I apologize for my intrusion. It is not something I will do again.”

“Good. You’d better not,” I said, sighing. Then I rolled my eyes, mentally kicking myself. I could all but hear Princess Celestia’s disappointment at my lack of diplomacy. “Err, I mean, apology accepted.”

She nodded, accepting it as given. “Of course.” Then she exchanged a knowing glance with Riviera, who nodded. Then T’Lona stood. “If you will excuse me, Sunset, I believe I should go fetch some clothing for you. Amina has something to offer you, if you are willing to listen.”

I froze. Despite how strange this place was, how bizarre, utterly beyond anything in my experience as Princess Celestia’s student, I didn’t want the one person I felt I could trust, even slightly, to leave. “Wait, you’re leaving?” I said, looking up in alarm at T'Lona. Without meaning to, I reached out a hoof to touch her hand.

Though she didn’t display it outwardly, I could feel, just like before, a sense of concern from her. Concern, and responsibility. She patted my hoof and said, “I will return, Sunset, do not worry.”

I watched her leave, then turned to Riviera, who thankfully kept a bit of distance between us. Gathering up my thoughts, I said, “S-so, what am I going to do? I can’t stay here, in this world. I need to get back to Equestria.”

“We understand, believe me,” Riviera said with a rapid nod and a reassuring smile. “And we’re going to do everything we can for you. But for now, well… you’re going to need a place to stay. That’s why I’m here, actually.”

I blinked. “Huh?”

“We know you’re far from home,” Riviera continued. “And while there may have been a bit of a… let’s say kerfuffle, when you first arrived? No one’s holding it against you. Trust me, there’ve been far more violent first contacts than that one. By comparison, a few stunned security officers? Not a big deal. Like T’Lona said earlier, we never meant any harm, and you never meant any either, right?”

Shaking my head, I said, “No, I didn’t.”

“Exactly,” she said. “So, since the Federation isn’t going to hold your actions against you, as they were justifiable self-defense, you need a place to live. And the Federation isn’t about to let people be homeless, especially not on Earth of all planets.”

Narrowing my eyes at her, I said, “What are you getting at?”

Before she could respond, T’Lona returned, carrying a bundle of cloth in her hands. “I have the clothing for you,” she said, setting it down. “You may put it on when you are ready.” She eyed Riviera. “Have you made the offer yet?”

“I was getting to it, hon,” Riviera replied with an exasperated look.

“Okay, can one of you give me a straight answer, please?” I growled, not happy with this sudden evasive talk.

The two exchanged looks, then Riviera answered, “All right. I don’t know much about your world--though I’m really eager to learn--but here on this one, we try to take care of folks, you know? And you’re a kid. A smart kid, but still a kid. You might be stuck on this planet, but you need a place to stay. So, what I’m offering is for you to stay with us.

“Amina is my mate,” T'Lona added, stepping closer to Riviera. “We would do our best to make our home welcome to you for as long as you need to stay there.”

“Wow,” I murmured. It’d been a long time since anyone had made an offer like that to me. A very, very long time. Not since Princess Celestia.

Princess Celestia… was she worried about me? Was she afraid for me, not knowing where I was? Would she even care that I was gone? Or would she find someone to replace me with, now that she no longer had to deal with me for a student?

Dismissing that thought, I said, “That’s… that’s very generous of you. Um, just so I know, is there… another option?”

“Of course, Sunset,” Riviera said with a chuckle. “The Federation would be more than happy to provide you with a foster family while we try to figure out where you came from. Doesn’t have to be with us if you don’t want to, but you’ll be taken care of regardless.”

Immediately I shook my head. “No, no way. I…” I looked up at T'Lona, who stared back, impassive, and yet somehow, still caring. And despite myself, despite every ounce of instinct in me screaming that this was foolish, that I was being an idiotic foal listening to my heart instead of my brain, I said, “I want to stay with you, T'Lona.”

For a moment, just a moment, I thought I saw the corners of T'Lona’s mouth turn up in a small smile. Then just as quickly it vanished. “As you wish, Sunset. Given the special circumstances of today, I will request some leave time for Amina and myself, to allow us both time to help you adjust to your new living situation. There will be much for you to learn about.”

“There’ll also be a lot we have to do to make things official,” Riviera said, her smile dimming, “but we’ll take care of that, don’t you worry.”

“A-all right,” I said, and though I smiled outwardly, inwardly a large mote of doubt took hold. How do you know you can trust them, Sunset? I asked myself. Yeah, sure, they’re acting nice now, but you remember the way they acted when you first showed up. Don’t trust them so fast. Keep your head, for pony’s sake.

“Before we can leave, there is one other matter,” T'Lona said. She picked up the bundle of cloth and presented it to me.

Oh. Right. The clothing. Sighing, I picked up the bundle with my field and unfolded it. It was some sort of slip, like a robe, except long enough to run over my whole body. There was a built in hole for my tail, and for all four legs as well. There was also a pair of… undergarments. My face turned a unique shade of red as I picked those up. “Uuuh… are… are these really necessary?”

“They are...optional, but usually worn,” T'Lona answered, arching an eyebrow.

Memories of the magazine I’d once discovered stashed in Princess Celestia’s study filled my brain before I tried desperately to banish those images back to the pits of Tartarus they’d emerged from. This is a different world. A different culture. You just have to blend in. It’s not the same as it would be back home. Plus, she said they’re optional. You don’t have to wear them. “Okay, um, thanks. Can I have some privacy, please?”

“Yes, yes, of course. Just come out when you’re ready, okay?” Riviera said.

I waited for them to leave, and then promptly balled up the undergarments and stuffed them in my bag. Then I tossed on the robe afterwards, which fit better than I would’ve expected for something a tailor must’ve tossed together. No, wait, she said she’d have the ‘computer’ ‘replicate’ it. What does that mean?

While plainer than any dress I’d worn for the Grand Galloping Gala or other celebrations with Celestia, the robe was serviceable, more comfortable than I expected. Still felt strange, having something like it hanging all over me… and I’d have to deal with that all the time… ugh.

Putting on my bags over the robe, I left the room and rejoined T'Lona and Riviera. “Okay, I’m ready,” I said.

“Glad to hear it!” Riviera said with a giggle. “Well, shall we?”

Stepping outside finally gave me some time to properly take in my surroundings. The patch of grass I’d landed on, far in the distance now, was one of several in a large park, split up by various hoofpaths of cobblestone and asphalt. Looming all around the park were tall buildings vaguely resembling the types I’d seen in Manehattan, except made of some white material I didn’t recognize. A few other boxy carriages flew overhead, with the sound of humming filling the air as they passed. Not far away a massive steel bridge painted a burnt rusty red spanned a large body of water. I took a moment to sniff the air. The smell of sea salt spray filled my nostrils, along with a mixture of other scents unfamiliar and strange. Far away, across the body of water, I saw another land mass filled with more buildings, skyscrapers reaching up in large shafts of metal spotted with greenery, as if trees were planted in every available spot.

I followed the two of them out of the hospital area, where they led me to some sort of grand central gathering area, set up around another small park. Various booths lined the street in pairs, with creatures queued up in lines. One at a time they’d enter the booth on the left and vanish, while creatures appeared from nowhere exiting the booth on the right. I noticed a lot of writing atop each of the booths, but I couldn’t read any of it. It was all in lettering that made no sense to me.

“I guess I’m going to have to learn how to read all of this stuff, huh?” I said as we got in line for one of the booths.

“Actually, that’s one of the things we’re going to take care of for you,” Riviera said. “As soon as we can, we’ll be getting you fitted with a universal translator of your own. That should make it so you can read Federation Standard as if it was your own language.”

“Woah. You can do that?” I gasped.

She beamed, her teeth brilliantly shining white. “You betcha! There’s a lot we can do. You’re going to have so much to learn about.” She held a hand up to her breast. “Sorry if I’m too enthusiastic about that. I’m a teacher. I teach stellar mechanics at Starfleet Academy. That’s the study of how stars work.”

I blinked in confusion. “Um, isn’t there someone who raises and lowers the sun for you each day, like Celestia does for Equestria?”

Now it was Riviera’s turn to be nonplussed. “I’m not sure what you mean. You’ve mentioned this Celestia before. Is she some sort of religious figure?”

“Uh, no, she’s the leader of Equestria,” I said, rolling my eyes. “I’m her personal student. And I’ve watched her raise the sun before. I’ve even helped her.”

Riviera smiled at that, but I recognized that kind of smile for what it was instantly: fake, forced politeness, cloaking the fact that she didn’t believe a word I said. She exchanged a brief look with T'Lona, who shook her head. “Well I’m sure you can tell us all about that while we get to know you better.”

“Oh I will,” I vowed. I wasn’t going to put up with doubt in Princess Celestia’s abilities. Maybe she and I had our differences, but I know she raised the sun. I’ve seen her do it countless times. I wasn’t going to let some ape creature tell me otherwise. “Where are we going, anyway?”

“We do not live in San Francisco,” T'Lona answered as we neared the booth. “We live in a city further to the north, called Vancouver. These transporter booths will take us there much faster than any other method of transit.”

That caught my interest. “Huh. Vancouver. Sounds a lot like Vanhoover, a city in Equestria.”

T'Lona arched a single eyebrow. “Curious. A city with the same name, but with a pun based upon a part of your species’ anatomy.”

“Oh, relax, hon, it’s just a quirk of the UT,” Riviera said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “I’m sure the real word in her actual language is nothing like that.”

Before T'Lona could respond to that, it was her turn to step through the booth. “I will be waiting for you,” she said as she stepped inside. I watched her dissolve into sparkles and vanish to the tune of a musical sounding hum.

“Sunset, you go ahead. I’ll be right behind you,” Riviera said.

Feeling a distinct sense of trepidation roll through me despite the fact I knew this was safe, I took a deep breath then stepped forward, into the booth. It buzzed at me impatiently until I adjusted my posture to stand on the pad properly. The whole body tingle filled me once again, till I found myself automatically stepping forward in a completely different location.

Like San Francisco, this city sat along the shores of a great body of ocean water, the smell of salt filling the air. But most of the other scents changed. There was more humidity in the air, the clouds greyer in the sky. More vehicles flew through the air as well, with these being many different shapes, not all identical like the ones I saw at Starfleet Headquarters. But just like San Francisco, dozens upon dozens of great huge skyscrapers dominated the skyline, all coated in greenery to beautify the place. It was a testament to technology, far larger than Manehattan dared to dream of being.

We rejoined T'Lona, who led us a short walk down the street to a train station, though the trains were unlike any I’d ever seen in Equestria. These floated along the rails, whooshing about at supersonic speeds, making me wonder how anyone could ever operate such a vehicle. Then Riviera explained they were automated--more of that computer nonsense I’d been hearing about--and that made me terrified of setting hoof in one. But after a few moments they managed to cajole me into doing it.

I needn’t have worried. While I’d been afraid of being pasted to the inside window like a pegasus crashing to the ground, we never felt a thing. “Inertial dampers are amazing, aren’t they?” Riviera said, as if that meant anything to me. Though after a moment I figured out what she meant. They used some kind of technology to eliminate inertia inside the train, so that we felt less movement than I would have in an elevator back home. How that was possible, I didn’t understand, but I was sure there was a reasonable explanation.

After an all-too-brief train ride, we departed the station, and spent a short while walking down the street till we arrived at a small semi detached townhouse, with a backyard full of fresh grass and flowers, and a tree out front with massive branches thicker around than I was. They led me inside and showed me around. It was a three story building, with a living area on the bottom floor, and bedrooms on the middle and top. “No kitchen?” I wondered as they finished the tour.

“Don’t need one,” Riviera said with a knowing smile. Then she introduced me to my newest favorite thing in the world: the food replicator. According to her it could replicate just about any kind of food, instantly, so long as it had a stored pattern. I gave it a try with a simple request for a glass of milk.

Almost like the transporter booth, a glass materialized in a soft swirl of sparkles and light. Floating it out, I took a taste. “Wow,” I said, impressed. “That’s just like the real thing.”

“That’s because it is the real thing, just made in a different way,” Riviera replied. Then she frowned. “Well, sort of. It’s a bit more complicated than that.”

“Oh I’ll figure it out eventually, I’m sure,” I said, eying the replicator like it was my newest prized possession. I finished off my glass of milk, then, as instructed, put the glass back in the replicator and tapped a button. The glass vanished, gone like it had never been there in the first place.

Then they led me back upstairs. “This’ll be your room. We haven’t been using it for anything except a bit of storage, but I managed to get someone to install a bed and some basic furniture before we got home,” Riviera said.

“We will help you customize it more to your liking,” T'Lona added. “However, that will require planning. We will have to do that tomorrow.”

“It’s… it’s great, thanks,” I said, feeling a spark of genuine appreciation. “I’m sure I’ll love it.”

“Glad to hear that, sweetie,” Riviera grinned.

We left the bedroom and went back down into the living room, where they showed me a bit more about their day to day lives at home. Riviera was quite the amateur gardener, it turned out, as she grew all the flowers herself. “One of these days I’ll grow some herbs, but I just love the flowers too much to give any of them up.”

Then they showed me how the computer worked, which led to a good two or three hours spent asking them various questions and investigating various new subjects, all the way till we sat down to dinner. That was an experience in and of itself, learning some of the differences between human--what Riviera was--and Vulcan diets. And, for that matter, pony diets. Like before, I focused on a dinner consisting of vegetables and fish.

Though I did try a bit of that odd bird Riviera favored. She called it chicken. It wasn’t bad.

Then we spent more time talking, until the computer announced it was 2200.

“Unfortunately it is quite late now,” said T'Lona.

They led me up to my bedroom, and Riviera gave me a little wave. “Well, good night. We’ll see you in the morning.”

She shut the door behind her, leaving me alone. I tossed off my annoying clothes in a hurry and fell onto the bed. It wasn’t as plush as the royal one in my suite in Canterlot Castle, but it was still surprisingly comfy. More so than I would’ve expected.

Canterlot… Equestria… just thinking about them caused my heart to ache. Without warning, tears came unbidden to my eyes, and I broke down in a mess of sobbing and crying that should’ve been beneath me. “I want to go home,” I whispered. “I want to see Princess Celestia again. I’m sorry, Princess. I’m so sorry. I never should’ve tried to find the mirror. I… I never should’ve… tried…”

Exhaustion claimed me, and I knew nothing till morning.

The next few days were a blur of new knowledge and attempts to make myself at home. There was so much to adjust to, it was all I could do to take it all in and hope that somewhere I’d retain it. So many new technologies. Like being able to talk to the computer, anywhere in the house, and have it answer any question I had. Or the food replicator, which I found myself experimenting with several times. T’Lona and Riviera tried to introduce me to some comfort foods through it. I loved the Plomeek soup, but then I was shown a hot dog. It… tasted good. At first. And then I found out what went in it.

I have never thrown up something that fast in my life, and never ever want to eat one of those things again.

I also spent a great deal of that time telling T'Lona and Riviera all about Equestria, about Princess Celestia, about magic, about the way things worked there.

I also learned that, allegedly, everything I thought I knew about the sun and moon was a gigantic lie. Allegedly. Apparently, stars weren’t meant to be moved by a single being expressing their will upon it. But I also swore to them, top to bottom, that I knew Princess Celestia moved our sun. “Well, if you think she did, I believe you, darling,” Riviera said. “But I just don’t see how it’s possible.”

“But I know it is!” I cried, fury rising in me over this denial of Celestia’s power. I knew Celestia better than most ponies, so unlike some insane ponies I didn’t think of her as something akin to a goddess. But that didn’t mean I was going to accept a denial of what I knew she could do. “I’ve seen it. I’ve helped her raise the sun before. I felt it with my magic! I touched it! With her help, I moved it. Everyone on my planet will tell you. They’ve all seen it.”

Riviera frowned at me, her eyes flashing with ire of her own. “I said I believed you, didn’t I?”

“No you don’t,” I snorted. “You’re just saying that to get me to shut up.”

“Excuse you? Don’t you think that is just a little uncalled for, young lady?”

“Ugh, don’t call me that,” I groaned. “You’re not my mom.”

T’Lona chose this moment to interject, subtly moving between us. “Perhaps there is something unique about the Equus star that allows this to occur,” she proposed. “It may be worth taking into account with newer stellar surveys. This may be a way to help find Equus for Sunset.”

“Well, I can always call in a few favors, see if I can’t get some of the survey missions looking out for something like that,” Riviera said, her face twisted up with doubt. “But I’d be very, very surprised if they found anything.”

“Please,” I pleaded, grabbing hold of her hand with my forehooves. “Please. I want to find home.”

She sighed, smiled at me, then leaned in and tousled my hair with her free hand. “I’ll do what I can, I promise.”

“Thank you!” I whispered.

But then days turned into weeks. Every day I’d ask them if there was any news from the stellar surveys, and every day they’d tell me no. Nor was there ever any word regarding the portal. They had a full science team investigate the area, but nothing was ever found. If the portal was still there, there was no way to access it from this side.

Eventually T'Lona and Riviera had to go back to work, so they enrolled me in a local school, to start in a couple of months. Prior to that I would have private tutors, who would help me catch up in various subjects I had little to no knowledge of, so they could place me with other kids my age. While the math was no problem--I could do differential equations in my sleep--the science was another thing entirely. Oh I took to it with gusto, eager for the knowledge, but there were so many things I had to unlearn, almost as many as I had to learn.

They also introduced me to a therapist, named Belle Hendricks. At first I resented that, with a passion. Like I really needed to talk to someone about my feelings. But it helped. I had a lot of homesickness to deal with, apparently. And anger. And resentment. T’Lona had introduced me to a few meditation techniques, but Belle helped me refine them. It was… useful. Especially in dealing with some of the tutors, who were often insensitive. Not rude. They just kept forgetting I didn’t have hands, or that I walked on four legs and needed extra time to take stairs or go through doors.

And then weeks turned into months. At some point, I don’t know when, I began thinking of the Vancouver house as… if not home, then the place where I lived. The place where I belonged. I know I preferred being there, rather than interacting with the other kids my age. Between T’Lona’s teachings, Belle’s assistance, and the way the other kids acted in school, constantly making fun of whenever they got the chance for being ignorant of basic facts or questioning things repeatedly, I couldn’t stand them. They were too uncontrolled and too nasty.

I liked the teachers at school though. They were kinder, more considerate than the tutors had been, even when I had to ask how to use my terminal to do something other kids understood intrinsically. Or how to use my PADD to perform a certain calculation. Or for a special accommodation for something, given my lack of hands, and the fact the world around me wasn’t designed for creatures on four legs. They understood. Though they still kept their distance emotionally, which was just fine with me. I didn’t need them to be my friends.

Though I was beginning to think of T’Lona as a friend. And Riviera too, if a little less so.

Six months after I’d first arrived, midday on a weekend found me in my bedroom, working on a science project involving fusion power. I’d found I had an aptitude for engineering knowledge. Despite all the technology being alien, the way it was put together, the math behind how they worked, it all made a great deal of sense. Okay, sure, I still needed some help getting any technology to do what I wanted, but I think the fact that I grew up without all this crap meant I could be given some slack.

I was just in the middle of a series of important calculations when my door burst open. “Please forgive the sudden interruption, Sunset,” said T’Lona. “But there has been a development regarding the portal that brought you here.”

I dropped my project in an instant. “Did someone find something? Did they figure out a way for me to go home?!”

T’Lona shook her head. “Not quite, I am afraid. You must come with me at once. We cannot afford to wait. Please, step close to me.”

I did as instructed. As soon as I closed the distance, T’Lona tapped her combadge. “T’Lona to Spacedock. Two for emergency site to site transport to the Presidio, immediately.”

The tingle of transport wrapped itself around us at once, depositing us in the Presidio. T’Lona pointed ahead to a gathered crowd, circled around an area, chattering wildly about what they saw. I gasped, feeling an intense sensation of deja’vu take hold.

And in the middle of the crowd, I saw it. Something impossible, unbelievable. Inconceivable even.

It was a pony. Another unicorn, this one smaller than me, much smaller, younger too. Maybe no more than eight years old, tops. She possessed a lavender coat and a tri-colored mane of sapphire blue, purple, and raspberry red. She had a hoof held up to her horn, which bore a burn mark, billowing smoke trailing up above it in thick curls.

“What happened?” murmured the younger pony, her Canterlot accent sounding odd and unusual to my ears after all the plain unaccented universal translated Ponish I’d heard for the last six months. “Where… where am I?”

The sound of her speech caused a few in the crowd to shout in alarm. The younger pony shouted right back, her eyes bugging out of her skull, her whole body taking on a slick sheen of sweat. She screamed, her words becoming more and more unintelligible by the second.

“Make way!” I cried, trying to push through the crowd, T’Lona by my side.

“Disperse immediately!” T’Lona added, shouting orders to the Starfleet personnel.

As soon as I pushed my way to the front, the younger pony locked eyes on me. "Who are you? What are those? What’s going on?!”

“Relax, kid, everything’s going to be okay,” I said in Ponish. I eschewed the universal translator so I could add a few soothing whinnies to my words. “Easy. Easy.”

“All right, break it up!” added another voice. Glancing over I recognized the tall form of Lieutenant Zhidar, who eyed me, his lips pulling back to show his teeth before he regained control of himself. “Everyone get out of here. Give the pony some room!”

“What’s going on?!” repeated the younger pony as she rushed forward, pressing against me, hiding against me as much as she could. “Where am I? Where’s Princess Celestia? Where’s Mom and Dad?”

“Princess Celestia…?” I breathed, my jaw dropping.

“Yes, Princess Celestia!” the younger pony repeated, nodding her head so hard I feared it’d pop off. “I-I was taking an exam! For the School for Gifted Unicorns! I was supposed to hatch this dragon egg and it was so hard and I couldn’t do it and then there was this big boom and my whole body was full of magic, then Princess Celestia came by to try and stop it, and there was this pull on my magic, like something trying to draw me in… and… then…”

“And then what?” I pressed.

“Then she was gone! So were Mom and Dad! And I was in this weird blue room, with… with...”

“With a mirror,” I finished, dawning horror filling me. “You touched it, didn’t you?”

She nodded, her muzzle contorting into a sad little frown. “I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t get away from it. It pulled me forward, drawing more and more of my magic out until I touched the surface, then there was an explosion...then I… I ended up here. Please, tell me, where are we?”

Oh hell, I groaned internally. “It’s...It’s going to take a lot to explain. I’m Sunset Shimmer. What’s your name?”

“My name?” she said, holding a hoof to her chest. “I’m Twilight. Twilight Sparkle.”

Author's Note:

So, here we go! Welcome, welcome to all, whether you're a returning reader from my other stories, or a new reader fresh on the block.

I've wanted to do a Star Trek crossover for a long time when it came to MLP, but I never seemed to get the concept right. Then I hit upon the concept I use here. It's fairly simple, but it will allow me to do quite a bit.

Like with my prior crossover, I will be doing my utmost to make this accessible to readers, so that you don't have to know Trek in order to enjoy it.

There are three planned "seasons" total, representing the three story arcs planned for this story, hence the season/episode naming format for the chapters. Like with many things, you can thank Blue Horizon for suggesting I do it this way.

Amina's first name comes from Arabic, and means "to feel safe." Riviera meanwhile, came as a suggestion from Blue Horizon, who has been such an absolute massive help in developing this story, you have no idea.

T'Lona, meanwhile, has the Kirshara Wordpress blog to thank for their excellent source of Vulcan lore. Her name means "lady of great learning." Both she and Riviera are scientists.

Where does the name of the story fit in? Well you'll see. It'll take a while before we get there though.

To clarify a few people's confusion: the character seen early on that stunned Sunset was not Worf, but Lieutenant Zhidar, who is mentioned in dialogue in the following scene. He is an Antican, a season 1 TNG race: https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Antican

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