• Published 30th Sep 2022
  • 1,787 Views, 170 Comments

Diplomatic Solution - Starscribe

Equestria joins the galactic community to discover an bloody eternal war. They resolve to find a solution in the pony way: diplomacy. All the Young Six have to do is negotiate an alliance with violent, xenophobic aliens. What could go wrong?

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Chapter 2

Twilight rose in time with the slight jolt of the Celestia’s Grace as they finally settled into place, landing struts extended. The rumble of their engines faded into the distance, and for a moment they were left in silence.

Out the windows all around them, she could see the landing field. A field was exactly what it looked like, with a soft purple grass punctuated with gray flowers. Or… maybe she just didn’t have the right senses to appreciate the color.

This is the capital of the galaxy?” Rainbow asked, leaning out the window. “I can’t even see any… tech stuff.” Her expression soured. “Wait a minute. Are they not taking us seriously? That alien called us adorable… I’m getting a pattern here.”

But despite Rainbow’s worries, it wasn’t an empty field. Little ships passed by overhead, and though it had looked grassy at first, closer inspection proved a little archway leading into the ground was visible in the near distance, with light shining from within.

“I think it might be luxurious,” Rarity said. “Think of how difficult it must be to keep something alive around all the awful chemicals that pour all over the place wherever starships land. I thought keeping in an atmosphere with such low gravity was difficult… but all this nature would seem like luxury to me too if all I did was see metal. Even if it’s… not our idea of nature.”

“I trust you were expecting creatures to meet you outside,” the computer said. “Because they’re emerging from underground, and seem to be waiting for you.”

“We can criticize their sense of design later,” Twilight said, spinning on her hooves and turning to go. “Computer, have our belongings ready at the boarding dock. We’re going.” She raised a wing, silencing Rarity before she could even say it. “We’re not going right to the signing. We can change and prepare once we’ve met our new friends.”

“Right,” Rarity sighed, but didn’t argue. Soon enough they were following, all five of her friends. Twilight wished briefly that Spike could be here to help—but her loyal dragon had even more important duties holding the fort back home. I hope you’re not as nervous as I am, Spike.

A few minutes later and she emerged from the loading dock, which the waiting assembly of creatures had apparently known they’d be using.

There were a dozen of them in all, mostly the soft, furless creatures called humans. Equestria’s contact with the rest of the universe, and the reason they were entering this world in the first place.

Captain Kalsbe was not human, though, and his avian body had more layers of cloth and fancy-looking uniform than she’d ever seen on a pony. It was more like a dress than anything—but it was wrong of her to make assumptions about cultural expectations.

She didn’t understand him at first—but they were all wearing little earbuds, and the translations came in only seconds later, superimposed in a computery-sounding version of his voice. “Equestrian delegation, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Antioch Prime. The Stellar Compact is eager to formalize our agreement and begin a productive relationship we hope to last for many thousands of years to come.”

Well at least you’re not shortsighted. Then again, considering what she’d seen on the way in, she already knew the Stellar Compact could think ahead.

She stepped forward, wavering briefly as she considered whether or not to offer a hoof to shake. But his species didn’t have forelegs, only their wings and legs, so it didn’t seem to make sense.

The captain didn’t seem to mind though, and he lowered his beak towards the human she’d seen earlier. “My second will assist you with whatever arrangements need to be made prior to tonight’s meeting. Your language, it…” He lowered his voice, and the translator didn’t catch it. But Twilight didn’t need it to, because of the unmistakable word “humans”.

There’s tension even here? Curious.

“That’s me.” A human stepped forward, and this time there was no delay or strangely overplayed words. She did have quite the accent, about the same as she would’ve heard in a dragon. But that was it. “I’m Lieutenant Helen Garnett. Ordinarily I’d suggest using my first name, but I think my last will be easier for you.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Rarity said.

Several of the others added their own introductions before Captain Kalsbe turned to one side. “My Lieutenant will see to your needs from here. I am needed on the Eucharist. Welcome again to Antioch.”

And he left, without waiting for their farewell, or even seeming to care if they heard him. Most of the escort went with him, leaving only Garnett and a few other aliens in similar jumpsuit uniforms. All human, Twilight noticed.

“Your captain seems… nice,” Fluttershy said. “Is he always so…”

Garnett nodded, not making her finish. “One of the first things to understand if you’re going to be working here on Antioch. The creatures of the free galaxy have all evolved under their own distinct cultural frameworks. In the past, the Compact was more of a… well, it’s in the name. A trade compact. Until the Enti discovered us.”

Several of the humans around her shuddered at the name. It was a meaningless jumble of letters to Twilight, but apparently not them. “Will we have quarters somewhere?” Twilight asked. “None of us have had the chance to change for our trip here, or to prepare for the ceremony. We could use our own ship for it if there’s nowhere available.”

Garnett smiled at the suggestion. “Equestria is the brightest star on our horizon since the invasion began. If we couldn’t find you quarters before you signed onto the Compact… we’d be poor hosts. Follow me. And allow my assistants to take your belongings.”

She gestured to another tunnel, one the rest of the Eucharist creatures hadn’t used. “The Earth Commonwealth is offering you space in our section until you’re able to build your own,” she explained. “Don’t worry, I think you’ll find our taste in decor has much in common.” She glanced down at a flower, sighing. “We can’t see ultraviolet either.”

Garnett escorted them through wide tunnels, which were each more in line with what Twilight had been expecting from the interior of an incredibly advanced megastructure. A few steps in and the ground started to move of its own accord, speeding them along in little modular sections.

“Don’t fly,” Garnett cautioned, as Rainbow spread her wings. “The adhesion field won’t let you, for safety reasons. You could get smacked into another group going fifty kilometers an hour the opposite direction.”

Rainbow closed her wings, glaring down at the floor. She lifted one hoof skeptically. “But we can still move.”

“They didn’t share all their technology with us,” Twilight said, before Garnett could be forced to explain. There were priorities. “Getting us into space was more important than… bizarre public transport.” They weren’t being blasted by wind either, though she could see some other creatures passing them on their own little platforms.

Many stared, and only a few looked even remotely friendly.

“It’s not about being unwilling to share it with you,” Garnett said. “Believe me, when it’s us against the Enti, we’re running this cultural exchange at near the speed of light.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially, and somehow Twilight could still hear her despite the rushing of the platform. “It took them two centuries to even entertain letting humanity into the compact, and that was apparently wildly radical at the time. Getting you recognized in a decade… it’s a buckin’ miracle.”

Rarity gasped, and Rainbow actually whistled. “You do speak our language.”

A few moments later and the platform came to a stop, in a cavernous space that nevertheless had made room for carpets and warm orange lights overhead, along with hundreds of humans. They moved in tight crowds, talking and singing and generally engaged with whatever it was that advanced aliens did in a subway platform.

Many turned to stare as Garnett led them through, though even more waved at them. As they reached an elevator platform, some even cheered.

“They seem fun,” Pinkie said, as they left the platform behind. “Are we going to have a party?”

“Obviously,” Garnett said. “We’ve been throwing a party down here for the last decade, ever since your planet was discovered.”

The elevator whirred to a stop, opening into what Twilight might’ve described as “palatial.” Marble pillars held up a ceiling well over their heads, with a wide central space filled with living plants in carefully sculpted boxes. Rooms separated off a central area, which seemed to have several large conference rooms, along with cooking, sanitation, and everything else Equestria might need to run its own little embassy far from home.

The palace had guest-quarters just like this, only… without all the unidentifiable technology everywhere.

“I’m not sure why,” Rainbow said flatly. “I’ve heard what they say about how you humans fight. And all your machines are… I don’t know what the buck half of this stuff does. Obviously you haven’t lost the invasion yet.”

Garnett glanced nervously at her aids, falling silent for a moment. “Leave their belongings and return to the Eucharist,” she instructed. “I won’t require any further assistance until after the signing.”

Finally the door slid shut behind them, and her shoulders seemed to slump a little. “Forgive me, ambassador. I don’t mean to ignore you, but… let me just say that the Compact’s decision to admit you is ‘controversial.’ You… probably didn’t get that impression from any of the humans living on your planet.

“But that’s because we know how desperate things really are. The Commonwealth is the one sacrificing a thousand lives every time the Enti push forward another parsec. Their magic can’t be beaten with every gadget and clever strategy in the universe. The Zecrin won’t help, so until you… no one thought that magical species could even see the rest of us as people. You’re proof that this war isn’t hopeless, and that’s reason to celebrate.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow, settling down in one of the nearby cushions. The formal signing was probably only a few hours away, but she hesitated. She could worry about dresses and makeup later, when there was this alien willing to be so open and honest with her. “Should you be telling us all this? The ones you had on Equestria had some strict rules about—”

“Cultural continuity?” Garnett laughed. “Those crusty academics ran the whole world when we were at peace. But we aren’t anymore, so… I’ll tell you anything I can. Which isn’t as much as you’ll know once you’re a formal part of the Compact.” She nodded towards a set of low chairs by one wall, with glass displays in front of each. “You’re Equestria’s representatives on Antioch. Tomorrow morning, you’ll get database credentials to… everything. Why hide things now?”

“Well we could change our minds,” Pinkie said offhand. “Maybe you’re afraid that we’ll find out too much, and we’ll get cold hooves at the last second. If it feels like joining with you might be picking the wrong side in this war, maybe it’s not the right choice for Equestria.”

Garnett shrugged. “If you wanted to help the Enti enslave the galaxy, I don’t think you would’ve made it this far.” She reached down, selecting a little white flower from the pot in front of her, and plucking it. “Equestria has a choice to make. You can support the galaxy’s would-be magical overlords, watching as every other creature has its identity stripped away and its foals brutalized—or you can work with the species who know what ‘friend’ means, and who build worlds you’d want to live on.”

She held out the flower towards Pinkie, expression fierce. “I’ve been studying you ponies since you were discovered. You know what ‘evil’ is, just like we do. And I think you hate it.”

Pinkie leaned forward, taking the flower in her teeth before swallowing it in a few quick bites. “Hmm. Crunchy.”

“We do,” Twilight said, before Garnett could get the wrong idea. “It doesn’t matter how scary these invaders are. We saw the way you acted when you found us, and you could’ve done whatever you wanted to Equestria. We know whose side we’re on.”

The translator grinned back. “Good. We deathworlders should stick together.”