• 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 3

It happened less than two hours later.

Twilight and her friends weren’t anywhere close to being done being amazed by impossible-seeming structures that the Compact had built, at least not until they saw the council chamber.

It seemed to be suspended in space itself, below the massive chunk of not-planet and yet not quite severed from it. The chamber itself was easily as large as all Canterlot Castle, with shimmering protective fields that they were told were not magic.

“Magic lets you do some things we can’t,” Garnett explained, as they stepped out of the elevator onto a mostly empty floor of black stone. Black, and polished so bright that it reflected the stars from all around, and the chunk of planet overhead. “I’ve seen a unicorn make an atmo-bubble as hard as transparent aluminum, that you could touch like a wall.”

“It doesn’t seem that different than most shields,” Rarity said casually. “Just… larger. Perhaps a tad weak, judging by the color. And… I can’t say it isn’t a little disconcerting not to sense the spell. Or understand the gravity we’re feeling.”

“Well, it isn’t magic. And if you touch it, it’ll probably burn your fur and skin like paper. There’s a coating you can put on suits to pass through it no problem, but… just stay away from the edges.”

She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Blame the Venetus for this. They needed to make a big show long before any humans got here. Half of this space is just to accommodate those water-spheres so they can watch. As for me--being out in space like this just freaks me the hell out.”

“You can say that again,” Rainbow agreed. “A sky full of broken planet instead of sun. I’m gonna have nightmares about cloud busting this place.”

On they went, into a dense crowd of waiting dignitaries of many races. Twilight took them all in, trying to remember what she could about each one. The Stellar Compact was known to have many members, but the Compact hadn’t discovered them. Humans had, and almost all the contact Equestria had with the outside went through them. These other races had just been entries in textbooks to her until now.

There were more of the birdlike aliens, and other creatures that oozed their way along. Massive, hulking brutes, and more still.

“I thought humans were newer members,” she muttered, hoping that the size of the crowd would keep their conversation from behind overheard. “Half the creatures in this room look like you.”

Garnett laughed cheerfully. “Save the galaxy and that’ll happen. We’re not the cleverest, our tech isn’t the best, and our art might not be the most interesting. But when there’s terrible evil rampaging across the galaxy, all the science in the world won’t save you if your ships don’t have pilots brave enough to go into battle. Or explorers daring enough to venture out into the unknown, and make friends with aliens no one ever imagined.”

Stadium seating ran around the edges of the vast space, and little signs floated in the air over each chair. Through some strange magic—or technology, anyway—they got bigger when she looked, making each name and office legible to her, then fading again when she looked away.

But their group wasn’t bound for the benches. Instead they went all the way to the bottom, where several little islands hovered in empty air, apparently unsupported.

Twilight wouldn’t have questioned how this was done in Equestria—she could probably draft a few spells to do it in her sleep. But knowing that no magic had been used was strange enough to pique her curiosity.

She didn’t ask now, though, not with so much attention on them. They stepped onto another moving floor, that took them around to the island with a dozen or so humans on it.

The ground itself was a little like the cutie map, a little image of familiar mountains and rivers and plains. Elevated chairs were scattered around the edges of the round space, so that the creatures sitting here could look around at the other islands and the crowd high above.

Are we signing a treaty, or being judged?

The other islands were structured the same way, with what appeared to be recreations of the environments of the creatures who lived there depicted in light.

There were only four islands—the other races part of the compact apparently weren’t important enough to warrant inclusion.

“You can all sit here,” Garnett said, leading them to a table that was mercifully far from the precipice. Twilight wouldn’t have to have any nightmares about losing her non-winged friends today. “The treaty is there, feel free to look it over if you think we might’ve made any changes.”

“Did you?” Applejack asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Of course not!” Garnett said. A few of the watching dignitaries in their suits gasped, or just looked uncomfortable at the prospect. “We had a formal version created that read exactly as we negotiated with your princesses.”

Twilight waited a moment as Applejack sized her up. Finally the farmpony tilted her hat. Well—it was the same shape, only this one was white, with a few gemstones around the rim. A “formal” hat. “She’s tellin’ the truth.”

“I would hope so,” Pinkie said cheerfully. “We wouldn’t want to make promises with creatures that are going to lie to us. Then maybe we would’ve picked the wrong side.”

Finally they sat down, and the dull roar of conversation from all sides faded. Twilight found herself wishing she’d asked to have Garnett explain all this again to refresh her memory—but it was too late now.

The ceremony took well over three hours, a performance of ancient ritual that was in its way more complex than the Summer Sun Celebration. There was a formal parade around the outside of the island, a recitation of the Compact’s history, and even several breaks for refreshments.

Eventually the pomp and circumstance faded into the background, and attention seemed to zero-in on them again.

Throughout the ceremony, a single booming voice led the ritual, speaking in dozens of languages simultaneously yet somehow remaining perfectly clear to her.

“Before the security council offers their signatures, and before Equus does likewise, ceremony requires that any elected here be permitted to offer objections.”

Only Rainbow could be crass enough to interrupt something this important, even if it was just a covert whisper to Garnett. But Twilight was glad she had, once she heard what her friend had to say. “What’s the point of all this? I thought we were already in? Isn’t it a done deal?”

Garnett nodded, her face pale as she whispered back. “This would only matter if the other security council members hadn’t already made up their minds. There’s nothing anyone can say to convince us to back out, or the others. Even the creatures who don’t like ponies much aren’t going to argue. We’re sponsoring you, and they want our ships protecting their worlds.”

Twilight winced at the implication. A harsh web of alliances and secret oaths seemed to have brought them this far. A part of her balked at any knowledge that the usual order had been violated on their part. But a stronger part realized just how dire the situation was. The Compact needed Equestria if it wanted to stop the Enti.

She’d lost whatever the voice had said, but it seemed to fade back in as soon as she started listening again. “The council recognizes one representative from… religious organization Zero Point. As you represent a single seat, you may have one minute.”

Light shone suddenly on a single chair in the huge crowd of watching creatures. To her shock, it was a human face, though their skin looked a little darker than Garnett’s. Not only that, but they dressed in strange robes, and an oversized hat covered in symbols.

“Zero Point wishes to remind the galaxy of this obvious truth: that every act of ‘magic’ done across all of space invokes the possibility of a runaway collapse from which no life will survive. The Enti invoke it, the Zecrin invoke it, and now we learn of another race who invoke it as well.

“There are already two races putting the very existence of the universe at risk. This third is weak enough that it can be altered humanely. Uplifting them was blasphemy, and allowing them to continue is sacrilege. Do something, for the sake of your children.”

He sat back down, as though he hadn’t just casually suggested the alliance commit heinous evil to her whole planet. Twilight’s nostrils flared, and her wings opened and closed—but compared to Rainbow, she was a little saint.

“What the buck was that?” she asked Garnett, not even trying to keep her voice down. It didn’t matter, half the room had started shouting. Or… maybe debating? All the overlapping translations made it impossible to tell. “Is that one of you arguing to invade us?”

Garnett raised a defensive hand to Rainbow, hovering as she was just inches away. There were no guards up here, no soldiers—but several of the other humans in their fancy suits and dresses moved a little closer, maybe to intervene.

“He has nothing to do with us,” Garnett said. “Those backwards assholes in Zero Point are barely even a billion people across the entire Compact. They think all magic is inviting a vacuum energy collapse that’s going to destroy the universe. They’re a doomsday cult, but when the ones murdering and enslaving everyone are magical, well… you get a few sympathetic ears.”

“But none of ours,” said a voice from beside them. Another female, though she was far older-looking than Garnett. Her face was wrinkled, but underneath her suit she still seemed muscular and confident. A princess, maybe? Or just another diplomat. “Have no fear, Equestrians. The Compact may allow freedom of religion, but the navy follows its orders.”

“I don’t much like that anypony could say a thing like that,” Applejack said. “Even if… a billion ain’t much to you, or whatever. Little idea today might be a big one tomorrow.”

“We understand your concern,” the woman said, without skipping a beat. “So think about the way we’ve acted. We publish the best data we can, but we can’t change every mind. That’s why we’re helping Equestria be prepared. We’re giving you every weapon you’re capable of understanding, every technology. Nothing could be a clearer sign of our feelings for you than that.”

“That is the final objection,” said the strange voice, suddenly silencing everyone. Twilight winced, wishing she’d paid a little more attention. She’d been so upset by that first argument she missed all the others. “Every representative has been thus heard. The council renders their verdict.”

From the other side of their little island, a figure rose, stepping forward faster than anyone else could. “Earth renews its sponsorship,” he said. “Humanity welcomes Equus in friendship.”

The translation took a moment to make its way through Twilight’s headset, but she didn’t even need it. She could hear the human’s positivity before his words reached her.

It’s a good thing their faction found us first, and not the ones that think magic is evil. This ambassador thing might not be as easy as I thought.

“Aerie renews its acceptance,” said a female voice. “With reservations.”

“Amalgam seconds Earth and welcomes Equus in friendship,” said another voice, reverberating strangely even with the translator.

The invisible leader of their ceremony didn’t wait a second. There were a few objections from the crowd, a few angry voices. But it didn’t seem to care.

“The Stellar Compact has determined to accept Equus and all its member species as associate members. Should it survive probation, it may elect a member to the security council in one year’s time.”

Okay, maybe your translation isn’t as perfect as I thought. Survive probably wasn’t the word you were looking for.

A spotlight suddenly shone down on them, and she could feel thousands of eyes all focusing. Twilight leaned forward, lifting a pen in her magic. She’d prepared for this moment, even though it would only be brief.

“Equus is honored for your welcome,” she said. Without any effort on her part, her voice boomed through the room, strangely stretched and compressed as it was translated. From the sound of it, poorly. “We regret that our arrival has come at a time of such darkness. But by working together in friendship, we hope to bring a swift end to that fear, and a return of peace for thousands of years to come.”

It didn’t seem to matter if the translation was working right. The humans nearby started doing something, hitting their hands together in a loud, repetitive sound. It spread through the room, and might’ve frightened her, except for the roaring cheers that joined in from further out, the shouts of praise.

A thousand cameras flashed in their directions as they signed the treaty, and the whole galaxy trembled.