• Published 30th Sep 2022
  • 1,812 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 4

As far as Twilight had believed, all the hard work would end as soon as they signed the treaty and settled in as proper members of the Stellar Compact. Everything would be perfect from then on: the Enti would probably surrender the instant they heard about it, since they were so terrified about the new alliance. The conquering warlords would return to their domain, and all the galaxy would be safe and peaceful forever. It would be perfect.

Unfortunately for her, that reality existed only in her imagination, and perhaps the other signatories’ during the next few hours. They spent that time together, discussing all the amazing things the alliance would achieve. She could see a little of that future in the conversations she overheard between her friends and the other assembled creatures. Equestria would send ponies to train in the human naval academy, and this race or that would build an embassy on Equus as soon as ponies told them where to put it. Those were only the beginning of the good ideas.

Her first hint that something might be going wrong came from a conversation no different than so many others: a strangely dressed dignitary who approached Twilight's corner of the party hall with a friendly smile. She probably should've realized something was amiss from her oversized yellow robes, flowing in layers with little red thread connecting them all. But in all her time on Antioch, she'd met so many friendly humans that she had begun to disbelieve that anything else even existed.

"So you're the newest member of the compact," the stranger said, sipping delicately at a small glass of tea. Like all the food she'd seen from humans so far, it smelled remarkably good, strong with just a hint of citrus. But there was a reason the humans had been the ones to get along with them, and the ones to cater the meal. She could only imagine what that thick paste the divensons were eating would taste like. "How do you feel?"

"Ready to win a war," Twilight said. It was a little weird not to get an introduction from this stranger, when so many others were eager for her to know them. Strange enough that she glanced around once, just to see where her friends might be hiding, just in case she needed somepony else to back her up.

She could see only Pinkie nearby, sitting at a table with... five guards? They'd settled their gun-belts over their chairs, and there were rows of little glasses in front of them. Pinkie, are you having a drinking contest? Despite her size, the earth pony mare seemed to be winning. Of the ones at the table, only the human and divenson were still in the running.

Twilight looked back, ears flattening. She shouldn’t let herself get distracted when she was on official business. "Well, hopefully to negotiate a peaceful end to the war. I know how bad things look, but... in Equestria, we've rarely encountered any problem that can't be solved with understanding. Now that the compact has a race the Zecrin will be willing to talk to, we're confident we can make that happen."

"Assuming any of us live that long," the woman said. Her tone remained surprisingly neutral, even as she said things that could've been screamed by a vicious enemy. "The ones who made the decision to contact Equestria instead of subduing it betrayed all humankind. I hope we survive long enough for them to be executed for treason."

"W-what?" Twilight jerked slightly in her seat, dropping the fork she was levitating. "What are you talking about?"

"Oh, you're not to blame," she went on. "We don't hate you, or any other magical creature. It's a common myth, you see. That everyone in the Zero Point just hate every magic user because of what you do. That's a simple lie, used to discredit the important message we preach." She settled her cup of tea gently on the table across from Twilight, pulling over a chair. But apparently none of the guards had noticed, because nopony made to stop her.

"We don't blame you for your evolution. Evolution is a stupid thing, really. Life on many worlds develops for years down a path that will doom itself. Do you know, the same nearly happened on our planet? In time more ancient than comprehension, plants evolved. Their ability to photosynthesize fixed carbon dioxide from the air into their own bodies, forming hard stems. But they were so new, nothing existed to recycle this material back into the environment, so levels of Co2 in the atmosphere plummeted. The planet began to cool, and there was a dearth of raw materials for new plants to use. If no new scavenger had evolved to decompose these new corpses, and eventually to eat living plants... my kind would not exist, and the galaxy would already be enslaved."

Twilight remained in her seat, trying and mostly succeeding to conceal her annoyance. She probably would've been fascinated by this little piece of history, if it wasn't for the way this woman had begun her conversation. Implying that humans should've... what, done to Equestria what the Enti were doing to everyone else? "Who are you?" Twilight demanded, no longer even pretending to her deference and politeness. She felt no need to be, with a creature who approached harmony with open contempt.

"I am Confessor Dali," she said. "Zero Point's highest confessor. I represent a billion believers all over the galaxy." Which sounds like a lot, until I remember that there are much more than a trillion citizens in this compact. That might be everypony living on Equus, but it isn't very many out here. The galaxy doesn't hate Equestria. "But since the galaxy has refused to hear our persuasion, I turn to you in desperation."

She leaned forward, stealing the napkin from beside Twilight's utensils, and balancing it over her teacup. "I suppose you must take magic for granted. You imagine that it is a natural process, in harmony with your world. This is only because you don't understand it. You can't, you lack the necessary technology. But we're at war with a magical species. The Enti have used their incredible powers to defeat the fleets of all races but humanity. We defeated them not with superior technology, but simple tenacity. The Enti had never encountered a foe who were willing to die by the millions to protect their home.

"In our war, we haven't discovered a way to give these powers to other races, thank God. What we have discovered is a way to observe magic in action. This is what we can see." She touched a few fingers on the napkin, pushing downward just a little. Nothing happened. "Every time one of you invokes your abilities, you interact with the fundamental structure of the universe in a way that no other creatures can. To... simplify for your primitive grasp of science, imagine a field that permeates all space, upon which the laws of physics themselves are balanced. We imagine it is balanced, yet it is not. A billion billion spells might pass with no impact on this field—yet eventually, one will agitate it just a little too much."

She jammed her finger down into the tea. Her napkin soaked in seconds, wicking fluid up the sides and staining the tablecloth. "Once it begins, vacuum decay will accelerate in all directions at the speed of light, utterly annihilating all matter that it comes in contact with. Your kind, or the Enti, or the Zecrin will initiate the end of all life not just in the galaxy, but in all the gravitationally-bound universe."

Twilight glared across the table at Dali. She smiled as politely as she could, lifting her fork in her magic and taking a slow, deliberate bite of a tiny cake. She could see Dali's face twitch once, her eyes never leaving the fork. Maybe she thought she would catch on fire right now, or explode. It sounded about as likely.

Twilight finished chewing before she said anything, taking her time. "I'm sure you're well-informed, Dali. And maybe some of what you're saying is true. But while observing magic might be something new to you, it's been part of our culture for thousands of years. We've been able to see the effects of magic and its interactions with fundamental particles. I could illustrate them for you right here, with the right reagents. What you fear will not happen. Magic is not safe, I couldn't say that any more than I could say that fire was safe, or electricity. But it is not inherently destructive. The other members of the Compact understand that the danger of magic comes not from its nature, but from its wielders. Why can't you?" Twilight was a princess of Equestria, she could manage a smile just as perfect as Dali's, without even a hint of flinching.

The human rose from her seat, lowering her head respectfully. "Forgive me for wasting your time, Equestrian. I hoped that this difference could be resolved peacefully. But I see there is nothing I can do. Know this—the universe has existed all this time not through happenstance, but because it is inherently self-regulating. You and other creatures like you are a threat. It will find some way to neutralize that threat."

She turned, and vanished into the crowd. Twilight spent the next few hours wondering just how Dali’s statements would manifest. But there were no attempts made on her life at any point during the party.

Eventually the party had run its course, and its many creatures began to disperse. Twilight and the others joined with an escort of human marines near the back of the vast parlor, and found Garnett waiting for them. When this is over, we're getting royal guards from the Celestia’s Grace to do this. We can't keep depending on these other races for everything when we're full members of the Compact ourselves.

"Did you enjoy the party?" Garnett asked, as the luxury transport's cargo hatch closed behind them, and they went speeding away into Antioch's depths. "I hope the food was good. We had several Equestrian chefs flown in to advise the entire menu. Gustav Le Grand, maybe you've heard of him?"

Pinkie nodded eagerly. "Really? I thought that chocolate fondue tasted familiar!" She reached up, licking the edge of one of her hooves. "Yeah, I didn't imagine it! That was Gustav le Grand all right."

"I didn't know many citizens of Equus had gone so far from the planet yet," Rarity said conversationally, settling into her padded seat. The space was just like every one they'd been in so far: expensive and comfortable. They were being treated like royalty at every moment. In fairness, that wasn't exactly new to her. "I might have to think of a little entrepreneurial expansion of my own. A galaxy so full of creatures who wear clothing is just begging for a few new voices. Anything to give creatures something more pleasant to think of than a constant war."

Rainbow responded with her usual tact. "That's great Rarity. But did any of you get someone really weird telling you how evil it is that ponies use magic?" She removed the bright paper party hat that she was wearing, expression solemn. "I didn't get what they were talking about, but I don't like creatures telling me I did something wrong when I didn't. I make enough mistakes that are my fault that I don't need any more, you know?"

"Yeah, actually," Fluttershy said. "I wasn't sure what she meant at first, but I'm pretty sure she was trying to tell me that magic was... bad? I think that's what she meant. Twilight would've understood it more I'm sure."

Garnett nodded, looking frustrated. "The mad confessor with that stupid bullshit again." She winced. "Err... forgive my language, ambassadors. I know you're sensitive about that."

"I've never heard that expression," Twilight said. "But somehow I agree with you. There was... some discussion in Equestria about this. We knew that not every creature in the galaxy would welcome us at first. The responsibility to change their minds is ultimately ours."

"You don't have to do that," Garnett snapped. So fast that Twilight wondered if she'd been waiting for it this entire time. "You're already the first magical ally we've ever known. Your abilities are enough, we don't expect anything else from you."

"And that's why we're going to deliver," Twilight said. "Not today, maybe. But soon. Instead of your only magical ally, we're going to make it so the Enti are your only magical enemy."

Garnett's eyebrows went up. None of her friends seemed to know what she was talking about, or they were too smashed from the party to even listen. Not that it was a concern for Twilight—Alicorns resisted poisons, and her body apparently included alcohol in that category. "The Zecrin aren't going to join the Compact. They won't let our ships anywhere near their space. And since we're not interested in a war on two fronts, we haven't pressed that boundary. But before we deciphered their language, we lost ships in Dracos. It's not safe."

Twilight smiled. "That's what makes it a perfect challenge for Equestria. In fact, some of our best creatures are already on their way. As soon as they hear we're members of the Compact, they'll go to work. It's time to change some minds."