• Published 28th Dec 2011
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ARTICLE 2 - Muppetz



An alien crash lands in Equestria. It calls itself human.

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ARTICLE 2 Part IV

ARTCLE 2

Part IV

By: Muppetz (!Gsih3Wfnlk)

Celestia and Luna stood outside the cell, neither willing to speak. The commander of the guard stood by their side. Two dozen soldier ponies, clad in full armor, guarded both sides of the door. Luna knew this conversation was going to come sooner or later. Admittedly, she would have preferred the latter. She gave her older sister a concerned look, and Celestia returned it.

“We have to, Luna.” Celestia said, answering Luna’s question preemptively.

“I know, It’s just…this is certainly going to be awkward,” she said, brushing a lock of blue mane out of her eyes.

“He deserves to know,” Celestia said, steeling her voice. “Commander?”

“Highness?” He replied, happy to be back in on the conversation.

“Open the door.”

Aegis fumbled for a moment. “Your highness, I really do not feel that that would be wise,” he sputtered, eager to dissuade the Princess.

“I need to speak with it,” she stated calmly, as if she just wanted to take a relaxing stroll.

“You want to go INSIDE?! Princess I really must protest! It’s not at all safe, please allow somepony else to go in your place. It’s far too dangerous for either of you. Why don’t-”

“Commander!” Celestia interrupted him. She locked him in an intimidating gaze. “We are hardly helpless little fillies! I appreciate your concern, and your protests are duly noted. So if you would, kindly open the door.” The seasoned guard shrank under Celestia’s gaze, but he would not back down.

Loud yet muffled shouting emanated from beyond the steel door, and all heads turned to face it. The Commander looked back at Celestia, concerned defiance written across his face.

Now,” Celestia added.

Luna stood and watched the silent exchange that ensued. For a moment she feared the Commander might outright defy orders. But he slowly lowered his head in a disconsolate bow.

“Right away, your highness,” he said, defeated. He spun about on his hooves and turned to face the two dozen guards. He whistled loudly, and they all snapped to attention. The Commander tapped both sides of his forehead with a hoof and pointed it to the steel door. Without missing a beat, the guards lined up into two rows that perpendicularly flanked both sides of the cell. Anything that left that room would have to now go through a wall of armor.

Celestia followed the Commander to the gleaming steel door. He produced a complicated key, took it in his teeth, and inserted it into matching keyhole. He looked over at one of the unicorn guards, and nodded. The guard nodded back, and his horn began to glow a pale blue. The commander gave the key a twist. Tiny machined levers could be heard maneuvering out of place, along with the deep sonorous grinding of several large steel deadbolts sliding into an unlocked position.

Celestia stood by Luna as they watched and listened to the inner machinations of the large steel door working. The voice from the other side had fallen silent. Luna felt her heart beginning to beat faster as her excitement and trepidation reached a boiling point.

“Who’s going to be the one that tells him?” Luna asked, as she looked up at her big sister.

“Well, I think it-”

“Not it!” Luna interrupted Celestia, a large grin on her face. Celestia sighed and shook her head at her little sister’s childish tactic.

“Let’s at least try and get him to answer a few questions before we tell him. I doubt he’ll feel much like talking once he finds out.”

“How long do you think we’ll be able to stall him?” Luna asked. The door slowly opened inwards, sliding silently on oiled hinges hidden in the wall. Celestia brought her head down by Luna’s and spoke in a hushed voice.

“I don’t know. Just try and avoid the subject for as long as possible.” She rose back up to her full height.

The door opened all the way, and there he stood. He no longer pulled on his restraints, and he stared at the two alicorns in the doorway. His gaze occasionally flicked from one to the other. He was in poor shape, not that Celestia expected that to have changed since the last time she saw him. The hoof-mark remained on the side of his forehead. But it had stopped bleeding, as had the score across his face where the bullet tore through his cheek.

Celestia stepped over the threshold of the room as slowly as possible, taking extra care to make no sudden movements. Luna followed her sister inside. Despite Celestia’s attempts to appear non-threatening, the alien took a few cautionary steps back. He watched the two carefully, waiting to see what they intended. Celestia stopped in the center of the room, and Luna stationed herself directly to Celestia’s left flank. The three stood staring at each other for a few painfully long and awkward seconds. It surprised the princesses when it spoke first.

“Where are my men?”

“…so much for stalling,” Luna muttered under her breath. Celestia ignored her.

“How about we start with something easier,” Celestia suggested. “Do you have a name?” He didn’t answer right away. Instead he appeared to fight some indiscernible internal struggle. He looked around the room to ensure no one else was in earshot.

“Shane,” he finally choked out.

“Shane T. Doran?” Luna asked. He locked eyes with the dark blue alicorn, curious.

“…yes,” he answered, before hesitantly asking, “…how do you know my name?” Luna stuck her nose in one of her saddlebags. She pulled out a long silver chain, on which hung two metal tags. Seeing them, the alien patted his chest with his hands, realizing his necklace was indeed missing. With a flick of her head Luna tossed the chain to the creature, and he snatched it out of the air. He turned its tags over in his hands before slipping the chain around his neck and tucking the tags into his blouse.

“Well Mister…”

Major,” he corrected. “At least give me that much,” he said under his breath.

Major Shane T. Doran,” Celestia began again, “I can imagine this is all just as confusing for you as it is for us.” Celestia stopped when she heard chuckling, an unusual tone of sick desperation coloring the alien's crooked laugh.

“Lady, you have no idea.” She felt a tingle of indignation at being referred to as “Lady,” but she held her tongue.

She continued, “Yes, well as I am sure you have guessed we have some questions that need answers. Your cooperation will make things much easier on the both of us.” The creature’s head hung low, frustration showing plainly upon his face.

“Save yourself the time. I can’t tell you anything.” he said, rubbing his temples with the heels of his palms. Celestia expected some resistance from the alien, but she never expected him to be so rudely forward about it.

“Why not? I think we have a right to know a few things, like, oh I don’t know…” Celestia tapped a hoof to her chin in mock contemplation. “What are you? And why have you crashed an enormous spacecraft into my country?”

“Yeah, because we did it on purpose,” he replied sarcastically before realizing what the pony had said. “Wait…your country?” He lifted his head and quizzically re-examined Celestia.

“Yes, my country. You landed in the sovereign state of Equestria. I am Princess Celestia. I rule along with my sister, Princess Luna.” Celestia nodded toward her sister.

“Hi!” Luna said, waiving a hoof to emphasize Celestia’s point. He stared pensively into the space between them for a few seconds.

“…you guys send princesses to interrogate people? I can’t tell if that’s incredibly stupid or really badass.”

“No, we don’t. However, you happen to be a special project of ours,” Luna explained.

“I’m flattered,” he said, the words dripping with cynicism. “But you still haven’t answered my original question.”

“And you haven’t answered mine.”

“I can’t.”

“Why?” Luna prodded.

“Because you were never supposed to know. I shouldn’t be here!” He gave a tug on his chains, anger slowly rising in his voice. “None of us are supposed to be here! THIS…” he moved his hands in large circles, gesturing the world in general, “was never supposed to happen.” He pulled on his restraints again with growing yet futile tenacity.

“What do you mean?” Celestia inquired, pressing him for a straight answer.

“We didn’t want to come here.” He visibly grew more and more uncomfortable.

“So you came to my planet by accident? …How!?” Celestia added, disbelief obvious in her tone.

“I can’t tell you! Don’t you get it?!” Each of Celestia’s questions upset him further. “I. AM. NOT. SUPPOSED. TO. BE. HERE! We…” he gestured a triangle, connecting the two alicorns and himself, “…were never supposed to meet.”

He began to pace, not getting far given his restraints. He pulled on his braces with mounting frequency. Apparently explaining the situation only frightened him more. “I shouldn’t even be talking to you!” He threw his arms in the air. “With every second I exist here, I am just making it worse!” The frustration in his voice was blatant; he was clearly irritated that the two alicorns didn’t understand.

“Let us say you’re telling the truth,” Celestia humored him, “…and you arrived here solely by virtue of some freak accident. Why fight? Why run? If it was truly an innocent mistake then surely, you had nothing to fear from us.”

“I wasn’t running because I was afraid of you.” He spat, rejecting the idea as if it offended him.

“Then why do it?!” Celestia demanded, thoroughly exhausted of his mystic, evasive answers.

“I’m trying to protect you!” He answered, just as hotly.

“Protect us from what?!”

“FROM ME!!!” He shouted. He let it hang in the air for a moment. “HOW have you not picked up on this yet?! I AM NOT FROM HERE! With my every action in this universe I disrupt the natural flow of events that SHOULD have taken place, had we not arrived here. Every breath I take in this universe is a SIN against the very laws of nature. Just my presence here is a threat to this world, my world, and the entire fucking fabric of reality as we know it!” He slashed his hands through the air to emphasize his point, rattling his chains.

Celestia and Luna let his cryptic words sink in. Celestia couldn’t seem to puzzle his bizarre argument together. Luna, on the other hoof, lifted her head as her eyes widened with comprehension.

“ ‘this universe?’” she repeated to herself. She looked at the alien, who had taken the brief silence as an opportunity to once again begin futilely fighting against the chains that held him in place.

“Celestia, I think he’s saying he came from another dimension.” Luna said, quietly. “What if they found a way to jump the streams?”

“…aaaannd the blue one finally clues herself in,” he muttered to himself, not bothering to turn around.

Luna was unfazed by the remark. She turned to Celestia, who was busy waiting for Luna to explain herself. “He thinks jumping the lifestreams will cause some universe ending paradox.” She let out a dry laugh, not because she found the situation funny, but simply because she finally understood.

Celestia finally saw a trace of the alien's reason. It was a backwards philosophy, but it made sense of his behavior in sort of pseudo-rational way.

Celestia looked up at the alien, who now braced both his legs against the wall. He was pulling against the chains shackled onto his forelegs. He struggled so hard he appeared to stand on the wall, parallel to the floor.

“What are you doing?” Celestia asked, trying not to smile at the spectacle.

“Struggling,” he grunted unequivocally.

“Why?” she asked amusedly. Shane lowered himself to the ground and turned to face the sun princess.

“Lady…”

Princess.” It was Celestia’s turn to correct him.

Princess.” He rephrased through gritted teeth. “As you may or may not have noticed, I am chained to a wall. That pretty much limits my options for entertainment to struggling or counting the ceiling tiles, and I’ve already done that… there are forty two!” He turned back around walked his rear legs up the wall, pitting every muscle against the steel links. He ranted to himself again. “…could have gotten the universe of Swedish bikini models, but nooooooo, I get the land of colorful sentient horses.”

“Ponies.” Celestia corrected him again.

“Whatever!” he barked as he gave another heavy tug on the chains.

“If I release you do you promise to behave?” Celestia asked.

“I promise nothing!”

Celestia sighed as she nodded at Luna. The midnight blue princess’ horn began to glow as she traced a large rectangle in the air. When the glow of her sister’s magic died down Celestia’s horn flashed quickly, and the metal braces on the alien’s forelegs snapped open. He clutched at the air in the brief moment of weightlessness before he crashed to floor of the padded cell.

Shane groaned in pain as he rolled onto his stomach and pushed himself to his knees. He rubbed his wrists which were raw and chaffed from his constant thrashing. He reexamined the two princesses. His gaze quickly flicked to the door which the princess had “accidentally” left open. Celestia pretended not to notice. Even if he made it out the door, the two dozen guards would easily drag him back in. But that was not what Celestia had in mind. What he did now would give her a significant insight into its personality.

He smiled widely at the tall white sun goddess, then at the lunar princess.

“Well, your royal highnesses...”

“Flattery. Oooh how manipulative of you,” Celestia thought. She already had an idea of what he was playing at, and she couldn’t help but smile back and play along.

“I do hope we can put some of these unpleasantries behind us and- WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!!!” He adopted a terrified face and pointed to the upper corner of the room behind the two alicorns. They both instinctively craned their necks to see what he was pointing at. “Suckers!” he shouted as he sprinted for the open door. Celestia turned her head to see him collide, head first, into a bright white barrier that flared to life upon his contact. He fell flat onto his back in a very undignified manner.

“Muthr Fffknng sunvabch!!! Peess ov shhhht!” He clasped his face with both hands and began swearing even more loudly and incomprehensibly in obvious pain.

“Oooh yay! We found a spell that works!” Luna clopped her forehooves together in a giddy school filly fashion.

“Indeed. Quick, write that one down.” Celestia agreed. Luna pranced out of the room and returned with a scroll and quill. The feather scribbled on the floating parchment.

They returned their attention to the alien, who had stopped his pained swearing for a moment. He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling. The cut on his forehead had begun to bleed again, not as profusely as before, but a drop slowly trickled down the side of his head. The U shaped mark from where the commander had “improvised” his version of Luna’s sleep spell had turned deep purple,.

“Are you going to be alright?” Celestia asked, restraining her amusement. He worked his jaw, shut it with a sharp click and gazed at the ceiling for a moment before answering.

“My head hurts,” he deadpanned. He stared angrily at the ceiling again for another moment. “Are you going to let me leave or not?”

“No.” Celestia answered, curtly.

“Why not?! I haven’t done anything wrong!” He pushed himself to his feet and began pacing the edge of the invisible barrier, occasionally poking it with a finger in various places, testing it. Each time his finger was pushed right back by a white flash.

“If you two really are 'princesses' here, then you obviously have levels of government. The fact that you even have this room tells me that you have some sort of justice system… Or that you are really into S and M, which I doubt. You kids don’t really seem like kinky types.” He flicked his chains with a finger and they swayed with a soft clink. Celestia blushed at his implied meaning. Luna tried not to grin, amused by the off-color remark. “But I digress,” he continued. “You can’t keep me prisoner here forever.”

Luna pranced forward, a slyly smiling. “Oh come now. You aren’t a prisoner.” He looked down at Luna. “You’re more like…a trophy…or a pet.”

Shane's eyes narrowed as he stared daggers into Luna. She back stepped toward her sister. “He doesn’t have a very good sense of humor.” She pouted.

“I have a great sense of humor. I’m hilarious. That just wasn’t funny.” He defended.

“Well, Major Doran,” Celestia started, “you are correct. We do have a justice system. Unfortunately, our laws were not written with extra terrestrial creatures in mind. So, no, you are not bound by our laws. But neither are you protected by them. I can keep you here as long as I want.” She despised threats, but they were all he seemed to respond to.

He looked at Celestia. “So, what now? I sit here and wait to be dissected while you two let the universe rip itself apart?”

“I don’t think you have to worry about the universe.” Luna assured him. She was still slightly amused by his rather primitive philosophies of reality. “As for the dissection…well…we weren’t planning on one, but it is still very much an option, so I suggest you start to behave yourself!”

Celestia could barely keep her jaw from dropping at the sound of such threats coming from her baby sister’s mouth. She waited, heart pounding, for the alien’s reaction.

Celestia’s terror soon turned to wild confusion when the creature began to smile, as if Luna had just told the funniest joke he had ever heard. His smile widened revealing his front teeth. The knowledge that they were designed to tear flesh played in the back of her mind, but she put the thought aside and decided to deal with it later.

He started to chuckle devilishly. Once he managed to contain himself he pointed a finger at Luna, and looked at Celestia. “I like her.” He still wore a happy smile, with the occasional residual snicker.

Celestia had officially abandoned any attempt to find reason in the alien’s behavior. “Twilight Sparkle’s pink friend made more sense than this...thing!” she thought.

Luna smiled back at the alien, happy to have made a new friend. “You certainly are a peculiar species,” she remarked. She faced her older sister. “Do you think they were all like this? Or did we just so happen to save the strange one?”

Celestia’s heart dropped straight down into her stomach, and she shot Luna an alarmed look. Luna clasped a hoof over her mouth when she realized what she had just implied. They both turned to see if the alien picked up on Luna’s error. Celestia’s blood ran cold as she saw the look on his face.

His smile had completely evaporated. All former signs of happiness now quite absent from his grim visage; he now only looked confused, and worried.

“…What?” he asked shakily, “she said ‘save the one’.” He approached the edge of the barrier and pressed his hands against it, making it glow dimly. “Where is the rest of my team?!” He demanded, worry growing in his voice. The two alicorns exchanged uneasy glances. There was no more avoiding it now. He noticed their hesitation, his worried expression turning to a terrified anger. “WHERE ARE THEY?!” He shouted, as he pounded a fist against the barrier. Celestia was dreading this. She inhaled a deep breath.

“I’m sorry.” She started, her voice barely audible. “They didn’t make it.”

He stared back at them for a moment. “…I don’t understand.” He added, shaking his head. “didn’t make it?

“The ones you came here with,” Celestia tried to explain, “they…died in the crash. There was nothing we could do.”

“…which ones?” He tacked on desperately.

“…All of them.” Celestia had to swallow the lump in her own throat. She truly sympathized with the creature. He was rude and strange, but he had a good heart, and she hated giving good ponies bad news.

All of them?” he repeated to Celestia. She nodded sadly. She then motioned to her sister. Luna’s horn glowed softly, and she pulled out ten more silver necklaces, each adorned with two matching metal tags.

Shane looked as if he had been bucked in the gut. He was so focused on the tags he didn't notice they were floating through the air. They passed the barrier and the alien grabbed the bulk of silver chain with a shaking hand. He held out the necklaces like they were a venomous snake. He rested one hand on his forehead before brushing it through his short buzzed mane towards the back of his head. He inspected the tags as if they held a secret to some all-important riddle.

“You were the only one we could save” Celestia solemnly explained.

He leaned against the back wall of the cell. He slid down to the floor and clutched the now tangled bunch of tags in his hands. He peered off into space, gazing at some distant unseen point. His mouth worked for a moment as if he wanted to say something.

Celestia felt it would be a good time for them to make their leave, and let the creature have a measure of privacy. She motioned for Luna to move towards the door and started for it herself. Luna looked back and forth between her sister and the alien. She started to follow Celestia out. Halfway to the door, however, Luna turned toward the alien who was still sitting on the ground, clutching the metal necklaces in his hands and staring off in the distance. Celestia stopped to watch her sister.

Luna slowly made her way across the room, passing through the barrier unfazed. She stopped before the creature. He looked up at her. She could see the sorrow in his eyes, despite his otherwise stoic expression. She brushed the tip of her snout on his forehead.

“I’m sorry.” She offered. He didn’t acknowledge her gesture, but chose to return gazing at some far off point. Luna turned and strode past her sister and out the door. Celestia attempted to swallow the lump lodged in her throat.

She followed Luna out the exit, and the silver door sealed shut behind them. Celestia stepped back out into the hallway, absentmindedly following her little sister. Many new questions swam in her head, most about how to proceed now that she had a basic comprehension of the situation. She was so wrapped up in her own thoughts that she failed to notice Luna had sopped walking, and narrowly avoided bumping into Luna’s flank. She looked up and saw the commander staring at the two.

“Well?” He was doing a poor job of concealing his curiosity. “Did he talk?”

“Technically yes, he did.” She replied.

The commander was clearly discontent with the half answer. “Technically? What did he say?”

Celestia took a deep breath, trying to find the right description for the strange beast. “He was very vague. He refuses to answer any question directly. He is very clever, and exceedingly stubborn.”

“Come to think of it, you two would probably get along quite well.” Luna teased with a playful poke. The commander ignored her.

“Did you…you know… tell him?”

“Yes.” Celestia answered somberly.

“How’d he take it?”

“As well as I suppose anypony could when receiving such news.”

“Did you get anything important out of him?”

“He was quite…” Luna twirled her forehoof in a small circle, as if to try and capture the right word from thin air.

“Odd,” Celestia finished for her.

“Indeed,” Luna agreed.

The commander was unsatisfied. “Odd how? Where is he from? Why is he here? How did he get here?” He piled on the questions.

“He doesn’t seem too sure himself. He made it very clear he did not come here by choice.” Luna paused, “We think he may have jumped the lines from another universe.” Luna explained.

Another universe?” The commander repeated. “As in…a universe, other than this one?”

“Yes. That is what is traditionally meant by the word ‘another.'”

“And by accident? You don’t accidentally jump lifestreams! It’s not even possible.”

“Theoretically, it’s very possible,” Celestia explained. “It’s just…nopony has been able to devise a spell able to do it. Logic dictates it can be done,” Celestia looked back at the steel door, “apparently they found a way.”

~~~~~

Rarity trotted up the castle steps, admiring how the setting sun accented her new outfit. Her new crystal pumps glittered in the fading sunlight, and dusky orange rays played upon her red satin dress. She was quite satisfied with herself. She had been in Canterlot for almost five days and she had yet to even step hoof outside the castle walls.

“Ah don’ see why I even needed a new outfit.” Applejack complained, staring distastefully at the shopping bags that Rarity had saddled on her.

“Because, darling, you are an honored guest of the royal family, and seeing as we may be staying for some time, I expect you to start dressing like you belong here.”

“Why did I have to come?” Rainbow Dash whined, hovering above the group.

“Because you are just as bad as she is,” Rarity pointed a hoof at Applejack, “…maybe worse. I mean really, Rainbow Dash, you would have such a lovely mane if you would just brush it every now and then.”

“Hurry, Rarity. The princess is probably done...” Twilight looked around nervously, before continuing in a hushed voice, “...meeting our friend.” Twilight’s pace quickened.

Getting AJ and Rainbow Dash looking half civilized was the stated objective of the shopping spree, but Rarity also used it as an excuse to force Twilight out from the dark of the Library and into some sunshine.

“Our friend is locked in a cell, darling. He isn’t going anywhere,” Rarity assured. Twilight spent the majority of the errand checking the time and fretting about returning to the castle. Rarity did her best to help the poor dear relax a bit, but admittedly she had her hooves full reining in Rainbow Dash while forcing Applejack into a dress.

“How are you so calm about all this?” Twilight demanded.

Rarity looked back at Twilight with a sad smile.

“Darling, I’m more worried than I have ever been in my entire life.”

“I’m not.” Rainbow interrupted, boastfully.

Rarity shot her a disapproving glare before trotting over to Twilight, and continuing, “but I learned a long time ago that fretting over something you can not control does nothing but aggravate your frustration. Besides, a lady must always keep her composure, even during the most trying ordeal.” Rarity gave a shake of her styled mane to emphasize her point.

Twilight smiled at Rarity’s exuberance. To any other pony, her behavior could often be misconstrued as conceited or snobbish. But any of her friends would testify that there was nothing further from the truth. One would have difficulty finding a more giving or charitable soul in all of Equestria. Twilight knew that Rarity was only trying to help her unwind the best way the fashionista could.

Twilight tried to relax, but there was simply too much to do besides wasting time shopping. She was relieved when the group finally elected to return to the castle. The sun had begun to set, and soon Luna would raise the moon to bring forth the night. Twilight was eager to get back to her place by Princess Celestia’s side, and she was also anxious to see if Fluttershy had received any updates. The shy yellow pegasus chose to remain at the castle while the rest of the girls went shopping, much to Rarity’s disdain. None were really surprised; Fluttershy was hardly the “hit the town” type, not to mention her reluctance to reappear on the fashion scene after her rather unsavory days as a model.

They had tried to invite Pinkie Pie, but her behavior lately had become strange, even by her standards. She appeared only sporadically; apparently she had been spending most of her time in the castle kitchens, doing Celestia-knows-what.

Twilight doubled her pace, vaguely aware of Rainbow Dash arguing with Applejack about who would win a race back to the palace grounds. This inevitably led to an argument about whether or not wings were fair use. Twilight rolled her eyes and mentally blocked out the debate, trotting ahead to catch up with Rarity. The castle was growing closer with each step.

~~~~~

“What now?” Aegis inquired of to the two princesses who still clearly contemplated their conversation with the alien. Both were distant, lost in their own thoughts. He couldn't blame them; he imagined something of this magnitude had never occurred before, even during the two alicorns’ seemingly infinite reign.

Luna looked out a window high up in the wall of the stone hallway. Dusky scarlet light poured through in a soft beam of evening illumination.

“I’m afraid I must take my leave for the moment,” she stated, disappointed. “Night is approaching and the moon isn’t going to raise itself.”

Celestia nodded. “Go ahead, I’m going to try and find the girls. They’re probably eager for some answers. I’ll meet you back here when you’re finished.”

Luna nodded back, satisfied with the plan. She turned with a flick of her long blue tail and began to trot down the hallway toward the exit. Each guard lowered his head as the princess of the night passed.

Aegis watched Luna slowly disappear around a corner. Celestia spoke to him. “Commander.”

“Ma’am?” He answered, eager for any order.

“I am going to visit with Twilight Sparkle and the other Elements of Harmony. It’s probably a little late for this, but I’d still like to try and keep this as quiet as possible. Have you heard any word about how the public are reacting to that little display earlier?”

“If by ‘display’, you mean an extra terrestrial rampaging through the castle courtyards… then yes. Such a thing is rather hard to miss. Luckily for us, most of that area was used by medical staff, and since you had the hospital wing locked down, very few civilians saw it. So far the most popular rumor seems to be that a strange new pet of Luna’s escaped the castle before it was cornered by her guards.” He let out a dry laugh.

Celestia sighed in relief. “At least they aren’t panicking in the streets.”

Yet,” he cautioned, “you know this is going to get out eventually.”

“Yes,” she continued somberly, “however, until that time arrives, try and keep things relatively low-key. I must meet with the Elements of Harmony. I leave the situation in your capable hooves, Commander.”

“What am I supposed to do with him?” He gestured toward the cell door.

“Try and see to it that he’s comfortable. He’s had a rough day too,” she said with a hint of gloomy humor.

“So… what, we’re friends with this thing now?” He asked, irritated.

“He is not our enemy, Commander. Of that much I am certain. However, as unfortunate as it may be, I am afraid I must keep him contained for the time being. He is not our prisoner. But he will stay here, until I deem otherwise.”

“Highness.” He bowed his head in compliance.

With that Celestia turned and started down the hallway, toward the exit. She stepped outside to see the last rays of sun sinking below the horizon, elongating the shadows that danced along the ground.

Luna would soon raise the moon. Celestia wished she could be there to witness her sister bring forth the night; although Celestia had seen it countless times, Luna conjured a breathtaking show. No matter how skillfully Celestia raised the moon during Luna's imprisonment, she could never replicate the subtle perfection that Luna fashioned from the moon and stars. Luna always made the night sky shimmer and sparkle in a way no one else could copy. Celestia was infinitely proud of her day, but she equally admired Luna’s night.

Conversely, her younger sister never could handle the sun. She could raise it easily enough, at first, but she could never get the arc right. It would always move halfway across the sky before steering off course. Luna would become exceedingly frustrated, and therefore quite adorable. They soon both learned to keep their day jobs, as it were. Which, Celestia felt, was as it should be.

She quickly prepared to teleport to the lounge where the girls spent most of their time. If she wasn't in a hurry she would have preferred to walk. Teleportation was not a spell she particularly enjoyed casting. It was tiresome and required an enormous amount of concentration. Celestia could only think of a few unicorns that had the power necessary to attempt it, and even fewer who had mastered it completely. Her horn began to glow brighter and brighter until, in a flash of light, the sun princess disappeared completely.

She reappeared with a sonic pop in the dark lounge. Her eyes took a moment to adjust. At first she thought the room was empty. She scanned the dark corners and her eyes eventually spied a long, luxurious pink tail. She followed the soft pink strands to find it was attached to the rear of Twilight Sparkle’s friend Fluttershy. “The element of kindness,” Celestia reminded herself. The upper half of the yellow pegasus, however, was obscured by a large plush red cushion she dove under for cover. The poor thing was shaking like a leaf. Celestia forgot how easily this one scared, and she felt awful for having frightened the little pegasus, but some part of her couldn’t help but be amused by Fluttershy’s rather adorable attempt at hiding.

A wicked thought crept, unbidden, into Celestia’s head. She grinned devilishly. She simply couldn’t resist the opportunity. She crawled toward the opposite side of the cushion as stealthily as possible. She lowered herself to the ground and snaked her head under the cushion. She soon beheld the sight of a terrified Fluttershy, her own butter yellow hooves wrapped around her head, eyes shut tight. Celestia held as still as possible for what seemed like ages, waiting for the pegasus to open her eyes. And soon the one aqua blue eye, which was not obscured by a lock of pink hair, slowly peeked open.

“Boo.” Celestia whispered.

“EEEEEEP!”

The small mare shot back in terror. She fled towards the door but she stopped when she heard the demure chuckling of princess Celestia. “…P…Princess?” She began, confused and out of breath.

“Oh, forgive me, my little pony. I just couldn’t resist,” Celestia answered, still laughing.

“Oh…um…It’s ok, Princess. I just wasn’t really expecting anyone; I mean at least not until...Rarity came back with the others.”

Celestia didn’t understand anything after ‘expecting’ but she was fairly certain she caught the name Rarity.

“And where, exactly are Rarity and the others?”

“They, um, went shopping. They should be back any moment though.”

“At least some ponies are enjoying themselves,” she thought. She considered sending out a few guards to collected them, but she decided it would be better to simply wait. She sat at a nearby table and motioned for Fluttershy to join her. She heated a small pot of tea with a quick spell. She poured both herself and Fluttershy a cup.

“Um….Princess? If you don’t mind me asking. Is everything alright?”

Celestia smiled at the shy young mare. “Well, I would say that everything is as alright as it can be, given the circumstances.”

Fluttershy smiled back. “Oh…good. I think.”

Right at that moment the door to the lounge pushed open and several familiar voices could be heard squabbling about something.

“I don’t see why using what I was born with is unfair. They’re my wings, and I think I should be allowed to use them!”

“Just cuz you were born with wings don’t mean you get ta use em’ to an unfair advantage.”

“How is it unfair?! Your legs are stronger than mine, So would it be fair if I said you had to wear saddlebags full of sand?”

“No! That’s the point of a race. Tah see who is more physically capable of reachin’ the finish line first. Without any unfair advantages, like extra limbs.”

“Well without my wings, YOU have the unfair advantage.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash continued their argument, oblivious to the princess' presence. They entered the room and began setting the shopping bags down from their shoulders. Twilight and Rarity soon followed through the door. Twilight immediately lit up with excitement and concern when she noticed Celestia.

“Princess!” Twilight dumped her own shopping bags and trotted up to the table before remembering her manners and slipping into a quick bow. AJ and Rainbow Dash had ceased their bickering and hurriedly scrambled to bow as well.

As per usual, they fired off questions at an incomprehensible speed. Celestia patiently waited for a moment, but when they showed no sign of slowing she held up a hoof. A second later they all had piped down. Celestia began to slowly explain the situation.

“Yes, I did speak with him,” she started, “and for the most part he refused to answer any questions directly. I’m not entirely sure why he is being so circuitous, but he seems very adamant about sharing as little information with us as necessary. We have our own speculation as to why, but without his confirmation we can not be certain. We did learn one thing, however. It may be our greatest insight into his behavior. He is not an extra terrestrial. He did not, in fact come from another planet.” She let the revelation sink in.

“So, wait. Where is he from? He certainly isn’t from Equestia,” Rarity queried.

“No.” Celestia confirmed, “He is not from this planet. Nor is he from any other planet in this universe. Apparently he is from another universal stream entirely.”

“So howd’ he end up here?” AJ inquired.

“You don’t mean… lifestreams?” Twilight asked in a whisper.

Celestia smiled. There was a reason she had chosen to personally tutor Twilight. Her ability to grasp amazingly complicated concepts never ceased to amaze the sun princess. “Very good, Twilight Sparkle.” The small purple mare blushed. “Yes. We believe that he somehow skipped his from own and landed in ours.”

“But, Princess. I thought that was impossible. I mean, weren’t all attempts transit a stream abandoned thousands of years ago?”

“Alright. I’m sorry, but does anypony want to PLEASE talk normal?” Rainbow Dash whined. The other girls agreed with her. Twilight and the Princess may as well have been speaking another language.

“I’m sorry, girls. Twilight? Would you like to explain?” Celestia offered.

Twilight nodded, eager to share her frightening knowledge of every aspect of everything ever anything-ed by anypony anywhere.

She began with a brief history of ponies first discovering magic, and how unicorn ponies seemed to be the most adept at channeling it’s power. “…eventually a very powerful unicorn by the name of Arcturus was experimenting with some very potent teleportation magic. Until he discovered it, teleportation was barely more than an unexplored hypothesis. He theorized that one would be able to cast a spell that would allow near instantaneous travel from one point to another. As it turns out, he was right. He was the first unicorn to successfully cast the teleportation spell. It was a rather crude version of what we practice today, but it proved his theory was sound, nonetheless.”

Rainbow Dash’s eyes had already begun to droop. She wasn’t interested in a history lesson. Applejack was at least trying to be polite about her boredom. She kept an interested face, but her eyes had glazed over, and she became lost in her own daydreams. But Twilight continued, unfazed.

“…As he became more and more proficient at these teleportation spells, he noticed that as the distance increased, the inherent accuracy of the spell decreased. Several unicorns began to injure themselves when they attempted the spell, often because they failed to estimate for the change in elevation from point A to point B. They would accidentally appear at their destination, ten feet off the ground, or worse…under it.

Rarity shuddered at the thought of being surrounded by filthy dirt.

“…so Arcturus attempted to set a magical waypoint to the desired destination, so that the need for rough guesstimates about relative changes in geography would be much easier to factor.” Twilight had to stop and take in another deep breath before continuing. “While he was unable to make his magical map, he discovered something else entirely. His spell revealed what he described as ‘the golden threads of the world.' Apparently he had inadvertently revealed the lines of the universe, the very foundation of the cosmos. He called these lines, ‘lifestreams.' These lines all combine to form what was to come to known as the ‘Empyrean Web,' or the lines of the universe.” Twilight's tone became more excited. “I have only ever seen them once, myself. So it’s rather difficult to describe, but imagine golden lines everywhere. They are completely invisible and intangible, normally. They can only be seen using the same spell he created thousands of years ago. They pass through solid objects unfazed, like a beam of light would pass through glass.” Twilight began to demonstrate by pointing all over the room with her hooves and connecting invisible threads to opposite sides of the lounge, looking about as if she could see them all before her. “But that wasn’t the only thing he discovered.”

Of course it’s not.” Rainbow Dash plopped herself down on the ground, pulling at her eyelids with her cyan hooves in misery.

Twilight shot her a venomous glance, and continued. “As he fine-tuned his spell he found that some lines faded, and some new ones appeared. Eventually he plotted all these lines and found that throughout the range of his spell, only one remained constant. He believed this to be our line, the line that represented our universe. This in no small way created a lot of controversy, as it implied that each other line represented a different universe. Nopony really wanted to believe that realities other than this one existed, and the theory was roundly dismissed by most scholars and magicians. But as time went on, evidence began to pile in his favor. And thus began the frantic attempt to 'jump' into another universe. Needless to say, Nopony had ever been able to accomplish the feat. Not even Arcturus himself. After such mass speculation and disappointment, the lifestreams faded in the minds of pony kind to little more than a natural curiosity.”

“What the princess is suggesting,” she paused for dramatic effect, “is that that thing’s species must have somehow found a way to detach themselves from their stream, and somehow ‘jump’ to ours.”

“I didn’t think it was physically possible,” Rainbow began.

“I know that’s why it’s so excit-“

“No.” She interrupted. “I meant I didn’t think it was possible for me to be MORE confused then I was twenty minutes ago. But you did it. Amazing.” The colorful pegasus massaged her head with her front hooves.

“Ah hate ta agree with Dash, but I still don’t see how any of this explains why he’s here, or why he’s been so desperate ta…well… ‘leave’.”

Celestia finally spoke up. “From what we gleaned from his incoherent ranting, we think that he believes his presence here is going to cause an apocalyptic tear in the fabric of reality. He seems to think that his arrival and continued interference in our universe will disrupt our timeline or something of that sort. We never really expected a genus as advanced as his to have such an outdated notion of time, but it does make some sense of his rather...desperate...actions thus far.”

“Yeah? Well I still don’t trust him.” Rainbow declared hotly. “In fact, I say we aughta’ let that big dummy sit there in that dungeon for a few more days and think about all the damage he’s done. I might even go teach his sorry flank a lesson.”

Celestia turned and caught the polychromatic pegasus in a brutal stare. “Miss Dash,” Celestia stated in a tone eerily reminiscent of a mother scolding a young foal, “do you know why he attempted to take his own life?” The room was dangerously quiet. Dash didn’t answer but cringed under Celestia gaze. “He did it because he was afraid of damaging this world. That alien, who has no stake in this dimension, was willing to die to keep you safe. That is more than I can even say for most of my own subjects. You would do well to remember that.”

“...Sorry princess,” Rainbow Dash apologized quietly.

Celestia relented. “It’s alright. I understand your anger. You are merely concerned for the safety of your friends. But please refrain from letting such narrow vision shape your attitudes in the future.”

The room was quiet for a moment because none were ready to speak. Soft moonlight spilled through the few windows. Luna would return to the cell momentarily, if she hadn't arrived already.

“Excuse me girls, I must return to the dungeons. Luna and I are going to try and speak to it again.”

“Can we come this time princess?!” Twilight brought the full force of her puppy dog face to bare. “Pleeeeaaaassee?”

Celestia saw that each of the six mares were looking up at her imploringly. She felt her heartstrings tug, but she was immune to such tactics after having her baby sister try them for centuries.

“I’m sorry girls. Not tonight. Perhaps tomorrow. Now is not a good time.”

“But whyyyy? You said yourself that he didn’t mean any harm.” Twilight protested.

Celestia sighed. “Yes, I did. And I believe that. But…I’m afraid our new friend may not be ready for introductions right now.” She paused for a moment. “You see, he has just learned that he is the sole surviving member of his species. And I do not believe he will feel much like talking.”

The mood chilled. A dull pop cold be heard from the other side of the large oak doors that led to the lounge. A split second later, they were thrown open with a surprising amount of force.

There in the doorway, stood Luna, breathing heavily.

“Celestia!”

“Luna? What going on? Are you alright?” Celestia shot to her hooves, alarmed at her sister’s state and apparent alarm.

Luna stopped and caught her breath.

“We have a problem!”