• Published 10th Jan 2024
  • 2,510 Views, 108 Comments

From the Stars - samble



Twilight finds a record that surpasses equine understanding.

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2
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Gift From the Stars

Twilight peered through the lens of her telescope and sighed.

It was late at night, and Ponyville had gone dark and quiet several hours ago. The air was filled with only the chirps of crickets and the hoot of owls, including her own pet, who stood on the rail of her library balcony. Spike had fallen asleep perhaps half an hour ago, leaving Twilight alone.

She'd been trying to track the positions of stars using an older book from Ponyville's library, one made decades ago now. While Twilight knew it was outdated, sometimes these texts could present new information, and she had planned to use the book to study the previous positions to try and map the changes over the years.

She hadn't accounted for the fact that Princess Luna's return meant that the stars weren't just a bit moved from their previous places now, but now placed in differing parts on the sky entirely based on the whim of the Princess of the Night.

It was ultimately a lost cause, and she had wasted her time, but hadn't yet decided to head back inside. The tranquility of the hour and the lack of lights below meant that, while Twilight's original plans of documenting minor changes had been dashed, the sky itself was now much brighter without the pollution from below, bringing dimmer, more distant stars into view that only a pegasus' keen eyesight may have been able to see without aid before.

Twilight ruffled her wings at the thought. She hadn't gotten used to having those yet, for the most part still relying on her hooves as to not be seen flapping around town like a yearling filly.

She pulled away from the scope and spun it on its axis, covering the larger end with its cap. If her read was right, it was around two in the morning, and she would need to go to bed as to be up in time to open the library in the morning. Perhaps she would send a letter to Luna tomorrow to ask for an updated star chart, and for a calendar of the positions she planned on moving them to.

Owlicious' hoot was the only warning Twilight received before a large object flew across the sky.

Twilight's heart skipped a beat, and she ran closer to the balcony, thinking at first it was a pegasus falling from the sky at impossibly high speeds. But then she realized this was much too large, larger than even the elder princesses, and not at all pony-shaped.

She dumbly gawked at it for a few moments before quickly removing the end from her scope, trying to track the object's descent before it hit the ground. Perhaps it was some sort of furniture? A small bit of meteor? Those made sense, but the thing she saw didn't.

Her vision, clearer than it was just a month ago, could see through the telescope for a split second that it was some sort of giant metal contraption with legs and a dish on one end, reminding her a bit of a stage's spotlight. The speed at which it was hurtling towards Equis at meant she only had a few precious moments to try and track it before there was a distant bang, and the thing vanished from the skyline.

Twilight pulled away, a cold sweat forming on her skin, making the previously pleasantly cool night air now feel like ice as her heart hammered in her chest. Whatever that thing was, by her best guess, it had to be nearby — no further than the border of the Everfree. But what was it? She tried to picture the thing in her mind, using an unused scrap of paper to try and quickly draw an approximation of the object.

Something metal, with a big white dome on one end, and a needle sticking from it. Several thin 'legs', and more metal sticking out of one side in a clump. Maybe the length of three ponies, and certainly not anything she could recognize as ponymade. Even with studying the drawing she made, she couldn't guess a purpose. What in Equestria was it? And where had it come from?

Twilight looked around town. It was quiet again. Nopony had thrown their windows open in a panic, ponies weren't running outside to see what the noise was, there was nothing else in the sky. Perhaps they had all gotten so used to disasters happening that a boom just wasn't enough to rouse anypony, but Twilight supposed the lack of Ponyvillians screaming and running around in circles was a good thing.

Twilight took a deep breath, stilling her wild speculations. She knew just by looking at it that it was an object and not a creature, so there was no need to worry about it getting up and moving away from where it fell. It being a thing and not the typical villain of the week was also a positive, as machines had no evil intent.

She flared her wings, contemplating whether a blind teleport or her awkward attempts at flying might be better. She decided on the latter quickly, not wanting to risk accidentally materializing inside whatever the metal machine was and getting trapped, especially when she didn't know its purpose or composition. Though she was uncoordinated, at least her magic and alicornhood meant any dangerous falls wouldn't end up disastrous, as she'd already discovered through Rainbow Dash. A previous near-miss led to an instinctive and automatic teleport back to earth when she'd moved against the wind and lost proper positioning, as well as a lecture.

She used the balcony to glide towards where she thought the thing may have landed, the breeze in her favor. She'd have to thank Rainbow tomorrow for asking the weather team to be easier on the wind speed. The lack of air traffic and having nopony around to gawk at their newest princess' pitiful attempts to fly made the trip that much quicker and less stressful than it already was, to which she was thankful. Perhaps Twilight would stay out late more often.

Twilight landed a few minutes later near the edge of the Everfree, managing to get there with only a hiccup or two. While she couldn't see the object, she could sense it with her new Earth pony abilities, the ground disturbed due west of the treeline. She could smell it, too. Something had been burning.

That quickened her pace, now on hoof. If whatever that thing was had caught the Evergreen floura on fire, it could easily spread to any pony settlements nearby, or to Zecora's hut.

Twilight burst through a grove of smaller trees and branches, eyes finally fixing on the object.

It was in the middle of a small field, though part of the machine had been smashed upon impact with the earth. Her estimates on its size and general shape were correct, though, up closer, Twilight could now see more precise details. The end wasn't a needle, but a fixed point, like a hollow cone. The "dish" faced outwards like a saucer turned upside town.

And, on the un-mashed end, was something truly eye-catching — a perfectly intact golden disc that was a near identical representation of an Equestrian record.

Twilight's eyes went wide. The disc was covered in strange symbols and markings, none she could make heads or tails of. Lines, circles, and diagrams were scrawled across the front in a clearly deliberate manner, and she didn't need to be a scholar to know that this wasn't a result of debris marring the surface. It was the only part of the object that seemed to be entirely in one piece. What parts weren't crushed into bits smelled almost burnt, or like they'd started to melt from the heat of entry into the atmosphere.

Twilight stared at the record. While she could try and teleport the whole of the object home, she couldn't easily fit something of this size in the library, and especially not without waking up Spike. It's crushed state meant that it might also disintegrate upon reforming, destroying any and all proof of its existence.

It didn't seem to be ponymade, or made by any Equissian species, in fact. The materials, the insides she could see that hadn't been destroyed, the odd construction, none of it was anything she recognized from any time period she had ever studied.

Excitement filled her, but she forced a slow breath to calm her nerves. If this thing — from outer space, from the past, whichever — she didn't want to further ruin what was left by rash action. Twilight's lavender magic gently encapsulated the disc, finding it attached only by prongs. She moved these as gently as she could, her aura's touch enough to sense that the pieces were delicate — almost snapping off at the lightest possible touch. Perhaps this object was old, it had to be to be in such shape. Metal wouldn't wear that quickly, unless it was extremely cheap, and holding something covered in gold certainly didn't scream "made poorly and from low quality materials" to her.

It almost felt like desecrating a corpse, or maybe a tomb, and Twilight sincerely hoped that the object's creators had intended for the disc to be removed.

She pulled the golden disc closer, quickly realizing that the markings were on a cover, not the item itself. Gently removing the sleeve revealed a disc that seemed suited for a large record player like the type Pinkie used at her parties, and a magical scan revealed that the gold was just a coating — it was copper inside.

Pony records were usually made using vinyl, but those made of silver and other materials weren't impossible. The player she scarcely used in the basement should be able to read it fine, and if not, a magical solution might be able to be found.

Barely resisting the urge to dance in place, or maybe hyperventilate, Twilight teleported herself and the record back to her library, not yet knowing that her precious cargo would be the start of a very, very long distance friendship.

Author's Note:

And now, a thing I've had in drafts for awhile that I'm not really satisfied with, but will publish anyways. I am reeeally into space, SETI, etc, and the idea that one day aliens could find our probes (as well as the information we left on them) and understand is fascinating to me, though both Voyagers (which house copies of it) won't pass by another star for 40,000 more years. We won't be around then, but the records will leave a mark of humanity on the universe at large, and show the best of our kind.

This will be multi-chapter, so this isn't "the end". Please leave (constructive) criticism if something seems off — I've rewritten this premise over and over and never fully like what I write (in this fic).