• Published 13th Jan 2012
  • 34,540 Views, 2,187 Comments

Machine And Might - Kriegor



A massive contraption obscures the Equestrian sky. "USS Vector" is engraved on its sides.

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Chapter Two: Wake

Chapter Two: Wake

::> Entry #26

---------------

A book flew out of Twilight's room, clattering down the stairs to join a massive pile of similarly discarded books that lay in piles scattered around the floor. The only sounds that came from within the eerily quiet library was the shuffling of pages and the frustrated groans of the lavender unicorn that inhabited the place.

Another book flew out of Twilight’s room, this time tossed out the window to join another pile of books just outside the library. Inside, the lavender mare was lying on her bed, flipping through another book before throwing it away and grunting angrily. She had gone through everything, from legends to cooking, but not a single one, book or scroll, mentioned anything about the ‘USS Vector’. Even then, her assumptions were correct, since a few books mentioned a mathematical concept with the same name.

Twilight let out a loud groan as her head sunk into her pillow. She had not managed to get any sleep at all, as she was instead focusing on her search for answers. “This ‘Vector’ could be a danger to Equestria,” she told to herself. “It could require the use of the Elements of Harmony, and if it destroyed Equestria, it’s going to be my fault!”

The lavender mare was deep into her session of thought when her purple, draconic assistant walked into the room, holding a plate with a daisy sandwich on it. He made his way through the heaps of books and placed the plate on the bed next to Twilight, who still had her head stuck in the pillow.

“Twilight...” Spike poked her. “Twilight, you have to eat something. You’ve been up for hours. Besides, everypony’s been told to go to the Town Hall. They said it was something really important.”

The unicorn lifted her head and levitated the sandwich, taking a bite out of it. “Fine... But if the world ends because of me...”

“I-I’m sure it won’t, Twilight...” Spike shakily rubbed his claws and walked out of the room, Twilight levitating the sandwich along with her as she followed him. He muttered under his breath, “At least... I don’t think it’ll be your fault...”

They made their way through the field of books, and emerged outside through the front door. The Vector was eclipsing the sun, casting the town into darkness and taking away some of the happy and optimistic essence that it normally possesed. Twilight and Spike walked through the empty streets, noticing that many of the windows and even some doors had been barred with planks. The food stands that usually decorated the streets taken away, leaving nothing aside from the dust settling in the street.

Twilight looked up at this so called Vector, causing her to gulp as chills ran down her back; even after all this time, it had not moved a single inch.

They both made their way into the town’s center, where almost all of Ponyville’s inhabitants had gathered. The podium had been set up right in front of the Town Hall, but it was vacant. Twilight merged into the crowd, with Spike on her back as they pushed past other ponies in order to get as close to the building as possible. Only a few minutes passed before Mayor Mare approached the podium and cleared her throat, making everypony stand attentively as the cacophony of worried voices died out

“My dear and beloved friends, residents of Ponyville. I am here to tell you that I've received a letter from Princess Celestia.” The crowd was swept by a wave of whispers as the Mayor opened said letter.

She cleared her throat. “Dear citizens of Equestria, my little ponies. I am more than ashamed to announce that despite our negotiations, the Kingdom of Gryphos has declared war on us...”

Sharp gasps broke the silence that had built up, but the mayor only took a deep breath to regain her composure and continued, this time louder.

They have taken a population of pegasus ponies captive. These ponies emigrated to their lands for the sole purpose of making a home for themselves there, and have now been enslaved. It is likely that they have already begun building their armies, and we must keep pace. They are no strangers to conflict, and as such, I would imagine that it will not be long before they begin advancing."

We ponies on the other hoof, are, and have always been, a very peaceful species; a conflict such as this happening more than a thousand years ago. However, due to these recent events, our time of peace is coming to an end. The griffins may interpret our desire to avoid fighting as weakness, but we will show them otherwise. For the sake of everything we hold dear, we will need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable battles to come. There will be a recruitment center open in every city, town, and settlement, and the ponies chosen to form the new army of Equestria are asked to report to the nearest center to receive their instructions and training. Additionally, everypony who desires to willingly enlist and fight in the defense of our nation may simply walk into the recruitment center alongside those who have already been called upon.

In the bigger cities such as Canterlot, Manehattan, Fillydelphia, Hoofington, Cloudsdale, Stalliongrad and Trottingham, those who are called to service will receive a letter instead of being addressed directly.

This will be a time of great suffering, I understand that, and I am very sorry. But the suffering will only continue for as long as we allow it to. We will rise against them. We will rise up and show them that we are not the inferior race they believe us to be. To this end, we must fight! We must fight for ourselves, our families, our foals, and for the ponies residing within Gryphos. We must fight so that those we love may see the tomorrow.” The mayor took a deep breath and adjusted her glasses.

And addressing the issue about this ‘USS Vector’, which is currently floating above in the Equestrian sky. All I can say is that nothing like it has been known to exist before. We have done all the research we could, but to no avail. There is no mention of such a thing in our records. Yet I promise you, both my sister and I will make sure that it will not cause any harm. Whatever is its purpose, it will have to go through us before anything else.

Mayor Mare sighed and stepped down from the podium, a Royal Guard taking the spotlight soon after.

“Citizens,” he called, his voice gruff and loud, “the Recruitment Center will be held inside the Town Hall. We will now begin calling the names of those who have been chosen to form the New Equestrian Army.” The guard took a scroll out of his saddlebag, unrolled it, and began reading aloud. “Berry Punch, Caramel Apple, Carrot Cake, Bon-Bon...”

As they were called, the ponies walked into the Town Hall; some of them were hesitant, and others refused to accept the fact that they would soon have to leave their loved ones behind.

Carrot Cake stood in front of the guard, giving him a pleading look. “Please sir! I-I have two foals! I can’t leave them!”

The guard shook his head, “I’m sorry sir, but there is nothing I can do. Now please, go into the hall.” Carrot Cake opened his mouth to say something, but quickly frowned and walked into the building, defeated.

Twilight had reunited with her friends after Mayor Mare finished redacting the letter. The six mares and Spike watched silently as the ponies formed a line and walked into the Town Hall.

“Do you think they’ll pick any of us...?” Rainbow Dash broke the silence, and turned to face the other ponies.

“I... I really hope they don’t.” said Rarity.

The mares continued to look at the guard while he continued reading the list, “Carrot Top, Applejack, ...”

Applejack’s eyes widened, and her friends moved closer to her with worried expressions, but froze as the list continued.

“...Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and lastly, Fluttershy.” With that, the guard placed the scroll back into his saddlebag, and kept observing the crowd of ponies that had significantly diminished in numbers. Most of the stallions and mares that had not been called into service started walking back to their homes. The few that remained were deep in thought, some looked at the ground, others at the sky, and some others appeared to be completely zoned out. After a few moments, half of them slowly began walking towards the Town Hall, while a couple of them shook their heads and joined the others in returning to their homes. Among the ponies who had decided to enlist, was Big Macintosh.

Applejack noticed that her brother had just finished talking to the guard, and was starting to head into the Town Hall. She frowned, and ran towards him. She drifted to a stop between her brother and the building, giving him a burning glare.

“Jus’ what do ya’ think yer doin’? Ya’ gonna enlist!? What ‘bout the farm? A-And Apple Bloom? I was called, and if you enlist there won’t be no pony to take care o’ the farm and our lil’ sister!”

The soft-spoken stallion looked down at his sister, and slowly scowled. “Sis’, I’m not expectin’ ya’ll to understand, but ah have to do this. Why? ‘Cause then there’ll be one more stallion between them Gryphons and our lil’ sister. One more stallion between ‘em and Ponyville. It is the best ah can do for our town, our farm, and our sister. The folk that'll stay here durin’ all o’ this will take care o’ the fillies and colts, and the military itself will take care of the farm to help supply the troops. The way ah see it, each of us has to sacrifice or do somethin’, because in the end, it’ll pay off. It's what ah gotta do.”

Applejack averted her eyes from her brother. Somewhere deep inside, she knew he was right. Her life had been simple: she had grown up on a farm, she lived there, she worked there, she got her food from there. During the cowmare's peaceful life, war had been nothing more than an old mare’s tale, and now it was here, and it was calling for her. She would have to leave everything behind; her life, her family, but she had to, because it was the best thing she could do for them... Wasn't it?

“AJ...?” The orange mare turned to her right. Twilight and the rest of her friends were standing next to her.

“Girls... This jus’... I'm havin' trouble letting this sink in... “

“I know... I mean, we knew the Gryphons didn’t really like us... I was just hoping the Princess could have kept them away...” Twilight bit her lip, and looked at the Town Hall.

Rarity shook her head, “But why us? I cannot go to war! It involves getting dirty! And... And... I’m not a fighter... None of us are! Perhaps Rainbow or Applejack, but hardly anypony in all of Equestria is fit for this!”

The guard, who had been listening in, approached the group. “It’s nothing like that," he said. "Soldiers are made, not born. Now please, go into the Recruitment Center.”

The six mares shared concerned looks, and slowly trotted into the building.

--------------------------

“What do you mean by that?” the Admiral asked, rubbing his head with one hand. He found himself standing next to one of the many workers in the command bridge not long after having woken up. His most recent memory was of the hyperspace jump, then all he could remember was falling limply onto the metallic floor of the Vector, before waking up with a painful headache. He looked at the viewscreens surrounding the chamber, which displayed a blue sky and large expanses of land covered by vegetative life.

It was obvious to him: something had gone wrong.

“I’m not sure, sir,” the technician replied, busily typing into his console while shooting worried glances at the Admiral. “Unless our sensors are malfunctioning, the sun is orbiting this planet.”

Becker slowly turned to the man. “How many G’s?”

“Standard one, sir.” The man typed into the console, bringing up measurements of the composition of the planet’s atmosphere. “More than enough oxygen to support compatible lifeforms, and the humidity indicates the presence of water.”

“So it’s Earth-like...” Admiral Becker stepped away from the console, looking at the main viewscreen and sighing, “Can you raise high-command?”

“... Negative, sir.”

--------------------------

Atlas opened his eyes, and his senses were instantly overwhelmed by a massive headache. After recalling the events from before, he opened the hatch of the tube and climbed out of it. He looked around the chamber and noticed that the trooper in charge of the launch chamber was lying face-first on the floor. He knelt down next to him and shook the man’s shoulder, “Hey, you okay...?” he asked. The trooper groaned in response, and Atlas shook him again.

A few moments later, the trooper began to wake up. “Ugh...” he said, standing up and holding his head. “Sir...” he groaned, “What... what happened? My head’s killing me.”

“I think we passed out during the hyperspace jump.” Atlas checked his suit’s display, “It’s been about fourteen hours.” The soldier responded with a disgruntled groan.

Atlas peeked out of the chamber; several soldiers were lying on the floor, unconscious. A few had already woken up, and had set upon the task of getting the others up. He walked into the main hallway, which was soon filled with groans and moans made by the soldiers who had started waking up. Fortunately, none of them seemed to have been hurt during the jump, everyone just had a really bad headache. While he was walking, Atlas noticed a group of soldiers staring through a window, and quickly being joined by more and more soldiers. He calmly walked over to the group, and took a look outside. He squinted at first, the light making his head throb, but soon, his eyes adapted to the brightness.

The Vector was floating dangerously close to the surface of a planet. It was filled with vegetation; every inch of the surface that wasn’t covered in green pastures and hills was instead a forest that extended as far as the naked eye could see. Mountains adorned the majority of the surrounding areas, and in the distance there was a massive cluster of clouds. These clouds had a rainbow waterfall going down from them. “You know...” Atlas thought, “the more I look at it, the weirder it gets.

The trees that covered the land seemed to be mostly pine trees. It would have been a completely normal sight, if only pine trees had not gone extinct about five hundred years ago. Looking back at the clouds, Atlas could see that they had some buildings on them, which seemed to be made of clouds as well, completely slapping physics in the face. Other than that, this was clearly not the barren planet that ‘Zeta-Twenty’ was orbiting.

One of the soldiers shook his head. “You know what? We’re delirious because of the headaches. How about we don’t give a damn?”

The rest of the group, including Atlas, nodded in response. A few of them responded with “Let’s go with that.”, “Yeah, why not.”, and so on.

Atlas sighed, and decided to make his way back to the command bridge. While walking through the long hallways of the Vector, he noticed that everyone had already woken up, for the most part, and were now helping those who had suffered concussions upon losing consciousness and collapsing to the floor. It seemed like everyone had decided to just disregard the surroundings of the Vector, and instead opted to keep themselves busy with something. There were a few exceptions, of course. Some of the soldiers could not bring themselves to do anything other than gaze at the strange cloud city, but nonetheless everyone kept shooting a glance at it every once in a while. Atlas was not sure whether to be amused or worried about the strange anomaly. By all means, something strange was happening, and he needed some answers.

After having made his way to the tram station, Atlas was thankful to find that it was, at least, only partially full. He walked into the tram and the door closed behind him, before it began to move through the tunnels that ran across the entire ship. Once the tram reached full speed, Atlas realized that he was actually completely alone, so he decided to move to the tram’s windows and look outside.

The tram's panoramic windows allowed those riding to see what sections they were passing through. Often, it would enter a tunnel, and re-emerge in some other area of the ship. At the moment, it was going through the factory complex, which contained several machines, from small to massive, that built even bigger machines. Conveyor belts transported the bits that would gradually be shaped to become parts of military vehicles, weapons, armor, and pretty much everything else the Vector’s crew might need. Several of the workers could be seen waking each other up, and the factory itself was inactive, as it was only set in that state when more vehicles and weapons were needed.

After overlooking the factory, the tram went into a tunnel again, before emerging once more, showing a view of the hangar bay instead. In the hangar, the same situation could be observed; the pilots waking each other up, while others were making sure their ships were still intact.

The tram entered another tunnel, and shortly after, it reached the station on the Command Bridge.

It opened its doors and Atlas walked out, heading into the bridge. Inside, the crew had suffered the same fate as those in the rest of the ship. The few that had already regained their senses were helping the others up. The ones that still remained unattended were on their work-stations, looking like they had fallen asleep with their heads on the consoles. In front of the main window, Admiral Becker was idly chatting with one of Atlas’ roommates, Torres.

Torres was a ‘Raider’: slim and agile troopers often filling scouting roles. Raiders were usually women, as they possessed a slimmer and more agile figure compared to the common trooper. Even if they were not required to perform the six year campaign on the Guard, women were not an unusual sight. The Raiders were widely known for being the one of the most respected divisions within the CG, as they were as capable and in most cases more so than a common trooper, despite the fact that women could not be augmented as far as men.

The armor of a Raider was similar to the armor of the common trooper, except lighter. On their backs were two razor-sharp wings often used to sever limbs, and for extra maneuverability when flying in atmosphere.

At the sound of the loud footsteps behind them, both the Admiral and Torres turned around.

“Ugh, Atlas. Those footsteps of yours aren’t really helping with this headache...” Torres complained.

“Please, do you think I was all dandy on the way here? At least I’m starting to feel better.” Atlas then turned to the Admiral, “Sooo... Where are we?”

The old man sighed, turning to the window. “I have absolutely no idea... We are above an uncharted planet, inhabited by who knows what.”

Atlas huffed, “I also saw a city made of clouds. ”

“You’re not the only one.” the Admiral sighed. “There is also something strange going on with this planet’s sun; the orbital pattern is all wrong. The sensors show that it’s orbiting the planet, but that can’t be. There is also a strange energy field surrounding it... We haven’t been able to put our fingers on it, but it may be the reason as to why we fainted. I’m starting to think that some of our sensors burnt down...”

"What-?"

“And that’s not even the end of it!” the Admiral continued, unfazed. “We’ve lost all contact with the rest of the fleet. We'll just have to wait until we map the stars to know where we are exactly.”

The trio was struck by a wave of silence.

Atlas sighed, “Well... What do we do now?”

The Admiral pointed at the main virtual window; directly under the ship, a rather large city was built into the side of a mountain. In the middle of the cityscape stood a large castle. “Since we’re pretty much stuck here, with no immediate way of going back, we might as well make ourselves comfortable. We are going to have to initiate first contact and find out what lives in this place, but you’re not going into that city. There’s a small village nearby, and if what lives in this place is dangerous, you’ll have a better chance escaping a village rather than a city.”

Torres stepped up to the Admiral. “Hold on, who do you mean by ‘you’?”

“You, Atlas, and Mac.”

Torres cocked her head to the side. “Why us? It’s just first contact....”

"I don't want to get the rest of the crew stirred up just yet. Just go there, find out what's below us, and get back. Mac can also take some DNA samples if necessary. This is a level one operation; you know the drill. You don’t tell anything to anyone unless they have my permission.”

Atlas huffed, “Yes sir...”

The Admiral nodded. “Now, go. Mac is waiting for you with a dropship.“

Torres and Atlas walked back out of the bridge and onto the tram station, boarding one of the trams.

The Admiral walked over to his console, and held down a button.

“Attention, this is your Admiral speaking... As you may have noticed, we're above an uncharted world right now. We've lost all contact with the fleet, and we don't know what our exact location is. But we will find a way to make it back... Stay safe, soldiers.”

After giving his speech, the Admiral sighed, and looked back at the main window.

“Sir?” came a voice from Becker’s right. He shot a glance to his side, discovering an armored man that had approached him, then resumed to gaze out through the viewscreen.

“Yes, Commander?”

“Those two that you were talking to... they do not show up on my visor.”

“And let’s keep it that way,” the Admiral said.

The man sighed, “Will do, sir.”

-----------

The Vector had regained its normal levels of activity. Everyone was feeling uneasy, but most of the ship's crew managed to keep themselves busy in a bid to try and set any uncomforting thoughts aside. Most of the crew had decided to stick to the ‘First Contact’ protocols and refrain from asking any questions, it helped keep some of the pressure off of them.

Atlas and Torres walked out of the tram and began making their way down the hallway that led to the hangar.

“Do you think that we’ll go back?” asked Torres.

Atlas shrugged, “I'd try not to think about it...”

“Right...” she sighed, “I wonder what lives down there, it’s all so... earth-like.”

“Well, I’m just hoping it ain't dangerous.”

Both of the troopers walked into the hangar. On the ceiling, several rails kept Fighters, Interceptors, and Bombers stacked neatly, while some of them remained on their landing pads, ready to depart when needed. Most of the pilots were chatting with each other, others were playing card games, or performing maintenance on their vehicles. Several of the pilots shot some odd glances at the two as they made their way through.

“Hey, uh...” Torres looked up at Atlas. “Whatever happens, we’ve got each others backs, right?”

The giant nodded. “You can count on me.”

On the central landing pad, ‘Mac’ was standing next to a dropship, waving at Atlas and Torres before walking up the ramp and into it.

“How should we do this?” asked Torres.

“I say we keep it simple. We land nearby and then walk to the town, stop at the entrance and wait for something to happen.”

“Good enough for me,” she added.

The two walked into the ship, and the hatch closed behind them. Mac was in the cockpit, getting ready to pilot the transport vessel.

“Mac, land us by the main road that leads to the village, make sure there’s about fifty metres between them and us. Don’t wanna take chances...” Atlas held onto the railings on the ceiling, using them to support himself.

The dropship‘s engines fired up, and lifted it off of the landing pad.

---------------

A small black dot flew out of the Vector. Derpy Hooves was lying on a cloud as she tried to align her eyes to get a better view of it. She closed her right eye and looked at it with her other eye, noticing that the dot had gotten considerably bigger.

“Uh-oh...”

She leapt off of the cloud, and began flying down towards Ponyville as fast as she could. This was her moment, if she could not warn everypony in time they would all suffer terrible, terrible fates.

While in deep thought, she crash-landed into the fountain next to the Town Hall.

Ignoring the pain, she pointed towards the dot, which was not a dot anymore, but a creature-contraption-flying thing.

“It’s here! It’s here to take us! Everypony run!!!” she yelled, but her words were muffled since she had yet to take her head out of the water.

All the ponies nearby turned to the fountain, then back at where the mailmare was pointing. Many of them gasped as they noticed the metallic machine landing on the road that led to the town. They began screaming and running in every direction, getting into whatever place they could to hide from the monster. In mere seconds, the streets were empty.

--------------

The dropship touched ground and its engines turned off. Slowly, the hatch opened, allowing those inside to have a look of the village.

“Huh... looks like a ghost town.” Said Atlas.

“I think that whatever lives here is downright scared of us.” Torres stepped out of the ship, followed by Atlas and Mac.

They started walking towards the town. Not a single sound could be heard besides their footsteps. Many of the houses had planks covering their windows. The architecture of the buildings was almost worthy of a fairy tale, being extremely colourful. One of the buildings even appeared to be made of gingerbread.

The trio of bipeds neared the centre of the town. They could feel the dozens of eyes watching their every move. As they stopped walking, Atlas turned to face his two companions.

“And now we wait, I guess.”

--------------

Apple Bloom and the crusaders were hiding in a bush near Carousel Boutique, silently observing the three creatures that had walked into the town.

The three creatures stopped, the one in the middle turned to the others and said something, to which they responded with a nod.

They were tall, taller than Celestia and Luna. They stood on their hind legs and had claws on their forelegs, like dragons, except their claws were not sharp, and seemed to have rounded tips instead. They had no fur, and no skin, their bodies were covered by a metallic set of armor, perhaps something like a shell. Despite those common traits, each of the creatures was substantially different from the other two.

The one in the middle was enormous; its bulky figure almost completely covered in a dark grey set of armor, or a shell, or perhaps a chitinous plating. The few exposed areas of their bodies showed some form of tissue, seemingly made of some fibers that interlaced with each other, resembling muscle, but the disturbing part of it was that its colour was also dark grey. It had a single, orange slit for an eye, and lacked a mouth. In fact, none of them had mouths.

The one on the left was very different. Its outer shell glowed blue in several places, and its colour was a shiny silver. The parts that did not have a shell over them also appeared to be muscle, but it was much, much different from the one in the middle. The muscles on this one were also metallic, like the rest of its body, and they were made of several parts that folded into each other, creating something that looked like muscle. Its eyes glowed blue, like the rest of its complex body.

The one on the right was the one that differed the most. It was the shortest one, and its body was very slim. The shell covered its entire form, leaving no spot exposed. The most interesting feature it had was the set of wings on its back. Unlike those of a Pegasus, they had no feathers, and were sharp and metallic like the rest of its body. However, it did not have eyes. Instead, its face was a round and completely orange dome, it had no features whatsoever, and faintly shone with the light.

The first two were carrying blunt sticks on their backs, while the slimmer one was carrying two abstract objects on its sides.

Apple Bloom gulped, then whispered, “What are they...?”

“I’ve no idea... They look kinda scary. Uh, not that I’m scared or anything,” responded Scootaloo.

Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom shot her a glance. “What? It’s true!” she said.

“Why aren’t they doing anything? They even look... I dunno, bored?” Sweetie said.

“Ah think they’re jus’ waiting for us... Ah mean, the same thing happened with Zecora, maybe they jus’ wanna talk to us and buy sum’ stuff? Like Zecora,” said Apple Bloom.

Scootaloo huffed, “Yeah right. Why don’t you go and talk to them then?”

“Ya’ know,” Apple Bloom stood up, “Ah think I will. They’re not doin’ anything, ah think that if they wanted to hurt us they’d have done it already. If it weren’t for me, we would’ve never gotten to know Zecora, and maybe I’ll even earn mah Cutie Mark!” She smiled at the unicorn and the pegasus, and hopped out of the bush.

She began to trot towards the three creatures, who had started talking to each other, looking away from the direction Apple Bloom was. As she got closer to them, she immediately started regretting her decision, as they turned out to be much larger than she had originally thought.

They must have heard her approach, because they had turned around and were looking down at her. She froze, and skidded to a halt right in front of the bigger one, who towered over her. She slowly looked up at its single orange eye that stared inexpressibly at her. She carefully gave the creature a sheepish grin, while simultaneously breaking out in a cold sweat.

------------

Atlas turned around when he heard something running towards him. He saw nothing until he looked down, and found that a tiny yellow creature, with red hair, a pink bow, and big round eyes was giving him a wide, awkward grin, while starting to shake, most likely out of fear.

He wasn’t sure what to make out of it, for all he knew it could be dangerous, but it sure did not look like it. As the creature’s big, round, frightened eyes looked up at him, a wave of compassion washed over him.

Slowly, he kneeled down, the sound caused by the servos in his armor making the little creature even more afraid. He slowly examined it; it was not as alien as he had thought the creatures of this world would be. Looking back at the ‘First Contact’ procedures the USC had taught him, he realized he had to make the creature know he was not actually going to hurt it.

He extended his right arm slowly, the creature tried to hide its fear, but kept glancing back and forth between his hand and his face. As he moved his hand closer, it got to a point where the creature simply froze, the wide grin still on its face. Gently, he rubbed one of its ears with his fingers, the creature still frozen in place. Afterwards, he began to gently scratch its head, and the creature closed its eyes, and its hollow grin was replaced by a real one, as it started giggling.

Behind his visor, he smiled. “Cute little thing, isn’t it?”

“It... It tickles!” the creature said, causing Atlas to stop scratching its head.

“Hold on, you can talk? Terran?” he said.

Immediately afterwards the creature spoke up, “Wait, ya’ll can talk? Equestrian?”

Torres clapped her hands together. “D’awww it’s so cute!”

Atlas looked at Torres while chuckling. “First time I’ve ever seen you act girly.” He then looked at the little creature again. “Well uhm... Hi, my name’s Atlas. Do you have a name?”

“Mah name’s Apple Bloom! Pleased ta meet ‘ya, Mister! Wait, you are a mister, right?” said the little creature, Apple Bloom. Atlas decided it was better not to ask about the names. Not yet, at least.

Atlas scratched Apple Bloom’s head again, “Yeah, I am a mister... Glad someone decided to come out and say 'Hi'.”

“Yeah! They’re scared ‘cuz yer all big ‘n stuff! But ah knew ya’ll weren’t bad! Yer jus’ scary is all, yer’ big, and ya’ll stand weird...” Apple Bloom trailed off, and waved at some bushes. Two other little creatures emerged from them, and began walking towards the group.

Atlas chuckled, and looked over at the two creatures that were approaching them. One of them was orange, and had purple hair. The other one was white, and its hair was pink and purple. Upon closer inspection, he noticed the white one had a horn, and the orange one had wings.

He looked back at Apple Bloom. “Friends of yours?”

“Eeyup! Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle!” She said.

--------

Scootaloo walked right over to Torres, and Sweetie awkwardly placed herself next to ‘Mac’, who just observed her.

“U-Uh... Hello? M-Mister?”

‘Mac’ kneeled down, “Interesting... Equine anatomy... small size... And a.... horn. You would not happen to be an ‘Unicorn’, would you?” His voice sounded distorted.

Sweetie Belle gulped, “Ehm, Yeah... Is something wrong with your voice?”

“Would you believe me if I told you I was a robot?” he said.

“What’s a ‘Rowbot’?” Sweetie Belle rubbed her hooves together, looking up at ‘Mac’.

“...Nevermind. What is your name?”

“Sweetie Belle!” she said, smiling at him.

“Sweetie Belle... I am ‘MAC-2945’... But you can just refer to me ‘Mac’.”

“Uhm, Hi ‘Mac’... “

The ambiance between the two became awkwardly silent for a couple minutes, especially since ‘Mac’ was staring a hole into Sweetie Belle.

“Tell me about your species. I see you are an Unicorn, but your friend has wings, and the other does not have any of those.” he said.

“Uhm... Well, we’re Ponies. There’s Unicorn ponies, Pegasus ponies, and Earth Ponies.”

“Earth Ponies... Interesting.” After his statement, he noticed how awkward the Unicorn seemed to feel.

“Is something wrong?” he inquired.

Sweetie Belle looked up at him, “Huh? Oh, N-No.”

“You stuttered. There must be something bothering you.... Am I boring you?” he bluntly asked.

“N-No.. it’s fine.” She said.

“I must be boring you. I will try to be more ‘Funny’ or ‘Entertaining’.” Mac then took a look around.

After aimlessly glancing around for some seconds, he looked back at the little unicorn. “I give up, this is really not my speciality.” he said. “Also, may I have some of your hair?”

-------

Atlas shuffled his fingers together, “Can I ask you a few things?”

“Sure!” She sat on her haunches and smiled up at him.

“What are your species called? Is there a leader or some other figure I can talk to around here? Preferably someone who knows a lot of stuff? And finally, is the rest of your race the same size as you?”

Apple Bloom raised an eyebrow. “We’re called Ponies, there’s three types of Ponies: Earth Ponies, Pegasus Ponies, and Unicorn Ponies. Ah think ya’ll want to talk to Twilight Sparkle; she knows alotta stuff, and I think she's like, very close with the Princess. And uh... what was the last question? Ah yeah! Well, I’m just a filly, I go to school and all.”

“Hmph... That’s very interesting... Say, where is this ‘Twilight Sparkle’?” He placed both of his hands on his knees.

“Twilight? Oh, she’s with mah sister, and the rest of her friends over at the farm. They said somethin’ about spending a lot of time together today... Also, where do you come from?”

“Uhm.... We come from a very far away land, using that thing that's floating above us. It’s called the ‘Vector’.” Behind his faceplate, he bit his lip, hoping that Apple Bloom would refrain from asking much more.

She looked up, “ ‘Vector’? You come from THAT? Woah... Hey, what’s that thing on yer back?”

Atlas was taken aback by the question. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to talk about his rifle. “I’m not trying to be mean or anything, but can you lead us to this ‘Twilight Sparkle’ of yours? And the thing on my back is something really hard for me to explain...”

“Jus’ tell me what it’s for, pleeease?” Apple Bloom looked up at him with puppy dog eyes.

“I’ll... Fine.. It’s a.. sword, yeah, a blade comes out of one of the ends. Why did I bring it with me? Well, we didn’t know what really lived here so... we could’ve been attacked.... Can we please go now?”

The little filly tilted her head to the side. “That’s one weird sword... Anyways, come on, let's go!”

Atlas nodded. He stood up and turned to look at his companions. Sweetie Belle was awkwardly talking to ‘Mac’, and Torres was talking to, or rather, being bombarded by the questions of an eager Scootaloo.

“Torres, Mac, we’re gonna go to Apple Bloom’s farm. She says there’s someone there who can get us up to speed.”

----------------------

As the three creatures and the little crusaders walked out of the town, the ponies who had been hiding inside their houses began to walk out, observing the group as they walked away.

After seeing the group walking past the flying contraption the creatures had brought with them, and instead heading towards Sweet Apple Acres; the gathering of townsponies sighed in relief, and shared some worried glances afterwards.

***

Special Thanks To:
Salacar
n
SilentRunning
Menelaus Redz
Radon18
Destructorspace
HLBOUR
Anonymous

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