• Published 3rd Feb 2012
  • 2,261 Views, 42 Comments

My Little Battlestar - steve_the_slim

The rag-tag fleet stumbles onto Equestria after destroying the Cylon Colony.

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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The moon hung silently over Equestria. One could have been forgiven for thinking that this was a perfectly normal, uneventful night, and for almost everypony, it was. But if somepony with a telescope had happened to be looking at the moon that night, they might have noticed the brief appearance of a small light, which flashed brightly before vanishing. About an hour later, a large cluster of similar lights appeared, very near the spot where the first one had, winking out again just as the first one did. Tonight, however, although there were a number of stargazers admiring Princess Luna’s work, none of them happened to be gazing at the moon at either of those two particular moments. So it happened that only two living beings were aware of what had occurred, as the Princesses of the sun and moon felt a disturbance in an ancient enchantment.

The commanders of the Royal Guard were quickly awakened and summoned to an urgent meeting with the Princesses. They arrived thoroughly confused as to what was going on, and left even more confused. Neither Celestia or Luna had given them any information whatsoever as to what was actually going on, but as the pegasus messengers were dispatched to various towns and cities, the commanders discussed the meeting among themselves. Despite all the ideas they put forward, none of them could come up with a believable explanation for something that hadn’t happened in a thousand years: Celestia had told them that an army might need to be raised.

* * *

“Alright, boys and girls, listen up.” Captain Kara “Starbuck” Thrace paused a moment while the assembled pilots quieted down. “Okay. As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, it turns out this ball of dirt we found is occupied.” She paused again, in case anyone had somehow missed out on the scuttlebutt and suddenly felt the need to blurt out some surprised exclamation. When no one did, she continued.

“As far as we can tell, it’s not the Cylons. There’s no space or air traffic and no satellites in orbit. We haven’t picked up any kind of comm traffic. Galactica’s observation gear hasn’t seen anything that looks like a military installation. But there are some pretty big cities down there, and what look like roads and possibly railroads.”

She took a deep breath. “Now, I’ve been hearing the same scuttlebutt you have. A lot of you seem to be convinced we’ve found the Thirteenth Tribe. Maybe we have. But think about it. We’re one jump away from the Cylon’s biggest base. I’d say the odds are pretty frakkin’ good this is some kind of Toaster colony. But given our current situation, we have to take any chance we can get at finding a place to settle, and if somehow the Cylons missed this place, and it really is full of humans, this might be the answer to everybody’s prayers.”

“Before we go any further, I need you to get this through your head. No matter who is down there, what we’re going to do is extremely dangerous. Poking around their airspace is probably the best way short of orbital bombardment to piss off whoever’s down there. But since we haven’t been able to contact anybody, we don’t have a choice. This first run’s gonna be recon only. We’re trying to get a better idea of what we’re dealing with than Galactia’s telescopes can give us. We are not going down there to say hello, and we’re sure as hell not going down there to shoot up their air force. If we get ANY contact, any at all, we pull the frak out. We’re taking our time here. If any of you so much as sneezes at something you shouldn’t, so help me gods I’ll shoot you down myself. Any questions?” She glared around at them, pausing briefly on a few of the least-disciplined among them. No one said anything.

“Alright. Now, this run’s going to be five teams of two Raptors and four Vipers each. You’ll be making two passes over each of your assigned targets, then heading back home. Once I split you into teams, you’ll be assigned your targets.”

She pointed at the map on the wall behind them. “We’re going to be covering this general area here. This is where a lot of the biggest cities are, and some of the more…interesting curiosities we’ve spotted so far. We’ll be making our runs at eighty thousand feet. That should keep us well above the max altitude of anything primitive. If they’ve got anything that can reach that altitude, they probably already know we’re here.”

“Okay, team one will be Athena and Red Devil, with myself, Hotdog, Butch, and Hyper covering. Team two…”

* * *

Starbuck fidgeted slightly as she cruised along, high above the clouds. When Galactica had jumped out above this planet, she’d felt a huge feeling of relief. She couldn’t explain it, but ever since what had happened in the eye of the storm, she’d felt like there was something she was supposed to do, like the gods had given her some kind of grand purpose but hadn’t told her what it was. With everything that had happened on the way here, she’d become pretty convinced that something supernatural had indeed happened. There was too much that nobody could explain.

But when they got here, it felt like she’d completed her quest. She’d also started to get the feeling it was time for her to go. But after the Raptor that was about to jump back to the Fleet had spotted the lights down on the planet, that feeling of needing to do something had returned, as though the gods had forgotten about something she was supposed to do, and then remembered it and told her. It was enough to drive you crazy, and Starbuck was beginning to wonder if that might actually happen.

She was interrupted from her thoughts by a beep from the DRADIS console. She looked down at the console, and her eyes opened wide. She keyed the mic.

“Hotdog, Athena, are you seeing this?”

Sharon “Athena” Agathon responded first. She spoke slowly, sounding like she wasn’t believing what her Raptor’s DRADIS was telling her. “Yeah, I see it.”

What Starbuck, Athena, and the other pilots were seeing was an unknown DRADIS contact, at their altitude, coming towards them at Mach 3.

Starbuck began cycling through the standard wireless frequencies, trying to contact the approaching craft. "Unknown aircraft, this is Captain Kara Thrace of the Colonial Fleet, requesting permission to enter your airspace. Please respond."

Instead of a response from the contact, Colonel Tigh’s voice came in over the wireless. “What is it, Starbuck?”

“I’ve got a bogey up here, sir. I think they’re intercepting us.”

“Godsdammit. Alright, bring ‘em home.”

Starbuck pushed in the power and pulled back on the stick, the other pilots following her doing the same. As they began their climb back out of the atmosphere, several things happened.

A Viper’s engine is an extremely complex piece of machinery. It’s designed to take a beating and keep running, but it’s also generally expected that it won’t be run again until after it gets repaired. The Vipers operating off Galactica, however, hadn’t seen a proper shop since the destruction of the Pegasus. Despite the heroic and herculean efforts of Galactica’s deckhands, many of the Vipers were barely holding together, and they hadn’t been properly looked over after the battle at the Colony. The number three engine of the Viper that Starbuck was currently flying had, unbeknown to the deckhands, developed a crack in a critical component when it was being flown hard the day before. The crack had been spreading over the course of the flight, and the part had finally reached its breaking point.

The part broke, and the number three engine failed. Catastrophically. With a very loud BANG. As it did, the twisted remains of various components smashed into other systems. The number two engine took the brunt of it, but it managed to keep running. Several other pieces severed the wires connecting two of the aft thrusters to the fly-by-wire computer. Others tore into the main fuel lines.

Starbuck’s Viper shuddered, and various alarms began blaring in her ears. For a moment her natural instinct to panic took control of her brain, but her training took over quickly as her instructor’s word echoed in her mind. “Fly the plane.
Whatever else is happing, fly the plane.” She started running though checklists. Establish level flight. Determine problem. Shut down failed engine. Frak…fuel leak. Declare emergency.

“All ships, Starbuck. Cryper crypter crypter. I’ve got a dead engine and I’m losing fuel. Butch, Hyper, take the Raptors back home. Hotdog, cover me in case our local friend gets any ideas.” As she said this, she glanced at the DRADIS. The unknown contact was almost on top of them. It should come into view any second now…

Hotdog spotted him first. “There he is, eleven o’clock low.” Starbuck looked in the direction Hotdog told her, and saw a small black shape rocket past about two hundred feet to port and three or four hundred below, dangerously close for somebody that was attempting an intercept. She had to wonder what the guy was thinking, making a pass like that at an unknown aircraft. But no time to worry about it now.

She called Galactica again. “Galactica, Starbuck. My bird’s hurt bad. I don’t think I can make it back. I’m gonna have to land dirtside.”

The Old Man responded. “Starbuck, Galactica Actual. Are you sure you can’t make it back?”

A quick check of the fuel gauge answered that. “Negative, Actual. I should have enough fuel to make it down, but there’s no way I can do a burn to orbit.”

The Old Man sighed. The best laid plans… “Copy that, Starbuck. Where’s the bogey?”

She checked DRADIS. The contact was still going the same direction it had been, which now meant it was rapidly heading away from her.

“It looks like he doesn’t want to play. He’s heading off behind us and he hasn’t turned around yet.”
Starbuck nudged her Viper into a gradual descent as she talked, Hotdog following behind her. “What do you want me to do, sir?”

There was silence for a couple of seconds before the Old Man responded. “How far do you think you can get?”
“Far enough to clear the mountain range, but all that means is I’ll have to put down closer to Target Alpha.” She looked at the moving map on her console, quickly planning a descent. “Probably somewhere near Town 17.”

There was another audible sigh from the Old Man, followed by some unintelligible muttering which, knowing him, probably contained several rather interesting profanities he didn’t want to say on the wireless. “Alright. Keep your beacon on. I’ll send a rescue bird down as soon as they’re ready to go. Hotdog, keep Starbuck covered until she’s down, then get back up here as fast as you can. Actual out.”

* * *

Rainbow Dash dropped into a dive, flapping hard to build up speed. A few hundred feet from the ground, she pulled up hard and went vertical. She started spinning clockwise as she approached the first cloud, and kept spinning until she had broken through the fourth and last cloud in the stack. As her speed bled off, she flipped over and began to dive again, lining up with the stack of clouds that now all had holes through the middle. Before she reached the top cloud, a very fast-moving something came screaming by below, between the second and third clouds.

Dash frantically pulled up as the thing went by beneath her. As she did, her ears were assailed with an immense roar so powerful she felt it in her stomach. She looked in the direction the thing had gone, and was surprised to see that it had covered a lot of distance. It was trailing a cloud of gray smoke, and she briefly wondered if it might have been some kind of dragon. Whatever it was, it had interrupted her trick, and it was fast. That meant only one thing: it needed to be raced.

* * *

“What the frak was that thing?” Hotdog’s voice betrayed a mix of confusion and nervousness. “It looked like a godsdamm pegasus!”

“I dunno, I didn’t see it. I’m a little busy at the moment,” Starbuck replied, struggling to keep the damaged Viper steady as one of the rear thrusters misfired again.

“Wait a second…frak! Starbuck, bogey on your six! Break break break!”

* * *

Dash snapped into a hard left turn, following the smoking thing. The other thing she’d spotted, following the first above and off to its right, started to climb, but she looked away from it and focused on the smoker, which was clearly leading. It had made several hard turns, as though it was trying to shake her off, but it couldn’t seem to turn anywhere near as tightly as she could. It was fast, but she was slightly faster, and she stayed on its tail as it dropped down low, skimming over the trees and heading towards Ponyville. It occurred to her that this thing might not be friendly, and she put on an extra burst of speed, snapping her wings down so they cracked like a whip. If it wasn’t friendly, she’d better get to it before it reached town.

* * *

“Godsdammit, Hotdog, get this son-of-a-bitch of me!” Starbuck yanked into another turn to the right, then jinked back to the left. But the bogey behind her stayed on her like glue, and kept gaining. She couldn’t risk putting on any more speed; there wasn’t much fuel left and she didn’t know if the engines could take it anway.

The Old Man, who hadn’t said anything yet, finally contacted them. “Starbuck, Hotdog, this is Galactica Actual. Give it a warning shot if you need to, but don’t hurt it.”

* * *

Hotdog thumbed off the gun safety. “Copy that, Actual. Let’s see if this scares him off.” He aimed about 50 feet below the little blue craft chasing his leader, and squeezed the trigger.

* * *

The “little blue craft” looked back over her shoulder when the cluster of lights zipped by underneath her. The other thing had pulled in behind her! She dropped and spread her wings wide, cutting her speed as she fell. She didn’t know what had just happened, but it felt bad. The way the other thing was following her seemed like it was chasing her as she chased the smoking one, and the little lights reminded her of a magical blast. She pulled up just a few feet above the treetops, and the second thing roared by overhead.

* * *

“Shit, I overshot him!” Hotdog pulled up into a steep climb, then rolled inverted and dropped back down. The blue thing was picking up speed again, although Starbuck had opened the distance considerably when the blue thing had cut its speed. But it wasn’t after her anymore. It turned toward him, impossibly fast, and came right at him. He fired another burst under it. The blue craft started jinking from side to side, snapping back and forth with direction changes that no ship he knew of could have made. But it kept coming at him. They both broke away a moment before they would have collided, and he pulled back hard on the stick, beginning a split-S.

* * *

Dash stuck her tongue out at the thing as she passed it, then pumped her wings as hard as she could and turned back toward the trail of smoke pointing toward Ponyville. This dart-shaped flyer was clearly trying to draw her away from its leader, which only made it more important that she catch up before it reached town. Out in front of her, the smoker seemed to be slowing down.

* * *

Spike thanked Applejack for the fresh apple, then resumed his walk back to the library with Twilight’s order of quills. Twilight consumed writing implements at a prodigious rate, and it seemed like it was just yesterday that he’d picked up the last bunch of quills. Come to think of it, maybe it really was yesterday…

His thoughts were interrupted by a terrible roar from the sky above. He looked up just in time to see a vaguely dart-shaped thing zoom past overhead, trailing a cloud of smoke. It was followed a few seconds later by a rainbow blur, which itself was followed by another dart-thing, which was spewing gobs of fire at the rainbow blur. Spike dropped the apple and the box of quills and ran for the library.

* * *

The Viper’s two remaining engines were beginning to run roughly as they gulped down the last drops of fuel. The chase had used up more than Starbuck had intended, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to get as far away from the town as she’d planned. At least there were plenty of farm fields to land in, and the blue thing that had been chasing her had broken off once they were past the town. DRADIS showed it hanging back a ways, shadowing her and Hotdog, but it wasn’t clinging to her tail anymore.

Starbuck spotted a low ridge up ahead that would hopefully be high enough to prevent the townspeople from seeing where she had gone if she ducked down behind it. As she approached, she could make out several farm fields behind the ridge, one of which was empty of crops.

“Hotdog, I’m putting down in the next field. Head back to Galactica. I’ll deal with the angry mob.”

“Copy that, Starbuck. Good luck, and godspeed.” Hotdog pulled up into a climb and lit his afterburners, rocketing away towards the upper atmosphere, as Starbuck lowered the landing gear and slowed to a hover. The engines coughed as she settled the ship down in the field. She wondered if there really would be an angry mob after all as she shut down the engines. She hadn’t gotten an especially good look at the village when she flew over, but most of the buildings appeared to have had thatched roofs. That was primitive enough that the old torch-and-pitchfork routine might not be out of the question. Hopefully nobody had seen her land, but Starbuck wasn’t willing to bet on that. She reached down and made sure her sidearm was still there.

As Starbuck climbed out of the cockpit, she caught sight of something out of the corner of her eye: a winged blue thing headed for her. She put her hand on her gun, but didn’t draw it.

When the blue thing got close enough for her to see it clearly, what she saw was so…bizarre that she couldn’t help but laugh, despite the fact that this thing was the most threatening thing she’d run into so far in her brief time on this world. It was a godsdammed blue pony with wings and rainbow-dyed hair. A frakking miniature pegasus. It reminded her of a stuffed animal she’d had when she was a little girl. She checked the air quality indicator on her arm to be sure it was safe, then removed her helmet, just so she could rub her eyes and make sure what she was seeing was real. This is it. I’ve finally snapped.

The pegasus pony touched down about twenty feet away and stared at her with a very confused look on its face. Starbuck wondered if she looked the same way. It slowly walked toward her. Even someone like Starbuck, who had never seen an actual horse in her life, could tell it was tense. Probably ready to leap up and fly away at the first sign of trouble. The realization of what had just gone through her mind made her burst out laughing again.

The pegasus, which was now only a few feet away and was looking up at her, looked even more confused. Starbuck, still trying to contain her laughter, watched as it opened its mouth. And spoke.

“What the hay are you, anyway?”

Starbuck stopped laughing.

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