by ComeAlongPonds

First published

Space is a vast frontier that can change many ponies- perhaps not for better, but always for good.

Space is all she has ever known. Naturally, Star Chaser would wind up getting a little lonely after a while. So when she crashes in front of the Hoofington library after a chase with a rift in time, she decides to take a clever young pony along with her on an adventure. But as soon as they run into a Time Pony, and his dashingly bold companion, things go downhill from there are they get in tangled up with Torchhoof, the Celestial Bodies, and what could be the end of Equestria as they know it.

Note- Contains many foreign fandom references, and could be considered a Doctor Who crossover, but won't be listed as such. This will tie in with many other fimfics, including an in-the-making fic 'Torchhoof Chronicles' by zzuxon.
Also, the cover art is temporary- however, I have no idea how long it will be till I get some proper cover art and said art may not in fact come till the sequel.

A fateful encounter

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Space- a vast expanse of churning colors and beautiful new worlds to be discovered. The greatest treasure in life would be to conquer space, to take it into your grasps as your own. To be its master. That is what pony kind has strived for for centuries. Of course they’d have obtained it by now—And it’s brought about greater wonders than we could ever imagine.

Space surrounded her, just like it always had— Star Chaser lived among the stars. She discovered at a young age that she could travel through space. Her father could, too; as could her grandparents. Then again, everyone always said her grandparents couldn’t be ponies. Not the kind from earth.

Not that it mattered, anyways. Star loved space, the universe around her. She loved being in it. She could even go fast— fast enough to go to other planets in a jiffy without her wings tiring— if she had some stardust. Stardust wasn’t easy to find in the Solar System, though. She rather liked visiting other star systems where it was more abundant.

Speaking of stardust—or the usual lack thereof, rather—it happened at that moment an unusual swirl of stardust was flitting by. Not much, really, but enough to be out of the ordinary. Especially in this star system. Maybe something big was happening. Star had even heard that, at times, affecting the Time Vortex could cause fluxuations in space.

There was only one way to find out.

That was to follow.


It was an average day in the Hoofington Library. Well, as average as average could get. Which was actually pretty average.

So naturally, is was up to Atom Insight to do his equally average job—shelve books. Most ponies would ask what such a clever pony was doing working in a library. He could be working in a laboratory with the brains he had. Well, the truth was, he actually rather enjoyed it here. He loved reading; he could learn so much from it. And he loved learning—that was how he got his cutie mark. An atom coming out of a book—He had such a passion and talent for learning all that he could that it became a part of who he was.

He often spent so much time reading he didn’t notice night come till he needed to light a candle, which he’d often just do with his telekinesis. Dark green aura would surround a lighter and float over to a candle, setting it aflame. Except tonight, that lighter would clatter to the ground as a heart-stopping explosion—or crash, or commotion, or whatever was occurring outside—surfaced from just outside the library. Dropping his books, Atom scrambled to his feet and busted out the door.

And there, right in his front lawn, was a meteor. A real life artifact from outer space. What more could he ask for? He rushed to the site of the collision, where the ground had been scraped up all about into heaps of dirt. His hooved pulled away at the dirt, he hoping to get a better look at the space rock, and he was met with a sight he wasn’t expecting.

It was a mare.

A mare had fallen out of the sky and landed in his front yard! This would’ve been a great revelation for him romantically… had he been interested in romance. Actually, he was really only interested in seeing how the dark blue Pegasus had crashed in such a manner. Surely she wouldn’t have been dumb enough to try flying into space, right?

Or maybe she actually was in space. She certainly wasn’t dead—actually at the moment, she was coming to. Maybe she was an alien. That would be absolutely brilliant.

Pulling her up by the shoulders with both hooves, Atom pulled the orange-maned mare up onto the grass. He would have to get the local Urgent Care to help him later. First, he had to make sure she could stay alive. Tourniquet any urgent injuries, cover up any scrapes, things like that. But when he moved in for further inspection… she jumped up.

“Ah!” Curls of her mane bounced as she flipped over, jumping away from him with precision. “Back, foul beast!” Shoulders hunched, they soon relaxed when she saw the pony pulled back slightly, startled. He looked harmless enough, anyways; certainly not strong, no stronger than her. And she wasn’t very strong.

“Well then… Who are you?” She leaned forward slightly in curiosity.

“Me? Wha—I’m—I’m Atom, ma’am. Atom Insight.” The green stallion watched her, wide eyed.

“Nice to meet you, Atom!” the Pegasus grinned widely. “I’m Star Chaser!” Looking up, she eyed the library. “What’s this? A library? Great! I like libraries. Libraries are great.”

“Uh—yes, it’s a library. Um—What happened? Where were you? You crashed, and you crashed pretty hard from the looks of it. But… you look fine.”

“What, me? Oh, I was just in space. Chasing some… time fluxuation, I think. Not hurt at all. Have you ever been to space before? Space is really great.”

“Uh, no, never been to space. How in Equestria were you in space? You’re not in the proper equipment. Did your ship start crashing halfway through orbit and eject you while you were in the atmosphere? That’s the only logical explanation, after all…” His eyebrows sewn together in contemplation, he rubbed his chin once or twice in thought with his hoof.

“What? No.” Star answered it like it was the most absurd question she’d ever heard. “That’s ridiculous. I was flying. Isn’t that what you would do? Just… pick up with your wings and fly?”

“Uh, no. In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t got wings. I’m a unicorn. Most unicorns don’t have wings. Well, there’s Princesses Celestia and Luna, but they’re princesses. I’m not a princess. And secondly, how on earth did you fly?!”

“Well, that’s my talent! I fly through space. Can breathe in it. Control it—to a very certain extent. It’s my medium. Space is my… everything, really.” She replied with a heartening smile.

“That’s… incredible.” Atom shook his head in disbelief. “I’ve never heard of a pony that could do that. You’ve got to tell me more!”

Or,” Star said with slight emphasis, “I could show you!”

“Show? Show?! That’s—I—Yes absolutely a thousand times yes! But—… how?”

“Well, it’s easy. The first step is to trust me.”

“Trust a strange pony that crashed in front of my yard and wants to take me to space. Check.”

Star laughed. “Second, take my hoof.” She extended one the of aforementioned appendages. Hesitantly, Atom reached out, connecting his own green hoof with hers.

“And third, don’t let go.”

And with that, they were off. It was more of a jet, really—a propulsion through the atmosphere. This was how Star traveled about so quickly—it was one of her talents. She often carried a pouch of stardust on her as fuel, seeing as it took so little.

In an instant they were in space, beholding what the stars had to offer—and there was so much more. Atom looked around in astonishment. His hoof began to slip, but Star immediately caught it.

Don’t let go,” she reminded him sternly. “You have to hold on to me. Otherwise… well, you know. Death.”

A bit of a look of fear in his eyes, Atom nodded. “Yeah. Death. Don’t let go. Got it.”

“So. Now that you’ve gotten a taste, where do you want to go first? We’ve got a whole universe at our disposal. Pick a star, and I’ll take you there.”

He couldn’t believe it. This was really happening. An entire universe was at his disposal.

Pick a star and I’ll take you there.

Conversations of Leisure

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“Alright, any star…” With his free hoof, Atom pointed up to a bright red star. “How about that one? Or… would it be too cold? Red stars are the coldest after all, aren’t they?”

“Correctamundo!” Star grinned, reaching over and tousling his blond-and-blue mane, making the short locks even more raggedy. “Red are cold and blue are hot. Opposite from your… Earth pony color spectrum. It won’t be too cold. I have my own atmosphere. That’s how we’re breathing and all. But you have to be touching me, got it? Just hang onto my hoof.”

“Fantastic,” Atom breathed. “What else can you do?”

“I can do this.” With a sharp green flash, perhaps something akin to the opening of a rift, they were in a different place. A deep red star sat before them, a chilly air about.

“I—Uh—Should I even ask how that’s possible?”

“Ever heard of stardust spells?”

“Um… No…”

“They’re pretty useless unless you can breathe in space and stuff since there isn’t a spell for that. But if you gather even the least bit of stardust, there’s certain spells a Pegasus can perform. Go faster—the speed of light if you’re good enough—teleport, things like that. They all have limitations and stuff though. Wanna hear it?”

“Of course.”

Tugging his arm slightly, she pulled him over to a stray meteor which they soon laid back on.

“Okay, so, flying faster. That one’s great but is totally useless on earth. I like that one though, it lets me go places really fast. Space is vast, after all,” Star began, Atom listening intently. “And then there’s teleportation. It’s super limited though. I can only go from one star system to another, and I can’t teleport to the same place within a single star system… It’s really only good for long distance travel, but hey, that’s okay. There’s a whole universe at my disposal and I can travel anywhere I want. I like it.” She gave a wide grin, staring up above her as planets passed by and nebulas twirled about.

There was a long silence as they just watched; this infinite expanse, filled with twinkling lights and countless worlds to explore, with new species and histories and technologies to be learned from. He had to wonder how much time she’d actually spent from home, and how often she actually returned home. Actually, he didn’t even know where her home was. She could be completely extraterrestrial, and he didn’t even know it.

“Where are you from?” Atom finally asked, glancing over. “Are you from Earth?”

“Yeah, actually.” Star didn’t even look over, just watched her playground pass by. “I am. I was born there. But my dad had the same ability I had. So did my grandparents. I bet they weren’t from earth. We all have the same cutie mark, too.” She rolled over slightly, just to show the outline of a nebula on her flank before going back onto her back and sighing. “That wouldn’t change what you thought of me, would it? If I were alien?”

Atom admittedly had to think on it for a moment before replying. “Nope. I don’t think it would. I’d go on adventures with you anyways.”

“Speaking of adventures… I wonder what’s happening back on Earth?”

“Earth again already?”

“We’d best ease you into it. Wait till I start taking you to see other planets with lots of aliens! There’s another Earth, you know. Not like yours. But it’s really great. Actually, there’s another corner of the universe that’s a lot like ours, just really different. Wait till I take you there. I can’t wait to see your face when you get to see humans! They’re fantastic. There’s lots of people you could go see. We could go see this one librarian I know. I’ve watched her for a bit. Or this one little red-haired girl from Leadworth. She could use an imaginary friend every once in a while, we should go see her! But for now—let’s head back to our Earth, ease you into it. Give you a small thrill before a big one.”

Atom wasn’t actually expecting such a speech out of her. It was obvious she’d never traveled with a companion before, seeing as she was getting so excited about having one now. There were often little stories about Time Ponies that would snatch up young ponies and take them on fantastic adventures flitting about; perhaps the space-traveler had been inspired by them.

“Well?” Star asked again, startling the green unicorn out of his thought.

“Oh, um—yeah, Earth sounds good. Small thrill. Right.”

“Fantastic! Let’s go!” Still attached to his hoof, she moved and helped him to stand and in an instant, shifted the duo through space again. They appeared in their own star system this time, floating through space just outside Jupiter.

“What are we doing near Jupiter? Aren’t we going to Earth?” Atom asked, gazing down at the ringed planet.

“Well I can’t exactly control where I go,” Star replied, grinning sheepishly. “But you know, flying fast. Let’s go!” Without waiting for the stallion to prepare himself, she zipped off, the hold on his hoof not loosening. He trailed behind, scared out of his mind, barely hanging on. Relief was in the breathy sigh he took when they landed outside Camelot; his mind was spinning, and he could hardly walk straight without falling over.

“You alright?” Star asked curiously, lowering her head to watch in interest as Atom stumbled about the ground, everything twirling about in his vision.

“Go… slower,” he managed out.

“Oh. Oh! Sorry!” Star laughed, abashed. “I should have warned you! Sorry!”

After a while, Atom corrected himself and stood up straight, swaying only slightly for a moment. He asked, “Where are we?”

“Outside Canterlot.”

“Canterlot? I know someone who lives here.”

How?” Star’s voice was full of harsh confusion. Not many ponies knew others in different cities; that was at least one thing the space hermit knew.

“The internet, of course.”

“Shall we see them, then?”

“Yes. I’m sure she’s working right now, but we can always drop in.”

“Alright then! Let’s do it!”

The Nerd Herd

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The doors to the large computer depot entitled the “Nerd Herd” opened automatically as they often did in the city. There were many shoppers inside, as well as a few employees, who were busy bustling about in an attempt to meet the store’s demands.

Atom stepped tentatively in, glancing around; he didn’t often enjoy being in the city, mostly for the sheer danger of getting lost. Instead, he’d often to what shopping needed to be done in smaller towns, and visit the city only out of necessity.

Star slid in through the door, stood firmly next to him as she glanced over. “Your friend works here?” She asked.

“Yes, as a matter of fact. She’s an IT pony; she’s really good at fixing computers and other such materials,” Atom explained.

“Ooh, she sounds neat! Can’t wait to meet her. Is she nice? Spunky? Cool? I’ll bet she wears a bowtie. Bowties are cool.”

Atom laughed. “That’s what she usually says. You’re a lot alike, really.” He began walking in, glancing around for the counter where she would be working.

Said counter sat further into the back, and behind it sat the Nerd Herd’s best mechanics and computer specialists; one of these specialists was a mare, perhaps five years in age (21 in human maturity), lavender in coat with her mane pulled up in a taught ponytail. Atom approached, and a grin spread across her face.

“Hey Atom! Long time no see, huh?”

“You’re telling me. Copper, I want you to meet my friend. This is Star Chaser. Star, this is Copernican Circuit.” The stallion nodded respectfully to the each of them.

“Hi!” Star greeted, holding out her hoof for the other to shake. The other pony took it, giving it a confident shake.

“Nice to meet’cha,” Copper replied. “Star Chaser, huh? Sounds cool.”

“Very cool.”

“Uh, so, while you two are talking, I guess I’ll just… be out in the rest of the store and stuff… lookin’ at computers… Yep.” Awkwardly, Atom backed away from the counter and into the store, soon browsing the shelves with disinterest. Not many computers were catching his eye; the wage he’d earned working in the library (since he was the only employee and it was a public establishment run by the government of Equestria, he got a 60% cut from any fines collected while the rest went to the Princesses. Actually, it was an extremely fair wage considering not many ponies in Hoofington tended to return their books on time) had been enough to buy some decent computers and other equipment. He supposed he could always go browse the webcams, since his was getting rather old at that point. It would be good to keep up with different friends of his, Copper included.

His train of thought came to an abrupt and fiery crash in which it met its peril as he smacked head first into another stallion. The golden coated pony seems unfazed, simply rubbing the spot on his head where Atom’s horn had jabbed with a dark-colored hoof, tousling some of his short plum mane.

“Sorry sir!” Atom apologized, tempted to reach out and fix the stallion’s bowtie. That, however, would be a very bad idea, he decided.

“It’s fine,” the stallion rebutted in a thick Hoofington accent, groaning slightly. “I suppose you could make it up by answering a question, though.”

“Uh, sure. I’m all ears.”

“Have you seen a lavender mare anywhere? I believe she’s an employee so she’s likely to be in uniform. Green polo shirt, that uniform. Ought to be wearing a watch around her left hoof?”

“Uh, yeah! Copper, right?”

“Copper? Do you mean Copernican?”

“Copernican Circuit, yeah. Copper.”

“Right-o. Lead me to her, or at least, point me in her direction, if you will.”

“This way.” The green stallion nodded behind him, turning back around where he had come from. As they approached the counter, the two conversing mares glanced over and Star trotted over to Atom’s side, seemingly defensively.

“Copernican—or, Copper, it seems is acceptable now? Anyways—We’ve got to go quickly if you’re to catch that debrief—I mean, meeting. Come along now,” the golden mane instructed.

“What? Are you kidding me?” Copper snorted, the displeasure obvious. As she grew agitated, the slight Hoofington accent she bore grew stronger. Funny, it seemed Star was the only one here without Hoofington ancestry.

“What kind of a meeting?” Star Chaser pried, urging for more information.

“Just… one for the Nerd Herd,” Copper replied, quickly cutting the other off before he could answer. The stallion opened his mouth to protest, but shut it again promptly. Best not to trifle with the headstrong bugger, he thought.

“Oh, let’s meet up for lunch then later, yeah?” Atom offered, a bit nervously. Star’s eyes shifted from pony to pony, tension rising in the air.

“Sure, that sounds fine. Right, Chrono?” Copper threw a look at the stallion, the kind that said ‘you know exactly what to say.’

“Uh, right. Right!” Chrono replied. “We can do that! Totally fine. Yeah.”

“Right then. We’d better be off, actually. Don’t want to be late. Come along now.” Copper began heading for the door, Chrono following quickly. Atom glanced at Star.

“This seems weird. Should we follow them?”


Welcome to Torchhoof

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“Copper?” Chrono lagged along behind the lavender mare just a bit, trotting behind as he pulled his head forward in an attempt to make eye-to-eye contact. “Copernican Circuit? Are you listening?”


“Ah, yes, but—well, dear, it’s important, can’t you pay attention?”

“We are late for a meeting. No, actually.” Copper suddenly halted, the golden mare behind her smacking head-first into her. “I am late for a meeting. You’re not even a bloody member. Can I please just get to the debriefing?”

“I am an honorary agent, might I remind you!” Chrono retorted, snorting. “I have every right to be at that debriefing. Now, chop chop! Move a long, dear. The Head’s not going to wait forever.”

“Why do you call him that?” Copper asked, beginning to walk once more.

“Because he’s yet to earn his title, in my eyes. He’s the head of Torchhoof. What else has he done? He can be called The Head.”

“You haven’t got a title.”

“I do, in fact.”

The conversation went out of earshot at that point. Star pulled her head from around the corner, into the Canterlot alleyway.
“Did you hear all that?” she breathed, staring Atom right in the eyes. His blue orbs shifted uneasily while her amber ones stared intently, widely.

“Yes,” Atom finally answered. “Yes I did. I have a feeling they’re not going to a Nerd Herd meeting.”

“What’s Torchhoof? Who’s the Head? Why would Chrono have a ‘title’?” Star began pacing, eyebrows furrowed in concentration. “Ugh, it’s all so exciting!”

“Alright, let’s think reasonably for a moment. Surely Copper would have told us about it if it were important. I mean, important for us to know,” the green stallion began. “So we’re obviously not going to get it out of her by waiting around. Why not… casually bring it up? It could work. If all else fails, we could always stay in town until they have another meeting and follow them.” He looked at Star, who had long since stopped pacing and simply sat watching him. “What do you say?”

“I say… let’s do it! For adventure!”

Atom laughed. “Alright. That sounds good. I suppose all we can do is wait for lunch. Meet them at the Nerd Herd?”

“Meet them at the Nerd Herd.”

Star paced impatiently in front of Copper’s designated counter, Atom sitting idly by while the mare stomped about in frustration.

“Ooh, where are they?” She growled, looking about.

“Relax, we’re a bit early.”

“But I hate waiting!” She sighed, whining childishly and reluctantly sat by her companion. A few minutes of awkward silence and idle waiting passed before Copper sauntered in, her companion—or rather, who it seemed may have been her mentor by how he carried himself—right behind.

“There they are!” Star grinned excitedly, jumping to her feet and trotting over. Atom followed behind tentatively, if not a bit exasperatedly.

“Hello, you two,” Copper greeted, a slight chime in her voice. Chrono gave a respectful nod in salutation to the both of them.

“Hiya!” Star grinned, leaning her head a bit down only slightly in a manner of happiness.

“Hey Copper,” Atom hailed politely, a small smile gracing his features. “So, where do you want to eat?”

“How about the Canter Barrel?” Chrono suggested. Copper glanced over at him, Star smiling at the suggestion.

“Ooh, I’ve never eaten there before. Let’s do it!”

“Alright, alright,” Atom agreed. “Sound good. I suppose a good question is—who foots the bill?”


“This is nice,” the green stallion commented, Atom glancing around at the ponies and foods around him. He ran a hoof through his messy blue-and-blond mane, hardly straightening it as was his intention.

“Yeah, it’s a good restaurant. One of my favorites,” Copper replied. “Chrono and I come here often. Sometimes the Nerd Herd holds company meetings here.” It was only for a moment and hardly noticeable, but at one point Atom was sure he caught Copper falter in giving her own company’s title.

“Oh yeah, the Nerd Herd. We’ve been meaning to ask you a question,” Star began, obviously picking up on the error herself. This was where the interrogation began.

“You see, we were wondering if maybe you had a second job.” Atom asked, trying to remain confident though he was certain his bottom jaw trembled slightly. “Just for reference. We sort of heard of this agency called Torchhoof? And—“

“How could you have heard about Torchhoof?” Chrono snapped, his tone slightly bitter with a bit of defensiveness.

“So it does exist!” Star grinned manically, the look in her eye almost accusing.

“What have you been told?!” Copper growled, glaring. This was not looking good. Atom considered standing and bolting for the door.

“We haven’t been told anything, I swear!” He cried, a bit defensively. “We just- we sort of- we may or may not have overheard a conversation!”

“Jesus Christ. I was hoping this wouldn't happen…” Copper rubbed her face with her hooves, sighing with deep exasperation. “We’ll tell you when other ponies are out of earshot, since obviously it’s too late to deny anything. You may be in a lot of trouble. Just… let’s try to enjoy the meal for now, alright?”

Atom swallowed hard, he and Star remaining nearly silent for the rest of the meal.


Four sets of hooves trotted down the halls. The first pair stomped confidently, most certainly on business. And the last two scurried along hesitantly, nervously. The four sets soon came to a large glass door, which it appeared opened automatically since it did so as they approached it, and promptly entered.

“Welcome to Torchhoof,” Copper introduced, stepping into the room. It was littered with computers, a few ponies working on them while others wrote on boards and doing what other jobs they had to do. One pony was working with electricity, another scribbling on a board and debating a counterpart of his.

Atom watched in awe; it was like a huge lab.

“Where… this is Torchhoof..?”

“Yeah. Welcome to the theory room.” Copper suddenly turned to another pony, the one with the electricity. “Oi! Wire! Did you get Clockwork on the line?”

“Not quite, but I did you one better!” The yellow pony hopped over to a small staircase, leading up to a platform with some sort of control panel. He flipped on the large, overhead screen that sat above it on the wall. For a moment, what Atom assumed to be the Torchhoof logo appeared on the screen- A large T, backed by a metallic grey, with “Torchhoof” scrawled neatly at the bottom was the first thing to great them. The motto “Everywhere and nowhere” was displayed as well. Copper approached the platform, Chrono flanking her and Star and Atom following cautiously behind. Suddenly, the screen fizzled, the Torchhoof logo and all that surrounded it wavering, and static cut into a video transmission.

A lovely white alicorn with a rainbow colored mane in the hues of the rainbow sat on the screen before them, her violet eyes soft and intent. Everyone in the room bowed before the screen, though Star looked around nervously for a moment before clumsily bowing; she obviously didn’t know that this was Princess Celestia.

“Your Highness,” Copper said finally. “To what do we owe this honor?”

“Your own head of the agency could not be bothered for a video conference, sadly. He’s very busy, after all,” Celestia replied, nodding respectfully. “You needed something, however?”

“Uh, yes! Yes we did!” Copper looked around, and motioned quickly with her head for Star and Atom to join her at the forefront. “These two friends of mine seem to have stumbled across the existence of Torchhoof,” she explained. “What do you suggest? Should we take them in to the agency, or…?”

“Should they wish to join, I certainly permit you to give them the option. But you two—what are your names?”

“Y-Your Highness, I’m Atom. Atom Insight. And I assure you, this is the greatest honor.” Atom bowed again respectfully, and Star’s eyes darted about nervously.

“Uh—I’m Star Chaser. Hi?”

“Bow, Star,” Atom growled anxiously through gritted teeth.

“Oh, right!” Quickly, Star bowed, her jaw knocking into the floor in her haste. She bit back the pain rather than voice it.
“The pleasure’s mine, Star and Atom. You can rise now.”

Tentatively, the two ponies returned to their normal standing positions.

“I will be needing to swear you to secrecy. You don’t have to join if you don’t want to, but you must promise not to breathe a word of this organizations existence. Can you do that?”

“Yes ma’am! Of course!” Atom nodded eagerly, tossing a glance at Star.

“Uh, yeah. I can do that. Who would I tell anyways?”

“Tell me, Star,” Celestia began. “What do you do for a living? Certainly you’re not from Cloudsdale. Your accent is too reminiscent of Ponyville.”

“Uh, well—I travel, ma’am. That’s about it.”

“How do you sustain yourself?”

Star shrugged, abashed, and stared off to the side for a moment.

“I’ve never really needed to, ma’am,” she replied. “I usually just… leech off of someone else, I suppose. Never very long, and never very consequentially, but… You know…”

“A wayward vagabond. I see.” Celestia thought for a moment. “Copernican, why don’t you have her assist you on case number 413? I’m certain she and her companion would be quite a bit of help.”

“Are you kidding me? They’re practically children in comparison to the whole of Torchhoof! I’d sooner have Queenside help me than them!” Copper rebutted, completely taken aback by Celestia’s words.

“Calm yourself, Copernican. You and Chronology could use all the help you can get. Take them on to the case, or I shall obtain Clockwork’s opinion on the matter. And he will most certainly agree with me.”

“Yes, your highness,” Copper grumbled, looking away resentfully.

“Good. I fully expect you to debrief them on the matter, or you will be dropped from the case.”

Copper opened her mouth to protest, but was quickly cut off.

“Thank you for your time. Carry on.” The transmission cut, and the ponies in the room went about their business like a chance to talk to the princess was nothing. Scornfully, Copper put on her best glare face and turned to Star and Atom. The ginger pony jumped back slightly at the agent’s expression, settling only when the expression disappeared as Chrono was by Copper’s side to calm her.

“Alright, listen here. If you’re going to help me on this, you’re going to do it right.”

Debriefing Period

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“The whole of Torchhoof and possible Equestria itself is now depending on you,” Chrono reminded, trotting up beside Copper. “We will now need your full cooperation on this case; the consequences for you could be just as dastardly as the consequences for everyone else would be dangerous.”

Atom swallowed hard, glancing around. This was a lot of pressure for a librarian from Hoofington! Star, on the other hoof, just stood her ground, albeit scowling slightly.

“You’re to help us on case 413,” Copper explained, her tone dripping in seriousness and the urgency of the situation. “Or, as many in the Theory Room like to call it, The Hush Sound.”

Looking quizzically from Star, to Chrono, and back to Copper, Atom quirked an eyebrow. “The Hush Sound?”

“This is going to take a lot of explaining,” groaned Chrono, and Copper trotted over to a pony of a dark blue color—navy, darker than Star’s coat by far—and a mane of a slight silver color.

“Neb, can you please explain to our two… assistants here—“ she practically spat out with word ‘assistants’ “—the situation with the Capella system?”

The stallion nodded, nodding to the two to join him at the large pin board that held a map of the stars for all to see. As he turned, his flank displayed his clearly visible Cutie Mark, one nearly identical to Star’s in all but color- his was, instead, a bright green.

“Your, um… Your Cutie Mark, sir,” Star lifted a hoof, gesturing towards to stallion’s flank. “It’s just like mine.”

“Ah, yes, well, I have a very generic Cutie Mark for my people,” Neb explained. “You see, I’m a Nymph. We come from the stars. All manner of species are welcome here in Torchhoof, from Earth or elsewhere. Your cutie mark, though, is white—that’s not possible in our species.” He laughed slightly. “So if my little speech had you worried that you may not be from exactly where you thought, rest assured, it’s surely a coincidence.”

Copper nodded, acknowledging the end of his words and urging him to continue his explanation.

“Ah, right! Well, here’s where I come in. You see, the Nymphs come from a planet called Gables in the binary Capella system.” He pointed to a star on the map, and then gestured to another not far away. “We don’t share the system with anyone else, but we do share the constellation, and with many other systems at that… and the only other notable empire would be the Dorian empire in the Menkalinan system. And here’s where our case starts.

“Not much is known about the Dorian empire, not really. But what we do know is a tad bit terrifying. They’re an advanced civilization with a lot of cybernetic technology, and most of their work has been done in science rather than magic. Then again, they didn’t need to advance much in the magic department. The good majority of Dorian citizens are alicorns. And Equestria and the whole of Earth is facing an invasion from a race we’ve come to know as the Hush Sound. We call them that because of how hushed their race seems to be about all other aspects,” Neb continued. “We don’t know their language, their culture, even the names of their moons!”

“So if we’re facing an invasion, how do we expect to communicate if we don’t even speak the same language?” Atom inquired.

“Now see, I’ve been a particularly huge help there,” Chrono started, cutting into the conversation. “I’ve helped them develop a nationwide language translation circuit. Radio signals that broadcast across Equestria- across the Earth, even. Gallopfreyan technology amplified with the help of Torchhoof’s very own Live Wire.”

The yellow pony turned his head away from his experiments, giving a big wave before receiving a small shock from the electricity he’d been toying with—a small reprimanding for his carelessness an negligence. Copper let out a stifled giggled, and Chrono a soft chuckle, as though his imprecision were an inside joke, a frequently occurring event.

Chrono turned back to the subjects of his lecture, clearing his throat and straightening his bowtie as he continued. “As you can see, this is clearly a situation in which we need plenty of help. The Hush Sound, as it were, was once staved off by a fellow Gallopfreyan pony—Clockwork, or the Doctor, or even Doctor Whooves to some members of Torchhoof and a select few civilians that have had the privilege of meeting him. However, he’s been unavailable for questioning on the subject matter—running in and out of Torchhoof, leaving us with responsibilities as he travels about. Honestly, the nerve of it—adding him to the board was a severe mistake, in my opinion.” Chrono voiced his mind with obvious distaste, and earned himself a hard punch to the shoulder from an aggravated Copper, the mare forcing the Time Pony to rub his shoulder a bit melodramatically.

Atom spoke up suddenly—“Um, what’s ‘Gallopfreyan’? Even in all my studies, I’ve yet to come across so much as a myth. It’s a bit new to me.”

“Gallopfrey,” Chrono began, “Is a planet of great civilization and science, of travelers and Time Ponies, far from here. Was, actually. The planet fell to ruins, only a select few getting out of it all alive. The Last Great Time War brought us to ruins. In fact, only four Time Ponies register as living in the Torchhoof database- the rest, rendered deceased.”

“Only four?” Star shuddered slightly, pushing the thoughts of bloodshed and calamity from her mind.

“Yes, four. Clockwork, Chronology Clock—myself, that is—Time Table, and Misallarous. As a whole, we weren’t too familiar with each other in the Academy. All of us entered different majors, left on different paths. It is perhaps a blessing, I suppose, that Torchhoof could bring us all together. Though, I can’t say I’m entirely fond of Clockwork’s infamy. It is true that we’ve made enemies—Gallopfreyans should be made to keep a low profile.”

“Chrono’s never been too entirely fond of Clockwork. But, considering Clockwork is his higher,” Copper explained, words coming out through gritted teeth, “He still respects him whether he’s around or not.”

Chrono shrunk back slightly, surrendering to the underlying tone of castigation in Copper’s voice.

“What about you?” Atom inquired further. “Where do you fall into place in all this, Copper?”

“Me? I’m just a normal Pegasus,” the mare explained. “I ran into Chrono when he made his decent into Equestria—Fob Watched in the beginning, of course. Made a normal earth pony through the Chameleon Circuit in his TARDIS to avoid the war. He ran away the day it started, and came to the Nerd Herd looking for a job in computer programming. He was damn brilliant at it, too.”

Chrono shrugged slightly, looking off to the side—the situation was obviously not one he enjoyed talking about, certainly not when his cowardice could not be masked.

“Right, well, that’s enough chit-chat for now. Onto mission specifics.” Chrono was quick to cut in, obviously displeased with the conversation already. “You two are going to hunt for an Artifact.”

“Like the kind in a museum?”

“No. Like the supernatural kind. An Artifact—do note the emphasis there—is an object with powers beyond its supposedly initial parameters. For instance, an ordinary book with the power to tell the future would be an Artifact. We’ve even had a cat be an artifact, one that granted wishes for a usually deadly price. Generally, we tend to keep a close hold on them, storing them in a Government warehouse and keeping them out of public reach or knowledge. For the safety of our nation’s civilians, of course.”

“Right, okay, so what do you expect us to do, go to the warehouse and say, ‘Oh, hey, a pony from outer space asked us to come and get a horridly dangerous Artifact from you guys to prevent an alien invasion, would you mind just handing it over?’ Yes, that’ll work, no chance we’ll be thrown into an asylum!” Star sassed the Time Pony, her disregard for his general authority showing, as usual.

“No, heavens no, of course not. If we had it on hoof, we’d send you over there with proper warrants and paperwork. Actually, if we had it, we wouldn’t need you at all. This one, however, has managed to escape our grasp for once. We’d like you to hunt it down.”

“Trained government professionals couldn’t even find it,” Atom rebutted, “And you expect us to? A librarian and an alien who’ve only just met. We’re not the best of teams to be sending on an expedition like this.”

“This Artifact is not in fact dangerous,” explained Chrono. “We’ve had no need till now to recover it. No one has ever made an effort—in fact, it’s only been legend to us till now.”

“We’d like you to find the Earthly Body. We’ve asked Princess Celestia about it before, but she generally tends to shy away from the question. So we recommend you two read up on your mythology instead.” Copper gave a small, but genuine smile. “If anyone can do it, we expect it’s you two. You’ve got an excellent dynamic, and you’re both quite clever. Believe me, I trust you two fully.”

Star was slightly taken aback; clever? Her, clever? That was certainly a new one. Ecstatic, creative, sassy, sure—she’d heard those a million times, and had no trouble believing them. But when clever?

“We’ve only just met, but Atom seems to have taken a liking to you,” the lavender mare continued, directing her attention to Star now. She reached up to straighten her ponytail and misaligned her fez in the process. “You are clever, I can tell, even if a lot of that goes to waste with common sense dulled by such an energetic personality.” She laughed only slightly, clearly teasing.

“Right, well, do you suppose you’d recommend the Canterlot Library then? For research, I mean.” Atom cut into the conversation quite suddenly, clearly trying to avoid a pissing contest between the two.

“It is the best location for any research in Canterlot, if not in the whole of Equestria. Go for it,” Copper replied.

Chrono slipped off for a moment, only to return in no time at all with two slips of paper, handing them to the two accordingly. “Library passes,” he explained. “You’ll need these certified ones to get into some of the upper sections of the library. Canterlot Library is not a fully public resource, after all. Only the basic levels are available to civilians.”

“Got it.” Atom stared down at the pass; this was literally all he could ask for—books and information were his passion, after all. With something like this, he was happier than a kid on Christmas. “How long do these last? One visit? Till we find the Artifact?”

“Uh- well.” Chrono exchanged a nervous glance with Copper; he’d not been expecting a question like that. “As long as you want it to, I suppose. There’s no expiration date and no reason why we should take it away from you.”

Atom grinned widely, exchanging a quick, excited glance with Star. Copper shook her head before speaking up.

“Alright. Go. Have fun, kids, and remember your mission.”